Friars have Shammgod on their side Duke's Wojciechowski faces difficult matchup

Men's NCAA notebook

March 16, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS Sun staff writers Kent Baker and Paul McMullen contributed to this report.

The matchup of Baltimore's Steve Wojciechowski and New York's God Shammgod at point guard is being touted as the probable key in today's Duke-Providence game at the Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum.

"I'm concerned about their defense. They're very physical, clutching and grabbing, and Wojo is their coach on the floor. He'll be biting at Shammgod's knees," Friars coach Pete Gillen said. "We're just a bunch of altar boys trying to play a little basketball at the park."

Wojciechowski said he doesn't "plan to bite anybody" and added that Shammgod "is one of the premier point guards in the country. He's always been a great competitor and a tough matchup.

"You have to try to keep him in front of you. As much as people want to make it a one-on-one situation, a lot will depend on how our team defense is."

They have played against each other only in camps and AAU basketball.

Gillen added that "we climbed Mount Everest," referring to the opening-round victory over Marquette, "and now we get Mount Fuji. We have a big problem with the aura of playing against Duke and in their home territory."

Scheduling woes

Tennessee-Chattanooga can relate to the plight of Coppin State. Nobody wants to come to their place to play.

"We make an attempt to play a difficult schedule," UTC coach Mack McCarthy said. "But we're not going to go out and schedule those guarantee [for big money] games [on the road] and just get hammered. We'll go home-and-home with anybody in the country."

UTC has been in Division I for 19 years and won 13 Southern Conference titles. Its reputation is better among coaches than the media.

"Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State -- we beat them the last time [we played them]. Not one of them will play us any more," McCarthy said.

Big East lured Croshere

Providence forward Austin Croshere, an All-Big East selection, wanted to go to Connecticut, then to Notre Dame, but neither had a scholarship for him.

So, Croshere, a Los Angeles native, chose Providence without even visiting because of the lure of the Big East.

"We almost lost him when [coach] Rick Barnes left [for Clemson]," Gillen said. "Louie Orr convinced him to stay here.

"He is very talented. But in 22 years of coaching, he is the hardest working player I've ever been associated with."

Illini, Mocs have points

Illinois represents a greater obstacle to the Mocs than Georgia.

"I expect a more physical game," Southern Conference Player of the Year Johnny Taylor said. "Their post players are more offensive minded than Georgia's."

UTC zipped ahead 15-0 and 20-2 against the Bulldogs, then played a conservative second half with point guard Willie Young controlling the tempo.

The point-guard matchup between Young and Illini All-American Kiwane Garris will be important to the outcome.

Insiders do Arizona's work

His guards and all-Pac 10 forward Michael Dickerson get the publicity, but coach Lute Olson said that the key to Arizona's trip to the Sweet 16 is the inside work of sophomore center A.J. Bramlett and junior forward Bennett Davison.

They combined for 26 rebounds yesterday, only three fewer than the College of Charleston. Whether they can be that dominant in the Sweet 16 against Kansas towers Raef LaFrentz and Scot Pollard is another matter.

Dickerson scored nine, 11 below his average, but he played strong defense on the Cougars' Anthony Johnson, the Trans America Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

"Johnson is a fabulous player," Olson said. "After watching film of him, and seeing him play, I think he's going to play at the next level. Holding him to six [assists] and [forcing] four [turnovers] was a real key."

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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