When Olson talks of Pacific 10 foes, don't necessarily take him at his word

March 08, 1992|By Skip Myslenski | Skip Myslenski,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- With the last weekend of the regular season here (Big Ten and Pacific 10 excepted), and with the serious business of tournament play about to descend, here's our fourth annual traipse through cluttered notebooks, and a look at some notes, quotes and anecdotes locked up there until now. . . .

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Geography lesson: Arizona coach Lute Olson was fretting about his team's upcoming games at Stanford and Cal, going on about how tough it was to play there and how trips there made one to Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium seem like a walk in the park. Southern Cal's George Raveling came onto this conference call next, and soon he was saying, "That Lute. I don't know what park he's talking about. Unless it's Central Park."

Whistle while you work: Indiana's Eric Anderson has spent much his career screening, yet he hardly grumbled when asked about that most unglamorous job. "I love setting a good screen," he said, with a smile. "To blindside someone, boom! To knock him on his butt, there's nothing better."

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nTC Momma knows best: Duke guard Grant Hill has collected numerous plaques and trophies during his career, as did his dad, former NFL running back Calvin. They are all displayed in a single room in the Hill home, a room Mrs. Hill has christened with a distinctive name: "The Room of Egos."

"She's right, too," admitted her son. "When we're not feeling too good, we [father and son] go in there. When we walk out, we're feeling a lot better."

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No 10, but good enough: Eric Montross, the North Carolina center, is now a productive part of the Tar Heels, but earlier this season he struggled -- with himself, as much as anything. "With [Pete] Chilcutt gone," explained Tar Heels coach Dean Smith, "he thought he'd step right in and help. But he wants it to happen overnight. He wants to get every rebound, make every shot. But trying to be perfect is a rough life. Excellence is a better pursuit."

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Approach with caution: Dick Bennett's name is being tossed about as a possible successor to Wisconsin's Steve Yoder, but before writing him in as a top candidate, it would be good to reflect on this. "I might be a dismal flop in another setting, where they want high-fliers and end-to-end action," the hugely successful coach of Wisconsin-Green Bay said recently. "My [fundamental] style, my temperament fit this situation. I know who I am, and at this point, I'm where I belong."

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Tough love: Those Missouri fans known as The Antlers call Tigers forward Lamont Frazier "The Junkyard Dog." He looks like that wrestler, they feel. But Mizzou guard Anthony Peeler calls his teammate "Oatmeal" because "he's so thick [around the middle]."

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Smart kid: Defense was not one of Rex Walters' strengths when left Northwestern and enrolled at Kansas, but that is a required skill for any player who hopes to perform for Jayhawks coach Roy Williams. So the guard went to work, improved that part of his game enough to start for the nation's No. 3 team and often credits Williams for his betterment.

"You don't have to say that," Williams told him. "You're the one who's out there doing the drills."

"Yeah," replied Walters. "But you're the one who told me I wouldn't play if I didn't."

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Pitching more than woo: The Seattle Mariners made him a first-round draft choice in June 1989, but he signed to play basketball for Connecticut. The Toronto Blue Jays made him a first-round draft choice in the spring of 1990, and signed him to a contract that permitted him to continue his basketball career at Connecticut.

But then, in the one month of Single-A ball he pitched for them last summer, 6-foot-7 Scott Burrell put up this line: 27 innings, two victories, 0 losses, four no-decisions, 33 strikeouts, 15 hits and an ERA of 2.00.

"They've been pretty patient," Burrell said of the Blue Jays shortly after posting those numbers. "But I pitched pretty good, and I think they may start pushing me [to leave school] next summer."

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Blast from the past: His name is Al LoBalbo, and he is now Carnesecca's assistant. But, more significantly, he is a fount of knowledge countless coaches have drawn from over the years. Bob Knight, under whom he worked at Army, certainly has. (There was a time when Knight would call LoBalbo for advice whenever his defense was in disarray.) So has Mike Krzyzewski ("When we played Duke this year, it was a happening," remembered LoBalbo.) These, too, and it's a partial list: Indiana State's Tates Locke, Texas' Tom Penders, Villanova's Rollie Massimino, the Mavericks' Richie Adubato, the 76ers' Jim Lynam, even former University of Detroit coach Dick Vitale (yeah, he was once a coach.)

LoBalbo, in fact, goes back to those days when coaches drove together to clinics, and shared ideas continually.

"Whenever you could get two, three guys into a car," he remembered, "you'd go to a clinic. Then you'd have your own clinic as you drove. Then you'd have another clinic when you stopped for the night. Every night was a beer bust. A lot of action took place at those bars with salt-and-pepper shakers. But I'm afraid those days are gone now."

Soon to be a first: Entering this season, no current Southwest Conference coach had won a SWC basketball title.

And finally, this hair-raising experience: The cassette rested there on the desk of Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote, entitled "Taking Control of Your Hair Loss/Men's Struggle With Nature."

"It's for [Purdue coach Gene] Keady! I just haven't had time to send it to him yet!" Heathcote claimed.

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