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The NCAA tournament from A to Z

A is for the Alabama Rainmaker, the Georgetown nickname for Jonathan Wallace's high-arch three-pointers. Wallace shoots 50 percent from the floor, 47.6 from three, 90 percent from the foul line.

A is for the Alabama Rainmaker, the Georgetown nickname for Jonathan Wallace's high-arch three-pointers. Wallace shoots 50 percent from the floor, 47.6 from three, 90 percent from the foul line.

B is for Butler, which had nine players with 3.25 grade-point averages. To accommodate classes, coach Todd Lickliter often schedules practice at sunrise. "Yeah, it's like college," he said.

C is for Central Connecticut State's Javier Modica, a walk-on and the Northeast Conference Player of the Year. He also literally lifted the noose off the neck of his mother Nancy, whose drug-infested life in Auburn, Mass., had finally depressed her. She and Javier often changed houses to avoid the bad guys.

D is for Florida coach Billy Donovan, who knew SEC crowds would be lying in wait for the national champs. At Auburn he wore a policeman's uniform and told the Gators, "We're here to break up the party."

E is for Exercise, which Texas A&M-Corpus Christi center Chris Daniels got in abundance. "I led the team in study halls," he said, "and most miles run after missing study hall." John Lucas, at a preseason team luncheon, said Daniels had NBA ability "if he would get off his fat behind." The 7-footer did, and he brings a 15.8 scoring average into the tournament.


F is for Nevada's Nick Fazekas, one of six players to score 2,000 points with 1,000 rebounds, with 50 percent shooting and 80 percent from the foul line. The list is Fazekas, Christian Laettner, Larry Bird, Rick Barry, Bill Bradley and Keith Van Horn.

G is for Anthony Grant, coach of Virginia Commonwealth. Confident? Well, Grant had his team fitted for Colonial Athletic Association title rings before the final with George Mason.

H is for Hurricane Katrina, which flattened D.J. Augustin's home in New Orleans. Augustin moved to Houston and signed with Texas and became Kevin Durant's aide-de-camp. His grandfather Earl was missing until dad Darryl found him in a chow line in the Astrodome. His new high school's nickname? Hurricanes.

I is for Iraq, previous stop for North Texas guard Rich Young. He drove regularly through "Ambush Alley," so Memphis won't scare him.

J is for Trey Johnson of Jackson State, a 90 mph-throwing pitcher until he took up basketball in high school. He put away the glove and is the leading scorer in this tournament - yes, higher than Durant.

K is for Kentucky trainer Scott Holsopple, who put wood chips into the mailboxes of the beleaguered Wildcats. Play with chips on your shoulder, he said. Kentucky is an 8 seed. Maybe they just need bigger shoulders.

L is for Derrick Low of Washington State, a Hawaiian who grows out his hair to honor surfing legend Eddie Aikau.

M is for Maureece Rice of George Washington. His 2,681 points broke Wilt Chamberlain's Philadelphia high school record.


N is for Drew Neitzel of Michigan State, who shoots threes left-handed, foul shots right-handed. His dad irritated the hospital staff when he put a hoop in Drew's crib in the delivery room.

O is for One Shining Moment. Ask Eastern Kentucky's Josh Taylor, whose last-tick bucket beat Austin Peay in the OVC final. He averaged 2.9 points for the season.

P is for Progeny. Davidson freshman Stephen Curry shoots it like his dad Dell, who hit 1,245 three-pointers in 17 NBA years. Stephen also tries on defense. "He got that from his mother," his dad said.

Q is for Quit Reaching, something Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan hardly ever has to say. The Badgers, incredibly, had no foul-outs all season. Point guard Kammron Taylor fouled only 21 times in 1,108 minutes.

R is for Razorback center Steven Hill, although Alabama's Richard Hendrix calls the 7-footer the "Eraserback." Arkansas' SEC Defensive Player of the Year survived a car accident at 16, when he broke his radius and had a compound fracture of his ulna on his shooting (left) hand.

S is for Southern Illinois' Randal Falker, son of a competitive bicyclist, and he's done whitewater rafting and speed bicycling himself. But on the court he sometimes lacks the bravado, and sometimes asks Coach Chris Lowery, "Why'd y'all recruit me?"

T is for the Twins at Stanford, 7-footers Brook and Robin Lopez, nephews of ex-Angels pitcher Marcelino Lopez. They've also invented their own cartoon characters and prefer classical music.

U is for UNLV's Joe Darger, son of polygamists from Riverton, Utah. Nine brothers, eight sisters. "I like a big family," Darger said. Seems to always need tickets.


V is for Valdis Vasylius, Old Dominion's leading scorer, who enjoyed a traditional Lithuanian Christmas dinner with friends in Williamsburg, Va. "Twelve courses, with no meat, eggs or alcohol," he said. "That's a lot of fish. And nobody cleans up the dishes that night. I don't know why."

W is for Julian Wright of Kansas, who chills out by taking his 16-pound bowling ball, "Big Bully," onto the lanes.

X is for Xavier coach Sean Miller, whose ball-handling tricks got him on "That's Incredible!" when he was 12. How breathtaking was he? John Wooden once asked for his autograph.

Y is what they call Brigham Young in Utah. The Cougars feature guard Austin Ainge, son of Celtics general manager Danny Ainge. Austin leads Danny in victories this season 24-18.

Z is for Mark Zoller, all-Ivy forward for Penn. His coach for three years, Fran Dunphy, moved to Temple this year. When Penn beat Temple by two, Zoller had to laugh when he heard Dunphy tell the officials, "This guy walks every time."

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