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Published: Monday, February 05, 2018 @ 10:09 AM
— Big thanks to the Eagles and Patriots for putting on a great Super Bowl, eh?
I predicted a Philadelphia win, but I think that’s the only part I got right.
I thought it would be more of a defensive slugfest like the games the Pats lost to the Giants, but Nick Foles and New England’s offensive line outperformed expectations.
Philly finally got to Tom Brady in the end, though, and Brandon Graham’s strip-sack on his fellow Michigan Man proved to be one of the decisive plays.
The numbers from this one are pretty mind-boggling.
The Patriots had a 500-yard passer, three 100-yard receivers and averaged over five yards per carry and lost.
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes but had a crucial fumble.
Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and caught another. The interception on his record was a pass deflected into the air by his receiver. This was no game of rope-a-dope. The Eagles gave him the keys and let him go.
Malcolm Jenkins was not the MVP as I predicted, but he had four tackles and broke up a pass. He also helped prevent James White repeat his huger Super Bowl LI performance, although everyone else seemed to be open most of the time.
The Eagles had a great plan, great roster and great poise.
Lots of people seemed to think going in that Philadelphia would have an advantage physically. I thought the Patriots’ game plan in the first half was an indication they agreed. Lots of misdirection from New England’s offense, something perhaps Philadelphia prepared for.
In the second half, Brady just went after various matchups and put his team back on top, but the defense that stunk to start the year before righting itself couldn’t hold on.
Remember before the season how the Patriots were a trendy pick to not just win the Super Bowl but go undefeated?
That seems pretty baffling now, doesn’t it? I was buying into the hype, but I have to admit since I cover a variety of topics and sports, I was no expert on their roster last summer.
Upon closer inspection, it’s not that inspiring.
As great as Brady is, he can’t do it himself — and you really can’t fake it with inferior talent on defense.
A side effect of the NFL’s overwhelming popularity seems to be a lot of media people who want to talk about the game don’t know much about it I guess, at least when it comes to actual Xs and Os and talent evaluation.
Anyway, I guess that helps fuel upsets?
Of course, Vegas installed the Pats as a favorite, but that was probably heavily influenced by the belief Brady would simply overcome any and all adversity. Or it was a sucker bet.
Nonetheless, this game was far more won by the Eagles than lost by the Patriots.
That much is evident by the general lack of mistakes by either side (kicking game notwithstanding) .
Philadelphia was rewarded for having a great roster, using it optimally and staying aggressive from start to finish.
Doug Pederson was masterful other than an ill-fated decision to go for two way too early in the game, one that was more than made up for by his fourth down trick play for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
So, the obvious question around here is… what can we learn about all this that can be applied to the Cincinnati Bengals?
Well, start with the coach-quarterback combo.
We’ve looked into this before, but there’s not a lot of difference between Nick Foles and Andy Dalton.
They’re both good enough to beat you or good enough to break your heart if you’re rooting for them.
They have to be used correctly, too, because both their accuracy and their decision-making can run hot and cold.
That takes us back to the coaches.
Marvin Lewis rarely, if ever, coaches with the aggressiveness Pederson showed in the Super Bowl. Are we to expect that to ever change?
I don’t think so.
Pederson’s approach not only paid off with some successful gambles but also seemed to infuse his team with confidence. That probably played no small role in the team’s ability to recover after losing the lead to the Patriots in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
There have been seasons the Bengals had an offense as diverse and well-constructed as Philadelphia’s, but the guy who put it together is in Cleveland, so the offense is a wild card heading into this season.
Bill Lazor has a year to figure out what his guys do well and how to put them in position to succeed.
He does not have the luxury of an offensive line nearly as good as Philadelphia’s, but again at least there’s a chance it gets better with a new mentor for that group and presumably some new players in the room when they begin OTAs.
Bottom line: The Eagles victory proves a team can win with a great roster and an average quarterback.
That’s pretty much been the plan for the Bengals since drafting Dalton, and by far the best chance for it to succeed was torpedoed by his injury in 2015.
Except they came closer to winning a playoff game that year than the ones when Dalton was healthy, and these Eagles also lost their starting quarterback late in this season and went on to win it all.
What was it we were saying about the coach?Follow @marcushartman
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 5:16 PM
The Sinclair College baseball team saved the best for last in its regional baseball tournament in Sandusky on Saturday.
The Tartan Pride rode a late rally to an 11-7 win over Kellogg Community College in the championship game, sending Sinclair to the National Junior College Division II World Series.
Sinclair had been on a dominating run through much of its season. In fact, hadn’t lost a game since late March. That 31-game streak was snapped in the first game of the double-elimination tournament Saturday morning as Kellogg scored nine runs in the first two innings and went on to a 10-4 win.
Just like the first game, Steve Dintaman’s team got off to a slow start in Game 2 when the Bruins scored four times in the top of the second inning.
Down 5-1 in the fourth inning, the Tartan Pride got back in it with a solo home run from Eddie Pursinger to lead off the inning. Then Dylan Carpenter nailed a two run shot, and the deficit was down to one run at 5-4.
Kellogg held a 7-4 advantage in the eighth inning when Sinclair sent 11 batters to the plate. Carpenter started the scoring with an RBI single. Tyler Zaluski followed that with a two-run double, and Sami Mehmed drove in two more runs with a single to left field.
Justin Clarke capped the inning with a two-run single to right field. The Tartan Pride scored seven runs on seven hits in the inning.
Chaney Morgan got the win out of the bullpen, but he needed help in the ninth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jake Webb came in to get a ground ball for the final out.
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 7:21 PM
URBANA — Calvin Dibert didn't have to think long when he was asked if this was the most important start of his Kenton Ridge baseball career. Of course, it was. He's only a sophomore. This was a sectional final.
"It was a little nerve-wracking," Dibert said, "but once I got through the first inning, I was fine after that."
» PHOTOS: Kenton Ridge vs. Ben Logan
Dibert gave up a run in the first inning and one in the seventh inning. In between, the top-seeded Cougars scored three runs in the second inning and then nine in the third to beat No. 2 seed Benjamin Logan 9-2, advancing to a Division II district championship.
Dibert struck out eight batters. He improved to 8-0, and the Cougars improved to 19-5. The key to his performance, Dibert said, "was just letting my defense work. Just throwing strikes the whole game."
» SOFTBALL: Cougars beat Northwestern in sectional final
Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer praised Dibert's maturity.
"He doesn't show his age up there," Shaffer said. "He looks like a seasoned veteran. He doesn't get rattled in any situation."
Kenton Ridge has scored six runs in the third and is still batting with a 9-1 lead against Benjamin Logan. pic.twitter.com/f0RSkrWxPb— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 17, 2018
Kenton Ridge, which won its second sectional title in a row after a five-year drought, will play Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy or Bishop Fenwick in the next round at 11 a.m. Saturday at Miamisburg High School. Those teams play at 5 p.m. Friday in Lebanon after their game was rained out Thursday.
» TRACK: Photos from D-I meet at Wayne
Senior Drew Wichael (3-1, 3.54 ERA) will get the start for Kenton Ridge in the district final. The Cougars seek their first regional semifinal berth since they reached the state semifinals in 2008, Shaffer's first season. They lost in the district final in 2009 (8-2 to Franklin), 2010 (13-4 to Franklin), 2011 (9-4 to Cincinnati McNicholas) and 2017 (10-8 to Waynesville).
"We're due to get over the hump," Shaffer said.
A victory would give Dibert a chance to start an even bigger game next week. He looked ready for the opportunity against Benjamin Logan.
"He was efficient today," Shaffer said. "I think he only pitched to more than four batters one time, and that was in the last inning. It was four or less every inning. He was around the plate. We played good defense. That's what we've done all year. When we've been good, our guys pound the zone, and we play good defense."
Kenton Ridge's offense did its part as well. Jordan Ward, Jaxon Wright and Quinton Roach drove in runs in the second inning.
» FOOTBALL: Area coaches talk about concussions
An inning later, a single by Bailey Armentrout started a six-run rally. A single by Zach Schneider brought in the first run. Matt Tateman walked with the bases loaded to bring in the second run. A single by Ward scored two runs. A single by Roach scored the final two runs.
Kenton Ridge did all that without recording an out.
Kenton Ridge vs. Ben Logan in D-II sectional final at Urbana. pic.twitter.com/FPGVLuBoOM— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) May 17, 2018
Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 3:09 PM
DAYTON — Former Dayton Flyers forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, seeking to become the first UD player drafted since Negele Knight in 1990, worked out for NBA scouts Thursday on the first day of the NBA Combine in Chicago.
» RELATED: Antetokounmpo works out for Raptors
Antetokounmpo, one of 69 players invited to the combine and the only one from the Atlantic 10 Conference, measured 6-foot-9 without shoes. He was the fifth-tallest player of the forwards. He was 6-10½ with shoes. His standing reach of 9-2 was the best of the forwards.
Here at the NBA Draft Combine, Kostas Antetokounmpo says he “had it in my mind” at the beginning of the 2017-18 season to enter the draft.— Robbie Weinstein (@robsw4) May 17, 2018
The NBA released numerous other data points on each of the players. Antetokounmpo weighed 194.8 points. His wingspan was 7-2¼, which ranked 13th among the 69 players.
Antetokounmpo played 20 minutes in a game with other prospects Thursday. He had two points on 1-of-3 shooting, four rebounds and two blocks.
In an interview posted to NBA.com, Antetokounmpo said the NBA coaches “showed me film on myself and helped me see my mistakes and stuff I do good on the court.”
Asked what part of his game will translate to the NBA right now, Antetokounmpo said, “I feel my shot-blocking ability and the way I run the floor.”
In an interview on ESPN, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star who’s the older brother of Kostas, said he worked with Kostas in Phoenix this spring. Giannis is also at the combine.
» FORMER FLYERS: Three UD basketball alums teaming up again
One mock draft by ESPN had Kostas being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round with the 56th overall pick.
“He’s just got to work hard every day,” Giannis said. “When I was his age, I paid attention to detail. You can never be satisfied. You always have chapters in your life. This is a big chapter in his life. No matter what happens today, no matter what happens tomorrow or no matter what happens in the draft, he’s got to come out the better player. That’s the most important thing: be a better player every day. Kostas can be really good. He’s got to work on a lot of things. He’s got to work on his game. He can get a lot better. But with the right fit, the right team, he can do great things in the NBA.”
Here's one minute of Kostas Antetokounmpo answering questions in Greek pic.twitter.com/vadnIQyqHL— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) May 17, 2018
Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 4:12 PM
— The Sinclair Community College baseball team is one win away from the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series.
The Tartan Pride (beat Cuyahoga Community College 10-3 on Friday to reach the finals of the Region 12 tournament in Sandusky.
»ARCHDEACON: Sinclair baseball one of nation’s best
Sinclair, which won its 31st straight game, will face the winner of this afternoon’s Cuyahoga-Kellogg winner at 9 a.m. Saturday in the championship game. Kellogg or Cuyahoga would have to beat Sinclair twice in the double-elimination tournament.
Sinclair takes Cuyahoga in a 10-3 win!! The boys are in the finals! You guys are awesome! Catch the recap with @CoachDintz41 giving us the insight on the game today and what’s next for our boys! Roll Pride!! pic.twitter.com/9hhKll8nxa— Sinclair College (@SinclairCC) May 18, 2018
On Friday, Colin Shepherd went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and scored two runs to pace Sinclair (43-8). Brandon Henson added a double, triple and three RBIs. Luke Williamson was the winning pitcher.