Friday, October 28, 2011


Today's edition of Retro Friday (in honor of Halloween being on Monday) features the band Book of Love, and the song Witchcraft.

The band Book of Love formed in 1984, and was a popular synth pop and dance music band, alongside Sire Records labelmates Depeche Mode and Erasure. Led by vocalist Susan Ottaviano, the band also included Ted Ottaviano (no relation to Susan), Lauren Roselli and Jade Lee.

The band was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and later based out of New York City. The band gained its first exposure as the opening act on Depeche Mode's Black Celebration tour.

Book of Love's biggest success came on the US dance charts. Seven of their singles placed in the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart between 1985 and 1993. The group's largest exposure on pop radio was with the song "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls." The song, which appeared on the Lullaby album, was originally the second half of a medley with the group's house-music version of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells," a 1973 instrumental that served as the eerie theme music of the classic horror film The Exorcist. Edited down to single length, "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls" became Book of Love's only Hot 100 entry, peaking at number 90 in 1988.

I completely adore all of the songs on the album Lullaby, but one of my favorite ones is this fun little ditty, Witchcraft, which I thought was perfect for today, the Friday before Halloween. My college friends and I had a lot of fun with this silly little song! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! (Video below lyrics!)


I've tried and tried
to capture you
what more can one
mere mortal do?

My love potion
boils and bubbles
poison darts
red poison apples
kafe' kasita
non kafela
Gutrune takes Siegfried
from Brunhilde
enula compana
on St. James' eve
a dash of orange
and ambergis
Miss Mary Mack
Mack Mack
all dressed in black

My love philtre
will entrance you
it will pomp and
circumstance you
anusin, atelin
Angelique takes Barnabas
from Josette
with spiders ten
frae lockens blue
eye of newt
will stew and brew
this magic spell
Miss Lucy's in heaven
and the steamboat's in hell

Enchantra Endora Tabitha
Esmerelda Clara Hagatha

My love potion
boils and bubbles
poof! goes all my
toil and troubles
blueberry wine
and gladiola
Circe takes Glaucus
away from Sylla
coriander, vervain
and ginger root
damiana, henbane
and badger's foot
with magic black
and silver buttons
all down her back

Enchantra Endora Tabitha
Esmerelda Clara Hagatha


Four Letter Words

I’m not a big fan of four letter words. That’s not to say that I don’t occasionally use them, because, alas, I do. But I’m still not a big fan of them.

One four letter word as of late is especially offensive to me … QUIT.

So this is a story about a young man who got his feelings hurt. You see, he made a recruiting trip to Notre Dame with his fellow High School comrade Jimmy Clausen, and felt virtually ignored by then-head coach Charlie Weis & company, and can’t seem to let it go. So this past Saturday, after USC beat Notre Dame … after being GIFTED 14 points on two Notre Dame turnovers in the red zone … several of their players decide to tell the media that Notre Dame quit.

“At the end there, when they didn’t call those timeouts, they just quit,” USC linebacker Chris Galippo said. “And that’s what Notre Dame football’s about. They’re not anything like USC.’


I may not be overly happy with the performance of the Notre Dame football team this year, but QUIT is not the word that I would use.

So let me get this straight, because we did not call any timeouts in the last 6:43 minutes of the game, suddenly we’re quitters, and THAT is why we lost? Oh no (dripping with sarcasm), how could we not use our timeouts?! That HAS to be why we lost.

Never mind the fact that, hello, we GIFTED USC 14 points. Or that USC came out running up the middle all over us. Or that we just plain seem to be unconditioned compared to the likes of Michigan and USC. But we’re quitters because we did not use our timeouts.

Come on boys … open up the dictionary and find a bigger word than that.

I personally think that this Notre Dame team is WAY more talented than their record shows. They just need to learn to stop beating themselves, and learn to rotate players better (this is for you coaching staff) so that our guys don’t seem so gassed in the 4th quarter. Just think … if Kelly would have given Gary Gray a break in the 4th Quarter of the Michigan game and put in Lo Wood’s fresh legs … maybe we would not have missed that pivotal tackle and would have BEAT Michigan.

Okay, I digress, back to the word quit. So after all of this quitting nonsense is sputtered out by Mr. Galippo, Mr. Mark Tyler, and Mr. Curtis McNeal … Lane Kiffin has to come in and do some back peddling.

“Apologies were flying across social networks and the phone lines Monday as USC linebacker Chris Galippo and Coach Lane Kiffin tried to ease any hurt feelings over comments made after the Trojans’ 31-17 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday.” (Los Angeles Times)

“If I offended anyone with my post game comments Saturday, I do apologize,” Galippo tweeted. “I have great respect for their players and their program. It was a great game by both sides. Time to focus on Stanford.”

“On behalf of our football program, I apologize for Chris Galippo’s statements after the game. I’ve addressed this with Chris and he is remorseful,” Kiffen said in a statement. “I also called Coach (Brian) Kelly to personally apologize. As I said to the media immediately after the game, I thought Notre Dame played extremely hard throughout the game. It was another classic rivalry game and we feel fortunate to have won.”

Okay, now that I’ve gotten THAT off my chest, let’s look ahead to Navy.

Last year we played Navy on the road and got our behind handed to us. After a 35-17 route over the Irish last year, Navy heads to South Bend and Notre Dame is ready to show the world that we will not be beaten again in our house this season. In order to do that, though, our defense is going to have to make a bigger showing this weekend than our offense. With the loss of Kapron Lewis-Moore last weekend, the trio of freshman: Stephon Tuitt, Chase Hounshell and Aaron Lynch will need to step up and handle the Navy run game. We will see on Saturday whether or not the Irish have the mental fortitude to shake off a loss like the one last weekend against USC, and focus on the task at hand.

Okay boys ... LET'S GO IRISH!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Walk On The Ocean

Today's edition of Retro Friday features Toad the Wet Sprocket and the song "Walk on the Ocean."

I can't believe I've been doing Retro Friday this long and have not gotten to a Toad the Wet Sprocket song yet!!

Toad was one of my absolute favorite bands in college, probably in part because they were from the Santa Barbara area, and one of my best friends was attending UC Santa Barbara and turned me on to them.

Toad the Wet Sprocket is an American alternative rock band that formed in 1986. Toad the Wet Sprocket took its name from a Monty Python comedy sketch called "Rock Notes" (performed by Eric Idle on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album), in which a journalist delivers a nonsensical music news report:

Rex Stardust, lead electric triangle with Toad the Wet Sprocket, has had to have an elbow removed following their recent successful worldwide tour of Finland. Flamboyant ambidextrous Rex apparently fell off the back of a motorcycle.

As they got closer to their first gig, the band still had not chosen a name. The members adopted "Toad the Wet Sprocket" off-the-cuff because they thought it would be "hilarious". Philips later called it a "joke that went on too long", and their website claimed "it was probably meant to be temporary at the time".

The band consists of singer/guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss. The band enjoyed chart success in the 1990s with singles "Walk on the Ocean," "All I Want," "Something's Always Wrong," and "Fall Down," among others. The band separated in 1998 to pursue other projects but in 2006 began touring the United States as a band in small-venue, short-run tours each summer. In December 2010, the band announced their official reunion as a full-time working band and have started writing songs for their first new studio album since their 1997 Columbia Records release "Coil".

The music from Toad the Wet Sprocket's album "Fear" brings back some fabulous college memories for me! My parents moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis after I was already back at Notre Dame sophomore year, and I never really got a chance to say goodbye to anyone, so for spring break I headed back to Los Angeles to say goodbye to all of my friends. I spent the week at my friend A's house (seeing as I had no parental units any more in Los Angeles) and we had a fantastic week!

One of the week's events included a trip up to UCSB so that I could see where she went to school. We had so much fun walking around and hanging out at UCSB. All I can remember was walking around campus and laughing so hard that I almost peed my pants ... and eating at some totally funky Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara. And somehow, Toad the Wet Sprocket seemed to be the running soundtrack of this entire trip.

I love all of Toad the Wet Sprocket's songs, but I think my favorite one is Walk on the Ocean. Something about the band being from Santa Barbara, and the ocean/beach being so beautiful there. I remember A showing me her dorm, and literally you walked out the back door of her dorm, and crossed the street, and the beach was RIGHT there. Crazy!! How on earth does one study when the beach is right there?? Which is exactly why I went to school in South Bend, Indiana!

Okay, here are a few lyric from Walk on the Ocean, and the music video for your listening pleasure!

We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail
Where are we going, so far away
And somebody told me that this is the place
Where everything's better, everything's safe

Half and hour later we packed up our things
We said we'd send letters and all those little things
And they knew we were lying but they smiled just the same
It seemed they'd already forgotten we'd came

Now back at the homestead
Where the air makes you choke
And people don't know you
And trust is a joke
We don't even have pictures
Just memories to hold
That grow sweeter each season
As we slowly grow old

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Big East Basketball Media Day

Today was the day that I officially started my journey towards becoming the Biggest Fan of the Big East (Thank you to the Big East Conference and Volvo Cars)!

This morning at the New York Athletic Club, the Big East Conference held their annual Media Day gathering for Men's College Basketball. The coaches and players of the various teams took turns answering questions from reporters throughout the day, but one of the highlights of media day was the announcement of the preseason poll, as well as all-conference selections and player of the year announcements.

After losing three starters from last season’s 27-7 squad, the Irish received a pre-season ranking of #9, which was not much of a surprise, and Tim Abromaitis was chosen to the Preseason Big East First Team. Abromaitis averaged 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season. The 6'8" forward also is one of the conference’s best long-range shooters. He completed an impressive 42.9 percent from the 3-point territory.

Follow this link to see complete Big East Media Day interviews from both Tim Abromaitis and Coach Brey.

Connecticut and Syracuse were named co-favorites to win the 2011-12 regular-season crown in the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Huskies, who won the 2011 NCAA National Championship, received seven first-place votes and a total of 209 points.

The Orange, who finished the 2010-11 season with a record of 27-8, collected five first-place votes. It is the third tie for first place in the history of the Big East, with the last one coming in 2007-08. The league’s head coaches do not place their own teams on their ballots.

Behind Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Marquette, West Virginia and Villanova, Notre Dame was chosen ninth. The Irish recorded the second highest win total in school history last year when they finished 27-7 overall and were 14-4 in the Big East. Notre Dame will miss their three key seniors who graduated in the spring, including guard Ben Hansbrough, last year’s Big East Player of the Year; but will transfer leadership responsibilities to Tim Abromaitis who made the 2011-12 Preseason All-Big East First Team. Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, South Florida, Providence and DePaul round out the preseason conference rankings.

Here is the official list, and their corresponding number of votes:

2011-12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
T1. Connecticut (7) 209
T1. Syracuse (5) 209
3. Louisville (3) 201
4. Pittsburgh (1) 188
5. Cincinnati 169
6. Marquette 155
7. West Virginia 132
8. Villanova 127
9. Notre Dame 114
10. Georgetown 104
11. Rutgers 75
12. St. John’s 71
13. Seton Hall 56
14. USF 43
15. Providence 40
16. DePaul 27

All-Big East First Team
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh (Player of the Year), G, Sr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, G/F, So., 6-5, 185, Norcross, Ga.
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Sr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, F, Gr., 6-8, 235, Unionville, Conn.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-7, 210, Montreal, Quebec
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-8, 260, Mount Vernon, N.Y.

I had the pleasure of listening to Head Coach Mike Brey speak this morning at Big East Media Day, and here are a few of the talking points that he went over with the media today (most of which he already covered at Notre Dame Media Day last week … but more specifically he spent time elaborating on all of the changes currently occurring in the Big East Conference).

Coach Brey—

We truly feel that our place is in the Big East Conference, and that we have already earned our stripes, but where ever we land, we'll land on our feet.

(I’ve told Abromaitis) … this is your "time" ... so go do it. Don't take a day off, and make every day count.

We are very happy about starting in the #9 spot. We’ve started in the 7-8-9-10 range before, and see no problems with finishing in the top of the Big East Conference and making another NCAA run.

We are very excited about some early neutral site games this season including facing the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Indiana University in Indianapolis, and Maryland in Washington DC

Obviously out priority is to stay in the Big East Conference

I feel blessed in recruiting that kids are excited to come to Notre Dame regardless of our conference affiliation.

I love coming to the East Coast & playing at Madison Square Garden.

What an amazing 24 hours in the city that never sleeps. (I still think that someone needs to pinch me to prove that this trip actually happened!!) Thank you again to the Big East Conference and Volvo Cars for sending me to New York City for Big East Media Day! What an incredible way to begin my journey towards being named the Biggest Fan of the Big East!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hoop It Up! Part 2

Notre Dame Women's Basketball starts the 2011 season with big expectations and high hopes. After making it all the way to the National Championship Game in 2010 and losing to a powerful Texas A&M team, the Irish look to repeat last year's success and take home the championship crown themselves next year! There is a lot to be excited about in regards to this team, and I'm sure they cannot wait to hit the boards and prove that last year's success was not merely a fluke.

Quotes from Muffet McGraw, taken from the Notre Dame Athletics Web Site,

On an overview of the season...
"We're in uncharted territory this year. This is the first time we've had a very successful season, and we returned quite a few of our players. In 2001, we had a big senior class that graduated, so I'm interested to see how this team handles it. I loved the way we played and competed last season. We had a chip on our shoulders the entire season from the summer and preseason and then into practice. This year it's a different attitude. We know where we want to go, and there is a lot of intensity, but there is a big target on our backs that we have not had to handle too much in the past."

On Skylar Diggins' explosive play from the regular season to the tournament last year...
"She really did make a giant step forward in the tournament. It was amazing to see. I think it really started in the BIG EAST Tournament. She had a great year, did a lot of good things. That was the moment when she discovered what she could be as the point guard of our team. She can score, run the team, and pretty much everything she envisioned as her role coming into Notre Dame. She discovered that she was a lot more aggressive with the ball and attacked more. She played her game. She didn't worry about running the offense as much. She just reacted and played."

On using losing in the championship game as a chip on the team's shoulder...
"It definitely still hurts. I think that when we look at the last game, we decided then that we had to get ready for the next year. We've got some unfinished business is the way we're looking at it. It's a different type of chip on our shoulder. For the younger players, you come in as a freshman and make it to the final game, but they don't understand how hard that was for us to get there and what we put into the program for years before that. I think the incoming freshmen definitely don't know what it's going to be. Last year, it was a group all on the same page. We knew where we wanted to go. This year we've got the veterans at the top really pushing things, and the freshmen still wondering what the heck is going on."

On Skylar Diggins' improvement from last year to this year...
"I think the summer, with the (World University Games) Gold Medal game, she was able to play a little bit different role, where she didn't score as much. She did a lot more defensively and running the time. Leadership-wise, she has grown tremendously. It was a great experience for her, and they got to see things from other programs that made them feel better about the way we practice. I think they came back with renewed confidence and a greater incentive to play against others they played with this summer."

On the three returning All-Americans (Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel, and Devereaux Peters) losing their edge from collecting accolades...
"I'm not worried about that at all. I think they definitely still have the edge, and they're trying to get the rest of the team to get that edge. Right now, they're really intense at practice. We were intense last year too, but this year it's almost obsessive. You better get up on the same page right now, or you're going to get knocked down. They've really raised the intensity at practice. They know what they want, and they know what we're capable of."

On the impact Devereaux Peters can have this season...
"Devereaux has to be the most improved player in the country from freshman year to now. She has come light years since her injury, which obviously set her back. This is the first full year she has been healthy and what a difference it has made. She's the difference on our team. She's the player every team has to have. Most teams have more than one of her, so we're fortunate she can block shots, play defense, run the floor, and do so many things. She is just an incredible athlete and a potential WNBA draft pick. She is someone who is huge part of helping us making a giant leap to where we are today."

On Kayla McBride's potential...
"Kayla McBride could the most improved player in the BIG EAST this year. She had a tremendous start to her freshman year and is really playing tremendous basketball. It's going to be hard to keep her out of the starting lineup. She's one of the best players at practice. She's got great intensity. She's been scoring the ball incredibly well in so many ways. She could play point for us or really any position besides center. We're really looking to use her versatility in a lot of different ways, so we're expecting very big things from her."

On the goal of the team this year...
"I think you look at what we have, and obviously we want to compete for a national championship. That's got to be our goal. We're not going to win the national championship today. I think it's important for us to communicate to the team that each game is important, and that we need to take it one step at a time. We hope to be better in March. Looking at the way we're practicing right now, we need to be better in March."

On focusing on having fun during the season...
"I just really want to make sure the team enjoys the season. I think it was magical for us during our run last year because we enjoyed everything. I want to have that joy and keep that passion alive in them for us. When it gets to be pressure that we have to win, you can't play as well because you're not relaxed. For us, we've got to have that fun and joy of the game. I'm not sure if it's possible for me, but I think it's really important. You want to get into the season and celebrate the victories instead of being relieved that we won and did our job. I can help with that because I am a perfectionist, and I like to play well, so maybe I won't go into the locker room after games and let them celebrate on our own. That is going to be our challenge as coaches because we know we can be better and we have to balance that with having fun."

On controlling Skylar Diggins' rock star status and media frenzy...
"It's out of control. (laughter) It is something that we're always aware of. We try to talk with her about that. So far it has not been a problem. She handled it well last year, but it was late in the season. It can really be a drain on a person of that age because they're so young. She's probably going to be the face of women's basketball on ESPN. You're going to see her everywhere, and everyone is going to want a piece of her. She's constantly being called for interviews and appearances, so we're trying to keep that to a bare minimum by making her available once a week and not doing too many things outside of basketball. She is a great student, so we really want her to focus on basketball and academics before the other things. We don't have any particular strategy right now in terms of limiting her Facebook and Twitter, but if it gets to be a problem we'll definitely step in. We like to let them handle it and be adults. As long as you're handling it, I'm fine with it."

On the BIG EAST realignment talk and shifting the focus to basketball...
"At this time of the year, you just want to be in the gym with you team and that is all we want to focus on. We have BIG EAST Media Day next week, so we'll see where we're picked to finish, but that is probably the last time we'll talk about the league and where we are. It's definitely always in the back of your mind about what is going to happen, but right now we know we have a great conference and a great schedule."

On dealing with a target on their backs and being named a preseason No. 1...
"I've accepted it, but I don't read anything, so I don't know where everyone has us ranked. I'm sure that'll be announced at some point where we are in the USA Today poll, but I don't put a lot of stock in it. If I had to rank our team right now, I don't think I'd put us in the top 25. We've got a long way to go, and I think (the players) know that. We're trying to keep what the media prints far away from me."

Player quotes, via the Notre Dame Athletics Web Site.

Skylar Diggins • Junior • Guard

On how the team deals with outside factors...
"We can't focus on the outside stuff. The peripheral stuff has to be nipped in the bud when we go on the court. We have to focus on each other. I think the reason why we were so good last year was because not only our bonds on the court, but off the court strengthened our on-court bond. This team knows each other well. I feel like we know each other inside and out so that definitely is going to show on the court."

On Twitter and social media...
"I'm just trying to remain myself. I didn't get a Twitter (account) for notoriety. I got it to keep in touch with friends and now that I have more fans, I feel like it serves as a direct connection between my fans and I. You know, I am not able to talk to everyone, but I can choose who I can respond to."

Kayla McBride • Sophomore • Guard

On returning after a tough first year to help the team this season...
"I have a huge support system. I have my coaches, I have my family, I have all of these people around me; Notre Dame in general. That was a good background I had. I could lean on them whenever things like that did happen. It was a life lesson for me. What I took away from it was just personal things, like personal growth. It's really the only way to look at it."

Devereaux Peters • Fifth-Year Senior • Forward

On her leadership role this season...
"Well I feel as though I can finally have a say in things now that I've actually played an entire season, so I've been more vocal. (Coach McGraw) talked to me about talking a bit more this season since I have a bit more experience than any of the other post players, so I've tried to make that a role of mine."

On the expectations for the team this year...
"We like having these expectations. I think we showed at the end of the year last year that we can handle expectations so we enjoy it. It is definitely better than having zero expectations."

On all of the marquee games on the schedule this year...
"Those are the games that you live for when you play college basketball. You want to play the big games on the big stage, especially coming off of the season we had last year. It is just going to be really fun playing those big games against big time teams."

Natalie Novosel • Senior • Guard

On the team going into the season with a target on its back...
"It's very exciting. There is definitely some anxiety right now because I don't think we are ready yet, but that will take care of itself in practice. We are going to work hard and iron out everything, and make sure that we are ready for the season."

On if the team has talked about the possibility of winning a championship...
"We definitely have, and we are all very motivated to make that happen. It is going to take all of us (giving) a complete team effort every day."

Brittany Mallory • Fifth-Year Senior • Guard

On the team's mentality after coming so close to winning it all last season...
"I think we definitely have a big chip on our shoulder. Obviously our main goal was to win the national championship, and we didn't achieve that goal. We were in the game, but we didn't win it. We are doing everything we can to get back to the championship game and take it home with us this year."

On how Skylar handles the spotlight...
"I can't even tell that she is a big time name in college basketball. She is such a down-to-earth person. She is such a good person and such a good team player because she is always worried about the team, and what we are doing to improve our game. To be a great point guard you have to be unselfish, and that is her."

And there have it! Let's bring on the season and HOOP IT UP!!


Hoop It Up! Part 1

In preparation for my trip to New York City on Tuesday for the Big East Conference Media Day, I thought I'd fill you in a little bit on what happened at Notre Dame's Media Day in South Bend last week.

As Notre Dame gets ready to kick off another season of Men's & Women's Basketball, they all gathered on Wednesday of last week to talk a little bit about the upcoming season! Here is an early look ahead at this years' squads, including some of the key quotes from the coaches and players about what they expect from the 2011-2012 season!

Men's Basketball

In 2010, a senior-laden Irish squad hit the hardwood with all pistons firing, eventually shocking everyone to earn a No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed and enjoying an extended winter stay among the nation's Top 10 teams. As we enter the 2011 season, things do not look so rosy. Three of the five key pieces to the winning equation from last year's season have graduated, and a series of career-threatening injuries have also entered the mix. 12th-year head coach Mike Brey now faces his biggest challenge to date: attaining another NCAA Tournament bid.

Notre Dame’s traditionally weak non-conference schedule made a move towards the impressive last season, as the Irish defeated Georgia, California, a top 10 Wisconsin team, NCAA qualifier Indiana State, and a most notable NCAA win over Gonzaga prior to the Big East season, while losing to eventual Final Four foe, Kentucky. This season’s non-conference schedule is challenging as well, with solid programs including Missouri, Maryland, Indiana, Gonzaga, and either California or Georgia on tap in November/December.

Quotes via the Notre Dame Athletic Web Site,

Head Coach Mike Brey:

On having a less experienced team this year...
"I have to keep reminding myself about patience, especially early. I think we have a lot of really good candidates because only one of them is a freshman. The other ones have been in our program, and usually when we ask those guys to step forward that have been in our program, they've been pretty successful. Never have we counted on so many of them to earn a NCAA tournament bid. I wouldn't say we're younger, I would say we're newer. But I love the fact that (Jerian) Grant, (Alex) Dragicevich, (Tom) Knight, certainly (Joey) Brooks, (Mike) Broghammer, they've all been around and felt it for the last couple years. And they've been around some good stuff. So I'm counting on that for some osmosis to help."

On how the team looks so far...
"We actually have had four one-hour sessions with the whole team. After September 15, you can use those two hours any way you want. We use 60 minutes, so I've been in with them four times. I felt better than I thought I would about how we move as a unit given how many newer guys we're working in. It made me feel like they did really watch and learn. I'm very impressed with where Alex (Dragicevich) and Jerian (Grant) have been as far as understanding how to play in our system. I think playing against and watching those veteran guys in our system last year really helped them. We're going to need them certainly. Right now, the first four games we've got eight (players). After that we've got nine. I don't know if there was ever a team where I could tell on the first day of practice, all right let's start with this fellas ... everybody's playing. I don't know if many coaches can say that. I certainly have never been in a situation like that. There's always a couple guys who are just not going to be in the mix. But all nine of those guys, we're going to need them throughout this season. There's just so many unknowns from four through nine. That could be changing throughout the year, and I would hope that it gives a group really a clear head to go and get better as a team. You can deposit the baggage of, "Am I going to play?" and "How much am I going to play?". We need all of you. We're instilling confidence in some of those younger guys. Certainly (Pat) Connaughton, but the other guys too, to get them to believe that they're really going to be able to help us."

On expectations for this season...
"I think for us, patience is a key word for me with this year's group. Last year's group was a finished product on the first day of practice. They wanted to play right away and they were ready. But to be patient-can we get a little bit better every week? Can we bounce back from taking punches? We're going to take some punches. And can we be in a position to win an NCAA tournament bid? The game plan we've used annually, this group is going to have to scratch and claw to do that in my opinion. Sometime in the summer, we'll be together as a staff, and I'll say, 'Can we fight into the top eight (of the BIG EAST)?' Because obviously our league has been getting eight bids. I feel we can. I feel we can fight our way into that territory again. And if you're into that territory, you're on the board to get an NCAA tournament bid and you take it from there. But I think our non-league schedule is very demanding. We have a lot of new faces that we're going to be figuring out. We've got to be patient and work through it. The good thing about the BIG EAST is there's always enough power in the schedule to play your way into the (NCAA) tournament. We've used that more positively than negatively. It's really helped us. I don't know about Christmas this year for the Brey family because we've got Pitt rolling in December 27. I'll tell you right now, I'm not going to be thinking about Christmas. We might have to do it on the 22nd because by the 25th, Merry Christmas, we've got Pitt coming in. Only in the BIG EAST would they do that. There's a lot of talk about maybe it's the last year of this kind of grouping with all these teams (in the BIG EAST). Maybe it will go out with a bang with some of these team's leaving."

On what he's still evaluating in terms of strengths and weaknesses...
"I think we can really share the ball and we know how to play, which has been the moniker on us. I'm trying to figure out who we will be defensively and how we will play defensively with some of these new guys. Can we extend a little more with an (Eric) Atkins and a (Jerian) Grant on the court, because that's some speed we really haven't had. Do we need to play more zone to keep (Tim) Abromaitis and (Scott) Martin on the floor for a long time? And make sure they don't get in foul trouble. That's probably where I'm going to evaluate us this first week more than anything. I think I have a pretty good feel of us offensively and who we can be. It's how do we defend, and do we change defenses? Those are the things that are my big questions going into Friday."

On using the "burn" offense...
"I think burn is always going to be part of our diet. We'll always use that when we can. I was talking to a coach this morning about it and I said, 'One thing burn has done, it's been a teaching tool on offense because we're just playing.' Certainly you can use it when you have a lead at the end of the game. Sometimes burning is a great way to rest (Tim) Abromaitis and (Scott) Martin and make sure they can finish the game because we need them on the court."

On what they need from Scott Martin...
"He's got to be very aggressive. We talked to him about that. In the four workouts we've had, he's been extremely aggressive. Hunting his shot. It's out there for him to really go out and take. And now he has to do that daily. And he has to do that every game. I think his frame of mind is to do that. I think he's been kind of maybe relishing in this spot. He's certainly talented enough and capable enough to handle a major role on both sides of the floor."

On relying heavily on the starters...
"We've had that a lot. We've had that annually where our key guys are playing a lot. I think we've learned how to pace them throughout the season in terms of how we practice and how long we practice and how much contact there is in practice. End of February, and in March last year, we were probably on the floor maybe 45 minutes (per practice). That group was going to play heavy minutes. I think we have that down. It's a little bit of a different balance, because we need some of those new faces to get reps. Yet, we've got a few of those old guys that I don't want to wear out or get nicked up too bad. I think we know how to pace through it. Now in November, a lot of games come at you quick. So sometimes your practices could be really limited in November as far as reps you're going to get on the practice court."

On Scott Martin's specific role...
"I want him to just go for it. Certainly shoot the ball. I think he spent a lot of time this summer getting reps up shooting the basketball. Because I think he can be a more confident shooter. But his mid-range stuff-we need to post him some. He may be our best low-post scorer. He probably is. So we did some stuff in these workouts where we were four (players) around Scott Martin. So I want to get him in a lot of different places because he can score the ball from a lot of different areas. The way we play offensively is very conducive for him because he knows how to get to the post eventually. He knows how to screen and step back for a three-point shot. Clearing out areas for him to drive. I want him to do a little bit of everything. He and Abro (Tim Abromaitis) certainly have the ability to do that, so we've got to help them get in positions to do things."

On what Jerian Grant is going to do for the team...
"I don't really know. That trends more toward exciting than worry. There's a lot to work with there. I think I told you the story of our practice before the Old Spice Classic, Dan Dakich is down there with the ESPN people and Dakich comes up and says who's number so and so, I said, "Don't. He's ineligible right now, don't screw me up. I want to hold him out." He had moments like that the first month of the season where he and Eric (Atkins) on the blue team gave the white shirts everything they could handle. He had the stress reaction, and like Abro (Tim Abromaitis) was, he's the youngest guy (on the team). Obviously I was really smart and redshirted him in his first year, not his second year. Really got smart on that one. But I'm excited where he could go. As I am with (Alex) Dragicevich. Both of those guys in the four workouts, I left after the first workout and I said, boy those guys have made strides. Now the great thing about them, they're looking and they're excited too. Playing time has been on the table all summer. I told them privately about Abro's situation. Those first four games, we're really going to have you guys in there. Jerian's got a lot to work with. He's come a long way in just a year, and the body's changed. He had to get stronger and older."

On how Jack Cooley and Eric Atkins' experience will help them ...
"If we played tonight, I feel that we have four guys that have been into battle. Atkins and Cooley with my two fifth-year guys (Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin), they've been there. They've really been a part of things and were a big part of last year's team. Those four guys are a pretty good place to start in college basketball. Four guys that have really been into battles and have had success in it. Atkins, I am so excited to see where he is that he's the quarterback. Eric Atkins is going to be a great leader for us, and I see that happening now that Ben (Hansbrough) and those guys have left, he is starting to become more of that. Certainly Abro and Martin are the elder statesmen here, but Eric will be like a captain by the BIG EAST regular season as far as his voice, his input. I think by February, he's going to be one of the better guards in the league. A little bit of an unknown, he didn't make the All-Rookie team. So I'm excited about him."

From a few of the players...

Player quotes also via the Notre Dame Athletics Web Site.

Tim Abromaitis • Graduate Student • Forward

On playing at the World University Games this summer ...
"It was a great experience basketball wise. Playing with and against a lot of the top players from colleges all around the world was definitely a positive thing for me. It was a fun experience to be able to be around those guys and experience China and travel like that."

On what experiences he will take from this summer and apply to this year...
"We really went hard practicing for a week or two when we were in Colorado and getting to China. The little things like that and the habits that guys on our teams have, like what they do to workout and what they do in their free time. I try to take bits and pieces from everybody's game and hopefully it makes me better."

Scott Martin • Senior • Guard

On his role this year ...
"Our big thing last year was rebounding. Rebounding as a team, rebounding as a unit. We have to do that again this year and that means Abro (Tim Abromaitis) and I have to rebound well. But, it also means everybody else has to rebound. Everyone needs to box out their man and then go get it."

Joey Brooks • Junior • Guard

On his expectations for this season ...
"I really expect for us to pick up where we left off last season. My role is to do whatever it takes for us to win. This year, it's going to be being the best defender, guarding the other team's best player, getting to the paint, making plays for my teammates and getting to the foul line."

Eric Atkins • Sophomore • Guard

On what has prepared him to step into a leadership role ...
"Last year helped me to step into this leadership role a lot. Ben (Hansbrough) especially. The work during the summer has also helped. Every expected me to lead during the workouts and during the pick-up games. Everything from last year and this summer has helped me be ready for this season."

Stay tuned for highlights of the Notre Dame Women's Basketball squad's media day!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nearly Lost You

Today's edition of Retro Friday features the band Screaming Trees, and the song "Nearly Lost You."

Screaming Trees ... now how can you not like a band with the name Screaming Trees?!

Screaming Trees was an American rock band formed in Ellensburg, Washington in 1985 by vocalist Mark Lanegan, guitarist Gary Lee Conner, bass player Van Conner and drummer Mark Pickerel. By the time the band reached it's most successful time period, Pickerel had been replaced by drummer Barrett Martin. Although widely associated with the grunge genre, the band's sound incorporated hard rock and psychedelic elements. Since the bands formation, Screaming Trees has released seven studio albums, five EPs and three compilations.

Screaming Trees is often quoted as being one of the "Godfathers of Grunge." Screaming Trees achieved popularity as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with bands such as Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden and was one of the most successful and well loved underground music acts of the 1990s. The band only achieved one top ten single on the Modern Rock Tracks charts.

I was introduced to the band Screaming Trees by the guys in the band that we followed in college. They played a cover of the Screaming Trees song, "Nearly Lost You," which subsequently became my favorite Screaming Trees song. "Nearly Lost You" was released in 1992 and the video became an MTV and alternative radio hit in the fall of that year, thanks to its inclusion in the soundtrack for the film Singles. "Nearly Lost You" peaked at #5 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and #50 in the UK Singles Chart, which made it the band's first single to chart outside the United States. The album that it appeared on, Sweet Oblivion, sold a total of 300,000 copies in the United States.

Did you hear the distant cry
Calling me back to my sin
Like the one you knew before
Calling me back once again
I nearly, I nearly lost you there
And it's taking us somewhere
I nearly lost you there
Let's try to see now
Drag me far enough to know
I'm blind every mile that you burn
There's a rider that's fallen and
It's clear there's no time to return
I nearly, I nearly lost you there
And it's taking us somewhere
I nearly lost you there
Let's try to see now
Did you hear the distant lie
Calling me back to my sin
Like the one you knew before
Calling me back once again
I nearly, I nearly lost you there
And it's taking us somewhere
I nearly lost you there
Well let's try to see now
I nearly lost you there....

And now, here's a little Screaming Trees and "Nearly Lost You" for your listening pleasure!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 7 College Football

Since Notre Dame has a bye this week before they face USC on the 22nd, at least I don't have to worry about a Notre Dame loss this week!

And here is your Week 7 College Football Preview:

Michigan vs. Michigan State. Michigan and Michigan State play for the 104th time on Saturday at East Lansing. The rivalry turns family members and neighbors against each other for nearly a week every autumn, and there are plenty of reasons for their hatred. Michigan State is a land grant university which in its early years prided itself on agriculture (and still has an excellent Veterinary program). Michigan, on the other hand, is an internationally recognized academic institution. According to Michigan folklore, Wolverine graduates practice law in Manhattan, Spartan graduates herd sheep in Fowlerville.

Okay ... back to the game! Michigan State has one of the top defensive units in the country this year, and will be ready for Denard Robinson and company. Michigan State has also won the last three meetings, and has the home field advantage on their side. But I wouldn't count Michigan out of this game. The Wolverines are 6-0, and with Robinson at the helm, he alone has been averaging 126 rushing yards per game. The Wolverines also have a wonderful senior wide receiver in Junior Hemingway, who is very skilled at catching the deep jump balls. He averages over 25 yards per catch, which ranks him No. 4 in the nation. My prediction: Watch for the Wolverines' potent run/pass attack to wear out the Michigan State defense, and avenge the last three losses in a VERY close game on Sparty's home turf!

Kansas State vs. Texas Tech. Kansas State, 5-0, looks to remain undefeated as they travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on a 4-1 Texas Tech. The Wildcats come into this game hot, after winning their first five games of the year, while The Red Raiders came close to upsetting Texas A&M at home last week.

The question of the day is, can Kansas State prove the critics wrong again with another win? The Wildcats seem to be defying the odds this year by starting out 5-0 on the season. However, here is still a lot of disbelief in the strength of the Wildcats' program amongst the oddsmakers, as they are a three point underdog this week. Kansas State will have their hands full trying to stop this high-powered Red Raiders passing attack. Being able to shut down their passing attack will eliminate any chances that Texas Tech has at scoring points. Both of these teams have quarterbacks who are absolutely on fire right now, so this game will be another test of strength battle! My prediction: Even though The Wildcats are on quite a tear right now, I still don't think they have what it takes to shut down The Red Raiders high-octane offense. Look for Texas Tech to win by at least two touchdowns.

South Carolina vs. Mississippi St. What a crazy week to be a South Carolina fan. After an awesome performance by the Gamecocks on Saturday, two big events occurred on Tuesday. One, Steve Spurrier, at his weekly presser, lights into Ron Morris of the State paper (author of such Gamecock classics as "It was just Kentucky" and "Auburn loss was because of bad coaching") due to his overtly negative and false reporting. Two, Stephen Garcia is kicked off the team for failing some form of substance test. Wow. Anyone else ready to play some football?

This week, South Carolina gets to travel to the loud environment and irritating (very irritating) cowbells of Mississippi State, a team that (like South Carolina) had huge expectations at the beginning of the season that have yet to be achieved. Heck, Mississippi State had serious problems beating UAB, 21-3. The score was tied at halftime, and UAB is simply terrible. My prediction: I don't see anything stopping South Carolina from absolutely rolling over Mississippi State.

Oklahoma St. vs. Texas. This is a no brainer. Last week, Texas had absolutely every reason to get annihilated by Oklahoma, and they did. You simply cannot expect a young team with two freshmen quarterbacks, two older outstanding running backs, and a so-so defense to handle a team like Oklahoma. This week, it gets worse! Oklahoma State is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and is without a doubt one of the most high powered offenses in the conference. Much too large of a task for Texas. Coming off a very humiliating loss to Oklahoma, it will be literally impossible to stay close, and to do it vs. a team like Oklahoma State, is too much to ask for. Texas will fight to the bitter end, but even home field advantage simply won't be enough to stop the 8 point favored Cowboys of Oklahoma State. Mack Brown is under some major heat right now and this is not a spot to find any relief. My prediction: Oklahoma State, even on the road, should win by at least two touchdowns, as their high powered offense is simply too much for a young Texas team to handle!

That's it for this week ... GO POKES!


Friday, October 7, 2011

NYC Bound!!

I found out yesterday that I have been selected to participate in "The Biggest Fan of the Big East" contest sponsored by Volvo! I am the Notre Dame representative in this contest and will get to travel to New York City in a few short weeks to cover Big East Basketball Media Day and meet my fellow contestants.

I will then be detailing my journey starting at Big East Basketball Media Day on 10/19 and continuing on until the grand finalist is announced before the Big East Tourney! Hopefully you will follow along with me and vote for me when it comes time to select the Biggest Fan of the Big East!

They will be posting contestant bios and blog posts here, or you can follow my blog directly! Hopefully you all will have as much fun with this as me!

Cheers! and GO IRISH!

Fool in the Rain

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the Led Zeppelin song, Fool in the Rain.

I most usually pull songs from the 80's and early 90's for Retro Friday, but this week I'm going a bit further back.

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band that formed in 1968 and consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With their heavy, guitar-driven blues and rock sound, Led Zeppelin are regularly cited as being one of the originators of heavy metal and hard rock, even though the band's unique style drew from many sources and truly transcends any single music genre. Led Zeppelin did not release songs from their albums as singles in the United Kingdom, as they preferred to establish the concept of album-orientated rock.

The band parted ways following Bonham's death in 1980, but continue to be held in high regard for their artistic achievements, commercial success, and broad range of influence. The band is widely touted as being one of the most successful, innovative and influential bands in the history of music. Led Zeppelin is said to have sold over 200 million albums worldwide according to some sources, while other sources state sales of more than 300 million records.

Today's featured Retro Friday Song is Fool in the Rain. A bittersweet song for some Zeppelin fans, “Fool in the Rain” was the band’s final U.S. single. It appeared on their 1980 album In Through the Out Door. The song created a strong finish for them though, going all the way to #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Surprisingly enough, the song was partially inspired by a soccer tournament. While watching the World Cup in 1978 (which was based in Argentina), Robert Plant and John Paul Jones came up with the idea for a latin-inspired song, specifically one with a samba beat. The lyrics of the song seem to tell a minor tale of woe, about a man who was stood up by a girl he was supposed to meet on a street corner, only to realize by the end that he is standing on the wrong corner, and is just ‘a fool in the rain.’

Original videos of Led Zeppelin playing their classic hits are very closely guarded by the band, although occasionally videos of live performances find their way onto the web. Fool in the Rain, however, doesn’t currently have an easily-accessible performance video associated with it, unless of course you’d like to hear a cover band playing it or some guy trying his hand at the song’s drum licks in his basement.

Here is some audio of Fool in the Rain for your listening pleasure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Week 6 Football Preview

Due to a scheduling conflict I was unable to go on Wes & JR's radio show tonight, so I thought I'd go ahead and share a few nuggets with you regarding this week's college football games!

Lets start with LSU and Florida. LSU is very lucky to be facing a shaken up Florida team this week in Baton Rouge. This post-Alabama battered UF team is no match for LSU this week, and LSU should win easily by two or three touchdowns. One can only hope that both of these teams continue winning, leading up to an undefeated match up between Alabama and LSU on November 5th.

Southern Mississippi vs. Navy. Navy is only a 2.5 point favorite in this game, but watch for Navy to come out big this week. They narrowly lost to Air Force last week, in a game which they should have won had their kicker not missed a field goal in the first half, and their wish-bone offense should have no problem overpowering Southern Mississippi's defense. Southern Miss is playing in a very overrated conference this year. Look for Navy to come in to Southern Mississippi's home turf on Saturday and win big. Navy 31 - Southern Miss 21

Oklahoma vs. Texas. The Red River Shoutout is a long standing rivalry between these two teams, and brings with it much tradition. This match up is played in neutral Dallas, at the Cotton Bowl, and ticket sales are split 50-50 between the two schools. The Red River serves as a physical boundary between the states of Texas and Oklahoma and was once the demarcation for the US-Mexico border until the Texas Annexation—the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. There won’t be a treaty signed this Saturday during this most heated rivalry game until the clock strikes zero, if then. The winning university takes home the Golden Hat—a 10 gallon gold-plated Stetson.

It would seem as though both of these teams are very much in contention for a National Championship bid, but I believe that Texas is a bit overrated at #11, and will be be no match for Oklahoma's high powered offense. Look for Oklahoma to win this game by at least 9 points. Boomer Sooner!

Georgia vs. Tennessee. Georgia travels to Tennessee on Saturday evening for their annual border war rivalry game. In classic SEC style, this will be a very physical game, and there is no love lost between these two teams. Both of these teams have defended their home turf for the past two years, but I predict that Georgia will come in to Knoxville on Saturday and overturn this trend. Georgia has won three games in a row now and is looking for number four. Georgia's offense has been averaging 35 points a game, and though I don't predict this to be a blowout game for Georgia, I do see them upsetting Tennessee in Knoxville in a close game.

Notre Dame vs. Air Force. In my Notre Dame Football Preview, I predicted that our second loss of the season would be to Air Force (with our first loss being to Michigan State), and clearly that hasn't gone quite as I had predicted. So I am now changing my mind (as we women often do) and predicting a Notre Dame win over Air Force this weekend. I realize that this week's match up against Air Force brings Notre Dame the unenviable task of containing the triple-option offense, but I think our excellent rush defense is playing very well as a cohesive unit, and will be able to overlook Air Force's gimmicky offense and stay in character. I also think that our offense has steadily improved from week to week, and this week should be no different. Look for Notre Dame to win by 10 points.

And, last but not least ... my upset pick of the week ... Ohio State vs. Nebraska. Both teams are coming off upsets last week ... Nebraska losing at the hands of a brutal Wisconsin team, and Ohio State losing a close one to Michigan State ... but I think that Ohio State will come out on top at Nebraska, and upset the Cornhuskers at home. If Pelini cannot find a way to rally his troops to improve their game, the talented Buckeyes (even minus Wide Receiver Verlon Reed) may just come into Lincoln and steal the win.

Okay ... that's it for this week. Oh, and how about them Clemson Tigers?!