And how did you beat the Hoosiers, Coach? "It's superior coaching," Haskins said. "Superior preparation of our team. If that's bragging, it's bragging. On a national scale our program is not getting the recognition it deserves. We just got done beating the best team in basketball. I want my due."
Fair enough. At week's end the Gophers were 15-10, 7-5 in the Big Ten, and in position for a possible NCAA tournament berth, all of which qualities as a surprise. Haskins and his team deserve credit, and Haskins might even deserve some admiration for his postgame comments. Compare them with the reaction of Marquette coach Kevin O'Neill, who also recruited Sims intensely. O'Neill bowed out wimpishly, saying, "The last thing I need is to have Bob Knight ticked off at me."
Did Oklahoma State peak too soon? It's a question worth asking in light of the Cowboys' recent troubles. Their 84-83 overtime loss at Iowa State last Saturday, in which they blew a 38-20 halftime lead and a seven-point margin in OT, was their third defeat in four games after they started the season 20-0.
Granted, Oklahoma State plays in the nation's toughest conference. The Cowboys began the week ranked No. 2 in the country and ended it in third place in the Big Eight, behind Kansas and Missouri. But it has to be worrisome to the Cowboys that star forward Byron Houston has been struggling, most notably in a 57-53 loss earlier last week to the Big Eight's last-place team, Colorado.
The Buffaloes' 2-3 zone collapsed on Houston, denying him a single shot in the second half, and he finished with only seven points. "He didn't get the ball much, and he didn't do much when he did get it," said Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton after the game. "Byron just isn't playing well. Part of the problem may be that we aren't coaching well enough."
A first-rate college basketball rivalry should feature two high-quality teams, a close series, fan interest that borders on fanaticism and a spirit of fair play. By those measures the 72-year-old war between Hope and Calvin, two Division III schools in western Michigan, is the equal of Duke-North Carolina, Georgetown- Syracuse or any of the big Division I rivalries.
The two colleges, whose campuses are 30 miles apart, added another memorable game to their shared history last Saturday, when top-ranked Calvin, of Grand Rapids, defeated No. 8 Hope 77-75 at the Holland ( Mich.) Civic Center, Hope'? home court. The victory gave Calvin, which was 22-1 at week's end, a 64-60 lead in the series but after those 124 games only live points separate the two teams. Calvin has scored 8,000 points to Hope's 7,995.
Calvin is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church Hope with the Reformed Church in America. The religious underpinnings gave rise to a one-liner from Dr. Calvin VanderWerf, who, despite his first name, once was president of Hope. "An atheist," he said, "is someone who goes to the Hope-Calvin game and doesn't care who wins."