Mark was itching to call his family after the big win, but chances are nobody there heard the phone ringing. "We were all hollering and stomping and crying, and you'd have thought the ceiling would fall in," Mary says. In the middle of the chaos Mark appeared on the television screen for a postgame interview. Says Mary, "There was so much fussing going on I finally said, 'Shut up you all, I can't hear what my baby's saying.' "
Mary, in case you missed it, he said, "Thanks, Mom."
Vanderbilt lost to Illinois 93-77 in November at the Great Alaska Shootout as Illini guard Andy Kaufmann made 12 of 14 field goal attempts. In Vandy's 85-68 second-round win over Illinois, which put the Commodores in the Sweet 16, Kaufmann fouled out after scoring only five points.
BEST ROLE REVERSAL
No one thought it possible, but the postseason was even grimmer for the Big East than the regular season. Not one Beastie made the round of 16, and Connecticut even lost at home to Jackson State in the NIT. Stepping smartly into the vacuum was the Atlantic-10, which bagged four NCAA bids, won all its first-round games and placed Temple and George Washington in the regional semis.
Be honest. Did you know anything about George Washington's Yinka Dare or Temple's Aaron McKie until last weekend? Four years ago McKie, then a senior-to-be at Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High, attended the storied Nike All-America Camp—but only as a spectator. He went to watch some of his more ballyhooed pals and while appraising the action at the camp, got the idea that he was as good as they were. Of course, those pals are sitting at home now; McKie, a junior guard, shot the Owls into the NCAAs and was the main man in Temple's wins over Missouri and Santa Clara.
Dare (pronounced dar-AY), the Colonials' 7-foot freshman center from Nigeria, can't shoot beyond 10 feet, which makes every one of his free throws an adventure. But he's agile and active, and he responds to cheers of "Hip, hip, Dare!" from the George Washington band. The Colonials share a city and a first syllable with a much more storied program, and coach Mike Jarvis cannot tell a lie: "One time I was giving a pregame talk. It was my best, most inspiring stuff. I ended by saying, 'Now let's go out and win one for Georgetown. I mean, George Washington.' It happens." That may be embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as the following is to the Big East: The four Atlantic-10 schools that made the NCAA field—Rhode Island and Massachusetts in addition to Temple and George Washington—represent areas whose Big East schools were not invited.
BEST TEAM DEFENSE
This designation is shared by two schools playing in the East Regional. Arkansas calls its defensive style "40 minutes of hell," and the nearly 12 minutes that St. John's went with only one field goal during the second half of the Razorbacks' 80-74 second-round victory must be what Dante's ninth circle is like. The Hogs made slop out of Holy Cross as well as the Redmen, forcing 50 turnovers in the two games. Meanwhile, Cincinnati locked up New Mexico State 92-55; it went out to a 39-8 lead using a trapping defense coach Bob Huggins learned from his dad, Charlie, a onetime high school coach. Notwithstanding Cincy's feline pedigree, Aggie coach Neil McCarthy said the Bearcats "look like a bunch of hungry dogs going after one pork chop. They run 10 guys at you kamikaze fashion."
Dwight (Fat Flight) Stewart. When Stewart, who stands 6'9" and goes 270 pounds, was a redshirt last year, he learned diet tips from 300-pound Oliver Miller, Stewart's predecessor as Arkansas's center and as the porkiest of the Hogs.
Game a little too close for comfort? No problem for Florida State. Against Evansville the Seminoles went from an 18-18 tie to a 36-18 lead. Two days later Tulane was on the short end of a 22-2 run by Florida State. Coach Perry Clark, whose team is supposed to be the Green Wave, had this to say of the Seminoles' offense: "All of a sudden this tidal wave crashes in. You sort of sit back and wait for it to go back out to sea, and then you see how much damage is done."