December 29, 2006


Tiki insists the passion is still there


Associated Press/Mel Evans
New York Giants running back Tiki Barber hopes Saturday’s game at Washington is not his last in the NFL.

Associated Press Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Tiki Barber made the decision to retire after the 2006 season, the ending he envisioned probably didn’t look like this: a sub-.500 Giants team desperately trying to squeeze into the playoffs with a win at 5-10 Washington.
“It’s the nature of the beast, which is the National Football League,” Barber said after practice Thursday. “I don’t know when my last day is, ever. For 10 years I haven’t known. I could walk down the stairs and break my ankle, be on IR and never play again. You take it as it comes.”
If the Giants are to salvage their crumbling season and extend Barber’s career, a good portion of the burden will fall on the veteran running back, whose individual statistics have paralleled the team’s during its current 1-6 skid.
His numbers pale in comparison to the same period a year ago, when Barber finished the season with a career-high 1,860 yards. In the last eight games of 2005 he ran for 1,100 yards; in the seven games since this season’s midpoint he has run for 598, or barely half as many.
Among the culprits are instability on the offensive line due to injuries and player switches, and the fact that the Giants have trailed in many games and have been forced to throw the ball more often.
Yet there also has been the suspicion that Barber has lost some of the competitive edge that has driven him to become the Giants’ all-time leading rusher and one of 20 NFL players to run for more than 10,000 yards.
That theory was given traction this week when Barber told Washington-area media that he noticed himself becoming distracted during team meetings. On Thursday, Barber denied he has lost his passion for playing and fleshed out his earlier comment.
“If I play like I’ve checked out, I’ve checked out, but I don’t think I ever have,” he said. “My mind has drifted back to the (former Giants offensive coordinator) Sean Payton era. He used to get on me because he thought I got bored in meetings. It’s my approach, it’s how I prepare. I’m lucky because I get things quickly, so I guess I’m looking for other things to think about.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin appeared surprised when Barber’s statement was repeated to him Thursday.
“I haven’t seen any of that,” Coughlin said. “He comes to work, spends the quality time in the meeting room, his coaches are very pleased with how he prepares himself. He goes out and plays the game as hard as he can and I have no reason to believe otherwise.”
Barber and Coughlin have had their moments in the past, notably last season when Barber griped about not getting enough carries midway through the season and then said the Giants were outcoached in a 23-0 first-round playoff loss to Carolina.
They ironed out their differences, but this season the two clashed again after a 26-10 loss to Jacksonville on Nov. 20 in which Barber carried the ball only 10 times for 27 yards.
On Thursday Barber returned to one of his familiar themes: that he is less concerned about statistics than about doing what it takes to win.
“It’s what I’ve always been centered on,” he said. “And while some people may misconstrue my desires to run the ball and be a good player as selfishness, it’s all about me wanting to win; that’s all I’ve ever cared about. The success_has come because of that. It’ll always be that way for me.”
Barber also said he is approaching what could be his last game with no feelings of nostalgia — and no plans to change his mind about retiring. On more than one occasion during an extended interview he used the phrase “no regrets” to describe his current state of mind.
“It’s obvious my focus is about winning and doing the best I can to help my team,” he said. “That’s all that matters. The nostalgia you guys are looking for, it’s not there. I’m thankful for my career, I’m excited for the opportunity we have this week, but I’m not upset that it’s over. I’m thrilled that it happened. I had great success as a player here, and I know I’ll have great success at whatever I do next.”
SHOCKEY STILL OUT: Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey missed practice with a sore ankle for a second straight day Thursday, putting his status in question for New York’s regular-season finale against Washington on Saturday night.
Shockey did not speak to reporters Thursday, but was seen walking through the locker room with a noticeable limp and appeared to favor his left ankle.
The Pro Bowl tight end was hurt in Sunday’s 30-7 loss to New Orleans. He has been listed as questionable for Saturday night’s game.
Coach Coughlin said a decision on whether to play Shockey might be delayed until 90 minutes before kickoff. Offensive lineman Rich Seubert also missed practice Thursday with a leg injury and is listed as doubtful.


Cortland boys breeze in consi

Staff Writer

Cortland High senior Joel White proved that he is much more than just a scorer. The Purple Tigers senior netted 12 points and recorded 11 steals as part of his double-double inside Shafer Gymnasium in a 61-39 win over Maine-Endwell in the consolation game of the Royal Auto Complex Holiday Basketball Tournament hosted by the Cortland High Athletic Booster Club Thursday.
White, who also dished out seven assists, was named to the All-Tournament Team for his efforts over the past two days. The Purple Tigers improve to 6-4 overall while the Spartans fall to 1-7.
In the championship contest, Antwan Brooks scored 24 points and tournament MVP Kyle Chapman added 18 points as Ithaca High (4-5) held off a furious fourth-quarter comeback bid by Chenango Forks (3-5) to post a 65-62 win.
Joining White and Chapman as all-tournament selections were David Farnham of Ithaca, Chris Statts from Chenango Forks and Joe Powell of Maine-Endwell.
Cortland 61, Maine-Endwell 39: Levi Walrath gave Cortland a 2-0 lead in the opening minute off a pass from White as the Purple Tigers raced to a 10-2 advantage after five minutes.
After a Maine-Endwell bucket by Ryan Fetterman, Kaywon Pittman (10 points, 8 rebounds) put the home team in front for good with back-to-back steals and lay-ups for a 6-2 cushion. White followed with his own theft and lay-in and Tom Wilk capped the opening run with a deuce.
The Purple Tigers completed a 19-7 first-quarter with two more lay-ups by White, a steal and lay-in by Derek Allen, one free throw from Jack Wood and an offensive put-back by Matt Pitcher.
Cortland maintained a 29-18 advantage at halftime before opening up a 44-25 lead through three quarters. The Purple Tigers shot that ball better (27-for-53, 51 percent) as every Cortland player saw action in the win.
“It was nice to bounce back from a tough loss last night,” said Cortland coach Mick Lowie. “The kids were ready to play and we got a more balanced effort. It was nice to have three kids in double figures.
“Kaywon played a nice game tonight,” Lowie added. “Joel caused his usual havoc out front. It was a game where we got to play a lot of kids.”
Tom Wilk was the third Purple Tiger in double figures with 14 points and he pulled down seven rebounds.
The real shots of the night for Cortland came at the end of each half. Dan Leonard swished a 3-pointer from half-court to close out the first half and Tim Becker banked home a trey from the left win just before the final buzzer for his only points of the night.
John Zdimal led Maine-Endwell with 17 points.
Cortland High will return to OHSL Freedom Division action Wednesday when the Purple Tigers travel to Phoenix. In all, Cortland will play eight of its final 10 regular season games on the road.
Ithaca 65, Chenango Forks 62: After building a 16-13 lead in the first quarter, Ithaca threatened to runaway and hide with a 22-6 explosion in the second quarter. Brooks scored 19 of his 24 points during the first half.
Chenango Forks refused to fold and cam battling back, thanks in part to the hot-shooting of Statts. The 6-foot-2 senior guard had four points in the first quarter before finding his mark in the second half. Statts buried eight 3-pointers during the Blue Devils rally to finish with a game-high 28 points.
Forks still trailed by eight, 50-42, entering the fourth quarter were down 55-47 with 6:07 left before a pair of threes from Statts before his team to within 56-53 with five minutes left.
A traditional 3-point play by Chapman, a free throw by Justin Malcolm and an offensive put-back by Michael Anderosn allowed Ithaca to rebuild a 62-53 cushion with 3:15 left, but Chenango Forks made one last charge.
Two 3-pointers by Statts pulled the Blue Devils to within 63-59 with 1:41 left before Brooks netted a big bucket for the Little Red with 1:19 to go.
With Statts covered, Jeff Creagh (10 points) connected for three with 54 seconds left to close the gap to 65-62.
Malcolm missed a breakaway lay-up for Ithaca with 37 seconds remaining and Statts misfired with 30 seconds left.
With 21 seconds on the clock, the Little Red missed another lay-up. Ithaca maintained control, but two missed free throws with 4.7 seconds prevented Cortland from sealing the win.
Statts grabbed the rebound on the second missed free throw and Forks immediately called timeout.
With one second remaining, Statts launched one last desperation shot from just inside the mid-court line and came up short as Ithaca survived and was crowned tournament champion.
“Give a lot of credit to Chenango Forks for battling back,” said Ithaca coach Brian Stone. “They did not lay down and our kids did not come out with the same intensity. Our guys learned a good lesson tonight. Our guys learned that you cannot just play one half of basketball. Winning these two close games will help with the character and confidence of our team. It shows that they can be successful. That helped mentally by keeping a positive attitude.
“Justin Malcolm was coming back for his first action from a broken finger these last two nights,” Stone added. “He jammed it last night against Cortland and it was hurting him tonight so he wanted to sit out some of the game, but he really stepped up and wanted to return to the game when we needed him. Justin really helps make the offense run by distributing the ball well. You saw tonight that when we don’t have all the key players out there we do struggle. Antwan has really stepped up his game when Justin was out and that is important for our success.”
CORTLAND JVs live for excitement as the Purple Tigers again used overtime to secure a victory. Dyquann Barlow scored three of the five Cortland points in overtime to lift the home team to a 61-58 win over Chenango Forks in the championship game of the tournament.
The Purple Tigers (7-1) trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter before scoring 20 points over the final eight minutes of regulation time to knot the score at 56-56. Cortland played solid defense in the extra stanza, allowing Chenango Forks to score just two points.
Trevor Williamson led Cortland with 19 points while Barlow finished with 10 points. Kevin Shaw and Justin Guerin each added nine points to the winning total.
Correy Gilpea paced the Blue Devil JVs with 14 points and Casey Redfern netted 13 points.


Tourney second for CHS

HOLLAND PATENT — Things are looking good for the Cortland High wrestling team as 2007 approaches.
“This is a good group of kids; we’re way ahead of schedule,” coach Dave Darrow said after his team finished second in Thursday’s Holland Patent Dual Meet Tournament. “I never figured we’d have 14 wins by the new year. I thought maybe we’d have around eight.”
The Purple Tigers are 14-5 after winning four of their five matches Thursday. They fell to the hosts 50-20 in the championship match after beating Mt. Markham 71-0, Indian River 34-27, South Lewis 58-12 and Morrisville-Eaton 47-18. 
“We did a real good job against Indian River,” Darrow said. “We were down 27-6 — they won six straight weight classes between 103 and 135 — but then won the last six weight classes to win the match.”
Three pins, two major decisions and a decision victory were part of the comeback. The pins came from Brandon Fitzgerald at 152 and Dan Foster at 160, part of a 4-1 day for both. Foster’s one loss, a 6-0 setback to highly-regarded Ryan LeBlanc from Morrisville-Eaton, was his only loss in 19 matches this season.
Darrow also cited Fitzgerald (4-1 with two pins at 152, now 13-6 with three pins this season), Clint Morse (4-1 with three pins at 119 in his first four matches of the season at that weight class), Barry Kinney (4-1 at with a pin at 125, now 12-1 with four pins at 125, 14-2 with four pins overall), Coty Cute (3-1 with a pin at 171, 1-0 with a pin at 189, now 11-4 with five pins at 171 and 3-0 with two pins at 189) and Josh Morehouse (3-2 on the day) for their individual performances.
“They all wrestled pretty well,” he said of his team as a whole.
The Purple Tigers next host Oneida in a non-league match Wednesday, the JVs getting things started at 5:30 p.m. It will be Alumni Night for the program, with the first two members of the CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame to be inducted. All alumni are welcome to attend, with ceremonies slated to start around 6:15 p.m. in the downstairs gym, where the JV and varsity matches will take place.