Work in Sports
Battier the best
Duke star one vote shy of unanimous All-America
Updated: Wednesday November 08, 2000 8:32 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shane Battier, a defensive star with an impressive all-around game, and Troy Murphy, the first player to lead the Big East in scoring and rebounding, were the leading vote-getters Tuesday for The Associated Press' preseason All-America team.
Battier, who enters his senior season at Duke, was one vote short of being a unanimous selection by the 72-member national media panel, while Murphy, who will be a junior at Notre Dame, was on 62 ballots.
Joining the forwards on the preseason team were Arizona senior center Loren Woods, who got 46 votes, and senior guard Jamaal Tinsley of Iowa State and sophomore guard Joseph Forte of North Carolina, who both had 39 votes.
Maryland senior forward Terence Morris was sixth with 19 votes.
Battier, a 6-foot-8 senior, is known for shutting down the opposition's top scorer regardless of size, as well as for the lost art of taking charges, but his offensive game has been impressive throughout his career.
He averaged 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds last season and was among the top five in the ACC in 3-pointers per game, scoring, free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage, blocked shots and steals.
Then there is the matter of Battier, a second-team All-American last season after being an honorable mention pick in the preseason, being one of the best leaders Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has ever had in his program.
"Shane can score in every way," Krzyzewski said. "He's our best 3-point shooter, he's an outstanding foul shooter, he can post, he can fill a lane, he has really improved on driving the basketball. His position defensively is magnificent, almost on every play."
Murphy averaged 22.7 points and 10.3 rebounds last season to lead the Big East in both categories, but even more surprising was that he returned to Notre Dame for his junior season. Matt Doherty left after one season to become coach at North Carolina, but Murphy is ready to play for new coach Mike Brey.
Murphy, a 6-foot-10 junior, is the only returning All-America from last Season, but it's not individual accomplishments he's looking for.
"Until I accomplish all of the goals I have, I'll be around here," Murphy said. "The thing that's missing from my college experience is playing in that NCAA tournament. I don't care if I average 12 points a game or four points a game. I want to get into the NCAA tournament."
Notre Dame hasn't been in the NCAA tournament since 1990.
"I think he wants to be the guy that gets them back there," Brey said. "I think that means a lot to him."
Woods missed the final month of the regular season and the NCAA tournament last season because of a back injury that required two operations. That forced him back for a fifth year of college and he said he's stronger than ever.
Woods, a 7-foot-1 senior, set the NCAA record for blocked shots in a game last season with 14 against Oregon, averaged 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. The other four starters for the top-ranked Wildcats all received votes in the preseason All-America balloting.
"If we win the national championship and we play to the level we're capable of playing, then we will be the greatest team ever," Woods said.
Tinsley ran the offense last season for the Cyclones while Marcus Fizer received all the individual attention. A 6-3 New York City native, he averaged 11.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists last season, but impressed even more people over the summer when he played for the Select Team of college players that worked out with and played against the U.S. Olympic team.
Forte was the ACC's rookie of the year last season as he became the first North Carolina freshman to lead the team in scoring. His 16.7 scoring average might be affected this season as he will help with the ball-handling chores following the graduation of point guard Ed Cota. Still, the 6-4 Forte was more than a shooter last season when he averaged 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Last year's preseason All-America team consisted of Mateen Cleaves of Michigan State, Scoonie Penn of Ohio State, Chris Porter of Auburn, Quentin Richardson of DePaul and Morris.
Cleaves was voted to the second team at the end of the season, while Penn was a third-team pick. The others were all among the honorable mentions.