Thursday, April 29, 2010

Williams a risky choice

Tampa Bucs GM Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris talk about how happy they are about last week’s NFL draft.

What else are they going to say?

It’s on them and if it turns out the draft doesn’t supply the team with a significant number of quality players who can help sooner rather than later Dominik and Morris will be out of job sooner than most of us thought.

The biggest question mark was raised when Dominik chose Syracuse receiver Mike Williams, who is arguably the most troubled player among the 255 selected last week.

The 6-2, 221 pounder has an enormous amount of talent. No one would argue that. But he comes with a ton of personal baggage and doesn’t seem to have learned from his mistakes. Read my column in today’s Bradenton Herald and come to your own judgment.

click here for full story

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Many bowl options for USF

The agreement announced this week between the Big East Conference and its bowl affiliations gives the USF football team a lot of incentives and has to be pleasing to its fans.

The Big East has tie-ins with six bowls, which is quite a bit considering there are only eight teams in the conference. The league renewed its agreement with the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg and the in Birmingham Alabama, which will played January 8th next year.

The conference’s latest affiliation is with the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl in Memphis where the Big East could send a representative to play the champion of Conference USA or a team from the SEC.

Other new bowls for the Big East Conference includes Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando where it will face an opponent from the ACC and the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium where a Big East team will face an opponent from the Big 12.

The Big East also has an affiliation with the Meinke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina where it faces and ACC team. In 2005, USF made its inaugural bowl appearance there.

USF is 3-2 in bowl games, with appearances in the Car Care Bowl, Sun Bowl, Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl and now defunct International Bowl last season. The Big East had six teams bowl eligible last season.

The Bulls bowl victories have come against non-BCS teams while its losses have come to North Carolina State in the Car Care Bowl and Oregon in the Sun Bowl.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grothe's recovery encourages Love

As expected A.J. Love was not on the USF depth chart that was released this week. The receiver tore his ACL in the spring game and has a long road to recovery after surgery.

But the Southeast High graduate could return in late October or early November, which would enable him to play about half the season. Everything would have to go smoothly in his rehabilitation and he would have to get rid of any rust that might accumulate while he is out.

If Love is unable to play he could still be healthy and available to work out for NFL teams before next spring’s draft.
The 6-2, 205 pound receiver should be encouraged by former USF quarterback Matt Grothe, who tore his ACL in the third game of last year and was lost for the season.

Grothe went through his surgery and rehab and this weekend will attend the Tampa Bay Bucs rookie minicamp.

Grothe finished his USF days as the all time Big East Conference career total offensive leader. Just as he did coming out of high school, he is fighting a perception that he is not tall enough or quick enough to play in the NFL and doesn’t have the arm strength.

When Love gets himself back to health, he won’t have to worry about any perceptions, real or imagined. He has the size, good speed and has shown a good knack for getting open, catching passes and gaining yardage after the catch.

Raymond listed as starter

USF unveiled its latest depth chart this week and it turned out to be good news for defensive back Mistral Raymond.

The Palmetto High graduate was listed as the starter at free safety following a spring where he demonstrated his toughness and ability to play a position that demands a lot of versatility.

Raymond is the only starter on the depth chart (non-kicker) who does not have an athletic scholarship so maybe new coach Skip Holtz will find it in his heart to grant him one.

The 6-1, 185 pounder transferred to USF last season under the impression he had only one year of eligibility left after playing in junior college. He was granted another year during mid-season and his rise up the depth charts has been nothing short of sensational.

Raymond could’ve gone to other schools on a scholarship, but decided to walk on at USF because his home where his mother, sister and other relatives lived was shot up during a bizarre incident of mistaken identity.

Mistral is the leading tackler with 40 (19 solos) among the returning defensive backs from last year’s USF team. Most importantly, he showed last season that he was quick learner and could be effective on one on one pass coverage as well as coming up to help with the run.


Faron Hornes, the Southeast High graduate who joined USF last year, was not listed on the depth chart, which only included the first and second team.

Hornes did have a nice 48-yard reception and his hoping to get some playing time at the receiver spot this season. He was the Bulls punt returner last year, averaging five yards per attempt on 16 catches. He did not return punts in the spring game so his status at that position is questionable.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NFL Draft raises questions about USF

The NFL draft furthered fueled ammunition by critics of former USF head football coach Jim Leavitt, who questioned his ability to get the most of out of his team.

The Bulls led the Big East Conference with five picks in the NFL draft, including first rounder Jason Pierre-Paul, the defensive end selected 15th overall.

Rutgers and Cincinnati with three picks apiece were tied for second, but three of the first five Big East players in the draft belonged to the Bulls with safety Nate Allen (2nd round) and cornerback Jerome Murphy (3d round).

Rutgers had two first rounders in offensive lineman Anthony Davis and cornerback Devin McCourty while Big East champion Cincinnati’s first pick didn’t come until the fourth round when receiver Mardy Gilyard was chosen. The Bearcats other picks were quarterback Tony Pike in the 6th round and defensive end Ricardo Matthews in the seventh and final round.

Four of the USF players chosen played defense with defensive end George Selvie (7th round) joining the other three. The only offensive player selected was wide receiver Carlton Mitchell.

Six of the 18 Big East players selected were chosen in the final round and nine were selected in the final two rounds. Pittsburgh, which finished second in the Big East, had two picks, one in each of the last two rounds.

It makes you wonder! ___In Big East games only, USF was a less than a mediocre fifth in total defense and fifth in total offense in the eight team league.

It’s a reason the Bulls finished with an unimpressive 3-4 league record with two of their wins coming off lowly Syracuse and Louisville, the Big East cellar dwellers. More disturbing is that they lost to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Rutgers by a combined 106-31.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jackson might also have stayed too long

Defensive end George Selvie is not the only USF athlete who might have erred in not coming out for the professional draft at his first opportunity.

There is also Altron Jackson, the Sarasota Riverview High superstar who finished his basketball career at USF in 2002 as the Bulls second leading career scorer. He had an opportunity come out for the NBA draft after his junior year and decided against it.

The 6-7 wingman was coming off a banner season. He was a first team Conference USA selection and was being lauded for his offensive and defensive skills.

Jackson was thinking about declaring for the draft, but decided to stay for his final season, partly because of advice he received from people close to him.

The move didn’t turn out so good. Quite a few new players came into C-USA. Jackson wound up being a second team selection and his stock dropped.

Jackson finished his career with 2017 points and the C-USA all-time career scoring leader. However, he couldn’t land with an NBA team and wound up playing in Europe where he had some standout seasons.

Jackson has since returned home and retired as a player. He is completing his degree work at USF and worked a volunteer assistant this past season. He recently said he had no regrets about his decision.

Did Selvie make a mistake

George Selvie looks like another example of someone who should not have waited until his final season to enter the NFL draft.

The 6-5, 252 pound USF defensive end was selected in the seventh and final round of this week’s draft by the St. Louis Rams and was the 226th overall pick.

After his junior season in 2009, Selvie was projected as a first round pick by many rating services, including ESPN. He also had his degree.

He chose to come back for his senior year saying he wanted to win a Big East championship. Turns out, he didn’t come close to winning the conference title and he might have lost a lot of money in the process.

As a sophomore in 2007, Selvie was voted the Big East Defensive Player of The Year after leading the nation in tackles for losses with 31.5 and finishing second with 14.5 sacks. He was a consensus first team All-American and became a household name around the country.

He was actually eligible to come out for the draft in 2008 because it was his third year in college (he took a redshirt his first season), but decided against it.

In the 2008 season, he was the first USF two time first team All-American though his numbers were down with 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for losses. He struggled with a high ankle sprain and defenses were gearing up to stop him, which likely accounted for the drop off in numbers.

Quite a few people urged him to come out for the 2009 draft because he looked like a solid first round draft choice. He chose to stay and USF newcomer Jason Pierre-Paul comes in at the other defensive end spot and gets chosen in the first round.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lakewood Ranch girls win track district

The Lakewood Ranch High girls won their first outright district championship since 2005 Thursday night when the Lady Mustangs captured the Class 3A-11 title by finishing first in the 1600 meter run, the last event of the night.

The top 4 finishers in each event qualify for this Thursday’s Region Meet at Charlotte High.

Class 3A-District 11Track Meet: Charlotte High (Punta Gorda)


Team scores: Charlotte 251.5, Manatee 132, Lemon Bay 80, Palmetto 62, Venice 52.5, Bayshore 34, Lakewood Ranch 29, Braden River 20.
Shot put- Garrett Secor (B) 48-09, Cody Waldrop (Ch) 48-01, Dante Phillips (V) 46-05, Tevin Bryant (BR) 45-04.
Pole vault- Josh Kirdy (Ch) 12-00, Jesse Brown (Ch) 12-00, Brian Clark (V) 1-06, Nick Smart (BR) 11-06.
Discus- Cody Blackwell (B) 146-05, Fitz Richards (P) 138-07, Austin Oskey (LB) 132-03, Scott Lixey (LB) 129-03.5.
Long jump- Alex Mut (Ch) 20-11, Tracy Sanders (M) 20-04.5, Quenton Bundrage (M) 20-04, Preston Ritchie (Ch) 19-06.25
Triple jump- ONel Labeach (Ch) 42-01, Dante Hornes (M) 42-00, Charles Merino (P) 41-06, Adam Moore (Ch) 41-05.
High jump- Stephen Krupa (LB) 6-04, Quenton Bundrage (M) 6-02, John Hecker (LB) 6-02, Brice Smith (M) 6-00.
110 meter hurdles- Cedric Myrick (P) 15.79, Todd Johnson (M) 16.22, Colby Lengell (M) 16.19, Wesley Britton (M) 16.29
300 meter hurdles- Todd Johnson (Man) 40.56, Preston Ritchie (Ch) 40.97, Colby Lengel (M) 43.86, Wesley Britton (M) 43.09
100 meters- Mike Bellamy (Ch) 10.84, Tracy Sanders (M) 11.17, Courtland Waters (Ch) 11.21, Preston Ritchie (Ch) 11.23
200 meters- Mike Bellamy (Ch) 22.23, Courtland Waters (Ch) 23.04, Darrell Dieudonne (P) 22.93, Melvin Burston (P) 22.97.
400 meters- Jake Menen (LB) 50.72, Alex Mut (Ch) 52.32, Daniel Clifford (M) 52.46, Conor Brickse (M) 51.49
800 meters- Tyler Cardillo (Ch) 1:53.78, Ryan Schnulle (Ch) 1:53.83, Dylan Boyd (V) 1:55.56, Anthony Pollizzi (Ch) 1:58.58
1600 meters- Anthony Borrego (Ch) 4:41.35, Bryan Hilgar (Ch) 4:43.52, James Kieck (LB) 4:43.63, Jake Mocase (LB) 4:44.02
3200 meters- David Tomchinsky (LB) 9:53.26, Anthony Borrego (Ch) 10:18.43, Daniel Hughes (Ch) 10:21.98, John Adamson ((LB) 10:22.95.
3200 meter relay- Charlotte 8:12.48, Venice 8:22.63, Lemon Bay 8:29.33, Lakewood Ranch 8:20.61,
400 meter relay- Manatee 42.59, Charlotte 42.61, Palmetto 43.38, Venice 44.10
1600 meter relay- Charlotte 3:25.15, Venice 3:35.05, Manatee 3:35.58, Lakewood Ranch 3:37.62

Team scores: Lakewood Ranch 158.50, Charlotte 155, Venice 97.5, Palmetto 85, Manatee 61, Lemon Bay 51, Braden River 24, Bayshore 22.

Shot put- BreeAnne Campbell (M) 35-08.5, Melissa Valere (Ch) 33-06.5, Tiffany Waters (LR) 31-0, Ebony Moore (B) 30-05.
Discus – BreeAnne Hafeli (V) 113-01, Amber Vines (LB) 104-10, BreeAnne Campbell (M) 100-0, Jensen Moore (Ch) 97-07.
Pole vault- Gina Gravino (Ch) 10-06.0, Jillian Koenig (BR) 10-06, Heather Williams (V) 9-06, Sammie Kasmirski (V) 9-00.
Long jump- Lindsey Craft (v) 17-0, Alice Assenza (LR) 16-11, Bridget Lanier (BR) 16-03.5, Lindsey Twenty (LR) 16-0.
High jump- Olivia Moore (BR) 5-00, Alex Ellis (V) 4-10, Christiana Muir (Ch) 4-10, Heather Williams (V) 4-10.
Triple jump- Ayla Allen (LR) 31-04, Ariel Davis (P) 31-00, Miranda McCoy (LB) 30-10, Monica Chin-Yee (V) 30-05.
100 meters- Kymbrel Smith (P) 12.57 seconds, Brandy Gordon (P) 12.88, Trijala Kelley (P) 12.81, Kayla Arrritt (M) 12.96
200 meters- Kymbrel Smith (Pal) 25.64, Amber Quinn (Ch) 26.46, Trijala Kelley (P) 26.71, Dom Key (Ch) 27.30
400 meters- Alyssa Tresch (V) 1:01.29, Kristen Hagaman (LR) 1:02.28, Sarah Howard (M) 1:03.33, Kealey Keepers (Ch) 1:04.23
800 meters- Natalie Novak (LR) 2:20.46, Teresa Gugino (CH) 2:21.75, Abby Garner (LB) 2:25.77, Ashley Platt (LR) 2:27.70
1600 meters- Kristen Zarrella (LR) 5:13.69, Olivia Ortiz (LR) 5:14, Teresa Gugino (Ch) 5:27. 27, Devin McDermott (LR) 5:29.87.
3200 meters- Kristen Zarrella (LR) 11:40.09, Olivia Ortiz (LR) 11:43.11,
100 meter hurdles- Dasha Grooms (P) 16.23, Abigail Conde (Ch) 15.98, Leah Wierichs (LR) 16.61, Alex
300 meter hurdles- Alice Assenza (LR) 49.92, Abigail Conde (Ch) 50.59, Leah Wierichs (LR) 50.68, Brittany Johnson (V) 51.63.
3200 meter relay- Lakewood Ranch (Olivia Ortiz, Ashley Platt, Devin McDermott, Natalie Novak) 9:41.97, Lemon Bay 10:18.85, Manatee 10:28.49, Venice 10:33.95.
400 meter relay- Palmetto 48.56, Charlotte 50.15, Venice 52.47, Lakewood Ranch 52.95
1600 meter relay- Lakewood Ranch (Sara Wolfe, Kaitlyn Wolfe, Kristen Hagaman, Kristen Zarrella) 4:08.73, Charlotte 4:14.23, Manatee 4:20.58, Venice here for complete story

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Higdon an NFL free agent possibility

As reported in my column today in the Bradenton Herald, Southeast High grad Aaron Higdon appears to be Manatee County’s best chance of landing a free agent NFL contract after this week’s draft is completed.

The 5-8, 190 pound sparkplug played at NCAA Division II University of Charleston (W.Va) last fall. But don’t let the level of competition fool you, the 22 year-old put up some impressive numbers and showed he is a legitimate breakaway threat.

What he accomplished reminds us of what Rod Harper, another Southeast grad, did in the Arena Football League before signing a contract with the New Orleans Saints prior to last season. His skill as a returner locked his deal up with the Super Bowl champs.

Higdon led the nation (Division I and Division II) with a whopping 9.9 yards per carry picking up 659 yards on 66 attempts. He also ranked 25th nationally in Division II in All Purpose yards with 1,447.

Higdon recently had a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs. He is represented by Bogo Sports Management in Tampa, which is also representing Delbart Alvarado, a punter/kicker who finished his career last season with the University of South Florida.

click for complete story

Mustangs vs Pirates a heated rivalry

The Lakewood Ranch High softball team seems to have all the momentum heading into its Class 4A-District 10 championship game against Braden River on Friday night.

The host Mustangs are currently 7th in the all classification Max Prep state rankings and sporting a very impressive 22-3 record. Braden River is 18-7 and banged up with some injuries.

But when these two schools get together whatever the sport anything can happen.

The Mustangs have one of the best one-two punches in the state on the mound with Huntrye Elling (10-0) and Brittany Kilduff (12-3). Heading into the final week of the regular season, Elling had a 1.25 ERA and struck out 75 in 67.3 innings while Kilduff had whiffed 81 batters in 85 innings and compiled a 1.16 ERA.

Lakewood Ranch is no slouch with the bat either. The Mustangs have five players batting over .350 and two with a .400 plus batting average led by Dana Hutchins (.469) and Rachel Slowik (.443).

Corey Hanewich, the Stanford bound center fielder, leads the team in runs scored and triples and is like a vacuum in center field with her ability to track down balls and cover so much territory.

Braden River has been besieged with injuries and other health issues, but it has two pitchers in Courtney Mirabella and Hannah Loyer, who can stop just about anybody when they are right.

Mirabella is coming back from a bout with mononucleosis and is trying to regain the strength while Loyer has pitched extremely well lately.

Braden River's best chance to win is in a low scoring game so it will very likely be up to Mirabella and Loyer to keep Ranch's run production at a minimum.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Love injury a tragedy

The news of A.J. Love tearing his ACL and possibly missing his senior football season at USF is very disheartening.

You can’t help but feel for the young man, who bucked so many odds coming out of Southeast High to earn himself a scholarship at USF.

The 22 year-old is the type of person you can’t help but admire. He is a good student and good person with strong leadership skills, who made himself into a top notch receiver.

After coming back in 2009 from a torn ACL on his left knee, this was the season Love was expected to shine and make a name for himself on the big time college scene, perhaps even put himself in a position to be selected in the 2011 NFL draft.

After tearing the ACL in his right knee in USF’s spring game last Saturday night, his status is now in limbo. Recovery from ACL surgery takes on the average six months, which could put him back on the field in November.

If he somehow is ready to play in November and able to shake off his rust, Love could possibly play in five games. The Bulls play Rutgers on November 3d and have four more games afterwards, including three Big East Conference matchups and a game with Miami.

You can’t help but root for Love. He has been looking forward to his senior year and had new USF head coach Skip Holtz raving about his talent and leadership skills.

Love has come back twice before. He missed five games his senior year at Southeast because of an injury, which caused him to fall of the college radar screen. But on his own, he attended combines and caught the attention of college coaches.

If he is able to play in November, it won’t be easy trying to crack a lineup and beat out players who have seven games under their belt. But Love has proven he is quite the resilient person so let’s root for him.

click here for full story

Monday, April 19, 2010

Landi allows Holtz to breath easier

You can forget about the USF depth chart. Until the new one comes out it doesn’t mean much particularly when it comes to the backup quarterback.

It is unlikely any player won over Skip Holtz’s heart more in USF’s spring football game last Saturday than Evan Landi.

Thanks to the 6-3, 214 pound sophomore, Holtz can feel somewhat at ease if starting quarterback B.J. Daniels get injured and he needs to use a backup.

That scenario had to be Holtz’s worst nightmare heading into spring practice. But Landi showed he should be able to handle the job as well as play receiver, which is the position that figures to get him the most playing time.

In the spring game, Landi completed 11 of 24 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He also caught two passes for 62 yards and rushed eight times for 36 yards.

“He did a great job out there as a quarterback,” Holtz said. “I feel much better going into fall practice knowing that if we need to put Landi in there to be our second quarterback or emergency quarterback he can fill that role extremely well.

“He did a great job balancing the wide receiver and quarterback positions and didn’t’ seem to have any problems doing that. He handled himself extremely well and is a poised young man.”

The first half of the spring Landi played wide receiver because Holtz had promised him an opportunity to win a position there. In the second half, he rotated with the second string quarterbacks.

“He is going to play a role for us and is going to help this football team. He is a great competitor,” Holtz said. “He is able to do so many things because he is so intelligent. He went one series at quarterback and the next at wide receiver and did a great job at both.”

Daniels is the only scholarship quarterback on the roster. The expected backup for the Bulls in the fall is Jamius Gunsby, a high school senior in LaGrange, Georgia, who will join the team this summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Girls basketball has bright future

The future of high school girls basketball in Manatee County couldn’t look any brighter. Just look at Bradenton Herald All-Area girls team that appears in Sunday’s paper.

Four of the seven players selected to the first team are underclassmen and Palmetto High’s Ashlee Smith could be one of the most highly touted college prospects in the state next season.

The 5-10 wing player will enter her senior year with 1,429 career points and has people comparing her to Sheila James, considered the best female basketball player the school has ever produced.

Smith learned her basketball on the playgrounds of New York City before moving to Palmetto in the ninth grade so you know she has been schooled by the best.

It’s been a long time since the Lady Tigers have had a player close to being the caliber of Sheila James, or at least good enough to generate that type of conversation.

James led the Palmetto High girls basketball program to its only state championship her sophomore year in 1996 and finished her high school days with 2,000 plus points before going on to a successful career at the University of Miami.

For those who forgot, in the state championship game James stole a pass and converted it into a layup to tie the game and then hit a free throw to give the Lady Tigers a 53-52 overtime victory over Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons and the Class 4A state title.

Smith has some lofty goals. She would like to win a state championship and needs 571 points to become the second 2,000 career point scorer in the Palmetto High girls basketball program.

Smith could be one of the most highly touted college prospects in the state next season.

The 5-10 wing player will enter her senior year with 1,429 career points and has people comparing her to Sheila James, considered the best female basketball player the school has ever produced.

Smith learned her basketball on the playgrounds of New York City before moving to Palmetto in the ninth grade so you know she has been schooled by the best.

It’s been a long time since the Lady Tigers have had a player close to being the caliber of Sheila James, or at least good enough to generate that type of conversation.

James led the Palmetto High girls basketball program to its only state championship her sophomore year in 1996 and finished her high school days with 2,000 plus points before going on to a successful career at the University of Miami.

For those who forgot, in the state championship game James stole a pass and converted it into a layup to tie the game and then hit a free throw to give the Lady Tigers a 53-52 overtime victory over Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons and the Class 4A state title.

Smith has some lofty goals. She would like to win a state championship and needs 571 points to become the second 2,000 career point scorer in the Palmetto High girls basketball program.

click here for full story

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring game changes for USF

The first USF spring football game under new head coach Skip Holtz will have the “Bulls” facing “South Florida.”

It’s different than the previous games under former head coach Jim Leavitt, which featured the “Green” vs “White” teams.

Names were not the only changes made by Holtz.

The “South Florida” team will have the number one offense and number two defense on the USF depth chart while the “Bulls” will have the number one defense and number two offense. In previous years, Leavitt just divided up the teams and let them go at it.

One thing we do know is that two locals, who figured to be starters, will remain that way at least for Saturday’s game, slated to kickoff at 6 pm at Raymond James Stadium.

Receiver A.J. Love from Southeast High is listed as a starter as is safety Mistral Raymond from Palmetto High.

B.J. Daniels will start at quarterback, but won’t be live, which means he cannot be touched. The “Bulls” QB will be walk on Ryan Eppes. He is holding down the backup spot until 6-3, 195 pound Jamius Gunsby arrives on campus this summer from high school in LaGrange, Georgia.

Fans will probably see a lot more pro style offense with Daniels taking snaps under center, which is a big change from the spread offense used by Leavitt. Holtz has also said he doesn’t want his quarterback to be the team’s leading rusher, which has been the case for the past four years.

Southeast track team has young talent

The Class 2A-District 10 track meet earlier this week at Sarasota Booker showcased some young talent on the Southeast High boys team that could turn into something special.

The most impressive performer was freshman Stanley Oliver, who won the 200 meter run with a time of 23.57 seconds and finished fourth in the 100 meters (11.65 seconds).

Elijah Johnson, another freshman, placed third in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 43.96 seconds and the ‘Noles 400 meter relay team was second (44.64 seconds).

‘Noles sophomore Jeff Sannon was third in the long jump with a leap of 19-feet, 10-inches. The top four individuals or teams in each event move on to the 2A-Region 3 meet scheduled for Wednesday at Naples Golden Gate High with events scheduled to begin at noon.

A couple of veterans stood out for the Southeast girls at the district meet.

Senior Kelsey Vance won the shot put (33-02.75) and was second in the discus with a throw of 102-09. Her teammate, junior Briana Martin, was second in the shot put (30-06).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Haynes makes history

USF basketball has been around for 37 years and during that time Manatee County has produced quite a few standout basketball players.

But as hard as it might be to believe not until today (April 14th) did a Manatee County basketball player receive a scholarship to play for the Bulls.

It ended when Shedrick Haynes signed a letter of intent with USF. The six-foot combo guard played two years of basketball for Palmetto High and one for the former Manatee Community College after sitting out a season due to an injury.

The 22 year-old had to jump through a lot of hoops to make this happen. Read the entire story in Thursday’s Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bayshore boys primed to win tennis district

The Bayshore High boys and girls team fared well in the first day of the Class 2A District 9 Tournament at King Middle School on Monday.
Here is how Manatee County players fared from Bayshore and Southeast High

Class 2A-District 9

Boys Results:

Team scores: Bayshore (B) 10, St. Petersburg Lakewood (L) 10, Osceola (0) 6, Sarasota Booker (BK) 5, Southeast (SE) 2, Englewood Lemon Bay (LB) 2, DeSoto (D) 1.

Manatee County Players:

#1 singles: Tianya Bao (B) (bye); defeated Mike Detisius (Osceola) 6-0, 6-0.
Peyt Dewar (SE) lost to Nicholas Voce (L) 6-2, 6-0.

#2 singles: Pedro Garcia (B) (bye); def Edward Soulaudes (BK) 6-0, 6-1.
Alex Kalathia (SE) defeated Gary Gammas (D) 5-7, 7-6, 6-3; lost to Joey Valdez (O) 6-2, 6-1.

#3 singles: Nikesh Srivastava (B) (bye); def Mario Alvarez (D) 6-0, 6-1.
Stephen Roberts (SE) lost to Alvarez (D) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

#4 singles: Devin Mekher (B) def Dadsen Mott (D) 6-1, 6-0; lost to Cameron Hoylman (L) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
Dan Evans (SE) def Kade Cicchela (LB) 6-1, 7-6 (4-1); lost to Aldo Castro (BK) 6-0, 6-2.

#5 singles: Julio Novo (B) def Quintan Clark (BK) 7-6, 6-2; def Nicholas Russo (LB) 6-2, 6-1

#1 doubles: Bao/Garcia (B) (bye)
Dewar/Evans (SE) lost to Gusto/Soulandes (BK) 6-2, 6-2

#2 doubles: Srivastava/Mekher (B) def Gary Ganland/Alvarez (D) 6-1, 6-0.
Kalathia/Roberts (SE) lost to Ganland/Sladstoum (L) 6-3, 6-1.

Girls Results:

Team Scores: Lemon Bay 11, Bayshore 9, Osceola 6, Lakewood 5, Southeast 3, DeSoto 2, Booker 0.

Manatee County Players:

#1 singles: Olivia Trevorrow (bye); def Gabrielle Edelmann (D) 6-1, 6-2;
Jaclyn Jacobson (SE) def Avina Agrawa (L) 6-0, 6-1; lost to Anita Vorlicek 6-2, 6-1.

#2 singles: Elissa Alvarez (B) def Nichole Powers (O) 6-1, 6-1; def Alexis Dangar (L) 6-0, 6-1.
Tricia Tuazon (SE) def Katy Colding (D) 7-5, 3-6, 6-0; lost to Andrea Vorlicek (LB) 6-0, 6-1.

#3 singles: Isis Contreras (B) def Dygert Daniella (BK) 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1; def Raven Adams (L) 6-4, 7-5).
Sabrina Thomas (SE) lost to Adams (L) 6-3, 6-1.

#4 singles: Nicole Barbera (B) defe Emma Bunenostro (D) 6-3, 6-4; def Kacy Kogelmann (0) 6-0, 6-1.
Wendy Hebenstreit (SE) lost to Kogelman (0).

#5 singles: Jordan Kalathia (SE) def Casandra Stephens (BK) 6-0, 4-6, 6-0; lost to Claudia Kalwinski (LB) 6-1, 6-0. Allison Giovannetti (L) def Florencia Vecchio (B) 6-4, 7-5;

#1 doubles: Trevorrow/Alvarez (B) bye;
Agrawal/Dangar (L) def Jacobson/Hebenstreit (SE) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

#2 doubles: Contreras/Barbera (B) def Rachel/Lipps (BK) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Tuazon/Thomas (SE) lost to Muse/Buenenostro (D) 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marauders 7th in opening day attendance

The Bradenton Marauders ranked seventh among the 12 Florida State League teams in opening day attendance with 2,396 fans.

The biggest surprise was the Fort Myers Miracle, which drew an astonishing 8,157 fans for its opener last Friday against the Marauders.

Charlotte, which led the FSL in total regular season attendance last year (171,314), had the second highest opening day crowd with 6,532 fans.

Following the Tampa Rays farm team in opening day crowds were Daytona (4,945), Brevard (3,532), Port St. Lucie (2,514) and then the Marauders. The bottom five was Lakeland (2,514), Dunedin (1,155), Tampa (1,055), Palm Beach (892) and Jupiter (818).

We are not sure how this projects for the entire regular season, but here are how these teams fared last year.

Clearwater was second with 169,559 total attendance followed by Daytona Beach (147,921), Fort Myers (115,361), St. Lucie (95,598), Tampa (92,671), Jupiter (68,741), Brevard (68,596), Palm Beach (68,562), Lakeland (49,569) and Dunedin (35,683).

Sarasota, which left the league and was replaced by the Marauders, drew 33,788 last year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marauders unbeaten after first weekend

The Bradenton Marauders are one of only two unbeaten teams remaining following the first three days of play in the Florida State League.

After trouncing Fort Myers Miracle 18-3 in their season and inaugural opener, the Marauders showed they know how to win close games with 5-3 and 4-3 victories on the road against the Miracle.

The Marauders are off Sunday and take on Fort Myers again at home Monday night before embarking on a three game road trip to face the Jupiter Hammerheads (2-1), an FSL South Division foe.

After playing before a boisterous crowd of 2,396 at McKechnie Field, the Marauders played in front of 8,157 for the Fort Myers home opener. The second game between the teams (Saturday) drew a crowd of 1,876.

Heading into Sunday’s games, Bradenton leads the FSL with a team .350 batting average and its five homers is also a league high.

The top hitter for Bradenton is outfielder Robbie Grossman, who is batting .500 (6 for 12) and has gone 2 for 4 in each game. Third baseman Jeremy Farrell, who homered twice in the season opener, leads the Marauders with three homers and 12 RBIs and is carrying a hefty .455 batting average.

Bryan Morris, who started the opener and went 4 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run, leads the staff with five strikeouts. Noah Krol has two saves and in two innings has not allowed a run and given up only one hit.

The Charlotte Stone Crabs, another South Division opponent, was also 3-0 heading after the first three days of the season. The Tampa Rays farm team drew 6,325 for their season opener.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Braden River seniors make late season push

Braden River High seniors William Paterson and Joey Meador are making a late season push to take their team on a nice post season ride and help themselves earn a scholarship to college.

Paterson has really shown his growth this season. The second baseman has honed up his defensive skills and is making outstanding plays in the field. But his real improvement has been his hitting.

Paterson leads the Pirates (12-9) with a hefty a .404 batting average and in the last seven games knocked out 12 hits in 27 at-bats. For the season, he has stolen 6 bases in 7 attempts and has an impressive .514 on-base percentage.

After getting off to a slow start, Meador began to come on strong in the Sarasota Baseball Classic where he tore up opposing pitchers. He was 5 for 12 with his bat during the tournament, including two homers and two doubles and 8 runs-batted-in.

Meador leads the Pirates with three triples and two homers and is tied for the team lead with 11 RBIs and three doubles and tied for third with 12 runs scored.

As a team, Braden River is hoping to cut down on its strikeouts. The Pirates have fanned 111 times and have 78 walks in 625 plate appearances.

Cary Panichello has been another consistent hitter for the Pirates, who is impressing college scouts. The senior is second among the regulars with a .325 batting average and .404 on base percentage.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Braden River football coach arrives

New Braden River head football coach Don Purvis made it into town over the Easter Weekend and met with his players for the first time on Monday.

About 60 to 70 players showed up to greet the new coach and he said their enthusiasm and eagerness to get down to work touched him.

Purvis is the Pirates third coach in less than two years following the resignation of Ed Volz, who had the position for less than a year after replacing Josh Hunter. Braden River’s first coach, Hunter resigned following his involvement as a driver in a fatal accident.

“I know it’s hard to trust a new guy, especially after everything they’ve been through, but I wanted them to know I am putting my money where my mouth is and I am here to stay,” Purvis said. “Basically my message to the team was I left a very, very good job and I gave it up to take this job here because I felt this is where I am led to be. I wanted to the kids to know that I am taking the first step.”

Apparently the initial meeting was one of mutual respect. Purvis said he was impressed with the attitude of the players and their commitment.

“You could tell they were eager to get started, which I can understand because they’ve been sailing without a rudder for awhile,” Purvis said. “A player said he was praying for me to be here. I felt like it was answer to a prayer, which meant a lot to me because I am really taking this whole thing on faith.”

Purvis comes from First Assembly Christian School just outside of Memphis where he was head football coach for the past three years. He was an assistant coach at Bayshore for one season in 2003.

One of Purvis’ new staff members will be Bayshore graduate Pat Calvary, who played collegiately at Liberty University. He will coach the Pirates defensive backs.

Coming from Tennessee with Purvis is Clayton Dowdy, who will be his defensive coordinator. The coach said a lot of the current staff already at Braden River will remain.

Purvis will also be the Pirates offensive coordinator. He is not sure what type of offense he will implement, but said he prefers the double wing.

“I would like to establish that as our offense and build on it year in and year out, but it depends on our personnel,” Purvis said. “I think there is a blue collar mentality here. These kids work their tails off and are very physical and very disciplined. I think when you get guys like that it’s easy to line up and get into that style of offense (grind it out on the ground).”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pirates enter season with lowest payroll

In the latest updated figures,the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the 2010 season with the lowest payroll in Major League baseball.

The Pirates payroll according to a report in USA Today is $34.9 million with an average salary of $1.3 million and median salary of $452,000. The publication said the figures are based on documents obtained from the MLB Players Association and club officials and filed with Major League Baseball’s Central Office.

Pitcher Paul Maholm is the Pirates highest paid player. But the $5 million he is slated to earn in 2010 is the lowest salary for the top paid player from each Major League team.

The next team closest to that is the San Diego Padres, whose top paid player, pitcher Chris Young, has a contract worth $6.4 million for this season.

The highest paid team to no one’s surprise is the Yankees, whose payroll is at $206 million with an average of $8.2 million and median of $5.5 million. The Tampa Rays payroll is $71.9 million with a median of $1.8 million and average salary of $2.6 million.

Local product Lastings Milledge is also on the low end of the Major League pay scale with a salary of $452,000. He is part of a Pirates outfield that started opening day with a combined payroll of around $1.3 million with Andrew McCutchen ($422,500) and Garrett Jones ($425,000).

Milledge’s salary in his inaugural major league season in 2007 with Mets was $383,000. He earned $452,000 last year with the Nationals so a big season by the Lakewood Ranch High graduate should move him into the seven figure bracket.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Local hoop fans can make history tonight

The NCAA championship game tonight with Butler facing Duke could be one of the most historic in men's college basketball history.

If Butler is victorious, the Bulldogs will become the smallest school to win the Division I championship since the NCAA went to the expanded field of 64 teams in 1985. It has become the most heralded David vs Goliath title game matchup in college basketball history.

For those who want to be part of this nostalgia making night, but can’t afford the cost of a trip to Indianapolis, there is an alternative and a chance to make some local history of their own.

The Royal Palm 20 is showing the game live in 3-D and people can gain entrance for a $20 ticket, which will give them a chance to mingle with other fans in a pre-game area set aside for them will include food.

It’s the next best thing to being there and local patrons will have an opportunity to say they were part of the first audience in Bradenton to watch a live NCAA basketball championship game in 3-D, theater officials say.

The tip-off is scheduled for around 9:20 pm, but fans can start coming in around 8 pm where they can warm up their vocal chords and showcase their prognostication skills while getting some nourishment.

click here for full story

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Frightening experience for two local athletes

Football is the sport often considered the most dangerous and the one some parents do not let their sons play in high school.

But baseball, thought of as a non-contact sport, can be just as perilous if not more. Two local high school players, who recently underwent major surgery after getting hit in the face by a baseball, can attest to that.

Lakewood Ranch High outfielder Reggie Lindsey took a pitch to the head as a batter earlier in the season and Braden River pitcher Jarrod Leinhauser couldn’t avoid a line shot to the mound that came off an opponent’s bat at speeds estimated to be around 130 miles per hour.

Lindsey is back playing again and it appears Leinhauser will be ready to resume playing in about 6 to 8 weeks. Both their stories are compelling and somewhat frightening. Read about it in Sunday’s Bradenton’s Herald.

Holtz wants Daniels to run less

Skip Holtz has made one thing clear since the first day of spring football practice: Less of B.J. Daniels means more of B.J. Daniels.

In laymen’s terms, the new USF head football coach doesn’t want to see his quarterback lead the team in rushing.

It’s been that way the last four years under the Jim Leavitt regime; first with Matt Grothe under center and then Daniels.

The old staff used the heck or high water approach with the quarterback giving the impression whoever was in there was indestructible. That philosophy proved fatal last season when Grothe went down with a torn ACL and Daniels inherited the job as a redshirt freshman.

Click here for the rest of this story

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ranch baseball team growing up

Oh those inconsistencies of youth; it’s enough to drive a coach crazy.

No one knows that better than Lakewood Ranch head baseball coach Mike Mullen. With eight sophomores and a freshman among his top players, the Mustangs head man feels like he has been on a roller coaster ride this season.

After their historic 25-24 win in the Sarasota Baseball Classic on Wednesday, the Mustangs came back down to earth Friday losing 8-4 to finish the tournament at 2-2.

Though they couldn’t sustain the moment of that win, the Mustangs showed some grit and Mullen saw some good things in his team, which is important with two big district games coming up next week.

“I’ve learned we have a long way to go, but found our team is a lot more resilient than I thought,” Mullen said. “We are so young and are dealing with a lot of kids who are prematurely playing varsity baseball. In a lot of ways, they are physically and mentally not yet ready. They showed their youth in this tournament, but we improved and are getting better.”

Mullen was most pleased that his team cut down on its strikeouts. The Mustangs fanned 15 times in their four tournament games, which was a huge improvement.

Some of the kids are starting to show signs of improvement and becoming more consistent with the bat. The Mustangs also found a bonafide ace in lefty Dylan Horn, who showed he could pitch effectively against some of the best teams in the state.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ohlman settling in with Orioles

About 20 yards separated Mike Ohlman and his former teammates at Lakewood Ranch, but in reality it could’ve been light years.
Ohlman played for the Mustangs last year when he was considered the school’s best major league prospect since Lastings Milledge, now with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder is less than a year removed from aluminum bats and playing just for fun. But he has matured, and his advice is don’t follow his path unless you are willing to make sacrifices.

Click here to read the entire column.