The Latest: South Carolina star Thornwell battling bug
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Latest on preparations for the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
NCAA President Mark Emmert says the governing body of college sports needs to review North Carolina's move to roll back its ''bathroom bill'' that limited protections for LGBT people.
The bill had led the NCAA to strip the state of championship events.
Emmert said Thursday the plan is to have the board convene in the coming days in hopes of announcing a decision early next week.
''I'm personally very pleased that they have a bill to debate and discuss,'' Emmert said during his annual news conference at the Final Four. ''The politics of this in North Carolina are obviously very, very difficult. But they have passed a bill now and it'll be a great opportunity for our board to sit and debate and discuss it.''
North Carolina point guard Joel Berry II sounds like he plans to play in Saturday's national semifinals against Oregon despite battling injuries to each ankle.
Berry said he went through some halfcourt drills Thursday. Coach Roy Williams said he wants to see Berry handle full-court work on Friday before deciding on whether or how much he'll play.
''I'm feeling pretty good,'' Berry said. ''I'm getting close to 100 percent. Like I said, tomorrow's a big day for me getting up and down the court, and being full participation.''
Berry rolled his right ankle when he landed awkwardly on a 3-point shot in the first-round NCAA Tournament win against Texas Southern. He then rolled his left ankle on a drive in the first half of the Elite Eight win against Kentucky last weekend.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams had yet to hear details about his home state's decision to repeal a law limiting protections for LGBT people, which had led the NCAA to strip the state of championship events and endanger its chances of hosting more in the future.
But Williams has spoken against the so-called ''bathroom bill'' multiple times and said Thursday it was ''not just about athletics.'' Gov. Roy Cooper announced he had signed the compromise bill that was passed by the state legislature Thursday morning back in Raleigh.
''It was about more than just holding and hosting athletic events,'' Williams said during his news conference. ''To me, I always said to you I was very sad because I love the state of North Carolina. I think the people of North Carolina and the people that come live there are very proud, so that was my biggest stance on it.''
Gonzaga coach Mark Few wrote the foreword to his college roommate's book, ''Water the Bamboo.'' He also sees the book as a metaphor for his program's rise in prominence.
The book written by Greg Bell uses bamboo as a metaphor for success. Even with regular watering, giant timber bamboo takes three years to grow. Once it does, the bamboo will scale up to 90 feet in 60 days.
Gonzaga saw a similar spurt under Few, turning a bare bones program when he first got arrived in Spokane into a national powerhouse.
''It's about the process of preparation and physically, mentally showing up, doing your job with practice and focusing in on the things that you can control,'' Few said. ''We call that the process. And then eventually you're going to reap the rewards of that.''
Kelsey Plum had a historic season for Washington while Geno Auriemma did one of his best coaching jobs at UConn.
Both are overwhelming choices as The Associated Press women's basketball Player and Coach of the Year.
The news cooperative announced the awards Thursday at the women's Final Four in Dallas.
Plum broke the career NCAA scoring mark, topping Jackie Stiles' 16-year-old record in style with a 57-point effort on her senior night.
Auriemma laughed before the season at the notion his Huskies would be undefeated this year after losing three All-Americans to graduation.
Yet UConn met every challenge and enters the Final Four without a loss, winners of 111 straight games.
Kansas guard Frank Mason III and Gonzaga coach Mark Few have won The Associated Press player and coach of the year awards.
The awards were announced Thursday at the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.
Mason led Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 title. He received 37 votes Thursday from the same 65-member media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25.
Few has taken the Zags to the NCAA Tournament in all 18 of his seasons there. He was a runaway winner Thursday receiving 31 votes from the same 65-member media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.
Yes, South Carolina coach Frank Martin knows all about it.
In his words, it's 35 students, 27 desks, 18 textbooks, 180 days, and making sure all those kids get an education in that time frame.
Martin is a former high school math teacher, which he says has helped him keep things in perspective.
The game Saturday, he says, is against Gonzaga - not against the Final Four, the hugeness of the moment or the massive stadium the teams are playing in.
He says if the players do their best, that's all he can ask. And if they do their best and come up short, he'll have no problem with it.
South Carolina star Sindarius Thornwell is dealing with an illness two days before the Final Four.
Thornwell is not at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday due to what coach Frank Martin said was a ''little body bug'' and did not practice. Martin, who is battling a bug himself, says Thornwell is back at the hotel resting and hydrating.
The 6-foot-5 senior guard has led South Carolina to its first Final Four, practically carrying the Gamecocks by himself at times.
He's the leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament at 26 points per game and averaging 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2 steals per game.
The Final Four teams have begun their preparations in Arizona for the last three games of March Madness.
South Carolina, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Oregon are in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale ahead of two semifinal games on Saturday.
Players and coaches are meeting with reporters on Thursday to talk about what's ahead.
NCAA President Mark Emmert is also expected to speak with reporters on the heels of North Carolina moving to roll back its ''bathroom bill.'' State officials there hope the maneuver will help the state avoid another costly hit as the NCAA selects four years of championships for a variety of sports.
Also Thursday, The Associated Press will award its coach and player of the year awards in men's and women's hoops.
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