Josh Rhodes & Bobby Knight

Iowa freshman basketball player Josh Rhodes says he "has lost interest in playing college basketball'' and has gone home to California. Suddenly, the Hawkeyes' roster is down to nine players--not enough to hold a five-on-five scrimmage. Read about it, plus much more, in Ron Maly's latest column.

Suddenly, Iowa doesn't have enough players on its basketball team to hold a scrimmage.

The Hawkeyes' roster was reduced to nine players today when freshman forward Josh Rhodes returned to his home in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Rhodes' departure followed the exit of forward Marcellus Sommerville by less than a month.

Although other ex-Hawkeyes have blamed Coach Steve Alford for their decision to leave, Rhodes didn't.

He said he's quitting Iowa "because I have lost interest in playing college basketball.''

The beleaguered Alford, whose team had a disappointing 19-16 record last season, is probably getting tired of talking about why his players have become disenchanted.

"It's unfortunate that Josh has made his decision to no longer be a part of our program,'' Alford said. "Josh has decided not to pursue his academic and basketball future at Iowa.

"He feels it is in his best interest to return to his home in Santa Cruz. I want to repeat what I've said many times before, and that is, we need to have student-athletes who are committed to our program and to obtaining their college education. We wish him the best.''

Said Rhodes, a 6-7, 215-pounder who averaged 20 points and 12.8 rebounds while helping Santa Cruz High School to a 26-6 record last season: "My decision to return home is based on the fact that I have lost interest in playing college basketball.

"This is a personal decision that I have to address and is no way a reflection on the Iowa basketball program. The support and encouragement I have received from Coach Alford, his staff, the Iowa players and the Iowa fans only made this a tougher decision.''

The story you've just read can be regarded as "breaking news'' – as the TV folks like to say.

In other words, they haven't been in any newspaper yet.

Following are a few other collegiate basketball items that have been ignored or poorly reported by the newspaper hardly anyone depends on:

Abe Lemons, who won 599 collegiate games and had 599 or more one-liners, died this week at 79.

Lemons coached twice at Oklahoma City, and also made stops at Texas and Pan American in his 34-year career. He was well-known in Iowa.

Lemons grew up in the southwestern Oklahoma community of Walters. According to a wire service story, after his center snared only one rebound in the first half of a game, Lemons told him, "That's one more than a dead guy.''

While coaching at Oklahoma City, Lemons tried to recruit Johnny Bench, who was from the Oklahoma town of Binger and went on to an outstanding major league baseball career.

"I told Bench once, ‘If you had come with me, you could be the principal of a high school by now.'''

He once told Howard Cosell, the late sportscaster, "You may be big in New York, but in Walters, Okla., you're nobody.''

Lemons didn't make many rules, and used a story about former player Bud Koper to illustrate it.

Prior to a game at Southern Methodist, Koper didn't show up for the pregame meal. That would be reason for some coaches to suspend a player.

But not Lemons.

Lemons didn't say anything about it, and Koper scored 44 points against SMU.

"I asked Koper after the game why he didn't show up to eat, and he told me he wasn't hungry,'' Lemons said. "If I had a rule that said you couldn't start or couldn't play if you missed a pregame meal, then we would have lost the game. Sometimes it's better not to have that many rules.''

Oh-oh.

Bob Knight admitted he shoved someone. And Knight, the former Indiana coach and present Texas Tech coach, is $25,000 lighter in the wallet.

Now, that's a story. Knight will pay Ron Felling, one of his former assistants at Indiana, $25,000 after admitting he shoved Felling in anger.

"I think it was clear when we walked out that we had called his bluff,'' said William Potter, Felling's attorney, to the AP. "It harkens back to the playground, and when we called his bluff, he backed out.''

Knight's lawyer, Russell Yates of Denver, said Knight agreed to the deal because it was a business decision.

Felling originally asked for $1 million. Yates said he convinced Knight it would make sense to pay $25,000.

"By my estimate, it would have cost us about $100,000 to defend him in trial and win,'' Yates said.

Potter said Knight also agreed to cooperate with Felling in a lawsuit against Indiana. The lawsuit, charging battery by Knight, alleges that the university was negligent in supervising Knight.

Felling, 60, was fired Dec. 1, 1999 after claiming Knight overheard a conversation. Felling said Knight called him into the basketball office, then berated him in front of other assistants. When Felling attempted to leave, Felling said Knight shoved him into a TV set.

Charlie Spoonhour, a former coach at Southeastern Community College in Burlington, has been given a one-year contract extension at UNLV.

Spoonhour, 63, signed a three-year contract in 2001 that will pay him $140,000 in both the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons. Then extension covers the 2004-2005 season, and Spoonhour's salary for that year will be determined later.

In 17 seasons as a Division I coach, Spoonhour has a 340-182 record. He was 21-11 last season at UNLV. He has also coached at Southwest Missouri State and St. Louis.

Ron Maly

vol. 2, No. 56

Sept. 4, 2002

[Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com ]


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