Facial hair often becomes a calling card… from Abraham Lincoln to ZZ Top… from Ulysses Grant to Tom Selleck… sideburns, beards, mustaches and muttonchops take one to the next level.  Kids growing up in the 60’s knew the Beatles were on something during Sgt. Pepper because they all grew mustaches for the album cover… and Clark Gable’s ears went from creepy to Oscar Winning when he started sporting a ‘stache.  Old Dominion fires Blaine Taylor after a 2-20 start and 239 wins over 12 seasons…the previous six of which saw postseason tournament activity for his Monarchs.  ODU’s last foray into the NCAA’s came two years ago when they lost 60-58 to finals-bound Butler.  He made mens hoops relevant at the CAA school… and as it goes to Conference USA next year they’ll be minus their architect– as well as a trademark mustache that was dyed and un-dyed over the last few years… getting as much attention as his Monarchs.


Georgetown (16-4, 6-3) did quite a doozy on the Big East’s second leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison:  the Hoyas held the St. John’s guard to 2 points on 0-for-9 shooting while beating the Red Storm 68-56 for the team’s fourth straight victory.  Markel Starks has filled the void left by Greg Whittington… scoring 15ppg while shooting 43% from 3-point range the last three games.  Coach John Thompson III’s team completes its Big Apple Trio by facing future Big Ten Doormat Rutgers– and then faces three ranked teams in 12 days.


Alma Mater Update– that sound you heard last Saturday when Syracuse lost 65-55 at Pitt was the other shoe dropping… the Orange (19-3, 7-2) showed their lack of depth (7 scholarship players) and didn’t play well against a Pitt team that appears to be built to beat them (Panthers have won seven of nine against SU).  Two nights later a few of the fears were put aside with a 63-47 thumping of Notre Dame (Irish have been ugly when losing this winter– they scored just 47 a month ago in a defeat against Georgetown).  Perhaps its all a timing issue:  ESPN.COM reports the Orange are 16-0 in games that begin at 1pm or later… and 2-3 in tilts that tip off before then.  Perhaps Sign of the Whale’s Bloody Mary  Bar has effects outside M Street.


Maryland (16-6, 4-5) has not found the road kind this ACC season… but can you blame them?  The Terps road losses are to league leading Miami, defending champ Florida State, Duke and North Carolina (combined 26-9 in the league)  Let’s just say things lighten up a bit (a 14-30 combined mark).  If the current offensive trend continues (four straight games of 60+ points), this team could sneak its way back up the standings.  But first they have to beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.


Cruising the Commonwealth– I’m still getting used to the fact that Miami is 9-0 in the ACC.  The last non- UNC/Duke team to start 9-0?  Virginia in 1981–Ralph Sampson and company went on to play in the last National Third Place Game.  Current Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga was an assistant on that team…while the current Cavaliers (15-6, 5-3) remain winless in the ACC outside the dominion by wasting a nine point halftime lead in a 66-60 loss at Georgia Tech.  Coach Tony Bennett’s team now has three straight games against teams with losing conference records before visiting North Carolina–one month after shocking the Tar Heels in Charlottesville.  Virginia Tech (11-10, 2-6) has two decent chances to end its four game losing streak with Maryland and Georgia Tech dropping by Blacksburg over the next three days.  Erick Green (25ppg) is on track to take the Sean Singletary Award as the best player on an irrelevant team.

George Mason (14-9, 7-4) finds itself in the middle of a five team scrum… just one game in the CAA separates 2nd from 5th place.  After consecutive losses to Drexel (?) and league leading Northeastern (the Huskies running away with the CAA this winter), back to back wins against James Madison and Old Dominion right the Patriot ship– and coach Paul Hewitt may finally have and offensive option outside of Sherrod Wright in Jonathan Arledge (18 pts & 6 reb over the last 3 games).  A huge week ahead for GMU with games against Delaware, Drexel and Georgia State– three schools within one game of the Patriots.

George Washington (11-10, 5-3) bounced back from an 80-71 home loss to La Salle by defeating Duquesne 79-57…Lasan Kromah scoring 19 points off the bench (his third double digit effort in five games) while Isaiah Armwood notched his first double-double in almost a month.  At 5-3 in the Atlantic Ten, they’ve already equalled last year’s conference win total.  But the second half of league play begins with the new kids in town (sorry NKOTB fans, I going with an Eagles reference instead)–consecutive games against #14 Butler and recently ranked VCU.  Gulp.

Maryland Womens’ Window– Monday the 7th ranked Terps (18-3, 9-1) face #5 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium… with first place in the league up for grabs.  While the Terps tangle with the Blue Devils 13 days later in College Park, they also have a trip to #19 Florida State on the slate.  Can they beat the Blue Devils despite having an injury ravaged lineup with just six players recruited to play basketball at the school?  Duke has won all ten of its league games by at least double digits…but they haven’t faced a duo like Tianna Hawkins (19ppg, 10rpg) and Alyssa Thomas (17ppg, 10rpg, 6apg).

American (8-14, 3-4) wrapped up the first half of Patriot League play with a 68-64 victory over Lafayette…as Stephen Lumpkins (24pts, 9reb) scored at will down low (8-10FG, 8-9 FT).  Can the Eagle win consecutive games for the first time since November?  Colgate drops by Bender Arena Saturday…they beat the Raiders by nine in Hamilton last month.

Howard (5-18, 2-7) snapped a six game losing streak by beating South Carolina State 57-45…holding the eagles to 16 second half points.  Sophomore Prince Okoroh notched his first double-double of the season (17 points and 10 rebounds)… if he can produce these efforts more consistently this month- he’ll be a nice complement to senior Mike Phillips.  Good news for the Bison– they play Maryland-Eastern Shore twice in February…and the Hawks are 1-17 with a 1-6 MEAC record.