Thomas on first team AP, UPI all-American

Thomas on first team AP, UPI all-American

By Bob Hammel, Tuesday Herald-Telephone

March 10, 1981

From the March 10, 1981 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

Sophomore guard Isiah Thomas was named to first-team berths on three major all-America basketball teams Monday, assuring him a spot on this year’s consensus all-America team.

Thomas also was the voting leader in balloting for the United States International all-Big Ten team. He received 9 first-team votes and 1 for second team from the 10 league coaches who participated in the balloting.

Indiana’s Ray Tolbert was named to the coaches’ all-Big Ten second team, and Randy Wittman received honorable mention.

DePaul, assigned to the tournament field that will play in the Mideast Regional at Indiana’s Assembly Hall March 20 and 22, headed both final wire service polls, as expected after the Demons’ nationally televised 74-64 victory over Notre Dame.

DePaul moved up from second after Arizona State dealt previous poll leader Oregon State its first defeat on Saturday.

The leader lists varied a bit below DePaul. UPI’s coaches kept Oregon State (26-1 to DePaul’s 27-1) second with Virginia (25-3) third, Louisiana State (28-3) fourth and Arizona State (24-3) fifth.

Indiana wound up No. 7 in the UPI poll and No. 9 in the AP’s.

The computer, however, gave the final-week turmoil – losses by 9 of the top 12 teams – even more consideration than the pollsters, and the Sagarin system devised by mathematician Jeff Sagarin wound up with Indiana surging all the way to first.

Sagarin’s computer output followed Indiana with North Carolina (sixth in both polls), Oregon State, Virginia and Illinois (18th in UPI’s poll, 19th in AP’s). DePaul wound up seventh in the computer findings.

Matyland, witch my be Indiana’s first NCAA tournament opponent, wound up 20th in the UPI poll, 18th in AP’s and 17th in the computer listing.

The Terps (20-9) have to win a first round game from Southern Conference Tournament-champion Tennessee-Chattanooga (21-8) to qualify for a game with Indiana at Dayton Arena Saturday afternoon. Game times finally were announced late this morning by NBC-TV, which listed the Indiana game for a 3:50 p.m. starting time, and the network said the game will be televised (Ch. 2, 13).

Thomas, who made the coahes’ all-Big Ten team last year as a freshman and received honorable mention on both wire service all-America teams, stepped up in stature this year after starting at guard for the U.S. Olympic team last summer.

He was announced a week ago as a member of the U.S. basketball Writers Assn. team.

Monday, UPI, AP and The Sporting News all came with their all-America teams, and the selections were similar.

DePaul’s Mark Aguirre, Virginia center Ralph Sampson and Brighton Young guard Danny Ainge joine Thomas in making all four teams announced so far.

UPI gave its fifth spot to Notre Dame’s Kelly Tripucka, who wasn’t on the writer’s team or on the three-deep AP or two-team Sporting News squads

AP’s fifth man on the first unit was a surprise: 6-8 junior forward Kevin McGee, who has ranked among the nation’s leading scorers and rebounders all season long.

The Sporting News polled National Basketball Assn. general managers to get its team and Aguirre was the oly unanimous selection. He also was the magazine’s choice as player of the year (after the USBWA opted for Virginia’s Sampson).

The TSN team wound up with six on the first team – Olympian Rolando Blackman (omitted from both wire service teams) and four-year Maryland star Albert King the other first-team picks.

Thomas led Indiana with 454 points, a 15.7 scoring average, and he also was tops on the club in assists (154, 5.3 a game) and steals (64). He was the No. 8 scorer in Big Ten play (16.4) and he also made the conference’s leader list in shooting (.532 for seventh), free-throw shooting (.786 for ninth) and assists (88 for fourth).

All of his conference marks but the assists figures were up from last year, when he veraged 14.2 points, shot .511 from the field and .759 on free throws and had 96 assists.

He is Indiana’s first sophomore to make the consensus all-America list , and he is the eighth Hoosier to do it, according to NCAA records. The lust includes two two-time selections, Scott May (1975 and 1976) and Kent Benson (1976 and 1977).

IU’s other consensus all-America players, as determined by the NCAA, were Branch McCracken (1930), Vern Huffman (1936), Ernie Andres (1939), Ralph Hamilton (1947) and Don Schlundt (1954).

The 10 consensus all-America picks ranks Indiana fifth among all NCAA schools. UCLA has had 17 consessus picks, with 11 different players involved; Notre Dame 16 (9 players); Kentucky 16 (10 players), and Purdue 15 (9 players).

As a sophomore, Thomas becomes eligible to join a unique list. Only 15 players in NCAA history have made the consensus tea,three times, and only two of those were from the Big Ten – Purdue’s Johnny Wooden (1930-32) and Ohio State’s Jerry Lucas (1960-1962).

Notre Dame had three players piucked in the 1930s- longtime athletic directoe Ed (Moose) Kraus (1932-1934), plus teammates Paul Nowak and Johnny Moir (both 1936-38).

Oscar Robertson (Cinncinati, 1958-1960) was the only state of Indiana product besides Wooden to be a three-time pick. Robertson played at Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, Wooden at Martinsville.

Sampson is the first Virginia player ever to make the consensus team, and Aigne is Brigham Young’s first in 50 years -since Elwood Romney in 1931. Aguirre and Mikan are DePaul’s only players to make the list.