Baynes shines, Cougars fall in Sweet 16

Baynes shines, Cougars fall in Sweet 16

Australia Post Boomers squad member Aron Baynes put in a solid performance against America’s best college player Tyler Hansbrough but the Washington State Cougars fell to North Carolina this afternoon, 68-47. Named dual players of the game, Baynes held Hansbrough

Australia Post Boomers squad member Aron Baynes put in a solid performance against America’s best college player Tyler Hansbrough but the Washington State Cougars fell to North Carolina this afternoon, 68-47.

Named dual players of the game, Baynes held Hansbrough to two first half points before the 3-time All-American responded in the second to finish with game highs in scoring (18 points) and rebounding (9).

Baynes more than held his own against Hansbrough and finished with team highs in scoring (14 points on 6-8 shooting) and rebounding (8).

The rest of the Washington State Cougars failed to provide Baynes with any support in the ‘Sweet 16’ matchup, shooting a combined 12-49 from the field (25 per cent).

Baynes, a 6’10”, 123 kilogram powerhouse from Mareeba in North Queensland, had a fine season for the Cougars, doubling his production of previous seasons in points, rebounds and blocked shots.

He averaged 10.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots per game over 34 games and impressed pundits with his superior strength and determination.

Baynes now has a big decision to make. Born in New Zealand but raised in Australia and a graduate of the AIS, he is eligible to play senior basketball for Australia or New Zealand, but not both.

Tall Black administrators want Baynes to join the national team for the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in July and the Australia Post Boomers want Baynes in the green and gold.

After today’s performance, both nations will want him even more.

In related news, Luke Cooper and four other Aussies have advanced to the Final 4 of the NCAA men's Division II tournament. Read more.

Baynes in Sweet 16

Do Aron Baynes’ Washington State Cougars stand a chance against the mighty North Carolina Tar Heels?

The teams face off on Friday morning at 10am (AET) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament and almost every pundit is predicting North Carolina will advance.

But every year there is one side that reminds fans that the 65-team tournament is called ‘March Madness’ for a reason.

Strange things happen. Giants stumble. Heroes become zeroes. A nobody becomes a somebody in the space of 40 minutes, sometimes even in a second.

Could 2008 be the year of the Cougar? If it is, you won’t want to miss it.

Watch the game LIVE on ESPN at 10am Eastern. (TIP OFF 10:27am)

Need a primer? Watch this video of Baynes tearing up OSU in a match-winning performance, complete with INXS soundtrack.


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Baynes in Sweet 16, Lacey hits game winner
25 March 2008
Cairns basketballer Aaron Baynes’ Washington State Cougars have advanced to the ‘Sweet 16’ of the NCAA tournament in the United States and will face college powerhouse North Carolina on Thursday in America.

Michael Jordan’s alma mater North Carolina is the No. 1 seed and has registered 39 and 31-point victories in its first two games of the 65-team tournament.

The Cougars advanced after a 31-point victory over Winthrop in the opening round, 71-40, and a 20-point victory over highly touted Notre Dame in the second, 61-41.

Baynes shot a perfect 9-9 from the field and finished with game highs in points (19) and rebounds (8) against Winthrop and shot 2-7 from the field to tally six points and a team high 11 rebounds against Notre Dame.

Baynes, an AIS graduate, was named in the 33-man Australia Post Boomers squad for Beijing last week, but is yet to decide on whether to represent Australia or New Zealand at the highest level.

He was born in Gisborne, New Zealand in 1986 and is the younger brother of former Brisbane Bullet Callum Baynes.

With 16 teams remaining, Washington State will have to win four more games without losing to be crowned National Champion.

Three years ago, Melbourne's Andrew Bogut all but assured his No. 1 NBA Draft selection by leading the Utah Utes to the Sweet 16 after an award-winning sophomore season.

In women’s NCAA opening round action, Canberra’s Alison Lacey hit a crucial shot in the final minute and followed it with two successful free throws to lift Iowa State over Georgia Tech, 58-55.

Iowa State's second round match was against highly favoured Rutgers on Tuesday March 25, the team at the centre of radio shock jock Don Imus's now infamous politically incorrect statement, but Lacey's Iowa State lost by eleven points, 69-58.

Lacey shot 3-9 from the field and finished with 10 points, an equal game-high 7 assists and 2 rebounds.

To visit ESPN’s NCAA women’s tournament home page click here.

To visit ESPN’s NCAA men’s tournament home page click here.

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Maric on ESPN
Nebraska senior and 2008 Australia Post Boomers squad member Aleks Maric faced Mississippi in the 2nd round of the NIT on the road on Tuesday at 12 noon Sydney time. The game was telecast live on ESPN.

Maric, the lone senior on Nebraska's squad, scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting to lead the Huskers, but they fell in overtime to Ole Miss, 86-75.

Maric added 10 rebounds for his 39th career double-double, which ranks fifth in Big 12 history and second in the NU record book, and had four assists, three steals and two blocked shots in the loss.

Maric ended his career fifth on the Husker all-time scoring chart with 1,630 points and ranks second on the NU rebounding chart with 1,015 boards. He tied the Nebraska single-season mark with 335 rebounds this year.

Excellent A.J. Ogilvy video featureAs seen on ESPN's SportsCenter, click here to watch Aussie Hoops America's Mark Brown chatting with A.J. Ogilvy in Nashville, Tennessee.

Aussie NCAA run takes a hit
22 March 2008

Only one of four athletes named in the Australia Post Boomers squad on Wednesday that play college basketball in America have survived the first round of ‘March Madness’.

Cairns powerhouse Aron Baynes led the Washington State Cougars in scoring and rebounding in a 71-40 victory over Winthrop on Friday night, shooting a perfect 9-from-9 from the field to finish with 19 points and 8 rebounds.

Baynes, the younger brother of former Brisbane Bullet Callum Baynes, is eligible to play internationally for Australia or New Zealand but is yet to make his final decision.

Live-wire guard Patrick Mills connected on six 3-pointers from 14 attempts and led the St. Mary’s College Gaels in points (24) and assists (5) but the Gaels fell to the Miami Hurricanes, 78-64.

Mills posted a St. Mary’s College freshman scoring record 14.5 points per game over the 30-game regular season and led the Gaels with 3.4 assists per game.

He was recently named in the All-West Coast Conference’s First Team and the All-WCC’s Freshman Team as well as taking out the WCC’s Newcomer of the Year Award. 

Sydney’s A.J. Ogilvy led Vanderbilt University in scoring (18) and rebounding (8) but was unable to stop Siena upsetting the Commodores, 83-62.

Ogilvy garnered All-SEC Freshman Team selection earlier this month after a stellar season where he scored in double figures in all but two of his 32 regular season games.

Horsham’s Aaron Bruce was held scoreless as Baylor University fell to Purdue, 90-79.

The annual NCAA tournament is made up of the 65 best teams in the United States and has unearthed scores of basketball legends in its time, including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.


Party time for Mills on eve of big dance
20 March 2008

In Arkansas, the chant most often heard at college basketball games has been ''Wooooooo, Pig Suey!'' in honor of the state's beloved Razorbacks, writes Manny Navarro for The Miami Herald.

Click here to see which Aussie men and women are in the 2008 NCAA tournament.

But this weekend when the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament are hosted at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, a new chant could catch on quickly. And unless you are a fan of Australian rules football or have been following the Saint Mary's Gaels this season, it is going to sound foreign.

''The chant is pretty easy,'' explained Saint Mary's freshman point guard Patty Mills, one of four Australians on the Gaels' roster and 33 playing in Division I basketball. ``It goes like this: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy! Oy! Oy! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy! Oy! Oy! Like it, mate?''

The University of Miami Hurricanes (22-10) haven't heard it yet. But if they hear it enough when they take on the Gaels (25-6) at 12:30 p.m. Friday, it could mean the Canes are in trouble. Mills, the team's leading scorer, taught Gaels fans the chant before the start of the season. And now every time he or one of his Australian teammates score, Saint Mary's fans chant it and wave Australian flags in the stands.

''It's kind of addicting,'' said Mills, who is one of several Aussies to play for Saint Mary's -- a small private college located in Moraga, Calif., a wealthy neighborhood in the Bay Area that coach Wayne Bennett said is a 10-minute highway drive east of Oakland.

``When we hear it, it gets us all excited and pumped. It brings us closer together.''

Exciting and tight-knit basketball is the style the Gaels now play -- now that the Aussies and Mills are on board. When Bennett took over the Gaels in 2001, he took over a team that had gone 2-27 the season before and ranked 315th out of 319 Division I teams in the RPI.

This season, with Mills and fellow Aussies Ben Allen (who is ineligible this season), Carlin Hughes and Lucas Walker, the Gaels spent six weeks in the Top 25. They tied a school record for wins and beat fellow NCAA Tournament teams Oregon, Drake and Gonzaga along the way.

UM coach Frank Haith said Tuesday what impressed him most about the Gaels: ''They have a lot of shooters.'' To the casual fan, it might be more how the Australians have helped turn the program around.

''I wouldn't say getting the Aussies was the turning point, but it was definitely part of the turnaround,'' said Bennett, who has helped Saint Mary's achieve the nation's biggest jump in RPI during the past four years ( the team finished 34th in the RPI).

``The Australian thing has been really good to our program. Those guys are all really team-oriented and tough. It's cool to get stitches. That's their style.''

Right before his first season, Bennett stumbled upon his first Australian player when a friend and Pac-10 assistant coach told him to give Australian junior college point guard Adam Caporn a chance. Caporn was an instant hit and his signing led Bennett onto more 21-hour flights out to Australia -- and more Aussie signings.

Bennett landed forward Daniel Kickert. He led Saint Mary's to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and left the program as the team's all-time leading scorer.

Mills could be the Australian catch that takes the Gaels to even greater heights. The 2006 Australia Basketball Player of the Year helped the national team qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But the 19-year-old isn't drawing national media attention just because he's one of the nation's best freshman. The 6-0, 175-pounder is big news in Australia because of what he represents.

The son of an Aborigine mom and a Torres Strait Islander dad, Mills is one of the country's 500,000 indigenous people, a group that once was hindered by historical segregation practices. And in a country like Australia which still struggles with prejudice, Mills is seen as a torch-bearer and idol.

''Every time we play its like a flash across Fox News there,'' Bennett said.

Mills, who said he grew up playing with kangaroos and adoring Michael Jordan on videotapes, said he would love to play in the NBA one day. But this weekend -- he'll settle for beating the Canes, even if he still doesn't know much about them.

''I'm still struggling to find the location of Miami on the map,'' Mills joked. ``I'm sure they're a great team. And I'll know more about them soon. I just hope to hear our fans shouting Aussie! Oy! when the game is over.''

Beijing hopefuls lead US colleges to big dance
17 March 2008

Four young Australian basketballers gunning for selection to the Beijing squad could shine at the highest level this week when their American college teams compete in the annual NCAA Tournament.

Canberra’s Patrick Mills (St. Mary’s), Sydney’s Andrew Ogilvy (Vanderbilt), Horsham’s Aaron Bruce (Baylor) and Cairns’ Aron Baynes (Washington State) are the names to watch.

“March Madness”, the colloquial name for the elite competition for America’s top 65 men’s college teams, begins on Thursday across the United States.

The form of the Australian players will have no influence however on their selection to Basketball Australia’s 31-man Australia Post Boomers squad for Beijing, as that will be announced on Wednesday morning at Rose Hill Public School in Granville, in Sydney’s west, in advance of the NCAA tournament.

Australia Post Boomers head coach Brian Goorjian and two Boomers players will address the media from inside Rose Hill Public’s first grade classroom at 10:00am.

Each of the school’s classes has been named after a team competing in Beijing, and the first grade class is called The Boomers.

According to their teacher Jan Russell, the kids can barely contain their excitement.

The 65 teams selected to contest the 2008 NCAA tournament along with their seeding, their regular season record and the location of their first round games are:


EAST

Raleigh, North Carolina
Friday, March 21
No. 1 North Carolina (32-2)
No. 16 Opening-round game (Mount St. Mary's vs. Coppin State)

No. 8 Indiana (25-7)
No. 9 Arkansas (22-11)


Denver, Colorado

Thursday, March 20
No. 5 Notre Dame (24-7)
No. 12 George Mason (23-10)

No. 4 Washington State (24-8)
No. 13 Winthrop (22-11)


Birmingham, Alabama

Friday, March 21
No. 2 Tennessee (29-4)
No. 15 American (21-11)

No. 7 Butler (29-3)
No. 10 South Alabama (26-6)

No. 3 Louisville (24-8)
No. 14 Boise State (25-8)

No. 6 Oklahoma (22-11)
No. 11 Saint Joseph's (21-12)


MIDWEST

Omaha, Nebraska
Thursday, March 20
No. 1 Kansas (31-3)
No. 16 Portland State (23-9)

No. 8 UNLV (26-7)
No. 9 Kent State (28-6)


Tampa, Florida

Friday, March 21
No. 5 Clemson (24-9)
No. 12 Villanova (20-12)

No. 4 Vanderbilt (26-7)
No. 13 Siena (22-10)


Raleigh, North Carolina

Friday, March 21
No. 2 Georgetown (27-5)
No. 15 UMBC (24-8)

No. 7 Gonzaga (25-7)
No. 10 Davidson (26-6)


Omaha, Nebraska

Thursday, March 20
No. 3 Wisconsin (29-4)
No. 14 Cal State Fullerton (24-8)

No. 6 Southern California (21-11)
No. 11 Kansas State (20-11)


SOUTH

Little Rock, Arkansas
Friday, March 21
No. 1 Memphis (33-1)
No. 16 Texas Arlington (21-11)

No. 8 Mississippi State (22-10)
No. 9 Oregon (18-13)


Denver, Colorado

Thursday, March 20
No. 5 Michigan State (25-8)
No. 12 Temple (21-12)

No. 4 Pitt (26-9)
No. 13 Oral Roberts (24-8)


Little Rock, Arkansas

Friday, March 21
No. 2 Texas (28-6)
No. 15 Austin Peay (24-10)

No. 7 Miami (Fla.) (22-10)
No. 10 Saint Mary's (25-6)


Anaheim, California

Thursday, March 20
No. 3 Stanford (26-7)
No. 14 Cornell (22-5)


WEST

Anaheim, California
Thursday, March 20
No. 1 UCLA (31-3)
No. 16 Mississippi Valley State (17-15)

No. 8 BYU (27-7)
No. 9 Texas A&M (24-10)


Tampa, Florida

Friday, March 21
No. 5 Drake (28-4)
No. 12 Western Kentucky (27-6)

No. 4 Connecticut (24-8)
No. 13 San Diego (21-13)


Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 20
No. 2 Duke (27-5)
No. 15 Belmont (25-8)

No. 7 West Virginia (24-10)
No. 10 Arizona (19-14)


Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 20
No. 3 Xavier (27-6)
No. 14 Georgia (17-16)

No. 6 Purdue (24-8)
No. 11 Baylor (21-10)