In seven years with this magazine. Staff Writer Kent Hannon has chased down some unusual stories. There was the one about the 8-year-old boy from Orlando, Fla., who was a black belt in karate, and the one about "the Babe Ruth of Softball," a 42-year-old hospital worker from Queens, N.Y. He has also covered baseball—last summer he wrote stories on the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox—but most of Hannon's work for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has been on college basketball.
It is a beat that most recently has required him to make a large number of trips through the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects Manhattan and New Jersey. On his latest expense account Hannon has billed us for $22.50 in tolls, or 15 round trips, in return for which we have been rewarded with a pair of stories on two of the Garden State's most striking sports personalities.
Hannon's article on Pete Carril, Princeton's cigar-chomping basketball coach whose teams led the nation in defense the last two years, begins on page 26. His report on the most prolific scorer in women's basketball, Carol Blazejowski, of Montclair State College, follows on page 35.
"In five minutes, Carril and Blazejowski would be at each other's throats," says Hannon. "She is exactly the kind of player that he used to be, but now hates—brash, extremely vocal and eager to shoot. Pete is also very learned; he's fond of quoting Siegfried Sassoon. Carol would think he was talking about a hair stylist."
Hannon's flair for writing began to emerge at Purdue in 1966, when he failed everything one semester except English and Marching Band (he played French horn). He wisely made the transition from engineering to journalism, from halftime shows to the press box, and began logging 40-hour weeks at the student newspaper. While he was its sports editor he met his future wife, Sharron, a free-lance writer in New York, and first made connections with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
"Purdue was sky high in football and basketball when I was in school," says Hannon. "Bob Griese, Mike Phipps, Leroy Keyes and Rick Mount were always appearing in the pages of SI, and since I traveled with Boilermaker teams, I had ample opportunity to pester people like Dan Jenkins and Merv Hyman about getting me a job."
Hannon's persistence was never more evident than last October, when he arranged for the nation's five best jump-shooters to come to New York to be photographed for his cover story in the college basketball issue (SI, Nov. 28). The week-long ordeal included long days in the studio and such unscheduled difficulties as the injured knee of Greg Sanders, who arrived from St. Bonaventure on crutches, and the missing luggage (with all his uniforms) of Arkansas' Marvin Delph.
After one extremely taxing day Hannon and North Carolina's Phil Ford relaxed by playing a distinctly one-sided game of H-O-R-S-E on the court SI had fashioned in its West 54th Street studio. "No one would mistake the sports-writer for the All-America, would they?" said Hannon, after Ford had vanquished him with five baskets in a row. "Maybe not," replied Ford, "but it would be just as easy to tell us apart by comparing our writing."
HANNON: HIS TALES WERE WELL-TOLLED