Out of the Woods
Arizona senior center dominant in losing effort
Updated: Tuesday April 03, 2001 12:54 AM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Loren Woods buried his reputation as a pushover in his final college game. The 7-foot-1 stringbean center didn't get enough help to win a national title, though.
There would be no storybook ending for Arizona, no championship to present coach Lute Olson, who lost his wife of 47 years to cancer on Jan. 1.
Duke spoiled that with an 82-72 victory over the Wildcats on Monday night.
No one could blame the oft-criticized Woods for this one.
In a display of heart and effort that betrayed his image, Woods scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
"I was really proud of the way that Loren competed," Olson said. "This is a huge game, and he came out and gave a huge performance."
Soft? Not on the biggest night of his tumultuous career.
Woods didn't make the all-Pac-10 team, but he was on the all-Final Four squad, an effort that ended a string of strong games at the end of the conference season and through the tournament.
His four blocked shots were a championship-game record. His 24 in the tournament also were a record, one more than David Robinson had in 1986.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," said Woods, who began the season with a six-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits from a family friend. "Today I did a great job, defensively especially. Offensively, I couldn't get it as much in the second half because they made some adjustments, but it really is about the team."
Woods was guarded most of the night by Shane Battier, a 5-inch height advantage for the Arizona big man, and he took advantage of it.
Woods kept his team close with a 13-point first half, then soared with those incredibly long arms to block two shots in a 20-second spamed a team of destiny. Olson, in his fifth Final Four and fourth with Arizona, had been a picture of grace and gratitude as he brought his team back after the death of his wife Bobbi of ovarian cancer on Jan. 1.
She had been the mother figure for the Wildcats players for his 18 years at Arizona.
In the first half, the big screen showed her at her husband's side, blowing kisses to the crowd.
She was known to wink and encourage players in their toughest moments. Woods and his teammates could have used her after this one.