Versatile Stewart makes mark NCAA TOURNAMENT


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Of all the players in last night's NCAA tournament final between Duke and Arkansas here at the Charlotte Coliseum, Dwight Stewart has probably made the biggest impression.

Everyone in the country knew about Grant Hill, the Blue Devils' All-American. And most knew about the Razorbacks' two stars, Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman.

But Stewart?

"I was the guy who looked like Oliver Miller," said Stewart.

"The first time I saw him [Stewart] in practice last year," said Thurman, "I said this fat guy is going to be our center?"

The player Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson called "a guard trapped in a center's body," Stewart has attracted nearly a cult following. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound junior often brings the ball upcourt for the Razorbacks, and has made 11 of 15 threes.

The play that summed up Stewart's versatility came in the Midwest Regional final at Reunion Arena last week in Dallas. Stewart grabbed a rebound and started upcourt. When a Michigan player tried to stop him, Stewart put the ball behind his back and made a perfect feed to center Darnell Robinson.

Though Robinson missed a wide-open dunk -- and got a T for hanging on the rim -- the fans gave Stewart a standing ovation. Stewart averages a quiet 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds a game, but his biggest contribution could be in the matchup problems he causes other teams.

"You can't put a small guy on him because he'll go inside," said Richardson. "And the big guys can't guard him in the open floor."

Said Stewart: "Just because I shoot outside sometimes doesn't mean I only want to be a guard. I like to play inside, too. But I want to have some of both. If I had a choice of making a dunk and making a three-pointer, I'll make the three."

Hogs' best friend

After Duke lost to Nevada-Las Vegas in the 1990 by 30 points in Denver four years ago, freshman point guard Bobby Hurley admitted to dreaming about sharks for months to come.

If the Blue Devils were to get blown out by the Razorbacks last night, Jeff Capel might dream about snakes. Six Arkansas players own snakes, including Williamson, who has a 9 1/2 -foot python.

Duke forward Antonio Lang counters with a pit bull. "I'll take a pit bull over a python in a fight any day of the week," Lang said.

If the shoe fits . . .

In response to Sunday night's "60 Minutes" segment on the multimillion-dollar shoe deals being given high-profile coaches such as Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Bob Knight, comes this from Saint Louis coach Charlie Spoonhour.

"I pay Converse $40 a year to wear their sneakers," said Spoonhour, who yesterday was named U.S. Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad