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Final Four Memories

1998 NCAA Men's Tournament

  D.C.'s Douglas Shoots Down Donovan

By Mark Asher
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 29, 1987; Page D11

Center Rony Seikaly (pictured, far left) and forward Derrick Coleman (#44) were key components to Syracuse's run to the NCAA title game in 1987.
(TWP File Photo)
"The only way to beat Providence," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said after the fact today, "is to take Billy Donovan out of the game."

As he had done twice previously this season, Sherman Douglas, the sophomore guard from Spingarn High School in Washington, D.C., did exactly that, and Syracuse's 77-63 victory put the Orangemen in Monday night's NCAA championship game.

"The key was our defense," Boeheim said. "Sherman contained Donovan.

Howard: Triche and :Greg: Monroe contained :Ernie: Lewis and :Delray: Brooks. Now, they have to go inside and we have an advantage there."

Today, Donovan was hardly the player who led Providence in 10 offensive categories this season and accounted for 40 percent of the team's points. In the Friars' four NCAA tournament victories, he averaged 26.5 points, including 13 of 19 from three-point range.

Today, he had eight points, making only three of 12 shots. He was one of three from three-point range, and Providence's other principal three-point shooters -- Brooks and Lewis -- were a collective two for 13 on that shot.

Meanwhile, Douglas, except for a brief spell when he helped Providence reduce a 20-point deficit to nine, excelled in Syracuse's 16th straight victory over its Big East rival.

Douglas had 12 points, 11 rebounds (the same number of rebounds as center Rony Seikaly and one fewer than forward Derrick Coleman), six assists and two steals in addition to his defensive effort on Donovan.

Why has Douglas been so successful against Donovan?

"I just try to use my quickness, cut him off and don't let him get the ball," Douglas said. "I just try to play him tough."

Neither Donovan nor his coach, Rick Pitino, made any excuses, crediting Syracuse's defense, instead.

Syracuse's strategy was the same Georgetown used a week ago in the Southeast regional final -- and lost by 15 as the Friars consistently scored inside. Pitino explained the difference: "When you go inside

against Syracuse:, they have two shot blockers besides the perimeter pressure."

When Providence made its run in the middle of the second half, Douglas also was a focal point. Syracuse had success with its transition game. But, with a 49-29 lead, Douglas got too bold.

"We lost a little momentum because I was a little bit out of control," Douglas said.

The lead had slipped from 49-29 to 49-38 when Douglas committed a turnover and Boeheim called a timeout. "He said to just try to slow it down, use the clock to our advantage and don't run and gun."

After a basket by Brooks made it 49-40, the Orangemen did exactly that for the remainder of the game.

"That was a good move Jim made," Pitino said, crediting his former boss and best friend. "They stopped running on us and got deliberate."

So now Syracuse is in its first championship game and, instead of a matchup against a relatively slow overachiever, Douglas will be playing against Indiana's Keith Smart, a player with qualities similar to the former Washington area player of the year.

It was the third straight time that Syracuse played predominantly man-to-man defense against the Friars. Ironically, the Orangemen have a reputation of being a zone team, which they haven't been in key games this season.

"People have written :before: each :Providence: game how they'd do against our zone," Boeheim said. "And we haven't played zone yet."

© Copyright 1987 The Washington Post Company

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