February 2007


With Maxim Afinogenov out for six to eight weeks, it seemed obvious who the Buffalo Sabres would choose to shoot in theri overtime shootout. The obvious choices would be Daniel Briere, Thomas Vanek, & Ales Kotalik. When Kotalik didn’t come out to shoot and instead was newcomer Drew Stafford shot, I was a little bit confused. After the Sabres sent out eight shooters and Kotalik was still nowhere to be found, it was clear there was something wrong.

Apparently I wasn’t paying too much attention during the game because he left the game during the second period due to a sprained MCL. It seems he will miss at least four to six weeks. He had been having a good season thus far with 14 goals and 36 points in 59 games.

Buffalo Sabre’s winger Maxim Afinogenov fell on his wrist, in their home game against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, breaking his scaphoid bone in his shooting wrist. Afinogenov has 23 goals, 34 assists, and a plus-17 rating this season. He already had more goals then in any other season in his career and was on pace for his best season by far. Instead he will miss the majority, if not all, of the remaining games in the season. His lightning speed, excellent puck control, and quick bullet shot will certainly be missed by the Sabres. We can only hope he will return for the playoffs. The main reason why Buffalo didn’t win the Stanley Cup in 2006 was due to injuries.

Tuesday evening, in NCAA basketball action, the Buffalo Bulls hosted the Bowling Green Falcons at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, NY. The two Mid-American Conference teams were meeting for the second time of the year. Their previous meeting, on Sunday January 7th, resulted on a 74-73 home win for the Falcons.

Bowling Green, despite senior guard & team leader, Martin Samarco, having an awful night shooting 6 of 26 from the field and 2 of 16 from three point territory in a 17 point effort, led most of the game. In the closing seconds of the game, Buffalo missed a key opportunity to tie the game when Bull’s forward Parnell Smith forced an off-balance, desperation attempt, not even touching the rim and seemingly losing the game. What happened in the next few minutes was confusing and quite humorous.

Everybody in the arena believed the game was over. Bowling Green ran off the court and into the locker room believing they had won the game. Coach Dan Dakich later claimed a referee indicated the game was over.

After officials reviewed the play, they determined 0.6 seconds were to be put onto the clock and Bowling Green would inbound the ball with a lead of 77-75. The only problem was Bowling Green was no longer on the court.

This is when Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon flew off the handle arguing to officials that his players were on the court ready to play and Bowling Green was not and should be charged with a technical foul. The referees hesitated and Witherspoon got more upset. He started to throw a fit and stood on the sideline reaching over the referee booth and repeatedly hit the game buzzer. Minutes passed. Buffalo’s pep band began to play in the absence of game play to fill the silent void. Witherspoon then ran out onto the court and pleaded with the band to stop playing and once the band stopped playing, silence ran through Alumni Arena and you could clearly hear the echo of Witherspoon’s voice yelling, “Hit the buzzer again,” after which somebody on the sideline again hit the game buzzer indicating it is time to play.

After what seemed like forever, Bowling Green players and personnel returned court side. Coach Dakich was arguing with the referees and it wasn’t immediately clear why. Apparently the referees had assessed a technical foul for delay of game on the Falcons for not returning to the court fast enough upon notification that the game was still not over. Moroccan center, senior Yassin Idbihi, went to the line making two clutch free throws to tie the game at 77 for the Bulls. After Bowling Green’s heave attempt missed, the two would begin an overtime period.

With all the momentum, Buffalo quickly took the lead for the first time since 30 seconds into the game. They didn’t look back, scoring 21 points in the 5 minute overtime period and winning with a final score of 98-90. Idbihi finished with a 28 points, a career high, and 20 rebounds. Sophomore guard Eric Moore came off the bench adding 24 points. Smith had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Junior guard Ryne Hamblow led Falcon scoring with 24 points. Sophomore Nate Miller scored 20 points with 10 rebounds.

Well, just as I called for in Conference Final Predictions, Marty Schottenheimer was fired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. His clear incompetence to coach an NFL playoff game was again displayed in ther playoff game against the New England Patriots. His sheer inability to manage a team was evident by the loss despite a tremendous effort from San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He placed the game in the hands of inexperienced quarterback Phillip Rivers, while pitting him into a shootout with Tom Brady, the best playoff quarterback since Joe Montana, rather then putting the game in the hands of the league’s most valuable player, in Tomlinson.

Apparently, this wasn’t even the team’s problem with Schottenheimer. After the season, the team’s staff was depleted after the loss of Rob Chudzinski, Cam Cameron, Wade Phillips, and Greg Manusky. Team president Dean Spanos said the losses were a result of a “dysfunctional” and “untenable” rift between the coach and General Manager A.J. Smith.

Several media rumors suggested USC head coach, and former New York Jets head coach, Pete Carroll as successor to Schottenheimer and that Smith, as well, could eventually be out the door.

The 2006 NFL season and the 2006-2007 NFL playoffs all came down to one game on Sunday evening. The Indianapolis Colts led by Peyton Manning vs. the Chicago Bears led by Brian Urlacher was the game. The beginning of the game didn’t look very good for the Colts as Chicago returner Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for the first opening kickoff returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

After an early Peyton Manning interception by Chris Harris, the Colts settled down and dismantled the Bears. Indianapolis’s two running backs, Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai, combined for 190 yards rushing and Addai also contributed with 10 receptions for 66 yard, tying a Super Bowl record for number of receptions and setting a Super Bowl record for the number of receptions by a running back.

While Super Bowl announcers, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, contemplated a co-Super Bowl MVP Awards to running backs, Joseph Addai & Dominic Rhodes, the Super Bowl MVP Award was fittingly awarded to quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning’s only flaw of the night was an early interception, but was overlooked as he went on to complete 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown to Colt’s receiver Reggie Wayne.

With the win Indianapolis head coach, Tony Dungy, became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. “I’m proud to be the first African-American coach to win this. But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord’s way. We’re more proud of that,” was Coach Dungy’s surprising response during the Super Bowl trophy ceremony.