Friday, January 3, 2003

Biedenbach miffed at officials

Bulldogs coach upset by free-throw disparity


No one is more qualified to compare Kansas University and Oklahoma, two of last March's NCAA Final Four teams, than Eddie Biedenbach.

On Thursday night, Kansas blistered Biedenbach's UNC Asheville club, 102-50, in Allen Fieldhouse. Four days earlier, Oklahoma had buried the Bulldogs, 100-64, in Norman, Okla.

So does Biedenbach, Asheville's coach, like the Sooners? Or does he give the edge to the Jayhawks?

"Both schools have great programs," Biedenbach said. "As far as who is better, that will be decided when they play."

Then Biedenbach shed his diplomatic cloak.

"Both teams, if they have those three officials, will have trouble on the road," Biedenbach said. "If Kansas goes to Oklahoma and shoots no free throws in the first half and three for the game, they won't win."

It's not often a coach who loses by 52 points takes a postgame shot at the officiating, but that's exactly what Biedenbach did.

"Our margin of error is very small against a great team," the UNCA coach noted. "When calls go against you, it dampens your spirit. ... I don't think that it helped Kansas, though."

Bottom line, coach, did officials Tom Harrington, Terry Davis and Gerry Pollard affect the outcome?

"They're not supposed to," Biedenbach said, later adding they didn't cost the 'Dogs the game.

Maybe it was a "not supposed to" night for the Bulldogs. For example, guard Andre Smith, UNCA's leading scorer (19.0), played 24 minutes and didn't score. Smith, a senior who had scored in double figures in 22 straight games, was 0-for-9 from the field.

At the same time, Alex Kragel, another senior guard whose career high had been 17 points, rang up 31 points, the most by a KU opponent this season.

"I don't have any idea what happened," said Kragel, who drilled 7-of-10 three-pointers. "Maybe it was that sign on the wall. It was one of those nights."

That sign Kragel mentioned was the "Beware of the Phog" bedsheet hanging high in the north end. Kragel, whose father, Dave, played at Oklahoma State in the early '70s, didn't learn until after the game that Phog was the first name of Allen Fieldhouse's namesake.

"Wow, I didn't know that," Kragel said. "I didn't have a clue."

Kragel did have a clue, but not much more than that about comparing Kansas and Oklahoma.

"Both teams are really strong inside," the 6-foot-2 guard from Morristown, Tenn., said. "I really think it's a tossup."

Forward Bryan McCullough, the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer with a mere six points, also rode the fence when asked to compare the Jayhawks and Sooners.

"Kansas pushes the ball faster, but Oklahoma has shooters who fill it up real good," McCullough said, "so it's hard to compare."

It was easier for McCullough to describe what happened to the Bulldogs on Thursday night -- not enough help for the hot-shooting Kragel.

"He was on fire. I've never seen him play like that," said McCullough, a 6-6 sophomore. "We tried to feed off of him, but one guy can't beat Kansas."

Biedenbach felt the same way, but was nevertheless pleased by Kragel's one-man show.

"He hustles all the time, and when he gets tuned in he can have a night like he had tonight," the UNCA coach said.

The Bulldogs, 3-7 after playing a murderous schedule that has taken them to Michigan State, Minnesota, Connecticut and Holy Cross, in addition to KU and OU, are favored to win the Big South Conference championship.

"We really don't expect to win," Biedenbach said. "I think we're overrated."

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