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2000 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP / Second Wind / Hofstra's Richardson a gale force in final 20

The misses can mount in a hurry. First it might be a

three-pointer off the front rim. Then a pull-up jumper that's long. Before

long, Norman Richardson is 0-for-5 and you wonder if maybe he should become a

little more selective so he doesn't shoot Hofstra into oblivion.

But if you know Richardson, you know that's just not going to happen.

"When he misses three, four shots, he's going to keep shooting until one of

them goes in," teammate Speedy Claxton said.

When one of them finally goes in, this Coney Island confidence flows

through the 6-5, smooth-as-silk swingman, and he is poised to take over a game.

It happened in Saturday's America East Tournament championship win over

Delaware, when the Hofstra junior scored 20 of his 26 points in the second

half. That wasn't the first time Richardson struggled in the first half before

rising with the pressure of the second.

When he was asked afterward if he was ever concerned about his shot, he

answered the same way he did following 5-for-19 and 2-for-13 performances in

the season's final two weeks: "I come into every game confident that I'm going

to shoot well." It's Richardson's rallying cry, and it never wavers.

"He has the shortest memory of any guy I've ever coached," Jay Wright said.

When Hofstra's first-round NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma State

starts Friday, there's a good chance Richardson will be matched against Desmond

Mason, the Cowboys' 6-5 small forward who averages 18.1 points. Richardson,

slim and spidery, is listed at 200 pounds. Mason is 215 and can play inside, as

well, which has caused Wright to think about double-teaming him and using a

variety of players on him.

"I just have to go in and play like I've played every game," said

Richardson, who averages 16.1 points. "I'll try to play him like I've played

everyone else. I have confidence that I'm going to do pretty well."

Richardson's mettle runs deep. It's traced to Carey Gardens Park on West

23rd Street in Coney Island, the playground court where close siblings worked

on their games.

Richardson's older brother Derrick Brown, 25, played on Providence's Elite

Eight team in 1997. He has since made stops with the CBA and overseas and is

hoping to join the USBL this spring.

"The confidence comes from my brother," Richardson said. "He always told

me, 'If you miss some shots, don't let that get you down. Just keep playing and

eventually, the shots will start falling."'

Derrick didn't just instill confidence in Richardson. "He's like a father

figure to me," Richardson said. "Not growing up with a father, he taught me a

lot: how to play basketball, he told me to go to school and do the right

things."

They worked out at 23rd Street last summer, shooting 500 jumpers in the

morning, another 500 in the evening, followed by games of one-on-one. "That was

something else because he just overpowered me. It wasn't fair."

Also playing with the two was their 17-year-old brother Jamaal Brown, a

point guard at Lexington High, and 18-year-old cousin RaShawn Rosa, who

graduated from Grady last year. Jamaal Brown has been deaf since the age of 2.

"He means everything to me," Richardson said of Jamaal. "I want to do

everything positive, so he can look up to a positive influence."

Richardson's mother, Dorothy Brown, raised all four of them while working

as a corrections officer.

"I've known him since the seventh grade and have always been close to his

family," said Grady coach Jack Ringel, who also coached Dutchman junior Roberto

Gittens. "He's very special to me."

He's special to Derrick, too, who has watched his younger brother help take

Hofstra to the NCAAs and remembers their many workouts.

"His confidence comes from our talks," Derrick said. "And when we work out,

everything is confident."

Notes&Quotes: Oklahoma State point guard Doug Gottlieb said he watched

three-quarters of Hofstra's game Saturday from his Kansas City hotel room,

prior to the Cowboys' game against Iowa State in the Big 12 semifinals. "In the

first half, he [Speedy Claxton] had 12 points and didn't even look to be

exerting himself," Gottlieb said. "And when the opportunity presented itself,

he took over. That's the sign of an experienced player and somebody who has

confidence."

STORMIN' NORMAN

Norman Richardson's five best second halves:

March 11: Hofstra 76, Delaware 69

6-for-10, 20 points (26 total).

Feb. 10:Hofstra 92, Hartford 58 4-for-7, 12 points (16 total).

Feb. 6: Hofstra 82, Delaware 70 5-for-11, 22 points (27 total).

Jan. 2: Hofstra 74, Boston U. 46

6-for-7, 15 points (17 total).

Dec. 27: Hofstra 65, Rutgers 59 6-for-11, 16 points (23 total).

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