After 40 years and 642 victories as a college basketball coach, the scene in the University of Washington locker room was very emotional for Marv Harshman.
"I had to put something in my mouth, so I didn't cry too hard," Harshman said, less than a half-hour after Kentucky defeated his Huskies, 66-58, in the first round of the NCAA West Regional Thursday night at the Special Events Center.
Already, Harshman had forgotten the score of the game that put the Wildcats into Saturday's second-round game against Nevada-Las Vegas, which follows St. John's-Arkansas (WDVM-TV-9 at 4:30 p.m. EST). "I usually forget it right away," he said.
There was little good to remember about the Huskies' play in his final game. Star forward Detlef Schrempf had eight turnovers and the Huskies missed 10 of 16 foul shots. "I felt Kentucky deserved to win. They played better," Harshman said. "It may be my ego, but I like to think I was the best teacher of basketball. Sometimes, my teams don't look like it."
Harshman, 67, will keep his hand in the game. He has agreed to do some clinics overseas this summer and plans to work for two pro scouting combines. "That's going to take me about three months," he said. "I say I'm not going to work more than four, and hopefully three. The rest of the time I'm going to go fishing, cut wood and play golf, and try to do some of the things that I've done some and like to do, but time hasn't permitted."
Asked what he will miss most, Harshman said, simply, "The people."
Of his 1,090 games, Harshman recalls the score of only one: the last game John Wooden lost as coach at UCLA, in 1975. "He went on and won his last championship, and we beat him by 22 points, which was the biggest margin he was ever beaten by, at least in our league (the Pacific 10)," Harshman said.
"That's kind of a monument, because I feel he was the greatest coach there ever was . . . because it's toughest to coach when you have great talent."
In Saturday's opener, two of the nation's most talented centers -- neither of whom had good games against Georgetown's Patrick Ewing recently -- are paired when Arkansas' Joe Kleine faces Bill Wennington of St. John's.
Arkansas is vastly improved since a 56-39 loss to Georgetown in early February, mainly because its offense has matured under the direction of freshman guards Kenny Hutchison and Allie Freeman, according to Coach Eddie Sutton.
After watching Kleine score 25 points and get 14 rebounds in leading Arkansas to a 63-54 victory over Iowa Thursday, St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca couldn't stop praising his aggressive style.
"The way he played today, he would have given Ewing a tough game," Carnesecca said. "He was like King Kong. Guys were bouncing off him . . . "
Today, asked how he liked being compared to King Kong, Kleine replied, "He can say it as long as doesn't say I look like King Kong."
Sutton thinks Carnesecca is blowing smoke when he professes worrying about Arkansas' aggressive defense ("If they play the same way they played against Iowa, someone will have to get the Red Cross"). Sutton says that type of game would suit the Redmen better because "they're bigger and stronger than we are."
It appears Arkansas has the best chance to stop the Redmen's path to the regional final March 24 in Denver. Sutton says his team can beat St. John's in a game, but not in a best-of-seven series.
To win Saturday, Sutton says there are four keys: "Good defense without getting in foul trouble, containing Chris Mullin, rebounding and tempo. I'm glad we're not playing with the (shot) clock. We have to hold the score in the 50s or 60s. If it's higher, we're in trouble."
St. John's rented the University of Utah band (at $500 per session) to represent it here. Athletic Director Jack Kaiser explained that St. John's band is composed of high-school students "and ringers," as well as college students. It's handy that each school's colors are red and white, each team's mascot is an Indian and that the Utah band happens to have "New York, New York" in its repertoire.