My Mexico Diary 2017

It’s not everyday you get to go to another country so when the opportunity to go to Mexico aroused I knew I couldn’t say no. A lot of people from the beginning told me it was a bad idea. Mexico has been labeled as an unsafe country by the media especially for Americans after president Donald Trump threatened to build a wall between the two countries in an attempt to control illegal immigration and fix the drug problem. I wasn’t going to listen, I never do, and boy was it a good thing I didn’t.

4:00 AM 6/09: I use to be a morning person when I was a kid, I still am compared to some people I know but I think anyone can agree with me that hearing an alarm at this hour when it signals the beginning of your vacation is one you certainly won’t be hitting snooze on. So there I was, trying to come to my senses and get into Eric’s car as he agreed to drive me to the airport.

The next 11 hours consisted of airports and flying which I could go into detail about but no one wants to know, it can be all summed up into my inability to listen to directions from the TSA officer, inability to sleep, and awkward custom questioning in Mexico.

Fast forward to 2:00 local time in Mexico City. Two Americans standing like clueless idiots in the terminal trying to use our high school spanish education to find our way to the exit and order an Uber to our hotel. I made a stop at the money exchange booth on my way out and was astonished at how far the American dollar goes in Mexico. With the conversion rate about 16:1, it made it more exciting I could enjoy myself and not worry.

This was my first time leaving the country with the exception of Canada which is basically another state as the cultures are inseparable along the border except they have better poutine and free health care. I’ve seen videos and photos of impoverished areas and have spent a significant amount of time working with underprivileged people but nothing compared to the first five minutes in Mexico City.

While everyone was taking pictures and wasting in how cool it was to be there, it took me a little before I could vast. Building that you see abandoned or “run-down” in America are thriving businesses in Mexico. Dogs and people wonder the streets, most begging for a peso to eat. Then there was the smog and pollution smell. Now the air is thinner in Mexico city but I don’t think that made a difference just even harder to breathe. At first it seemed as though everyone was depressed but it was completely opposite. People have embraced this as their lives, probably because this is all they know.

Kids played in streets, garages were transformed into bars, people biked and walked, the traffic was worse than anything you could imagine but was still an efficient way of transportation. There traffic cops actually control traffic and keep it flowing. Not like the ones after the Sabres games who cause more of a back-up than the traffic lights would.

The rest of the night would be spent meeting up with friends as our various flights landed as well as meeting other Americans staying in our hotel and of course eating tacos and drinking margaritas. Also managed to catch the Cavs only win in the NBA finals.

5:00 AM 6/10: Now you’re probably thinking, what the hell are you doing setting an alarm on your first day of vacation? Ohh don’t worry, it took a lot of encouragement to do it too but I’m glad I did. We made our way downstairs and into another Uber over to another hotel to get on a bus that was going to take us to Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan is an archaeological site home of Aztec pyramids. We spent the morning with a tour guide learning about the different pyramids and meanings as well as climbing to the top of a few. Definitely wasn’t expecting a workout but it made it a lot easier to adjust to the altitude difference.

After an exhausting couple of hours we made our way over to the Azteca ranch where we were greeted with a buffet of food and five tequilas to taste test. If I wasn’t sold on Mexico by this point, I now was. I went into Mexico with the expectation of eating nothing but tacos for four days and I wasn’t upset in the slightest.

We eventually found our way back to the hotel and pool side on a rooftop pool overlooking Mexico City. This was only to kill time until the US Soccer sponsored welcome party and the infamous night before party. One of my favorite parts about US games is how easily it is to become friends with people from all over the country over one common interest.

8:00 AM 6/11: Finally! no alarm. It was game day and the excitement and nerves were already coming in. Andrew(roommate) and I went and got breakfast and took a walk around the city. Now we were only gone for 30-45 minutes and managed to see a pop up boxing ring, a carnival, a music festival, and a bike ride similar to what we know as the ride of Roswell. It’s safe to say Sundays in Mexico city are bopping.

When it was time to get on the bus to go to the tailgate and game is when things got real. We were put into coach buses and as one bus pulled away a cop pulled out in front of and behind it. Security was always going to be tight and necessary for away fans in Mexico, especially americans. Although the bus was in good spirits singing and chanting anything with the word America in it, I was too concerned with what was going to happen on the field. We really needed an impossible result and I knew Bruce was going to set us up to defend and one mistake would be game over.

The tailgate was at the equivalent of any rich guy’s house stereotyped in movies in Mexico. This beautiful gated in ranch with a covered patio full of food and drinks. Greeted by a mariachi band and later a DJ. tickets were handed out and everyone was in good spirits.

Then it came time to board the buses again and head over to the Azteca. Words cannot describe the feeling I was having. I wasn’t sure if I was in awe of being in the Azteca as it’s a dream of any soccer fan, or if the sight of rows of armed riot shield guards scared the literally crap outta me.

The greeting from the Mexicans was very diverse. Some were waving and smiling and taking pictures. Others were flipping us off and launching beer in our direction. It didn’t help the antagonization by the americans. We slowly got funneled into the gate and frisked. After taking our flags, scarves, bandanas, belts, and dignity we were escorted up into our section. In the section we were greeted by a perimeter of armed guards with riot shields and a 10 foot high steel barb wired fence. It would have been easier to escape prison.

Then came that magical moment by someone who doesn’t normally produce magic, that moment when Michael Bradley picked up the ball and chipped Ochoa from almost 40 yards out. At first I was startled, I wasn’t sure it went in, then the eruption. Every single American flung their arms up and started screaming and jumping around. Pure emotion rushed my heart it was hard to even breathe, seeing the national team i treasure and adore score away against their biggest rivals in a game where we needed a result against all odds was too much to handle…. then 10 minutes later it was 1-1.

The game ended in the midst of a downpour and eruption from the American fans. A huge point, we were all on top of the moon. As we hurried out of the stadium to the booze and jeers of Mexicans and the absolute abuse we didn’t even care. We were all so happy and proud of our boys. As we boarded the buses it may have just been the cold rain but i was silent and in shock. The ride home was a mixture of Miley Cyrus and Toby Keith being blared over the aux, it was a good day,

That night we all went our separate ways with the only thing on our minds being to celebrate and enjoy our last night in Mexico.

The next day we packed up and headed towards the airports, back to reality. Saying our goodbyes already anticipating the many games in July to look forward too when we aren’t photographers, accountants, marketers, doctors, just a group of people who love to watch soccer together.

Onto the next one, Nashville I’ll see ya soon…

My Three Favorite Football Experiences

I’ve attended at the time of writing this just over 100 matches in my life. This stretches across seven levels of football in the United States and Canada. I’ve been to World Cup Qualifiers, cup matches, and everything in between. Here is a list of my three favorite match day experiences to date.

3. FC Buffalo @ Detroit City FC

For anyone who knows me, I’ve got a huge interest and soft spot for non-league football. Largely in part due to with my local team is in the fourth tier of US Soccer. How can you beat a $30.00 season ticket and the intimacy and family feeling of it? A huge rivalry that has developed in the NPSL is FC Buffalo against Detroit. Not only do Detroit have one of the largest followings in the NPSL, they’re one of the only teams to own their own stadium. As soon as they announced they’d be playing at their new stadium in 2016, I circled the day Buffalo would be in town. Now I’d never make a trip to Detroit to not watch Buffalo play, I don’t think I could put up with the quality of soccer but the exception is made for Buffalo.  Detroit are internationally known for their supporters group, Northern Guard. Over the years I’ve made my fair share of friends and enemies in the Northern Guard and getting to hangout with them for the day made this day all that better. Northern Guard are known for their “hooligan appearance” but between you and me can’t decide if they want to be social justice warriors or ultras. Neither the less what they’ve put together was something truly awesome and getting to experience it in person was a necessity. The stadium has a very English feel to it. You walk down a suburban neighborhood into the gates of the stadium. The stadium use to be that of a local school district but for quite sometime was neglected. The city of Hamtramck agreed to lease it to the team for I believe $1.00 and the team and its supporters were allowed to make it their own and boy did they do nothing but. Northern Guard definitely have a “hippy vibe” and I really don’t know any other way to describe it. Craft beers/IPA’s are sold at stands, food truck style food sold, and a uniquely dressed crowd never short of 3,000. Unfortunately Buffalo lost the game 2-1 but neither the less it was an action packed game. Overall Keyworth Stadium isn’t in the best of areas but Detroit and their front office make it a much do for any soccer fan in America.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 2.02.01 PM.png

(Photo by: Dion Degennaro- NGS Head of Communications)

2. Seattle Sounders @ Toronto FC (MLS Cup 2016)

MLS Cup… Something as a Union fan I’ve yet to experience not as a neutral. Being a huge MLS fan of course I planned on watching it I just didn’t know who I was gonna root for. Well that quickly changed when I recieved a message asking if I wanted to go to the game. Regardless of where the game was my answer was always gonna be “Hell Yeah”. Luckily for me Toronto is just over a two hour drive away and BMO Stadium is the closest MLS stadium to Bufalo. I’ve been there previously almost 10 times now so I knew what I was getting myself into but no previous knowledge could prepare me for what I was about to experience. Not only did we have game tickets, we had VIP passes to the MLS pre/post game party. Not trying to sound full of myself but I’ve rubbed shoulders with my fair share of famous people to the point it’s cool to talk to them more than just to be in the same room as them. I met players, coaches, owners, and anyone else in MLS you’d want too. My favorite person by far was Keegan Rosenberry and of course Sacha Klestjan’s mustache in person is as glorious as you’d think. I also had a fun little bathroom encounter with a drunk Sunil Gulati that I won;t go into detail about. Inside the match is really all that I cared about anyways and that was electrifying. 40,000 plus Canadians strong singing the anthem as well as the flyover was enough to literally scare the shit out of me which I was trying to take in peace. The match went on and of course the Sounder’s fans were out numbered but their presence didn’t go unheard. I won’t tell you how the game went because by now you should know but if you don’t go watch the highlights. I prioritized myself the entire game to mock Michael Bradley as often as I could. As a neutral this was the best game I could of asked to experience and the hype and money that goes into getting a cup final ticket is defintiely worth it. I can only imagine how lit MLS Cup is gonna be when the Union make it.

C-_4-KGXkAIXwgl.jpg

  1. Mexico @ United States (11/11/16 World Cup Qualifier)

Ohh how it still pains me to talk about this game. Yes, the United States lost and it’s the greatest experience you’ve ever had? Yes. The stage was set. First game of the Hex, against our biggest rivals, in the stadium we never fail to beat Mexico in, in the lead-up to the biggest stage of World football, ohh the anticipation was unreal. I want to say it was the middle of summer when the game was announced and I secured my ticket so you could imagine the time that elapsed and the build-up that grew. A lot of pressure was on especially for Jurgen Klinsmann who needed a solid start to qualifying after a shakey last year. Little did anyone know this would be his last home game. What puts USA games on a different level is the experience starts the night before. If you want to read into the specifics you can read my blog from that weekend in Columbus which you can find here. No doubt is there a lot of passion that goes into club football but nothing compares to the nationalism for USA games. Everyone wants America to be the best and can get behind the national team because it’s America. Everywhere you look its red, white, and blue. America is known for its patriotism and that flourishes amongst national team supporters. Crew Stadium is a gorgeous stadium and designed to hold sound with its medal beachers and cover over the supporters section. Up until kickoff I was filled with nothing but anxiety and as soon as that national anthem was belted out by 1,000s of Americans I was filled with nothing but pride. Luckily we get a seocnd shot at this game, at the mecca of soccer stadiums, the Azteca. I’ll see you there Mexico…

14955781_366466923701008_535963339845467206_n.jpg

MY FIRST TRIP TO CITI FIELD

Spring of 2017 is here and time for another much anticipated baseball season. One of my best friend’s Eric and I are both massive fans of the game, yes we have are respected teams we root for day in and day out(Eric- Red Sox, Me-Yankees), we will never pass up and opportunity to watch baseball. Last summer we decided we were going to attend a baseball game at every MLB Stadium before we die. Thirty stadiums. Two guys.

Money was always going to be of the concern considering we live in Buffalo, New York and California(the farthest state from us) has six teams alone, it isn’t going to be easy.

Prior to this trip, we’ve attended games at Yankee Stadium, Rogers Centre, PNC Park, and a few minor league ballparks. Separately we’ve been to more stadiums but its only getting crossed off the list if we’ve gone together and bring home a souvenir cup. We wanted to do hats but we each only have one head and in some parks could spend more on a hat than admission.

We decided that the first game this year was going to be Citi Field in Queens, New York. Citi Field is tied for the fifth newest ballpark in the MLB along with it’s subway rivals Yankee Stadium and home to the New York Mets. Little did we know when we booked this trip back in February how great it was going to be.

Eric goes to Syracuse University so first order of business was driving up to Syracuse, which if you’ve never driven the thruway across or down state, it is nothing but trees and after awhile you feel like you’re going insane.

Make it to Syracuse and as tradition we have to play the game we’re going to see on MLB The Show, which predicted a narrow Mets win 3-2 over Atlanta. Go to bed and get ready to roll the next morning.

Fast forward through five hours of traffic, trees, Chick-Fil-A, Krispy Kreme, Drake and we arrive in New York. Citi Field is right on the Hudson River and at first glance is miraculous. You pull into the parking lot and to your left is Citi Field and to your right in spitting distance is the Hudson. We entered through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda as it was recommended to us and that was something I’ve never seen before. The concourse was a circle and around it was pictures of Jackie Robinson with quotes all beautifully done up in brick with a giant fluorescent blue “42” in the middle. For a player who never played for the Mets, they sure did make a special tribute to arguably one of the most important figures in the development of modern baseball.

When we reached the main level, we shooted out into left center for the remainder of BP taking it all in. We were close to a few home runs and toss ups but left empty handed. It is a hitters ballpark that’s for sure and if I would have paid more attention to the hitters could have easily put myself into better ballhawking positions.

Not only was this only the second game of the season, it was Bartolo Colon’s return to Citi Field. Everyone gave him a standing ovation when he took the mound and prior to his first at bat. Bartolo is a lights out picture and quite frankly that’s the only reason he still has a job because his hitting is worse than Jackie Bradley JR’s his rookie year.

Citi Field has a lot on game day, a little something for everyone. They have a kids land overlooking the skyline with batting cages, and a photo opportunity with Mr. Met. They have a variety of food options in tradition with very street style New York food ranges from your classic hot dog(My choice always) to pulled pork and Italian sausage.

We scalped out better seats ending up in left field in the second deck which on top of being an upgrade, protected us from the bitter cold wind gusting in off the river. Through 4 and a half innings the game was hitless. For Mets and Braves fans or the casual fan it must have been miserable but for super fans like Eric and I, it was a pitching battle for the ages between Jacob De Grom and as previously mentioned Bartolo Colon.

The Braves got onto the board through some small ball and then was cancelled out by a shot to left center by Neil Walker. The game remained tied through the ninth which meant free baseball!

By then the stadium was almost empty apart from a few diehard mets fans going into the twelfth. The Braves put runners on bases and Matt Kemp hit a two run double into the gap to put the Braves up 3-1 and the Mets to bed. Game over.

As we watched this game as a neutral and as it went into extras we looked no different than the diehard mets fans. We always end up rooting for the home team especially when they’re is an opportunity at a walk off because who doesn’t wanna celebrate one?!

Eric and I would agree as a neutral it was one of the best games we watched. Maybe not the best ballpark(that title stays with PNC Park) but a great outing for our first game of the season and another one off the list.

Follow me on Twitter: @JonathanMolik

Follow Eric on Twitter: @eric_depaz

Balancing Being a Millennial and a Catholic

“Lets go to that party”, “Lets go to that bar”, “Lets go here”, “My parents aren’t home come over”…

If I had a nickel for every time I heard one of the above statements, I wouldn’t be rich but I’d have a substantial amount of money. To all my fellow millennials, I bet I’m not alone and as you know, most of them are prefaces to a very bad idea or something we shouldn’t be doing. Whether that’d be alcohol, drugs, sex, and anything else you can include in that category.

Most, not all, but a fair majority of millenials have a hard time saying no. They either don’t wanna be left out or singled out, or they see no issue with it. Very few are going to bring up Religious reasons or legal reasons, it’s all bout having fun, the will power and morals go out the window.

For me, my friends by now know I’ll never judge anyone else’s life decisions if they accept and respect my religious reasonings for not participating. Others looking in from the outside just think it’s because I’m “incapable” and I use it as an excuse. Your never going to convince everyone of your reasoning because everyone already has a predecived notion of the situation they’re too stubborn or insecure to change.

Unlike some people of my generation, my weekend is debating whether I should go out with friends so I’m not completely wasting my teenage years but doing it responsibly enough that I won’t struggle waking up and going to Church in a good mood.

When I asked my Twitter following there preferred Saturday night activities, this is the response I got…

(You need to vote to see the results)

The results weren’t overwhelming but still what I expected and that’s okay, I’m not here to tell others not to live their life the way they want too, I’m here to tell you how I live mine and give you advise to do the same.

Not only do my day to day plans vary from a lot of kids my age, my long term budgeting plans do too. “Hey Jon, wanna go to the hockey game Thursday night? “No sorry I have Youth Group.” “Hey Jon, we’re going to Florida for Spring break next year, wanna go?” “Hey sorry but I can’t really budget for that, World Youth Day is under two years away now.” “Our favorite band is coming to Darien Lake, wanna go?” “Sorry I already bought concert tickets for all next weekend their, it’s kingdom bound.” Not that I regret any of this, but you pick and you choose what’s better for you.

This is very rarely a problem anymore but indirectly people bring it up and it makes me rethink things. For example, I have a bright colorful sticker on my phone that reads “Porn is Lame”, people either respond verbally with “what the fuck” and laugh or that “what the fuck” look. As I’m writing this in the library right now, people are giving me a weird look.

Millennial’s do this I think because they’re afraid of asking themselves and God where they stand on these things and don’t ask themselves why they’re laughing. I get it, not everyone is Catholic or Religious for that matter but can still ask themselves the questions that could affect their life choices.

As a catechist and working predominately with middle school and high school kids, it’s evident not everyone is comfortable with talking about their faith especially in front of their peers. A lot of the time we split them up into smaller groups and it makes them talk a little more but they respond best when they see someone they respect or look up too do it or when you make it fun.

A speaker who’s really opened my mind and voice and the genius behind the “Porn is Lame” is Matt Fradd, you can see his stuff here. When someone is knowledgable about his subject, can take it completely seriously, and not make you feel like you’re a bad person and convey the messages he does is truly something special and is a huge inspiration to me. Another one is Justin Fatica, you can find his ministry here.

No one ever said it was going to be easy following Christ and getting into this line of work, but to get one kid or one of my peers to join me on a Saturday night and have a bible study and get them to see this as a millennial norm, makes it all worth it.

P.S I’m writing a book on my faith journey and my observations being apart of the Church for my entire life and I’m not setting a deadline but 2018 is the goal 🙂

God Bless,

Jonathan

Questions? Want someone to talk too? Contact me….

Twitter: @JonathanMolik

Email: italainmolik16@gmail.com

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 12.59.43 PM.png

WISCONSIN UPSET DEFENDING CHAMPIONS VILLANOVA 65-62

In the last game of the day, Villanova squared off with Wisconsin. Wisconsin looking to upset the tournament favorites. Villanova are going to have to come out stronger than they did on Thursday against Mount St Mary’s. While as Wisconsin will look towards senior Bronson Koening and junior Ethan Happ to put points on the board against a strong Villanova defense.

Josh Hart with the games opening basket off tip, goes back down the court shortly and is fouled by Nigel Hayes, he makes one of two from the line.

Vitto Brown gets Wisconsin’s first points of the game from deep. Followed up by Nigel Hayes getting hacked down by Bridges, misses both.

Wisconsin playing tight man to man defense not allowing any shooting room, as for Villanova, they aren’t afraid of the Wisconsin three and focusing on guarding the paint. Both teams forcing each other into long possessions.

Ethan Happs twice now has gotten in deep and Villanova unable to cope with the 6-10 junior. He has four points thus far.

Timeout on the floor with 11:49 left in the half. Wisconsin lead 12-10. Wisconsin being allowed an extra split second on offense and is punishing Villanova for it. Vitto Brown knocking down two uncontested threes. As for Villanova, they’re just technically better on offense and Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo are working the perimeter moving the ball quickly giving little time for Wisconsin to adjust but have managed well.

8:24 left in the half, teams going end to end exchanging baskets. Josh Hart with a quick five points for Nova to bring the game within three.

Opportunities going wayward for both teams. Wisconsin allowing no space for Villanova to shoot but on the other end not always capitalizing on the opportunities they’re getting. Villanova has three offensive rebounds which has either lead to buckets or free throws. If Wisconsin control the boards in the second half, this game could look a lot different.

Overall in the first half, Wisconsin circling the ball a lot better than Villanova and work as a unit. You take Hart and DiVincenzo out of that offense and Villanova might as well go home.

The score at the half is Wisconsin 31, Villanova 27.

Wisconsin being lead by Bronson Koening and Vitto Brown both with nine points. As a team shooting 54.2% from the field but being kept in this game by their strong man to man defense. They are also leading 14-4 in points in the paint not having to rely on shooting deep.

Villanova yet again are going to need a second half to try and crawl their way back. They’re being lead offensively by Josh Hart with 10 points and Donte DiVincenzo who has nine off the bench. As a team they’re 8-27 from the field and have nothing to show for it, most of which being forced shots in bad areas.

Wisconsin are so patient on offense and can afford to be when they’re hitting over 50% of their shots. Nova on the other hand, it’s fast break or struggle badly.

15:33 left in the game. Wisconsin lead 37-33.

Bronson Koening gets his fourth personal foul of the game with over 13 minutes to play. Nova take advantage and the lead.

9:55 to go and Wisconsin took their foot off the gas pedal. Villanova has jumped out ahead and lead 48-43.

Nigel Hayes having a big day especially in the offensive board category. A lot of Wisconsin points coming from second opportunities.

Donte DiVincenzo knocks down two consecutive shots for five points. Nova putting this game to bed up seven with five minutes to go.

Wisconsin fight back and Bronson Koening hits a three followed by an Ethan Happ bucket. Wisconsin back in front.

Bronson Koening steps up big and knocks down another three, Jalen Bronson answers back. Wisconsin winning 62-61 with 1:24 left.

UPSET! WISCONSIN HOLD ON TO BEAT VILLANOVA 65-62.

Bronson Koening coming back into this game was a game changer, he finished with 17 points and Nigel Hayes finished with 19. Four of Wisconsin’s five starters were in double digits for points.

Josh Hart’s 19 points and Donte DiVincenzo’s 15 off the bench were not enough to take down the Badgers.

That’ll do it for my coverage of the March Madness tournament. God Bless.

@JonathanMolik

 

Mountaineers Take The Fight To The Fighting Irish On Way To 83-71 Win

Second Round March Madness basketball is finally here on another snowy day in Buffalo, New York. Today’s first game is between Notre Dame and West Virginia.

Elijah Macon with the games first basket for West Virginia. Treyvon Myers hits the corner three and West Virginia pull ahead early 7-0. Followed by Daxter Myles three. 10-0 WV and ND call a timeout with 16:47 remaining in the first.

Notre Dame go on an impressive 11-5 run. Back and forth quick pace game. Notre Dame doing a good job recognizing they have to take their opportunities. Matt Farrell doing a goo job at shooting off the dribble. Virginia collapse into the paint when ball is deep and leaves the runner. Bonzie Colson did a nice job of running in from the arc for the lay in.

At the half, West Virginia lead Notre Dame 42-35. Leading the way for West Virginia is Jevon Carter with 13 and for Notre Dame Bonzie Colson with 9.

Notre Dame frustrated with the press and committing unusual turnovers for them with 10 in the first half, one more than season average and are going to get themselves into foul trouble early. Defensively solid and taking opportunities well on offense.

West Virginia moving the ball well on offense. Moving fast and taking their shots from good angles. The infamous press clearly frustrating Notre Dame and forcing turnover transition points. If they continue to press high, Notre Dame not shooting from deep unless they have too.

When your star player(Bonzie Colson) has three fouls this early, Mike Brey is going to have to rely on his bench to dig them out of this hole.

Jevon Carter knocks the three, Virginia steal it back off the inbound and Esa Ahmad throws it down. It might not seem like it but West Virginia are in complete control of this game.

15:39 remaining in the game. West Virginia lead 48-41.

Teams exchange threes, Notre Dame can’t catch a break. WV lead 57-47 with 11:25 left.

9:47 left in the game and Bonzie Colson on his fourth personal foul. Interesting decision to leave him in, I guess it’s now or never.

Timeout on the floor with 63-54 lead for West Virginia with 7:06 left. Notre Dame continuing to fight offensively taking good shots and making them. Defensively in serious foul trouble.

West Virginia interesting set-up on defense in the 2-1-2 with the big man Elijah Macon in the middle. Man on the ball has two close in on him, if he passes across Macon is their for the steal, if they get in behind, no one down low. Notre Dame are knocking down threes when they can but unable to free the man down low. Mike Brey certainly must be looking to draw something up down by nine with 3:34 to go.

West Virginia late doing a good job of forcing Notre Dame to use all 30 seconds on their shot clock and all 30 on offense. Starting to have less motivation. Settling for mediocre shots banking on fouls. Looks like they’re experimenting with practice court set pieces.

Final Score: West Virginia 83-71 Notre Dame

West Virginia were lead by Jevon Carter with 24 points and a big boost from Tarik Philips who had 12 points off the board. Bonzie Colson had 27 points but wasn’t enough support around him. West Virginia pressed and forced ND into turnovers and frustration and capitalized on early opportunities on the transition. Settled in and shot equally as well not on the break. Deserved win.

@JonathanMolik

Wisconsin outshoot Tech In High Scoring Thriller 84-74

In the fourth and final game today. Virginia Tech gets set to square off against Wisconsin.

Game Thread:

Virginia Tech win the tip and we’re underway….

Justin Bibbs gets the first basket of the game and drains the and one. 4-0 VT lead.

Bronson Koening hits the three for to put Wisconsin on the board quickly followed by a Zach Showalter three.

Zach LeDay gets the offensive board and throws it down for VT. Game tied at 6-6 after a long stretch of back and forth. Both teams look defensively solid. 14:58 to go.

Wisconsin playing tight man to man coverage, VT gonna have to continue to shoot well from the field or there gonna get shutdown.

Ethan Happ gets in behind off a nice feed and has an east lay-in. 15-12 Wisconsin lead with 11:03 remaining. Khadim Sy fouls Khalil Iverson who makes one of two from the line.

Ty Outlaw drive to the basket and gets it to go for VT answere don the other end by Vitto Brown. Only way teams seem to be having success is by putting head down and driving and crashing boards. Perimeter is locked.

Ty Outlaw bangs the three after it looked like Ahmed Hill tried calling an audible. Answered on the other end by Wisconsin and answered again by VT answered by three from Wisconsin answered by Ahmed Hill again. Back and forth action. No defense in the building, that all left with West Virginia. 25-21 Wisconsin with 5:40 left.

Buzz Williams fired up after Vitto Brown levels Justin Robinson. Timeout on the court.

Timeout with 3:27 left in the first half. Wisconsin up 28-21. VT ball out of the break, go down and win the ball underneath and Ty Outlaw drains a three off the inbound.

Khalil Iverson goes over top of everyone with a monster dunk, Zach LeDay goes down and answers. Tech can’t catch a break to get back into this.

Zak Showalter bangs a three and Wisconsin win back the ball and take it back down and out of bounds, Badgers retain.

There’s the halftime whistle. Wisconsin lead Virginia Tech 34-30. Bronson Kroening leads the way with 11 points for the Badgers while Ty Outlaw leads Tech with 10.

Ethan Happ inbounds the ball and the second half is underway, he gets it back and off a nice spin move kisses it off the glass. Khadim Sy responds with his own layup.

Vitto Brown left wide open on the top of the arc and drains the three. Tech needs to watch their marking. Down on the other end, Ty Outlaw responds with his own three. Which is responded by another Wisconsin three this time by Bronson Koening.

Tech is letting Wisconsin shoot and it’s probably not the best game plan with a hot Bronson Koening. Wisconsin on their game are going to punish you in and outside the arc.

Ball jammed between backboard and rim, that does’t happen everyday. Leads to timeout with 15:42 remaining. Wisconsin lead 44-37.

Seth Allen drives, hacked on the way up. Couldn’t get the roller to go. Shooting two from the line and makes one.

Tech is spending this entire game trying to cheat on their guarding and drop their man and double up on someone else leaving players wide open in the corner Wisconsin doesn’t have the eyes to see. This game should be a lot worse than it really is.

D’Mitrik Trice drains the three for Wisconsin and Ty Outlaw answers right back with one of his own. Timeout with 13:15 left. Wisconsin lead 47-45.

Bronson Koening continues to be hot dropping another three. Tech answer back through Seth Allen. Neither team able to catch a break.

Bronson Koening again from deep. Tech can’t guard the perimeter to save their lives. Once again Zach LeDay goes down and answers right back. Tech win back the ball and feed LeDay who throws one down one handed.

Bronson Koening hits another three to give the Badgers a four point lead. He’s now 6-12 from beyond the arc with a total of 20 points.

Wisconsin with nine team fouls with 6:46 to go. Those one and ones could be the difference maker and Tech just drained two to make it 67-63 Wisconsin.

Seth Allen just walks to the line, pulls up and drains a three uncontested. Ethan Happ answers with a bucket of his own. Three point game.

Zak Showalter fouls out with 5:37 left. LeDay brings it within one.

Zach LeDay fouled on his way up. Goes to line and makes one. Three point ballgame. 4:39 left.

Bronson Koening misses the three, Tech bring it up the other way and draws the foul. Robinson going to line to shoot two. One point game now.

Nigel Hayes with the offensive board and draws the foul from LeDay. He’s to the line for two and makes them both.

Nigel Hayes again gets down low and gets it to go and draws the foul. He sinks the free throw. Four point game. Ethan Happ follows that up with a put back. Six point lead for the Badgers.

Final Score: Wisconsin 84-74 Virginia Tech

Bronson Koening lead the way with 28 points for the Badgers and Zach LeDay although fouling out ended his career with 23 points.

@JonathanMolik

Villanova Thrash Hopeful Mount Saint Marys 76-56

Villanova vs. Mount Saint Mary’s Game Thread:

In the third game of the day here in Buffalo, its the defending national champion’s turn to play as they look to start their journey to go back to back against 16th seeded Mount Saint Mary’s.

Two minutes in and already two block buster swats. One from Chris Wray and Mawdo Sallah. Mount St. Mary’s with the fist basket of the game from freshman Miles Wilson.

Kris Jenkins airs a shot for Villanova and Mary’s resets. Mary’s doing well to not let any shot go uncontested.

Junior Robinson drains a three after a quick transition for Mary’s. Villanova being pressed and frustrated. Mary’s playing a tight man to man defense and winning the rebound battle and looking for their opportunities on the fast break. Excellent through the first five minutes so far.

Miles Wilson off the dribble fades and drops it in from close range. Villanova go down the other end and get their first bucket of the night through Donte DiVincenzo.

Elijah Long drops a three to extend Mary’s lead to 10-2 until Villanova go down the other way and score through Jalen Brunson. Greg Alexander goes up and swats away a Villanova attempt.

Senior sensation Josh Hart gets his first points of the night on a long three. Play goes back the other way and Elijah Long draws the foul on Josh Hart, already his second of the game less than nine minutes in.

Teams exchanging points and opportunities. End to end action here with just under eight minutes to go. Mary’s up 16-11.

Miles Wilson so far is 2-6 from the field. Kid has a lot of learning to do to keep his head up. Caught up in the moment a little. Villanova are making it easy for him being all over the place on defense, letting Mary’s shoot.

Kris Jenkins goes to the line to shoot three and makes all three to draw the game level. Mary’s goes up the other end and Miles Wilson drains a three to make it 21-18 with five minutes to go.

Elijah Long draws two and with a beautiful no look pass dishes off to Chris Wray wide open underneath canceled out by a Dante DiVincenzo bucket. 23-22 Mary’s with 3:10 left.

Teams exchanging possession and baskets and the half ends Villanova 30, Mount Saint Mary’s 29. Leading the way in scoring for Mary’s is Miles Wilson with 13 and for Villanova Jalen Brunson with 10.

Three minutes into the second half and Villanova go on an 8-2 run. Timeout called. Jay Wright clearly lit some fire under his players, can’t take anyone lightly in this tournament.

Eric Paschall strips Mary’s and throws down an emphatic dunk to extend the lead to nine points with 15:13 left in the game. Play resumes and Nova rush down the court and find a wide open Dante DiVincenzo in the corner for three.

Pick six for Elijah Long, high press for Mary’s actually working for a brief moment. Nova are too good of a team who are finding ways to split Mary’s open. Nova drawing two into the high ball carrier leaving men wide open in the corners.

No organizations leads to a Josh Hart drive and finish. Nova up 51-35 with 12:24 left. Mary’s calls a timeout. Out of the timeout, Elijah Long knocks down a three.

Villanova holding that line high along the arc forcing Mary’s to shoot, excellent defense. Elijah Long being taken out of the game or how much you can actually take him out.

Donte DiVincenzo on a break all alone, tries to throw it down one handed and misses but follows it up next time down the floor with a three. 59-45 Nova with 5:40 left.

Under four minutes to go, Mikal Bridges drives and on the reversal gets it to and one. Villanova moving the ball and transitioning like national champs again.

Under a minute to go now and it looks like Villanova have this one in the bag.

Final Score Villanova 76-56 Mount Saint Mary

Leading the way in points for Villanova was Donte DiVincenzo with 21 points off the bench and for Mary’s was Miles Wilson with 22.

@JonathanMolik

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑