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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Smart recounts winning shot for Indiana in '87
By Phillip Lee
Special to ESPN Classic

In just one second, millions of thoughts can flash through a person's head. That was the case when Keith Smart hit the game-winning basket to help the Indiana Hoosiers knock off the Syracuse Orangemen in the finals of the 1987 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament.

It only took seconds for Smart to receive the pass and get a shot off, but what was going through his mind? Plenty.

"In that small time frame, the hours of practice and hearing those coaches say things came into play, " said Smart, who is in his first year as an assistant coach and director of player development for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While Smart's mind was racing, his thoughts turned to three simple things: move, jump and shoot.
Keith Smart
Keith Smart's game-winner lifted Indiana past Syracuse, 74-73, in the '87 NCAA championship game.

"I just remember something that (Indiana assistant coach) Ron Felling talked about all the time," Smart said. "Actually two things. One was "pass, don't stand" meaning to pass the ball and move to another spot and I think that's why I was able to get a shot off because I passed the ball in and I moved from my original spot. I think (Syracuse's) Howard Triche went back to the spot where I was.

"I moved to the baseline and the next thing that Ron talked about was "jump up, shoot up,"" he continued. "I did the same thing. I jumped and shot the ball up and it went in. Now I had just taken a shot from the other side a little bit earlier and missed that one. This one I just corrected myself, the jump up, shoot up. I got good lift on myself and the ball and that was it."

Ironically, Smart was the last option on the court. The Hooisers looked for Steve Alford first and then Joe Hillman. If neither was open, they looked inside to either Dean Garrett or Daryl Thomas. It was up to Smart to make a play and he did.

Smart also believes that not calling a timeout was the right thing to do after getting the ball back for the final possession.

"Luckily (Indiana coach Bob Knight) didn't call a timeout," Smart said. "Now as I'm on the coaching side and looking at everything, it was really a smart move because I think if we would've called a timeout, coach would've designed a play and we would have had tunnel vision in trying to get Steve the ball in a certain area. I think we would've lost time by trying to focus and force something. This way we played free and let what we had learned all season dictate the outcome."

The shot has motivated Smart to keep striving to reach higher goals and eventually get back to the pinnacle of success.

"One thing it did for me is that it put me into a mindset of thinking like a champion," Smart said. "You've gotten that chance to reach that point and win a championship and you're trying constantly get back to there. It's kept me focused on everything that I'm doing.

"It's kinda like the shot is chasing me, making me stay on my toes," he added. "It keeps me sharp. People are always talking about it. I'm Keith Smart, the guy who made the shot in 1987. It's propelled me into making the right decisions and the right choices so when things are spoken about me they're spoken in a good light for my family."

Here's Smart's account of the final seconds of the game:
"Derrick Coleman missed the front-end of a one-and-one, Daryl Thomas got the rebound and passed it out to me. I brought it up court and passed it over to Joe Hillman and instructed him to go behind which brought the ball to center court. He passed the ball back to me. We were looking for Steve Alford in our offense," he continued. "If he's not open we would look for one of our slashers, in that case it was Joe Hillman, who was in the game at the time. If he's not available, we would look to go inside - Dean Garrett or Daryl Thomas. Thomas was the guy available so I passed it into him. He didn't have a shot and didn't force anything so he passed it back out to me. I made a move going towards the left baseline and got a shot off and the rest was history."

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