Archive for February, 2012

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Patrick Newell

Again, I must thank the late Tom Schwan for his diligence in keeping historical records of area basketball teams. Last weekend, Bainbridge-Guilford beat Sidney 41-35 in a Midstate Athletic Conference boys’ basketball game. B-G head coach, Greg Warren, said it’s been a long, long time since the Bobcats defeated the Warriors. He wasn’t sure when that last B-G win came, but posited it may have been in the 1970s. I keep the majority of my historical records (dating to the 1995-1996) in-house, and I looked back over my records. Nope, the Bobcats had not beaten Sidney in my tenure. I e-mailed Greg with my research results, and resolved to dig deeper. Thursday morning, it occurred to me that Schwan’s basketball records – from 1970 to 1995 – were kept in a spiral notebook in a box at the base of my computer station. How could I forget? I rifled through each meticulously-kept season. Tom kept standings and game results for just about every conference in Section IV – STAC, Susquenango Association, Tri-Valley League – and even Section III’s Center State Conference and Central Counties League. If those details were not enough, he also kept up-to-date junior varsity results for the STAC and the Sus leagues. Each season was divided and stapled, It took a little bit of digging, but I found that elusive B-G win over Sidney. The opening game of the 1990-1991 season, B-G edged Sidney, 53-50. I let Warren know, and again, my heartfelt thanks to the late, great Mr. Schwan.

Sherburne-Earlville’s boys’ basketball team became the first area team to earn league honors when it clinched the Center State Conference Division I title last weekend. This week, S-E won its ninth and 10th league games to complete an unbeaten run in the CSC. I have seen the Marauders play three times this season, and I like to compare them to Norwich. Each team is extremely deep – nine or 10 players see plenty of action – and each club banks on its defense and contributions from many different players. The Marauders do not score as much as Norwich – about 55 points per game – but give up just 47 points per game. S-E has held its last eight opponents under 50 points, and it has the unique distinction of bringing its leading scorer off the bench. Eighteen area players average double figures scoring, and S-E sophomore, Austin Jasper, at 11.75 points tops his club and is 12th in overall scoring. In my recollection, I cannot recall a team with a record similar to S-E’s (13-3) that had its top scorer coming off the bench.

The most meaningful wrestling matches of the season begin this weekend with the Class B, C, and D tournaments. Top-four finishers in each weight class earn automatic bids to the Section IV Division II tournament next weekend at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. In case you’re interested in attending any of this weekend’s tournaments, be prepared to fill your gas tank. The Class B tourney, featuring local clubs B-G/A and Norwich, is at Waverly; the Class C tournament is at Lansing; and the Class D tournament is at Odessa-Montour. If you’re a Section III fan, particularly Sherburne-Earlville, the Marauders host the Class C tournament Saturday.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Patriots by three

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Patrick Newell

The past week, I have been asked countless times, “who do you like in the Super Bowl?” I like – and prefer – the Giants, but my head tells me New England settles the score from its 2008 loss to the G-Men. The talking heads have analyzed the matchup to death. Will the Giants’ defensive line pressure Tom Brady? Will Rob Gronkowski’s gimpy ankle hold up? Is Bill Belichick masterminding another fool-proof game plan? I have nothing much new to add. Both teams will throw – and complete – a lot of passes. My feeling is that the team that better establishes its running game will have the advantage. New England has had a sneaky running game. Brady will hit a bunch of passes, and then running backs Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley or Danny Woodhead pop a couple of nice gains. I have seen it dozens of times, especially with my Buffalo Bills taking beating after beating from the Patriots over the past decade. With a strong offensive line and complementary backs – Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw – one would think the Giants have the ability to run effectively. Not so at all. The Giants ran for just under 90 yards per game this season, and averaged only 3.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the seemingly pass-centric Patriots averaged more than 20 yards rushing per game than New York, and a respectable 4.0 yards per carry. Statistics aside, I have my own statistical theory on who will win, and why. The Patriots won all three of their Super Bowls under Belichick by three points. They also lost their only Super Bowl (with Belichick) by three points to the Giants. In 2008, the year the Giants won the big one, 17-14, New England defeated the Giants in the regular season, 38-35 – three points again. Fast forward four years, and the AFC East is again playing the NFC East in its interconference games. Earlier this year, the Patriots and Giants met with New York emerging with a four-point win, 24-20. That was New England’s last loss, and the Patriots are in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. Some interesting parallels between the last Super Bowl meeting between these two clubs: In 2007, the Giants lost their 14th game of the season to the Redskins, 22-10, and in the process looked anything but Super Bowl ready. In 2011, the Giants looked listless in game 14, again losing to the Redskins by a near identical score, 23-10. Too, in 2007, the Giants had to win three NFC playoff games to reach the Super Bowl, the last of which – each time – an overtime victory (Green Bay in 2007-2008 and San Francisco two weeks ago). New England’s game results are not as similar other than the fact that it has had a double-digit winning streak entering the Super Bowl. Remember those 1972-1973 Dolphins, they of the only perfect season, wishing for New England’s unbeaten season to come to an end? New England had an unblemished season incur a large pimple in the form of a Giants upset victory. I say New England finds the Clearasil to erase that pimple, and wins Sunday’s game by…three points.

* One quick edition, during the Giants’ current five-game winning streak, they have picked up their rushing attack averaging 114.6 yards per game, up about 25 yards from their regular season average. The Patriots, too, have elevated their running game picking up 128 yards per game over their last five. Of course, big days against the Denver defense helped the Pats.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/2/12

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Insert obligatory remark about uselessness of Punxsutawney Phil’s “prediction” here.

• And yes, @ScottBSheldon, “Gobbler’s Knob” does sound incredibly dirty.

• Check out George Franke’s debut “Outdoors” column on today’s Sports page. Welcome to The Evening Sun crew, George!

• Yup, that’s former Evening Sun crime reporter Sean Brigham (now of Norwich Dodge) in “jail” on today’s front page for the MDA Lockup. Always knew you’d end up behind bars, Sean!

• Cleaning out my in box, I found this neat little link to a blog about Norwich’s Caboose Diner (forever in my heart as Millie’s) … Unchained Restaurants.

• Speaking of Groundhog Day (and aren’t we all?), here’s a little poem sent in to me by Norwich’s Perry Owen. I didn’t have anywhere to work it into the print edition, so I thought I’d share it here.

MARMOTA MONAX

When GOD in six days made the world,

He had some stuff to spare,

He scarce knew what to do with,

Just teeth and bones, some fur and hair.

He’d already made all creatures, on land and sea and air.

So he stuck these bits together, and said because I’m GOD,

From now and in the future,

I’ll call this stupid creature, a woodchuck or groundhog.

This rat-like parody of creatures,

Short in limb and small in brain,

Got all the food he needed,

From leaves and grass and grain.

He’d dig a hole to sleep in,

All the winter long,

Until the spring awakes him hungry,

Like a breakfast gong.

No match against those snarling gangs,

Well armed with predatory fangs.

Full of fright, he could not fight,

Just sit up on his hind legs, and then run with all his might.

So derided was this animal,

That some folks used his name,

To insult their fellow humans,

And pour upon them shame.

You can tell these poor woodchucks,

Their down upon their luck.

With tatty jeans and shaggy beards,

Driving rusty beat-up trucks.

Now GOD regretted what he’d done,

To see groundhog the butt callous fun.

He determined that he’d make amends,

So, in old Woody’s eyes he gifted weather trends.

And now the groundhog’s famous,

For each February, he will bring.

The foretelling of more wintry snows,

Or the Harbinger of spring.

Perry Owen, Norwich