Wednesday March 31, 2004
Twins Lose to Reds
30 K!! That's OK!
American Idol Thoughts
Discussion Question #1 - Your responses to these questions will be posted on Friday.
Discussion Question #2 - Your responses to these questions will be posted on Monday.
GOPHERS BEAT DUKE
ADVANCE TO FINAL FOUR
If you've been reading this column for the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about the University of Minnesota's women's basketball team as they have progressed through the NCAA tournament. Actually, I wrote about them, specifically Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville, throughout the season. Here is what I wrote on Monday, after the Gophers "upset" the 3rd seed Boston College:
None of the Gophers wins thusfar in the tournament have been at all surprising. However, if they manage to somehow beat Duke (30-3), I will officially be shocked!
Well, I am more than happy to say that I am officially shocked! Minnesota took an early lead and was able to maintain that lead throughout. In the second half, Duke did tie the game on two occasions, but each time, the Gophers would go on a mini-run to stay on top. As per usual, it was the tandem of McCarville and Whalen that led the way, but I was very impressed by the play of Kadidja Andersson and Shannon Bolden. Both knocked down some big shots, and Bolden did an admirable job of guarding Alana Beard.
Before I discuss how the Gophers did, I think it is important to just take a minute and realize just how good the Duke women's basketball program is. They were 30-3 on the season going into the game and went 15-1 in the ACC. They were the #1 team in the entire country. They had been to the Final Four the last two seasons.
And, how good is Alana Beard? Well, here is a very quick summary of her career at Duke. She came to Duke as the top high school player in the country out of Shreveport, LA. As a freshman at Duke, she averaged 17.0 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 steals and was named to every Freshman All-American team. As a sophomore, she was on every first-team All-America team. She averaged 19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.3 steals. Last year, as a junior, she won a couple of National Player of the Year Awards and averaged 22 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals. This season, her final year at Duke, she averaged 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.3 steals. So, not only is she an amazing offensive talent, but he has been great on the defensive end as well. She is a first-team All-American for the 3rd straight season (She was second team her freshman year), and between she and Diana Tourasi, they will win all of the Player of the Year Awards.
So, what happened last night? Well, the Gophers held Beard to 4-14 from the field and she had just 10 points. And on the offensive end of the court, the Gophers got help from a lot of places. Lindsay Whalen, who was a second-team All-American despite missing five weeks with a broken hand, led with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Janel McCarville, who is setting herself up to be a preseason first-team All-American next year, had another big game with 20 points, 18 boards and 6 assists. But it was more than just the big two. Kadidja Andersson, a senior from Stockholm, Sweden, played all 40 minutes and was 6-10 from the field with 17 points and 5 rebounds. Shannon Bolden guarded Beard, but also contributed 10 big points, including a couple of huge 3-pointers at key moments in the game. Shannon Schonrock played all 40 minutes and scored just 6 points, but she plays great on-ball defense. Jamie Broback played 17 minutes because of foul trouble for both McCarville and Bolden. She scored just two points but didn't hurt the team when she was out there. That said, Whalen and McCarville have been amazing. For the four games they've played in the tournament so far, Whalen is averaging 22 points, 5.3 rebounds and 8 assists. McCarville is averaging 19.8 points, 17 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
It was a huge game for the Gophers, a great team effort. Every bit of it was needed to beat such a great Duke team.
So what's next? Well, a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans. They are scheduled to play the University of Connecticut in the first round. UConn, led by Geno Aureimma was a #2 seed heading into the tournament, but beat the #1 seed in their region, Penn State, 66-49, to advance to the Final Four. Diana Taurasi led the way with 27 points. (Taurasi is averaging 16.2 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds this year.) Connecticut will be aiming for their 3rd straight national championship and fourth in the last five years. So, the Gophers beat one top, historical women's basketball program and will face arguably the most historical women's basketball program. Of course, 2004 Coach of the Year, Pat Summit's Tennessee Volunteers can also make that argument, and last night, they defeated Stanford to advance to this year's Final Four. They will play Louisiana State in the first round.
So, I'm looking forward to watching these games. I can't believe that I'm saying that, but watching Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville and checking out Shannon Schonrock and Shannon Bolden has been great! Speaking of Shannon Schonrock, check out the article on her and her hometown of Winnebago, MN, in today's Star-Tribune. The Pioneer Press' Tom Powers has a great article on Lindsay Whalen.
Do you have any comments on the Gophers women's basketball team, or the Final Four? E-mail me.
TWINS LOSE TO REDS
TUESDAY - Twins 2, Reds 8
Brad Thomas had pitched himself into a position to win the Twins 5th starter job. Yesterday, he may have pitched himself out of it. Thomas lasted just two innings and was roughed up. He gave up 5 hits and walked two, giving up 3 earned runs with no strike outs. But after that, a couple of pitchers vying for roster spots performed very well. Peter Munro pitched the next two innings, two shutout innings. He gave up a hit and two walks and struck out one. Grant Balfour, who I think should be the fifth starter, pitched two shutout innings. He gave up one hit and struck out two. He has been consistent and dominant since coming back from injury. Juan Rincon, who has a spot in the bullpen locked up, gave up four earned runs on five hits in an inning. He struck out two. The Twins had eight hits on the day. Only Nick Punto had multiple hits, going 2-3 with a double. Michael Ryan had a double in four at bats after learning that he, and not Lew Ford, will be on the Twins roster on Opening Day. (By the way, after the game, the team announced that Thomas would, in fact, be the Twins 5th starter.)
WEDNESDAY - The Twins take on the Phillies at noon today.
OTHER TWINS NOTES -
The big news of the day was that Ron Gardenhire decided that Michael Ryan would make his opening day roster, instead of Lew Ford. This is a decision that makes no sense to me at all. The only thing that Ryan has over Ford is that he hits left-handed. He can be used as a left-handed pinch hitter off the bench. Defensively, there is no comparison, Ford is far better and more versatile. Offensively, Ford is better. Let's be honest, Ryan is making this team because he had a good three weeks at the end of last season. But, it is hard to forget that he hit .220 at AAA last year before being called up. Ford has consistently performed offensively in the minor leagues and last year in the big leagues, even playing with a broken arm. Even this spring, Ford was hitting .273 while Ryan hit just .244. And, if the reason for keeping Ryan on the roster is as a left-handed pinch hitter, then what is the purpose of having Jose Offerman on the roster? This transaction makes no sense to me.
The Fargo Forum's Mike McFeely feels the Twins are still the favorites in the AL Central despite all of the roster change-over.
Yesterday, I wrote my thoughts while watching the Yankees lose to the Devil Rays. Like me, The Baseball Boys' Eric got up to watch the game in the early a.m. hours, well, he almost got up in time. Read his thoughts on season's first game. The teams will play again early this morning with Kevin Brown facing Jeremi Gonzalez, but I will not be waking up before 4:00 again to watch them. Should major league's Opening Day really happen in Japan? I don't think so. The Bad Twin writes a short, funny opinion on the topic which starts out with:
"Gotta love opening day. Nothing says Americana and springtime like getting up at 4:00 am, turning on the TV, and watching the Yankees play the Devil Rays indoors on Astroturf. Well, at least, it wouldn't have if I wasn't still asleep..."
It is hard to argue that America's Game's biggest day should happen in America.
UPDATE - In case you were wondering, and didn't wake up early again to watch the game, the Yankees won game two of the series 12-1 over the Devil Rays. Hideki Matsui hit a home run and Jorge Posada hit two three-run homers, one from each side of the plate. Kevin Brown won his 198th career game. The teams will now make the 18 hour flight back to America and will continue their seasons next week.
Be sure to check out this week's Discussion Questions. Feel free to answer all or some of the questions for me. Just send me an e-mail and your thoughts will be heard later this week.
Here are how former Twins players did for their new teams on Tuesday
Eric Milton, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K)
David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox (1-3, 7th HR)
David McCarty, LF, Boston Red Sox (3-5, 3 R, 4 RBI, 7th HR)
Chris Gomez, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (0-1)
Chad Allen, LF, Texas Rangers (0-1)
Javy Valentin, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (0-1)
Jack Cressand, RP, Cleveland Indians (2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 2K)
AJ Pierzynski, C, San Francisco Giants (0-3)
Dustan Mohr, RF, San Francisco Giants (1-4, 2 RBI, HR)
Chad Moeller, C, Milwaukee Brewers (0-2)
Bobby Kielty, LF, Oakland A's (1-3)
Damien Miller, C, Oakland A's (0-2)
Quinton McCracken, CF, Seattle Mariners (2-4, 2 RBI, HR)
Eddie Guardado, RP, Seattle Mariners (1 IP, 0 R, 1 BB)
Brian Buchanan, 1B, San Diego Padres (0-4)
Todd Sears, PH, San Diego Padres (0-1)
Greg Swindell, RP, Kansas City Royals (1 IP, 1 K)
30,000 and Counting
Sometime early this morning, this site will have its 30,000th hit (if you happen to be the 30,000th hit, let me know!!). That is pretty exciting for me. I don't know what it means, but it is somewhat of a milestone. I want to thank all of you that check by every day, and especially those of you who take the time to write and share your opinions with me on anything I write. I still have fun writing every day and will continue to do this until I don't. A big part of that enjoyment comes from the interaction with the readers. So, send me an e-mail and just say hi! If you're interested in the statistics, the hits have consistently increased since I started this website about ten months ago. The last few months, I have had over 4,000 hits per month, which equates to 180-200 hits per week day, on average. That's a big jump from the 20-30 hits I was getting in the first couple months after I started. With the major league season now upon us, I hope to only continue to increase these numbers. If you know any baseball/sports fans out there, be sure to tell them about the site. Thanks again for taking the time to read my stuff every day. As always, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for me, send me an e-mail.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
First, one of last year's contestants, Trenyce, was on Cold Pizza this morning. She is in a play that is in New York through this week. Jackee Harry also is in the play as Trenyce's character's mother. Just another example of success coming to those who have appeared on American Idol.
Last night, the ten remaining American Idol contestants performed songs with a Motown vibe. I thought some of the people made some excellent song choices. I really thought that about half of the performances were great, while the other half were rather poor. I'll discuss the notes I wrote as I watched the show last night. Then I will rank the performances from worst to first. Finally, I will predict the Bottom 3 and who will be eliminated.
Camille Velasco - For Once in My Life
She is very cute, but reality that she isn't a great singer is setting in.
Jon Peter Lewis - This Old Heart of Mine
Started out very poor, but ended up pretty good. The "JPL" nickname may help him.
LaToya London - Oh, Baby Baby
Excellent song to show her elegance and some range. She was very controlled.
Amy Adams - Dancin' in the Streets
She seemed too low the whole song, but she does have a very strong voice.
John Stevens - My Girl
He wasn't even close to being on tune the entire song. This may be the beginning of the end for Jon unless he picks some better songs.
Jennifer Hudson - Heat Wave
With her, it has never been her voice. I think she can sing very well. She's just missing some intangibles, and I'm still scared of her.
Jasmine Trias - All I Need to Get By
Better than last week, great energy. It was probably the least known song that anyone sang, which could hurt her.
Diana Degarmo - Do You Love Me
Very safe song. She was good, just didn't have to show much with that song choice. I did like her run at the end.
Fantasia Barrino - Heard it Through the Grapevine
She's got the perfect voice for Motown. She did too much at the end though.
George Huff - Ain't too Proud to Beg
Great stage presence, great deep voice, but hits all the high notes as well.
10.) John Stevens
9.) Camille Velasco - may have been saved by just how bad John Stevens was!
8.) John Peter Lewis
7.) Amy Adams
6.) Jennifer Hudson
5.) Diana Degarmo
4.) Jasmine Trias
3.) George Huff
2.) Fantasia Barrino
1.) LaToya London - She's the best!
My choices as The Bottom Three: John Stevens, Camille Velasco and Amy Adams
My choice as Who Will Be Eliminated: Camille Velasco
What did you think of last night's American Idol? E-mail me.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK - Part 1
This week, there will actually be dual questions of the week, but both will be similar. On Friday, I will post your thoughts on the upcoming baseball season. It's that time of the year, and predictions need to be made. I will post my thoughts and predictions that day as well. Here are the questions:
1.) Who will win each of the six divisions??
2.) Who will win the AL and NL MVP Awards?
3.) Who will win the AL and NL Cy Young Awards?
4.) Who will win the AL and NL Rookie of the Year Awards?
5.) Name one team that you think will surprise people the most (positively)?
6.) Name on team that you think will be the biggest disappointment the year?
7.) Who will win the AL and NL Batting championships?
8.) Who will win the AL and NL Home Run championships?
9.) Who will lead the AL and NL in Wins/Saves?
10.) Who will play in and win the World Series?
11.) Are there any storylines that are really exciting to you as the season begins? What headlines are you looking forward to reading (Example - Yankees Lose 100, The Boss Fires Himself)
So, I guess that is 11 Questions of the Week. Your responses will be posted on Friday (with you permission, of course), so please, simply send me an e-mail with your answers to the above questions. Be as specific or general as you want to be.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK - Part 2
The results of Part 2 will be posted next Monday. The Twins will be opening their season next Monday night against Cleveland, so it seems like an appropriate time to talk about the Twins. Please answers these questions by sending me an e-mail.
1.) How will Joe Mauer do in his rookie season?
2.) Who will lead the Twins in (and how many):
a.) Batting Average
b.) Home Runs
d.) Stolen Bases
3.) Who will lead the Twins in (and how many):
4.) Will Jacque Jones stay with the team all season?
5.) Which minor leaguer(s) do you think will have the most impact on the Twins season?
6.) What, in your opinion, is the X-Factor for the Twins this year?
7.) How many games will the Twins win, and what place will that be in the AL Central?
8.) What storylines will you be following throughout the Twins season (example - Rivas Wins HR Title, or Bartlett Replaces Guzman)
There you have it. Eight Twins related questions for you to answer for next Monday. Again, be as specific or general as you'd like. If you want to project the stats for each Twins player, feel free to do so. I will post these thoughts on Monday, so please think about an answer. I can't wait to read your responses, so, e-mail me.
That's it for today. I hope you enjoy what you have read. If you have any questions or comments, suggestions or opinions, E-mail me.
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