Only a dome can bring Final 4 home to East Coast

A domed stadium at Camden Yards might be bad for football players, but it would be very good for college basketball fans in Baltimore and the entire Northeast.

This year's Final Four will be played at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., and the NCAA has no idea when the city game's showcase will return to the Northeast. The NCAA now requires 30,000 seats for the Final Four and hotel space that Syracuse, N.Y., doesn't have, and in the future it will come no closer than the RCA Dome in Indianapolis or the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.


"If you were speculating, right now there's no chance, zip, that the Final Four will be coming back to the East Coast any time soon," said Bill Hancock, the director of the tournament. "The basketball committee knows there's a void there. Certainly, a dome built on the East Coast would host a Final Four."

Domes are hardly just for Final Fours. The RCA Dome in Indianapolis will get the Final Four in 1997 and 2000, but it also will be the site of first- and second-round games this year and in 1999.


Without a dome, Baltimore's relationship with the NCAA tournament probably will turn out to be a one-year fling. UMBC, the host institution for last year's sub-regional at the Arena, bid for 1999, but the Eastern sites went to the FleetCenter in Boston and the Charlotte Coliseum.

"We loved everything about Baltimore, with one exception," Hancock said. "The building is showing its age, and for spectator convenience and the sake of the players, there are too many nicer arenas."

UMBC will bid again this summer to be host for a sub-regional in 2000, but when it comes to basketball venues, Baltimore is getting farther away instead of closer. Put a roof on that thing.

Don't forget GW

Mike Jarvis loved it last Saturday when the national commentators said that Massachusetts' quest for regular-season perfection was a lock after its win at Virginia Tech.

Aren't they forgetting the spell Jarvis and his George Washington team had over the Minutemen last year, when they dealt them two of their four regular-season losses, and became the first and only visitor to win at the Mullins Center?

Heading into today's Atlantic 10 showdown at Massachusetts, GW has won nine of its past 10. The Colonials are 13-3 since the December addition of point guard Shawnta Rogers, a freshman from Lake Clifton, and Southern grad Kwame Evans continues to prosper at shooting guard.

Evans is averaging 19.2 points, second in the A-10 behind Marcus Camby. He has 1,583 career points, and should become GW's No. 3 all-time scorer.


Joe who? Samaki who?

Arizona and Louisville didn't exactly collapse when they lost their centers.

The Wildcats are 9-2 minus senior Joe Blair, who is academically ineligible and apparently done for the season. Vagabond Ben Davis has taken up the slack, as the Pac-10's top rebounder has seven double doubles since Blair's departure.

Thursday's win at No. 6 Cincinnati made Louisville 11-1 without Samaki Walker, the sophomore who is ineligible while the NCAA investigates his use of a car procured by his father from a company owned by Walker's former summer employer. Replacement Beau Zach Smith doesn't have the statistics, but the Cardinals are looking like a No. 5 or 6 seed.


De Paul's school-record losing streak stopped at 13 games Wednesday, when the Blue Demons beat Loyola of Chicago, 79-65. It was De Paul's first win since Dec. 23 at Indiana. The previous school record for futility was set in 1971. The captain then was Joey Meyer, the current coach. . . . The bubble has burst for Michigan State, which began the week tied for third in the Big Ten. A loss at Iowa dropped the Spartans to 14-12, and they still have to go to Michigan and Indiana.


Final Four sites

1996: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

1997: RCA Dome, Indianapolis

1998: Alamodome, San Antonio

1999: ThunderDome, St. Petersburg, Fla.

2000: RCA Dome, Indianapolis


2001: Metrodome, Minneapolis

2002: Georgia Dome, Atlanta