Archive for March, 2009

Poll watching, Monday style

March 30, 2009

The good folks at the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association have released a new poll, and Fayetteville Academy is moving on up.

Wow, what a bad pun.

Anyway, the Lady Eagles are third in this week’s private school table after falling to top-ranked Charlotte Latin, 3-0, at the Brittany on Friday.

In the public school ranks, Terry Sanford dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 9 New Hanover on March 25, and as a result, the Bulldogs (7-1) fell from the “others receiving votes” section of the 4A Poll.

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Montero shining in MLS

March 30, 2009

Maybe you’ve heard of Fredy Montero and how he’s tearing up Major League Soccer for the expansion Seattle Sounders.

If not, you can check out the piece I wrote for MajorLeagueSoccerTalk.com here.

Should he stay or should he go?

March 30, 2009

It’s a Clash Monday here on the ol’ blog where we’ll ask the age old question – should he stay or should he go – of Memphis coach John Calipari and whether or not he should entertain an offer from the University of Kentucky to be its new head basketball coach.

Now, there’s some doubt that the Wildcats will run the risk of hiring Calipari, who has a bit of history of running afoul of the NCAA, to repair the damage of the short-lived Billy Gillispie era.

But if they come calling, Calipari will come running.

Here’s why.

1. The big fish/little fish syndrome – Here’s a man who’s won big as a college basketball coach, piling up a 446-140 record in 17 college seasons.

But where has it happened? He was 193-71 at UMass, where he was also 91 up and 41 down in the Atlantic 10. He then left for an ill-fated three NBA seasons in New Jersey before landing at Memphis, where he’s gone 253-69 overall and an eye-popping 117-25 in Conference USA games.

If you’re the best coach of the best team in a crappy conference, does it matter to anyone?

How often have we heard Calipari play the “no respect” card. We heard it this year when his Tigers were passed over for a No. 1 seed after yet another romp through an over matched league slate.

This is his chance to start…

2. Making a legacy– Don’t fall into the trap of recency. Kentucky is a college basketball dream job.

You get to coach in a good, but not great basketball league in the SEC. You have the full support of the university and legions of wealthy boosters to keep you and your staff well funded. You have top notch facilities and a sea-to-shining-sea clout that makes recruiting for a man of Calipari’s skills and connections a snap.

It’s the kind of place, much like Alabama in football, that the right guy can win big and win quick.

Kentucky basketball isn’t dead. It’s just sleeping.

And Calipari could be the alarm clock.

3. The world is out to get me– There will never be a better chance for Calipari to shed his big coach, small school label and come out the shadow of guys like Rick Pitino and Coach K than this one.

What could be easier? All he has to do is return Wildact basketball to its former glory and become college basketball royalty.

Then, he’ll get to slide around on hardwood floors in a button-up shirt and boxers in Guitar Hero commercials with the big boys.

If he gets the call – and avoids any UConn-esque scandals – I think he’s the man for the job.

Lady Eagles set for tournament play

March 27, 2009

Don’t know how the weather in Wilson is holding up today, but Fayetteville Academy is scheduled to play in the always-competitive Brittany Showcase today.

South View, Jack Britt and Cape Fear will join in on Saturday.

Here is the schedule, weather permitting.

Ahead of my time

March 27, 2009

Every once in a while, I like to toot my own horn.

Ready?

Ahem…

Ah, nevermind.

But I was nine months ahead of the discussion of Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame worthiness.

I wrote this back in June of 2008, and I don’t think my mind’s changed any.

Poll watching, the March 26 edition

March 26, 2009

Terry Sanford is listed in the others receiving votes list for the 4A girls  in the latest North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association Poll this week.

In the private school ranks, Fayetteville Academy is holding steady at No. 7 and Village Christian is still firmly in honorable mention territory.

To see the complete polls, click below: 

4A Poll

Private school poll

Caught up in a fantasy

March 25, 2009

It’s a sickness.

It must be.

No right-minded person would willingly sign up for more than six months of daily headaches, the stress of dealing with obilque injuries and the travel issues regarding red-eyes from Louisville to Cincinnati.

I’m talking fantasy baseball, of course, and foolishly, I’ve signed up for two leagues.

Sigh.

My word, what have I done.

Anyway, there are hundreds of places you can go that will tell you that Hanley Ramirez and Cole Hamels (elbow issues notwithstanding) are studs.

But here are a couple of guys flying below the radar that you may want to consider:

5. Wilson Betemit, Chicago White Sox– He’s not exactly guaranteed a starting gig, but he’s eligible at first, third and short in my leagues. He’s raking this spring (.326, 5 HR, 15 RBI) and if he carries that over, the White Sox will find at-bats for him.

4. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros– I hate to list him here, since he’s batting under the Mendoza Line this spring. But he’s faster than an AIG executive leaving a congressional hearing. You can’t steal first, but Houston is going to give him a look in center and near the top of their lineup. He may be worth a gamble.

3. Dave Bush, Milwaukee Brewers – He’s never going to lead your staff in strikeouts, but he’s looking good this spring (2-0, 2.70 ERA in 20 innings) and he’s a solid back-of-the-rotation guy.

2. Paul Malohm, Pittsburgh Pirates – I know he’s a Pirate, but he’s on fire this spring, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.46 ERA in 19.2 innings. I wouldn’t bank on a high-win total, but it could be a breakout year for him.

1. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies– How far has this slugger fallen? He went undrafted in both of my leagues, probably because of his subpar 2008. But, after back surgery, he’s killing the ball this spring (.348, 4 HR, 9 RBI). If he’s healthy, he could be a steal.

The scarlet letters

March 25, 2009

Man U shirt

It’s one of the most recognizable shirts in world soccer.

It’s Manchester United’s home jersey, worn by some of the world’s greatest players for one of the planet’s most famous clubs.

But those three letters in the middle make it a tad controversial here in the states.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that AIG has received more than $100 billion in bailout funds from the United States governement.

And, in addition to taking a trip to a California spa and a hunting excursion to England, the company has decided to spend more than $165 million on bonuses to its employees.

This has done something that few political issues can – unite Democrats and Republicans alike in anger.

So, since I’m a Fulham fan who has no worries about his team’s shirt sponsor (LG), I’m sort of wondering what Red Devil fans here in the states think about wearing your colors with the letters AIG on the front?

Do you still wear your shirt proudly, or will you wait for the new shirt – sponsored by Air Asia or some other company – next year?

Tournament fun

March 19, 2009

The Madness is here.

I could go line-by-line and tell you who I’m picking to win each and every game, but honestly, am I going to change anyone’s mind about how to fill their pool bracket?

For fun, of course. Not at all for money.

‘Cause that’s not legal.

But that’s not important.

What we’re doing today is picking a few first-round upsets, the ones that get Gus Johnson screaming at the top of his lungs and end up making CBS so much money.

And here are your candidates…

No. 12 Arizona over No. 5 Utah – I don’t know if this would even be an upset, as the folks in Vegas have installed the lower-seeded Wildcats as a 3.5-point favorite. But as far as the seeds go, it qualifies.

Utah owns a win over Gonzaga back on New Year’s Eve and is riding the momentum of winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Runnin’ Utes also have four players averaging double digits, led by 7-2 Aussie center Luke Nevill.

Here’s the problem. They’re only seven deep, which might make Arizona’s pace a bit too much for them. I think if this game leaves the 60s, Utah probably won’t survive.

No. 11 Utah State over No. 6 Marquette – This season had so much promise for the Golden Eagles. But that was before the season-ending injury to all-everything point guard Dominic James. Since then, they’ve lost five of six – granted, all against ranked teams.

Utah State isn’t ranked, but they probably could be with a sterling 30-4 record. Now, the schedule isn’t overwhelming, but the Aggies do have the firepower (Gary Wilkinson 17.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG) and the bodies (nine guys average around double-digit minutes) to push past the Eagles.

No. 10 Maryland over No. 7 California –Is there a more unpredictable team than Coach Gary Williams’ Terps?

Part of the reason why they are hard to pin down – in both good and bad ways – is their point guard, Greivis Vasquez. He leads the team in points, rebounds and assists, dazzling passes, “how’d he do that” moments and eight other stat categories.

It’s the senior guard theory. Anytime a tournament matchup features two evenly-matched teams, always pick the one with the best guard, giving a slight edge to seniors.

Cal’s got talent and a knack for hitting three-pointers. But I have a feeling that those good looks that might have been there in the Pac 10 won’t be there against a hungry, if unstable, Maryland squad.

No. 12 Western Kentucky over No. 5 Illinois –I don’t want to be accused of hating on the Big 10 – otherwise known as the most offensively challenged conference in the land – but I find it hard to believe that the Illini can win this game without their starting point guard, Chester Frazier.

His 5.7 points a game don’t concern me. It’s the 5.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals that will harm Illinois’ chances of topping the, well, Hilltoppers.

Western Kentucky has two dynamic players in Orlando Mendez-Valdez and A.J. Slaughter, and I’m guessing they cash in on the Illini’s misfourtune.

A pair of nines beats a pair of eights –They’re not really upsets, but I also like Tennessee over Oklahoma State and Butler over LSU in a couple of the 8-9 games.

No real logic here, just hunches.

Enjoy the tournament everyone. Just try to be discreet at work…

Poll watching

March 19, 2009

It’s Thursday, so the latest North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association polls are out.

Fayetteville Academy (3-1-1) is seventh in this week’s private school rankings. Cape Fear is 13th and Village Christian is an honorable mention.

Terry Sanford is also an honorable mention in the 4A Girls Poll.

Check out the complete polls below:

4A Poll

Private School Poll