"Hell yes, I'm surprised," said Wil Jones, the University of the District of Columbia coach, in response to reports that Michael Graham, the power forward who helped Georgetown win the NCAA title last spring, had left that school to transfer to Jones's school. But Graham's intention to transfer to UDC had been rumored since Graham, a sophomore, was pronounced persona non grata on the Hoya team by coach John Thompson.
Graham's powerful play last season and in the NCAA tournament was crucial to Georgetown's success, but he apparently never fully adjusted to Thompson's rigid code of discipline and clashed with Mary Fenlon, Georgetown's academic coordinator. Graham was led to believe he needed permission to transfer from Georgetown, and, according to Thompson, last week UDC received the go-ahead from Georgetown athletic director Frank Rienzo to speak with Graham. "I want to go on record as saying that kid has never been a bum, a hoodlum or any of that stuff," Thompson told The Washington Post. "Michael's biggest problem is motivating himself to do his schoolwork."
The Graham situation wasn't the only thing on Thompson's mind. For the second time in three games, Georgetown was forced into overtime, and once again, it survived, scratching out a 52-50 win over Villanova.
Meanwhile, in Durham, N.C. more than 8,000 delirious Duke fans were chanting, "We want Georgetown! We want Georgetown!" in the waning moments of the Blue Devils' 71-59 win over Washington, which avenged an 80-78 loss to the Huskies in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament. "That's our fans," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I don't want anything to do with Georgetown. I'll have enough trouble with Maryland, Wake Forest and North Carolina this week."
Kansas center Greg Dreiling enrolled in a dance class last fall, not to learn to hip-hop but to improve his flexibility and quickness. Actually, says the 7'1", 240-pound Dreiling, he's in it specifically for the stretching exercises prescribed by the instructor. "They will help my reach," he says. "Coach [Larry] Brown says sometimes I play like I'm 5'8"." Dreiling certainly stood tall in the Jayhawks' 90-81 overtime victory over South Alabama. He scored a career-high 30 points, including four crucial free throws in OT, and had four rebounds.
Some of LSU coach Dale Brown's comments following a 63-61 Tiger victory over Alabama last month came back to haunt him. After that win, Brown called his team "the LSU Somnambulists," and said, among other things, "We played a very fine Alabama team and beat them by playing poorly." When Crimson Tide players arrived to suit up for the rematch, they found printed copies of Brown's quotes taped to their lockers. The Tide went out mad and rolled past the Bayou Bengals 79-67. After the defeat—no surprise—Brown was even madder. "If a coach can't criticize his own team, that's a sad commentary," he said. He then turned his tongue on the sportswriters who had printed his December remarks. "What I had to say about Alabama was not meant to be sarcastic," said Brown, "but some of you wrote it that way."
Tisdale was also the target of some pregame verbal abuse from Tulsa forward Herb Johnson, who boasted that Tisdale was overrated and might get the ball "slapped down his throat a couple of times." Johnson, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds, didn't serve Tisdale his promised basketball canapé, but he did manage to unnerve him. "When we would be standing next to each other for free throws," said Johnson, "he would be asking me, 'Why you talking all that stuff about me in the paper?' " Johnson's reply to Tisdale: "On a night when we're kicking your butt, why are you talking about a story in the paper?"
After Kansas State coach Jack Hartman, 59, underwent quadruple bypass surgery in a Topeka hospital the morning after the Wildcats' 56-55 loss to Oregon State in Manhattan, some K-State players were worried that their poor play—they blew a five-point lead in the closing minutes—had contributed to Hartman's having a heart attack. Wildcat assistant coach Darryl Winston, who will coach Kansas State in Hartman's absence, assured them otherwise. "I told the players that the coach hadn't been feeling well for the last 10 days, that he'd had a few pains and had poor sleeping habits," Winston said. Hartman, who at week's end was in good condition, will probably miss the rest of the season.
Though San Diego State lost only one player from last season's 15-13 team, the missing man—All-America forward Michael Cage—was important enough to prompt most experts to write off the Aztecs as contenders for the WAC championship. After all, for four years Cage had been the franchise. He's the school's career leader in scoring and rebounding and was last season's conference Player of the Year.
But after an 89-70 win over Brigham Young, San Diego State led the WAC with a 4-0 record and was off to the best start (12-2) in its 16 years in Division I. "Maybe until now we've snuck up on people," says Gaines. "We caught some teams with the lights out, came up from behind them. But they're starting to turn on the switches. They're going to be watching us now."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
XAVIER McDANIEL: Wichita State's 6'7" senior forward scored 72 points, hitting 25 of 44 shots from the field, and snared 39 rebounds as the Shockers split a pair of Missouri Valley Conference games.
SI TOP 20
1. GEORGETOWN (15-0)
2. DUKE (12-0)
3. ST. JOHN'S (11-1)
4. MEMPHIS STATE (11-1)
5. SMU (14-1)
6. SYRACUSE (10-1)
8. INDIANA (11-3)
9. N. CAROLINA (12-2)
10. KANSAS (12-2)
11. GEORGIA TECH (10-3)
12. LA. TECH (13-1)
13. OREGON STATE (13-1)
14. OKLAHOMA (11-4)
15. LSU (10-3)
16. ILLINOIS (13-4)
17. WASHINGTON (10-4)
18. BOSTON COLL. (11-2)
19. MICHIGAN ST. (12-2)
20. VCU (10-1)