Wednesday, February 29, 2012

USF win at Louisville should end bubble talk and put Bulls in the dance

Can we now stop this bubble talk!

The University of South Florida’s 58-51 victory over Louisville at the Cardinals home floor on senior night Wednesday night should be enough to get the Bulls their first invitation to the NCAA Tournament since 1992.

The Cardinals (22-8, 10-7 Big East) were ranked 18th and are number 20 in the all important RPI rankings that the selection committee often uses to round out the last couple of teams for the tournament.

USF (19-11, 12-5) was 1-7 vs RPI top 50 teams coming into the game and the biggest criticism was the Bulls didn’t really have a solid “high” quality win.

“We won on the road. I don’t know (if we got in) we just got to keep winning. This is unbelievable I am so proud there are so many heroes in the locker-room,” USF head coach Stan Heath said after the game.

Jawanza Poland led the Bulls with 16 points and hit a big trey down the stretch that helped secure the win. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was the only other USF player in double figures with 11 points.

Again the Bulls defense was spectacularly down and dirty especially beyond the arc holding Louisville’s long range bombers to 23.8 percent (5-21).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Former Southeast star Hanna standout in college

Bianca Hanna is finishing up her junior college basketball career in good fashion with three games remaining on her regular season schedule.

The former Southeast High star and Bradenton Herald Player of The Year is second on her Paris Junior College (Texas) squad in scoring averaging 9 points per game for a team that doesn’t have anyone averaging double figures.

The guard/forward is the third ranked free throw shooter in NJCAA Region XIV connecting on 77.9 percent of her foul shots for Paris, which begins post season play on March 8th in its region tournament at Tyler Junior College.

Paris (23-5) is third in the 10 team Region XIV standings with a 23-5 overall record and 12-4 in conference play. Undefeated Trinity Valley (27-0, 16-0) is first.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Close loss to Syracuse could help Bulls for post season

USF didn’t beat number two ranked Syracuse, but the Bulls may have improved their chances of getting an invite to the NCAA post season tournament by playing the Orange tough in 56-48 loss on the road Wednesday night.

USF (17-11, 10-5 Big East) got off to good start jumping out to a 20-7 lead with a strong defensive effort that forced the Orange to miss 12 of their first 14 shots. The Bulls then fell into a funk and Syracuse ran off 26 unanswered points stretching from the last 8:53 of the first half into the second half.

The Bulls missed 14 straight shots until the scoring drought finally ending on a layup by Hugh Robertson 2:23 into the second half. USF trailed by 14, but put together its own comeback and closed to within one point with 6:25 left in the game, but couldn’t get the lead back.

This game marked only the second time this season Syracuse (28-1, 15-1) trailed by double digits, the other game coming in its only defeat, a 67-58 loss at Notre Dame.

The Bulls were led by freshman point guard Anthony Collins, who had 12 points and dished out 10 assists. The only other USF player in double figures was Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who had 11 points. Augustus Gilchrist led the Bulls on the boards with eight rebounds.

USF gets chance to make statement tonight at Syracuse

Sitting on the bubble, the USF men’s basketball team gets a chance tonight to make its best case to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament when it travels to Syracuse.

Everyone keeps talking about the RPI rankings, which the NCAA selection committee often uses to get its last teams into the field.

USF is ranked a not too good 56th in the latest RPI standings, but the Bulls can jump a whole of teams with a victory against Syracuse (26-1, 13-1 Big East), which is the RPI’s top ranked team and #2 team in the USA Today Coaches and AP Polls.

Expecting a USF victory tonight at the Carrier Dome is granted wishful thinking. But if the Bulls can make the game competitive it would help their chances. On the flip side, a blow out loss would give their critics more ammunition.

USF (17-10, 10-4) doesn’t have what you would call a glimmering record, but part of that is due to injuries. When healthy the Bulls are 11-5 overall.

They struggled in the early part of the season because Jawanza Poland missed 11 games, freshman point guard Anthony Collins, who leads Big East freshmen in assists, missed five games and leading scorer Augustus Gilchrist missed three.

Here is a good note that could help: USF along with #1 Kentucky, #2 Syracuse and #7 North Carolina is one of just four teams that have not lost to an unranked team since December 28th. The Bulls most impressive victory is over Seton Hall, currently 36th in the RPI rankings.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are we hearing Double Talk out of One Buc Place

Are we hearing some double talk from Mark Dominik?

When announcing that Butch Davis would join the Tampa Bay Bucs as a senior special adviser instead of defensive coordinator general manager Dominik said it had nothing to do with a $2.7 million buyout the University of North Carolina owed Davis after it fired him last summer.

If Davis coaches he would reportedly lose that money. Of course, the Bucs could pay his buyout off or negotiate a deal with North Carolina, but he said he doesn’t want to coach.

So why is Davis assuming a role that would not allow him to talk with players and be on the field.

"The main reason Butch Davis wanted to come here was to work with his good friend, Greg Schiano and to help him because he understands the pressures and how hard it is as a first-year NFL head coach,” Dominik told the media this week.

That is fine and dandy as it stands, but it goes against what Dominik said when he hired Schiano who was the Rutgers head coach the past 11 years.

At the press conference to announce Schiano’s hiring last month Dominik said he wasn’t concerned that Schiano had coached college for the last 11 years.

“He (Schiano) was putting up NFL caliber players (at Rutgers). He was certainly playing against good competition, but the main thing for me was I felt very comfortable (we felt ownership included) felt very comfortable that that was something that was not going to be a concern,” Domink said.

Remember when Dominik said last year it wasn’t a good idea to get involved much in free agency because it can disrupt the harmony of a team.

At his introductory press conference with the Bucs on Thursday Davis said his advisory role had nothing to do with his situation at UNC. He reiterated that he wanted to help his friend Schiano and there were many ways he could do that without being the defensive coordinator.

The reported that because he's joining the Buccaneers as a consultant, Davis still is eligible to receive what UNC agreed to pay him as part of his buyout, according to his lawyer and that UNC has paid Davis $1,203,917 as part of his buyout and that the school owes Davis an additional $1.77 million.

If he accepts a coaching position between now and Jan 15, 2013, his buyout would be affected and he would receive a prorated amount depending upon when he accepted a given coaching position, according to Jonathan Sasser, one of Davis' lawyers, the said.

The Bucs say this is not about money and you want to believe those who run things at One Buc Place. But history has taught us to be cautious in those matters.

Braden River's Ross most likely done for hoops season

The Braden River boys basketball team, which opens region play tonight at home against Port St. Lucie, will again be without two year starting point guard Steven Ross.

The senior is most likely done for the season, the Bradenton Herald has learned. Ross was suspended prior to the district tournament for what school officials described as undisclosed reasons. Apparently he is not coming back.

Braden River managed to win the district title without Ross, who was the quarterback for the Pirates football team last season. But the regions could get a lot tougher particularly if they win tonight to set up a possible meeting with Stuart Martin County next Tuesday.

The Pirates have done a good job adjusting with Tre’ Bryant and Tommy Bernhardt sharing a lot of the point guard duties. Bryant, Braden River’s leading scorer, has shown his multi-talented skills by continuing to provide scoring while helping to run the offense.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Riverview controversy not new to Manatee County

The FHSAA ruling that Sarasota Riverview had to forfeit games because of improprieties involving former Bradenton Christian player Austin Walker brings back memories of Haminn Quaintance.

Known as “Q” he was one of the best basketball players Ken Ansbro coached during his 21 years with the Palmetto High basketball program (last 7 as head coach).

Quaintance transferred to Riverview for his senior year amid a lot of controversy. He had a solid career at Kent State and played professionally overseas.

Ansbro has never forgotten the day prior to his senior year when out of the clear blue sky Haminn came up and told him he was leaving.

“He was one of the best players I ever coached. To this day, I don’t know why he left. He just came up to me one day before his senior year and said he was going to Riverview. I gave up trying to figure those things out,” Ansbro said.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Preferred walk-on QB situation at USF gets crowded for Palmetto's Miller

Palmetto quarterback Trent Miller is going to get additional competition at USF as the walk-on quarterback situation for the Bulls just got a little more crowded.

Tampa Jesuit quarterback Tommy Eveld, brother of USF QB Bobby Eveld, recently announced he accepted an offer to be a preferred walk-on for the Bulls.

The success rate of preferred walk-ons anywhere is a long shot, but you never know. Bobby Eveld walked on at USF and received a scholarship fairly quickly after getting a chance to play when Bulls starting quarterback B.J. Daniels went down with an injury.

One thing about being a walk-on is that you never know where the road will take you. Englewood Lemon Bay quarterback Matt Piloto (see photo) walked on at USF under former head coach Jim Leavitt.

It didn't work out at USF for Piloto, but he got his chance because of an injury and last season the junior started for Division III national power Mount Union, leading the Purple Raiders to a 14-1 season with their only loss coming in the NCAA Division III national title game.

Piloto threw for 2,245 yards and 21 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

You don't have to look too far for walk-on quarterbacks who had great careers such as Kerwin Bell at Florida who threw 56 TD passes and was named SEC Player of The Year in 1984.

Did you know Aaron Rodgers turned down an offer to be a walk-on at Illinois and instead went to a junior college. His career has turned out pretty good for the Green Bay Packers.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Could this be the best Super Bowl memory?

Here is my choice for the best line to come out of the Super Bowl; courtesy of USA Today bloggers Tom Weir and Reid Cherner.

In their Wednesday column here is what they had to say about the Material Girl aka Madonna.

"The Material Girl should be glad that when she made her Cleopatra style entrance on a throne that she wasn't being carried by the Patriots receivers"

Maybe they could've just said Madonna was fortunate she wasn't carried by Pats receiver Wes Welker. But he had a tough enough week for dropping that fourth quarter pass that probably would've locked up a victory for New England.
Reports surfaced all over that he received tons of butterfingers candy bars; put those next to that comment by quarterback Tom Brady's wife regarding his receivers and you have to feel sorry for Welker.

Lot more than district title at stake for Braden River

There is a lot at stake for the Braden River boys basketball team this Friday night when it plays Venice for the Class 7A-District 11 championship.

In fact you might say there is more on the line than just a second straight district title for the Pirates, though that means a lot. But this veteran team has higher goals and a win over Venice would certainly help in many ways.

This game is to clear a much easier path to the Region 3 final and eventual trip to the state final four.

The two top teams in this region appear to be Braden River (22-4) and Stuart Martin County (22-3).

If Braden River beats Venice and gets by its first round region opponent it would be home for the region semifinal most likely against Stuart Martin County, which finished 10-0 in its district.

If the Pirates lose to Venice and go into the regions as district tournament runner-up they would likely have to go to Stuart Martin County for their region quarterfinal game and that is something they want to avoid at all costs.

Here is a little bonus. The District 12 championship game is Saturday night so if the Pirates beat Venice, Braden River head coach Matt Nesser and his staff will be able to scout that game.

The other top teams in Class 7A-Region 3 appear to be Wiregrass (17-9), Tampa Chamberlain (13-7), St. Petersburg (16-9) and Clearwater (18-10).

Cobb makes Lakewood Ranch Cinderella team

The Lakewood Ranch boys basketball squad is the area's Cinderella team as we head into the district finals Friday night.

The Mustangs pulled off the upset of the year when it knocked off top seed Seminole Osceola on the road Wednesday night.

But was it really an upset?

The key for the Mustangs has been the return of double-double man, 6-6 senior Brian Cobb, who missed 22 games this season because of a torn ACL. He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds last season.

Cobb says he is only at 70 percent, but 70 percent of Cobb is better than 100 percent of most players. He has also injected confidence in his teammates and gotten them better shots now that defense have to concentrate on him.

In two post season games, Cobb has 31 points and 25 rebounds. the Mustangs are at Palmetto Friday night in district championship game. The Tigers will be favorites, but if you include the Cobb factor have to like Mustangs chances.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dick Vitale All-Access Special airs tonight on ESPNU

The Dick Vitale All-Access show will air tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPNU prior to the Duke-North Carolina he will call for the 40th time in this storied rivalry.

The sports network is calling the half-hour piece a “never-before-seen-look” at Vitale, one of the most recognizable voices in sports television and Lakewood Ranch resident.

ESPN cameras followed the basketball icon around the past two months and filmed Vitale at some of his favorite spots, including the Broken Egg restaurant in Lakewood Ranch.

They also videoed him playing with his grandchildren in his Lakewood Ranch home and moving around the area going from Sarasota to Lakewood Ranch as many onlookers treated him like a national hero.

Cameras also followed Vitale for a typical college basketball work week, which included NC State and North Carolina game on January 26th and two days later as he announced the St. John’s at Duke game with Brent Musburger.

When he is not hanging with family and or calling games, Dickie V sets up his self made office at the Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch where he works to raise money for the Jimmy V Foundation in his fight against pediatric cancer.

The All-Access Dickie V will also re-air next Wednesday at 5 pm and 6:30 and at other to be determined times.

Woodie piling up awards as one of nation's top recruiters

When you are hot you are hot.

That's the best way to describe Ray Woodie, the former Palmetto High and Bayshore head football coach who is piling up honors as an elite recruiter at Western Kentucky.

After getting named the top recruiter in the Sun Belt Conference by ESPN and Sports the Palmetto native was cited by Rivals.Com as one of the top 10 recruiters from the non BCS schools.

Woodie has no fear and is "stealing" kids that coaches from the BCS schools probably thought belonged to them. But no more, Woodie and WKU Willie Taggart are reeling in some of the top talent in the country and it doesn't appear things will slow down.

These two guys are revolutionizing the way recruiting is done. They pitch honesty and success and refuse to take a back seat to anyone.

Braden River 5th in FABC rankings but won't mean much if don't win tonight

On the eve of its biggest game of the season, the Braden River High boys basketball moved up to the fifth in the latest Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC) Class 7A ranking

The Pirates (20-4) were seventh in the previous poll. But all of that won't mean much if they don't beat Punta Gorda Charlotte (16-110 tonight in a class 7A-District 11 semifinal round game.

Braden River defeated Charlotte both times they met during the regular season, earning a 42-41 victory on the road and then winning handily at home 60-40.

The game is at Braden River where the Pirates are 9-1 this season. It bodes well for this young program that is gunning for its second straight district championship, but head coach Matt Nesser is taking nothing for granted.

"Defense is the key. We are a blue collar team and have to play good defense if we are going to win," he said.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Brad Christian gets top seed after Mooney slammed for violations

The Cardinal Mooney boys basketball team will be missing its star player and a whole lot of victories when the Class 3A-District 10 boys basketball tournament gets underway on Tuesday.

Michael Colby, FHSAA Director of Compliance, said Mooney used players that were deemed ineligible because they violated recruiting rules.

One of those players is freshman phenom Antonio Blakeney, the Cougars leading scorer and best player. Also declared ineligible was freshman Justin Najmy and some players off the Mooney JV team. The team has to forfeit all the games those two played in, the FHSAA said.

Blakeney attended Booker Middle School where he was a prolific scorer and led the team to the Sarasota County Middle School championship.

Colby said the players played on a club team that was coached by a person connected with the Cardinal Mooney basketball program and then followed him to the school, which is considered recruiting.

Colby said his organization received an anonymous tip about a possible violation of FHSAA rules and asked school officials at Cardinal Mooney to look into it.

"They found improprieties and then self reported it and took action," Colby said. "If a player is on a travel ball, club team or AAU team and then follows that coach to the school where the coach has contact with it's a violation of our rules and is considered recruiting. They are ineligible for the rest of the season, but can play next year."

Colby said the players have until Thursday to file an appeal, but the hearing would not be held until March when the season would be over. Cardinal Mooney Athletic Director Bill Donivan would not respond to any questions.

The ruling means Bradenton Christian becomes the top seed in the the three team district tournament, which is being held at Cardinal Mooney.

Out-Of-Door-Academy plays Cardinal Mooney on Tuesday and the winner faces Bradenton Christian Friday night in the district championship game.