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COLLEGE BASKETBALL
William F. Reed
February 27, 1989
THE LONG GOODBYE
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February 27, 1989

College Basketball

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FICKLE FINGERS

Virginia's streak-shooting Richard Morgan had to play the second half against Clemson last Saturday with two fingers on his shooting hand taped together, the result of an injury from a first-half collision with the Tigers' Tim Kincaid. Without the tape, Morgan had missed all six of his first-half shots, extending a three-game shooting slump to 13 hoops in 61 shots. With the tape, he rediscovered his stroke early in the second half and scored 15 points as the Cavaliers came from behind for an 85-83 victory.

Since both teams were left with 15-8 overall records, the victory gave the Cavs a momentary edge over Clemson in what might be a dogfight for an NCAA tournament bid. According to Virginia coach Terry Holland and Clemson coach Cliff Ellis, four ACC teams have already locked up spots in the tournament: North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State and Georgia Tech. "That leaves us and Virginia battling for one spot," said Ellis, who also points out that three of the Tigers' four remaining league games will be played at home. Virginia, on the other hand, has three of its four on the road, where the Cavs are only 1-3 in league play.

TWO-WAY PLAYER

San Jose State's Johnny Johnson, who last season became the first football player in NCAA history to rush for more than 1,200 yards and catch at least 60 passes in the same season, is impressing Spartan fans in a new arena. He's the second-leading scorer for the ragamuffin basketball team that coach Bill Berry recruited to replace the 10 players who quit in January to protest what they characterized as Berry's "physical abuse and mental cruelty."

When Berry called the 6'3" junior tailback, who was second only to Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders with 2,202 all-purpose yards, Johnson thought he was joking. After all, he hadn't played basketball since he was a high school senior. But through last week Johnson has averaged 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while hitting 52.7% of his shots. Says Berry, "He has proven that he could play with us even at full strength."

The substitute team—a hodgepodge of two varsity basketball players, two football players, five student walk-ons and the team manager—has gone 0-8, losing by an average of 16 points a game. But Johnson has been impressive at times, most notably with a 23-point, 12-rebound performance in a 95-66 shellacking by Nevada-Las Vegas.

His pro football prospects notwithstanding, Johnson says he would like to play basketball next season if he's healthy. Berry says that's fine with him, assuming that he's still the coach.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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