2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • No Break for The BlogDog

    Wed, December 30, 2009 by admin with 5 comments

    The BlogDog thought he’d get some time off while I was on paternity leave.

    Fat chance.

    I’m disposable. The BlogDog is not.

    So for the last several days he’s been studying stats and reading the Armed Forces Bowl coverage provided by Gazette columnist David Ramsey from Fort Worth.

    Anyway, as he was going over the key matchups in tomorrow’s Air Force-Houston game, I realized The BlogDog has several things in common with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

    Like Calhoun, The BlogDog has a close-to photographic memory.

    Like Calhoun, The BlogDog has earned national recognition and accolades for his performance the last three seasons.

    And, like Calhoun, The BlogDog still is searching for his first bowl victory.

    The BlogDog misfired on his predictions for the last two Armed Forces Bowls, taking Air Force to defeat Cal in 2007 and then Houston in 2008. The Falcons lost both games.

    This year, either Calhoun’s or The BlogDog’s streak of futility will end. If The BlogDog’s streak ends, he’ll continue another streak. He nailed six straight picks to end the regular season and salvage a third straight season with at least eight correct predictions.

    Getting back to Norm’s memory, he must still remember what BYU and Max Hall did to the Air Force defense because he’s picking the Cougars to rack up some points on the Falcons.

    Happy New Year to all.

    Norm’s Pick: Houston 37, Air Force 21
    Norm’s 2009 Season Record: 8-4
    Norm’s Overall Record: 25-13

  • Ramsey from Fort Worth

    Mon, December 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Just a reminder to check out Gazette columnist David Ramsey’s blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com) for updates from Fort Worth as Air Force prepares to face Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.

    Ramsey will have posts from bowl practices and other observations. Currently on his blog is an excellent retrospective look at the standout 2007 squad and how much the seniors on that team meant to its success.

    By the way, The BlogDog will be making a pick for the game against Houston. He’s hit six in a row, so he can’t take a break even if I can.

  • A Break from the Beat

    Wed, December 23, 2009 by admin with 15 comments

    Just a quick note that I’ll be taking a break from the Air Force beat and the blog to hang out with James Brennan Schaller, who arrived on Monday morning.

    Brennan (6 pounds, 5 ounces and 18 ¾ inches) and his mom are doing great. The BlogDog has a new best friend.

    I won’t be at the bowl game, but David Ramsey will be there all week, and Brian Gomez will be arriving closer to the game. Some of my colleagues will be contributing to this blog, but the week of the bowl game, please go to Ramsey’s blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com) for news and updates.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.

  • More than 40,000 tickets sold for Air Force bowl game

    Tue, December 22, 2009 by admin with no comments

    With eight days left before the kickoff of the 2009 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, more than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the New Year’s Eve game featuring Houston against Air Force at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

    The “pass first” 10-3 Cougars of Houston (ranked 25th in the USA Today poll and 27th in the AP) meet the 7-5 “pass defense first” Falcons. The seventh annual postseason game kicks off at 10 a.m. (MST) and will be aired live on ESPN.

    “We are very pleased with our sales to date,” said Brant B. Ringler, executive director of the bowl. “The Armed Forces theme combined with a post-Christmas date has been a definitive plus in our attendance surge the past three years.”

    The past two Armed Forces Bowls have featured record crowds. The 2007 game between Air Force and Cal attracted 40,905 fans while Houston’s win over the Falcons last New Year’s Eve was witnessed by 41,127 fans at the sold out 44,358-seat stadium. Prior to 2007, the best attendance mark was for the inaugural game in 2003 when Boise State defeated TCU 34-31 before 38,028 fans.

    Ringler, along with many others, feels that this year’s game is one of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl’s most interesting matchups as the contest features the No. 1 passing offense in the country (Houston) against the No. 1 pass defense (Air Force) among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools. In addition, Air Force is ranked third in rushing offense.

    Ticket prices are $50 for sideline seats, $40 for upper deck seats and $20 for end-zone tickets. Military veterans receive half off any $50 or $40 seat and active-duty personnel get in free via the corporate military ticket underwriting program. A portion of local ticket sales will go to designated military charities (USO & Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund). Tickets for this year’s game can be obtained by calling the bowl office at 817-810-0012, or by going to the Web site for more information at www.ArmedForcesBowl.com.

  • Hockey: Falcons off until Dec. 28

    Mon, December 21, 2009 by admin with no comments

    The Falcons, tied for first place in the Atlantic Hockey Association with Mercyhurst, return to practice from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28 before leaving Tuesday to fly to Milford, Conn.

    Air Force (8-6-4, 8-2-4 AHA) takes on Sacred Heart (4-9-2, 2-6-1) on Saturday, Jan. 2 and Sunday, Jan. 3 at 5:05 p.m. Mountain. Both games can be heard on 1300 AM with pregame coverage starting at 4:35 p.m..

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, December 20, 2009 by admin with no comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team fell to 5-4 last night with a 60-52 loss to Northern Arizona. My notes, which deal in part with Derek Brooks’ return and the Falcons’ injuries, can be found at this link. My “Rapid Reaction” from last night is in the post below.

    Switching to football, Wyoming staged a comeback to force overtime in yesterday’s New Mexico Bowl and then defeated Fresno State in two overtimes.

    Much has been made of Air Force potentially breaking into the top three in the Mountain West Conference. That should be a goal. But for the Falcons, holding off the teams that have finished below them in coach Troy Calhoun’s first three seasons is going to become a greater and greater challenge. Dave Christensen is going to get it going at Wyoming, I think, and Brady Hoke’s going to do the same at San Diego State. And I don’t see Colorado State finishing in last place again.

  • Northern Arizona 60, Air Force 52 – Rapid Reaction

    Sun, December 20, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Last week Air Force played perhaps its best game of the season in routing Prairie View A&M, 75-41. The Falcons then stayed close with Washington State of the Pac-10, playing admirably before falling, 75-68.

    Two steps forward.

    Tonight Air Force lost to Northern Arizona.

    One step back. Way back.

    The Lumberjacks had lost four of five heading into tonight’s game, including blowout losses to San Diego State and New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference by 41 and 39 points, respectively.

    Yes, the Falcons missed leading scorer Grant Parker and his 17.1 points per game. And, yes, they missed starting center Sammy Schafer.

    But Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds, to his credit, said after the game that while those players would have helped the Falcons he didn’t think their absence was why his team lost.

    “We’re not the only team in the country that has injuries,” Reynolds said. “So we’ve got to find a way to battle through it.”

    Air Force played well in the first half, building a 27-23 advantage at the break. But the Falcons were dreadful in the second half. They scored on just one of their first 11 possessions, and through 15-plus minutes they had scored just nine points.

    For they game they went 3-for-13 from 3-point range (including 0-for-7 in the second half) and 11-of-21 from the free throw line.

    That can’t happen. Just like the Air Force football team has to be able to run the ball and limit turnovers, the basketball team has to make 3-pointers and free throws.

    Other Thoughts:
    -On the bright side, freshman guard Todd Fletcher had another good game for the Falcons.

    Fletcher, who scored a career-high 13 points in a career-high 29 minutes a week ago against Washington State, had 11 points in 27 minutes tonight.

    He seems to have a good feel for the game – Reynolds said he had “a good floor game,” tonight. And it showed on defense. Twice in the first half Fletcher broke into a passing lane to swipe the ball and start a fast break.

    -Freshmen typically are up and down. That would describe Michael Lyons’ last two games. He had a career-high 25 last week against Washington State on 10-of-15 shooting. Tonight he went 2-of-10 from the floor and finished with four points.

  • Saturday Morning Links

    Sat, December 19, 2009 by admin with no comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team faces Northern Arizona tonight at Clune Arena. The Lumberjacks (love that name/mascot) are 3-6 and have lost four of five.

    The game should give some indication as to how Air Force will fare against the top half of the Mountain West Conference because the Lumberjacks already have played New Mexico and San Diego State (and been blown out by both). Yes, Air Force will be without two starters (Sammy Schafer and Grant Parker), but that could be how the Falcons start league play in early January.

    Anyhow, here’s an article on freshman forward Michael Lyons and my 3 Things to Watch in tonight’s game.

  • Friday Morning Links

    Fri, December 18, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Wrote a short hoops story for today’s edition of The Gazette about Air Force senior forward/center Mike McLain.

    McLain has put together two straight solid games after struggling early in the season and making a team-high 20 turnovers in the Falcons’ first six games. He brings energy, effort and defense to the Falcons, but he’d like to hit some more 3s. He’s 4-of-20 from distance but shoots the ball much better in practice.

    McLain shed weight during the summer (going from about 243 to about 216 now) because he expected to play more on the wing with sophomore Sammy Schafer presumably taking over the starting center spot and freshman Taylor Broekhuis backing him up there. But when both went down with injuries, McLain moved back to center. (And he’ll likely stay there for the foreseeable future, as Schafer likely will be sidelined for a while – and perhaps longer).

    Despite his weight loss, McLain didn’t lose much strength. He mostly cut down on body fat, and coach Jeff Reynolds said McLain is the Falcons’ best defensive post player.

    Switching to football, Stewart Mandel of SI.com predicted the results of each bowl game, including the Armed Forces Bowl.

  • Hockey: Lamoureux’s sisters makes women’s Olympic team

    Thu, December 17, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Happy times for the Lamoureux clan …

    From USA Hockey …

    BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Among the 21 players named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team here today at Mall of America® are six Olympic veterans, including Jenny Potter (Edina, Minn.) and Angela Ruggiero (Simi Valley, Calif.), who will both be playing in their fourth Games in Vancouver.

    The U.S. team, which includes three goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards, will continue competing in the Qwest Tour until departing for the Olympics on Feb. 7. The opening ceremonies are slated for Feb. 12, with Team USA’s first game taking place on Feb. 14 against China.

    The team was selected from the 23 players who made up the 2009-10 U.S. Women’s National Team. The group has been training in Blaine, Minn., at the National Sports Center’s Schwan Super Rink since early September, in addition to competing on the Qwest Tour and in two international tournaments.

    “It’s an exciting day for a lot of reasons,” said Mark Johnson, head coach for Team USA. “It was an extremely tough decision, but now we can move forward and continue preparing ourselves. We feel good about the process, which gave everyone an opportunity. We’re excited by the youthfulness of our team, as well as comfortable with the veterans and the leadership they will provide.”

    “We have 57 days to go before the opening ceremonies of the Olympics,” said Michele Amidon, general manager for Team USA. “We’re enthusiastic and confident that we have the best 21 players to help us achieve our goal of winning the gold medal.”

    The four additional players with Olympic experience on the U.S. roster are two-time Olympians Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.) and Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.), as well as 2006 Olympians Caitlin Cahow (Branford, Conn.) and Molly Engstrom (Siren, Wis.). Of the 21 players, all but one have competed in an International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship, including 19 who captured a gold medal last April to propel the United States to the No. 1 ranking in the world.

    Hilary Knight (Hanover, N.H.) is the youngest U.S. player at 20 years old, thus marking the first time that a U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team will not include a teenager at the Games. Knight, who currently leads the National Team with 21 points (9-12) in 16 games, is just nine days younger than Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.), who will become the first set of twins ever to play hockey in the Olympics.