It's finally here. The College basketball season will get under way in only a few short days. Hope spring eternal for every team as non-Conference play begins. The Big 5 has been a tradition since 1954 featuring classic battles between Penn, La Salle, St. Joe's, Temple, and Villanova. In recent years the Big 5 has began to decline in prominence; however, the rivalries still matter. Three of these teams play in the Atlantic 10 (why St. Joe's and La Salle do not play twice in the A-10 baffles me) and conference games that count as a Big 5 game only adds to the drama. It allows these 5 city schools, all with storied pasts, a chance to play each other and definitively declare a champion of Philadelphia each and every year. So without further adieu here is the preview of the 2011-2012 Big 5:
In the near past I cannot think of a quarterback that America has had a stranger relationship with than Tim Tebow. Tebow has received an odd mixture of doubt and national attention. For example: his NFL combine was highly televised and covered, while analysts insisted he did not have a future as an NFL quarterback.
Again after yesterday’s 45-10 loss to the Lions, the Tebow haters were at it. They very well may have a point. Tebow might never amount to a solid NFL quarterback and if he ever does it will be through untraditional methods. Sure he can run and after Michael Vick may be the best running QB in the league, but he does not possess Vick’s arm.
Thus far Tebow is not having great success as a passer. His completion percentage is right below 50% and his passer rating is below 80.0. While those numbers aren’t inspiring to the Bronco’s management, Tebow has thrown for 9 touchdowns as opposed to 4 interceptions. Additionally, Tebow has run for 7 touchdowns.
College Basketball is set to kick off in the less than one month and last week the Atlantic 10 Conference had its annual pre-season media day. Reporters were granted access to each of the leagues 14 coaches. Additionally, the league released its coaches poll ranking the teams. The three city schools in the A-10 (Temple, St. Joe's, and La Salle) were picked to finish 2nd, 7th, and 13th respectively. I believe the Temple ranking is absolutely justifiable. The Owls have three straight conference championships and have the talent to compete with Xavier for the top spot. St. Joe's and La Salle's ranking, I'm not sold on.
Now granted, the coaches poll has been wrong before. The 2009-2010 pre-season vote had the Explorers finishing 4th. They actually finished 13th and missed the A-10 tournament entirely. The 2011-2012 Hawks and Explorers share at least one thing in common--they are both young. St. Joe's has zero seniors and only two juniors, while La Salle will only have one senior contributing major minutes in Earl Pettis. Both teams also have solid, young backcourts in Carl Jones and Langston Galloway, and Tyreek Duran and Sam Mills respectively.
After Friday's Game 5 loss to the Cardinals I was speechless. This one hurt. More than the loss to the Yankees in ’09 and even more than the uninspiring offensive display against the Giants in last year’s NLCS. I don’t believe words can accurately describe the feeling. I’m upset and angry, but I am also a little scared. If the 2011 Phillies could not win a World Series, the questions surrounding the 2012 team makes me very nervous. .
First and foremost, it is easy to place the blame of the latest defeat on the heads of the offense. And you would be correct to do so. Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz were an effective blackhole at the bottom of the order, going a combined 3-36 in the series. Ryan Howard was hitless in his final 15 at bats. In the final 20 innings of the series, the Phils mustered only 3 runs. For all the pitching this team possesses, the met the same fate as a year ago. An aging, lackluster offense made the best pitching staff in baseball look inadequate.
That is not to say the pitching staff performed up to expectations in this series. If Cliff Lee hangs on to a four run lead in game 2, this article does not get written. If Roy Oswalt performs like he was a few years younger in game 4 and holds onto the early lead, this article does not get written. However the pitching staff wasn’t perfect, but that will never excuse the offense.
Yesterday was a terrible day to be a Philadelphia sports fan. The day started with such potential: six hours in front of the TV watching the Eagles beat up on a lesser opponent in the 49ers and the Phillies going up 2-0 in the NLDS behind Cliff Lee. Neither of those happened. Both teams competed with each other to be the bigger choke artist on Sunday. This cold and dreary Monday is already bad enough to be reminded of yesterday’s shortcomings. So why focus on the bad when one Philadelphia team continues on a path of dominance.
Today’s ‘Grind’ will be less of a commentary piece and more to shed light on a team that has continued to fly under the radar. The La Salle Women’s soccer team beat Temple and St. Joe’s 5-0 and 3-0, respectively. Why (other than two solid wins over city rivals) are these victories significant, you might ask? Well with the two wins the Explorers improve to 10-0-1 on the year and remain the only NCAA (men and women’s) soccer team yet to allow a goal. Thats correct, through 11 games the team has not allowed a single goal, outscoring their opponents 23-0.
11 games into the season and the Explorer’s haven’t allowed a single goal, but still remain outside the top 25. As of last week’s rankings, released every Wednesday, La Salle was number 51. Maybe it’s the Philadelphian in me speaking, but that sounds like a snub. Granted La Salle has yet to play any other ranked teams, however that changes this Friday when the Explorer’s face-off with number 16 Dayton in what could be a landmark game for the program (which has never been to the NCAA tournament).
Thus far, the Explorer’s have been led by senior Goalie Melissa Sanger who has registered 30 saves and all 11 shutouts thus far and an outstanding defensive, which has allowed only 79 total shots. In addition to a superb backline the team has plenty of offensive firepower in sophomore Renee Washington and true freshman Kelsey Haycook. The two forwards have combined for 14 goals and 32 points through the first 11 contests. On Friday night, Haycook recorded a hat trick against Temple.
The Explorers are poised to make their first run to the NCAA tournament if they can get passed perennial power Dayton on Friday at home (McCarthy Stadium, 7 o’clock). After the contest with the Flyers, the Explorers host Xavier before finishing the season with 5 road games.
After yesterday’s loss to the Giants, Michael Vick expressed borderline blame, but clear frustration, on the officials for not protecting him with 15 yard roughing the passer penalties. Fair or unfair criticism I don’t believe the officials had any noticeable impact on the game; however, often times fans and players do believe their fate is solely in the hands of the refs. This article will attempt to answer the age old question: is it fair to blame the refs/umps for a loss?
There is a whole lot of grey area with this question, but to be fair to the reader I need to introduce myself. I officiate two sports at the high school level. During the winter months I referee both boys and girls basketball (with the hopes of one day moving up the officiating ladder) and in the spring I ump baseball. So while fans are generally biased against refs, you might consider me slightly biased for them.
Welcome to Whiz Wit's newest feature. The four staff writers will each write a commentary piece to be featured on the same day each week. My piece will be titled Monday Morning Grind and this week will focus on the major college sports shakeup over the weekend. Look for more commentary pieces by our other writers throughout the week.