A STORMY START
This was supposed to be a breakthrough season for Iowa State, but it may turn into a breakdown season instead. The Cyclones have all five starters and a solid bench from their 1991-92 team, which won 21 games and gave Kentucky a scare in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The AP ranked them 19th in the preseason, and we put them 10th. Trouble is, Iowa State still hasn't figured out how to beat a good team—or a bad one, for that matter—on the road.
Last Saturday the Cyclones visited eighth-ranked Iowa, and the Hawkeyes, who unveiled gold uniforms for the occasion, were the only ones who played as if the game was an intense intrastate rivalry. Iowa won 78-51. Earlier this season Florida State routed the Cyclones 109-86 in Tallahassee. Beating the Hawkeyes and the Seminoles on their home courts is a tall order for any team, but such decisive whippings are a bad sign for Iowa State, whose glaring weakness has long been playing poorly on the road.
The Cyclones lost all seven of their Big Eight road games last season, and they are 4-21 in the conference away from Hilton Coliseum over the past three seasons. Against the Hawkeyes, Iowa State didn't look anything like the team that thumped Iowa 98-84 last year in Ames. "I don't know what the problem is on the road," says Cyclone point guard Ron Bayless, a senior. "But I think it's the rankings that are killing us. It might have been better if we hadn't been ranked at the start of the year. Our heads got a little too big, and now we're not playing up to our ability."
The Cyclones rely on their jump-shooting, and when they shoot as poorly as they did against the Hawkeyes (40.4%), their weakness on the boards is magnified. Iowa center Acie Earl, a senior, and junior forward Chris Street led the Hawkeyes to a 42-20 rebounding advantage. "It was terrible," said Iowa State forward Julius Michalik, a sophomore. "I don't have words."
It could get worse before it gets better. The Cyclones' next road game is on Saturday against Michigan.
A number of big-name transfers are playing well this season, including Louisville center Clifford Rozier (page 36), formerly of North Carolina, and Vanderbilt guard Billy McCaffrey, formerly at Duke, but no one has made a more successful switch than New Mexico's 6'9" forward Canonchet Neves, a transfer from Detroit Mercy. An American Indian who's a member of the Narragansett tribe, Neves decided during his sophomore year at Detroit Mercy that he wanted to be closer to home—Dolores, Colo., a town of 802 residents. "It was the hardest decision of my life," says Neves, who's known as Notch to his teammates. "I felt a strong sense of loyalty to Detroit and to coach [Ricky] Byrdsong. But there's a point in your life where you have to do what's best for you."
Byrdsong didn't think transferring was the best thing for Neves. He refused to release Neves from his scholarship, partly because he thought the New Mexico coaching staff had put too much pressure on Neves to transfer and partly because several other players had already left the Titan program. Byrdsong's decision meant that Neves had to pay his own way to New Mexico while he sat out last season. The Neves case illustrates why a coach should not be allowed to prevent a player from accepting a scholarship from another school. Unless a coach can present the NCAA with a compelling reason to prohibit it, any player should be permitted to transfer.
An excellent shooter, Neves has gone from scoring 8.5 points a game at Detroit Mercy in 1990-91 to 16.3 points for the Lobos. He had 12 points on four three-pointers in a 69-62 upset of New Mexico State last Saturday.
Members of Neves's tribe still talk about the H-O-R-S-E competition he had as a high school senior against Todd Mitchell, then a rookie with the Denver Nuggets, on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. Neves matched Mitchell shot for acrobatic shot until Mitchell finally made a twisting dunk. Members of the Nugget entourage who were in the audience, fearing that Neves might hurt himself, persuaded him not to try it.
Neves insists he's not the only American Indian capable of playing basketball at the major college level. "There are a lot of great players on the reservation who could be in my position," he says. "The difference with me is that I was given a chance."
THE 600 CLUB
In the mid-1970s, when coach Jody Conradt was attempting to build a winning women's basketball team at Texas, she spent $5 on a magazine that explained North Carolina coach Dean Smith's run-and-jump defense. "That became the defensive philosophy I've always tried to follow," she says.
Conradt, 51, has now joined Smith in the small group of active Division I coaches who have won 600 games. She became the first woman to reach that milestone when the Lady Longhorns beat Creighton 86-69 on Sunday. Lefty Driesell of James Madison and Don Haskins of Texas-El Paso are the only other members of the 600 club.
Now some coaches have memories of Conradt to inspire them, much as Smith once inspired Conradt. Arkansas women's coach John Sutherland, whose team ended Texas's remarkable streak of 183 conference victories in 1990, recalls the time the Lady Longhorns beat the Lady Razorbacks by 42 points in 1985. He asked Conradt to breakfast the next morning, looking for suggestions on how to improve his team. Conradt offered some and then said, "When you beat us...." Sutherland suggested that she meant if, not when.
"She pointed a finger at me and said, 'When you beat us. You have to believe that first,' " says Sutherland. "I will never forget that. That was one of the most influential things anyone ever said to me in coaching. There are few people I respect in the game of basketball more than Jody Conradt."
TRUTH ON DARE
Only 2,843 people saw George Washington beat Hartford 75-55, but 17 of them were NBA scouts or executives, including George Washington alumnus and Boston Celtic president Red Auerbach. What did the pros know that the public apparently didn't? That two potential NBA lottery picks were on the floor at the Smith Center in Washington, D.C.: Hartford's 6'11" senior, Vin Baker, and George Washington's 7'1", 265-pound freshman, Yinka Dare.
Dare grew up in Nigeria and began playing basketball seriously only three years ago. Although his skills need developing, his body doesn't. Most scouts believe he's more physically imposing than Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon were at the same stage of their careers. Dare had only four points and four rebounds against Hartford, and one scout summed up his prospects by saying, "Lots of potential, but lots of work."
In his next two games, against Columbia and Tennessee State, Dare showed that he's coming right along, scoring 33 points, snatching 25 rebounds and blocking three shots. He is one of the primary reasons the Colonials are now 6-0, their best start since 1968. "I expect to get better, to improve my game," says Dare. "I want to be a more dominant player."
He appears to have chosen the right coach to help him do that. George Washington's Mike Jarvis used to coach at Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge & Latin High, where he helped refine Ewing's talents.
Baker is more of a known quantity to NBA people, although his making only six of 20 shots from the floor against George Washington probably didn't do much for his reputation. When Jarvis coached at Boston University, from 1985 to '90, one of his assistants was Ed Meyers. Meyers passed on Baker when Baker was at Old Saybrook (Conn.) High, and Jarvis was a little peeved at his assistant when Baker shone against Boston University as a freshman. "I figured I'd give Ed another chance," says Jarvis, who rehired Meyers after taking over at George Washington in 1990.
Meyers made up for his Baker blunder a few years later. It was Meyers who discovered Dare.
Fordham's upset of St. John's gave the Rams their first victory over the Redmen in their annual series since 1971, when Digger Phelps was the Fordham coach and one of his players was current Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo....
The roller-coaster award of the week goes to La Salle guard Kareem Townes. He missed all 16 of his shots in the Explorers' 71-44 loss to Penn but came back two nights later to score 31 points, including five three-pointers, in an 83-70 win over James Madison. Two nights after that, Townes missed 11 of 19 shots from the floor in a 93-76 loss to Maryland....
The Miami basketball team took one week to lose as many games—three—as the school's football team has lost in four seasons.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma State center Bryant Reeves, a 7-foot sophomore, made 18 field goals in a row to lead the Cowboys to an 85-67 win over Tulsa and a 93-75 defeat of Baylor. Reeves also had 20 rebounds.
Roschelle Vaughn, a 5'9" senior center at Tennessee Tech, averaged 19.7 points and 12 rebounds in victories over Southern Illinois (66-65), Georgia Southern (71-63) and Western Kentucky (65-49).
Senior Will Hawkins, a 6'3" forward at Division III Wheaton in Massachusetts, had 75 points and 19 rebounds as the Lyons beat New England College (80-54) and Salem State (94-88).