Carl Landry took over tonights game to help his team to its 19th win of the season. His 25 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists, and 3 blocks were a large reason that Purdue is still in the hunt for win #20. He was on fire when the rest of the team appeared not to be. A couple of the players had trash cans in front of them on the bench prompting some concern for the health of this team. David Teague was the most notable of those. He did not log in as many minutes as he has been, and he only had two points (on a dunk) in that time. On defense Purdue looked good last night. They forced 28 turnovers, 16 of which were on steals. A lot of the rest of the teams point contribution was on the fast break. The Boiler have one regular season game left, and that is Saturday at home against Northwestern. If they can get win #20 before the Big Ten Tournament they will have a much better shot at getting in the NCAA’s. It is still hard to believe after watching the past two seasons that we are talking NCAA Tournament, and the possibility of a 20 win season. Go Boilers!
Notre Dame got roughed up tonight in Chicago. The Lady Irish stayed just close enough to give us hope most of the game, but had a tough last few minutes to seal their fate. The Depaul players seemed inspired by senior night, and were screening very well to get people open looks. They took advantage of the open looks draining what seemed like three after three. Charel Allen the catalyst of the Notre Dame offense sat out a large portion of the first half with two fouls. When she did get back in she was hurt right away by a very rough Depaul team. She finished the game with 10 points including her 1,000th point as a Fighting Irish player. She tried to tough out her apparent knee injury in the second half, but had trouble guarding because of mobility. Freshman Ashley Barlow led all Irish scorers with a career high 21 points. When Allen had to sit out, she stepped it up. She drove to the rack to draw fouls and make something happen. Her point total would have been even higher if she would have converted some of the free throws she was given. Briana Gray had 15 points for the Irish, and Tuliyah Gaines had 14. Gaines also toughed out an injury most of the second half. It looked as if she started having trouble with her shoulder after running into a screener hard in the second half. She tried bringing the ball up the floor the next couple of possessions, but you could see that she could not use her left arm. She was taken out, and treated next to me for what looked like a shoulder separation. She was inserted back into the game a couple of times, but never did regain use of her arm. The Irish may not have only lost the game, but two of their guards left McGrath Arena with possibly damaging injuries. They also fell into a tie for fifth place in the division. Because of that tie they will be seeded 7th in the Big East Tournament. That 7th seed also gets them rematch with Depaul on Saturday in the first round.
Today the Boilermakers went into Champaign and finished out the regular season with a win. Just before the half it looked as if the score would be tied at 20 going into the intermission. Katie Gearlds hit a three pointer to give the Boilers the lead, and some momentum going into the half. They came out firing, stretching the lead to as many as 20 before an Illini run would cut the lead to ten. Once again the top scorer for Purdue was Katie. She scored 21, and is the heart of the team. She is a big reason that the team is 25-5 on the season, and 14-2 in the conference. They finished second in the conference, and will get a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. They will play the winner of the Wisconsin/Michigan game. If they can at least get to the title game in the tournament they will probably be a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
I was able to attend the game as a guest of the Boilermaker Network. Every year they go on four or five road trips to Purdue Women’s games. This was their last trip of the year, and they have a good time going. These people have been going for so long that it is one big family. The players and coaches really like the support the group gives them as well. After the game coach Martin Clapp and Kiki Freeman (one of the players) boarded our bus to tell us thanks. The people were great, and it was nice not having to drive somewhere. I will go on at least one of these next year. The Network does not have a website so they are hard to pin down, but they have a table at every home women’s game.
Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson came into the Joyce Center today and ruined senior day. Ajavon scored 26 (20 in the second half), and Carson added 17 for Rutgers. Notre Dame just did not look in synch most of the game. Rutgers clamped down on Allen, and the rest of the team had trouble getting the ball in the hole. The normally pesky Notre Dame defense that forces many turnovers looked human against a ranked team. We will have to see what they do in their final game, and in the Big East Tournament. They really need to step up their game to be competitive in both the Big East Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament. The Irish had their 6 game winning streak snapped today, but look to start a new one Monday at Depaul.
Tonight Katie Gearlds and Erin Lawless played their last game in a Boilermaker uniform at home. Both of them went out on a high note. Lawless scored 18 points, grabbed a career best 13 rebounds, and had five steals. She also moved into 13th place all-time in Purdue scoring. She had one of the best nights that I have personally seen of her. Gearlds would have trouble topping the 41 points she put on Wisconsin last Sunday. She did score 28 tonight though, and also helped get the ball to her teammates. Both of them played their hearts out, and kept promising that they have 10 more games to play this season. After the turmoil of last season, and the way senior night turned out tonight was nice. Sharon Versyp the new coach became the all-time winningest first year coach with the W tonight. On a side note: Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton had four steals on the night. That moved her into fourth place all-time in Boilermaker history. The Boilermakers had 20 steals on the night, part of 27 Iowa turnovers. LWH got her game ball for her 1,000th point prior to the game. She is now part of a trio of 1,000 point scorers on the team. It is only the fourth time in school history that three players on the same team have scored 1,000 points.
Tonight Notre Dame played its second to last home game of the year against the Georgetown Hoyas. The Irish came into the game on a hot streak winning their last five games. They are also receiving votes in the AP poll. the streak continues after the Irish beat the Hoyas by 25. Notre Dame started off the game by going on a 20-2 run. They did it by pressuring the Hoyas, and causing turnovers that led to easy points. Georgetown found their stride though, and crawled back into the game. At one point they pulled to within 6 at 29-23. Notre Dame used balanced scoring to slowly pull away in the second half. Four Irish players scored in double figures tonight. They were led by Melissa D’Amico who scored 15 to go along with 7 rebounds. Most of those were inside where Georgetown could not handle her. Tulyah Gaines scored 14 with 4 steals and 4 assists. Charel Allen who has been carrying the team scored 11 with 4 assists and 3 steals. Melissa Lechlitner scored 11 four the Irish as well.
The win is the 19th for the Irish on the season. That is one more than all of last year. It also makes them 10-4 in the conference. They are in a tie for third place with Marquette. Marquette though has the tiebreaker with a win in the only meeting this year. They are only one game behind #21 Rutgers who come into the Joyce Center for the final home game on Saturday. The Irish were picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the conference, so this team is overachieving in most people’s eyes. Georgetown is only 2-12 in the conference so this is not a defining victory, but at this point in the year you will take all that you can get.
Vote Minnie In!!
I don’t want to get too in depth on this, but on February 27th the Veteran’s Committee will release their selections for the Hall of Fame class of 2007. If Minnie Minoso is not on that list than there is a problem with how we select our Hall of Famers. I may be biased because he was my dad’s favorite player. I grew up hearing stories about the kind of player that he was. He was the type of player that would do anything to help his team. He is still doing that for the Sox today as a goodwill ambassador. The picture to the right is from last year at U.S. Cellular. He was signing autographs for anyone who bought a ticket for the ring raffle. I have been able to meet him a couple of times, and he has always been a great guy to talk to. A little hard to understand, but very nice. His record should speak for itself. He was the third black player in the Major Leagues. He followed Robinson and Doby. He came to the United States from Cuba to play baseball for the New York Cubans. He did not break into the Major Leagues until he was 28 years old, and he still had good career statistics. Last year I think that Major League Baseball dropped the ball when both Minoso and Buck O’Neil were passed over for election by the special Negro League Committee for Hall induction. Both of these men were trailblazers, and spent their whole lives trying to better the game, but also to not let us forget where we came from. Minoso though is used to disappointment. In 1951 he was second in the Rookie of the Year voting even though he had superior numbers to the New York Yankees Gil McDougald. The AP may have dropped the ball, but the Sporting News named him the Rookie of the Year. In 1980 he made a plate appearance for the Sox to become the only player to play in six decades. He was turned down in the 90′s to make it seven decades. ‘Black’ Jack McDowell was the ringleader of the players that did not want a ‘distraction’ in the organization. Shortly thereafter the Sox club signed a rookie ballplayer in his thirties named Michael Jordan. I’m sure that Mr. Jordan was not a distraction for the organization at all. The Saint Paul Saints let him play in 1993 to become the first player to play professional baseball in seven decades. Minoso ended his career with a .298 batting average. He had almost 2000 hits, and 1000 RBIs. He hit 186 home runs and stole 205 bases. He hit .300 nine times during his career, led the league in times being hit by pitch 10 times, and was a Gold Glove outfielder three times. He deserves this honor, but most likely will not see it. In his 15 years on the Writer’s ballot his highest vote total was 20.8% out of the 75% needed. In 2005, his last year on the ballot, he only received a 15% vote. It would be great to be able to go to Cooperstown to see Minnie this summer. Hopefully the writers get it right this year.
On a side note, LaPorte native Charlie Finley is also on the ballot. He was a great innovator, but his demeanor with the press may keep him out of the hall. The only people who would remember him would more than likely not try and get him in.
Tonight I went to the women’s game between the Valparaiso Crusaders and the Chicago State Cougars. Valpo sped off to an early 20-4 lead, and had a 14 point lead at the half. They eventually lost most of the lead to make it a game with about 5 minutes left in the second half. Whitney Farris and Betsy Rietema took over the game for the Crusaders. Farris finished the game with 14 points, and Rietema scored 10 points and 9 rebounds. This was a very sloppy game, that neither team seemed to want to win in the second half. If not for the early Valpo run this would have been a completely different game. I don’t know what they claimed to have for attendance, but I would bet there was only about 300 people at the game, and most of them were there to see the halftime entertainment. Once the dance group was done they left. There is not much atmosphere for women’s hoops at the ARC. It will take a special game to get me to go back.
February 19th, 2006
On this day last year I attended two women’s basketball games on two different campuses. Purdue played Indiana at Mackey, and the Notre Dame women played UConn in South Bend. Both games looked to be good, and when I couldn’t make up my mind I decided to attend both. In the first game the #10 Boilermakers fell to the Hoosiers 63-61 in overtime. Katie Gearlds scored 32 for Purdue in the losing effort. Purdue had the game in regulation, but a desperation three at the buzzer for IU sent the game to overtime. Cindy Valentin took over in overtime to give the Hoosiers the victory on senior day at Mackey Arena. Valentin ended up with 25 points on the day.
The second game featured the #8 UConn Huskies at Notre Dame in the Joyce Center. Ann Strother scored 19 as the Huskies rolled to a 79-65 win over the Irish. Notre Dame kept the game close for a while, but in the end the Huskies depth and Strother were too much to overcome.
Kevin Harvick wins the 2007 Daytona 500. (I know the picture is old, and the wrong series, but I haven’t had the chance to photograph his new paint scheme yet.) He made a great pass around Martin, and about three other cars in the last corner. I thought that Martin had the race, but NASCAR did not throw the caution when the wreck happened. That will probably be the talk the next week until the new controversy can come forward. If the Busch brothers keep it up their name will be like Bodine around the garage. Kurt takes out his car and Stewart’s today.
The best part of the race today was the experience that I got with NASCAR.com. The raceview was great because I watched Gordon the entire race. On the same page you can also listen to his in-car audio. Towards the end of the race you could hear the displeasure that he had for Boris Said. During one caution he was talking about the “idiot drivers” out on the track. His spotter asked him about the bump he just got in turn three, and Gordon said “I can’t wait to ring his neck.” He spent a large part of the red flag talking about the fact that he cannot see out of his windshield. He kept trying to get the ok to clean it, and then just decided to lean out and do it himself. On the FOX broadcast they went to a long shot, and you could see a white rag going up and down the window of the 24. His spotter was telling him that the cars behind him would go up high with him if he wanted it, and he said that he couldn’t see. His spotter told him to keep racing in the middle, and he wouldn’t need to see out of the front of his car. It was a good time watching the race on TV and the computer, and listening to Jeff and his crew. They had some good comments the whole race. At the end one of the last transmissions was that the #24 car would be one of the cars picked for a random inspection after the race. His crew chief asked how the templates would fit with the car tore up. Jeff had a terrible car all day, and finally had things on his side at the end of the race. He was in 8th spot when the last wreck happened, and ended up finishing 12th. For how his day was going most of the race that was not too bad of a finish.
My prediction to win the race was Tony Stewart. Thanks to Kurt Busch that did not happen. The only good news was that Kurt took himself out as well. Tony had just come from 40th in the field to take the lead right before the wreck. So I missed that one, but did predict that Montoya would be the highest finishing rookie. That was wrong as well. David ‘crash’ Ragan finished in 5th position. Montoya was 19th. The only other rookie was David Reutimann finished 40th. I had a one in three chance, and missed this as well. Hopefully my other predictions will be a little better.