Hitting the Rhode
In 1991 Rodrick Rhodes was one of the most sought-after high school basketball players in the country, a prospect any coach hobnobbing in the Sheraton lobby last week would've loved to sign. Kentucky coach Rick Pitino lured him to the Bluegrass from St. Anthony's of Jersey City, in part by touting him as the next Jamal Mashburn. The Youthful Genius so coveted Rhodes, in fact, that he honored Rhodes's demand that he not seek another coaching job.
But Rhodes has never lived up to his inflated hype. In three seasons at Kentucky he has shot often and erratically and has disappeared in big games. That, however, hasn't deterred Rhodes from telling friends and teammates that he intends to go to the NBA predraft camp in Chicago in early June with an eye to turning pro. And, notwithstanding his public statements to the contrary, Pitino—who has grown weary of the influence of Reggie Rhodes, Rodrick's brother, adviser and agent-to-be—is virtually holding the door for him. Pitino has three starters coming back next season, a recruiting class that includes Ohio State transfer Derek Anderson and a good shot at signing schoolboy sensation Ron Mercer, all of which makes the bluest of blue-chippers expendable!
"Overbooking" is a hoary tradition at Air Wildcat—remember the 1986 comment by Eddie Sutton, Kentucky's coach at the time: "I'll bring in a whole new team each year if I want to"—and running players off is a lamentable consequence of that practice. It seems unlikely that an NBA team will want someone a college team doesn't, but Rhodes can only hope one docs. As Pitino said last week when asked whether there would be a place for Rhodes in Lexington if he wasn't drafted, "He really has nothing to come back for."
Perhaps seven-year-old Elizabeth Anne Noble will someday believe that her oldest brother, Tom, is not automatically awarded a championship ring every spring. For now, though, she cannot be swayed. When Tom stopped 21 of 23 shots last Saturday to help Boston University to a 6-2 win over Maine in the NCAA hockey championship (page 99), it marked the fifth straight year that Noble, the Terriers' freshman goalie, had ended his season beneath a celebratory pileup. Before arriving at BU last fall, Noble played for Boston's Catholic Memorial High, which won the Massachusetts state title in each of his four years at the school. "Geez," says Noble, who played behind Washington Capitals' rookie phenom Jim Carey during his first two high school seasons, "I don't remember the last time a season ended without a championship. Seventh, eighth grade?"
Noble's feat, however, paled before that of Stanford's Kristin Folkl's. During her four years at St. Joseph's Academy in St. Louis, Folkl, a Cardinal freshman, won four state titles in volleyball and four in basketball. And in December she helped the Stanford volleyball team win a national championship. Alas, Folkl's drive for a fifth straight hoops title fell short when the Cardinal lost 87-60 to Connecticut in the Final Four semifinals.
Women in Kneed
During the two months since we published our story on the epidemic of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in women's basketball (Feb. 13), Tennessee guard Tiffany Woosley has spent approximately 224 hours rehabilitating her reconstructed right knee. We've spent almost as much time sifting through responses from readers who have endured or performed knee surgery. Our story focused on basketball, in which women sustain ACL tears four times more often than men do. But our expert correspondents tell us the numbers are disproportionate in other sports, too. In soccer and skiing, women suffer twice as many of these serious knee injuries, and ACL tears are disconcertingly common among women involved in gymnastics, handball and volleyball.
Donald Cooper, team physician at Oklahoma State for the last 35 years, is one of many medical professionals who would like to see efforts to prevent knee injuries start in childhood. He thinks young people of both sexes are predisposed to ACL tears because they don't develop strength in their ligaments, tendons and bones. "We allow them to grow up with no physical education, in front of the TV, and they end up with a weakened infrastructure," he says. Cooper also believes that society encourages girls to be less active than boys, thus placing girls at higher risk. "Muscles will grow," he says. "But once you go past puberty, you can't go back and stimulate the tendons and ligaments to get that strength."