Adversity aside, Mason triumphs

Okla. State standout leads charge against Pepperdine


Ncaa Tournament

March 19, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

One of the most intriguing and gratifying stories of the NCAA tournament belongs to one of the nation's lesser-known standouts -- at least in the East.

Oklahoma State's Desmond Mason, a certain NBA first-round pick, has survived more than his share of adversity in his young life.

At age 3, he was sprayed with red-hot radiator fluid when a friend of his father's unscrewed a cap too quickly and the liquid poured through a window into another car where Mason was sleeping. He spent three months in a hospital, a year in therapy and another year with his left leg in a cast after being told he may never walk again.

By age 7, he was playing sports.

Then his father, Johnney, was arrested for selling drugs in his hometown of Waxahachie, Texas, and served two years in prison when Desmond was a teen-ager. Without supervision, Desmond missed almost half his freshman year in high school.

"I swore that `Hey, this ain't going to work. I've screwed up enough with this family, and this is where it stops,' " Johnney was quoted about the aftermath of his release in an Oklahoma newspaper last month.

As Johnney turned his life around, he steered his son away from the same mistakes he had made. He secured honest work and directed his son into positive endeavors. There were many disagreements, but eventually Desmond came to understand.

An aspiring artist who has already sold five paintings, Mason scored 30 points in the Cowboys' opening-round rout of Hofstra. He will be the pivotal player for Oklahoma State again today against the frenetic style of Pepperdine, which upset Indiana on Friday night.

He must perform better than Indiana All-American A. J. Guyton, who did not score a field goal and was held to three points in a 77-57 defeat. And -- like his teammates -- Mason must overcome the underdog sentiment for the 11th-seeded Waves, who captured the crowd with their freewheeling ways and '60s Afro hairstyles.

Can Temple move in?

Much ado is being made over today's East Regional matchup of the Seton Hall and Temple point guards, Shaheen Holloway and Pepe Sanchez. But the game could well be decided inside where the Pirates match their youth and height with Temple's experience and bulk.

The Owls had very little success scoring in the paint against Lafayette's zone despite an easy victory and now confront a near 7-footer in Seton Hall freshman center Samuel Dalembert, who is mobile and athletic.

"The inside play will be a huge factor," said Holloway, whose electrifying drive with 1.9 seconds left in overtime ousted Oregon in the first round. "Our perimeter game gets all the press, but our big guys have been carrying our team all year. People forget they are all freshmen."

Temple also needs to get its big men involved, so as to open up the floor for the likes of Baltimore's Mark Karcher, who attempted 16 three-pointers (hitting five) Friday. Coach John Chaney was piqued by the team's inability to hit "two-footers" against Lafayette.

Ohio State gets loose

Ohio State guards Michael Redd and Scoonie Penn couldn't wait until the NCAA tournament began. Finally, the Buckeyes had rid themselves of the rough, rugged likes of Michigan State and Wisconsin.

In the first round of the South Regional, eighth-ranked Ohio State looked refreshed and loose. They shot a season-best 58 percent in an 87-61 win over overmatched Appalachian State.

Now the third-seeded Buckeyes (23-6) face the sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes in today's sec ond-round game at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

The Hurricanes (22-10), who beat Ohio State during the 1998-99 regular season, are your typical hard-nosed Big East team. But they look a lot like many of the teams the Buckeyes faced during the Big Ten season.

"I expect it to be a hard game for us to score," Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien said.

Harp, Phog assistant, dies

Former Kansas basketball coach Dick Harp, who was an assistant to Phog Allen, coached Wilt Chamberlain and helped bring current coach Roy Williams to Kansas, died yesterday in Lawrence, Kan. He was 81.

Harp was an assistant under Allen from 1949 to 1956, then had a 121-82 record in eight seasons as coach.

Allen recruited Harp from Rosedale High School in Kansas City, Kan., beginning what would become a 60-year relationship with the basketball program.

"I thought that was special, until I reported and about 50 other freshman candidates showed up," Harp once said.

Harp was among a handful of players to play and coach in an NCAA championship game.

In his first season as head coach, Harp took the Jayhawks with Chamberlain to the NCAA finals in 1957. No. 2 Kansas lost to undefeated and No. 1 North Carolina in triple overtime, 54-53.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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