Sorry for the abbreviated blog today. I'm in a NyQuil inducted coma and feeling like crap. I watched the Crosstown Classic under my covers last night. Catch you at 6:05.
6:05, The Roundtable Show, with John Thornton
UC, XU renew rivalry in calmer fashion
So they played a basketball game last night in U.S. Bank Arena, which should have met the wrecking ball years ago. It was cold inside, and the restroom lines stretched 12-deep onto the concourse during timeouts. No birds were spotted in the rafters. No punches were thrown on the court. In a place that reeks of time gone by, Xavier and Cincinnati returned to make certain at least one tradition goes on. The Bearcats won, but, really, all basketball fans in this town did. The night helped further heal some of the wounds from last year's debacle. More improvement next year, and perhaps the Crosstown Classic can return to campus sites where college sports belong.
The Bengals have named CB Leon Hall as the recipient of this year’s Ed Block Courage Award.
The award honors players who demonstrate commitment to the values of sportsmanship and courage. Each NFL team selects one player as its nominee. Hall will be honored with other teams’ recipients at the annual awards banquet in Baltimore after the 2012 season.
Hall’s 2011 season was cut short, when in Game 9, Nov 13 vs. Pittsburgh, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Bengals head athletic trainer Paul Sparling said that, due to the nature of the injury, early projections from the Bengals’ medical staff had Hall starting the ’12 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
But Hall’s intense rehabilitation efforts sped his recovery so much that he “far surpassed that initial timeline,” Sparling said, enabling him to fully participate in practice on the first day of training camp – less than nine months removed from the injury. He was in the Bengals’ starting lineup on opening day of this season.
“Leon approached the rehabilitation from his Achilles tendon injury last season with determination to beat the odds and return to play by the start of the season,” Sparling said. “He put forth the effort, time and energy in his recovery and rehabilitation to give himself the best chance to do just that.
“He set a great example of what it takes to be able to overcome a challenge, which was recognized by his teammates in being selected to represent the club for this award.”
Hall, a sixth-year pro, has played and started 12 of 14 games this season, missing two games early in the year due to a calf strain. He has totals of 38 tackles, 10 passes defensed (second on team) and two special teams tackles. He has one INT this season, coming Dec. 13 at Philadelphia, when his pick and subsequent 44-yard return set up a Bengals TD, shifting the momentum in what resulted in a 34-13 Bengals victory.
Stats Insight: Hits on QB/hitting QB
The Bengals are tied with the NFC-West leading San Francisco 49ers in having allowed the fewest hits on their quarterback. The Bengals are also ranked fifth in hits on the opposing quarterback through week 15 according to the Bloomberg Sports Pocket Watch Analytics.
Are the Bengals ready to walk into this?: Steelers/Renegade
Q/A with Ryan Hanigan
DL: You have more walks than strikeouts since you’ve reached the big leagues.
RH: I can’t chase out of the zone. That’s not going to do me any good. Second of all, I don’t get worried about hitting with two strikes. I feel more comfortable after I’ve seen pitches, because I know exactly how the ball moves and what the spin is. Once a guy has thrown me a couple of pitches, I can see if he’s trying to pitch me soft or if he’s trying to challenge me hard. There’s give and take to that in the big leagues, because you get guys that are just nasty and you don’t want to fall behind them. A level of aggressiveness is always needed, and it’s a matter of figuring out when the right time is to be aggressive. I could talk about that for hours.
Crosstown Classic: What they are saying
Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News: What we learned as No. 11 Cincinnati recovered from its early offensive struggles to post a commanding 60-45 victory in the newly renamed Crosstown Classic rivalry:
1. Xavier and Cincinnati can play nice. Players and coaches from both sides shook hands following the national anthem. The dance teams did a routine together. The cheerleaders shared the court during the first media timeout of the second half. The bands staged a free throw competition at halftime. (Hard to believe neither band had a shooter better than the two who competed). The only ugly things about the evening were the venue—the dank and outdated U.S. Bank Arena—and the first 20 minutes of basketball the Bearcats (11-0) and Musketeers (7-3) put on display: a total of 16 turnovers by the two teams, 27 errant shots from the Bearcats, six missed free throws by the Musketeers.
Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News: There were the 20 minutes played immediately after tipoff, during which time the No. 11 Bearcats turned over the ball nine times, missed 27 shots and fell behind by as many as five points. There were the 20 minutes played following the halftime break, when the Bearcats constricted Xavier with fullcourt pressure that produced four turnovers in the first four minutes and completely turned the game toward Cincinnati, which claimed a 60-45 victory Wednesday night.
Andy Katz, ESPN:The Bearcats' win kept them undefeated at 11-0, while Xavier dropped to 7-3. And more importantly, the game survived. No incidents. No embarrassments.The question now will be where it lives -- on campus or on a neutral court? The two schools are getting along well and showing unity, but it's unknown if they can agree on where to play this game in 2013 and beyond.
Fox Sports Ohio: Cronin said the atmosphere in U.S. Bank Arena was "off the charts," and for much of the game he was right. But the celebration was tempered afterwards, and Cronin's postgame message to his team focused on improvement. He said his team isn't currently good enough offensively to win the Big East and the big games that lie beyond that, and though he's fully aware of what the annual Xavier-Cincinnati game means to the city and the 14,528 who came out to see it, in an on-court postgame interview he called it "the most overrated game in history."
Yahoo Sports: The 2011 Crosstown Shootout epitomized everything that can go wrong in a rivalry game. The 2012 edition exemplified everything that can go right.
Video: Xavier postgame
Video: Cincinnati postgame
Postgame quotes and notes from UC
Paul Dehner Jr, GoBearcats.com: A unique ebb and flow exists when both fan bases are represented inside the same arena. With red split down the middle against blue, no lulls exist. A Xavier run brought energy from the South, a UC run elicited energy from the North. No moments of calm quash chaos. Not in this atmosphere. Momentum lived in every second and could be monitored by decibel levels.
Associated Press: No technical fouls. No flying elbows. No rubbing it in. In a new setting, the city's annual crosstown basketball game was back to being a good old rivalry. And a rather amicable one at that.
Tweet, tweet: Cashmere Wright, JaQuon Parker, + Sean Kilpatrick 51, Xavier 45. Best back court in Big East. Bearcats now 11-0 after 60-45 win.
Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein), CBS Sports Network
Highlights from Xavier:
Open highways on the road
Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com
Andy Dalton, the new era Bengals quarterback, finds himself right where he wants to be heading into the game that may define the first two seasons of the epoch he ushered in with A.J. Green last year.
Steelers offense turning into messy drama
The Sporting News
The relationship between a quarterback and his play-caller is one of the most critical on Sundays. It's hard enough to play quarterback if you feel good about the offensive scheme and the plays being called. It gets harder if you don't.
Kitna finds 'gold mine' at his troubled old high school
he told the principals to have the other math teachers select the students they didn’t want – the ones who didn’t listen, who didn’t try, who didn’t care. He would take them all. The principals nodded. Lists were made, class rolls prepared. The new football coach was handed three dream teams of troublemakers. They wished him luck.