- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 3, 2004

SAN ANTONIO — Duke point guard Chris Duhon has probably gotten more notoriety than his Connecticut counterpart, Taliek Brown. But Brown has been a steady player throughout his career, and he has at least one thing in common with Duhon: He is a member of the 100-win club.

Going into last night’s second semifinal game at the Alamodome between UConn and Duke, Brown’s record as a four-year starter was 101-35. Duhon was 123-20.

“I’d take our guy because he’s a warrior,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “Then again, so is Chris Duhon. I take our guy because he’s won an awful lot of games. So has Chris Duhon. I take our guy because he brings leadership and character to our team, and can really defend the heck out of you. But so does Chris Duhon.

“What I’m saying is you have two peas in a pod, that [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski] and I are fortunate enough to be able to coach two kids who do some special, special things. … I don’t know if you can win without having that kind of kid.”

Aging well

At 68, Oklahoma State’s Eddie Sutton is one of the oldest coaches in the nation. He played for the legendary Henry Iba and has been a head coach for 34 years. But he seems to have no trouble getting the attention of today’s player.

“Coach, he’s a legend,” Cowboys guard John Lucas III said Friday, the day before Oklahoma State played Georgia Tech in the first national semifinal game at the Alamodome. “He knows how to put stuff together. He knows how to put the puzzle together.”

Part of the puzzle includes five transfers. Sutton’s 1995 Final Four team had three transfers.

“He’s done such a terrific job with us by bringing all the transfers in, making us bond, and quickly,” said Lucas, who transferred from the problem-plagued Baylor program.

“Usually, I think it takes teams like one or two years to actually get their transfers to know the system and know the plays and what the coach wants from you. It took us a matter of a couple of weeks and we bonded.”

Added forward Joey Graham, “I heard a comment, something about Coach Sutton is like fine wine, he just gets better with age. I think that’s true on this case. Coach Sutton, he’s a tremendous coach and I think he just gets better with time.”

Moving on

Paul Hewitt is staying as Georgia Tech’s coach — he was given a six-year extension at about $1million a year — but the Yellow Jackets are losing an assistant. Dean Keener will be the new coach at James Madison.

Hewitt, meanwhile, continues to rail against published reports about Georgia Tech’s purportedly low graduation rates.

On Friday, Hewitt read about Tech’s 27 percent graduation rate, and it was “wrong again,” he said. “Let’s make sure we get it right. It was 60 percent that year. The two kids that didn’t graduate that year, they transferred and graduated someplace else. All five kids that came into Georgia Tech in 1996 all got college degrees.”

Beard, Curl honored

NEW ORLEANS — Duke’s Alana Beard and Houston’s Joe Curl won the Associated Press player and coach of the year awards in women’s basketball after leading their teams through championship seasons.

Beard, a 5-foot-11 senior, was the key figure in the best four-year run in Duke history. The Blue Devils earned their first No.1 ranking when she was a junior, won the ACC regular-season and tournament championship in each of her four years and reached the Final Four twice.

Along the way, Beard became the second three-time AP All-American and the first women’s player at Duke to have her number retired. This season’s team was 30-4, finished at No.1 in the final poll and reached the regional finals.

Curl guided Houston to a school record for victories in a 28-4 season.

Revisiting history

The practice schedule gave Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma a tangible way to show his players the growth of UConn women’s basketball and the sport as a whole since the Huskies’ first Final Four in 1991.

On Friday, Connecticut practiced at Lakefront Arena at the University of New Orleans, the arena that hosted the NCAA women’s championship in 1991, which was won by Tennessee.

“I took my team over there and we walked in and I said to them, ‘This is where the Final Four was in 1991 when we came here,’ and they all looked around and said, ‘You have got to be kidding,’” Auriemma said.

Lakefront Arena holds about 10,000, but attendance was 7,931 for the semifinals and 7,865 for the final.

“It wasn’t sold out,” Auriemma recalled. “And it’s just more of … how far our program has come and the game of [women’s] basketball has come, and really in a short time when you think about it.”

Last year in Atlanta, UConn played before nearly 30,000 spectators and a national television audience.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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