While heading off to see the Boston College women's basketball team play this afternoon...
BOSTON RED SOX
The hot stove season kicks things off this week thanks to a trio of moves involving the Red Sox.
Times flies when you are basking in the glow of a World Series championship don't it? Almost from the minute the final out was recorded, the planning for next season began and it was with the knowledge that more than a few players that helped bring the unlikely title to Boston would not be returning.
The biggest name involved was outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. His departure was not unexpected. In fact it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would be leaving the Red Sox. He was looking a huge deal and with the Red Sox being burned once by that 7 year $142 million dollar deal that they gave to Carl Crawford, there was no way they would go down that road again with the sadly oft-injured Ellsbury.
I'm all for players getting as much money as they can in a deal and while I'm disappointed and yes a little mad when players spurn the Boston area teams, I usually handle the disappointment fine. But after signing a 7 year $153 million dollar deal with the freaking Yankees I'm just a big beyond the "irritated" marker on the chart.
The Yankees? The FREAKING Yankees? While most of the people I know via Facebook were chanting that they hope he gets hurt, I dealt with this "betrayal" by Ellsbury not with wishing him physical harm (because that's flat out wrong), but rather a miserable year at the plate.
Another cog in the title team left this week as well. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia agreed to join the major league baseball verson of Dante's Inferno (aka the Miami Marlins) with a 3 year 21 million dollar deal. While is decision making ability might be in question going from a title winner to a team that makes licking the butt crack of a dead rhinoceros look favorable by comparison, it is sad to see him go.
But the news isn't all about watching players leave Boston. The Red Sox signed reliever Edward Mujica to a 2 year deal. He looks to be used as a set up man after spending most of last season as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 37 saves but lost the closer's job in September and didn't so much as step on the field of play during the World Series.
Then came last night's news...Mike Napoli is back! The hirsute one signed a 2 year 32 million dollar deal to come back to Boston. This is good news because I figure you need to try to hold on to at least some of the people who made last year both successful and fun.
The town Pop Warner football team, the Wareham Tigers, are currently in Florida as the B Squad is competing for the Pop Warner Super Bowl title. It is only the second time in the history of the Tigers they've qualified for the trip to Disney World, but the very first time they were able to raise the money necessary to make the trip. Through a myriad of donations, including one from Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots, they raised the money in about 3 days and were on their way.
Their first game was yesterday afternoon against the Gilroy Browns from California. Wareham led 14-12 at halftime and 20-12 in the third quarter. But the Browns rallied back and ended up winning the game 28-20.
The Celtics started the past week with a 92-85 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a bit of a depressing loss in that the Bucks had lost 11 games in a row heading into the matchup with the Celtics. The loss came despite a huge game from Jared Sullinger (21 points, 14 boards). Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green each finished with 18 points.
But things turned around for Boston in the back end of the home and home series with the Bucks. They took that second game 108-100 behind 25 points from Crawford. Green scored 18 points and Brandon Bass had 16 points and 9 boards. Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee all finished in double figures as well.
The most amazing thing about the win was it gave the Celtics the lead in the Atlantic Division. In terms of the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference, it is a bit of an embarrassment that a team with an 8-12 record at this point is your division leader but for Celtics fan, first place is first place.
Friday night's game against the Denver Nuggets saw the Celtics open up the game with a 14-0 run, score a season high 39 points in the first quarter and then nearly squander a 27 point lead before finally holding off Denver 106-98. They are now 9-12 on the season and continue to surprise with each game. They may have a losing record but this team isn't anywhere near as bad as most thought it would be.
Crawford had 22 points and 8 assists while the barely ever heard from Kris Humphries added 18 points and 7 boards. Avery Bradley added 18 points as well. Jeff Green finished with 15 points while Brandon Bass scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the situation with the Brooklyn Nets grew worse this week. The losing continues apace and with the all but in name only firing of assistant coach Lawrence Frank, the hiring of Jason Kidd is looking worse and worse by the day. You can read my take on the situation here: http://www.yougabsports.com/pt/Are-you-Kidd-ing-me.12-4-2013/blog.htm
By the way, don't forget that next Saturday is the annual Army-Navy game. It's a game that is always worth they hype regardless of what the record for either team is heading into the game. Hell, it is the one football game I can guarantee that my mother will watch beginning to end each year.
As for this week's games, I pretty much skipped the action because there weren't any games I was truly interested in during the afternoon. The SEC title game went to Auburn and Oklahoma upset Oklahoma State (I did see the end of that one).
But the two biggest games of note took place last night after I put this edition to bed and got off the computer. But if Florida State and Ohio State both win, we'll know who will play in the BCS title game and then there really isn't much to write about.
Hartford - The Hawks dropped to 1-7 on the season with a 62-49 loss to Quinnipiac. How they managed to lose this game comes down to free throws. It had to be that because Hartford shot better from the field overall and from three point range. They also won the battle of the boards 44-39. But they shot 9-13 from the foul line while Quinnipiac was 19-24. It doesn't explain everything going wrong with the Hawks, but it certainly covers most of the final margin of victory.
Deanna Mayza led the team with 13 points while Shanise Bultron had 10 points and 7 boards.
I'll be seeing the team play at Boston College this afternoon so hopefully I will gather some in person insight into exactly what is going wrong with their season.
Missouri State - Things are spiraling downward for the Lady Bears as well. Their loss to #7 Louisville wasn't entirely unexpected but I don't think 91-49 as the final score was what anyone was hoping for. Kenzie Williams had 13 points to lead the team in scoring while Tyonna Snow added 12 points. Desiree Phillips (pictured below) finished with a career high 11 points.
Next came Eastern Kentucky and despite playing a much closer game, the Lady Bears lost 65-61, dropping their record to 1-6. Tyonna Snow led the team with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 steals. Williams added 18 points and Bry Snow scored 11 points to go with 7 rebounds.
I'm not real familiar with the team's in their conference but at 1-6 before conference play, things don't look good so far in the first season under coach Kellie Harper.
I split my two leagues this past week. Thus far I'm 7-6 in both. While one team is still in the regular season, the other league is headed to playoffs this week. I qualified for that despite being in 5th place overall.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
I'm still trying to juggle around the various schedules for the girls basketball teams with ex-players of mine on their rosters. Hopefully I'll get it all straightened out soon.
In the meantime, the area paper announced their selections for the 2013 Girls Volleyball All-Star team. My former player Erica got an Honorable Mention.
The cool thing about that was she didn't know. So when I sent her a congratulatory message, she was very surprised. Of course, the paper did screw things up by leaving the "a" off her first name so it looked like ERIC had gotten the mention.
That's the feel good portion of this section. Now let's get on to the stupid teenagers part.
Have you ever heard of the hand gesture "the shocker"? No? Well, don't feel bad, neither had I. But apparently it is the latest "fad" all the kids are doing these days. I had to look up what the gesture meant. It turns out I knew what it was but under a different name. (If you look it up, be aware that it is a NSFW possibility.)
Three female high school players in Illinois got suspended after they made the hand gesture in their team photos. And the story took off from there...you gotta love social media, NOT.
Anyway, the thing that I have to wonder is why ANY female would be making this gesture as it really isn't all that complimentary towards a woman. I know that I'm a getting older every day guy and the mind of a teenage girl is something that I don't and don't want to fully understand but seriously, who thinks this is something worth doing?
Longtime readers of Sports Illustrated will remember the name Dr. Z. I'm sure. Paul Zimmerman was one of the premiere pro football writers for the magazine for a long time. But a series of strokes have effectively silenced him. This week, there was a nice thank you kind of article by SI.com writer Doug Farrar about Zimmerman. You can check it out here: http://nfl.si.com/2013/11/29/thank-you-dr-z-yours-truly-everybody/
Men's Hockey - The Eagles got back on the winning side of things when they took the first of a home and home series against New Hampshire 6-2. They ended up with a sweep of the two game set by knocking off UNH 2-1 last night.
Women's Hockey - Before heading off to a month long break, the women's hockey team faced off against Harvard on Saturday night. They skated to a 1-1 tie.
Football - While the team now sits and waits to see what bowl game they will be heading off to, the chances of Andre Williams winning the Heisman took an even bigger hit when Florida State QB Jameis Winston wasn't charge in that rape case he was mixed up in. Something seems fundamentally off when the fact you were EVER mixed up in a rape case doesn't disqualify you from winning the top award in college football, but I acknowledge that my opinion means absolutely nothing here.
As for seasonal awards, the Eagles were well represented when the All-ACC teams were announced this week. Williams, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and kicker Nate Freese made the 1st team. Tackle Matt Patchan made the 2nd team. Wide Receiver Alex Amidon, tackle Ian White, center Andy Gallick, defensive end Kasim Edebali and linebacker Steele Divitto all made the third team.
Men's Basketball - The Eagles got blown out by Purdue this week 88-67. The two teams were tied at 20 before the Boilermakers went on a 21-5 run that put the game firmly in their control. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) had 16 points while Olivier Hanlan had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Alex Dragicevich finished with 13 points as the Eagles fell to 3-5.
They face USC tonight.
Women's Basketball - The women's team had an early lead in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Wisconsin but didn't have nearly enough to hold off the Badgers and lost 74-59. Katie Zenevitch led the team with 17 points and 10 boards while Kristen Doherty scored 14 points and grabbed nine boards. Nicole Boudreau added 14 points.
I'll be seeing the team square off against Hartford this afternoon as my ticket finally arrived in the mail on Thursday. I'm hoping that they'll get the win and that I'll be able to talk more in depth about both teams in next week's column.
TV - Just a note that last week's mid-season finale of The Walking Dead was FANTASTIC.
Books - I finished the most recent Janet Evanovich paperback Notorious Nineteen this week. It is the latest in her Stephanie Plum series. The book was entertaining enough and had a couple of really laugh out loud sections, but I don't think I really enjoyed it as much as past installments.
I picked up two new novels this week as well. The first was the Star Trek tie in novel The Fall #4 - The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow. The second book is a thriller called Pursuit and it is written by author (and Academy Award winning actor) Gene Hackman.
Movies - I watched Red 2 on Friday night via PPV. I loved the original comic series the two movies have been based upon. But the films have almost nothing to do with the comic book's plot. I didn't really like the first movie but the second one seemed like it was going to be better. It really wasn't. If you watched the first movie, you can see the second one a single time and then never have to watch it again. It isn't necessarily bad, just kind of watch and forget it.
Music - If you read last weeks's column, you saw my review of the Benedictum CD Obey. Well, the follow up to that review is kind of interesting. I sent the link to the band's Facebook page and actually got a thank you message back from the singer. She also sent me a friend request from her own personal FB account. Guess she liked the review.
While anticipating the potential body count in one of my favorite TV shows tonight...
Have you been paying attention to the Celtics recently? The Saturday night game was too late to be included in the column this week, but there were three games over the past week and Boston picked up two wins. They are an unremarkable 7-11 as I write this but one thing that seems to be trending is the sudden scoring consistency of Jeff Green.
The week started with a 96-86 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. The team was led by Jordan Crawford's 21 points. Gerald Wallace had a big game with 17 points and Brandon Bass added 16 points. Jeff Green had 13 points and Courtney Lee finished with 11 points. Rookie Phil Pressey had a career high 8 assists.
Against the Grizzlies, the Celtics were completely out of sync in the first quarter and trailed 27-13 after one period. They actually managed to outscore Memphis in the second half, but the first half deficit was too much to overcome.
Green had 26 points and 7 boards to top the scoring column for the Celtics. Jared Sullinger had a huge game with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Avery Bradley scored 16 points. Bass was the top rebounder for Boston with 13.
Last night, the shoe was on the other foot for the Cleveland Cavaliers as it was the Celtics using the first quarter to blow out their opponents 28-10. The final socre was 103-86 and it was Green scoring a season high 31 points that led the way to victory. Bradley had 21 points. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger added 12 points apiece while Jordan Crawford had a triple double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
In looking over Green's recent production, you would see that since the November 20th game against San Antonio Green has averaged more than 22 points in the last 6 games. He's had a string of double figure scoring totals over the course of the season thus far, but he had back to back games of 2 and then 4 points and questions about his consistency arose as they have when he doesn't "step up". I've said much the same thing when I bring his name up.
But he seems to have recently found a new level. For me, being a consistent scorer doesn't necessarily mean you have to lead the team in scoring each game. But you do have to be in double figures and do it game after game. You have to be one of the players that can be "the man" in a game at any given time.
Questions about Green's consistency will likely still remain, but over the last 6 games, Green has seemed more comfortable with the expectations on him to be one of the main producers of offense for the Celtics.
And if that streak continues, it can only be a good thing for the fortunes of the Celtics season.
I had another crappy week in fantasy football. I went 0-2 for the week. One of the losses was the biggest blowout of the week in that particular league. I had a chance to win the second matchup but the failure of the players I had in the Monday night game to do anything statistically sent me to the second loss.
Oh well, try try and try again this week.
Mass Maritime - While the season is over for the Division 3 Buccaneers, postseason accolades are being announced. My ex-player E.J. was named an all-MASCAC first team selection.
In a game that featured just how the fortunes of a team can change drastically within a season, Texas beat Texas Tech 41-16.
If you haven't paid attention, Texas started the season off so badly that the defensive coordinator was fired and it looked like head coach Mack Brown was going to be following him out the door and not necessarily at the END of the season. But the Longhorns are now 8-3 and looking pretty good overall. Perhaps they aren't on par with their glory days but from the way they started to 8-3, it is a decent improvement.
As for Texas Tech, rookie coach Kliff Kingsbury started out 7-0 and was the toast of college football. One has to wonder what is being said about him now after 5 straight losses. The Red Raiders are still bowl eligible. But when they were 7-0, they looked like a team headed for a major bowl. Now, they are looking at something equivalent to the Poulan Weedeater Bowl.
It is not exactly a bold statement to say that college football coaches can be the living embodiment of the phrase "huge jackass". But Nebraska coach Bo Pelini seems to be redefining the qualifications. The Cornhuskers started out okay, but a blowout loss to UCLA didn't have many people happy. A loss to Minnesota in Week 9 wasn't good either. But after two big wins over Northwestern and Michigan, it looked like Pelini's hot seat was cooling off.
A loss to Michigan State wasn't too bad because the Spartans are one of the better teams in the country. But losing to Iowa (38-17) in the regular season finale was pretty bad. 8-4 is an unacceptable season for the Cornhuskers, and there has been a number of seasons under Pelini that have ended with 4 losses.
If the losses weren't bad enough, Pelini basically dared Nebraska to fire him at the post game press conference. They guy has failed at his job of bringing the Cornhuskers back to national title contender status and he's calling what he thinks is a bluff by the Nebraska administration?
The AD is publicly standing by the coach, but I am really unconvinced that will be the case after the school's bowl game, win or lose. I've always thought when a coach makes that kind of "if they don't like the job I'm doing, fire me" statement, that's exactly what a team should do.
I know the constant speculation on job security can be wearing on anyone, but if you blow up in public it makes you and the school look bad and a parting of the ways looks better than suffering through another season of will they or won't they.
San Jose State knocking off #16 and previously undefeated Fresno State 62-52 has to be one of the bigger upsets of the week. The win was huge for the team not just because of the upset over a ranked team, but it was also their 6th of the season making them bowl eligible.
SJSU quarterback David Fales (pictured below) had what had to be the game of his life with 547 passing yards and 6 TDs.
Of course Penn State beating #14 Wisconsin 31-24 was a big win in the otherwise kind of disappointing Nittany Lions season. I know they have 7 wins, but for some reason I think fans and observers alike were expecting a bit more from them this season.
Duke beat North Carolina 27-25 to finish the regular season 10-2. Coach David Cutcliffe (pictured below hugging player David Helton) was carried off the field by his players as they celebrated making the ACC championship game where they will face Florida State.
Other rivalry games - Ohio State beat Michigan 42-41 after the Buckeye defense intercepted the pass for a two point conversion with 32 seconds left in the game. It does raise the question of why you would try to score the go-ahead points instead of taking the tie in a big game such as this.
The Kansas State-Kansas game saw the Jayhawks lose 31-10. The only reason I brought up this game was at 3-9, what's the over-under on Charlie Weis coaching at Kansas next season?
When two teams are ranked inside the top ten, the lower ranked team winning still counts as an upset right? Well, no matter how you look at it, #10 South Carolina beating #6 Clemson 31-17 had to have the Gamecocks strutting like peacocks last night.
It's been a long long season for Hawaii. But they remain winless no longer after their 49-42 defeat of Army to finish 1-11. Quarterback Sean Schroeder (pictured below with coach Norm Chow) passed for 3 TDs and ran for another to run Hawaii's record against Army to 3-0.
Alabama - And the earth trembled. With a game for the ages in terms of competitiveness if not excellence of execution, the Crimson Tide blew chance after chance to put away the Auburn Tigers in the latest Iron Bowl.
A.J. McCarron passed for 3 TDs, T.J. Yeldon ran for 140 yards and a score and yet it was a horrible performance from the defense and special teams that doomed in stunning fashion the chances for a 3rd straight national title.
You'd think a McCarron 99 yard TD pass would be the play of the game but with a 109 yard return by Chris Davis after a missed Bama field goal with 1 second left, Auburn totally shook up the BCS field and won 34-28.
The Crimson Tide defense gave up 296 rushing yards (393 total). Auburn's QB Nick Marshall threw for 2 TDS and had 99 rushing yards and rushing TD.
The special teams were a disaster as kicker Cade Foster missed 3 field goals before being pulled for the second string kicker for that last 56 yard FG attempt. The sub kicker had taken just two kicks in his CAREER before the attempt.
Alabama had nothing in the way of fast guys on the field and when Davis ran the missed kick back, no one could catch him.
I've said all year that Alabama was the best team in the country because they started at #1 and never lost. But the Tigers got two miracles in the last two weeks and enlivened that "War Damn Eagle" cry.
There's just nothing to say. Bama blew their multiple chances and Auburn took advantage to mark the biggest upset of the weekend.
Congratulations to the Tigers.
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The holiday tournaments were underway this Thanksgiving weekend as teams head all over the country and even out of the country for their next round of games.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears weren't headed to any holiday tournaments. They dropped to 1-4 after losing on their home floor to Quinnipiac 75-65. Kenzie Williams led the team with 15 points while Hannah Wilkerson had 12 points.
While the start has been less than auspicious for coach Kellie Harper, she did have some fantastically joyous news to share on November 27th. She gave birth to her first child, Jackson Kenneth Harper. Congratulations to Kellie and her husband/assistant coach Jon Harper.
Hartford - Another team that has seen their season get off to a rather disastrous start, the Hawks got blown out twice this week and lost a total of three times and stand at 1-6 on the year.
The first loss was to Central Connecticut State, where they lost 82-50. Alyssa Reaves and Alyssa Englert scored 11 points apiece to lead Hartford.
A brief "highlight" and post game comments video can be seen below.
Hartford then went on the road to play in the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament where they faced Missouri in the first round. The Hawks got 11 points from Cherelle Moore but shot just 32.7% from the floor in their 68-45 loss.
In the consolation tourney game on Saturday, it was a closer game, but St. Francis (NY.) captured the 56-49 win. Freshman Morgan Lumb (pictured below) had a career high 16 points to lead Hartford while Amber Bepko finished with 12 points.
I'd like to weigh in with an opinion on what exactly is going on with the Hawks, but for a change, I simply can't. I don't understand why they are playing so badly. They seem to have players who can make something happen, but nothing seems to be coming together for them as a whole. I might be able to say something more once I see them play next Sunday (December 8th) when they visit Boston College.
Tennessee - The Lady Vols ran off three wins this past week and remained undefeated at 7-0. They blew out Oakland 84-50 behind 15 points and 11 boards from Bashaara Graves. Meighan Simmons had 14 points and Ariel Massengale scored 13 points while dishing out 6 assists.
The team then jetted off to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam tournament. In the first game, they held off Virginia 76-67. Meighan Simmons (pictured below) exploded for 32 points (including 8 three pointers) and 5 assists.
Massengale had 10 points and a career high 13 assists. Cierra Burdick added 10 points and 6 boards.
In the tournament final, the Lady Vols just demolished SMU as they captured the tourney title 87-47. Ariel Massengale had 16 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds and Jasmine Jones (pictured below) had 13 points. Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Speaking of buzzer beaters, there was a rather huge one in a New York high school playoff game between New Rochelle and Mount Vernon back in March 2013. I remember seeing the shot when it happened. Sports Illustrated had a really good article about the game, the shot and the principals involved that appeared in the most recent issue. You can check out the story (and video) via this link (you have to watch a quick video to unlock the story on the SI.com website): http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20131127/new-rochelle-the-shot/index.html
BOSTON COLLEGE NOTEBOOK
Women's Soccer - The BC women's soccer team beat Illinois last Sunday 4-1 to advance to this past Friday's Elite Eight game against #3 Florida State. Unfortunately for the Eagles, their season came to an end with a 4-0 loss to the Seminoles. They finish with a 13-10-1 record.
Men's Hockey - The Eagles found themselves on the wrong end of two losses this week. They dropped at 5-1 game to Maine and then fell short of a huge comeback and lost to Holy Cross 5-4 after spotting them a 4-1 lead. It was the first loss ever to a team from the Atlantic Hockey conference. They are 8-4-2 on the season now.
Women's Hockey - In the first of back to back games against #3 Cornell, the Eagles lost 2-0 but rebounded last night to win 4-1 and raise their record to 12-4-1.
Women's Volleyball - With consecutive 3-1 losses to Syracuse and Notre Dame, the Eagles season came to a close with a 9-23 record.
Men's Basketball - Ryan Anderson (pictured below 1st) scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to power the Eagles to a 75-67 overtime win against Sacred Heart. With a 3-4 record, the Eagles are in the midst of a weeklong break for Thanksgiving.
Joe Rahon (pictured below 2nd) finished with 19 points, including 9 in the overtime period. Olivier Hanlan had 15 points.
Women's Basketball - The women's team was off to Mexico for three games in the Cancun Challenge over the holiday weekend.
According to a tweet from coach Erik Johnson, he made the mistake of drinking the water and ended up having to visit TWO hospitals for reasons you can probably suss out for yourself.
Also, with the school running their annual Thanksgiving weekend ticket sale, I was able to pick up tickets to a couple more games. And I paid just $1 a ticket and I'll be seeing games against North Carolina and Syracuse to go along with that December 8th game against Hartford I mentioned above.
As for the games in Cancun, the Eagles blew out UNC-Wilmington 75-54 with Kristen Doherty scoring 13 points to top the scoring chart for BC. Kat Cooper had 12 points and Kelly Hughes added 11 points and 8 boards.
Game two of the tourney was against Iowa. The Hawkeyes came away with a 78-68 victory despite 18 points (including a career high 5 threes) and 5 rebounds from Kelly Hughes. Kristen Doherty (pictured below leading the pack) had 16 points and Lauren Engeln added 11 points.
The odd thing about the Eagles losing this game was that they shot better from the 3 point range and won the battle of the boards. The overall shooting percentages for both teams were pretty close as well.
The final game of the three game set was against USC and the Trojans just trounced the Eagles in the first half. It was 45-18 at the break as BC couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. It was UGLY as they fell to 3-4.
The terrible thing about playing so bad in the first half is that it makes the fact they played USC even (34 points eas) in the second half. 79-52 was the final score and shows just how far the Eagles have to go.
Kristen Doherty and Katie Zenevitch each scored 12 points to pace the Eagles.
Football - The regular season came to a stunning and disappointing end last night for the Eagles. They were ahead 31-27 late in the game but Syracuse marched down the field and scored the go ahead TD with just 6 seconds left in the game and won 34-31. The loss drops BC to 7-5 while Syracuse becomes bowl eligible with their 6th win of the season.
With their most potent offensive weapon out of the game, it was up to QB Chase Rettig to be more than a game manager. His numbers weren't outstanding but he had the results that had the Eagles in the lead late. He was just 11-19 for 168 yards with an INT. But he also threw for 2 TDS. Going above and beyond normal level of expectations, he had 85 yards rushing (including a 54 yard run) and scored on a 1 yard run.
The biggest failure on the day was the Eagles defense. Despite getting a sack and an INT, they gave up 480 yards in total offense (270 rushing yards). The failure to get stops when they needed it is what will be seen as the main sticking point for the loss.
Thanksgiving - I had a pretty good meal on Thursday. All the traditional foods (except stuffing which no one in my family likes) were on the menu with two kinds of pie for dessert. We all helped out in the preparation of the food before devouring the finished product!
I actually didn't go to the neighbor's for dessert like we usually do.
Xmas - With the Black Friday kickoff to holiday shopping season, I am happy to say that other than regular weekly spending, the only extra spending I did was for those BC women's basketball tickets I mentioned above. I only went out once on Black Friday and it was horrible so I've never done it again.
Speaking of horrible...do you remember last week's Sunday Musings when I talked about my plan to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Tuesday? I've been watching the show for decades and on Tuesday I actually realized something I'd never caught before.
Did you know that there is a murder at the end of the show? I'm not kidding, there really is a murder in the 49 year old holiday special.
At the very end, when the elf is dumping the toys out of the sleigh. He gives them an umbrella. But then he gets to one of the misfit toys. It's the bird...but he can't give him an umbrella, so he just lets the bird go. Except the bird is the one that can't fly, he swims! J'ACCUSE! Murder most ahem "fowl"!
Other than watching the holiday movies on the various channels (Hallmark, Hallmark Movie, Lifetime, etc.), I don't usually do anything Christmas related (shopping doesn't count either, I do that all year long) until December 1st. So today will be the first day I pull out my Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas CDS and play them a number of times over the next month.
You can check out the band's big instrumental hit "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12-24" below. Though I always make it a point to acknowledge that the song was originally recorded by the heavy metal band Savatage from which TSO became a side project of before becoming the monster holiday hit that it is. The song was on the Savatage concept album Dead Winter Dead but when they sent the song to radio stations, no one would play it. And now it is a big holiday rotation hit.
TV - Tonight is the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. It looks like it is going to be a bloodbath too with some scenes appearing to be lifted straight from the comics.
Music - I got the new Chastain CD Surrender To No One this week via a download link from the record company releasing the disc. I'll be reviewing it at a later date. But you can check out the title track here:
In between doing my part in cooking the Thanksgiving meal yesterday, I kept up to date on the various high school football scores for teams that I have been following.
Here's the round up:
Newton North - Okay, I didn't really follow this team. But my mother graduated from the school and she usually wants to know how they did on Thanksgiving Day. This year, it was a good ending to the season for them as they rolled over Brookline 49-8.
Upper Cape - The game was over nearly as soon as it began. The Upper Cape Rams put 34 points on the board in the first quarter alone as they crushed Cape Tech 55-14.
In reading the article's box score I saw that just one of my ex-players made any kind of statistical mark in the game. Josh ran twice for 2 yards.
Old Rochester - The Bulldogs feature two of my ex-players in their lineup, brothers Richie and Raekwon.
The faced the high powered offense of Apponequet in their game yesterday. Apponequet had been averaging over 40 points a game. But yesterday it was the Bulldog defense that ruled the day as ORR won the game 14-6. The win closes out their record at 10-1 and captures the team's first SCC title since 2002.
Richie ran for 103 yards on 16 carries. He scored a TD on a 1 yard run in the second quarter.
With the football season mostly over besides the state title games in each division, my own personal attentions now turn to the high school basketball season.
There's five teams that I'm following on the girls side and I've spent part of last night and this morning trying to track down the schedule information so that I can figure out which of my ex-player's teams I'm going to see and when.
There's Savahna at Bristol-Plymouth. The school's full schedule hasn't been posted online but the majority of it has and before the schedule pruning begins, there are potentially 5 home games and 1 away game that I will look at going to. The away game is against Middleboro and I'm pretty positive I'll make that game. I know the coach of Middleboro, who spent the last 3 seasons coaching at Sturgis East. I see him from time to time and he's the one who told me they play B-P twice this season.
Speaking of Sturgis East, I may be going back down there to see some games. It all depends on whether or not Isabella tries out for the team this year. She wasn't going to because she didn't like playing for the coach (the guy now at Middleboro). But when she found out that he wasn't coming back, she said that she might go out again. I'm trying to find out what her plans are. Either way, I'm still waiting for their schedule to be posted online.
Old Rochester has my player Jillian on the team. She was on the JV team last season (she made varsity but playing time was nearly nil, so they dropped her down). This year, the Bulldogs have lost a bunch of seniors and their best returning player went to private school instead. So I'm hoping Jillian makes varsity this year. Thankfully, the entire ORR schedule has already been posted online and I've checked off the 10 home games plus one away game to potentially attend.
This might be the last truly good Wareham team this season for the girls. The best players on the team are all seniors and while they do have some upcoming individual talent (including my ex-player Gabby who will likely be playing on the JV team as an 8th grader), questions abound about the overall talent beginning next season.
But for now, there are at least 4 players I had a hand in coaching that will be on the varsity team. I've marked off 10 home games and 1 away game to look into making an appearance at. And I'll go to some of the JV games since that's where I'll see Gabby play.
I still don't even know who the coach is for Upper Cape this year. The guy who coached the last two seasons had applied for a boys slot that he didn't get. There was rumors of a new coach being brought in but I've heard nothing by way of confirmation.
With my ex-player Allison now graduated, there are just three ex-players of mine (not counting freshmen players I don't know about yet) in the program. Michaela will be on varsity. Ann Marie (if she makes the team) will be on JV. As for Laurina, I know she is hoping to make varsity but also knows that it might not happen because of the talent level. I know she doesn't want to be "stuck" on JV as a junior, but if she does make varsity and then doesn't really see the floor she'll be pretty ticked off too.
Only a partial schedule is up right now, so I've only marked off 7 games to look at going to so far this season.
The school began running their Thanksgiving Weekend ticket sale last night at 10pm. You could save up to 50% off tickets for the men's and women's basketball teams as well as the men's hockey games.
And they ran Doorbuster specials for the first two hours where you could get even cheaper prices on the tickets. I took advantage of that and picked up tickets to go see the women's basketball team twice more this season. I got tickets for $1 a piece to see the Eagles play North Carolina and Syracuse.
While wondering if she really missed me with that "Where have you been?" comment or just wondered where I'd gotten to on general principle...
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
The Higher Standard?
It made the national news broadcast and even got a front page link on Yahoo and Sports Illustrated. But I'm not sure how many people really read about the story of the Lunenburg football team forfeited the rest of their season (two games) after a player's home was vandalized with racist graffiti.
While it has been strongly suggested that some of the team was involved, there has been no confirmation about this at all. And they are of course painting the whole team with the brush of racism instead of trying to find out if there were players involved AND which ACTUAL players.
Of course, the last of the two games being canceled is the Thanksgiving Day game. Now, don't think I'm not sympathetic to the idea of anyone being targeted over their race. Of course I am. But I think a little common sense should've prevailed here.
And that should have included NO forfeiting of games. Unless you can say who did what, why are you effectively punishing everyone? You know, including the innocent that everyone purports to be protective of.
The targeted player's father was quoted as saying it was right that the game was canceled. To that I say, "BS!"
While your kid should not be subjected to such idiocy, aiding and abetting the idiocy by canceling a game that the innocent parties were looking forward to is ignorant as well.
I look at it this way. For many high school seniors, the Thanksgiving Day game is their last game. They went through four years and that last Turkey Day game is their "Senior Moment".
And I'll tell you, if it was me that got denied the chance to play that one last game over something I didn't do, I'd be raising holy or unholy hell.
Sure I know people will say that I'm not supportive of the kid who got targeted. But the fact of the matter is now I would be the one being targeted. I'm being looked up as guilty by assumed association. And we all know what happens when you assume...
By canceling the game, you are holding the innocent parties to the lower standards of the morons who painted the graffiti in the first place. And for me, that is a HUGE problem. It seems everything these days is solved by cutting and running, instead of confronting said issue.
I used to coach in the community I live in. Besides having a yearly background check, you are effectively held to a higher standard or at least should be. And I had no problem with that. But I despise the notion of being held accountable for something I didn't do and so should those Lunenburg players.
It is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure option people. Will you allow yourself to be held to a lower standard of expectations or aspire to the Higher Standard?
Speaking of lower standards, is there any way for Alex Rodriguez to become more of a pansy in the eyes of the public? Is there yet another new low for this repugnant piece of filth to discover?
From the successor to all that was good and worth honoring in the history of baseball to pariah beyond measure. That is how far he has fallen so far.
And after his prima donna performance of a childish temper tantrum at the arbitration hearing and staged radio interview this week, if there is anyone out there who thinks that he isn't both guilty and a total tool, you really need to be given an actual lobotomy to go along with your metaphorical one.
And now for a palate cleanser from the distasteful leadoff to the column. I went 2-0 in the fantasty football matchups last week. I'm in third place in one league and fourth place in the other. It was a good week that featured a come from behind Monday win in one of the leagues.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
As everyone else has written over the course of the last week, the Patriots got hosed but good on Monday Night Football last week. Because I have a jam packed Monday TV schedule, I was watching my regular programs and only caught bits and pieces of the game until the final 8 minutes or so of the 4th quarter.
But since it really all came down to the very last play of the game, I can't say I missed most of what was worth watching.
I know that Carolina was on their hot streak and looking to continue it. I know the Patriots were looking to continue to establish themselves as a top rung team despite lower rung talent.
And for the most part, everyone got to see a real heavyweight battle. And let me be clear, the Panthers were the better team on the night. They did outplay the Patriots. And of course New England helped by redefining what it means to not tackle properly, well or even at all.
But the makeup of the game before the final play became moot because of said final play. The crowd in attendance and the viewing audience at home all saw it. Luke Kuechly should've been penalized for holding Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. Or pass interference. Or faceguarding.
Oh wait, he was penalized. The back judge threw the flag. But then all hell broke loose when the rest of the crew browbeat him into taking back the flag. Which was preposterous!
Explanations from both sides of the call were quickly given but anyone who watches the video knew the truth. And those arguing in favor of no penalty should be immediately fired for incompetence.
There's no saying that the Patriots would've won the game with the untimed down and one final play they should've gotten. It's 50-50 no matter how you look at it. But they should've gotten the chance.
Most of America was happy that the Patriots got screwed because they hate New England. And that's fine. But the next time THEIR team gets screwed by a bad call (that the league actually tried to spin and defend as being correct), don't come crying to me.
Of course, Tom Brady's comment to referee Clete Blakman is probably the best summation of the end of the game: "That was F**king horrible, Clete".
The Celtics have officially cratered. After the four game losing streak to start the season and then a four game win streak. They've now lost 6 straight games, including three in the past week.
They went on the road to Texas where they went 0-2 with a loss to the Houston Rockets (which I read one article that said the team embarrassed themselves and the uniform). It probably says something when your leading scorer is the point guard off the bench Courtney Lee (17 points). But anyway you look at it, a 109-85 loss against a team that has that hack Dwight Howard on it, is bad.
When you follow that up with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs (104-93), you just hope you can get the hell out of Texas. There was a bit more of a concerted effort that produced some individual results at least. Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley each scored 19 points. Sullinger also added a career high 17 rebounds. But a loss is a loss.
On Friday night, Boston played the Indiana Pacers. Other than the Miami Heat, Indiana is probably the best team in the league both on paper and on the court. And the Pacers showed the Celtics their place in the pecking order, coming away with a 97-82 victory.
Jordan Crawford had 24 points and Jeff Green actually strung together two high scoring games with a 20 point performance. Sullinger added 13 points.
A 4-10 record pretty much reveals just how good or bad a team is. And that good feeling of 4-4 has completely evaporated. It wasn't entirely unexpected, but you can't blame a guy for hoping the team would be better than projected.
But for a change I don't have to end a section about the Celtics on a down note. After 6 straight losses, the Celtics close out their week on a high note. They took on the Atlanta Hawks last night and despite trailing by 10 points at the start of the 4th quarter, blew the doors off the Hawks in that last frame (30-13) and took the 94-87 win. The win ups their record to 5-10.
The Celtics were keyed by Brandon Bass. He returned to the starting lineup and finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. All five starters, plus Vitor Faverani off the bench, hit double figures. Jeff Green hit for 16 points, Jared Sullinger had 15 points and 9 boards and Jordan Crawford had 12 points and 10 assists.
For fans of the classic days of pro wrestling it was a sad bit of news this week. Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon passed away at the age of 84. Besides his 13,000 match professional career, he also represented Canada in the 1948 Olympics.
Remember the Duke lacrosse rape scandal? The one where the accuser turned out to be a liar of epic proportions? Well, it seems that she is now on her way to jail. She was convicted second degree murder.
Everyone immediately assumed she was telling the truth when the Duke story broke and it turned out she was less believable than Alex Rodriguez. But nothing really happened to her despite multiple chances to nail her for her lies.
After EA Sports and College Licensing Co. settled their portion of the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit, I suppose it was a matter of time before the National Communists Against Athletes...err...the NCAA turned on them like they do on the athletes they claim to care about and represent.
They've filed a lawsuit against EA Sports and CLC saying "CLC failed to adequately supervise EA Sports, subjecting the NCAA to “potential liability in several lawsuits currently being litigated relating to EA’s alleged use of NCAA student athletes’ names, images, and likenesses in EA’s NCAA-themed video games.”
In today's crazy story of the week comes the news of one of the most successful high school girls basketball coaches in the country resigning after, I kid you not, biting one of his players on her face.
Do you remember the teen queen singer from the 1980's Debbie Gibson? I certainly do. I am a hard rock and heavy metal guy for the most part, but in moments of niceness, I was a fan of Debbie Gibson. I still have some of her albums too.
Well, she was apparently brought out to perform at the New York Knicks game on November 14th. And the now 42 year old Debbie Gibson totally rocked a sparkly teeny tiny leotard for her performance. So totally yummy!
My favorite basketball player, Katie Smith, retired at the end of this past season. I was on the lookout for a new favorite team since I supported whichever team she was playing for. I moderately supported the Chicago Sky because ex-Boston College star Carolyn Swords is on the team. And while I will still do that, it looks like I'll be staying to root for the New York Liberty as well.
It's a bit funny that both Smith and Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd begin their coaching careers in New York and both with no prior coaching experience. Although at least Smith has the sense to begin learning the ropes as an assistant.
Back when both were Olympic athletes, they once shared a trading card!
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
It was a big week for the teams that I follow in college basketball but not all in a good way.
Hartford - The Hawks got trounced by Providence 79-53. They committed a season high 25 turnovers and shot just 33.3% from the floor. Morgan Lumb (pictured below) had a team high 11 points while Deanna Mayza and Cherelle Moore added 10 points apiece.
You can check out highlights of the game and postgame comments from coach Jennifer Rizzotti in the video below.
The team followed the loss to the Lady Friars with a 63-59 loss to UMass. The loss drops the Hawks to 1-3 on the season.
Amber Bepko (15 points and 9 boards) and Cherelle Moore (10 points) combined to lead Hartford's offense. But they got out rebounded 41-32.
Highlights of the game and the post game press conference are below.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears fell to 1-3 on the season with two losses this week.
Against IUPUI, they fell 76-65 despite 16 points from Kenzie Williams (who was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week). Tyonna Snow had 12 points and 6 boards while Bry Snow had 10 points and 6 boards. Hannah Wilkerson (pictured below) had 10 points.
Friday night's game against Arkansas was a 78-44 blowout in favor of the Razorbacks. The Bears shot just 26.9% from the floor. Tyonna Snow had 14 points to lead MSU in scoring. Kenzie Williams added 12 points.
Tennessee Lady Vols - The Lady Vols ran their record to 4-0 with an 87-76 win over Georgia Tech this week. Bashaara Graves (pictured below) had 23 points and a career high 18 rebounds to power the Lady Vols to the win. Meighan Simmons added 13 points and Mercedes Russell had 14. Isabelle Harrison finished with 10 points and had a career high 18 rebounds.
The team's 65 rebounds is the most they had in one game since 1996.
Meanwhile, Ariel Massengale was named both SEC and NCAA player of the week.
On Friday, the school held the dedication ceremony for Pat Summitt Plaza where they unveiled a statue of Summitt. I'm not crazy about the look on the statue's face, but you can't say Summitt wasn't worthy of the immortalization.
A couple of blowout games caught my eye when I saw the final scores. North Carolina became bowl eligible by beating Old Dominion 80-20. The game saw UNC set all-time school records for points and touchdowns (11) in a game and total yards (721). The game was such a blowout that the 4th quarter was shortened to just 10 minutes.
QB Marquise Williams (pictured below) had 409 passing yards, 5 TD passes (all in the first half) and ran for 60 more yards.
Coastal Carolina was 10-0 going into today's game with #12 South Carolina, but that was a thing of the past by the end of the game. It was 70-10 in favor of Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.
It was the most points put up by South Carolina since Spurrier took over the program. QB Connor Shaw (pictured below) played less than 1 quarter of action as the South Carolina rolled up 639 yards of total offense. He had one passing TD and one rushing score.
It is simply another case of one team not belonging on the same field as the other. I'm actually amazed Coastal Carolina put any points on the board.
And just when you thought that might be the biggest blowout of the weekend, Florida State comes along and in the looming shadow of the possible Jameis Winston criminal case, just blew the doors off Idaho 80-14.
Oh, and in the annual Harvard-Yale clash "The Game", Harvard rolled to a 34-7 win.
Alabama - Heading into next week's big SEC showdown in the Iron Bowl with Auburn, the Crimson Tide got their game on with outclassed Chattanooga. The final score was 49-0.
A.J. McCarron (pictured below), playing his final home game, left the game after the first drive of the second half. He became 36-2 as a starter, breaking the tie he was in with Jay Barker. He threw for 171 yards and 2 TDs (one to Kevin Norwood and one to Amari Cooper).
Kenyan Drake ran for 77 yards and a score (which is shown below), but T.J. Yeldon appeared to have the day off as he didn't appear in the box score.
It was the third shutout of the season for Alabama and their special teams blocked a field goal attempt by Chattanooga. The defense picked off one pass and recovered a fumble.
BOSTON COLLEGE NOTEBOOK
Women's Soccer - The women's soccer team knocked off #10 Nebraska 4-1 on Friday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The win advances BC to the Sweet 16 for the 9th time in school history.
They will play Illinois today at 2 pm.
Women's Hockey - After the team's 6-2 win over UConn yesterday, they are now 11-3-1 on the season.
Women's Volleyball - After dropping consecutive matches 3-0 to Georgia Tech and Clemson, the team falls to 9-21 on the season.
Men's Basketball - It was a relatively successful week for the Eagles. Things started off with the team notching their first win of the season. They beat Florida Atlantic 82-79 behind 38 points from Olivier Hanlan. Joe Rahon added 17 points and 7 boards.
Against #18 UConn, the Eagles missed out on an upset with the Huskies escaping 72-70. Ryan Anderson had 22 points and 7 rebounds in the game while Hanlan (pictured below) added 19 points. Alex Dragicevich finished with 10 points.
On Friday night, BC knocked off Washington 89-78 in a game that saw them hit 8 out of 11 three pointers in the first half. Joe Rahon (pictured below) led the team with 22 points (including 4 of those first half 3's). Hanlan had 20 points and Anderson added 18 points and 7 rebounds. Lonnie Jackson was the fourth Eagle to hit double figures in scoring, finishing with 10 points.
The team is now 2-4 on the season.
Football - The football team picked up their 7th win of the season yesterday. They edged out Maryland 29-26 with a stunning comeback. They were trailing 24-13 but a 72 yard TD run from Andre Williams and a 74 yard TD pass from Chase Rettig to Alex Amidon (where Amidon was EMBARRASSINGLY wide open) gave the Eagles the lead in the game. The Terrapins ran back a blocked PAT 104 yards for a 2 point conversion to tie the game. But Nate Freese kicked the game winning field goal as time expired and the Eagles got to celebrate!
It was a miserable day for Chase Rettig in the passing game outside of that long TD to Amidon. He went 6-14 on the day with 119 yards. But he was picked off once and lost a fumble.
Once again, along with Freese using his leg to put points on the board, it was Andre Williams (pictured below) being the horse for BC. He had 263 rushing yards on 32 carries and scored twice. It must be said again, he should be a legitimate Heisman award candidate.
Women's Basketball - The week started off with a Monday press conference with coach Erik Johnson.
Before heading off to play 3 games in the Cancun Challenge this coming week, the Eagles took care of business when they hosted FIU at Conte Forum. They came away with an 89-69 win that saw Kristen Doherty score 19 points and grab 5 rebounds. The point total pushed her over the 1,000 point mark for her career. She went 9-9 from the foul line where she is shooting 92.9% for the season thus far.
Nicole Boudreau finished with 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three point range. Kelly Hughes had 12 points (three 3-pointers). Kat Cooper got her first star and responded with 11 points and a career high 8 rebounds. Lauren Engeln added a career high 7 assists.
BC is now 2-2 on the season.
The post game presser is below:
In BC women's hoop alumni news, Kerri Shields scored 18 points to lead her Ulster Rockets (Belfast) team to a 73-62 win over the Meteors (Dublin) in the Ireland Premiere League. The Rockets are 2-3 on the season.
Kerri is on the left in the picture below:
XMAS - I watched another Hallmark Xmas movie last night. It premiere last weekend but I didn't get to see it then. It's called Catch a Christmas Star and starred Shannon Elizabeth as a famous singer who ends up meeting up with the guy who was her high school sweetheart. Leaving aside the bad special effects work, the story wasn't all that bad. Until the end when preposterous is the best way to describe how the resolution came about.
I'm in the midst of holiday shopping. I am trying to be done as early as possible so I don't have to go to the stores during the "Official Holiday Shopping" times.
And of course, on Tuesday November 26th, I'll be glued to my TV which will be tuned to CBS. Nope, it isn't a new episode of NCIS. Instead, it is the traditional airing of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that I'll be watching.
I know my Scrooge like demeanor will have many wondering what I could be thinking watching the annual holiday classic. But I love the special and of course own it on DVD (well, technically my mother owns it) but it is the one holiday show that I make a point of insisting on watching on TV with the commercials every year.
And despite my inability to carry a tune, I happily (though badly) sing along with all the songs as well.
TV - The 50th Anniversary special of Doctor Who aired yesterday. And it was really quite fantastic. It celebrated the entire history of the series while simultaneously telling a good story that retconned a major event without seeming a cheat. And it featured a huge cameo from a former Doctor.
It was a blast to watch and I can't wait to see how things go from this point forward. The Christmas special is bound to be amazing.
By the way, if you plan to watch it, there was a prequel webisode I posted in last week's Sunday Musings that you can check out. But here's another one that you should watch as well.
And it seems with the global simulcast, the whole world was in on the big celebratory event. Google even had their webpage done over to feature Doctor Who and had a little game you could play as well. (I did, and managed to win it.)
Movies - The release of The Hunger Games - Catching Fire is this weekend. I saw the first movie and I wasn't all that impressed. It was fine to watch one time but nothing much beyond that. Of course, I might see this second movie. Not because I have any burning (sorry, pun not intended) desire to continue with the story, but it seems one of my favorite actresses is in the movie. I've been a fan of Jena Malone since I saw her debut in the TV movie Bastard Out of Carolina.
She plays Johanna Mason (didn't read the books, don't know much about the character).
Books - I picked up a couple of new books this week. I got the new Janet Evanovich paperback Notorious Nineteen. It's another in her Stephanie Plum series. And I got the Iris Johansen thriller Hunting Eve. It's the immediate followup to Taking Eve a special three book trilogy story featuring her forensic sculptor character Eve Duncan.
Music - Ex-Ozzy and Badlands guitarist Jake E. Lee is coming back to the music scene after a long absence. His new project is called Red Dragon Cartel. The debut album is due out in January 2014, but you can check out the lyric video for the song "Feeder" (guest vocal by Cheap Trick's Robin Zander) below.
It's funny how a week changes things isn't it? Last Sunday morning, I woke up still jazzed up over the Celtics beating the Heat at the buzzer on Saturday night. This Sunday morning I woke up with kind of a pit in my stomach over the now once again reduced fortunes of the Green.
The Celtics continued their winning ways earlier this week. They ran off a 120-105 win over Orlando for their fourth straight win (and second in just a few days over the Magic). Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Crawford had 16 points apiece to lead the Celtics.
But something happened on the way to the Celtics becoming surprising world-beaters. They completely imploded in their next three games. The players themselves admitted that they didn't get "up" for the game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Judging by the lazy way they lost 89-83, you won't find anyone that will argue with their collective statement.
On Friday night, the Portland Trailblazers came to Boston and left with a 109-96 victory, their first in Boston since 2004. Jared Sullinger had a big game with 26 points and 8 boards.
But things got really bad in last night's matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Celtics suffered their worst defeat of the season with the 106-88 loss and "watched" as three players for the T-Wolves put up at least 20 points in the game (amongst a total of 5 players in double figures for Minnesota).
Jeff Green was his maddeningly inconsistent self, finishing with just 2 points (foul shots) on the night. Consistency seems to be a word that just cannot make its way into his basketball vocabulary.
It was Avery Bradley's 27 points that led the offense for Boston. Brandon Bass added 15 points and 7 boards. Jordan Crawford had 10 points, but if he's to be taken seriously as a point guard, he's going to need to do a hell of a lot better than a 5 assist, 3 turnover line.
Vitor Faverani had a decent statistical night for the Celtics. He had 9 points, a game high 14 rebounds, three steals and 4 blocked shots. The yeoman like work he's putting in is the kind of thing I would think Celtics fans would really appreciate. But this is the first time I can remember writing anything about him after the opening game of the season, so he might need to develop some level of statistical consistency as well.
I forgot to mention the Mass Maritime game from last week. They beat Plymouth State 46-44. My ex-player E.J. caught 2 passes for 50 yards and a TD.
In their game today, the 35th Annual Cranberry Bowl, they lost to Bridgewater State 45-20. E.J. caught 6 passes for 90 yards. The loss closes out their regular season at 6-4.
E.J.'s final regular season numbers were 9 games, 60 catches for 849 yards and 10 TDs. The 60 catches breaks his own single season receptions record at the school.
It was a big day for the otherwise pathetic Kansas Jayhawks. They hosted West Virginia and came away with a 31-19 win that I'd wager to guess stunned even themselves. James Sims (pictured below) ran for 211 yards and 3 TDs as Kansas picked up just their 2nd Big 12 victory in 40 games. The fans actually rushed the field and tore down one of the goal posts in celebration.
Of course, this also demonstrates how far Kansas has fallen. A win over a 4-7 team that raises your own record to 3-7 and you storm the field? Talk about desperate and lacking any sense of perspective.
For cryin' out loud, they even doused head coach Charlie Weis! The guy they usually want to run out of town just for breathing, never mind running a losing program, and a win over an awful Mountaineer team gets him an unscheduled bath?
What the heck is going on at Duke? When anyone says the path to the ACC championship runs through Duke, they are generally referring to the men's basketball team. But the hoopsters aren't alone in that category this year. Not after their 48-30 upset trouncing of the Miami Hurricanes.
The Blue Devils are 8-2 on the season and nobody's pushover. The statistical oddity of this game is that while Duke tallied up 543 yards in total offense, they were actually outgained on the day by Miami. Duke's already a bowl eligible team, but if they keep playing like this, they could end up being a bowl WINNING team.
Florida sucks. Their is just no sugarcoating this fact after their 19-14 loss to South Carolina. Granted, the Gamecocks are ranked #11 in the country, but if Florida had any kind of offense, they would've been able to win this game. Instead, a relatively solid defensive effort from the Gators (they gave up 4 field goals and a touchdown) was wasted yet again. Florida is 4-5 and that much closer to sitting out the bowl season. Coach Will Muschamp's seat isn't just hot, it's got some napalm on it about to be set off.
#4 Baylor beat Texas Tech 63-34. The Bears continued run of video game like offense isn't that surprising since they've demonstrated all year that their opponents can't keep up with them. No, the interesting thing about this result is that it was the fourth straight loss for Texas Tech. They started off the year 7-0 and new coach Kliff Kingsbury was the toast of college football. But this month long losing streak is going to test the team and the coach severely. Which Texas Tech is the real one? The one that outpaced their competition the first seven games of the season, or the one that looks like the early part of the season was the honeymoon and reality has now set in?
Wow! Just Wow! The USC football program was in shambles when they fired Lane Kiffin. They hired Ed Orgeron as the interim coach to finish out the season before the school looked for a new coach.
The way the team has responded for Orgeron has been rather amazing. Limited by scholarship reductions and a continuing run of injuries to key players, you'd be hard pressed to blame the coach if the team had continued to stink. But after last night's 20-17 upset of #5 Stanford, the Trojans are 8-3 and have thus far salvaged what was looking like another pathetic season.
And despite flaming out in his first go-round as the head coach at Ole Miss, Orgeron's work with the team has had to put him in the mix to get this job on a permanent basis. The season isn't over yet and I'm not saying he should definitely get the job, but a serious interview has to be done after the season.
Alabama - I was watching something else last night, but during the commercial breaks I checked in on the Alabama game versus Mississippi State. I was happy to see the Tide pick up the 20-7 victory but it was by no means a sure thing. Despite now being 4-6 on the season, the Bulldogs gave Bama all they could handle.
Alabama played sloppy football throughout the game (it showed from what I saw) and the defense for Mississippi State forced them into a season high four turnovers. A.J. McCarron got picked off twice (the second of which you could see coming the whole way) and the combo of RBs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake fumbled the ball away once each.
If the Bulldogs had been able to mount an offense (their starting QB was out injured and his replacement left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury), the final score would've been a lot different.
Instead, on a night where the offense stunk for Bama, their defense save their butts allowing just 197 yards of total offense (including just 53 rushing yards). They had just two sacks and an interception (by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and missed out on recovering four fumbles by the Bulldogs, but when it came time to force punts our four and out series, the Tide defense did the job.
McCarron did throw for two TDs but he was uncharacteristically pedestrian for most of the game that I saw. He looked out of sorts, and that second pick he threw was just awful. T.J. Yeldon ran for 160 yards but never found the end zone.
You know your offense had an off to bad night when the punter is the only guy on the team you can say was outstanding. Cody Mandell had four punts on the night and averaged 55 yards a kick. If you add in Cade Foster (pictured below) kicking 2 field goals and 2 PATs, this might be the week where kickers are appreciated instead of considered afterthoughts.
The Patriots were on a bye last week so I kind of took the weekend off from pro football. I checked out the scores but only saw highlights instead of complete game action. With the Patriots off until the Monday night game against Carolina, I might just do it again.
But the most interesting NFL related story comes from an off the field criminal trial against former Chicago Bears player Sam Hurd. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for being a key figure in a drug smuggling/distribution ring. You can check out an in depth story about the case over on SI.com: http://mmqb.si.com/2013/11/12/sam-hurd-cocaine-bust/
I was back to uniform mediocrity last week. I split the two leagues I'm a part of.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
ORR - The undefeated season for the Bulldogs came to an end as they lost to the Abington High Green Wave 47-20 to end their playoff run. My ex-player Richie (pictured below) and the rest of the running game was essentially shut down by a stout defense. He had 13 carries for just 24 yards. ORR will have their Thanksgiving Day game left to finish out their season.
Wareham - The Vikings trailed 42-0 at halftime to Middleboro and went on to lose 49-0. The season of awfulness will come to an end with their Thanksgiving Day game against arch-rival Bourne.
Volleyball - Two state championships were held yesterday that had a passing interest for me. In Division 1, the Barnstable girls won their fourth straight championship. How good is the Barnstable program?
They finished the season undefeated at 23-0. As I said, it was their fourth title in a row. But they've won 10 out of the last 11 state titles and 16 titles overall. The coach, Tom Turco, has been the one to build the program and guide it to each of the titles.
It is for lack of a better word, a dynasty program.
The team celebrates after the final point:
The thrill of victory:
Here's a look at the team after the win:
In Division 3, the Fairhaven Blue Devils girls volleyball team squared off against Frontier Regional. I'd seen them play once this year when I went to a Wareham girls volleyball match. The team is one of the best in the region.
The Blue Devils have won the last four South Sectional tournaments and this was their 2nd appearance in the state title game in four years. Unfortunately, they came away with another loss in the final, falling 3-1.
The team will likely remain a power in the region, but losing 7 players to graduation won't make things easier. Sadly, the Fairhaven girls come away embodying the agony of defeat on this day:
Tennessee Lady Vols - The Lady Vols knocked off North Carolina 81-65 early in the week. Ariel Massengale (pictured below) led Tennessee with a career high 20 points and 6 rebounds.
After getting upset by Chattanooga last year, the Lady Vols spent the first half of this year's matchup trying to get away from their opponents. But it was tied at the half.
However, the jets got turned on in the second half and the Lady Vols ran away with an 80-56 victory. Massengale had 16 points and 5 assists while Mercedes Russell (pictured below) added 15 points.
Hartford - The Hawks shook off the beating they took last week from UConn and beat Loyola 59-53 for their first win of the season (1-1). This despite shooting just 28% from the floor. But the seven threes and 24 out of 30 foul shots helped Hartford hold things together long enough. Freshman Deanna Mayza scored 20 points to lead the team. Amber Bepko added 13 points and 6 rebounds. Alyssa Reaves had 12 rebounds and Cherelle Moore finished with 10 points.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears era under coach Kellie Harper began this past Monday with an opening 79-61 loss to Arkansas State. Kenzie Williams (pictured below) scored 21 points and grabbed 7 boards to lead MSU.
The team rebounded to beat Arkansas-Little Rock 72-68. They had a 19 point lead but had to withstand a 16-0 run before finally putting the game away. Kenzie Williams had a career high 24 points and Bry Snow added a career high 17 points.
BOSTON COLLEGE NOTEBOOK
Men's Soccer - The team lost to #4 Maryland in the ACC quarters. They are 7-9-2 for the year.
Women's Soccer - In the first round of the NCAA tournament, the BC women beat Northeastern 2-0 and will play Nebraska in a second round matchup on November 22nd. BC is 11-9-1 thus far.
Men's Hockey - On Friday night, the Eagles skated to a 2-2 tie with UMass and they are currently 7-2-2 on the season.
Women's Hockey - A 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac dropped the #5 BC team to 7-3 on the season.
Field Hockey - The BC women played UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament yesterday 2-1 in overtime. They finished the season at 12-8.
Women's Volleyball - The Eagles beat Maryland on Friday night 3-0 for their first ACC win of the season. They are 9-18, 1-14 ACC on the season.
Men's Basketball - The defense of the Eagles is awful. The team is 0-3 on the season after two more losses this week. These are games they can't afford to lose when you play in a tough conference like the ACC.
First up was an 86-73 loss to UMass. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) had 22 points and 7 boards to lead the team's offense. Olivier Hanlan added 19 points and Patrick Heckmann had 11 points.
A telling statistic about the game was that the Eagles had just 7 rebounds in the second half of the game.
Despite leading by 8 at halftime, the Eagles gave up a 14-2 run late in the game and watched as Toledo came into Conte Forum and left with a 95-92 win.
Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) had 18 points and 6 assists, while both Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon added 15 points.
The Eagles have the offense down, but their failures to stop the other teams is going to kill them if they don't pick it up defensively.
Women's Basketball - The women's team went on the road to New York and beat Hofstra 83-60 to even their record at 1-1. Kelly Hughes (pictured below) scored 19 points and had 8 rebounds to lead the Eagles.
BC got out rebounded 52-44 in the game but in the end that didn't matter. Lauren Engeln had 14 points while Nicole Boudreau added 10 points. Katie Zenevitch had 10 points and 7 boards.
It was a homecoming of sorts for BC's Kristen Doherty and she had a 10 points, 8 rebound, 5 steal performance in front of a crowd that included a lot of her friends and family.
You can see the brief post game press conference from coach Erik Johnson below.
The team went on the road last night to face BYU and ended up losing in overtime 70-69. Nicole Boudreau had a 23 points (5-6 from three point range) and 7 rebounds to lead the Eagles. Kristen Doherty had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals. BC also got 11 points from Kelly Hughes and 10 from Lauren Engeln.
But they had no answer for BYU's 6 foot 7 center Jennifer Hamson, who finished with a game high 28 points and 12 rebounds. She played a key role in the second half (16 points) push for BYU.
It didn't help that the Eagles got out rebounded in the game 52-41. They also couldn't capitalize on the fact that BYU missed 10 out of 26 foul shots.
You can see the quick wrap up with coach Johnson below.
Doherty on the foul line:
Rallying the players:
Football - If you look at the stat line for BC quarterback Chase Rettig, you'd have to wonder just how bad the Eagles had been beaten by North Carolina State. He was 8-15 for 53 yards. That is just a pathetic statline no matter how you look at it.
But thanks to an amazing day on the ground, Boston College ran away from the Wolfpack and won the game 38-21.
The ground game churned their way through the NC State offense for 420 yards. Andre Williams (pictured below) ran 42 times for 339 yards and 2 TDs. Of course, he fumbled twice (losing one) so ball security is an issue that has to be addressed. But his final game at Alumni Stadium was a sight to behold. He had over 100 yards in the first quarter alone. He set new school records for career rushing yards and single season rushing yards. Oh, and he broke his own single game rushing record (set just last week) as well.
Myles Willis also got into the rushing attack with 77 yards and a score.
Receiver Alex Amidon caught 5 of Rettig's 8 completions for 34 yards, but also had a 15 yard rushing TD.
The Eagles are 6-4 now and that means they are now bowl eligible. Not bad for the first season under coach Steve Addazio. And even better considering just how bad the team performed last year.
Andre Williams and the rest of the seniors were playing their last home game at Alumni Stadium yesterday and the team went out at home on a high. The fans going on the field in this game was both a celebration of the win and the turnaround this year. Unlike the Kansas game mentioned above, the fans were also invited by the school to come on the field after the game anyway. It was some promotional thing I saw on the team's website page.
The Eagles close out their regular season with two away games and one of the announcers on the game yesterday said that BC has a chance to actually end up with 8 wins on the season. I'm not counting on that prediction or anything (especially since one of their opponents is Maryland who pulled off a 27-24 win over a supposed to be better than them Virginia Tech yesterday) but for a talking head to say that about a team that couldn't find their own collective asses last year, even the chance at 8 wins is something to be ecstatic about.
TV - On Saturday November 23rd, the BBC will do a global simulcast of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Doctor Who Special "The Day of the Doctor". It will be on BBC America starting at 2:50 pm EST.
To further whet the appetite of Whovians everywhere, they released the prequel minisode the other day. It's called "The Night of the Doctor" and features a huge surprise return of...well I'll let you all figure it out.
In other TV news, I checked out one of the new Hallmark Channel Christmas movies last night. Yes, it is that time of year again. Hallmark is running holiday movies day and night from now until the end of the holiday season. I watched one called The Thanksgiving House a couple weeks ago, but it was preposterously stupid and a total wimp out cheat in the resolution.
But last night I watched the premiere of The Christmas Ornament and it was actually pretty decent. It starred Kellie Martin, who I've liked since her time on the show Life Goes On and LOVED on both ER and the Hallmark mystery movie series Mystery Woman. Also along for the ride, playing the best friend of Martin's character was Jewel Staite. And you can't go wrong in my book when you cast have someone from the Firefly TV show and the follow up movie Serenity in a role. Especially if it is one of the cast members that I've actually met!
Movies - I saw Thor: The Dark World last Sunday. I thought the first Thor movie was fine to see a single time but otherwise not really much of a movie. But this one was far more entertaining with a ton of action and an appropriate portion of humor thrown in as well.
Music - The official live video for the new Fates Warning song "I Am" has been released.
Meanwhile, a group of teenage music students covered the Tool song "46 and 2" and the video has been posted online. The singer is a 12 year old girl and the video is fantastic.
I've got a new review in the works. It is for the new Benedictum CD Obey. The album isn't due out until December 3rd, but I was forwarded the record company's download link to check out the disc for review.