Once again things in the Big East have gotten nasty. With just four seconds remaining in Pitt's 70-65 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Hoya forward Perry McDonald nailed Panther forward Jerome Lane with an elbow to the back of the head as they fought for position under the Georgetown basket. Lane retaliated with a roundhouse right, and the bench-clearing brawl was on. When asked his analysis of the fight, Georgetown coach John Thompson said, "My back was turned." That response neatly sums up the see-no-evil attitude of the Big East toward the outbreaks that have marred league play over several seasons.
Apparently, though, Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt has finally decided to face the music. "'Following the problems associated with the first Georgetown-Pitt game in January," said Gavitt in a prepared statement on Sunday, "it was our belief that our coaches would deal effectively with this.... But the events of Saturday indicate, regrettably, that this strategy has failed.... The subjects of fighting and unsportsmanlike conduct will be put before the executive committee of the conference this week to consider special measures aimed to help ensure immediate discontinuance of such unacceptable behavior."
The committee will likely recommend new penalties for fighting, though probably none would be retroactive. As the conference most often associated with the disturbing upsurge in fighting in college basketball, the Big East can lead the way in curbing the trend. Gavitt & Co. had best make their penalties stiff—and then make them stick.
MACON HIS MARK
More than a few pro scouts say that if North Carolina junior forward J.R. Reid and Temple freshman Mark Macon were available for this year's draft, they would select those two players before any of the seniors in the land. No surprise, then, that the scouts were out in force on Sunday in Chapel Hill for the Temple-Carolina confrontation. Who came out on top? No contest—Macon in a walk.
Well, maybe it wasn't that easy. When Macon picked up his second foul just 3:39 into the game, Owls coach John Chaney had to decide whether to enforce his policy requiring any player with two fouls in the first half to ride the pine until the second. Some 4½ minutes later, Chaney made his move, and Macon missed nearly 12 minutes of the first half. But at the start of the second half, with Temple trailing 39-34, Macon proceeded to score seven of the Owls' 19 unanswered points. By game's end, Macon had poured in 19 and Temple had won going away, 83-66. Reid had 10 points, 8.9 below his season average. Chaney was succinct: "The difference in the second half was just Mark Macon." The reviews were unanimous. The normally understated Jerry West, G.M. of the Lakers, was moved to gush, "He's not just a good player, he's a great one."
At week's end, North Carolina A & T had extended Division I's longest home court winning streak to 35 and could wind up in its seventh consecutive NCAA tournament. Only six other teams have gone to the last six NCAAs: North Carolina (13 in a row), Georgetown (9), Kentucky (8), UAB (7), Alabama (6) and St. John's (6)....
How much does a fight hurt? Ask South Carolina coach George Felton, whose Game-cocks held an 11-point lead and the ball with 1:06 left against Louisville when a brawl broke out. Technical fouls cut the Gamecocks' margin to six without using up a second. The Cardinals then tied the game in regulation and won 98-88 in double OT....
Samson syndrome reversed: UC Santa Barbara players all got haircuts before facing Pacific. The result? Baldies 97, Pacific 59....
Undaunted player of the week: Virginia Tech's Wally Lancaster attempted 20 three-pointers in the Hokies' 93-75 win over Marquette. He made six.
Only 18 years old, Macon already has the NBA drooling.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
La Salle's 6'6" sophomore forward had 32 points and 15 rebounds in the Explorers' 102-83 victory over Holy Cross and another 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 92-74 defeat of Manhattan.