THE TOP 40
This One's for You, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, for your wonderful 1985-86 College Basketball Issue (Nov. 20). This praise comes Straight From the Heart, because you're a Hard Habit to Break and I Can't Smile Without You. The Search Is Over when it comes to finding excellent sports coverage, so Please Mr. Please, Don't Lose My Number because I'm Stuck on You.
DALE R. DITTMER
Minot AFB, N. Dak.
What a clever idea to use a record-business theme to preview your '85-86 college basketball Top 40. Such innovations are what keep SPORTS ILLUSTRATED the cr√®me de la cr√®me of sports magazines.
West Chicago, Ill.
I just received word from my brother at Foggy Bottom that you relegated North Carolina to No. 3 in your poll, behind Georgia Tech (No. 1) and Michigan. In this, the year of the ACC, when the Dean has more height, more muscle and more depth than ever before—when the Carolina saplings of last season are now the Carolina Pines—it should have been the Carolina White Team No. 1, Carolina Blue Team No. 15.
Virginia Beach, Va.
Georgia Tech's Mark Price and Bruce Dalrymple the best backcourt in college basketball in a decade? They may not even be the best in the ACC this season. Watch Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker at (No. 5) Duke and you'll see basketball artistry.
After scouring the Top 40, I came up with my Final Four: Michigan, Kansas, Syracuse and Arkansas, with Michigan the national champ.
The Kansas Jayhawks No. 1!
How could you leave Dayton out of your Top 40? This is a team that has been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament the last two years by Georgetown and Villanova, the eventual national champions. The Flyers will soar once again, this time in Dallas.
JAMES A. CHAIT
Being a Hawkeye fan, I was pleased to see Iowa in the Top 20 and Iowa State not in the Top 40. I believe Iowa is going to have the most exciting team in the nation this year. Also, thank you for the great picture of Gerry (Sir Jamalot) Wright.
Say it isn't so! Curry Kirkpatrick claiming the Big East, and not the ACC, is the best conference in the land (How Do You Like Your Hoops?). Come on, SI, how did you get Kirkpatrick, a North Carolina man, to talk against his alma mater's conference? At least he retained some dignity by suggesting that Michael Jordan and James Worthy are no wimps.
N.C. State '86
There is no doubt whatsoever as to which is the premier conference. Just look at your own preseason picks. Seven of the eight ACC teams are in the top 35, and you picked three ACC teams—Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Duke—to finish in the top five. How could Greg Kelly—or anybody—pick a conference that includes Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio State and Michigan State to be the best? These teams had a combined record of 72-71 in 1984-85; if you take out Michigan State and Ohio State, you have a record of 33-51. The Big Ten is a great conference all right, great for football.
I greatly resent the fact that you printed junk about Big East players being thugs. Georgetown's games might have been rumbles, judging by the fouls the Hoyas committed and the fights they provoked. But with the exception of Georgetown, the Big East is one of the cleanest conferences.
PAUL CRISTOFANI JR.
We were pleased with our 14-10 record last season and happy about winning the first Commonwealth Coast Conference championship. But, thanks to the article How Do You Like Your Hoops? we are really charged up for '85-86, especially since Curry Kirkpatrick thinks LSU will have trouble getting by us to make the NCAA Division I Final Four!
CAPT. W.E. SMITH, USCG (RET.)
Sports Information Director
U.S. Coast Guard Academy
New London, Conn.
BEAUTY IN MOTION
Your special basketball issue was well done, especially Curry Kirkpatrick's story on Cheryl Miller (Lights! Camera! Cheryl!). USC's Heritage Hall contains cups, Heisman Trophy replicas (those of Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Charles White and Marcus Allen), busts in bronze of Howard Jones, Dean Cromwell and, the Noblest Trojan of Them All, Morley Drury. I wonder what they'll do to memorialize C.M. someday. It will take all the flair of USC's cinema and fine-arts people to dream up something appropriate.
It was also good to see USC's men's team in the Top 40 (No. 35).
With all due respect for Cheryl Miller, this is one fan's vote for Nancy Lieberman. She lit the torch that Miller is so wonderfully carrying. It was Lieberman who made the fans and press take notice of the fact that women's basketball could be exciting and talent-laden and not some silly sideshow to the men's game.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Thanks for your cover story on the highflying Bears (Black And Blue Day In Big D, Nov. 25). William Perry, Walter Payton and the ferocious Bear defense are bringing a new excitement to the game that George Halas, founder of the Bears and co-founder of the NFL, would have been proud of. For a longtime Bear fan, this is truly an early Christmas present!
Please cap off a series of excellent articles on the Bears by doing what you have yet to do: Make Walter Payton Sportsman of the Year. He has deserved it for the past 10 years!
Not since the stunning upset of the Soviets by the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team has a team come together against such seemingly impossible odds and prevailed. Your choice for Sportsmen of the Year is easy: the world champion Kansas City Royals.
JOHN B. BALOD
Bret Superhagen—oops, Saberhagen.
William (The Refrigerator) Perry. He has given fans a new outlook on football. He is entertaining, and he makes a sometimes stressful game more enjoyable to watch. I can't wait to see what he does next!
Each fall I pick my own Sportsman of the Year, and then I compare my selection with yours at the end of the year. We always seem to disagree, I think because your choice is usually a logical one, whereas mine is mostly a sentimental selection. This year my choice is again sentimental but also, I believe, very logical—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Pam Shriver diary (Sept. 2 and 9) revealed a tennis player who can show humility and who cares for others. Her experiences at 16 in the U.S. Open should serve as a lesson to other young players. Shriver has earned the respect of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd. I think she should be Sportswoman of the Year.
Oak Park, Mich.
Coach Jim Wacker, who has demonstrated the highest possible values and courage in dealing with the situation at TCU.
IRISH GOLF REVISITED
Considering our names and that our hometown is Boston, you might think that a vacation in Ireland would be par for the course for us. Perhaps, but it never would have happened without the motivating article Playing Ancient Games by Sarah Pileggi [now Sarah Ballard] in your June 4, 1984 issue. Her well-crafted descriptions of the seaside courses, her storytelling and her profiles of Ireland's legendary heroes were the inspiration behind our recent golf trip to Ireland. Equally inspiring were the beautiful photographs by Graham Finlayson of the Ballybunion, Lahinch, County Sligo, Royal Portrush, Royal County Down and Portmarnock links.
We seven ventured overseas in search of the perfect golf course. Despite the loss of an estimated 200 golf balls and, at times, our pride, our holiday went without a hitch. The simple beauty and natural conditions of the Irish links exceeded our expectations, and, in general, we found them to be better than the more famous courses in Scotland. Royal County Down was our unanimous favorite, with Ballybunion a close second. Our wool caps are off to you for capturing the essence of the Irish people and their game of golf.
MICHAEL K. EAGAN, WILLIAM A. EAGAN III, CHRISTOPHER J. EAGAN KEVIN T.D. O'MALLEY, KEVIN S. DEGEN, JACK D. QUIGLEY, DAVID A. ECKLAND
I'm sure Rutgers would like to claim women's basketball pioneer Carol Blazejowski as its own, but she did not, as you wrote, attend that university. She played at another New Jersey institution, Montclair State.
•We apologize for mixing up the two New Jersey schools.—ED.
PETER READ MILLER
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center. New York, N.Y. 10020.