Friday, February 29, 2008

Random Thoughts

Alot has been made about Manny Ramirez not joining his Red Sox teammates in Washington DC on their visit to the White House and the Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital. Before I give you my opinion on this, you should know that I am someone whom will criticize Manny when I feel that he deserves the criticism. For instance, if he fails to hustle or refuses to play when his manager asks him to, that is unacceptable to me and I will criticize him for it. However, there are many other things that Manny gets criticized for unjustly and his non-trip to Washington may be one of them.

I've heard people speculate that Manny may not like President Bush or not approve or the war in Iraq. First of all, none of us know if any of this is true or even what his motive for not going on the trip was. So how, then, can we criticize him. Furthermore, if any of those things are true, I still don't have a problem with him not attending as it was his right as an American citizen and a human being not to go. No big deal!

Secondly, the Journal's Jim Donaldson wrote a column today on him not at least going on the trip to visit our injured veterans at the hospital which, admittedly, is a tougher one to defend him on. Still, I cannot criticize Manny for this either and here's why: I, nor does anyone else, know exactly what Manny may or may not do for charitable organizations including whether or not he ever visits hospitals to comfort sick children or veterans. Secondly, to those who do criticize Manny, how much charitable work do YOU do? I do as much as I can but still don't feel as if it is enough. Secondly, GM Theo Epstein and P Julian Tavarez also didn't manke the trip. Where are the columns criticizing them? Or do we just accept their absence as Theo being Theo and Julian being Julian. Give me a break!

Believe me when I tell you, I am as patriotic about my country as you will find. It infuriates me to see an American citizen burn our flag in protest but I begridgingly accept the fact that it is his or her right to do so. That's what makes this country so great. So count me among those who will not criticize Manny for his absence in Washington. Without knowing all the facts behind his absence, what he does for charitable work that we don't know about and given his rights as an American citizen, I'll choose to criticize him for something else.

-There's a good chance that democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will be in attendance at the Brown/Penn men's basketball game Saturday night at 6pm at the Pizzatola Sports Center on the campus of Brown University. Obama will speak at a rally earlier in the day at Rhode Island College and may stick around to watch his brother-in-law Craig Robinson coach the Bears in their game against the Quakers.

-I've seen many collapses in sports before and must say that this URI collapse is about as bad as it gets. If they make it to the NCAA tournament, however, all will be forgotten.

-Most of the PC Friar fans I talk to say that they do want a change in head coach at season's end but genuinely feel bad that things haven't worked out for the likeable Tim Welsh here.

-Get me through March Madness before I can get excited about the upcoming baseball season.

-Don't look now, but the Boston Bruins are only 6 points out of having the best record in the NHL's Eastern Conference. Something real good could be "Bruin" up in Boston!

-I'd be willing to bet alot on a Celtics/Pistons Eastern Conference Finals.

-If the Celts can add Cassell to the roster like they did PJ Brown, it will give them added depth to make a stong run at a 17th NBA title.

-With that said, Celtics fans have to be thrilled with the performance of Rajon Rondo this year at the point.

-If I'm Roger Clemens, I'm not sleeping very well at night these days.

-Ditto for Bill Bellichick until this damn Spygate II thing gets resolved.

-Speaking of that, will Matt Walsh please either hand over the evidence to the league or go away? This is getting to be real tedious.

-I never thought I'd live to see the day where Syracuse football was the doormat of the Big East conference and Syracuse men's basketball could miss the NCAA tournament 2 years in a row but that's what I'm looking at right now!

-Assante Samuel to the Philadelphia Eagles? I guess it's better than Samuel to the Jets.

-Patriots fans had to think that Tedy Bruschi would be back. I mean, really, could you picture him in any other uniform?

-WR/ST Kelly Washington has agreed to return to New England. Can he fill a hole in the WR corps?

-The Red Sox beat BC and Northeastern by a combined score of 39-0 in two 7-inning games yesterday. What's the matter, the Cranston Little League team was unavailable for action?

-They say 2-4 inches of snow are expected here in Providence overnight. I don't know about you, Tiger, but I'm getting the itch to play a little golf. Enough with the white stuff already!

-Speaking of Tiger, he is in a league of his own. My apologies to the Golden Bear but Tiger is the best golfer of all-time.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekend Ramblings

Could this weekend have ended up any worse for our 3 local Div. 1 men's basketball programs? The Rhody Rams have officially played their way off the bubble with a 3rd consecutive home loss in a "must" win game and have now lost 5 of their last 6. PC got drubbed in Morgantown by the West Virginia Mountaineers while Brown had a nice win Friday night at Columbia only to have their Ivy League title hopes dashed the following night at Cornell.

The Rams defense has been virtually nonexistent for the past few games. Granted, when you are an up-tempo high-scoring team, it's only natural that your defense will suffer a bit. But not to this extent. This team was scoring lots of points earlier in the season but they were also defending much better. Now, they're not. As much as we're all concerned about this team's losing skid coinciding with Jimmy Baron's struggles, I can't put alot of weight in that. The offense hasn't suffered! They're scoring a ton of points and their shooting percentages have been very good. It's the defense and, to a lesser extent, the turnovers that are killing them right not. With an RPI of 56, Rhody needs to win a minimum of 4 games (maybe 5) between their 3 remaining regular season games and the A-10 tourney to have a shot at making it to the Big Dance.

There's not much to say about the Friars other than it will be interesting to see what Bob Driscoll does at season's end. Does he stick with Welsh or let him go? The bet here is it's the latter. And who makes his short list of coaching candidates if there is a change? As for on the floor, I've had some people say to me that PC "gave up" in the 2nd half at West Virginia. I'm not going there. I just think that, among other things, this team's confidence is now gone making it twice a difficult to pull out of this rut.

The Brown Bears played a great 2nd half at Columbia Fri. night to beat the Lions setting up a huge game Saturday in Ithaca, NY where they lost to 1st place Cornell. For the Bears (3 down with 4 to go) there's still plenty to play for like a 19-win season (17 is the most wins for one season in Brown history) and a postseason berth in either the NIT or CBI. This weekend the Bears host Princeton & Penn with Saturday being senior night. Two of the all-time Brown greats will be honored that night in Barrington's Mark McAndrew (this Ivy League's leading scorer) and Damon Huffman. Big man Mark MacDonald will also be honored that night. The same night that the man who brought them to Brown (Glen Miller) returns to the East Side with his Penn Quakers. It's a 6pm start at the Pizzatola Sports Center. I highly reccommend checking it out!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Let It Snow!

On the road with the Brown Bears here in the Big Apple where the Columbia Lions await our visit. The snow is coming down hard here! They're calling for 9-12" in thses parts. just talked to the wife who told me they're expecting far less back home in little Rhody.

If the Bears can pull off the weekend sweep of Columbia and Cornell, then the possibility of winning the Ivy League becomes very real. Anything less than a sweep and the Big Red will have all but wrapped up the title.

Watched the Rhody-UMass game on ESPN2 last night. A good shooting night for URI, but the turnovers (20) were a killer, particularly the one by Bitee and the one by Seawright in the games final minutes. Also, the Rams HAVE TO play better "D" or they're going nowhere. Scoring 91 is great but means nothing when you give up 98! And did anyone on URI even TRY to force Chris Lowe to his right? He obviously loves to go left and shredded the Rhody D by doing so. The Rams should have been sitting on his left hand forcing him to go right all the time. Bad job by URI there. And you have to wonder if Jimmy Baron is becoming URI' version this year of Weyme Efejuku (sp?) last year for the Friars. Remember the saying last year, "as Weyme goes, so go the Friars?" It looks like that's the motto for Rhody as of late, "as Jimmy goes, so go the Rams."

There's an article in today's NY Post about Tim Welsh possibly getting fired at season's end. Tim is very well liked and respected here in NY because of the fine job he did at Iona. They even refer to him as a great offensive coach which is hard to argue because statistically, his teams are usually very strong on that end of the floor.

Stay warm!

Talk to you later.

Monday, February 18, 2008

From the Ryan Center

Figured we'd update the blog while here at the Rhody-Xavier game. At half, the Musketeers lead by 10, 44-34. I have to say that I am very impressed with Xavier having seen them in person for the first time. They move well on offense both with and without the ball. They penetrate the defense and dish to wide open shooters on the wing. They've got guys who can score inside and out. And they did a great job defending Jimmy Baron in the first half. I'll tell you what, if the Rams win this one it will be an excellent win! Even with a non-effective Drew Lavender (ankle), the Musketeers look to be the stronger of the two teams in my eyes. I hope the second half changes my opinion on that.

As for the Friars, I didn't get a chance to see their loss to Gtown yet. From following it on gametracker while doing the show down here today, it appeared that Weyme had a strong game. My big question is: why did McDermott take only 3 shots? (2-3 FG) I don't know if it was the Hoyas defense or what, but McDermott needs to assert himself to be much more of an offensive force for the Friars.

I also took an intersting call on the air tonight suggesting that I seem to be "harder" on Tim Welsh now that the Friars are no longer on the Score. Criticism accepted, but with explanation.

I must preface my remarks by saying that I like Tim Welsh, personally. He's a good man and someone who I consider a friend. For that reason, it can be difficult when criticizing the job that he does. But that is MY job - to critique the "pro" team in the state.

While I have in the past pointed out, and continue to believe, that PC is one of the toughest jobs in the Big East, I have also fairly pointed out that the Friars post season performance (particularly in the Big east Tourney) has been subpar under Welsh. This is not a new criticism that I have created.

Secondly, just as with Sharaud Curry's injury this year, there have been things like injuries to other key players in the past that have hurt PC while Tim has been here. The big difference is that this team had NCAA tournament expectations placed on it (rightly or wrongly) coming into the season and I have a hard time believing that 1 player (no matter who it is) can mean the difference between an NCAA Tournament appearance and no postseason appearance at all. If that's the case, then Curry is alot better than I give him credit for or the rest of the players aren't as good as I thought they were. take your pick.

Mainly, though, it is no secret that this was a critical year for Welsh who has 1 more year left on his contract after this season. He had delivered PC to the NCAA's twice in 9 years and the expectation was that they should be back there this year as well. His 1 win in 9 years at the BE Tourney is something that hurts his resume more than the 0-2 mark in the NCAA's. We knew that since the school didn't extend him before the season that they were taking the "wait and see" approach. If he makes it to the NCAA's or even a strong showing in the NIT, they would have likely extended him. Anything less than that and it would probably mean his dismissal. Why? Well, for all of the aforementioned reasons. Plus, Bob Driscoll would be hurting the future of the program by letting him coach out the final year of his contract. Recruiting can be a dirty business and coaches competing for the same players on the recruiting trail as PC would most certainly use his "lame duck" status against him and the school. Therefore, Driscoll was faced with making a decision on Tim's future at the end of the season one way or another. It has made this season a referendum on Welsh's coaching career here at PC.

I have taken my share of calls from Friar fans not happy with the job he's done over the past few years and I admit that I have said that a coaching change should NOT be made. Mainly because there were too many years and too much money left on Tim's contract so it made no financial sense for PC. But also because I don't think that Welsh has woefully underachieved here in Providence. His NCAA and NIT appearances have been close to on par with what I would expect out of a program like PC competing in such a tough conference. To me, it's been more about two things. The poor finish to what was otherwise a great 2003-04 season and the lack of wins at the Big East Tourney.

Now, with the fans all calling for his dismissal, Driscoll and Providence College are left with little choice. The fans want change and the College almost has to oblige. And I agree. It would be bad business not to.

Having said that, I hope that Welsh is treated better these last few home games than he has been because of what I said earlier. He is a good man. He wanted to make it work and stay here for a very long time. And nobody wanted him to succeed more than me. For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen.

I wish him well wherever he winds up.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hitting the Local College Basketball Scene

Sorry about forgetting to blof Friday. I was on the road with brown basketball at Penn in Philadelphia and didn't get a chance to do it. My bad! I also can't seem to shake this damn cold. It's been about 3 weeks and it's still with me. Found out today it's a sinus infection so hopefully the antibiotics knock it out of me.

Now that I've shared with you probably more than I should have, I'd like to give you my take on the status of our 3 local Div. 1 men's basketball programs.

BROWN: The Bears made history over the weekend sweeping Penn and Princeton on the road in the same weekend for the first time in school history. The 5 point win at Penn really wasn't as close as the final score indicated as the Bears were always in control. Saturday night, however, the bears stole one from the Princeton Tigers. Down 10 with just over 7 minutes left, the Bears managed to force overtime where they grinded out the win. It really showed the character of this team which is outstanding and it also served as another demonstration of how good the head coach is.
I'll be the first to admit that I thought it would be impossible for Brown to find a replacement for Glenn Miller that was anywhere near as good as him. Well, they did! In fact, I think that Craig Robinson may be even better! I can tell you that he has gotten more out of the same talent Miller coached at Brown. That's no disrespect intended to Glenn, just a big time compliment to Robinson.
Right now the Bears are 14-8 and 6-2 in the Ivy League. They are 7-5 on the road with their 5 road losses coming at Michigan, Providence, Notre Dame, Baylor and Yale in OT.
With an RPI of 122, if the Bears finish strong and don't overtake Cornell (8-0) for the Ivy title, a postseason berth may still be awaiting them. When Brown went to the NIT in 2003, they had an RPI in the 140's. Even if it's not the NIT, the newly created CBI tournament which consists of 16 teams after the NCAA's field of 65 and the NIT's 32 could be a logical landing spot. The tournament is run by the Gazelle Group based out of Princeton, NJ and it's president Rick Giles happens to be Craig Robinson's agent. Not that I am suggesting any type of favoritism to Robinson and the Bears. If they continue to win, they will be deserving of strong consideration and with Giles calling the shots, they should get it.

URI: To the dismay of the Rams and their fans, life in the A-10 has proven to be alot more difficult than expected. The league is full of teams capable of knocking off anyone on any given night which has caused some minor angst down in Kingston. At 14-1 after non-league play, we all had the Rams pegged for somewhere around 12-4 at worst in the league. Well, for that to happen, Rhody would have to run the table heading into the A-10 tournament which appears unlikely.
Rhode Island has 3 tough home games coming up in succession with Xavier, UMass and St. Joe's back-to-back-to-back. he good news is they're 11-0 at home this season. If they win all 3, they will have stamped their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Even 2 out of 3 would be solid.
The only thing that haunts the Rams right now is that their n on-conference marquee wins aren't as solid as they could be with Providence floundering and Syracuse looking like a bubble-trouble team. If the Orange can win a few more games against ranked teams in the Big East and get into the tourney that will help Rhody's resume' alot. They also almost got a huge boost from UAB who almost pulled off the upset of Memphis in Coference USA.

PROVIDENCE: Sadly, the beat goes on for the Friars who look like a beaten team and program right now. After hanging tough with Louisville for 30 minutes Saturday, the Friars couldn't pull off the upset at the Dunk and lost another Big East game. This was a team with NCAA tournament aspirations coming into the season and now they probably won't even qualify for the Big East tournament or the NIT.
The loss of Sharaud Curry was devistating. He was their leading returning scorer and their QB. he made the offense go. However, better recruiting could have lessened the blow of his absence with a half descent back-up point guard.
I've certainly given my own opinion on Tim Welsh's future on my show and have read all of the articles from the likes of Billy Reynold's, Kevin McNamara and Jim Donaldson. And while we all have brought up good points on this issue, the bottom line is that the time has come for change at the top.
Tim Welsh is not a bad coach. He's actually a good one. However, this program needs someone bordering on greatness. With all of the challenges that come along with making PC basketball competetive in the rediculously tough Big East conference, you need a great coach who can not only recruit very well, but also coach the hell out of his players. Anything less than that and PC is doomed to remain at the bottom of the Big East.
My preliminary thoughts say that there are a few guys who AD Bob Driscoll should at least consider talking to. Jim O'Brien, Jim Baron, Carl Hobbs, Travis Ford, Craig Robinson and Glenn Miller. Let's look at the one at a time.
O'Brien just got cleared by the NCAA to return to coaching after winning his lawsuit against Ohio State for getting fired over recruiting violations. While I am not excusing what happened with that European recruit, I will say that I find O'Brien to be a solid human being and a good man as well as an excellent coach. He did well at both Ohio State and BC which tells you that he can compete with the big boys in the Big East.
Jim Baron is going nowhere! He likes it at URI and would NEVER leave to take another job while Jimmy Jr. is still playing. Still, Baron is the type of coach PC needs to find. He is a great man and a terriffic coach who gets the most out of his players and whose teams play tough which is needed in the Big East.
Carl Hobbs and GW are having a down year but that should not dissuade PC from talking to him. He can recruit and he can coach. He is also from the Jim Calhoun coaching tree having played for and coached with him at UConn so he knows what it takes to win in the Big East.
Travis Ford is from the Rick Pitino coaching tree which Providence, for obvious reasons, might find attractive. He's done a pretty good job at UMass and his team gets after it. Effort is not something you question about Travis Ford's teams.
Craig Robinson has only been a head coach for 2 years but if you've paid attention to Brown, you can see just how good the man really is. Yes, he runs the Princeton offense but much more liberally than his coach Pete Carrill did. In fact, if you look at what John Thompson III is doing at Georgetown, that's what Robinson might be able to do at PC. He can flat out coach! It would simply be a matter of recruiting the talent to PC which I think he would be able to do as well.
The same can be said about Glenn Miller at Penn. He can flat out coach up his talent. The big question would be, could he bring in good enough talent to compete in the upper half of the Big East? I'd want to be sure of that before pulling the trigger on bringing him on board.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More on Clemens

Having had 24 hours to let the testimony in the congressional hearings marinate, I have to tell you that I am still convinced that Roger Clemens is the big loser in all of this. While Brian McNamee was exposed and, in some cases, verbally attacked for being the lying SOB that he is, it is still Clemens who left us with the most unanswered questions. Questions such as:

1.) How does he explain his best friend Andy Pettitte's sworn testimony claiming that Clemens told him he had taken HGH in a conversation that took place in either 1999 or 2000? At first it was that he was referring to his wife's HGH use which we found our was definitely not true because here HGH use began in 2003. Then it was something about how he was simply referring to some show he watched on TV where some old men took HGH and felt much better after taking it. Then is was that Pettitte simply "misremembered" their conversation. Nice try Rog! I'm not buying it.

2.) Are we to believe that Debbie Clemens is the only member of the family to take HGH? Please! I am quite certain that Debbie probably would not have known anything about HGH or it's benefits if she didn't get the info from her hubby. Again, nice try, but it didn't work for me.

3.) Why would McNamee have told the truth about Pettitte and Knobloch and not Clemens? Roger didn't have an answer for this one. Instead, he relied on many of the republican committee members to attack McNamee's credibility. Even though McNamee is far from the most credible human being, I still can't come up with a good answer for this question either.

4.) Are we supposed to believe that noone told you about your name being in the Mitchell report before it's release and that George Mitchell wanted to speak with you prior to it's release? Clemens said on 60 minutes with mike Wallace that he did not speak to Mitchell before hand because his attourneys advised him against it. Yesterday, he claims that noone ever told him that mitchell wanted to speak to him. Whatever!

While Clemens may have been the best pitcher of many of our lifetimes, his pitch to the congressional committee yesterday was one that didn't even come close to the strike zone. It was, in fact, the worst of his career.

It is likely that Clemens will not face perjury charges simply because it would be difficult to prove. Furthermore, it is also very unlikely that he would be charged with using illegal drugs because law enforcement usually targets the dealers and not the users.

So what we are left with is the next Barry Bonds or even Pete Rose. We strongly assume his guilt which he continues to deny just as strongly. Even if he were to come clean like Rose did some 10 years after the fact, forgiveness is not an option. If that's what he wanted, he should have taken the Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi or Rodney Harrisson route. After he was caught he should have come clean with whatever explanation or excuse he wanted to and things would have died down quickly. Not now. Not ever.

The next interesting moment in this whole ordeal will come 5 years from now when Clemens is eligible for hall of fame consideration. That's provided that he doesn't un-retire once again. What will the baseball writers do? Will they look past the alleged performance enhancing drug use and give him the needed 75% of the vote for induction or will he suffer a similar fate to that of Mark McGwire?

I don't know. But I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Clemens / McNamee Hearings

Welcome back to my blog Score listeners! I apologize for getting a bit lazy and not updating it. I will try to update it daily Monday-Friday each week.

Today, a quick take on the Clemens/McNamee hearings in front of the congressional committee on oversight and reform.

-Clearly someone is lying here and could face perjury charges somewhere down the line.

-The big question is, do we have a winner in these hearings? Probably not! Both Clemens and McNamee had their credibility called into question by various committee members which was somewhat separated by party lines. The republicans seemed to suck up to Roger and attack the credibility of McNamee while the democrats went after Clemens for his inconsistent testimony things that contradicted his story.

-What we are left with is a situation where we can only form our own opinions based upon what we heard today.

-In my opinion, nothing happenned today to change my opinion going into the hearing. I tend to believe that Clemens probably did knowingly do steroids and still do.

-The most convincing Q & A for me was that of Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) who seemed to point to Clemens' best friend Andy Pettitte for the right answers. Pettitte, in a sworn deposition last week confirmed that he had two conversations with Clemens about Roger's HGH use and, in both cases, he shared those conversations with his wife who confirmed them in her own sworn deposition. When asked by Cummings what he thought about Pettitte's statements, Clemens indicated that Pettitte must have "misremembered" their conversations and continued his denial of ever having taken steroids or HGH. Andy Pettitte is no angel (he admitted in his sworn deposition that he had taken HGH in 2004 which he did not admit to after the Mitchell report), but I find him to be the most believable of everyone involved in this mess.

That's all for now! For more, join me on the Sportsbeat today at 3pm>