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Friday, February 4, 2011

Bogan says Pitt; Adams has the Pack

5 Reasons Why We Think Our Team Will Win Sunday

1. Big Ben gets it done.
While his off-the-field antics have been questioned — and rightfully so — Ben Roethlisberger’s performance on the field during the post-season has been nothing short of spectacular.
At age 28, he has a pair of Super Bowl rings — two more than Dan Marino  and one more than Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
He will not put up gaudy passing numbers (his passer rating is 10th this post-season while Green Bay counterpart Aaron Rodgers is rated No. 1), but he finds ways to make important plays at crunch time.
Think Tom Brady would give up his 36 touchdown passes and Offensive Player of the Year award to be playing Sunday? 
You bet he would.

2. The defense is deadly.
When a team can put on the field the likes of James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior and Casey Hampton, it’s going to be good.
And the Steelers’ defense is REALLY good.
No doubt, the defense is going to give up some plays, but if the unit turns potential touchdowns into field goals, that will be bad news for the Packers.
Harrison and Woodley are going to have big games for the Steelers.
3. Underappreciated wide receiver Hines Ward. 
Bet you didn’t know that Ward (954) has more receptions than Pittsburgh legends Lynn Swann (336) and John Stallworth (537) — combined. 
Ward is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL.
He has great hands and is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league.
When Roethlisberger needs a big play, he looks to Ward.
I would not be surprised Sunday to see Ward snag another Super Bowl MVP.

4. Packers are due for a letdown.
 Green Bay’s playoff push really started in the final week of the regular season when it had to win against Chicago to earn a playoff spot.
The Packers have followed that up with trips to Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago — three division champions — to secure their trip to the Super Bowl.
I realize this is the Super Bowl, but the Packers have taken a lot of lumps this season — and I think it catches up to them and they implode Sunday.

5. The Favre Factor.
Come on... The Football Gods would NEVER let Green Bay win the Super Bowl the same year Favre retires.
No way. No how. 
Karma is on the side of the Steelers.

PREDICTION: It probably won’t be the prettiest of games, which plays right into the hands of the Steelers.
I see Big Ben leading his team to a go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter. 
And when Aaron Rodgers has a chance to answer, LaMarr Woodley or James Harrison make a game-saving play.
PICK: Steelers 20, Packers 17

1. Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.
Quick question: Who is the top rated passer in NFL playoff history?
Not Tom Brady, not Joe Montana or even Steve Young.
It’s Aaron Rodgers.
Granted, Rodgers hasn’t played as many games as the QBs I just mentioned, but he’s made a heck of a splash in the few playoff games he’s played so far.
Rodgers has a rating of 101.2 in the regular season, but increased it to 109.2 in three playoff games this season. Indoors, his rating balloons to 115.2. Sunday’s game is in the temple known as new Cowboys Stadium. He’s completing 71 percent of his passes, has six touchdowns to just two picks and 790 yards.
Although his counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, gets a lot of attention for his ability to keep plays alive, Rodgers has the same ability.
You can’t argue with Roethlisberger’s two rings, but if I had my choice of any quarterback playing right now to win a game, it’s Rodgers.

2. Weapons.
Yes, Pittsburgh has a wonderful defense, but it’s about to be tested.
Green Bay will not be able to run on the Steelers — that’s a given. But the Packers will be able to establish their passing game.
They feature a receiving group led by Greg Jennings with 76 catches (12 touchdowns), Donald Driver 51 catches (four TDs), James Jones 50 catches (five TDs) and Jordy Nelson 45 catches (two TDs). Running back Brandon Jackson also has 43 catches out of the backfield with a score.
I expect Green Bay to try and run the ball early, but look for plenty of four receiver sets to keep the Pittsburgh defense spread out.

3. Defense.
When you think of the Steelers, you automatically think defense.
But Green Bay features a rather stingy defense of its own, led by the man with the best lettuce on the field — linebacker Clay Matthews. 
Fellow linebackers Frank Zombo and A.J. Hawk should help to contain the run game. And watch out if nose tackle B.J. Raji drops into coverage. 
The Packers’ secondary will be tested, but with 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson, it should be fine.
Believe it or not, Green Bay is actually allowing less points per game in the playoffs than Pittsburgh.

4. The Steelers can be had.
Baltimore bolted out to a 21-7 lead on the Steelers during the Divisional Round.
The Ravens did that with an offense not nearly as good as Green Bay’s.
If the Packers could get out to a similar lead on Sunday, this one will be over early.

5. The Favre Factor.
Mike Bogan said there’s no way Green Bay will win a Super Bowl the same year Brett Favre retires.
First, I’ll believe he’s retired when, or if, next season starts and he’s not there for the first game.
I believe the so-called “Favre Factor” actually works in the Packers’ favor. With a win on Sunday, Rodgers can match the legend with one ring — and in far less time than it took Favre.
Favre’s legacy is motivation for Rodgers. 
Sunday, he will fully emerge from No. 4’s shadow.

PICK: Green Bay 24, Pittsburgh 20

Anyone else have a pick?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bitzer on the bench at MPSH

MOUNT PLEASANT — Jordan Bitzer let his standout play speak for itself while on the basketball court with Unionville-Sebewaing Area and Central Michigan University.
Now, Bitzer is taking that low-key, high-energy focus and using it to teach the game he loves to a team with potential to become a state champion.
The former USA and CMU star is in his first year as an assistant varsity coach at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart High School.
Bitzer’s friend, MPSH head coach Pat Theisen, offered him the job on the bench right before the season started. It was a chance he couldn’t pass up.
“I really miss playing and just being around the game, so I figured this was a great way to be around it,” Bitzer said. “I feel like I interact with the players pretty well. Joking around with them is pretty easy and understanding what they are thinking at times helps...”
Entering this week, MPSH was 10-1 overall and ranked No. 7 in Class D. There are many of the same kids on the team who played for the Division 8 state championship football squad.
“We have a great group of kids and they are pretty athletic for a small Class D school,” Bitzer said. 
Bitzer says his coaching style is a lot like how he played — cool and calm.
“I'm not much of a yeller or screamer, but I try to teach the kids and give them advice,” he said. 
“Since this is my first year helping, at first I had to get the hang of how they did things. All basketball teams are different and every coach has a different philosophy, so I was just trying to understand the system. I give my input on drills that we used to run at USA and CMU and try to integrate them to make things more competitive and help strengthen some of the weaknesses we have.”
Bitzer, who is in his last semester taking classes at CMU, is in the process of starting a new chapter in his life. 
After a very solid career with the Chippewas, the 2006 USA graduate contemplated playing professionally overseas. This past summer, he and fellow CMU teammate Robbie Harman went out to Las Vegas and played in a pro-am tournament with scouts from all over the world.
But after weighing his options, he decided to stay in the U.S. and finish his schooling.
“I was definitely thinking about going over and playing, but it just didn't work out,” Bitzer explained. “I am still on scholarship, and getting my fifth-year aid was a big factor. A lot of people I talked to told me the more years you take off from school, the harder it would be to come back and finish. 
“I really didn't get an offer that was good enough for me to go over (to Europe). I didn't receive any offer until I was two or three weeks into school this past fall and I already started my classes. And the money I would have made would not have been enough to pay for my school when I would have came back.”
 Bitzer reflects fondly on his time at CMU. He ranks in the top 20 all-time at the school in scoring, is second all-time in steals and third in three-pointers.
“Obviously, winning more games and having the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament would have been nice, but I am pretty happy with how things went,” he said. “I went through some struggles at times, which have made me a better person today. And I realize how blessed I have been with a great family, friends, coaches and teammates. I have definitely learned a lot and can take a lot away from experiences I have had and use them later on in my life. I am happy and thankful I was given the opportunity to represent the Thumb area for four years.”
While he held off this past summer in his quest to play professionally, he still gets the itch every now and again, especially when he gets in the gym with MPSH players.
“I’m not going to lie, I have thought about trying to play basketball again, but it would be hard for me to market myself having taken one year off,” he said.
For now, though, Bitzer’s plans are to finish college and get on with his life — whether it be in or out of basketball.
“I think I may go back to school and get my teaching certificate and pursue a teaching career,” he said. “After the semester is over, I'm going to sit down and talk with my parents and coaches and see what input they may have. I could see myself coming back to the Thumb and coaching and teaching possibly in the future. So we will see...”

2006 USA graduate Jordan Bitzer (right) has traded in his playing uniform for a seat on the bench as an assistant coach at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

The snow is coming; Games cancelled

Please post any of tonight's cancellations you hear of on this post.
So far, USA at Bad Axe (girls), EPBP at Vassar (girls), Peck at Port Hope (girls) and Deckerville at Caseville (girls) are cancelled.
Also, both games at Harbor Beach between the Pirates and Mayville are cancelled.
Here is what we have as of 3 p.m. Tuesday

Mayville at Harbor Beach, PPD

USA at Bad Axe
Cass City at Reese
Ubly at Brown City
Memphis at Port Hope
EPBP at Vassar, PPD (Makeup Feb. 16)
CPS at Caseville, PPD

BCAS at Bangor John Glenn
Armada at Brown City
CPS at A-Fairgrove
Memphis at Owen-Gage, PPD (Makeup Feb. 16)
Cros-Lex at Marlette, PPD
USA at Bad Axe, PPD
Cass City at Reese, PPD
Mayville at Harbor Beach, PPD  
Kingston at North Huron, PPD
EPBP at Vassar, PPD
Peck at Port Hope, PPD (Makeup Feb. 4)
Deckerville at Caseville, PPD

This week's rankings

Here are the Tribune polls for this week as well as the AP polls.
A note to everyone that the Harbor Beach boys are playing tonight at home against Mayville in a boy/girl doubleheader. The girls game is at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m. This is because of the impending snow storm coming in later tonight.

Tribune Boys Top 10
1. CPS 12-0 49    
2. Marlette 10-2 46    
3. BCAS 8-3 38
3. (tie) Sandusky 9-4 38
5. Ubly 8-3 29
6. Harbor Beach 7-3 26
7. Cass City 7-5 21
 8. Vassar 6-5 15
9. USA 6-5 9   
10. Reese 5-5 5
Others: Peck 1

Tribune Girls Top 10
 School                       10-11 Record       Pts.
1. Sandusky 13-0 50    
2. Reese 11-1 45    
3. Marlette 11-2 40
4. Brown City 10-3 35
5. EPBP 8-4 30
6. Vassar 5-5 23
7. USA 6-5 22
8. Harbor Beach 6-6 14
9. Deckerville 9-5 9
10. Memphis 9-4 4
Others: Port Hope (2)

The top 10 teams in the Michigan Associated Press high school basketball poll, with records in parentheses. Totals are based on 15 points for a first-place vote, 14 for second,etc.:
Class A
School Total Points
 1. Romulus (4) (10-1) 74
 2. Ann Arbor Huron (9-1) 66
 3. Detroit Southeastern (1) (12-2) 64
 4. Kalamazoo Central (10-1) 59
 5. Warren De La Salle (11-1) 55
 6. Lansing Eastern (9-2) 51
 7. Saginaw (11-2) 44
 8. Detroit Cody (12-2) 41
 9. Okemos (9-2) 32
T10. East Lansing (10-1) 19
T10. Petoskey (11-0) 19
Others receiving votes: Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 16, Southfield 12, Ypsilanti 8, Benton Harbor 7, Auburn Hills Avondale 7, Bay City Western 5, Traverse City Central 5, Detroit Mumford 5, West Bloomfield 4, East Kentwood 4, Detroit Henry Ford 2, Flint Northwestern 1.
Class B
School Total Points
 1. Detroit Country Day (4) (11-2) 74
 2. Lansing Sexton (1) (10-0) 71
 3. Grand Rapids Christian (11-0) 63
 4. Flint Powers (10-1) 61
 5. Richland Gull Lake (12-0) 54
 6. Detroit Douglass (12-2) 49
 7. Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy (13-1) 47
 8. Saginaw Swan Valley (11-0) 41
T9. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (10-1) 29
T9. Williamston (10-1) 29
Others receiving votes: Detroit Crockett 20, Comstock Park 19, Chelsea 13, Standish-Sterling 12, Melvindale 7, Richmond 5, Wyoming Godwin Heights 3, Muskegon Heights 1, Carrollton 1, Wayland 1.
Class C
School Total Points
 1. Detroit Consortium (3) (9-2) 71
 2. Melvindale Academy for Business And Tech (2) (11-0) 70
 3. Flint Beecher (11-2) 63
 4. Schoolcraft (11-0) 60
 5. Saginaw Buena Vista (9-3) 59
 6. Montague (10-0) 50
 7. Fennville (11-0) 42
 8. Napoleon (11-0) 33
 9. Clinton (11-1) 23
T10. Bridgman (10-2) 19
T10. Ishpeming (10-1) 19
Others receiving votes: Sanford-Meridian 18, Flint Hamady 17, Pewamo-Westphalia 14, McBain 11, Fife Lake Forest Area 8, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian 7, Charlevoix 4, Jonesville 3, Maple City Glen Lake 3, Covert 2, Negaunee 2, L’Anse 1, Hanover-Horton 1.
Class D
School Total Points
 1. Cedarville (4) (11-0) 74
 2. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (1) (10-1) 69
 3. Posen (12-0) 63
 4. Carsonville-Port Sanilac (11-0) 62
 5. Rapid River (10-1) 52
 6. Eben Junction Superior Central (11-1) 49
 7. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (10-1) 47
 8. Climax-Scotts (9-1) 37
 9. Big Rapids Crossroads Charter Academy (12-0) 34
10. Fulton-Middleton (9-2) 33
Others receiving votes: Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 25, Pellston 15, Bellaire 7, Bay City All Saints 7, Academy of Inkster 5, McBain Northern Michigan Christian 5, Holland Calvary 5, Harbor Light Christian 5, Beal City 2, Bear Lake 2, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 1, Carney-Nadeau 1.

Class A
School Total Points
 1. Inkster (5) (14-0) 75
 2. Grand Haven (13-0) 69
 3. Detroit Pershing (13-0) 66
 4. Byron Center (13-0) 60
 5. Midland Dow (13-1) 54
 6. Canton (10-2) 47
 7. Midland (10-2) 45
 8. East Lansing (10-2) 40
 9. Livonia Ladywood (10-2) 26
10. Petoskey (11-2) 23
Others receiving votes: Auburn Hills Avondale 19, Detroit King 17, Mattawan 11, Saginaw Arthur Hill 9, Westland John Glenn 7, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 6, Lansing Waverly 6, Romulus 5, Grand Blanc 4, Waterford Kettering 4, Detroit Renaissance 3, St. Johns 3, East Kentwood 1.

Class B
School Total Points
 1. Detroit Country Day (5) (12-0) 75
 2. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (12-1) 65
 3. Morley-Stanwood (12-0) 64
 4. Goodrich (12-0) 61
 5. Three Rivers (13-0) 53
 6. DeWitt (11-2) 47
 7. Frankenmuth (11-1) 38
 8. Ida (12-1) 33
 9. Grand Rapids Christian (10-2) 22
10. Olivet (12-1) 18
Others receiving votes: East Grand Rapids 16, Holland Christian 14, Hemlock 14, Battle Creek Harper Creek 12, Richland Gull Lake 11, Brooklyn Columbia Central 11, St Joseph 9, Chelsea 6, Dearborn Divine Child 5, Big Rapids 5, Ludington 4, Wayland 3, Jackson Northwest 3, Shelby 3, Carrollton 3, Muskegon Oakridge 2, Grant 2, Grand Rapids West Catholic 1.

Class C
School Total Points
 1. Flint Hamady (5) (12-0) 75
 2. St. Ignace LaSalle (12-1) 70
 3. Kent City (12-0) 57
 4. Pewamo-Westphalia (12-1) 56
 5. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (12-1) 51
 6. Kalkaska (12-0) 44
 7. Clare (12-0) 37
 8. Saginaw Valley Lutheran (11-1) 36
 9. Michigan Center (12-2) 29
10. Traverse City St. Francis (11-0) 23
Others receiving votes: New Lothrop 20, Niles Brandywine 17, Sandusky 16, Leroy Pine River 16, McBain 13, Lawton 10, Manton 8, Sand Creek 6, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 4, Saugatuck 4, Grandville Calvin Christian 3, Reese 2, Grand Rapids Covenant Christian 2, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 1.

Class D
School Total Points
 1. Central Lake (5) (12-0) 75
 2. Hillsdale Academy (15-0) 67
 3. Waterford Our Lady (11-1) 66
 4. Posen (14-1) 55
 5. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (10-1) 54
 6. Watersmeet (12-0) 51
 7. Gaylord St. Mary (12-2) 47
 8. Manistee Catholic Central (12-0) 43
 9. Mason County Eastern (13-1) 32
10. Brimley (11-2) 22
Others receiving votes: Ellsworth 18, Eben Junction Superior Central 18, Chassell 11, Crystal Falls Forest Park 10, Lansing Christian 8, Climax-Scotts 7, Hillman 6, Bark River-Harris 5, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 3, Traverse City Christian 2.