Monday, July 21, 2014

Siena's Manning to lead Goodwill Tour in Europe

Siena men's basketball assistant coach Greg Manning will be leading a group of college student-athletes on a Goodwill European Tour from August 13-22, it was announced on Monday. 

Saints rising sophomores Lavon Long and Troy-High grad Javion Ogunyemi have both been selected to play for the team. 

The 10-day tour includes stops in Brussels, London, Amsterdam and Paris and the team will play six games across several countries, wrapping up with the scheduled finale in Paris. 

“This is a great opportunity for younger student athletes to broaden their horizons,” Manning said. “We will be playing lots of basketball against international competition, and doing it against the backdrop of some of the world’s most famous cities. Everyone is really excited for the trip.”

This is a bit of a family affair for Manning, who will act as the team's head coach, while his father and Mount St. Mary's assistant coach Donny Lind will serve as his assistant.

The roster for the team consists of the following college student-athletes
Lavon Long - Siena
Javion Ogunyemi - Siena
Khalid Nwandu - Mt. St. Mary's
Jalen Carethers - Radford
Cory Blake - Westchester
Logan Stumpf - Westchester
Dion Wiley - Maryland
Patrick Wallace - NC State
Steven Spieth - Brown 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tri-City ValleyCats roster updates and moves

The ValleyCats wrapped up a six-game road trip on Monday night and, let's just say, things went pretty well.

In their first games outside the Stedler Division, the 'Cats opened with back-to-back victories over the Jamestown Jammers, winning two of that three game series, and also went 2-for-3 against the Williamsport Crosscutters.

While the final victories are certainly important, the biggest takeaway from the road trip may be how well Tri-City is, still hitting. Over the course of the six-game stretch, the ValleyCats combined for 65 hits while giving up 38 from their opponents and the only time the team didn't hit in double digits (three hits in a 5-0 loss to Williamsport) was a rain-shortened five inning game.

Pitching-wise, the 'Cats still looked strong on the arm of starter Troy Scribner, whose 38 strikeouts this season are a New York-Penn League best. The right-handed also pitched a season-long six innings against the Crosscutters on Saturday, giving up one hit and striking out seven. He leads Tri-City with 29 innings pitched, a 4-1 record and a 1.24 ERA.

On four different occasions during the road trip, the 'Cats had at least four batters post multi-hit games, lead by first baseman A.J. Reed, who has been quietly dominating at the plate recently and went 9-for-20 on the road with three doubles, a home run and five RBI. Leadoff hitter Bobby Boyd and recent addition tot he roster, Derek Fisher, both went 8-for-24 with the former recording two triples, four RBI and two stolen bases.

Of course, that kind of offensive production is going to warrant some looks from the higher-ups and the parent club and on Tuesday, third baseman (and third-round draft pick) J.D. Davis became the third 'Cat to be called up to full-season A squad, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Davis, who batted .297 for Tri-City in 30 games, joins knuckleballer Blaine Sims and infielder Marc Wik in the Midwest League.

With so much roster movement in Tri-City, the ValleyCats have also seen some recent additions to the squad over the MLB All-Star break. Juan Santana (Greenville Astros) and Randall Fant (GCL Astros), who pitched for the 'Cats last season, were both added to the roster on Tuesday afternoon.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Anosike solid in final summer league game with Celtics

Former Siena standout O.D. Anosike wrapped up his summer league action with the Boston Celtics on Saturday and his final game was certainly his most productive.

Anosike saw 17:58 on the court going 6-of-7 from the floor and 1-of-2 from the line and his 13 points were the best of anyone coming off the bench in the Celtics' 95-86 loss to the Pacers.

While the points were certainly impressive, and the best numbers Anosike has put up all week, the real reason not notice his line on the box score is with the two little squares of rebounding.

For all intents and purposes, Anosike was brought into the summer league on his reputation of being a solid rebounder and a force to be reckoned with underneath the basket. So, that what's he did on Friday morning, pulling in seven offensive rebounds and three defensive rebounds.

To put that all in perspective, the Celctis recorded 16 total offensive rebounds. Also, Anosike had seven shot attempts. Let's all do the math on that one.

Friday was the fourth time Anosike saw action on the court after putting in 19 minutes in Thursday's victory over Orlando (with four rebounds and two blocked shots) , one minute against Detroit and 16 minutes against Indianapolis (with four rebounds and one steal).

Now that the summer league schedule has wrapped, Anosike's NBA future is still a bit up in the air but he does still plan to return to Europe, where he had competed to much success last season.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

RPI athletics adds four more to Hall of Fame

The RPI Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee announced four names for the Class of 2014 on Wednesday afternoon, Jennifer (Tulloch) Dias (track & field '07); Paris Moore (basketball '05); Brian Pothier (hockey '00) and long-time academic advisor Bob Conway. 

“We are thrilled to welcome the 2014 Class into the Rensselaer Athletics Hall of Fame,” said Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton in a statement released by the department. “Each member has been an ambassador for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Department of Athletics and truly epitomizes all we value in our student-athletes and our role models.”

To see a short synopsis of each athlete's contributions to the Engineers' athletic program, check it all out under the cut. 

Former Academy Lax Standout Named US Captain at FIL World Championship

Former Albany Academy and UMAss lacrosse standout Kevin Leveille was named the sole captain for the United States squad in the upcoming FIL World Championship, the team announced on Tuesday night. 

The tournament, which the US won for the ninth time in 2010, begins on July 10 in Commerce City, Colorado. Today is the final day of team training at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. 

Leveille, a 34-year old veteran lacrosse player competing in his first World Championship, was chosen by his teammates to lead the United States. He was a Team USA alternate in 2010 despite standing as Major League Lacrosse's all-time lead goal scorer and the attackman has been in the mix for a roster spot in every tournament since 2002. Now that he's made the cut, the Capital District native is hoping to not only shine, but lead his team to another gold medal.  

"A couple people threw my name out and no one else was going, so I kind of just ran with it," Leveille told Lax Magazine. "It's been a great start to the week for us. Being together as a group and feeling it grow organicaly. It's a really smart and advanced group. It's been a lot of fun so far."

The United States faces off against Canada in the first game of the tournament on Thursday night with opening faceoff scheduled for 9 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN 2

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bandwagon'ing and Proud: Why I Loved the World Cup and Still Think Sports are Awesome

Let's get this out of the way first. My name is Laura Amato and I am a bandwagon'er. 

It's true. I'm not ashamed. Ok, I am a little ashamed. But not enough that I won't stop joining the crowd on popular things, flinging myself and my ability to become just a little too emotionally invested right into stuff and loving every second of it. 

I am that person who finds a new TV show and watches all 82 episodes of an entire series in two weeks (or more specifically, all two current seasons of Orphan Black in one week, because that's totally a thing that just happened in my life) and then research every main actor on the show and watch almost all of their entire catalog of work. I will also read the IMDB trivia. Because that is important information to know. 

So, how does this relate to sports and the last few weeks of my life spent as the United States Men's National Team's number one fan with red hair? 

Well, it brings us back to the idea of bandwagon'ing. I bandwagon'ed this World Cup. I will admit it. Four years ago, I was still in college during the World Cup, not yet 21 and sneaking looks at updated text messages on my phone while driving the train at Hoffman's Playland. Four years ago, when the United States lost, I was upset but not entirely interested. I don't think I watched another game during the tournament. 

This year has been different. There are reasons for that. 

One of the big ones may be that I'm 21 now (24 to be exact) and can get into Wolff's Biergarten and have beer poured all over my feet when the United States scores a goal. I really should have considered that when I picked out my footwear before that Portugal game. But I think it's more than just my ability to order steins of cider and it begins with the idea of sports in general. 

Here's another not-so-surprising Laura Amato confession. I love sports. I know it's weird to think that someone who has basically charted a career based around athletics wouldn't like sports, but when I say that I love the game, or games as it were, I mean that in the purest more honest way a human being can possibly love something. 

Sports are fantastic. 

I am not athletic. I broke the same wrist by falling over my own feet twice, TWICE, playing JV basketball and I've been known to trip over myself while simply trying to do the Insanity Workout. But I am as passionate about few things as I am about sports. In fact, I've been known to proclaim that "Sports emotions are the best kind of emotions." And it's true. 

That's what brings us back full-circle to this year's World Cup experience and weeks of bandwagon'ing and feeling some serious sports emotions. 

Sports have an over-arching ability to unite people. It's the same as music and art and entertainment, those singular events in our lives when we're more than just a moment or a passing thought, those events that stay with us and memories that we build on. Sports can be bigger than us, can rip our heart out and then put it back together again. They make the stranger standing next you, your brand new best friend and if you don't enjoy high-fiving people you met a few hours ago, then I don't know what to say to you. 

Of course, sports can also be horrible and there are plenty of reasons for us to question pay checks and PED use and turning the other cheek to athletes who abuse their station. 

But here's the thing, this World Cup, sports unified a country. That's not ironic or an exaggeration. That's a straight fact. 

Tuesday's game against Belgium averaged a 9.8 rating and 16,491,000 viewers, ESPN said on Wednesday. That's second only to the United State's game against Portugal, which saw 18,220,000 viewers and 9.6 rating. 

Overall, an estimated 21.6 people watched the USA-Belgium game, including online streams. 

Those numbers are BETTER than the most recent World Series and NBA Finals and it's even more impressive when you stop and think about the fact that many of those numbers don't necessarily include jam-packed watch parties in bars and parks and Soldier Field in Chicago. That's right, the home of Da Bears, fielded several thousand people for a viewing party on Tuesday afternoon. 

That's incredible. 

I had to leave The Record early during Tuesday's game to go cover a Connie Mack baseball game and as I was waiting for lineup cards, I was checking updates on my phone when a player from a previous game approached me and asked if I had heard anything about the US game yet. He was from Texas. In Troy. And he still cared about the US game. 

The pictures and the videos and the echos of the "I Believe" chant give me goosebumps as I'm sitting here now. 

I could write a 200,000 word essay on my feelings about sports and being a part of something and teams and everything that has to do with athletic greatness. I will not do that now. But I will say, that, for the past few weeks, we as Americans have witnessed every single thing I would love to write about. We witnessed unity, perseverance, a determination that saw Clint Dempsey score 30 seconds into the first match and Tim Howard make SIXTEEN (!) saves on Tuesday and, most importantly, a lot of people with their faces painted red, white and blue. 

We saw sports. And it was awesome. 

So, yes, I have bandwagon'ed on the USMNT and now that the US is out of contention I can't make any promises that all of us will be quite as devoted to remainder of the tournament, but, so what? So what if we, as a country, go back to being passably interested in soccer? Bring on the detractors. Bring on the naysayers of bandwagon'ing and those who question our loyalty to the game in that singular moment. 

I will feel as passionately about sports no matter what, because sports emotions are the best emotions and they are awesome. 

Nick Tanielu had a pretty good Tuesday night

It's hard to find a more professional way of putting that headline, but Tri-City's Nick Tanielu, the Houston Astros 14th round pick in this year's MLB Draft, had a ridiculously good night on Tuesday.

Tanielu, who actually played both second and third base in the 'Cats 12-4 victory over Vermont, went an efficient 4-for-5 on the night. But that number alone isn't what is the most impressive thing about his performance; it's what he did with those four at bats he made contact.

By the final thrown pitch, Tanielu had racked up a home run, two doubles and scored three runs for the ValleyCats, who notched their third straight victory with the performance.

Over the past few games, the Washington State alum has been absurdly productive for the ValleyCats at the plate. Prior to batting .800 on Tuesday night, Tanielu was .500 in Tri-City's games against Vermont and the Connecticut Tigers on June 30 and 29. He also added a hit against the tigers on June 27. This all comes after going hitless in two games on June 23 and 24.

So, to say that Tanielu is feeling it at the plate right now, may be a bit of an understatement.

Overall now, Tanielu is batting .302 with 16 hits in 53 at bats and only nine strikeouts. Those are numbers that put him, technically among the top of Tri-City's battling lineup. The only players with higher numbers haven't played in nearly as many games.

In other news:
While Tanielu's bat has been the most recent storyline of the ValleyCats seemingly never-ending road trip, we are closing in on the end and, eventually, the squad will be heading back to Troy for Friday's FOURTH OF JULY BASEBALL GAME EXTRAVAGANZA.

That is not the actual name. But there will be fireworks.

So what's happened since then?

Well, there's been some movement around the roster, including the assignment and reassignment of shortstop Dayne Parker to the ValleyCats and then up to Quad Cities on Tuesday. He didn't even play at Joe Burno before he left.

Meanwhile, Troy Scribner (who you all remember, pitches with a bit of a chip on his shoulder) continues to do some serious work on the mound for the 'Cats. He's gone 1-1 on the road trip, including a victory on Tuesday night that saw him throw five innings of three-hit baseball with five strikeouts. His 22 strikeouts this season are now tied for New York-Penn League best.

The ValleyCats conclude the trek tonight with a final faceoff against Vermont.