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."