Flashes take on OU Bobcats in final home game of the season
- Written by Drew Jones
- Hits: 254
The Kent State Golden Flash volleyball team continues play this week with two Mid-American Conference matches. Thursday night, the Flashes will host the Ohio Bobcats to mark the final home game of the year for the 2012 season at the M.A.C. Saturday night, the Flashes will hit the road and take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
Last week, the Flashes hosted two home conference games against Bowling Green and Miami (OH). The Flashes dropped their first match to Bowling Green in a close five set contest. The Golden Flashes dropped their second match of the week to Miami in four sets.
Kent State will enter Thursday night’s match with an overall record of 6-18 and a conference record 3-9. After going 0-2 last week, first-year head coach Don Gromala said his team has to focus on a couple key things to avoid another disappointing weekend.
“We have to maintain our composure after we win a set,” Gromala said. “Teams are making adjustments on us, and we aren’t countering those adjustments.”
With Thursday’s match marking the end of the home campaign and with the season coming to an end, Gromala knows how important these last few games are.
“Every match is important at this time of season,” Gromala said. “We’re still in the mix to qualify for the M.A.C. Tournament, and we are focusing on one match at a time.”
Kent State first opponent of the week is the Ohio Bobcats. The Bobcats will enter Thursday night’s match with an overall record of 16-8 and a MAC record 11-1. Ohio will come into the match with an 11 game win streak and currently hold the top spot in the Mid-American Conference standings. Last week the Bobcats had two home matches against Miami and Bowling Green. The Bobcats won both matches, while defeating Miami in four sets, and Bowling Green in three.
This won’t be the first time that the Bobcats and the Golden Flashes have faced each other this year. The Flashes made the trip to Ohio University in late September, where the Bobcats won the match in three sets.
“They are solid defensively,” Gromala said about the Bobcats. “They’re the best blocking team in the conference, and very disciplined with their floor defense.”
The Golden Flashes second opponent of the week is the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Eagles will head into this week’s conference play with an overall record 15-13 and a conference record of 5-7. Last week, Eastern Michigan had two road conference matches against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. The Eagles split the two matches as they defeated Northern Illinois in four sets, and suffered a three set loss to Western Michigan.
Before Eastern Michigan hosts Kent State on Saturday night, they will have a home match against Central Michigan on Thursday night. This will be the first time this season that Kent State and Eastern Michigan will square off. Last year, the Flashes and the Eagles had one match against each other, and Eastern Michigan prevailed in a five set contest at Kent State.
With the two matches this week, Gromala knows what his team has to do to come out victorious.
“Number one for us is passing the ball well,” Gromala said. “In order to spread out our offense, and take some stress off of our outside hitters, we have to be in system to set our middles.”
With Thursday night’s match being the last one of the 2012 season, the Kent State Golden Flashes will host its 2012 senior night. Kent State will recognize senior co-captain Kathy Krupa during the Senior Day festivities. Krupa, who is from Burbank, Ill., is ranked 6th in school history in blocks per set and ninth in block assists. They will recognize Krupa following the match against Ohio, which starts at 7 p.m.
Irving starts fast for the Cavaliers
- Written by Sam Drew
- Hits: 343
Reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving continued where he left off last season, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Washington Wizards, 94-84, in Tuesday's season opener.
Irving led all scorers with 29 points on 11-for-20 shooting while adding three assists and six rebounds.
Some might say that Irving’s offensive out-pouring last night was due to the Wizards being without John Wall, who had a left patella stress injury. But, over the last two seasons, backup point guard A.J. Price had a better defensive rating than Wall while in Indiana.
Despite breaking his hand this off-season, and it being only one game, there is no question that Irving has made a jump from his rookie season and is the “real deal.”
Another player who seemed to pick up where he left off was power forward/center Anderson Varejao, who missed the last 41 games last season after breaking his wrist against the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 10.
Varejao finished one point and one assist short of his first career double-double, collecting a career-high 23 rebounds and a team-record 12 offensive rebounds while becoming the first player to have at least nine points, 23 rebounds, 12 offensive boards and nine assists since Philadelphia 76ers power forward Charles Barkley on March 20, 1987.
Fellow frontcourt starter Tristan Thompson also had an impressive game, recording the 10th double-double of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Thompson also set a career-high in assists with five.
Another bright spot for the Cavs that was muted by the great play of Irving and Varejao was rookie Dion Waiters, who finished with 17 points on six-for-14 shooting, including two-for-five from behind-the-arc, two rebounds and three steals as he outshined Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal.
In last June’s NBA Draft, many Cavs fans wanted Cleveland to select Beal, who finished with eight points on two-for-eight shooting, three assists, three rebounds and two turnovers, with its No. 4 pick. But, Washington selected Beal one pick earlier, and the Cavs had to “settle” for Waiters.
Now, one game in, Waiters looks like a “steal” for the Cavs, who should have a dominant backcourt for seasons-to-come. But, for that to happen, they need to take care of the ball better.
Irving and Waiters combined for seven of the team’s 21 turnovers last night, which is unacceptable for your two prominent ball handlers, especially when they had only three assists to go with it.
Turnovers are not new for the Cavs, though. Last season, Cleveland averaged 15.4 turnovers per game, which put them 27th in the league. Cavs coach Byron Scott strongly believes in discipline and expects his players to be smart with the ball.
Although turning the ball over too much won’t send Irving or Waiters to the bench, it will be a topic of conversation until they have better control of the ball.
Another disappointment from last night was the play of the Cavs’ bench.
Except for Daniel Gibson, who finished with 10 points on three-for-five shooting and two-for-four behind-the-arc, Cleveland’s reserves finished with only 13 points on six-for-16 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and seven turnovers.
Overall, the Cavs are a team that has talent but is developing and missing one or two pieces from really contending. At home, Cleveland should really shine, but, on the road, they should struggle. It will be interesting to see if they can win outside the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena.
Sam Drew is a contributing basketball columnist for the Daily Kent Stater and the founder and editor of the Cavaliers blog Dear Dan Gilbert
Follow Sam Drew and his blog on Twitter. @DearDanGilbert
Professional leagues plan to play after superstorm
- Written by Barry Wilner and John Wawrow
- Hits: 394
With much of the Northeast immersed in the recovery from superstorm Sandy's devastating blow, the NFL and NBA plan to carry on with their schedules.
The New York City Marathon is still hoping that the course will be clear by Sunday and runners will be able to get to the starting line in Staten Island.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank Tuesday said through his Twitter account the season-opening games Tuesday night in Miami, Los Angeles and Cleveland — the Wizards flew out of Washington Monday 7 a.m. — are set to tip off on time.
"For the many asking: Tonight's NBA games will be played. We are still assessing the situation with regards to the rest of the week," he tweeted.
Of concern: Philadelphia is supposed to host its opener Wednesday. And the Nets' first game at their new Brooklyn home against the crosstown-rival Knicks on Thursday could be in jeopardy, too. The new arena is heavily dependent on mass transit and with the New York City subways and commuter rail out for what is expected to be several days, the league may choose to postpone that party if fans are kept away.Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes Sunday's game in New Jersey against the New York Giants will go on as scheduled and plans to prepare that way. Tomlin said he understands the league will be looking at any logistical issues caused by the storm's aftermath may present but added the Steelers will stick to their weekly routine unless they hear from NFL officials.
Tomlin might have to wait a day for the final word. All 32 teams were notified Monday that the league's offices would be closed through Tuesday.
The NFL had already moved its trade deadline back two days to Thursday because of potential complications from the storm. The deadline now is 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, when waivers for vested veterans also begin.
Around the league, the Giants, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles reported no damage at their practice facilities. The Baltimore Ravens, though, were running a generator at their complex. Players were off but the hope is electricity will be restored for regular practice Wednesday.
Five days before 50,000 runners take to the course that meanders through the streets of New York City's five boroughs, NYC Marathon organizers backtracked a bit from Monday's promise that they would have enough time before Sunday to prepare the course and for runners to travel to the area.
On Tuesday, officials only would promise an update on race preparations. Lower Manhattan was especially hit hard and many runners need to take the ferry to the start in Staten Island.
Record-setting Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Summer Games, but his thoughts were back in Maryland.
"I'm kind of nervous to go back home because I don't know if my house is going to be underwater or not. It will be an interesting trip," Phelps said. "I know that we will all sort of bounce back from everything that is going on. It's kind of wild seeing all the pictures and all the coverage — it's all I have been watching really since I have been here. It's sad. It's part of life."
The St. Cloud State women's hockey team was stranded Tuesday in Rhode Island. The Huskies were supposed to catch a flight out of Boston on Monday after playing a weekend series against Providence College. They hope to fly back to Minnesota on Thursday. Their home opener is Friday.
In response to the storm, Indiana State is giving fans several opportunities to make donations in the days leading up to their football game against Illinois State on Saturday.
Terre Haute Catholic Charities will give a free ticket to each fan that donates at least five pounds of items. Donors to the American Red Cross will also get a free ticket to the game.
Looking ahead on the sports calendar to August, Oak Hill Country Club, the site of 2013 PGA championship in upstate New York, lost several trees in the storm. But still standing is the famed Leaning Oak — supported by a steel beam since 1956 — on the right side of the 12th hole.
"The Leaning Oak, that tree weathered the storm and is unscathed, which is remarkable considering how long it's been supported by that steel beam for decades now," tournament director Ryan Cannon said, "and the trees that did come down were not all that far from the leaning oak. Pretty amazing."___
AP Sports Writers Barry Wilner and John Wawrow contributed to this report.
Ohio State coming around to Miller for Heisman
- Written by Rusty Miller, AP
- Hits: 193
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer refused for weeks to even discuss quarterback Braxton Miller's Heisman Trophy chances. Now Meyer, who coached a Heisman winner at Florida named Tim Tebow, is joining a growing number of those who think the Buckeyes sophomore might just be a viable contender.
"Do I believe he's a Heisman candidate? I do," Meyer said this week. "I didn't say that before. But I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate. He has to play much better. However, just from sheer production for a team that's 9-0, it puts him in that category."
It might not seem like a very bold statement, a coach simply citing his player's chances. After all, every college player in America is technically a candidate.
But Meyer's words also have given others at Ohio State tacit approval to go ahead with a campaign to put Miller in the spotlight more.
"By him agreeing that Braxton Miller is a Heisman Trophy candidate, that's important," Ohio State sports information director for football Jerry Emig said. "From this point forward, we're going to let (Braxton's) play on the field do most of his talking. Don't get me wrong — hype is good. But I also do think that Ohio State's tradition and history dictates that hype for our players for these kinds of honors is earned and not created."
Based on what he's done on the field, Miller deserves to be in the Heisman conversation.
Last week in a 35-23 win at Penn State, Miller became the third Big Ten quarterback to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season. He is 11th in the country and first in the conference at 121 yards a game. His passing numbers are nothing special. He has completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,527 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions.
A shifty runner, Miller is at his breathtaking best in the open field. He has runs this season of 72, 67, 65, 55, 37 yards, three of 33 yards, and another for 31 yards.
Individual stats are one thing, but Miller's candidacy has gotten another boost because he has been the linchpin of a team with a 9-0 record and is ranked No. 6 in the nation.
So don't be surprised if Ohio State flexes its PR muscles to try to help Miller become the school's eighth Heisman winner.
The university has never been shy about promoting players for awards. That includes curmudgeonly coach Woody Hayes, a larger-than-life figure who was fine with the hype machine helping out Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner (1974-75).
"Woody was never concerned about promoting a player, although everyone would probably think he was diametrically opposed to it," said Marv Homan, who worked in Ohio State's athletic communications department from 1949-87. "Woody knew Archie's popularity with the team, and he was not concerned with singling him out for attention. He knew it would be the same Archie Griffin showing up every day at practice and every Saturday for games."
Back then, Ohio State would include a special set of statistics highlighting Griffin's gaudy accomplishments. Opposing coaches raving about Griffin's balance and cutting ability would also be a part of the package.
The numbers — 5,589 career yards rushing, seasons of 1,577 and 1,695 yards as a junior and senior when the Buckeyes went 21-3 — spoke volumes.
Now Miller is approaching the end of a long season. Ohio State is banned from the postseason so he won't have a bowl game to further prove himself. But Heisman voting is completed in early December, so that is a moot point.
Meyer coached Tebow at Florida when he won the Heisman in 2008.
Miller is only a sophomore, but so was Tebow, who was the first sophomore to win the bronze statuette.
"I have a little experience at that award," Meyer said.
If the first step is just being identified as a contender, then Miller's campaign is already well under way. Ohio State doesn't plan on putting his face on coffee mugs, T-shirts or mouse pads and mailing them out to Heisman voters.
"I'm not certain that we need to have any kind of gimmick," Emig said. "The whole goal of hype is name recognition. If you plug in the terms 'Braxton Miller' and 'Heisman' in a search engine, right now you're going to generate 415,000 hits. I just did that a short while ago."
So it's still basically up to Miller and how the rest of the season goes. The Buckeyes play lowly Illinois at home on Saturday, then have a bye week before playing at Wisconsin and closing the season against rival Michigan. If Miller continues to play well, and Ohio State continues to win, things will take care of themselves.
Meanwhile, the guy who stands to be Miller's campaign manager is standing by, watching closely.
"If there's something that needs to be done just to cement that 'this is the guy,'" Emig said, "We'll be in a position to do something to secure some top-of-mind recognition as we head into that first week in December."
Batton named MAC Defensive Player of the Week
- Written by Tim Dorst
- Hits: 765
Kent State linebacker Luke Batton received Mid-American Conference recognition following the Flashes’ upset victory over Rutgers.
Batton was named MAC East Division Defensive Player of the Week Monday for his performance in Kent State’s 35-23 weekend victory against the Scarlet Knights.
The senior recorded 13 tackles, a sack and an interception in Saturday’s win. Batton, who is one of the captains on the Flashes’ defense, leads the team in total tackles this season with 84.
Batton also currently ranks fourth in the MAC in total tackles, having compiled 10 or more tackles in six of the team’s eight games. In his last three games, Batton has a total of 43 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery return for a touchdown.
This marks the second time in his career that Batton has received defensive player of the week honors. Batton earned the award last season after recording 10 tackles, including 1 1/2 tackles for loss, in a 27-15 win over Bowling Green on Oct. 29, 2011.