Top 10 stories of 2010/Look ahead to 2011

1. Jeremy

Sept. 2, Newman golfer Jeremy Gant found out he needed a new heart or he would die. I wrote a column on what happened next, with some help from JG.

2. They didn’t kick

I’ll never understand why Butler coach Troy Morrell abandoned his kicking game in the national championship against Navarro. Neither will Grizzly fans. And then there was this disaster.

3. Forget 1998

The Emporia State women’s basketball team won the NCAA Division II title. Would’ve loved to have been there but I had an assignment in Salt Lake City.

4. MIAA expansion

The MIAA became NCAA Division II’s superconferencemegasupreme by expanding to 16 teams, bringing two Oklahoma schools into the fold in Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State along with Lindenwood (Mo.) and Nebraska-Kearney.

5. The KCAC falls flat in postseason … again … but they’re doing something about it.

It starts with football, where an undefeated McPherson team lost in the first round, but it extends to every other sport, where postseason success is a mythical thing in this conference.  Thanks to the KCAC’s Sports Regulation Initiative – an effort to bring the KCAC up to level with the rest of the NAIA – these postseason problems should be a thing of the past. Just one of many steps forward the league is taking behind KCAC commish Scott Crawford, who has done a lot for this league in just a short time in office.

6. ESU, PSU, Washburn, FHSU all terrible in football

It was the worst year for D2 football in Kansas that I can remember. Not one of our four teams was at all competitive in the MIAA, and that’s with WU as a preseason top 10 team in the nation.

7. Butler wins Region VI title in men’s basketball

It was a down year for Region VI basketball, sure, but the Grizzlies were still fun to watch because of how well they played the game and because you knew Mike Bargen had put together the team the right way.

8. Green pulls off miracle at Labette, bolts to Newman

Jaime Green brought a Region VI title to Labette Community College in women’s basketball and then got them to 3rd in the NJCAA Tournament. Parsons, my friends, is not an easy place to win. Newman AD Vic Trilli scored big when he landed her to come take over his program.

9. June sucked

The Jayhawk Conference got a double dose of tragedy in June, when former Garden City Community College defensive end Brett Spresser and Hutch CC outfielder Sean Banks both died in accidents at grain elevators in Kansas. Don’t know what else to say about this other than it sucked and their deaths left a big hole in a lot of peoples’ lives.

10. JPP

Former Fort Scott Community College defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul spent one year at South Florida and then was the No. 15 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the NY Giants. I think it’s the start of a trend – the talent coming out of the Jayhawk is skyrocketing and the NFL Draft is going to be dotted with these kids in the near future.

If I missed something, just let me know.

Now …

THE FUTURE

Just a few things to keep an eye out for in 2011 …

Steve Eck and his Blue Dragons - Hutchinson men’s basketball coach Steve Eck may have put together one of his best teams, ever, and he seems like he’s got a great shot at winning his first Region VI title and second JuCo national championship.

Estadio de Butler – Ground should break on the long-awaited football stadium for Butler Community College. And it’ll be a dandy. Should begin playing games there in 2012.

Clarence - Ottawa wide receiver Clarence Anderson will be a senior this fall, and he’s put up over 2,000 yards of all-purpose yards the last two years. His final act will be one to remember.

What will Newman do? – Newman is a terrible fit for the Heartland Conference, if only because it is completely disconnected from the rest of the schools in its league geographically. On the outside looking in at the MIAA, I think they need to come up with some type of long-term plan.

On a personal note, I got this beat and this blog late in 2008. If you’ve been coming here since the beginning or this is your first time … thank you. You rock.

I’m out. TA.