COLLEGE PARK -- It should be old hat to an old pro like Len Elmore, but the former Maryland All-American center can't help feeling a little nostalgic every time he walks into Cole Field House.
"Things have certainly changed," said Elmore, who will analyze today's quartet of games in the East Region of the NCAA tournament here for CBS-TV.
"You look at the floor and it's different, but it's still a great place and I have a lot of great memories here."
Elmore, who gave up a prosecutor's job in New York City to pursue more broadcasting opportunities, says North Carolina State's familiarity with the Cole court shouldn't give it an edge over the seven other teams in this subregional.
"If you're proficient on the road, this shouldn't matter," said Elmore. "Southern Mississippi [the Wolfpack's first-round opponent] is 11-5 on the road this year. They know what it takes to win."
Elmore thinks Syracuse, the region's second seed, should survive this weekend's games here and advance to next weekend's regional semifinals in East Rutherford, N.J., provided that the Orangemen take their task seriously.
"They've got all the talent. If I were the coach, I would not let them off the hook one bit. The worst thing that could happen to Syracuse is if they play [Richmond] close for 30-35 minutes. Those last five to 10 minutes can become a living hell."
* ON THE MARK: There's no such thing as a bad shot in Temple's offense as long as it's Mark Macon taking it. At least that's the perspective of coach John Chaney, who has said, "I'd rather have my best player take a bad shot than my worst player take a good shot."
In that vein, Macon launched an unanswered 40-foot prayer at the buzzer in a 52-50, Atlantic 10 tournament loss to Penn State last week. Three defenders were on him, and other teammates were open. The night before he banked a three-pointer off the glass with two seconds left to beat West Virginia, 56-53.
Even though Macon is a career 42 percent field goal shooter at Temple, he is the school's all-time leading scorer. And Chaney will abide no criticism of his star.
"Mark Macon is one of 40 people who have scored over 2,500 points," Chaney said. "People ask what has happened [to him]? Nothing has happened. He has become a better player. A great player is one who makes all around him better. That is what he has done for us."
* SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Everywhere he goes, somebody mistakes Maryland forward Evers Burns for someone that he's not.
Namely Syracuse All-American Billy Owens.
"I hear it in the airports all the time," said Burns. "One time, one guy just started talking to me and then he said, 'Aren't you Billy?' I said, "Billy who?' "
The resemblance came home literally yesterday when Burns dropped in on team practices and got even more attention for the famous person he looks like.
"One question I want to ask him is if he gets the same thing," said Burns.
The answer from Owens was no. The 6-foot-9 junior from Carlisle, Pa., said he had never heard of nor met Burns, a 6-8 sophomore from Woodlawn.
When they did meet an hour later, both agreed that there was something to all the confusion.
"We both came to the agreement that if we both look alike we must be two good-looking guys," said Burns.
* TICKETS, ANYONE? There were a couple hundred tickets left for this afternoon's games, which will be blacked out on local TV. Tonight's games are sellouts, and the blackout will be lifted.
* THE CASTING COUCH: Part of the blessing/curse of getting to the NCAA tournament is getting your face on television.
For N.C. State's wonder backcourt of Rodney Monroe and Chris Corchiani, showing up on the tube has never been a problem.
But yesterday, the senior duo got a new challenge, as they
performed their first acting role.
The CBS crew assigned to College Park wanted Corchiani and Monroe to trade on their nicknames of "Fire" and "Ice," respectively, for a short promo to appear before the telecast.
Here's the script they followed:
Chris: "I'm Chris Corchiani of North Carolina State, and I'm Fire.
Rodney: "And I'm Rodney Monroe and I'm Ice."
Chris: "We'll burn you on offense."
Rodney: "And freeze you on defense."
Chris: "You know, it can get mighty hot out there."
Rodney: "You mean it can get mighty cold."
Both: "Together on the road to the Final Four."
Simple enough, right? It took 12 takes to get a copy that could be used, leading announcer Verne Lundquist to note, "You're no threat."
And he's probably right.