Mapp Back on the Right Path

Times Staff Writer

It sure could have been mapped out better, he realizes almost three years later, his name suggesting a more scenic route to stardom and adulation than he has experienced at Virginia.

But junior guard Majestic Mapp gladly accepted the ovation that greeted him when he entered the Cavaliers' game Saturday against North Carolina.

Mapp had missed 70 games because of four knee surgeries and had not played in a game in almost 34 months, since Virginia's 115-111 loss to Georgetown in the first round of the 2000 National Invitation Tournament.

He initially tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a pickup game on Aug. 2, 2000, at his alma mater, St. Raymond's High, in the Bronx, N.Y. He missed one season and, after the pain failed to subside within a year, missed another season so the ligament could be reconstructed.

Mapp, who averaged over 18 minutes as a freshman, almost became a forgotten man during his odyssey.

But his return this season had been anticipated for weeks and fans roared their approval when Mapp entered the game with 7:23 left in the first half.

"I know from the reaction that the crowd appreciated that I made it back," Mapp told the Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress. "It is basically an ending and a new beginning for me."

Mapp took one shot, a three-pointer, that looked as if it might go in, but rolled out. He played 2 minutes 12 seconds and not at all in the second half.

Virginia won, 79-72, helping to end a mostly forgettable week for the Cavaliers.

Coach Pete Gillen publicly apologized Monday morning after sharply criticizing referees after last Sunday's loss to North Carolina State. Gillen was in a better mood Saturday as talk turned to Mapp.

"Getting out there was a monumental victory for him," Gillen said. "His coming back was probably more important than us winning the game, as great as the victory was."

We've Heard This Before

Never one to shy away from criticizing referees, Jim Harrick was back to his old rips, taking verbal swipes at officials after Georgia's 66-63 loss to Florida.

With the score tied 63-63 in the last minute and Georgia working for the go-ahead basket, Jarvis Hayes was called for pushing off. Harrick was hysterical and had to be restrained by his assistants. Georgia lost on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Anthony Roberson.

"In that situation, you let the players decide the game, not the officials," Harrick said.

The only thing Harrick enjoys more than berating officials is taking potshots at UCLA, although his ref rants are sounding a little recycled.

Harrick, fired by UCLA in November 1996 for the circumstances involving a falsified dinner receipt, used similar expressions of angst in his days at UCLA and, before that, Pepperdine.

He criticized referees, almost verbatim, in a January 1990 game at Stanford after Trevor Wilson was called for a momentum-turning technical foul.

"I think everybody involved feels a little cheated that they didn't allow the kids to decide the game," Harrick said.

Harrick was subsequently put on probation by the Pacific 10 Conference for repeatedly criticizing referees.

Burning It Up

Is he the J.P. Losman of basketball?

San Diego State freshman Evan Burns, a former UCLA signee, made his first four shots and triggered a 13-0 first-half run that helped the Aztecs defeat Air Force, 63-48, in a Mountain West Conference opener.

Burns finished with 14 points and made six of seven shots for the Aztecs (10-4), who won their fourth consecutive road game.

A McDonald's All-American at Fairfax High, Burns enrolled at San Diego State in September after being denied admission to UCLA because his transcripts were not approved by the NCAA clearinghouse. Burns was ruled eligible by the NCAA to play this season on Dec. 5.

Losman, UCLA's prized football recruit out of Venice High in 1999, transferred to Tulane months before what would have been his first game as a Bruin. Losman threw for 2,468 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for six touchdowns this season as a junior for the Green Wave.

A Dark Knight

It took 44 games, but Bob Knight finally got hit with his first technical foul as coach at Texas Tech.

After the Red Raiders finished getting crushed by Kansas State, 68-44, Knight threw a muzzle on his players, barring them from talking to the media.

"We got outscrapped," said Knight, in his second season at Texas Tech. "I mean that at every single position."

Knight drew a technical foul with just under 1:30 left in the first half for protesting a foul called on Will Chavis.

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