Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Welcome To October!

 I've been a bit lazy getting on here as I've had some things going on but wanted to provide something of an update now that many teams have commenced practice with the arrival of October 1 just a couple of days ago.  But with the environment that we're all living in right now with the COVID-19 pandemic still with a full head of steam, the teams that are currently working out are doing so in a much different fashion than what we're accustomed to in "normal" times.  

For example, one coach that I correspond frequently with told me that while her squad will get going with things on October 1, the first two weeks of October are limited primarily to skill development work; in pods of 11 players or less with all the social distancing and no live play with defense which obviously limits the stuff you can do.  Then (presumbably on 10-15) they can work into live practices.  Another coach I know quite well won't have his team going into practice until October 19th but presumably they'll be able to avoid the limitations that the teams that started on October 1 encountered.  

Of course, the big unknown back in August/September was what this upcoming season would look like.  While I have not yet seen anything specific put forth by the MIAC as of yet, the presumption is that there would be few (if any) non-conference games and as far as the conference slate itself, the general thought is that there might be as many as three games a week just to be able to get as many games in as they can.  The big thing that was unknown back in September was exactly what the NCAA had planned with their winter and spring championships.  According to D3hoops.com, the NCAA announced on September 30 that they had put forth an interim plan that would cap the NCAA Tournament at 75% of their usual size.  In this scenario anyway, instead of 64 teams making the tournament, you would now have only 48 getting and from purely a MIAC perspective, that's definitely not good considering how things have gone the last couple of seasons.  Now, this proposed plan now goes to the Division III Management Council in mid-October.  Should this council approve the proposal (and there's every reason to think that they would), it would then go to the President's Council for formal approval.  Here's the story from D3hoops.com on this matter.... https://www.d3sports.com/notables/2020/09/smaller-brackets-planned-for-winter

Now again, as I've said before, these are not normal times and I think we just have to be patient here to see how everything is going to play out between now and the first of the year.  I hope to God that things will work out so we can at least have a season but you just never know.  Stay tuned....

Monday, August 31, 2020

Breaking News - MIAC To Postpone All Competition Until January 2021

 Earlier today, the MIAC (in a not so surprising release) announced that all competition will be postponed until January 2021 to allow for new safety protocols on member campuses and to allow for testing and treatment developments; following what many DIII conferences nationwide have already done.  You can read the release from the conference from this link https://www.miacathletics.com/general/2020-21/releases/20200831c6vt36

Specifically, on the basketball front, it sounds like the conference will opt for a compressed schedule beginning in January 2021 although there was no specific plan or number of games settled on as of yet.  I'm also unsure as to when practices (which normally begin on October 15) will start either.  Needless to say, these are uncertain and unsettling times but I will provide updates as I find out about them.

Stay safe and healthy every.  And mask-up too.  



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

It's Official - UST Is Going DI

The somewhat (I guess) expected news came out this afternoon when UST issued a press release stating that it had received approval from the NCAA Division I Council to make the historic jump from Division III to Division I beginning with the 2021-22 academic year.  You can read the full press release here:  https://www.tommiesports.com/general/2019-20/releases/NCAA_Announcement

Look, this subject has been broached not only here but on other sites as well.  I'll just say that personally, I feel that it's an incredibly sad day for the MIAC when one of its charter members makes an anticipated departure - because it was forced out by member schools.  You can whine and cry in your beer all you want about how UST has all the unfair advantages and was just too dominant to be a member going forward.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - UST brought the MIAC a lot of pride and prestige - not only in women's basketball but in a lot of other sports as well and like them or hate them, that prestige was beneficial for the conference as a whole.  Now, that's gone and the MIAC will likely never be the conference it once was. 

I wanted to keep this post relatively short and sweet so feel free to fire away with thoughts. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Mid-Summer Update

Didn't want to have to brush too much dust off of this blog so thought it was time to make an entry and try and catch up on things. 

First, undoubtedly the big news broke this last week Thursday that longtime Hopkins Head Coach Brian Cosgriff decided to step down from his position as Head Coach of the highly successful Royals program.  His 21-year career at Hopkins helped put the Royals program on the map and his overall record of 569-67 says a lot about how incredibly successful this program has been.  "Coz" has had a lot of great players come through his program over the years but probably none better than recently graduated senior Paige Bueckers who is UConn-bound.  The Royals lost tough state title games three years in a row (Minnetonka in 2016, Elk River in 2017 and Eastview in 2018) but they set the state ablaze in 2019 by coming from behind and blowing out Stillwater in the state title game to complete an undefeated season and were well on the way to doing a repeat this time around before Covid-19 decided to put a fork in everything.  Perhaps easing the disappointment of not being able to finish things on their own terms, ESPN voted Hopkins the number-one girls basketball program in the country. 

I have to admit that I was caught somewhat off-guard when I heard the news this last Thursday afternoon.  I just wasn't expecting it - at least not now anyway.  There was a part of me that wondered as to why he chose now to pull the pin.  I essentially came down to two possibilities - (1) that the Royals were now in the APB (After Paige Bueckers) era and perhaps he felt it was best to leave on a high note or (2) he simply woke up one morning and just decided he didn't want to do this anymore.  I really don't know for sure.  What I do know is that Minnesota Girl's High School basketball has lost a tremendous coach and leader and his presence on the sidelines will be missed.  "Coz" was always a pleasure to talk to and even in tough times after tough losses he was professional enough to give you a candid explanation as to what happened from his point of view.  The big question now is who does Hopkins get to fill this Head Coaching spot?  If I had to venture a guess right now, I'd think that they'd be more apt to stay within the program....Perhaps Cosgriff already had someone in mind to take the reigns when he decided to step down.  Of course, they could always go outside and bring in someone new but I think that's unlikely given the success the program has had over the years. 

On a somewhat brighter note, I was able to go down to Bloomington Kennedy High School around mid-day today and catch some of the AAU action that was going on there this weekend.  First, it was just simply good to - finally - be able to see some basketball action again.  I was wearing a mask (like almost everyone else), of course, but considering where we were just a few short months ago with this pandemic, it does offer a bit of hope.  I know that there have been other AAU events going on around the country so hopefully things will be able to continue with all the precautions being taken. 

On the MIAC Women's basketball front, I did find out this afternoon the the MIAC Athletic Directors recently voted to go from a 20-game conference season to a full, round-robin 22-game conference season.  I have to confess that I was not happy about this decision by the ADs when I learned about it.  First, I understand that an 18- or a 20-game conference schedule inevitably led to a lot of problems with some schools facing in inordinate amount of upper-tier opponents and consequently reducing the chances of picking up victories against lesser opponents.  I hate to make it sound like that but that was - unfortunately - one of the realities of it.  Now, with a full 22-game conference schedule, everybody plays the same amount of conference games which I suppose is good in some ways.  However, my big sticking point at the same time is that this full slate of conference games now reduces the amount of non-conference games you can play to three.  In my humble estimation, this is a bad deal for the conference as a whole because it reduces the number of opportunities where the top teams can play those regionally-ranked opponents from other conferences that could mean a better chance of getting into the NCAA Tournament when late February/early March rolls around.  It would be one thing if the NCAA simply allowed teams to play more games but this doesn't appear to be happening anytime soon at the DIII level.  The other interesting angle you can look at is that a full 22-game conference schedule may be very beneficial for a school such as Concordia as their opportunities to play non-conference teams is not as big as a school in the metro area such as, say, a Bethel or an Augsburg or a St. Kate's.  Anyway, I'm not liking this too much and would appreciate any thoughts you might have on this matter.

Stay healthy and stay safe. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Big Announcement From The MIAC Today - College Of St. Scholastica To Join The Conference

By now, most have you seen the breaking news from this afternoon that the College of St. Scholastica has accepted the MIAC's invitation to join the conference beginning in the 2021-22 academic year.  As part of the announcement today, it was also revealed that Macalester will be coming back to the MIAC for football after having been a part of the Midwest Conference for the last several seasons in that sport.  For those of you who haven't had a chance to read the MIAC's release, here it is for you.  https://www.miacathletics.com/general/2019-20/releases/20200526avs20a

I had to absorb the news and just from a few of the people I've corresponded with today, the reaction has been mixed, at best.  First, I think you have to look at the viewpoint from the CSS side and what was all in it for them.  Certainly a gateway to a more prestigious conference.  Perhaps potentially bigger revenues were likely a consideration (although their costs could go up as well).  From a MIAC perspective, having a presence in the Twin Ports expands the conference's reach.  More importantly, it'll help fill the void (up to a certain point anyway) left by UST when/if they make the move to Division I (which is something the MIAC may never fully recover from but that's another argument for another day). 

The thing of it is, I can only speak from a women's basketball standpoint.  I've only covered the Saints a few times over the last several years but when you delve into the recent history of the program, you'll see that they haven't exactly set the UMAC on fire in recent years.  In fact, in the last fourteen years, they've only recorded three winning season; the last being a 14-12 record in the 2017-18 season.  And, it's safe to say that they'll find the MIAC a much more difficult row to hoe when they make the move.  Now, in all fairness, the CSS football program has done reasonably well; posting ten straight winning seasons (in fact, going 10-1 in both 2011 and 2014).  How well that all translates against MIAC football powers such as St. John's, Bethel, et al remains to be seen. 

For me, I'm completely fine with the announcement although I'll admit that I thought it would always be Northwestern jumping ship first; not CSS.  Was Northwestern (or perhaps other UMAC schools) extended an invitation?  That I don't know.  Again, I've always advocated schools such as Northwestern (and CSS for that matter) to be ideal candidates to join the conference that would allow it to go into two divisions (which it will now in football with Macalester coming back to roost).  But that idea, too, was congruent with a strong UST being a part of all this.  So while I'm fine with the addition of CSS, it's really like trying to make a burger better with more cheese after you've lost the ground beef, isn't it? 

All kidding aside, let's explore another angle that might need to be explored here.  We've seen what has happened to UST and the domino that was next to fall was CSS' departure from the UMAC.  Is today's announcement, perhaps, the key that unlocked the door to more conference realignment?  Now, I'm not in any way advocating the break-up of any one conference.  But, if CSS was willing to make the move, would it not be possible now for a Northwestern, a Bethany Lutheran, a Martin Luther, a Minnesota-Morris or even a St. Norbert to start exploring their options?  And even the MIAC itself is not invulnerable.  Could an SMU; now being on the southern end of a (now) far-flung MIAC, find a neighboring conference such as the WIAC a more viable option?  I think these are questions that have to be looked at and considered. 

Fire away with thoughts.         

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Weird World That We're Living In Right Now

Thought it was time to dust off the my blog here a bit and put something up since the abrupt end of the Girl's State Tournament back in mid-March.  These are definitely strange times in which we're currently living in and it's difficult to say when - or if - things will really get back to the "normal" that we were used to before all of this Covid-19 thing became the new reality.  For right now anyway, let's just try and see where we're at with everything. 

On the AAU front (which I don't normally follow too much), I have been seeing rumblings on Twitter and elsewhere that we MAY start seeing some semblance of activities sometime this summer.  This all remains to be seen, of course.  A lot depends upon when facilities are willing to open up their doors to proposed events and how teams/coaches/parents/fans are willing to risk things.  That alone is a huge question mark.

No word yet that I'm aware of on the Midtown YWCA Women's College Summer League front.  I'm hopeful that maybe there'll be something done but we just don't know yet.  Will be keeping my eyes and ears peeled and if I hear or see something, I'll definitely let you know. 

Meanwhile, I have been seeing on Twitter the various commitments that graduating HS seniors have made to various DIII schools and that's always a fun thing to see.  I'm also seeing the various videos of both HS and college players doing whatever they can do to keep their games as sharp as possible during this whole affair and that's definitely encouraging.  Also some of the virtual team get-togethers are fun to see as well.  Not long ago, UST had a virtual get together with graduated players Lucia Renikoff, Hannah Spaulding and Kaylie Brazil as they relived that breath-taking overtime win over Amherst in the NCAA Tournament from 2019 which was very cool to see.

As for me, I've been working at home since mid-April which I have to admit I could definitely get used to.  I haven't been able to do a lot on the tennis front but I've been doing the little things I can do throughout all of this.  It's definitely frustrating when you can't do what you normally do; let alone work out and stay in top shape.  I'm sure all of us are hoping that this all comes to a quick and safe end so we can resume our normal activities the way we want.  In the meantime, stay safe and vigilant and we will, God willing, get through this.       

Friday, March 13, 2020

An Incredibly Empty Feeling.... 3-13-20

As I sit at home here on this Friday evening; thinking about how I would normally be at Williams Arena right now covering the Girl's State Tournament, I've been trying all day to get my feelings and emotions into perspective after I found out this morning that the MSHSL, somewhat predicatably, decided to put a fork in the rest of the Girl's Tournament and the Boy's Section finals that were supposed to happen tonight and the subsequent state tournament for them this next week due to the Covid-19 outbreak.  I think after it was announced yesterday that the third place and consolation games had been wiped out and that attendance would be limited to immediate family members only and essential staff and credentialed media (such as myself), I think you could kind of see the almost inevitable end coming but I was still shocked nonetheless and it really made me think about things during the day today as I took most of the time trying to get my blog caught up from yesterday's semifinal games in both Class AAA and Class AAAA.

First, my heart simply breaks in half for the seniors on the teams that had anticipated getting at least three games out of this deal and some were lucky to get two out of it.  It's such an unprecedented way for a season to end and, as badly as I feel about things, consider how these young ladies feel right  now and what they wouldn't give to be able to put that uniform on one more time with pride and ball out and leave it out there on the floor.  Sadly, they won't get to do that now and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  I think it's safe to say that they'll always be asking "What if" for years to come; wondering what might have been had they been able to play that last game.  There's some who have even suggested on social media that maybe these teams should just meet up - unofficially - to settle it in their minds once and for all in some gym and I wouldn't blame them if they did somewhere down the road.  Hell, if they did, I'd gladly go and watch.  😁   

And it's the same story on the college side as well.  The Division III tournament was wiped out not to mention both DI and DII sides and my hearts go out to the seniors to all those teams.  I'm just thankful that the Bethel pod the previous weekend went on as planned without a hitch.  To all these seniors, I simply say "Thank you!"  You will not be forgotten.

While I know the decisions for both the various high school leagues and NCAA/NAIA to undertake, I understand what they did and why they did it.  These are unprecedented times in which we live right now and I believe that this too, shall pass.  For me personally, this even affects me on the tennis side as the USTA has shuttered events/tournaments for the time being and it's hard to tell when things will get back to "normal" again.  I'm just trying to do my part.

In the meantime, stay safe and vigilant everyone.