"I've got special plans, but I don't want to reveal them," says Sylvia Crawley (left), a 6'5" reserve center for the Colorado Xplosion who routinely stuffs during warmups. "The first round we'll see who can actually dunk. Then in the second round you'll see some tricks."
Crawley is a cousin of Georgeann Wells, the 6'7" West Virginia center who in 1984 became the first woman to dunk in a college game. Crawley had two potential flushes in games last season but missed them both. "Part of it is nerves and sweaty hands," she says. "Also, people chase you down. No one wants to be the first team dunked on."
This season's list of attendance-impaired college bowl games includes the expected—Cincinnati fans have bought only 2,000 of the 15,000 tickets purchased by the school for the inaugural Humanitarian Bowl against Utah State in Boise, Idaho—and the unexpected. By the end of last week Ohio State, which had unloaded about 13,000 Sugar Bowl tickets, had taken out newspaper ads for the first time ever in an attempt to get rid of its remaining 9,000. The Buckeyes' Jan. 1 opponent, Florida State, had sold only 6,000 of its 15,000 seats. North Carolina still had about half of its 11,500 Gator Bowl tickets left. And Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver, in an attempt to sell out his Gator Bowl allotment of 11,500, had encouraged fans to buy tickets to the game and donate them to underprivileged kids.
The diminished fan interest is a side effect of the Bowl Alliance, which each year tries to set up a national championship game in the Fiesta, Orange or Sugar Bowl. With top-ranked Michigan playing No. 8 Washington State in the Rose and No. 2 Nebraska facing No. 3 Tennessee in the Orange, the Ohio State-Florida State matchup will have no bearing on the national championship picture, thus diminishing its appeal. "I'm not pressing any panic buttons," says Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan, "but in this first three-year cycle [of the Alliance], that is a glaring problem." Fans of Gator-bound North Carolina are also less than thrilled with their team's bowl berth. North Carolina (10-1) spent much of the season as a top five team and appeared headed to an Alliance bowl; instead, after a late-season loss, the Tar Heels will play the Hokies, who dropped their last two games and are 7-4.
Since schools are required in their bowl contracts to buy a certain number of tickets up front, unsold seats cut into their take. If North Carolina, for example, has to eat 5,000 tickets at as much as $100 a pop, a good piece of the Tar Heels' estimated $1.3 million haul from the Gator Bowl will disappear. Win or lose the game, that's a hit few schools can afford.
A customer at the New York Yankees Clubhouse Shop on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was browsing near a register on Sunday when another shopper; approached and asked an employee for help in identifying a replica pinstriped jersey. The worker, an assistant manager, unfolded the shirt in question and after a moment of puzzled silence called out to a colleague, "Hey, who's Number 7?"