- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 4, 2004

No matter how their season turns out, at least the Devil Rays will be able to say they were a .500 club in the Eastern Hemisphere.

• • •

Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett won the slamdunk contest at the Final Four, but Pittsburgh’s Julius Page might have had the best single effort. He bounced the ball high off the floor, quickly removed his jersey, then leaped and completed his jam barechested. I’d call it (with apologies to Darryl Dawkins) the “Rump Roasting, Bun Toasting, Wham Bam, Brandi Chastain I Am Jam.”

• • •

Best of luck to Jimmy Patsos, Gary Williams’ longtime assistant, who’s taking over the down-on-its-luck basketball program at Loyola in Baltimore. Patsos’ task sounds daunting; the Greyhounds finished 1-27 this season. But let’s not forget: Skip Prosser was hired by Loyola after a 2-25 season in 1992-93 and guided the ‘Hounds to a 17-13 record the next year — and an improbable berth in the NCAAs (by virtue of their victory in the MAAC tournament). Unfortunately, Prosser left after that season to succeed Pete Gillen at Xavier.

• • •

And on the local front, George Washington was a year removed from a 1-27 nightmare when Mike Jarvis arrived on the scene in 1990. The first year he led the Colonials to the Atlantic 10 title game, and in Year 3 he took them to the Sweet 16.

• • •

As you saw last week, that’s a pretty fair Minnesota team that made it to the women’s Final Four (after knocking off the top three seeds, including Duke, in the Mideast Region). So allow me to point out that two of the Gophers’ starters — point guard Shannon Schonrock and defensive stopper Shannon Bolden — were recruited by current Terps coach Brenda Frese. Frese spent only a season at Minnesota before coming to College Park in 2002.

• • •

Quote of the Week: “Even though he was in Philadelphia and I was in Janesville [Wis.], he basically shared parenting with my mom. You could say he raised me by phone. He called me almost every day. … It wasn’t even unusual for him to call me up and get me out of bed in the morning.”

— Mistie Bass, Duke’s freshman center, on her famous dad, Chubby Checker

Runner-up: “Mistie has six brothers and sisters, and I’m not around them that often either. That’s my life. I’m on the road quite a bit. But I think I’ve given Mistie quite a lot of good advice over the phone.”

— Chubby Checker (from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

• • •

Great piece by my friend Charlie Pierce in the Boston Globe last Thursday, reminiscing about his first trip to the Final Four in 1974 as an undergrad at Marquette. A sample: “The first thing you have to know about following Marquette University’s basketball team when I did is that almost any NCAA tournament game was bound to be held at a latitude considerably more southern than the one on which Milwaukee sat. The tournament was what we had for spring break. After a Wisconsin winter, which I can assure you is every bit like you read about, especially if you’ve read ‘White Fang,’ places like Dayton, Knoxville and Greensboro start to look like Cabo San Lucas.”

• • •

One of the more important lessons Charlie learned at that Final Four: “Coca-Cola machines do not float. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

• • •

Coaching has its hazards — as Lou Holtz can attest. Holtz got run over by a South Carolina tailback during spring drills last weekend and wound up with a broken leg. (The next day, in true Lou fashion, he began a team meeting by asking the player if he was OK.)

Holtz is hardly the only coach, though, who’s been injured on the job. Some of the others:

• Gary Barnett, Colorado football — Wore a bandage on his left wrist after a loss at Kansas State last October. “I was hit on the sideline, and my watch cut my arm,” he told the Denver Post. “Do you think I tried to cut my wrist?”

• Dan Devine, Green Bay Packers — In his debut as the Packers’ coach in 1971, Devine fractured his leg in a sideline pileup. To add insult to injury, his team lost to the Giants 42-40.

• Gil Haskell, Packers — The Green Bay assistant was in the wrong place at the wrong time when receiver Robert Brooks got knocked out of bounds during a playoff game at Dallas in 1995. The result? A fractured skull.

• Mike Krzyzewski, Duke basketball — Strained a hip flexor muscle running to assist fallen Chris Duhon during an exhibition game in 2002. Assistant Johnny Dawkins had to coach the team in the second half.

• Don Shula, Miami Dolphins — Tore an Achilles’ tendon traipsing about the Dolphins’ complex in 1994. He missed a regular-season practice for the first time in 25 years with the team, but was on the sideline for the next game and coached the rest of the season on a golf cart.

• Don Zimmer, New York Yankees — A foul ball off the bat of Chuck Knoblauch during the 1999 playoffs struck the Yanks’ bench coach in the head, bruising his jaw and cutting his ear. The next day, Zim playfully wore an Army helmet during the game.

It all started — possibly — with Langdon Frothingham, Nebraska’s first football coach. Before a game against Doane in 1890, Frothingham made the mistake of scrimmaging with his team. He emerged from the fray with a broken leg.

Speaking of Zimmer, I came across a great Zim stat the other day. In 1950, playing with Hornell (N.Y.) in the Class D Pony League, he had 63 stolen bases — and swiped home 10 times.

• • •

My Virginia Tech source, vacationing in Las Vegas, e-mailed the following “odds for present and former Redskins coaches to win the Super Bowl, according to the Stardust”:

Joe Gibbs’ Redskins — 15-1.

Norv Turner’s Raiders — 30-1.

Marty Schottenheimer’s Chargers — 100-1.

Also, “The greatest athlete of all time is not Jim Thorpe,” he reported, “but Wayne Newton. He has to be at least 60 at this point, but when he started playing the piano with his foot — and his shoe still on — I knew I was witnessing greatness!”

• • •

Hallelujah! The NFL is going to let receivers wear numbers from 10 to 19 again.

In recent seasons, Keyshawn Johnson, No.19 for the Jets and Bucs, is the only wideout who’s been granted special dispensation. Everybody else has had to wear a number in the 80s. (Even Desmond Howard, who earned fame — and a Heisman Trophy — as No.1 for the Michigan Wolverines.) But the league has finally loosened up. Some well-known receivers from the Good Old Days (pre-1973) who wore numbers from 10 to 19:

13 — Don Maynard.

16 — Frank Gifford.

17 — Harold Carmichael.

18 — Charlie Joiner, Gene Washington (the 49ers one).

19 — Lance Alworth, Lance Rentzel.

• • •

Wideouts also used to wear numbers in the 20s back then. Such as:

20 — Gino Cappelletti.

21 — Cliff Branch.

22 — Bob Hayes.

25 — Tommy McDonald, Fred Biletnikoff.

27 — R.C. “Alley-Oop” Owens.

28 — Ahmad Rashad.

29 — Harold Jackson.

• • •

Trivia question: Padraig Harrington took second in the Players Championship last Sunday for the second straight year. Who was the last golfer before Harrington to do that in one of the Big Five tournaments (Players, Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA)? (Answer below.)

• • •

What is it about amateurs and finishing fourth? Michelle Wie finished fourth in the Kraft Nabisco Championship last weekend. Justin Rose finished fourth in the 1998 British Open. Rafel Cabrera finished fourth in a European Tour event in 2002. Those are the best showings by amateurs in the last several years.

• • •

Paul Hornung Stat of the Week: According to the Palm Beach Post, there were only four African-American starting pitchers in the major leagues on Opening Day: Dontrelle Willis and Darren Oliver of the Marlins, Jerome Williams of the Giants and C.C. Sabathia of the Indians.

The Marlins’ Damion Easley on the subject: “Baseball is not that easy to master. You see people like LeBron James go straight to the NBA out of high school; if you have a kind of ability, let alone a little bit of size to you, that’s an instant meal ticket. ‘If I can just hone my skill, I can make my money right away.’”

• • •

Answer to trivia question: Greg Norman was the last golfer to finish second two years in a row in one of the Big Five. The Shark was runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1986 Masters and to Larry Mize in 1987. (The last before Norman? Ben Crenshaw at the British Open in 1978 and 1979.)

• • •

My 13-year-old, who knows much more than I do, says I left a name off last week’s list of sports figures who continued to work for a team that had fired their fathers: Dale Berra.

Dale was a utility infielder with the Yankees in 1985 when George Steinbrenner canned dad Yogi as manager. He stayed with the club until the following August, when he was released (and picked up by the Astros).

• • •

And finally …

Steinbrenner went through six more managers in the next decade before he hit upon Joe Torre, who returned the Yanks to glory. Which just goes to show that, as Yog once said, “you’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

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