March 8, 2004
By Brian Litvack
Team Of The Week
Def. California 76-58
Def. Stanford 75-62
The Huskies had one heck of a week highlighted by taking down Pac 10 goliath Stanford. By sweeping the final week of the season, the athletic Huskies are playing their best basketball of the season. They used their speed to force 18 Cardinal turnovers and put Stanford's stars into foul trouble.
Coach Lorenzo Romar has five players that score in double figures and makes up for a lack of team size by employing an active nine-man rotation. Guard Nate Robinson is a dynamic sparkplug that comes off the bench to give Washington a jolt of energy. Will Conroy and Brandon Roy form a solid backcourt and also match up well with Robinson in the three-guard set.
The Huskies are one of the hottest and most dangerous teams in the nation. Washington has won 12 of 13 conference games after a dreadful 0-5 start in the Pac 10 that had them in last place. Despite an RPI that many think is too close to triple digits (77), Washington (17-10, 12-6) earned a ticket to the Big Dance by taking care of business last week.
Player Of The Week
Tim Smith, East Tennessee State
In the early 90s, East Tennessee State had a spectacular jitterbug of a point guard that went by the nickname Mr. Jennings. Keith Jennings led the Bucs to four straight NCAA tournaments highlighted by a 1992 first round upset of Arizona.
Although Jennings is long gone, the Bucs once again have a dominant vertically-challenged mistro at the point. Five-foot-nine-inch sophomore Tim Smith did his best Randolph Childress impression last week, exploding for 79 points, 20 rebounds, 16 assists, and 10 steals in three days that gave the Bucs the Southern Conference title and the first automatic bid in this year's field. Smith was at his best in the conference final, scoring 25 points and grabbing six boards in leading ETSU past Chattanooga. First-year coach Murry Bartow gave insight into Smith's role in his complex offense.
"We put the ball in his hands and we just let him go," he said
On the season, Smith is averaging 17.4 points, and 4.5 assists per game. The Bucs (27-5) have won 19 of their last 20 and feature a lethal duo with Smith and conference player of the year Zakee Wadood. Last season, the Bucs threw a major scare to No. 2 seed Wake Forest in the first round in a 76-73 loss. Don't be surprised if Mr. Smith makes some more noise in the very near future.
Line Of The Week
Temple's David Hawkins has been a scoring machine for much of the second half of the season and has helped John Chaney's team make a late run for a post-season bid. Hawkins scored 41 points against Massachusetts, including all 17 of Temple's points in the second overtime. His final two points on free throws sealed the 98-92 victory and put Hawkins over the 2000-point plateau for his career.
Only In College
Say It Ain't So, Jabahri
Senior Center Jabahri Brown was suspended indefinitely after he was charged with a few misdemeanors when Norman police found a little marijuana, and a large firearm at his crib.
Brown tried to right his wrong by publicly apologizing to teammates, coaches and fans at the Lloyd-Noble Center on Senior Day after Oklahoma defeated Baylor. Brown made his first public comments pertaining to the charges by saying "I'm very sorry I left you all in his predicament, It kills me that I couldn't continue with the team. I wish I could be there every step of the way."
Apparently, Brown might be the most forgiven man since Richard Nixon. Fans gave him a standing ovation, many of his teammates inked his No. 21 uniform number on their kicks for the game, and Coach Kelvin Sampson who was teary-eyed during his apology said, "I thought that was a powerful moment. It takes a big man to make a mistake and apologize. I applaud Jabarhi and I respect him for what he did today."
Striving For Popularity
Colorado's David Harrison had plenty to say about the Cyclones fans after the Buffaloes' loss at Iowa Stat last week. The merciless fans booed Harrison as he was announced for the starting lineup and then came up with a creative "David Harrison sucks" chant throughout the game.
Harrison was emotionally distraught that the fans "talked about my family, my little sister" and threatened that if this "was a real-life situation and they said that stuff to me, I don't know what I'd do."
Fortunately, in this on-court situation, he held back on pillaging the crowd because "if I did attack one of them, I'll get in trouble".
Part of the animosity stems back from a game at Iowa State two years ago when Harrison and his older brother D.J. (then on the Buffs) got into it with a few ISU players near the Cyclone bench. Harrison's version of the story is that "drunk Larry Eustachy cussed at D.J. and David Harrison went over there, somebody punched D.J. and then it was over".
Asked if Iowa State fans were the worst, Harrison asked what we believe to be a rhetorical question; "You haven't been to Kansas, have you?"
Former St. John's basketball scrub Abe Keita contends that he received $300 a month from the University. Earlier this season, Keita had been dismissed from the team for a naughty sexcapade in suburban Pittsburgh. Keita is also filing a civil rights lawsuit against the University based on "racially disparate disciplinary treatment".
Keita was a marginal player at St. John's and his pay (broken down to about $35 a game) was probably for warming the bench, handing out Gatorade and taking abuse from opposing fans (Cameron Crazies did it to him best with a "zero points, five fouls" chant).
Keita knew the payments were wrong but accepted because he was "extraordinarily vulnerable and susceptible to accepting NCAA-prohibited cash from the university" due to his impoverished background. Keita lawyers did not mention if his impoverished play on the court contributed to his extraordinary vulnerability to fouling out without scoring, or turning the ball over in the post.
East Tennessee State's Tim Smith celebrates their Socon Tournament Championship. Smith was named tournament MVP for the second year in a row.