- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 17, 2002

In my next life, I want to come back as a 12th seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Quote of the Tourney (so far) comes from Southern Cal's Jerry Dupree, who, upon learning that North Carolina-Wilmington would be the Trojans' first opponent, told the Los Angeles Daily News, "I've heard of them. It's in Charlotte, isn't it?"

Didn't the NCAA, in the interest of academics, discuss limiting college basketball schedules to 29 games not long ago? Well, Siena had already played 35 by the time it faced Maryland in the first round of the tournament Friday night. And if the Saints had advanced to the final, the total would have been 41 half an NBA season. No school has played that many, near as I can determine, since the '40s.

I'm not sure which is more surprising, Wyoming's upset of Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAAs or the fact that the Cowboys didn't cross paths with one of our local teams in the tourney. In '81, you may recall, they knocked off Howard. The following year, they gave top-seeded Georgetown all it wanted. And in '87, they ended Virginia's season.

And, of course, it was the Hoyas that Wyoming beat 46-34 for the NCAA championship back in 1943. That was a heck of a Georgetown team, too. It didn't have Patrick Ewing at center, but it did have John Mahnken, who outplayed DePaul's George Mikan in the semis. Unfortunately, the Cowboys had Kenny Sailors, one of the pioneers of the jump shot and the leading scorer in the title game with 16 points.
From "The Encyclopedia of the NCAA Basketball Tournament": "With seven minutes remaining in the game, the Hoyas led 31-26. Then Wyoming flexed its muscles. With the speedy Sailors setting up the plays, the Cowboys ran the Hoyas into devastating picks and crashed the boards, throwing off the smaller Georgetown players like so many matchsticks. They scored 11 straight points [to pull away]."

In case you were wondering, Paul Tagliabue wasn't a member of that Georgetown team. (He was only 2 at the time.) And Curt Gowdy, the famous broadcaster, wasn't on the Wyoming roster either. (He played for the Cowboys in the '41 tournament, scoring zero points, missing both of his free throws and fouling out in a first-round loss.)

Something I didn't realize until I looked this stuff up: In 1941, you fouled out on your fourth foul. It wasn't until '45 that they increased it to five.

My new favorite name in college basketball is Anna Montanana (a forward on George Washington's WNIT team). Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Watching Brian Dennehy play Bobby Knight in "A Season on the Brink" got me thinking: What other actors might be cast as famous basketball coaches? Some possibilities:
John Thompson James Earl Jones (preferably on a stepladder).
Lefty Driesell Peter Boyle.
Rick Pitino Anthony LaPaglia.
Lute Olsen Leslie Nielsen.
Nolan Richardson Ving Rhames.
Rick Majerus Ralph Friedgen (in his screen debut).
Jerry Tarkanian Daniel Benzali (but only because Jackie Coogan is dead).
Bob Huggins Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Lou Carnesecca Roberto Benigni.
Mike Krzyzewski You tell me.

A moment of silence, please, for Ellis Jones, who died recently at 80. Jones, little remembered today, is one of the more miraculous stories in NFL history. He played guard for the Boston Yanks in 1945 despite having just one arm. (He lost the right one after falling from a tree as youth. Complications set in, and doctors were forced to amputate just below the shoulder.)
That didn't stop him, though, from starring at Tulsa in the early '40s and playing in two College All-Star games against the NFL champs. To overcome his handicap, he apparently did a lot of shoulder tackling and cross-body blocking. "The thing you want to see is Jones cutting a man down with his legs," Yanks coach Herb Kopf once said. "Just like a mowing machine!"

As you can imagine, players were hard to come by during the war years. Once Kopf sent assistant coach Tillie Manton "to the four compass points with earnest instructions to waylay and wave folding money near the nostrils of any male under 40 who was under the slightest suspicion of ever having been within five miles of a goal post," Look magazine reported. "Manton might just as well have been ordered to hit the jackpot on the quarter machine in a Scotch tavern two days in a row."

News item:: Joe Gibbs becomes a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons (pending league approval).
Comment: It just doesn't feel right kinda like the time Vince Lombardi got a slice of the Redskins.

It was hard not to notice that just days after the Redskins lost Cory Raymer to San Diego, the Cowboys signed La'Roi Glover to torment Raymer's successor (Larry Moore).

A former Redskins employee says, "The Redskins are no longer a football team. They're a marketing department that happens to play football."

Did you see that the Carolina Panthers released defensive end Jason Peter last week? He was one of the principals in the infamous Sean Gilbert trade in 1998. The Panthers owed the Redskins two first-round picks when they signed Gilbert, a franchise player, and could have make that should have begun payments that year, when they had the 14th selection. Instead, they decided to draft Peter and delay giving the Redskins compensation until '99 and '00.
It wasn't the smartest move. The pick in '99 wound up being the fifth overall, and the one in '00 was the 12th. The Redskins ultimately parlayed the two No.1s into three No.1s and used them to draft Champ Bailey, LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels.
Now Peter is gone after four injury-plagued seasons, and Gilbert just took a salary cut to avoid being released. I'm tellin' ya, that deal was almost as bad as the one the Saints made to draft Ricky Williams. And the Redskins were the beneficiaries of both of them.

While at the Hula Bowl, ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski played a round of golf with Steve Spurrier at Kapalua's challenging (par-73) Plantation Course, home of the Mercedes Championships. His comments: "You learn something about a guy during 18 holes, and here's what I learned about Spurrier: He doesn't give gimmes, doesn't take them, either. The ball could be tap dancing on the lip of the cup and he'd make you putt it out. And he'd expect you to demand the same thing of him. I liked that. I liked that he didn't make excuses after a bad shot. I like that he muttered, that he cared. … I liked that he took calculated risks."
According to Wojciechowski, Spurrier birdied the eighth and ninth holes and finished with a "very respectable" score. And No.9, a 521-yard par-5, is described in the course literature as "likely the course's most demanding hole."

So I guess Spurrier can golf. Now if he can just coach.

Not only does Tiger Woods like to win tournaments, he also likes to accumulate jackets, it seems. He already has two from the Masters, and today he's going for his third at Bay Hill (another event that awards its champion a blazer).

If Tiger wants to add to his collection, he might start playing in the Phoenix Open and the Worldcom Classic at Hilton Head more often. They give a jacket to the winner, too as does the Australian Masters (which Tiger entered in '97, finishing eighth).

Greg Norman, by the way, has six jackets yellow ones from his Australian Masters triumphs. And Bernhard Langer pulled off a unique sartorial feat in '85, winning the U.S. and Aussie Masters in the same year. Ben Crenshaw also has a very full closet, having captured titles at Augusta, Bay Hill and Hilton Head. (The same goes for Fuzzy Zoeller.)

And that's all the Sunday Column is going to say about jackets.

To put Matt Kuchar's victory in the Honda Classic (at 23 years, 8 months) in perspective, only seven current tour regulars have won a PGA tournament at a younger age: Woods, Phil Mickelson, Scott Verplank, Sergio Garcia, Davis Love III, John Cook and Fred Couples. Pretty good company.

And finally, the nightmare might not be over for banished Yankee Ruben Rivera, pilferer of Derek Jeter's glove and bat. The commissioner's office, I'm told, already has begun an investigation of Rivera's 45 career stolen bases.

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