Written By: Mike Ulatoski

Kenny Phillips knew what people were thinking when the Giants signed Antrel Rolle for $37 million on the first day of free agency. He knew some would take it as a sign that the Giants were worried he’d never make it all the way back. But, Phillips said on Wednesday that his recovery from left knee surgery is right on track. It’s going so well he’ll more than likely be on the field for the start of training camp in July. And once he’s on the field, he and Rolle plan on forming “the best safety tandem in the NFL.”

“The coaches have reassured me they didn’t bring him in to replace me – they made that very clear,” Phillips said. “After the performance we had last year in the secondary, they had to bring someone in. It would be foolish not to. It’ll be a privilege playing next to him.”

That will happen, the third-year pro insisted, even though several orthopedic surgeons have said that the condition in his knee – patellofemoral arthritis – can be career-threatening. Phillips and the Giants have denied that possibility from the moment his season ended after Week 2 this past season. In fact, Phillips recently wrote in his blog, “I feel like I could play tomorrow.”  Phillips added that team doctors have continually “assured me I can return and be 100 percent when I do.”

“I feel real good,” Phillips said. “I’m making a lot of progress. The rehab is coming along real well. I should be running soon – probably by the end of this month. As far as they tell me, it’s looking good. The knee is getting stronger.”

The rehab, which Phillips has done mostly from his home in Miami, has been a very long process since he underwent surgery in September, mostly involving weights and exercises to strengthen the knee.

“When it first occurred, I didn’t really know what it was myself,” he said. “But after talking to trainers and doctors, I felt great about it. I already feel myself get stronger and getting back to the form that I had. I feel that I didn’t lose anything, to be honest with you.”

Phillips will likely sit out the “organized team activity” (OTA) sessions in May and June, as well as mini-camp in mid-June. However, he definitely expects to be ready for the start of full-speed practices in late July. He’s so sure, in fact, that he often pictures himself back on the field for the first time since mid-September.

“I kind of picture it all the time,” Phillips said. “From the way my rehab is going I feel I’m definitely not going to lose anything. I can only get better. So I sometimes picture myself making interceptions, making tackles, just making the plays I used to. I just can’t wait.”

It’ll be very exciting no that he and Rolle will be on the same field. Both University of Miami defensive backs can be summed up in one word: playmaker. Phillips and Rolle both have exceptional athleticism, great cover skills, and a nose for the ball.

Phillips, who has known Rolle since he was a senior in high school and Rolle was a senior at Miami, said he helped the Giants recruit Rolle and constantly talked with him as he pondered the Giants’ offer. Rolle was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Wednesday to workout with Phillips.

“It’s going to be a great addition to an already pretty good secondary,” Phillips added. “He’s going to bring so much more to our secondary because of things he can do. He’s basically a playmaker…That’s kind of what we were missing this last year.

“I’m definitely excited. [Rolle] has that Miami swagger. There’s nothing wrong with it. He’s very confident. And tell you the truth, we just have two guys that can go out and get it. Most teams usually have just one dog. For us, we have two of us that can go out make some plays.

Like Rolle said, if they can put in the work, there’s no doubt that they could be the NFL’s best safety tandem.

Written By: Matt Vereb

North Carolina has had a pitiful season. Everything has gone completely wrong for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. Thursday Night will mark the close of UNC’s 2010 regular season.

The Matchup: North Carolina Tar Heels(16-15) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets(19-11)

North Carolina laid an absolute egg in their last game at Duke, losing, 80-52. The team seemed almost uninterested in the game as they shot only 33% from the field and 20% from three-point land. Their games get no easier as they take on the Yellow Jackets in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Georgia Tech has defeated UNC in both of their meetings this season. Georgia Tech Junior Forward, Gani Lawal has been a force this season, averaging 13.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Lawal pulled down double digit rebounds in both of GT’s wins over UNC.

UNC Seniors, Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard, will put up a strong showing. Both players have enjoyed a lot of success during their tenures in Chapel Hill. I just don’t think they’ll be able to put it together in time for the ACC Tournament.

UNC got destroyed on Saturday by Duke. UNC is not a good team this season. Georgia Tech has won both meeting this season, but it is always hard to defeat a team three times in one season. The game will also be played in Greensboro, North Carolina, so UNC will have their fans at the contest. However, it won’t be enough to save them. GT by 5.

The Pick: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (19-11)

March Record: 6-3

Photo Credit: jamati.com

Written By: Mike Ulatoski

The Rangers faceoff against the New Jersey Devils tonight (7:00 p.m.) at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, in a matchup between Atlantic Division rivals. The Blueshirts currently rank fourth in the Atlantic Division, and ninth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-28-9 (67 pts.), three points out of eighth place. The Rangers enter tonight’s contest having been defeated by the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1, in overtime on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The Devils enter tonight’s game with a record of 38-23-3 (79 pts.) to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers return to action on Friday, March 12, when they faceoff against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena (7:30 p.m.).

The Rangers are in the middle of a three-game losing streak, two games being overtime losses. Over their last eight games, the Rangers have registered a point in six, posting a record of 4-2-2 (10 pts.) over that stretch. The Rangers are in the middle of their annual scramble for the eighth playoff spot, but they’ve lost three straight games. The Devils, meanwhile, are in the midst of a two-game losing streak and have lost seven of their last ten games.

Prediction
Henrik Lundqvist will lead the Rangers to a 3-2 win tonight. He always gets up for games against Marty, and I think Hank is playing the best hockey of his career.

Shot Caling –
goal for Vinny Prospal.

Written by: Eric Conway

The Islanders lost their third consecutive game last night by a score of 3-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers.  The latest loss makes the Isles victims in 14 of their last 17 games.  The Islanders battled hard with the Flyers for the first two periods leading 2-1 going into the second intermission.  Two power play goals by the Flyers in the third period secured the victory over the struggling Islanders.

The winning goal was recorded by Simon Gagne, who has scored in each of his last three games.  The goal came by way of a power play thanks in part to a bonehead penalty taken by recent call-up Trevor Gillies.  Can someone please explain to me what this guy was doing on the ice in a tie game with seven minutes remaining in regulation?  He is 31 years old and a notorious figher in the minor leagues, playing in only his third NHL game.  The penalty opened the door for the Flyers and they capitalized.  It was not a snipe by any means, as Gagne attempted to pass it across to teammate Mike Richards standing at the doorstep.  The puck luckily deflected off Mark Streit’s stick and past Dwayne Roloson with 6:06 remaining in the third period.

Soon to be free agent (cough Garth Snow try and sign this guy) Jeff Carter, scored his 31st goal of the season off a beautiful feed from Danny Briere.  The game was nodded up by Claude Giroux who snuck a pretty backhander past a sprawling Roloson.

The Islanders offense was provided by Kyle Okposo who fired a laser right under the crossbar and surprise surprise John Tavares.  Tavares’ goal was his 18th of the season and snapped his 17 game slump without a goal.  Even though it was not a particularly pretty goal, it was a goal nonetheless and can hopefully give the kid some much needed confidence as the season winds down for the Islanders.

Some Sidenotes:

The Flyers have now beat the Islanders 15 straight times, the longest current streak in the NHL of one team against another.  The all-time streak for one team beating another is owned by the Boston Bruins, as they dominated the Ottawa Senators for 17 straight games in the mid 90s.

Robbie Schremp suffered a right knee injury and will be evaluated by team doctors on Wednesday.

Overall, the Isles did some good things out there against a much bigger Flyers team.  They held their own for two periods before the Flyers were able to make a comeback thanks to two power play goals in the third.  Once again Roloson did everything he could to get the Islanders a victory.  The Islanders will play host to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night where they will battle with U.S. Olympians Erik Johnson and David Backes.  I really like the Blues this season.  They are 6 points out of the last playoff spot in the west so expect them to come out hungry.  Keep an eye out for University of Michigan product TJ Oshie.  This kid can do it all.

Written By: Matt Vereb

Today’s matchup hits close to home. Robert Morris travels to Connecticut to take on Quinnipiac in the coveted, North Eastern Conference Championship. Quinnipiac has played great basketball this year. They are 17-2 in conference. They defeated Robert Morris in Moon Township earlier this season, 87-79. Junior forward, Justin Rutty is averaging a double-double for Quinnipiac this season(15 points, 11 rebounds). This has all the makings of a QU victory.

I’m not picking Quinnipiac because I like them, but more along the lines of them getting destroyed by Kentucky or Kansas in the 1st round.

The Pick: Quinnipiac Bobcats 23-8

Record to Date: 6-3

Written By: Matt Vereb

Steroid Problems In Baseball? Bud Selig’s Fault.

All baseball fans need to accept that performance enhancing drugs were part of baseball’s culture from roughly 1988-2002. It does not mean it’s acceptable, it’s just a pure fact. All Major League teams were effected by it. A player from every team has been caught using PEDs. Senator George Mitchell’s report dug up over 100 current and ex-Major League players who had ties to steroids and other PEDs. Some(Andy Pettitte) have openly admitted their use. Others(Roger Clemens) have completely refuted those claims. Whether you agree or disagree with my thesis, you must accept that PEDs played a major role during that time frame. They were solely enabled by Commissioner Selig.

Can you really blame the players though for taking them? If I were to tell you right now all the secrets to get ahead at work, without your boss finding, would you take it? You can also make a ton of money doing it in the process as well. I’m sure many of you would take this opportunity to benefit yourself and your family. That’s exactly what the players did during the ’90s. Steroids and other drugs were readily available to use. It was almost like a social gathering for players when they took them. Steroids can have life-altering effects on one’s body, but that’s the risk one takes.

This whole ‘Steroid Era’ is Bud Selig’s fault. Selig made no attempt to begin testing players in the 90s. He turned his cheek during the epic McGwire, Sosa Home Run Chase in 1998. Can you blame him though? Ticket and merchandise sales were at all-time highs. Some players(McGwire, Sosa, Griffey) had become icons. Baseball had the heroes it had been lacking. To this day, I believe that, the Summer of 1998, between the HR chase and the New York Yankees, saved baseball. Ultimately, this home run binge had officially moved baseball past the 1994 Lockout. Baseball fans were re-energized. We wanted more home runs and Selig continued to ride that wave.

Selig didn’t care how he filled the stadiums. He just wanted people that could knock the ball out of the park. If Sylester Stallone would have walked in and hit 600+ foot home runs, I’m sure would have been a Yankee. I’ll admit it, I loved watching these ‘super humans’ hit baseball 500+ feet. I’m sure he did too. I remember Sammy Sosa crushing 520+ foot home runs during Home Run Derbies. Tainted Memories…

However, all good things must come to an end. 1996 NL MVP Ken Caminiti admitted to steroid use in 2002. Caminiti died two years later in 2004. After Caminiti’s admission, baseball began the process of cleaning up substance abuse. Selig knew that his joy ride was over and he had to save the culture of the game.

Selig began implementing drug testing in 2003. A failed test will result in 50-game ban. Human Growth Hormone(HGH) was banned from baseball in 2005, but there is no way to properly test for it yet.

Don’t blame the players for this. Steroids were frowned upon, but had no penalty. We honestly should thank them. They were ultimately trying to perform better for the fans and their families. Blame the enabler.

Baseball is still in the process of cleaning its image. We’ll never truly know who did and didn’t do steroids. But we only have one man to thank for creating that joy ride and fault for allowing it to happen.

Are Steroids Truly Selig’s Fault Or The Players?

Weigh In!

Photo Credit: photoskew.com

Written By: Eric Conway

It pains me to report this, but Islanders rookie, Andrew Macdonald, left the arena last night in a boot and will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot.  This comes the day after the Islanders traded veteran defenseman, Andy Sutton to the Ottawa Senators for a 2nd round draft pick.  Macdonald has blended in nicely since his call-up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has proven himself as an immediate contribuor for the Isles.  The Islanders rewarded his solid play by signing him to a 4 year extension over the Olympic break.  Macdonald was selected in the 6th round, 160th overall in the 2006 NHL draft.  He played junior hockey under former Islander head coach Ted Nolan, who was the reason the Islanders drafted him in 2006.  Macdonald has posted 1 goal to go along with his 5 assists in his 39 contests for the Islanders this season.

In my opinion, this is a tough loss coming out of the Olympic break.  The Isles just traded away Andy Sutton who logged a lot of minutes and was a physical presense and now we lose Macdonald.  Hopefully recent call-up Defenseman, Dustin Kohn can step up and fill the role as the Isles remain in the fight for the final playoff spot.  The Islanders are 5 points out of the last spot and are coming off a big win against one of the NHL’s top teams, the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Islanders will try and inch closer to the final spot as they take on the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow.

What Do You Think Islander fans? Can we make the playoffs?

Photo Credit: islanderspointblank.com

Written by:  Eric Conway

The Islanders will look to avenge their tough loss on Saturday against the Bruins tonight as they head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.  This is the fifth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals.  The Flyers have won all four meetings this season so far, with three of the four wins coming by a score of 2-1.

With the Islanders playoff hopes dangling by a thread, this is as close to a must win game in March as you will see in the NHL.  They have slipped down to second to last in the Eastern Conference and are a lofty 9 points back of the 8th and final playoff spot occupied now by the Boston Bruins.  The Isles have only 17 games remaining on their schedule to make a run at the last spot. In my estimation, they would have to win at least 12 of those games to be in the running.

Prediction:

I am feeling extremely bold today and will say that the Isles will snap their winless streak against the Flyers tonight by a score of 5-3.  To further make myself look insane, I will even predict a goal by John Tavares that will snap his 17 game drought without a goal.  The kid had 15 goals in his first 31 games in the NHL and today he is going to break out of this abominable slump.

I know Isles fans are down right now, but you really have to look at the positives of this season.  With a win tonight, the team surpasses their point total of a year ago where they finished dead last in the league.  Hopefully the Islanders can muster up a total team effort and get the victorty tonight considering it will be nationally televised on Versus.  Puck drops at 7:30 PM eastern time.  Hopefully, the picture above will bring back some memories…

Photo credit:  lessinglets.com

Written By: Matt Vereb

The New York Yankees followed up yesterday’s boxing news with a little college football. On December 30, 2010, the New York Yankees will host the first ever, ‘Pinstripe Bowl’. The game will pit a team from the Big East Conference against a team from the Big 12 Conference. New Era will sponsor the game.

The Pinstripe Bowl isn’t the only football game to be played at Yankee Stadium this season. On November 20th, Army and Notre Dame will play. Along with their storied baseball history, Yankee Stadium has held some great football game. I’m sure this new installment will live up to the expected hype.

The Yankees will not host one of the coveted New Year’s Day bowls, but expect this game to receive mass media attention.

Side Note: The last football game played at Yankee Stadium was in 1964.

Are You Excited For Football At Yankee Stadium??

Written By: Matt Vereb

Last week, we covered a story about a Canadian medical clinic that had ties to HGH traffic. That same clinic performed hip surgery on Alex Rodgriguez last spring. Many wonder whether this Canadian clinic provided HGH to Rodriguez.

Tony Galea, who runs this medical firm, said he never gave Rodriguez HGH. He said that the HGH was for himself.

Rodriguez has agreed to help the feds with their investigation.

This is pretty much a non-story, but with A-Rod, everything is news-worthy.

Photo Credit: news.yahoo.com