Monday, November 30, 2009

Sportsman of the Year

Derek Jeter was named SI's Sportsman of the Year. This is the first time Jeter has earned the honor. He's actually the first Yankee to ever be named the sportsman of the year. Jeter had another phenomonal year, finishing third in MVP voting, winning the gold glove, silver slugger and of course the biggest accomplishment of all, winning the 2009 World Series. Jeter of course would put aside the personal accolades for earning his fifth ring. It was refreshing not to hear him say the season was a failure for not winning the world series.
Jeter himself was thrilled to be the winner of the award. He most likely beat out the likes of Florida QB Tim Tebow and the Los Angeles Laker's Kobe Bryant.
Remember 2009 was the year of Jeter in the world of baseball.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hokies Defeat Hoos

The Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the University of Virginia Cavilers 42-13.

The game was much closer then the score dictated. At halftime, the Hokies were only leading by one point, with a score of 14-13. The team did not really gain momentum until a fumble by the Cavs in the middle of the third quarter.

The Hokies were led by freshman running back Ryan Williams who scored 4 touchdowns and rushed for over 100 yards for the ninth time this season. The Hokies will wait for to see which Bowl Game they will be attending in the upcoming weeks. It will most likely be the Chik-Fil-A Bowl or the Gator Bowl.

The University of Virginia is expected to part ways with Head Coach Al Groh, who has been at the school for the past 9 seasons. Groh, a native son of the university, has suffered losing seasons in 4 of the past 5 years. It will be interesting to see how the university handles the whole situation and who will be Groh's replacement.

UPDATE: Groh was fired by the University, Monday following their 3-9 season.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freshman Class Brings Talent, Size to Replace Seniors

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will rely on significant contributions from a new crop of talented freshmen this season.

Tech has four true freshmen in Manny Atkins, Ben Boggs, Erick Green and Cadarian Raines, who are looking to make an impact on the team coming off the bench.

Head coach Seth Greenberg believes several of the freshmen will receive playing time early and often this season.

“I think the biggest challenge for freshmen is to play at the pace you need to play at to be successful at this level,” Greenberg said.

Atkins, who will split time at guard and forward, hails from Stone Mountain, Ga. Like many freshman players, he’s having a difficult time making the transition to college ball in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Right now, Manny is competing for playing time, but he’s got a great work ethic and great attitude and does have the ability to take shots,” Greenberg said.

Boggs, a 6-foot-4-inch graduate of Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke will receive significant playing time. After missing the majority of his senior year with a broken leg, Boggs has impressed Greenberg and his teammates in practices.

“He’s a really smart basketball player that understands the game,” Greenberg said. “He’s got toughness about him. He’s got a great work ethic, and he’s actually a solid defender.

“He’s definitely hitting shots, he’s tough on defense, he’s going to help us out a lot,” said junior guard Malcolm Delaney.

Green, a 6-foot-4-inch guard from Winchester, may receive the most playing time out of the entire freshman class. Green will be a key player both on and off the floor for the team.
“Erick Green has the potential to be a great leader,” said junior forward Terrell Bell.

“He’s very unselfish, and he looks for other players,” said Tech small forward J.T. Thompson.

Green’s primary role will be as a backup at point guard.

“He’s got a really good feel for the game,” Greenberg said. “He sees the game and the floor really well. He should be an outstanding defender.”

Raines, a forward from Petersburg, will look to help the team out only after he gets healthy. He broke his fifth metatarsal in his left foot, more commonly known as a Jones fracture, early in preseason practice.

“Hopefully when he gets healthy he can come back and get up to speed,” Greenberg said. “He’s missed four weeks now and will miss at least an additional four weeks or more.”

Raines is still in the process of rehabilitating his foot, but upon his return, he will be a tremendous force for the Hokies lineup at 6 feet, 9 inches.

“He’s a big physical guy that can block shots and rebound the ball,” Greenberg said.

“Cadarian, right now you know he had the foot surgery, but he’s a big body in the post, physical under the basket,” Bell said.

For now, Atkins, Boggs, Green and Raines are still making the adjustments necessary to be successful in the ACC.

“They’re talented, but they still don’t know what’s going on sometimes,” Thompson said. “Like, defensive mess-ups — like we switch all the time and they don’t know when to switch, when not to.

“So, just being at practice and letting them know when’s a good time to do it, when’s a good time to go to trap. ... You’ve got to be here to see that and see what’s going on, so just little stuff like that.”
Although the freshmen will experience growing pains, the team hopes the incoming freshmen will pay off with a bright future.

- from my article published to day in The Collegiate Times ( )

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Young Recruits Shine Early For Women's Soccer

Here's my latest story for The Collegiate Times.

The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team is having one of its most successful years in the program’s history.

Much of its success can be attributed to contributions from the team’s freshman class and, in particular, midfielder Kelly Conheeney and forward Kelsey Mitchell.

Conheeney and Mitchell are both receiving significant playing time, as they have each started 20 of 21 games of the season.

Overall, the team has eight freshmen, and head coach Kelly Cagle said each has significantly impacted the team on and off the field.

“They’re ready to buy in and be contributors and also be supportive of the stuff that was built prior to coming,” Cagle said. “That’s always a hard transition to make, so I have a lot of respect for both their on and off the field contributions for us.”

Both Conheeney and Mitchell are from outside the state of Virginia and were heavily recruited out of high school. After visiting Tech, both girls liked the family atmosphere that the team had as well as the resources the school offered.

“Once I met the coaching staff and the girls, I knew I wanted to come here,” Mitchell said.

“I just got the feeling that when I was here that this was it and this is where I wanted to be,” Conheeney said.

Adjusting to a sport at the collegiate level can be difficult for any athlete, especially as a freshman, but the transition for the girls has been relatively smooth.

“They’re all really good soccer players, so it’s been easy for them to adjust,” said senior forward Robin Chidester.

“They’ve been really welcoming and open to the leadership they have come into, and I think that’s a really big part of the process,” Cagle said. “They’re respectful but also go-getters.”

The highlight so far this season was when the team defeated the then No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels.

“We were really prepared and focused and put everything into it,” Conheeney said. “When we came out with the win, it was the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Defender Julia Goldsworthy and forward Sloane Levin have also had significant playing time along with Conheeney and Mitchell. With the girls getting plenty of early action as freshmen, they’re gaining experience that will be beneficial for future teams.

“The earlier you get in the games, especially with the season we’re having now, having got to the 12 wins, having the amount of wins we have in the conference, the most we’ve had,” Cagle said. “Their experience is even different than three or four years ago, had they been freshmen then. We’re going to rely on some of that (experience) and rely on the expectation to have seasons like this year in and year out.”

With several seniors graduating, these key freshmen will be tasked with continuing to build a Tech program that is fast on the rise.

“Losing the seniors will be kind of a bummer,” Mitchell said, “but we’re all just going to grow and hopefully improve on everything we need to improve on individually and as a team.”

For now, the goal of the entire team is to finish out the season playing just as well as it did in the UNC game.

The Hokies finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season standings and defeated No. 10 Wake Forest last weekend in the conference tournament before losing to No. 6 Florida State in the semifinals.

The team received a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play the first round in the UCLA bracket against Murray State.

“I know we’re capable of anything after beating the number one team in the country,” Conheeney said. “If we play at our best, we’re the best team out there. We need to not think about the other opponent but think about what we need to do and we’ll be in good shape.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

#27 - Here at last

It finally happened. Nine years after their last championship, The New York Yankees are kings of the baseball universe once again. The Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 7-4 in six games last night.
Andy Pettitte pitched like he always does in big game situations: Phenomenally. In fact, Pettitte won every clinching game in each of the three rounds of the playoffs this season. Even though he did not have his best stuff, Pettitte pitched 5 2/3 effective innings, giving up only 3 earned runs that came off of Ryan Howard's first home run of the season. Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte and of course Mariano Rivera finished the game up for Pettitte. Rivera needed to get 5 outs for the non-save situation.
World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, had a monster game. Matsui had 6 rbi's after hitting a 2 run home run and a double to drive in the runs. Matsui may have played his last game as a yankee but it surely was one of his best ones. He was the first full-time DH to win the MVP award, after starting only three of the games, and pinch hitting in game 3.
The core four returned to their glory by winning the ring for their thumb's. Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, and Posada all looked truly elated to be back holding the championship trophy. Posada said this title was for the boss, George Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner was absent from last night's victory, after attending the festivities of game one.
The Yankees had many veteran players who earned their first rings after numerous seasons in the big leagues. Players like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Nick Swisher.
Finally, none of this would have been possible without second-year manager Joe Girardi. Girardi loosened up significantly this season with the club, and the media. He even cancelled practice one day during spring training to take the players to a pool tournament. Girardi trusted his players and coaches more this year and it was visible with his eased up style this season. Of course, he had the help of players like Swisher, Sabathia and Burnett to loosen up the atmosphere of the clubhouse.
Tomorrow the team will have one more time to celebrate the series win with the Victory Parade down the Canyon of Heros parade, in downtown New York City. Check back for pictures.