What’s In A Name?

While every sports radio station is inundated today with complaints about who got into the tournament and who did not – – or alternatively who got seeded 10th as opposed to some other team who got seeded 8th – – I choose to ignore all that bluster for two simple reasons:

  1. Griping about any of that stuff will change exactly nothing.
  2. It is obviously not all that important because by tomorrow morning the only thing anyone will be gassing about is how to avoid getting one’s bracket busted on Thursday.

In this little backwater of the Internet, I like to use the day after Selection Sunday to have some fun with the team mascots and the names of some of the players who will participate in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

[Aside:  Everyone here knows that I have little positive to say about the NCAA.  However, they do organize and run the single best annual sports event on the calendar starting this week.  What they provide between now and the Championship Game on 8 April justifies their existence.  Without it, I would be joining any group of folks with torches and pitchforks that might come together to storm the NCAA HQs in Indianapolis.]

In this year’s field, mascots of the “feline persuasion” are all over the place:

  • Abilene Christian Wildcats
  • Auburn Tigers
  • Georgia St. Panthers
  • Houston Cougars
  • LSU Tigers
  • Kansas State Wildcats
  • Kentucky Wildcats
  • Prairie View Panthers
  • Vermont Catamounts
  • Villanova Wildcats

Not to worry, canines are well represented too…

  • Gardner-Webb Bulldogs
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs
  • Mississippi St. Bulldogs
  • Nevada Wolfpack
  • Northeastern Huskies
  • Washington Huskies
  • Wofford Terriers
  • Yale Bulldogs

Six of the mascots are aggressive categories of Homo sapiens:

  • Colgate Raiders
  • Michigan St. Spartans
  • Northern Kentucky Vikings
  • Seton Hall Pirates
  • Texas Tech Red Raiders
  • Virginia Cavaliers

There are multiple ursine mascots this year:

  • Baylor Bears
  • Belmont Bruins
  • Cincinnati Bearcats (or … do they belong with the felines above?)
  • Montana Grizzlies

The biological genus, Aquila, has three representatives in the field:

  • Liberty Eagles
  • Marquette Golden Eagles
  • NC Central Eagles

And of course, there are always a few unique mascots that have no ties to any others:

  • Goldy the Gopher  – – Minnesota
  • Otto the Orange   – – Syracuse
  • Peter the Anteater  – – UC Irvine

The placement of teams in the brackets by the Selection Committee allows for some ”mascot themed” Final Fours such as:

All dogs:

  • Gardner Webb, Mississippi St. Nevada Wofford

All cats:

  • Kansas St., Kentucky, LSU, Vermont

All birds:

  • Kansas, Louisville, Marquette, Oregon.

All “States”:

  • Florida St., Kansas St., Mississippi St. New Mexico St.  [If this happens look for Allstate Insurance commercials…]

The Final Four will be in Minneapolis this year.  That being the case, here is the Final Four where the teams would have the shortest trip to the games:

  • Iowa St., Marquette, Minnesota, Wisconsin

And for the sake of symmetry, here is the Final Four with the longest travel distances for the participating schools – – and their supporters:

  • Abilene Christian, Arizona St.  UCF UC Irvine

But enough with mascots and Final Fours, the focus needs to be on the players; they are the ones who will make this year’s tournament exciting.  As usual, I have scanned – – note I did not say “examined thoroughly” – – the rosters of the schools involved and I have found some interesting player names.  The first category of interesting names is a player with a name that might indicate what that player might do for the rest of his life after his college basketball career is over.  The NCAA likes to tell us that players are preparing to “go pro” in fields other than what we see them doing on TV.  So, here are some possibilities:

  • Jack Salt  UVA:  Sailor
  • Preston Cook  Auburn:  Chef
  • PJ Horne  Va Tech:  Musician
  • Joey Baker  Duke:  Obvious
  • Jack Beach  Gonzaga:  Surfer
  • Jordan Poole  Michigan:  Billiards pro
  • Jordan Bone  Tennessee:  orthopedic surgeon  – – or butcher – – or both?
  • Admiral Schofield  Tennessee:  US Naval officer
  • DJ Burns  Tennessee:  Arsonist?
  • Isaiah Livers  Michigan:  Foie gras importer
  • Phil Booth  Villanova:  Toll collector
  • Javonte Smart  LSU :  Professor of philosophy
  • Skylar Mays  LSU:  Airline pilot
  • Marshall Graves  LSU:  Mortician
  • Aundre Hyatt  LSU:  Hotel manager
  • Cedric Alley Jr.  Houston:  Professional bowler
  • Trent Forrest  Florida St.:  Lumberjack
  • Anthony Polite  Florida State:  Miss Manners’ protégé
  • Aaron Wheeler  Purdue:  Interstate trucker
  • Trey Porter  Nevada:  Longshoreman
  • Cartier Diarra  Kansas State:  Watchmaker
  • Nigel Shadd  Kansas State:  Fishing guide
  • Ty Outlaw  Va Tech:  US Marshall
  • Aleem Ford  Wisconsin:  Automotive engineer
  • Storm Murphy Wofford:  Weatherman  Channel 7
  • Mitchel Storm  Mississippi St.  Weatherman  Channel 11
  • Elijah Childs  Bradley:  Obstetrician
  • Dana Batt  Colgate:  Baseball player
  • Brendan Newton  Liberty:  Fig grower
  • Drew McDonald  Northern Kentucky:  Farmer
  • Cameron Lard  Iowa St.  Meatpacker
  • Aaron Carver  Old Dominion  Butcher
  • Rashann London  NC Central  Travel agent
  • Mario Kegler  Baylor  Professional bowler
  • Klay Stall  Utah St.  Horse trainer
  • Abel Porter  Utah St.  Sherpa
  • Anthony Lamb  Vermont  Shepherd
  • Bailey Patella  Vermont  Knee surgeon
  • Max Hazzard  UC Irvine  Insurance agent
  • Amir Coffey  Minnesota  Barista
  • Michael Hurt  Minnesota  Physical therapist

This next group of players has what I call “mirror image names”.  If you put the last name first, it still sounds like a normal name:

  • Markus Howard  Marquette
  • Walker Miller  UNC
  • Kyle Alexander  Tennessee
  • Zach Kent  Tennessee
  • Cassius Winston  Mich St.
  • Aaron Henry  Michigan St. [You surely recognize his mirror image name.]
  • Connor George  Mich St.
  • Jonny David  Kentucky
  • Reid Travis  Kentucky
  • Will Miles  Florida State
  • Lindsey Drew  Nevada
  • Dean Wade  Kansas State
  • Alex Michael  Wofford
  • Jordan Roland  Northeastern
  • Brendan Paul Syracuse
  • Frank Howard  Syracuse
  • Hunt Conroy  Minnesota
  • Brandon Courtney  St. Louis

The “ultimate” mirror image name in this year’s field – – and perhaps in any year’s field – – would have to be:

  • Bol Bol  Oregon  [Yes, he is Manute’s son.]

An artist needs to have many different hues on his palette to create whatever image is in his mind.  Here are players in this year’s tournament whose names might inspire such an artist:

  • Coby White  UNC
  • Jack White  Duke
  • Fabian White, Jr.  Houston
  • Paul White  Oregon
  • Leaky Black  UNC
  • Anthony Green  Northeastern
  • Dominic Green  Washington
  • Gerald Grey Jr. Northern Kentucky
  • Barry Brown K-State
  • Gabe Brown  Mich St.
  • Jordan Brown  Nevada
  • Darrell Brown  Bradley
  • Bryce Brown  Auburn

[Aside:  Bonus points here should go to Bryce Brown (Auburn) since Auburn is also a color.]

If anyone chose to do so, they could find an “All-Presidents Team” among the players in the field this year:

  • Kennedy Kincaid  Gardner Webb
  • Howard Washington  Syracuse
  • PJ Washington  Kentucky
  • Chris Taylor  Northern Kentucky
  • Quinn Taylor  Utah St.
  • Quinn Clinton  St. Mary’s
  • Jorday Ford  St. Mary’s
  • Tyler Jones  Fairleigh Dickinson
  • Jazz Johnson  Nevada
  • Taishaun Johnson  Prairie View
  • Prentiss Nixon  Iowa St.
  • Reagan Lundeen  Washington

Players with names that are clear Biblical references are sprinkled everywhere in the brackets:

  • Zion Williamson  Duke
  • Zion Griffin  Iowa St.
  • Isaiah Wilkins  Va Tech
  • Isaiah Bigelow  Wofford
  • Isaiah Still  Iona
  • Isaiah Ross  Iona
  • Elijah Cuffee, Jr. Liberty
  • Elijah  Elliott  Kansas
  • Elijah Thomas  St. Mary’s
  • Elijah Hardy  Washington
  • Noah Dickerson  Washington
  • Noah Neubauer  Washington
  • Jonah Geron  Washington
  • Ceasar DeJesus  UCF
  • Micah Potter  Wisconsin
  • Messiah Jones  Wofford
  • Christian Turner  Gardner Webb
  • Christian James  Oklahoma
  • Solomon Young  Iowa St.
  • Solomon Ruddell  UC Irvine

Lots of players bring alliterative names to the tournament:

  • Adrian Autry  Syracuse
  • Barry Brown  K-State
  • Brennan Besser  Duke
  • Paul Pennington  Gonzaga
  • Jeremy Jones  Gonzaga
  • David DeJulius  Michigan
  • Jalen Johnson  Tennessee
  • Braden Burke  Mich State
  • Matt Mooney  Texas Tech
  • Darius Days  LSU
  • Courtese Cooper  LSU
  • Breaon Brady  Houston
  • Wyatt Wilkes  Florida State
  • Kyle King  Purdue
  • Sasha Stefanovic  Purdue
  • Makol Mawien  Kansas State
  • Mike McGuirl  Kansas State
  • Devon Dotson  Kansas
  • Kobe King  Wisconsin
  • Michael Manning, Jr.  Wofford
  • Brendan Bailey  Marquette
  • Justin Jenifer  Cincinnati
  • Luqman Lundy  Bradley
  • Bolden Brace  Northeastern
  • Oscar Okeke  Fairleigh Dickinson
  • Obim Okeke  Baylor
  • Payton Pritchard  Oregon
  • Kur Kuath  Oklahoma
  • Chris Clerkley  Georgia St.
  • Trevor Thompson  Arizona St.
  • Harrison Hookfin  Ohio St.
  • Michael Mayernick  Belmont
  • Eddy Egun  Montana
  • Kelby Kramer  Montana

In the category of alliterative names, however, there has to be special mention for two players whose alliterative name is also alliterative with their school:

  • Matt McQuaid  Mich St.
  • Brock Bertram  Buffalo

[Aside:  I continue to look for a “grand-slam” alliterative name such as Tom Terrific  Texas Tech or Ivan Iola  Illinois Institute or  Carl Carlson  College of Charleston.  No luck yet…]

This last assemblage of players’ names is offered here only because there are copy editors at newspapers all over the US who are fervently hoping that none of these players becomes the focal point of a major story that they need to edit.  So, as a tribute to those copy editors and the work they do, consider these players:

  • Mamadi Diakite  UVA
  • Ignas Brazdkeikis  Michigan
  • Saddiq  Bey  Villanova
  • Francesco Badocchi  UVA
  • Norense Odiase  Texas Tech
  • Mfiondu Kabengele  Florida State
  • Nisré Zouzoua  Nevada
  • Goodnews Kpegeol  Kansas State
  • Ochai Agbaji  Kansas
  • Wabissa Bede  Va Tech
  • Chuma Okeke  Auburn
  • Mamoudou Diarra  Cincannati
  • Eliel Nsoseme  Cincinnati
  • Nnamdi Van Dulm  N. Dakota State
  • Nadi Beciri  Fairleigh Dickinson
  • Dominik Olejniczak  Ole Miss
  • Paschal Chukwu  Syracuse
  • Bourama Sidibe  Syracuse
  • Jethro Tshisumpa  Mississippi St.
  • Ivan Aurrecoechea  New Mexico St.
  • Kalu Ezikpe  Old Dominion
  • Ernest Aflakpui  Temple
  • Sedee Keita  St. John’s
  • Roche Grootfaam  Utah St.
  • Neemias Queta  Utah St.
  • Yuat Alok  UCF
  • Ibrahim Famouke Doumbia  UCF
  • Luguentz Dort  Arizona St.
  • Sandro Mamukelashvili  Seton Hall
  • Yagizhan Selcuk  Montana
  • Gorjok Gak  Florida
  • Miye Oni  Yale

Finally,  Tim Kaine is an assistant coach at Murray St.; no, he is not the same guy that ran for Veep in 2016.  And, Ky Feldman is on the team at Syracuse; how did John Calipari miss out on Ky for Kentucky?  However, the most interesting names I could find in this tournament field belong to:

  • Tommy Falls  Montana – – and – –
  • Ty Hands  Florida St.

Both of their names are complete sentences.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………




4 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”

  1. A bearcat is a kind of civet. So more closely related to a cat than a bear, but not either.

    1. John:

      Thanks for the clarification. Just so everyone else knows, John is an evolutionary biologist who reads these rants regularly; so, I knew that he would set me straight on the “bearcat classification”. 🙂

  2. Washington’s Matisse Thybulle would’ve been a worthy addition to your future-professions list. Bonus points: He’s an instinctive defensive player who leads the nation in steals largely because his coach (Jim Boeheim’s former right-hand man, Mike Hopkins) allows him to freelance at the top of the Huskies’ 2-3 zone, reasoning “you’ve got to let the painter paint.”

    1. DP:

      Indeed, I missed Matisse Thybulle in my race to get through 68 team rosters. He could have gone in the “Copy Editors’ Nightmares” category or he could indeed have been tagged to go on as a future post-impressionist artist.

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