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SPOTLIGHT

Over Time, Pain Will Subside

January 05, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

It was a day too late, and the wrong sport, but Miami finally won a big overtime game.

Despondent fans in Miami were able to nudge aside visions of pass-interference penalties (mercifully) while they attended the opening of a $48-million arena on the Hurricanes' campus. To boot, the Hurricanes defeated North Carolina, 64-61, as the Tar Heels went the final 12:10 without a field goal and missed all eight shots in overtime.

The crowd at the Convocation Center included Texas Ranger shortstop Alex Rodriguez, a Miami native, and Hurricane football Coach Larry Coker, who addressed the near-sellout crowd of 6,826 at halftime.

"We didn't come home with what we hoped to come home with, and that's the national championship," Coker said of Friday night's 31-24 double-overtime loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. "Are we disappointed? Yes. Are we hurt? Yes. But let me assure you, it's not over for this university. We'll be back."

Not everybody was so forward-looking. North Carolina Coach Matt Doherty screamed at the referees as they left the floor after the game, angry a foul wasn't called when Jawad Williams missed a three-point shot as time ran out.

"I believe Jawad got hit," Doherty said. "It seemed obvious. But they're a good officiating crew. It's human error. It's part of the game. The people in Miami can understand that better than anybody after last night's football game."

A disputed fourth-down interference call against the Hurricanes in the first overtime proved pivotal in the Fiesta Bowl loss.

Meanwhile, Ohio State's basketball game Saturday also went to overtime. Twenty-four hours later, the Buckeyes weren't so lucky, losing to No. 24 Louisville, 72-64.

Ohio State fumbled away a 14-point halftime lead against Louisville, not that anybody in Columbus really cared.

The mad dash for Buckeye football merchandise began early Saturday, with lines snaking through the aisles of the on-campus team store. People who braved the below-freezing weather impatiently banged on the store's windows until it opened.

"I saw someone who had 12 T-shirts, and she didn't even know what sizes they were," said clerk Kyle Precht. "She was just grabbing them to get them."

Even though none of Ohio State's football players flew home on Saturday, several hundred fans waited an hour in 30-degree weather to greet Coach Jim Tressel's charter bus as it arrived from the airport. The crowd swarmed Tressel as he disembarked.

Said Tressel: "Our fans are incredible."

Let Us In, Coach

Desperately trying to help his foundering team, Illinois State Coach Tom Richardson closed the locker room a few days ago, a popular move these days to keep meddling media members at bay.

But Richardson didn't close the locker room to reporters. He shut the door on his own players.

After a sorry 76-48 loss to Southwest Missouri State last Saturday -- the team's worst defeat in 14 years at Redbird Arena -- Richardson taped shut the door to the locker room and stripped the team's three captains of their titles.

Richardson didn't care where his team dressed.

"Their cars, the bathroom, the boiler room, I don't know," said Richardson, in his fourth season. "They certainly haven't rallied around each other yet, so maybe now they will rally around each other against me."

There was some rallying Saturday ... by Illinois State's opponent, Southern Illinois.

Illinois State held a five-point halftime lead but crumbled in the second half of a 74-65 loss at Southern Illinois.

Gregg Alexander, one of the demoted captains, scored 18 points for the Redbirds, who fell to 1-9.

Said Southern Illinois forward Jermaine Dearman: "It was a physical game, but we expected them to play hard because they've been in the doghouse all week with their coach."

Where's Lefty?

Georgia State Coach Lefty Driesell abruptly resigned Friday, after 41 seasons and 786 victories at four schools, but there was hardly a trace of Driesell's decision at the Panthers' home game Saturday against Gardner-Webb.

There were no ceremonies or tributes acknowledging Driesell, who did not attend the game. The attendance was right around the season average of 775.

One fan seated behind the scorer's table wore a "Lefty's Loonies '02" T-shirt, and when interim Coach Michael Perry was introduced before the game, the fan stood and clapped loudly for him.

Lamont McIntosh made two free throws with 10 seconds left and Georgia State (5-6) held on to beat Gardner-Webb, 56-53.

"I'll call [Driesell] as soon as I get home," Perry said.

Driesell, who turned 71 on Dec. 25, stepped down unexpectedly, saying he was physically spent.

"I'm just tired and I've got this bad cold and I'm just going to retire," said Driesell, who left with a 786-394 record and had the fifth-most wins in Division I history.

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