Hoop Dreams

It was a fairy tale come true—and the Patriots basketball team captured the hearts of Americans everywhere.

“Pinch me…this can’t be true.”
—Temporary tattoo on psychology professor Lou Buffardi’s forehead.

We were the underdogs, the Cinderella team that never should have been at the ball in the first place. We were the long shots that kept hanging in there, ruining everyone’s brackets in the NCAA Tournament. We were the kryptonite that crumpled even the strongest supermen. We were the most famous university in the country for a few weeks—keying in those who had never heard of us to our greatness. We proved that it is easy to be green—and gold—and it continues to be so. We realized what it means to be a Patriot, and we celebrated in that joy and pride. And we’re still dancing.

Senior Lamar Butler, BA Communication ’06, signs copies of Sports Illustrated.

“Excellence is not an act, it’s a habit.”
—Coach Larranaga
New York Times, March 19

Senior Jai Lewis displays the regional trophy to a crowd of 5,000 in the Patriot Center.

Patriot Gains

Mason scores big off the court, too


“It was the beginning of an improbable week at the summit of college basketball, and across the campus was the sense that no matter what the outcome in Indianapolis, this was a moment to savor.”
Washington Post, March 28, 2006

“Eleventh-seeded George Mason is a source of inspiration for anyone with a heartbeat. And, yes, the glass slipper is starting to look like just the right size.”
USA Today, March 27, 2006

Mason Firsts

Here’s how the Patriots made basketball history:

Alumni Watch Parties

New York City

Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Knoxville, Tennessee

Chicago, Illinois

Camp Larranaga—Students camped out for days to get tickets to the Sweet Sixteen game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (top)

Photo Caption Below

Coach Larranaga with the media

Buy George—In two weeks the George Mason University Bookstore sold more than 25,000 NCAA-related pieces of clothing and nearly 1,500 hats, along with another 8,000 pieces of general Mason gear. According to bookstore manager Jack Smith, “We sold more clothing in one week than we did all of last year.” Above, the line for Final Four gear.

An impromptu parade on Patriot Circle after the Elite Eight win.

Gunston in the Fairfax City parade

University President Alan Merten (center) with Alumni Association President Cathy Lemmon, BA ‘86, MA ‘93, and vice president–programs Ted Arnn, BS ‘93, at George Mason University Day, proclaimed by the Fairfax County government.