SMU's resurgence came just in time for coach John Shumate, who is in the last year of a five-year contract and has had four straight losing seasons. After the Mustangs beat Houston in January, Shumate ran into the stands and hugged SMU athletic director Forrest Gregg. "He supported me," said Shumate. "When the pressure was on him, he stuck by his guns. I thanked him."
Rice hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1970, but the Owls may well make it this year, thanks largely to guard Marvin Moore, center Brent Scott and first-year coach Willis Wilson, a former Rice player. Part of Wilson's secret has been motivation. Says guard David Holmes, "Coach told us if we wanted to show we were a legitimate team, we would have to kick butt and take names."
Rice kicking butt and taking names? Times have changed.
Not even his old coach, the potbellied guy with the red sweater down the road in Bloomington, could have turned Manchester ( Ind.) College around faster than former Indiana star Steve Alford has. He took over eight games into last season, when Manchester was on its way to a 4-24 finish, and this season he has coached the Spartans to a 20-7 record and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Alford, 28, has done it with a coaching philosophy borrowed from his father, Sam, one of the leading high school coaches in Indiana, and from John MacLeod, who coached Alford when he was with the Dallas Mavericks. But Alford doesn't have to throw a chair to make it plain that his approach to the game has also been heavily influenced by his coach at Indiana, Bob Knight. Manchester runs Knight's trademark motion offense, and like the Hoosiers, the Spartans believe the zone defense to be an instrument of the devil. Knight was so proud of his pupil that he sent him a letter of congratulations early this season, and it's posted in the Manchester locker room.
The Spartans' success has made the Alford name even more revered in Indiana. Nearly six years after he helped lead the Hoosiers to their most recent national championship, Alford still receives about 20 pieces of fan mail a week—autograph requests, speaking invitations, requests for his instructional videotape. The average crowd at a Manchester home game has climbed from 200 last season to 1,700. But Alford's presence has also made Manchester a target. "When I played at Indiana, a lot of people would come to the games to see their team beat Indiana, and some would come to see their team beat Bob Knight," says Alford. "A lot of kids who are playing college basketball in this state today grew up watching me play at Indiana. I'm sure they get pumped up trying to beat me."
They will be hard-pressed to succeed. Alford hopes to build a program that is to Division III what Indiana is to Division I. He's so focused on that goal that he doesn't think much about his unspectacular four-year NBA career. Says Alford, "I get all the NBA I need from ESPN."
Northwestern's 62-59 victory over No. 17 Purdue last Saturday meant a lot to Wildcat coach Bill Foster. Not only did the win end Northwestern's 60-game losing streak on the road in the Big Ten, but it also came against a team that has haunted Foster through the years. Consider: