Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vince Young for MVP?

Valuable: an adjective which is defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as of great use or service. There are alternate definitions for the word, but that one fits my argument the best.
All you Tennessee Titans fans can come out of hiding now. The shame of an 0-6 start has been almost entirely washed away by five wins in a row. They are only two games out of the final wild card spot.
I know this is Jaguar nation that I am writing to, but sit back and look at the marvels of an NFL player who was given a second chance. What was unheard of just a month ago is now a definite possibility thanks in large part to one person. Can you take a guess as to who it is?
It is no other than the third pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, Vince Young. I threw out an idea a few days ago on my Twitter that I thought was very valid, but I was in the sever minority: Vince Young as the NFL Most Valuable Player. Yes, back to that word ‘valuable’.
Am I crazy? He’s only started five games, how valuable can someone be if they haven’t even started half the season?
That feeds into my point in a way. Young is the definition of value to his team, the numbers are simple: 0-6 without ‘VY’ as the starter, 5-0 with him in the lineup.
He doesn’t put up the flashiest numbers, but he does the same thing he did at Texas, which is produce victories. His nine straight wins as a starter clearly show that.
His effect since stepping in has been felt all over the Titans’ team. There are the people that say that Young isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team, and I disagree.
Chris Johnson has been an absolutely dynamic player and I believe he is the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in my opinion. He just isn’t the most valuable. He has played in every game for Tennessee, which means he was there for the six losses as well as the five wins.
Even if you look at the stats for Johnson, the difference in the first six games and the next five are staggering. Before the week seven bye, he had 596 yards and two touchdowns in six games. Since the bye week, he has run for 800 yards and seven touchdowns in five games. Pretty large difference if you ask me.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher probably saved Young’s career by benching him. That forced him to take a look in the mirror to see what was wrong. He has been studying like a true NFL quarterback instead of just relying on his athletic ability.
In all of the times I have watched him play, this is the first time I have seen him show consistent pocket-passing abilities. It is impressive and he can move the team down the field and not need to go to Chris Johnson at all, like he did on the final drive against Arizona.
His stat line from Sunday’s game went like this: 27-of-43 for 387 yards and threw one touchdown. He may not put up great stats all the time, but when he needs to, he certainly can.
He has made the team better not only with his maturity, but also with the natural ability that made him a first round pick originally. When he chooses to scramble now, it actually puts the defense in a predicament.
Do not think that I am putting him above players like Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, who had great games in their own right last weekend. They have also done it over the course of the whole season. I still think he needs to be in the conversation just because he is winning.
I have heard that he deserves to be NFL Comeback Player of the Year. That is without question, at least so far. What in my right mind puts him in the MVP discussion?
It is never wise to assume, and the word ‘if’ should never be used because the NFL is so unpredictable. Vince Young has done a great job to bring his team back to respectability. If (there goes that word!) he can keep up this high level of play, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the discussion.
As we have seen in the past five weeks, there have not been many people of great use or service like the one that has been playing great football in Nashville.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Move Over to the Slow 'Lane'

I'm sure this is not what Tennessee Head Coach Lane Kiffin had in store for this season. Not after all of the talking he did during the offseason.

A 2-3 record in SEC play and a 5-4 record overall isn't the greatest, but honestly it was to be expected in the first year. The personnel clearly isn't his and you can see that when you watch the Volunteers play.

The silver lining has been safety Eric Berry, but he was great before Kiffin and likely will be great when he leaves as well. UT Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin has turned their defense into one of the nation's better units, I can't take that away from them.

But it seems that the incident that happened earlier this week nullified any progress that the younger Kiffin has been working toward.

Three UT freshmen football players were arrested and charged with armed robbery after the police stopped them and found marijuana and a pellet gun in the car. The driver of the car was a woman, and she was also arrested.

As of this blog post, two of the players have been released from jail. Safety Janzen Jackson was released on his own recognizance and defensive back Mike Edwards was released after posting bond. Wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson still remains in the Knox County Detention Center because he has not posted the $19,500 bond.

Obviously the justice system will say that they are innocent until proven guilty. That doesn't mean it will be left alone in the court of public opinion. Lane Kiffin has a deep hole to dig out of right here, especially because he is the one that proclaimed that his program would be run with discipline.

I don't see the discipline right now, Lane.

There are other things that I have heard that make this incident that much more perplexing and intriguing. For instance, I've heard that in the alleged robbery attempt had on UT hoodies. Really though? In Knoxville?

I don't condone the robbery at all, but if you're going to do that to someone in a town that lives and dies by the creamsicle orange, don't wear that!

I also heard that the incident took place outside of a gas station that is owned by the largest booster that UT has. So large, in fact that the business school is named after him (Jim Haslam). Great job right there.

This is just another black eye to Kiffin, who wrote checks his mouth and coaching haven't been able to cash. He needs to take some swift action in regards to these players. Once the facts come out (if they aren't already) and this turns out to be fully true, all three players need to be kicked off of the team.

Even Urban Meyer and the University of Florida thinks these players crossed the line.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just a Women's Sport?

I apologize for not posting on here as much as I should be, the semester is trying to make me its victim but I won't let it happen? I have to come back with some heat! Let's see what I come up with.

I have been thinking for the past few days about what I would write for my first post after a long hiatus on here. Then the answer just fell into my lap last night as I was watching highlights on SportsCenter.

Elizabeth Lambert, a defender for the New Mexico Lobos women's soccer team, single-handedly pulled her school to a new low (yes, even with the Mike Locksley situation still simmering there). If you haven't seen the video yet, take a look at the theatrics.

I was shocked, as I'm sure most people were when they saw it. I'm sure that Lambert never planned on being this famous (or infamous) overnight, but it happened literally overnight.

In this week of Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes being grounded in a controversy over trying to gouge the eyes of a Georgia Bulldogs player, it's weird to think that incident is really tame compared to what Lambert did. If Spikes was suspended for a half by Urban Meyer and then suspended himself for the whole game, what should happen to this young lady?

Not only is this a bad look for Lambert and the University of New Mexico athletic department, it also looks bad for the Mountain West Conference. One of the big issues for the NCAA this year has been sportsmanship. That's why they tried to have football teams shake hands at midfield before kickoff. That didn't work too well though, because you really shouldn't have whole teams get together that close before a game when adrenaline is running at its highest. It just won't work.

Back to Lambert and the New Mexico athletic department, this is something that will linger for a long time. With the 1-0 loss to BYU, Lambert just ended her junior season. That means she will be back next fall and will have to hear from the public for the next year. If the Mountain West wants to make a statement, they need to suspend her for at least 5-10 games to start next season. What she did has no part in any collegiate athletics. If the university doesn't do it, the conference needs to. If the conference doesn't do it, the NCAA certainly needs to step in right away and take action.

Lost in all of this, credit has to be given to the BYU women's soccer team for not responding to the numerous outbursts from Lambert. They kept on doing what they had to do to win the game, and that is exactly what they did.

There is a reason they are ranked in the top 25, and part of it has to do with the fact that they beat New Mexico and the refs, who couldn't seem to muster the courage to red card Lambert and get her out of the game, which is what was sorely needed.

All in all, this was something that I am sure the university did not need. One black eye to the program is bad enough, two just adds insult to the injury of a struggling program.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

DB’s NCAA predictions: week 5

Last week wasn’t a very good week at all for my predictions as I went 1-4 on a weekend that produced a few stunning results. Miami and Cal both showed that they weren’t quite ready for the big time and their top 10 rankings as they each lost convincingly to Virginia Tech and Oregon, respectively. The only pick I got correct was the Stanford upset over Washington. The trend this year seems to be teams that come off of big wins lose the next week to teams they shouldn’t. Will it happen this week? Follow me and you’ll find out.

DB’s Game of the Week
*No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 17 Miami
Miami is in the last stretch of an extremely tough four-game stretch that most recently included a 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech. Sophomore sensation quarterback Jacory Harris looked human for the first time all season, going 9-of-21 for 150 yards and an interception. He will be looking to rebound against a Sooner defense that hasn’t allowed a point in their past two games. The combined score of those games has been 109-0, but the two games have come against Idaho State and Tulsa. Miami figures to be a slightly better opponent than either of them.
The biggest question facing Oklahoma is the status of Sam Bradford’s shoulder. He has been progressing with his rehab, but it remains to be seen whether he will play on Saturday or not. If he doesn’t, Landry Jones will start in his place. Jones has looked impressive in his first two starts, breaking the single-game record for touchdowns in a game with six against Tulsa. Like I said before though, they weren’t exactly playing the toughest teams in the country.
Miami has plenty of incentive coming into this game. They did not look impressive at all last weekend, and I am sure that they want to end this treacherous four-game start on a good note. I believe the Hurricanes will win because regardless of who starts at quarterback for Oklahoma, they will struggle against an angry and swarming Hurricanes defense. Jones will be going up against his first true test as a starter and Bradford will be a target because of his shoulder. Bottom line is this: the U isn’t fully back, but it’s closer than the experts think.
DB’s Game of the Week prediction: Miami 24 Oklahoma 20

*No. 4 LSU at No. 18 Georgia
This battle between SEC foes could go a long way in potentially determining the outcome of the national championship chase. Both teams are coming off of close victories, with Georgia slipping past 20-17 over Arizona State and LSU holding off Mississippi State on a goal-line stand to win 30-26.
LSU is an interesting team so far this season, because they have beaten some solid teams. That being said, the meat of their schedule is coming up with Georgia this week and the top ranked Florida Gators next weekend in Death Valley. If they win both games, it would be hard not to see them as the top ranked team in the country as of right now.
The question that needs to be asked is this: do they get past this tough Georgia team between the hedges at Sanford Stadium? Their offense hasn’t exactly been lighting it up so far this season, only scoring 31 points against the likes of Louisiana-Lafayette. They may need to step their defense against a Bulldogs offense that put up points if need be.
Home-field advantage is very important when it comes to conference play, and I don’t believe this will be any different. I believe that Georgia wins because they will play enough defense to contain the LSU offense. They will also score enough with their weapons to force the Tigers to try and play catch up. It is a close game, but I believe the Dawgs pull it out.
DB’s SEC prediction: Georgia 34 LSU 21

*No. 7 USC at No. 24 California
This Pac 10 game doesn’t have the same luster as it did at the start of the season. USC had their annual conference hiccup, this time against Washington. They rebounded last weekend against Washington State with a 27-6 victory. Cal didn’t have quite as good of a weekend, getting blown out on the road at Oregon by a score of 42-3.
Cal showed that they were not ready for such a high ranking and it will be interesting to see how they rebound this week. They will be facing a strong USC defense that will be keying in on Jahvid Best.
Will the Trojan offense be able to perform this week? They haven’t been up to par in recent weeks, and it just got worse for the offense with the loss of running back Stafon Johnson. They have the talent at that position, but they won’t be able to replace his experience.
I think Cal will win because they definitely have a big chip on their shoulders right now. USC has a lot of things going on off the field that I don’t think they will be able to get rid of, at least not this week.
DB’s Pac 10 prediction: Cal 24 USC 17

DB’s other predictions
*No. 22 Michigan at Michigan State (Michigan State)
*Washington at Notre Dame (Washington)
*Florida State at Boston College (Florida State)
*UCLA at Stanford (Stanford)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

dB's NCAA Predictions: Week 3

Last week provided some very good storylines to preview what should be a huge week for college football. Freshmen quarterbacks were the talk of the town last weekend. USC was propelled by Matt Barkley and Joe McKnight on a last-minute drive to top Ohio State 18-15. Michigan edged out Notre Dame in a classic as Tate Forcier showed glimpses of what Wolverine fans can expect for the next for the next few years. This week promises more great matchups and even the chance for an upset or two.
DB’s Game of the Week

*No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 20 Miami

The ACC has been in a bit of a funk so far this season, and this looks like this will be the perfect game to remedy that problem. Both teams last played in close games against conference rivals, and I see this game being no different.

Miami has something to prove against a triple-option attack from Georgia Tech that racked up 472 yards rushing, including 128 yards by 2009 ACC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer.

The Hurricanes have had extra time to prepare for the most unique offense they will face all year, and they will certainly need all the time they can get. The keys for Miami will be to stop the fullback -who is Dwyer- on dive plays and they have to force Georgia Tech into obvious passing situations.

Yellow Jackets quarterback Josh Nesbitt struggled mightily in their win over Clemson, passing for only 83 yards and only had one more completion (three) than interceptions (two).

Miami has the home-field advantage this time around, still has momentum from their season-opening win over Florida State, and a lot to prove. Truthfully, I originally thought Georgia Tech squeak out a thriller. After their last game however, I am giving the edge to Miami.

DB’s prediction: Miami 30 Georgia Tech 28

*No. 19 Nebraska at No. 13 Virginia Tech

The ACC is being tested this week, now with the Cornhuskers making a visit to Blacksburg. Both teams are coming off of big wins over relatively weak teams in week two.

Virginia Tech was able to show that they can have a running game, even with the loss of Darren Evans before the start of the season. Freshmen running backs David Wilson and Ryan Williams each ran for 160 yards, the first time in school history that has happened. Obviously they are going up against a much better defense, but it can also be said that Nebraska isn’t facing the chumps that they did in the first two weeks of the season.

This is a very tough game for me to pick, they seem even to me. Once again, I will have to take the home team because their backs should be more effective. You also can never count out “Beamer Ball”, I think it makes at least one appearance on Saturday. These wins by Miami and Virginia Tech would set up a huge early-season matchup that could determine who represents the ACC Coastal division in the championship game.

DB’s prediction: Virginia Tech 23 Nebraska 17

*Tennessee at No. 1 Florida

This game has been heavily anticipated since Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin in the winter. He has done nothing short of anger Florida Gator fans, players, boosters, and coaches. The coaches won’t display their anger very much right now, but you can believe that Urban Meyer would put up 70 points if he could.

The thing is, he won’t be able to do it this year. The things going against that for the Gators are big: no real game-breaking wide receivers have shown themselves yet. He will also be going against Monte Kiffin, who he has a good relationship with, but will also throw the most complex defense he will see all season. We also can’t forget, Tennessee has Eric Berry.

All being said, I still think Florida will win the game. It will be closer than the experts think, but further away than the Volunteers will like it to be. Florida’s defense is still too dominant on defense and they have Tim Tebow. Had Tennessee won last week against UCLA, I might have a different tune. They didn’t, so now I predict a fairly easy Florida victory.

DB’s prediction: Florida 42 Tennessee 14

*Florida State at No. 7 BYU

This is an interesting because it represents almost the opposite ends of the college football spectrum off the field. In Provo, you find the clean cut boys who all have to go on missions and seem not to ever break any rules. Meanwhile, the visitors from Tallahassee are, well, Florida State.

On the field, this should be an interesting matchup. Both teams won last week, but Florida State had a much harder time than they anticipated against Jacksonville State of the FCS in a 19-9 victory.

Honestly, it’s hard to pick against BYU right now because they are at home, Florida State isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, and the Cougars still have dreams of a BCS bowl. They still want to prove that they can play with the big boys. No better time than this week for the Mountain West to stand up again.

DB’s non-BCS prediction: BYU 31 Florida State 21

DB’s Upset Alerts (the pick for the game)

East Carolina at No. 24 North Carolina (UNC)
No.18 Utah at Oregon (Oregon)
No. 10 Boise State at Fresno State (Boise State)
No. 3 USC @ Washington (Washington)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2009 JU Football Preview

If there was a word to describe the 2009 Jacksonville University football team, what would it be?
Pressure would not be it, at least if you ask around the team.
The Dolphins are looking to build on their history-making 2008 season with a repeat Pioneer Football League championship and a possible playoff appearance. Expectations are high, but the team does not seem to be phased very much by them.
“The team has responded real well after the winning the championship,” sophomore quarterback Josh McGregor said when asked about the mindset of the team coming into this season. “We have our heads on our shoulders and we are ready to show people that we are not just a one-year wonder, we will be able to compete each and every year.”
McGregor will be at the helm of an offense that was second in the PFL in total offense and fourth in passing offense. It will only help him that he is going into his second year under Head Coach Kerwin Bell’s system.
“I feel real comfortable this year and I’m hoping to learn from last year’s mistakes and make it an even better season.” McGregor commented. He is coming off of a record-setting season which saw him rewrite the single-season school record book for passing yards (2,444), passing touchdowns (24), and completions (172). He is also within striking distance of the all-time school records for each of those categories.
There is certainly depth and experience at the quarterback position, with junior quarterback Erik Stepleton backing up McGregor. He proved capable of leading the team to victory last season as he stepped into the lineup and leading the team to a fourth quarter come back win over San Diego.
The running back position promises to be just as loaded as and maybe even more loaded than quarterback. There is a stable of backs, highlighted by Rudell Small. The all-PFL back rushed for 1,364 yards and 13 touchdowns. Backing up Small are sophomores J.J. Laster and Keith Dawson, and juniors Ron Harris and Maurice Manning.
“I feel that have the best core of running backs in the conference,” Small said. “I believe all of us are able to step up and make big plays when we’re called on.”
*Area on offense with the most question marks-offensive line: The line will have to overcome the loss of stalwarts Mike Aguilar and Chris Tessitore, who anchored the line for the last three years.
With junior tackle Leonard Payton and sophomore center Ian Osking as the returning starters from last year, questions still remain for the other three spots. Candidates to start are sophomore tackle Chad Cypher, junior guards Dustin Robinson and Levan Sims.
*Surprise player to step up on the offense-FB Jarvis Williams: The junior linebacker-turned-fullback has finally nailed down the starting spot to lead block for Small and the other talented tailbacks.
Williams looks like he will be a solid target out of the backfield for McGregor and could end up showing the same effectiveness that tight end Chris Kuck did last year, leading the team in touchdown receptions with five. He finally seems to have found his niche on the team and it should pay dividends as he could be the best pure fullback in the PFL this year.
*Wide receiver most likely to step up as the main target-Josh Philpart: The sophomore is primed to step into role of lead receiver on the team after tying for the team lead in receptions (36) ending up second on the team in receiving yards (444) and receiving touchdowns (four).
Philpart is a reliable target as a possession receiver that could be the next of the great receivers to come out of JU. He possesses great hands and good route running ability that makes him dangerous.
He is far from the only receiver returning for the Dolphins. Juniors Tommie Rogers, Rodney Sumter, and Elliot Finkley along with senior Sam Bell figure to play key roles in the passing game. As mentioned earlier, the tight ends could also be big parts of the offense in different ways. Kuck is smaller and known more for his pass-catching ability, while senior Tim Kraemer is big and a great run-blocker.
“We have a ton of good receivers and I am hoping to put up big numbers with these guys,” McGregor commented when asked about replacing Geavon Tribble in the passing game. “I feel like any receiver that we call on will go out there and make plays for us.”
‘An even more dangerous unit’
The defense returns a load of talent to a unit that finished in the top 20 nationally in both scoring and total defense.
The defensive line promises to be a strong point on the defensive side of the ball, with a wealth of experience and talent. They are led by junior defensive end Shaun Lewis, who came out of nowhere to tear through the PFL last season and finish second in the conference in sacks.
“I’m very confident, we have a lot of guys returning,” Lewis said when asked about his confidence in the defense this year. “We’re a veteran defense, and when you add the young talent we’re an even more dangerous unit.”
The other returning defensive ends include juniors Bradley Burns and Ray Gault along with senior Aaron Frye. On the interior part of the line, the returning defensive tackles are Haywood Range, Rolando Fines, and Cevonte Heagle. With so much depth on the line, there should plenty of opportunities with fresh legs on the field at all times.
“Everything starts up front on the defensive line,” Lewis commented. “We know we set the tone on game day and we’re going to always be ready to make plays.”
*Area on defense with the most question marks-the secondary: The back four on the defense has to replace two of the better defensive backs in school history in Tremaine Mack and Robson Noel.
Returning is senior safety Jason Wood, who is the clear leader of the secondary. After picking up all-american honors this offseason, Wood is poised to lead this defense to another top five national ranking in pass efficiency defense. He is also within striking distance of the career tackles record, needing 89 to break Brandon Torre’s mark.
“I won’t sit here and lie, the record matters to me,” Wood said when asked about being so close to the record. “At the same time, winning matters more. I’d rather go 11-0 and not even come close to the record rather than achieve it and lose games.”
There is youth in the secondary, but the talent is there to make it a formidable threat. If the secondary gels by the time conference play rolls around and hopefully sooner, this defense will be scary.
The leading candidate to replace Mack at the other safety position is senior Keenan Bowe. Both cornerback positions have good competition for the starters. The top candidates to play are Brian Valdez, Leonard Smith, JeMarr Anderson, and Roderick Clark. Anderson and Clark are new to the team this year, with Anderson transferring in from Temple. Clark is hoping to pick where he left off in his freshman year when he started for the Dolphins. This should be one of the more intriguing positions for Jacksonville this season.
“The core of defensive backs is very versatile and deep this year,” Wood said.
The linebacking core has experience returning, led by Layne McCombs, Joseph and Allen Fennell, and Will Perry. Sophomore Andy Sainvil has a chance to make an impact as a backup this season.
The Fennell brothers are the talk of the linebackers, because they are probably the two most talented in the unit. This is the year for both of them to step up, if they show the talent and utilize the experience they have, it will be dangerous for the rest of the PFL.
Perry stepped up as a vocal leader last season and there’s no reason to think he won’t back it up on the field just like he did in 2008.
The special teams should be solid once again this year, with senior Donovan Curry back to handle the kicking duties. Sophomore Logan Chipperfield has the punting duties.
There are plenty of predictions going around about your Jacksonville Dolphins, but when I look at the schedule I only see two potential roadblocks to an undefeated season: September 12 at Samford and October 24 at San Diego. If there is any season to make the playoffs, this would be the year. My prediction for this season is 11-0 with a huge upset over their Souther Conference opponent. Are the playoffs in the future? I think so.
The 2009 JU Dolphins will be the Florida Gators for everyone in the PFL, but do they feel the pressure? Not if you ask no. 47.
“No pressure at all, we feel like we have the most talent in the league. We’re confident and ready for any challenges we face this year.”

Are you 'Ready'?

Underneath the hype and madness of being a famous music artist you should realize that Tremaine Neverson, better known to his fans as Trey Songz, is simply a man that wants to be successful but is working at attaining that success. That’s right, there is more to him than what you see on the television and hear on his albums. Behind it all is a man who is working hard so his fans can get the best of what he has to offer.

“What is a normal day?” Songz replied when asked what a normal day consists of for him. “I don’t have normal days. There is a different type of day for me when I go on tour, do promos, record albums, and shoot videos. It all consists of a lot of work.”

With so much time devoted to being an artist, what does he do in the little free time he does have?

“When I get time off I kick it at home with my family. I got a couple brothers, and I’m a mommas boy. When I get a chance to kick it, I watch TV, play basketball, bowl. I just like to lay back and be regular.”

The hard work will pay off with his highly-anticipated third album Ready, which dropped on Monday. The singles on Ready include “Brand New”, “I Need a Girl”, “Successful” and “LOL :-)”.

“I’m feeling great,” he said when asked about his feelings with the album being released. “There’s a lot of buzz about me right now. I have four records out there that are doing well that are on the album and all of my music is being received well.”

The guest artists on the album include Drake, Gucci Mane, and Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em. Production on the album is led by Troy Taylor along with Sean Garrett, Patrick Hayes, Stargate, Los Da Mystro, and Brian Michael Cox among others.

“I think there is definitely a great show of growth on this album from the last two albums,” Songz commented when asked to compare this album to his first two, I Gotta Make It and Trey Day. “I feel like my first album was of course an introduction piece and my second album was a little more contemporary and hip-hop. This album is bringing the two worlds together as well as bringing other aspects of my music into it.”

Along with talking about the album, The Navigator wanted to take a look at other things that you wouldn’t often hear from an artist at his caliber. No matter what happens, he is still a young artist putting in work to be even better every day.

When asked about what he would be doing if he wasn’t an artist, the answer was simple: there is nothing else he’d be doing.

“I never had a plan B.” Songz confessed. The closest thing he had to a backup plan was being a barber, but he still admits that he would be trying to get into the music industry even as he cut hair. Fortunately for him, the music industry called first and cutting hair is a luxury he can choose to do.

You read about the collaborations he has on the new album, but who would Songz team up with if he could with any artist, living or otherwise?

“I’d say Marvin Gaye, because I feel like his music was really an outlet for his feelings.”

That answer is not surprising considering the music influences he listed off, an impressive mixture of artists that show his love and respect for music history.

“My homie Troy Taylor put me onto a lot of things that I knew nothing about. He put me onto the Isley Brothers and Michael Jackson,” Songz said when asked about some of who he listened to. “Anybody from Steely Dan to Aretha Franklin to Marvin Gaye to Donnie Hathaway to R. Kelly. Even rappers influence my style.” That is not a surprise when you hear his music because you hear the singing but you also hear him rapping as well. Such a diverse talent seems bound to succeed.

For any of his fans on Twitter, they know that it is not very hard to keep up with him now if they follow him (@SongzYuuup). How does he feel about the ease of interacting with the fans with social networking websites such as Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook?

“It’s a great marketing tool,” he says, noting that two or three years ago he would have had to send his songs to tons of DJs in order to get them played and now he can put it on his Twitter and his fans can hear it instantly. “There’s not so much in between me and my fans now.”

With all that said, the only thing left to do now is go out and to your nearest music store, or go on iTunes to make sure you get Ready. This album is for his fans.

“It lets them see how much I really care about what I do and how much I care for my fans.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Pat White Works in Miami

If you look back to a post I had in March before the NFL Draft, I did suggest that picking Pat White would be in the best interests for the Miami Dolphins. I mentioned the "Wildcat" formation as the main reason why he would be a perfect fit in aqua and orange. Of course, I don't have any connections to Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland or Tony Sparano but they still thought along the same lines that I did and selected White.

Anybody that has seen him in the first few practices might be in a rush to panic because honestly, he hasn't looked overly impressive. However, you all need to calm down and there are reasons why:

-Despite the fact that he is being hailed as the messiah of the "WildPat" formation, people also have to keep in mind that a second round pick was spent on him. That also means second round money is being spent on him. Don't forget that the Dolphins have spent three second round picks in the last three years on quarterbacks. John Beck is reunited with Cam Cameron in Baltimore, and Chad Henne is the backup in Miami and is waiting to have the reigns handed to him.

White is the first "Wildcat" quarterback, but also the third-string regular quarterback. That means that a few plays here or there could put him into regular season action. He has to be ready for that, and the Dolphins coaching staff is putting him through situations in training camp that will make him uncomfortable so he can be ready to possibly step up if need be.

-He is coming from a spread offense in West Virginia where he is the NCAA record holder for rushing yards by a quarterback and also only the seventh player in NCAA history to pass and rush for more than 3,000 yards in his career.

At WVU he took all of his snaps from the shotgun, and he now transitions to having to take a majority of the snaps from under center. Some people might take it for granted that a quarterback has to do that but if you have been doing something, anything for four years, doing something you're not used to will take time to get used to. No quarterback has made an easy transition from a spread offense in college to the pros. If you don't believe me, look at Tennessee, where Vince Young is on the bench after being one of the best quarterbacks in NCAA history.

-He's a rookie! Not everyone will be able to experience the success with teams in their first year that Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco had last year. The coaches are tinkering with his throwing motions and getting him adjusted to running a pro-style offense like I mentioned earlier. He will be alright, just give him time to get used to everything. He sounds like a very respectful young man who wants to get better.

Maybe it's just me defending a prediction I made earlier this year, because there were definitely doubters to this pick when it initially happened. He will work out, give him time!

Until next time... Keep reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wide Receivers Looking to Make an Impact This Season

An issue that has followed the Miami Dolphins through last season into the offseason and into training camp has been about the wide receiver position. It is the area on the team that could end up with some of the most competition outside of cornerback, but it is also the area with the most questions.

You can look at the receivers and see a great variety of different receivers that are on the team. You need big receivers? There are three of them that are 6'2" or taller, and two of them were picked in April's draft. Patrick Turner, Brandon London, and Brian Hartline should all make the team. London is the one that may be the closest to being on the bubble as far as numbers are concerned, but I can't see him being but because he is a good talent that would be picked up by another team immediately.

The debate around Dolphins training camp is whether they will keep five receivers or six. They usually only keep four of them active on game day, but the intrigue is arising because of London's improvement. He adds a dimension to the team that could be very interesting. Just imagine London and Turner on the field at the same time. Most corners will have trouble because they will normally be giving up about three or four inches in height.

Turner has shown that he has very good speed for such a tall receiver, and his hands are very good but I think they could be just a bit more consistent. London is just showing impressive playmaking and athletic ability so far in camp. Hartline is solid, and he has the advantage of being a special teams ace which all but guarantees his spot on the team.

What other kinds of receivers would you be looking for? If you're looking for speed, you have Ted Ginn Jr. You want shiftiness and consistency? Davone Bess is your man. You just want a solid receiver with a point to prove? Did someone say Greg Camarillo?

Ginn is obviously expected to produce as a number one receiver in his third year after being drafted in the top 10 of the NFL Draft a few years ago. The third year for most receivers is when you see the biggest jump in production. He definitely showed signs of improvement last season and things seem to be coming a little bit simpler in the early stages of training camp.

Bess is solid, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he has another 50-catch season. He's a smart and consistent player that you know works hard because he went from undrafted free agent out of Hawaii to lock for the 53-man roster for this season. Camarillo should be back from a knee injury and has so far looked good in practices.

There are no number one caliber receivers on the team right now, but that doesn't mean one won't step up during the season. It will be interesting to see what happens as the season progresses.

Next update will be after the next round of practices, so later folks!

Monday, August 3, 2009

1st Day of Two-a-days for Dolphins Training Camp

The first of two practices today is already done, and it was definitely one of those sessions that makes you glad the regular season is still about a month away. Looking at the first two practices, you would have thought that yesterday's practice would have been a mid-training camp practice. Yes, it was that sharp. Today's practice looked more like a first day should. Not necessarily a good thing, but you know Tony Sparano won't have too much more of that and he'll whip the boys into shape.


-Pat White has a long way to go before he can be a contributing quarterback in the NFL. There was only one Wildcat formation play during the morning session, and he was not involved in it. This might be because the coaches don't want to show everything right away, but it was reminiscent of last year with Ronnie Brown taking the snap and handing it off to Ricky Williams.

White is still very inconsistent when it comes to his throws. He has the arm to make pretty much all the passes, but he clearly has to work on his mechanics so he can make those throws more often. He also needs to develop the poise in the pocket, not to mention he still has to get used to taking snaps under center. As of right now, he has the potential to be a good backup in the NFL, but I don't see him being used as more than a Wildcat player until he can develop his game.

-The offense as a whole looked sluggish this morning. There were fumbles, mishandled handoffs, and other things that make you relieved that there are many more practices. This offense doesn't have too many playmakers, so to be effective this season it will have to be efficient and limit the mistakes. Thats what made Chad Pennington so good last year. Cornerback Will Allen intercepting him today wasn't terrible, but it's something to take note of from such a shaky offensive practice.

Well folks, I'll be back later today with another post. I should have some quotes from some players so stay tuned!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dolphins Training Camp: Day 1

It's that time of year folks! That's right, your favorite team is undefeated (even those Detroit Lions fans out there). Optimism is abound for all 32 NFL teams as training camp starts. The Miami Dolphins were the last team in the AFC to start camp, but they started today, and there is no better time in South Florida.

The expectations are high for the Dolphins this year, both on the team and in the stands. This is clear after seeing an announced crowd of 2,250 in the bleachers watching practice. That itself is impressive, but if you throw in the masses of fans watching from the parking garage across the street from the facility and lining up on the fence right outside the fields. I have been going to Dolphins training camps for over 10 years and I have never seen the crowds like they were today. I thought it was absolutely unbelievable. But enough with the sentimental off-field things.

The first day is always going to show signs of rust from all the players, but it was definitely good to see the team get out there and run around in shorts and shoulder pads.

My thoughts and observations from today's practice:

-The wide receivers have a long way to go before they find a true gamebreaker. The regular season is still over a month away, but there was no one that really stood out very much on the first day. Second year receiver Brandon London made the play of the day as he went up over two defensive backs and came down with a long pass down the sidelines.

As far as the big receivers go, he looked better than third round pick Patrick Turner did. Turner dropped a couple of easy passes during drills and looked like he was still adjusting, maybe to the heat and humidity of South Florida. This sure isn't mini-camp anymore.

-The rookie cornerbacks will definitely make a difference this season. Sean Smith is even bigger in person than I read when looking at his numbers. He is big and physical, which will help against the multiple great receivers that are in the AFC East. Vontae Davis also looks good, and is a physical specimen. Although not quite as tall as Smith, he is built very well and is also fast, showing his speed as he ran with Ted Ginn Jr. stride for stride in his deep routes. As of right now, free agent acquisition Eric Green is starting opposite Will Allen. However, Head Coach Tony Sparano said that the other starting corner could change in the coming days. In any event, when the nickel and dime packages are installed you will see all fo the talent on the field. My early prediction is Smith will end up the starter opposite Allen, at least right now. He is too big and too physical to not see action right away.

-LB Matt Roth was not in pads today, he was on the sidelines running for most of the practice. Coach Sparano said that he is currently on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and he failed his conditioning test. He should be on the field in the next few days according to the coach. That's not a good sign at all, and with Jason Taylor coming back he needs to show that he deserves to be on the field. He is supposed to add depth to the linebacker position and I'll be looking in the next few days to see when he gets out on to the field.

-There were a few gadget plays thrown into practice today, but no Wildcat formation. What I saw was a few reverse passes thrown by some of the receivers. I think that some of it was to please the fans on the first day, nothing that was going to shake up the playbook. Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning is definitely going to be keeping opposing defenses on their toes this year

Thats all for today, I'll be back with another post tomorrow after the morning practice. It is the Dolphins first two-a-day of training camp, so the information will be coming steadfastly. Be on the lookout!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Turning up the Heat in Free Agency

For the NBA fans who can't get enough basketball talk, fear not. Free agency started at midnight last night, and fans abound are fantasizing about who their favorite team will pick up in order to make them a championship contender this season. In all reality however, most fans are looking forward to the free agency of next year. The 2010 free agency could potentially see LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer, Manu Ginobili, Amare Stoudamire, and Michael Redd among other names. I say potentially because a lot of things could happen in the next year as far as trades and contract extensions go.

Next year's free agency is most certainly going to affect the moves that teams make this year. They could choose to not make any major moves in order to save money for next year. This honestly could be the biggest free agent market in the history of the NBA.

This is in contrast to this free agency season, which honestly is one of the years that you actually do not want to be a free agent. The highlights of this class include Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Hedo Turkoglu, and Andre Miller. A very solid group of players, but nothing close to what could happen this time next year.

(Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are reported to have signed with the Detroit Pistons)

Why I'm writing this, however, is specifically referring to the Miami Heat's situation in this offseason, the 09-10 season, and next offseason. I personally think that there is a very good chance that it go one of three ways: really good, really bad, or stay the same. It sounds so simple, but in fact it could be very complex.

The dream scenario for Heat fans would be to get a big man along the lines of Bosh or Stoudamire to go along with Wade. That way, the Heat would have two big-time players, which is essentially what you need in order to be a legitimate championship contender.

There are problems in trying to get these superstars. One would be, in the case of a trade, who is Miami willing to part with? In all likelihood any trade for either of those two big men would involve Michael Beasley, the second pick from the 2008 draft. Are Heat fans willing to do what could essentially be called trading away your future for the present? Keep in mind that the Heat would probably have to give up another bench player and a draft pick possibly to get someone of the caliber of Bosh or Stoudamire.

Something else to keep in mind is since those players would be unrestricted free agents at the end of next season, a trade for them would definitely have to include signing them to a long-term deal. Do the Heat have that kind of money? They are saving money this offseason, but that is also in the hopes of re-signing Wade. As we all know, that won't be cheap itself. The biggest question will be this, will there be enough money in Miami to sign a Chris Bosh and re-sign Dwyane Wade? People also have to keep in mind that Bosh has already openly expressed that he wouldn't mind playing with King James, and James said he wouldn't mind playing with Wade. In all honesty, I don't see Wade playing with James down here. The only way that happens is if Wade County is on the move.

The Heat fans may also have to look at the harsh reality that Wade could be on the move next offseason. If the Heat have another average season or anything around there, including a first round exit, then Wade could really look at his options out there. Other teams with more money will be more than willing to throw money at Wade. A team like the New York Knicks or New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets could have the salary cap space to afford Lebron and D Wade. These are things that Heat fans definitely do not want to hear, but it is very possible.

What could happen this offseason is the Heat go out and pick up a solid big man, maybe like a Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, or Chris Andersen. That would allow Udonis Haslem to go back to his natural position of power forward. They also need to get Michael Beasley on the court to allow him to show his potential. In the mean time Heat fans, enjoy the ride for this season, because none of us know what will happen beyond that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Burress vs. B. Marshall

I put a status on my Facebook that asked for a couple of topics to debate, and I thank those who gave me something to rant about. I knew about the topics, but being able to see them will allow me to focus and really attack the topics. In case you were wondering, NO BRETT FAVRE!!!! Anyways, back to the first topic.

Plaxico Burress vs. Brandon Marshall-better on field acquisition?
-This is a very interesting question because both of them have off-field problems they are dealing with. I would personally take Plaxico Burress, even if you take the off-field problems out of the equation. That is not to say that Marshall is not an elite NFL wide receiver in his own right, but Burress has proven himself in big games.

When I look at Plax, I look at a receiver who was not able to practice during their Super Bowl season in 2007 yet he was still able to end up with 70 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has shown the ability to come up big in big games, as evidenced by his game winning Super Bowl catch to defeat the once undefeated Patriots that season.

I don't believe that Marshall even plays with that kind of injury, because something that would keep you from practicing would usually keep you from playing. Like I said earlier, Marshall has been able to put up amazing stats (206 catches for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns in the last two seasons) and he is an amazing athlete but I don't believe he will be able to react to the on-field adversity.

As much as you would like to discount the off-field issues, doing that would simply turn this into fantasy football. While Burress has his issues, such as shooting himself in the leg and criminal possession of a handgun. He has also had problems with NY Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin for coming late to meetings. However, I do not think that he has the problems that Marshall has. Marshall has had domestic disturbances, yet he still denies it. Marshall also seems to be more of a diva to me than Burress, and this is at the biggest diva position in all of professional sports. Requesting for a trade from the Denver Broncos just because there are some things that you may not like seems to show me a lack of professionalism.

All in all, if I'm a general manager of an NFL team, I'm taking Burress over Marshall. Now would I actually sign either of them? That's a question for another day....

For next time: Is Josh McDaniels turning the Denver Broncos into the Detroit Lions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In the Fast "Lane", but to where?

Not many people could find much wrong with the hiring of Lane Kiffin at the University of Tennessee. Even I thought it was an intriguing hire and that it could definitely pay immediate dividends because of Kiffin's name, his offensive mind and connections around college football. Oh how things have changed in a half year.

Roughly six months, and there have been six violations. They have all been minor violations but still violations nonetheless. He has also accused a fellow coach in his conference of cheating, which he was wrong about. You also can't forget that he has already had a rule inspired by him and let go of his strength and conditioning coach not too far into the summer.

The latest mishap actually involves ESPN, but this time it involves the sports super station directly instead of through sources like is the case more often than not. Kiffin was taped during an Outside the Lines segment talking with unidentified people who have since been identified as recruits. The NCAA rules prohibit a member of the media to be in the room when a coach is talking with recruits. Even if they weren't identified, anyone who has a decent amount of knowledge about college football would be able to tell who they are based off of how he was treating them and what they were talking about. Coaches don't have to be buddy buddy and talk about coverages you may like when you've already signed the letter of intent, because you're already the property of the university. Some people may choose to blame ESPN because they had to have known it was a violation and still put the clip on the air, setting Kiffin up for the violation. However if Kiffin was aware of the rules then he could easily kicked the cameramen out of the room for the period of time for the interview. His ignorance for the minor NCAA rules kept him from doing that though.

His other violations include mentioning recruits by name before he signed with the program on Twitter when it is a violation to do such. This one showed irresponsibility because he is not the one who actually "tweeted" the post, it was an assistant of his. Having an assistant do it is fine, but I'm thinking all employees need to know the NCAA rules. Kiffin lack of knowledge for the rules is starting to have an effect on his staff and makes me wonder if they all have that same lack of knowledge.

His recruits and recruiting has certainly been very controversial as well. He has so far signed someone who had a role in a rape when he was younger, a player he lured away from a fellow SEC school. Coincidentally (or not depending on how you look at it) that same recruit was involved in Kiffin wrongly accusing Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer of a recruiting violation when he called a recruit on a visit on the UT campus.

He also was able to lure big-time recruit Bryce Brown away from Miami. This isn't necessarily bad, but it shows his willingness to win by what seems any means necessary because Brown showed himself to be a bit of a primadonna during the recruiting process. As a result, the pressure is not only on Brown to be great but on Kiffin as well to play him right away. He might not actually be ready, but that won't matter.

The commissioner of the SEC made a rule a couple of weeks ago which forbids coaches from criticizing each other in the publicly. This, of course, is stemming from Kiffin and his dealings with other coaches within the conference. I believe that this is all putting a crazy amount of pressure on Kiffin in his first year. Their team will be decent, but they still have a long ways to go to get back to the top of the conference.

You also have to keep in mind the target that is being put on his back as well as the target that he is putting on the backs of all the players on his team. So far at least 10 players have left the teams, which does not speak well for what Kiffin has done there already. He says he only wants players that want to play UT football, but those kids did want to play UT football. Then he came, and did something (or things) that made them want to leave. I don't know exactly why they left, but I can't blame them anymore than the coach without knowing what actually happened. This is especially considering Kiffin's track record so far at the school.

If anybody read one of my earlier posts, they should know that I am NOT a Florida Gators fan in any sense of the word. I am objective however and believe that if Meyer and the Gators have a chance to drop 60+ points on the Vols in September, they will take it and use it fully. That goes for any team in the conference that is going to play Kiffin and the bunch this season.

His mouth has written more than their fair share of checks in his six months being coach at UT. Will his players be able to cash the checks? Because when the season starts, he won't matter as much as he thinks he will. All of the pressure will transfer from him to his players.

Monday, May 25, 2009

2010 JU Lacrosse Schedule Packs a Punch, But What Kind of Punch?

ThE 2009 NCAA Lacrosse season is over and Syracuse was crowned the national champion. Watching the game on Memorial Day only got me more hyped for the inaugural season for JU lacrosse at the Division 1 level. The schedule was just released last week and it definitely will offer a challenge to Matt Kerwick and his young bunch next season:


2/13/2010 BELLARMINE

2/27/2010 at VMI
Lexington, Va.
3/2/2010 MOUNT ST. MARY'S


3/10/2010 YALE

3/13/2010 SACRED HEART

3/20/2010 MANHATTAN

3/27/2010 at Robert Morris
Moon Township, Pa.
4/3/2010 at Duke
Durham, N.C.
4/10/2010 RUTGERS

4/17/2010 at Presbyterian
Clinton, S.C.
4/24/2010 at Hofstra
Hempstead, N.Y.

The schedule offers a nice mix of powerful teams in NCAA lacrosse along with some teams in the lower-tier of Division 1 that will allow for some competitive games for JU.

According to rankings, JU will play two teams in the top seven in the country. The first of those teams will come in the first game for the Dolphins when they take on North Carolina. I do not believe that their schedule will be as difficult as some people will say however.

The combined record of all 13 teams Jacksonville plays next year is 91-108, which averages out to about a 7-8 record. Five of the 13 teams have a winning record, with two of the teams (Manhattan & Robert Morris) in the bottom half of the country in the rankings. Any team that has already been playing d-1 college lacrosse would find this schedule fairly easy.

I'm not here to say that this will be an easy schedule or even a decent schedule, because for a team with mostly freshman, a few transfers and some kids that could make it from the club team, their heads will be spinning from the competition. Most of the teams on the schedule are not used to playing teams that they know they will be better than. It sucks to say it, but the Dolphins will struggle this year as they get adjusted to life as a division 1 team. All the tools are in place for this team to succeed eventually, but everyone takes their bumps and bruises in their first season so it will be nothing to be ashamed of.

It is something that I am excited to be apart of next year, one way or another!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Chronicles of Berry: My Thoughts on Greece

For the past couple of weeks I've given you pretty much a day-by-day account of what's been going on here in Athens. Today I want to switch it up and talk to you about my perspective on this city. Keep in mind it's merely an American's thoughts whose only been here for a couple weeks, anybody whose been here can chime in and tell me if I'm accurate or not. Here we go:

- Food: It seems like they take so much more time to prepare the food here compared to back in the states. Everything from the pizza to the salad to the fruit just seems to taste that much fresher over here. Even if you go into fast food places like McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut you will see much cleaner looking establishments than you would in the US.

Even the things that are mass-produced (candy and juice, for example) just seem to have that extra care that I don't see back home. One of the many great things I had while I was here was strawberry juice. I love strawberries and I've always wanted it in juice form but you really don't find that in the US, and I found it over here. It tastes absolutely great, I wish I could bring the whole brand back with me. I guess I'll have to come back to Greece soon. I really could get fat over here with all the food I love. By the way, I think I mentioned it before in a previous post but if you ever go to Nafplio, please check out the gelato shop here. It is absolutely the best gelato I've ever had. Granted I've never been to Italy but still! If you didn't notice I loved the food over here.

-Smoking: Simply put, there is no place in Athens that you can't smoke! It's unbelievable. It's also interesting because as I read and experienced Athens, I found out that there are laws that ban smoking in public places. I had yet to be in a public place in Athens for the entire trip that adehered to those rules. It was really something to see everybody that smokes; the most astonishing statistic that I read while I was there was that one in four 10-year-olds smoke. 10 years old! That is insane, I can only imagine how bad it is at 12 or 14 or even 20! You could see a very attractive young lady over there and there was a pretty good chance that she smoked, which is a shame.

-I am thankful that we ended up in the neighborhood that we did for our stay in Athens. Pangrati is an actual neighborhood in Athens, not a tourist area where most of the locals spoke english. I think it was good for while we were there because it helped us learn how to deal with being there. If all we had was people speaking to us in english, it would have been too easy. Truthfully, I came to Greece because I wanted to experience a different culture and obviously a different language. It's not an easy language at all but one that is worth the time and effort to at least learn the basics. We as Americans have butchered the pronunciation of the Greek alphabet. We probably only get about 15% of it right, it is really something to see.

-For the most part, the people in Athens were nice and willing to help. They could clearly tell that I was American, with the only exception being one lady who thought I could have pulled off being French. There were a few people who fit the "cold" European stereotype but for the most part they were very friendly and helpful.

All in all this was an extremely enjoyable experience and I would absolutely love to do it again. I'll be back to my regular blogs coming up soon, I have plenty to talk about. Thanks to everybody who was with me on my tour of Athens!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Chronicles of Berry: Delphi

Monday was another long day filled with bus rides, historical sites, and a museum. Our destination for the day was the town of Delphi, about three hours away from Athens. We first met up with Keti, another of the ladies who worked at the Athens Centre. We ended up taking a full-sized tour bus, one that was entirely too big for just four students, a professor, and an extra lady. Nonetheless, we were off to Delphi with one stop for breakfast.

When we got to Delphi, we met up with Elektra, who would be our tour guide for the day. Of all the beautiful sceneries I have seen so far in Greece, this had to be at the top. You could see the mountains for miles (or kilometres here). You can also see down into the valley and see the houses; it is just an absolutely breathtaking scene to behold.

Elektra toured us through Delphi, which had a temple dedicated to Apollo, the god of music, poetry, and oracles. This is also the site of the Delphi oracle, which is the most important in the classical Greek world. This had to be one of the more fascinating sites we went to since we've been here in Greece.

Delphi was also home to the Pythians, which was a precursor to the Olympic games. The stadium is still in existence, and through abotu ten minutes of climbing, the four of us students finally reached it. It was a very long stadium and the seats didn't go up very far, maybe about 10-15 rows. I would have really like to see what it looked like in ancient times as the athletes went about trying to win the crown of leaves (which went to the winner; there were no rewards for second and third place like there is today).

Elektra was particularly interesting as a tourguide because of how she delivered the tour to us. She was as passionate as someone could be about the site, and to think that she has to have that knowledge about all of these archaeological sites in Greece is mind-blowing. There were plenty of things she explained that really stuck in my head, like breaking down the name of Philadelphia. Philos means love, and Delphi means brother. It's crazy to think about where the "City of Brotherly Love" got its name from, but it came from ancient times. What made her good was the stories she had for all of the different parts of the site. It felt like I could actually use my imagination to see where everything was from the ancient times.

After we walked down from the site, we met back up with Elektra and went on a tour of the museum. Once again, the stories she knew were really able to bring the artifacts to life in a sense. We were able to go through the different artifacts from what would have been in the acropolis. We saw some sculptures of what would have Asclepios and his twin sister Artemis in some pretty amazing detail. Words can't fully describe everything you see at these sites.

When we finished with the museum, we said our goodbyes to Elektra and went to grab a quick bite to eat and something to drink. They were selling cups of some really nice looking slushies for 3 euros and 50 cents. It was pretty much worth it for what I got. We all took the bus after that for a long bus ride back to Athens, though it didn't feel as long as the ride to Delphi. Although it was a long day, it was definitely another memorable one. Our professor Dick said that what we're doing is what people have spent their whole lives trying to do. In the span of two weeks! It really makes you appreciate the experience that we've had so far and whatever is yet to come. Today (Tuesday) was another semi-off day. I sent off postcards, got some laundry done (or done for me, at a crazy expensive price) and took another quiz for Dick's class. This one I feel supremely confident that I did great on.

Tomorrow is the Island of Aegina, so tune in soon for that post! Until next time blog followers....

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Chronicles of Berry: It's Saturdaaaaay!!!!

Our Saturday was nothing short of very very long. We had to wake up seven in the morning, which is never much of a Saturday tradition back in the states. We all pulled ourselves out of bed and met Dick downstairs to go meet our guide for the day and the minivan.

When we got to the corner of the street that we were supposed to meet our tourguide at, he was nowhere to be found at first. Then, a guy came up from behind us and asked us our names in as American of an accent as we'll hear while we're in Athens. His name was John, and after we met up with him we went over to what we thought would be a minivan. Instead it turned out to be a small bus that was really nice. Just like a bunch of things over here in Athens. Iris came with us as well, but this time I think it was just to tag along.

I slept for the first part of the ride to Mycenae, and on the way we stopped in Corinth for a bathroom break and to get something to eat and drink. While we were there we saw the famous Corinth Canal. When I tell you that it's a far way down, I lie to you not. From where we stood at the top of the canal to the bottom, it was about a 300 foot drop. Not the best for me, seeing as I'm not a big fan of heights. I had to get off of there pretty quickly needless to say. Now we were really off to Mycenae.

When we got to Mycenae, we took a look at the citadel of Mycenae. Once again, another grand site that shows off some of the rich history of ancient Greece. It's still kind of hard to get a true idea of what the place looked like since it's mostly grass and some stones now, but using your imagination does wonders to aid the process. There were plenty of different things that we saw, including the entrance to the citadel, which had to be one of the most impressive things about the entire site. As you walk up, you see two lions etched in stone above the entrance. These stones are not small either, they have been called "cyclops stones" because it is believed that only cyclops would have been able to carry them up to where they were.

After Mycenae, we went to Nafplios. Nafplios was actually the first capital of Greece (little history lesson vor everybody out there). This was an island that is what you think about when you see postcards and tourist pamphlets. Kids were playing outside, the sun was out and no clouds were in the sky, the water was as clear as I've ever seen it in my life (definitely a far cr from the St. Johns River). We stopped here and got some lunch at this little taverna that was barely noticed by anyone but John, who obviously had been there before. I ordered some meatballs and french fried potatoes for lunch and tired a little bit of the swordfish that Steve ordered. It was all very good and had me bordering on the edge of being full (which is hard to do. After lunch, we went over to a gelato shop which Iris insisted that we go to. I'm glad she instisted on it, because she treated us to what had to be the best gelato I've ever had. The lemon, mango, and strawberry gelato was quite simply amazing. It astonishes me to see the amount of care they put into making food over here compared to in the states, but that's for another entry.

After Nafplio, we went over to Epidaurus. This is home to the Temples of Asclepios and Artemis. The story is that Asclepios' mother died as she gave birth to him, so his goal in life was to help heal people. He thus became the god of medicine. The site that we went to was huge and had plenty of different places to go. We saw what used to be a gymnasium where athletes used to train, Greek and Roman showers (which are very different, by the way), and the place where families stayed if a family member got sick. All in all it was an interesting site. Now it was time to head back to Athens.

On the bus, I did as I always do, SLEEP! I got woken up a bit prematurely however as the bus we were riding in broke down in the middle of a horrendous traffic jam. Luckily, we weren't too far away from the apartment so we just hiked it on foot from where the bus broke down.

At night, we decided to go out for a little bit. We ended up finding an Irish pub right in Monastiraki Square. It was fun, we were able to find more "study-abroaders" from the states. It was fun to be able to converse with more people. I was scolded by one girl that I met for having a Yankees cap on (FYI, I don't like the Yankees but I do feel like that cap can be worn with most anything!) All in all it was a fun night, except for having to pay 15 euros to get back home.

Sunday was a true off day, all I did was sleep, study, and eat. Kind of like what I do in the states when I'm at school, except maybe not quite in that order. Anyways, until next time faithful "Chronicles" readers!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Chronicles of Berry: Thursday & Friday of Week One

First, I have to say thank you to my most faithful reader, Mama Flynn, for coming up with the great name I can use for my blog while I'm here. It was only genius enough for me to not come up with it. Anyhow, this update is a two-for-one because Thursday and Friday weren't terribly eventful. Here we go!

Thursday morning, the four of us and Dick walked down to the Old Olympic Stadium (which is by the way a beautiful and amazing piece of architecture!) to meet up with Iris. After we found her, we got on the bus and headed down to the National Archaeological Museum of Greece. After we got off the bus, we had a little bit of time to kill before we went inside, so I did the obvious when I have free time. EAT! I got this bacon, egg and cheese pastry which once again seemed to be better than anything that I've had in the states that is similar. After that solid breakfast, we sat down to get a quick lecture about the different historical time periods in relation to Ancient Greece. Then we were off to experience the museum.

Once we got inside, we found out just how much history there was in ancient Greece. Almost too much for four students to digest in a few hours! There was definitely some interesting things to look at though. By the way, if you want to check out some pictures from the museum as well as some other pictures on the trip, click on this link:

Among the various things we saw at the museum were how statues were used in ancient times and how they varied and became more detailed as time went on. They were initially used as tombstones would have been used today. Essentially, imagine going to a cemetery and seeing statues and the grave sites instead of tombstones. As time went on, the statues would get more and more lavish until they were eventually outlawed. After that, the tombs featured much more subdued images. It was really interesting just to think how much extravagance has been a thorn in the side of society for thousands of years; it's not just something that started with "bling-bling".

Something we saw that plenty of people would have liked is weapons that were excavated from the Battle of Thermopylae. Not ringing a bell yet? If you remember the movie 300, you should remember that is the battle it is based off of. They had some of the weapons from that battle and you can see those in the picture album. Just in case a few of you readers did not realize that the movie was based off a real life event, here you go! No excuses now.

We also saw how the ancient people used various materials to make these wonderful sculptures. At first, it was mostly marble. However as time progressed, they obviously realized that marble can't be sculpted in certain ways or else it would probably fall off (arms and legs sticking out for instance). A picture in the album shows Zeus (or Poseidon, it's been debated) with his arm sticking out in a position to hold what would have been a bolt of lightining. That would not have been able to be done with marble because the arm would have fallen off. One of my favorite statues had to have been of the minotaur (the head of a bull and lower body of a man). It just looked really cool.

Something else I saw that I liked was the images on the pottery which showed the goddess of Athena Nike (which means victory for all you ignorant Nike heads out there). She would be judging different competitions. It was cool to hear about how the athletes would clean themselves off with olive oil and then scrape it off after their practice or competition. You know something having to do with sports would catch my interest.

The museum was huge, and it felt like an accomplishment when we got to the end! Afterwards, we got on the bus and headed back to the apartment. We had another great quiz from Dick and that was about it for the day.

Friday wasn't too eventful at all, and we would need it to be like that because Saturday promised to be extremely busy. We just had another quiz and chilled for the day. It felt good just to be able to rest for a little bit. Until next time, stay tuned for the "Chronicles"!

P.S.- Happy Mother's Day to every mother out there, especially mine!!!! Love you!