Miller sat out most of his sophomore season following back surgery, and last year he missed nine games because of a stress fracture in his left fibula. This season for about six weeks in December and January, Miller practiced on a limited basis because of fluid buildup in the same leg. Miller didn't miss a game, though, and has excelled at point guard. He leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6 to 1) while making 38.6% of his three-point shots. "Our young guys have really fed off Anthony and Archie's poise," Sendek says.
The N.C. State program has been devoid of confidence and poise in the last few years, which is why its 67-66 win at Houston on Dec. 23 might have been even more significant than its 14-point road win against then No. 9 Syracuse 15 days earlier. Echoing the classic 1983 NCAA championship game between the two teams, the Wolfpack defeated the Cougars on a buzzer-beating 25-foot heave from sophomore forward Marcus Melvin. "It was such a relief when that shot went in," Grundy says. "After all we've been through, it was great to finally get a break."
Davis Is One Wild Cowboy
Wyoming forward Josh Davis says he likes to keep people guessing. So once in a while he'll reach for the small bottle of nail polish he keeps in his locker and paint a few of his fingernails black. "There's no meaning behind it; I just like to see people's reactions," says Davis, a 6'8", 235-pound senior who was player of the year in the Mountain West Conference last season. "Maybe that's why I'm a psychology major."
A part-time bass guitarist for a rock band, Davis is helping the Cowboys make some noise of their own. Last week Wyoming earned its biggest win in more than a decade when it snapped Utah's 48-game home conference winning streak and tied the Utes for first place in the conference with a 54-46 victory. The Cowboys are 16-5 (7-1 in the Mountain West), and their first NCAA tournament bid in 14 years could be within reach of those painted fingertips. "Josh has done so much to get us back in the national spotlight," says Wyoming coach Steve McClain, who in years past has sometimes had to get after Davis to be more consistent. "I know he wants to finish the season right."
Basketball had never been a priority for Davis until the summer before his senior year at Salem (Ore.) Academy, when he caught the eye of a few recruiters while playing in AAU tournaments in Colorado Springs and Las Vegas. Before that Davis had been trying to decide between two small colleges in Oregon. He was all-state in basketball and baseball in high school, and as a kid he played soccer and gymnastics and swam. ("I liked wearing purple Speedos," he says.) Davis even took ballet lessons when he was five or so, which he credits for helping him stay coordinated as he grew.
Davis's willingness to try new things enabled McClain to play him at small forward last season, and Davis responded by averaging 13.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. Now that the Cowboys have improved depth (eight players are averaging at least 10 minutes a game) and talent (six are scoring at least 8.9 points a game), Davis is back at power forward, and while he's scoring fewer points (12.8 a game), he's shooting better (54.3%, sixth best in the league). More important, says junior forward Marcus Bailey, "he's taken on much more of a leadership role than in the past. He knows he's the man on this team."
Davis overstepped his authority, however, when he got into a shouting match with Cowboys graduate assistant Steve Gosar after Wyoming's three-point loss at Boise State on Dec. 12. McClain met with Davis for nearly two hours that night in McClain's hotel room, where they talked more about Davis's attitude coming into the game than about his loss of composure afterward. "Coach told me I was being soft, and he was right," Davis says. "I play much better when I'm pissed off. This is my last season, so from here on out I'm going into every game believing I'm the best player on the court."
Teams Working Overtime
Basketball fans got a bonanza of bonus time last Saturday. Besides Notre Dame's 116-111 four-overtime win over Georgetown, which produced the highest-scoring game in Big East history, Jacksonville needed three extra sessions to edge Jacksonville State 100-98, and Cal beat Oregon 107-103 in double overtime. Five other games went to a single overtime....