Saturday, April 14, 2007

Falcons awards; Lepac special; Buffs notes

Jacob Burtschi and Dan Nwaelele "got their's" at Air Force on Thursday.

The two shared the Bob Spear Award as the student-athletes that are outstanding in all areas of the Academy - academics, athletics and military performance.

Burtschi, a senior forward, led the team in rebounding this season, averaging six per game while finishing second in scoring at 13.5 points per contest, earning second-team all-Mountain West Conference honors.

The sweet-shooting Nwaelele led the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game, and his 499 points were the most in one season by a Falcon since high-scoring Otis Jones totaled 670 back in 1994-95.

Also a senior forward, Nwaelele earned first-team all-MWC honors. He hit 51.6 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point territory.

Losing those two means new construction starts next season.

Rams may have recruiting find

So what's it say that redshirt freshman Brian Lepak, a 6-foot-5, 285-pounder from Claremore, Okla., is the frontrunner to start at right tackle for CSU this fall?

Are the Rams just that empty with upperclassman talent at the position or is Lepak that special?

Maybe the fact that he was recruited at some level by Oklahoma, TCU, Texas Tech and Tulsa indicates that Lepak might have some potential.

Throw in that he is intelligent (class valedictorian), versatile (played all five interior spots on the line as a high school senior) and maybe, just maybe CSU has found a playmaker on the offensive line.

Even offensive line coach Darrell Funk is noticing, saying Lepak is special.

Buffs not as dumb as they look

CU looked dumb on the court last season but if you read B.G. Brooks' story in Friday's Rocky Mountain News you learn that new coach Jeff Bzdelik sees basketball intelligence and work ethic on his roster.

Does it strike anyone funny that former coach Ricardo Patton and his staff did not tap into either one of those characteristics, yet Bzdelik has done so?

So the question that begs asking is this -- is the new ringmaster simply that much smarter or did the players have little respect for the prior regime?

Brooks also was able to get the skinny on what many CU fans are wondering -- this new offense the Buffs will run. Will it work with the current collection of players?

Bzdelik makes it clear that the players are capable and that they make the offense effective and efficient. It is not the offense making the players. Key distinction.

It says here CU is starving for success and believes in Bzdelik's track record strongly, meaning they will listen and follow his lead. The possibility of better basketball and winning excites them.

They now believe in their basketball masters. Now, watch their games develop and the bottom line to improve, making for a significantly improved product, both aesthetically and in the won-loss column.


So the new coaches at CU won't ask any players to leave the program?

That's very respectable and honorable.

And purely semantics.

Read Kyle Ringo's article in the Friday edition of the Daily Camera and see clearly that some players are going to be packing bags and departing because what they value most -- playing time -- is not going to be there.

Read between the lines or listen to coach Jeff Bzdelik's not-too-subtle inferences and see that he is either drawing a line in the sand for his roster or already believes some are not a strong fit for his offense.

Who's staying and who's going is entirely conjecture at this point.

Jackson the story

Tom Kensler writes in the Denver Post about the two-man race to be the starting quarterback at Colorado come fall. Nothing new as we all know it's Cody Hawkins vs. Nick Nelson with the job Hawkins' to lose.

Whether the head coach's son starts the opener or not he is highly likely to be the guy early in the 2007 season.

As for 2006 starter, Bernard Jackson, Kensler details how B-Jack's attitude never wavers. All last season, he was optimistic and now that he has lost his job without the benefit of real competition in the spring, he is still positive and putting the team before himself.

That is one of the real stories so far.

Jackson will have to work unbelievably hard to learn plays at another position but if he passes that cram test he has a chance, with his athleticism, to make a significant contribution in what will be relatively few touches in games.

Wilson fired

Extremely disappointing end to Al Wilson's career in Denver.

The Broncos did what they thought they had to do but to see someone who played so passionately, was so professional in his approach and was highly productive, especially for being undersized, well, it stings.

NFL draft -- Denver looking at linebackers.

This, however, opens up a bigger window of opportunity for D.J. Williams, who has never lacked talent.

Broncos lose to Raiders

Cooper Carlisle, a fourth-round pick of Denver in the 2000 draft, is headed west to play guard for Oakland.


Yes, losing his experience hurts but offensive line was already one of the team's priorities come April's draft. That the Broncos didn't sell out a little harder to convince Carlisle to return says it all.

I'm sure coach Mike Shanahan is happy, too, losing one of his players to his nasty, vindictive ex-wife, Raiders' owner Al Davis.


The Rockies 6-3 win over Arizona on Friday happened because the bullpen didn't throw away a quality effort by a starting pitcher, throwing four shutout innings. It also went down because Colorado found a way to hit 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb.

Will say it again -- GM Dan O'Dowd was a pirate last season when he stole Kaz Matsui from the Mets. If Matsui stays healthy, he is going to have one of the best years a Rockies' second baseman has ever had.

Watch out for Matt Holliday as the slugging giant is starting to warm up. He could start hammering balls over the fence with regularity at any time now.

The Nuggets are who they should be now -- consistent winners. Oh sure, they have flaws but they are no longer the highly underachieving bums they were for most of the season. Now winners of eight-straight games, they look to be moderately dangerous come playoff time. Maybe they don't advance past the first-round again but no one wants a piece of them. Friday's 107-105 win over Oklahoma City showed guts and composure, playoff necessities.

Steve Blake had a double-double, Marcus Camby blocked nine shots, Allen Iverson had but one turnover, Nene was rock solid and Carmelo Anthony scorched the nets. The bench did little but really, what's not to like these days. This is finally a group of individuals playing as a team and getting paid in wins for it.

Lidge grumblings

So Houston thinks Brad Lidge is washed up?

They must if they don't have him entrenched as the nasty closer he is yet they will explain it away differently.

So, according to Hall-of-Fame writer Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado asked about a deal involving him last winter and could do so again.

Here's the skinny, amigos -- as long as Lidge is healthy he is exactly what the Rockies need in the bullpen -- a fire-breathing, flame-throwing intimidator.

That said, don't look for the Astros to get stupid overnight and sell Lidge off.

Van Horn a Nugget

Would Denver be interested in adding an over-the-hill, one-dimensional, not-hungry Keith Van Horn to their roster next season? Maybe.

Just what the Nuggets need -- another matador defender.

Van Horn was great -- years ago.

His game is shot, his passion long gone.



The NBA draft looks stronger and stronger each week and the Nuggets will, as they often do, be sitting it out.

Sure, they picked up Kenyon Martin and Allen Iverson, two talents but dishing so much for those two (five first-rounders) was shortsighted and the price will be paid on the court.

So the team and its' fans can only window shop and dream.

A playoff series win would dull the disappointment.


Commish CH comments on the Mason Crosby story from yesterday, reminding all of one powerful leg from Simla, Colo. who boomed punts at CU and then for the San Francisco 49ers.

Don't forget Barry Helton is up on the facade too. Goes to show how very important special teams are in the game of football, especially if you have a great punter and kicker."

WSN: Sometimes special teams are the difference between a team being good and great.

More on ho's

You'd think that people would learn to "shutttttttttie" as Kevin James' character on the King of Queens will say at times, on landmine topics. Stuart Scott of ESPN obviously hasn't been paying attention and might get beat down because of it.

Did he not see Don Imus get whacked this week?

Long overdue idea

Here is what I call thinking fresh, regardless of your opinion on the idea.

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