ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Volleyball preview: A bird in the Hand; Amity's horror

Class M

The quarterfinals are set for the CIAC boys' volleyball tournament and the draws yielded some mixed results. First of all in the Class M brackets, Hand coach Tom Brady had to be doing cartwheels to draw the No. 3 seed.
Hand tied with Maloney-Meriden at 14-4 for the season and won the coin toss (or the computer program tiebreaker) to be the third seed. That is perhaps the biggest victory the Tigers could have had all season. What it means is that Hand draws a struggling Farmington team in the first round and then meets Enfield in the semifinals. Last year Hand defeated Farmington on its way to the Class M state final and both teams have lost players since then but Farmington is clearly on the decline. Expect the Tigers to roll to the semifinals.
Up next would most likely be Enfield which is 17-1 but played one of the
weakest schedules in the state. Enfield's only loss was to Glastonbury. Enfield defeated aforementioned Maloney 3-2 but the Spartans were missing one of their best players on the day.
The biggest advantage Hand will have is, of course, not having to face
mighty Lewis Mills-Burlington until the final.Hand lost to Mills in last year's final and should get there again. Mills hasn't lost a match all year and is the clear choice to repeat as the state champion.
Now one could argue that Hand's season was saved by the coin toss but
keep in mind that the Tigers did go into Shelton and won for the first time in their program's history late in the regular season.Without that result Hand would have been the fourth seed but they beat Shelton while Maloney lost to both Southington and Glastonbury in the final week of the season.
Expect the Tigers to make another appearance in the state finals led
by star outside hitter Randy Johnston. I do, however, expect the same result once there -- another Mills title.

Class L

While Hand benefited from the tiebreaker, the same cannot be said for Amity in the Class L.
The Spartans beat a stubborn Hall-West Hartford team in the first round Wednesday and now has to face Trumbull in the quarterfinals. If Amity survives that match it most likely would meet undefeated Staples in the semifinals.
If Amity wins that match it will probably have a great shot in the final as most of the best teams are in the same half of the bracket. But getting there will be difficult for the Spartans which lost its coin flip to Glastonbury. The Tomahawks are good but nothing like the powerhouses in the top half of the bracket.
Shelton could be the beneficiary in lower half of the Class L brackets. The Gaels blanked Newington 3-0 in the first round and now face second-seeded Ridgefield in the quarterfinals. I like their chances there and, in fact, to get all the way to the finals as their 13-4 record which earned them a seventh-seed could turn out be more fruitful than Amity's 15-3 mark and its fourth seed.
My pick is Staples to beat Shelton in the final but Amity really could win it all this year.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

On the eve of the tournaments

Boys' volleyball rankings

Here is the final regular season rankings for the state's boys' volleyball scene.

The records are as of Tuesday.

The SCC tournament begins Wednesday at 2 sites. Check Tuesday's Register for a preview featuring the hottest team in the conference and it's not Amity or Shelton.

Team Records Last week

1. Lewis Mills-Burlington (13-0) 1

Bottom line: Rankings before Wednesday’s match with Trumbull.

2. Staples-Westport (18-0) 2
Bottom line: Capped off perfect regular season. Awaiting postseason opponents.

3. Maloney-Meriden (11-2) 4
Bottom line: Ends regular season with 5 games in 7 days and some major tests.

4. Amity-Woodbridge (11-3) 3
Bottom line: Back-to-back straight-set losses forced them down a notch.

5. Ridgefield (14-2) 5
Bottom line: Could grab the second seed in the Class L brackets.

6. Shelton (12-3) 8
Bottom line: Gaels lost to Hand and then swept Amity. Get ready for an interesting SCC tourney.

7. Southington (11-2) 9
Bottom line: Nine straight wins including big one over Glastonbury.

8. Trumbull (13-2) 10
Bottom line: Ends regular season today.

9. Enfield (13-1) 6
Bottom line: Has already beaten remaining four teams on the schedule.

10. Glastonbury (11-2) 7
Bottom line: Needs win over Maloney and help to claim a share of the CCC crown.

SCC rankings

1. Amity (11-3) The Spartans picked a bad week to hit a slump. Amity still looks like the class of the conference but will have to rebound in a hurry to reach its title goals.

2. Shelton (12-3) Frankly, the win over Amity was unexpected but it does return Shelton to a top contender in the SCC tourney?

3. Hand-Madison (12-4) The Tigers are rolling now and pose a serious threat to the top two SCC teams in next week’s tournament.

4. Xavier-Middletown (4-11) The Falcons knocked off Cheshire in crucial contest. Now will they make the postseason?

5. Cheshire (3-11) The Rams are actually playing better but their loss to Xavier was unexpected and devastating.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

With spring football practices fast approaching here’s a look at which teams could be in next year’s preseason Top 10.

Ansonia looks like the best. Can anyone beat them?

Let me know and I’ll print the results.

Here’s my early Top 10.
1. Ansonia - Last year’s No. 1 team looks unbeatable again. Alex Thomas is back for a curtain call and the offensive line will make college recruiters drool.
2. Greenwich - Jonathan Meyers is on all the major college recruiting lists.
3. Staples-Westport - The Wreckers are a fixture in the Class L finals winning 2 of the last three titles and finishing second the other time.
4. West Haven - The Blue Devils could have some off the field problems to iron out before the season starts.
5. Shelton - Geoff Schultz can do it all for the Gaels. He’ll get some help this year.
6. Xavier-Middletown - The Falcons are poised to return to the Class LL playoffs.
7. Southington - The Blue Knights lost the bulk of their skill positions but have entered the status of perennial powers.
8. New London - Jack Cochran returns to the sidelines. The 50-point rule will be back in the news.
9. Maloney-Meriden - Word is that the Spartans will change the offense again this year to get Johrone Bunch more involved in carrying the ball. Bunch is clearly one of the best athletes in the state.
10. Stratford - Torrey Mack is back. The scoreboard will light up.
Watch out for: Masuk-Monroe, Fairfield Prep, Hyde, Hillhouse, New Canaan, Cromwell, Holy Cross, Bloomfield, New Britain, Northwest Catholic.

Who else can crack the top 10 and can anyone beat Ansonia?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mills still atop volleyball rankings

Here are the latest state boys’ volleyball rankings. The rankings were entered before Thursday's action. On Thursday, Lewis Mills, ranked No. 1, swept third-seeded Amity.
It is interesting to note that the state's coaches have Staples ranked No.1

State rankings
The team's records are as of Wednesday and the number are the record is where they were ranked last week.
1. Lewis Mills-Burlington (11-0) 1
Bottom line: Rankings before Thursday’s rematch with Amity.
2. Staples-Westport (16-0) 2
Bottom line: Passed its biggest test vs. Ridgefield in five games.
3. Amity-Woodbridge (11-1) 3
Bottom line: Straight-set wins against everyone except loss to Mills
4. Maloney (10-2) 5
Bottom line: Senior Kris Hewitt top libero in the state.
5. Ridgefield (12-2) 6
Bottom line: Definite Class L contender.
6. Enfield (10-1) 7
Bottom line: Looks like the No. 2 seed in the Class M pairings.
7. Glastonbury (10-1) 8
Bottom line: Meets Southington today in battle for CCC lead.
8. Shelton (11-2) 9
Bottom line: Needs to run the table to claim share of the SCC.
9. Southington (8-2) 4
Bottom line: All-state hitter Mariusz Kurzatowski left team for personal reasons.
10. Trumbull (11-2) 4
Bottom line: Will be a high seed in the Class L bracket.
SCC rankings
1. Amity (11-1)
The Spartans played Mills Thursday and can lock up the SCC with a win over Shelton Monday. After that the postseason looms.
2. Shelton (11-2)
The Gaels know that Amity may stand in their way of every goal the rest of the season..
3. Hand-Madison (10-4)
Today’s match vs. Shelton is last true test in the regular season for the surging Tigers who hope to return to the Class M final.
4. Cheshire (2-8)
The Rams’ schedule just doesn’t let up. Cheshire hopes to earn a spot in the SCC postseason.
5. Xavier-Middletown (3-10)
The Falcons need to knock off Cheshire today to gain a SCC postseason berth,.
‰Poll and SCC rankings by Bill Cloutier. Does not include Thursday’s results.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Tinker to Pereira to the Big Dance

Tinker on fire
Christy Tinker, who wrote a weekly journal for us last year, was named the conference player of the week after leading Tufts to the NCAA tournament. Tinker, from Amity High, led the Jumbos offensively during the 2007 NESCAC Softball Championship, hitting .667 (6- for-9) with a home run, six RBIs and three runs scored.
She went 2-for-3 in all three games over the weekend, picking up a home run and three RBIs in Friday’s 11-2 victory over Wesleyan.
She plays in the NCAA’s starting Thursday at Rhode Island College.
Get your Beanpot tickets
Last week I wrote about West Haven’s Joe Pereira who will be playing hockey at Boston University next year. Look for Pereira to battle for ice time right away with the Terriers.
According to sources he was regarded as the fastest skater in all prep school hockey. Some people also ranked as the overall No. 1 prep school player in the east.
SCC slate
The SCC tournament schedule is out. Check for the details.
Boys' volleyball
The high school volleyball rankings will be released on Friday. Check this blog to see if there’s any changes.
Rocket Man
Well, Roger Clemens is returning to the Evil Empire.
That comes as no surprise to Red Sox fans. My biggest problem with Clemens is that three times he's spurned the Sox yet everyone says that when he enters the Hall of Fame, the Hall committee will enshrine him with a Red Sox cap on.
That makes me ill.
Clemens was my all-time favorite player as a member of the Red Sox but when he left the club and then began this whirlwind tour with three other teams he's continually dissed Boston.
My belief is that Clemens' only chance of failure is returning to the Red Sox. He's never won a title with them and is afraid to try. Believe it or not there's not as pressure with the Yankees, because he's won two titles there.
As for Cash-man and Torre, they just hope Roger can save their jobs.
Yankee fans must be wondering if he can close games too as Mariano has been awful lately. His ball isn't moving. Monday he cracked 96 mph but the ball was straight, no cut on it at all, and Beltre clubbed it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Week 3 of boys' volleyball ratings

Here's a look at the Register's Top 10 volleyball rankings.

Now I could have just uploaded a photo of the NCAA men's volleyball tournament but I really think the guys would like to look at this photo too.

Anyway, there are no changes at the top but a lot of movement in the rest of the poll.

Mills and Staples are the favorites for the state tournaments but as you can see, there are several teams playing really well now.

Staples has to look out for Amity and Southington.

Mills has a host of teams hot on their trail in the Class M pairings. Maloney, Enfield and a surging Darien team (which would have been ranked 11th) are threats to Lewis Mills' title. Remember that Maloney defeated Mills in 2005 state final and that Darien is an upstart program coached by Laurie LaRusso who built the Darien girls' team into a powerhouse.

Register rankings

Team Record Last week
1. Lewis Mills-Burlington (9-0) 1
Bottom line: Rematch with Amity on the horizon.
2. Staples-Westport (13-0) 2
Bottom line: Coaches’ poll has the Wreckers ranked No. 1.
3. Amity-Woodbridge (8-1) 3
Bottom line: Dominant in wins vs. Shelton and Barlow.
4. Southington (6-2) 9
Bottom line: Back at full strength and six wins in a row.
5. Maloney (8-2) 8
Bottom line: Handed Glastonbury first loss of the season.
6. Ridgefield (10-1) NR
Bottom line: Only setback is to Staples.
7. Enfield (7-1) 7
Bottom line: May not lose again in the regular season.
8. Glastonbury (8-1) 6
Bottom line: CCC rematch with Southington next week.
9. Shelton (8-2) 5
Bottom line: Lost both tests to Mills and Amity.
10. Trumbull (8-2) 4
Bottom line: Schedule eases up until the end of the regular season.
SCC rankings
1. Amity (8-1)
The Spartans took a stranglehold on the conference with their straight-set win over Shelton. Now can they run the table?
2. Shelton (8-2)
The loss of middle hitter Alex Xenidis may be one the Gaels can’t overcome. Xenidis has ligament damage in his knee.
3. Hand-Madison (7-4)
The Tigers appear poised to make another late-season run. Two wins over Masuk-Monroe was no easy task.
4. Cheshire (2-6)
Coach Sue Bavone is lamenting her team’s tough schedule — and its lack of size.
5. Xavier-Middletown (3-7)
The Falcons would love to earn a berth in the SCC postseason tournament but time is running out.
—Poll and SCC rankings by Bill Cloutier

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Britney's back, will the Yankees follow?

Here are some random thoughts about the Red Sox, Yankees and the playoff season.
The boys' volleyball rankings will appear late Thursday night as there are some big games this week.
Red Sox
Papelbon finally blew one last night. This guy's been unbelievable and probably got a bit cocky last night. Oakland has some young talent and Travis Buck is going to be a stud. This kid is big and strong.
I still think the Red Sox lineup has holes and Julio Lugo is a butcher at shortstop. I still wonder if taking a defensive standout like Alex Gonzalez over the offensive abilities of Lugo is better.
Still, the Sox have been strong and on Tuesday night you kind of expected them to win.
And Sox fans know better than to expect anything positive.
All you can is Wow. Phil, or Phillip Hughes (whatever) was pitching an amazing game when he felt his hamstring pop in the seventh inning on Tuesday.
That will sideline him for around a month and probably make him a little tentative coming back.
That's a major blow for the Yankees.
New York doesn't seem to want their youngsters to succeed. They'd rather keep wheeling in old fogies like Jon Lieber instead of giving their youngsters a shot.
They were just about to give up on Kei Igawa and then he proved his mettle in an emergency outing.
They've already given up on Chase Wright because of one bad (albeit really bad) inning.
Now Karstens is out and Hughes is hurt.
The Yankees always like to pick superstars off of other rosters rather than sticking with players from their own system. And now they seem to just settle for grizzled veterans.
The heat is on Brian Cashman to do something quickly to save the Yankees' staff. Let's see if try to make a big splash (dishing out a lot of cash) or go back to the (David) Wells again with guys like Lieber.

Here's one thought I've tossed around a bit and let me know if it's just me being crazy or not.
When John Sterling does his home run call for Alex Rodriguez, he says it's an "A-Bomb from A-Rod."
I want to know if people, especially a growing number of Japanese ballplayers find that offensive?
And is Imus listening?

Coming up this week

Volleyball rankings and a look at an area high school hockey player who is heading for the big time.
OK, now Britney: Hit me baby one more time.
You see, she really did look good with hair.