It's not stretching a point to call Towson State coach Carl Runk the John Madden of lacrosse.
Runk won't fly. Just doesn't like to. Madden, who likes flying no more than Runk does, motors around the country in his customized bus in his job as an NFL TV commentator.
So yesterday at 4:30 a.m., Runk eased into his car and, accompanied by his wife Joan and a batch of cigars, drove to Syracuse, N.Y., for a mid-day news conference with the other Final Four coaches whose teams will play in the Carrier Dome Saturday.
To enlighten the masses, Runk noted during the conference that his school "is eight minutes north of Johns Hopkins and it's not Townsend State but Towson State."
* IN PERFECT POSITION: Top-seeded North Carolina is 14-0, putting Dave Klarmann in position to become the second rookie head coach to go undefeated and win the NCAA lacrosse championship. The only man to do it was Johns Hopkins' Don Zimmerman in 1984.
Klarmann is sparing with his words around the media, but he did offer this about the Tar Heels' semifinal with Syracuse: "We've played them once, we know their names, we've got their statistics and film, but we don't know them that well." What more does he need?
* CROWD PLEASER: The NCAA says Roy Simmons, coach of three-time defending champion Syracuse, has "guaranteed" a crowd of 25,000 for Monday's final. The record is 23,827 for Syracuse vs. Johns Hopkins at Maryland's Byrd Stadium in 1989.
"It's important that we be in the Final Four so we'll have a lot of Orange in the Dome," Simmons said. "We draw from all over Central New York. I'm not sure the numbers would be there if we weren't in it."
North Carolina is up against some heavy numbers of another sort: In the Carrier Dome, the Orangemen have won 31 of their last 32 (the loss was to Hopkins in March) and 67 of 71 since the place opened in 1980.
* ALL-ACC TERPS: Maryland, which will meet Towson State in the other semi, placed two players on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team -- attackman Mark Douglas for the third straight year (he made it as a midfielder last season) and defenseman Brian Burlace. Defenseman Danny Robbins was named ACC Rookie of the Year.
With 48 goals, Douglas needs one to tie the Maryland single-season record set by Bill Pettit in 1963.
As a defenseman, Burlace is a pretty good attackman. On four occasions in Sunday's win over Brown, Burlace took shots after racing the length of the field in clearing the ball and made one. He also picked up a save when he blocked a shot with his legs while Steve Kavovit was out of the cage. Burlace has three goals on 14 shots this season.
* FACTS AND FIGURES: Towson is the second No. 11 seed in tournament history to reach the Final Four. The other was Cornell in 1988.
It's a good thing the Tigers are used to bucking stiff lacrosse odds. Here are this week's: Towson is 7-27 against the other Final Four guests -- 5-15 vs. North Carolina, 1-10 vs. Maryland and 1-2 vs. Syracuse.
* TICKETS: Tickets are on sale at the Towson Center (830-2244), Bacharach Rasin (825-6747) and Lax World (321-7333). Prices are $22 for all three sessions, $14 for semifinals only and $12 for the championship game.