Sunday, January 30, 2011

Zeigler, Rashid hurried to move on

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 30, 2011

Amir Rashid was in a hurry to move on.

He walked slowly to the exit — hoody over head — and both swiftly and succinctly deflected any questions this reporter had.

“Not today,” he said. “I’m in too big of a rush.”

It was Sunday night, just outside of O’Kelly’s Sports Bar and Grill, just a week after Rashid notified his teammates he was leaving the program and just after the senior spent his afternoon sipping slowly on a Bud Light Lime while watching his former team lose by 20 points to Akron.

Rashid doesn’t have to talk to anyone. He doesn’t have to answer questions, doesn’t have to answer Facebook messages and doesn’t have to elaborate on the personal reasons that cut his senior season short.

But as he sat, watching the ESPN U telecast wearing gray Central Michigan basketball swag, the unanswered question begged to be asked: Why did he leave?

This we know: On Thursday, head coach Ernie Zeigler addressed the media and more specifically, Rashid’s departure, for just over two minutes in his post-game press conference following a 68-58 home defeat to Miami University.

During those two minutes, Zeigler used the word “basketball” once.

He referenced the former point guard’s pursuit of a degree twice.

And the fifth-year CMU head coach stuttered three times, when asked if Rashid underperformed during his time in Mount Pleasant.

“Um, I’m,” he said, pausing. “I (pause), I (longer pause), I have no comment on that.”

Well here’s a comment on that.

And let the record state that I was not in attendance during Thursday’s post-game press conference, instead holed up in a classroom learning reporting ethics that strongly imply you should not write about events you weren’t at.

First, this move doesn’t make basketball sense. Not from the player’s standpoint, who started in 16 of the team’s 18 games he dressed for; And not from the coaches standpoint, who desperately needs any kind of leadership from any player not named Jalin Thomas.

“He was probably our best on the ball defender,” Zeigler said. “That’s probably where we will miss him the most.”

Or with experience. Or with leadership. Or with the competitive drive of an athlete that wants to make something of his final season.

Second, the reason doesn’t make life sense. You’re Amir Rashid.

You transferred from a junior college to play basketball at the Division-I level.

You have played at that level, consistently, and halfway through what is in all likelihood the last year you will be playing competitive basketball, you decide that, you know what, I’ve been a student-athlete for a few years and now I think I just want to be a student.

And third, you look at the trio of pauses in Zeigler’s 40-second response to Rashid’s progress at CMU, and it can only equal one thing:

Both Amir Rashid and Ernie Zeigler were in a hurry to move on.

Friday, January 28, 2011

PODCAST: Project 989 -- Fridays with Fenech and Stover featuring CMU linebacker Matt Berning

Fridays with Fenech: That's her, for sure

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 28, 2010

You laugh.

That was her. For sure. You smile. Her! For sure!

You walk through the library doors, struck by a lightning bolt of, well, freakin’ love man, and you’re smiling, you’re laughing, you want to look back but you absolutely cannot look back and –

Did she know it was you? You made eye contact. You definitely made eye contact and –

Dude! Why didn’t you talk to her? You always swore that you’d talk to her. You always said you’d holler at her and –

You’re still smiling. Still laughing, shaking your head in a dreamy disbelief, rocked by this hurricane of hottness with two T’s; eyes wide, jaw dropped, earbuds about to pop out the ears, still thinking, wondering just what in the history of the world that was and –

Dude! That was her. You have to talk to her. For sure.

You laugh.

She’s online. Had to be. You met her on Facebook, got her number on Facebook; you’ve talked to her on Facebook – randomly, from time-to-time although you admit it’s not really talking as much as it is you asking stupid questions and her giving stupid answers – and you’ve basically creeped, pretty successfully, for two years running.

You can’t believe you’re really about to do this but you do it anyways, still laughing, and you tell her that you think – no, that you know – you saw her in the library earlier that day.

She says yeah, she was in the library. You ask if she saw you. She says nope, she didn’t. You think that sucks. There’s an awkward pause. You ask what she’s doing tonight. She says she’s got a PowerPoint presentation to finish. You think that sucks. Another awkward pause. You ask her if she wants to get a cup of coffee. She says, “Oh, this excuse again…”

You laugh.

You don’t know what you’re doing here. You don’t know how you got here. And you certainly don’t know why you’re standing here; inside this McDonald’s, on this night, staring blindly at a menu, hoping to come across a McFlurry spiked with scotch and wondering why you had to get dealt this card of curiosity and –

That’s her. For sure. Eye contact for the first time in two years.

You say hi. She says hi. You don’t know what else to say. She doesn’t know what else to say. You laugh. It’s weird. She laughs. Real weird.

She thinks it’s funny. You think you’re funny.

And you talk, for 42 minutes, with this real-life girl and without a backspace button, each minute a little less weird than the next.

And you walk, out of the same cyber-clouded doors you walked in through, with a human face on a Facebook page.

You say you should get her number, just in case you think of another excuse to see her.

She laughs. Says she’ll text it to you.

You laugh. You’re already thinking of that excuse.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jaksa adds pair of assistants to coaching staff

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 24, 2011

Tyler Stovall made the 45-minute trip last March from his Cincinnati-area home to Oxford, Ohio.

With his cleats hanging up after two years in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system, the former Central Michigan outfielder said he just wanted to catch the Chippewas game at Miami University.

But during the game, Stovall realized he wanted something else.

“I decided I wanted to get into coaching,” he said.

So after the game, he pulled CMU head coach Steve Jaksa aside and, “Planted the seed in his head that I was interested in coaching.”

And this season, after trading e-mails and text messages with Jaksa in the offseason, Stovall will be back in Mount Pleasant to finish his degree and begin his coaching career as an undergraduate coach.

“He’s a welcome addition to our staff,” Jaksa said over the weekend. “We’re really pleased that he’s back.”

Stovall was the 2007 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, leading the conference with a .391 batting average and 55 RBI. He added 58 runs and 20 stolen bases and was drafted by the Reds in the 20th round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.

In the Cincinnati organization, he advanced to Single-A, hit .266 in two professional seasons, and decided to pursue other opportunities after the 2009 season.

“Playing professional baseball was a dream come true,” Stovall said. “I’m glad I did it for a couple of years.”

He graduated from Cincinnati’s Moeller High, the same high school that produced future Hall-Of-Fame outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., and played three seasons for the Chippewas.

“Being part of the team up here was probably the best part of going to school,” he said.

In addition to his coaching duties, Stovall is working toward completion of a personal finance degree. He was named second team academic All-American in 2007.

“I’m pleased not that he’s just helping, but getting his degree,” Jaksa said. “He was a solid player and he’s a solid thinker.”

Jaksa said Stovall will work mostly with the outfielders but will spend some time working with catchers as well.

“Anytime you can add a coach, it’s a win-win situation,” he said.

And Stovall sees it the same way.

“You feel so much responsibility,” he said. “[Coach Jaksa] and CMU did so much for my career. This is a great place to start for any young coach, but to give back is amazing.”

Simmons added

Also new to the Chippewas staff in 2011 is Derek Simmons, who will work with infielders and give additional hitting instruction.

Simmons graduated in May 2009 from Georgia State University, where he was the first player in program history to earn all-conference honors twice in a career. He finished his career with top-10 marks in school history for batting average, RBI, home runs and runs scored.

“It’s been great so far,” he said. “I’m very excited. It’s going to be hard work to defend our title, but this team is capable of not only winning the MAC Championship but also advancing to NCAA Regionals.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

PODCAST: Project 989; Fridays with Fenech and Stover featuring Ron Marmarelli

Fridays with Fenech: Hi, I'm Fenech

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 21, 2011

It’s not French. I’m not French.

I like French fries. I like French toast. I have a friend that grew up in France, and he tells me that French girls are awesome; that they’re so hard, that they’re so easy and that they love American guys. So I guess you could say I like French girls too. And French girls dressed as maids. And French girls dressed as maids with no —

But my last name isn’t French.

It’s Fenech. Fen-plus-ick. Yes, I have been called a dick; yes, I have been called a prick; yes, growing up, kids would put the two together and call me Fendick; and yes, it’s unfortunate that name didn’t stick.

I grew up in a middle-class suburb of Detroit, to parents who long saw this hurricane coming and split up before the sixth grade, leaving me the oldest of three brothers at home and the youngest of everyone else everywhere else, stuck between a rock of wanting one thing and a hard place of wanting everything.

In elementary school, I had a discipline problem. They wanted to put me on Ritalin. Wise beyond my years, I asked for Vicodin.

In middle school, I had an attention problem. They were everywhere. Figuratively. They were growing. Literally. I was doomed. Honestly.

In high school, I combined the two with a bunch of raging hormones, threw an unpopped cherry on top and created the Fenech problem; a sometimes mathematical, sometimes scientific, always theoretical equation of Friends, Females and Fantasy that has yet to be solved.

They wanted me to read “The Scarlet Letter.” I wanted to write a better “Scarlet Letter.” They wanted me to mature. I wanted to explore human nature.

In college, I couldn’t escape my hometown and nearly died. I rolled a car going 80 mph and survived. One year, I hopped on a train, ended up in Chicago and in love with a lesbian. The next, I jumped on a plane, landed in Las Vegas and in love with a thespian.

Now I’m back in college for my sixth year, still haunted by those mushroomed problems from yesteryear.

The discipline problem decided to drink, the attention problem married Aphrodite and the Fenech problem found Facebook.

In elementary school, I passed notes in class. In middle school, I hit puberty the opposite of fast. In high school, I kept a journal about girls and how not one of them was good enough to pass this class.

And now I’ll be here, every Friday; teaching those journals, creeping on girls and taking you for a ride on a provocative Tilt-A-Whirl.

Nice to meet you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

'Project 989' debuts Thursday

My name is Fenech, his name is Stover, and we’re starting a podcast.

It’s called Project 989, a thrice-weekly sports conversation from the college perspective of two guys majoring in Sports Fandom, and starting tomorrow, it will be featured on every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

During the week, we’ll cover a variety of local and national topics in a quick-hitting, 8-minute format of free-flowing sports talk, and always with the kind of personality that makes us think we’re qualified to do such a thing.

Each Friday, we’ll bribe someone to sit down for an interview with us so we can bring to you a down-to-earth look at a variety of local figures, from coaches to athletes, students to professors and maybe, if we’re lucky, that really cute bartender from last weekend.

Every once in a while, we’ll steal one of your other favorite CM Life personalities from their boring lives, like Sports Editor Aaron McMann, Senior Reporter John Evans or if we’re really desperate, Editor In Chief Jackie Smith.

And since we’re both losers and spend the majority of our time watching or writing about sports, we don’t have a lot of friends, so we would like to encourage you to be our friends.

You can do that by listening to our podcast multiple times each day, by telling all of your friends to listen to our podcast multiple times each day, or by sending feedback to

Yes, only good feedback will be read and in case you’re wondering, no, Stover does not know how to write.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The law of diminishing returns

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 10, 2011

Why did I do that?

Why did I just spend time that I have too much of, only to spend money that I have too little of and register for a full slate of classes that I’m eventually going to fail, or, just as likely, drop out of?

Why did I just try to calculate — in my head — the number of credits I need to graduate before my 25th birthday, the number of extra credits I need to take in order to graduate period, and why in the world did I just sign up for double the number of credits (18) than I’ve earned in the past two years combined?

It’s Friday, a few days before the start of the semester, and I just registered for my 10th semester of school at my fourth academic institution. I’m a sixth-year junior, either 22- or 23-years-old depending on how old I think you are, my grade-point average has officially fallen below the Mendoza line and, in short, I think I’m wasting my life away chasing a piece of paper.

I’m right, of course, and I’m equally as na├»ve and talented to think so.

I think I’m too old to be here, I like to think I’m too good, I spend my time in class daydreaming about catching those dreams, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel and I wake up every day wishing to muster enough nerve to dive head first into that tunnel.

I am, of course, also stupid. Very stupid.

Stupid for dropping classes left and right in my first three years at a community college to save my grade-point average so I could get into Michigan State. That worked out.

Stupid for blatantly failing classes after landing my first internship, stupid for not taking classes during that internship and stupider for laughing at the thought of having to sit through another class again.

And maybe stupidest, I thought I was an exception to the rule.

But you’re not an exception until you take exception and, last I checked, I’m still signing up for the same classes, still failing them without a plan, answering multiple choice questions with, ”Just give me a C in here, man.”

I’ve been stuck on my junior year for three years, I’ve bailed on more credits than most sophomores have earned, I’ve been passed for failing work, failed for passing work and I’m probably more proud of my C’s than you are of your A’s.

I passed on an opportunity without a degree; I’ve been passed on for opportunities without a degree, and now, all of the opportunities I want are going to people with degrees.

And yet, I still can’t agree.

Last semester, I bought zero books, passed one class, dropped two more, and earned three total credits. I had one foot in the door, one foot out, when late in the semester, I was knocked off my high horse.

“You won’t get a job in this industry,” a successful college dropout told me, “unless you’re Ernest Hemingway.”

A few days later, I dropped out of a class at my fourth school, and over a month later, after re-registering for that dropped class like so many times before, can’t help but think of my college choices in five words:

Why did I do that?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blog: Wolverines pounded in Gator Bowl

By Anthony Fenech
Free Press Special Writer

Free Press special writer Anthony Fenech is live-blogging today's Gator Bowl between Michigan and Mississippi State. Anthony couldn't make it to Jacksonville, so he'll be bringing you his thoughts off of ESPN2's telecast.

Feel free to discuss the game with Anthony in the chat below. For those of you on our mobile site, we will post periodic game updates below the chat. Happy New Year, everyone!

First quarter

14:50: Michigan starts at its own 22.

10:56> Denard Robinson passes 10 yards to Roy Roundtree for a U-M touchdown. Michigan 7, Mississippi State 0.

5:31: Chris Relf passes to Arceto Clark for a 4-yard touchdown. Drive went for 79 yards. Michigan 7, Mississippi State 0.

2:23: Derek DePasquale kicks a 42-yard field goal. Mississippi State 10, Michigan 7.

0:34: Denard Robinson passes to Martavious Odoms for a 27-yard touchdown. Michigan 14, Mississippi State 10.

Second quarter

11:06: Vick Ballard scores a TD on a 1-yard run. Mississippi State 17, Michigan 14.

6:35: Quarterback Chris Relf runs into the end zone from 1 yard out to cap a 43-yard drive. Mississippi State 24, Michigan 14.

0:25: Chris Relf passes to Ricco Sanders for a 15-yard touchdown. Mississippi State 31, Michigan 14.


Third quarter

11:51: Michigan's Brendan Gibbons misses a 35-yard field goal attempt. Mississippi State 31, Michigan 14.

6:19: Vick Ballard runs it in from 1 yard out for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State 38, Michigan 14.

0:14: Vick Ballard runs for a 7-yard touchdown for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State 45, Michigan 14.

Fourth quarter

10:31: Michael Carr hauls in a 31-yard touchdown pass for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14.


Read more: Blog: Wolverines pounded in Gator Bowl | | Detroit Free Press