Even Mitchell's slump can't stop Kent State from Elite Eight trip

Flashes' fifth-year senior not panicking as team gears up for Indiana

NCAA tournament notebook

College Basketball

March 23, 2002|By Ken Murray and Christian Ewell | Ken Murray and Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

How good is Kent State? Consider that the Golden Flashes are in the Elite Eight despite a horrid shooting slump by one of their best players.

To beat Indiana tonight in the South Regional final in Lexington, Ky., Kent State almost certainly will need better shooting from fifth-year senior Andrew Mitchell, who has made only nine of 37 shots (24.3 percent) in three NCAA tournament games.

Mitchell, 0-for-14 from the arc, has watched his Mid-American Conference scoring average of 16.4 drop to 11.0 in the tournament. The good news for Kent State is twofold: The team has been winning in spite of his slump, and Mitchell isn't panicking.

"I'll get some extra shots at practice," he said before yesterday's workout in Rupp Arena. "We've got a great cast here. On any night, somebody will step up. I know my shots will fall."

Hail to the assistants

Indiana coach Mike Davis thinks the success he and Kent State coach Stan Heath have enjoyed this season as assistants-turned-head coaches should open the door for more assistants. And one of the ones he nominated yesterday was Maryland's Dave Dickerson.

"He will be a great coach in college basketball," said Davis, who also identified Indiana associate head coach John Treloar and Louisville's Vince Taylor.

Dickerson and Davis are close friends. It was Dickerson, in fact, who suggested the game plan that Indiana used to beat Duke on Thursday.

Davis was not so happy with an unnamed Duke assistant who "disrespected" the Indiana coach during a Wednesday meeting of South Regional principles. According to Davis, that coach inquired what time the Blue Devils would be playing in today's region final, and also wanted to discuss the post-game procedures for dealing with the media.

"I was really upset about that," said Davis, who used the incident to help motivate his players.

Davis no fan of poll

Davis is not a fan of the Top 25 poll, particularly since his Hoosiers have been excluded for much of the year despite the nation's third-toughest schedule.

"What you have is coaches who don't watch games or don't know who we're playing," Davis said.

Gilbert says he's fine

Clarence Gilbert, who scored 23 points for Missouri in Thursday night's win over UCLA, is much calmer about the dislocation of his left ring finger.

During yesterday's interview sessions, he wore a bandage that bound his middle and ring fingers on his left hand, while insisting that he'll be fine for today's game against Oklahoma in San Jose, Calif., because it isn't his shooting hand. He did dribble a bit.

"I know it hurts, but it shouldn't concern me," he said.

It's all in the soap

Missouri might want to find a way to make sure Oklahoma's locker room is without soap.

Hollis Price felt the need to wash his hands after the pre-game shoot-around before the Arizona game on Thursday, and it worked out so well that he hit six first-half three-pointers on the way to a game-high 26 points.

"If I'm not shooting well, I'll wash my hands," Price said, explaining one of his superstitions.

Missouri's past

Few programs have found their NCAA tournament visits as fruitless as Missouri, which is appearing in only its third regional final despite 20 tourney bids since 1976.

In the first of the Tigers' 18 tournament appearances under Norm Stewart (who retired after the 1999 season), Missouri lost to Michigan, 95-88, in a 1976 regional final that turned on a technical foul called on Kim Anderson.

High ratings

CBS's broadcast Thursday night of No. 1 Duke's loss and other regional semifinal games drew the highest preliminary TV ratings for the program in nine years.

The Viacom Inc. network's telecast last night was watched in 7.9 percent of homes in the top 55 U.S. media markets, up from 7.3 percent a year ago.

Wire reports contributed to this article.

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