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OPENING TIPS Ratings and datings, weights and slates, knees and media freeze CLASS ACTS


TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT WHO can't play this season because of
grades or Prop 48 or other academic failures? Here are some
heartening tales from the high side.
At West Virginia, most practices this season will be moved from
3:30 p.m. to early evening (anywhere from 5:30 to 6:15) to
accommodate guard Herbie Brooks and forward Wade Smith, both of whom
got their bachelor's degrees before their eligibility ran out and are
now graduate students in the business school.
At Memphis State, coach Larry Finch is making good on his promise
to emphasize academics. With four players (Steve Ballard, John
McLaughlin, Bret Mundt and Russell Young) earning at least a 3.0 GPA
for the 1987-88 academic year, the team average improved from 1.90 in
the spring of '87 to 2.25 in the spring of '88. The cumulative
average of the returning players this fall is 2.85, and last year's
four freshmen, including star point guard Elliot Perry, had a
cumulative GPA of 3.23.
At Louisville, junior guard Craig Hawley has received only one
grade lower than an A in either high school or college (it was a B in
engineering in his freshman year at Louisville). He's expected to
start this season -- that is, until point guard Keith Williams
regains his academic eligibility in the second semester.
Mississippi may have the most ingenious way of all to encourage
academic achievement. This year, coach Ed Murphy rewarded those
players with a GPA of at least 3.0 by putting their pictures on the
cover of the media guide. Four players made coverboy: guards Tim
Jumper (3.29), John Matthews (3.14) and David Midlick (3.85) and
Murphy's son, Sean (3.77), a center.