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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

This Monkey Caught the Last Train to Clarksville

March 22, 2001|SHAV GLICK

What extra motivation will Kansas Coach Roy Williams come up with before his team's Sweet 16 game Friday against Illinois?

Cognizant that his Jayhawks had lost three consecutive years in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Williams shocked his team last weekend by pulling a stuffed toy monkey out of a paper bag and inviting his players to take turns knocking it off his back.

"I told the guys I was tired as heck of answering questions about second-round losses," Williams said. It worked. Kansas crushed Syracuse, 87-58, on Sunday.

Wanda Williams, the coach's wife, found the stuffed animal at a nearby mall. When she brought it home and showed it to her husband, he said, "Don't tell me it looks like me."

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Trivia time: Who was UCLA's first consensus All-American basketball player?

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What next? From Bob Hille in the Sporting News on Bob Knight considering suing Indiana University for inflicting emotional distress: "Then he will file a worker's comp claim that Neil Reed's throat caused his carpal tunnel syndrome."

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More Knight: Rocky Mountain News columnist Bernie Lincicome has this to say about Knight's expected return to coaching at Texas Tech:

"Knight surely will become the coach of basketball out where dust is a condiment and the wind is a wall. Knight is going to land in a place that blows harder than he does."

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Evaluation: Before free agent and future hall of famer Rickey Henderson joined the San Diego Padres, New York Met Manager Bobby Valentine was asked why no one had seemed willing to sign him.

"Probably because people don't think he's very good," snapped his former manager.

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Team colors: Former Chicago Cub first baseman Mark Grace says he is beginning to feel at home with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I think I look good in purple," he said. "It matches my underwear."

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Food report: Milwaukee was voted the "worst road city for food" in a survey of NBA players, but New Jersey Net forward Keith Van Horn didn't let it go at that.

"It seems all they serve is bratwurst and sauerkraut," said Van Horn, a native of Fullerton.

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Soccer suds: After Carling, a British beer, dropped its sponsorship of the English Premier League soccer, Anheuser-Busch offered to pay close to $100 million to become the new sponsor.

When the deal fell through, the Amateur Athletic Foundation SportsLetter noted, "Surely, the league is relieved; now it doesn't have to worry about fans rioting over the fact that they actually have to drink a beer from the colonies."

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Looking back: On this day in 1946, the Rams ended the NFL's 12-year ban on black players when they signed former UCLA halfback Kenny Washington. He was 27 at the time and played only three seasons, rushing for 859 yards and nine touchdowns in 140 carries.

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It's outta here: Since 1900, there have been 199,936 home runs hit in the major leagues--104,367 in the American League and 95,569 in the National League.

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Hit and miss: From Detroit News columnist Joe Falls: "My XFL viewing is down to the six seconds I happen to stumble on its games while flipping through channels."

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Trivia answer: Dick Linthicum, in 1931 and 1932.

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And finally: Pro basketball experts seem agreed that if he can get a release from the Chinese national team, 7-foot-6 Yao Ming will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. And if so, Wang Zhizhi the Dallas Mavericks' pick in 1999, will come along.

"Perhaps Mark Cuban could hire Hugh Rodham to negotiate with Chinese authorities," suggests Blackie Sherrod in the Dallas Morning News.

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