Lijit Ad Wijit

Monday, May 31, 2010

Speculation on Burke's staff / Burrell semi-update / Mount marriages

As far as I can tell, Mount basketball head coach Robert Burke is close to officially naming the rest of his staff. What we already  know is that Matt Henry, the former director of basketball operations at Georgetown, is on staff and has already been at work in the office. We also know that Sam Atupem is on staff in some form for the time being. On the camp brochures littered around the ARCC earlier this month, Atupem was listed as the contact person for sign-ups.

That leaves two positions remaining, which may have already been filled. It is possible that Burke already has his men and just has not taken the time to announce them, but allow me to speculate anyway.

There are two important items to consider and both point to June 1 as an important date. June 1, for one, is the date at which all of the staff from the Milan Brown era will no longer be on payroll at the Mount. Despite being formally announced as assistants as Holy Cross, not everyone from Brown's staff - Brion Dunlap, Kevin Robinson Jr. and Dan Engelstad - are off the books in Emmitsburg yet.

The second important tie to June 1, and one that has been mentioned here before, is the fact that it is the date when summer classes begin for undergraduate classes at Mount St. Mary's, and the date that Burke stated in his introductory press conference that he hoped to have named at least some of his staff to begin getting acclimated with the players. With Henry and Atupem already in place, he may have satisfied that goal in his mind and be in no rush to fill the final two positions. But I would still think that Burke is taking a "sooner the better" approach and will name his assistants very soon.

As recently as last week interviews were still being conducted to fill the final two spots. Additionally, some of the candidates, if not all, had been given game film from past Mount St. Mary's games and asked to scout both the Mount and the opponent for that game, then to send the scout back to Burke.

Now comes perhaps the most interesting information regarding the salary of these assistants. I will preface this information by saying that we do not know which two positions the remaining candidates are competing for (i.e. first assistant, second assistant, third assistant) because those positions may no longer exist at the Mount. What I mean is that the assistants may not be tiered - the three assistants under Burke could all be on the same level salary-wise.

There was either a clause in Burke's contract or a bit of finagling in the aftermath that granted him a pool of money - rumored to be a sum of $145,000 - $160,000 - that he will be allowed to split up as he chooses - in this case evenly - among his staff. The benefit I see to this is that he can offer three positions with respectable pay and have a relatively deeper staff as opposed to going strong for a proven first assistant, recruiting an up-and-comer for second and hoping to get lucky with a third (you know, in case a recent Duke point guard applies. Or something like that.)

Last I heard, which was before the holiday weekend, there were at least four candidates still fighting for the final two spots. Greg Paulus, of course, was still in the running. So was Duane Simpkins, an early-1990s player at Maryland and now three years into his head coaching job at St. Alban's High School in Washington D.C. A third nominee is Ahmad Dorsett, who is an assistant at Bowie State. And the final candidate of which I have knowledge is Harold Juluke, an assistant at Tulane.

Obviously I'm rooting for Paulus, but I don't know much about the remaining three candidates other than what I can find on the Internet. The only person who has been personally vouched for to me is Dorsett. I like the thoroughness that the process is undergoing and expect to see an announcement in the near future. If I hear anything I'll be sure to post it here.


I'm even less confident in our ability to retain Justin Burrell than I was before. In addition to the hear-say that has been passed along, there is this:

Burrell was granted a partial release from the Mount weeks ago. Essentially this means that he can re-open his recruiting under the standard rules for every other school in the nation, except for the Mount. Because of the partial, and not full, release, Burke and his staff can still contact Burrell as much as they want as if he is still signed with the team, but he's not.

Considering the Mount has full access to the one-time top-priority recruit turned prized-signee turned more-urgent-than-ever-top-priority-recruit and he still hasn't re-committed to the Mount is troubling. If he isn't announced to be back with the Mount soon (as in two weeks ago) I would expect a school in a conference that is a level above the NEC's tier (AKA the bottom tier) to scoop him up with a late scholarship opening. And if he does not get any offers he likes in the near future he could just as easily enroll in prep school and potentially boost his stock even higher next year.


Congrats to two Mount alumni on their recent marriages. Former Mount basketball player and current William & Mary assistant Jamion Christian was recently married in Hawaii while former Mount golfer turned head coach of the same team, Kevin Farrell, was married on campus Saturday and is spending his honeymoon in Puerto Rico this week.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Former MU post Travis Taylor could join Rice at Rutgers

As was reported on Monmouth's athletics Web site, rising junior forward Travis Taylor will be leaving the Hawks in order to "further enhance his chances of playing in the NBA" as Monmouth coach Dave Calloway stated in the blog.

Taylor, who, along with Quinnipiac's reigning player of the year, Justin Rutty, was probably going to be the most proven returning post in the Northeast Conference thus far (the Mount's Raven Barber will undoubtedly be in that category after this season), was suspended for seven games last season for undisclosed reasons. I have two sources at Monmouth who told me when the incident was fresh last year, what exactly the violation was. It was not a trivial one and I'll leave it at that.

These same Monmouth connects also tell me what a Monmouth blog is already reporting today - that Taylor could be joining former Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice at Rutgers. This would be a very interesting reunion and Taylor would likely garner a lot of playing time for two reasons: 1. By Big East standards, Rutgers sucks (but probably not for long). So he shouldn't have to work as hard to climb up the depth chart as he would at say, Syracuse or Villanova. 2. Rice knows him well and wouldn't bring Taylor in unless he knew he could use him.

So by all accounts, it seems very likely that Taylor will be heading to Rutgers, although I feel bad for him if someone told him he's an NBA prospect. I'm sure he has a future in professional basketball, but not on this country's biggest stage.

As Calloway is in his contract year and has now lost the graduated Whitney Coleman, the transferring Taylor, as well as Dutch Gaitley and George Barbour, who both quit the team, you could definitely say he is on the hot seat. There was speculation that he would be fired at the end of last season if the Hawks did not win a game in the NEC tournament - they didn't - but just before the quarterfinals tipped off Monmouth's athletic director gave him a vote of confidence that he would not be let go.

With all that has gone on since then coupled with last year's turmoil and the fact that the school pumped millions of dollars into a beautiful new arena, Calloway would likely need a run deep into March to stick around if he's not given the hook before then.

They only disappointing twist in this story from a drama standpoint is that Taylor will have to redshirt the coming season season, and therefore will not be able to suit up for the Rutgers @ Monmouth matchup that will take place in the coming season. In my senior year (two years ago) and third year playing for the Mount men's golf team, Calloway was the starter on the first hole of the Monmouth Invitational, and that's when he told me that they would be playing Seton Hall in the opening season of the arena (last year) and Rutgers the next (the coming season.) I'm sure this is common knowledge around West Long Branch, N.J., but since I can't find it officially printed anywhere I thought I'd let you know where I heard that.

A New York Post story on Taylor from 1/9/10

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now Hiring: Kevin Jones ... Former walk-on has sights on coaching career

Kevin Jones - Mount Basketball Class of 2010
Hometown: Gloucester City, N.J.
Major: History
Minor: Sociology

Jones, a three-year walk-on member of the Mount men's basketball team, has not lost his passion for the game since his senior season ended. Although he will begin working for a financial firm this week, his dream is to be a basketball coach.

"I’ve been going to interviews and I just got a job at Wells Fargo," said Jones, who started his job based in Sewell, N.J., this week.

But Jones said the financial gig is just intended to earn money until he can pursue a coaching career.

"Eventually I hope to become a coach. That’s really like my first passion but as of right now I just got this job so I’m just kinda trying to do something to make a little bit of money," Jones said. "That’s my passion ... I want to eventually be a college coach."

Jones says that his dream would be to become an NCAA Division I head coach, although he acknowledged how difficult of a climb that would be.

"That’s not easy to do but I want to be in the coaching business; that’s my dream job and hopefully I can be a head coach in Division I," Jones stated. "It would be cool to come back to the Mount and coach, but definitely somewhere [NCAA] Division I basketball. I would say that in the next 10 years that would probably be my ultimate goal to be coaching somewhere in Division I basketball. It would always be nice to go back to your alma mater."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

UPDATED 3:02 p.m.: BREAKING: Alvis, devastated, fired as Mount softball coach


Larry Alvis has been fired as head coach of the Mount St. Mary's softball team, and confirmed as much in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Alvis says the he was notified Tuesday that he would no longer be the coach at the Mount, but did not want to offer too many details on the process as he still hopes to retain his position.

"I’m shocked and devastated, yes. That’s the best words I can come up with. I don’t feel I did anything to deserve this," Alvis said. "I want to coach at Mount St. Mary’s. I thought I had the program going in a good direction. I don’t know if I have a chance of staying at the Mount but I would want to stay at the Mount. I don’t want to leave; I want to finish what I started. I would hope I would have some support."

According to a source familiar with the situation, Alvis was likely ousted by some members of the departing senior class as well as some anonymous letters sent to the school's administration, which Alvis also spoke about briefly.

"I’m not sure what the benefit of anonymous letters can [be to] anybody," Alvis said.

The source said that multiple players quit the team near the end of the season and that many of the class of 2010 team members gave negative reviews of Alvis in their exit interviews. The underclassmen, however, were surprised to learn of Alvis's firing and do not all share the same feelings as the seniors, according to the source. Alvis can only hope that this is true.

"I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything to harm anybody. They’re not accusing me of doing anything devastating," Alvis said. "Just ask my players I think they know."

Alvis sent the returning players a text message around noon Wednesday confirming to them that he had been released.

"This is hard for me to write but I’m no longer your coach at the Mount. If you have any questions call me," read the text message from Alvis.

Audibly shook and at a loss for words, Alvis expressed great remorse over the decision and hopes he has the chance to tell his side of the story.

"I was told that it possibly came out of [President Thomas H. Powell's] office. Well I think if the president’s heard some negative things I think the president should hear the positive side, too. Don’t listen to one side of the story and go from there. I believe there’s always two sides to a story," Alvis stated. "I haven’t seen anything yet in writing that tells me that I can’t address what’s my side. It just doesn’t seem right. I feel like I’m being – I love that job. I love working with the young ladies. This ain’t easy.

"I’m trying to figure out my method for what do I do at this point? I don’t want to leave Mount softball. I wish they would reconsider. I don’t want to leave."

The source also stated that after the school's administration received negative reviews on Alvis from the senior class, none of the underclassmen were asked their opinion on whatever allegations were levied against Alvis.

One returning player, speaking off the record, went as far as to defend Alvis on Wednesday:

"I don’t think he should have been fired," the played said.

Alvis also suspects that some of the aspects of the program that he inherited, as well as the impossibility of keeping everyone on the team happy, contributed to his release.

"You got to do what you got to do to keep the program going. And I feel like that’s part of what’s haunting me still is what I inherited and the weeding out process, so to speak. It takes time to get kids," Alvis said. "I don’t know how you can keep everybody happy. I feel like I’m being held accountable of keeping everybody happy and I don’t know how that’s possible. If you’re carrying 22 players, nine of them play. How many does that make that’s going to be unhappy? You do the best you can … but you try to win games also"

This season's team had a record of 25-25 overall including a 7-12 mark in Northeast Conference play, putting the team in seventh place out of 11 in the standings. After beginning the year 7-1 including a tournament championship at the UNC-Wilmington Seahawk Classic, the team stumbled to an 18-24 finish including losses in 11 of its last 15 games.

Rising junior Lizz Christiansen led this year's squad with single-season program records of 11 home runs and 50 RBI. She was also named the NEC's Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-NEC selection along with class of 2010 third baseman Amanda Buckel, while Christiansen's classmate Taylor Beebe earned second-team honors at shortstop.

An injury to ace pitcher Nicole Pagano hampered the team as well. The freshman, who had surgery mid-season, began the year 4-1 with a 1.20 earned-run average in five starts including one shutout.

In six years Alvis compiled a 109-175 record in six seasons as head coach. In 2006 - his second season at the Mount - the team went 31-25 and qualified for the NEC tournament for the first time since 1998, earning Alvis NEC Coach of the Year honors.

"I stand on my record – fastest coach to get to 100 wins, right? The program’s got the most wins it’s ever had under my tenure [in 2006]," Alvis said. "I was very proud of what those young ladies [who made All-NEC] did and two of them are coming back. I must be reaching some of them, right? ... I’m not the coach [anymore] but I’d like to be the coach."

Before coming to the Mount, Alvis served as an assistant for the softball team at his alma mater, UMBC.


An excerpt from an e-mail sent at 1:37 p.m. Wednesday to the Mount softball players from Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson:

"Dear Members of the Mount St. Mary’s University Softball Team:

I am writing to inform you that Coach Larry Alvis will not be returning to Mount St. Mary’s as our head softball coach next season.

While we are grateful to Coach Alvis for his six years of dedicated service to the Mount, we will now begin the process of finding a new head coach. Our goal is to have a new coach hired by August 1st."

Now Hiring: Will Holland ... Former guard works to land pro contract

Will Holland - Mount Basketball Class of 2010
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Major: Sports Management
Minor: Business

Holland, who was a starter on the Mount's 2008 Northeast Conference championship team, just finished a multi-day quasi-tryout in San Antonio in hopes of getting picked up to play basketball professionally. Although the camp in which he participated was primarily for a Korean league scout to recruit American posts, Holland says there is a chance he could be signed as well.

"Since Friday I’ve been in San Antonio, I just got back [Tuesday]. I’ve been working out and then I had kind of like a tryout," Holland said. "There was a scout there, he scouts for the Korean league, and he scouts for a league in Australia and the NBA D-League. He was there checking out some people so I’ve been over there since Friday working out with them.

"It was mainly like a big man camp. They had some Korean coaches. All they look for is big men, like American big men. But the scout … they go off the dude’s word," added Holland, who played shooting guard and small forward throughout his career.

Although Holland said he would be grateful to earn a pro contract anywhere at this point, he does have some preferences.

"If I had to pick some place overseas, I don’t know, I think Italy might be nice. Somewhere where they spoke some English of some sort," said Holland, who would like the chance to play in America on some level more than he would want to take a trip to another country.

"My dream would be to play here – anywhere in America. Maybe [the NBA D-League] like the first year or two. Pay wouldn’t be better but being here would probably be better … Then there’s always the chance of getting called up [to the NBA]. You could definitely get some money for that."

If he does not receive a contract offer by the beginning of the fall, though, Holland is prepared to go on a job hunt.

"If I don’t have an offer by August or September I guess I’ll start looking [for a job]," Holland said. "[No one's going to hire] a 30-year-old with no experience, let alone a 22-year-old with no experience."

Of course the NBA would be Holland's ultimate goal, but he realizes how lofty that dream is and would relish any further opportunity to play basketball.

"I’d like to play in the NBA – that’d be my dream," Holland said. "I’m trying to play somewhere, anywhere really."

Check back tomorrow for an update on class of 2010 graduate Kevin Jones.

Friday, May 21, 2010

UPDATED: Softball finally getting its backstop

UPDATE: 5/27/10 - 3:09 p.m.

Thanks to the anonymous poster who pointed out - correctly - that the net displayed here is in fact the one being used for the season. There will be no replacement. The fact remains that the backstop was not complete in time for the season.

More importantly, though, I was wrong in stating that the team would still be waiting on a new net/backstop. This is the correct one. The bleachers, which now look just about finished on campus, are a new addition.


The Mount softball team, which played an entire season without a permanent backstop - some poles with a net (seen below) were used - should not have to wait much longer for a permanent fixture behind home plate.

These images were taken Thursday afternoon outside the ARCC:

It appears there will be some permanent seating as well, other than the bleachers that usually sit on the side of the hill. I'm not sure how closely the setup will resemble the one at the baseball team's E.T. Straw Family stadium but it is already shaping up to be a significant upgrade from what the team had in the past, and certainly what it had for the 2010 season.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BREAKING: Paulus seen on campus for interview

Greg Paulus is in fact interested in coaching at Mount St. Mary's. So much so that he was seen interviewing with coach Robert Burke on campus Thursday.

As Burke has filled his first and second coaching posts and the third vacant with the possibility of adding an additional position, Paulus is likely pursuing the third assistant position as that is the only traditional coaching position still open.

Expect to see Burke use his Georgetown ties to fill one of the top two slots on his staff.

As for Paulus, the former Duke point guard would be a great addition to the Mount staff. Although it is somewhat perplexing that Paulus would pursue a job that carries a salary likely less than $30,000 - and probably closer to $20,000 - instead of making at least three times that much overseas, it would be the Mount's good fortune.

As I mentioned in the post speculating that Paulus may still be interested in coaching at the Mount, he would bring great recognition to the program. It is unlikely that he would stay around for more than two seasons, and possibly one, but Burke and the school should do everything it can to exploit his name if he is hired - and there is no reason to believe that he will not be.

He surely would be a great recruiter with a keen recognition of skilled, intelligent basketball players. Additionally, he would replace former third assistant Dan Engelstad as the youngest assistant who can most easily relate to the players as he is fresh out of his playing days. (Sam Atupem would fill that role as well if he is hired on Burke's staff in some form.)

Rest assured that the Mount would be nothing but a stepping stone for Paulus (as well as for Burke and the rest of his staff at some point), but while he is likely ours, we must make the most of it. Since all but one member of Burke's staff is in place, look for an official announcement within the next week, if not by the end of the month, on just whom he has hired. As a diehard Maryland fan during my childhood it pains me to say this, but I will be more than happy to see Paulus on the sidelines in Knott Arena.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Christian not in running as assistant, but is Greg Paulus?

A good Christian, but not for the Mount - yet

As coach  Robert Burke looks to fill his vacant assistant positions, we know one man who will not be on staff - Jamion Christian.

The class of 2004 Mount graduate says that while he would love the chance to return to Emmitsburg some day, he would only do so as head coach and is not interested in applying for the position of first assistant.

"I wouldn’t go for the first assistant job, no disrespect to coach Burke, but my goal is to be a head coach at Mount St. Mary’s one day or be a head coach at some level at some place," Christian said via telephone during the weekend.

The 28-year-old second assistant at the College of William & Mary described his interview process with the Mount as very positive, but does not see any scenario in which he would be on coach Burke's staff.

"Honestly I think coach Burke will do a great job, I truly believe that. But I think we’ve got something truly special going on here that I’d really only leave to be a head coach somewhere," Christian added.

The former rhetoric and communications major at the Mount describes his job at William & Mary as the ideal fit for him until he is offered the right head coaching position.

"I got a great job, man. I’m sitting here in Williamsburg right now, I have a business call at 2:15, I’m about to have a quick lunch with my fiancĂ©, coach Shaver's a great guy to work for and I’m learning a ton of basketball," Christian stated. "I recruit the best area in the country; D.C., Maryland, Virginia. I’m at a pretty good place right now and the best thing about it is that I hold my future in my hands."

With Christian's quick ascension from an assistant at NCAA Division III Emory and Henry College in Virginia, to director of basketball operations at Bucknell, and now second assistant with the Tribe, the former three-year captain at the Mount under coach Jim Phelan looks well on his way to a head position somewhere.

"If we beat Carolina [in the first round of the NIT] maybe I’m sitting up there with you today," Christian said.

But I got the sense from our conversation that his ambition will not make him wait much longer for his opportunity.


Paulus at the Mount?

It is a long shot, but could we see former Duke point guard and, more recently, Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus on staff at the Mount?

Paulus was in contact with a candidate other than Robert Burke about coming on staff with the Mount if that candidate landed the position.

The former No. 1 high school football recruit in the nation from Syracuse, N.Y. (and 2004 Gatorade High School football player of the year), used his fifth year of NCAA athletics eligibility to quarterback the Orange this season before more recently heading off to rookie minicamp with the New Orleans Saints.

According to various outlets, however, Paulus was not offered a contract to remain with the team. This could open the door for his quest to return to college basketball as a coach.

It is unclear whether Paulus was specifically tied to the original candidate whom he contacted, or if he was solely interested at getting started at the Mount. Whatever the scenario, he would be a great addition to the Mount program for various reasons: He played for arguably the best college coach in the game if not the best of all time behind John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski; he would bring instant recognition to the program via media and fans as a former nationally-recognized player; and he would be a big draw for recruits, bringing with him ties of some form to the New York state as well as Durham area.


My blog I just wrote for the Frederick News-Post re: coach Burke should be up at some point today at this link:

More looking back on the coaching search in the coming days.

And today is my birthday so I'm off to Pylesville to get some homemade stromboli from my mom. Thanks for reading and I'm still jobless.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Men's lacrosse is the favorite son in Emmitsburg (or should be)

Men’s basketball is no longer the top priority in the Mount St. Mary’s athletic department. At least it should not be.

The men’s lacrosse team, and to some degree, the women’s lacrosse team, need to be the big boys (and girls) on campus.

That does not mean the basketball teams should be neglected, nor should they receive any less attention or funding than they do now (in fact an increase in both would be fine), but they cannot be the top priority.

Not with Tom Gravante’s men’s laxers coming off of what is probably the best season in school history. School record 12 wins, second-ever NCAA tournament appearance, defeated two nationally ranked teams – both on the road, and best of all, almost all of the team’s big guns are coming back next year.

If there were ever a chance for a sport at the Mount to be nationally ranked in the NCAA Division I era, this is it. The men’s lacrosse team was this close to being ranked this year after beating No. 19 Robert Morris, and if it had followed up a win at No. 10 Lafayette with a win against No. 11 Georgetown, it would have been a top 15 team.

Alas the men fell to Georgetown 11-6 – it was the Mount’s fourth game in 11 days, three of which were on the road, and just three days before a game in Detroit for which they would have to fly – and the pollsters stopped voting for the Mountaineers, who were three spots from the top 20 the week before playing Lafayette and Georgetown.

After going nearly unblemished in MAAC play (and eventually avenging the only loss to Siena in the MAAC championship) the men showed that their early season victories were no fluke.

We already have a wonderful stadium, brand new locker rooms and coaches we want to keep around in both the men’s and women’s programs. Now we need some capital.

Gravante stated last week that he believes the team has won five MAAC titles since he’s been here even though only two of them qualified the team for the NCAA tournament. As for the women, Sonia LaMonica kept the women’s team afloat this year with a shorthanded roster in her first season as head coach.

LaMonica is better known, however, for her work ethic and uncompromisingly high standards she sets for her players, who love her.

And for the first time this season, both teams had two paid assistants who received a stipend. Next year, however, one of those assistants will become full-time for both teams. Let’s make it worthwhile. I’m not talking a $10,000 salary for each team’s full-time assistant and a $5,000 stipend for the other one.

Pony up the cash, Tommy P (our president). Twenty-thousand dollars should be the absolute minimum we’re willing to pay a full-time assistant to coach any of the sports here, let alone some of our most successful. Both teams have capable assistants in place, so why scare them away with an insulting salary when they will need to work for full-time pay at some point? Let’s give them an offer they would have some trouble refusing, and if they do, we’ll be paying enough to bring in a capable successor.

(Or did we not learn our lesson with Denise Wescott? I mean, we got lucky with LaMonica, but really, how many bullets can we dodge? Just because we're a Catholic school doesn't mean God is going to throw us a lifeline every time stupid athletic decisions are made. Oh yeah, see ya later, coach Brown and staff. You get the point. Right? You know who I'm talking to and it's not Lynne Robinson.)

Maryland is the hotbed for lacrosse – how lucky we are to reside in the state that is home to the best prep lacrosse in the country (sorry, New York). It would be foolish to run a program that many of the Maryland high school players would consider second-tier.

With all that being said, I can guarantee you that Tom Gravante never wins another MAAC championship for as long as he coaches at the Mount.

That’s because the Mount is joining the NEC next year, making every sport at the Mount a member of the NEC. While that may not seem like a big deal, the NEC will operate with teams that have been uncapped for quite some time while the MAAC just recently became uncapped. What I mean by that is that until recently, MAAC members were only allowed to give out a capped number of scholarships regardless of how much money each school had to offer recruits. Each year that number increased by two scholarships until it recently allowed its members to grant the NCAA maximum of 12.6 scholarships to each school. Unfortunately, the Mount never got the memo and still caps itself. (Take that in as many ways in which you can interpret it.)

There will be no such lag in the NEC and many of the teams the Mount will be joining – such as well-heeled Bryant in Sacred heart – in that conference have been operating under a full budget for years.

The Mount, however, only has four scholarships to give, according to Gravante. That’s the same as Wagner, which has a 2-74 in its last five seasons including going 0-45 from 2006 – 2008.

Gravante is doing a lot with a little and has been for years. He could accept a Wagner performance to match his Wagner budget, but he doesn’t.

Of course the Mount has had down years, but that is to be expected with this shoestring budget. If we want to compete on a consistent basis, we’re going to need more cash. Like 8.6 scholarships and $25,000-plus for a full-time assistant – times two (to cover both programs.)

Like someone rich always said; scared money don’t make money. It’s time for the Mount to stop being scared. Although there’s probably a better chance this administration will take the statue of Mary off the mountain before it starts investing some serious money into athletics.
If it does not act soon, this window of opportunity will close. Focusing just on the men’s team, the future could not be brighter. (The women and their not-bad-looking head coach are more than welcome to tag along for the ride, and any other activities for which they wish to tag along.)

First of all, junior goalie T.C. DiBartolo needs a nickname. I’m thinking Barnum, Bailey or both. The man is a circus act inside the crease and best of all, the team MVP is back next year.

So are offensive stalwarts Brett and Bryant Schmidt (the BB guns?), Cody can’t-decode-me Lehrer – fourth in the nation in goals per game this season, even without a goal in his final two games – Andrew “Agent Zeros” Scalley (he scored the MAAC championship winner with zeros on the clock, a buzzer beater. You can’t think of anything better so stop making fun of these nicknames), Ben “Bear” Trapp (because he wins so many faceoffs, it’s like he gets the ball in a bear trap and won’t let it go) and a slew of other important players are all coming back.

Thanks for everything, Matt Nealis, Russell Moncure, Drew Dunn, Jim O’Shea and all the other seniors. You will be missed. But hopefully not too much.

At least not if the Mount does what any sensible school would do and invests in the one program that has glimmering hope to become a national power.

All eyes are not on us – but they could be. What are we going to do about it? What are you, Mount administration, going to do about it? (It's not a rhetorical question.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

UPDATE: FitzSimons keeps it rolling downhill, wins IC4As

UPDATED 11 p.m. with quotations.

Tom FitzSimons Jr. is at it again. Less than a month after capturing a gold watch in the decathlon at the prestigious Penn Relay championships, the Mount redshirt sophomore has taken home the same title at the IC4A's today. Seeded third coming into the meet he had two goals for the weekend:

“All intentions going in there were to win the meet … [and] score enough points to get to nationals," FitzSimons said by telephone in his hotel room near Princeton, N.J., on Saturday night. "I only got one. So it’s obviously not bad but it’s definitely motivation next year."

After posting the fastest time of 4 minutes, 28.07 seconds in the competition's final event - the 1,500 meters - his point total of 7,195 points put him 132 of Geren Woodbridge of Liberty. FitzSimons also won the javelin with a throw of 55.42 meters - 7.52 meters farther than anyone besides Woodbridge. But it was U-Conn's Aaron King who was the only competitor ahead of FitzSimons heading into the final event.

“I got the score sheet after nine events, that’s the javelin and I was in second place to Aaron King of U-Conn. And I saw I was down 68 points and I know he’s not a good 1,500 runner at all," said FitzSimons, who noted that each second difference is worth seven points in the decathlon's final event.

"Basically I needed to beat him by 10 seconds. I knew it was possible, I knew it was going to happen. I was just getting nervous … for the race itself," said FitzSimons, who demolished King by 40.82 seconds. "Then I just couldn’t let anyone else beat me so I won the whole 1,500 and beat him by more than 10 seconds.”

Typical Tom, deciding to leave the rest of the field in the dust for good measure even though the title was already his. In fact, FitzSimons won the final two events on this day, further solidifying his reputation as a strong finisher with a big heart.

Crossing the finish line knowing the event was already won has become a familiar feeling for FitzSimons in the last month.

“I had my brother and [teammate] Tim Nickas yelling at me how far I had and they told me about 200 meters so I kind of knew I had it," he said. "And then I crossed the line, put my hands up, turned around and saw the kid [King] had like about 210 meters and obviously no one’s running 210 meters in 10 seconds.”

Known for his unparalleled work ethic (go to page 19 of this link's newspaper and read about the kid's dedication), FitzSimons has overcome a yearlong nagging foot injury this spring season that forced him to sit out last spring's outdoor season as well as this winter's indoor season. Fortunately, though he says he has never felt better after the spring season than he does now.

“I’m a little sore right now from these two days but other than that I’m good, I’m fine. Going into the summer healthy for first time in college. I’m healthy, I’m excited. I’m going to take my little maybe two-and-a-half, three-week break, come back for the summer and work to get to nationals next year,” FitzSimons stated.

Unfortunately the dream of nationals will not be realized this year as he estimates himself to have posted around the 35th best decathlon score in the nation thus far in the spring, while only the top 24 qualify. As he put it: “Unless 10 people scratch I’m not in."

The injury that granted him an extra year of eligibility may have been a blessing in disguise, though, as FitzSimons has already made his mark this spring and still has two years of eligibility remaining. His dream of being an All-American suddenly looks within reach by the time his college career ends. But this humble decathlete knows that it takes more than his own efforts to maximize his potential.

"I thought I had a shot this year [to make nationals] and still never been," he said. "I’ll be thinking about that for awhile … I had teammates showing up, teammates cheering from the side, teammates calling out numbers and times and marks and it was a team effort."

To know Tom, though, is to realize that all he really wants to do is perform his best. Props to the young man from Hamden, Conn., for doing just that yet again.