"I think we can play with anybody, but I don't know if we should be ranked," said Michael Adams, Boston College's Doug Flutie—size point guard, after the Eagles' 82-80 overtime road loss to Georgetown. "When we were ranked last year [as high as sixth] it went to our heads, and we were blown out of the water." Though BC (now 10-1) was off to its fastest start in 27 years, the oddsmakers figured the Eagles to be just another blowout victim for the Hammerin' Hoyas. "They said we were 16-point underdogs," said BC guard Dominic Pressley. "I didn't believe it, and I don't think anyone else does who watched this game. It was a war out there, and we matched them point-for-point and elbow-for-elbow." Adams had 20 points, Pressley 19, and the Eagles frustrated Georgetown with a sagging zone and a trap press. But swingman Reggie Williams sealed Georgetown's third two-point triumph over BC in less than a year by stripping Skip Barry of the ball under the Eagle basket with 23 seconds left in OT.
Before Villanova's game with previously undefeated Syracuse in the Palestra, Wildcat coach Rollie Massimino decided to bench senior forward Dwayne McClain in favor of freshman Mark Plansky. Though Daddy Mass at first claimed that the change was merely strategic, the real reason for the switch was to give the sometimes erratic McClain a swift kick in the psyche. "I've got to motivate Dwayne, that's it," said Massimino. "Get him in, get him going, because he's a talented athlete." The ploy worked. After McClain finally got into the game with 7:57 gone in the first half, he scored 21 points and had seven rebounds to spark Villanova to an 82-70 upset of the Orangemen.
There has been no cause for celebration at Holy Cross this season. The Crusaders (2-8) are off to their worst start ever, but, more serious, on Dec. 29 the team's four blacks—guards Jim Runcie and Larry Westbrook, swingman Doug McCrory and center Walter Coates—walked off the team, claiming that racism has long existed among the Crusaders. The walkout was precipitated by an incident in which forward Dennis Ahern, who is white, punched Runcie during a practice. Ahern later found his coat slashed, and the next day Runcie, by his own admission, jumped Ahern at the motel where the team was staying during Christmas break and punched him. Three days later, Runcie and Westbrook, the team's leading scorer, both of whom have at one time been suspended for attitudinal reasons, were dismissed by coach George Blaney. McCrory and Coates were invited to rejoin the team, but at week's end neither had done so.
Lester Rowe's follow dunk at the buzzer gave West Virginia a 51-50 Atlantic 10 victory over St. Joseph's on Saturday in Philadelphia—or so it appeared. But five minutes into the Mountaineers' dressing room celebration, they were informed that the officials had decided that Rowe's basket had come after the buzzer. The final final score: 50-49, St. Joe's—or so it appeared. On Monday, conference commissioner Charlie Theokas reversed the officials' reversal, reawarding the victory to West Virginia. Theokas said that because the refs' decision had come after they had left the floor, it was invalid.
Ever since his days at Crawford County High in Roberta, Ga., Kentucky forward Kenny (Sky) Walker has made a practice of retreating to a silent place before every home game to contemplate his opponent and his responsibilities. It's not quite self-hypnosis; it's just his way of putting on his game face. He never looked as mean as he did in the surging Wildcats' victories over Kansas (92-89), Auburn (68-61) and N.C. State (78-62). Against the Jayhawks he scored a career-high 36 points and had 19 rebounds; in Kentucky's SEC opener against Auburn he got 24 points and 18 boards. Walker capped the week by pouring in 28 points—including 12 of 13 free throws—and getting eight rebounds against the Wolfpack. "Kenny Walker is the best player we've faced all season," said N.C. State coach Jim Valvano, who watched his faltering team lose its third straight game. "But this was also our poorest outing of the season. If I knew what was wrong with us, I wouldn't have this rash all over my body."
When Gene Bartow went to Alabama-Birmingham in 1977 to initiate the Blazers' basketball program, one of the first teams with which he arranged a date was DePaul. Bartow had beaten his old friend, Blue Demons coach Ray Meyer, once while Bartow was at UCLA, but UAB never beat coach Ray's team in six tries. After Saturday's 66-59 upset of DePaul in Birmingham, however, Bartow's record against coach Joey Meyer is 1-0.
After North Carolina's 78-69 victory over Florida State in Miami, Tar Heel coach Dean Smith was asked if he had a decorating suggestion for the James L. Knight Center. All of the Knight Center's 4,500 seats are located on the east side of the building, behind the benches, leaving the spectators, coaches and substitutes with nothing to look at but the game in progress, as well as a vast brown wall behind it. "I like the atmosphere here," said the always diplomatic Smith. "But they should put up a giant picture of [the inside of] an arena on the wall in front of us for the benefit of the coaches and players."
Michigan State center Ken Johnson says he and his teammates learned a lesson last season when the Spartans bombed after being listed among the favorites to win the Big Ten title. "We learned that preseason ratings mean absolutely nothing," says Johnson, who had 36 points and 20 rebounds in victories over Ohio State (82-79) and Indiana (68-61), despite playing with a sprained right knee. No one expected the Spartans to contend for the conference title this season, yet the wins raised their overall record to 11-1, their best start since 1977-78.
Iowa, another favorite-turned-failure last season, ran its record to 13-2 with a 64-60 triumph over Illinois, this season's snakebitten preseason pick. It didn't even matter that Hawkeye coach George Raveling missed the game because of the flu. "George had the number of our dressing room and our halftime room," said Iowa assistant coach Brian Hammel, who handled the team. "But he didn't call even when we were behind at the half. Either he was satisfied or he was too sick to call." The defeat of the Illini and an earlier 75-63 beating of Purdue enabled the Hawkeyes to match their victory total of 1983-84.
After Nevada—Las Vegas's record-breaking 142-140 triple-overtime victory at Utah State, coach Jerry Tarkanian leaned on a table in the jubilant Runnin' Rebel locker room and managed a wan smile. "That was the most incredible game I've ever been involved with," he said. "This was the utmost in team victories because everybody had to contribute. Everybody."
Tark wasn't kidding. By the third extra period, six UNLV players had fouled out. leaving Tark with his last five available bodies. One of them, center Richard Robinson, teetered to the end with four fouls. The 282 total points surpassed the NCAA record established by UNLV—who else?—and Hawaii-Hilo in 1976, Vegas winning 164-111. This time five players scored 30 points or more—Utah State's Jeff Anderson (37), Vince Washington (36) and Greg Grant (31) and UNLV's Richie Adams (37) and Freddie Banks (31). Robinson's tap-in 54:19 into the game gave the Rebels the win.
Oregon State defeated Washington 52-45 in an early Pac-10 showdown in Seattle, and Beaver coach Ralph Miller, 65, won the latest in his long-running series of chess matches with fellow gray-beard, Husky coach Marv Harshman. While the 67-year-old Harshman wanted to force the ball inside to his tall and talented front line, Miller countered with a three-guard offense and made no substitutions, figuring to beat the Huskies with outside shooting and finesse. "We either had to adjust to them or them to us," said Miller, who replaced 6'7" Tyrone Miller in the starting lineup with 6'3" freshman Eric Knox. Knox responded by scoring 12 points, including four long jumpers in the first half to help the Beavers keep the Huskies in check. "They did a very good job of controlling the tempo," said Harshman. "Once they got ahead, that's their kind of game."
With his opportunity, Knox hit four jumpers in Oregon State's win at Washington.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KENNY (SKY) WALKER: Kentucky's 6'8" junior forward scored 88 points, had 44 rebounds and blocked eight shots in the Wildcats' victories over Kansas, Auburn and North Carolina State.