Monday, February 28, 2011

Ramirez early fan favorite for Rays

Manny Ramirez showed Monday against Pittsburgh one of many reasons why he has become a fan favorite for the Tampa Rays this season.

Besides smashing two line drive base hits in two at-bats and driving in a run, the new Tampa Ray also scored from third base on a wild pitch. Ramirez handled two balls in the outfield without any problems though he admitted he was nervous.

Ramirez now has 3 hits in 4 at-bats for the Rays. However it was his hustle on the wild pitch that earned him a lot of adoration from the fans in the Rays game with Pittsburgh.

“I just go and play. The game says play ball so I just go and play. I am just happy I was safe,” Ramirez said. “I was kind of nervous out there in left field, but I feel great and I am excited. Anyway I can help the team is good for me. This is a long season and when it’s over I am going to see where my game was.”

Neimann retires three straight in only inning on mound

Tampa Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann made his spring debut Monday against the Pirates in Port Charlotte and looked impressive though he threw only one inning and faced three batters. The the big right-hander got them all out.

Niemann threw 12 pitches, eight of them for strikes. He got Gorkys Hernandez on a ground out to second, Ronny Cedeno on a first pitch fly to right and struck out Neil Walker looking on a 3-2 pitch.

Kyle Farnsworth came into pitch the second and also retired the Pirates side in order getting Matt Diaz on an infield pop up, striking out Josh Fields and getting Garrett Atkins on a fly to right.

Lot of new faces on display for Rays

A lot of new faces will be on display for the Rays this spring with half of their 40 man roster made of players who were not on the roster when last season ended.

Of the 62 players in camp, 25 (40%) joined the organization during the off season and 33 (53 percent) are in their first major league camp with the Rays. Only six of the 62 players have more than two years of service time with the Rays and no one has more than five years.

Three new faces scheduled to see action today in Port Charlotte against a Pittsburgh Pirates split squad are Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos.

Farnsworth and Peralta figure to be fighting for the closer’s job left vacant after Rafael Soriano left for the Yankees. The 34 year-old right-handed Peralta held opposing hitters to a .170 batting average after joining the Washington Nationals last year at the end of June. He is considered a sleeper who might have come into his own last year after focusing on his curve and split while discarding his slider.

Tampa's Niemann makes first spring appearance on his birthday today

Jeff Niemann will try get back on track for the Tampa Rays when he makes his first start of the spring against Pittsburgh.

The big 6-9 lefty will be trying to regain the form that made him one of the American League's best pitchers through the first half of last season when he was 10-3 with a 3.12 ERA before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Niemann could never get his form back when he returned from the DL going 2-5 with a 9.82 ERA in eight games (7 starts.

Niemann has a little extra incentive to do well in his first appearance on the spring. The native of Houston, Texas, turns 28 today and would like nothing better than to celebrate his birthday with a good outing.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Southeast's Hanna shines in JUCO ball

Former Southeast High standout and 2009-10 Bradenton Herald Player of The Year Bianca Hanna is having a solid season at Paris Junior College in Texas.

Hanna had one of her biggest games of the year last Saturday when she scored a team high 14 points to lead Paris JC to 46-41 upset over Kilgore Junior College. The guard converted six of seven attempts from the free throw line.

Paris JC head coach Sean LeBeauf lauded Hanna for efforts.

“Destiny (Smith) is our heart and soul, but honestly, whenever Bianca plays well, we always have a chance to win. She gets a lot of free throws because she attacks the basket,” the coach told the media after the game.

Hanna is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.4 points per game. The top four are bunched closely together with the leader, sophomore Dominque Mosley, scoring at a 10.8 ppg clip followed by sophomore Smith (10.4 ppg) and freshman. Danisha Shaw (9.8 ppg).

Known for her defensive skills in high school, Hanna is second on her Paris team with 48 steals and 13 blocked shots and is third in rebounding (4.5 rpg) for the Dragons.

Paris (17-12, 9-8 conference) finishes its regular season on Tuesday and will then get ready for the post season Region XIV Tournament, which begins Friday.

BC's Magley says he won't be retiring

Dave Magley says we should all put to rest the rumors that he is going to step down as the Bradenton Christian boys head basketball coach after 11 years.

There was speculation the 51-year-old Magley would end his successful rein after this season because his son Daniel Magley, was graduating. But the elder statesman says no.

“I have no intention (to retire),” Magley said after his Panthers season ended Saturday night in a 68-44 Class A Region 2 championship game loss to Orlando Christian Prep.

“I’ve had refs from the Florida Gulf Coast Association asking if I am going to say goodbye and it’s a natural thought with my son leaving and all that. But I didn’t sign up for 11 years and I love the relevancy of being a coach.

“I am 51 years old and I understand the lingo of today’s kid and I want to be 61 and still get it and I want to be 81. If my dad had any regrets he was sitting around at 82 waiting to die and I don’t want to do that. I want to be relevant. That is the great thing about coaching is that you get to be relevant and at BC you get to ministry and I feel called to do that.”

Southeast gave state champ Tampa Catholic its toughest game

Tampa Catholic winning its second straight Class 3A state championship this season could provide a nice boost of confidence for the Southeast High girls’ team.

Southeast gave the Crusaders their toughest battle in the five games Tampa Catholic had to win to capture the state title losing 61-55 in the region championship game that went down to the final minute.

Southeast led 55-53 with 3:15 left in its game with Tampa Catholic and trailed 59-55 with 1:02 remaining when it missed a 3-point field goal attempt and then four straight shots inside the paint with 20 seconds remaining. The Crusaders put their final two points on the board via free throws with one second left.

Tampa Catholic won its four other post season games by at least 10 points, capturing its State Final Four semifinal over Port Orange Atlantic 68-58 and the state championship game 48-37 over North Broward Prep.

With a lineup that had three freshmen among its top six players, including two who started, the Seminoles have a bright future ahead if they work hard during the off season.

Next year the Southeast girls’ basketball team will compete in Class 5A as the state goes to eight classifications. Tampa Catholic will move to Class 4A.

The Seminoles won’t have Tampa Catholic to compete with, but their district next season will include St. Petersburg Lakewood, which won the Class 4A state title this year.

USF opens 2011 season at Notre Dame in nationally televised contest

USF will kickoff its 2011 football season at Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept 3d in a 3:30 pm. start that will be aired nationally by NBC in what is arguably the biggest opener in the history of the program.

The Notre Dame game is part of the Bulls tough non Big East Conference schedule that also includes Miami.

The Bulls play their Big East opener at Pittsburgh in a Thursday night nationally televised game on ESPN (8 pm kickoff). It follows three non conference home games against when they play host Ball State (Sept. 10), Florida A&M (Sept. 17) and UTEP (Sept. 24).

Following an open date, USF will travel to Connecticut on Sat., Oct. 15, followed by a home date with Cincinnati on Sat., Oct. 22. After another open date, the Bulls will play two consecutive road games, at Rutgers on Sat., Nov. 5 and at Syracuse on Fri., Nov. 11. The Syracuse game is scheduled to kickoff at 8 p.m. (EST) and will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

USF will host three consecutive home games to finish up the regular season, starting with the Miami (Fla.) game on Sat., Nov. 19. It will then welcome Louisville on Fri., Nov. 25 before the regular-season finale versus West Virginia on Thursday, Dec. 1. The West Virginia game will kickoff at 8 p.m. (EST) and will be televised nationally by ESPN.

USF finished the 2010 season by going 8-5 and winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl over Clemson, 31-26. The Bulls extended their streak of eight-win seasons to five, making them one of just 15 teams nationally to win eight games in each of the last five years.

In addition, USF played in its sixth consecutive bowl game, having won each of the last three. USF is one of just six programs nationally that has reached postseason play in each year as a BCS league member and is one of just four programs that has won three consecutive bowl games.

Complete 2011 Schedule

Sat., Sept. 3 at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., NBC)
Sat., Sept. 10 Ball State
Sat., Sept. 17 Florida A&M
Sat., Sept. 24 UTEP
Thu., Sept. 29 at Pittsburgh* (8 p.m., ESPN)
Sat., Oct. 15 at Connecticut*
Sat., Oct. 22 Cincinnati*
Sat., Nov. 5 at Rutgers*
Fri., Nov. 11 at Syracuse* (8 p.m., ESPN2)
Sat., Nov. 19 Miami (Fla.)
Fri., Nov. 25 Louisville* (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
Thu., Dec. 1 West Virginia* (8 p.m., ESPN)

* - BIG EAST Conference games

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bradenton Christian faces big challenge in Orlando Christian Prep

The Bradenton Christian boys basketball team will have its work cut out Saturday night in the Class A-Region 3 championship game.

BCS will face a familiar foe in three-time defending state champ Orlando Christian Prep, which defeated the Panthers 83-59 in last year’s region final in Orlando.

This year’s game is at the Panthers gym. Home court advantage is nice, but BCS will still be facing a formidable opponent. OCP is the top ranked team in Class A and ranked fifth overall (all classifications) by

In the Orlando Sentinel/Florida Association of Basketball Coaches rankings OCP is ranked fourth for all classifications and the Panthers (19-12) are sixth in Class A.

OCP (23-5) is led by 6-4 swingman Adonis Burbage, who was recently selected to the Florida team for the March 25th Florida vs Hardwood Classic all star game at the Amway Center in Orlando. The Warriors also have Division I prospects in 6-1 speedy point guard Terral Merritt and 6-4 junior guard Issac Cohen, a lefty who can stroke the three.

OCP is coached by former USF standout guard Reggie Kohn (see photo above), who finished his career there in 2003 and is still the program’s all-time leader in assists and 3-point field goals.

USF suspends Grant from women's basketball team

University of South Florida head women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez has suspended fifth year senior forward Porche Grant for two games for not representing the University and program in a positive manner, and not adhering to the BIG EAST Conference sportsmanship policy.

Grant will miss the Bulls’ final two games of the regular season at Villanova on Saturday (Noon) and the regular season finale - and Senior Night game - against No. 18/18 Georgetown on Monday night (7 p.m.) at the Sun Dome.

“I want to apologize to my coaches, my teammates, the University of South Florida and the BIG EAST Conference for my actions leaving the floor against Rutgers on Wednesday night,” said Grant. “Although the game was extremely hard played between both USF and Rutgers, and my frustration in having just fouled, this is no excuse for how I handled myself. This is not who I am as a person and I have to accept responsibilities for my actions.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hurdle won't jeopardize things, but wants to win spring games

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he is not going to jeopardize anyone's health or push someone past his pitch limit to win a spring game, but at the same time he doesn't want to lose every game.

"There is a touch and feel to it. We just want to make sure the guys we have on the field are doing the things we've asked them to do," Hurdle said Wednesday after practice. "Pitchers following the mitt, retiring hitters on three or four pitches or less and when they do get runners on base maintenance of the inning."

Hurdle said statistics can come and go and be meaningful, but feels there is more to it than grabbing a number and holding on to it.

"The results are what you are looking for, but there is that fine line and you need to read into it a little," Hurdle said. "Hits are good, but it's not going to be the tell tale sign that is the only factor used in our decision making process."

Morton to start spring opener for Pirates

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said right-hander Charlie Morton, who is fighting for the fifth spot in the Pirates rotation, would will be the starting pitcher in the team's Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Tampa Rays in Port Charlotte.

Morton figured to be battling newcomer Scott Olsen, but the lefty is sidelined with a left hamstring strain and it's not certain when he will pitch. Hurdle said Olsen threw on Wednesday and is making progress.

Brad Lincoln, another righty also in the mix for that fifth starting spot, will follow Morton. Both are slated to throw two innings.

Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos and Daniel McCutchen are scheduled to follow with Justin Thomas and Cesar Valdez available if needed,

Kevin Correia, the former San Diego Padres pitcher, will be the starter in the Pirates' spring home opener Sunday at McKechnie Field.

USF spring football practice begins March 3d

USF's highly anticipated spring football practice will begin Thursday, March 3d.
It will be comprised of 15 practices ending with the annual Spring Game and the Green & Gold Bowl.

The Spring Game will be on Saturday, April 2nd at Raymond James Stadium at 2 p.m. The Green & Gold Bowl (for players who didn't see a lot of time in the spring game) will be played on Saturday, April 9. They both will be open to the public while the rest practices will be closed.

The Green & Gold Bowl, a scrimmage in the USF Track & Field Stadium on campus, will kickoff at 5 pm and is part of USF Day.

USF will have five workouts prior to Spring Break, two in shorts and three in pads. The Bulls will return on Monday, March 21 and hold a series of workouts that will include a scrimmage, the Spring Game and the Green & Gold Bowl, which will close out spring practice.

In addition, USF will host its Pro Day on Thursday, March 24.

More details on both the Spring Game and the Green & Gold Bowl will be posted on when they become available.

Spring Schedule (Practice Dates are Subject to Change)

Thurs., March 3: Practice
Fri., March 4: Practice
Sat., March 5: Practice
Mon., March 7: Practice
Wed., March 9: Practice
Mon., March 21: Practice
Wed., March 23: Practice
Thurs., March 24: Pro Day
Fri., March 25: Practice
Sat., March 26: Scrimmage
Mon., March 28: Practice
Wed., March 30: Practice
Fri., April 1: Practice
Sat., April 2: Spring Game
Wed., April 6: Practice
Sat., April 9: Green & Gold Bowl

USF turns in top women's pole vault mark

TAMPA --- University of South Florida track and field athlete Denise von Enyatten had the top women's pole vault mark of the weekend, according to a United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) release on Monday.

Von Enyatten, a German graduate student at USF, took home first place while setting a new personal-best leap of 14-1.75 at the 2011 BIG EAST Indoor Championships this past weekend. With the mark, she set a new BIG EAST meet record replacing the previous record of 13-9.25, set back in 2009 by Notre Dame's Mary Saxer.

The new height also automatically qualified her for the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, TX on March 11-13. She currently sits at sixth place on the NCAA indoor performance list, according to

Von Enyatten is ranked first on USF's indoor and outdoor all-time lists in the pole vault after competing for the Bulls during the 2008 season. Her previous indoor best came at the Jayhawk Invitational (Jan. 28) when she earned a then-school record 14-0 mark. Her best outdoor mark as a Bull came in 2008 when she vaulted a 13-5.25.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Southeast rally falls short, but season a success

The season ended in a disappointing 61-55 loss to Tampa Catholic Saturday night, but the Southeast High girls’ basketball team was one of the feel good stories in the state this year.

With three freshmen among its top six players and only one experienced veteran to begin the season in Mariah Dowdell, the Seminoles exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations winning another district championship and advancing to the region title game.

It might have been one of John Harder’s best coaching jobs in an illustrious 27 year career that has seen him win two state titles, go to four Final Fours, win 18 district titles and advance to the Elite Eight round 10 times.

The Noles had no double figure scorers for the season and used a stifling man to man defense to compile a 25-5 record.

On paper, they were over-matched against top ranked Class 3A Tampa Catholic, the defending Class 3A State champions, who had been to two straight Final Fours.
Southeast put on an incredible rally in the third quarter wiping out a 16 point halftime deficit and taking the lead in the fourth quarter until they just ran out of gas.

The good news is that they have three freshmen returning, who saw extensive playing time. If the girls are willing to work hard on their game during the off season this program could go back to the days when it was an annual Final Four contender with Depree Bowden and Brianna Phillips

The sky appears to be the limit for Keshawna Robinson, Bevin Mays and Deangela Mathis along with the other freshmen who return next season. It all depends on how much time they want to devote to the game.

Kudos to Southeast’s three departing senior starters in Dowdell, Lacey Houston and Tymea Dunbar, who helped make this season so successful.

Lakewood Ranch's Danielle Valley gets big invite

Lakewood Ranch High swimmer Danielle Valley (on right of this photo with Rebekah Baker)has been invited to the 2011 USA Swimming National Open Water Select Camp.

The camp will be held June 7-11 in Fort Myers, FL and will bring together the top 12 male and top 12 female swimmers selected off their 2010 USA SWIMS times in the 1500 meter freestyle.

Athletes will have the opportunity to qualify for the 2011 FINA World Championship (Shanghai, China), 2011 World University Games (Shenzhen, China), and 2011 Pan American Games (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Southeast girls have tough task in region title game

The Southeast High girls basketball team will have its hands full Saturday night in its region championship game when it takes on defending Class 3A state champion Tampa Catholic.

But teams come into the game at Southeast with identical 25-4 records, but that's where the similarity ends.

The teams have played four common opponents, which Tampa Catholic winning all of those games while Southeast lost three.

Southeast lost to Sarasota (37-34), Seminole (52-50) and Jupiter (47-27). Tampa Catholic beat Sarasota (47-38), Seminole (45-41) and Jupiter (48-38).

The Seminoles will continue to rely on point guard Mariah Dowdell, who has been their offensive general throughout the season. They received good play out of her backourt mate, Lacey Houston in their triple overtime region semifinal victory over Bishop Verot last Tuesday.

Southeast doesn't have any player averaging double figures with Dowdell the top scorer at 9.4 points per game.

Tampa Catholic has four players averaging double figures led by 5-8 guard Meghan Keough (21 ppg). The other guards are 5-9 Micah Kroll (13.6 ppg) and 5-5 Brittany Betts (10.9 ppg). Kai Jones, a 5-10 forward, is averaging 11.1 ppg and leads in rebounds (9.8 rpg).

Hurdle wants to see improvement out of Bucs shortstop Cedeno

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said his club needs shortstop Ronny Cedeno to play with consistency and make good decision in the infield and take more of a leadership role in the infield.

"Offensively, we need him to have better quality at-bats and work with him on keeping the ball out of the air and become a consistent major league player," Hurdle said. "The separation at this level is consistency day in and day out. He has got work in front of him. We stressed the importance of taking one play at a time and not let one miscue stay on your mind or in your back pocket."

Hurdle said he doesn't want to see first pitch hacking from any of his players and that he would like to see a method to their at-bats. He feels the club can help Cedeno with plate discipline and pitch selection.

"Coming in everyone has a clean slate. Everyone will know what their areas of improvement are and what they need to do," Hurdle said. "We want players to drive the ball and focus on back spin and to be aggressive within the strike zone.

Pirates Olsen out with injury

Pittsburgh Pirates newly acquired lefthander Scott Olsen suffered a mild strain in his left hamstring and will be out for at least a week.

Olsen, who is expected to battle for the fifth starter job, incurred the injury during fielding practice on Thursday.

"We are going to take it a day at a time and a week lost is a week lost," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There is no more concern other than there is going to be a time where he is not going to be involved.

Good year for East Manatee boys basketball

Despite getting ousted in the first round of the region playoffs, it was a good year for East Manatee boys basketball.

Both Braden River and Lakewood Ranch set single season records for victories with 19 and 20 respectively and the Pirates (BRiver) won the program's first district championship.

Braden River has its entire starting lineup returning and most of its roster. The only key loss is senior Reggie Baity. Lakewood Ranch loses its starting backcourt in Jordan Baker and Tim Greenamoyer, but has one of the area's top big men returning in 6-7 junior Brian Cobb.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Southeast Smalls top rated player

Southeast guard E. Reginald Smalls (Reggie Smalls) is the highest rated public school player in Manatee County, according to Florida

The basketball website has Smalls ranked 83d among the best 100 basketball players in the state. The highest from the Manatee-Sarasota County area is North Port High forward Kasey, who is ranked 16th and has signed with UCF.

The 6-1, 185 pound Smalls leads Southeast (20-4) in scoring (18.4 ppg) and assists (3.8 apg) and is third in rebounding (3.6 rpg). The only other Seminole in double figures is sophomore Antonio Ray (12.4 pg)

The number one rated player in the state is Winter Park guard Austin Rivers (son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers), who has signed with Duke.

USF-Miami football game moved up a week

TAMPA – In order to accommodate a request from The BIG EAST Conference, the University of South Florida’s 2011 home football game with Miami has been moved from Saturday, Nov. 26 to Saturday, Nov. 19, the athletic department announced on Monday.

USF scored its first win over Miami in program history last season, when the Bulls defeated the Hurricanes, 23-20, in overtime. Miami won the first two meetings with USF, 31-10 in 2009 and 27-7 in 2005. The Bulls and Hurricanes are also scheduled to meet in 2012 and 2013.

A USF spokesman could not give a reason for the change other than it was was requested by the Big East Conference. The last two USF-Miami games were played on Thanksgiving weekends and have had to take a back seat for sorts to the Florida-FSU game and did not draw as well as expected.

The Big East Conference also likes to line up what they hope will be intriguing match-ups in the last weekends of the season. This now frees up USF to play a conference foe on the final two weekends of its regular season.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Palmetto's Chris Smith hopes to land with NFL team

Chris Smith has come a long way since his high school days at Palmetto, earning a scholarship to Northern Illinois after going the junior college route.

Now the 5-10, 186 pound defensive back hopes to take another leap and make to the NFL.
Smith is trying to become another Manatee County standout who made his way into the NFL as a cornerback joining Mike Jenkins (Southeast), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Lakewood Ranch) and Fabian Washington (Bayshore).

NFL Draft Scout says if Smith makes it into an NFL camp he will likely go as a free agent. The organization rates him 51st out of more than 200 cornerbacks eligible for this year’s draft; if there is one pending the outcome of negotiations between the players association and owners.

Smith was selected to the 2010 All Mid-American Conference First Team Defense and was named NIU’s Defensive Back of the Year. He had a team high nine pass break-ups, which was third in the league and picked off three passes.

Smith played at Highland Community College where he was ranked the 49th best JUCO prospect in the country. One scouting report lists him as a strong tackler who has the talent to make an NFL team. NFL Draft Scout puts his 40-yard dash time around the 4.53 second mark.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everybody has an opinion on Mike Blakely

Mike Blakely, the Manatee High running back who garnered the most attention around these parts last season when he signed with Florida, is getting a lot of mixed reviews and he hasn’t even hit the practice field.

Everybody seems to have an opinion on Blakely, who recently underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to miss spring practice.

Some people hail Blakely as a sort of savior referring to him as the type of every down back Urban Meyer was missing last year when the Gators had what most of their fans would call a disappointing season.

One so called expert labeled Blakely as the Gators most overrated signed in the class of 2010, but says a lot of that has to with assorted injuries he had to deal with last season. However, some say its proof Blakely is not sturdy enough be the so called “featured back.”

One thing for certain is that jury is out on Blakely and he certainly has a lot of upside, particularly if he can stay injury free.

USF cuts some football ticket prices

Season tickets for the 2011 USF home football schedule will start at $65, which is a $10 decrease from last season.

The Bulls will have a seven-game home schedule in 2011, including Big East dates against West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville. Last season, the Bulls won at Cincinnati and Louisville for the first time in program history.

It will be the last year that the Bulls will only have three Big East Conference home games with TCU scheduled to join the league for the 2012 season.

The non-conference schedule in 2011 is highlighted by a Nov. 26 match-up with in-state rival Miami and its new coach Al Golden. The Bulls beat the Hurricanes for the first time in program history last year, winning 23-30 in overtime at Miami. The rest of the non-conference slate includes Florida A&M (Sept. 10), UTEP (Sept. 17) and Ball State (Sept. 24).

All games are at Raymond James Stadium and kickoff times for each game will be announced throughout the season.

The Bulls ended last season defeating Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. on New Year's Eve. USF has appeared in a bowl game for six consecutive seasons, making it one of only six programs nationally that has played in a bowl game in each year as a BCS league member. Also, the Bulls are one of only four teams nationally that has won a bowl game in each of the last three seasons.

Love College Hoops Fest at USF Saturday

TAMPA - Foam fingers and headbands will be front and center at the Sun Dome during USF’s Saturday’s noon tip off game against Notre Dame as the Bulls celebrate Love College Hoops Week, a fan driven initiative created to celebrate fan affinity towards college basketball and support the fight against cancer.

Love College Hoops Week is organized by the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) to benefit the Coaches vs. Cancer® program.

Love College Hoops Week celebrations will take place at more than 50 of the largest college and university campuses across the country with student sections displaying school-specific I Love College Hoops themed headbands and foam fingers to show their team spirit and to raise awareness of the initiative.

Products will be distributed to the fans prior to tip-off. A portion of the proceeds generated from the sale of officially licensed Love College Hoops branded products will go back to the American Cancer Society ® (ACS) in connection with the Coaches vs. Cancer® program.

In addition to merchandise sales, fund raising and awareness efforts will be available through a text-to-donate component running on the I Love College Hoops Facebook page and through promotional signage on display at various national and local retail outlets. Supporters may donate $5 to the American Cancer Society by texting "COACH" to 20222 - standard messaging rates apply

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Palmetto's Raymond gets All-Star MVP award

Mistral Raymond was selected MVP of his Mountain All-Star team in the inaugural Dixie Gridiron Classic last weekend in St. George, Utah.

The former USF/Palmetto High standout was credited with seven tackles, one interception and two forced fumbles in leading his team to a 17-13 victory over the Pacific All-Stars.
Raymond played cornerback and safety and was the gunner on the punt teams. Two of the turnovers forced by Raymond led to scores and his interception late in the game sealed the victory.

While serving on the punt team, Raymond popped the ball loose from a returner and the Mountain team recovered it and eventually scored a touchdown.

In the fourth quarter he intercepted a pass that on his own two yard line and returned it about 35 yards to end a potential game winning drive.

After the game Raymond flew back to Atlanta where he is training under the auspices of his agent, Melvin Bratton, former University of Miami star.

Raymond will be in Tampa March 22nd to participate in USF’s pro day where he will get a chance to impress NFL scouts in person.

Daniel Magley brings assist record back to family

When Daniel Magley broke the Bradenton Christian he brought it back into the family.

With his 462nd assist last week he broke the record held by Jordan Negrin, who had broken the record set by Daniel’s older brother J. Magley.

D.J. Magley now a junior at Tulsa, now being touted as one of the best passing big men the country, broke a 25 year-old school record when he set his standard.

Daniel also holds the BCS boys basketball record for most games played and is the program’s second leading career scorer behind D.J. Magley. Daniel leads BCS in scoring this season averaging 19.3 points per game.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

USF's recruiting class ranks lowest in four years

The first USF signing class fully recruited by Skip Holtz fell short of previous rankings.

The 2011 class Holtz signed is ranked sixth by among the eight Big East Conference teams, which is the Bulls lowest rated class since 2007 when it was also sixth.

USF signed only one 4-star Rivals.Com rated player in Miami Booker Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson (6-2, 275). By comparison, Louisville under seocnd year head coach Charlie Strong and Rutgers signed four 4-star recruits.

It was the first recruiting class that was solely recruited by Holtz, who took over the program last winter from Jim Leavitt. That 2010 class had two 4-star recruits in defensive back/returner Terrence Mitchell and defensive lineman Todd Chandler.

USF's top recruiting class came in 2009 when it was recond second in the Big East Conference and signed Jason Pierre-Paul, Jacquian Williams,Ryne Giddens and Bradley Battles.

In the last six years, USF's recuiting classes have been ranked fifth twice and sixth three times.

Taggart gets Sun Belt Conference's best recruiting class again

Willie Taggart with the help of his hometown buddy Ray Woodie pulled off a second straight recruiting coup this week for Western Kentucky University.

For the second consecutive year Taggart's WKU squad signed the top rated recruting class in the Sun Belt Conference.

Best part for Taggart, who took over the Hilltoppers program prior to the 2010 season, is that class comes without calculating Jon Dowling.

Dowling was a five-star recruit when he came out of Southeast High in 2010 and was rated the 10th best player in the country by ESPN.

WKU signed a Sun Belt Conference high eleven 3-star recruits edging defending league champion FIU, which had 10.

Southeast's two 3-star contributors were receiver Boe Brand and linebacker Terran Williams. Another Southeast signee, quarterback Dyron Speight, is a two star recruit.

Ironically one of FIU's 3-star recruits was former Southeast defensive lineman Giovani Franois, who played at Wise High School in Maryland last season. The Miami school also signed Manatee High offensive lineman Prince Matt.