All posts by Dillon Meehan

Canisius and Western Michigan Both Top Softball in Doubleheader

by Humera Gul

Central Connecticut State University lost two games on March 10, in the Under Armor Series Tournament in Tampa, Florida. The First game was against Canisius, and the second was against Western Michigan. Canisius Golden Griffins beat CCSU, 3-1, while Western Michigan beat the Blue Devils 2-0.

Sarah Oglivie hit a double to left center in the second inning, then later scored on an Emily Cronin single. That was the only run for CCSU Blue Devils against Canisus.

Canisius would go on to tie the game in the third, until the bottom of the sixth inning. The Blue Devils went on to give up two scores in the sixth inning.

Alex Casanas got her first start of the year, only allowing three hits, one run and walk though four innings before being pulled.

Oglivie took over pitching and struggled to finish the game. In her two innings, she gave up five hits and two runs.

Canisius pitcher Madi Weathers threw for all seven innings. She only allowed two hits, one run and two walks.  She also struck out five different players.

Western Michigan started the game well, going three for three and grabbed one run right in the first inning. Emily Sargent would start the second game for CCSU, but they were shut out by Western Michigan.

Sargent pitched the entire game and allowed only five hits and two runs. She gave up two walks and had one strike out.

Western Michigan pitcher Jordan Kurth played close to a perfect game, after pitching the entire thing and allowing three hits and no runs. She struck out three players and never allowed a base on balls. Kurth faced a total of 25 batters and had a pitch strike ratio of 106-68.

CCSU had one final opportunity in the top of the seventh inning, when Oglivie and Brittany Camara were out to third and second base. Emily Cronin tried to make a comeback with an opportunity to bring both girls home. She went on to bunt the ball to get to first base, but it was snuffed out and the inning was over.

It’s Arsène Wenger Time to Leave

by Dillon Meehan

In the fall of 1996 Arsenal dismissed their manager Bruce Rioch after a series of disputes with board members. Following his departure the board decided to bring in Arsène Wenger, a figure who was relatively unknown by the English media.

It was a rough start, he came in with a focus on sports science and nutrition. Before his tenure, it was standard procedure for players to often drink in the locker room and go out on their off days. Yet Wenger changed all of that.  He banned his players from drinking and junk food, he encouraged them to avoid red meat and replace it with chicken. Apart from diet, he had his players injected with vitamins and use Creatine to recover from games and training.

A year later, he became the first foreign-born manager in the English Premier League to win the “double,” by capturing both Premier League title and the F.A. Cup.

Four seasons later, in 2002 he would repeat history by leading Arsenal to another double. But he wasn’t done; in 2004 Arsenal became the first team since Preston North End 115 years prior to go undefeated throughout an entire season, and the first to do so in a 38-game season.

He had revolutionized the game in eight years; but he had also plateaued.

In 2006 the club finished fourth in the Premier League, a first for Wenger. On top of that, the club blew a lead late in the second half against Barcelona in the Champions League final. At the start of the summer, the club built a new stadium which was supposed to cement Arsenal as one of premier destinations for the top players in the sport, but in reality it was the opposite.

The owner and board elected to choose prioritize financial success over improving the team.  Instead of bringing in players, they began to lose some of their best.  It started with Sol Campbell, Lauren and Rober Pirès in 2006.  A year later Thierry Henry, the clubs best player, left for Barcelona.

That was only the beginning, in 2009 the club started a trend of sending their best players to Manchester City, first with  both Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure in July 2009. Two years later the club sold another two as Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri both left.

The following year in 2012, Robin Van Persie would also leave for Manchester, this time going to United.

Over the past decade, Arsenal have become a shadow of the club they once were around the turn of the century. The club has now lost in Champions League Round of 16 in seven straight seasons. They have repeatedly blown chances to win the Premier League title. The only silverware they have to show are two F.A. Cup titles in 2014 and 2015. But that competition is essentially worthless now, with the majority of clubs using their B-teams to compete in it.

This season has been particularly awful for Wenger and his squad. Earlier in the month, they suffered an embarrassing lost 10-2 on aggregate against Bayern Munich. While fans thought it couldn’t get worse Arsenal managed another embarrassing 3-1 against West Brom.

The former perennial title contenders now sit in sixth place tied with Everton.  With Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United all looking to have rebounded from their slow starts it is unlikely that Arsenal will even be able to contend for a Champions League spot, and even worse, finish below their London rivals Tottenham for the first time since the inception of the Premier League.

Arsène Wenger has a choice; either tarnish his legacy as one of the games greatest coaches, or resign. If he stays he will likely see the clubs two best platers Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leave this summer, further plummeting his squad.

If he reigns he can either take a spot as the club’s Sporting Director, or take a job elsewhere. Following PSG’s embarrassing defeat to Barcelona and their performance in Ligue 1, there is a chance that Unai Emery could be fired or resigned. This would open the door for Wenger to finish his career in an easier league with a much better squad.

Blue Devils Grab Second Win Against La Salle

by Humera Gul

Central Connecticut State’s softball team beat La Salle, 3-0 on March 11. Emily Sargent pitched her second consecutive complete game, recording her first shutout of the season. She allowed one hit in seven innings, while walking three batters and striking out two. Sargent improved her record to 2-4 this season.

Alexis Debrosse tripled on a hit to left field on the first at bat of the game for CCSU.  Emily Cronin reached first, on an error allowing Debrosse to score and take a 1-0 lead. Brittany McNulla then doubled to left center, scoring Cronin to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Sarah Oglivie would single to right field and eventually score as Tori Constantin doubled to left field, giving the Blue Devils their third and final run.

Debrosse went up to bat four times. She was an offensive weapon for the Blue Devils again. She scored a run and a hit, striking out two times.

Emily Cronin had three at bats and one hit with one run scored and one RBI.

Oglivie went up to bat three times.  She also had one hit and one run.  Despite being a freshman, Oglivie has had a lot of impact as of late.

La Salle pitcher Reilly Gearhart threw a complete game with nine strike outs.  She allowed three runs on seven hits. Gearhart is now 1-3 when she starts for La Salle.

La Salle had no answer for CCSU, and weren’t able to score a single run the entire game.  La Salle’s lack of offense didn’t help their chances as they only had one hit, their only other offense came from three walks.

Softball Gets First Win Against UPenn

by Humera Gul

The Central Connecticut State University Softball team got their first win of the season, 6-3 against University of Pennsylvania on March 9. The game was at Eddie C. Moore Field in Clearwater, Florida. The game uplifted CCSU’s record to 1-5. UPenn dropped to 4-6.

Emily Sargent pitched a complete game for the Blue Devils. She struck out three and walked three, while giving up a total of nine hits and three runs, with only two earned.

Sargent stopped many attempts by the Quakers early in the game.  For the Blue Devils, Brittany McNulla and Brittany Camara played strong the entire game. McNulla had the team’s first hit and Camara began the rally in the sixth inning. Alexis Debrosse walked on four balls to first base in the sixth inning.

UPenn made two pitching changes to stop the rally from CCSU. However, it fell short as CCSU scored two more runs. Maddie Landry scored on a hit-by-pitch and Sarah Ogilvie brought in Camara with a single.

McNulla went up to bat four times and had one run and three hits and allowed a run. She went up to bat with a vengeance each time and hit three times in her four opportunities.

Kerri Dadalski went up to bat a total of three times. She had one run and one hit, and had 3 RBIs. Dadalski had a double play that sealed the game for the Blue Devils.

Debrosse went up to bat three times and had one run and no hits. She got the base on balls and could score for the Blue Devils and struck out once. Debrosse proved to be patient and took a base on balls delivered and scored off that base as the Blue Devils put together a good finish.

Blue Devils Fall Short In Conference Semi Finals

by Humera Gul

Central Connecticut State University’s women’s basketball team  fell to Robert Morris 70-62 in the NEC Semi-Final. It was a close game, but the Colonials of Robert Morris held on to beat CCSU, closing their year at 11-21 and 9-10 in the league.

CCSU shot 23 of 55 from the field. and were 13 of 16 from the foul line. They struggled beyond the arc and shot three of 14.

Giocelis Reynoso finished with a double-double. She was four of nine from the field and made both of her free throws, finishing with 10 points. She grabbed a career high 15-rebounds, one assist, one steal and a block.

Aleah Epps led the team in scoring with 15 points. She was four of eight from the field and made seven of her eight free throws. She was able to record one rebound, three assists and two steals.

Andi Lydon contributed 10 points and was four of 11 from the field, and two of six from the beyond the arc. She had four rebounds, one assist and two steals.

Robert Morris shot 24 of 56 from the field, five of 17 from the arc and was 17 of 24 from the foul line. Robert Morris also didn’t shoot well from the arc, however, the Colonials drew many fouls and took good advantage of those shots. The Colonials were 70.8 percent in foul shots.

Anna Niki Stamolamprou had played well for the Colonials, with five of 16 from the field, two of five from the arc and three of four from the foul line. She finished with five rebounds, four assists and two steals and scored many points for her team.

Rebeca Navarro also played well for the Colonials.  She was four of 11 from the field, two of seven from the arc and one of two on foul shots.  She also had five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.

CCSU went into the half being down by just four points, but in the third quarter they were outscored by nine points. CCSU started the fourth period being down by 13 points and outscored Robert Morris in the fourth quarter 22-17, but it was too late. Robert Morris eventually went on to win the NEC tournament against Bryant.

Hickey Gets Team Ready For Conference Play

by Alex Nordstrom

The Central Connecticut State Blue Devil baseball team has had an up and down run in the Northeast Conference, which has been highlighted by a stretch from 2002-2004 when they won title for three consecutive years.

In the past few years however, the Blue Devils have been inconsistent in where they have ended up among conference competition.

Last year, CCSU made the NEC tournament finishing fourth during the regular season with a 15-17 record. However, the season before that they missed the tournament finishing in last pace.  Two years ago, in 2014, they were runner’s up in the regular season for the NEC conference.

In the NEC pre-season poll this season, the Blue Devils received a number two ranking in the conference behind reigning tournament champion Bryant and ahead of last year’s runner-up Sacred Heart.

Leading the way for the Blue Devils this year will be their All-NEC junior second basemen Dean Lockery, who was third in hits (72) and seventh in batting average (.344) in the conference last season. CCSU also has a returning All-League first team starting pitcher in senior Andrew Hinckley, anchoring the pitching staff who was fourth in the conference last year in wins (8).

With such a high ranking and spot to be in heading into the 2017 season, 18th year head coach of the Blue Devils, Charlie Hickey, says that rankings mean nothing to his team.

“I don’t think it means anything in terms of pre-season rankings and to be honest about it, I didn’t even know about it,” said Hickey. “We have to sure up some things with our pitching staff with a couple of injuries before heading into conference play first of all.”

Hickey did point out that his team will benefit from more three game weekends than four this season.

“The first two weekends are only going to be three games which will be beneficial to us at this time of the year,” said Hickey.

With two of the team’s top pitchers in, senior Brett Susi and junior Cody Brown coming off injuries, Hickey says that shorter game match ups early on in the season will give these two the time to get back fully healthy without the need to rush.

Hickey said another positive thing that his Blue Devils have going for them right now is a lot of different position combinations that has created good competition for his players.

“Competition creates a little anxiety and people come to the ballpark having to prove themselves,” said Hickey. “It is not going to be a team that we are going to just write down the same nine guy’s everyday which is fine and it will keep everyone going.”

Bryant is a team at the top of the list that CCSU is looking to take down this year, especially as they come into this season as reigning conference champions, in addition to a top ranking in the conference.

“They are a good team, and they have been a good team,” said Hickey. “They are re-building a little bit this year after having seven kids drafted off of last year’s team, which is pretty remarkable in this conference and part of the country.”

When it comes down to it, Hickey puts it very simple regarding his expectations for this upcoming season, pre-season rankings and everything else set aside.

“I think our expectations are to be able to compete at the top level of the conference, it’s where we should be and what we are capable of doing.”

Currently on the young season, CCSU sits at 9-7 in non-conference play, good enough for the best record in the conference so far. They started conference play this weekend with three wins against Mount St. Mary’s, as they began their run towards a conference title.

 

Blue Devils Gear Up For Big Season This Fall

by Dillon Meehan

It’s February, which signifies the start of the 2017 season for Central Connecticut’s football team.

First there is national signing day, where thousands of kids across the country formally announce where they will be attending college. For the Blue Devils that number was 17. Eight of which came out of Connecticut, which was by far the most from any state.

“It was a strong class,” said Pete Rossomando head coach of the Blue Devils. “They really fit our needs the guys that we took. In the past we’ve always tried to focus on Connecticut first and then move on after that to our outlying areas. But this year was especially strong for us and kids wanted to stay close to home.”

However signing day is not the only way to improve a roster. Two seasons ago, the Blue Devils brought in Cameron Nash who transferred from West Virginia and quickly became one of the main contributors to the Blue Devils offense. This year it is Kyle Baum, a safety from Temple. Bringing in Division I talent is a great way to improve the team. But Rossomando insists they’re not bringing in kids with bad backgrounds, he does not want to cut corners in order to win.

“It’s got to be the right fit overall, the kid that we took from Temple is a 3.5 GPA pre med major. We want to make sure we get good people. It’s important to get good players I get it. Everyone wants to win, but at what costs. I got to work with these kids everyday, I want to make sure I work with good people.”

It’s going to be an important year for Rossomando, who is feeling the pressure of not meeting it up to some fans expectations.

“I’m in my fourth year here, and we haven’t necessarily turned it around the way everyone else has expected. But we want to make sure we’re doing it the right way. When I was at New Haven, I didn’t do that, when we were at Albany, we didn’t do that. We built it the right way.”

This particular Blue Devils team has the luxury of being filled with upperclassman. Having only a handful of players, Rossomando hopes to see just how good they can be with spring practices starting next month.

We’ve got a lot of guys back. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re gonna be better but we’ve got a pretty good chance at being better,” said Rossomando of his team. “Defensively we only lost three guys that played. They’re good players, but I think we have some depth behind them that will help us. I think we’re ready to make a jump this year. We have a veteran team coming back, which is nice. They understand expectations, they understand what it takes to win in this league.”

This fall is going to see the Rossomando face off against a FBS team for the first time in his career. The Blue Devils are opening their season against Syracuse. It’s tough to face a Division I program, let alone from one of the “Power 5” conferences. Rossomando doesn’t know what to expect, but he knows it’s a huge opportunity for his team.

“I don’t know, I’ll let you know on Sept. 3,” Rossomando said with a smile. “They’re a good team, it’s just going to be fun. It’s going to be fun for our kids. It’s the Carrier Dome one of the iconic buildings in the country, specially at the college level.”

Spring practice generally starts in mid to late March, with the spring game coming in the last week of April. Stay tuned for more updates on the Blue Devils.

Claudio Ranieri: From Legend to Scapegoat

By Dillon Meehan

Just 11 months ago, Leicester City were capturing the headlines as the greatest underdog stories in the history of sports.  A perennial mediocre club and Claudio Ranieri, their heavily criticized manager, somehow managed to win in the toughest league in the world.

Their three best players were Jamie Vardy, a 29-year old striker who was playing in amateur leagues just a few seasons prior; Riyad Mahrez, a winger who was forgotten about due to his short stature and small frame; and N’Golo Kante a defensive stalwart who was incredibly undervalued while playing in France’s Ligue 1.

Vardy finished with 24 goals, only one behind leader Harry Kane. Mahrez finished with 17 goals and 10 assists and the PFA Player of the Year. And Kante finished with more tackles at 175 and interceptions at 157 than any other player in the Premier League.

Heading into this season, there was a variety of opinions on how Leicester would finish. Some believed that despite losing their best midfielder, they would still be able to compete for a spot in the top four and a chance to play in Champions League. Others believed that they would return to mediocrity and the club would be relegated by this time next year.

While the season is not over yet, it is looking as though the latter. Until their win on Monday against Liverpool, the club hadn’t won a game since Dec. 26 and had only scored a handful of goals in 2017. It looked as though the team had simply given up and were in  free fall.

Some called for Ranieri to be fired, others wanted the players benched. Unfortunately for Ranieri, it is far easier to blame a manager and replace him than get rid of a club’s best players. On Thursday, Feb. 23, the club announced it had fired Ranieri. The announcement was met with both applause and jeers from fans, pundits and former players. Gary Lineker, the club’s former striker, called the move a “panic decision” and admitted to crying after hearing the news.

Ranieri was given the nickname “the tinkerman” due to his inability keep a consistent squad and often making changes and disrupting chemistry. It was often meant as a slight and it was something that stuck with him his entire career. This season saw Ranieri often make several changes to the teams lineup in hopes of saving the season and his job, but ultimately it was what cost him. While he will go down as the man who managed the greatest underdog story in sports history, he unfairly lost his job.

Blue Devils Cruise Past St. Francis Brooklyn on Senior night

 

It had been a rough season for Central Connecticut’s men’s basketball team.  It was the sixth consecutive losing season for the Blue Devils and their third straight having six or less wins.

However, the Blue Devils were able to finish their season on a high note with an impressive second half comeback, defeating  St Francis-Brooklyn 62-53.

At halftime, the Blue Devils were down 34-32 having watched another lead disappear. It appeared to be yet another collapse by the Blue Devils.

Although, CCSU was able to start the second half off strong by taking the lead, only three minutes into the second after consecutive baskets by Mustafa Jones.

“I think the guys responded in the second half, we started slow and I didn’t do too well offensively. So I had to do other things like take charges and get some big rebounds and steals,” said Cumberlander on the teams second half surge.

A few minutes later Nehl’s hit three pointer to make it 43-36, and from there, the Blue Devils held on to a commanding lead.

With under three minutes left in the game, Khalen Cumberlander drove to the right baseline and made an impressive over the head pass to Jones for the wide open dunk, making 59-53 to seal the victory for the Blue Devils.

It was the final home game of Khalen Cumberlander’s career. Cumberlander currently ranks 29th all time in CCSU scoring.  Although his stats were not as impressive, he made key contributions on both sides of the floor to spur the comeback.

“It’s bittersweet.  It’s my last game in Detrick Gym, I emphasized to the guys just how important this game was to me, Tafari and Tidell to go out on a win in front of our home crowd,” said Cumberlander on his message to the team before the game.

Donyell Marshall’s first season was marred by inconsistent performances. A feat he himself is frustrated in.

“When you have the competitiveness that I have and you’ve only won six games obviously you’re not happy. Especially when you can go back and look at four or five games we could’ve won,” said Marshall on his first season as a head coach.

“I think if you look at our team we went 2-17 in our first nineteen games or something like that. And now we’ve won four in our last nine right now. We’ve gotten better and thats why we do this. The guys have gotten better and the guys continue to work hard, even today when we were officially eliminated they could’ve given up, but they wanted to end this on the right note,” said Marshall on the team’s improvement this season.

“I told them before last game that I appreciate them accepting me as their new coach at the beginning of the year. They made me learn. That’s when you know you have a team, not only when they’re willing to learn but that they made the coach learn. They made me learn about myself and the fight that I have to have. Obviously your frustrated we lost 13 in a row at one point, but I guess the thing that helped me was I was with Golden State where we lost 11 or 12 in a row as a player.”

While he only has been a part of the team for less than a year, he credits Cumberlander for his successful transition as the Blue Devils head coach.

“This is KC’s (Khalen Cumberlander) last home game, which is bittersweet for me. He accepted me right away. It wasn’t ‘Coach I’m the man this is what they ran for me’ or whatever. He asked me what I needed from him and I told him I just needed him to get better everyday, play harder, and be a leader and he accepted that role,” said Marshall.

Despite the rough season, Marshall believes the team will improve in the 2017-18 season. Although the Blue Devils will lose Cumberlander and Tidell Pierre, he believes in his current players as well as the incoming recruits.

“Our freshman will be a lot better next year. I also think the recruits you have coming in are some damn good recruits. So we’ll have the talent that will be able to play a lot more,” said Marshall on his outlook for next season.

Halo Wars 2 Review

by Dillon Meehan

It has been a rough start for 343 Industries. After Bungie, the creators of the Halo series split with Microsoft in 2010 to join Acitvision Blizzard. In 2012, 343 launched Halo 4, a disappointment by Halo standards, and regarded by many as the worst in the franchise.

Two years later, The Master Chief Collection followed, which featured the four main Halo games all on one disk. It gave players the option to play through a decade of great games on the newest Xbox hardware. But it was plagued by server related issues that rendered online play practically impossible.

In the fall of 2015, they once again attempted to restore faith to their fans with Halo 5, but that too was a disappoint to fans.   It had a lackluster story and featured a marketing campaign that was borderline false advertising.

However, it looks like 343 got it right this time with Halo Wars 2. A spin-off real time strategy (RTS) series based off of the lore from the mainline first-person-shooter (FPS) Halo games. The game was co-developed with Creative Assembly, a team mostly known for the well-received RTS Total War series. It is often difficult to make RTS games work on consoles compared to PC. The controls are simply much more difficult with a controller compared to a keyboard and mouse. But unlike previous failed attempts in other games, Halo Wars 2 seems to have found how to make it a seamless transition.

The game also features 12 separate single player campaign missions that can be played on four different difficulty levels. Depending on the difficulty, the campaign can take anywhere from six to 12 hours, maybe even more on the higher difficulty levels. In many games the campaign is simply an elongated tutorial, however, that is not the case in Halo Wars 2. There’s a relatively sound storyline that features an interesting antagonist to fight against the USMC. While some of the voice-overs and dialogue are simply throwaway lines at times, the cinematic cutscenes practically brings the story to life. The scenes were put together by Blur Studio, best known for working on the space scenes in Avatar and remastering the cutscenes for the Halo 2 anniversary edition in the Master Chief Collection.

Lastly there’s multiplayer, at the time this review is being written, the game has not had a full release so the servers have not been truly tested. For those with early access, the game seems to have steady online play as of right now. Because of the debacle that was the Master Chief Collection, fans have a right to be skeptical of online play. However that is where this game may shine apart from the traditional skirmish battles, where players can fight one on one or team up with friends. There is also a new card based game know as blitz, where it is a combination of luck and skill. It is a fast based game on domination, where you can choose to battle one on one or up to three versus three.

In 2009, Halo Wars was viewed as a one-time spinoff and nothing more. However, it looks as though Microsoft may have something here with the sequel. The only way to know if this becomes a legitimate series is based on sales numbers. Microsoft barely attributed any of its marketing budget to this game, however, it was a strange way to attempt to support one of their exclusives.

Microsoft has also cancelled some of the series more anticipated exclusives in 2016, so it is tough to imagine them continuing that trend in 2017 if they hope to build their platform. All in all, Halo Wars 2 is a great RTS game that does its best to summit itself as a legitimate series going forward.