March Madness Notebook: Catawba’s Alexander coaching in NCAA Tournament
The college basketball notebook ...
DAYTON — One familiar face in the NCAA Tournament this week belongs to N.C. A&T head coach Cy Alexander.
The former Catawba player led the Aggies to the MEAC title over Morgan State. During a Monday press conference he pointed out A&T made seven straight NCAA tournaments from 1982 through 1989. He wondered aloud why the Aggies hadn’t made it since 1995.
He then answered his own question by saying he was the coach at South Carolina State and was always beating them.
A&T (18-16) meets Liberty (15-20) in the NCAA First Four tonight at the University of Dayton Arena.
DAYTON — Liberty’s players and coaches woke up at 4:30 a.m. Monday for their charter flight. Instead of departing the airport at 7 in the morning, plane trouble kept them grounded for several hours.
Not even that could ruin coach Dale Layer’s mood.
“On 21/2 hours of sleep, an 8-hour plane delay — hey, it’s great to be in Dayton!” Layer said with a wide smile.
After where the Flames have been this season, what’s a few more hours? It’s amazing they needed aircraft to fly to the NCAA tournament.
Despite losing their first eight games and having a 10-20 record late in the season, they won their final five games including the Big South title.
DAYTON, Ohio — An extra trip to start the NCAA tournament? Not a problem. Middle Tennessee rarely loses its way when it leaves its Murphy Center home.
In a way, it’s fitting that the Blue Raiders had to pack for a couple extra days. Their prowess on the road was the overriding quality that landed them in the field of 68.
Louisiana in Lafayette? Vanderbilt in Tennessee? Been there, won that.
And, ultimately, it won them a place on the tournament’s opening night, matched against Saint Mary’s (27-6), another team that needed an at-large bid.
The Blue Raiders (28-5) were a bubble team after suffering an upset in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament, leading to a long and uneasy wait in Murfreesboro for that NCAA selection show. The committee honed in on how they did when they were staying at a hotel.
Middle Tennessee went 11-3 on the road, including overtime losses at Akron and at Arkansas State. They were 1-2 at neutral sites, 16-0 at home. The 11 wins on the road are second-most in the country.
MARYLAND IN NIT
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Mark Turgeon spoke excitedly Monday about taking Maryland to the NIT in his second season at the helm of a rebuilding program.
Then, someone asked the coach if there might come a time soon when the Terrapins won’t be happy with an invite to the NIT.
“Yeah, like next year? Is that soon enough?” he replied.
Given that the Terrapins (22-11) haven’t played in the postseason since 2010, a berth in the NIT as a second seed is something to celebrate.
HARRISONBURG, Va. — James Madison has suspended scoring and rebounding leader Rayshawn Goins for the first half of the Dukes’ First Four NCAA tournament game against LIU Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
The Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg says Goins was arrested Sunday night on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice.
The newspaper says police were called to a party Saturday night to help disperse about 200 people. The paper says Goins was shouting obscenities and “enticing the crowd” before he was taken away by acquaintances.
Goins averages 12.7 points and 7.4 rebounds this season.
James Madison is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.
VILLANOVA, Pa. — La Salle’s NCAA tournament drought is over. After a 21-year absence, the Explorers were rewarded with a spot in the 68-team field.
The Explorers (21-9) will play fellow No. 13 seed Boise State on Wednesday night.
Villanova (20-13) and Temple (23-9) will join La Salle in the tournament. The Wildcats, a No. 9 seed, will play No. 8 North Carolina in the South Regional.
The ninth-seeded Owls are making their sixth straight NCAA appearance and play North Carolina State in Dayton, Ohio in the East Region.
GREENSBORO — Virginia’s Joe Harris and Duke’s Mason Plumlee have been unanimously selected to the coaches’ all-ACC team.
Also on the first team were Miami’s Shane Larkin, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and Duke’s Seth Curry.
Larkin was the MVP of the ACC tournament, and led Miami to its first regular-season and tournament titles. Green led the nation with a 25-point scoring average.
ACC rookie of the year Olivier Hanlan of Boston College was a unanimous selection to the all-freshman team. Hanlan was joined by Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren, Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Georgia Tech’s Robert Carter Jr.
ATHENS, Ga. — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a 6-5 sophomore from Georgia, is the SEC’s top player.