- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 25, 2006

Doug Elgin’s crazy March schedule brought him to the District yesterday.

But the Missouri Valley Conference commissioner isn’t complaining.

Elgin sat two rows behind the Wichita State bench during the Shockers’ regional semifinal loss to George Mason last night at Verizon Center, less than 24 hours after seeing Bradley lose to Memphis in Oakland, Calif. It was the latest stop in Elgin’s whirlwind March thanks to the Valley’s strong postseason performances.

“It’s been a difficult stretch, but everybody makes those trips this time of year,” he said.

Elgin spent the weekend leading into Selection Sunday in Springfield, Mo., at the Valley’s women’s tournament before flying back to league headquarters in St. Louis. He then bounced from Greensboro, N.C., to Auburn Hills, Mich., in four days and saw both Bradley and Wichita State advance to the Sweet 16.

Those were the fifth and sixth regional semifinal berths for the Valley in Elgin’s 18 years as commissioner, and he wasn’t about to miss either team. Elgin hopped on a flight at 11:30 p.m. Pacific time after Bradley’s loss in Oakland and didn’t arrive at his hotel in Washington until 8:45 a.m. yesterday.

“It’s a little disorienting,” he said.

Still, Elgin has savored this month, as well as the discussion of his league in the weeks leading up to the unveiling of the 65-team field. The Valley earned four NCAA berths — its most ever — only to be battered by CBS’ Jim Nantz and Billy Packer during the selection show.

The broadcasters, as well as other critical analysts, have been silenced by the Valley’s play the last two weeks. While all four teams have now been eliminated, it doesn’t diminish the season the deep league cobbled together.

“The amount of national attention focused on us during the season and certainly magnified by the post-bracket announcement by CBS, it’s made us really one of the really compelling stories in college basketball,” Elgin said.

Carter wants to go home

George Mason’s roster has a decidedly regional flavor.

Jordan Carter is one of the exceptions.

The sophomore guard is from Indianapolis, the home of this year’s Final Four. He did his part to help the Patriots visit his hometown, hitting a 3-pointer with 7:03 remaining to make it 48-35 and prevent Wichita State from cutting George Mason’s lead to single digits.

“That’s my main goal, to get back home,” Carter said. “I haven’t seen my family all semester, so that’s my goal, to get back to Indianapolis and win the championship.”

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