WITH 45 SECONDS
left in the Division II national championship game last Saturday in
Springfield, Mass., fans of Barton College were chanting, "We believe,"
which sounded ridiculously optimistic. Barton, a school of 925 in Wilson, N.C.,
was trailing 74--67 to Winona State—which, at 35--0, was the only undefeated
team in the NCAA's three divisions. Earlier in the huddle Barton coach Ron
Lievense had turned to point guard Anthony Atkinson and said, "It's time
for you to take over the game. We need you now more than ever."
And for the third
time in as many games Atkinson, the son of a preacher, rewarded the faith of
his coach and his fans. The 5'10", 155-pound senior scored 10 points in the
final 39 seconds—capped by a layup at the buzzer—lifting Barton to a 77--75
victory. Said Atkinson, "We used everything we learned throughout the
Ah, yes, the
season. Barton came into the Elite Eight with a crunch-time legacy for the
ages, having played an NCAA record-tying eight overtime games during the
season—and won them all. The Bulldogs made it 9 for 9 in the quarterfinals
against Grand Valley State on Atkinson's 30-footer at the OT buzzer. The semis
were a comparative laugher, with Atkinson hitting the winning free throw with
1.5 seconds left in regulation for an 80--79 win over Cal State--San
Bernardino. "I don't think he's human," said teammate L.J. Dunn.
preternaturally cool. After a hard-fought win on Senior Night, he took the
microphone to midcourt, dropped to his knees and proposed to his girlfriend,
Barton basketball player Veronica Johnson. But even Atkinson—who hopes to play
pro ball somewhere next year—seemed amazed with Saturday's finale. After the
winning basket, he put his hands over his head and raced around the court in an
uncanny imitation of another championship moment in North Carolina history: Jim
Valvano's 1983 victory lap. Said Lievense, "I don't see how any ending
could be any better—ever."
Of cancer at age 67, Ernie Wright, a three-time AFL All-Star offensive lineman
who played for the Chargers and the Bengals. After his career ended in 1972,
Wright (above) helped start a program that introduced golf to underprivileged
kids in San Diego. "He grew up on the wrong side of the tracks," his
son Howard told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "He was able to escape because
he grew to be 6'4" and 270 pounds and played football. But he knew the
opportunities to escape were very limited for others, so he wanted to give back
for his success."
By a Pentagon report, that nine officers—including four generals—be held
accountable for errors in the aftermath of the death of Pat Tillman. The former
NFL star was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004 (SI,
Sept. 11, 2006). Although several soldiers knew immediately that Tillman was
shot by his comrades, the Army maintained for five weeks that he was killed by
enemy combatants. The report, which was released by the Defense Department's
inspector general on Monday, focused on how high the cover-up went. It does not
recommend specific punishments, but it suggests that the Army look into holding
nine officers accountable.
As coach of the Mexican national basketball team, former Arkansas coach Nolan
Richardson. The 65-year-old El Paso native said, "There's been a lot of
people in that area that are big time into Mexico [who] wanted to see if I
could somehow maybe get them qualified for the Olympics." Mexico has not
made the Olympics since 1976. Qualifying for the 2008 Games begins later this
At a strip club while on bereavement leave, Portland forward Zach Randolph. On
March 19 the team gave Randolph permission to go to Indiana for the funeral of
his girlfriend's cousin. The next night, after his teammates beat the Wizards
without him, Randolph was seen at the Exotica International Club for Men in
Portland, where he allegedly left without paying his $106 bar tab. ("He'll
pay it next time," the club's manager told the Portland Tribune.) Randolph
said he simply stopped off at the club on his way to the airport. The Blazers
won all three games Randolph (below) missed, and when he returned to the team
on Sunday, he was left out of the starting lineup.
By Michael Vick, why he was carrying a water bottle with a hidden compartment
at the Miami airport earlier this year. The Falcons' quarterback was stopped on
Jan. 17 when he tried to take a specially modified water bottle through the
security checkpoint. After Vick threw it away, screeners retrieved the bottle;
police said they found what appeared to be marijuana residue in the hidden
compartment. But prosecutors later said that there were no drugs in the bottle.
Vick finally spoke about the incident last week, saying that he was using the
bottle to carry jewelry. "They took the bottle," Vick said. "I
don't know what they did with the bottle. I guess they were trying to, I don't
want to say frame me, but at the same time look at what I had to go
through." Asked about Vick's claims, a police spokeswoman said, "That's
the first we've heard of that."
After being arrested and charged with DUI, Tony La Russa. The Cardinals'
manager was found asleep at the wheel of his SUV around midnight on March 22
and failed a Breathalyzer test. The following day he managed the Cards' 2--1
loss to the Marlins and received a warm ovation from fans before the game.
"It was an embarrassment, so I apologize to anyone who is close to me,
members of the Cardinals' organization, our fans," La Russa said after the
game. "I regret it, take responsibility, and I'm not sure there is anything
else I can say."