THE power in college volleyball has long resided on the West Coast. Earlier this month, however, Penn State University won the men's national championship in Fort Wayne, Ind., breaking a 24-year monopoly by California schools and a 27-match winning streak for UCLA.
Penn State's victory was special in and of itself, but the upset also gave the Nittany Lions the lead for the Directors Cup, a new year-long competition established by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The award goes to the school with the best results in 10 core sports each for men and women, as well as one wild-card sport for each gender.
Using a points formula based on championships, Penn State holds a narrow lead over Michigan in the final weeks of the college sports year. Rounding out the top 10, in order, are UCLA, Stanford, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arizona, and Texas. Ewing, Wilt, and Dagwood Bumstead
SEVERAL quick observations about New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing as the Knicks take on the Indiana Pacers tonight in Game 2 of the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference final (New York prevailed 100-89 in the series opener):
* There once might have been a time that Ewing's size, power, and court demeanor would have made him the obvious villain for opponents and fans - a modern version of Wilt Chamberlain. As it is, Ewing is surrounded by enough guys with street-tough images - John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Greg Anthony - that he has become less threatening, even likable in the public eye.
* No player in the playoffs can be under as much pressure as Ewing. Ever since entering the league in 1985 he's been viewed as the Knicks' meal ticket to their first championship in more than 20 years, and now the end could be in sight. Despite Ewing's value to the Knicks, though, he was fifth in balloting for the league's Most Valuable Player, which went to Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon on Tuesday. Olajuwon and Ewing could meet in the NBA Finals.
* Ewing is obviously no Dagwood Bumstead when it comes to making his own midnight snacks. ``I couldn't go to sleep,'' he said of the night before New York's Game 7 conference semifinal victory over Chicago. ``I woke up my wife and asked her to fix me something to eat.'' Patrick, it appears, is still learning about domestic independence. St. James in the running at Indy
LYN ST. JAMES has herself a car and a team that could put her in the thick of Sunday's Indianapolis 500. After qualifying at 224.154 m.p.h., she will start on the outside of the second row in a Lola-Ford, right behind '93 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.
Bob Walters, the speedway's public relations director, says anybody in the first three rows usually has a shot at the checkered flag. St. James, a working mother with a 10-year-old daughter, was Indy's Rookie of the Year in 1992, when she finished 11th. Gear-box problems forced her early exit last year.
Janet Guthrie, the only other woman to start the race, broke Indy's gender barrier in 1977. Her personal best during three successive appearances in the race was ninth in 1978.