Week Seven NFL picks 2014

IAGSROUND

Minnesota (+5½) at Bills – Bills*

Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis – Colts

Tennessee (+5) at Washington – Washington

Miami (+3½) at Chicago – Dolphins

Cleveland at Jacksonville (+5½) – Cleveland

Seattle at St. Louis (+6½) – Seattle

Carolina (+7) at Green Bay – Carolina

Atlanta (+7) at Baltimore – Atlanta

New Orleans (+3) at Detroit – Saints

Kansas City (+4) at San Diego – San Diego

Giants (+6½) at Dallas – Cowboys

Arizona at Oakland (+3½) – Cardinals

San Francisco (+6½) at Denver – 49ers

Houston (+3½) at Pittsburgh – Steelers

Standings

Gaughan 45-39-1 (4-2)
DiCesare 45-39-1 (4-2)
Skurski 45-39-1 (2-3)
Sullivan 38-46-1 (4-2)
Graham 38-46-1 (3-2-1)
Northrop 38-46-1 (3-3)
IAGS 38-46-1 (2-4)

Last week

New England at Bills (+3) — Pats
Pats 37-22. Win.

Denver at Jets (+7½) — Denver
Broncos 33-17. Win.

Pittsburgh (+2) at Cleveland — Steelers
Browns 31-10. Loss.

Jacksonville (+6) at Tennessee — Jacksonville
Titans 16-14. Win.

Chicago (+3) at Atlanta — Atlanta
Bears 27-13. Loss.

Green Bay at Miami (+3½) — Miami
Packers 27-24. Win.

Detroit at Minnesota (+2) — Minnesota
Lions 17-3. Loss.

Carolina (+7) at Cincinnati — Carolina
Tie 37-37. Win.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay (+3) — Baltimore
Ravens 48-17. Win.

San Diego at Oakland (+7) — San Diego*
Chargers 31-28. Loss.

Dallas (+9) at Seattle — Seattle
Cowboys 30-23. Loss.

Washington (+3½) at Arizona — Washington
Cardinals 30-20. Loss.

Giants (+2½) at Philadelphia — Giants
Eagles 27-0. Loss.

San Francisco at St. Louis (+3½) — 49ers
49ers 31-17. Win.

7-7

NFL Week Six picks 2014

After a week of questioning whether the dynasty had run its course, Brady & the Hoodie pounded the unbeaten Bengals, 43-17, on national TV. This week they prey on a backup quarterback and play spoilers to Terry Pegula’s first game as owner.

(If you’re looking for some encouragement, though, the Sabres beat the Atlanta Thrashers, 4-1, in Pegula’s first game as their owner.)

New England at Bills (+3) — Pats

Denver at Jets (+7½) — Denver

Pittsburgh (+2) at Cleveland — Steelers

Jacksonville (+6) at Tennessee — Jacksonville

Chicago (+3) at Atlanta — Atlanta

Green Bay at Miami (+3½) — Miami

Detroit at Minnesota (+2) — Minnesota

Carolina (+7) at Cincinnati — Carolina

Baltimore at Tampa Bay (+3) — Baltimore

San Diego at Oakland (+7) — San Diego*

Dallas (+9) at Seattle — Seattle

Washington (+3½) at Arizona — Washington

Giants (+2½) at Philadelphia — Giants

San Francisco at St. Louis (+3½) — 49ers

Standings

Gaughan 38-32-1 (3-2)
DiCesare 37-33-1 (3-2)
Skurski 36-34-1 (2-3)
Graham 33-37-1 (3-1-1)
Northrop 32-38-1 (3-2)
Sullivan 31-39-1 (3-2)
IAGS 31-39-1 (2-3)

Last week 

Bills +7 at Detroit — Detroit
Bills 17-14. Loss.

Chicago +2 at Carolina — Chicago*
Panthers 31-24 (OT). Loss.

Cleveland +1 at Tennessee — Cleveland
Browns 29-28. Win.

St. Louis +7 at Philadelphia — Philadelphia
Eagles 34-28. Loss.

Atlanta +4 at Giants — Atlanta
Giants 30-20. Loss.

Tampa +10 at New Orleans — New Orleans
Saints 37-31. Win.

Houston +5 at Dallas — Dallas
Cowboys 20-17 (OT). Loss.

Baltimore +3 at Indianapolis — Indianapolis
Colts 20-13. Win.

Pittsburgh -6 at Jacksonville — Pittsburgh
Steelers 17-9. Win.

Arizona +7 at Denver — Arizona
Broncos 41-20. Loss.

Kansas City +6 at San Francisco — Kansas City
49ers 22-17. Win.

Jets +6 at San Diego — San Diego
Chargers 31-0. Win.

Cincinnati -1 at New England — Cincinnati
Pats 43-17. Loss.

Seattle -7 at Washington — Seattle
Seahawks 27-17. Win.

7-7

 

Ken West’s Tucker claims to commit to SMU; team says it’s never heard of him

By Nick Veronica

aarontucker

Aaron Tucker

Writers who cover Southern Methodist University sports thought they had a scoop Friday afternoon when Kenmore West junior Aaron Tucker told them he had committed to play basketball for the Mustangs.

Tucker gave interviews and told a reporter “SMU is where I’m supposed to be.”

The only problem: SMU has never heard of Tucker.

Billy Embody, who broke the story, told me Tucker texted him Friday morning to say he had committed.

“We’ve had consistent contact about when he talked with coaches, when they offered, etc,” Embody said in a DM. “I asked him about his conversation with SMU and the lie began.”

Embody said he retracted his report after talking with a source close to the program who had never heard of Tucker and a phone call from SMU’s sports information director. (SMU confirmed separately to IAGS that it is not recruiting Tucker.)

Tucker exchanged DMs with Embody after the retraction and denied not having an offer, but stopped responding when Embody asked for his coach’s phone number.

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UPDATE: Tucker admitted to lying about his recruitment Sunday night. “I did it out of jealously”

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One writer on Embody’s site, PonyStampede.com, tweeted a link to a story he wrote Friday after a phone call with Tucker. The story has since been deleted, but I was able to get a screen grab.

“The biggest reason for committing was coach [Larry] Brown,” Tucker told writer Andrew Hattersley. “I just love the system and the way he preaches defense.”

Adam Grosbard, a writer for a different SMU blog, PonyPride.com, reported earlier this week that Tucker had an offer and would commit to SMU “without a doubt” after the high school season. That apparently changed Friday afternoon when he tweeted that Tucker had committed, but that was followed later by a retraction.

Several people have called Tucker out on Twitter. Tucker’s Rivals profile lists SMU as having “medium interest” and says St. Bonaventure, Siena and Toledo have offered the 6-foot-4 junior.

Tucker () retweeted a story about his commitment Friday afternoon but has not tweeted since reporters retracted their reports. His header picture is the SMU logo. Tucker recently transferred from crosstown rival Kenmore East, where he played point guard, and lived in Michigan before that (Detroit, to be specific).

“One thing my mom and dad have always instilled in me is be hungry and humble,” Tucker told the Tonawanda News for a story just this past week. “I try to be first in whatever I do. Not even from a basketball aspect but the academic aspect. I could have all the talent in the world, but if my grades aren’t right, I’ll never step on the floor.”

Tucker is also quoted in the article saying his father, identified as Robert, played basketball at Syracuse. No one named Tucker came up in three separate lists of every basketball player in Syracuse history. The only players named Rob or Robert were Robert Popp in 1939 and Rob McClanaghan at the turn of the millennium. If he went by Bob and has a different last name than Tucker, he would’ve had to have been in college in the 1970s.

“It’s nice [SMU] is so far from home because I didn’t want to be so close to my mom,” Tucker told a separate reporter earlier this month.

“I’m feeling really good about myself,” he concluded. “My confidence is at an all-time [high]. We’re working hard and we’ll have a big year.”

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UPDATE: NCCC assistant Mike Corbi sends this nugget:

NFL Week Five picks 2014

When the Bills switched to Kyle Orton, the betting lines didn’t change at all. Can’t tell if that’s good or bad.

IAGSROUNDBills +7 at Detroit — Detroit

Chicago +2 at Carolina — Chicago*

Cleveland +1 at Tennessee — Cleveland

St. Louis +7 at Philadelphia — Philadelphia

Atlanta +4 at Giants — Atlanta

Tampa +10 at New Orleans — New Orleans

Houston +5 at Dallas — Dallas

Baltimore +3 at Indianapolis — Indianapolis

Pittsburgh -6 at Jacksonville — Pittsburgh

Arizona +7 at Denver — Arizona

Kansas City +6 at San Francisco — Kansas City

Jets +6 at San Diego — San Diego

Cincinnati -1 at New England — Cincinnati

Seattle -7 at Washington — Seattle

Standings

DiCesare 31-25-1 (2-1)
Gaughan 29-27-1 (2-2)
Skurski 28-28-1 (2-2)
Graham 26-30-1 (2-1-1)
Northrop 27-29-1 (2-2)
Sullivan 25-31-1 (3-1)
IAGS 24-32-1 (2-2)

Last week

Bills +3 at Houston — Bills
Texans 23-17. Loss.

Oakland +4 at Miami — Oakland
Dolphins 38-14. Loss. (This game was actually in England.)

Green Bay -1.5 at Chicago — Chicago
Packers 38-17. Loss.

Tennessee +7.5 at Indianapolis — Indianapolis
Colts 41-17. Win.

Carolina +3.5 at Baltimore — Baltimore*
Ravens 38-10. Win.

Detroit -1.5 at Jets — Detroit
Lions 24-17. Win.

Tampa +7.5 at Pittsburgh — Pittsburgh
Bucs 27-24. Loss.

Jacksonville +13 at San Diego — San Diego
Chargers 33-14. Win.

Philadelphia +5.5 at San Francisco — Philadelphia
49ers 26-21. Win.

Atlanta -3 at Minnesota — Atlanta
Minnesota 41-28. Loss.

New Orleans -3 at Dallas — Dallas
Cowboys 38-17. Win.

New England -3.5 at Kansas City — New England
Chiefs 41-14. Loss.

6-6

5 questions for Canisius basketball in 2014-15

griffs_maac

By Nick Veronica

Canisius has its first official basketball practice of the season today. Here’s a look at five questions facing the Griffs in 2014-15.

1. Wait, before we start, remind me who’s on this team again:

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Canisius lost six players from last year’s team and added five new ones (don’t forget Billy Baron wasn’t using a scholarship).

Departures:
G Billy Baron (graduation)
G Chris Perez (graduation)
G Dominique Raney (scholarship not renewed)
G Lou Dunbar (scholarship not renewed/pursuing other opportunities)
F Chris Manhertz (graduation)
F Jordan Heath (graduation)
Asst. coach Mike Mennenga (Oregon)

Kassius Robertson

Kassius Robertson

Additions:
G Jamal Reynolds (JR)
G Raven Owen (FR)
G Jan Grzelinski (FR)
G Isaiah Gurley (FR)
F Cassidy Ryan (FR)
Asst. coach Mike Iuzzolino

Last season’s redshirts:
G Kassius Robertson
G Adam Weir
F Jermaine Crumpton

Which bring us to the 13-man roster:

Guards (8)

Jeremiah Williams, senior
Jamal Reynolds, junior
Zach Lewis, sophomore
Kassius Robertson, redshirt freshman
Adam Weir, redshirt freshman
Jan Grzelinski, freshman
Isaiah Gurley, freshman
Raven Owen, freshman

Forwards (5)

Josiah Heath, senior
Kevin Bleeker, junior
Phil Valenti, sophomore
Jermaine Crumpton, redshirt freshman
Cassidy Ryan, freshman

Don’t blink on Senior Day this year. You might miss the ceremony.

1. Thanks for that. Question 1 for real this time: I need some optimism in my life. What’s the absolute best-case scenario for this year’s Griffs?

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Well, the Griffs only return one starter from last season, so there will be plenty of new faces in the lineup. That usually doesn’t bode well for a team’s outlook, but since you’re looking for unbridled optimism here, let’s imagine everyone outperforms their projections, fits into their roles perfectly and no one gets injured.

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis becomes a stud and starts torching teams for 18 points a game, getting into consideration for Second Team All-MAAC. Josiah Heath brings it every night, finds his scoring touch and hauls in nine rebounds a game, combining with Phil Valenti to form a respectable inside game. Kevin Bleeker breaks out, Jeremiah Williams comes back with a chip on his shoulder after being ruled academically ineligible last year, Jan Grzelinski brings some Polish flair, Kassius Robertson is as good or better than advertised, Jamal Reynolds and Cassidy Ryan play at a level that forces Jim Baron to give them some floor time and local kids Jermaine Crumpton and Adam Weir are forces off the bench. (Switch Isaiah Gurley or Raven Owen in there anywhere you like.)

If all of those things go right, the Griffs play lock-down defense, catch some breaks in the schedule, get a handful of lucky bounces, calls go their way and they go on a tear through February, then maybe they sneak into the fifth seed and avoid the play-in round at the MAAC Tournament. That would be more impressive than anything Jim Baron has done at Canisius.

[RELATED: Lewis' ankle has 'significant sprain,' no breaks after CIT scare]

2. Seems like a longshot. What’s the absolute worst-case scenario this year?

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Remember 2012? That was the last time Canisius lost a lot of veterans all at once. If you’ve tried to erase that season from your memory, it was the year after Elton Frazier, Greg Logins, Julius Coles, Rob Goldsberry and Tomas Vazquez-Simmons all graduated and the team went 5-25. This year could be similar to that if things don’t go well.

Those Griffs couldn’t stop anybody. They had injuries up the wazoo and averaged the fewest assists in school history. That team needed a point guard like those walruses in Alaska need ice. Who runs the point this year? I don’t know, but it will be somebody who’s never done it before at this level. Lewis started 19 games last year but Billy Baron ran the show. Grzelinski is a point guard, but who knows if he’ll be able to adjust to Division I fast enough. Robertson and Gurley are supposed to be decent but were recruited as a shooting guards. Maybe Jeremiah Williams? The Griffs have eight guards on the roster so there should be some decent competition.

After that, there are still plenty of questions. Not only did the Griffs lose four starters, they lost five of their top six scorers from last season and four of their top five rebounders. Those numbers aren’t easily replaced. Last year’s team had the conference Player of the Year and only finished in fourth place. This year’s team is asking freshmen and sophomores to do jobs seniors had trouble with last year. The 2014-15 Griffs have more talent than the 2011-12 version, but the worst case here is the same: Canisius gets throttled all season and loses the battle with Niagara for last place in the MAAC.

[RELATED: Exit interview with former Griffs assistant Mike Mennenga]

3. Dang. So if those are the two extremes … does Canisius fall in the middle? Seventh or eighth place?

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Falling in between two extremes is usually a safe bet. But if you’re being realistic, the Griffs’ worst-case scenario is a lot more likely than the best-case scenario. I’d say Iona, Siena, Manhattan and Quinnipiac are the conference favorites this year. Then there’s a bunch of teams in the middle, and then Canisius, Niagara and Marist will battle it out for the last three seeds.

Phil Valenti

Phil Valenti

Offense might be hard to come by, and scoring will be especially thin in comparison with last year’s team, which set the school record for points in a season. Every returning player combined scored less than 20 points per game last year. Zach Lewis, an all-Rookie selection, has shown he can score, but what’s to stop teams from shifting their defense to take him out of the game? Can Phil Valenti and Josiah Heath score enough to make them pay? If not, it’ll likely be up to a rookie.

Canisius will almost certainly be in the play-in round at the MAAC Tournament. Having a play-in game doesn’t have the same stigma as it used to (before the conference expanded, seeds 7-10 had a play-in game; now it’s seeds 6-11), but those games are Thursday evening before the weekend of the tournament. If the Griffs are seeded low enough, there’s a chance they could be headed home before the party even starts.

[RELATED: Baron: 'It's going to be a rebuilding type of year for us']

4. Speaking of all the players who graduated, is this team going to get any rebounds?

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Good question. On the surface, it looks bad with Chris Manhertz and Jordan Heath out of the picture. But when you think about it, the Griffs didn’t rebound well last year, anyway. They had formidable players, but that didn’t translate to the stats. Canisius was dead last in the MAAC in rebounding. Dead last! So even if the Griffs are poor rebounders again, it’s not like it’ll be a big drop-off in production from what they were getting before. The only difference is if this year’s team is bad at rebounding, you’ll probably notice it more. Billy Baron & Co. were efficient enough on offense to make up for it. This year’s Griffs may not be.

[RELATED: Billy Baron signs with Lithuanian club

5. There’s a lot of young guys on the team. Who redshirts?

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We know Jim Baron loves his redshirts. Three players sat out last year and I’d expect at least three to sit out again this year. Baron usually keeps a short rotation but may be forced to go a little deeper this year. I don’t think any forwards will redshirt. Heath is a senior, Bleeker, Valenti and Crumpton already have, and if Ryan redshirted, an injury would make the Griffs seriously thin at the position.

That leaves guards. Grzelinski, Gurley and Owen are all true freshman. If Baron doesn’t get early indication that they could make an impact right away, they’ll be watching this year. Lewis won’t redshirt; he’s already established. Reynolds is a JUCO transfer, which should put him ahead of other players developmentally, but could mean he needs more seasoning. Williams is a senior so he probably won’t redshirt unless something is off academically. Exhibitions don’t count toward redshirting, so we’ll see at the first game on Nov. 15 who’s in and who’s out.

[RELATED: Canisius to face UMass, but big names absent on schedule]