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 mstraubblog@hotmail.com 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.