Archive

Author Archive

NHL Quick Hits: Game Three – Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

May 4, 2011 Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Lightning are just one win away from closing the book on the Washington Capitals season as they were able to come away with a 4-3 victory Tuesday night, taking a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In front of a sold out crowd at home, the Lightning were able to score two goals within 24 seconds of each other, one of them being the game winner by Ryan Malone.

Give Credit or Lightning Shall Strike You: Could anyone have predicted what has occurred in this series so far? The Lightning took the first two games on the road and all but sealed the deal against the Capitals on Tuesday night. The same team that was written off after they gave away their Southeast Division title in the final week of the season have looked like different group of players, playing with more heart than any team still competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

When they were called underdogs in the quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins and were down 3-1 in the series, the “unthinkable” happened. They came back to force a game seven and eliminated the Penguins on the road. The same team that hasn’t been given enough recognition throughout the entire season has won six straight playoff games and is one game away from sweeping the Eastern Conference’s “elite team”. So the question is still there; when will this team be given its dues? Maybe when they hoist the Stanley Cup above their heads, perhaps then they will be recognized as a team that everyone overlooked.

Capitals Powerplay Woes Continue: One major reason why the Capitals have struggled all throughout this series against the Lightning is due to the failure of their powerplay. After the first three games, the Capitals are a horrendous 1-for-16 with the man advantage, their only goal coming in Tuesday night’s game on a TWO-man advantage. The powerplay has looked dreadful, but the performance in game three was a train wreck. Even with the goal on the score sheet, nothing looked right on the ice. Players were missing shots taken at the net by at least six feet, there were several instances of wrong positioning on the point and when they did have chances, a team with born-bred scorers, did everything but score. They had to rely on a 5-on-3 to score and only did so after Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson left a juicy rebound for Alexander Ovechkin to put in. If this team has any chance of making a comeback, they better score a goal on every man advantage that is given to them.

Steven “The Real Deal” Stamkos: With the league surrounding superstars like Ovechkin and the Penguins Sidney Crosby a lot of attention is not given to others players who are on the same, if not, a higher level of talent. I can say that the Steven Stamkos of the Lightning, will be the best player in the league within a year or two. He excels at every aspect of the game and tonight was just another example. Several times throughout the game, Stamkos has turned a play that looked dead from the start into a scoring opportunity. He crashes the net, shows his physicality and illustrates an extreme level of talent that few can.

Tonight, with one flick of the wrist he sent a blistering shot from in between the circles past Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth before anyone could even blink. Not only did he tie the game, but he provided a spark for his team and the lead would be theirs just seconds later. Stamkos is a diamond in the rough when it comes to talent in the NHL and with 45 goals and 46 assists in the regular season, he is no surprise. This Lightning team is led by many veterans including Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Malone, but Stamkos demonstrates just how important youth can be on a team that is on the verge of a championship.

Capital Collapse: At one point in the third period, the Capitals looked set to make their mark in the series, up two goals with less than a period remaining and the momentum was fully fledged in their favor. Twenty-four seconds later, the Lightning struck twice to take a one goal lead. First, on a goal by Stamkos and then after a frenzy in front of the net, Malone was able to put the puck past Neuvirth. It just goes to show you how every second of the game makes a difference and in less than half a minute, the Capitals went from being comeback contenders to scheduling their tee-times at the local country club.

Game Three Top Performers: Tampa Bay Lightning / Stamkos – 1 goal, 4 shots on net, 17:40 time on ice

Washington Capitals / Ovechkin – 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 shots on net, 24:27 time on ice

What’s Next: Game four, the second back-to-back game will take place on Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. With a win, the Lightning look to return to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since their Stanley Cup run in 2004. Like last season, the Capitals are in a must win situation and will have to come back from three games down no matter what. I wouldn’t say that it is impossible, the Philadelphia Flyers were able to accomplish the improbable feat last season against the Boston Bruins. But this Capitals team is not functioning on any cylinders and they are going to have to do some real soul searching if they want to even pull out one game in this series instead of getting completely embarrassed.

Advertisements
Categories: NHL

A Few Words Singled Out Among Many – Kobe Bryant

May 3, 2011 Leave a comment

New York – We have seen plenty of suspensions and fines around sports that are handed down to athletes and coaches who act of line verbally. Whether the words are directed to the opposing players, referees, coaches, fans or even the national audience that is watching; a professional sports athlete is never safe when it comes to opening their mouth.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, was fined $100,000 by the NBA for using a gay slur during a game against the San Antonio Spurs. The 13-time all-star was caught on camera yelling at a referee after a technical foul had been called on him and while there is no audio to back it up, anyone with eyes can read the words that come out of Bryant’s mouth.

It was evident that Bryant was disgusted with the call and that his emotions got the best of him. After the fine had been dropped on him, he was forced to confront the matter and apologized to anyone that was offended, making several calls to Human Rights officials and even contributing to a PSA about homophobic slurs.

This is Kobe after realizing $100,000 was taken from him...not a care in the world.

But what really makes me wonder is why people were so upset about the act and why was Kobe singled out as if he has been the only athlete to ever has his words caught on camera? Yes, Bryant stepped out of line in using the slur and it was something that he should not have done, but that is the nature of the beast. With the camera being focused star athletes for a majority of the game, at some point, you are going to catch them doing something against “protocol”.

And don’t even get me started on the $100,000 fine that doesn’t even make a dent in Bryant’s wallet. It was an obligated move that the NBA had to pursue to put at ease those who were offended.

Brad Vipperman, who covers the Lakers on the Bleacher Report summed it up well and states, “Why can funny movies, which are not just seen by millions more people than an NBA game but are seen over and over again on TV and DVD, get away with degrading gay culture on purpose?  And yet, Kobe gets fined the average yearly income of over three American households for using it without thinking in the heat of battle?”

 For a person that has watched countless sporting events on television, I have heard and seen much worse when it comes to professional sports. With the technology that is incorporated today, there are practically microphones on the playing surface so every little word can be interpreted to the audience.

So why was Bryant singled out? We didn’t actually hear him say the slur; we could only read his lips. It was the TNT commentators that said they should turn the camera away from Bryant “for the kids watching at home” making it obvious that something was said that shouldn’t have been.

 Was it because the derogatory term has been associated with the anti-gay culture of today’s generation? There is no question about it.

But how come NONE of the professional sports organizations have addressed other insulting slurs that players use? You can hear word-for-word what football and hockey players say during a game, but no action is taken against them when they use an insulting or offensive word. It goes unannounced like it never happened. So either every sport should take a tip from the NBA and start conducting an investigation into what their players say out on the field or leave it at that, not for nothing, they are just words.

Finally, how is right that Roger McDowell, the Atlanta Braves pitching coach is suspended ONLY two weeks for making homophobic slurs at FANS in San Francisco before a game just days later? He wasn’t on the diamond expressing his emotions to the opposing team or an umpire. He blatantly targeted an innocent man and his family at the game and made sexual gestures towards them, while threatening them with a baseball bat. Asking a fan how much his teeth are worth seems a little more drastic than using a slur that no one actually heard during an emotional game.

The two weeks suspension and “sensitivity training” that McDowell received as a punishment? Harsh is a word at the other side of the spectrum. Does anyone have any idea what “sensitivity training” actually is? Me neither.

Ironically, the words that were seen and not heard from Bryant are front and center with no one asking questions about an event that was far greater in my eyes

Categories: NBA

UFC 129 – Now or Never for Shields…

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

New York – For Jake Shields, tonight is the opportunity of a lifetime. If he has any hopes of solidifying his name among the top fighters in MMA history, it is now or never. The underrated Shields has won his last 15 matches, from EliteXC, Strikeforce and now the UFC. He has found ways to win when he shouldn’t. Taking down the former champion Dan Henderson, submitting middleweight champion Robbie Lawler, and more recently a split-decision to Martin Kampann that secured his bout against the welterweight champion at UFC 129, Georges St. Pierre. For years, people have doubted the talent of Shields, who lacks in the stand-up game, but thrives on the ground. Is there any better way to silence the critics than to defeat perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound fighter to ever enter the octagon? 

But this is no walk in the park for Shields either, who goes up against not only the champion in GSP, but also the 55,000 fans that will be behind him at a sold out Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, the home-town of the champ.

 

There has been talk of St.Pierre moving up to the middleweight division as there has been no opponent in the welterweight division to give GSP any sort of difficulty. He was able to defeat B.J. Penn and Josh Koscheck twice, reclaim his belt against Matt Serra and completely dominate Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves. As soon as he enters the cage, he controls the flow of the match. GSP is able to identify the weakness of his opponent and pick them apart at his own pace. Defeating Shields would be just another step for GSP to the dream match that MMA fans have hoped for, a bout against middleweight champion Anderson Silva, to claim once and for all, who is the greatest fighter in MMA history.

Shields stated yesterday, ““Winning the belt period, whoever I win it from, would mean a tremendous amount to me, but I think taking it from GSP is a whole different level. He’s possibly the best champ of all time. That’s a completely different level in my mind.” Shields has the respect for GSP, he isn’t a trash talker and proves himself in the cage.

The past few weeks leading up to the match, the pressure seems to be all on the shoulders of GSP. For what reason? Could it be that he is going to put his championship on the line in front of thousands of faithful fans? Or is it that people have doubted Shields for so long that he has been able to slide under the radar and could actually have a shot at beating GSP? Could the welterweight belt be in the hands of someone different for the first time in 4 years?

A Shields victory would be one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Yes, GSP has the advantage in almost every aspect of the game; but Shields might have the mental edge. People do not expect him to win and a loss would not be shocking by any means. For Shields, it is not just about the championship, it is about proving to everyone who ever doubted his success and giving the term “underdog” a new definition.

———————————-

Although I would love to see someone take the crown from GSP, he is possibly the best conditioned athlete in the world and can go five rounds without breaking a sweat. If Shields can withstand the early rounds of strikes from GSP and find away around his defense, he might have a chance of going for a takedown and a submission. If I had to pick with my heart, it would be Shields, but if it was my wallet, GSP comes away as the reigning champion.

Categories: Uncategorized

Game Seven Heaven – NHL Playoffs

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Just when you thought the NHL playoffs couldn’t get more exciting, we are thrown into four scenarios that are facing a final game seven showdown. (Three are definite, while the Boston/Montreal series is still to be determined, game six is tonight).

A seven game series is not completely uncommon in the playoffs, but having half of the match-ups in the first round come down to the final game is something that hockey enthusiasts dream of.

If this is just a taste of what is next for the NHL playoffs, I cannot imagine what is in store for the later rounds. Hopefully they will be just as exhilarating as the opening series have been.

Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers

The series turned ugly last game when Flyers captain Mike Richards blindsided Sabres center Tim Connolly headfirst into the boards, causing him to leave the game. Sabres players, coaches and fans were irate when no action was taken against Richards. The momentum swung to the Flyers as they were able to come back from a 3rd period deficit and push the series to a seventh game after an OT goal on Buffalo’s home ice. The final game will be decided in Philadelphia and while many would think that they have the advantage playing at home, 8 out of the last 10 game-sevens, ended with the AWAY team claiming victory.

The Sabres will also get back their top scorer in Derek Roy who hasn’t played since December, suffering from a torn quadricep. For the Flyers, the goaltender carousel continues to turn as a starter for game seven has yet to be named. They have used three different goaltenders in the series and cannot find the support that they have been searching for in the pipes. The exact problem that occurred throughout the season was not solved and progressed right into the playoffs. So who will take the series tonight in the “City of Brotherly Love”? Ryan Miller comes up huge, Derek Roy scores and the Sabres walk away with a huge upset against the Flyers.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks

The youngest captain in the NHL, Jonathan Toews, has been a crucial piece to the Blackhawks comeback in the series.

Coming into the playoffs, the Canucks had everything going for them. They finished with most points in the NHL, their defensemen were returning from injury, goaltender Roberto Luongo was playing great in net and the playoffs arrived just in time. The bad news? The Canucks were paired up against the Chicago Blackhawks, not only the defending Stanley Cup champions, but the same team that knocked them out of playoff contention two years in a row. To make matters worse for the Canucks, they had a three games to zero lead in the series and completely fell flat. Luongo looks like a piece of swiss-cheese in net, they can’t seem to put the puck in the net and the Stanley Cup champs, are looking more and more unlike the eighth place team that limped into the postseason.

Even on the road, how can you pick against the Hawks? I say it every year, it doesn’t matter about seeding, always fear the defending champs. They know what it is like to hoist the most prized possession in all of sports and even down in the dirt, they were able to get back up and put up a fight. If the Canucks can’t pull this out, the city of Vancouver will be flooded with tears for the third straight year and the Hawks will  be their newly acclaimed rival. Even though I would love to see a comeback for the young guns like Kane and Toews, the Canucks will edge this one out.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Even without superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the Penguins have been able to keep pace in the Eastern Conference. Like the Hawks, the Lightning were able to avoid elimination in game six at home and push the series to single-deciding game. Martin St.Louis is playing the top notch hockey (4 goals, 4 assists) and the Lightning seem to be as fired up as anyone.

The Penguins have put together some ugly wins, but nonetheless came away with exactly that, a win. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been inconsistent, solid in the net one night and the next, can’t stop a puck the size of a soccer ball. This game will hinge on the powerplay of the Penguins, who ranked 25th during the season and have only one powerplay goal in the playoffs. If Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson can put on a show like he did last game, the game will be one-sided. Young sensation Steven Stamkos will be a huge factor in this game as the Lightning advance and send the Penguins packing.

Categories: NHL

NBA Playoffs: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks Preview

April 15, 2011 5 comments

(3)  Boston Celtics vs. (6) New York Knicks

           

By the Numbers: Boston Celtics: 56-26 Record, 3rd in the Eastern Conference

Offense 96.5, 23rd in the NBA / Defense 91.1, 1st in the NBA

New York Knicks: 42-40 Record, 6th in the Eastern Conference

Offense 106.5, 2nd  in the NBA / Defense 105.7, 28th in the NBA

Season Series: Celtics won series 4-0 against Knicks

How they got here: The Celtics were the easily best team in the East before the All-Star break. They ended up winning 40 games before the layoff, racking up a streak of 14 victories and it looked as if they were going to make another championship run. But after a shocking  move in trading Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Celtics lost a lot of their physical game, not to mention the mental edge that they had over their opponents.

The second half of the season was a constant struggle. They had to deal with the injuries of Shaquille O’Neal, Delonte West as well as Rajon Rondo, and couldn’t gather any momentum down the stretch. To characterize the Celtics this year, they were a team that was on its way to perhaps the best record in basketball, but the defending Eastern Conference champs fell flat in the second half of the season.

For the Knicks, it was a season full of anticipation. Newly acquired Amar’e Stoudemire touted the words, “the Knicks are back” before the season began and believed that the team could win with the lineup that it had. Before the team could adjust with Stoudemire in the rotation, it traded three of its starters away for the highly-regarded Carmelo Anthony who came over from the Denver Nuggets with sidekick Chauncey Billups.

The Knicks had a formidable offense behind the two All-Stars, but couldn’t seem to adjust losing the first 12 of 19 with Melo in the lineup. However, the team has settled down as of late, recently ending a seven game winning streak with Anthony putting up some serious numbers, averaging just under 30 points a game in the past 10. Any season that ends with more wins than losses can be regarded as a success for this Knick team that hasn’t had much to talk about over the past few years.

Key Players: Knick fans will have the image of Paul Pierce hitting the last second shot earlier this season at Madison Square Garden and taking a bow burned into their minds forever. Pierce is the definition of a “game changer” and any time he touches the ball he can be deadly.

With Pierce being matched up against the lackluster defense of Anthony, it will be interesting to see the offensive approach he will take. Like Melo, Pierce has defined his game by driving to the lane and if the option isn’t there, he is comfortable in taking the mid-range jumper. This season, Piece is scoring under his career average of 22.2 per game (18.9 this year), but he has made shots when they count the most and has been the catalyst in the creation of this rivalry.

Even though the Knicks suffered defeats at the hands of the Celtics four times this season, their new lineup including Chauncey Billups was only present for one game. (Two if you count the final game of the season that included all reserves.) Even with Stoudemire and Melo being on the court, Billups is the diamond in the rough. When the blockbuster deal went through sending Anthony to New York, everyone seemed to shove the importance of Billups aside.

There is a reason his nickname is “Mr. Bigshot”; he is not afraid to shoot the ball with little time left on the clock and has stellar vision on the court. Billups will have a tough time keeping the faster and younger Rondo in check. The match-up of experience versus youth could be the deciding factor in this series.

Match-Up to Watch: Kevin Garnett vs. Amar’e Stoudemire – This is going to be a straight up brawl with elbows being thrown and words being said. Both players play with the physicality of two line-backers with exponential talent at their hands. In the past, Garnett has worked Stoudemire in the paint, like many others. If Amar’e has any shot of containing Garnett, he is going to have to be at his best.

The Celtics Bigs vs. The Knicks “Bigs” – Along with Garnett; Glen Davis and Shaq make up a gritty group that will attempt to press the Knicks on the inside game. Will the Knicks have an answer? They hope that Ronnie Turiaf can have some kind of impact in the paint along with Shawne Williams. If the Knicks struggle down low, they are going to have to rely on double-teams, leaving outside shot makers like Ray Allen wide open.

The Knicks can win if: With the second ranked offense in the league, the scoring ability of the Knicks will be the breaking point against the Celtics. If they are able to get scoring not only from Stoudemire and Anthony, but also from Landry Fields as well as Toney Douglas off the bench, it will be a huge boost for them. They will not have an easy time against the Celtics, who rank first in the league allowing just over 90 points a game.

The Knicks have gotten victories relying heavily from beyond the arc and if they can’t find the hoop from deep, they are going to be in trouble. Just take these shooting stats into account: When they make fewer than 10 three-pointers a game they are 13-32 and when they shoot less than 45 percent they are 8-29. A few bad nights of shooting could lead to a quick exit for the Knicks.

The Celtics can win if: Last season, Rondo was the accelerator that led the Celtics to the NBA Championship. If they want any chance of a better outcome this year, Rondo is going to have to return to the form that he was at the beginning of the season when the team started out on a tear. When he had 13 or more assists, the Celtics were 24-3, so the importance of Rondo’s game is a huge factor in whether or not they will struggle against the Knicks.

Rondo suffered a sprained ankle in December that has plagued him throughout the season and his game hasn’t been the same. He doesn’t drive to the lane with the same intensity that he once had, an important piece to the Celtics offense, who rely on the inside game. Rondo is passing the ball much more often when he has had the chance to pull up for a jumper or take the ball in for a lay-up. If Rondo can transform himself into the star-player that he was, the Celtics are going to cruise. He averages 11.2 assists per game; compare that to his 7.6 assist career average and you would think that this would be a year to remember for Rondo, but it is almost the opposite. If he can’t produce in the post-season it is going to be one that everyone hopes to forget.

 Position by Position Edge: Rondo over Billups

Garnett even with Stoudemire

Pierce over Anthony

O’Neal/ Kristic over Turiaf

Knicks bench over Celtics bench

 Prediction: The experience of the Celtics will be too much for this young Knick team to handle. The best defense in the NBA isn’t just a strategy, it is a way of life for the Celtics. Look for Garnett to come up big in shutting down Stoudemire along with Pierce and Allen nailing shots from the outside. The Knicks lack of defense and inside presence will be the deciding factor. The pieces aren’t all there yet for the Knicks as the Celtics move on to the next round in six games.

Categories: NBA

Fast-break Feedback: Chicago Bulls 103, New York Knicks 90

April 13, 2011 1 comment

 New York – In a game that had no impact in the standings for either team, but meant more for momentum, the Chicago Bulls were able to defeat the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden last night by the final score of 103-90. The Bulls earned their first win against the Knicks this season and continue to fight for the NBA’s best record on an eight game winning streak, sitting just a half game back of the San Antonio Spurs. Derrick Rose made a strong case for the MVP award, posting 26 points and turning the game around for the Bulls in the second half. The Knicks showed relentlessness late in the game, but couldn’t deliver a comeback, the loss against the Bulls snapping their seven game winning streak.

 

 ● Knicks Ice Cold From Beyond the Arc: In the past two games against the Bulls, the Knicks have relied on their three-point shooting to get the job done. In their first meeting on November 4th, the Knicks were 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) from 3-point range and Toney Douglas had a career-high 30 points, spurring the team to a 120-112 win. On Christmas Day, they were 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) shooting from deep and came away with a 103-95 victory. Only eight times have the Bulls allowed their opponents to hit more than 10 shots from beyond the arc, the Knicks doing it twice. But tonight it was a different story. The Knicks had the open looks to make shots as screens and picks worked like textbook plays, but the baskets wouldn’t connect. “Second half we missed some shots” said Carmelo Anthony, but that’s only an understatement. The team combined for only eight 3-pointers out an attempted 31 shots, a measly 25.8 percent. It was ugly watching them throw the ball up and saying a prayer after it left their fingertips, it just wasn’t there. The Knicks live from behind the line and if they can’t hit shots like they did tonight, it is going to be a quick exit from the playoffs.

 ● Boozer & Noah – The 1, 2 Punch: The first two times the Bulls suffered a defeat from the Knicks they were without two key players: Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Boozer was out with a broken hand, while Noah recovered from thumb surgery and ended up missing 30 games. With the duo back in the lineup against the Knicks, it was an unstoppable force. Boozer was able to snatch 22 rebounds off the glass and post 14 points, while Noah was perfect from the free-throw line (7-of-7), scored a total of 13 points and provided a strong defensive impact in the lane. With this tandem in the lineup, opponents are going to need a talented big-man to protect the paint, one that the Knicks did not have tonight.

 ● Amare’s Absence: With Stoudemire recovering from a sprained ankle and taking time off before the playoffs, it is obvious that his presence is required if the Knicks have any chance of winning. The Bulls had an astronomical 48 points in the paint. Mix in a total of 51 rebounds including 12 on the offensive side and you have the making of a team that is desperate for “paint-protection”. Not only did Boozer and Noah have a field day on the Knick defense, but Luol Deng put up a double-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and had a sensational night in defending the perimeter scoring. “Our defense has been key all year” said Deng. “There’s times where we don’t play like we should, but the majority of the time we’re going to make it hard for the other team.” With Stoudemire on the sidelines, the Bulls didn’t have to think twice about going for an easy lay-up and had no difficulty pulling down a rebound from the glass. What did they have to be scared of? The big bad Jared Jeffries? His two points and three rebounds in 21 minutes are evidence enough.

 ● Knicks Bench Points: Without a full lineup tonight, the Knicks relied heavily on their bench, which produced above expectations. The bench players combined for a total of 35 points, primarily the 18 from Bill Walker and 13 from Douglas. Even with the offensive outbreak from the bench, the Knick starters could not find any momentum. Anthony posted 21 points from the field; but the next highest scorer was Chauncey Billups and Shawne Williams, both who scored just over single digits with 10 points.

 ● MVP Watch – Derrick Rose: The essence of the MVP award highlights who the “most valuable player” is to his team and there is no doubt that Rose cashed in for the prize tonight against the Knicks. Even though Rose was a little off in the first half, shooting only 4-11 with 10 points, he started the second half on a tear, netting 10 points in the third quarter alone. At one point the Bulls had a 26-2 run right out of the gate and Rose ended up finishing with 26 points, right above his season average of 25.1 per game. He lit up the crowd with two emphatic dunks that left the crowd in awe. “Rose is amazing. His athletic ability is ridiculous” said Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni. “He’s come farther, quicker, faster than anyone expected. He’s playing at a level that not many people play.” There is no player in the NBA right now in talent that comes close to that of Rose’s. The Bulls made it to the 60-win plateau for the first time since the 99-00 season and this year, the MVP ballots should all read “Rose”.

 ● Next up: The Knicks finish out their season on the road against their first-round opponents the Boston Celtics, but will be without Stoudemire who was ruled out for the game on Wednesday. The Bulls will host the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday in their final game of the season, in hopes of overtaking the NBA’s best record and claiming home-court advantage in the playoffs, which will start in less than a week against the Indiana Pacers.

Categories: NBA

Mo Cassara – From the Anonymous Head Coach to the Social Media Superstar

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

New York – When Mo Cassara joined up with former Hofstra Men’s Basketball head coach Tim Welsh last spring, he was looking for new opportunities and a fresh start. In less than a month, Cassara went from being the man behind the curtains to the star of the show.

The one-time assistant coach at Boston University had barely been able to unpack his luggage when he received the news that Welsh would be stepping down due to a DUI charge and that he would be the new leader of the Hofstra Pride.

A stranger to the team and the campus, Cassara was able to create a social media revolution that has evolved into a successful recruitment tool and enlivened an entire student body.

With the changing of technology, Cassara has set the bar of communication to a whole new level through outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. “You don’t have to tack a sign on a door anymore to gain attention” said Cassara. “I don’t have the experience that some of the guys in our league have, so I am going to give this a little flare”.

For Cassara, a “little flare” consists of having 1,500 friends on Facebook and 1,000 followers on Twitter with over 2,600 tweets. “Yesterday I was recruiting in Philadelphia and I was responding to messages for two hours” not only with athletes, but also students.

Cassara has used these mediums to speak to recruits and gain an upper-hand on his rivals around the league, who have not fully grasped their importance.

In what seemed like an impossible feat, Coach Mo was able to create a relationship with highly coveted recruit Malik Nichols. Nichols not only suffered from a speech impediment, but also had emotional issues, losing his high school head coach to suicide and his mother to a heart attack at age 17. Every morning, he would send Nichols a message as soon as he woke up, making it possible to build an unbreakable bond. “It was really hard to talk to him on the phone” said Cassara. “There is no other head coach sending this kid a facebook message at six o’clock in the morning…that is the stuff that you have to do sometimes.” Nichols will be attending Hofstra this upcoming fall and begin his college basketball journey.

Given the chance, Cassara has made the most so far out of his short time as head coach of the Pride. He has revitalized basketball and looks for new ways to interact not only with student athletes, but also with the general student body. From a time when Cassara could walk across the entire campus without being recognized, he has transformed into the notorious social media celebrity that everyone has come to know and support.

Categories: College Sports