A FRESH LOOK
Nobody said it would be easy being the defending national champion, but when Indiana slumped to 9-6 in late January, Hoosier coach Bob Knight had seen enough of the tough times. He decided to bench two starters, guard Keith Smart and forward Rick Calloway, both of whom starred in last year's NCAA championship victory over Syracuse. Smart's demotion, brought on by erratic play and by his failure to provide strong leadership in the backcourt, seemed an especially risky stratagem because it left Indiana with an all-freshman backcourt of Lyndon Jones and Jay Edwards, who both played at Marion (Ind.) High last season. The reunion of Jones and Edwards became a revival for the Hoosiers. At week's end after Knight shuffled his lineup, they had won four straight games with Edwards averaging 19.5 points in victories over Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois.
The freshen-up-with-freshmen approach seems to be catching on elsewhere, too. At Kentucky the inconsistent play of seniors Cedric Jenkins and Richard Madison prompted coach Eddie Sutton to promote 6'11" freshman forward LeRon Ellis to a starting role and 6'6" freshman Eric Manuel to the sixth-man spot. Through Sunday the Wildcats had won three in a row since the change.
A FEW GOOD MEN
For those few blue-chip high school players who decided not to commit themselves to schools during the early signing period in November, the recruiting battles have gotten fiercer and fiercer. Here are the holdouts under the hottest pursuit:
•Don MacLean, a 6'10" forward from Simi Valley (Calif.) High, is rated as the nation's No. 9 high school player by scout Bob Gibbons and considered by many recruiters to be the sharpest-shooting big man in the country. Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, UNLV and UCLA are most interested. In the recruiting game little things can mean a lot. UNLV, for instance, is hoping that the friendship between Runnin' Rebels assistant coach Tim Grgurich and MacLean's high school coach, Bob Hawking, gives it an edge.
•Jerrod Mustaf, a 6'10" forward from Hyattsville, Md., is now thought to be a lock for Maryland. Says one ACC assistant, "We assume he's going there. He sits beside their bench every game."
•Chris Jackson and Litterial Green, two of the nation's most talented schoolboy point guards, live within 30 miles of each other in Gulfport and Moss Point, Miss., respectively. According to sources, Jackson has signed a letter with LSU, but his mother has not, so the document is void. Meanwhile Mississippi State is still pitching hard for the 6-footer's services.
The 6'1" Green, rival recruiters say, is under constant surveillance by Georgia assistant coach Tevester Anderson, who has all but taken up residence in Moss Point. Green, who's also coveted by Georgia Tech, Wyoming, Alabama and Clemson, claims he didn't sign early because he wanted to keep the recruiters coming around so that his teammates would get some exposure.
Missouri's rabid student cheering section, known collectively as the Antlers, stooped to new lows two weeks back when, among other pranks, they impeded the progress of the Iowa State bus as it made its way to Hearnes Center, and during the pregame shoot-around they yelled tasteless comments about Cyclones forward Jeff Grayer's family. After a formal reprimand from the Tigers' athletic director, Jack Lengyel, the Antlers showed up for Missouri's game against Colorado on Feb. 3 dressed in nuns' habits and angel costumes or impersonating such famous good guys as Gandhi, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Abe Lincoln. Before the game a fan presented Colorado coach Tom Miller with a box of candy, and the crowd loudly greeted the Buffaloes with shouts of "Best wishes!" "Good luck!" and "Have a nice day!"
FOOTING THE BILL
Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins currently has a promotional contract with Converse Inc., but according to Atlanta newspaper reports, he has signed a new agreement with Nike—for $160,000 a year. Cremins has declined to comment, but his lawyer, Richard Howell, and Nike officials say that the figure reported in the papers is greatly inflated.
Whatever the deal will pay him, some coaches are concerned that Cremins's contract might precipitate NCAA action to limit such arrangements in the future. What sorts of legislation might be considered? Sporting goods industry insiders see two major possibilities: 1) setting limits on a coach's outside income; or 2) requiring a coach to turn a percentage of his endorsement loot over to his school, which, in turn, might have to reimburse the NCAA.
"A lot of guys are ticked off at the dollars that are circulating," says Bob Carr, the editor of Sporting Goods Business. "There's concern that the NCAA is going to shake down the shoe companies for some of the money that goes to the schools." Says Reebok's marketing director, John Morgan, "I think the NCAA will make a ruling that some money from shoe contracts must go to the university."
Joe Dean, now LSU's athletic director but for 28 years a vice-president of Converse, says, "I have a problem with anyone limiting a man's ability to work hard and make a buck, but I also have a problem with the shoe dollars because it's not the coach's team, it's the school's, and he doesn't have to do anything for the money."
At LSU, as at all Louisiana state educational institutions, the shoe contract must be signed by the university, which
then decides whether to give all or any of the money to the coach. The shoe company benefits from the deal when the coach persuades his players to wear the right shoes. But they don't always listen. Though Cremins is currently paid by Converse, two of his starters don't toe the line: Craig Neal wears Adidas shoes, and Dennis Scott laces up Nikes.
When the game ended, gleeful fans flooded the floor, showered their team with confetti and carried senior captain Steve Prud'homme, who had scored 20 points, off the court on their shoulders. The ecstatic players cut down the nets and doused their equally ecstatic coach, Barry Davis, with a bucket of Gatorade before repairing to the locker room for champagne. The year's first postseason tournament champs? Nope. It was the first win in more than three years for the University of Dallas, which beat John Brown University 76-68 after 86 straight losses. Said Crusaders senior forward Ken Koeneman, "If I had graduated without winning again, it would have been a taint on my life."
Stanford began the regicide by defeating previously No. 1-ranked Arizona 82-74 on the strength of 23 points—15 in the second half—by guard Todd Lichti. Duke, UNLV and BYU all regarded the No. 1 throne as theirs to gain. Surely one of them would be No. 1 at week's end. Then came Saturday, when eight of SI's Top 20 teams went down to defeat, six of them to unranked opponents. Among the mighty who fell:
•Duke, No. 2 last week, went cold in the second half of a 77-74 defeat by North Carolina State. The key was the Wolfpack's switch midway through the second half to a triangle-and-two defense, which held Blue Devil guard Kevin Strickland to just one field goal. Said Strickland, "The bottom line is we had them down and didn't put them away. We played stupid."
•No. 3 UNLV lost to UC Santa Barbara for the second time this season. The much-improved Gauchos won 71-66 this time, as 6'6" point guard Brian Shaw hit five of six from three-point range. (Shaw is also the surprise PCAA rebounding leader, with 9.6 per game.) Said Santa Barbara's other starting guard, Carrick DeHart, "We really don't care much about getting ranked. All we want is for people to have some respect for us and not think we're just a school filled with beach bums."
•No. 4 and previously unbeaten BYU fell 102-83 at Alabama-Birmingham. Swingman Michael Charles and forward Reginald Turner each had 24 points for the Blazers. "We talked about the No. 1 rating before the game," said BYU coach Ladell Andersen. "But it would have taken a great effort by any team in the country to beat UAB on its home court tonight. I still feel great about this team."
After all the tumult, who was left to vie for No. 1? On Sunday at Ann Arbor, Mich., No. 5 Purdue fell behind No. 9 Michigan by 10 points in the first half, but the Boilermakers, led by Todd Mitchell (22 points) and Troy Lewis (20 points), rallied to score an impressive 91-87 win and thus claim the crown. Uneasy will they wear it.
Only four Stephen F. Austin starters took the floor for the beginning of the second half of their game against Northwestern Louisiana. Forward Leonard Willis was supposed to be out there, but no one could find him. Five minutes later a team manager located him—pounding on the inside of the locked locker room door.... Talk about a road trip: San Diego State covered 10,490 miles last week while scoring road victories over Hawaii (59-58) and the University of Miami in Florida (56-49).... Two of the nation's four undefeated women's teams met last week when Montana defeated Montana State 67-59.... Kansas forward Danny Manning had a backhanded compliment for 4-15 Colorado after the Jayhawks' 73-62 win: "Colorado has a lot of talent, but I think it's hidden by the way they play."
Edwards gave Indiana cause for celebration.
JOHN W. McDONOUGH
Jones, the other frosh face in the Hoosier backcourt, has helped justify the Knight moves.
Cremins might be happy if Neal were in the coach's shoes.