The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 13, 1997 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Tuesday, May 13, 1997
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Page 11
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TUESDAY MAY 13, 1997 THE SAUNA JOURNAL CLASSIFIED / B4 FUN / B7 ALMANAC / B8 T COMMENT T COLLEGE BASKETBALL PAUL FINEBAUM Scripps floimrd News Swire Kentucky-Smith era begins UK sends message with hiring ~The splendor of this spring begin when Tiger Woods burned dpwh the color barriers in golf with his stunning victory at Augu&ta National. It had all the quiet syfnbolism of a Saturday night ctos&burning in Philadelphia, Miss;.' ;• That monumental event occurred two days before the nation paused to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in ma- jOr league baseball. ; Now, Monday, a black man named Orlando "Tubby" Smith was hired by the University of Kentucky to fill a job formerly Held by Adolph Rupp, whose tolerance for blacks rivaled that of Bull Connor. • Someone said over the weekend that old Kentucky home had been changed so dramatically that Rupp Couldn't recognize it. Well, it's about time. It's about time the world finally is waking up and hiring people based on their ability instead of the color of their skin. ; I'd pay money to go out to the cdd cemetery and see the sound and fury near Rupp's grave, as the old miscreant turns over and over \#ith the' thought of a black man in His chair. ; Now that Kentucky has made this move, do you think Alabama and Auburn ever would have the rierye to hire a black man in such an important position as, say, head basketball coach? Probably not. Why hire a talented black man such as Tubby Smith when you can have a boring white stiff such as David Hobbs? Makes no sense. None at all. If Ole Miss can do it, why not Alabama? Rob Evans, who was Ole Miss' first black coach, ^won the Southeastern Conference's Western Division this year and was named the league's Coach of the Year. How many votes Hobbs did get for the honor? Can you count to zero? I am a firm believer in hiring the best person for the job, whether the person is black or white, Jew or gentile, Protestant or Catholic. ijut let us hope this will be an eye a bpener. Having said all of this, I disagreed with some factions wh1q;§aid Alabama should have hired Woody McCorvey to be head football coach over Mike DuBose. True, he is a black man. And he is qualified. It would have sent a heckuva statement to the rest of the college football world. Unfortunately — at least, for McCorvey — DuBose was the better choice. After watching USC running back Sam Cunningham riddle the Crimson Tide at Legion Field in 1970, Bear Bryant quipped: "Cunningham did more for integration in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years." Was it an exaggeration? However, through action rather than rhetoric, people saw something and understood. Kentucky basketball has grown to understand as well. The fans still cherish the great tradition started and left behind by Rupp. But Rick Pitino has taken Kentucky basketball to a different level. A higher level. The young, brash New Yorker didn't end the Rupp era. He simply started a new one. Alabama football fans haven't quite mastered that in terms of Bear Bryant. Then again, has anyone at Alabama ever gone and tried to hire the best coach available instead of someone that looks, talks and walks like Bryant? There is nothing wrong with wallowing in the Bryant era from now until the end of time. But Kentucky chose to move forward and it worked. Remember, the man who took the Kentucky program forward, Athletic Director C.M. Newton, was hired by Bryant at Alabama. These are changing times in sports. The barriers of yesteryear are being torn down. Tradition is always important in any family or business or university. But progress is more important. Kudos to Newton for searching the nation and hiring the best man for the job. In this case, it just so happened the man was black. Former Georgia coach becomes first black men's coach at UK By MIKE EMBRY The Associated Press LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tubby Smith has already made history as the new coach at Kentucky and was ready for the question about it the moment it was asked. "It's more important that I be judged on my character and the content of my character than the color of my skin," Smith said Monday after he was introduced as Rick Pitino's replacement. Kentucky's history has been tarnished by its reluctance to recruit black players, especially during most of Adolph Rupp's 42- year reign as coach of one of college basketball's most storied programs. Rupp's all-white team that lost to Texas Western, a squad that started five blacks, in the 1966 NCAA championship game came to symbolize segregation in college basketball. And that's one of the reasons Smith realizes Kentucky's hiring of SMITH the first black men's basketball coach is so important. "Just like I mentioned to everyone that is a Kentucky Wildcat fan, there are blacks that also are interested and excited because I am a black head coach," Smith said. "That is quite an honor." While Rupp may have been a victim of the times, he wasn't successful in recruiting a black player until Tom Payne in 1969, three years before he retired. Rupp's son, Herky, said his father would have welcomed Smith as coach. "He would have gone up and shaken his hand and congratulated him," he said. "He would have wished him well and he would have volunteered to be able to help him in any way he could." Kentucky women's basketball coach Bernadette Mattox, who is black, didn't think race was an issue in Smith's selection. "My feeling is they put the best person in the position for the job," she said. Smith received a five-year contract, but financial terms were not disclosed. However, he reportedly would increase his salary from the $605,280 he would have received at Georgia next season to more than $1 million. "He was the only candidate that we interviewed," said UK President T HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL DAVIS TURNERThe Sallna Journal Salina South junior Sara Mitchell delivers a pitch against McPherson in the first game of a doubleheader Monday at South High. South pitchers muzzle Mac Mitchell, Hamel also get plenty of offense in sweep of Bullpups By LARRY MORITZ The Salina Journal So what if they weren't playing for the 1-70 League title. Members of the Salina South girls softball squad still managed to take care of business Monday afternoon during a nonleague doubleheader with McPherson. The Cougars were coming off a huge sweep of Topeka West last week to clinch their sixth consecutive league championship. But South showed no signs of a letdown, coming up with one of its biggest offensive displays this spring in the 12-0 and 12-2 sweep. "It was a pretty good day, but maybe not our best," South shortstop Jessica Watson said. "Today we weren't as enthusiastic as we were against Topeka West, but hopefully we'll get tuned up for regional next week." "Against Topeka West, I thought we put together two great games," South coach Daryl Hoelting said. "There was a lot of emo- •AMWUl. tionandalot *"••••••" riding on McPher»on o 2 tnose ga mes. Sallna South 1212 But sometimes after games like that, you might see a letdown or the edge is off." That never happened. South's single run in the first would have been ample offensive support for junior pitcher Sara Mitchell in the opener. Mitchell faced the minimum 15 batters in the five-inning game, giving up a two-out, first-inning single to Shawna Katzer for McPherson's only hit. Katzer was picked off first when South catcher Kendall Powell threw behind the runner. Mitchell's RBI single off the pitcher's glove and Megan Daily's run-scoring single made it 3-0 South in the second inning, before the Cougars sent 13 batters to the plate in the third to break things open. Karmen Hannebaum got things started with a leadoff triple. Powell, Watson and Michelle Stein all had RBI singles, while Kelli Deuth drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single and Leah Wahlgren had three RBI in the inning with a single and a double. Watson was the offensive catalyst in game two. Her first-inning double drove in two runs and was the first of her four hits in the game. She also had an RBI triple in the third inning, and needing a home run to hit for the cycle in the fifth, Watson instead got her second triple of the game. Deuth added two singles in the second contest to finish the day 5 for 6 at the plate with five runs scored. Hannebaum had a second triple in game two for her fourth hit of the day. McPherson scored a run in the first on Heather Nippert's RBI single, with Kalzer driving in the Bullpups' second run with a fifth- inning double. Nichole Hamel improved to 8-1 with the complete- game five-hitter. "I thought Sara was dominating in the first game and Nichole did a good job in the second," Hoelting said. "The defense was there and we got hits when we needed them. I'm looking forward to our last two games and regional, because I think we're playing pretty well right now." South, 16-2 and winner of six straight, will close the regular season with a home doubleheader at 3:30 p.m. Thursday against Hutchinson. BIRD Knights clinch top seed in regional Sacred Heart sweeps Ell-Saline team that played without seniors By BOB DAVIDSON The Salina Journal Sacred Heart softball coach Barry Fritz felt sympathy for the player-depleted Ell-Saline Cardinals. But business is business. Sacred Heart swept a doubleheader from the Cardinals Monday at Bill Burke Park, winning the first game 13-5 and the second 21-3. The two victories give the Knights a final 16-4 regular-season record, the No. 1 seed in next week's Class 3-2-1A regional tournament and assure them of a first- round bye. "We had to have both victories to clinch the number one seed in the regional," Fritz said. "It's nice to have the first-round bye." Ell-Saline played without five players, including three seniors who are at Padre Island, Texas, on their senior trip. Among the missing seniors were starting pitcher Marcy Atkinson and starting catcher Melinda Griffin. The absences left the Cardinals men at third Ell-Saline 5 3 base, short- Sacred Heart 13 21 stop, second base, pitcher and designated hitter. "It would have been nice if Atkinson was pitching and they had their lineup," Fritz said. "But we have to play the schedule out. The players they had did the best they could." ' Anne Weese and Courtney Ash each had three hits and two runs batted in the first game. The Knights scored 12 runs in the first three innings against freshman pitcher Kim Taylor. The Cardinals were hampered by eight errors in the first three innings. Ell-Saline (7-11) scored three in the top of the second to trail 5-3, but couldn't keep pace with the Knights' offense. Ell-Saline had 10 hits in the first game and eight in the second against Sacred Heart pitcher Kristen L'Ecuyer. "We had a lot of freshmen playing, but the girls played well," Ell- Saline coach Tammy Thaxton said. "That's the best we've hit the ball all year. Everyone was hitting, not just a couple of players. "Our freshmen hadn't played at the positions they were playing. But I was happy with their attitude. They remained positive and had fun." Shannon Lutz had three hits for Ell-Saline. The second game was tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the third inning. That's when the sky fell on the Cardinals. Sacred Heart scored 16 runs on 12 hits three walks and an error. Five of the Knights' hits were bunt singles. Ginger Brown drove in five runs in the inning with two triples. Sara Wells had a two-run double and Kellen Ratcliff a two- run single. Brown had four of the Knights' 16 hits. "It was hard to get (excited)," Fritz said. "We knew their seniors weren't there. We didn't play with much emotion and weren't into it in the first game. "The second game we did some different things. We hit the ball and ran and played with some emotion. We put down some bunts and got some runners in. We played smarter and more heads up." Taylor, who also took the loss in the second game, led the Cardinals' offense with three hits. Ell-Saline concludes its regular season with a doubleheader Thursday at Russell. Charles T. Wethington Jr, before the UK Athletics Association approved the appointment. "He is truly the choice of this administration for the filling of this position of basketball coach." Smith planned to meet with returning players in the next few days. "My philosophy is based on love,' family and discipline," he said. "I'll challenge them to raise the bar an-' other level and work even harder than they have in the past." Smith said he has talked to parents of this year's recruiting class. "I think they're all pretty positive," he said about the coaching change. T PRO BASKETBALL Bird back home in Indiana Former Celtic great returns to home state to coach NBA's Pacers By STEVE HERMAN The Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS — Larry Bird arrived on the private jet of the team's owners and took a limo downtown. Perhaps the most celebrated player ever to come out of basketball-mad Indiana, Bird returned home Monday to take over as coach of the Indiana Pacers, the team that passed on a chance to draft him in 1978. "I'm very happy to be back home and have an opportunity like this to come to my home state ... and hopefully try to get to the finals like I was few times," Bird said at a news conference at Market Square Arena. Once a shy Hoosier country boy, the self-styled "Hick from French Lick," Bird is certain to fill Market Square Arena by virtue of his name alone. Making a winner out of the Pacers is far less certain. This is the first coaching job for Bird, a 12-time NBA All-Star with the Boston Celtics. It is also the first time the Pacers have picked someone with no coaching experience. But Pacers president Donnie Walsh said again Monday he wasn't concerned by Bird's lack of coaching experience. "We want Larry back because he's going to help us win ball- games," Walsh said. "That's what the NBA is about." Bird isn't worried, either. "I have all the confidence in the world I'll be able to handle these guys and do the things that are necessary to win games," he said. Bird was a Celtics special assistant — mainly scouting — for the five years since a bad back forced his retirement. Walsh approached him after Larry Brown hinted he might not be back. Brown, with two years left on his contract, quit and joined the Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers twice reached the Eastern Conference finals under Brown and twice won a franchise- record 52 games before sliding last season. They got off to a bad start because of the absence of Rik Smits and clearly missed guard Mark Jackson, who was traded in the offseason. Even after Smits returned and Jackson was reacquired at mid- season, the Pacers still finished 39-43, missing the playoffs for the first time since 1989. Brown shouldered much of the blame and Walsh began looking for a replacement. The 6-foot-9 forward grew up in the tiny southern Indiana town of French Lick, about two hours south of Indianapolis. He enrolled at Indiana in 1974 to play for Bob Knight. But even before practice started, he slipped out of town without even telling Knight. Life at the school was not for Bird. He enrolled at a small school near his home, worked part time on a garbage truck and might never have played in college if not for Bill Hodges, then an assistant coach at Indiana State. • NBA playoffs / Page B3 SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjnews@saljournal.com

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