Court is tough trial for Wake, Fla. State

March 25, 1993|By Don Markus and Kent Baker | Don Markus and Kent Baker,Staff Writers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Coliseum has not bee exactly the friendliest place for Wake Forest and Florida State.

Both teams enter the NCAA Southeast Regional tonight off ignominious first-round defeats in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament during their last appearance here, the Deacons to Virginia, the Seminoles to Clemson.

And, Wake Forest is 0-4, all in the first round, since the ACC moved the tourney to the home of the Charlotte Hornets.

"We haven't played that well at the Coliseum," said Wake All-American Rodney Rogers. "But this is a different tournament. We're familiar with the surroundings and we have to use that as part of our motivation-- our home state."

Florida State expects ACC support from the crowd and coach Pat Kennedy said, "I think our guys are excited about being on this floor again with a chance to redeem themselves."

No excuses

The focus has changed at Kentucky.

"Everyone talks about the Joe B. Hall era and how it was more of a relief when they won the national championship," said coach Rick Pitino. "We don't look at basketball that way. We have fun and don't make excuses when we lose.

"People were totally shocked when we got beat at Vanderbilt this year. But now they understand. We like to give credit to the opponent when they're better than us on a given night."

Just ask Dad

If LeRoy Johnson hadn't stepped in, his middle son might have been a Clemson Tiger right now instead of a California Bear. In this case, father certainly knew best.

Recalling his decision to orally commit to the ACC school during his senior year of high school, Steve Johnson said yesterday, "It would have been a terrible mistake."

Johnson grew up in Towson and played his first three years of high school ball there before transferring to Bridgeton Academy in Maine. He wanted to play outside his home state, and Clemson was the first major school to show interest.

The skinny, 6-9 forward didn't see any basketball games at Littlejohn Coliseum, but he came down to Death Valley to watch a football game. "I got caught up in the glitter," said Johnson, now a redshirt freshman and backup to starters Alfred Grigsby and Brian Hendrick.

LeRoy Johnson, now a professor in African-American Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, played at Indiana during the late 1950s, where he roomed with future Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy.

"He never got to play in the NCAA tournament because only the conference champion went in those days, and it was usually Ohio State," said Steve Johnson. "I've always dreamed of playing in the NCAA tournament. To get this far, with a chance to play in the Final Four, is unbelievable."

The shoe doesn't fit

The Cinderella slipper is not Western Kentucky's choice of footwear.

"I really think that's over-played," said coach Ralph Willard. "We're 26-5 and our guys don't consider themselves Cinderellas. They are very confident."

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