GLENDALE, Ariz. — South Carolina coach Frank Martin is feeling a bit under the weather.
“Luckily I don’t have to play,” he said Thursday.
That’s the bright side of the bug that is making its way through the team. The down side? That leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell is suffering from the same illness and had to miss the team’s first practice at University of Phoenix Stadium. He had a fever when the team landed on Wednesday night.
“I kind of told our trainers, just feed him fluids, do what doctors do and let him rest rather than stress him right now,” Martin said. “ . . . He’s our most intelligent player. He understands basketball at a high, high level. He doesn’t need to be on the practice court to understand what we’re doing.”
His presence was missed. “Of course we missed him. We missed his voice and his leadership,” said freshman guard Rakym Felder, who sat next to Thornwell on the plane. “He’s a guy who you always want to be around and help. Obviously as a freshman, I depend on him, so I missed him a little bit today.”
Felder said he didn’t notice that Thornwell was sick. “I just noticed he was asleep,” he said. “He was snoring right in my ear.”
Just because Thornwell was unable to practice doesn’t mean he won’t play. “He’s a warrior,” Felder said. “He’s going to be out on the court. He has a lot of heart.”
Bell’s viral blocks
Ever since Saturday, the Internet has been having fun with Jordan Bell. The 6-9 Oregon forward blocked eight shots against Kansas and spawned a series of memes and gifs that include him swatting away everything from asteroids to lightning bolts.
“He showed me, so I saw a few of them,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said Thursday. “Those guys like it and he’s pretty excited about it. I hope he can get a few on Saturday.”
Kansas guard Frank Mason III and Gonzaga coach Mark Few were named The Associated Press player and coach of the year. Mason is the first player from Kansas to win the award in its 57-year history . . . It’s not only the shooters who have to get used to the dimensions at University of Phoenix Stadium. “It’s a monster out there,” Martin said of the football stadium converted to a basketball arena with a raised court. “I’m just glad I had a stool [on the sideline]. I was afraid I was going to fall off the court there.” . . . Former Laker Kobe Bryant spent time giving a pep talk to Gonzaga and Oregon on Wednesday night . . . Oregon forward Dillon Brooks said he grew up rooting for North Carolina. “I was a Tar Heel,” he said. “But since I’m at Oregon, I love Oregon and I love being a Duck.”