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Question: What's your schedule during the holidays?
Sutton: The coaching staff will be very happy to get two or three days off. We'll still go to the office everyday but we'll be getting away from basketball. We've had some very emotional situations, as far as the games are concerned—Indiana, Louisville and the two in this tournament. . .We'll (players) come back Wednesday night. Thursday we'll prac-ticee twice, Christmas Day we'll practice twice, Sunday we'll practice twice in preparation for Alaska and Vanderbilt.
Question: What about Richard Madison's performance?
Sutton: Richard played a marvelous basketball game tonight. That's the one thing our ballclub really has going for it. We know that somebody can step forward and put forth a yeoman's performance. Cedric (Jenkins) did it the last two Saturdays and Richard came in today and did it.
Question: Anything your club was or wasn't doing defensively to shut (UNCC) down?
Sutton: Sometimes your defense is good, then still they score on you. I think they just had a great hot hand tonight. You can't do too much about those shots when they're shot from 22 or 23 feet and the guy (defender) is right on top of him. I was very pleased with the basketball team with the way they kept their poise, because a lot of ballclubs could have folded. There were two or three times they could have. Just before the half they (UNCC) got down seven points and fought back and got up by three. In the second half we got up two or three times and they got up two or three times. But we kept our poise and kept battling. That's the thing I always impresses me, when the players go out and play hard. I thought both teams played hard tonight. Neither coach could ask for any more effort than they saw on the court.
Question: What did you think about the two calls under UNCC's basket—first an apparent foul on UNCC that was called a held ball, the second an apparent UK foul that was rule a traveling violation—in the final seconds?
Sutton: They could have been called either way. Really, they could have been called either way.
Question: Did you think the team played better or worse than it did against Miami?
Sutton: I thought we played a lot better (against UNCC). That's a heckuva basketball team if they play like that every night. Believe me. That team is one of the Top 25 teams in the country if they play like that; they can play with anyone.
Question: Was your team more conscious about controlling the boards after the intermission break?
Sutton: We were dropping two people when we shot the ball. We did make them aware of that. Very seldom do you get 24 offensive rebounds. I'm not sure if I've ever had a team get 24 offensive rebounds.
Question: You had a meeting with Richard Madison prior to the game. How much did this help him?
Sutton: Many times you can find the magic key to turn a player on. That is done, not so much on the court, but perhaps in the office or in a dorm room or somewhere like that. Richard's uncle was here from Memphis and he also was present (meeting). Our staff was present. We judge everything in what you do in practice, that's how you get playing time. He really hadn't played that well in practice. One thing you have to take in consideration is that he's really been out a lot of days with an injury or illness. I told him that I certainly was going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I told him to go out there and play with reckless abandon and go out there and play
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Sportswriters, Too, Can Change Opinions
I Wimp Says He'd Love To Meet Norby Walters!
A couple of teams have moved from my suspect list in the early going. Pittsburgh came into the year with question marks littering its backcourt, but coach Paul Evans has been getting outstanding play from freshmen Jason Mathews and Sean Miller. In com-
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bination with the front line of Charles Smith. Rod Brooking and Jerome Lane, it is a solid team, one capable of playing intelligently and winning on the road. A key will be to watch the playing time of senior Demetreus Gore. As his pine time increases the Panthers will get better and better.
Oklahoma had more new players than an expansion franchise and many, including me, wondered if Billy Tubbs would be able to fit all the pieces in December. He has and the talent's plentiful. Center Stacey King has a great touch around the basket (a la Bob Lanier) and will be regarded among the college game's best big men before it is finished. It's still early, but this Sooners' edition may rival any which Tubbs has fielded in Norman.
Well, Jim Dutcher's been gone from Minnesota for nearly two years now and the NCAA is still investigating his basketball program. At this rate grandchildren of current Gopher players may be asked to serve penalties for any misdeeds which are uncovered. My advice to the Boys of Shawnee Mission: Either find something quickly or wrap this one up. The statute of limitations has about run out.
Big Ten basketball tournament? Bah, humbug. . .
The eligibility of Hernon Mentenegro transforms LSU from an SEC also-ran to an NCAA championship contender, I'm told. . .Having Rod Strickland back also helps DePauI's cause considerably. . Just because North Carolina State's Jim Valvano is telling everyone his Wolfpack will be a rip-and-run outfit this year, don't get overly concerned. History tells us that by tournament time the Pack will be right back to their halfcourt, play at a crawl style with Valvano masterfully pulling the strings.
This from Wyoming's Benny Dees: "An old Cowboy told me the other day the only way we can have a successful season is if we win more games than we play."
In case you were wondering, Alabama's Wimp Sanderson has never met player agent Norby Walters, the man who helped whisk away Derrick McKey, but says he'd like to. "Just me and him in a room by ourselves," said Wimp. "One of us wouldn't come out."
If the probation stands at Cleveland State, the program is virtually wiped out and the coaching career of Kevin Mackey is virtually ruined. A dark December for the Vikings.
UCLA's terrible start has furnished critics of coach Walt Haz-zard with more ammunition. Unless things get better quickly for the Bruins, the possibility of this job opening again will increase week by week.
Remember South Carolina's win over Alabama. Several years down the road when George Felton has returned the Gamecocks to their days of glory, that triumph might be recalled as a turning point. . .Is it my imagination or are there an unusually high number of slow-footed freshman guards playing in major college basketball this year who wouldn't have had much chance before the three-point line came into being?
How powerful is the Big East? Pitt coach Paul Evans tells me it is easier for him to recruit in California than it is in the East: "A lot of high school coaches practice from 2-to-4 so their kids can get home in time to see the Big East game which starts at 4:30 or 4 o'clock their time."
One of the most interesting stories in college basketball is being written in Philadelphia. Starting the day it won the NCAA tournament in 1985, Villanova's program has gone straight downhill, while crosstown rival Temple has soared. That's not how it is supposed to happen. . .Mentioning the Atlantic 10, Rhode Island is going to emerge as one of the better teams in the East, and under second-year coach Tom Fenders, the Rams have a shot at making the ¦ NCAA.
Clemson and Georgetown get criticized for soft December schedules, but I think you'd have to travel far to any cushier card than that of Michigan. Fluffy soft.
Recruiting expert Van Coleman rates the top fall classes in this order: 1) Syracuse; 2) Kentucky; 3) Notre Dame; 4) Nevada-Las Vegas: 5) St. John's; 6) Georgetown; 7) Michigan State; 8) Florida;
9) Ohio State; 10) Louisville. . .Does this poll suggest any great redistribution of the wealth to you?
Virginia Tech's quick start, which included a win over Georgetown, made it likely that interim coach Frankie Allen would be given a multi-year contract perhaps even before the season ends. . .1 know this sounds ridiculous, but have you stopped to consider the possibility that the Big Eight may have more quality teams than the ACC? Just the fact it's an arguable point is amazing.
Insiders tell me Andy Russo is in trouble at Washington. For
some reason Russo has never been terribly popular in Seattle and with a long season looming, he may be gone next spring. . .Arizona's win over Iowa was the perfect homecoming for coach Lute Olson who said, "I tried to downplay it, but I didn't fool my guys. I think they knew it was a pretty big game for the old coach."
The advent of television has really killed off meaningful holiday tournaments. The only time the heavyweights will get together now is when dollars and network cameras are involved. Not long ago. these holiday gatherings offered some of the best matchups of the year. . .The NIT was getting some heat for "scheduling" Seton Hall into the Final Four. Seton Hall is coached by P.J. Cariesimo. whose father happens to be the retiring chairman of the tourna-
Pressure On Keady, Purdue? You Bet!
ment. . .Despite its struggles and constant juggling of format, the preseason NIT remains the strongest of these events because a team can have a home game or two which doesn't count against its allotment of 28. But in order for the NIT to be fully creditable, there must be a more obvious pairings procedure, one which makes it clear what will happen well in advance of the tournament.
Come NCAA time will any team be more under pressure to deliver than Purdue? The Boilermakers have flirted with greatness during the last three years, but have always come up short. The fact they lost at home to Iowa State in the preseason NIT probably doesn't offer much encouragement. . .Sorry, but I never believed for one minute that Missouri was as good as everyone would have us believe. But, then, I suppose Norm Stewart could say the same of my choice of UCLA as a top five team. . .