Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Indiana's scrappy Moye going after ball, title

The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — If there's a loose ball on the floor, you can be sure Indiana's A.J. Moye is somewhere close by.

        The burly 6-foot-3 scrapper seems to have a knack for coming up with the ball, even when he's under the basket among the big men.

        “Moye plays with a lot of energy on the offensive end, and then he's really stepped his defense up,” coach Mike Davis said of the 215-pound sophomore, one of the Hoosiers' key reserves in their drive to the Final Four.

        Moye is averaging 5.9 points and 3.2 rebounds and has the lowest ratio of turnovers to minutes played among all the Indiana regulars — starters included.

        The Hoosiers (24-11), in the Final Four for the first time since 1992, will play Oklahoma (31-4) in the semifinals Saturday night in Atlanta, the hometown of Moye and 6-9 junior Jeff Newton.

        “As a basketball player, anytime you have a Final Four it's big, but to have it in your hometown, and to be able to participate in it, it's unbelievable,” Davis said on Tuesday. “So they're all excited about going back home.”

        Newton is averaging 7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds a game and has blocked a team-high 65 shots, more than a third of the Hoosiers' total.

        “Newton is a great, talented player who hadn't played up to his potential until now. He's really performing at a high level with more energy than in the past.

        “Both guys, when they come in, make us a better basketball team,” Davis said of Moye and Newton. “Both guys could easily start for us, but I decided to go the other route. When they come in, there's no drop-off.”

        Newton, who played at Mays High School in Atlanta, is Indiana's first big man off the bench, usually in place of 6-8 Jarrad Odle. Moye, who played at Westlake High School, will come in at guard and could see extra playing time if Tom Coverdale's injured ankle doesn't come around.

        “It's day by day, questionable,” Davis said. “If he plays, he won't do a whole lot, and he'll be at full speed by no means.”

        Davis said he would likely know by Friday whether Coverdale or freshman Donald Perry would start, although Moye, Perry, Dane Fife and Kyle Hornsby all could be used interchangeably at the guard positions.

        Indiana upset top-seeded Duke 74-73 in the South Regional semifinals and then took out Kent State 81-69 on Saturday to earn its first Final Four appearance since 1992. In two seasons as Indiana coach, Davis already has won as many tournament games as Bob Knight did in his last seven years with the Hoosiers.

        It took Knight five years to win the first of his three NCAA titles.

        “I put in a whole new system,” Davis said of the difference from last year, when he was named interim coach after Knight was fired.

        “Last year I had about 15 plays and this year about 75 plays,” he said. “I have one main setup we run a lot. I just thought if you play hard-nose defense it's really going to wear you out, and you need to have an offense that no matter whatever happens, everybody knows where to go.

        “There's no doubt they know exactly what to do every single time.”


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