Jenni Carlson: Thunder's Eric Maynor has a smile as big as Kansas

by Jenni Carlson Published: March 27, 2011

Eric Maynor can no longer lay claim to Virginia Commonwealth's most magical March Madness moment.

And he couldn't be happier.

Even though the Thunder guard will always be remembered in VCU lore for his buzzer-beater that upset mighty Duke four years ago, the Rams now have an NCAA Tournament highlight that is grander. They beat Kansas in the regional final. They showed all those doubters that they belong.

Now, they are going to the Final Four.

Maynor beamed Sunday evening as he talked about his alma mater's win.

“I watched the whole thing before I came to the arena,” he said. “Excited for them.”

The players who knocked off the 'Hawks and shocked the college basketball world aren't just some random guys to Maynor. Jamie Skeen, the Rams' swingman who blitzed the Jayhawks for 26 points, was sitting out the year after transferring from Wake Forest during Maynor's last season at VCU. Joey Rodriguez, the Rams' gutty point guard who just kept attacking the Jayhawks, was a starter alongside Maynor for two years.

Then this past offseason, Maynor spent a majority of the time in Richmond. He worked out with the team. He hung with the team.

These guys are his buddies.

“I talk with them all the time,” he said sitting inside the locker room before Sunday night's game. “I'm just talking to one of them right now.”

He raised the cell phone in his hand.

“They're so happy.”

So is Maynor.

He plans to have some fun with VCU's success. Maynor, after all, has found himself on the receiving end of some serious ribbing from his Thunder teammates these past couple weeks.

First, they told him that VCU had no place in the NCAA Tournament.

Then, the Kansas alums told him that the VCU run would end against their guys.

Sunday's box score
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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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