There are at least six topflight guards in Bloomington, but the beloved Bailey remains grist for a relentless preseason rumor mill: Is Damon's sore foot serious? Was Knight perturbed that Damon didn't play much off-season basketball, then showed up in Louisville playing softball?
Then, there was this ditty from Knight. "We have some people who don't have a great work ethic," Knight said. "At one time I was a very patient person. My patience well is drying up."
For the major segment of the universe, which didn't realize the existence of such a well, across the state line there is a watering hole called Bravo Pitino, where you can use a long-distance service endorsed by Rick Pitino and—new product flash!—-even find a Ford Explorer in the parking lot with floor mats signed by Rick Pitino. Is this
? Or is it simply tacky?
The Wildcats come sprinting and trey shooting (8.6 per game in '90-91) out of the NCAA slammer with nearly everyone back, including the 6'8" Monster Mash, Jamal Mashburn. While Coach Pitino's up-tempo style has already forged terrific role players out of forwards John Pelphrey and Deron Feldhaus, an advance to the next level may depend on whether Missouri transfer guard Travis Ford, a hotdog shooter, can channel his energies toward team goals. Still, aside from Mashburn, there is sparse rebounding; Kentucky's front line could be composed of Jamal, Gimel (Martinez) and Aminu (Timberlake). Roll over, Adolph Rupp.
And tell Phog Allen the news.
Namely that a slender fellow named Adonis Jordan turned out to be the most dazzling floor leader in the Big Eight as
almost won the national championship last season. Coach Roy Williams was an unknown assistant at North Carolina in 1988 when he inherited an NCAA investigation and probation at Lawrence. Fielding hardworking noncelebrities over three seasons, he has merely won 19, 30 (13 weeks at No. 1 or 2) and 27 (NCAA runner-up) games, respectively.
Now Williams, the down-home charmer, can walk in the front door at the home of any recruit in America; four of KU's seven newest signees were named player of the year in their home states. Another is deadeye Rex Walters, a transfer from Northwestern. Forwards Alonzo Jamison and Richard Scott looked like future stars last season, but the Jayhawks need 6'8" freshman Ben Davis and his tight-end physique to make an immediate impact if the motion passing offense is to do more than just look fashionable.
Speaking of which, it has been the fashion at
to win at least 20 games (21 straight seasons), qualify for the NCAA tournament (17 straight) and reach the Sweet 16 (11 straight). But this year the Tar Heels may drop off that particular cliff essentially because Cliff dropped off them. "I guess we lost our next [James] Worthy," coach Dean Smith joked sarcastically when 6'10" Cliff Rozier transferred to Louisville after a roller-coaster rookie season. But now wiry swingman George Lynch must stay inside to help 7-foot sophomore Eric Montross, rather than move to his preferred wing position.
The Heels' best-case scenario reads: Montross is another Brad Daugherty-type low-post, turnaround scoring machine; forward Brian Reese is the team's best athlete since that Jordan dude walked on air; Derrick Phelps's knee will hold up at point guard; and senior guard Hubert Davis, the ACC's best from trifecta land (.489 last season), will score more threes than he defensively surrenders twos. That's a lot of maybes for the ultimate substitution coach. But things could be worse. Smith could start getting technicals for wandering out of the coach's box.
The depths to which
will go to stock its early-season tournament dishonoring the name of the late, great Joe Lap-chick know no boundary. This year's lap chickens are UNC Wilmington, St. Mary's and Drexel, and thank goodness for the Big East season so we can see just how good the Redmen's silent stylist, 6'7" swingman Malik Sealy, really can be. The son of a Golden Gloves boxer who once was a bodyguard for Malcolm X, Sealy is like "a prime minister in a pin-striped suit," says St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca. "You wouldn't mind being on the operating table with him working."