Mason Nominated For Two ESPY Awards

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Jim Larranaga was nominated for an ESPN on Monday, as was the George Mason men's basketball team.
Jim Larranaga was nominated for an ESPN on Monday, as was the George Mason men's basketball team.

June 26, 2006

Three months to the day after the George Mason men's basketball team shocked the world with its upset of the Connecticut Huskies, the Patriots found out that they are in line for one of sports' biggest awards. The Patriots were nominated today for an ESPY in the category of "Best Moment," for making the Final Four after downing three highly-favored opponents. The run to the Final Four, which ESPN says is "considered by most the greatest in NCAA Tournament history", culminated with the Patriots beating top-seeded Connecticut 86-84 in overtime on March 26 to advance to the school, and conference's first-ever Final Four.

While the Patriots were nominated for their virtuoso performance, the man who helped conduct the orchestra was also nominated for an ESPY as George Mason head men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga was nominated in the "Best Coach/Manager" category. A one-hour nomination show will air on ESPN on Tuesday at 7 p.m. showcasing the nominees.

The two nominations are the first-ever for Mason as the ESPYs enter their 14th year. No other school, coach or player from the Colonial Athletic Association has ever been nominated.

In the Best Moment category, Mason will go against a professional and a pair of high school athletes. Kobe Bryant was nominated for his 81-point performance against Toronto, 13-year-old Dakoda Dowd was nominated for her performance in an LPGA event, which was made possible by a sponsor's exemption that allowed her cancer-stricken mother the chance to see her play in a professional event, and high school senior Jason McElwain, who was nominated for coming off the bench as a manager and scoring 20 points in four minutes in the final home game of his career. The autistic sharp-shooter attended a Mason shoot-around at the Final Four and competed on the floor against Coach Larranaga.

Larranaga's competition in the Best Coach category will be quite stiff and varied. He'll face Florida men's basketball coach Billy Donovan, Miami Heat head coach Pat Riley, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher and Chicago White Sox head coach Ozzie Guillen.

The ESPYs will be presented on July 12th at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. The award winners will be determined based on Internet fan voting. Voting is currently open and fans can register a vote for one of sport's greatest Cinderella Stories until the clock appropriately strikes midnight on Saturday, July 8.

The ESPY Awards were created in 1993 for Excellence in Sports. A portion of the proceeds from the ESPYs are donated to the V Foundation, established by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano, the former N.C. State men's basketball coach who helped lead the Wolfpack to the national title in 1983, upsetting heavily-favored Houston.

Last year's winner for best moment was Reggie Miller's Final Game. In 2004, Brett Favre won the award for his performance on Monday Night Football the day after his father died.



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