Archive - Sports Article
Ready or not, a new Rhode Island high school boysâ€™ basketball season beckons.
For several area squads, Thursday serves as the grand unveiling â€“ a clean slate for all involved parties with role players looking to blossom into stars, and stars seeking to take their team to the next level.
PROVIDENCE â€” As Kris Dunnâ€™s high school coach noted, â€śYou really have to feel for the young man.â€ť
You feel for the youngster because all roads pointed to the 2013-14 season as one that held much promise. The 19-year-old point guard from nearby New London, Conn. was healthy and ready to serve as the conductor of the Friarsâ€™ offense.
Yet in a chilling reminder that even the best-laid plans can vanish in a cloud of smoke, one nasty spill in a preseason game ended up changing the fortune and expectations of both Dunn and the Providence team.
Deb Engels seemed remarkably upbeat as she readied her Cumberland High girls' hoop team for a two-plus hour practice at the Wellness Center on Monday afternoon.
You'd figure her mind-set instead would border on concern, given the fact she'll return only one starter â€“ her daughter Kate â€“ from a team that closed last year's Division I-North campaign with a dismal 4-14 mark.
The league should be highly-competitive once more, but Engels expects this season's crop to be more than capable of doing some damage.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Back on June 28, in Miami, the cityâ€™s own Stacie (Wildenhain) Venagro wanted desperately to capture the Miss Fitness Universe Pro Division crown, but admittedly felt disappointed when judges deemed Anca Bucur of Romania the champion.
She lost that competition by a final score of 147.65-145.35, or a mere total of 2.30 points.
So perturbed by her runner-up finish, the 28-year-old Venagro boosted her training regimen 10-fold â€“ or more.
â€śI knew I had to pick it up a couple of notches,â€ť she stated. â€śI wanted to be the best of the best because I compete in the pro division.â€ť
CRANSTON â€“ The expression goes, â€śif itâ€™s not broke, donâ€™t fix it.â€ť
In all honesty, there was very little reason for West Warwick to stray from the defensive scheme that had proven most successful in the Wizardsâ€™ 14-0 regular-season victory over Cumberland. The blueprint on how to contain and/or slow down Tyler Calabro, Chris Hayes, Joe Fine, Mike Stock and the rest of the Clippersâ€™ offense had been established, hence why Wizards defensive coordinator Chris Craik likely didnâ€™t have to endure too many restless nights leading up to Sundayâ€™s Division II Super Bowl contest at Cranston Stadium.
CRANSTON â€“ Cumberland High senior tackle Ricky Goodreau's response to what had just transpired at Cranston Stadium summed up his teamâ€™s collective mood early Sunday evening, as he walked slowly away from the post-game huddle near midfield with tears in his eyes, then raised his helmet with his right hand and knocked it softly against his forehead.
PROVIDENCE â€“ Ed Cooley had something he wished to get off his chest.
Call his remarks a summary of the first-semester portion of Providenceâ€™s 2013-14 hoops odyssey. â€śI would love to coach the team that weâ€™ve recruited, I really would,â€ť said the head coach, his exasperated face painting a picture of how strenuous the past six weeks have been. â€śFor seven weeks, we prepared to play a particular style. In one day, that style had to change.â€ť
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â€“ That wasnâ€™t a basketball game that took place at the Ryan Center Thursday. That was a rock fight.
Or considering the stare down at center court that Dan Hurley and Ed Cooley engaged in with 3:55 remaining â€“ one that also contained a few verbal jabs for good measure â€“ perhaps they should have put the basketballs away and slapped a pair of boxing gloves on the two head coaches.
Style points were definitely at a premium, but oh, what a conclusion the Friars and Rams staged.
What would it take for the stateâ€™s four Division I menâ€™s basketball programs to get together for an in-season, round-robin tournament?
Depends on which school representative you speak with.
â€śAnything we could do to grow interest, whether it be a doubleheader, a tournament or anything like that, we would be all for it,â€ť stated Brown head coach Mike Martin.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Validation in the form of a job well done was bestowed upon Gary DiSarcina Thursday, as the former Pawtucket Red Sox manager was named Baseball Americaâ€™s 2013 Minor-League Manager of the Year.
In his first and only season at the helm, DiSarcina guided the International League North division title with an 80-63 record. The PawSox accomplished that while employing the services of 64 different players during the regular-season (30 position players and 34 pitchers).
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â€” Ed Cooley has a grand vision for the stateâ€™s annual college basketball passion play â€“ Providence versus Rhode Island.
â€śMy goal is to get this game on CBS on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon,â€ť proclaimed the Friarsâ€™ head coach. â€śWhen you do that, you know that both programs are getting there. Take nothing away from the other channels, and I donâ€™t want to be disrespectful to anybody, but when youâ€™re talking about trying to nationally brand your two schools, I think thatâ€™s our ultimate goal.â€ť
There figures to always be a soft spot in Tommy Harperâ€™s heart for Jacoby Ellsbury. Harper got to know Ellsbury when the latter was on the fast track through the minor-league ranks, hence why the former had no trouble relinquishing his 36-year-old Red Sox record of 54 stolen bases in a single season, which Ellsbury shattered with 70 thefts in 2009.
When the topic of Ellsbury and the lavish seven-year, $153-million deal he reportedly agreed to with the New York Yankees came up during a phone interview on Wednesday, Harper elicited a response that was part clairvoyant, part reality check.
PAWTUCKET â€“ It's the time of year when interscholastic coaches begin preparing their respective squads for the winter season, and Kim Hewson, the Shea High head swimming coach, was one of them on Tuesday.
He stood on the deck explaining to a few of his more inexperienced aquatic Raiders the nuances of proper stroke and rotary breathing techniques: that is, how the hands should slice the water, not slap it; how the body should rotate in order to breathe correctly to either side; how to close the fingers and turn them down slightly to create a â€śpaddleâ€ť for each stroke.
WARWICK â€“ If everything shakes out according to Thorr Bjornâ€™s plan, the University of Rhode Island will have a new football head coach in place by the middle of the month.
Speaking about the ongoing search to find Joe Trainerâ€™s successor at a college basketball luncheon held at the Radisson Hotel, Bjorn stated that the official job posting in accordance with state requirements took place Monday. The Rams' athletic director noted that such a step must take place before interviewing prospective candidates.
Even on the phone, Chris Skurka came across as a happy camper. Call such â€śmerrinessâ€ť not in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, but rather it is based solely on the fact that his Cumberland football outfit does not have to concern itself with a semifinal-round game on Tuesday night.
Sports editor emeritus
CENTRAL FALLS â€” On the surface, Saturdayâ€™s Lincoln-Central Falls football game seemed like a battle between two teams finishing off losing seasons. Dig a little deeper, though, and the truth becomes evident. These two teams played with passion and love for the game that went beyond their win-loss records and to the core of why youngsters play football.
â€śPlaying on a frozen field is never fun,â€ť Lincoln senior Giovanni Gray said after his Lions rolled to a 47-8 victory. â€śBut when the sun came out and the field turned to mud, now that was fun!â€ť
Sports editor emeritus
PAWTUCKET â€” Things were looking pretty bleak for Tolman Highâ€™s football squad at halftime of Friday morningâ€™s holiday clash with Shea inside McCoy Stadium. The Tigers trailed 18-0 on the scoreboard. They were missing five starters due to injuries or academic issues, including quarterback/kicker Corey Hughes, one of the Tigersâ€™ co-captains.
PROVIDENCE -- Ed Cooley and his Providence College Friars ended up playing eight games in November. It nevertheless seemed that all took a backseat to the reoccurring storylines and hot topics that remain just as fervent as the calendar flips to the second month of the college basketball season.
WOONSOCKET â€” With the Division II Super Bowl looming a week from Sunday, Cumberland High veteran mentor Chris Skurka took a somewhat conservative approach to the annual Thanksgiving morning clash with Woonsocket on chilly, gusty Thursday.
In an effort not to â€śbreakâ€ť any key spokes in his wheel, he chose not to start senior tailback Mike Stock; he wanted him to get some rest after he rushed for four touchdowns and 145 yards (with one catch for another paydirt) in his Clippers' 49-35 semifinal triumph over St. Raphael last Friday night.
PAWTUCKET â€“ It doesn't matter who you talk to â€“ Tolman High head coach Dave Caito or Shea High mentor Dino Campopiano.
The dear friends and former backfield mates at Johnston High had hoped to muster solid campaigns in their respective leagues, for the Tigers the top tier and the Raiders Division II-B; both, however, suffered from different issues en route.