Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Butler stories for my multi-media project last month.. more coming…

Ronald Nored:

Making it to the NCAA men’s Final Four is no easy feat, but Butler managed to do it.

“I was thinking this is right where we should be,” number one, Ronald Nored, says. “No matter what others thought or imagined about how the tournament would play out, we knew that we could get there. So just being there was like being in the right place.”

Showing up to a stadium filled with fans, students and national media was nothing like they had seen before in such a large perspective.

“The fans made this experience what it was for sure,” says Nored. “It would not have been as fun if no one showed up; thank goodness the complete opposite happened.”

Nored was blown away. “I was subject to chills we ran out because it was a dream come true,” he says.

“That goes back to how much support the state and city showed us for what we had accomplish not just in those tournament games previous to the final four but for what we had been doing all season long,” Nored says of seeing all the fans show up to support the team for the rally.

As for looking back on the season, he thinks there is nothing he would change. “I’m not sure I would change anything,” he says.

“I think everything happens for a reason and losses and things happen throughout the season so that you can learn, improve, and build on them. I would have loved to win the national championship, but sometimes you realize it’s not always ALL about basketball.”

Brad Stevens:

Always the voice of reason, the coach is meant to be a figure the players look up to. Brad Stevens, coach of the Butler Bulldogs, does just that.

At just 33 years old, he has accomplished what many coaches wish they could have in their whole careers, make it to the NCAA men’s finals, even better, in their school’s hometown. Walking into Lucas Oil Stadium for the final game against Duke was surreal he recalls.

“It was amazing,” Stevens says. “As a coach you don’t pay attention to crowd noise, because you’re focused on the game.  But it was an unbelievable environment from the moment you walked in the arena, one that none of us will ever forget.”

Even though the night ended in a loss, it was a fairytale story. The Indianapolis hometown heroes coming one shot away from a national title.

Focusing on next season, Stevens says they will focus on whatever is needed to put their personnel in the right position to be successful.  “We’re not looking to make big changes, but we want to utilize to the strengths of each player,” he says.

As the fan base increased for the team all season, next season will be no different. They were thrust into the national spotlight and plan to show off even more talent next season.

Everyone wants a piece of the team it seems. “We’re always trying to get out in the community and be active,” Stevens says. “Certainly, we have to manage those requests, because we’re getting more and more.  First and foremost, I think the thing our guys can do is continue to play hard, be great students and continue to act right off the court, and if we do those things, I think the community will continue to embrace us.”

Shelvin Mack:

A once in a lifetime opportunity came knocking at the door.  Shelvin Mack, a sophomore at Butler University, has done nothing but win all season. Starting all 32 games as a freshman, Mack helped the Butler Bulldogs win 26 games. He started all 37 games this season.

He knew he wanted to go to a school that should showcase his talent he says.

“There’s not a lot I would do different,” he says. “We certainly would have like to have won some of those early season games that we lost, but we were playing great teams.  It was a special season from start to finish.”

Special it was, as the young underdog team beat Syracuse University in the Elite 8 in the NCAA men’s tournament to make it to the Final Four, held in Indianapolis.

On the plane ride home from Salt Lake City, Mack says, “At first I couldn’t believe it.”

“That was something you always dream about, but knowing that we were really going to the Final Four just seemed surreal,” he continues. “The flight back from Salt Lake City was just the greatest time, celebrating with teammates, fellow students and fans.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many smiles in one place.”

Having hometown advantage made the whole experience better he says. “While we had never played in Lucas Oil Stadium before, we still were in familiar surroundings and we were able to keep to a somewhat normal routine,” Mack says. “And the fan support was tremendous everywhere we went.  It really made us want to play that much harder knowing all those people were pulling for us.

Over 40,000 people showed up to the rally on Saturday to support Butler in their game against Michigan State in the Final Four, the team was blown away at the support the city, state and the fans had for them.

“It really started to put into perspective the magnitude of what we had done,” he says.

Home Sweet Home

 

Provided by ESPN

By Kyle Walke

Back home again in Indiana, and it seems that I can see, the gleaming candlelight, still burning bright, as the Butler Bulldogs make their first final four appearance in school history.  Maybe those aren’t the right lyrics, but I’m sure Jim Nabors won’t mind and I guarantee neither does coach Brad Stevens.  

Butler has earned the right to play in their own backyard with the ultimate home court advantage when they face Michigan State on Saturday.  Butler campus is precisely 5.7 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium where the next round of March madness (and this year has been madness) will take place.

“It’s just very special,” Butler forward Gordon Hayward said. “It would be special anywhere we went, but the fact we get to play in front of our home crowd kind of makes it a little more special.”

As a five seed many people have dubbed Butler as a true Cinderella Hoosiers story, a description hard to dismiss considering the movie “Hoosiers” was filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

However, these bulldogs have more bite than bark.  Led by an even keeled Stevens, Butler has now managed to control top tier teams such as Syracuse and Kansas State.  When facing one seed Syracuse, Butler led virtually the entire game until 5:23 left when Syracuse took a 54-50 lead.  At that point the Bulldogs rallied behind Junior forward Matt Howard to retake the lead and never look back defeating the Orangemen 63-59.

Against Kansas State the story was the same.  Butler jumped out to an early lead and held strong until 3:09 remaining when Kansas State tied the score.  Although Hayward’s 22 points 9 rebounds would prove too much as Butler went on to win in convincing fashion 63-56.

It’s hard to imagine a team that’s won 24 straight games, been ranked all year long, and beaten two top seeds could possibly be an underdog.

“I don’t care about being called a Cinderella or a mid-major Stevens said.  “We don’t have resources that other teams have, and that’s just a fact. But resources don’t win games. We have a lot of guys with big hearts. Why wouldn’t you want to be called that? Why wouldn’t you want to be an overachiever?”

It’s better to describe this as a team with big hearts more than overachievers.  Most of the players are from Indiana, including stars Hayward (Brownsburg) and Howard (Connersville).  Stevens himself is an Indiana native who played basketball for Zionsville and then coached at Carmel before joining the Butler squad in 2000.  The Bulldogs may be outsized, but rarely have been outhustled. 

You can say its “Hoosiers,” you can call it karma, but these boys are primed for a chance to win an NCAA National Championship right down the street in the city they call home, Indianapolis.

Quotes from ESPN’S “Bulldogs set to be hometown heroes.”

Manning will be highest-paid player in NFL

NFL.com Wire Reports

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday that he hopes to sign quarterback Peyton Manning to a contract extension when the season ends, a move that should make the four-time NFL MVP the league’s highest-paid player.

“We know Peyton’s going to be the highest-paid player in the league,” Irsay said at Super Bowl Media Day in Miami, according to the Boston Herald. “It’s something that’ll get done. We’ll be talking in the offseason.”

Manning’s contract is set to expire after the 2010 season, but Irsay doesn’t want to wait to work out a new deal.

“With one year to go, even having the franchise tag and all that sort of thing, we’d like to get something done, sooner than later,” Irsay said, according to The Associated Press. “So once the season ends, we’re going to be talking about that and hopefully getting something done before next season begins. It’s something that’s going to get done, so honestly, those aren’t the ones you worry about.”

The first order of business for Manning and the Colts: Trying to beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday for their second Super Bowl title in the last four years.

A new deal could keep Manning in Indianapolis for the rest of his career, something Irsay would like to do.

Manning, 34, has won a record number of league MVP awards and also has one Super Bowl MVP honor. He’s one of four quarterbacks to throw for more than 50,000 yards, and he’s third all-time in career touchdown passes with 366, trailing just Brett Favre (497) and Dan Marino (420).

Manning has started 209 consecutive games, including the playoffs.

Manning signed a seven-year, $99.2 million deal with the Colts in 2004. His brother, Eli, has since signed a six-year, $97 million contract with the New York Giants, giving him a higher per-year average than his brother.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers signed a seven-year, $98.25 million contract last year.

Irsay said it’s likely Manning will regain the status that he once held as the league’s highest-paid quarterback.

“I really don’t see that having a bearing on that. I really don’t,” Irsay said. “Ideally, you know, if it’s possible, I’d like to get something done.”

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s contract also is up in 2010, and he could receive a deal similar to Manning’s.

“Those two guys are kinda tied at the hip as outstanding players,” Irsay said, according to The Herald. “Brady’s up at the same time and there’s no question that those guys are comparable in terms of what they’ll be getting paid.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Picture from http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/windy-city-rounder/2010/01/goose-picksem-playoffs-week-1.html

Pierre Garcon pleads for Haitian help as the Colts advance

By  Kyle Walke

Source: Pierre Garcon via Facebook

Indianapolis Colts receiver Pierre Garcon was a virtual unknown four months ago.  Now, he’s catching touchdowns from four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.  However within one week, Garcon’s extraordinary life has taken a major turn. On January 12th his family’s homeland of Haiti was devastated by a level 7.0 quake.  With an estimated hundreds of thousands dead, and countless more unaccounted for, Garcon’s focus has been drawn away from the playoffs and more on the safety of his relatives.

Garcon, who was born of Haitian descent, was raised in the United States, but still has family living in Haiti.  Typically upbeat with a glowing smile, Garcon seemed physically exhausted as he met the press with updates after the game.   Last Wednesday Garcon said, “I’ve heard from some family, got some good information, but were still looking for the rest of them.”  Contacting relatives has been extremely difficult due to power outages and mass displacement of people.

In a request Garcon posted this on his Twitter account, “We need the US military as soon as possible n haiti We need the four million Haitian that live out side of haiti to Act now, we need da world!”  A powerful plea from a man desperate for help, Garcon is offering autographed memorabilia for donations to the Haiti relief fund at his website: http://garconauthentic.com/.

Garcon rarely played his rookie season, but is having a standout year with 47 receptions and four touchdowns.  Coming into the playoffs the Colts were the number one seed, but they seemed to stumble to the finish line losing their last two games of the year.  In the biggest game of the Colt’s season they faced a stingy Baltimore Ravens team in the AFC Divisional game.  Up to the challenge Garcon made his presence felt with 5 catches and a potential game saving forced fumble after safety Ed Reed made an interception.

After the game Garcon celebrated the Indianapolis victory draped in the Haitian flag. Upon the national emblem in fine print reads: “L’Union Fait La Force.” ” In Union There is Strength.”  A motto fitting for both a team fighting to win it all and a country struggling to survive.

If you’d like to help, please visit Pierre’s website at http://garconauthentic.com/

Sources:

http://www.bostonherald.com/

http://flagspot.net/flags/ht.html

http://www.nfl.com/

http://twitter.com/ShowTimeP85

Colts fans howling over bar manager’s barbs

January 15, 2010
Colts fans threatening boycott after Howl at the Moon manager invites Ravens fans to come party in Indianapolis. Blue Crew thinks invite was laced with insults to Indy.

More than 24 hours before kick-off and the hostilities spewing from the Colts-Ravens game are already boiling over.

Colts’ Peyton Manning and Ravens’ Ray Lewis are not involved. But its turning out to be nasty and rancorous all the same.

Lots of the usual suspects—and a few unusual ones—are involved. That is to say, this dispute is between angry fans. And the lines of battle are blurred.

It all started earlier this week when Mike Augustinos, manager of the local downtown bar Howl at the Moon, issued an invitation to Baltimore fans to come visit his bar before, during and after the Colts-Ravens game at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.

Nothing wrong with that. After all, Augustinos is a transplant from the Baltimore area, and he has his allegiances.

But the next time he issues an invitation, he might want to consult with a public relations guru. Now he needs a crisis management cognoscente. Either way, Augustinos might want to add Myra Borshoff to his rolodex.

Augustinos put word out on Ravens Roost, a Ravens fan Web site, that Baltimore fans were welcome at Indy’s Howl at the Moon. Trouble is, in the same note, he went out of his way to say how “It sucks living in Colts Country …”

He also kindly pointed out how “horrible” the tailgate scene is in Indy. Eric Griffin, vice president of the Blue Crew, the Colts’ fan club, quickly put his own scathing note on-line, detailing the Crew’s 524-spot downtown parking lot, noting that the Blue Crew is alone among NFL fan clubs that own their own parking lot.

Apparently, Griffin thought Augustinos’ note amounted to fighting words. He wasn’t alone. Augustinos reported to police yesterday that he got several threats, and the Ravens booster apparently took them pretty seriously. OK, not even Myra can help you with that.

“You could do a Ravens promotion without [insert euphemism for dropping fecal matter] on the locals,” Griffin wrote in his note. “I hope that one game makes your annual budget.”

Yikes! Talk about fighting words. Boycott threats like that could certainly hit Howl in the pocketbook.

Augustinos and his bosses at Howl’s corporate tower in Chicago were in a spin mode Thursday that would make Dwight Freeney jealous.

Augustinos passed along a “sincere apology” in his on-line mea culpa.

“My comments never stated anything negative nor were they meant to be interpreted negatively about Colts fans,” Augustinos said in his note. “I, just the same as many of you, am passionate about my team. My comments about “horrible tailgating” were not intended to reflect negatively on the City of Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Colts, nor the fans. I made a bad choice in words when comparing Indianapolis to several other cities that I have been to for NFL games. I was only referring to the sheer size and area that which the tailgating is available takes place in.”

Again, Borshoff’s posse—with a little more carefully worded apology—might have helped kill this crisis once and for all.

But bygones, I say.

After all, Augustinos is the boss at the local Howl as he pointed out in his first letter to Ravens fans. That means he has the last say, sort of.

Bud Light’s for $2 all around on Saturday.

And it doesn’t matter what color jersey you’re wearing as long as the color of your money is green.

“Blinded by Genius”

By Kyle Walke

When one of the greatest football minds in the history of the game makes an executive decision whose there to tell him he’s wrong.  Is it an indebted rookie head coach grateful for his premier coaching position? Or is an owner that has seen his team transformed from a 1-15 nightmare to a stampeding football powerhouse.  The answer is neither.

Indianapolis Colts President and General Manager Bill Polian was “shocked” by the resentment of fans when his team decided to call it an early day in the 29-15 loss to the New York Jets. The defeat comes as the only blemish on the Colts near perfect 14-1 record.  Polian believed he had been very open and honest stating multiple times that 16-0 was not a goal and that player’s health would take center stage upon a clinched playoff scenario.

Well thought out, Polian’s reasoning seems very logical.  The idea of losing Peyton Manning in a so called meaningless game makes little sense.  However, is 16-0 truly meaningless, is the pursuit of a perfect 19-0 season meaningless?  For one to understand Polians mindset one must look at his career.  In the 1990’s Polian was the architect of a Buffalo Bills team that made it to four consecutive Superbowls but walked away emptied handed each time and became a centerpiece of ridicule for failure around the country.  Perhaps, when Polian says the only goal is to win the Superbowl, we can see why he feels so passionately.

What Polian fails to see is the perspective of not only the fans, but his players as well.  These Colts have won a Superbowl.  These Colts had a chance not just to be Superbowl winners again, but to live in immortality.  One team in the history of football comes up every year and that team is the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins. This Indianapolis Colts team deserved a chance at becoming that team.  A perfect season has meaning, it becomes historic, it becomes legendary, and those athletes become a part of the greatest team of all time.  Unfortunately, whether the Colts win or lose in the playoffs this year the debate will be focused on personnel purposely losing a game instead of fighting to win it all.