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SEC has big part in Series

By wire services
Published June 18, 2004

OMAHA, Neb. - Four SEC teams, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas, will be at Rosenblatt Stadium when the College World Series starts today.

"I thought when I walked in here that we were in Birmingham at the Southeastern Conference tournament," Arizona coach Andy Lopez said Thursday.

Only once, the SEC in 1997, had a conference put four in the Series. Nine of 12 SEC teams made the 64-team field.

"It's a conference that has administrators who care about baseball, and resources are provided," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said.

Lopez, in his third year at Arizona after coaching Florida the previous seven, said college baseball is good in the West, Southwest and Southeast. But there is something special about the SEC, he said. Every weekend conference series is a big event in modern stadiums with big crowds.

"That's what really is missing on the West Coast," Lopez said. "It's an electric conference. It inspires young guys to play even better than they can at times. I lived it for seven years. There is no margin for error, no mercy, no grace."


DRAFT: Saint Joseph's guard Delonte West stayed in the NBA draft, giving up his senior season. Thursday was the last day for early entrants to withdraw. An honorable mention All-American last season, he averaged 18.9 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Meanwhile, LSU forward Brandon Bass withdrew his name to return for his sophomore season. The SEC freshman of the year started all 29 games, averaging 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds. Lawrence Roberts, the SEC's player of the year, said he will return to Mississippi State for his senior season.

UCLA guard/forward Dijon Thompson will return for his senior season. He led the Bruins at 14.4 points per game.

Washington guard Nate Robinson will return for his junior season. He averaged 12.4 points and led the Huskies to the Pac-10 tournament title. And Martin Iti will return to Charlotte for his sophomore season. The 7-footer averaged 6.0 points and 4.7 rebounds last season.

ARKANSAS: Lawyers for Nolan Richardson and the school submitted one-page arguments for a judge to consider. The trial, in which Richardson said he was fired because he is black and exercised his free-speech rights, ended Wednesday. But lawyers were allowed to add details they left out of their closing arguments.

Richardson's lawyer said the university failed to offer evidence that anything the coach ever said harmed the school. A university attorney said athletic director Frank Broyles' use of a racial slur is not evidence of racial animus.

CALIFORNIA: Guard Omar Wilkes announced he will play for the Bears. Wilkes, who announced his intention to transfer from Kansas two months ago, averaged 3.5 minutes in his only season. After sitting out this season, he will have three seasons of eligibility left.

[Last modified June 18, 2004, 01:13:22]


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