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Posted at 9:32 AM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Getting to know Iceland: Home of Hauk Palsson (and possibly, elves)

By Liz Clarke

Maryland freshman Hauk Palsson, the first player in Terrapins history to come from Reykjavik, Iceland, had a career-high nine points in 17 minutes in Saturday’s 91-70 victory over Wake Forest.

Palsson, listed as a 6-foot-6, 190-pound forward, has shown impressive versatility in his limited action this season — proving an aggressive defender, unafraid to mix it up with bigger players inside, as well as a gifted shooter whose jump shot demands respect.

Coach Gary Williams has hinted that Palsson may figure more prominently in the line-up in games to come. With that in mind, Terps Insider offers a mini-tutorial on Iceland, its capital city and its quirky, fiercely independent people:

Key stats: Iceland’s population is roughly 310,000 — slightly less than the city of Pittsburgh. About two-thirds of Icelanders live in Reykjavik, the nation’s capital, as well as Palsson’s hometown.

Icelanders: It’s a country of “dreamers, fantasists and individuals,” as the Footprint travel guide puts it. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any country in the world. Reykjavik, in particular, is a hub of creative activity, teeming with bars, clubs, bookstores and coffee shops. It spawned pop star/actress Bjork, who made her first recording at age 11, as well as a slew of alternative bands. As for the “fantasist” tag, an inordinate number of Icelanders believe that elves (or trolls) inhabit the volcanic terrain that lies beyond Reykjavik.

The Icelandic horse: No ordinary horse, the Icelandic horse came over with the Vikings in the year 874. No other breeds have been imported since, and if an Icelandic horse leaves the country he can’t return because of the risk of importing diseases that his fellow horses can’t defend against. They are exceptionally friendly beasts and especially adept at traversing volcanic craters, where you just might find an elusive elf. Horseback riding, as a result, is a popular pastime for natives and tourists alike.

Family names: There’s a reason Hauk Palsson, his mother and father each has a different last name. It’s Icelandic convention to form a person’s last name by attaching “-son” or “-dottir” (daughter) to the first name of his or her father. That explains why Hauk’s mother is Bryndis Petursdottir; his father is Pall Briem Magnusson; and Hauk is Haukur Palsson.
(Bjork’s seldom-referenced full name is Bjork Gudmundsdottir.)

By Liz Clarke  | February 8, 2011; 9:32 AM ET
Categories:  Gary Williams, Men's basketball  | Tags:  Hauk Palsson, Iceland, Maryland basketball, Reykjavik  
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Next: Looking at Longwood: Just who are the Lancers?

Comments

If elves do exist there, perhaps Gary could recruit a couple. I heard they're greatly skilled in archery, magic, and perimeter shooting. Not even Barno could contest that.

Posted by: SirPelleas | February 8, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure Hauk is the second Terps player from Iceland...
You forget in the late 80's/early 90's we had a player named John John-son.

Posted by: mydogsnameisdixon | February 8, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Liz, what a cute piece. I'll bet Hauk will get a real kick out of it. Nice touch.

Posted by: petecard | February 8, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised with Hawk's contribution this year. I really thought Weijs would be the wildcard of the class, but Hawk has been the one to get regular minutes, probably because of his ability to play tenacious defense. I wonder if Gary just likes to have that long 6'6" wing player on the floor, because Jin Soo Kim/Choi fillled the same role before he left.

It's nice to see an article like this, but I think there are a lot more people interested in the Mychael Parker story, or an update on Ashton Pankey, and if he'll be granted a red-shirt of this season.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 8, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't it Pallson instead of Palsson?

Posted by: MDFan | February 8, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/terps/bs-sp-terps-longwood-haukur-palsson-020110208,0,4931328.story

Exactly why converage from the post of Terps basketball is so disappointing.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 9, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

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