World travel aids college basketball teams; Rozelle-ian outlook

If college basketball coaches begin to rush to travel agencies after the current season, don't be surprised. They'll just be looking for a good group rate on an overseas trip. After all, if the Bradley and Indiana University teams can benefit from off-season travel, why not other schools?

Both teams have been enjoying better-than-expected seasons, and part of the reason may be the extra time spent living and playing together on overseas tours last summer.

Indiana, which is in contention for the Big Ten championship after a so-so 1985 season, hit the road last June, visiting 11 countries, including China, during a five-week around-the-world trip. The journey incorporated 18 games along the way and may have helped build the cohesiveness lacking in last year's squad.

Bradley's improvement has been even more dramatic, partly because so little was expected of the Peoria, Ill., school. The Braves, though, have been a much-improved team since last summer's 18-day swing through Italy. They have made a quantum leap from their 17-13 mark of a year ago and now boast a best-in-the nation 31-1 record and a Top 10 ranking.

Coach Dick Versace believes the team's success really grew out of all those 14-hour bus rides and long talks the players had in Italy. ``It's like something out of `Little Women,' '' he says of the newfound togetherness. Cut the confusion in NHL

Will the National Hockey League ever drop those perplexing divisional designations -- Adams, Patrick, Norris, and Smythe? They are a constant source of confusion, and they make no sense now that teams are grouped in a geographically logical manner. Sure, it's nice to pay tribute to some of the sport's luminaries, but they have not been forgotten. The league honors the memory of these men -- Jack Adams, Lester Patrick, James Norris, and Conn Smythe -- in other ways. Adams, a longtime coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, has a trophy bearing his name, which is presented to the NHL coach who contributes the most to his team's success. In like fashion, the Lester Patrick Trophy is awarded for outstanding service to hockey, the James Norris Memorial Trophy to the best all-around defenseman, and the Conn Smythe Trophy to the most valuable player in the playoffs. Rambling Rozelle

Pete Rozelle, commissioner of the National Football League, recently shared the following observations:

Rather than penalize the home team for disruptive crowd noise, the league will further explore the use of radio transmitters and receivers in the helmets of offensive players.

The league probably won't expand again until the next collective-bargaining agreement and TV contract have been signed, at which time two cities will likely be added.

Team owners are unanimously opposed to absorbing any USFL clubs in a merger.

Players may dislike artificial turf, but the NFL claims it is often powerless to dictate the surface used, either because a stadium authority makes the decision or simply because grass won't grow in domed stadiums.

The league is encouraged by the growing acceptance of its TV highlight shows among British fans and hopes to schedule an exhibition game between two 1985 playoff teams at London's Wembley Stadium next summer.

The NFL opposes the possible legalization of casino gambling in Louisiana, but it will keep the 1990 Super Bowl in New Orleans regardless. Houston's Lewis to retire

After 30 years as the University of Houston's basketball coach, Guy Lewis is retiring and taking his trademark red-and-white towel with him. It's been a long and successful run, especially for someone who just wanted to settle down and raise cattle after his 1947 graduation from Houston. Regardless of how his present, lackluster team does in this week's Southwest Conference tournament, Lewis will wind up as the 11th-winningest coach of all time, with nearly 600 victories. To a degree, however, he will unfairly be remembered in some circles as a coach who couldn't win the big one. In 1968, his Elvin Hayes-led team went 31-0, only to lose the semifinal and consolation games in the NCAA tournament, and three years ago his powerful Phi Slama Jama contingent was upset in the finals by North Carolina State. There were other occasions, too, when Lewis was second-guessed, but as he liked to point out, you've got to win big games to play in others, and the drawling Texan won his share.

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