YouGabSports Blogs
Sunday Musings #177
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NewEnglandPatriots BostonCollegeEaglesBasketball WisconsinBadgers MLB BostonCeltics CollegeFootball CollegeBasketball HighSchoolSports

While chuckling at the pretty accurate†description of me in the pic below...

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The game may have lacked offensive explosiveness but after Tom Brady and the Patriots spent the first three quarters of the game suffering under the pressure of the San Diego Chargers defense, it was nice to see them get things going in the fourth quarter. The resiliency of the offense in that fourth quarter helped the Patriots come back and beat San Diego 23-14.

Brady (pictured below 1st) ended up with 317 passing yards for the game. He had 2 TD passes. While he was sacked one time, you can generally overlook that. What you can't overlook is how the one interception he threw (picked off by Manti T'eo, pictured below 2nd) was another one of those gawdawful-what-the-hell-was-he-thinking variety picks. He had nothing on the throw and if any Patriot player had caught that ball it would've been an early Christmas miracle.

Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals in the game while Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski supplied the touchdown scores. Edelman caught 8 passes for 141 yards including the career long 69 yard catch and run for the score (see below 1st). Gronkowski also caught 8 passes for 87 yards and his TD (see below 2nd).

The run game was once again relatively ineffective. That is, when the Patriots bothered to use it at all. They totaled just 87 yards on the ground for the game. Thankfully the Patriots defense stepped up big time. They held the Chargers to just 53 total rushing yards.

Akeem Ayers picked off Chargers QB Phillip Rivers. The "D" also sacked Rivers 4 times. Jamie Collins picked up 2 of those sacks while Rob Ninkovich (see below) had one.

The Patriots play the Dolphins today and with a win can wrap up the AFC East division. Despite their struggles with the Chargers, I think the win demonstrated that they can play a tough, tight game and come out on top when everyone is working together.

In other NFL news, Greg Bedard had a piece on TheMMQB.com about the New Orleans Saints and their lack of leadership and professionalism. You can check out the piece via this link.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

For anyone worried about the career prospects for now ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp, I think you can hold off on the charity telethon for a bit. According to an article†on SI.com, he's been hired as the new defensive coordinator at Auburn. He's the fourth guy to hold the job in the last five years.

Army-Navy Game - Despite a rather game effort from Army, the Navy came out on top in the Army-Navy game for the 13th straight year. Led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds (see below far right) the Midshipmen won 17-10. He had 1 passing TD and ran for another score with his 100 yards rushing.

Congratulations to the Midshipmen!

Bowl Games - The full list of this year's bowl matchups can be viewed HERE.

While I will be interested in the semi-final bowl games that lead to the matchup, particularly the Alabama-Ohio State game, there really isn't a whole heck of a lot of games that scream out for me to watch them. Sure, I'll probably watch a game here and there as I happen to come across them. But besides the title playoff games, the only game that instantly draws me in is the Boston College-Penn State matchup in the Pinstripe Bowl on December 27th (ESPN, 4:30 pm).

There are some games featuring teams that have a storyline that might interest some people though.

In the Las Vegas Bowl, will Colorado State rebound after being jilted by coach Jim McElwain for the Florida job?

The Independence Bowl has Miami and South Carolina. Both teams are a disappointing 6-6 going into the game and will be looking for any little kind of bright light to point to for this season, particularly South Carolina who started off the season with some very high hopes.

The Holiday Bowl features Nebraska, and you have to wonder how they'll play after firing Bo Pelini.

The Outback Bowl has Wisconsin which is a topic I'll address below.

Wisconsin - The coaching situation at Wisconsin took a weird turn this week. After just two years in charge, Gary Andersen stepped down as head coach in order to take the job at Oregon State. That's like going from the penthouse to the outhouse in terms of support and facilities. The move surprised everyone.

Rumors of Andersen's disatisfaction with pay packages for his assistants and unhappiness with the admissions policies in place at Wisconsin have popped up but there's been nothing confirmed.

The Badgers still have the Outback Bowl to play, so I think it is another example of a coach not finishing the job before leaving for the next one. As always that irks the hell out of me.

Stranger still is that Wisconsin AD (and former football coach) Barry Alvarez is going to coach the team during the bowl game. this is the second time in 3 years he's done this.†The looming shadow of Alvarez was another rumor that popped up this week as well. My question about this move is why does Alvarez need to coach the team. You mean to tell me one of the coordinators, coaches who've actually been with the team all season long can't step up to coach the team on the 1 game interim basis? Alvarez was quoted saying that the seniors on the team asked him to coach the game. If that's true, is it an indictment of how the players feel about the leftover coaches or are they really that fond of Alvarez?

Meanwhile, on Friday came reports that the school will hire Pitt†coach Paul Chryst (shown below)†as their new coach sometime after December 17th. You can read more details about that HERE.†He was the Badgers offensive coordinator from 2005-2011 so he does have good ties to the school. It would also seem that he understands how things work there too.

Whatever happens, after losing to coaches in the space of three years, the Badgers had better hope they get this hire right. Otherwise, people are really going to start asking questions if coaches keep leaving what is considered a high profile job for new posts that are clearly a step down.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

A lot of the teams I root for played during the course of the week and don't have another game scheduled until later this afternoon. You can read what I had to say about those games that were played in my latest Mid Week College Basketball Update. Five of the six teams I've been writing about so far this season will play their next game†this afternoon.

Boston College Men - The Eagles played Maine on Thursday night and ended up coming away with an 85-74 victory to improve to 5-3 on the season. Aaron Brown (shown below)†led the team in scoring with 21 points.

The surprising contributions from Dennis Clifford (pic below) were a huge factor in powering Boston College to the win. While he's been working hard, his offense has been a work in progress. But against Maine, his struggles seemed to clear up as he poured in a career high 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.†He also blocked 3 shots.†If he can become a consistent offensive threat, it gives BC yet another scoring option and they become that much more dangerous.

Patrick Heckmann (shown below 1st) scored 13 points and had 4 steals, while Dimitri Batten finished with 12 points. Olivier Hanlan (shown below 2nd) had 10 points and 6 assists.

Looking at the box score, another component of the win was the Eagles outscoring Maine 30-8 in the points off turnovers category.†

(all pics from BC game photo galleries)

Here's the video highlights:

BOSTON CELTICS

You can read my latest Celtics Report blog post HERE.

MLB

For my take on the moves the Red Sox made to shore up their pitching rotation, you can checkout my blog post HERE.

When Bret Lawrie was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays, the reaction of one of his young fans set Youtube ablaze. It appears there was a somewhat happy ending to the story though. Read it HERE.

Former Chicago White Sox outfielder Mark Gilbert became the first ex-player to be named an ambassador for the United State. You can learn more about him HERE.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Check out this story on the Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Month for December, New Hampshire soccer player Kate Marshall.

Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - B-P ended up losing to Diman Voke by 10 points (48-38) in their season opener. I was told they were ahead for much of the first half but had poor shooting and picked up lots of fouls.

Wareham Girls Varsity -††I went to the third and final scrimmage for Wareham this past Wednesday. They were up against Upper Cape and while Wareham didn't look particularly good, they were a lot better than Upper Cape. They played four quarters and Wareham won two of them while tying the other two. When I first got to the gym, I dropped off some Boston College women's basketball†tickets I picked up†for one of my ex-players†to her father. I also†gave the father of another player†the letter of recommendation his daughter†asked me to write for her National Honor Society application thing.

In the scrimmage, Gabby drained a couple more three pointers. There's six girls on the varsity that I coached in the past. Gabby, Erica, Kali, Tieyanna, Brianna and Kiara.

The Vikings went on the road to play Bishop Stang in their season opener but fell flat, losing 56-29. Tieyanna led the Vikings with 12 points. But the team's poor shooting and 27 turnovers were key factors cited in their big loss. The starting five for Wareham featured 4 players that I had a hand in coaching at some point during their youth league days. Gabby had 3 points in the game, while Brianna had 2 points and Kali added 6.

You can read about the game in this Wareham Courier article.

By the way, here's a team candid photo I totally stole from Gabby's FB page.

Upper Cape Girls JV - It was a rough and tumble kind of game against South Shore Voke Tech. The game was full of uncalled physical play that should've resulted in lots of fouls (on both sides). But Upper Cape came away with a 27-8 victory to start their season off right. I've got two players on the team. Laurina started and served as captain. She was the point guard when she was in the game. She was 1-2 from the floor for 2 points. She forced a jump ball call, had an assist, an offensive rebound and a steal to go with 2 turnovers. Ann Marie started as well. She was 2-7 from the floor for 4 points. She missed two foul shots as well. She had an assist, 4 steals and a defensive rebound. She also committed 4 turnovers and a foul.

Upper Cape Girls Varsity - After watching Upper Cape scrimmage on Wednesday and look absolutely awful against Wareham, I had no idea what to expect. But since South Shore Voke Tech is not a good team, I guess the final score of 68-12 in favor of Upper Cape shouldn't have been much of a surprise. The game was a blowout from the start as the Rams were up 19-3 after the first quarter and just kept rolling.

It's actually hard to decipher how the team looked on a technical basis given they were playing a team so clearly inferior. But all the defensive lapses they had in the Wareham scrimmage were held to a minimum and the team worked together in passing the ball and getting it to the open player.

Michaela had an off game to start her season. She was 1-12 from the floor for 2 points. She had 4 steals and 2 rebounds to go with a turnover and a foul.

EX-PLAYER LEGAL NEWS

While all my ex-players still in high school are making a good showing for themselves by staying involved in athletics and not being arrested, there's news on a couple of my former players who have been IN court instead of ON one.

One of the four ex-players charged in connection with a murder here in town saw his charges reduced and got out on personal recognizance. I'm sure one can guess that he's making a deal and that's why he's suddenly out of prison. You can read more HERE.

Another of my ex-players, Eric,†got arrested in connection with a robbery of a local restaurant. This is a new charge for him but he's no stranger to run-ins with the law. That story is HERE.

As always, I'm left shaking my head at the inherent stupidity these former players of mine continue to show in their decision making.

MISCELLANEOUS

TV - The fall finales of The Flash and Arrow were rather good. You can check out the Pop-topia.com†recaps of each episode via the following links: The Flash - "The Man in the Yellow Suit"†/ Arrow - "The Climb"

It's been 15 years since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush" was broadcast. TVGuide.com ran an oral history article on the episode this week. You can check it out HERE.

Movies - I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD this week. I loved the movie in the theater and watching it again was a thrill ride. It will be featured on my Best of 2014 movie list that I will be writing up soon.

In the meantime, you can check out the Honest Trailer for the movie below, it is rather funny.

Grantland.com had an oral history article on the making of the film Boogie Nights. It is an entertaining and extremely long piece. You can check it out HERE.

Books - I finished reading the Janet Evanovich / Lee Goldberg novel The Chase this week. It's the second book in the Kate O'Hare / Nick Fox series that teams up an FBI agent with†thief to take down other bad guys. While the premise is clearly something akin to the TV show White Collar, this has a bit more of an international thriller vibe (although retaining the more lighthearted feel of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series).

I really enjoyed the book a lot this time around and can't wait for the third book The Job to make its way to paperback.

Comics - Free Comic Book Day is almost six months away, but the Gold Sponsor level books that will be available on the first Saturday in May 2015 have been announced. You can see the list HERE.

Music - The new U.D.O. album Decadent is due out in the US on February 3rd. The official video for the song has been released and you can see it below.

The new group Revolution Saints features Night Ranger bassist Jack Blades, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and Journey drummer Deen Castronovo. Their self-titled debut album is due out February 24th. But you can see the video for the song "Turn Back Time" below.

My 2015 Calendar - I know it is a bit old fashioned given how most people use the calendar feature on their phones nowadays, but I always use REAL calendars. Usually I grab one up from the local pizza place, or from Dunkin Donuts. Or I take one of the few that we get from my job. But this year, I picked up one for the TV show Firefly so I'll "Keep Flyin'" with them all year long.

Got What They Asked For
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Manziel Browns

What are the Browns thinking?

With their team in last place but still wildly alive in the playoff hunt, if you catch the drift, the Browns have decided to put it all on Johnny's back.

Their starter, Brian Hoyer, hasn't been tearing things up, but even in his bad games he's often thrown for 300 yards. He's led his team on last-minute drives of heroic proportions, sometimes in vain, more often not. His record as a Browns starter is 10-6. That's about as good as it gets for the Browns since their reincarnation. But lately he's faltered.

Cleveland fans want it all now. It's hard to blame them, though it's been a frenzy that's driven the new franchise to countless gambles on high draft picks, most of them bad, and most of them by different figures in Cleveland's game of musical administrations. This year's edition features not just a new coach but a new front office and a new owner. And after the disaster that was Mike Holmgren, it doesn't even seem a risky situation. When you've seen one playoff game in (almost) sixteen seasons, that in 2002, you get hungry.

This season's gamble in the draft was one Johnny Manziel, the collegiate hero whose superstar faded at draft time. Did Cleveland overbid for him? This is the team, after all, that gave away draft capital to move up one (1) spot under Holmgren --- then drafted Trent Richardson ("the best player in the draft"). But Manziel wasn't even their top pick. You just would have thought so at the reaction.

Still, at 22, he was just the second quarterback taken. Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr came later. Both have had promising seasons starting for needy teams. Carr, in fact, was taken just after Cleveland's third pick.

Fans waiting to see whether the checkered Manziel represents the latest first-round flop aren't going to have long to wait. In fact, by the time you've read this, we may know already.

It could work. Manziel shouldn't be bothered by the big stage. He's been used to it for years even at his young age, coming out of a state that elevates its local heroes to Olympic (as in Mt. Olympus) stature. To think that Texas would fall at the feet of the small-town son of a Lebanese immigrant sounds like something out of a latter day Horatio Alger novel. It's a great story. Bright lights don't bother him. The hope appears to be, in fact, that they will light him up.

But how much of a gamble is it? Hoyer has done everything in his power to give his naysayers ammo. The question is how much of the ammo is live. He's managed his offense well. The Browns have played hard with him at the helm. He hasn't been a JaMarcus Russell disaster. Along with his mistakes, he's shown the earmarks of a winner.

But he's tacking into the public wind. Last week he overthrew an open long bomb. After that, he drilled his man 20 yards downfield for a critical first down, then spotted a crack in the defense and audibled for an 11-yard run and another first down. Ultimately, the Browns scored. All the analysts talked about after was his overthrow.

Manziel, meanwhile, walked into a ton of negative commentary from a variety of unexpected sources. He was passed up by his hometown Texans, who needed a quarterback in the worst way, for a defensive end with injury baggage. This choice from a team already with JJ Watt. It was hardly a ringing endorsement. As if to prove them right, Manziel instantly proved monstrously inept at managing his own media exposure off the field. No, he hasn't beaten anyone up, but his level of maturity has come under well-earned scrutiny on any number of occasions. He is a polarizing figure. His adoring legions love him. A larger number appear not to. But hardly anyone is ambivalent.

Of course it's not all his doing. Players have done dumb things for ages. It's only recently that they've had to cope with a world where every stranger within eyeshot is a potential newspaper photographer or TV news cameraman.

But he does some really dumb things. Sometimes he seems to manufacture them out of sheer contempt for his constant exposure to digital media. Sometimes it's obvious the dumb things are real. The end result is not suggestive of the sort of character, it seems, befitting the leader of a billion-dollar NFL franchise --- the prime mover of its on-field fate and off-field image. And image is important... it's politics, yes, but the body politic that fills the stands can't be allowed to vote with its feet. In Cleveland, Von Ribbentrop would be cheered if he won. The Nazi hunters would be kept at bay --- until he started to lose.

And so it will be with Manziel. His team has a shot against the division leader. A win is a must for a realistic shot at the playoffs. A loss drops them to .500 and may seal the deal.

In a sense, the move is genius. Hoyer is showing the earmarks of a great backup who seems to lack some sort of endurance, perhaps mental, requisite of a starter. It could just be a matter of time... after all, as a starter, he is essentially still a rookie. But the Browns didn't gamble much on him, and he remains an option should Manziel prove a disaster.

It's a simple case of giving Manziel the ball and seeing what he can do, on the biggest stage the Browns have provided for anyone at this late date since 2002. It's quite the audition.

So why didn't they just start Johnny in the first place?

Hoyer certainly had the advantage of experience in the early going, or so goes the theory. But his experience in the Browns' system was with a prior administration from top to bottom. One would think Manziel would have pounced on that chance.

He didn't, from what we hear. Hoyer did. For all we now hear about what a serious student of the game he is when on the facilities, he certainly appeared to have partied away any preparatory effort that would have given him a shot against the more experienced and hard-working Hoyer. So the argument about Hoyer's familiarity with the system being the cause of his starter status has at least two holes in it.

Still, Manziel was a wizard at A&M, certainly coming out of college with credentials dwarfing Hoyer's. He inspired his teammates by example. Browns fans have reason to hope that, given the chance, he can make such things happen in the NFL.

It's a bad time for such things. Wunderkinds from RG3 to Cam Newton to Colin Kaepernick have begun to wander toward the steep cliffs on the NFL map. Their collegiate style hasn't adequately impressed NFL defenses. Absolutely dominant college talents like Tim Tebow, Vince Young, Matt Leinart and others have famously vanished from public view in recent years. Is Manziel any different?

We're about to find out. If he succeeds, he may become the next legendary figure at quarterback. Or just a pretty good one with a trademark style that fills seats. But anything less will be inadequate for someone with the baggage of his hype. Unlike Hoyer, Manziel is a 'personality', not just a player. That's a double-edged sword. And if he falters, get ready for an ad-nauseam landslide of pretentious analyses. Johnny Manziel is news. They aren't going to let him off the hook easily while he still sells copy.

It won't be a case like Michael Sam, the linebacker with the political cause taken up by Obama and the media. It won't be like Tim Tebow, the Evangelist quarterback essentially blackballed by the same media. Manziel is more a swashbuckler, a Joe Namath figure without the suave touch. Maybe a Bobby Layne. Both of them succeeded. This is going to be mostly about his on-field performance.

The other part of the Browns' gamble, the part that makes it so dangerous, is Plan B. What if he doesn't hit the ground running? What if he's a disaster? Do you yank him and put Hoyer back in to try to preserve a playoff run? Brett Favre's initial appearances were disasters of mythical proportions. He suddenly pulled himself out of the mud and became a HOF quarterback. Each side has an argument. The instant success scenario has a clear path. The instant flop scenario has the potential to take down what has looked so far like a doormat franchise on the verge of success. It all may depend on Plan B, whatever it is. Hopefully it's been considered.

It all could go either way --- and with Cleveland, it could have huge ramifications either way.

NASCAR Update And Other Fast Stuff 12-14-14
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NASCAR Tony Stewart Kevin Harvick Joey Logano Richard Petty Kyle Busch

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Oooo hey there. Welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. I think george has a point there. Don't you? Another annoying human habit is touching the glass on a door you're opening. Do you really have to? That's what handles are for.†

Been a busy week for Santa's helpers. We've been packing NFL hoodies, sweat shirts, jackets and scarves for all the good NFL fans out there. It's been a tough pack for about 4 weeks now. The jackets and hoodies don't fold real nice. They create issues but volume is our friend. Santa will have no Debbie Downers. So maybe if you were on Santa's nice list, you have NFL gear coming your way.

So lets see what's happening in the land of Left Turns.

MORE SURGERY FOR TONY STEWART

He just had the rod replaced in his leg right after the last race of the season and now it is said there will be #5. Doctors aren't happy about how slowly it's healing. The goal is to not have that rod in there in the future. Stewart says it still hurts but is optomistic that when the rod is out that the pain will go to.†

I hope so. February is around the corner. Stewart plans on being at the Chili Bowl next month to help with track preparation for the dirt track midget race (wingless sprint cars). So far I don't see any NASCAR driver entries on the list.

DALE JR"S BEST SELLING DIE-CAST

Not only is Dale Jr's Daytona 500 paint scheme the #1 best selling die-cast of the year it'sthe #1 best selling die-cast car in Lionel Racing history. While Dale Jr took like 6 spots on that top 10 list Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Austin Dillon got spots to.

WATKIN'S GLEN GETS GRANT FROM NEW YORK

The track will have it's repave and updates courtesy of a $2.25 million grant as well as $12 million in private funding. The repave is scheduled after the Cheez-it 355 race weekend.

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LOGANO GETS MARRIED

Fiance Brittany Baca picked the date 12-13-14 so it would be easy for Joey to remember. He is a busy guy. Honey moon is in Costa Rica for 5 days.†

Congrats to the new couple.

NASCAR TO LET TEAMS DECIDE JUST HOW MANY LUGNUTS TO TIGHTEN

Is this bizaare or what? They have decided to let them tighten all 5 or just 2 or 3 or however many they want. No morte monitoring during the stop. Sort of opens things up for disaster if you ask me. There's a lot of gamesmanship in NASCAR. This is why I call it a high speed rolling chess match. Always decisions to be made at every pit stop.

Now NASCAR is not letting them completely off the hook here. If they lose a wheel during the race they will be penalized. That I find a bit stupid. If your wheel comes off the car while you're driving, I'm sure you're about to get penalized right into the wall or into another car. They didn't state just where this penalty falls on their scale yet.

Now I can see how this 2 or 3 or 4 lugnuts could play into the hands of a crew and driver willing to take the chance. If you come in for 2 or 4 tires during a late race caution with like 5 to 10 laps to go, you might want to roll the dice to get that extremely valuable track position. AND THEN you hope they stay on for the restart and possibly the win.

Something to look forward too in the 2015 season.

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NEWS OF THE DANICA

Besides the who's going to be her crew chief thing, there really isn't any news. Just thought you all needed to hear that name.

WANT A NEW RACING CAREER?

The Roush Yates Racing School of Technology will be open for classes in February of 2015, Their 36 week program will make you an entry level machinist. You'll be machining engine blocks and cyliders before you know it. No word on tuition costs. I didn't look it up.

KEVIN HARVICK NAMED DRIVER OF THE YEAR

17 journalist and broadcasters got together and voted. The catagory was for all drivers of every racing series. Harvick beat out Tony Schumacher (2015 Top Fuel Dragster Champion) and Erica Enders Stevens (2015 Pro Stock Champion) by taking over half the votes. He gets a trophy and Tissot wrist watch.†

DUMBASS THAT CLIMBED FENCE CONVICTED

The race fan that climbed the fence at the Richmond race in September was convicted of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. He got 12 months in jail which 11 months were suspended and a $100 fine. His lawyer says he has post truamatic stress disorder from his military service and has other conditions as well.

Harry Potter says...HORSE HOCKEY. So do I. What a dumbass.

THUNDERBIRDS TO DO D-500 FLYOVER

The U S Air Force Thunderbirds are due back at the Daytona 500 for the 5th straight year to provide the thunder over the opening ceremonies at the Daytona 500 in February.†

YEAH!!!†

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I think that picture says it all. F you to the bleeding hearts. They should all be sitting on stools facing the walls every day they are in those camps alive. Don't move for ANYTHING.†

So everybody have a safe weekend.

And I'm outta here.....

Back To the Future: High-School Championship
Category: NCAA
Tags: ART SHELL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL JIM MORA NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OAKLAND RAIDERS
This is what the Louisiana state championship trophies look like, can't get it to show up: https://theknightswhosay.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/lhsaa-trophy.gif

I hope filing it under ncaa is ok.

I havenít written about high school sports since high school, but I had to comment about the high school I went to winning its first state championship since 1960. Hopefully itís an interesting story. Some may know or be able to figure out the school, but Iíll avoid mentioning names.

What made it even stranger is that in watching the clips posted online (I subscribed to nola.comís YouTube channel mostly for LSU content a while back), I saw a familiar face. It was the coach who had left my school in 1996. I honestly thought I was imagining things until I heard his name. He didnít look much older either.

Iíll just call him Coach M. Since he left for a rival school, he wasnít exactly my favorite person at the time. He did not do particularly well at that other school and had gone into other lines of work, although he had returned briefly to my school as an assistant at some point between the two stints. I would find out this was his first season back as head coach.

The administrators who were there while I was a student were all gone, so I guess that helped lessen any misgivings as well. Still, Iím sure some were skeptical he could just pick up where he had left off as a head coach. An NFL situation I thought of was Art Shellís ill-fated return to the Raiders. Unlike Shell, however, it seems that Coach M had really kept up with the game.

I also compared it to Jim Mora (Sr.), who also left the Saints rather suddenly when I was in high school, coming back to the Saints and at least going to the Super Bowl in his first season.

Mora presided over a lot of improvement in New Orleans but was not able to win a playoff game with the Saints (although the Saints did have a first-round bye one season).

Coach M had won playoff games but had come up short on at least a couple of occasions in the semifinals. I mentioned the prior state championship had been in 1960. That was before the Saints even came into existence.

One difference is in recent years, the Saints did better than had ever done before. They won a few playoff games, won the Super Bowl one season, and made the conference championship in yet another season. But Iím pretty sure my junior year (two seasons after Coach M left) was the last time my high school had made the state semifinals. So I guess that all helps you imagine why it was so surreal.

After a bit of an upset in the quarterfinals (#6 over #3 on the road), it looked like it might be another year where they made it to the semifinals and fell short, which happened three times while I was there.

The last two games were remarkable too. In the last few seasons, my high school played really well against a rival school from the same district but ultimately came up short in both the regular season and the playoffs. That school was seeded #2 and had won the previous two state championships, as well as the district championships, and was undefeated. Somehow my school had them on the defensive all right, and my school prevailed,

In the finals, my school played a school that had 26 state titles. That school also did not exist in 1960. To be fair, it is a smaller school, so it wasnít in the same classification in most of those years.

It was a low-scoring game with a lot of turnovers, but it seemed that the school that was used to state championships would pull it out when that school took a 14-7 lead into halftime (after a long drive to end that half) and still led 14-10 after the third quarter.

A number of second-half drives by both teams had stalled (or ended in turnovers) right outside of field-goal range, and obviously one ended in field-goal range. The other team got as close as the 25-yard line, but apparently that wasnít quite a comfortable enough distance.

The player of the game was a running back, so the success my school had was mostly on the ground. But somehow with about 9 minutes to play, they drew up and completed a long touchdown pass of 45 yards. The team only had 112 yards of passing the entire game, including that play, against 217 rushing yards.

A combination of running down the clock and good defense took care of the rest of the game.

Normally you get more used to things like this after you find out, but due to the result, itís only gotten more surreal since seeing that video. What adds to it is I ran (without much success) on the cross-country team in high school, and when I graduated we had never won a state championship in that sport. This was not the cross-country teamís first state title since I graduated; but it still adds to my feeling of disbelief to know my school holds what I consider the two biggest state titles of the fall, both of which seemed so elusive 10-20 years ago.
The Celtics Report 12/13/14
Category: NBA
Tags: NBA BostonCeltics RajonRondo JeffGreen MarcusSmart KellyOlynyk TylerZeller MarcusThornton

The Boston Celtics found themselves in the midst of a four game week between last Sunday and Friday night. It started out quite nicely but by the end of the week, the team had once again crashed and burned.

Between the shuttling of some combination of Dwight Powell, James Young and Marcus Smart off to Maine again during this week and the injuries sustained by both Young and Smart, you have to start wondering if this is turning into a bit of an individual lost season for those players.

As for the game action...

In the first of a back to back set of games against the Washington Wizards, the Celtics saw an 18 point lead at the start of the fourth quarter cut to just 2 points as the Wizards staged a rally that saw Boston nearly helpless to stop from happening.

The situation nearly got worse as Avery Bradley took and badly missed a three point shot. But the Wizards got nothing out of their proceeding trip down the floor. Showing a gunslinger mentality, Bradley took another three from essentially the same spot on the floor he'd just missed from and buried the shot. It was a back breaking type of basket and the Celtics went on to win 101-93 for their third win in a row.

Jeff Green (shown below) led the team with 25 points and Marcus Thornton had 21 points off the bench.

When you include that devasting three pointer Bradley made, he finished the game with 11 points and Jared Sullinger had 10 points and 10 boards. Rajon Rondo (shown below) had himself another triple double performance with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Unfortunately, aside from some incidental action, the good news for the Celtics kind of finished after this game.

The next night, Boston was on the road for the second game against Washington. While a vastly entertaining game was to be had for those who watched the game purely as a basketball exercise, the Celtics 133-132 double overtime loss was irritating on a number of fronts.

The Celtics trailed by as many as 23 points in the game before a huge rally by the reserves put them back into the game. Rajon Rondo was benched for the last 27:51 of the game (including both overtime periods). You can read what you want into it but neither coach Brad Stevens or Rondo have been saying much in the way of a detailed explanation as to why the arguably best player on the team got benched.

Maybe it was a message to the rest of the team to raise their games instead of relying on one particular player to bail them out. Or maybe Rondo was playing so badly that Stevens HAD to get him out of the game. I don't know. But it will be interesting to see how this plays out. If the benching was a one time only move of "shock and awe" to get attention of team on a night when they were playing as if they shouldn't be on an NBA roster, it might be a good thing. If it is something Stevens feels he has to do on a number of occasions, it will almost certainly alienate his point guard and lose effectiveness in motivating the players on the court.

More depressing than the loss itself (something that is bad enough) was the fact that the Celtics had a 7 point lead in both overtime periods and still couldn't close out the game. I know that the other team has the ability to make great shots just as much as the Celtics do, but blowing that kind of lead once is bad, doing it twice is a result of some truly shameful team defense.

As it was, Jeff Green once again led the team wtih 28 points. Marcus Smart (see below)†was back in action for the game and he had a career high 23 points. Kelly Olynyk was huge with 19 points and 11 boards. Brandon Bass scored 19 points of his own. Evan Turner scored 18 points, had 8 assists and grabbed 6†rebounds. Tyler Zeller hit for double figures with 10 points.

In their game against the Charlotte Hornets, the Celtics led by 5 points at halftime but saw their momentum (and lead) evaporate in the second half as Charlotte got a huge game from former Celtic Al Jefferson. He finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Once again, the Celtics had a chance to win this game. But instead of their defense letting them down, this time it was their offense. After they got within 2 points in the fourth quarter, Boston missed their next four shots and had four turnovers in a stretch of game action that killed any hope of a victory.

Jeff Green and Marcus Thorton had 16 points apiece to top the scoring chart for the Celtics. Brandon Bass added 15 points and Tyler Zeller finished with 13 points and 7 boards. Rajon Rondo (shown below) was back from his benching and went for a 12 point, 10 rebound and 10 assist triple double.

Kelly Olynyk (photo below) started off well in the game, scoring 8 points in the first half. But he faded in the second half and didn't score again.

Finally, last night (Friday) against the New York Knicks, the Celtics saw the positive vibes from their three game winning streak evaporate completely as they lost for the third straight time. Despite the 101-95 loss, Brad Stevens was quoted as being happy to see Jeff Green (shown below)†growing more as a scorer. Green had 28 points and 6 rebounds as he led the scoring for Boston yet again.

During the game, Marcus Smart was injured again. He was forced out of the game with what was reported as an Achille's strain. It is certainly better news than if it was a tear, but as I mentioned at the start of the post, this is another injury for him (the second notable one of his rookie season). You have to wonder if the team is going to get any sustained looks at him without Smart winding up hurt.

Tyler Zeller (see below)†scored 19 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner dialed up 13 points apiece. Kelly Olynyk added 11 points. Rajon Rondo scored just 2 points but had 10 assists and 7 rebounds.

So with their record now at 7-14, the Celtics once again are faced with the opportunity to figure out a way to come together as a team that finishes out everything from an individual play to a full game. Or they can once again head towards an epic collapse. While you hope for the best, it is just so hard to figure out which team might show up on a night to night basis, you can't blindly believe that the Celtics fortunes will turn around.

And as the losses pile up, you can only wonder how long it will be before the trade rumors that are constantly swirling around Rondo get turned up on the high flame once again.

But the overall faith in the Celtics remains, no matter how frustrating their performances have been.

GO CELTICS!

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