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Inside College Basketball
Posted: Wednesday January 06, 1999 05:37 PM
What Happened To the Movement? | Matchup of the Week
Weekly Seed Report | Spotlight: Geno Carlisle
The Blue Devils left an indelible impression on upstart Maryland
By Seth Davis
Tyson might be able to give the Blue Devils a fight, but it doesn't appear that a lot of other folks can. Second-ranked Duke took No. 4 Maryland's best shot and dispatched the Terrapins with stunning ease, holding them to 27 second-half points in an 82-64 win that ran the Blue Devils' record to 13-1. The Terps' faithful, acutely aware that this is Maryland's best team in years, had expected an exciting game, and rumor had it that Tiger Woods and Cal Ripken Jr. would be in attendance. Instead the Terrapins got another humbling from the hated Dookies as Woods's caddie, Fluff Cowan, and Cal's brother Billy watched.
What a letdown. The Blue Devils have now won 27 of their last 32 meetings with Maryland, including 12 of the last 14 at Cole. Sunday's game dropped Terps coach Gary Williams's record against Duke's Mike Krzyzewski to 2-18, a statistic that those close to Williams say is driving him to distraction. "Earlier this season there were some good things said about our team," Williams said after falling to the Blue Devils. "Now there will be some things said that we don't like. We have to use it to our benefit."
There's something to be said for learning from disappointment. Duke's only defeat this season was a 77-75 loss to then No. 15 Cincinnati at the Great Alaska Shootout on Nov. 28. The Bearcats converted 57.1% of their field goal attempts in that game, and the Blue Devils had only four steals. Before that loss, Krzyzewski had dedicated much of Duke's practice time to half-court offense, but he decided afterward to shift his focus to defense. The Blue Devils have won all eight of their games since, including a 71-60 decision over then No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 22. "We weren't a good half-court offensive team last year, and I wanted to fix that," says Coach K. "But I found out in Alaska that we weren't that good a defensive team. Now we are."
That was much in evidence on Sunday. Maryland, which had come into the game averaging 90.4 points, sixth best in the nation, made just two field goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Blue Devils broke a 37-all tie and surged to a 61-44 lead. Senior guard Trajan Langdon guarded Steve Francis, the Terps' leading scorer, in the early going, but late in the first half Krzyzewski gave that assignment to Carrawell, who has three inches and 25 pounds on the 6'3" Francis. The move worked so well that even Krzyzewski seemed surprised. Asked to comment on the fact that Francis scored only one of his 11 points in the second half, Coach K replied, "I don't know how that happened, really."
The Blue Devils also got another outstanding performance from sophomore center Elton Brand, who lost his starting job for two games in December because Krzyzewski felt he wasn't being aggressive enough. Brand followed up a 22-point, eight-rebound game against Kentucky with a 19-point, 13-rebound, four-block effort on Sunday.
The only woes Krzyzewski appears to be having these days stem from a severely arthritic left hip, which forces him to walk with a pronounced limp. When it became apparent this fall that he would need the hip replaced, Krzyzewski scheduled surgery for April 5, five days after the national title game will be played in St. Petersburg. Seems he figured he'd probably be busy until then.
What's going on in Ypsilanti? Last March, Eastern Michigan was on the rise, having won the Mid-American Conference tournament to earn its second invitation to the NCAA tournament in the last three seasons. Ten months later the Eagles, 0-11 through Sunday, were one of only four teams in Division I without a victory. "We didn't truly appreciate what we had until it was gone," says coach Milton Barnes. "Now we're starting over. These aren't growing pains we're experiencing -- these are the labor pains of a team being reborn."
The Eagles lost five senior starters who accounted for 87% of their scoring and 72% of their rebounding. Among them were guards Derrick Dial, a second-round draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs, and 5'5" Earl Boykins, who led the MAC in scoring and earned the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation's best senior under 6 feet tall. Barnes didn't have the depth last season to groom anybody for the future, and he has only three scholarship players back from last year's team. The leading scorer in that trio is Ajani Williams, who averaged 2.3 points a game.
To make matters worse, Eastern Michigan lost several key recruiting battles and signed only one freshman. As a result Barnes is trying to integrate into his lineup 10 newcomers, including four junior college transfers, a transfer from Coastal Carolina and two players who sat out last season because they didn't qualify academically. Although the Eagles have been competitive, they have also been unlucky: They lost two of their first four games on buzzer beaters. "We've found a lot of different ways to lose," says sophomore guard Avin Howard. "All that losing messes with your confidence, but Coach reminds us to keep the faith."
Eastern Michigan may have erred by failing to include any cupcakes on this year's schedule, which has featured opponents with winning records in nearly every game. Instead, the Eagles have become the cupcake. The timing couldn't have been worse: Eastern Michigan dedicated its new $29.6 million Convocation Center on Dec. 9 with a 23-point loss to Michigan.
Barnes believes he has a major building block for the program's recovery in 6-foot, 150-pound point guard Mosi Barnes (no relation), who is sitting out this season after transferring from Purdue. In the meantime the Eagles will take their lumps. "It seems like just yesterday we were on top of the hill," says Barnes. "Now I look at our schedule and ask myself, Where is a win going to come from?"
-- Tim Crothers
In 1987 about two dozen black assistant coaches got together in Las Vegas to discuss the lack of head coaching jobs being offered to minorities. That meeting marked the creation of the Black Coaches Association (BCA), an organization that over the next seven years grew considerably in size and visibility under the stewardship of executive director Rudy Washington, an assistant at Iowa at the time of the BCA's inception. But some of the nation's most prominent black coaches have distanced themselves from the association in recent years, and as the organization's prestige has declined sharply, its members have increasingly called for a change in leadership.
It's a sign of the hard times on which the association has fallen that when that change in command finally took place on Dec. 9, almost nobody noticed. Washington relinquished his position in what appeared to be an acrimonious divorce from the board of directors. "This isn't a good time for me and the BCA," says Washington, who's now commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. "I'm trying to work out some contractual things with the board of directors, but in terms of the association itself, I've walked away. Obviously, it's a difficult walk."
The BCA reached its apogee during the 1993-94 season when the association called for coaches and players to boycott games in protest of an NCAA vote against restoring one of the two men's basketball scholarships eliminated in 1991, a measure that reduced each school's limit from 15 to 13 free rides. The BCA also called for the NCAA to add minorities to its staff and to reconsider the academic restrictions of Propositions 42 and 48, which the association saw as discriminatory toward black athletes. The Congressional Black Caucus stepped in to help mediate, and the boycott was averted. "We got some things that we had wanted," says Washington. "We were also able to make some inroads at the NCAA, and we were able to let the country know that things needed to be addressed."
Five years later scholarship limits are still at 13, academic requirements have gotten even more rigorous, and the black coaches' organization is in disarray. The BCA's decline began in the autumn of 1994 when the four coaches on its legislative committee who had provided its strongest voices -- Temple's John Chaney, then USC coach George Raveling, Arkansas's Nolan Richardson and Georgetown's John Thompson -- began to sense that the movement was losing momentum. "I told them to take my name off the letterhead," says Chaney, and Raveling, Richardson and Thompson soon followed. "We were advisers. We were never on the board, so we didn't control the agenda," says Chaney. "We gave our best effort, but there was no more fight [in the BCA]. It was time to move on. The organization has really deserted kids as far as I'm concerned."
Now that Washington has abdicated, members are hopeful that the association can rejuvenate itself. The task of leading that effort presumably falls to BCA president Marianna Freeman, coach of the Syracuse women's team, who declined comment when asked about the future direction of the organization. "I wish them the best of luck," says Washington. "I would love to see them flourish. They can really help some kids."
"Our issues are still out there, and if you check the rank and file, I'm sure you will hear a lot of people asking why we're not still in the midst of things," says Clint Bryant, the athletic director at Augusta (Ga.) State, who served on the BCA's board of directors from 1988 to '93 and who has yet to renew his membership for the current year. "The association has so much potential, but it seems as if we're stagnant right now. We really need leadership."
It's not often that the coaches' pregame handshake is the most anticipated aspect of a game, but that will be the case on Wednesday when Florida plays at South Carolina. At the SEC Media Day gathering in Birmingham on Nov. 4, Gamecocks coach Eddie Fogler insinuated that a certain coach in the conference -- obviously the Gators' Billy Donovan, who immediately ripped Fogler as a no-class coward for failing to name names -- was gaining an unfair recruiting advantage because of his relationship with a financial adviser who bankrolled a trip to France for a group of top recruits in August. The SEC issued letters of reprimand to both coaches, whereupon Fogler said that he stood by his earlier comments, insisting that he never said Donovan's actions were illegal but that they might be unethical. (In response the league issued a second statement saying that an SEC investigation found no ethical violations in Donovan's actions.) With that as a backdrop, the action on the sideline may be more interesting than the action on the court when the Gamecocks (5-7 at week's end) meet the Gators (9-2).
Before getting down to SI's inaugural 1999 seeding poll, in which our panel of national correspondents pretends that it's the NCAA selection committee and that the season has ended on Sunday, let's take a brief look at how we finished last season. We successfully picked all four No. 1 seeds (though not in their correct regions) and correctly identified two No. 2s. And while the real selection committee had Cincinnati and Purdue, losers in the second and third rounds, respectively, as second seeds, we had Utah and Stanford, which both reached the Final Four. So you might say that we did a better job than the committee. But enough about us.
This week our pollsters voted Connecticut, Duke and Cincinnati as nearly unanimous No. 1s. The battle for the fourth top seed was between Maryland and Stanford, and the Cardinal, loser to the Terps on Dec. 6, squeaked in. The consolation for Maryland is that the Terps go out West as the second seed in what figures to be the weakest region. Kentucky was the other No. 2 by acclamation, but after that the voting became more diffuse. The biggest surprise was undefeated Auburn, which must win a tough test against Arkansas this week if it hopes to remain a No. 4 seed. Also raising eyebrows was the strong showing of the Big Ten, with four bids. The league does rank No. 1 in the latest conference RPI ratings, but the Big Ten's atrocious showing in the last few NCAA tournaments -- one Elite Eight finish in the last four years -- leaves room for skepticism.
Issue date: January 11, 1999
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