Saturday, March 21, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Although Fairfield and Marist are used to squaring off in the MAAC, the Stags participate in the ECAC Lacrosse League, while the Red Foxes play in the MAAC as they do in all other sports.
The Stags were led by an outstanding performance from freshman phenom John Snellman, a Norwalk, Conn. native who scored four times in the victory. Snellman now has a team-high 10 goals on the season. Fellow Norwalk native and freshman Brent Adams added an assist, increasing his team-high points total to 12 (six goals, six assists).
It was a return to Marist for Stags first-year head coach Andy Copelan, who coached for two seasons there and posted 18 wins.
Snellman scored twice in the first 12 minutes of the game to put Fairfield ahead and the Stags then broke a 5-5 tie in the third quarter to seal the victory.
White, a senior captain, has also excelled defensively. She was named MAAC Player of the Week this week after leading the Stags with nine ground balls and three caused turnovers in their two victories over Mount St. Mary's and Lehigh. She had three groundballs against Sacred Heart.
The Stags outscored the Pioneers 12-2 in the first half, but Sacred Heart battled back with a 9-4 second half advantage, but could not get close enough to put enough pressure on Fairfield.
Fairfield has lost only once this season, at home against Yale in a devastating 11-10 overtime loss on Feb. 25. This season is following the same script of the last, when the Stags lost only to Yale before winning 17 consecutive games and then falling to Marist in the MAAC finals, costing the Stags a chance at the NCAA tournament.
Their next game comes on March 24 against Dartmouth as part of a three-game road trip. Fairfield returns home on April 3 for what could be its biggest game of the year against Marist. The Red Foxes are currently 3-1 and were selected second in the MAAC pre-season poll, behind Fairfield.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a ground out off of Fairfield starting pitcher Sam Robertson, a freshman from nearby Ridgefield, Conn. But in the bottom half of the inning the Stags jumped out to a 2-1 lead on singles by freshman Ryan Furbeck and Tyler Wosleger.
In the fifth inning UConn retook the lead when Pete Fatse hit a home run to right field, scoring three runs and giving the Huskies a 4-2 advantage. In the sixth inning the Huskies were threatening again, with runners on first and second with no outs. But shortstop Mike Olt lined into a triple play, hitting the ball to second baseman Tucker Nathans, who caught the line drive, threw to second base for a second out and then Furbeck threw on to first base for the final out.
The triple play, one of the more rare plays in sports, was the first since 1988 for the Stags. There was also a triple play turned in 2004.
UConn added a fifth run in the top of the seventh on a botched suicide squeeze attempt, when the batter missed the sign, but catcher Chris Horning dropped the pitch and the runner scored anyway. In the bottom half of the inning the Stags rallied again, with Furbeck and fellow freshman Mark Skrapits leading the way, each hitting RBI singles to pull the Stags within one run.
But that was as close as Fairfield would get.
The loss dropped the Stags to 3-8 on the year. After a rough start in Florida, the Stags have been playing better, defeating New York Tech in 10 innings on Sunday, following a 5-4 loss at St. John's the day before, when junior Bill Rafferty was thrown out at home plate in the ninth inning to end the game.
The Stags return to action tomorrow with a second away game at St. John's. After another in-state matchup with Quinnpiac at home on Thursday, the Stags start the MAAC season with three games at home against Siena this weekend.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
That would be Jeff Hironaka, the head coach at Seattle Pacific University - good lookin' guy - one of four members of the Collegiate Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament selection committee that is, as we speaking, tossing around potential candidates for the backup backup tourney's second season.
- Fairfield finished the season with an RPI of 97. With the inclusion of the CBI, 113 D-I basketball teams will qualify for postseason tournaments. Add in the brand spankin' new CollegeInsider.com tournament, which is in its inaugural season, and that total is up to 123 teams. You do the math.
- The Stags beat two teams (American and UT-Chatanooga) that won their respective conference and landed a spot in the NCAA tournament.
- Siena (26-7), who won a postseason game in the NCAA's last year and pulled off a nine-seed in this year's Big Dance, finished the season of an RPI of 19. Niagara (26-8), an NIT team, also had a very respectable RPI . Translation: The MAAC is good. Very good.
- Crazy conspiracy theory: David McLaughlin, head coach at Stonehill, is one of four on the CBI Selection Committee. Where did Ed Cooley go to college again?
Monday, March 9, 2009
As much as I hate to say it, a final other than these two would've been a disappointment - they really are the two most talented and complete teams this year. Fairfield is evolving into a top team, and Rider boasts the league's top talent, but these two are the creme of the crop.
Despite head coach Fran McCaffrey's warnings, it appears as if MAAC Player of the Year Kenny Hasbrouck will play. Hasbrouck ran into a defender yesterday against Fairfield and severely bruised his lower right leg. Will it affect the game? Based on McCaffrey's post-game reaction (When asked if Hasbrouck could have returned late in the game if it was closer and their season as in doubt, McCaffrey bluntly responded, "Absolutely not.") yesterday, I'm almost positive he will not be 100%. The kid may limp the entire game.
Check out ESPN2 (and Ben Doody's live Trentonian blog!) at 9pm for the game. That's what I'll be doing, now back in good ol' Fairfield, Connecticut.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
So let's do it all again tomorrow, shall we?
If you're interested, here's our last bit of work for the night:
- Tom Cleary has the game story from today's men's basketball game. For the first time in his three seasons as head coach of the Fairfield Stags men’s basketball team, Ed Cooley was able to walk off of the court with a smile following the MAAC quarterfinals.
- As for me, I got a little creative and look at the stark contrasts between Fairfield and Siena. A very, very different look on tomorrow's game.
- Chris Simmons looks back at the heartbreaking 62-55 loss to Canisius in the MAAC Tournament semifinals. His story is chock-ful of quotes from head coach Joe Frager and Baendu Lowenthal.
- My column, albeit a short one, looks back at the Stags' recent postseason setbacks, the fantastic work of this season's senior class, and peeks ahead to '09.
In other news, the men's basketball team huddled at 9pm this evening at the Crowne-Plaza. No word on whether it was a practice, a walk-through, or a team meeting. This much is sure: they're as excited as I've ever seen them for tomorrow's game. More updates as they come.
Anyway, as we prep our post-game coverage and our preview of the semifinals game against Siena, thought I'd share a little story: after the game, Tom Cleary, Chris Simmons, and I were chatting with WVOF's Brendan Monahan and a few other Fairfield students that made the trip up to work the tournament. Cooley, who had wrapped up his post-game press conference five minutes before, stopped by and thanked us. Thank us? Really? Humbling to hear the coach say a few nice words about our coverage.
Then he paused for a second.
"I'll see you boys tomorrow," Cooley said with a smile.
Friday, March 6, 2009
- The Times-Union's 'College Sports' blog, hosted by Pete Iorizzo and Mark McGuire. I especially love the classy courtside video preview they did yesterday. I mean, who does blog video, anyway? In all honesty, TU is going all out on its coverage.
- As if I needed to say anything else, Ben Doody is basically Mr. MAAC Basketball Coverage. 'The Trentonian' college hoops blog is second to none.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Here's a rundown of what's gone on so far:
- Player of the Year's were slam-dunks choices (Siena's Kenny Hasbrouck and Marist's Rachele Fitz). Same, at least from my perspective, for Coach of the Year (Siena's Fran McCaffrey and Canisius' Terry Zeh)
- An upset of sorts for men's Rookie of the Year, as Rider's Novar Gadson was edged by Iona's Scott Machado. Our main man, Ben Doody of 'The Trentonian,' will likely have plenty of commentary on this award, so I'll defer to him on this. I found this to basically be a toss-up. I heard some of what Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey said at the banquet, and he seemed to take the decision in stride, a far cry from his defensive press-conference on Sunday in Lawrenecville.
- Saw Fairfield and Co. at the Crowne-Plaza. Just about thirty minutes ago the women's team was assembled in the lobby, heading to a late-night walk-through and (presumably) a pep talk. I'm sure that head coach Joe Frager will have them ready to roll come 11:30am tomorrow. He even skipped tonight's banquet to continue preparation.
- A nice - and relaxed - head coach Ed Cooley made an appearance at the MAAC Championships Awards Banquet, dressed completely in black. As a Giants fan, I couldn't help but think of the team's flight to Phoenix a year ago for Super Bowl XLII, when everyone (players and coaches... and even Easy E) wore black suits and ties to take a stand against the supposed "funeral" game against the Pats. Maybe I'm overlooking it, but there could be something there. Cooley loves rallying cries.
- I'd also like to think that the team is taking on Cooley's relaxed mood. Most of the players were roaming the halls and grabbing a bite to eat at the restaurant in the lobby. We even saw Mike Evanovich get some alone time and take a dip in the pool. Hey, whatever works.
Monday, March 2, 2009
"Former Fairfield University men's lacrosse players Greg Downing and Peter Vlahakis are among 84 players nationwide selected by US Lacrosse to try out for the 2010 U.S. men's lacrosse team that will compete in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship in Manchester, England from July 10-24, 2010. The tryouts will be held from June 7-10, 2009 at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.
A 2007 graduate of Fairfield, Downing is the Stags only three-time All-America selection, having earned honorable mention following her final three seasons. Downing finished his Fairfield career fourth all-time with 101 career goals and fifth with 141 points.
Vlahakis was a 2004 participant in the USILA North/South All-Star game, following his Stags playing career. He is all over the Stags record book in the face-of category, including the all-time leader with 620 face-off victories.
Fairfield is in its fourth season as a member of the ECAC Lacrosse League. The Stags are 1-1, having earned a season opening win over Delaware, 10-9, in Andy Copelan's first game as head coach. Fairfield is home on Saturday, March 7, when it hosts ECAC foe Rutgers, at Alumni Stadium, at 1 p.m."
Here's a look at all of post-season team selections:
Scott Machado, Iona
Anthony Winbush, Loyola
R.J. Hall, Marist
Novar Gadson, Rider
Bilal Benn, Niagara
Tyrone Lewis, Niagara
Ryan Thompson, Rider
Jamal Barney, Loyola
Ryan Schneider, Marist
Benson Egemonye, Niagara
Frank Turner, Canisius
Gary Springer, Iona
Wesley Jenkins, Saint Peter’s
Marie Warner, Canisius
Baendu Lowenthal, Fairfield
Thazina Cook, Iona
Rachele Fitz, Marist
Julianne Viani, Marist
Brittane Russell, Canisius
Kelly Regan, Manhattan
Tammy Meyers, Rider
Tania Kennedy, Saint Peter’s
Heather Stec, Siena
Amanda Cavo, Canisius
Stephanie Geehan, Fairfield
Anda Ivkovic, Iona
Erica Allenspach, Marist
Liz Flooks, Niagara
Here's their unedited press conference. I'll have a column, a profile, and another random blog post later on today. Here's some things to note:
- The 'we won a lot of battles today' line
- Some lovin' for Sean Crawford
- Cooley's hilarious 'Night Before you get married analogy' to Herbie, which was then directed at me.
- A Nero update - sounds like he's going to give it a go in Albany. But Cooley referenced "a couple of active bodies". I guess that just means a well-rested group, because I can't see them forcing Peanut Johnson to play, and Warren's injury is most certainly season-ending.
Head Coach Ed Cooley
Cooley: Obviously, I’m very, very proud of our effort; of our resiliency, especially down the stretch. We just couldn’t catch that last break. Whether they had a second shot. I definitely thought we had them on the ropes. We went with our full-court pressure. We just couldn’t get that one last rebound or that one last lay-up. But we have to try to put this one behind us quick and look forward to the MAAC Tournament. It’s the old cliché, but everyone is even going up there. We may be playing on someone’s home-court, but that’s a debate for another day. So, I’m really proud of our effort, and we’re looking forward to going up to
On the maturation of the team’s new lineup
Cooley: Well, it’s the only lineup I’ve got. I think our guys have done a really good job, I’ve been saying it now for a month. When you look at all the adversity, it’s helped us all grow in a lot of ways, not just from a basketball perspective but from a life perspective. Taking advantage of opportunity when it is given, and today was another good example to grow from. We may be on the losing end, but there were a lot of winning battles in this game.
On whether the team’s new lineup has changed the team’s identity
Cooley: Yeah, I think we have. Normally my teams are physical and long and girth-y and athletic. Again, but if you lose what we’ve lost… I told you guys the last time. If there is a coach in the country that can go through what we just went through, and win the game that we’ve won and compete the way that we’ve competed… send me that CD and take me to his clinic, because I want to buy stock now. It’s frustrating in some sense and rewarding in others, because we’ve seen so many other young man step up, in particular Herbie, whose here with us fighting through everything.
On the spark Sean Crawford provided off the bench
Cooley: Yeah, we talked about that in the locker room prior to us walking up. You know, again, someone stepping in… it was the right time and the right call for him. He gave us a big, big push. Hopefully it is something that he can continue to grow on. It was the right time to put him in.
On the quick turnaround to play
Cooley: I think it is luck of the draw a little bit. Both teams are familiar with each other. I’m just glad we’re not playing Loyola. Two years in a row playing those guys up there and coming up short both times in the last possession, both games. I’m pretty sure
On the status of forward Greg Nero
Cooley: Hopefully Greg watched. He’s actually home. He’s actually home resting. We’ll probably have a word on him Monday or Tuesday on his health.
Senior guard Herbie Allen
On his mindset heading into the MAAC Tournament
HA: I’m ready. We’re ready. We just have to come out this week. Come out and work on the little things that we did not do in this game, like box-out. We didn’t really box-out and get the rebounds; second shots really hurt us today. But our team always comes out and plays hard every game. I have no doubt that we came out (today) and played 110 percent. We’ve been in almost every game, except for one (at
On whether he feels this ‘new’ Stags team can beat any team in the MAAC
HA: Absolutely, we’re going to play hard.
On whether he approaches the MAAC Tournament differently because he is a senior
HA: I’m going to approach it like these last five or six games our team has played. We are going to come out and play hard and play forty minutes a game.
Cooley: I told Herbie, it is a lot like the night before you get married… these games like that. Do you really want to step to that altar? Oh. You’re saying to yourself, “This is it.” You guys will go through that, you wait and see. Absolutely. You can tell my wife that, I still think about that now.
Session I: Thursday, March 5, 2009 - Women's First Round
#7 Rider v. #10 Niagara 12:00pm
#8 Manhattan v. #9 Loyola (Md.) 2:00pm
Session II: Friday, March 6, 2009 - Women's Quarterfinals
#2 Canisius v. Rider/Niagara 9:30am
#1 Marist v. Manhattan/Loyola 1:30pm
#4 St. Peter’s v. #5
Session III: Friday, March 6, 2009 -Men's First Round
#8 Loyola v. #9 Canisius 7:30pm
#7 Iona v. #10 Marist 9:30pm
Session IV: Saturday, March 7, 2009 - Women's Semifinals
Winner of Canisius/Play-In v. Fairfield/Siena 9:30am
Winner of Marist/Play-In v. Iona/St. Peters’ 11:30am
Session V: Saturday, March 7, 2009 - Men's Quarterfinals
Session VI: Saturday, March 7, 2009 - Men's Quarterfinals
#2 Niagara v. Iona/Marist 7:30pm
#3 Rider v. #6 St. Peter’s 10:00pm
Session VII: Sunday, March 8, 2009
Women's Championship Game (MSG) 12:00pm
Session VIII: Sunday, March 8, 2009 - Men's Semifinals
Manhattan/Fairfield v. Siena/Play-In 6:00pm
Niagara/Play-In v. Rider/St. Peter’s 8:30pm
Session IX: Monday, March 9, 2009 –
Men's Championship Game (ESPN2) 9:00pm
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Here's some post-game quotes from Lawrenceville. I'll start with Rider, where head coach Tommy Dempsey used the press conference as a formu to voice his offense regarding supposed "harsh" coverage his team has received this season and the lack of recognition they're getting in league circles. I suppose he's referring to the fact that the Broncs aren't really in conversation with the "MAAC Elite" (i.e. Siena and Niagara). But when you lose to St. Pete's and Canisius, what do you expect?
Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey:
“Again, we just found a way to win. I think that’s what this team is pretty good at. It’s not always perfect, to say the least. I thought we were pretty sloppy today. But, again, we seem to come in here and talk about how it’s not perfect, but most of the time they’re wins. I think that, as you look back now… I know the consensus seems to be that it has been an up-and-down year, but the reality is that we have 18 wins, twelve league wins in a great league – I don’t consider that an up-and-down year. I think that’s a great year. We’ve won nine of our last twelve to end the season, and four in a row. That’s what I’m trying to focus on, the positives as we head into the MAAC tournament.
On his defensive reaction and his disagreements with public perception
“I think expectations have gotten to the point that the tone of everyone is always, “Ugh. That was sloppy. That was this, that was that.” I have to defend (my players) because look what we have done. The league is great. We’re three games clear of the team that finished fourth. We have beaten everybody in the league. I do feel like I have to defend. It’s been a very good year and I don’t feel like that is getting recognized right now.
On why that is the case
Just the consensus.
On the matchups against
Well, they’re different right now. They’re big guys aren’t there. They’re playing a much quicker group and, in a strange way, they matched up (with us) a little bit better. Before the guys got hurt, they were so big and physical, and we were kind of stronger and quicker, whereas today they started a four-guard lineup and I felt they were able to guard us better. I thought their matchups, especially defensively, were better with this group versus when everybody was healthy.
On whether or not
Yeah, I think we got the ball in the paint, we dominated the glass, we went to the free throw line – those kinds of things were the difference in the game. If we took care of the ball better, I think we would’ve been in better control of the game. We were a little sloppy today. I think we threw the ball around a little too much. 22 turnovers are very uncharacteristic of our teams. I think that is what gave them a chance to hang in the game.
Rider guard Ryan Thompson
If the team is playing with a chip on their shoulder due to a lack of recognition
Not really. It really doesn’t bother us. Everybody is competitive in this league. We take every game one-step at a time and treat every game as if it is our last.
Back by popular demand, the former E-I-C and current assistant sports editor/columnist at 'The Trentonian' was nice enough to sit down and chat with me about tomorrow's game and the state of our teams heading into tourney time. Ben's likely to be helping us (and maybe even crashing with us) with our wall-to-wall covearge in Albany, so be ready for plenty of quality input and insight come next weekend.
And without further adu...
Here's the Q's:
1. What is the fundamental difference between Rider now and the Rider team we saw at Alumni Hall in late January?
2. If Siena and Niagara are 1 and 1A in the MAAC, is Rider the hands-down "next best"?
3. Post-season Awards: Is Ryan Thompson a first-team All-MAAC selection? Gadson a possible ROY?
4. Just by looking at season results, it seems as if the Broncs have been a bit streaky and an enigma (wins vs. Niagara and Siena, losses to Canisius, SPC). What gives?
5. If Rider is to make a noise in Albany next week, (blank) must happen and (blank) must step up. [I think you know where I'm going with there. Any predictions are fine. Be as creative as you'd like.]
OT:1. It's baseball season... any bold AL East Predictions?