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Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 9:38 AM
— Back in the saddle today after nearly two weeks of nearly not working at all. Did I miss anything?
I logged back in 12 hours or so early to weigh in on the stunning announcement Marvin Lewis and the Bengals will be staying together for at least another year or two.
This is inexplicable from both sides.
I’m usually not one who favors change for the sake of change, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case.
I might be more surprised Lewis wanted to keep working for the Bengals than that the Bengals wanted to keep him in their employ.
He’s obviously an accomplished coach who has done plenty of good for the organization, but he seemed pretty worn down most of this year.
Beyond that, there are the frequent questions about who is really running things from a football standpoint. They boil down to this: How often is he saddled with people he doesn’t want on his team or coaching staff, and how much does that affect the ups and downs of the Bengals under his watch?
When things go wrong, oftentimes there’s an implication the guilty party isn’t one of Marvin’s guys, though that is always open to interpretation.
There was speculation he would only stay if he got more control (which might be better than a new coach having even less, I admit, but that’s pretty far out there in the speculation weeds), but Lewis indicated to the team website that isn’t the case.
In providing the team’s second surprising finish in 48 hours, Brown and Lewis stayed together after hammering out what appeared to be primarily coaching personnel. Issues such as roster control and salaries for assistants apparently weren’t part of the discussion.
“(Brown) has his input that he feels in some ways strong about,” Lewis said. “He has those prerogatives encouraging me certain ways. But he doesn’t interfere with me coaching the team.”
So, what gives?
Well I don’t think Adam Schefter just made up that report about Lewis’ intentions a few weeks ago. He might have been misled by a usually reliable source, but I suspect there was at least a lot of truth to it at the time.
As I mentioned then, the trouble with breaking news is it sometimes meants reporting something before it’s officially official and things change on the way to the finish line.
Maybe Lewis really was intent on leaving and had started assessing his other options.
Maybe he didn’t find anything more appealing than his current job — and maybe winning those last two games really made him (and/or Mike Brown) more optimistic about the future down on the Ohio River so one or both sides were more willing to talk reunion than they thought they would be in early December.
Let’s not be all gloom and doom here, though.
Once we get over the shock of this decision and the disappointment of not being able to find out what the Bengals would look like under new management, let’s remember this is a roster with a lot to like.
They’re stuck with an inconsistent quarterback, but the skill positions look loaded — especially if John Ross actually plays next season
The defense had another solid year, but some more pieces are still needed over there — namely another corner, a play-making safety and more athleticism at linebacker.
The biggest question coming out of 2017 is the same as it was going in: What are they going to do with the offensive line?
A new-look lineup, assembled out of desperation, actually looked pretty good the last two weeks. Was the fool’s gold? We’ll have to wait and see…
Meanwhile, Ohio State beat USC in a Cotton Bowl that meant nothing and did pretty poorly in the ratings.
It was a pretty terrible game that provided a reminder just how talented the Buckeyes are on defense and how clueless they were on offense more often than not.
The first year of the Kevin Wilson experiment was pretty much a failure, though I am more than willing to place all of the coaching blame on Urban Meyer for this. At least it exonerates Ed Warinner and Tim Beck to a certain extent, so they’ve got that going for them.
I say this because the problems from day one of the Meyer era in Columbus have been the same: Meyer’s version of the spread offense is outdated and works only thanks to the talent advantage he almost always enjoys over the team on the other sideline (and sometimes not even then).
Of course, J.T. Barrett could have done Meyer a solid and repaid the coach’s loyalty by being a more consistent passer or dynamic runner, but that ended up not being in the cards.
The Texan is still one of the all-time greats at Ohio State who I’m sure will be remembered more fondly in the future by some fans than he is now (which is not to say most aren’t already appreciative of what they just watched), but it’s fair to be excited about what the offense will look next year with a new quarterback since there’s no reason to think the offense will change.
Dwayne Haskins, who might have to try hard to lose the starting job in the spring if anyone else is going to be QB1 next fall, is more talented than Barrett and might be able to get the ball to those talented guys in more advantageous spots, so the offense could become more dangerous simply via his arm, but time will tell…
The College Football Playoff semifinals gave us a thrilling game and a dud, as expected.
I thought Oklahoma would be too much for Georgia, but kudos to the Bulldogs for hanging in there after (probably) breaking Baker Mayfield’s ribs.
Alabama’s beatdown of Clemson could be seen coming from a mile away considering the Crimson Tide are probably about as good as they were last year while Clemson is definitely worse. Even with Deshaun Watson at the controls, the Tigers had to cheat to win by one point in the last seconds, so you can do that math.
Also it probably didn’t hurt Nick Saban’s team to have a month to heal and hear about how they didn’t belong in the final four, not to mention that whole revenge factor thing…
I could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up with some college basketball.
The Dayton Flyers suffered a pretty bad loss at Duquesne on Dec. 30 and face red-hot St. Bonaventure tonight at home.
Since an NCAA tournament at-large bid is out of the question now, there aren’t really any must-win games at this point in the season, but it would seem Anthony Grant’s team needs to get some positive momentum going sooner than later if they want to end up with a respectable record.
The first-year Flyers coach’s substitution patterns continue to be interesting, but perhaps he is playing the long game. His way or the highway could pay off in the long run — if the majority of the guys in the gym buy in…
At the end of this story, Anthony Grant gives a little insight into why Xeyrius Williams and Kostas Antetokounmpo didn't play in the second half Saturday https://t.co/A5pLrrouip— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 2, 2018
Meanwhile, Wright State has won three in a row and six out of its last even.
Coach Scott Nagy’s insistence on playing his way does seem to be paying off, and so is getting his roster closer to full strength. Next up are a pair of games north of the border — at Detroit Mercy on Friday night and at Oakland on Sunday afternoon.
Miami began play in a wide-open MAC race with a 77-72 win at Bowling Green last night.
The 8-6 RedHawks bounced back from a 72-59 loss at Ohio State, where Chris Holtmann’s team is at least worth being interested in again after several years of blah for the Buckeye.Follow @marcushartman
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:24 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:24 PM
CINCINNATI — One of the Reds’ many problems while losing 18 of their first 22 games was defense, especially around second base.
Jose Peraza, back at shortstop as the heir to 2017 All-Star Zack Cozart after losing his second base position to Scooter Gennett last season, had committed just one error in his first 21 games, but he seemed uncomfortable. Grounders that fans were used to see being caught instead were leaking through to the outfield.
»RELATED: Garrett untouchable in bullpen
»RELATED: Reds hope win get them going
Recently, though, Peraza has shown signs that the more he plays, the more comfortable and confident he feels.
“I think he’s playing great,” Gennett said before Tuesday’s game against Atlanta. “He’s been playing that position with more confidence. After switching back and forth, I’m really impressed with how quickly he’s picked it back up again.”
Going into this season, Peraza had started 82 major league games at second back and 77 at shortstop.
Peraza, who turns only 24 on April 30, also was becoming more productive offensively. Going into Tuesday’s game, he had hit .292 since starting the season 0-for-12, pushing his overall average up to .247.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman credits Peraza’s defensive improvement to working with infield coach Freddie Benavides.
“He’s playing good,” Riggleman said of Peraza, acquired from the Dodgers as part of the December 2015 three-team trade in which third baseman Todd Frazier was sent to the White Sox. “He’s an extremely hard worker. I know Freddie’s had to tone him back a little bit. It’s a long season, but I think he’s played fine.”
Riggleman believes shortstops are at a disadvantage because they usually are compared to those who played at the highest level, such as Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel. In Cincinnati, shortstops follow in the footsteps of Roy McMillan and Leo Cardenas and Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin.
“There’s such excellence that to call anybody average is an insult,” Riggleman said. “If you’re an average major league shortstop, you’re pretty good. He’s really swinging the bat and running the bases. He’s a baseball player.”
Cincinnati’s five-man bench allowed Riggleman to make a move that proved decisive in Monday’s 10-4 win over the Braves.
With the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth inning of a tie game, he sent right-handed-hitting Phil Gosselin up to bat against left-hander Sam Freeman. Braves’ manager Brian Snitker replaced Freeman with right-hander Peter Moylan, prompting Riggleman to take down Gosselin and send up left-hander Jesse Winker, who delivered a tie-breaking, run-scoring single.
“The sixth inning is a little earlier than I’d like to do it, but with five players on the bench, it’s easier than with four,” Riggleman said. “With four players, it’s really tough, especially if one of them is a catcher. That makes it tough to maneuver for the rest of the game.”
Tucker Barnhart didn’t have anybody particular in mind as he banged a black Rawlings catcher’s mitt with a bat on the floor in front of his Great American Ball Park home clubhouse cubicle.
The Reds catcher simply was going through the process of breaking in a couple of new gloves. The process is lengthy.
“This one I started on in January and all through spring training,” he said, holding up a third black glove. “I’m hoping it’ll last me close to two years. Rawlings has pretty good leather.”
That means the new gloves might not see the field until 2019.
Barnhart uses a leather conditioner to help with the breaking in process, which also includes him flexing the glove with his hands.
“It’s getting there,” he said.
Sal Romano’s right hand was sore on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he speared Ozzie Albies’ sharp one-hopper with his bare hand and threw him out at first.
Romano’s approach is not recommended.
“We literally talk about it in spring training,” Riggleman said. “The thing is, with the way shifts are, if you let it go, there’s probably going to be a middle infielder there, but its competition. It’s instinct. What you don’t want to have happen is he doesn’t get all of it and it dribbles off into no-man’s land.”
Trading Kevins: Before Tuesday’s game, the Reds reinstated right-hander Kevin Schackelford from the 10-day disabled list and designated right-hander Kevin Quackenbush for assignment, leaving the 40-man roster at 39. Schackelford was sidelined since March 29 with a right forearm strain. Quackenbush was 0-1 with an 11.00 earned-run average in 10 games.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 2:39 PM
DAYTON — The newest Dayton Flyers recruit, Frankie Policelli, turned 18 last week, his dad Frank said, and like every other birthday in his life, Frankie shared it with two other members of his family: his brother Niko and sister Amber.
The Policellis are triplets.
“It’s been quite an exciting, fast 18 years, I tell you that much,” said Frank Policelli, an attorney in Utica, N.Y.
Frankie wrote the latest chapter in that story Monday, announcing his verbal commitment to the Dayton Flyers. He’s the third member of UD’s 2018 recruiting class along with Dwayne Cohill and Jhery Matos. Dayton now has nine scholarship players on the roster for the 2018-19 season and has the opportunity to add as many as four more as recruiting continues in the weeks ahead.
» RELATED: Former Dayton forward heading to Akron
Frank described his son’s recruiting process as intense. Policelli, a 6-foot-8 small forward who is bordering on 6-9, according to his coaches, had scholarship offers from Cincinnati Maryland, Illinois, Texas Tech and others.
“He was making a big decision,” Frank said. “You have to consider a lot of factors. There’s a lot of variables. At the end of the day, this was the best option for him to pursue. You want to have the balance of a good education and a good basketball opportunity at the same time. Dayton had the best offer for him from both a basketball and educational point of view.”
Here’s a quick glance at other reacts and comments to Policelli’s commitment:
John Buck, Long Island Lutheran head coach: "He’s explosive,” Buck said. “He really shoots the ball well. He can get hot. He had games where he hit 6, 7 and 8 3s for us in different games. He rebounds the ball. He’s just a really, humble, selfless kid."
» UPDATE: What the Dayton roster looks like now
Buck said Policelli averaged 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the free-throw line.
“He’s playing with five other Division I players,” Buck said. “Twelve points a game is not 12 points a game at your local public school.”
Jay David, New York Jayhawks executive director and Long Island Lutheran assistant coach: “He’s an amazing kid,” David said, “a great person off the floor, and I think with Dayton, they’re getting a kid who’s just now scratching the surface, similar with Obadiah (Toppin) when he went to Dayton. Frankie is 6-8, 6-9, a lefty shooter, a really strong kid — or will be a really strong kid — and brings a lot of positives to a program. He’s high character. Basketball wise, it’s a great fit for him. They really wanted him there. He felt comfortable with coach (Anthony) Grant, and I think he’s going to grow there.”
Pretty excited to think about 6’9” Frankie Policelli and 6’8” ball of energy Obi Toppin deflecting passes and shutting down the lane at UD Arena for the next four years. #GoFlyers 🔴🔵✈️— Tom Hirt (@FLYRFN) April 24, 2018
Frankie Policelli (Long Island Lutheran HS) committed to the Dayton flyers per his twitter page. I watched him at the Beach Ball Classic. He is a 6'8" slender bucket getter, who owns long range shooting ability with a drive game. His offensive versatility, along with a legitimate— Paul Biancardi (@PaulBiancardi) April 24, 2018
Dayton lands the commitment of 2018 forward Frankie Policelli, per his Twitter page. Big-time get for Anthony Grant. High-upside kid with great size and athleticism who had Power 5 offers.— Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central) April 24, 2018
Young core starting to come into focus for Dayton with Crutcher, Cohill, & Policelli.
Big time congrats are in order for ‘18 6’9 Frankie Policelli on his commitment to Dayton!!! There’s no limit from here, continue to rise Frankie!! #jayhawksrising #wearethejayhawks pic.twitter.com/5exiBVSD0p— NY JAYHAWKS (@NYJayhawks) April 24, 2018
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 9:50 AM
— Chalk one up for Jim Riggleman.
The interim manager of the Cincinnati Reds moved Scott Schebler up to the leadoff spot, and the offense promptly exploded for 10 runs in a victory over the Braves.
Schebler was a big part of it, going 2 fo 5 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
He hit the first Reds home run in a week and made Riggleman look pretty smart.
Not that I get the impression that was what the skipper was really going for:
“We’re 3-and-whatever we are,” Riggleman said before the game. “We’ve got to try anything.”
Sometimes managerial magic is interchangeable with luck, and I think we can all agree “anything” is better than the first three weeks of the season for the Reds.
Riggleman also sounds committed to batting Billy Hamilton ninth until he starts to look like a real major-league hitter, so I guess we can rule out the second coming of Dusty Baker here (old-school baseball man who insists on speed at the top of the lineup regardless of on-base percentage).
It is amazing how quickly this became a put-up-or-ship-out season for Hamilton, who apparently could have been traded in December and now may have a lot less value after a bad spring and worse start to the regular season.
Sal Romano pitched six good innings, striking out five and allowing only one earned run, to get his first win of the season.
Sports Today RT: @marcushartman sorts out reactions to the firing of Bryan Price, locals make mark on @OhioStateFB in spring, thoughts on the @Bengals schedule and more https://t.co/HfzMonxLrB pic.twitter.com/ObosrqzrIS— daytonsports (@daytonsports) April 20, 2018
More good news: Eugenio Suarez should be back in a Reds uniform soon. The third baseman is scheduled to play in Triple-A for Louisville tonight on a rehab assignment for his fractured thumb.
It’s probably too late to salvage a .500 record this season, but the Reds offense should look a heck of a lot better with Suarez and Schebler back in the lineup.
At least management should still get a chance to sort out which of the guys in the majors deserve to be in Cincinnati long term and who can be moved out to make room for youngsters moving up in the improved farm system.
There was some bad news, though.
Hunter Greene was knocked around as the Dayton Dragons lost their third straight game.
The Reds’ most-recent first-round pick took his first loss of the season after failing to get out of the first inning.
He allowed seven runs, including a grand slam, and recorded only two outs.
Greene walked three and gave up four hits.
For what it’s worth, three of the runs charged to Greene scored with Austin Orewiler on the mound in relief.
I mention that because Greene showed a knack for getting out of trouble in his first two starts.
If you’re keeping score, he’s gone from great to average to pretty bad in three times out for Dayton.
PREVIOUSLY: Greene battles elements in second start
Bumps in the road were always to be expected, of course, especially for such a young fella.
It will be interesting to see how he bounces back and how quickly he can develop a game plan for hitters who are willing to wait for his fastball and can lay off his breaking stuff.
The Dragons are the definition of streaky so far, having lost three in a row to start the season, won nine and now lost three more in a row…
Dayton Flyers Head Coach @Shauna_Green in the spotlight in this week’s “Stay Right There” podcast. Check it out and make sure you like us and leave a review. @UDWomensBball @whiotv @daytonsports https://t.co/qKTytLiPZD— Mike Hartsock (@MHartsockWHIO) April 24, 2018
Dayton Flyers basketball made news Monday, too, as one player announced he is joining up and another announced where he is going next.
Frank Policelli, a 6-foot-8 forward from Long Island, will be eligible to help Anthony Grant’s team this fall after verbally committed Monday.
He is a three-star top 300 recruit in the 2018 class who played AAU ball with current Flyer Obadiah Toppin.
Meanwhile, Xeyrius Williams revealed he plans to continue his college basketball career at Akron.
The former Wayne High School star was a starter two seasons ago but opted to transfer after an injury-plagued junior season.
At 6-9 with the ability to shoot the three, he could be a force in the MAC -- but not until 2019-20.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:18 PM
When Preston Brown walked through the Bengals locker room for the first time after signing a one-year, $5 million contract, he noticed his number — 52 — already was assigned to Brandon Bell.
“I’ll have a talk with him and see what we can work out,” Brown said.
But that conversation never happened.
“When I showed up last week (for the start of voluntary offseason workouts), I already had it,” Brown said.
Bell was just as surprised was Brown, but he said he understood.
“It’s a veteran thing,” Bell said. “I get it. They say we’re still rookies. I don’t mind it too much. It is what it is.”
›› RELATED: Cincinnati Bengals 7-round mock draft
Bell wore 11 in college so he didn’t have an attachment to 52. This year he will wear 51, which belonged to Kevin Minter last year.
Even though Bell didn’t have a say in the swap, Brown said he still plans to thank him.
“I’m going to have to take him out to dinner or something,” Brown said.
“I’ll take him up on that offer,” Bell said. “A nice steak would be great.”