Publish date:

Inside College Basketball

Led by senior forward Dan Langhi, Vanderbilt knocked off three
top 25 teams in 11 days

Dan Langhi's alarm clock rang at 7:30 a.m. last Saturday. He
shaved, showered and ate some scrambled eggs; kissed his wife,
Emily; hugged his 15-month-old daughter, Hannah; and left his
Nashville apartment for work. Going to the job on Saturday is
nothing new for Langhi, whom Emily calls "a regular nine-to-five
workaholic," but having stunning success in his chosen field is.
On Saturday, for example, Langhi, a senior forward for
Vanderbilt, further embellished his resume in a 65-62 victory
over LSU that propelled the upstart Commodores (12-2) into the
Top 25--at No. 20--for the first time in six seasons.

When Langhi turned down scholarship offers from Duke, Indiana and
Connecticut before his freshman year in 1996 to play closer to
his tiny hometown of Benton, Ky., he never imagined how
dramatically that decision would affect his life. Toward the end
of a disappointing sophomore season, during which he made dozens
of late-night, 2 1/2-hour drives to visit Emily at Murray State,
Langhi learned that she was pregnant. "At first it was a
confusing time for me, and I couldn't really concentrate on
basketball," Langhi says, "but it made me grow up overnight and
put more order in my life." He became both a father and a husband
during his junior year, and the added responsibility and the
discipline it required translated into a breakout season as he
increased his scoring average from 6.3 points a game to 17.7.

This year began with a makeover of the Vanderbilt program that
featured a renovation of Memorial Gym and the hiring of new coach
Kevin Stallings, who came from Illinois State to replace Jan van
Breda Kolff. The Commodores' roster remained very similar to that
of the squad that finished 14-15 last season, however, so who
could have anticipated three wins over ranked teams in 11 days?

On Jan. 5 Langhi went 6 of 9 from three-point range and scored 31
points in an 87-77 defeat of No. 6 Florida. One week later,
Vanderbilt trailed by 13 in the second half on the home court of
No. 12 Tennessee, and Langhi implored his teammates to feed him
the ball. In finishing off another 31-point effort, he scored
seven points during an 11-2 Commodores run that rallied
Vanderbilt to a 76-73 upset victory. Finally, in last Saturday's
win over No. 24 LSU, Langhi had only 12 points but so occupied
the Tigers' defense that Commodores senior guard James Strong
scored a career-high 22. "We're making a statement that we're not
the same old Vanderbilt," said Strong of the Commodores' best
start since 1978-79. "We're finally getting this program over the

At 6'11" and 215 pounds, Langhi is a small forward in Stallings's
motion offense. He can post up inside or create on the perimeter
with the ball-handling skills he learned as a high school point
guard. Through Sunday he led the SEC in scoring with 22.6 points
per game while shooting 49.8% from the floor and 45.5% from
beyond the arc. Langhi, a sage 22-year-old who has an agreement
with Emily that he doesn't have to change dirty diapers on game
days, is affectionately called Papa by his teammates. "He acts
like a protective parent on the court," Stallings says. "Our
other guys know Dan's always there to bail them out whenever they
get in trouble."

NBA scouts like Langhi's height, mobility, shooting touch and
especially his maturity, which make him a cinch for a promotion
later this year. But he's more concerned with getting to the NCAA
tournament for the first time since his freshman year. As his
teammates fanned out to celebrate the win over LSU, Langhi went
home, studied the game on videotape and ordered Chinese takeout.
At 11:30 p.m. he hugged his baby and kissed his wife good night.
It had been just another day at the office. --Tim Crothers

Pac-10 Surprise

It was shortly before the start of USC's annual home game with
UCLA on Jan. 12, and no one in the Trojans' locker room bothered
to pretend that it was going to be just another game. New York
Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, a USC alumnus who had been
invited to give a pep talk, told the Trojans that a win would
change their lives. USC coach Henry Bibby, who played point guard
on three UCLA national championship teams, said he was wearing
his best suit, so the players should also bring out their best.
Just before the Trojans took the floor, assistant coach David
Miller, inspired by a headline in that day's Los Angeles Times
proclaiming USC to be "second fiddle" in L.A., took out a fiddle
and smashed it against a wall. "The UCLA guys walk around this
city like they own it," said 6'9" forward-center Brian Scalabrine
after the game. "We felt we had something to prove."

Prove it they did, snapping a 10-game losing streak to their
crosstown nemeses with a 91-79 win. It was the Trojans' most
lopsided victory over the Bruins in 14 years. More important, it
improved USC's record to 3-0 in the Pac-10 (10-5 overall). The
Trojans missed last year's NCAA tournament, after finishing the
regular season 15-12, but USC's promising start could catapult it
back to March Madness. "We haven't accomplished enough to start
feeling complacent," Bibby says. "This is going to be a test to
see if we can handle success."

The Trojans are one of the youngest teams in their
conference--6'8" forward Jarvis Turner is the only senior in a
seven-man rotation that includes one freshman and three
sophomores--but they play an entertaining brand of basketball
appropriate to Tinseltown. Sophomore point guard Brandon
Granville leads the Pac-10 in assists with 8.2 per game, and
three other USC starters--6'7" sophomore Sam Clancy, Scalabrine
and 6'4" junior Jeff Trepagnier--are among the league's top 10 in
scoring. Trepagnier, who has a 40-inch vertical leap, might be
the most electrifying player in the nation. He's third in the
country in steals with 4.3 per game, and he demonstrated his
superior athleticism at last spring's Pac-10 track and field
championships by placing second in the high jump despite having
practiced only several times beforehand.

Besides its youth, USC's biggest shortcoming might be its lack of
depth. All five starters average at least 33 minutes per game,
and each has gone the distance at least once. Bibby, however,
doesn't seem concerned about the physical toll this could take.
"You don't get worn down when you're on top of your game," he
says. Indeed, the Trojans have waited a long time to play first
fiddle in L.A., and they're not likely to tire of that status

St. Bonaventure's Ascension

It has been 30 years since Bob Lanier led St. Bonaventure to the
Final Four and 23 years since the Bonnies won the NIT, so a 12-2
start has given St. Bonaventure fans a rush of nostalgia. Before
last Saturday's 57-56 home win over Temple, the Bonnies' rooters
even revived a favorite bit from the old days: They wheeled out a
casket emblazoned with their opponent's school logo to rile up
the fans. "I saw it in the hallway, and I said, 'What the heck is
that doing there?'" says Jim Baron, the point guard for the 1977
NIT champs, who's now in his eighth year as coach at the college
near Olean, N.Y. "We did that a lot back in the '70s, but that's
the first time I've seen it since I've been coaching here."

After a lackluster performance the past few years in Atlantic 10
away games--the Bonnies entered the season 10-44 in regular-season
league road games under Baron--they won their first two conference
games this season at Massachusetts and La Salle. Against Temple,
St. Bonaventure erased a 14-point deficit and won on sophomore
J.R. Bremer's three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left. The victory
gave the Bonnies a 4-0 start in the Atlantic 10, their best ever.
Though the Bonnies won't overwhelm many teams with their talent,
they have experience (three seniors and a junior start) and a
nasty defense that had the team atop the conference in steals,
with 9.9 a game, and third in field goal percentage defense
(40.5%) through Sunday.

Much of the credit for this revival goes to 5'10" senior point
guard Tim Winn, whom Baron calls "the best defensive guard I've
ever been around." Winn, from Niagara Falls, N.Y., did such a
good job of checking Stephon Marbury during a high school
tournament in 1995 that Marbury encouraged his future college
coach, Bobby Cremins, to recruit him at Georgia Tech. Winn had a
rocky start to his junior season, missing the first six games
because he was arrested following an altercation with another
student (Winn pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was
sentenced to three years' probation and 400 hours of community
service), but he's come back strong this year. Through Sunday he
was tied for fifth in the nation in steals, with 3.9 a game, and
he led the Bonnies in scoring with a 14.2 average. "Tim has
tremendous desire, and it rubs off on the team," Baron says. "It
rubs off on the community, too. We've had great tradition here.
It feels good to rekindle that a bit."

Minority Hiring

On March 23, 1994, the NCAA ended the threat of a walkout from
games by members of the Black Coaches Association by reaching an
agreement with the BCA about addressing a number of their
concerns, including increased opportunities for minorities in
basketball coaching and athletic administration.

While there are more minority college coaches today than six
years ago, little progress has been made on the administrative
front. According to a two-year study released in 1998 by the
NCAA's Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, minorities
hold only 2.6% of athletic directorships at Division I, II and
III schools (excluding historically black institutions) and 5.0%
of core management positions (athletic director, associate AD and
assistant AD). "After all our years of dealing with the NCAA, our
old problems are still with us," says Temple coach John Chaney,
who is incensed over the lack of progress since the 1994
agreement. "We were fooled, we were duped, and we were

That the NCAA could avoid fulfilling its commitments is partly
the result of the diminished influence of the BCA, which has been
racked by internal conflict and has lost the active support of
prominent members such as Chaney, George Raveling, Nolan
Richardson and John Thompson. Now the NCAA committee's study and
the lack of improvement has prompted Jim Haney, executive
director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches
(NABC), to make additional opportunities for minorities a top
priority for his organization. In the January issue of Courtside,
the NABC's magazine, Haney writes that the study sends a message
that "African-Americans are welcome to play intercollegiate
athletics, to coach a collegiate team and to support the athletic
enterprise as a support staff member, but not to manage the
business of the athletic department." Haney held a conference
call last Friday to draw attention to the paucity of blacks in
management, but he feels that for progress to be made, a new
organization devoted exclusively to the issue should be created.

Another concern addressed during the conference call was the 1998
decision by the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee to award the
South subregional of the 2002 NCAA tournament to Greenville, S.C.
The NAACP is sponsoring a boycott of travel to the state of South
Carolina because the Confederate flag is flown over the state
Capitol. BCA executive director Tim Stoner, with the support of
the NABC, sent a letter to Men's Basketball Committee chairman
Craig Thompson asking him to move the 2002 South subregional
games elsewhere. That the games were scheduled in South Carolina
reflects, according to some critics, the lack of diversity in the
NCAA. Says Raveling, the former coach at Washington State, Iowa
and USC, "Maybe if there were some people there who look like us,
they would have been sensitive enough not to have [scheduled
those games]."


Whatever happened to Loyola Marymount? The Lions, who led the
nation in scoring in 1987-88 (with 110.3 points a game), '88-89
(112.5), and '89-90 (an NCAA record 122.4), were last in the West
Coast Conference through Sunday with a 60.6 average. They opened
league play last Friday by dropping an 82-38 decision to San
Diego, their worst conference loss ever....

Few teams have been more Jekyll-and-Hyde than Louisville, which
dropped out of the Top 25 after losses last week at UAB and
Marquette. Through Sunday the Cardinals were 8-0 at Freedom
Hall, 2-5 on the road....

Georgetown finally got a contribution from 6'10" center Lee
Scruggs, a highly touted junior college transfer who joined the
Hoyas in late December. Scruggs didn't score a point as
Georgetown lost its first three Big East games, but he had 16
points, eight rebounds and four blocks in last Saturday's 65-61
defeat of Miami....

How much is scoring up in the Big 12 this season? At this time
last year Colorado led the league with 77.5 points per game.
That number would currently rank fourth....

Iowa coach Steve Alford benched leading scorer Jacob Jaacks for
the final 17:52 of the Hawkeyes' 85-82 loss to Minnesota on Jan.
12 after Jaacks, a 6'8" senior with a reputation for being
something of a dirty player, twice swung his elbows after
grabbing a rebound. Said Alford, "When you don't listen to the
way I want this program run, then obviously you don't want to be
part of it."...

Ball State may have set a record for frustration in a
recent pair of back-to-back losses. On Jan. 8 the Cardinals went
to triple overtime before losing a heartbreaker 98-93 to Eastern
Michigan. In their next outing, against Miami of Ohio four days
later, the Cards again extended the game to three OTs and again
came up losers, 86-84. Said weary Ball State coach Ray McCallum,
whose Cardinals got off to a 10-1 start but were 10-4 at week's
end: "This is where I've got to earn my money, just keeping my
players up."

For the latest scores and recruiting news, plus more from Seth
Davis and Grant Wahl, go to

COLOR PHOTO: PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY Langhi's intensity in crunch time keyed the Commodores' victory over Tennessee.

COLOR PHOTO: JON SOOHOO David Bluthenthal helped USC win bragging rights in L.A.


That crashing sound you heard in the East last week was North
Carolina going down twice--at Wake Forest (which then lost to
North Carolina State) and to UCLA in Chapel Hill. This left the
ACC with just one team, Duke, among the top seeds. The Tar Heels'
ouster from our poll opened the door for Tulsa to make its first
appearance, with very strong support from the voters.

The other big loser was Connecticut, which was beaten by St.
John's on Sunday. For losing on their home court for the second
straight week, the Huskies dropped a notch and were sent packing
to the West. Moving into UConn's vacated spot as a No. 2 seed was
unbeaten Syracuse. (Remember: The Orangemen are barred from
staying in the East, since Syracuse is hosting the East Regional
finals; Texas, as host of the South Regional finals, must move
elsewhere too.)

Otherwise, the top seeds all solidified their standing with
winning weeks, especially Auburn, which finally earned the
credibility it needed by beating Kentucky for the first time
since 1990.

1. Stanford (14-1)
2. Duke (13-2)
3. Florida (13-2)
4. Texas (11-4)

1. Cincinnati (16-1)
2. Michigan State (12-4)
3. Oklahoma State (13-1)
4. Tennessee (15-2)

1. Auburn (15-1)
2. Syracuse (14-0)
3. Kansas (14-2)
4. Tulsa (16-1)

1. Arizona (15-2)
2. Indiana (13-2)
3. Connecticut (12-3)
4. Kentucky (11-5)