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March 31, 1993|Associated Press

As sixth men go, 6-foot-4 Steve Woodberry of Kansas is every coach's dream come true.

The junior swingman can shoot three-pointers and goes inside as well. He scores, passes, rebounds and plays defense with ferocity. An 87% free-throw shooter, he will have his hands on the ball if Saturday's NCAA semifinal against North Carolina is close at the end.

Attitude, however, might be his greatest gift. In this taunting, teasing, showboating age of in-your-face dunks, Woodberry is only too happy to help form the human chain of hand-slappers that ushers the starters onto center stage.

While Rex Walters and Adonis Jordan bow to the roar of the crowd, Woodberry waits his turn.

"It's never bothered me," he said. "I play. That's what matters."

In Midwest Regional victories last week over Cal and Indiana, Woodberry scored 22 points and made 11 of 11 free throws. In four tournament games, he is shooting 59.1% and averaging one turnover every 20 minutes.

"Steve's great asset is he always is so in tune with what the team needs and what he needs to do to take us to another level," Walters said. "He's not a dominating presence physically. But he's so intelligent."

"He does come off the bench, but if you notice, he's always in the game at crunch time," Coach Roy Williams said. "He's going to play his 25-30 minutes regardless. At worst, he's our third-best outside shooter. At worst, he's our third-best assist guy. He's the best defender, in terms of the total game, whom I've coached in five years at Kansas."

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