Wagner just now taking off on postseason flight after early-season odyssey

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops where I’m a staff writer.]

Bashir Mason’s Wagner Seahawks made a statement on game one of the college basketball season back in November: A stunning 67-58 win over the then-No. 18 ranked UConn Huskies, a highlight part of Wagner’s season; even this far in, according to Mason.

“I think that’s what the ceiling was for this group,” Mason reminisced. “That was a really good UConn team. We walked in there and beat them.”

To kick off non-conference play with such a loud bang, conventional wisdom would assume Wagner probably takes advantage of such incredible momentum and steam roll from there. But no one could have expected Romone Saunders, who dropped 15 points in their effort against UConn, to suffer a broken bone in his left foot that required surgery, as reported by the Staten Island Advance/SILive.com’s Cormac Gordon.

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Blink, but don’t miss the Red Flash

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]
FROM NINTH TO FOURTH

Back on a beautiful, partly cloudy late fall afternoon; October 26, 2016, the Northeast Conference men’s basketball preseason poll was announced at the fifth annual NEC Basketball Social Media Day at Barclays Center. And so far, it has been a good outlook on the 2016-17 season.

The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, who were voted No. 1, are currently No. 2 behind the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, who were picked tied for fourth with the LIU Brooklyn Blackhawks. While the Wagner Seahawks and the Bryant Bulldogs are both playing below expectations tied for fifth; each were looked at to be No. 2 and No. 3 in the conference, respectively, with the Seahawks tallying four first-place votes.

Robert Morris, St. Francis Brooklyn, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut are all in the bottom half of the conference, where they were voted by the coaches. One team not mentioned, chosen to finish ninth and not receiving enough attention for how they’re performing is Saint Francis University, currently fourth in the NEC.

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New Year Means More Awesomeness to Consume

WRITER’S NO MAN’S LAND

For the first time in weeks I began to type words onto a blank screen again. I went on to write five pages! As time passed since I had written my last anything, I started to think to myself Have I lost my ability to write? The short answer is no. When you’re given the gift of any talent by God, it’s always with you; if you feel as if you’ve somehow become untalented, you’re not. It’s a mental state we put ourselves in. We’re locked in place. Inspiration, creativity, ideas, thoughts… nothing is flowing. Even the things we love and are passionate about don’t provide the same safe space of comfort.

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The Flat: Coach firings start with Jeff Fisher

UPDATE: Gus Bradley. Rex Ryan. John Fox. Mike McCoy. Todd Bowles. Jeff Fisher. Chuck Pagano. Marvin Lewis. Sean Payton. 

Those nine names of NFL head coaches is the running list I had in mind to be fired either sometime throughout the season or on Black Monday — the day after the regular seasons ends; in that order too, from left to right.

Somehow Gus Bradley has survived his way to Week 15. Rex Ryan is out of a job come that fateful Monday. And if the Jets keep performing the way they have been, Todd Bowles is going to coach himself out of a job after just two seasons in the Meadowlands, but he’s probably going to be given one more season. Everyone else is based on how their respective teams finish in the final three weeks. Fox is likely gone and McCoy is 50/50. Pagano, Lewis and Payton are all safe.

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In Blake Francis, Wagner has a shooter with a point guard mentality

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

IN LOSING, THERE CAME A LEADER

The Westfield Bulldogs of Chantilly, Virginia, lost the 6A state championship to the Colonial Forge Eagles of Stafford by the final of 47-46 to end the 2014-15 season. And although it may have been a disappointment, it helped give rise to the leadership of one of their own: then-junior guard Blake Francis.

Failing to capture the Virginia title, he felt an immediate sense of urgency to step up because of how far his team had made it without any of the satisfaction. Plus, he knew that in the following season, he’d be a graduating senior.

His coach at the time, Doug Ewell, placed the responsibility on Francis to relay the message to his teammates that now wasn’t the time to drift apart over losing one game, regardless of its importance. It was instead when they should come together to work toward satiating their ongoing hunger for their ultimate goal: winning it all.

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The Flat: Cowboys are team to beat, not the best

Here’s how the NFL playoffs are shaking up as we watch Week 14:

As the NFL enters the final quarter of the season… 19 teams are either in or within 1 game of a playoff spot.

A photo posted by NFL (@nfl) on

Let’s take the No. 1 seeds first. The Cowboys, as I wrote in my title, are the team to beat in the league, but not the best. They’re certainly a very good, even a great, team, but when it comes playoff time there’s going to be a team that pushes up against how they play: chew the clock with smart, efficient, big runs with Ezekiel Elliot and downfield throws with Dak Prescott. As for the Patriots, they’re well-coached and QB’d, but their defense is shaky.

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The Flat: Tony Romo should be exemplified

When I was a kid, I grew up in a Giants household. I can remember to this day my dad making sure we went to Sunday mass early enough to be back in time for his New York football Giants at 1 p.m. He then could be seen sitting on the couch yelling in pure frustration and excitement from kickoff until the final snap of the game. He still does so.

My dad is a true Giants fan; he bleeds blue. So it’s quite something that he never pushed his fandom onto my brother and I. His example of not forcing us to, in this case, root for a team that we may or may not have necessarily felt invested in just because he was lives on with us. How so? My brother is a Packers cheesehead and I’m all in on Tom Brady and the Patriots. 

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The Flat: Albert Breer answered a Twitter question of mine

A neat thing happened when I tweeted at Albert Breer, The MMQB senior writer and someone I listen to and read frequently, a question about the Raiders: he answered it on his podcast The MMQB Podcast with Albert Breer!

My question:

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