Leading off today:
Highly regarded sophomore Isaiah Stewart made his season debut Wednesday with 35 points in McQuaid's 78-75 boys basketball victory over Rochester's Monroe High.
The 6-foot-8 post player had been sidelined all season following surgery on a broken tailbone during a USA Basketball tryout camp last fall. He already holds offers from a slew of Division I programs including Florida, Georgetown, Syracuse and Tennessee after averaging 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds as a freshman.
The return of Stewart and junior guard Thomas Jones (concussion) this week changes the Class AA landscape in Section 5, where Fairport and University Prep had started separating themselves from a pack including Aquinas, Bishop Kearney and Victor. Wednesday's win improved McQuaid to 10-5.
Jones had been sidelined since being injured during a scrimmage in early November. He averaged 12.1 points and 8 rebounds last season.
Tackling ban? There's a renewed push in progress to ban tackling in New York youth football.
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, a Bronx Democrat, would prohibit youth leagues from allowing anyone age 13 or younger to tackle. The bill cites research connecting repeated blows to the head to brain-development issues.
The proposal has been around for four years but has not picked up a sponsor in the Senate to help move the bill forward. It calls for a fine of up to $2,000.
"All of these hits, they don't necessarily cause concussions and usually do not," Benedetto said Tuesday. "But all of these hits causes mass accumulation of blows to the head that damage the development of the brain."
Assemblyman Walter Mosley, a Brooklyn Democrat who played and coached youth football, recently decided to support the bill.
"This was a very difficult decision for me," Mosley said. "I have a son who's now 10, who does not like football. I'm kind of blessed in that way, because I don't have to convince him not to play."
Speaking of regulations: I came across this tweet Tuesday night:
Take that as an indication that there are misgivings out there about measures State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia wants to institute. If passed by the State Board of Regents, the regulations would put school administrators in a hopelessly uncomfortable position when deciding athletic eligibility for some students. Superintendents in neighboring districts could face requests citing identical circumstances and come to completely different conclusions as to whether a fifth season of eligibility should be OK'd.
I delved into the details more extensively in a blog in December.
Speaking of regulations: The new pitch-count rule approved by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association last week already is attracting questions from critics who think there may not be adequate rest built into the standards.
Under the new rule, which replaces restrictions on innings pitched with standards for pitches thrown, a varsity hurler can throw 105 pitches on Monday and return to the mound Friday to throw another 105.
Vincent Mercogliano of The Journal News wrote this week that college and pro pitches typically get an additional day of rest between appearances of a similar duration. In fact, a high school hurler can throw 95 pitches on Monday and return to throw 105 on Thursday.
Dr. Steve Jordan, a surgeon at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla., called the rest portion of the new rule "a big issue." The standards are at odds with the Pitch Smart guidelines developed by nationally known surgeon Dr. James Andrews, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball.
"Hours of conversation and research went into this decision," NYSPHSAA baseball chairman Ed Dopp said in an e-mail to the paper. "We have reviewed all of Dr. (James) Andrews and USA Baseball, along with MLB recommendations. We really can't compare high school with college and MLB as for a variety of reasons. They are apples and oranges."
Dopp went onto write that, "We are concerned with running out of pitching at levels." That has been a frequent concern