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The SportsTalk Shop: 2014 Year-in-Review (Part 1)

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Time is running out on the 2014 calendar, which means it’s time for our annual shows and “SportsTalk Shop” blog postings that look back at highlights from the past 12 months.  Each year we come up with new categories for our special “RCN SportsTalk” panelists to respond to on our show, which will air several times over the holiday season and also available on RCN On-Demand.  Here’s a look at this year’s topics; you are welcome to email (RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com) your responses to these questions and maybe we’ll read your opinions on the show:

Best Running Back in Eastern PA this fall
Most Intriguing Team in 2014
Most Overplayed Story of 2014
Biggest “Oh My” Moment of 2014
Most Underrated Story of 2014
A “Shout-out” to one sports personality this year
Biggest Sign The Sports Apocalypse is Near
Sports Personality You Would Have Liked to See More of in 2014
Best & Worst Sports Decision Made in 2014
Something Witnessed in 2014 That You Hope To See Again
Best Performance By An Underclassmen
Biggest Turnaround in 2014
Most Lasting Image of 2014 (Local & National)

Then, for our last segment…looking ahead to 2015:

Toughest Coaching Challenge for 2015
One Team & Player to watch in 2015
Something “New” You’d Like to See in 2015
One Piece of Advice for an Athlete/Coach in 2015
“Stone-Cold” Lock To Happen 2015

Here are a few of my own responses to these topics (you’ll have to watch the show to get my takes on the rest of them).

For “Most Overplayed Story of 2014,” I have to target ESPN’s thrashing of the 76ers’ ‘tanking’ strategy.  It wasn’t enough that they have been poking fun at the team’s idea of losing on purpose so that they can acquire better draft picks and clear salary cap space to pave the way for a brighter future.  They’ve piled on by constantly putting them on their “Not Top 10” list and frequently ask their NBA analysts about the team’s pitiful plight, repeatedly asking their experts if this is the worst team of all time—in any sport!  If you want to hammer the organization for its theory—fine.  But what has annoyed me of late is that, when Magic Johnson suggests that his Lakers lose on purpose to follow the same idea, they fall over themselves praising his “ingenious” theory.

Hello…national hypocrites?  You can’t bash one team’s idea for months, then praise another team for the exact same idea just because you’re fans of the greatest Lakers player of all time.  Have some backbone and either stick with your initial opinion, or get off the Sixers’ collective backs and stop trashing them every chance you get.  Yes, we know they stink—and they’re good at being bad.  That’s the whole idea.  Stop reporting their losses like you’re surprised…and remember how much you criticized them if they are contending for a world title four or five…or six…years from now.

A “Shout-out” to one sports personality this year:  Salisbury’s girls basketball head coach, Joe Mladosich.  He not only earned his 200th coaching win this past year, but, like so many scholastic coaches, did it without the fanfare and publicity that other sports garnish.  In fact, Coach Mladosich tried to kept the approaching honor a secret from the team.  Most of his players didn’t even know when he was going to eclipse the milestone victory, and the few associated with the program who did know, he asked to keep it a secret.  I had a chance to speak with his girls and they all spoke highly of their coach and felt honored to be part of his program and his special victory.  When we interviewed him for “SportsTalk” about his accomplishment this past year, he was very unassuming about his success and instead placed the credit on his assistant coaches and his players.  On behalf of all the coaches who pass up self-promotion to put the spotlight on their team, I’d like to recognize Joe’s unselfish acts as my “shout-out” person of the year.

Most Intriguing Team in 2014.  No doubt for me…I’d have to go with the Becahi girls basketball program.  Very few Lehigh Valley teams in any sport had more success than the Hawks in 2014…only to see their head coach, Bill Lanscek, get the hook at the end of the season.  Becahi responded by hiring one of the brightest basketball minds in Megan Dellegrotti, fresh off multiple appearances (and wins) in the Colonial League Girls’ Basketball Championship game, only to have her resign less than two weeks before the start of the season.  I’m not going to speculate here on what’s going on with the program and their coaching staff.  I’ve heard tremendous things about their newest head coach, Jose Medina.  His team should again contend for a state title in 2015, but, unfortunately, the coaching storylines for this program made them my most intriguing squad from this past year.

Biggest “Oh My” Moment of 2014.  I’m going to have to cheat a little on this one and add an “s” to the word “moment.”  However, there were just too many highlights to separate just one from the games involving the Notre Dame and Catasauqua boys basketball teams (we’ll have highlights of these games on our TV show).  These two teams made for some of the most exhilarating moments of the year in both the Colonial League AND District XI 2A Championship games.  Half-court shots made at the buzzer, one player (Vincent Eze) blocking ten shots in a game, a last second rebound/game-winning basket (also by Eze), amazing baskets from Brandon Purrone, David Wetherhold, Dakota Shiffer, Tannor Reed and many others…all made for multiple great moments.  Throw-in the fact that the one championship game had to be rescheduled and came on the heels of our biggest snowstorm of the year AND came at the end of four consecutive broadcasts I did for RCN, definitely made for a memorable night.

Sports Personality You Would Have Liked to See More of in 2014.  Former Olympian, Spokesperson, Author, Coach and Humanitarian Joetta Clark Diggs was one of the many sports personalities that I was blessed to meet for the first time this past year, and was so fortunate to hear some of her stories and views on women sports issues this past year on our studio show.  She has very interesting views on many topics, runs camps that benefit local youths and recently published a new book.  In order to even start giving due to all of her accomplishments, I’m going to focus on her in an upcoming edition of the “SportsTalk Shop” early in 2015.

I’ll be on vacation for the next several days but be sure to check back as “SportsTalk” co-host Joe Craig will also share his thoughts looking back at the past year.  Also, check out our “year-in-review” show on RCN-TV and don’t forget to tune in to all of RCN’s special holiday programming and its Christmas Takeover.  My personal favorites are the “Jack Benny Christmas Special” and a true classic—the Jimmy Durante film, “A Christmas Wish.”  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!