Those 11-year championship bookends have stopped them all

Notebook

December 20, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN REPORTER

Is it coincidence, evidence of how hard it is to remain at the top or a bad omen for Mike Krzyzewski?

Bob Knight needs one more victory to draw even with Dean Smith and his record 879.

The winningest coaches in the history of men's college basketball had 11 seasons between their first and last NCAA titles. So did John Wooden, whose UCLA dynasty crammed 10 titles into an 11-season window.

Adolph Rupp at Kentucky? Ten seasons between his first NCAA championship in 1948, and his fourth in '58.

Ditto for Krzyzewski, who got Duke championships in 1991, 1992 and 2001 but hasn't won a game at the Final Four since.

Indiana won in 1940 and '53 for Branch McCracken, but his first NCAA title came when the National Invitation Tournament meant more and goaltending was allowed.

In the modern era, with early entry to the NBA and scholarship limits creating parity, no man has had the enduring power and kismet to win an NCAA title 12 years after his first.

All that history will resonate in the coming days and make irrelevant the glut of college football bowl games.

No. 6 Duke gets No. 22 Gonzaga tomorrow (ESPN2, 9 p.m.) at Madison Square Garden, where Krzyzewski will add some class to a joint that Isiah Thomas has sullied.

Knight is expected to pass Smith on Dec. 28, when Texas Tech gets UNLV. He can tie him Saturday (4:30 p.m., ESPN2), when the Red Raiders get Bucknell, but that's up against a CBS game (4 p.m., Ch. 13) that is the most compelling of the young season.

Twice-beaten Florida gets No. 3 Ohio State in Gainesville. Can Greg Oden stop the defending NCAA champion Gators, on their floor, with one hand tied behind his back?

Home for holiday

It's hump day for UMES and one of the longest weeks a state team has ever seen.

On Sunday, the Hawks lost by 56 at No. 8 Wichita State, which is good enough to have won at George Mason, LSU, Syracuse and Wyoming. Larry Lessett's UMES team then motored two hours to Kansas State, where last night they played a program being upgraded by first-year coach Bob Huggins.

Those games were part of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic, as the Hawks were to fly to Nevada today. They play Kennesaw State Friday, either Charleston Southern or Longwood on Saturday, then board a red-eye flight that will arrive at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Sunday morning, Christmas Eve.

At the airport, Lessett expects players like Antonio McMillion, his senior forward out of Randallstown, and Ed Tyson, a sophomore guard out of Walbrook, to be greeted by family and friends. They'll have to return to campus for practice Dec. 26, since the Hawks have a game at West Virginia two days later, but where does the brief holiday layoff leave Lessett's three first-year players from Serbia?

At his home in Salisbury, and it won't be the first time for 6-foot-10 sophomore Aleksandar Popovic, freshman forward Milutin Mirjacic and freshman guard Danijel Krleski.

"This is nothing new," Lessett said. "My wife Mimi and I took care of them over the Thanksgiving break."

Summers a starter

DaJuan Summers has fit in well at Georgetown, which gets Towson today (7:30 p.m.) and Navy Saturday (1 p.m.) at Verizon Center.

Maybe the best prospect ever out of McDonogh School, Summers came off the bench in the Hoyas' first three games but has started the past seven. A 6-8, 240-pound forward, Summers has made half of his shots and is averaging 7.1 points.

Coach John Thompson III doesn't mind freshmen. Two seasons ago, his first with the Hoyas, Jeff Green shared Big East Rookie of the Year with Rudy Gay and Roy Hibbert began to develop from a 7-2 project into a guy who now handles 25 minutes a game.

Summers' last game off the bench was Nov. 19, an embarrassing 13-point loss to Old Dominion at McDonough Arena. Think the Hoyas have been reminded that Towson, like ODU, is from the Colonial Athletic Association?

Tap-ins

Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor are candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard, but Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. leads the Big Ten with 6.5 assists per game. ... No. 21 Oregon should be 14-0 when No. 1 UCLA goes to Eugene Jan. 6. ... Saint Louis, coming off a big win over Missouri State, is home against No. 2 North Carolina Friday. It's a homecoming for the Tar Heels' Tyler Hansbrough, who's from Poplar Bluff. ... Mississippi State is unbeaten since making freshman Ben Hansbrough, Tyler's brother, its starting point guard. ... Half of the 10 teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference are winless against Division I competition.

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

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