A BATTLE OF TITANESSES
Women's basketball might well have seen a preview of its April 1 title game last Saturday when No. 1-ranked Tennessee played No. 2 Louisiana Tech. The Lady Vols and the Lady Techsters even met at the site of the championship game, Knoxville's Thompson-Boling Arena. That's what made Tech's 59-58 win all the more impressive, though winning coach Leon Barmore graciously said later, "It takes a lot to ask a team to play a game of this magnitude early in the season."
The action centered on a pivot duel between the Lady Techsters' 6'4" Venus Lacy and the Lady Vols' 6'3" Daedra Charles. Lacy was forced to the bench with two early fouls, opening the way for Charles to lead Tennessee to a 27-23 halftime lead. After intermission it was Charles who got into foul trouble, committing three in the first 4:14 of the half to earn a seat on the Lady Vols' bench for more than three minutes. After Charles finished with 22 points, Lacy said, "Charles is a great post player, but we couldn't play as hard as we wanted when we had three or four fouls."
Despite the high scoring in the paint, the game ultimately was decided by free throw shooting. With 14 seconds remaining, Lacy hit two free throws, her 19th and 20th points of the game, to give Tech its 59-58 lead. With two seconds left, Tennessee guard Dena Head, a starter on last season's national title team, was fouled. She missed both shots to complete a night in which the Lady Vols made only half of their 32 shots from the line.
"The bottom line is we have to go out and make the free throws," said the losers' coach, Pat Summitt, who nevertheless saw reason to feel good about her team. "If Louisiana Tech is one of the best teams in the country and we were this close in December, I'm excited about how good this Tennessee team can be in February."
ASSIST FOR A POINT GUARD
Michigan's 113-108 overtime defeat of Duke in Ann Arbor proved that when crunch time arrives this season for the defending national champs, the Wolverines' leader, point guard Rumeal Robinson, can count on help from forward Sean Higgins and a lift, perhaps literally, from 6'9", 230-pound power forward Loy Vaught, who henceforth should be known as the Elevator.
Robinson, the quarterback of Michigan's memorable run through the 1989 NCAA tournament, had 22 points and eight assists despite picking up his fourth foul with 13:04 left in regulation. Also making crucial baskets was Higgins, whose 6-of-8 three-point shooting on the way to a career-high 32 points inspired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to recall last season's tournament star for the Wolverines. "I thought Glen Rice had graduated," said Coach K.
Afterward Vaught, who scored 27 points, talked about how he made Robinson the beneficiary of what would have been a most unusual—and unofficial—assist. It came when Vaught grabbed the 6'2" Robinson and lifted him as Robinson attempted a layup against Duke's 6'10" Alaa Abdelnaby. The refs spotted the infraction and disallowed the basket.
"I didn't think Rumeal could get up enough," said Vaught. "Everybody thought Glen Rice had a 50-inch vertical leap, but it was me I lifting him]. And if you check a film of this game, you'll see I did it for Terry Mills once."
Lift Mills, who is 6'10" and weighs 240? You're joking, right?
"No," said Vaught. "I'm serious."
THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
Over the years, Kentucky has been on the winning side of so many blowouts that it seemed strange last Saturday to hear Wildcat guard Derrick Miller accuse Kansas coach Roy Williams of running up the score in a record-shattering 150-95 Jayhawk victory in Lawrence. The 55-point loss was Kentucky's second worst-ever, surpassed only by a 70-point drubbing by Central University in 1910. Told that Williams had said he felt sorry for the Wildcats, whose talent has been ravaged by NCAA probation, Miller said, "It's a fine time to say that—after the game. They definitely ran it up. I think Williams did it deliberately."
In his own defense, Williams said that Kentucky coach Rick Pitino had pressed the entire game instead of dropping back into a halfcourt zone that would have slowed the tempo. "I'm not going to embarrass them by holding the ball [after beating the press] or handing it to them or something," said Williams, whose team took its lumps last season when it was on probation.
True to a pledge Pitino made before the season, the Wildcats kept firing three-point shots, but their attempts to fall back and stop the swarming Jay-hawks were futile. Pitino said, "They wanted blood and they got it." That was as close as he would come to criticizing Williams.
Pitino had promised that his up-tempo style would create some victories—Kentucky was a surprising 3-1 going into the game—but he had also warned that there would be nights when good teams would blow the Wildcats out. Still, the game was a tough one for the proud Pitino, whose cockiness is certain to make his team even more of a target for those eager to kick the Wildcats when they're down this season. "I've had several bad losses, but nothing this bad," Pitino said. "We're a down team now, and we deserve to be down. I could have slowed it down and not gotten anything out of this game. We had to get our fannies drilled. You have to learn lessons while you are rebuilding."
The debacle set up an interesting grudge game for next season, when Kansas plays in Lexington. By then Pitino should have more firepower, while the Jayhawks will be without four seniors from this season's team.
HAIRDOS AND HAIR DON'TS
In each of the past two seasons, Cleveland State guard William Stanley has sported a self-styled, one-of-a-kind hairdo. In 1987-88 it was a half-foot-high flattop. Last season he went to a bilevel box cut. This season, as a senior, Stanley has outdo'ed himself.
He came up with what he calls his Stairway to Heaven cut when he sat down his cousin Anthony Mixon for a trim in May. "I still had two levels in my own hair, but I got the idea to put three in his," says Stanley. "He liked it so much that he convinced me to cut mine that way."
At first Stanley was shaky about his new look. "But we went out that night and I got a lot of attention—mostly from the women—so I kept it," he says.
No matter whom the Vikings play, Stanley's 'do is sure to be a main topic of conversation. "His hair shared equal billing with his 22 points in the Louisville Courier-Journal," says Cleveland State sports information director Merle Levin, referring to Stanley's game-high output in a 104-77 loss to the Cardinals.
But Stanley, whose 19.2-point average at week's end made him the Vikes' leading scorer, knows that the stairway is likely to be his crowning achievement. "This will probably be my last unique cut," he says. "I'd like to become an attorney, and I don't think this is quite conservative enough."
Santa Clara has four players who stand at least 6'10", topped by 7'1" sophomore Ron Reis. If he wanted, coach Carroll Williams could start a front line that averages 6'11" and more than 250 pounds....
Want to score some points? Just schedule U.S. International. Last week, coming off a 152-137 loss to Loyola Marymount, the Gulls were shot down 166-101 by Arkansas, which smashed all kinds of school and Southwest Conference marks. Said U.S. International coach Gary Zarecky, "We're just trying to get respect." Huh?... First-year San Jose State coach Stan Morrison has been trying to increase student attendance at the school's new 4,600-seat arena by making a tour of the fraternity and sorority houses. The frat members now sit in one section behind the visitors' bench during games and try to prove that they are the most boisterous part of the crowd. At Morrison's behest, free pizzas are delivered to the arena's loudest section, a competition the frats regularly win. The pizza so far has been better than the Spartans, who had a 21-game losing streak, the longest in Division I, at week's end.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
MEN: Tracy Shelton, a 6-foot sophomore guard for West Virginia, scored 36 points on 12-of-24 shooting—including 6 of 10 three-pointers—in a 97-93 double OT upset of Pittsburgh. Shelton also had 23 points in a 74-56 win over Marshall.
WOMEN: Dale Hodges, a 6'1" senior center, scored 74 points and had 20 rebounds as St. Joseph's won twice, 89-59 over Massachusetts and 103-67 against Duquesne. Hodges converted 25 of 43 shots from the field and 24 of 30 free throws.
SMALL COLLEGE: J.R. Rider, a 6'5" freshman forward, averaged 37 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists as Allen County Community College of Iola, Kans., beat Butler County C.C. 85-83, Hesston College 84-40 and Hutchinson C.C. 70-66.