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26 Basketball 1988-89 Friday. November 1 8, 1988.
Bos Ten and Bi
East top coofereoce battles
By DOUG HOOGERVORST
Coaches, writers and fans alike
argue year in and year out about
which conference is the strongest.
Questions always come up like, "Did
the Big East deserve six NCAA bids
last year?" or "Is a small conference,
like the ever-intimidating East Coast
Conference, strong enough to deserve
a bid in the NCAA tourney?"
' This year, l plan to squelch all of
that controversy mumbo-jumbo. The
plan is to rate the nation's top
conferences once and for all so no
one can argue. So, here it goes, and
the best conference is . . .
1. Big Ten
Yes, the Big Ten. For years over
rated and underachieving, the Big
Ten has toooooo much talent to be
denied this year. Plus, they seem to
be adding some coaches who can
coach and not just recruit. Iowa,
Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State are
the class of this classy conference.
Iowa returns three of their top
players in point guard B.J. Arm
strong, swingman Roy Marble and
center Ed Horton all seniors. The
rest of the Hawkeye team is made
up of relative unknowns, but that is
just fine for the Dr. Tom Davis
system. With Armstrong, Marble and '
Horton leading, Davis only has to fill
the other spots with role players and '
the Hawkeyes could be conference
and national champs.
Michigan has enough talent to give
the Big Ten another team vying for
a national title and make the mouths
of NBA coaches water (yes,, even
Charlotte's Dick Harter). The Wol
verines lost AU-American guard Gary
Grant to graduation, so now senior
forward Glen Rice will lead the team
while junior Rumeal Robinson gains
the national prominence he deserves
at the point. The only thing keeping
the Wolverines from the title will be
the "choke" collar they've worn each
March. If Bill Frieder can actually
coach them through that, look out.
Like Michigan, Illinois has the
talent to be a national contender, but
each year they wind up as a national
pretender. The Illini sport a starting
five equal to Michigan's but minus
the coaching. Forwards Nick And
erson and Kenny Battle are one of
the top pairs in the country. Add 1987
High School Player of the Year
Marcus Liberty and the Illini can run
anyone out of the gym. Coach Lou
Fri, Sat, Mon, Nov. 18, 19,21
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For these three days many items will be
specially priced. This will be a great opportunity
to buy something you've been saving for or
layaway an item for Christmas. During this sale we
will further entice you to take advantage of in
store specials by paying the sales tax on any item
you'd like to purchase. That's an extra 5 discount
off many items already discounted up to 50.
Don't miss this one time opportunity to save on
any major purchase you might be planning.
ACC versus Division 1 Conferences in 1988
Conference Wins Losses Conference Wins Losses
Atlantic 10 3 3 Midwestern - 1 0
Big East 2 2 Missouri Vailey 10
Big Eight 2 4 Pacific Ten 4 2
Big South 11 1 Pacific Coast 1 1
Big Ten 3 2 Southeastern 6 4
Colonial 8 2 Southland 1 0
East Coast 2 0 Southwest 3 2
ECAC-Metro 1 0 Southwestern 3 2
Ivy League 4 0 Sun Belt 2 2
Metro 5 4 Trans-America 4 0
Henson and his collection of ugly
suits have held Illinois back in the
recent past, but he can't hold this crew .
Ohio State is the sleeper of the top
teams in the Big Ten, but don't fall
asleep when you play them. The
Buckeyes will be led by baby-faced
guard Jay Burson, who's tougher
than Mitch Green and Robin Givens.
combined. What makes Ohio State
even tougher is the fact that Gary
Williams is a superb coach who
always gets the most out of his players
and the full-court game he employs.
The rest of the Big Ten could be
called the Small Six. None of the
teams will be exceptionally bad, and
a few will make the NIT, but no one
else can seriously challenge for the
title. However, with the Big Four, the
Big Ten is best.
2. Big East
The Big East closely follows the Big
Ten sporting seven teams that could
push for NCAA spots. However, only
three teams are championship caliber.
Georgetown, Syracuse and Villan
ova are the Big East's best, each with
the tools to win it all. Pittsburgh and
Connecticut are a smidgen below,
while St. John's, Seton Hall and
Boston College are a step or two off
the pace. Unlike the Big Ten, the Big
East does have a bona-fide el stinko
team in the Providence Friars.
The Hoy as put themselves among
the top teams last spring when Alonzo
Mourning signed his letter of intent
to Georgetown. Any four players
around the 1987-88 high school
player of the year would be a threat
for a national title, but add the senior
leadership of Charles Smith and the
300 E Main
explosiveness of Mark Tillmon and
teams fear the Hoyas now.
Coach John Thompson's full-court
defense will be at its "best since the
Ewing days, maybe even better, so
kick Georgetown now, because this
is as low as theyH be as long as
Mourning is a Hoy a.
Syracuse won the Big East title last
year and added better players than
they lost, so how can they drop? Well,
the Orangemen are definitely a
national contender, but they have a
weakness on the perimeter.
The leadership of the country's best
point guard, Sherman Douglas;
inside play of college's most explosive
6-foot-4 player, Stevie Thompson;
the rebounding of Derrick Coleman;
and the overall play of frosh Billy
Owens can cover this weakness.
Unfortunately, any coach that out
smarts Jim Boeheim can beat them.
But it will take a lot of outsmarting
to beat this talent.
Villanova will always be the over
achieving bunch of kids under that
little Italian guy whose shirt always
seems to be untucked. The difference
this year is that if this bunch over
achieves, it's national title time. Rollie
Massimino is the best coach in the
Big East and has actual talent this
year to play with. Yes, they can beat
the undisciplined talent of Michigan,
Illinois or Syracuse, but it will depend
on coaching and center Tom Greis.
Greis was probably the most
improved player in the country last
year, and if he continues at that rate,
Massimino's boys will be tough. As
it is, throw in silky Doug West,
underappreciated Kenny Wilson and
defensive whiz Gary Massey and
there is a lot to handle.
Pittsburgh and Connecticut are
going in opposite directions but are
at the same place. Pittsburgh is
reeling from the losses of Big East
Player of the Year Charles Smith and
Jerome Lane. The healthy return of
medical redshirt Rod Brookin, along
with the addition of Prop 48 casualty
Brian Shorter and soph Sean Miller,
gives the Panthers the talent to upset.
With a win of the NIT (National
Insignificant Tournament), Connec
ticut comes into the season fired up.
They have a certified big man in Cliff
LAS AG N A
Sophomore Mark Macon leads
Robinson and a strong backcourt
with Phil Gamble, Tate George, and
frosh Chris Smith but lack the talent
at forward. They too are upset
makers, but a tough early season
schedule may make the NCAA tough.
St. John's, Seton Hall and BC are
all two players away and NIT
Phew! Those two are close. The
ACC has its strengths but isn't the
caliber si the 'Big -gies. After that,
there are a bunch of strong and even
The ACC has two national con
tenders in Duke and UNC, a powerful
team a point guard away in Georgia
Tech, a playoff pretender in N.C.
State and four other teams fighting
The Blue Devils are the consensus
pre-season No. 1 pick, and an early
season schedule against patsies like
East Carolina, Northwestern, Stetson
and Davidson will give them a nice
perfect record going into their ACC
schedule. Still, Duke is the class of
the ACC, and with '87-'88 ACC
Player of the Year Danny Ferry
returning, a title threat.
The Triangle's Choice For 21 years
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DTH file photo
Temple's bid for the Atlantic-1 0 title
Ferry is a do-it-all type player, and
the only question about him is how
the Celtics will get him. Coach Mike
Krzyzewski is a master tactician and
with starters Quin Synder, a solid
point man, and athletic Robert
Brickey back, the Blue Devils will
play with anyone.
UNC may have been blessed by the
pre-season injury to J.R. Reid. Every
year the Tar Heels peak too early.
But this year, Reid will reenter the
lineup in December. So, by the time
he has worked into playing shape
again and the team is in sync,' UNC
could be in the NCA As peaking. Reid
is the AU-American Dean Smith will
build around when he returns.
But until then Smith must make
do with a talented but shallow cast.
Seniors Jeff Lebo and Steve Bucknall
will be the go-to guys along with Scott
Williams. A new feature in the Tar
Heel attack will be a quicker fast
break pace. If the Tar Heel legs don't
get tired, who knows?
Georgia Tech strengthens the
conference with a strong team which
can make a run at the NCAA crown
but will be stopped short. The Yellow
Jackets are a point guard away from
the title this year. Tom Hammonds
is a nearly unstoppable force inside,
and fat boy Dennis Scott is a explo
sive player outside and inside. The
Yellow Jackets also added a juco star
at center in Maurice Brittian. Brian
Oliver is a solid player but not a point
State is a playoff pretender this
year. Without Charles "I'm amphib
ious" Shackleford, there is a large
hole in the pivot. Soph Chris Cor
chiani and senior Chucky Brown will
I. See CONFERENCES page 27
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