The Trojans are one of the youngest teams in their conference—6'8" forward Jarvis Turner is the only senior in a seven-man rotation that includes one freshman and three sophomores—but they play an entertaining brand of basketball appropriate to Tinseltown. Sophomore point guard Brandon Granville leads the Pac-10 in assists with 8.2 per game, and three other USC starters—6'7" sophomore Sam Clancy, Scalabrine and 6'4" junior Jeff Trepagnier—are among the league's top 10 in scoring. Trepagnier, who has a 40-inch vertical leap, might be the most electrifying player in the nation. He's third in the country in steals with 4.3 per game, and he demonstrated his superior athleticism at last spring's Pac-10 track and field championships by placing second in the high jump despite having practiced only several times beforehand.
Besides its youth, USC's biggest shortcoming might be its lack of depth. All five starters average at least 33 minutes per game, and each has gone the distance at least once. Bibby, however, doesn't seem concerned about the physical toll this could take. "You don't get worn down when you're on top of your game," he says. Indeed, the Trojans have waited a long time to play first fiddle in L.A., and they're not likely to tire of that status soon.
St. Bonaventure's Ascension
Rising from The Dead
It has been 30 years since Bob Lanier led St. Bonaventure to the Final Four and 23 years since the Bonnies won the NIT, so a 12-2 start has given St Bonaventure fans a rush of nostalgia. Before last Saturday's 57-56 home win over Temple, the Bonnies' rooters even revived a favorite bit from the old days: They wheeled out a casket emblazoned with their opponent's school logo to rile up the fans. "I saw it in the hallway, and I said, 'What the heck is that doing there?' " says Jim Baron, the point guard for the 1977 NIT champs, who's now in his eighth year as coach at the college near Olean, N.Y. "We did that a lot back in the '70s, but that's the first time I've seen it since I've been coaching here."
After a lackluster performance the past few years in Atlantic 10 away games—the Bonnies entered the season 10-44 in regular-season league road games under Baron—they won their first two conference games this season at Massachusetts and La Salle. Against Temple, St. Bonaventure erased a 14-point deficit and won on sophomore J.R. Bremer's three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left. The victory gave the Bonnies a 4-0 start in the Atlantic 10, their best ever. Though the Bonnies won't overwhelm many teams with their talent, they have experience (three seniors and a junior start) and a nasty defense that had the team atop the conference in steals, with 9.9 a game, and third in field goal percentage defense (40.5%) through Sunday.
Much of the credit for this revival goes to 5'10" senior point guard Tim Winn, whom Baron calls "the best defensive guard I've ever been around." Winn, from Niagara Falls, N.Y., did such a good job of checking Stephon Marbury during a high school tournament in 1995 that Marbury encouraged his future college coach, Bobby Cremins, to recruit him at Georgia Tech. Winn had a rocky start to his junior season, missing the first six games because he was arrested following an altercation with another student (Winn pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to three years' probation and 400 hours of community service), but he's come back strong this year. Through Sunday he was tied for fifth in the nation in steals, with 3.9 a game, and he led the Bonnies in scoring with a 14.2 average. "Tim has tremendous desire, and it rubs off on the team," Baron says. "It rubs off on the community, too. We've had great tradition here. It feels good to rekindle that a bit."
The NCAA's Empty Promises
On March 23, 1994, the NCAA ended the threat of a walkout from games by members of the Black Coaches Association by reaching an agreement with the BCA about addressing a number of their concerns, including increased opportunities for minorities in basketball coaching and athletic administration.
While there are more minority college coaches today than six years ago, little progress has been made on the administrative front. According to a two-year study released in 1998 by the NCAA's Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, minorities hold only 2.6% of athletic directorships at Division I, II and III schools (excluding historically black institutions) and 5.0% of core management positions (athletic director, associate AD and assistant AD). "After all our years of dealing with the NCAA, our old problems are still with us," says Temple coach John Chaney, who is incensed over the lack of progress since the 1994 agreement. "We were fooled, we were duped, and we were bamboozled."
That the NCAA could avoid fulfilling its commitments is partly the result of the diminished influence of the BCA, which has been racked by internal conflict and has lost the active support of prominent members such as Chaney, George Raveling, Nolan Richardson and John Thompson. Now the NCAA committee's study and the lack of improvement has prompted Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches ( NABC), to make additional opportunities for minorities a top priority for his organization. In the January issue of Courtside, the NABC's magazine, Haney writes that the study sends a message that "African-Americans are welcome to play intercollegiate athletics, to coach a collegiate team and to support the athletic enterprise as a support staff member, but not to manage the business of the athletic department." Haney held a conference call last Friday to draw attention to the paucity of blacks in management, but he feels that for progress to be made, a new organization devoted exclusively to the issue should be created.