About Me

My photo
I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Xavier Wins Opener In The New Big East

St. John's has been a member of the Big East conference for over 30 years.  It is a high profile basketball program that dominates the marketplace in New York City.

It has sent numerous players to the NBA.  Ron Artest, Chris Mullen and Mark Jackson to name just a few.  Their head coach, Steve Lavin, has experience with high profile programs at the storied Mecca of  college basketball UCLA.

It was Xavier that took a very early lead in the new Big East formed by the private Catholic universities on the East Coast with a 70-60 win at the Cintas Center.

"Give Xavier credit," Lavin said, wearing a silk pin stripe suit.  "They boat-raced us in the second half."

The St. John Red Storm (9-1,0-1) held the Musketeers scoreless for nearly eight minutes in the first half, building a 9-0 lead.  Xavier hung around.

"We wanted to stop their first break," Lavin said.  "Semaj Christon is one of the best in the country at turning the corner and heading down court.  We did that in the first half."

Christon had just four points in the half.

"We wanted to pound the boards," Lavin said.

St. John outrebounded Xavier by seven in the first half.

"We wanted to front and back their big men, (Matt) Stainbrook, who is Billy Paltz reincarnated," Lavin said referencing the big former NBA player, who was known for his size and strength.

It took a while for Stainbrook to get rolling.  He ended up with 10 rebounds and scored nine points.

St. John lead 29-27 at the half.

"It was the tale of two halves," Lavin said.  "What we took away from them in the first half, they did all three in the second half."

Senior Justin Martin sparked Xavier with 15 points.  Twelve of them were in the second half.
He down played the importance of the new conference.

"Not to be a party pooper but we want to win every game," Martin said, matter-of-factly.  "It was nice to win in the Big East but we want to win all the time."

Xavier coach Chris Mack attached a little more importance to getting off to a fast start in the new league.

"It is a big day for Xavier," Mack said, while giving insight into the personality of his senior player.
"J Mart is a fourth year player.  He's seen it all.  I think he's one of the best poker players on the court.  I'd like to see more emotion from him.  He's playing hard but bringing more enthusiasm is his next step."

Mack wasn't worried about the game opening scoring drought that stretched into the second TV timeout.

"We were playing good defense," Mack said.  "We were getting the ball where we wanted it but we weren't finishing around the basket.  Some of that you credit to St. John's.  They are athletic.  It is hard to finish against them.  The lead the country in blocked shots for a reason."

Xavier opened the second half by scoring 11 unanswered points, opening an 11 point lead in the first five minutes of the half.  Martin scored nine of them.

"We continued to play great defense.  I think St. John's got a little frustrated when they couldn't score," Mack said.

Xavier (11-3,1-0) extended its winning streak to six games.  They shot 56.5% from the floor in the second half.  It was the highest percentage the St. John's has allowed in a half.

Isaiah Philmore scored 11 points and had nine rebounds.  Christon finished with 10.

D'Angelo Harrison led all scorers with 21 points.  JaKarr Sampson had 10 for the Red Storm.  Orlando Sanchez led St. John's with eight rebounds.  Chis Obekpa blocked four Xavier shots.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Xavier Bests Wake Forest In Skip Prosser Classic

Skip Prosser was the head coach for both the Xavier Musketeers from 1994-2001, then left Victory Parkway to be the head coach at Wake Forest from 2001-2007.

Prosser died of a heart attack after jogging in 2008.  The two schools honor him by meeting on the basketball court.

Current Xavier coach, Chris Mack, was an assistant for Prosser at both Xavier and Wake Forest.  Mack led Xavier to a 68-53 victory over the Demon Deacons on Saturday.

"Coach told us about Skip during the week," said Matt Stainbrook, who turned in a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds both game highs.

It was Mack's 100th win as a head coach of the 10-3 Musketeers.

"Skip Prosser meant a lot to me.  He said it best, 'players win games.'  I really don't have a career record."

Xavier won its first five games of the season, then lost all three games in the Battle for Antlantis in the Nassau Bahamas.  Xavier rallied to beat Bowling Green, Evansville, Cincinnati and Alabama coming into the game.

"I was concerned about them running on us," Mack said.  "They had a rebounding margin of plus 10 coming into the game.  That presented problems for us."  Wake Forest was ranked eighth in the country with 43.6 rebounds per game

Xavier solved the problems midway through the first half, taking a 42-27 lead at the half by holding Wake Forest scoreless for eight minutes from the 9:30 mark in the half.

"We had a 24-22 lead in the first half, then turned the ball over eight straight times.  You can credit Xavier for that," Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said.

Xavier maintained the margin in the second half which by matching Wake Forest's 26 points.

Xavier turned the tables on the Demon Deacons by outrebounding them 50-34, while holding them to a season low for points.

Wake Forest's four-game winning streak was snapped, leaving them with a 10-3 record for the season.  The teams have evenly split the four Skip Prosser Classics.

Xavier opens its first Big East season on noon New Year's ever by hosting St. Johns.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Xavier Squeaks Past Historic Rival

The Xavier Musketeers rallied to beat an old rival but a young team 63-60.

The Evansville Purple Aces from Xavier's past in the Midwest Collegiate Conference, appeared to run away with the game, building a 13-point lead in the second half before Xavier 7-3, rallied.

Semaj Christon scored three of his game-high 19 points on a conventional three-point play to cut the deficit to 10.  He followed with a layup and Miles Davis hit a 3-point shot to cut it to six.

It was the Xavier defense that allowed the Musketeers to rally.

"They (Xavier) amped up their defense," Evansville coach Marty Simmons said.  "We made mistakes but I don't fault our players on the way they played.  They played hard for 40 minutes."

Evansville (6-4) has no seniors and a freshman point guard in Duane G4ibson from Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph.  Though not as famous as fellow alumnus LeBron James, Gibson has been asked to do a lot for the Purple Aces.  He was hampered by foul trouble.

Evansville's leading scorer is sophomore guard D.J. Ballentine who averaged nearly 25 points a game.

Ballentine scored just two points in the first half but finished with a team-high 15 points.

Matt Stainbrook scored 10 points and gathered 15 rebounds for the Musketeers.

Christon, who struggled from the foul line early this season made 13-of-17 for the game to lead Xavier all the way back.

 "I just stayed aggressive," Christon said. "I try to play downhill and hopefully the refs give me the call. They trust me to make plays."

Christon has concentrated on his free throw shooting coming into the game.

"It’s paying off a little bit. I missed a couple later in the game," Christon said.

The Musketeers were frustrated by Evansville's defense early and needed to adjust.

"They play the way we used to play when I was there," said Xavier coach Chris Mack, who was recruited by Evansville out of St. Xavier High School but later transferred to Xavier.  "They pack the middle and choose the player they want to shoot.  We had some open shots early in the game but hesitated.  I'd like for us not to dig ourselves a hole at the beginning of games."

The Musketeers had to come from behind to beat Bowling Green State in overtime on Saturday.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bearcats Last Game At Nippert Ends In Overtime Loss

Dominique Brown scored from two-yards out to give Louisville a 31-24 win over Cincinnati.  The running back out of Cincinnati's Winton Woods High, capped off a hard fought game in the stadium that will be renovated next season.

Brendon Kay's fourth and 14 pass was incomplete bringing a disappointing end to a game in which Kay played through a lot of pain.

"That’s how tough the kid is," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You can’t say enough about Brendon. We were going to throw a fade on that play, he sees an opening and tucks it in and takes a huge lick in the end zone for the touchdown. I’m proud he was my quarterback for the last nine games."

Tuberville couldn't be too disappointed by his team's effort overall.

"You couldn’t have asked for any more out of this team," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You could tell tonight how much we’ve grown up. We got down 10-0, we battled back and took the lead. It showed how this team has matured. Nothing bothers them."

Louisville's coach Charlie Strong felt the same about his team, noting that at times this year, he thought the team was 1-10 rather than 10-1 do to unrealistic expectations placed on them.

"It was great to see this team finish the way they finished. You talk about a team with a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart.  There were high expectations this season.  I couldn't be more proud of this football team.  Just to see us finish the way we did in overtime in the last regular season game.  These seniors were 22-3 in the last 25 games.  It is just a special group," Strong said.

Teddy Bridgewater, the Louisville quarterback finishing his junior year, willed his team back into the game after Cincinnati grabbed second half momentum.

"I told my mom that I wanted to cry but tears of joy," Bridgewater said.  "I'm so proud of this team.  We have a lot of heart.  I'm excited.  Coach tells us all the time to ride the wave.  We rode it. Then Cincinnati rode it for a while, but we knew we would ride it again and we did."

Two key plays forced the wave to run in Louisville's direction.  Bridgewater made them both to keep his team not only in the game but propel them to the win.

On a fourth and 12 with no receivers open he broke the grasp of a Cincinnati tackler to gain the first down that eventually lead to the score.

"I knew I had to do what I could to get the first down," Bridgewater said..  It's a game of inches.  I felt that nothing was open. I fought and fought.  I had to keep the drive going."

Two plays later he eluded more pressure by Cincinnati's defense to throw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Damian Copeland.

"As I was scrambling, I saw Copeland breaking open," Bridgewater said.  "I knew if I could lay it up there for him he would make a play and he did."

Strong has confidence in his star, yet the play looked improbable as it played out.

"The plays Teddy made in that fourth quarter," Strong said.  "I thought he was sacked.  Then he 
breaks free and gets the ball to Damian Copeland.  I thought it was out of the endzone. It was a tough game.  That's what is great about this team.  We have some good players and we know it.  We do what we have to do."

The rivalry is in jeopardy with Louisville switching to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Neither team is happy to see the game for the symbolic "Keg of Nails" end with the conference shift.

"That’s unfortunate. You have to have rivalry games," Tuberville said. "This is one that I think you need to play. But they don’t have the opportunity, nor do we. Maybe in the future. Maybe things will work out for us."

Bridgewater understands the significance.

"It is a great feeling especially knowing this could be the last time these two teams face each other," Bridgewater said.

Louisville improves to 11-1.  Cincinnati is now 9-3.


Louisville - Cincinnati Battle To The End

Teddy Bridgewater escaped a fierce Bearcat pressure on two key plays on 13-play, 86-yard scoring drive.

Bridgewater escaped Nick Temple's attempt at a sack on a fourth and 12 at the Cincinnati 38 with a 14-yard scamper to the Bearcat 24.

Facing a third and eight on the 22, Bridgewater broke from the grasp of two Bearcats to loft a scoring pass to Damian Copeland in the corner of the endzone for an improbable score.  John Wallace made his extra-point kick.  Louisville grabbed the lead back at 17-14.

Cincinnati answered quickly.

Brendon Kay found Mekale McKay with a pass down the middle of the field.  The play went 57 yards to the Louisville 15.  Ralph David Abernathy IV outraced Louisville defenders to the endzone on the next play.  Miliano's kick put Cincinnati back on top 21-17.

Louisville wasn't finished.

Senorise Perry returned the kickoff to the Louisville 40.  Bridgewater completed four passes in between rushes by Dominique Brown.  Louisville had a first and goal at the four.  Brown rushed twice losing a yard. Louisville called a timeout with 2:31 to discuss its third and goal play from the five.

Bridgewater found DeVante Parker in the corner of the endzone.  John Wallace kicked the extra point to give Louisville the lead back with 2:26 to play.

Cincinnati got the ball back on its 24 with 2:18 left and three time outs, needing a field goal to tie.

Kay ran for eight yards.  The Bearcats picked up the first down on a five-yard pass to Anthony McClung.  The next pass was incomplete.  Chris Moore caught a 20-yard pass.  Moore took another pass to the Louisville 13 with 1:09 left.  The Bearcats misfired on two passes to make it third and 10 from the 13 with one minute to play.

After using its first time out, a shovel pass to Abernathy gained four yards to nine.

Miliano kicked a 27-yard field goal with seven seconds left to play to cap a 10-play, 65-yard, game-tying drive.

The kickoff ate the last seven seconds to send the rival game to overtime tied 24-24.

Cincinnati Maintains Momentum Over Louisville

A limping Brendon Ky scored his second touchdown of the night on a two-yard draw to put the Bearcats in the lead over Louisville for the first time tonight.

Kay led the Bearcats on an 87-yard drive in 10 plays over 3:55.  Kay and Ralph David Abernathy worked a shovel pass in the middle of the line to pick up a third and 13, moving the ball from the Cincinnati 26 to the 43.  Kay scrambled to find Anthony McClung for 46 yards.  McClung fumbled at the Louisville nine but recovered it to retain possession at the six.

Tion Green picked up four yards to the two.  Green was stopped for no gain on the next play.  Kay was popped at the goal line for the score but was on the ground awhile as if he lost consciousness.  Kay got up and jogged off on his own power.

Tony Miliano's kick gave Cincinnati a 14-10 lead.

Louisville moved from their own 22 to the Bearcats 39.  On a third and four pass attempt by Teddy Bridgewater, Howard Wilder knocked down a pass intended for Eli Rogers.  Louisville's Chris Acosta was penalized for a face mask on the play moving the Cardinals out of field goal range to their own 46.  Silverberry Mouhon sacked Bridgewater for a four-yard loss to force a punt.

Cincinnati couldn't move the ball but set the Cardinals back to its own 14 with John Lloyd's 62-yard punt with 2:25 left in the quarter.

Penalties killed the Cardinals drive.  An ineligible receiver downfield on a successful first down pass and a delay of game put Louisville in a a third and 13 at their own 34.  Wilder nearly intercepted the third down pass with a clear field ahead, but knocked it down.

Cincinnati got the ball with 28 seconds left on its own 25.

Cincinnati 14 Louisville 10

Cincinnati Tightens Game At Halftime

Louisville's offense came alive in the second quarter.

Michael Harris returned John Lloyd's punt 18 yards, givingTeddy Bridgewater and his Cardinal offense possession at their own 45-yard line.

Bridgewater led Louisville to the Cincinnati five, but was sacked by Nick Temple and Brad Harrah at the 14.  John Wallace kicked a 31-yard field goal to give Louisville a 10-0 lead.

The Bearcats fought back.

Brendon Kay converted a third and five from his own 35 with a 14-yard pass to Anthony McClung.  Cincinnati got the benefit of a pass interference call on Calvin Pryor to advance to the Louisville 30.  Tion Green burst through the middle of the Louisville line for 19 yards and appeared to score but he was ruled down at the one-yard line.  Kay's sneak gained nothing on the first attempt. The second attempt was short of the goal line too.  On his third try, Kay bobbled the snap but regained control and crossed the goal line on a play that survived a review.  The run capped the Bearcats, 11-play, 70-yard drive.  Tony Milliano's kick was good.

Kay appeared to be injured on the play.

Howard Wilder intercepted Bridgewater's pass at the Cincinnati 39 with 16 seconds left.

Jordan Luallen ran to the Louisville 47 on the first play.  His pass was short on the next play.  Cincinnati elected to let the clock expire.

Cincinnati ran for 89 yards and threw for 94, while Louisville managed 64 yards rushing and 86 passing for the half

Louisville 10 Cincinnati 7

Louisville Interceptions Lead To Lead Over Cincinnati After One Quarter

Cincinnati took the kickoff and ran two plays before Brendon Kay threw a pass that was intercepted by Charles Gaines at the Louisville 40-yard line.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater connected with DeVante Parker on a 36-yard touchdown pass for a touchdown.  John Wallace kicked the extra point.  The drive covered 60 yards in four plays, using 1:47.

Cincinnati drove 53 yards to the Louisville 25, but Kay threw his second interception of the quarter afte completing six straight passes.  Hakeem Smith picked off the forced throw.

The Bearcat defense forced a punt.

Cincinnati ended the quarter on the Louisville 31-yard line.

The Bearcats had 107 yards of offense to Louisville's 83.

Louisville 7 Cincinnati 0

Endangered Rivalry Capped By Big Game

If the Cincinnati - Louisville football rivalry is diminished because of NCAA conference musical chairs, the Bearcats and Cardinals can savor this night.

Louisville 10-1, traveled in the cold, wet rain to Nippert Stadium for one last contest against Cincinnati 9-2, to see who is the top dog in the American Conference as they have in the Big East, Conference USA and Missouri Valley through the years.

Both teams trail Central Florida, but a loss by CFU could create a tie at the top and a chance to play in a BCS Bowl, for whatever that's worth.  Meaningless conference and bowl games aside, this is the 53rd meeting between the rivals separated by 100 miles of I-71.  The big prize is the Keg of Nails, a traveling trophy that is a tradition in the series.
Louisville Set to Kickoff

The first meeting was in 1929 in the five-year old Nippert Stadium.  The Bearcats are 29-22-1 in the series with victories in four of the last five.

The rivalry is in danger. Louisville will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.  If the teams meet at all, it will be in a non-conference or a bowl game.

Louisville is ranked 21st in the Associated Press Poll.  Cincinnati is 29th.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
for proof reading services call