Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thanks for the Memories, Kelly Beidler

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

I get the feeling that if you're a fan of a rival NEC team - you're glad to see Kelly Beidler go. And not just because of the play that #4 brought to the court. But also because of the attitude. I sense that Beidler may not have been the most likable in opponents gyms.

For me, I was a fan - and it never bothered me. Of course, he was wearing the blue and white of the Mount so that had an effect. Beidler was part of the five man recruiting class (Holland, Goode, Cajou, and Jackson) that was much ballyhooed before setting foot on campus what seems like such a long time ago. And he always struck me as the most physically gifted of the group. There have been a lot of great athletes, a lot of great basketball players and a lot of guys with size who have made their way through the Emmitsburg campus. But there were few who combined the three the way Beidler did.

At 6-feet 5-inches and strong - a body once described as Billy Packer - as an ACC type - Beidler became the 41st player in Mt. St. Mary's history to score 1,000 points. But his greatest attribute might not have been in his offensive game. Certainly, he could score, he passed pretty well - and for a player as strong as he was he became a pretty good shooter as well. But where, Beidler really made a difference was on the glass. He is the Mount's all-time leading rebounder in NCAA Division I tournament games. He had 15 in the win over Coppin State. And his rebounding only got better, he averaged a tick below 7 rebounds a game as a junior and a tick above 7 as a senior. He also did a good job defensively. His athleticism led to some big blocks and his speed and quickness allowed him to guard players away from the basket as well.

There was also a striking resemblance between Beidler and Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones. My daughter first noticed it. And as she says, "Jones looks like Kelly". It's not the other way around - and I think Beidler would appreciate that.

I've heard recently that Kelly is upset he won't be back next year. You may remember that Beidler was set to redshirt during his freshman season. But when Joey Butler was dismissed, he quickly moved into the rotation. Now don't get me wrong, I'd love to have Kelly back next year. But I think that everything that went well these past four years had a lot to do with Kelly Beidler. And if he hadn't gotten the experience of his freshman season, after missing the the start of his sophomore season, he may not have been able to contribute the way he did in the NCAA tournament run. And he was plenty needed then. He scored 15 points in all three NEC tournament games. During his junior year, he was named to the NEC all-tournament sheet.

As Mountaineer fans I'm not sure we ever fully appreciated Kelly Beidler, but man are we going to miss him.

So my best wishes to "KELS" as his teammates call him. May his future be bright.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The day after tomorrow

Written for your enjoyment by: Ray Curren

Pigs flying through the sky. Hitting the lottery. Me managing the Yankees.

All things I thought had a bigger chance of happening than Butler playing in the Final Four this season.

RingCentral Fax 20% Off First 2 Months I saw them play, saw their numbers, saw them picked into Syracuse's bracket and thought it was a great matchup for them. Butler, out of the mighty Horizon League, didn't see many zones and didn't see anyone with the size of the Orange.

Wrong, wrong, and horribly wrong.

The point is that predicting the future - and that includes sports - is darn near impossible, despite what the ghost of Jimmy the Greek will tell you.

For approximately the 35th straight year, Butler is a team I had out in the first round that will play in the Final Four.

And they should have been out. UTEP had a big lead on them at halftime on the first day of the tournament when I had to leave to go to soccer practice. When I came back, Butler had won by 19. In the second round, Murray State had them dead to rights, but Butler pulled it out in the end.

With a few days to prepare for the Syracuse zone, the rest is history. As a logical person, these types of things anger me. Syracuse is supposed to win the game against Butler because they have a better team.

But tournaments (and sports in general), don't work that way. As Herb Brooks said, "Nine times out of 10, they beat you. But not tonight." I'm sure Northern Iowa could have given the same speech before they beat Kansas. that's the beauty of the underdog.

Unless you're not the underdog.

And although I come off as bitter (because I am), all credit to Butler, who played the better game last week. They were better prepared and deserved to win with all the mistakes that Syracuse was making. If Arinze Onuaku could have played, would the result have been different? Probably. But that really doesn't matter now, does it?

The thing about games like this, as a coach or as a fan, is that they happen. Your team gets upset. They should have made this play or that play. The other team makes a 3-pointer that bounces high in the air and goes in.

You can analyze and overanalyze and uberanalyze, but you can't find a reason for everything in sports. That's what makes them so interesting to watch.

A few days later, this one still hurts. In trying to figure out why, I think Syracuse men's basketball is the team I'm most attached to these days in sports.

I've rooted for the Yankees since childhood, but that's almost apologetically these days with the amount of money they spend. I root for Chelsea soccer in England, but I've never actually gone to a game in London. I root for the Giants in football, and they would probably be second.

There's something about your alma mater, though. Especially a likable bunch like this team was.

But they lost. That's life. I'm not going to analyze it any further than that.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A little perspective, please

Written for your enjoyment by: Ryan McNaughton

Like most other Syracuse fans, I'm bummed. This isn't how the season was supposed to end, not when you're a number one seed. Not when your perspective Final Four opponent is knocked out in the second round. Not after blowing through their first two opponents in Buffalo. But c'est la vie. They laid a stinker at the worst possible time, and poof...it's over. In addition, my beloved Buckeyes decided to let Evan Turner try to do everything against Tennessee by mostly watching as casual observers. It was a rough 24 hours for yours-truly sports-wise.

But then I received an e-mail that helped put things in a little more perspective. I found out about the sudden passing of Geoff Sindelar. That name probably doesn't register to anybody outside of Northeast Ohio, but if you grew up in the 80's and 90's and followed sports radio, he was a titan. He used to fill-in for the legendary Pete Franklin on WWWE, then received his own show on WKNR, one of the first all-sports radio stations in the nation. The station would produce names you may recognize, such as Pam Ward and Marc Kestecher. It was later a station that I would have the good fortune of being on for eight years. My tenure began right after his ended, but his spirit was always around you. You see, much like those of us on this blog, he was a fan. He had his own successful business outside of radio, and treated his shows like a hobby. But the guy knew his stuff, perhaps more-so than those of us who actually used the gig to put food on the table. Sindelar was a sports collector, with his famous, "that's a good item!" line still being mimicked to this day, along with others like, "horse feathers!"..."that's crapola!"...and his favorite, "Karlovic!!!", in reference to his longtime producer. He referred to his callers as, "neighbors" or "gang neighbors," and treated them with respect, which is, sadly, more than I can say for many of today's hosts.

I've always done my best to look at the big picture while working in the media. While it has its own unique challenges, it's a job that most red-blooded men would kill to do. I had the good fortune of doing so for many years, and used the Sindelar formula to enjoy the ride and not take itself, or myself, all that seriously.

It's unfortunate that it sometimes takes the worst of news to put the world of sports into its proper place. Myself, and many former colleagues, have been reminded how to do so yet again. Rest in peace, "gang neighbor." You were a pretty good item too.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Morning After

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Still trying to shake off the disappointment of the Syracuse loss last night. There will be a time when I'll be able to sit back and say that this team was fun to watch - maybe the most enjoyable Syracuse team in my time - and reflect on the good things that it did. But for now, its still a little tough to swallow.

  • Although watching the K State/Xavier game last night did make it a little better. Because that game reminded me how good the NCAA tournament is. When you are one of the favorites and you lose - you tend to forget that a little bit. Because I'll be honest, Butler winning last night was a great thing for the NCAA tournament. A great thing for the game. A great thing for the casual fan. But upsets hurt more than regular losses do to the fan of the team.
  • Butler deserved to win. Not saying the Bulldogs played great - because I think they can play better. But they made plays when they had to - and they had a gameplan to slow the Orange down and it worked.
  • Syracuse has flourished this season because of its depth on the floor. That was taken away last night. Rick Jackson did not play well -- and I might be being nice. Kris Joseph was a non-factor. Andy Rautins made as many bad decisions as he did good. Wes Johnson was probably the best Orangemen, but not at his best. Brandon Triche looked timid. It just wasn't a good night.
  • Arinze Onuaku was missed - if not for the sole reason that he would have given the Orange another option when Jackson was so bad.
  • I was surprised that the Orange didn't contemplate a 3 forward arrangement - or a three guard look with Rautins and Johnson flanking Joseph in the back of the zone and Triche and Jardine out top. I think offensively it would have worked, not sure about the defense or rebounding.
  • By my count that is the third straight Sweet 16 disappointment for Syracuse. The loss to Oklahoma last year - and then the loss to Alabama the year after the national championship. 
  • Butler controlled the tempo - and when they were able to do that, they won the game.
  • Brad Stevens make look younger than Josh Pastner - but he can coach. Anytime Butler needed settling he used a timeout and the Bulldogs got something out of it. 
  • The most impressive thing for me about Butler's performance wasn't that they built the 12-point lead. But how they responded to Syracuse taking a 41-40 lead (5 straight points) and how they rallied from down 54-50. 
  • Lacrosse doesn't mean a damn thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In the words of Chuck Thompson

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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If, ifs and buts were candies and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas.

But you'll get no excuses tonight. At least none here. Syracuse was just flat out beaten. Went West - didn't play well and was out-executed in the end.

Tip of the cap to the Bulldogs. They played hard - and their defense early was very good.

It's the second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen for the Orange -- and a second straight surprise. Last year, they were the underdog, but they weren't even close. This year, they were the favorite and the result was the same. Major disappointment for the Orange.

Still a fine season -- with plenty of accomplishments that were somewhat unexpected.

It's all sort of a blur at the moment. Just a disappointing end to what was a fascinating season.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thanks for the Memories, Will Holland

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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If you ask me about Will Holland 20 years from now I'm probably going to chuckle, and say - the guy never missed a shot from April to November. Because the buzz about Will was always that he was this shooter who never missed.

I didn't ever really see that part of his game until his senior season. Instead, I saw a kid from Texas - who worked hard, played solid defense, posted up well on the low block - and occasionally knocked down the open jumper. I think he got more out of his game then his physical attributes called for - and I'll remember #11 as one of the guys I'd like to see on the floor again.

His career at the Mount started as a freshman out of Texas - and he quickly got early minutes. He came with high hopes - he set a Texas 3-pointer record as a senior in the Houston Area - and to come north to the Mount was a good get for the program.

He quickly became a starter - and he had some good games - but he never quite became the three-point marksman that we were expecting. And during the NCAA run of his sophomore year - he certainly contributed - but he also looked like the one guy most likely to be replaced next season. And that is exactly what happened. Kelly Beidler and Jean Cajou - both earned their minutes on the floor - and Holland was pushed to a back-up sixth man role. Never did we see an outward display of displeasure. He still played hard - and he was a positive influence. Yet his play seemed to suffer.

However, the NEC semifinal his junior year was one of Holland's finest games as a Mountaineer. With roommate and point guard Jeremy Goode saddled with four fouls early in the second half, Holland almost willed the Mounties to victory and a spot in the championship game.

All through his career we also heard about a knee injury that was bothering him. There was always the offseason question of whether or not he'd have surgery. There was always the relief felt when it wasn't necessary. But it finally cost him some games during his senior year. At first it didn't seem to really bother the Mount. But then the losing streak started. Nine games. Holland played in a few near the end. But he wasn't playing full minutes. And then all of a sudden he was back to full strength. And the jumpers started to fall - and the wins came. He led the NEC in 3-point FG % - his senior season. And the little things he did continued to be part of his game - and he recorded a double double or two - and may have been the key factor in the Mount's second half resurgence.

If I'm writing about Holland and I failed to mention the support he got from his family and Texas friends, I'd be missing something. Here was a kid from Houston - whose family seemingly never missed a game. And I recall one game over Christmas break either last year or this year - there was a group of college aged kids rooting especially hard for Will Holland. It was always nice to see.

Will Holland will always be part of the first Mount team to win an NCAA Division I tournament game. And
he will always be a part of my memories of Mt. St. Mary's basketball - and I thank him for his time and effort over the years. He will be missed when they start shooting basketballs in the Knott Arena again next fall.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Destroy and advance

Written for your enjoyment by: Ray Curren

I thought Gonzaga was a good matchup for Syracuse, but that's not to say the game went as I planned this afternoon. Gonzaga was not a great shooting team this season, despite their success in the West Coast Conference, but I figured the Cuse would be able to get inside against a soft Zags defense.

Instead, with Arinze Onuaku out, Syracuse decided to go outside, hitting 12-of-25 3-pointers in a surprise beating of Gonzaga. Well, the final tally was surprising at least. I've been saying for a while that Wes Johnson has been hurt, and I still believe that he was, but was certainly at 100% today, borderline unguardable (and 14 rebounds to boot), and that makes the Cuse the same way with Andy Rautins and Brandon Triche (an underrated shooter) running around.

If there was a negative today, it was that Rick Jackson was pretty ineffective offensively, only 5 points. But at this time of year, it's just win and advance and Thursday will be a whole other challenge.

Looking at Butler, I haven't liked them all year. Their conference is very weak, and they have a couple of decent wins on their resume (like back-to-back wins over Ohio State and Xavier), and they've played and won a lot of close games this season.

It's a different battle than Gonzaga. Despite their "mid-major" status, Gonzaga played more like a "major". They had a lot of size, and didn't shoot as much from the outside, woeful 3-of-21 today from 3-point range.

Butler will shoot better than that, and the problem Syracuse will have is multiple shooters, although the hot hand currently appears to be Shelvin Mack, who hit seven 3s in their comeback win over a pretty good UTEP team. Overall, Mack is shooting 40% from behind the arc and they had two other dangerous shooters in Willie Veasley and Zach Hahn.

But their most dangerous player is 6-9 forward Gordon Hayward, who can step out and hit the 3 on occasion as well. With Onuaku, he's probably not going anywhere inside. Without him, maybe he will.

However, Syracuse has played and done well against teams that shoot the ball very well from the outside (see: Cornell). And a big key this year has been defensive rebounding, which was OK today without Onuaku.

So, in a nutshell, even without Onuaku, I'm cautiously optimistic. But I'll be ready to sweat it out if need be.

(Totally unrelated: My high school friend found this old Reebok commercial from back in the day, which I think Lamar Mundane fits Andy Rautins pretty well)

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Syracuse Gonzaga Game Blog

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Second round action from Buffalo awaits...post your thoughts in the comments section

12:18 - Didn't like the first segment of action. Gonzaga clearly was the better team. They seem more prepared - more focused on the task at than than the Orange. Syracuse looks tentative and is settling for jump shots. Wes Johnson has made a few and just got a key offensive rebound and putback - plus a foul. The Bulldogs don't seemed bothered at all by the zone. I was hoping that Scoop Jardine might bring some attack to the Orange offense and for the most part he did. But I don't like this start.

12:25 - That was much better for the Orange. And again the catalyst was Jardine. He just makes the offense a little bit better - especially in this up-tempo stuff. The zone bothered Gonzaga a little bit more that time, but they are finding a way to get behind it some - and getting easy baskets. We'll see if Syracuse adjusts to that - and if Gonzaga has an answer for the adjustment. I said 86-68 before the game. I feel a lot better about that now. But the Orange needs to build off the momentum it just started.

12:35 - It's a six point game and the Orange basketball at the U8 timeout. Rick Jackson has three fouls, but it hasn't bothered the Orange yet. I wonder if SU would go to a Kris Joseph in the center of the zone - like they did in MSG for the 6OT game last year? I still like the offense better when the ball is in Jardine's hands. The next 7+ minutes will be pivotal - I'd like to see some seperation, but with Jackson on the bench - keeping the lead where it is might be the most you can ask for. Also, time to get Wes back involved.

12:46 - The seperation came - The Orange pushed it to double digits 10 - and then Gonzaga either refocused or the Orange relaxed a little bit. The lead is six at the U4 - but Gonzaga is at the free throw line. Syracuse needs to keep getting to the rim and creating offensive chances. This is the first time in the tournament that they've missed/needed Onuaku. But Sacre having two fouls has helped to even things out a bit. Finish the half strong is a key - and get KJ going.

1:13 - Syracuse finished the half strongly. A 15-point halftime lead is the result. Gonzaga got a tip-in to close to that margin 47-32. Brandon Triche played well - he shot it very well - and he got to the rim a few times which really helped. Also a tip of the hat to Deshonte Riley - who really did well defensively - and didn't kill the Orange at the offensive end. He kept one miss alive which led to points and he made a good pass to Triche to pick up an assist. Gonzaga is real bothered by the zone. If they don't find Harris on the baseline - they are clueless. Syracuse needs to maintain focus and keep the space between the two teams. If Gonzaga is able to make a little run - they will start to believe that will happen. The Orange needs to prevent that.

1:30 - It's all over in Buffalo. There is still 15:10 on the clock - but its Over. 62-36 Orange lead - and this is the team that we saw through the first 30 games of the season. Butler is next - another mid-major - another Bulldog. Butler will provide more of a challenge.

1:35 - The reason the game in Salt Lake concerns me a lot more than today's is that Butler's strength is in its defense. They won't have the athletes - and maybe a little less athletic than this Gonzaga team - but they can lock it down defensively. They were ferocious in the come-from-behind win over Murray State yesterday. Hopefully, AO can go - because having both he and Jackson inside will provide difficulties for the Bulldogs. Kansas State - who really impressed me yesterday is one of the other teams making the trip to Salt Lake. The Wildcats will play the Pitt/Xavier winner - which comes later today.

1:40 - No signs of letup. The Orange is piling it on. Up 30 at the U12. Sharing the basketball and knocking down open jumpers. Not sure we've mentioned Andy Rautins today. He has, ho hum, 22 points. This team has been very sharp today. Expect to see a lot of Mookie Jones, James Southerland and Dashonte Riley from here on out.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Thoughts from Day One of the Tournament

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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I haven't seen a lot of the action, my loss, I'm sure, but it is that time of year....Obviously, it seems like there have been a lot of upsets. And based on the seedings there have been. But other than Georgetown falling, nothing has been a real shocker....Of course had Robert Morris knocked off Villanova there would have been another shocker....So is the Big East not as good as advertised? Maybe so. But let's wait and see how the Big East's best four teams - Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia and 'Nova fare before we really decide that.....It's got to be a tough night for Robert Morris - they had the Cats on the ropes and let it get away late....I didn't see the game so I don't know if it helps Mike Rice get a different job or not. My original thought on that was that it definitely did. But then when I thought about it, they choked away an eight-point lead at the last TV timeout - they came only three weeks after coughing up the big lead at Knott Arena. I would think that would raise some concerns. I still bet he is gone....If Montana and New Mexico were playing in the regular season would anyone notice. Would it even get top billing on the Mountain Network?....I told you to beware of BYU all season - and Jimmer Fredette came through with 35 points - including some big threes in the second OT....I think the win will loosen up the Cougars - and they'll play even better on Saturday against K State.....Kansas is finishing off Lehigh as I type this. A game effort from the Mountain Hawks - but this is about to become Rock Chalk JayHawk in the Second Half....Was not at all surprised that Old Dominion beat  Notre Dame. The Irish was definitely playing well down the stretch, but ODU was the most impressive team I saw play against the Mount this season. The Monarchs are very good defensively - and were able to slow down a good Notre Dame offense....Keep in mind the Mount plays at Murray State next season....Some of the credit for the Ohio victory tonight would have to goto Tim O'Shea the head coach at Bryant. One would think he recruited a majority of the team that beat the Hoyas. However, the top two scorers Armon Bassett and DJ Cooper both came on board after O'Shea left....

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Monday, March 15, 2010

One Less Plastic Easter Egg

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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I remember exactly where I was and what I did.

I was in the Living Room of the old house on Baltimore Street, it was around Easter time and Caton liked to hunt the eggs. Didn't matter if I filled them or not. We had an Easter Egg hunt every day that year. But after the overtime loss to Vermont in the first round of the 2005 tournament, there was one less egg to find. The basket sat on the coffee table in front of me...and when the clock expired on the loss, I grabbed the nearest one and across the room it sped. Smashing hard off the wall and falling to the floor, where it lay cracked. One less Easter egg to find.

That was five years ago -- but I remember it like it was yesterday. And now the NCAA has decided to go drudge up old memories. Memories that were better left to fester - and hopefully one day be forgotten.

There was definitely the thought that maybe that Syracuse team was special. Special enough to go deep into the NCAA Tournament. Special enough to go further than the #4 seed would suggest. But it never happened. The NCAA dumped the Orange in Worcester, Mass - a short drive from the Vermont campus - and everybody in the Arena became a Vermont fan - or so it seemed. Just like everybody had become a UMASS fan when the Orange played the Minutemen there in 1992 or somewhere around that time.

So when the names first came up yesterday, the immediate thought of any Syracuse fan had to be - "You've got to be kidding me, them again?" And an immediate sense of fear. I know it was mine. I mean why couldn't we just get Lehigh as the reports had suggested all week.

Then I started to realize it didn't matter. This wasn't the same Vermont team. They didn't even had the same Coach. Heck, Tom Brennan's star has lost so much glitter since that day that he lost his ESPN retirement job to boot. Now the Catamounts are led by Mike Lonergan, who wanted nothing more than the Mount coaching job at the time that the Orange was losing that night. Heck, Lonergan was probably still stewing that he didn't get the job. He'd join Vermont the next season.

I saw this Vermont team play this year. A solid bunch, but nothing spectacular. Well Marquis Blakley might be spectacular. Certainly athletic - and a nose for the basketball and the rim. But not sure how well he'll fare against the Orange zone. Although they will want to put a body on him when the shots go up, because he does get to the boards. But he's undersized which will be a big factor in this game. He has the ability to step outside, but not to consistently shoot over the zone.

If anyone is going to that it will be Kris Joseph's big brother Maurice. He has a nice touch from the outside, decent size, but I wouldn't put him in the caliber of shooters who have torched the Orange zone in the past.

So here we are - five years later - in the same place (the first round of the NCAA tournament). But it is oh-so different from five years ago. This isn't a Vermont team with NCAA experience. It isn't even a team that won the America East regular season crown - that honor went to powerhouse Stony Brook. This isn't a Syracuse team amidst controversy over playing time. This isn't their backyard, it is ours.

So don't expect any surprises on Friday night. Expect a rout. Syracuse has the ability to go inside and punish this team - and I think they will. The Vegas line says 20. Anything less than that will be a surprise.

But hide the eggs; just in case.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Be afraid?

Written for your enjoyment by: Ray Curren

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I've always said that - in my lifetime - that a No. 16 seed will beat a No. 1 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It's just numbers. Last year was the 25th season of the 64 (or 65) team field. So, do the math, the No. 16 seeds are currently 0-100. And I'm not getting any younger.

Which obviously brings us to Friday's game between Syracuse and Vermont. Any Orange fan remembers five years ago (it was five years ago already?) when the smaller but feistier Catamounts finally shot the Orange to death in overtime to the delight of the basketball nation. Except us.

As you can probably tell by my tone, I'm worried. Should I be? Well, consider that Vermont is no ordinary No. 16 seed. They have a 25-9 record and the inside-outside duo of Marqus Blakely and Maurice Joseph. You can look at some early-season losses, but of late, Vermont has been red-hot.

Granted, it's America East, barely even a mid-major conference, and Vermont didn't even win the regular season title (Stony Brook did).

Syracuse rolled through the toughest conference in America and won the Big East championship.

Even Vegas (who knows all) doesn't believe Vermont has much of a chance, as Syracuse opened as 20-point favorites.

But with Arinze Onuaku now out, something doesn't quite sit right about Friday's game. I'm not afraid of Gonzaga or Florida State, both mediocre teams. Butler doesn't scare me at all, while Vanderbilt is a modest threat, but not a terrible draw.

I'm worried about Vermont and the fact that nothing lasts forever. Of course, the streak doesn't have to lost forever.

It just has to last one more year.

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Friday, March 12, 2010


Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Hello and thank you for calling the Mount Sportsline...........

That is the number I used to call and the response I'd get. When I was a kid that was how I found out if the Mount won or not. At least when they were on the road. There was no internet - no updating scores on the bottom of ESPN - and for a long time not even a radio broadcast. So, I'd religiously punch the numbers in about 2 hours and 15 minutes after tipoff - hoping for two things. 1) That the line would be updated and I wouldn't catch hell when the phone bill came for needing to make 2 long distance calls - and 2) that the Mount won. They might not have necessarily been in that order. But who knows.

10% Off RingCentral Office - first 3 monthsSo why do I bring this up now?

Well there have been a few complimentary things said of the Fan Blog and my writing over the last few weeks. And I just wanted to say thank you for noticing. It's nice to be appreciated. But I really don't think what I am doing is anything special. I like to write - and at times it becomes very therapeutic for me - and I like the Mount. In addition, I like hearing what other folks think of the topics that I write about.

I don't think we'll ever set any page view records on the Fan Blog - and it isn't about that for me anyhow. Instead, its just about being the guy on the end of the phone. The guy updating the sportsline - letting other folks know what I already know.

Once again, thanks for reading - and thanks for noticing.

Please don't anyone call the number - it is no longer in service - and I'm sure has been reassigned.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Goode named Northeast Conference MVP (Updated)

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

CollegeInsider.com has released its 2009-10 awards and Mount point guard Jeremy Goode was name the NEC  MVP by the website.

Goode became the Mount's all-time assist leader during the season leading the Mount to a 16-15 record. He led the team in scoring - and moved into the Top 10 on the all-time list in Mount history.

33% Ex Officio at Magellan's Mt. St. Mary's participated in the inaugural Collegeinsider.com Postseason Basketball Tournament a year ago. This year's field will be announced on Sunday evening. Former Mount coach and College Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Phelan is part of the selection committee. I don't know if the Mount is a prospect for the tournament or not this year. One person I checked with earlier this week, said no. However, I would think the Quinnipiac loss last night would help the Mount as it locks up an NIT spot for them. Therefore, if the CollegeInsider wants a team from the NEC - the Mount would seem to be the next most logical.

If I know anything more, you'll know it here. There is still a chance that the Mount might be in the postseason. But its a small chance. Let's just say that there would be a lot of surprised people on Sunday night if that happened.

Justin Rutty of Quinnipiac was named the conference Player of the Year, while Mike Rice won the Coach of the Year award.

Other stuff I found out today....The MTE does still involve Murray State. The Mount will visit Murray - along with Cincy and Dayton - and gets a home game with Jackson State.

Also, I'm not going to the Legends Classic. The marquee home game is expected to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving. American and Navy will also come to the ARCC.

Penn State returns to the schedule, and there are still at least one money game to fill. Recent opponents Oklahoma and Virginia Tech - as well as Maryland could fill it.

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Legends Classic It Is

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Syracuse will compete in the 2010 Legends Classic with the Championship rounds being held in Atlantic City on November 26th and 27th. Michigan, Georgia Tech and UTEP will join the Orange in AC.

The Orange will host two games at home before heading to New Jersey - and double check with Doug Gottleib to make sure that is far enough from the Salt City to be counted as a neutral game. Other teams in the field are Albany, Bowling Green, Detroit, Gardner-Webb, Mercer, Niagara, Western Carolina, and William & Mary.

Syracuse will play two of those teams, and making the assumption that it could be Albany and Niagara makes sense. The Orange advance to the Boardwalk regardless of the outcomes of those games. Those teams will then play subregional rounds in Detroit or William & Mary.

Florida won the Legends Classic this past year. The Legends Classic is a MTE hosted run by the Gazelle Group and hosted by the Northeast Conference.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And all I got is this lousy T-Shirt

Written for your enjoyment by: Ray Curren

HAMDEN, Conn. - I have no real ties to Quinnipiac University, other than pure geography. They let us use their baseball fields, which was nice. I went to a basketball camp there once. Also nice.

But back in my youth, it was Quinnipiac College, a small Division II school that had no athletic aspirations, other than to beat Southern Connecticut State every once in a while in field hockey.

Save $5 off $50 with Coupon Code MAR550Of course, that all changed in 1998 when the Quinnipiac brass decided to go Division I. What? Division I? Quinnipiac? Little did we know that there was a huge marketing push complete with gobs of money (official term) coming from somewhere to make it big-time, even though I still needed directions to find it after living here for 20 years.

Then they announced plans for a $54 million arena (actually two arenas), and - like magic - it appeared, opening in 2007, replacing venerable old Kahn Court - which is smaller than my high school gym. This new arena will never be mistaken for a high school gym, and the adjoining hockey arena is even nicer.

How did they pay for it? I have no idea, but I'm guessing they're banking on rich mommies and daddies of incoming students from the area. All I know it looks nice.

About the same time, they opened the arena, they jettisoned nice guy (but recruiting-challenged) Joe Desantis and hired UConn assistant Tom Moore to bring their program "to the next level."

Fast forward to tonight, where I trucked up the hill to the beautiful TD North Center an hour before gametime to see traffic? Scalpers? As we walked in, they gave us yellow T-shirts to wear, and I was caught up in QU fever (Quinnipiac is too good to be a college anymore, remember).

Honestly, the atmosphere was tremendous, about 4,000 - or as many as they could fit without the fire marshal looking the other way for the NEC final against Robert Morris. This was to be the coronation, the ticket to the "big-time", the NCAA Tournament. Only the Colonials spoiled the party. In truth, the Bobcats (too good to be called the Braves now, remember) did little offensively, and star Justin Rutty got caught in the big moment and just wasn't visible enough in the second half. QU shot terribly, put up only 50 points, and had to watch Robert Morris celebrate on their home court.

It's a crushing blow for now for Quinnipiac, but there are only two institutions in Connecticut gobbling up more land than them and they are Yale and the local Native American casino. The garage (garage?) I parked in tonight was still under construction, and rumors swirl that QU could be ready to join a new conference like the MAAC (bring on Rider, baby). The people that run Quinnipiac athletics now we here in the New Haven area are quite starved for athletic entertainment (the mayor, while doing well, decries spending any money on a stadium for minor league baseball and knocked down the local hockey arena), and there may be a market for a team moving up the ladder like Quinnipiac.

Maybe. But as I take off my t-shirt I can feel my QU fever cool a little. Traditionally, I have supported long-struggling Yale in this area (playing in ancient, Gothic Payne Whitney Gym, built in 1932 where I went to see them get blown out Saturday by tournament-bound Cornell), but this time next year I may catch the fever again.

Of course, right about now, it's Syracuse fever, and hopefully that one will last at least a few more weeks.

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Empty Feeling

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Make no mistake about it - I'm a Mount fan.

And I've had tonight circled on my calendar for a long time. So when I got up this morning there was an extremely empty feeling within me. And I think its going to be there for awhile - not even the realization that ABBA was coming to the Majestic Theatre on Saturday night could do anything to cheer me up this morning.

Because there will be a game tonight. They will crown an NEC champ. Somebody will lock down their bid to the NCAA tournament (and maybe even avoid Dayton). But it won't be the Mount.

And when I thought about this team and this season, there was hardly any way that the Mount wouldn't win tonight - or wouldn't at least be playing in the game. Two years ago - on a team with only one senior among its regular rotation - the Mount made a glorious run through the NEC Tournament - won the whole shibang - won the play-in game, and lost to Carolina in the NCAA tournament. I think we all assumed that with the group that got them there - 5 sophomores and freshman among the top 8 - that at least one more trip to the Dance would be in order. And maybe, just maybe, they could get the lead in one of those tournaments and play the starring role of Cinderella.

But something happened in those two years. And really to put my finger on it and say this was it - I can't do it.

However, I sense it was a combination of the following:
  • Chris Vann, Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell were all more important than we ever gave them credit for.
  • The Mount offense, which was unleashed in late January of that glorious season and was new to all the opponents at that point - became a better known quantity and allowed opponents to adjust and find ways to at least slow it down if not stop it.
  • Some injuries and eligibility issues kept guys from stepping in and contributing when they were needed.
  • There weren't enough balls on the floor offensively. The Mount had enough balance to be effective - but too many guys who could have been stars. During the first year, everybody was happy because the team was winning and it was new. And for that matter there weren't enough spots on the floor. Will Holland, Kelly Beidler and Jean Cajou had to share two positions. And it certainly hurt Holland - at least last year - when he went from being a starter during that great run to a reserve last year. And this year - four or sometimes five, interior players rotated through two spots.
  • The focus of the offense seemed to change a bit - or at least what opponents allowed did. This team was never best in a half court set - yet it did improve through time - and the interior play became as important as the perimeter.
  • Confidence seemed to lack when things didn't go well. At the end of 2008 - and the start of the 2008-09 season this team played as well as it ever did. But a tough schedule and some bad breaks made them second guess themselves - and then when things didn't go well it was tough to overcome.
So certainly I'm disappointed. I thought that this group would achieve a lot more than it did. But that isn't to say that this group wasn't enjoyable or that I'm happy to see them go. I'm going to miss Jeremy Goode, Kelly Beidler and Will Holland. Miss them a lot. They are going to be missed in Knott Arena. And not just for the play they brought to the floor. But for the way they carried themselves.

These guys end up as one of the most successful recruiting classes in Mt. St. Mary's Division I history. They made the NEC tournament four times, winning 6 games, they played in the NCAA tournament and helped give the school its only Division I tourney win. So when I think back on these guys down the road, I'm going to think of what they accomplished - and not what they didn't. Because I think the total picture, they accomplished a lot more than they didn't.

They deserved to go out in a better fashion than they did. Deserved to get one more standing ovation from the Knott Arena crowd - deserved to finish one more left handed dunk - deserved to get an open look for three and bury it from the wing - deserved to get one more scoop to the hoop for the hoop and the harm.  

Yes, there will be a game tonight. And they'll crown the champion and the winner will rejoice on making the Dance. But I for one won't be watching.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tids and Bits

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Still trying to adjust to the fact that the season is over for the Mount. I don't think there is any CBI or College Insider bid awaiting in the wings. But nobody knows for sure - until those bubble teams find a way into or out of the Big Dance.
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Speaking of scheduling. I think that Murray State is now out of the MTE event in Dayton/Cincy next year. My information is telling me that Arkansas-Little Rock has replaced the Racers. The way I understand it is the Mount will get a home game with UALR - and a road game with a still to be announced foe. I haven't gotten full confirmation on this - but the information I have leads me to believe this is accurate.

There are two ways to go out. You can take the high road or you can take the low road. The low road was open on this one. After some self-reflection - and a good reminder from a friend, I opted for the high road. I didn't like losing to Robert Morris, I'll root for Quinnipiac in the finals - but the fact remains that the Colonials were clearly the better team on Sunday night. As I said immediately following - another day, another game, who knows? But the great thing about athletics is you have to perform when the lights go on. The Mount didn't have their best game - and the Colonials did. Tip of the hat to them.

As far as spies and stealing plays, etc. goes - I didn't see Belichek on the broadcast. But maybe his video equipment was interfering with the Pack Network feed. Richard's information, and no disrepect to him that Robert Morris knew what was coming was no shock to me. For three years, I've watched Mike Rice and his staff stand on the sidelines and call out the Mount play a split second after Goode did. Many of the other NEC coaches do the same. And one of the reasons I was so concerned going into the game on Sunday was the fact that I figured Rice and his staff - who really had stopped the Mount offense for 30-35 minutes had figured out what went wrong in the last five and was busy fixing that. Not only were they doing that, but they were adding a few things off the ball screen up high. Karon Abraham's 3-pointer on the first play of the game only helped to open up some of the adjustments RMU made. Rice - and all his antics - is a real good coach. I doubt he'll be there long. The job at his alma mater, Fordham, is open. We'll see how that develops.

And that isn't to knock the Mountaineer staff. They have worked extremely hard to get the Mount to the level they are at. And the level has definitely improved over the last few seasons. The talent level is as high as I've seen it. There are big parts to replace - but it sounds like there is a fine class coming in. Brown and his staff have reassembled a program - and put their face on it. There are plenty of good days to come for the Mount. How many days until October 15th?

It's the rainy season in Morocco, who knew?

Steven Strasburg makes his spring debut today for the Nationals. Two words. Ben McDonald.

Gonzaga got pummelled in the West Coast Championship game last night. I think the Zags might be an early out. They really seem like a team who needed the tournament to be in December or early January. But maybe this gets them going again.

Would love to see Jim Boeheim win the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award presented by College Insider . He's one of 15 finalists and he's my pick.

But I've got to admit I'm starting to have doubts about the Orange's ability to win the whole thing. First time that has happened this year. The offensive efficiency with the injury to Wes Johnson has struggled. And they need him and to be efficient. I still think a long tourney run is possible and maybe probable - but winning the whole thing will be tough. I think they are a 1 seed if they get to the semis in NYC.

Teams I wouldn't want to see in my bracket, Wisconsin, Wofford, Maryland, Ohio State, BYU.

The Coaches vs. Cancer announced all their teams yesterday. We knew about Maryland, and heard rumblings about Pitt. Illinois and Texas are the other two. Should be two good days of hoops - and maybe a train out of NY will be in order.

I'm still waiting to find out what MTE the Orange might be playing in next year. I've connected the dots on most of the fields. I'm thinking Cancun could be a possibility - or maybe Legends Classic. I had heard the Orange was ticketed for the Preseason NIT - but they are not eligible for that - as you are not allowed to participate in an event more than once every four years. Tennessee is the only team I have locked into the Preseason NIT.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Celebrity Facebook

Written for your enjoyment by: LARGE
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Ben Roethlisberger just wanted to go to the club. What’s the big deal?
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Pac-Man Jones Big Ben, give me a call when this blows over. Let’s get our hillbilly on!

Tim Finchem (PGA Commissioner) Over here! Hey! Somebody look at me!

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Brett Favre is leaning towards retiring.

Andy Reid Donovan McNabb is my starting quarterback. So is Michael Vick. So is Kevin Kolb. Working out a system where we can throw the ball more than once on every play.

ESPN has officially changed it’s name to ESP90-XN

Brett Favre is coming back. Definitely.

Jim Boehiem nothing says edge-of-your-seat drama like a 19-46 game in the first round. The NHL used to let everyone in and look how successful they – oh…

New York Knicks took the quiz, “Which NBA All-Star will be on your roster next year?” with the result: error: are you crazy?
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Tim Finchem OMG, OMG!! The Masters start next month. Tiger, please, please, please call me!
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Danica Patrick Boys, I’m not in the race for a week and you have to go flipping each other to get people to watch…tsk,tsk,tsk.
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Brett Favre Just buy Wranglers and check back in mid August

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Not much to Say

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Robert Morris handily defeated Mt. St. Mary's 80-62 at the Sewall Center on Sunday evening. The Colonials just flat got after the Mount in the second half - holding the Mount to 22 points after the intermission. The majority of those came from the free throw line - as the Mount really struggled in the half-court offense after the break.
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Credit to the Colonials - and their staff for the fine performance. Offensively, RMU got a lot of open looks - and lots of easy baskets against a Mount defense that has been superb down the stretch. The Colonials were able to eliminate the turnovers that plagued them a week ago - and shot better than 50% from the floor. They'll face Quinnipiac on Wednesday in Connecticut.

Karon Abraham led the way for the Colonials - while Rob Robinson had a nice game inside as well.

Jeremy Goode led the Mountaineers - he finished with 20 - in what is likely his final game for the Mount.

Another day - another game - it might have been a different story. But this was clearly all RMU.

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NEC Semifinal - The Mount @ Robert Morris

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

The Good News is I've got the Feed rolling. The bad news is that is Mary Poppins music for the warmup. Where is the mute button?

Cradlepoint Mobile Broadband Router MBR900 I'm pretty tense and nervous headed into this. I haven't liked the way the Mount has played the last two times out. The offensive effort hasn't been up to par - not to the level necessary. Also I just checked and the number has moved to Robert Morris -2 - so somebody thinks the Colonials are going to win. I hope they lose all their money.

I also feel like based on the way things went last week in Emmitsburg - where everything went right for the Mount down the stretch - that a close game might not work out so well. I'd like to see a comfortable lead down the stretch. And that might be very difficult in Moon Township.

The one thing we do know is the NEC Championship will be contested Wednesday night in Hamden Connecticut on the campus of QU at the TD Banknorth Center - or some fine hockey Arena. The winner of this game will contest the Bobcats.

So I'll have my thoughts and comments as the game rolls along  - and hope that you can post some of yours in the comments section.

My feed stinks....so it looks like the game is being played in slow motion. I don't think the Mount will give up 47 again in the second half... that has been a surprise to me. There was a time when I actually felt pretty good with the way things were going. But Robert Morris has a good offensive plan and is doing the job both inside and out. But the feed I'm getting is beyond choppy - so its really tough to tell too much at all. I'm holding out hope.

Let's Go Mount.
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Game Day

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Get the Gear and Get Out There

It's the NEC playoffs - so it must be Robert Morris and the Mount.

The teams will meet in the NEC postseason for the (it's been so long I'm losing count) fifth straight season today when the schools do battle at Robert Morris' Sewell Center at 7pm tonight. There is no TV coverage - but there will be a free internet stream at www.northeastconference.tv

So make no mistake about - these two teams are heavily familiar with each other - and the rivalry represents the NEC at its best. The two schools split a pair of games this season - including the Mount's unbelievable come-from-behind win at Knott Arena last Saturday.

The two schools met for the NEC title - on the same floor last year - and the only time the Mount had beaten the Colonials since Mike Rice became head coach, prior to last weekend, was when the Mount bounced the conference champs from the field in 2008.

In both of the contests the Mount has been able to neutralize Rob Robinson - who maybe RMU's best player - mainly because he was in foul trouble. It might be too much to ask that the athletic 6-9 forward spend more time on the bench than on the floor in this one.

But the Mount did pound the ball inside last time - particularly late. They drew fouls - and Shawn Atupem was superb from the field - it was his bucket that gave the Mount a 62-60 win, so expect them to try to get the ball inside early. But they must also make some jumpers. The Mount was horrid outside the paint a week ago. Some of it was because of the RMU team defense. Some of it was rushed shots. Some of it may have just been bad luck.

Both teams play sensational defense - and the Mount was able to keep Colonials freshman guard Karon Abraham in check during last week's win. That will be key again today. You can bet the Robert Morris coaching staff has tried to find ways to stop the inside presence of the Mount. That should open up the outside, but jumpers from Will Holland, Jean Cajou, Kelly Beidler and Jeremy Goode have to find the bottom of the net - if the Mount wants to spring the win on the road.

The Mount is obviously the hotter of the two teams - having won 11 straight games down the stretch. However, offensively their efficiency has dropped over the last two games. I'm not sure they can struggle as much offensively and win this game. 1 point per possession should be enough to get the job done. But that is no easy task against the Colonials.

Truly - I think this game is a tossup. I feel the Mount is slightly better than RMU - more experienced and seasoned - with a little bit more offensive ability. If the game was at Knott Arena - the Mount would be the firrm favorite. But on the road - against a team it has had problems with in the past - and its a tossup. The oddmakers have made RMU a one and a half point favorite. That seems to make perfect sense.

But upsets happen. Particularly in March. Flip the coin. And hope it comes up Mount.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sunday Night Broadcast

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

The Mt. St. Mary's Robert Morris NEC semifinal will be broadcast live on www.northeastconference.tv on Sunday night at 7pm. So if you aren't making the trip out the turnpike - tune in and watch the Mount.

I am not making the trip. So I will have a live game thread here on The Fan Blog with my thoughts and comments during breaks in the action. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section.

I hope to have more as we approach the game.

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Crowning Champions - while others tip off

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

Things are really heating up - and I guess ESPN's Championship Week officially begins today. Murray State and  Morehead State play in the OVC. Mercer hosts East Tennessee in the Atlantic Sun, Coastal Carolina tries to get it done in the Big South - Winthrop which has owned the conference in recent years takes on the underdog role in this one.

Meanwhile, three more conferences get their shindigs underway.....


The Big Sky has an interesting concept. Only six of its teams make the party - dislike. The top two teams get byes - like. The other four play tonight at the home court of the higher seed - like. And then the winners play the top two in a four team tournament at the conference champ next weekend. Weber State is the conference champ - and should be the favorite. They will have two tough games next weekend though. Montana is the #4 seed and might very well be the second best team in the conference. Northern Colorado or Montana State most likely would be the opponent in the final and both would be capable of an upset.


Eight conference members meet in Sioux Falls South Dakota. Sounds like fun. The conference champ was Oakland - and they are solid. However IUPUI is a little bit better. I would be shocked if those two don't meet in the final - anything could happen in that game, but I'd give IUPUI a little bit of an edge.


For me this is another situation where the conference champ, Troy, isn't a deserving favorite. I think any of the three good directional schools pose a better chance. Having to win four games in four days might hurt Western Kentucky's chances. But I do think that either North Texas or Middle Tennessee could spring an upset. This conference is usually a tough out in the NCAA tournament - and often times provides some surprises in the conference go around. I wouldn't expect this to be any different.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

The East Coast has two good Conference Tourneys starting today

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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I like both of these conferences and truly you could spend the weekend in Richmond or Albany and see a lot of good basketball. Both of these conferences have an outside shot at two bids if the champ doesn't win, but it isn't likely.


If I was in the room and Old Dominion didn't have an automatic bid - I'd make the case for putting them in. But I'm not in the room - so the Monarchs better win the tourney this weekend or they could easily be eliminated. They certainly have the best chance - but this is a strong conference - and both Northeastern and Virginia Commonwealth (especially since it is in Richmond) could make things tough on ODU. William and Mary was a darling early but has sputtered a little bit down the stretch, I think if anyone really makes a charge here it would be Hofstra - but I doubt they have enough to get it all done.


The fact of the matter is - if Siena doesn't win this on its home court it doesn't deserve to get in. The rest of the conference is solid but not spectacular - but Siena with home court advantage should win - and if they don't they can't whine too loudly. Fairfield would have the best shot to knock them off - but Joe Michalik at Niagara always has his teams playing well at this time of year - and they own a win over the Saints - so maybe they can do it again. A loss can't come soon enough to end Psycho and the Greyhounds season.

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Where is our Patriotism?

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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Maybe I'm just still too caught up in the Olympic Spirit. Or maybe I'm just way off base here, but why is it that it seems like American Athletes do everything they can to avoid participating in international team events - while athletes from other nations bend over backwards to get to play.

I guess it was the Davis Cup that set me off this morning. Yeah that - and a magnitude of computer issues - but never mind any of that - the fact that Andy Roddick isn't representing the US in the rubber in Serbia just bothers me. Just as it bothered me that Venus and Serena didn't show up in France - and that the US basketball greats needed to be humiliated at the international level before everyone jumped on board - and that our pro golfers - spend the week of the Ryder or President's Cup talking about how they won't be paid - and then (minus Valhalla in recent years) give an uninspired effort - and don't even get me started on the World Baseball Classic and who shows up for that.

I realize that for all of these folks the sport is a profession. And that might not be as easy as it appears. The travel and scheduling could get to be a grind. But we, as the fans, ultimately pay for these big salaries. Either through ticket sales and beer purchases - or our interest allows for television contracts that lure sponsors that are looking for our interest. So it would seem to me these athletes owe it to us the fans to go represent and perform well at the international events.

Because it bothers me to lose to Serbia in Tennis - I'm just assuming that will happen. Bothers me to get beaten in the Ryder Cup by the Euros. Bothers me to finish 7th in basketball at the World Championships. Bothers me not to win the World Baseball Classic. And bothers me to lose the gold medal hockey game to Canada - even though it is their game in their barn. Bothers me to lose in the US Gold Cup to the Mexican National team.

Maybe I expect too much. But other than the majors - is there a better weekend in golf than the Ryder Cup? And even with that said - normally who does seem is more excited. The US players, the Euro players or the Gallery. I'd certainly rank the US players third.

That just doesn't make sense to me. So when guys like Andy Roddick decide to take the weekend off to get ready for Indian Wells (or spend some time with his SI cover wife) it bothers me. Maybe it shouldn't - but it does.

So I'll root for John Isner and Sam Querrey to defeat the Serbs this weekend. And I'll thank them for their commitment to the cause. I just think athletes in the US (not just everywhere else) should be lining up for that chance and opportunity.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Survive and Advance

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

There wasn't a lot that was pretty about the first round NEC win for the Mount on Thursday night. But the one nice thing about this time of year is that you aren't judged on style points. The Mount advanced to Sunday's conference semifinals with a gritty 65-50 win over St. Francis PA at Knott Arena on Thursday. As expected all four of the top seeds advanced on Thursday, so the Mount will face heated rival Robert Morris at the Sewell Center Sunday evening at 7pm. Quinnipiac and Long Island will meet in the other semi at QU. That game will be available on MSG and Fox College Sports at 2pm Sunday.
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Kelly Beidler led the Mount to this victory. He was strong both offensively and defensively and was a force on the glass for the Mounties.

Cedric Latimer tried to keep the Red Flash in the game early. He knocked down four three-pointers in the opening half coming off the St. Francis bench. But Beidler ended up with the mark on Latimer and the Mount defense didn't allow him a point the rest of the night.

The Mount started very well and the Flash - which hasn't been a mainstay in the conference tournament - started very slowly. The Mount led by double digits midway through the first half before Latimer got hot and helped to draw the Flash within 6 at the break.

It never really got to close in the second half. The Mount got a key basket from Beidler, or so it seemed, everytime they needed it - and kept the lead at a comfortable level. Devin Sweetney, whose fine career came to an end in the defeat, did everything he could to keep the Red Flash close. At one point the Mount built the lead to 15 - but Sweetney scored 8 straight to get St. Francis within shouting distance.

I haven't seen a final box. My guess is Beidler ended up with about 16 and 11 rebounds. Will Holland shot it very well in the first half - and made his fouls down the stretch - and was definitely in double figures. I think Jean Cajou's free throw shooting probably got him into double figs as well.

Jeremy Goode and Shawn Atupem both missed large portions of the game in foul trouble. Goode did score the first two points of the game - and had 8 at one point - but it clearly wasn't the best performance the senior has ever had.

As usual it was a fairly balanced attack for the Mount, that was buoyed by the strong defensive effort.

Now its on to Pittsburgh for Sunday's tilt with Robert Morris. It should be something.

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Three More Start Today

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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But really only one matters....so let's start there with a little more in depth look at the 1st round games


#1 Quinnipiac hosts #8 Monmouth

The Hawks really fell hard and just got into the field. I don't think this is a real good matchup for them either. They lost by nearly 20 in this same spot a week ago - after beating QU earlier this season. Monmouth has been one of the more inconsistent teams this season - as they have posted some good wins over Wyoming - Texas A&M-CC and over the Bobcats. But having lost 6 of 8 and 8 of 11 makes them hard to recommend.

#2 Robert Morris hosts #7 Central Connecticut

If there is going to be a first-round upset logic might say its here. Howie Dickenman is a good coach and he got his team to win three straight down the stretch to get in. But RMU handled CCSU in New Britain - and the Devils have struggled against the top teams in the league - losing all four games to the top three. Still we'll have to see how the Colonials respond to letting one get away and costing them the overall title. They have limped to the line, but maybe they are ready to refresh.

#3 Mt St. Mary's hosts #6 St. Francis PA

The preseason favorite has won 10 in a row - and is a clear favorite here - and if they didn't have to play the top two teams on the road - might be a favorite in the whole tournament. The addition of Raven Barber - and the return of Will Holland from injury has helped the resurgence. Devin Sweetney will try to help the improving Red Flash into the second round, but he and his teammates have a huge mount(ain) to climb.

#4 Long Island hosts #5 Fairleigh Dickinson

I don't think many thought the Knights would be in this spot. But they have a chance in this one against an inconsistent LIU bunch. The Blackbirds have the talent to beat anyone is this league, but also the inexperience and inconsistency to lose any time out. LIU won by 6 at home in the only meeting. I think they'll advance tonight.


They call this one ARCH Madness. Because its played in St. Louis - has nothing to do with McDonald's. Kinda clever - and the Valley is always some of the better basketball being played this time of year. Northern Iowa is probably a clear cut favorite, but something tells me they aren't going to win it. Just a hunch. If there is a dark horse - it has to be Missouri State. The Bears were one of the last teams in the nation without a loss - so they could get it going again. But winning out of the 7 hole isn't easy. They'll play an extra game tonight in the 7-10 showdown with Evansville. I think I'll take the 3rd seeded Illinois State Redbirds. Just a guess.


This would be worth spending four days in Charlotte for. They get started with four games today and then the big boys join in tomorrow. I've liked Wofford all year - so I'm picking them. They are the favorite - and will be tough to beat. But teams like Appalachian State, College of Charleston and Western Carolina might make it difficult. And of course folks like East Tennessee State, Davidson and The Citadel are talented enough to pull a surprise or two.

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And now it starts

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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The first 29 games are really just the appetizer.

All that matters to a low-mid-major conference is the conference tournament. Because that is what determines who goes to the NCAA tournament. For Mt. St. Mary's and the rest of the Northeast Conference - that starts tonight.

Because if you're Lipscomb and you win a conference championship but bow out in the first round of the conference tournament - all you get is a trip to the NIT. And you're headed to some BCS school's gym who didn't make the real tournament - at that.

So no doubt winning the conference tournament makes up for a lot when the regular season didn't go as planned. And let's not hide behind anything....the regular season didn't go as planned. And we can sit here and talk about all the reasons - and there are some legitimate ones - but three wins over the next seven days and we don't have to talk about those things.

Today's encounter with St. Francis PA will not be easy. It is the same Red Flash team that the Mount dismantled one week ago in Emmitsburg. However, it is also the same team that defeated the Mount in Loretto back in December.

Senior Devin Sweetney will be a key for St. Francis tonight. He is St. Francis' leading scorer - and the Mount basically shut him down in last week's win. They'll have to do something similar tonight - but totally eliminating his production may not be realistic. I'm sure the gameplan will try to take him away - but you can be certain the Red Flash staff has spent the week trying to figure out what went right last week. And they'll try to maximize that tonight. I expect to see several different players guard Sweetney tonight - as they did last week and that could mean more minutes for Pierre Brown.

The Mount dominated on the glass last week - and they must do that again tonight. Raven Barber and Shawn Atupem must control bodies inside and allow the rebounds to be won by guys like Will Holland (who had double figures a week ago in that category), Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler.

Offensively, the Mount must continue to be efficient and share the basketball. They shot poorly against Robert Morris on Saturday - and some of those shots seemed to come in rushed situations. They must eliminate those  rushed shots and make the extra pass to get the better shot.

Expect seniors Jeremy Goode, Will Holland and Kelly Beidler to carry the load - and junior Shawn Atupem to continue his strong play down the stretch.

I look for a close first half - with the Mount getting some separation early in the second - or possibly in the closing minutes of the first. Ultimately, I like the Mount 69-56 in this one.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010


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Went rooting through my wallet Sunday afternoon, tripping past a broken library card, a half-disintegrated Sudafed and several questionable collections of lint. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I knew it before I started looking, but it was still disappointing. I lost my Man Card a long time ago.

Announced to my three little girls that they had ten more minutes till I was changing the channel on my TV. Changed into my jeans, grabbed a Yuengling.

Just in time, the room cleared out for the start of the third period between the US and Canada. For nineteen and a half minutes, I stood in my living room, swigging my beer, quietly watching the clock run out.

Then Zach Parise tied the game. “HWAAAH!” That was the noise I made. My wife came running – thought she’d find me writhing on the floor, grabbing my left arm.

“No, no, no - we tied the game!”

“Oh, as long as you’re not dead,” she said and went back to washing dishes.

Dead? Hell no, I’m pumped. Adrenaline’s buzzing. Pacing back and forth. Laser focus. Hopping up and down – in my living room? Overtime! Hey, I’ll take what I can get here.

Then Sidney Crosby scores. Game’s over. Ehh – it was just Canada. Harmless.

But that rush, man. That fifteen minutes where it felt like anything was gonna happen. That’s what it’s about. That’s why we keep coming back. I might never find my Man Card again. But I found my Fan Card again. Those moments keep you coming back.

That’s why we watch the games.


Speaking of games, we’re just six and a half weeks from the Blue-White game in Happy Valley. Looks like a long summer of questions ahead for the Nittany Lions.

Will Kevin Newsome be challenged by any of the incoming frosh for the starting QB job? Who’s going to step up and take the leadership role on defense – some big shoes to fill with the departures of Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman and Jared Odrick. Most importantly, can Deontae Pannell take his game to the next level to help Steph Wisniewski anchor the o-line? It’ll probably be early October till we have a good read on this year’s team.

Rumor has it that basketball’s still a varsity sport at Penn State, but we’ll get back to you when we have more tangible evidence.


NIKE: Isn’t it just about time to re-launch the “I Am Tiger Woods” campaign? Stand up and show kids that it’s ok to screw up, fix your mistake and move on. In the weeds? Nobody else got you there – you can get yourself out. Tiger’s coming back and he’s gonna be nasty. Be the first one back on the wagon.


1992: Big crowd at the Dome this weekend reminded me of my first Georgetown game – Mourning and Mutombo and a whole lot of noise.


Who has more? Wayne Gretzky or Joel Robuchon? Answer to come next time I get around to writing.

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Starting Today

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff


The Atlantic Sun tournament which is being hosted by Mercer - might provide some of the best basketball in the postseason tournament atmosphere. It's another one-bid league - and a handful of teams have a reasonable shot at winning it. The home court makes 6th seeded Mercer an option - and either of the 4 or 5 Campbell or East Tennessee State is capable of beating Lipscomb - which is the top seed. Belmont has past history on its side and shouldn't be ignored if they make it past Mercer in the first round. Our rooting interest, and pick for that matter, is Jacksonville. The Dolphins under the direction of former Mount point guard Cliff Warren look to secure the NCAA berth from the second seed.


The Patriot League always provides some postseason fireworks. But it seems like when the dust settles, the champ always wins the thing. Lehigh is in that role this year. The Engineers (we know, Richard) dominated the conference during the regular season and get started with Army later this evening. The Mount beat both Navy and American on the road this year - and those two square off in a first round clip tonight. Should Lehigh falter, you would expect either Bucknell or Lafayette to pick up the pieces. If that happens, they could be Play-In game targets.

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Breathe Easy

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If you got wind of an internet rumor that Kelly Beidler would be ineligible for the remainder of the season - you need not worry. The senior forward is eligible despite some questions being raised on the worldwide web about it. Someone stumbled upon our site looking for that information, but we've confirmed that #4 will be in uniform on Thursday night. Disaster adverted.

The Mount begins its chase at a Northeast Conference Championship at home versus St. Francis PA. More about that game in the upcoming hours.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Welcome To March

Written for your enjoyment by: Raff

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Conference tournament action gets underway tonight in three tourneys. Most likely all will be one-bid conferences so the teams are really playing for their playoff lives in these events. However, Butler would likely get an at-large should it falter in the Horizon.


Coastal Carolina has established itself as a firm favorite and gets underway tonight versus VMI. Winthrop - which has dominated this league in recent years might be the most realistic hope of an upset, but the Chanticleers are the clear favorite. Radford is the #2 seed and will have to get by Winthrop to have a chance at Coastal - but we like the Chanticleers to advance. However, if you're rooting for the NEC to avoid Dayton - or maybe even a #16 seed - you've got to root for anyone but Coastal.


Wright State would have a legit shot in most conference tournaments this size - and did earn the by to the semi-finals - but it is hard to imagine anyone other than Butler winning. Certainly bubble teams everywhere will be rooting for the Bulldogs so this doesn't take up one of the At-large bids. Cleveland State might have enough to get into the Final Four - and Detroit could also surprise - but its all most likely to come down to Wright State and Butler.


This is a very similar situation to the Big South. Murray State is the clear favorite - but the Racers who go as high as a 13 if they get in - won't get in without winning. Morehead State does look to be the clear #2 - and could take out the Racers in the championship game. They play good basketball in the Valley - but it is Murray State's bid to lose.

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