Dukes Depart for Charlottesville
A crowd of well-wishers attended a send-off for the Dukes Friday afternoon at the JMU Convocation Center.
Head Coach Kenny Brooks told the fans "Let's turn that blue into purple (at John Paul Jones Arena). Let's make it the Convocation Center in Charlottesville."
JMU President Linwood H. Rose announced that at last week's Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, the Dukes had "the best pep band, the best fans, the best cheerleaders and the best team."
Dr. Rose also took the opportunity to give the JMU Dukes some coaching. "You are going to have to run the floor... hit your free throws... stay with them on defense... and box out!"
A Good Omen
As the Dukes' bus left the Convocation Center, a rainbow, traditionally an omen of good fortune, appeared in the sky.
Following dinner at Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse in Harrisonburg (where Coach Brooks autographed a tropical drink umbrella for a Dukes' fan), the JMU team bus made its way over the Blue Ridge mountains to Charlottesville. Some team members took in a movie, "The Lincoln Lawyer," starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei, in Charlottesville before returning to the hotel for lights out.
Beth & Debbie's Shootaround Shooters of the Year
The women's basketball podcast "Shootaround with Beth & Debbie: with Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli, has selected three players on teams in the NCAA Dayton Region at Charlottesville for consideration for its Shootaround Shooter of the Year. JMU's Dawn Evans, Oklahoma's Aaryn Ellenberg and Miami's Riquna Williams were among the six mentioned in the March 9 podcast.
Beth Mowins is ESPN's play-by-play announcer for the NCAA first- and second-round games in Charlottesville.
Shootaround Shooters of the Year
- Dawn Evans, JMU, Sr., CAA Player of the Year, leads CAA and tied seventh in NCAA in 3-point average (3.1)
- Angie Bjorklund, Tennessee, Sr., leads SEC and fifth in NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage (45.3)
- Maggie Lucas, Penn State, Fr., leading freshman scorer in the Big 10 (16.2), Big 10 leader and fourth in NCAA in 3-point average (3.3), second in the league in 3-point percentage (43.8)
- Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma, Fr., leads Big 12 in 3-point average (2.72), All-Big 12 Honorable Mention
- Brittany Chambers, Kansas State, So., second in Big 12 in 3-point average (2.71), All-Big 12 First Team
- Riquna Williams, Miami, Jr., ACC's leading scorer (21.7), All-ACC Second Team
Dayton as a Destination
There's at least one student athlete at the University of Dayton who is rooting for the Dukes to advance to the Sweet 16 at the Dayton Arena. Josh Parker, a redshirt junior on the Flyers' men's basketball team, is the boyfriend of JMU senior Dawn Evans.
Like Evans, Parker is a team captain. Unlike JMU, the Flyers were a surprise finalist in their conference tournament. Dayton, the tournament's number nine seed, upset top-seeded and 18th-ranked Xavier in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals on March 11 and beat No. 12 seed St. Joseph's 64-61 in the semifinals on March 12. Dayton lost 67-54 to Richmond in the final and was eliminated 94-84 by the College of Charleston in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on March 15.
Parker, the sixth man for the Flyers, averaged 7.0 points and 2.6 assists playing just 17.6 minutes per game this season. In Dayton's A-10 semifinal win over St. Joseph's, Doug Harris of the Dayton News reported that "The box score may not show it, but Parker helped the Flyers pick up the tempo in the second half after St. Joe's had erased a 13-point deficit."
"He gave us a big lift in the second half," Dayton coach Brian Gregory was quoted in Harris' story. "He got the pace back on track and did a great job guarding (Carl) Jones during that time. I thought that was a big key to the game."
Parker set up Chris Wright for back-to-back dunks, once while passing in transition and another time with a dish in the half-court offense, the Dayton News story reported.
Parker and Evans first met in Cancun, Mexico, in November 2008 when JMU and Parker's then team, Drake, were playing in respective tournaments at the Moon Palace Resort. They stayed in touch and began dating in 2010.