<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sat, 20 Sep 2014 20:01:14 -0400 Sat, 20 Sep 2014 20:01:14 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bears' Jared Allen on Peterson Case]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:27:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jared+allen+9-20.jpg

Chicago Bears defensive end and former Minnesota Viking, Jared Allen, spoke out about the allegations surrounding his former teammate and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

“I’ve said it all along that I have my beliefs and my opinions,” Allen said after practice Saturday, noting his focus has been on the Chicago Bears. “And that’s what they are and I live my life a certain way. I believe good people can make bad decisions. I’m not perfect so I’m not one to cast judgments on others.”

Peterson was booked and released from a Texas jail last week on a charge alleging that he spanked one of his sons with a wooden switch.

The Vikings initially decided to allow Peterson to play while the legal process plays out in Texas, the team quickly reversed course and benched Peterson indefinitely. The organization put Peterson on the exempt-commissioner's permission list, meaning he is off the active roster while he deals with his legal affairs. He was benched for last Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

“Obviously, they’ll have to deal with those circumstances,” Allen said. “Adrian and everybody [with the Vikings] will have to deal with that going forward. It’s a tough deal and it’s sad. I guess that’s my best answer. It was sad to hear.”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

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<![CDATA[Raw: Hundreds Line Up to Exchange Rice Jerseys]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:17:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ray_rice_baltimore_ravens.jpg Hundreds and hundreds of people lined up outside of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland Friday to exchange the jersey of running back Ray Rice.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tom Brady Posts Resume to Facebook]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:53:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-beard-dolphins.jpg

We always hear about having a backup plan, especially when you're professional aspirations lean towards something out of the mainstream -- like music icon, movie star or, say, future Hall of Fame NFL quarterback.

Perhaps in the most predictable development ever, Tom Brady did, in fact, have a backup plan (he always does, it seems). As his college career at Michigan was winding down, his football future seemed anything but certain. A part-time player at Michigan, there were no guarantees that life after college would include getting paid to throw footballs.

Of course, we all know how that story ends: Taken by the Patriots with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady eventually replaced Drew Bledsoe, the team'a No. 1 pick, and leads New England to three Super Bowl titles, countless double-digit-win seasons and playoff appearances.

But just in case, Brady also had his resume ready to go. On Throwback Thursday, he posted it to Facebook along with this message: "Found my old resume! Really thought I was going to need this after the 5th round."

The joke's on the 31 teams that chose not to draft him.

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<![CDATA[USF, UConn Football Have Much in Common]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:52:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/willie-taggart.jpg

The University of South Florida and UConn are separated by more than 1,200 miles but the football programs -- which will square off Friday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN have plenty in common. Namely: Both teams have new coaches trying to breathe life back into programs that at one time were in the national conversation.

Since playing in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2010 season, the Huskies have gone 13-23. And the Bulls, which didn't have a football program 20 years ago, ranked No. 2 in the country during the 2007 season.

''You hear a lot about No. 2, No. 2, No. 2. That's not fair to our guys right now to compare them to No. 2. We're not that team right now,'' said USF coach Willie Taggart, via the Associated Press. ''We're trying to build that foundation and get it back to that.''

Like UConn, USF is 1-2 this season, and Taggart sounds many of the same tones we hear from Bob Diaco when he talks about rebuilding what once was.

''Our football team is still fragile. ... We need to continue to find as much success as we can and be as positive as we can, keep going in that direction,'' Taggart said.

That's right out of the Diaco playbook.

'This whole year is building. We can't do anything to compromise our development. We can't do anything to compromise our ability to get better,'' Diaco said. ''We need to get batter as a team every week. We need to get better as a team at the end of the season. 'That has to happen. That will happen.''

Interestingly, one of the best chances for a win -- for both teams -- will come when they face off Friday night.

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<![CDATA[Diaco Looking for More From Offense]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:49:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+bob+diaco+stony+brook.jpg

It's been a recurring theme since Paul Pasqualoni took over for Randy Edsall before the 2011 season: The lack of offensive firepower put immense pressure on the defense to keep games close, a unplanned strategy that has gotten progressively worse with each passing season.

But first-year coach Bob Diaco is going about the arduous task of changing ... well, everything -- from the players' mindsets, to their on-field performance to, ultimately, the outcome. It won't be quick or easy, but Diaco has a plan and given all that's transpired in the last three seasons, it's a start.

But all the positive thinking can't change the reality that UConn's offensive line just isn't very good right now. They've given up more sacks than any other FBS team (15), rank last in the country in tackles for loss (32) and the team's leading rusher is quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who didn't even start the first game.

“Too many negative plays,” Diaco conceded earlier this week, via SNY.com. ” Too many plays we can not get started properly because people are in the backfield. We understand it’s a work in progress, but it needs to be addressed at a higher level. Sacks and TFLs. It’s hard to get going when you are behind the chains or players are being harassed before they get started.”

The immediate problem: Reinforcements aren't on the way. As the old coaching bromide goes, it is what it is, and for Diaco, right now it isn't very good. Even the always-positive coach was realistic about this.

"There are only a couple of guys who played some, guys that we are really counting on like a Richard Levy, Andreas (Knappe), Dalton (Gifford), they never really played let alone (Tyler) Samra, (Trey) Rutherford, (Ryan) Crozier," he said.

"They need a lot of work. They are working, they are trying. We need to be more sensitive as a whole team to their needs than we have been. We have been working hard but I think it even needs another layer of care. That might be with the daily structure, that might be daily assistance. Maybe we really inspect the installation so we aren't a jack of all trades and master of none. We ave a chance to maybe master a few jobs, maybe we decrease some of the run menu and give them a few things that they can really sink their teeth into. It is not a play selection issue, it is play execution issue. Every play looks bad when every play looks like they are storming the castle."

The next test comes Friday night when the Huskies face USF.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Pa. School Board Bans Boys From Field Hockey Team]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:42:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/field+hockey_generic.jpg

No boys allowed. A school board in Lehigh County confirmed a committee's decision to ban boys from its field hockey team after concerns they caused injuries to girl players.

The Allentown School Board ruled 8-1 that boys would be prohibited from playing on school-sponsored teams that are usually all-female in the United States.  The vote upheld a decision made by a school committee in the Pennsylvania county Sept. 4.

"We had an injury where there was an incidental collision between a boy and a girl," Russell Mayo, Allentown School Board president, told NBC10 earlier this month. "Upon legal counsel, we decided that we would err on the side of safety."

The PIAA - the state's governing body of high school sports -- decided earlier this summer that boys who do play on girls' teams are not allowed to participate in post-season games.

But not everyone in the Allentown School District, which includes William Allen High School and Louis E. Dieruff High School, is in agreement with the decision.

"The girls were disappointed because [the boys] were a great part of the team," Inez Seyler, Dieruff's field hockey coach, told LehighValleyLive.com. "I'm disappointed because they don't really have a sport that is comparable to field hockey for boys."

"It's going to be heartbreaking to them," added Karen Nilson, William Allen's coach.

Mixed gender teams are allowed under the PIAA's rules, but only under special circumstances that protect girls on the team from injury or disqualification for size differences from potential male teammates.

Other standards for Pennsylvania schools, under the Pennsylvania Department of Education, support the right to a "physical environment for safety." This includes physical standards along with social, emotional and intellectual. These policies are intended to protect students' wellness and physical health.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

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<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 3]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 22:45:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/455677434.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the third week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NASCAR's Joey Logano Spends the Day in Connecticut]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 21:52:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/joey+logano+in+ct.png

Middletown native Joey Logano is in the running for his first ever NASCAR championship, but he headed home to Connecticut on Thursday to give back to the community.

Logano, who is ranked third and is racing this weekend in New Hampshire, grew up racing at a track about 10 minutes away from On Track Karting in Wallingford, where he spent his day at the inaugural Joey Logano Foundation Hometown Showdown.

“We’re racing at Lauden this weekend, so to be able to stop up here through Middletown and Wallingford, Portland, and all, and be able to say hello to family and friends, and also do some really cool fundraising events for the foundation is a perfect opportunity for it,” Logano said.

All proceeds from the event are split between the foundation and The Connection in Middletown, a nonprofit organization that gives second chances to people struggling with poverty, homelessness and substance abuse.

Logano himself raced in both the adult and children’s go kart competitions.

Prior to the Hometown Showdown, Logano also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Logano Place, a new transitional housing program for homeless adults in Middletown.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Pats Want to Spread the Wealth on Offense]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:33:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-vikings-2014.jpg

This is going to be a recurring thing until something changes. On Wednesday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked about the relationship (read: trust) he has with his receivers, most of whom have been non-factors during the first two weeks of the season.

As it stands, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are clearly Brady's two favorite targets and it's not even close.

"I think that’s definitely a big part of what we’re trying to do offensively to make us hard to defend is to be able to throw the ball to everybody. And you’re right, those guys have seen a majority of throws, and I’ve got to do a better job finding the other guys because it’s a lot of good routes, they’re big targets, guys are working really hard to get open," Brady said Wednesday, via ESPN.com.

"So hopefully it shows up this week in our pass game. We’re going to work hard this week to see if we can all be on the same page more often."

The Patriots face the Raiders, a team that can be the cure to any ill.

Still, if New England is going to have long-term success offensively, that means names like Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson also need to get involved.

"I have a lot of trust in Danny," Brady maintained. "He battled through some injuries last year and has had a great spring, great training camp, and he’s been out there quite a bit. It’s my responsibility to get him the ball, and there were a few catches that got [called] back, a few big plays that would extend drives. ...

"I don’t think our passing game has been really stellar to this point, so it’s hard to sustain much over the course of the game and get those guys the ball when we’re not doing as good a job as we’re capable of," Brady continued, before adding: We’ve got to keep going after it, and guys get more opportunities to get balls, and I need to do a better job finding those guys when they’re open and running the routes that we talk about all week. That’ll go a long way to help us win."

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<![CDATA[WATCH: Jeter's Rousing NY Sendoff in New Ad]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:19:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Derek-Jeter-Day007.jpg

Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York"  is a soothing sound to Yankee fans, accustomed to hearing it over the Yankee Stadium speakers when the Bombers win a home game.  But another signature Sinatra song may soon take its place in Yankee lore alongside that classic.

A new Gatorade commercial uses  "My Way" to say goodbye to the Captain, as it shows Derek Jeter exiting a cab near the stadium and feeling the love from New Yorkers in the streets of the Bronx before buttoning up his No. 2 jersey and stepping onto the field to the roar of the crowd.

Even the most bitter Mets fans may find themselves wiping away a tear at the rousing commercial shot in iconic black and white, and hardcore Bombers fans may need an entire box of tissues. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Announces Series With Missouri]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:55:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/diaco+with+uconn+team_1200.jpg

The UConn football program announced Thursday a home-and-home series with the University of Missouri that will begin on Sept. 19, 2015, when the Huskies visit Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri, and the Tigers will return the favor on Sept. 23, 2017 when they come to Rentschler Field.

"We are very excited about playing a football series against Missouri as we continue to build a competitive non-conference schedule for our team and an exciting one for our loyal fans," UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel said in a statement. "Our future football schedules have a number of games from various leagues around the country and I am happy to add Missouri and the Southeastern Conference to those contests."

Missouri joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012 and in that time appeared in one bowl game, beating Oklahoma St. in last year's Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Huskies, meanwhile, are 2-2 against SEC schools, including a win over South Carolina in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl and a 1-2 record against Vanderbilt.

UConn's future non-conference games include (via UConnHuskies.com):

2015: September 5, Villanova; September 12, Army; September 19, at Missouri; October 2, at BYU.
2016: September 3, Maine; September 10, at UMass (Foxborough, Mass.); September 17, Virginia.
2017: September 2, UMass; September 9, Holy Cross; September 16, at Virginia; September 23, Missouri.
2018: September 8, at Boise State.
2019: September 7, Illinois; September 21, at Indiana.
2020: September 12, at Illinois; September 26, Indiana.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Stewart Looks to Seize Team USA Chance]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:39:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/breanna-stewart-nd-finals.png

Team USA made their way to Paris Wednesday ahead of three exhibition games with Australia, China and France. Coach Geno Auriemma, in only the way he can, talked about the team's preparation for the upcoming games.

"We sat around a lot on the bus trip yesterday,” Auriemma said, via USA Basketball. “We sat around a lot on the plane. Then we got here and we were stuck in traffic. So there was a lot that can make you sluggish and stale a little bit. We came out here today to get our legs back, and I thought they were great. Everybody really wanted to move. Lindsay Whalen just said that, ‘It was good to get our bodies moving.’ And we got some things done. We got a little better as a team, and tomorrow we’ll get a couple new guys in, throw them into the mix. We’ll get a little better tomorrow and then we’ll play Friday.”

One player very familiar to Auriemma trying to make the national team is the 2014 collegiate player of the year, Breanna Stewart. She arrives in Paris after scoring nine points in Team USA's 76-51 win over Canada.

“I’m much more comfortable,” Stewart said at the time, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “We’ve been with each other for a week and each day you can tell in practice or like tonight when we’re in a game that the chemistry is growing.”

Meanwhile, Stewart leaves behind her UConn teammates, who have started the fall semester.

“I’m keeping up pretty well so far," Stewart said of her schoolwork. "I’m making sure I get things in by the due date. I met with my academic advisor in Bridgeport and she helped me stay organized. I think the biggest thing is making myself do the work. There’s no one else here making sure I do the work besides me.”

It also doesn't hurt to have the ear of someone who's been through this all before: Former Huskies great Maya Moore.

“The advice Maya has given me is basically making sure you stay on top of it,” Stewart said. “Once you get behind, you’re always going to be behind in your schoolwork.”

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<![CDATA[Omar Calhoun Ready for 2014]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:38:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/omar-calhoun-napier.jpg

Omar Calhoun had a very good freshman season -- averaged 32 minutes and 11.1 points a game -- one that has been all but forgotten after he was buried on the bench as a sophomore. A slump saw his playing time -- and production -- slip to 13 minutes and 3.8 points. It was a tough six months for the shooting guard, even as the Huskies were on their way to winning a second national title in three years.

But now, fully healthy and with the full support of coach Kevin Ollie, the junior sharpshooter has regained his confidence and hopefully his form -- and minutes -- follow.

"It was definitely a tough year," Calhoun said last week, according to the Hartford Courant. "I knew I wasn't 100 percent from the start of the season, but I feel like I learned a lot throughout the season, what it takes to be a champion. I feel like it happened for a reason; maybe this year is supposed to be the year I'm supposed to lead the team to another one."

Ollie has faith that Calhoun, who had surgery on both hips heading into last season, will be ready to go both mentally and physically this time around.

“He’s healthy, springy, even more explosive,” Ollie said in August. “He’s shooting the ball great, in workouts he is leading, working hard. I expect some great things for him this season. Him not giving up, staying with the team throughout his battles, not shooting the ball well, he never gave in, he was always a great teammate. That’s what I really, really enjoyed seeing because a lot of kids give up in certain situations like that, when it gets tough. It shows me that he‘s got a mind-set that he’s going to be a team player and he’s going to get better from that.”

Meanwhile, Calhoun has been working -- in the gym, with a trainer -- pretty much since the Huskies won the national title in early April. It started with a "let's put everything on the table" talk with his father.

"We sat down to re-analyze everything," Calhoun said. "Where are we going to go from here? I was going to come back stronger than ever. I've gotten a lot stronger in a lot of different areas. Coaches see that. My father's message was, 'Just dedicate myself, whatever happens in the future is what I put into it.' So every single day, every single second, I'm always trying to do something to better myself."

And that will go a long way in helping the 2014-15 Huskies. who are officially in the post-Shabazz Napier era.

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<![CDATA[USA Assistant Coach Recalls Beating Geno]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:36:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-pat-summitt.jpg

There are grand total of two schools that can claim a winning record against Geno Auriemma. One no longer exists -- U.S. International of San Diego, which is now Alliant International University ... and doesn't have a basketball team -- and the other is LaSalle.

U.S. International of San Diego is 1-0 against UConn after a 96-88 win back in November 1986. LaSalle, meanwhile, holds a 3-0 lead over the Huskies and Auriemma, the last meeting coming in December 1989.

Such obscure facts might remain obscure if not for Cheryl Reeve serving as a reminder. She's an assistant on Auriemma's Team USA staff who played at LaSalle from 1984-1988.

“I was on the bench and I remember it well, like it was yesterday,” Reeve told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “I remember Kelly Greenberg got hurt, tore her eardrum, near the end of the game. We came back and won.

“I actually go back a little further with Geno. In 1986, UConn came down and played in the La Salle tournament we had. I was a player and we beat them. I let him know about it. Not that many people can say they were on a team that beat Geno’s team. But that was before UConn was UConn.”

Reeve's line from the '86 game: six points, three assists, four turnovers.

Auriemma's response upon hearing this?

"She reminds me of it all the time,” he told Adamec. “Four turnovers? We’ll be talking about that.”

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<![CDATA[Developers Pitch Ballpark Plan to City Council, Residents]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:36:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Rock+Cats+Public+Meeting.jpg

The developers hoping to build a baseball stadium for the Rock Cats in Hartford pitched their plan to city council members before an overflow crowd on Wednesday night.

Centerplan Construction detailed its $350 million vision for the area just north of Hartford's downtown during a city council committee meeting at the Parker Memorial Community Center on Wednesday night.

"I think people see the vision. I think people understand that we're trying to do something transformative in north Hartford," said Yves Joseph of Centerplan Construction.

The project would include a $56.5 million stadium which would be leased by the city for 25 years. The city would then make a final payment to purchase the ballpark.

The project would also include a supermarket, a brewery, apartments, houses, and office space which would all be built in three phases over five years.

"I am confident that this is not only going to be good for the city of Hartford, I'm confident this is going to be good for our region and the state," said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.

After the developers spoke, residents got their chance to weigh in on the proposal.

Some expressed support for the project saying it would revitalize an area that's been neglected for too long.

"Let's hope that this particular project is only the start," said Mike McGarry, a former city council member.

Others questioned whether the project makes fiscal sense.

"In whose imagination are these equity investors rushing towards DoNo?" said JoAnne Bauer of Hartford.

City council members plan to hold another hearing on the project next week.

This comes as the Rock Cats make another move.

The team is no longer affiliated with the Minnesota Twins and has instead signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Angels Beat Mariners, Win AL West]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 02:11:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/455630948.jpg

The Los Angeles Angels clinched the AL West title Wednesday night, getting seven dominant innings of one-hit ball from C.J. Wilson in a 5-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

C.J. Cron hit a three-run homer for the major league-leading Angels (95-57), who wrapped up their first division crown since 2009 when Oakland lost to Texas about an hour after Los Angeles' game ended.

The Angels had already secured a playoff spot Monday. They have won 12 of 14.

Howie Kendrick sparked the Angels' five-run rally in the seventh by scoring from first base when Chris Denorfia misplayed David Freese's single to right for an error.

Los Angeles' surge broke up a pitchers' duel between Wilson and Seattle rookie James Paxton, who traded zeros until the seventh.

Wilson (13-9) earned his third straight victory in intimidating fashion, striking out seven and allowing just four baserunners in a major improvement from recent starts. He escaped his only jam in the seventh, stranding two runners.

Paxton (6-3) yielded four hits and had eight strikeouts for the Mariners, who have lost six of eight. Seattle managed just one hit and is two games behind Kansas City and Oakland for the second AL wild card.

Paxton kept the Mariners in contention until his teammates made two errors and reliever Danny Farquhar flopped in the seventh inning.

After Kendrick's one-out single, Denorfia thought about diving to catch Freese's drive, but instead pulled up and allowed it to roll past him to the right-field wall. Austin Jackson then double-clutched the ball while retrieving it, and Kendrick scored easily.

Farquhar relieved Paxton with two outs and two runners on, but Cron mashed his 11th homer into the fake rock pile behind center field. Kole Calhoun followed with an RBI double as the Angels batted around.

Paxton was even more dominant than Wilson, retiring 17 of the Angels' first 18 hitters. Paxton allowed only two bouncing singles in the first six innings while striking out Mike Trout three times.

Trout also struck out to end the seventh, tying Baltimore's Chris Davis for the AL lead with 173 strikeouts.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP Roenis Elias headed back to Seattle for an MRI after feeling stiffness in his elbow. Manager Lloyd McClendon said Elias is probably done for the season.

Angels: Josh Hamilton was out of the starting lineup after feeling a bit sore following his return from a shoulder injury Tuesday. The cleanup hitter likely wouldn't have started anyway against a tough left-hander.

UP NEXT

Two aces meet in the series finale when Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.14 ERA) takes on Jered Weaver (17-8, 3.50).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pats Looking for More Balance]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:55:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bill-belichick-pencil.jpg

"Balance" is the word of the week, and it's what the Patriots' coaches are hoping to achieve from the offense. After two weeks, the results have been mixed; the offense looked sluggish and out of sorts in the season-opening loss to the Dolphins, but had little trouble against the Vikings last Sunday (though most of Minnesota's wounds were self-inflicted; Matt Cassel threw four interceptions).

With the Raiders coming to Gillette Stadium this week, there's no better time to work on getting better.

“I think, offensively, we could stand to get a lot more balance into our attack overall, period,” coach Bill Belichick said during Tuesday’s conference call, via ESPN.com. “We didn’t have the run-to-pass ratio in Miami and didn’t really have enough of it in the passing game last week ... so we have to do a better job as a coaching staff.

“I have to do a better job to create a little more balance on our team offensively with our personnel, our play-calling, our plays and so forth. Because we have a lot of good players. We have to be more effective,” he said.

After two games, one concern is that quarterback Tom Brady doesn't fully trust his pass catchers, many of whom are new to the team.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of communication or a lack of being on the same page,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Tuesday. “First of all, we only threw the ball 21 times or whatever it was the other day. And many of those were in two-receiver type settings or came out quick in three-step drops, and a lot of times the coverage dictates where the ball goes.

“I don’t think it was a case of Tom misreading the coverage or looking even at a specific direction. We have all our guys in the pattern, and Tom is capable of reading the coverage out and throwing it to the right guy, and he does a great job of that. Sometimes that means the ball is going to go certain places more than others, and there is always a place to start with your read. And sometimes, if the guy happens to be open right away, then you don’t need to go any further.

“We always will try to be balanced and distribute the ball to all of our skills players. We feel like we have capable tight ends, capable receivers, capable backs. And it never is our intention to go into the game and say only throw the ball to one or two guys in a particular situation.”

One player Brady does trust: Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is being eased back into playing time after offseason knee surgery.

“I think Rob is making strides each week in terms of what he’s been able to do for us in practice and on the field during the game. I think a little bit of it last week was situational,” McDaniels said. “We used Cameron Fleming a little bit more in last week’s game in some different situations. We did that because we wanted to add a little size and so on and so forth. That dictated some different personnel groupings on the field. But I think Rob is doing a good job. These are his first two opportunities to get out there in a game this year, and I think every opportunity that we have is just a better day to improve on where he’s at and where we’re at offensively and get him involved in different things.”

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<![CDATA[QB Tim Boyle Showing Growth]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:42:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

The plan was for Tim Boyle to redshirt the 2014 season. He was thrust into the lineup as a freshman in 2013, five games into a season that had already been lost. The results were predictably disastrous. But first-year coach Bob Diaco wanted to bring Boyle along slowly, a luxury he had with Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer ahead of him on the depth chart.

But that all changed when Cochran retired from football earlier this month. Boyle was elevated to No. 2 quarterback and saw action in last Saturday's loss to Boise State. And while his numbers don't jump off the page -- 6-of-9 for 33 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions -- there are reasons for optimism, and most of them came during the Huskies' final offensive drive when Boyle was able to move the ball down the field.

"It gave me a lot of confidence," Boyle said afterward, via the New Haven Register. "I know it wasn't their starting defense but any time you play a Boise State team their backups aren't going to be a bad backup group so it definitely gave me confidence in my leadership ability because I definitely was in control of that series. It was slower this year than it was last year for me, it came to be a lot easier. Seeing defenses, getting the play call in, the substitutions and all that kind of stuff. It was definitely s confidence booster for the next couple of games and I want to keep building on it."

Boyle admitted that his freshmen season was a whirlwind that extended beyond football to to everything regular freshman have to deal with too.

"Being a true freshman coming in and four weeks in college of still trying to know where my classes are, figuring out what book is for what class and trying to learn an offense and manage an offensive line where the oldest guy was 23/24 years old so I think the big picture scared me last year," Boyle told the Register. "I just had to let the game come to me, take a deep breath and everything is going to work out."

Boyle now has a year under his belt and is becoming more comfortable in the offense, which will hopefully translate into more consistency on the field.

"I think it was more confidence in myself, I knew I could do it but it is unfortunate it wasn't being done on the field," Boyle said to the Register. "The ball is definitely coming out a lot easier this year, I am not forcing anything and that has worked well for me."

The Huskies are still 1-2 and a long way from the 2010 team that won the Big East and played in the Fiesta Bowl. But for the first time in a long time it appears UConn has a plan. And that's a good start.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[UConn's Men's Team Announce Staff Additions]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:41:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-2014.jpg

With the college basketball season just a few weeks off, Kevin Ollie's Huskies announced several changes to the coaching staff Tuesday. David Sevush has been named Director of Scouting-Video, and Dan Griffin has been named Director of Player Development.

Details of their responsibilities via the university's news release:

Sevush, 28, has assumed his new position following two seasons as a graduate assistant coach. He will be involved in practice and game planning, player workouts, opponent scouting, film breakdown and on-campus recruiting. ...

Griffin, 43, will be working primarily on the off-court development of the student-athletes, dealing with their roles as productive, positive forces within their communities. He will have close interaction with the UConn players and assist them as they progress through college.

"Dave has contributed a lot to our program as a grad assistant the last two years and he will be even more involved as a fulltime member of the staff," Ollie said in a statement. "We're pleased that he is going to remain part of our team."

On Griffin, Ollie added: "I think it's important for us to have someone who can focus on the players' development off the court. Dan will be able to help them become more well-rounded people, which will help them succeed no matter what they do after they leave college."

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<![CDATA[Ollie Meets With 2 NJ High School Players]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:37:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

Days after UConn landed a commitment from 6-10 Steve Enoch Kevin Ollie was back on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, the coach of the defending national champion Huskies met with the two best high school prospects in the state of New Jersey: Tyus Battle and Isaiah Briscoe.

Battle is a 6-5 guard from Gill St. Bernard's who will graduate in 2016; Briscoe is a 6-3 guard from Roselle Catholic and will graduate this spring.

“Ollie is one of the best young basketball minds in the country,” Gary Battle, the player’s father, told SNY.com. “Coach is so smart and he has so much wisdom.”

The Huskies aren't alone in recruiting Battle; we're just two weeks into September and already this month he has hosted Louisville's Rick Pitino, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Rutgers’ Eddie Jordan, Michigan’s John Beilein, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Florida’s Billy Donovan. By the end of the week, Virginia's Tony Bennett and Kentucky's John Calipari are expected to stop by.

Meanwhile, Briscoe's coach echoed Gary Battle's comments.

“We had a great meeting this evening with Kevin Ollie and Glen Miller,” coach Dave Boff told SNY.tv. “They did a great job of explaining how Isaiah’s style of play and his strengths would fit in well in the UConn system.”

Briscoe is expected to take an official visit to Storrs on Sept. 26.

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<![CDATA[Rock Cats Align With Colorado Rockies]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:08:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rock+cats+generic.jpg

After a 20-year partnership, the Minnesota Twins are splitting with the Rock Cats and a new agreement is in place with the Colorado Rockies.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported over the weekend that the Twins were splitting from their Double-A affiliate in New Britain. On Wednesday, the Rock Cats said they reached an agreement with the Rockies for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

“This is more great news for Hartford. We welcome the Colorado Rockies to Connecticut. We’re excited about yet another step forward towards the redevelopment of Downtown North,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with the Pioneer Press on Saturday about the split with the local team.

“We had to do something (by Thursday’s deadline) and we did,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan told the Pioneer Press on Saturday. “We ended up severing. I’m not going to deny. Yeah, we severed, but that doesn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t read too much into that.”

According to the Pioneer Press, the Twins still had the option of negotiating a two-year agreement with the Rock Cats, which are eyeing a move to Hartford in 2016.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out in New Britain right now,” Ryan told the Pioneer Press. “I don’t think anybody knows if they’re going to move to Hartford. That’s about the only reason we severed is there’s a lot of uncertainty with the affiliate right now. The new owners are fantastic. That’s not the issue. Everything is fine, but there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Rock Cats owner Josh Solomon said “The Rockies have the same values that are important to the Rock Cats in community service and have also done a great job in player development.”

“We are excited to welcome our new Major League partner the Colorado Rockies. Our fans will finally
have the opportunity to see a National League brand of baseball for the first time in franchise history,”
said Rock Cats General Manager Tim Restall.

Conversely, the Twins could enter into a new agreement with one of six other Double-A teams still searching for major league partners, including teams in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Mobile, Alabama; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Twins have until the end of the month to select their Double-A partner.

“We’re out looking,” Ryan said, according to the Pioneer Press. “Whether or not we end up going elsewhere, we’re out looking. There's a few affiliates that are open. Not a lot, but we're exploring some things. I'm not sure exactly where we're going to land, or whether we might end up back in New Britain."

The Rock Cats said the decision by the Twins will not affect team operations.

"Per Major League Baseball Guidelines, the Player Development Contract cannot be discussed publicly until a final deal is reached. Rest assured, the Rock Cats will have a Double-A Major League affiliate playing in New Britain next April," Solomon said.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart also released a statement about the team signing with the Rockies.

“For nearly 20 years, New Britain has hosted the Minnesota Twins AA affiliate. While it is unfortunate they now feel compelled to cut those ties, I am relieved to hear that the Colorado Rockies AA affiliate may call New Britain home in the 2015 season. Between our fans, our facilities, and our willingness to work with ownership, this City has proven that a minor league ball club can be very successful right here in New Britain. We thank the Twins for their partnership over the years and we would welcome the Rockies organization to Hard Hittin’ New Britain!,” Stewart said in a statement.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Vikings Bar Peterson From All Team Activities]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:30:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/186722617.jpg The Minnesota Vikings have reversed course and placed star running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt-commissioner's permission list, a move that will require him to stay away from the team while he addresses child abuse charges in Texas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Charles Barkley Throws "Turrible" First Pitch]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:35:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Barkley_Cubs.jpg

Everyone knows Hall of Fame NBA player Charles Barkley has an ugly golf swing. Now you can add baseball to the sports Barkley has yet to master.

Barkley threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday's Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field, and let's just say it was a bit outside. Way outside.

One of the MLB announcers couldn't resist using a Barkley-ism to call it: the pitch was just "turrible."

Move over 50 Cent and Carl Lewis, you have company.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Minnesota Twins Split from Rock Cats]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:51:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rock+cats+generic.jpg

After a 20-year partnership with the Rock Cats, the Minnesota Twins are splitting from their Double-A affiliate in New Britain, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

No information has been released about a new affiliation, but Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra released a statement about the team being affiliated with the Colorado Rockies.

“This is more great news for Hartford. We welcome the Colorado Rockies to Connecticut. We’re excited about yet another step forward towards the redevelopment of Downtown North,” Segarra said.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with the Pioneer Press on Saturday about the split with the local team.

“We had to do something (by Thursday’s deadline) and we did,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan told the Pioneer Press on Saturday. “We ended up severing. I’m not going to deny. Yeah, we severed, but that doesn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t read too much into that.”

According to the Pioneer Press, the Twins still have the option of negotiating a two-year agreement with the Rock Cats, which are eyeing a move to Hartford in 2016.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out in New Britain right now,” Ryan told the Pioneer Press. “I don’t think anybody knows if they’re going to move to Hartford. That’s about the only reason we severed is there’s a lot of uncertainty with the affiliate right now. The new owners are fantastic. That’s not the issue. Everything is fine, but there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Conversely, the Twins could enter into a new agreement with one of six other Double-A teams still searching for major league partners, including teams in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Mobile, Alabama; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Twins have until the end of the month to select their Double-A partner.

“We’re out looking,” Ryan said, according to the Pioneer Press. “Whether or not we end up going elsewhere, we’re out looking. There's a few affiliates that are open. Not a lot, but we're exploring some things. I'm not sure exactly where we're going to land, or whether we might end up back in New Britain."

The Rock Cats said the decision by the Twins will not affect team operations.

"Per Major League Baseball Guidelines, the Player Development Contract cannot be discussed publicly until a final deal is reached. Rest assured, the Rock Cats will have a Double-A Major League affiliate playing in New Britain next April," said Josh Solomon, Managing Partner, New Britain Rock Cats.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart released a statement and mentioned a Hartford Courant report about the team signing with the Rockies.

“For nearly 20 years, New Britain has hosted the Minnesota Twins AA affiliate. While it is unfortunate they now feel compelled to cut those ties, I am relieved to hear that the Colorado Rockies AA affiliate may call New Britain home in the 2015 season. Between our fans, our facilities, and our willingness to work with ownership, this City has proven that a minor league ball club can be very successful right here in New Britain. We thank the Twins for their partnership over the years and we would welcome the Rockies organization to Hard Hittin’ New Britain!,” Stewart said in a statement.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Orioles Clinch AL East With 8-2 Win]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 23:08:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*131/455561388.jpg

The Baltimore Orioles won their first AL East crown since 1997, using home runs by Steve Pearce and Jimmy Paredes to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 Tuesday night before a boisterous crowd of 35,297 at Camden Yards.

With their ninth win in 10 games, the Orioles clinched their second playoff appearance in three years following a run of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

Afterward, the Orioles converged behind second base, fireworks soared in the outfield and streamers sprayed throughout the crowd.

It was Baltimore's ninth AL East title and only its second since 1983, when the Orioles last won the World Series.

The franchise has enjoyed a rebirth under the guidance of manager Buck Showalter, whose 1,254th victory thrust him past mentor Billy Martin into sole possession of 36th place on the career list.

Baltimore is 42-23 in a division that includes the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, the free-spending New York Yankees and pitching-rich Tampa Bay. The Orioles led by only four games on Aug. 6 before going on a 27-11 run.

The clinching victory featured an unlikely list of contributors, not at all unusual for a team that often delved deep into its 25-man roster. Ubaldo Jimenez was making his first start in a month; Pearce has morphed from a bit-player to a key starter; and Paredes didn't join the team until Aug. 28.

Pearce provided the Orioles with the lead for good with a three-run drive off Drew Hutchison (10-12) in the first inning. Pearce has 18 home runs this year, one more than he had in 290 games as a part-timer from 2007-13.

Paredes hit a solo shot in the second to make it 4-2. It was his second homer in 10 games with Baltimore.

In addition, newcomer Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run triple in the seventh for a 7-2 lead. De Aza came to the Orioles in an Aug. 30 trade with the Chicago White Sox.

Jimenez (5-9) survived a rocky start to limit the Blue Jays to two runs and two hits over five innings in his third start since July 5. After signing a $50 million, four-year deal in the offseason, Jimenez struggled with his control for much of the season, sprained his ankle in a parking lot before the All-Star break and ultimately lost his place in the rotation.

Pressed into service because the Orioles played a doubleheader Friday, Jimenez issued four walks in the first two innings. But he bounced back to retire his last 10 batters.

Orioles fans have until Friday to register for a ticket lottery online. Winners will be notifed next Wednesday.



Photo Credit: MCT via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brass City Brawlers: Country's Most Unique Football Program?]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:02:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/2ND_CHANCE_FOOTBALL.jpg What would you do for a second chance? The Brass City Brawlers Semi Pro team in Waterbury is a non-profit community organization designed to give young men a 2nd chance.]]> <![CDATA[Brady Wants Everybody Involved]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:45:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP349120348536+edited1.jpg

There wasn't much to like in Sunday's dominating 30-7 win over the Vikings, but ever the perfectionist, 37-year-old Tom Brady wasn't completely pleased with the performance. A week ago, in the season-opening loss to the Dolphins, sacks and poor offensive line play were issues, but in Minnesota Brady pointed to something that's much easier to remedy.

“The penalties, they just kill drives,” the quarterback said during his weekly appearance on Boston's WEEI. “We don’t want to be one of the most penalized teams in the league. That would be a real great recipe for how to lose a game.

“Turnovers, penalties, missed opportunities, and we have to do a better job with the penalties," he said. "Obviously not turning the ball over on the road was good. The defense made all those big plays, which allows us a lot of short fields and more opportunities than we really took advantage of. We just need to score more points, and when we have opportunities to get the ball in the end zone, we have to do it. When we have to convert short yardage, we have to do it.”

Scoring more points means involving more people, something Brady wasn't able to do on Sunday. He finished 15 of 22 for 149 yards -- the defense, along with Steven Ridley and his 101 rushing yards, did the heavy lifting -- with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski accounting for 10 receptions. Put another way: Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Brian LaFell need to pick it up.

“We just have to find ways to get everybody the ball and spread it around to different guys,” Brady conceded. “We spread it around a bit yesterday, but [Amendola] did not get the ball as much as I would like to get it to him.

“Brandon LaFell -- the same thing. Aaron Dobson had one catch to start the game and didn’t get a lot of other looks after that. We have to get the ball to everybody and spread it around to everybody. Those guys are all good with the ball in their hands, so we have to find ways to do a better job of finding everybody, and that’s what makes an offense tough to defend is when you spread it around to everybody.”

Ultimately, Brady knows he's responsible for getting everyone involved, a role he not only takes seriously but embraces.

"But that is my job to find those guys and find ways to get those guys the ball," he said. "They are good in space, they have good quickness, good hands. And if we just keep working hard in practice, then eventually it shows up in the game, and in the games we have to do a better job executing.”



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco's Defense Coming Around]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:34:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/diaco+with+uconn+team_1200.jpg

The Huskies are 1-2. There's no getting around that, and first-year coach Bob Diaco isn't trying to. That's the reality of rebuilding, but Diaco has a plan, one that will take time to implement. The good news is that we've seen glimpses of what will be, even if the scoreboard doesn't fully reflect it.

We say "fully" because UConn's 38-21 loss to Boise St. Saturday comes with some bright spots. Chief among them: The defense played relatively well. You're first reaction might be that allowing 38 points isn't much to hang your hat on those numbers, on the surface, are misleading.

"Fourteen uncontested points, where the defense or the special teams is not on the field, against any opponent we are going to play, it becomes impossible to win the games," said Diaco. "When you factor in another plus-field turnover, you're talking about 21 points."

So, back to that improved defense.

"Hopefully the people that were there saw our DNA and what we are going to be," Diaco said of the unit. "Hopefully they can gain some pride in that, look to the future and tell a friend because it's a heck of a way to spend an afternoon."

We mentioned it Monday but the Huskies were able to slow all-everything running back Jay Ajayi and an explosive Broncos offense, limiting the former to just 39 rushing yards and the latter to 292 total yards.

"It shows the work that we have put in," safety Obi Melifonwu said, via UConnHuskies.com. "Boise State is a great offensive team. I think there are a lot of positives that we can take away from the game."

The recent success isn't anything more than execution, which is encouraging news going forward.

"The defense, playing basically the same system they played in week one, looked nothing like it looked in week one. So the defense is moving its game forward," Diaco said. "I'm proud of the way that they played today."

And Melifonwu added: "It is great to be able to get off the field. We would love to create more turnovers and help out field position but limiting them on third down is definitely a key."



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Commit Napheesa Collier Draws Praise]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:29:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/geno-auriemma-PVAM.jpg

Over the weekend, Sue Bird talked up incoming Huskies freshman Kia Nurse, who also plays for the Canadian National Team. Now it's Dawn Staley's turn to talk about future Husky, 2015 commitment Napheesa Collier, who played with Staley, the South Carolina coach and national team assistant, on the United States' U-18 squad that won gold at the FIBA Americas tournament this summer.

“Napheesa was great,” Staley told SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “She’s relentless. She plays hard all of the time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a game or if it’s practice. She sets the tone for how the game should be played. She sets a great example for others.”

Collier averaged 14 points a game as the US went 5-0. At 6-1, her versatility is what sets her apart. She averaged 8.6 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from behind the arc.

“She’s probably one of the most efficient players on both of the sides of the ball,” Staley said. “She made stuff happen. She’s a magnet for the ball, a great offensive rebounder that can knock down open shots from inside and outside the 3-point line. She picked up things well and was a pleasure to work with.”

The scary news for UConn opponents is that the 2015-16 Huskies could be better than this year's version, which is loaded. The 2015 recruiting class includes the nation's best player in Katie Lou Samuelson, and Collier and De’Janae Boykin are both top-10 players. There's also Nurse and Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

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