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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT

It's Nobody's Business but Mike Bibby's

Arizona: Wildcats' freshman guard opens up--on the court, that is, with barrage of damaging three-pointers.

March 30, 1997|GEORGE DOHRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Bibby is asked to give a family update several times a day, to talk about his mother, about his famous father, and a family life that he is not willing to discuss.

But Saturday in a tunnel under RCA Dome, Bibby finally indulged the masses, offering one tidbit after Arizona's 66-58 upset of North Carolina in the Final Four.

"I saw my mother one time in the middle of the game," Bibby said after scoring 17 second-half points--20 in the game--and willing the Wildcats into Monday's national championship game. "I was on the bench and I looked up into the crowd, and I saw her arm go up like she was trying to get my attention.

"I just waved and then went about my business."

His business was a barrage of three-point baskets in the second half, four of the Wildcats' final five field goals, and co-credit with backcourt mate Miles Simon for pushing Arizona past the Tar Heels.

"Someone had to step up, and that's the type of player he is," center A.J. Bramlett said. "He likes the limelight."

Bibby's finest moments came in the game's most crucial. With the score 50-42, and a little more than seven minutes remaining, the freshman point guard made the first of four consecutive three-point basket--a streak that awed even his teammates.

"I knew after he made the second one [with 5:38 left and the score 55-46] that he was getting hot," Bramlett said. "When he makes a few and gets hot he can score from anywhere."

After his second three-pointer from atop the key, he added another from the baseline with 4:41 left, and then converted again from the right side to give Arizona a nine-point lead with 2:24 on the clock.

"We tried to get up to Bibby," North Carolina Coach Dean Smith said. "One time we were slow, and I thought he forced a couple that went in. You can't stop them from shooting."

It was a credit to Bibby's confidence that he continued to shoot after going one for seven in the first half. He even missed his first two shots in the second half, and then was on the bench talking with freshman Josh Pastner.

Pastner is one of the players who helps Bibby after practice, when he shoots three-pointers and mid-range jumpers until he has made 300.

"Josh said to me, 'Don't worry, they will start falling.' " Bibby said. "So I just kept shooting. And, when my shots started going in I just thought in my head, 'Finally.' "

Bibby also, along with Michael Dickerson and Simon, helped neutralize the Tar Heels' size advantage up front. The trio had 18 rebounds.

"It was interesting after the game and the stats came in the locker room, and the first thing Mike Bibby poked me on the shoulder and said, 'Check, the boards, Coach,' " Olson said. "And he had seven defensive rebounds, and that really is very much the key. And then in the second half we didn't make a lot of mistakes with the ball."

Bibby had four turnovers in the first half, none in the second. He also held North Carolina point guard Ed Cota to one point after intermission.

"[Bibby] may be a freshman, but he was like a junior or senior today," Dickerson said.

Said Bibby: "I know every great team has a great point guard, and I was trying to be that today."

And for his effort was spared, for the most part, questions about his father, Henry, who is in Indianapolis, and who, according to Arizona forward Donnell Harris, met briefly with Mike on Friday.

"I don't have anything to say about that," Mike said.

But he had plenty to say about the Wildcats' victory, and his performance.

"I believe in fate," he said. "Things will happen if they happen. And they started to happen in the second half."

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