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CSU upsets No. 7 Vanderbilt

By Emmett Golden

While most of you were being tortured by the Browns Sunday afternoon, the Cleveland State Vikings were on the road giving Cleveland something to feel good about. Gary Waters and the crew defeated seventh ranked Vanderbilt 71-58 in a regional game of the Legends Classic.

The Vikings were lead by senior swingman D’Aundray Brown. Brown led the team with 18 points. In his first game after missing all of last year with a wrist injury, he also pulled down 8 rebounds and picked Vandy’s pocket for 7 steals.

The difference in this game was the play of the bench. Freshman Anton Grady and Sebastian Douglas both scored 7 points. Sophomore Devin Long chipped in with 5 points as the Vikings opened up their season with what may become a signature win for this team.

CSU returns to Cleveland Tuesday night, taking on Rio Grande at 7pm.

Follow Emmett on Twitter @EGoldie80

Ward expected to miss 4-6 weeks

By Will Burge

Coach Pat Shurmur and the Browns PR staff have maintained that despite TJ Ward being in a cast all week, there was a slight chance he would be able to play through the injury to his right foot on Sunday against the Rams.

Multiple sources have informed me that the injury is worse than the Browns have revealed and Ward is expected to miss 4-6 weeks while his foot heals.

Ward injured his foot in the 30-12 loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday. He has not practiced at all this week and Pat Shurmur had said he would “most likely” miss Sunday’s game against the Rams.

Safety Usama Young returned to practice today and coach Shurmur said he will start in Ward’s place if he is healthy enough to play. Despite his struggles in replacing Ward last week this is a huge boost to the Browns’ secondary.

They will most likely be without Dimitri Patterson who did not practice again Friday. Rookie Buster Skrine will fill in for Patterson and rookie Eric Haag is expected to see his first significant playing time of the season.

At this point, the Browns will benefit from any veteran who can take the field.

Multiple players told me in the locker room that Ward is in good spirits and working hard to get back on the practice field as soon as possible.

Follow @WillBurge on twitter for braking Browns news, analysis, and slightly witty banter

 

DiGeronimo with Munch

By Bruce Hooley

Bob DiGeronimo, the disassociated Ohio State booster at the center of the “failure to monitor” charge the NCAA levied against the school on Thursday, says OSU athletic director Gene Smith is lying in an attempt to save his job.

“I understand when people are trying to save their jobs that they’re going to say and do certain things,” DiGeronimo said in an interview with Mark “Munch” Bishop on Cleveland’s ESPN 1540 WKNR2. “But to out and out lie, those things are a little hurtful to me, you know?”

DiGeronimo said Smith never contacted him by telephone  in 2006 to reduce the booster’s involvement with OSU’s coaches or players.

“Gene Smith told reporters last night that he called me in 2006 and told me certain things,” DiGeronimo said. “…that never happened…it’s a bald-faced lie.”

DiGeronimo said the first time he spoke to Smith was upon meeting him during a lunch with former Ohio State coach John Cooper in 2008.

DiGeronimo said OSU’s assertion in its response to the NCAA that he hid in a locker in an attempt to overhear a pregame speech by then-coach Jim Tressel in 2001 or 2002 is not true.

DiGeronimo also said OSU did not attempt to remove him from the team’s sideline in 2003, as it contends to the NCAA.

“I was on the sideline until 2006,” DiGeronimo said. “So, I mean, for them to say that something happened and I was escorted out of there, like, wow.”

DiGeronimo admitted to being involved in OSU players receiving cash in violation of NCAA rules at charity event he helped organize in Februrary, but maintained that Smith is using him as a scapegoat in an attempt to save his job.

“I’m not going to let somebody slander me, whether it be Gene Smith or anybody else,” DiGeronimo said. “I just can’t let them get away with that.”

Hear the entire DiGeronimo interview on Cleveland’s ESPN 1540 WKNR2 at www.espncleveland.com

 

Showing Some Grit

By: Emmett Golden

Here we are Buckeye fans. After starting 0-2 in the Big Ten OSU is three wins away from a Leaders division title. With all of the distraction that took place during the off-season as well as during the season this very young team has shown it has some grit.

The opening stretch against the heavy weights of their division is over. The remaining three games are against the wounded ducks of the Big Ten. Purdue has struggled for most of the year and when we looked at the schedule at the start of the year just about everyone thought this would be a win.

Next week Penn State comes to Columbus. You want to talk about distractions. I do not know how anyone on the team can focus on football. They can say that they are but who are they kidding? In the midst of the biggest controversy in sports history, I find it hard to imagine that they will win anymore games this year.

The Buckeyes finish the season at “that school up north”. That will be their biggest challenge of the final three weeks. I know the Buckeye fans wouldn’t have that any other way.

With the road to the first ever Big Ten Championship game laid out right in front of them, which OSU team will show up during this stretch? Will the mentally tough team that battled for the entire Wisconsin game show up or will the team that took the field last week against Indiana sneak on the field?

I will be honest with you. I never thought Ohio State would be where they are right now and I don’t think they did either. This team has shown that when they are disrespected and forgotten, they rise to the occasion.  They also showed that they peak in the local and national news papers and take their foot off the gas thinking that they can just show up and get a win.

If Luke Fickell and the gang want to make a statement about the quality of Ohio State football there should be a sense of urgency on Saturday. The last thing they can afford to do is play from behind. If Fickell can keep this team focused, he just might be laying the foundation of his legacy.

Lowe Working To Turn It Around

By: T.J. Zuppe

Right-handed pitcher Derek Lowe had some issues he needed to work through in the offseason. Following a September collapse by the Braves, he had a pretty good idea it would be somewhere else.

Atlanta dealt the veteran righty to the Indians on the last day of October and from that moment, Lowe knew he would have to work even harder to improve on his disappointing season in 2011.

After all, the 38-year old hurler lost 17 games last season. He attributed his performance to one big factor when he chatted with members of the Cleveland media on conference call.

Indians Pitcher Derek Lowe

“I got in such a mechanical funk… and I couldn’t stop it,” Lowe said. “We tried to change it in a short period of time and it didn’t happen.

“You learn from what you were doing and you make sure you don’t do it again.”

He has already started working on those mechanics over the last month, making positive muscle memory a top goal in the coming months.

Lowe is ready for the challenge and is excited to pitch again for a good ballclub. He joined the Really Big Show on ESPN 850 WKNR and noted not every team can compete. That is why he is excited to join the Tribe.

One thing you do not doubt is his durability. An innings eater, Lowe regularly comes close to 200 innings and 30 starts every season.

Even though he admitted some luck is involved, the rest is no accident.

“Hard work is something that I’ve always kind of believed in,” Lowe said. “I love the game. I enjoy putting in the time. For me, its more mental. It’s putting in the time and effort to be able to make every start.

“That is the number one important thing; to be able to pitch every five days.”

One of the biggest reasons general manager Chris Antonetti invested five million dollars to add such a playoff veteran pitcher was the influence he could have on a young rotation. Headed by righties Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting staff could use a back-end anchor with leadership qualities.

Lowe takes pride in that role.

“Spring training is going to be so important for everybody,” Lowe said about getting to know his new teammates, on WKNR. “I love working with young pitchers to try and advance their career, and that is what I’m going to try to do.”

Lastly, Lowe spoke highly of his new place of work.

“I feel that city is a great baseball city, Lowe said of Cleveland. “We have got to work harder to get those people back in the stadium.”

If he rebounds to win double digits, posts 200 innings and leads the team to the playoffs, he will have done his part. That should not be so hard, right?

Follow TJ on Twitter @TJZuppe

We wish you had done more

By Bruce Hooley

The last time Penn State played football on Oct. 30, fans remained in Beaver Stadium long after the finish to honor Joe Paterno for passing Eddie Robinson with a 409th career victory.

The prospect of another ceremony Saturday, when Paterno would have passed Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most Division I games coached in a career, couldn’t be permitted.

Thankfully, Penn State’s Board of Trustees realized that and fired Paterno shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

Given the looming pall over the Penn State community, tracing to lurid details of 40 alleged child molestation charges against Paterno’s former assistant, Jerry Sandusky – the decision proved as wise as it was overdue.

Paterno, too stubborn or too disconnected to understand the damage his continued presence on the sideline would inflict on both the school and Sandusky’s alleged victims, all but dared the Board to fire him by lecturing it in a Wednesday morning statement “not (to) spend a single minute discussing my status.”

That showed how arrogantly Paterno viewed his own self-importance and how cavalierly he disregarded those purportedly in authority over him. That’s nothing new, because in 2004, when athletic director Tim Curley and school president Graham Spanier went to Paterno’s home to insist he retire, he all but sneered at his superiors.

Paterno refused, calling their bluff, daring them to challenge his power base, assuming correctly that neither would summon the conviction to do what had to be done. Neither wanted Paterno’s dismissal as their epitaph.

Now, both men have earned different epitaphs.

Curley faces an indictment for perjury related to concealing his knowledge of Sandusky’s alleged crimes.

Spanier got fired last night, his insignificance and impotence as a leader underscored by how modest a ripple his dismissal made in comparison to that of the legendary coach.

Abraham Lincoln once said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity. If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Integrity and honor are indeed fickle character traits, subject to daily, if not hourly, crucibles that reveal or obliterate them. Paterno’s legacy, unimpeachable until Sandusky’s indictment, will require an unforeseen twist in those court proceedings to remove the indelible stain it now sports.

Sure, Paterno passed the test legally when he informed Curley about an eyewitness report of Sandusky raping a boy in the football locker room in 2002. But the iconic coach sadly passed the buck morally when he did not use his bully pulpit to demand knowing where that information went thereafter.

It is always wrong to ask, “How will this make us look?” instead of focusing solely on, “What is the right course of action?” Penn State made that egregious mistake, and because it did, young boys’ lives traversed a needless, never-ending personal torment that assaults decency to its very core.

It is a pathetically-minimal price for Paterno to exit three games shy of one final bow in spotlight if that affords one victim or one victim’s parent even the slightest momentary comfort.

Paterno is not at all a victim in this turn of events, and for anyone to portray it otherwise smacks of appalling insensitivity.

Penn State did him a huge favor by sparing Paterno what would have been a dangerous platform to speak for the school on Sandusky, or worse, to confine his next remarks as an employee of the university to something as trivial as Penn State’s struggling offense or the pursuit of a conference championship.

No 84-year-old man should be thrust into the role of point person for an issue as explosive and hurtful as the alleged crimes which went on within the walls of the football facility, where Sandusky maintained an office and lured his victims with the trappings of Penn State football.

Had Paterno done the right thing nine years ago, not just what insulated him from criminal charges, who knows where we might be now?

Young victims might likely have been spared.

Paterno’s legacy might likely have been preserved.

And perhaps he could have orchestrated an exit strategy he seemed in no hurry to execute until trying to box in the Board of Trustees Wednesday morning by announcing his retirement, effective at season’s end.

In that five-paragraph statement, Paterno expressed sorrow for the victims, pledged his undying loyalty to Penn State and admitted serious mistakes in judgment.

“With the benefit of hindsight,” his statement said, “I wish I had done more.”

We all do, Joe.

We all do.

Email Bruce hoolz@espncleveland.com

Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz

Bruce Hooley hosts The Hooligans from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR

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