Meet Moses Malone, MVP candidate; baseball Yanks hit the basepaths

If the National Basketball Association handed out MVP ballots tommorow, Moses Malone might wrestle the award away from the likes of Larry Bird, Julius Erving, and Sidney Moncrief. It's hard to imagine any player being more valuable to his team, or sustaining such a long hot streak.

Houston's 6 ft. 10 in. center scored 30 or more points in all but one game in February. The rampage included several out-and-out spectaculars, such as the three-game string in which he scored 45, 53 (an NBA season high), and 47 points.

The beauty of Malone's play goes beyond just points, however. He may be most dangerous as a rebounder. In scoring 53 points, for example, he also grabbed 22 rebounds, and on another occasion, he outrebounded the entire Seattle team 32-29 . His reputation, in fact, was built by sweeping the boards, especially at the offensive end.

Unlike some players, Moses has never gone after the eye-opening statistics as an end in themselves. A team man through and through, he's upped his scoring to boost the Rockets, whose February winning percenate of .786, not coincidentally, was the best in the franchise's 15-year existence. Run, Yankees, run The New York Yankees hope to sport a new look this season, with more speed and less power. To help out, the club hired Harrison Dillard to work as a spring training running instructor this week. An Olympic sprinter in 1948 and 1952, he once beat team owner George Steinbrenner in the hurdles.

This transformation should make the Yankees a little more like the scratch-and-claw Oakland A's, whose hustling brand of baseball was labeled ''Billyball'' last year. The inspiration behind this coined word, of course, was Manager Billy Martin, twice fired by Steinbrenner as the Yankee boss. 'Mildcats' in basketball too Colleges that do poorly in football generally try to redeem themselves on the basketball court. Northwestern University knows it isn't easy. The Wildcat football team has won just three football games during the past six years and not had a winning season since 1971, but the basketball team is completing its 13th straight losing campaign.

Small home crowds, an outdated arena, and high academic standards can make recruiting a real challenge. To top things off, McGaw Hall will soon undergo extensive renovations, forcing the basketball team to find temporary quarters all next season. Coach Rick Falk, however, is confident that a larger, modernized facility will help down the line. Rough play in the NBA Anyone who tuned in last Sunday's pro basketball telecast saw Boston's Larry Bird catch a vicious elbow to the head. The accidental blow was delivered by Milwaukee's Harvey Catchings, not with intent to harm but as the hair-trigger reaction of a rebounder in traffic. In the wake of the incident, which has sidelined Bird for several games, the Boston Globe came out with an article about the possible need for an ''enforcer'' to protect the Celtic superstar.

Bill Fitch, Boston's coach, responded to the idea in the negative. Besides feeling Bird can take care of himself, he also believes the heavy penalty meted out to Kermit Washington for striking Rudy Tomjanovich during the 1977-78 season has made any sort of retaliatory acts ill-advised.

The league has moved wisely to snuff out obvious court violence, yet referees must remain on the lookout for attempts to rough-up star players through covert acts of intimidation. Touching other bases

* George Allen, who once assembled the Washington Redskins' veteran-laden ''Over the Hill Gang,'' has become pro football's ''Over the Border'' executive. The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League have made him their new president, chief executive, and part owner. He expects to make a decision about whether to coach the team soon.

* What do Davis Cup tennis matches have in common with painting the Golden Gate Bridge? When you're done, it's time to start over again. The cycle never ends.The United States, for example, just regained the cup in December, yet a new team goes back into action against India this weekend in Carlsbad, Calif.

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