ALL SHOOK UP
Last week was an eventful one in women's basketball, with the top three teams in the AP poll—Virginia. North Carolina State and Purdue—all losing. The biggest winner was undefeated Penn State, which had been ranked fourth before beating top-ranked Virginia 73-71 on the Cavaliers' home court last Thursday.
Guard Shelly Caplinger made a disputed three-pointer at the buzzer—the crowd howled that it came after the buzzer—to lift the Lions to victory. That win capped an upsurge from what Penn State coach Rene Portland called the program's "low point" last spring. In March the Lady Lions had gained the right to host a first-round NCAA tournament game against Florida State but were forced to play on the road in Tallahassee because Penn State had reserved Rec Hall for the men's NIT meeting with Marquette. The decision prompted a campus protest, with one marcher carrying a placard that read MEN'S STATE.
The Lady Lions are now in line to take over the top spot in the AP poll because Clemson upset No. 2 North Carolina State 82-73 on Jan. 2 and Auburn beat No. 3 Purdue 76-65 last Saturday in the first regular-season women's game ever telecast by one of the three major networks. In the other half of the SEC-Big Ten Challenge doubleheader on CBS, at Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Georgia women defeated Iowa 62-51.
All four schools were pleased about the TV exposure, but Purdue coach Lin Dunn thought the two-minute TV timeouts—normal timeouts last one minute—militated against her team's usual strategy of wearing down an opponent. For his part, Auburn coach Joe Ciampi tried not to overload his players with instructions during the extended timeouts but sometimes couldn"t help himself. "If you saw one of my assistants pulling me by my jacket, that was why," said Ciampi.
MOVING ON UP
Since accepting an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference this season. Southwest Missouri State has moved right in and made itself at home. The Bears, who knocked off preseason favorite Creighton 72-71 on Jan. 2, were leading the MVC at week's end with a 3-0 record and were 11-4 overall.
It shouldn't be surprising that Southwest Missouri State has made the transition from the Mid-Continent Conference to the tougher MVC with little trouble, despite losing three starters from last season's 22-7 team; the Bears have a knack for adjusting to stiffer competition. In 1980 they were a Division II program. Ten years later, they are one of only 18 teams that have appeared in each of the last four NCAA tournaments. "We're still not sure what we're getting into [in the MVC]," says coach Charlie Spoonhour. "We could bottom out at any time."
That's unlikely, largely because of State's senior backcourt of 6'2" Darryl Reid and 5'5" Arnold Bernard, childhood friends from the Bronx. Reid and Bernard are so close that "people are surprised if they see Darryl and don't see me," says Bernard.
Bernard and Reid both attended junior college, Reid because of his grades and Bernard because of his height. Bernard was headed for a juco in Kansas until he joined Reid on a visit to San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College, and both players wound up enrolling there. The roles were reversed two years later, when Reid was leaning toward TCU, Houston or Seton Hall until he accompanied Bernard on a trip to Southwest Missouri State. "We didn't think we had a chance on Darryl," says Spoonhour. "It wasn't a package deal. We were just lucky they wanted to play together."
Reid is the scorer—he led the team in 1990-91 with a 19.0 average and as of Sunday was averaging a team-high 16.5 points per game for this season. Bernard is the passer—he is the conference leader in assists, with 7.3 per game at week's end.
Reid and Bernard admit they didn't know where Southwest Missouri State was until the school got in touch with them, which isn't unusual. Spoonhour says that when he took over the program eight years ago, common directions to the Springfield, Mo., campus were "Go to St. Louis and turn left." But another NCAA tournament appearance in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year may finally put the school firmly on the map.
So far New Hampshire's home losing streak has covered two coaches, parts of four seasons and 28 games. The Wildcats have been so bad in Durham that the only time they got noticed for something other than the streak was when they fell behind Connecticut 32-0 on the road.
New Hampshire has tried just about everything to change its luck. Last season, to illustrate the "turning things around" theme under new coach Jim Boylan, the Wildcats printed their media guide backward. The front cover is on the back of the book, and the pages arc all in reverse order.
Obviously the ploy didn't work. The streak reached 26 last season, and at week's end New Hampshire had lost its first two home games of 1990-91, to Massachusetts and Boston College. "There's really no way to explain it," says Boylan, who played on Marquette's NCAA championship team in 1976-77 and inherited the streak from his predecessor, Gerry Friel. "It's just the kind of thing that builds on itself. Our players start to doubt themselves, and other teams come in feeling that they should win. There's also some plain bad luck involved."
New Hampshire, which was 1-10 overall through Sunday, has nearly broken the streak several times, most recently against Boston College, which had to go into overtime to pull out a 68-58 victory on Nov. 27. But the Wildcats, who don't have a player scoring in double figures, think the end of the streak may be in sight. Their next three home games are against 7-3 Vermont this Saturday, 4-8 Boston University on Jan. 16 and 3-7 Delaware on Jan. 19. "I haven't thought about how to celebrate whenever we end the streak," says Boylan. "The best way would probably be to forget it ever happened."
A tip of the hat to Kevin Bradshaw of U.S. International, who set an NCAA single-game scoring record with 72 points in the Gulls' 186-140 loss to Loyola Marymount last Saturday. Remember, though, he converted seven three-point shots and, without those, probably wouldn't have broken the mark of 69 set by LSU's Pete Maravich in 1970....
The holiday season wasn't especially cheery for Arizona, which lost one of its players and was also upset 70-65 by Washington. The player was 6'8" freshman forward Tony Clark, who quit the team and announced plans to transfer to San Diego State. Clark is also a top outfield prospect; last summer he got a $450,000 bonus to sign with the Detroit Tigers....
On Dec. 29 Davidson had a six-point lead and the ball with four seconds to go against UNC Asheville—and lost. Asheville stole the ball and made a trey with :02 left, and then stole the inbounds pass and called time with a second remaining. Center Brent Keck then converted another three-pointer to tie the game, and Asheville won 89-86 in overtime....
On Dec. 28 and 29 Long Beach State hosted an unusual set of double-headers. On the first night, the 49ers beat Brooklyn College 87-58 and Southern Cal romped over Harvard 103-76. Then, instead of playing each other, the winners traded patsies—Long Beach State beat Harvard 81-77 and USC crushed Brooklyn 70-55.
Auburn's Carolyn Jones and Purdue's Rhonda Mateen went at it in a first-ever TV game.
When Bernard (left) decided on the Bears, his grade-school buddy Reid was close behind.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Doug Smith, a 6'10" senior forward for Missouri, had 29 points and seven rebounds in a 96-82 defeat of Memphis State, and 40 points and 14 rebounds in an 80-79 overtime win over Oklahoma State.
Stanford's 6'3" junior forward, Julie Zeilstra, averaged 30 points and 9.5 rebounds in victories over Oregon State (99-81) and Oregon (88-61). She shot 64% from the floor over those two games.
Rod Brooks, a 6'4" forward for Division II Tampa, had a total of 50 points and 20 rebounds in his first two collegiate games, a 128-82 win over Alabama-Huntsvilie and a 94-80 defeat of St. Ambrose.