If this was the season in which college basketball played beat the clock once too often, the season in which everyone seemed to be trying not to lose rather than to win, the season of lost innocence at UCLA and lost luster at Notre Dame, is it any wonder that the 1982 NCAA tournament began with a terrific assortment of non-happenings?
There was the game that was never played: Kentucky- Louisville, March 13, Nashville. Save your scalped, no doubt, ticket stubs. There was the player who never showed up: Wyoming Forward Bill Garnett, who, after a marvelous season filled with honors, disappeared in the wilds of Utah to be replaced by a look-alike who missed 12 of 17 shots in as sorrowful a two-game tournament as any All-America ever had. There was the upset that was written on the wind, in which DePaul folded in its first game for the third straight year, this time bowing meekly to Boston College 82-75. And there was the Eastern embarrassment that didn't materialize because Alexander Hamilton or James Madison or one of those founding fathers surprised the stockings off the tournament and because three teams from the nationally belittled Big East Conference emerged from Washington, Boston and Philadelphia to gain berths in the sweet 16.
However, the fact that three of the four top seeds survived the tournament's opening weekend may be cause for distress throughout the rest of the draw. Now that North Carolina, Virginia and Georgetown, with six freshmen playing prominent roles, are no longer wet behind their playoff ears, it will take an act of God, or of somebody like Alabama in Birmingham's Oliver Robinson, to keep them from New Orleans and the championship round.
Before North Carolina, No. 1 in the tournament seedings, met James Madison, No. 4 in the presidents, last week in Charlotte, N.C., Kyle Campanelli, 12, asked for and received North Carolina Coach Dean Smith's autograph at court-side. A while later Kyle might have been able to trade it even-up for the autograph of his dad, James Madison Coach Lou Campanelli, because even-up is just about how the unknown Dukes played the Tar Heels before losing 52-50.
Unknown may not be fair. Campanelli and Madison snuck out of the Shenandoah Valley to upset Georgetown in last year's tournament, they upset Ohio State in this year's, and it will be no upset if Campanelli sneaks off to Duquesne or Seton Hall soon. On Saturday he got his Dukes up again, parlaying 12 points each from Linton Townes, Dan Ruland and Charles Fisher to pull within one point of the lead (46-47) with 1:38 to go. Then the Tar Heels' James Worthy, who hadn't scored in the second half, made a characteristic play. From the spread offense he broke back door, took a Jimmy Black pass, made the layup, was fouled and converted the free throw to give Carolina a 50-46 lead. Ultimately Worthy and Sam Perkins combined for 32 points and 14 rebounds, enabling Smith to say jokingly, "That back door play is on page 42 of the basketball book,"
If Campanelli missed that, he hasn't overlooked much else during the six years James Madison has been in Division I. "The Number 1 team couldn't break us," he said tearfully. "The whole country can take their hats off to our Dukes."
In Logan, Utah, Georgetown's freshman Center Pat Ewing didn't doff his hat or his shirt. Because of a recurring cold, Ewing wears a T shirt underneath his uniform top. Young Bill Russell turns into young Marlon Brando. While the extra layer fends off the chills, Ewing's massive wingspan chills enemy shooters. Whether playing human backstop at the base of Georgetown's ferociously aggressive 1-3-1 trap zone press or lurking in the center of the Hoyas' 3-2 zone, Ewing was the main student/athlete in Georgetown's 51-43 victory over Wyoming.
After the Cowboys and Garnett won a sloppy 61-58 game from Southern Cal, Wyoming seemed primed for the upset. But from the outset the quicker Hoyas attacked all over the floor, Garnett appeared in a daze, and Wyoming didn't score for more than three minutes.
Even after Georgetown's star shooter, Sleepy Floyd, went to the bench with four fouls early in the second half, after the Hoyas' offense wilted and after Wyoming's white tornado, Mike Jackson, struck from afar to reduce the margin to 44-41, still the Georgetown D kept coming. In the final minute Eric Smith, the Hoyas' glue, produced four points, two steals and a clinching home run of a pass for a layup, Ewing catapulted for a rebound of a missed jumper, and the Hoyas had passed their first test.
Virginia also passed. Barely. Give the Cavaliers a D—D for the desire of Othell Wilson, who played on one leg and with one painful thigh bruise, and D for the determination of Ricky Stokes, who drilled the two winning free throws in Virginia's 54-51 escape in Indianapolis from the mechanical clutches of Tennessee. Oh yes, and add another D for Ralph Sampson's defense on Dale Ellis, who shot up the Cavaliers until Sampson shut him down. Jeff Jones suggested the move in the huddle and what it did was disrupt the Tennessee tempo—"He made Dale pull the string," said Vol Coach Don DeVoe—wipe out a 10-point deficit and give control of the game to the Cavs.