Last week, with
only one game remaining before his team's day of destiny with Ohio State,
Knight committed a blunder: he over-practiced the Hoosiers. Against Wisconsin
last Thursday night Indiana was flat and fell behind 44-41 with 7:20 left in
the game. "We were three strokes ahead of the shark and the shark almost
got us," Knight said.
But one after
another, the Badger starters fouled out, until Wisconsin had nobody left to
combat the Hoosiers. Indiana scored only six baskets in the second half but
made 25 of 28 from the line (16 by Woodson and Thomas). The Hoosiers won 61-52,
setting up the Ohio State showdown.
It was not
exactly astonishing that Indiana and Ohio State should be meeting for the
title, the Hoosiers and Buckeyes being the Steelers and Oilers of college
basketball in a league that is reminiscent of the AFC Central. The two schools
have won four of the Big Ten's six NCAA championships, and they have accounted
for 12 of the conference's 24 appearances in the NCAA final four.
mutual, of course, as is the long-standing, frenzied desire of each to whomp
the other. Ohio State Coach El-don Miller has the added incentive of wanting to
crush the mystique of Knight, the sport's most feared tactician. To Indiana's
volatile genius the rivalry means even more; surely it is burned deep within
Knight was born
in Ohio. He played for Ohio State. One of Knight's greatest non-military,
father-figure heroes is Fred Taylor, who was the coach at Ohio State for 18
years. In 1977, when Taylor was shoved into the physical education department
without so much as a ceremonial farewell, an angry Knight produced his own
Taylor tribute at Indiana. When some of OSU's influential boosters arranged a
meeting with Knight to talk about the Buckeye coaching position and the Ohio
State athletic director didn't even bother to show up, a steaming Knight got
even angrier. Thus he likes nothing better than to beat Ohio State, which he
had done in six of the last seven games, including the 1979 NIT semifinals.
And so he did
again, thanks to Woodson. Of course, this whole thing may be preordained.
Woodson's hometown is Indianapolis. The last game he played before his injury
was in Market Square Arena, site of the NCAA finals. And his birthday is March
24, the date of the NCAA championship game. Welcome home again, Mr. Mike.