Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 3/22/09

The word “domination” is often misused/overused in the sports world–but NOT in this case: The Trinity College (CT) squash team just won its 11th straight national championship and 202nd match in a row–simply MIND-BOGGLING numbers in these days of competitive college athletics. I was privileged to interview coach Paul Assaiante on “Monday Night Sports Talk” recently–where he talked fondly of the team-oriented individuals (including some scholar-athletes) that he’s been honored to coach during this streak; he also lent keen insight into the game of squash in general and touched upon its international appeal. Assaiante had players from SEVEN different countries on this past year’s roster; my co-host Tony DeAngelo called him “a true ambassador for the sport.” Congratulations, Paul; your accomplishments and continued focus on excellence cannot be publicized ENOUGH……….TRIVIA QUESTION: During the 1928-’29 NHL season, goalie George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens recorded a remarkable 22 shutouts. Since then, what goalie has put together the most shutouts in one season? Answer to follow……….Congrats go out to my good friend Roy Lawrence of Marlborough (CT)–who was recently selected by the CT Sports Writers’ Alliance to receive a “Good Sport” Award at the upcoming Gold Key Dinner to be held April 26th at the Aqua Turf in Southington. A retired educator, Lawrence spent the majority of his teaching career in the town of Columbia where he coached ALL four sports (soccer, baseball, basketball, and track) over a 25-year period–starting the baseball program there. Roy has spent time in Johannesburg, South Africa as a volunteer soccer coach through “Ambassadors in Sport”; he’s also run baseball clinics, built fields, and collected/provided equipment to residents of Uruguay during his work as a sports missionary in that country. Having been fortunate enough to coach with this fine gentleman, I can relay first-hand that very few individuals have given back to the community–or to kids in general–more than one Roy Lawrence. A richly-deserved award, for sure……….Some more dominant numbers for you: Of the 23 Little East Women’s Basketball tournaments played since 1987, the University of Southern Maine has won NINETEEN of them. Whoa………This week in sports history, March 24, 1956: San Francisco stakes its claim as one of college basketball’s all-time greatest teams–beating Iowa 83-71 in the NCAA championship game for its 55th consecutive victory. Bill Russell scored 26 points and pulled down 27 rebounds as the Dons became the first team to win the national title with a perfect record (29-0). Iowa actually led at one point 15-4, but Russell’s domination of the Hawkeyes’ high-scoring center Bill Logan–held to just 12 points–proved to be the difference as San Francisco repeated as national champions……….How crazy/encompassing has this whole steroids thing become for yours truly? The other day I saw a squirrel under my bird feeder clutching a piece of bread that was almost as big as its BODY–and I immediately surmised that the critter MUST be on the “juice.”……….Answer to trivia question: TONY ESPOSITO of the Chicago Blackhawks–who recorded an impressive 15 shutouts during the 1969-’70 NHL season……….Call me crazy, but the first time a misjudged fly ball goes over the head of Manny Ramirez this season–and he proceeds to loaf after it–manager Joe Torre is gonna need something MUCH stronger than green tea in order to cope with the aftermath……….Happy birthday wishes go out to former NBA player/current coach Mike Woodson–who blows out 51 candles on March 24th. A native of Indianapolis who was a two-time All-American at Indiana, Woodson played 11 seasons for seven different teams between 1980 and 1991–averaging 14 ppg for his entire career. Perhaps Woodson’s finest season came during the ’82-’83 campaign while with the Knicks–a season in which he averaged 18.2 ppg while shooting more than 50% from the field; Mike also averaged 12.2 ppg while playing in 13 career postseason games. Woodson is currently in his fifth season as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks; best wishes, Mike……….Finally, condolences go out to the family of former Alabama A&M baseball coach Thomas Wesley–who died recently of a heart attack at the age of 51. Wesley guided the Bulldogs for 16 seasons between 1991 and 2006–winning 238 games. He led his squad to the 1993 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship–which turned out to be the high point of his coaching career. After leaving A&M, Wesley worked as a recreation assistant at the North Alabama Regional Hospital in Decatur. Rest in peace, “Coach.”

About the Author

Bob Lazzari

Bob Lazzari is an award-winning sports columnist for both Connecticut's Valley Times and NY Sports Day--where his "Sports Roundup" column is featured weekly. He is a member of the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance and host of "Monday Night Sports Talk" --a cable television show on CTV/Channel14 in Connecticut. A Fordham grad, Bob is a regular contributor to ESPN Radio's "Inside Yankee Baseball"; he can also be heard weekly every Tuesday morning on WXLM/104.7 FM in New London, CT. He has a popular blog where many of his past columns have been archived.

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