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Wednesday, June 10, 1998

Two days off and Jazz, Bulls to wrestle

AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) -- Back on the basketball court, Dennis Rodman
won't be able to slap a half-nelson on Karl Malone. At least
not a legal one.

No flying drop kicks or picking up a chair and bashing the
Utah Jazz star over the head. Or throwing him through the
ropes and stomping on his neck. Or putting him in a sleeper

Those are tactics employed in one of Rodman's many other
lives. The would-be wrestler -- ``Rodzilla'' as one Chicago
newspaper tabbed him -- paid a visit this week to a pro
wrestling show, making a cool $250,000 for his appearance,
even though he didn't actually grapple.

As the NBA Finals resume tonight with Game 4, Rodman will
instead push and shove and grab and hold while guarding
Malone. The man of many tattoos, hair colors and body
piercing has won seven rebounding titles playing that way.

``Karl Malone can't beat me off the dribble. He's basically
an awkward player,'' Rodman told an NBA employee as he
returned to practice Tuesday.

``He's just an average player to me. If the referees let me
play, I can play Karl Malone 24-seven (24 hours a day, seven
days a week) -- every day of the week.''

Rodman had no explanation for blowing off practice Monday
and then ending up in a Detroit-area wrestling show with
Hulk Hogan. He refused to talk to reporters, but avoided
another $10,000 fine by speaking with the league employee.

It's just his latest episode of child-like behavior from The
Worm, one that caused a stir during the two-day respite
since Game 3.

``The thing that is interesting about Dennis is that the
kids like him because they see that behavior all the time.
You'll find kids from age 7 down are naturally attracted to
Dennis,'' Bulls coach Phil Jackson said, perhaps capturing
Rodman's essence.

Malone and the Utah Jazz aren't worried so much about Rodman
as they are finding a way to play the kind of basketball
that got them to the finals. They face a 2-1 deficit
entering tonight's game and must play again at the United
Center on Friday night.

After a record-setting 96-54 loss in Game 3 in which they
were beaten worse than any team in finals history while
scoring the fewest points since the inception of the shot
clock, the Jazz need some offense.

Maybe Rodman's antics and comments will serve to inspire

``If I had beaten someone by 40 points of whatever, I don't
think I would do that,'' Malone said.

``You look at things, the way they happen, and I really,
truly don't think they're taking us seriously at all. When
you see things like that, it makes you want to play a little

The Bulls will take the Jazz seriously, realizing that the
Game 3 blowout by 42 points was more than likely an anomaly.
The Jazz committed 26 turnovers and other than Malone, who
shot 8-for-11, were inept.

``Any team that loses that badly, especially in the
playoffs, is embarrassed,'' Chicago's Steve Kerr said.

``I'm sure they will play as hard as they have ever played
and we have to be ready. If we are at all too loose or
overconfident, we could find ourselves in trouble, lose the
game and all of a sudden it's 2-2 and they have the
home-court advantage.''

Chicago's defense, featuring a floating Scottie Pippen,
who's doubling on Malone or John Stockton, has caused Utah's
signature screen-and-roll offense more trouble than it's
experienced all season, maybe the last two.

``We just have to be aware of what they are taking away and
find out what they might be giving up. Then you have to deal
with it,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.

``If we can't do that, then they will win the game.''

Rodman has been coming off the bench for the Bulls since the
Eastern Conference finals, and his production in this series
has been way down -- no points and 10 rebounds in Game 1,
three points and nine rebounds in Game 2, two points and six
rebounds in Game 3.

He has defended Malone when Luc Longley has gotten into foul
trouble. He helped limit Malone, who hit his first six shots
in Sunday's opening quarter, to just five field-goal
attempts the rest of the game.

During his three years with the Bulls, Rodman has usually
been able to put his lifestyle on hold while he plays, even
though he's not having a great series.

``No matter what Dennis does away from the game, when he
steps on the floor, he's ready to play,'' Malone said.

``Some people can't do that. And he's proven he can. So I
think they just let him do his own thing and tell him just
to be ready to play when he comes to play.''

The Jazz hope to have the same attitude tonight.

Top bowl game to be chosen

Roy Kramer paused after talking for nearly 10 minutes,
explaining each part of the new four-cornered plan the Bowl
Championship Series will use to determine the two teams in
college football's national title game

``If I haven't lost all of you in the process, I'll take
questions,'' Kramer, chairman of the BCS and commissioner of
the SEC, said Tuesday at the start of a lengthy conference

The Bowl Championship Series, formerly the bowl alliance,
decided to use polls, three sets of computer ratings,
strength-of-schedule and won-lost records in an attempt to
``rate and identify the teams best qualified to play in a
national title game.''

The system awards points in each of the four categories and
the teams with the lowest point totals will play in the
Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.

In the past, the BCS relied mostly on The Associated Press
media poll and the USA Today-ESPN coaches poll to determine
its top teams.

But the new formula will now include computer rankings
published by The New York Times and Seattle Times and
ratings compiled by Jeff Sagarin and a complicated
strength-of-schedule analysis.

``We're moving into the age of computer analysis in all
aspects of life, so this is a sound objective system we've
put together,'' Kramer said,

Asked if the plan was too complicated for the average
football fan, Kramer said: ``It's no more so than a football
writer trying to figure out who to put No. 9 and No. 4.''

The champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12,
Pacific-10 and Southeastern conferences all receive
automatic bids to one of the four BCS games -- the Fiesta,
Rose, Orange and Sugar. The new system also will determine
which two at-large teams will be included, which is where
Notre Dame and leagues such as the WAC and Conference USA
come in.

The BCS ratings will include either 10 or 12 teams, and
won't be announced until mid-November because ``that's when
strength of schedule statistics become realistic.'' There
will be no final standings after the title game.

``As far as we're concerned, the winner of the game is our
national champion,'' Kramer said.

The AP releases its final poll after the bowl games, as do
the coaches.

Last year, the new system would have worked perfectly, but
only if the Rose Bowl had been part of the equation.
Michigan and Nebraska would have finished with the lowest
point totals in the BCS standings and would have met in the
title game. Instead, there were split national champions
when both finished with perfect records.

``No system is perfect,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said,
``but I think we're all in the same boat. I know there's
been tremendous thought and planning that has gone into it.
I'm optimistic it will work well.''

Kramer said that Brigham Young, which finished the 1996
season 13-1, would not have qualified for the BCS because it
did not rank in the top six of the standings, due mainly to
a strength-of-schedule that ranked 76th in the nation. BYU
ended up in the less lucrative Cotton Bowl.

Kramer believes the most important part of the new plan is

``It was our feeling that teams who excelled against strong
schedules should be rewarded,'' Kramer said. ``In a way,
this should send a message to coaches that strength of
schedule is a factor if you want to qualify for the national
title game.''

Here's how the system will work:

-- Polls: The ranking of each team will be added and divided
by two. For example, a team ranked No. 1 in one poll and No.
2 in the other would receive 1.5 points.

-- Computer rankings: An average of the three computer
rankings will be taken, with a 50 percent adjusted deviation
factor included in case of major differences. For example,
if a team is ranked No. 3 and No. 5 on two computers and
12th on another, the highest ranking of No. 12 would be
adjusted to No. 6 before calculating the points. In this
scenario, the team would get 4.67 points.

-- Strength of schedule: This will be calculated by
determining the cumulative won-lost records of the teams'
opponents and the cumulative won-loss records of the
opponents' opponents. The formula will be weighted
two-thirds for the opponents record and one-third of the
opponents' opponents record.

When all the calculations are complete, the number is
divided by 25.

For example, if a team's schedule strength rating is 28th,
that team would receive 1.12 points.

-- Team record: Each loss will represent one point. All
games are counted, including Kickoff and Pigskin Classics
and conference title games.

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