While still recovering from a spring cold that managed to kick my ass all over the place this week...
The long nightmarish, though sort of expected, season has come to a conclusion.
The Celtics dropped their final two games of the season to finish at 25-57 for the year.
They lost to the Sixers 113-108. Kelly Olynyk established a new career high with 28 points and had 9 rebounds as well. Jeff Green scored 27 points and Avery Bradley added 23 points. Rajon Rondo scored just 8 points, but had 11 boards and 14 assists.
The season finale on Wednesday night saw the Wizards win 118-102. It was Olynyk again leading the way offensively with 24 points and 7 boards. Green scored 20 points and Bradley had 18. Brandon Bass scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Chris Johnson hit double figures with 10 points. Rondo sat out the last game and Phil Pressey scored 9 points and dished out 10 assists in his place.
It is hard not to be disappointed in a 25-57 season. There is no way to sugar coat such a bad record. And while a lot of people will be disappointed that the Celtics are likely not going to get one of those top 3 draft picks, given the level to which the expected names to fill those three slots were exposed in the college basketball tournament, they may not really be missing out on much.
The Celtics have a good coach who actually coaches. Brad Stevens did the best possible job he could given the situation. And it isn't like he doesn't have talent on the team. The Celtics have a ton of guys that are decent players and seemingly pretty good people off the court. They are missing that one dominant player to tie everyone together.
I'm not sure how they will go about finding that type of player or even who that player might be, but if they can tie the team together through that type of upgrade, the puzzle pieces they have in place right now just might be enough to turn things around faster than expected.
Kelly Olynyk has shown that he can be a force on the court. Jeff Green may never be the #1 scoring option he shows flashes of being able to do, but being able to put up 20 plus points on any given night is a nice second or third option to have.
The point guard situation is nicely outfitted with Rondo as the started and Phil Pressey showing he can be a capable backup and spot starter as needed.
Avery Bradley has developed into a capable two guard as an offensive player (his defensive capabilities having already been established), Brandon Bass is a solid post player and I love the hustle shown by Chris Johnson.
Of course, I know that some of the players are likely to hit the road in the offseason and I'm by no means suggesting that my thoughts on the players are going to be correct. But I liked the team on the court this year despite their struggles. Why? Because they played their asses off. It was not good enough to win a lot of games, but seeing the effort night in and night out during a "lost" season gives you a little bit of hope.
In other NBA news, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will not be returning to the job next season. While his record over three seasons was not good, the reason for the departure is tied more to the health situation with his wife than anything else. He was profiled in a SI.com piece that I read this week written by Joan Niesen and it delves into how great a coach he is on a variety of levels. You can read the piece here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140415/rick-adelman-minnesota-timberwolves-kevin-love/index.html
ORR Girls Track - The Bulldogs track team keeps destroying their competition when it comes to track and field. They beat Bourne 122-13 this past week and my former player Rachel won the 800 meters event in 2:36.
Wareham Girls Track - My former player Paige had a huge week this past week. She finished 3rd in the 800 meters (2:31.4) during the Freshman/Sophomore meet which qualified her for States in that event.
When the Vikings faced GNB Voc-Tech later in the week, they ran away from their competition 94-36 to improve their record to 2-1. Paige was a big part of that as well. She won the 2 mile event in 12:16. She qualified for states in the event and broke the 37 year old school record (12:31). She was also part of the winning 4x400 relay team that finished with a states
qualifying time of 4:32.2.
Wareham Girls Softball - The varsity team dropped to 0-7 on the season after an 11-6 loss to Seekonk and a 6-5 loss to Bourne. Breanna had 2 hits in the Seekonk game. Raelyn got tagged with both losses on the mound.
Upper Cape Girls Softball - Improving upon their no-hitter earlier in the season, the Lady Rams beat South Shore 18-0 in a five inning PERFECT GAME! They are now 6-1 on the season.
I don't write a lot about the Bruins, I know. But with the playoffs starting I thought I'd make note that the Bruins finished as the best team in the NHL. This finish brings them the President's Cup and makes me wonder...so what?
Okay, now I'm not opposed to them being the best team in the league heading into the Quest for the Cup, but the press over them beating the Sabres and sealing the President's Cup was completely ridiculous.
Personally, as long as a team qualifies for the playoffs, do you really care where they end up? Any team can win from whatever seed they start out as. Winning the President's Cup doesn't mean you will win the Stanley Cup. And being the best regular season team means nothing if you aren't the best team after the playoffs are over.
And while it is only the first game of the series, the Bruins losing 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night does not exactly inspire confidence.
Heading into the game, I was listening to the sports guy on the radio station I have on in the car. He was voicing the opinion I've heard from others that the Bruins facing the Red Wings is not a typical one vs. 8 seed kind of matchup.
Boston College - The Eagles finally got some good news when Olivier Hanlan, the men's basketball team's best player announced he would be returning to school for his junior year. There had been talk of him entering the NBA draft.
He met with new coach Jim Christian and made the decision to come back to school. For me, I think he made the right decision. He's the team's best player but I don't see him making a big impact on the NBA level just yet. I know if you stay and become a four year player in college, you are seen as having something wrong with you in this day and age. But I think that is pure poppycock. Some players might just benefit from a full college experience and have matured enough that you don't have to worry about a team babysitting him in the NBA.
By the way, Twitter helped rake NCAA president Mark Emmert over the coals this week. It seems he was a guest on the Mike & Mike radio show when they took questions via Twitter with the #AskEmmert hashtag.
TV - The network shows are heading into their season finales with the CBS comedies Mom (already renewed) and The Crazy Ones (fate yet unknown) ending this past week.
BBC America started the second season of their critical and cult hit Orphan Black last night.
Still nothing could top last Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones which featured the most well deserved and well earned death in cinematic history.
Movies - You can check out the final trailer for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie below.
I saw the movie Frozen last week and found it to be pretty enjoyable. Even funnier was the Honest Trailer for the movie.
Books - I finished reading the Rob Thomas / Jennifer Graham mystery novel Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line before I got sick this week. It is set right after the events of the Veronica Mars movie and with the series/movie creator Rob Thomas involved with the writing, the book did have the right feel to it. The only flaw I saw in the book was the continued insanity of the fully grown adult title character to use a gun, or learn basic self defense tactics.
Music - Did anyone take part in Record Store Day yesterday? I usually try to go to the event which celebrates independent record shops with exclusive vinyl releases from artists both big and small. You can check out what was offered to fans yesterday via http://www.recordstoreday.com
I didn't pick up any of the vinyl releases, but I got three new CDs with the help of the special Buy 2 Get 1 sale at the Newbury Comics location closest to me.
I picked up the debut solo album from former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon called Shine. I grabbed a disc from last year called All Hell Breaks Loose from the band Black Star Riders (the remaining guys from Thin Lizzy). And finally, Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers had a solo album out last year called The Royal Sessions. It celebrates the songs and musicians of Memphis.
I also picked up (via online purchase) the 2013 self-titled debut from the rock trio The Winery Dogs. I had heard three songs when the album was originally released but hadn't yet gotten around to purchasing the CD. Now I have and hopefully there will be a review coming soon.
(I'm having some awful writers block, and really tired from a long weekend at work...So I decided to go back in the archives, and share a post from our old friend ThirdStone...Enjoy -The Beeze)
6,723 Receiving Yards
5 Pro Bowls
AFL All-Time Team
First With 101 Receptions In A Season
Charles Taylor Hennigan joined the expansion Houston Oilers as an undrafted 25-year old in the fledgling American Football League in 1960. He had previously been a high school teacher at a high school, where he earned $4,000 annually. He kept a monthly pay stub of $270.72 in his helmet for inspiration on the gridiron.
He had initially went to college at LSU on a track scholarship, where the coaches of the school had designs for him to compete in the Olympic games. The Tigers were the SCC mile-relay champions in his freshman year, an event Hennigan specialized in.
Football became Hennigan's primary interest soon after his high school sweetheart passed away from cancer. LSU did not want him switching sports, so Hennigan transferred to Northwestern State University and played running back for three years.
After college, he was invited to try out for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He was cut after a week, so he had a stint in the United States Army before returning to Louisiana to teach biology and gym class while also coaching both football and track.
Hennigan used his time as a track coach to run and stay in shape, along with using isometrics. Red Cochran was a former NFL player who later became a scout. He happened to live nearby Hennigan, so Cochran got him to try out for the newly founded Oilers. Cochran's career would last 52 years in the NFL, ending up in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Having no real experience as a wide receiver, Hennigan asked Cleveland Browns legend Dub Jones for some help. Jones, whose son Bert would later become a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Baltimore Colts, was a former Pro Bowl receiver who happened to live close by Hennigan as well.
Jones, who still shares the NFL record for six touchdowns scored in one game, drilled Hennigan on how to fake the defender and not the area. NFL defenses employed man-to-man coverage in those days, as opposed to the zone coverage most teams use in the game today.
Hennigan went into a Oilers camp that had a few stars trying out for the team. The team cut future stars like Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown and Pro Bowl wide receiver Homer Jones. Jones, who still holds the NFL record for yards per catch in a career, is known best for inventing the football spike after a score.
A big reason Brown didn't make the Oilers is because he had difficulty covering Hennigan in practice. The two would butt heads many times over the years, often complimenting each other as the toughest opponent either had faced in their careers.
There was a few hundred men trying out for the Oilers and Hennigan began to hear rumors he was about to be cut as well. Yet he made the team and had Browns great Mac Speedie, a former teammate of Dub Jones, as his wide receivers coach.
He and Oilers teammate Charley "The Human Bowling Ball" Tolar are the first persons at Northwestern State to play professional football. The school would later produce such greats like Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith, Pro Bowl players like quarterback Bobby Hebert, cornerback Terrence McGee, wide receiver Mark Duper, running backs Tolar, John Stephens and Joe Delaney. They are amongst the 44 players from that school to play professional football.
The five Pro Bowls Hennigan accrued is tied with Smith as the most ever by a Northwestern State Demon. Also a track star, he has been named one of the 100 greatest football players in school history.
He soon won a starting job in camp and developed an amazing repertoire with Hall of Fame quarterback George Blanda. Hennigan scored the first touchdown in Oilers history, which happened in the first game in franchise history against the Oakland Raiders.
Separating his shoulder in the first half of that game, Hennigan then sat out for three games as he healed from the injury. He returned to be second on the team in receiving yards and touchdown catches as the Oilers eventually reached the first ever AFL title game.
Playing against the Los Angeles Chargers, Houston came back from an early deficit to capture the championship with a 24-16 victory. Hennigan's four receptions for 71 yards were both the second best totals on the team.
The 1961 season started out strange for the Oilers. After stumbling out to a 1-3-1, they replaced head coach Lou Rymkus with Wally Lemm. This awoke the Oilers roster, as they would then explode upon the AFL with 10 straight wins on their way to winning the second, and so far last, title in franchise history.
The offense was ranked first in the league in offense, total yards and passing yards. They also finished second in rushing yards, points and total yards allowed. It was also the finest season of Hennigan's career.
He had to share receptions with Pro Bowlers like Tolar, Billy Cannon, Willard Dewveall, Bob McLoud and Bill Groman. Groman led the AFL with 17 touchdowns off of 50 receptions for 1,175 yards that year, as well as leading the league in yards per catch.
Hennigan racked up 82 catches at an impressive 21.3 yards per reception average that was second best in the AFL. He led the league with a career best 1,746 receiving yards, breaking an 11-year old record previously set by Hall of Famer Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch.
He had started out the season charting out a way to break Hirsch's record. Hennigan once calculated the number of receptions and receiving yards he needed to break the record by writing on a bathroom mirror with soap as he shaved.
Not only did he set a career best mark by leading the AFL with 124.7 receiving yards gained per game, he also caught a career high 12 touchdowns. The 124.7 yards mark stood as a record until 1982, when Wes Chandler surpassed it in a strike-shortened season that lasted nine games that year. Hennigan appeared in 14 games 21 years earlier and his average still ranks second best in pro football history.
Yet he also piled up more records. He still owns the record for three games of which Hennigan had over 200 yards receiving. He also owns the record for seven straight games of at least 100 yards receiving, which is how he started out the 1961 season. Hennigan was also the first player ever to have 10 games in a season with over 100 receiving yards.
Hennigan had 11 total games that year of at least 100 yards receiving. It, as well as his streak of seven games, was tied in 1995 by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Irvin needed 16 games to tie the record.
His streak of seven games ended after getting 232 yards and two scores against the Buffalo Bills. After missing his eighth straight game by 22 yards the next week in a game Houston won 55-14 over the Denver Broncos, he did not catch a pass the following game.
While the Oilers beat the San Diego Chargers for the 1961 AFL Championship, they did a good job limiting Hennigan to 43 yards on five catches. The reason was because they concentrated on him after he had burned them for 214 yards and three scores just three weeks earlier.
Not only did his 1,746 total yards lead the AFL on 1961, Hennigan began a streak of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. The record of 1,746 receiving yards stood as a record until 1995, when Isaac Bruce and record holder Jerry Rice surpassed it. Yet Hennigan's total still ranks and the third most ever.
The difference between Hennigan's record setting seasons to those who tied or surpassed him is the fact he passed Hirsch's record in 12 games, the same number of games Hirsch had played in 1951. Rice and Bruce needed 16 games, two more than Hennigan played in 1961, to surpass him.
Another difference is that only Irvin was on a championship team like Hennigan was during these record-setting years. Rice, a Hall of Famer, and Bruce would win titles in different seasons.
Hennigan, who was named First Team All-Pro in 1961 and 1962, then continued his excellence after his incredible year. He grabbed 115 balls for 1,918 yards and 18 touchdowns over the next two seasons. The 1962 Houston team reached the AFL title game for a third straight season, but lost in overtime.
Some say Hennigan's 1964 season was his best, while Hennigan prefers to think his 1961 season was. Though he was good friends with Denver Broncos legend Lionel Taylor, he set out to break Taylor's 1961 record of 100 receptions.
He broke the record by grabbing 101 passes that year. This mark stood 20 years until Hall of Famer Art Monk had 106 in 1984, a record would stand for. Hennigan also had 1,546 receiving yards, which also led the AFL and still ranks as the 21st most in pro football history.
The 110.4 yards gained per game receiving average he has in 1964 also still ranks as the eighth best ever in pro football history. Hennigan is the first pro player ever to have two seasons of over 1,500 yards receiving, and he is also the first to have four games of 200 or more receiving yards.
Concussions began to catch up to Hennigan by 1965, as well as the fact he was running around on an injured knee. He gutted it out over the next two years, catching 68 passes for 891 yards and seven touchdowns over that time.
One game against the Chargers saw San Diego cornerback Claude Gibson hit Hennigan with a rabbit punch, knocking the Oilers star out cold. Hennigan woke up in the locker room, but was dazed. He was put back out on the field, but didn't know where he was most of the time because of the concussion he suffered.
It turned out to be a mistake by Gibson, a great punt returner who led the AFL in punt return yardage and average twice. Player in those days took care of their own teammates.
Unbeknownst to Hennigan, two of his teammates set up Gibson during a preseason game a few years later. He was hit in the knees, which ended Gibson's career. Hennigan was told this story at a 50th anniversary reunion by his teammates.
Concussions went untreated back then, and medical technology was not good enough to do a good job repairing knees either. Houston traded Hennigan to the Raiders for a future draft pick, but he failed the physical and decided to retire.
Not only was Hennigan on the gridiron for the love of the game, but he was able to pursue his doctorate in education with an increase in salary compared to what he earned as a teacher.
He once asked Oilers owner Bud Adams for a raise after his monster 1961 season, but was refused. Instead, Adams cut him a check for $10,000 and sent Hennigan out of his offices.
When Hennigan retired after the 1966 season, he basically owned every receiving record there was for the Oilers and AFL. He still has the most touchdown receptions in franchise history, as well as the fourth most receiving yards and sixth most receptions in team history.
He owns the Oilers record of most catches and receiving yards in a game, when he went for 276 yards on 13 receptions in 1961. His 26 games of at least 100 yards receiving is also a franchise record.
His 71.8 receiving yards per game is not only the best in team history, it is still the 12th best ever in pro football history. Four of the players ahead of him on this list are still active, so Hennigan could move back up the list as the years go on.
The 16.8 yards per reception average is excellent for any era of football, especially one that dealt with the 10-yard chuck rule. Not only does it rank 39th best ever in yards per touch in pro football history, it is the second best in Oilers/ Titans history behind Oilers great Ken Burrough.
I do not know what disgusts me most. Hennigan's exclusion from the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the fact Adams has seemingly spit on his teams earlier history.
Blanda and Jim Norton are the only early Oilers in the franchises Hall of Fame. Ken Houston and Elvin Bethea, two more Hall of Fame players, are the only other AFL Oilers inducted into the teams Hall of Fame.
Hennigan should have been inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Oilers/ Titans Hall of Fame by now. Not only is he the greatest wide receiver in that franchises history, he is one of the very best in AFL history. Hennigan is a member of the AFL All-Time Team.
There are the obvious signs of the continued AFL disrespect by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the reasons to why Hennigan has not yet been inducted. Even though the building in Canton does not say NFL Hall of Fame, it has become just that.
The NFL's anger of being forced to merge with the successful AFL still seems to burn brightly. The voters obviously cower and heed this anger by inducting modern inferior players instead.
Not only did Hennigan have to deal with the 10-yard chuck rule, which is a lot harder to have success in compared to the modern five-yard rule, he dealt with playing fields that were nowhere as near as pristine as they have been the past few decades.
Football used to be a game for men in Hennigan's era. Players had to actually earn their accolades then, as opposed to the rule changes that guarantee successes like now. Yet the numbers he put up easily match or exceed many players today that are deemed as stars.
Some detractors will point at he fact he lasted just seven seasons, but the Hall of Fame is filled with men who had careers of that length or less. Men who put up inferior production as well.
While Hirsch is in the Hall of Fame, he went to two less Pro Bowls and had one less First Team All-Pro honor than Hennigan. Though a great wide receiver, Hirsch had two excellent seasons and several decent ones.
Lynn Swann, another Hall of Famer, lasted nine years but many of his number pale in comparison to Hennigan. Swann was finalist 13 times before induction, while Hennigan hasn't even been named a semi-finalist once. Hennigan also has more receptions than Hall of Fame receiver Bob Hayes, let alone the fact he either owns or shares several other records with some of the best receivers to ever play the game.
Blanda, who was later a teammate of Brown's, often lamented the exclusion of Hennigan from the Hall of Fame up until his death. Hennigan set his receptions record after catching nine passes against Brown, who also agrees with Blanda that the Oilers legend deserves a bust in Canton.
Not only did Hennigan's 101 reception season stand as a record for 20 years, his 1,746 yards gained stood as a record for 34 seasons. He is the only player ever to have three games of 200-yards receiving in a season.
Voters should look at the travails Hennigan had to persevere through compared to the game now. Not only the rules to empower the modern offense that he did not have to help him nor the shoddy fields he played on often. How the hash marks placement greatly differed then and the goal posts used to be placed hazardously on the goal line in his day.
How the defenses of his day actually were allowed to play defense and even extend it further to the realm of crossing the lines of fair play. Even with medical care that didn't have as much expertise as now, Hennigan went out there and performed at a Hall of Fame level no matter how hurt he was.
There is no doubt that Hennigan belongs in Canton. The seniors committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is afforded just two nominees each year, which is unfair to the tremendous backlog they have to sift through annually. Yet Hennigan should never have reached the seniors pool, because it is obvious he should have been inducted long ago.
While he is in that deep seniors pool now, Hennigan easily rises to the top of the best wide receivers not yet inducted. Yet too much times has passed in his omission, so the voters must get it together now and put him in so Hennigan can enjoy his long overdue induction.
It is easy to see Charlie Hennigan is the greatest wide receiver not yet put into the hallowed halls within Canton. He belonged long ago, but now is the time to right the wrongs made by past voters. Contact all of the voters and tell them that Hennigan deserves his rightful place inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Men's Hockey - The Eagles beat UMass-Lowell 4-3 last week and advanced to the Frozen Four. They'll play Union on April 10th in the national semifinals. BC is 28-7-4 on the season and it would be great if they could win another championship.
By the way, does anyone know why there is such a long delay before the Frozen Four games?
Men's Basketball - For those who didn't see my Coaching Carousel entry this week, the men's basketball team has a new coach in Jim Christian. He spent the last two years at Ohio University where he went 49-22.
In demonstration of the fact that I don't actually know EVERYTHING, when I first saw the report of his hiring, my reaction was "Who?!"
He seems like he's a pretty good coach, though coaching at Ohio is a bit different than coaching in the ACC. His first order of business is going to be convincing sophomore Olivier Hanlan to stay in school. Rumor has it Hanlan is considering entering the NBA draft.
If he's successful in keeping Hanlan in school, he has to recruit ACC ready talent, win with them and re-energize a fan base that has come to expect losing rather than winning. It is a tall order. Here's hoping he can do it.
Women's Basketball - While their season is over, preparations for next year are already underway. The women's basketball team's Twitter feed has been covering the workouts the team is going through the past week or so.
The losing has finally started to fray the patience of coach Brad Stevens over the last week or so. He hasn't gone ballistic or anything but his comments in the press after games and such have had a bit of frustration in them.
After four more losses this week, it isn't hard to imagine him at least metaphorically pulling out his hair at night. A 23-53 record will do that to you.
The week started off with back to back games against the Chicago Bulls. The first game was a 107-102 loss that saw Rajon Rondo score 17 points and dish out 11 assists to lead the team. Jared Sullinger had 16 points and 10 boards. Five others also hit double figures in scoring.
Jerryd Bayless scored 18 points in the second Bulls game to lead Boston but they lost 94-80.
The Wizards pasted Boston 118-92 despite 25 points from Sullinger.
On Friday night, the Sixers knocked off the Celtics 111-102. Bayless scored 23 points and Rondo had a triple double (11 points, 11 rebounds, 16 assists) but Philly's Michael Carter-Williams had 24 points to power the Sixers.
The season is winding down and Boston is obviously not headed to the playoffs. I'd imagine Stevens and GM Danny Ainge will be looking at these final few games to see which players continue to play hard despite having nothing to look forward to in terms of postseason play. Those that do will have a good shot at returning, and those that play as if they've given up will find their roles either reduced or recast with someone else.
Four games into the season and the Red Sox are 2-2. Nothing spectacular, nothing horrifying. I saw the end of the opener and was bummed when Jon Lester gave up that homer to Nelson Cruz. I missed the 2nd game but saw the start of Game 3.
I was happy to see the Fenway crowd boo the hell out of Milwaukee's Ryan Braun yesterday during opening day in Boston, even though the Brewers won 6-2.
Say what you want, but Boston sure does put on a good opening day show, particularly after a World Series win.
I know there are those who are already breaking down stuff about these four games and will predict greatness or divine tragedy for the season but for me, it is just far too early to have an opinion on how I think the team will do this year.
Plus, I'm a Red Sox fan, my default setting is hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
By the way, here's a look at the World Series ring:
CBI Tournament - The best of 3 series between Siena and Fresno State came down to the final game on Saturday.
After splitting the first two games, it was the Siena Saints (the alma mater of one of my cousins) who put the 81-68 beatdown on Fresno State to win the 2014 CBI Championship.
WNIT - It was Rutgers vs. UTEP for the WNIT championship on Saturday afternoon. Rutgers went up big, but blew the lead. The game was tied with 8 seconds left before they went the length of the floor for a layup with 2.1 seconds left and went on to win the championship.
Tennessee Lady Vols - The Lady Vols season ended in the Sweet 16 with a loss to Maryland last weekend. They finish 29-6 and lose leading scorer Meighan Simmons to graduation.
The two biggest reasons for their loss were the 22 turnovers in the game and the fact that they had no defensive answer for Maryland's Alyssa Thomas. She scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Simmons led Tennessee with 31 points but Jasmine Jones was the only other player in double figures for scoring in the game. Bashaara Graves had 14 rebounds and Isabelle Harrison had 10 boards.
But with Simmons gone, the question becomes how do you replace her offense? And let's face it, Tennessee is no longer an ELITE team. They are very good and they have a lot of talent, but it doesn't seem to be the same quality as in past seasons.
And on the Rebkell message board, one poster even posed the question of whether it was time to move on from coach Holly Warlick or not. This was a ridiculous question in my mind. She's been there for decades of course, but she's only in her 2nd year as the head coach. And she's been reasonably successful. Not as successful as Pat Summitt (very few coaches ever could say that) and maybe not as successful as the fan base wants, but all in all she's done more than enough to stay in charge.
But there are things that need to be done. At times this season it seemed as if the team was completely out of synch. They failed to forge a distinct identity. Sure they mostly beat the teams you expected them to, but the wins over the BIG programs were few and far between.
They need to find an identity that incorporates the talent they already have and the incoming freshman class. They've got Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison and Cierra Burdick in the post as well as seemingly underused Mercedes Russell. Andraya Carter took over as the point guard when Ariel Massengale just disappeared from the rotation. But their guards are definitely going to have to step things up immensely.
And in the recruiting wars, Tennessee simply has to start landing those high level blue chip players again. The ones currently heading to UConn, Stanford, Notre Dame and Baylor.
Otherwise, the Lady Vols will end up seeing a coaching change sooner rather than later. And the more you clear the tradition from the program the more the school's AD will be able to put his stamp on the program and he's already demonstrated he's less concerned about the women's teams at the school than he is about the men's teams.
Wake Forest - It's now official. The Demon Deacons have hired ex-Tulsa coach Danny Manning as the new men's basketball coach. In my coaching carousel post this week I noted about Manning being interviewed for the job and how I didn't think it was such a good idea to go to a program that is never really going to compete in the fully stacked at the top ACC.
Men's Final Four - I won't be able to include coverage of the 2nd national semi-final game, but Kevin Ollie and the UConn men's basketball team just destroyed my bracket.
After being down early, the Huskies dominated Florida and advanced to the national championship game. This is one hell of a turnaround for UConn who on March 8th got annihilated by Louisville and for sure looked like they were not even going to make the Sweet 16.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The spring sports season has gotten underway. I'll be keeping track of the Wareham girls track team, the JV and varsity softball teams for Wareham and the varsity girls softball team at Upper Cape.
While the track team hasn't started yet, Wareham's softball teams have.
The JV team won their season opener against Middleboro 4-3. Gabby is the catcher and she had a hit and a RBI in the game. She also threw out a runner at 2nd base.
The varsity team lost to Middleboro 7-0. Breanna had 2 hits. Rae-Lyn pitched giving up 5 hits with 8 K's. In their Friday afternoon game against GNB Voc-tech, Rae-Lyn got the loss on the mound as the Lady Bears rolled 13-2. Breanna had 3 hits in the loss.
As for Upper Cape, the girls team won their first two games, including a 22-5 win in Game 2. Unfortunately they lost to Bourne yesterday afternoon 6-5.
TV - This past Monday was the series finale of How I Met Your Mother and it was an so bad that it ruined the entire series for me.
This is what I wrote on Facebook about the finale:
"How do I feel about the How I Met Your Mother series finale? The show ended at 9:01 pm EST tonight and I was glad that I had never invested in the DVD sets of each season, because by 9:02 pm EST, I would've been listing them on eBay.
It took 9 years for them to tell this story and 60 minutes to absolutely F*CKING DESTROY IT. What a horrifically bad piece of crap final episode.
People should be ...ashamed of themselves and their ability to discern good from garbage if they thought this was a good way to end the show. And I mean both the fanbase and the people responsible for the show.
Much like the reboot Battlestar Galactica show, HIMYM becomes another series where the ending was such a catastrophic travesty, that I can never watch the series again.
And while, yes, it is JUST a TV show, I invested 9 years in it...the return on investment should've been better than what the ending was.
Just an abomination of a series finale."
The Walking Dead season finale last Sunday was excellent. Oh and the funny people populating the Net had a couple of good fake photos related to the show this past week. You can see them below. Believe me, if you are fan of the show you will TOTALLY get the meaning to each photo.
Game of Thrones starts tonight (9pm EST on HBO) and I'm really looking forward to that. Before that though, you can check out this hilarious NSFW Honest Trailer about the first three seasons.
Movies - I went and saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Friday. It was fantastic. A really great movie that combined all the expected heroics of a comic book movie and infused it with the great drama of both a political and spy thriller. It was extremely well done and one of the better Marvel Comics movies they have made. I'd pay to see it again in the theaters and it will be a must buy when it hits DVD.
I also saw 47 Ronin on PPV. It was a decent enough movie but I don't feel it was one that I'll end up watching multiple times.
Oh and I saw the Vince Vaughn "comedy" Delivery Man yesterday. It had moments of funny but the concept of the story doesn't really lend itself to a hour and 45 minute comedy movie. Especially when they try to cram in some relatively dramatic situations as well.
Comics - I'm a big comic book fan and one of my favorite comic writers is Peter David. I have boxes and boxes of all the comics he's written and even that isn't complete. And now he's returning to one of his previous characters. Marvel Comics is doing another Spider-Man 2099 series! Peter David wrote the first series and they are bringing him back for this one too. This of course means that I will be adding the title to my pull list when it gets solicited next month.
I picked up Volume 5 trade paperback of the series DMZ this week. Entitled "The Hidden War" it tells 6 smaller stories about characters both new and established. Unfortunately I didn't really connect with this round of the story much at all.
Books - I picked up the new Faye Kellerman book The Beast this week. It's the latest in her Peter Decker / Rina Lazarus mystery series.
Music - I'm a reader of Classic Rock magazine and each issue comes with a free CD that has about 15 songs on it from a variety of bands both new and old. Usually, there is one or two songs I like and the rest kind of just leave me feeling EHHHH about them. The latest CD has one particular song on it called "Julie (Hang Out a Little Longer). It's by Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band. I found it to be superb and made sure to mention it on FB. The band saw it and hit the like button on my comment. I thought I'd include a Youtube link to the song for you to hear it as well.
Also, you can check out the new Red Dragon Cartel video for the song "Shout It Out" below.
There was a lot of basketball action on Saturday. You had the women's tourney kicking off, the men's tourney setting half of the Sweet 16 brackets, and you had title games in Division 3.
In the Men's NIT, there was only one game schedule. Louisiana Tech beat Georgia by 8 points and with that win cost me the second of my Final Four picks.
The Women's NIT had 2 games on Saturday. I got them both correct when Colorado beat Southern Utah and Indiana beat Marquette.
In the men's Division 3 championship game, the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks wrapped up a 29-4 season in thrilling faction. Quardell Young drove the length of the floor, made the game winning basket with 0.9 seconds left in the game to give his team its second national championship in 3 years, beating Williams 75-73.
In the women's Division 3 championship, the FDU-Florham Devils learned what perfection is all about. They completed a 33-0 season with an 80-72 victory over Whitman and are the first NCAA women's basketball champions from the state of New Jersey.
The women's NCAA tournament ran close to form in Day 1 action yesterday. There were two upsets of note and overall I went 13-3 for the day.
In the Lincoln bracket, North Carolina State became the latest victim of the 5-12 curse that seems to affect the NCAA tournaments. They lost 72-57 to #12 BYU. There wasn't much else of note in this region except to note that the 104-100 final score in the DePaul-Oklahoma game indicates defense wasn't much of a priority for either team.
In the Stanford bracket, Florida State upset Iowa State 55-44. I saw the Seminoles play once this year when they crushed Boston College. Perhaps I should've had more faith in their abilities come tourney time.
The Notre Dame bracket played all 8 of their games yesterday and everything ran to form with the higher seed winning each game. Kentucky scored 106 points against Wright State and Oklahoma State had to go to overtime to beat FGCU by a point.
In the Louisville bracket, only 2 games were played. St. John's beat USC (the non-upset loss on my ledger) while my Tennessee Lady Vols beat Northwestern State 70-46.
In the first half of the game, Tennessee couldn't separate from NSU and led 22-20 at the break. They exploded for 48 points in the second half and their opponents couldn't keep up.
Isabelle Harrison, Mercedes Russell and Meighan Simmons (pictured below #10) each scored 12 points to lead the Lady Vols offense. Bashaara Graves had a game high 12 rebounds.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick missed the team's shootaround due to food poisoning but was on the sideline for the game.
The Lady Vols are now 53-0 all time in home games played during the NCAA tournament.
The post game press conference with coach Warlick is below.
In the men's NCAA tourney, the first candidate for the Cinderella moniker stepped forward and we had both boring and exciting basketball to watch.
In the South region, Florida rather easily beat Pittsburgh, while the Dayton Flyers got fitted for a glass slipper. In an ugly display of offensive, they managed to hang on and stun Syracuse 55-53 to advance to the Sweet 16. I had picked Syracuse to get to the Sweet 16 but after the way their regular season collapsed maybe I should've known better.
In the West Region, San Diego State dispatched North Dakota State by 19 points. The game was rather run of the mill and I ended up turning it off towards the end. Wisconsin managed to beat Oregon 85-77 to advance.
The Midwest region saw two butt-numbing games as Louisville beat Saint Louis and Michigan fully controlled Texas.
The East region was the wild and wooly action of the day portion of the bracket. Being an old fart, I fell asleep and missed the UConn upset of Villanova. But I did watch the Michigan State-Harvard game.
And while I have the Spartans in my Final Four bracket, I was rooting for Harvard as a home-stater should. When Harvard was down big, I was figuring it was just going to get worse for them. But they rallied back, basically punching the big bad bully Michigan State in the mouth. When Harvard hit a huge three pointer to take a 62-60 lead, I screamed my fool head off.
Unfortunately, the bully then laid the beatdown on the downtrodden as the Spartans went on an 8-0 run and never looked back. Final score was 80-73 in favor of Michigan State. Eh, I'm still alive in my bracket so that's good but I'm glad that Harvard showed they can play with anyone. There may not be moral victories come tourney time, but if you can't win...putting up a solid fight in front of a national audience is the next best thing.
It was a big week for BC this week as hockey and basketball were active and grabbing at least some of the headlines in the papers. They won some and they lost some.
But for the entire Boston College community, the biggest loss came when the news broke that one of their longtime employees (and BC grad) Dick Kelley had passed away after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS). He spent 22 years working in the BC Sports Information office and was a huge BC basketball supporter. You can read more here: http://www.bceagles.com/genrel/021414aaa.html
As for the sports teams, the hockey programs for both the men and the women saw a huge bit of success when each of them captured the annual Beanpot tournament. It's the local tournament held each year between BC, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern. The men's team won it for the fifth year in a row while the women picked up their second straight win.
Men's Basketball - The Eagles got beaten in the last second yet again this week. Against Georgia Tech, Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) hit a shot with 3.4 seconds left in the game to put BC ahead but the Yellowjackets nailed a 3 pointer with .7 seconds left and went on to win 74-71.
The loss drops Boston College to 6-18 on the season. Hanlan finished with 21 points and Ryan Anderson added 13. Joe Rahon scored 11 points, but with the team being outrebounded 31-17 for the game, the problem seems to be coming from everywhere but the offense.
Women's Basketball - The long spiral downward continued this week for the women's team. With Kristen Doherty still out with concussion like symptoms, the team once again was playing shorthanded. It's been a season long refrain, injuries sapping bodies from the available roster.
Last Sunday's game against Florida State was particularly disappointing. The Eagles were on the road and so was I. I had to take my mother to a baby shower but commandeered one of the TVs in the house and watched the game on NESN.
BC started out 12-6 but then FSU went on a 14-0 run to take command of the game, something they would never relinquish the rest of the way.
In the first half, BC was outrebounded 21-10 and turned the ball over 13 times (they were averaging 15 turnovers PER GAME.) Their interior defense was pathetic. Of the 35 points Florida State scored in the first half, 32 came in the paint. Katie Zenevitch (12 points, 5 rebounds) got exploited a number of times but even more depressing was just how bad Karima Gabriel played. She was a turnstile on defense, got her shot blocked EASILY, and turned the ball over a number of times.
Things just kept getting worse in the second half as FSU went on to win the game 72-55. They outrebounded BC for the game 46-22, including 24 offensive rebounds. Yes, you read that stat correctly. The Seminoles had more OFFENSIVE rebounds than BC had rebounds for the entire game.
While FSU's Natasha Howard had an outstanding game with 26 points and 11 rebounds, more impressive to me was the play of their point guard Cheetah Delgado. At five foot two, she's the smallest player in the ACC, yet with her speed she essentially slapped the BC defense around for the entire game. She had 6 points, dished out 15 assists and grabbed 9 rebounds. Can you believe it? The BC defense was so bad, that the smallest player on the floor had 9 boards!
While the game was pretty much nothing to really write home about, the Eagles did have one bright spot in the form of freshman Kelly Hughes. She tied her career high with 23 points and got 5 boards as well. She ended up picking up the ACC Rookie of the Week award later in the week.
By the way, you can check out the weekly press conference with coach Erik Johnson below.
On Thursday, the Eagles were at home facing off for the second time with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish haven't lost all season and that trend continued against the Eagles. After blowing them out by 40 points the first time around, I suppose the 82-61 loss suffered by BC is somewhat of an improvement. But the loss drops them to 12-13 on the season with a 3-9 ACC record.
Kat Cooper (pictured below) led the team with 13 points. Katie Zenevitch had 12 points and 8 boards. Nicole Boudreau added 9 points and 7 assists.
The post game press conference is below.
They play today against Syracuse and I'm supposed to be there with courtside seats. Hopefully I'll have a report to post afterwards.
Hartford - The Hawks dropped to 9-15 (6-5 in the AEC) after their loss to Maine 60-56. Deanna Mayza (pictured below) scored 17 points to lead Hartford. Amber Bepko finished with 10 points. Alyssa Reaves had 8 points and a career high 13 rebounds. You can see highlights of the game and the post game press conference below as well.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears split their two games this week. They beat Bradley 78-72 to start their week. Bry Snow (pictured below) had a career high 29 points to go with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Her sister Tyonna Snow scored 17 points.
On Friday night, Tyonna Snow was the only player in double figures (17 points) as MSU lost to Northern Iowa. They are now 12-11 on the season with a 7-5 conference record.
Tennessee - After their 81-53 victory over Vanderbilt this week, the Lady Vols stand at 20-4 (9-2 in the SEC). Meighan Simmons led the victory with 22 points. Isabelle Harrison had 18 points. Andraya Carter (pictured below) scored 11 points while Bashaara Graves had 6 points and 10 boards.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
You can check out my two high school basketball blog updates from the past week below.
The NBA is now on their All-Star Weekend break but before those not playing in that exhibition farce went their separate ways to presumably get some R&R from the season's grind, the Celtics had 3 games to play.
Last Sunday, the Mavericks knocked off Boston 102-91. Jeff Green led the offense with 18 points, but it was Rajon Rondo who provided the gas for the entire Celtics engine. He had 15 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds.
Chris Johnson added 14 points and Jared Sullinger tallied 11 points and 12 boards. He was also later named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Kris Humphries chipped in 10 points.
The Celtics beat then beat the Bucks 102-86. Jeff Green had 29 points and Kelly Olynyk had 14 points and 11 rebounds. With Rajon Rondo getting another DNP for "rest", Phil Pressey stepped up with 13 points. Jared Sullinger scored 13 points as well and had 10 boards. Brandon Bass finished with 12 points and 7 boards.
Boston then closed out the figurative first half of their season with a 104-92 loss to the Spurs. Rondo had 16 points to top the scoring column. Kelly Olynyk had 15 points and 10 boards. Brandon Bass added 12 points and Jerryd Bayless finished with 11 points. Green had 10 points.
The loss has the Celtics at 19-35. It's a bad record but in terms of what the Celtics had in mind, not bad enough. Boston Herald sportswriter Gerry Callahan even wrote an article that basically implored GM Danny Ainge be more proactive in making the team worse. He used the line from the first Rocky movie "He doesn't know it's a show, he thinks its a damn fight" to punctuate the point that coach Brad Stevens has been too damn good for the team's own good (read, high draft pick hopes).
While I understand the plan is to be bad enough to get Jabari Parker or one of the other two potential great team changing players expected to be in the next NBA draft, the fan in me finds myself disgusted by other people who WANT to lose. I know losing now to win big later is the plan and the logical part of my brain gets that. But purposely trying to be bad enough to lose and lose often...ARGHHHH!
Besides the 1980 Miracle on Ice US hockey victory over the Russians, I've spent the week try to figure out what my favorite Winter Olympics moment was. And I figured it out. I watched it as it happened and I was simply blown away by the figure skating performance of Sarah Hughes during the 2002 Olympics. She was ranked 3rd out of the three US skaters at the Games and was in fourth before the long program. And then she went out and delivered one of the most amazing skates I've ever seen. It was technically awesome and the zest she delivered it with brought the house down. And when she found out that she'd pulled off an amazing upset, her unbridled scream of joy was electric!
You can see her long program skate below followed by another link that shows all of the skates and her reaction (and that of her coach) about 34 minutes into the second video.
I remember being glued to the screen during her performance and actually cheering as she finished. And a "HOLY SH*T!" escaped my lips when she was announced as the winner. Just a classic moment.
As for the current Winter Olympics, I missed the first period on Saturday morning but caught the last two periods, overtime and the shootout between the US and Russian hockey teams.
The US caught a break late in the third period when a Russian goal was disallowed, but this was a heck of a game. With Doc Emrick on the call, everything seemed so intense. This game showed exactly why I love Olympic hockey. Each attempt in the shootout was so epic and when T.J. Oshie drilled a shot past the Russian goalie on the 8th attempt between the two teams, the US picked up the win! Can I get a HELL YEAH!!!!
TV - The television world lost one of its best known dads this week when actor Ralph Waite died at the age of 86. For those who grew up on the 1970's family dramas, you will remember him as John Walton, the patriarch on The Waltons. In recent years, he's appeared on the soap opera Days of our Lives as well as playing the father of Gibbs on NCIS and the grandfather of Booth on Bones.
Music - One of the upcoming CDs I'll be reviewing is the House of Lords album Precious Metal. The band has released a video for the song "Battle" and you can check it out below.
Books - I picked up the Rhys Bowen mystery The Family Way this week. It is the latest paperback release in her Molly Murphy series. The series is set in the early 1900's with Irish immigrant Murphy as she winds her way as an unlikely PI in New York. Each book has been highly entertaining and I'm so glad I discovered her books.
I also discovered by virtue of an excerpt printed in Sports Illustrated that there is a new book about the 1985 Chicago Bears out. It's called Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football. The author is Rich Cohen and after reading that excerpt, I am definitely adding it to my want list.