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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Final Four Is a Joke, but Don't Get Too Upset

March 15, 2001|MAL FLORENCE

Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post has his own version of the Final Four. A sampling:

* "Guys in funny hats: Spartans, Cavaliers, Matadors, Musketeers.

* "Things you wouldn't want to sit on: Longhorns, Razorbacks, Hornets, Gators.

* "Birds of prey: Boston College Eagles, Monmouth Hawks, Kansas Jayhawks, David Falk."

*

More Kornheiser: He said he was rooting for Winthrop to win its NCAA tournament play-in game against Northwestern State Tuesday night because . . . "Winthrop sounds so dorky.

"There are odd names like Wake Forest--which is a command, not a school. And Iona. Iona what? Iona gas station? But Winthrop. It's like, 'Hey, Winnnn-thropp, time for dinner!' "

Winthrop was eliminated, and so were Kornheiser's best one-liners.

*

Trivia time: Which three coaches ended their college careers by winning the NCAA men's basketball championship?

*

The big picture: Dave Kindred in the Sporting News: "It's Mad Mad March Madness. "Maybe [Rick] Pitino should take all the jobs: UCLA, UNLV, Rhode Island, Michigan, Massachusetts, Louisville. He could hire his old buddies--Ralph Willard, Herb Sendek, Tubby Smith, Billy Donovan--and send them to the campuses.

"From Coach Central in a Boeing 767 circling above America, Pitino could cover all practices by satellite television feed."

*

A real veteran: Tom FitzGerald in the San Francisco Chronicle: "One of our sentimental choices in the NCAA tournament is George Mason [seeded 14th in the West] because its star player, George Evans, is 30 years old.

"He played against Alonzo Mourning in high school, then served eight years in the Army. He took part in Operation Desert Storm, which explains why hardly anybody is picking GMU in Saddam Hussein's office pool."

*

He owned the position: Bill Virdon, former Pirate outfielder, commenting on Hall of Fame teammate Bill Mazeroski in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"There is nobody who ever played second base like he did. Ever. I had the hardest job in baseball for 10 years. I had to back him up on every play, and he never let a ball get through. But I still had to back him up."

*

The good life: In an interview with the Albuquerque Tribune, legendary Texas El Paso coach Don Haskins was asked, "How's retirement going?"

Replied Haskins: "I love it. I don't do a damned thing, and I don't start till noon."

*

Now, boys: Carolina Hurricane forward Jeff O'Neill called Jeremy Roenick of the Phoenix Coyotes an "idiot" after the two had a run-in.

Roenick retorted: "He's called himself the most romantic guy on the team. If so, I feel sorry for all the women in North Carolina."

*

He doesn't buy it: Ron Rapoport in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Bobby Knight suing for emotional distress is like the Pope complaining about having to sit through Mass."

Looking back: On this day in 1997, Dean Smith became college basketball's victory leader when the North Carolina Tar Heels beat Colorado, 73-56. Smith, with 877 victories, passed Kentucky coaching legend Adolph Rupp.

*

Trivia answer: John Wooden, UCLA, 1975; Al McGuire, Marquette, 1977; and Larry Brown, Kansas, 1988.

*

And finally: A bill before the Texas Legislature would establish steep penalties for those who assault referees, umpires and other sports officials.

One of the incidents that prompted the bill occurred in Alvin, Texas, last May. An assistant coach returned to a Pony League game in his police uniform after being ejected for arguing a call and refusing to leave the field.

He followed the umpires out of the ballpark in his police cruiser, pulled them over and gave the driver a ticket for failure to use his turn signal.

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