Jayhawks' title try rims out on their free-throw misses

12-for-30 effort for game, Boeheim counters, didn't `cost Kansas the game'

Notebook

NCAA Championship Game

April 08, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS - Coach Jim Boeheim said that Derrick Coleman believes to this day he lost the 1987 national championship game for Syracuse because he couldn't hit free throws late against Indiana.

After last night, Kansas' Nick Collison and Jeff Graves may be haunted by the same demons.

The pair of forwards, who were spectacular in every other way, went a combined 5-for-17 from the line in the Jayhawks 81-78 loss to Syracuse. As a team, Kansas shot just 40 percent from the line for the game (12-for-30), the lowest percentage ever in a championship game for a team with at least 20 attempts.

"I think everybody's dominating thoughts are going to be [Syracuse's] shooting percentage in the first half and our inability to hit free throws," said Kansas coach Roy Williams. "But I'll tell you what, I'd still take this guy sitting right here [Collison]. He had 19 points and 21 rebounds. You're talking about a warrior. My god, he's a warrior. ... I know missing those free throws bothered him greatly. But I bet it didn't bother his heart."

Boeheim said he didn't think Kansas lost the game at the line.

"I'm sure someone is going to write that, but it's not true," Boeheim said. "We missed five free throws down the stretch, so I don't see how you can say free throws cost Kansas the game."

Fix on graduation rates

With academic scandals at Georgia, Fresno State and St. Bonaventure dominating headlines in college basketball this season, there has been plenty of talk at the men's Final Four about the NCAA seeking reform.

One of the proposals being floated is to punish teams with poor graduation rates by limiting the number of scholarships they can offer.

However, NCAA president Myles Brand said this week that before anything like that happens, the NCAA needs to find a new method to count graduation rates.

"Right now, we use a system that's federally mandated of looking at a six-year window," Brand said. "The coaches have expressed their concerns that that's not an accurate way of counting, and they're right. For example, it unfairly disadvantages programs when a student-athlete in good academic standing leaves for a legitimate reason. We need a better way to count graduation."

Boeheim said Brand's statement was the best thing he had heard from an NCAA president in years.

"Seven of the last eight kids in our program have graduated," Boeheim said. "But two of them transferred in. So we have five out of eight. But we had five guys transfer out. So we have a 45 percent graduation rate according to how it's figured now. I wouldn't be proud of that. But the five guys that transferred out are going to graduate where they are now, but they count against us. ... It's such a small number that if three or four guys transfer because they want to play more, it skews the rate unbelievably."

Crean's mom had stroke

The mother of Marquette coach Tom Crean had a stroke while watching the Golden Eagles' semifinal game against Kansas at the Superdome.

Marjorie Crean, 64, was listed in good condition yesterday at the Medical Center of Louisiana-Charity Hospital, where she was taken Saturday night after complaining of tingling and weakness in her arms.

Et cetera

Syracuse freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara were joined on the Final Four All-Tournament team by Kansas seniors Collison and Kirk Hinrich and sophomore Keith Langford. ... Collison's 21 rebounds were the second most in a national final, and the most in 47 years. Bill Russell had 27 for San Francisco in 1956. It was also the most in an NCAA tournament game this year. Collison broke his previous tournament high (19 vs. Duke in the West Regional semifinals). ...

The Big East finished the tournament with a 12-3 record. The Big 12 was 14-6, including losses to Syracuse by Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. ... Syracuse is the first No. 3 seed to win a title since Michigan in 1989. Indiana was the only other No. 3 seed to win it (1979) since the seeding began. It also marked only the second time in the past 15 years a lower seed has won the championship. No. 4 seed Arizona defeated No. 1 Kentucky in 1997.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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