Saturday, March 16, 2002

NIT: Tark retires. And --unlike John Chaney-- Andy Wojnarowski has no love for Tark:

It was his first trip back to The Strip as Fresno State's coach, and Jerry Tarkanian walked courtside at the Thomas & Mack Center, counting the hours until tipoff. Suddenly, he turned wistful. What there had moved Tark, you wondered. What had triggered the melancholy washing over him?

It had to be the national championship banner, right? Perhaps Larry Johnson's retired No. 2 jersey? Maybe Tark heard the distant sounds of one of those brilliant victories: The band blasting the shark song, a sellout crowd serenading him with the chants of "Re-bels, Re-bels."

As it turned out, that would be asking too much of the man. Far too much.

Back in the winter of the 1995-96 season, Tarkanian lifted the shade into his soul. He pointed to a luxury box, a suite school officials apparently gave him as part of his package and which he sub-leased.

"They gave us a box for $20,000 a year, and we used to lease it out to the rodeo," he told me. "And we'd make something like $24,000 -- or $26,000? -- on the rodeo people."

"Yeah," Tarkanian sighed, "this place is really special."

That first link there suggests that Tark's presence in Fresno is responsible for getting a new arena there, even though they never really won anything under his tenure. I guess that counts for "putting Fresno State on the map."

NIT Watch: Villanova and Temple: still alive. Princeton lost by a point. I usually pull for Princeton post-season, the basketball team anyway --the lacrosse team wins far too much.

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