While kind of irritated about some things I found out this week...
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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...
While trying to get my Xmas shopping done early...
Don't forget to check me out on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay
College hoops season got underway in a big way on Friday night. I'm following five teams this season (4 women's teams and 1 men's team) and they all tipped off on Friday.
Before I inundate you with a variety of stuff recapping those results, I wanted to share a few of other bits of news.
Lauren Hill, the Mount Saint Joseph's player I've been writing about for a few weeks now, has helped raise $176,000 dollars for The Cure Starts Now cancer foundation.
After the tragic deaths of a beloved assistant coach and the team's director of basketball operations, the Richmond women's basketball team had to find a way to move forward. This story link details the process as they prepared for their season debut on Friday, where they beat Providence College 75-59.
Former Purdue men's coach Gene Keady was famous for his really bad comb-over hair piece. Here's the article on why that decision could've killed him.
The USA Today had a good article this week on Tyler Summitt as he prepared for his first season as head coach of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. You can check it out HERE . By the way, his team won their opening game 76-69 defeating Stephen F. Austin University. Summitt was happy about the win while displeased by his team's 22 turnovers in the game.
Now for the game action news...
Boston College Men - Before I tell you the results of the team's first game, you can get to know more about the team with the following interview links: Coach Jim Christian (pictured below 1st), forward Eddie Odio, guard Dimitri Batten and forward Garland Owens (pictured below 2nd).
The Eagles opened up at home in Conte Forum against New Hampshire and came away with a 58-50 victory. Aaron Brown (pictured below 1st) led the team with 21 points and Olivier Hanlan (pictured 2nd) finished with 17 points. BC led by 10 points at halftime and while UNH outscored them by 2 points in the second half, it wasn't enough to stop the Eagles from gaining their first win of the season. (photos from the BC Facebook gallery)
You can see video highlights of the game below.
Hartford Hawks - The women's team went on the road to open their season and despite trailing by as many as 7 points in each half, came back to defeat Cornell 48-46. Deanna Mayza (pictured below) led the team with 15 points and tied her career high of 7 assists. She was the only player to hit double figures for the Hawks. But that didn't spare her from the general unhappiness Coach Jennifer Rizzotti had with her team's lack of execution in the game.
"It's probably not a good sign when we win and I'm not happy," said head coach Jen Rizzotti. "I thought we played hard but we were unfocused and really struggled to execute over the course of the game. I think Deanna [Mayza] made some big plays for us, but I feel like some of her mistakes could have cost us the game. That's why we keep pushing her to improve. Overall, this game gives us a lot to look at and work on, that's why it's good to play these games early."
The Hawks missed 10 of their 17 free throw attempts and shot just 34% from the floor for the game. The offensive execution is going to determine just how far the team goes in the America East Conference this season so they are going to have to improve in that area and do it quickly. The team did hold a 47-38 edge in rebounds for the game.
Missouri State - The second season under coach Kellie Harper got off to a rough start with the Lady Bears giving up a 16-1 run late in the game as Memphis pulled away to win 79-63. The loss dampened the enthusiasm about the return of Kenzie Williams (pictured below) to the lineup. She was lost for a majority of last season with a knee injury. She had 21 points to lead the team along with 7 rebounds, 4 steals (2 turnovers) and 4 assists. Freshman Liza Fruendt scored 18 points in her first college game action. Missing from the box score was Tyonna Snow. There was no explanation given that I could find, but Snow is a major contributor to the team and her presence might've changed the face of the game.
Tennessee LADY VOLS - You might wonder why I chose to capitalize "Lady Vols". It seems the name came under attack again this week by their own school and their less than popular AD Dave Hart. It was announced this week that with the exception of the women's basketball team, the term "Lady Vols" is being tossed in the trash so that they can extend the brand of their "Power T" logo to the women's teams and have a uniform marketing look.
Dave Hart, who has systematically gone about dismantling the power of the women's programs at Tennessee since he got there, is aided and abetted in this crime by Nike. They want all the teams to be known as "Volunteers". As if somehow, the term "Lady Vols" is holding back the women's teams from advancing into modern day.
I don't understand why referring to the women's teams at Tennessee (or any school really) is seen as denigrating them. At Tennessee, the Lady Vols logo and designation has symbolized a tradition of excellence, and not just with the basketball team either. Meanwhile, the men's teams (with the exception of the basketball team when Bruce Pearl was the coach) have taken that "Power T" logo and made it a joke. They suck. The football team sucks, the men's basketball team sucks and while I can't speak truthfully to the other men's programs at Tennessee, I haven't seen their names mentioned as title contenders in any other sports.
Why would you want to associate the high expectation women's team with a loser logo like the "Power T" when the men's teams have done nothing but trash it?
I used to like reading sports writer Christine Brennan back in the day but lately she has become a thorough bore and a chore to read. If her constant haranguing of the NFL wasn't bad enough (they deserved the initial ration of crap everyone gave them, but she acted like the fact the NFL didn't just close up shop was a mortal sin), her comparison of the Lady Vols name to the Redskins name was farcical (Can you imagine? The idea of trying to tie "Lady" and "Redskins" as slurs?) and her continued writing that the term "Lady" demeans the team and women as a whole is ridiculous. I hold the Lady Vols in the highest esteem. You can't say that about the men's Volunteers teams. You can read Brennan's idiotic ramblings HERE. I was ticked off enough about the article that I tweeted my disagreement with her viewpoint to Brennan on Twitter.
An opposing opinion was written by The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins (full disclosure, she's friends with and has written books with Pat Summitt). However, her piece was far better constructed and comes off far more intelligent in its argument in favor of the "Lady Vols" name. Yes it is an opinion I agree with so I guess I would be a little biased in favor of this article. But since I'm not a total idiot, I can be objective about what I think of the two articles.
I particularly enjoyed this line from the Jenkins article: "If a Lady Vol is wearing a diamond on her finger, odds are she won it."
Sports Illustrated had a good piece on coach Holly Warlick (pictured below from Friday night's season opener) as she enters her third season in charge of the Lady Vols with a sense of comfort in role.
(ALL PHOTOS TAKEN FROM THE TENNESSEE GAME PHOTO GALLERY)
As for the team's first game, Tennessee faced off against Pennsylvania on Friday night and came away with a resounding 97-52 victory. The Lady Vols actually trailed 20-17 halfway through the first half of the game but a 30-5 run to close the half game Tennessee control of the game for good.
Nia Moore had a career high 24 points to lead the Lady Vols. She added 14 rebounds as well.
Bashaara Graves added 16 points and 10 boards while Isabelle Harrison (pictured below) came off the bench for 12 points and 10 boards.
Tennessee's freshman class made an immediate impact as well. Alexa Middleton (pictured below 1st) had 20 points, Kortney Dunbar (pictured 2nd, #13) scored 15 points and Jaime (pictured 3rd) added 10 points. It is only the second time in school history that 3 freshman have hit double figures in their first game.
Boston College Women - The recruiting classes have been announced for all of the teams for next season it seems. While I normally pay little attention to the recruiting wars because I don't care who might show up or who says they will show up, one recruit for Boston College is the 5'7" point guard Stephanie Jones. You can read more about her in this article link. A true point guard that can truly handle the pressure defense that BC will face constantly during the ACC portion of their schedule is a must. They've been lacking it for years now. Here's hoping Jones can be that point guard.
You can see an interview with coach Erik Johnson on what he's looking to see from the team this season below.
The BC women opened up their season on the road against Stanford. Last season, they hosted the Cardinal at Conte Forum and got spanked after taking a lead into the first TV time out. Coming out of that timeout, Stanford went on a 28-0 run that sealed the game.
The team had a morning shootaround before the game (see below) but it didn't end up helping to change the result much.
This time around, Stanford broke out to an early lead, but the Eagles tied it at 32 before trailing 49-40 at halftime. But in the second half players like Kat Cooper couldn't keep up with (see below) Stanford's Kailee Johnson, while Lauren Engeln had no answer (see below 2nd) for stopping Lili Thompson (career high 26 points)
In the end, Stanford blew out the Eagles 96-63. Emilee Daley (pictured below) tied her career high with 13 points to lead the Eagles.
Nicole Boudreau added 11 points (3-3 from 3 pt range). Freshman Ashley Kelsick (see below) scored 10 points in her first college game. Karima Gabriel had 6 points to go with a team high 7 rebounds.
BC's 17 turnovers (6 by Martina Mosetti, pictured below) got turned into 26 points by Stanford.
Stanford shot 64.9% from the for the game which is the fifth best single game shooting performance in the entire history of the game. So the Eagles losing this game was not a surprise to say the least. I don't think an upset was really being thought about but a competitive game should've been the goal. However, when your opponent hits nearly 65 percent of the shots they take, you have to figure it is going to be a LONG night.
The Eagles play St. Mary's at 4pm today so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from the big loss.
By the way, while on this West Coast road trip, the team went to Fisherman's Wharf and took a trip to Alcatraz. You can see the team below before they headed off on the trip to the former prison.
Wisconsin - While the Badgers aren't a team I normally cover, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the record setting day that their running back Melvin Gordon had yesterday. In his team's 59-24 beatdown of Nebraska (Cornhusker coach Bo Pelini has a pathetic record vs. ranked opponents), Gordon ran for 4 touchdowns and new all-time NCAA rushing record 408 yards. He broke the record from 1999 that was held by TCU's (and former San Diego Charger) LaDanian Tomlinson. Even more amazing about Gordon's (see below #25) accomplishment was that he did it in just three quarters of action.
Mass Maritime - The Buccaneers faced off against Bridgewater State in the 36th Annual Cranberry Bowl yesterday. It was the final game of the season for Mass Maritime which means it is the final college game for my former player E.J. Heading into the game, he needed 6 catches to become the school leader in that category.
Mass Maritime had lost the last three times these two teams had played each other. But they rocketed out to a 17-0 first quarter lead, led 24-7 at halftime and then cruised their way to a 31-21 victory that closes their season with a 4-6 record. It is the first time in 30 years that Mass Maritime beat Bridgewater State on BSU's field.
My former player Richie picked up 6 carries for 13 yards, including a 1 yard TD run (his first college TD).
As for E.J., he went out in a blaze of glory. He caught 11 passes for 239 yards and 2 TDS. One of those TDs was a 93 yard pass play! He was named game MVP. He finished his career with 182 catches for 2,568 yards.
Way to go both of you and congratulations to Mass Maritime Academy, the 2013 Cranberry Bowl Champions.
Alabama - I know the haters are going to hate, but after Alabama's 25-20 upset of #1 Mississippi State, there is simply no way anyone can question the now 9-1 Crimson Tide belonging in the 4 team playoff system.
Despite Alabama's offense not fashioning a blowout victory, they scored when they needed to and relied on a defense that came up with one big play after another when they needed it. Despite Mississippi State gaining 427 total yards (to Alabama's 336), the Bama defense picked off Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott (getting leveled in the photo below) three times (including once in the end zone) thus killing potential scoring chances.
Blake Sims threw for 211 yards and a TD (to Amari Cooper, who had 8 catches for 88 yards). Both Derrick Henry (pictured below 1st) and T.J. Yeldon (pictured 2nd) found the end zone on the ground and despite a late TD pass from Prescott to make the final score closer than the game seemed, the Tide rolled and knocked off the #1 team in the country.
Boston College - After last week's rather devasting loss, the Eagles were on a bye week this week. There's not a whole lot to talk about with them as they take time to regroup, re-assess and try to heal up from some of their injuries. In the meantime, you can check out this article on receiver Josh Bordner. He spent four years as a backup QB but came back this year and recast himself as a reliable pass catcher.
You can also check out a video interview with defensive back Justin Simmmons below.
While the Boston Red Sox were one of the teams expected to bid for Miami Marlins player Giancarlo Stanton, news this week about Stanton being close to signing a 325 million dollar 13 year deal broke. This likely means everyone else in baseball will have to look elsewhere for talent upgrades this offseason.
Of course it also means that Stanton and his agent are about to sacrifice any chance of him ever winning a ring.
Speaking of the Boston Red Sox, the more tangible news for them is the talk that the club is talking to pitcher Jon Lester about a return to the team after they traded him this past season to the Oakland A's. And it appears that owner John Henry is amenable to breaking his rule about giving long term deals to pitchers over the age of 30.
The talk I've heard and read about says the two sides are talking about a 6 year deal. Of course, Lester's return to the Red Sox would be welcomed by the fan base. And I think the team knows this. Otherwise, a 6 year deal wouldn't even be a talking point in negotiations. But it does raise the question about why the team didn't just make this kind of deal with Lester in the first place and keep him with the team all along. Yes, I know they got a decent bat in Yoenis Cespedes to help the offense. But a lot of good that did when your pitching staff couldn't get anyone out.
Clay Buchholz is a serviceable pitcher when he's healthy (which isn't often), but he's best as your #3 starter TOPS. He's not the ace of a pitching staff, mostly because he can't stay healthy, but he does have on field issues as well. Lester is a clearly defined #1 starter. And when he was dealt away this past season, it was the biggest example of how the team quit on the season.
Look I know the Red Sox weren't going to go anywhere last season. But you at least like to see the illusion that the team is trying to win. And Red Sox fans didn't get that last year at all. It was hard to do so when the front office traded away so many key players before the deadline.
If the two sides do strike a deal, it will be a welcome sign that the Red Sox are actually going to try and field a competitive/competent team for the 2015 season.
After being on their bye last week, the New England Patriots made a bit of news this week leading up to tonight's game on the road vs. the Indianapolis Colts. It seems they became the first NFL team to have one million followers on Twitter. I don't think it really matters in the scheme of things (despite being on Twitter myself for shameless self promotion purposes), but it is a noteworthy moment considering how much activity these days takes place on that social media site.
But thanks to the ever present danger of automation, the club found themselves in need of making a public apology when their automatic set up for reaching that one million follower mark saw them tweeting out a racial slur based on the Twitter handle of one of their followers. Here's the story.
If you missed my new Celtics Report blog piece that I posted yesterday, you can check it out HERE.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard had a brilliant in-depth piece on New Orleans Pelicans star Ryan Anderson as he deals with and moves forward after the suicide death of his girlfriend last year. The piece was in this week's edition of the SI magazine, but the article link HERE is a longer version of the story.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The Wareham High football team got spanked again on Friday night. They faced off against Norton. The Norton team was on a two game win streak and unfortunately for Wareham, those two teams were the ones that the Vikings had lost two over their previous two games. And it was more of the same kind of beatdown for Wareham vs. Norton.
They were trailing 34-0 at halftime and the younger players got a lot more playing time in the second half on the way to losing 46-6. Josh had five carries for 20 yards in the game.
Now the 1-9 Vikings are off until their Thanksgiving Day game against arch rival Bourne.
Basketball - With just that Turkey Day football left for fall sports interest, my eyes turn towards the high school basketball season. I'll be covering four girls teams and possibly 2 boys teams (Wareham and Upper Cape) this year that have former players of mine.
The girls team's I'll be watching are Upper Cape (JV and varsity), Wareham (JV and varsity), Bristol-Plymouth (varsity) and Sturgis East (varsity). Of course, trying to figure out the various schedules is going to be a headache once I have all of them to coordinate which games I'll go to watch.
Yes, it is going to be a very busy winter of basketball viewing for me.
By now, this should come as no surprise. I had another 0-2 week. I'm 5-5 in one league and 1-9 in the other one. Yes indeed, I'm that putrid this season.
Books - I'm nearly finished with one book after taking a break from novels to catch up on past issues of Sports Illustrated. But while I haven't finished the novel, I did make time to pick up the new Janet Evanovich / Lee Goldberg paperback The Chase. It is the second book in their series about a female FBI agent and a charming rogue thief teaming up to solve cases. Yes, it sounds like a bit like the TV show White Collar but the first book was a decent and pleasant diversion, so I'm looking forward to reading the second book.
I also picked up a copy of the debut thriller from Terry Hayes that I reviewed back in March for inclusion into the Yankee Swap gift basket I'm doing up for the big family Xmas Eve gathering.
Also, be on the lookout for my second annual Top 10 Mystery and Thriller Books list. I'll be trying to get that article done in time for the first of the year.
Thanks to a bargain sale find at a local department store, I added the first two seasons of The Facts of Life to my TV on DVD collection this week.
Meanwhile, this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special is getting some advance hype. There was a teaser trailer released early this week and then during the annual Children in Need telethon they do in England, a scene from the special was aired. You can check out both videos below.
Music - AC/DC found themselves having to deal with the spotlight in an unexpected way this week as drummer Phil Rudd was arrested on a variety of charges in Australia, including a charge of attempting to procure a murder. Yes, trying to buy a hit! That charge was dropped but he is still facing other charges that could land him in prison for seven years. In between releasing statements about the legal status of their drummer, the band released the official video for the song "Play Ball."
Another Australian rock band that caught my attention is the band Massive. I finally heard their 2013 debut CD called Full Throttle. It was given away with an issue of Classic Rock magazine a while back but I've only now gotten to reading that particular issue. Anyway, the CD was fantastic. Pure driving hard rock at its finest. You can check out one of their songs called "Burn The Sun" below.
The final bit of music I have this week centers on former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden. He's got a new solo album out called Shine. I belong to a music board called Classic Rock Bottom and one of the features there is called New Music Corner. The poster Scott featured 5 tracks from the album this week and I took a listen. They were phenomenal and made it so I just had to put the disc on my want list. You can check out the title track (featuring a guest appearance from guitarist Joe Bonamassa) below.
Don't forget to check me out on Twitter: @TheOneTrueJay
With Halloween over, it is now time for the Christmas season....err...excuse me?...what?...oh, please excuse this interruption...
And now back to your regular scheduled programming.
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. It is a type of brain tumor/cancer that unfortunately has a 100% fatality rate. Have you ever heard of DIPG before? I know I hadn't until I caught a news article/video about a 19 year old basketball player down in Ohio and now I'm likely to never forget her or DIPG.
I've been following the story of Lauren Hill for the last few weeks. Last Sunday, the culmination of all the articles that were written, video pieces produced and shout outs from pro athletes took place in the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University.
The Mount Saint Joseph University women's team basketball team took the floor against Hiram College and Lauren Hill was there to play. For Lauren it was "One Last Game" or as she asked the broadcasters to say "her first collegiate game". Here's a fantastic start to finish photo gallery from Susan J. Wilden on Sportspagemagazine.com. (all photos used here in this section are from the AP).
I had planned to watch the game online, but as luck would have it, power went out here twice due to a storm. While the power came back on, I wasn't going to risk my computer with the storm still raging. I was resigned to not seeing the game, but then my mother told me the game was on a Fox channel that we had. Hell yeah!
I did miss the start of the game but caught most of it. And for that I was happy. The broadcast team was made of a local broadcaster, the guy who actually did the initial story on Hill. The color analyst for the game was Debbie Antonelli. For those who follow women's college basketball, this was quite a thing. Antonelli broadcasts tons of games on the Division 1 level, but she made time for this game.
There were a bunch of WNBA stars in attendance at the game including Elena Delle Donne, Delisha Milton Jones and Tamika Catching. Buffalo Bills player Fred Jackson brought his family to the game too. LeBron James sent her a message on Instagram, and a number of athletes from the high school level to the pros took up her #Layup4Lauren Challenge.
Lauren took part in the pregame warmups and was introduced in the starting lineup. "OneMore4Lauren" was about to get underway.
One of the things that as a former coach is when a basket is fixed so a player can score or reach some milestone they might not have been able to do without an agreement between two parties. It just irks me. But in this particular case, I would've taken off my ex-coach's hat and just gone along. But I did read an article that said while Hiram College hoped Lauren would score, they would defend her.
Though I missed it when it occured, Hill did score the first basket of the game. She hit it as she crossed the lane and made it with her left hand (her coordination making it difficult to shoot with her dominant right hand). Now the defender got hung up on a pick, but again, the coach in me saw that she could've gotten by the pick easy enough. But enough of that. The basket was made (see the pic and video below), and the game stopped while there was a brief celebration.
Hill was removed from the game and spent most of the rest of the game on the bench cheering on her teammates. She had to wear sunglasses and headphones to block out some of the stimuli that you and I wouldn't even notice.
At halftime, she was presented with the United States Basketball Writer's Association Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award. The award was voted early, usually being presented at the Final Four. In a surprise move, Pat Summitt herself was on hand to help present the award.
With 26 seconds left in the game and the crowd chanting "We Love Lauren", Hill went back into the game. She took another shot that missed, but her teammate rebounded the ball, passed it back and Lauren took what will likely be the last shot of her college career...with her right hand...and MADE IT!
The final score was Mount Saint Joseph 66 Hiram College 55. And while Lauren's team won the game, everyone else got a bigger win. One of her teammates is a senior and had torn up her knee just a few weeks ago. She was more upset that she wouldn't be able to be on the court with Lauren than she was about losing her senior season. But come last Sunday, she got her leg taped up and she took the floor for the game.
After the game was over, she addressed the crowd from the floor and was presented with another award, this one being the Wilma Rudolph Courage award. It is a local Cincinnati honor.
Afterwards, she also took part in the post game presser.
You can read game stories HERE and HERE. ESPN produced a great video report about Hill, narrated by Tom Rinaldi, that you can see below.
A college player shooting 2-3 from the floor for 4 points isn't usually the type of thing that gets news headlines and tons of other forms of recognition. But something about the determination and grace displayed by Lauren touched everyone who saw her story. I can't even explain why the story moved me as much as it did. But move me it did.
A few days after the game, she was presented with an honorary version of an athlete's crowing glory: Her own Wheaties Box.
Oh and there was this too:
I know the doctors said she wouldn't live past December, but they obviously got that wrong. Given the outpouring of support, whether Lauren Hill is physically here or not, her memory will live on long after she has left us.
Perhaps because I lost someone to cancer, perhaps because if I was still coaching and had a player dealing with this kind of prognosis I'd do anything I could to help, or perhaps just combining those things with my love of women's basketball. Whatever the reason, when certain publications are looking for a real candidate for their Sportsman/Sportswoman of the year, for me, as she leaves the stage, Lauren Hill is the best and only choice. She's certainly my choice.
Before I talk about the Patriots game from last Sunday, there was a pretty interesting interview with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians on SI.com last week. You can check that out HERE. Also, former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano was profiled here on his life out of football.
As for the Patriots 43-21 beatdown of the Denver Broncos, that was quite a game for Patriots fans, wasn't it? While dominating the first half the game, I was initially worried when the second half started. Denver went down the field quickly and scored with a TD pass to Julius Thomas. The reason that worried me was because it was exactly what Bill Cowher said the team needed to do during the halftime show.
But that was, for all intents and purposes, the real last gasp the Broncos had for the Patriots. While the Broncos had 472 in total yards to New England's 398, those yards went for naught when Denver failed to score. Peyton Manning passed for 438 yards with 2 TDs. But he also got picked off twice (one by Rob Ninkovich and the other by Brandon Browner, pictured below)
Manning was sacked once in the game. Akeem Ayers (pictured below) got that sack and played nearly the entire game on defense despite having joined the team late.
The Patriots got a great performance from their run defense as they held the Broncos to just 43 yards on the ground. While the offensive line for New England didn't open up many holes for the ground game (66 yards), they kept Brady upright for most of the game (1 sack).
Tom Brady was 33-53 for 333 yards and 4 TDs. He got picked off once.
The QB found Rob Gronkowski 9 times for 105 yards and a TD.
Brandon LaFell (#19, pictured below) had 6 catches including one for a score. Shane Vereen wasn't able to make an impact as a rusher, but caught 5 passes for 38 yards and TD.
Along with Stephen Gostkowski's three field goals, the special teams unit had a really good day when combined with an 84 yard punt return for a touchdown by Julian Edelman (pictured below). Edelman caught 9 passes for 89 yards and another TD on the day.
So the Patriots are now 7-2 and have been just laying the smack down on their opponents the last two weeks. They are in control in the AFC right now but are going to face Miami and Buffalo again this season so they haven't sealed the division title just yet. I'd mention the Jets but when your fan base wears shirts like the one below, you know your season is OVER!
Another crappy week as I lost in both leagues. One of those losses was the league's biggest margin of defeat for the week.
Florida State decided to yet again display their hypocrisy when they kicked a reserve linebacker off the team yet kept letting QB Jameis Winston suit up. Here's my take on the story.
Boston College - While I don't have anything good to say about the BC football game, there was a bit of good news related to last week's win over Virginia Tech. DB Manny Asprilla picked up the ACC Defensive Back of the Week award. He was also profiled on ESPNBoston.com.
As for the Saturday night matchup vs. Louisville, the Eagles were simply outclassed. And a lot of that had to do with likely the worst performance all season by quarterback Tyler Murphy (pictured below). He was 7-15 for 149 yards passing. He did throw a TD pass, but that matters little when you stack it up against being sacked twice and picked off four times. At least two of the interceptions were exceptionally bad as you can see in the highlight film below.
Though the run game was pretty much even in total yards with Louisville (BC had 167 to the Cardinals 168), none of the rushers really separated themselves from the other. While Jon Hilliman ran for 2 one yard TDs, with the passing game effectively out of commission in this game, they needed to get more of a ground game going.
The BC defense didn't have much of an answer when it came to timely stoppages of the Louisville rushers. Between Reggie Bonnafon and Brandon Radcliff (pictured below) they had three rushing TDs.
Bonnafon (#7, pictured below), a QB by trade, also managed to complete 4 of 5 passes for 69 yards and 2 TDs.
Boston College drops to 6-4 on the season and this game has to be one of the more disappointing efforts this season. Even in a game they might've been likely to lose, you would've hoped for at least a better effort and not a game full of one error after another.
Alabama - The Crimson Tide spent most of their night on Saturday trying to figure out how to shake off LSU. They trailed late in the game 13-10 and had just 50 seconds in which to tie or win the game. Blake Sims (pictured below) finally was able to do something against the Tiger defense and led Alabama on a drive that got them a tying field goal. Alabama went on to win the game 20-13 in overtime to raise their record to 8-1.
It was Sims who threw a 6 yard TD pass to receiver DeAndrew White (pictured below making winning catch) to win the game. Sims finished the game 20-45 for 209 yards and 2 TDS.
The first TD was to Amari Cooper, who set school record for both the career and single season in receiving yards. He also set the school record for catches in a season. Cooper (pictured below) had 8 catches for 83 yards and that score.
The defenses were a big storyline in the game. While Alabama had the edge in total offense, they couldn't seem to do anything to stop the LSU run game. The Tigers actually out-rushed Bama 183-106. Unfortunately for Les Miles and crew, Bama shut down the passing game holding them to just 76 yards in the air while sacking QB Anthony Jennings twice and picking him off once.
For the Tigers, their defense did what no other team has done this year. They pretty much shut down the ground attack for Alabama. Yes, the Tide finished with 106 yards overall, but they didn't score a rushing TD and while T.J. Yeldon had 68 yards on the ground, the Tigers forced him into a costly fumble late in the game. That fumble led to the field goal that gave LSU that 13-10 lead.
In the playoff ranking system, Alabama is still on the outside looking in. I don't know how this game will affect their standing. Because you never know how people are going to react to a close win over anothe ranked team. But for me, fandom for Alabama aside, I think they belong in that Final Four playoff.
Mass Maritime - The Buccaneers picked up their third win of the season thanks to a 27-7 victory of Plymouth State yesterday. E.J. caught 6 passes for 29 yards, while Richie caught a 16 yard pass to go with 29 yards on 5 carries.
Cody didn't hit the box score for the game, but leading up to the game, he was profiled in the Boston Herald for his battle with cancer last season. You can check out the article reprinted on the school's website HERE.
Despite a fairly lengthy leash when he first started at Indiana, coach Tom Crean has not been able to return the Hoosiers to any real semblance of their glory days. Now, thanks to discipline and injury issues, Crean finds himself on a VERY hot seat. Meanwhile, despite a plea from Hoosier legend A.J. Guyton to former coach Bobby Knight, it seems the feud between Knight and the school is still ongoing. You can read more HERE.
Boston College Men - The Eagles opened their exhibition game slate with a 92-53 rout of AIC. You can learn more about a few players with the following interview pieces: Steve Perpiglia, Will Magarity and Idy Diallo. You can read even more player interviews on the team's news page.
Hartford Hawks - The women's team via a partnership with Team IMPACT has adopted 6 year old Zoey Brown. You can read the story HERE. (Thanks to Lynnepep for reminding me about this story).
There's also a video availabe which you can see below.
Tennessee Lady Vols - Isabelle Harrison has come a long way in her time with the Lady Vols. The team, according to this article is going to be counting on her continued improve play to help try and carry them back to elite program status. However, it is going to be harder than expected to start the season because coach Holly Warlick announced player suspensions related to academic issues (namely skipping a class, it seems). You can read more about it HERE.
It shows the disparity between the men's and women's athletic programs in college. Skip a class for the women, get suspended. Be a budding crimelord like Jameis Winston, watch the coach twist himself into a pretzel defending you so you can keep playing.
Boston College Women - The Boston College newspaper The Heights had a season preview look at the team. You can also check out this Q&A interview with team captain (and my personal favorite player on the team) Nicole Boudreau.
If you missed my blog post on the early start of the Boston Celtics from yesterday, you can check it out HERE.
Former Baylor star Isaiah Austin was slated to become an NBA player, but saw his dream die when pre-draft physicals saw him diagnosed with career ending Marfan's Syndrome. You can catch up with him as he begins a new life both in and out of basketball via this link.
During the New York City Marathon, the NBA took part with an all-star relay made up of retired NBA stars, commissioner Adam Silver and a few WNBA legends as well. New York Liberty assistant coach Katie Smith was one of those that took part. You can see a photo of her after her part of the relay ended below.
While the Red Sox offseason news will likely focus on their scheduled meeting with free agent Pablo Sandoval next week, I thought I'd take a second to mention that one of the key figures in the recent Red Sox success (with rings from 2004 and 2007) has retired. Yes, The Greek God of Walks aka Kevin Youkilis, has ended his career. His career didn't end the way you would've hoped it would, but he'll always be a member of the Red Sox to me.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The only high school sports team still active for me is the Wareham High football team. And sadly, they've become the team that other teams look to get better on. For the second straight week, their opponent has come into the matchup winless and left the Vikings with an asswhipping. This time it was Dedham putting a beating on the Vikings, 34-0.
TV - You can check out the recap of the latest episode of Arrow via this Pop-topia.com link. By the way, I tweeted out how much I liked the appearance of Charlotte Ross in the episode, and the actress hit the favorite button on the tweet.
Music - I am a fan of Irish and Celtic music singer Marc Gunn. He recently posted a streaming version of his science fiction song "Browncoats Keep Flyin'" on Soundcloud. As a big Firefly/Serenity fan myself, I loved the song. You can check it out HERE. You can check more of his sci-fi songs on his Sci-Fi Drinking Songs CD. Check out http://www.marcgunn.com for more information.
Queen released a streaming version of a new song that will be released. It was a song they recorded during the creation of their album The Works but it was never used. So yes for those rock fans paying attention, that means this is a new song featuring vocals by Freddie Mercury!