Friday, April 27, 2012

USF football team gets another chance to end Thursday night blues

TAMPA – The University of South Florida football match-up with Rutgers that will serve as the Bulls Big East Conference opener has been moved to Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate ESPN, the league announced Friday. The game had originally been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15.
The Bulls and Scarlet Knights will be meeting for the seventh time. Rutgers holds a 4-2 advantage. The clubs have split the last two meetings, with each team winning at home. USF won the last game at Raymond James Stadium in 2010, 28-27, but was unable to hold onto a lead at Rutgers last season, eventually falling in overtime, 20-17.

The game will be televised by ESPN, but that's not necessarily a good thing because of the Bulls football program that has suffered a bad case of Thursday night blues.

Nothing hurt worse than in 2007 when USF was ranked second nationally and lost at Rutgers in a Thursday night game and then two years later suffered a humiliating defeat to the Knights getting shutout 31-0 for the program's first regular season shutout.

This game will also be difficult because the Saturday before the Bulls be on the road at Nevada and have such a short time to prepare. The kickoff for that game has not yet been determined.  The Bulls are hoping for an early one so they can get home at a reasonable time.

Trio of area hoopsters named to FABC All-State team

DeAngela Mathis led Manaee Countygirls in scoring last season.
Bradenton Herald Girls Basketball Player of The Year DeAngelaMathis was named to the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches All-State team along with two other area hoopsters.

Palmetto High’s Jordan Smith was named to the FABC Class 6A boys team and Cardinal Mooney freshman Camille Giardina was selected for the Class 3A girls team.

The versatile Mathis was named to the Class 5A team. She led Manatee County girls in scoring (19.1 ppg) and was a force on the boards averaging 6 rebounds per game to finish her sophomore year with 727 career points.

Giardina was Sarasota County’s leading scorer (22.1 ppg) and finished the season with 575 points while also leading her team in steals, assists and rebounds.

Smith finished his career with 1,456 points. The senior guard averaged 20.8 points and 4.4 rebounds last season while shooting 42 percent from beyond the 3 point arc.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The mysterious "Southeast fan" is finally identified and has no ties to 'Noles

Fans of the Southeast High girls' basetball should feel exonerated.

Turns out that "fan" who was ejected from the Southeast at St. Petersburg Lakewood game in the girls basketball region semifinal is not associated with Southeast in any way, shape or form.

The person was former Bayshore High boys basketball standout Aaron Cooper, according to Bayshore High athletic director Chris Brady.

Brady should know because he coached Cooper, who is the sixth leading career scorer at Bayshore and played his final season in 1999.

The identification is improtant because some Lakewood fans aided by a local reporter at the game tried to use the ejection to argue how the Southeast fans were unruly.

Cooper has no affiliation whatsover with Southeast. Maybe he has a vendetta against officials as do a lot of former basketball players. He could also be angry that he finished his career with 999 points___now that would make any player mad missing the charmed 1,000 point barrier because perhaps an official missed a foul on the man guarding him.

What a lot of people and some in the media might not know is that refs in Florida only eject fans from being unruly to officials doing the game. They don't get involved with fans who are rude to other fans. The latter falls under the jurisdiction of the home school officials.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bo Pelini: We have confidence in Brion Carnes

A lot of folks around these parts are wonding what happened to Brion Carnes, particularly after Nebraska cancelled its spring game.

The former Manatee High quarterback is number two on the Huskers depth to Nebraska signal caller Taylor Martinez and last year was the least used backup quarterback in the Big 10.

But Bo says don't worry; that any perception Carnes might be a forgotten man is wrong.

Those are the words of Bo Pelini, the Huskers head coach who will utlimately decide how much playing time Carnes gets this season.

"We have a lot more confidence in Brion than people think," Pelini told the media as spring ball wrapped up. "I sometimes get the feeling that people think we don't have confidence in him. That isn't the case."

Carnes earned the backup job largely because of his spring game performance last season. With no spring game this year, questions arose. But Nebraska offensive coordinatorand quarterbacks coach Tim Beck says he is solid at number 2 and got a lot of work with the first team this spring.

"He looks like a different guy in the passing game," Beck said.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Notre Dame standout Aaron Lynch transfers to USF

The University of South Florida will add transfer Aaron Lynch to its roster for the 2012 season, head coach Skip Holtz has announced. He reportedly signed the necessary paper work on Monday with USF.

The defensive end left Notre Dame last week after earning Freshman All-America honors during his true freshman season in 2011.
“With Aaron originally being from Florida, we’re very familiar with the kind of player he is,” Holtz said. “Aaron had a great freshman season at Notre Dame and we’re excited to welcome him into the Bulls family.”

Lynch played in 12 games for Notre Dame last season, including the Bulls season-opening victory against the Fighting Irish, and started six. He posted 33 tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven TFL, 14 pressures, two PBU and a forced fumble en route to first-team Freshman All-America honors.

Lynch arguably had his most productive game of the season against Michigan St., when he posted five tackles, a sack, six pressures and a forced fumble. He also started in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida St. and tallied five tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pressure.

The Island Coast High School product was rated the sixth best prospect in the country in 2010 when he produced 31 solo tackles and 10.5 sacks and earned a spot on the U.S. Army All-American team..

In choosing USF, Lynch said he wanted to play closer to his home in Fort Myers, Fla.
It is unclear whether the Bulls will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Lynch to play immediately. If there is no waiver, Lynch must sit out the 2012 season.

At Notre Dame, Lynch was one of the nation's best freshman defenders. After an 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State in which Lynch had five tackles and 1.5 sacks, Seminoles quarterback E.J. Manuel predicted Lynch would be "all-world" in future years.

Does Florida have its priorities right? Some question dumping an entire department for athletics

We always knew football has reigned supreme at the University of Florida, but has the school gone too far in wiping out an entire science department so athletics (mainly football, who are we kidding) can continue to remain elitist.

Forbes Magazine reported last week that in a cost cutting move the University of Florida was elimnating its computer science department to save about $1.7 million while adding $2 million to its athletic budget that now hovers around $99 million.

Even at Florida where athletics is considered the straw that stirs the drink this isn't being taken lightly. Some students have organized a website to stage their  protest and several distinquihsed computer scientists are backing their cause.

Money is tight as we all know. But do coaches have to be earning multi- million dollar contracts at the expense of academics, particularly in the midst of a technological revolution.

Lets be honest you could see this happening at Alabama or Auburn and no one would rasie a stir, but this is Florida. The school does have some academic prestige sort of a long the lines of Vanderbilt.

It is also a school that enabled former coach Urban Meyer to become a millionaire albeit while Tim Tebow was broke. The most famous Florida quarterback writes in his book he had to clean chicken coops for his mother one Christmas because he didn't have the money to buy her a present.

Some people are blaming the Florida legislature for making some huge cuts in the Florida's budget, about 30 percent according to Forbes.

But it begs the question; do we need to be paying some of these coaches exhorbitant salaries. Maybe the football program could donate $1.7 million to keep the computer science department alive.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dowling pulls a "Babe Ruth Moment" in predicting his game winning pick

Remember when Babe Ruth called his famous home run before launching into the stands in one of baseball's most memorable moments.
Well our own Jon Dowling apparently has gone into the prediction business and proved to be a success though somewhat on a smaller scale.
Our witness to this is Minnesota Vikings defensive back Mistral Raymond, the Palmetto High product who was standing on the sidelines at Western Kentucky's spring game last Saturday.
Dowling, a safety for the Hilltoppers, was voted game MVP in part because he intercepted a pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to account for the final score and give his Red Team a victory.
Dowling, the former Southeast star, predicted what would happen just before he went on the field and made the play, according to Raymond.
"He came up to me and said if it was a perfectly thrown pass he knew where it was going and he was going to intercept and return it for a touchdown. That is exactly what happened," Raymond said via phone on his way to Minnesota.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring game updates: Wilson gets himself two sacks

Former Manatee High standout Drakkar Wilson recorded two sacks in the Eastern Kentucky University spring game.
The 5-11, 285 pound Wilson played defensive end and nose tackle during the spring and may do the same during the regular season.
Chris Pompey, who came to Eastern Kentucky with Wilson from Manatee, did not play in the spring game because of an ankle injury. But the 6-3, 225-pound linebacker had been reportedly playing well up until that time.
His brother, Quinton Pompey, made his presence felt in the Iowa State spring game by notching three tackles, including one for a two yard loss. Another Manatee High product, Quinton Bundrage, caught one pass for six yards.
Pompey is listed as the third nose tackle behind a junior and senior on Iowa State’s depth chart and Bundrage is a backup receiver. Both will be freshmen next season as far as their athletic eligibility.

Lakewood Ranch's Devin McDermott named to All State Academic team

Lakewood Ranch senior Devin McDermott has been named to the 2012 FHSAA Academic All State first team.
The mutli talented standout earned four varsity letters each in cross country and track and two in soccer. She has a 3.96 GPA and ranks sixth in her senior class of 388 students.
McDermott is also a member of 11 high school clubs and organizations and holds down three part-time jobs. She plans to attend the University of Florida and study broadcast journalism.
McDermott was previously named the Florida state female winner for the 2011 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award was one of 12 finalists, six male and six female, for the national award.
To be eligible for selection to the All State team, a student must be a graduating senior, have a cumulative unweighted grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and earned a varsity letter in at least two different sports during each of his or her junior and senior years.
The candidates were selected based on academic record, athletic participation, non-athletic activities, community service and an essay submitted to the FHSAA office. This year, 12 boys and 12 girls are being honored from the more than 200 qualified nominees from the Association’s 695 member high schools.
Each honoree will receive a $1,000 award, as well as a commemorative medallion, from the FHSAA for being selected to the team.
From the 24 recipients, two Scholar-Athletes of the Year—one boy and one girl—will be announced at the 18th Annual FHSAA Academic All-State Awards Banquet to be held Monday, June 11, at the Best Western Gateway Grand in Gainesville.
The Scholar-Athletes of the Year, the most prestigious honors conferred on an active student-athlete by the Association, will receive an additional $3,000 each, as well as a trophy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jon Dowling earns MVP honors in WKU spring game

It didn’t take Jon Dowling long to show Western Kentucky it got prize package when he decided to transfer from Florida.

The former Southeast High star earned MVP honors in WKU’s spring game Saturday doing what he does best___ Intercepting passes.

The defensive back made the play of the game on his second interception, which he returned for a 34 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter giving his Red Team a 16-10 victory.

It was Dowling’s first live action for WKU after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules and his diversified set of special skills was evident.

The 6-3, 195 pound sophomore picked off WKU starting quarterback Kawaun Jakes in the first quarter and returned it 15 yards. His second interception also came off Jakes with 10 minutes left in the game and accounted for the final score.

Dowling wasn’t the only Manatee County product to shine for the Hilltoppers.

Southeast High grad Boe Brand caught three passes for 22 yards and returned three kickoffs for 63 yards, including a long of 25 yards. His former Southeast teammate, linebacker Terran Williams, was credited with a quarterback hit and had a solo tackle. Palmetto High grad Ty Scott also had one solo tackle.

Former Braden River standout Willie McNeal, who missed all of last season for WKU with a torn ACL, caught one pass for six yards.

Sarasota Riverview High product John Evans, who is fighting for the running back job, had 107 all purpose yards. He ran for 10 yards on three carries, caught five passes for 30 yards and returned two kickoffs for 67 yards.

WKU head coach Willie Taggart, the Manatee High legendary quarterback, was pleased with the effort and job turned in by Dowling.

“All three of the backs did a good job of running. Jonathan Dowling had two picks-one for a touchdown. You always love that,” Taggart said. “Overall both teams did some good things. We still have some work to do, but I am pleased with the progress we made this spring.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Manatee's Mike Blakely tops Auburn running backs in spring game

Mike Blakely couldn't have picked a better time to have his best day of spring football at Auburn. The only question is whether the former Manatee High star can build on in.

Blakely, who sat out last season after transferring from Florida, led all Auburn running backs in the Tigers annual spring game Saturday.

He ran for 65 yards on only five carries (13 per yd avg) that included a 25 yard TD run and a 27 yard scamper that was the longest of the day.

On his TD run, Blakely showed some of what won him acclaim at Manatee when he was stopped at the line of scrimmage, then busted a few tackles and ran to daylight.

Blakely went into the game thought to be at least behind running backs Corey Grant and Onterio McCalebb and perhaps Tre' Mason. Grant was the most productive in that trio and he gained only 23 yards on 7 carries in the game.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik wasn't ready to anoint anyone the starter and said Blakely has a long way to go. The sophomore did miss some time during spring practice because of the birth of his son, which set him back.

Chizik said Blakely needed to work on every aspect of his game, including pass protection, pass catching and everything else a good running back is expected to so.

"Inconsistent. Very inconsistent. I think he did some nice things today, but overall very inconsistent in what he does" Chizik said. "Today he had a couple of nice runs in there and that was good to see, but overall for him, very inconsistent through 14 days now."

The coach described the team's running game overall as fairly productive, but again cited inconsistency.

"I think probably each guy had one or two decent runs, but again, we have some competition building at that position, and I think they're all aware of that," Chizik said. "It's good to have different guys to potentially choose from, so they just have to keep working and staying on track.

"We have not arrived at that position at all. We have to find somebody who will take the ball and run it north and south and do it physical. We're still looking at inconsistency in that regard."

"Inconsistent. Very inconsistent. I think he did some nice things today, but overall very inconsistent what he does" Chizik said. "Again, today he had a couple of nice runs in there and that was good to see, but overall for him, very inconsistent through 14 days now."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ex Buc Jackson joins fired Bucs head coach Raheem Morris

Cut four days ago by the Tampa Bucs, safety Tanard Jackson signed with the Washington Redskins on Friday.

It means Jackson will join forces again with Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris, the former Bucs head coach who was fired after last season's debacle.

The Bucs cut Jackson for many reasons, including reports they were not happy about how he was going about his rehab following off season shoulder surgery. He also showed a lack of discipline on the field in leading NFL safeties in missed tackles last season.

Now Jackson reunites with Morris, who was criticized for running a loose ship in Tampa, which caused the Bucs to deflate into a league embarrassment last season.

Before last season Jackson had served a 56 week suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The Bucs didn't want to take a chance on Jackson despite his modest $2 million salary and the team's lack of experience and talent at the safety position.

Now he become Morris' problem or headache, which ever way you look at it. Or maybe he will find a way to gain the trust of NFL teams with a good season. He could succeed in Washington with head coach Mike Shanahan, who is considered a no-nonsense type of person.

Mirabella among state leaders in strikeouts

Courtney Mirabella certainly gets the most out of her time on the mound, particularly when it come to striking out hitters.

With 191 strikeouts in 95 innings, the Braden River High junior is averaging 2.01 strikeouts per inning, which ranks her among the top three in the state, according to statistics published by Max Preps.

The righthander is efficient in every way possible. She has compiled a 1.12 ERA and is 13-2 for the Pirates, who head into next week's Class 7A-District-11 tournament as the top seeded team.

Braden River, which reached the State Final Four last year, opens play at home on Wednesday against the winner of the Venice-Port Charlotte game. Expect Mirabella to be on the mound.

Bobby Petrino motorcyle T-Shirts now available

In this age of social media mania you can always find people willing to make a dollar or a big splash.

It seems to be the case with disposed Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino who was fired this week after it was revealed that he had an inappropriate affair with a 25 year-old Jessica Dorrell.

All of this might not have come out if the 51 year-old Petrino and the young lady were not involved in a motorcycle accident.

The university released documents related to Dorrell's hiring, which the school said didn't follow typical protocol. Jeff Long, the school's athletic director, said Petrino failed to disclose his conflict of interest in recommending his mistress get an open job as a recruiting coordinator at an annual salary of $55,735.

All of this leads to the attached photo. Petrino, who was known to enjoy riding motorcyles, is now the brunt of jokes or perhaps an attempt by some to make a few bucks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

USF signs highly touted hoops prospect

Things keep getting better for the USF mens' basketball team, which recently finished its best season in school history.

Coming on the heels of the announcement that Victor Rudd said he would be returning to school instead of making himself available for the NBA draft, USF signed 6-7 forward Zach LeDay from The Colony High School in Texas on Wednesday.

A versatile scorer, DeLay averaged 20.6 points and 9.4 rebounds a game and scored in double figures in 34 games in leading his team to a 30-6 record.

"Zach was an important signee for us," USF head coach Stan Heath said. "He fills a void in our front line after losing Ron Anderson and Gus Gilchrist. He is a guy who can score inside and out and is very versatile in his game."

LeDay makes USF's 2012 recruiting class, which was ranked 12th by HoopScoop, even stronger joining highly touted prospects Waverly Austin and Javontae Hawkins and junior college transfer Musa Abdul-Aleem.

Search for SCF hoops coach reaching its final stages

The search for the next State College of Florida head basketball coach is reaching its final stages, according to athletic director Matt Ennis.

Ennis said the school has named four candidates who have been invited to on campus interviews following a series of phone calls with earlier applicants. The in-person interviews began this week.

"The response has been great. We've had a lot of interest and we hope to make the decision by the end of next week or the following week," Ennis said.

Whoever is hired will become the fifth person since 1999 to head the mens' basketball program. Chip Sines coached the team for for three years and took the then Lancers to the state tournament in his final season.

He was followed by Brac Brady, who was ultimately fired, Reggie Bellamy and Joe Whelton, who resigned after last season, his only stint as the head coach. Bellamy took the program to the state tournament one season.

Lack of adequate money to help with recruiting has been a common theme since the late 1990s as a reason the program has not be able to be a consistent winner and annual state tournament contender. The head coaching job is a part-time position.

Vitale praises Rudd's decision to return to USF

Victor Rudd's decision to remove his name from the 2012 NBA draft and return to USF is one of the best off seasons moves, according to ESPN college basketball super analyst Dick Vitale.

"He would not have been a first round pick and needs a lot more seasoning. He has talent, but needs to show more consistency in his game," Vitale said.

The 6-8 sophomore wing man played his first season for USF after transferring from Arizona State and was an integral part of the Bulls magical run to the NCAA tournament.

Rudd was USF's second leading scorer at 9.3 points per game and averaged 4.8 rebounds. He played his best basketball in the post season helping the Bulls reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament and the Big East Conference tournament quarterfinals averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds.

"Based on this process and the feedback that I received after putting my name in the NBA draft pool, I've decided that it's in my best interests to return to USF," Rudd said.

Vitale called it a wise decision, noting if you are not a first round pick you don't receive a guaranteed contract. But he was adamant that Rudd needs to play an entire season at high level and develop his game where he is consistently among the top players.

"Victor has to show he can play at a high level for an entire season. He showed promise during the end of the season, but he needs to do it for a longer period of time," Vitale said.

Needless to say, USF head coach Stan Heath is pleased to have Rudd back. His return means the Bulls will have four of their top five leading scorers and three of their top six rebounds for next season.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rays put Farnsworth on DL with sore elbow

As expected the Tampa Rays placed closer Kyle Farnsworth on the 15 day disabled list Thursday and called up right hander Josh Luke.

Farnsworth, who had a career high 25 saves last season, is suffereing from an elbow strain. There are a lot of estimates on how long he will be out for one. At the worse one scenario has the right hander sidelined for six weeks.

Rays manager Joe Maddon is not one to panic and he didn't sound any alarms. He said the Rays never officially had a closer and that role would be filled by committee for the time being.

That means any of a number of Rays could be closing; the most likely are Jose Peralta, newly acquired Fernando Rodney, J.P. Howell and Jake McGee. There is also the distinct possibility Wade Davis, a starter for two years who has been assigned to the bullpen could wind up closing games.

The 27 year-old Lueke was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for catcher John Jaso. The right hander made his Major League debut last season and appeared in 25 games. He had an 8.06 ERA in 32.2 innings and struck out 29.

In 2010 pitching for four minor league teams had 94 strikeouts in 63 innings and his 13.43 strikeouts per nine innings ranked seventh among Minor Leaguers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cody Rogers goes from prosthetic technician to home run hero for Rays

Minor leaguer Cody Rogers gave Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon something to remember about him when he slugged a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth on Monday to enable the Rays to sqeeze out a 6-6 tie with Minnesota.

Rogers, who is a prosthetic technician (makes artificial limbs) during the off season, is certainly a young man who makes the most of his opportunties. In four spring at-bats with the Rays, the outfielder has hit two homers and driven in four runs.

David Price looks sharp in final tune-up for Yankees

David Price pitched four solid innings against the Minnesota Twins in his final tune-up for the regular season when he will pitch against the Yankees on Saturday at Tropicana Field.

The Tampa Rays lefty allowed only four hits and struck out six throwing 42 pitches with 28 going for strikes. He was slated to throw only four innings.

It was his seventh start of the spring and followed his seven inning stint last week against Pittsburgh when he threw a spring high 92 pitches (59 for strikes).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Austin Gordon, Brian Cobb and Tre' Bryant shine in PAL game

Does any college need a basketball player?

Well Austin Gordon, Brian Cobb and Tre' Bryant showed they are more than capable of playing on the next level Saturday night in the PAL Senior All-Star basketball showcase.

The big surprise might have been the 6-6, 205 pound Gordon, who got lost amid a struggling Manatee High basketball team last season.

Gordon showed his mettle in winning MVP honors with a spectacular performance that included 15 points, 16 rebounds, 7 blocked shots and a few highlight reel dunks while connecting on 7 of 11 field goal attempts.

Cobb missed nearly the entire season at Lakewood Ranch coming off ACL surgery. But the 6-6 swingman looked like he is close to getting back to form with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Bryant, who played all season, showed his deadly accuracy from 3-point land in filling up the nets with a team high 22 points that included 14 in the second half. He was 4 for 8 from beyond the arc.