Fly like an Eagle Coppin's upset: Fang Mitchell's team gave Marylanders another reason to keep tuned in.

March 15, 1997

THE REASON the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the most endearing spectacles in sport is because over the course of a few weekends in March, there are dozens of chances for David to topple Goliath.

Baltimore's Coppin State played the role of David yesterday.

The Eagles' men's basketball team, coached by Fang Mitchell, upset the University of South Carolina, ranked fifth in the nation. It was only the third time in the 59-year history of the tournament that a No. 15 first-round seed has defeated a No. 2 first-round seed. Thousands of people whose office-pool brackets are in tatters will attest to that.

The beauty of Coppin's win, the school's first in an NCAA tournament, is that it will cause people to take notice across the nation and, especially, in its home state. The University of Maryland College Park, with a rich basketball tradition, typically soaks up the attention.

Indeed, many Marylanders were despondent yesterday after the Terps played the role of a chastened Goliath the evening before, beaten by a scrappy squad from the College of Charleston, S.C. Maryland's loss was especially disheartening because of a controversy involving two starters who ignored a team curfew, and because a Dunbar High alumnus, Keith Booth, played so valiantly. He matured into a leader and young man over four college years on TV before the very eyes of the folks who had watched him play as a kid in East Baltimore.

But the pain of Maryland's premature exit from March Madness hadn't had 24 hours to sink in before Coppin, led by Danny Singletary and Antoine Brockington, gave local folks a team they could dream of again. Congratulations to Coppin and Coach Mitchell. To borrow from Texas, Coppin's next opponent, the eyes of Maryland are upon them.

Pub Date: 3/15/97

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