I'm still here

Just wanted you guys to know I didn't forget about you or this blog. Been busy in the office the last few days. Going to have a notebook coming soon, and a cool feature on a CCSU athlete who's been doing big things.
No ETA on the other thing. It's going to happen though, I checked with one of my sources to confirm it. Just waiting for it to come together. Hopefully soon, I want to write it (and stop teasing you all about it) as much as you want to read it.

Never forget

Just a quick thought. I was watching ESPN, and I saw the Saints are home tonight. More importantly, I saw that it was being treated as a football game.
That's important. There's a long way to go to rebuild New Orleans, but the fact that this game is important as much because the Saints need a win as it is because the city needs some good vibes is a good sign.
Or maybe it means we have short attention spans. So if you get a chance, find U2 and Greenday from the night they reopened the Superdome. It will give you chills. Then read the story I wrote about what CCSU did to raise money for the relief efforts. It was touching stuff.
More importantly, remember that there are always people who need our help and that, in the grand scheme of things, there are bigger things in the world than who wins the football game tonight.

Here's the link to that story I wrote: http://www.newbritainherald.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=15193140&BRD=1641&PAG=461&dept_id=594835&rfi=8

Another quickie

Lots of stuff coming in the next week or so, but just a couple of thoughts today.

1) I hope the person who emailed me on Friday night to yell at me for telling you all to go see the women's soccer team on the day of its letdown was there Sunday. Yes, Friday was a clunker. I've seen CCSU lose a few times over the years, but that was the first time I ever saw the Devils fail to show up.
But the opposite was the case on Sunday. They lost to a very good Yale team (two of Yale's losses are to nationally-ranked teams), but controlled play at times and obviously were into the game full throttle. If they play like that all year, they'll win a lot of games. And if the team I saw on Sunday shows up in the NCAAs (assuming a lot, I know) some big-name team is going to have its hands full.

2) I was going to mention this Friday, but I got sidetracked. Then something came up again that reminded me of it. I have to thank, as I try to do publicly once a season, Tom Pincince, Jason Stronz and the SID staff at CCSU. They help me in about 2,576 ways per year, and are a big part of why I'm able to do what I do. It could be as simple as getting my computer wired up on the road (I'm lucky if I can turn one on, never mind get an Internet connection) to helping me research a stat.
They don't do it to get their names in the paper or on a blog, but they deserve a mention. They were there again this weekend, and it made me remember to give thanks.

I've been fortunate to meet a lot of great people on this beat, from C.J. down through his staff to the coaches to guys you don't hear much about like Tom (current radio star) and Jason (future radio star) and Steve Villanti and a bunch of others. They are all helpful professionally and good people in general.

O.K., off my soapbox for the day. I'll be doing non-Central stuff for work on Monday, and I expect nothing in the way of news, so I probably won't blog again until Tuesday. But as always, is something comes up, I'll be on it.

Final tally

Sorry for the delay, had to finish my story. Well, other than the fact that they got out of it healthy and they didn't get totally destroyed, there's not too much to say about this one. Central played a better team and gave that team every chance to pull away. You can't do that and expect to be in the game.
I truly think things would have been different without the fumbles early, but I'm not sure it would have been enough for a win. Still, it's a good chance for the kids who get to play at the highest level.
Now the focus turns to the NEC. The real season starts two weeks from tonight.

First half thoughts

Well, there are only two. What a shame, and good job anyway.

Since the hideous start, it's 14-7 WMU. The problem is it was already 17-0. In Gameday I wrote that Central needed to avoid a bad start or risk being blown out, but if they played their game, the Blue Devils could certainly compete with WMU.

Unlike last week, I was right this time. Central has shown they can play with these guys, but it's likely too late. I would have loved to have seen what happened with a better start. The next 30 minutes are about pride now. You can hang around or you can get embarrassed. That would be my speech right now if I were coach Mac.

Some clarification

So I was reading a CCSU message board, and apparently I'm big enough now that people are curious about what I said on the blog the other day.
First off, thanks so much to all of you who not only have read this thing, but have taken an interest. Like I always say, I'm doing this for you guys. I don't get paid extra, so the only reason to keep it going is if you guys find it worthy.
Second, I feel badly if I've teased you guys about that story I've mentioned a couple times. My intention was to keep you informed, not mess with you. It is coming, my guess is this coming week. I'm waiting for an interview and one other thing. But I was saying it's coming to give you a heads up, not to be a jerk about it.
Like I said last week, I'm learning this whole blogging thing.
So to prove my good faith, let me tell you what the story is not. I saw the list of options in one post on the CCSUFans board. And again, I hope this comes across as helpful, not as a game or torture.
While this story is going to answer some questions I get asked all the time, it's not anything that's going to be picked up nationally. CCSU isn't joining the Big East (though it should, everyone else has). Bobby Knight isn't going to replace coach Dickenman (nor would I make that trade, personally).
It is something I know those who read this blog will be interested in, which is why I brought it up in the first place, but I wanted to make sure I didn't get you too worked up.

What to Watch For

Big notebook in the paper (and on the Herald website) Thursday.
Also, check out the Foudy story online for the full version. For space reasons, not everything I write gets into the paper, but it all goes online where we have unlimited room.

Also, that big story I teased is coming soon. Have an interview or two to do, but got the commitments to do them, so I've gone from hoping to have the story to I'm definitely going to have it. So it's coming soon. Hopefully I can answer some of the questions you've been asking me.

Women's soccer is home Friday and Sunday, with Sunday's game against Yale a big deal. I'd really encourage you to come out and see what is among the most successful programs at CCSU.

This is shaping up to be a big Fall. Volleyball looks good, women's soccer is doing its yearly improvement as the season goes on. Men's soccer has some good talent and size, while the football team has a chance to do something special on Saturday night and through the NEC season. I'm going to be a busy boy.

Quick Update

The notebook will be pushed back a day because I'm covering a pretty cool event at Central tonight instead. We'll have the notebook before the game (good stuff on Jo Jo, I swear) and of course a full preview on Saturday morning. Plus I'll blog some thoughts on the game before it takes place.
I can't do worse in my prediction than I did last week, right?

Quick hitters

O.K., so I'm home watching Raw, the Sox collapse and the Yanks (I'm not much of an NFL guy), so I thought I'd put up a couple tidbits.

Got this link sent to me from one of the people who makes me look smart, good pics from the game Saturday.


Not surprised to see Jo Jo honored. It was well-deserved. More coming about him I believe in Wed.'s paper, if not Thursday. I'll let ya know when it's in.

Very good sign to see the NEC volleyball honors not only continuing to go to Blue Devils, but to young players. Bodes well not only for this year, but the future. Lauren Snyder and Amanda Bayer don't look like freshmen at all.


I meant to make this the end of the previous post:

I'll be off most Mondays and Wednesdays, so I won't be posting much (if at all) on those days unless something big comes up. But don't worry, if anything ever breaks, we'll have it, even if I'm supposed to be off. I'm crazy like that.

Thanks as always for coming by this site. Hope you're enjoying it. Let me know what else you'd like me to add, and send me some more questions to fire away at (or to someone.) The response so far has been great, and I think you're going to like some things we're working on.

I'll tease you with this one little tidbit:
I've been working hard to get a specific answer (and a big story in the paper) on one of the questions I get asked the most by Blue Devil fans. I can't tell you when I'll have it (because I don't know, not because I'm hiding something), but I hope it's soon.
If so, it'll be in the paper, but I'll make sure you guys know where and when to look.

Enjoy this weather.

Random stuff

More coming for this week (check the notebook, likely in Wednesday's paper, there's good stuff this week), just wanted to check in so you guys didn't think I forgot about you.
Nice job by the women's soccer team Sunday. They're going to be, as always, tough to beat the longer they're together. By November, no one will want to play them.
Mick D'Arcy and Charlie Hickey remind me of each other in that way. Both have a knack of getting their teams playing their best come NEC Tournament time.
By the way, at the risk of sounding like an advertisement for the school, more of you really should come check out the soccer programs. For those who often complain about weak schedules in other sports, the women's soccer team will and does play everyone willing to give it a game. I write "nationally-ranked opponent" in reference to them more than anyone else.
Coach Green, back to full-health, has worked hard to get a buzz going around his men's program. He's working hard to get a student section, similar to what hoops teams do, set up and has brought in some sponsors. Hopefully the crowds won't wait until basketball season (or until the new fields are built) to come to New Britain.


Well, I was half right. It was windy, but that didn't stop the Devils' offense. 56 points and very impressive. The Blue Devils mixed the run with some well-timed passing to have an awesome attack.
I think, if Jeff McInerney were to draw up his perfect scenario, today would be how he'd like the offense to look. Those who are wishing Central would open up the offense to a significant degree shouldn't hold their breath: the Blue Devils are never going to look like the Colts.
But what they can do is set up passes by lulling teams into waiting for the run. The ball Ryan Holmes threw today was a perfect example. The whole defense bit up the middle, waiting for him to charge, and he dumped it ahead into the vacated middle of the field. Perfectly done. Between that and Aubrey Norris showing off both aspects of his game, you saw how the CCSU offense can work at its finest.
The defense did not have its best game today, but with the game such a rout, it's hard to judge.
The special teams were brilliant on everything but kick return coverage. It sounds like nitpicking, but letting a team start close to midfield is never helpful.
Anyway, if you get a chance, please check out my full breakdown in the paper Sunday. You know what happened, but hopefully I gave you some little tidbits in there that you either didn't catch or didn't think about (like the fact that CCSU never punted on Saturday).
We'll have a notebook later in the week, too. That will focus on Alondre Rush's excellent adventure the last two weeks, Jo Jo Freeman showing what he learned from a certain other back, and a couple of other nuggets.
Over 4,000 in the building on Saturday, great to see. Thanks as always for reading. Keep the suggestions coming, I'm learning when it comes to the blogging part (and some would say the writing part).

Packed house

I'm writing this about eight minutes from kickoff... place appears to be jammed (tough to gauge noise or excitement level from the box here at Arute, which is closed off, but walking in it was wild.) There was a band (besides the school band) in the parking lot, some tailgaiting, and there appeared to be a ton of students here.
I didn't notice many SCSU fans on my way upstairs, but I'm sure they're here.
Let's do this.

Wind a factor?

Just saw that it's going to be windy Saturday, which could play havoc on offense and make the kicking game that much more important.
Instinct says that helps SCSU with Toles, but Central can run the ball, too. It should help the fans for sure. Games where both teams want to run tend to have two traits. They tend to be close, which will make it exciting, and they tend to go fast.
Personally, I enjoy defensive battles and low-scoring games where one adjustment or one play call can be the difference. This strikes me as one of those games.
Have fun, be safe. I'll definitely blog after the game (don't forget to read the Herald Sunday for the full breakdown) and I'll do it before the game if there's anything worth mentioning.

The first batch of questions

Already have a couple of questions sent in. Really appreciate the response, hope this works out to be informative for you guys and fun for me.
I'll do this first set of a couple as kind of an open-ended bit. Translation: I got these questions tonight and am posting what I know. As I get more info in later weeks, we'll revisit these topics, so don't be afraid to ask the same question again. Eventually I'll be able to give you a better answer.
One bit of a disclaimer before we begin. This won't happen often, maybe only a couple of times a season per sport, but there are times when I get told things that are what we call "off the record" That means I know it, but can't say it. For the purposes of these questions, I'll try and avoid those topics if the need arises. It doesn't happen often. I'll never EVER intentionally give you a wrong answer in these Q and A's, but if I have more details a few days after I answer your question, don't yell at me. Remember that I have to keep sources happy in order to get you more info down the line.
With that said, here's the first quick batch. Since I haven't yet checked on some of the answers and am going off what I know, they're more observations than answers. But the more you ask, the more I know what questions you guys want answered, which helps us both.
1) I'd be surprised if CCSU and SCSU kept this series going for very long, as the game doesn't seem to do much for either school. It draws a big crowd though, so if the Blue Devils continue to play a "lower level" team, SCSU might be it. There's nothing official yet, and the last I checked the '08 schedule wasn't near completion. I'll check again soon, though.
By the way, speaking of Saturday, here's a preview of the preview story for Saturday's paper. Southern is good, better than you may even think. This won't be easy.
2) Could the Blue Devils play at the Rent? I bet they would take the game. In fact, I'm pretty darn sure they would. Will they? My take is that would be up to the school up north. Again, this is just an opinion, but I think a lot could come from this Western Michigan game in terms of future scheduling. The Blue Devils have shown the willingness to play anyone, but the game has to make sense for them to be worth it, unless they get a huge guarantee. In other words, if the Devils get killed, it might be awhile before they make another leap that big. If they play well, they might try to get more games along those lines.
I think I covered it all for now, and this is getting long. Thanks again for the support. This thing won't work without you making it worth while. So keep the questions coming, or I'll just start telling you how my day was and what I had for dinner.

Scheduling conflicts

Very rarely does one team get to be David and Goliath in the same season, let alone in a seven-day stretch, but that's what happens to CCSU's football team over the next week. Saturday, it plays the role of Goliath against SCSU. Then it's out to Kalamazoo for the Blue Devils' first game against a FBS team (I think the NCAA will let us go back to 1 and 1-AA soon, at least I hope so).
No matter what the outcomes are, the Blue Devils certainly can't be accused of ducking anyone. They took on Towson, they're playing a tough game against a very good team this week in SCSU despite the risks of "playing down" and then are going to meet Western Michigan.
By the way, no truth to the rumor that the Devils tried to play Michigan instead, I checked.
I'm kidding of course, but the plight of the Wolverines does shed light upon the task facing Central this week. Win, and you did your job. Lose and, while it's not on the level of App. St. in the Big House, it's certainly going to make some waves around these parts.
But this is what growing programs like the Blue Devils have to do to make their mark. The Devils have made it clear that they'll play anyone, anywhere, up, down or even. The only problem is, if they do too well as David, they might have a hard time finding more Goliaths until they're ready to be one. After all, I don't think Georgia Southern or Michigan will be asking for rematches anytime soon.

An intro and ideas

First of all, welcome to Blog Central. My name is Matt Straub, your CCSU beatwriter for the Herald and now a blogger. We've been eager to get this up and running for some time, and I hope this will serve several purposes.

I'm looking forward to giving you extra news and notes that don't make the paper, some thoughts that don't necessarily fit into the confines of the weekly notebook and some of the atmosphere from my road trips with various teams. Hopefully I'll be able to provide you not only with the 'what happened and why' that I try to get to in the paper, but with some sense of what it was like to be there.

But I don't want this to be about me. I'll tell you as much as I can, but I'd like this to be a way for you, the Blue Devil fans, to get better informed. Have a story idea? Let me know. Have a question? I'll give it my best shot. If I get enough good questions I can either answer or ask someone for you, we can post mailbags and the like. It will also help us shape our coverage going forward. I'm here to serve you all, remember. So if you have a question, send it to mstraubblog@hotmail.com. (I'll try and get something catchier and easier to remember set up as we go.)

I'm new to this format, so help me out with these blogs as well. If you like something or hate something, let me know.

See you all at Arute on Saturday. Come early, word is that it's going to be packed.