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When Randy Rutherford was a kid in Broken Bow, Okla., which
should not be confused with Broken Arrow, Okla., he and his five
brothers played baseball on Saturday afternoons in their backyard
near the Macedonia Baptist Church. Alas, baseballs and church
windows don't mix all that famously, so when the Reverend M.T.
Crawford arrived for Sunday preaching, he was never too surprised
to discover some new ventilation and a half dozen horsehides
scattered around the altar. Rutherford's absolution usually was
contingent upon participation in a rigorous cleanup detail and a
month of mandatory attendance at the church. ``Randy,'' the
reverend would always say, ``you Rutherford boys are a stubborn

Sure enough. When everybody else in Broken Bow (pop. 4,000) was
cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, Rutherford decided he would back
the Washington Redskins. When everybody else signed up for
football practice, Randy tried out for hoops. And when former
Oklahoma basketball coach Billy Tubbs assumed that Rutherford
would jump at the chance to play in Norman, Rutherford went to
Oklahoma State, where, as a senior guard, he has combined with
center Bryant (Big Country) Reeves to carry the Cowboys to the
Final Four in Seattle. ``I guess I'm a nonconformist,'' Rutherford
says. ``There are leaders and followers in this world, and I never
want to do anything just because everybody else thinks it's

Adds teammate Scott Pierce, ``Randy's like Popeye -- I am what I
am. Take it or leave it.''

When he wasn't playing hoops for Broken Bow High, Rutherford would
often drive the nine miles down Route 259 to the McCurtain Cinema
in Idabel, where he watched movies in bulk, an addiction that
persists today. ``He's our Siskel and Ebert,'' says teammate
Chianti Roberts. ``Except that when Randy recommends a movie, I
make sure never to see it.''

Less Siskel and Ebert than Beavis and Butt-Head, Rutherford's
rating system is simple: Good or Sucks. Says Cowboy coach Eddie
Sutton, ``I consult Randy all the time. He loves the action
pictures. The more shooting, the more he likes it.''

Rutherford's own shooting has produced 19.7 points per game this
season. A dynamic player on both ends of the floor, Rutherford
saved his tour de force for a game at Kansas on March 5, a night
when Reeves was shut out. Rutherford filled the void with 45
points, including 11 three-pointers.

Rutherford has continued to provide Oklahoma State with its
outside punch in the NCAA tournament, averaging more than three
treys a game. In the East Regional final, Rutherford hit three
clutch buckets down the stretch, including a three-pointer with
1:50 left that triggered the Mass exodus as the Cowboys won 68-54.
``When Big Country set a screen for Randy today,'' said UMass
guard Derek Kellogg, ``it was like running around a huge building
only to look straight down the barrel of a gun.''

In the victorious Cowboy locker room, Rutherford preferred to talk
flicks over picks. He reviewed films from A River Runs Through It
(Good) to Stargate (Sucks). When asked what was next on his list,
Rutherford grinned and said, ``Probably Sleepless in Seattle.''

--Tim Crothers

COLOR PHOTO:MANNY MILLANThis Cowboy had his version of ``Hoop Dreams'' on Sunday.[Randy Rutherford shooting basketball during game]