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Poll Shows the Parity in College Basketball

February 05, 1989|JIM O'CONNELL | Associated Press

The lastest AP college basketball poll caused quite a stir throughout the country. It furthered the claims of parity throughout the sport and also allowed many more people to claim their team was No. 1.

Oklahoma became just the third team to actually hold the lofty ranking this season but two more had a chance for it last weekend and six were listed atop at least one ballot in the 66 cast by the nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Duke was picked No. 1 in the preseason poll and the Blue Devils held that spot for nine straight weeks before suffering three straight losses and dropping to the more crowded air of the Second Ten.

"I personally thought there were 10, 12, 20 teams that deserved to be ranked that high but we were ranked that high and we had to deal with that for a couple of months," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

"Overall, I think it was good for our school and our program. But as far as the development of our team it hurt us in that we didn't really understand how hard we would have to play defense to be very successful and we were a different team than we were last year. These past two weeks have been eyeopeners for us."

At least Krzyzewski was in the high rent district long enough to have enjoyed the view and get used to the air.

Illinois followed Duke into the No. 1 spot. It was the Fighting Illini's first week there in 37 years and then they lost to DePaul four days later and didn't return until this season.

Minnesota was the 1989 nemisis, beating Illinois just four days after it assumed the No. 1 spot. Even a victory over Indiana that snapped the Hoosiers' 13-game winning streak wasn't enough to keep the Fighting Illini from dropping to No. 2 behind the Sooners.

As with Ferry's back injury, Illinois could point to the loss of starting guard Kendall Gill to a broken foot as a reason No. 1 was hard to keep.

"I hope they at least have enjoyed it for one day," Henson said on the day Illinois assumed the top spot and the day Gill's broken metarsal was confirmed through X-rays. "Starting today, they won't have time to think about it because we have other things to do."

When told his second-ranked team missed a chance to take over the top spot following a loss to LSU, Georgetown Coach John Thompson said: "Do you remember who was No. 1 last January? Nobody does but everyone remembers who was in the Final Four."

Louisville was next in line for a crack at No. 1, but the Cardinals were defeated at home by Ohio State. In the first half of the game, the Louisville lost leading scorer Pervis Ellison.

Billy Tubbs is altogether different in how he treats the No. 1 billing.

Oklahoma followed the Cardinals in the poll and the Sooners used an impressive victory at Nevada Las Vegas to jump three places and become No. 1 for the first time in the school's basketball history.

After his first game with a No. 1-ranked team, a 90-82 road victory over Kansas State, Tubbs started to sound like many other No. 1 coaches.

"I'm not sure I ever thought about being number one during the game at all," he said Wednesday night. "That was exciting for us till about two p.m. Monday. I don't think our players or our staff really thought much about it. We knew we had business to take care of, so we just let it go at that."

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