OFTEN IN NCAA tournament play, the national television cameras
highlight a defining moment for a player. For Dwight Stewart that
moment came against Michigan in the final of the Midwest Regional.
After picking up a loose ball in his own backcourt, Stewart, an
extra-plump Hog who is known as Fat Flight to his teammates, started
dribbling upcourt to start the Razorback attack. At times like this,
most 6 ft. 8 in., 260-pound players can expect to see five suits with
clipboards jumping off the bench to tell them to give the ball up to
But Stewart was not to be denied. As the Wolverines' Jalen Rose
swooped in to try to cut him off, Stewart dribbled behind his back
without breaking stride and then dished a no-look pass to center
Darnell Robinson, who was flying down the lane. Even though Robinson
blew the dunk -- and got a costly technical for hanging on the rim --
Stewart's play was an eye-opener.
It was especially impressive for a guy who had tipped the scales
at just a Hog's hair less than 300 pounds when he arrived in
Fayetteville two seasons ago. The first time swingman Scotty Thurman
saw Stewart, he couldn't believe his eyes. Thurman remembers
thinking, This guy's going to play center for us?
However, by forsaking his beloved fried chicken and strawberry ice
cream in favor of a more balanced diet, the player who is also known
as Big Dog can now run with the pups. ''His whole game has picked up
since he lost that weight,'' says guard Corey Beck. ''It's improved
his quickness. He's getting more rebounds. He's even getting a couple
of steals, which surprises me.''
It also surprised Duke. Against the Blue Devils in the
championship game, Stewart matched his career high for steals with
One way Stewart has learned to steer clear of buffet tables is by
sidling up to pool tables. He's a regular at Fayetteville's River
City game room, where he has worked on his skills with the cue. That
could mean trouble for unsuspecting pool hall denizens, because
Stewart has always been something of a hustler, no matter the sport.
When he was a youngster, Stewart used his deceptive speed to earn
himself a little extra pocket money. It seems that some of the other
kids in his hometown of Memphis frequently questioned how fast he
could run. This inspired Stewart to challenge his doubters to
footraces for $10 a pop. ''Most people look at me like I'm going to
be slow,'' says Stewart. ''When that happens, I just have to erase
This season Stewart has grown accustomed to erasing folks with his
unorthodox big-man skills. In the Razorbacks' second-round defeat of
Georgetown, Stewart went 4 for 4 from beyond three-point range, and
in the , next round against Tulsa he made both treys he attempted.
''When I really get it going and I'm in a groove, it's hard for me to
miss,'' says Stewart.
Opposing coaches no longer allow Stewart to roam freely beyond the
three- point arc. ''Sometimes I can hear those coaches yelling at
their players,'' he says. ''They always want their guys to come out
and guard me.''
Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had to bark a few commands to his
charges in the championship game when Stewart set up on the high
post. However, what Stewart will remember more about the Final Four
than the sound of Coach K's voice was what he heard when he was
hugging his mother, Shirley Clark, before boarding the team bus for
Charlotte Coliseum on the evening of the final. When he leaned down
she whispered in his ear, ''You're going to win the national
championship.'' -- M.J.