Valvano Finally Gives Ali the Word

North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano told Randy Hallman of the Richmond News Leader he ran across Muhammad Ali recently at a celebrity affair and reminded him they had met before.

Valvano said the year was 1967, when he was a senior at Rutgers and playing in the NIT and Ali was between title defenses against Ernie Terrell and Zora Folley.

"He came to one of our practices and got out on the court for a little one-on-one," Valvano said. "I asked him if he remembered that. He said he did. I told him I was the kid who guarded him. I said, 'Champ, I didn't have the guts then, but I've always wanted to tell you. As a basketball player, you stink.' "

Said Texas El Paso Coach Don Haskins after the 86-73 loss to North Carolina State Sunday: "Our team defense was terrible. Our team offense was terrible."

That pretty well covers it.

The last time St. John's and Kentucky met in the NCAA tournament, in 1951-52, the Wildcats were the favorites.

Led by Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey, Kentucky was rated No. 1 in the nation and was working on a 23-game winning streak. Early in the season, when St. John's was rated No. 1, Kentucky routed the Redmen, 81-40. It remains the worst loss in St. John's history.

In the rematch, however, the Redmen stunned the Wildcats, 64-57. St. John's, led by Bob Zawoluk and Jack McMahon, now an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, advanced to the NCAA final but was blown out by Kansas. The Jayhawks, led by Clyde Lovellette with 33 points, won, 80-63.

Oops Dept.: In a recent item, Joe Harper was identified as the football coach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is a former coach at the school. Last season, he coached at Northern Arizona.

Raymond Lewis, onetime scoring machine at Cal State Los Angeles, takes issue with an item in which former Philadelphia writer Bill Livingston claimed World B. Free ran him out of the Philadelphia 76ers camp 10 years ago.

Livingston, now of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, said Free dominated Lewis in their first practice, swatting his patented jumper into the stands.

Lewis calls it myth.

"I hit 10 straight jumpers over Lloyd Free," he said. "He never blocked my shot."

As for being run out of camp, he said: "I've never run from anything. I've never backed down from anyone. I left camp because the 76ers wouldn't guarantee my contract."

Lewis, 31, married with two kids, lives in Long Beach, working as an aide to an attorney. He never made it in the NBA, but he remains a local legend. He hasn't played in four months but says he still can fill it up.

"In my last three summer leagues I averaged more than 50 points a game and shot 65%," he said. "I'll still go one-on-one with anybody. Even Kareem. Nobody can block my shot.

" Nobody. "


James Litke of the Associated Press, on the shot selection of Alfredrick Hughes of Loyola (Chicago), the nation's leading scorer: "He considers any spot on the floor good enough to shoot from so long as he is the one standing on it."

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