The Washington Times - March 19, 2011, 01:25PM

CLEVELAND —- George Mason brought a boisterous group of fans to the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.

It just so happened the Patriots’ destination meant coach Jim Larranaga could reach into his past as part of the trip.


Larranaga coached 11 seasons at Bowling Green before taking over at Mason in 1997. And while the Mid-American Conference school isn’t just around the corner —- 114 miles, give or take a few based on your online map service of choice —- it’s certainly close enough to draw some attention from people connected with Larranaga at his last stop.

“I would say at least 50 former players, parents of former players, former coaches, I got text messages,” Larranaga said. “One of my assistants right now is Michael Huger, a first team all-conference player at Bowling Green. He stays in touch with all those guys, so all the guys he played with, and then on my last few years, Anthony Stacey and Shane Kline-Ruminski and Vada Burnett, all the guys who live in the Cleveland area were hitting us up all the time wanting tickets.”

Larranaga, of course, was happy to oblige —- and also took the opportunity to get a laugh in along the way.

“Former players never want to pay,” Larranaga said with a grin. “So they hit us up for some tickets, which was great because we had a lot of our BG guys here.”

—- Patrick Stevens