Monday, November 28, 2011

Steve Johnson mocks Plaxico

I wouldn't call this the touchdown celebration of the year, but you have to admit that it was pretty creative and comical. I wonder how much he'll get fined?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Halftime Breakdown: Patriots v. Eagles

After jumping out to an early 10-0 lead, led by an impressive Vince Young in the beginning minutes, the Philadelphia Eagles found themselves trailing the New England Patriots 21-13 at the half.
In typical Tom Brady fashion, the dynamic quarterback led his prolific offense to 21-straight unanswered points to settle down the Vickless-Eagles.
Despite Brady’s poised presence in the pocket, he is not unstoppable. The easiest solution to stopping the Bradys, Mannings, and Brees are pressure in the face. No quarterback likes it. If Brady doesn’t feel any stress from Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, and Jason Babin, he will have a field day against this up-and-down Philadelphia defense.
The Eagles are clearly still in the game and have two more quarters left. If Young can improve on his ball placement, the Eagles may have a shot in the second stanza. Another possible quick fix to Young's inaccuracy is to give more hand-offs to Lesean McCoy who has only received six. It's not realistic for Young to be perfect; it takes a while for any quarterback to get back into the flow after not starting for a while.
I predict that the Pats will down the Birds with an ending score of 34-23.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Explorers’ freshmen look impressive

With high hopes for the 2011-12 season, the women’s basketball team got off to a terrific start in their season opener against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
The final of score of 63-43 was avenged last year’s 18-point defeat (85-67). Lehigh had beaten La Salle in the past three years, but the Blue and Gold made a decisive statement this past Friday at Tom Gola Arena.
In the early minutes of the contest, Lehigh jumped to a 5-0 lead, but La Salle quickly regained the advantage after a layup from sophomore Michea Bryant to make the score 10-5.
Lehigh would surge right back after an Explorers’ run closed the lead within one at 14-13, but that was the closest the Mountain Hawks would come for the rest of the game.
With the score at 37-24 at the half, the young freshmen propelled La Salle to triumph in this matchup.
Pacing the Explorers at half with 12 points, freshman Jada Payne would lead her squad out of the locker room to a 20-point victory with a game-high 15 points. Classmate Jordan Mosley also keyed in with a big 12 points while sophomore Jess Koci and junior Alexis Scott controlled the glass with eight rebounds.
In a beautiful offensive showing, La Salle also locked down Lehigh, who shot a miserable percentage of .171 in the second half in addition to having 23 turnovers.
“To start off with a win is great,” head coach Jeff Williams told “We started three freshmen, so it was just seeing how they’d react and they played pretty well.”
After getting off to good start under Williams, the Explorers traveled to Albany to face the Great Danes.
This game was a battle of runs as both units traded momentum back-and-forth.
Despite trailing 6-0 to begin the game, the Blue and Gold went on a 10-0 run with contributing three-pointers from Mosely and junior Brittany Wilson to control the lead. Albany then retaliated with a run of their own to recapture the lead at 21-20 with less than seven minutes remaining in the first period.
Following the slight deficit, the Explorers once againpowered back with a 12-2 run to go up 32-23, but the Great Danes had the last laugh heading into half as they led 35-34.
In the second half, there would be no lead changes though as Albany stayed on top until the end.
In a valiant effort to come back, the Explorers trailed 75-69 with just three minutes to play after a jumper from Mosley. This rally would ultimately fail as the Great Danes edged La Salle in an 81-76 home win.
The Explorers may have beaten the Great Danes in shooting percentage while outrebounding them 46-39, but this game was decided on the offensive glass as Albany pulled down 18 boards en route to numerous second-chance points.
Leading the Explorers in the loss was transfer Wilson with 17, while the new faces of Payne and Mosley totaled 16. Mosley also managed to grab a team-high nine rebounds.
The women’s basketball team will return to action during homecoming weekend against the national powerhouse Rutgers Scarlett Knights.

The Dukes upset the seniors’ final game at Tom Gola

After breaking their nine-game losing streak with a sweep of Coppin State, the women’s volleyball team welcomed the Dayton Flyers to Tom Gola Arena. The Flyers currently stood on top of the Atlantic 10 standings, while La Salle ranked last.
At the an unusual game time of 11 a.m. on Friday, this David vs. Goliath matchup started with the Flyers jumping out to commanding 11-1 lead. With this momentum, Dayton coasted to a 25-11 set victory.
With hopes to upset the No.1 seed in the conference, the Blue and Gold battled close with the Flyers in the beginning of the second set. After a kill from junior Samantha Tulskie, La Salle fought to trim the deficit to make the score even. This plan was unsuccessful as Dayton used a 7-2 run to close out the set in a 25-15 victory.
Undeterred by a 12-10 score in the third set, the Flyers proved they were too talented for the home team en route to their 25-17 victory.
Despite suffering a leg injury, senior Kourtney Clark pulled in 17 assists while Tulskie recorded a team-high 10 kills.
Entering into their final game of the season, the Explorers hosted the Duquesne Dukes. This game would also be the final home stand for senior group of Alexis Little, Alex Kennedy, Jacquelyn Mitrovich and Kourtney Clark.
Unfortunately for La Salle, the Dukes would spoil their senior honoring with a three game sweep (25-12, 25-18, 25-14).
In their final game for the Blue and Gold, Kennedy finished with four kills and one service ace while Mitrovich posted five kills and two blocks and Little added a kill and a dig.
The Explorers conclude their 2011 season with a 6-27 record. Though their record may not epitomize it, La Salle has made significant gains from last year. During a season in which the Explorers tied their most wins since 2008, there are still some positive notes to highlight from this season.
Faced with a surplus of injuries, the Explorers had many games this year with a small number of subs and still managed to push teams down to tiebreaking sets. The win column may not indicate it, but this strong unit has strengthened their talent and depth. Due to many role players stepping up this year, the women’s volleyball team will strive to have an even better season next year with the goal of gaining a berth into the A-10s.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Halftime Analysis: Cardinals v. Eagles

In a very less than thrilling first half, the Philadelphia Eagles lead the Arizona Cardinals, 14-7. In a game against a team that is missing their starting quarterback and three defensive starters, this game shouldn't even be close. But in typical Eagles' fashion, they let teams hang around just to lose in the end.
For those that aren't familiar with the Eagles' team, they have a great young, talented back by the name of LeSean McCoy. McCoy is the only Bird who has scored a touchdown in all eight games this season. In addition, with 825 yards so far this season, McCoy needs just 74 more yards to break Ricky Watters' team record (898 in 1996) for most rushing yards through the first nine games. The reason why No.25 doesn't get more hand-offs puzzles me.
Ultimately, regardless of who the Eagles play, there is no reason why this explosive unit shouldn't score over 28 points a game. Not as dangerous as the Green Bay Packers, but the Eagles are the closest to matching them on the offensive side in the NFC.
Mathematically, the Eagles are still in the playoff hunt despite what people think. The question is, will this team play like the "Dream Team" Vince Young called them or will they keep dreaming?

P.S. Congratulations to Randall Cunningham who was honored at halftime of the game.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Facial Fridays: MJ over McHale

I thought it would only be fitting that I award the great Michael Jeffrey Jordan with our Facial Friday of the week, seeing that a plethora of players feel as if he's traded sides: from players to owners.
If you haven't heard yet, former New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury is the most recent addition to this list of MJ critics. Below are some of Marbury's tweets. From the look of things, I would say he really dislikes Mr. Jordan, but maybe I'm wrong.
Do you think MJ should publicly step out and defend players?

"Micheal Fake Jordan is a sell out. #Period. He forgot which hole he came out of. I said it 'Stephon X Marbury.'"

"MJ went from MJ the black cat to a guy who forgot he was a player. Sell your team if you can't make a profit.. Your just a regular dude now!"

Embarrassing Moment of the Week: Sanchez cringes

I've played this about 20 times, and each time I laugh harder.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Success on the horizon for Explorers in second year

Just as the women’s basketball team did last year under the leadership of Head Coach Jeff Williams, these news Explorers will continue to surmount expectations.
Picked to finish at the bottom of the totem pole in the Atlantic 10 in the 2010-11 season, Williams drove La Salle to an unexpected 6-8 conference record in his first year. Not only did the Explorers A-10 record come close to improving their overall record from the 2009-10 season (7-23), the Blue and Gold also managed to finish ninth, five spots higher than they were predicted to finish.
In his first year as a head coach, Williams did fairly well for himself with a young, undersized team, looking trough the lens of how difficult the A-10 can be. Last year’s record may not exemplify it, but La Salle made significant gains in the conference and pushed many teams down to the wire.
“Last year was a learning experience, and we technically over-achieved, looking from the perspective of where we were picked to finish,” Williams said.
Though last year’s Explorers placed in the middle of their conference with the lack of experience and height, this season will be an superior test for the team and Coach Williams himself.
This season, La Salle will be without their ace, Ashley Gale. Gale not only led the team in scoring with her long range shooting, but she also was the face of their defense as she led the team in steals. Winning the 2010-11 Comeback Player of the Year and making it to the A-10 First Defensive team were minor accolades that Gale accomplished for her team. What she provided for them was heart and determination on a daily basis.
“I wish I had her one more year; [Gale] was a tremendous player, and her activity and leadership were invaluable,” Williams stated. “People seem to forget how good of a defensive player she was. She was the point of our presses and guarded the opponent’s best player.”
The Explorers may have lost their top-gun, but a majority of the supporting cast is returning in addition to the new faces acquired by La Salle.
Leading the Blue and Gold into this season will be last year’s second leading scorer, junior Alexis Scott, while sophomore point guard, Michea Bryant will take control of the backcourt. Senior Nadia Duncan will also be a key element this year with her aggressiveness on the boards.
In addition to the eight returners from last year’s squad, the Explorers embrace the talents of six new freshmen: Siobhan Beslow, Jordan Mosley, Ruvanna Campbell, Indigo Dickens, Jada Payne and Omaah Tayong.
Fitting each player into the rotation will be the biggest predicament for Williams this season. Along with the six new players, the team consists of two seniors, four juniors and two seniors.
“No one has a spot. They don’t know how much they will play which makes each practice more competitive,” said Williams. “The key is to getting them experience and allowing them to be comfortable with a lot of patience from myself. By January, they will be ready to go.”
These freshmen won’t be the only new faces to see the court; transfer junior Brittany Wilson will also see her first minutes in a La Salle uniform. While at Northeastern, Wilson led her team in scoring with 14.1 points per game and was a Third Team All-Colonial Athletic Association Conference selection while finishing the season ranked ninth in the CAA in scoring and 10th in rebounding.
On top of all the new faces playing on the hardwood for Blue and Gold, the Explorers will still have sophomore Jessi Koci filling in all the intangibles. After walking on to the team last year, there isn’t a doubt in Williams mind that he made the right choice in having Koci join the team.
“I saw her work ethic early in practice last year and her confidence has improved a lot over the offseason,” Williams said.
As the team keeps making strides to build their notoriety, Williams will face numerous nuisances in the beginning phases as a coach. Perseverance will be the key this year and for the following to come.
“My role at Pittsburgh and my mentors have made me prepared to take on this position,” Williams stated.
Williams knows what it takes to make it to the top as he spent his prior seven seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, including the last four as the Associate Head Coach. While there, he also helped guide the Panthers to postseason appearances in the past five seasons, including three straight NCAA Tournament trips with Sweet Sixteen showings in 2008 and 2009.
The Explorers are far from reaching these accomplishments, but with Williams as the spearhead, the promised land doesn’t look to be too far off.
With a daunting A-10 non-conference schedule, the Explorers will encounter many speed bumps this year. In addition to the six postseason teams in the 2011-12 non-conference schedule, La Salle will face a total of nine teams that finished with 16 or more wins last season and five with 20 or more.
La Salle may seem a little taller on the depth chart, but the inexperience on this unit will weigh a burden on them in this upcoming season as it did last.
The squad may be ‘Gale-less,’ but the team has many more options that weren’t there last year, mentioned Williams. This team is young and deep, and their hustle and tenacity will be pertinent to acquire success in Williams’ second season.
The first contest for the young and improved Explorer squad will be on Friday, Nov. 11 against Lehigh. Lehigh, which went 21-11 last season, crushed La Salle in their last outing by 18 points, but this is a new year and a different team.
As Williams said, “Lehigh has all our attention now. We have to take one game at a time.”

Start of the post-Gale era

One thousand point club, single season steal record at La Salle, Most Improved Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10, first All-A-10 Defensive team, and first team All-Big 5 are just a few of the accolades that Ashley Gale was able to achieve in her senior year on the women’s basketball team.
Unfortunately for the Explorers, No. 5 will be in different shoes this year as she takes her new role as an alumnus and more importantly, a fan. Gale will root from the stands, but she surely will be missed in the box score. Though it would be great to have Gale on the team for another year, the fact of the matter is, she won’t.
With a newly renovated unit, scoring will come from different members of the team every night. Whether it is last year’s second leading scorer, junior Alexis Scott, or freshman Jada Payne, each player on this team will have to step up. If their number is called, they will have to produce or Coach Jeff Williams will look for a replacement.
As Williams stated, “No position is filled.” Though each player pushing each other and fighting for playing time, the team will improve their skills night in and night out. As the saying goes, you play how you practice.
With that being said, the hunger and determination shown by the team will be vital in their execution this year. Last year, the Explorers had a plethora of slow starts and relied on Gale to bring them back during a time of turmoil. La Salle will not have that this year. As the games progress, the team will begin to learn about each other as much as Williams will about them.
In their 2011-12 campaign, each game must be gritty. From the time those forty minutes begin until the referees signal the conclusion of the game, La Salle can never give up a second. Each breath counts, as a majority of conference teams and opponents will underplay them because of their youth and inexperience. The best resolution for this would be to make the underestimation into a loss for their opponent.
With the number of well-established teams they play out of the A-10 in addition to some of their fellow ranked conference teams, La Salle will be fortunate to turn a few heads sideways with some possible upsets.
Simply said, the La Salle’s women’s basketball team is the master of their fate. As each player finds her formula, the team’s chemistry will build. As the team’s chemistry develops, their confidence will rise. Ultimately, there is nothing worse than a fearless young team.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Junior duo enter into the 1,000 dig club despite ninth straight loss

In hopes to break their seven-game losing skid, the women’s volleyball team wrapped up their three-game road trip against the Rhode Island Rams. Earlier in the season, the Explorers downed URI at home in a thrilling 3-2 victory. That was the past, though, and this upcoming contest was on Rhode Island’s turf.
Having difficulties procuring a win on the road has troubled the Blue and Gold all season, and this game would further exemplify the problem.
After trailing 10-4 in the opening set, La Salle couldn’t cut the deficit and eventually fell to the Rams 25-18.
The second and third matches were similar with Rhode Island scrambling to an early lead and never looking back. Now dropping their 12th straight loss away from 20th and Olney, the Explorers last  victory away dates back to September against Rider.
In the face of another conference shutout, senior Alex Kennedy manufactured a season-high nine kills, while junior Breanna Mazalewski posted nine digs.
Next up for La Salle was Xavier, who currently stood second in the Atlantic 10 standings. The Musketeers may have had a better record than the Blue and Gold, but this did not seem to worry La Salle at all.
The first set proved to be a dog fight that resulted in nine ties. The Explorers controlled the score with an 11-9 lead, but Xavier came surging back, finishing 11-1, to down La Salle in the opening round. The Musketeers would ultimately come up victorious, winning 25-17.
Xavier seemed to carry their momentum over to the second set, but the Explorers climbed back from behind to trail by one, 19-18. Sadly for the home team, the kill by fourth-year starter Kennedy would be La Salle’s last celebration. The Musketeers earned the set’s next four points on a service ace to ultimately close the second match, 25-21.
As for the third set, La Salle’s energy seemed deflated from the previous sets. Xavier came storming out with a bang to defeat La Salle with a 25-9 victory.
Despite another A-10 loss, the junior tandem of Samantha Tulskie and Mazalewski joined the 1,000 dig club. Tulskie recorded hers in the first set against Xavier, whereas Mazalewski entered the prominent club in Friday’s contest at Rhode Island.
With two games left on the season and the A-10 tournament off in the horizon, the Explorers will look to finish their 2011 season on a high note.
Dayton will travel to Tom Gola Arena to challenge Blue and Gold at home on Friday, Nov. 11.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Loss of a King

Most known for his epic trilogy match with the great Muhammad Ali, 'Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away at age 67 after a battle with liver cancer yesterday.
Arguably, there is no other fight in history that matches blows with Frazier and Ali's duel. It was brutal, but respectable. Each fighter wanted to knock off the other opponents head for the love of the sport. This seems to be the opposite of what we see today. Ultimately, there is only one word that I could think of that exemplifies Joe's boxing career: HEART.
Above is footage from Frazier being honored by the NABJ Sports Task Force at the Sports Task Force Pioneer Awards this summer in his hometown, Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the awards ceremony  and actually speak with the legend after.