Could it be that SI employs two basketball writers named Bruce Newman? The man who lauded the ACC in general and North Carolina in particular ( North Carolina Kicks Up Its Heels. March 12) could not possibly have gone so sour on that venerable circuit in only one week (Many an Oops twixt the Bail and the Hoops, March 19). Dean Smith didn't lose his genius; Penn was a truly dangerous team, and the Tar Heels were lackadaisical, while the Quakers played like a team possessed.
ROBERT J. LANNON
Elkins Park, Pa.
Bruce Newman has written two excellent articles on the ACC tournament and the first round of the NCAA, but, my goodness, you would have to admit to the fact that he's a bit schizophrenic.
F.W. AVERY, M.D.
O.K., O.K. Bruce Newman has been sitting "by the ditch" along Tobacco Road, and he finally got what he's been waiting for. The supposedly almighty, overexposed, over-hyped kings of the ACC. North Carolina and Duke, are dead.
But please don't pin the full blame of the ACC's lordly reputation on us folks in what Newman calls "the land of the losers." We did not rank Duke No. 1 in preseason polls, the way some national sports magazines did. We did not rank North Carolina No. 3 and Duke No. 6, as the national media and coaches did at the end of this past regular season. We did not pick North Carolina as the NCAA tournament favorite, as the Las Vegas sharpsters did. We do not make Penn's Tony Price sit and watch the Carolina TV show. And we do not pressure SPORTS ILLUSTRATED into making the ACC tournament a cover story every year.
The only thing we've done is enjoy some great basketball the last five months. We eat it, drink it and sleep it. If ACC basketball irritates you opportunists all that much, then why don't you just ignore it?
The fact that Penn has won eight of its last 12 meetings with ACC teams must have some significance. This year alone, Penn was three for three against the ACC, with one of those wins on an ACC court. St. John's was two for two this season against Duke, the pre-season SPORTS ILLUSTRATED choice for No. 1. To top it off, Penn made it to the final four, which was refreshingly stocked with new faces.
King of Prussia, Pa.
ACC teams do not, as Newman stated, get "swallowed up" in NCAA tournaments. Since 1974, and including this year's two losses, ACC teams have a combined 18-10 record in the NCAAs. A few conferences or geographical groups have superior records attributable to an outstanding school—for example, Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA and Marquette. Six ACC teams have combined for the 18-10 record since 1974.
Proponents of college basketball in the Midwest and Northeast will long relish this year's postseason tournaments. The early demise of all five Atlantic Coast Conference entries hopefully will destroy the myth of ACC basketball supremacy.
The ACC has some merit, but the hype surrounding this league is not supported by postseason play, past or present. The slowdown strategies developed and employed by many ACC teams serve only to demonstrate their abilities at not playing basketball. I cannot object to a clever method of sealing a win in the waning minutes, but stalling tactics at the 15-minute mark can only lessen the thrill of this great sport.
The ACC not only proved that its teams were inferior, but that its fans were as well. It was a shame to have the finals of the Eastern Regional in an empty arena in Greensboro, where apparently fans only enjoy ACC basketball.