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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Here they are - the candidates for Mr. Basketball
Thanks to the Detroit News, here are the capsules on this year's Mr. Basketball candidates.
Jordan Bitzer
Unionville-Sebewaing Area
Height/weight: 6-foot-3/180 pounds
College: Central Michigan
Stats: 23 points, 8 assists, 9.5 rebounds, 5 steals
Comment: "I've never seen a kid have a year like he's having. He makes every one around him better. He gets in the passing lanes, tips passes or gets the steal. He reads everything." -- Mark Gainforth , USA coach

Leon Freeman
Belleville
Height/weight: 6-foot-4/185 pounds
College: Undecided
Stats: 26.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.8 steals, 1.3 blocks
Comment: "He's so versatile off the dribble. He can pull up, take it to the hole and draw contact. He's so explosive and can elevate." -- Mike Krogel , Belleville coach

Tom Herzog
Flint Powers
Height/weight: 7-foot/215 pounds
College: Michigan State
Stats: 17.5 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2.3 assists
Comment: "Tommy is a fine young man, first. And he's a very fine basketball player. His strongest point is his defense. He blocks a lot of shots and he alters so many more." -- Jack Pratt , Powers coach

Tory Jackson
Saginaw
Buena Vista
Height/weight: 5-foot-10/170 pounds
College: Notre Dame
Stats: 30.5 points, 8 assists, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals
Comment: "Tory has had a great year considering the schedule we play and the obstacles we've had to climb as a team. No other candidate has done what he's done over the past four years." -- Chris Chaffer , Buena Vista coach

Johnathon Jones
Okemos
Height/weight: 6-foot/175 pounds
College: Undecided
Stats: 21.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3.1 assists
Comment: "He's a terrific leader on the floor. He understands the time and score, when you should speed it up or slow it down." -- Dan Stolz , Okemos coach

David Kool
Grand Rapids South Christian
Height/weight: 6-foot-2/195 pounds
College: Western Michigan
Stats: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 3 steals
Comment: "He's clearly the dominant player in west Michigan. He's our best defender. He's our best passer. He's our best rebounder." -- Ken Hiskes , South Christian coach

K'Len Morris
Grand Blanc
Height/weight: 6-foot-5/190 pounds
College: Michigan
Stats: 22.1 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
Comment: "His game really took off this season because his shot from the perimeter has improved so much. His pull-up jumper is his favorite shot. He's the most unselfish kid I've been around. I've told him over and over again that I need him to score." -- Matt Shanfelt , Grand Blanc coach

Tajuan Porter
Detroit Renaissance
Height/weight: 5-foot-7/160 pounds
College: Oregon
Stats: 19 points, 7 assists, 4 steals, 4 rebounds
Comment: "We wouldn't have the success we've had this season without him -- with such an inexperienced team. Last year we went to the final four (Class B) because of his determination and that of Carson Butler." -- Mark White , Renaissance coach

DeShawn Sims
Detroit Pershing
Height/weight: 6-foot-8/222 pounds
College: Michigan
Stats: 25 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks
Comment: "He's had a dominant year," A.W. Canada said. "Every time we've asked him to step up he did. He's taken on the leadership role, too. He's making more and-ones. He's constantly working to improve." -- A.W. Canada , Pershing coach

Ramar Smith
Detroit King
Height/weight: 6-foot-3/181 pounds
College: Undecided
Stats: 23.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.5 steals
Comments: "There are things he's got to learn. But as far as dribbling, shooting, rebounding and taking the ball to the basket, he can do it all. The criticism is he's not won a championship (Public School League or state). And if you don't win you're not looked upon as a champion." -- Benny White , King coach

Larry Wright
Saginaw
Height/weight: 6-foot-2/170 pounds
College: St. John's
Stats: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Comment: "He's really improved on the defensive end. He's one of the best scorers in the state. He's on a team where we don't need him to score 30 points." -- Lou Dawkins , Saginaw coach

Read Tom Markowski's article handicapping the group by clicking here

Speaking of Markowski, he's created some interesting lists this season. Check them out - with luck, the links still work!

Tom Markowski's Top 5: Playmakers - 02/09/06 - The Detroit News

Tom Markowski's Top 5: On the bench - 02/16/06 - The Detroit News

Tom Markowski's Top 5: Boys basketball leagues - 12/12/05 - The Detroit News

Tom Markowski's Top 5: Detroit coaches - 01/26/06 - The Detroit News

And of course...

Tom Markowski's basketball rankings

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A little more on Gymnastics
Did you see this article in the Detroit Free Press?

GYMNASTICS: Thriving co-ops prepare to tumble
MHSAA rule will break up teams to level playing field

Thought it was interesting that 21 of the state's 61 gymnastic teams are co-op programs, as are six of the state's top-10 ranked teams...\

Here is a link to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association.

For the Record's readership must be up to 19 or 20 now! Plus, my proofreader, Andy Clark, is still hanging in there!

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Finally - basketball is getting interesting!
Well - it looks like teams around the state have finally shaken off the football season and things are now getting interesting...

Check out Tom Markowski's latest rankings from the Detroit News...

SUPER 10
1. Saginaw, A, 14-2
2. Detroit Pershing, A, 14-3
3. Detroit Redford, A, 14-3
4. Holt, A, 13-1
5. Grand Rapids South Christian, B, 15-0
6. Detroit Country Day, B, 9-3
7. Flint Southwestern, B, 15-1
8. Okemos, A, 15-1
9. Grand Rapids Creston, A, 14-1
10. Belleville, A, 12-3


CLASS A
1. Saginaw, 14-2
2. Detroit Pershing, 14-3
3. Detroit Redford, 14-3
4. Holt, 13-1
5. Okemos, 15-1
6. Grand Rapids Creston, 14-1
7. Belleville, 12-3
8. Mattawan, 13-2
9. Romulus, 10-4
10. Saginaw Arthur Hill, 10-4


CLASS B
1. Grand Rapids South Christian, 15-0
2. Detroit Country Day, 9-3
3. Flint Southwestern, 15-1
4. Flint Powers, 14-1
5. Detroit Renaissance, 13-3
6. Saginaw Swan Valley, 14-0
7. Chelsea, 13-2
8. Haslett, 14-1
9. Wyoming Godwin Heights, 13-1
10. Lansing Waverly, 11-3


CLASS C
1. Unionville-Sebewaing, 12-0
2. Olivet, 14-1
3. Detroit Community, 11-5
4. Grandville Calvin Christian, 14-2
5. Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 15-0
6. Kalamazoo Christian, 12-2
7. Detroit Consortium Prep, 12-3
8. Bridgman, 14-1
9. Traverse City St. Francis, 13-2
10. Walker Covenant, 13-1


CLASS D
1. Bellaire, 15-0
2. Crystal FallsForest Park, 15-0
3. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart, 14-1
4. Lenawee Christian, 12-0
5. Redford Covenant, 10-3
6. Jackson Christian, 14-1
7. Eau Claire, 13-1
8. Lansing Christian, 12-2
9. Climax-Scotts, 12-2
10. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, 9-5


Not many undefeated in the entire list, and only one in the SUPER 10. Grand Rapids South Christian is of course led by David Kool - the sensation of last years state title championships.

Things are going well, according to the Grand Rapids Press...

The Sailors defeated host Unity Christian 73-54 Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to 32 games dating to last season. South Christian (16-0) clinched the O-K Gold conference championship Friday with a win against Hastings.


Sounds like fans are enjoying the run...

South gets assist from fans

Missing from the rankings are a few teams that I think could do some damage come tournament time. Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights, and Ludington all have potential.

At the Heights, things are finally starting to gel...

Payback for Heights

I witnessed a thriller a couple weeks ago as the Heights lost a thriller to Benton Harbor...

Desperation shot stuns Muskegon Heights

The Benton Harbor Tigers kept the thrills coming a few nights later at Kalamazoo...

Benton Harbor cuts down Giants

What struck me was that it seemed that the Tigers were not dominated by that single star ballplayer as we've seen in the recent past. Instead, they seemed capable of spreading it around...

Flint Powers will be a force to deal with...

Country Day falls to Flint Powers

but then so will Detroit Country Day....

Country Day too much for Arthur Hill, 82-53

as will the Saginaw area.

Arthur Hill makes free throws to top No. 1 SHS

Top-ranked Saginaw won the first meeting between the schools, and that was everyone's focus as game two arrived...

Emotions rule rivalry in Saginaw

And don't forget Unionville-Sebewaing and Jordan Bitzer in Class C

Bitzer scores record 45 in USA victory

Holt

No. 3 Holt survives Sexton with tip-in at the buzzer

or Okemos

Okemos opens early lead, stays tied for 1st place
And of course the PSL will make their strong showing, especially if the teams can remain focused after this weekend...

From the Detroit Free Press...PSL finals: The Detroit Public School League will have an instant replay of last year's championship game Friday when defending champ Redford plays Pershing in the title game in Cobo Arena, following the 5:30 consolation game between King and Southeastern.

All four teams shot poorly in the semifinals, and that may be because the quarterfinal games were played in high school gyms and the shooting background at Cobo is so different.

Hopefully, Redford and Pershing will be adjusted come tip-off time.


Pershing, Redford press on

Tournament time is nearly here and the final rounds of the state tournament are scheduled for March 23rd through March 25th

My request for vacation time was cleared today...how about yours???

It might have been born in Illinois in 1939, and trademarked by Illinois High School Association but I love Michigan's version of "March Madness"!

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hmmm - try ZabaSearch
The mailbox has been relatively boring as of late. Now, this may be a reflection of my writing skills, a lack of subjects that interest the audience, or the time of year...I'm not sure. The response has turned up a lead on a possible baseball record addition, a couple of requests for my opinion on subjects, a well written e-mail covering a few fundamentals on gymnastics, and two requests for assistance in finding people.

Hmmm....

One request was from Doug, asking for assistance in finding one "Russ Stut" - noted as the former owner of "Believe in Music" - a record store chain that I mentioned in a previous entry. Doug states he "used to work at Believe in Music in Muskgeon a long time ago", now lives in New York, and is trying to contact the owners of the chain.

No explanation on why Doug was looking for Russ.

Did Russ withhold a paycheck?

Is Doug ready to roll out a new chain of "Believe in Music" stores?

Does he have a need to acquire imaging rights to the company's distinctive black and yellow logo?
The second was asking if I remembered a basketball player named Leroy Collins. No school associated...no additional details...just the name.... Leroy Collins. This one came from a woman. Can't tell you her name, as I deleted the e-mail.

I don't remember Leroy...nor if I did, would I want to cause him any trouble....
My ultimate thought was that a response would probably lead to more e-mail offering me the chance to buy prescriptions via the internet....

Hmmm....

No e-mails from Pat stating that my response to her e-mail had done a service or disservice to gymnastics...

No e-mail from proud parents or alums detailing the careers of the daughters who participated in gymnastics.

Nothing on Volleyball...my lack of boys basketball coverage....or the Community for Equity ridiculous law suit....

No e-mails on the William Winfield's stellar coaching career...

No e-mail on readers' experiences related to the move of the football finals to Ford Field...

Nothing on boys basketball coaches Ray Lauwers (who according to Mick McCabe - is still coaching at Monroe St. Mary - although the article that appeared in yesterday's Detroit Free Press failed to mention his complete win-loss record...), Dave Soules, Jim Barker (now at Warren Zoe Christian), Mike Phelps, or Irv Dieterle.

No comments on Bob Davis, "The Shot" or even a mention that Davis' coach, Clayton Kowalk, who preceded him in death only a few weeks before...

Clayton Kowalk stopped coaching basketball at Sexton High School in 1964. He hadn't coached a basketball game since the late 1970s. But people in Lansing still called him "Coach." "We couldn't go anywhere in town ... without people knowing him," said his granddaughter Amy Johnson...
Heck - nothing even on my musical tastes...(which includes Warren Zevon (while I love nearly all his recordings, I'd suggest you check out new release, "Reconsider Me: The Love Songs" - a very interesting view of his recording career), the White Stripes (I love this band! Pick up the single "Walking with a Ghost"), Wilco ("I am Trying to Break Your Heart" and others), David Bowie ("Five Years" and many more), Roy Orbison (his version of "Danny Boy", as described by a reviewer on Amazon.com, is truly stunning!), Iggy Pop, Sly Stone, Fountains of Wayne, Kings of Leon and many others this morning...) or Christmas holiday viewing habits!

Hmmm

Am I reaching my target audience? Is Mlive advertising the blog on the wrong page? Do they need to add photos, as pictures are supposed to paint a thousand words...

Hmmm

I did get asked about "the longest losing streaks in Football & Basketball, and Baseball"....

While I do attempt to keep track of such numbers, I tend not to publicize these numbers. While I firmly believe much is learned in defeat, (and feel it is important to include wins and losses as well as ties the when it comes to records like coaching victories and victories by a school), I'd rather focus on the positives in prep sports.

I think there are far too may tales of loss in my newspaper and on the internet already....

I was also asked about my opinion on a proposed alteration to the presentation of state titles in wrestling.

"The justification," stated the writer, "is the comparison with California. Cali has over 1800 teams and only one champ per wight class, while Michigan has less than 1/3 of the total teams, yet they have 96 champions."


I don't think this one is broken...visit the Palace at Auburn Hills March 9th thru 11th if you want to see why. While I don't have the statistics to prove this, wrestling appears to be making a comeback in the state. Schools that discontinued wrestling programs seem to be returning to the sport.

I will note, however, that I'm not in favor of the proposal that champions the expansion of the state tournament for basketball.

I'm a traditionalist when it comes to this one. The tournament dates back to 1917 in Michigan. The first expansion came in 1919, when Class B was added to the single champion tournament that began in 1917. In 1922, Class C was added. Class D arrived in 1926. Due to the economic conditions, the Upper Peninsula began to host a separate tournament in 1932. The U.P. added a Class E tournament for schools with enrollment of 75 or less in 1941. With the exception of Class E, the tourney was reunited in 1948.

Many will point to the 1956 season as the tournaments greatest year, when three of the four champs came from the U.P. (Sports loves the underdog!)

In this case, more champions is not better. Basketball does not have a participation problem. From what I've seen in my research, participation has never been an issue. Thanks to NBA and NCAA marketing, I doubt it will in my lifetime. As long as the chance to dream about making millions in the sport in later years exists, and as long as crowds continue to assemble to watch, I'm pretty sure that people with participate.

Indiana high school basketball screwed up a good thing when it wiped out its tradition of a determining single champion. The National Hockey League screwed up when they removed the names Norris, Smythe, Patrick and Adams from their divisions, and the names Prince of Wales and Clarence Campbell from the conferences.

The chance to win a state title is a privilege. The chance to say that you were a Class A state champion, just like your grandfather or great grandfather, is and honor. The idea that Class A (with luck, the MHSAA will never go to Divisions in this one!) means the same thing now as it did back then is priceless.

According to a MHSAA press release
In boys and overall participation in 2003-04, Michigan ranked sixth with 173,896 boys taking part and a total figure of 302,648. In the individual sport rankings, Michigan was third in participation in ice hockey and skiing; fourth in basketball, bowling and tennis; fifth in cross country, football and wrestling; sixth in golf; seventh in baseball and swimming and diving; and eighth in soccer. Michigan ranks eighth in the country in population of boys 14-17 years of age.


They must be doing something right in the state.

I'm just not sure that a blog from the state's historian on high school sports is accomplishing what it set out to accomplish....

What are your thoughts???

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