ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day to remember

It was a special day for a couple of former local high school football stars.

Former Hyde All-Stater Willie Harriott had a career-high five tackles as Penn State opened the season with a 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina before a crowd of 106,577 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. Harriott, a junior reserve cornerback, came into the game with four tackles in 10 career games.

Ex-West Haven star Rob Jackson didn't have a game on Saturday but the seventh-round pick out of Kansas State in April's NFL draft received the good news that he made the Washington Redskins' opening day roster. Jackson played his way onto the team with a strong training camp as he had nine tackles and two sacks in five preseason games.

Harriott's former Hyde teammate Lionel Nixon had six tackles and a sack in Maine's 46-3 loss to Iowa. Nixon started at left corner for the Black Bears. The starting right corner for Iowa was former Xavier star Amari Spievey who finished with two tackles.

Going back to the NFL, if you are wondering who will be the next area player to make the jump to the big time it could very well be former Notre Dame of West Haven star John Moffitt. After starting six games at guard as a red shirt freshman, Moffitt started at center for Wisconsin and helped open the holes for a Badgers team which ran for 404 yards and four TDs in a 38-17 win over Akron. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds, Moffitt appears to have a bright future ahead of him. He is part of a sizeable Southern Connecticut Conference contigent playing Big 10 football along with Spievey and former Fairfield Prep star Garrett Brown, a defensive lineman at Minnesota.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Opening day

Some people count down the hours and minutes until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. For me, there is not a day I look forward to from a sports standpoint than opening night of college football season. Well, it is here.

Obviously UConn's first game against Hofstra is garnering plenty of attention in these parts but followers of the New Haven area football scene may be interested in updates on some former stars.

Bruce Campbell, a former Register Area Football Most Valuable Player out of Hyde, is second on the depth chart at left offensive tackle for Maryland which opens Saturday at 3:45 p.m. against Delaware. Three of his former Hyde teammates are also playing for Bowl Championship Subdivision teams (or Division I-A if you prefer).

Willie Harriott is No. 2 on the depth chart at left cornerback for Penn State which plays Coastal Carolina Saturday at noon.

Temple, which plays at Army Friday at 7 p.m., includes Dy'Onne Crudup, a second-string receiver and former UConn commit James Nixon, who was not on the two-deep chart but is also listed as a receiver.

New Haven's Chris Vaughn is a second-string receiver at Louisville which plays Sunday at 3:30 p.m. against Kentucky.

Former Amity star Ted Czepiga is No. 2 on the depth chart at outside linebacker for Florida Atlantic which plays Texas Saturday at 7 p.m.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quinnipiac, UConn Men Won't Meet This Year

For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, UConn and Quinnipiac will not meet in men's basketball this winter. The Huskies have gone 9-0 against the Bobcats since they began playing in 1998, winning by an average margin of 28 points.

Two years ago, Quinnipiac gave UConn all it could handle, with the Huskies eventually escaping with a 53-46 win. But last December, in former longtime UConn assistant coach Tom Moore's first season as the Bobcats' head coach, the Huskies delivered an 82-49 romp.

And with two of Quinnipiac's top players from a year ago – leading scorer DeMario Anderson and center Karl Anderson – graduated, Moore saw no need to put his team through a similar scenario this season.

"I think it was twofold," Moore noted. "Coach Calhoun and I were both real uncomfortable, on a personal level, playing the game last year. It was awkward for me emotionally, and for him, too. And I didn't feel our program is quite established enough to start taking on programs of that caliber. We have too much youth and inexperience for it to benefit us this year. It could be re-visited in the future, but we both felt best to take a year off."

Said Calhoun: "He wants to play (the following) year. We've been pretty flexible with them. He had a really good player last year, and this year it's predominately a freshman, sophomore team. I think he'll look forward to playing us the following year."

UConn is putting the finishing touches on its non-conference schedule. This much is known: there's the Paradise Jam festival Nov. 21-24 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where UConn will face La Salle University in the first round. Other participants in the tourney will be Southern Mississippi, Miami, San Diego, Valparaiso, Iona and Wisconsin.

The Huskies will also face Gonzaga on Dec. 20 at Seattle's Key Arena. A week later, UConn will play "a local team" on either Dec. 27 or 28, according to Calhoun. Obviously, it's not Quinnipiac, and it doesn't appear to be Hartford, either.

Finally, the Huskies will host Michigan some time after New Year's.

As for Quinnipiac, it will compete in a tourney hosted by Columbia University in Manhattan Nov. 20-22. UMBC, Bryant and Columbia will be the other competitors. Moore said the Bobcats nearly got into the ECAC Holiday Festival with St. John's, Virginia Tech and the like, but it didn't pan out.

"We have no real sexy (non-conference) games," Moore admitted. "We'll get a little more ambition in a year or two."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Inglese to be honored

Wallingford native Cathy Inglese will be inducted in the University of Vermont Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 4.

Here's the bio on the UVM web site on Inglese, a former star at Sheehan High and Southern Connecticut State would went onto successful coaching stints at Vermont and Boston College.

Cathy Inglese (Special Inductee- women's basketball head coach, 1986-93):
In just seven seasons at the helm of the Catamounts from 1986 to 1993, Cathy Inglese was the architect of the remarkable turnaround and growth of the Vermont women's basketball program. She led UVM to unprecedented success with its first two conference titles, in 1992 and 1993, and its first two trips to the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.

While at UVM, Inglese was named America East Coach of the Year three times, 1990, 1991 and 1992. She also earned WBCA District I (New England) Coach of the Year three times, 1991, 1992 and 1993 to appear as a finalist for WBCA National Coach of the Year. Her overall record at Vermont was 120-74 in seven seasons with an 8-2 mark in the conference tournament.

Success did not happen right away for Inglese's teams. Her first four UVM teams each had losing records and totaled only 41 victories. The team went an amazing 79-9 over her last three campaigns including a combined 57-2 mark in 1991-92 and 1992-93. In those two years Vermont was the winningest team in the nation and became the first teams to go unbeaten in the regular season in back-to-back seasons.

Her final two Vermont teams won a NCAA record 52 straight regular season games and put the program on the regional and national radar screen. UVM was a regular in the national polls and her Catamounts were featured nationally in CNN, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and USA Today as well as in many major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Her first teams played before sparse crowds of friends and family and in her last two campaigns, sellout crowds of 3,228 were the norm at Patrick Gymnasium.

Inglese left Vermont following the 1992-93 season to become the head coach at Boston College. She spent 12 seasons at the helm of the Eagles before resigning after the 2007-08 campaign. The Big East Coach of the Year in 1998-99, she led BC to the postseason eight times including seven NCAA Tournament appearances with two runs to the Sweet 16. Like at Vermont, she led BC to its first national rankings.

Ironically the last of her 273 wins at Boston College was over Vermont in the second round of the 2008 Women's National Invitational Tournament.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Good start for Jackson

Former West Haven High star Rob Jackson left his mark in his NFL debut on Sunday.

The two-time New Haven Register first-team All-State defensive end not only had a sack in the Washington Redskins' 30-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts but the seventh-round pick out of Kansas State received props from John Madden during the broadcast. Madden mentioned the words of praise Jackson received from perennial All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor during the nationally-televised opener to the NFL preseason. While it is early in the process, it appears that Jackson's transition to the NFL is off to a strong start.