ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Monday, February 25, 2008

Some teams heading South

Southern and its Lynch-pin
Like the men's season, the women's basketball teams are entering their final week of play.
For some area teams its been rather forgettable but for two others the journey has been a memorable.
Southern Connecticut State has embarked on a weird path. The Owls, after winning the national title last year, were ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll.
That may have been too high after a pair of starters quit the team before the season started. Still, Southern played well to open the season and seemed like a top 25 team after all. Then it all fell apart. The Owls apparently have never executed new head coach's Meghan Brown's defensive strategies and have slumped terribly down the stretch.
Southern has lost eight of its last 10 games and not only fell out of the top 25 but also slipped out of the top eight teams in the Division II Northeast rankings.
The top eight teams receive bids for the season-ending NCAA tournament.
And Southern will either be seeded eighth or ninth in the upcoming Northeast-10 tournament and most likely play the bulk of its tourney games on the road. It doesn't appear the Owls will even get a chance to defend their title.
One bright spot, however, has been the play of Kate Lynch. The senior forward needs just nine points to become the school's all-time leading scorer. Lynch is certainly a top choice for the Division II player of the year. Her toughest competition may be fellow NE-10 star, Johannah Leedham of Franklin Pierce.
Lynch has certainly done everything in her power to carry her team back to the NCAA's. Lynch averaged 26 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and two assists per game over two games last week. She scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded a steal against Massachusetts-Lowell on Feb. 19. Later, Lynch tallied a career-high 38 points to go with eight rebounds, six steals, one block and one assist at Saint Rose on Feb. 23. Lynch currently has 1,733 career points and needs just nine more points to surpass Kristen Breen’s school record of 1,741 points.
Still charging
New Haven has already wrapped up the East Coast Conference title. Led by Lauren Hood, the ECC's player of the week, the Chargers close out the regular season this Saturday, March 1 at St. Thomas Aquinas College. They will host the eighth seed in an ECC quarterfinal round matchup on Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m.
The Chargers will still need to win the ECC tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA but they have fabulous this season under second-year coach Jessica Smith. They have depth and Hood gives them a bonafide scorer.
UNH is 18-1 in the ECC after going 0-7 in the non-conference schedule. It has been a remarkable year.
The semifinals and finals of the ECC tournament will be held at Queens College in Flushing, N.Y.
In the Bobcats' claws
Quinnipiac finally defeated Sacred Heart last week and the win gives it a clear path to its first Northeast Conference title and a subsequent berth in the NCAA.
The Bobcats still have to win three more regular-season games to clinch the title but they face three of the cellar-dwellers in the conference.
Quinnipiac should clinch that title and then has to rev it up again for the NEC postseason tournament. The first two games of that tournament will be held at Long Island University with the final at the highest remaining seed. Thus Quinnipiac could host the tourney finale with an NCAA berth on the line.
If the Bobcats win the NEC, with its record of around 27-3, they could expect around a 12 or 13 seed in the tournament.
They are currently ranked 95th in the women's RPI rankings, which would most likely eliminate them from an at-large berth. But with 27 wins they shouldn't have to face a UConn right away. The fact of the matter is that they would lose to UConn by about 40 points but then again, everyone, including top 25 teams lose to the Huskies by that much.
Thus the committee should not put Quinnpiac in the 16th seed and have them face UConn at Bridgeport. That's not a reward, it's a punishment.

Here are the women's RPI ratings :

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Men's basketball feeling the Madness

Yale and Quinnipiac fall on tough times

As the regular season of men's college basketball comes to an end here's a quick look at what has transpired.

Locally, Yale and Quinnipiac both have disappointed as of late.
As for the Bulldogs, they never recovered from an early-season sweep at the hands of Columbia and Cornell. Yale was chosen to finish second in the preseason poll but will finish in the middle of the pack. Clearly Cornell was the best team in the conference and Brown has been the most pleasant surprise.

Yale's best win of the season came in its Ivy League opener against the Bears but it has struggled badly afterward. Yale won three straight games in the middle of the conference slate but then was hammered in an all-important league game at Penn.

That sealed its fate.

Cornell looks like a dangerous No. 12 or 13 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. The Big Red is on a long winning streak and with the trio of Adam Gore, Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale, Cornell probably won't win a tourney game but sure as heck will scare someone.

The worst news for the rest of the Ivy League is that Cornell's best players are all underclassmen. They'll be heavy favorites to win the Ivy again next year.

For the Bulldogs it was purely a disappointing year. Yale had an experienced team with depth but faced an unlikely struggle with confidence throughout the year. And the Bulldogs never defended well allowing most opponents to shoot over 50 percent during the season.

It was, and still is, a head-scratching year for coach James Jones.

Quinnipiac started strong but seemed to hit a wall as of late. Coach Tom Moore knew his team would struggle with depth but it has hurt his team even fielding competitive practices. The end result has seen the Bobcats lose four of its last six games and they face two more good teams on the road to complete the regular season.

The likely spot that Moore's charges will find itself in is a first-round road game in the NEC tournament. That in itself won't spell the end of the line for the Bobcats. They've played well on the road and with DeMario Anderson they have been in virtually every game they've played.

Recently, however, they've been on the losing end. The Bobcats have exceeded some of Moore's expectations during the season but overall, if they don't have another nice run in them, he'll consider this year a disappointment.

No. 1 seeds still up for grabs

On the national scene, Saturday night's showdown between No. 1 Memphis and No. 2 Tennessee proved one thing. Neither team will win a national title.

The No. 1 seeds look to be: UCLA, either North Carolina or Duke, either Memphis or Tennessee, and either Kansas or Texas.

UCLA seems to be the biggest lock for a top seed and the rest will depend on conference tournaments.

If Kansas holds off Texas in the Big 12 they'll get one. If Tennessee can win the SEC the top seed is theirs, otherwise it will go to Memphis.

Finally, whoever wins the ACC, Duke or UNC will get the other No. 1 seed. That will be biggest single decision the NCAA tourney committee will make as that No. 1 seed will play its first four games in the state of North Carolina and practically have a Final Four bid in its hands.

My choice for both that No. 1 seed and the eventual champion is North Carolina.

Here's a look at the RPI ratings.

I'll recap the women's scene Monday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A true service to the readers

OK, I'm the last one in America to watch American Idol.
And you know something, it's not that bad.

Now for the past 20 years the only thing I've ever watched on TV has been sports. From the Red Sox to college basketball back to the Red Sox and so on.

I always knew there was more to TV than sports but working mostly every night of my life for since I got into sportswriting I never had a chace to watch a TV series.

It was basically Seinfeld reruns and bad Sunday night movies. Me and the guys at work love "The Perfect Storm." That Clooney's a Helluva Skipper.

Anyway, to my point and my service to the readers, here is the scenario that has led me to enjoying American Idol.

The other day AT&T called me up, for the one millionth time, and asked me if I would like to switch to its services. I'd get the TV, phone and home internet for about $100.

Not bad, but I've already got Comcast. Only thing is, after my Comcast package deal expired its rates went up to about $170 a month.

So I called Comcast and told them that AT&T was offering me the same pakage for $70 less and what could they do for me.

Without hesitation they offered up the following:

They would give me every single channel they carry, all the sports channels, all the movie channels at no extra cost.

They just flip the switch and I sign on for another year at about $170.

That's not bad but I still hesitated.

Then they added a free DVR to the deal.

I said, OK, hook it up now, and since then I've been taping every show that I had previously just heard about.

So try it readers.

Call Comcast, or your cable company, and tell them you're going to switch to AT&T and see what they offer you.

And don't call me with the Idol results. I'm taping it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pettitte apology a farce

The purpose of the Mitchell Report, in its base roots was to act as a deterrent for future ballplayers.

It was supposed to send a message to high schoolers and collegians around the country to stay clean — or else.

Somewhere the message got misconstrued and the proof came in Tuesday’s 55-minute tribute to Andy Pettitte.

You had the feeling that after Pettitte left the podium that reporters were poised to give him a standing ovation. That will come on opening day.

Now, many columinsts around the country took umbrage with Pettitte’s confession but when he refused to elaborate on his statement made about Roger Clemens using steroids, they should have walked out en masse.

Isn’t that why they were there?

When he said he wasn’t a cheater they should have laughed out loud and then said, ‘Excuse me. You were serious?’ And when he said he wasn’t a liar they should have insisted that he had already lied about this issue a couple of weeks ago. Why should we believe him now?

After the Mitchell Report was released, Pettitte admitted using HGH on two dates in 2002 while injured. He said in a congressional deposition earlier this month that he also used HGH (which he got from his father, Tom) twice in one day in 2004, but did not reveal it previously in an attempt to protect his dad. Pettitte said that he’s been punished enough for use of HGH because all the scrutiny he’s been under.

Wow, give me $16 million and I’ll take the blame for the Lindberg baby, JFK and the price of gas for an hour.
There is only one way to rectify what has happened in baseball. Every player named in the report must be suspended.

What happened to Marion Jones will serve as a deterrent to future track stars.

What happened to Pettitte makes me wonder if CVS is stocking HGH over the counter.

I’ve got a 10-year-old football player to get ready for the upcoming season.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's not over Bulldogs

The Yale basketball team proved last weekend that it did, indeed, have what it takes to win an Ivy League title.

Now, is it too late?

History shows us that the Ivy title usually comes down to the last weekend so anything's possible. But Cornell seems to have a stranglehold on the league title. Only a major injury could stand in their way.
Cornell has already won at Yale, Brown and Columbia and those three look like the trio of teams which will battle for second place in the league.
"I don't necessarily think that the home court will make such a difference," Cornell coach Steve Donahue said. "We don't have too many courts which are that intimidating in this league."
But Donahue's team is loaded and even Yale coach James Jones things speedy guard Louis Dale is a difference-maker.
"I voted for him for Ivy League Rookie of the Year last year," Jones said.
And Cornell snapped an 18-game losing streak against Penn on Saturday to move to 6-0. They also did that in front of a sold out arena at Ithaca, N.Y.
That proves that the school is behind, will give them an edge and inevitably should lead them to the Ivy League title. The Big Red is 14-5 overall and have won 10 of its last 11 games, in t's only loss in the stretch coming at Duke.
No shame there.
Here's a look at what remains on the Big Red's schedule.

Friday - at Harvard
Saturday - at Dartmouth
Feb. 22 - YALE
Feb. 23 - BROWN
March 1- HARVARD
March 7 - at Penn
March 8 - at Princeton

There are still some tough spots there but it looks like the Big Red is in real good shape.
What does that leave for Yale, 3-3 in Ivy League play?
Well, the Bulldogs have plenty of work to do but if it does run the table it would make a pretty strong case for itself for an NIT berth even if Cornell doesn't lose at least three times. A 10-game winning streak to finish the season with wins over Cornell and a sweep of Penn would be mighty impressive.
Sure that's a lot to ask but Yale showed last weekend how truly talented it is. The Bulldogs will get Ross Morin back this weekend, the inside, out game is finally working, and the future is still in their hands.