Seth Davis's Free Throws

February 16, 2004

EYE OF THE STORM

Just when it appeared things couldn't get worse for St. John's,
the once-proud program was rocked by an embarrassing episode in
Pittsburgh early last Thursday morning after several members of
the team brought a woman they had met at a strip club back to
their hotel for a sexual encounter. (The woman first told police
that she was raped, but one player produced digital sound and
images recorded on his cellphone, in which the woman reportedly
threatens the rape charge unless she's paid for the sex.) The
school expelled senior forward Grady Reynolds, is seeking
expulsion for sophomore guard Elijah Ingram and senior center Abe
Keita, and suspended senior center Mohamed Diakite and freshman
forward Lamont Hamilton, leaving the Red Storm with just four
scholarship players, three of whom are seniors. After a blowout
loss to Boston College on Sunday, St. John's (5-15, 0-9 in the
Big East) figures to finish with the most losses in school
history and likely won't qualify for next month's Big East
tournament.

Whoever is hired as a permanent replacement for Mike Jarvis, who
was fired on Dec. 19, faces a difficult road. Because the NCAA
allows schools to award just five scholarships in a single year,
the Storm may have as few as six players on scholarship next
year.

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE

The NCAA may soon consider eliminating the mandatory two-year
waiting period that prevents teams that have just joined Division
I from playing in their conference tournaments. That, however,
won't happen soon enough to help Birmingham-Southern, which was
in first place in the Big South Conference at week's end with a
10-2 record (17-5 overall) but most likely won't get a chance to
play in the NCAA tournament since that would require an at-large
bid. Still, if there's any justice, the Panthers should be
invited to the NIT if they win the regular-season title,
especially since that tournament expanded from 32 to 40 teams two
years ago.

UNDER THE RADAR

Bryant Matthews, Sr., F, Virginia Tech

When teams play Virginia Tech, the first item in the scouting
report is always the same: Stop Matthews. With a nose for the
basket and a knack for doing what it takes, Matthews was leading
the Big East in scoring (23.6 points per game) and was second in
rebounding (9.7 boards per game) at week's end, but he gets
little attention because the Hokies (9-10, 2-6 in the Big East)
don't play any games on national television this season and have
never qualified to play in the conference tournament.

Matthews was passed over by higher-profile programs because,
coming out of Columbia (S.C.) High, where he also played wide
receiver, he was considered a better prospect in football than in
basketball. Former Virginia Tech coach Ricky Stokes was one of
the few to offer him a hoops scholarship.

SI.com
Hoop Thoughts by Seth Davis, and Grant Wahl's Mailbag, at
si.com/basketball/ncaa.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)