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SPORTS: Butler's Bulldogs rule-and so does Marvin Harrison

December 4, 2006

Talk about the straw that stirs the drink. That youngster gives maximum effort every second. And while it's early, I'd stack Graves and his running mate, Michael Green, against any backcourt tandem in the country.

Though they couldn't come out and say it, the NCAA folks who now run the Preseason NIT had to be inwardly thrilled to watch Butler and Gonzaga University reach the championship game on the Madison Square Garden stage. Their rosters are filled with players who arrive with the intent (which usually becomes the reality) of staying four years and earning their degrees. These are not young men just passing through-or passing time-until they can jump to the NBA.

The offshoot of recruiting players who aren't fast-tracking to the pros is that they can truly develop as a team, rather than as a collection of individuals. Watching the Bulldogs, it is clear these players know one another well, and have a cohesion that transcends sheer talent.

There's a lot of season to be played and today's 19th-ranked Bulldogs might be tomorrow's memory, though I doubt that will happen. In any case, get out to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Perhaps you'll be reminded of how beautiful the game can be.

Next.

Was Marvin Harrison really throwing a "hissy fit"-as was claimed in the local daily-when he ran off the field just before halftime with his team lining up to kick a field goal, and later when he failed to pursue the Philadelphia Eagles defender who had stripped the football from him?

With regard to the former, Colts coach Tony Dungy says Harrison was going to the locker room early to get stretched (with the trainer's knowledge). In terms of the latter, Dungy says Harrison was anticipating a pass interference call that never came, which is why he didn't pursue the play.

So, either Dungy was lying to protect his player, or someone owes Harrison an apology.

In any case, this is much ado about very little. Call me a homer (not that I care anymore) but I'll take the word of Dungy-a man of unimpeachable character-over anyone else's.

The suggestion that Harrison, by his actions, "reduced himself to the lowest common denominator" is as ludicrous as it gets in a league where some players stomp on opponents' heads, berate their teammates and coaches, give their fans the finger, and showboat at every opportunity. Now that's the lowest common denominator.

Next.

Once again, someone explain to me what's so broken about college football that only a playoff can fix? This has been another extraordinary season and, I'm guessing, one that will again be marked by record attendance figures. Television ratings, especially ABC's Saturday night games, have been blowing through the roof. And whoever everybody's No. 1, Ohio State, plays in the national championship game, I'll be watching. And so will most of America.

Finally, my friend and former sportswriting colleague, Dick Denny, longtime scribe for the Indianapolis News, has written a book titled "Glory Days: Legends of Indiana High School Basketball." Thirty-nine Hoosier basketball stars are profiled, from Arley and Harley Andrews to Rick Mount to Monte Towe to George McGinnis to Sean May. It's a wonderful, easy-reading stroll down memory lane that illuminates both the subjects and Indiana's passion for the game. Anyone who embraces Indiana basketball will enjoy this book.



Benner is associate director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly.To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.
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