With no knees to speak of, Darden a hit

Coastal Carolina standout believe-it-or-not material


March 13, 2002|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Randallstown's Tony Darden is a natural story for this time of the year.

March Madness always brings out some unlikely heroes on the court.

But, though Darden didn't make it to the NCAA tournament, what he has accomplished at little Coastal Carolina is as unlikely as it gets.

Darden has two deficient anterior cruciate ligaments, forcing him to wear knee braces every time he plays. When his playing days are over, he'll have to have both knees operated on.

"The doctors believe the broken leg I had when I was a little over 1 year old caused the ACLs not to function," said Darden.

He had to make the basketball team not once, not twice, but three times as a walk-on before finally receiving a scholarship (his sophomore season, because he had to sit out his second year with an ankle injury) after a 16-point, six-rebound game at Georgetown.

To top it off, Darden is a 6-foot-3 junior center. He not only started, but also led the team in rebounding (5.9 average) and was third in scoring (10.9 points).

"I didn't know any better coming out of Randallstown," said Darden. "I thought 6-3 was tall. It was for Baltimore County."

"Tony went to war every night for us," said coach Pete Strickland. "And he was twice named Big South Player of the Week. But tell those people in Baltimore not to send me any more 6-3 centers."

Et cetera

Freshman Amy Harmel (Archbishop Spalding) of the Coast Guard Academy has been named women's basketball's Rookie of the Year by the New England Athletic Conference. Harmel averaged 12.2 points and 2.4 assists and led the league with 57 three pointers, helping the team to a school-record 16 wins.

Penn State senior Ryan Olkowski (Calvert Hall) was named an All-American twice Friday night at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Olkowski finished fifth in the high jump (6-11 3/4 ) and eighth in the 200 meters (21.23 seconds). The top eight finishers in each receive All-America honors.

Have an item for Postcards? Contact Bill Free by e-mail at bfree706@hotmail.com or by phone at 410-833-5349.

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