Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reviewing the Quarterfinals and Looking Ahead to the Final Four

My picks are 10/12 in the two rounds combined.

#6 Denver vs. #7 Virginia. Virginia defeated Bucknell in OT and upset 2 seed Cornell, after an early deficit, 13-9 behind Steele Stanwick's 3 goals and 4 assists. This is UVA's fourth straight appearance in the Final Four. Chris Bocklet also had a big day with three goals. Virginia has had to come back from multi-goal deficits in both games. Stanwick had really been the star of the tournament so far with his 6 goals and 9 assists. UVA goalie Adam Ghitleman had 13 saves behind the net. One of the bigger concerns for the Wahoos is their face-offs, 24-59 for the whole tournament and losing the battle in both games. Denver is the Cinderella of the tournament so far, not because they are the lowest seed in the Final Four, which they are not, but because they are west of the Mississippi River, like Notre Dame last season pushing through. They upset 3 seed Johns Hopkins. I feel this is the most monumental game in the game's history because a west coast team upset the second greatest program ever, and beat them pretty bad. In a game that Denver controlled from the start (jumping out to a 6-1 lead), superstar Mark Matthews was limited to one goal, but others stepped up to take his place. Todd Baxter had 3 goals and Cameron Flint did too. Jeremy Noble had 2 goals and 3 assists. UVA has been good since getting rid of the Bratton brothers on the midfield. The Pioneers are a great coached team, and clearly made the right choice hiring Bill Tierney. Dom Starsia is no slouch to, just passing Jack Emmer for the most all-time wins. UVA had been to the big stage before, that is why I pick them. I like what Denver is doing for the game's "manifest destiny", so I'll be rooting for them, but looking at UVA's experience, I'm picking them.

#4 Duke vs. Unseeded Maryland. Maryland got the upset win against Syracuse in OT 6-5 in a defensive struggle that saw Maryland have 10 stall warnings. Maryland got a 2 goal game by Scott LaRue, and a three assist game by quarterback Ryan Young for John Tillman's second career playoff win. Grant Catalino had but 1 goal, but that goal was the deciding OT goal that hit top left so furiously it was impalpable. Niko Amato made a great save to preserve the tie at the end of the game. Curtis Holmes was absolutely dominant on the X for the Terps going 11/14, proving yet again why he is the best face-off man in all the land. Duke beat the Notre Dame squad that had bested them in the beginning of the season 12-7. This time it was 7-5 Blue Devils. Duke is lead by Zach Howell, CJ Costabile, Christian Walsh, Jordan Wolf and goalie Dan Wigrizer. CJ Costabile vs. Curtis Holmes will be key, this because the X really decides the way of the game. If you need proof, look at Maryland upsetting Syracuse. Earlier in the year, Duke scored late to force OT where they eventually won. In the ACC tournament, Maryland won in a close game 11-9. I expect a similar close game in which the Cinderella Maryland advances to the NCAA Championship.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

NCAA Lacrosse 1st Round Review and Picks for the 2nd Round

I went 8/8 in my first round predictions. If I hear that the Tewaaraton is the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse I will lose my mind because if you are watching the game, chances are you already know this factoid.

#1 Syracuse vs. Unseeded Maryland. Maryland came out firing as they threw around #8 seed UNC 13-6. An all around team effort for the Terps saw Drew Snider score 4 goals, Owen Blye and Kevin Cooper both have a hat trick, Ryan Young had 2 goals and 3 assists, and it was a quiet day for Joe Cummings (1g), and Grant Catalino (1g, 1a). Freshman Niko Amato was dominant in the net, recording 13 saves and holding UNC to 6 goals. Curtis Holmes proved why he is the best FOGO in the country, winning 16/23 face-offs. #1 Seed Syracuse beat Siena 10-4 behind a stellar game by All-Universe goalie John Galloway. The Orange were led by JoJo Marasco's 3 goals. This is the winningest senior class in Syracuse's great history. Maryland will be a tough match up for the Orange. Maryland is a team nobody wants to face, especially coming off of a 13-6 win against UNC. It's going to be quite the showdown, and call me a homer, but I am taking Maryland in the upset and to go to their first Final Four since 2004.

#2 Cornell vs. #7 Virginia. As expected, Cornell demolished Hartford 12-5 in a game that wasn't close after Hartford's early 2-0 lead evaporated. But what wasn't expected was that UVA needed overtime to beat Bucknell. The Big Red got a big day from David Lau, scoring 4 goals along with adding an assist. Rob Pannell had 2 goals and 2 assists. In the UVA vs. Bucknell classic, UVA came back and bested Bucknell 13-12 in OT with a goal by Matt White. Junior from Loyola Blakefield Steele Stanwick had an unbelievable day at attack, netting three goals and tallying 5 assists. Chris Bocklet also had a big day with 5 goals. Goalie Adam Ghitleman had 11 saves. Many picked Bucknell to upset the reeling Cavs, in large part due to the indefinite suspension of the Bratton brothers. This should be a very good game between two teams that met in the Final Four two years ago, with Cornell walking all over the Cavaliers 15-6. I'd expect a similar result. I'm saying Cornell with the win.

#3 Johns Hopkins vs. #6 Denver. After a close first half, the Blue Jays showed why they deserve the #3 seed as they bested Hofstra 12-5. The Blue Jays, led by Kyle Wharton (3g and 1a) and Chris Boland (2g and 3a), a senior from Boys' Latin, outscored the Pride 8-1 in the second half. Goalie Pierce Bassett had 9 saves. The Denver Pioneers won "the first playoff game west of the Mississippi." The Pioneers outmatched Villanova 13-10 in a close game that had you on the edge of your seat for much of the second half. Mark Matthews, the leading scorer for Denver, had three goals. In this quarterfinal showdown, the strong Hopkins team has a worthy foe in Denver, and this is a match-up between two great coaches: Dave Pietramala and Bill Tierny. I'm going to take Johns Hopkins in an entertaining game.

#4 Notre Dame vs. #5 Duke. The Blue Devils barely survived a great comeback by Delaware, winning a nail biter 15-14. Zach Howell led the Blue Devil. Howell, the senior out of Huntington, New York, netted 4 goals along with an assist. Jordan Wolf also had a big day with 3 goals and 2 assists. Net minder Mike Rock had 12 saves. After what seemed to be a sure rout of the Blue Hens, the Delaware side battled back. The usually strong Blue Devil face off man CJ Costabile was limited to only 6 wins. The Notre Dame vs. UPenn game was a 13-6 beat down by the 12-2 Fighting Irish. Notre Dame was led by Colin Igoe, who had a hat trick and an assist on the day. Jake Marmul dominated on the face offs. The Blue Devils and the Fighting Irish should put on quite the show. And my gut says to pick Duke, but the seeding and the first rounds scores tell me otherwise. When these two played in the regular season, Notre Dame won 12-7. I'll pick the Blue Devils in this rematch of last year's National Championship.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Maryland Found the Heir to Gary's Throne: Mark Turgeon.

"Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon accepted an offer from Maryland on Monday to replace Gary Williams as head coach of the Terrapins, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told"
Mark Turgeon, formerly of Texas A&M, left a very solid position with the Aggies to come and coach Maryland. The saga of this coaching search is over, and apparently Maryland got who they wanted: an established coach at a big division 1 school, even though it didn't come in the form of Sean Miller. This is a big hire for the Terps. Turgeon coached the Aggies to 4 straight NCAA tournaments and is well respected around the basketball world. He brought Witchita State to the Sweet 16 before going to TAMU and doing well.

What2Watch4 These 2 Weeks in Maryland Sports May 9th-23rd

Baltimore Orioles:
  • May 10th-12th, the Birds take on everyone's favorite Japanese person, Ichiro, and the Seattle Mariners. This is at OPACY.
  • May 13th-15th, the O's are at the Trop, taking on the feared Tampa Bay Rays. If you are an agnostic fan, the Rays just finished up sweeping the Birds.
  • May 16th-17th, the Orange and Black travel up to Fenway to take on the Red Sawks for a two game series.
  • May 18th-19th, the O's host the damn Yanks in a two game series.
  • May 20th-22nd, the Birds host the Nats in a three game series.
Maryland Lacrosse:
  • On Sunday, May 15th, the Terps take on UNC. This showdown at Chapel Hill will be the gem of the tournament's first round. The Terps split the series with UNC this season and this should be a real close one.
The 136th running of the Preakness Stakes
  • Baltimore's leg of the triple crown, made infamous this year by the half horse, half party animal "Kegasus." Be sure to tune in May 21st at 6 to see who wins. Will Animal Kingdom continue his quest for the Triple Crown?
Johns Hopkins Lacrosse
  • May 14th- The Blue Jays take on Hofstra in the first round of the NCAA tournament. If you are around the Roland Park/Guilford area at noon on the 14th, I'd suggest going.


Ravens Draft Analysis Picks 4-8

Now here is where the real ravens fan shine.  Reading about the last five picks of our draft class.  You may think that the important part of the draft is the first three rounds, and if you are thinking that you are probably right.  But, every year there are steals in the draft that end up being extremely special.  Here is my analysis of picks 4-8:
 Tandon Doss: Indiana, Wide Receiver

Coming out of the third round, seeing Leonard Hankerson taken by the Redskins discouraged me for the rest of the night.  The only thing keeping me going was seeing Tandon Doss still available.  When we took him, I was ecstatic.  Tandon brings a certain and very rare skill set to the field that is highly coveted by any quarterback.  He does not drop the ball.  Its sounds simple, I know.  That’s what I said before watching the Steeler game when Houshmandzadeh and Boldin, both possession receivers, dropped pivotal passes.  Not only is Tandon reliable with his hands, but he is also an excellent route runner.  Although he doesn’t have "elite speed", he is still a run after the catch threat who can take it to the house.  Likely he will be playing in the slot, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were lined up against the league's best in a couple of years.
 Chykie Brown: Texas, Cornerback
To me, this pick was all about the measurables.  Watching Chykie on tape is hard to do without seeing him getting beat on a quick slant route or missing a tackle.  He routinely goes for the hard hit instead of just bringing the guy down.  Now, Chykie isn't all bad.  He has great vertical speed, so staying with a speedy receiver going down field won’t be an issue for him.  If he gets burned, which he did a lot at Texas, he has great recovery skills.  Although Chykie has talent, I see the practice squad in his future for a few years.
Pernell McPhee: Mississippi State, Outside linebacker
Despite going in the fifth round, I expect McPhee to actually have a decent amount of playing time this upcoming year.  At Mississippi State, he was a run stopping machine with little pass rush ability.  The Ravens chose to play to his strengths and have reportedly decided to make him into a five-technique.  This decision is based off the fact that they think he can gain the weight needed to do so.  His impact may not be felt right away, but with Corey Redding getting up there in age; McPhee won’t be a bad replacement.  While attending Mississippi State, McPhee was one of the leaders of the team, both emotionally and physically.  The qualities that he showed in college will definitely transfer the NFL.
Tyrod Taylor: Virginia Tech, Quarterback
By making this pick, the Ravens officially told the world that Mark Bulger will not be in Purple and Black next year.  And since we took Tyrod, I'm OK with that.  At Virginia Tech, Tyrod showed his leadership and talent by taking them to a bowl game his senior year.  He can make all the throws with ease and his mobility in unmatched by anyone in the 2011 Draft.  Saying this, there are quite a few holes in Tyrod's game.  His accuracy has come into question numerous times and his overall vision isn't where it needs to be at the next level.  Also, being 6-1 isn’t exactly an advantage.  Unfortunately the only deserving action I can see him getting his first few years in the league is in pre-season games.
Anthony Allen: Georgia Tech, Running Back
While playing at Georgia Tech, Anthony Allen produced at a high level in their three option offense.  He was the big power back who could truck through defenders in short yardage situations.  With the kind of production Allen had it is a wonder that he fell all the way to the seventh round.  Although he played in a scheme where it made it easier for him to run, his brute force should transfer into the NFL nicely.  With Willis McGahee on the way out of Charm City, it could be possible for Allen to get some carries behind Ray Rice the upcoming

Ravens Draft Analysis Picks 1-3

For the last few weeks the NFL Draft has saved football fans from the everlasting circle of depression, the lockout.  On April, 28 the NFL welcomed 254 players from different colleges around the country.  Through trades and compensatory picks distributed by the league, the Ravens ended up with 8 picks.  One in every round except for the fifth round in which we had two.  Although the draft grades vary from different analysts, we believe this was an incredibly productive draft for Ozzie and the entire franchise.  Here is a pick-by-pick analysis for this year’s draft:

 Jimmy Smith: Colorado, Cornerback

Jimmy Smith, barring off the field issues or serious injuries, could end up being the best cornerback taken out of this draft.  At Colorado, Jimmy was a lockdown corner and almost unbeatable in man coverage.  His incredibly long arms prevented the other team’s wide receivers from effectively running their routes when Jimmy was in press coverage.  He ran a 4.42 at the combine and being 6-2, he could be one of the most athletically gifted corners to come around in years.  Even with all of the talent he possesses, his technique is only slightly above average.  He has a ton of wasted motion when he is not in press coverage and this would let quick receivers beat him on short in and out routes.  Hopefully Chuck Pagano (the new defensive coordinator and former secondary coach) can polish Jimmy's technique off and make him a feared opponent throughout the NFL.
orrey Smith: Maryland, Wide Receiver

When the ravens first drafted Torrey Smith I thought that he was our second choice after Titus Young and that this pick was purely made out of need.  After going back and looking at his strengths and our needs, this seems like a perfect match.  All last season, we lacked a deep threat to open up the seams for Boldin, Mason and Heap.  At Maryland, Torrey did exactly that.  He ran a 4.41 at 6-1 and actually plays a little faster than that.  Although his vertical running ability is unmatched by anyone on the Ravens roster, he still has a ton of room to improve with his route running.  Luckily he has one of the best route runners in the game, Derrick Mason, to teach him everything he needs to know.

Jah Reid: Central Florida

If you were wondering why we picked this guy so early, you're not alone.  I thought of Reid as a fourth round pick at best and that if he was taken earlier than it would a waste of a pick.  And after watching more film of him, I still do believe he was a waste of a pick.  Not because of his talents, but because we could have snagged him in the fourth round.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Jah will come right into training camp and claim the right tackle spot immediately, but we could have got him later.  Saying this, this could end up being the best middle round player we have taken in recent years.  At 6-7 and 327 pounds, he will open up holes in the run game.  With the stability he gives us on the right side we can move Yanda back to Guard, his natural position.  At the end of the day, I believe the real winner of this pick is Ray Rice because of the monstrous holes that are going to be opened on the right side of the line.

Previewing the First Third of the Games in the Maryland Football Season

The biggest story line heading into this upcoming season is the new coach Randy Edsall and what he can bring to the table. He has a good foundation to start with, lead by promising sophmore QB Danny O'Brien. Last season, O'Brien amassed 2438 passing yards, 22 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions. An overall QB rating of 134.5, leading his team to a 9-4 record, 7-3 in games with DOB starting. Davin Meggett will surely take over for Da'Rel Scott in the backfield. Meggett, a senior, compiled 720 yards on 126 attempts and 4 touchdowns. His long was a 76 yarder. The biggest question will be who will replace Torrey Smith (WR, drafted to the Ravens in the 2nd round), and LB Alex Wujciak. Kenny Tate will be moved down to linebacker from safety, and he is a good tackler.

On Labor Day, the Terps take on the Miami Hurricanes. This is an exciting match-up for the Terrapins, because many, I believe the count is eight now, have been suspended from the Miami team for this game. Because of this, I'd take the Terps.

Then after 12 days of rest, the Terps will host the West Virginia Mountaineers in the big OOC rivalry game. Lately the rivalry has been one sided, but with the emergance of star QB O'Brien, and the Mountaineers losing speedy RB Noel Devine and WR Jock Sanders, the task becomes a bit easier for the Terps. But the Mountaineers still have Tavon Austin, a speedy WR out of Dunbar High School who dominated us last year, and QB Geno Smith. It's a toss up, and as much as I'd like to say the Terps here, I have to go with West Virginia. Maryland in years past has had struggles defending the speed of West Virginia.

On the 17th of September, the Terps will host the Owls of Temple. After an 8-4 season, Temple looks like it could be weaker, losing top WR Michael Campbell. This should be a Terps W.

Then the Terps take on local FCS team Towson. The Tigers are coming off of an abismal season, going 1-10, and going 0-8 in the very deep and competative CAA. This should be no contest as the Terps get their third win of the season.