DETROIT (AP) — Russell Robinson and his Kansas teammates are duly impressed with Davidson shooting star Stephen Curry.
Then again, Russell believes he sees the nation's best guards every time his Jayhawks practice.
"Honestly, I think we have the best backcourt in the country. We can get after it at both ends of the court," he said Saturday. "They're playing really well right now. But I still think we're the best."
Robinson and top-seeded Kansas play Curry and 10th-seeded Davidson in the Midwest Regional final Sunday.
Robinson's second-skin defense helped hold Villanova star Scottie Reynolds to 11 points in Kansas' 72-57 win Friday night. Reynolds was 4-for-13 from the field with four turnovers and no assists.
Meanwhile, Robinson had 15 points and a game-high five assists. He was 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
"In practice he knows what move I want to make before I do it," teammate Jeremy Case said of his fellow senior. "When Russ goes against other players, he studies a lot of film and tries to take their favorite moves away. He's a really strong guy. And he thinks like a coach."
Kansas' Sasha Kaun calls Russell the best defender he's seen.
"He can definitely stop people. And I think he'll do just fine against Curry. He did a phenomenal job against Reynolds. And he has such quick hands, he makes things difficult for other guards," he said.
Robinson knows Curry has scored 103 points in three tournament games, including 77 in the second half. But it could harder for Curry to launch quick 3s with Robinson staying close.
"Curry and Reynolds are similar players," Robinson said. "Reynolds is great handling the ball and getting his shot. Curry is a lot the same way, but Curry has a better supporting cast. That makes him harder to stop."
HARD TO CURRY FAVOR WITH MOM:@ After scoring 40 points against Gonzaga, 35 against Georgetown and 33 on Wisconsin, much was made of the skills Stephen Curry inherited from his dad, former NBA marksman Dell Curry.
On Saturday at Ford Field, the Davidson star thanked his mom for making him a more complete player.
"I think my dad gives a lot of credit to her for my play at the defensive end," Curry said. "There have been plenty of jokes about him taking plays off. So my defensive aggression comes from her. She doesn't let me slip up. She'll be right there on the sidelines, yelling. I can hit all the shots I want, but if I let my man score, I'll hear about it. She'll say, 'You had a horrible game.'"
With as quick a release as the college game has seen in many seasons, "Curry in a Hurry" — or "Prime Time," as his teammates prefer — insists on playing down his role and sharing the glory.
"It's nothing special I'm doing," Curry said. "We're just reaping the benefit of our system."
Even his teammates got a chuckle out of that one.
"I think he's lying," point guard and NCAA assists leader Jason Richards said. "He gives a lot of credit to the rest of the team, and that shows what kind of guy he is."
"Steph's parents did a great job with him," forward Thomas Sander said. "His dad was a great example to him and taught him to be humble. Responding to that question the way he did, I don't know how many guys can do that."
MAKING THE CUT:@ Memphis coach John Calipari and Texas coach Rick Barnes go way back as friends. Some 30 years even, to when Barnes was sporting hair long enough to pull into a pony tail.
Or at least that's how Calipari described it.
"Whatever I was doing, I could promise you, it was in style," Barnes said Saturday, a day before the South Regional in Houston.
The two first met when Calipari attended a basketball camp at the University of Pittsburgh where Barnes was a young counselor. Back in those days, Barnes was still trying to break into college coaching, driving his 1959 Volkswagen wherever he needed to go for gig.
"Often times I just had the hand brake, but it got me where I needed to go," Barnes said.
The two coaches now talk every week, Calipari said.
"He's the first guy that talked to me when I was coaching (at Massachusetts) and I said, "Rick, we stink on defense."
Barnes asked him what he was doing and Calipari drew up a list of things he tried to emphasize. There were 47 in all.
Barnes took one look at it and his first advice was to drastically trim it back. Find a few areas to excel, Barnes said.
"He said that's all great for a clinic," Calipari said. "So from that point on, we emphasized four or five things defensively that we are going to be good at. And that started with Rick Barnes, and I hope that defense beats him tomorrow."
TYLER AT THE TOP:@ Tyler Hansbrough's dominant season has already ensured he'll have his number retired at North Carolina. The 6-foot-9 junior is third in career scoring at the school and has shattered numerous free throw records.
Hansbrough led the top-seeded Tar Heels into the East Regional final Saturday night against Louisville. But the questions persist about how effective Hansbrough will be as an NBA player, playing his back-to-the-basket style against bigger players.
Coach Roy Williams said he hasn't had specific discussions with NBA personnel about whether it would be wise for Hansbrough to turn pro after this season.
"I haven't had any conversations with a very pointed purpose of trying to determine where he is," Williams said. "I have discussions with the NBA people all the time about players, different players, our players."
Williams chuckles when he hears the concerns about Hansbrough at the next level.
"Whenever the young man decides to go he's going to be a No. 1 draft choice," Williams said. Whenever you're a No. 1 draft choice who works as hard as he does, and knowing Tyler the way I know him, he's going to make it 10 or 12 years as an NBA player and probably make $25-50 million. So he's really got a bad road in front of him."
Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who has coached in the NBA, also believes Hansbrough will make a good pro.
"I think he's going to be a great NBA player because he brings it on every possession," Pitino said. "Four (games) in five nights, players get tired, so you look for guys like Tyler Hansbrough, guys that are not going to take possessions off. They're few and far between."
BIG-NAME ASSISTANTS:@ Rick Pitino used to avoid hiring former pro players as assistant coaches.
"You usually don't like to hire an NBA guy because NBA guys don't like to come in at 6:30 (a.m.), work until 8 at night," the Louisville coach said. "They're used to Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons hotels, not the hotels we stay in."
But Pitino took a chance with Reggie Theus a few years ago. Theus was part of the staff for two seasons, including the Cardinals' run to the Final Four in 2005. Theus later become the head coach at New Mexico State and is now the coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Theus' success caused Pitino to change his mind. Now Walter McCarty, who played under Pitino with the Boston Celtics, is in his first season as a Louisville assistant.
"The great thing about hiring the NBA guys that I didn't know at the time that I took the gamble is the players look up to them," Pitino said. "And when they tell them that's not the way an NBA player acts, it really means something.
"Walt has been awesome for our basketball team because not only did he play 10 years in the NBA, but he did it with his attitude as much as his ability."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.