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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

And Now, Today's Anatomy Lesson From the Big East

March 26, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Providence basketball Coach Pete Gillen was explicit in relating how competition in the Big East prepared his team for the NCAA tournament:

"They stab you in the eye with a can opener in the Big East. They kick you in the groin. It's hard to relax when someone is carving out your gallbladder with a scalpel, or when you have your prostate wrapped around your ear lobe."

Do you suppose he meant they play a physical style?

Trivia time: Other than Wilt Chamberlain, how many NBA players have scored 70 or more points in a regular-season game?

Cheap shot: Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun on President Clinton requiring surgery after injuring himself at Greg Norman's estate: "Maybe Bubba tripped over one of those six-stroke leads Norman tossed away."

Outside opportunity: Pepsi signed a $50-million deal that makes it the official soft drink of major league baseball. Among other things, the soda company will stage a contest in which one of the prizes is a chance to throw out a ceremonial pitch before a World Series game.

Said Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune, "So, Cub pitchers do have a chance, after all."

Round 'em up: Phoenix Coyote forward Jeremy Roenick on the NHL trading deadline: "This is the time of year when you really feel like cattle."

NIT-picking: Gary Shelton in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: "You know what it's like playing in the NIT while the NCAA tournament is going on? It's like being Thomas Edison's brother on the day he invented the light bulb and having someone turn to you and say, 'Yeah? And what did you do today?' "

Sign maker needed: On the fringe of the University of Kentucky's campus, there's a historical marker dedicated to the late Adolph Rupp. The marker starts: "Winningest coach in history of college basketball."

Now that North Carolina's Dean Smith has that honor, will the marker be revised or removed?

FYI: Paul Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Kevin Elster, the Pirates' new shortstop, who batted ninth most of last year for the Texas Rangers, "had 92 RBIs, the most in major league history by a No. 9 hitter."

Looking back: On this day in 1973, Bill Walton scored 44 points as UCLA won its seventh consecutive NCAA basketball championship, defeating Memphis State, 87-66.

Trivia answer: Three: David Thompson, Denver, 73 points; Elgin Baylor, Lakers, and David Robinson, San Antonio, 71 each.

And finally: Canadian reporters thought they were interviewing Drew Bannister, the player the Edmonton Oilers received in a trade from Tampa for Jeff Norton.

As a joke, however, Edmonton General Manager Glen Sather had brought in a young man from the team's auditing department. The impostor answered questions for three minutes before Sather gave it away.

"Never seen so many red faces," Sather said.

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