THE STRAIGHT SKINNY
Shawn Bradley, BYU's 7'6" freshman center, reached a significant milestone last Saturday when he faced the toughest matchup of his nascent college career—against New Mexico center Luc Longley, a 7'2" senior and a probable NBA first-round draft pick.
Bradley won't have especially fond memories of their competition. Longley had 22 points and nine rebounds and blocked one of Bradley's shots; Bradley was held to seven points and five boards. But the Cougars won the game 72-65 to complete a productive week that included an 83-67 victory over Texas-El Paso. At week's end BYU was 9-8 overall and 3-1 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Although Bradley was outplayed, he did get some encouraging advice from Longley. "I got called for a foul, which I didn't think I committed," said Bradley after the game, "and [Longley] said, 'You'll get that every time, all your life. Get used to it.' "
So far it is Bradley's opponents who have had to make most of the adjustments, especially in their shot selection. His average of 6.0 blocked shots per game at week's end (he was also averaging 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds) was on pace to break David Robinson's NCAA record of 5.9 set during the 1985-86 season at Navy. And in only his sixth college game, a 90-86 win over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 7, Bradley snuffed 14 shots to tie Robinson's single-game NCAA mark.
"He blocks everything but the Midtown Tunnel—or what would it be out here [in Provo, Utah]?" said St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca after Bradley swatted away four shots in a 67-62 loss to the Redmen on Dec. 8. "In a few years, God willing he stays healthy, you're going to see a Wooden Award winner."
Any such awards will have to wait until Bradley returns from his two-year Mormon mission, which is expected to begin after this season. But there was speculation last week in area newspapers that Bradley might not be going away as scheduled. It was pointed out that it isn't unprecedented for a Mormon to forgo a mission. Bradley, however, said the only way he wouldn't go on a mission this year is "if I'm found not worthy." He plans to notify church officials this week that he will be available for his mission beginning June 1.
Meanwhile, the 210-pound Bradley will continue trying to gain weight and keep serving as a model, in more ways than one, for big men. Last week he received a call from the wife of 7'4" Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton. "She wanted to know the name of the tailor who made some pants she saw me wearing at a Jazz game," says Bradley. "She said, 'Those are so cute I have to get some for Mark.' "
The 11,520 spectators—an ACC attendance record for a women's game—who showed up last Saturday at the Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C., were rewarded with what might turn out to be the best game of the season, as No. 2 Virginia beat No. 3 North Carolina State 123-120 in triple overtime.
The two teams set an NCAA record for most points scored in a women's game. There were terrific individual performances, including the second women's triple double in ACC history, by Cavalier guard Dawn Staley, who had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists despite fouling out in regulation; 30-point scoring by the Wolfpack's Rhonda Mapp, who made 15 of 17 free throws; and a 27-point effort by State's Andrea Stinson, who fouled out in the second overtime.
There were also several dramatic comebacks, most notably Virginia's recovery from a 20-point deficit in the second half. And there were clutch plays galore, the last of which came in the third overtime when Cavalier forward Tonya Cardoza picked off an N.C. State pass and drove the length of the court for a game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds left and the score tied at 120.
When it was all over, both coaches, Virginia's Debbie Ryan and State's Kay Yow, appropriately used the game as a soapbox to promote women's basketball. "We're worth seeing," said Yow. "The game, men's and women's, is the same. We just can't play above the rim. But this game shows we can provide entertainment and it's worth watching."
The victory, coupled with No. 1 Penn State's 84-70 loss to 10th-ranked Rutgers, will probably lift Virginia back to the No. 1 ranking it lost last week. The Lady Lions' stay at the top may have been brief, but their future opponents obviously know how good they are. Big Ten coaches voted 7-3 against admitting Penn State into the conference for next season but voted unanimously to admit the Lady Lions the following year—when all five of their current starters will have departed.
Joby Wright played for Indiana coach Bob Knight and was Knight's assistant for 10 years before becoming the head coach at Miami of Ohio this season. He apparently learned his lessons well, because in only half a season Wright's behavior has already made him a subject of controversy. So far, the following are among the lowlights of his tenure at Miami, which was 9-6 at week's end.
•Dec. 3: On the bus ride home from an 80-75 loss at Eastern Kentucky, a Redskin player upsets Wright by laughing at a movie that is being shown on video. When the bus arrives at about 2 a.m., Wright calls a team meeting, which lasts for about a half hour, and then orders the players to return for a 6 a.m. practice.
•Jan. 2: Miami guard Jamie Mercurio misses three foul shots with the score tied at the end of regulation time against Bowling Green. Although the Redskins win 82-81 in overtime, Wright calls a midnight practice following the game. He opens the workout by tossing a roll of toilet paper to Mercurio as commentary on his poor performance at the free throw line. Wright later defends his action, saying, "It was a joke and the players took it that way."
During that practice, Wright also makes each of his players carry a teammate piggyback style while running laps around an indoor track.
•Jan. 5: To cut costs, the men's and women's teams travel together by bus to play at Eastern Michigan. The men lose 86-71, but the women win 57-53. On the ride back to campus, Wright again becomes incensed. This time it's because members of the women's team, whose coach, Linda Wunder, isn't on the bus, begin laughing and talking boisterously. He goes to the back of the bus and profanely berates some of the women players.
To Wright's credit, he recognized after the last incident that he'd let his intensity get the best of him. Says Wright, "As soon as I got home I said, 'What have I done?' Come Monday morning [two days later], the first thing I did was go to Linda Wunder and apologize. Then I asked to talk to the entire women's team, and I apologized to them."
Perhaps Wright is beginning to realize that while there may be a great many things about his former boss worth emulating, Knight's penchant for harsh treatment of his players and his proclivity for the crude remark aren't among them.
Kansas's starting point guard, Adonis Jordan, didn't play in the Jayhawks' 78-73 loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday because he missed the bus that took his teammates to the airport. Kansas coach Roy Williams doesn't cut much slack for late arrivals: in December he benched his leading scorer, Terry Brown, for the first half of a game against Rider because Brown was 20 seconds late to a shootaround....
On the subject of punishments, Marquette's Kevin O'Neill suspended guard Keith Stewart for the season for falling asleep in a team film session. It was Stewart's third suspension this season....
Also gone for the season is Matt Gill of Neosho County (Kans.) Community College. Gill was suspended for pulling down his shorts in response to spectators' taunts during a game at Hutchinson Community College....
Vermont's 6'7" center Kevin Roberson had an unusual triple double in a 70-69 win over Hartford: 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks....
Texas-San Antonio's Taju Olajuwon, a 6'7" junior center and the younger brother of the Houston Rockets' Akeem, had 29 points and 10 rebounds in a 118-97 win over Centenary....
Louisville's 77-66 loss to Florida State on Saturday was its sixth straight, the longest losing streak for the Cardinals since 1943-44.
Bradley came up short against Longley, but he has stood tall, notably on D, in other games.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Brian Shorter, a 6'6" senior forward for Pitt, made 15 of 25 field goal tries and 25 of 26 free throws while amassing 55 points and 25 rebounds as the Panthers defeated Syracuse 93-79 and Providence 101-82.
Virginia's Dawn Staley, a 5'6" junior guard, averaged 21 points, 9.0 rebounds and 9.5 assists as the Cavaliers beat No. 12 Clemson 81-75 and No. 3 North Carolina State 123-120 in triple overtime.
William Paterson's 5'6" senior guard Michelle Jones had a women's Division III record 55 points in a 106-58 win over Jersey City State and 48 more in defeats of Stockton I State. 62-45, and Marywood, 76-43.