Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Early morning, blue skies and football

April 4, 2008

The CMU football team practiced for just the second time outside today, and I was fortunate enough to be there at 9 a.m. after rolling out of bed.  It was a little chilly, but I can’t complain — the sun was shining at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The quarterbacks were hyped and ready to go — Brian Brunner was cracking jokes as Dan LeFevour led him and Steve Beltowski through pre-practice aerobics. Andrew Hartline came out of the dressing room and let out a big yell — he was ready to go. It was a good way to start the day. I went to my 9:30 class more awake than I think I’ve been all semester with thoughts of the spring game and 70 degree weather on my mind.   

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Wrestlemania

March 31, 2008

Note: I’ve been watching wrestling since I was three. I’ve been trying to find an excuse to use my power as News Editor at CM Life to make people read what I think about it. Here goes.

JBL vs. Finlay: We were late and I missed this match. I’m going to borrow the tape and watch it, but JBL won, which is alright I guess because both guys are pretty cool. I hope they stretch this feud out and keep Hornswoggle out of the picture. These two big old guys can fight.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Every year part of me wants to say this is the match of the night and part of me wants to say it’s the worst match of the night. You don’t get any storyline, no one sells leg, back, or shoulder injuries, and half the moves don’t look like they’re supposed to. Frankly, at some points I was too worried about the wrestlers to care much about what was going on in the ring. CM Punk took a standing Green Bay Plunge onto a ladder that made a cracking sound that made me cringe. Shelton Benjamin also took a sick bump, flipping over the top rope and landing on a wooden ladder that cracked in half. Every year, we get a lot from Money in the Bank in a short period of time (under 20 minutes) and every year come the end I think “couldn’t you have been more climactic than that?” This year, the end came when Jericho somehow (it was never explained how) got his leg caught in the ladder while him and CM Punk were climbing one end each, leaving Jericho hanging upside down and letting Punk grab the briefcase. I love CM Punk and I hope he takes the Money in the Bank opportunity and moves to Raw or Smackdown, he has quite frankly done all he can on ECW. I think he’d be a great fit on Smackdown, with its younger viewership where his straight edge lifestyle could serve as a kind of role model for kids. At least showing them that not everyone who abstains from drugs and alcohol is a total square.  ***

Batista vs Umaga: Maybe I went into this match with unrealistic expectations, but while I was excited about the process of these two quick, powerful big men fighting each other in what was sure to be a brutal match, it ended up being mostly forgettable. Umaga dominated the match, but Batista came out of nowhere and hit a Batista Bomb. I’m using the term loosely, because Batista actually fell over while he was delivering it. You wonder why the guy gets injured so much, it’s because of stupid botches like this one. He finished the move and it still looked cool, but a little sloppy. The worst part is you could visibly see not only during the match but in the replay when Batista fell over doing the move, he started laughing. I like Batista, I saw him outside of Wrestlemania 23, I was like three feet away from him and told him good luck on his match with Undertaker and he said “thank you” but have some professionalism, man. Of course, if I botched the finish at the biggest event of the year, I’d probably laugh too. * 1/2*

Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero This match was pointless. Kane chokeslammed Chavo and the fans cheered, but that’s about it. This is to wrestling what Robot Chicken is to television. You get a laugh, but nothing of substance. No one really benefits and Chavo Guerrero looks like a weak champion, which makes the guy he beat for the title (CM Punk) look even more weak, etc. etc. Chavo’s entire reign has been a joke and a disgrace to his wrestling ability and his family name. He’s only won two matches clean, both against talented guys who WWE has chosen to bring to jobber status. My friend Katie loves Kane, but he’s boring in the ring. I swear if they have Kane vs Big Daddy V for the ECW world title I’m going to write a whole other blog just complaining about that alone. 1/4*

Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels Sure the result of this match was a foregone conclusion (naturally Flair is going to lose and retire at Wrestlemania), but for a half hour, my sense of reality was suspended and I thought maybe, just maybe, Flair could pull it off. That’s what wrestling’s all about. Michaels botched two different moonsaults and hit his knee twice, once going through the Raw announce table knee first. I’m not sure how much of it was planned, but you can’t fake either of those falls. Flair worked over Michaels’ legs for a while and cinched in the figure 4 with Michaels breaking it twice. Michaels was playing the tortured man the entire match, he wanted to win, but didn’t want to make Flair retire, kind of like when he didn’t want to accept the match a month ago. At one point he purposely hesitated during Sweet Chin Music allowing Flair to hook in the figure 4 instead. Michaels hit not one but two sweet chin musics out of nowhere that actually hit Flair in the chin like the name implies. Flair kicked out of the first, and the two fought for a bit, but once Michaels hit the sweet chin music out of nowhere a second time, he started warming up for one more. As Flair was coming to his feet, you saw tears well up in Shawn’s eyes as he said “I’m sorry, I love you” before hitting it and getting the pin. Immediately afterwards he embraced Flair, kissing him before leaving uneventfully to allow Flair the grand exit. Flair is in tears. Michaels is in tears. Flair’s family is in tears. A real class act. The match should have been about ten minutes longer. Also note that these guys chopped each other harder than I’ve ever heard chops during the match. ****1/2*

Ashley and Maria vs. Beth Phoenix and Melina A match between four beautiful ladies (fine, three beautiful ladies and Ashley) usually wouldn’t bother me, but this match was just BAD. In Tina Fey 30 Rock style, I’ll start with a genuine compliment. Maria looked great. Her makeup, no matter how impractical for a wrestling match, made the gorgeous Maria look even hotter. Ashley looks horrible, of course, and Melina and Beth Phoenix actually look worse than their usual beautiful selves. The match itself had three high points. 1) Santino Marella comes to ringside with Melina and Beth Phoenix wearing a feather boa 2) The lights inexplicably go out for like 30 seconds and the clueless girls keep wrestling. Backup lights come on. 3) After the match, Maria got herself a sensual seduction (not to be confused with the ever-popular lifeline cover) by making out with Snoop Dogg. Seriously, Beth Phoenix and Melina are better wrestlers than some of the guys in WWE, why waste their time with Ashley, who will always be horrible, and Maria who’s still growing in the ring. 1/2*

John Cena vs. HHH vs. Randy Orton Fine, we get it, every year John Cena is going to have an entrance to honor the city wrestlemania is in. In Chicago, he did an Al Capone thing. In Detroit, he pretended to drive a stunt car. At the Orange Bowl, he had a marching band play his theme music out. It was actually pretty cool. Cena and HHH dominated the match and I was wondering which of the WWE’s golden boys they’d give the strap to, I was very pleasantly surprised when Orton walked away with the belt after a sweet finish. HHH hit Cena with the pedigree and covered him 1, 2, then Orton kicked HHH in the head and covered Cena for 3. Randy Orton is now the second bad guy to ever walk out of Wrestlemania as world champion. Good for him. The match worked to everyone’s strengths and was fast-paced and looked great. The ending made Orton look like a sneaky, conniving bad guy and made HHH’s pedigree look strong, as it kept Cena down for 5 seconds (at least). My guess is Orton loses it next month to HHH. Oh well, it was good to see him walk out as champ one more time. ***1/2*

The Big Show vs Floyd Mayweather The one thing WWE has been doing right with this feud is that from day one when Mayweather jumped into the ring and broke Big Show’s nose in real life while the commentators said nothing, this whole thing looked REAL. There wasn’t a good or bad guy, the lines between fact and reality were so effectively blurred that something in the back of my mind half expected this fight to be legit. While I’m sure it wasn’t, for the first 15 minutes it looked it. Floyd would punch and run away, punch and run. Both men played to their strengths, Floyd running and using his quickness and powerful punches while The Big Show kept trying to overpower Floyd, though he couldn’t catch him. Floyd hit a few good shots and looked in a sleeper while riding Show piggyback that actually made The Big Show’s face turn red. In keeping the match looking real, Floyd literally didn’t pull any punches and you could see red welts on Big Show’s body every time Floyd hit him. Big Show finally caught up to Floyd, stomping on his hand and standing on Mayweather while his posse tried to convince the refs he wasn’t allowed to, though it was no disqualification. Big Show took out a few members of Floyd’s posse and Floyd tried to run away, only for Show to catch up with him and drag him back to the ring. Floyd resorted to kicks, selling his injured hands from Big Show stomping on them. Finally, one of Floyd’s posse hit Big Show with a chair as he went to chokeslam Floyd. Though the move didn’t affect Big Show, it distracted him long enough for Floyd to grab the chair and hit Show with it like five times. Once show was on his knees, we had a replay of No Way Out. Floyd hit Big Show in the face and when he didn’t go down, he took the glove off his hand, took the brass knuckles off the necklace of his fallen posse member and popped Big Show a good one that knocked him down for ten, giving Floyd Mayweather the one. Good luck convincing the IBA to add that win to your record. 3*** (not bad considering Show has been out of the ring for over a year and it was Floyd’s first (and probably only) wrestling match.

Edge vs Undertaker I usually hate Edge, but I think he really proved he was a main event wrestler tonight, as much as I hate him. This match was great and full of storytelling. Instead of the usual Taker dominated match with Edge somehow escaping that I thought I would see, we had Edge dominating, reversing every one of Taker’s moves and hitting more than a few more. Edge reversed The Last Ride, The Tombstone, Old School, and The Chokeslam. The end came when Edge hit Undertaker with a video camera, Taker sat straight up and then got Edge to tap out to this triangle choke-like submission move. ****

In case you missed it …

March 26, 2008

The wrestling team finished seventh at the 2008 NCAA Championships.

But those who couldn’t make the trip or watch the coverage are in luck, at least a little.

Videos of matches involving Brandon and Christian Sinnott and Wynn Michalak are available at Youtube.

Enjoy.

– Robbie Sgro

Taking the next step?

March 14, 2008
The men’s basketball team improved to 14-17 overall after going 13-18 last season.
 
The Chippewas also were better by one game in the Mid-American Conference, going from 7-9 to 8-8.
 
Their season ended in the MAC quarterfinals again this season with Thursday’s 81-60 loss against Akron.
 
 
So can this season be considered a step in the right direction for coach Ernie Zeigler? Let’s take a look.
 
 Zeigler had practically nowhere to go but up after inheriting a 4-24 team from Jay Smith. By improving nine games, Zeigler didn’t exactly set the bar exceedingly high, but provided CMU fans with a dose of optimism they hadn’t had since 2003.
 
Year two was a little different for Zeigler and the team. There was the good – regular-season wins against Michigan, Akron and Western Michigan. And there was the bad – losing by 20 to the Broncos in the first meeting, a bad loss at Ohio and Thursday’s season-ending loss against Akron.
 
Scoring went up, as Central averaged 71.2 points per game, up from 65.6 last season. But opponents averaged 72.1 points per game against CMU, third-worst in the MAC.
 
Because of the defensive struggles, Zeigler tried several lineup combinations – 11 players averaged at least 10 minutes per game.
 
Making the jump from the cellar to mediocrity was a good first season for Zeigler. The second season proved to be tougher, but it was supposed to be. Taking the next step gets tougher and tougher.

– Robbie Sgro

A scheduling mess, part II

February 27, 2008

Imagine an Ohio State-Michigan football game played on a Tuesday.

Imagine an Ohio State-Michigan basketball game played during spring break.

Crazy, right?

So why have two of the biggest Central Michigan-Western Michigan sporting events this season been shafted like this? CMU hosts Western on March 4, but it’s during Spring Break, so there likely will be few people there. Likewise, many were upset when CMU football played the Broncos on a Tuesday night last fall.

Men’s basketball coach Ernie Zeigler is upset with the scheduling, as he should be.

Granted, the Mid-American Conference is not the Big Ten, and Central/Western is nowhere near the rivalry Ohio State/Michigan is. But from the perspective of the MAC, it should do everything in its power to showcase Central/Western games. Burying the Central/Western basketball game during Spring Break is a horrible call.

Yes, the Central/Western football game was on ESPN2, but locally, it was a mess. Students complained about it being on a Tuesday night, and alumni were hard-pressed to try to attend the game.

Central/Western is probably the biggest rivalry the MAC has to offer. For the conference to treat it otherwise is absurd.

***

Elsewhere, the wrestling team is up to No. 2 in the dual meet rankings, but as of now, it means nothing. The postseason is here, as CMU travels to Kent, Ohio, on March 7-8 for the MAC Championships.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the weight classes, as six of Central’s regular starters are undefeated in the MAC:

125 pounds

Senior Luke Smith is 5-0 and doesn’t have the competition he did last year when he finished third, as NIU’s Pat Castillo moved up to 133 pounds, and Kent State’s Chad Sportelli graduated. He should win easily.

133

Definitely the toughest weight class in the MAC. Castillo, Eastern’s Sean Clair and Kent State’s Dan Mitcheff all are ranked. CMU’s Conor Beebe, 1-3 in the MAC this season, likely will be left out unless he wins it all.

141

This should be a two-man race between CMU’s Eric Kruger and KSU’s Drew Lashaway. Lashaway won the regular season meeting, but Kruger won the match between the two in last season’s MAC Championships.

157

Very wide-open. CMU’s Tyler Grayson is 2-1 in the MAC, losing to EMU’s Cory Mancuso, but Steve Brown has earned the wins in the last two MAC duals for CMU. Mancuso is 4-1 in the MAC.

165

CMU’s Trevor Stewart was the favorite for most of the season, but Kent State’s Kurt Gross changed that with a 6-4 overtime win against Stewart. Gross is 5-0 in the MAC.

174

Another two-man race between CMU’s Brandon Sinnott and NIU’s Duke Burk. Sinnott beat Burk 4-1 this season.

184

Central’s Christian Sinnott is 4-0 in the conference, but could be challenged by Kent State’s Eric Chine, who only lost 3-2 to Sinnott this season.

197

Not much to say. CMU’s Wynn Michalak is 5-0 – three pins and two major decisions. There isn’t any reason to think he won’t dominate his through the weight class.

285

CMU’s Bubba Gritter is 5-0, with Kent State’s Jermail Porter as his only real competition. Gritter lost to Porter in the MAC Tournament two seasons ago, but Gritter won last season.

– Robbie Sgro

Nearing the end

February 20, 2008

The men’s basketball team has just four Mid-American Conference games remaining in the regular season. The team hosts Ball State at 7 p.m. today.

The women’s team has five games left before the conference tournament.

Where does this leave the Chippewas? On the outside looking in, barring a tournament win by either team.

The men would be the No. 9 seed if the tournament started today, facing Toledo, while the women are fighting Akron and Toledo to avoid being the lowest seeded team.

As a whole, the conference probably will get only one bid to the men’s tournament, unless Kent State loses, the macreportonline says. The Golden Flashes are 21-5, but would still need a deep run in the MAC Tournament if they hope to earn an at-large bid.

Meanwhile, CMU coach Ernie Zeigler still is trying to settle on a rotation. The problem – defense. Zeigler said his team hasn’t defended well since its Jan. 26 win against Akron. We’ll find out if the rotation becomes more clear tonight against the Cardinals.

***

The wrestling team is up to No. 4 after Minnesota lost 20-17 to Wisconsin. However, the NCAA Championships are what counts, and the Chippewas are ranked as the No. 10 team team on tournament-strength by Intermat.

Central will get its best test within the MAC at 7 p.m. Friday at No. 20 Kent State. The Golden Flashes feature ranked wrestlers at 133, 141, 165, 184 and 285 pounds

– Robbie Sgro

Competing with the Big Ten

February 12, 2008

The wrestling team’s dominance against Mid-American Conference opponents is well documented.

Central has won the regular season conference title nine consecutive times, and the MAC Tournament six straight times.

But could CMU win the Big Ten?

The Chippewas aren’t switching conferences by any means, but just for the sake of debating, it’s an interesting question. The topic was posted at thematforums.

The Chippewas have wins against Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and a loss against Minnesota. Iowa and Penn State also would be top competitors for CMU.

The Golden Gophers have had CMU’s number the last few years and are 8-0 all-time against CMU. This season at least, the Chippewas would have a realistic shot at winning the Big Ten regular season or the tournament. At 165, 174, 184, 197 and heavyweight they match up as well as any team.

We’ll probably never know, but coach Tom Borrelli and his team are probably content with owning the MAC. We will know in March, however, how Central stacks up with the Big Ten’s best, and other conferences. An article from the Saginaw News looks at the wrestling team in the national spotlight.

Elsewhere, the basketball team lost Wednesday at Bowling Green. Here are the highlights in case you missed it.

The MAC report also looks ahead to the postseason for men’s basketball. Also, Central is ranked eighth in the site’s weekly rankings.

Also, it’s never to early to talk football. Jahleel Addae, the recently signed running back, seems excited to be coming to CMU.

– Robbie Sgro

This year’s recruiting class one of the best… on paper

February 7, 2008

It’s best not to take National Signing Day all that seriously, especially when you’re talking about the Mid-American Conference. Last year’s MAC freshman of the year, wide receiver Antonio Brown, was barely heard of until August when he was a walk-on. Compare that to De’Onte Burnam, who came to CMU as the Georgia Class A Player of the Year but amassed just 44 tackles during his career.

Football coach Butch Jones called 2008 CMU’s best recruiting year in its history during Wednesday’s press conference.

There’s no doubt that it looks quite good. Several players on the list, including tailback Jahleel Addae and defensive back Derek Carter, chose CMU over the likes of West Virginia, Wisconsin and Purdue. Others ranked on the Detroit Free Press’s Blue Chip list, such as defensive end Steve Winston (#34) and wide receiver Valtorrey Showers (#60).

But quite frankly, all of it is speculation. There is a lot of potential to be had with CMU’s 22 scholarship recruits, but there is a lot of potential to be lost as well. Take Toledo, for example – the former MAC powerhouse consistently ranks amongst the top recruiting schools in the conference according to Scout.com, but the Rockets have been on the decline over the past few years.

Here are three players to watch from this recruiting class:

1) DB Derek Carter. Jones called him the “leader of the class,” which bodes well for a guy entering what was one of CMU’s weakest positions last season.

2) OL Darren Keyton. With Eric Tunney and Mike Decker leaving the offensive line, Keyton could help give CMU skilled depth at a very important position.

3) DE Steve Winston. Winston ranked No. 34 on the Detroit News Blue Chip list. That’s seven better than defensive tackle Steven Friend and ten better than linebacker Ike Brown, both of which are gone.

Here are my questions heading into spring camps:

1) Is the offensive line getting better? CMU’s line hit its stride when MAC play began, but it loses two tough linemen in Eric Tunney and Mike Decker, and Andrew Hartline and Greg Wojt will be gone after 2008. The Chippewas recruited several offensive linemen this year, including Darren Keyton, the Traverse City native who ranked No. 43 on the Detroit Free Press Fab 50. But several guys are going to have to step up, including sophomores Colin Miller and Jeff Maddux. Both were pretty good, but when it comes to arguably the most important offensive position, they’ll have to be great.

2) How will running backs Jahleel Addae and Bryan Schroeder mix in? They are two of the most highly-touted recruits on the list, but CMU loses no tailbacks to graduation. Justin Hoskins and Ontario Sneed both are entering their final years, and Carl Volny had several good runs last season. There is a lot of depth at this position with the addition of Addae and Schroeder, so I could see at least one of them, if not both, redshirting in the fall.

3) Is Ryan Radcliff the next Dan LeFevour? Radcliff posted gargantuan numbers (4,738 passing yards and 64 touchdowns, plus 618 rushing yards) at Fairview High School in Hicksville, Ohio, last year. He’s a bit smaller than LeFevour, weighing in almost 30 pounds less, but has a quick release, according to Jones, and is very intelligent. If he redshirts, he could become CMU’s quarterback as a sophomore when LeFevour graduates, making life after Dan a little less scary for Chippewas fans.

4) Who will fill the leadership roles that linebackers Red Keith and Ike Brown left behind? These guys were critical down the stretch when Central needed defense the most. Nick Bellore is the future of the unit after having a spectacular freshman season, but after that, there’s little to be had at the linebacker position. This could give recruit Armond Staten a great chance to flourish, as well as Ray Bentley’s son, Jake, who comes to CMU as a walk-on recruit. The defensive line is less of a worry with Casey Droscha and Frank Zombo returning, and CMU only loses Curtis Cutts in the secondary.

-Brian Manzullo
 News Editor

CM Life sports blog: The beginning

February 6, 2008

Because it’s better late than never …

CM Life is starting a sports blog. We will have a post at least every Tuesday/Wednesday. If an event or story is urgent and needs to be blogged about, we’ll do it. Like the Saints of South Boston said, “We’re like 7-Eleven — we’re not always doing business, but we’re always open.”

Every Tuesday you can expect a blog of some sort from myself, Dan Monson, or another member of the sports staff. We’ll also try to link to any other articles/videos pertaining to CMU sports, or MAC sports in general.

Here goes …

The wrestling team dominated Buffalo on Saturday, winning 32-3. I frequent a message board at themat.com for my wrestling news, so I suggest using their message board if you want to talk wrestling.

Here a link to a thread on Central’s win against the Bulls.

Granted, there’s wasn’t much said about the dual, so get out there and give them some CMU talk. Another great place for wrestling news is intermatwrestle.com. It has feature articles, rankings and scores. Here are the latest team rankings, with CMU holding at No. 5.

Elsewhere, the men’s basketball team moved to 4-4 with a double-overtime win Saturday against Buffalo. (Sidenote: Buffalo is lousy at pretty much everything in the MAC since I’ve been here. I just feel compelled to type that everytime Central plays Buffalo.) With the MAC at midseason, the MAC report offers its midseason awards. Only Giordan Watson was mentioned in the Player of the Year race.

Central has won six in a row at Rose Arena, but is 0-4 in the MAC on the road. Not that it’s especially noteworthy, but here’s a youtube video of CMU’s win against Cal State Fullerton.

– Robbie Sgro