INSIDE THIS ISSUE
FEBRUARY 2009 Steve Fisch Publisher
The Golf Report 8
Benjamin’s golf passion: Building you the right club
BIG 12 BASKETBALL 14 KSU: Wildcat women not bothered by slight in polls 15 KU: Aldrich developing into topnotch center 17 MU: Lyons leads the Tigers 17 MIAA Tournament information HIGH SCHOOL 19 Wisner, Moore leading Blue Springs SPORTS COMMISSION 20 Event Calendar H.O.R.S.E. - N - AROUND 20 H.O.R.S.E. - N - Around update COMMENTARY 10 Now I understand why big league players miss cutoff men 10 What are the qualities you should look for in a coach? 11 KC Connection: Arkansas - Cowboys the choice over the Chiefs 11 Basketball body “art” and ’09 predictions FITNESS 18 How’s your New Year’s Resolution coming along? 18 Are you the “real deal” or a “slacker?”
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Pioli says much, divulges little . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Finding the right QB a priority for Chiefs . . . . . . . .5 Photo Gallery: Celebrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
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11730 W. 135th St., Suite 18 Overland Park, KS 66221 Phone/Fax: (913) 764-2050 Email: email@example.com www.kcsportspaper.com Editor Alan Eskew Sales 913-764-2050 Steve Fisch firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers Bill Althaus, Chris Balda, Audrey Harman, Tom Cannon, John Doolittle, Greg Echlin, Alan Eskew, David Garfield, Bill Grigsby, Alan Hoskins, Dr. Andrew Jacobs, John Landsberg, Jim Potoski, David Smale, David Bigge, Marc Bowman Contributing Photographers Scott Thomas, Ed Graunke, Alan Hoskins, Tom Cannon, Scott Weaver, Jim Gill, Warren Ingram On The Cover Photos by Scott Weaver Published Monthly Entire Contents © Kansas City Sports & Fitness 2009. The views and opinions of the contributing writers contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the editor and/or publisher.
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Pioli says much, divulges little By ALAN ESKEW, Editor
cott Pioli’s introductory press conference as the new Kansas City Chiefs general manager lasted just less than an hour. Much was said, but little was revealed. Everybody knows Pioli was coach Bill Belichick’s right-hand man and chief talent evaluator with the New England Patriots since 2000. In that time, the Patriots played in four Super Bowls, winning three. Pioli remains a private man. He won’t be brash as his predecessor, Carl Peterson. Pioli won’t be disclosing tons of information, but preferring to play it close to the vest. I would be surprised if Pioli would ever have his own radio show live at some Kansas City sports bar. Pioli, however, acknowledged the situation he inherited at Arrowhead Stadium is different than what he walked to with the Patriots. When he went to the Pats, they were 9-7, a contending team. The Chiefs went 2-14 in 2008 and have lost 23 of their past 25 games. The chore of rebuilding the Chiefs will be arduous. But don’t think it cannot be accomplished overnight. Turn the clock back to 2007 and the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons were the NFL dregs. In 2008, they made the playoffs. “With their talent, obviously there needs to be some changes on the football team,” Pioli said. “With the way the team performed, there needs to be changes.” Pioli waited 10 days before making the first major change, which was almost inevitable, firing head coach Herm Edwards with a year left on his contract. In that time frame, however, Pioli certainly picked Edwards’ brain and learned much about the talent level, or the lack of it, on the 2008 Chiefs. “I know this football team from afar,” Pioli said. “I don’t know this football team from inside this building. Those are two very different things.” The meetings with Edwards and his assists afforded Pioli an opportunity to garner valuable knowledge about the Chiefs from the inside. Pioli said individuals go to Pro Bowls, but “teams win championships.” “The goal is to build a team that consistently competes for championships, that has a long shelf life of being a good football team,” Pioli said. “The thing we’re trying to build here is not just a team for 2009, not just for 2010.
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How does he propose doing that? “I believe strongly in the draft,” Pioli said. “It’s the backbone of your football team. Every single pick is an important pick. Clark (Hunt, owner) and I had a conversation about picks and their importance. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a majority of them right.” Most NFL teams prefer to build through the draft, rather than free agents and trades. There was a phrase, a sentence, which Pioli repeated on what type of players he is seeking. “We’re going to build a big, strong, smart, fast, tough and disciplined football team,” Pioli said. “We’ll do that by going out and finding big, strong, fast, smart, tough and disciplined football players.” All Chiefs fans should be relieved. The Chiefs won’t be in the hunt for any dwarfs, 90-pound weaklings, dummies, clocked in a 6.4 40yard dash, brittle and unmanageable players. “I’m not here to collect talent,” Pioli said. “I’m here to build a football team.” Yet, if Pioli collects a plethora of talented football players, his chances of building a championship-caliber Chiefs team should increase. You think? “This is going to be a very methodical process in building this football team,” Pioli said. “We’re going to start from the ground up and build a foundation and move ahead and touch every part of the football operation. The patience I know Clark has told me he’s going to show is going to be rewarded.” Clark Hunt interviewed others for the vacancy, but Pioli clearly topped his list. “I was eager to get the best person and at the end of the day Scott was head and shoulders above everyone else we talked to,” Hunt said. “I went into the interview thinking there was no way that this individual could live up to the hype surrounding him. At the end of the interview, I was like, ‘wow, not only did he live up to it, he exceeded it.’” With the Pioli hiring, the Chiefs have begun the process of rebuilding the once-proud franchise, which has fallen on hard times the past decade. “I love challenges,” Pioli said. He certainly has one. Pioli photo by Scott Weaver, Gonzalez photo by Scott Thomas
Finding the right QB a priority for Chiefs eneral manager Scott Pioli’s major player personnel decision this off-season will be who will be quarterbacking the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 and beyond. The leading candidates are incumbent Tyler Thigpen, rookies-to-be Matt Stafford of Georgia and Mark Sanchez of Southern Cal and Matt Cassel of the New England Patriots. “The quarterback evaluation, this is going to be part of the process,” Pioli said. Thigpen, a second-year quarterback out of Costal Carolina who the Chiefs picked up off the waiver wire from the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 2, 2007, inherited the quarterback job last season after injuries to Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard. Instead of carrying a clipboard, Thigpen was thrust into action. Thigpen’s final statistical line included 230 completions in 420 attempts, a 54.8 completion percentage, for 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 76. The one glaring Thigpen stat, however, that stands out above all the rest is: 1-10, his record as a starter. Yes, Troy Aikman did not win a game his rookie year with Dallas before developing into a Hall of Fame quarterback and leading the Cowboy to three Super Bowl championships. To believe Thigpen would grow into an Aikman requires more faith than most have. Mel Kiper, the ESPN draft guru, has Stafford going first in the April draft with the Chiefs picking Sanchez third overall. “Every pick is important,” Pioli said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get the majority of them right.” Sanchez, who is listed at 6-3, 225 pounds, finished his junior season with 3,207 yards passing with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In the Rose Bowl, Sanchez shredded Penn State for 413 aerial yardage and was named the offensive MVP. After the game, Sanchez said it would be “hard” to leave USC for the NFL and would probably return for his senior season. However, when other junior quarterbacks and likely first-round
picks - Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, Tim Tebow of Florida (the past two Heisman Trophy winners) and Colt McCoy of Texas - announced they were staying in school; Sanchez opted to enter the draft, much to the chagrin of USC coach Pete Carroll. Sanchez became the first Trojans’ quarterback to turn pro before using up his eligibility since Todd Marinovich did after the 1990 season. While Sanchez has a strong arm, however, he comes with some red flags for some off-the-field issues. He was arrested in April 2006 after a female USC student accused him of sexual assault. He was released from jail the next day after posting $200,000 bail, but the university placed him on interim suspension, which included suspension from the football team. On June 3, 2006, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said no charges would be filed against Sanchez due to “lack of sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.” The woman left the university. Sanchez was required to take a rape awareness class at USC. He was reinstated to the university, but faced team discipline for underage drinking and using a fake ID on the night he was arrested. Previously, Sanchez had been detained, but not arrested by USC’s Department of Public Safety for allegedly breaking a window at a fraternity party. Pioli and the Chiefs will have to determine if Sanchez is worthy of a high first-round pick to be the future franchise quarterback.
Cassel, like Sanchez, went to USC, but never started at quarterback. He played behind Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer. New England picked Cassel in the seventh round in the 2005 draft. Cassel, playing behind AllPro Tom Brady, threw only 39 passes in his first three years with the Patriots. In the 2008 opener, ironically against the Chiefs, Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury when hit by safety Bernard Pollard. Cassel, who completed the final year of a four-year contract, completed 327 of 516 passes for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. With Brady expected back for 2009, there is speculation Cassel will be moving to another team.
Cassel is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2009, but the Patriots could retain him by applying the franchise tag. With Pioli’s background with the Patriots, he would have to be interested in acquiring Cassel if he is on the free agent market. “There is no other Tom Brady,” Pioli said. “And quite honestly, there is no other Matt Cassel. They are special football players. They’re special human beings.” The Chiefs certainly need a special quarterback to emerge in 2009.
NEW COACH UPDATE At the time we went to press with the February edition of Kansas City Sports & Fitness, the Chiefs had not named a new coach. For coverage on this event, visit our website: www.kcsportspaper.com
DERRICK THOMAS ELECTED TO NFL HALL OF FAME The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee announced on January 31st, that the late LB Derrick Thomas has been elected to the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009. The new inductees will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Sunday, August 8th. Thomas becomes the 10th member of the Chiefs to be enshrined in Canton.
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Photo Gallery: Celebrations here hasn’t been too much for the Chiefs to celebrate over the last few years. But our photographers Scott Thomas and Warren Ingram caught some of the opportunities the team had to celebrate success. A few are shown here.
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present THE GOLF REPORT
Benjamin’s golf passion: Building you the right club
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into consideration in finding just the right club nationally known with a resume that reads like or clubs for each individual. “My passion is to a “Who’s Who of Club Fitters.” Mizuno has determine the proper facets to maximize a pernamed him one of the Top 10 Club Fitters in son’s performance, not only the driver but also the Nation while he’s been “Club Fitter of the the irons. Year” for Ping, Once we Callaway and determine Titleist and the optimum National Club launch angle, Fitter of the ball spin, year for Taylor club head Made. To make speed and sure he stays ball speed, current, he we can build annually the right spends three or club.” more days Benjamin with each With a wide assortment of shafts and club heads from five builds a drivmanufacturer manufacturers and a Doppler radar launch monitor, Bert er or an iron in “post gradu- Benjamin can custom build golf clubs to fit every golfer’s from a ate training.” individual specifications countless assortment of shafts and club heads He said the performance of a golf club is a from each of five manufacturers and then matter of physics. “Consequently the club is places an order to the appropriate manufacturdynamic in its performance. As you swing, the er. When the new club or clubs arrive, he’s shaft flexes and the head bows down and tries been known to personally deliver them. “I love to close. As you swing the club, the physical characteristics differ for every individual golfer what I’m doing and try to the best of my ability to provide constant service. People really care and thus the option of shaft flex, weight of the about their golf equipment.” shaft, kick point of the shaft, loft of the driver No story would be complete without my head and degree to which the driver is exposed giving the launch monitor a try and in a matter are all facets of the club’s performance.” of minutes, Benjamin had added 15 more yards It is all of those facets that Benjamin takes in length with a 7-iron and 12 yards with a driver with the promise of much more once I got familiar it. I also learned that by toeing my club in to prevent the ball from slicing was costing me distance. “You were trying to control the club when all you have to do is swing and not worry about what the ball does,” Benjamin said. “A properly fit golf club allows players to swing in a normal fashion producing a longer and straighter golf flight.” Benjamin’s early years in Kansas City and San Francisco were not spent on a golf course but on a tennis court where he was ranked as a teenager in the Missouri Valley Golf Assn. A graduate of Pembroke Hill, his undergraduate years were spent at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland where he walked on and was the No. 1 singles and doubles player Photo by Alan Hoskins
laying golf with the wrong clubs is something akin to going elephant hunting with a BB gun. “Doesn’t work,” said Bert Benjamin, arguably Kansas City’s most noted club fitter. “For example, if you have club speed of 83 miles an hour with a spin rate of 2,000 and a launch angle of eight degrees, you’re using the wrong driver. It doesn’t get the ball in the air and nothing stops the ball quicker than the ground.” So how do you determine such factors as club speed and spin rate along with such obvious factors as shaft weight, length and flexibility and the degree a driver is exposed at address, you ask? Benjamin can provide everything you ever wanted to know and probably a whole lot more in a matter of minutes with a state-of-theart launch monitor at his place of business at Robin Nigro Golf Academy at 135th and Holmes in Martin City. “It’s a very sophisticated Doppler radar that actually tracts the ball in the air and gives me exact data on club speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rate of the ball,” Benjamin said. “You have to see the ball in the air. It’s not a matter of calculations, it actually tracts the flight of the ball. Then you find out the club that works based on years of training.” A part owner in Robin Nigro Golf Academy since it opened in 2000, Benjamin has become
all four years. An NCAA qualifier as a senior, he was also Cum Laude and named to the Outstanding College Athletes of America. “I was fortunate that the Davis Cup was played in Cleveland in two of the Alan four years I was there and Hoskins I was lucky enough to be a Contributing ball boy and warmed up Writer players like Rod Laver and it became clear very quickly that law school was more attractive.” While at Case, Benjamin had worked all four years in the college bookstore and during his junior year, he was put in charge of the law book section. “It whetted my curiosity about law school,” he said. White at UMKC law school, Benjamin took up golf. “My friends all played golf and when it came to recreational sports, if I wanted to continue spending time with my friends, I had to play golf. I was very lucky in that both of my great grandparents were founders of Oakwood so I had a great place to play.” Earning his law degree in 1975, Benjamin practiced law until 1984 when he purchased Hafekmeyer BMW (BMW Gallery), a dealership he held until selling it in 1995 to Baron BMW. “I decided it was time to devote my time to my passion which was golf,” said Benjamin, who by then was an accomplished amateur, reaching the Missouri Am quarterfinals and the semifinals of the Heart of America. It was also a time when golf was getting an influx of new equipment, new materials such as titanium and tungsten and new technology, and the perfect time for Benjamin to be introduced to club fitting by Mark Timms, the founder of Hoststix golf facilities in Phoenix. His career limits his playing time to about 20 times a year, but Benjamin stills plays to a zero to two handicap. Entering the PGA apprentice program in 2005, he passed the player ability test on his first try with a pair of 73’s at Alvamar and led his team to a first place tie in a PGA Pro Junior event.
CUTOFFS AND COACHES
Now I understand why big league players miss cutoff men s an old guy who has played and followed baseball for several years it has pained me the past few years to see major league ballplayers make stupid mistakes that even Little Leaguers would not make. Hitting the cutoff man is no longer something you can assume a major leaguer will accomplish. Basic base running is a forgotten art. Heck, we are lucky if they run hard to first? Rundowns? Bunting? Backing up on plays? Forget it. Like an old guy I would complain about the “good old days when ballplayers were ballplayers.” Now I realize I was insensitive to the afflictions affecting today’s pro players. A recent study showed that nearly eight percent of major league players are taking drugs for ADHD. Of course, this affliction conveniently allowed them to take otherwise banned stimulants. This explains everything. All this time I was thinking that players just didn’t know how to perform the basics of the game. I am now aware that they are sick and suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. No longer will I yell at an outfielder making millions of dollars who misses the
cutoff man by 30 feet. It’s not his fault. He is ill and taking medication for his disorder. As fans maybe we need to dial down our expectations for pro players. Maybe we should cheer when players can run on the field and find their positions without help. If a player hits the ball and runs to first rather than third we should be appreciative. To me knowing so many have ADHD will change how I view them. Now I will look on it more like the Special Olympics with baseball players. It’s just great that they are out there participating and giving it their best effort. Can someone help me out on a minor issue that has been bothering me for several seasons? Football players are now outfitted with pads everywhere. Quarterbacks wear flak jackets like they are going to be shot at. Helmets now look like they were designed by
the creator of Star Wars. With all these improvements in equipment and technology why do so many players lose their helmets during a game after a big hit? It has almost become commonplace to see one or two helmets on the ground after a play. You would think in this day and age someone could figure out how to keep the helmet on a player’s head. It doesn’t do much good on the ground. Recently there was a fuss about Kansas basketball coach Bill Self saying a few words to a high school player, who happened to be rated the No. 1 prep player in the country, after a game in Springfield, Mo. This violated some sort of rule about talking to a player during a non-talking time as outlined by the NCAA. NCAA rules are funny. It has become commonplace that a star recruit’s entire family moves with him to college. Does the college give them some sort of relocation
package? How can they afford that? How about dad being named to a key position at the college where his son has chosen to play? When the son’s eligibility ends the dad’s position miraculously disappear. Or he is John replaced by another father Landsberg of a talented high school Contributing player. Funny how that Writer works. I recently spoke to a former pro player who said someone else took his SAT test to get him into college. He majored in “Kinesiology” and had no idea what the word even meant. These are more than just “wink, wink” kinds of things. That’s why Self blowing a kiss to a high school kid doesn’t seem that big of a deal. Feel free to send your thoughts, comments, complaints, whatever to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the qualities you should look for in a coach? n mid January, the Kansas City Chiefs hired Scott Pioli as their new general manager as they attempt to turn the franchise around from a team that went 6-26 over the past two seasons. After a week and a half review, one of his first public moves was to fire head coach, Herman Edwards. Edwards had a very positive reputation with the players and was known for his ability to get along with organization employees. However, in the end a professional franchise that only won six out of 32 games over seasons, led to his eventual dismissal. In professional sports, it is about winning, making the playoffs and getting a championship. What about high school sports or youth sports? Is it and should it be about the same thing? No one wants to lose or likes to lose. Everyone, athletes, coaches, parents and fans are all happier when a team wins instead of loses. But, different levels of sports require different types of coaching. As a parent, when you begin to start your child in athletics, one of the first steps you take is to find a sport and a team to sign up your child. There are all kinds of leagues and levels of competition. Obviously, your child has to want to play the sport. But, once you decide what sport, your next challenge is to pick out a team. Youth sports is loaded with all kinds of individuals, qualified and unqualified who are coaching. One of the most important decisions you
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will make as a parent with your child’s athletic career, will begin with what team and what coach you decide to coach your child. When picking out a coach, I would suggest you talk to parents of other children who have been coached by this individual. Find out why the coach is coaching. How does he/she communicate with the kids and the parents? What are his/her goals for coaching? I believe the most important qualities for a coach at this level should be an excellent communicator. That means to not only be able to express himself, but to be a good listener. At the youth level, it should not be about winning, it should be about success and getting better. How do the coached coach kids when they fail. Do they yell and scream and are condescending to kids? Or do they teach and coach them to understand what they have to do to get better? Many people in our society feel we coddle our kids too much. Too often we just give out ribbons and trophies just for competing. Yes, it is important to reward young kids for participating, but we must also be able to teach them how to succeed. Good coaches at the youth level will be good communicators, good listeners, good delegators and individuals who are not coaching for their ego, but for the goal of seeing kids have fun and improve. At the high school level, it is a different situation. Most high school coaches coach
because they love coaching and teaching. Some do it for their ego, some for the extra money it provides, but most are in the profession because they want to. Usually the pay isn’t very good and the feedback is usually negative, especially when you have someone on your team who is not happy. And most high school teams have someone unhappy on the team. The qualities of a good high school coach are the same as a youth sport coach, but should also include excellent leadership skills. I always say a good coach is a good psychologist and at the high school level, you have to understand a lot of factors that contribute to an athlete’s participation. A good coach will be able to listen, communicate and be assertive when necessary. This individual will not be afraid to establish rules and back them up, and should also
know how to listen to and communicate with parents as well as athletes. Winning is an important component at the high school level, but making the experience a positive one that athletes will remember later in their Dr. Andrew life is more important. Jacobs, Ph.D High school coaches are Contributing often tremendous role Writer models because they are willing to help kids get better and accomplish their goals. Listen to the Dr. Andrew Jacobs Sport Psychology Hour from 7-8 a.m. Sundays on Sports Radio 810-AM WHB.
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ART AND ARKANSAS
KC Connection: Arkansas - Cowboys the choice over Chiefs n a recent trip south to Fayetteville, Arkansas, I decided to make my sports reporting rounds in a place where the chances of a local Major League, professional sports team were not quite in the cards. Obviously Arkansas has a pretty unique reputation across the country and there are many sports fans south of us, Arkansas is a wonderful place to see minor league sports. The Kansas City Royals’ Class AA farm club is in the Springdale-Bentonville area, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The relationship between the Naturals and Royals will likely mean more fans from that area making the trek to Kauffman Stadium as the minor league players develop into big league players. This area is also the home of David Glass, the Royals owner. In all my travels, I think this one may have stunned me the most based on the questions I asked, and the results to follow. Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, is almost straight south of Kansas City and I pretty much expected to hear that
if there is a sports city that many residents of Arkansas latch on to, it would be KC. It would take about six hours for someone to venture north on 71 and see the Royals or the Chiefs. But this answer to the question: “What professional team do you root for?” was met with a variety of answers and KC was not the leading city of choice. Surprisingly, Dallas and Houston prevailed with a sprinkling of St. Louis. Another choice for many University of Arkansas fans was also the Oakland Raider, since Darren McFadden was drafted fourth overall in the 2008 draft by the silver and black and had an outstanding game at Arrowhead. As I dug deeper, I found out that for football, the Dallas Cowboys reigned supreme, far more than the Chiefs. Obviously the Cowboys were featured as America’s team
Basketball body “art” and predictions for ’09 ow that the Super Bowl is out of the way with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning their sixth Lombardi Trophy, we can begin to focus on March Madness. Oh, of course, there is news out of Florida and Arizona where the boys of summer are loosening up in spring training. Here of late, I’ve been scouting basketball around the country and I am a bit underwhelmed at the proliferation of body art that our young gladiators are flaunting. Don’t misunderstand, I am not questioning the athletic ability of these talented athletes, but rather the less-than-class appearance. Even my Jayhawks are into the needle - with the twin Morris brothers sporting the look of a Picasso painting. This look sort of goes with the baggy drawers and otherwise general sloppy appearance of the general public. I’m almost to the point of expecting the model of tomorrow coming down the runway in a garbage can wearing red tennis shoes! Pardon me, but where the hell did we lose it? But so much for my preaching on the rotten state of the culture we are espousing. And I don’t want the economic times as an excuse for our demeanor. No, this slop yokel attitude started long before the leadership in our country took us down the alley. How in the world did I get off the game of roundball when my best intentions were to enlighten you on the state of the game and who to pick in the office pool. My pick at the moment would be the Louisville Cardinals. Rick Pitino is one great coach and he has a bench-load of talent to
throw at everybody. That did not help them on Ground Hog Day, however, as they were defeated by Connecticut. I thought for a while UCLA would be troublesome, but of late they have soured. Bill Duke, Connecticut and Grigsby Wake Forest seem to be Contributing the best in the East. Writer Pittsburgh has not thrown in the towel. The Big 12 has a number of programs that could be troublesome to anybody, particularly Texas, Oklahoma and even Kansas where Bill Self lost his starting five championship team from the season past. Don’t rule out Missouri or Baylor, despite its recent woes, from earning NCAA bids. I am writing with the basketball season only a third over, but in the monthly magazine business, deadlines force early evaluations that can come crashing down at any given moment. There is much excitement over the changes at Arrowhead, beginning with the new general manager, Scott Pioli, and I would hope that would mean more ticket sales. It is important, however, to give the new regime time to make this franchise a playoff contender. The nucleus of a contender is there...but it will take a while to stir the blend and come out with a quality product. Be patient, friends, the best is yet to come.
through the 1970s and 1980s on television each and every Sunday, and the memories of Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Bob Lilly, Randy White and others still provide a sense of integrity and supremacy that would last into the 1990s, when the Cowboys won three Super Bowls with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. The Cowboys, like the Chiefs, have not won a playoff game in the new millennium, but the Cowboys remain a heavy favorite in this Arkansas region over the Chiefs. Arkansas fans may make the trip to Kansas City this fall as the Cowboys are scheduled to play at Arrowhead. Although the drive to Dallas takes a hair longer, many make that drive to see the Cowboys. Sports bars graced paraphernalia from Texas. Another Lone Star State team, the Oilers from Houston and now the Texans, get some play, but not nearly as much as the Cowboys. When I asked residents why not KC, they pretty much provided me with the standard answer, “Why?” I was hoping for a grandiose response, but got nothing. As for baseball, the Astros receive most of the attention and why not. Baseball is a fan favorite and the fact Houston somewhat prevails stems for a legendary story about a young boy named Billy Bradley of El Dorado, Ark. and a light-hitting third baseman named Bob Aspromonte. I somewhat knew of the story, but the legend of what occurred still continues to this day. Fortunately, there are newspaper clippings, internet verification and local validation to what occurred back in 1965. Bradley, a nine-year-old Little Leaguer got struck by lighting as he left practice. He became blind and had to travel to Houston to see a specialist to provide hope for restoring his sight. Bradley made one special request, asking for Bob Aspromonte to sign a ball. Instead, he got a personal visit from the Houston infielder. Back then, they were know as the Colt 45’s, not becoming the Astros until 1965, and Billy was absolutely excited about meeting his favorite player. As Aspromonte left the hospital, Bily asked him to hit a home run for him, and Bob said that if he did, it would be for him. Listening on the radio, the request came true and Billy was on the road to recovery. Billy would return to Houston for medical treatment and met with Aspromonte again and asked him to hit a home run. He responded with a grand slam against the Cubs The story doesn’t end there. Billy’s sight NEXT MONTH:
was returning and he got to go to a Colt 45’s game and again, asked Aspromonte to hit another home run. Billy said he only heard the first two on the radio, but he actually wants to see one in person. Well, you guessed it, James Aspromonte hit a grand Peuster slam once again, this time Contributing against the Mets. Writer Sure this sounds like a tall tale, similar to many Babe Ruth stories, but look it up. It truly happened. Aspromonte would later lose part of his vision later in life and ended up seeing the same eye doctor that his young fan had. In most KC Connection articles, I try to tie one city with another and my trip to Arkansas was supposed to be an easy one for writing an article, unfortunately the only common ground that I saw isn’t happening today, but maybe in the future. Believe me, I hope this doesn’t happen, but if Kansas City doesn’t show improvement with the Royals and the Chiefs, the fear of losing these teams may become a reality. Since the deaths of the Kauffmans and Lamar Hunt, I fear the day that we experience what other cities have endured, “Team Sold and Moving.” However, with the tax money spent on Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums renovations, the Royals and Chiefs should be locked into Kansas City for several years. But that does beg the question, “Who would we root for?” if we did not have the Royals and Chiefs. Sure, we lost the NBA Kings to Sacramento and the NHL Scouts to Denver. Did any of us root for them after they left? I tried, but I couldn’t, I ended up rooting against them. What would happen if we lost one or both? Granted, I feel that are chances are slim of this occurring, but do any of you root for another team once the Royals or Chiefs are eliminated from making the playoffs? Luckily for many sports fans, we have fantasy baseball and football to keep us engrossed in the season. We end up rooting for the players more than our KC teams. One warning for Rotisserie baseball is you may never root for your home team again, but individuals. I know this is true with many fantasy geeks because I am one of them. In conclusion, Arkansas is truly a sports state that has some KC fans, but not as many as I thought. I expected to hear stories of trekking to KC and seeing George Brett or Lenny Dawson. Instead, I heard the tale of Bob Aspromonte and Billy Bradley. Unfortunately, we don’t hear many stories like that anymore.
MARCH MADNESS & GOLF PREVIEW
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The Core Values of Army Strong: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage HOOAH! hile many of you were ringing in 2009 with balloons, bubbly and big bands, Kansas City Sports & Fitness Publisher and Sports & Fitness Radio Show co-host Steve Fisch and I were treated to an educational excursion of eye-opening proportions. Thanks to our friends and corporate partners at the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Kansas City, we were whisked away to San Antonio to revel in the activities and festivities surrounding the 2009 U.S. Army AllAmerican Bowl. This East versus West classic, in its ninth year, featured 78 of the best senior high school players destined to become America’s future college and NFL stars. Not lost in all the helmets and handoffs was 97 of the top high school marching musicians comprising the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. When you lined up all these future leaders together on the Alamo Dome floor - attendees, family
members and spectators got a snapshot of the Army’s credo of strengthening individuals through development in training, values and experience. Truth be told, we were treated to MUCH more than just a football game. The Army Strong core values were dutifully on display from the time we stepped off the plane (Captain Zoraida L. Mather was our escort) until the time we were dropped off at the airport a few days later (Master Sergeant Paul Volpe was our escort). Allow me to brag about this memorable experience: Friday, January 2, 2009 After arriving at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk, Lieutenant Colonel Eric T. Reinkober (our KC connection) chaperoned us to a second-floor greeting area. We received our Tour Itinerary (all events listed in military time) and Goodie Bag that included an Army briefcase, white polo, hat, pins, dayplanner and more. Sweet haul, indeed. Made me feel as welcomed and wanted as Barack Obama on
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Inauguration Day. A few hours later Steve and I were suit-and-tie GQ models in the lobby chatting up with Rockhurst High football coach
Tony Severino and wife Marilyn. Eventually our entire posse was led on a short walk to the Grand Hyatt for the All-American Bowl Awards Dinner. It was quite an honorable presentation. The players and coaches were introduced under the bright lights a la rock-star status. Military personnel were dressed in their Class A/Dress Blue. I had a Purple Heart recipient at my table. You bet I shook his hand several times. Most memorable was the musical presentation by the 82nd Airborne Chorus. This well-oiled crew in active combat uniform was a singing and marching sensation that Simon Cowell would enthusiastically endorse. All I could think was that our country is in excellent hands with these willing warriors. Most hard-hitting was when double-leg amputee Sergeant Nathan Hunt took the stage in a wheelchair pushed by his wife and received his second Purple Heart. His was a chilling story of courage. I was deeply moved. Later we were enlightened by motivating speeches from General, Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli and NFL MVP Marshall Faulk. Both presented the 2009 U.S. Army Player of the Year award to running back Bryce Brown of Wichita East High School.
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KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
Saturday, January 3 On my sister’s birthday, our morning got rolling at 0800 with a Future Soldier Breakfast outdoors and adjacent to the Alamo Dome. Eating under a tent seemed very Army-ish. I had two wannabe
Soldiers, one male and one female, at my table. Each was enlisting to take advantage of the Army’s educational and occupational opportunities. Kenneth O. Preston, Sergeant Major of the Army, was the guest speaker. He dished out these compelling stats: • There are 1.1 million Army Soldiers serving today • Future Soldiers fall into the age category of 17-24 • Only three of 10 applicants are qualified (Army gets the best of the best) • 250,000 Soldiers are currently deployed in 80 countries • 275,000 Soldiers are currently furthering their education •15 Soldiers per day are earning a college degree After leaving the mess tent, we were granted one hour to patrol the interactive playground known as the Army Strong Zone. I’d describe it as a Disneyland of Military Might - featuring simulated helicopter rides, a rock-climbing wall, boot camp with barking drill instructor, simulated demonstrations and Guitar Hero-meets-Guns-and-Ammo video kiosks. I got to hoist a FIM-92 Stinger on my shoulder and role play as G.I. Jim. Steve and I encountered a 23-year-old medic in the Medic Theater. I was totally blown away by how this young man carried out his battlefield duties so effectively under ultra-intense conditions. Very impressive. This heroic Soldier should be a guest speaker in every high school across the country. U.S. Army All-American Bowl With the Army Strong Zone temporarily shut down for the game, everyone flocked into the Alamo Dome. Our group was guided by Colonel Robert B. Akam, Commander of the U.S. Army 5th Recruiting Brigade into a mid-level suite offering excellent sight lines and chow/refreshments. On the field before the game, 232 Future Soldiers were sworn in. First time I’d ever seen anything like that. Although the Chiefs have done that before games at Arrowhead Stadium. Nice touch for us civilians. The game evolved into a second-half thriller. The West won 30-17 as Brown caught two touchcontinued on next page down passes and
shared co-MVP honors. Steve and I spent most of the second half on the sidelines shooting photos and dodging cheerleaders. After the game, we went back to the Army Strong Zone and sat inside a military helicopter. Beautiful machine serving dutiful missions. Sunday, January 4 Special day to feel, smell and embrace Army Strong. The tenets of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage took center stage. Our morning began at 0915 with an “Educator Tour” bus trip to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) at Fort Sam Houston. We were herded into a small auditorium and welcomed by Commanding General Thomas P. Bostick. Over previous years, he oversaw $18 billion worth of reconstruction in Iraq. That is mind-boggling? Shortly thereafter commenced a Wounded Warrior Panel Discussion. Doubleleg amputee Hunt took the stage with a warrior who lost one leg and another who was burned over 40 percent of his body. They talked, we listened and asked follow-up questions. Inspiring presentation - totally unscripted and heartfelt. Up next was a tour of the BAMC Burn Unit and Occupational/Physical Therapy floors. The Army certainly spares no expense or expertise to fully rehabilitate its wounded warriors. Next came lunch and the sharing of chicken-and-rice with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough. This West Point graduate and baseball team captain was aboard the most-recent Space Shuttle Endeavour mission. We invited him to appear on our radio show later this month and he accepted. Stay tuned to the Kansas City Sports & Fitness Radio Show heard Fridays from 6-7 pm on 1140 and1160 AM and Saturdays from 8-9 am on Hot Talk 1510 AM. After chowing, we were shepherded to the Center for the Intrepid (CFI) for a tour of this gorgeous, fourstory facility that provides service members with severe extremity injuries and amputations the opportunity to maximize their ability to live and work productively. Once again, the Army showcased the absolute best technology and people available to take care of its own. One final bus ride took us to the San Antonio Gun Club for an outdoor shooting demonstration by two Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) Soldiers who were medal winners at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Fun-filled ending to fun-tastic weekend.
Monday, January 5 A quick tour of The Alamo, then we hit the airport. What were my three key takeaways? A Soldier in the U.S. Army is the embodiment of physical strength, emotional strength and strength of purpose. The U.S. Army is made up of the best-trained, most-dedicated and most-respected Soldiers in the world. There’s a guest activity called “Tandem Jump with the Golden Knigthts” - hope my skydiving number (hint hint, wink wink!) gets called in 2010. Remember that Army polo shirt I received on day one? I got four
autographs on it - two on each sleeve. On the left sleeve is Bostick and Kimbrough. On the right is Preston and Hunt. Four amazing Soldiers. Four heroic Americans.
HOOAH! There are more than 150 different jobs for Soldiers on active duty and 120 in the Army Reserve: Administrative Support Arts & Media Combat Computers & Technology Construction & Engineering Intelligence & Combat Support Legal & Law Enforcement Mechanics Transportation & Aviation For recruiting information visit goarmy.com
KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT
Wildcats women not bothered by slight in polls
“Very rarely does anyone else focus on us. A year ago, when we won the Big 12 outright, we didn’t do so because we were superior to any other team in our league. We just found ways to win. That’s why we don’t overreact. “Everyone else in our league is really good. Texas A&M is great. They’ve got two allAmericans on their team. Texas is tremendously talented. We understand that Oklahoma has been a Final Four pick the last three years. They’ve got players that Connecticut and Tennessee were recruiting the past few years. You’ve got Baylor. You’ve got Texas and Texas A&M and Oklahoma State that were Sweet 16 teams. You’ve got Iowa State. When you look at our league, it can be one win or two wins that separate first place from seventh place. “So, I don’t think any of us were surprised. We didn’t take it personally. We appreciate the strength in our league. But it’s motivation. It inspires you to want to achieve higher. I think it’s that simple.” Patterson said it is beneficial for her
Photo courtesy KSU Athletics
he Kansas State women’s basketball team entered February with an 18-2 record and 5-2 in the Big 12. The Wildcats have defeated teams from the Big 10, the SEC and the Pac 10, besides five teams from their own conference. Their only losses were 16 points at Oklahoma, which is ranked second nationally, and 60-50 at Iowa State, which is 22nd in the AP. But the Wildcats were ranked No. 14 in the AP and No. 12 in the coaches’ poll, behind three other teams from the Big 12. In the preseason polls, Kansas State, which won the Big 12 last season, was not ranked at all, although there were five conference teams that were ranked. Kansas State returned four of five starters, but was neglected in the ratings. So how bothered are the Wildcats by the lack of national respect? “We don’t put too much emphasis on preseason rankings,” senior guard Shalee Lehning said. Said sophomore guard Shalin Spani, “We just worry about inside our gym. We focus on getting better every day.” While her players have mastered the world of sports clichés, coach Deb Patterson agreed with the basic sentiment. “When we focus on ourselves, the best things happen,” said Patterson, who is in her 13th season as the KSU coach.
team to be overlooked. “I think we understood we were going to have to recreate the team,” she said. “You can’t replace your sister with your brother. They’re two distinct entities. The same is true when you lose a first-team all-Big 12 player (Kimberly Dietz). So we just go about our business every day. We knew people would not expect us to be a contender. For us, every day the challenge is to prove and establish that we believe we can be a contender.” History is repeating itself. Last year’s team was picked tied for eighth (third in the North) in the pre-season, and then went 13-3 to claim the program’s first outright Big 12 championship. The Wildcats became the first team in Big 12 women’s or men’s basketball history to go from last in the conference standings to first the next year. They lost Dietz, but everybody else is back. The key for Patterson is to develop her team around the talent it has, and Patterson is realistic. “We believe that every team is new. It’s a process of establishing a sense of who you are,” she said. “You define your goals and expectations relative to the personality and character you have. Anyone can say you want to do something. There’s a process of getting there. I can say I want us to be national champions, but I know Connecticut has a far better shot at it.”
Replacing Dietz has been tough. When she went down with a knee injury in the Wildcats’ Big 12 tournament loss to Iowa State, it ended a career in which she became the fourth player in school history to tally David 1,300 points and 300 Smale assists for her career, as Contributing she finished ranked 10th Writer in school history with 1,321 points and ninth in career assists with 306. The Wildcats have relied heavily on three players this season: Lehning, fellow senior Marlies Gipson and junior Ashley Sweat. Gipson and Sweat have given the Wildcats a strong presence inside, and Lehning has been stellar at the point. But the off-guard and small forward positions have been a struggle. “Everybody has done a great job,” Lehning said. “Ashley and Marlies have been great every night. The two newcomers making the most impact have been Shalin and Kari (Kincaid). They’ve done a great job of filling Kimberly’s role. They are three-point threats and give us good quality minutes.” Patterson is looking for consistency. “We’ve really leaned very hard on Lehning and Gipson,” she said. “We’ve had the real consistent play of Ashley Sweat. She’s given us a chance of having that foundation of three very solid pieces. “Then, by committee through the course of the season, we have tried to develop and maximize those 2 and 3 positions. There’s nothing that we bring to the floor that’s set. If you look at Lehning, Sweat and Gipson, you’ve got three who will be there every night. But against Iowa State, we played four players in our wing position and only one of them scored for us. We are literally working every possession up the floor, to get them to play to their strengths.” Until a fourth scorer steps up, the Wildcats will continue to rely mostly on a smothering defense. They’re first in the Big 12 and in the nation in points allowed per game at 49.8. “If we can’t drop down shots from all five positions, we have to play defense at an extremely high level,” Patterson said. Spani is probably the most likely to be the next key contributor. Patterson says Spani reminds her of Dietz in a lot of ways at this point in her career. Adding ball-handling skills will make her the type of all-around player Dietz became later in her career. “Shalin has made great progress,” Patterson said. “Physically she’s significantly more prepared for Division I basketball. She came off a high school continued on page 23
KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT
‘Finally, toward the end of the season,” Aldrich said, “things started to slow down.” Aldrich was never better than the Final Four against North Carolina. He came off the bench in the first half and dominated a stretch, outplaying National Player of Year Tyler Hansbrough, once ripping an offensive rebound away from him. On the biggest stage of his life, Aldrich had the best game of his life with eight points, seven boards and four blocks in 17 minutes. “I just took the opportunity and came out and tried to hold my own,” Aldrich said. “It definitely gave me confidence. Just playing against the best guy in college basketball and playing well, it really made me think that maybe I do have a little skill.” Aldrich worked tirelessly in the off-season to improve his skills. He got stronger, quicker, and developed a nice 15-to-17 foot jump shot. That work has paid off with some huge games this year. Aldrich scored 15 points and grabbed 16 boards in a loss to Syracuse at the Sprint Center. He went for 22 and 10 in the Jayhawks’ victory over ranked Tennessee. He logged 24 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks against Siena. Nicknamed the “Fly Swatter,” Aldrich goes after every block and rebound with a vengeance. “I just try to do everything,” Aldrich said. “I try to block shots. If I can’t get it, I try to alter it because not many teams are used to having a big guy that can really block shots.” Indeed, Aldrich is a major presence in the middle that makes plays happen on defense and offense. “We have really been stressing getting the ball to Cole inside because he is our best player in the paint,” sophomore guard Tyrel Reed said. “Whenever he gets a touch good things happen. He’s either going to kick it out or
Photo by Warren Ingram
Aldrich developing into topnotch center ole Aldrich has always been the center of attention. From grade school to the prep ranks, Aldrich towered above others on and off the court. Aldrich, a 6-11, 250-pound Kansas sophomore, is standing even taller and emerging as one of the top centers in college basketball. Coaching legend and current ESPN analyst Bobby Knight said Aldrich could be the best center in the nation by season’s end. Kent State coach Gene Ford believes Aldrich might already be there after he dominated the Golden Flashes with 10 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in a KU 87-60 victory. “Cole Aldrich might be the best center in the country,” Ford said. “I thought he was going to foul our whole team out in the first half. He buries you close to the rim and you end up fouling him because he pins you so deep. He is much improved. I saw him in the NCAA tournament (last March) because their draw called for them to play right before we did. He has to be the most improved player in college basketball. A year ago watching him, (he) wasn’t that impressive and now I watch him and he is amazing. He certainly is a big-time player at this point.” Aldrich has only gotten better since then. Entering February, Aldrich was averaging 15.0 points, 9.8 rebounds (No. 2 in Big 12) and a Big 12-leading 2.6 blocks in 28.7 minutes per game. Aldrich, a Bloomington, Minn., native, was also shooting a conference-best 63.5 percent from the field and 78.7 percent at the free-throw line. He’s had 11 double-doubles and is on pace to tie Raef LaFrentz for second-most double-doubles for a season in school history. Not bad numbers for a player who averaged just 2.8 points in 8.3 minutes per game last year as the fourth big man behind Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun. Arthur and Jackson are now in the NBA, while Kaun is playing professionally in Russia. “I think really just going against some great big guys in practice every day, grabbing rebounds, trying to block their shots, trying to make good post moves on them, it really improved my game,” Aldrich said. It was a gradual maturation process for Aldrich, who acknowledged to being lost as a freshman.
make a shot and get fouled.” Aldrich’s game kicked into higher gear after the lowest moment of his college career in an 84-67 loss at Arizona. He had 10 points (four shot attempts) and just four rebounds, while Arizona’s star big man Jordan Hill schooled him in the paint with 23 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. After the loss, Aldrich spoke to KU coach Bill Self. “He just said, ‘Make sure that doesn’t happen again. Make sure that’s your worst game all year,’” Aldrich said. He has been on a mission since then, averaging 17.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in Kansas’ next eight games, while shooting a sizzling 68.7 percent from the field. “He’s getting better all the time,” Self said. “It amazes me. We look at him like he’s our grizzled veteran out there. He played eight minutes a game (last season), and I bet four of those minutes were averaged in blowout wins. It’s pretty good that he’s done this well this fast. ...I think the way he is playing right now is how any coach would want their big guys to play. I think he is playing more aggressive. The thing that Cole does as well as anybody that I’ve coached is reading offensive rebounds. He will not let his man block him off. His effort on the offensive glass in phenomenal. It is far better than anyone else on
our team, and is the best in our league. He is leading the league in offensive rebounds per game with a guy named Blake Griffin (Oklahoma center) in our league. “I don’t know if many other (big) guys possess David his touch and hands and Garfield his ability to step away Contributing from the basket and run Writer and do some of the same things he does. He’s got a chance to be a special, special player.” Aldrich is flattered by all the hosannas, but he’s not caught up in the hype or playing in the NBA in the future. He just wants to lead KU to its fifth straight Big 12 championship and have another deep run in the NCAA tournament. “I think the sky’s the limit for us,” Aldrich said. “We can play really good, but then there are times we can play not so smart. We have to really (limit) those times that we don’t play so smart because it’s not easy in conference play. Teams are always gong to give you a tough game, whether you’re home or on the road. I just want to get better every day,” Aldrich said. “I just want to be the best Cole Aldrich can be. If that’s averaging this and continued on page 17
KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT By ALAN ESKEW, Editor
Lyons leads the Tigers
there were national players, a lot of guys now in the NBA or a lot of guys that were hot talents who are now in college. Playing against guys like that brought my game up to another level.” He was recruited by then coach Quin Snyder and played sparingly as a freshman in 2005-06, averaging 9.5 minutes and 2.6 points in 25 games. Anderson replaced Snyder the next season. “It was very difficult, just to come from running plays and a half-court offense to a fullcourt offense,” Lyons said of the coaching change and different styles. “Even though my body is made for it, it was kind of tough to just switch systems like that. He expects a lot of you. “My freshman and sophomore years were both rough and then with the coaching change and trying to get used to the system. A lot of people didn’t know I could do that stuff. At the end of last year when I was averaging all them points, people were surprised. They didn’t know that I could do it. But now that I’m comfortable, I feel like I can do that every day.” He averaged 13.1 points, including 14.3 in conference play, and 5.7 rebounds as a junior. He was named to the Big 12 AllImproved Team. He led the Tigers with six 20-point games and scored in double figures in 18 in the final 24 games. “I expect a whole lot more than last year,” Lyons said. “A lot of people were surprised about what I did last year. But I was just getting comfortable. So now that I’m comfortable I can play a whole lot better. “It was very important to me to improve from freshman to sophomore and then sophomore to junior. This year I expect to take it to another level. People are starting to recognize my talents and I’m starting to understand the system of coach Anderson.” There were games Lyons was dominant as a junior, like against Oklahoma State, Photo courtesy MU Athletics
eo Lyons took a circuitous less-traveled road to Missouri and has hit a couple of pot holes since his arrival in Columbia. Coach Mike Anderson suspended Lyons against Colorado in January after he was arrested for failure to display proof of insurance, a misdemeanor warrant resulting from a previous unpaid fine and failure to have lights on vehicle. Lyons was held of out the starting lineup the next four games. Lyons was suspended for the Nebraska game as a junior, along with four other Tigers, for violation of team rules when they were at a Columbia nightclub when teammate Stefhon Hannah suffered a broken jaw in an altercation. After his 2008 suspension, Lyons returned with vengeance, scoring 27 points and hauling in 18 rebounds against Oklahoma. He scored 22, 19 and 18 points in his next three games. Lyons returned to the starting lineup at the end of January this year and scored a career-high 30 points in a victory over Baylor, hitting 14 of 15 free throws and 8 of 11 from the field. Lyons reached the 1,000-point milestone in the game. Getting there from where Lyons was is a meandering journey. He was born in Topeka. His mother, Georgia, was an All-State volleyball player at Topeka West High. “I stopped her from going to college when I was born,” Lyons said. “I’m just carrying on the legacy.” The family moved to Kansas City. “He went to four different high schools,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “That’s no knock on Leo. I’m the first coach he’s been with for at least two years. You think about it.” Lyons averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds as a junior at Kansas City Piper, but transferred his senior season to Coastal Academy in Virginia Beach, where he averaged 21 points and eight rebounds. “That helped me a lot,” Lyons said. “When I went to the prep school level,
and Maryland, where he collected 23 points and 11 rebounds at the Sprint Center. Then there were games, Lyons would seemingly disappear. In the conference tournament last March, a loss to Nebraska, Lyons was 2-for-12 from the field, scored seven points and had six boards. “He was inconsistent. Leo was pretty young,” Anderson said. “I think now he understands his role a little bit more. He’s a bigger impact on the team now. He feels like he is. That’s a good feeling when you’re one of the upperclassmen. Now there are some things expected of you. Will he bring that to the table; that remains to be seen? I like his attitude. He’s one of the leaders. Our guys really respect him. Our young guys really look up to him.” Lyons has been more consistent as a senior, scoring in double figures in all but two games and 20 or more points in five games. He is averaging 14.8 points and 5.9 rebounds, both an increase over his junior season. He and DeMarre Carroll, who had 25 points against Baylor, provide the Tigers with a formidable tandem inside. “We didn’t have an answer for Lyons and Carroll,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “They both had a great game and got to the foul line for a lot of free throws. We needed to get them in foul trouble, and we couldn’t do it.” Lyons and Carroll have the Tigers on another path that should end with an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
KU’s Aldrich - continued from page 15 this (or) averaging 39 minutes from here on out, I just want to help the team.” While he’s come a long way in his second season, Aldrich is still a work in progress. “I’m definitely not polished at all,” he said. “There are a lot of things I can do just from a knowledge of the game part, watch a lot more film (and) doing a lot of different stuff on the court.” Self agrees. “He’s still young,” Self said. “I think he just needs to mature. And strength is a big part of that, where his body can handle it every day and his lower body strength is better where people can’t nudge him off balance. That would be the biggest thing.” His teammates certainly like having the happy-go-lucky 20-year-old along for the ride. “Cole is just Cole all the time,” sophomore guard Conner Teahan said. “He never changes. He’s the same way. He’s always the kind of lanky guy walking around, having a good time and telling jokes. What he says to his best friend, he’ll say to anybody. It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter if he just met you or not. He’s going to be himself and he’s not going to be anybody else. That’s what is so great about him.”
MIAA BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS March 5-8 The MIAA Basketball Championships are returning to the historic Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo., March 5-8, bringing highquality NCAA Division II basketball to area fans and alumni. All-session and single-session tickets are available through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com/miaa, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000, or at all area Ticketmaster outlets. The tournament tips off Thursday, March 5, with first-round men’s action, while the women’s first round games will be played on Friday, March 6. Sessions begin at noon and 6 p.m. each day. Semifinal round games are slated for Saturday, March 7, with the men playing in the afternoon session starting at noon, and the women taking over for the 6 p.m. session. Championship Sunday, March 8, begins with the men’s game at 1 p.m., immediately followed by the women’s title matchup. This is the seventh year the NCAA Division II conference with 11 schools in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska has conducted its tournament in the birthplace of championship collegiate basketball. MIAA members include the University of Central Missouri, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri Western State University, the University of NebraskaOmaha, Northwest Missouri State University, Pittsburg State University, Southwest Baptist University, Truman State University and Washburn University. The top eight men’s and top eight women’s teams will advance to Kansas City, with automatic berths to the NCAA Division II Championships at stake. The all-session ticket, which is good for seven sessions and all 14 games, is again available for $40 per person. Single-session tickets will be sold in advance for the first time, and those are available for $15. Student/youth tickets will still be available only at the Municipal box office during the event. “Using Ticketmaster will give fans more Junior C Matthew Rogers has helped outlets for pur- the Southwest Baptist Bearcats to a Top 10 ranking in the NABC Division II Poll chasing tickets, this season. (Photo by Matthew S. Hicks) and really gives our event a higher profile,” MIAA commissioner Jim Johnson said. “We hope the fans take advantage of the convenience of purchasing either online, through Ticketmaster’s toll-free number or at one of the many other available outlets throughout the Midwest.” Institutional passes are on sale at MIAA campuses. For $30, the ticket holder is guaranteed admission to every game for their favorite MIAA school - men’s and women’s - for a maximum of five sessions (10 games). Once the school is completely eliminated from the tournament, the ticket is no longer valid. All-session tickets also will be available on campuses which aren’t Ticketmaster outlets. KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
THE HEALTH & FITNESS REPORT
How’s your New Year’s Resolution coming along? ere we are into the second month of the New Year and like most, have already failed at our New Year’s Resolution…to lose weight. Nevertheless, don’t despair too much…you are in good company. Fifty-five percent of adults in America are overweight. So how do you get back on your weight loss wagon? First, make a commitment to yourself to look and feel better. Secondly, don’t diet. Diets fail because they lower your caloric intake below the basal metabolic rate, creating a negative energy balance. You will lose weight, but it will be muscle loss. Make your New Year’s Resolution a way of life. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with a weight loss program, and the key to success for those millions of Americans who made a New Year’s commitment to shed extra pounds. Outlined below are a few goals as you work towards keeping your commitment to yourself in 2006.
Goal No. 1: Figure out when and why you have “snack attacks.” Keep a log of why you ate and how you felt while doing so. This exercise will help you begin to identify over-eating or binge eating triggers and begin to avoid them. Goal No. 2: Eat a low fat, balanced diet each day. We do need some fat in our diets, but we simply get too much of the bad kind in our diets. Work towards reducing the amount of fat intake down to 20-50 grams per day. Read the labels and stick with foods with no Trans Fats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Each one of us has different energy needs, body compositions, and chemistries. What works for one person, does not necessarily work for another. Goal No. 3: Eating to the point of satisfaction. Eat only when you are hungry will help you to recognize the feeling of hunger and eat
only when you feel hungry. If you fill yourself up each time, you will lose that ability, causing you to eat any time you think you want to eat, or see a delicious food, when in reality you are not even hungry. You are actually saving yourself calories! At the end of each meal get into the habit of asking yourself if you are full or satisfied. Eat to satisfy, not be full. Goal No. 4: Eat every 3 hours up to 6 meals per day. Eating increases your metabolism, so by eating six meals a day you spread your metabolism over the day. Eating one or two large meals a day gives one big energy boost, but your metabolism receives little help during the rest of the day. This technique gives your metabolism a boost at each meal. Look at your daily routine and lifestyle, using this as a guide to begin eating, when to eat throughout the day, and when to stop eating. The total daily caloric intake will need to be divided by six to determine how many calo-
ries should be consumed at each meal. Goal No. 5: Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. Try to eat bigger meals earlier in the day. We typically need more energy during the day than in the Audrey evening, and partly Harman because eating three hours Contributing before bedtime will autoWriter matically increase your weight by two to three pounds. Your metabolism simply does not increase to the same rate late in the day. Your body knows when you will go to sleep not wanting to be “revved up.” Calories eaten before bedtime will be converted to fat more quickly. Goal No. 6: Drink plenty of water. Eight glasses per day is the bare minimum…even as much as one gallon per day is continued on next page
Are you the “real deal” or a “slacker?”
ver the years, I have observed both directly and indirectly many individuals performing their fitness routines. You get
an interesting perspective when you see the same individuals year round. Interestingly enough, I have been in gyms on the west coast, far north and Kansas City and you see the same types of individuals and situations, regardless of geography. My goal with people-and these articleshas always been to get them exercising regularly - and also exercising productively. As such I have noticed so many aren’t getting what they could out of their workout, thus not reaching their potential. This is for many reasons, and I want to say not everyone has to be an Olympic athlete when they workout. Any physical activity is better than none. But I have observed and have proven many a time that the average Joe can make great progress in his physique or
fitness regardless of whether he was the “90lb weakling.” It just requires effort. I try to get people to have a good “workout” ethic, and that is more mental than physical. When you go in the gym ideally you should have a goal, and be focused on working hard to achieve it. Here are some common signs and see if you are the “real deal” or “slacker” - but know it is very easy to go from one to the other. What do you do on the treadmill? Often times I see people holding on to the handrails. (Course this goes for the Stairmasters as well) If you have a genuine balance/physical disability, this is acceptable. If not, stop it immediately. Holding on to the
handrails not only lowers your calorie burning (you are working less hard), but also reduces the cardio benefit. People use cardio equipment for two reasons weight loss or cardiovascular improvement. Chris Holding on reduces both. Balda Also do you ever check Contributing your heart rate? This can Writer be done with either a store bought monitor or checking your pulse with your finger. For most people if you are not doing a minimum of 120-beats a minute, you are not working out hard enough for maximal benefit. How is your form on the weights? There are too many exercises and techniques to go through here, but the bottom line is: Do you control the weights or do they control you? If you do a bench, do you have to arch your back and butt off the bench to finish a rep? Is so, that is not the proper form. Building strength is something anyone can do, however you will not improve with bad form. Most of the people I see swinging and thrusting look the same and never get stronger. Lower your weights to a level that allows the none moving limbs to remain still. Your strength will improve and you’ll be less likely to injure yourself. For an added benefit, I challenge you to lower and raise the weights with a five-second tempo. It is very hard to cheat and your muscles will be thoroughly worked with less weight. continued on page 20
KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
HIGH SCHOOL REPORT By BILL ALTHAUS, Contributing Writer
Wisner, Moore leading Blue Springs reg Wisner and Drew Moore are two unexpected stars on the biggest surprise among boys prep basketball teams in the metro area. The guard duo is a big reason the Blue Springs basketball team is off to a winning start, although many people believed this would be a rebuilding year for coach Frank Wheeler. The year began with a bang, thanks to the Wildcats talented duo. “I’m sure they’ll never forget the first game and neither will I,” Wheeler said. “We saw hints of what those two guys could do last year, but they have really turned it up a notch and are each having a great season.” In what could turn out to be the most dramatic win of the season for the upstart Wildcats, Moore hit a trey at the buzzer to send the season opener against Truman into overtime. Wisner, with defenders draped all over him, let a very long 3-point shot fly and it hit nothing but net as the Wildcats downed the Patriots 66-65. At the time, it was heralded as the biggest upset of the young season. But this Wildcat team is much, much better than anyone thought before the season got underway.
“Just look at our team, I can see why people didn’t think we were going to be that good,” said Moore, who stands 5-foot-8. “We’re not the most intimidating team in the area. But we’re going to do all the little things to win games. And no team is going to work harder than we are.” Wisner, who is listed at 6-feet, nodded in agreement. “I have a bet with (2008 graduate and former Wildcat guard) Bret Schwartz that our team is going to win more games than his team did last year,” Wisner said, grinning. “It’s looking pretty good right now. They were 10-15. “Before the season started, we didn’t know what to expect. But winning against Truman like we did got us a lot of confidence, and we’ve just built on that.” Wisner and Moore have become the
Wildcats’ go-to players while building the winning record. “They’re two of the better guards we faced this year,” Truman coach Billy Guinnee said. “Blue Springs is going to surprise some people this year. Frank’s such a good coach and his kids play hard - and those two guards can shoot.” Wisner and Moore came up with another big effort in a 68-55 victory over Lee’s Summit. Moore scored 24 of his game-high 28 points in the second half and Wisner added 10. “They’re capable of scoring 20 or more points a game,” Wheeler said, “but we don’t need them to score that many points. They’re averaging about 12 to 14 points a game, playing great defense and Drew does a great job as our point guard. “If someone is open, they better be ready to get the ball, because he’s going to find
Resolutions - continued from page 18
Goal No. 7: Eat More Protein. High protein foods slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine, helping you feel satisfied longer, and uses more energy to digest than it does to digest fat or carbohydrates. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar levels preventing the quick rise in blood sugar and hunger-bell-ringing fall that occurs after eating a carbohydrate like bread, pasta or a baked potato. Try to include two to four delicious Protein Muffin Bars. They are very healthy, gluten free, easy to take with you and much tastier than a chicken breast.
Goal No. 9: Take Juice Plus. Juice Plus is whole food based and is a perfect balance of 17 fruits, vegetables, and grains scientifically proven 100 percent bioavailability. Juice Plus is the most independently researched vitamin supplement in the world. Since making Juice Plus my daily habit in 2006, I have been able to stop taking five prescription medications that were costing me nearly $120 per month with my copay. I have never felt better. For $1.50 a day per person, Juice Plus is an extremely cost effective way for my family and me to get our daily nutrients. To get the same nutritional value in one daily dose, it would cost more than $8 per day per person. By incorporating these goals into your lifestyle, you will see results and find it easier to keep your commitment to yourself to achieve a healthier you throughout your life, not just 2009.
even better particularly if you are exercising. Water is essential to life. A person can survive without water for at most three days, making water the most important nutrient. Some experts say approximately 70 percent of your body weight is water. The following are just some of the benefits of drinking water: • Water has a filling effect as it fills you up so you do not overeat. • The thirst-hunger response - drinking enough water, you can control artificial hunger. • Better workouts - your exercising sessions will improve in length and intensity if you are getting enough water. • Water for muscles - 25 percent of fat is water, whereas muscles are made up of 70 percent water. Water helps you maintain and add muscle, which in turn burns fat. • Storage of glycogen - glycogen is a form of carbohydrates stored in your muscles use as energy. Each glycogen holds about 2.5 to 3 grams of water. The more fit you are the more calories you will burn and at a higher rate--for which you will need more water. • Spread the amount of water you drink throughout the day. Try to drink a glass in the morning, before you exercise, two after. Drink one before lunch, another between lunch and dinner, and the last one after dinner. Also, try not to drink water too late in the evening, as it will wake you up during the night.
Goal No. 8: Exercise Regularly. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure and even improves arthritis. Exercise keeps you healthy, both mentally and physically, and makes you look and feel better.
them. And the fact that he can score is just an added bonus.” Both are goal setters and their goals have a similar ring. “I want this team to do better than last year’s team, and I want to win a district game,” Wisner said. “I like to set realistic goals, and I think we can accomplish each one of those goals.” Said Moore: “It would be huge to go to state, and the way we’re playing now, who knows. But I want to have a winning season and win a district game. Everything else can kind of take care of itself.” Bill Althaus is a sports writer/columnist for The Examiner. You can read his work online at www.examiner.net.
Audrey Harman is a Nutrition Consultant and can be reached 913707-4717 or at www.NutritionByAudrey.com.
KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS
UPCOMING EVENTS February 6
2009 WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration, SOLD OUT
Love 2 Run 4 Mile Run , Downtown Airport Kansas City, MO
Miles for Matt, Eagle Glen School, Raymore, MO
Girls on the Run of Johnson County, Spring Season, Johnson County, KS
February 26 NAIA-KC Sports Commission Social, NAIA Headquarters Kansas City,MO February 28 March 5-8
Firehouse Texas Hold’em Tournament Sharks Shawnee Mission, KS MIAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments, Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, MO
H.O.R.S.E. - N - Around UPDATE ver the last couple months a lot has been developing for the H.O.R.S.E. - N - AROUND events which will be occurring in upcoming months in Kansas City. What is H.O.R.S.E. - N - AROUND, you ask? It is the ultimate basketball H.O.R.S.E challenge which will involve amateur players plus celebrities from sports and entertainment. H.O.R.S.E is is a game of one upmanship, where creative, fun and sometime unbelievable shots are used to eliminate the competition from play. Very soon H.O.R.S.E competitions will be popping up all around Kansas City. Currently, select high schools in the metro area are setting up their competitions and will be announcing the events to students and parents. Also, the Jewish Community Center will have a special event/competition in May. These regional competitions eventually leading to one final event where Kansas City’s best H.O.R.S.E. player will have a chance to win $10,000 by playing David
“Real deal” - continued from page 18 Do you have a plan? Again I don’t think everyone has to look like a male model or be obsessed with their bodies, but do you know what workout you’re doing before you hit the gym? If not-why? That’s like saying “I want to save and invest, so I can retire at 50” and not having any stated means to get there. Even the basic goal of “getting in shape” requires a coherent plan. NOT wondering in and going “uhhh, let’s do chest today,” and doing a mishmash of exercises. I would start by defining a goal and coming up with a plan and timeframe. If you have the funds check with a trainer, if not look up routines in magazines or online. Bodybuilding.com is an excellent resource for all fitness enthusiasts. Does your “fitness” leave the gym? This is the final and probably the biggest culprit. I’d say this includes everything from 20
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Kalb, the man who beat Lebron James in this competition twice in September, 2008. “Anyone can participate in H.O.R.S.E. That’s what makes it fun,” says Keith Zimmerman of Double Dog Sports & Entertainment, the company bringing H.O.R.S.E. - N - AROUND to Kansas City. “In addition to the final event where one lucky Kansas Citian plays against David (Kalb), we’ll also have celebrity matches for the crowds to enjoy,” says Zimmerman. One of the celebrities on hand will be Cylk Cozart from the movie “White Men Can’t Jump.” In addition, pro sports and collegiate legends, newspaper, radio and television personalities will also participate in celebrity matches. KPRS and WHB radio will each put on specific competitions, crowning a winner to go on to the celebrity event. Zimmerman along with Cozart and NBA great Oscar Robertson will be at the NBA All-Star weekend in Phoenix in February to announce the KC launch of H.O.R.S.E. - N - AROUND. nutrition to vacations. If you’re in the gym, that’s theoretically one-to-two hours a day. There are 24 in a day and 168 in a week, so a lot can happen. Putting a great effort in the gym and then having a couple of beers and fried chicken daily makes no sense. Or I’d say don’t expect a lot. Also when you go out of town or when you get busy do you still exercise? Fitness is a lifestyle and mindset, so to workout haphazardly or not have your eating go along with your workouts is not getting the whole picture. It just requires follow through outside the gym. So look at your level of commitment to fitness. Is it kind of a “C-minus”? Make it an “A” with just a little more thought. Chris Balda is a USA Weightlifting coach, National Strength and Conditioning Association Trainer and owner of FixXprt, a fitness and training consulting business. He can be reached at (913) 244-0287 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One-on-one with Royals’ GM Dayton Moore By ALAN ESKEW, Editor
ince the Kansas City Royals finished 75-87 last season and escaped the American League Central basement for the first time since 2003, general manager Dayton Moore has been extremely busy, trying to improve the team for 2009. Moore acquired outfielder Coco Crisp and first baseman-designated hitter Mike Jacobs in trades. He signed free agent pitchers Kyle Farnsworth, Doug Waechter and Horacio Ramirez and utility player Willie Bloomquist. Moore, also, signed right-hander Zack Greinke to a four-year contract, which runs through the 2112 season and keeps him off the free agent market for two years. Moore sat down with Kansas City Sports and Fitness for an exclusive interview just before the club departed for spring training in Surprise, Ariz.
Q: What were your off-season objectives and were they accomplished? Moore: “We had some very clear defined goals this off-season. We wanted to add a center fielder, who could potentially hit in our leadoff spot. We were able to do that in adding Coco. That was important. The other aspect of that, we’re able to put David DeJesus in left field, which has strengthened out outfield defense and overall team speed. “We wanted to acquire a power hitter to hit in the middle of our lineup, anywhere 4-5 or 6, wherever Trey decides. We were able to do that with Mike Jacobs.” “We wanted to add a power arm in the bullpen. Kyle Farnsworth, in our mind, was the best power arm on the market. His fastball eliminates a lot of the offensive lineup on any given night. “We acquired Willie Bloomquist, who is somebody we felt has great leadership ability and help blend the talents of our 25-man roster through his attitude and his expectations that he brings to the game of baseball. “Doug Waechter is somebody we wanted. Our scouts felt like he’s got a chance to be a quality Major League reliever. He just transitioned into the relief role for the first time last year after being a starter his whole career. Right-handers hit .216 off him. He’s a tremendous make-up guy.” “Horacio Ramirez can give us some depth in the rotation. We’re confident we’ve improved our baseball team.”
Q: You dealt two relievers, Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez, for two everyday players in Jacobs and Crisp. How will they improve the offense? Moore: “We traded two very productive major league relief pitchers that I know are going to go on and have very good careers. At the same time, we were in a position where we needed to acquire some everyday talent. “You saw the (bad) streaks we went though last year. It was predicated on two things. One, our starting pitching struggled at that time and we didn’t have enough offense to bail our starting pitching out. So we felt we needed to add some offense. Getting Coco and Mike Jacobs for a combined $9 million, two everyday players, is almost unheard of in this market. We were fortunate to do those deals.”
Q: Alberto Callaspo was your primary second baseman at the end of last season after Mark Grudzielanek suffered an ankle injury. Callaspo, however, has been arrested the past two years for off-the-field incidents with the Royals and Diamondbacks. How much of a concern is that for you? Moore: “Past history can be a predictor of the future. That being said, Alberto went through the necessary things he needed to do to transition back onto our baseball team. We’ve got to expect good things to happen with him as he manages his life. We all experience different things in our life. We all make mistakes. We all know that Alberto made a mistake. He’s recognized that. He’s been accountable to it and taken responsibility. We’re just looking forward to moving on.”
Q: Bloomquist has played every position but pitcher and catcher, but will he enter spring training with a chance to earn the starting second baseman job? Moore: “Yeah, he will. He’s obviously a very versatile player. We feel his best position is second base. He’s played some short, played third. He can play center field very well, all three outfield positions. “He’ll get an opportunity to win a job. And I know Trey (Hillman, manager) will like his style of play. I think he’ll be somebody that’s going to surprise some people. He’s never really been given an opportunity to play everyday. He’s been on some very talented teams and there have been some good players ahead of him. The reason he’s played a lot of positions is because the manager wants him in the lineup. He’s a good enough athlete to do it.”
Q: Will the rotation, outside the possible addition of left-hander Ramirez, be the same as last year? Moore: “You look at options we have in camp, it is pretty be safe to say our starting rotation will by very similar to what it was.” Q: Is that rotation good enough to contend for a playoff spot in 2009? Moore: “Certainly Gil Meche and Zack Greinke have proved they can be dominant pitchers in our league. I think they both finished
fifth in the American League in strikeouts. They keep getting better. Kyle Davies emerged. Brian Bannister has been somebody who has proved he can pitch quality innings. Luke Hochevar is emerging. Horacio Ramirez has had some success in the past. The last couple of years through injuries and what have you, he hasn’t really performed that well, but we think we will.” Q: The Royals finished last year by going 18-8 in September. Was that a glimpse into the future on what the team could be in 2009? Moore: “I hope so. You’ve got to believe what you see. At the same time, expect guys to continue to get better. Eighteen wins in a month is a great accomplishment. We’ve got to continue to build on those types of accomplishments and just play consistent baseball.” Q: On the flip side, the Royals had a horrible August, losing 18 of 21 in one stretch. Moore: “It was. That’s the thing we’ve got to avoid those bad streaks. Some nights you’re starting pitching - Zack, Gil, Kyle, whoever it is going to be - is going to have a bad night. Somebody needs to pick it up. Someone needs to hit a big three-run homer or steal a base to put us in a position to win a game.” “I believe in looking at our rosters this is the most balanced team we have on the field in my opinion since 1994 with our position players, the versatility there, and how players are supposed to profile. Also, with the depth and the versatility and the pitching, we haven’t had a legit closer since (Jeff) Montgomery. We have that now (Joakim Soria). We’ve got two (dominant) starting pitchers and a couple of other guys we think can emerge to be really good.” Q: So one can expect the Royals to improve on last year’s record? Moore: “I felt like our team underachieved last year. I think we’re continuing to get better. We’ve just to commit to that process of keep improving, keep improving. Someday we’ll be good.”
MARCH MADNESS & GOLF PREVIEW
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Bloomquist looking for chance to start with Royals By ALAN ESKEW, Editor
illie Bloomquist is a career .263 hitter with six home runs, 98 RBIs and 191 runs. He has never had more than 251 at-bats in a season or played in more 102 games. He had one extra-base hit - a double in 2008. Bloomquist, however, will enter spring training as a candidate to be the Kansas City Royals starting second baseman. After spending six-plus years as a Seattle Mariners utility, playing every position but pitcher and catcher, Bloomquist signed a two-year $3 million contract with the Royals with an opportunity to shed the utility tag and become an everyday player with a position to call his own. “It ‘s a big reason I signed with the Royals, for an opportunity to do more than I’ve done in the past,” Bloomquist said. “I saw that opportunity with a chance to possibly evolve into maybe a starter and win a job. Talking with Trey (Hillman, manager) and Dayton (Moore, general manager), they said basically they are not going to put any limitations on me, which is more opportunity that I’ve ever had in the past. That was one of the many reasons this place was awfully enticing.
“I made it up as a utility guy and got stuck in that - got that that label put on me, but my goals are not to be a backup guy. I would hope to get a chance to play and hopefully be a starter.” Bloomquist, who went to South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Washington, was drafted in the eight round by the Mariners in 1996, but opted to go to Arizona State. The Mariners drafted him again in 1999 in the third round and he signed. They drafted me as a shortstop and moved me right to second base right away,” Bloomquist
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said. “I played there right up to Triple-A and then we had Bret Boone in his glory years, hitting 3035 homers a year. We had him at second, Carlos Guillen at short and Jeff Cirillo at third. So they basically said, you weren’t going to crack any of those spots anytime soon, so if you want to make it to the big leagues you’re going to have to be able to play all of them and be versatile. I said OK, that’s fine with me as long as I can get there.” Bloomquist, also, provides the Royals with some speed, something they have lacked. With the departure of Joey Gathright, who led the Royals with 21 stolen bases in 25 attempts last year, to the Chicago Cubs, Bloomquist could fill that void. He swiped 14 bases in 17 attempts last year. “I wouldn’t say I’m a burner by any means, but I like to pride myself in being a smart base runner and getting a good jump and stealing a base when it counts, as opposed to pad my numbers with gaudy stats with stolen bases,” Bloomquist
7 Questions with Jamie Quirk Seven Questions is a regular segment on the “Behind the Stats” radio show. “Behind the Stats” hosts Matt Fulks and guest host Dave Stewart from Metro Sports caught up with former Kansas City Royal Jamie Quirk. 1. My hero growing up was...? Jamie Quirk: Mickey Mantle, without a doubt. 2. If not for baseball or football (since you were quite a quarterback), I would’ve been a...? JQ: I probably would’ve gone into education as a teacher and maybe a coach.
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6. My message to parents of young athletes is...? JQ: Let your kid play as many sports as he wants. Don’t try to say he’s going to be the next George Brett, so he’s going to play baseball all 12 months and we’re going to work on his swing every day. We encouraged our boys to play everything. It’ll show if he’s good in one sport over another. 7. The one person in history that I’d like to meet...? JQ: Joe Namath. As a young quarterback, I liked watching him on and off the field. I would’ve traded places with him for one day.
3. My greatest day in baseball was....? JQ: The 1990 World Series with Oakland, we were down 3 games to 0 against Cincinnati, and our manager, Tony LaRussa, called me and said I was starting in Game 4. I hadn’t played in the 1980 World Series or the ‘85 Series with the Royals, so that moment in 1990 was special. 4. My favorite vacation spot is...? JQ: Probably either Hawaii or Cabo San Lucas, where I can wear T-shirts and flip flops. I guess if I want to be a gentleman, Hawaii, but if I want to let my hair down and be a little more laid back, Cabo. 5. My favorite movie of all-time is...? JQ: Cool Hand Luke.
said. “When it matters is when I like to go and like to steal bases. I’m above average speed. I take pride in running the bases well. That to me, that’s a game within a game. Games can be won or lost on good base running.” Bloomquist said being able to play several positions has been both a blessing and a curse throughout his career. “That’s kind of what I’ve been told in Seattle,” he said. “That’s it my best asset. It is also the biggest thing going against me, too. The fact - it is great I can do all those things, but when there is a chance to settle down and play one position, they didn’t really like to do it because they needed someone to play everywhere. It’s kind of a double-edged sword of sorts. “It’s a role I don’t mind doing, but I have higher aspirations and expectations of myself than being a backup.” He will get chance to earn the second base job, but there will be competition. Alberto Callaspo, who hit .305 last season, finished the season starting at second after an injury to Mark Grudzielanek, who filed for free agency and won’t be returning. Also, the Royals are going to give Mark Teahen an opportunity to play there. Bloomquist, however, know this is a chance he never had in Seattle, to compete for a starting job. “I’m very excited about this season,” Bloomquist said. “I haven’t been this excited to report to camp in a long time just knowing the situation and opportunity that is going to be presented. For me, it gives me a little bit of extra motivation, so I am excited.”
“Behind the Stats,” hosted by Matt Fulks (left) and Dave O’Hara, is recorded each week from Saints on 9720 Quivira in Lenexa. Visit www.BehindTheStatsRadio.com for more information.
New faces from other places 2008 STATS BA HR RBI .283 7 41
2008 STATS ERA IP SO W L 3.69 63.1 46 4 2 Birth Date: Jan. 28, 1981 Birth Place: St. Petersburg, FL Age: 27 Weight: 215 lbs. Height: 6-4 Bats: Right Throws: Right Experience: 4 years
OBP SLG .344 .407
Birth Date: November 1, 1979 Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA Age: 29 Weight: 180 lbs. Height: 6-0 Bats: Both Throws: Right Experience: 6 years
OUTFIELD 2008 STATS BA HR RBI .247 32 93
OBP SLG .299 .514
Birth Date: October 30, 1980 Birth Place: Chula Vista, CA Age: 28 Weight: 215 lbs. Height: 6-3 Bats: Left Throws: Right Experience: 3 years
INFIELD Lady Wildcats - continued from page 14 knee injury in her senior year. There was a tough transition for her to get back to 100 percent. She is playing a more physical game. She understands the speed of the game. “More than anything, she’s grown in her willingness to be physical. She continues to be a player we will look to a great deal for growth. She has hit some big-time threes. She has the ability to get to the rim. She’s a very important cog. If we can get eight points out of her 18 minutes, it changes the complexion of our basketball team completely.” Spani, a native of Lee’s Summit, also continues another trend for the Wildcats. The roster is covered with Midwestern players. There are six players from Kansas, two from Missouri and one each from Oklahoma and Minnesota. Only freshmen Jalana Childs of Orlando, Fla., and Branshea Brown of Walterboro, S.C., are from outside
2008 STATS ERA IP SO W L 4.48 60.1 61 2 3 Birth Date: April 14, 1976 Birth Place: Wichita, KS Age: 32 Weight: 235 lbs. Height: 6-4 Bats: Right Throws: Right Experience: 9 years
2008 STATS ERA IP SO W L 4.35 37.1 13 1 4 Birth Date: Nov. 24, 1979 Birth Place: Carson, CA Age: 29 Weight: 210 lbs. Height: 6-1 Bats: Left Throws: Left Experience: 5 years
PITCHER the Midwest. “The persona of Kansas State, the way we like to play, the team-oriented disposition, the selflessness, the workethic, the toughness, those are all inherent values of people who grow up in the Midwest,” Patterson said. “It’s a very blue-collar part of the country. There’s not a lot of room for selfishness and pride. That’s what we like to build the program around at Kansas State. “You certainly can’t create those traits. They’re homegrown and instilled early in life. They have watched their parents and grandparents work hard. We have been very fortunate to find good young people who are willing to give it up and work hard together to achieve success.” That theory sounds good, and a bit of a cop-out when you don’t have any stars. But it’s the same thing Patterson said even when she had stars. The Wildcats had first team All-Americans in back-to-back seasons with Nicole Ohlde (2004) and Kendra Wecker (2005). The Wildcats went to
PITCHER the NCAA tournament for four straight years behind Ohlde (Clay Center, Kan.), Wecker (Marysville, Kan.), Laurie Koehn (Hesston, Kan.) and Megan Mahoney (Sturgis, S.D.). This year’s team is preparing to return to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season, quite an improvement from a last place finish in 2006-07. “It’s been amazing to watch this group, because they have been so tough,” Patterson said. “To think of what they were holding onto their shoulders as freshmen, and then, as juniors, to be the first team in K-State history to win an outright Big 12 championship, it’s been amazing. This was in a year when our league had the top RPI in the country. It wasn’t a back-door year in our league. It was the strongest our league has ever been. “I think this group has an opportunity to contend for another Big 12 championship. A lot of things have to go well, but I wouldn’t bet against them.”
KANSAS CITY SPORTS & FITNESS