While planning my travels for next week's high school basketball tournament games...
And don't forget, I'm on Twitter now: @TheOneTrueJay
Big Mack and Darrin's Lynx team was in the youth league championship game today. It was the fourth straight title game appearance for the coaches. And after three losses, their team brought it home. The Lynx defeated the Fire 28-22. So a hearty congratulations goes out to two very deserving coaches!
There were two players on the team that I care about despite not being a coach anymore. The first was Emma. I coached her older sister Megan a number of years ago and have remained friends with their mom Michelle. This was her third appearance in a title game, but her first win. So Emma (pictured below) and her sister are now on equal footing as far as championship bragging rights! Congrats Emma!
As for Gabby, what can I say? She's a favorite of mine so I make it a point to go to some of her games to root her on, though not the youth league ones. She played JV for Wareham High this season as an 8th grader and adjusted rather well, scoring 177 points during that team's season.
But Gabby (pictured below) wanted a youth league title in the worst way. She'd never won before and this was her last chance. And what a way to go out. Though there was no official award, she was the game's MVP. She dominated the game and willed her team to the win scoring 24 of the 28 points. This was her "in the zone" moment!
I'm so extremely proud of her and glad that while I couldn't see her play today, that I have four more years to watch her be great in high school.
Her trophy moment (she's on the far right):
And here's a look at the Champion Lynx team in full.
(photos by Michelle F. (Emma's proud as punch mom), used by permission)
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Some quick notes:
Wareham Girls Track - The winter track season came to an end for Paige in the MIAA Division 4 Championships. Paige (pictured below in blue, photos by Wareham Courier's Adam Ellis)has battled a knee injury through most of the season and it made this winter season a bit of a tough road to hoe. She finished 20th in the 1000 meters with a time of 3:21.86.
Miscellaneous - There was an article in yesterday's paper on the shrinking attendance numbers at the area high school basketball games. It mostly focused on the boys games but there was a brief mention of one of the girls programs as well. I'd hazard a guess that the girls got short shrift in the article because their attendance figures are almost uniformly awful to begin with. You can check out the article here (and a photo of my ex-player Latroy from earlier in the season is below): http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140221/SPORTS02/402210335
Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity Basketball - On Senior Night, the B-P girls managed just 1 point in the fourth quarter and lost to Middleboro 34-21. The more interesting part of the whole game was when the lead ref threatened to toss out the crowd for the last 6 minutes of the game. And it was a well earned threat because the fans were an embarrassment.
You know that saying "Better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt"? Well, some of the B-P "fans" removed the doubt and showed a stunning lack of the basic understanding of what is and is not a foul. Did the refs miss some calls...sure. But the ones that brought the loudest and most ignorant catcalls from the morons in the stands, the refs actually got right.
Savahna saw some time in the game but not as much as when I saw her play on the road at Upper Cape. She forced a jump ball but otherwise didn't make a dent in the stat line. And she did a rather remarkable job singing the national anthem before the game. The girl has got a voice.
Upper Cape Girls Varsity Basketball - As you may have read in my blog post from Friday night, the UCT girls pulled off a stunner when they upset #1 seeded and previously undefeated Blue Hills to win the State Vocational school championship. My former player Michaela (who was part of all three girls teams I coached that won titles) played a huge role in the game, scoring 9 points, as the Lady Rams won 55-49. You can read all about The Big Damn Heroes here: http://www.t-s-b-n.com/pt/THE-BIG-DAMN-HEROES.2-21-2014/blog.htm
(photos by Wareham Courier's Adam Ellis)
As for the "regular" state tournament, five of the basketball teams I follow made the cut. The brackets were released yesterday afternoon so here's a rundown of where they'll be.
ORR Boys - Thanks to winning a coin flip, the Bulldogs are the #1 seed in Division 3 South. They get a first round bye. Their second round game will be at home against the winner of the GNB Voc-Tech/Burke game this coming Thursday. And if the unlikely but possible were to happen, ORR would face off with Wareham in the South Sectional final should both teams get that far.
Wareham Boys - Wareham got the #6 seed in Division 3 South and will play at home this coming Tuesday against East Bridgewater.
Upper Cape Boys - In Division 4 South, the Rams are the 11th seed. They will go on the road this coming Tuesday for their first round game against Bristol-Plymouth, a team they've already lost to twice.
Wareham Girls - The girls picked up the #7 seed in Division 3 South. They will play at home on Wednesday against Ursuline, who beat them last year in the playoffs. If they win that game, they'd go on the road to face the 19-3 Abington team who got a first round bye.
Upper Cape Girls - The Lady Rams are the #3 seed in Division 4 South. They get a first round bye (Division 4 features less teams, so more get those technical first round byes). They will play the winner of Nantucket/Sacred Heart on Friday February 28th.
Their potential second round matchup would be against West Bridgewater. That's assuming (and you know what that usually means) the 20-0 West Bridgewater team beats their second round opponent (Bristol Aggie or Westport).
BOSTON RED SOX
With spring training underway, there's been a marked increase in the news coming out of the Red Sox clubhouse these days.
Also, Jon Lester again let everyone know that he's perfectly willing to take the "hometown discount" to sign a contract with the Red Sox that would keep him in Boston for the rest of his career.
And while most people are sick of hearing David Ortiz complain about his contract, Big Papi is tired of hearing people complain about him wanting to have a contract. And he's made some good points while doing so. It is a little tiring for this contract thing to be a yearly event, but he's backed up things by earning what he's been paid all the time. And by baseball economics, he's been wildly underpaid while doing so.
If it is true that cats have nine lives, how many do football front office guys have? The Patriots officially announced the hiring of Michael Lombardi as "assistant to the coaching staff".
Not a bad landing for a guy who was essentially fired as GM of the Cleveland Browns after only a year on the job. Now, given that Cleveland is a cesspool of incompetence from the ownership on down, getting out of town quickly may not be a bad thing.
Still, going from Cleveland to New England must be like a dream for Lombardi. When Belichick was the Browns head coach years ago, Lombardi was there.
I read Lombardi's articles when he was writing for the National Football Post website and he seemed to be pretty knowledgeable about what he wrote, but putting that knowledge to practice hasn't been all that great for him as of late.
His exact duties are unclear but I would hope that he can indeed be a positive to the organization.
College Basketball - As the college season winds down, firings are getting underway. After making a brief NCAA tournament appearance two years ago, the Lamar University men's team led by Pat Knight has fallen completely off the radar. The school had seen enough and fired Knight this past week with Lamar at 3-22 overall. You can read more here: http://tracking.si.com/2014/02/16/pat-knight-fired-by-lamar-university/
College Football - Wyoming isn't exactly what you call "big-time" football, but with the hiring of new coach Craig Bohl (from FCS school North Dakota State, where he won three straight titles), the Cowboys are looking to make a move towards national prominence. Sports Illustrated's Lindsay Schnell (who has written some good pieces in the last couple of weeks) gives a look at the beginnings of Bohl's new job here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140220/craig-bohl-wyoming-cowboys/index.html
After the break due to the All-Star Game, the Celtics got back in action on Wednesday night. They ended up dropping a game to the Phoenix Suns 100-94. Brandon Bass had 18 points and 8 boards in the game while Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 10 assists.
Jeff Green scored 17 points and Jared Sullinger added 11 points and 8 boards.
More important to the team and its followers was the NBA's trade deadline. The Celtics were thought to be a player in the market but it turns out that GM Danny Ainge ended up sitting this one out. While Bass, Green and Rondo figured prominently in the myriad of swirling trade rumors, the Celtics ended up not making a move of any kind.
Whether there wasn't a satisfactory deal out there that Ainge wanted to pull the trigger on or perhaps as some have suggest online that Ainge priced himself out of trades, the roster the Celtics had for the Phoenix game is the roster they have now.
For those of us who aren't in favor of losing on purpose no matter how covertly you try to do it, I guess this could be seen as a good thing. That the Celtics will actually try to win games. They may not end up doing so, but the effort will be there at least.
For those who want to lose to get Jabari Parker, they are probably sticking pins in a Danny Ainge voodoo doll about now.
The challenge now for Ainge will be to figure out how to work with the roster he has, still be bad and then work some magic before draft day to unload a mixture of players and some of the bevy of draft picks he has to play with and get that top pick.
As for on the court results, the Celtics faced off with the Lakers last night and dropped to 19-37 with their 101-92 loss.
Jeff Green scored 21 points to lead the Celtics while Brandon Bass put up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Sullinger had a double double with 12 points and 12 boards. Gerald Wallace also poured in a dozen points while Rondo dished out 11 assists.
It's always tough to swallow a loss, but at least you know the team is actually busting their butts under coach Brad Stevens. He won't win it, but despite a losing record, what he's done so far with Boston under less than ideal circumstances and a roster that could change at any minute, I would think he has to be a candidate for NBA coach of the year. I don't think anyone expected to see the Celtics with 19 wins at the end of the season, much less right now.
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Tennesee - The Lady Vols got stunned by #18 Kentucky to start their week. The Wildcats knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville 75-71. 22 turnovers by the Lady Vols didn't help as Kentucky won for the first time in Knoxville since 1985.
Bashaara Graves had 20 points and 7 boards to lead Tennessee while Isabelle Harrison (pictured below) scored 20 points of her own to go with 16 boards. Meighan Simmons finished with 13 points.
Tennessee rebounded quickly though and crushed Auburn 93-63. Simmons (pictured below) had 26 points in the game. Cierra Burdick added 17 points and 9 boards and Andraya Carter scored 12 points. Isabelle Harrison had another double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Hartford - The Hawks ended up losing to New Hampshire to start their week. The 76-71 overtime loss saw Amber Bepko and Morgan Lumb lead the team with 16 points apiece. Milana Gilbert had 11 points and Cherelle Moore scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Hartford went on to beat UMass-Lowell 80-64. Bepko again led the way, scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.
Rebounding was a big key to the win as the Hawks had a 54-36 edge in that statistical department.
Alyssa Englert added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while both Shanise Bultron and Morgan Lumb scored 11 points. Alyssa Reaves had 10 points and 8 boards. And Cherelle Moore led the team with 9 boards (to go with 5 points and 6 assists.)
You can see highlights and the post game press conference below.
On Saturday, the Hawks cruised to an 80-64 win over UMBC. They hit a school record 16 three pointers and Amber Bepko (pictured below) was the star of the game. She hit an individual school record 7 three pointers on the way to a career high 25 points.
The Hawks improved to 11-16 (8-6 in the America East Conference) with help from Shanise Bultron (18 points), Morgan Lumb (12 points), Cherelle Moore (10 points, 8 boards) and Alyssa Reaves (6 points, 11 boards).
Missouri State - It was a tough week for the Lady Bears. They lost to Drake 79-69 despite a combined 36 points and 13 rebounds from Tyonna and Bry Snow. MSU had no answer to stopping Drake's Kyndal Clark who finished with 38 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
It got worse on Friday night as Indiana State's defense just suffocated the Bears offense and crushed Missouri State 73-37. Tyonna Snow led the team with just 8 points as the Bears were held to season lows in nearly every statistical category.
They are now 12-13 on the season with a 7-7 conference record (4th place).
Men - It has been a long tough road for the Eagles this season and it continued earlier in the week as they lost another close game to Notre Dame last Sunday night. The 73-69 loss saw Olivier Hanlan score 18 points and Joe Rahon add 13. Ryan Anderson had 11 points and 11 boards.
Earlier in the day, the women's team paid tribute to the passing of longtime BC assistant sports information director Dick Kelley. The men's team did so as well.
They also went to the funeral on Tuesday and it was a pretty emotional time for all who knew the beloved Kelley.
And perhaps as it was played up, his death inspired the Eagles. But whatever it was, the Eagles soared when they went into their game against #1 ranked and undefeated Syracuse.
They had no chance in the game, they stunk and Syracuse was awesome. Or so that's how the script was supposed to go. Instead, led by 20 points from Olivier Hanlan (pictured below), the script got a dramatic rewrite and the Eagles stunned EVERYONE and knocked off Syracuse in overtime 62-59! HELL YEAH!
Lonnie Jackson scored 10 points and Ryan Anderson added 9 points and 14 rebounds to get the celebration (pictured below) underway.
He's been embattled because the Eagles haven't really risen to the occasion for most of his tenure but for one night at least, coach Steve Donahue (pictured below) was the man of the figurative hour.
Of course on Saturday, the hangover effect kicked in with a major beatdown for the Eagles at the hands of Miami. Patrick Heckmann scored 15 points for Boston College but it was the Hurricanes day as they rolled to a 69-42 victory.
Olivier Hanlan was the only other Eagle in double figures as they dropped to 7-20 (3-11 ACC).
You can see the postgame press conference with coach Erik Johnson below.
On Thursday, the women's team traveled to play Clemson. Kristen Doherty was back in the lineup after missing a number of games due to injury but her return didn't change the final result as the Eagles lost 72-67. They are now 12-16 with a 3-11 ACC mark.
Nicole Boudreau (pictured below) had a career high 25 points to lead BC, including a career high 7 three pointers. Katie Zenevitch added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
And you can check out this rather hilarious "Honest Trailer" for the movie Gravity.
TV - HBO has released the second promo trailer for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones.
Music - I picked up the new Adrenaline Mob CD Men of Honor and will hopefully, eventually get around to doing a review of it.
And when I went to pick up that CD, I ended up finding a surprise in the newly released Lone Justice CD This Is Lone Justice - The Vaught Tapes, 1983.
I'm a huge fan of the band, and singer Maria McKee in particular and this release captures (via recorded direct to 2-track tape with no overdubs) the set list that Lone Justice was packing L.A. Clubs with in 1983. Nine of the tracks are previously unissued.
See why I love going to record stores? I would never have known this CD was out if not for actually going to buy my music in the old fashioned brick and mortar storefront!
Books - Want a good police procedural book to read? Check out the Joe Gunther series by Archer Mayor. I'm just about done with his latest Three Can Keep A Secret and it has been yet another fantastic read by an author who I've met and does a marvelous job keeping me entertained throughout his books. Check him out at http://www.archermayor.com
I also picked up a couple of new books this week. There was a new Star Trek novel published. It is set during the Original Series time but author Greg Cox features a time travel crossover that has Seven of Nine from the Voyager series going back in time and meeting up with Captain Kirk. The book is called No Time Like The Past. I don't usually get the Original Series novels, but this one looked too good that I just couldn't pass it up.
The other novel is the new Tiger & Del book by fantasy author Jennifer Roberson. Set years after the original series run, Sword-Bound finds enemies from the past tracking down the pair for past transgressions. The original books were simply outstanding and when I saw that Roberson was doing another book (one more is planned as well), I knew I had to pick it up.
March Madness brings along the expected college basketball craziness...stunning upsets, wild shots and Cinderellas.
But it isn't confined to the college level.
Every year you see stories about crazy finishes in high school tournaments too.
And while I wasn't able to see it in person due to having to work, my favorite high school basketball team, the Lady Rams of Upper Cape Tech, got the Madness started a week early.
They were playing in the state vocational school tournament yesterday and today. At 18-2, they've had one of the best seasons in team history. But after they beat Bristol Aggie 55-36 last night (raising the record to 19-2), they had to face Blue Hills.
Now I could be off a bit here, but Blue Hills hasn't lost a game in something like three years. They were 21-0 going into tonight's game and had thoroughly crushed Upper Cape each of the two times they played each other during the regular season. Yes, the Lady Rams only two losses came at the hands of their title game opponent.
It would be a lie if I told you I thought they could win the game. But as Chris Berman says, "THAT'S why they play the games!"
I followed the game via the tweets posted by the Wareham Courier sports editor Adam Ellis (all photos herein are by him) who was at the game.
And what a game it was. From what I was able to gather, Upper Cape led for most, if not the entire game. With 2:25 to go, there were no more tweets. Upper Cape was up just 3 points at that time.
I was trying to find out what happened...and finally, I saw it. UPPER CAPE 55 BLUE HILLS 49.
OH MY GOD! The Lady Rams are the 2013-2014 State Vocational School Champions!
My former player Michaela (below in blue diving for ball) was said to be a beast in the game and I am so unbelievably proud of her. Now and forever, she can (but won't) add "State Champion" to the end of her name. And to think I knew her when she was just a little third grader who growled at the people she defended and earned the nickname I gave to very few, "The Hound" for her on court intensity.
But the rest of the team has been a little bit of joy to watch all season long.
And now it has all paid off with an entirely unexpected but very much deserved state title.
They have done what might've been thought to be the impossible...and that makes them mighty!
The Big Damn Heroes (photo by Wareham Courier's Adam Ellis):
Back Row (L-R) - Alex, Krystle, Amber, Alexa, Dasia, Molly and Coach Davidson.
Front Row (L-R) - Paige, Amelia, Jodi and Michaela
It amazes me how NBC can spend billions of dollars to cover an Olympics that most Americans will know the results before they are aired in prime-time. Kind of takes the starch out of watching. Don’t get me wrong, NBC does show the Olympics during the morning and afternoon, when most people are either at work or have other personal things to attend. When they do show it in prime-time the results are usually known or the Americans are not in the running for a medal.
Speaking of the Olympics, if you get a chance you need to watch American Skater Jason Brown. He might not be the best in the world, but he will be by the next Olympics. Jason puts on a show like no other in the sport today. His only draw-back is he can’t do the Quad jump. This clip is from the 2014 US Figure Skating Championship:
I watched State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and if I could sum it up in one word:
Granted they did things differently this year.
The Sears Shooting Stars had one current NBA Player, one retired NBA player and one WNBA player.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge, not exciting. It was more like a two-man relay.
Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. I almost fell asleep.
Sprite Slam Dunk contest. I was looking forward to it, I really was. The only excitement came in the final round, which by then was anti-climatic because I was bored.
They only great thing about it was all money earned was donated to charity.
The All-Star game was what I liked, high scoring and slam dunks.
It was a big week for BC this week as hockey and basketball were active and grabbing at least some of the headlines in the papers. They won some and they lost some.
But for the entire Boston College community, the biggest loss came when the news broke that one of their longtime employees (and BC grad) Dick Kelley had passed away after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS). He spent 22 years working in the BC Sports Information office and was a huge BC basketball supporter. You can read more here: http://www.bceagles.com/genrel/021414aaa.html
As for the sports teams, the hockey programs for both the men and the women saw a huge bit of success when each of them captured the annual Beanpot tournament. It's the local tournament held each year between BC, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern. The men's team won it for the fifth year in a row while the women picked up their second straight win.
Men's Basketball - The Eagles got beaten in the last second yet again this week. Against Georgia Tech, Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) hit a shot with 3.4 seconds left in the game to put BC ahead but the Yellowjackets nailed a 3 pointer with .7 seconds left and went on to win 74-71.
The loss drops Boston College to 6-18 on the season. Hanlan finished with 21 points and Ryan Anderson added 13. Joe Rahon scored 11 points, but with the team being outrebounded 31-17 for the game, the problem seems to be coming from everywhere but the offense.
Women's Basketball - The long spiral downward continued this week for the women's team. With Kristen Doherty still out with concussion like symptoms, the team once again was playing shorthanded. It's been a season long refrain, injuries sapping bodies from the available roster.
Last Sunday's game against Florida State was particularly disappointing. The Eagles were on the road and so was I. I had to take my mother to a baby shower but commandeered one of the TVs in the house and watched the game on NESN.
BC started out 12-6 but then FSU went on a 14-0 run to take command of the game, something they would never relinquish the rest of the way.
In the first half, BC was outrebounded 21-10 and turned the ball over 13 times (they were averaging 15 turnovers PER GAME.) Their interior defense was pathetic. Of the 35 points Florida State scored in the first half, 32 came in the paint. Katie Zenevitch (12 points, 5 rebounds) got exploited a number of times but even more depressing was just how bad Karima Gabriel played. She was a turnstile on defense, got her shot blocked EASILY, and turned the ball over a number of times.
Things just kept getting worse in the second half as FSU went on to win the game 72-55. They outrebounded BC for the game 46-22, including 24 offensive rebounds. Yes, you read that stat correctly. The Seminoles had more OFFENSIVE rebounds than BC had rebounds for the entire game.
While FSU's Natasha Howard had an outstanding game with 26 points and 11 rebounds, more impressive to me was the play of their point guard Cheetah Delgado. At five foot two, she's the smallest player in the ACC, yet with her speed she essentially slapped the BC defense around for the entire game. She had 6 points, dished out 15 assists and grabbed 9 rebounds. Can you believe it? The BC defense was so bad, that the smallest player on the floor had 9 boards!
While the game was pretty much nothing to really write home about, the Eagles did have one bright spot in the form of freshman Kelly Hughes. She tied her career high with 23 points and got 5 boards as well. She ended up picking up the ACC Rookie of the Week award later in the week.
By the way, you can check out the weekly press conference with coach Erik Johnson below.
On Thursday, the Eagles were at home facing off for the second time with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish haven't lost all season and that trend continued against the Eagles. After blowing them out by 40 points the first time around, I suppose the 82-61 loss suffered by BC is somewhat of an improvement. But the loss drops them to 12-13 on the season with a 3-9 ACC record.
Kat Cooper (pictured below) led the team with 13 points. Katie Zenevitch had 12 points and 8 boards. Nicole Boudreau added 9 points and 7 assists.
The post game press conference is below.
They play today against Syracuse and I'm supposed to be there with courtside seats. Hopefully I'll have a report to post afterwards.
Hartford - The Hawks dropped to 9-15 (6-5 in the AEC) after their loss to Maine 60-56. Deanna Mayza (pictured below) scored 17 points to lead Hartford. Amber Bepko finished with 10 points. Alyssa Reaves had 8 points and a career high 13 rebounds. You can see highlights of the game and the post game press conference below as well.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears split their two games this week. They beat Bradley 78-72 to start their week. Bry Snow (pictured below) had a career high 29 points to go with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Her sister Tyonna Snow scored 17 points.
On Friday night, Tyonna Snow was the only player in double figures (17 points) as MSU lost to Northern Iowa. They are now 12-11 on the season with a 7-5 conference record.
Tennessee - After their 81-53 victory over Vanderbilt this week, the Lady Vols stand at 20-4 (9-2 in the SEC). Meighan Simmons led the victory with 22 points. Isabelle Harrison had 18 points. Andraya Carter (pictured below) scored 11 points while Bashaara Graves had 6 points and 10 boards.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
You can check out my two high school basketball blog updates from the past week below.
The NBA is now on their All-Star Weekend break but before those not playing in that exhibition farce went their separate ways to presumably get some R&R from the season's grind, the Celtics had 3 games to play.
Last Sunday, the Mavericks knocked off Boston 102-91. Jeff Green led the offense with 18 points, but it was Rajon Rondo who provided the gas for the entire Celtics engine. He had 15 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds.
Chris Johnson added 14 points and Jared Sullinger tallied 11 points and 12 boards. He was also later named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Kris Humphries chipped in 10 points.
The Celtics beat then beat the Bucks 102-86. Jeff Green had 29 points and Kelly Olynyk had 14 points and 11 rebounds. With Rajon Rondo getting another DNP for "rest", Phil Pressey stepped up with 13 points. Jared Sullinger scored 13 points as well and had 10 boards. Brandon Bass finished with 12 points and 7 boards.
Boston then closed out the figurative first half of their season with a 104-92 loss to the Spurs. Rondo had 16 points to top the scoring column. Kelly Olynyk had 15 points and 10 boards. Brandon Bass added 12 points and Jerryd Bayless finished with 11 points. Green had 10 points.
The loss has the Celtics at 19-35. It's a bad record but in terms of what the Celtics had in mind, not bad enough. Boston Herald sportswriter Gerry Callahan even wrote an article that basically implored GM Danny Ainge be more proactive in making the team worse. He used the line from the first Rocky movie "He doesn't know it's a show, he thinks its a damn fight" to punctuate the point that coach Brad Stevens has been too damn good for the team's own good (read, high draft pick hopes).
While I understand the plan is to be bad enough to get Jabari Parker or one of the other two potential great team changing players expected to be in the next NBA draft, the fan in me finds myself disgusted by other people who WANT to lose. I know losing now to win big later is the plan and the logical part of my brain gets that. But purposely trying to be bad enough to lose and lose often...ARGHHHH!
Besides the 1980 Miracle on Ice US hockey victory over the Russians, I've spent the week try to figure out what my favorite Winter Olympics moment was. And I figured it out. I watched it as it happened and I was simply blown away by the figure skating performance of Sarah Hughes during the 2002 Olympics. She was ranked 3rd out of the three US skaters at the Games and was in fourth before the long program. And then she went out and delivered one of the most amazing skates I've ever seen. It was technically awesome and the zest she delivered it with brought the house down. And when she found out that she'd pulled off an amazing upset, her unbridled scream of joy was electric!
You can see her long program skate below followed by another link that shows all of the skates and her reaction (and that of her coach) about 34 minutes into the second video.
I remember being glued to the screen during her performance and actually cheering as she finished. And a "HOLY SH*T!" escaped my lips when she was announced as the winner. Just a classic moment.
As for the current Winter Olympics, I missed the first period on Saturday morning but caught the last two periods, overtime and the shootout between the US and Russian hockey teams.
The US caught a break late in the third period when a Russian goal was disallowed, but this was a heck of a game. With Doc Emrick on the call, everything seemed so intense. This game showed exactly why I love Olympic hockey. Each attempt in the shootout was so epic and when T.J. Oshie drilled a shot past the Russian goalie on the 8th attempt between the two teams, the US picked up the win! Can I get a HELL YEAH!!!!
TV - The television world lost one of its best known dads this week when actor Ralph Waite died at the age of 86. For those who grew up on the 1970's family dramas, you will remember him as John Walton, the patriarch on The Waltons. In recent years, he's appeared on the soap opera Days of our Lives as well as playing the father of Gibbs on NCIS and the grandfather of Booth on Bones.
Music - One of the upcoming CDs I'll be reviewing is the House of Lords album Precious Metal. The band has released a video for the song "Battle" and you can check it out below.
Books - I picked up the Rhys Bowen mystery The Family Way this week. It is the latest paperback release in her Molly Murphy series. The series is set in the early 1900's with Irish immigrant Murphy as she winds her way as an unlikely PI in New York. Each book has been highly entertaining and I'm so glad I discovered her books.
I also discovered by virtue of an excerpt printed in Sports Illustrated that there is a new book about the 1985 Chicago Bears out. It's called Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football. The author is Rich Cohen and after reading that excerpt, I am definitely adding it to my want list.
Try as I might, I really can't work up much enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics. I'm not usually as much of a fan of the Winter Games as I am the Summer Games but with the utter debacle that is the news coming out of Sochi regarding how unprepared the city (resort town) is, you have to shake your head.
Stray dogs, unfinished rooms, rooms without the basic necessities like toilets that flush toilet paper, water that comes with a warning (as if the yellow color wasn't enough of one) to not put it on your face.
You have to wonder if the Russian leader Putin planned it this way so the world's press would be distracted by the "small" stuff and ignore the bigger stories about how much of a dictatorship Russia is back to being.
I'll be interested in how the Olympic hockey tourney goes, but I'm usually only interested in events that the US does well in. Yes, I'm a homer in that regard.
There were two bits of news this week regarding the WNBA. The first story was the Phoenix Mercury announcing a new uniform sponsor. They'd lost Lifelock and have now replaced them with Casino Arizona. You can see the home jersey below:
The bigger news revolved around the future of the Los Angeles Sparks. When the previous owners bailed out, it looked like the Sparks would most likely move to the San Francisco area after being bought by Joe Lacob, the owner of the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.
But the Sparks will be staying in LA after the news broke that the investment group led by Magic Johnson and his partner in owning the LA Dodgers bought the team.
I joked on another forum that if this keeps up, Johnson might just buy the entire city of Los Angeles at some point. But this is a good move for the Sparks and the WNBA. Johnson and his partners have been pretty successful at their business moves and if they can make the Sparks into an even more viable entity, that can only improve the future for the league as a whole.
The news coming out of the Celtics this week is a three game winning streak. The record is now 18-33 after the wins and suddenly the Celtics look reasonably good again.
Yes I know the record stinks, but the entire Eastern Conference beyond the Heat and the Pacers stinks too so it isn't like the Celtics are completely out of the realm of possibility to make the playoffs...if they keep playing THIS way.
Things started off with a 96-89 win over the Orlando Magic. Jared Sullinger led the team with 21 points and 12 boards while Brandon Bass had 19 points and 9 boards.
The game also saw Rajon Rondo's first breakout game since his return from injury. He had 19 points, 10 assists and 10 boards.
Next up was a rematch against the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston edged them out 114-108 as Jeff Green had another explosive offensive night with 36 points (and 8 boards). Sullinger added 19 points and 10 boards. Bass scored 18 and grabbed 6 boards. Rondo dished out 11 assists.
On Friday night, with Rondo given a DNP-CD to rest, you might've expected a different result but the Celtics got it done against the Sacramento Kings 99-89. Jared Sullinger (pictured below on defense) scored a career high 31 points and had 16 rebounds. Jerryd Bayless finished with 19 points including 4 three pointers. Green added 17 points and Kelly Olynyk hit for 11 points.
And while he'll be down the list of reasons why the Celtics won this game, Gerald Wallace played a really big role in the win. He had 8 points, 12 boards and 9 assists. That kind of stat line demonstrates why he is a "glue guy" kind of player.
You know he isn't happy coming off the bench in a reduced role but he does everything that's asked of him. When he was running off at the lip early in the season it was slightly annoying but say what you want about that, he's doing his job in a remarkably effective way.
Speaking of that, another player doing a great job in the role provided him is Chris Johnson. And the team rewarded that effort by guaranteeing his contract for the rest of the season. He had been on his 2nd 10 day contract with the Celtics and league rules say that you can only sign two of those deals with any one team before they have to pick you up for the year or let you go.
I think it is a smart move for the Celtics as it gives them another quality role player who fits in with the team quite well and works his tail off when on the court.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
You can check out the two high school basketball updates I did this week, including news on one of my ex-players hitting the 1,000 point mark via the following links:
And before I forget, here's the official team photo for the Upper Cape Girls varsity team.
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Hartford - The Hawks split their two games this week. They won their 5th game in a row when they knocked off Stony Brook 61-48. Amber Bepko scored her season high of 19 points (to go with 7 boards. She was a perfect 10-10 at the foul line.
Morgan Lumb (pictured below) had a career high 17 points and was later named America East Rookie of the Week. Alyssa Reaves added 10 points.
The statistical oddity of this particular game was that Hartford won despite getting outrebounded 48-38.
The win streak ended on Friday night when Albany crushed the Hawks 90-68. While they played an even game in the second half, it was a 47-25 first half that killed Hartford's chances.
Morgan Lumb had 16 points to lead the team while Bepko scored 11 and Reaves finished with 10 points for the now 9-14 (6-4 AEC) Hawks.
Missouri State - Using their defense to force a season high 29 turnovers, the Bears crushed Southern Illinois earlier this week 76-58. This despite actually losing the battle of the boards 39-34.
Kenzie Williams had 12 points to lead the team. Bry Snow added 11 points and Hannah Wilkerson finished with 10 points. But it was a career night for Lexi Hughes who established 3 new career highs with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the game.
On Friday night, a thoroughly balanced attack led the team to a 66-41 win over Loyola. All 12 players scored in the game and none of them hit double figures. It was Williams who topped the scoring chart with 9 points.
The team is now 11-10 with a 6-4 conference record.
Tennessee - The Lady Vols had two wins this week and surprisingly enough the games were actually relatively close affairs.
They beat Alabama 64-54. They were down in the game by as many as 15 points. But a career high 20 points to go with 11 boards from Cierra Burdick (pictured below) helped mount the successful comeback. Burdick went on to be named SEC player of the week. Isabelle Harrison had a double double with 11 points and 11 boards.
In what was the 100th win that Lady Vol player Meighan Simmons has been involved with during her time at Tennessee, the Lady Vols beat Ole Miss 77-65 for their 5th straight win and a 19-4 (8-2 SEC) record. Simmons had 20 points in the game. Harrison scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Burdick added 12 points, 8 boards and 5 assists.
BOSTON COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Women - The week started out bad for the women's team as they dropped yet another game they should've won. The 70-63 overtime loss to Virginia Tech was particularly galling since they had beaten them earlier in the season.
Worse yet was that BC was winning by 5 at halftime. Kelly Hughes continued her sensational freshman year with 22 points and Katie Zenevitch added 15 points and 9 boards (5 turnovers out of the team's 17 total TO's though).
What killed them in this game was the disastrous first three minutes of the overtime period. They turned the ball over 6 times in that time frame and managed just 1 point for the entire OT.
As demonstrated, that will simply not get things done.
The weekly press conference with coach Erik Johnson is below.
With BC heading in the downward direction and Virginia looking as though they were on a move up, you would be forgiven if you though their game on Thursday would be a Cavalier undertaking.
But after being down by 9 points at halftime and 15 points with 11:05 remaining, the Eagles used a 19-2 run to not only get back into the game but take it over down the stretch. That big run was keyed by 7 points from Kelly Hughes (pictured below 1st) and 6 points from Karima Gabriel.
Those 6 points were the only points that came from the BC bench. The starters provided the rest of the offense and that was with Kristen Doherty out of action for the game with an injury.
A key to the game in the second half was the Eagles committing only 4 turnovers in the half. Shooting 10-23 for the game from three point range didn't hurt either.
Hughes finished with a career high tying 23 points. Nicole Boudreau (pictured below 2nd) had 13 points and 5 assists while Kat Cooper (pictured below 3rd) scored 12 points. You can also check out highlights of the game in the video below.
Men - The men's game against Virginia was on TV the other night and I watched some of it. But they were getting hammered early. They went on to lose by "only" 10 points, 77-67, but with Duke coming to town Saturday night, they could've used a win over a slightly lesser light in the ACC. Ryan Anderson had 20 points and 7 boards to lead the Eagles with Olivier Hanlan (14 points) and Lonnie Jackson (12 points) also contributing.
As for the Duke game, the Eagles played the Blue Devils surprisingly close in the first half. They were down just 4 points at the break.
But an 18-0 run in the second half by Duke killed any chance for the Eagles (6-17, 2-8) to pull off what would've been a tremendous upset.
Olivier Hanlan scored 25 points to lead BC. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) added 12 points and Joe Rahon hit for 11 points.
Duke's Jabari Parker put on quite a show in front of the Boston crowd which included Celtics GM Danny Ainge. He finished with 29 points and 16 boards.
THE SUPER BOWL
Well, if you weren't a Seahawks fan, that was one crappy championship game I'd say. I was totally wrong on my score prediction last week. Thankfully I didn't actually watch the game as the ass-kicking was on pretty much from the opening kickoff.
Denver looked completely unprepared for Seattle in every respect.
For those that don't pay attention, the Seahawks win is not the city's first major championship since 1979. The WNBA's Seattle Storm won titles in 2004 and 2010. Call it lazy reporting by every single media outlet you can think of.
Movies - I'm probably going to see a movie at some point today but I have no idea what that might be. The new George Clooney movie The Monuments Men looks interesting but I don't know if I want to see that in the theater or just wait for the film to come out on PPV/DVD.
As many people know, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died this week. I know some think it is crazy to see so many people that didn't actually know him be upset about his death and generally I agree with that viewpoint. But I did like some of the movies he appeared in and that is what I'll miss about him.
It also doesn't lessen my disgust with him over his drug use that led to his death. Particularly since it leaves his three children without a father.
TV - During the Super Bowl, Fox ran some promos for the return of the TV series 24. The 12 episode "event" series Live Another Day starts May 5th and I'm eagerly awaiting the return of Jack Bauer.
You can check out one of the quickie promos below.
And don't forget that tonight is the return of The Walking Dead on AMC. And for those so inclined towards comic books, the Kevin Smith show Comic Book Men returns later in the evening as well.
Funny thing about that show is how bad it makes us comic book fans look but much like a roadside car accident I can't stop watching it.
Comic Books - I somehow missed that one of my current favorite comic writers, Brian Wood, had a series prior to when I started reading his work (Conan, Star Wars, The Massive). It is called DMZ and it set during the second Civil War and the location is New York City. Obviously there is more to the story but I picked up the first trade collection yesterday (the entire series is collected in 12 trade paperbacks) and if this story is anything like his outstanding work on the three titles I mentioned above, I might just have a new series to add to my collection.