SportsNet - March 2013
According to Sky Sports, Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker has denied recent transfer rumors he will move back to the Bundesliga this summer. His denials are great news for the Gunners, because they need their best defender.
That's exactly what Mertesacker is for Arsene Wenger's squad. Since his arrival in the summer of 2011, Mertesacker has endured a torrent of ill-judged and unfair criticism.
Many fans were not initially impressed with his name value and pounced on his well-known lack of pace. However, those critics missed or ignored the qualities that make Mertesacker an accomplished centre-back.
He exudes the kind of calm authority Arsenal's back line has missed during most of their eight-year trophy drought. Mertesacker is a true organiser at the back.
With apologies to the two or three Mid-Week Madness followers out there, we’re going to deviate from the norm the next couple of weeks until all this Big Dance stuff sorts out itself.
That being noted, we present a few things to watch as the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament unfolds, starting tonight and tomorrow night in Dayton, Ohio, with doubleheader play-in games – otherwise known as the first round.
Before touching that dial, or grabbing that remote with the jaws of life, here are some things and names to keep in mind, to ponder or just argue about. With a literary tip of the cap for what’s on tap, consider it an Elite-ish Eight approach to topics.
Peyton Siva, Louisville, senior G. Considering the Cardinals are the overall top seed, you’d expect plenty of chances to get a gander at this whirling dervish of quick feet and even quicker hands. The two-time Big East tourney MVP is worth several moments of your time and just might provide a memorable one.
The Clemson Tigers have always had a pretty goo dplan for its running backs, and the fans have generally had a pretty good idea of who was going to carry the load.
After James Davis departed in 2008, everyone knew CJ Spiller would keep the ground game alive. and when Spiller left, everyone knew Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington could get the job done. And even when Harper departed a year early, everyone knew Andre Ellington would be better as the main feature back in this offense.
Now, fans can't really say that there will be that one feature, 20-25 touch running back currently on the roster to shoulder the running game as the feature back in an offense that has featured a 1,000 running back the last two seasons since Chad Morris became the offensive coordinator. The spring gives the Tigers an opportunity to see what they have at the position with the departure of Ellington and who could step up before the recruits arrive.
It’s getting to be a little mid-major mania when it comes to March Madness anymore. For the second year in a row, the non-power conference lot has been bestowed 11 of the available 37 at-large berths for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
The Mountain West and Atlantic Ten head that list, grabbing four apiece. The bigger deal, really, is seeing the West Coast (Saint Mary’s), Sun Belt (Middle Tennessee State) and Missouri Valley (Wichita State) conferences squeeze an extra place beyond their automatic qualifiers.
Before going crazy about the tables turning, though, keep in mind that cycles happen and, frankly, are pretty common in sports. Just this millennium, in fact, we’ve seen a mid-major rising greater than this current “experience.” In 2003 and ’04, 22 of a total of 68 slots went to the non-power schools, including 12 of 34 that second year – which stands as the height of mid-major acceptance thus far.