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The madness is upon us as St. John takes down No. 3 Duke in a basketball game on January 30th, 2011. We look at some of the best teams going to the big dance next month.
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8 March Madness Is Coming 6 Upsets 15 Ryan Mallett Voted 12 Sound Off Premier Player 22 Player’s Ink 24 2011 NCAA Baseball Teams to Watch 23 Community 28 Travel (Houston) PREMIER PLAYERS
On Jan. 4th, 2011, in South Bend, Ind., Notre Dame, ranked #15 at the time, beat 9th ranked UConn, 73-70. Then on Jan. 24, Notre Dame pulled off another upset by defeating #2 Pittsburgh 56-51. In the photo, Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott (34) hits a 3-point shot over Pittsburgh’s Gary McGhee (52).
St. John’s Dwight Hardy, left, drives on Georgetown’s Jason Clark late in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Monday, Jan. 3rd, 2011. Unranked St. John’s University topped #13 Georgetown, 61-58. St. John’s also took down #11 Notre Dame and #3 Duke during the month of January.
Jan. 2: #25 Illinois beats #24 Wisconsin, 69-61 Jan. 3: St. John’s over #13 Georgetown , 61-58 Jan. 4: #15 Notre Dame tops #9 UConn, 73-70 Jan. 5: Tennessee beats #22 Memphis , 104-84 Jan. 8: Colorado over #8 Missouri, 89-7 6 Jan. 8: Georgia beats #11 Kentucky, 77-7 0 Jan. 8: West Virginia tops #13 Georget own, 65-59 Jan. 8: Oklahoma State over #17 Kan sas State, 76-62 Jan. 8: Houston beats # 18 Central Flori da, 76-71 Jan. 8: Penn State knocks out #19 Mich igan State, 66-62 Jan. 8: South Carolina tops #24 Vanderb ilt, 83-75 Jan. 10: Marquette beats #11 Notre Dam e, 79-57 Jan. 11: Penn State over #16 Illinois, 57-5 5 Jan. 11: #24 Michigan State beats #21 Wisconsin, 64-61 Jan. 12: Florida State takes down #1 Duk e, 66-61 Jan. 12: Colorado over #20 Kansas, 74-6 6 Jan. 13: #25 Minnesota tops #8 Purdue, 70-67 Jan. 13: Stanford beats #18 Washington, 58-56 Jan. 15: #13 Texas over #12 Missouri, 91-8 9 Jan. 15: #21 Wisconsin tops #16 Illinois, 86-66 Jan. 15: Southern Miss over #22 Central Florida, 86-69 Jan. 15: Duquesne beats #23 Temple, 78-66 Jan. 16: West Virginia tops #8 Purdue, 68-64 Jan. 16: St. John’s over #11 Notre Dam e, 72-54 Jan. 16: #4 Pittsburgh tops #3 Syracuse , 74-66 Jan. 16: #8 UConn beats #7 Villanova , 61-59 Jan. 18: Alabama takes down #12 Ken tucky, 68-66 Jan. 18: #22 Illinois beats #18 Michigan State, 71-62 Jan. 19: #11 Texas over #10 Texas A&M , 81-60 Jan. 22: #11 Texas beats #2 Kansas, 74-6 3 Jan. 22: #7 Villanova takes down #3 Syra cuse, 83-72 Jan. 22: Providence tops #15 Louisville , 72-67 Jan. 22: Vanderbilt beats #21 St. Mary’s, 89-70 Jan. 24: #14 Notre Dame beats #2 Pitts burgh, 56-51 Jan. 25: Seton Hall downs #10 Syracuse , 90-68 Jan. 26: #9 BYU over #4 San Diego, 71-5 8 Jan. 26: Providence over #7 Villanova , 83-68 Jan. 27: Indiana beats #21 Illinois, 52-4 9. Jan. 29: #19 Louisville gets past #5 UCo nn, 79-78 Jan. 29: #20 Georgetown over #7 Villa nova, 69-66 Jan. 29: New Mexico beats #9 BYU, 86-7 7 Jan. 29: Marquette tops #10 Syracuse , 76-70 Jan. 29: Nebraska over #11 Texas A&M , 57-48 Jan. 29: Penn State downs #15 Wisconsi n, 56-52 Jan. 29: Arkansas beats #22 Vanderbilt, 89-78 Jan. 29: Mississippi State tops #23 Florida, 71-64 Jan. 29: Portland over #24 Saint Mary’s, 85-70 Jan. 30: St. John’s beats #3 Duke, 93-7 8 Jan. 30: Washington State beats #17 Was hington, 87-80 Jan. 31: #14 Georgetown over #13 Loui sville, 62-59
Probably the biggest upset of the month. Unranked Florida takes down #1 ranked Duke. Here, Florida Stateâ€™s Michael Snaer shoots as Dukeâ€™s Mason Plumlee defends during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game which Florida state won 66-61 on Jan. 12th, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla.
Ready Those Dancing Shoes
March Madness Is Coming By Steve Wright
As the college football and NFL seasons pass into the rearview mirror for another year, the focus of the American sporting landscape turns in earnest to college hoops. Unseen by many for the first half of the season, teams are well into conference play and it’s only around a month until the first conference tournament tips off. With that in mind, here are a collection of teams that have made noise during the early part of the year, and that you will want to have on your radar when the time comes to fill out those ever popular March Madness brackets.
The Contenders: Duke The Blue Devils have looked peerless at times this year and when healthy the squad might be even better than the one that ran the table to win the NCAA Tournament last year. Duke once again played as tough a nonconference schedule as any team (although the wins over K-State and Michigan State do not look as good as they did at the time) and was on a roll until a five point loss at Florida State. The loss at St. John’s is as ugly as any in the Mike Krzyzewski era but Duke are as well coached as any team in the nation and will bounce back in a strong way. If Kyrie Irving can somehow make a miraculous recovery over the next month then Duke may be unstoppable.
Kansas The Jayhawks were as hot as they come as they raced to an 18-0 mark to start the season. Then came a loss to Texas and the noise from Lawrence died down in an instant. The Jayhawks are a strange team to work out as, man for man, they are easily one of the most dominant teams in the country. Paced by the Morris twins, Marcus & Markieff average almost 27 points a game combined, Kansas can go 11 deep and can roll with anybody. In Big 12 play, though, they have made hard work of teams they should destroy, Nebraska and Iowa State being the obvious examples, and the Jayhawks will have to rediscover their killer instinct if they are to avoid another tournament upset.
Bucks can survive this gauntlet with just one loss then they are almost certain to be a number one seed come March. If they get through with no losses then a perfect regular season is a distinct possibility.
BYU & UConn The Cougars and the Huskies are grouped together in this spot because the reason that they are contenders can be described in two words: Jimmer and Kemba. Both Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker are scoring machines, and both can lead their team to a National Title by deciding to take the game over. Take the biggest game for BYU so far this season, namely the 71-58 victory over then unbeaten San Diego State in Provo. Fredette went 14 of 24 on the night and put up an insane 43 of his teams 71 points. He can pick zones apart draining the three, but he is just as adept on the dribble drive as he has a wide range of moves under the basket. UConn’s Walker is similar in his ability to score, and he may be the quickest guy off the dribble in the entire nation. If either gets hot in March then their team becomes a tough, tough, out.
The Cinderellas Cinderella isn’t a term I like, but if any nonfootball playing school makes a run in the tournament it is a label they are bound to carry. Here are a few teams who may fit the glass slipper this year:
Wichita State One of the best compliments you can give the Shockers is that they don’t look like a “Mid-Major” ball club. Sure WSU is loaded with juniors and seniors, but the front court can throw out five guys that are 6’9 or taller, and their guards are as athletic as any you will see at BCS schools. Senior center J.T. Durley has stepped up to lead the team in recent weeks, and he is a player who has forgotten more post moves than most know. The Shocks play an up tempo game as they are 10-12 deep and they wear teams down by the latter stages of a contest. This is a team that has Sweet 16 written all over it.
St. Mary’s The link that St. Mary’s has with the Australian Institute of Sport means that it really shouldn’t be a shock when the Gaels win in March any more. They have a built-in recruiting pipeline that allows them to reload better than any Mid in the country, and if stars like Matthew Dellevedova and Michell Young get hot then this is another potential Sweet 16 team.
The top half of the Big 10 is very, very good this year, and through the first half of league play the Buckeyes have been the dominant team. Jared Sullinger has cemented his status as the best big man in the country, averaging around 18 points a game while leading from the front at crunch time in Ohio State’s biggest games. The true test for Ohio State will come in a four-game stretch in early February where they have to travel to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Purdue, three teams who are all ranked in the AP Top 25. If the
It’s never a good idea to write off the smart guys. This Harvard team might not be as good as the Cornell squad that did some damage in March last year, but they have enough ability to trouble a higher seed in the first round. So if you have missed most of the games so far this year, follow the teams above for the remaining of the regular season and you will see why they all will be contenders, and spoilers, for the national title.
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Texas A&M fans try to distract Missouri’s Justin Safford (23) as he shoots a free-throw during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 15th, 2011, in College Station, Texas.
Marquette fans look on before their NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut on Jan. 25th, 2011, in Milwaukee. half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 15th, 2011, in College Station, Texas.
Vanderbilt fans cheer during a college basketball game against Saint Mary’s, Calif., on Jan. 22nd, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Saint Mary’s 89-70.
Mississippi guard Chris Warren (12) is congratulated by fans following his team’s 71-69 win over No. 10 Kentucky on Feb. 1, 2011 in Oxford, Miss. Warren rattled in a 25-footer with 2.9 seconds remaining for the game-winning basket.
Arizona State Sun Devils cheerleaders in the first half against the North Carolina A&T Aggies during a college basketball game.
By Marc Jenkins
Ryan Mallett having fun with The Premier Player of College Football trophy.
Winner of The 2010 Premier Player of College Football Trophy
eing named the inaugural winner of any trophy or award is an honor that is held in high regards and can never be duplicated. Here at Premier Players we have decided to let the fans select the athlete who they feel should be the initial recipient of the Premier Player of College Football Trophy. After over 11,000 college football fans casted their votes, quarterback Ryan Mallett from the University of Arkansas was chosen as the 2010 Premier Player of College Football Trophy winner. Mallett received 1,979 fan votes and beat out the likes
of Denard Robinson (QB, Michigan), Jake Locker (QB, Washington), LaMichael James (HB, Oregon) and Ricky Stanzi (QB, Iowa) to earn the honor. Ryan Mallettâ€™s journey to receiving this honor began many years ago when he was first introduced to the game of football by his father Jim, at the tender age of four years old. Jim Mallett was a high school football coach in Arkansas where Ryan served as a ball boy and would occasionally participate in some of the minor drills until he was old enough to play pee-wee football himself, according to his mother Debbie. When Ryan was in continue pg 18
The 2010 Pre of College Footba 1) MacDill AFB Color Guard presents the flags. 2) News Channel 8 Rod Carter got the event off to a great start. 3) The evening began with chauffer
ride from the USF Embassy Suites to the USF Marshall Center via Rolls Royce.
4) Fans having fun with The Premier Player trophy prior to the announcement of the award winner. 6) International recording artist Rachel Lewis with father on guitar. 7) Guest arrived to the sounds of the Jefferson High School Marching Dragons.
Congratulations QB, Arkansa
emier Player all Award Dinner 3
s Ryan Mallett as Razorbacks
8) MVIP Guests John and Suzan Sykes with Ryan Mallett prior to the announcement of the trophy winner. 9) University of Oregon fans Bryan and Ayanna Murray. 10) Incoming executive director for Score International John Zeller, right, and his wife Katie, with Ryan Mallett. Score International is one of the many charities The Premier Player of College Football Charitable Award Dinner will assist in helping orphanages engage sports. 11) Collegiate and NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, center, with Ryan Mallett (left) and Steven Roe, representing Ricky Stanzi from the University of Iowa.
continue from pg 15
the sixth grade the Mallett family moved to Texarkana, Texas, and he began playing football as a left guard due to him being bigger than most of the other kids in his age group. Ryan attended Texas High School in Texarkana where he went on to become one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in his graduating class. Mallett had tons of big time moments, plays and games while at Texas High but, according to him, his most memorable was when “I threw it to the receiver in the flat, he threw it back to me and I gained 40 yards.” Upon completion of his senior year at Texas High, Ryan was named the 2006 Gatorade Texas High School Player of the Year and was also named the 2007 Glen Davis Army Award winner (best player on the West team) following the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Once recruiting time came around, there were several big-time schools attempting to sign Ryan to a letter of intent. When it was all said and done, he chose the University of Michigan. While at Ann Arbor, Mallett played sparingly during his freshman season due to the productivity and seniority of starter Chad Henne. Then, after Lloyd Carr was replaced by Rich Rodriguez as head coach following the 2007 season (Ryan’s freshman year), Mallett transferred to the University of Arkansas in large due to the type of offense Rodriguez would bring to the Wolverines. During the 2008 season, Mallett was ineligible to compete for the Razorbacks as a result of NCAA transfer polices. However, the next season he placed his name in the minds of many NFL scouts. As the starting signal caller for the Razorbacks in 2009, “Big Tex” tied or broke 16 Arkansas school records and threw for 3,627 yards with 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Mallett led them to an 8-5 record including a bowl win which was a three game improvement over the prior season. Even though Ryan and the Razorbacks had better success, it was just the tip of the iceberg as 2010 would bring better success for them all including our hardware. During the 2010 campaign, Mallett passed for 3,869 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing passes at a 64.7% clip, amassing a 163.65 NCAA QB Rating and leading Arkansas to a 10-3 record and a BCS Bowl appearance (2011 All-State Sugar Bowl). Ryan compiled nine 300-yard passing games, two 400-yard passing games, eight games with at least three passing touchdowns and one game where he tossed five TD strikes. These are all reasons why the
fans have selected Mallett as the 2010 Premier Player of College Football. When asked what it meant to have this honor bestowed on him Ryan responded “It was a great honor to be selected by the college football fans as the inaugural (Premier Player of College) Football Player of the Year, especially against such great competition. I look forward to this award growing in recognition.” That’s the kind of guy Ryan is - humble, realistic and down-to-earth. He relaxes before games and hangs out with his family after them, much like we saw at the award dinner. “The fans couldn’t have selected a better player,” said Premier Players CEO Carnell Moore. “From the moment he came into the room, his presence took over and his personality just wowed everyone. We were very fortunate to have him attend.” Those qualities along with his skills on the field should take Mallett as far as any quarterback up for selection during the 2011 NFL Draft. I asked Ryan what sets him apart from the other potential first-year QB’s and he replied “my football intelligence and knowledge of defenses”, which are both important skills to have at the next level. Mallett also said “reading defenses and leadership ability” are his biggest strengths and that he will bring “work ethic and a willingness to do anything to promote the organization” to whichever of the 32 teams that selects him in April. Ryan has dreamed about playing in the National Football League since he first began playing football and he is now standing on the door step waiting for a franchise to welcome him in. Once Ryan finds a home in the NFL there is no question with his background, skills and character that he will blossom into one of the top signal callers in the game. Congratulations to Ryan Mallett for winning the 2010 Premier Player of College Football Trophy and best of luck as you embark on your journey to the next level.
James and Debbie Mallett enjoying the event with their son, Ryan. 18
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Duke Guard Nolan Smith has a tattoo on his right arm with his father’s likeness and the words “Forever Watching.” Smith’s father, Derek Smith, won a national championship with the Louisville Cardinals in 1980, and spent nine years in the NBA in a career shortened by a knee injury. He would later become an assistant coach for the Washington Bullets from 1994 until his death in 1996.
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Jeter Builds a Foundation that Youths can Turn 2 New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter watches his triple in the third inning of Game 4 of baseball’s American League Championship Series.
By: Sam Smoot
ew York Yankees shortstop and captain, Derek Jeter, has been a very successful baseball player ever since he first played in the majors in 1995. His career has been full of clutch hits, double plays, MVP votes, and championship rings. In his rookie season, Jeter led the Yankees to their first World Series title since 1978 and has won four more since. Jeter has proved to be a great leader of sports’ most historic franchise and a fantastic role model to youths in America. In addition to winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1996, he also founded the Turn 2 Foundation to promote healthy lifestyles among youths. The foundation is named after his many double plays he has made for the Yankees and the enabling of the children to “Turn 2” the foundation when they need guidance in their life. Turn 2 encourages children to exercise and stay away from drugs and alcohol. The foundation also rewards academic excellence and promotes leadership and positive behavior. Jeter’s Foundation accomplishes its goals through many different programs. One program the foundation participates in is the
“Turn 2 Foundation Camp Program.” Turn 2 partners with S.C.O.P.E (Summer Camp Opportunities Provide an Edge) to provide “camperships” for more than 100 children in the foundations signature programs. The kids attend certain camps in the New York area to participate in numerous activities, such as swimming lessons, arts and crafts, horseback riding, computer literacy, hiking, and a variety of sports. The program is parallel with Turn 2 Foundation mission statement by promoting a healthy lifestyle and academic excellence. Another program the foundation runs is the “Turn 2 Endowed Scholarship Program”. The program rewards academic success, leadership qualities, and positive behavior with several different scholarships. The St. Peter Claver Catholic School Scholarship provides 15 students yearly with financial assistance to attend the school. The Hillsborough Education Foundation Scholarship awards one male and one female that exhibits excellence in academics, participates in extra-curricular activities and is active in community service. The Jackie Robinson Scholarship provides financial assistance and mentoring to young minority students who are entering college. The
program has three other scholarships that all promote academic excellence. “Girls on the Run” is a Turn 2 Foundation program for girls in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. The program teaches the young girls about the importance of health and exercise by encouraging them to run. The girls increase their self-esteem by exercising and participating in community service. They also receive life-skills development, mentoring, and training for a 5k running event. Derek Jeter also teaches children the same leadership he shows on the field with the “Jeter’s Leaders Program”. The program empowers its members to display positive behavior and deliver a message to their peers to stay in school and live a substancefree lifestyle. The program focuses on the “10 Pillars of Leadership” to enhance the member’s leadership skills. Derek Jeter, who will be entering his fifteenth season as a Yankee, continues to serve his community and be a positive role model for today’s youths. His Turn 2 Foundation, through multiple programs, has raised more than $11 million in grants to promote a healthy lifestyle for thousands of children. To learn more about Derek Jeter’s efforts visit www.derekjeter.com.
Four Teams to Watch During the 2011 NCAA Baseball Season
By Marc Jenkins
the sports calendar rolls on, the time for America’s pastime to bubble back into sports fans’ minds is now. With it comes all types of prognostications, previews and picks for the upcoming season. The 2011 NCAA Baseball season is set to begin in the middle of February, more than a full month before the MLB campaign begins. Now it’s time to get ready for opening day and what better way to do so than to take a look at some of the best 24
Florida 1B/LHP Brian Johnson, and many returning starters, will lead a highly ranked Gators team towards Omaha. They are ranked #1 by Baseball America and #3 by USA Today/ESPN.
teams in the nation. Here are my four teams to watch for this season who all have a legitimate chance at winning the College World Series and a national championship. Florida Gators The 2011 Florida Gators are returning eight starters from their 2010 squad and appear to be solid in every phase of the game, showing no major weaknesses. The Gators are one of the deepest and most experienced teams in the nation who will absolutely be one of the top title contenders
all season long. Entering the season, the Gators are ranked first in the nation in the Baseball America Top 25 and third in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25. Some of Florida’s major everyday players include sophomore first baseman Brian Johnson (.405 avg., 4 HR and 21 RBI in 2010), sophomore third baseman Austin Maddux (.333 avg., 17 HR and 72 RBI in 2010), sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (.287 avg., 3 HR, 23 RBI and 11 SB in 2010) and junior right fielder Preston Tucker (.331 avg., 11 HR, 49 RBI and 8 SB in 2010).
UCLA success in 2011 will be based on what they get out of RH pitchers Trevor Bauer, pictured, and Gerrit Cole.
Johnson, Maddux, Fontana and Tucker will all need to have exceptional seasons if the Gators are to go on as far as many think they will in 2011. When it comes to the mound Florida will rely heavily on junior left-handed starter Alex Panteliodis who went 11-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched. Panteliodis is the biggest threat returning this year but he should have some strong support from freshman righty Karston Whitson, who was actually selected ninth overall in the 2010 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres but decided to pass on the pro’s for now and continue his commitment to the University of Florida. During his senior year at Chipley High School (in Florida), Whitson went 7-3 and struck out 123 batters in just 55 innings of work. Whitson is said to throw his heater around 96 mph and has a plus slider along with a decent changeup. UCLA Bruins The UCLA Bruins are a very balanced team that has plenty of contact hitters throughout the lineup and off the bench, along with arguably the best one-two starting pitching combination in the country. The Bruins enter the season ranked second in the nation in the Baseball America Top 25 and first in the nation in the USA Today/ ESPN Top 25. With a terrific combination
Matt Purke, a LHP for the Horned Frogs, is considered by many as the top overall player in the nation today.
of hitting and quality pitching the Bruins seemed poise to make a deep run in Omaha come the beginning of June. UCLA’s success in 2011 is, without question, mainly on the productivity that they get out of their dynamic duo (righthanded juniors Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole) at the top of their starting rotation. In 2010 Bauer went 12-3 with a 3.02 ERA and struck out 165 batters in just 131 innings pitched while Cole posted an 11-4 record with a 3.37 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 123 innings of work. If these two potential MLB
first round selections can pitch to their level of expectations and can receive some help from freshmen righties Adam Platko and Zack Weiss (two of the nation’s top first year hurlers), the Bruins should dominate in the aspect of the game. When you take a look at the Bruins everyday lineup, the top players to take notice of in 2011 will be juniors Dean Espy, designated hitter (.345 avg., 9 HR, 52 RBI and 8 SB in 2010) and Tyler Rahmatulla, second baseman (.328 avg., 7 HR, 45 RBI and 13 SB in 2010) along with sophomore PREMIER PLAYERS
Garrett Buechele is expected to equal or improve on his numbers from 2010 in order for the Sooners to challenge for a national title.
third baseman Cody Regis (.312 avg., 9 HR, 47 RBI and 13 SB in 2010) and the fantastic freshman shortstop Pat Valaika. The only major weakness that this lineup displays is the lack of power as none of the returning players hit for double digit homers last season. TCU Horned Frogs The TCU Horned Frogs are yet another team that is powered by premium pitching and will rely heavily on their rotation and bullpen to take them where they want to 26
go. TCU has great balance up and down their lineup which is led by their outfield, considered one of the best all-around units in the nation. That combination of an aboveaverage lineup and top pitching has the Horned Frogs ranked third in the Baseball America Top 25, second in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 and should help them go very far this year. If you have never heard the name Matt Purke, then you need to remember it and begin to take notice in a pitcher who many scouts and experts say is the top overall player in the nation today. As a freshman in 2010, the south-paw went a perfect 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA and 142 strike outs in 116 innings of work. Purke will also have plenty of help from junior Kyle Winkler (12-3 with 3.39 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 117 innings pitched during 2010) and senior Steven Maxwell (11-2 with 2.70 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched during 2010). TCU returns seven regulars from last year’s team and the focal point of those players would be the starting outfield. Left fielder Jason Coats (.361 avg., 13 HR, 69 RBI and 8 SB in 2010), center fielder Aaron Schultz (.293 avg., 9 HR, 53 RBI and 11 SB in 2010) and right fielder Brance Rivera (.342 avg., 6 HR, 28 RBI and 9 SB in 2010) will all need to have incredible seasons both at the dish and in the field for the Horned Frogs to make the type of run that many are expecting out of them. Switch hitting second baseman Jerome Pena (.313 avg., 11 HR, 52 RBI and 7 SB in 2010) will also be a crucial cog in TCU’s success. Oklahoma Sooners The Oklahoma Sooners will need their
big-time, powerful offense to lead the way to Omaha this year as their pitching staff is the weakest of these four teams. They are returning seven everyday starters this season and five of those players batted better than .290 with double-digit home runs and more than 40 runs batted in. Oklahoma is ranked fifth in the nation in the Baseball America Top 25 and sixth in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25. The Sooners offense runs off of third baseman Garrett Buechele, first baseman Cameron Seitzer (son of former MLB All-Star Kevin Seitzer), catcher Tyler Ogle, second baseman Max White and right fielder Cody Reine. These are the five players that put up the fore mentioned statistics and Oklahoma will rely on them equaling or improving on their numbers from 2010 in order to challenge for a national title. The Sooners pitching staff is led by junior righty Burch Smith (11-2 with 2.50 ERA in 2010) along with seniors Michael Rocha (8-2 with 3.53 ERA in 2010) and Bobby Shore (10-5 with 4.12 ERA in 2010). Oklahoma will need all three guys to step up and pitch better than they did a season ago to keep them in games if the offense struggles on occasions. The Sooners do have an experienced closer in the form of Ryan Duke who has saved 26 games in his two seasons in that role. Others to Watch For Texas, Connecticut, Cal State Fullerton, Clemson, Florida State, Arizona State and defending champion South Carolina are all very good, too, and should give my four teams a run for their money en route to chasing a national title. St. John’s, Tulane, North Carolina and Baylor could all emerge as sleepers as the season progresses and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them competing for the championship in June. Enjoy what should be a terrific college baseball season.
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1940 Air Terminal Museum American Cowboy Museum 8325 Travelair Road Taylor Stevenson Ranch William P. Hobby Airport
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Galleria Houston Farmers Market at Rice Village
ATTRACTIONS 300 Houston
925 Bunker Hill Road Houston TX, 77024 3hundred.com/houston
Gulf Greyhound Park 1000 FM 2004 La Marque TX, 77568 gulfgreyhound.com
FARMERS MARKETS Houston Farmers Market at Rice Village 2100 University Boulevard Houston TX, 77005 houstonfarmersmarket.com
Urban Harvest Farmers Market at Discovery Green 1500 McKinney St Houston TX, 77010 urbanharvest.org
Gaint Presidents Head
Minute Maid Park
EATS Barnaby’s Cafe - River Oaks 1701 S Shepherd Houston TX, 77019 barnabyscafe.com
f o e m o h
Goode Co. Texas Bar-B-Q 5109 Kirby Houston TX, 77098 goodecompany.com
Taste of Texas 10505 Katy Freeway Houston TX, 77024 tasteoftexas.com
7320 Southwest Freeway, Ste. 115 Houston TX, 77074 fungskitchen.com PREMIER PLAYERS
TO SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS
Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, right, and teammate Clay Matthews celebrate after the Packers’ 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Super Bowl XLV football game Sunday, Feb. 6th, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. Rodgers was named most valuable player of the game.