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Class of This Class Is Robinson

One writer, one vote.

First Team --Guards Jason Kidd of California and Jalen Rose of Michigan; Forwards Donyell Marshall of Connecticut, Grant Hill of Duke and Glenn Robinson of Purdue.

Kidd makes it because there are no point guards like him in the college game. We’re not sure there are any point guards like him in the NBA, which is where he probably will be playing next season.

Rose, a player we’ve blasted in the past, finally has discovered the benefits of mixing his considerable flair with on-court maturity. For the first time in his three-year Michigan career, Rose’s walk has matched the talk.

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Marshall is the Northeast version of Grant Hill. He began earning rave reviews during summer international play. Now we know why.

Hill, the thinking man’s player, can do the improbable: control games with or without scoring.

Robinson has a flaw in his game somewhere . . . doesn’t he?

Second Team --Guards Melvin Booker of Missouri and B.J. Tyler of Texas; forwards Jervaughn Scales of Southern and Corliss Williamson of Arkansas; center Juwan Howard of Michigan.

Almosts --Guards Khalid Reeves of Arizona, Derrick Phelps of North Carolina and Dan Cross of Florida; forwards Lou Roe of Massachusetts and Lamond Murray of Cal; center Carlos Rogers of Tennessee State and Clifford Rozier of Louisville.

Player of the Year --Robinson, followed by Kidd, then Hill, then Marshall.

Freshman of the Year --Joe Smith of Maryland, followed by Louisiana State’s Ronnie Henderson, Mississippi State’s Erick Dampier, Cincinnati’s Dontonio Wingfield and Wisconsin’s Rashard Griffith.

Coach of the Year --Norm Stewart of Missouri.

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Anybody who can lead a team through an unbeaten season in the tough Big Eight gets our vote. The last time it happened was 1971, and Kansas advanced to the Final Four. Missouri is good enough to do the same.

Our runner-ups were Florida’s Lon Krueger, Kentucky’s Rick Pitino, Notre Dame’s John MacLeod, Maryland’s Gary Williams, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Cal’s Todd Bozeman.

THE CAMPANELLI WATCH

Nearly 14 months have come and gone since Cal issued a pink slip to Lou Campanelli and yet, he still can’t stomach the thought of watching the Golden Bears.

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“It’s too painful,” the former Cal coach said. “I wouldn’t put myself through that. I just put positive thoughts through my mind.”

Campanelli, who was fired by then-Cal Athletic Director Bob Bockrath for alleged mistreatment of players, is so high on life these days that he wants to return to coaching. Now then, will anyone want him back?

“I think the coaches in the country know what I stand for as a man, as a coach,” he said. “They know I built two respectable programs through the framework of the NCAA. My players graduate and people know that I didn’t take any shortcuts to get a program built at either place.”

Campanelli said he wouldn’t take just any job. Of course, he might not have much of a choice.

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“If I coach,” he said, “I want it to be a fun job, a challenge. Some place where I can roll up my sleeves and get it done.”

Since being replaced by Bozeman, a former assistant, last February, Campanelli has been busy. He brooded. He steamed. He filed lawsuits. He also traveled, going to South Korea, Greece and to mystical Tobacco Road, where he spent quality time with coaching buddies Dean Smith, Dave Odom and Krzyzewski. It was during his preseason visit to Odom at Wake Forest that Campanelli said he realized how much he missed the game.

“That’s when it was really kind of painful,” he said. “That was the first time in 32 years that I hadn’t been on the floor.”

Campanelli did some television color commentary on Missouri Valley Conference games, but who wants to spend the rest of their life watching Wichita State? He also appeared as a college recruiter in the movie, “Blue Chips.” About the best we can say is that he nodded well.

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“I’m ready to go,” he said. “Whoever gets me in whatever capacity--coaching . . . the TV thing--they’re going to get somebody with a lot of stored up energy.”

Campanelli said he has his health, a supportive family and a new perspective on life. Well, almost new. He hasn’t exactly adopted the forgive-and-forget attitude with Cal. “I’m still involved in litigation,” he said.

A prediction: Campanelli, who plans to attend the Final Four in Charlotte, N.C., will get his second chance. Lots of openings. And lots of athletic directors who think college basketball owes him one.

WISHFUL THINKING

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If it’s all the same to Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson, he’d prefer to be seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

The reason: location, location, location. The Midwest finishes in nearby Dallas, whereas the Southeast Regional finishes in Knoxville, home of Southeastern Conference partner Tennessee.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled with Richardson’s choice.

“If there’s a request line, I’d like to have the number,” said Missouri’s Stewart, who was none too pleased with the news. “Am I missing something? Aren’t (the Razorbacks) in the Southeast Conference now?”

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As it stands, Missouri (Midwest), Arkansas (Southeast), Connecticut (East) are probably assured of being seeded No. 1. The remaining No. 1 in the West is likely to go to North Carolina or Duke, though Arizona and Purdue still have a chance. The Wildcats or Boilermakers become serious candidates if North Carolina or Duke don’t win the Atlantic Coast tournament.

Whatever happens, Kentucky’s Pitino predicts upsets galore in the early rounds of the NCAA madness.

“Here’s the difference between this year and past years,” he said. “I think the first-round seed is very important. You could conceivably get a tremendous talent advantage. But if this year you’re a three, four, five seed, you’re not going to have that tremendous talent advantage. You’re going to have four flat-out wars to get to the Final Four.”

Added Pitino, who said he couldn’t even make an educated guess on a Final Four field: “In the second round, I would not be surprised if anybody loses in the country. The second round is where you’re going to see the biggest number of upsets.”

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THE REST

Pins ready, the NCAA tournament selection committee convenes Friday in Kansas City to separate the at-large teams from the bubble teams. A list of bubbles: ACC--Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech; Atlantic 10--George Washington; Big East)--Georgetown, Villanova; Big Eight--Oklahoma; Metro Athletic--Tulane; Midwestern Collegiate--Xavier, Evansville; Missouri Valley--Tulsa; Pac-10--Stanford, Washington State; SEC)--Vanderbilt, Mississippi State; Southwest--Texas A&M; Western Athletic--Brigham Young, Fresno State. . . . Arkansas fans, apparently overdosing on sooey-pig fever, are buying up every SEC tournament ticket they can. The Razorbacks are ranked No. 1 and better yet, are a short drive to the supposed neutral site of the SEC tournament--Memphis, which just happens to be one of Richardson’s favorite recruiting locations. Said Georgia Coach Hugh Durham of the league tournament: “More than likely it’s going to be an Arkansas Invitational.” . . . St. John’s, an NCAA tournament no-show unless it wins the Big East tournament, still has reason to celebrate. Zendon Hamilton, a 6-foot-11 center considered to be one of the country’s best high school players, has chosen hometown St. John’s over Villanova. Still undecided is New York guard Felipe Lopez, the No. 1 high school prospect. His reported short list: St. John’s, Seton Hall and Syracuse. After losing big-time New York recruit Adonal Foyle to Colgate and the Patriot League, the Big East appears to have salvaged its reputation by keeping Hamilton and Lopez in the conference.

The Roy Williams-to-Tennessee rumor refuses to go away, partly because Williams hasn’t completely shot it down. Said the Kansas coach this week: “I haven’t spoken to anyone from Tennessee. I don’t plan on speaking to anyone from Tennessee. They haven’t shown any interest in me. That’s basically where that stands.” In coach-speak, a non-denial denial. We still think Williams will stay put, but Kansas fans might want to keep this in mind: Williams is from North Carolina, which, for the geographically illiterate, is only a few hours from the Knoxville campus. Also, Williams used to work the summer camps for former Tennessee Coach Ray Mears. . . . Another rumor to consider: Providence Coach Rick Barnes to Clemson, Nevada Las Vegas Coach Rollie Massimino to Providence. It makes sense. The situation at UNLV is a mess and Massimino and his family miss the East Coast lifestyle. . . . The four new members of the Big Eight Conference--Southwest Conference refugees Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M; and Baylor--haven’t even joined the league yet and already relations are a tiny bit prickly. Seems there have been rumblings of eventually moving the conference tournament from Kansas City to possibly a location in Texas. Informed of the idea, Missouri’s Stewart snapped back, “Well, I’d really like to go to Lubbock (campus outpost for Texas Tech).” Asked why, Stewart said, “I don’t know, Mac Davis has a song there. Just a lot of things that seem like a nice place to go.” Said a Big Eight school official: “I’m sure that will make our new friends (in the SWC) happy.” Stewart’s comment might be politically incorrect, but who cares? The Big Eight, which has a contract with the Kemper Arena in Kansas City through 2000, would be nuts to move. As for pressure from the SWC Four, Kansas’ Williams was quick to remind everyone that “there’s eight of us who asked those other four to join.” . . . Northwestern Coach Ricky Byrdsong, back from a leave of a absence, has sent a letter of apology to members of the school’s booster club for his antics last month at Minnesota. Despite the many distractions, the Wildcats still have a chance for an NIT bid.

Top 10

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As selected by staff writer Gene Wojciechowski

No. Team Record 1. Arkansas 24-2 2. Missouri 24-2 3. Connecticut 26-3 4. North Carolina 24-6 5. Arizona 25-4 6. Purdue 25-4 7. Duke 22-4 8. Michigan 21-6 9. Massachusetts 24-6 10. Syracuse 21-5

Waiting list: Kansas (24-6), Kentucky (23-6), Temple (20-6), Louisville (24-5), Cal (21-6).


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