Lambert sees bright Villa future

first_img Lambert, whose side were dire at home last season, was content to focus on the positives of Villa’s early dominance. “I thought in the first half we were outstanding. If we’d scored another couple I don’t think anyone could have begrudged us that and that would have made the second half a little more easy,” Lambert said. “Gaby, especially in the first half, was unplayable today. Excellent. “The movement of the midfield was terrific, the passing was so sharp, our willingness to go and win the game was excellent.” Lambert confirmed that Karim El Ahmadi was close to sealing a move back to former club Feyenoord but declared “nothing is moving forward” with his interest in Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley on the eve of transfer deadline day. Hull boss Steve Bruce gave a stinging assessment of his team’s struggles in the opening 45 minutes, declaring it the worst he has seen in his time at the club. He was also not willing to offer any free passes due to the midweek disappointment of crashing out of the Europa League on away goals. “I can’t get over how bad we were in the first half. I’ve been at the club a couple of years and that is arguably the worst I’ve seen us perform,” said Bruce. “I can’t remember us performing so badly. “I don’t look for excuses, I’ve just never seen so many people perform so badly. “Whether it’s a hangover (from Europe) or whatever I won’t accept it. I won’t accept a performance where we were so lifeless it’s incredible. “To win a game or take something in the Barclays Premier League you have to perform like we did in the second half. “We gifted them goals (in the first half), we made mistake after mistake, we didn’t get above a jog. We were that poor. “Maybe it’s a wake up call, maybe we were all getting carried away with all the nonsense that has been written about us.” Some expected another year of struggle after American businessman Lerner put the club on the market in the summer, a move that has yet to lead to any concrete interest, but Lambert feels the transparency has helped everyone. “I think what has helped is the chairman coming out and saying what he said,” explained the Scot. “That’s given people a clear picture of what is happening. “Everybody knows the situation with the football club now, the way it is, it’s out there. “The chairman’s being great, he’s done everything he can here. “The crowd have galvanised as well. They’ve realised if they stick with it and get right behind it I’m pretty sure we’ll win more than not.” Villa endured a slightly nervy finale against Hull as Nikica Jelavic’s deflected header halved a two-goal deficit created by the electric Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann inside 36 minutes. The hosts should have been home and dry by the hour mark, but saw Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood denied by the woodwork. Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes owner Randy Lerner’s honesty over his desire to sell the club has contributed to their best Barclays Premier League start in eight years. Press Association Villa’s 2-1 win over Hull, a scoreline that does not quite do justice to their dominance for the first hour, took them to seven points from a possible nine heading to the international break. That is their best opening three-game return since 2006/07 and a far cry from the embattled atmosphere that shrouded the club towards the end of last season. last_img read more

Kiffin gambles with moving Tuerk to center

first_img“Leveling the Playing Field” runs Mondays.  To comment on this story, email Sean at [email protected] or visit For all of his detractors who grumble about his predictable, cautious play-calling, no one can accuse USC head coach Lane Kiffin of not thinking outside the box in other ways. Of course, a great deal of that thinking has been controversial and not exactly aboveboard.News broke just last week that NCAA will institute, for all intents and purposes, a “Kiffin Rule” requiring coaches to tell referees when they switch a player’s number so that the officials can announce it over the public address system. This move was precipitated by Kiffin’s now-infamous decision to have redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Kessler don senior punter Kyle Negrete’s No. 35 jersey while sneaking for an unsuccessful two-point conversion against Colorado.But shenanigans aside, Kiffin has also exercised creativity with his player personnel, especially given the lack of roster depth brought about by the sanctions. Once Kiffin identifies a talented player on his team buried on the depth chart at one position, he has time and time again moved the player to compete at another position.Even with this in mind, perhaps the biggest surprise of spring football thus far is Kiffin’s decision to move freshman offensive lineman Max Tuerk to center. Kiffin has often praised Tuerk’s intelligence and foresees the 6-foot-6 behemoth adapting seamlessly to his new role, which will also require him to identify blitz packages and call out blocking assignments.Kiffin sports a mostly successful record on these roster moves to date with only a couple of exceptions, so it’s difficult to second-guess him too much.In fact, some of his moves later became transformative, including when he converted Dion Bailey into an All-Pac-12 linebacker after recruiting him as a safety.Similarly, former USC captain Rhett Ellison credits his current NFL success as a special teamer to his change from tight end to fullback in his senior season. His increased versatility convinced the Minnesota Vikings to take him in the 2012 NFL draft’s fourth round — much earlier than projected entering the year.His move also freed up more playing time for the talented tight end duo of Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer.Yet not all of Kiffin’s roster tinkering has panned out. Most notably, 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior defensive end Devon Kennard lined up at middle linebacker in 2010 and looked completely out of his element as the quarterback of the defense.In former defensive coach Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defensive scheme, the middle linebacker needed to drop back constantly to defend the soft underbelly of the system: short passes over the middle. Of course, such a responsibility sapped Kennard of his explosive pass rushing, which will one day earn him a healthy NFL paycheck.Unfortunately for USC, I believe Tuerk’s switch to center will come to resemble the Kennard misadventure at linebacker more than Bailey and Ellison’s successful moves — not because Tuerk can’t handle the position, but because USC needs him more at offensive tackle.Three practices in, the early returns on Tuerk’s switch are decidedly mixed, as there have been numerous fumbled exchanges between the quarterback and center. But such mistakes will surely diminish with experience. More worrisome is the fact that Tuerk is not the ideal height for the position. If redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Kessler, who is generally listed as 6-foot-1 on USC’s official roster, ultimately wins the starting quarterback nod, his field vision will be impaired by the towering Tuerk.The greatest concern, however, is that Tuerk, a 2012 All Pac-12 honorable mention selection despite only starting five games as a freshman, represents USC’s best option at the all-important left tackle position. Tuerk’s athleticism is wasted at center. The move doesn’t make much sense for a player who doubled as a tight end in spurts this season, especially given the alternatives present.Sophomore offensive tackle Aundrey Walker struggled last season to maintain his focus and tenacity throughout all four quarters, at times flashing the nastiness of former Trojan Matt Kalil on a pancake block and at other times getting beaten by a speed rush and then subsequently giving up and not even attempting to recover. By moving Walker’s principal competition for the starting left tackle spot, Kiffin fails to challenge the Cleveland native to maximize his potential.Upon breaking in a new quarterback this season, it’s critical that USC improves its offensive line play. Last season, with a savvy and elusive fourth-year starting quarterback, the Trojans still suffered 17 sacks. If the offensive line play doesn’t improve and if Kiffin doesn’t put his linemen in the best position possible to succeed, it won’t matter who wins the starting quarterback job.To succeed at any level, the quarterback needs to feel comfortable dropping back in the pocket. Whoever winds up taking over the reins of the offense will need maximum effort from Walker and trust that he will protect his blind side. If this doesn’t come to fruition, then the decision to move Tuerk to center will prove costly.last_img read more

Wellington softball team off to state for the first time since 1995

first_imgPitchingIP#PS%HRERKBBHR Winfield1000000141 Jacelyn Buck 433300 Madi Lewellen 200000 Wellington2044515152 Regional Championship: Wellington 3 Winfield 1 Brooke McCorkle 201110 LineupABRHRBIBBK McKenna Oathout –––––– Brooke McCorkle 5860.64652220 Avery Rusk 401112 Madi Lewellen 402500 Winning pitcher – Lewellen- Wellington Winning pitcher – McCorkle- Wellington Baylee DeJarnett 300001 Brooke McCorkle 202010 PitchingIP#PS%HRERKBBHR McKenna Oathout –––––– Jenna Rausch –––––– Madi Adams 301010 Wellington batting stats Taylor Zimmerman 020000 Follow us on Twitter. Totals2336217center_img Taylor Zimmerman 300002 LineupABRHRBIBBK Mulvane00212560 Erin Goodrum 221120 Wellington000003X360 Jacelyn Buck 301001 Madi Adams 211000 1234567RHE Avery Rusk 200001 Wellington batting stats Totals2815151472 Ryleigh Buck 242020 Gracie Fink 010000 Erin Goodrum 301102 Regional first round: Wellington 15 Mulvane 5 Ryleigh Buck is greeted at home after lifting Crusaders to a 2-1 lead after homer in bottom of Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — It was 1995. Bill Clinton was President. The Grunge sound was alive. Wellington was about to embark on a number of public projects like the building of the pool, downtown renovation. The new high school was still almost a decade away.And the Wellington girls softball team made it to the state tournament.It would be the last time a softball team would go to the state tournament until 2016, when Wellington will be making its triumphant return.The 2016 Crusaders are off to Salina after winning the regional championship in Worden Park Wednesday evening with a 3-1 victory over Winfield. Earlier in the day, Wellington would run-rule Mulvane 15-5 in five innings. The state tournament bracket has yet to be set but the Lady Dukes will play Thursday, March 26 in a single-elimination eight-team bracket.On Wednesday, Wellington had to come-from-behind after Winfield opened the game with a lead-off home run by senior sensation Kelsey Phillips. Winfield led 1-0 and it would loom large for 6 1/2 innings.Madi Lewellen is winning pitcher in regional championshipWellington’s winning pitcher Madi Lewellen nor the tenacious Crusader defense would allow another run the rest of the ball game. But the Lady Dukes weren’t manufacturing any offense on the other end either for the first five innings.In the top of the fifth, Winfield had girls on second and third with no outs, but Lewellen would strike out two swinging and left fielder Avery Rusk would make a diving catch to end the inning with no runs scored.Still, Wellington went into the bottom of sixth with the season on the brink.But resiliency has been a trademark of this Wellington team, and the Crusaders had made two comebacks against this same Viking team in the regular season.This would be no different. Madi Adams opened the inning with a single. She advanced to second on an Avery Rusk sacrifice bunt and then a throwing error passed second base sent Adams home.But Wellington wasn’t done. University of Central Florida bound player Ryleigh Buck, who has a .623 batting average and a .702 on-base percentage, stepped to the plate and knocked the ball over the center-field fence.She had been close before on two previous occasions but the balls fell short for pop-up flies.“I have been around softball long enough to know that the second I heard the smack that it was going to go over the fence,” said T.D. Buck, Wellington head girls softball coach.That made it 2-1 Wellington, but the Crusaders were not done. Brooke McCorkle would single. Then Erin Goodrum singled and Jacelyn Buck would single pinch runner Gracie Fink home to give the Crusaders a 3-1 lead going into the top of the seventh.Brooke McCorkle gets big catch in top of fifth.The Wellington defense then made quick work of the No. 7, 8, and 9 batters to secure the crown.With the win, Wellington girls athletics have pulled off the trifecta for team-oriented sports. Crusader teams have gone to state in volleyball, basketball and softball, a feat that has never occurred in girls athletics — not to mention four girls going to state in tennis.It’s been a long time since 1995. But the thing about history is there is something new every day.———In the earlier first-round regional game, Wellington had no trouble knocking out Mulvane – a team it split with during the regular season. Brooke McCorkle was the winning pitcher allowing six hits, two walks and striking out two.The Crusaders would generate 15 hits that included a home run by Baylee DeJarnett and a double by Avery Rusk and Erin Goodrum.Wellington opened with a 2-0 lead, but Mulvane came back to tie it in the top of the third. Then Wellington exploded with four runs in the bottom half of third and four runs in fourth. Leading 10-5 going into the bottom half of the fifth, Wellington would generate five runs to secure the run rule.See full photo gallery here. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comment (1) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. 0 Vote up Vote down Glenda Wright · 220 weeks ago Congratulations, Lady Crusaders! Good luck at State!! Report Reply 0 replies · active 220 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Abby Goodrum 311200 12345RHE Baylee DeJarnett 433100 Ryleigh Buck 311100 Madi Lewellen 7920.63411421last_img read more

Colts Neck Residents, Church Donate Funds to Help Union Beach Residents

first_imgCOLTS NECK – The Colts Neck Reformed Church Mission Committee presented a $5,000 check to the borough of Union Beach through its Operation Provide Comfort effort.The money will be used to help victims of Super Storm Sandy who reside in the borough, one of the towns hardest hit by the storm. One hundred percent of all donations will go to the residents of Union Beach. The fund at Colts Neck Community Church provides a rapid response to the requests from Union Beach residents.The purpose of the effort is to develop a long-term relationship between Union Beach and Colts Neck that will endure long after the storm. The approach is to leverage the resources of the township to help the residents of Union Beach who suffered the most devastation and to help collect and coordinate donations of money, physical goods and services to aid in the rebuilding effort.Additional information about Operation Provide Comfort is available by visiting the Colts Neck Township website or Operation Provide Comfort’s Facebook page.Pictured are Borough Administrator Jennifer Maier (left) and Clark Petrie, a member of the Colts Neck Reformed Church’s Mission Committee.last_img read more

Grad 2004-2005 squad repeats at Blair D’Andrea Memorial Alumni tourney

first_imgThe Grad 2004-2005 squad repeated as champions at the second Annual Blair D’Andrea Memorial Alumni Basketball Tournament on Boxing Day at the LV. Rogers Hangar. The champions rolled to a 5-0 record in the five-team round robin tournament Saturday in Fairview as they downed the Grad 2009-2012 squad in a 52-50 overtime thriller of the championship game.The runner-up Grad 2009-2012 squad finished with a 4-1 record and was led by former Mount Royal University point guard Chase Rickaby and former Columbia Bible College guard John Zak. The tournament, attracting 45 players, raised more than $1400 for the Blair D’Andrea Alumni Scholarship Society fund supporting post-secondary athletes and grassroots basketball development in the West Kootenays.The Grad 2004-2005 squad consisted of Jake Phelan, Addison Rickaby, Bryan Gaschnitz, Ryan Golik, Braden Klein, David Joseph, Galen Taylor, Jesse McLaughlin andunderclassmen Avery Kushner. Contributions to the fund can be made at any Royal Bank Canada branch or electronically with email money transfer via [email protected]last_img read more