Sports Today: Does Jags postseason success mean Bengals have a fighting chance?

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:29 AM

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05:  Members of the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars get into a scrum at the end of the first half of their game at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)
Logan Bowles/Getty Images
JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05: Members of the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars get into a scrum at the end of the first half of their game at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)(Logan Bowles/Getty Images)

After a three-day weekend there’s one obvious question to ask this morning: Was the NFL divisional round good or bad for the Cincinnati Bengals? 

Well, it probably won’t affect the team. 

They are going to be the same either way. That’s kind of their thing. 

Even when there are changes, I have succumbed to the feeling the Bengals are the Bengals. They’re not the 1990s Bengals, of course. That role has been filled by the Browns. But now they are the average franchise that no one respects because of a few high-profile meltdowns and, well, their inability to do once in 20 years what the Jaguars did twice over the last two weeks: Win a playoff game. 

RELATED: Bortles or Dalton? We crunch the numbers

Intentional or not, the Bengals even waited until 5 o’clock Friday to announce their “offensive staff overhaul.” Those in the business know that’s a time to dump news you don’t want to get a lot of scrutiny. 

There’s not a lot to take from the additions, though, other than Alex Van Pelt, Daronte Jones and Matt Raich all spent time coaching in other countries at some point in their careers. 

Van Pelt and Raich both worked in Germany while Jones did a year in the CFL. 

But I digress… 

I definitely saw a lot of excitement from people I know (and those I don’t) about the Steelers losing at least one week earlier than they were supposed to in the playoffs. 

What about the Jaguars winning? Does that mean anything? 

Should Jacksonville’s win give Bengals fans a different perspective on a 2018 season that doesn’t seem like it’s going to have as much newness as we thought when 2017 ended? 

I think it’s worth looking into how the Bengals compare to everyone in the final four, but I thought I would throw that out there to get us started on this abbreviated week… 

I didn’t see much fo the Jags-Steelers game because I was enjoying a full day of basketball at Flyin’ to the Hoop. 

How good is Springfield this year without Danny Davis? 

Pretty good apparently. 

The Wildcats are undefeated after rallying to beat Cleveland Heights on Sunday night

This team could be deeper than the one that went to the regional finals last year as some youngsters have stepped up for coach Isaiah Carson in the absence of Davis (who graduated and became an important receiver at Wisconsin as a true freshmen) and in the face of some injuries. 

These guys showed some great fortitude (and talent) in coming back Sunday night after coughing up a comfortable lead. 

Earlier in the day, Versailles beat Sidney in a matchup of the area’s top-rated senior prospect (Tiger Justin Ahrens) and the likely No. 1 junior (Andre Gordon of the Yellow Jackets). 

Ahrens won the individual matchup, and Versailles won the game

Could they be teammates some day? 

Ahrens has signed with Ohio State, and the Buckeyes are one of many teams interested in Gordon, who could still end up choosing to play football in college instead. 

They’re already friends either way… 

Wright State stayed on a roll Monday, downing Youngstown State 77-67 at the Nutter Center. 

Mark Hughes was the man this time, scoring 13 points and helping to lock down Penguins star Cameron Morse. 

›› Hughes celebrates birthday with win against hometown Youngstown State

The first-place Raiders are headed to Wisconsin this weekend to face Green Bay and Milwaukee, who both stink. 

Of course, coach Scott Nagy is on high alert for a letdown

“We’re just not used to this as this point, that at 6-0 we’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Nagy said. “We’re not good enough, we don’t have enough talent and we’re not deep enough where we’re just going to roll in and play poorly and beat people. It takes maturity to show up every night and play well.” 

Better to be the hunted than the hunter, though, right?… 

While the men are alone in first place in the Horizon League, the women’s team is tied with Green Bay and IUPUI. 

All have 5-1 marks in conference play. 

Wright State won for the fifth time in a row Monday (also against Youngstown State) with Fairmont grad Chelsea Welch scoring her 1,000th career point as a Raider

Even more impressive: She’s done that in less than two seasons…  

The Dayton Flyers are back in action tomorrow night against St. Joseph’s. 

The Hawks might stink, but that hasn’t mattered much when it comes to Dayton opponents this season. 

And apparently it hasn’t mattered much how good the Flyers are when they go to Philadelphia. 

David Jablonski points out they’ve lost eight in a row at St. Joe’s and three straight at La Salle… 

Anthony Grant’s team has suffered through some ups and downs, but Shauna Green has the Dayton women’s squad aiming for another Atlantic 10 title

The defending champs are 5-0 in league play after crushing Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon at UD Arena

Jenna Burdette is the A-10 co-player of the week after averaging 24 points, 4.5 rebounds and five assists in a pair of wins. 

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What Bill Self said after Kansas’ bullish win over West Virginia

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 4:17 PM

No. 13 Kansas polished off a thriller Saturday night with a 77-69 win over No. 20 West Virginia.

Udoka Azubuike led the Jayhawks in scoring with 21 points — including a 7-of-10 performance from the free throw line.

Daxter Miles Jr. paced the Mountaineers with 22 points — 18 coming on six 3-pointers.

Kansas is now 21-6 overall and 10-4 in Big 12 play while WVU dropped to 19-8 and 8-6 respectively.

Here’s what Bill Self had to say after the Jayhawks’ comeback victory — their second over West Virginia of the season:

 

On Daxter Miles Jr.’s play for WVU…

“He just went nuts. We couldn’t guard him. That’s not what we thought the biggest concern would be down the stretch.”

On the comeback effort…

“We got to the free throw line, obviously. We didn’t rebound it great, but we did a good enough job to claw our way back in.”

On the free throw disparity…

“I’ve never seen that before…one thing that we try to do against them is drive it downhill because they pressure out. One thing they did tonight was shoot a lot of threes. I’d have to watch the tape…but I hated how the game ended. Both teams played their butts off.”

On Udoka Azubuike’s play and free throw shooting…

“I thought he was great. I thought he played terrific. He played with energy and stayed out of foul trouble for the most part.”

“Rick Barry still doesn’t come to mind when he shoots (free throws). But he’s working hard. His technique is better…he’s made a lot of positive strides.”

On what the win means for Kansas…

“It keeps us in a position to play for something. It was big for our guy’s confidence. It was big for our fans to experience an atmosphere like this…but if we don’t take care of business Monday night, it doesn’t mean anything.”

 

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What Bob Huggins said after West Virginia’s loss at Kansas

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 4:16 PM

It was a tough finish for Bob Huggins to swallow.

His team collapsed under a withering run of 17 consecutive Kansas points late in the game in the Jayhawks’ wild 77-69 victory over the Mountaineers Saturday night.

The loss likely ended West Virginia’s hopes for its first Big 12 title. Earlier this season, the Mountaineers were ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Huggins was ejected in the final seconds of the game. But he was lucid in his post-game comments to the West Virginia radio network after the game.

Here’s a collection of what Huggins said:

General comments on the game

“You can’t win. I’ve been in this game for a long, long time but that can’t happen. We have no chance to win.”

On specific calls that set him off

“I thought Sags (West Virginia center Sagaba Konate) got fouled on the jump hook. There’s no question (West Virginia guard) Dax (Miles) fouled. We’re down by 3 or 4 then. You have no chance, man. No chance.”

On the difference in foul shots between Kansas and West Virginia

“The sad part is they (Kansas) don’t need it. They are a good team and are very well coached. They don’t need that, man. They don’t need somebody to do that. And I’m going to tell you what. There’s something wrong when you do that to kids who played their heart out (like that).”

On West Virginia’s late-game struggles

“We made some mistakes. I told them in there. We made some mistakes. Dax should have shot the last one. Probably should have shot the one before that.  He’s playing like crazy and he’s trying.

“We missed a  free throw, but you let (them have) that many at the free throw line. They get 26 from the free throw line and we get 1. That’s the game. I feel so bad for our kid that I can’t not say something.”

On West Virginia’s effort:

“We made some bad plays. JC (West Virginia guard Jevon Carter) tried to throw it into …  He’s not going to catch it. That’s a bad play.

“Dax had two (turnovers) where he could have made shots. He threw them out of bounds. Those are bad plays. But they are going to make bad plays, guys.

“We give the deal with Sags on the moving screen … he posted up … He  didn’t do anything they didn’t do. It’s frustrating when you say this is going to be called and it’s not called. It’s frustrating. You try to do things the right way.”

On Kansas’ effort

“Again, that’s a great team. He’s (Kansas coach Bill Self) a heck of a coach. He’s in the Hall of Fame.”

On his explanation for the foul shot disparity

“That’s the shame of the whole deal. We don’t have any.”

Does West Virginia’s physical brand hurt the team

“I think there are many times in the game. I don’t think it happened today, but they (referees) get tired and blow the whistle to get a rest. I do know that. But I don’t think that today.”

Do officials anticipate calls

“You saw it as well as I did. Whatever it is you call, you have to be consistent the whole game both ways. You can’t tell me we didn’t get fouled more than twice. C’mon.”

On the officiating

“I don’t think officials should look for things. I don’t think they should stand and stare (players and coaches) down. I think that’s wrong.”

How does West Virginia bounce back

“You’ve got to get ready for Baylor and hopefully they don’t shoot 30 free throw and our 2 . I don’t know what to do about that . The other part … we’ll get them back. We’ll find a way to bounce back and try to win at Baylor. We’ll try to win out.”

 

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Trotwood-Madison ends regular season by defeating visiting Springfield

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 10:34 PM
Updated: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 9:10 PM

Trotwood boys basketball standouts Amari Davis (left) and Myles Belyeu each had 23 points in a 79-72 defeat of visiting Springfield on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Streaking Trotwood-Madison passed its final high-end, regular-season test against visiting Springfield 79-72 on Friday night. Now, the one-and-done boys high school basketball season begins.

“It gets real from here,” assured Trotwood’s Amari Davis, who matched teammate Myles Belyeu for a game-high 23 points. “No more losses. We’ve got to win out. Like (teammate) Hezikiah (Shaw) said, we’ve got to win out the regular season and now we’ve got to win out the postseason. We’re in this to the end.”

»RELATED: Springfield quickly rebounds from loss at Trotwood

Top-seeded Trotwood is the team to beat in Division II. That won’t be easy. The high-scoring Rams will take a 12-game win streak into the D-II sectional at Springfield High School against Greenville in Friday’s first round. Trotwood was the D-II state runner-up last season.

Michael Wallace matched his season high with 17 points and Raheim Moss also scored 17 but Springfield didn’t have its “A” game against the Rams and that would make a difference in the Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover game before a capacity crowd.

Springfield was scheduled to end the regular season with a non-conference game against visiting Middletown on Saturday. The Middies are coached by one-time Springfield coach Darnell Hoskins.

»RELATED: Boys basketball power rankings

Springfield landed a No. 2 seed in the Division I, Dayton 2 sectional. The Wildcats have a first-round bye and will play the Piqua/Springboro winner on Feb. 27 at Centerville.

Trotwood (19-3), Springfield (17-4) and top-seeded Wayne (20-1) have had marquee matchups this season. Springfield split two games with Wayne, which was No. 1 in the state in D-I for much of the season before losing at Springfield nine days ago.

Wayne defeated Trotwood in double-overtime in late December and also ended its regular season by dodging Centerville 52-49 on Friday.

Springfield’s Michael Wallace (with ball) avoids Trotwood defenders Hezikiah Shaw (left) and Justin Stephens. Trotwood-Madison defeated visiting Springfield 79-72 in boys high school basketball on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

»RELATED: Final girls basketball power rankings

Springfield (10-2) finished runner-up to Wayne (11-1) in the GWOC National East. Springfield also lost at Centerville in divisional play. Springfield started the season at 13-0, but entered the Middletown game on a late-season 2-3 slide.

Springfield pulled within 65-64 early in the fourth quarter on Derrick Robinson-Verse’s two free throws. But seconds later Moss fouled out. Springfield’s Leonard Taylor (12 points) also sat out crucial minutes in the second half with four fouls.

Trotwood answered with a game-deciding 14-7 run. Trotwood had hit triple-digits in four of its last five games.

“It’s a good night,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said. “It was good for the fans and it was good for us coaches and players to have to battle through that before we get into the tournament. We loved the pace of the game. We felt if we got it out of the 60s we had a chance.”

Trotwood’s Amari Davis (with ball) is confronted by Springfield’s Jordan Howard. Trotwood-Madison defeated visiting Springfield 79-72 in boys high school basketball on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

»RELATED: Sit-out period could change for transfers

The teams have played six times in the last seven seasons, with Trotwood holding a 4-2 advantage. Trotwood also defeated Springfield 88-73 to end the previous regular season.

GWOC American North: Butler (19-3, 12-3) and Sidney (16-6, 12-3) tied for the division title by winning their regular-season finales. Butler defeated host Tippecanoe 86-55 and Sidney took out Greenville 71-45 behind 16 points each from Andre Gordon and Ratez Roberts. On Tuesday, Sidney edged Butler 36-34 on Robert’s layup in the final seconds.

Alter 63, Fenwick 54: Jack Smith and Connor Bazelak each scored 13 and the host Knights recharged their postseason hopes by stunning the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North champs. It was the fourth straight win for Alter (8-14, 3-7), which opens the D-II sectional at Fairmont’s Trent Arena against Ponitz on Saturday.

David Luers hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points for Fenwick (15-6, 7-3). The Falcons ended the regular season at Valley View on Saturday. A No. 2 seed, the Falcons play the Clinton-Massie/Ross winner in the D-II sectional at Trent on Feb. 26.

Carroll 50, Chaminade Julienne 36: Eli Ramsey scored 30 points for the host Patriots, who lost 49-48 in overtime at CJ earlier in the week. Carroll (13-9, 5-5) is a No. 5 seed in the D-II sectional at Springfield and plays Tippecanoe on Saturday. CJ (8-14, 5-5) is a No. 6 seed in the D-II sectional at Trent and plays Monroe in the first round also on Saturday.

Franklin 61, Valley View 42: Payton Knott had 13 points and the host Wildcats (17-5, 10-2) earned a share of the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division title with Bellbrook (13-9, 10-2). It was the seventh straight season Franklin has won outright or shared league titles under coach Brian Bales. A No. 11 seed, Franklin bumps up to D-I this season and opens the Dayton 2 sectional against Beavercreek on Friday at Trotwood.

Miamisburg 68, Northmont 61: Jason Hubbard scored 27 points and the Vikings converted 18 of 19 free throws in their final regular-season game. A No. 4 seed, Miamisburg (18-4) takes a nine-game win streak in the D-I sectional at Centerville against the Lebanon/Belmont winner on Feb. 28.

Troy Christian 77, Middletown Christian 39: James Anderson hit all 13 free throws and scored 22 points as the Eagles (19-2, 13-1) won an outright Metro Buckeye Conference title. Troy Christian ended the regular season at Bethel on Saturday. The Eagles are a No. 5 seed in the D-III sectional at Northmont and play Indian Lake in the first round on Saturday.

Stebbins 75, West Carrollton 70 OT: Jonathan Mpanzu hit two free throws with 4.5 seconds in regulation to force OT. Mpanzu led the host Indians (9-13) with 23 points.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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Dayton holds off late rally by Fordham to stop two-game skid

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 7:55 PM

Dayton's Trey Landers shoots a 3-pointer against Fordham on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, at UD Arena.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
Dayton's Trey Landers shoots a 3-pointer against Fordham on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, at UD Arena.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

The Dayton Flyers overcame a lengthy cold spell in the second half to beat Fordham 80-70 on Saturday at UD Arena.

Dayton led 70-51 with nine minutes to play. Fordham went on a 17-2 run to get as close as four points before the Flyers put the game away. A layup by Jordan Davis ended an almost seven-minute stretch in which Dayton didn’t make a field goal and scored all its points at the line.

Dayton (12-14, 6-8) stopped a two-game losing streak. It is now tied with Duquesne and George Mason for eighth place in the Atlantic 10.

Trey Landers led the Flyers with 26 points. Jalen Crutcher scored 19. Darrell Davis had 12 points, and Josh Cunningham scored 10.

Dayton has now 14 straight games against Fordham (9-17, 4-10), which has never won a game at UD Arena.

Dayton shot 64.4 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range (9 of 18) and 76.5 percent at the free-throw line (13 of 17).

HALFTIME RECAP

Dayton shot 68 percent from the field to build a 42-33 halftime lead.

Dayton’s star: Landers made 6 of 8 shots from the field and scored 15 points. He made 3 of 4 3-pointers.

Fordham’s star: Prokop Slavina and Joseph Chartouny each scored nine points.

» RELATED: Toppin brings energy to the bench

» WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Dayton to honor three seniors Sunday

Big run: Dayton trailed 9-8 and then went on a 9-0 run and led the rest of the half.

Surprise appearance: Walk-on Jack Westerfield was one of the first Dayton players off the bench. The starters played the first 11 minutes. Westerfield and Kostas Antetokounmpo came off the bench at the same time.

No action: Xeyrius Williams didn’t play in the first half. He missed two games and then saw action in the previous game, a loss at George Mason on Wednesday.

Key stat: Fordham stayed in the game by making 7 of 16 3-pointers. Dayton made 6 of 10.

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