While Olajuwon and Micheaux take care of business underneath and Young fills it up from outside, it's the elusive Drexler, sleek, smooth, with matinee-idol looks, who's the core of the Houston transition game. One Drexler dunk was so rousing that Lewis himself jumped out of his chair to give his player a hearty high five as he came running back down court.
Drexler made his national breakthrough with a heroic performance against North Carolina's James Worthy in the national semifinals last year and followed it up this season with a 28-point, 13-rebound effort against Syracuse, providing a spectacle of showtime athleticism that sent CBS into sheer ecstasy. Then, sorrowfully for the Cougars, only five days later came VJ day. Virginia in Japan.
Valid grounds exist for Houston to cop a plea for its Sampsonless debacle—a 72-63 defeat—in the Suntory Classic in Tokyo. Virginia's guards were understandably enraged upon hearing that the Cougar players had called them Smurfs. Hardly any enthusiasm or even noise emanated from the studious Japanese crowd. Then the final straw: Virginia didn't alert Houston until 15 minutes before tipoff that Sampson, who was suffering from the flu, would sit out the game. It was a nifty trick, leaving the Cougars much like a man on a desert island expecting Jayne Kennedy and getting Jane Byrne instead.
"We were so pumped up to play—not against Virginia but against Ralph," said a stricken Drexler. And Lewis was angry and contrite enough after the game to apologize publicly, à la George Steinbrenner, to the Japanese people for his team's shabby performance.
Last Saturday, following another monster Drexler evening—18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against Rice—Houston and Virginia were once again linked, this time in the race for No. 1 in the country.
Akeem the Dream said being No. 1 would be, of course, a dream. Drexler was asked whom he would vote for. "Well I've seen both teams," he said, hesitating, "and it's a great honor. But we don't need all that pressure. Coach says Number One ain't crap. But nobody wants to be Number Two. So, see you later."
Not for nothing is Clyde the Glide.