Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Random Thoughts

Congrats to Jim McKenzie and Deleone Carter. They are a pair of SU football commitments who were named to the Pennsylvania Big 33 game. The Big 33 is always a big game, no Super Bowl has been played without a Big 33 Alum, and its nice for Syracuse to be represented. McKenzie is an Offensive lineman from Philadelphia, Carter is a running back who was Mr. Football in Ohio. The arrival of both onto campus is being anxiously awaited. I hope to get a peek of both in Hershey in June.

Mario Lemieux retired again. I suspect that is newsworthy. But to tell you the truth, I wasn’t even sure the NHL was playing again.

Just how bunched up are the in the NEC? Sacred Heart entered play yesterday tied for the lead. They lost. They woke up this morning in sixth place. That is tough. Of course, the team we are concerned about, the Mount, is now in a four-way second place tie. Man does that loss to CCSU still sting. A win would have given them a clear leg up in what is a wide open league race.

Lots of people got excited about Adam Morrison’s 41 point effort last night versus San Francisco. But it was 40 points shy of the effort Kobe Bryant put up on Sunday night. The amazing thing about Bryant’s performance was that it helped the Lakers erase a double digit halftime lead and the majority of the points came in the second half. 55 if I have my numbers straight. Kobe isn’t sure how it happened. I figured he’d score 80 more often if he made his shots – like he did Sunday.

Three in a row, the wrong way

Another game against a Top 25 team, another loss for the Orange. Can’t say I didn’t expect it. I really thought that last night was the worst we played in the run. And we still had a chance midway through the second half. A brief break and then a semi-easier five game run. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win three of the next five. My enthusiasm has been tempered of course, and I doubt that we do any better than an NCAA first round win. Getting to weekend #2 would be a huge accomplishment. But remember, its only worth getting upset about one loss a year. I’m trying real hard to stick to that.

A day late on this tennis thing. But did you see what Dominic Hrbaty was wearing the other night. It was pretty shocking. A mainly pink shirt with some black through it near his neck and on the sleeves. No big deal. But then there were like these little ovals cut out in the back near his shoulder blades. I’ve never seen anything like it. Does anybody know what the purpose was? Oh, by the way, Hrbaty lost in 5 sets to Nickolai Davydenko – or some name like that.

I’m sure nobody noticed that Elon is hot. And I’m not sure where it has come from. But the Phoenix has had a remarkable turnaround. After losing eight of their first ten, including some real big losses, like the 46-point blowout to Butler, something happened. It actually must have started in the final loss. At that point the Phoenix had just two wins on the season, over SE Florida and Guilford (big-time opponents no doubt), but lost by one to Buffalo and I noticed. The next time out they beat Clemson and I shook my head a little harder. Since then they’ve run off six straight wins in the Southern Conference (a decent accomplishment), including last night’s overtime win over Furman. All of a sudden, I’ve got to think they are a Top 100 team. I’m not sure where it came from. But I’ve been watching.

A lot more I wanted to write, but I keep running out of time. Maybe tonight.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Back at it

A lot to talk about since I haven't written in a few days.

The editors have allowed me to talk about the Mount again. The Mounties have won five of six. Five of five until last night and some readers were afraid if I mentioned it here, that would be the end of the run. Not that were superstitious but we bought into in. Last night's loss at home was a tough one. Central Connecticut shot the ball extremely well at the outset, but had a lot of trouble scoring of the game's final 37 minutes. They scored 28 in the first eight minutes, but only 31 in the next 37, but managed to win 59-57 in overtime. CCSU had three FG in the first 14+ minutes of the second half. The Mount blew a five-point lead with three minutes left and still led by four with two to play. They had an early lead in OT. The Mounties didn't score in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. The Mount is now in a three-way tie in the NEC for third place, and plays two on the road next week. If they want to be a contender, they need to find a way to execute at the end. Last night was not a game that should have been a loss.

But they could have been Syracuse. The Orange trailed 12-0 before even getting a shot off, and had so many turnovers in the first half you would have thought Joe Fields was in the game. Its off to Pittsburgh for a Big Monday showdown. Nice to catch the Panthers coming off their first loss.

But how bout the Big East yesterday. Georgetown and West Virginia both secured big out of conference wins. And UCONN is likely to move to #1 in the polls tomorrow.

My picks for today's football games. Seattle and Denver. I'm rooting for the two others. But I just think 3 games on the road in as many weeks against good football teams is too much.

Anna Benson is headed to Baltimore, and her husband Kris is coming with her. I sort of like the deal. And will be interesting to see if the Orioles now move pitching for offense. If I was Eric Bedard, I wouldn't get too comfortable. My concern though is what to make of the Oriole bullpen. It seems like they have lost a lot of parts (3) Ryan, Julio, Kline without adding a lot Hawkins. We'll see how that shakes out.

Ok, I'm going to watch some football.

I'll be a better blogger this week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

There have been worse nights

I'll be 100% honest. No fan ever likes to see their team lose. I'm no exception. And the beating the Orange took last night hurt. But at the same time, I only get upset about one loss a year. That's the one that comes in March. Other than that its all preparation for the six-game run in March.

The disappointing thing about last night is that it clearly demonstrated that SU is not among the national's elite. No doubt about that now. Before last night, it was still a question. And in fact, I was teetering with the idea that there were closer than they really are. Last night made me realize two things. UCONN maybe the elite of the elite and Syracuse is clearly not a Final Four team. Yet. And the fact is they're a lot better than they were a month ago, and they've got two months to reach the level they need to be at. It's still possible.

My biggest disappointment was that the Orange game kept me away from the Double OT thriller between S. Illinois and N. Iowa. Don't snicker, I'm serious. Not sure either of those two teams are elite either. But I'll guarantee at least one of them makes it through the first weekend of the tourney.

Some guy named Ovechin scored last night. Anybody know anything about it?

Nice to know the Jets front office listens to the Fanblog. I mean you had to know that all those interviews with this year's outkasts were just a formality.

Just a hunch that David Duval might perform well at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic this weekend. Duval once shot 59 there and he seemed to find a groove in last week's Sony Open in Hawaii. After all he's been through, I'm at least rooting for him.

Anybody else happy the Aussie Open is on late night? I mean its the perfect thing to fall asleep to.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Norfolk ain't a State

The State of Norfolk leads the State of Morgan on ESPNU right now.

Some much bigger games coming up later tonight. None bigger, from my personal perspective, and from the national perspective than UCONN and the Cuse from the Loud House. As I've previously said, I think the Orange is playing well right now and blossoming into a solid contender. McNamara is playing extremely well, but tonight is a big challenge. GMAC has never played well against the Huskies, at least in the regular season. He had a decent game in last year's Big East Tourney win, so it will be interesting to see how he responds tonight. Its not a make or break game for the Orangemen, but a win would guarantee a positive record in the five-game stretch of games that included at Notre Dame, at Cincy, home to Connecticut, at Villanova, at Pittsburgh - and would make a split in the final two PA games a 4-1 run. I'd take that.

Got some feedback from a Bearcat fan earlier today. He had some trouble with the comments section, but we're happy to report that we are now fully open for business as far as the comments are concerned. He was correctly pointing out that Cincy has had way too many injuries and defections to be counted as a quality win anymore. No doubt they are down to eight healthy players. But as Jim Boeheim said when asked if he felt sorry for them, "No they were 13-3." The comment suggests they won't get to 18 wins. I say they get 20. They still have a lot of talent that should get them wins against the lower portion of the league. We'll wait and see how that plays out.

Nice of the NFL to sub out the refereeing jobs for the playoffs. But anybody have a clue why they gave it to the Sun Belt conference?

Yesterday surprised me with the two dogs both winning outright. Not exactly sure what to make of next week's games. I think both of the road teams are playing better right now, but three games on the road in three weeks scares me a bit for both teams. And Pittsburgh playing such an emotional game with Indianapolis might work against them. But Denver's win over New England was emotional as well, so that should help. Check back later in the week and I'll have it all figured out.

The big game tonight nobody knows about. Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa in the MVC. I think the Panthers end the Salukis streak.

Duke no longer unanimous in the AP poll. John Kaltefleiter of the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald switched his No. 1 vote from Duke to Florida. I respect Kaltefleiter's right to pick somebody other than Duke for the top slot, and for awhile I agreed that Duke might not be the best team out there. But come on, Duke has been dominant and at this point it might take more than a loss to prove to me they aren't #1.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

End of the week

I've gotta admit it. I was very impressed with my Orange last night. The second half performance in Cincy makes me very excited about the possibilities for the rest of the season. Of course, the time I get excited is usually about the time they go into a tailspin. But the one thing about this team that is different from Syracuse teams in the past is the balance possessed and the ability for one guy to have a rough night and someone else step up. Watkins and Devendorf struggled last night, but Onauku gave some very strong minutes off the bench. Very, very good win.

Still trying to figure out Gonzaga. They've had three chances to beat elite teams this year and they've lost all three. But they seem to be above that next level as wins over Michigan State, Maryland and Oklahoma State would signify. Adam Morrison is still the best player in the land and that makes them dangerous every time out. They are going to rack up the wins in the WCC and may just may run the table. But I haven't figured out to play them come March.

I told you not to get too far down on Texas. The Horns are back playing extremely well. Or at least beating good teams. Yesterday's three point win over Villanova signified another big win in the win column and has to push them back into at least the top eight in the rankings.

Another thing I told you about was be careful of those underdogs in the NFL. Both were defeated and failed to cover last evening. Washington gave a little better showing than I might have anticipated. But just missed the number. It wouldn't suprise me if the favorites end up covering all four, but wouldn't be shocked if one of the dogs gets a cover today.

The Orioles designated Walter Young for assignment the other day. That means little to most. But nothing about Young is little. The 322-pound 1st baseman was being thought of as a potential 1B starter just the other day. But now with the surplus provided by the Conine and Millar signings, the Orioles found him expendable. I guess so. All I know is Young hit one of the longest homeruns I've ever seen. Two years ago at Bowie, the mammoth 1st sacker hit one to Annapolis off of Gustavo Chacin who was pitching for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at the time. An absolute bomb.

A couple of bad losses yesterday for some teams that we are accustomed to seeing in the NCAA tourney. Kentucky beaten at home by 'Bama and Arizona finished up a winless trip to the Northwest falling at Oregon. Is it possible that both of those teams miss the field come March. Kentucky has lost three in a row, and at 10-6 has to be on the bubble. There still is time to rally and against the weak SEC that's seems possible. But seriously, they are in trouble. Meanwhile, Arizona sports a matching mark and had seemed to figure things out after a slow start. But this latest skein against some mediocre competition is cause for concern. If they don't fare much better than their current .500 mark in conference play, they could end up on the wrong side on Selection Sunday.

Speaking of the SEC, how bad is it? Well Florida is the only definite in the league. Tennessee is probably the next best the conference has to offer, but you have to still have a few questions there. Ole Miss got another good solid win yesterday over in-state Mississippi State and is teetering on the rankings at 13-3. But when you have 53 point losses to New Mexico on your resume you tend to get overlooked, especially with an RPI above 75. Vandy has played well at times but lost yesterday when trying to followup the Kentucky win. LSU has played everybody tough but has five losses, while Alabama will try to put it together after yesterday's upset at Rupp. Is it possible this conference only gets three teams in the field in March? Or as strange as it seems, less?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ahhh, Jimmy

You may have noticed that Loyola College has won a few more basketball games than normal at this time of the year. And if you noticed, you may have inquired as to why. Chances are somebody told you about Jimmy Patsos, the longtime psychotic assistant for Gary Williams, who took over the program last year. And maybe they told you about Andre Collins and the center Fafana who followed him to Evergreen land.

But did they tell you that somebody needs to sit Patsos down and get him under control. During two of the Greyhound's wins this year, Patsos has drawn the ire of the opposing coach for yelling at people he shouldn't be yelling at. First, Patsos accused the Mount Saint Mary's scorekeeper of cheating and when Mount head coach Milan Brown intervened they nearly came to blows. (Patsos was later proven wrong about whether or not the officials had ruled the play in question a 2 or a 3). And then the other night at Canisius, Patsos screamed at a Canisius player after the player had committed a hard foul on Collins late in the contest. Canisius's head coach MacDonald didn't like it and let Patsos know it.

My editors won't like it, but Patsos is turning the program around in Baltimore. But you have to question the way he's doing it. He has garned enthusiasm for a program that so often lacked any sort of following and you have to applaud that. But consistently going against the etiquette of basketball and making enemies within the coaching fraternity isn't going to help him in the long run. A suspension is in order in this case. And if the folks at Loyola won't do it, the MAAC ought to step in. These incidents have been semi-minor and nothing major has developed out of them. But the frequency is showing a pattern. Somebody needs to stop that pattern before we have a major situation to deal with.

One quick word of caution. Be very wary of what seems like free money in regards to the underdogs this weekend in the NFL. More often then not, good teams with home field advantage and a week to prepare outperform their opponents and the odds on this weekend in the NFL playoffs.

The Cuse at UC tonight. Would have been worth the trip to the Shoe just for the dance team.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

Real quick...but I couldn't pass it up.

Sean Taylor will get to play in Saturday's NFL playoff game. Yeah, his trial for waving a gun in the face of a woman has been delayed. Yep so he can play.

The Redskins are happy about this....but the guy who is most happy with this news.

Marcus Vick. He figures he still has a chance of making the NFL.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Truth in Advertising

If you click on the above link, you can get a free Hokie screensaver. Or you can do something neat and have pictures of Tara Reid. You decide. But I mean if you do click on the link, and least read what they are selling you.

Can Marcus Vick bring the Hokies back to the glory days of brother Mike? Can the Hokies hang in against the toughest football and basketball conference in the land? Stay tuned to this channel for the answers and get hundreds of full screen images of all the action from every contending Hokie team!

You can't make that stuff up. I mean seriously, I'm not that funny.

Pitt's in trouble at the half. I'll have to watch the second.

Big, Big Day

Less than one hour til Reggie Bush announces his plans for next year. Does anyone think he's coming back. Formality baby. But credit Louisville, or maybe Michael Bush in particular, with at least providing some drama today. The headline on CBS Sportsline said, Bush will be back; Louisville running back returning . At least got me to read the headline.

So who is the next coach of the Jets going to be. Apparently, they've interviewed Mike Tice, Joe Vitt, and Jim Haslett. Who's next? Dennis Erickson. That would be a hoot.

The Packers hired Michael McCarthy. Not the former Delaware Park jockey. But the former Brett Farve quarterbacks coach. Of late he's been leading the 32nd ranked offense as the 49ers offensive coordinator, and getting fired from the same job in New Orleans.

Yes, there are 32 teams in the NFL.

Good, solid effort by my Orangemen last night. It's my blog, I can call them Orangemen. McNamara continues to be a great player, finding different ways to make a difference. Devendorf had a great game and continues to impress as a freshman. A bit too much skin ink for my tastes, but keep putting up 20 a night and I'll learn to live with it. And Mookie was sensational. If this team continues to get balanced scoring from McNamara and Nichols, and somebody else steps up each night, it wouldn't surprise me if they made the second weekend.

NOKevinMillarBaltimore.com. Somebody go buy the rights while they are still out there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

BC - What a sham?

Took a shot at VTech earlier, so why not one at BC, the other of my despised Big East runaways. That's right they are 0-3 in the ACC now. I swear it was the quietiest gym I've ever heard on television. Of course getting pounded has its effects. But all in all, I like Conte. Its neat because its connected to Alumni Stadium, and of course has the ice for hockey, which you don't see too often in College hoops arenas. Plus they have this little auxillary gym they used to play the women's games in. Pretty cool complex, but wouldn't bother me if BC never wins again. Big win for the Pack though. They do the most with the Princeton offense, and they move it around enough that sometimes you don't realize its all Princeton.

Oh, and by the way, Tech lost in hoops tonight as well. North Carolina in that reloading year got them in Blacksburg. Pity, Pity.

Call somebody, Oklahoma lost. Again. 0-2 in the Big 12 now. And its losses to Missouri and Nebraska not exactly top of the line. Kelvin Sampson needs to get it figured out quickly. This team could spiral fast.

Toledo won a big game in the MAC conference and nobody probably realized it. After taking a 17-point lead to the intermission they held on for a 3-point win over Buffalo. The Bulls have now lost two in a row following this weekend's overtime loss to Northern Illinois. Yes conference play is totally upon us.

I figured that Minnesota might bounce back after the embarrassing loss to Northwestern and Wisconsin could have been feeling pretty good about itself after the win over Michigan State. Sure enough the Gophers kept it close. But the hard fought road win secures Wisconsin's place near the top for me.

Vanderbilt just won at Kentucky. That might bother a few people in the BlueGrass state. Yeah that and the 30 point loss to mediocre Kansas over the weekend. Speaking of mediocre.

Bruce Sutter made the Hall of Fame today. I have no problem with that. Sutter was clearly a dominant relief pitcher of his time. Which I thought was what the criteria was all about. But if that is the case, why wasn't Goose Gossage elected. I mean for that stretch he was as dominant as they get. It was a different game then and guys didn't wrap up 40 or 50 saves a year, but guys did pitch two or three innings to close out games as Gossage so often did. As a kid he scared me, and he won and saved lots of games for the Yankees. It really is late. I'm making an argument to get a Yankee in the Hall of Fame.

Put me on the side of liking the Corey Patterson trade in Baltimore. Yeah and remember I was the founding member of the Luis Matos fan club.

Real quick on Joe Paterno. Lesser coaches would have been fired. But as Ray Ratto on CBS Sportsline pointed out 11 win seasons help to keep you employed. Still a stupid series of comments by Paterno who should know better. Personally, I think Penn State ought to suspend Paterno for the season opener next year and donate one game's salary to a Rape Victims Group. Oh, but then we'd know what he makes.

Looking forward to Syracuse/Notre Dame tomorrow night.


Anyone taking one of the free Virginia Tech jerseys being offered above will forever be banned from the TheFanBlog.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hit or Miss

First the important stuff....my buddy Travis, a Pitt fan, is doing something far more important than anything you or I is doing this week. He's spending a week helping to rebuild in the Gulf Coast region. He's got a blog about it, and you should check it out and do anything that you can to help. http://helpingthegulf.blogspot.com Good stuff Travis. Thanks for the effort.

Ok, now basketball. The rigors of the Big East felt by UC tonight. The Bearcats humbled a bit in Gampel. UCONN has been struggling some but might now be getting into it after playing such a cupcake schedule in December. They will jump into my Top 10 with this win. I think.

Somebody run an IQ test on Marcus Vick. I mean seriously the guy just isn't too smart. By my math, it took him two days to get himself into trouble after getting thrown off the Virginia Tech football team. This time he pulled a gun on three teenagers in the parking lot of a Suffolk Virginia restaurant. My initial thought was he must have been mad that they wouldn't drink his alcohol.

Is the Kansas City job really that much better than the Jets? Or did Herman Edwards just sense that another 4-12 year in the Meadowlands might not be a good thing?

The media is trying to make something of the Carson Palmer injury. Sure it was a tough tough break for the Bengals, but it wasn't a diry hit. Palmer to his credit put that to rest as well. Good for him. We like Carson Palmer. We still can't believe that was brother at quarterback for UTEP.

Speaking of college football, did we tell you the Horns would win. Yeah we thought so. But we're not as smart as our favorite blogger, Roch Kubako - he doesn't get a link, we reserve that for Travis, who hit the score outright.

Sort of Duke, then Florida and a whole lot of mush in the college basketball poll isn't it. Well I'm still high on Illinois, but their offense has shown chinks in the Big Ten. I've got Duke, Florida, Illinois, Cincy and Pittsburgh five entering the day. But Cincy will have to fall after their loss. Does that mean I move Northern Iowa into my top 5? It could be.

The Panthers have a road win at LSU and a win over Iowa. They are tenth in the RPI and they've won 10 out of 11 or something like that. But they are still not ranked by the AP.

Neither is my Orange, who is 13-2 with a 10-game win streak. Seems odd. But if they play well the next few games they'll jump in there. How bout a stretch of @ Notre Dame, @ Cincy, Connecticut, @ Nova, @ Pitt? Anybody even want to argue that the ACC is the better conference?

Didn't think so.

I'll try to be better, I'll try to be back tomorrow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Hasn't 2006 been just dandy?

I think I've lost all but 3 of the 600 hands of online poker I played today. Oh well.

The year didn't end up so well for UCLA on the hardwood did it? The curse of the fanblog. Move them to Top 5 status and BAM! the upset happens.

But things were better on the hardwood for the Bruins. After falling behind 22-0 in the Sun Bowl, the Bruins rallied for the win over Northwestern. In fact they got so far ahead, they ended up running two onside kicks back for touchdowns. The first time I don't think the Wildcats realized he was allowed to do that. The second one, they tried to tackle him, but he just made a good move.

Its 2006 and Miguel Tejada is still an Oriole. The latest rumor is a four-team deal with the Orioles getting Matt Clement, Anna Benson and Julio Lugo. Frankly, I'm sick of the whole situation. My next comment on the deal is when its done. Yeah, lets see if I can do that.

Dick Vermiel is hanging it up again. He did better with the announcement this time around. Not as many tears. But after you've retired three times already its tough to force the tears out. Seriously, best of luck working with Musberger next year. That guy makes more references to the betting line than I do.

Northern Iowa appeared cooked at home to Evansville yesterday. But the Panthers showed why they are an NCAA invite contender by rallying from down big early to win going away. The MVC continues to be one of the better conferences in the country. And they deserve much recognition come tournament time. Obviously, there is a lot of basketball to be played between now and then. But right now, you have to give six teams consideration at least. Missouri State, Wichita State, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Creighton and Indiana State would all be on a list of bubble teams if the committee met today.

Speaking of bubble teams, or not... The Mount lost again yesterday. Just how much does this team frustrate me? I turned the radio off when it was 27-7 and the Penn State announcers were joking about having a three touchdown lead. It must have gotten better from there. The final ended 65-53, but it was more than I could handle early.

I'll get a look at the Mounties on Tuesday night versus Lafayette. Its one of those games that if they don't win, I'm just about ready to call it a season.

The 49ers went and beat the Texans in overtime. That means there will be no reunion for Reggie Bush and Alex Smith. They played together in high school you know? Imagine how many points George Chaump could have gotten out of them? I'm talking one Friday night.

But remember I still say Texas wins.