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IU looks at Coverdale's backup

While starting point guard Tom Coverdale hobbled around campus on crutches Monday, Indiana practiced with Coverdale's likely replacement, freshman Donald Perry.

Coverdale, the team's second-leading scorer, sprained his left ankle during Saturday's 81-69 South Region final victory over Kent State.

Two days after being wheeled off the court, Coverdale wore a boot over the injured ankle and could not put weight on the leg.

Yet coach Mike Davis said he expected Coverdale to play Saturday against Oklahoma in the first of two national semifinals.

"He couldn't even walk before we played North Carolina-Wilmington and he played," Davis said about the original injury Coverdale sustained in a first-round game against Utah. "I think he'll play because I know Tom."

Coverdale sprained his left ankle against Utah, but trainer Tim Garl said the second injury was in a different spot.

"It's been crazy with all the phone calls we, and especially (Garl), have gotten," Coverdale said. "People are offering everything from herbal remedies to sticking my ankle in vinegar. I think Tim has been there long enough to where he knows what's good for my ankle."

Davis said the Hoosiers would not know until Thursday whether Coverdale could play.

Even if he does, Coverdale wouldn't be 100 percent. So at IU's first practice since advancing to the Final Four, Perry, from Tallulah, La., played with the starters.

KANSAS: The Jayhawks' season will end in Atlanta, at the Georgia Dome, in their first Final Four since 1993. But look five years back from then, to a March night at Kansas City's Kemper Arena, to see what drives this team.

Now, nothing short of a first national title since 1988, the year before Roy Williams took over as coach, will do.

"Our goal wasn't to reach the Final Four. It was to win the national championship," said junior forward Nick Collison, who had 25 points and 15 rebounds in Sunday's 104-86 win over Oregon in the Midwest Region final.

"We want to do it for coach Williams, because of all the things people have said about him," freshman point guard Aaron Miles said, "but we also want to do it for ourselves as a team."

OKLAHOMA: Guard Hollis Price needs extra time to warm up before games. When he's on the sideline, a heating pad helps keep his injured right arm loose.

It must be working.

The Sooners are back in the Final Four for the first time since 1988 in large part because of Price, who went down with a gruesome elbow injury in the first round of last year's tournament.

He's averaging 18.2 points in this tournament, a remarkable turnaround for a player who needed three operations.

Price tore the triceps tendon and had nerve damage after coming down hard on an Indiana State player's lower teeth during a drive in the Sooners' loss. Price ended up with a piece of the opponent's tooth in his arm.

"I don't think it'll ever be 100 percent," Price said. " Once I get into a game, I really don't think about it."

MARYLAND: The school hopes this Final Four goes better than last year's. After Maryland blew a 22-point lead and lost to Duke in the semifinals last year, fans lit more than 60 fires around College Park, causing more than $500,000 worth of damage.

"Everybody was wilding out after we lost," said Sanjay Singh, 23. "Now we know how to handle ourselves. Maryland is trying to build themselves, and this is another step. To build a dynasty, we need to win the national championship."

RATINGS: Preliminary ratings for CBS's coverage of the tournament are up 10 percent from a year ago. The telecasts have been watched in 6.4 percent of homes in the top 55 U.S. media markets, up from 5.8 percent a year ago. The numbers are the best since 1994, when CBS's coverage averaged a 6.6 rating in the largest markets.

_ TIMES WIRES

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