Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ryan Williams To Cardinals, Kyle Rudolph Snagged By Vikings

Two standouts from Brian and I's respective alma maters were selected during the first two days of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Virginia Tech standout running back Ryan Williams went off the board first with the 38th overall pick to the Arizona Cardinals. He joins former Ohio State rusher Beanie Wells who had some injuries last season in the backfield.

The pick surprised many "experts" but as Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt explained, "To be quite honest with you, we're looking at pick 38 and we've got the 15th-ranked player starting us back in the face so that's something you really have to consider."

Williams was the second running back taken after Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram went at No. 28 to The New Orleans Saints.

Notre Dame's versatile tight end Kyle Rudolph was selected just five picks after Williams with the 43rd pick by the Minnesota Vikings.

Rudolph joins Brian and his wife Michelle in Minneapolis after catching 90 passes for 1,032 yards and eights touchdowns during his time in South Bend.

He also joins surprising first round selection Christian Ponder. The quarterback out of Florida State went to Minnesota with the 12th overall pick.

We wish both players the best of luck and look forward to more players from both schools going in the draft today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Response...

This was meant to be a comment to the earlier post, but I got a bit wordy...

Ok, so this is the part where I give my opinion...

Normally this is the part where I bag on ND. I'm not going to do that this time. They are, without a doubt, the best Women's lacrosse team in the country. I am, however, going to make some points.

First off, you're over a week late on the ND #1 news. You can thank Cornell for that. If they don't shock 'Cuse in the Dome the Orange are still on top.

Second, both polls are a little bit flawed in my opinion. I'm not saying that ND isn't #1 mathematically or otherwise, but the rest of the rankings don't stack up. Hopkins suffered losses to Princeton and Syracuse, yet is still atop both. In fact, Princeton is nowhere to be seen. They've fallen off after losing a legendary coach to Denver... who is having a tremendous year as a result. Hop plays a really, really light schedule most of the way through every year; Stinkers like Manhattan, UMBC and Siena.

On to Cornell... Sure they beat the Orange in Upstate NY's iconic athletic facility, but they're also sporting losses to Virginia (a good one to take) and to Army, a team struggling to stay alive in a very weak Patriot League. Meanwhile, Syracuse has played a tougher schedule than all the above and won many of them in convincing fashion. Inside Lacrosse

The Polls should read #1 - ND, #2 - Syracuse #3 - Cornell. Let it be noted that (the "Bible" known only to those in the circle) has ND with a computer rating that places them in 4th place. Hmmm....

As for the game at hand...

I have a hard time believing that Notre Dame walks into Dome Sweet Dome and leaves with a W. Even without stud attackman Tim Desko (likely out with an infected knee), the Orange offense is simply just too potent. They're outscoring opponents 137-94, the have 82 assisted goals on the season (see also: great ball movement/unselfish play) and they average 35 shots a game. JoJo Marasco can score on anybody in the game. Stephen Keogh (Tewaaraton nominee) is a Canadian sniper that scores at will. These two are supported by names like Daddio, Amidon and Palasek - (see video for intros) all legitimate scoring threats. Middie Jovan Miller brings explosive speed between the boxes, can play responsible defense and has a shot to rival any in the country. Local product Jeremy Thompson (who I have the misfortune of playing against in the box circuit every summer) and his braided hair are a face-off winning machine. Defensively, Syracuse has the best Long Stick Midfielder in the country in Joel White (Tewaaraton nominee). He shuts down the teams leading scorer game-in-and-game-out and has even stuck a few shots himself. Along with Close Defenseman John Lade (Tewaaraton nominee) they shut down shooters before Goalie John Galloway (NCAA all-time wins leader, Tewaaraton nominee. That's four in total if you're following along) even has to see a shot. This is a star-studded lineup and WILL be on the field in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend.

The Dome is a tough place to play in. The acoustic effects are strange, the crowd always excited. Goalies struggle with seeing the ball. Also, Notre Dame wears Adidas lax gear...gross. I'm predicting somewhere in the neighborhood of a 13-7 Syracuse victory.

Unfortunately my plans to see the game live have been foiled as I'll be fighting for my life against the Six Nations Slash on the Six Nations Reservation in Ontario, CAN.

Notre Dame Men's Lacrosse Ranked No. 1

It had been a long time coming for the Notre Dame Men's Lacrosse program under head coach Kevin Corrigan, but the Irish became the western most school in NCAA lacrosse history to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Both major polls, Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll and United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) have the Irish sitting atop all other collegiate programs. The spot has been earned thanks in part to accomplishments and positive momentum for the Irish program from prior seasons, including last season's run to the national championship game. It also helps that Notre Dame remains the only undefeated Division 1 program, sitting at 10-0 (5-0 Big East) on the year.

Corrigan is in his 23rd year as head coach at Notre Dame and has literally built the program from irrelevance to national power. Prior to his arrival the program had never earned a NCAA Tournament berth. Under Corrigan's leadership, though, Notre Dame has earned 15 appearances in the tournament. 

This Saturday, Corrigan's Irish squad will experience their toughest test of the 2011 season when they travel to Syracuse, NY to take on the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU at 7pm EST.

While the top spot in both major polls is quite the distinction, there is still much more to be accomplished this season for the Irish. Led by three Tewaaraton Trophy nominees in seniors Zach Brenneman (M), David Earl (M), and Kevin Ridgway (D), Notre Dame looks to knock off the Orange for the first time in school history. The Irish are winless in four previous attempts against the Orange. 

The ultimate goal this season, however, is to not only return to the national title, but to earn the school's first ever championship in the sport. They are one step closer with a No.1 ranking - a first in program history - and a sure bid to the NCAA tournament.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ESPN's Three For The Show: Tyrod Taylor PART 2

I've heard people say in the past that Michael Vick isn't a very smart quarterback. I've heard people say that Tyrod Taylor isn't an NFL quarterback at all. As Part 2 of ESPN's behind the scenes look at Tyrod's draft preparations shows, both guys know their stuff.

Michael's proven it on the field, but you can really tell here how much he's matured in football terms. You wouldn't expect it but there he is in the second of the videos below tutoring a young quarterback in the nuances of the west coast offense. A very proud moment for Hokie football.

The show also follows Auburn standout and Heisman Trophy winner (for now) Cam Newton along with Washington QB Jake Locker. Locker also represents himself well on the show when discussing X's and O's along with the physical aspects of things.

Cam Newton just doesn't seem very smart. Whenever he attempts to dissect a play, you can almost hear him thinking, "This guy should be here...or...wait...ummm...RUN!!!"

Anyway, this is quality television and good publicity for Mr. Taylor.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Flaming Lips: Too Awesome For Their Own Good?

Not possible.

The Flaming Lips are without a doubt America's premiere psychedelic pop/alternative/space rock/dream band, and there is no argument.

They routinely put on elaborate concerts complete with costumed performers and frontman Wayne Coyne's signature "man-sized" balloon for crowd-surfing.

The performance below is from the exemplary pseudo-concept album, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

"Do You Realize" is one of the final tracks on the album and builds to an epic climax that sort of makes you wonder why it wasn't the closing track.

They're the best thing to come out of Oklahoma since...well...ever.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Incubus Music

Just about every time I forget Incubus is still an active band they release a new record. That's the case once again as they have apparently readied a new album, If Not Now, When? slated for release July 12.

The first single is "Adolescents" which is available for purchase, but you can also listen to it below.

It seems to be pretty standard Incubus fare, though perhaps a bit generic on first listen. Still it's exciting to hear new music from the group, plus this could grow on me.

Anyway, Enjoy Incubus. Get it? (Hint: the band website is

Adolescents by incubus

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Been Awhile

No, I'm not referring to the once popular song by Staind. It's been awhile since I've posted and, therefore, awhile since we've had some ND coverage on the blog. The following will serve as a download of happenings since my last post.

Notre Dame Men's Basketball Wonders What Could Have Been
As Justin had mentioned, the Irish men's basketball season came to a screeching halt on the heels of a flat performance against Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Expectations were high on Mike Brey's squad after a tremendous regular season found the Irish ranked in the top 10.

A disappointing early loss in the Big East Tournament apparently did not leave as bitter a taste as one would have expected in the player's mouths. They looked relatively unimpressive against their first round NCAA opponent Akron and then struggled out of the gate against the Seminoles. As much as the pro-Irish crowd in Chicago was supposed to help the Irish it wound up being a non-factor thanks to the slow start.

Accolades continued to roll in for the Irish though even in defeat. Head Coach Mike Brey added to his Big East Coach of the Year award by being named AP Coach of the Year, beating out San Diego State's Steve Fisher. It marks the first such award for an Irish skipper. Notre Dame finished the season ranked No. 5 in the final poll, it's highest ranking under Brey.

Ben Hansbrough added to his Big East Player of the Year honors when he was named a second team All-American by Sporting News and third team All-American by Basketball Times. It capped a tremendous season for the veteran leader and heart of the Irish squad. Hansbrough now looks to earn a spot on an NBA roster as he prepares for the NBA draft.

Sky(lar) Was The Limit For Women's Basketball Program
Switching to the women's side of hoops, Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA championship game where the lady Irish fell to Texas A&M in a game that many, including yours truly, found more entertaining than the men's national championship game between Butler and Connecticut.

Skylar Diggins led the charge for the Irish throughout the entire tournament, putting up 20+ points during four out of the six tournament games and each of the final three.

En route to the title Notre Dame ended a 20-game losing streak to Pat Summitt's Tennessee Volunteers squad. It was Notre Dame's first ever win against the Volunteers. Perhaps more impressive than that feat was the Final Four victory over expected champion Connecticut. Maya Moore was the force behind the Huskies and took the game over late in the fourth, but Notre Dame's defense held strong in the waning minutes of the game to secure the Irish's second title game appearance in program history.

The pro-Irish crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN certainly helped will the Irish against the Huskies but could not stop the force of Danielle Adams from Texas A&M in the title game.

Irish Iced Over At Frozen Four In St. Paul, MN

Notre Dame's hockey team reached the Frozen Four for the second time in school history this season after defeating Merrimack College 4-3 in OT in the Elite Eight. Unfortunately the Irish did not fair as well in St. Paul as they did in Denver during the 2008 Frozen Four, where they advanced to the championship game before falling to Boston College.

Eventual champion Minnesota-Duluth held off the Irish in what started out as target practice during the first semifinal of the tournament. Five total goals in the first period saw the Bulldogs head to the locker room with a 3-2 lead.

Notre Dame rallied in the third period after entering down 4-2 with a short-handed goal from Calle Ridderwall, who was the hero in the 2008 Frozen Four that netted the game-winner against Michigan. The Irish could not sneak another past the Bulldogs' goalie and wound up a goal short with a 4-3 final score.

At least Irish fans can take solace in the fact that Minnesota-Duluth went on to defeat Michigan in the title game.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the first set of games (Notre Dame vs. Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan vs. North Dakota) thanks in part to the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota and to fellow Dillonite Jamie R for winning a lottery opportunity for tickets. Our view was great (see picture above) and even though the result was an Irish defeat it was still an amazing experience to be part of an NCAA championship event. The Excel Energy Center was a great venue to host the event.

Head Coach Jeff Jackson has clearly built the Irish into a perennial powerhouse and hopefully it will eventually lead to the first of many national titles for the Irish icers. What better way to christen the beautiful Compton Family Center opening next fall than by winning a national title? Seeing as the Irish were young this season (12 underclassmen saw significant ice time) they should make a run within the next few years.

Post season awards trickled in for the Irish as freshman T.J. Tynan was named National College Hockey Rookie of the Year by the Hockey Commissioners' Association. Tynan became the first player from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) conference to earn the honor. He led his fellow classmates across the nation in scoring with 23 goals and 21 assists for 54 points.

All in all it was a strong winter season for the Irish. Stay tuned in the coming days for a few updates on how the spring sports are faring.

Until then, Go Irish!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ESPN's Three For The Show: Tyrod Taylor

Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor is one of the most gifted athletes in the entire 2011 NFL Draft, but he continues to hear knocks on his ability to play his position. He's the fastetst quarterback in the draft (4.51 40-yard dash) and he really has an underrated arm.

He might be a small project, but the upside for him is tremendous.

Here's a look behind the scenes from ESPN as Tyrod prepares for the NFL Draft and all that goes into it.

Of special note in the highlight reel at the begining, at 2:42 there's a Tyrod run from a game in Blacksburg that I believe had Mr. Sienkiewicz and perhaps Mr. Jones in attendance. Correct if I'm wrong gentlemen, the memory is clouded by Evan Williams.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The New Main Street Singers

The final and largest group from A Mighty Wind are The New Main Street Singers.

The group is a reformation of the original Main Street Singers, led by Terry Bohner (John Michael Higgins) and his wife Laurie (Jane Lynch).

I've included the grand finale of the concert, the title track "A Mighty Wind". It won a Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

Also, we've got a scene featuring brilliant comic actor Fred Willard interrupting a band practice session.

Finally, we have a clip from the film that gives you a good feel for the back story portion of the film. Just great stuff. Again, if you haven't seen it check it out. The music holds up to multiples viewings/listens and the comedy is top notch.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Folksmen- Old Joe's Place

Part two of the look at the film A Mighty Wind brings us to folk trio The Folksmen.

The group features director and co-writer Christopher Guest as Alan Barrows, Harry Shearer as Mark Shubb and Michael Shearer as Jerry Palter.

Their big hit is today's featured cut, "Old Joe's Place" is about a run-down greasy spoon diner.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that all performers sing and play their instruments in all the songs from the movie. Unlike most live concert scenes in film, "A Mighty Wind" saw it's talented cast actually perform live in those parts.

In addition to the live track, I've included The Folksmen's hilarious cover of "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mitch & Mickey- Kiss At the End of the Rainbow

Not that I need justification to write or to bring something to your attention, but the following is being done because it's awesome.

If you've never seen the film A Mighty Wind you're most certainly missing out.

Directed and co-written by Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show) the movie is a mockumentary following the production of a folk music reunion concert held in honor of recently deceased folk producer Irving Steinbloom.

It brings together his three most famous acts in The New Main Street Singers, The Folksmen and Mitch & Mickey.

Since there are lot's of people in these groups, I'll feature them one at a time as we progress through the week.

First comes the duo of Mitch & Mickey featuring Mitch Cohen (Eugene Levy) and Mickey Crabbe (Catherine O'Hara).

Their most famous song is "A Kiss At the End of the Rainbow" (written by Michael McKean and his wife Annette O'Toole). In reality, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.

This is probably the most legitimate song featured in the film, as the lyrics aren't hilarious and therefore could easily be viewed as a classic folk tune. Observe:

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Strokes- You Only Live Once (Demo)

This song comes from The Strokes in the form of the rough demo for "You Only Live Once" off the band's 2006 release First Impressions Of Earth.

At this stage in the recording it was called "I'll Try Anything Once", and features lyrics much different than those of the song on the finished studio album.

This features only Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi playing keyboard and Julian Casablancas singing softly over it. Very mellow and a nice bare bones take on a cool song.

The song is in the new Sofia Coppola film Somewhere and features prominently in the movie's trailer.

And the album version.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh Sweet Relief...Mark Gottfried?

My apologies on the late follow-up to the passion-inducing story of N.C. State's basketball coaching search.

It ended unexpectedly with ESPN analyst and former college coach Mark Gottfried being named the new head coach of the Wolfpack.

Gottfried posted a 277-152 record at Murray State and Alabama including five NCAA Tournament appearances for the Crimson Tide in 11 seasons.

His results were fairly consistent until the end of his tenure, when he was forced to resign mid-season during the 2008-09 campaign.

There have been rumblings about questionable recruiting practices under Gottfried. The most notable was when he contacted Wake Forest commitment Tony Woods to attempt to get him at Alabama the day after Demon Deacon coach Skip Prosser died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

It'll be interesting to see how it pans out with Gottfried and State. It's safe to say he's an upgrade over the dismissed Sydney Lowe, but many a warm-body with heartbeat can make that claim.

Interestingly enough, I insinuated in my last post on the matter that N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow was thought to be difficult to work for and part of the unusual succession of coaches in Raleigh.

During Mark Gottfried's introduction press conference, Yow, rather dramatically accused Maryland head coach Gary Williams of trying to sabotage the Wolfpack coaching search.

"I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on, we all know that. OK, so whatever," Yow said.

Apparently, she and Williams have a long-standing feud dating back to Yow's time at Maryland. Williams is a prickly guy sometimes and Yow seems to be the same. I'm sure they're both lovely to work with.

I said the other day that this was an important hire, and it was. It certainly wasn't what N.C. State fans were looking for, but it was a decent choice after being spurned by State's top choices.

I'd give the hire a C+ at first glance. Gottfried will have more name recognition on the recruiting trail, but again that's where he likes to cause controversy.

Ultimately, don't expect a Steve Lavin type of charge put into the 'Pack next year with their new announcer-turned-coach, but they will be a bit better and that's a start.

Monday, April 4, 2011

N.C. State Still Looking For New Basketball Coach

I'd just like to take a moment to witness and make fun of the North Carolina State basketball program and athletic department as they flounder to replace former coach Sydney Lowe, who was fired this season after amassing an 86-78 record during his time in Raleigh.

Lowe was a baffling hire at the time. He was a State alumnus and was part of their 1983 Jim Valvano-coached National Champion squad, but he had posted a career record of just 79-228 as a head man in the NBA when hired to lead the Wolfpack.

Of course, Lowe was hired to replace longtime coach Herb Sendek, who was dismissed after five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (something Lowe never accomplished) and a 191-132 record at N.C. State.

Sendek went to the postseason in nine out of his ten seasons with the Wolfpack but was ultimately rewarded with a pink slip.

Now comes the news that flavor-of-the-month coach Shaka Smart from VCU chose to stay in Richmond after being offered the N.C. State job. Wichita State's Gregg Marshall was also a candidate, but is also choosing to stay at his current position.

So what does it say when an ACC team can't attract basketball coaches from mid-major schools?

It's partly a reflection of the mid-majors stepping up their payments, Smart is due a base salary of $1.2 million a year.

But also, it speaks rather poorly of N.C. State's athletic department. Athletic Director Debbie Yow is apparently no cup of tea to work for and the State fans still suffer from the delusion that their basketball program matters outside of Raleigh.

N.C. State is in a position to make a move in the ACC and reclaim what once was fleetingly theirs. But, this is a massively important hire, one which needs to be much improved from their result of the last search for a head coach.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Death Cab For Cutie Album On The Horizon

Death Cab For Cutie have a new album, Codes And Keys due out May 31.

The first single off the LP is "You Are A Tourist". It strikes me as a fairly vintage effort from the Pacific Northwest-based group.

The album has been described as being heavily influenced by Brian Eno and as being less guitar-centric than previous releases by the band.


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