Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Most Rewarding

I have been doing something that I absolutely love for the past 7 years now, that is coaching baseball.  I played baseball at Assumption for a year before I decided it would be better for my academics and my life after college if I give up playing the game that I have loved my entire life.  Growing up baseball was everything to me, I played 4 years of AAU baseball and we traveled to various tournaments throughout the country.  I have played as far south as Florida and as far west as Arizona for the best pastime out there. 

Baseball helped me get into college, but I decided that it wasn’t going to define me and there was going to be more to college than that, but I never lost the love for the game,  Then a wonderful opportunity fell into my lap my sophomore year, an assistant coaching position at the high school I went to.  I immediately fell in love with coaching and have been doing it ever since. 

With anything, there are certain highs and lows, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  There are good experiences and bad experiences and there are good parents and there are bad parents (hint: the good parents don’t complain to the coaches ever).

This past summer I was given even a greater opportunity and was offered a head coaching positioning for a 15U AAU team.  How many 23 year olds can say that?  I was a little over a year out of college and just learning to finally do some things on my own and that opportunity fell in my lap.  I couldn’t say no.  So immediately I called up my family and told them the good news.  I then started scrambling, I need assistant coaches, I need to schedule games, and everything is now on my shoulders.  No more just being an assistant coach and not having to shoulder the load of everything.  Luckily I have a few friends that have played baseball just as long as I have and agreed to be assistant coaches for me.  I am still trying to put that schedule together, but we are getting there.

The biggest challenge for me was trying to plan everything and not too much in a single practice and not overwhelm the kids.  I was trying to teach discipline and strong work ethic but also to mix in a little fun, because remember they are 15 year olds and can be distracted really easily.  I am also lucky and so far it seems that I have very good parents that have let me do things my way.

We have been practicing for a little over a month inside and I am already seeing tremendous strides for the team and they have increased their work ethic tenfold.  I no longer need to always tell the kids when they are doing something wrong, a lot of them realize it and try and fix it.  My voice appreciates this and there is no greater joy when you see the kids finally start to “get it”. 

I hope everyone gets the chance to coach one day as it is just a tremendously rewarding experience.  Not only will you get great joy out of seeing the improvements from day 1, you will also have a great deal of respect for the coaches out there.  It’s not as easy as some make it seem, there are ups and downs, but to me there is no parallel.

-The Boss

Monday, February 13, 2012

Despite Patriots Loss, Super Bowl XLVI Still Winning Experience

They say time heals everything. No matter how extreme a situation, giving emotions chances to settle and thoughts opportunities to collect allow individuals to reflect and draw meaningful conclusions. This goes for all facets of life, including sports.
Enter Super Bowl XLVI, the National Football League’s title match between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. The game watched around the globe, with the Feb. 5 spectacle boasting a world record as the most watched TV show in U.S. history when 111.3 million viewers cast their eyes on professional sports’ biggest stage.
As a Patriots fanatic whose family had season tickets to the cherished team for more than a decade, I—along with my family—traveled to Indianapolis hoping to see the Patriots capture its fourth championship. But once the game clock expired, celebrations erupted and confetti strewed—for the Giants. Instead of leaving Lucas Oil Stadium with feelings of elation, I left with feelings of dejection, anger and resentment as Boston fell victim to another New York victory.
No Patriots fans need recapping of the game that began with the Giants securing a safety and ended with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throwing an incomplete Hail-Mary bomb to the end zone. Of course there were highlights of running back Danny Woodhead and tight end Aaron Hernandez scoring touchdowns that—at one point—looked to capture the Vince Lombardi trophy. Like a Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees battle, the Giants seized and sent the Patriots and their fans packing.
A season that began with heartache for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who lost his beloved wife Myra, ended with heartache for Boston sports nation as a victory literally slipped out of the hands of the AFC championship team.
That’s when time heals everything. Five days later and more than 900 miles away from Indianapolis, I reflect. My Super Bowl trip had been a whirlwind of exhilaration from the moment arriving in downtown Indianapolis. Super Bowl banners hung at every street corner, fans decked out in their hometown colors poured the streets and celebrities such as actors Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg attended the event and ushered past screaming fans who aligned barriers.
And then seeing Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time sent tingles up my spine. Stepping inside the stadium transformed those prickles into anticipation and awaiting kickoff propelled that anticipation into euphoria. I was at the Super Bowl, hungry for the Patriots to win and ready to see the biggest game of my life—no matter the outcome.
This had been a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. While 111 million viewers witnessed the game via TV, only about 70,000 watched it live inside the stadium. Seventy thousand fans cheered from the stands for their favorite team. Seventy thousand fans had been given an experience that would last well after the victor’s crowning. I was one of them. I was lucky enough to be part of the crowd and that alone was pretty sweet.
I’m determined to not let the loss sack my overall experience. No matter how hard a loss, time heals everything.

Is It Going to be An All Blue Final?

We are about a month away from the greatest event in all of sports.  No it’s not that thing that just happened that none of us will blog about, it is the NCAA Tournament.  You have 64 68 teams all fighting for the same goal, to cut down the nets in early April.  Obviously if you are a 16 seed, realistically you don’t have a shot, but just looking back at last year you had a Final Four matchup of 12th seeded (and first 4) VCU and 9th seeded Butler.  Before the season there was all this talk about the power conferences are back, but guess what, unless you have been under a rock this year, it’s the year of the mid-major and Kentucky.  With all these powerful sophomores in Perry Jones III, Terrance Jones, Jeremy Lamb, and Harrison Barnes all returning to campus, the blue bloods were supposed to be back.  Instead who do you have in the top 25? Creighton, UNLV, San Diego St, Murray St, Wichita St, Gonzaga, Harvard, and St Mary’s are there rather than expected powers of UConn, Texas, Vanderbilt, Villanova, and Pittsburgh.  So if there was ever a time for a 16 to beat a 1 seed, it would be this year.

Right now, every team is vulnerable and every team has weaknesses.  Just look at some of these home losses that should never happen at home, UNC to Duke, Ohio St to Michigan St, Murray St to Tennessee St, Creighton to Wichita St, Florida to Tennessee.  That was all in the last week, CRAZY!  What is going to happen in March on neutral floors, I can’t wait.

Now when I say every team has weaknesses, let’s just exclude one team, Kentucky.  This team is loaded, like my god are there freaks just all over the court for them.  When in doubt, throw a lob to Anthony Davis and he will dunk it.  Fear the Unibrow.  Their one weakness, Marquis Teague is all of a sudden turning into a legit threat as well.  In his last 2 games, he is scoring 12.5 points and dishing out 9 assists per game.  I haven’t even mentioned the most clutch three point shooter in Ray Allen Doron Lamb for the Cats, he is shooting almost 50% from 3 and just has a knack for hitting daggers against teams.  I don’t need to say anything about Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, for more on him click here.

Now after Kentucky, my prediction for the Final Four is a crap shoot.  Everyone knows March is all about matchups, so until you see the bracket you have no idea who is going to actually get there.  Even then you might as well pick like most girls do, by mascot name, the colors, or “Hey I know someone who went there.”  But you know what, I am going to give another prediction on my Final Four (read the original here), since it clearly seems like Baylor isn’t making a run for it with how lackluster Perry Jones III and company play that zone defense (if you want to call it that).

The safest bet I have to a sure thing after Kentucky is Kansas.  Oh yeah, that’s right, my boys from Lawrence.  The Jayhawks now have 3 legitimate options on offense in POY front runner Thomas Robinson, the mostly up Tyshawn Taylor and wait for it, wait for it, oh yeah it's Jeff Withey.  That three headed monster is unstoppable right now and the real x-factor isn’t Taylor or T-Rob, it's the tall lanky transfer from Arizona Withey.  If we exclude the Missouri game (which I am going to do to skew my argument) he has scored 10, 15, 25 and 18 points in his last 4 games and has 8.25 rebounds per game including the monster 20 rebound, 7 block, and 18 point game against Oklahoma St on Saturday.  Can you imagine that 7 foot monster in the tourney?  I sure can’t wait for it.

Everything else is a crap shoot.  Syracuse, Duke, Michigan St, Ohio St, Missouri, Baylor, UNLV, and UNC all have issues and I have to pick two more teams.  I know for sure I am not going with Duke or UNC and a lot of that has to do with the lack of toughness that either team has shown this year.  If you are UNC, how do you blow that lead at home to Duke and that is on top of a 33 point loss at the hands of team that lost to Boston College in Florida St.  Yeah, I’ll wait while you wrap your heads around that one for a second.  I’ll say it again, UNC lost by 33 points to Florida St who has lost to Boston College.  If we go by that logic, Boston College lost to Holy Cross by 22 and beat Florida St by 4, soooo that means Holy Cross could beat UNC by 59.  That doesn’t sound like a Final Four team to me.  And because Tyler Zeller routinely scores for the other team.  Duke, well to steal Mark Titus’ line has Austin Rivers’ Punchable Face and a few other guys that aren’t very athletic, that is always Duke’s problems when they cant advance in the tourney.  I will cross these two teams off my list.

The leaves me with a few obvious options in Syracuse and Ohio St to make the Final Four, but you know how March is, you just never know.  The Orange scare me because they don’t have a go-to scorer that you need in March to be successful and Ohio St is too injury prone for me.  We also all know March is crazy and relies on great guard play.  Guess who that leaves me with?  You guessed it, UNLV and Missouri.  I will start with Missouri.  It pains me to put two of my least favorite teams in college basketball with Kentucky and Missouri (I will never call them Mizzou – gross).  But my god, this team reminds me a lot of that 4 guard offense that Villanova had.  They have 5 legitimate scorers that can go off at any time.  Phil (Flip) Pressey is just unbelievable and is easily a top 5 point guard in America, youtube him if you haven’t seen him (okay I will make it easy for you - a link to Phil Pressey is here).  Marcus Denmon has Jimmer range and has serious guts.  I guess I could also mention that Ricardo Ratliff is shooting 74% from the field, yeah he is about to break an NCAA record for field goal percentage, no big deal. 

Moving on to UNLV, all I have to say is MIKE MOSER.  The UCLA transfer is just an absolute animal, just gets after it.  He is averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds right now and can light it up from 3 as well.  The Runnin’ Rebels are back.  If anyone thinks I’m crazy for putting them in, the Mountain West is probably a 3 or 4 bid league while the Pac-12 is a 1 or 2 bid league for the tourney.  This league is loaded with SDSU, UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado St.  I have nothing else to say on UNLV because you have probably quit reading this post by now anyways so I am just rambling to myself.

Anyways, it’s tough to leave out my sleeper of every year, Marquette.  They will continue to be my sleeper this year, Buzz Williams has got them rolling.  DJO is about as good as it gets from a guard in college ball and is as tough as they get.  I would also look to Wichita St, Saint Mary’s, and Florida come tourney time.  Now that football season is over, I hope you get out and enjoy the last month before the greatest event in sports.

-The Boss

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hawaii - Let's Try This Again

Yeah I know this post isn't sports related but I thought I would show the world my videos I created.  This is from my family trip to Hawaii a couple weeks ago.  They both have the same pictures however the bottom one is longer and has different songs.  I apologize for the lack of posts lately, been really busy.  I plan to get back into it next week and maybe this weekend before the big game.

For now, enjoy these videos and if you have never been, you need to go to Hawaii.  Or go back!

Hawaii HD by Matt Lane

Friday, February 3, 2012

Yo Soy Fiesta

The game is finally here! After a week off and some jabs back and forth...mostly by the Giants since Brady's comment was nothing more than the truth. Anyways, it all comes down to Sunday. Brady vs. the other Manning on Peyton's home field. Is it Sunday 6:30 yet?

This is going to be one of the better Super Bowls in recent history. You have the "favorite" in the Pats who are on a 10 game win streak and have a new found, motivated defense vs. the typical New York team, talking before the game has even started. Everybody is comparing this game to Super Bowl 42 and how the Pats are out to get revenge. This game has a totally different feel to me. 4 years ago, there was so much pressure on the Pats to go 19-0. We all know that didn't happen. This year, everybody is going against the Pats because they think the defense is weak and the Giants pass rush will put too much pressure on Brady. The Pats are being written off by all the writers and already giving the trophy to the Giants. Remember the last time this happened?

2001 season. Nobody was giving the Pats a chance because the Rams had too much firepower. They had a MVP caliber QB in Kurt Warner (Eli Manning), dynamic wide receivers in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt (Hakeen Nicks and Victor Cruz), and a good running back in Marshall Faulk (Ahmad Bradshaw). The Rams came into the game thinking they already won the game and were way over confident. Very similar to what we have seen this week out of the Giants.

Onto the more important topic: Gronk. I'll keep it plain and simple. He will play and he will be effective. You're telling me that an ankle sprain is going to keep this man out of the biggest game of his life? No way. Imagine the pain threshold Gronk must have? My guess is he could break his leg during the game and not even know it. Okay thats an exaggeration but you get the point.

Gronk is the key on offense Sunday, along with Hernandez. If Gronk and get up field with out favoring his ankle, they will be fine. He needs to be able to stretch the field to open up the 5-10 yard passes for Wes and Aaron. The offense will be fine and you won't even know that Gronk is "hurt."

On defense, its big Vince. He needs to play the same way he did against Baltimore. Get pressure on Manning to force a quick pass. You can't let Nicks and Manningham get deep. Pass rush is going to play a huge part in this game if the Pats want to be champs. Get Eli off the spot and force him to make bad decisions. We all know what happens when Eli makes bad decisions...he throws the ball right to Asante Samuel who clinches the game with an INT! Oh wait, Asante didn't catch that? No wonder why he isn't here anymore. The man has a tattoo that reads "Get Paid" but he can't even catch a duck that was thrown right to him with the Super Bowl on the line. Sorry, another topic for another day.

Anyways, enjoy the game. It has the makings to be one of the best Super Bowls ever.

Pats 28 Giants 20. Parade Tuesday.

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