Chris Michael

About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

The SportsTalk Shop: District Basketball “Mini” Primer

With the expanded playoff formats for both girls and boys basketball teams this year, it is nearly impossible to break down every single team in our coverage area along with insights for every game in a single blog posting—especially since there are more “sub-regionals” featuring many teams that are outside of the RCN viewing area that we haven’t had a chance to see.

Instead, I wanted to focus on four teams inside our coverage area with interesting storylines that you can follow as you watch this winter’s playoff coverage on RCN-TV (and be sure to check out our broadcast schedule each day this week for details on which teams we’ll be announcing, along with our airtimes).

ALLEN BOYS BASKETBALL
Yes, they did drop the regular season finale to a Class 4-A team…but when you look at the team that Doug Snyder can roll out there—and the depth to this year’s team, I don’t think you can realistically argue there is a better team in District XI.

The way Tyrese Martin is playing—he has to be the area’s “MVP” in a very crowded field of talented players (among them David Kachelries, Jalen Vaughns, Jeremy Johnson, Nick King and others).  Martin can play (and score) from any position on the floor.

The Canaries have a host of great ball handlers (Bless Jones, Malik Gordan, Jvon Winslow, Carlos Gutierrez, Diyel Steward) and an imposing front court (Rahmel Johnson, Brandon Moya, Tyrese Stewart, Orion Obade, A’quele Adderlay) that are very underrated in terms of their rebounding and defensive abilities.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention the popular preseason MVP choice, Talek Williams, too.

I heard a rumor that some people in Allentown were hoping the Canaries would lose a game during the regular season—so that they wouldn’t go into the playoffs with an undefeated record, and maybe help them refocus while not being too overconfident for the post-season—thereby firing them up for what they hope will be a long run through the state tournament.

Well, if that rumor was true (and it was), they got their wish.

EASTON GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Red Rovers did lose the EPC Championship to an incredibly talented Bethlehem Catholic squad—beating Easton in all three meetings between these two schools.  The Rovers are also not the favorite in the 6A playoff classification, as both Nazareth and Parkland finished with more “power points,” pushing Easton to the #3 seed.

However, the Rovers will not have to face the Golden Hawks again since they are in a different classification bracket, and I think Easton will thrive in the District XI and PIAA playoffs.  They continue to be loaded with talent led by Gabby Bloshuk (team high 13 points vs. Becahi in the EPC title game), Shelby Stocker (8 points) and are a very deep team (Mackenzie Miers, contrary to reports did play last Friday, as I had predicted on last week’s “SportsTalk” show).

Allen has made great strides and has had a fine season, but I don’t see any way the Rovers get tripped up in their opener versus the Canaries this Wednesday, which will fuel them through districts and into the state playoffs.  They’ll most probably have to face another scrappy Parkland team in the semifinals, and then, yet another showdown with Nazareth for the championship.

SALISBURY BOYS BASKETBALL
I have to admit, I am fast becoming a big-time Falcons fan—again–this winter, and for several reasons.

While Head Coach Jason Weaver has always had post-season success, he usually features an up-tempo team that loves to push the ball up-and-down the floor regardless of other team’s approach.

This year, for the first time in Jason’s tenure with Salisbury, he features a more half court oriented team, yet they are still fun to watch.

Big men Jaxon Costello and Ryan Slutsky have had numerous big-time games over the last month—both can bring the ball up effectively, shoot from the perimeter and have great hands.  Salisbury’s front court will create a tough matchup for their opponent—Octorara, a team with just two players over 6’1 and none taller than 6’3”—in their opening round playoff game (which will be seen on RCN-TV live, Friday at 6pm).

Jack Reichenbach and Blake Jones are lethal guards who are also very good ball-handlers.  Reichenbach in particular is extremely flashy and effective in scoring both from the outside and from penetration off his own dribble.

But perhaps the most underrated guard in the Colonial League this year was sophomore Sean Snyder, who’s been receiving praise with two great efforts in recent weeks.

In Salisbury’s regular season finale against Southern Lehigh, Snyder was quiet in terms of his point production, but impressed me with his savvy and maturity out in the court during some key moments in the second half to secure the Falcons’ win.

In Salisbury’s Colonial League playoff game last week, Snyder stepped up when teams were keying on other guys and came up big offensively to keep his team at arm’s length and continued to show poise during heated exchanges with the Spartans.  A number of other Colonial League coaches remarked to me after that game what a talent Snyder is—and will continue to be for the next two seasons.

I feel comfortable in putting both Reichenbach and Snyder on a short list of the top guards for next winter and both will be prominently featured in next season’s “player to watch” when we get to December to preview the 2017-18 basketball campaign.

NOTRE DAME GIRLS BASKETBALL
On paper, they were severely overmatched with Southern Lehigh in last Friday’s Colonial League championship, but I was thoroughly impressed by the way the Crusaders hung with one of the most dominant teams in the region throughout its most recent contest.

Leading their hard-fought, never-say-die approach last week were seniors Tori Esposito, Cailee Murphy, Cassie Kelly, Amy Small and Kelsey Gorman.  They played tenacious defense against Solehi and contested every possession. Also, keep an eye on Murphy as she will be playing college ball locally next year for a great collegiate program and will probably be returning to post-season play often at the next level.

As far as the road ahead for Notre Dame, they have a very tough match-up in facing North Schuylkill this Friday in their sub-regional opener.  Even though they are the #6 seed, “North” is a very athletic team that knocked the Crusaders out of District XI play a year ago and will be tough to beat.  But if the ladies from Notre Dame play with the same passion (and can get a few more shots to fall than they did against Solehi), I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the Crusaders advance into the next round to face the winner of the Jim Thorpe/New Hope-Solebury faceoff.

By the way, Notre Dame fans won’t have to worry about attending that next game at New Hope’s gym.  While the school is beautiful and I love the area, the New Hope-Solebury gymnasium is by far the smallest gym for high school basketball I have ever seen and would clearly not be large enough to hold Notre Dame’s loyal fan base.  Instead, that game will be played at a neutral—and definitely larger—facility.

One more playoff note:  Southern Lehigh needs to make sure it provides a luxury limo for LehighValleyLive.com’s Kyle Craig for their playoff games.  While they (and Becahi) clearly have the most talented girls basketball team in the region, its key player (and daughter of a local officiating great) Avery Bennett always has her best games when Kyle is in the house.  The Spartans could have a long run in the PIAA playoffs but I don’t think it should take any chances and so make sure that Mr. Craig is properly cared for during Solehi’s post-season.

Enjoy your high school playoff basketball action this week!

The SportsTalk Shop: League Playoffs

One of the great annual traditions of our “SportsTalk” program occurs this Thursday, when we have local coaches and media experts on our show for a roundtable discussion on the Lehigh Valley’s local league tournaments.

With district/regional/state-wide tournaments expanding ever so often now in every sport, it’s one of the few remaining weeks in which the entire Lehigh Valley is focused solely on the teams within the region—and it’s one of the most-watched shows (and frequently stirs up heated debates) on the calendar for the viewers in the market.  We examine both the girls and boys tourneys in both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference as well as the Colonial League.

Joining Keith Groller and me will be multiple league-winning former head coach Megan Dellegrotti, along with current head basketball coaches Joe Stellato (Freedom HS) and Eric Snyder (Catasauqua).  Everyone will be giving their thoughts on the regular season and the league playoffs to-date along with making predictions, giving insights and “keys” for all of Friday’s championship games—all of which will be broadcast on RCN-TV (check out our broadcast schedule page for teams and airtimes).

Keith already made waves last week when he said the Colonial League Playoffs should be renamed the “Bangor Slaters Invitational” (as the Slaters have been in the last four title games while winning three of them—one more than any other team has accomplished this century. They also have the best record of any Colonial League team by far).

So tune in to the show this Thursday, live from 7-8 pm, or catch the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk and let us know your basketball opinions, questions and predictions. Be sure to email us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com right now and tune in for our panelists’ responses!

In the meantime, here’s a look at our recently broadcast games to get you ready for the Lehigh Valley’s “Championship Night” coming up this Friday on RCN-TV!

Also, make sure you check RCN-TV’s broadcast schedule throughout the week for details on this week’s league playoff coverage.

The SportsTalk Shop: “FINAL” 2017 Basketball Poll

I have to keep it real here—it was not the most exciting regular season in terms of monitoring our scholastic ranking system this winter.

While we’ve seen some well-played games (last Friday’s Freedom/Liberty game by far the best contest I’ve called this winter) and I’m anticipating a very entertaining post-season, there wasn’t a whole lot of movement among our “SportsTalk” poll results over the course of the regular season.

Before we get to our last rankings of the year, here’s a quick recap if you are not familiar with our program.

Our pollsters are comprised of a combination of local media members (Morning Call’s Keith Groller, RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach and RCN basketball Announcers Tom Stoudt and Dennis Laub and Lehigh Valley Basketball Rankings’s Toomey Anderson).  We also have three distinguished head basketball coaches giving their insights on the top teams in the Lehigh Valley area.

All District XI schools were eligible for the poll and were divided into either our “big schools” (5A & 6A classifications) or “small schools” (4A & below) rankings.

The “small schools” consist of Wilson, Saucon Valley, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame-GP, Moravian Academy, Lincoln Leadership, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.

The “big schools” are Bangor, Central Catholic, Southern Lehigh, Whitehall, Allen, Dieruff, Easton, Emmaus, Freedom, Liberty, Nazareth, E. Stroudsburg North & South, Pocono Mountain East, Pocono Mountain West, Stroudsburg, Northampton, Parkland, and Pleasant Valley.

As far as our “final” results…which looked very similar to what our pre-season poll looked like:

Big School Basketball Poll—Class 5A & up (8 pollsters)

  • Allen – 40 points (8 first place votes)
  • Emmaus – 26 points
  • Parkland – 22 points
  • Pocono Mountain West – 14 points
  • Bangor – 13 points

____________________________________________________________

Small School Basketball Poll—Class 4A & Below (7 pollsters)

  • Becahi – 35 points (7 first place votes)
  • Salisbury – 24 points
  • Notre Dame-GP – 23 points
  • Saucon Valley – 15 points
  • Wilson – 5 points

Just to recap, Allen maintained its standings as the area’s (and the state’s) top “big school” team all winter by running the table (through this past weekend), and was only really challenged in a handful of games all year.

Among the “smaller schools,” Bethlehem Catholic lost just three league games to date—all by three points are less, and all of them to bigger-sized schools.

The only other teams that had any significant in-season movement in our polls were Parkland and Wilson.  The Trojans  got off to a slow start and fell off our poll completely before  bouncing back and, now, looking about as good as any team in the region (except perhaps Allen, who they played Monday night on RCN-TV).  The Warriors, under a new coach and armed with a very young squad, have made a late-season push and end the season as our “number five” team.

One other note, while Pocono Mountain West slid down from its “number two” position in our preseason poll, I had one local head coach whose opinion I really trust tell me last weekend that he is seriously concerned about “West” and does not want to face them in the post-season.  The Panthers dropped a few regular season games that, on paper, they probably shouldn’t have lost—but with all the talent on that squad and the match-up problems they could create–they very likely could play deep into the league and/or district tournaments.

To help break down these results in further detail and to talk about the Colonial League and Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs, RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach will join us on this week’s “SportsTalk.”

We’ll also talk about high school basketball in the DC region on this Thursday’s show as DMV Elite’s Marcus Helton will join us via Skype to talk about the area’s regular season, identify the top players and teams and look ahead to a busy final week of the regular season.  Marcus will also give us some upcoming “match-ups to watch” along with his take on which teams will have the most success in the region’s post-season tournaments.

So tune in to the show this Thursday at 7pm or catch the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk and let us know your basketball opinions and questions. If there’s a team, athlete or playoff match-up you’d like us to address on that show, be sure to email us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and tune-in for our panelists’ responses!

The SportsTalk Shop: “Up Next…What the —-

A few years ago a local athletic director appeared on our “SportsTalk” show and tossed out the real possibility that Pennsylvania would reclassify its sports teams and expand the playoffs.  At that time several things quickly passed through my mind about those possibilities and what might be the end result.

One that quickly came to mind was what will happen over the next two months.  Let me explain…

In years past, this is a very difficult time of year for everyone involved in local sports, including those of us in the media.  Traditionally for the next several weeks, there are at least five days a week in which we are doing high school basketball playoff productions, which normally triples (and sometime even more) the number of games that we normally prepare for.

That’s three times the amount of coordinating crews, loading/unloading trucks, rolling cables and wires, calling/acquiring/resending information, compiling rosters, statistics, computer graphics, and so on…

It’s always a hectic time, but at least there was usually at least one or two days here and there in which everyone (coaches, players, media members, administrators et al) can try to catch their breaths, recharge their batteries and maybe spend a little time with their families.

However…

Using some rudimentary math skills, if the number of championship tournaments would then be doubled from what we’ve always done in the past, a quick computation would reveal that we’d be doing….

WOW!!! That’s a lot of games!!!

Gone are the days when Mondays were reserved for make-up dates, in the realistic and usually likely situation that there’s significant snow in the forecast in eastern Pennsylvania area over the next two months.  Sundays—once forbidden to be used for any high school playoff games—are now being slated for some games to be played.  And, for some of us who would normally settle for working from home at least a few hours on the “off days”…those hours are now filled with significantly additional prep time, more texts/emails/phone calls and many more games to work.

So let’s flash forward to this week.

Our studio manager emails out the crew schedules to everyone (and also posts the schedule on a beat-up clipboard on a rusty hook in the side office—for the “Old School” folks) that list our production schedule and everyone’s work assignments.  As our hearty and incredibly talented crew members slowly make their way in to the studio to check out the new schedule, I knew what was coming as their eyes started scanning our upcoming workload…

A glance over the assignment schedule…eyebrows slowly rise,
followed by a widening of the eyes…a quick breath and a glance
to the side to see if the production calendar supports what
is on the clipboard…then, a quick look around for guidance,
but finding none…facades deliberately transform into more
exasperated expressions, and finally forced utterances of …
“Wow…that’s a lot of games!!!”
(or something along those lines)

Make no mistake.  Every single person on our crew roots for the young people in our area, and not a single person in our studio will ever hope that a team that reaches the state semifinals comes home with anything less than then a PIAA gold medal.  I truly don’t think anyone who feels differently would endure these next two months every year for more than a season or two…and we have crew members who have been here for decades!

And so, it now begins. Monday, February 6, will be our first Monday high school broadcast of the year…and don’t ask me when the playoffs end, because I never look that far ahead.  All hands are on-deck and many of our other responsibilities get pushed off until a much later date.

But for all the work we do, it is, in the end, a great experience.  While I don’t enjoy rarely seeing my family over the next few weeks, this time of year is truly special.

When you arrive at the arenas—there’s a different atmosphere that you don’t feel at any other time of the sports calendar year.  There are rising levels of adrenaline in every quarter…every series…every play.  The intensity only increases exponentially once you get to the ‘do or die’ games–in which the losing team sees their long season come to an abrupt end.  The rush is incredible—not to mention thrilling when games go down to the final play and it’s a great honor to have the chance to be on the floor when those exhilarating moments occur.

Memories include the smiles on the faces of the players, the coaches, their staffs and everyone’s family of the winning teams that advance through each round of the playoffs … and the hugs, tears and special moments that you physically and mentally record each year while watching the trophy ceremony after the successful completion of each round.  Those are the memories we are so fortunately to get an up close-and-personal look at, year in and year out….and make a grueling work schedule for a few months, all worthwhile.

So until next week, forgive me if I try to take some pleasure in peaking around the corner of my office and down the hallway, and chuckle a little each time one of our crew members arrive at our studio and make their way over to that beat-up old clipboard on the wall.

The SportsTalk Shop: “Calm” Before the Storm

It’s been an exciting run of high school sports action so far this winter.  You have your dominant teams (like Bethlehem Catholic & Nazareth wrestling, Allen and–up until Friday–Bangor boys basketball teams that have been undefeated).  You also have teams that are surging of late (Parkland & Liberty boys basketball, Easton & Nazareth girls basketball), along with other schools (Emmaus, Becahi & Whitehall boys, Parkland, Allen and Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball & Parkland, Northampton & Easton wrestling) that have been very consistent all season long.

Things start to get serious for teams as we head into the final two weeks before the post-season commences in all of the winter sports.  Teams fighting for playoff spots start facing “do-or-tie” games in order to qualify, and other schools are looking to solidify as many home games and higher seeds as possible as the league and district playoffs appear on the horizon.  Wresters are also tuning up and trying to zone in on individual matchups and target the weight classes that they will be competing at for the post-season.

This Thursday, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at the local wrestling season with the Morning Call’s Tom Housenick and RCN’s own wrestling analyst,Jim Best.  They’ll be identifying the top athletes and best match-ups going forward, in addition to talking about the wrestling season overall and handicapping the District XI Team Wrestling Tournament, which will be on RCN-TV the following week.

We’re also going to feature Rodney Williams—a standout high school basketball player from the Washington, DC region who’s now having tremendous success for the Drexel men’s basketball team.

Your comments are most welcome in advance of the show (email us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com) and tune in this Thursday, live at 7pm on RCN-TV, to hear our wrestling experts’ responses to your questions/opinions.

In the meantime, here’s a look at some of our recent broadcasts of both local wrestling and high school basketball.

We’d also like to let you know that we are now offering exclusive, behind-the-scene tours here at RCN-TV to charities, youth and community groups, schools and local organizations (20 members or less).  Discover how television productions like “Community Spotlight,” “Pennsylvania Crossfire,” “Nuestro Valle,” and even our own “SportsTalk” shows work and learn different aspects of the broadcasting industry. Tour times are flexible and our staff will work hard to accommodate your needs.

If you are interested in a tour, please call our studio manager, Rick Geho, at 610-443-2909 to learn more.

 

Don’t forget to check the RCN schedule here on the website for our upcoming games as the contests get more heated, with local teams jockeying for a spot in the league and district playoffs—along with fighting for the best possible seeds!

The SportsTalk Shop: Basketball “Halftime” Report

 

Traditionally, the first half of the college and high school basketball seasons is…. a little peculiar.

Initially, the preseason schedule begins in the shadow of high school football playoff time—and some of the top basketball players aren’t even part of their basketball team for several weeks of the season due to their commitments on the gridiron.  College football rivalry games are in full swing, and many college basketball teams open their season with “Midnight Madness” (or extremely early morning) games or other events conducted while many of us are sleeping and/or are occupied with many other things going on during the latter half of November.

Then, when the football playoffs finally reach the championship, you’re bumping up against Christmas/holiday season.  Then, around the holidays, teams frequently travel to–or host–tournaments involving teams outside their regular area (and, if possible, get a few days to relax with their families).

After New Year’s there are inevitably a few games postponed due to the bad weather (or heavy concerns about a storm’s potential anyway).  Despite no heavy precipitation, both high school and college games in our coverage area have been affected on a couple of occasions already since we flipped the calendar.

Next thing you know, you’re at the halfway point of the high school and college basketball seasons, and it’s time to take stock about what’s gone on so far—and what lies ahead as teams start to jockey for the best playoff positions.

Which brings us to this week’s “SportsTalk” show…

Morning Call Sports Writers Keith Groller and Lynn Worthy will be on the program to break down the first half of both the local college and scholastic hoops season, and also talk NFL playoffs and other issues being debated in the world of sports this week.

And…we’ll also discuss our high school basketball poll in more detail on this week’s program, along with allowing you, our viewers, to chime in and make your opinions be known.

A bit of background on our HS basketball polls, which are a little unique from any other ranking system out there…

Our pollsters are comprised of a combination of local media members (Morning Call’s Keith Groller, RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach, RCN basketball Announcers Tom Stoudt and Dennis Laub) and LehighValleyBasketballRankings.com’s Toomey Anderson).  We also have three distinguished head basketball coaches giving their insights on the top teams in the Lehigh Valley area.  We won’t reveal the names of the head coaches to avoid any “bulletin board” material or repercussions towards them—and allow them to be honest about their picks.

All District XI schools are eligible for the poll and will be divided into either our “big schools” (5A & 6A classifications) or “small schools” (4A & below) polls within the RCN footprint.

The “small schools” consist of Wilson, Saucon Valley, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame-GP, Palmerton, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.

The “big schools” are Bangor, Central, Southern Lehigh, Whitehall, Allen, Dieruff, Easton, Emmaus, Freedom, Liberty, Nazareth, E. Stroudsburg North & South, Pocono Mountain East, Pocono Mountain West, Stroudsburg, Northampton, Parkland, and Pleasant Valley.

So tune in to the show this Thursday at 7pm or catch the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk and let us know your basketball thoughts at the midway point of the season.

And a special note to our diehard wrestling fans: we’ll be taking a look at the action on the mats and previewing the upcoming post-season action on next week’s “SportsTalk” show (January 26 ).  If there’s a team, athlete or wrestling issue you’d like us to address on that show, be sure to email us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and tune-in for our panelists’ responses!

The SportsTalk Shop: “Catch-up Time”

First and foremost, I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday seasonyou’re your New Year is off to a flying start!

We have some big plans with our sports coverage coming down the pike here at RCN in 2017 and are glad you are on-board for the ride.

Before we get back into the swing of things and resume our double-header high school basketball coverage and weekly “SportsTalk” programming, I thought it would be good to play a little “catch-up” on some of the last video highlight packages we produced for our games and broadcast right before the holidays. Then we’ll get back to the “conference” basketball games on RCN-TV.

In addition to these highlights, don’t forget to check into “The Shop” next week as we resume our full-time coverage of high school hoops—and also give our insights, predictions and interviews about the second half of the high school basketball season.

As always, we appreciate you feedback and opinions of our sports coverage and any team or individual achievements during the first month of the winter sports season that might deserve some extra attention and/or mention during our “RCN SportsTalk” program.  Any sports comments about pro, college and high school sports are welcome as well.  Please email your thoughts to rcnsportstalk@rcn.com.

Also, don’t forget to catch our first “SportsTalk” show of 2017 as our in-studio guests will be Head Coach Doug Snyder and members of the Allen boys basketball team—recently named the #1 scholastic team in all of Pennsylvania.  The Canaries will talk about their season today and look ahead to a tough league schedule, this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV.  The show will also be available to watch through RCN On-Demand and you can hear the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk.

Be sure to tune in and support the Allen basketball team!

 

The SportsTalk Shop: 2016 Year-in-Review: Part Three

Thanks for checking back for our third and final installment of our reflections of the past year (please check out the last two weeks’ worth of blog entries for even more insights and memories of the year gone by).

Here are more of the sports categories that co-host Keith Groller and I came up with, in addition to topics suggested by our viewers, along with my “two-cents worth”:

Most Overplayed Story of 2016 (any level)
Athletes and coaches giving their political opinions and commentary on the Presidential race. Many have NO clue of what they are talking about. I could tell you many stories from when I covered pro athletes proving that they truly do not have a sense of the “common person issues.” For example, one Major League player once said the average person’s yearly salary was about $600,000!

Biggest Turnaround in 2016 (any level)
Penn State football

Most Lasting Image of 2016 (Local/National)
Local – Solehi girls basketball dominance in the local playoffs (both league after districts)
National – Penn State fans storming field after Ohio State game

Best Coaching Job of 2016
Nazareth Girls Basketball Head Coach Rich Bickert

Most Outstanding Individual Performance of 2016
Nazareth’s Travis Stefanik — in two sports … at the wrestling EPC Challenge (I think) … and in the 2nd half of his football game vs. Freedom: a force, just wouldn’t quit, took a few hard shots and just kept going and almost led his team all the way back from a 28-0 deficit.

Most Impressive Team Performance of 2016
Parkland boys basketball

Favorite Sports Moment of 2016
The many examples of teams getting involved in the community, out at young kids’ events, going to homeless shelters and other great charitable work I heard about this year!

And, for the “New Year” Predictions…

Toughest Coaching Challenge Looking Ahead
Dieruff football’s Kyle Beller

One team and player to watch in 2017
Players: Bangor’s Isaiah Jones (So) and Catty’s Jaylen Green
Team: Pen Argyl Girls Soccer program

Something “New” You’d Like to See in 2017
“Real” football playoff doubleheaders

One Piece of Advice for an Athlete/Coach in 2017
Head Coaches: “Hang in there” through adversity and other “strange stories” that they share with me — some of them VERY hard to believe what they have to go through!

These topics plus many more are discussed in much greater detail, along with some discussion/debating going on between Keith and me on the 60-minute special program. Be sure to catch the encore edition of our special “Year-in-Review” show that will be airing a couple more times over the next week. Check your RCN on-screen guide for details on when this show is airing.

In addition, you can also hear the podcast of our “2016 Year-in-Review” show at: rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk and RCN customers can watch the show, for free and at anytime, through RCN On-Demand.

I hope everyone has a great start to 2017 and joins us next week for more coverage, videos and sports highlight of teams in the RCN viewing area!

The Sports Talk Shop: 2016 Year-in-Review: Part Two

Happy Holidays to you!

I hope everybody is enjoying this special time of year. This week we have the second of three installments in looking back at some of the top players, teams, moments and events that made the 2016 sports calendar year so fun to cover for us here at RCN.

Here are some of the sports categories that come to mind when reflecting back on the last 12 months—along with a few of my thoughts on each (we go into more detail on our special TV program—see below for details)

Best Defensive Football Player in Eastern PA this fall
Jahan Worth. For the record, I touted his defensive on our football season preview show in August. I hope you heard that show; you can check out that show’s podcast here on the RCN-TV website if you’d like proof

Most Intriguing HS Teams
Dieruff boys volleyball / CCHS girls volleyball

Best & Worst Sports Decision Made in 2016 (any level)
Best – Emmaus hiring Harold Fairclough as their head football coach Worst – Just about every programming decision ESPN made this year

Best & Worst “Professional” Sports Story in Philly or DC
Best – Nationals making the playoffs and advancing to Game 5 in NLDS Worst – Caps losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs for 2nd straight year

Most Underrated Story (any level)
Successes of the Bangor baseball a and softball programs

A “Shout-out” to one sports personality this year
Catty’s Hanna Edwards (named one of the top 9 softball players in the entire country)

Sports Personality You Would Have Liked to Have Seen More Of
Liberty’s Carlo Perugini (overcame three ACL injuries to play in his first—and last–varsity football game this past fall). Carlo graduates in the spring.

Most Disappointing News of the Year (Any level)
Kyle Haas won’t be coming back to Becahi

Something Witnessed That You Hope To See Again In 2017
Great support for Colonial League title games…jammed packed McIntyre Gym for the Colonial League Basketball championship and a “more than half full” BASD Stadium for Notre Dame/Pen Argyl football championship

Something You Hope Doesn’t Repeat Next Year
Anti-private school comments directed towards kids during games/matches

Best Performance By An Underclassman
Beca’s Alec Huertas and Notre Dame’s Mikey DeGaetano

Don’t forget to check back for our next look-back installment of the top 2016 sports moments in the RCN viewing area, coming up in the next week here at the “SportsTalk Shop.” We are also presenting a special “Year-in-Review” show that is airing throughout this holiday season, in which we touch on even more of these great moments and special people in the Lehigh Valley, Delaware Valley and Washington DC/DMV region from 2016. Check your RCN on-screen guide for details on when this program airs.

You can also hear the podcast of this “Year-in-Review” show at: rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk

And, once again, a very happy holiday season and prosperous New Year’s to all of you faithfully following us here on the blog in 2016!

The SportsTalk Shop: Year-in-Review: Part One

As often as I try to do this—but probably still don’t do it enough … a HUGE THANK YOU to the wonderful women and men we’ve been so fortunate to have on “SportsTalk” as our guests this past year.  Here’s a quick look at only some of the very memorable people on our program during 2016 (in no particular order):

  • NFL/MLB Associated Press Writer Rob Maaddi
  • Hall of Fame/Philadelphia Eagles Radio Play-by-Play Voice Merrill Reese
  • Redskins Radio Announcer/Host Scott Jackson
  • ABC7 (DC) Sports Director Alex Parker
  • Detroit Pistons’ Guard Darrun Hilliard (former Liberty HS great)
  • Dallas Cowboys’ Wide Receiver KJ Williams (former Liberty HS great)
  • MLB.com Sr. Sports Writer Jim Callis
  • Nationals’ Beat Writer Bill Ladson
  • Nationals’ Play-by-Play Announcer Charlie Slowes
  • Olympians Marty Nothstein & Joetta Clark-Diggs
  • DCIAA Women’s Official/Fmr. Pro Football Player (and one of only three Varsity Head Football Coaches ever) Natalie Randolph
  • Joseph Basketball Standout / Fmr. DMV Star Isaiah Miles
  • George Washington Men’s Basketball Head Coaches Mike Lonergan
  • George Washington Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jen Rizzotti
  • Longtime Georgetown Men’s Basketball Play-by-Play Voice Rich Chvotkin & other Hoyas athletes
  • Lafayette College Head Basketball Coach Fran O’Hanlon
  • American University Head Basketball Coach Mike Brennan
  • Washington Times Redskins Beat Writer/CBS Radio’s Rick Snider
  • Washington Post Beat Writer’s Eric Goldstein
  • Philadelphia Daily News’ Jeff Moeller
  • Play-by-Play Announcers for Phillies & Nationals Minor League Affiliates: Mike Ventola, Matt Provence & Terry Byron
  • Head Coaches from HD Woodson, DeMatha, Sidwell Friends, Gonzaga High Schools
  • Championship teams including Parkland boys basketball team, Nazareth girls basketball team, Notre Dame football team, Emmaus field hockey team, Parkland volleyball team and others
  • NY Giants Beat Writer James Kratch
  • Washington Times Redskins/Nationals Beat Writer Todd Dybas
  • ESPN Radio (DC) Morning Show Host Kevin Sheehan
  • ESPN Radio (Philly) Morning Show Anchor/Host Eytan Shander
  • Redskins “Breaking Burgundy” Creator/Fmr. Comcast SportsNet “Insider” Ben Standig
  • “FootballStories” Magazine Editor/Show Hosts Al Thompson & Rock Hoffman
  • ESPN Draft Analyst/Fangraph’s Eric Longenhagen
  • Members of this year’s PA Football Hall of Fame Inductees
  • Writers from The Morning Call, Express-Times & LehighValley.com
  • All the RCN Sports Announcers & Commentators
  • Interviews with current Phillies & Nationals players & top prospects

Also, a reminder to watch our special “SportsTalk: 2016-in-Review” show that will be airing at different times on RCN-TV around the holiday season as Senior Morning Call Sports Writer Keith Groller and myself will take a look back at the top players, coaches, teams, special memories and more.  Our subject matter will be focused primarily on teams in the RCN-TV coverage area in the Lehigh Valley, Delaware Valley and Washington, DC regions, but we will mix in a few national topics of conversation as well.

You will also be able to hear the podcast of this show at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk as it will be made available over the next few days.

Now for “part one” of my year-in-review thoughts/reflections for just a few of the most requested topics of conversation over the last 12 months.

  • Pennsylvania’s New Classifications & Playoff System for HS Sports

No Lehigh Valley sports story came close to the interest (and complaining) of the revamped classification for PIAA sports and the outline of the playoff system.

 

  • The Rise & Fall of the Philadelphia Eagles


After having covered the Philadelphia Eagles for several years, I know that there’s no fan base that goes to greater extremes than the faithful followers of Philly’s NFL franchise.  Once the Eagles defeated (destroyed?) the Steelers Week 3, there was no containing the (insane?) amount of the enthusiasm for this team and its first-year head coach, first year quarterback, suspect wide receiving core, weak secondary, et al.  It was practically assumed a deep trek into the NFL inevitably and anyone (like, perhaps, me?) suggesting that the team was still a year away was dismissed as being an “overly negative media opinion.”

Then, reality sent in, sending the Eagles’ into a tailspin in which they have yet to recover, with everyone from Doug Pederson to Carson Wentz to Fletcher Cox falling under heavy scrutiny.

  • The Nationals Finally Getting to the Playoffs

The “SportsTalk” camera crew and I had the good fortune of seeing the Nationals’ top prospect Trea Turner play for Triple-A Syracuse (boy, did he put on a display!) and talked with him after an April game just shortly before he received his call-up to the Nationals.  Turner did not disappoint once he got to the Major Leagues—even with a position change from shortstop to center field while at the game’s highest level–and showed the same amazing abilities in helping Washington advance to the NLDS.

Don’t forget to check back for “part two” for more commentary on sports highlights from the 2016 calendar year in the next installment of the “SportsTalk Shop.”

And, of course, a very happy holiday season and prosperous New Year’s for all of you faithfully following us here on the blog in 2016!