Bowie State's run to CIAA championship is hair-razing event for Coach D'Alessio


Forget the Big Dance.

It's the little waltz, the NCAA Division II basketball tournament, that has them dancing in the streets around Bowie State these days.

"I've been watching men's basketball championships on TV all my life," Bowie senior All-America forward Tim Washington said Tuesday night. "And I always wondered what it would be like to play in one of them. I was beginning to think I may never find out. I really can't believe it. It still feels like a dream to me."

No wonder.

It would be hard to imagine a television station showing up at Bowie to videotape the basketball team before last weekend's drive to the school's first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament championship.

But Monday night, there were two Washington TV stations on hand for a school pep rally that featured each team member getting a chance to shave a wavy lock of hair off coach Luke D'Alessio's head.

The Bowie (26-4) players had remembered D'Alessio's promise last season that they could shave his head if they won the CIAA tourney. It never happened, so the former CCBC-Catonsville coach got to keep his hair.

D'Alessio, sensing how talented this senior-laden team is, made no such promise this season.

"My wife [Jacqui] probably instigated this," D'Alessio said. "I decided to just go with the flow."

Washington, 6 feet 9, took part in the shaving, but the CIAA tournament Most Valuable Player had a lot of compassion for his coach.

"I didn't want to make him look too bad," said Washington, who averaged 20.6 points and 12.3 rebounds in the tournament.

D'Alessio said his Bowie team had to overcome a lot of CIAA basketball tradition, as well as two top-seeded teams (Virginia Union in the East and North Carolina Central in the West) to win in Raleigh, N.C., last weekend.

"People kept asking us every day if we were leaving [after losing] today," D'Alessio said. "Finally, I said, 'No, we're leaving Sunday' [after winning the championship Saturday night]."

The Bowie coach was still shaking his head Tuesday over the fact that Virginia Union had three players named to the All-CIAA tournament team and Bowie had two (Washington and Stephen Moss-Kelly).

"Virginia Union has won 14 CIAA [out of 19] tournament championships and two NCAA Division II national championships," D'Alessio said. "That's tradition."

Washington says Bowie began to chip away at some of that Virginia Union aura of invincibility last Saturday night.

"I think some people are beginning to believe in us," he said.

Et cetera

Salisbury senior softball pitcher Katie Mullinix pitched a perfect game in a 7-0 victory over Wesley on Sunday in the first game of a second consecutive doubleheader shutout sweep for the Sea Gulls. At the plate, Mullinix went 4-for-4, driving in two runs and scoring twice. She began the season-opening weekend Saturday by no-hitting Gallaudet in an 18-0 romp.

The UMBC men's swimming team captured its sixth consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference championship last weekend by defeating 29 squads in Pittsburgh. The Retrievers were led by junior Brad Green, who won the 50-yard (20.67) and 100-yard (45.36) freestyle events. UMBC accumulated 564 points, followed by Seton Hall (419.50), Marist (393) and Towson (352.50). The UMBC women finished third in the ECAC, with junior Astrid Sperling taking both the 100 and the 200-yard backstroke in record times. She set a school record of 57.00 in the 100 and an ECAC mark of 2.00.53 in the 200.

The Morgan State women's track and field team finished fifth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships behind a 1-2 finish in the 55-meter dash by Sharonda Boone (6.97) and Miriama Gondo (6.99).

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