Super Bowl XLVII
Garrett McCullough | sports editor
The storylines surrounding Super Bowl XLVII are impossible to avoid. Hidden within all of the hype is one of the best Super Bowl matchups of recent memory.
From Ray Lewis skits on Saturday Night Live to Manti Te’o’s interview with Katie Couric, to Randy Moss calling himself the greatest receiver while wearing the same jersey as Jerry Rice, football is permeating everyone’s daily lives. All media, even those outlets that never report on sports, have felt the need to cover at least one football topic over the last few weeks. With the Super Bowl being in a city that was underwater six years ago, it’s easy to see why.
Off the field, a Heisman hopeful was supposedly the victim of a “catfish scam.” While that drama has begun to subside, the Baltimore Ravens’ safety, Bernard Pollard, ruffled the feathers of all those in favor of the new, safer NFL. Toss in two quarterbacks who caught fire in the second half of the season, add two smash-mouth defenses and Super Bowl XLVII should be one of the most exciting in recent history. And on a note that is a little closer to home, two ex-MIAA players will be participating in the game as well.
Washburn cornerback Cary Williams starts for the Ravens and has had one of the best seasons of the Division II players in the NFL this year. In the regular season, Williams had 76 tackles, four interceptions (one of which he took back for six points) and even added a sack to his 2012 resume.
Fellow Washburn grad Michael Wilhoite of the San Francisco 49ers will most likely not make the same kind of impact as Williams, this being just his second season in the NFL. Wilhoite chalked up seven tackles as a linebacker, but with the superb linebacking crew the 49ers have, it is easy to see why his playing time was limited.
The politics of illegal hits and Ray Lewis certainly have made the weeks leading up to the big game more interesting, but the matchup of these two teams may be the best many of the younger generation have ever seen. The Ravens and the 49ers built their teams on the cornerstone of an intimidating defense, which both still have, but this season, both offenses blossomed into something special.
Tori Smith and Jacoby Jones anchor one of the best vertical offenses in the game, and Joe Flacco certainly has the arm strength to get it to them. On the other side, Colin Kaepernick and his trio of dangerous backs – Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Lamichael James – baffle defenses with the read-option. To make matters worse, they do this just when the defense figures out the read-option. Kaepernick reminds them that he also has a cannon for an arm and goes over the top.
This year could end up being the season where the actual game itself is talked about around the water cooler during the following weeks instead of the racy GoDaddy.com commercial.
<h2> Tourney hopes injured; Injuries taking toll on Pitt State Hoops’ teams</h2>
<h3> Tim Spears | sports columnist</h3>
ketball team made history with 23 regular-season victories and a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight. I hope fans enjoyed the ride while it lasted.
The season came with big expectations for the women’s program. Unfortunately, reality has set in with seven losses, including five in the conference. But the biggest loss may have been that of sophomore guard Hailey Roderique. Injures are always part of the game, but a Gorilla team already relying too much on star-forward Lizzy Jeronimus may be especially susceptible to the loss in offensive firepower.
The Pittsburg State women don’t do any one thing particularly well when compared to their MIAA counterparts. They stick to their game plan and try to out-execute their opponents. But the current crop of players, even with four returning starters, seems to lack the cohesiveness from last season’s campaign. Losing center Larissa Richards has left a hole in the Gorillas’ lineup which Lauren Brown and a more guard-focused strategy has been unable to fill.
This isn’t to say the Pitt State women’s team has no shot when it heads to Kansas City for the MIAA championship tournament. I expect the team to fare much better than last season’s second-round exit to Lincoln. But a conference championship, while a great achievement, is not the same as an NCAA championship. If Pitt State makes it in the NCAA bracket, keep your fingers crossed for another title-run, but I don’t expect the Gorillas to get past regional play.
The men’s team is a little more of an enigma. Despite being one of the worst in the conference at turnover margin, and dead last in the MIAA in their assist-to-turnover ratio, the Pitt State men still have the second-highest scoring offense in the conference because of their ability to rebound offensively. In victory and through losses, the men still have stuck to their identity: physicality.
But having an identity doesn’t mean they’re consistent.
The team that started the season with a 10-1 record has been unable to string together a back-to-back victory since its Jan. 3 win over Nebraska-Kearny. Luckily, conference play has packed the MIAA standings tight enough where the Gorillas are still a factor despite their 6-4 conference record. But problems remain as far as chemistry and finding consistent offense.
Freshman guard Kaleb Porter may be the poster child for this year’s squad. After averaging 17 points through the first 11 games, Porter has struggled with his shot, reaching double figures only twice in the past six games. It’s this kind of up-and-down play that makes the men’s team so hard to peg. If they lost every remaining game or won the MIAA championship, either way I would not be surprised.
The Gorilla men’s team is still a couple years from competing at the highest level and consistently expecting NCAA appearances. However, this year’s group can still make some noise when the MIAA tournament rolls around. Last season the Gorillas made it to the conference championship with some surprise wins before losing to Washburn. Expect seeding and matchups to play a big role in how far PSU goes this year. I expect Pitt State to at least make it to the semi-final round of the conference tourney.
<h2> Stumbling toward the finish line</h2>
<h3> Trent Johnson | sports reporter</h3>
A poor shooting night doomed the Gorilla women’s basketball team Jan. 23 in a 65-50 loss to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla.
The Gorillas shot just over 30 percent from the field overall and 8-31 from behind the three-point line. Sophomore Lizzy Jeronimus led the Gorillas with 18 points against the Riverhawks.
“Well, you gotta have a short memory in this league,” said Lane Lord, head coach. “Can’t get too high when you win, can’t get too low when you lose.”
An off-weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for Lord and his team as they took the past weekend off. It was in the middle of a stretch that saw the Gorillas playing a brutal six out of seven games on the road.
On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Gorillas tried to rebound from that loss a week ago on the road against Missouri Western State University.
The Gorilla women appeared fresh, focused and ready to bounce back, jumping out to a 7-2 lead just 2:31 into the game. The Gorillas led for the entire first half and took a 33-29 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the first 15 minutes was much of the same. The Gorillas pushed the lead out to eight points on two occasions.
The first tie since the scoreboard read 0-0 came with 7:04 left to go in the game. The Gorillas went a quick 5-0 run to regain control at 58-53.
The final six minutes took a turn in favor of the Griffons. MWSU ended the game on a 17-7 run to give the Gorilla women their first two-game losing streak all season.
“They’re so athletic. We try and block them out; they do a great job crashing the boards,” Lord said. “Gotta tip your cap to them, we had the lead the whole game and they made plays down the stretch.”
Jeronimus led the Gorillas with a double-double: 21 points and 10 rebounds. The Griffons were led by 6-foot-3 forward Heather Howard, who finished the game with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
It will not get any easier for the Gorillas as they will travel to Topeka on Saturday Feb. 2, to take on the Lady Blues of Washburn.
<h2> Moving on JaVon-less </h2>
<h3> Tyler Smith | sports reporter</h3>
The Pitt State men’s basketball team endured two hard-fought games over the past week on the road.
They lost a close game to Northeastern State University, 64-62, while also earning a win over the Missouri Western Griffons, 57-56.
Against NSU, the Gorillas had three players in double-figures as they lost a close game that came down to the buzzer.
PSU battled it out against the hard-nosed the NSU Riverhawks and took the lead late in the second half.
With just 52 seconds left to play, NSU hit a shot to tie the game.
Although they came close, the Gorillas couldn’t stop Northeastern’s Bryton Hobbs from making a big shot to take the lead 64-62.
With only 6.6 seconds left, senior Courtney Ingram pulled up for one last shot that missed the mark, giving the Hawks the win.
Freshman Kaleb Porter ended the game with 17 points, while senior Marky Nolen also racked up 10 points for the Gorillas. JaVon McGee scored 14 points on top of 11 rebounds in the NSU game.
In the 67th meeting between PSU and the Griffons, the Gorillas found themselves in a nail-biter once again.
The Gorillas manange to come out on top of this one, though, opposed to the previous game.
The Griffons attempted one last three-pointer at the end of regulation but missed, giving PSU the win.
PSU shot 42 percent from the field while out-rebounding the Griffons 42-33.
PSU had four players in double-figures, including Rico Pierrevilus with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Kaleb Porter, who had 13 points as well as three rebounds.
Nolen scored 12-points while grabbing five rebounds and Ingram ended the night with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Pitt State will continue its road trip as it tips off against Washburn University at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, in Topeka.