THESE DOGS CAN BITE
It happens every year. An upstart underdog from some hyphenated conference knocks off an established power in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Given the proliferation of surprises already this season, can anyone doubt that it will happen again? Here are the candidates most likely to play giant-killer:
•North Carolina A & T, champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, is a poised, senior-dominated team, one that also happens to have the longest home-court winning streak (37) in Division I. Paced by 6'7" senior forward Claude Williams and his 16.5 points and eight rebounds per game, the Aggies play a tough matchup zone, which has held opponents to just 41.8% shooting, ninth best in the nation.
•Arkansas-Little Rock knows all about tournament upsets—it knocked Notre Dame out of the NCAAs in '86. This season the Trojans beat UTEP.
•North Carolina Charlotte came within one questionable call of defeating Kentucky in Rupp Arena in December before succumbing 84-81. Junior guard Byron Dinkins, a master penetrator who is averaging 21.5 points per game, makes the 49ers go.
•Mid-Continent Conference champion Southwest Missouri State had an impressive 82-80 four-overtime win at Kansas State early in the season. The Bears finished the regular season on a tear, winning 16 of their last 18 games Senior forward Stan Worthy has been especially torrid over the past 11 games averaging 17.4 points on 72% field-goal shooting.
•Boise State has rolled through an un impressive list of opponents to end the regular season at 22-5. But two close de feats to Wyoming, the most recent coming on Friday by a score of 56-50, indicate that the Broncos can be dangerous.
MOURNING'S TOUGH NIGHT
Indian River (Va.) High center Alonzo Mourning, the most coveted school boy recruit in the nation, is a marked man Take last week's win over Maury High in the first round of Virginia's AAA Eastern Region playoffs. Final score (in triple overtime): 20-19. That's no misprint. A game-long stall and a triple team in the lane held Mourning, who is headed for Georgetown, to four point; on five shots. At the end of regulation play the score was 15-15.
True to his Hoya calling, Mourning missed a free throw that could have won the game with two seconds left in the first overtime. But in the third OT he blocked three shots at the end of the period to preserve the victory. "It's unfortunate that people have to resort to those tactics," said Indian River coach Bill Lassiter afterward.
Said Maury coach Jack Baker: "They let us hold it, so we stayed with it. They were lucky to get out of here with a win."
THE LITTLE GUYS
Though one would hardly know it wit! all the hoopla surrounding NCAA Division I March Madness, postseason tournaments are already under way or are about to begin in NCAA Divisions II and III and in the NAIA. Little stories abound. How about Division III South eastern Massachusetts, runner-up in the tournament's Northeast Region, whose key freshman is a 24-year-old defector from Poland named Waldemar Sender' A 6'8" center who has been averaging 14.7 points per game, Sender decided to go AWOL when his Polish national team was on a U.S. tour in November 1986. He enrolled at Southeastern Massachusetts last fall.
Or how about Division II Sacramento State, which leads all NCAA divisions with an average of 10.2 three-pointers per game? Hornet guard Alex Williams, whose favorite ploy is to pull up for a 22-footer on the break, has sunk 159 treys, a record for all NCAA levels. "He is only six feet going against six-foot-six kids," says Sacramento State coach Joe Anders, "so that is one situation when he can set up, square to the basket and shoot."
Also prolific are the women of Division II Hampton University, who are averaging a nation-leading 104.9 points per game. The Lady Pirates, who will carry a women's record 63-game home winning streak into next season, have outscored the opposition by an average of 38.2 points per game. Their success is a tribute to their aptly named coach, James Sweat, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who rules his charges with an iron hand. "I like disciplined people," says Sweat. "That's the type of players I want and the type of system I run."
And let's not forget St. Thomas Aquinas, the No. 1-ranked NAIA team, which lost its season opener but then ran off 37 wins in a row. Should the Spartans make the NAIA Final Four, they would become the first four-year college at any level to win 40 games in a season. Aquinas hopes that it can win the title for coach Dave Possinger, who next season will be with the big boys at Division I Western Carolina.
The most requested song on radio station KRQ in Tucson is a rap number called Wild About the Cats. It was cowritten by aspiring musician and Arizona guard Harvey Mason, who also plays the synthesizer on the recording....
Last week North Carolina clinched the ACC regular-season title, its sixth in the past seven years. The Tar Heels are 82-16 in conference play over that span, 29 games better than anyone else in the league, but coach Dean Smith has not been named ACC Coach of the Year in the '80s....
Kansas had an emotional moment late in its final home game, a 75-57 win over Oklahoma State. Jayhawk coach Larry Brown sent in senior Archie Marshall, who had not played since tearing up his left knee in December. Marshall, who couldn't run because of a heavy brace protecting the knee, took a pass from forward Danny Manning and launched an errant 40-footer before leaving the game soon thereafter....
Back in 1942 Everett Dean, coach of Stanford's national championship team, collected a check for $93.75 on behalf of his team after its three-day stay in Kansas City for the Final Four. The four schools that make it to Kansas City this year will each earn an estimated $1.1 million....
Marquette, suffering through a dismal 10-17 season, has renounced its independence and will begin playing in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in the 1989-90 season....
Iowa State center Lafester Rhodes had two four-point plays—he was fouled while converting a pair of three-pointers—in the Cyclones' 97-88 win over Oklahoma State....
If you like college hoops on the tube, be sure to tune in to ESPN on March 18, when it will telecast 10 NCAA tournament games....
DePaul forward Stanley Brundy scored 31, 30 and 26 points, respectively, in the Blue Demons' consecutive wins over Miami, Dayton and Louisville. Until the Miami game, Brundy's career high had been 20....
March 3 was Long Beach State coach Joe Harrington's lucky day even before his team's 79-77 upset of UNLV in Las Vegas. That afternoon Harrington won $3,211 on a slot machine at the Sahara Hotel.
Juric Brown (3) and his Arkansas-Little Rock mates hope to spring a postseason surprise.
Maury High's stall cut the 6'10" Mouring (33) down to size.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Marist's 7'4" center scored a school-record 45 points and had 14 rebounds and five blocks in a 76-57 win over St. Francis. He also had 19 points and five blocks in a 52-49 defeat of Robert Morris.