As the Charlotte 49ers were in the process of finishing off Louisiana-Lafayette 80-56 Tuesday, there wasn't much late in the game to keep the fans in Halton Arena interested.
Enter Sean Phaler.
For starters, Phaler is hard to miss. Reed-thin at 6-foot-9, 175 pounds, Phaler sports a series of tatoos on his arms that draw attention pretty quickly. These aren't your garden-variety tats using black ink. We're talking vivid reds and blues, among others.
Phaler is also a different sort off the court. He once won a web page designer contest and the $60,000 that went with it. Problem was, he was in the eighth grade and too young to be eligible for the prize.
Even his route to Charlotte is unusual. He was signed with UCLA by former coach Steve Lavin, but transferred to New Mexico after Lavin was fired. So he transferred to New Mexico, then switched to Fullerton (Calif.) Junior College to be near his sick father. While at New Mexico, Phaler was in a car accident so serious that he had to be cut from the vehicle by the Jaws of Life.
Now, in is first season at Charlotte, Phaler has been plagued with injuries and sickness, playing in just 15 of the 49ers' first 23 games.
But he made the most of his six minutes against Lafayette. First, he swished a 3-pointer, igniting the crowd. Then he did it again. And again, a slight smile crossing his face as he backpedaled down the court. When it was over he had scored 11 points on 3-for-3 3-point shooting. The crowd serenaded him by chanting his name during a timeout.
It was a nice moment for a kid who's had a long journey.
-- David Scott
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Posted by Observer Sports at 11:56 AM