Up there in college basketball's top 10, two starting players in two days gone as tournament time closes in: Freshman center Kenny Fields, first string through 16 UCLA games, dropped from the team. And now Steve Ray, junior wing man for Tennessee, discovered to have acute colitis, probably is finished for the season.
Ray didn't play in Saturday's 79-72 win over Vanderbuilt -- and neither did Vandy's top gun, senior forward Charles Davis, 61 points shy of Clyde Lee's Commodore career scoring record. Coach Richard Schmidt benched Davis and sophomore guard Jimmy Gray because they violated team rules by ordering $17 worth of barbecued ribs sent to their hotel room before the game. Besides, said Schmidt, "I told Charles . . . I was tired of seeing him make faces and gestures when he's taken out of a game."
Davis and Gray were livid following the loss to the Vols. Davis cracked that the coach "must be smoking angel dust or something because he's crazy." Gray said his lack of playing time "represented stupidity" on Schmidt's part.
By yesterday, Schmidt had called the two into a meeting, after which, delcaring them "an embarrassment to our program," he suspended them for Vandy's next two games in the Southeastern Conference -- where the Commodores have lost eight of their last nine.