THE All-College Tournament died a glorious death Saturday night.
The tournament of Bill Russell and Pete Maravich and Karl Malone went out the best way it should. Void of players destined for the Hall of Fame, the 2000 All-College offered something better.
Oklahoma beat SMU 79-78 in overtime at the Myriad in a battle of flawed but fascinating teams.
And the All-College is no more, at least not as you've known it since it was played at old Municipal Auditorium, which to my generation is the Civic Center Music Hall and to the kiddos is a building they never go to.
Next year, the All-College goes classic, which is a fancy word for controlled. Basketball is a tournament sport - compare high school state tournaments and the NCAA Tournament to the NBA playoffs, and you'll see what I mean.
Next year, the All-College can save money on hardware. No trophies needed. The schedule will be determined. The Sooners against, hopefully, a big-name program one night; Oklahoma State, hopefully, against a different big-name foe the next. Whole lot of hoping going on.
But it's nobody's fault. That's life in college hoops. High finance. Political posturing for post-season play.
The All-College was living in the past, trying to cling to long-gone glory. A classic gives it a fighting chance.
And if a tournament had to go, this was the way. Super game. Super finish.
The Sooners, who staged a miracle overtime win over Arkansas last weekend, pulled off another Saturday night special.
SMU led by 10 points in the second half, but OU rallied in a fashion that by now should come as no surprise.
The Sooners are a little mysterious. They've got a bunch of good players, and we long ago learned that Kelvin Sampson can coach a little, but something's amiss.
And no, it's not lack of a center. OU doesn't have one, but that only puts it in a very big club.
It's something more. Maybe it's chemistry or a clue on how to play or, like the rest of the Sooner nation, just a preoccupation with football. Who knows?
Either way, it's more aggravating than alarming for Sampson.
His squads often are velvety in December and sabertooths in February. Remember two Decembers ago, in another All-College Tournament.
The Sooners survived Western Kentucky only because Eduardo Najera sank two foul shots with no time remaining to force overtime. That OU team reached the Sweet 16.
The Sooners have no center but have enough big forwards to play with most teams and enough good guards to beat most.
SMU was solid. Courtside NBA scouts claimed they were there to see three players in the tournament. All Mustangs.
SMU doesn't have a center, either, but had talent and plenty of it. This is a team that might beat out Tulsa and TCU for the Western Athletic lots of smaller talent.
So call it a good win for the Sooners and a fitting farewell for an event that now enters a new dimension.
This was such a good game, we offer it the highest All-College praise. This is the way it used to be.
Berry Tramel can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Archive ID: 834115