March Madness in Birdland

Baseball might not be the only thing on these players’ minds

By Matthew Taylor

With the NCAA Tournament set to resume this evening, Roar from 34 got to wondering what March Madness looks like in the O’s clubhouse. Here’s a rundown of the colors – other than the Orange and Black – that the Birds bleed.

Top Dogs

Who on the O’s roster can do the most woofing so far about the brackets?

Two Orioles players can boast about their respective college teams having a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament; one can brag on a No. 2 seed with tournament victories over two of his teammates’ schools; and a lone O is riding high as his No. 3 seeded team continues to advance in the Big Dance.

The No. 1 seeds belong to Jon Leicester (Memphis) and Brian Roberts (North Carolina).

Leicester received bad news this week about his assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. He can always take comfort in his Memphis Tigers, who advanced to the Sweet 16 over the weekend with a 77-74 victory over Mississippi State.

Leicester could’ve given grief on his way out the door to former Southern Miss Golden Eagle Chad Bradford, whose college team lost to Memphis in the Conference-USA Tournament, 69-53.

If Bradford needed a comeback (other than the fact that he’s still on the Major League roster while Leicester is not), he could always brag about his team’s hard partying coach, Larry Eustachy. Eustachy, you’ll remember, did his best Georgie Porgie imitation at Iowa State by kissing girls at college parties. No word on whether said girls cried. We can only assume that they did.

Brian Roberts, meanwhile, has loyalties to the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Durham native’s college is listed on MLB’s web site as South Carolina. However, Roberts, a graduate of Chapel Hill High School, played two years at UNC, winning ACC Rookie of the Year and National Freshman of the Year in 1997, setting multiple UNC records in the process. He transferred to South Carolina after his father was fired as the Tar Heels coach following the 1998 season.

Despite his college team holding a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, former Texas Longhorn Brandon Fahey might well have the most bragging rights around the O’s clubhouse. Fahey, a Dallas native, can pester teammates Jamie Walker and George Sherrill, both of whom attended Austin Peay. Texas defeated Austin Peay 72-54 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker and Sherrill make up half of half of Austin Peay’s all-time representation in Major League baseball. Walker is also a proud member of the Austin Peay State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Sherrill can’t lay claim to the same honor, but it’s a heck of a story of how he took the long route from Austin Peay to the Majors.

Aubrey Huff, a former Miami student, can commiserate with Walker and Sherrill. Huff’s Hurricanes also lost to Fahey’s Longhorns, 75-72.

Rounding out the top seeds is Jeremy Guthrie, a Standford product whose No. 3 seeded Cardinal beat Marquette in overtime, 82-81, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. O’s fans can only hope that Guthrie, who led Stanford to within a game of a berth in the national championship game, eventually matches the success of former Oriole and Stanford ace, Mike Mussina.

Another Clubhouse Rivalry

Their respective teams aren’t playing basketball any longer this season, but Rocky Cherry and Luke Scott still have plenty to talk about as rivals from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, respectively.

Scott can take pleasure in Oklahoma’s blowout loss to Louisville, 78-48, in the NCAA tournament’s second round, but Cherry will surely remind him that Oklahoma State lost to Southern Illinois in the first round … of the N.I.T.

A Final Intriguing Loyalty

Houston native Matt Albers may not have much to brag about when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but his connection to San Jacinto Community College in Texas still offers him plenty of basketball bragging rights, especially in this region.

San Jacinto, an NJCAA powerhouse, boasts two former ACC stars and current NBA players, both of whom have Maryland connections: former Terps superstar Steve Francis and Dunbar High graduate Sam Cassell.


About mptaylor11

Roar from 34, a Baltimore Orioles Blog. Humor. History. Homerism. Since 2006.
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