With a visit from the Russian National team and a game o Home Team Sports, St. Mary's is going beyond the customary promotion for a Division III basketball team. The product is also coming on. Bob Valvano's Seahawks are becoming more comfortable with his offensive style and have won a couple after an 0-5 start.
Valvano, in his first year as St. Mary's head coach, is maintaining a hectic pace, one which includes a game tomorrow (7:35 p.m.) at UMBC.
On Sunday, he plans to drive to Raleigh, N.C., to visit his brother Jim, the former North Carolina State coach and TV analyst who's battling cancer. Bob was able to learn a few things from his older brother about selling a team and the sport, and he arranged for the Russians to come to St. Mary's for an exhibition Wednesday night. Tuesday included a speaking engagement in Upper Marlboro, the morning after the Seahawks got their second victory.
On Dec. 19, St. Mary's plays Mary Washington at the Capital Centre in a preliminary to Georgetown-Morgan State, and both games will be televised live on HTS.
"I worked out something similar last year," said Valvano, who was coaching Catholic University then. "I took a game with St. Mary's into the Cap Centre, and it was our [Catholic's] only league loss."
Catholic didn't take to Valvano's locker room behavior and fired him, but he fought the action and was reinstated and allowed to resign. He left behind at Catholic a group that set several NCAA Division III records for three-point shooting and is currently unbeaten, and he's incorporating the same philosophy at St. Mary's.
St. Mary's best player, junior forward Chris DeLisi, missed the last game with bronchitis, and his status for UMBC is doubtful. Other veteran starters include junior center Tim Keehan (Calvert Hall) and junior guard Mike Rudolph (Loyola).
Together at last
It's three seasons too late for most fans, but Coppin State and Towson State will meet in basketball tomorrow (7:30 p.m.) at the Towson Center. They're the only state teams to reach the NCAA Division I tournament since 1988, as together in 1990 they became the first Baltimore schools to experience March Madness.
The two last met in 1976, when Coppin State beat Towson State in the final of the Metro Classic. The Eagles were defending NAIA champions and the Tigers were about to embark on a 23-game win streak that would give them the No. 1 ranking in Division II.
Towson State coach Terry Truax and Coppin State's Fang Mitchell are ironing out a return date at Coppin State next season, but have no plans beyond that. With Towson State and UMBC up to 18 conference games in the Big South next season, their non-conference openings are dwindling.
Devin Boyd's 364 career assists are just two behind Towson State's record, which was set by by Bill Leonard from 1983-87. Craig Valentine, one of Boyd's backups, will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Dec. 16, but he could return by mid-January.
Rare skid for Hopkins
The top basketball game in town this weekend might be the one tonight (8 p.m.) at the Newton White Center, where Johns Hopkins plays Rochester. The visitors went to the NCAA Division III championship game last year.
Hopkins won its first 11 games last season en route to its third straight trip to the NCAAs, but the schedule has been tougher this December.
On Sunday the Blue Jays lost at Carnegie-Mellon, and on Tuesday they fell to Franklin & Marshall in a defensive struggle. Both teams' leading scorers were shut out: Hopkins' Luke Busby, who came in averaging 18.8 points, got in early foul trouble, and F&M's Jeremiah Henry was 0-for-8 from the field.