Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Morning Briefing Eye Openers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Morning Briefing Eye Openers

Article excerpt

The Russians Are Coming: And coming. And coming. They're taking on the Air Force Academy. They're hooping it up in Rhode Island. They're running and gunning with the Hartford Hellcats and Southwest Texas Bobcats. They're executing a fast break through Wal-Mart.

Twenty men's and women's teams from the former Soviet Union are touring America. Doing what? Playing basketball or buying blue jeans?

The NCAA permits schools to play one exhibition basketball game against a club team and one against a foreign team. USA Basketball, the nation's governing body for the sport, sanctions the games with foreign clubs. Sports Tour International makes arrangements for the bulk of the teams.

LEE FREDERICK, president of Sports Tour International, told JOHN MAHER of the Cox News Service: "The Greeks, the French and the Italians won't come over. Teams from Eastern Europe will. They like to shop."

For a fee ranging from $1,000 to $15,000, a U.S. school gets an exhibition game that can be turned into an extravaganza.

Said Frederick: "We bring the circus to town. We make sure the schools play the national anthem of the foreign team and have their flag."

Usually, the foreign players speak at least a little English. Tour guide JOHN FERRIS said in trying to communicate with players, he talks slow "and uses a lot of small words." One thing that never is a problem is the ordering of food. The foreign teams prefer buffets.

"They eat like truck drivers," Ferris said.

When they aren't eating, they shop till they drop. Once, Ferris reports, there was fear of a casualty. Unable to locate a player in a Wal-Mart, Ferris put a teammate of the missing player on the store's PA system and, in Russian, the call was sent out for Igor. He was in the kitchenware section.

*****

Those Gutty Little Bruins: Under cover of darkness, somebody climbed the 50-foot tall letters of the HOLLYWOOD sign in Los Angeles and, using sheets, changed the letters to read GO UCLA. Before the sun reached high noon, though, police had removed the sheets. The Bruins meet Southern Cal today at the LA Coliseum in the annual crosstown football rivalry.

LYLE SPENCER of the Riverside Press-Enterprise attended UCLA and recalls how big a November Saturday can be when UCLA and USC meet, often with the Rose Bowl berth on the line. …

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