Upsets Happen When Best Plays Worst

John Feinstein was not discouraged from addressing provocative topics by the sales of his first book. He wrote the controversial “Season on the Brink” about a season with Coach Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers. It became a best-seller.

Earlier this week, Feinstein, the National’s college basketball correspondent, ranked the best and worst game coaches among the 64 who had teams in the NCAA tournament.

No. 2 on his best list was Richmond’s Dick Tarrant.

No. 1 on his worst list was Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.

Richmond, the 15th-seeded team in the East Regional, beat No. 2-seeded Syracuse Thursday, 73-69.


Add Feinstein: Knight has called the writer a “pimp” and a “whore.”

“I wish he’d make up his mind,” Feinstein responded, “so I’d know how to dress.”

Last add Feinstein: Others on the best list besides Knight and Tarrant, in order, were Princeton’s Pete Carril, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Dean Smith, Villanova’s Rollie Massimino, Texas’ Tom Penders and Arkansas’ Nolan Richardson.

After Boeheim, the worst list, in order, included Arizona State’s Bill Frieder, Georgia Tech’s Bobby Cremins, Temple’s John Chaney, UCLA’s Jim Harrick, Southern Mississippi’s M.K. Turk, Louisiana State’s Dale Brown and Michigan State’s Jud Heathcote.

Dubiously distinguished as the only coach on both lists was UNLV’s Jerry Tarkanian.

“He will not make a single adjustment during a game throughout the tournament,” Feinstein wrote. “Which, in this case, may make him the best coach of all.”

Trivia time: Who scored more points during the 1979 NCAA championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson?

Vaulting for dollars: After the Soviet Union’s Sergei Bubka cleared 19 feet 8 1/4 inches in winning the pole vault competition at track and field’s Indoor World Championships last Saturday in Seville, Spain, Michael Janofsky of The New York Times wrote:

“He failed three times at 20 feet, amid wide speculation that he did so on purpose. He is expected to try again before the month is out, where a promoter might pay him $30,000 for success. Here, athletes won only medals.”

On Friday, Bubka became the first vaulter to clear 20 feet, going 20-0 1/4 in an invitational meet at San Sebastian, Spain.

Role reversal: Seattle Manager Jim Lefebvre dipped his pen in poison and and wrote a story for the Seattle Times on a recent Mariner intrasquad game. The teams were managed by the baseball writers for the city’s two leading newspapers.

“I’ve been dying to get even with both reporters for managing from the press box for the two years I’ve been in Seattle and probably a long time before I came,” he said.

But Lefebvre obviously needs to hone his skills.

“This game was well played and very well managed,” he wrote. “Though they wore street clothes on the bench like a pair of latter-day Connie Macks, I can find little fault.”

Trivia answer: In leading Michigan State to a 75-64 victory, Magic scored 24. Bird had 19.

Quotebook: Guard Butch Lee, who played for Marquette’s 1977 NCAA championship team, on what was required to play for Coach Al McGuire: “You needed good earplugs.”