Creighton sees some familiarity in 1st foe

10th-seeded C. Michigan fits the Cinderella profile

NCAA Tournament


March 20, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

SALT LAKE CITY - Creighton coach Dana Altman and his players have a healthy respect for their first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament West Regional at the Huntsman Center.

In Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan, the Bluejays will be looking in the mirror.

Not in terms of personnel - after all, Creighton doesn't have anyone close in size to Chris Caman, the Chippewas' 7-foot, 255-pound junior center. But Creighton, seeded a school-record sixth, knows what it's like to be considered a potential Cinderella team.

"Central Michigan is as good a basketball team as we've faced in any of the first rounds the past four years," Altman said. "I sincerely believe Central is talented and will be as tough for us to match up with as any of those teams."

That speaks volumes, since Creighton upset second-seeded Florida in the first round last year as a 15th seed and beat Louisville in the opening round in 1999. The Bluejays also lost a close game to Auburn in the opening round in 2000 and by 10 points to Iowa in 2001.

Do Altman's players believe their coach?

"I'm not sure if they're listening to me , but that's what I've told them," Altman said "It's been a little tougher educating the media [in Iowa]. This is a very good basketball team. It's no different than going into each of those games the last four years. We thought we were going to win."

Altman's message seems to be reaching his Bluejays.

"A lot of people think we're going to get beat," said senior forward Kyle Korver. "I think the seeds can be thrown out the window. I think Central Michigan is a lot better than an 11th seed. They're a very good team and we're going to have our hands full."

ACC: Georgia Tech center Chris Bosh was named the Associated Press Rookie of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, beating out Duke's J.J. Redick and North Carolina's Raymond Felton.

Heading into the National Invitation Tournament this week, Bosh was averaging 15.4 points and 8.9 rebounds and shooting an ACC-leading 55.8 percent. The left-hander also leads the league with 2.11 blocks a game.

TELEVISION: ESPN has reached an agreement to televise any NCAA men's tournament coverage that CBS would pre-empt today and tomorrow because of coverage of the U.S.-Iraq conflict.

ESPN would show daytime games today, if needed, with ESPN2 carrying night games because ESPN already had NHL coverage scheduled. The same setup would be employed tomorrow, because ESPN has NBA games at night. Plans for the weekend still are in the works, because ESPN and ESPN2 have many more potential programming conflicts.

OKLAHOMA: Guard Hollis Price, who strained his left groin Sunday, said he will play when the top-seeded Sooners face 16th-seeded South Carolina State today in the NCAA East Regional in Oklahoma City.

UTAH: Forward Britton Johnsen will miss the NCAA tournament because of mononucleosis.

Wire services contributed to this article.


Today's games

(On channels 13, 9; times p.m., approximate)

California vs. N.C. State, 12:25

Connecticut vs. BYU, 2:40

Illinois vs. W. Kentucky, 7:10

Duke vs. Colo. State, 9:50

Tomorrow's games

Kentucky vs. IUPUI, 12:10*

E. Tenn. vs. Wake For., 2:45

TBA, 7:10

Maryland vs. N.C.-Wilm., 9:45 *-Ch. 9 only. Ch. 13 game TBA.

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