published Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Marquette reminds Murray's Prohm of a football team

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Appearing on an Atlanta-based radio show Friday morning, Murray State basketball coach Steve Prohm likened the Marquette team his Racers will play this afternoon in a West Regional third-round game to a college football team.

"I said, 'They look like they should all be in spring practice at Alabama and LSU playing defensive back and linebacker,'" Prohm said. "They are some physical, physical guys. They look like they should be top-10 draft picks in football."

And they do look like football players, particularly senior twin terrors Jae Crowder (6-6, 235 pounds) and Darius Johnson-Odom (6-2, 215 pounds).

In fact, Marquette coach Buzz Williams admitted, "There have been several NFL teams that I've talked to that already want Jae to come try out."

But do the Golden Eagles players see it that way?

"We play football in the summer," Crowder said.

Real football, pads and stuff?

"Well, a lot of agility drills that football players would do in the combine," Johnson-Odom said. "We do a lot of conditioning, whether that's playing football or doing some kind of activity where we can build our endurance."

And whom do they play?

"We play ourselves," Crowder said.

But if they could play for any football team, their answers varied.

"The Carolina Panthers didn't do good this year, nor did UNC, so I'd play for the LSU Tigers," said Johnson-Odom, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C.

Said Vander Blue, a native of Wisconsin: "I would definitely play for the Green Bay Packers because we have the best chance of winning the championship every year."

Then there was Crowder, who grew up in Villa Rica, Ga.

"Atlanta Falcons," he replied. "I'd be back home playing in the [Georgia] Dome. I don't like cold weather or hot weather. I'd play in the Dome for sure."

Hey, it's worked out pretty well for Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who also once played basketball at the University of California.

Hair today, gone ...?

He may not have the best stats heading into today's third-round NCAA games, but Murray State forward Ed Daniel clearly has the tourney's most popular head of hair.

Or as his teammates refer to his large Afro and white headband, the "Edfro."

"Oh, he's just a fanatic with his hair," Racers forward Ivan Aska said. "He's always got to have his hair right, pick it up. He usually doesn't like us touching it."

The hair has its own Twitter account "Ed Hair," which reportedly has 560 followers.

Daniel -- a 6-foot-7, 230-pound junior from Birmingham -- averages 6.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the 31-1 Racers, who own college basketball's best winning percentage this season.

"I don't really follow him on Twitter because he's my teammate," Aska said. "I follow him everywhere."

And what does MSU coach Steve Prohm think of the hair?

Asked earlier in the week what 'do Daniel might sport for Thursday's eventual win against Colorado State, Prohm said, "Ninety-nine percent chance of an Afro. He's got braids right now, but there's a 99 percent chance he'll go with the headband and the Afro."

After all, why mess with a winning 'do?

Cyclone warning

The overwhelming focus for Kentucky when preparing for Iowa State tonight is justifiably on how to stop point forward Royce White, the only player in the country to lead his team in points (13.1), rebounds (9.2), assists (5.1), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.9).

But UK coach John Calipari believes there's at least one more Cyclone who should seriously concern the top-ranked Wildcats: senior guard Chris Allen, who transferred from Michigan State at the close of the 2010 season.

"One, you've got to be a physical player just to make it through one Michigan State practice," Calipari said. "But [Allen] can also score the ball. Now you're talking about a 3-point shooter who has toughness. Folks, we have our hands full. This is going to be one of the toughest games we've played in a while."

Though Iowa State was making its first NCAA appearance since the 2004-05 season when it knocked off defending national champ Connecticut Thursday night, 77-64, Allen was playing in his 15th tourney game, having helped the Spartans reach one NCAA title game (2009) and a second Final Four in 2010. No other player in this NCAA tourney has seen so much action in March Madness.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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