Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Toronto FC: Northern Exposure

June 20th, 2010

Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy head north to BMO Field in Toronto to take on Toronto FC in a bid to further extend their lead in Major League Soccer.

The Galaxy (10-1-2, 32 points) settled for a scoreless draw with Toronto (5-4-2, 17 points) on May 15 at the Home Depot Center.

The match potentially sees Dema Kovalenko's return to the line-up. "It's nice to be back with the team again," Kovalenko said during training. "Any way I can get back and play, I'm just happy to be back.

"Whenever I come back, wherever Bruce uses me, I'm going to fight and compete like I always do. I'm going to try and get my spot, but the guys are doing well and we're winning.

"I just have to wait for my chance and I understand that. If I have to come off the bench and help the guys, that's fine, too. I don't like it, and Bruce knows that. I've missed a long time, and however they use me, I'll accept it. It's not a problem."

It seems very likely that not a lot of changes will need to be made to a side that currently holds the best record in MLS.

Toronto FC's Dwayne De Rosario leads Toronto FC with eight goals and three assists in 10 appearances but was held scoreless in their May meeting with the Galaxy.

Defender Nana Attakora is an imposing presence on the back line and will be a key player to watch. On the attack, Chad Barrett is dangerous, with four goals to his credit so far this season.

Stefan Frei had made 45 saves so far for TFC and has a 1.27 goals against average. His counterpart, Donovan Ricketts, has made 33 saves with a 0.33 GAA.

The Galaxy scoring attack is a little bit more diversified. Jovan Kirovski has scored three this campaign and Tristan Bowen two. Eight other players have scored at least one goal this season for Los Angeles.

Omar Gonzalez will not be in the lineup this week due to a suspension, so expect Sean Franklin to play a more important role for the G's against the Reds at BMO Field.


This match will cap off a slate of 10-11 matches in 43 days. I see the Galaxy starting this match on the right track with a win. They need this, after suffering a hiccup against Real Salt Lake.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Toronto FC 1

Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.


The Summer Gauntlet Begineth

Three days after the Toronto FC match, the Galaxy face either AC St. Louis or the NSC Minnesota Stars of the USSF D2 Pro League in the U.S. Open Cup Third Round. On July 4, the Galaxy will face off against the Seattle Sounders, followed by an Open Cup quarterfinal on July 6 or 7 if they advance.

It's then back to league action on July 10 against New England, July 18 against DC United and July 22 against San Jose, followed by a July 27 home tie with the Puerto Rico Islanders at the Home Depot Center during the CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round.

For the month of August, there is a home contest with Chicago on Aug. 1, the away leg with the Islanders on Aug. 4, and the friendly with UEFA Champions League winners Inter Milan on Aug. 7.

Simply put...this is why you play the games.

A break for "Me Mum" and the Big Cat from Montego Bay

Midfielder Chris Birchall and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts took advantage of the break to watch a little bit of the World Cup with friends and family back in Stafford, England and Montego Bay, Jamaica, respectively.

"I did a bit of work back home, so I didn't have the entire break off," Birchall clarified. "It was tough today, but it's always tough the first day back. You're trying to get your legs back from a long flight. I'm refreshed and thankful for the break.”

"For me, a break is always good," Ricketts said with a grin. "The middle, start, the end...I don't care. I'm always happy for a break."

And these two will need all the break time they can get. Once the summer gauntlet starts, rest will become a luxury, rather than a commodity.

Youth Academy Update

After an unimpressive outing against Chivas USA to begin their Super-20 League Campaign, the LA Galaxy Youth Academy Under-20's rebounded for three straight victories.

On Friday, June 11, the Galaxy trounced SUSA-Everton 3-0 before annihilating the Lancaster Rattlers 6-0 on Saturday, June 12. The latter came a day before the Rattlers' humiliating 15-0 annihilation by Chivas USA.

On Saturday, June 19, the Galaxy continued their run with a match over the Southern California Seahorses. A result of that match will be posted in the next installation of INS AND OUTS.

The Galaxy U-20s will next face the Poway Vaqueros at the Home Depot Center on June 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PT.

The Galaxy Under-18s get to play some more as well, with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs at the Bryan Park Soccer Complex in Browns Summit, North Carolina.

On Saturday, June 26, they take on FC Greater Boston at 12 p.m. ET. On Sunday, June 27, they face the Clearwater Chargers at 5 p.m. ET. And on Tuesday, the Galaxy U-18s clash with FC Dallas's U-18s at 11 a.m. ET.

On Koman Coulibaly's Komeuppance from FIFA

Koman Coulibaly, without a question, took victory away from the USA in their 2-2 draw with Slovenia. If this proved to jeopardize their chances in making the field of 16, he will be their scapegoat.

"If he is found to have made a serious mistake, especially one that affected the outcome, then he would be highly unlikely to play any further part in the tournament," a source is said to have told Yahoo Sports. "FIFA is determined to keep refereeing standards high and does not want high-profile mistakes."

In this case, it backfired. Big time.

“We’re all accustomed to the fact that if it’s an NFL playoff game, and there’s a call in question, there will be a statement by the league from the referees,” US national team manager Bob Bradley said on Saturday regarding the match. “But FIFA operates differently. Soccer is a different game.

“I think there are some aspects of it that are not made 100 percent clear that seems to add to the discussion about the game.

"From our end, we get used to that.”

Coaches With Something To Prove

June 19th, 2010

Roy Williams, North Carolina

I get that repeating in college basketball is hard, especially when you lost someone with arguably the best collegiate career of all time.

However, after two straight Final Four appearances, an NIT bid isn't good enough for the fans in North Carolina.

The Tarheels 2009-2010 campaign was one to forget. A 10-6 conference record is the worst since Williams' first year in 2002.

This type of season shouldn't be happening with the amount of talent they have on the roster. The more I look at it, the more confident I become with their ability to bounce back.


Tim Floyd, UTEP

After all of the sanctions coming about at USC with O.J. Mayo, Floyd is getting a breath of fresh air coming to Texas El Paso.

While he was successful at USC, hoisting an 85-50 record, USC vacated all of its 2007-2008 wins because of his ineligibility.

UTEP took a huge risk hiring him after the Mayo controversy. This season won't be the telling point, but he does have something to prove the next couple years.


Tom Crean, Indiana

After losing every player on the team except Kyle Taber, Indiana head coach, Tom Crean, knew he was in for a tough ride. Former Coach, Kelvin Sampson's actions turned the once proud program into a mediocre one. However, Crean took the job, expecting he can turn this team around.

And now, two years into his tenure, Crean posts a 16-46 record which is the worst record over two years in Indiana University history.

While IU fans are giving him some room, he needs to get them back to the top half of the Big Ten.

Jim Calhoun, UCONN

While he wasn't there for part of the season, an 18-16 record is definitely not good enough for Connecticut.

Also, this offseason he admitted to NCAA violations.

This upcoming season is a big one for the Huskies, as they need to bounce back from last season's mediocre performance.

Lord Of the Felt: The Unbelievable Story Of Giovanni Pellegrino

June 18th, 2010

When one speaks of legends in billiards, they draw upon memories of Johnny Archer, Allison Fisher, Nick Varner...But one name that you won't hear them say (at least not yet) is that of Giovanni "Johnny Chubbs" Pellegrino.

I first heard about Johnny Chubbs while shooting pool against other patrons at a bar in Charlotte, N.C., with some friends. Although I had only the eight ball left for me to win the game it would take a three-banked shot into the corner pocket to do so. As I aimed my cue stick I heard one of the local men I was playing say "that's a 'What The' shot!"

Curious as to what he meant by the comment I placed my cue stick at my side and asked him what exactly a 'What The' shot was? He laughed and said "Boy, you ain't never heard of Johnny Chubbs?"

I calmly replied "no" while holding back my frustration towards the comment and the man who made it. "Johnny Chubbs is the greatest player you ain't never seen," the man continued, "and if you ain't seen 'em yet I would suggest you do so, that boy can shoot stick!" Every time Johnny makes an impossible shot everyone yells "What The" and you, my friend, have a "What The" shot.

Needless to say I missed the shot and ultimately lost the game, but I found myself intrigued by the mans suggestion so I took the liberty of going out in search of this Johnny Chubbs guy.

My investigating led me to a small bar in Troutman, N.C., about an hour north of Charlotte where I was told Giovanni Pellegrino played in weekly pool tournament.

Upon entering the bar my eyes were immediately drawn to a large crowd that had assembled around a pool table in the corner. As I approached the crowd I saw a rather large man leaning over the table and about to take a shot. One bank, two banks, seven ball in the side pocket! "What The" the crowd yelled as the man stood up with no expression on his face as if to say "I knew I had that made."

Standing 6' 5" and weighing in at around 350 pounds I knew this was the man I was looking for. I watched him win game after game with amazing quickness...eight ball on the break, three balls at the same time for the win, hip shop, skip name it! Johnny Chubbs was the real deal and I was witness to his legend.

When the tournament concluded I walked over to Mr. Pellegrino and introduced myself. I asked if he had a few minutes to speak with me and tell me a little about how he came to be such a great pool player. He obliged and led me to a table next to the jukebox and asked me to have a seat. Johnny Chubbs and I spoke in length for two hours or so, in which time I learned all about how his local legend came to be.

Born and raised in Manhattan, N.Y., Giovanni was the middle son of Italian immigrants Luigi Antonio Carlo Pellegrino and Lucia Mamia Cucina Pellegrino. After graduating 450th in his high school class Giovanni began working at a local pizzeria where he would rise to the rank of head pizza guy in 1998.

Giovanni later opened a restaurant with his Brother Salvatore "Sausage King" Pellegrino in the suburbs of New Jersey. The restaurant did well and so the Pellegrino's decided to open up a second one under the name Dusals. Then in 2007 the entire Pellegrino family decided to move to North Carolina with the intent of establishing a better life for their children.

In 2008 Giovanni and Sal would open there third restaurant in the town of Troutman, N.C., and simply name it Pellegrino's Trattoria. This placement of their restaurant would forever change the history of the pool world.

In 2009 a small bar opened up next to the Pellegrino Brothers restaurant and in this bar stood two regulation sized pool tables. In his spare time Giovanni would walk over to the bar and play a few games of billiards in an attempt to break up the monotony of his day. "People started to ask me how many years I had been playing for?" said Giovanni. "And when I told them I had just started they didn't believe me. That's when I knew billiards was my calling and I answered that calling by practicing, practicing, practicing!"

Within two months Giovanni had joined the Professional Billiards Association and achieved the rank of level four (level seven being the highest). He read books, entered tournaments, and watched video of his playing. In sx months he had been given the nickname of "Johnny Chubbs" and "The Big Ragu" by the Troutman locals who had seen him play and was deemed unbeatable.

With 16 pool sticks of his own (including a high end breaking stick) Johnny Chubbs is now a full year into his billiards career. He will play anybody at anytime and says his one goal now is to find someone who can beat him.

While every legend has a story, the one of Giovanni "Johnny Chubbs" Pellegrino is still in the works. I would be extremely surprised if I didn't see his name among the all time greats five years from now.

As our conversation was concluding a man walked up to Giovanni and tapped him on his shoulder "Are you the Big Ragu?" the man asked. "Here we go again," Giovanni sighed...

I got up from my seat, shook Johnnies hand, and watched him follow the man over to the nearest open table. He was lining up his break shot as I headed towards the exit of the bar. As I opened the door I heard a CRACK immediately followed by Johnny Chubbs' voice "OOOPS!" I didn't even turn back to see...

"Had the legend beaten himself that day?"

Breaking Down Five-Star Defensive Tackles Since 2002

June 18th, 2010

Every year the emphasis on recruiting five-star players makes headlines and gives football fans a false since of hope and expectations.  From 2002 until 2010, both Scout and Rivals have agreed on 21 five-star prep defensive tackles according to their research and player evaluations.  Scout has been “star happy” since 2002, in praising 43 prep defensive tackles as five-star recruits.  Rivals only handed out 22 five-star ratings to defensive tackles in their annual rankings.

This year a pair of Florida Gators, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, were given the dubious honor. Looking at history, Florida hasn’t had much luck with five-star defensive tackles since 2002. Now it is time to evaluate the recruiting rankings and ask the question: Are five star defensive tackles worth the expectations? 

Players Given Five-Stars from Both Scout and Rivals

2002 : Haloti Ngata (Oregon), Rodrique Wright (Texas)

2003 : Nate Robinson (Rutgers)

2004 : DeMario Pressley (North Carolina State), Frank Okam (Texas)

2005 : DeMarcus Granger (Oklahoma), Callahan Bright (Florida State), Jerrell Powe (Mississippi)

2006: Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma), Al Woods (LSU)

2007 : Marvin Austin (North Carolina), Torrey Davis (Florida)

2008: Marcus Forston (Miami), Omar Hunter (Florida)

2009 : Jacobbi McDaniel (Florida State), Gary Brown (Florida), Sheldon Richardson (Missouri), William Campbell (Michigan), Chris Davenport (LSU)

2010: Sharrif Floyd (Florida), Dominque Easley (Florida)

Most Five-Star Recruits by School: Florida (5), Texas (2), LSU (2), Oklahoma (2), Florida State (2).


Top Five of the Five-Stars (Lived up to the hype)

1. Haloti Ngata

Ngata is the only player on this list become an NFL All-Pro defensive tackle.  In three years with the Ducks, Ngata recorded 151 tackles, 10 sacks, and an impressive seven blocked kicks. Ngata was selected with the 12th pick of the 2006 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

2. Rodrique Wright

When purely looking at statistics, Wright is the class of five-star defensive tackles since 2002. Wright was drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL draft after a solid four-year career at Texas. In his time with the Longhorns, Wright had 227 tackles, 17.5 sacks, and 41 tackles for a loss. He was a member of the 2005 BCS champion Texas team.

3. Marvin Austin

The 2011 senior has recorded 103 tackles and nine sacks in his first three collegiate years. Austin has the potential to move up this list and will be a highly regarded NFL prospect in 2011.

4. Gerald McCoy

The third pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010, McCoy notched an impressive 14 sacks and 77 tackles during his Sooner career. He will move up this list, depending on his professional career.

5. Frank Okam

A fifth round draft pick by the Houston Texans in 2008, Okam paced the Longhorns with 111 tackles and nine sacks during his collegiate career.


Bottom Five of the Five Stars (Should have been one-star)

1. Callahan Bright

Bright committed to the Seminoles in 2005, and never managed to find his way onto the field. His career included jail time, maturation issues, and a short stint at Shaw University, before attempting to sign on as a NFL free agent in 2010.

2. Torrey Davis  

After two seasons at Florida, Davis transferred to Jacksonville State to finish his collegiate career. He recorded 31 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his time with the two schools.

3. Jerrell Powe  

Powe is currently a junior at Ole Miss, after signing with the Rebels in 2005. Eligibility issues has slowed the progression of Powe, but with a steady 2010 season, he could become a high draft pick in 2011.

4. Gary Brown  

After spending time on the scout team in 2009, Brown was dismissed from the Gators in 2010.

5. Nate Robinson  

After two years at Rutgers, Robinson spent his final two years at Akron. Robinson recorded 49 tackles, and three sacks for the Zips.


Different Opinions (Defensive tackles who received one five-star ranking)

1. Glenn Dorsey, LSU

Scout saw more in Dorsey as a prep than Rivals, branding him with five-stars in 2004. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Dorsey with the fifth pick of the 2008 NFL draft. At LSU, Dorsey recorded 15 sacks and 179 tackles.

2. Brian Price, UCLA

Price paced the Bruins with 12 sacks and 92 tackles. The 2009 Pac-10 defensive player of the year was a second round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles.


Five-Star Defensive Tackles Collegiate Statistics (2002-2010)

1. Rodrique Wright, Texas (2002). 227 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 41 tfl

2. Haloti Ngata, Oregon (2002). 151 tackles, 10 sacks, 24.5 tfl

3. Frank Okam, Texas (2004). 111 tackles, nine sacks

4. DeMario Pressley, North Carolina St. (2004). 111 tackles, four sacks

5. Marvin Austin, North Carolina (2007). 103 tackles, nine sacks

6. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma (2006). 77 tackles, 14 sacks

7. DeMarcus Granger, Oklahoma (2005). 75 tackles, three sacks.

8. Al Woods, LSU (2006). 73 tackles, 3.5 sacks, eight tfl

9. Nate Robinson, Rutgers/Akron (2003). 70 tackles, five sacks, 13 tfl

10. Jerrell Powe, Mississippi (2005). 41 tackles, three sacks

11. Torrey Davis, Florida/Jax St  (2007). 31 tackles, 4.5 sacks

12. Jacobbi McDaniel, Florida St. (2009). 25 tackles, one sack

13. Marcus Forston, Miami (2008). 18 tackles, three sacks, 4.5 tfl

14. Omar Hunter, Florida (2008). 15 tackles, No sacks

15. William Campbell, Michigan (2009). No stats

15. Chris Davenport, LSU (2009). No stats

15. Sheldon Richardson, Junior College

15. Gary Brown, dismissed from Florida

15. Callahan Bright, No stats

Pac-10 North Schools Should Use Non-Conference Scheduling For Recruiting

June 18th, 2010

In choosing divisions for their new 12-team league, the Pac-10 had the choice of the more typical "geographic model", which the SEC and Big 12 use, and the "zipper model" that the ACC uses.

While the SEC and Big 12 geographical models have been more successful in terms of marketing and revenue, the ACC's "zipper model" appealed to Pac-10 schools who wanted to be guaranteed games with UCLA and USC for recruiting purposes.

The Pac-10 considered the needs and interests of the Pacific Northwest schools in the Pac-10 and - surprise - chose the option better for marketing and revenue.

Even though the ACC's experience with the "zipper model" has been underwhelming (no one knows which team is in which division or why) is a factor, and the ACC only adopted that model for a bunch of reasons that don't affect the Pac-10 (such as the need to put conference heavyweights FSU and Miami in separate divisions, and also to do their best to preserve vital basketball rivalries).

Further, it is probably good for the Pac-10 to not have to revolve around Southern California the way that the Big 12 revolves around Texas. Finally, as the Pac-10 North schools were more than willing to stick Arizona and Arizona State in a division with the Big 12 schools, they have no basis for squawking now that the shoe is going to be stuck on the other foot.

They still have Cal and Stanford in their conference for recruiting purposes, and receive the benefits of winning a division title without having to outperform the USC machine to do it. Not having to play Texas and Oklahoma every year got Missouri and Kansas State a long way. The Pac-10 North schools should realize the same benefits.

What about recruiting? Well, the Pac-10 North schools should make non-conference games the focus of their recruiting strategy. The Pac-10 has long bragged about how tough their out of conference schedules are.

However, their tough scheduling hasn't been strategic, and they haven't received any benefit from it whatsoever. For instance, how did Oregon State benefit from losing to Penn State and Utah in 2008?

How did Oregon benefit from either losing two in a row to Boise or winning two in a row against Purdue?

How has Washington benefited from their crazy non-conference scheduling (Notre Dame, LSU, BYU, Hawai'i, Oklahoma) the past few years?

This is not to say that the Pac-10 North should join the SEC and Big 10 in buying victories against cupcakes out of conference. What they should do is schedule as many road games in the big recruiting markets as they can, to get TV and media coverage in those states and build a recruiting profile.

Further, instead of a random approach where they are in one state or region one season and a totally different one the next, Pac-10 North schools should pick a state or region to focus on and schedule as many games with schools in those regions as possible.

Am I suggesting that Oregon State and Washington State sign a contract to play 10 consecutive road games against the Texas Longhorns and Florida Gators? Well ... no. You actually want to win as many of these road games as possible. How about SMU and UCF instead? Now you're talking!

The Pac-10 North should regularly play mid-majors in the prime recruiting states and regions like Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The mid-majors will like it because normally they get stuck with 2 road trips for 1 return trip, or 3 road trips for 2 home games. Any major school that offers them home-and-home dates, or 1 home game with no return trip they will gladly accept.

The Pac-10 North schools should use this to their advantage by scheduling a series of road games against several mid-major teams in an area, to work the mid-majors in a particular region to pick up wins and recruits. This will be arduous and expensive, but the new revenue coming in along with the added publicity and recruits from previously untapped areas will pay off in the long run.

Playing road games with no return trip promised helped then-independent Miami and FSU build their programs in the 1970s and 1980s. This system also benefited mid-majors like Utah, Boise State, Louisville and TCU . So, the results for a Pac-10 team ought to be even quicker.

The key is instead of choosing opponents by whoever gives you the best terms financially (which appears to be how Pac-10 schools currently schedule), a Pac-10 North team has to "work" the mid-majors in a certain area to gain recruits over time.

Oregon State, for example, got the Rodgers brothers out of Texas. While I don't recommend trips to TCU, playing at UTEP, SMU, North Texas, Houston and Rice would bring a lot more talent like that to Corvallis.

Washington State and their limited travel budget would be best served playing California mid-majors like San Jose State, Fresno, and San Diego State.

Oregon could target Florida schools like FAU, FIU and the aforementioned UCF. Washington could play MAC schools like Ohio, Toledo, Bowling Green and Akron. Plus there are schools like Southern Miss (Mississippi), Temple (Pennsylvania), Troy (Alabama), the Louisiana schools in the Sun Belt and WAC, and what have you.

The beauty of it is that no one can accuse you of scheduling cupcakes and it does not hurt you in the BCS standings. The reason is that these are all FBS schools. For instance, Florida actually benefited in the BCS standings by playing Troy from the Sun Belt, because Troy went 9-4 and won that conference.

The same is true of the ACC and SEC teams who played 10-3 Middle Tennessee State from the Sun Belt (except for Maryland, who lost to MTSU). Also, who is going to make these "cupcake" accusations? Big 10, Big 12 and SEC schools who play those same programs plus I-AA schools?

So, there is nothing to be lost in terms of respect or the BCS computers by playing the same mid-majors that Texas (Rice, Wyoming and Florida Atlantic in 2010, Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP and UCF in 2009). 

Hopefully the Pac-10 will make this workable by dropping the number of conference games from 9 to 8. In that scenario, in the ideal year a team like Oregon State (picking them at random) would play UTEP and Toledo on the road while hosting Ball State and Houston at home, and get about 8 or 9 good recruits from Texas and Ohio. Going a probable 4-0 in non-conference games against FBS foes is an added incentive.

So is the publicity you would receive in their local media by becoming a mainstay. If you want the TV stations and newspapers in Florida to notice you, play a bunch of road games against UCF, FAU and FIU over a long period of time. They would go from being unaware and apathetic to your existence to selling Washington State or Oregon State paraphernalia in their sporting goods stores.

That's the road map. It is a wonder more athletics departments aren't trying this already, because it helped many independent and formerly lower profile programs build themselves up in the 1980s and 1990s. It is an excellent method for winning games and getting players (especially the 3 and 4 star ones who receive offers from but aren't highly prioritized by the local powerhouses in their areas).

The Pac-10 North needs to step up and try it.

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