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March 27, 2006
Who was George Mason?
So the school that bears his name yesterday pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college sports history. But who was George Mason?
According to a National Archives biography, Mason was one of the most outspoken and influential delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. But Mason eventually refused to sign the Constitution, because he feared that it did not ensure proper citizen participation, and would eventually lead to a monarchy, or at least government by a small aristocracy. The Archives biography does credit Mason as one of the driving forces behind the inclusion of the Bill of Rights into the final document, and behind the 11th amendment, which placed limits on the power of the judiciary.
George Mason's basketball team, of course, has a New England connection -- head coach Jim Larranaga was a high scorer for Providence College from 1968 to 1971. It turns out the old Patriot has some regional significance as well; in 1774 he helped draw up the Fairfax Resolves, which stated the Colonists' constitutional arguments against the Boston Port Act.
So what's with the fuzzy green mascot? For a time, George Mason used a man in Colonial garb as its school mascot. But the university dumped the mascot when it decided that a white male character was not representative of its student body's diversity. For a time it adopted a gorilla mascot, and later a knockoff of Jim Carrey's character from the movie "The Mask." Eventually came "Gunston," a Phillie Phanatic-type creature that "may have been hatched from an egg found by the Sociology and Anthropology Department during an excavation at Gunston Hall, the home of the university’s namesake." OK, not such a great story, but the story of the Patriots' impossible drive to Indianapolis is much, much better.
Posted by mikemcd at 11:11 AM
March 24, 2006
BC-Villanova is one to watch
Villanova and Boston College meet tonight at 7:10, in a matchup that some have been waiting for since the tournament pairings were announced. Not only is this a classic clash of styles, it is a contest between the team that fled the Big East for greener pastures and one that stayed behind and had a great season. The Philadelphia Inquirer has this tip for folks who haven't seen much of Villanova this year: Sure, the Wildcats are known for their four-guard offense, but this is also a deep squad that can put some serious size on the floor when it needs to.
One of 'Nova's players to watch is Kyle Lowry, for his tremendous speed, his fiery play -- and his status as one of the premier flop artists in college basketball. While playing defense against Arizona on Sunday, Lowry sometimes looked as if he had been launched from a cannon when ballhandlers so much as invaded his personal space. A homegrown product from Cardinal Dougherty High School, Lowry nonetheless has some detractors in the City of Brotherly Love. One of them is Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, who says he was dissed by Lowry when the playmaking guard was still in high school.
Tonight is also a showcase for two of the biggest stars in BC's basketball history. One is Craig Smith, the powerful power forward who was once dismissed as soft. The other is frontcourt-mate Jared Dudley, an explosive player whom almost every major college program failed to recruit.
Posted by mikemcd at 3:50 PM
Tearful exits for two big stars
Gonzaga's Adam Morrison hugs coach Mark Few after
the Zags' stunning loss to UCLA last night.
Duke's senior star J.J. Redick is removed from his final game in the last minute
of the Blue Devils' loss to Louisiana State.
Television has always played into the emotions of college kids in the NCAA Tournament, and last night provided the cameras a double dose of sad footage. College basketball's two most heralded stars -- Duke's J.J. Redick and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison -- saw their seasons come to shocking ends within hours. First it was Redick's Blue Devils falling in a big upset to LSU. Then it was Morrison's Bulldogs, blowing a big lead in the second half against UCLA.
For Redick, it was the end of a remarkable career. He leaves as the top scorer in Duke's storied history, a guy who could be impossible to defend when his jump shot was on. But last night, it just wasn't. For Morrison, a 6-foot-8 junior who edged out Redick for the national scoring title, the speculation regarding his future plans begins now. The questions about his ability to make it in the NBA are likely to involve his ability to play defense against professional players. If he ends up returning, then Gonzaga -- long known as the little basketball program that could -- maintains big-time star power for one more year.
Unlike Redick, Morrison had his A game last night, contributing 24 points. In a classy move, UCLA's players helped Morrison, who had collapsed in emotional agony at the end of the game, off the court.
"He has no reason to cry," said Bruins guard Arron Afflalo, according to ESPN. "He's a great player and he's going to have a great career."
Posted by mikemcd at 9:40 AM
March 23, 2006
'Horns, Mounties in classic rematch
Rick Barnes' Texas Longhorns will relive one of their most exciting wins of the season tonight, when they face West Virginia in the semifinals of the Atlanta Region. Texas beat West Virginia by one point in late November, and the Mountaineers should be well motivated when the teams meet again at 9:40 tonight.
Kevin Pittsnogle, the Mountaineers' smooth-shooting center, missed the front end of two one-and-one free throw opportunities down the stretch, contributing mightily to the West Virginia loss. The Dallas Morning News' Chip Brown reports that Pittsnogle doubted himself after that game, and he'll certainly be looking to improve on the 9 points he put up against the Longhorns.
Texas should have a big advantage inside in this game, but West Virginia is peaking at the right time, just as it did during its Tournament run last year.
Posted by mikemcd at 2:18 PM
Time for "Baby Shaq" to become a man
Louisiana State is every bit the underdog tonight against top-seed Duke in the Atlanta Region. But the fourth-seeded Tigers are not to be counted out, and the biggest reason is unquestionably 6-foot-9, 300-plus pound sophomore center Glen Davis. Dubbed "Baby Shaq," Davis has already brought the Tigers farther in the NCAA Tournament than former LSU center Shaquille O'Neal ever did. Tonight, the battle of the big men, between Davis and Duke's star senior center Shelden Williams, will be a key to whether the Tigers can indeed make an upset bid.
Although Davis is a hefty presence by any measure, he has actually slimmed down, according to a profile in the Los Angeles Times. Writer Diane Pucin quotes Davis as saying that he has been on practically a starvation diet for a year -- no more does he devour bags of cookies or KFC buckets on his own.
Davis might be a lot of laughs, but Duke must take him seriously. He averaged 18.6 points and 10 rebounds a game this year, and was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. And, according to Knight Ridder reporter Ken Tysiac, Davis' sense of humor has been influenced by the perspective he gained amidst the shock and tragedy of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. LSU's basketball arena became a relief center for Katrina survivors, and athletes such as Davis volunteered to help many displaced and traumatized people. Davis says he learned the power that athletes can have to bring smiles and excitement, even amidst such misery. "It kind of changed my life, especially in the game of basketball," Davis said. "I'm going to walk around with a smile."
Posted by mikemcd at 9:38 AM
March 17, 2006
Big East fighting back
Yesterday was a nightmare for the Big East, as its teams went a collective 0-3 in first-round NCAA Tournament action. So far today, the conference is looking much better.
Three Big East teams are leading in second-half action today. In the Minneapolis region, top-seeded Villanova leads Monmouth, 36-27, and 7th-seeded Georgetown is ahead of Northern Iowa, 44-38. In the Atlanta region, 6th-seeded West Virginia leads Southern Illinois, 43-30. In other action, the top-seeded Memphis Tigers are ahead of Oral Roberts, 57-49, in the Oakland region.
See up-to-the-minute scores.
Posted by mikemcd at 4:29 PM
Jermaine Wallace hit an off-balance, desperation 3-pointer with less than a second remaining to give Northwestern State, from Louisiana, a 64-63 victory over Iowa in the Atlanta region of the NCAA tournament. The victory by the 14-seeded Demons, who had trailed the entire game, is the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
In other first-round action today, 2nd-seeded Ohio State overcame a tough challenge from Davidson to win, 70-62, in the Minneapolis region; 9th-seeded Bucknell held off Arkansas, 59-55, in the Oakland region; and 8th-seeded Arizona routed Wisconsin, 94-75, in the Minneapolis region.
See up-to-the-minute scores.
Posted by mikemcd at 3:00 PM
15th seed Davidson up at half
Led by senior forward Ian Johnson's 14 points, the Davidson Wildcats are making a bid for an upset of second-seeded Ohio State in the Minneapolis regional. Playing in Dayton -- the Buckeyes' backyard -- 15th seeded Davidson, champions of the Southern Conference, took a 29-25 lead into halftime.
In other first-round action today, Arizona is crushing Wisconsin, 35-18, in the Minneapolis region; Bucknell and Arkansas are tied at 17 in the Oakland region; and Iowa leads Northwestern State 18-16 in the Atlanta region.
See up-to-the-minute scores.
Posted by mikemcd at 1:06 PM
March 16, 2006
Second-seeded Vols in tough fight
Tennessee, the second-seeded team in the Washington regional, was leading by only two points, 36-34, at halftime against Winthrop. In other games in progress, Billy Donovan's third-seeded Florida Gators led South Alabama, 31-25, at halftime in the Minneapolis regional. With Seton Hall already gone, another Big East team was struggling, as Marquette trailed Alabama, 29-20, midway through the first half in the Oakland regional.
Earlier in the day, it was Boston College over Pacific in double overtime; Wisconsin-Milwaukee upset Oklahoma; and Wichita State crushed Seton Hall.
See up-to-the-minute scores.
Posted by mikemcd at 4:11 PM
BC Eagles win in double overtime
The Boston College Eagles got all they could handle from the Big West Conference champion Pacific Tigers, but BC proved too much in the second extra period. Boston College pulled away for an 88-76 win, after nearly seeing its Final Four hopes disappear early in Salt Lake City. Craig Smith led the way for Boston College with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles led for nearly all of regulation, but the Tigers refused to be put away. Christian Maraker, a senior forward from Sweden, tied it for Pacific with 9.1 seconds remaining when he hit an open 3-pointer. Maraker had 30 points for the game.
Pacific scored the first six points of the first overtime, but the Eagles came back to within 74-72 on a 3-pointer by Jared Dudley with 52 seconds left. Smith tied it for BC by converting two free throws with 3.9 seconds left, and Boston College outscored Pacific 14-2 in the second overtime.
In other first-round action, Wichita State crushed Seton Hall, 86-66, in Greensboro, N.C.; while Wisconsin-Milwaukee upset Oklahoma, 82-74, in Jacksonville, Fla.
See up-to-the-minute scores.
Posted by mikemcd at 3:19 PM
Overtime for Boston College
Pacific's Christian Maraker sank a 3-pointer with 9.1 seconds remaining to tie the game at 65 and force overtime against Boston College in Salt Lake City.
In other first-round games, Wichita State defeated Seton Hall, 86-66; and Wisconsin-Milwaukee upset Oklahoma, 82-74.
Posted by mikemcd at 2:51 PM
Boston College tied at half
In first-round NCAA Tournament action in Salt Lake City, the BC Eagles jumped out to a 10-2 lead on Pacific. But Pacific climbed its way back and went into the locker room with the game tied at 34. Jared Dudley was leading the Eagles with 13 points.
In other tournament action, Wichita State was pounding Seton Hall, 40-24, in Washington regional action from Greensboro, N.C. Meanwhile, favored Oklahoma was trailing 11th-seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Minneapolis regional action from Jacksonville, Fla.
Posted by mikemcd at 1:33 PM