Kyle Korver of surprising Creighton is no longer just a
Basketball isn't just a passion for Kyle Korver, the high-scoring
forward for No. 16 Creighton, but it's also something of a second
religion for his entire family. Kyle's father, Kevin, is the
senior pastor of the Third Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, where
he was a shooting guard for Division III Central College in the
mid-1970s. Kyle's mother, Laine, also played for Central, at
forward, after once scoring 74 points in a high school game.
Three of Kyle's uncles played at Division III or NAIA schools in
Iowa. (Two uncles are now clergymen, as well.) All three of
Kyle's younger brothers play too, including 18-year-old Klayton,
a forward at Pella Community High who last fall committed to
Drake in Des Moines. "Most of my friends in Pella played
football, but I always played basketball because of my family,"
says Kyle. "I was always either in school, at home or in the
As a result of his upbringing, Korver, a 6'7" senior, now
possesses one of the most divine shooting strokes in the nation,
which has enabled him to help Creighton to its best start in more
than three decades. The Bluejays were 11-1 after Korver scored a
game-high 23 points in their 84-63 win over Drake on Sunday.
Though it dropped one notch in this week's AP poll, Creighton is
still ranked for the first time since 1974-75. The runaway
favorite to win his second straight Missouri Valley Conference
player of the year award, Korver was leading Creighton in scoring
(19.8 points a game), rebounds (5.8) and assists (3.3). He was
also fourth in the nation in three-pointers made per game (4.7)
and was hitting 54.4% of his shots from beyond the arc.
Korver's long-range shooting is so good that he made 67.6% of his
three-point attempts in Creighton's first four games, which were
played using experimental rules that put the line at the
international distance of 20'6", nine inches farther than normal.
Says Bluejays coach Dana Altman, "The ball looks so good coming
off his hand, you're surprised when it doesn't go in."
Korver practices hard, but he refuses to adopt an overly
structured regimen. "Coaches have tried to give me drills and
programs, but that makes practicing feel like a job," he says. "I
shoot until I feel comfortable, and then I stop." Since arriving
at Creighton, Korver also has worked hard to prove he's more than
just a shooter.
Creighton earned automatic bids to three of the last four NCAA
tournaments by winning its league tournament, and last March,
Korver had 16 points in the Bluejays' 83-82 first-round upset of
fifth-seeded Florida in the Midwest Regional. But he sees that as
mere prelude. "I'm not looking back on my career right now and
thinking, O.K., that's enough," he says. "No real player does
that. I still have a lot more I hope to accomplish."
Can This Coach Be Saved?
UCLA coach Steve Lavin likes to refer to the start of conference
play as the second season, and its arrival this year may be
especially welcome because it marks the end of a miserable first
season for the Bruins. After its worst nonconference start (2-5)
in 18 years, UCLA began Pac-10 play last week on a positive note
by sweeping conference doormats Washington and Washington State
on the road. "Right now we need all the positive momentum we can
get," said Lavin.
It's probably no coincidence that UCLA has played much better
away from home, where the calls for Lavin's firing have been
everywhere. "Sometimes when you're struggling, it helps to get
out of Los Angeles," Lavin says.
It also helps to be at full strength. Three talented sophomores,
forward Andre Patterson, swingman Dijon Thompson and guard Ryan
Walcott, missed several games in the first two months because of
injury or eligibility issues, but all were in action last week,
giving UCLA a formidable 10-man rotation. Forward Jason Kapono's
44-point explosion against Washington State, on 9-of-10 shooting
from three-point range, also bodes well.
Even in victory, however, the Bruins' shortcomings were apparent
as they committed 29 turnovers in last Thursday's 77-67 win over
Washington. What's more, the Bruins frequently have shown a lack
of passion. "I don't think everyone in this locker room always
understands what it means to play for UCLA," says senior guard
Ray Young. "We should know by now that we need to play hard or
Losing is probably not an option for Lavin, who has a new boss in
first-year athletic director Dan Guerrero. Four weeks ago
Guerrero fired football coach Bob Toledo, who was 49-32 in seven
seasons, and since then the AD has had numerous chances to give
Lavin a public word of support, but he has remained conspicuously
silent. UCLA has been to five Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight
during Lavin's six years as coach, and it will probably take that
kind of late rush to save his job. Still, Lavin believes that
will happen. "I've always said that if you stay on the path of
progress, you'll make the necessary improvements to succeed," he
Butler's Free Throw King
Archey's Mark: 76 and Counting
As Darnell Archey, Butler's senior guard, closed in on the NCAA
record for consecutive free throws made, his teammates grew
increasingly reluctant to mention the streak for fear of jinxing
him. Archey, however, counted the numbers to himself as he made
each one, right through the record-breaking 74th consecutive shot
last Saturday late in the first half of the Bulldogs' 68-65 win
over Illinois-Chicago. He made two other attempts in the second
half to boost the new mark to 76. "I was joking with my teammates
that I was going to shoot the last few with my eyes closed," said
Archey, who hadn't missed a foul shot since Feb. 8, 2001.
As a senior at New Castle (Ind.) Chrysler High, Archey went
after Steve Alford's school record of 64 straight, but his quest
ended at 40. Likewise he'll undoubtedly come up short of the NCAA
record for career free throw percentage (90.9%), which is held by
Greg Starrick, who played at Kentucky and Southern Illinois from
1969-72. Archey, a reserve until this season, almost certainly
won't get the 300 made free throws required to qualify. (Through
Sunday he was 119 for 125 in his career, a 95.2% clip.)
COLOR PHOTO: NATI HARNIK/AP Korver's all-around skills are a major reason the Bluejays are 11-1 and ranked No. 16.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH Young and his fellow Bruins are trapped in a worse-than-usual early-season funk.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO (HILL)
Read Hoop Thoughts by Seth Davis every week at
1. Cincinnati's Conference USA dominance is near an end. The
Bearcats have earned at least a share of every regular season
championship since the league was formed in 1995-96, but they've
appeared vulnerable during a 7-3 start. Meanwhile the league is
tougher than ever at the top, with No. 19 Louisville, No. 24
Marquette and Memphis all capable of winning the conference
2. Now the SEC is a football and a basketball league. At week's
end the conference's hoopsters had five ranked teams, with
Alabama and Mississippi State in the Top 10.
3. Wayne Simien's injury couldn't have come at a worse time for
Kansas. The Jayhawks' sophomore starting forward (15.9 points,
8.7 rebounds per game) is out indefinitely after dislocating his
right shoulder in Saturday's 100-44 win over Missouri-Kansas
City. Coach Roy Williams needs junior Jeff Graves (2.8 ppg, 4.0
rpg) to step up as Kansas enters the cauldron of the Big 12
Who Is...Chris Hill?
He's Michigan State's 6'3" sophomore star, and at week's end he
was ranked in the Big Ten's top 10 in seven statistical
categories, including scoring (eighth, 16.0 points a game),
steals (tied for second, 2.0), assists (seventh, 4.3) and
three-point percentage (fourth, .448), despite playing out of
position at point guard. The Indianapolis-area native is also
among the top players in the conference in grade-point average
(3.89, major undecided), football prowess (he was a
record-setting quarterback at Lawrence North High) and golfing
ability (he shoots in the low 80s). Here are Hill's thoughts on
some of his pursuits and goals.
Favorite basketball player: Michael Jordan. "I always rooted for
the Bulls when I was growing up, and I love the way he competes."
Dream golf partners: George W. Bush, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods.
On the Augusta National controversy: "I think women should be
allowed as members, but I don't think it's fair to ask individual
players like Tiger to take a stand."
Currently in the CD changer: Boyz II Men, Full Circle; Musiq,
Juslisen; Ludacris, Word of Mouf; Ginuwine, The Life.
Favorite book: Hannibal, by Thomas Harris.
Dream date: Halle Berry. "She's the most beautiful woman in the
world, and I'd love to know what she's like in person."
Person I'd most like to meet: Muhammad Ali.
Tattoos: None. "It's not that I'm afraid of the pain, I just have
never gotten into that look."
Favorite teacher: Mrs. Muench, second grade, Indian Creek
Elementary, Indianapolis. "She was a real small woman, but she
always had a smile on her face. She made it fun to learn."
If I can't be a pro athlete I'll be ... : "Definitely doing
something where I can have flexibility, like owning a company. I
think I'd like being my own boss."