Kansas and the NCAA Tournament

 

 

 

Index

 

1991 Bracket

 

The Final Fours

 1940

1948

1951

1952

1953

1957

1958

 1964
1965
1971
1974
1986
1988
1991
1993
2002
2003
2008
2012
2013
 
Special Years
1966
1975
1981
2006

 

 

A Special Tribute
2011 NIT Champions

 

1991: An Historic Run That Led Again to Duke.

 

First Round

 

Louisville, Ky. (AP)- Because defense reared its ugly head, Kansas can look forward to a date with Pittsburgh on Saturday.

 

The 12th-ranked Jayhawks held New Orleans to two field goals in the last 17 minutes for a 55-49 victory in the first round of the NCAA Southeast Regional.

 

Thursday's triumph sends Kansas to the second round against Pittsburgh, which outlasted Georgia 76-68 in overtime in an earlier game. Saturday’s game begins at 3:50 p.m.

 

It got ugly for both teams as the Privateers recorded 11 second-half turnovers.

 

“Throughout the year we could be great or ugly," Kansas Coach Roy Williams said. "We had that ugly spell in there. But, I knew the team with the more poise at the end would win.”

 

"Defensively, I couldn't have been happier,” New Orleans Coach Tim Floyd said. “But, Kansas also is tough on defense and there wasn’t much we could do in the second half.”

 

Maddox scored 12 points to lead the third-seeded Jayhawks (23-7) and Mark Randall added 10.

 

“It’s the tournament, so any win is satisfying," Jayhawks forward Mike Maddox said. "All wins are pretty."

 

Center Earvin Johnson and forward Tank Collins each had 13 for the 14th seeded Privateers, who ended their season at 23-8.

 

Kansas freshman Steve Woodberry came up with the important plays down the stretch. His 8-foot baseline jump shot gave Kansas a 52-46 lead with 2:16 left and halted an 11-1 run of free throws by the Privateers.

 

Woodberry also had two key rebounds in the final minute. The first was an offensive rebound, and the other came after New Orleans' Leonard Bennett missed a 3-pointer that would have sliced the Jayhawks lead to one point with 25 seconds left.

 

"I challenged this team at the beginning of the season to let’s have people talking about our defense,” Williams said. “At halftime, we wanted to challenge our kids to play another 20 minute game. Basically, what we tried to do was just turn (the defense) up a couple of notches.”

 

“Their defense pushed us out farther than we wanted to be,” New Orleans’ Tank Collins said. “Trying to dribble and penetrate that far out from the basket made it hard for us.”

 

 

Second Round

 

By Harold Bechard
Sports Editor
Salina (KS) Journal

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Kansas Jayhawks needed a game like this.

After struggling to just four wins in their last seven games, the 12th ranked Jayhawks blitzed the Pittsburgh Panthers with a dazzling second-half display Saturday night in the Southeast Regional.

The Jayhawks outshot and outrebounded the Panthers and pulled away from one of the Beasts of the Big East for a 77-66 victory at Freedom Hall.

The victory boosted coach Roy Williams' club to 24-7 overall and into the NCAA Tournament's regional semifinals in Charlotte, N.C., next Thursday against third-ranked Indiana.

After a tough six-point victory (55-49) in the first round against New Orleans, Kansas put all the parts together against a Pitt team which had been underachieving for much of the season.

• The Jayhawks hit over 50 percent of their shots (27 of 51, .529) for just the fifth time in their last 10 games.

• Led by Alonzo Jamison and Mark Randall, the Jayhawks held a 34-26 rebounding edge over the rugged Panthers, including a 21-11 advantage in the final 20 minutes.

• Free throws, a bugaboo this year for KU, were kind to the Jayhawks as they hit 14 of 20.

• On the defensive end, Kansas held Pittsburgh to 38 percent shooting and never let the Panthers get closer than seven points in the final 10 minutes.

"I wrote three things on the blackboard before today's game," Williams said. "The first thing was we need to be the most aggressive defensive team ever. The second was let's be prepared to dominate the backboards. And third, do all the little things we need to help us win."

Jamison, Adonis Jordan and Terry Brown were the catalysts who pushed KU into the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the first time since 1988.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Jamison exploded for 13 points, five rebounds and two steals in the decisive second half.

Jordan was rock-solid on both ends of the court with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Brown, after a poor shooting first half (1 of 7) broke things open with back-to-back 3-pointers in a 47 second span and scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half as well as shutting down Pitt guard Sean Miller.

"They were quicker than we thought," said Pitt head coach Paul Evans, whose team finished 21-12. "And when we don't control the backboards, we're in trouble."

The trouble began shortly after the second half started. The Panthers had battled back from an early 12-point deficit to grab a 37-36 lead with 18:08 remaining in the game on two free throws by Darren Morningstar.

It was the second, and last, time Pittsburgh led in the game.

Twenty seconds later, Brown went up for a 3-pointer from the right baseline.

Swish.
Kansas 39, Pitt 37.

Forty-seven seconds after that, the 6-foot-2 senior launched another 3- pointer from the left corner.

Swish.

Kansas 42, Pitt 37.

The Jayhawks never trailed again.

"Those got us going," said Williams, who will be heading back to his home state of North Carolina next week.

It also got Jamison going as well. The 6-foot-6 junior broke open inside for six iayups in the second half as Pitt tried to shadow KU's guards out front.

"Kansas can hurt you in so many ways," Evans said. "They got all the loose balls which led to a lot of easy baskets."

Brown's back-to-back treys started a 19-8 run by Kansas over the next nine minutes which led to a 55-45 Jayhawk advantage with 8:54 remaining in the game.

Pittsburgh got within seven points twice, the last time coming at the 4:00 mark on a layup by Antoine Jones to make it a 64-57 game.

But any thoughts of a Kansas collapse were quickly squashed on a layup by Jamison and two free throws by Brown to make it a 68-57 game with 2:57 left.

The Jayhawks put the game away by hitting 7 of 10 free throws in the final three minutes.

Brown (22 points), Jordan (16) and Jamison (13) were the only three Jayhawks in double figures but Randall and Mark Maddox combined for 14 points and nine rebounds while neutralizing Pitt's frontline.

Pitt's three starters inside- Brian Shorter, Bobby Martin and Jones- combined for just 17 points and 10 rebounds, had just one assist and eight fouls.

"Their defense caused us to shoot very poorly," Evans said.

The Panthers were led by 17 points from Jason Matthews and 11 from Sean Miller, but all of Miller's points came in the first 16 minutes. After that he was shut down by Brown.

 

 

Regional Semifinal

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)- Kansas' near-perfect start ended Indiana's hopes of a local Final Four.

 

The third-seeded and 12th-ranked Jayhawks opened a 20-point lead within the first 7 1/2 minutes and went on to an 83-65 victory over Indiana in the Southeast regional semifinals on Thursday night, the second-seeded and third-ranked Hoosiers' worst loss of the season and worst ever in the NCAA Tournament.

 

"It's a real comfortable feeling to have a lead like that but you can't get too comfortable," Kansas' Mark Randall said. "You continue to attack and go at them and do what got you to that point."

 

Kansas (25-7) did just that and the Jayhawks will meet top-seeded and second-ranked Arkansas (34-3), which beat fourth-seeded Alabama 93-70 on Thursday night, in the regional championship game on Saturday with the winner of that game advancing to the Final Four.

 

The Final Four will be held in Indianapolis, just an hour from Indiana's Bloomington campus and Hoosier fans had hoped for a quick drive to see Bob Knight go after his fourth national championship.

 

"A coach couldn't ask for his team to get off to a better start," Knight said. "They were very aggressive, very active. They came out to play. Conversely, I'm disappointed at the way we started. We were tentative. It wasn't two teams going at each other, rather it was one team going at another."

 

There was little hope for Indiana (20-5) from the start against Kansas as the Jayhawks had six 3-point field goals when the Hoosiers had that many points as their first 20-point lead came at 26-6 with 12:34 to play in the first half.

 

"Those 3-pointers opened up a lot of things for us," Randall said.

 

Indiana, which trailed by 11 in the first half to Florida State before rallying for the second round victory, never got closer than 11 points the rest of the game as Kansas, which was knocked for its lack of rebounding, dominated the boards.

 

Kansas had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half, two less than Indiana's total for the opening 20 minutes.

 

The Jayhawks, who had 28 rebounds in the first half and finished with a 42-33 advantage, led 49-27 at halftime and the closest Indiana got in the second half was 74-61 with 2:18 to play.

 

"That's the first time I believe we've had a rebounding advantage on anybody," Randall said. "Coach even wrote on the chalkboard that the two things we had to do was play tough defense and rebound. The offensive boards played a major part."

 

"We got hit on the boards pretty hard," Indiana's Eric Anderson said.

 

Terry Brown led Kansas with 23 points, while Sean Tunstall had 15 and Alonzo Jamison 14. Calbert Cheaney led Indiana with 23 points and freshman Damon Bailey added 20.

 

Indiana's four previous losses were by a total of 14 points and one was an 8-point loss to Ohio State. The Hoosiers' worst loss in NCAA competition was a 70-59 loss to UCLA in the 1973 semifinals.

 

Kansas had never beaten Indiana in NCAA Tournament play, losing the 1940 and 1953 championship games to the Hoosiers.

 

 

 

 

Regional Final

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C.(AP)- Kansas took the comeback trail to Indianapolis. The Jayhawks overcame two double-digit deficits and took command midway through the second half on Saturday to beat Arkansas 93-81 in the Southeast Regional final. It earned them their ninth trip to the Final Four and first since they won the national championship in 1988

 

Last time, Danny Manning was the hero for Kansas. This time, junior Alonzo Jamison was the top scorer with a career-high 26. But as usual it was a team effort for the Jayhawks (26-7), who will play the North Carolina-Temple winner at the Final Four in Indianapolis. Kansas coach Roy Williams was an assistant under North Carolina coach Dean Smith for 10 years.

 

The loss ended Arkansas' bid for consecutive trips to the Final Four. Last year, the Razorbacks lost to Duke in the national semifinals.

 

Kansas was the worst free-throw shooting team in the 64-team tournament, but the Jayhawks were deadly from the line Saturday, making 26 of 33.

 

Another key for Kansas was shutting down Arkansas star Todd Day in the second half. After scoring 21 points in the first half, Day was limited to five after intermission.

 

"We may look ugly at times, but today we were pretty," Williams said.

 

Arkansas dominated at the start taking a 17-6 lead in the opening six minutes only to see Kansas rally for a quick 29-27 lead. The top-seeded Razorbacks (34-4) broke away again, leading by as many as 14 on the way to a 47-35 halftime lead.

 

Third-seeded Kansas, which had gotten off to good starts in its previous three tournament games, started the second half with an 8-0 run and managed to tie the game three times, the last at 56-56 with 14:55 to play.

 

The Razorbacks led 62-57 with 12:10 to play on a rebound basket by Day, his first points of the second half. Arkansas then went almost four minutes without scoring and Kansas took the lead for good on a scoop shot by Adonis Jordan with 9:10 1eft.

 

As Arkansas’ outside game disappeared, Kansas continued to go inside with success. Jamison, who was averaging 10.2 points per game, started an 8-0 run that gave the Jayhawks a 77-68 lead with 4:13 left and they stretched it to 93-77 in the final 30 seconds.

 

Jordan finished with 14 for Kansas, while Brown and Sean Tunstall each had 11 and Mark Randall 10.

 

This will be Kansas' first trip to the Final Four from any region other than the Midwest. The Jayhawks, who have won five straight regional championship games, have won the national title twice, in 1952 and 1988.

 

Mike Maddox, who had eight points, is the only player from the 1988 team still active for Kansas. Randall was a medical redshirt.

 

 

 

 

 

National Semifinals

 

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)- Dean Smith was out of the game and North Carolina was out of the Final Four. Roy Williams, the pupil, taught Smith, the teacher, a lesson Saturday: It's frustrating to play Kansas when the underdog Jayhawks are rolling toward a national championship.

 

The Jayhawks outshot, outrebounded and outplayed the Tar Heels for a 79-73 victory that moved them within one victory of their second national title in four seasons.

 

Smith got so upset near the end that he was tossed from the game after getting his second technical foul, the first time that's happened in 14 years and only the third time in his career. Al McGuire was the last coach to be ejected in the Final Four, in 1974, when he was thrown out of Marquette's championship game loss to North Carolina State.

 

"I don't like the way it ended because of the way I feel for the man and because I think it takes away from what the kids do," said Williams, who was an assistant under Smith for 10 years at North Carolina before going to Kansas in 1988.

 

In the last two weeks, Kansas has beaten the No. 2 (Arkansas), No. 3 (Indiana) and No. 4 teams (North Carolina) in the country. The Jayhawks will not get a chance to play No. 1 UNLV, however; Duke upset the Runnin' Rebels in Saturday's second semifinal, and Kansas will play the Blue Devils in hopes of winning their third national championship.

 

"Every coach dreams about this," Williams said. "I haven't thought about Monday night at all."

 

In 1988, Danny Manning led Kansas on an improbable run to the national championship. This time, it was a collection of undersized, overlooked no names like Jordan and Scott, who sprained an ankle in Friday's practice and could barely run afterward.

 

"I knew we weren't going to be playing next week, so I just got out there and did what the coach told me to do," Scott said,

 

Mark Randall and Adonis Jordan each scored 16 points for Kansas, while freshman substitute Richard Scott had 14 for the Jayhawks (27-7). Hubert Davis led North Carolina (29-6) with 25 points.

 

After North Carolina star Rick Fox fouled out with 35 seconds left and the Tar Heels trailing 76-71, Smith walked toward center court and asked referee Pete Pavia, "How much time do I have" to substitute for Fox. Pavia, who had slapped Smith with a technical in the first half, then hit the coach with another technical that resulted in Smith's automatic ejection.

 

As Smith left the court, he stopped briefly to chat with Williams, shook his hand and congratulated Kansas' players. The big screen television at the Hoosier Dome then showed Smith smiling as he strolled toward the locker room.

 

Smith, who had last been ejected in 1977, denied that he cursed or abused Pavia, who has a history of ejecting coaches.

 

"I have every bad habit in the world, but I don't swear," Smith said.

 

However, Smith didn't use his ejection as an excuse for his team's loss. "The last one was ridiculous, but still Kansas wins the game," he said.

 

On the way to the locker room, North Carolina assistant coach Bill Guthridge had to be restrained from going after Pavia.

 

"That's bush, that's bush," Guthridge shouted. "Where did you learn how to officiate?"

 

Pavia, a Big East referee, is known for a quick whistle with coaches. He threw Oklahoma's Billy Tubbs out of the NIT final on Wednesday, ejected Connecticut's Jim Calhoun from a game in this year's Big East tournament and tossed Georgetown's John Thompson two seasons ago.

 

The Jayhawks out rebounded the taller Tar Heels 51-42 and outshot them 41-38 percent. Randall and Alonzo Jamison each had 11 rebounds for Kansas, while Scott had six off the bench.

 

"Richard came in and got us some really big rebounds," Randall said. "He was not afraid to take it in there strong. That's something we were not doing early."

 

North Carolina was trying to reach its first final since winning the national NCAA championship in 1982.

 

"We were very anxious," said King Rice, one of three seniors starters for the Tar Heels. We didn't play Carolina basketball. We went solo too much."

 

George Lynch and Fox each scored 13 points for North Carolina, which didn't play any team seeded higher than ninth en route to winning the East Regional.

 

It was the first Final Four meeting between Kansas and North Carolina since their famous 1957 title game, which the Tar Heels won in triple overtime 54-53. Another unusual twist to this year's game was that Smith went to Kansas and Williams to North Carolina.

 

Kansas used a 17-1 run to take a 43-34 halftime lead and led the rest of the way. North Carolina closed to 58-57 on a layup by Fox with 8:18 left, but Kansas then scored nine straight points, including two straight by Jordan, to take a 67-57 lead with 3:53 remaining. The Tar Heels never got closer than five points after that

 

Lynch scored three quick baskets early in the second half as North Carolina cut Kansas' lead to 45-41. But Jamison then made two layups and blocked a shot by Davis to set up a layup by Randall that put Kansas in front 51-41.

 

However, North Carolina came back again as Davis scored eight points to help the Tar Heels pull to 55-53 with 10:34 left. Fox hit a layup to cut Kansas' lead to 58-57 with 8:18 remaining, but missed three shots and two tips that would have put the Tar Heels ahead in the late stages.

 

After North Carolina raced to a 29-22 lead, Kansas went on a 17-1 run to move ahead 39-30 on a tip-in by Randall with 1:48 left in the first half. Smith lost his temper and picked up his first technical after North Carolina center Pete Chilcutt picked up his third foul with 2:58 remaining. During the next timeout, Smith was overheard on television apologizing to his team for losing his composure.

 

When Smith got the technical, North Carolina was trailing by only four points. But Kansas outscored the Tar Heels 9-4 the rest of the half, with Jordan getting five points and Randall four for the Jayhawks.

 

The Tar Heels faltered after Fox, their leading scorer, went to the bench with two fouls, 4:42 left in the half and the score tied at 29. By the time he returned with 14 seconds remaining, Kansas had taken command with a 43-34 lead.

 

North Carolina missed nine of its last 11 shots in the half and scored only three baskets in the last 10 minutes. The Tar Heels shot 37 percent from the field in the half, while Kansas wasn't much better at 42 percent.

 

Randall scored 11 points in the first half and Scott had 10, almost double his 5.6 average. Davis had eight points for North Carolina and Fox had seven.

 

 

National Championship Game

 

Sports Illustrated

April 08, 1991

Alexander Wolff

 

Mike Krzyzewski calls it "seeing the beach," that time in every basketball season when the games have run together, and the practices have, too, and it stays light outside the gym a little longer each evening. It is risky, this business of seeing the beach. Allow your eyes to wander prematurely toward some placid horizon, and you don't win six NCAA tournament games in a row. You don't do what Duke did Monday night in Indianapolis- beat Kansas 72-65 to win a national championship, its first ever in nine trips to the Final Four.

 

The danger of seeing the beach is all the more acute at a school like Duke, where Krzyzewski conscripts valedictorians and amateur musicians into his cause. "Everything in their lives doesn't hinge on a basket or a rebound," he says. "So they can rationalize when there's a roadblock, when maybe they should stay on the same avenue a little bit longer. For instance, [freshmen] Grant Hill and Tony Lang don't want to get in the way. Sometimes it takes a little prodding, we have to tell Grant, 'When you dunk, you're not in the way.' And Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Brian Davis- we have to tell them, 'Go ahead! You can be good. We don't mind.'"

 

One rationalization had thrown itself up as a roadblock year after year. It wasn't on the road to the Final Four, for the Blue Devils had reached four of the previous five Final Fours. The problem cropped up once they got to Dallas or Kansas City or Seattle or Denver. They simply couldn't win twice.

 

Yet this season Krzyzewski could see the road clearing. He discovered that although this Duke team was young, a young team can be more teachable. And if it was a skinnier and smaller team than others he had coached, he found that a runtier one didn't drag as much when fatigue set in- it didn't get "cumbersome," which is how Krzyzewski described the team that reached last season's title game only to lose to UNLV by 30 points.

 

"When you want to 'see the beach,' you want to see something besides basketball," Krzyzewski said on the eve of the championship game. "I don't feel that way about this team. I want to keep coaching it. I don't want it to end."

 

Thus Krzyzewski's task- to ensure that the end didn't come too soon- became easier. For an instant after its 79-77 semifinal defeat of previously unbeaten UNLV on Saturday, Duke lost all composure. Hurley confessed that he "acted like a fool," leaping on the back of a teammate. Moments later the Devils received their coach's counsel. "An ordinary team would be satisfied beating UNLV," Krzyzewski told them in the locker room, "but an ordinary team won't win on Monday."

 

Suddenly Hurley had an explanation for his gymnastics: "I was tired. I'd played 40 minutes. I needed a piggyback ride."

 

So it was that an extraordinary team won on Monday. From a visibly tired Laettner the Blue Devils got 18 points, 12 on free throws. He was 21 of 23 from the line for the weekend (and 112 for 132 in his tournament career), which helped him win the most valuable player award. From Hill they got eight defensive rebounds and an astonishing one-handed, alley-oop dunk two minutes into the game that set the tone for the evening. From Hurley and Billy McCaffrey they got nine assists and six field goals, respectively. Meanwhile Kansas, so magnificent in beating two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 to reach the final- mock chalk, Jayhawk!- missed shot after close-in shot. With 8:30 to play and Duke leading by 12, Kansas coach Roy Williams, the former North Carolina assistant, sent five substitutes into the game. "Oh, no!" yelled Duke fans, still sassy about the Tar Heels' elimination by the Jayhawks two days before, feigning horror. "Not the Blue Team!"

 

The notoriously cocky Duke partisans had suspended such comments for Saturday's semifinal with UNLV. All winter long the fanciful topic in basketball press rooms and coaching salons remained the same. If any team were to beat Las Vegas- and there was considerable doubt that this was even possible- how might it happen? Well, Runnin' Rebel point guard Greg Anthony would have to get into foul trouble. Vegas's opponent would have to use the entire offensive end, to "swing" the ball to stretch the UNLV defense at its edges. A parade of fresh defenders would have to keep Rebel star Larry Johnson sealed in the post. And an opponent would have to hang in until it could take UNLV into the alien environs of the final minute of a close game. Only then would there be a chance.

 

In the case of Duke, several additional elements were required. Hurley, the point guard, had the flu against Vegas a year ago, and his quickest move came on a sprint to the John. He had to come up big. Hill, a forward, erratic of late, had to get off quickly. And Duke had to banish all recollection of the biggest rout in the history of the NCAA championship game.

 

Early in the week, Krzyzewski and his players watched a tape of last year's final- but only the first six minutes- to illustrate to themselves the difference between playing with emotion (UNLV) and without it (Duke). Krzyzewski also asked his team to visualize the final minutes of a close game. "Game pressure," Krzyzewski called the circumstances his Blue Devils, who had played a far tougher schedule than the Rebels, could expect if they stayed close on Semis Saturday.

 

Against Vegas, Duke would only slightly alter its pressure man-to-man defense: Center Laettner would slough off his UNLV counterpart, George Ackles, to help out whoever was checking Johnson inside. Ackles might wind up beating Duke with medium-range jumpers, but the Blue Devils would take that chance.

 

Krzyzewski also appealed to his players to summon forth some of the substance that sustained his own playing career under Bob Knight at West Point- testosterone. Midway through the second half, Hurley got a bead on Anderson Hunt, the man who had been MVP of the 1990 Final Four at Hurley's expense, and hammered him on a breakaway. "Last year, Hunt dunks that," Duke assistant Mike Brey said. "Then he swings on the rim a little bit, and they come back downcourt smiling. But we fought them the whole way. We matched their aggressiveness."

 

In this machofest there would also be charges for the Blue Devils to take- as many as 20 at the defensive end alone, the Duke staff figured. Forward Brian Davis took the riskiest charge of all, with 3:51 to play and UNLV leading 74-71, when a driving Anthony muscled in a layup as bodies scattered. "If Greg gets the basket instead of the foul, experience makes no difference," Rebel coach Jerry Tarkanian would say. "How many tight games we played makes no difference."

 

As it happened, the basket was waved off as Anthony was called for charging and banished with his fifth personal. Hunt suddenly had to bring the ball upcourt instead of spotting up to let it fly. "When your leader goes out down the stretch, it's like your head is gone," said Hunt.

 

Meanwhile Laettner's mobility and ball handling skills had enabled Duke to pull Johnson away from the basket and open up the middle of the Vegas defense. Duke made so-called flashing moves, sallies and cuts into the newfound fissures in the Rebels' D. With a couple of minutes to play, Brey turned to Tommy Amaker, another Duke assistant. "It would be a shame if we lost this game," he said, "because everything is falling into place."

 

The last things to fall came with slightly more than 12 seconds remaining: two free throws from Laettner, his 27th and 28th points. They gave the Blue Devils their final 79-77 lead. Moments later Hunt was jacking up a hurried 23-footer as Laettner and Hurley hurtled toward him. "A stupid shot," Hunt called his effort, which glanced benignly off the glass.

 

Tarkanian thought that Johnson should have shot from the right wing moments earlier, before passing to Hunt. "I'll never know why Larry didn't take that shot," he said. Faced with their only desperate moment in 35 games, the Rebels did what Krzyzewski had told his players they would do. They let game pressure get to them.

 

UNLV is normally one of the most open of programs, but even the casino host in Tarkanian hibernated on the eve of the Final Four. Perhaps he sensed something in the wind. On Wednesday night, 63-mph headwinds slowed Vegas's charter to Indianapolis, forcing it into a refueling stop- in Kansas City, right next door to the Rebels' good friends at the NCAA. Tarkanian, who had dozed off, awoke with a start. Had NCAA executive director Dick Schultz's private jet flown an intercept mission? "I thought, Oh, god, what did we do now?" he said.

 

The Rebels slipped in and out of side entrances of their hotel, forswore all autograph requests and had security guards stationed on their floor.

 

While normally loosey-goosey UNLV withdrew into a tight knot, Duke spent the first five minutes of its Friday practice, which was open to the public, staging a slam-dunk contest. Krzyzewski lamented that his team had been quartered out by the airport, rather than downtown where the Blue Devils could be among their fans. And he played possum, talking up UNLV at every turn: "The more tape you watch of 'em, the more scared you get of 'em." And: "The last time we played Vegas, they beat us by 30. The last time we played North Carolina, they beat us by 22. And I just found out that Roy [Williams] runs the same system as [Tar Heels coach] Dean [Smith]. So what the hell are we doing here?"

 

Kansas earned its place in the final in a game disfigured by more than 150 substitutions and the ugliness that prevails when the defenses know exactly what the offenses are trying to do. This was because Williams had apprenticed under Smith for 10 years. To counteract the Tar Heels' familiarity with the Kansas attack, late in the first half Williams's players decided to go out and improvise, and the Jayhawks came up with more, and better, shots than did North Carolina, the team from which they supposedly had been cloned. "It came down to the free-lance game, and we did it better," said Kansas forward Alonzo Jamison.

 

Faced with having to watch a full minute and a half of guys in the wrong shade of blue using his venerable four-corners delay offense to ice a 79-73 victory, Smith was put out of his misery with 35 seconds to play and the Jayhawks ahead by five. Referee Pete Pavia slapped Smith with his second technical foul of the game, which is grounds for automatic ejection. Pavia is in the midst of a heroic fight with cancer, and he can be presumed to know what in life is and is not worth getting steamed up about. But his thumb has also proved to be a quick one. He ran Georgetown's John Thompson from a game in Syracuse last season, Connecticut's Jim Calhoun from a Big East tournament game in March and Oklahoma's Billy Tubbs from last week's NIT final. Injudicious bellyaching earned Smith his first T, late in the first half, as Kansas built the lead it would protect the rest of the way; the second was for leaving the coaches' box while deciding whom to send in for Rick Fox, who had fouled out. "I was asking how much time was left for me to make my substitution," said Smith. "He answered my question with a technical."

 

As Smith took his leave, he stopped to congratulate Williams. Then he made his way along the length of the Kansas bench, greeting each opposing player as he went, like some uncle at a family reunion. In the tunnel the minicams caught up with him, and here Smith must have realized he was infringing on Williams's moment. He grinned, did his best paparazzi ward-off gesture and strode away. Security guards had to restrain Bill Guthridge, Smith's longtime adjutant and Williams's jogging partner all week, from going after Pavia when the buzzer sounded. But woeful shooting had more to do with the Tar Heels' fate than anything any referee did. "It was like losing to a friend," said Fox, the Tar Heel forward whose 5-for-22 performance was an advertisement for the quality of the Kansas defense.

 

Outsiders have subjected Krzyzewski to the same easy presumptions as they have Williams. Call it the protégé's curse. "My only pet peeve is when people ask, 'Did you call [Knight] to find out what you're going to do?' " Krzyzewski says. "C'mon, man."

 

That Krzyzewski would say "C'mon, man" should be enough of an indication that Knight he's not. Certainly Knight would never share with the public so much vulnerability. The Krzyzewski who began this season was, by his own admission, a mess- scarred by last spring's title game and frazzled by a summer of coaching a U.S. national team to a silver medal at the Goodwill Games and a bronze at the world championships. He knew his off-season duties would exhaust him and feared they would adversely affect his Duke team. Thus he left more recruiting and public-speaking responsibilities to his assistants and trusted his players to meet him halfway.

 

The Blue Devils' first big test came in early January, after they had lost their ACC opener at Virginia by 17 points. "We played like it was our birthright to win," said Krzyzewski. "I hate that. So it was great that they killed us. It gave me a clear course of action."

 

Krzyzewski discovered that this group took to coaching. "They gave me more than I gave them," he said. "I could make adjustments, and they'd really listen."

 

None reacted better than Hurley. Last season the Duke staff found his gestures and facial expressions so petulant that they produced a videotape to shock him into reforming himself. With the help of Laettner, who constantly reminded Hurley of how important a point guard's composure is to the stability of the entire team, it worked. Superb throughout the tournament, Hurley was never more poised than for an instant midway through the second half Monday when Kansas suddenly threw its 1-3-1 trap at him. Within seconds he had lofted the most precise of lob passes, just off the rim, where Davis made emphatic work of it. "Last year at this time I wasn't crying," Hurley would say after Duke's triumph Monday. "I was just empty inside. I couldn't even cry because I had no emotion. To tell you the truth, I feel more like crying this year."

 

"He did what college kids are supposed to do," Krzyzewski said. "He learned from failure."

 

Krzyzewski's wife, Mickie, calls the family beach house in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C., the Season's End. "It's the light we see in March," she says. "We've always gone there the day after losing in the tournament. I'm afraid I don't know what we do after we win."

 

As Monday night turned into Tuesday morning, and Krzyzewski walked arm in arm with his family down a Hoosier Dome hallway, the answer was not yet clear. Eldest daughters Debbie and Lindy were on his right; on his left strode Mickie and their youngest, nine-year-old Jamie- whom the players call Mo Minutes, because they think they get more playing time if they let her sit on their laps on the team bus. Together, Family K cut a wide and happy swath, as if plying some yellow brick road from Kansas to...to where?

 

A tough call. Do you choose one more game in this season you wish would go on forever and spend it with your boys? Or do you repair to the Season's End, with your girls?

 

"Did you see their faces?" Krzyzewski asked. He was talking about his boys. "They were so happy. Gee, I'd like to do this again. When will we do it again?"