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Jumping teams isn't the only grown-up game high school kids are playing. As if the Indiana state basketball tournament weren't grand enough, this year's championship, in Indianapolis's 60,000-seat Hoosier Dome (the former site, 16,500-seat Market Square Arena, home of the Pacers, was abandoned in 1990 as too small), will for the first time feature NBA-style three-point and slam-dunk contests.
And 10 members of the Roscoe ( N.Y.) High team have been suspended from the team for the season for betting on their own games. The amounts wagered were only $1, and the players said they bet because they were bored with their losing season; the Blue Devils were 0-13 at the time of the suspensions and 0-17 as of Sunday. Still, such bets are against the law in New York, and it should be noted that some of the kids bet on their team to lose.
Oh, yes, the first thing the Roscoe students did when they were suspended was hire a lawyer. Very grown-up.
College basketball coaches are crying foul over the dismissals of three of their own: California's Lou Campanelli, Army's Tom Miller and Utah State's Kohn Smith (who will finish out the season). Campanelli's firing was described as "appalling" by Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins, "a shock" by North Carolina's Dean Smith and "unprecedented, unwarranted and, most especially, unjust" by UNLV's Rollie Massimino. Regrets have also been voiced on behalf of Miller and Smith.
Who scripts this stuff, anyway? Noting that Cal was a disappointing 10-7 under Campanelli and that Army and Utah State were sub-.500, many coaches contended that the firings reflected a win-at-all-cost mentality on the part of the schools. But poor play wasn't the three coaches' only sin, though you wouldn't know that to hear Indiana's Bobby Knight, who said they were fired "without any good reason."
O.K., how about these reasons? West Point brass said that Miller had "publicly degraded" his players; his practice of yelling in their faces was said to be "totally inappropriate." Smith is a poor communicator who has yelled at his players and knocked them in public. Campanelli blamed his players, not himself, for defeats. After a road loss in December, he didn't accompany the team back to the hotel. This month he turned over a table during a team dinner, after which 10 players went to school officials to complain, in effect, that a coach who demanded discipline couldn't control himself. The complainants did not include star freshman Jason Kidd, who nevertheless made his feelings known after Campanelli's departure when he said, "We're a family again."
Inevitably, some coaches reacted to the firings by objecting that the lunatics were running the asylum. But should coaches like Campanelli, Miller and Smith be in charge? When a coach complains, as Campanelli often did, that his players don't listen to him, it may mean that he's not much of an educator. As Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said, a college basketball team "is not the coach's team. It's the university's team. It belongs to the players as much as it does to anyone."
Schools do overemphasize winning, of course. But for a truer indication of this, check out the coaches who aren't fired. Does anybody think that Indiana would have put up with Knight's boorish behavior for 22 years if he weren't a winner? Untroubled by such questions, the college basketball coaches' association a few years ago set up a fund providing as much as $2,000 to any dismissed coach for counseling, career guidance and rehabilitation. No such fund has been established for players who are degraded by coaches.
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