Towson Takes an Unorthodox Approach


He probably is not the “Jewish Jordan,” as some gushed early on, but Tamir Goodman already has managed to move calendar dates before playing his first collegiate game.


He’s the high school senior at Maryland’s Takoma Academy whose recruitment last spring made national headlines because Goodman does not play on the Jewish Sabbath, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

Goodman is an Orthodox Jew who wears his yarmulke on the court; he’s a kid with deep convictions and a sweet jump shot.


He appeared set to attend Maryland, which appeared willing to accommodate the player’s religious dictum, but Goodman rejected the scholarship offer and has signed a letter of intent to play at lower-level Towson University.

There were rumors Maryland backed away from Goodman when it realized the guard wasn’t as good as first advertised; Goodman suggested he turned down Maryland because the school wasn’t amenable to his beliefs.

Towson was tickled to get him, as was the America East Conference, which has reworked its entire 2000-2001 schedule so that Goodman will not have to play on Saturday afternoons.

Beyond an act of benevolence, the America East knows Goodman has the potential to raise the basketball bar in the conference, ranked 23 out of 32 conferences in the latest Ratings Percentage Index power poll.

But moving dates for a player is risky business.

“It puts pressure on us, pressure on Tamir to perform, and pressure on Towson to accommodate his needs,” Matt Bourque, the conference’s assistant commissioner, acknowledged.

The mechanics of shuffling next season’s schedule weren’t difficult, Bourque said, a matter of switching a few Saturday afternoon games to evening and switching a Saturday night game to Sunday.


But it raises some interesting issues.

Is the America East doing this because Goodman is Jewish or because he is a potential star?

Would the conference make the same concessions if Goodman were a role player who logged 10 minutes a game?

“I think we would be doing this if he was the best player or the 12th player,” Bourque said.

What if Goodman turns out to be a bust? Are league members going to be willing to make the same sacrifices in 2001-02?

Or, what if he becomes a superstar? Are opposing coaches suddenly going to gripe about having to adjust their schedules so that Goodman can run their teams off the court?

“How willing are they going to be to accommodate him if Tamir is as good as Towson hopes he is?” Bourque wondered of the coaches.


What if other players ask for schedule changes because of their religious beliefs? Can the America East deny those requests?

No one should question Goodman’s devotion or motivations, but adjusting an entire league’s schedule to accommodate one player seems a trek toward a slippery slope.

Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax, who is Jewish, declined to pitch the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.

The World Series did not adjust for Koufax. Koufax did not pitch.

Bourque acknowledges the deal with Goodman could get complicated.

“We’re going to learn things,” he said.

Because it is a relatively low-profile conference, the America East doesn’t have to worry about Towson’s schedule conflicting with ESPN telecasts.

“If ESPN wanted us on a Saturday, the situation would have been more difficult,” Bourque said.

But what if Towson makes the NCAA tournament? First- and second-round games are played in Thursday-Saturday, Friday-Sunday pairings.


“We’ve had this situation in the past, a volleyball coach not wanting to play on Yom Kippur, a baseball player not playing on Easter,” Bourque says. “We’ve accommodated them.”


OK, a show of hands of every Long Beach State 49er who missed a second-half shot last week against Cal State Monterey Bay?

Only you, D’Cean Bryant?

That’s right. In a remarkable stretch of shotmaking that went largely unnoticed Dec. 22, Long Beach made 32 of 33 shots from the field in the second half of a 127-57 victory.

More incredible: The 49ers opened the half by making their first 31 shots.

“After we made our first 12 or 13, the woman doing our stats tapped me on the shoulder,” said Steve Janisch, the school’s sports information director. “We knew something strange was happening.”

Granted, 20 of the baskets against the hapless Otters were either dunks or layups, but eight were outside the key, including four three-point shots.

The only miss of the half was Bryant’s errant three-point attempt.

Long Beach’s 97% shooting in the second half set an NCAA record, eclipsing the 94.1% mark North Carolina had (16 of 17) against Virginia in 1978.


Long Beach center Mate Milisa, who made all 13 of his shots, tied the NCAA field-goal percentage mark. Louisville’s Clifford Rozier went 15 for 15 against Eastern Kentucky in 1993.

Long Beach set school records for points, 127; points in a half, 74; margin of victory, 70; single-game field-goal percentage, 80% (56 of 70); field goals, 56, and consecutive field goals, 32.

Thirty two? The 49ers made their last shot of the first half.

Janisch said he could not establish whether the school’s 32 consecutive baskets were an NCAA record.

“God, I just can’t imagine anyone doing that,” he said, “but I guess anything’s possible.”


To mark the return of Indiana basketball, feel free to toss a chair across your living room floor.

Yep, it appears Bob Knight’s Hoosiers are back.

Everything is relative, of course, for the coach who has won three national titles, an Olympic gold and has proclaimed to have forgotten more about the game than all of us people combined are ever going to know.

Indiana has not missed an NCAA tournament since 1985, but Knight’s legendary program appeared to be on the down slope.


Consider: His Hoosiers have not won a national title since 1987, been to the Final Four since 1992 or won a Big Ten title since 1993.

Indiana made first-round NCAA exits in 1995, ’96 and ’97. After the ’97 defeat, to Colorado in Winston-Salem, a disgusted Knight walked back to the team hotel, a several-mile trek through the rain.

In the last three years, prized recruits Neil Reed, Jason Collier and Luke Recker transferred, leading many to speculate Knight’s tough-guy tactics were wearing thin on today’s players.

Yet, this year’s team already has defeated Temple, Kentucky and North Carolina. The Hoosiers have a legitimate superstar in guard A.J. Guyton, a strong inside force in Kirk Haston and a future star in freshman forward Jeff Newton, who lacks only muscle and a mean streak, elements of his game that no doubt will be acquired under the watch of Robert Montgomery Knight.

More important, Knight is recruiting again. Next year’s incoming class, which includes forwards Jared Jeffries and A.J. Moye, is considered a top-five haul.

Indiana might be a year away from doing serious NCAA tournament damage, but with Michigan State and Ohio State looking vulnerable, a run for the Big Ten title this year is not beyond the realm.


There’s also another factor motivating the 59-year-old Knight. He needs to average only 19 wins for the next seven years to break Dean Smith’s record of 879. Barring illness or self-destruction, Knight is a cinch to eclipse the mark and stake his claim as the game’s greatest.


* Disparity department: Despite its No. 17 ranking in both national polls and injuries to key players Pepe Sanchez and Mark Karcher, Temple is No. 1 in this week’s Ratings Percentage Index rankings, a testament to the Owls’ killer schedule. But that isn’t the only RPI-polls disparity. Oklahoma, No. 22 in both polls, is No. 2 in the RPI.

* Recker began practicing this week with Iowa but won’t be eligible until sometime next season. Recker, who transferred from Indiana to Arizona after a fallout with Knight, recently left Arizona to be closer to his girlfriend, Kelly Craig, partially paralyzed in an car accident last July in which Recker was also injured. Under transfer rules, Recker is not eligible to compete at Iowa until Jan. 1, 2001, although the player may appeal to the NCAA for an earlier return.

* The biggest threat to Arizona’s national title hopes this season? Attrition. News that freshman Robertas Javtokas has decided to leave Tucson and return home to Lithuania has left Coach Lute Olson with only eight scholarship players. Javtokas is the third player to leave the program this year, following Recker and guard Ruben Douglas, who fled after losing a battle for playing time with freshman Gilbert Arenas.

* Boston College, 8-3 before week’s play, already has won more games than the six it won last season.

* For what it’s worth: The five remaining unbeaten schools in Division I before week’s play were Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Marshall, Stanford and Louisiana State.