Though eager Beavers Charlie Sitton and Lester (The Molester) Conner dammed up Georgetown's Eric Smith at right, the Hoyas shot a tournament-record 74.4% to beat Oregon State in the West regional and advance to the Final Four in New Orleans. Georgetown defeated Louisville and North Carolina downed Houston in the semifinals, allowing a couple of high school rivals from Gastonia, N.C. to hook up before a crowd of 61,612 Superdome fans in one of the finest NCAA title games ever. Sleepy Floyd scored Georgetown's final basket in the Hoyas' 63-62 loss to Carolina; UNC's James Worthy made the game-saving steal after his teammate, freshman Michael Jordan, stuck a 17-footer with 17 seconds left that won it. For Georgetown Coach John Thompson, who'd taken over after a 3-23 season 10 years ago, it was the penultimate thrill. For Carolina Coach Dean Smith, who has been so well-Heeled in talent year after year, it meant vindication on two fronts. He finally had an NCAA title in his seventh Final Four appearance, and he'd done it his way, with a stubborn faith in his system. And for a collegiate sport so fraught with scandal, Carolina's victory was an affirmation that a program above suspicion could win. Louisiana Tech won the first NCAA women's title with a 76-62 defeat of Cheyney State (Pa.). The Lady Techsters' 69th win in their last 70 games capped a 35-1 season.
Freshmen grew up quickly. Auburn's Charles Barkley averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding. Keith Lee of Memphis State had the highest board scores in his class (11 per game) and led the Tigers to the Metro Conference regular-season and tournament titles. LaSalle Guard Steve Black topped the nation's frosh in scoring (20.0 ppg), while other backcourtmen, e.g., Chris Mullin of St. John's and Ennis Whatley of Alabama, and forwards like Carolina's Jordan and Villanova's Eddie Pinckney, stepped right into starting and starring roles. But the most promising of the newfledged lot was Patrick Ewing of Georgetown. He and his team struggled early, and an altercation in a Christmas tournament and taciturn demeanor earned the 7-foot center an unfair reputation as "the nastiest Ewing since J.R." But by March, Ewing and the Hoyas began cleaning up.
Tennessee's Dan Federmann shows Eric Richardson his backhand.
Eddie Pinckney of Villanova, which lost to UNC and Jordan (23) in the East regional final, gets all tangled up in Carolina blue.
Georgetown's T-shirted marvel, Ewing, played superb defense in the NCAA tournament. Here he lowers the boom on Rodney McCray of Louisville.
Worthy (52) was the tournament MVP, but Ewing inadvertently gave Carolina 10 points with five defensive goaltends in the NCAA final.
Tar Heel Jimmy Black, all akimbo, hangs in limbo.
Idaho's Phil Hopson skys big (above), while a K-Stater disappears on the dark side of Moon McCrary (22) and Prince Bridges of Missouri.
Chuck Verderber of Kentucky did face up to Alabama's Phillip Lockett (above), but the Wildcats took it on the chin in the SEC tournament. Fresno State's Donald Mason (right) scales Mountaineer Phil Collins.
Here's Verderber again, helping to hem in Sean Tuohy of Ole Miss.
Minnesota's Randy Breuer snuffs the stuff of Louisville's Lancaster Gordon.
Oregon State's Rob Holbrook grabs aholda Hoya Anthony Jones.
MAD BRAVES AND ENGLISHMEN
Foreigners strode boldly upon the scene. There was Indiana's Teutonic Sonic, 7'2" Uwe Blab; the Finn twins, Timo Saarelainen of BYU and Timo Makkonen of North Carolina; and Dud (as in dude) Tongal and Ed Bona (as in fide), Fordham's Sudanese cousins. And Houston's Nigerian was Akeem Abdul (a.k.a. Jelly Bean) Olajuwon. Not to be outdone, Bucknell had a Nigerian-Liberian who'd lived all his life in exotic South Jersey: Ajoritsedebi Oreghoyeyere Memaridieyin (a.k.a. Deb) Okorodudu. The biggest deb of all, though, was Georgetown's Jamaican-born Patrick Ewing. The Hoyas, whose coach, John Thompson (he hails from plain old Washington, D.C.), vigilantly shielded his players from the press, were one of three teams from the upstart Big East (the others were Villanova and Boston College) to make it into the Final Eight.
Bradley had two skin-thickening experiences: a 75-73, NCAA-record-tying seven-overtime loss to Cincinnati early in the season and-as Coach Dick Versace saw it—a snubbing at the hands of the NCAA tournament committee when the Braves didn't receive one of the 48 berths. Thus motivated, the Bradley bunch fairly waltzed through the NIT field. The Golden State's two most storied basketball schools lost some or all of their luster. UCLA was served with a two-year probation for rules violations over the last five years. San Francisco, stung by the conviction of its star, Quintin Dailey, for aggravated assault, and by allegations of payoffs to players, dropped its 58-year-old basketball program.
Nationwide, shooting percentages leveled off after nine years of steadily rising, and scoring dipped to a 30-year low. Some thought the best team was the worst example: North Carolina held the ball for the last seven minutes of its 47-45 ACC tournament championship win over Virginia (whose Ralph Sampson was again the consensus Player of the Year). Coaches caucused to introduce shot clocks and three-point circles that could increase scores and decrease accuracy—and allow the 7'4" Sampson to really let his hair down.
Britain's Martin Clark (33) stands by as Lynden Rose, a Bahamian, has his motion tabled.