User Showcase
Sunday Musings #144
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NBA IndianaPacers NewYorkKnicks BostonRedSox BostonBruins HighSchoolSports
 
 
While soon to be on my way to watch my sister take part in a road race...
 
NBA
 
Indiana Pacers - I'm not exactly breaking new ground here, but what the hell is going on with the Pacers?
 
I've been a bit behind on my reading of my Sports Illustrated issues. This past week I finally got around to reading an issue that featured an article on Indiana's Roy Hibbert. The article talked about how awesome he was etc. And at the time the article was actually printed, he and the team actually were worthy of that "awesome" description.
 
But now, they look more like chumps than champs. Despite narrowly capturing the #1 seed in the Eastern playoffs, they are getting far more than a token challenge from the Atlanta Hawks. The team is falling apart with each passing game and the job security of coach Frank Vogel is iffy at best.
 
While the team's front office is publicly saying that Vogel's job is safe, it does feel like should the Pacers lose this first round series, Vogel will be gone.
 
Roy Hibbert has regressed and the entire roster at times seems like they have forgotten how to play basketball.
 
Since Indiana was supposed to be the only real challenge to the Heat for Eastern supremacy, it is rather depressing/distressing to see them flounder like this.
 
Down 2 games to 1 going into Game 4 yesterday afternoon, the Pacers edged out the Hawks to tie the series at 2 games apiece. But the game was quite ugly and the Pacers barely held off Atlanta. This is not how a #1 team should be playing.
 
New York Knicks -  Try as he might to avoid the topic, Phil Jackson was at the center of a minibrouhaha when the reports came out in the media that he was already having to deal with interference from team owner James Dolan.
 
The stories have Jackson wanting to fire some front office people and Dolan saying no. Predictably, the story is about how Jackson was supposed to have final say in all basketball operations and the incompetent owner continuing to bumble his way towards further destruction of the Knicks.
 
But the biggest question I had when I first read the stories was why was anyone really surprised about this? Dolan has proven for years that he's a micromanaging buffoon who knows nothing about running a team. Under his reign of error/terror, the Knicks have gone from one of the tentpole teams of the league to a franchise that is looked upon as nothing more than a joke and also-ran.
 
There's no way to accurately predict how putting Phil Jackson in charge will affect the team's fortune but at least with him in charge there is the hope that someone with his basketball IQ would be able to lay out a blueprint to raise the Knicks back up.
 
He can't do that with Dolan in the way. And there is absolutely no way anyone with a lick of sense could believe the owner when he said Jackson would be in charge. He's a liar, a jerk and a babbling fool.
 
The question wasn't whether or not Dolan could stop from shooting himself in the foot by interfering with how the team is run, but rather how soon would he start screwing with Jackson and start the clock on when Jackson throws up his hands and moves back to Montana.
 
Despite the on court makeup of the team, the biggest threat to the Zen Master's calm demeanor will always be the guy he reports to.
 
BOSTON RED SOX
 
Shane Victorino is back in the lineup for the Red Sox. Boston pretty much has the team they'd expected to have coming out of spring training and in the last two games against Toronto, they've had an offense that's been remarkably more productive. Of course, the pitching nearly gave away Saturday's game but did just enough to hold on for the win.
 
One member of the team not partaking in this offensive resurgence is Daniel Nava. His hitting slump managed to cost him his spot on the big club when Victorino was ready to come back. The logjam of outfielders left him on the way to Pawtucket since he was the one player who didn't have to be exposed to waivers in order to be demoted.
 
The plan is to get him back in the majors at some point once they get his swing back in order. But I don't know where he's going to play once they do bring him back up. He won't be back as a starter, but more as a guy off the bench when Victorino or Grady Sizemore have to be rested to keep them healthy.
 
Jackie Bradley Jr.'s play in the outfield is balancing out his poor performance at the plate and Mike Carp continues to get a start here and there but has a well defined bench role.
 
David Ortiz made a bit of history this past week when he passed Harold Baines on the all-time games played list for designated hitters. Big Papi is now #1 on that particular list.
 
Of course, the biggest news of the week came during Wednesday's game against the Yankees. It ended up being the only win out of the three game set for the Red Sox, but it was the actions of Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda that really set everyone abuzz.
 
After being seen with pine tar on his hand/wrist a couple weeks ago, you would've thought he'd learned his lesson. But on Wednesday after getting rocked a bit in the first inning, Pineda came out for the 2nd inning with more pine tar on.
 
But instead of hiding it in his glove or something, Pineda blatantly smeared the pine tar on his neck. It was in full view of anyone who bothered to look. It is one of those famous baseball unwritten rules that everyone uses the pine tar but they hide and teams look the other way.
 
But something so in your face like what Pineda did left Red Sox manager John Farrell no choice but to have the umpire check Pineda. When it was shown to be pine tar, Pineda was ejected and the next day received a 10 game suspension.
 
But would someone please tell me how someone could be that freaking stupid? Pineda isn't just a cheater which is bad enough, but he's BAD at cheating which is somehow that much worse.
 
BOSTON BRUINS
 
After beating the Red Wings 4-2 yesterday afternoon, the Bruins advanced to the next round of the playoffs.
 
While they weren't fully dominating, the Bruins did what they needed to do after being shocked in the first game of the series.
 
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
 
Upper Cape Girls Varsity Softball - Despite the school vacation week the Lady Rams played just one game during the time off. Thankfully, they came away with an 8-4 victory over Falmouth to raise their record to 7-1 on the season.
 
Wareham Girls Varsity Softball - The Vikings remained winless on the season after losing 3-1 to Apponequet. Raelyn has been tagged with all 8 losses on the mound.
 
MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS ARTICLES
 
My friend J.D. has a new article up over on Pop-topia that takes a look at the Top 10 Most Outrageous of Fan Interruptions in Sport. It ranges from the comical to the very serious. You can read it here: http://www.pop-topia.com/top-10-fan-interruption-sports/
 
Anyone remember the old sports talk show The Sportswriters on TV? When I first discovered it, the show really opened my eyes to the notion of sportswriters being more than just people writing game recap stories. I know it was Chicago-centric a lot of the time, but it was also one of the most entertaining sports programs I've ever watched. There was a retrospective piece about the show on SI.com this past week and you can check it out here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/news/20140423/sports-writers-on-tv-show/
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
TV - The return of the BBC America show Orphan Black last Saturday was almost perfect. With the exception of a single scene towards the end of the episode, the show ratcheted up the tension and made it so that the series is appointment television.
 
Comic Books - My buddy Kayode went to Awesome Con in Washington DC this year and you can read his report on the show here: http://www.pop-topia.com/weekend-awesome-con-2014/ 
 
There's some new comics out that you might be interested in checking out, reviews for them can be read here: http://www.pop-topia.com/the-stack-03/
 
By the way, the annual Free Comic Book Day is this coming Saturday (May 3rd). You can read all about the event and learn what's being given away at local shops at http://www.freecomicbookday.com 
 
I'll likely be hitting a few shops for the purposes of doing another article, but that remains to be seen and/or finalized.
 
Music - My two latest CD reviews are for the John Gorka CD Brighter Side of Down. You can read it here: http://www.pop-topia.com/cd-review-john-gorka-bright-side/
 
The other review is the debut solo album from ex-Nightwish singer Anette Olzon. The album is called Shine and you can read my thoughts on the disc here: http://knac.com/article.asp?ArticleID=11419
 
 
I was listening to a sampler CD I'd gotten with a magazine I purchased a while back. I love the disc and have been playing it a lot. One song in particular stands above the rest. It's called "Ever See Your Face" and it is by the band Nubian Rose. You can see the video for the song below.
 
The change has begun - NCAA
Category: User Showcase

If anybody doubts that the NCAA is on the precipice of major change being forced by fans  popular opinion, and concerned corporate partners, along with a very jittery media and now a unionization challenge, they are missing the big picture or just not paying attention.  But the news Thursday that the NCAA is going to allow the top five power conferences broad powers to make rules changes and pay more athlete expenses? 

Not only is this laughable on the surface, this opens up a can of worms I don’t think they want to open. 

It takes decades to make a change in the NCAA and yet “out of the blue” this change comes?  If they are willing to do this, what’s next?

Secondly, I’m gonna be curious how this will affect this new College Football Championship Selection Committee.  What is to stop the Power Conferences from consolidating everything and completely shutting out the lesser conferences from getting to a major bowl?  Do you think for one second that they are going to allow the s, Boise States, and Northern Illinois’ to participate anymore?  They will be shut out with a quickness.

Thirdly, how is this BS gonna affect College Basketball?  Trust me, it will – the law of unintended consequences applies here.  Bandit and I go back and forth about who should be in the dance and who shouldn’t, but if this is gonna be about money, do you take a 10th place ACC team (let’s say NC State) over a 24-8 second place Missouri Valley Conference team (Indiana State)?

Fourth, how is this going to affect the lesser sports and Title IX?  A money grab by the big boys only hurts the less profitable D-1 programs and the lesser known/respected conferences by taking away any chances of earning cash.  Where will they get their money?  How soon before schools without access to generous benefactors/alumni/boosters start abandoning programs?

Fifth, how will the issue of transfers and injuries are handled?   I read that “hardship waivers” will be given one additional year to complete their eligibility.  OK, who defines “hardship” and how soon will this go to court under policy challenge?  Will a “hardship waiver” be easier to obtain in Notre Dame versus say Mississippi State or Houston?

Sixth, how will the NCAA control this behemoth?  The money simply means that schools within the big boy conferences can simply ignore them.  The SEC, PAC 12, Big 12, Big 10, and ACC are the money makers – they now hold all the cards.  Will the NCAA be relegated to overseeing the FCS, D-2, and D-3?

                                                                   

The NCAA can spin this any way they want and trot out all the smaller conference reps they can to say this power grab isn’t a problem, but like any government program, the devil will be in the details and how the program is rolled out.  When the reality sets in, the smaller conferences are gonna be pissed.

Look, I know we have fans of Notre Dame, Texas, Florida State, and many other major D-1 programs, and I have no problem with that.  But we also have fans of Cincinnati and Boston College and I have to ask the question – what about them?  What about CUSA, MWC, MAC, Sun Belt, the former Big East, and the service academies?  How do we go forward now?  It is time to do a complete reorganization.  Let me offer a solution:  The NCAA should reorganize sort of like the five (now six!) division realignment I keep talking about.

 

D-1 (Private Schools).  Since these schools are for profit, acknowledge it’s a business, put unlimited restrictions on money raised and recruiting, and let Northwestern, Syracuse, Stanford, U$C, the Ivy League, Duke, Vandy, Baylor, Notre Dame, BYU, Boston College and all the others fight it out – no holds barred.

D-2 (State Schools).  Same as the privates with a twist:  Each state is different, so the NCAA can put a money cap out there to keep it competitive between states so places like Texas and others don’t outspend the other schools.  It’s about money so let’s do this (similar to pro sports):  Anybody who goes over the cap must pay a luxury tax that goes to an account for needy scholarships for disadvantaged youth and military veterans (equally distributed) who qualify for any school within the state.  

Secondly, take ten percent of “the take” from bowl winnings, media money, and ticket/merch/parking sales and add it to said scholarship fund, and worthy charities.

If these schools want to move up to D-1 (which I doubt) to make unlimited money, let them petition their state board of regents and their state legislatures to do so.

Limit this division to 64 teams, with 16 teams in four regional conferences with an eight team playoff system.  Believe me, 64 teams with a TV contract in the billions divided equally is still a windfall.  Everybody else?  Drop them down to my D-3…

D-3 (CUSA, MWC, MAC, Sun Belt, the former Big East, Army, Navy, and Air Force).  I want to see some form of a playoff involving the lesser bowls in the beginning of December just after Army/Navy.  An eight team playoff perhaps featuring the five conference champs, and three at larges? 

D-4 (FCS), D-5 (Current D-2), and D-6 (Current D-3).  Continue as is because it seems to be going right, though review for anything that might help kids that is within the budget.  Remember, these schools don’t bring in the money the big boys do so it’s gonna be tough. 

Sunday Musings #143
Category: User Showcase
Tags: BostonCeltics BostonBruins HighSchoolSports NBA UConnHuskies TennesseeLadyVols BostonCollegeAthletics CollegeBasketball CollegeFootball
 
While still recovering from a spring cold that managed to kick my ass all over the place this week...
 
BOSTON CELTICS
 
The long nightmarish, though sort of expected, season has come to a conclusion.
 
The Celtics dropped their final two games of the season to finish at 25-57 for the year.
 
They lost to the Sixers 113-108. Kelly Olynyk established a new career high with 28 points and had 9 rebounds as well. Jeff Green scored 27 points and Avery Bradley added 23 points. Rajon Rondo scored just 8 points, but had 11 boards and 14 assists.
 
The season finale on Wednesday night saw the Wizards win 118-102. It was Olynyk again leading the way offensively with 24 points and 7 boards. Green scored 20 points and Bradley had 18. Brandon Bass scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Chris Johnson hit double figures with 10 points. Rondo sat out the last game and Phil Pressey scored 9 points and dished out 10 assists in his place.
 
It is hard not to be disappointed in a 25-57 season. There is no way to sugar coat such a bad record. And while a lot of people will be disappointed that the Celtics are likely not going to get one of those top 3 draft picks, given the level to which the expected names to fill those three slots were exposed in the college basketball tournament, they may not really be missing out on much.
 
The Celtics have a good coach who actually coaches. Brad Stevens did the best possible job he could given the situation. And it isn't like he doesn't have talent on the team. The Celtics have a ton of guys that are decent players and seemingly pretty good people off the court. They are missing that one dominant player to tie everyone together.
 
I'm not sure how they will go about finding that type of player or even who that player might be, but if they can tie the team together through that type of upgrade, the puzzle pieces they have in place right now just might be enough to turn things around faster than expected.
 
Kelly Olynyk has shown that he can be a force on the court. Jeff Green may never be the #1 scoring option he shows flashes of being able to do, but being able to put up 20 plus points on any given night is a nice second or third option to have.
 
The point guard situation is nicely outfitted with Rondo as the started and Phil Pressey showing he can be a capable backup and spot starter as needed.
 
Avery Bradley has developed into a capable two guard as an offensive player (his defensive capabilities having already been established), Brandon Bass is a solid post player and I love the hustle shown by Chris Johnson.
 
Of course, I know that some of the players are likely to hit the road in the offseason and I'm by no means suggesting that my thoughts on the players are going to be correct. But I liked the team on the court this year despite their struggles. Why? Because they played their asses off. It was not good enough to win a lot of games, but seeing the effort night in and night out during a "lost" season gives you a little bit of hope.
 
 
In other NBA news, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will not be returning to the job next season. While his record over three seasons was not good, the reason for the departure is tied more to the health situation with his wife than anything else. He was profiled in a SI.com piece that I read this week written by Joan Niesen and it delves into how great a coach he is on a variety of levels. You can read the piece here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140415/rick-adelman-minnesota-timberwolves-kevin-love/index.html
 
Also, the Milwaukee Bucks have been sold. Former Senator Herb Kohl has owned the team since 1989 and will remain as a minority owner after selling the team for a record 550 million dollars to a couple of hedge fund guys. Kohl has also apparently pledged 100 million dollars towards building a new arena. You can read more details here: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24529212/report-bucks-sold-to-hedge-fund-partners-for-record-550-million
 
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
 
ORR Girls Track - The Bulldogs track team keeps destroying their competition when it comes to track and field. They beat Bourne 122-13 this past week and my former player Rachel won the 800 meters event in 2:36.
 
Wareham Girls Track - My former player Paige had a huge week this past week. She finished 3rd in the 800 meters (2:31.4) during the Freshman/Sophomore meet which qualified her for States in that event.
 
When the Vikings faced GNB Voc-Tech later in the week, they ran away from their competition 94-36 to improve their record to 2-1. Paige was a big part of that as well. She won the 2 mile event in 12:16. She qualified for states in the event and broke the 37 year old school record (12:31). She was also part of the winning 4x400 relay team that finished with a states
qualifying time of 4:32.2.
 
Wareham Girls Softball - The varsity team dropped to 0-7 on the season after an 11-6 loss to Seekonk and a 6-5 loss to Bourne. Breanna had 2 hits in the Seekonk game. Raelyn got tagged with both losses on the mound.
 
Upper Cape Girls Softball - Improving upon their no-hitter earlier in the season, the Lady Rams beat South Shore 18-0 in a five inning PERFECT GAME! They are now 6-1 on the season.
 
BOSTON BRUINS
 
I don't write a lot about the Bruins, I know. But with the playoffs starting I thought I'd make note that the Bruins finished as the best team in the NHL. This finish brings them the President's Cup and makes me wonder...so what?
 
Okay, now I'm not opposed to them being the best team in the league heading into the Quest for the Cup, but the press over them beating the Sabres and sealing the President's Cup was completely ridiculous.
 
Personally, as long as a team qualifies for the playoffs, do you really care where they end up? Any team can win from whatever seed they start out as. Winning the President's Cup doesn't mean you will win the Stanley Cup. And being the best regular season team means nothing if you aren't the best team after the playoffs are over.
 
And while it is only the first game of the series, the Bruins losing 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night does not exactly inspire confidence.
 
Heading into the game, I was listening to the sports guy on the radio station I have on in the car. He was voicing the opinion I've heard from others that the Bruins facing the Red Wings is not a typical one vs. 8 seed kind of matchup.
 
 
COLLEGE BASKETBALL
 
Tennessee Lady Vols - Meighan Simmons is the only graduating senior for the women's basketball team this year. She looks back on her four years in Knoxville here: http://www.utsports.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/041114aac.html
 
 
She finished her week being drafted in the WNBA's third round by the New York Liberty.
 
 
 
 
Auburn - Though he can't go out and recruit until late August, that isn't stopping Bruce Pearl from talking about his new job coaching the Tigers. You can read what he has to say here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-basketball/news/20140416/bruce-pearl-auburn-show-cause-recruiting/index.html
  
Boston College - The Eagles finally got some good news when Olivier Hanlan, the men's basketball team's best player announced he would be returning to school for his junior year. There had been talk of him entering the NBA draft.
 
He met with new coach Jim Christian and made the decision to come back to school. For me, I think he made the right decision. He's the team's best player but I don't see him making a big impact on the NBA level just yet. I know if you stay and become a four year player in college, you are seen as having something wrong with you in this day and age. But I think that is pure poppycock. Some players might just benefit from a full college experience and have matured enough that you don't have to worry about a team babysitting him in the NBA.
 
SEC Men's basketball coaching changes - With the news that Cuonzo Martin leaving Tennessee for California and Frank Haith leaving Missouri for Tulsa, the power conference that is the SEC has lost four black coaches to programs with far less basketball prestige. Why is that? Check out this article from Yahoo! Sports for one writer's take on things: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/frank-haith-merely-the-latest-african-american-coach-to-leave-sec-for-lesser-job-060826346.html
 
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
 
Minnesota State, Mankato - The case of former Minnesota State, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner took another weird turn when an arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully fired and the coach returned to the school as their football coach. You can read the whole story here: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ex-minnesota-state-mankato-coach-returning-job-201558492--spt.html
 
But that wasn't the end of the story as players boycotted the first practice with Hoffner saying they wanted to keep the interim coach Aaron Keen as the head coach. You can read more about that and the resolution here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/255662001.html
 
Alabama - Stewart Mandel of SI.com had a interesting read on how Nick Saban is "starting over" with Alabama after the way last season ended for the team: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140417/alabama-crimson-tide-nick-saban-spring-practice/index.html
 
By the way, Twitter helped rake NCAA president Mark Emmert over the coals this week. It seems he was a guest on the Mike & Mike radio show when they took questions via Twitter with the #AskEmmert hashtag.
 
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
TV - The network shows are heading into their season finales with the CBS comedies Mom (already renewed) and The Crazy Ones (fate yet unknown) ending this past week.
 
BBC America started the second season of their critical and cult hit Orphan Black last night.
 
Still nothing could top last Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones which featured the most well deserved and well earned death in cinematic history.
 
Movies - You can check out the final trailer for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie below.
 
 
I saw the movie Frozen last week and found it to be pretty enjoyable. Even funnier was the Honest Trailer for the movie.
 
 
Books - I finished reading the Rob Thomas / Jennifer Graham mystery novel Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line before I got sick this week. It is set right after the events of the Veronica Mars movie and with the series/movie creator Rob Thomas involved with the writing, the book did have the right feel to it. The only flaw I saw in the book was the continued insanity of the fully grown adult title character to use a gun, or learn basic self defense tactics.
 
 
Music - Did anyone take part in Record Store Day yesterday? I usually try to go to the event which celebrates independent record shops with exclusive vinyl releases from artists both big and small. You can check out what was offered to fans yesterday via http://www.recordstoreday.com
 
I didn't pick up any of the vinyl releases, but I got three new CDs with the help of the special Buy 2 Get 1 sale at the Newbury Comics location closest to me.
 
I picked up the debut solo album from former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon called Shine. I grabbed a disc from last year called All Hell Breaks Loose from the band Black Star Riders (the remaining guys from Thin Lizzy). And finally, Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers had a solo album out last year called The Royal Sessions. It celebrates the songs and musicians of Memphis.
 
 
 
I also picked up (via online purchase) the 2013 self-titled debut from the rock trio The Winery Dogs. I had heard three songs when the album was originally released but hadn't yet gotten around to purchasing the CD. Now I have and hopefully there will be a review coming soon.
 
 
 
Comic Conventions - If anyone is in the Washington, D.C. area and you are looking for a comic convention to check out, why not try Awesome Con. My buddy Kayode has a preview piece about the second year of the show here: http://www.pop-topia.com/bigger-better-awesome-con-returning-washington-dc/
 
 
 
 
 
Sunday Musings #142
Category: User Showcase
Tags: CollegeBasketball Jerry Tarkanian BostonCollegeAthletics MLB NewEnglandPatriots HighSchoolSports WNBA MichiganStateSpartans BostonCeltics
 
 
While still marveling over Storrs, Connecticut being the center of the college basketball universe...again...
 
COLLEGE BASKETBALL WRAP UP
 
UConn - Monday night saw the rise of the men's basketball team to the top of the heap after their 60-54 defeat of Kentucky. Kevin Ollie did a marvelous job in guiding the team to the title and Shabazz Napier was just awesome.
 
 
Following that up was the UConn women's team completing a 40-0 season with their defeat of Notre Dame, 79-58. As a matter of fact, the game and entire women's tournament went pretty much how I thought it would. I told a co-worker that the women's tourney would come down to a matchup between #1 UConn and #2 Notre Dame and then UConn would win by 20 points. Which is pretty much what happened.
 
 
Speaking of the tournaments themselves, the final breakdown of the four brackets I had going broke down like this:
 
Men's NCAA record -  43-26 (Won the YouGabSports ESPN Bracket Challenge Group)
 
Women's NCAA record - 48-15 (Picked the national title winner)
 
NIT Record - 13-18
 
WNIT Record - 37-26
 
Kentucky - After the Wildcats loss, noise about John Calipari as the front runner for the LA Lakers job started getting louder. SI.com's Pete Thamel wrote that Calipari's coaching job in the final showed how he can never succeed in the NBA. You can read that here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-college-basketball-mens-tournament/news/20140408/kentucky-wildcats-connecticut-huskies-john-calipari/
 
Manhattan - After it was learned that Steve Masiello did not have the degree he claimed to have received and lost out on a job, he decided to try and stay at Manhattan. But the school put him on leave until they decided what they were going to do.
 
The news this past week was Masiello would keep his job but is on unpaid leave until he completes his degree studies at Kentucky. Associate head coach Matt Grady will run the team in the meantime.
 
UMass - This past Wednesday, sophomore guard Derrick Gordon broke the news that he was gay, thus becoming the first openly gay active player in D1 men's basketball. Reaction to the announcement was initially positive. Here's an article link: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/umass-basketball-player-gordon-comes-141736069--ncaab.html
 
Michigan State - Lacey Holsworth, the little girl befriended by Spartans player Adreian Payne, passed away this week after fighting cancer. You can read more here: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/father-girl-befriended-hoops-star-133020625--ncaab.html
 
 
UNLV - Former Runnin' Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian was hospitalized on Thursday. The 83 year old complained of feeling weak and having trouble breathing. His son was quoted as saying his father was having trouble keeping his eyes open as well.
 
It was later reported that Tarkanian is being treated for pneumonia and while improving is still hospitalized.
 
BASEBALL SCUMBAG OF THE WEEK
 
There was an article on ex-major league player Chad Curtis on Sports On Earth this past week. Curtis was one of those holier-than-thou jerks who constantly wore out his welcome on whatever team he played for. And as usual, the most virulently religious are usually exposed as the biggest hypocrites. You can read about how Curtis was revealed to be a major scumbag here via this Sports on Earth article link: http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/70575174/how-chad-curtis-went-from-hero-to-convict-for-sexual-misconduct
 
BOSTON COLLEGE ATHLETICS
 
Men's Basketball - There has been a lot of activity with the men's team this week. Between the introduction of the new coach to a flurry of transfer news both real and rumored, it has kept the fan base very engaged.
 
 
Men's Hockey - The Eagles faced off against Union College on Thursday in the Frozen Four.
 
They owned the first period, leading 1-0 at the break. But the start of the second period saw Union dominate the first 9 minutes. They took a 2-1 lead during that time. After that, the Eagles controlled the next 9 minutes allowing just one shot on goal for Union.
 
It was tied 2-2 after the second period. Union took a 3-2 lead. Boston College then got the benefits of a five minute power play. They weren't able to capitalize on it though. Union then took a 4-2 lead and things looked very bleak.
 
BC pulled their goalie with 2:32 left in the third and they managed to score to make it 4-3. Union countered with an empty net goal to make it 5-3.
 
Not to go down quietly, BC's Patrick Brown scored to make it 5-4. But with just 3.2 seconds left in the game, Union prevailed by that 5-4 score to end the Eagles season.
 
Also, while it doesn't reduce the hurt of finishing short of a national title, BC's junior forward Johnny Gaudreau capped his year by being named the 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner.
 
 
BOSTON CELTICS
 
Despite holding a 19 point lead in the 3rd quarter, the Celtics week started off with a 115-11 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The loss featured three Celtics going for more than 20 points apiece and Phil Pressey having a 12 point 11 assist night with Rajon Rondo sitting out.
 
Things didn't get much better on Wednesday night when the Hawks handed Boston a 105-97 loss. Avery Bradley scored 24 points to lead the offense while Rondo had 19 points and 12 assists. Jared Sullinger added 15 points and 11 boards.
 
However, the Celtics did manage to break their losing streak on Friday night thanks to a 106-103 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Bradley again led the offense by scoring 22 points and Sullinger had 20 points. Rondo was out with a bruised shin so Phil Pressey handled the point with 10 points and 13 assists.
 
They followed that up with a 111-99 win over Cleveland on Saturday night. It's been quite a while since they won 2 games in a row and over the first three quarters, the Celtics looked like the dominant team of yore as they built up a 31 point lead. A combination of them slacking off and Cleveland getting hot saw the Cavaliers outscore the Celtics by 19 points in the fourth quarter, making things tighter and the final score more respectable.
 
Kelly Olynyk scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Celtics. Avery Bradley also scored 25. Jeff Green and Brandon Bass also chimed in with 19 points apiece.
 
In other NBA news, Joe Dumars is reportedly going to resign as GM of the Detroit Pistons. He's been with the team for 29 years including a front office job since 2000. It's really too bad because he's been the one Bad Boys era Pistons player that you could actually root for.
 
But the team has been terrible the last few years and I don't think anyone can really argue that a change isn't needed.
 
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
 
Now that he's with the Buffalo Bills, ex-Patriot Brandon Spikes mouthed off on Twitter this week about his time with the Pats. While most of his comments were inconsequential hype, the one comment that is sure to tick off a lot of people was how he termed his time with the Patriots as "Four Years a Slave".
 
Really Brandon? Seriously? You are trying to compare being a well paid pro athlete with the black mark on US history that is slavery?
 
While I'm not in the habit of rooting for ex-players that leave the teams I root for, I generally leave them alone in terms of the booing and such. But with the idiocy of his comments, I'm going to actively root against Spikes during the two games he faces off against the Patriots.
 
WNBA
 
My fandom for the league has hit a downturn with the news on Thursday that the Chicago Sky had cut former Boston College standout Carolyn Swords.
 
She saw her season end early last year with a knee injury but when I saw her a couple of times at BC games this winter, she said rehab had been going well and expected to be back in Chicago for the upcoming season.
 
I don't know what if anything happened to make the team change their mind and release her. But I do know that they are losing out on a decent backup.
 
I don't know what her plans will be now. She could go overseas again or look for another WNBA team. (The Connecticut Sun would be a nice landing spot for my own selfish reasons of being close enough to actually go see her play again)
 
However, with her departure from the team, my interest in the Chicago Sky just went into the crapper. And with Katie Smith retired, there are currently no active WNBA players I have any interest in following. Yes I'll keep track of the New York Liberty because Smith will be an assistant coach there this season but it will be a different experience to not be rooting on a particular player.
 
 
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
 
Wareham Girls Track - The team picked up their first win of the season by beating Bourne 106-30. They won all but one of the individual events in the meet. My ex-player Paige picked up individual wins in the long jump (14 feet 4 1/2 inches) and the 800 meters (2:41.4). She and another of my former players (Kali) were part of the quartet that won the 4 x 400 meter relay event (4:41.4).
 
Wareham Girls Varsity Softball - The Vikings got blasted by Fairhaven on Wednesday, losing 19-4 in a mercy rule shortened game. Rae-Lyn got tagged with the loss on the mound.
 
On Friday, the Vikings lost to Old Rochester 15-5, despite Gina going 2-3 with a home run.
 
They are now 0-4 on the season.
 
Upper Cape Girls Varsity Softball - The Lady Rams are 4-1 on the season after beating Cape Tech 16-0. The Upper Cape pitcher threw a no-hitter.
 
Friday's game against Old Colony saw the Rams take a 14-13 thriller to improve to 5-1 with a 2-0 conference record.
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
Movies - Pop-topia.com reviewed Captain America: The Winter Soldier here: http://www.pop-topia.com/steve-rogers-squares-s-h-e-l-d-captain-america-winter-soldier/
 
Music - My review of the Lone Justice CD This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983 can now be seen via the following Pop-topia.com link: http://www.pop-topia.com/cd-review-lone-justice-lone-justice-vaught-tapes-1983/
 
 
You can check out the video for the new Winger song "Tin Soldier" below.
 
 
 
Books - I finally finished reading a book this week. It was the Star Trek Enterprise novel Rise of the Federation - A Choice of Futures by Christopher L. Bennett. It was a surprisingly good read and much like the other books based on the Enterprise TV show, far better than anything that came in the first three seasons of the series. I loved the fourth season which was just awesome until the abomination they call the series finale.
 
 
 
I also picked up the Ingrid Thoft thriller/mystery Loyalty. It is the first book in her series featuring PI Fina Ludlow. I read a review of the second book in the series and thought it sounded good so I wanted to read the first book.
 
 
TV - The extended trailer for 24: Live Another Day has been released online. You can see it below. I get more excited as May 5th draws closer.
 
Sunday Musings #141
Category: User Showcase
Tags: BostonCollegeAthletics BostonRedSox BostonCeltics ClevelandBrowns HighSchoolSports CollegeBasketball WakeForestDemonDeacons TennesseeLadyVols
 
 
While chomping at the bit to watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones on HBO tonight...
 
 
BOSTON COLLEGE ATHLETICS
 
Football - The Rookie Journey to the NFL draft continues for running back Andre Williams. You can read the latest installment of The MMQB.com's series on his preparations here: http://mmqb.si.com/2014/04/04/andre-williams-boston-college-nfl-draft/
 
 
Men's Hockey - The Eagles beat UMass-Lowell 4-3 last week and advanced to the Frozen Four. They'll play Union on April 10th in the national semifinals. BC is 28-7-4 on the season and it would be great if they could win another championship.
 
By the way, does anyone know why there is such a long delay before the Frozen Four games?
 
Men's Basketball - For those who didn't see my Coaching Carousel entry this week, the men's basketball team has a new coach in Jim Christian. He spent the last two years at Ohio University where he went 49-22.
 
In demonstration of the fact that I don't actually know EVERYTHING, when I first saw the report of his hiring, my reaction was "Who?!"
 
He seems like he's a pretty good coach, though coaching at Ohio is a bit different than coaching in the ACC. His first order of business is going to be convincing sophomore Olivier Hanlan to stay in school. Rumor has it Hanlan is considering entering the NBA draft.
 
If he's successful in keeping Hanlan in school, he has to recruit ACC ready talent, win with them and re-energize a fan base that has come to expect losing rather than winning. It is a tall order. Here's hoping he can do it.
 
Women's Basketball - While their season is over, preparations for next year are already underway. The women's basketball team's Twitter feed has been covering the workouts the team is going through the past week or so.
 
BOSTON CELTICS
 
The losing has finally started to fray the patience of coach Brad Stevens over the last week or so. He hasn't gone ballistic or anything but his comments in the press after games and such have had a bit of frustration in them.
 
After four more losses this week, it isn't hard to imagine him at least metaphorically pulling out his hair at night. A 23-53 record will do that to you.
 
The week started off with back to back games against the Chicago Bulls. The first game was a 107-102 loss that saw Rajon Rondo score 17 points and dish out 11 assists to lead the team. Jared Sullinger had 16 points and 10 boards. Five others also hit double figures in scoring.
 
Jerryd Bayless scored 18 points in the second Bulls game to lead Boston but they lost 94-80.
 
The Wizards pasted Boston 118-92 despite 25 points from Sullinger.
 
On Friday night, the Sixers knocked off the Celtics 111-102. Bayless scored 23 points and Rondo had a triple double (11 points, 11 rebounds, 16 assists) but Philly's Michael Carter-Williams had 24 points to power the Sixers.
 
The season is winding down and Boston is obviously not headed to the playoffs. I'd imagine Stevens and GM Danny Ainge will be looking at these final few games to see which players continue to play hard despite having nothing to look forward to in terms of postseason play. Those that do will have a good shot at returning, and those that play as if they've given up will find their roles either reduced or recast with someone else.
 
By the way, the question of what the hell is going on with the Warriors reared its head again with the news that they have fired assistant coach Darren Erman. They used the cover all excuse of "violation of company policy", but I wonder what the real story is. Article link: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24515216/warriors-fire-assistant-coach-darren-erman
 
BOSTON RED SOX
 
Four games into the season and the Red Sox are 2-2. Nothing spectacular, nothing horrifying. I saw the end of the opener and was bummed when Jon Lester gave up that homer to Nelson Cruz. I missed the 2nd game but saw the start of Game 3.
 
I was happy to see the Fenway crowd boo the hell out of Milwaukee's Ryan Braun yesterday during opening day in Boston, even though the Brewers won 6-2.
 
Say what you want, but Boston sure does put on a good opening day show, particularly after a World Series win.
 
I know there are those who are already breaking down stuff about these four games and will predict greatness or divine tragedy for the season but for me, it is just far too early to have an opinion on how I think the team will do this year.
 
Plus, I'm a Red Sox fan, my default setting is hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
 
By the way, here's a look at the World Series ring:
 
 
NFL
 
In the latest round of "The Cleveland Browns really suck" coverage, Don Banks of SI.com takes you through the last 20 years of incompetency here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20140403/cleveland-browns-misery/index.html
 
 
COLLEGE BASKETBALL
 
CBI Tournament - The best of 3 series between Siena and Fresno State came down to the final game on Saturday.
 
After splitting the first two games, it was the Siena Saints (the alma mater of one of my cousins) who put the 81-68 beatdown on Fresno State to win the  2014 CBI Championship.
 
 
WNIT - It was Rutgers vs. UTEP for the WNIT championship on Saturday afternoon. Rutgers went up big, but blew the lead. The game was tied with 8 seconds left before they went the length of the floor for a layup with 2.1 seconds left and went on to win the championship.
 
 
Tennessee Lady Vols - The Lady Vols season ended in the Sweet 16 with a loss to Maryland last weekend. They finish 29-6 and lose leading scorer Meighan Simmons to graduation.
 
The two biggest reasons for their loss were the 22 turnovers in the game and the fact that they had no defensive answer for Maryland's Alyssa Thomas. She scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
 
Simmons led Tennessee with 31 points but Jasmine Jones was the only other player in double figures for scoring in the game. Bashaara Graves had 14 rebounds and Isabelle Harrison had 10 boards.
 
But with Simmons gone, the question becomes how do you replace her offense? And let's face it, Tennessee is no longer an ELITE team. They are very good and they have a lot of talent, but it doesn't seem to be the same quality as in past seasons.
 
And on the Rebkell message board, one poster even posed the question of whether it was time to move on from coach Holly Warlick or not. This was a ridiculous question in my mind. She's been there for decades of course, but she's only in her 2nd year as the head coach. And she's been reasonably successful. Not as successful as Pat Summitt (very few coaches ever could say that) and maybe not as successful as the fan base wants, but all in all she's done more than enough to stay in charge.
 
But there are things that need to be done. At times this season it seemed as if the team was completely out of synch. They failed to forge a distinct identity. Sure they mostly beat the teams you expected them to, but the wins over the BIG programs were few and far between.
 
They need to find an identity that incorporates the talent they already have and the incoming freshman class. They've got Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison and Cierra Burdick in the post as well as seemingly underused Mercedes Russell. Andraya Carter took over as the point guard when Ariel Massengale just disappeared from the rotation. But their guards are definitely going to have to step things up immensely.
 
And in the recruiting wars, Tennessee simply has to start landing those high level blue chip players again. The ones currently heading to UConn, Stanford, Notre Dame and Baylor.
 
Otherwise, the Lady Vols will end up seeing a coaching change sooner rather than later. And the more you clear the tradition from the program the more the school's AD will be able to put his stamp on the program and he's already demonstrated he's less concerned about the women's teams at the school than he is about the men's teams. 
 
Wake Forest - It's now official. The Demon Deacons have hired ex-Tulsa coach Danny Manning as the new men's basketball coach. In my coaching carousel post this week I noted about Manning being interviewed for the job and how I didn't think it was such a good idea to go to a program that is never really going to compete in the fully stacked at the top ACC.
 
SI.com's Martin Rickman delves into the hiring and the potential effect it will have on the program as well as Wake Forest's AD here: http://college-basketball.si.com/2014/04/04/wake-forest-danny-manning-ron-wellman/
 
Men's Final Four - I won't be able to include coverage of the 2nd national semi-final game, but Kevin Ollie and the UConn men's basketball team just destroyed my bracket.
 
After being down early, the Huskies dominated Florida and advanced to the national championship game. This is one hell of a turnaround for UConn who on March 8th got annihilated by Louisville and for sure looked like they were not even going to make the Sweet 16.
 
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
 
The spring sports season has gotten underway. I'll be keeping track of the Wareham girls track team, the JV and varsity softball teams for Wareham and the varsity girls softball team at Upper Cape.
 
While the track team hasn't started yet, Wareham's softball teams have.
 
The JV team won their season opener against Middleboro 4-3. Gabby is the catcher and she had a hit and a RBI in the game. She also threw out a runner at 2nd base.
 
The varsity team lost to Middleboro 7-0. Breanna had 2 hits. Rae-Lyn pitched giving up 5 hits with 8 K's. In their Friday afternoon game against GNB Voc-tech, Rae-Lyn got the loss on the mound as the Lady Bears rolled 13-2. Breanna had 3 hits in the loss.
 
As for Upper Cape, the girls team won their first two games, including a 22-5 win in Game 2. Unfortunately they lost to Bourne yesterday afternoon 6-5.
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
TV - This past Monday was the series finale of How I Met Your Mother and it was an so bad that it ruined the entire series for me.
 
This is what I wrote on Facebook about the finale:
 
"How do I feel about the How I Met Your Mother series finale? The show ended at 9:01 pm EST tonight and I was glad that I had never invested in the DVD sets of each season, because by 9:02 pm EST, I would've been listing them on eBay.

It took 9 years for them to tell this story and 60 minutes to absolutely F*CKING DESTROY IT. What a horrifically bad piece of crap final episode.

People should be ...ashamed of themselves and their ability to discern good from garbage if they thought this was a good way to end the show. And I mean both the fanbase and the people responsible for the show.

Much like the reboot Battlestar Galactica show, HIMYM becomes another series where the ending was such a catastrophic travesty, that I can never watch the series again.

And while, yes, it is JUST a TV show, I invested 9 years in it...the return on investment should've been better than what the ending was.

Just an abomination of a series finale."
 
The Walking Dead season finale last Sunday was excellent. Oh and the funny people populating the Net had a couple of good fake photos related to the show this past week. You can see them below. Believe me, if you are fan of the show you will TOTALLY get the meaning to each photo.
 
 
Game of Thrones starts tonight (9pm EST on HBO) and I'm really looking forward to that. Before that though, you can check out this hilarious NSFW Honest Trailer about the first three seasons.
 
 
Movies - I went and saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Friday. It was fantastic. A really great movie that combined all the expected heroics of a comic book movie and infused it with the great drama of both a political and spy thriller. It was extremely well done and one of the better Marvel Comics movies they have made. I'd pay to see it again in the theaters and it will be a must buy when it hits DVD.
 
 
I also saw 47 Ronin on PPV. It was a decent enough movie but I don't feel it was one that I'll end up watching multiple times.
 
 
As for another action flick, my buddy Kayode wrote the following review of the film Sabotage: http://www.pop-topia.com/sabotage-review/
 
 
Oh and I saw the Vince Vaughn "comedy" Delivery Man yesterday. It had moments of funny but the concept of the story doesn't really lend itself to a hour and 45 minute comedy movie. Especially when they try to cram in some relatively dramatic situations as well.
 
 
Comics - I'm a big comic book fan and one of my favorite comic writers is Peter David. I have boxes and boxes of all the comics he's written and even that isn't complete. And now he's returning to one of his previous characters. Marvel Comics is doing another Spider-Man 2099 series! Peter David wrote the first series and they are bringing him back for this one too. This of course means that I will be adding the title to my pull list when it gets solicited next month.
 
 
 
I picked up Volume 5 trade paperback of the series DMZ this week. Entitled "The Hidden War" it tells 6 smaller stories about characters both new and established. Unfortunately I didn't really connect with this round of the story much at all.
 
 
Food & Drink - Do you like to combine your inner geek with your taste in alcoholic beverages? If so, you can check out the new Klingon Ale that is coming out. Read all about it here: http://www.blastr.com/2014-3-24/qplah-today-good-day-drink-klingon-ale
 
 
Books - I picked up the new Faye Kellerman book The Beast this week. It's the latest in her Peter Decker / Rina Lazarus mystery series.
 
 
Music - I'm a reader of Classic Rock magazine and each issue comes with a free CD that has about 15 songs on it from a variety of bands both new and old. Usually, there is one or two songs I like and the rest kind of just leave me feeling EHHHH about them. The latest CD has one particular song on it called "Julie (Hang Out a Little Longer). It's by Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band. I found it to be superb and made sure to mention it on FB. The band saw it and hit the like button on my comment. I thought I'd include a Youtube link to the song for you to hear it as well.
 
 
Also, you can check out the new Red Dragon Cartel video for the song "Shout It Out" below.
 
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