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NBA Playoffs: Knicks-Celtics preview

April 17, 2011 7 comments

Following the trade of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, Knicks fans eagerly anticipated a chance to make it to the NBA playoffs, somewhere they haven’t been since 2004. Now seated sixth in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are officially playoff slated and are set to go against the Boston Celtics, a long-standing rival since 1990. A lot of anticipation leading up to the Knicks-Celtics game tonight at 7:00 p.m.

For Knicks fans the Anthony and Billups trade created an elite three when combined with Amare Stoudemire and the momentum that the Knicks needed to ride into a play off spot. Anthony is averaging 30.3 points and 49.0 percent shooting the past nine games. Although Stoudemire was out that past few games due to a sprained left ankle, his return to the court for the playoffs is highly anticipated.

New York is hoping to roll with the positive wave, using the seven game winning streak it had, before the Bills put a stop to it last Tuesday, as an adrenaline rush on Boston’s court, the home court advantage the Celtics are hoping to use for themselves.

A rocky lope to the playoffs, the Celtics are seated third in the Eastern Conference, but have had many bumps along the way. They traded starting center Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, causing discontent and altering the chemistry of the Celtics starting line up. Upsetting losses, including games against the Washington and Chicago, did little for the Celtics’ morale, but they’re in the playoffs – enough said.

Below is the complete schedule for the Knicks-Celtics playoff games:

Game 1: Sunday at Boston, 7 p.m.
Game 2: Tuesday at Boston, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Friday, April 22, at New York; 7 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday, April 24, at New York; 3:30 p.m.
Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday, April 26, at Boston; time TBD
Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, April 29, at New York; time TBD
Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, May 1, at Boston; time TBD

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Categories: NBA

Hofstra University head coach, Mo Cassara, doing things differently

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Hofstra University’s men’s basketball head coach, Mo Cassara, has 1,740 Facebook friends and 1,423 Twitter followers. His Twitter handle, @Coach_Cassara, is included on 83 Twitter lists. But most importantly, he’s front and center on campus, using social media to create relationships with the University’s student body.

“The way that campus communities communicate, the way that happens – I think you have to be willing to change a little bit. I think you have to be willing to be a little different,” said Cassara.

Head Coach Mo Cassara with the Hofstra Pride basketball team

Head Coach Mo Cassara with the Hofstra Pride basketball team

Different is something Cassara embraced from the beginning of his career at Hofstra. In an opportune chain of events, he was offered the head coach position after Tim Welsh received a DUI in May 2010. At the time, Cassara was the assistant under Welsh with limited head coaching experience and a virtually unknown name in the CAA.

Upon accepting the position, Cassara said, “I’m going to do things a little differently then they’ve done it in the past. I’m going to give this a little different flare.”

Exemplifying his ability to be different and think outside of traditional communication methods, Cassara utilized social media.

A day that begins at 5:30 A.M. after a run with his two golden retrievers, Cassara begins the personal task of Facebook sharing, re-tweeting and most importantly, corresponding with students that have reached out to him through social platforms.

“I think kids felt they could communicate with me. Not just the basketball program, they could interact with me,” said Cassara. “And when I respond back to them, I think it goes a long way.”

Cassara has also used social media to connect with possible Hofstra Pride team members and credits Facebook as a valuable tool in the recruiting process. He specifically mentioned his daily 6:00 A.M. correspondence during recruitment process with Malik Nichols, who preferred the Facebook messages in lieu of verbal communication due to a speech impediment.

The increase in fans at the men’s basketball games is indication that Cassara is reaching University students. The 13 additional Facebook friends and 13 new Twitter followers since last week are signs that he’s successfully creating social media relationships with fans.

Cassara maintains an authenticity to his social media techniques. So much so, that a request for a follow up was answered within the hour and then a follow up to the follow up was sent… at 5:37 A.M.

Categories: College Sports

Hofstra Pride wrestling: hello NCAA Championships and new head coach

HEMPSTEAD, NY – The 2011 NCAA at-large bids and weight class brackets went out this past Wednesday with seven Hofstra Pride wrestlers qualifying for the NCAA championships. This announcement marked head coach Tom Shifflet’s fourth time in five years to have seven or more Pride wrestlers qualify and his unexpected resignation following the championship matches, which will be held next week.

In a statement released by Hofstra Athletic Director Jack Hayes, it was announced that associate head coach Rob Anspach would take over the pride after the conclusion of the NCAA championship.

Head Coach, Tom Shifflet and Associate Head Coach, Rob Anspach

Head Coach, Tom Shifflet and Associate Head Coach, Rob Anspach

“I’ve been in wrestling a long time. Been coaching for 14, 15 some odd years and things change in your life. I have to shift my thoughts and more of my time towards my family and I’ve struggled with that. That was probably the biggest determining factor,” said Shifflet. “And obviously I received a call about another job and it’s a great opportunity outside of wrestling.”

A student-athlete who graduated from Edinboro University, Shifflet was a four-time NCAA championship qualifier and a three-time All-American. His expertise for wrestling was acknowledged by Hofstra in 2006 when he joined the Pride as head coach.

His first season was an indication of the strong program he would develop over the next five years. He had an 18-4-2 dual record, led the Pride to secure its sixth straight Colonial Athletic Association championship and seventh consecutive title, as well as a seventh place finish at the 2007 NCAA championships, the current school-best.

“I addressed the team yesterday and said, ‘Look, I don’t want to talk about me. Moving forward, I want to talk about the NCAA tournament and preparing for it’,” said Shifflet when asked how his resignation faired with a team anxious leading up to championship matches in a week. “That’s where our mind is, that’s where our focus is and we don’t need any distractions.”

Senior Lou Ruggirello will wrestle at the NCAA tournament. Originally recruited by the previous head coach to Shifflet, Tom Ryan, Ruggirello is part of the first recruiting class Shifflet helped cultivate and develop for the Pride. Ruggirello is in his fifth season as a Pride wrestler and is a three-time CAA champion and NCAA qualifier. He entered the 2010-2011 season ranked sixth in preseason polls by InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News.

The new head coach will be Anspach who wrestled under Ryan and coached with him from 2002-2006 before Ryan left to coach at The Ohio State University. The head coach position Anspach originally applied for in 2006, but lost out to Shifflet, will finally be his starting Mar. 28.

“When Jack Hayes told me, I was excited. This is a place I’ve been at for a long time as an athlete, under Tom Ryan and under Tom Shifflet,” said Anspach of his new role within the Hofstra athletic department. “I’m excited for the challenge of leading this team, continuing down the path that Tom Ryan had started and Tom Shifflet followed up with. I want to continue to lead these guys to national champions, All-Americans and continue and build on the success they’ve already had.”

The 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will be held from Thurs. through Sat., Mar. 17-19 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Categories: College Sports

Miami Heat fifth-consecutive loss to Portland Blazers

MIAMI, FL – The Miami Heat hosted the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at American Airlines Arena. The second match up brought Portland hoping for their fourth-consecutive win at American Airlines Arena and Miami looking to better their odds since losing five of the last six games played.

Portland came with added confidence after announcing Coach Nate McMillan signed a two-year extension to continue to coach the Blazers earlier today. McMillan led Portland to two playoffs and has hopes to do so again with the team seated sixth in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, Miami has been deflecting recent criticisms after a loss to the Chicago Bulls Sunday when Head Coach Erik Spolestra revealed players were crying in the locker room following their fourth consecutive loss, which made Miami headlines.

Another shot to their confidence, Portland defeated Miami 105-96 despite the best efforts of the free agent trifecta that the Heat signed last summer, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.

Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat

Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat (Courtesy of Getty Images)

A combined 69 points of the 96 for Miami, Wade’s 38 and James’ 31 showcased some great Wade/James combinations, including tying the first quarter 25-25 with eight points each, tying the beginning of the fourth quarter 77-77 with Wade’s block/dunk, and Wade’s behind the back pass to James who put away the ball with a single-handed slam with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter.

Mario Chalmers ranks third in points scored with 10; just three above Bosh’s seven.

The game was never more than a few points separating the two teams on the scoreboard and it was Portland’s bench that drove the team to the big win.

Gerald Wallace, who played his sixth game with Portland tonight after being traded from Charlotte, put up solid numbers (22) and two notable blocks against Miami forwards, as did Lamarcus Aldridge who led Portland in scoring 26 points.

Brandon Roy rounded out the top three with 14 points scored even with a set of bad knees. It seemed hard to believe that Roy had recent knee surgery when he scored 11 points in 9 minutes at the beginning of the second quarter.

Sure to follow are the crying comments as Miami adds their fifth-consecutive loss to the tally. They will take on the Lakers this Thursday, Mar. 10 at 7:00 PM.

Categories: NBA

Knicks Debut Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups

February 23, 2011 8 comments

Carmelo Anthony makes his New York debut tonight at Madison Square Garden against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m about to go upstairs and play as a New York Knicks in one of the best arenas in the world,” said Anthony during a press conference earlier today.

Unless you’re completely detached, the hype has been felt throughout the pulse of New York and beyond. Anthony has been at the center of the public eye since his trade was announced on Tuesday and tonight will tell if New York will continue this love affair.

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7:39 PM – A home court advantage, the Knicks court introductions open to Sean “Diddy” Combs’ recent single, “Coming Home” followed by Rihanna’s heavy beat behind a video montage.

7:41 PM – As expected, introduced first to the court is the newest Knicks, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to overwhelming supports from the N.Y. crowd.

7:45 PM – Let the game begin!

7:48 PM – Billups follows up Amar’e Stoudemire’s first points on the scoreboard with a clean shot for 3.

7:52 PM – Great steal by Anthony! Crowd cheers and eagerly anticipates him putting a few more points on the board.

7:54 PM – Fields slams a point in Bucks’ net to a roar by the crowd, followed by Anthony.

8:03 PM – Slightly sloppy get away, but the Knicks will take it to feed into the crowd that’s pumping the adrenaline.

8:07 PM – Walker with a 3-point shot, assist by Douglas.

8:13 PM – End of the first quarter, Knicks lead the Bucks 33-24.

8:16 PM – An “easy 2,” Anthony has a getaway.

Categories: NBA