ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, August 31, 2012

Cooper a key cog for SCSU football team's playoff hopes

NEW HAVEN — Southern Connecticut State linebacker Jack Cooper hopes the end of his collegiate football career will be in dramatic contrast to how high high school career ended.

Five years ago, Cooper’s Berlin High team was trailing Ledyard 21-14 with 10 seconds to play. Berlin had the ball on the Ledyard 1-yard line as Cooper lined up at halfback. The play call was to hand off to the fullback. The ball was snapped and Cooper set off on his blocking assignment.
That’s when disaster struck.
“It was like right out of a movie,” Cooper said. “The handoff went to the fullback, but he never really got it. He fumbled the ball and that was it. It cost us the Class M title.”
Now a graduate-student, Cooper has one more chance at a championship. After red-shirting his freshman season, Cooper has been a fixture at linebacker for the Owls and enters the 2012 season as the team’s leading returning tackler and its undisputed leader.
At practice his teammates check with him to see where they should line up. After the session is over, coaches get his take on the day’s work.
“He knows what everybody’s doing out there,” SCSU coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “When he’s out there, we’re definitely getting lined up right. He knows the D-line, he knows the linebackers, he knows the secondary. He knows everything.
“He’s exceptional, really. I know when he’s out there that everybody’s going to be in the right place.”
In his 28th season on the SCSU sideline, Cavanaugh hands out kudos about as often as political campaign ads. But Cavanaugh practically gushes when he talks about Cooper.
“He’s just a good person,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s a great student. He’s one of those kids that gets involved in community service. He’s the whole package. You don’t really know the type of person you’re getting when you recruit them. Who comes across bad when you recruit them? But with Jack, the type of person I saw when we recruited him was real.”
While Cooper knows his playing days are numbered, both he and Cavanaugh know there will be plenty more football to follow.
“He wants to be a coach and he’ll be good at it,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s a student of the game and you’re seeing that even more this year. He prepares week in and week out and he’s going to play his very best. He’s a good player and a smart kid.”
Cooper’s role on defense is even more important this season considering the Owls (7-3 in 2011) have to replace seven starters. Cooper played all 10 games last year making 48 tackles, good for eighth on the club.
“We’ve got a young defense,” Cooper said. “We lost a lot of guys from last year, but we’ve got guys who were really ready to play last year and they’re still learning.”
While Cooper has plenty of experience, his partner at linebacker, Nate Tyler, returns from a season-ending injury he suffered in the season opener last year. Cooper said Tyler will be a major force.
“He’s doing good and he’s healthy,” Cooper said. “Nate would have played a lot last year. The linebackers last year were really good. The guys this year are young, but they’re learning and they can run. Our linebackers need to be the focal point of the defense and we’ve got a good corps who are looking forward to doing it.”
The rest of the defense is a bit untested. The secondary picked off 18 passes last season and Steven Teague, a senior from Hamden, will return to the defensive backfield and his ball-hawking ways. He had three interceptions in 2011.
“Things aren’t going to change,” Cooper said. “We have the same blueprint, same philosophy. We’re still going after the ball. Teague’s very good back there and we have (highly touted defensive back Dion) O’Joe and the entire secondary is fast, so we’ll be going for the ball. As long as we follow our assignments we’ll be alright. Since I’ve been here, speed’s been the best thing about our defense. We’re good up front and everybody’s doing their job.”
Southern was picked second in the preseason Northeast-10 Conference poll, trailing only city rival New Haven. Cooper feels the Owls can win the title.
“If we do what we’re supposed to do, study film and practice hard, we definitely can win it,” he said. “We need to say healthy and have some things go our way in games. We’ve got the makings of a really good team.”
And that would give Cooper some pleasant lasting memories.
“It’s funny because (SCSU quarterback Jake Jablonski) was on Ledyard that year,” Cooper said of the 2007 title game. “He still rubs it in. It was a tough one. And it still hurts.”

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UNH football season preview

Five storylines

TOO BIG TO FAIL?: The Chargers are the talk of the Northeast-10. New Haven won the conference last season and enters this season ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll. Starting senior quarterback Ryan Osiecki won Offensive Player of the Year in the conference last season and just about everyone is back from last season’s team. All signs point to another successful season for the Bolts. Can they live up to the hype?
AIR CHARGERS: Last season New Haven’s offense outscored opponents 523-307. The Chargers averaged 40.2 points per game last season and scored 69 touchdowns as well. Osiecki, who passed for UNH single season records of 3,336 yards and 36 touchdowns, is back and has senior receivers Josh Smart, Demetrius Washington-Ellison and Jason Thompson. The Chargers could have the most potent passing attack in the Northeast.
POW POW D END: During training camp coach Pete Rossomando said senior defensive end Tom Herd has a legit shot at winning NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year this season. The coach has a good point. Herd looked good in camp, he was active and was able to use his athleticism to get in the backfield consistently. Last season Herd collected 68 tackles, 36 solo and a team-high 12 sacks. Herd also recovered three fumbles.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Center may not be the most glorified position in football. However, if a team has strong play at center it is noticeable. The Chargers welcome in Zach Guy at the center spot. All signs in camp pointed to Guy being ready and able to control the line of scrimmage and keep Osiecki protected in the pocket.
LAST MAN STANDING: For the first time in the NE-10’s history, there will be a conference championship game. The Big Game will involve the top two teams in the conference and take place at the higher seed’s stadium. The game will be the week preceding the start of the NCAA Division II tournament on Saturday, Nov. 10. Also, the third place team will play host to the sixth place squad, the fourth place team will host the seventh place team and the fifth place team will play the eighth place team. The ninth place team will not play on Championship Saturday.

Five players to watch

Sr. quarterback Ryan Osiecki: He’s got a new number but, should still have the same game. Last season he passed for 3,336 yards and 36 touchdowns, both single-season school records.
Jr. running back Mike DeCaro: The shifty, athletic running back will no doubt have another strong season. Last season he compiled 806 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 244 yards. He’s versatile and tough to bring down. He is also a threat returning kicks.
Sr. wide receiver Jason Thompson: If there was a “man, that guy is really having fun out there,” Award in the NE-10, Thompson would get it. The senior always seems loose on the field and if you were as fast as he was, you would be smiling too. Last season he caught 43 passes, a team-high 14 touchdowns and amassed 1,046 yards receiving. All smiles straight to pay dirt.
Sr. defensive end Tom Herd: The senior D end led the team in sacks last season with 12, had 58 tackles and showed up to camp looking like he could line up at tight end and catch a couple passes. The senior has a motor that doesn’t stop and will give opposing offensive lines fits. How do you block him?
Sr. safety Bernard Risco: The senior made the USA College Football Division II All-American Second Team with Thompson and should have another strong year. Last season he was third on the team in tackles with 79.

Five games to watch

Sept. 1 vs. Merrimack, 1 p.m.: Last season this game went down to the wire as the Chargers came out victorious 44-35 in front of 1,134 at Merrimack College.
Oct. 18 at Stonehill, 8 p.m.: Last season New Haven crushed Stonehill 52-23 in front of 2,750 at DellaCamera. So why is this a game to watch in 2012? Because it is going to be on TV, and that makes it cool. Unfortunately it is a road game but, it will be live and in color on the CBS Sports Network.
Oct. 27 vs. So. Connecticut: No need to elaborate on why this is an important game. Last season New Haven won 59-38 in front of 4,204 at SCSU.
Nov. 3 at AIC: AIC should be much improved from last season. Speaking of which, the Chargers defeated AIC 34-20 in front of 2,375 in one of their closest games of the season.
Nov. 10 at/vs. ???: Will the Chargers clinch a spot in the inaugural NE-10 Championship Game? Will New Haven play in any of the other NE-10 games on Championship Saturday? Stay tuned.
— @NHRHenryC

Thursday, August 30, 2012

UNH Football Back To School Survival Kit


#leadingthecharge — Just one more day until Charger football season returns. Make sure you visit the blog tomorrow for a New Haven season preview. Until then here is your final study packet class. As we approach the Chargers’ first exam on Saturday at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium against Merrimack, let’s take a look at some things UNH will need to do in order to ensure another Northeast-10 title.

RED TO RIGHTS: Yesterday we looked at the Chargers’ success in the red zone. Today we take a look at how often opposing teams were successful inside the 20. Last season the Chargers limited opponents to only 46 visits to the red zone. While in the red zone, the defense gave up scores 82.6 percent of the time. Twenty six of those 46 red zone scores were via touchdown. In order for New Haven to capture the NE-10 crown, it will need to continue to keep opposing offenses out of the red zone and bring that percentage down a bit.

Visit the blog on tomorrow for a comprehensive UNH season preview.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

UNH football Back To School Survival Kit


#leadingthecharge — It’s hump day and today’s lecture is all about powering through and finishing strong. New Haven did that last season when inside the 20. As we approach the Chargers’ first exam on Saturday at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium against Merrimack, let’s take a look at some things UNH will need to do in order to ensure another Northeast-10 title.

RED THE BOOK ALREADY: The M.O. on the Chargers last season was, if they get in the red zone put it on the board. In 2011 the Chargers scored 85.2 percent of the time they got inside the 20. If New Haven is to repeat as NE-10 champs, they’ll need to be as efficient once again. The Chargers scored 40 touchdowns while in the red zone and were only picked off three times. Junior running back Mike DeCaro is tough to bring down and senior quarterback Ryan Osiecki has enough weapons passing the ball that a fade route is almost automatic. Red zone efficiency will equal another conference title at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium this fall.

Keep checking here all week for more on what the Chargers will need to do in order to capture another NE-10 title in the inaugural NE-10 Championship Game on Nov. 10. Also, visit the blog on Friday for a comprehensive UNH season preview.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

UNH Football Back To School Survival Kit


#leadingthecharge — Pay attention class. If you zone out for a second you might miss this. The Chargers’ offense is one of the most potent attacks in the nation. Fast starts will be crucial. As we approach the Chargers’ first exam on Saturday at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium against Merrimack, let’s take a look at some things UNH will need to do in order to ensure another Northeast-10 title.

VROOM, VROOM START IT UP: The Chargers’ offense is explosive enough that New Haven is rarely out of the game. UNH is also good enough that it becomes the game that every team circles on its schedule. In order for New Haven to ensure that they’ll be celebrating on NE-10 Championship Saturday, Nov. 10, they will have to dominate from the onset. The Chargers didn’t have too many issues getting past opposing teams however, they did trail going into the half five times last season. With a strong offense and a more dynamic defense, the Chargers should get their work done early and often in 2012.

Keep checking here all week for more on what the Chargers will need to do in order to capture another NE-10 title in the inaugural NE-10 Championship Game on Nov. 10. Also, visit the blog on Friday for a comprehensive UNH season preview.

Monday, August 27, 2012

UNH Football Back to School Survival Kit


#leadingthecharge — Okay class, settle down and be seated. Yesterday we covered penalties. Today we will focus on the offense. The Chargers’ passing attack opens everything else up. Scores in the 40s and 50s have become commonplace when the blue and gold step onto the field. As we approach the Chargers’ first exam on Saturday at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium against Merrimack, let’s take a look at some things UNH will need to do in order to ensure another Northeast-10 title.

BOMBS AWAY: Senior quarterback Ryan Osiecki passed for 3,336 yards last season. That was good for seventh in the country among Division II QBs and a UNH single-season record. Senior wide receiver Jason Thompson finished 2011 with 1,046 receiving yards and ranked 41st in the country among Division II WRs, averaging 80.46 receiving yards per game. With possession receiver Josh Smart and the speedy senior Demetrius “Meet” Washington-Ellison back, the Chargers should enjoy continued success in the air. In the short game, running back Mike DeCaro and senior tight end Kameel Lashley are good for some yards after the catch.

Keep checking here all week for more on what the Chargers will need to do in order to capture another NE-10 title in the inaugural NE-10 Championship Game on Nov. 10. Also, visit the blog on Friday for a comprehensive UNH season preview.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

SCSU hopes that Magee will be next in long line of super backs

NEW HAVEN — Every season it seems like the Southern Connecticut State feature running back gets better and better.

Running back Rashaad Slowley may have been the best of the lot. Slowley gained 1,624 yards on 274 carries last season, scoring a school-record 27 touchdowns. He followed the likes of Jarom Freeman, who set the national record with 418 yards rushing in a single game and was one of five different backs to rush for at least 1,500 yards in a season in the past decade.

Vaughn Magee will be the No. 1
back at SCSU this season

Next up is Vaughn Magee. Talk about some big shoes to fill.

Magee is a junior from Mastic Beach, N.Y., who’s seen limited action in his first two years with the club. He has, however, made the most of his opportunities. As a sophomore Magee played in three games, finishing with 18 carries for 160 yards and two touchdowns, including a 63-yard touchdown run.

Magee’s most extensive playing time in his first two seasons has come against Pace. Serving as a replacement in a pair of Owls’ routs, Magee looked explosive. He will team with J.W. Forte in SCSU’s new-look backfield.

“Magee and Forte are two solid backs,” SCSU coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “They both work hard and they understand the offense. They have speed and can run and catch the ball. They’re just solid players.”

Magee knows this is his opportunity.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this chance,” Magee said. “I’m not thinking about it as being the feature back. I don’t care about the numbers or all the hype. I just want to win.

“I haven’t played in a lot of games, but I’ve been working out real hard. I’m looking to come out strong and I think (as a team) we can really do it this year. I think every one is sleeping on us, but I think we’re going to shock some people. The whole team is out here to try and make things happen.”

Magee took a realistic approach to prepare for his new role.

“Honestly, what I did was eat a lot,” he said. “I came in at 175 pounds my first year and now I’m 203. I’ve done a lot of lifting and running. I watched how much pounding that (Slowley) took and he was around 210 or 215.

Magee maintained his quickness by attending speed classes three times a week. He said the last time he was timed he ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, and thinks he’s even quicker now.

Jack Mallis is also in the mix in the backfield. Mallis returned from offseason knee surgery necessitated by an injury he suffered in the spring game. Mallis looks to be the No. 3 back behind Magee and Forte. Mallis tore ligaments in his knee, but looked powerful at Monday’s scrimmage.

SCSU opens the schedule on Sept. 1 at Indiana (Pa.). The Owls were picked second in the Northeast-10 Conference preseason poll.

“I believe we can win it,” Magee said. “We just have to work hard and start fast.”

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UNH Football Back to School Survival Kit


#leadingthecharge — Summer vacation is all but over, syllabi are being prepared and people are lining up at Target to purchase denim. Yes, it’s back to school yet again. It’s back to school for football players too. As we approach the Chargers’ first exam on Saturday at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium against Merrimack, let’s take a look at some things UNH will need to do in order to ensure another Northeast-10 title.

FLAG DAY: Last season UNH overcame quite a few flags. The Chargers lost 912 yards to penalties in 2011, 98 more yards than their opponents. The Chargers had three games last season with double-digit penalties, two games with nine and three with eight. They gave up 100 yards to penalties three times last season. The defense will be playing a more aggressive style this season. Look for the Chargers to attempt to force more takeaways. In order for this to work, New Haven will have to prevent giving opposing teams any unearned yards. On offense, the Chargers are a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. Penalties make them sleep a bit easier, though. Keeping the errors down will prevent any type of rally when the Chargers jump out in front.

Keep checking here all week for more on what the Chargers will need to do in order to capture another NE-10 title in the inaugural NE-10 Championship Game on Nov. 10. Also, visit the blog on Friday for a comprehensive UNH season preview.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yale's Gibson named MLL Rookie of the Year

Matt Gibson '12, a former Yale All-American, has been named 2012 Cascade Major League Lacrosse Rookie of the Year. The Long Island Lizards attackman earned the honor based on votes submitted by the head coaches and general manager of each of the league's eight teams.

"It's a big honor because there are a lot of good players that are rookies and my goal will be to not think too much about it before the playoffs and to focus on the team, but I know I will enjoy this after the playoffs," said Gibson.
The MLL Championship Weekend presented by Warrior will be held on August 25-26 at Harvard Stadium. The Lizards face top-seeded Denver in the first semifinal at 1 p.m. before No. 2 Chesapeake plays defending MLL champion Boston at approximately 4 p.m. The two semi-final winners will play in the championship game on Sunday, August 26 at 3 p.m.

"The coaching staff has been really supportive of this year's rookies and the transition [from the collegiate level] has been great thanks to the guys I've been working with," Gibson said.
The Lizards' third-leading scorer, Gibson led all MLL rookies with 33 points by scoring 18 goals with 15 assists. He tallied a point in 10 of 12 games this season, including back-to-back five-point outings against Charlotte and Ohio to begin his career.
A two-time selection as the Cascade MLL Rookie of the Week, Gibson earned the award after scoring a goal with four assists in his professional debut, a 10-9 victory over Charlotte on May 19. He also earned the honor on June 25 after scoring three goals with an assist in the Lizards' 14-8 victory over the Denver Outlaws.
The former Bulldog also had a three-goal effort against Ohio on June 16 and scored two goals with two assists in a win against the Hounds on July 28.
"The MLL Rookie of the Year is always a huge source of pride for Cascade Lacrosse," said Cascade Director of Sales and Marketing Tim Ellsworth. "As these players step from the collegiate platform to the professional stage they are emerging as heroes and role models for tomorrow's players. We congratulate Matt Gibson on displaying both of these in his debut season."

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 10 most impressive college sports venues

This was submitted to me by one of my readers. Check it out, there are some fantastic buildings to see.
USF's Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center

No, Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center did not make the list.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Mailbag: Quinnipiac hockey, Yale softball and much more

Well, I’m back from vacation and it’s time to empty out the mailbag.

Here’s a bunch of items, many of them from Quinnipiac.

Pecknold signs an extension

Quinnipiac University Director of Athletics Jack McDonald has announced that Men's Ice Hockey Head Coach Rand Pecknold has signed a contract extension through the 2016-17 season. Terms of the contract have not been disclosed.
In 2011-12, Rand Pecknold, in his 18th season as Quinnipiac's head coach, guided the Bobcats to its 16th consecutive non-losing season with a 20-14-6 overall mark, including a 9-8-5 record in ECAC Hockey, giving Pecknold 20-win seasons in 14 out of his 18 years behind the bench for Quinnipiac, as well as his 11th in 14 years at the Division I level. In addition, Quinnipiac’s 13-4-3 home record matches the 2009-10 team’s mark

Yale names Goodwin softball coach

Jen Goodwin, who spent the last two years as the Assistant Executive Director for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, has been named the head softball coach at Yale.
Goodwin also has extensive Ivy League coaching experience. She spent two years as an assistant at Harvard, recruiting two-time Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Rachel Brown and helping guide the Crimson to the 2007 Ivy League title, and was Dartmouth’s interim head coach in 2004


Quinnipiac women’s basketball team starts tour of Italy

After a long, eight-hour flight, the Quinnipiac's Women's Basketball team landed in Rome to begin their 10-day tour of beautiful Italy.
To kick-off the start of their adventure, the Bobcats hopped on their tour bus for what would be many breathtaking views of the ancient city. In their sights, the Bobcats saw the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Arch of Constantine, Saint Peter's Basilica and many landmarks that make up Rome.

Quinnipiac hopes to host Women’s Frozen Four

Quinnpiac is hoping to host the 2014 women's Frozen Four, which will be held in Minnesota for the second consecutive year in 2013. It will be in Minnesota this coming season and was in Duluth in 2012.

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