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Two of those players are 6'4" leaper Calvin Talford, the Bucs' leading scorer, and 6'11" center Greg Dennis, who missed last season with a broken foot. Talford had 21 points and Dennis 19 against Southern Mississippi. The victory was the Bucs' 32nd in a row at home.
But it is Niblett who has made sure East Tennessee State doesn't miss Jennings's playmaking capabilities too badly. The only thing he lacks is a nickname, probably because his teammates don't make an issue of his size. "If you take care of your responsibilities and get guys the ball," says Niblett, "suddenly they don't care about your height anymore."
Vote Yes on 81
Alexander Wolff reports from Anchorage on the Great Alaska Shootout.
Tournament fields at the Great Alaska Shootout don't dazzle the way they used to. Two years ago the NCAA passed a rule that goes into effect on Aug. 1, 1992, limiting schools to one of the following every four years: 1) a trip outside the continental U.S.; 2) a berth in the Tip-Off Classic; 3) a spot in the preseason NIT. For coaches obsessed with recruiting and exposure, it's a no-brainer. Given a choice between Hawaii and Alaska, they'll go for leis over mukluks almost every time. Or, if they choose to stay in the Lower 48 and are asked to pick among the Tip-Off in Springfield, Mass., home of the Basketball Hall of Fame; the NIT, which ends in Madison Square Garden; or a trip to Anchorage, they'll quickly rule out the city that's shrouded in darkness for 18 hours on Thanksgiving Day. Thus the Shootout, which ended on Dec. 2, has evolved into a convocation of midmajor teams. This season's field—Coastal Carolina, Idaho, Santa Clara, Eastern Michigan, Oregon State, Massachusetts, New Orleans and Division II host Alaska-Anchorage—was typical. The names on the marquee have gone "from North Carolina [in 1985] to South Carolina [last season] to Coastal Carolina," wrote Anchorage Times columnist Mike Taylor.
The 14-year-old Shootout now faces another NCAA hurdle, one that could force it to move to Christmastime and perhaps scale back to four teams. New legislation, pushed through by the reform-minded NCAA Presidents Commission, will henceforth delay the start of the season until Dec. 1. Alaska-Anchorage has succeeded in getting a proposal on the agenda at next month's NCAA convention that would exempt teams that participate in the Shootout. The school's administrators, who are lobbying hard for the measure, note that the Shootout occurs over a holiday weekend, thus minimizing missed class time, and that it provides a chance to visit perhaps the most naturally spectacular and culturally diverse state in the union. "It isn't something that's at variance with what the reform movement is trying to do," says Alaska-Anchorage chancellor Donald Behrend. "Besides, to people here the Shootout is a tradition. Fourteen years is a long time in modern Alaska."
Last week, while U Mass was winning the tournament on the court, Alaskans slopped at the HELP SAVE THE SHOOTOUT booth at one end of Sullivan Arena to write the presidents of their alma maters in the Lower 48, urging them to vote yes on Proposition 81. At week's end they had sent letters to about 160 of the 298 Division I colleges. We hope their letters are read and heeded.
Playing against crosstown Tallahassee neighbor Florida State for the first time since 1982, Florida A&M had to forfeit the game with 1:19 left in the first half after all but three of its players were ejected for fighting. For their part, the Seminoles will have to make their ACC debut on Sunday against North Carolina without leading scorer Douglas Edwards and perhaps without starting point guard Sam Cassell, who also were ejected for taking part in the brawl. Under NCAA rules, a mandatory one-game suspension accompanies any ejection for fighting, but Florida State has filed an appeal with the NCAA to reinstate Cassell....
Hard times have hit New Mexico now that center Luc Longley has moved on to the NBA. The Lobos, who were 2-4 at week's end, lost 81-76 at home to Eastern New Mexico, a Division II school playing its fifth game in five days. Guard Jeff Cooper led the Greyhounds with 23 points....