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Observations From the Early Games at Verizon

I'm CJ Holley and I'm a Sports producer for washingtonpost.com. I was able to break free from the office for the afternoon, catch some basketball and crank out a a compendium of my observations from the afternoon slate at Verizon Center. Obviously I owe a special thanks to Dan Steinberg for allowing me to rent out some space on the Bog.

No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Georgia

Just before tip here at Verizon Center and we have Georgia vs. Xavier. A glance at the scorecard leaves a lot of early entries for "Name of the Game."

If you're looking for something exotic, there's Georgia guard Sundiata Gaines as well as the outside hope that Georgia center Dave Bliss gets to play Baylor in the next round, somehow I think the Bears fans might have some pent-up issues with that name.


The Musketeers were simply too legit to quit. (The Post)

On the Xavier side we've got two former stars, Charles Bronson and Stanley "Hammer" Burrell. To my knowledge neither are related to their more famous counter parts. I'm sure the Musketeers are hoping for a "Great Escape" and are "Too Legit 2 Quit."

Glad I got those out of my system.

Even though the arena was maybe half full for the bulk of the game, the Dawg Pound managed to cause a ruckus as the Georgia faithful made their presence felt. A Bulldogs dunk entertained center Dave Bliss enough to bring out a Ric Flair-style "Wooo!"

The Georgia cheerleaders chose to bring out their formal wear this afternoon. Sparkly black dresses that from this side of the court resemble Glad bags. Might be too early in the day ladies, but you can't deny their effort. Mad Bogger Dan Steinberg whipped the camera out for that one, I hope we have some photographic evidence of this.


Yup, Steinberg was all over it.

The Musketeers cheer squad took the court as well. They didn't seem to be as fired up as the Georgia ladies but I love the Musketeer mascot. You just don't see a van dyke like that on mascots any more.

Later in the first half we also had an entry from the "Bad Idea Jeans" department... At Verizon they played a "Name That Fight Song" game. The options were Georgia, Ohio State, Purdue and Florida. Judging by the Bulldogs reaction, I'd say it's SEC rival Florida. Yeah. Not a good idea to rile up half the crowd. As one would expect, chants of "N-I-T" rain down from the Bulldogs fans. If Georgia goes on an 11-2 run right now, Xavier can blame it on the Verizon scoreboard operator.

After an alley-oop to Georgia's Albert Jackson, I had to note that Albert Jackson is probably in the minority of guys named Albert that proudly sport the dread lock look.




Tommy Lee just might be a Georgia Bulldogs fan. (AFP)

At halftime, the Georgia cheerleaders did a dance routine to Motley Crüe's "Girls Girls Girls." Ladies, this is a family establishment. Though somewhere, Tommy Lee is smiling.

Georgia coach Dennis Felton bears a resemblance to Shock G, the frontman for Digital Underground. No word on whether or not the ghost of Tupac is carrying the Bulldogs' luggage. Just remember, it's pronounced with an "Umpty."


Shock G of Digital Underground or Coach Dennis Felton? You decide. (AP)

For the second half the Georgia dance team shirked the Glad-bag attire and went with the more traditional look. Personally I was hoping this would mean the Musketeer mascot would switch up his facial hair and trot out a nice fu-manchu.

Georgia had a heck of a run for a team that only won four games in its conference this season and guard Sundiata Gaines definitely impressed me, sparking the offense and managing to always disrupt the passing lanes. Good name, better game, even in the losing effort.

No. 6 Purdue vs. No. 11 Baylor

My pick for this game: Baylor. The Bears are a great story, play up-tempo ball, have played in close games and have the good karma of wearing George Mason's color in the arena where the Patriots made their mark two years ago.

Of course, I could be incredibly wrong.


LaceDarius! (AP)

Once again, it's time for the name game and I've got to go with LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor, he may be No. 24 in the program but he's No. 1 in my heart. Not to be out done is his teammate Tweety Carter.

Purdue's Nemanja Calasan drained two quick three-pointers to start the game. He's from Eastern Europe so he's gotta be able to make it rain, right?

Baylor coach Scott Drew is the brother of Bryce who hit that now famous shot for Valpo while their dad Homer was the coach. Think Scott hears about that at Thanksgiving?

Purdue's JaJuan Johnson hammered home an absurd one-handed dunk. That's a highlight I'd expect to see later...


The famous Valparaiso dogpile. (Reuters)

Across the court from me sat a veritable murderer's row of Post reporters, from left to right there was Barry Svrluga, Mike Wise, Eric Prisbell, John Feinstein and Dan Steinberg. They were all better dressed and better writers than me.

We also had a cameo appearance by Xavier coach Sean Miller who glad-handed the Musketeer faithful. Oh, and probably scouted his Saturday afternoon opponent.

It's not a college basketball game until you hear A-Ha's classic "Take on Me." Nice to see it has supplanted "Mickey" as a go to 80's anthem at college games. Though sadly no brave souls in the crowd attempted to hit the high note. I think The Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" could some day enter this conversation.

Despite the A-Ha love, Purdue won the battle of the bands in my eyes. Baylor's version of "Take on Me" was nice, but left me begging for more. Also, Boilermaker mascot Pete has the head of either a smaller version of Bob's Big Boy or one of those Russian nesting dolls. I have no idea what to make of that.

The amount of un-contested three-pointers for Purdue were astounding, it's pretty easy to drain threes when there's nothing but tumbleweed and that definitely helps in a blow-out victory.

To fill space at halftime they piped in George Clinton's "Atomic Dog," this would've been much more appropriate to play instead of the Florida Gators' fight song during the earlier game.


Randy Quaid's character Ishmael from Kingpin may have made an appearance. (MGM)

Strangest sight of the day: Seeing a Verizon Center worker plunging a urinal in the men's room. I'm not going to ask any questions. No word on whether or not Randy Quaid is hanging around here in an Amish costume.

Second Half

During a timeout and one of the Baylor fans is holding up a sign that reads, "Baptists CAN Dance." I was unaware there was a dispute, perhaps the Bears and BYU can have a dance-off when this is all said and done.

Well this game quickly got out of hand so I decided to wrap up the running diary a little early. Besides, I gotta head in to the office. Tough luck Baylor, I'll miss LaceDarius the most.

By washingtonpost.com Sports Editor  |  March 20, 2008; 8:35 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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