Miami's appearance in the Great Alaska Shootout gives us an excuse to repeat maybe the best quote recorded in the tournament's 34-year history.
In 1987, the Miami men were part of a star-studded field that included Arizona (Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr), Syracuse (Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Rony Seikaly) and Michigan (Gary Grant and Glen Rice, who recently helped put the 1987 tournament back in the news thanks to the Joe McGinniss biography of Sarah Palin).
The Hurricanes were led by 7-foot-1 Tito Horford, whose 37 rebounds in three games is the sixth-most in tournament history. But we loved Tito for reasons other than his rebounding talents.
When Miami arrived at the Anchorage airport, Horford, who was from the Dominican Republic, looked at the snowy landscape in disbelief.
"People actually live here?" he said.
More honors for Miami's Johnson
The women's all-tournament team for the Great Alaska Shootout looks a little like last season's All-ACC team.
The ACC's reigning player of the year, Shenise Johnson, was named name the Shootout's Most Outstanding Player and Riquna Williams, a member of the All-ACC team, earned a spot on the all-tournament team for the Miami Hurricanes.
Johnson and Williams lifted the seventh-ranked Hurricanes to the championship of the four-team, two-day tournament. Johnson, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, totaled 39 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and eight steals in wins over UAA and South Florida; Williams, a 5-6 senior guard, amassed 18 points, six steals, five rebounds and three assists.
UAA landed two players on the team -- 6-2 senior forward Hanna Johansson and 6-foot senior forward Kaylie Robison. It was the second straight selection for Johansson, who scored 30 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in her fourth Shootout appearance.
Robison led UAA with 32 points and 29 rebounds and etched her name in the Shootout record book. Her rebounds, which included a 16-board effort Thursday, tied the two-game record set in 1980 by Cindy Haugejorde of Iowa. "Kaylie could've been tournament MVP if we'd won," said UAA coach Tim Moser, whose team lost both Shootout games for the first time since he became head coach in 2006.
Also making the all-tournament team: South Florida's Kaneisha Saunders and Central Michigan's Crystal Bradford. Bradford blocked six shots in two games, tying the record set by UAA's Rebecca Kielpinski in 2008.
Carl Arts, an All-American center from Valdez, this week became the fifth UAA men's basketball player to have his jersey retired.
Arts, who ended his four-year career in 2008 as UAA's third-leading scorer (1,544 points) and rebounder (762), was honored at halftime of UAA's game Wednesday against Murray State. He ranks in the top 20 in 18 statistical categories and was an All-American selection the season he helped lead UAA to the NCAA Division II Final Four.
Only four other men have had their jerseys retired -- Hansi Gnad (1983-87), Jesse Jackson (1985-87), Michael Johnson (1987-89) and Jason Kaiser (1993-95).
And no, Arts' No. 34 has not been retired with the jersey. That number belongs this season to center Taylor Rohde. But a jersey with Arts' name and number will hang in perpetuity in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex -- at least until it gets moved once the new sports arena opens.
Two women's basketball players have been similarly honored -- Robin Graul (1985-89) and Rebecca Kielpinski (2005-09).
As usual, talk about retired jerseys at UAA prompts us to register one of our favorite -- and we think legitimate -- complaints.
Why isn't Dean Larson's hockey jersey hanging in Sullivan Arena?
The salient facts: 200 points (a school record), 137 assists (a school record) and the leader of a team that made three straight appearances in the NCAA tournament.
The Aces know a once-in-a-lifetime player when they see one, which is why a blue-and-red banner honoring Larson hangs from the Sullivan rafters. A green-and-gold banner honoring him deserves to be there too.
Big Green envy
Dartmouth men's coach Paul Cormier said one of his players was a little miffed not to get an invite to the annual Tip-off Luncheon for coaches, sponsors and boosters.
David Rufful is a 6-foot-4 senior who is the team's reigning MVP, but he's an Ivy League guy, so he's more than just a jock.
"He's our senior captain, but he's also captain of the Tea Party on campus, so he's ticked because he wanted to meet Sarah Palin," Cormier said at the luncheon at the Hotel Captain Cook. "He'll feel better knowing she's not here.
"She's not here, is she? She would've been introduced, right?"