Basketball fever hit George Washington University yesterday. An optimistic Colonial rooter bought six tickets for the championship game of next month's Eastern Eight tournament at Pittsburgh.
The Colonials, 15-6, play tonight at Rutgers (WINX-1600, 8 p.m.); in the first of three straight road games against teams with combined 29-1 home-court records. After that, the fans should know whether he made a wise investment to beat the rush.
If form holds, there will be no rush at Ft. Myer tonight for the American U.-Navy game (WNAV-1430, 8 p.m.). And that is too bad, because the only major game in the area tonight pits two sound teams with three standout players.
In an Atlantic Coast Conference game tonight, Clemson visits Virginia.
This is an important week for GW, 4-4 in league play. The Colonials need at least a split at Rutgers and at Massachusetts on Saturday night to insure a high seeding in the Eastern Eight tournament. The third road game is a week from tonight at intracity rival Georgetown.
GW has won 10 of its last 12 games, losing twice to league-leading Villanova. In that steak is a 91-77 homecourt victory over Rutgers. The Colonials hit 60 per cent from the field in that contest.
"All we've got to do is shoot like we did the first time and we've got it made," said GW coach Bob Tallent.
At Rutgers, fever also is on the mind of Coach Tom Young, whose 17-5 team also has won 10 of its last 12 although losing by 17 points Saturday to North Carolina.
Young is worried about the health of his team. It is in the midst of the flu epidemic that has been striking eastern basketball teams. The flu has struck hard at Rutgers, with 60 percent of the 18,000 students ill, according to Young.
Fortunately, center James Bailey and forward Abdel Anderson, two of Rutgers' best players, have escaped the illness. The other positions are up in the air tonight and 6-5 guard Steve Heferle is out with a sprained ankle, Young said.
Similar styles make AU (13-10) and Navy (13-9) an interesting matchup. The teams live and die by how consistently the other players supplement the teams' stars - AU freshman Russell (Boo) Bowers and Navy's inside tandem of Hank Kuzma and Kevin Sinnett.
Navy clinched its second straight winning season by beating Lycoming on Monday night. The last time Navy accomplished back-to-back winning records was 16 years ago. Mid coach Bob Hamilton is worried by his team's return to making too many turnovers, a negative factor with the Mids earlier in the season.
Kuzma is on a hot steak, having made 18 of 23 shots and averaged nine rebounds in his last two games.
He and Sinnett are exceptional rebounders for their size and this is AU coach Jim Lynam's No. 1 worry: that the Mids do not get many second and third shots.
Navy won the first game between the teams, 60-45, this season in the Tipoff Tournament. The game was closer than the final score, with Navy spreading its offense with a slight lead and making its free throws when AU tried to play catchup.