Jim Larranaga smiled and raised both hands to acknowledge the fans in green - those from both Miami and George Mason - as he walked onto the court where he become part of a national sensation seven years ago.
He signed autographs, posed for pictures and was about to turn his attention to practice when he spotted two special people: Lamar Butler and Tony Skinn, starters from the 2006 GMU team. Larranaga hugged them both and reminisced about ''you guys running over to our section'' of fans at the final whistle to celebrate the win over Connecticut that sent the mid-major Patriots to the Final Four.
''This is not just any other arena,'' the coach said.
No, it's not. This is the Verizon Center, where Larranaga convinced his players that the CAA on their jerseys stood for ''Connecticut Assassin Association'' instead of the Colonial Athletic Association. It's where it became believable again that an out-of-the-blue school could advance to college basketball's biggest stage, paving the ...