The response of Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli to Temple coach John Chaney's reprehensible actions on Feb. 22 further demonstrated why Martelli (left) is one of the classiest acts in the sport. Though Martelli was obviously distraught over losing senior forward John Bryant for the year at a time when the Hawks were fighting for an NCAA tournament bid, he did not publicly come out and ask the Atlantic 10 to extend Chaney's suspension beyond the regular season. Usually one of the most accessible coaches in the country, Martelli also declined to take calls from reporters so he would not add to the controversy. After St. Joe's had its four-game winning streak snapped by Rhode Island 65--60 last Saturday, Martelli refused to use Bryant's injury as an excuse for the loss. College basketball should be grateful to Martelli for taking the high road during one of the season's lowest moments.
UNDER THE RADAR
Quemont Greer, 6'7" senior forward, DePaul
Greer has long been one of the stronger players in Conference USA, but this season he has added polish to his offense. After making just seven of his 51 three-point attempts last season, he was shooting 37.0% from behind the arc at week's end, which had helped him raise his scoring average from 12.6 points to 18.8, second-best in the league. His 7.4-rebound average was 10th in Conference USA. Picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the league, the surprising Blue Demons (18--7 overall, 10--4 in C-USA) are in the hunt for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
1Don't be fooled by Vermont's lofty RPI ranking. The Catamounts are 23rd this week, but if they falter in the America East tournament, they will be far from a lock to get into the NCAA field. The conference, which has never received an at-large bid, is ranked 15th by the RPI, and Vermont's best win was a Dec. 30 victory at Holy Cross.
2Syracuse better beware of its free-throw-shooting problem. The Orange is 11th in the Big East from the charity stripe at 66.4%, and that includes Gerry McNamara's impressive 85.7% clip. That lack of touch may cost the team at the end of a close game.
3Marquette senior Travis Diener's career ended too soon. Thanks to the broken left hand he suffered in practice on Feb. 22, the 6'1" marksman, who was leading Conference USA in scoring (19.7 points per game) and assists (7.0), will not get the send-off he deserved after finishing 83 points shy of the school scoring record and helping the Golden Eagles reach the NCAA tournament twice, including the Final Four two years ago.
Stewart Mandel projects the field of 65 in his Bracket Watch at SI.com.
GEORGE WIDMAN/AP (MARTELLI)
MANNY MILLAN (GREEN)