THE OTHER FINAL TWO
By the time No. 4-ranked Duke and No. 1 Michigan (page 14) tipped off their part of last Saturday's December Final Four, No. 3 Kansas and No. 2 Indiana had already played their game at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. SI's William F Reed was there and filed this report.
Kansas has had a tough time getting the taste of last season's upset loss to Texas-El Paso in the second round of the NCAA tournament out of its mouth. "I still keep a bottle of Mylanta tablets on the night table next to my bed," says Jayhawk coach Roy Williams. But Kansas's 74-69 victory over Indiana last Saturday should go a long way toward bolstering the Jayhawks' self-esteem.
Fortunately for Kansas, Jayhawk guard Rex Walters has never had a problem with confidence. Although he was mired in a shooting slump, Walters had the moxie to take and make the jumper from the lane with 26 seconds left in the game that sealed the win for Kansas. "I'm going to take it if I'm 1 for 10 or 1 for 100," Walters says. "Coach Williams once told me I'd have to miss 100 in a row before he'd lose confidence in me. I hope it doesn't get to that point."
"Me, too," added Williams.
Over the summer Walters, normally a fine outside shooter, studied videotapes made by former Philadelphia 76er shooting instructor Buzz Braman. However, in the Jayhawks' 75-66 win over Georgia on Dec. 1, Walters hit only two of seven. After the game he went back onto the court at Allen Fieldhouse and practiced shooting until midnight. This didn't seem to help much either. He missed nine of 14 shots against the Hoosiers before landing the winning jumper. And that shot was no masterpiece; it hit the heel of the rim, bounced straight up and fell through. Shooter's roll.
The Jayhawks won with a lot of help from 5'11" point guard Adonis Jordan, who scored 16 points, including all six of his free throws. After the game Williams draped an arm around Jordan's shoulders and said, "Adonis, you played your best game ever at Kansas. Running the team, hitting the open shot, overall savvy, making the big free throws and making no turnovers against that great defense. That's truly something."
The Jayhawks won with very little help from forward Darrin Hancock, the junior college transfer who has been drawing raves. Hancock contributed three points and three rebounds, coming out the loser in a matchup with Indiana star Calbert Cheaney, who leaned over him for a three-pointer in the opening moments. "Darrin was shell-shocked," Williams says. "He's never had anyone jump up in his face and knock down one like that."
Sounds like a little confidence problem. Better have him talk to Rex Walters.