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College Basketball / NCAA Tournament | NOTES

Sprained Ankle Might Keep Wheat on Bench

March 23, 1997|GEORGE DOHRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Louisville point guard DeJuan Wheat did not practice Saturday and is doubtful for today's East Regional final against top-seeded North Carolina because of a severely sprained ankle.

The Cardinals' leading scorer walked with one crutch as he watched practice and will likely miss the first game of his four-year career after 135 consecutive starts.

"Based on how he looked [Saturday] it's unlikely he'll go," said Denny Crum, coach of the sixth-seeded Cardinals. "But with kids you'll never know. They're working on him day and night and it just depends on how fast he heals."

Wheat injured his left ankle while attempting a three-point shot with 15:52 left in the Cardinals' victory over Texas on Friday. Crum said his replacement would be senior B.J. Flynn, normally a shooting guard off the bench.

Flynn was a walk-on who earned a scholarship this season. He has 53 assists and 51 turnovers in 33 games, compared to Wheat's 141 assists and 88 turnovers in 34 games.

"The way [DeJuan] is walking I don't think he's going to play," Flynn said. "But this is a challenge for us and I think I am going to step up and meet the challenge."

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A neuroscientist is getting credit for the performances of Louisville guard Alvin Sims and forward Damion Dantzler in Friday's victory over Texas.

Crum suggested the pair begin sessions with Steve Haladay, a counselor from Louisville. Crum said Haladay specializes in neuroscience-the study of brain research such as learning and memory.

"They were having problems with their mental approach to the game," Crum said. "Your body plays the way your mind tells it to, and its not uncommon to go see a counselor. He is not a psychologist. He studies neuroscience."

Sims scored a career-high 25 and Dantzler a season-best 17 against the Longhorns.

"He has a way of bringing out your inner self and helping you focus, " Sims said.

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