Monster week for Mac College cagers

By Steve Sell
December 12, 2013

Thursday’s thoughts...

• BIG WEEK FOR BULLDOGS — A wise old basketball coach named Roger Trimmell once said that the key to being a KCAC contender was that you had to win at home and hope to split on the road.

Trimmell’s philosophy paid off during his legendary career at McPherson College, as the Bulldogs were annual contenders and tough to beat at home.

If Trimmell’s philosophy is indeed the gospel, then this could be the most important week for the Bulldog teams this season.

Tonight, the Bulldogs host Sterling College, then Friends University comes calling to the Sport Center on Saturday (admission is free for that game).

For the Mac men, they’ll be playing teams picked ahead of them in the KCAC. They’re already a game back in the standings and while the season is still in its infant stages, the Bulldogs can’t afford to fall too far behind. A split of the week, though not the desired result, would be acceptable, but two losses would be a death blow. The Bulldogs, however, have played lights-out at home as they have won all four of their Sport Center games.

For the Mac women, the KCAC co-leader with Southwestern, this week is a chance for them to be considered legitimate contenders after being picked to finish dead last. Mac is 2-0 and has been the surprise of the KCAC. Two wins would guarantee it of being tied for the league lead going into the break.

In other KCAC games tonight, a big matchup on the men’s side finds early season surprise Bethany playing at always difficult Ottawa. The Swedes have averaged 100 points through two conference games, but both were at home. They will have to adjust tonight to ringing ears, as Ottawa’s concrete jungle is one of the loudest places, if not the loudest, place to play.

Southwestern’s women, who I still believe will run the table, have one of their toughest challenges to perfection as they have to play tonight at Kansas Wesleyan, which has the best trio of players in the conference. 

Saint Mary plays at Friends and Bethel goes to Tabor in the other games.

The 2013 portion of the KCAC schedule wraps up on Saturday.

• SO LONG, PAT — It’s a sad so long, but not a farewell, to our sports writing colleague Pat Sangimino of The Hutchinson News.

After four years of entertaining us with his humorous but often thought-provoking columns and in-depth stories, Sangimino is leaving this week as The News’ sports editor. In his farewell column in today’s paper, he announced that he is planning to write his first book.

Sangimino also reported in his column that Brad Hallier, who has covered the Hutchinson Junior College beat for many years, will be elevated to sports editor.

The sports writing fraternity is a close-knit group. Fortunately with my new job, I’m still in contact with many of my brethren. 

Bob Davidson of The Salina Journal is my closest friend among sports writers. Bob and I often call each other to discuss what’s going on in the world of sports and the challenges of the newspaper business. We cover events together and have a good time at the KCAC Media Days.

Actually I’m good friends with all the guys at The Journal, which has had the most consistent sports staff of any newspaper I’ve ever seen. “Sir Lawrence” Moritz, Arne Green, Troy Palenske, Brian Bay and Paul Mogenson have all been affiliated with The Journal for many, many years. We’ve covered countless events together and while we are competitors for readership interest, that hasn’t got in the way of our friendship.

Joanna Chadwick and Bob Lutz at The Wichita Eagle are other friends in the biz, not to mention Rick Peterson and Brent Maycock at The Topeka Capital-Journal. There is a mutual respect among all of us and we can count on each other for information if need be.

I, of course, work closely with my successor at The Sentinel, Chris Swick. Chris is doing a good job of covering a lot of territory with limited resources. It’s hardly a secret that today’s newspapers around the country are struggling, but I still think a town of our size needs a print voice. I decided to get out of the business because I just knew it was time. Thirty-three years of meeting deadlines 250 days out of the year can wear a person down. I certainly made the right decision and have been invigorated ever since.

• WINSTON FAVORED — Now that the book has been closed on his legal problems, Florida State’s Jameis Winston will win the Heisman Trophy Saturday night when the award is presented in New York.

Winston’s play certainly has been peerless. But voters waited until his alleged sexual assault case had been cleared up to cast their ballots. Conveniently, the results of his investigation were announced just a few days before the votes were to be submitted.

An unprecedented six players have been invited to New York for the ceremony, which would suggest that the voting was close. But my feeling is that Winston won by a wide margin and then it was a pack of five for second place. 

The Heisman Trophy, to me, is one of the most overrated awards there is. It often goes to the quarterback on the best team. Winston right now is the best player on the No. 1-ranked Florida State team that will play for the national championship next month.

There certainly have been some forgettable winners. Troy Smith of Ohio State in 2006 comes to mind, as well as Chris Weinke of Florida State in 2000 and Danny Wuerfel of Florida in 1996. More often than not, the Heisman winner doesn’t go on to enjoy professional success.

Just look at the last 10 years, starting with Johnny Manziel of Texas A & M from last year, who I don’t think will set the NFL on fire — Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, San Bradford, Tim Tebow, Troy Smith, Matt Leinert and Jason White. 2003 winner Reggie Bush had his trophy stripped because of improper benefits given to his family. It’s not exactly a group that is well known and names you don’t hear in the Pro Bowl.

And the award almost always goes to a quarterback. At the start of this year, it was believed that South Carolina defensive monster Jadeveon Clowney could win the award, but he spent much of the year playing not to get hurt since he’ll probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. You’ve barely heard a peep from him after he was featured on some early season national TV games and he was either hurt or a nonfactor.