Brann...it's good for you.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wild and Caps both advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs




Congrats to the Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals, who both advanced in the Stanley Cups finals on Sunday and Monday, respectively.  The Wild defeated the Blues 4-2, and the Caps finished off the Isles in a thrilling Game 7 last night in DC.  Both teams have old rivals awaiting:  The Wild next play the Blackhawks (who have beat them the last two years in the playoffs), and the Caps take on division rival New York Rangers.  

Good luck to both teams - I'm hoping to see both in the Stanley Cup Final Four in a couple weeks.  Neither series will be easy; I'm expecting both to go six or seven games. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Yanks keep rollin'



To be honest, I expected a season of average to below-average play in the Bronx this season.  But, so far, the Yanks are playing good baseball - especially lately.  They won three in a row against the always good Detroit Tigers and have a 7-3 record in their last ten.  The pitching staff has been very good, and the bats are coming around.  At 9-7, they stand tied for first in the evenly-matched AL East.  Tonight, they start a big series with the surging New York Mets.  The Mets have won 11 in a row and bring an impressive 13-3 record into the Subway Series.  

There's a LONG season to go, but this is a good way to start.  GO YANKEES.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Caps even it up in OT thriller

The Washington Capitals had their backs to the wall in Game 4 of their first round series vs. the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, but underrated superstar Nicklas Backstrom came through for the Caps.  Backstrom scored the gamewinner in OT to give the Caps the win and 2-2 tie in the series.  If the Caps had lost this game, it would have been nearly impossible for them to advance to the next round.

The two others studs in their season - Ovechkin and Holtby - also did their jobs as well.  Ovie added a goal and an assist, and Holtby saved 36 shots.  

Keep it up, Caps...this series smells like 7 games, but we'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wild are halfway there



The Minnesota Wild are halfway to advancing to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after beating the St. Louis Blue 3-0 last night in the first game to take place in the series in the State of Hockey.  Kudos to the Wild, but they're not done yet.  Game 4 is Wed. night in St. Paul. 

Father/Daughter Dance



On Friday night, I got to take my daughter to the annual Girl Scouts Father/Daughter dance.  We went out to dinner first, before finishing up at our local school for the event.  I'll take her as long as she's a Scout, which I hope is a very long time. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring soccer begins for Tyler







The Spring season of soccer began yesterday for Tyler and his "White Lightning" teammates.  They opened up the season with a commanding 13-2 victory.  Next week's match against a more veteran team should be a bit tougher.  Tyler had 2 goals and 2 assists in the win.  I'm looking forward to coaching these young boys over the next couple months, too - it should be a fun ride until the season concludes on June 6. 

Caps and Wild gear up for a playoff run




I haven't written about hockey a lot this season, but this family (well, Tyler and I) have been following intently the games of the Washington Capitals and the Minnesota Wild all season.  We're happy both will get a chance to continue their stellar regular seasons with Stanley Cup playoff hockey.  The Caps begin playoff action on Wed. night vs. the New York Islanders; the Wild began playoff action on Thurs. night vs. the St. Louis Blues.  Both teams lost regular season finales on Saturday, but it's a brand-new season starting this week.  

Tyler recently added miniature hockey goalie helmets to his miniature helmets collection (he also has baseball helmets and football helmets), and he's been playing indoor hockey since he got a couple kid-friendly goals, sticks, and "pucks" for Christmas.  Bring on the playoffs.  It should be fun (and a tad bit stressful) to watch some games with the very interested son.


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Tyler's first hockey game(s)






Tyler's been really into sports over the last year, and one of those sports has been NHL hockey.  We were excited about going to his first pro hockey game on March 5, but the last snowstorm of winter 2014-15 prevented us from seeing a Wild/Caps battle.  So, we sold those tickets and bought some to the Devils/Caps game last Thursday, March 26.  

We had a great time, but I think we had an even better time last Sunday at Madison Square Garden.  My sister Susan gave us tickets to the Caps/Rangers game on Sunday afternoon (thanks, Susan!).  We were more alert as opposed to our sleepy eyes for the Thursday night game.  Plus, we got to see favorite player Alex Ovechkin score a couple goals in a 5-2 Caps win. 

 
The Caps are 2-0 when Tyler is in attendance.  I look forward to taking Tyler to many more pro sporting events in the future.  Pro soccer next?

Spring Break trip to NJ/NYC



























Last weekend and into this week, we headed north to NJ to visit my sister's family.  Some of the highlights include a trip to Manhattan, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and my nephew Mikey's first lax game of his senior season (a bummer 13-12 OT loss, but he had a great game with 1 goal and 3 assists).  It's a shame the weather couldn't have been more "Spring-like," but it was still good to get away and see family.  

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"I knew what Mason was, I know what Mason can become"





Almost four years ago, George Mason took a chance on a coach with an impressive resume at the highest level of college hoops - the ACC, a national title game appearance- but, who faltered near the end of his reign at Georgia Tech.  The rumors about Hewitt's faults - great recruiter, average in-game coach - turned out to be sadly true.  When he was let go on March 16, I wasn't sure what direction the school would take to finds it 10th men's basketball coach in school history.

Based on the coaches who came in to interview, it was clear that they wanted a successful coach at the mid-major level to replace Hewitt.  When Russell Turner from UC-Irvine supposedly took the job and then turned it down over the weekend, I was worried that this process was going to drag out for months.  Fortunately, Mason didn't have to look far for a gem in the nearby Patriot League - Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen.  


Paulsen - 2 NCAA berths, 2 NIT berths, and 3 Coach of the Year honors in 7 years at Bucknell - has the pedigree to build a successful program at Mason.  He was introduced officially today in Fairfax.   So far (based on many Twitter and Google searches), this is a guy who is well-respected in the coaching community.  Most basketball pundits say that Mason has made a great hire.

From the Post:



Dave Paulsen’s 21-year head coaching career has been marked by transitional periods: from Division III to Division II, back to Division III, then the big step to Division I seven years ago.
The latest leap came this week, shuttling from the comforts of the Patriot League to the rigors of the Atlantic 10, from the pastoral backdrop of central Pennsylvania to the bustle of the Washington suburbs, from a reliably winning team at Bucknell to a receding program at George Mason.
In Paulsen’s mind, regardless of the level, the basics will prevail.

“Coaching is coaching,” he said Wednesday at a welcoming party at Patriot Center attended by the Green Machine pep band, cheerleaders, university staff and a few dozen fans. “Building a team, it translates. Everywhere you go, the same things win. There is a transition always, but the things that win will win everywhere.”

Without delay, Paulsen will look to implement his fundamentals and rebuild the foundation of a program that will carry back-to-back 20-loss seasons into next year’s 10th anniversary of its Final Four appearance.

Paulsen, 50, agreed to a five-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Athletic Director Brad Edwards said base compensation is comparable to what predecessor Paul Hewitt earned ($650,000). The university must continue paying Hewitt, who had one year left on his deal.

Mason narrowed the three-week national search to Paulsen and UC Irvine’s Russell Turner. Those involved in the process were split, and the initial offer went to Turner, who turned it down Sunday. Paulsen had visited campus last Friday and accepted the position Monday.

“He is so full of energy, you can’t help but like the guy and really love him,” Edwards said. “He just has that sense of charisma, that sense of energy and passion that is attractive to not only athletic directors but fans and student-athletes.

“We promised our student-athletes we would get them better and I clearly felt that is going to be the case. Dave is going to be a fabulous and terrific fit here.”

Paulsen’s path is much like that of Mike Lonergan, who guides A-10 rival George Washington. Both won Division III titles, Lonergan at Catholic in 2001 and Paulsen at Williams two years later. Lonergan excelled in the lower tier of Division I at Vermont and Paulsen at Bucknell before getting a shot with A-10 programs.

Bucknell finished first in the Patriot League four of the past five regular seasons and earned two NCAA tournament berths and two National Invitation Tournament slots. Last month, Paulsen was named the conference’s coach of the year for the third time.

He had been approached before – Northwestern reportedly reached out two years ago – but said he felt the time and destination were right this time.

“When people asked, ‘Would you be interested in Mason?’ I knew what Mason was, I know what Mason can become and I said, ‘Yeah, that is one that I would be kicking myself if I didn’t have initial conversations.’ ”

He faces an enormous challenge at Mason, whose transition to the A-10 from the Colonial Athletic Association has gone poorly. The Patriots were 8-26 over the first two seasons in the higher-caliber circuit and, although most of the current squad is slated to return, no one is expecting immediate results.

“The most important thing is to build a winning culture,” he said. “Once you have established a winning culture, the winning teams follow. . . . Getting over the hump to be a national caliber program, that may take a little more time, but the first step is to identify what the Mason program is about.”

Paulsen’s first mission is to keep the returning group intact and hold onto top recruit Ahmad Gilbert from Philadelphia. Soon, he will visit Gilbert, who was released from his letter-of-intent in order to explore other options.

Several players attended Wednesday’s festivities, including sophomores Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins. Both said they plan to stay at Mason.

“It’s change; change is new. It brings new opportunities, but it will take time,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-7 forward. “I am excited and waiting to see how it goes.”

Welcome to Mason Nation, Coach Paulsen.  I'm rooting for you to succeed, because after the last two miserable seasons, Mason grads/fans deserve a winner.  

GO MASON.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finally, some rumors are heating up...

...it's been a quiet week since Paul Hewitt was given his walking papers by Mason; however, things are starting to heat up as we enter Week 2.  Jay Larranaga rejected the Patriots this weekend, deciding to stay in the pro ranks with the hopes of getting a head coaching gig there.  No loss.  He's never coached at the college level, and we would be trying too hard to connect to an era that's passed.

The GMU Hoops Blog mentioned a couple candidates in a post from last night that I also saw on Twitter last night.  The two he mentions are Steve Prohm of Murray State and LaVelle Moton of N.C. Central.  In addition, I saw a rumor on Twitter about Mason interviewing Albany coach Will Brown, who's taken the Great Danes to five NCAA tournaments.  All of these coaches would get a bump in salary at Mason, and the opportunity to escape one-bid conferences.  Brown is expected to interview at Fordham as well, who fired their coach Tom Pecora last week as well.  

Stay tuned...

GO MASON.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Paul Hewitt: Done.



The inevitable finally happened today for Mason men's basketball coach Paul Hewitt, who was let go by Mason with one year remaining on his 5-year contract.  Hewitt will get 750K to NOT coach Mason next season (in addition, combined with the dollars that he's still getting from Ga. Tech, he'll be paid 2.1 million dollars next year to not coach either school).  Hewitt's first two years were successful in the CAA with 24 and 22 wins respectively, but it all changed in a tougher conference with his own recruits (11 wins and 9 wins).  It was time for a change in Fairfax.  Hewitt's not a bad guy; he's just not a good coach.  

The search for his successor began almost immediately; in fact, it quickly focused on a familiar name in Fairfax:  Larranaga (no tilde).  Former Mason coach Jim Larranaga's son Jay Larranaga, currently an assistant with the NBA's Celtics, is a favorite based on his pedigree and potential as a rising 39-year coach.  But, he's never coached a college program.  Others on the early list:  Former Mason asst. Chris Caputo (Jim Larranaga's top recruiter) and former Alabama and VCU coach Anthony Grant (who did quite well as a coach at a hoops-only school).  

I'm curious to see how many on the current roster remain after this firing.  I'm rooting for Thompson, Moore, and Jackson to stay the most.  Those three are good building blocks for season three in the A-10, which I hope is at least a .500 season.  However, I'm willing to give a new coach some time to build a program back to the place where it belongs:  Among the top mid-major programs in the country.  Sure, we got spoiled in 2006 with Mason's Final Four run.  But, we've seen other mid-major program like Butler, Gonzaga, VCU, Wichita State, and others maintain high levels for their programs nationally.  Mason graduates/fans expect and deserve the same.  

Time are a'changin' in Fairfax...and that's a great thing.

GO MASON.



Friday, March 13, 2015

Murray takes the $$s and runs



On Thursday, Cowboys free agent RB DeMarco Murray - fresh off a historic year in Big D - took the $$s and ran to the rival Eagles for 5 years and 42 million dollars.  At first glance, this is a painful departure from the Cowboys line-up.  However, this article accurately portrays the risks of Dallas resigning a 27-year old RB with a history of injury issues to a long-time, big money deal. In two years, his career will likely be over and Philly will be stuck with a large contract. 

Sorry, Murray...looking forward to shutting you down twice a year when the Cowboys and Eagles meet, and Dallas proving most anyone can dominate behind our stud OL.  

GO COWBOYS.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's over. Now, we wait.

George Mason lost for the 4th time in the last two years, and the 5th time overall to Fordham last night to end its 2014-15 season of misery.  We finished 9-22 overall, 4-14 in the A-10, and 0-1 in the A-10 tournament for the 2nd year in a row.  Now, we wait to see if the Mason President and AD have the guts to do what must be done:  Fire Paul Hewitt. 

Stay tuned...this story is just getting started.

GO MASON.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Hewitt's last days begin

George Mason dropped its regular season finale to VCU on Saturday in a game that they were down by 14 at the half, cut it to 4, and then lost by double-digits.  That's the season in a nutshell.

Based on Saturday's A-10 games, the bracket is set for Wednesday in Brooklyn.  Mason, the 13th seed, takes on Fordham (12) in one of the first two games on Wednesday.  If we somehow win and get another game, then it's VCU (the #5 seed...they really tanked at the end of the regular season, but they can still beat us) again on Thursday.  Hewitt's career at Mason should be over by this weekend or early next week.

Here's the bracket, if you're interested.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Dez gets tagged; Beasley is back

The offseason is starting to heat up in the NFL, and my Cowboys will be one of the hotter teams in terms of moves.  This week, they tagged star WR Dez Bryant with the franchise tag, guaranteeing his return to Dallas for 2015.  Bryant - a free agent - was hoping for a long-term deal for more money, but that's still a possibility.  In addition to Bryant, the Cowboys signed restricted free agent Cole Beasley to a four-year contract, ensuring one of Romo's favorite targets for big catches won't be going anywhere.  Beasley and Bryant have both become two of my favorite Cowboys, so it's good to see them back for another title run in 2015.

As for stud RB DeMarco Murray...still TBD.  I'd love to have Murray back, but the Cowboys plan to let him test the free agency waters.  Personally, I expect he'll resign in Dallas for a chance at a title run and the Cowboys will pay him what he's worth on the free agency market.  But, we'll see.  If not, one of the returning runners, a free agent, or a rookie will have a great offensive line in front of them.

GO COWBOYS.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Mason wins at St. Louis

Last season, Mason lost two heartbreaking games in OT to St. Louis - one at home, and one on the road.  This year, it's been a different story vs. the formally dominating Billikens.  Mason beat SLU last night in St. Louis 78-50 in a rare game where the Patriots dominated from start to finish.

Mason was led by four players in double-figures on a rare hot-shooting night.  Mason shot over 70% in the 1st half and over 60% for the game.  Freshman Isaiah Jackson led the way with 18 pts. (14 in the 1st half), followed by Moore with 14 pts. and 6 assists, Jenkins with 13 pts. and 10 rbs., Thompson with 10 pts. and 7 rbs., Holloway with 9 pts., and Royal with 8 pts.  Mason even shot an incredible 94% (17/18) from the FT line.  

With the win, Mason gets briefly out of the cellar and moves to 4-12 in the A-10 and 9-19 overall.  We are tied with Fordham at 4-12, but they have a win against us in our only match-up.  Duquesne sits at 5-11, but they've beaten as well in our only match-up.  The Patriots, even if they somehow beat GW and VCU this week - tall orders - will need others near the bottom to lose in order to avoid the first day games in the A-10 tourney.  The tourney starts on March 10.

Congrats on the win, Patriots.  However, in a season like this one, I won't get too excited.  The Hewitt era is coming closer to an end with each game.  There's little to nothing he should be able to do now that will save his job.  Let's not feel too sorry for the guy, though...he got a 85,000 dollar bonus by being employed by Mason as of today, and he's likely to get 700K to sit at home next season.

GO MASON.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The kiddos




It's been awhile since I posted any pics of the kiddos, so here's a couple from this week.  Tyler finished third in his Cub Scouts troop Pinewood Derby on Monday night.  We spent a few weekends working on his first derby car.  Sophia and the rest of us met new cousin Zoe this week, who was born on Monday in Manassas.  Both kids are having great school years.  I haven't done a "What's Going On" post in awhile.  Let's hope winter is winding down. 

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