Bronx Tale A gritty guard from New York has helped make Pitt a title contender

February 02, 2004

Pittsburgh sophomore point guard Carl Krauser will never be
accused of forgetting his roots. Before every game Krauser writes
ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE IN NYC on his sneakers, and whenever he
makes a good play, he forms an X with his arms, which, he'll
readily tell one and all, represents the final letter of the
Bronx. After Pitt's 66-45 drubbing of Syracuse at the Carrier
Dome last Saturday, in which Krauser scored just five points but
had 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals, he mentioned
either the Bronx or New York City seven times in one

Krauser is also all business, as evidenced by his photo in the
Panthers' media guide, in which he's scowling at the camera as if
he's just smelled expired milk. It's a look that Krauser no doubt
used to good advantage when he was an amateur boxer, his other
love until he decided to focus on basketball at age 15.

Krauser's New York City game and combativeness is a major reason
why Pitt was 19-1 through Sunday and ranked seventh. He had big
shoes to fill this season, taking over at point guard for
honorable mention All-America Brandin Knight, whose eligibility
expired after leading the Panthers to a 28-5 record and their
second straight Sweet 16 appearance last season. Krauser went
from an 18.6-minute-a-game backup to a starter, and if there were
any doubts about his leadership abilities, they were erased early
as he helped Pitt win its first 18 games. Quick, aggressive and
flashy, Krauser was averaging 15.1 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6
steals a game at week's end. Says junior forward Chevon Troutman,
"We're more of a running team with him [than with Knight], and
he's definitely more of a scoring option. Even if he has two
defenders in front of him, he's going to push the ball and get
somebody open if he doesn't have a shot."

Such was often the case on Saturday, when Krauser would snare
defensive rebounds and bolt down the floor, big men in tow. At
the free throw line he would hesitate for a moment, just long
enough to allow his rumbling frontcourt mates to catch up, then
drop a no-look pass to one of them for a layup. It's a court
sense he developed on the city playgrounds and polished last
summer playing on an Entertainer's Basketball Classic squad at
Rucker Park as he worked on what he calls his "point guard
poise." His teammates included Nets forward Richard Jefferson,
and he went up against several NBA players, including Bulls guard
Jamal Crawford and Nets forward Kenyon Martin. Krauser says the
experience helped him learn how to control games without
necessarily scoring. "I try to feel the flow, get the ball to the
shooters and reward the big guys for battling down low," says

The big guys on the Panthers' imposing front line include the
6'7" Troutman and 6'10", 250-pound freshman Chris Taft, who was
averaging 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds at week's end and has
already been named Big East rookie of the week four times.
"They're a very strong, physical basketball team," said Syracuse
coach Jim Boeheim after his Orangemen were held to their lowest
point total since 1968. "They're at least as good or probably
better than they were last year."

Flush with victory, Krauser offered a prediction and, for the
first time, a longing for a city other than his hometown. "I see
us going to at least the Final Four," he said, then smiled. "I'd
love to be in San Antonio playing for the national championship."

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Krauser has been Pitt's catalyst, averaging 15.1 points and 4.9 assists a game.

three Pointer

1. Mississippi State is the best team in the SEC. The
under-the-radar Bulldogs, who pounded Florida and Georgia last
week to improve to 16-1, have two terrific players in 6'9"
Lawrence Roberts and 6'2" Timmy Bowers, and their only loss is a
buzzer-beating defeat to Kentucky on Jan. 13.

2. USC needs an attitude adjustment. Coach Henry Bibby has to
wonder which team is going to show up each night: the one that
upset Arizona on Jan. 15 or the one that has dropped three
straight since to fall to 8-9.

3. Providence is for real. Playing a solid 2-3 zone and riding
the stellar play of Ryan Gomes (26 points, 12 rebounds), the
Friars made a statement in last Saturday's 66-56 win at UConn,
outhustling the Huskies and improving to 13-3 (3-1 in the Big

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