Mark Coury - Cornell's Kentucky charm
Mark Coury hopes to have the last laugh.
A walk-on as a freshman at Kentucky, Coury played two seasons for the Wildcats before transferring to Cornell and now will face his former teammates on Thursday night in the semifinals of the East Regional.
``I joked about it with friends and my ex-teammates when I talked to them, 'Yeah, wouldn't that be great if we somehow end up in the tournament and play you guys?''' Coury said after practice Wednesday in the Carrier Dome. ``I never thought it would actually happen.''
Not many did.
Cornell (29-4) has made a run like no other by the Ivy League. It has won more games than any school in the history of the league. Two more wins and the 12th-seeded Big Red will become the lowest seed to ever reach the Final Four.
``Seeing my old teammates is great,'' said Coury, who has only one start but has played in every game and leads the team in field goal percentage (54.5). ``If we win, I think the Ivy League as a whole will gain more respect.
``That's what we're trying to do, show everyone we're not just academics. We can play basketball, too.''
BRYANT'S BREAK: West Virginia starting point guard Darryl Bryant said his right foot was bothering him days before he broke a bone in practice on Tuesday.
The sophomore said he first felt pain during the Mountaineers 68-59 win over Missouri in the second round of the tournament on Sunday. Bryant thought little of it, and tried changing shoes.
It was less than a half-hour into practice on Tuesday when Bryant said he was backpedaling when he felt something pop. Tests revealed he broke the fifth metatarsal bone. The initial prognosis is that he should be fully recovered by July.
Bryant arrived in Syracuse walking on crutches and with his foot in a protective boot. He took the boot off while watching practice from the Mountaineers bench. His foot was heavily wrapped in what appeared to be ice.
The injury means backup junior Joe Mazzulla will take over.
Mazzulla has appeared in all 35 games this year, but has yet to start. He's coming back after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.
For whatever reason, Mazzulla misspoke when telling reporters he doesn't know what to expect because he's never played in a Sweet 16 game. He had 10 points, five assists and five rebounds in 31 minutes of a 79-75 overtime loss to Xavier in 2008, the last time the Mountaineers played in the round of 16.
COACHING CONNECTION: West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and his Washington counterpart Lorenzo Romar have crossed paths several times.
Huggins previously coached Cincinnati when Romar was coaching Conference USA rival St. Louis from 2000-02. The two actually go back nearly two decades, when Romar was completing his coursework at Cincinnati for a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 1992.
``Lorenzo is a really good guy,'' Huggins said, recalling that they both attended the same church in Cincinnati.
Huggins has a 5-2 record against Romar, though one of those losses proved memorable. St. Louis upset the Bearcats in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Conference USA tournament, a game in which Bearcats star Kenyon Martin broke his leg.
LEMOYNE'S LEGACY: Tiny Division II Le Moyne College shocked crosstown foe Syracuse in the preseason in November, and the after effects of that 82-79 victory linger all these months later.
After Syracuse humbled both Vermont and Gonzaga in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, winning by an average of 22.5 points, Le Moyne's star rose yet again.
``We have a clipping service and Le Moyne was getting mentioned six to 10 times a day,'' said Kim McAuliff, director of alumni. ``The morning after the Syracuse win (over Gonzaga on Sunday), we had 100 plus. We're still getting mentioned. We're not the sleepy little school in central New York. It put us on the map.''
McAuliff said student applications were at a record number.
``It's just been a tremendous recruiting tool,'' McAuliff said. ``You never know where the Le Moyne name is going to turn up.''
BASELINES: The Mountaineers (29-6) have matched the school record for most wins in a season, equaling the mark set by the Jerry West-led 1958-59 team that lost in the NCAA tournament final game. ... With 1,779 career points, Washington senior F Quincy Pondexter is 27 points shy of passing Jon Brockman for second on the school list. ... After losing 10 straight to Big East opponents, the Huskies are attempting to win two in a row following their 80-78 win over Marquette in the first round. ... The Mountaineers have lost eight in a row and are 1-9 overall in games played at the Carrier Dome. ...Cornell has won a school and Ivy League record 29 games. ... Cornell is 3-8 against current members of the Southeastern Conference, including 1-0 against Kentucky and 1-0 this year, a 71-67 win at Alabama in November.
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow contributed.