A FINE-TUNED YUGO
Of all the players who gave the final between South Florida and Houston in the Tampa Tribune Holiday Invitational such an international flavor—Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Yugoslavia were represented—the most interesting was Radenko Dobras, a 6'7" sophomore guard who got to USF by way of Banja Luka, Yugoslavia. With his long-range shooting eye and deft passing, Dobras calls to mind the late Pistol Pete Maravich of LSU.
During a 1987 tour of Europe with the Yugoslavian Junior National team, Dobras impressed U.S. coach Larry Brown so much that Brown, then at Kansas, offered him a scholarship. Dobras was receptive because he would have more time for his studies in the U.S. than in Yugoslavia, where the emphasis on basketball is so intense that practices often last five hours—after which Dobras would sharpen his touch by taking as many as 500 shots.
Dobras was ready to accept Brown's offer until Brown left Kansas for San Antonio of the NBA. A South Florida professor, Doug Hatch, heard from a friend in Europe that Dobras might consider another school. Hatch passed the tip on to the Bulls' basketball staff, which sold Dobras on the idea of a warmer climate. It also didn't hurt that one of his childhood friends attends Florida Institute of Technology, 127 miles away in Melbourne.
Coach Bobby Paschal discovered early that Dobras is a tireless worker. "A perfect example was when we were doing sit-ups during one of our workouts," says Paschal. "He did 818 without a break. I had never seen anything like that."
As a freshman point guard, Dobras led the Sun Belt Conference in steals with 56 and scored 16.2 points per game, mainly by shooting 43.5% from three-point range. Paschal has switched him to shooting guard this season, a position more to his liking, and Dobras has helped USF get off to a solid 6-3 start.
He has been in a shooting slump, however, converting only 23.4% of his three-point attempts through Sunday. In a 78-72 loss to Florida State, Dobras was a nightmarish 1 for 11 from that range.
"I'm never satisfied with my game," says Dobras, whose English has improved even more rapidly than his game. "Whether I play good or bad, I can always play better."
We wish, dear reader, that we could justify Georgetown's playing Northern Iowa in Las Vegas on Dec. 29. Alas, however, the matchup was just another example of the absurd scheduling that has made December a sort of throw-away month in college basketball.