National : Former SU lacrosse captain Plunket starts up program at Division III Albright College

first_img Comments While most lacrosse coaches are at practice, Jake Plunket is holed up in his office. His longest days are spent making phone calls and sending emails to recruits for 14 hours. And when he does leave the office, his work goes with him.‘Sometimes I’ll go home for what I think is going to be an early night,’ Plunket said. ‘I get home at 6:30 p.m., and I end up making calls until 10 o’clock at night just in a blink.’Plunket was hired as the first head coach of the brand new men’s lacrosse program at Albright College in Reading, Pa., in October. The head coach — a former Syracuse lacrosse player from 2002-05 — has been working the phones all year, trying to fill out his roster to begin play in Division III in the spring of 2012.Albright received a $1 million donation from the John K. Roessner III Trust in July to fund a new practice facility and the operational costs of the first three years of the men’s and women’s lacrosse programs.Rick Ferry, Albright’s co-director of athletics, said the school wanted to add lacrosse for more than eight years. Many prospective students asked about lacrosse, but the school didn’t have the field space or locker rooms to support new programs, Ferry said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘We could say, ‘Well, we have club lacrosse,” Ferry said. ‘If you’re a competitive athlete, you want the varsity level. We didn’t have that to offer.’The lacrosse programs will help attract students who can afford the private school’s tuition, Ferry said. In time, he expects lacrosse to become a ‘high-profile’ sport that regularly competes for championships.To achieve that goal, Ferry had to bring in a high-profile coach. Plunket played on two national championship teams at Syracuse and served as the team captain his senior year. He also played Major League Lacrosse for the Rochester Rattlers from 2007-08.Plunket graduated from Syracuse in 2005 and went to SUNY Cortland that fall for his master’s degree. He planned to be a gym teacher after graduate school, but his plans changed during his first semester. His gym teacher from elementary school, Rich Barnes, then the head coach at Cortland, offered Plunket an assistant coaching job.After helping the team win the 2006 Division III national championship in his first year, he was hooked.‘It got to the point where it’s like, ‘Do I want to be a teacher, or do I want to be a coach?” Plunket said. ‘I jumped at the opportunity to coach, and it’s something I’ve never looked back from.’Plunket spent two more years at Cortland before taking an assistant coaching job at Division III Hampden-Sydney in Virginia for the past two seasons.Ferry said other candidates had more experience than Plunket’s five years — all as an assistant — but his energetic personality and reputation as a tireless worker convinced Ferry to hire him.‘This is a guy that could go out everywhere and anywhere and sell the program and get us on the map,’ Ferry said. ‘That high-energy approach, along with the Syracuse pedigree, I don’t know that guys like that are falling off trees for startup programs.’Plunket wants to pass that Syracuse pedigree onto his players at Albright. He said he wants his program to have the same Division I mentality.The head coach said his team will have fall season and offseason workouts in the weight room every day. Plunket also wants his team to play with the same ‘free style’ SU head coach John Desko encouraged while Plunket was in college.‘You go there, and you’re not put into a certain mold,’ Plunket said. ‘I want to do that as a coach. I’m not going to get on them every time they make a mistake.’His Syracuse connections were crucial in landing Cortland High School senior attack Phil Potter. When Plunket was still playing at Syracuse, he coached Potter at some lacrosse camps in Homer, N.Y. Potter said he remembered Plunket when he received an email from the coach last fall.Plunket wanted Potter to join him at Albright. Potter, though, was being recruited by Division I programs Providence and Binghamton and Division II powerhouse Le Moyne.But he chose Albright because of Plunket.‘Knowing Coach Plunket, he’s one of the best lacrosse players in the world,’ Potter said. ‘When I went and met him for the visit, that really made my decision clear.’Plunket still has work to do. He said he currently has about 10 commitments for next season. And he knows tough times are ahead with a team of first-year players. With road trips planned for recruiting and scouting this spring, Plunket will have the chance to get out of his office, too.But also waiting there is his motivation to succeed. A commemorative Wheaties box featuring his 2004 Syracuse national championship team sits on a shelf across from his desk. To the left of that is a 2007 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship trophy from Cortland’s national runner-up finish that season.‘It lights a fire in me to want to bring the right players in,’ Plunket said. ‘To bring it from the bottom and keep improving and finally one day being at the top level.’rjgery@syr.edu Published on March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: rjgery@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Syracuse is a Sweet 16 sleeper

first_imgThe little guys of March have all been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.Thanks for the memories, Stephen F. Austin, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas-Little Rock.In many ways, this postseason fiasco is all about the little guys. Their magic against the powerhouses never fails to appease college basketball fans’ morbid fascination with seeing their brackets crumble.And while this Sweet 16 features exactly zero real underdogs, there is one particularly intriguing team still hanging around.Of course we see you, Syracuse.The Orange racked up 13 losses on the season. This meant that Jim Boeheim’s not-so-star-studded team was on the bubble to even make the field of 68. However, after its self-imposed postseason ban just a year ago, ’Cuse squeezed its way into the tourney and now has officially completed its return to primetime.Because of Northern Iowa’s historic collapse against Texas A&M, Syracuse is really the last team remaining that truly feels like an enigma.Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Duke also finished with 10 or more losses this season, but these teams were grabbing headlines with regularity. The Wisconsin hype train was fairly calm this season after the Badgers’ postseason run a year ago, but Notre Dame and Duke always seem to find the limelight.Syracuse’s season was a different story.The Orange’s four-game skid in the middle of the season certainly didn’t help this group leap to the forefront of media attention, nor did the team’s losing five of its last six games leading up to the NCAA Tournament.Many fans likely saw the perennial powerhouse casually hanging out in the bottom right corner of the bracket and didn’t think much of it. Yet although Syracuse-Dayton appeared the definition of a tossup, the Orange clobbered the Flyers.Surely Boeheim’s team didn’t have the ability to compete with Michigan State in the second game. Well, the Spartans somehow lost by nine to a sneaky good Middle Tennessee bunch. This set up nicely for ‘Cuse, who wrecked the Cinderella team from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.Next up for Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson: Gonzaga. Gbinije and Richardson are Syracuse’s two leading scorers, but this team has flown so far under the radar that these names don’t really resonate like, say, Carmelo Anthony, Scoop Jardine or C.J Fair. The Bulldogs of Gonzaga cruised into the tournament as an 11-seed and simply dominated two quality teams in Seton Hall and Utah en route to the Sweet 16.While this may look like a friendly draw for the good folks from Spokane, the admonition from a completely neutral columnist at a student publication is very real. Proceed with caution. Syracuse does not have a tremendous amount of pressure heaped upon its shoulders. Its zone seemingly always gives opposing coaches headaches in March and its balanced scoring at the offensive end represents a well-rounded, versatile attack.The Carrier Dome, traditionally a cathedral of college basketball greatness, was seemingly just another gym this season. In fact, this middling ACC team was actually treated as such. ‘Cuse went .500 in conference play and looked perfectly average, yet these guys appear to be hitting stride at the perfect time.As a program, having storylines — or even a roster — begging for television exposure during December obviously gets you nowhere in March. ‘Cuse is a legitimately dangerous team that could manage to escape the Midwest region if this upward trajectory continues against a talented Gonzaga side.Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more

Valencia stun Barcelona to win Copa del Rey

first_img Source: BBC Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo scored as a valiant Valencia beat La Liga champions Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey.Ernesto Valverde’s men said in the build-up that a win would help ease some of the pain of the Champions League loss to Liverpool, but they were sub-par again, in the Seville heat.French forward Gameiro fired in a superb strike to give Valencia the lead before Rodrigo headed in the second.Lionel Messi’s 73rd-minute strike gave Barca hope but they fell short.After the match, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu backed Valverde to continue at the Nou Camp.“I’ve always said that Ernesto has a contract for the next season, he’s the coach,” he said.“I do not think this defeat is the coach’s fault.”Valverde said: “When a coach loses you want to go again, to fight to overcome the next challenge. I know losing for this club is hard.”Temperatures reached north of 30C inside Real Betis’ packed Estadio Benito Villamarin, but only one side wilted.There was a sign of things to come when, in the eighth minute, Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet was lucky to escape being punished for a woeful pass.His ball along his own area was picked up by Rodrigo, but fortunately for the Frenchman his centre-back partner Gerard Pique was on hand to clear the Spain international’s shot off the line.However, there was no stopping Gameiro’s opener following good work down the left from Jose Gaya. The left-back picked out the French striker just inside the area, who then launched a full-blooded drive high past the reach of Jasper Cillessen.Twelve minutes later it was 2-0. Rodrigo, who caused plenty of problems for Barca’s backline, timed his run into the six-yard area perfectly to nod home Carlos Soler’s cross.Messi, who does have a habit of easing himself into games, tested opposition keeper Jaume Domenech for the first time just before the break before his full abilities came to the fore after the break.The Argentine had one shot, with the outside of his boot, come off the post before he forced Domenech into making a stunning one-handed save.Messi finally found the net with his 28th goal against Valencia in all competitions. Pique’s header from a corner rebounded off the post and the number 10 tapped in from close range.The expected onslaught in the final 15 minutes never materialised with, instead, Valencia’s Goncalo Guedes twice going close to scoring a third for his side.Victory meant coach Marcelino Garcia Toral ended a personal 20-game winless run in all competitions against Barcelona.last_img read more

Police ‘Christmas’ Checkpoints on the Rise

first_imgAs the Christmas and New Year seasons approach, commercial drivers have complained about increasing extortion by police officers who have set up two checkpoints at the entrance to the city of Kakata. During investigations, Daily Observer reporters witnessed police officers from the Kakata Police Detachment assigned at the checkpoints, without fear seizing documents and licenses from commercial drivers under the pretext of carrying out vehicle inspection. And once the drivers had ‘greased their palms’ (paid bribes) with their demands, their documents and licenses were readily returned to them and they were allowed to continue with their journeys.Dasco Mantian, a passenger, told this newspaper that their vehicle was detained and it was later released when the driver paid some cash to the officers at the checkpoint.“We spent two hours at the checkpoint, though the vehicle’s documents, including the driver’s license had no problem,” he said.The Daily Observer reporter also saw several cars ordered to park off the road to go through what a driver said was a process of extortion.“They will deliberately ask for the vehicle’s documents and then a driver’s license. Once they are in the hands of a police officer, the next is paying them to get your legal documents back,” he said.There are four police checkpoints from Kakata to the Bong Mines and Firestone Roads. Two additional checkpoints are located on the main highway to BWI or Gbarnga.Immigration officers are also working alongside the police officers during their inspections.“We don’t grant interviews to press,” an officer, who did not want to be identified, said. “We make sure that there are not two passengers at the front of these vehicles.” He did not comment on allegations of officers extorting money from drivers.But not aware of a journalist on a vehicle, an officer who had insisted that there should not be two persons on the passenger side of the driver, later, after his palms were greased with money, allowed the two passengers to return to their previous position and the driver drove away.Owing to such a practice, drivers have increased transportation fares to be able to cover their losses, a driver told the Daily Observer.One of the drivers told this newspaper that the fare has to be increased, because of the increased number of checkpoints and the demand from police officers for money.The pavement of the Monrovia – Ganta highway brought the cost of transportation down from L$1000 to L$600 in taxis, which has now increased to L$700.Buses were taking passengers for L$350, but now L$500; and passengers who travel on the National Transport Authority (NTA) bus pay L$400.“Are we still fighting war?” a lady traveler who appeared tired asked. “Why are all these checkpoints on the roads? What are they looking for?” Despite these checkpoints, another group of police officers in a vehicle patrolling the highway deliberately created mobile checkpoints targeting commercial drivers.Interestingly, the police don’t target private vehicles and vehicles owned by international NGOs.Meanwhile, an official at the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Monrovia said while the LNP is not aware of the report, it will carry out investigations to ascertain the veracity of the claims by commercial drivers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Sprite Ballers Fast Track 3*3 school tour finals slated for June 30th

first_img Tags: Hamza NyambogoSprite Ballers Fast Track 3*3 school tour Uganda is one of the three countries in Africa that was selected by FIBA to be fast tracked towards Olympic qualification (Photos by Agencies)Uganda has the Biggest and is the quickest developing Basketball group within the region. The country boasts of having three divisions for men and three divisions for ladies.The game is played by over 200 High Schools in the country and an annual tournament is organised where the best schools come together and compete.While mainstream five against five basketball has been the order of the day, a shorter version of the game, 3×3 Basketball, is becoming popular. It is the quickest developing game on the planet which prompted its consideration for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.And in an effort to choose the finest 3×3 players in the country U-18 and U-16, the Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (FUBA) with help from the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) under the Fast Track program, set out on a basketball program called Sprite Ballers aimed at 50 schools in Uganda.“The program is called Sprite Ballers, it’s under the Fast Track program, FIBA 3×3 country coordinator Hamza Nyambogo said.“Uganda is one of the three countries in Africa that was selected by FIBA to be fast tracked towards olympic qualification.“The whole idea is to expose and support Ugandan players to be able to get to that competitive level where they can actually compete and qualify  for the 2020 Olympics.“The current program is focused on schools, continued Nyambogo.“Sprite Ballers is U-18, and this program is targeting schools around the country and our target is to select the best 32 players (16 boys and 16 girls) who we will be using when we have national team duty.The program that was divided into two phases with the first targeting high schools in Kampala, and the second phase focused on up-country schools culminates in the Grand finale scheduled for Saturday, 30th June  at Kampala International University (KIU) in Kansanga.The finals will be played on June 30th at KIUThe team of 32 players will be unveiled after a tournament that will involve the best players from each school.“From the school we got the best four boys and four girls and these are the players that will represent their schools at the finals, concluded Nyambogo.Comments last_img read more