Daily Archives: September 2, 2010

“Welcome Ryan Harrison”

The American dream of bringing home a title in Flushing looks all but finished as America’s top player, Andy Roddick, went down in a tough loss to Janko Tipsarevic last night. Though there is still a glimmer of hope with Mardy Fish, John Isner, and Sam Querrey all left in the draw.  And have no fear, Ryan Harrison is here. Harrison is an 18-year-old (American) stud out of New Braunfels, Texas.  Could he be the next big thing in American tennis? 

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5520935&categoryid=2491545 (Harrison ESPN interview with McEnroe)

Harrison defeated the 15th seeded and 17th ranked player in the world, Ivan Ljubicic in his first round match.  This was Harrison’s first time winning a match in a Grand Slam and he accomplished the feat with great grace and ease.  He had the look of a savvy veteran.  In winning this match, Harrison became the first American teenager to defeat a top 20 player in a Grand Slam tournament in over 9 years.  The last American to do this was Andy Roddick.  At the age of 19, Roddick burst onto the scene with a big time victory over the 11th seeded Alex Corretja (at the US Open).  Could this kid be the second coming of ARod? 

Ryan Harrison quietly burst onto the scene a couple of years ago when he won an ATP level match against the world #130 at the time, Pablo Cuevas.  This was at the 2008 US Clay Court Championships.  He became the 3rd youngest player to win a match at this level since 1990 (Nadal, Gasquet were younger), and the 10th player in the history of the ATP to have won a match on tour before the age of 16.  This kid has been a long time coming.  He has just been vastly overlooked until now.  

 I personally saw Harrison play in 2004 when I attended John Newcombe’s Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas (Harrison’s old training grounds).  While walking into the camp that first day, there was a kid out hitting with his father and his little brother (Christian, who is an internationally ranked junior player). The kids were absolutely amazing demonstrating a phenomenal consistency level, outstanding conditioning, and a drive like I had not seen on a tennis court.  Well I got a further taste of the Harrison brothers later in the week during drills and match play.  These kids hit the ball with pace, kept it deep, never missed, and refused to give up on a single point during the course of an 8 hour training day.  I have seen many very strong tennis players in my time, but I knew this kid was the real deal.  Could he finally be realizing his potential now? 

Currently Harrison is the 220th ranked player in the world and rising.  Could he win another match or two this year in Flushing?  I do not see why not.  His next opponent is the 36th ranked player on the tour, Sergi Stakhovsky.  Ryan Harrison is a name to remember now when discussing American tennis.  He brings some hope back to American tennis  connoisseur. 

I know I will be pulling for the youngster to go deep in Flushing. 

Say hello to the world, Ryan Harrison. 

Ryan Harrison provided American tennis with some excitement with a major first round victory yesterday. Could he be another big time American tennis player like the man he is pictured with above, the legendary Pete Sampras?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze 

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“Welcome To College Football”

One of the major stories in College Football this year deals with how Brian Kelly, the former University of Cincinnati Head Coach, handles the pressure of leading the charge in South Bend.

Tonight, another College Football season kicks off with 18 different games around the country.  Let the BCS Madness begin baby.  Here are the main storylines for the year in my eyes.

– Can Alabama “roll” to a 2nd consecutive National Title?

Though Alabama is returning nearly their entire offense, which features future NFL players like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones, the SEC is a conference that teams live and die on their defensive units.  Bama is returning just 2 starters from their vaunted defensive squad of a year ago.  In the end, I feel like this team will have a great year, but come up just short due to a lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball.  Also realize that no team has ever repeated as National Champion in the 12 year BCS era.  It is no easy task.

– Can Terrelle Pryor live up to the hype and bring home the first Heisman to Columbus since Troy Smith, in 2006?

This storyline will also be very key in determining if the Buckeyes can bring home their first National Title since 2002.  They have the defense to do it.  It is all a matter of if Terrelle Pryor can lead the offense to playing at a National Championship level.  There is no rhyme or reason why I or anyone else in America believes in this guy. His stats in his two-year stint in Columbus have been nowhere near a Heisman level.  In actuality, they have been quite less than flattering.  But the “swagger” of Terrelle Pryor has led me to believe that he can vault to a Heisman Trophy level of play and lead the Buckeyes to the BCS National Title Game.

– Can Boise State be the first non BCS Conference team to bring home a BCS National Title?

First of all, this team went undefeated a year ago.  They are returning every starter on both sides of the ball except graduated cornerback, Kyle Wilson.  Kellen Moore, who threw for over 3500 yards and had a TD to Interception ratio of 39 to 3 is back.  This team is the real deal.  And with the non conference schedule they have put together, “if” they go undefeated, they deserve a shot to play for the National Championship as much as anyone.  But also realize that they are opening up with the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Led by legendary coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies feature perhaps the best rushing attack in the country.  Sadly for Boise, I see them losing in Week 1, but this team is definitely the real deal and has a definite chance to play in Arizona for the National Championship if they go undefeated.

– Coaching in South Bend is like coaching the Yankees in Major League Baseball.  The pressure is at an all time high every day.  The media and fan base are unforgiving and cold. Can Brian Kelly handle the heat better than some of his predecessors?

Brian Kelly is perhaps the most charismatic coach in America.  He is a phenomenal salesman and says all the right things.  If you have ever heard the expression, “You talk like a man with a paper asshole,” though I am not 100 percent sure what this means, I think it would be the perfect away to describe BK.  Brian Kelly not only is smooth off the field though, he produces on the field.  This guy won two National Titles at Grand Valley State.  He completely turned around an abysmal Central Michigan program and captured a MAC Championship.  Then he went to Cincinnati and made the city believers in Bearcat football.  During his three-year reign, he won 10 or more games all three years (had not won 10 games in a season in Cincinnati since 1951), two Big East Championships, and sent them to two BCS Bowl games.  Coach Kelly has always been known as a mastermind of the spread offense.  He will provide fireworks in South Bend with a high-flying, aerial spread attack.  But also realize that his partner in crime and his right hand man for nearly 20 years, Jeff Quinn, is now the head coach at Buffalo University.  Can BK still put together an offense that puts up 40 plus points a game without his old running mate?  Well I will tell you this, Notre Dame has probably their easiest schedule in the past 10 years.  These guys could rise back to prominence real fast.  Do not be surprised to see a 9 or 10 win season.

– Will an SEC team bring home a 5th consecutive BCS National Championship?

In my eyes, it is a no brainer that this is the best and most elite conference in College Football yet again.  No conference really can touch the coaches, the talent, and the overall speed that this conference demonstrates top to bottom.  There is a reason why the SEC generally plucks players from the Southeast region, with the vast majority of 4 and 5 star recruits coming from this talent rich region.  Why wonder away from home?  But I will state this.  I believe this is the year that a non SEC school wins the National Title.  I feel it is time for the Buckeyes to break through in a National Championship game.  It is a gut feeling, but still expect this conference to be the best in the land again.

– Herbies vs the Forde Dash?

Kirk Herbstreit and Pat Forde are both fantastic at what they do.  They are well-known analysts for ESPN who do an absolutely outstanding job.  They both recently released some of their big thoughts on this upcoming College Football season.  Kirk Herbstreit put out the Herbies while Pat Forde put out the Forde Dash.  The edge in my eyes goes to the Herbies.  Though the Forde Dash is a cool name, the Herbies was easier to follow and I agreed with more of the predictions.  But it was a very tough call.

Welcome to College Football folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze