Western teams may not need playoff 'gift'

The Inside Stuff

April 30, 1992|By Bill Tanton

People are beginning to change their minds about giving an automatic berth to a Western school in the 12-team NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament.

Some have been saying it's silly to invite a team with no chance (and to leave out a school that might have one) only to have the westerners annihilated in the first round.

Last year Michigan State, in the name of spreading the sport, was granted the privilege of coming to the Carrier Dome to lose, 28-7, to Syracuse. It was the most lopsided game in tournament history.

But, hey, look what's happening in the Midwest. Teams out there are starting to beat some eastern schools. Notre Dame beat Hofstra this year. Michigan State beat Rutgers.

The Irish and Michigan State will meet at South Bend tomorrow night with the winner likely to be the No. 12 seed when the NCAA field is announced Sunday night.

Notre Dame's coach is 33-year old Kevin Corrigan, son of Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Gene Corrigan (and a former athletic director at South Bend). Let Kevin tell you what the NCAA bid means out his way:

"If there were no automatic bid for a western team, I don't think Notre Dame would even sponsor a lacrosse team. Remember, we just dropped wrestling.

"As it is, lacrosse is growing in the Midwest. Butler is coming in next year with a full allotment of scholarships (14).

"There's no doubt in my mind that the NCAA bid has been an inducement for schools out here to get serious about lacrosse. The NCAA does some crazy things. In this case, they did something to help a sport.

"We had all our losses [the Irish are 10-3] in March [to Villanova, UMBC and Georgetown]. I think we can play with any team in the country, and we'd welcome the chance to prove it."

The Irish, who have only six players from the Midwest, may get that chance next week.

"You look at the polls," says Corrigan, "and the number 4, 5, 6 and 7 teams are all from the Baltimore area. We'd love to play one of them back there."

The potential tourney matchup that intrigues lacrosse fans is Johns Hopkins- Loyola. The schools haven't met in the regular season since 1969, although they will resume their rivalry next year. Three weeks into this season, they were 1-2 in the polls (Hopkins No. 1).

If the NCAA lacrosse committee, chaired by Georgetown coach Dave Urick, follows this week's polls, Loyola (No. 5) would play the western representative May 9. Hopkins (now No. 4) would play the Loyola-western winner May 16.

* The Terrapin Club, the booster organization at the University of Maryland, took on a familiar figure as its new president last Saturday. He's former Governor Marvin Mandel.

Says former Terrapin Club president Art Kramer: "Marvin is going to be great for us. He's already helped us a lot with the improvements that are being made at College Park."

* Before everybody concedes the 118th Kentucky Derby to favorite Arazi, remember this:

No favorite has won the Derby since Marylanders Harry and Tom Meyerhoff won with Spectacular Bid in 1979. Only two of the last 12 Derby favorites even finished in the money.

Personally, I hope Arazi wins. The colt has the potential to become a Triple Crown champion. No one has won that since Affirmed in 1978. The sagging racing industry could use the boost it would get from a superstar.

* You have to admire the Oriole Avocates, the unsung group of 75 men and women who have pitched in to help the Orioles with various promotions since 1960.

This Saturday night Advocate volunteers will be on duty at the ball game at Camden Yards for what president Tom Hessenauer calls a reverse giveaway.

"Usually," says Hessenauer, "we're there giving away caps or jackets or whatever. This time we'll be receiving old bats and gloves from the fans for distribution to poor kids in the Dominican Republic and here in Baltimore.

"It all started with a series in The Sun by John Eisenberg. He wrote about Dominican kids so poor they have to use cardboard for gloves. I hope John wins a prize for that. We have no idea how much we're going to collect, but there's been a tremendous response already from Rec Councils and Little Leagues."

* One of the classiest affairs held anywhere, the McCormick Unsung Heroes Award banquet, will be staged for the 52nd time tomorrow night at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.

The guest speaker will be Mary Lou Retton, gold medal winner in the '84 Olympics. You don't have to ask whether Ms. Retton is a good speaker. These McCormick people are very thorough. Jack Felton and Mac Barrett scouted Mary Lou at another speaking engagement. Says Barrett: "She's terrific."

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