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Mudville Picks All-American in Hoops

Column by David Berl and Jeremy Cohen
Sports Columnists

With the college basketball conference season winding to a close, we would like to oblige those residents of Mudville beating at our door clamoring for our All-American selections. They are, in order of fondness for Geraldine Ferraro, as follows:

Bold American #1: Maryland Forward Joe Smith

Although his name is about as generic as Acme brand penicillin, Smith's game has more frills than anyone on either side of the Chesapeake. Leading his seventh ranked Terrapins to national prominence this year, Smith has been simply fantastic. His combination of an uncanny scoring instinct with remarkable athleticism and quickness has already made him Gary Williams' best recruit ever.

Bold American #2: Villanova Guard Kerry Kittles

With a moniker that only Purina could love, "Tender" Kittles "and Bits" has been anything but edible this season. In fact this Wildcat has been chewing up and spitting up some pretty impressive hairballs on his way to a breakout season. He averages over 20 points a game and has led an otherwise inexperienced squad to being a legitimite title threat.

Bold American #3: North Carolina Center Rasheed Wallace

This sophomore big man is literally a can't miss prospect. Shooting an astounding 67.7 percent from the field, Wallace is the best player in the country from inside 15 feet. He also anchors the Tarheel defense, averaging just over three blocks a game. Many of the Chapel Hill faithful believe he may be the best college center since Ohio State Buckeye phenom Granville "Check Please" Waiters. It's hard to argue with them.

Bold American #4: UCLA Forward Ed O'Bannon

Having finally recovered fully from a knee injury and an inflated ego, this senior Bruin has emerged into the Player of the Year candidate he was reputed to be. A certain NBA lottery pick, he blends big forward size with outstanding outside range, hitting for seven clutch three pointers against Pac Ten rival Arizona earlier in the year. Rumor has it, NCAA coaches from all over the country, including deposed UNLV leader Rollie Massimino (rumored himself to be founding his own, underground Massimino State University), have been spotted recruiting at O'Bannon family reunions.

Bold American #5: Arizona Guard Daimon Stoudamire

Thankfully for Lute, Stoudamire plays far better than his hideous tattoo looks on his shoulder. Perhaps the only player in the history of college sports to turn off his dorm room light and be asleep by the time his room is dark, Stoudamire's speed is his greatest asset on the floor. With the best point guard in the nation, Arizona will be dangerous come March, as a second consecutive trip to the final four is a real possibility.

Fictional Matchup of the Week

Welcome to our new offering, "The People's Court," which reminds you that if you have a problem with someone "don't take the law into your own hands, you take them to the basketball court."

This week's matchup features Orlando Magic All Star and player-coach Tree Rollins versus MIT President Charles M. Vest and Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

The issue: Tree Rollins's son, Branch, a prodigous young scholar in his own right, wants admittance to MIT as a sophomore in high school. Vest and Wrighton claim the younger Rollins requires further seasoning in the minor leagues.

The ruling: Whoever is the first to score 11 points in a two-on-one halfcourt game wins. Vin Scully, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers' broadcaster, presides.

The settlement: As Scully throws up the initial jump ball, Tree Rollins instinctively taps it backward into the awaiting hands of Wrighton who rifles the ball to the cherry-picking Vest under the basket for an easy two. The crowd, consisting of three senior officers of the Tau Beta Pi Honor Society goes wild.

Down by two, Rollins backs Vest into the paint and releases a patented hook shot which sails well off the mark. Further review of the play shows Wrighton viciously kicking Rollins in the right shin as the shot is taken, but Scully questionably whistles nothing.

Grabbing the rebound, Vest resets the play and whips the ball to the Provost at the top of the key. Pointing to Rollins's hobbled right leg mockingly, he effortlessly hoists a perfect three pointer giving the MIT squad a 50 lead.

On the ensuing possesion, Rollins "checks" the basketball to Wrighton expecting a gentle bounce pass in return. Instead the Provost fires the ball at Rollins' injured shin, drawing an instant technical foul from referee Scully, but the message is clear - he is here to win.

Rollins misses the awarded free throw and the three fans remove their shirts to reveal the letters T, B, and P painted in maroon across their respective chests. Rollins, notably flustered, peers over to his young, bespeckled son on the sideline faithfully waving a "We're #1" slide rule. Smiling, he drives to the hoop for an easy layup.

Taking the ball at the arc, Wrighton drives hard to his right and fires a behind-the-back pass to Vest for an open 15-footer. Vest drains it and pumps his fist twice. Realizing he's lost the momentum, Tree Rollins calls timeout.

In the interest of time we flash forward to the end of the game, the MIT duo hold a 97 lead. Two of the fans have left in order to complete their 6.170 assignments. We now join the game in progress:

Rollins hits a 12-footer to tie the game at nine apiece. Vest takes the ball out. With a Tim Hardaway-like crossover, the President breaks past Rollins and lays a smooth pass over to Wrighton.

Rollins recovers to deflect Wrighton's offering out of bounds. Following his role model Shaquille O'Neal, the Provost punches Rollins in the thigh with a glancing blow that Rollins shrugs off. Nonetheless, the damage is done, Wrighton is ejected.

Tree Rollins then nails the following free throw amidst the uncalled for heckling of one fan and takes the ball at the top of the key. Forcing a hook shot outside of his normal range in the face of tenacious defense, Rollins appears distraught as the confident Vest grabs the rebound and resets the play at the extended foul line. Sticking his tongue out a la Michael Jordan, Vest fakes to the left and unleashes a high arcing 17-footer that appears to be on target.

But Tree Rollins, old warrior and proud father, is never out of the play. With about as much grace as a 7-foot, 280-pound, 39-year-old can muster, he leaps, picking the ball out of the air at its highest point, turns 360 degrees in midair and dunks the ball with authority. The fan lies silent.

Tree Rollins has won.

Trivia

Congratulations to Steven Chan '95 and Darren Timothy G for knowing that UNLV's closest game in the 1990 tournament was a two point win in round 16 against Ball State.

This week's question also comes from the world of college basketball: In Connecticut's miraculous last second win against Clemson in the 1990 tournament, whose jumper beat the Huskies, and who threw the full-court pass to make it possible. Send answers to bell@mit.edu.