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March 17, 2013

JMU To Play LIU In First Round, PF Goins Arrested

HARRISONBURG - Matt Brady was expecting a loud roar from the hundreds of fans in the Convocation Center to watch the NCAA Tournament selection show, but instead, when James Madison's name popped up on the CBS telecast, there was barely a reaction.

Apparently, fans were hoping for a big-time opponent in the opener. Well, if JMU advances to the first full round, they'll get their wish.

The Dukes will face Long Island University Brooklyn in a play-in game at 6:40 p.m . Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, for the chance to take on Indiana - the No. 1 seed in the East Regional - also in Dayton.

Whether JMU will have its leading scorer and rebounder is in doubt.

Rayshawn Goins, the animated senior power forward who helped lead JMU to its first Colonial Athletic Association basketball championship in 19 years, was arrested Sunday night - mere hours after he attended the selection show at the Convo - on charges of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct, police said.

Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said Goins attended a party Saturday at 865 East, an apartment complex on Port Republic Road, that "got out of hand."

"I guess he was in the thick of it," Hutcheson said. "Just a wild college party, from the little bit that I gathered. Not wanting to break up when the police came."

Brady could not be reached for comment late Sunday night on Goins' situation, and the university declined to discuss the arrest.

"The athletic administration is aware of the situation," JMU spokesman Don Egle said Sunday night. "We will not be providing additional comments until we review this matter in the morning."

Goins, a third-team All-CAA pick who is averaging 12.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, was released on his own recognizance Sunday night, police said . Less than two hours earlier, he took part in a conference call with the media, saying, "We'd love to be that Cinderella team. Just want to shock the world."

Madison plans a send-off for the team from the Convocation Center at 5 p.m. today. Athletic director Jeff Bourne did not immediately return messages Sunday night, and it is unknown whether Goins will make the trip.

As for the game, while many fans in attendance at the Convo on Sunday appeared unenthusiastic about Wednesday's opponent, Brady said he was fine with playing in the so-called First Four.

"I think the play-in game is good for us for a lot of reasons," Brady said. "When you're trying to build a program, exposure is your biggest asset and ally. We get a national television audience on Wednesday night to watch our team. Hopefully we get a win, and then we play one of the top teams in the nation."

In its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1994, Madison (20-14) will battle an opponent with far more March experience. Long Island (20-13) has won the Northeast Conference three straight seasons, meaning it has played in the last two NCAA Tournaments. The fast-paced Blackbirds lost as a 15-seed to North Carolina 102-87 in 2011 and as a 16-seed to Michigan State 89-67 last year .

"I think that just helps because now you've been here before," said first-year coach Jack Perri, who was previously an assistant at LIU under now-Duquesne coach Jim Ferry. "You've dealt with the media, bright lights of the tournament. Been there and done that before. I don't think our guys are going to be star-gazed at all. We're going to be focused, going to be prepared."

Wednesday's game, to be televised on TruTV, will be a true clash of styles. LIU plays at the 23rd-fastest pace in the country and shoots 48.3 percent from the field, which ranks ninth nationally. JMU, meanwhile, has gotten to this point with its CAA-leading defense, in spite of come-and-go offensive woes.

Dayton is no foreign land to the Dukes, whose three top players are all from Ohio, including Goins. Point guard Devon Moore and swingman A.J. Davis both grew up in Columbus, Ohio, while Goins hails from Cleveland.

The location of the game certainly pleased Moore, who pumped his fist - the most visible reaction of any Duke - when JMU was announced.

"My phone hasn't stopped ringing," Moore said moments later, while answering a text message. "Getting to go home, it's good, my family can come."

Shortly after the selection show, Goins called Wednesday's trip a "home game" and said he was grateful just to be in the field - only 20 percent of all Division I teams are in the NCAA Tournament.

Playing in the opening round is not necessarily a bad thing for JMU, which gets a national television game all to itself and can earn an extra money share for its conference. Plus, if JMU gets past Long Island, the Dukes will have already knocked off some rust and jitters before the tall task of trying to slay Indiana.

"Playing on Wednesday can help us on Friday, should we get there, but it will certainly be incumbent on my team playing well," Brady said. "… And if we win the game, we get to play Indiana, and what's better than that?"

The Hoosiers, No. 1 in the preseason polls , won the Big Ten regular-season title before losing to Wisconsin in the conference semifinals. Sophomore forward Cody Zeller, a 7-footer, and senior guard Victor Oladipo are both projected as top 10 picks in this year's NBA draft.

LIU obviously doesn't have that type of star power on its roster, but the Blackbirds have plenty of stat-stuffing players, including junior point guard Jason Brickman, who leads the nation with 8.5 assists per game, to go along with a 9.6-point average. Senior forward Jamal Olaswere leads the team with 18.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and senior guard C.J. Garner (16.1 ppg) also is a prolific scorer.

Julian Boyd, the reigning NEC Player of the Year, is out for the season after tearing an ACL in December. The Blackbirds, who also dealt with early-season suspensions stemming from a campus brawl in September, have had quite the up-and-down season.

LIU lost its first four games, and then after a five-game winning streak, lost six in a row, including its first three NEC games. But after that 5-10 start, the Blackbirds finished 15-3, scoring 90-plus points in each of their final three games, including a title-game win over Mount St. Mary's on Tuesday.

Like JMU, LIU plans to leave for Ohio today.

The opening round will take place at the 13,409-seat University of Dayton Center, where Moore, Davis and Goins have all played as part of AAU tournaments.

A game between prospective 13-seeds La Salle and Boise State will follow JMU-LIU at roughly 9:10 p.m. There are also two games Tuesday: North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty for a No. 16 seed in the Round of 64 , and St. Mary's vs. Middle Tennessee for a No. 11.


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