Blog from New Orleans: Self, players speak at podium, plus videos, photos and panoramic views from the Superdome
5:45 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Really cool video here from Journal-World photographer Mike Yoder that highlights Friday's activities at the Final Four.
With that, we're going to wrap up the live blog here from New Orleans.
Be sure to check back to KUsports.com for more coverage, including the GameDay Cram Session and live-game blog Saturday as KU attempts to advance to the national championship game.
5 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Journal-World photographer Nick Krug just posted his photo gallery from today's festivities.
Here are a few of the photos:
4:21 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Kansas guard Elijah Johnson had the quote of the day again today. This is from the transcript of his time at the podium:
Q. "The court feels like you're up on a stage. Could you talk about the court."
ELIJAH JOHNSON: "No, I actually did feel like I stepped onto a stage. I felt like I was about to rap (smiling).
"I guess you could say the light's on. The floor felt good. I don't know, it felt like a make-believe court. I don't know if it was because it was elevated or what, but the court just seemed longer.
"But I like it so far. I plan on having fun up there."
4:08 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Obviously, I'm sure KU fans couldn't help but think back to 2008 when guard Rodrick Stewart was injured while attempting a highlight-reel slam at the end of the Jayhawks' open practice at the Final Four.
3:53 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
KU just wrapped up its time on the court. KU coach Bill Self never does too much in these open practices, and this was no exception. KU stretched and then just had a low-key shoot-around — a workout that was much lighter than Ohio State's.
Self ended the practice 15 minutes early, then was interviewed briefly by CBS's Jim Nantz.
When asked about this year's success, Self told Nantz, "All teams like each other, but this team takes it to a whole other level."
Also, when Nantz asked Self to give a pep talk to all the KU fans in attendance, Self joked, "If they expect us to bring our 'A' game, then I think they all should have curfew by midnight tonight to bring their 'A' game."
3:33 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Wonder what it's like to be in KU's locker room during the Final Four?
3:26 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
SI.com's Luke Winn just posted an interesting blog about KU's best lineup combinations.
The data shows just how important it is for Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey to stay on the court together. To do that against Ohio State: 1. Robinson has to be able to guard Deshaun Thomas on the perimeter, and 2. Withey needs to stay out of foul trouble.
3:22 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Just posted the audio press conferences from ...
KU coach Bill Self and ...
3:07 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
CBS's Jim Nantz just announced Purdue's Robbie Hummel as the winner of the Lowe's Senior CLAS award. Purdue coach Matt Painter is here as well.
Audio from KU on the way ...
2:36 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Some notes from Ohio State's time at the podium:
• Jared Sullinger said that Thomas Robinson plays hard and plays smart. In his eyes, Robinson is the college player of the year. If you look at his season, the way he took his team to top, you've just got to look at him being that guy. He deserves everything that's come his way, and he's a good guy.
• Sullinger said he would have hurt Ohio State's team if he'd have played in December against Kansas. Sullinger was very stiff. Sullinger thinks KU would have attacked him all day on ball screens or in the post, because he was tiptoeing that day. Ohio State would rather risk a game early in season than in the NCAAs. It was the smartest decision for the basketball team.
• Aaron Craft says Sullinger may or may not have had impact on the KU-Ohio State in December. The team can't think Sulllinger is an instant fix for beating the Jayhawks. KU is a good basketball team, and it has gotten better since December.
• Sullinger says by coming back this season, he wanted to make a statement that not everybody is using college basketball as a pit stop before the NBA. There's more than money and endorsements. There are championships to win at every level. Sullinger has won championships at every level from elementary school until now.
• Sullinger says he's cool with Robinson. He's a great guy off the court. Everybody expects this big strong man with tattoos to be ultra-aggressive off the court. He's cool. He's very chill. He wants to always handle his business. At summer camps, Sullinger and Robinson were helping each other out, suggesting post moves to each other for certain situations.
2:05 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
About to head into interviews for both Ohio State and Kansas, but before that, I wanted to post a short stop motion video from the Buckeyes' practice today.
In the video, you can see about 2 1/2 minutes of Ohio State's practice in 10 seconds.
Ohio State, by the way, went pretty hard in its open practice. Typically, these types of practices aren't taken that seriously, but the Buckeyes were going full speed.
1:20 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Also, here's a panorama I shot from the court on Thursday with my iPhone. It's not perfectly lined up, but I think it gives you a good idea of what it's like to be on the court here (be sure to scroll up on the panorama as well).
1:15 p.m.: Update by Jesse Newell
Welcome back to the NCAA Tournament blog, coming live to you from the Superdome in New Orleans, site of this year's Final Four.
Here's the schedule for today:
1-1:50 p.m. — Ohio St. practice
2-2:15 p.m. — Coach Thad Matta interview
2:15-2:30 p.m. — Ohio State Student-Athlete interviews
2:30-2:45 p.m. — Kansas Student-Athletes interviews
2:45-3 p.m. — Coach Bill Self interview
3:10-4 p.m. — Kansas practice
That means Ohio State is practicing on the court in front of me right now:
A couple links to start off the blog:
• Nice column by Tom Keegan outlining why Thomas Robinson needs to step up his defense ...
• Five-minute statistical scouting report on Ohio State, if you haven't seen it yet.
We'll be back with updates throughout the day here, so be sure to keep checking back for more coverage from New Orleans.