A lesson in motivation: In the first half of Alabama-Birmingham's Trojan Classic game with The Citadel, the Blazers shot 36.1% from the field and trailed 39-27. All coach Gene Bartow had to say at halftime was, "Gentlemen, if we don't play any better than this, we're not spending Sunday at Disneyland." UAB emerged to shoot 60.0% and outscore The Citadel 52-25 in the second half. And yes, the Blazers spent Sunday with Mickey and Goofy.
Nebraska's final with Santa Clara in the Cable Car Classic was supposed to be a duel of centers—6'11" Dave Hoppen of the Huskers vs. 7'2" Nick Vanos of the Broncos. The two had been roommates on an all-star tour of Europe last summer. But Nebraska came out cold, fell behind 14-2 and never recovered, losing 78-59. So much for the duel of the centers, who played fairly evenly. Hoppen, who fouled out with nearly 10 minutes to play, finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Vanos had 27 points and 18 boards.
Two days before the start of the Wolf Pack Classic, Nevada-Reno's leading scorer, point guard Curtis High, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of battery against his girl friend, Laurie Hutchins. (High allegedly beat Hutchins on Nov. 26, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, with Hutchins suffering two black eyes, a possible broken nose and other bruises on her face on Christmas.) Though High was released on $3,000 bail, he was suspended from the team indefinitely by coach Sonny Allen. Without him, the Wolf Pack still won its tournament, defeating St. Mary's (Calif.) 67-62 and Cal State-Fullerton 66-56.
The afternoon of Loyola of Chicago's game at Louisville, the Ramblers arrived in Freedom Hall for a shoot-around to find that no balls had been left for them. The mistake seemed an honest one, so rather than raise a ruckus, coach Gene Sullivan decided to make do and sent his players through their drills imagining—as in Antonioni's tennis scene in Blow-Up—that they were shooting, passing and catching basketballs while they pushed and grabbed at thin air. Stranger still, that evening the Ramblers had their best shooting game of the season and upset Louisville 93-81. A week earlier Loyola had upset Illinois 63-62.
Michigan lost for the first time, 81-77 to Tennessee. The Wolverines had more field goals (35 to 26) and rebounds (32 to 15) than the Vols, who won the game at the foul line, hitting 29 of 34 free throws to Michigan's seven of 11. Said Tennessee guard Myron Carter, "Michigan is a great team, but according to our scouting report they don't like it too much when a team hustles against them. We kept going after them, and I think it kind of aggravated them."
Tennessee State coach Ed Meyers said, "I'm realistic. When you try to stop a runaway train, you can't." Meyers, a former assistant under John Thompson at Georgetown, was appointed coach of the Tigers when Ed Martin quit four days before the Copa Navidad in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Using a changing array of defenses, Meyers kept Tennessee State in the game—the score was 44-44 with 15:19 left—but the Hoyas prevailed 77-64. In its other game Georgetown defeated North Carolina A&T 61-56 despite 18 points by Jimmy Brown, son of a former Syracuse basketball star who also dabbled in football.
Though Indiana defeated Miami of Ohio 77-72 in the first round of the Hoosier Classic, victorious coach Bob Knight was anything but pleased. "This was a game we didn't deserve to win. I actually feel bad that we won," Knight said. "We got absolutely nothing out of [7'2" Uwe] Blab. [Sophomore guard Steve] Alford played poorly. He gave us nothing in terms of leadership. Absolutely nothing." Knight calmed down a bit after Indiana's 80-63 victory over previously unbeaten Florida. Senior guard Dan Dakich had a career-high 23 points, and 10 rebounds and seven assists. "I thought his play was excellent," said Knight.
Shortly after Drake's 56-38 loss to Gonzaga in the Milwaukee Classic, Bulldog center Mike Core was nabbed for jaywalking outside the Milwaukee Arena. He was led to the police station in handcuffs, fined $21.50 and released. Said Drake coach Gary Garner, "We don't know what jaywalking is where we're from. We don't have hard roads where we're from."
"They packed it in tight, and we couldn't put the ball in the ocean from downtown," explained North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano of the Wolfpack's 66-56 loss to St. John's in the ECAC Holiday Festival. Throughout the game the Redmen bunched their 2-3 zone around the basket, daring State to shoot from the perimeter. The Pack's backcourt men responded by hitting a dismal five of 32 shots. "It was a thorough beating," said Valvano. "The 10-point margin doesn't really indicate how bad it was." Still, N.C. State deserves credit for its work against Chris Mullin; the Wolfpack harassed him with an ever-changing cast of defenders and held him to seven of 17 from the field and 18 points. "I'm still not playing as well as I want to," said Mullin. "It just seems like it's tough for me to get an easy shot off."
Virginia Tech's Dell Curry can tell Mullin all about it. In the final of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Invitational, Curry went 3 for 16 as the Hokies lost 69-65 to Virginia Commonwealth, whose Rolando Lamb converted six straight free throws in the final 58 seconds to seal the victory.
Elsewhere in the East—the Far East, that is—North Carolina, Arizona State and Wichita State took part in the Suntory Ball in Osaka, Japan, which provided for an unusual moment or two. The Tar Heels' 80-69 first-round triumph over the Shockers was marked by 43 fouls, 36 turnovers and wild enthusiasm from the spectators, mostly Japanese college students, who were cued by cards that read LET'S CHEER FOR THE SHOCKERS and SUPPORT NORTH CAROLINA and WAVE YOUR POM-POMS. A band played fight songs throughout the game, even during free throws, and the host fans came away impressed by Tar Heel center Dave Popson's suramu danku (slam dunk) and guard Kenny Smith's jyampu shoto (jump shots) and torikki doribburingu (tricky dribbling).
"It was exciting," concluded a Japanese coed who had screamed herself hoarse during Carolina's 85-66 win over the Sun Devils in the final, "but I really didn't understand what was going on. To tell the truth, I prefer baseball."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MARK PRICE: Georgia Tech's 6-foot junior guard was named MVP of the Rainbow Classic for leading the Yellow Jackets to wins over Arkansas, Washington and Maryland with 56 points and 12 assists.
A GIANT LEAP FOR WOMANKIND
The distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space belongs to Kathryn Sullivan, but right behind her was Georgeann Wells, West Virginia's 6'7" junior center who, in a 110-82 win over Charleston on Dec. 21, became the first woman to dunk a basketball in an official game. And she performed an encore in a 109-76 victory over Xavier of Ohio on Saturday.
Wells is the sixth of nine children (six females, three males) and the tallest by three inches. Her oldest brother, 26-year-old Leland, is 5'6". She once wanted to be a chef, but as she outgrew her classmates at Northland High in Columbus, Ohio, she was pressured more and more into basketball. Her coach encouraged her to try dunking in practice. "I kept tearing up my fingers. I guess I was grabbing the rim," she says. "I finally made one and I quit." At West Virginia she slams in warmups to please the crowds. Her first in-game attempt was last season against Massachusetts—it went in, but was disallowed because of a foul. The historymaker came with the Mountaineers leading 83-50 on a pass from teammate Lisa Ribble. "I just took a couple of dribbles and did it," says Wells. The Mountaineers on the bench charged onto the court to celebrate, knocking Wells to the floor and drawing a technical foul.
Her one for good measure against Xavier came off a pass from Dora Post. "I felt it when it was coming," said her mother, You-land, who was in the stands. "It just grabbed me. I saw her standing at midcourt, and I said, 'She's going to do it,' and as soon as the words were out of my mouth, she did."
SI TOP 20
1. GEORGETOWN (11-0)
2. MEMPHIS STATE (8-0)
3. GEORGIA TECH (9-1)
4. ILLINOIS (11-2)
5. SYRACUSE (8-0)
6. ST. JOHN'S (8-1)
7. DUKE (9-0)
8. DEPAUL (8-2)
9. SMU (9-1)
10. OKLAHOMA (9-3)
11. INDIANA (8-2)
12. KANSAS (8-1)
13. WASHINGTON (7-2)
14. LSU (8-1)
15. N.C. STATE (7-2)
16. N. CAROLINA (8-1)
17. MARYLAND (10-2)
18. VIRGINIA TECH (8-2)
19. LA. TECH (10-1)
20. MICHIGAN (8-1)