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This Is a Team With Great Expectorations

Huckleberry Finn to my knowledge never spat into the Mississippi River, nor have I. But ever since this superstitious basketball team from the University of Kansas got within expectorating distance of the national championship, this filthy habit has turned Coach Roy Williams’ athletes into America’s spitballers.

You’ve heard of Salina, Kan.? This is the team from Saliva, Kan.

I believe Kansas to be the first team in NCAA Final Four history not to be environmentally sound. By encouraging his bunch of Jayhawk galoots to go pa-tooey into old man river, simply to bring his team luck, the Kansas coach has brought new meaning to the motivational phrase, “Get their juices flowing.”

Dry up, Roy. Somebody, please, introduce Mr. Williams to the concept of the wishing well. Tossing pennies into a pool of water while making a wish is one thing, but turning the Mighty Miss into a spittoon, I must say, is the most disgusting habit I have seen in sports since the day Sparky Anderson rolled a clump of chewing tobacco into a wad of Bazooka bubble gum like a burrito and popped the whole mess into his mouth.

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Kansas can do everybody a big favor this weekend. Give a hoot. Don’t pollute.

I have no idea when or why Roy Williams decided that the ideal lucky charm for his players would be to take a stroll over to the riverbank and have everybody let one fly. What next, coach? Couldn’t you simply ask each of your players to wear his lucky rabbit’s foot (lucky for everyone but the rabbit) or not to wash his lucky socks until your team wins the championship, smelly but victorious?

Williams pointed out that the Jayhawks were positively drooling the other day in St. Louis when it dawned on them that the Mississippi River keeps on flowing all the way to New Orleans, thereby enabling the players to keep their new tradition intact. I am sure that this will result in some entertaining live coverage this weekend on television, possibly narrated by CBS’ Spat O’Brien and Kentucky’s Rick Spitino.

In any case, best of luck to the Kansas players. We hope they get this out of their system.

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Other NCAA observations:

--I bet Dana Carvey could do a great Steve Fisher.

--If Michigan wins another championship, we may have to start calling him Coach F.

--If North Carolina wins the championship, I’ll bet they could balance the trophy on Eric Montross’ head.

--Dean Smith has been coaching basketball so long, dinosaurs had tar heels.

--Kentucky vs. Kansas for the championship? UK vs. KU is OK.

--Rex Walters transferred from Northwestern to Kansas. That was back when Northwestern’s team was known as the “Fab One .”

--Eastern domination? What Eastern domination? If Kansas wins, it would be the third time in six years (Kansas 1988, UNLV 1990) that the national champion came from west of the rapidly rising Mississippi River.

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--Every time I see Michigan play, I wish UCLA’s Tyus Edney would have shot that ball.

--So far, UCLA, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati have blown leads of 15 points or more. Moral: Don’t change TV channels too soon.

--Which way is the Bobby Cremins possession arrow pointing?

--Cincinnati’s Nick Van Exel is the best player he has ever seen.

--John Thompson’s funny line during the NIT was that his Georgetown players would have to keep coming to practice, win or lose. Isn’t this the same John Thompson who keeps harping on players to be serious about things other than basketball?

--Thompson gets under my skin so often, I should take him intravenously.

--In this, the Year of the Woman, one of the teams invited to the tournament should have been Martha Washington.

--The Vanderbilt women’s team has a 6-foot-10 center named Heidi. I hear NBC showed her for three quarters, then cut to a Raider game.

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--Isn’t Mashburn something they do in Kentucky to improve the whiskey?

--J.R. Rider is supposed to play in an all-star game here, but somebody is going to do it for him.


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