Anne Delaney

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Delaney: The envelope, please

And the Academy Award goes to...... Oh, my it's the Salvador National Soccer team.......for best ensemble performance in an international match. The Salvadorans were convincing as an oft-injured unit in home field World Cup qualifying against the Americans.

I mean, I actually thought many of the El Salvador players were really hurt when they went to the turf, one after another, late in the second half Saturday night. El Salvador, what can you say? Moving. Uninhibited. But it wasn't a happy ending. The U.S. scored two late second-half goals to salvage a tie and maintain a points lead in World Cup qualifying.

Perhaps my sarcasm is unfair. The temperature in San Salvador was in the 70s and maybe all of the Salvador players were cramping? Starting goalie Miguel Montes left the game after going down a second time with cramps in his legs, according to a game release on ussoccer.com. These seemingly serious injuries - players rolling on the ground, faces contorted in pain yet reappearing - is an unfortunate part of the game's culture. The behavior disrupts the action and takes away from a physically demanding game.

The U.S. plays Trinidad & Tobago in another qualifying match Wednesday in Nashville.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Delaney: Summitt makes a point

Good for Pat Summitt.

The longtime coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team ran a pratice two days after the two-time defending national champions were upset by Ball State in a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament last weekend. Tennessee never lost in the first two rounds of the tournament and was the first defending champion to lose its opening game.

NCAA rules allow coaches eight hours of work with a team until April 15.

Summitt has 1,005 wins in 35 years. In a post-game sound bite after the Lady Vols' 71-55 loss, Summitt said the defeat was one of the most disappointing of her career.

Summitt was not happy with how her team played against the Cardinals, she had questions about its character and she took steps to correct them. That's a coach's job.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Delaney: Fauvelle says SU is a Final Four team

For sure, the Orange can get to Detroit according to one area basketball coach.

"I think they have a lot left," said Adirondack girls basketball coach Mickey Fauvelle. "If they win Sunday (against Arizona State), they have a good shot to get to the Final Four."

Fauvelle's first statement was in reference to the two overtime games Syracuse played during the Big East Tournament, including a six-OT quarterfinal win over Connecticut.

Fauvelle, who "lives and dies with Syracuse, has been through some draining games himself in the recently completed girls basketball season. Fauvelle, a longtime Adirondack assistant, took over the varsity after Tom Maurer died last summer. The season, which started as one where wins were important to honor Maurer, ended with a better perspective for Fauvelle and his nine players.

"It wasn't about wins and losses," Fauvelle said. "We all looked forward to going to games and to practice and spending time with each other. At the end of the day, losing a game was not the worst thing that can happen."

How will Fauvelle feel if Arizona State wins Sunday?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Delaney: Girls basketball nearing an end

We're coming to the end of a long girls high school basketball season. The state Final Four will be this weekend at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. Utica-area teams were eliminated from the postseason two weeks ago during the Section III finals at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Now, all that is left is the All Mohawk Valley team which will be out in Sunday's paper. For those who have been following the girls game this season, there likely won't be any surprises.

A few weeks ago, we wrote that the Utica Board of Officials was getting into a Cancer vs. Officials fundraiser for the first time. The officials were using whistles of different colors, pink for girls and white for boys, to increase awareness on need for cancer prevention. The girls board had a goal of $1,000 and raised $1,470.

"Given the economy, that's not bad," said board president Bob Lewis.

Forty-two of the 73 women's refs donated from $10 to $100 for the highest donation. The board money, from $10 up to $100 for the highest donation. The board is going to aim for $1,500-2,000 next year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Delaney: Coming Sunday, All Mohawk Valley girls basketball

The All Mohawk Valley girls basketball team for 2008-2009 will be in the Observer-Dispatch Sunday (March 22). Eleven players, including the player of the year and a coach of the year, will be featured in brief write-ups. We'll also have team statistics, standings and league all-stars.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Delaney: Three No. 1s?

Three No. 1 seeds from the Big East? I'm not sure that is necessary, but who do you cut?

Pitt or UConn. Louisville snuck by me - not a hard thing to do - as regular season champion. With the tournament title, the Cardinals deserve a top seed. Pitt and UConn were talk of the conference all year, but without a title something has to give.

Memphis should be a 1. Duke isn't a 2. Syracuse isn't a 3 and Xavier isn't a 4. Penn State and Niagara should be in.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Delaney: Utica 0-for-4 at home site finals

The quality of the venue notwithstanding, it was a long day at the Utica Memorial Auditorium Saturday for Utica-area girls basketball teams.

The schools near the host city went 0-for-4 with area teams Little Falls, Hamilton, Clinton and Whitesboro losing in a daylong marathon schedule of games. The best game of the day was the nightcap where it came down to the wire between Class A top seed Whitesboro and No. 3 Mexico. The Tigers outscored the Warriors 8-3 over the final 3:34 to win its first title, 42-39.

Bishop Grimes defeated Little Falls for the Class C title in the first game of my day. The Cobras' approach was much different from Wednesday when they defeated Mohawk to advance to the overall Class C final. The Cobras didn't rely on the 3-pointer Saturday, the way they did in the Class C-2 final win over Mohawk. Bishop Grimes made just two 3-pointers against Little Falls, as opposed to the school-record 12 the Cobras hit against Mohawk. Bishop Grimes' ball movement was just as crisp against Little Falls, but the Cobras weren't always looking for long-range payoff in the form of a 3-pointer. They took what was there and converted.

"It's happened a lot," Bishop Grimes coach John Cifonelli said. "We hit a lot of 3-pointers early in the season and people played us man-to-man. We're prepared for that."

Class D Hamilton was undefeated and ranked third in the state going into its Saturday afternoon final against second-seeded and defending champion Sackets Harbor. The Patriots came out with the 52-41 win, in part because the Emerald Knights couldn't convert opportunities into points. Sackets Harbor led by as many as 14 points in the second half. The Emerald Knights' pressure got them back in the game, but missed shots kept Hamilton Central from moving on. Sackets Harbor didn't have trouble with missed shots. Patriots reserve Olivia Townsend put up at least a 30-foot 3-pointer at the second-half buzzer to give Sackets a 30-21 lead.

"I thought that we'd be able to pressure them and create turnovers," Hamilton coach Jessica Poole said of the press. "We couldn't convert. We didn't shoot well. Everything they threw up went in."

In Class B, Clinton was overmatched by two very good Cazenovia players. Division I recruit Kiley Evans, who might be one of the best girls basketball players I've seen in Section III, scored 21 points and sophomore forward Ellen Burr scored 16 points, including eight in the third quarter when the Lakers outscored Clinton 22-9.

"(Evans) plays great defense," Clinton coach Tom Trevisani said. "She has a good supporting cast. She has four other players who have stepped up."

Delaney: Utica Aud. great site for girls games

The Utica Memorial Auditorium is a terrific place to watch a basketball game.

I spent all day in the Aud. Saturday covering four Section III girls basketball championship games. I went in for a 1:45 p.m. start between Little Falls and Bishop Grimes, and I didn't emerge until 9 p.m., not long after Mexico defeated Whitesboro in the nightcap thriller.

After several years at other sites around Section III, the girls finals came to the Aud. this year and it worked. The crowds were good, the arena was well lit and there was plenty of room on the sidelines for Section III officials, media and others to watch without anyone tripping over each other.

During the season when I cover games, I sit in the stands. There is something about being court side, watching how fast and hard the athletes are moving and with cheerleaders and a good pep band not far away to add to the championship environment.

The boys Section III finals were held at Manley Field House for the final time this weekend. Maybe next year the boys will join the girls at the Aud? Imagine that scene in Utica, with 10-12 championship games? There will be plenty of room for them.