Carter gets ticket home

G. Mason reserve, Indy native makes unexpected return trip

Men's Final Four Notebook

College Basketball


INDIANAPOLIS -- Only one player on the Final Four teams is making a homecoming this weekend, George Mason sophomore guard Jordan Carter. His parents, aunts and uncles were among some 20 family members and friends attending yesterday's practice session at the RCA Dome, and they're all hoping to be at tonight's semifinal as well.

"I've only got 12 tickets so far," Carter's mother, Kathleen, admitted as she mixed watching her son with doing television and newspaper interviews in the stands. "As many as 20 family members and friends are expected to attend tonight's semifinal. "People from the job are going, too, and his high school coach. And he's got a lot of fans here."

Kathleen and her husband, Steven, became celebrities themselves when they returned to Indianapolis the day after the Washington Regional final.

"A lot of people were calling asking for tickets. TV stations were calling before I got back, wanting to do interviews at the house at 7 o'clock [a.m.]," she said. "Neighbors put a big sign in my yard, `Good Luck, Jordan, Congratulations.' I had to go back to work to get some rest."

"A lot of media went through my room and stuff," said Jordan Carter, who starred at Brebeuf Jesuit Prep. As for coming home to play for the national championship, he said, "I'm speechless. It's a coincidence. I don't know how to explain it. I didn't sign at Mason to go to the Final Four in Indianapolis, but I'll take it."

Thomas' backers

At the other end of the spectrum, the only family member able to see George Mason sophomore Will Thomas tonight will be his father, Leverne. A travel conflict is keeping the Baltimore native's mother, Debbie, and his older sister Monica from making it to town in time. The two were to arrive in Indianapolis late today from Jacksonville, Fla., where Monica is stationed at the naval air station.

"They went to the game against Wichita State [on March 24], and my sister had to go back down to Florida," Thomas said, "and my mother drove down there with her. My mother stayed for the whole week."

If Thomas is still playing Monday, however, they all are expected to be there.

Old ties

At yesterday's practice was one of George Mason coach Jim Larranaga's former players, Steve Martenet, who played for Larranaga's first two Bowling Green teams from 1986 to 1988 (and was a third-team academic All-American as a senior). Martenet drove from Milwaukee with his wife and three children to see Mason and his old coach.

"It's exciting. I didn't want to miss this, and I'm looking forward to seeing Coach L again," he said. "Even if it wasn't Coach L, and it was just a mid-major making it to the Final Four, but because it's him, that makes it all the more exciting. I'm glad to see him enjoying it."

Martenet and his family wore homemade green George Mason T-shirts.

"It's hard to find George Mason gear in Milwaukee, so we improvised," he said.

Injury report

UCLA coach Ben Howland said 7-foot senior Ryan Hollins suffered a contusion on his right knee, above the kneecap, about 20 minutes into yesterday's practice. Hollins sat out the rest of the practice.

"I would expect it would take a lot to keep him out of that game," Howland said. "We'll see that later."

Howland also said that sophomore center Lorenzo Mata, who broke his nose in practice on Wednesday had a CT scan done. Mata did not practice on Thursday, but did practice yesterday with a mask on.

"Our trainer did a good job of snapping it right back into place," Howland said. "They looked at it. The doctors were impressed. ... He's got two broken noses and a broken leg going right now. Hopefully, he can stay healthy here the rest of the way."

Lewis and Manning

It's no secret George Mason forward Jai Lewis has attracted the attention of NFL scouts, but now Lewis has the Colts quarterback pining for him, too.

At the NCAA salute on Thursday night, Lewis and one member from each of the other Final Four teams were introduced to Peyton Manning.

"[Manning] said he wished he had me on his team," Lewis said. "But I'm just worried about basketball right now."

Sun reporter Heather A. Dinich contributed to this article.

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