The Way I See It

Pat Bigold

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Great week of hoops
marred by ‘the Worm’

IT was a great basketball weekend. Buckeyes, Huskies, Blue Devils and Spartans.

But then it rained, and out crawled The Worm.

I couldn't be happier about the Connecticut vs. Ohio State matchup in the Final Four in St. Petersburg.

For this Massachusetts native, it's a win-win situation.

If Jim Calhoun's Huskies finally break through to the Promised Land, then I finally have a New England team to cheer for in the final.

But if the Buckeyes make it into the final, I might find even more personal satisfaction.

First, Ohio State is coached by Jim O'Brien, who is only two years removed from coaching Boston College, has a thick Bay State accent and is so damned unassuming that it's impossible to dislike him.

Running his offense is a kid from Salem, Mass., named James "Scoonie" Penn. (Yes, Massachusetts expatriates, there is life after Chris Herren).

Riley Wallace yesterday told me he thinks the Buckeyes will face Duke in the final.

He picked both to get this far in my March 9 column. Duke was the easy one, but you've got to give Wallace some credit for taking the Buckeyes, seeded fourth in the South regional, and suspect in rebounding.

He confided that part of the reason is sentimental.

Ohio State's 1997-98 record (8-22) was just about as bad as Hawaii's (6-20) was this year.

Another sentimental attachment is that the younger brother of Wallace's promising Yugoslavian recru

it, 6-6 guard Pedrag Savovic, plays for Ohio State. That's freshman guard, Slobodan Savovic.

Got to like Ohio State. The script says Duke's unbeatable, but if "Shakespeare In Love" can pull it off, so can the Buckeyes.

SO much for talk about team effort. Let me turn to The Worm.

I was reading what Kurt Rambis said Sunday in Orlando, and it made me want to vomit.

Rambis was asked if Dennis Rodman had assured him that he would not leave the team again, and the Lakers' coach responded, "I don't think anybody can make those assurances."

He said he didn't want to speculate on what would happen if Rodman decides to up and leave again.

"We'll have to cross that bridge if and when it happens ... I'm not going to sit here with hard and fast rules to what happens in future situations."

Get me the bucket.

I'm sick to think so many kids admire this character's "individuality." Now he has a coach to play his fool.

Rodman was gone eight days and Los Angeles lost three of four road games without him in that span. Yet Rambis isn't about to say anything that might upset his star nutcase.

Hey, Kurt, wait until Rodman takes a hike during the playoffs to find himself again.

At least Converse Inc. showed more backbone dealing with him. When Rodman violated the sponsor's "terms of behavior" in a $15 million contract, it dumped his sorry tattooed butt. Don't the Lakers have a behavioral clause in his contract?

It was disturbing Sunday when Rodman tried to upend the Orlando Magic's Matt Harpring after Harpring had left his feet under the basket. That's a tactic designed to flip a guy over on his head.

I don't care that Rodman, who enjoys wearing dresses, got a weird technical for blowing a kiss to the Dallas bench last night. I don't care what color his hair is when he plays or if he shows up in high heels.

But, someone had better do something to prevent this clown from maiming the saner athletes he plays against.

Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.

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