Happy Friday! It is March and the freeze of February is finally over. NFL free agency is just around the corner and teams are preparing to make their major moves to improve before the draft. Let’s make a quick run through the NFL and get ready fro free agency and the draft:
In Minnesota, the Vikings are trying to determine if they make an offer to keep Matt Cassel after he got out of his contract to get to free agency. With Christian Ponder still eating up space on the roster, the Vikings have a tough choice whether to dare going into another season without a quarterback who actually gives the team a chance to win. Picking eighth in the draft, Minnesota could take a quarterback, but they may be gun shy after the Ponder debacle. They basically had no wins with quarterbacks not named Cassel last year, so they may be forced to overpay for the former New England backup, especially with the Houston Texans indicating interest.
Cleveland is in a similar situation as former first round draft pick Brandon Weeden stinking out the joint, the Browns have the tough choice regarding grabbing a quarterback or praying that a former New England backup can do the job. Former Patriot Brian Hoyer led the Browns to two wins in 2013 before being lost for the year due to a knee injury. Of course, that was 50% of their wins, so that is kind of impressive.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are picking third in the draft this season and look ready to finally move past the horrible Chad Henne/Blaine Gabbert duo that has grossly underperformed the past two seasons. One name not heard about much is Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. It seems improbable the Sanchize is back in New York next year, but will there be a market for him when the Jets inevitably part ways with him?
Moving past the quarterbacks, the New Orleans Saints are rumored to be shopping some veterans on offense. Running back Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas and wide receiver Lance Moore are reportedly available for teams in trades. The Saints are trying to free up about $9 million in cap space without just releasing their playmakers. The Saints need to get younger and more athletic on both sides of the ball in a hurry to not be left in the dust by Carolina, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The Saints of course need to pay tight end Jimmy Graham who is likely off the market with their offer sheet. To get Graham, a team has to give New Orleans two first round draft picks. Of course, most likely to happen is that a team will let New Orleans know they are interested and work out a trade. Would the Saints be willing to listen? For sure, this team is rebuilding on the fly and Graham is basically a large wide receiver (no blocking ability at all).
The Buffalo Bills did not tag safety Jairus Byrd who is going to be one of the big money signings in free agency. Whether it is in Buffalo remains to be seen.
Atlanta signed former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora last year thinking he was the final piece in the puzzle to move on to the Super Bowl. Whoops. At 32, he is no spring chicken, but Atlanta is in a tough spot. Are they a bounce-back team? Are they rebuilding? Either way, over $3 million in cap space for a player who should be a third down pass rusher at this stage is steep. According to reports he is being asked to take a significant pay cut. Will he? That’s the question. If not, there is another pass rusher on the market.
Denver released greybeard cornerback Champ Bailey and freed up $10 million dollars. Champ may be full of self confidence and think he is worth all that money at 36 after an injury filled season. Bailey had a Lisfranc sprain that slowed him most of the season and is looking at a low, one year salary to prove himself still capable. Not the market he is looking for in free agency. Of course, Denver now becomes the favorite in the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes to make one last push for the Super Bowl next season.
Good news for New England as their center Ryan Wendell is a free agent. The Colts surprisingly cut their starting center Samson Satele. At 29, Satele is an unrestricted free agent and the Patriots can move on from their weak link in the middle of the offensive line.
One replacement for cornerback is off the market for New England if they cannot re-sign cornerback Aqib Talib. The Miami Dolphins signed cornerback Brent Grimes to a four year $32 million contract with half the money guaranteed. Grimes came to Miami on a one year prove it deal and proved it as he was a top ten cornerback last year bouncing back from missing the 2012 season.
Speaking of the Dolphins, they need a huge upgrade on the offensive line. The Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito mess leaves a bad offensive line even weaker. They need both tackle positions filled and at least one guard and some depth. Young quarterback Ryan Tannehill has looked impressive, but if he has no running game or time to throw, the Dolphins will never get over the hump to the playoffs.
Took a look at the running backs in free agency. No superstars, but a lot of solid backs. Donald Brown of the Colts and Ben Tate of the Texans are looking to be a top back and paid as such, as is the resurgent LeGarrette Blount who resurrected his career in New England. Add in the always injured Darren McFadden of the Raiders, Green Bay’s James Starks, Jacksonville back Maurice Jones-Drew, the Broncos Knowshon Moreno, former Steeler Rashard Mendenhall, the Giants’ Andre Brown, the Vikings Toby Gerhart, and former Jaguar and Raider Rashad Jennings. One of these backs could be a breakout star, or two of them, or all of them...heck, maybe none of them. The depth will keep the prices down, which is good for teams trying to keep their backs or fall in love with another back. There is a reason they are available...but there are some good backs who can contribute to a team in 2014 on the market.
One back who may end up on the market is Ravens back Ray Rice. Last seen dragging his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator in Atlantic City, it may be difficult for the Ravens to keep him on the team. Whether the team eventually releases him depends on what plays out in the courts. Most likely, he will pay his way out of trouble and the Ravens have to weigh if they are going let public opinion sway their decision.
Finally, following the surprise release of linebacker D’Qwell Jackson last week, he ended up with an $11 million guarantee from Indianapolis on a four year $22 million contract. Jackson was good, but not great in Cleveland and again the Colts seem to be overpaying for scraps from Cleveland. Last year they inexplicably traded a first round pick for running back Trent Richardson who was a huge disappointment. At least Jackson only costs the Colts money and cap space.
So now that I'm sure you've finished reading that link...when I got to the gym on Friday I spoke briefly with the Upper Cape coach and Michaela. Afterwards, I went over to introduce myself to the guy in charge of filming. We got the tech stuff out of the way and got prepped to do the game.
I was working with an Upper Cape student named Brian on the call of the game while the guy in charge handled the video. Things went reasonably well. I was by no means perfect but I did well enough that the guy said after the game that things sounded good.
As for the game, WHAT A GAME!
Things started out a bit slow in the first quarter with Nantucket holding an 8-4 lead but UCT's Amber scored 5 quick points to have the Rams up 9-8 after one quarter. In the second half, UCT's offense went cold for a bit and Nantucket built a 16-11 lead.
But Amber (a freshman) helped counter that finishing with 13 first half points (on the way to a career high 26 points on the night) and Upper Cape was up 25-20 at the break.
Not to be outdone, in the second half Amber's older sister Krystle nailed three straight three pointers as the Rams eventually built a 38-21 lead. The offense went ice cold again and Nantucket cut the lead to 41-35 after three quarters.
But the Rams re-established things in the fourth and went on to grab a 60-42 victory! Survive and advance is the name of the game. Upper Cape will play West Bridgewater in the Division 4 South Sectional semifinals on Tuesday March 4th.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears split their two games this week. Things began with a 66-57 loss to Illinois State. Tyonna Snow had a season high 26 points while both Hannah Wilkerson and Mikala McGhee scored 10 points apiece.
A couple of notes about the team before talking about their next game.
Bry Snow was one of the recipients of the Missouri Valley Conference Leadership and Service Award this past week.
I had found myself wondering why Kenzie Williams had disappeared from the boxscores of the Missouri State games. I didn't see any stories about an injury or her leaving the team. Finally, I did a Google search on her name and found out that she had torn the ACL in her left knee. The sophomore had hurt the same knee last year as a freshman. Mystery solved, but sadly not in a fashion I would've hoped for. Here's to a quick recovery for Kenzie!
Against Southern Illinois, the Lady Bears got a season high point total as they ran off to a 93-76 victory. The win raises their record to 13-14 with an 8-8 conference mark. They won the game despite being outrebounded 49-40.
Bry Snow had 26 points and 8 boards to lead MSU while sister Tyonna Snow scored 18 points. Mikala McGhee (15 points) and Desiree Phillips (12 points) established new career scoring highs for themselves in this game as well.
Hartford - After a stellar week for the Hawks in last week's game action, Amber Bepko picked up the America East Player of the Week award.
On the court, Hartford lost to Binghamton 55-51, dropping them to 11-17 (8-7 in conference). Cherelle Moore had 15 points and Alyssa Reaves added 10 points
Tennessee - It was a good week for the Lady Vols as they continue their season of "Grind for 9", their mantra in chasing a ninth national championship.
They beat a tough Missouri squad 56-50 with only 7 players entering the game for Tennessee. Meighan Simmons had 25 points to lead the scoring while Bashaara Graves added 11 points. Isabelle Harrison had just 5 points, but grabbed 10 rebounds. Mercedes Russell scored 6 points and had 11 rebounds.
In the first half of their game against LSU, the Lady Vols built a 21 point lead going into the break. But things got tougher for them in the second half. They ended up hanging on to win 72-67 and now stand at 23-5 with a 12-3 SEC record. It was Simmons powering the offense once again as she finished with 31 points. Cierra Burdick scored a career high 22 points to go with 10 rebounds and Isabelle Harrison added 11 points and 11 boards.
I'm not a fan so don't expect this to be a regular included part of my columns. Pat, one of my former players who was on the very first team for which I was the head coach, was supposed to be fighting his last fight on Friday night. The local paper had a story about him which you can read here: http://wareham.wickedlocal.com/article/20140224/SPORTS/140228084/?tag=1
However, the fight ended up being called off as his opponent didn't make weight. And if the Tweets I read from the guy who wrote the article are to be believed, the training for the fight has apparently made Pat rethink the decision to retire.
Last Saturday, the Celtics were in Sacramento. The 105-98 loss to the Kings was made kind of a secondary story when, with 35 seconds left in the game, coach Brad Stevens got ejected. It is the first time he's ever been tossed from a game on any level. The replays I saw do not really show what he did to get the ref to run him, but after a week of being amazed at how Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim reacted to a call that got him thrown out, Stevens is the anti-Boeheim.
Instead of yelling and screaming, he calmly called down to the Kings bench to get their coach's attention, gave him a wave and said "good game" and calmly left the court.
The funniest thing is that his reaction became the story of the game. It was just so surprising that he got tossed and then how he didn't lose his mind on the way out of the arena.
As for the game itself, Jeff Green had 29 points to lead the Celtics and Kris Humphries added 19 points.
But even the ejection paled in comparison to the unwarranted brouhaha that happened when the media learned that Rajon Rondo stayed behind in LA to celebrate his birthday with family and friends instead of traveling with the team to Sacramento. He wasn't scheduled to play against the Kings so not traveling with them wouldn't be such a big deal.
But as usual, it was the pinheaded way he went about it that seemed to rile the media. Apparently, he didn't get the official permission of the team to stay behind. A tempest in a teapot likely but once the media got its hooks into the story, suddenly it was disrespect to Brad Stevens and how would the coach handle things. Not too mention Rondo and Danny Ainge.
I don't see what the big deal is all about. It seems like a minor infraction. Sit Rondo down with Stevens or Ainge or both. Behind closed doors, this situation is ironed out in five minutes. And no one has to do any media dance as if they've someone been wronged on a galactic level.
Jeff Green scored 21 points and Rondo had 18 points and 10 assists when the focus got back to the actual games on the court. Unfortunately, it still ended up being a loss. This time it was Utah taking a 110-98 victory.
The doom and gloom of fans who actually think the Celtics should TRY to win the games got a little sliver of sunshine when Boston beat Atlanta 115-104. Jerryd Bayless scored 29 points as the Celtics raised their record to 20-39. Ronda had 22 points and 11 assists while Jeff Green scored 17 and Brandon Bass chipped in with 14 points.
Men's Basketball - The Eagles fell to 7-21 (3-12 in the ACC) after losing 66-59 to Pittsburgh. Olivier Hanlan scored 25 points in the game (putting him over the 1,000 point mark for his career). Patrick Heckmann added 15 points and Ryan Anderson had 10 points.
Sportswriter Mark Blaudschun had a good read on why coach Steve Donahue should be kept as the man in charge of the basketball program. You can check it out here: http://ajerseyguy.com/?p=9306
The Eagles got a solid 80-72 win over Wake Forest on the road. Ryan Anderson led the team with 24 points and 7 boards. Olivier Hanlan scored 17 points while Lonnie Jackson added 12 points. Patrick Heckmann finished with 10 points. The win puts them at 8-21 (4-12 in the ACC).
Women's Basketball - Leading up to the Thursday night home game which would serve as Senior Night, the BC women's basketball site had brief Q&A's with the team's two seniors.
As for the game, the two players were honored before the game. You can see photos (by BC photographer John Quackenbos) of the players with coaches and family below. Doherty first, then Zenevitch.
To start the game, Zenevitch was sent out. Maryland won the tap and the Terps coach Brenda Frese immediately called a timeout so that Zenevitch, who was dealing with a knee injury, could be taken out of the game.
It was a classy move that the two coaches had agreed to before the game. Whichever team won the tap would call the timeout thus enabling Zenevitch the chance to "start" in her last home game.
The rest of the game was not so nice for the Eagles. Maryland just pasted them and cruised to a 92-66 win. Doherty led the Eagles with 15 points, Kat Cooper added 13. Freshman Kelly Hughes scored 12 points and Nicole Boudreau finished with 10 points. The Eagles got outrebounded 37-21 and have now lost 10 of their last 11 games. They are 12-17 overall with a 3-12 ACC record.
BOSTON RED SOX
While the spring training games don't really matter much to me, the annual Sox vs. college teams games saw the Red Sox beat Northeastern and Boston College by identical 5-2 scores.
Movies - The opening scene to the upcoming Veronica Mars movie has been released. It works to catch viewers up on the three seasons of the TV show before launching into the movie. The film is due in theaters and On Demand March 14th.
TV - In the lead up to the fourth season of Game of Thrones, the HBO PR machine has now unleashed a bevy of promo posters with the phrase "Valar Morghulis" (All Men Must Die) on them. My favorite is the one featuring the Arya Stark character which you can see below.
Books - I finished reading the Rhys Bowen mystery The Family Way this week. It's the latest in her early 1900's New York set series featuring Molly Murphy. It was a nice read and managed to show how Murphy gets to solving a case despite promising her new husband to give up detective work now that she has a baby on the way.
And though it isn't actually due out until Tuesday March 4th, I got my hands on the paperback edition of the latest Spenser novel Robert B. Parker's Wonderland. It's written by Ace Atkins. While I'm normally loathe to see a series continue after an author dies, I just can't stand the thought of not knowing where the new author (copious notes from Parker aside) takes the characters I've been reading for more than 20 years.
Happy Friday, all! Amazingly, it is just a pinch over five months until the 2014 NFL season kicks-off at the preseason Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH on August 3rd. Just over a week until the NFL teams are able to negotiate with other team’s free agents prior to the signing period starting on March 11th. The NFL Draft is pushed back to May this year, but even that is only nine weeks away.
With the news of an increase in the salary cap to close to $132 million there will be a number of teams with more space to overpay free agents. This is interesting because of the last collective bargaining agreement between the players and league followed an uncapped year and immediately the league had a number of stagnant cap seasons that seemed to belie the league’s success. Finally, this year the cap finally rose as many expected it would three years ago.
The NFLPA is already readying for the next labor war as former Carolina Panthers defensive end Sean Gilbert is out and campaigning to run against NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. Gilbert has been making the rounds and planning to get out of the current CBA. The election is next year, but the ten year deal is suddenly in jeopardy with another work stoppage in 2015 if Gilbert is elected.
Free agents are starting to ink deals now as left tackle Jordan Gross unexpectedly retired. Gross was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl multiple times in Carolina. This is a huge hole for a team that was close to contending in 2013.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski was in the news after saying on a radio show that he did not think prospect quarterback Johnny Manziel is not a good prospect. Jaworski is one of the best quarterback analysts (in my opinion at least--I NEVER miss him on NFL Matchup during the season) on the air and knows his passers. I do not see the controversy...I feel the same way as I watched him this season at Texas A&M and was not impressed. He was a great college quarterback...just like Tim Tebow.
The Philadelphia Eagles set the wide receiver market with a five year $25 million for wide receiver Riley Cooper. At the same time they are trying to decide to re-sign wide receiver Jeremy Maclin whose knee injury opened up the position for Cooper to step up. Hard to predict that Cooper would cash in after having nearly been booted off the team for his training camp racial slur scandal.
The Eagles also locked up their left tackle Jason Peters and extended center Jason Kelce. For Kelce, a sixth round draft pick, the six year $37 million contract is the payoff for a lot of hard work to work his way from being a fringe roster player to an elite interior offensive lineman.
The New Orleans Saints look to be on the verge of franchise tagging tight end Jimmy Graham. The two sides are far apart on a deal and New Orleans would be insane to let him on the open market. What is interesting will be where he is tendered as a franchise player. The difference is a couple million dollars so it will be interesting to see how that plays out this summer.
The Cleveland Browns released long-time linebacker D’Qwell Jackson after just two seasons into his signing a big money extension. Jackson excels in pass coverage at linebacker so he should have quite a market in free agency. Of course, there was a reason he was released by a four-win team (he has been terrible against the run the past two seasons and adds little to the pass rush) and if someone overpays they will likely be in the same boat as Cleveland in a year or two.
Of course, the NFL off-season is always full of controversy. Arizona almost lost the Super Bowl next year due to their discriminatory anti-gay bill. The NFL showed their muscle in the political arena by putting pressure on the state government. The NFL (and particularly the Arizona Cardinals) pushed hard to strike down Bill 1026 in order to keep the Super Bowl. Remember, the NFL stopped Arizona from having a Super Bowl due to their not recognizing Martin Luther King Jr Day in the past.
Other bad news for the NFL came with former NFL player and NFL Network analyst Darren Sharper stands accused of drugging and raping several women. The news now is that he is suspected of raping seven women. He was arrested initially in Los Angeles and now has an arrest warrant in New Orleans. He is under investigation in Florida, Arizona, and Las Vegas as well.
For Sharper it is his job gone and now potentially his freedom. If he is guilty then it is a tragic waste of a life. I do not understand or want to know what is going on in his head, but if he is responsible for this he is a sad, sick individual.
Speaking of wasted lives: former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was back in the news. A fight in jail--allegedly attacking an inmate who was in handcuffs--and he ended up in isolation for 30 days. Another odd twist in this ongoing saga for the former NFL player.
While planning my travels for next week's high school basketball tournament games...
And don't forget, I'm on Twitter now: @TheOneTrueJay
Big Mack and Darrin's Lynx team was in the youth league championship game today. It was the fourth straight title game appearance for the coaches. And after three losses, their team brought it home. The Lynx defeated the Fire 28-22. So a hearty congratulations goes out to two very deserving coaches!
There were two players on the team that I care about despite not being a coach anymore. The first was Emma. I coached her older sister Megan a number of years ago and have remained friends with their mom Michelle. This was her third appearance in a title game, but her first win. So Emma (pictured below) and her sister are now on equal footing as far as championship bragging rights! Congrats Emma!
As for Gabby, what can I say? She's a favorite of mine so I make it a point to go to some of her games to root her on, though not the youth league ones. She played JV for Wareham High this season as an 8th grader and adjusted rather well, scoring 177 points during that team's season.
But Gabby (pictured below) wanted a youth league title in the worst way. She'd never won before and this was her last chance. And what a way to go out. Though there was no official award, she was the game's MVP. She dominated the game and willed her team to the win scoring 24 of the 28 points. This was her "in the zone" moment!
I'm so extremely proud of her and glad that while I couldn't see her play today, that I have four more years to watch her be great in high school.
Her trophy moment (she's on the far right):
And here's a look at the Champion Lynx team in full.
(photos by Michelle F. (Emma's proud as punch mom), used by permission)
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Some quick notes:
Wareham Girls Track - The winter track season came to an end for Paige in the MIAA Division 4 Championships. Paige (pictured below in blue, photos by Wareham Courier's Adam Ellis)has battled a knee injury through most of the season and it made this winter season a bit of a tough road to hoe. She finished 20th in the 1000 meters with a time of 3:21.86.
Miscellaneous - There was an article in yesterday's paper on the shrinking attendance numbers at the area high school basketball games. It mostly focused on the boys games but there was a brief mention of one of the girls programs as well. I'd hazard a guess that the girls got short shrift in the article because their attendance figures are almost uniformly awful to begin with. You can check out the article here (and a photo of my ex-player Latroy from earlier in the season is below): http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140221/SPORTS02/402210335
Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity Basketball - On Senior Night, the B-P girls managed just 1 point in the fourth quarter and lost to Middleboro 34-21. The more interesting part of the whole game was when the lead ref threatened to toss out the crowd for the last 6 minutes of the game. And it was a well earned threat because the fans were an embarrassment.
You know that saying "Better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt"? Well, some of the B-P "fans" removed the doubt and showed a stunning lack of the basic understanding of what is and is not a foul. Did the refs miss some calls...sure. But the ones that brought the loudest and most ignorant catcalls from the morons in the stands, the refs actually got right.
Savahna saw some time in the game but not as much as when I saw her play on the road at Upper Cape. She forced a jump ball but otherwise didn't make a dent in the stat line. And she did a rather remarkable job singing the national anthem before the game. The girl has got a voice.
Upper Cape Girls Varsity Basketball - As you may have read in my blog post from Friday night, the UCT girls pulled off a stunner when they upset #1 seeded and previously undefeated Blue Hills to win the State Vocational school championship. My former player Michaela (who was part of all three girls teams I coached that won titles) played a huge role in the game, scoring 9 points, as the Lady Rams won 55-49. You can read all about The Big Damn Heroes here: http://www.t-s-b-n.com/pt/THE-BIG-DAMN-HEROES.2-21-2014/blog.htm
(photos by Wareham Courier's Adam Ellis)
As for the "regular" state tournament, five of the basketball teams I follow made the cut. The brackets were released yesterday afternoon so here's a rundown of where they'll be.
ORR Boys - Thanks to winning a coin flip, the Bulldogs are the #1 seed in Division 3 South. They get a first round bye. Their second round game will be at home against the winner of the GNB Voc-Tech/Burke game this coming Thursday. And if the unlikely but possible were to happen, ORR would face off with Wareham in the South Sectional final should both teams get that far.
Wareham Boys - Wareham got the #6 seed in Division 3 South and will play at home this coming Tuesday against East Bridgewater.
Upper Cape Boys - In Division 4 South, the Rams are the 11th seed. They will go on the road this coming Tuesday for their first round game against Bristol-Plymouth, a team they've already lost to twice.
Wareham Girls - The girls picked up the #7 seed in Division 3 South. They will play at home on Wednesday against Ursuline, who beat them last year in the playoffs. If they win that game, they'd go on the road to face the 19-3 Abington team who got a first round bye.
Upper Cape Girls - The Lady Rams are the #3 seed in Division 4 South. They get a first round bye (Division 4 features less teams, so more get those technical first round byes). They will play the winner of Nantucket/Sacred Heart on Friday February 28th.
Their potential second round matchup would be against West Bridgewater. That's assuming (and you know what that usually means) the 20-0 West Bridgewater team beats their second round opponent (Bristol Aggie or Westport).
BOSTON RED SOX
With spring training underway, there's been a marked increase in the news coming out of the Red Sox clubhouse these days.
Also, Jon Lester again let everyone know that he's perfectly willing to take the "hometown discount" to sign a contract with the Red Sox that would keep him in Boston for the rest of his career.
And while most people are sick of hearing David Ortiz complain about his contract, Big Papi is tired of hearing people complain about him wanting to have a contract. And he's made some good points while doing so. It is a little tiring for this contract thing to be a yearly event, but he's backed up things by earning what he's been paid all the time. And by baseball economics, he's been wildly underpaid while doing so.
If it is true that cats have nine lives, how many do football front office guys have? The Patriots officially announced the hiring of Michael Lombardi as "assistant to the coaching staff".
Not a bad landing for a guy who was essentially fired as GM of the Cleveland Browns after only a year on the job. Now, given that Cleveland is a cesspool of incompetence from the ownership on down, getting out of town quickly may not be a bad thing.
Still, going from Cleveland to New England must be like a dream for Lombardi. When Belichick was the Browns head coach years ago, Lombardi was there.
I read Lombardi's articles when he was writing for the National Football Post website and he seemed to be pretty knowledgeable about what he wrote, but putting that knowledge to practice hasn't been all that great for him as of late.
His exact duties are unclear but I would hope that he can indeed be a positive to the organization.
College Basketball - As the college season winds down, firings are getting underway. After making a brief NCAA tournament appearance two years ago, the Lamar University men's team led by Pat Knight has fallen completely off the radar. The school had seen enough and fired Knight this past week with Lamar at 3-22 overall. You can read more here: http://tracking.si.com/2014/02/16/pat-knight-fired-by-lamar-university/
College Football - Wyoming isn't exactly what you call "big-time" football, but with the hiring of new coach Craig Bohl (from FCS school North Dakota State, where he won three straight titles), the Cowboys are looking to make a move towards national prominence. Sports Illustrated's Lindsay Schnell (who has written some good pieces in the last couple of weeks) gives a look at the beginnings of Bohl's new job here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140220/craig-bohl-wyoming-cowboys/index.html
After the break due to the All-Star Game, the Celtics got back in action on Wednesday night. They ended up dropping a game to the Phoenix Suns 100-94. Brandon Bass had 18 points and 8 boards in the game while Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 10 assists.
Jeff Green scored 17 points and Jared Sullinger added 11 points and 8 boards.
More important to the team and its followers was the NBA's trade deadline. The Celtics were thought to be a player in the market but it turns out that GM Danny Ainge ended up sitting this one out. While Bass, Green and Rondo figured prominently in the myriad of swirling trade rumors, the Celtics ended up not making a move of any kind.
Whether there wasn't a satisfactory deal out there that Ainge wanted to pull the trigger on or perhaps as some have suggest online that Ainge priced himself out of trades, the roster the Celtics had for the Phoenix game is the roster they have now.
For those of us who aren't in favor of losing on purpose no matter how covertly you try to do it, I guess this could be seen as a good thing. That the Celtics will actually try to win games. They may not end up doing so, but the effort will be there at least.
For those who want to lose to get Jabari Parker, they are probably sticking pins in a Danny Ainge voodoo doll about now.
The challenge now for Ainge will be to figure out how to work with the roster he has, still be bad and then work some magic before draft day to unload a mixture of players and some of the bevy of draft picks he has to play with and get that top pick.
As for on the court results, the Celtics faced off with the Lakers last night and dropped to 19-37 with their 101-92 loss.
Jeff Green scored 21 points to lead the Celtics while Brandon Bass put up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Sullinger had a double double with 12 points and 12 boards. Gerald Wallace also poured in a dozen points while Rondo dished out 11 assists.
It's always tough to swallow a loss, but at least you know the team is actually busting their butts under coach Brad Stevens. He won't win it, but despite a losing record, what he's done so far with Boston under less than ideal circumstances and a roster that could change at any minute, I would think he has to be a candidate for NBA coach of the year. I don't think anyone expected to see the Celtics with 19 wins at the end of the season, much less right now.
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Tennesee - The Lady Vols got stunned by #18 Kentucky to start their week. The Wildcats knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville 75-71. 22 turnovers by the Lady Vols didn't help as Kentucky won for the first time in Knoxville since 1985.
Bashaara Graves had 20 points and 7 boards to lead Tennessee while Isabelle Harrison (pictured below) scored 20 points of her own to go with 16 boards. Meighan Simmons finished with 13 points.
Tennessee rebounded quickly though and crushed Auburn 93-63. Simmons (pictured below) had 26 points in the game. Cierra Burdick added 17 points and 9 boards and Andraya Carter scored 12 points. Isabelle Harrison had another double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Hartford - The Hawks ended up losing to New Hampshire to start their week. The 76-71 overtime loss saw Amber Bepko and Morgan Lumb lead the team with 16 points apiece. Milana Gilbert had 11 points and Cherelle Moore scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Hartford went on to beat UMass-Lowell 80-64. Bepko again led the way, scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.
Rebounding was a big key to the win as the Hawks had a 54-36 edge in that statistical department.
Alyssa Englert added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while both Shanise Bultron and Morgan Lumb scored 11 points. Alyssa Reaves had 10 points and 8 boards. And Cherelle Moore led the team with 9 boards (to go with 5 points and 6 assists.)
You can see highlights and the post game press conference below.
On Saturday, the Hawks cruised to an 80-64 win over UMBC. They hit a school record 16 three pointers and Amber Bepko (pictured below) was the star of the game. She hit an individual school record 7 three pointers on the way to a career high 25 points.
The Hawks improved to 11-16 (8-6 in the America East Conference) with help from Shanise Bultron (18 points), Morgan Lumb (12 points), Cherelle Moore (10 points, 8 boards) and Alyssa Reaves (6 points, 11 boards).
Missouri State - It was a tough week for the Lady Bears. They lost to Drake 79-69 despite a combined 36 points and 13 rebounds from Tyonna and Bry Snow. MSU had no answer to stopping Drake's Kyndal Clark who finished with 38 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
It got worse on Friday night as Indiana State's defense just suffocated the Bears offense and crushed Missouri State 73-37. Tyonna Snow led the team with just 8 points as the Bears were held to season lows in nearly every statistical category.
They are now 12-13 on the season with a 7-7 conference record (4th place).
Men - It has been a long tough road for the Eagles this season and it continued earlier in the week as they lost another close game to Notre Dame last Sunday night. The 73-69 loss saw Olivier Hanlan score 18 points and Joe Rahon add 13. Ryan Anderson had 11 points and 11 boards.
Earlier in the day, the women's team paid tribute to the passing of longtime BC assistant sports information director Dick Kelley. The men's team did so as well.
They also went to the funeral on Tuesday and it was a pretty emotional time for all who knew the beloved Kelley.
And perhaps as it was played up, his death inspired the Eagles. But whatever it was, the Eagles soared when they went into their game against #1 ranked and undefeated Syracuse.
They had no chance in the game, they stunk and Syracuse was awesome. Or so that's how the script was supposed to go. Instead, led by 20 points from Olivier Hanlan (pictured below), the script got a dramatic rewrite and the Eagles stunned EVERYONE and knocked off Syracuse in overtime 62-59! HELL YEAH!
Lonnie Jackson scored 10 points and Ryan Anderson added 9 points and 14 rebounds to get the celebration (pictured below) underway.
He's been embattled because the Eagles haven't really risen to the occasion for most of his tenure but for one night at least, coach Steve Donahue (pictured below) was the man of the figurative hour.
Of course on Saturday, the hangover effect kicked in with a major beatdown for the Eagles at the hands of Miami. Patrick Heckmann scored 15 points for Boston College but it was the Hurricanes day as they rolled to a 69-42 victory.
Olivier Hanlan was the only other Eagle in double figures as they dropped to 7-20 (3-11 ACC).
You can see the postgame press conference with coach Erik Johnson below.
On Thursday, the women's team traveled to play Clemson. Kristen Doherty was back in the lineup after missing a number of games due to injury but her return didn't change the final result as the Eagles lost 72-67. They are now 12-16 with a 3-11 ACC mark.
Nicole Boudreau (pictured below) had a career high 25 points to lead BC, including a career high 7 three pointers. Katie Zenevitch added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
And you can check out this rather hilarious "Honest Trailer" for the movie Gravity.
TV - HBO has released the second promo trailer for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones.
Music - I picked up the new Adrenaline Mob CD Men of Honor and will hopefully, eventually get around to doing a review of it.
And when I went to pick up that CD, I ended up finding a surprise in the newly released Lone Justice CD This Is Lone Justice - The Vaught Tapes, 1983.
I'm a huge fan of the band, and singer Maria McKee in particular and this release captures (via recorded direct to 2-track tape with no overdubs) the set list that Lone Justice was packing L.A. Clubs with in 1983. Nine of the tracks are previously unissued.
See why I love going to record stores? I would never have known this CD was out if not for actually going to buy my music in the old fashioned brick and mortar storefront!
Books - Want a good police procedural book to read? Check out the Joe Gunther series by Archer Mayor. I'm just about done with his latest Three Can Keep A Secret and it has been yet another fantastic read by an author who I've met and does a marvelous job keeping me entertained throughout his books. Check him out at http://www.archermayor.com
I also picked up a couple of new books this week. There was a new Star Trek novel published. It is set during the Original Series time but author Greg Cox features a time travel crossover that has Seven of Nine from the Voyager series going back in time and meeting up with Captain Kirk. The book is called No Time Like The Past. I don't usually get the Original Series novels, but this one looked too good that I just couldn't pass it up.
The other novel is the new Tiger & Del book by fantasy author Jennifer Roberson. Set years after the original series run, Sword-Bound finds enemies from the past tracking down the pair for past transgressions. The original books were simply outstanding and when I saw that Roberson was doing another book (one more is planned as well), I knew I had to pick it up.