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San Antonio Kareem Rush really wants to see his baby brother play basketball tonight on the country's biggest stage.
"He's going to get fined for missing his game tomorrow to come down here," said Kansas University junior Brandon Rush, who'll start at small forward in tonight's national title game against Memphis (8:21 p.m., Alamodome).
Actually, Kareem, a guard with the Indiana Pacers, played against Milwaukee on Sunday night in Indianapolis and doesn't have another game until Tuesday, so if he's fined it'd be for missing a practice, not a game.
Whatever the case, Brandon Rush will be happy for the support of not only former Missouri player Kareem, but brother JaRon, who played at UCLA and who now lives in the Rushes' hometown of Kansas City, Mo.
"They haven't been here, so I've got the edge on them. I talked to JaRon last night and gave him an earful about how I got here first and stuff like that," Brandon said of JaRon's never making it past the Sweet 16; Kareem made it once to the Elite Eight.
"They haven't given me any experience points at all on what to do. (But) they've supported me a lot. It's good to see my family here in the stands," added Brandon Rush, whose mom and grandmother also are in San Antonio.
Rush - he reiterated at Sunday's media session he would have stayed in the draft last year had he not torn his ACL - indicated the injury was a "blessing in disguise" because he's having a blast in the 2008 NCAAs.
"It's been fun playing with these guys. Ever since I was in rehab (last summer), they've been pushing me and helping me, showing how much love they have for me," said Rush, who is considered a lock to enter the 2008 NBA Draft.
"This is what I came back for. I thought about it the whole time in rehab. It's what kept pushing me in the rehab room, working harder and harder each day."
The 6-foot-6 Rush likely will draw the defensive assignment on 6-7 Chris Douglas-Roberts, who enters with an 18-points-a-game scoring average.
"I love being in that role, trying to limit one of the star players," Rush said. "I know he's probably going to get his points, but I will try to make him work for them because I think he's going to be a tough matchup."
Of the game, Rush said: "I think it'll come down to who makes the key stop at the end. We're both great on the offensive end, but we've got a defensive edge to us because we like to pressure a lot, and they like to contain a little bit."
It officially will be the last game for seniors Russell Robinson, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Jeremy Case and the injured Rodrick Stewart, with it likely the last game for Rush and sophomore Darrell Arthur, who also is expected to turn pro. Junior Mario Chalmers and sophomore Sherron Collins possibly could be back.
"We've definitely thought about that a lot because it's the last time everybody will be on the court together with the same group of guys," Rush said. "We definitely want to leave out of here with something on our shoulders with the championship (trophy)."