Friday, March 26, 1999

FINAL FOUR NOTEBOOK


OSU no surprise to Keady

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Coach Gene Keady figured there might be something special about Ohio State's basketball team when he received a subtle hint at the Value City Arena in late January: a 72-43 defeat the Buckeyes slapped on his Purdue Boilermakers.

        The Buckeyes shot .556 from the field, got 30 points and five assists from guard Michael Redd and broke a nine-game series losing streak against Purdue.

        Keady knew the Boilermakers weren't that bad but suspected the Buckeyes might be that good.

        “After they beat us, I thought they had a great shot at going a long way,” Keady said. “You don't want to say that, because it puts a lot of pressure on that team, to say they could be a Final Four team.

        “But after Columbus, I thought they had a great shot at it.”

SAT, RIP
        A fairly disparate cross-section of college basketball coaches — Denny Crum of Louisville, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Keady — uniformly has declared its pleasure with the decision by a federal court judge to strike down the NCAA's initial-eligibility restrictions that involve the use of a minimum standardized test score.

        The position of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) is the tests are biased on a socioeconomic basis. But none of these coaches wants to suggest what the standards should be.

        But they do believe initial standards have become obsolete because of the NCAA's rules on degree progress, which require that each athlete attain a set number of credit hours to continue competing at various stages of his or her career.

        “There was a time when it was evident there were some schools that were not giving players the proper classes to be making progress toward their degrees,” said Crum, the incoming NABC president. “Every school is different. To impose the same initial eligibility standards for everyone is not the right way. I think it should be more up the schools themselves.”

Hold it
        Kansas coach Roy Williams is a member of the NCAA rules committee that last spring passed the rule permitting defensive teams to gain possession merely by initiating held-ball situations — in essence, giving defensive teams a steal when they finish only half the job.

        Don't expect that rule to see another year. The rules committee meets May 4-6 and will look at that issue, as well as ways to increase scoring and shooting percentage (a larger three-second lane, a different shot clock).

        “I was very much in favor of the ideal of the rule,” Williams said. “It just didn't come out the way I hoped. In theory, what we tried to do was great. It didn't work out as well in fact.”

Numbers
        The NCAA Tournament has a way of obscuring the polls that transfix fans during the course of the season, so you might not remember that the Duke-Michigan State semifinal will match the nation's No.1 and No.2 teams. It's the eighth time No.1 and No.2 have met in the national semis, the last being when top-ranked UMass lost to No.2 Kentucky in 1996.

        • Ohio State could set a school record for victories by advancing to the NCAA title game. The Buckeyes have won 27 games for the third time (also 1961 and 1991).

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