Familiarity reigns as Oregon, Oklahoma State prepare to play

first_imgOMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Oregon coach Dana Altman walked through the corridors of the CenturyLink Center on Thursday, a sense of familiarity washing over him with every hug and handshake.Altman spent 16 seasons at Creighton, the last half of them with Bluejays making their home at the glitzy riverfront arena. Now he is back with the eighth-seeded Ducks as they prepare to open the NCAA Tournament against ninth-seeded Oklahoma State in the West Region on Friday night.“Coach is real excited,” the Ducks’ Elgin Cook said with a smile. “He coached here for so long, the least we can do is come out and play hard for him.”Altman grew up in the small town of Wilber, about 90 miles southwest of the arena. Much of his family still lives in the area, a big reason he had more than 50 ticket requests.“It’s great to be back,” he said, pausing. “And it’ll be great if we win.”No sure thing in part because of, well, familiarity.The Ducks (25-9) played the Cowboys (18-13) just two years ago in the NCAA Tournament. And while the teams are vastly different in terms of personnel — Oregon without a single player still on its roster from that game — their coaching staffs are largely the same.That means Altman and Oklahoma State counterpart Travis Ford should be well-prepared.“I think both teams do have a few things very similar,” Ford acknowledged. “The teams are different, but there’s familiarity. When the names popped up there, you know, ‘Oregon!’ And I’m sure they said, ‘Oh, Oklahoma State again.’ Just familiar.”The teams also are similar in style and substance.Both are perimeter-oriented, their guards capable of scoring in bunches. Both have struggled in the paint, with their lack of size contributing to terrible rebounding stats. And both went through stretches this season where the challenge of earning an at-large bid was daunting.For the Ducks, it was early in the season, when they lost three of their first five games. For the Cowboys, it was late in the season, when they lost six of their last seven.“We haven’t played or probably succeeded as well as we’d have liked lately,” Ford said, “but this is a brand new opportunity for our team to play.”There is one big difference between that game two years ago. The Cowboys were a No. 5 seed with massive expectations back then, and the 12th-seeded Ducks pulled the upset.“This is an eight-nine game,” said Le’Bryan Nash, the Cowboys’ leading scorer. “They think we’re equal, so it’s anybody’s game.”WHO’S NEXT: The downside of being in an eight-nine game is the likelihood that a No. 1 seed awaits the winner. In this case, that could be Big Ten champion Wisconsin. The Badgers play No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina in their opener Friday night.AWKWARD REUNION: Oregon star Joseph Young played two seasons at Houston for coach James Dickey, but transferred when his father, Michael Young, was reassigned from his job as director of basketball operations for the Cougars to a largely meaningless public relations position.Dickey later resigned, and joined the Cowboys’ staff as an assistant last spring.“He’s a good coach. It’s not about that,” Young said of seeing Dickey again. “That’s just another thing, something that happened a long time ago. It’s over with.”NO REGRETS: Many thought Nash, a highly decorated prep player, would jet to the NBA after one season. Turns out, so did he. But here he is, a senior still wearing black and orange.“To be honest, I was caught up on the hype that everybody else had for me,” he said. “But I’m glad, I’m blessed. And I still have an opportunity to get better.”COBBINS’ COMEBACK: Cowboys forward Michael Cobbins missed the NCAA Tournament a year ago after tearing his Achilles tendon prior to Big 12 play. He returned this season to lead Oklahoma State in rebounding, despite the 6-foot-8 senior often facing bigger opposition.“It’s a little overwhelming, really emotion, but just a humbling feeling as well,” Cobbins said, “and a sense of excitement, just to be back out here with all of these guys.”HELPING HAND: Altman spoke to Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, his longtime friend, shortly after the brackets were revealed Sunday. The Sooners swept the Cowboys in three matchups this season.“Our teams play differently,” Altman said, “so I’m not sure there’s much we can get from Oklahoma’s series. … He’s got his own game to worry about. He’s not too worried about mine.”last_img read more


For Logan Mize and Jill Martin, Saturday’s performance in Wellington will be a family affair

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Country music fans will be in for a rare treat this Saturday in Wellington when the husband and wife team Logan Mize and Jill Martin get together on stage. This will be their one-time monthly performance together and it may be a while before they do so again.Mize is about to embark on a two-week European tour and will be leaving next week. So Saturday night will be a special evening when the doors open at 7 p.m. with the show following at 8 p.m. Jason Boyd will be the opening act. All proceeds go toward the Memorial Auditorium air conditioning fund.This has been par for the course for the country music duo, who have each enjoyed success in the own right in the country music circuit. Still, life has a way of altering careers. Martin, at one point, was hoping to become a full-time country music star but has instead decided to raise two children in Clearwater.  Mize, who is in high demand, takes to the road performing with his band as a full-time gig.“I have always wanted to sing, and in some ways, I need to sing,” Martin said from her home. “But my children come first. So when I do sing, it is an all-family affair.”Mize is about to embark on a European tour. He will be in the United Kingdom for six shows starting on Oct. 18. He will then perform in Germany for five shows, before singing in Amsterdam, Netherlands on Nov. 1.He won’t return to the U.S. until November where his first gig back in his home country will be in Bloomington, Ill. on Nov. 13.Logan Mize and his wife performed at the 2015 Kansas Wheat Festival in Wellington – still considered one of the highest attended Festival events in history.At one point both of them had set their sights to become country music stars. Jill is from Andale. Logan is from Clearwater. Neither of them met growing up in Kansas, but both ventured their way to Nashville in hopes of fulfilling their dreams.“It was weird. In 2009, friends in Nashville were telling me to meet this guy from Kansas,” Jill said. “I just wasn’t going to call him out of the blue because he was from Kansas. So we started communicating through Facebook. He was mowing lawns and living out of a Suburban. I was a nurse doing sonograms”Soon they started writing songs together and eventually they fell in love. She went on American Idol and made it to Hollywood week one year. It wasn’t too much later she discovered she was pregnant.Today, as their children get older, they have started to rekindle their songwriting partnership.This will mark their third performance in Wellington together. Mize performed in July, 2015 in front of a crowd of over 2000 people at the Kansas Wheat Festival. Then they were at Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 8, 2016.“Anytime we perform a concert together we consider it a date night,” Martin said. “We don’t go out to movies or go out for a big dinner, so when we go out we perform together.”Lately, Martin has seen success. In 2018, she released “The Locals” which debuted at #7 on iTunes. Her album peaked at #49 on Billboard’s Country Album Sales chart.Martin said she writes songs from a motherhood perspective, something sorely missing in today’s country music.“I think country music is missing a viewpoint today,” Martin said on her website https://www.jillmartinmusic.com/. “All these dudes are singing about small-town girls, but I miss hearing it from the girl’s perspective.” Her song “Loretta” is an ode to Lorette Lynn and the struggles of the everyday woman.As for Logan, his audience continues to grow especially on foreign soil. This will be a fourth time in Europe after opening for LeAnn Rimes.“They think a lot of these shows are going to sell out or are on pace to sell out, so Logan is excited about that,” Martin said. “The promoters are really working hard, and his records are getting played.”Europe is not a hotbed for country music, but the fans are falling in love for his lyrical songs.“They are really into lyrics,” Martin said. “When he first went over there, they were surprised that he didn’t wear a cowboy hat or do line dances. But, then they discovered his lyrics and that has really taken off.”Follow us on Facebook.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! 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