Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's over .... ACU Dominates from second quarter on to defeat No. 3 Northwest Missouri is down, here is a brief recap from Lance Fleming ....

MARYVILLE, Mo. – Abilene Christian running back Bernard Scott ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns and Billy Malone threw four touchdown passes Saturday night as the eighth-ranked Wildcats knocked off third-ranked Northwest Missouri State, 44-27, in front of more than 9,000 fans at Bearcat Stadium.

The Wildcats (1-0) trailed 21-7 in the first quarter, but rallied with five straight scoring drives to outscore the Bearcats (0-1) 30-0 to take a 37-21 lead through three quarters.

After falling behind by two touchdowns, Malone hit Jonathan Ferguson for a 61-yard scoring strike to cut the lead to 21-14. Matt Adams followed with a 34-yard field goal to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 21-17 at the break.

ACU then dominated the third quarter, scoring on three straight as Malone hit Kendrick Holloway with a 1-yard scoring strike, Scott scored on a 1-yard run and Johnny Knox scored on a 7-yard scoring pass.

The Bearcats seemed to grab some momentum early in the fourth quarter when Kendall Wright scored on a 23-yard scoring pass from Joel Osborn, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to 37-27 with 13 minutes to play. But ACU’s defense stood up in the fourth quarter, stopping three straight Northwest Missouri State drives, in part because of dominating play from defensive ends Vantrise Studivant and Aston Whiteside.

Scott finished it off for the Wildcats with a 14-yard touchdown run with 2:10 to play to stretch the lead back out to 44-27.

The Wildcats’ victory snapped a 17-game home winning streak by the Bearcats, who have played in the NCAA Division II national championship game in three straight seasons.

Shaky first quarter, but back on track

The opening looked pretty grim for ACU, Northwestern Missouri State scored on its first three drives while ACU stalled on the first, and then returned to form with two-straight scoring drives.

With a 21-17 halftime score, considering the defensive start for ACU, I think Chris Thomsen would be pleased with only a four-point deficit.

Billy Malone was efficient, 6 for 7 with 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Jonathan Ferguson and Ryan Keeling. Bernard Scott wasn’t spectacular but still solid with 10 carries and 57 yards.

Matt Adams
becomes ACU’s all-time points leader with two extra points and a 34-yard field goal, Adams has 227 career points through the first half. He passed my good friend Eben Nelson (2001-2004) – ACU’s all-Century team placekicker – who tallied 225 points in four years. Congratulations to Matt.

My feeling is – because the Wildcat defense settled down and began to compete, if ACU can hold NWMSU to 10 points in the second half, the visitors will come out on top.

Other notes:

• Stan Wagnon, the Lone Star Conference commissioner, is in the booth with Grant and Lance for a halftime interview after making the trip from the Dallas area.
• The ACU Volleyball team is 4-0 after sweeping its opponents at the Lady Buffs Classic in Canyon. The Wildcats haven’t begun a season at 4-0 since 1994.

Countdown to kickoff ...

As the popular ESPN Radio personality Colin Cowherd says, “There are two seasons in sports: Football Season, and waiting for football season." Well, ACU Wildcat fans who share the same sentiment, the wait is only minutes away for the “waiting” season to end.

Talking to Lance, last year he felt the Wildcats were lethargic in warm ups before a 27-17 loss to Central Oklahoma to open the 2007 season. About 30 minutes ago, there was more intensity and enthusiasm to warm ups to begin the 2008 season.

The Northwest Missouri State band’s drum corp has been playing nonstop since the 45-minute mark on the clock. A sea of green is pouring into the stadium here at Maryville, Mo. on both sides of the 6,500-seat Bearcat Stadium. There is a small section of purple and white on the visitor’s side extending from the 15-yard line to the 5-yard line.

Maryville can be compared to a much smaller version of Green Bay, Wisc. The town is behind its Bearcats. From the checkout counter at the hotel this morning, to Walmart and a local Applebees, NWMSU and Bearcat green bore most of the locals’ chests.

Abilene Christian (ranked No. 8) is wearing white-on-white with the traditional purple helmets. NW Missouri State is green-on-green. As I close this post, Grant Boone and Lance Fleming have just begun the radio broadcast on 1470 AM locally in Abilene and there is 17:49 left until kickoff.

Game Day is Here!

Live Video Link, visit - kickoff at 6 p.m. central time.

The Wildcats have waited more than nine months to rid themselves of the bitter taste of last year's triple-overtime playoff loss at Chadron State. Their wait is down to hours now as we are finally ready for the start of the 2008 football season.

It's 9 a.m.. here in Maryville, Mo., and everyone here is ready for the kickoff of the only game featuring two top-10 teams in the country, regardless of NCAA division. The eighth-ranked Wildcats and fourth-ranked Bearcats of Northwest Missouri State will get started at 6 p.m., and ACU's new play-by-play voice, Grant Boone, will join Lance Fleming (color commentator) and Brandon Stover (sideline) will bring you the broadcast on KYYW 1470 AM. We'll be on the air at 5:40 p.m. with the pre-game show.

Both of these teams are anxious to get back on the field, but for totaly different reasons. ACU, of course, because of its 76-73 triple-overtime loss to Chadron State last year in the second round of the playoffs. The Wildcats carried a 29-point lead into the fourth quarter only to see it evaporate in the final 15 minutes.

The Bearcats are anxious to get back on the road to the national championship game, a game they've played in in each of the last three seasons. However, they've lost all three games by a combined 12 points (losing to Grand Valley State in 2005 and 2006 and Valdosta State in 2007). So the Bearcats are eager to prove they can not only get to the big game, but win it.

Look, it's no secret that the Lone Star Conference as a whole still trails the MIAA in national respect, title-game appearances and just about anything else you want to look at. But the LSC has a chance to make a statement over the first couple of weeks of the season with several games between teams in the two leagues.

Saturday night's game is the first, and it will pit an ACU team that is trying to reach the level that Northwest has reached against a Northwest team trying to win again on the biggest stage in Division II football.

If you go by the people picking this game, it apparently doesn't need to be played because they all believe the Bearcats are going to win. The columnists on (LSC and MIAA) both pick the Bearcats to win, and so does the Abilene Reporter-News. I'm not saying the Wildcats are going to stroll into Bearcat Stadium and kick the Bearcats around like they did so many early season opponents last year.

I will say, however, that I believe the Wildcats will play much better than they did in last year's season-opening loss at Central Oklahoma. This subject came up at dinner last night between Grant, Brandon, Kyle Robarts and myself, and what I said was this: since Chris Thomsen became the Wildcats' head coach, I haven't seen this team go into one game (other than last year's UCO game) where it didn't look totally prepared to play.

Now, does that mean we've always won or played as well as we could have? No. But the bottom line is, the Wildcats were in position to win each of their last 12 games last year because they were well-schooled and well-prepared during the week of practice.

I don't expect Saturday night to be any different. We've all talked about this game ad nauseum since it was announced in February that the teams had agreed to play. The time for talking about it is over. It's time to play and I can't wait.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Volleyball starts 2-0 for first time since 1999; Soccer falls in 2OT

More information later, but the Wildcat volleyball team opened with two 3-1 wins over Fort Hays State and Texas A&M-International. Freshman Jennie Hutt led ACU in kills both matches in her first collegiate contests.

Read Official Release of ACU's first two volleyball matches

Read Official Release of ACU's first soccer match

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seven days to go ...

The ACU Wildcats wrapped up summer practice Saturday with a light intrasquad scrimmage at Shotwell Stadium, and when it was over head coach Chris Thomsen proclaimed his team ready for what could be the program's best season since the 1977 NAIA Division I national championship season.

And that's saying something considering the Wildcats are coming off back-to-back NCAA Division II playoff appearances and finished 10-3 in 2007 with one of the most exciting offenses in all of college football. The Wildcats' march to a third straight playoff appearance (and hopefully more than that) will begin next Saturday at 6 p.m. in Maryville, Mo., when the Wildcats take on No. 3 Northwest Missouri State in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the season.

The reason for Thomsen's optimism entering the season is he believes he's molded the kind of team he envisioned when he and offensive coordinator Ken Collums arrived at ACU prior to the 2005 season. Thomsen wants players committed to the team concept, players who work hard, players who are focused and intense and who strive to do the right things on the field, off the field and in the classroom.

Some of his best players are the guys who embody all of those characteristics, and the other players have followed their example. Bernard Scott, Billy Malone and Johnny Knox get most of the headlines on offense, but as Thomsen said earlier in the summer, the heart and sould of the offensive unit is senior center Sam Collins. He's a four-year starter who has started every game for the Wildcats the last three seasons.

The wrapup to the Wildcats' summer practice can be found here. But here are a few notes from a post-practice chat with Coach Thomsen:

* Quarterback Billy Malone would prefer to stay out of the limelight, and that's why he's not often quoted in the newspaper or found on TV highlights. That preference has led to more coverage of Bernard Scott and Johnny Knox, not that it's not warranted. However, Malone's preference to stay out of the spotlight has covered up the fact that the senior goes into his fourth season as the Wildcats' starter in the best physical shape of his career and with a firm grasp on the Wildcats' playbook.

"Billy has had great focus and preparation, which is what I expected of him," Thomsen said. "He's picked up right where he left off last year. He's dropped about 10 pounds (down to 230 pounds) from last year, and I think he feels better physically. He's able to move around in the pocket a little bit better, and that will help him. He's right where he needs to be going into the season."

* Thomsen said that several redshirt freshmen would play prominent roles on what he believes will be a better Wildcat defensive unit in 2008, and two of them will start next Saturday against Northwest Missouri State. Defensive ends Nick Jones (Amarillo Tascosa) and Aston Whiteside (Vernon) will line up as the bookends in the Wildcats' 3-4 defense. Both were starting with the first team defense in Saturday's scrimmage, and defensive line coach Clayton Farrell said they would be in the same spots next Saturday.

Transfer Vantrise Studivant (Rutgers), redshirt freshman Ryan Smith, sophomore Austin January and senior Willis Hogan will also rotate in and out, giving the Wildcats six defensive ends who will see playing time.

"We're really excited about Nick and Aston and what they bring to us," Thomsen said. "They've got great athleticism, and we're excited to see how they perform in their first college game. I know they're getting thrown into the fire, so to speak, but I know they'll play hard and give us everything they have."

* The Wildcats are likely to add another Rutgers transfer to the defensive side of the ball on Sunday when senior linebacker Chenry Lewis reports. Lewis has one year of eligibility remaining after playing the last three seasons for the Scarlet Knights of the Big East. A teammate of Studivant's at Rutgers, Lewis initially transferred to the University of Rhode Island after playing at Rutgers, but will instead play his final season at ACU.

Lewis will go through workouts with the Wildcats this week and will then probably make the trip to Missouri. Thomsen said with a limited knowledge of the Wildcats' defense, he'll probably be used mainly in pass-rush situations. He would then have two full weeks to get ready for the Wildcats' Sept. 13 home-opener against Texas A&M-Commerce.

The 6-1, 245-pound defensive end / outside linebacker is a native of Kingston, Jamaica, and played on all three Rutgers bowl teams the last three seasons.

* Former Blinn College punter Sean McGlothlin reported to camp earlier this week and could be the Wildcats' punter against NW Missouri State, although Thomsen said he would likely take both Mark Kelley (last year's punter) and McGlothlin to Missouri.

* Tight end Trey Simeone, who missed all of last year with shoulder problems, is probably out for 4-6 weeks after injuring his foot. The redshirt junior was looking forward to returning to Maryville, Mo., this week (he played there as a freshman in 2005), but his injury will keep him out of the game. The Wildcats, though, are in good shape at tight end with returning starter Kendrick Holloway entrenched as the starter with Oregon transfer Ryan Keeling behind him and Nick Evans running as the third-stringer.

* It appears the battle for the backup quarterback spot has been won by redshirt freshman Zach Stewart, who worked with the second team in Saturday's scrimmage. The former Abilene Cooper HS quarterback looked sharp throwing the ball and Thomsen said he has put together a good summer camp.

Transfer Clark Harrell (Tulsa) is still learning the offense, while Thomsen and the offensive staff have been impressed with true freshman Mitchell Gale of Alva, Okla. The Wildcats' head coach said he believes ACU will be in good shape at the position for the next several years with three good quarterbacks to choose from after Malone throws his last pass for the Wildcats.

* The offensive line is coming together pretty nicely for the Wildcats, who have had to assimilate two mammoth transfers -- left tackle Tony Washington and right tackle Trevis Turner -- into the starting unit. However, that transition seems to be going pretty smoothly, and Thomsen said the unit really started showing signs this week of gelling together and becoming the unit it needs to be for the offense to succeed.

Thomsen also mentioned how impressed he has been with the play of redshirt freshman (and former walk-on) Matt Webber, who will probably step in for Collins at center in 2009. Also impressing Thomsen has been the play of redshirt freshman tackle Neal Tivis. With Washington, Turner, Tivis, Webber and this year's starting left guard, Royland Tubbs, returning next year, the offensive line should be in good shape in 2009.

* Most fans have heard that there will be a new clock rule in place for the 2008 season, but that won't be the only new rule for the upcoming season. After the scrimmage, Thomsen and his coaching staff sat down with two LSC game officials and went over the new rules (and their interpretations of the rules) in a 45-minute question-and-answer session.

Some of the new rules for 2008 that you'll need to know are these:
> For the first time, the NCAA has adopted the use of a 40-second clock, as well as a 25-second clock.

When an official signals the ball is dead (either in bounds or out of bounds), the 40-second play clock will begin. If the 40-second clock is interrupted for reasons beyond the controle of the officials or the play-clock operator (clock malfunction, etc.), the referee will stop the game clock and signal that the play clock should be re-set to 40 seconds and started immediately.

In the event that the 40-second clock is running and the ball is not ready to be snapped after 20 seconds into the count, the referee shall declare an official timeout and signal that the play clock be set at 25 seconds.

25-second clock: If the officials signal the game clock to be stopped for any of the following reasons, the referee shall signal that the clock should be set at 25 seconds:
* penalty
* team timeout
* media timeout
* injury timeout
* measurement
* change of possession
* after a score
* start of each quarter
* start of each series in overtime
* other administrative stoppage

> The receiving team on a kickoff has the option to take the ball its own 40-yard line on a kickoff out of bounds.
> The horse-collar tackle has been prohibited. However, if a quarterback is sacked in the pocket via the horse-collar it is a legal play. And, according to the LSC officials, the only time a horse-collar tackle will be called will be when the runner immediately goes down.
> The five-yard facemask penalty has been eliminated. The only facemask penalty now is a 15-yard personal foul penalty that will also carry with it an automatic first down. A defensive player may put his hand on the facemask, and as long as there is no twisting or pulling on the facemask, he will not be penalized.
> There will no longer be a sideline warning. The first time a team is outside the zone and a flag is thrown it will be a 5-yard penalty. Same for the second time. From the third time on it will be a 15-yard penalty.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Football preview now online

The ACU football season preview is now online. Read about the Wildcats' upcoming 2008 season here.

Don't forget, the Wildcats will open the 2008 season next Saturday (Aug. 30) in Maryville, Mo., against perennial NCAA Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri State. The Bearcats are ranked No. 3 in the nation and the Wildcats No. 8, according to the American Football Coaches' Association pre-season rankings.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

AVCA Top 25 released - Other notes around the Wildcat Den

Last year, ACU's volleyball team faced five nationally-ranked opponents during the regular season. This season won't be much different. The American Volleyball Coaches Association via the CBS College Sports Network released the NCAA Division II Preseason top 25 today.

Two familiar faces are on the board, most notably West Texas A&M who begins the season ranked No. 5 in the country. This gives our friends from Canyon two teams in the national top 10 (the football program is ranked No. 10 in the AFCA poll). ACU will face the Lady Buffs Sept. 27 in Abilene at Moody Coliseum.

Central Oklahoma didn't crack the top 25 but received 24 points in the poll, which makes the Bronchos unofficially the 31st ranked team in the country prior to the 2008 season. The Wildcats will also play host to UCO Oct. 25.

The Pittsburg State Invitational Oct. 3-4 could prove to be a tough road trip for the Wildcats. Two of their four matches include Central Missouri and the hosts. Central Missouri (ACU plays CMU Oct. 3) is ranked No. 13 entering the season and Pittsburg State is ranked No. 17 (ACU plays PSU Oct. 4).

Other notes around ACU athletics:

• Abilene has enjoyed several inches of rain the past few days, however, it has slowed the practices for football and women's soccer. The soccer team canceled its Tuesday scrimmage and hopes to work one in on Wednesday. When weather has forced the soccer team to miss practices all together, the team has been limited to conditioning on the track. The football team has had to re-arrange several practices around the weather as well.
• Read the official 2008 ACU Women's Soccer Preview by clicking here.
• Another 55 football players showed up for physicals this weekend as football prepares for the season. Most returnees and recruits immediately ready for on-the-field action reported last week, but this weekend saw the final wave of incoming players.
• ACU's newest two administrators haven't had much of a chance to ease into the job. I saw a line of several athletes in a cue waiting to talk with the new assistant athletic director for compliance, Barry Pupella, as he was walking them through the Aprende Technologies online software to help keep our athletes eligible and compliant throughout the academic school year. Nate Davis, the assistant athletic director for operations, arrived Aug. 6 and is already tackling sponsors for ACU's athletic broadcasts and preparing for the upcoming year.
• Ten days after the debut of the ACU Sports Blog, we had already reached the 1,000 visits mark. For those of you who've visited thanks, and help us by spreading the word to other alums and Wildcat fans!
• Minus the intrasquad scrimages and maybe some weather permitting exhibitions, the athletic school year kicks off Aug. 29. That day the volleyball team has two matches at the Lady Buff Classic while the soccer team plays in Missouri. From the time of this post, the kickoff for one of the biggest, if not the biggest, non-conference NCAA Division II football game in the nation between the No. 8-ranked ACU and No. 3-ranked Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. is in 10 days, 21 hours and 37 minutes.

Measuring heights and weights of athletes

Today I’ll tackle one of the biggest grassy knoll theories in all of sports history. No, not the New England Patriots “spy gate” scandal, or the second fight between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali in 1964 involving the phantom punch, or that Michael Jordan initially retired in 1993 due to his gambling problems rather than mental fatigue over his father’s death. No, today I will try to unfold the mystery of exaggerated heights and weights on NCAA football and basketball rosters.

Thanks to an old college buddy, an ACU alum, for emailing in and trying to gain some knowledge on the subject, which has fueled the motive for this blog. His email also sparked an idea that Lance, Jared and I should leave this ACU blog open for questions that may result in a blog entry. Now you can do this one of two ways, if you have your own blog through blogger, you can leave comments at the end of our posts and leave your questions. Otherwise, we set up an email address for questions and comments, Obviously, we may not be able to answer every question, but it’s nice to have feedback.

In the short five years of experience I’ve had in sports information. The answer is pretty simple: TNIC (There is no cabal). That’s not to say that an inch isn’t given or taken here or there, or that a few pounds are given here or there.

Note that most of the time in colleges, the media relations folks (guys like Lance and I) control the printing of roster sheets, web rosters, game programs and media guides. To attain initial heights and weights, we generally go with what’s on an athlete’s publicity questionnaire that they’ll fill out as they enter the university.

Whatever they put on that sheet is truth until proven otherwise. Generally before camp opens in football or the first week of basketball practice is when athletic trainers and coaches weigh in the bulk of their rosters.

From there, we’ll receive a spreadsheet with “accurate” heights and weights. Just last week, Lance and I spent about an hour trying to collaborate the spreadsheet we’d just been given and the roster we’d already made.

In some instances, if we run across a player, he says he’s 5-8, 195 when in reality (the trainer’s spread sheet) he’s 5-7, 183; We’d probably leave him at 5-8, but list him at 185.

Weight is a relative thing. For one thing, if a 295-pound lineman at 2 p.m. just went through a two-hour practice in 100-degree heat, at 4 p.m., he may weigh 287. Generally we round up or down to the nearest fifth pound.

Height is a different story, if you’re under 6-0, it really doesn’t matter too much, but sometimes I will admit that I think players’ heights could be exaggerated an inch, or two, or three. Being 6-9 myself, I can usually pick out the ones who might have an exaggerated height.

When I was at McMurry, we had a kid play basketball at 6-10 1/2, but we listed him at 7-0.

So I hope this answers some of the questions. There have been several times when I have scratched my head at some of the paper rosters I receive before a game, and then scratch my head when I see the actual product in front of me. I’m not sure why it seems necessary that some programs may exaggerate the heights and weights. If it’s for intimidation factor, maybe they should just see the result on the court and the field.

Last season in McMurry’s opener, we outweighed Huntingdon College by an average of 15 pounds and as a whole were taller as well, however, Huntingdon doubled us up 26-13.

So at the end of the day, the old cliché goes: It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


In case you missed it, Jamaica's Usain Bolt ran a world-record time of 9.69 seconds Saturday night to win the 100 meters at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Let me repeat that: 9.69!

The only time that mark has ever been seen in the 100 meters is on a video game. Bolt is in his first year in the highest-profile event on the track, and if 2008 is any indication then marks that were once considered impossible (something in the 9.5s) is possible with this guy.

A 6-5 sprinter, Bolt is the "gold" standard now, and the 22-year-old will only get better from here. The first 100-meter Olympic champion from Jamaica, Bolt bulled into the lead at about the 20-meter mark and then turned on the jets. He probably could have run in the high 9.5s if he hadn't coasted through the final 20 meters already in full celebration mode. It was a defining moment in track and field history, similar to the moment when Michael Johnson -- wearing his gold Nike shoes -- completed his 400-200 double at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta with a remarkable time of 19.32 seconds in the 200 meters.

Some Olympic moments stand the test of time, moments like Bob Beamon's long jump mark in Mexico City in 1968, Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals in Munich in 1972, Bruce Jenner's decathlon win in 1976, Carl Lewis' performance in 1984, Flo-Jo in 1988 in Seoul, the Dream Team in 1992, Michael Johnson in 2000, Jeremy Wariner bursting onto the international scene in 2004 and, of course, Michael Phelps in 2008.

But for track and field fans, the men's 100 meters will stand the test of time as well, simply because it brought a new face onto the international scene that will dominate the landscape for at least the next four years. Casual followers of sports -- and those who pay attention to track and field only when the Olympics roll around every four years -- had probably never heard of Usain Bolt before watching the tape-delayed 100-meter final. But Bolt had already broken the world record twice in 2008, and his races have become something of a sensation on You Tube.

ACU fans have their own athlete who transcended the sport and put his own stamp on an Olympic Games, and that was the great Bobby Morrow, who won three gold medals at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia. For years Morrow has been called the "Greatest Sprinter of All Time," and you'd get an argument from anyone who ever saw Morrow run that he doesn't still own that title.

But Bolt has forever put his stamp on the world of track and field ... and it likely won't be the last time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Season nears end for Watten, Elkerson

If you haven't been following the first season of professional baseball for former ACU baseball all-America players Trey Watten and Mike Elkerson, you're running out of time.

Watten is playing for the Helena (Mont.) Brewers in the short-season Pioneer Rookie League, while Elkerson is playing for the Danville (Va.) Braves in the short-season Appalachian Rookie League. The Brewers are 6-12 in the second half of the season (26-30 overall), but are still in the chase for a playoff spot.

Billings won the North Division in the first half and has a big lead in the second half, while Orem (Utah) is in the same situation in the South Division. In case both those teams win their respective division titles in the second half, too, Helena and Great Falls are battling for the other playoff spot from the North Division, while Ogden has a half-game lead over Casper for the other spot in the South Division. Great Falls leads Helana by two games for the next-best overall record in the North Division.

Watten's first season has had its ups and downs as he carries a 2-2 record and 5.47 ERA into the weekend. He's appeared in 11 games (10 starts) and has given up 63 hits and 32 runs (30 earned) in 47 innings of work. He's only walked 18 batters and struck out 32, but he's also allowed five home runs.

Because of the work he received at ACU last spring and the short layoff between the end of the Wildcats' season and the start of the Brewers' season, Watten has been on a strick pitch count. As a result he hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in any start this season. In his last start (Thursday night) he gave up six hits and seven earned runs while walking five batters in a loss against the Orem (Utah) Owlz.

Elkerson's first season with the Danville (Va.) Braves will likely conclude next weekend as his team enters Saturday's play 5.5 games out of first place in their division. The Braves have won five straight division titles, but are fading in the second half as the Pulaski (Va.) Mariners have pulled out to a significant lead.

Elkerson has played in 25 games this season and is hitting .218 (19 for 87) with 17 runs scored, six doubles, one triple, one home run and 10 RBI. He's walked seven times and struck out 32 times as he's spent the season adjusting to using a wood bat.

Helena Brewers home page

Danville Braves home page

First week of volleyball practice in the books

You could read an article with several quotes from head coach Kellen Mock about the first week of volleyball practice, and you could read a story describing some of the drills. Instead, check out the links below, an audio interview with Mock about the first week of practice and a photo gallery from Wednesday's practice.

Interview with coach Mock about the first week of two-a-days (9:34)
Practice Photo Gallery from Aug. 13

If you don't have the time to listen to the entire thing, here are some highlights:

• Mock said that the four newcomers and Britni Golden (returning from injury) are fitting in well to the new system
• All-region middle blocker Shawna Hines missed Wednesday-Friday to be with her father who was having surgery, but Mock said that the procedure went well and expects Hines back on the floor Monday
• Erica Dickinson, who was the team's primary setter in 2006, spent last season as the backup, but has shown signs of an emerging defensive player for the Wildcats in 2008
• The team is going to Arlington Saturday and Sunday for a retreat before beginning the last week of full practice before match play Aug. 29 on Monday
• The Wildcats' first tournament Aug. 29-30 is in Canyon on the campus of West Texas A&M ... ACU won't be playing the Lady Buffs but will still have to deal with "The Box," the un-air conditioned volleyball facility ... In order to be prepared, ACU will spend a lot of time in ACU's "Single Gym" next week which also features lack of air conditiong


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Purple Curtain? : Wildcats overhaul backfield in 2nd season to compliment offense

Being removed from campus the past three years has provided enough separation that I haven’t been able to completely stay on the inside. However, still living in Abilene I was able to stay close enough to catch some of the exciting happenings in ACU athletics last season.

Obviously one of the bigger stories of ACU’s athletic school year in 2007-08 was the inaugural season of women’s soccer. I wasn’t able to take in all that took place in the program’s first year under Casey Wilson, but I did see the Wildcats shutout UT-Permian Basin in their first-ever home game, pound College of the Southwest 14-0 later in the year, and because of my employment at McMurry, I saw ACU beat the former Indians 5-0 on the reservation.

I had a chance to sit down with both coach Wilson and assistant coach Thomas Pertuit yesterday to get a feel for how they were feeling entering into the program’s second season (Look for an official season preview on Friday). It’s easy to see that there’s a sense of relief and the feeling of a more solid direction for 2008.

In my opinion, an 8-11-1 overall season and three Lone Star Conference match wins would exceed the expectations of any coach beginning a new program.

In fact the history proves it. If you exclude the original five teams that made up the conference in 1996 (West Texas A&M, Midwestern State, Angelo State, Texas A&M-Commerce, and Northeastern Oklahoma State), there have been eight schools, including ACU, to begin soccer.

Of those eight teams, only Central Oklahoma – whose first season was in 1998 – had a better overall record and a better conference mark than the Wildcats’ first campaign in 2007. The Bronchos went 11-9-0 overall in 1998 with a 4-4 record in the LSC.

Once you get past UCO and ACU on that list, the results aren’t very good, especially at the conference level. Eastern New Mexico’s first year was in 2003; the Zias went just 2-7 in the league. Harding’s first year was in 1998: the Lady Bisons were 1-7. Ouachita Baptist joined in 1999 and the Lady Tigers went 1-8. Even still, Texas Woman’s (’02), Southwestern Oklahoma State (’98), and East Central Oklahoma State (’97) all went winless in LSC play in their respective opening seasons.

However, the average fan, coach, or spectator’s view of ACU’s first attempt at women’s soccer varies from Wilson and Pertuit’s views. They both told me yesterday, that though many thought that the team was doing extremely well for a first-year program, they both felt they were better than some teams that were able to take victories from them.

In 2008, the two men and their revamped squad will get a chance to prove that the Wildcats are better than some of the teams in the LSC from a year ago. Naturally, when the 2007 LSC Preseason Soccer poll was announced, ACU was voted to finish dead last in the 11-team conference.

This year, after a tie for eighth place in the LSC last season, the Wildcats were voted to finish seventh. If the poll were a crystal ball, it would leave ACU out of the LSC postseason tournament.

And even though Wilson and Pertuit aren’t able to see how the other 10 teams in the conference stack up through each respective institution’s recruiting efforts and off-season programs, they’re confident that their core of returnees and new recruits (particularly on the defensive side) should help them leapfrog a few spots to be in the mix for a conference tournament berth and a shot at gaining a title in just the Wildcats’ second season.

The official preview will come tomorrow, however, below is a quick run down of the upcoming year.


Obviously when any team has players back who made an all-conference team the year before, the expectations are a little higher for those individuals. Thus is the case for Courtney Wilson (so, F), Jordan Reese (jr, MF) and Lyndsey Womack (so, MF).

Wilson was a second-team all-LSC selection and had six goals and six assists in 2007. Reese had eight goals and five assists to earn honorable mention honors while Womack joined Reese as an HM selection and led the team with 10 goals and four assists.

Bree Craig (so, MF), Alyson Thomas (jr, D), Jackie Gentile (sr, MF), Sadie Barton (so, MF), Katie Miller (so, MF), and Ashley Simon (so, D) all return after starting most of ACU’s 20 matches last season.


The coaching staff admitted that the backfield and goalkeeper positions may have been a little weaker and didn’t have as much depth last season as the midfielders and forwards had in 2007. In order to fix that, ACU brought in two goalies and four defenders to revamp the backfield and also brought in three forwards and one midfielder to add depth from the center up.

Crissy Lawson and Anastasia Nelson join ACU’s squad after playing on one of the top junior college soccer teams in the nation last year. Lawson allowed only 13 goals in 25 matches last season while Nelson was both a first-team all-conference selection and an all-region pick.

Veronica Wilhelm will also help the defense and is another California girl from Upland, Calif. Micah Merrill-Johnson will be a one-year player for ACU after transferring from Montana-State Billings where she played for three seasons, adding valuable experience.

Other newcomers included Kaleigh Johnson (jr, D, Quartz Hill, Calif.), Rachel Patchen (fr, MF, Arlington), Kendall Cooper (so, MF, Bedford), Alyse Ritchie (fr, MF, Belton), Tina Griego (fr, F, Pflugerville), and Suzanna Cauthen (fr, F, Tyler).


Like the volleyball team, the Wildcats’ soccer team will open the season with a pretty hefty road schedule before coming home for a match. Aug. 29-30, ACU will be in Missouri where it will face Missouri Southern Friday and Drury Saturday. Then, Sept. 3, the team will face UTPB in Odessa followed by Incarnate Word Sept. 5. Wilson said that he expects that three of those four teams will be nationally ranked when the season starts.

After two matches in Cedar Hill Sept. 12-13 (John Brown University and Our Lady of the Lake), the Wildcats will play host to NCAA III power and in-town rival Hardin-Simmons Sept. 16.

Football media guide now online

The 2008 ACU football media guide is now online in four .pdf pieces. It can be viewed at this site:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Day of 2-A-Days a Success

ACU head football coach Chris Thomsen said late Wednesday night the first day of two-a-days for his squad was a rousing success. The Wildcats, he said, were fresh and playing at a quick pace, despite the heat and humidity in Abilene on Wednesday.

"I was really pleased with both workouts, especially the afternoon practice," Thomsen said. "The guys on both sides of the ball were really sharp, despite the heat. The offensive line really gelled together for the first time and had a good performance."

Most Wildcat fans, however, are more concerned with a defense that gave up an average of 42 points per game over the last six weeks of the 2007 season than an offense that was one of the top units in all of college football. On the defensive front, Thomsen said, the Wildcats have been strong this summer.

"Our defensive guys are really flying around and doing good things every day," Thomsen said. "We've got some older guys who have really stepped up and are rising to the challenge of what we've asked them to do this year. (Safety) Tony Harp had a tremendous winter and summer and he looks very sharp. He's the unquestioned leader of the secondary and one of the guys we'll look to for leadership on that side of the ball.

"(Inside linebacker) Mike Kern has been really sharp so far, and I've like what I've seen out of him," he said. "(Redshirt freshmen) Nick Jones and Aston Whiteside bring a different tempo, athleticism and attitude than what we've had in the past."

The biggest change for the Wildcats on defense is a scheme change from a 4-3 base to a 3-4. That required moving last year's defensive ends, freshmen Bryson Lewis and Fred Thompson, to outside linebacker where they, along with Tulsa transfer Eliot Allen, have been impressive through the first week of summer practice.

"Bryson and Fred are doing a nice job with the transition," Thomsen said. "Then you throw Eliot in there and we've got some good athletes at the outside linebacker position. The things we'll ask them to do at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme are similar to what a defensive end in a 4-3 would be doing. They'll just have more coverage responsibility in the passing game."

With Lewis and Thompson moving to linebacker, the Wildcats are counting on several transfers to make an immediate impact on the defensive line. In a 3-4, the defense needs space-eaters in the middle, and the Wildcats have a pair in Thomas Locust (320 pounds) and Brian Haywood (310 pounds), who, along with Rutgers transfer Vantrise Studivant at defensive end, have a chance to make a big impact on the defense.

"I feel good about where we are defensively," Thomsen said. "This is a more athletic group all over the board than what we had last year. If we can get a couple of those defensive linemen to come and continue to get good play from our linebakcers and secondary, I believe we're going to have a good bunch."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

ACU ranked No. 8 in nation

The ACU Wildcats will start the 2008 football season ranked No. 8 in the nation, according to the American Football Coaches' Association NCAA Division II pre-season poll, which was released Tuesday morning.

For more information on the poll, click here.

What Happens Next?

The last thing ACU head coach Chris Thomsen and his three offensive standouts (quarterback Billy Malone, running back Bernard Scott and wide receiver Johnny Knox) want to talk about is anything that doesn't have something to do with them getting ready for the season-opener against Northwest Missouri State on Aug. 30.

But for the fans of Wildcat football, the question since last year is if those three players will get a chance to perform on Sundays at the next level. The short answer is yes ... the longer answer is a little bit more complicated.

All three have already been extensively scouted by several NFL teams, and they'll likely each play several games (both home and away) in front of more scouts this fall. Josh Buchanan, who does small-college player rankings for and several other Web sites, has Scott and Knox projected as second-day draft picks with Malone a priority free agent entering the 2008 season.

His projections are based on scouting reports and what NFL scouts are telling him about the players they've seen throughout playing careers and last spring's work. Buchanan's latest work tells him that entering the season, NFL scouts see Scott as a mid-round pick with Knox a 6th or 7th round pick with Malone a priority free agent. Senior guard Joseph Thompson -- who checked in Sunday at 6-3, 315 pounds -- is alos listed as a free agent.

Buchanan's latest small-college rankings should be on sometime later this week or next week.

Now, obviously, those are just projections, so don't take them for the gospel truth. Still, if the Wildcats can get four players into NFL camps next summer, it would be the program's largest single-season haul ever.

Monday, August 11, 2008

This and that ...

Notes and quotes from ACU and the rest of the Lone Star Conference on a late Sunday evening (or early, early Monday morning, whichever you prefer):

• The football team worked out for almost two hours Sunday in brutally hot conditions. The temperature was around 103 with 70 percent humidity. Head coach Chris Thomsen stressed to his team in his post-practice how impressed he was with their work in what he later said was the "hottest practice" in his four years as the Wildcats' head coach. He also made sure to remind them that early in the season they'll face days when the temperature will soar into the 90s with high humidity. One of those games he stressed was the Aug. 30 season-opener at Northwest Missouri State. Although I'm sure the Maryville Chamber of Commerce will have the city nice and toasty for our arrival in late August, Sunday was pretty mild (high 80s) with a humidity index of around 75 percent.

• The Wildcats' two new offensive tackles seem to be gelling with the rest of the unit pretty quickly. Trevis Turner and Tony Washington are two of the key factors for the Wildcats on offense this season, and Thomsen has been impressed with both so far. In fact, he said Washington might be one of the most physically gifted linemen he's had the opportunity to coach.

• Bernard Scott is the unquestioned starting running back on this team, but don't think the Wildcats' ball-carrying skill ends there. Senior running back Taber Minner – who two years ago was a first team all-LSC South Division performer with a 150-yard playoff game to his credit – has been impressive early in the summer drills. He appears to have lost about 10-15 pounds from last year and has those quick feet back. And don't forget Chancy Campbell, who was a second team all-LSC South pick two years ago. He's back after redshirting last year and has also run the ball well. The Wildcats will have no shortage of ball carriers in 2008.

• The Wildcats will practice Monday and Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. for two hours each day before their first two-a-day workout on Wednesday (8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. practices). They'll practice just once Thursday and the scrimmage Friday morning before departing for Dallas and the Promise Keepers rally. They'll be back to a 4 p.m. practice next Sunday before three days of two-a-days the next week lead them up to the first day of school (Aug. 25).

• For those of you looking for the ACU media guide on the ACU athletics Web site, your wait is almost over. The 148-page book goes to the printer Monday, which means we should have .pdf's of the guide on the Web by Tuesday morning. Volleyball and women's soccer media guides should go to the printer by Friday, which means those should be available on the Web site by the first part of next week.

• ACU head volleyball coach Kellen Mock welcomed her full squad back to campus on Sunday with the team's first workout scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday. The Wildcats (click here to read '08 season preview) were 15-14 overall last year, but Mock believes that with nine returning players – including all-region players in Shawna Hines and E.J. Moronu, as well as three other all-LSC players – the Wildcats should again challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid.

• Also reporting Sunday was the women's soccer team, which gets started with practice Monday morning. The Wildcats' first game will be Aug. 29 in Missouri against Missouri Southern State College. Head coach Casey Wilson needed to go out and get some quicker, more physical defenders, and he believes he's done it. ACU was picked to finish seventh in the LSC pre-season poll, but don't be surprised if they're not in the top four this year with a chance at an NCAA Tournament berth.

• In case you missed it, quarterback Justin Pitrucha has been dismissed for good from the Southeastern Oklahoma State athletics program. Pitrucha missed the 2007 season, allegedly for academic reasons. He then missed most of spring training after he was arrested and charged with a felony: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 2,000 feet of a school. Pitrucha could have been sentenced between four years and life in prison.

However, late last week a woman, who says she was at the apartment when Pitrucha was arrested, admitted to bringing large amounts of the marijuana. That, combined with the fact that Pitrucha had allegedly just arrived at the apartment when he was arrested, convinced the prosecution in the case to accept a lesser misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana. Pitrucha received an 11-month suspended sentence, meaning the 21-year-old won't be serving any prison time.

But he also won't be back on the football field this year, at least not for the Savage Storm. The Southeastern athletics department released the following statement on Saturday:

"After reviewing the situation concerning Justin Pitrucha, we have determined that he will not be a member of the football program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University this year.

"This was a very difficult decision and one that was not taken lightly. We certainly wish Justin the best and are confident that he will be successful in his future endeavors.

"At Southeastern, we hold our student-athletes to very high standards and expectations. The bottom line is that we have acted in what we believe to be the best interests of our student-athletes, our program and our university."

Southeastern head coach Ray Richards will now have to choose between a fifth-year senior and several true freshmen as the starter for the Savage Storm in 2008. The Wildcats will be in Durant, Okla., on Sept. 20, to take on the Savage Storm in a game set for a 6 p.m. kickoff. ACU has outscored Southeastern 92-17 in the last two seasons (51-14 in 2006 and 41-3 in 2007).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dello picked to win gold medal

Former ACU national champion hurdler Delloreen Ennis-London is competing for Jamaica this year in the Olympics in Beijing, and she's one of the favorites to win a medal in the 100-meter hurdles.

Dello, in fact, has been picked to win the gold medal by USA Today, while Track and Field News picked her to win the silver medal. Dello is competing in the Olympics for the third time in her career, joining former decathlete / pole vaulter Tim Bright as the only Wildcats to compete in three Olympic Games.

Dello was fourth in the 100 hurdles at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, and was eliminated in the semifinals of the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.

Read more about Dello and the other three Wildcats in the Games right now at

Paying It Forward

You read in an earlier post on this blog about ACU head football coach Chris Thomsen and his staff taking the Wildcats to next week's Promise Keepers event in Dallas, and they are to be commended for doing so just two weeks before the start of the 2008 season.

One of the men who will be making the trip with the Wildcats is assistant coach Desmond Gant, who coaches ACU defensive backs.  Desmond is a former Wildcat player who turned his life over to Jesus Christ after he was dismissed from ACU in 1997.  He returned as a different man in 2000 to finish his playing career, and then joined the coaching staff in 2005 when Thomsen became the head coach.

Desmond's story was part of the annual President's Circle film that is put together every year by one of my co-workers, Ron Hadfield.  Part of last year's film included a piece called "Paying it Forward," and it detailed Gant's life with ACU and ACU football.  It's an excellent piece and would be worth seven or eight minutes of your day.  

The filming and video production were done by ex-ACU placekicker Martin Perry, who is the production manger at Phillips Productions in the Metroplex.  It's got some excellent game footage of the Wildcats' 56-12 playoff win over Mesa State last November, as well as some great interviews with Desmond, Thomsen, Joseph Thompson, Cole Kiser and former basketball coach Willard Tate.

Friday, August 8, 2008

First Day Under Their Belt

First-day practice photo gallery

The ACU Wildcats wrapped up their first day of practice Friday at about 6 p.m. after a two-hour workout in 98-degree heat.  Twenty-three more practices before the Wildcats open their 2008 season with the highly anticipated matchup against Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo.

Friday's heat and humidity in Abilene should be good preparation for what will await the Wildcats in America's Heartland on Aug. 30.  Overall the Wildcats handled it well, despite a couple of guys hitting the ground with cramps.  ACU head coach Chris Thomsen, though, was pleased with the first workout of the summer.

"Our guys showed up in really good shape," he said.  "You can tell they worked hard this summer to get themselves ready to have a great season.  They were very business-like in their approach today, and I thought we had a really good first day."

After back-to-back NCAA Division II playoff appearances, the Wildcats have become accustomed to putting together solid practices.

"We've got great leadership, and they're going to make sure we come out focused and ready to go every day," Thomsen said.  "We've got really good guys – guys at key positions – setting that tone for us and leading the way."

Senior quarterback Billy Malone was on target all day, and Bernard Scott, Johnny Knox and Jonathan Ferguson looked sharp running with and catching the ball.  New offensive tackles Tony Washington (6-7, 310) and Trevis Turner (6-8, 340) looked, well, huge.  The biggest key for the offense is how quickly those two players and new left guard Royland Tubbs mesh with returning starters Sam Collins (center) and Joseph Thompson (right guard).  

ACU has led the nation in fewest sacks allowed in each of the last two years (12 in 2006 and eight in 2007), and those five players up front – Collins, Thompson, Nathan Young, Matt Raesner and Cody Savage – were a huge part of why the Wildcats had the offensive success they enjoyed in 2007.  Watch this new group early in the season and you'll have a pretty good idea of how the offense will fare in 2008.

Defensively the Wildcats looked quicker in the secondary and more physical in the front seven.  Thomsen said the Wildcats have better athletes across the board and have more depth on the defense than at any time in his four years as head coach.  

Only 22 days left until the season opener ...

Former Wildcat leading at PGA

Former ACU all-America golfer Jeev Singh carries the lead into Friday's second round of the 90th PGA championship at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich.

Singh – who won the 1993 NCAA Division II individual medalist title while leading the Wildcats to the team title – fired a 2-under-par 68 in Thursday's opening round and is set to tee off at noon (central time) Friday.  Singh and Robert Karlsson finished Thursday's opening round one stroke ahead of a quartet of golfers that included Sergio Garcia.

ACU graduate Grant Boone is calling the action on the live streaming feed on

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Football team reports for practice

More than 115 players reported on Thursday for the start of football practice as the Wildcats get themselves ready for the 2008 season.

The Wildcats' will go through a conditioning run at 10 a.m. followed by the team's first practice at 4 p.m. They'll start two-a-days Monday morning.

You can read a full report on reporting day at

The countdown to the highly anticipated season-opener at Northwest Missouri State is just 23 days away.

Volleyball team pursuing a decade of excellence in 2008

The Abilene Christian football team has a lot of great things around the bend this year with much to look forward to and many high expectations. However, the other fall sports programs are looking to make impressions of its own in 2008. The men’s cross country team will be looking to repeat as national champs while the women’s program is looking to improve on its eighth place finish.

The women’s soccer program is still in its infancy but was able to post three conference wins in the Wildcats’ inaugural season in 2007. In 2008, head coach Casey Wilson, his solid core of returnees and key new additions will look to make even more of an impression on the Lone Star Conference in ACU’s second season as a program.

This entry will feature thoughts on the Wildcat volleyball program as they gun for its 10th-straight winning season in 2008. Dating back to former head coach Brek Horn’s start in 1999, ACU has posted the longest consecutive streak of winning seasons at nine (previous long streak, seven from 1987-93).

However, first, I thought fans would enjoy this link to an article written by Steve Chavis, who contributes to the Promise Keepers Web Site. He wrote an article recently featuring ACU head football coach Chris Thomsen and the ACU football program. It’s always nice to have positive press like this especially when sports fans are often used to seeing stories in college about athletes in trouble with the law.

On to volleyball, I had a chance to sit down with head coach Kellen Mock yesterday to talk about the upcoming season. Look for a season preview on (ACU’s official athletics web site) Friday, but this article will cover a little more in depth the background of the team’s quest for a decade of winning seasons.

History & Background:

Horn immediately came in and made a swift impact on the volleyball program. Though the Wildcats were never in the volleyball cellar by any means. In the first 27 years of the program from 1971-1998, the Wildcats posted a 437-399-4 record (.520 winning percentage) under five different head coaches.

Enter Horn and Mock the past nine seasons, however, and a dramatic shift for the better has taken place. In Horn’s first season, she took a team that posted a 1-11 record in the Lone Star Conference in 1998, and tallied a 23-12 overall record and posted a 7-5 conference mark. Since then, the Wildcats have been no stranger to success. Horn delivered ACU’s only two conference titles in history in 2004 and 2005 (Mock was a player on the 2004 squad).

In fact, since the ’99 season, ACU ranks third among LSC teams in overall win percentage (206-94, .687) and fourth in conference win percentage with a .696 mark and a 64-28 record (Note that from 1999-2006 records only reflected in-division games [North & South] before 2007 when all teams combined for one division).
West Texas A&M ranks first on the conference win percentage list since ’99 with a .898 mark and an impressive 88-10 record against LSC opponents. However, four of the Lady Buffs losses came to ACU when the Wildcats won four-straight matches over WTAMU in 2004-05.

Central Oklahoma and Cameron finish above ACU in the conference win percentage category, however, the Wildcats have gotten the better of both series when facing either team since 1999. ACU carries an 8-5 record over Cameron and a 7-2 mark over UCO the past nine years.

Brief 2007 Recap:

ACU narrowly gained its ninth-consecutive winning season last year with a 15-14 record. This was partly due to the tough schedule that Mock purposefully sought after. The Wildcats played five teams that were ranked nationally in the top 25 to begin the season.

However, when conference play rolled around, the Wildcats were back to old form and went 8-4 to finish fourth in the conference. The team won its first-round game in the LSC postseason tournament before falling to WTAMU for the third time in 2007. The Lady Buffs went on to the national semi-finals after winning the NCAA II Southwest Region Championship.

Who’s Gone?

After the 2005 season, ACU had to replace three all-Americans (Amanda ‘Slate’ Farrell, Lindsey ‘Martin’ Campbell, Michelle Bernhardt), which by most regards is virtually impossible.

Though the losses aren’t as great after the 2007 season, Mock and crew will have trouble replacing all-American Abbie Lowry and defensive specialist Liz Snoddy.

Lowry was an a four-time all-LSC honoree (MVP in 2006) and a 2006 all-American; she finished her career with 1,513 kills good for fifth on ACU’s all-time chart. Snoddy, a two-time all-LSC honoree finished second on ACU’s all-time list for digs with 1,573 narrowly missing the all-time lead by six digs.

Who’s Back?

Nine letter winners. One medical red shirt that has a chance to make an impact. Two all-region honorees. Four all-conference honorees.

It’s a good carry over for any team to have nine players back with match experience. Obviously, ACU will lean on its two all-region sophomores in Shawna Hines (led LSC in blocks per game) and Ijeoma Moronu (third in LSC in assists), it’s lone senior and fourth-year player Lauren Leone (eighth all-time on ACU’s career block list) and versatile junior Erin Curry.

However, Amy Wilson is back and played her way on to the court last year as a defensive specialist even with Snoddy’s talent. Krystine Cethoute and Michelle Bacon return to provide valuable depth at middle blocker. Jordan Schilling moved from middle blocker to outside hitter in the spring and Ericka Dickinson will provide back up to Moronu at setter.

Who’s New?

Technically she’s not new, but after suffering an injury, local standout Britni Golden will look for her first opportunity as an outside hitter in 2008 as a redshirt freshman. Golden had a standout career at Abilene High School and graduated in 2007 after a successful senior season in 2006.

The four incoming freshman are Kelsie Edwards (5-4, Libero, Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Aubree Vick (5-9, OH, Georgetown HS), Keisha Collier (6-0, OH, Abilene Cooper HS) and Jennie Hutt (5-9, OH, Papillion, Neb.).

Hutt seems to be the most decorated of the incoming freshmen. She was a two-time all-state selection in Nebraska, helped her team to a 37-6 record as a senior, and posted over 400 kills and digs in her final season with the team.

Collier will be a two-sport athlete in the 2008-09 school year for ACU as she will play volleyball and participate in track. Mock said that Collier has scary athletic ability.

Mock said that Vick gives ACU an option to play at either outside hitter or a defensive specialist proving her versatility. Mock said that Vick is one of those players that is consistent in every aspect of the game.

Edwards joins Hutt & Hines as the only other non-Texas player on the roster. The Colorado native is a defensive specialist and Mock said that she is a tremendous back-row player who reads hitters well.

Other Notes:

In pursuit of that 10th consecutive winning season, Mock has decided to add more regular season matches in 2008. In 2007, ACU played just 27 matches before the LSC Tournament and this year, she’s added four matches to the schedule to get some of her younger players more match experience.

To accompany that, Mock said that in 2007, she felt that the team may have been surprised by the speed of the college game early in the season (ACU began 0-4) and that in the spring and the preseason, one of the team’s strongest priorities will be to improve the transition game and constantly have the team at game speed.

Note that ACU’s first 11 matches will be on the road. The Wildcats will play a four-match tournament in Canyon (they’ll not be facing WT, the hosts), a four-match tournament in Durango, Colo., and a three-match tourney in San Antonio before they play host to Texas-Permian Basin Sept. 16.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Well, it's over ...

... our long national nightmare, that is.  The Brett Favre Saga has reportedly come to an end within the last half hour as he has been traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets.

The only people happy that this thing has been going on and on and on and on and on for the last few weeks are the ones at ESPN.   They haven't had to think about programming SportsCenter for the last two or three weeks.  Just throw some Favre news on there and go with it.

Reminds me of the old line about CBS Sports' coverage of the NFL when the network had the NFC:  "When in doubt, give 'em the Cowboys."  

Now, thankfully, we can start to move off the Favre story somewhat -- although we'll now to have a whole week of stories about how his first few days of "Favre-with-the-Jets" stories -- and move on to the beginning of college football, great pennant races, etc.

Oh, and someone mentioned to me before this whole Favre thing begin to get play on even cable news channels that we had a Presidential election coming up in three months, two wars going on in the Middle East and gas was at $4 a gallon.  Crazy talk.