COLLEGE PARK -- John Chaney is a believer in rise-and-shine basketball. His practices at Temple University commence sharply at 5:30 a.m.
That early-bird schedule notwithstanding, there are times when the Temple coach feels it necessary to resort to another kind of wakeup call.
Take the case of Mik (pronounced Mick) Kilgore, for instance.
"I'll use the media, I'll use anything I can, to give a kid a wakeup call," Chaney was saying last night. "I've berated him at times, perhaps unfairly. But I think he knows I think a lot of him."
For most of this season, Kilgore, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, has been a favorite whipping boy of Chaney's. But in the opening round of the NCAA's East Regional, Chaney tasted the fruit of his season-long project when Kilgore inspired an 80-63 upset of Purdue at sold-out Cole Field House.
The victory advanced the Owls (22-9) to a second-round matchup with Richmond, a 73-69 upset winner over Syracuse.
Playing a near-flawless game, Kilgore scored 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting and passed out five assists.
On a team that features senior guard Mark Macon, the school's all-time leading scorer, Kilgore has assumed the role of a lesser light.
Purdue coach Gene Keady knew better. And Keady told the Boilermakers so.
"I told our players before the game that Kilgore was the best player on their team because he's very versatile," Keady said. "I can tell you he was the difference tonight."
That is, of course, what Chaney saw in Kilgore all along. But a series of events put Kilgore's position on the team in jeopardy early this season and he has spent most of the year working his way out of Chaney's doghouse.
"I started counting strikes on him this year," Chaney said. "Three strikes and I was going to run his butt off the team.
"He got strike one for saying some things that were ungentlemanly before the season started. I wouldn't let him start practice on Oct. 15.
"He got strike two because he is retaliatory in nature. If he was fouled hard, he would retaliate and get us a technical foul. One game this year he gave up a seven-point play."
Chaney says it is Kilgore's behavior he wishes to change, not his character.
Said Kilgore of his special treatment, "I'm sure he feels I can handle it.
"I don't listen to how he says it. I listen to what he says. I don't take it personally at all."
Kilgore put Purdue in the hole right away last night, scoring 16 points in the first half as Temple opened up a 37-27 lead. And when the Boilermakers (17-12) cut the deficit to two early in the second half, Kilgore finished off an eight-point Temple run with his third three-pointer of the night.
Vic Carstarphen (18 points) hit a three-pointer to start the run, and Macon (19 points) followed with a 10-foot baseline jumper. Down 45-35, Purdue did not recover.
"The key was Kilgore," Chaney said. "He stepped up his offensive effort and gave us some big shots."
Chaney doesn't expect to see strike three this season, after all.
'Now that we're in the NCAAs, maybe I'll stop counting," he said, laughing at the thought.