Guy in stripes steals the show from Big Guys

MIKE LITTWIN

March 31, 1991|By MIKE LITTWIN

INDIANAPOLIS -- You come a thousand miles to the Hoosie Dome, or you just sit down in front of your TV with a beer, and, boy you can't wait because this is the big one and all the greats will be there.

Like Pete Pavia. Yeah, Pavia. P-a-v-i-a.

Come on, folks. You don't know the name? Let me introduce you. He's Terry Cooney in a striped shirt. He's Richard Steele with a whistle.

He's the man who tossed Dean Smith. He sure did. Kicked him right out of the Hoosier Dome. (You had to love Dean's exit, by the way. It looked like Nixon leaving the White House. I kept looking for the helicopter.)

Pavia (yes, one more time, P-a-v-i-a) kicked out El Deano because, well -- I want to put this as gently as possible in case children are reading -- Dean stepped out of the coach's box.

I'm afraid so. He was guilty. It's in the rule book -- rule 10, section 9, right after the one about chewing towels on the sidelines. And Pavia gave Dean the hook with 35 seconds to play and took away any chance the North Carolina kids, who were losing by five, had of pulling a comeback because, well, not because Dean was doing anything that seemed so terrible, but because he was substituting a player during a dead ball and walked Kenny Harris just about all the way to midcourt. My gosh.

We're thankful for men like Pete Pavia. They make this country safe for regular citizens, say those who might have been standing near the coach's box and been run over.

It's not that Smith was completely innocent. No, I'm not going to say that. He was shouting at Pavia, who had slapped him with a technical in the first half, and Dean was losing, and he's a bad loser even when it's to Roy Williams, the Kansas coach who's like a son to him, or maybe now just a nephew.

Here's what Dean said to Pavia: "Pete, how much time do I have?"

Can you say stuff like that? I mean, in America? Well, Dean did say it -- OK, shouted it -- three times. Toss him, sure. Maybe get famous in process. It worked for Cooney. Maybe Pavia can get a shoe contract out of it. I hear Ray Leonard's spot may be open.

Now, there are going to be a lot of people who complain that Pavia's action took something away from the game. These people must not have been watching North Carolina and Kansas play. There was nothing to take away from this game, unless you just like a lot of substitutions (63) and missed shots (84). It was not, let's be kind, basketball at its best. It was a preliminary

anyway, as Dean had said earlier. It was certainly not the main event, the Duke-UNLV game, where you had some great basketball and the revenge motive and the Tark syndrome and a reason to stay in front of your set for as long as it took.

Who could leave? There were truth and justice making their own kind of comeback, Duke knocking off UNLV and making up, in one year, 30 points of bad memories. It was, at the least, your basic upset of the decade (the decade having just started).

It featured at least one more thing, too. There was a moment in the game when UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, asking an official about a call he'd made, walked out of the box. I saw it. And you'll never believe this -- there was no call. No T. No nothing. This is basketball?

Pavia would have hit him like Mike Tyson. You see, Pavia had been building for this one. He was the one who tossed John Thompson out of the Carrier Dome in March 1990, when Thompson left the building blowing kisses to the crowd. He blew one of the two T's (let's call him Mr. T) that got Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun thrown out of the Big East tournament this year. And then he tossed Oklahoma's Billy Tubbs in the first half of the NIT championship game.

Is this man on a roll or what? I just wouldn't want to eat dinner with him. Ask him to pass the salt, and he's tossing you out of the house. I've known bouncers who were more restrained. I've even known LA cops who were.

Here's the deal: Carolina still had an outside chance to win the game, and Pavia decided to take it into his own hands. He didn't even have Cooney's excuse. He didn't have a raving Roger Clemens. He had the legendary Dean Smith, who will whine, given the opportunity, but, hey, he'd been thrown out of two games in 30 years, both against Clemson.

"It was ridiculous," El Deano said, and then he went on to predict that Duke would win. You say the guy doesn't what he's doing?

"I'm inclined to agree with coach Smith," said Roy Williams, who thought Duke had a pretty good chance, too.

They both went to find a place to watch the big game. Hey, what did you want to see -- the Dookies making everything right or Pavia doing everything all wrong?

Technicals on coaches

F:

Coaches drawing technical fouls in Final Four games:

Coach... ... ... ...Team... ... ... ... ... ... ... Year

Dean Smith (2)... ..North Carolina... ... ... ... . 1991

Dale Brown... ... ..LSU... ... ... ... ... ... ... .1981

*Al McGuire (2)... .Marquette... ... ... ... ... . .1974

Bob Knight... ... . Indiana... ... ... ... ... ... .1973

Joe B. Hall... ... .Kentucky... ... ... ... ... .. .1978

* -- championship game

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