Kentucky's Bogans questionable

High sprain of left ankle may keep standout guard out of Marquette game

NCAA tournament notebook

Ncaa Tournament

March 29, 2003|By Christian Ewell and Don Markus | Christian Ewell and Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The key question for today's Midwest Regional final is whether guard Keith Bogans will be able to play for Kentucky against Marquette after suffering a high sprain of his left ankle.

Bogans, the Southeastern Conference's Player of the Year, is questionable after aggravating the injury - with him for much of this season - late in the first half of a 63-57 win over Wisconsin in Minneapolis. It happened at the 3:25 mark when he collided with Badgers swingman Kirk Penney.

The DeMatha alumnus returned briefly before halftime but didn't play for the Wildcats (32-3) during the second half.

"He is getting around-the-clock treatments," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "It's a high-ankle sprain, so it could be a month, but he was able to put pressure on his toe, so that's a good sign."

Kentucky has won 26 straight games but gained a measure of confidence by prevailing Thursday night without a player generally noted to be the team's leader.

"We've been handling it pretty well," guard Gerald Fitch said. "We feel there's enough talent on this team to carry us through. If Keith doesn't play, we'll just have to keep our heads up and move on."

Center-forward Marquis Estill said the Wildcats are preparing as if Bogans will not play today. "We can't prepare as if he's going to play if he's not to be there."

At the same time, he would be surprised if Bogans, a senior who leads the Wildcats with 15.7 points a game, didn't trot out onto the Metrodome floor.

"Keith's a warrior," he said. "I know he wants to be out there. But if he can't go, we know it has to be something serious because Keith always wants to be out there on the floor."

The Golden Eagles (26-5) intend to prepare as if Bogans will at least attempt to play, with the plan to adjust accordingly if they don't have to deal with him.

"Even if he's not 100 percent, he's very good," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "Every time when there's a question mark on a player, you have to prepare like he's there. And you can't get away from that they a have a great team on the floor no matter who they put out there."

Roy Williams rumors

Kansas coach Roy Williams has spent a great deal of time during this year's NCAA tournament deflecting questions about whether he planned to remain with the Jayhawks or move to another high-profile program.

Last week in Oklahoma City and again Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., Williams was asked about the vacancy created at UCLA by the recent firing of Steve Lavin. Just as those rumors about Westwood seemed to be quieting, new ones have surfaced.

Those new ones are about Williams returning to his alma mater, North Carolina.

Several newspapers in the state have reported that third-year coach Matt Doherty is in serious jeopardy of losing his job because several players and their parents are unhappy. Doherty reportedly didn't show for a meeting with North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour on Thursday.

Williams said he spoke with Doherty on Monday to discuss Duke, which lost to Kansas, 69-65, on Thursday night, but little else.

"We didn't talk about any of the problems or anything," said Williams, who turned down an offer to coach the Tar Heels after Bill Guthridge was forced out three years ago. "We've had some frank discussions over the past couple of years about the problems they've had. ... North Carolina has a coach that I care about greatly, and that's how I'm going to leave it."

Williams' name had come up regarding UCLA because of his West Coast recruiting base that landed several players in the past, including Paul Pierce. But his reported displeasure with Kansas athletic director Al Bohl might make Williams willing to listen again to the Tar Heels - particularly if his mentor, legendary coach Dean Smith, gets involved.

"When I made that decision, that's what I thought it was going to be, and I haven't thought about it since," said Williams, who agreed orally to Baddour's offer in 2000 but had a change of heart after returning to Lawrence. "I'm not interested in talking about North Carolina."

Whether he's interested in talking to North Carolina remains to be seen.

He's not heavy ...

When Jeff Graves arrived at Kansas out of Iowa Western Community College last fall, he weighed about 290 pounds. Graves lost about 40 pounds during his first season with the Jayhawks, and it might have been a factor in a play he made late in his team's win over Duke.

With his team leading by four, Graves chased down an errant pass and with his back to the court, flung the ball against the legs of the Blue Devils' Casey Sanders. It caromed out of bounds and on the next Kansas possession, Nick Collison scored to give the Jayhawks a six-point lead.

"That was a big-time play," Williams said yesterday. "I'm just thankful Jeff was going at it the way he is now. The way he was in August, he might have hurt himself."

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