Friday, May 28, 2010

North Carolina hires Kolat

CHAPEL HILL - Cary Kolat, former two-time NCAA champion and member of the 2000 United States Olympic Wrestling Team, is returning to UNC as Director of Wrestling Operations, Tar Heel head coach C.D. Mock announced. Kolat will also be the director and head coach of the North Carolina Olympic Training Center based in Chapel Hill.

Kolat was on the UNC staff for two years in 2002-03 and has worked on collegiate staffs at Lehigh, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Lock Haven, his alma mater. For the past two years, Kolat has been directing a private wrestling club in Maryland and operating, a wrestling training site.

"We are thrilled to have Cary back at Carolina," says Mock. "He's been an assistant coach at several other top wrestling schools. As director of the new Olympic Training Center, Cary brings some tremendous opportunities to our state. He is one of the premier trainers in the nation. Last year he coached Team Maryland in the Cadet and Junior National Championships and they performed exceptionally well.

"The Training Center is going to be an asset for amateur wrestlers and coaches throughout the state. There is so much to offer here; I am certain that Olympic hopefuls will come to Chapel Hill to train with Cary and other members of the Club."

Kolat won NCAA championships in 1995 and 1996 at Lock Haven and finished second as a freshman at Penn State in 1993. He finished his collegiate career with a 111-7 record. He went 137-0 in high school, winning four Pennsylvania state titles. In addition to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Kolat competed for the United States in a dozen other international competitions.

"Getting back to Chapel Hill has been a priority of mine, so to work with Coach Mock and his staff is a real privilege," says Kolat, who won World Cup gold medals from 1998-2000 and finished in the top four at the World Championships on three separate occasions. "Directing the Olympic Training Center gives me a chance to make a positive impact on my sport and help amateur wrestlers and coaches from around the state. The Training Center will not only attract some of the best wrestlers from around the country at the senior level, but will also help boost wrestling in North Carolina at all levels. Local athletes can watch, learn from, and train with some of the best wrestlers competing to make the 2012 Olympics and other international teams."

Monday, May 17, 2010

W&J in D-III tournament

The Washington & Jefferson College baseball team received an at-large berth to the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Presidents (32-10) are the No. 4 seed in the seven-team Mideast Regional that begins Wednesday at Don Schaly Stadium in Marietta, Ohio. The Presidents will play fifth-seeded Adrian (Mich.) at 9:30 a.m. in the first game of the double-elimination tournament.
Heidelberg (37-6), the Ohio Athletic Conference champion, is the top seed. The Student Princes have a first-round bye and will play the W&J-Adrian winner in the second round Wednesday at 8 p.m.
North Coast Athletic Conference champion Wooster (34-7) is the No. 2 seed and will play Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference champion Penn State-Behrend (29-14) at 4:30 p.m. At 1 p.m. Presidents’ Athletic Conference tournament champion Thomas More (31-14) plays Marietta (32-11).
Washington & Jefferson won the PAC’s regular-season title but lost to Thomas More in the finals of the conference tournament. Adrian is the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion and making its fifth trip to the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs won a regional in 2008 and advanced to the World Series, finishing fourth.
W&J is in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. The Presidents had a 2-2 record in a regional at Salisbury, Md., last season.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How many are too many?

While reading a recap Thursday of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional baseball tournament game between California University and Kutztown, I couldn't get past one particular sentence:

Sturgill was most likely unable to clap his hands after the final out after throwing 172 pitches in his 8 1/3 innings.

Sturgill is California starting pitcher Randy Sturgill, pictured. And he's no stranger to throwing a lot of pitches. When asked if he was surprised he threw 172 pitches, Sturgill said, "No. I mean, against West Chester I threw 160 in the (PSAC) tournament. I've thrown a lot before but never really thought I would throw that many pitches in a game in my life."

According to something called, a Website that follows college baseball, Sturgill's 172 pitches matches the most thrown by any Division I pitcher (Cal is a Division II program) this season. Texas Southern freshman Abel Flores threw 172 pitches against McNeese State.

It doesn't matter if the pitcher is a freshman or a senior, a lefty or right-hander, an amateur or professional. If you ask me, 172 pitches are too many. Heck, 160 are too many.

Few things get baseball fans more fired up than a debate about pitch counts. Some argue against the mere concept of a pitch limit. Some coaches live by strict pitch limits. If you believe in pitch counts, where do you draw the line? Is 125 too many? How about 150? Or 172? There are many variables that go into determining how many pitches a player should be limited to, but selecting a specific number is never easy.

As someone once told me when discussing pitch counts, "Too many pitches are like pornography. I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

D-I's youngest coach

Andrew Toole, pictured, became the youngest head coach in Division I men's college basketball when he was promoted Tuesday to the position at Robert Morris.

Toole takes over for Mike Rice, who left for the Big East and Rutgers, and at age 29 becomes the youngest head coach in NCAA men’s Division I basketball. Toole was the school’s associate coach for three seasons.
Toole was the only candidate interviewed for the job and was recommended by a coaching search committee. He is a former player at Elon and Penn and was an assistant for one season at Lafayette.

Previously, Appalachian State’s Jason Capel was the youngest Division I head coach. Capel is 30.

"Andy is the perfect candidate to provide leadership to our program," Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman said. "He has been instrumental in helping to get the program to the heights that it's already achieved, and for that reason we believe the continuity that he provides for our program is important. I'm extremely pleased to welcome him as our newest head coach."

While the hire keeps some continuity within the program and is a popular one with the players, it's a risky move for Robert Morris. It's rare that a program that has made the NCAA tournament two years in a row – and outplayed Villanova in an overtime loss this past season – is turned over to a 29-year-old with no head coaching experience and only four years as an assistant. It will be interesting to see if Toole can continue the success the Colonials had under Rice.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rice to Rutgers

According to and the Asbury (N.J.) Park Press, Robert Morris basketball coach Mike Rice, pictured, has been hired by Rutgers to replace Fred Hill.

A press conference will be held later this week to announce the hiring.

From the Asbury Park Press:

Rice's body of work includes stints as an assistant at Marquette, St. Joseph and Pittsburgh and an impressive three-year reign at Robert Morris, which went 73-30 and made two NCAA Tournament appearances under his direction. Rarely, however, has a head man made the leap from the low-major Northeast Conference directly to the Big East. The last was Kevin Bannon, who went from Rider to Rutgers in 1997 and flamed out four years later.

The news closes a two-week search and a bizarre month-long transition from the time athletics director Tim Pernetti told then-coach Fred Hill he would not be back for the 2010-2011 season.

After Hill's $850,000 buyout was finalized April 19, the search played out like a Survivor season. Two of the coaches Rutgers looked at, Scarlet Knights legend Eddie Jordan and Dayton skipper Brian Gregory, publicly declared their non-interest. A courtship of Temple's Fran Dunphy, who was believed to be Pernetti's top target, proved fruitless. Deposed Boston College coach Al Skinner was interviewed after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called to recommend him, but he did not gain much traction.

That left Rice and former St. John's coach and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla. Multiple sources with knowledge of the process said Fraschilla wanted assurances about renovations to the aging Louis Brown Athletic Center and the addition of a practice facility, and that might have affected his candidacy.

In the end Rice was the one candidate who wanted the job badly — and he got it.

A 1991 graduate of Fordham, where he played guard, Rice has won praise within the coaching fraternity for his assistantships at Fordham (1991-94), Marquette (1994-97), Niagara (1997-98), Chicago State (1998-2001), St. Joseph's (2004-06) and Pittsburgh (2006-07). He also made numerous New Jersey connections among key high school and AAU coaches as director of the Neptune-based Hoop Group's prestigious Eastern Invitational Basketball Camp from 2001-04.

Those connections reportedly rang Pernetti's phone off the hook with recommendations for Rice. Of course, many of those same people firmly backed Fred Hill when he was hired — and stuck with him throughout much of his failed tenure.

There is no doubt that Rice has good basketball bloodlines. His dad, Mike Rice Sr., served as head coach at Duquesne and Youngstown State and posted winning records at both places before moving on to a successful broadcasting career. He currently is the television color commentator for the Portland Trailbazers.