Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

Patrick Newell

- Last year, Greene’s field hockey season came to an end in what was essentially a skills competition. Playing Mamaroneck of Section I in the state semifinals, neither team gave up a goal in regulation or overtime. According to state playoff rules, after the overtime periods are exhausted, a penalty stroke shootout – five strokes for each side – determines the winner. It’s a one-on-one opportunity for a player to shoot from a designated spot in front of the goalie. Greene made just one of its attempts to Mamaroneck’s three. It wasn’t the first time in Greene head coach Sue Carlin’s tenure that penalty strokes determined a winner of a game she coached. But is there a better way to determine a team’s playoff fate? “We used to do penalty corners, but that ended up taking way too long,” Carlin said, who suggested something similar to hockey. The NHL uses a penalty shot where an individual player carries the puck in from center ice for a one-on-one shot against the goalie. Perhaps for field hockey, the player would dribble the ball in from just outside the penalty circle for a shot attempt. Each side would get five attempts, just like the penalty stroke format. Another alternative suggested by a former area coach was to start an additional sudden-victory 7-on-7 overtime period with seven players, but remove one player from the field every two minutes (save the goalie) until a team scores. In any event, who wouldn’t want to see a game end under more typical playing conditions rather than a shootout?

- Sue Carlin said her team has used food as a means of creating team bonding moments. At different times this season, parents and coaches have hosted team-wide meals. In preparation for Saturday’s state playoff game, Carlin assumed the chef’s hat with pasta as the entree. Asked about her culinary skills, Carlin was reticent to compare herself to Emeril Lagasse. “Definitely not,” Carlin answered if she would try to dress up the meal for her players. “They’ll eat anything.”

- I have never been a big fan of Penn State football. As a burgeoning football fan in the late 1970s, the Nittany Lions rolled over my Syracuse Orange year after year. Paterno’s troops were a model of consistency and excellence. Yes, I was indeed envious of that success. Paterno, an intelligent, educated man, expected his players to comport themselves with class, to study, and to graduate. It was a football program so clean, it squeaked. And the team was winning year after year. Over the years, you couldn’t help but respect the values that Paterno stood for, and his charitable generosity was admirable. Now, at 84, Paterno’s reputation, built over 60 years of coaching football, is spiraling down the toilet. Paterno has always favored a strong running game, and he handed off again – responsibility to someone higher on the chain of command. ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, who coached college and pro football for decades, made an excellent point earlier this week. If given this type of information by a graduate assistant or staff member, he would dig deep with question after question. Instead of tapping into human curiosity, Paterno passed the buck and didn’t follow up. It’s astonishing that anyone, knowing something like this was happening under his watch, would not seek justice.

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