Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Lorain Catholic Closes out its Gymnasium in Style

74-39 win gives team share of conference title

What an experience, but where to begin?
This game was originally scheduled as a home game for the Patriots of Open Door Christian school. Being without a gymnasium of their own, Open Door usually plays their home games in the gym of the now closed Elyria West High School. However, Open Door head coach Alan Januzzi, an LC alum and one of only three boys' basketball coaches in LC history, felt it was only appropriate that this game be played in the LC gym.
This was the game of the week for both of the radio stations that carry Lorain County High School basketball. The entire student body joined the cheerleaders in forming a tunnel for the Lorain Catholic Spartans on the floor. Being as Open Door was still considered the home team, Lorain Catholic came out in their red uniforms. How appropriate, a radio announcer pointed out, since the home jerseys simply said "Spartans," but the away jerseys read "Lorain Catholic." The crowd was a sea of red and white. Although the "Spartan Superfans" were definitely not as good as in my day (harumph harumph), it was nice to see some spirit and fire in the student section.
A prayer by the principal of Open Door was followed by the National Anthem, begun by two LC senior girls, but joined by every person in the now-packed gym. Next, LC assistant principal Jim Lawhead - Lorain County's second-winningest basketball coach all time (516 wins) and father of current LC coach Matt Lawhead - approached center court. His words were emotional: part eulogy and part pep talk. "We have our memories, and they can never take those away from us!"
This would have been a great night for basketball even without the surrounding circumstances. LC was playing for a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference title. They were one game back of Open Door in the conference standings, and their only conference loss this year was to that same Open Door team. LC moved out to a huge lead in that game, but once they took the defensive pressure off, Open Door came back and won it in the final seconds. So, LC needed to stay aggressive this whole game. Also of note, LC senior Brandon Neal was 11 points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career. In attendance was his father, a former LC 1,000 point scorer.
The game started the same way the last Spartan-Patriot contest did: LC bumfuzzled Open Door with active, agressive defense and a full court press, while a tightly packed Open Door 1-2-2 zone cut Neal off from the basket and exposed LC's outside shooting weakness. The score was 14-8 after one. Then, the "Noel Kukucka John Ziegler David Heatley Matt Hess Chris Pastor John Katricak Michelle Hennes Liesel Stevens Michael Pogachar (?) (?) Memorial Pep Band" (named after the senior leader of the pep band for each year; I lost count shortly after I graduated) performed the signature drum cadence/cheer of LC, "Super Spartans." This of course fired up the Spartan Superfans, and it apparently sparked the basketball team as well.
The Spartans press came out in full force, and really opened up the game. Only a few key three pointers gave Open Door a glimmer of hope. But that glimmer may have been ousted with 1.6 seconds left in the half. It was then that Brandon Neal hit a driving jumper to put himself over the 1,000 point mark. LC coach Matt Lawhead's pregame decision to not stop the game for Neal payed off, as LC guard Michael Cruz stole the inbound pass for another quick two before halftime.
The second half was only more bad news for Open Door. Not only did the LC press completely shut down the Open Door offense before it even got halfway to center court, but Brandon Neal also started to discover his three point touch. Neal was taken out of the game after hitting 30 points, and was rewarded with hugs from his coaches, parents, and the grandmother who raised him. Lorain Catholic's huge lead gave Coach Lawhead plenty of time to play his bench. The bench bunch's night was capped off by a bank shot three from the top of the key with 20 seconds left. (note to Hoosiers fans: Coach Matt Lawhead's solution to slow down the running up of the score: 5 passes!)
LC's basketball court was built to be college sized, so Jim Lawhead can use his fast, well-conditioned teams to run circles around opponents. This night was a return to that style of play - the elder Lawhead could definitely be proud of the Spartans' uptempo offense and active, swarming defense.
Postgame started with the student section storming the court and shouting the fight song. The LC boys proceeded to cut down the north net. Coach Matt Lawhead took his loop of the net and handed the scissors to his father Jim. Jim Lawhead finished of the net, raised his fists triumphantly, and gave one more signature whistle. The LC girls' team took care of the south net, with head coach Angie Chet passing things off to her mentor Ken Pogachar.
What followed was a family reunion. No one wanted to leave. People were hugging and reminicing and having a great old time with people they hadn't seen in ages. It was quite an experience, and it will not be soon forgotten by anyone in attendance.

Irish Men Overpower UCLA 75-60

Timmermans celebrates 1,000 nicknames with 20 points

UCLA just doesn't look good this year. ND got off to its traditional slow shooting start, but fortunately the Bruins got off to an even worse one.
Chris Thomas shot over 40% for the first time in, well, probably ever. Chris Quinn stepped up in his new role as a spark off the bench, shooting 4-6 from three point land. No one on the Irish got more than 8 rebounds (that honor went to Tom Timmermans), but when you shoot 48.4% for the game, who needs rebounding? (no, I don't really mean that).
It was a fun game to watch, but unfortunately UCLA doesn't quite have the RPI clout this year to make this an important win.

Good Ol' Fashioned Ramblings

  • Did you ever notice how much that one guy in the "wingdog" commercial looks like a dark haired Pete McCall? He even gives a very Pete McCall-esque look at the end of the commercial. Maybe it is Pete. After all, he is an official Coors Light beer taster.
  • The fact that there are only 26 kids signed up for next year's freshman class is listed as the main reason for LC's closing. Two LC mothers have started a "recruiting campaign" of sorts, going around to try and sign kids up for LC next year. The mothers site an increased focus on fundrasing and a decreased focus on recruiting as the reason for LC's downfall. An increased focus on fundraising and a decreased focus on recruiting? NDNation would have a field day with this.
  • There was one kid on the Open Door team that looked exactly like Nick Setta. Ellen, if you were there, you would have run out on the court and hugged him.
  • I was reading today about a southern congresswoman (that's right, she's female) who actually wants to repeal the women's right to vote. She claims that women's sufferage has greatly hurt family values. In the old days, men could vote and make decisions for their spouses. She sees this as a resposibility of men; men are not making decisions for women, instead they are simply speaking on women's behalf. This frees up time for women to clean house and tend to family. So, the ability of women to vote and run for congress is simply a result of men being lazy and not doing their spousal duty, according to this women.
  • Still can't decide who to vote for in the presidential election? Yeah, right, not this group. Well, if you are, check out this site. I won't tell you my complete results, but apparently a 51% match with the Socialist Party. Coincidentally, the candidate closest to my views (although only a 63% match) is also a Cleveland-area man of Polish decent with funny hair and who enjoys polka, bowling, and kielbasa.

NFL Draft 2004 Notes

  • Julius Jones is apparently drawing interest from the Dallas Cowboys as a second round pick.
  • Early reports state that Darrell Campbell would like to play DT if at all possible.
  • Other reports also state that Senator Courtney Watson would like to play weakside linebacker. If I was a broadcaster who was trying to sound smart, I would say he wanted to play the "Will" linebacker, then spend the next 10 minutes explaining why it's called that.

Bubble Watch

ND Men

Current RPI: 49
Conference Leaders < 49: 12
Adjusted Bubble RPI: 37
So, they're close. Of course, moving up 6 spots moved them past 3 conference leaders. It'll take a good run in the Big East tourney to make the big tourney.

ND Women

The womens' #10 SOS gives them an RPI of 23. A loss to Rutgers apparently didn't hurt, as the women actually moved up two spots. A 15 point lead over Syracuse with 8 minutes left on senior night should also help the Irish.

KankaMatic Corrections

Thanks to Dave for the input. Like I've said, I don't have an exstensive fantasy baseball experience base, so all suggestions help. Here's some corrections, which I'll also post on the KankaMatic site.
  • I'll cut the number of relief pitchers down to 3 (unless you want to barter me down to two). There are few enough players that each team should get at least 2 decent closers and a good setup man (or two decent closers and a mediocre one). I'll update the autodraft order so 2/3 of the pitcher rounds are for starters (SP-SP-RP-SP-SP-RP instead of alternating).
  • I'll cut fielding down to 10%. I was hoping to accomplish two things with fielding: 1) make the National League guys happy by making it a disadvantage to carry a pure DH and 2) show that all-glove, no-hit players (like me) are entirely underrated.
  • Yes, if you want, you can carry a bench of 8 catchers. But, seing that Joe Mauer of the Twins is a top 15 catcher and hasn't played a game yet, I don't think you'd want to. Plus, if one of your "starters" gets hurt, you'll need a replacement. (interesting note on Joe Mauer: a few years back, the Twins had the first overall pick. Knowing they couldn't afford obvious #1 Mark Prior, they decided to take local HS prospect Mauer. If contract negotiations hadn't worked with Mauer, the Twins would have taken Matt Macri, now Notre Dame's starting SS. The fortunate thing for Macri is, if he had been drafted, his play probably would have made him a "bust" and had him out of baseball by now.)

Transaction Wire tomorrow; NL Central Thursday.