Delay was right sanction play for UNLV to run

Milton Kent

March 27, 1991|By Milton Kent

And so, the college basketball season comes to a merciful end in Indianapolis this coming Monday.

But before the finale, here are a few random observations:

* There's been a lot of weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth over the NCAA's decision to delay Nevada-Las Vegas' sanction to next year, allowing the Runnin' Rebels to play in this year's tournament.

You won't hear any of that in this corner, for the far bigger crime would have been to penalize this current team for violations that occurred when the players were in elementary school.

Yes, the argument can be made that the UNLV administration dragged the proceedings out by appealing. But has anyone (particularly at Kansas and Maryland, two schools given the shaft by the NCAA) noticed that the boys in Shawnee Mission, Kan., have seemingly missed the notion of due process to schools that are "charged" with crimes?

It should come as no surprise that state legislatures across the country are considering action to protect their state schools from the heavy-handedness of the NCAA's judge, jury and prosecutor set-up.

So, let's see Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon make their bid for immortality, and if there were any true justice, NCAA enforcement chief David Berst would have to hand the championship trophy to Jerry Tarkanian.

* Three words to CBS: Mike Francesa. Why?

* Best moments of the tournament: A tie. One was the raucous celebration touched off when giant-killer Richmond slew the biggest lummoxes in the field, Syracuse.

And here's a tip for Orange coach Jim Boeheim, if he sticks around long enough to heed it: Next year, before the inevitable collapse, how about putting your team through some sort of workout on the night before the game rather than tossing a couple of balls out and calling a halt to the proceedings 15 minutes early.

The other moment to remember was North Carolina's King Rice running the Meadowlands Arena floor in triumph looking for coach Dean Smith to hug after the Tar Heels' win over Temple to reach the Final Four.

Rice certainly has had his detractors over his four years, including this critic, but it was nice to see a kid who had troubles off and on the court rise above it all for once.

* Worst moment of the tournament: Any that involved Indiana's Bobby Knight, except for the shots of him walking off the floor in defeat.

* Is it just us or has this year's tourney been devoid of excitement? Save for the Richmond-Syracuse, Temple-Oklahoma State, Temple-North Carolina, Michigan State-Wisconsin Green Bay and Michigan State-Utah contests -- that's five games out of 60 -- the whole proceeding has been a big yawner. What is this, the NFL?

* One more reason to hate the NCAA: In these days of ecological awareness, does it really make sense to build a special floor for the Final Four, to be used for only three games, and then discard it to the highest bidder, an Iowa company that will sell 25,000 5x6 1/2 -inch segments as souvenirs? Talk about not seeing the forest or the trees.

* Still another reason to hate the NCAA: While it is nice that the august regulators got CBS to carry the national semifinals of the women's Final Four for the first time, did they really have to make them play both semifinals on Saturday and the title game on Sunday? No other NCAA Final Four operates without an off day.

* Best bands: Arizona State and Kansas. Any collection of brass that can call up obscure Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire tunes are winners in this book.

The best national anthem award goes to Arkansas, which lines two trumpeters at either foul line to play the first two verses, before the rest of the band joins in.

* HAVEN'T I SEEN YOU BEFORE? There will be another reunion of coach and pupil at the Final Four this weekend, apart from the more publicized matchup of Carolina's Smith and Kansas' Roy Williams.

Virginia women's coach Debbie Ryan will glance down the sideline during the first semifinal Saturday and see her protege and former assistant Geno Auriemma, whose Connecticut team is making its first trip to the Final Four.

The other matchup in New Orleans pits Tennessee, a two-time national champion, against Stanford, the defending titlist.

The picks are Virginia to beat UConn and Tennessee over vTC Stanford. And the new national champion: Tennessee.

* THE LAST GO-ROUND: These picks for the men's Final Four will be explored in greater detail in Friday's editions, but off the top of our head, make it a UNLV-Kansas final for Monday.

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