News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 22, 2011

RAMBLIN' RECK: At this point, not safe to be No. 1 in the polls

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — It hasn’t been safe to be the No. 1-ranked team in the college basketball polls this season, with parity prevailing in the ranks.

Duke, the reigning NCAA champ, had been No. 1 in earlier polls but fell out. The Blue Devils moved back to the top Monday after Kansas, Ohio State, Texas and others lost last week.

In spite of its loss to Purdue, the Buckeyes remain in first place in the Big Ten and have a good chance to be the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.

Purdue is in second following its impressive victory over the Buckeyes but has games at Indiana and Michigan State this week, while OSU has home games with Illinois tonight and with IU on Saturday.

Missouri Valley Conference men’s teams close out the regular season this week after not doing so well in the BracketBusters games last week, losing some close games in the process.

Southern Illinois, Bradley and Drake were the Valley teams to win.

ISU has games at Northern Iowa and at home against Southern Illinois in the final week. UNI lost to a fine George Mason team in Cedar Falls last week.

• Honor for Mann — West Vigo High School will honor one of its own Friday night when the boys basketball team plays Linton.

The gymnasium — built 50 years ago we understand — will be named the Jim Mann Green Dome.

Mann served as athletic director at the school for umpteen years and remains a regular at sporting events.

He’s a friend of mine who was of great help providing transportation — to Indy more than once — when I was laid up and without a car. We’re glad to see him being honored by the school.

And alumni activities are rescheduled for Saturday at the school prior to the final game with Rockville. We understand about 60 men have signed up to play basketball.


• Tom-Cattin’ It — West Terre Haute teenager Blake Fitzpatrick is off to a great start in the U.S. Auto Club sprint series, finishing second in two of three features run in Florida last week. He is sixth in the early point totals.

• Garrett Wittels’ bid to break Robin Ventura’s all-time hit streak in college baseball ended in Wittels’ season opener at Florida International. His streak ran 56 games, two shy of the Ventura mark.

• Pop idol Justin Bieber was MVP in a celebrity game played in connection with the NBA All-Star Game. He had eight points, four assists and two boards with the losing team.

The West won the regular game 148-143 with Kobe Bryant the MVP.

• South Putnam defeated Lighthouse Christian for its first boys basketball victory of the season.

• New Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson has lost four assistants since taking the job.

A former IU aide, Curt Mallory, is a new member of the Michigan staff.

• In the USA Today girls prep basketball poll last week, Ben Davis was No. 8 and third in the Midwest Region. The Giants, of course, lost to Carmel last weekend.

• Heritage Christian’s Basil Smotherman Jr. says he will play college basketball for Purdue. The 6-foot-5 player is averaging 14.4 points and shooting 58 percent from the field.

• Mark Dooley writes from Georgia to report that son Justin is a starting guard and team captain for the Andalusia boys basketball team that heads into tournament play with a 30-2 record and No. 2 ranking in Class 4A.

Richard Robertson is the coach. He is in his 37th season and recently won his 700th game.

• Former ISU gymnastics coach Roger Counsil recently had his right leg amputated. He’s living in Las Vegas but may move back to Savannah, Ga.

Take care Roger.


Tom Reck may be contacted by telephone at (812) 232-3231, by email at and by mail at 4284 South 5th Street, Apt. 3, Terre Haute, IN 47802.