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February 6, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, February 6th, 2003

by Brian Seymour

Say what you will about Bobby Knight and there’s probably not a word in the English language that hasn’t been said about the man, but he can coach some basketball.

And in the end, that’s what the General’s 800th win Wednesday evening was about — a throughly well-prepared, well-drilled team pounding its opponent into submission.

Knight’s Texas Tech squad thoroughly handled Nebraska, 75-49, to make Knight only the fourth coach in Division I history to post 800 career victories. Knight is in his 37th season as a head coach, having started his career at Army and of course, spending most of his seasons at Indiana, winning three national championships in Bloomington.

With a little bit of luck and some good health, Knight could very well pass Dean Smith’s 879 wins and become the winningest coach of all-time around the time the current crop of Red Raider freshmen are approaching the end of their senior season in 2006.

Oh yeah, the game over Nebraska — the Red Raiders (13-5, 3-4 Big 12) jumped out to a 28-7 lead on the overmatched Cornhuskers and pretty much never looked back. Andre Emmett’s 24 points led Texas Tech.

Nebraska fell to 9-12, 1-7. Buck up, Cornhusker fans — it’s national signing day for college football and only seven months until college football season starts.

Side Dishes

Duke win tops “rivalry” matchups: So it’s “Rivalry Week” huh? ESPN throws up some fancy graphics to hype this week’s matchups and we’re supposed to drop everything to tune in to watch Louisville-Cincinnati? There’s a classic rivalry — goes back almost a whole decade.

How about some of the other games this week? Florida-Kentucky? A compelling matchup to be sure, but not a rivalry, not in the universe I live in. Gonzaga-Pepperdine? Stop the presses!

Seriously, at least one matchup this week is a big time rivalry and last night’s Duke-North Carolina game did not disappoint. The No. 11 Blue Devils rallied for a 83-74 victory over the Tar Heels in Durham, N.C. The lopsided final score was not indicative of how close the game actually was.

Certainly, the shine is off this particular rivalry a little bit given the struggles at UNC, but the Tar Heels put up a game effort and gave notice that the subsequent matchups in the rivalry aren’t going to be cakewalks for the Dukies, who have now won six straight over North Carolina (11-10, 2-6) .

Calhoun-less UConn struggles: As my Hoopville colleague Adam Shandler very eloquently put it on Tuesday Jim Calhoun is facing the challenge of a lifetime as he fights prostate cancer and it looks like his team might be feeling some ill effects from their coach’s sickness.

The No. 18 Huskies were pounded, 95-74, by Virginia Tech, to the glee of the fans in Blacksburg who stormed the court after the game. Of course, the Huskies (13-5, 4-3 Big East) have been struggling lately in general, now with three losses in their last five games.

Marcus out for season: A difficult — to put it mildly — senior season for Chris Marcus has come to an inglorious end.

The 7-foot-1 senior center for Western Kentucky announced that he’ll take the advice of his doctors and sit out the rest of the season to rehabilitate a broken bone in his left foot. The injury limited Marcus to play in only four games this season.

Western Kentucky has struggled at times because of Marcus’ absence and limited ability, posting a 13-8 record after being ranked in many preseason Top 25 polls.

Marcus was the subject of considerable hype after averaging 12.7 points and 12.1 rebounds his sophomore season, but the foot injury slowed him significantly last season, limiting him to 15 games and rendering him vulnerable in a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Stanford last year.

Now, Marcus will spend the coming months rehabbing and seeing what the future holds for his NBA hopes. One thing is certain — he’ll be playing in the NBA somewhere next season. Seven footers don’t grow on trees.

“I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to coach Chris,” WKU head coach Dennis Felton said. ” “He certainly has had a major impact on our basketball program and on the university. I wish him well in his recovery and we all look forward to seeing him enjoy a long and prosperous career in the NBA.”

Tonight’s Menu

“Rivalry Week” continues with some real HUGE “rivalries”.

• Underrated North Carolina State travels to No. 15 Wake Forest, who will put its 11-0 home record on the line.

• No. 2 Arizona makes its case for reclaiming the top spot at Washington, who will likely be overwhelmed by the Wildcats.

• No. 8 Maryland hosts Virginia in what should be an entertaining ACC matchup.

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