Anne Delaney

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Delaney: Don't forget Canastota

Later this week, we'll have a feature story in the paper on Dolgeville volleyball player Marissa Mowers.

Mowers, a junior outside hitter, is a terrific athlete from what I've seen and she's carrying on the Blue Devils tradition with a young group around her.

At the time I started reporting on Mowers, Dolgeville was undefeated. The Blue Devils have since lost two matches, which is OK. The Canastota girls remain undefeated and the Raiders shouldn't be forgotten. Canastota clinched the Center State Conference Division II title Friday with a 3-0 win over Sauquoit Valley to move to 17-0.

"Hopefully, we serve consistently and have decent passing and keep the ball alive," Canastota coach Marcia Laidlaw said.

The undefeated record is a surprise to Laidlaw, who had to replace three of her six starters from last season. Players brought up from the junior varsity team quickly adjusted to the varsity game, and without a star in the lineup the Raiders have blended together quite well.

The team's balance is what distinguishes this year's Raiders, said Laidlaw who is in the second year of her second stint at the school. Laidlaw coached at Canastota for 30 years startng in the early 1970s and took three years off before returning last season.

The Raiders have a tough road to hoe to stay undefeated. Matches at Mount Markham and Adirondack are included on the remaining schedule, and Laidlaw's goals are modest for next month's Section III Class B tournament, which she describes as "loaded" with good teams: Marcellus, Cazenovia, Mount Markham, Skaneateles and Adirondack among them.

"Maintain. Maintain," Laidlaw said. "Maintain attitude. Maintain work ethic."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Delaney: Not all teams are down

As we move into late January two area girls basketball teams are undefeated and there are a couple of other good teams with a handful of losses.

Canastota and Hamilton remain unbeaten and both the Raiders and Emerald Knights are state ranked. Canastota (14-0), which pulled out a close win over Adirondack Saturday, is No. 17 in Class B. Hamilton, also 14-0, is No. 3 in Class D.

The Raiders and Emerald Knights' undefeated records are a surprise because this year is a down season for Utica area teams, especially in the Center State Conference. Canastota is in CSC II and Hamilton plays in CSC III.

I have not seen Canastota play this season, I'm working on it, but I saw Hamilton Thursday night at Rome Catholic. Rome Catholic played physical against Hamilton and gave the Emerald Knights all they could handle well into the fourth quarter. Rome Catholic's strategy worked because they had plenty of post players to throw at Hamilton, and because Emerald Knights guard Jess Brawn sat out much of the second half with foul trouble. Brawn's absence put a lot on the shoulders of forward/center Kylie Martin, but the senior scored nine of her 20 points in the fourth quarter to keep Hamilton undefeated.

"I really wanted to work low and power up and draw some fouls because that's what we needed," said Martin, who was dripping with sweat after the win.

New Hartford also played a physical game against a bigger Whitesboro team in a Tri Valley League game Friday. Whitesboro outscored New Hartford 17-0 during a 10:30 stretch of the second half to remain undefeated in the TVL. The Warriors, who have depth in the post, did a quick turnaround and beat TVL foe Camden Saturday afternoon to move to 11-0 in the league.

Whitesboro coach Patrick Reader is a Camden graduate and he used a lineup that might be something to watch during the postseason. Reader played 6-foot senior forward-center Betsy Gadziala at the point and went to a big lineup against the Blue Devils. Gadizala, who signed to play at Division I Monmouth University in November, is athletic and can handle the ball. Giving Gadziala the ball gives Whitesboro options. For one, it makes Gadziala harder to defend and if 5-11 sophomore Francesca Cotrupe and 5-10 sophomore Sonya Zielinski play well the Warriors are a much deeper team.

Thoughts on other teams:
Thomas R. Proctor - Raiders have arguably the area's best player in sophomore guard Bri Kiesel and have won 7 of 8 after a nonleague win against Notre Dame Saturday. The Raiders are playing well at the right time and need to get production from post players in support of Kiesel, a Division I prospect.

Mohawk - Class C Mohicans are not ranked in the state, despite a win this week over CSC I rival Little Falls, which is No. 5. Mohawk are athletic and have players with good basketball sense but the team seems to be streaky.

Clinton - Class B Warriors are ranked 16th in the state and are playing better since return of athletic senior guard Allie Donovan. I saw Clinton in an early season win over Waterville and my attempts to watch them again have been thwarted by snow. Donovan was all over the court in the November win against Waterville and she was the reason they won. The Warriors struggled for a time when she went out with an ankle injury before Christmas, but rallied with a convincing victory against then-unbeaten Little Falls at the Little Falls Tournament. Senior Lauren Conway is among TVL scoring leaders.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Delaney: Bleier picks Pittsburgh

Rocky Bleier rooted for the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday's NFC championship game. The Cardinals are full of former Steelers coaches, including Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt who was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator when the team won Super Bowl XL.

Now that the Cardinals have advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history, Bleier's rooting interest in the NFL's Cinderella team is over. The Cardinals will play Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII Feb. 1 in Tampa, Fla.

"Of course I'm going to pick the Steelers," said Bleier, who won four Super Bowl titles in an 11-year career with the Steelers. "Usually in the past, you look at the championship games and those are the most exciting games."

The Feb. 1 game looks to be a good one. The Steelers, a seven-point favorite Monday night, bring the league's No. 1 defense. The Cardinals, led by reinvigorated 37-year-old quarterback Kurt Warner, has the league's No. 4 offense.

"Both teams will be well prepared," Bleier said. "If you look back it's who makes the least amount of mistakes."

I talked to Bleier in advance of his Utica-area appearance on Feb. 5. Bleier will be the keynote speaker for St. Peter's School's sixth annual benefit dinner. The event will be 6 p.m. at Hart's Hill Inn. Tickets are $75 - includes cocktail hour, dinner and presentation. Call St. Peter's at 315-724-4708 for information.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Delaney: Roberts' 34 story of the week

On Jan. 13, Remsen's Rachel Roberts scored a school-record 34 points for the Rams' girls basketball team. Remsen scored 37 points as a team in a 56-37 loss to New York Mills. Roberts, one of two seniors on a young Rams team, also had 17 rebounds while playing the second half with four fouls.

"She played her heart out," Remsen coach Walt Kaczor said. "She's a very unique girl. I have mostly freshman and sophomores and they are learning. She steps up and tries to do her best."

Roberts, a state medalist in the shot put and discus, said she scored most of her points by driving to the basket. Roberts didn't sleep much after the game because plays and missed baskets kept running through her mind.

"I had all this adrenaline rushing all night," Roberts said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Delaney: More insight from Henderson, Rice

National Baseball Hall of Fame officials don't know what team will be represented on Rickey Henderson's cap when the all-time stolen base and runs scored leader is inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. Henderson, 50, played for nine teams in a 25-year career including four stints with his hometown Oakland A's. Henderson was born in Chicago but his family moved to Oakland when he was two.

Henderson and fellow electee Jim Rice both said Monday they haven't given thought to what they will say in their speeches. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be July 26 at the Cark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Rice, known as a man of few words during his 16-year career in Boston, did say his speech won't be long.

"Short and quick," Rice said. "It's going to be short and quick."

Henderson and Rice were on separate conference calls hours after they were notified of their elections. In Henderson's call, he was asked about the chances of former teammate Mark McGwire getting into the Hall of Fame. McGwire, who has been reclusive since an appearance before Congress several years ago in which he refused to discuss whether or not he used performancing enhancing drugs, received 21.9 percent of the vote this year.

"Mark McGwire is probably one of the best person, ballplayers I've ever been around," Henderson said. "He was serious abou the game and played the right way."

Rice, who was on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for the 15th and final time, said he took something from baseball to deal with 14 years of not getting into the Hall of Fame.

"Be patient and wait to the last out," Rice said, chuckling. "I think everything was timing. It was the right time."

Henderson and Rice, the 20 and 21st left fielders elected, are the first from that position since Carl Yastrzemski in 1989. No position has gone longer without electing a new hall of famer.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Delaney: Enigmatic DiMaggio

I'm reading a biography of Joe DiMaggio that is a must for any Yankees fan. Richard Ben Cramer's 2001 book, Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life, gives subtle insight to DiMaggio's character that has me wondering what made the guy tick. Mr. Cramer, I'm sorry I haven't read this until now. Was DiMaggio insecure and overwhelmed by his fame? Was he a prima donna before his time? Three hundred-plus pages into Cramer's book and I'm not sure.