Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Point men are centers of attention END OF THE ROAD NCAA TOURNAMENT NCAA FINAL FOUR


SEATTLE -- How will Corey Beck ever slow Tyus Edney?

Can Edney, nearly five inches shorter, stop Beck when he goes to the basket?

If either had an opinion on his play at point guard in the NCAA championship game, it wasn't voiced yesterday, because both were absent from interview sessions with doctor's excuses.

Edney injured his right wrist in the first half of UCLA's 74-61 semifinal win over Oklahoma State. X-rays yesterday morning were negative, and he was diagnosed with a sprain, which was treated at the University of Washington's training room. Beck, who coach Nolan Richardson calls the glue that holds Arkansas together, was affected by asthma.

"I doubt there's a possibility he [Edney] wouldn't play," UCLA coach Jim Harrick said.

"Corey would have to miss two arms and two legs not to play," Arkansas forward Scotty Thurman said.

UCLA and Arkansas have All-America forwards, Ed O'Bannon fTC and Corliss Williamson, respectively, but Edney and Beck have played huge roles in the postseason.

Beck shot 2-for-9 in the 75-68 semifinal win over North Carolina, but he had 10 assists and committed only one turnover in a 30-minute stint. Beck has 205 assists this season, four short of Lee Mayberry's school record. His most impressive statistic is the 13-1 record Arkansas has in the NCAA tournament with him.

At last year's Final Four, Beck had 24 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in wins over Arizona and Duke. In this year's tournament, he's made six of his eight three-pointers. Beck is anything but a traditional point guard -- he's the team's second-leading rebounder -- but he knows when they have to get the ball to Williamson.

Beck's free throw forced overtime in the region semifinal against Memphis. UCLA would have been sent home after the second round if not for Edney's court-length -- for the basket that beat Missouri, 75-74.

In five NCAA games, Edney has improved on his seasonal scoring average and has 38 assists and nine turnovers. His quickness and dribbling could be the antidote to Arkansas' changing defenses. He won't always be going head-to-head against Beck.

"Most likely I'll be on him in the half-court," said Clint McDaniel, Arkansas' other starting guard. "I'm impressed with everything he does. As small as he is, he is able to get to the hole and is able to finish his shots and still be able to get his other teammates involved."

As for Beck's posting up Edney, UCLA coach Jim Harrick isn't concerned.

"Every coach looks at a 5-10 guard and wonders about them," Harrick said. "We've just gotten off an era when Magic Johnson was playing with the Lakers and Anfernee Hardaway was a hot project, and everybody wanted a big guard.

"You look at the small guys and wonder if they can get the job done. After 10 days [of Edney's freshman year], Coach [John] Wooden said, 'The little guy sees the floor better than anyone you have.' Right there and then, I knew we had something special."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad