Monthly Archives: March 2009

You didn’t think Western could get out of this without rumors, did you?

Gary Parrish of CBSSPORTS.com mentioned Western coach Ken McDonald in a recent column, saying he should be considered for the vacancy at Memphis with the departure of John Calipari to Kentucky.

McDonald was successful in his first attempt at a win in the NCAA Tournament before being knocked out by Gonzaga in the final seconds of the second round.

I don’t think it will be the last time McDonald’s name is thrown around out there for a coaching vacancy this season, as the carousel is just beginning to spin. He did receive a $100,000 bonus for his trip to the NCAA Tournament this season from Western.

However, with a salary of about $350,ooo a year, there is plenty more money to be made at other schools.

McDonald is on the record as saying he is at Western to stay, but you never know, especially when potentially double the salary comes knocking at the door.

I would put it at a long-shot that McDonald would leave Western, as he has a very good recruiting class coming in and things haven’t been better for the Toppers in a long time.

Don’t forget Keno Davis at Drake darted after a year, so nothing is impossible.

-Andrew Robinson

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A celebration seen before…

I saw Findlay beat Cal-Poly Pomona today, and after Tyler Evans hit the three-point shot to win the game, the celebration that followed seemed awfully familiar. Maybe you’ve seen something before.

I know teams hit buzzer-beaters and teams storm the floor all the time. But think about his name — Tyler, the location of the shot, and the ensuing celebration. You can see it all on the following videos.

Now here’s the one you may be more familiar with: (It’s the best version I could find to demonstrate my point):

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Opening thoughts on Western spring football

Four quarterbacks took the field today with each of them getting about the same amount of snaps. They all took part in the numerous quarterback drills, as well as the offensive vs. defense drills in the end. They all performed well, each of them making some bad passes countered with some good ones. Coach Elson said he noticed the play of senior Brandon Smith and redshirt freshman Kawaun Jakes over the rest. Smith appeared to perform better in goal-line situations, especially in fade route passes.

The offense began its transition of lining the quarterback underneath the center today. In the past, Western’s QB was lined up in the shotgun, which made it difficult for the team to execute in goal-line situations.

The overall intensity and emotion for the team appears to be high. In offensive vs. defensive drills, they are always very competitive and spirited. Players cheered for their side and applauded for big plays. When the offense won an early drill, there was a short celebration with their side. There seems to be a good vibe going with the team, and it will be interesting to see how it is towards the end of spring practice.

More on spring practice in Tuesday’s Herald.

Mike Stunson

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Western releases spring football schedule

Practice Schedule (all practices at Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium):

Saturday, March 28 – 9:00 a.m.

Monday, March 30 – 8:45 a.m.

Wednesday, April 1 – 8:45 a.m.

Friday, April 3 – 8:45 a.m.

Saturday, April 4 – 1:15 p.m. (full scrimmage)

Monday, April 6 – 8:45 a.m.

Wednesday, April 8 – 8:45 a.m.

Friday, April 10 – 8:45 a.m.

Monday, April 13 – 8:45 a.m.

Wednesday, April 15 – 8:45 a.m.

Friday, April 17 – 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, April 18 – 12:45 p.m. (full scrimmage)

Monday, April 20 – 8:45 a.m.

Wednesday, April 22 – 8:45 a.m.

Saturday, April 25 – 6:00 p.m. Red/White Spring Game

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Rejoice! Rejoice! Spring football is here!

There are some places where spring football is one of the most anticipated times of the year. Western probably isn’t one of those places. In fact, it even kind of snuck up on us. In the midst of the NCAA Tournament, it really just hit me within the last 24 hours that soon we’ll be in the middle of non-contact green jerseys, coaches behind the quarterbacks in the middle of scrimmages, referees in shorts, and goofy timing on games.

Had Western beat Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament, I think people would really be struggling to get motivated for spring football, as if they’re not struggling already.

It’s tough, when you’re coming off a 2-10 season and everyone is excited about basketball, to get a fan base excited about spring football, but it will be something coach David Elson will have to work on. Scrimmages start Saturday. Pro Day is Wednesday and their Night of Champions, which is a weight-lifting exhibition of sorts, is Thursday night.

It’s an important spring session for Western as they become full-fledged members of the Sun Belt Conference. It will be interesting to see if the fan base takes notice as well.

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Thoughts on the history-making night at Diddle

Ball State’s Kelly Packard took time for a group hug with her assistant coaches before she went to shake hands with legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Packard will begin to prepare for second-round opponent Iowa State. Preparing for a second-round opponent is something Summitt has never missed out on. The Lady Vols were 21-0 all-time in NCAA tournament first-round games going into the game with Ball State on Sunday night.

Then Rocky Top came tumbling down.

Packard, the first-year coach at Ball State, recorded her 26th career win and the school’s first NCAA Tournament win with a 71-55 victory over the two-time defending national champions.

“I wanted us to play with class,” Packard said. “I wanted us to play with character and I wanted us to finish, no matter the outcome, the same way these young ladies have represented themselves and Ball State University the entire season.”

The close-to-4,000 people at Diddle Saturday night probably planned on seeing another Tennessee first round victory. Instead of seeing the Lady Vols win their 22nd first round game in school history, they saw Tennessee lose their first.

I’m not sure if the likes of Ball State guard Kiley Jarrett and forward Emily Maggert were just too worn out to show the joy on their face, but they sat in the post-game press conference poised and calm, answering questions while on a few occasions flashing grins.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Jarrett said. “Tennessee is a great team. I’d be lying to you if I told you it was going to be a 16-point victory. They’re a great team, and I’m not going to take anything away from them.”

Ball State did a great job creating offense from their defense. The Cardinals scored 17 points off of 16 Tennessee turnovers.

With two minutes to go, the large Tennessee contingency that had decorated Diddle Arena with Rocky Top orange began to head for the exits.

Ball State may have already fit themselves for Cinderella’s slipper in the NCAA women’s tournament. The little school in Muncie, Ind., took down one of the giants in women’s college basketball Sunday night. Ball State’s 146,00 living alumni were smiling tonight.

And one of the more famous alums, David Letterman, had a lot more than 10 reasons to smile.

What’s also interesting is the game was played on Western’s floor, the same floor where Western’s men’s basketball team played many games this season with many of the same characteristics that Ball State played with: heart, determination, togetherness.

It makes you wonder if there’s something in the air.

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Praise from Pitino

Even though Western lost last night, the praise on the season is still coming in, this time from Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

As you know, the Toppers beat the then-No. 3 Cardinals earlier this season, a win that at the time was considered the biggest upset of the season. Louisville ended the season ranked No.1 in the nation and are currently the No.1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Today, after the Cardinals escaped with a 79-71 victory over No.9-seed Siena in Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, a question was posed to Pitino about his team, then and now. Credit to Herald sports editor Andrew Robinson for finding this and shooting this in an e-mail to me (as I sit in my hotel room in Portland — all the flights are booked for the day and we have to leave tomorrow morning). Here’s how the transcript says it went down:

Q. Can you just talk about how your team has kind of evolved from some of those early-season losses to Western Kentucky, to UNLV, to the run you made to becoming No. 1 in the country? How did that evolve?

COACH PITINO: Well, you know what happens. I think as I look back on my pro experience, people always ask me what you got out of it. I got so much out of the Boston Celtics experience. It didn’t go well for me, but I learned so much from it. I learned so much about failure, adversity, patience, discipline, and so many things from the people I met. And with that, you know, there were some nights we just got blown out. You hang your head, you do this.

And we just never did that. All we tried to do was, I said, “Guys, Western Kentucky beat us, they deserve the credit. Don’t be hanging your heads. They beat us.” And now as we look back on it, Western Kentucky, Minnesota, Las Vegas, they’re pretty good basketball teams. We didn’t lose to any bad basketball teams. Everybody said early on we schedule really tough and that prepared us for the Big East.

So as I’m watching Western Kentucky play against — last night against Gonzaga, I didn’t feel bad at all. But we didn’t feel bad back then. Everybody’s saying, “how did you lose to Western Kentucky?” I think the Louisville guys right now feel kind of silly questioning how we lost to them. They’re damn good basketball team.

I think what it taught me, all that adversity, is just don’t panic. Relax. Stand up and say the other team was better. So many times we just make excuses and go off and say we didn’t do this, we didn’t do that. There’s a reason we didn’t do this and we didn’t do that. They made us that way. Western Kentucky made us that way.

So we just never panicked. We never bought into any failure at all. We just stayed patient, stayed with our game plan. Now, it did surprise me because I thought it would be — last year it took three losses to win the Big East. This year I thought it would be four to five.”

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