Missouri's Gilbert takes 1-for-16 finale in stride, outwardly

Senior hides pain, coach says

Williams defends KU

Huggins, W. Va. are close


College Basketball

March 24, 2002|By Christian Ewell and Don Markus | Christian Ewell and Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Each time Clarence Gilbert put up a shot yesterday, it was tough not to wince a little more than the last time. And there were a lot of times.

Sixteen times, to be precise, and only once did a shot go in for Missouri's star guard during an 81-75 loss to Oklahoma yesterday in the West Regional final in San Jose, Calif. - a nightmarish performance in the senior's final game as a collegian.

And yet, Gilbert seemed relatively at peace afterward, dismissing the game as "just a bad shooting night. It's over, you know. I'm happy with our team's effort."

Bad bounces, bad shot selection and a superb defensive effort from Quannas White meant that Gilbert - who'd averaged 19.7 points over the first four NCAA tournament games - finished with only seven points.

Gilbert actually seemed to have done a good job defending Hollis Price, who had to work for many of his 18 points, but Missouri coach Quin Snyder said it's unlikely that his guard's internal feelings about the game were so nonchalant.

"It was painful to watch that happen to Clarence. You just felt for him because you knew what he was capable of doing," Snyder said. "He wanted it so bad. He's such a tough kid - he just won't show it."

Much of the credit goes to White, a junior-college transfer who started every game this season.

His job was to make sure that Gilbert consistently had someone in his face for his shots and White established that early, forcing Gilbert into a 1-for-9 first half.

"Our coaches said that if anyone penetrates, I'm on Clarence," White said. "That's what I tried to do - stay on him as long as I could."

This isn't a first. White hassled Kansas guard Kirk Hinrich into a 0-for-10 performance when the Sooners won the Big 12 tournament on March 10. "There's a common denominator there," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said.

KANSAS: Coach Roy Williams said his team's reputation for not being tough is unwarranted, especially since he believes it's not applicable to basketball.

"We love the finesse game," Williams said yesterday. "We love running, so we're never going to be known as a tough team where it's half-court basketball. ... But that doesn't mean the kids aren't tough. These five guys that I have sitting up there with me right now, they're as tough as any team I have been around. But when you think in terms of toughness, they think it's a manhood thing. I've never seen a player in the game of basketball I wouldn't fight in a game."

Why's that, coach? "Because the refs will break it up," he said.

GOLFING BUDDIES: Jerry Green, Oregon's coach from 1992 to 1997, was an assistant to the Jayhawks' Williams and is still a close friend of his former boss.

"If I had a brother, I couldn't have a brother that would mean more to me than Jerry Green," Williams said. "But at the same time ... he's an Oregon fan as well."

So where did Williams expect his friend's loyalties to be today?

"My guess is that he will be pulling for Kansas just a little more than Oregon," Williams said, "because he's my golf partner in the spring and summer."

TV: Friday's early games drew a 7.1 overnight rating, 11 percent higher than last year. The night's later games had an 8.3 overnight rating, a 34 percent increase.

WEST VIRGINIA: Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins called members of his staff yesterday morning to let them know he was working on a contract with the Big East school, ESPN.com reported.

But Huggins also said the deal is not done and there are a number of details yet to be worked on.

"This is a very emotional decision for him. It's not just about what's a better job for him or league or a better package. There's always that chance that some guy in Cincinnati [friend or booster] could convince him to stay," a source close to the situation said.

The source said a decision from Huggins could come at any hour.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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