Ohio Sports Time

Ohio Sports Time - Ohio sports news and opinions for college and professional sports teams in Ohio. Our mission is to discuss major sports happenings across the state of Ohio. We cover teams like the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Ohio colleges like the Ohio State Buckeyes, Cincinnati Bearcats, all 6 Ohio MAC schools and more. Basically if it's a sport and it's happening in Ohio, Ohio Sports Time is the place to discuss it.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Cleveland State head coach Garland to resign

Mike Garland, the head coach of the Cleveland State Vikings for the past three years, is expected to resign today. Garland went 23-60 in three years at CSU and had his best season, 10-18, this past year for the Vikings.

SI: Garland resigns from Cleveland State

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Indians Signing of Sizemore Further Brightens Tribe Future

The Cleveland Indians announced on WTAM 1100 in Cleveland this morning that they have agreed to terms with CF Grady Sizemore for a 6-year contract with a club option for a 7th year. This marks the 2nd big singing for the Tribe this spring and the 5th in the past two years. Last year the Indians locked up DH/1B Travis Hafner through 2007 and both C Victor Martinez and SP C.C. Sabathia through 2008. Then, earlier this spring, the Indians signed SS Jhonny Peralta to a long-term deal as well, after Peralta set a team record for HR by a shortstop during his first full major league season in 2005. With all of these signings in place, the Tribe is now setting their attention towards lefty starter Cliff Lee.

Since moving to Northeast Ohio in late July of 2004, I have followed the Indians very closely. As time goes by, I have become more and more jealous of how they run their team. I grew up a huge Reds fan, and while I still love my Reds (and always will), I love how the Tribe has brought in so much young talent, and how they’ve also been able to continue to develop young talent while locking up the cornerstones of their future.

The Indians will possibly have the best AAA team in the Minor leagues this year in Buffalo. I have to give Mark Shapiro and company a lot of credit; this Cleveland front office knows what they are doing. As long as Sizemore does not fall into a terrible “sophomore slump,” and with his speed and hustle he should be able to avoid such slumps by getting on base in a variety of ways, this may be the best signing so far by the Tribe. Sizemore is not only loved for his play on the field, but pink shirts the read “Mrs. Sizemore” popped up all over Jacobs Field last year as the ladies seem to be infatuated with the young Indians outfielder.

So Indians fans, if you’re not yet convinced that the Indians have a bright future then I guess you really aren’t paying attention very closely. I’ve heard “fans” who love to be negative on the radio talk shows, who I think are missing the point. Take a look around Major League Baseball and look at the situations that other clubs have to deal with. The Indians are near the top, considering their nucleus of young talent and their smart business in signing young stars to long term deals. After winning 93 games last year the Tribe will have high expectations in 2006, but with their core in place they should be able to remain a consistent contender.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ohio College Basketball - Season Ending Rankings

Building off of Luke's post from last week I figured that it would be interesting to take a look at each of the Ohio Basketball programs and to rank their 05/06 season performances from 13 to 1. Because I know my choices could spark debate, I'll add comments with my Top 5 picks.

13. Youngstown State Penguins – 7-21 (4-12 in Horizon)
12. Bowling Green Falcons – 9-21 (5-13 in MAC)
11. Cleveland State Vikings – 10-18 (5-11 in Horizon)
10. Wright State – 13-15 (8-8 in Horizon)
9. Dayton Flyers – 14-17 (6-10 in A10)
8. Ohio Bobcats – 19-11 (10-8)
7. Toledo Rockets – 20-11 (10-8)
6. Miami RedHawks – 18-11 (14-4)

5. Akron Zips – 23-10 (14-4 in MAC)
The Zips had their best year since the 1980's, and are only poised to improve as 3 of their 5 starters, and their 6th man off the bench return. If Jeremiah Wood can complete a healthy season for the first time since 03/04 Akron will have "NCAA Tournament" written all over them.

4. Xavier Musketeers – 21-11 (8-8 in A10)
Maybe a little low in some people's books, a pretty mediocre season was saved when Xavier turned it on late in the year. They punched their ticket to the Big Dance by winning an incredibly exciting A-10 Tournament. From there, the Muskies gave Gonzaga a major scare in the first round.

3. Kent State Golden Flashes – 25-9 (15-3 in MAC)
Kent struggled in OOC play before pretty much coasting through the Mid-American Conference slate. Was Kent really that good or was the MAC that bad this season? Their first-round tournament drubbing versus Pitt wasn't pretty.

2. Cincinnati Bearcats – 21-12 (8-8 in Big East)
A little high for a team that didn't make the NCAA Tournament? I don't think so. While it was easy to hate the "Bearcats of old" this was a new team under new direction this season. This team was absolutely hosed by the selection committee and I have no doubt that they could beat Kent and Xavier at least 60% of the time if they played 10 games...and yes I'm aware that Xavier beat Cincinnati in the cross-town shootout this year.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes – 26-6 (12-4 in Big Ten)
Buckeye fans figured that next year would be the season to start following basketball with the influx of the ridiculously named "Thad 5", but that season came a year early. Ohio State got extremely solid play from big-man Terrance Dials all season, but lived and died with the 3-pointer a little too much, losing to Georgetown in the Round of 32.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Former Bowling Green coach Larranaga leads George Mason

Ok, so in yesterday’s post I discussed the George Mason Patriots and their unlikely run to the Final Four. Unfortunately I failed to remember how I could connect them to the state of Ohio since this is a Ohio sports blog. Well it hit me last night why the name Jim Larranaga has sounded so familiar for the past few weeks and why the BG fans were talking about him on the main Bowling Green Falcons fan site last week.

Jim Larranaga, the current head coach for George Mason, formerly coached at Bowling Green. For 11 year Larranaga was the head man at BG, leading the Falcons to a 170-144 record. His 170 victories are the 2nd most in school history and Larranaga was names the MAC Coach of the Year in 1997 as he led Bowling Green to a 22-10 record and a NIT berth. During his time at Bowling Green Larranaga’s teams defeated Michigan State (twice), Ohio State, Kentucky, Purdue and Penn State.

So, while I missed it yesterday, I can today justify posting about George Mason. The run the Patriots are on is possibly one of the most amazing in the history of college basketball and the NCAA Tournament. And it’s no surprise to me that a former MAC coach is at the lead of it all.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

George Mason advances to the Final Four

I just watched George Mason beat Connecticut to advance to the Final Four and I am still not sure if I believe this craziness. Sure, the Patriots of George Mason have nothing to do with the state of Ohio, nor did they play any Ohio teams this season. But what an amazing "Cinderella" run this is for the George Mason basketball team. In 2002 the Golden Flashes of Kent State made a similar run advancing to the Elite 8 before running into a scorching-hot Indiana team. But George Mason, out of the mid-major Colonial Athletic Association, has now topped Kent's awesome run.

Just two weeks ago today Billy Packer and Jim Nantz, those classy CBS commentators who are currently broadcasting the Florida vs. Villanova Elite 8 game on CBS, denounced George Mason's inclusing into the NCAA Tournament. They ripped the Tournament Selection Committee chairman on live TV saying that too many mid-majors were in the Big Dance. Now, just two weeks later, the mid-major Patriots of George Mason are just two games away from winning the National Championship. Yes, I said it. George Mason could win the National Championship. As crazy as that may sound, look at who they have defeated to get here:
- #6 Michigan State - Tom Izzo's squad was regarded as a "sleeper" pick as a #6 seed with a shot at making the Final Four. Folarin Campbell led the Patriots to a 10-point win with 21 points on 8-8 shooting.
- #3 North Carolina - Roy Williams won his first ever National Championship in 2005 and somehow molded his young team into a #3 seed having beaten Duke, Kentucky, NC State and several other ACC opponents this year.
- #7 Wichita State - In a rematch of the ESPN Bracket Buster weekend match-up, the Patriots of George Mason were able to defeat Wichita State for the second time in just over a month. Wichita State came in as the Champions of the almost-no-longer-a-mid-major Missouri Valley Conference.
- #1 Connecticut - This is the most impressive of these wins in my opinion. While UCONN never seemed to have a sense of urgency, I really thought that the 3-point play by Marcus Williams in the final minute of regulation was going to result in UCONN finishing the comeback. Then a lay-up by UCONN's Denham Brown to force overtime prompted me to tell my wife that the Huskies would wake-up and dominate in overtime. Instead, the Patriots had a 4-point lead with under 50 seconds left in OT and were able to hold on and beat one of the most popular National Champion picks in brackets across the nation.

Watching this game and seeing the end result gives me hope that, once again, a mid-major from Ohio could once again shock the nation and advance past the first weekend of the Big Dance. Miami's Sweet 16 run in 1999 and Kent's 2002 run to the Elite 8 were two of the most exciting runs I have ever enjoyed in my sports-dominated life. There's just something special about watching and underdog make a run like that, beating big-name, high-budget schools and Athletic Departments from major conferences.

So next up for the Patriots is the winner of the #3 Florida vs. #1 Villanova game. If there's anyone in America doubting George Mason's chances to win another game or two, well, I'd say you're crazy.

A Whirlwind Week At UC

The entire year has been a whirlwind for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, and maybe fittingly, the tornado that has been UC Basketball this season grew to a Category-5 level last week. This was an odd year for Cincinnati basketball to begin with.

This was a season that saw a lot of strange UC Basketball happenings. UC President, Nancy Zimpher angered Bearcat-Nation, firing extremely popular head coach, Bob Huggins before the start of the season. In retaliation, many fans boycotted games. Several UC players quit the team or were ruled ineligible. There was a transcript problem with highly touted freshman Abdul Herrera, who then hurt his wrist and was ruled out for the season. Starting 6-8 senior swingman, Armein Kirkland blew out his knee and missed the final 18 games of the season. And finally, the Bearcats were snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee.

Interim coach Andy Kennedy managed to handle everything that happened this season with poise and dignity. That didn't make much difference though as the moronic Cincinnati administration refused to re-hire Kennedy, let alone give him a vote of confidence during the season. Instead the UC Administration was happy to fall far behind in recruiting and to keep their team in limbo for the entire season.

All of this made it a pretty crazy year for UC. Then on Thursday, things got insane. It started with former UC Head Coach Bob Huggins accepting a job to coach at Kansas State. This was big news in the tri-state because there's still such a love for Huggins due to all of the things that he was able to accomplish with the UC program while here.

Thursday afternoon there was word that upon the posting of grades at UC, Jihad Muhammad and James White had been ruled ineligible. This was a big loss to an already shorthanded UC team hours before their NIT quarterfinal game. UC looked like major contenders for the NIT Tournament Championship, but many local pundits were sticking a fork in the team with this news.

Thursday night after UC's loss to South Carolina in the NIT, things got even crazier with Mick Cronin accepting an offer to become Cincinnati's next head coach and Andy Kennedy accepting an offer to be the next head coach at Ole Miss.

And in a day filled with news, this was the really huge news. Cincinnati's administration decided to go with Murray State Head Coach, and former Cincinnati assistant Mick Cronin. They pulled the plug on Kennedy's tenure quite literally, unplugging the microphone in the arena at the end of Cincinnati's NIT loss as Kennedy tried to thank the fans and say goodbye.

I think Cronin is a pretty good choice for UC, but I also believe that President Zimpher, and Athletic Director Mike Thomas, who has proven to only be a yes-man for Zimpher, lucked into such a solid hire. Cronin has UC ties, serving as an assistant for the Bearcats 6 years ago, so the fans trust him, and are looking forward to seeing where he can take them.

UC fans should take everything hopeful that happens to this program with a grain of salt however. As long as Thomas, and especially Zimpher are in charge, it's impossible to tell how much leeway Cronin will have, and even if he'll have enough rope to do things the right way for the Cincinnati Bearcat basketball program.

One thing is for certain, Ole Miss got a good...possibly a great coach with Andy Kennedy. The way Kennedy handled this disaster of a program in Cincinnati this season was remarkable. I haven't talked to one Bearcat fan who disproves of Kennedy, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find one. Kennedy proved himself in what amounted to a season-long job application process. Even though the UC Administration didn't have enough sense to hire him, another major college basketball program really made well for themselves to bring Kennedy in as their coach.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cavs beat Celtics 94-82

In Friday night action, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 94-82 behind LeBron James' 36 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots. This kid is so damn good it is scary. All I have to say is the Cavs better do EVERYTHING they can to keep him in town the remainder of his career. Oh yeah, back to the game. Paul Pierce, who usually plays very well against the Cavs, scored 24 points on 6-20 shooting.

Flip Murray, Donyell Marshall and Zydrunss Ilgauskas also scored in double-figures for the Cavs who are now 40-29 on the season and have won 4 straight.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

College Basketball recap for Ohio schools in 2005-2006

Since many fans are so enamored with their own team that they often forget other in-state schools exist, I thought I would post the records of all 13 Division I-A basketball programs for the 2005-2006 college basketball season.

Big Ten
Ohio State Buckeyes – 26-6 (12-4 in Big Ten) – After losing in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game the Buckeyes received a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A first-round win over #15 seed Davidson proved to be no easy task and the Buckeyes met their match in the 2nd round as #7 seed Georgetown ended the Buckeyes season by a final score of 70-52.

Big East
Cincinnati Bearcats – 21-12 (8-8 in Big East) – Any write-up that doesn’t include Bob Huggins’ forced departure and Andy Kennedy’s emergence, before being hung out to dry by the Cincinnati administration is probably incomplete, but those topics really deserve their own blog posts. An up and down end to the Big East schedule and an early loss to Syracuse in the Big East Tournament busted Cincinnati’s bubble as the Bearcats season resulted in an NIT bid. Currently in the NIT’s Elite 8, the Bearcats have already defeated both Charlotte and Minnesota to advance in the Tournament.

Kent State Golden Flashes – 25-9 (15-3) – After a slow OOC start the Golden Flashes put it together in MAC play leading some to wonder “what are they putting in the water at Kent State?” The Flashes’ success continued into the MAC Tournament where they knocked out Ohio in the semifinals and Toledo in the MAC Championship. As the lone MAC representative in the NCAA Tournament and a #12 seed, the Golden Flashes were overmatched by the #5 seed Pittsburgh Panthers in a 79-64 loss.

Akron Zips – 23-10 (14-4) – In 2005-2006, the Zips had their best season since Bob Huggins was their coach (yes, Bob Huggins once coached at Akron!). Their 23 wins and 14 MAC wins both set school records and their NIT bid was their first since Huggins led his 1988-89 team to the NIT. After an NIT first round win @ Temple the Zips were forced to travel to Creighton, a strong Missouri Valley team, where they lost 71-60.

Miami RedHawks – 18-11 (14-4) – The RedHawks probably played the toughest OOC schedule in the MAC this year and had a 4-6 record to show for it. But, as always, Charlie Coles had his team ready for MAC play. Miami won 14 conference games before a surprising loss to Ohio in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament in Cleveland. A scheduling conflict changed the RedHawks’ home NIT game into a road game and the RedHawks fell @ Butler 53-52 to end their season.

Ohio Bobcats – 19-11 (10-8) – The Bobcats started the season 12-3 (6-2 OOC) before hitting the wall in the middle of the season, never to recover. While the Bobcats did enact a bit of revenge on rival Miami in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament, their 1-day fire was quickly put out by Kent in the semifinals.

Toledo Rockets – 20-11 (10-8) – The MAC West’s preseason favorite, the Toledo Rockets disappointed many by beginning the MAC schedule 1-6 in their first 7 conference games. But a late season surge resulted in a 10-8 MAC record and run through the MAC Tournament as the #7 seed Rockets knocked off the #10 seed BG Falcons, #2 seed NIU Huskies and #3 seed Akron Zips before falling to the MAC’s #1 seed Kent State Golden Flashes in the MAC Tournament Championship game.

Bowling Green Falcons – 9-21 (5-13) – After handing former Ohio Bobcats coach Larry Hunter his first win as the coach of Western Carolina in their season-opener, the Falcons surprised us all with a 72-71 win over ACC member Virginia Tech. Unfortunately for BG fans that was the highlight of the season as the Falcons struggled all season long, lacking depth and talent due to a multitude of transfers. BG ended the season with 8 consecutive losses and little to look forward to in the near future for the program.

Atlantic 10
Xavier Musketeers – 21-11 (8-8 in A10) – The Musketeers surprised everyone by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament after favorite George Washington was beaten by Temple. As a #14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Xavier lost a hard-fought 1st round game to #3 seed Gonzaga by a score of 79-75.

Dayton Flyers – 14-17 (6-10 in A10) – The Flyers started the season off strong, winning 6 of their first 8 games, but a month-long 7-game losing streak in December and January turned a promising season into a mediocre one at best.

Wright State – 13-15 (8-8 in Horizon) – The Raiders were a streaky team all season having 3 winning streaks of 3 or more games as well as 3 losing streaks of 3 or more games.

Cleveland State Vikings – 10-18 (5-11 in Horizon) – The Vikings were inconsistent all year long, they won back-to-back games 5 times this season, accounting for all 10 of their wins. After starting the season 8-9, CSU dropped 9 of their final 11 games to end the season.

Youngstown State Penguins – 7-21 (4-12 in Horizon) – Much like CSU, the Penguins also struggled to close the season. A 9-game losing streak ended a long season for YSU hoops and turned a mediocre season into a poor one.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cavs beat Bobcats 120-118 in OT

If you aren’t one who follows the Cavs closely you may not realize how big an impact Flip Murray has had on the Cleveland Cavaliers since their trade-deadline deal. After getting Murray from the Seattle Supersonics for rarely-used PG Mike Wilkes, Murray has upped his scoring average from 9.9 ppg to 13.5 ppg in his 13 games with the Cavs. Tonight Murray scored 19 on 7-11 shooting and hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in regulation.

The play in which Murray hit the 3 saw LeBron James get trapped at the top of the key and throw long pass to Murray in the corner. The assist for James was his 10th of the game marking his 9th career triple-double. LeBron finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assist and the game-winner from just inside the 3-point arc in overtime.

While the Cavs have been streaky all season, GM Danny Ferry's move to bring in Ronald "Flip" Murray has already proven to be a great one, and it may mean the difference in the Cavs getting the #4 seed in the playoffs versus maybe a #7 or 8 seed.

It's Sports Time, Ohio!

No Mo' Wily Mo

It didn't take long for new ownership and a new GM in Cincinnati to challenge the Reds' tired old status quo. While the Reds have a surplus of power hitters (who manage to rack up the strikeouts), they had (and still have) a dearth of quality pitching. In a somewhat risky move Cincinnati sent mercurial OF prospect Wily Mo Pena to Boston for SP Bronson Arroyo.

While this trade certainly has its risks from Cincinnati's perspective, I think it's a solid trade that had to be made. There are several factors that makes this a good trade for the Reds. Let's take a look at them in order.

The Reds absolutely had to add a starting pitcher. Before this trade their staff consisted of Aaron Harang, Brandon Claussen, Dave Williams, Eric "Flyball" Milton, and the still injured Paul Wilson. While Arroyo was set to start the season in the Boston bullpen, he should automatically vault into the #2 spot in the Reds staff. That's not necessarily a sign of how good Arroyo is, but more a sign of the weakness of the Cincinnati staff.

Money was another major factor in this trade. Arroyo's salary is one of the factors that makes him so attractive to a team like the Reds. At a cost of only $11.25 million over the next 3 years, the 29 year old Arroyo is quite a bargain for a young player with a track record. Pena who just signed a $1.25 million deal for one year can't become a free agent until after the 2008 season. The truth however is, if Pena finally realized his potential over the next two years, there is no way that the mid-market Reds could afford to lock him up for an extended period of time.

Cincinnati's offense really sputtered with Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn, and Wily Mo Pena all in the lineup. While each of those guys, especially Dunn and Pena, were threats to hit 50 homeruns in a season, all three players were also a threat to whiff 200 times. Cincinnati could stand to have more situational hitters like Scott Hatteberg and Rich Aurilia in the order. Neither Hatteberg nor Aurilia has the offensive upside, let alone the massive power, of Wily Mo, but both players put the bat on the ball far more often, and know how to drive in runs without hitting a homerun.

Lastly, Cincinnati's defense improves with Pena's move to Boston. With this trade, Dunn will move back to left field and Hatteberg will likely take over for Dunn at first. Although dubious sometimes on defense, Dunn is a better fielder than Pena, and Hatteberg is a better first baseman than Dunn.

While Wily Mo Pena certainly has tons of potential, at this point in his career he's nothing more than a good hitter of lefthanded pitching. He doesn't walk, struggles against good pitchers, and could lead the league in strikeouts if he played everyday. At 24 Pena could still develop into a very good player, but that's no longer a chance that the Reds could bank on. The new Cincinnati brain trust was smart to cash in, and get a player that they very much needed.

Welcome to Ohio Sports Time - It's Sports Time, Ohio!

Since I became familiar with blogs several months ago, I have been intrigued by the idea of having my own. Out of courtesy to a couple of MAC fan sites I have been putting off blogging about MAC football and basketball, despite running the popular MAC sports fan site VanDelaySports.com. But living in Ohio, and rooting for almost every major Ohio sports team you can think of, I often find myself wanting to comment on the Reds, Indians, Browns, Bengals, Bobcats, RedHawks, Rockets, Falcons, Bearcats, Blue Jackets, Zips, Golden Flashes and even the Buckeyes. Plus I know my regional sports pretty well since I have followed the MAC and Big Ten for so many years.

So this initial entry is an exciting one for me. I am looking for this blog to be a way to voice my educated opinion. You see, I get annoyed by know-nothings who have strong opinions on topics they know little to nothing about. For example, WTAM 1100 in Cleveland had their morning sports report in late January and the Sports Director, Mike Snyder, kept referring to the Mid-American Conference as the M-A-C, reading each letter individually. I kindly called in and told the guy who answered to tell Mike that the correct way to say it is “MAC” (sounds like “mack”). The guy on the phone asked me if I was offended by calling it the M-A-C, and I politely told him that I was not, I just wanted to make sure that Mike didn’t sound foolish.

The WTAM employee went on to rudely tell me that Mid-American Conference commissioner Rick Cryst calls it the M-A-C all of the time and that I was wrong. Now, I have been a die-hard fan of the conference for well over a decade and I don’t think I have once heard anyone refer to the MAC as the M-A-C. It was obvious that WTAM didn’t care. Needless to say I was more than a little bit annoyed.

So now, when things like this occur, I can tell you about it. Not to mention the fact that I’ll have the opportunity to regularly comment on the sports news across the state. My partner in crime, Dan Whitmyer will be joining me on this blog, and together we should have plenty to talk about. Some topics may be very interesting to you; others may not. But I can guarantee that I’ll rant on topics in which I know what I am talking about. Expect a lot of MLB, NFL, NBA, College football and basketball and maybe a little NHL talk on this blog. And as you can tell I am a MAC fan, so you can expect the “little guys” to get their fair share of recognition as well. We won’t dwell on Ohio State the way the papers and TV stations do, but we’ll give them their just due when we find it appropriate.

I hope you enjoy our new blog - it's Sports Time, Ohio!