To Knight, beating Duke is just matter of simple execution

April 03, 1992|By ASSOCAITED PRESS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana coach Bob Knight, student of the arcane and master of military maneuvers, has a simple strategy to beat Duke.

Sure, he'll have his team meteorologist on hand to check the wind currents, "the greatest intangible" in the Metrodome. And Knight just might crack his bullwhip, march his players barefoot over one of Minnesota's 10,000 frozen lakes and do a cerebral reversal number on their heads.

But when it comes down to hoops tomorrow in the NCAA semifinal against defending champion Duke, Knight is totally a back-to-basics kind of guy.

The Final Four is not the time for convoluted game plans pulled out of some mysterious playbook the coach has had stashed away in a closet for just such an occasion.

Rather, it is a time when all the fundamentals Knight has been preaching through the season, all the picks and rolls and easy shots, and all the little moves to get position underneath for rebounds form the basis for attacking the nation's No. 1 team.

"I think that's the way you should play," Knight said, scoffing at the notion that he'll have to resort to magic and mirrors to get his 27-6 Hoosiers past 30-2 Duke. "There isn't anything complicated about the Duke game.

"You can coach basketball in two ways. You can coach it with a lot of things, sort of like a surprise and change. Defensively, if you subscribe to surprise and change, you can force the offense to make a lot of adjustments during the course of a game. The second theory on coaching is simplicity and execution, and that's always been the theory I've subscribed to."

That means a deliberate, halfcourt-style offense, a strict man-to-man defense and old-fashioned board crashing on both ends.

There isn't anything extraordinary about the way Indiana is playing in the tournament, Knight claimed, noting that the blowout of UCLA in the West Regional final wasn't just a matter of the Hoosiers rising to a peak after the loss to Purdue in the regular-season finale.

"When we played Butler and Notre Dame [in December], we probably played as well as we played against UCLA," he said. "It isn't as though all of a sudden it's playing well. That's not the case."

Knight traces Indiana's revival to a long overdue shift in leadership, chiefly Calbert Cheaney shooting 60 percent in the Hoosiers' four victories and Eric Anderson bombing away after Knight told him to concentrate on his own play and quit worrying about others.

The Hoosiers will have plenty of worries with Duke center Christian Laettner and guard Bobby Hurley.

"I don't think Laettner's a position player. He's probably the best big basketball player that I've seen in a long time," said Knight, who will counter Laettner with Matt Nover, Anderson and forward Alan Henderson.

"He really plays a different game than anyone else," Anderson said.

Indiana will try to wear down Hurley with its four-guard rotation of Damon Bailey, Greg Graham, Jamal Meeks and Chris Reynolds. They combined for 22 of Indiana's 23 assists against UCLA in a game where the Hoosiers had eight turnovers.

"He's a good guard who penetrates, gets in the lane and dishes the ball off," Meeks said of Hurley. "It's definitely going to be tough for our guards to stay on him for 40 minutes."

Duke has one big advantage in the game -- experience -- after getting to the Final Four for five straight years and six of seven.

"The more Final Fours you go to, the more cousins you find out you have who need tickets," Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski quipped.

Indiana is at its fifth Final Four under Knight, the last in 1987 when the Hoosiers won. In fact, the only Final Four appearance by Knight that didn't end with a title was the first, 1973, when UCLA beat Indiana on the way to its seventh straight title, the last team to repeat as national champion.

The current Indiana players, however, are playing beyond the third round for the first time.

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