Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Updated: March 19, 10:38 AM ET
Where have you gone, Harold Arceneaux?
The NCAA Tournament is called "The Big Dance." That's a pretty cool nickname. But not as cool as "The Show."
It's pretty impressive when someone who played in just two NCAA Tournament games will forever be known to college basketball fans as "The Show."
But Harold "The Show" Arceneaux will live forever. That's what can happen after a single game in the greatest tournament in sports.
In 1999, No. 3 seed North Carolina -- one of the most storied programs in college basketball -- faced off against No. 14 seed Weber State, the Big Sky champion, in the first round. Hardly anyone gave Weber State any chance to hang with the Tar Heels.
But Arceneaux lived up to his nickname (given to him by the Weber State play-by-play announcer). The 6-foot-6 junior, playing his first season of Division I basketball out of Midland Junior College in Texas, lit up the Tar Heels for 36 points, hitting an array of shots from all over the floor. His two free throws with 13.3 seconds left, coupled with his steal as time expired, clinched Weber State's 76-74 victory -- still one of the biggest and most memorable upsets in NCAA Tournament history.
"I missed my first shot, and coach just told me to settle down and play my game," Arceneaux says. "I hit my second one, and I just found a rhythm."
It's easy to forget that Arceneaux dropped 32 points on Florida in the second round -- but Weber State lost in overtime. "The Show's" life was never the same after that tournament. People bring up the North Carolina game to him practically every day.
"It's a good feeling," Arceneaux says. "It's something that I accomplished, and it's part of the history of the tournament."
Arceneaux has racked up the frequent flyer miles over the last several years. He has played pro ball in France, Venezuela, Portugal, the Philippines, Kuwait and Mexico. Now he's back in the U.S., playing for the Great Falls Explorers in the CBA.
"I've had a pretty cool career," Arceneaux says. "I've gotten to see a lot of places. It's certainly better than working at a job. I get paid to do something I love doing."
Does he still dream about the NBA?
"I'm not really caught up in who should be in the NBA and who shouldn't," Arceneaux says. "I just love ball. Hopefully I'll get a shot sometime. If not, I'll keep playing somewhere else. Teams always come looking for me come playoff time when they need a scorer."
When asked if he had any final words for all his fans, Arceneaux said, "Watch out for Weber State this year!"
The Wildcats, a No. 15 seed this year, play UCLA in the first round Thursday.
Too bad "The Show" can't suit up for them one more time.
-- Kieran Darcy
Gabe Lewullis, Princeton (1996)
Shining moment: The freshman forward from Allentown, Pa., scored the famous game-winning backdoor layup for the 13th-seeded Tigers, dismissing defending national champion UCLA in the first round in Indianapolis. With a minute remaining and the score tied 41-41, an intentional foul by Princeton gave 4-seed UCLA two free throws and the ball. It looked like the end for the Tigers, but Cameron Dollar missed both shots, and Princeton's Steve Goodrich rebounded a Bruins miss with 21 seconds left. Tigers coach Pete Carril called timeout and set up a play where Lewullis would move out to the three-point line and cut to the basket behind UCLA's Charles O'Bannon. Lewullis grabbed a Goodrich pass and laid it in with 3.9 seconds remaining. UCLA had a last chance, but Toby Bailey's shot skimmed off the back rim. Princeton 43, UCLA 41.
Outcome: Princeton's season ultimately ended at the hands of eventual regional champion Mississippi State in the second round. The loss was Carril's final game after 29 years at the helm.
Where is he now? Lewullis is currently an orthopedic surgery resident at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia. He works 80-plus-hour weeks. He doesn't yet have an office to display Tigers memorabilia, but he says he wears Princeton ties whenever he can. Lewullis still plays hoops about three times a week and competes in amateur leagues in the summer.
Says Lewullis: "That moment in time is such a blur to me. I have to watch the tape and even then I see myself running back on defense after I hit the shot and I see myself saying, 'Oh my God.' It's so funny because I don't remember doing that at all. People tell me and I think it's hilarious because I just don't recall doing it. I know what happened because I've seen the tape, but I don't actually remember anything from that moment except this surprise and confusion.
It's funny because that shot is how I'm defined as a basketball player, but when I reflect on my college career that's not what I remember. I think more about how that win propelled us to compete with big-time basketball programs down the road. My favorite moment is probably two years later when we were 27-2 and ranked in the top 10 in the country. We beat a lot of really good programs consistently that year."
-- Mary Buckheit
Elijah Allen, Fairleigh Dickinson (1998)
Shining moment: Fairleigh Dickinson, a No. 15 seed, faced No. 2 seed Connecticut in the first round. FDU guard Elijah Allen put on an absolutely incredible performance, scoring 43 points against the Huskies. Allen made 14 of 17 field-goal attempts, 9 of 11 free throws and went 6-of-7 on 3-point attempts. He also had eight rebounds.
Outcome: Despite Allen's effort, FDU eventually fell to UConn 93-85.
Where Is he now? Allen was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 USBL draft, but decided to play in France for a year. He played for the Golden State Warriors' summer league team in 1999, and was in training camp with the IBL Richmond Rhythm in November 1999. He called it quits on his playing career after that. These days, in addition to investing in real estate, Allen is the head basketball coach at University High School in Newark, N.J. "I always tell my kids, those days in the gym when nobody is paying attention, when nobody's cheering for you -- you never know what that'll do for you. You never know when center stage is coming. If you're not prepared, it'll pass you by."
Says Allen: "I didn't even realize how many points I had. I wasn't counting baskets or anything. I was just trying to get a victory. It was a hell of an experience. I wish more people could experience that. I definitely have mixed emotions about that game. I mean, I gave everything I had. We all did. But at the same time, I've always thought we could have changed that whole tournament with a couple more baskets.
That night, all my hard work paid off. I'll always treasure it."
-- Kieran Darcy
Jamie Sykes, Valparaiso (1998)
Shining moment: In the first round of the Midwest Regional on Friday the 13th, No. 13 seed Valpo faced fourth-seeded Ole Miss. The Crusaders trailed 69-67 with Mississippi's Ansu Sesay set to shoot free throws with 4.1 seconds left. Sesay missed both, and when the rebound was knocked out of bounds, the ball went to the Crusaders. Needing to go the length of the court, Valpo called a play known as "Pacer." Sykes, a senior from Kankakee, Ill., hurled the inbounds pass baseball-style to Bill Jenkins, who then found an open Bryce Drew. Standing behind the three-point line on the right side, Drew drained a 23-footer as time expired for the 70-69 upset -- Valparaiso's first-ever NCAA tournament win.
Outcome: Valpo went on to beat No. 12 seed Florida State in overtime in the second round, but it ultimately fell to Cuttino Mobley and No. 8 seed Rhode Island, 74-68, in the Sweet 16.
Where is he now? Jamie Sykes was inducted into Valparaiso's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. He also played baseball at Valpo, hitting .344 in 129 career games. Sykes currently lives south of Chicago. After playing five years of minor league baseball in the Diamondbacks organization, Sykes is now pursuing his MBA and is engaged to be married in June. His daughter Haley just turned 6.
Flirtation with baseball: "After my junior year, I was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 11th round. I was going to go back to Valpo for my last year of school but they didn't want me playing basketball.
It was about two weeks before the first game that I started getting pressure from coach (Homer) Drew. I remember we called the Diamondbacks together one night. The head of player development at the time was an old southern guy, Mel Didier. I remember he said on the phone, 'Jamie, if you didn't want to play basketball this year I would have lost respect for you.' So he let me play and for some reason right from there everything that year just sort of happened."
Says Sykes: "Just today, when I was at the gym, I ran into a guy who works for the local hospital here and he asked if I was me. He told me he and some of the hospital executives were at the game in St. Louis.
When I was playing baseball, one of the guys in Arizona said his dad won like 50 grand on us in Vegas. That was probably the funniest thing I've heard. I said 'Where's my piece of it?'"
Looking back: "As for the Ole Miss game -- we just got lucky. You know the old saying of teams after the fact like, we knew we could do it even though nobody believed us. It wasn't like that. We didn't think we were going to beat Ole Miss. We battled them but they were a dominant team who definitely had more talent than we did.
When I threw the pass, I just watched it go down the court and I saw Bill jump and I saw the way everything was set up at the other end and there was this moment like, 'Oh my God, it's going to work. This is going to work, it's working!' I didn't even run down the court until the shot went in. I couldn't move from the baseline until it fell, and then you see the replay and I was like the second one on the pile."
-- Mary Buckheit
Jai Lewis, George Mason (2006)
Shining moment:Perhaps no run in the NCAA Tournament was more memorable than George Mason's in 2006. The first school from a mid-major conference to make the Final Four since UNLV in 1991, the Patriots proved this was a new era, one in which smaller schools with experienced lineups could be as competitive as the biggest boys on the block. The 6-foot-7, 275-pound Lewis averaged 11.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in five tournament games, including a 20-point, seven-rebound performance in the Elite Eight against Connecticut and a 13-point, 11-rebound game in the Final Four against Florida.
Outcome: The Patriots didn't luck their way through the Washington, D.C., regional. They bumped teams out of the way, much like Lewis did his opponents. No. 11 seed George Mason defeated No. 6 Michigan State, No. 3 North Carolina and No. 7 Wichita State to reach the regional final. The Patriots then beat top-seeded Connecticut in overtime to reach the Final Four, where they lost to the eventual national champion, Florida.
Where is he now? Lewis went overseas to play professionally. He started in Bosnia, but left after an unpleasant month and a half. "I couldn't communicate," he said, lamenting the lack of English speakers there. He then moved on to Israel, where he currently plays for Ramat Gan of the Premier League. Israel is a better fit for Lewis because it's more like what he's familiar with. "They've got McDonald's. Everything's in English. Nice little transition from college."
Flirtation with football: Lewis' tournament run didn't immediately translate into opportunities in professional basketball. So when teams weren't calling for his services, he picked up the calls from a different sport -- football. The Washington Redskins invited the Aberdeen, Md., native to try out for the team as a tight end. "I couldn't close that door," said Lewis, who played football in high school. "I just took that shot. If I'd liked it, I would have stayed with it." But after trying out, he let go of the idea. "Basketball took over my life," he remembered. "I missed it too much."
Says Lewis: "We loved going out there each night, playing a different opponent we weren't supposed to beat. Letting them know mid-majors could get deep in the tournament."
Looking back: From Israel, Lewis kept up with this year's Patriots as they advanced to the final of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. "I wanted to make sure they kept up the legacy," he said proudly. "We started a legacy."
-- Bomani Jones
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