About Me

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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.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Xavier Sweeps Marquette Trevon Bluiett Joins Elite Club

Trevon Bluiett joined four other Xavier Musketeers with 2,000 career points in a 89-70 drubbing of the Marquette Golden Eagles on the second trip through the Big East.

Bluiett scored exactly the 13 points needed to join a club with Byron Larkin, David West, Romain Sato and Tyrone Hill.

 "It means a lot," Bluiett said.  "When I made that last basket I heard the gym erupt.  I saw my teammates come over to give me high fives, and reality kind of set in.  It was a special moment for me. I always wanted to come to a program where I could have an impact, whatever it was.  To leave my name in Xavier history is special."

The Musketeers closed out 3-point threat Marcus Howard forcing to drive for his game-high 33 points.  Xavier held Marquette (13-7, 4-4) to a season-low six 3-pointers.  By contrast the Golden Eagles made 15 in their four-point loss to Xavier on December 27.

Howard came into the game, making 57 straight free throws.  He missed his first chance of the game.and finished 2-for-4 from the foul line.

Bluiett chalked up a double double by grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds.

The net broke on Xavier's basket during the second half causing a 10-minute delay.

"We presented the net to Trevon," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

Quentin Gooden led the Musketeers with 15 points.  Karem Kanter scored 14.  Freshmen Naji Marshall and Paul Scrugg has 10 apiece.

Howard accounted for nearly half of Marquette's points.  Harry Frolling scored seven points.  Everyone else scored six or fewer.

"We were outclassed in every way," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Xavier, ranked 8th in the nation, never trailed in the game.  The score was tied at 5-5 when Howard made his first shot, a 3-pointer at 17:36.

Xavier led 51-33 at halftime.

In the second half Marquette could get no closer than 15 points.

It was the eighth time in the last 10 meetings that Xavier came out on top of Marquette.  The Golden Eagles swept the season series last year for the two wins.

Xavier will play at St. John's on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

Marquette will host number one Villanova at noon on Sunday.

Xavier Goes For Sweep Of Marquette

The Xavier Musketeers start their second trip around the Big East with a visit from the Marquette Golden Eagles, ne Warriors.

Xavier holds an (18-3, 6-2) record that includes a 91-87 win over the Eagles (13-6, 4-3) on December 27.

Xavier's Trevon Bluiett needs 13 points to join the 2,000 career points club.  He is sixth in the Big East with a 19.1 average.

The Golden Eagles starting five is led by Marcus Howard, who scores at a 21.5 points-per-game clip.  Howard, a 3-point specialist is also a marksman from the foul line.  Howard, a sophomore, is the only NCAA Division I player to be perfect from the foul line, 57 of 57.  Dating back to last season, Howard has connected on 66 straight.  The Marquette record is 68 straight set by Steve Novak in from 2004-2006.  The NCAA Division I record for a season is 73 by Villanova's Steve Buchanan in 2001-02.  The career record is 85 straight by Darnell Archey of Butler from 2001-2003.

Andrew Rowsey averages 20.8 for the Eagles.  He is second to Howard on the team and fourth in the NCAA in free throw shooting.  He was 16-for-16 against UNC-Ashville on February 14, 2014.  He tied a Marquette record by Brian Wardle in 1999 and Dean Meminger in 1970.

Rounding out the starting five are Sam Hauser 15.1, Sacar Anim 5.9 and Matt Heldt 7.5.

Bluiett is backed by J.P Macura at 13.4, Karem Kanter 9.9, Naji Marshall 7.5 and Quentin Gooden 7.4.

The Golden Eagles hold a 49-23 all-time mark over Xavier.  Marquette won both regular season meetings last season.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Xavier Turns The Red Storm Red Faced

The Xavier Musketeers, a new power in the Big East face a Big East charter member in St. John's at the Cintas Center.

The Red Storm (formerly Redmen) are coached by one of their great players from the 80's Chris Mullin, who led St. John's to a Final Four appearance in 1985.  Mullin then completed a 167-year NBA playing career with the Golden State Warriors and the Indiana Pacers.  He worked in the front office for the Sacramento Kings.

It is Mullin's third season as coach at St. John's and he is trying to rebuild a program.  His record is dismal 33-52 after the 88-82 loss to the Musketeers (17-3, 5-2).

St. Johns was 0-6 in the conference after a loss seven point loss to number 1 Villanova.

"We're trying to steal a win any where in the conference," Mullin said.  "I told my guys to be aggressive and not worry about mistakes."

That method nearly worked.

After trailing 42-32 at halftime, the Redman was perfect shooting from the floor in the first 11 shots over the first seven minutes of the second half.  Xavier, however, made eight of their first 10 shots.

The Redmen managed to pull even at 59-59 at the 12:19 mark.

St. John stretched the lead to 67-64 with 9:19 mark.

As quickly as the St. John shooters heated up, they got cold just as quickly.

Xavier went on a 15-0 run as St. John's missed six straight field goal attempts.  Shamorie Ponds, who scored 37 points against Villanova, hit a 3-point shot to break the slump.  He ended the night with 18 points.

Xavier got a huge performance from big man, Kerem Kanter who scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, which tied his season high.

"Karem played his best game in a Xavier uniform," Mack said.

Xavier used the 3-pointer in the first half.  It's first eight field goals were from 3-point range.

Justin Simon led St. John with a career-high 28 points, easily eclipsing his previous high of 17.  Marvin Clark II added 15 points to the Redmen's cause.

"It doesn't mean that much to me personally.  Scoring is not my game but I do what they need me to do," Simon said.  "Coach told me to be aggressive and have fun.  He told me not to worry about my mistakes.  I feel I did that."

Trevon Bluiett scored 23 points to lead the Musketeers.  J.P. Macura had 16 and Kaiser Gates added 11.

Mack turned in his 203 win as Xavier's head coach, passing Pete Gillen for whom he played.

"It's humbling. It really is," Mack said.  "When I first became the coach at Xavier, I didn't think about it.  Honestly, I didn't think about it yesterday. You think about the next game."

This game was tougher than most people expected.

"It was a very tough-earned wn," Mack said.  "You always worry about your team looking at the records and thinking it's going to be easier than it is.  I think the older guys knew it was going to be a tough game.  I thought our defense was average but picked up in the last seven minutes."

The win was the fifth straight over St. John's. and gives the Musketeers a 7-3 all-time advantage in the rivalry.  Since joining the Big East Xavier is 7-2 against St. John.

Xavier will take on Seton Hall, which is 5-2 in the conference after losing to Creighton, on Saturday in New Jersey at 2:30 p.m.

St. John will try to win its first conference game at Georgetown Saturday at noon.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Major League Invitation A Giant Step For Colerain/UC Grad Ryan Atkinson

Baseball at its top level can be a numbers game.

An estimated 14 million people play baseball in the United States alone.  There were 34,554 players in NCAA baseball programs alone and many more at the High School level.  Major League teams control 1,200 players on the 40-man roster with only 750 active at any one time during the season.

Ryan Atkinson has earned his way to Major League spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a non-roster invitee.  He will be among 25 pitchers competing for a spot with on the roster.

"We don't have it mapped out yet but he will get some innings in Major League games in the Cactus League," said the Diamondbacks' Vice President of Player Development Mike Bell, who is a Moeller High School grad and the son of former Red Buddy Bell and grandson of former Red Gus Bell.  "There is a good chance that he will start in the minor leagues after spring training but he's in the conversation and has a chance.  That's all you can ask for to be ready when there's a need."

Atkinson is a model of persistence.

The righthanded pitcher was not drafted out of Colerain High School or the University of Cincinnati, where his pitching coach JD Heilmann was a high school teammate of Bell's at Moeller.

'I talked to him about Ryan but that didn't influence our decision to bring him to spring training," Bell said  'He earned it.  He has a good stuff and had a very good year as we moved him through the system last year."

Atkinson left Cincinnati and entered the workforce with a nutrition degree as a personal trainer.  The itch to play baseball returned to him after a year without even picking up a baseball.  He wrote to the Independent Frontier League and was granted a tryout with the Evansville Otters.  Chris Carminucci, the Diamondbacks' scout assigned to the independent leagues was impressed and recommended the Otters sign him.  After 5 2/3 innings with the Otters, the Diamondbacks offered him a contract

Atkinson completed his first full season in professional baseball to earn the invitation to pitch against Major Leaguers in Cactus League games.  The 24-year old started in Low A and advanced two levels to Double A where he finished the season with the Jackson Generals.

Over the three stops, Atkinson made 26 starts and logged 141 2/3 innings.  He had a 9-10 record with a 3.30 ERA. He walked 60 and struck out 167, the most in the Diamondbacks farm system.

The Diamondbacks sent him to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he started six more games, pitched 21 innings with an even 3.00 ERA and a 1-2 record.  He struck out 23 and issued 15 walks.

Mill informed Atkinson with a phone call during one of his personal training sessions.

"I was highly excited," Atkinson said.  "I felt another door had opened for me too prove myself at the highest level.  I am very thankful to the Diamondbacks, for trusting me; believing in me and as always, giving me this opportunity."

It is rare for a player with just one season of professional baseball to be invited to spring training the next year.  It is even unusual for a high draft choice let alone someone signed after a year off.

"It has happened before but it is not normal," Bell said.  'Sometimes a pitcher just grows into it.  Ryan has good stuff.  He's a great kid, very respectful."

Mike Leake made pitched in the Major Leagues for the Reds without a day in the minor leagues. Scott Williamson, who was a ninth round pick of the Reds in 1997, made the Reds'zAA staff in 1999 with similar minor league experience to Atkinson's.

Bell cited Atkinson's "stuff" is very good and worked well at every level.  "Chris Carminucci liked his stuff the first time he saw him."

Many players have good enough stuff to be successful.  Atkinson pitched to Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers during a rehab assignment this summer.  "He has the stuff to be successful on the big leagues," Braun said.  "Those who make it are the ones that can be consistent with their pitches."

That is just what Atkinson wants to work on among other goals in spring training.

"I have the opportunity to learn from who are long term big leaguers," Atkinson said.  "I am going to absorb the knowledge to improve my game and be a big league pitcher.  I look at this as an opportunity to show what kind of player/person I can be on and off the field.  I want to gain quality relationships with players and staff.  That can be as important along with performance, to gain the confidence with your peers."

Atkinson has things he wants to work on skills he needs as a successful pitcher.

"I want to work on all aspects of my game but most importantly staying consistent," Atkinson said. "I don't want to change a lot but I want to be efficient pitching to hitters.  I want to continue to use my strengths."

Realistically, Atkinson will start the season in the minor leagues Bell pointed out but he has a chance to take the place of one of the 20 pitchers on the Diamondbacks 40-man roster if not one of the 12-13 pitchers Arizona will carry on the Major League roster.  Atkinson is one of four non-roster righthanded pitchers in the mix.  They invited one non-roster lefthander.

Atkinson is aware of the odds first hand, having gotten to this point through his own self determination.  He made his own breaks, giving him a chance to be something special.

"I am using this chance to work hard," Atkinson said.  "I can compete within the organization and more importantly, help this team get into the playoffs and continue to be a winning organization."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Xavier Back On Track With Win Over Creighton

It was more important to Chris Mack that the Xavier Musketeers played well in a 92-70 win over the Creighton than to tie his mentor Pete Gillen as the all-time winning coach with 202 wins.

The win abruptly ended a brief two-game slide, including an ugly 89-65 loss at Providence on Wednesday.

"I wouldn't have been upset if we played hard," Mack said after the win over the Bluejays.

Creighton (14-4, 4-2) has a reputation for not turning the ball over and not fouling.  They committed 20 turnovers, five before the 16 minute break in the first half in which they had five turnovers and seven points.

"Xavier was really good today and we weren't,"Creightonn head coach Greg McDermott said.

Xavier lead by three points at that break and outscored the Bluejays 40-27 from that point to lead 50-34 at the half.

Creighton got to within 13 three times with the last being at the 15:11 mark but Xavier kept its foot on the gas.

Trevon Bluiett lead all scorers with 24 points.  Kaiser Gates scored 16 off the bench and Sean O'Mara scored 12.  Karem Kanter in his second start scored 12. J.P. Macura and Naji Marshall added 10 each.

The Musketeers are 12-0 when Bluiett is the leading scorer.

Tyrique Jones, who has started all season, did not play.  A combination of a slight injury and poor performance put him on the bench.

Kanter and Gates had eight rebounds.

Macus Foster and Mitch Ballock led Creighton with 16 points. Ronnie Harrell Jr. scored 13.

Harrell had six rebounds to lead Creighton, who was out rebounded, 39-34.

Xavier will stay home and host St. John's at 8:00 pm Wednesday.

Creighton will host Seton Hall at 7:30 in Omaha.

Xavier Happy To Be Home To Rebound Vs Creighton

The Xavier Musketeers are happy to be home.

They host the Crieighton Bluejays after a huge defeat at the hands of the Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia.  The Musketeers also fell to the Providence Friars on the road.

At (15-3, 3-2) Xavier will try to rebound against Creighton (14-3, 4-1).  Xavier is ranked 10th and the Blujays 25th at game time.

Crighton lost its Big East opener against Seton Hall but have defeated St. John's, Georgetown and Butler since the loss.  The Bluejays have impressive wins over Northwestern and UCLA who were ranked when they played them.  The two non-conference losses are to number 15 Gonzaga and number 22 Baylor, who Xavier defeated on November 28.

Providence ended Xavier's 10-game winning streak but the Musketeers hold a 23935 winning record at the Cintas Center.

Senior Marcus Foster leads Creighton in scoring with a 19 points-per-game average.  He has svored in double figures in 34 of his last 35 games.  Junior Khyri Thomas scores 14.9 PPG.  He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year honor last season.  Sophomore  Martin Krampelj from Slovenia, scores 12.8 PPG.  He has six double doubles in the last 10 games.  Senior Tony Hegner averages 9.6 PPG.  Sophomore Davion Mintz chips in with 6.3 PPG.  He scored a career-high 17 points in a win over Georgetown last Saturday.

The  suddenly struggling Musketeers feature.  Trevon Bluiett with a is averaging 18.9 PPG and has scored over 20 points in 10 games this season.  Tyrique Jones, nine PPG is 15th in the Big East with 5.7 rebounds per game.  He is second in the conference in field goal percentage (67%).  Quentin Gooden is scoring at a 7.9 PPG clip.  He has scored 10 points of more in four of the last five games.  Kaiser Gates has scored in double figures in seven games while building a 8.5 PPG.  J.P. Macura averages 12.6 PPG.  He is fifth in the Big East at 1.6 per game.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Xavier Holds Off Bulldogs Huge Big East Win

The Xavier Musketeers were beaten twice by the Butler Bulldogs last season.

The Musketeers avenged last season with an 86-79 win.

Butler knocked off the number one team in the nation on Saturday in a 101-93 dogfight against the previously undefeated Villanova Wildcats.  For the second game in a row Butler faced a top five opponent is number 5 Xavier in its home at the Cintas Center.

"Tough, tough game, that's what you get in the Big East," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

After Kamar Baldwin scored the first basket, the Musketeers grabbed the lead on a 3-point shot by leading scorer Trevon Bluiett put Xavier (15-1, 3-0) in front to stay.

Xavier had Butler (12-4, 2-1) at a nine-point advantage, settling for an eight-point bulge at halftime.

It was a clean game with both teams taking good care of the basketball.  Butler turned the ball over twice, Xavier just three times.

Butler shaved three points off the Xavier lead early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Paul Jorgenson.  Xavier used a 15-7 run to build its lead to 13 with 13:19 left in the game.  That lead extended to 14 with 9:37 left but the Bulldogs, who erased a 20-point deficit in a double overtime win over Georgetown a week ago, began to battle.

"That's what we expect from teams in this league," Mack said.  "Butler will battle until the clock runs out."

Butler coach LaVall Jordan noted that 79 points should be enough to win.

"We've shown that we have the shooters to score a lot of points but we have to execute on the defensive end," Jordan said.  "This is what you sign up for; to compete with the best in this league."

Xavier didn't have its best free throw shooting night but pulled away by making 13 of 17 over the last two minutes.  Butler had cut the lead to five before sending the Musketeers to the foul line to get back in the game.

Kamar Baldwin led Butler with 28 points.  Senior Kelan Marting produced 25 points.  Jorgenson chipped in 10 points.

Bluiett led Xavier with 21 points, followed closely by J.P Macura's 20 points.  Quentin Goodin had 12 points.  Kaiser Gates scored 11.  Sean O'Mara had 10 big points.

Bluiett passed Lenny Brown into fifth place on XU's alltime scoring list with 1,902 points.

"Sean O'Mara came in and gave us some big baskets around the rim," Mack said.

Tyrique Jones had nine rebounds to lead Xavier.  Sean McDermott had 11 rebounds, including four from the offensive end.

Xavier had 12 offensive rebounds which allowed Xavier to best Butler with a 15-14 advantage on second chance points.

"Butler is so disciplined.  They box out well on defense," Mack said.  "Our team needs a day off."

The Musketeers have now avenged half of its 14 losses from last season in extending its winning streak to 10 games.  The Musketeers hold a 39-20 all time record against the Bulldogs, having shared membership in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, the Atlantic 10 and now the Big East.

Mack got win number 201 and needs one victory to tie Pete Gillen's 202 victories for the most coaching wins in school history.

Xavier will play at Providence on Saturday at noon.  The Musketeers will face Villanova on the road in Philadelphia on Wednesday January 10 at 8:00 pm.

Butler will host Seton Hall on Saturday at 2:30 pm, then travel to Creighton for an 8:30 pm matchup on Monday.