While putting the finishing touches on preparations for the Christmas Eve / Christmas Day festivities...
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I saw a hilarious Christmas related comic strip this week that kind of fit me perfectly:
New England Patriots - The Patriots wrapped up another AFC East division championship last Sunday with their 41-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins. At 11-3, they are in control of their own playoff destiny and are looking to win out to seal home field advantage through said postseason play.
The game didn't initially start out to be a study in offensive fireworks for the Patriots. In fact, it was Miami that opened things up on the first drive of the game with a 50 yard pass play on the first play from scrimmage. But the Pats defense stiffened up after that and forced Miami to settle for a field goal attempt. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, this was when the Pats got their first big play of the afternoon. Jamie Collins blocked the attempt and Kyle Arrington scooped up the ball and ran it back 62 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Despite that big play, the first half seemed like it was played in an almost neutral gear. The Patriots scored another touchdown and Miami put up a couple of field goals. But with 5 seconds left in the half, the Dolphins made things VERY interesting when QB Ryan Tanneyhill hit Mike Wallace for a spectacular 32 yard TD strike. While they had to go to replay to confirm the catch, there was no doubt that it was a legal catch. The TD sent the teams into the halftime break with the Patriots up just 14-13 and momentum clearly in favor of the Dolphins.
I don't know what the Bill Belichick and his coaching staff said and did during halftime but when the third quarter started, all that supposed momentum Miami had going for them just about instantly evaporated. In all, the Patriots put a 24-0 beatdown on the Dolphins in the third quarter and turned the game from a tight "what's going to happen" contest into a complete laffer.
I guess that's what happens when you are a student at the...
Tom Brady ended up passing for 287 yards and 2 TDs on the day. He got picked off once, but the most talked about play was early in the 3rd quarter when he had a 17 yard scramble that ended with a fiery reaction from the QB and lit a fire under the rest of the team.
The run game managed to balance things out with the passing game this week. On the ground, the Patriots racked up 108 yards. While LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen had TD runs, it was thought to be forgotten Jonas Gray (shown below) that led the team with 62 of those yards.
The Dolphins managed to shut out Rob Gronkowski (shown first) during the first half. The tight end finished up the day with just 3 catches in all, but he racked up 96 yards and score on those three balls. Julian Edelman (shown 2nd) had 7 catches for 88 yards and the other TD through the air.
While the majority of the highlights came from the offensive side of the ball, let's not forget the contributions of the defense to the victory over Miami. The run defense held Miami to just 76 total yards.
Not only that, but the defense harassed Tanneyhill all day long. While he had a lot of passing yards on the day, given how the Dolphins played from behind and couldn't run the ball worth a damn, it was still a pretty good day for the "D". They sacked Tanneyhill four times, including 1.5 sacks by Chandler Jones (see below 1st), a sack each for Rob Ninkovich and Sealver Siliga. Dont'a Hightower (see below 2nd) managed to get credit for 1/2 a sack as well.
The Patriots also picked off Tanneyhill twice, once by Patrick Chung and then by Duron Harmon (see below).
With a big lead and no real comeback rally by the Dolphins, the Patriots cruised through the fourth quarter adding a field goal for the final margin of victory. The win sets up the Patriots for big things headed into the playoffs if they can win out the rest of the regular season. After the way the season started with iffy offensive production, it is nice to be in the driver's seat in the AFC. Now the team just needs to finish the job and seal up the next two games.
It's always easier said than done, but here's hoping for the best...and with the Patriots clicking like they are, the best is always possible.
In other NFL related news, I read an article on SI.com this week about former Philadelphia Eagles player Danny Watkins. He was another one of those can't miss first round draft picks who ended up being tagged with the "BUST" label. You can learn more about him and why he never met expectations HERE.
BOSTON RED SOX
There were a few deals made on Friday that changed the makeup of the roster. The Red Sox brought back reliever Craig Breslow on a 1 year deal. Then late night on Friday, they traded oft-injured Will Middlebrooks to San Diego for catcher Ryan Hanigan.
Hanigan will be the backup catcher and serve as a mentor to Christian Vazquez. While it was probably a necessary trade to get rid of Middlebrooks, the deal also became necessary when David Ross signed a 2 year deal with the Chicago Cubs on Friday. I liked Ross. I know his bat wasn't there last season but he was a pretty good guy behind the plate and everything I ever read about him says that he was good guy in the locker room as well.
Mount Saint Joseph - After playing in her team's Tuesday night game against the College of Wooster (she scored the first basket of the game and MSJ won 66-65), Lauren Hill officially retired from basketball. The decision was made so that the school didn't have to apply for special permission from the NCAA for Hill to keep playing as she has stopped taking classes at the school. Her coach announced that she'll stay on as an honorary coach as she continues to raise money for cancer research. You can read more her final game appearance in this article.
The USA Today newspaper had a profile on Hill that appeared in Wednesday's edition. You can read that HERE.
Catholic University - The Cardinals split their two games before the Christmas break. They beat Gwynedd Mercy 65-55 and then lost to Lebanon Valley 76-54. The team is now 5-4 on the season. My ex-player Amber didn't play in the first game. Against Lebanon Valley, she saw 2 minutes of court time and had a personal foul on the stat line.
Last Sunday saw the remaining five college teams that I follow in action, and in what I'm sure is a statistical oddity for my rooting interests, all five of them ended up winning on that day. Here's what happened:
Hartford - The Hawks beat Sacred Heart 68-63 to improve to 5-6 on the season. Cherelle Moore (pictured below) led the team with 20 points.
Shanise Bultron (photo below) had an interesting game for herself. She scored 12 points in the first 4 minutes of the game, then scored one more point the rest of the way to finish with 13 points. She had 5 rebounds, a career high 5 assists as well. She also turned the ball over five times.
Amber Bepko had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals while Deanna Mayza hit for 11 points, then added 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
You can see highlights from the game below.
Missouri State - The Bears picked up their second win of the season (now 2-7) with a strong 68-58 victory over IUPUI.
Kenzie Williams (pictured below) led the way on offense with 29 points. Tyonna Snow saw her first game action of the season after being out with an injury. She had 17 points and 4 steals.
Later in the week, Williams was named the MVC Player of the Week, the third time she's won that award.
On Friday night, the Bears faced off against Arkansas State. While Kenzie Williams had 20 points and Hillary Chvatal added 13 points and 12 rebounds, Missouri State lost 78-62. Tyonna Snow scored 10 points but led the team with 6 turnovers.
In fact, turnovers played a huge role in the game. The Bears turned it over 23 times in the game and Arkansas State converted those into 35 points. They shot 59.6% for the game which offset Missouri State having a 36-24 edge in rebounds.
The team is now 2-8 on the season.
Tennessee LADY VOLS - Tennessee found themselves in a struggle when they played Rutgers on the road. They trailed deep into the second half but eventually pulled ahead and came away with a 55-45 victory. As strange as it is to stay about Tennessee, the win was their first road victory over a ranked opponent in more than a year. They outrebounded Rutgers 54-42.
Ariel Massengale (pictured below 1st) scored 13 points top the scoring chart for the Lady Vols. Jasmine Jones (pictured 2nd) had 12 points and 6 boards, but turned the ball over 6 times. Isabelle Harrison (pictured 3rd) had herself a double double with 11 points and 13 boards.
The Lady Vols next survived a nailbiter over Wichita State 54-51. In order to win, they had to overcome 18 turnovers.
Isabelle Harrison scored 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while Alexa Middleton (pictured below 1st) added 10 points. Cierra Burdick (pictured 2nd) also scored 10 points. She added a career high 17 rebounds. Burdick also turned the ball over 5 times.
Yesterday afternoon, the Lady Vols stunned Stanford 59-40 and raised their record to 9-2. Ariel Massengale (shown 1st) came off the bench to lead Tennessee with 18 points. Bashaara Graves had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Isabelle Harrison (shown 2nd) added 10 points of her own along with 7 rebounds.
(All photos from Tennessee game galleries, except last one from Yahoo)
Boston College Men - The Eagles debuted their new gold uniforms (see below) in their Sunday matchup against Binghamton.
The game also saw the returns of Eddie Odio and Lonnie Jackson to action. They'd both been out with injuries.
As for the on court action, the BC ended up improving to 6-3 for the season after picking up a 63-49 win. Dimitri Batten (pictured 1st) scored 18 points to lead BC. Aaron Brown added 16 points and Olivier Hanlan (pictured 2nd) had 14 points.
(Photos from BC game galleries)
You can see highlights from the game below.
Boston College Women - The women's team was the 2nd half of the home doubleheader with the men's team and they ended up with a 64-58 victory over New Hampshire. The Eagles built the lead up to 13 points in the 2nd half but UNH rallied to cut the deficit to just 3 points with 1:25. The most telling factor on defense for BC was holding their opponents to just 1-13 from three point range.
BC managed to lock things down the rest of the way as they upped their record to 6-4. Ashley Kelsick (shown below 1st) led the Eagles with 14 points. Kelly Hughes (shown 2nd) scored 12 points and grabbed 9 boards to go with 4 assists and 2 steals (3 turnovers). Nicole Boudreau added 11 points.
(Photos from BC game galleries)
You can see videos of game highlights and post game comments from Hughes and coach Erik Johnson below.
The bowl preparations are underway so there is nothing to report in terms of games. This week, I bring you coaching news.
Wisconsin - Despite AD Barry Alvarez trying to spin things as if the decision hadn't already been made, the Badgers made what was reported last week and hired Pitt coach Paul Chryst as their new head coach.
Nebraska - I don't think you will see Nebraska and ex-coach Bo Pelini breaking bread any time soon. Pelini got hired as the new coach at Youngstown State but after that happened, reports about a meeting he had with his Cornhusker players after being fired hit the wires. He apparently verbally and profanely blasted the school administrators and the athletic director. Not content with being his verbal punching bag, the school fired back. You can read this article to learn more.
Boston College - In what I consider a great move, BC has agreed to a six year contract extension with coach Steve Addazio. The new deal runs through 2020. While it might be foolhardy to believe he'll actually be the coach until the end of the deal, this gives Boston College a sense of stability with their football program. In his two years in charge, he's brought BC football back to respectability with a pair of 7 win seasons and 2 bowl games.
Addazio seems to be developing a nice base of talent and if he can get some solid QB play once Tyler Murphy is gone, maybe...just maybe, he can make BC a threat in the ACC again.
Boston Celtics - Due to time constraints this week, there will be no separate The Celtics Report post. Instead I'll try to be relatively brief in talking about the week that was in Celtics-Land. The first bit of news is that the team has released Vitor Faverani, who never recovered enough from his knee surgery to get back on the court in any meaningful way.
In regards to the Rajon Rondo (with Dwight Powell thrown in) trade, I am not happy about it because it is a sure sign that the team has given up on the season in my mind. Especially since there are reports that the team is also shopping Jeff Green. At this point, I'm a couple of injuries away from getting a phone call.
I know that the team wasn't going anywhere this season, but the trade leaves the team just one step above what the 76ers are doing. It isn't deliberate tanking like Philly, but it is darn close. And I say this realizing that the Celtics are actually on a three game winning streak after winning their first post-Rondo game on Friday night.
But before we go into that game, lets go back to Boston's 105-87 win over those deliberately tanking 76ers. Kelly Olynyk found a magic touch for this game (or just took advantage of the barely there defensive effort) and scored a career high 30 points to go with 9 rebounds. Avery Bradley had 15 points while both Jeff Green and Brandon Bass added 14 points. Evan Turner hit for 12 points and dished out 6 assists.
It was Bass scoring 18 points and Green's 16 points that helped power the Celtics to a 109-92 win over the Orlando Magic. Jared Sullinger added 16 points and Olynyk had 15 points and 6 boards. Tyler Zeller finished with 10 points and 7 boards. It will go down as the last game in a Celtics uniform for Rajon Rondo. He scored 13 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 15 assists (6 turnovers).
Friday's 114-98 win over Minnesota was keyed by 21 points and 8 rebounds from Kelly Olynyk (see below). Jeff Green scored 18 points and had 7 rebounds. Jared Sullinger had a double double with 14 points and 10 boards. Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller also had 14 points in the game. Evan Turner finished with 10 points.
The Celtics find themselves in the Marcus Smart era now, assuming Smart can actually stay healthy for a long enough period to fully take over as the point guard. They've quietly fashioned another three game win streak and stand at 10-14.
The questions surrounding the team still resonate as much as they did before the Rondo trade but all the problems the team has will be magnified that much more should they really hit the skids.
Sacramento Kings - The Kings organization set themselves up for a lot of heat this past week when they first coach Michael Malone after less than two years. While the team was an abysmal 28-54 in his first season, you can't blame him entirely for the mess that he was handed for a roster of players. The fact that the team was an improved 11-13 at the time of his firing showed he'd helped improve their fortunes.
But the big problem for the coach was that his philosphy differed with team ownership and management. They wanted to see an uptempo pace to the way the team played and stuck him with players he didn't want.
It was a horrible way to treat a coach and when they lost DeMarcus Cousins to illness, the team went into a tailspin. Ownership used this bad spot of play to fire Malone and put Tyrone Corbin in as interim coach. You can check out the this Yahoo! Sports article to get the full breakdown on the "doomed partnership" between Malone and the Kings.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Girls Soccer - The local paper announced their girls soccer all-stars and my former players Brianna and Paige got mentioned. Brianna was named as an All-Star and Paige got an honorable mention.
Girls Volleyball - The All-Star announcements saw Raelyn get an honorable mention.
Football - Josh got an honorable mention in the All-Star announcements for his efforts on the field for the Wareham football team.
Girls Winter Track - In a dual meet that featured ORR, Wareham and Fairhaven, the ORR team beat Wareham 63-23. My ex-player Rachel won the 1000M event in that matchup with a time of 3:28.7.
Wareham lost the matchup against Fairhaven 43.5-42.5. My ex-player Paige won the 1000M in 3:30.7 and took the mile event in 6:08.1.
Basketball Round Up:
Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - On Friday night, Savahna's team beat Blue Hills 52-49 to pick up their first win of the season (1-1). She didn't play in the game though.
Sturgis East Girls Varsity - The first game of the season was against Falmouth Academy and the Storm ended up dropping the opener to them 60-41. Isabella didn't score in the game.
ORR Boys Varsity - The Bulldogs opened their season with two dominating wins. They annihilated Case 94-45. Raekwon (pictured below #12) had 6 points in that game. On Friday night, they played Appponequet and blew them out 69-50 with Raekwon scoring 7 points.
Wareham Boys Varsity - Wareham picked up two wins in their first two games. They opened up with a 68-55 victory over GNB Voc-Tech and then Thursday night, they held the top scorer for Sandwich to just 5 points by employing a diamond and one defense. They gritted out a 62-59 win. Josh didn't score in either game.
You can read a season preview about the team HERE.
On Saturday afternoon, they dropped a 64-63 decision to Bishop Stang. Josh didn't score in the game for Wareham. But my former player Jake had 10 points for Bishop Stang (2-0). Wareham drops to 2-1 on the season.
Wareham Girls Varsity - The girls lost to GNB Voc-Tech 56-37 earlier in the week. In that game, Tieyanna scored 11 points, Gabby and Erica had 3 points and Kali finished with 2 points. On Friday, they played Barnstable but lost 61-50. Gabby had a good game on an individual level with 13 points, Tieyanna also scored 13 points while Erica added 2 points.
Below you can see some game action photos of my ex-players from the team's season opening loss to Bishop Stang.
First up is Gabby and the first pic is just amazing as it captures her focus and intensity as she prepares to shoot a foul shot.
Gabby driving to the lane
Gabby on defense:
Below is a couple of shots apiece of Kali (1st) and Tieyanna:
(all photos by the Wareham Courier's sports editor Adam K. Ellis)
Upper Cape Girls JV - The JV team has a 3-0 record after two wins at the start of this past week. They beat Cape Cod Tech 25-11 on Monday night. Laurina didn't play in the game (she had to work), while Ann Marie started at point guard and scored 2 points. Against Sacred Heart on Tuesday, the jayvees won 31-14. Laurina played but I don't have any info on any stats. Ann Marie again started at point and scored 2 points.
Upper Cape Girls Varsity - The Rams are also 3-0 but it came with a bit more of a challenge than they would've liked. In their Monday game against Cape Cod Tech, the game was a 64-27 blowout. Michaela was 1-8 from the floor and 1-2 from the foul line for 3 points. She had 2 assists and 4 steals plus 4 rebounds. She committed 3 turnovers and 1 foul. After the game I talked to her and said that she was rushing her shots, not setting them up or squaring to the basket. She agreed with what I had to say.
But Tuesday's game against Sacred Heart revealed the flaws Upper Cape has working against it even when they are winning games. The Rams led 17-4 after the first quarter and 19-9 at halftime. They scored the first 9 points in the third quarter to lead 28-9. But then Sacred Heart essentially punched Upper Cape in the mouth. All game long they'd played up on them defensively but now their pressure really paid off as they forced one turnover after another. Upper Cape was discombobulated, played bad defense themselves and couldn't hit a shot to save their lives. The third quarter ended 32-23 in Upper Cape's favor.
It wasn't a pretty game, but the Saints kept coming. In the fourth quarter, they cut the lead down to 37-33 and the Rams FINALLY called a timeout. It broke the momentum and Upper Cape ended up escaping 41-35. But when faced with a team that didn't back down away from them, you could see Upper Cape had trouble adjusting their game. And the body language was terrible from their team leaders. They got burnt badly on a couple of out of bounds plays that Sacred Heart ran, they couldn't hit free throws and they had more than the 16 turnovers I actually caught sight of. There were no picks set to get the guards free of their defenders.
I hope that during practice the team gets their act together. And I hope someone teaches their post players how to hit those 2 foot bunny shots she gets so many of in the course of the game. In the three games, she probably could've had about 30 extra points if she would hit those shots.
Michaela was 1-6 from the floor and 1-4 from the foul line for three points. She had 6 rebounds and forced 3 jump ball calls. She turned the ball over twice.
Food - It was a last minute kind of thing, but I went out to dinner with my friends Brian and Chad on Wednesday. We went to The Boston Tavern in Middleboro, Mass. I enjoyed it. We started off with some chicken tenders and onion rings for appetizers. The tenders were huge and the honey BBQ sauce (on the side) was just the right touch. The onion rings were flaky with the breading and delicious.
For the main course, I ended up going with their Tavern Burger. I was going to be a little more adventurous in what I had to eat but since it was my first time at the place, I went with a safer choice. Instead of my usual French fries, I went with the mashed potatoes. I'm not normally a fan of the skin left in style of mashed potatoes, but these were actually quite good.
It is a place that I would definitely go back to for another meal.
Comics - The full list of both Gold and Silver level sponsor books for the 2015 Free Comic Book Day can be seen HERE.
TV - A couple of shows finished their series runs this past week. White Collar ended with a final episode that tied things up neatly enough, but I wasn't overjoyed by how things ended. I guess it makes sense given the characters and their motivations, but I just felt there should've been something MORE.
HBO's The Newsroom wrapped up its three season run that gave us an idea of where all the character either did end up or would end up. It wasn't all that heavy on dramatics but there was a fantastic musical turn by series star Jeff Bridges in the midst of the episode. He performed a version of the Tom T. Hall song "That's How I Got To Memphis". I had never heard the song before but it was done so beautifully that I wish his version would get released.
You can see it below.
And it looks like there will not be any more 24, if this article on Kiefer Sutherland on TVGuide.com is the final word on things.
You can check out the first trailer for the 3rd season of the BBC America science fiction show Orphan Black below.
Movies - With Sony and movie theaters caving in to terrorist threats should they screen the movie The Interview, I guess it was only a matter of time before some creatively insane though hilariously funny person on the Internet would come up with the following:
Music - I stil can't release my best of lists yet, but the Classic Rock Bottom message board's Top Ten Albums is being released. I'm part of the voting body for these and the albums list is being done in a day by day countdown fashion. This is the overall tally of everyone's votes, not just mine. However, I was asked to write the summary for #9 on our list, Accept's Blind Rage. You can check out what I had to say HERE. Oh and the majority of the Classic Rock Bottom Awards have been announced. You can check out that list HERE.
There's a couple of videos out I thought you might want to check out. There's a lyric video for the title track to the upcoming Black Star Riders album The Killer Instinct.
Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon has a new solo album called World Peace. You can check out the song "Born Free" below.
Christmas - I know that most everyone is going to be busy with the conclusion of the holiday season this week. I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
By the way, if you have a book lover in your life, wouldn't this make a great themed Christmas tree?
Here's my favorite Christmas song for your listening enjoyment.
While chuckling at the pretty accurate description of me in the pic below...
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The game may have lacked offensive explosiveness but after Tom Brady and the Patriots spent the first three quarters of the game suffering under the pressure of the San Diego Chargers defense, it was nice to see them get things going in the fourth quarter. The resiliency of the offense in that fourth quarter helped the Patriots come back and beat San Diego 23-14.
Brady (pictured below 1st) ended up with 317 passing yards for the game. He had 2 TD passes. While he was sacked one time, you can generally overlook that. What you can't overlook is how the one interception he threw (picked off by Manti T'eo, pictured below 2nd) was another one of those gawdawful-what-the-hell-was-he-thinking variety picks. He had nothing on the throw and if any Patriot player had caught that ball it would've been an early Christmas miracle.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals in the game while Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski supplied the touchdown scores. Edelman caught 8 passes for 141 yards including the career long 69 yard catch and run for the score (see below 1st). Gronkowski also caught 8 passes for 87 yards and his TD (see below 2nd).
The run game was once again relatively ineffective. That is, when the Patriots bothered to use it at all. They totaled just 87 yards on the ground for the game. Thankfully the Patriots defense stepped up big time. They held the Chargers to just 53 total rushing yards.
Akeem Ayers picked off Chargers QB Phillip Rivers. The "D" also sacked Rivers 4 times. Jamie Collins picked up 2 of those sacks while Rob Ninkovich (see below) had one.
The Patriots play the Dolphins today and with a win can wrap up the AFC East division. Despite their struggles with the Chargers, I think the win demonstrated that they can play a tough, tight game and come out on top when everyone is working together.
In other NFL news, Greg Bedard had a piece on TheMMQB.com about the New Orleans Saints and their lack of leadership and professionalism. You can check out the piece via this link.
For anyone worried about the career prospects for now ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp, I think you can hold off on the charity telethon for a bit. According to an article on SI.com, he's been hired as the new defensive coordinator at Auburn. He's the fourth guy to hold the job in the last five years.
Army-Navy Game - Despite a rather game effort from Army, the Navy came out on top in the Army-Navy game for the 13th straight year. Led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds (see below far right) the Midshipmen won 17-10. He had 1 passing TD and ran for another score with his 100 yards rushing.
Congratulations to the Midshipmen!
Bowl Games - The full list of this year's bowl matchups can be viewed HERE.
While I will be interested in the semi-final bowl games that lead to the matchup, particularly the Alabama-Ohio State game, there really isn't a whole heck of a lot of games that scream out for me to watch them. Sure, I'll probably watch a game here and there as I happen to come across them. But besides the title playoff games, the only game that instantly draws me in is the Boston College-Penn State matchup in the Pinstripe Bowl on December 27th (ESPN, 4:30 pm).
There are some games featuring teams that have a storyline that might interest some people though.
In the Las Vegas Bowl, will Colorado State rebound after being jilted by coach Jim McElwain for the Florida job?
The Independence Bowl has Miami and South Carolina. Both teams are a disappointing 6-6 going into the game and will be looking for any little kind of bright light to point to for this season, particularly South Carolina who started off the season with some very high hopes.
The Holiday Bowl features Nebraska, and you have to wonder how they'll play after firing Bo Pelini.
The Outback Bowl has Wisconsin which is a topic I'll address below.
Wisconsin - The coaching situation at Wisconsin took a weird turn this week. After just two years in charge, Gary Andersen stepped down as head coach in order to take the job at Oregon State. That's like going from the penthouse to the outhouse in terms of support and facilities. The move surprised everyone.
Rumors of Andersen's disatisfaction with pay packages for his assistants and unhappiness with the admissions policies in place at Wisconsin have popped up but there's been nothing confirmed.
The Badgers still have the Outback Bowl to play, so I think it is another example of a coach not finishing the job before leaving for the next one. As always that irks the hell out of me.
Stranger still is that Wisconsin AD (and former football coach) Barry Alvarez is going to coach the team during the bowl game. this is the second time in 3 years he's done this. The looming shadow of Alvarez was another rumor that popped up this week as well. My question about this move is why does Alvarez need to coach the team. You mean to tell me one of the coordinators, coaches who've actually been with the team all season long can't step up to coach the team on the 1 game interim basis? Alvarez was quoted saying that the seniors on the team asked him to coach the game. If that's true, is it an indictment of how the players feel about the leftover coaches or are they really that fond of Alvarez?
Meanwhile, on Friday came reports that the school will hire Pitt coach Paul Chryst (shown below) as their new coach sometime after December 17th. You can read more details about that HERE. He was the Badgers offensive coordinator from 2005-2011 so he does have good ties to the school. It would also seem that he understands how things work there too.
Whatever happens, after losing to coaches in the space of three years, the Badgers had better hope they get this hire right. Otherwise, people are really going to start asking questions if coaches keep leaving what is considered a high profile job for new posts that are clearly a step down.
A lot of the teams I root for played during the course of the week and don't have another game scheduled until later this afternoon. You can read what I had to say about those games that were played in my latest Mid Week College Basketball Update. Five of the six teams I've been writing about so far this season will play their next game this afternoon.
Boston College Men - The Eagles played Maine on Thursday night and ended up coming away with an 85-74 victory to improve to 5-3 on the season. Aaron Brown (shown below) led the team in scoring with 21 points.
The surprising contributions from Dennis Clifford (pic below) were a huge factor in powering Boston College to the win. While he's been working hard, his offense has been a work in progress. But against Maine, his struggles seemed to clear up as he poured in a career high 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. He also blocked 3 shots. If he can become a consistent offensive threat, it gives BC yet another scoring option and they become that much more dangerous.
Patrick Heckmann (shown below 1st) scored 13 points and had 4 steals, while Dimitri Batten finished with 12 points. Olivier Hanlan (shown below 2nd) had 10 points and 6 assists.
Looking at the box score, another component of the win was the Eagles outscoring Maine 30-8 in the points off turnovers category.
(all pics from BC game photo galleries)
Here's the video highlights:
You can read my latest Celtics Report blog post HERE.
For my take on the moves the Red Sox made to shore up their pitching rotation, you can checkout my blog post HERE.
When Bret Lawrie was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays, the reaction of one of his young fans set Youtube ablaze. It appears there was a somewhat happy ending to the story though. Read it HERE.
Former Chicago White Sox outfielder Mark Gilbert became the first ex-player to be named an ambassador for the United State. You can learn more about him HERE.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Check out this story on the Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Month for December, New Hampshire soccer player Kate Marshall.
Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - B-P ended up losing to Diman Voke by 10 points (48-38) in their season opener. I was told they were ahead for much of the first half but had poor shooting and picked up lots of fouls.
Wareham Girls Varsity - I went to the third and final scrimmage for Wareham this past Wednesday. They were up against Upper Cape and while Wareham didn't look particularly good, they were a lot better than Upper Cape. They played four quarters and Wareham won two of them while tying the other two. When I first got to the gym, I dropped off some Boston College women's basketball tickets I picked up for one of my ex-players to her father. I also gave the father of another player the letter of recommendation his daughter asked me to write for her National Honor Society application thing.
In the scrimmage, Gabby drained a couple more three pointers. There's six girls on the varsity that I coached in the past. Gabby, Erica, Kali, Tieyanna, Brianna and Kiara.
The Vikings went on the road to play Bishop Stang in their season opener but fell flat, losing 56-29. Tieyanna led the Vikings with 12 points. But the team's poor shooting and 27 turnovers were key factors cited in their big loss. The starting five for Wareham featured 4 players that I had a hand in coaching at some point during their youth league days. Gabby had 3 points in the game, while Brianna had 2 points and Kali added 6.
By the way, here's a team candid photo I totally stole from Gabby's FB page.
Upper Cape Girls JV - It was a rough and tumble kind of game against South Shore Voke Tech. The game was full of uncalled physical play that should've resulted in lots of fouls (on both sides). But Upper Cape came away with a 27-8 victory to start their season off right. I've got two players on the team. Laurina started and served as captain. She was the point guard when she was in the game. She was 1-2 from the floor for 2 points. She forced a jump ball call, had an assist, an offensive rebound and a steal to go with 2 turnovers. Ann Marie started as well. She was 2-7 from the floor for 4 points. She missed two foul shots as well. She had an assist, 4 steals and a defensive rebound. She also committed 4 turnovers and a foul.
Upper Cape Girls Varsity - After watching Upper Cape scrimmage on Wednesday and look absolutely awful against Wareham, I had no idea what to expect. But since South Shore Voke Tech is not a good team, I guess the final score of 68-12 in favor of Upper Cape shouldn't have been much of a surprise. The game was a blowout from the start as the Rams were up 19-3 after the first quarter and just kept rolling.
It's actually hard to decipher how the team looked on a technical basis given they were playing a team so clearly inferior. But all the defensive lapses they had in the Wareham scrimmage were held to a minimum and the team worked together in passing the ball and getting it to the open player.
Michaela had an off game to start her season. She was 1-12 from the floor for 2 points. She had 4 steals and 2 rebounds to go with a turnover and a foul.
EX-PLAYER LEGAL NEWS
While all my ex-players still in high school are making a good showing for themselves by staying involved in athletics and not being arrested, there's news on a couple of my former players who have been IN court instead of ON one.
One of the four ex-players charged in connection with a murder here in town saw his charges reduced and got out on personal recognizance. I'm sure one can guess that he's making a deal and that's why he's suddenly out of prison. You can read more HERE.
Another of my ex-players, Eric, got arrested in connection with a robbery of a local restaurant. This is a new charge for him but he's no stranger to run-ins with the law. That story is HERE.
As always, I'm left shaking my head at the inherent stupidity these former players of mine continue to show in their decision making.
It's been 15 years since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush" was broadcast. TVGuide.com ran an oral history article on the episode this week. You can check it out HERE.
Movies - I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD this week. I loved the movie in the theater and watching it again was a thrill ride. It will be featured on my Best of 2014 movie list that I will be writing up soon.
In the meantime, you can check out the Honest Trailer for the movie below, it is rather funny.
Grantland.com had an oral history article on the making of the film Boogie Nights. It is an entertaining and extremely long piece. You can check it out HERE.
Books - I finished reading the Janet Evanovich / Lee Goldberg novel The Chase this week. It's the second book in the Kate O'Hare / Nick Fox series that teams up an FBI agent with thief to take down other bad guys. While the premise is clearly something akin to the TV show White Collar, this has a bit more of an international thriller vibe (although retaining the more lighthearted feel of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series).
I really enjoyed the book a lot this time around and can't wait for the third book The Job to make its way to paperback.
Comics - Free Comic Book Day is almost six months away, but the Gold Sponsor level books that will be available on the first Saturday in May 2015 have been announced. You can see the list HERE.
Music - The new U.D.O. album Decadent is due out in the US on February 3rd. The official video for the song has been released and you can see it below.
The new group Revolution Saints features Night Ranger bassist Jack Blades, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and Journey drummer Deen Castronovo. Their self-titled debut album is due out February 24th. But you can see the video for the song "Turn Back Time" below.
My 2015 Calendar - I know it is a bit old fashioned given how most people use the calendar feature on their phones nowadays, but I always use REAL calendars. Usually I grab one up from the local pizza place, or from Dunkin Donuts. Or I take one of the few that we get from my job. But this year, I picked up one for the TV show Firefly so I'll "Keep Flyin'" with them all year long.
While kind of irritated about some things I found out this week...
Follow me on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay
In last week's column, I included a link to a story detailing the struggles of former Buffalo Bills player Darryl Talley. The story prompted a surge of support for Talley with money being raised to help him out. It culminated during the Bills' player introductions last Sunday as former star QB Jim Kelley showed his support by wearing Talley's jersey. You can read a brief article about it HERE.
Former Minnesota Vikings QB legend Fran Tarkenton had some interesting things to say about Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, PEDS and Robert Griffin III in this interview with Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com
New England Patriots - The Patriots squared off against the Packers last Sunday night and despite an overall entertaining football game, came away with a 26-21 loss. there was a lot of talk about how this could be a preview of the Super Bowl. I really hope it isn't, at least in terms of how the Patriots played. I know it is only a five point loss so it isn't like the Patriots weren't in the game. But there were a lot of issues with the Patriots as the game progressed.
The running game was abandoned early by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and finished with just 84 yards on the ground total. This despite the fact that LeGarrette Blount ran for over 5 yards a carry when he got the ball. Brandon Bolden (shown below) added a nice 6 yard TD run though.
The Packers had their way with the Patriots defense for a majority of the game. It may not led to as many points as they wanted because the Patriots stiffened up as the Packers approached the red zone (particularly during the first half), but Green Bay rolled up 347 yards in total offense in the first half. They finished with 478 total yards to New England's 320. Aaron Rodgers threw for 282 yards in the first half (368 for the game). He also passed for two touchdowns.
The Patriots did rack up 3 sacks but otherwise seemed to have trouble generating a pass rush. Late in the first half, Aaron Rodgers actually had 12 seconds of perfect protection before having to throw the ball away. And the Patriots could not get off the field on third down with the Packers converting a ridiculous 10 of 17 3rd down opportunities.
It wasn't all bad news for the Patriots though, setting aside the loss I mean. Tom Brady threw for 245 yards and hit Brandon LaFell (see below) for 2 TDs. Julian Edelman caught 7 passes and Rob Gronkowski tallied 98 yards on his 7 catches.
Speaking of LaFell, anyone else notice that he's been developing into a vital cog in the Patriots offense? At the start of the season, he kicked things off much like Chad Johnson did during his year with the Patriots. He struggled, didn't seem in sync with Brady and was likely still trying to fully grasp the playbook. But unlike Johnson, LaFell turned the corner and has become a reliable threat for Brady and the team to use in the passing game.
You gotta love when hard work and effort start paying off!
As the season heads into conference title games and the countdown to finding out which bowls will get which teams, the silly season of coaching hirings and firings got into full swing with Nebraska, Florida and Michigan making the biggest news.
In Nebraska, they fired Bo Pelini after 7 years of at least 9 wins a season. Despite that success, the blowout losses and inability to contend much less win titles was enough to force the surly and prickly Pelini out of Lincoln. Barney Cotton will be the interim coach for the team's bowl game but the school wasted little time in hiring Pelini's replacement. Despite managing just a 5-7 record this year at Oregon State, Mike Riley is still considered a hot enough property that Nebraska lured him away from the Beavers. He has taken over immediately.
This last thing raises the spectre of a subject I have harped on before. And that is the notion of coaches finishing a job. I hate when coaches leave before a job is finished. For me that includes a bowl game appearance. Since the Beavers are ineligible this year, I have no truck with Riley. But I kind of dislike that Pelini wasn't allowed to coach HIS team for the bowl game. You could fire the guy after the bowl game, it isn't like his dismissal would've been much of a surprise.
Brady Hoke's firing at Michigan was pretty much a foregone conclusion as well. With the Wolverines not even close to a bowl game, they essentially just ran out the string on Hoke's four year tenure, fired him and then released a BS statement filled with as much malarkey as they could to make you wonder why they were firing him in the first place. The losing culture that was taking hold and failure to develop offensive players was a big reason why Big Blue is looking for a new coach. And the new AD has already stated that the school will not be using "A Michigan Man" as a measuring stick for candidates this time around.
Florida hired Colorado State coach Jim McElwain to be their new coach. It could very well be a great hire as McElwain is from the Nick Saban coaching tree and likes to use the Saban blueprint "The Process" to build his programs as well. Something tells me the SEC is going to be VERY interesting next season.
But what bugs me here is that not only did McElwain leave Colorado State in the lurch (a very Saban-like move, remember the Dolphins?) but he and Florida acted like CSU should just roll over and play dead for his desire to leave. In his contract, there was a 7.5 million dollar buyout clause. And instead of abiding to the terms of the contract, The McElwain-Florida Syndicate acted like they were trying to shake down CSU to pay less for him to get out of his deal.
For a while, Colorado State held firm to the terms of the clause but in the end they gave in a little. The buyout was whittled down to 5 million dollars. Florida will pay 3 million of that cost while McElwain will pay the remainder. And McElwain did himself no favors in the eyes of his Rams players while all this was going on. Their focus should've been on preparing for the bowl game they'll be playing and instead they had to watch the coach who preached at them about accountability whore himself out for a better offer. As if Florida couldn't have waited a month for a new coach, they've been waiting for a good one since Urban Meyer left.
Despite all that coaching news, the worst story to come out of college football this past week was that the University of Alabama-Birmingham shut down their football program in full. The team had their best season in years (6-6) and were bowl eligible. While they were likely going to be left out of a bowl game because there aren't enough slots for the qualified teams and they lose out in those unnavigable tiebreakers, even if they had been invited, the school wasn't going to send them.
I fully grasp the financial aspects of a losing football team being a drain on a school's coffers, so I understand the decision to shutter the program. But the way the decision was arrived at and then announced was a demonstration of how utterly gutless school officials and athletic administrators truly are. They left those players hung out to dry and despite public protestations to the opposite, did it in such a callous and unfeeling way that you have to wonder why any player would believe them ever again.
Alabama - The Crimson Tide simply rolled over Missouri during yesterday's SEC championship game, coming out with a 42-13 victory. The win pretty much guarantees Bama a spot in the college football playoff.
The Tigers got dominated in most every statistical category (save passing yards). Alabama outgained them 504-313, including a 242-41 edge in rushing yards.
Blake Sims (shown below) was 23-27 for 262 yards with two TD passes while setting the single season passing yardage record, passing A.J. McCarron.
Christion Jones caught one of those TD passes while DeAndrew White had 4 catches for 101 yards (including a 58 yard TD catch, shown below). Amari Cooper caught 12 passes on the game as well.
Derrick Henry (shown below) ran for a career high 141 yards and 2 scores. T.J. Yeldon added two TD runs of his own.
At 12-1, the SEC Champion Alabama Crimson Tide are sure to keep their #1 ranking in the playoff system when the new rankings come out.
There was some sad news this week as it seems the condition of Mount Saint Joseph's Lauren Hill has started to worsen. She signed up for hospice care this week. You can read this article for more details.
In good news, the tickets I ordered for the Boston College women's basketball games arrived in the mail yesterday. WHOO HOO!
For some recaps, photos and video of games played earlier this week, check out my Mid-Week College Basketball Round Up blog post.
Catholic University - While the Cardinals improved to 4-3 with their 75-69 victory over Moravian, Amber didn't see any court time in the game.
Missouri State - After starting the season 0-6, Missouri State picked up their first win of the season in their home opener. They knocked off SIU-Edwardsville 75-69. Lexi Hughes (pictured below) scored a career high 22 points to lead the team and Hillary Chvatal added 15 points and 10 boards. Kenzie Williams had 14 points, Aubrey Buckley hit for 11 points and NiJay Gaines finished with 10 points.
Boston College Men - The Eagles hosted the Providence College Friars on Friday night. My buddy Brian, the rabid PC alum and Friars season ticket holder, went to the game and probably went home very disappointed as the Eagles got a surprising 69-60 win. I had talked to Brian in the morning before the game and he was pretty confident that the Friars could win the game. I did tell him that the Eagles had three really good scorers on the team this year. We both agreed that it would be a close game though.
The game was tied at 34 at halftime. In the second half, the Eagles were tied at 40 when they went on a 7-0 run to take a 47-40 lead and never trailed again as they improved to 4-3. The Eagles outrebounded Providence 41-28.
Olivier Hanlan (shown below 1st) had a huge game with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals (he also led the team with 5 turnovers). Aaron Brown (shown 2nd) added 16 points and 7 boards while Dimitri Batten scored 11 points.
(Photos from BC Game Photo Gallery)
You can see highlights of the game below.
Does a second straight week of going 1-1 in my fantasy leagues count as an improvement?
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Wareham Girls Varsity - I had time off from work on Friday afternoon and ended up attending the Wareham girls scrimmage vs. West Bridgewater. After looking over the schedule of games I want to attend this year, I saw that West Bridgewater would be a team I'd see three times during the season, so getting an early look at them was a good idea. And with the Wareham varsity team appearing to have 6 former players of mine on the roster, it was also a good idea to check them out.
Unfortunately, as you might expect for a first scrimmage, the quality of play from both teams was incredibly ragged. While there was some good sequences over the course of the scrimmage, for the most part it was some ugly basketball that exposed early season team building flaws on both sides.
For West Bridgewater, they are rebuilding after losing four seniors. The majority of their height is gone as well. For Wareham, they lost four seniors who accounted for the majority of their scoring. From what I saw, they only have two true ball handlers on the team and they had trouble finding Wareham's center during the game. Pass after pass got picked off or deflected.
One bright spot for me personally was seeing my ex-player Gabby knock down 4 out of 6 three pointers in the game. She's probably not going to start out the season as a starter on varsity but she did make the team and will see plenty of time.
Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - I was informed earlier in the week by her mom that Savahna had made varsity. That part wasn't really a surprise given that she's a senior, but I was happily surprised to learn that Savahna was also picked as a tri-captain for the season. It is nice to see her dedication to playing getting some recognition. The team has a new coach this year so I'll be looking forward to seeing what the coaching change might bring about for the team's success and any potential individual success for Savahna.
Remember the buzz around Little League pitcher Mo'ne Davis this summer? She took her team to the Little League World Series and set the world on fire with her performance throughout the qualifying rounds and during her time in Williamsport. For her efforts, she's been named SIKids.com's Sports Kid of the Year. You can read more HERE.
As for youth sports news related to me, I ran into the new president of the youth basketball league here in town. It wasn't the guy they announced would be president. Instead it is Big Mack, the Alabama football fan I've written about briefly in the past (he gets great Alabama BBQ for Bama title game viewing parties). I joked with him, asking did he lose a bet and had to become president. He took the ribbing good naturedly and said that he wanted to get me back in the league. He added he wanted to get me back to running the website, coaching two teams, etc.
I laughed and said (for the umpteenth time, to the umpteenth person) that I was retired and not coming back. Undeterred Mack added he wanted to get me back for the 2015-2016 season (while also mentioning the petty infighting he has to deal with) and that I love coaching the kids.
While that may be true, as I wrote on my Facebook page, I just can't stomach the notion of re-entering the rat race particularly given that people I loathe are still involved with the league. I did my 25 years, and just don't have a desire to go back. It is too bad because I like Mack but I'm simply done. One person who responded on the page said that it was nice to be wanted and that it was too bad I didn't want to go back because I was a good coach and role model.
The columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and panelist on The Sports Reporters passed away this week after a short battle with cancer. I came across his writing via the columns he wrote for the USA Today. I also saw him numerous times on The Sports Reporters. I liked his work, though I really haven't kept up with him once he joined the Post-Dispatch and stopped writing for the USA Today. He had both a literary voice in his work and an ear catching speaking voice he employed so well as a panelist.
You can read more about his passing and see a tribute video from a couple of his colleagues HERE.
Pardon The Interruption host Michael Wilbon had a nice post on his Facebook page about Burwell's passing. Burwell's co-worker at the Post-Dispatch, Bernie Miklasz, penned a heartfelt column as well.
TV - This past week saw a two part crossover event between the shows The Flash and Arrow. Pop-topia.com recapped both episodes: The Flash V. Arrow and The Brave and the Bold. The midseason finale of The Flash is this coming Tuesday and the writer responsible for the episode recaps offers up some theories on the identity of the Reverse Flash, a character that will loom large in this week's episode.
Comics - As a huge fan of the Firefly / Serenity universe, I was very happy to see that the graphic novel collection of the recent comic book series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind had hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. You can read about that HERE.
Music - As the year winds down, the Best of Lists for every conceivable topic will be coming out. I've got two best of music lists that will be out soon. My choices for rock and metal CDs of the year will be for KNAC.com where I am a contributor. The other list includes music genres amongst the rock and metal. That is for the Classic Rock Bottom message board where I'm one of the voting members for our year end awards as well. Those will all be out sometime in mid-December.
In the meantime, I've got a couple of CD reviews for you to check out. They were the last two remaining albums I had for the 2014 calendar year. You can check out what I had to say about Tesla's Simplicity album via this KNAC.com link. As for what I thought about the Joe Bonamassa CD Different Shades of Blue, here's the link to my Pop-topia.com review.
Some rare footage of the band Night Ranger was posted on Youtube this past week. It is from 1981 when they were still called Ranger. It's a nearly 25 minute concert performance. You can see it below.
Despite a lengthy blog entry yesterday, there is still a bunch of news and recaps for the various Boston area sports teams that I follow to talk about.
This would be due to the fact that a lot of the teams were in action yesterday.
So let's get started...
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The pro soccer team beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals. I have no idea what that means but I'm guessing that is a good thing.
I really haven't been following the Bruins too closely thus far. I know they are dealing with a ton of injuries. But you can check out this ESPNBoston.com report for the latest news on the team.
BOSTON RED SOX
After their 71-91 season, the Red Sox seem to be determined not to flounder their way through another season next year. While they still haven't gotten their heads out of their butts about signing a legitimate #1 starter (JON LESTER!), news reports today have the Sox signing Hanley Ramirez to a five year $90 million dollar deal. If he could ever get healthy, his bat could be a help in the lineup. But he won't be the shortstop with Xander Bogaerts pretty well established in the position.
The other news that broke today has Boston also picking up Pablo Sandoval for 5 years and nearly $100 million dollars. Given that Will Middlebrooks is not the answer at third base, Sandoval is of course going to take over at the hot corner.
The Celtics dropped to 4-8 on the season after their 94-88 loss to the Portland Trailblazers. They led after the first quarter, but were behind in the fourth. They rallied to cut the deficit to 92-88 but failed to hit any shots in the last minute of the game and went down in a stinging defeat.
Jared Sullinger (photo below) had 19 points to lead the Celtics. He added 7 rebounds and 4 assists as well.
(Photo from Celtics Twitter Feed)
Jeff Green also scored 19 points while Rajon Rondo (both players pictured below) had 13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
(Photos from the Boston Globe game photo gallery)
The big question I have about the team besides how do they straighten things out and start winning some of these tight games they seem to find themselves in, is what the heck is going on with Kelly Olynyk? He played 27 minutes last night and had 8 rebounds but failed to score in the game. He only took 3 or 4 shots the entire time he was out of the court to begin with.
I think frustration is really starting to set in with the team and something is going to come to a boiling point if the losing continues unabated.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
As the Detroit Lions headed into Foxboro, they were the #1 ranked defense in the NFL and I was rather worried that the billing of their defense would shut down the Patriot offense. Oh me of little faith apparently.
The Patriots put a whipping on the Lions to the tune of 34-9. The win improves their record to 9-2 on the season.
The defense gave up field position to the Lions in the early part of the game, but limited the damage to just field goals. They sacked Matthew Stafford twice and picked him off once. And once the offense for the Patriots took over, it wasn't long before the Lions were playing a very demoralized brand of football.
Tom Brady (pictured below) threw for 349 yards with 2 TDs (to tight end Tim Wright) and got picked off once.
Besides Wright's (#81 pictured below) 2 TD catches, the Patriots pass receivers were in fine form, led by 11 catches for 89 yards by Julian Edelman. Brandon LaFell caught 9 passes for a team leading 98 yards.
With last week's game hero Jonas Gray benched for being late to practice on Friday, newly signed (for a second tour of duty) running back LeGarrette Blount (pictured below) was called on to lead the way in the ground attack. He had 78 yards on the day and scored twice. I'm still not happy about how he quit on the Steelers, but it is hard to be unhappy with a couple of extra TDs.
(All Photos from the Patriots.com Game Photo Gallery)
BOSTON COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Men - The Eagles finished off their slate of games at the Puerto Rico Tip-off with a matchup against Dayton. Unfortunately, the Eagles never really seemed to get things going to really be a threat to win the game. Eddie Odio led BC with 11 points as the Eagles lost 65-53 to the Flyers. Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) was the only other Eagle in double figures with 10 points. Dennis Clifford had 6 points and a team high 9 rebounds as BC dropped to 2-3 on the season.
(Photo from Yahoo Sports game article)
Women - The women's team hosted Bryant University yesterday afternoon at Conte Forum. They improved to 3-1 on the season after a 90-79 victory. You can see some game highlights in the video below.
Kelly Hughes (pic below) was the team leader on offense with 23 points, including 5-8 from three point range. She added 9 rebounds and 5 assists as well.
Freshman Katie Quandt (pic below) fouled out of the game but finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Nicole Boudreau added 13 points and 6 boards while Karima Gabriel (pic below) filled the stat line with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
Gabriel has really been looking good on the court this year, which is a marked improvement from last season when after viewing her performances in person, I was very unimpressed. But if they can get this kind of production on a consistent basis from her, perhaps the team's fortunes will take a turn for the better once the ACC conference schedule gets started.
(All photos from the BC Facebook photo gallery)
You can see the post game press conference with coach Erik Johnson below.
Also, a special birthday shout out to the best player I ever coached. It was Allison's birthday yesterday.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Heading into last Sunday's game against the Colts, the Patriots were expected to be faced with a stiff test from the up and coming Indy team and their star QB Andrew Luck. At least that's what a lot of the talking heads were saying.
When it came time for the actual game to be played, the Patriots and their high scoring offense rolled to a 42-20 victory and showed that the Colts are not quite ready for primetime just yet. But it wasn't just the offense that made a big statement.
The defense had a solid day as well. In fact, the Patriots defense against the run was outstanding. It has been much maligned both this season and last when Jerod Mayo got injured and suddenly the Patriots couldn't stop a Pop Warner rush. When Mayo went out this year, the Patriots started out in the same ineffective style. But they've gotten better against the run and against Indy, they were outstanding.
Sure, the Colts aren't a huge run game team but when you hold a team to just 19 yards of rushing for an entire game, you can hold your head high. I know in a blowout the passing game becomes paramount but the Patriots stopped anyone that dared have the temerity to run against them. Hell, it was QB Andrew Luck with 15 total yards that was the rushing leader for the Colts when all was said and done.
Tom Brady had an unusual game. He passed for 257 yards and 2 TDs (one each to Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright), but the talk after the game was the two interceptions he threw. While one was a routine pick off, the one he threw before the end of the first half that allowed the Colts to score and make it 14-10 going into halftime was an embarrassing throw that someone of Brady's caliber should have known better. It was going to be picked off from the second the ball left his hand. It was like some 3rd string lucky to be on the roster QB had thrown the pass.
And while all that is good, the real star of the game was running back Jonas Gray. He had one hell of a game and a week that he won't soon forget. For the game, the street free agent signing who had been cut by two other teams ran for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. As a whole, the Patriots ran for 244 yards in the game. His rushing total was changed a couple days after the game when the Elias Sports Bureau discovered an error and he was then credited with 201 rushing yards.
Gray was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and found himself featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Of course, this being the Patriots, the team wasn't all that impressed with his accomplishments once the game was over. First came the news that the team had signed running back LeGarrette Blount after he was cut from Pittsburgh for being an immature pinhead crybaby. And when Gray overslept and showed up late to practice on Friday, the team sent him home.
The highs and lows of being Jonas Gray, all in one week.
The Patriots are now 8-2 and face the Detroit Lions today. It should prove to be a very interesting game as the Lions defense is both formidable and phenomenal.
The biggest off the field news this past week was the announcement that Florida fired head coach Will Muschamp. When you see how far Florida has fallen from their national title glory days, the firing is not really that much of a surprise. I will say that I was surprised that the school is "letting" Muschamp finish out the season. Usually in this type of situation, the school usually just cans the guy and names an interim coach. But I'm in favor of him finishing what he started, for good or for bad.
You can read more about the story HERE. SI.com's Andy Staples had this article on Muschamp's graceful exit.
Mass Maritime - My ex-player E.J. was named to the All-MASCAC 2nd team for the third season in a row. One of the local papers had another article on another of my ex-player's and his battle with cancer. You can read about Cody and his family HERE.
Alabama - The Crimson Tide had what amounts to an "off week" for them as they crushed Western Carolina 48-14. Blake Sims did get picked off once but he threw for two touchdowns. Backup QB Jake Coker also threw a TD.
Derrick Henry (pictured below) ran for 92 yards and 2 TDs (while losing a fumble). He also caught a 9 yard passing TD. Tyren Jones added another ground game TD.
In total, Alabama outgained the Catamounts 612-213. Their defense held Western Carolina to MINUS 8 yards rushing.
Alabama stands at 10-1 after this victory. They were #1 in the playoff rankings this week but given the relative low level of competition from their opponent, I don't know if they'll maintain that standing when the new rankings come out.
Receiver Amari Cooper left the game early after getting dinged up but reports have him saying that he'll be ready for next week's Iron Bowl game vs. Auburn.
Boston College - The Eagles were on the road this week with a national TV spotlight game against the #1 team in the country (in both football rankings and criminal activity), Florida State.
As for the game, I was so nervous that I found it hard to watch the game. And as it turned out I missed an excellent but ultimately disappointing matchup as Boston College gave Florida State all it could handle before losing 20-17. The game went down to the last three seconds and was decided by a field goal.
Tyler Murphy completed 6 of 10 passes for 73 yards, 49 of which came on a TD pass to Shakim Phillip (see below 1st). Murphy also ran for a TD. He got sacked once (see below 2nd).
The BC pass defense gave up 281 passing yards to Jameis Winston, but they sacked him once and picked him off as well. They also managed to hold the Seminoles to just 109 rushing yards, while the offense racked up 240 rushing yards of their own.
You can see highlights of the game below.
At the end of the game, the announcer started talking about how BC fans might have to get used to the idea that coach Steve Addazio might not be long for The Heights. He used to coach at Florida and with the Gators job open and Addazio doing good things with the Eagles, he's bound to be a serious candidate for the position.
I have really enjoyed what Addazio (pictured below) has done with the Eagles thus far and I'd really hate for him to leave with the job unfinished. I fully realize that coaching Florida is a far bigger job in terms of prestige and opportunity to compete for a national title, but as a BC fan, I want to see him stay right where he is.
Boston College is 6-5 on the season.
I wrote about some of the games played earlier in the week in a separate blog post that you can check out HERE.
The Boston Globe had a feature article on the new Boston University head coach Katy Steding. You can read that story via this link.
Bruce Pearl is back in coaching as the new head coach of Auburn University. He's becoming fully immersed in everything Auburn and recently took part in a basketball trick shot video. You can read the article here and see the full video below.
Meanwhile, Lauren Hill made more news this week for Mount Saint Joseph University. Despite her health continuing to decline, she went to her team's road game vs. Bethany College. She was in uniform and despite battling dizziness, got into the game for the second half and scored. You can read about Hill's 2nd college game HERE.
The video of her basket is below.
And here are some pics from the game.
Taking the shot:
Pregame Warm Up Shirts worn by the Bethany College team:
Boston College Men - The men's team was in Puerto Rico this week playing in the Puerto Rico Tip Off tournament. They opened up their three game set in the tournament against New Mexico. Despite it being a tough matchup, the Eagles pulled out a 69-65 victory behind 20 points and 6 assists from Olivier Hanlan. Aaron Brown scored 16 points in the game but also led the team with 5 turnovers. Patrick Heckmann added 11 points and Dennis Clifford (pictured below) finished with 6 points and a team high 8 rebounds.
(PHOTO FROM THE BOSTON HERALD)
The team's second game was against West Virginia and the Eagles held a 32-21 lead at halftime. But in the second half, the Mountaineers offense took over and built a lead. The Eagles rallied but fell short in the end and lost 70-66. West Virginia took control of the game with a 33-16 run over the course of an 11 minute span.
Olivier Hanlan led the Eagles with 23 points and 4 steals (He had 5 turnovers to lead the team as well). Patrick Heckmann (pictured below) scored 14 points and grabbed a team leading 7 rebounds. Aaron Brown added 10 points.
(PHOTO BY ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Boston College saw their 21 turnovers turned into 20 points by West Virginia. The Eagles are now 2-2 and will play Dayton later this afternoon.
Hartford Hawks - Hartford's successful start to their season continued wtih a tough 57-54 victory over Providence College. Their record is now 3-0. Amber Bepko (pictured below) finished with 23 points (her second straight 20 plus point game) to power the Hawks offense. Cherelle Moore scored 12 points and had a team high 9 rebounds. Deanna Mayza scored 7 points and dished out a career high 9 assists. One of those assists fed Bepko's three pointer that broke a 52-52 tie.
(PHOTO FROM GAME RECAP ARTICLE)
You can see highlights from the game and coach Jennifer Rizzotti's post game press conference (as well as comments from Amber Bepko) below.
Missouri State - The Bears ran into a buzzsaw in the form of #19 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. While being held to just 27.3% shooting and 18 turnovers (which OSU turned into 21 points), Missouri State ended up losing 77-36. The team falls to 0-3 on the season.
Liza Fruendt scored 11 points to lead the Bears while Hillary Chvatal (pictured below) had a team high 11 boards.
Tennessee LADY VOLS - On Friday night, Tennessee faced off against Winthrop and came away with a resounding 81-48 victory. The team is now 3-0 on the season and all three wins have been blowouts. Of course, these early season games against decidedly weaker opponents won't mean nearly as much when the Lady Vols start playing their more difficult part of the schedule.
But I like what I'm seeing from the players thus far as the entire roster seems to be making contributions in every aspect of the game. Ariel Massengale (pictured below) led the team with 20 points. She was 6-10 from three point range, including hitting her first five attempts.
Bashaara Graves (pictured below) had her third straight double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Nia Moore scored 14 points and Jaime Nared added 10.
But looking deeper at the box score will reveal some excellent guard play from both Jordan Reynolds and Andraya Carter (pictured below). Reynolds scored 6 points but grabbed 8 boards and dished out 7 assists. Carter had 9 points for the game while wrapping up 6 steals and 5 rebounds.
Cierra Burdick (pictured below) saw her first game action of the season and while she didn't score in the game she did corral 10 rebounds and tally 4 assists.
(ALL PHOTOS FROM TENNESSEE GAME PHOTO GALLERY)
If the team can get that kind of top to bottom production from their roster when they start playing their ranked opponents, things could be VERY interesting all season long.
You can check out what coach Holly Warlick had to say about the game below.
Boston College Women - The BC women opened up their home slate of games on Thursday night by hosting the Boston University Terriers. Before the game, the team's Twitter page had photos of the team poster and the first game program.
As for the game, the Eagles rolled to 2-1 with a 73-56 victory over the Terriers. Kelly Hughes (pictured below) had her first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She added 6 assists and 4 steals to her stat line as well.
Karima Gabriel finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks while Kat Cooper (pictured below) had 10 points.
Boston College also got some help in their offense from the outside. Emilee Daley (pictured 1st) and Nicole Boudreau (pictured 2nd) hit three 3 pointers in the game to finish with 9 points apiece.
(ALL PHOTOS TAKEN FROM EITHER GAME RECAP ARTICLE CREDITED TO JOHN QUACKENBOS OR THE BC WBB FACEBOOK PAGE PHOTO GALLERY)
You can get coach Erik Johnson's take on the game below.
You can check out what I had to say about my Boston Celtics this week in my latest Celtics Report.
Meanwhile, for sports fans who hate when teams tank, SI.com's Phil Taylor tells the tale of this year's Philadelphia 76ers. Not only is the team losing on purpose, they are doing it blatantly. There is no doubt that the powers that be in the organization would be happy if the team went 0-82 so they could get yet another top draft pick.
It has gotten so bad that the pizza chain Papa John's recently had to change the terms of an incentive deal for fans. It was supposed to be a deal for fans when the Sixers won a game. But after an 0-11 start gave rise to thoughts the team might not win a game, now the deal is for when the team scores 90 points in a game (win or lose). You can check out this pathetic story HERE.
We've all read the stories about how athletes end up going through all the money they made during the course of a career. Whether it is because they buy everything in sight, support an extended network of lazy ass friends and relatives or make a series of bad investments, there's a seemingly endless list of athletes who made millions upon millions of dollars that end up broke.
Mostly, you think that they are idiots. But sometimes you may just feel sorry for them. In the case of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, even my cold unsympathetic heart was stirred as I read the story of how he filed for bankruptcy on October 7th. And he's still in the course of his career. And why is he broke? Because he trusted people close to him that should've been the most trustworthy of people to let run your "financial empire". Instead, Johnson's PARENTS have managed to get him in debt from anywhere between 10 and 15 million dollars.
You can read this tale of why you should never trust anyone you are related to with your money HERE.
If you've been following the scandals surrounding USA Swimming and the multiple claims of rampant sexual abuse, this story from Outside Magazine will likely just be more confirmation of the horrors that have been essentially allowed to go unchecked for years. If you haven't followed the story, it will make you recoil in horror.
I know that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record but once again, I managed to go 0-2 in fantasy football last week. Of course, I was in a good position to win in one of the leagues. Or so I thought. I was behind by a few points heading into Monday's game but figured I would be able to pull ahead because my opponent only had 1 guy and I didn't think he would score more points than my two players.
And then Le'Veon Bell rang up 48 fantasy points for the other guy and my dreams of a win stayed exactly that...a dream.
As a kid growing up in the 80's, I was one of millions entertained by pro wrestling. So on occasion, I see articles about the guys I watched growing up and how their lives are now. Sometimes they are good stories, often they are really bad stories. This week, there was the story about Kamala, The Ugandan Giant. Long retired, he's living life as a double amputee now. You can read more via this BleacherReport.com article.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
While the Wareham High football team was off this week in preparation for their Turkey Day game against arch-rival Bourne, the school held their annual powder puff game. The senior and freshman girls teamed up agains the sophomore and junior girls.
Gabby, one of my ex-players, scored two touchdowns and picked off two passes during the game to help the senior/freshman team win the game. The local sports reporter covering the game tweeted out that she was the MVP of the game. The pic of one of her interceptions he sent along with the tweet is below.
I'm always proud to see her doing so well athletically. WAY TO GO GABBY!
Books - I finished the John Sandford novel Storm Front this week. It's the latest paperback in his Virgil Flowers series. It was a decent entry into the series and I'm looking forward to his next installment. Don't forget to be on the lookout for my 2014 Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers article that will be coming out by the end of the year.
Music - AC/DC has released an audio stream of the title track for their new CD Rock or Bust. You can listen to it below.
I've got a brand new CD review for you to check out this week. This time around it is for the new Robert Plant album lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar. You can check out what I had to say via this Pop-topia.com link.
Thanksgiving - I had to finish my Turkey Day shopping on Saturday and I'll be cooking a lot of the dinner on Thursday. Here's hoping you all have a...