Agbai, Meade to play at Coliseum in tourney

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And for Boston College sophomore Uka Agbai and Holy Cross freshman Jave Meade, their teams’ trips to...

By Dylan Butler

For a host of Queens residents, Selection Sunday was a magical day as they officially punched their ticket for the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments.

And for Boston College sophomore Uka Agbai and Holy Cross freshman Jave Meade, their teams’ trips to the Big Dance also meant it would be a trip home.

Agbai, a 6-foot-8 forward from Queens Village, and the third-seeded Eagles (26-4) will play Southern Utah in the first round of the East Regional at Nassau Coliseum Thursday. Tip-off is slated for 7:40 p.m.

Agbai, a former Archbishop Molloy standout, averages 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and has started all 30 BC games this year. Agbai also leads the Eagles with 34 blocked shots.

Meade, a 6-foot-1 freshman guard from Long Island City, will also make his first NCAA appearance as No. 15 Holy Cross — the Patriot League champions — will take on No. 2 Kentucky at the Coliseum Thursday at 12:20 p.m.

The Christ the King grad is the Crusaders’ (22-7) leading scorer off the bench, averaging 7.2 points, a team-high three assists and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Meade’s former Royals teammate, fellow freshman Zack Williams, a 6-foot-7 forward, will also get his first taste of March Madness as Ohio State, the No. 5 seed in the East, faces No. 12 Utah State in Greensboro, N.C. Thursday at 12:25 p.m.

Williams has started all 30 Buckeyes games this year and averages 6.9 points and 3.7 rebounds. The Middle Village resident had five rebounds in 16 minutes in Ohio State’s (20-10) 75-66 upset loss to Iowa in the Big 10 quarterfinals.

Another Queens resident making his first NCAA appearance in his freshman year is Joel Suarez, a 6-foot point guard out of LeFrak City. The former St. Mary’s (Manhasset) standout is Hofstra’s leading scorer off the bench, averaging 6.8 points per game. The Pride (26-4) garnered the No. 13 seed in the East Regional and will face No. 4 UCLA Thursday in Greensboro at about 3 p.m.

Also coming off the bench for Jay Wright’s Pride is 6-foot-8 Abdou Sylla, a Cardozo grad out of Senegal, Africa. The senior forward averages 1.9 and 3.2 rebounds per game and has played in all 30 Hofstra games.

Mike Feeley, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Bellerose, averages 0.9 points per game in 16 games for Hofstra, which has won 18 straight games.

Red-shirting for Hofstra are a pair of former Christ the King standouts, Mike Radziejewski from Jackson Heights and Osei Millar out of Brooklyn who transferred from Boston College.

Last but certainly not least are a pair of assistant coaches on the Hofstra bench — Bayside resident David Duke and Tom Pecora from Queens Village. The only other Queens native coaching in the NCAA Tournament is Springfield Gardens native Norm Roberts. The former Queens College standout and head coach is an assistant at Illinois under Bill Self. The Fighting Illini are the top seed in the Midwest Regional and take on the winner of the Northwestern State/Winthrop play-in game.

Royal Ivey, a 6-foot-4 freshman point guard, has had a breakthrough season at the University of Texas, starting 25 games for the Longhorns (23-7), who garnered an at-large bid to the tournament. The former Cardozo standout averages 3.1 points and 1.9 assists per game for No. 6 Texas, which takes on a tough Temple team Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the South Regional in New Orleans, La.

Playing his first NCAA game in the South Regional is Jamaica resident Nashon McPhearson and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (24-6), who are the No. 14 seed and will face third-seeded Florida Friday 30 minutes after the Texas/Temple game.

The former Springfield Gardens standout is second on the team, averaging 10.8 points per game, and third in rebounds with 3.6 rebounds per game. He scored 14 points and had four boards in Western Kentucky’s 64-54 win over South Alabama in the Sun Belt championship game. The 6-foot-4 senior guard was named to the all-tournament team.

Also in the South Regional in New Orleans, 7-foot-2 Karim Shabazz and the Providence Friars will face No. 7 Penn State in a first-round game Friday at 7:50 p.m.

Shabazz, a 7-foot-2 senior center, averages 8.6 points per game and leads the team in rebounds (7.2) and blocks (2.5) per game for No. 10 Providence (21-8).

A pair of senior walk-ons will also get a taste of the NCAA Tournament as Virginia guard Greg Lyons out of Holy Cross and Floral Park resident Chris Schau, a forward on Syracuse, each will get to the dance.

Lyons, a 6-foot-4 guard has played in 12 games for the Cavaliers (20-8) and averages 1.0 point per game in 18 minutes. Virginia, the No. 5 seed in the South will take on No. 12 Gonzaga Friday at 12:25 p.m. in Memphis, Tenn.

Schau, a 6-foot-9 forward who went to Bronx Science, has appeared in eight games for the Orangemen (22-7), playing eight minutes. Syracuse is the No. 5 seed in the Midwest and faces Hawaii in a first-round game in Dayton, Ohio Friday at about 10:05 p.m.

In the lineup for the Rainbow Warriors (17-13), winners of the Western Athletic Conference championship, is David Hilton, a 5-foot-11 freshman point guard. The former Flushing resident started 15 of Hawaii’s 22 games and averages 2.3 points and 2.7 assists per game.

Queens is also represented in the NCAA women’s tournament. Leading the charge is former Christ the King standout Sue Bird, whose fade-away jumper in the lane at the buzzer led the University of Connecticut past Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament final. Bird, a junior guard out of Syosset, L.I., averages 10.2 points and a team-high 5.1 assists per game for the Huskies (28-2), the top-seed in the East Regional. UConn faces Long Island University in a first-round game Saturday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.

Another former Christ the King standout, Kristeena Alexander, a senior guard on George Washington (22-9), will also play in the tournament. The Colonials’ starting point guard averages 9.4 points, 5.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game for No. 7 GW, which takes on 10th-seeded Stanford in a first-round West Regional game at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. Saturday at approximately 8 p.m.

Rounding out the locals in the women’s tournament is Allison Thorne, a 6-foot-3 senior out of August Martin. The forward/center is fifth on Fairfield (25-5) with 5.3 rebounds per game. The Stags, the 12th seed in the Midwest, will take on No. 5 Utah Saturday at about 9:30 p.m. at the Jon M. Hunstisman Center in Salt Lake City.

While it doesn’t carry the same prestige as the NCAA Tournament, a host of Queens residents will play in the National Invitational Tournament this week.

Leading the group is highly-touted freshman point guard Taliek Brown out of LeFrak City. The former St. John’s Prep star averages 8.3 points, a team-high five assists and 2.6 rebounds per game for UConn (19-11), which takes on South Carolina in a first-round game at Gampel Pavilion scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

It very well may be Eddie Fogler’s last game as Gamecocks head coach. The Flushing native stepped down from his post in a mutual decision announced Monday. Fogler compiled a 123-116 record with two NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances in eight seasons.

Former Molloy standout Reggie Brown and the Richmond Spiders, who just missed out on an NCAA bid, will host West Virginia Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Brown, a sophomore guard, averages 10.7 points and 2.8 assists per game for the Spiders (21-6).

Eric Chatfield was just minutes from making the NCAA Tournament, but New Mexico fell to BYU in the Mountain West Conference final, 69-65. The 6-foot-3 junior from Queensbridge averages 12.3 points and 2.6 assists per game for New Mexico (19-12), which hosts Baylor in a first round game scheduled for Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

Rounding out the local flair in the NIT is Mark McCarroll, a 6-foot-10 freshman out of Christ the King. McCarroll has played just one game for the Panthers (18-13), who host St. Bonaventure in a first round game scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

In the women’s NIT tournament, freshman Osato Edobor-Osula is the lone Queens resident playing. The former Jamaica standout averages 1.9 points and 1.3 assists per game for George Mason (21-8), which takes on Georgetown in a first round game scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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