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Relatively speaking

March 29, 2007

Stars are sometimes born in the NCAA tournament -- and sometimes those born of stars end up there. This year's Final Four will feature several offspring of prominent athletes and coaches, Times staff writer Robyn Norwood reports:

Patrick Ewing Jr., Georgetown

* His father played in three NCAA title games for Georgetown and was part of the 1984 national championship team. Patrick Jr., four inches shorter at 6 feet 8, comes off the bench after transferring from Indiana after two years. "It is definitely a blessing," the younger Ewing said. "To be following my father and the things that he did in this area, is definitely something that is special."

John Thompson III, Georgetown

* The Hoyas' coach went his own way for a while, playing and coaching at Princeton. But now he is following in his father's footsteps. "I hope that when you look at our teams you see some similarities between what we do and what they did," the younger Thompson said. "But at the same time, I don't get caught up in 'Let's do this because Pops did it this way.' We're out there trying to win games with the group we have."

Jeremiah Rivers, Georgetown

* The antidote to a dreary Boston Celtics season for Coach Doc Rivers has been watching his son reach the Final Four. Jeremiah, a freshman guard for the Hoyas, averages only 12 minutes a game, but was on the court in crucial late situations against North Carolina in the East Regional final. Check the NBA schedule, and it looks as if Dad can be in Atlanta Saturday -- and Monday, should the Hoyas advance. The Celtics play at Philadelphia Friday and at home against Cleveland Sunday, with Saturday and Monday off.

Darren Collison, UCLA

* Collison's speed is in his genes. His mother, competing as June Griffith, ran the 400 meters for Guyana in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. His father, Dennis, was a 200-meter runner and represented Guyana in the Pan-American Games. But Darren passed on track because he didn't much like running. "Guys I know at other teams do all this running to get in shape," Collison said earlier this season. "We get in shape by practicing hard. I'd rather do that."

Mike Conley Jr., Ohio State

* The Buckeyes' freshman point guard is another son of an Olympian. Mike Conley Sr. won the gold medal in the triple jump in the 1992 Barcelona Games. More recently, he coached his son's summer travel team, the Spiece Indy Heat, with a roster that included Ohio State's Greg Oden and Duke's Josh McRoberts. Ohio State Coach Thad Matta called Conley "one of the toughest" players he's ever met. "I think he's-ultra competitive," Matta said. "He's got tremendous athleticism coupled with intelligence."

Joakim Noah, Florida

* There was an echo of another era when Noah went to his knees after winning the NCAA title last year, much as his father did when he won the French Open in 1983. The younger Noah, whose mother is Cecilia Rodhe, a former Miss Sweden, has his father's exuberance -- with more of an edge. He probably would have been a higher NBA draft pick if he had left after last season's NCAA title, but he returned and said he has no regrets: "These are things I'll never forget and I'll appreciate for the rest of my life."

Al Horford, Florida

* Horford's father, Tito, played in the NBA but his college career didn't amount to much. A 7-foot-1 center from the Dominican Republic, he originally was supposed to play at Houston and then Louisiana State. After a series of controversies that included NCAA rules issues, he landed at Miami, then left for the NBA after his sophomore year in 1988. One reason: He had a nearly 2-year-old son, Al, now Florida's leading scorer and rebounder.

Taurean Green, Florida

* Sidney Green, a teammate of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, once asked Jordan to touch his son's head to bless him as a basketball player. And Taurean has done something his father never accomplished at Nevada Las Vegas: He won a national championship, and is trying for a second. "It's indescribable," the elder Green said after watching his son reach the Final Four for the second time. "I wish my dad had been able to do this. I wish I'd been able to win a national championship."


Sources: Times staff reports, NCAA

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