Russell, Britt and Notre Dame's John Shumate had talked things over the night before the game, and Britt had warned Shumate about overconfidence. "I don't think he listened to me," said Britt, who held star freshman Adrian Dantley to a measly two points and at one juncture growled at the frustrated player, "C'mon, do something." But Dantley couldn't. "My legs felt like log cabins," he said later.
Since emotional Al McGuire has coached Marquette, the Warriors had never gotten out of the NCAA regionals. But everywhere the team looked its players found portents of better things, including Tuscaloosa's Black Warrior River and a pub called Ireland's. Notre Dame's loss did not hurt, either.
Marquette frittered away an early lead and appeared tight against Vanderbilt, perhaps because of an antagonistic crowd that reacted wildly to McGuire's sideline show. But the Warriors went on to win 69-61. McGuire kept running his fingers through his wild American Graffiti hairdo in the final against Michigan, upset by the officiating as much as by his team. Finally he exploded and was charged with two quick technical fouls. The delighted crowd broke into derisive song, but McGuire had the last chuckle. His team guarded Russell as if he were a gas pump, took a 63-62 lead on reserve Rick Campbell's three-point play and assist, and after a brief tie went ahead for good on freshman Bo Ellis' 10-foot jumper. Said a giddy McGuire following the 72-70 victory, "If I had seen Bo play this well before I would've given him more money."
There were fireworks at Tulsa where Kansas won the Midwest but was thrust into the background by the remarkable events that surrounded Oral Roberts University and its lame-duck coach, Ken Trickey. In midseason, after he and school president Oral Roberts bickered over basketball doctrine, Trickey said he would resign, then coached his team into an NCAA at-large bid. But after beating Louisville 96-93 Thursday night, he was stopped by a state trooper who found something on his breath besides the sweet smell of success and arrested him for drunken driving. To Oral Roberts this is akin to moral turpitude. President Roberts suspended the coach, then prayed with him and decided every sinner should have the chance for redemption. He reinstated Trickey for the Saturday final against Kansas. "Ken told me he thought God wanted him to coach," said Roberts, adding that if any of his religious followers had any doubts, they should contact him and he would show them the light.
With only 2:50 to go against Kansas, it appeared as if Trickey was out of the fire. His team had an 81-74 lead. But instead of slowing to a canter, Oral Roberts kept right on galloping. Ninety seconds later Kansas had tied it. The Jay-hawks went on to win 93-90 in overtime. "We expected a miracle, and we got it," said Kansas Forward Roger Morning-star, who sounded as if he was on the wrong team.
After the game the now former Oral Roberts coach offered an interesting thought on why Kansas won. "It's because of tradition," he said. "Even North Carolina State and UCLA can't touch the tradition of Kansas. You don't have to believe this, but it affects their players. They don't have better players than us, but they've got tradition."
So now comes Greensboro. UCLA and North Carolina State are the only teams in the final four who have played each other this season, and things have changed since they met. One big change is the locale. North Carolina people have been aching to get UCLA down in corn-pone country, to fatten them up on grits and blow tobacco smoke in their eyes. Now they have their chance. If you listen closely, you can hear the yelling begin.
Whether Kansas or Marquette faces the winner is a tossup. Kansas has shown a propensity to turn the ball over under duress, as it did in an early-season trampling at Indiana. If the Jayhawks get fluttery, Marquette will steal them blind.
At any rate, all four teams have a chance at the title, a refreshing situation for the NCAA in recent years. But UCLA is UCLA and the team's incentive for victory may be even greater than normal. After all, the Wizard may be coming down off the mountain.