Welcome to this week's Dean's List, where we're offering Governor Blagojevich a night with Sam Bradford's Heisman Trophy in return for Obama's Senate seat.
• If North Dakota State Bison guard Ben Woodside walked into a room of strangers, no one would suspect he's one of the most potent offensive threats in college basketball. But the 5-foot-11, 185 lbs. senior is averaging 26.9 points per game this season, including a 60-point, 30 free-throw performance in a 112-111 loss to Stephen F. Austin on Friday night. Woodside tied Pete Maravich's single-game record for free throws and became the first D-I player in eight years to score 60 in a game. (ASU's Eddie House was the last player to reach 60.) Even more impressive than the quantity of points is the way Woodside scored them. With nine minutes left in regulation and his team down by 19, the pride of Albert Lea, Minn., had only notched 11 points. Woodside then went on a 22-point scoring binge to tie the game at the end of regulation. He scored seven more points in the first overtime, nine in the second overtime and 11 in the third overtime. That means that after a slow start, Woodside dropped 49 points in 24 minutes. To this average-sized reporter, there's nothing more beautiful than an average-sized athlete putting up above average numbers.
• In a physical contest, the Georgetown men's basketball team beat Memphis 79-70 in overtime on Saturday. It was a big win for the Hoyas and gives me the opportunity to recount my favorite John Thompson, Jr. story. Back in the late 1980's, the former coach found out that his star player, Alonzo Mourning, was a friend of notorious DC drug lord Rayful Edmond III. Thompson called Edmond to his office at McDonough Gym and laid into him, telling the thug in no uncertain terms to stay away from Georgetown players or he'd suffer serious consequences. There have even been reports that Thompson jabbed Edmond in the chest and threatened to kill him if he didn't leave the Hoyas alone. Legend has it that Edmond, who was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole, never retaliated and never talked to another Georgetown player again. No kidding. If Big John ever threatened me, I'd wet my pants first, then cry and then finally close my eyes and pretend to disappear.
• The championship game was played in a 25-mph gusting wind, but that didn't seem to bother the Maryland men's soccer team. The Terrapins beat North Carolina 1-0 in Sunday's NCAA College Cup final to win their third national championship. It was a school-record 16th consecutive win and 15th shutout for Maryland. North Carolina entered the game having upset top-seeded Wake Forest in the semifinals, but Maryland midfielder Graham Zusi, who scored the game-winning goal against St. John's in the Terrapins' semi-final game, was not intimidated. At the 67-minute mark, the senior booted in a deflection from above the 18-yard box for the game's only goal and Maryland's third win of the season over North Carolina.
• It's one of those common phrases everyone repeats, but no one means -- "There's a first time for everything." No, there really isn't. There's a first time for some things. The fact that these things don't happen to everyone is what makes them special, like Saturday's D-II football championship. The University of Minnesota-Duluth, which had never won a national title in any sport, beat Northwest Missouri State 21-14 to win the D-II national title. The victory capped an amazing turn-around for the Bulldogs, who went 4-7 in 2007, but didn't lose a game in 2008. To make the story even more compelling, Northwest Missouri State is a fully-funded D-II program with 36 scholarships. UMD, on the other hand, plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which allows members to have just 24 scholarships.
• Ohio State defensive end Nathan Williams claims he was just covering for a friend when he was caught shoplifting three shirts worth $80 from a Macy's store last Wednesday. Apparently, Williams' friend had been in legal trouble previously and Williams didn't want to see his buddy go to jail. Nor did the OSU football player believe he'd go to jail. Williams thought he'd just "get a ticket and pay a fine." He was misinformed. Williams has been charged with a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Here's some advice for the freshman: If you are an Ohio State football player and your bonehead friend decides to smuggle a few shirts out of a department store, don't take the blame. I don't care how good a friend this guy is. I don't care if he made you the sweetest mix-tape in middle school and beat up the guy who slept with your sister. Your past is never worth your future.
• When I first heard that Syracuse University's Judicial Review Board had recommended guard Eric Devendorf be suspended for the remainder of the academic year after he allegedly punched a girl in the face, I was quick to jump all over Syracuse's third-leading scorer. With his gaudy tattoos and history of poor decision-making, Devendorf seemed like the kind of guy who would do something this dumb. Well, there is no wrath like that of a scorned Syracuse fan. I was subjected to a barrage of criticism and accused of rushing to judgment. After having read much more on the topic, I will attempt to present the evidence void of opinion to appease my critics. On November 1, Devendorf, who was already on probation for a fight last spring, had a confrontation with Kimberly Smith, a Syracuse student and "acquaintance" of at least two Syracuse basketball players. Smith claims Devendorf hit her in the jaw with the heel of his hand. Devendorf says he shoved her in the chest in an act of self-defense after she almost ran him over in her car. Either way, there were no physical injuries and three witnesses, all basketball players, claim the confrontation was verbal, but not physical. The review board found Devendorf didn't take his probation seriously and violated the school's code of conduct, but did not physically harm Smith. So there it is. You decide -- Devendorf the scapegoat or Devendorf the arrogant aggressor?
• The initial impulse upon hearing Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs hired Gene Chizik as the Tigers' new head football coach is to scream, "Are you crazy?" Why would you force out a coach who went 85-40 in 10 seasons and replace him with a coach who went 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State? What would possess you to hire a coach who failed to win a Big 12 conference game the entire season? But in these dark, recessive times, you've got to think positively. Maybe Jacobs is a genius. Remember, Pete Carroll was an unpopular choice at USC until he started winning games. The same goes for Frank Beamer when he became Virginia Tech's coach back in 1987. So while Chizik seems like a bizarre choice right now, he might end up being the best man for the job. Or, he could take over a mediocre football team and turn it into a horrible football team in a mere two years, just as he did in Aimes.
• I've got a lot of friends whose mothers don't get along with their girlfriends. It's an unenviable situation, but no more awkward than Zane Gay's predicament. Gay, a senior guard for Eastern Michigan who is averaging 6.4 points per game, has recently had to deal with a tiff between his roommate and his basketball coach. On November 22, after a 62-47 loss to the University of Detroit, EMU coach Charles Ramsey got into an "altercation" with Gay's roommate outside the team's locker room. Eastern Michigan, which refused to say if physical contact was involved, frowned upon the incident and suspended Ramsey for three days. When asked to comment, Gay replied, "I'm in a tough situation. I can't really say anything." On the bright side, at least Gay's roommate and coach don't have to share a dinner table over the holidays. That'd be the worst.
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