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The Sweet 16
Curry Kirkpatrick
November 25, 1991
With no titan like UNLV looming over all, this season should culminate in as wide-open an NCAA tournament as college basketball has ever produced. But can the likes of LSU, Seton Hall, UCLA or even upstart Oklahoma State bedevil defending champion Duke and wrest away the crown?
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November 25, 1991

The Sweet 16

With no titan like UNLV looming over all, this season should culminate in as wide-open an NCAA tournament as college basketball has ever produced. But can the likes of LSU, Seton Hall, UCLA or even upstart Oklahoma State bedevil defending champion Duke and wrest away the crown?

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Right, Louie. Have another sweater. Carnesecca's crews tend to sneak up on teams outside the league, probably because they're so tedious and mechanical. But in Jason Buchanan and Chucky Sproling, St. John's has a veteran backcourt to get the ball to Sealy, to 6'11" Robert Werdann, to 6'10" Shawnelle Scott, and to a pair of talented newcomers, 6'9" juco transfer Mitchell Foster and 6'6" transfer Lamont Middleton, a big-time scorer at Hartford. Sealy needs 729 points to break Chris Mullins's school record; if he gets that many, St. John's should be in the Final Four and Sealy should have been among our....

One-Man-Gang Sleepers

Something called the Great Midwest Conference or GMC (not to be confused with the Pitino model Ford) will open its first season in Memphis at the new Great American Pyramid and close with a league tournament in ancient Chicago Stadium. In between, if DePaul can hold off Memphis State's acclaimed rookie, Anfernee Hardaway, and get one more brilliant year from its own acclaimed star, 6'7" senior David Booth, the Blue Demons should earn an NCAA bid, after which the sky's the limit. It has been 50 years since anybody but a Meyer coached the team; finally Coach Joey has gathered enough sparks around the dynamite Booth to challenge the Mark Aguirre-Terry Cummings teams of his father, radio color man and coach for life, Ray.

It's not only that the cocky, unorthodox scorer, Booth, is on track to join Aguirre as DePaul's only 2,000-point producers, or that senior Stephen Howard has found comfort at power forward. The usually comatose Joey Meyer is actually excited about newcomers such as 6'5" Tom Kleinschmidt and watch-charm guards Howard Nathan and Brandon Cole. "I think they'll be as good as any guards we've had at DePaul," says Meyer.

A pass into paradise is what Florida State coach Pat Kennedy sounds as if he got when he describes his team's entrance this season into the ACC. "Most guys work an entire lifetime for a job in this league," says the 39-year-old Kennedy. "I woke up one morning—boom, my life changed." Boom-boom is how Kennedy's prize pupil, 6'9" Douglas Edwards, should explode onto his new surroundings. The Seminoles were 5-5 last year when Edwards was switched from power forward to a more all-court role in which he could lead the break, spin 'n' swirl to the bucket and—in other words—virtually dominate games. They then went 12-5 for the rest of the regular season.

Ask Knight how scary the Seminoles seemed for 20 minutes against Indiana in the NCAA tournament before the Hoosiers prevailed 82-60. With the experience of a full ACC campaign, Florida State won't fold this time in the postseason, especially if guard Sam Cassell, the best juco backcourt player in the land at point guard last season, reproduces his skills now that he's in the big leagues. Rodney Dobard and Andre Reid up front and the exciting wing leaper Chuck Graham are athletes in the mold of the school's football squad, on which 6'1" (point) guard Charlie Ward remains a backup quarterback.

If you can weave through all the Suttons at Oklahoma State —Eddie, the coach; Patsy, the wife, mother and erstwhile academic aide; Sean, the son and point guard; and now Scott, another son and a redshirt who transferred from Transylvania College—you'll finally arrive at the man whom opponents envision as being from the real Transylvania, the scariest man on campus, the vampire forward himself, Byron Houston. While playing approximately four inches taller than his 6'7" listed height, the muscular Lord Byron became a kind of Cowboy version of Charles Barkley while throwing elbows, banging bodies, eating rims and acquiring a rep as a dirty player.

In veterans Sutton, Darwyn Alexander and defensive specialist Corey (the Terminator) Williams, the Cowboys have as ornery a backcourt as there is in the Big Eight, but since most of the up-front reinforcements are on the thin side, Houston may have to play a bit at center. Even there, the league's most prolific scorer and rebounder is also an intimidating defensive stopper. "If Houston doesn't stay healthy," says Sutton the oldest, "I'm going on sabbatical."

Nouveaux Riches

Well, it has happened before. Pre-Oklahoma State, Sutton took a break following some stormy years at Kentucky. But pre-Kentucky, Sutton coached Arkansas onto the basketball map, from which the Razorbacks are likely to fall unless they hurry up and get seven players—count 'em—off one or another suspension. Over the past two seasons, teams in the SEC, the new league into which Arkansas has plopped its swift pig's feet, have lost five of eight first-round games in the NCAAs. The Hogs themselves flamed out last season one game short of their appointed repeat in the Final Four.

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