At last season's NCAA tournament speedy point guard Tim Smith and East Tennessee State nearly pulled off a huge upset of fourth-seeded Cincinnati. In frightening the Bearcats, the Buccaneers reminded college basketball senior editor Dick Friedman how much fast feet can help a team. That's why Friedman, along with writers Grant Wahl, Seth Davis and Kelli Anderson, decided to do what so many coaches are doing: put the emphasis on speed. In this year's season preview (page 68) each of our Top 20 teams is rated on how quickly it gets up and down the floor. Of course, running isn't much without gunning, which is why Wahl profiles North Carolina's Rashad McCants, "one of the great gunners in college basketball," Friedman says.
The women's game also values fleet feet, and no team has a speedier backcourt than top-pick LSU, led by Seimone Augustus. "She's almost a one-person run-and-gun team," Friedman says.
A more student's-eye view of the college basketball scene can be found in Sports Illustrated On Campus. The 28-page magazine, launched in September 2003, is distributed for free on 74 college campuses, but starting this month, everyone can enjoy the digital edition. Sign up at SI.com and see SIOC exactly as students do, thanks to an innovative technology that lets you flip from page to page.
SIOC covers sports in the context of the larger college experience. Says John Walters, who writes a column titled The Final, "You always hear people talk about how their college years were the best of their lives. What I like about SIOC is that I'm always talking to people in the best years of their lives."
Instead of doing its own list of Top 20 teams, SIOC names the 10 programs that are the easiest to root for--and the 10 you'd most love to see knocked out of the NCAA tournament by a 16th seed. "We won't tell you who has the best half-court trap," says SIOC editor Christian Stone, "but we will reveal the best postgame scene in Anchorage if you're in town for the Great Alaska Shootout or focus on a freshman who lives in a tent on the quad for three months to get a basketball ticket at Duke."
si senior writer Steve Rushin has, in the name of journalism, played golf in Greenland, dined with a competitive-eating champion in Japan and taken on a knuckle-whitening F/1 course. His far-flung exploits, along with his favorite Air and Space columns, have been published in The Caddie Was a Reindeer and Other Tales of Extreme Recreation ( Atlantic Monthly Press, $23). A four-time National Magazine Award finalist, Rushin didn't even have a passport when he began working at SI at age 21, but he says that reviewing the adventures he's undertaken as a writer "gave me deep reservations about how I've spent my life."