- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Ron Hunter, the Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis coach, was star struck in his first NCAA tournament appearance yesterday. He didn't have to look at actress Ashley Judd in the stands or the unending sea of Kentucky blue. His two role models were working just a few feet away.
Hunter thought it would be difficult competing against Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, but he was more overwhelmed when he noticed former Georgetown coach John Thompson was broadcasting the game. And if Hunter was seriously overcome, so was his team in a 95-64 loss to the Wildcats in the first round of the Midwest Region at Gaylord Entertainment Center.
"I wish [Thompson] wasn't there because it was almost like a dream," Hunter said. "My feet kinda left [the floor]. It was, 'Wow, John and Tubby are there.' I said, 'Hold on, you have to coach basketball.' The only other person that could have been there would have been Martin Luther King because they are three people I'm in awe. Next time I'm going to close my eyes because I don't want to see any of my heroes out there."
Hunter didn't get a chance to pound the floor in glee as he did when IUPUI won the Mid-Continent Conference tournament. He conceded that playing before nearly 19,000 spectators was overwhelming to his players. After all, Hunter quipped, the difference between Kentucky and IUPUI was, "They've got McDonald's All-Americans, and our kids eat at McDonald's."
"You talk about the movie 'Hoosiers,'" he said. "When we walked out there and saw all those people, we hadn't played in front of that many people if you combined all the games of the last five years. But we will. This is not the last time you'll hear from IUPUI."

Bogans rules
Former DeMatha High School star Keith Bogans lost control of a fastbreak at the foul line and still managed to dunk. The Kentucky guard scored 13 points, including 10 in the first seven minutes, and finished with six assists and two rebounds.
"Keith, over the years, has evolved into a complete player," coach Tubby Smith said. "We wouldn't have had the season we did without Keith elevating his game. Keith has always had that potential and shown that ability. He is very capable of carrying us."

End of the road?
Richard Blake has driven nearly 120,000 miles back and forth and that's just in his second van from Miami Lakes, Fla., to watch his son play. Maryland senior guard Steve Blake didn't know what his father, who doesn't fly, will do instead of taking those long road trips to see virtually every game during his Terps career.
"Go to work? Play golf? Try to find something to do," the younger Blake said. "Hopefully, if I have a chance to play somewhere else after college, he'll try to see me play there, too. He's always been there, and it's nice to see he can follow me until my last game is up."

Ooey pooey?
If Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis isn't enough of a mouthful, the acronym IUPUI isn't much better. Just call them the Jaguars.
"I think our name is fine," Hunter said. "Before John Wooden coached at UCLA, no one knew what UCLA stood for until he started to win. We have the most unique name in the country. You can spell it frontwards or backwards, and it is spelled the same.
"Having Dick Vitale talk about it was special. But Dick, you had no clue who we were before this tournament."

Prayers answered?
Troy State coach Don Maestri didn't want Xavier to have any edge last night, even if it meant vying for heavenly favoritism.
"You have to try to get some edges, and one of them for us is divine intervention," he said. "Since Xavier is a Catholic school, we e-mailed the pope before they did, and we have been going to Mass every morning since they announced the pairings."

Worked for Bucs
Kentucky's commitment to defense has fueled its 24-game winning streak since an 81-63 loss to Louisville.
"We were watching the Super Bowl, and I told them Tampa [Bay] would win by defense," Smith said. "If you go back to the Louisville game, that's how they beat us with their defense. We were 6-3 but not giving that extra effort. We watched the tape and realized what it takes to win games."

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