Hoosiers squeeze Orange for No. 5

Hoosiers squeeze Orange for No. 5

Smart play in 2nd half lifts Indiana

By Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

March 31, 1987

NEW ORLEANS – Keith Smart had no basketball future at all four years ago. Light years, those. Smart has a future, and a role in Indiana’s rich basketball history.

Smart climaxed one of the best stretches of basketball an IU player ever put together by arching in a 16-foot jump shot that made Indiana the NCAA champion – a 74-73 winner over Syracuse Monday night.

From the March 31, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Smart, a junior from nearby Baton Rouge, was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

With 13 minutes to go in the game, he wasn’t a remote possibility for the award. Syracuse had opened a 52-44 lead and Smart was sitting on the bench with six points and a lackluster line behind his name on the statistics sheet.

When he returned to the game with 12:04 of the season left, he went to work on Syracuse in every way imaginable – jump shots, driving shots, slicing penetrations that created layups for teammates, rebounds, scooped shots, reverse layups – a career of remarkable plays crammed into the most vital period of basketball the 6-foot-1 Smart, or maybe any other Hoosier, ever played.

Smart scored 7 points and assisted on 4 more as Indiana – on Smart’s layup off an assist from senior guard Steve Alford – tied the game, 63-63, with 4:57 left.

Syracuse guard Sherman Douglas broke the tie with a short jump shot. Smart threw the ball away, and he was pulled. Quickly. And returned. Quickly.

“He’s our best athlete,” Hoosier coach Bob Knight said.

“He just wanted me to settle down,” Smart said. He settled. Quickly. “I didn’t know if he was going to put me back in.”

From the March 31, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Syracuse led 72-70 when Dean Garrett pulled off a rebound of a driving try to Douglas with 1:30 to go. At 1:21, Smart drove the baseline and used the rim to protect him from 6-10 Rony Seikaly as his reverse layup tied the game.

Howard Triche of Syracuse powered through the middle for a shot that rolled in at 0:57 for a 72-70 Syracuse lead. Smart went to work on the baseline again – but missed. Triche rebounding for Syracuse and getting fouled immediately.

Triche hit his first for a 73-70 lead, then missed the second. Seconds earlier, the Orangemen missed a free throw but got the ball back when 6-9 freshman Derrick Coleman reached up and over the 6-10 Garrett for Coleman’s 19th rebound of the night. On Triche’s miss, the ball hovered head-high in the middle of a grabbing pack, but it was Smart – from the No. 3 rebounding spot – who leaped in to grab the ball, spun out of the traffic and drove to a basket that cut the Syracuse lead to 73-72 as Indiana took timeout at 0:30.

As soon as the Orange got a pass inbounds, Smart fouled the man with the ball – Coleman.

The Smart rebound and one-man fast break made an impression on Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. As Coleman went to the free-throw line at 0:27, Boeheim moved all his players into the backcourt, conceding any rebound.

“If I made a mistake,” Boeheim said later, “I made it on the earlier free throws. We should have kept guys back then. Maybe they couldn’t have gotten Smart’s transition basket. We had the lead. We weren’t worried about scoring more points. We had enough points to win.”

But Coleman missed, Daryl Thomas fielded the ball for Indiana, and the Hoosiers came upcourt – a shot away from a national championship.

From the March 31, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

“We wanted to go to Steve,” Knight said, “but I told him, ‘Don’t force a bad shot.'” In game-ending situations at Wisconsin and Illinois this year, Alford felt the burden of senior leadership and tried to extract miracle shots against defenses that knew Indiana wanted its all-time leading scorer to take the shot.

This time, Smart said, “We worked the ball around for 10 seconds, and Steve was covered,” Syracuse, in man-to-man coverage much of the last half, had gone to a box-and-one defense on that last possession “to keep Alford from shooting the ball and beating us,” Boeheim said.

Knight’s instructions were to work the ball to about 0:15 and start the offense. “I wanted a shot and a crack at it (on the backboards, if the shot missed),” he said. “I didn’t want to take as long as we did.”

Balked at trying to get Alford open on the right side of the court, the Hoosiers swung the ball to Smart, high on the left side.

Smart started a drive that pulled the defense, then dropped a pass in to Daryl Thomas on the low posts. Thomas (6-7) had Coleman (6-10) covering him.

For an instant, it appeared Thomas was open for a jump shot. He hesitated, then made a head fake to get Coleman in the air. “Coleman didn’t budge,” Thomas said. “I looked back at Keith.”

And the clock ticked on … :09 … :08 … :07.

Smart cut toward Thomas and flared to the left, Thomas threw him the ball and turned to screen Coleman out of the play, and as the clock changed from :06 to :05, Smart let fly with the shot of the year.

“I’d like to thank Daryl for not taking that last shot and passing it back out to me,” the puckish Smart said later.

“It was a wise decision on his part.”

Borderline genius, Knight felt.

“Our kids did a hell of a job,” he said. “Daryl did not take a panic shot. He didn’t make a move where he got in trouble with the basketball. He just did a great job of handling the ball, and the pass.”

It was the only Thomas assist of the night, and the biggest of his life.

The game had a bizarre ending. Syracuse center Rony Seikaly was under the basket when Smart’s shot swished through. Alford was there, too, and the ball hit both. Seikaly spun to run up court and nobody from Syracuse caught officials’ attention with a timeout call. The clock was down to :01 before the Orangemen got it stopped.

From the March 31, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

That left them with just a prayer. Coleman tried a 50-foot pass, but Smart – the man in the middle of every late-game play – saw it coming like a heaven-directed balloon, picked it off, heard the buzzer and sailed the basketball far into the crowd.

Hoosiers came from all directions to mob him, and each other. It took a while to get the nets cut, the trophies handed out, the all-tournament team announced – Outstanding Player Smart plus Alford (23 points) from Indiana, Coleman and Douglas (20 points) from Syracuse, and Armon Gilliam of Saturday’s Indiana victim, No. 1-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas.

“There were two critical points,” said Knight, whose third NCAA title put him with UCLA’s John Wooden (10 championships) and Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (4) as the only coaches ever to win more than two collegiate championships.

“One was when we got down in the first half (29-24, then 33-28) and came back to lead at the half.” That was accomplished the new-fashioned way. Alford earned it with a three-point shot from behind a Hillman screen a second before halftime sent Indiana to the dressing room ahead 34-33.

The other was the 52-44 Syracuse lead early in the second half, the ignition point for Smart.

Smart’s 15 points in the last 12 minutes gave him 21, behind only Alford’s 23 among the game’s scorers. Alford’s total included seven 3-point shots. Thomas added 20 Hoosier points, and center Dean Garrett had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Douglas had 20, Seikaly 18 and guard Greg Monroe 12 for Syracuse (31-7).

“I thought it was a great basketball game,” Boeheim said. “Our kids did everything we asked them to do.

“It came down to somebody had to make a play at the end. Indiana made a great play. That’s why they won it. They deserved it.

“Smart made a great play.”

Indiana finished 30-4 in earning a banner to go alongside those from 1940, ’53, ’76 and ’81 in Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers’ only other 30-victory seasons were 1974-75 (31-1) and 1975-76 (32-0).

Rick Calloway 0-3 0-0 2 1 0 0 3 0
Daryl Thomas 8-18 4-7 7 1 0 0 1 20
Dean Garrett 5-10 0-0 10 0 3 0 4 10
Steve Alford 7-10 8-15 0-0 3 5 0 2 2 23
Keith Smart 0-1 9-15 3-4 5 6 0 2 2 21
Kreigh Smith 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Steve Eyl 0-0 0-0 1 1 0 0 2 0
Joe Hillman 0-1 0-0 2 6 0 3 2 0
Todd Meier 0-0 0-1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Team 4
Totals 7-11 30-62 7-12 35 20 3 7 17 74
Derrick Coleman 3-7 2-4 19 1 3 1 2 8
Howard Triche 3-9 2-4 1 1 0 0 4 8
Rony Seikaly 7-13 4-6 10 1 3 1 3 18
Sherman Douglas 2-2 8-15 2-2 2 7 0 1 3 20
Greg Monroe 2-8 5-11 0-1 2 3 0 2 1 12
Derek Brower 3-3 1-3 1 0 0 0 3 7
Steve Thompson 0-2 0-0 3 1 1 0 0 0
Team 0
Totals 4-10 29-60 11-20 38 14 7 5 16 73
Indiana 34 40 – 74
Syracuse 33 40 – 73
Attendance – 64,959.