First, a plug: I'll be doing a series on the football team all week leading up to the main event, a season preview Friday and a game preview Saturday. Check out the early-week features as well.

Nikola Deiter was named the NEC women's soccer defensive player of the week after shutting out Army. She will be a key for the Blue Devils this year, at least until the offense comes around. Actually, all year, since soccer leads don't usually grow big enough to be unaffected by one goal.

Finally, the statistical breakdown of Ken Horton's offense in SI made me feel good, since it validated what I've been saying for a while. This kid isn't just good. He's special. During what has been arguably the greatest 15-year stretch in the history of the men's basketball program at Central, he could very well be the best player to wear the blue and white. A huge year this year could end all doubt. After all, let's not forget his defensive abilities.


Back on board with the blog and plenty to be optimistic about if you're a fan of Blue Devil football. I spent the last couple of days at practice, and there's plenty of good things to report.

First, a quick plug: we will have a story on the team every day this week in the Herald. I'm excited. The team has some buzz around it, so we'll do what we can to match that with the best coverage we possibly can provide. Hope you'll like it.

The offense seems to be in good form. There are plenty of running options, starting with Brian Fowler, and quarterback Gunnar Jespersen bristled when I implied that the receiving corps had question marks. He even said it could be better than last year's unit.
So we'll see.
No one disputes the offensive line will be good, so Central should be able to push defenses back and run the ball, and pass enough (if Gunnar is right) to keep fronts from loading the box.

There is youth on defense, but enough familiar names that the team should be able to get by. The key is creating enough of a pass rush that the secondary doesn't have too much pressure applied to it, at least early in the season. Let them get their feet wet before we expect too much from that group.

As I said, we'll talk a lot more about the year ahead as the week goes on, I just wanted to give you some initial thoughts. Overall, I fully expect Central to win the NEC. Expect its offense to grind some teams down. If the Blue Devils can avoid giving up quick strikes the other way, I expect to be on a plane to somewhere in about three months.

Irene 1, Blog 0

I didn't forget about you guys, nor did I intentionally renege on my promise to keep this thing going. Got delayed by prepping for the storm, then with some damage to my house from Irene.
She's gone, and I'm back.
Just got back from football practice, will have a lot to say tonight or tomorrow.


Here's a link since the story has made its way online. Hoping it's in the paper tomorrow.


As I said below about the men, there's a story in the paper (in fact another on Jewel Robinson either to come or already out), so check that for a full preview. Here's some thoughts I wanted to share however, breakdown style.

Blue Devil breakdown
What to watch for
1) Health: Central is full of quality players, but doesn't have the numbers it had last year. It needs to stay pretty healthy.

2) Youth movement: How does only two seniors sound? Can the young kids mature? They usually do in this program.

3) Ms. Jackson: Brittany Jackson being in front again should help the team score.

Games to watch
(NOTE: I'd have included Sunday's game at UConn, but there's no chance it gets played barring one of the great blown forecasts of all time. Though it could be rescheduled. )

1) Today at Army: Openers don't always tell us much, but this one might if CCSU looks good.

2) Sept. 2 Vs. Providence: A solid name opponent, though Central has shown it can hang with the Big East before.

3) Oct 9 vs RMU: Could be a big NEC home game. I will have to get up early.

4) Oct 16 vs. LIU: I THINK, and I stress think because I've been at this a while now, that CCSU teams are unbeaten in games I've covered on my birthday. Keeping that streak alive would be a nice feather in the Blue Devils' cap this year. If you're in the crowd, feel free to bring me cupcakes.

5) Oct 28 vs. Quinnipiac: A night game, senior night. And it could be a huge game. Should be a good atmosphere.


Ok, a little later than I had intended because I wrote many stories for the paper, which I hope you'll read, but here's a look at some of the "extra" boxes I often do. We'll do this in a post for each soccer team (volleyball to come later).

Blue Devil Breakdown
What to watch for:
1) Hi, my name is: With more than a dozen new faces, the early part of the year will be about introductions as much as goals. The players truly seem to be enjoying each other's company, however.

2) Finish the job: The men just couldn't score last year. That makes it difficult to win games.

3) Growth: Coach Shaun Green admits that he is hoping to have the team really cranking by next year, but don't think this is a lost season. How the Blue Devils improve will play a big part in gaining momentum for next year.

Games to watch
Tonight vs. Vermont: The opener is always fun. Should be a nice house over at Willow Brook.

Sept 18 at Albany: For some reason, when CCSU and Albany get together, it's usually a good game regardless of sport. I'd watch their chess clubs face off.

Oct 7 vs. RMU: The first home game in a month. We should know where the Devils stand after they try and grow up together on the road.

Oct 30 at FDU: Because I'm still cranky about that whole replay thing, and not because it affected Central.

Nov. 4 vs.: SFNY: Senior Night.


We had kind of a false start there as I tended to some other things, but now we're up and running full time. We'll have posts here just about every day from now until March (save for one week in October when I'm away), I promise.
Going to see the soccer teams today, will have some preview stuff ahead of Friday's start, as well as some football thoughts. I can't believe the season is now just days away!


First, a quick thank you to everyone who read all the logo stuff. We had some room to blow it up in the paper and Brad did a great job with it, and I had some time to blog like crazy, and apparently you reacted. Also a thank you to ESPN's Paul Lukas, who also runs, which linked to my post and brought in some new traffic as well.

From all accounts the day went well for Central, and they did a nice job making a bit of an event out of the whole thing. I'll try and get an exclusive with the Devil once he has a name.

Speaking of getting an exclusive, remember to send me questions for when I sit down with Paul Schlickmann.

J.J., I'm going to comment on your comment in a second as opposed to making a new thread, so look down there in a second.

But as promised, a football note. I'm going to be writing more about Brian Fowler, who I caught up with at the logo unveiling, but for now this hint. He is totally over his shoulder worries. That first hit, while scary, was critical, as he now believes in his body again. CCSU's running game has a chance to be good, even by Blue Devil standards, this season. 


Wednesday combined two of my favorite things, sports and logos. So to say I had fun at Central Connecticut's logo unveiling is an understatement.

Make sure you read my stories as well as watch our SPO Daily show, which we did from the logo party, at after this. But here's a big review, as promised, for the new logos and designs at CCSU. So, let's get right to it.

First off, the colors are a big improvement. CCSU AD Paul Schlickmann talked about wanting to get consistency into the uniforms and logos, and this was the first step in that process. As the teams get new uniforms in the next couple of years, I think you'll see fewer examples of teams looking dissimilar from each other.


As a fan of uniform related material, I'm excited for Wednesday's introduction of the new logos. The new basketball court, which I have not seen but have been told came out really well, will be on display, as will the new football helmets and the new Victor E.
We'll find out what logo will go onto the 50-yard line on Arute Field (I assume), but we won't see the new basketball uniforms yet. Those are still being worked on. If you won't be at the event, check the Herald as well as the blog, where I'll have a breakdown/review of the new art.


Below you'll find my first set of several CCSU sports posts. Now that the season is ready to go, you'll find this blog full of news, opinions and answers.

But before that, I wanted to say this. I wasn't nearly as close to Dave Solomon as many other writers who knew him much longer were. Those who were able to call him a friend have written extensively and eloquently about him this week.

I simply wanted to add one note. When I was first starting out in this business, one of the ways I gauged who was a nice guy was by finding out who took the time to learn/remember my name when I was a cub reporter for a relatively small paper.

Dave Solomon remembered my name despite the fact that neither stature or circumstance would ever require him to do so. Yes, the roster of Connecticut sportswriters now has a big hole in it. But the world has lost a nice man. That's a much bigger deal.


I'll be meeting with Paul for our hopefully annual extended summer interview, so send me questions you want answered to


With the first practice taking place Monday night, I thought I'd take a look at some of the things to watch for this month as the Blue Devils try and get ready for what they and most other NEC observers believe will be a run at another NEC title.

1) The running back situation: A staple of any Jeff McInerney team is the running game, and Central has two players at that spot who come into camp with question marks. We all know what Brian Fowler can do on the field, but will his injured shoulder hold up for a full season at a position that gets hit as much, if not more, than anyone else on the field?
Kevin Woolfolk was good during the spring game. Is he ready to take on more of a role? If so, does Central split time in the backfield?

2) The Gunnar show: Gunnar Jespersen became a leader in what seemed to be about 10 minutes last season. With a full year under his belt and another spring and summer of running the show, is he poised to have a real breakout year? How much can he be helped by the running game?

3) But to whom will he throw it?: Denzell Jones was probably as good a receiver as Central had in the spring along with tight end Anthony Julbes. Jones is explosive, but Central will either have to develop some sure WR threats or lean heavily on the run again.

4) Stop the ball: Central's defense wasn't bad on paper, but couldn't get big stops against the best teams on the schedule a year ago. Clamping down and giving the offense a little more breathing room would be a huge help to a title run.

5) Special intrests: Replacing kicker Joe Izzo will be key, as will kickoff coverage. One of the problems the defense faced last year was that it was up against a short field too often. Having the opponent start further back in its own end will help lower the PA column for the Blue Devils in 2011.

6) Health: The biggest one is always the health of the team by the time camp ends. If the Blue Devils have their whole team intact come September, they can get off to a good start. But any big injury this month can derail a great year before it ever offically begins.


CCSU named former Rutgers assistant coach Kelly Nangle as its new women's lacrosse coach today, replacing Rachel Tringali.

Nangle was with the Scarlet Knights for the last three seasons, during which Rutgers went 27-21. Nangle was in charge of the defense and played a big part in recruiting.

"I can't wait to get started," Nangle said in a statement. "This program has the potential to be one of the best in the NEC and in the region, and I look forward to getting to work. CCSU has a history of successful programs winning NEC titles, it's time to add women's lacrosse to that list."

Women's lacrosse is one of the few programs at Central that hasn't gotten over the NEC title hump, and Nangle will become the fourth coach to try and change that.

Tringali had success gathering some quality individual players at CCSU, but the Blue Devils are hoping the change helps get the program a championship banner.

Here's the full release from the school.