PLUCK OF THE IRISH
Going into last Saturday's game at Syracuse, Notre Dame had a disappointing 13-8 record. More threatening to its chances of landing an NCAA tournament bid was its 0-5 mark against Top 25 teams. Against the Orange, however, the Irish played their most inspired ball of the season. They led by as many as 13 points before Syracuse rallied and forward Billy Owens made a lefthanded scoop shot in the lane to give Syracuse a 65-63 lead and an apparent victory with :02 showing on the clock.
After Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps argued that his team had called timeout with four seconds remaining, the officials added another second to the clock. That gave the Irish just enough time to get the inbounds pass to LaPhonso Ellis at midcourt. He threw the ball to Elmer Bennett. Bennett's three-pointer from the top of the key secured a 66-65 victory for the Irish and caused the jubilant Phelps to do a jig all the way down to the Syracuse bench to shake hands with coach Jim Boeheim. The win probably put Notre Dame into the tournament, though the Irish still have tough games against DePaul (twice), Georgia Tech, Missouri and Kentucky.
Two days before the Syracuse game, Notre Dame was attacked from an unexpected quarter. Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick announced that he was canceling the Jayhawks' home-and-home basketball series with the Irish in 1991-92 and 1992-93 to protest Notre Dame's decision to pull out of the College Football Association's television package with ABC and to let NBC televise all its home games from 1991 through '95 (SI, Feb. 19). At the time, Frederick was at work on the Big Eight's share-the-wealth proposal for NCAA basketball—a plan to divide among all NCAA schools, not just the basketball powers, the $1 billion in hoop money the NCAA will receive from CBS over the seven years beginning with the 1990-91 season. "In that light, Notre Dame's decision really rubbed me wrong," says Frederick.
Irish eyes were smiling at the idea of Kansas, which was on NCAA probation last season for recruiting violations, taking a moral stand against Notre Dame, which has never been on probation. The Jay-hawks' gesture was a bit hollow, too. The Irish immediately filled the 1991-92 date with Temple.
BOYS FROM BRAZIL
Believe it or not, if you want to learn the basics of the lambada, the new dance craze from Brazil, you might visit Twin Falls, Idaho (pop. 28,000). That's because Jose Jube, one of two Brazilians at the College of Southern Idaho, the nation's top-ranked junior college team, is as slick on the dance floor as he is on the basketball floor. "He's a good dancer," says coach Fred Trenkle of his 6'6" sophomore guard, "but he doesn't hang out a lot, because he really gets on the books. It's a big thing for these kids to take a college degree back to Brazil."
To most hoops fans, Brazil is known mainly as the home of Oscar Schmidt, the three-point specialist who shot the U.S. team out of the 1987 Pan American Games. But to Trenkle, Brazil is a pipeline to success. Five years ago, after transferring from Lamar, Edward Drewnick became the first Brazilian to find his way to Twin Falls. Trenkle then brought in 6'7" guard Mauro Gomes, who went on to play at Idaho for a year. Next came 6'8" center Caio daSilveira and 6'7" swingman Sergio Gomes, who are now juniors at Seattle Pacific College. They were followed by Jube and teammate Carlito (Junior) daSilva, a 6'9", 250-pound freshman center. At week's end, Southern Idaho's record since the Brazilian influx began was 132-8, sizzling even by the standards of the lambada, which combines elements of the tango and the dirty dancing of Patrick Swayze.
Southern Idaho had a strong program even before the boys from Brazil began showing up. The school was founded in 1965, and basketball was introduced the next year under coach Eddie Sutton, who moved on to greater glory at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky. One of Sutton's first recruits was Trenkle, who came back to coach the Golden Eagles in 1983 after three years as a Sutton assistant at Arkansas. Trenkle has a 218-23 record, including a juco national title in 1986-87.
Jube, 24, is too old to move on to a Division I team, and isn't good enough to play in the NBA, so he'll probably end up at an NAIA school. However, daSilva, 21, has the potential to become a Division I player after one more season at Southern Idaho. "He's not as well versed in inside play as you'd like, but he can use either hand," said Trenkle. "He's a big, happy-go-lucky puppy who's just learning the game." Through Sunday, daSilva was averaging 8.5 points and five rebounds for the 26-1 Eagles. Jube, a long-range shooter a la Schmidt, was averaging 14.0 points.