Simmons update

I have a bunch of thoughts on both hoops teams I'll post tonight, but I wanted to squash one rumor out there.
I checked today, and Dave's absence at ASU was a coach's decision. He's not ineligible from what I was told.
Anyway, more to come after I get home and eat.

Back from break

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate.
Second, man oh man am I glad to be back healthy and having things to blog about with break over!
Here's the schedule:
Men's preview in Monday's paper, breakdown of what happened on here during the week most likely. Don't forget the women are home Wed. afternoon, and my oh my are they improved.
I'll have other stuff during the week as events warrant/allow.
For now, back to the blogging full time, break is over!

Happy snow day!

Some thoughts heading into Princeton on this snowy Friday.
First off, hope all of you have a wonderful holiday.
Second, the game IS ON Saturday.
Princeton is down, but the Princeton offense is fun to watch and it will be interesting to see how Central defends it. Go outside on the shooters and watch a cutter go through the back door. Sag back to prevent cuts and watch the 3-pointers rain down.
CCSU will have to keep the Tigers from moving players and the ball. The key to defending them making them go where you want and keeping them out of any flow. Finally, CCSU is going to have to shoot better. Hopefully the shooters are there and that opens up Dave, Ken and Marcus inside.
Let's go play in the snow.

Thoughts on the week and fandom

Ok, first off I'm sorry I've slacked on this. I got out of the habit once I went to the hospital and have to get back into the groove of this thing. I will.
The recent losses to me prove one thing: Central is going to have to get more out of its bench. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Central needs more scoring options to take the heat off Joe and Ken. Aaron can be a spark off the bench, and needs to harness his energy to become a solid contributer more consistently.
Marcus, as evidenced by his stretch run last year, can be a beast on the boards while showing a deft scoring touch. I'm pretty sure we'll so those things from him at some point this year. January would be a nice time to start.

2) The second is simple, the fatigue factor. It was a special group in 2007 that went basically 7 deep. The Blue Devils CAN win playing 6, but it sure would be nice to get that total up to 8 or so. At some point, someone's going to need a break. Shemik in particular. And that's in no way a shot at him, it's just that he's playing the toughest position, bangs himself around, and doesn't have a true backup yet.

This team is young, and I firmly believe will close out games next year. This team has the potential to win a LOT of games next year. It will learn to finish off some of these games and get a few more wins. Does that mean 30-5? No. Does it mean they could upset some people> Yes.

Remember, Howie does a great job prepping the guys for NEC play by finding anyone he can to play his guys before NEC play starts. I know some of you will hate to hear this, but in a one-bid league, November and December games really are the preseason. It's great to win those games to avoid the PIG in March, but it's more important to learn about the team and get some experience during those games.

As for the fanatic debate: The truth is somewhere in the middle. I love when people are deeply passionate about Central. That's the kind of fan the Blue Devils need more of. People who will come no matter who they're playing and care about the team even during the tough times. Look at the bandwagon crash UConn is suffering from right now. The diehards who are there all the time are the real fans, and the ones the program should care about the most.

However, being a die-hard doesn't give you licence to go crazy. You have to look at the games almost from a gambling perspective. There are games Central is a big underdog in going into the games and games they should win. Being a die-hard and hoping the best for your team doesn't mean you should overshoot expectations. Would it have been nice if CCSU had held on at Rhody? It would have been huge. But it would have been a big upset. That team had Duke dead to rights. (They would get killed 9 of 10 times, but on that day they played great) and has one of the best shooters in the country.

It was great the way CCSU hung in against BC, and I think the last 10 minutes, when the Devils prevented the game from getting ugly with a couple of tough-minded runs to keep the game under 20, set the tone for the rest of the year. That stretch sparked the comeback against Albany and some of the big efforts Central has given those die-hards this year.

So remember: passion is great, as long as it's realistic. Central isn't joining a bigger conference anytime soon, there's no giant stadium coming, and the basketball team isn't going to go undefeated. You can get upset about bad losses. CCSU was up 4 with 62 seconds left against Colgate, it never should have come down to a last shot. You could even say they should have won at Albany. But don't lose sight of the times CCSU is the underdog. Albany would have been an upset on the road. URI would have been a big upset.

Be a die-hard, but be objective and realistic. Know when your team should win and know when you're just being greedy. And be thankful for the good efforts you're getting out of a young team that will only get better.

And as always, enjoy the Ken Horton Show.

I'm alive For 3!

I did the preview for the URI game, didn't get to do because I had to be in the office, but I watched it on the cpu and will have some thoughts for you guys soon. Truth be told, I got out of the blogging habit while I was sick, but I'll get back into it. Look for some stuff Monday.

Previewing UMBC

We're back to our normal operating procedure. We'll have a preview of the UMBC game in Wednesday's paper and something on it the following day. I'll have a leadup to Saturday as well. URI should be VERY interesting.
For now, some tidbits: Coach wants more out of Marcus, can't say enough good things about David Simmons and was very impressed by the toughness his team has showed in recent weeks. This is a team that by right should be 5-2, maybe 6-1. If it keeps playing this well on the road especially, it will be the kind of good year I originally predicted in New Britain.

Back on track.

Ok, first off, thanks to all the fine men and women at Hartford Hospital who put me back together again. All the nurses there are great, and Dr. Lui took good care of me.
I'm glad to be back with you guys.
Secondly, thanks to you guys for the kind words, and to everyone at Central who checked in.
Third: Thanks to the amazing staff we have here at the Herald, led by the great Ryan Pipke. He did a great job covering CCSU and keeping the place running without me, while Andrew Lovell ran around taking care of our holes while we were shorthanded and he and Ken Lipshez dominated high school coverage in typical Herald fashion.
The sports dept. wouldn't still be standing without those guys.
I don't have too much to add about the games, though I did listen on the radio so I'm not entirely out of touch. Both games that took place while I was out were turned around by defense.
Holding Delaware to one point down the stretch of the first half let the Devils back in it, and Howie waiting until it mattered most to spring the zone on the Mount was a brilliant move. Lots of coaches would have sprung it too early and ruined its effectiveness. Coach Dickenman picked his spot and it worked perfectly.
I stand by my opinion of Joe. He works hard and won't ever get down because he struggled in the previous games. For a team that is considered small to get a pair of o-rebounds in the final seconds was huge. Simmons is back to form, great to see.
So what's new since I saw everyone last?

Happy Thanksgiving

First off, a quick bit of business: Ktuck: I'm waiting for word on the women's recruits... I'm assuming there's some kind of logistical hangup, which often happens on these things.

Now, onto the important things. As much as I enjoy a good high school rivalry and will watch tons of college hoops today, I hope we all understand that Thanksgiving is more about giving thanks for what we have.

It's been a rough time for me and my colleagues at The Herald, though we're hoping everything works out for the best. Yet I still can't get too down. I have an incredible family who has helped me through (and put up with) a less than normal situation for 30 years.

And my "job"? Even if we folded tomorrow and this were to be my last job in journalism (neither of which I believe will happen), I've been blessed to be able to watch sports and argue with you guys about them and call it "work" for most of my adult life.

More importantly, I have wonderful people around me who I love to get me through jams, enjoy good times or just look at the leaves with. I have a roof over my head at night. In the end, that's all you an ask for.

Could things be better or clearer? Always. But trust me, I get how lucky I am and how thankful I need to be for how good things are, even if they don't always seem it.

To all of you who have read this blog and my stuff in the paper, know that you all are among the things I'm thankful for. You don't know how much you are appreciated.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

There should be a couple of stories leading up to Sunday's game by the way.

Back from brief hiatus

It's amazing how quick the days go by. I blogged Sunday, was off Monday, the game was Tuesday and it's Wednesday already now.

Anyway, last night's game:

I think coach is right, there's no one that people associated with the program root harder for than Joe, because he's among the nicest kids on the planet and a hard worker. Also, having someone make outside shots helps open up the inside (with Kenny, Marcus and Dave providing the opposite, opening up the outside.)

A good win (a NEEDED win) against a team CCSU matched up well with. We'll see how they respond Sunday. Another win could get the ball rolling a bit.

When Central plays defense, good things happen. When the Devils run, better things happen. When they rebound, great things happen. That's the key to the rest of the season right there.

A quick thought on some stuff I read around the Blue Devil Nation in the last couple of days: Fans have a tendency to look at things in snapshots and not big picture. You can't possibly judge what the team is going to be before Thanksgiving. It just doesn't work.

Football is a week-to-week, do or die kind of sport. Basketball, like baseball, is a process. Especially at this level, when, and this isn't what some people are going to want to hear from what I read, the conference season is everything.

Would it have been nice if Central had won those two games it lost at the buzzer? Yes. Is it the difference between a 16 in March and a 12? No. Now, you don't want to lose all your non-league games or you'll be on the way to Dayton, but a bad week doesn't make or break the season.

With that said, and as I think I said about the football team when this came up, it's a complete insult to everyone involved to even imply that CCSU isn't trying to win its non-league games. Of course they tried to beat Colgate... the kid made a shot (with two defenders near him I might add). And how can it be said that they weren't trying when they came from 18 down with 15:30 left to take the lead on the road at Albany? The kids were HEARTBROKEN after that game. I saw it in their faces as they left the locker room.

Say they should have played better. Rip the coaching if you want (though you'd be out of your mind). But don't ever, ever say that CCSU treats the non-conference games as glorified practices, because it's not true. I've seen too many hard-fought games not to know better.

As for the Baskerville question: He was battling a foot problem early in the year, and there's also a numbers game up front. Marcus can score, Dave can rebound, Hall has earned time and Horton is probably the best player in the league. There's not a lot of room right now for too many bench players, though know this: No one's spot is safe. You'll see guys play and not play as the year goes and how they go.

It happened again!?!?!


Just wow.

You try not to root for a team you cover so you can stay objective, but it's impossible not to feel bad for this group of kids. Three times in their last five regular season games, this group of Blue Devils (freshmen not included) have lost either at the buzzer or in the final seconds.

You wish better for a group of genuinely nice kids. You selfishly wish better for the team you cover because wins are always more fun to write about and get better publicity for you and the paper you cover. People like to read about winners.

When Ambrose's shot went up tonight I found myself truly rooting for a positive outcome for the second time since I took this beat. The first was the time the women's soccer team played at the Q a couple of years ago without some of their best players and with the playoffs on the line. The players had been suspended for a rules violation, and Mick D'Arcy picked the right thing over winning. When CCSU won the game anyway and went to the playoffs on a goal from someone who wasn't even a soccer player, justice had prevailed and I was genuinely happy that a coach who did things the right way was rewarded.

Tonight was the 2nd time. I wasn't rooting because I wanted to get to cover a winner. And I certainly wasn't rooting against Mr. Ambrose, who played brilliantly. And the more I think of it, maybe you can't even call what I was feeling "rooting."

All I know for sure is that Ken Horton deserved better tonight. Shemik Thompson deserved better. Robby Ptacek didn't deserve his fate. This team that has showed itself over three games to be a gutty bunch of never-say-die players and over the last year-plus to be nice people deserves a break. Just once, this group deserves to be on the other side of a gut-wrencher.

I still believe that Central is going to be a really good team. Maybe I was wrong (or at least ahead of myself) and the Devils are still a year away. But at some point, next week or next year, this team is going to take their frustrations out on someone. There are lots of wins ahead, and I become more convinced every day that the NEC Player of the Year award will someday be called the "Ken Horton Trophy."

I'll be back to my old objective, analytical self tomorrow. For now, I just find myself feeling sick for those kids. The basketball gods owe them a couple.

Back for more

It was a quiet couple of days in DevilLand, so I haven't been blogging.

Tonight was a great win for the women. Shontice Simmons looks like a player, and the other kids have another year under their belts. I'm not saying they're going to be nationally ranked, don't get me wrong, but this team is going to be more competitive this year. Come March it will have a shot at the NECs.
Lots of credit has to go to the returning players, who have meshed into the group and don't seem to be sulking about some freshmen getting big minutes. Could be an interesting group.

I'll be at UA on Saturday, so lots to write about this weekend. The volleyball team is at the NECs as well.

By the way, saw myself mentioned on the board today in relation to the auction they're doing on CCSU's site. Absolutely, feel free to say hi to me during the game if you're so inclined, I'd be happy to talk to ya. The only time I need to be left alone is right after the game, when I have to send something quick to the AP. Other than that, I'm all yours, happy to show ya what I do or talk CCSU hoops.

And keep the emails coming, I feel a mailbag coming.

Just another Manic Monday


I'm working on a story about buzzer beaters, Bruce is going to help me. I think it's 6 since I've been covering the team, and they're all losses. So I'll get back to you guys on that.

Anyway, thoughts on tonight:

I continue to like this team's toughness. They clawed back into the game and imposed their will in the second half, turning the game into a track meet.

Ken Horton is a beast. He will win an NEC Player of the Year before he leaves here.

Welcome to the big time Marcus Palmer. Great job by him, he has really taken coach's pleas to become a rebounder first to heart. That makes him a double-threat.

Shemik is figuring this floor leader thing out. I'm impressed with him.

Joe will be fine, he doesn't sulk when he is missing his shots. He did some other things and he'll get his stroke back.

Robby is going to be fine as well. He got the start tonight and really looks comfortable. There will be growing pains, but things should be good.

Don't give up on the bench yet. Simmons is the same guy we all loved last year, and Coach will find some more help.

Free throws are a big problem. Not just at Central, but in the country. Ask Memphis. It irks me, but it is what it is (sorry Ryan, had to be said).

The defense was really active tonight. They covered ground, got in lanes, and moved their hands. Fun to watch.

Decent crowd on hand, but lively. Operation sellout is a good idea, but it needs some backing. Pick a game coming up a few weeks away and we'll try and get a movement started.

What'd you guys think?

A for effort

A fun day in Boston, getting to watch two big games in one day.

First off, the soccer team. The Devils were starting to find their legs when the PK happened, and I'd like to have seen what happened had BC started to get a little nervous about trying to break through Central's defense in the second half if it was still scoreless.

That said, give BC its due. The Eagles put the game away in the 2nd half and deserved to move on. I will, however, be rooting for my NU Huskies on Sunday.

Hoops: I've never been more sure about my feelings about this team. First off, while Rice is a stud, I don't feel his absence changed the score because if he's there Sanders doesn't score as much.

I was very impressed with Central's toughness. The Devils had no interest in giving up. I think they have to do a better job avoiding fouls, but I don't think the rebounding was that bad. The individual numbers were bad and Coach D knows a heck of a lot more about than this stuff than I do, but if you told me before the game the Devils would be within a couple of board on the night I'd have signed for it right then.

Marcus is going to have to grab more if he's going to play a ton this year, but I really like he and Kenny as a frontcourt with Dave. Shemik will grow on the rest of you, I promise, he's tough. Robby looked like he belonged on night one, and CCSU will see just one better team before March.

All and all, stealing a win would have been great, but there are a lot of positives to take from last night. On to Monday and Toothpaste U.

NEC picks

Ok, going to try and stay hot (had last year's men's team in the right spot and said before the football year that the Devils would be 7-4).

Here now, your NEC men's expected order of finish:

1) The Mount: The champs have almost everyone back and I have huge respect for their coach.
2) CCSU: It will take awhile to get started but the sophs will grow up come NEC time. Marcus Palmer and/or Ken Horton are on the NEC 1st team come March.
3) Robert Morris: The place no one wants to go.
4) LIU: I liked them last year and they lost a ton of close games they won't this year.
5) FDU: seems to be a popular sleeper pick. Baptiste can play, but Tyler's return is big.
6) Sacred Heart: Is the run over? I hope not, Dave Bike seems like a gem of a guy.
7) Quinnipiac: This could be too low if Tom Moore's recruits pan out, but how big a loss was DA?
8) Monmouth: Not that high on them, but the last year in the Dungeon could be good for a couple extra wins.
9): Wagner: Too much to have to replace at once, but this feels too low as I type it. If I'm wrong, it's most likely here and with FDU.
10): SFPA: I like red better than blue, and their home court is probably good for an extra win.
11) SFNY: Because someone had to be 11th and it couldn't be the Yankees.

Stuff for the week

Now you'll know why I haven't blogged much this week:
Big men's hoops preview in Friday's paper. (Football Gameday will be online this week)
Full coverage of soccer and hoops from BC in Saturday's paper, and a women's preview in Saturdays paper, with follows for Sunday.
Then hopefully a nap on Monday.

As for updates on the women: Read Saturday's paper, and know that I expect to have some stuff on early signings for next year soon.

From the horse's mouth

If you've seen any of the stuff on the news the last couple of days, you've heard a lot about the Herald. I won't get into too much stuff here, some blogs are already being quoted by other media outlets, but I wanted to let you guys know my plans.

First off, we haven't said we're definitely closing. We're trying to get bought first. So therefore, we'll continue to do what we do and see what happens. There will be a basketball preview this week, and coverage of the BC game (which I'm going to hit after the soccer game) come Saturday's paper.

We'll be blogging no matter what happens through the end of basketball, at least that's the current plan. I'll keep you guys up to do date on changes that affect what you guys will read, but I don't expect many in the short term.

In the meantime, I'll just say that it's a privilege to get to work where I work and cover what I love and to give you guys news and opinion about CCSU, a place I've grown to care about for you the readers, who I've always cared about.

You haven't heard the last of me yet.

Shippin' up to Boston

Well I get my wish, maybe. The women are heading to BC for a tournament game. The good news: CCSU can win that game.
The bad news: It might be a 7 p.m. game, which means I could miss the hoops game, which was the original reason I was going to BC.
Either way, I'm covering SOMETHING at BC Friday. Keep hopeful for a doubleheader. In fact, demand it. Call BC and tell them you'll come to both games! If they can get your money twice, they'll take it!

Good stuff

That's what they say in soccer. Kudos to Mick D'Arcy, his staff, and the players on the women's soccer team who won an NEC title Sunday with a 1-0 win.
And Jill, you're officially no longer Berlin's Jill Kusek.
From now on you are simply "champ." The same goes for the rest of the team.
Well done.

I'll add to this later, just wanted to get something in tonight. It's been a very long day, the first time I've seen morning in a long time. But Brooklyn was fun. Read the Herald for details.

The selection show is Monday night at 8 p.m. on ESPNNews. Can you all do me a favor and root for it to be Boston College Friday afternoon?

Sunday Sunday Sunday

I'll be at the soccer game, so you'll get coverage of your school playing for its 5th trip to the NCAAs in 7 years. Exciting times in New Britain.

Basketball starts Friday, look for tons of stuff this week.

Happy days are here again

Well, at least for today.
Great win, though let's be fair, the competition wasn't great. Good to see the defense finish strong, and the seniors go out with a bang. I was thrilled for Ernie, who is one of the nicest kids I've ever covered.

Rose is getting better, and I continue to be impressed by the hold the defensive coaches have over their unit. That is one together group.

An answer for you Hud

Good to have you back, hope all is better for you this week my friend.

Your answers:
1) and this is why I should stop blogging at 1am... I meant mac was pissed about the losses. I mentioned that because some had suggested that he just cared about stats and the like. He'll tell you that his first goal for this team was a winning year and everything from there was a step up, but he was trying to win every game, that's what I was saying. You can disagree with his methods in every way, that's fine. But I'm telling you, when I see him in his office after a loss, he's beat up emotionally over it.
He's not just happy to be here. That was my point.

2) The football blogs have been smaller for these reasons:

A) We've beaten the QB debate to death.
B) Ditto for the rushing vs. passing stuff.
C) I've had to do tons of stuff in the office for high school tourney season.
D) Basketball is starting soon and I'm prepping for that as that is traditionally a bigger deal to our readership (no disrespect to the football team or fans, that's just the the numbers.)
E) There wasn't much to say this week except to give credit to the seniors.

However, if there's something you'd like me to touch on, by all means either email me at or post something on the board and I'll likely see it and get back to you. I haven't gone anywhere. I'm at my desk more than I'm in my house.

Very brief football preview

For space and fatigue reasons, there won't be much of a football preview this week. Won't have room for it in the paper. If I have time tomorrow night I'll write out something longer to put here and on the Web site, but for now I'll just give you the highlights of my chat with Coach Mac this week.

1) The most important thing he wanted to get out there to the fans is that he hears you, and he doesn't take this stuff lightly. He used the phrase "(ticked) off" and other forms of it repeatedly, and wanted to make sure it was clear that winning is in fact the first priority. Stats are nice, but the only one he cares about is wins.

2) He is not happy with the offensive production, and knows it has to get better. I wouldn't be surprised to see just one quarterback again this week. Not sure who though.

3) The 11 seniors deserve a big crowd and a fun senior day, regardless of the records of the two teams. He's right about that one.

I'll go back and listen and see if there's more, or anything I forgot. It's been a VERY long week.

I'm a blogging fool today

Third and final entry of the day:

The fields are moving along, there will be a story in tomorrow's paper about it. Look for baseball to play at least some home games on the new field in 09 should all go according to plan, and soccer to miss just one year.

I didn't even get too into the actual issue of why things were delayed, I figured you guys were more interested in the what happens now.

CJ brought up a good point to me today about the indoor facility issue: While CCSU's attendance is right up there in the NEC ranks, it's hard to claim you need a new building when you're a state school when you don't fill the one you have every night.

Beat writers

Good find on that Kyle Whelliston article. I've met him a couple of times, and he strikes me as a nice guy who is very passionate about his chosen focus.

I think his generalizations are too sweeping, however. Do I know some kids at the various places CCSU plays who think their current job is just something to do until they get "discovered" and are hosting SportsCenter next week? Of course.

But I've also worked with some guys who aren't like that at all. And while I admit to having the Top 25 scoreboard open on my cpu during games because I'm obsessed with Bracketology, I promise that CCSU is my first priority.

For a reporter, it's actually a perfect situation. I get to cover a DI program, see different sports as opposed to one. I can call the second most famous coach in this state and know that I'll get a call back. It's a great mix of big time hoops in an intimate atmosphere.

Throw in the fact that most of the people I care about live within 20 minutes of here and your beat writer isn't going anywhere.

Sorry Hud. (Kidding!).

Quick Hitters from the NEC media day call

Obviously I'll have a lot of stuff coming in the days ahead, but here's what you need to know for now.

Top 4 in the poll: MSM, SH, RMU, CCSU.
Number of times the poll has picked the winner in the last 20 years: 2.

Injuries: Marcus and Chris Baskerville have been nursing foot issues, but everyone seems ready to go so far.

Style stuff: Marcus will have what coach Dickenman called "the green light," to shoot 3's this year. He seems to be counting on a big year from Central's only senior.


By the way, still don't know if I should leave comments under other comments or make new posts, which do you guys like better?

Anyway, JJ, we agree on every point but 1. I have no objection with "upsetting the apple cart," but it's not going to change anything. The reason there's no new building has nothing to do with Central not knowing people want one or thinking it's pointless.

It's all about $$. And in this day and age, the state isn't helping, either. I go back to my plan from last year. CCSU should start promoting the building's history. The building is old. Darn right it's old. Talk about the great things that happened there. Heck, just in my 5 or so years there was an NEC title game, two of the best high school games I've ever seen, DA's shot and a 4-ot classic. And that's just off the top of my head.

They really should start plugging historic Detrick Gym.

New building and coach

Let's preface this by saying I don't think coach Dickenman is going anywhere.

That said, JJ I don't disagree that a new building would help, but I do disagree with the notion that it's coming. I have no reason to think it's coming at all. So the key will be finding a coach willing to keep this thing going and not for a stepping stone. A young guy with ties to the area or program would be ideal. We'll see.

Again, I have no reason to think there's any reason to worry about this in the short term, so no one panic. I just was answering a question.

News and notes

I will be doing that fields story soon, just a matter of timing, lots of other job-related things going on these days.

There was a notebook Thursday, and Gameday is in there for Saturday's paper.

Mac did hint that he might do something "different" at QB this week, so we'll have to see.

Finally, to answer JJ's question:

What the heck, I'll say it again. Even if I get yelled at, it'll get us off the QB discussion for a minute, which can't hurt.

No, I don't think CCSU needs a new gym to compete. Would it help? Yes. Would it be nice? Tremendously so. Does Howie Dickenman need it to win? No. Could Howie Dickenman coach five kids off the street, play home games in a barn and have the team reach its full potential by March? Yup. He's that good.

Now before you get all over me, do two things: 1) read above. I said a new building would help. 2) Remember the great center debate of last year. I didn't say having Shaq wouldn't help, just that it isn't necessary to win.

A new Stanley Arena with Dickenman Court would help, but where CCSU plays its home games won't decide the NEC title come March. Point guard play will.

No HS finals at Detrick

According to our sister paper the New Haven Register, all the CIAC state finals will be held at Mohegan Sun this year. Both finals will be on the same weekend, Friday-Sunday.
The main reason is that last year's LL game drew 7,000 plus to Gampel, something Detrick Gym can't handle.

What a day Sunday

I have to say that one of my favorite days of the year covering CCSU is women's soccer's Senior Day. The kids put so much into it and that program always seems to be so tight-knit, it's always fun.

This year, with Erin Herd coming back from an ACL issue to play on her Senior Day was particularly special. If you don't watch the soccer team, you still likely know Herd if you read this blog. She's one starting the "CCSSSSSSSS-U" chant at, well, everything.

Herd, Hannah Bromley and Berlin's Jill Kusek (sorry Jill, you will forever be a Redcoat to this old reporter, just ask "Southington's Sean Salvatore") are class kids and great athletes; everything college sports should be about. And I get to cover them and all the kids at Central who are like them.

Sometimes I love my job. As they'd say in soccer, "Well done," girls.

Behind the curtain

Regarding the little AP blurbs for hoops: I write those for the home games and the occasional road game. You're better off reading the full version in the Herald.

(This shameless plug brought to you by Cherry Pepsi and the New York Jets.)

Btw, we're currently (tentatively) planning full coverage of opening night. Should be fun.

Bonus NBA picks (so I'll have them on record for Ryan come April):

(in order of finish)
Boston, Cleveland, Philly, Detroit, Orlando, Toronto, Chicago, Milwaukee. Outside looking in: Wizards, Atlanta.

New Orleans, LA, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, Utah, Golden State, Denver. Outside looking in: Dallas and a vastly-improved Minnesota.

East first round winners: Boston, Cleveland, Philly, Orlando. 2nd Round: Boston, Cleveland. Conference Finals: Boston.

West first round winners: NO, LA, Houston, San Antonio. 2nd Round: San Antonio, Houston. Conference Finals: Houston.

Finals: Boston over Houston in 6.

Back to your regularly scheduled Central programming: NEC picks in this space soon, planning my previews for the day before the seasons start for each team.

I was just making a point

I picked the most extreme example in order to make my point... of course you can't completely eliminate the pass every week. I was just trying to point out that there's more than one formula to winning.

I'm not against the spread, it's a perfectly good offense, and a lot of teams use it. My argument is only with the position that it is the be-all-end-all and that no other approach can work. That's the only reason I mentioned Navy, to show those who have been emailing me saying that CCSU MUST be pass-first that the Devils really don't.

It's like the basketball recruiting argument we had last year. I wasn't saying that getting a big center was a bad idea, just that you don't need the college version of Shaq to win the NEC.

But since you brought up Rich Rod... notice that since he got to Michigan they started losing, and the fans there hate him from what I've heard for changing the vaunted "Michigan Way."

Perhaps a better example: Charlie Weis' offense stopped being so brilliant when he left Brady and company.

Here's a suggestion for my friends on the board and throughout HeraldLand: Since we know (and if you don't know it, just trust me) that the Blue Devils have no intention of becoming a pass-first program, at least in the foreseeable future, come up with ways to make the run-first plan more successful.

It's about execution, not strategy

Your nugget of the day:

Navy beat SMU 34-7 on Saturday. It ran 77 plays on offense.

They were all runs.

That's 77 plays, 0 pass attempts, 34 points.

My point: You don't need fancy spread offenses with long bombs. You can win with well-called runs and execution by the offense.

(For the record, I'm not advocating Central go to the wishbone, just pointing out that there's more than one way to get something done.)

An update and a question

1) I'll have the lowdown on the fields next week, just have to set up a time to talk to CJ.
2) Since the season is coming, give me some suggestions on what kind of stuff you want to see for basketball coverage this year, either in the paper or on here.

The menu for the weekend

Friday's paper: A couple notebook items... I have an interesting story from Coach D. I wanted to share, and some football stuff.

Saturday's paper: CCSU Gameday for the Monmouth game, women's soccer coverage. The Blue Devils are going for at least 2nd in the league with a good run this weekend.

Sunday's paper
Football coverage.

Monday: Women's soccer, maybe football stuff.

Not as crazy as last weekend, but a good amount on tap for you.

By the way, since I know you're going to ask: The Qb is a "gametime decision," but I'd be stunned if anything was different. One will start, the other will play.

Welcome back my friends

to the controversy that never ends.

First off, I apologize for being a very bad blogger this week. Been running around covering a ton of stuff on campus in the last week or so, then had some birthday celebrating (or mourning) to do, then watched the Sox (more mourning followed).

So, thoughts on the weekend:

First off, tough to see what's happened to the men's soccer team. Tyrie's injury is a brutal loss, and the Blue Devils have been forced to play scoring threat Christopher Brown in back. Some younger guys have stepped up on offense, but it's a long climb from here. I'll say this though: The Devils were 0-3-1 in the league last year, and no team with Shaun Green, Yan and Tyrie, even just sitting on the bench, is going to quit.

Nice job by the women on the road. They'll need some help to win the regular season title and host the NEC tourney, but a date in the postseason seems likely. That program is arguably the most consistent at Central.

Now, football: Nice win by the Blue Devils, clearly they have no intent on giving up on the season. That's a very good sign.

I think the biggest improvement is on the defensive end. I really like what those coaches are doing. That group is coming together really well, and they have a great chemistry on the sideline, at least from what I can see.

Big Blue: Love that you're reading and keep commenting, please. However, I continue to disagree wtih you about the QBs situation. Yes, Hunter has grown on me in recent weeks, but I continue to think you (and everyone else who said it) are crazy if you think Aubrey lost the Albany game. I thought he moved the team very well. There were a couple of mistakes made in the first half, but neither were Aubrey's, at least in my mind.

Hunter played very well in the second half, but I think if that 2-point conversion works, we're talking about how well the 2-QB system is working because I'm certain CCSU would have won in OT.

Aubrey had arguably his best game of the season on Saturday, and Hunter also played well. His run at the end broke the game open, and he passed the ball well. So please don't take this as a "Aubrey's better" post. But no, I don't "have to see" that one should start over the other, because I continue to not feel that way.

And since I know it's coming, I'll do a preemptive strike on the accusations of being a "homer" or kissing up to Mac. I've gone over the things I thought could have been done differently in recent weeks, particularly against Albany.

And Ryan, great point about Wiggins. The reason his deal remained news and the Miles thing died right away is because Wiggins was local. That kid is smart, I should hire him.

Bob: Apologize for not answering your last couple of emails, been busy as I went over above. I had to run back to the office after the Duquesne game, but I did visit the tent after the last home game. Thanks again Charlie for feeding a hungry man.

Your weekly QB update

And remember before you go jumping on me that I'm merely the messenger and have no vote in the matter (though I will confess that I still don't think it's as a big deal/detriment as the rest of you do): Both QBs will go on Saturday.

By the way, I'll have notes on the hoops team too this week. Basketball season is finally upon us. The run was interesting for a few reasons I'll get into. Probably no blog until Friday as I'm going to a birthday party for this real old guy I know on Thursday after work (when I usually update this thing) but there will be a notes column in Friday's paper and a game preview Saturday, as well as coverage of the soccer team's return home. Much to do.


Ok, one last try on making what I'm saying clear, then I'm letting it go if it doesn't work.

We're not talking about playing someone based on geography, at least I'm not. What I'm talking about is why sometimes a kid will get mentioned in an interview somewhere.

As for growing the pub of the program, which is the main goal right now: Blue, the fans who just care about winning and go to the games because they care about NEC titles are already at Arute and making road trips. The market that can be drawn from is the people who like to hear about kids they know. That's why the local kids are often mentioned.

Again, not saying they play because they're from the area. That's a different deal, and no coach would do that. But, as someone who deals with readers and fans on a daily basis and has done so for years, I can tell with 100 percent certainty that there are more fans like the ones I mentioned than there are the "just win baby" types.

Media stuff

Hud and all,
First off, glad people are reading this little blog of mine. Shoot me comments or emails, I'd love to keep the discussion going.

Just to be clear: I'm not saying play a kid or get a recruit from the area over another part of the country (not saying ditch Mallory and stick a Nate Pagan in before he's ready, for example), but I was speaking in terms of who they're going to talk about in those Web site comments and the like.

When you're a, shall we say budding, program you have to establish the local fan base first. I can focus on whoever the story is because we are the main media outlet covering the team. But I was talking about trying to branch out on getting other people involved. If Mac is talking to fans in the New Britain area, he's going to talk about area kids. If he's talking to the New Haven Register, he's going to pump up the shoreline kids, etc. Trust me on this one folks, this is one area I know about. That's how it works.

As for the coaching itself... I had two issues: I didn't like a couple of the red zone calls early, and I was stunned they didn't go for 7 at least once. Also, and I said it at the time in front of a witness so this is a first guess, not a second, I absolutely would have taken a knee at 10-9 and gone to the break with the momentum.

Wow, the natives are restless

Ok, a few quick thoughts on the weekend, if there's anything you want me to expand on let me know:

1) Football: The defense struggled early, but put on a show of guts down the stretch that was really fun to watch. Ryan Nielsen has that group believing in themselves and each other. Their little ritual right before taking the field for a series says a lot about their togetherness, as does their ability to avoid frustration when the offense couldn't help them out until the game's final moments.

The pass defense still can be better, but it appears to be improving.

Then there's the offense. Let me take on the couple of things that have been directed at me, and again, if I miss something, let me know.

First off, the QBs. I know I'll get beat up for this, but I thought both did a good job. They don't let Aubrey throw the ball, which I think can be a hindrance at times. Is he going to throw 75-yard bombs? No. But can he be effective? Look at the numbers. And he marched them down the field several times early... CCSU's offense in the red zone left a lot to be desired, but I didn't think too much of that was (either) QB's fault.

Hunter also did a great job. He is a million times more comfortable than he was early in the year. I'm not sure CCSU is best served flinging the ball around like the Devils are the old Rams, but a good mix would help. For all the talk of the tight ends and QBs, I think the WRs are vastly underrated on this team. Nick made two catches, one on the sideline and one over the middle on the last drive when I thought the corner had killed him, that were really impressive. There are a ton of other guys with speed on this team, too.

That said, CCSU "is what it is" to use a phrase that makes Ryan Pipke cringe. The Blue Devils' system is a run-first one, and Mac is going to use both QBs, and that's just how it is. At this point, I really can't see it changing. I'm not saying either thing is good or bad, just that I can't see the Devils changing now.

This is a really big week for this team: If the problems that cropped up last year come back, the stretch drive could be ugly. If the Blue Devils use this loss as motivation to finish strong (which I think they will), then they'll be fine.

Hud: The marketing by the program of the local kids isn't going to change, nor should it. This isn't USC where you can sell football players as football players. I cover the team as a team because it's the local team, but to get other media outlets involved, you have to give them a hook. The way to get people interested in a football program like Central's is to promote local kids. Another paper will do a story on a kid from their area, they won't do a story on a kid just because he's a good football player. That doesn't sell papers.
And (assuming it was my story you mentioned) I mentioned the GG block because two coaches told me it was a big play, and because I like giving credit to guys other than the skill spots. That's why I talk about the O-line more than most people care about.

As for other team's media: Remember that, at this level, not a lot is done on the other team going into a week. If a reporter from Albany sees Hunter go in second and calls him the backup, it's probably because he doesn't know Central uses 2 Qbs. Don't read much into it.

Fields stuff

NewBritainite: I've been promised a fields update soon. It's obvious work has begun again. When I have the lowdown, I will pass it along.

Rivalry weekend

Wow, I just wrote my notes for Friday's paper, and I realized what a huge stretch is coming up.

Volleyball hosts LIU Saturday. The Blackbirds have a habit of beating Central in the conference semis, but if Central can win this one, the tourney could be in New Britain this year. If you're not going to the football game, that's a good one to check out.

Women's soccer has a game Friday against the Mount, and hosts Monmouth Sunday. That's big for a bunch of reasons, and there should be a good turnout on what is supposed to be a nice afternoon. Big game, big crowd, nice atmosphere. Works for me.

Oh, and someone told me there's a football game Saturday. Sounds like a big deal.

I'll be writing my fingers off this weekend, so I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing. Until the next time we meet up in cyberspace, enjoy "Rivalry weekend." And buy the Herald. Shameless plug I know, but I'm doing a lot this weekend, help me out.

Oh, and J.J.: The NHL didn't die, it just moved out of town. We can still be long-distance friends. I'm not asking you to root for the 'Canes, just to enjoy the fastest sport on Earth.

Weekend schedule

Ok, here's what I have lined up for you my faithful readers.

Friday's paper: A standard notes column type thing.
Saturday's paper: CCSU's women's soccer game, plus a preview of the football game.
Sunday's paper: I'll be on the CCSU sideline for the Albany game, so I'll come back with complete coverage. Be sure to check it out. It's a big trip, but I'm counting on enough interest from you guys to make it worth it for me. And plus, I get to be outside on a nice day watching football, so I can't complain.

Anyway, that's the setup as it stands. Until then, enjoy the start of the NHL season on Thursday. I'll leave you with a note that only a geek like me would care about: there's new unis coming for one of the Devils' winter teams. I haven't seen them yet, so I'll pass along more when I do.

Oh, and 1 more nugget: The Blue Devil run is next week. Hoops is here!

Just checking in

Talking to Mac on Wed, so hopefully I'll have some football nuggets for you soon. Big, big game this week. CCSU peaked at the right time, but going up there will be a bear.

I thought about jumping in on the B-Ball talk, but I'd rather wait until I'm done with my research. The run is soon though! It's getting close.

Got some positives on the possible piece about a week with the team... let me talk with CCSU and my own staff and see if I can pull it off before the year ends. I've always wanted to do it.

Hope you check everything out

Had a little notebook thing on the play calling as promised this week, and the game preview will be in Saturday's paper.

Mostly the same lineup as last week. No word on the QBs, but my guess is he's leaning towards using both of them again. When I spoke with Mac he was definitely still considering abandoning the "naming a starter by NEC play" plan.

We'll see. As for the game itself, I can sense a shootout coming. Can Central run with a team with very good receivers? We'll find out. Next week is at Albany, but I promise the Blue Devils are not looking ahead.

Question of the day: I'm considering doing a piece where I basically spend the week with the team and do a diary on their week of prep leading up to a game that would run as one long piece. Any interest in that?

Quick answer of the day

To answer something I saw on the board today: Actually, there have been times where Mac has told the media things on the condition that it's not released until Saturday because 1) he could change his mind and 2) he hasn't told the the team yet and he doesn't want someone to read it in the paper before he tells them, which is the classy thing to do.

By the way, that's not uncommon at all, especially when it's a small school with a couple of reporters around tops.

Football stuff coming

Had a long talk with Mac today, and he gave me somewhat detailed answers on some of your main questions, which I'll write out in some form or another in the next couple days. Say what you want about his coaching, but you can't knock him for ducking a question. Sometimes he says he doesn't know, and he changes his mind a lot (as you'll see later this week when I get into some of it) but he always tells me what he's thinking at the moment. I respect him for that.

For now, huge win for the men's soccer team. NEC play starts for both teams in the next 10 days or so, and both teams have legit chances to win the league. Should be a fun fall.

Football thoughts after a huge win

Terrific win by the Blue Devils tonight. Sounds like they went to the option early and everything else flowed from there.
Hunter had a nice night, have to hear more about the long run, I was asking him general things tonight and I only talked to him for a second. Mac was really impressed with the defense, and everyone kept praising coach Likens.

To answer your questions Hud: 1) From what I gathered for the preview I wrote Saturday morning, the TE move was based on holes in the line from injuries more than a true roster change, but I will ask. 2) I'm sold by now that the 2 QB thing could work. If the players are lying to me that it doesn't bother them, they're doing a VERY good job of it. Maybe it's a show, but I'm starting to doubt it. The key will be to pass with Aubrey at times and run with Hunter at others so it doesn't get predictable. But, while I was a 1 QB guy at the beginning, I'm coming off that stance now.

Oh, and if the defense keeps playing like this, offense will get much easier.

Hype over substance

I thought the discussion of certain teams struggling despite new facilities was interesting. Remember when I got killed for my stance last year? You guys take your shiny new gyms and locker rooms, I'll take good coaches and players and beat you 9 times out of 10 no matter where or what we play.

Again, not saying a new gym/football field would hurt (just like my point was never that recruiting a big center was a BAD idea), but they aren't the difference makers. Wins are.

Football tonight: If you missed my preview: Grochowski to LT due to some injuries and shifting on the line, Rossnagle to TE, Aubrey will start, though both QBs are expected to play.

If you're not down with Wild Cherry Pepsi...

Try it, it's quite good.

I don't disagree with anything you said Hud (though I'm allergic to peanuts). Remember, if I tell you what I think Mac is doing, it doesnt' necessarily mean I always think it's right. Though I do generally like running the ball, especially when you're outmanned. It's the best way to keep the ball from the other team.

And with this team, the passing has been pretty efficient (something like 11-for-18 last week between the two). I too am much more worried about the defense than I am the offense.

Man, I was a good 2nd baseman in little league. .353 one year and the captain of the infield. Can't believe I didn't get to Fenway.

Blue, I lost one of your comments

But the main point of it I wanted to respond to I remember: I've been courtside when CCSU has played UVM, UNH, Albany, etc at home, and there's just no difference in buzz in the building. You could argue that would change in a conference setting, but I don't see it. You build by winning. If Central wins more NEC titles, fans will come. Winning non-league games against UVM and UNH doesn't do much for buzz, at least that I've ever noticed.

Now if this were hockey...

Oh Hud, you finally asked me!

I'm teasing. Glad you wrote. Despite what some of you might think, I actually enjoy talking to you guys.

A couple things top of my head. 1) As someone in that thread pointed out, my role here as both the beat guy and a "columnist" (not a true title, but close I guess) makes it a little tough for me to just spout off every time I have an idea. I do it more for hoops than football in large part because I feel more confident in my opinions on that sport. I know football more than well enough to do my job, but I couldn't coach it. (Not that I'll be coaching D-1 hoops anytime soon, but I feel confident enough to ask the right questions to Coach Dickenman).

That's also why sometimes Hud you think I'm "stealing your stuff." I don't, I just take the questions you guys want asked and ask them, then write about the answers I get. That's why I always say I work for you guys. My job is to find out what you guys want to know to the best of my ability.

To that end, Hud, here's my promise to you: Next week, when I talk to coach Mac, I will ask him about coaching/playcalling. Who, why, when, etc. I can't promise he'll give you good answers or the ones you want, but I will ask the questions. Seriously, write me a list.

My gut is that Mac is more involved than you think, and that (and I could be dead wrong on this, but this is my observation) you have the roles reversed on the coaches' philosophies. There are times when I think, if it were up to Mac, the forward pass would be outlawed.

When I play Madden I play that way, 3 yards a carry, 10-minute drives, but that's the extent of my personal football experience.

Btw, a bit of news for Saturday's preview: I'll have a note that you'll find interesting Hud. I usually promise to hold onto it until the preview (per the team's request, not just because I want you to buy that paper, though it helps), but read it.

The quarterbacks, I can tell you, will be a "game-time decision," on Saturday.

Pedroia is doing just fine at 2nd, and I'm one of the guys who tried to run him out of town last year, so what do I know?

Anyway, glad you guys are using me as a conduit to info, that's the whole point of my work. And always feel free to say hi at games, I'm the guy in the wheelchair.

And Hud, I'm a Pepsi man. Cherry if possible.

Scholarship stuff

First off, a quick note. NBHS got their game moved to Thursday night, so no notebook. There will be a full football preview though in Saturday morning's paper.

In the meantime, I thought I'd try and tide you over by answering another set of questions: For now I'll just give the broad strokes.

I was asked about the whole football scholarship thing. I'll have to go back and read what I wrote at the start of the year, but I believe the plan is to eventually get up to 40.

Do I think CCSU will ever go to 63?

Just me speaking now, but no, I don't, at least not in the near future. The revenue just doesn't strike me as there. My guess is they'd have to bring in a lot more money to make it a worthwhile investment. I don't see the interest here to make it worth it.

As for Bryant pouring money into football: I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but the coach said during the NEC conference call before the year that 1) they don't intend to change their recruiting practices and 2) By the time they offered full scholarships, he'd be long retired on a golf course somewhere.

So no, I didn't have the impression that Bryant had any intention to spend big on football.

Ok, let's give this a shot

First off, the notebook got bumped in the paper, not much room. We'll try it again middle of the week. But for now, we're going to try this mailbag thing. I'll just grab some questions in here and give you some thoughts on them. If you guys like it, send more, if you'd like to see something different, let me know. Hit me with questions/thoughts at

The first batch of questions I got is about scheduling. Who does it, why, and how is it done.

The schedules are done by the coaches and the athletic department. For example, Mike Ansarra has a part in the football schedule, though certainly Mac has input. Even if the ADs did all the scheduling, they wouldn't do it without consulting the coaches on everything.

As for the philosophies, I think it changes from sport to sport and year to year. If a coach knows the team is going to be young in a given year, they might not load the OOC slate. If a team expects to contend in a given year, it might want to play a good team or two to prepare themselves for the big-game atmosphere. For example, this year's men's hoops schedule is pretty good, and next year I think they'll play some good teams as they should expect to be very good themselves. Remember that many of these games are scheduled years in advance, so it's a bit of a guessing game. It's easier at Central, I'd imagine anyway, than it is at UConn, when they never know if a guy is leaving to go pro.

Some coaches just feel like the OOC schedule should be loaded. Women's soccer, for example, will play anyone, anytime, anywhere. That way, they're never intimidated by an NEC team, no matter how good it may be. After Mick's team takes on UConn and Yale, going to Monmouth isn't quite as scary. As the men's soccer team continues to move up the ranks, I think they'll schedule more big games. The UVA team they play Tuesday is right near the Top 25.

Can they be creative? Within limits. Teams from the west coast who have the money to come here or bring CCSU out there aren't going to play a little school like the Devils very often, and when they do they can find someone closer by. And teams that don't have resources aren't going to do much traveling. So the schedule will always be regional first.
(There are going to be exceptions to every generality I make here, so no need to hit me with dozens of "but this team played this team last year" emails).

I would still love to see the six "other" state basketball teams play a tripleheader, but I don't see what Yale would get out of playing Central in football. You have to look at it from the big school's perspective sometimes. If someone like UConn plays Central in anything and loses, rightly or wrongly, they are looked at as taking a "bad loss." If they win, they don't get any credit. So why would Yale or UConn play Central, especially in football? There's almost no benefit for them. A read FCS power with money to blow might take a chance. But then, if your program gets good or pulls an upset, the series isn't renewed. Let's put it this way: No one at CCSU I've talked to is expecting another call from Georgia Southern.

I do know most of the future football opponents, let me double-check this week about how much is public knowledge. There's nothing earth-shattering, but some interesting ones.

Last topic for today is the conferences: As a Northeastern grad, I have plenty of experience with the America East. It wouldn't necessarily be a step up in my humble opinion. You're playing state schools instead of privates, but does that really matter to anyone who isn't a school president? If CCSU replaces Monmouth games in New Britain with Vermont, are more people really coming? Maybe in basketball because of the run a couple of years ago, but that buzz will wear off.

Plus, the travel would be a killer. I've taken some of those road trips from Boston to UNH or Vermont. I don't even want to imagine New Britain to Orono, Maine. It's not worth the added expense, at least to me. It's not like they'd get a huge prestige jump. One of my friends in the media likes to refer to the AE as "America Least."

I know the Q talking about leaving is all the buzz. But remember, they're a completely different kind of school from CCSU (not saying better, just different). And just because they want to be in the A-10 doesn't mean they'll get there. I want to play second base for the Red Sox, that doesn't mean Theo Epstein will be calling me any time soon.

Anyway, those are some of my rambles on the topics that were in my inbox. I didn't want to do it like a straight mailbag, Mr. Simmons has market cornered on that, but if you like that format better we can try it. Keep the questions/comments coming.

ok, that was weird

My game thoughts got moved down 2 or 3 posts, so go down to see "The good, the bad and the band". That's Saturday's game stuff. Notes/a follow coming for Monday's paper, mailbag hopefully Monday morning here on the blog.

Pre game stuff

A couple quick thoughts before kickoff:

1) I think Mac's lack of revealing a QB plan to me yesterday means he's talking himself into going with Hunter, but we'll see. Maybe he just didn't want to tell me one thing then change his mind again, which means it could be more Aubrey than Hunter. Who knows at this point?

2) The attendance record, I have it on good authority, will fall today. Also, Walter, the Vet had around 9,000 for the game between New Britain and Bloomfield a few years back. I don't think today's attendance will begin with a 9, but it wouldn't stun me.

3) Look for a change or two in the O-line. We'll see how that affects things.

The good, the bad, and the band

Well, an interesting day. First off, while 8,322 might be considered generous by some, I can confirm that tons of people were out in the parking lot and came in just for the halftime and postgame shows. Was it 2,000? (I'm estimating about 6,000 for the game itself). I 'm not sure. But there were a lot more people than I thought who came in just for the band.

Anyway, quick thoughts on the game:

1) Well, I was all set to say "New Britain, we have a quarterback," after Hunter looked terrific early, but Aubrey did enough things to impress Mac and keep things interesting. But Hunter did very well. He'll take his share of sacks this year, but I like that he doesn't try and force the ball away in those spots. A sack is better than a turnover. Still, Aubrey threw the ball efficiently and ran six yards a carry, so he'll be tough to take off the field.

2) Defensively, CCSU was good when it had to be. I wouldn't worry too much about the final couple of drives, but I also wouldn't get too excited by the performance. It was a good day for sure, but the opposition wasn't exactly impressive on offense. Mac thought there was a particular schematic issue that led to a couple of the NCCU deep balls, so we'll see if those get fixed next week. My guess is that's more encouraging than someone getting beat, which is harder to fix.

3) I know everyone runs at Central these days, but Mallory is impressive. Most interesting to me is when you talk to him after the game. Most backs look like they've been through a long day during a post game presser. Mallory looks like he just came from class. He can run all day.

The good, the bad, and the band

Well, an interesting day. First off, while 8,322 might be considered generous by some, I can confirm that tons of people were out in the parking lot and came in just for the halftime and postgame shows. Was it 2,000? (I'm estimating about 6,000 for the game itself). I 'm not sure. But there were a lot more people than I thought who came in just for the band.

Anyway, quick thoughts on the game:

1) Well, I was all set to say "New Britain, we have a quarterback," after Hunter looked terrific early, but Aubrey did enough things to impress Mac and keep things interesting. But Hunter did very well. He'll take his share of sacks this year, but I like that he doesn't try and force the ball away in those spots. A sack is better than a turnover. Still, Aubrey threw the ball efficiently and ran six yards a carry, so he'll be tough to take off the field.

2) Defensively, CCSU was good when it had to be. I wouldn't worry too much about the final couple of drives, but I also wouldn't get too excited by the performance. It was a good day for sure, but the opposition wasn't exactly impressive on offense. Mac thought there was a particular schematic issue that led to a couple of the NCCU deep balls, so we'll see if those get fixed next week. My guess is that's more encouraging than someone getting beat, which is harder to fix.

3) I know everyone runs at Central these days, but Mallory is impressive. Most interesting to me is when you talk to him after the game. Most backs look like they've been through a long day during a post game presser. Mallory looks like he just came from class. He can run all day.

Hud, we were getting tight, too

I wasn't saying you shouldn't be at all negative, just that I feel like the fans don't have joy when the football team wins a game. When the hoops team wins, people are happy. When football wins, people are wondering why it didn't win by more and how they could possibly win next week.

My point wasn't to be critical of the fans, it's that they should enjoy the moment more. Have fun. Be happy when your team wins, worry about next week next week. I think it's just the nature of the sport and the fan base each brings in the more I think about it. Which is fine.

Anyway, like I always say, even if you disagree with me entirely, I'm glad you're reading. And I like the debate, so fire away. That's what I'm here for.

Wow, I really think we are back in business

I got a phenomenal response to the mailbag idea. I can start working on one soon (lots to do today and tomorrow, but Sunday could happen). Keep the questions coming. We can make it a recurring thing if you guys want. Also, as I often say, give me some other ideas for things to do on here or in the paper. I work for you guys remember.

Some inside stuff

No, not nearly as exciting as it sounds, but I might have something along those lines coming. Not promising this time, so don't kill me if it doesn't come through.

I just posted a long football entry, but I wanted to mention a couple of work-related things while I'm ranting.

First off, my staff that has worked their butts off to implement our new work format that has allowed me to be the boss and continue to serve you fine folks who bleed blue is awesome. Ryan, Ken and Andrew are their names, and I'll put our 4 guys up against any big-staffed place around. We drive each other batty at times, but we make one heck of a team if I may say so.

Also, while most of you never met Amy Reed, you've seen her work if you're reading this blog. She's the young lady who has taken a majority of the CCSU pictures that ran in the Herald over the last few years. My favorite is Jo Jo going over the pylon from a year or two ago. Anyway, Friday was her last day with us, and she will be missed. But if you saw some of the great shots Ryan Pelham took of the soccer game the other day, you'll know the Herald camera is in good hands.

Last thing: I won't go too into it because I'm not sure if it's supposed to be public info, but if I do this right, the person I'm talking to/about will get it, and all of you will appreciate the sentiment.

As you guys know, I often mention the people at CCSU who help make me look smart, the guys in the SID office. But there's a "whole nother" (I did that just to drive Ryan nuts) group that takes good care of me.

Two quick stories: Two years ago (I think) when CCSU was playing on the road because the soccer field was flooded, they played a game in a monsoon. Knowing I'd be on the sideline at Sage Park, I assumed I'd be sick for a week. But when I arrived, a tent was set up for me without me having remotely requested one. You guys got your CCSU coverage and I didn't get the flu.

I think it was that same year when I mentioned in passing that a hole had formed in front of the entrance I use to enter the soccer field. For those who haven't met me, I use a wheelchair, so the hole was quite the obstacle as I couldn't just jump it. The next time I got to the field, a wooden board had been placed over the hole, again, without me asking. It just was done.

Those are little things, but they are appreciated. Anyway, one of the guys who helps me out with that kind of stuff is on the DL and I was thinking of him, wanted to mention that.

You know, those stories reminded me of another. When we do the next mailbag, someone ask me something that lets me tell random stories, because I've never had an excuse to tell my story about me, Mick D'Arcy and a football tackling dummy.

Football fun

Short couple of notes, as there's not much going on yet this week, but I did promise to blog consistently.

First, there's a story on Friday's paper about CCSU playing in a lot of big-event kind of games in recent years. The Blue Devils should be pretty good at handling this stuff by now.

Working on the football preview for Saturday's paper. I've come to the conclusion that this is a big one for the Blue Devils, and not in the fun way. If they win, they were supposed to because the opponent is winless. If they don't, well, very few will know that the opposition was talented, just that is was winless.

They say with expectation comes responsibility. My guess is the more workman-like vibe I get from the team this year is a product of that. The program's gains in popularity over the last five years have raised the stakes. Sometimes I wonder if that's good or bad.

Perhaps it's just the different mentalities of different sports. Basketball, which ironically has been one of the more successful programs at Central, has a different atmosphere around it. There's just as much pressure, and no one outworks a Coach D team, but the wins seem like they are greeted with enthusiasm, whereas the football team's wins are greeted with relief and the immediate sense of worry heading to the next week.

Do you guys think that's a fan thing? A sport thing? Or did your favorite CCSU beat writer make that up in his crazy head?

Anyway, Saturday's story will have the QB plan for the week as well as the usual breakdown.

And X: Based on the hits and emails I get, I think the blog is doing ok. And now that I've gotten the hang of it a touch, we're going to start doing bigger and better things with it soon. By the time hoops rolls around, this will be a place to be for CCSU fans I hope. Does anyone talk CCSU football? Clearly you haven't met Hud!

Ok, that turned into more than a couple of short notes. Back to work. I'll see all 9,000 of you on Saturday. Should be interesting. And stay after the game to see the band.

Back to the blog

Ok, so between the high school football preview I had to do, Week 1 of that and the fact that the football team was away (and that my power was out and I couldn't follow the NDSU game so I don't have much to add on it), we got away from blogging.
But here's a big announcement. We're back. We're going to shoot for every other day here from now through the end of basketball season. Seriously. I'm arraigning the schedule to do it. And I really want to do the mailbag thing this year, so start firing questions (try to avoid recruiting as those are the toughest to answer unless they are general in nature) to If we get enough we'll do them all at once, which is the goal, but if not I can do 2 or 3 at a time like I did last year.

Anyway, caught up with the football team today, have some stuff coming in Friday's paper (and of course Saturday's usual big preview) .

Big win for men's soccer today, they really needed to get back on track and did just that.

Lineup updates

Jermaine Roberts is expected to play Saturday. Torin McCullough might be limited again, but should be back to 100 percent for the Harmony Classic. All other hands sound like they will be on deck. There are some typical bumps and bruises, but everyone else is scheduled to play, according to the report I just got.

As for the QBs: Aubrey will start, Hunter will come in around the third or fourth series, and the Blue Devils will go with the hot hand after that.

No football coverage?

This week for example we had a preview of the game, the game story, a follow story, the football team topped the weekly notebook I write, and then a preview of the next game is coming.
That's a heck of a lot more than a story a week, and I didn't even mention the blogging.

Soccer plays more games, that's why you see them in the paper a lot. But no one else does anywhere near the coverage of the football team the Herald does.

By the way, your men's soccer team (which gets more people at the games than you might think) is on the verge of another national ranking, and the women beat one of the best teams in the country last week. If you're not going to the games, you should be.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now except to say this: Everyone upset about the Courant's coverage (and they go by where they'll get the most readers through the whole state, not just around here) should buy the Herald.

New rankings

No. Dakota St. is 1st in the new FCS coaches poll and 2nd in the Sports Network poll.
In the TSN poll Albany got 2 votes while Stony Brook got 4 and Delaware State 87. All are unranked.
The coaches gave Fordham 35 votes and Stony Brook 1.

Quick apology to Bryant University

I'm breaking the habit of calling them Bryant College. So if I did that this week, I'm sorry. By 2012 I'll have it right.

Thoughts on Game 1

Yuck and whew. Special teams saved the day on this one.

Where to start? Ok, the part everyone always asks me about first. I wouldn't be surprised to see both QBs play again Saturday. I think Mac found himself in a dogfight he wasn't expecting and had to ditch the experiment plans to try and win the game, so he went with what he knew.

And, at the risk of sounding like I'm rooting, I thought Aubrey was OK. Three years of knowing Mac leads me to believe you'll never see a true spread offense at CCSU (sorry Hud), so I'm not even sure anymore that the QB is that big a deal. However, I will say that Hunter shouldn't be beaten up based on his numbers. He played one real series, and everyone in the building (including the Bryant defense) knew he was in to pass the ball, so it's hard to judge him on one game.

My biggest concern isn't the QB, it's the offensive line. Mac entered the game with a ton of faith in them, and they did a good job run blocking. But to let the QB go down 4 times just doesn't cut it.

The defense has to improve. That type of performance (I don't question their effort) will lead to 70 points for NDSU on Saturday.

My biggest concern is the big mistakes. You can't get that penalty before the half, and I don't think I've ever seen a high school team punt without a punter. I don't know whose fault that one was, but it seems to me that there should be someone in charge of checking that everyone's ready.

Still I see some positives. Mallory was outstanding and the team showed some spunk by rallying. Maybe this was the gut-check they needed to put the odd training camp behind them and band together.

If I'm Mac, I walk in Monday morning, show the Georgia Southern film, then say (insert name here) is the quarterback, everyone is going to play, we're all going to pitch in and we're going to win.

But as I always say, I'm not a coach.

Uh oh

Wild first half, and not in many of the ways Central would have wanted.

Punt return and punt block teams look strong, and Aubrey's been ok. I don't think you'll see much of Hunter in the second half, it seems like Mac is going with whomever he deems the hot hand. But, considering the whole 2 and 2 format didn't happen, who knows. I can't even venture a guess at this point.

Line has been ok in terms of run blocking, but has allowed too much pressure on the QBs.

Defense? Well, we're only 30 minutes into the season. I wouldn't panic yet. But the penalty at the end of the half was horrible.
We'll see if it ends up being costly.

Ok,since it's on the net now

I'm assuming most won't see this until the morning, when I was told would be the latest the players would know the deal for today.

The link to the season preview is above. The plan as I know it is Aubrey will play the first 2 series, Hunter the next 2, and then Mac will play it by ear. They honestly didn't decide until the end of the week. We'll find out what that means going forward. I wouldn't be surprised to see the rotation system go for another game or two, unless someone REALLY plays well today.

The answer is coming

Ok, had a long meeting last night to prep for the season preview which will be in Saturday morning's paper.

Remember how when we first started the blog I said there were times I'd know things but couldn't tell you?

This is (partly) one of those times, because technically the game plan is done. I won't make you wait until the game starts, but I can't tell you who the QB is just yet. At the VERY latest, it will be in Saturday morning's paper so you can take it to the field with you.

And no, this isn't a shameless plug to make you buy the paper. If I get the ok to say it tonight, I will blog it, but you WILL know before the game starts the plan at QB, at least as best as I know it.

Well I'm on record now

Taped a show for West Hartford Public access with a nice guy named Michael Gualtieri about local college football last night, and he asked for a prediction. I went with seven wins for the Devils this year. It was a gut, blurted out pick, but I think those are the best kind. I've been on fire with picks lately, so we'll see if that continues.

Big thanks to Mike and to Desmond Conner of the Courant, who guided me through the TV thing. Radio I can do, TV is a little dicey. Football preview coming, as is a volleyball one. Men's soccer doesn't start until next week, so we'll wait on them.

How about those Lady Blue Devils? Still can't get over that win. This is a very capable group. If it can find offense, it will be good.

A bit of breaking news

CCSU women's soccer just beat UConn, 2-1. The first time they beat the Huskies, and probably one of the few wins over UConn in any sport for the school.
Big story coming in Tuesday's paper.

No word yet

Just wanted you to know I didn't forget about the QB. Friday came and gone, no word yet. I'll let you know when I get it.

Oh, Hud can't we get along?

Let me preface this by saying for the millionth time that I'm not rooting for one QB or the other. Quite frankly, I get paid either way, and the only reason I keep writing about it is because you guys are interested in it and I'm here to serve you. So I try and get you updates. Don't blame the messenger for the results of those updates. All I can do is ask the questions and give you the answers I'm given and try to interpret them.

In fact, I pointed out the negatives in waiting this long to make the decision (I told him what I've told you guys, that I think he'd have been better off picking one and going with it.) It doesn't do anyone any good to learn two drastically different offenses. And I used the quotes where Mac was critical of himself. That's hardly "kissing" him.

My point about Aubrey's experience was that he has started in this offense and played games at this level. Which is true. You could argue that I could have used a different term than "dual threat," (and you'd be right, I wish I had worded that better) but when Aubrey rolls out he can run or throw. Also true. None of that is opinion. How well he does it, I'll leave up to you to judge.

I wrote that Hunter is thought of to be the more accurate passer because that's what I've heard from some folks in the program. I haven't seen him enough to make my own determination. That's another reason I'm not saying who SHOULD start. I'm just telling you who I think he'll pick based on what I'm hearing.

As I've said, the vibes I'm getting tell me that Mac wants to pick Aubrey. That's my observation. Has nothing to do with my opinion. He might not. It could be that he's been waiting to name Aubrey the starter and can't because he hasn't earned it. It could be that he's had Hunter picked out the entire offseason and just did all this to keep Aubrey working hard by not naming a QB. Or maybe he'll pull a name out of a hat today.

All I know is, one way or the other, I'll tell you as soon as I know who the QB is. I expect it to be today. If it's the guy you're rooting for, wonderful. If it's not, don't shoot the messenger.

But remember two things 1) I'm just telling you what I know and observe, nothing else. I've been wrong before about things I have a much better grasp on than this. 2) I don't pick the winner, so don't yell at me one way or the other.