Mystics defeat Shock, Nats continue to shine

June 27th, 2011

On a four-game losing skid, the Washington Mystics looked to get back to winning ways Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center. In front of 10,675, the Mystics came out firing from the floor, shooting 47.5 percent. That percentage helped them to a 83-63 victory over the Tulsa Shock. Both teams entered the contest with one victory on the season. The Mystics had the lead the entire game with a lead that once grew to 24. YDC asked Mystics head coach Trudi Lacey asked what about win impressed her most. She said, “Our intensity on defense finally had a good defensive game, and we’re getting better at executing in the half-court sets.”

Some other notable stats: the Mystics three-point shots were 41.7 percent successful; they were 71 percent from the free throw line. The Mystics next home game comes Saturday as they take on Seattle at 4 p.m. at the Verizon Center.

Some other breaking news this week: Jim Riggleman stepped down after a Nationals walk-off victory over the Seattle Mariners. When Riggleman left the team Thursday, June 23, the Nats had just scored their eleventh victory in 12 games. Over the weekend, bench coach John McLaren was the interim coach, The club announced Sunday that head coach veteran Davey Johnson is going to take over the club.

In all of this coaching mess, the team is still red hot and there are games to be played. Over the weekend, the Nats won the series over the Chicago White Sox defeating them 9-5 in a 14-inning marathon on Friday. The Nats bullpen blew three saves, but they still got the W. On Saturday, they fell 1-0, then won 2-1 on Sunday thanks to a Danny Espinosa homer. The Nats now travel to Anaheim to face the Angels and to finish interleague play before returning home for July Fourth weekend against Pittsburgh. At this writing, the Nats sit at 37-35, two games over the .500 mark. They sit in third place in the NL East standings.

Mystics lose home opener to Sky

June 12th, 2011

With a record of winning three home openers in a row at the Verizon Center, the Mystics were 1-1 on the road as they took the court against the Chicago Sky Saturday night. In front of a crowd of 11,943, the Mystics slipped down a hole early trailing by 18 in the first half.

The Mystics came out with a lot better effort in the second half and cut the lead to three. Never seizing the lead, it was too-little-too-late during the comeback. Big shots by the Sky defeated the Mystics, 84-77. The Mystics fell as they struggled on defense throughout the game. The Sky scored 60 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent from three. The Mystics only shot 45.6 percent and 30.8 percent from three.

Offensively, the Mystics leading scorer was Matee Ajavon with 24 points. She led both teams scoring. The Sky’s leading scorer was Sylvia Fowles with 23 points.

With her three-year history in the Mystics organization, this was Mystics coach Trudi Lacey’s first regular-season home game. She took over the coaching job Nov. 25, 2010. She is also the team’s general manager.

A bright spot of the evening came when the Mystics dropped its “2010 Eastern Conference Champions” banner from the rafters at the Verizon Center. The Mystics look for their first home win on Thursday as they tip off with the Connecticut Sun at 7:00 p.m.

Interleague play marks quarter point of season

May 20th, 2011

With the weekend devoted to interleague play, just about the quarter mark of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, the Washington Nationals currently have a 20-23 record and sit in last place in the National League East Conference. However the Nats are only 4.5 games out of third place as the Atlanta Braves hold that spot, but only one game out of fourth place which the New York Mets are in.

The 15th season of interleague play is already here and the Nats open it with the Battle of the Beltways Friday, May 20. The Nats travel to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and face the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s have almost an identical record to the Nats. They sit in last place as well, but with a record of 19-23. In game one of the three game series, Jason Marquis of the Nats takes the hill against Jake Arrieta. In game two, it’s lefty John Lannon vs. righty Jeremy Guthrie, and in the final game, Jordan Zimmermann is on the bump with Chris Tillman.

At this point of the season, the hottest hitting National is Laynce Nix who is hitting .307 with five home runs. Jason Marquis leads the Nationals pitching staff with five wins and one loss with a 3.54 ERA. When it comes to save situations, Drew Storen has been lights out with a perfect 9 for 9 so far on the season. His ERA is 0.38 with 19 strike outs.

In the last 10 games the Nats are 4-6. The Nats return to National Division play next week. Baltimore does travels to Nationals Park for round two of the Battle of the Beltways June 17, 18 and 19.

Caps dominate Rangers in five, face Tampa Bay Lightning in round two

April 28th, 2011

The Washington Capitals continue into the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. The Caps defeated the New York Rangers five games to one in the first round. They won their first two games at home, 2-1 and 2-0. Then the Caps traveled to New York for games three and four. After falling in game three, 3-2, the Caps got the momentum back after trailing, 3-0, in game four. Then they scored four unanswered goals and the game-winning goal in double over time. With home ice advantage for game five, the Caps had a chance to clinch the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series Saturday, April 23, at the Verizon Center and did so. They defeated the Rangers, 3-1, and sent them packing for the season.

The Caps had almost a week off before knowing who their semifinals opponent would be. There was a whole bunch of scenarios on their possible opponent. At the end of the day, on Wednesday, the Caps learned they would be playing the Southeast Division team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are in the same division as the Capitals. However, the Caps are back-to-back-to-back to back Southeast Division Champs.

In round two, the Caps continue to have home ice advantage and will play games one and two at the Verizon Center this Friday and Sunday with 7:00 p.m. puck drops. Both games will be aired on Versus. Games three and four are in Tampa Bay back-to-back with 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. puck drops, May 3 and May 4. Game five, if needed, is back at the Verizon Center, May 7,  12:30 p.m., to air on NBC. Game six is scheduled to be back in Tampa, May 9, but game seven is scheduled  in D.C., May 11. Game times and networks are to be announced for the last two games.

During the regular season the Caps played Tampa, defeating them five times and losing to them once. Their biggest regular season win against the Bolts was a 6-0 win Nov. 26. The Caps have the advantage of playing on six days rest. The Bolts will have two days rest.

Caps make pursuit of Stanley Cup an annual rite of spring

April 11th, 2011

The Washington Capitals ended the regular season with a 1-0 loss to the Florida Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The Caps are now fourth-time-in-a-row Southeast Division champions. They ended the regular season with a record of 48-23-11 and with 107 points. That is the third highest point ranking in franchise history. The Caps clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year in a row. Last year, they had an early exit in the first round as they lost to the Montreal Canadiens.

The Caps are set to face the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The last time the Caps played the Rangers in the playoffs was two seasons ago. The Caps came back from a 1-3 series and beat the Rangers in game 7.

The Caps host the first two games at the Verizon Center Wednesday, April 13 and Friday April 15. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. April 16, the Rangers host the nationally televised third game at 3 p.m. in Madison Square Garden. NBC will broadcast Saturday’s afternoon game. All evening games will air on TSN and Versus. The fourth game, Sunday April 17, puck drop is 7 p.m. on Garden ice.

Some other stats this season: the Caps gave up 197 goals, as they scored 224. They were 25-8-8 at the Verizon Center this season and 23-15-3 away from home ice.

The Caps leader in goals, assists, and points is, of course, “The Great 8” Alexander Ovechkin who had 32 goals, 53 assists, and 85 points. He also netted 11 game winners on the season. Also, the Caps had three 20-goal scorers. Those included Ovechkin (32), Alexander Semin (28), and Mike Knuble (24).

The Caps look to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bulldogs nip Panthers and Huskies chomp Bearcats

March 20th, 2011

After Thursday’s 72-70 buzzer beating win over Old Dominion, Butler had another crazy finish against top-seeded Pittsburgh Saturday night. Butler hit the go ahead lay up with just eight seconds left. That put Butler up 70-69. As Pitt was driving down the court, Shelvin Mack of Butler fouled Gilbert Mack to send Pittsburgh to the line for two shots. Panther Nasir Robinson made the first free throw to tie it at 70, but missed the go ahead free throw. As Butler grabbed the final rebound, Matt Howard threw the ball up for a desperation full court shot but got fouled with .8 seconds left. Howard made one free throw and eighth-seeded Butler defeated the number one ranked Pittsburgh, 71-70, in a crazy ending at the Verizon Center. Shelvin Mack was the leading scorer for Butler and the overall leading scorer with 30 points. Even with the loss, Pittsburgh was blazing from the field shooting 56.6 percent. The final plays with the fouls were judgment calls by the officials. Judgment calls are not be reviewable.

Panther head coach Jamie Dixon said after the game, “Obviously for us it was—we’ve had a few losses this year, not a lot, but they’ve all been disappointing. This is a disappointing loss for us.”

Brad Steven, Butler’s head coach said, “I just heard Jamie and one of the things that is very clear and needs to be made very clear is we’re not a better basketball team than Old Dominion or Pittsburgh. We just had the ball last. And I think that’s just what happens sometimes, [when] you have two really good basketball teams that are very evenly matched. And he’s a heck of a basketball coach. Those kids played really hard. They were really hard to stop we couldn’t guard them.

“And you talk about the last sequences, and I said this on CBS, you hate to see a game end that way. But I asked Shelvin, did he think he fouled him, and he thought he fouled him and Matt thought he got fouled. So that was the way the game ended.” 

Butler now goes to play in the Sweet Sixteen against Wisconsin on Thursday in New Orleans.

The final game of the Verizon Center rounds featured Connecticut and Cincinnati. This game started just before 10 p.m. Saturday. UConn beat Cinci, 69-58, and advances to play San Diego State in the Sweet Sixteen in Anaheim, Calif.

After the game YDC asked senior Rashad Bishop what it was like playing his final game for Cinci. He said, “It’s tough. I had a great career. I had a lot of fun with the guys I played with, and it was real fun. These guys—we all worked hard all four years. We just gave everything we had and I’m proud of everybody. We’re disappointed we didn’t win, but we’re all proud for what we accomplished this year.”

YDC then asked winning head coach Jim Calhoun of UConn if his team had any fatigue due to starting at 10 p.m. “I’m fatigued. It’s past my bedtime,” he said. Adding, “No. But I mean, in all candor, there’s something about playing, especially when you’re successful. If you’re going through a losing streak or something, you’re winning, and every time in seven straight for us against good teams on big stages, that’s adrenaline. That feeds you.”