Even four states away, Joyce Sampson couldn't escape the connection. When she and the rest of the Radford (Va.) women's basketball team traveled to Florida earlier this month, she was met by the usual chants of, "Ralph, Ralph, Ralph."

Whether the spectators root for the Radford Highlanders or not, they always cheer for Sampson, whose older brother is 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson of the National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets.

"They yelled at Florida University but not as much as at Central Florida," said Sampson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore. "I could really hear them when I played. After a while, though, I didn't pay that much attention to them."

"Wherever we go, they cheer for her," said Charlene Curtis, Radford's first-year coach. "The first time we had an open practice session in Roanoke, the kids in the stands all cheered for her. It bothered her that they cheer for her and nobody else. Now, she's beyond that; she's in there to play."

Occasionally, she'll call her brother in Houston and do a little bragging of her own, for example about her season-high, 20-point, 13-rebound performance against Florida or about her 14 points and nine rebounds in Radford's 82-76 victory over North Carolina.

"When we beat North Carolina, I called him and he said, 'Ya'll beat North Carolina?' I said of course we did. Then we joked around about it."