Now, I am the first to admit that I don’t watch golf that often. I maybe watch men’s golf because everyone likes to watch Tiger Woods compete and every once in awhile, maybe Phil Mickelson. So, when I heard that a womans golfer was retiring, I was utterly shocked. It made big news on ESPN and the strange thing was, I have never heard of her. Now, names like Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie are very common to anyone who knows sports, but this young lady, Lorena Ochoa is someone I have never even heard of. Well, me not ever hearing of her before is not the key point of this blog, its the reason for leaving.
In her tearful goodbye, Ochoa stated that she was leaving to start a family with her husband whom she recently married this past December. Being 28, Ochoa understands that her biological clock is ticking and she is not the first professional sports woman to recognize that. Another famous golfer, Sorenstam, left at the top of her career in 2008 to start a family with her recently adopted son, so it is not surprising to see it happen again. Ochoa has been number one for the past three years and has won 27 tournaments and close to $15 million in prize money. Instead of gaining on her successes, she is ready to be done. She has had enough and is ready to be done with golf, but did hint that she will compete in the Lorena Ochoa Classic every year and maybe a couple of other tournaments.
Another issue that comes up with Ochoa’s retirement is the effect it will have on the LPGA. Not only did the association lose their top golfer Sorenstam two years ago, but they are now losing another popular top golfer just two years later. They need to find another person within the LPGA to make their sweetheart and pimp out to the American public. I have confidence they will do it, but I also think they will secretly be praying that Ochoa decides to leave retirement in the next couple of years.
If you would like to see the Pens hoist that Stanley Cup again this year, don’t hold your breath for very long. After stunning the Detroit Red Wings last year in the finals, it was thought that the Pens would ride again to the finals on the shoulders of their young captain and gain that elusive repeat. Well, fans will have to be wishing and hoping for that next year. After gaining the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Pens had a horrible first playoff game showing against the Ottawa Senators. They not only lost, but many of the leaders of the team did not play to their potential and it looks like there might not be improvement anytime soon.
Reigning Stanley Cup MVP, Evgeni Malkin, was the only Pens player to play well on Wednesday night. Malkin led the team with 2 of the Pens 3 goals, but I wouldn’t expect this play to last. Ever since coming back from the Olympic break, the Pens have been in a slumping and Malkin’s uninspiring Team Russia performance in Vancouver is one of the reasons the team is still suffering.
If “The Kid” wants a repeat, he is going to have to step it up. After sharing a piece of the scoring title this past season, Crosby was held without even a shot attempt against the Senators until the third period. In 17 games against the Senators this past season, Crosby has only scored two goals which is his lowest against any Eastern Conference team. If the Senators are going to put all their pressure and defense on the kid, then the Pens need to put more pressure on the rest of the team to be more offensive.
Fleury Fleury Fleury. It has been a frustrating battle with Fleury this season and even though he came up big last year in the Stanley Cup run, he looked very unsettled in goal Wednesday night. The Pens are not as strong defensively this year, so that means Fleury needs to live up to more of his potential. If he can’t step up in this post season, there is no hope for the Pens to even make it out of the first round.
Well it is official. The West Virginia University Men’s Basketball team is going to have a tougher time making it back to next year’s Final Four. With the graduation of Da’Sean Butler and Wellington Smith and the early exit by Devin Ebanks to the NBA draft, there are big shoes that the team has to replace. Huggins is only bringing in two recruits next year and neither of them are looking like they are ready to step up to the plate. It is all going to depend on the current players and what type of improvement they can produce in the offseason.
One thing that the new recruit David Nyarsuk will give WVU is much needed height. During the Final Four game versus Duke, the Mountaineers struggled with their usually consistent rebounding because of one person, Brian Zoubek. At 7’1, the Duke center was just a little too tall for the Mountaineers and created a main difference in the game. Although Nyarsuk is coming from Mountain State Academy where former Mountaineer Joe Alexander and current Mountaineer Deniz Kilicli attended, there seems to be alot of hype that this incoming freshman has to live up to. Wellington Smith was a very under rated player this year but he was crucial for rebounding and defense. Kilicli, Nyarsuk or Freshman Danny Jennings will have to step up in the off season and prove that they are willing to fill Smith’s spot.
One thing that the Mountaineers will be lacking next season is offense. With the graduation of Butler and the early exit by Ebanks, that leaves the Mountaineers with only two returning starters. Sophomore Kevin Jones will have alot on his shoulders next year because he will be looked upon to lead the team offensively just like Butler and Ebanks did. Jones finished second on the team in scoring this year but he will have to improve greatly in the off season if he wants to make a stronger impact in the BIG EAST and to NBA scouts.
One thing that the Mountaineers will not be lacking next year is leadership at the point guard position. Sophomore Truck Bryant will be recovered from foot surgery and Redshirt Junior Joe Mazzulla will be more recovered from his 2009 shoulder surgery. Their guidance in pushing the ball up the floor will be crucial for the Mountaineers. Bryant will have to help contribute more on the offensive end to take pressure off of Jones, but Mazzulla tough defense will be needed on the floor as well.
If the Mountaineers want to do the John Flowers next year all the way to a National Championship, they are going to have to do alot of rebuilding this off season.
They are no Cinderella story. They are not going to disappear next year. They are here to stay and they will be taking down more big college programs along the way. That’s right. Butler has made a splash and they don’t plan on leaving the big boy pool anytime soon. Yes, they are a small school in a mid-major conference but they have been building a successful program for the past ten years and have produced coaches that can lead teams far. It first started with Thad Matta, who now leads The Ohio State Buckeyes and then Todd Lickliter led Butler to bigger heights by winning the pre-season NIT tournament in 2007 and now they have the baby faced Brad Stevens who was a bounce away from a National Championship. Here is what will keep the program in national prominence.
Brad Stevens will be the key to the future success of Butler and athletic director Barry Collier made sure of that last Thursday when he signed Stevens to a 12 year extension of his contract. Even though Stevens looks as though he could be a member of his own team, he has implemented a combination of hard work and dedication that has been successful and taken the team to higher standards. His philosophy that if a player goes down, it is up to the next member of the team to step up inspired many during the tournament and will inspire many future recruits. Shortly after losing the championship game, Stevens was on the road recruiting. His next move is not going after the huge recruits, its going after the recruits who are right for Butler and the program they are trying to build. His philosophy and goals are making many recruits take a second, closer look at Butler which will benefit them greatly in the future.
Gordon Hayward is the second baby-faced member of the team that is still needed to continue the success of Butler. The sophomore became the star of the team during this tournament and started making NBA teams look a little closer at the Indiana native. Although no word has been released from Hayward whether or not he will be leaving college early, it would be better for the team if he stuck around at least another year. The team is returning four of their five starters if Hayward decides to stay and could see another run at the National Title if their last shot hero decides to forgo those NBA millions. It is still up in the air and it will be interesting to see what the baby-faced her decides.
Everyone knows who I am talking about. One of the most dominant programs in NCAA history is the UConn Woman’s Basketball team. They are a force to be reckon with and they have won by less than 20 points only five times this whole season. They have the longest winning streak in woman’s basketball history and it is about to get at least six games longer. They are undeniably going to win this year’s tournament and there are not very many teams in this year field that will give them a huge challenge.
One thing that the team is being criticized for is being way too over dominant. If this was a men’s team, would we be saying the same thing? There are critics who say that it is unfair to judge them the same as men because first and foremost, woman’s sports have not been around very long. This year is the 29th anniversary of the woman’s tournament and the men’s tournament has been around for 71 years now. Also, the team has been compared to the John Wooden era UCLA Bruins. They were one of the most dominant teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s and no one ever complained about their winning streak or their dominance. It is completely unfair that we have decided to judge the UConn team just because they are women.
The other thing that this team is doing is they are establishing woman’s sports here in the United States. The two dominant programs in this country, Tennessee and UConn have a combined 14 NCAA National Championships and are constantly at the top of the polls every year. They used to play a game against each other every year but it ended last year after a dispute broke out between the coach’s over former recruit and current UConn player Maya Moore. These two teams have set the standard high for other teams and they also give other sports hope that there is more out there.
Here we go again. Its time for the big dance. The bubbles have been burst and the teams have been selected. Our beloved WVU Men’s basketball team has been battling this whole season to make its mark and they now have their destiny set. They did everything they could to get the highest seed possible and now its time to analyze how far they are going to make it.
First and foremost, this bracket carries a couple of challenges and a couple of teams that could pull a George Mason and be the Cinderella story of this year’s dance. The big one goes by the name of Cornell. They are the underrepresented Ivy League team that could make a splash with their players who are not nationally known. The other two teams that present a big problem go by the names of Kentucky and New Mexico. Kentucky spent a good deal of time at number one this season and boast two of the best freshmen of all time in John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. WVU will not be seeing them until at least the Elite 8, but they will have to get past a tough New Mexico team. Steve Alford has led this team to greater standards since taking over the head coaching position and they show a great threat even at a number three seed.
If one thing has to be constant for the Mountaineers this post season it has to be Da’Sean Butler. If there one thing he has been doing this whole season, it has been saving the Mountaineers booties at the last second almost every other game. When the game is tight, everyone knows the ball is going to Butler but for the most part, teams just seem to forget about Mr. Clutch. Butler has to make almost every shot he takes if this team wants a shot at making it to the title game. If worse comes to worse, he will also have to make that last second shot even if there are five guys on him.
If there is one person who will lead this team to victory it will always be the hard-nosed straight talking Bob Huggins. Huggins is seeking that elusive NCAA Championship that has been close but still out of reach for quite some time now. The one key to this equation is that his players actually have to listen to his advice and coaching techniques every step of the way. No more games where over 50% of the free throws are missed or where the players just decided not to listen to Huggins. Its do or die for the whole team. So if success is what they want, Huggins is the man to lead them there.
Fresh out of jail, Marion Jones is trying to make a comeback into the athletic world. Instead of trying to get back into track and field, Jones is getting back into her first love, basketball. Jones won a NCAA National Title in basketball back in 1994 when she was a freshman at the University of North Carolin and has decided that that experience is good enough to make a career in the WNBA. I don’t know what the Tulsa Shock were thinking when they decided to give her a contract but I don’t think she will go far with a $35,000 contract. I know that the team recently moved from Detroit to Tulsa so I see this as more of a publicity move than a move to get a potentially great athlete.
Honestly, I think the addition of Jones to the WNBA is a a huge publicity stunt all around. The WNBA is a struggling league that is barely making it. It never has that high of ratings and I am sure most of America can not name the team who won the WNBA championship last year. All I can say is that it didn’t work. People covered the story for not even a day and then America was over it. In America, we have turned away from all of this steroid phenomenon because it has been overplayed way too much. She gave her medals back and served her time in jail. To be honest, I think she needs to leave sports for good. Move on with her life and find something new to be passionate about.
My opinion is that all athletes that knowingly or unknowingly use steroids should be banned from sports for life. Steroids take away from the purity of the sport and ruin what authenticity is left. When you use steroids, you are using an illegal advantage that is just making sports a mockery. Bravo to Jones for trying to put her life back together but I am over it and ready to go back to my life without knowing that she was trying to make an athletic comeback.