Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 3/28/15

The Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance (CSWA) has announced that former Connecticut College runner Michael LeDuc and Tufts pitcher Allyson Fournier have been selected as the Bill Lee/Hank O'Donnell Athletes of the Year. LeDuc, a graduate of Canton High School, won the NCAA Division III steeplechase championship in 2014. Fournier--who attended East Catholic in Manchester--led Tufts to its second consecutive NCAA Division III softball championship in 2014. This pair of deserving individuals will be honored at the upcoming 74th annual Gold Key Dinner--to be held April 26th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. In addition to this year's Gold Key winners (Craig Janney, Tracy Lis, John Pagliaro, and John Kuczo), various other individuals involved in sports will be honored at this very prestigious event. Tickets can be obtained by contacting CSWA President Matt Conyers (mconyers@courant.com) or Vice-President Tim Jensen (tim@enfieldsource.com)..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1996-'97 Detroit Pistons--who finished 54-28 under coach Doug Collins--had four players on the squad who scored more than 1,000 points apiece. How many of these players can you name? Answer to follow..........My "Monday Night Sports Talk" co-host Tony DeAngelo emailed me the other day during the Yankees preseason game vs. Houston. His note: "The Yankees are now trying A-ROD out at first base. He ain't exactly a member of the June Taylor Dancers!"..........Quote by West Virginia's Daxter Miles, Jr.--the day before facing #1-ranked/undefeated Kentucky last week in the NCAA tournament: "Tomorrow, they're gonna be 36-1." Final score? Kentucky 78, West Virginia 39. A word of advice for Daxter: You DON'T provide bulletin board material for the top-ranked team in the country. Just goes to reinforce my belief that the term "student-athlete"--at the big-time college level--is a MAJOR oxymoron..........More about West Virginia (and I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this--which is usually the case in regard to NCAA "shenanigans"): Team member Jonathan Holton--who just ended his junior season following his team's NCAA run--was arrested three times in THREE days back in 2012 while a member of Rhode Island's team. These were serious charges, too--involving robbery, probation violation/being a fugitive, etc. Subsequently thrown off the team, he somehow ends up at WVU playing under Bob Huggins. My question is THIS: How did this thug end up at another school and NOT in jail? I guess this warrants attention to another oxymoronic term: 'American justice.' For some reason, I don't believe Francis Scott Key had individuals like Holton in mind when he mentioned "the land of the free" while writing the Star Spangled Banner..........One more while we're on the topic of the NCAA's "integrity." NY Post columnist Phil Mushnick was recently asked by a reader why there was a policeman standing in front of the TV review monitors at a recent tournament game. Mushnick's reply: "That wasn't a policeman--that's the NCAA's new MASCOT".........A strange thing happened to me on more than one occasion this past winter. Every time I went out to shovel snow around 7:30 PM, I'd experience an AWFUL odor coming from the south. Then I finally figured it out: It happened EVERY time the New York Knickerbockers took the court at Madison Square Garden..........I used to think that Mariano Rivera was the "poster person" for aging gracefully. That all changed the other day when I saw a recent picture of 54-year-old actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the Golden Globe Awards. Sorry, "Mo"--Julia wins hands down...........O.K.--here goes, folks: Jefferson Community College basketball player Alyssa Crosby marries NFL wide receiver Kenny Stills, divorces, marries recently-retired NBA player Steve Nash--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young. Those out there who are into political activism and wonderful harmonies would delight in her full married name of Alyssa Crosby Stills Nash Young..........Answer to trivia question: GRANT HILL (1,710), LINDSEY HUNTER (1,166), JOE DUMARS (1,158), and OTIS THORPE (1,036)..........Suffice it to say that the football world lost one of its greatest players ever as the legendary Chuck Bednarik passed away recently at the age of 89. From blue-collar beginnings in Pennsylvania, Bednarik was a two-way player in the NFL (linebacker and center) and one of the most ferocious tacklers in the game's history. The first player drafted in 1949 (out of Penn), Chuck was a member of the Eagles' championship teams of 1949 and 1960 and was a TEN-TIME All-Pro selection. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967--his first year of eligibility. Former Giants RB/NFL Alumni chairman Randy Minniear, who met Bednarik on a few occasions, recently told me about how tough he was as a player--and added that Chuck had the biggest pair of hands that he ever saw. The aforementioned Tony DeAngelo on Bednarik's legacy: "As a kid growing up in the NYC area, I knew of him as the man who hit Frank Gifford so hard that he knocked him out of football for over a year. But what I also remember is that he was an "old-school," simple man--true to his beliefs and values--and he held on to them throughout his life." Yes, Chuck Bednarik's # 60 jersey will forever remain retired by the Eagles in honor of his unmatched achievements on the gridiron. May "Concrete Charlie" rest in peace.


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