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Archive for Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Woodling: Wonder if Mason still racin’

March 28, 2006

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Surely psychoanalysts still rely on word-association tests. You know, the shrink says a word, and you respond with the first thought that enters your mind.

For example, the reply to dog could be cat or Lassie or Alpo or god spelled backwards or a bad sporting event (as in "That game was a dog").

I'm not sure what my response to dog would be, but I do know what my gut reaction to George Mason would be, and it sure as heck wouldn't be Cinderella.

I would shoot back with : Kansas University steeplechaser.

For some reason, every time I hear George Mason I think of that KU trackman from the mid-'70s. His nickname was "Racin' Mason" and he was pretty good at one of the sport's most grueling events.

While wearing those distinctive baby-blue-and-hot-pink KU running togs, this George Mason was a Big Eight champion in 1976 and still ranks among the top five KU steeplechasers of all time.

I haven't seen or heard of George Mason since he was on Mount Oread three decades ago. Wherever he is, I hope the former Jayhawk still has George Mason on his bracket. I know I would if there were ever a school named Chuck Woodling.

Remember Cedric Hunter?

Chances are you'd win a bet if you asked a KU basketball fan to name the school's single-season assists leader. It isn't Aaron Miles, and it isn't Jacque Vaughn. Hunter's 278 assists in 1986 have weathered 20 years of assault.

And yet what Hunter is doing now is even more impressive. He works at Boys Town in his native Omaha, Neb., as a teacher, assistant coach and behavior interventionist. Hunter is a specialist in the area of handling kids with behavioral issues.

"He's very good at it," Bob Pick, a Boys Town administrator, told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "The kids love him."

In today's fishbowl climate, we seem to hear incessantly about athletes in trouble, but we never hear about former athletes who make a quiet contribution to society. Hunter is in that silent majority.

Remember Danny Nee?

Nee is the winningest men's basketball coach in Nebraska University history. During 14 seasons as the Cornhuskers' head coach, Nee's teams won 20 or more games seven times. That includes a 26-8 record in 1990-91, the best in school history.

Then, when the Huskers dipped to an 11-19 record after nine straight winning seasons, Nee was forced out and Barry Collier took over in 2000-2001.

Now Nee, 60, is looking for a job again. A couple of weeks ago, Nee resigned after compiling a 3-24 record - the worst in school history - at Duquesne. Nee was the fifth coach to leave Duquesne, either by firing or resignation, since 1989.

Somehow it just doesn't seem fair that Nee's career would take him to basketball jobs at football schools. You know about Nebraska, but you probably didn't know that Duquesne, sequestered in NCAA Div. I-AA, has won seven consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference football titles.

That's the legacy of Danny Nee.

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