Chaney, Knight square off for first time today

March 20, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The topic of the day before second-round play in the NCAA East Regional was two of college basketball's high-profile coaches -- Temple's John Chaney and Indiana's Bobby Knight, who match wits for the first time at USAir Arena today. And Temple captain Rick Brunson was analyzing the subjects with great relish.

Of Chaney's pre-dawn practice sessions, Brunson said, "He does a lot of yelling and smacking people. I guess he's getting old and senile, and we can handle him."

Asked if the sideline antics of these two controversial coaches might upstage the game itself, Brunson said, "They're both crazy, but no one is paying to watch the coaches perform."

Brunson, of course, was joking. This afternoon's game between the two graying men who have coached a combined 1,525 college games and won a total of 1,140 against only 385 losses is definitely a game within a game.

And, although their teams have never met before, it was clear that Chaney and Knight have admired each other from afar.

"Playing against Knight for the first time is something special for me," said Chaney. "Having been around the game long enough, I've seen some of the greats perform, and I have strong feelings about people like [Louisville's] Denny Crum and Knight.

"I respect them more for their deeds with young people than their coaching ability. I know what they can do without them having to stand up, hold up their hands and say, 'See what I've done.' "

Chaney, who, like Knight, has received negative publicity for his fiery outbursts, admitted he has much in common with Indiana's most famous citizen.

"We mirror each other in how we discipline our players," he said. "No matter what people say about Bobby Knight, his players always have admiration for him.

"Driving over here, I turned on the radio, and they were probing [former Indiana All-America] Steve Alford about his old coach. But it was all positive. He said Knight was like a father figure."

Of Knight's coaching prowess, Chaney said: "There might not be another coach in the country who says his team is going to do these three things well, and no matter how hard you try, you won't stop us. And his kids are always tough. If he throws a ball on the floor, they come up with splinters in their mouths."

A similar theme was sounded by Knight in discussing Chaney.

"I don't know John real well, but I've admired the way he coaches going back to his days at Cheyney State," he said.

"To judge John Chaney, you have to go a long way to find a man who has influenced kids the way he has. How many inner-city kids he has rescued from the streets and kept out of jail and helped turn into solid citizens and family men."

Oh yes, the two coaches did discuss today's game.

"If our three guards -- Brunson, Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones -- aren't shooting well, we'll be in for a long day," Chaney said. "We just haven't got any consistency from our big guys."

Said Knight: "The great thing about the Temple Owls is how they always stress defense. Most teams spend most of their time practicing how to score. But when you play suffocating defense like Temple, it presents more problems for your opponents, and that is a lesson I learned this season."

But there is a major difference between these two legends in how they will approach the hereafter.

"When I get buried, I want my head above the ground," cracked Chaney. It was in response to Knight's request to be buried bottom's up in answer to his numerous critics.

EAST REGIONAL

TODAY'S GAMES

at Landover

4. Temple (23-7) vs. 5. Indiana (20-8), 12:20 p.m.

1. North Carolina (27-6) vs. 9. Boston College (21-11), 3 p.m., approx.

Temple-Indiana: This first meeting between Bobby Knight and John Chaney could overshadow the game itself. Indiana pulled away in the last 10 minutes to subdue Ohio University, 84-72, in its opening-round game. Junior F Alan Henderson scored 34 points. Temple used its suffocating zone defense to rout Drexel, 61-34, as senior G Aaron McKie scored all 21 of his points in the second half. To beat the Hoosiers, the Owls will need to use their superior speed and get scoring from other than their backcourt trio of McKie, Eddie Jones and Rick Brunson. Indiana has better balance with Henderson inside and Damon Bailey, Brian Evans and Todd Leary consistent outside shooters.

North Carolina-Boston College: The Tar Heels got off to a sluggish start in defense of their NCAA title, needing more than ++ 30 minutes to shake 16th seed Liberty before their inside muscle extinguished the Flames, 71-51. Freshman F/C Rasheed Wallace led the top-seeded Heels with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Eagles needed the clutch foul shooting of G Gerrod Abram and strong post play of C Billy Curley to squeak past Washington State, 67-64. Curley scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He will need defensive help to neutralize North Carolina's twin towers of Wallace and senior Eric Montross. BC's guards match up well with the Carolina backcourt.

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