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HIGH TIMES FOR THE VALLEY
Curry Kirkpatrick
March 09, 1981
Not long ago, the Missouri Valley Conference appeared to be running a fast break to extinction, but now, with an infusion of outstanding players and coaches, the far-flung league is reviving memories of its glorious past
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March 09, 1981

High Times For The Valley

Not long ago, the Missouri Valley Conference appeared to be running a fast break to extinction, but now, with an infusion of outstanding players and coaches, the far-flung league is reviving memories of its glorious past

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This season, however, the two forwards have rapidly matured into team-oriented, all-round customers. In addition, the Shockers brought in Point Guard Tony Martin from Casper ( Wyo.) J.C. who has been able to penetrate and deliver the ball to the sophomore dunkers as well as enable young Smithson to move out on the wing, where he's more effective. Randy Smithson and Martin combined for 29 points and 13 assists of their own in the shredding of Bradley.

For their part, Carr and Levingston have averaged a combined 33.3 points and 18 rebounds a game and the former has become an outstanding defensive player, with 48 blocks. Wichita State has been outscored in its five defeats by only one, seven, two, two and three points. The most recent setback occurred last Saturday in a meaningless 75-72 loss at Indiana State, whose emotional Sycamores played as if Bird were still there, especially after Carr got kicked out of the game for elbowing early in the second half. "The only times we lose are when we don't play hard," Randy Smithson said afterward.

Sadly, though, Wichita has lost something even when the team has played hard and won. Levingston's nickname—"Good News"—supplies the irony in the Shockers' roller-coaster season of success on the court and controversy off it.

The bad news is that, according to published reports, the former girl friend of a Wichita player had an abortion at the urging of the Wichita coaches, paid for by the athletic department, so that the player could remain in school.

Added to this messy business were assertions in The Kansas City Times by former Wichita players that the coaching staff regularly paid out crisp $100 bills for plane flights, clothes and parties. Wichita State Athletic Director Ted Bredehoft emphatically denied all, and last week Smithson begged off the subject, predicting that the emergence of his team and the league as a whole would make both Wichita and the Valley "household words."

Nevertheless, on Saturday the crowd in Terre Haute was shouting at Smithson, "Gene, if I get an Afro, will you slip me a hundred?"

At this point in the Missouri Valley's rejuvenation, the conference must wonder if becoming a household word again is worth the trouble.

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