Thursday, March 11, 1999

Indiana ready for GW

Louisville Courier-Journal

        ORLANDO, Fla. — The glum look that hung on the face of Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight last Friday has been replaced by a much cheerier disposition.

        The aftereffects from the Hoosiers' crash-and-burn act against Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament appeared to be gone Wednesday night.

        He didn't even seem too ornery when asked about Indiana playing a late game in the NCAA Tournament's South Regional. Tipoff for the sixth-seeded Hoosiers' game against 11th-seeded George Washington is set for 10 p.m. today.

        Knight, whose Hoosiers lost a first-round game in Orlando, Fla., three years ago when they also were a No. 6 seed, repeatedly has been a critic of games that begin at 9:30 p.m. and beyond.

        “That's an abomination,” he said. “That word won't get me in trouble 'cause there'll be a lot of NCAA people that will have to look it up. So that'll be all right. In fact, I had a friend tell me yesterday that that would be a good word for me to use today. I didn't know what it meant until yesterday.”

        Knight got a little more serious when discussing his 22-10 team.

        “We won 22 games, which is really good for us,” he said. “We were 22-9 before the (Big Ten) Tournament. Of the nine games we lost, we could have easily won four or five of them, which takes you from a pretty good year to a great year.”

        This is a group with a lot to prove to itself. And tangible proof of a program regaining its elite status will only come with a good showing in the NCAA Tournament.

        That means a Sweet 16 appearance. That means the Hoosiers must do something they haven't done in five years: win back-to-back games in the tournament.

        Was the Illinois game an aberration? Senior forward William Gladness hopes so.

        “Illinois wanted it a lot more than we did,” he said. “That's in the past. We corrected a lot of stuff (that went wrong). Right now, we're concentrating on George Washington.”

        Stopping the Colonials (20-8) will center on slowing down 5-foot-4 Shawnta Rogers. Indiana guard Antwaan Randle El could figure into the defensive rotation on him after practicing for the second time this week. But Randle El, who has been out with a broken bone in his hand, hasn't appeared in a game since Jan. 31. He is the Hoosiers' smallest player at 5-foot-11.

        Knight seemed most concerned about stopping George Washington on the fast break.

        “If we don't get back against their running game, if we don't sort out people well, if we don't block out well ...,” he said. “I've given you three reasons. Any one of which could beat us.”

        But Indiana, which lost 64-51 to Boston College in the tournament three years ago, could be playing a tired George Washington team. The Colonials didn't arrive to their hotel until 4 p.m. Wednesday after their plane was delayed in Washington due to a snowstorm.


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