ATLANTA (AP) – Mike Davis took the criticism a little too hard. He fretted about the impact on his family. He even thought of quitting.

Charles Goddeeris
Indiana coach Mike Davis instructs sophomore standout Jared Jeffries. The Hoosiers face off against Oklahoma in the national semifinals tomorrow.
[DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily]

Good thing the Indiana coach decided to stick it out.

Davis began to escape the imposing shadow of Bob Knight by taking the Hoosiers to their first Final Four since 1992. While the journey was ultimately rewarding, there was plenty of discord along the way.

“I knew it was going to be a tough task,” Davis said Wednesday. “I just wasn’t ready for how tough it’s been.”

Anyone who succeeded Knight – especially after the General was forced out under nasty circumstances – was going to face resentment in the Hoosier Nation. Still, Davis let the condemnation become a little too personal.

“Now I understand it’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about being the guy who followed coach Knight.”

Tomorrow, Indiana meets Oklahoma before more than 50,000 fans at the Georgia Dome. Kansas and Maryland, both No. 1 seeds, are paired in the other semifinal.

The winners will play Monday night for the championship.

Coverdale still in question: Indiana point guard Tom Coverdale is off crutches but is still questionable for the national semifinal tomorrow night because of his sprained ankle.

The team won’t make a decision on whether he plays until game time, Hoosiers spokesman Jeff Fanter said yesterday.

Coverdale, a starter, sprained his left ankle last Saturday in the Hoosiers’ 81-69 victory over Kent State in the South Regional Championship.

He rode a stationary bicycle for the second straight day yesterday. Earlier this week he was on crutches and wore an “ice boot.”

If Coverdale can’t play, he would be replaced by freshman Donald Perry.

Coverdale, the MVP of the regional, is second on the team in scoring at 12.2 points a game. His 172 assists are almost double the next best total on the team.

Hogs hire Heath: After a 30-win season and whirlwind ride through the NCAA tournament, Stan Heath was hired yesterday as the successor to Nolan Richardson as the coach at Arkansas.

Heath, who guided Kent State to the final eight of the NCAA tournament, replaces the only coach to lead the Razorbacks to an NCAA basketball title. Richardson was fired one game shy of completing his 17th year at the school.

Heath called Richardson a pioneer for black basketball coaches.

“I’d like to thank Coach Richardson,” said Heath, who is black. “He’s opened up barriers. He’s a leader.”

Arkansas hopes Heath can extend his one year of success at Kent State to a school that won the NCAA title in 1994 and made three Final Fours between 1990 and 1995.

“We have a coach here who can continue the great tradition of Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson,” athletic director Frank Broyles said.

Heath inherits a team that was 14-15 last season. He said he talked to Richardson before accepting the job.

“I feel like Coach Richardson would want me to be here,” Heath said.

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