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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Conversation Is Officially Off the Record

March 22, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Last January, Hunt Archbold of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser-Journal called the usual number to join one of the twice-weekly Southeastern Conference basketball coaches' teleconferences.

The operator, however, mistakenly patched him into a teleconference between SEC referees and the league's supervisor of officials, John Guthrie.

Here are some of the things he heard while choosing to leave out names:

--"You know you can't out-talk [Louisiana State Coach] Dale [Brown]."

--"Sometimes we do a good job of establishing ourselves early, but then we get in a comfort zone."

--"I wasn't mean enough."

--"Don't worry about the foul ratio."

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Trivia time: Which is the only school to have won the men's NCAA basketball championship one season and then not play the next season?

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High-flying name: Phoenix Coyote forward Jeremy Roenick on the strangest autograph request he has had:

"I did sign an airplane once for one of my buddies. I had to use a big pen with both hands."

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Passing parade: Tracy Ringolsby in the Rocky Mountain News: "How big a black hole has left field been in the Kingdome? Center fielder Ken Griffey has played alongside 46 different left fielders in his eight-year major league career."

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Nowhere man: Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Dispatch, who recently observed that the Blues' Joe Murphy had gone without a goal since Jan. 29: "Murphy will undergo an MRI today to see if he still exists."

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Wait a minute: Pirate catcher Jason Kendall on teammate Mark Johnson in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I wish I was like Mark Johnson. He's like Ted Williams, Rod Carew, Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn. Right now he's the best hitter I've ever seen in my life."

Advice to Kendall: Get an eye test.

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Hard to believe: When one of his players returned to the North Carolina basketball team after sitting out a year because of grades, Coach Dean Smith once said: "We've created a monster. Now he wants to study more than practice."

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Shhh, it's a secret: Seattle center Jim McIlvaine made his first career three-point shot in the SuperSonics' 123-97 victory over Denver on Thursday night. "Big Mac practices that shot every day in practice," Nate McMillan said. "He's our secret weapon."

He has been a secret. After signing a $35-million contract, McIlvaine, primarily a shot-blocker, has averaged 3.9 points and 3.9 rebounds.

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Looking back: On this day in 1967, Muhammad Ali knocked out Zora Folley in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden in New York to retain his heavyweight boxing title.

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Trivia answer: Wyoming. The Cowboys won the title in 1943 but did not play the next season because of World War II.

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And finally: Phoenix Sun forward Cedric Ceballos said Houston's Charles Barkley must play two more years.

"He'll need a year to win [an NBA championship] and a year to brag about it."

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