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Volume 68, Isseu 69, Wednesday, December 4, 2002


The madness starts early

Menis NCAA Basketball

Keenan Singleton

The madness in college basketball is slated to begin in March, right?


The dementia has touched the early months of menis hoops, with several squads suffering setbacks.

Despite having the nationis best starting five, the Jayhawks were the team getting rocked in the Preseason National Invitation Tournament in New York, losing twice, to then-unranked North Carolina and then-No. 7 Florida.

Surprisingly, head coach Roy Williams wasnit surprised; in fact, Williams predicted in Sports Illustrated that KU would have a rough start and didnit deserve its ranking.

"Iim absolutely stunned," Williams said in the magazineis college basketball preview issue, in which his team was picked No. 2. "I wouldnit pick us to win our own league."

The teamis heralded starting five, led by guard Kirk Hinrich and forward/center Nick Collison, has to be strong because of a weak bench.

"Iive been saying to starters, you five guys have to stay out of foul trouble, and you canit get sick or hurt," Williams said. "Itis the least depth Iive ever had."

But the Jayhawks will crow again once Hinrichis strained back heals and the bench begins to contribute, something Williams is sure to emphasis.

Hero Heels

After an 8-20 season last year, many wondered if the UNC Tar Heels were broken. With a 5-0 record and the preseason NIT crown, the limp is gone, at least for now. Head coach Matt Dohertyis trio of freshmen guards Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton and forward Sean May are learning how to win on the job.

The Heels catapulted to No. 12 in the Associated Press rankings. It may be a tad high for a team so dependent on first-year players, but college basketball is the one sport in which first-year players can and often do, dominate.

Their fresh legs and enthusiasm will carry them through the early months, but how will they fare in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where every school is a basketball school (barring Florida State) and houses defending national champ Maryland and Duke?

If they succeed in the ACC, itill be a positive case of kids growing up too fast.

Pass the Pepto

Gastrologists around the country received a huge influx of business from college basketball fans.

Kansas wasnit the only Top 10 program to lose two games this week. Former No. 9 Michigan State fell to Villanova and Oklahoma State in the Great Alaska Shootout.

Other major upsets and surprises were No. 17 Stanford (then unranked) over No. 8 Florida, unranked Notre Dame crushing No. 13 Marquette, 92-71, and San Diego over UCLA in the biggest stunner. Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Georgia all exited the poll.

The College of Charleston chewed its way into the thick of with wins over Wyoming, Villanova and Oklahoma State. Go Cougars! Oh wait, wrong Coogs, but you get the idea.

And the further proof that hell has indeed frozen over, Texas is No. 2.

Stat watch

UHis own forward Louis Truscott is tied for second in the country in rebounding average with 14 per game. His competitor is Wyomingis Uche Nsonwu-Amadi. At a legit 6-6, Truscott uses unmatched hustle and well-fed calf muscles to play head and shoulder above the rim. He trails the leader, Louisana-Monroeis Kirby Lemons, by two per contest.

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