Friday, March 19, 1999


Padgett wedded to Wally

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ST.LOUIS — Miami coach Charlie Coles will match up Wally Szczerbiak with Kentucky's Scott Padgett, but he expects Heshimu Evans to guard Szczerbiak.

        “That's a tough night for Wally,” Coles said. “He's going to work on the defensive end. But he's used to that.”

        Szczerbiak relishes the matchup with Padgett. They are about the same size: Szczerbiak is 6-foot-8, 243 pounds; Padgett is 6-9, 240.

        “We're similar type of players,” Szczerbiak said. “We both play inside and out.”

        Padgett said UK will guard Szczerbiak straight up.

        “We've got to limit his touches,” Padgett said. “But we're not going to change our whole defense for one player. You can't totally concentrate on one player. If you do, other guys get open, and it opens holes. We'll stay to our plan.”

Free throw excellence
        After the first two rounds, Miami is leading the NCAA Tournament in free-throw percentage at .864. That's no surprise: The RedHawks are fourth in the nation on the year at .766 overall.

Pressing matters
        UK is known as a pressing team, but few teams have pressed Miami all year.

        “Teams don't press us, because we have good guards,” MU point guard Rob Mestas said. “We don't panic and make bad passes. Our assist-to-turnover ratio is good.”

        Mestas and Damon Frierson are both good ball handlers. In the NCAA Tournament, they've combined for 21 assists and only three turnovers.

        Miami also can use Szczerbiak to inbound the ball. With his size and strength, he can pass over the press.

Grunk update
        Jason Grunkemeyer was moving gingerly Thursday because his back is hurting again. Grunkemeyer missed two weeks after suffering back spasms.

        “I practiced Tuesday,” he said. “That didn't go too good. I'm resting up and taking it easy.”

        Grunkemeyer, who is hitting 52.3 percent from three-point range, played five and six minutes in the first two tournament games but did not take a shot.

        “I'll look for a shot if I get in,” he said. “If I hit one, it will really help us out.”

Duke No. 1, Miami No. 2
        Miami's combined football and basketball record (34-8) is second only to Duke (37-8) in the nation. Miami's two teams were 18-0 at home.

Bench help
        It's agreed that Miami needs a boost off the bench tonight. “Somebody's going to have to step up,” Frierson said. “We just don't know who it is yet.”

Enforcer vs. enforcer
        UK center Jamaal Magloire has a reputation for playing rough. Miami center John Estick says bring it on.

        “I love physical play,” Estick said. “If he wants to throw, I'll throw right back. He's taller than me. But I think I'm stronger than him. I'll try to push him around and get him frustrated.”

        Coles calls his players almost exclusively by nickname. Here are some of them:

        Szczerbiak — World, of course

        Frierson — Smooth;

        Anthony Taylor — A-Train;

        Mike Ensminger — Ivan (for his bald head);

        Jay Locklier — Radio Shack (he's got questions, we've got answers)

        Estick — Johnny Juco.


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Fans swarm St. Louis
CBS caught up in Wallymania
Coles says game 'less important to him' than relationships
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