Trying for some order on the court


With the end of the calendar year, let's shoot around the landscape as well as make some wishes for 1994.

* Fool me once . . .: There is likely no shortage of sheepish faces around the Utah men's basketball team after it dropped a 93-91 game in double overtime to Texas on Wednesday night. Utah allowed the Longhorns to force an overtime and then win the game by using the same play.

Texas' Tommy Penders, son of coach Tom Penders, threw a three-quarter-court-length pass to Tremaine Wingfield, who hit the tying basket with two-tenths of a second left. Then, at the end of the second overtime, with the score tied, Penders threw an identical pass to Wingfield, who hit the winning basket at the buzzer.

* Conference calls I: Sure, the Southeastern Conference has two teams, Arkansas and Kentucky, in the top five of the men's Top 25, and both could land in the Final Four.

L But let's not kid ourselves: The SEC is very weak. How weak?

This week, Alabama was drubbed by the College of Charleston, 82-60. The Tennessee men are being outdrawn at home by the top-ranked Tennessee women.

And three weeks ago, No. 25 Vanderbilt was forced to two overtimes at home by a not-so-good Wake Forest team.

The SEC might be lucky to get four bids to the NCAA tournament.

* Conference calls II: The four SEC bids are one more than the Big Least may get.

Let's be honest: With the exception of Connecticut, which dropped an 85-76 decision to noted power Ohio on Wednesday night, which team in the Big East would you pay money to see, or arrange a night of television viewing around?

Georgetown? Boston College? Syracuse? Surely, you jest. It becomes understandable why some Big East officials are talking to Temple about bolting the Atlantic 10. It might be their best chance to get a team into the Final Four in the foreseeable future.

* Injury that could keep a team out of the Final Four: Tia Jackson's anterior cruciate ligament tear might be enough to keep the No. 2 Iowa women's team from getting to Richmond, Va.

Jackson, a former standout at Wicomico County's Mardela Springs High, was leading the Hawkeyes in scoring with nearly 17 points a game. Iowa, one of the nation's best defensive teams, desperately will miss Jackson's scoring, because points are usually hard to come by in Iowa City.

* Four things worth seeing in 1994:

* A big nonconference victory for the Coppin State men, who deserve something good for playing well at Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Eagles travel to Boston College on Sunday, where a win would be tough, but not impossible.

* A Final Four berth for the Temple men. Coach John Chaney is one of the good guys in the game, who will play anybody, any time, anywhere, and this year he has the horses to get there.

* A break for North Carolina State men's coach Les Robinson, who, like Maryland's Gary Williams, inherited a troubled program at his alma mater. Williams, however, didn't have a player who committed suicide, nor see his two in-state neighbors win national titles in the past three years.

* An end to carping over the elimination of the closely guarded dribbling rule. There aren't many players who bounce the ball well now as it is, and the shortened shot clock on the men's side doesn't make the new rule that much of a factor.

* Four things that ought to go in 1994:

* Bob Knight. Is there anyone who hasn't had enough of this boor? Genius or not, his act has worn painfully thin. Just ask his son, Pat.

* The double bonus in the first half of men's games. The rule granting two foul shots after the ninth foul of a half was instituted to pick up the pace at the end of a game. Why slow the game down in the first half?

* ESPN's peek-a-boo coverage of women's basketball, where now you see Top 25 scores and now you don't, you never see highlights, and what few games are televised are tape delayed for days and carried in the middle of the afternoon or at midnight, when no one can see them. (Note to ESPN programmers: You can't complain about poor ratings for women's games when you present them poorly and don't promote them.)

* Five more seconds off the men's shot clock. Thirty seconds works well in the women's game, and it could do wonders for the men, if, of course, they are open to learning from women.

* Upset pick of the week: OK, so Tulane didn't beat California in the Otis Spunkmeyer Classic final, but because both teams made the championship game, we'll take credit for two correct picks. (Don't argue; when you get your own column, you can make your own rules.)

Anyway, look for the Towson State men to knock off American next Wednesday in Washington.

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