"I'll be honest with you," Virginia Coach Terry Holland said, "I was teed off enough after last night that I considered not playing him." The "him" was Ralph Sampson, who had twice been whistled for elbowing Richmond players and who had once spat on the floor in a 102-85 Cavalier win in the first round of the Times-Dispatch tournament in Richmond. Neither Holland nor the Spiders appreciated Sampson's actions, which Sampson said stemmed from "getting elbows and forearms in the back." But in the title game, a 75-59 defeat of Old Dominion, Sampson was on his best behavior. What may have been more impressive than Sampson's 21 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots during that game was his refusal to engage in fisticuffs with rival Center Mark West, who tried to egg him on.
St. John's won the ECAC Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden for the third time in four years. The Redmen opened their defense with a 75-64 triumph over Brigham Young. In the finale, against previously unbeaten Wake Forest, David Russell of St. John's put on a virtuoso performance during the first three minutes of the second half, spinning free for a close-in basket, hitting again from underneath, dunking and then sinking a baseline jumper. Russell later topped off his 21-point effort by concluding a breakaway dash with a 360-degree slam. St. John's went on to a 72-65 win and Russell, just as in 1979, was the MVP.
The MVP of the Rochester Classic was a player who didn't start either game for his team—Guard Todd Berkenpas of Iowa. Although Berkenpas had only 22 points during the tournament, he kept coming off the bench to perk up the Hawkeyes, guiding them past James Madison 47-45 and Seton Hall 85-63.
Dereck Whittenburg and Thurl Bailey led North Carolina State to a 67-59 triumph over West Virginia at the Meadowlands. Whittenburg scored 19 points, including 13 of the Wolfpack's first 18 in the second half. Bailey contributed 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
Syracuse missed nine of its first 10 shots against Pittsburgh before finding the range and winning 87-66. Against Canisius, the Orangemen got off to a quick start—38 points in the first 10 minutes—and breezed 109-76.
Stuart Gray, UCLA's 7-foot sophomore, had a few unkind words to say to himself when he sat down as his teammates warmed up for the second half against Louisville. After the game. Gray explained it this way: "I just said to myself, 'You're a big, slow, white center.' I don't mind it when others say it or write it. When I say it to myself, though, I get mad." Gray's soliloquy was prompted by a miserable first half in which he had no points and three fouls and spent most of the time on the sideline. After picking up his fourth foul early in the second half, Gray again sat down. Then, with the Cardinals leading 64-54, he went back in and began popping in shots and pulling down rebounds. It was Gray's stuff with 29 seconds remaining that finally put the Bruins ahead 74-72. Gray wound up with 14 points and nine rebounds for the game and was the main man as UCLA rallied for a 76-72 victory. While the Bruins got hot, the Cardinals went cold, failing to score a single point during the final 4:44.
For Nevada-Las Vegas, the catalyst during its Holiday Classic was Guard Jeff Collins, a transfer from Arizona. With the first semester ended, Collins became eligible to play for the Rebels—and play he did, winning the MVP award. In an opening-round 120-70 drubbing of Wagner, Collins pumped in 11 of 13 shots, scored 25 points, dished out nine assists, made a school-record seven steals and grabbed five rebounds—all in 23 minutes. With Collins scoring 18 more points, Vegas then upset Tennessee 70-54 to win its second at-home tournament in seven days. (The week before, UNLV had taken the Rebel Roundup.) Las Vegas outrebounded Tennessee 40-27, and the Rebels' Sidney Green got the edge in his battle with the Vols' Dale Ellis, 25-24 in scoring and 13-6 in rebounds.
There was a sweet triumph for North Carolina at the end of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu. The Tar Heels, who had defeated Texas Tech 79-47 and Oklahoma 77-69 in the first two rounds, trailed Missouri by 10 points in the championship game before squaring the score at 31-31 at halftime. At the start of the second half, the Tigers canned nine of their first 10 field-goal tries. North Carolina, though, was also on target, sinking 14 of its first 18 shots and pulling away from a 52-all deadlock to win 73-58. That victory, in which Sam Perkins had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Tar Heels, enabled Carolina to avenge an early-season 64-60 loss to Missouri.
"Whatley took over the game as much as any player I've coached against in 10 years," said Southern Cat's Stan Morrison following a 74-61 loss to Alabama in the opening round of the Winston Tire Classic in Los Angeles. Crimson Tide Guard Ennis Whatley dazzled Morrison with his 20 points and six assists and his ability to take charge. Although Whatley had only nine points to go with his nine assists in the finale against Georgetown, he again was in command as 'Bama romped 94-73. With Whatley feeding him, Tide Forward Terry Williams put in 14 of 15 shots and ended up with 28 points.
Two years ago at the World University Games, Villanova's John Pinone met San Diego State Trainer Bob Moore. Last week, at the Cabrillo Classic in San Diego, Pinone saw Moore and asked for some medical advice. Pi-none's problem was a sore back, one that had been bothering him more and more during the past month. "He gave me some exercises to do and gave me a treatment," Pinone said. "It helped. The back feels better than it has in weeks." Pinone felt so good he scored 22 points, had eight rebounds and played solid defense as the Wildcats beat San Diego State 63-57 in the title game.
Wichita State Coach Gene Smithson had a problem: Where was he going to play Antoine Carr, his 6'9" All-Missouri Valley Conference forward, who had recuperated from a right shinbone stress fracture and was finally ready to take the floor for the Shockers? After all, Smithson's team had won five of its first six games this season without Carr. Well, Smithson got 26 minutes of playing time from Carr against Pacific. With him scoring 14 points and with Xavier McDaniel getting 21, the Shockers won 75-66.
Memphis State was having a tough time against Southern Mississippi, leading 13-12 with 11:42 left in the first half, when the Tigers went on a 16-4 tear. When it was all over, Memphis State had an 81-60 victory. Keith Lee's marksmanship—eight of 11 from the floor and 14 of 15 from the line—produced 30 points for the Tigers.
The oldest in-season tournament, the All-College in Oklahoma City, was held for the 47th time. Oklahoma State came out on top by beating Houston Baptist 50-39 and Oklahoma City 76-64 as Guard Matt Clark had a total of 37 points and 12 assists and was chosen the MVP for the second time in his career. Only one other player in the history of the All-College tournament—Bob Kurland of the Cowboys in 1945 and '46—had won the award twice.
"It's like being invited by the Indians to Custer's last stand," grumbled Grambling's 6'9" Napoleon Johnson. What the Tigers had been invited to was the first Hoosier Classic in Indianapolis. Indiana beat Grambling 110-62 and then got 19 points from Randy Wittman while stopping Nebraska 67-50.
By beating Columbia 86-53 and Western Kentucky 90-69, Georgia (9-0) won the Cotton States Classic in Atlanta. Tournament officials, who insisted that MVP ballots be turned in even though there was 12:40 to go in the finale, were chagrined when winner James Banks of the Bulldogs accepted the trophy and said, "It doesn't belong to me. I would like to present this trophy to my good friend and roommate, and the player who really deserves it—Vern Fleming." Fleming, who finished with a late flourish to lead all scorers with 23 points in the championship game, was subsequently declared the official MVP. However, he was still left off the all-tournament team.
But Southwestern Louisiana, Stetson and Jacksonville came up short in tournaments at or near home. The Ragin' Cajuns (9-1), who in the previous two weeks had won their own Bayou Classic and a similar event in Reno, were 65-56 losers to Mississippi State in the finale of the Sugar Bowl tournament in New Orleans. Stetson's Hatters (8-1) were beaten 61-60 by Purdue in the title game of the Tangerine Bowl tournament in Winter Park, Fla. During Florida's matchup against Jacksonville in the title game of the Gator Bowl tournament in Jacksonville, no one was more nervous than Sharon Sullivan, Gator Coach Norm Sloan's secretary. Sullivan was hoping she'd be able to unveil a surprise for her boss, and with 17 seconds left in what turned out to be a 56-47 Florida triumph, she got her wish as Gator players were handed orange T shirts bearing the words: I WAS PART OF COACH NORM SLOAN'S 500TH WIN.
"We were terrible in the first half. We had passes going off fingers, hands and knees. Then our ball-handling guards tried to dribble off their knees or feet. It was terrible." That's what Illinois State Coach Bob Donewald had to say about his team's first-half play against Northern Iowa. Such sloppiness left the Red-birds behind 30-29 at the intermission. Illinois State Guard Dwayne Tyus, who had done more than his share of bungling early in the proceedings, scored all 18 of his points in the second half to propel the Redbirds to a 66-60 victory.
Hustling, aggressive defense by Kentucky forced Kansas into 17 turnovers and 36.4% shooting as the Wildcats won 83-62. Kentucky took charge with a 12-0 spurt midway through the first half, with reserve Guard Dicky Beal picking up four assists during that decisive surge.
Despite a subpar performance by Keith Lee, who had only 12 points, Memphis State prevailed 63-58 at Mississippi.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WAYMAN TISDALE: The 6'9" Oklahoma freshman, who had 102 points and 43 rebounds in three Rainbow Classic games, led his team to a 96-85 third-place win over Hawaii with 44 points and 17 boards.