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Friday, April 1, 2016: How exactly is playing for UConn disloyal to Syracuse?

   Leading off today: Please indulge me for a few paragraphs as I stray a little bit from the usual high school fare to talk indirectly about college basketball.

   I've been watching a particular situation this week as a sports fan, a media critic and an observer of all things New York -- namely the run-up to Syracuse University's impending participation in the NCAA Final Four in both men's and women's basketball.

   Two key observations come to mind:

   (1) This is a brutal week for media outlets in the Syracuse area. Covering just a men's team at this stage of the NCAA tournament is a resource-sapping proposition that typically requires the local newspaper to dial back coverage of pro and high school sports for the week. Add a women's basketball team from the same school also advancing to the national semifinals and what you have is formula for exhausting an entire staff.

   And on top of that, you have the "Breanna factor." Breanna Stewart was a consensus national girls player of the year in 2012 as a senior at Cicero-North Syracuse who chose to continue her career at UConn. Given that the Huskies were a nearly sure bet to return to the Final Four in Stewart's swan song, it was a given that she would be heavily covered by Central New York media this week.

   (2) There was twice the usual hell to pay for having the audacity to write and report about Stewart this week.

   First, reader comments beneath stories have been railing against Syracuse.com for relatively little content about the SU women -- a criticism that's unfair on two fronts: Logistics limit the access to players and coaches early in the week and the total home attendance (27,407) for 18 home games added up to less than what the men routinely draw to the Carrier Dome for a single game vs. Duke or North Carolina.

   Second, as has been the case many times over the past four years, the ass-hats came out in full force with preposterous criticism of Stewart for not staying closer to home for her college career.

   Check out these two fairly representative examples from comments on a single story:

   "Who cares about her and her arrogant coach. She snubbed SU.The Huskies are destroying the game."
   And this:

   "U Conn was dominate (sic) before she went there and will be dominate after she leaves. Can you imagine the mark she would have left on women's college basketball if she had gone somewhere else and led them to a championship ( like SU?)"
   By that logic, the SU men couldn't possibly have accumulated enough talent to reach the 1996 national title game vs. Kentucky in no small part because Greece Athena great John Wallace would have been obligated to stay home and become the greatest player in the history of the University of Rochester, St. John Fisher College or SUNY Brockport.

   And that, dear readers, brings me to my annual reminder. Adding the technology for message boards and anonymous reader comments would allow NewYorkSportswriters.org to quadruple its traffic almost overnight but I'd rather die broke than open up that intellectual cesspool.

   More Stewart: The first time I saw Breanna Stewart play was during her freshman year when C-NS came to Pittsford for a game. Her defense was better than her ball-handling and low-post skills at the time, but there was obvious potential.

   I walked away that day thinking that at the very least she would grow up to be a very good Division III player, which should have led to me being drug-tested. Within a year she was already catching the eye of a lot of Division I coaches.

   My last dealing with her was a brief interview for a 2012 story in anticipation of Stewart being named Gatorade's national player female athlete of the year. She could not possibly have been more polite and pleasant than she was that night. That one experience earned her a spot on my short list of athletes it would be easy to root for throughout the remainder of her career, and nothing since has changed my opinion.

   She has the proverbial good head on her shoulders. Mom and dad deserve a shout out for raising a terrific young woman.

   Following up: Tuesday's blog mentioned that Bishop Maginn in Albany had dropped football.

   The Times Union reported Thursday night that Joe Grasso, who guided the football from its inception but had his administrative position at the school phased out in 2015, informed the school in January he would not return as coach. In addition, just five boys had expressed interest in playing football next fall.

   Maginn had gone without a JV team the past seven seasons. With a BEDS figure of just 99 students for the

  
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upcoming season, the numbers finally caught up to the program. The school intends to field a soccer team this fall and hasn't given up on the idea of restoring football (likely first at the JV level) in the future.

   Mixed competition dispute: The PSAL has told senior Anyela Aquino she cannot play for the boys volleyball team at Dreamyard Prep (part of the Taft Educational Campus) in the Bronx this spring, the New York Daily News reported.

   Aquino is one of the best scholastic players in New York City and led the school's girls team to a city championship last fall. The PSAL declined to comment on the situation, but it's likely that her participation on the girls team is what is preventing her from being cleared to play alongside the boys.





   Toya Holness, a NYC Department of Education spokesperson, said the PSAL eligibility review committee consulted with the school administration before blocking Aquino.

   James Longsworth, the coach for both the boys and the girls teams, declined to comment. According to Aquino, Longsworth invited her to try out for the boys team earlier this year.

   She intends to enroll at nearby Monroe College in the fall with hopes to move on to a Division I program after her academic record improves.

   Ossining goes to the movies: The first endeavor for the Ossining girls basketball team following the Pride's fourth consecutive NYSPHSAA championship and first Federation crown was hardly standard fare.

   Members of the team were selected to star in, "Getting to the Point," a working title for a short film on normalizing the discussion of menstruation.

   "The focus is on teamwork and leadership," director Jessica Hester, a 1996 Ossining graduate, told The Journal News. "Really, what interests us is that the girls work together to help each other continuously thrive and push each other on the court, and being a girl has nothing to do with that."

   Hester intends to submit the five-minute film in the Bentonville Film Festival next month, which promotes "women and diverse voices in media," according to the event's site. The inaugural short film category's entries must incorporate marketing aspects from a brand sponsor and portray the filmmaker's interpretation of athleticism and perseverance. Hester chose U by Kotex as the brand sponsor.

   Extra points: With his team off to a 3-0 start and three games on the schedule in the next week, Farmingdale boys lacrosse coach Bob Hartranft can reach 700 career wins next week. He began the season with 694 victories, placing Hartranft comfortably third on the state's all-time list.


  
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