Anne Delaney

Monday, December 29, 2008

Delaney: No plans for Section III girls basketball team to experiment with two halves

There are no plans at this point for Section III girls basketball teams to follow the boys experiment of playing two 16-minute halves instead of four eight-minute quarters. Several Utica-area boys teams have experimented with the 16-minute halves this season and the reviews are positive, according to a notebook in Monday's paper written by colleague Ron Moshier.

Mohawk girls basketball coach Linda Ptak would not be in favor of the girls playing two halves, even though the format would speed up the games.

"It's harder than you think," said Ptak, whose team improved to 6-1 after a Monday win over New York in the first round of the Oriskany Holiday Tournament. "Two 16-minute halves is too big of a change. It's hard to play and not get a break. It's a different mindset."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Delaney: Reunited with college football pal

The meaning of Christmas has changed for me. I'm closer to a mid-life crisis now than leaving cookies for Santa. Getting presents is great, giving is a little better so I guess I've come a long way from the greedy child I once was.

This year, it became clear to me a few hours can be a present especially when you don't know how many more there will be. I was reminded of this on Christmas Eve. On a traditionally quiet day in sports, the college football bowl game between Hawaii and Notre Dame had meaning for my dad and me.

My father and Notre Dame football is the reason I'm a sports fan. I started watching Notre Dame games with my father when I was about five. I'm the youngest of two and there are 15 years between me and my sister. She went to St. Mary's College in South Bend, Ind., when I was three. She transferred to Notre Dame when the school admitted women and my family has followed the Fighting Irish ever since. Not so much my sister, who was pre-med, studied hard, and knew little of Touchdown Jesus.

Dad knew, and taught me much of what I know about football while we watched Notre Dame games. He must've explained a holding penalty a thousand times before I understood. I have a fuzzy memory of watching dad watch a USC-Notre Dame game in the 1970s when the evil Trojans and the late Ricky Bell ran all over the Irish. Dad was scowling, growling and mumbling at the television, leaning forward in his chair and biting on the pinky finger of his right hand. Mom and I wouldn't go near him.

After I moved out, I used to call home multiple times during Notre Dame games. Dad never said much while I rambled on about a coach's call, a touchdown, a bad sequence of events. Before Wednesday night I can't tell you the last time I watched a Notre Dame game with my father, now 87 and in poor health.

He sat in his chair on Christmas Eve, not the same one from the 70s, but it's in the same place and quietly booed the Irish. He was disappointed in their season, he thought Charlie Weis should've been fired and he wanted to get me riled up. It worked. Each time Notre Dame scored or made a play, I clapped and sang the fight song. "Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame....." After a long completion by Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, I asked: "What do you think of that, Lombardi?" He got the last word. Without hesitation, dad replied: "What the hell is going on out there?," quoting coach from an often-played video clip while on the sidelines with the Green Bay Packers.

Though still quick-witted and fiesty, dad, like me, isn't the same as he was 30 years ago. Age has taken its toll the last couple of years, and he's dependent upon oxygen and tethered to tubes. Sports has always been a part of his life. He grew up playing hockey on ponds outside of Boston and continued the game in high school and briefly in college. Golf consumed much of his adult life when he wasn't working, and he played up to four or five times a week at his peak. Dad's sports now come from television, which he's able to see despite poor eyesight on a wide screen tv my sister's family game him last Christmas.

Notre Dame snapped a nine-game bowl losing streak with a 49-21 win over Hawaii. Dad and I heckled each other until he went to bed midway through the fourth quarter at which time he was still sneering and whining when the second-team Irish defense gave up yards. It was good watching with you again, Willie. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Delaney: Challenging season for competitive coach

Meg Cullinan has coached girls basketball a long time and has a lot of wins.

In her 25th season and through 406 victories, Cullinan has seen it all - good teams and bad teams. This year's West Canada Valley team is special. The athletes are the youngest and most inexperienced group Cullinan has ever had. And it's a challenge for a coach, who is more competitive than the athletes, to guide a team through what will be a long season. West Canada Valley has won once in nine games.

"You really have to look past the wins and losses," Cullinan said. "The kids are showing up everyday, they're working hard. It's going to take time."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Delaney: New Hartford girls at it again

The New Hartford girls scored another upset Monday night.

The Spartans, behind a 15-point fourth quarter, defeated Clinton 39-34 in a Tri Valley League game. New Hartford defeated Camden, minus Ashley Roser for most of the second half, earlier this month.

Clinton (6-2) was playing another game without senior point guard Allie Donovan who is out until after the holiday with a sprained ankle. Donovan is a terrific athlete and is really the Warriors' catalyst. This doesn't take away from New Hartford's win. Stephanie Furgal hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and Ali Tizzano scored scored five of her seven points from the line in the quarter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Delaney: Hamilton on the move in Class D

The Hamilton Central girls basketball team defeated West Canada Valley, 52-19 on Saturday in a CSC III game. There is more to the lopsided league win for the Emerald Knights, who remain undefeated. With Rome Catholic and New York Mills having lost most of its points to graduation, Hamilton looks to be a Section III Class D title contender. Richfield Springs, last year's Class D runner up, was upset at New York Mills earlier in the week. The win was the Marauders' first big AS victory (after Szkotak). Hamilton has yet to face New York Mills and Rome Catholic, which beat West Canada by six, but so far first-year coach Jessica Poole likes what she sees.

"We've started off great," said Poole, a 2001 Whitesboro graduate. "We haven't played our toughest competition yet, but the games we've played, we've played excellent as team. I thought we'd be successful."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Delaney: College Cup different pace

The highlight of my day off Sunday was watching the College Cup Soccer championship between Maryland and North Carolina. Maryland scored a second-half goal to win its second NCAA championship in four years.

What struck me about the game was the pace, and it took me a while to get used to it even watching on television. There was constant high-speed motion and the players were so skilled. When the ball was played in the air, the players quickly regained control.

The college game was also more physical. One of my nephews played three years at Colgate and he said the difference in the physical game from high school to college was a big adjustment for most first-year players. A guy can have great conrol on the ball, but he can't do anything if he's getting knocked around.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Delaney: Slator played until the end

Molly Slator worked hard at sports and she worked hard at beating cancer.

On Saturday morning, the 16-year-old Stockbridge Valley junior died from a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that affects soft tissue. Slator played soccer, basketball and softball.

"She was about to break out in all three," said Stockbridge varsity softball coach Chris Peto, whose known Slator since she was a freshman. "Softball was her strongest, but she was an excellent soccer goalie."

Peto, a third-grade teacher in the Stockbridge district, said Slator worked at being a better athlete. She approached her illness the same way. Slator was diagnosed with cancer during the summer and went to school well into the fall, against the advice of her doctors. She was determined to go to Denny's for dinner with her family and Peto a few days before her death.

"She never gave up," the coach said. "She fought and when she had tough choices in front of her, she made the choice with the possibility to get better."

Slator is survived by her parents, Dan and Mary, and two brothers, Dan and John.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Delaney: Vote for Colt

If I had a Heisman Trophy vote, I would go with Texas QB Colt McCoy. No question. McCoy has the best numbers among the three finalists. He's been the best player over the whole season, though if this was an award given for a portion of the season it would be Tebow's again. McCoy also has the advantage of having defeated finalist Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford head-to-head.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Delaney: All that money can buy

The Yankees are at it again, and this time it looks as if Hank Steinbrenner and co. spent wisely.

Star free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia signed a contract this week with New York, making the 28-year-old lefty the team's latest money down purchase toward a World Series. The Yankees are a team that can pay for any player they want and the team's status as the game's primary Superpower is ruining the competitive balance of baseball. Not even Boston, the Mets, Dodgers or Angels - all big markets - can shell out the money the Yankees do on a regular basis.

Maybe I should've enjoyed the 2008 postseason more than I did. Because in the future, how often are small-market teams such as Tampa and Milwaukee going to get in?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Delaney: Big win for New Hartford girls

Mike Callan has won a lot of games in 11 years as the girls basketball coach at New Hartford.

The Spartans' win on Tuesday night against Camden might rank right up there with the best. New Hartford (2-1) is a young team. Camden is expected to contend for the Tri Valley League title and had to have been favored on the road.

Trailing by four at halftime, New Hartford outscored Camden 41-29 in the second half, 28-11 in the fourth quarter, to get an unexpected home win. Camden was playing its second game in two nights and without leading scorer Ashley Roser for most of second half. The junior swingman injured her knee and is out for the foreseeable future.

Alexandra Kennedy scored 10 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter and Ali Tizzano scored all of her 12 points in the fourth. Megan Misiaszek led New Hartford with 18 points.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Delaney: Collings is what sports is all about

After three knee surgeries in five years, Isaac Collings couldn't quit.

The 23-year-old knew if he went back to the Syracuse University men's team this fall, he wouldn't be the player he was coming out of high school. But he wanted to know what he could do and he was willing to challenge himself to find out.

Collings didn't get as much playing time as he used to, and he only made one start, but his effort to get back on the field is what sports is all about. Collings tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee twice and the ACL in his right knee once while he was at SU.

A young man who made 40 starts when he was healthy, spent most of the 2008 season coming off of the bench and had two points on two assists. He was playing his best soccer at the end of the season and was a big part of the Orange's come-from-behind win over Louisville in their final match. Now, a professional career might be an option for a player who thought he might never play again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Delaney: Kramer at home on the sidelines

Former Oneida girls basketball star guard Katie Kramer is a coach at her alma mater.
After playing college ball at University of Maryland-Baltimore County and LeMoyne, Kramer returned to Oneida as a teacher and coach. Kramer is a third grade teacher at Durhamville Elementary in the Oneida district and she's coaching the Indians junior varsity and helping Rik Ano with the varsity.

"They're the same," Kramer said of her work. "Coaching is teaching and teaching is coaching."

Kramer, who graduated from LeMoyne in 2006, always wanted to coach. She was raised in a family of athletes, with four brothers, two of whom are also in coaching. Kramer helped Oneida win a lot of games as a player, including a Section III title in 2001 and she'd like to be a part of another successful run as a coach.

"That's the ultimate goal, definitely," she said. "That's why you play and that's why you coach, to do well."