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.