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BU center uses emotions in games

Nov. 19, 1998


Sports Writer

Kish Lewis is a volcano ready to explode at any second. Each time he sets foot on the court, his blood pressure begins to rise and he unleashes a titanic outburst of emotion.

That's because Lewis' emotional state dictates his performance on the court. On any given night, Lewis can ride his emotions to a superior performance. Other times, those emotions can also be his downfall.

The senior from Troy, Mo., isn't just working on his hook shot or his turnaround jumper. Lewis is concentrating on containing his emotions so he can inherit the throne NBA draft pick Brian Skinner vacated at the starting center position for the Baylor men's basketball team.

'I'm out there trying to win, trying to beat my opponent, and sometimes expression just comes out,' Lewis said.

But if Lewis is to replace Skinner's 18.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game, head Coach Harry Miller says Lewis will have to start from the defensive side of the court.

'I'm really concerned there (defensively), particularly in keeping the ball away from the opposing team and staying out of foul trouble,' Miller said. '(Offensively) he needs to be a little quicker and more decisive in his moves. He needs what I call an 'economy of motion.''

Last season Lewis averaged 12.1 minutes per game while playing behind Skinner. Though Lewis may not have much playing time under his belt, Miller believes working with Skinner during practices has helped him improve his play.

'Having to go up against Brian makes everything seem a lot easier now, but I used to beat him down during practice too,' Lewis said, as he defended himself with a smile while shooting baskets at Russell Gymnasium. 'I feel confident that whoever we face ... whatever challenge the other team presents to me ... I feel I can rise to the occasion and do my best to play my heart out.'

Lewis says he welcomes the new challenge and the responsibility of being the Bears' main inside threat. But Lewis also added that he has an approach to the game that's different from Skinner's, who would overpower his opponents with brute strength and size.

'Some people say I need to fill in Brian Skinner's shoes inside,' Lewis said. 'But I feel like I just have to bring to the table what I can bring. Physically, Brian is a lot stronger and athletic. But maybe I can bring a little more versatility, some scoring from the mid-range game, just some different moves around the basket.'

Offensively, the Bears have a new look this year. Miller says there will be more open court scoring and as many fast breaks as possible. Miller's need to implement a new interior game plan stems from the fact that Lewis is not the usual size for a collegiate center.

Standing at 6-foot 8-inches and 235 pounds, Lewis has a center's mentality but is trapped in a forward's body. However, Lewis says he has learned to counter for his lack of height.

'I've always played against guys who have been bigger and stronger than me, and Brian was no exception,' Lewis said. 'I've just learned the tricks of the trade and learned to compensate for my height. I'm going to try to play the game where they can't score if they can't touch the ball.'

In Lewis's first start in Monday's game against Arkansas State, he put up numbers that would make Baylor fans think Skinner was still in a Bear uniform. Lewis's statistics: 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, 16 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

'A guy like Kish ... he's relentless,' Miller said. 'And it will be hard for a guy like him not to have good numbers at the end of the game.'

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