As accomplished three-point shooters, Brett Roberts of Morehead (Ky.) State and Andrea Congreaves of Mercer in Macon, Ga., are familiar with long shots. It wasn't so long ago that they both were long shots. No one could have predicted that either of them would lead the nation in scoring. But both are doing just that.
Roberts, a 6'8" forward who had a 29.3-point average at week's end, nearly skipped his senior season—after scoring 14.5 points per game as a junior—to concentrate on a career in baseball. He was drafted as a pitcher by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round last June and finished 3-0 for Minnesota's rookie league team in Elizabethton, Tenn. He is expected to pitch at Class A Kenosha after he finishes classes in the spring.
Roberts has played so well on the court that NBA scouts have been showing up at Morehead State games and complicating his career plans. "I had no idea [scouts] would be watching me," he says. "Basketball is my true love. I'd love to play both sports the rest of my life."
For Congreaves, a 6'3" junior center with a 33.8 average at week's end, the surprise is not so much that she is leading the country in scoring but that the country is the United States. Congreaves was born in London and lived there until she graduated from high school. Ed Nixon, the former Mercer coach who signed her, found out about Congreaves through a friend who recruited her in Europe, where she played on a club team. "I really wasn't thinking about coming to the States," says Congreaves, who has let a hint of a Georgia twang seep into her British accent. "But people at the school were very persistent, and after a while I latched on to the idea."
Roberts and Congreaves have more in common than their scoring ability. Both played against weak competition before going to college—Roberts at South Webster (Ohio) High, where his graduating class had 88 students, and Congreaves in England, where her high school didn't have a basketball court, much less a team. And both are supposed to be inside players but are equally comfortable on the perimeter. Roberts had made 40.0% of his 160 three-point attempts through Sunday, Congreaves 44.1% of hers.
In the NCAA's most recent Division I statistics, Congreaves's scoring average was 8.3 points better than that of her closest pursuer, Tracy Lis of Providence. That edge would be the largest for a women's scoring champ since the NCAA began keeping statistics for women in 1982.
Conflict of Interests
With six road wins in its first season in the ACC, Florida State has already put a damper on a lot of postgame parties at other schools in the league. Now the team has thrown a wrench into the plans of its own school's football program.
Charlie Ward, a 6'1" sophomore and the leading contender to succeed Casey Weldon as the Seminoles' first-string quarterback next season, is busy starting at point guard for the basketball team. Football coach Bobby Bowden had scheduled spring practice to begin in the second week of March, but the ACC tournament runs from March 12 to 15, so Bowden has invoked what he calls "the Charlie Ward rule" and postponed spring practice indefinitely.
"We'll delay as much as we can for Charlie," says Bowden. "But we can't delay past a certain point. I definitely want him out there, but I'm not going to take him away from basketball."
Ward may be unavailable to take snaps for quite a while longer if Florida State keeps playing as well as it has been and fares well in the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles were 10-5 in the ACC and 18-8 overall through Sunday.
A big part of the Seminoles' success has been the play of Ward, who leads the ACC in steals, and of junior guard Sam Cassell, who is the team's leading scorer. They have made the Florida State backcourt the quickest part of an exceptionally quick team. "You can't appreciate their incredible team speed on film or television nearly as much as you can when you have to go against it," says Wake Forest coach Dave Odom. "It just surpasses anything we've had in this league."
As the No. 1-ranked junior college in the country and the defending national champion, Aquinas of Nashville has to be considered the king of juco basketball. But the Cavaliers (26-3 through Sunday) don't exactly travel like royalty. When Aquinas qualified for the national junior college championship tournament in Hutchinson, Kans., last season, there was no money in the school budget for the trip. To keep costs down, the Cavaliers traveled the 750 miles to the tournament by bus, searching out all-you-can-eat restaurants on the way, with coach Charlie Anderson placing some of the costs on his personal credit card.
"The total we spent on motel rooms, food, travel and championship rings for the players was about $19,000," Anderson says. "But we were lucky enough to get back about that much in contributions."
The Cavaliers will have to depend partly on donations if they reach the tournament again this season, which seems likely. Two Aquinas sophomores, forward Amos Gregory and point guard Greg Watkins, are among the country's best juco players at their positions. Gregory is a 6'8", 270-pounder who is being recruited by several SEC schools, among others. He spoke earlier this season with Shaquille O'Neal, LSU's junior center, who told Gregory that he planned to return to the Tigers next season and urged him to sign with LSU.
At the moment the Cavaliers are more concerned with getting back to Hutchinson. If they make it, Anderson is sure of one thing. "The players will take the bus," he says. "But I'm flying."
The Days That Time Stood Still
There's no bigger letdown in college basketball than watching an exciting game become a tedious parade to the foul line in the waning minutes. When Tennessee upset Kentucky 107-85 last month, the Volunteers' nearly sold-out Thompson-Boling Arena was almost empty by the time the final buzzer had sounded, because the Wildcats' desperate fouling in a futile attempt to get back into the game made the ending seem interminable.
"It's ridiculous the way the games are being dragged out," says Illinois coach Lou Henson. "The coaches have to stay and watch. The media will, too, but the average fan won't. Who wants to watch that? We have a great game for 38 minutes, but it can be very boring at the end."
Some coaches don't think the drawn-out finishes hurt the sport, but a substantial number of others agree with Henson that it shouldn't take 20 minutes of real time to play the last two minutes of game time. Many of them, including Xavier's Pete Gillen, think officials could take away the incentive for the trailing team to foul by calling intentional fouls, which give the fouled team two free throws and possession of the ball. The rule is already in the books, but the officials rarely enforce it.
Henson has another idea for ensuring that both teams play real basketball buzzer to buzzer. "Cut the shot clock back in the last two or three minutes," he says. "Look at the pros. They don't have to foul, because with the 24-second clock they know they'll get the ball back much quicker. If you cut the 45-second clock back to about 25 seconds at the end of the game, more teams would try to get the ball back by just playing good defense."
You're opposed to Henson's suggestion? You might want to reconsider the next time you're sitting in front of the TV wondering if the game you're watching will ever end.
Hard to believe after its 1-5 start, but Notre Dame still has a shot at an NCAA tournament bid. Following their 84-71 upset of No. 2 UCLA last Saturday, the Irish were 11-11 with six games remaining and had victories over North Carolina, Syracuse, USC, DePaul and Stanford as well. If they finish strongly, the murderous schedule they've played could help them get a bid....
On three successive Wednesdays between Feb. 5 and 19, Colorado, which through Sunday had a 12-11 record and was only 3-7 in the Big Eight, beat three ranked teams, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Slate and Missouri.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
MEN: Alex Blackwell, a 6'7" senior forward for Monmouth, scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds in a 71-58 defeat of Rider, and had 32 points and 19 boards in a 66-61 win over Wagner.
WOMEN: Milica Vukadinovic, a 6'1" junior guard for California, averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals as the Golden Bears defeated Washington State 69-58 and No. 16 Washington 66-55.
SMALL SCHOOLS: Hamilton's Mike Smith, a 6'6" senior center, grabbed 43 rebounds (and scored 62 points) in three victories for the Continentals to become the alltime Division III rebounding leader, with 1,522.