- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

News item: Two Murray State basketball players are arrested on drug charges on the eve of the NCAA tournament.

Comment: Undaunted, coach Mick Cronin immediately switched the Racers to a triangle-and-none defense.

• • •

Did you catch that little spat between Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli and CBS’ Billy Packer on the NCAA tournament “Selection Show” in particular, Packer bragging about “how well I played” for Wake Forest against Saint Joe’s in the 1962 NCAAs?

Naturally, I had to find out the details. Turns out it was a Sweet 16 game played in, of all places, College Park. Wake beat the Hawks in overtime 96-85, thanks to 34 points from Len Chappell. Packer, a guard, was the Demon Deacons’ second leading scorer with 17 two more than a Saint Joseph’s backcourter named Jimmy Lynam.

Billy had a pretty fair tournament, scoring 15 points in the previous round against Yale, 18 in the regional final against Villanova, 17 in the national semis against Ohio State and 22 against UCLA in the consolation game. It’s still Wake’s only Final Four appearance.

• • •

Packer is probably still steamed about losing to Saint Joseph’s the year before in the East Region finals. (That was the Hawks team, you may recall, that forfeited its third-place finish after three players Jack Egan, Vince Kempton and Frank Majewski were implicated in a game-fixing scandal.) Billy didn’t fare too well against Saint Joe’s that time. He fouled out and managed only four points in a 96-86 loss.

• • •

Too bad Martelli couldn’t have brought that up especially after Packer, a picture of smugness, felt obliged to “lend a little history lesson to Phil.”

• • •

By the way, every time I see Martelli, who reminds me of Peter Boyle in “Young Frankenstein,” I find myself mumbling, “One-seed good. Two-seed bad.”

• • •

Questions for which I have no answers:

1. Has the AP men’s Top 25 at the start of the NCAAs ever had six teams with first-place votes (Stanford, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Saint Joseph’s, Connecticut)?

2. Has a team (Saint Joe’s) ever dropped from No.1 to No.5 so late in the season on the basis of a single loss its only one of the year?

3. Has the sixth-ranked team (Duke) ever been a one-seed in the tournament?

• • •

Of course, the rankings have been nothing this season if not volatile. Look at Maryland. The Terps went from receiving zero votes in the March8 poll not a single one to being ranked 19th a week later (on the strength of their victory in the ACC tournament).

• • •

You have to feel a little sorry for the Colonial Athletic Association. Look at what’s happened to its entry in the last four NCAA tournaments:

2001 George Mason lost a squeaker to Maryland in the first round 83-80. (The Terps went on to the Final Four.)

2002 UNC Wilmington lost to Indiana in the second round 76-67. (The Hoosiers went on to the championship game.)

2003 UNC Wilmington lost a squeaker to Maryland in the first round 75-73. (The Terps were the defending champs.)

2004 Virginia Commonwealth lost a squeaker to Wake Forest in the first round 79-78. (The Demon Deacons beat Manhattan 84-80 yesterday.)

• • •

Trivia question: In 1976, the Redskins drafted two basketball players who had competed in the NCAA title game that year. Who were the players, and what teams did they play for? (Answer below.)

• • •

ESPN ran an item on “SportsCenter” last week about Jerry Stackhouse having “the worst field goal percentage in NBA history for a player averaging 20 points a game” (or something like that). Could this possibly, I wondered, be true?

Almost. The Wizards forward has hit 41 percent of his shots while averaging 21.1 points through Friday night’s win over the Hawks. I can find only one 20-point scorer in league annals with a worse percentage than his (among players with 10,000 career points, that is): Minneapolis Lakers great George Mikan, who in the 1940s and 1950s shot 40.4 percent (while popping in 22.6 points a game).

• • •

Other sub-44 percent shooters I came across: Antoine Walker (20.1 points a game/41.3 percent), Allen Iverson (27.0/41.7), Paul Arizin (22.8/42.1), Elgin Baylor (27.4/43.1), Stephon Marbury (20.5/43.2), Paul Pierce (23.3/43.2), Bob Pettit (26.4/43.6) and John Havlicek (43.9/20.8).

• • •

I guess you could call Stackhouse along with the other young gunners a throwback. (I’m being facetious.)

• • •

Yes, the sports world now has a Winky. Ronald “Winky” Wright is boxing’s undisputed 154-pound champ after taking a unanimous decision over “Sugar” Shane Mosley. Wright joins the following illustrious group of similarly nicknamed sports figures:

“Inky” Jay Williams, one of the NFL’s first black players. Made the all-pro team as an end with the Hammond Pros in 1923.

“Binky” John Joseph Jones, briefly a shortstop for the Brooklyn Robins (later the Dodgers) in 1924.

“Blinky” Claude Horn. According to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, of which he’s a charter member, Horn “was a sports editor for the Tennesseean in Nashville from 1912 to the mid-1930s. He organized the first statewide boys’ basketball tournaments the first Gloden Gloves boxing tournaments.”

“Hinkey” Henry Luther Haines, two-sport athlete who played on the New York Yankees’ (1923) and New York Football Giants’ (1927) first championship teams.

“Kinky” Georgi Kinkladze, Russian soccer star, most notably with Manchester City in the English league.

“Minky” Doug Mientkiewicz, first baseman for the Twins with two .300 seasons to his credit.

“Pinky” Merrill May, slap-hitting catcher for the Phillies from 1939 to 1943 (four homers in 2,215 major league at-bats). Also the father of Milt May, who caught for the Pirates, among others, in a 15-year career that ended in 1984.

“Rinky Dink” Australian filly (sired by Distorted Humor out of Peebinga Princess). Recently won her second stakes race.

“Slinky” Nahowan Saxon, skinny but deadly basketballer for Columbia (Mo.) College. Averaged 11.4 points for the 32-3 Cougars and made all 16 of his free throws in a victory over Central Bible.

“Stinky” Mark Schlereth, Pro Bowl guard with the Redskins and Broncos in the 1990s. (The Alaskan-born Schlereth got his nickname from stinkheads, an Eskimo delicacy made from rotting fish heads.)

“Tinky” Moyra Pringle, the Linda Cohn of South African sportscasting. Played on Zimbabwe’s U21 national field hockey team.

• • •

Answer to trivia question: In the 1976 draft, the Redskins took Michigan’s Wayman Britt as a defensive back/wide receiver in the 13th round and Indiana’s Quinn Buckner as a DB in the 14th. Buckner’s Hoosiers whipped Britt’s Wolverines 86-68 in the NCAA title game that year. (Buckner was later ruled ineligible for the draft, a typical George Allen stunt.)

• • •

Number of the Week: 35. (Length, in inches, of Jake Grove’s vertical leap at Virginia Tech’s “Pro Day” for NFL scouts last week. Grove, a 300-pound center, is expected to be drafted in the first or second round. “I don’t know what it was,” he told Randy King of the Roanoke Times. “Maybe the shoes? I did eat my Wheaties this morning, so maybe that’s what it was.”)

• • •

And finally

That Chunky Soup commercial featuring Michael Strahan is probably causing fits for his opponents for the Montclair (N.J.) Township Council. Pretty soon, they’re going to start demanding equal time.

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