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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne SECOND THOUGHTS

Check Your Brackets; Who Picked the Most Cliches?

April 01, 2002|Chris Dufresne

ATLANTA — Tidbits, put-backs and tip-ins from the Final Four while wondering who sheds more tears this time of year, Kansas Coach Roy Williams or actress Halle Berry.

News item: Maryland favored in tonight's national title game against Indiana.

Second thought: These cliches just in, hot off the presses from Sunday's news conferences:

Maryland's Lonny Baxter: "Tomorrow we're just going to come out and give it our best shot. Everybody is going to play hard."

Indiana's Tom Coverdale: "We've got a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon these days that didn't believe this from Day One."

Indiana's Jarrad Odle: "You know, when it comes down to it, everybody puts the uniform on the same way."

Quote of the day: "You know."

Three things you'll be sick of hearing by halftime of tonight's CBS telecast: 1) References to these Hoosiers and the movie "Hoosiers," 2) Announcers talking about how much "heart" Indiana has shown, 3) "There's another timeout on the court."

Does Indiana really have a chance?

Well, of course. You can stuff all this gutty-little-underdog talk. Last time we checked, Indiana was 5-0 in national title games and recently knocked off the school, Duke, that has been the flashback in Maryland's recurring Final Four nightmare.

News item: Player matchups are the key in tonight's game.

Second thought: You bet they are, Billy Packer. Indiana's Dane Fife vs. Maryland's Juan Dixon is the best matchup involving guards since "The Longest Yard." The last two guys Fife defended, Kent State's Trevor Huffman and Oklahoma's Hollis Price, made a combined three of 18 shots. Dixon has been, by far, the most valuable player of the tournament and is coming off a 33-point game against Kansas.

Dixon on going against Fife: "I'm not worried at all, man. I'm just going to go out and play my game. I'm not talking trash, but that's just the type of person I am."

The other matchup to watch is Maryland power forward Chris Wilcox against Indiana star Jared Jeffries. Wilcox is an NBA player in waiting, a 6-foot-10 kid who is equal parts sprung steel and springboard.

The lanky Jeffries is a relative willow in the wind.

"We're a frail team," Jeffries concedes. "That's a given."

News item: Indiana Coach Mike Davis seeks to impress bosses and pad bank account.

Second thought: You have to admire the guy's honesty. Asked what winning the national title would mean to him, Davis said: "Well, I hope I get a raise."

News item: Indiana stuns Oklahoma in NCAA national semifinal game.

Second thought: No joke, these were the "breaking news" sports headlines on the Internet site for the Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock, the new hometown paper of Bob Knight: "Sabres 3, Flyers 1." "Nets 102, 76ers 92." "UConn Set to Be Part of History."

The paper's sports site did devote appropriate coverage to Indiana's upset win, although we hear Knight offered the editors a few headline suggestions:

"Heartbreaking Oklahoma Loss Doesn't Dampen Knight's Book Tour"

"Maryland Advances to Title Game; Will Face Big Ten School"

"Talent-Laden Indiana Nearly Loses to Plucky Oklahoma"

"Team Myles Brand's Mother Could Coach Defeats Hapless Sooners"

"Knight's 'Fab Five' Recruiting Class Overcomes Coaching Obstacles"

News item: Downtown Atlanta church makes plea for new pipe organ.

Second thought: You might call it a "Hardcourt Homily." At the end of Easter services at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, a female parishioner made a collections plea to help raise money for a new pipe organ. "If you're a Maryland or Indiana fan, we'll say a prayer for you," the woman said. "If you're a Kansas or Oklahoma fan, we'll say a prayer for a good recruiting class."

News item: Indiana advances to title game as No. 5-seeded team out of the South Regional.

Second thought: You think maybe No. 4 USC ought to be kicking itself?

News item: Indiana players irked former coach has not called to congratulate them.

Second thought: Jeffries said the thing that hurts most is Knight said he was recruiting "a person, not a basketball player."

As for Knight's legacy, Jeffries said: "We've already separated from his legacy. People have got to realize that there's nothing that ties this team with Coach Knight. Every one of us had the option to leave, and no one did. The Coach Knight era was good, but this is a new era."

No hard feelings, huh?

News item: Davis thrives on national stage.

Second thought: He didn't take any direct shots at Knight, but his digs were not-so-subtle.

Davis on coaching kids: "I have a 16-year-old son. I don't want people trying to intimidate him. I mean, I get on my guys a lot, and they know my personality. But I want my players to like me. I just feel like if they like you, they'll play hard for you."

Davis was an assistant under Knight, yet says his mentors are former Alabama coaches Wimp Sanderson and C.M. Newton.

"Coach Newton is a gentleman," said Davis, who played for both coaches. "You know, he taught me that you can do it without being embarrassing."

News item: Indiana players use other long-shot stories as motivation.

Second thought: Kyle Hornsby often watches videotapes his dad made of Villanova's upset over Georgetown in 1985. The Hoosier players have also brushed up on Buster Douglas' win over Mike Tyson; "just some improbable victories," Hornsby said, "people that the media did not give a chance."

FYI: The inspirational tape loop did not include former "Partridge Family" bass player Danny Bonaduce's recent boxing win over "Brady Bunch" kid Barry Williams.

News item: Maryland guard Steve Blake says he is not overlooking Indiana.

Second thought: "Seriously," Blake said, "you can ask my teammates. I'm one of the few people that picked Indiana to upset Duke in that round."

Memo to NCAA enforcement: Think Blake may have entered an office pool?

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