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Penguin fever amusing

May 31, 2008
By Neil Rudel,
Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while giving John Russell a B so far:

ITEM: Penguins in Stanley Cup final.

It’s truly amazing how the black and gold spirit carries on.

I’ve had a number of people mention their enthusiasm for the Pens who obviously don’t know much about hockey.

A friend’s mother bubbled, “did you watch the game last night? The Penguins won by a point! That homegrown advantage must really help.”


This is where sport becomes entertainment, and people are satisfied rooting for the home team, regardless of whether they understand icing or interference. It’s also an example of how sports endear and capture the imagination of people, even the non-fan, who simply enjoy supporting a winner — even if it’s all they can do to follow the puck.

To that end, imagine the buzz if the Pirates or Penn State basketball could ever get good consistently.

ITEM: St. Francis hires new coach.

Speaking of getting good consistently, the Red Flash basketball program has managed the opposite.

Except for fleeting moments over the past 30 years, through multiple coaches, they’ve generally looked up at the competition.

Former Bucknell assistant Don Friday will now take his turn.

Friday learned at the elbow of Pat Flannery, one of the best game coaches in the nation. Friday also has Pennsylvania roots as Lycoming’s head coach for the past five years.

Can he make the transition as a Division I head coach? We’ll find out.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Friday confirmed moments after taking the job that he’d be keeping Flash assistant coach Rob Krimmel, son of the school’s athletic director. Friday goes back with the Krimmels to the recruiting process when Krimmel chose St. Francis over Bucknell.

Rob Krimmel is a great kid who hopefully will enjoy success under a new head coach, but he was also retained despite being part of a failing program. Whether there was a wink and a nod during the interview that Rob would be hired is speculation, which all parties deny. Success could render the point moot.

Conversely, one of Bobby Jones’ first moves nine years ago — a bad one, it says here — was to jettison all of the assistant coaches, including John Sanow, an assistant on the 1991 team that went to the NCAA Tournament.

The bottom line in hiring: People usually favor familiarity.

ITEM: Scott exits Penn State.

Former Juniata Valley wrestling star Garrett Scott, whose off-the-field troubles cost him a shot at a fourth PIAA title, has now been removed from the Nittany Lion wrestling team after a successful freshman season.

Too bad. It seems Scott’s potential for greatness is limited by his inability, or refusal, to stay out of his own way.

Here’s hoping that changes before his wrestling career is history.

ITEM: AAHS wins PIAA track title.

Despite standout A.J. Alexander’s dismissal from the track team, the Altoona Mountain Lions won the PIAA title anyway — a credit to the rest of the athletes and coach Mike Adams.

Adams is clearly upholding the Altoona track tradition established by Dick Bartholomew and Tom Musselman.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or

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