Post-Tribune Latest news from Post-Tribune Online en-us (Editor) Post-Tribune 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: VU’s offense in a rush, but Pumas already have arrived ]]> Lead story image

VALPARAISO — Running the football won’t cure what ails Valparaiso University’s long-suffering program, but coach Dave Cecchini is determined to instill that philosophy. It just may take a while. He’s not a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust kinda guy, though, especially not when running backs Jake Hutson (knee injury) sat out opening festivities at Brown Field and Brandon Hall was hampered by an ankle sprain. No such problem troubled St. Joseph’s, which ground out 294 yards in thumping the Crusaders for the eighth straight time. Running back Kobi Cook skipped the rivalry game after suffering a strained hamstring in practice, but Mike Anderson proved … ]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 02:07:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: St. Joseph’s running back Braxton Shelton shapes up for 1,000-yard repeat ]]> Lead story image

Physically fit? You betcha. St. Joseph’s running back Braxton Shelton has never felt better. “Best shape I’ve been in for three years,” he declared. The fifth-year senior’s offseason approach to conditioning was unorthodox, one that most coaches probably would not embrace. Working out in Kokomo with his high school teammates is conventional enough, but he added a personal touch. “I did a lot of physical work with my dad,” said Shelton. “Installing garage doors.” Now he hopes to duplicate last season’s performance, which would mean back-to-back 1,000-yard achievements. Five straight 100-yard games inspired his 1,057-yard body of work. “We developed … ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:06:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: VU needs defensive upgrade on gridiron to revive ]]> Lead story image

All things considered, solid defense thrives more on instinctive play than swirling gray matter, which can be hazardous to third-down stops. Valparaiso University middle linebacker Alex Green keeps reminding himself of that. “That’s something I’ve had trouble with in the past,” he said, nodding. “Thinking too much, making too many checks. Not relying on my teammates to share the load.” Trust doesn’t come easily for a program which has won only four games in five years. Green performed heroically, earning team MVP honors with 58 solos and 110 total tackles, but porous defense bears its share of the blame. Last … ]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 02:07:35 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: QB-by-committee no longer an option for Indiana ]]> Lead story image

Quarterback-by-committee no longer an option for IU And then there was one. His name is Nate Sudfeld. And his game is to quarterback Indiana to a winning season, something that happens in Bloomington about as often as an endangered species makes a comeback. Three years ago he was competing with Cam Coffman, who started in 2012; and Tre Roberson, an on-again, off-again regular. Together, they turned IU:into one of the most flamboyant offenses in the midwest over the last two seasons. Points were plentiful, but victories were not. Though the Hoosiers have scored 30 or more 16 times in two … ]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 06:28:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Football assistant Mark Deal has stayed true to his Indiana roots ]]> Lead story image

Mark Deal bleeds Cream and Crimson. He’s been doing so for Indiana University football ever since he put on a uniform for Lee Corso in the mid-’70s. Deal’s playing career spanned from 1975-78. Being a graduate assistant for IU in 1979 jump-started him in coaching. That team beat Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl. Indiana always has been inseparable in the Deal family, starting with Mark’s dad, Russ. He was a captain of IU’s 1945 unbeaten championship team and preceded Don Howell in a long-standing Hobart coaching dynasty. Mark’s brother, Mike, also toiled for the 1967 Hoosiers, who won the … ]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 06:30:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Once-proud Wallace football died from benign neglect ]]> Lead story image

From the very beginning Lew Wallace was a football school. What I remember most about the Glen Park-based program was its hardy rosters forged from Eastern European roots. The early birds who experienced the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression didn’t rave about hoops until inept leadership hastened Wallace’s demise on the gridiron. Football prominence began with Chuck Baer, who guided the Hornets to a mythical state championship in 1941 only 13 years after its football debut. It ended with the 1994 departure of Dave Templin, who piled up 104 victories, highlighted by an 11-1 season in 1989. That represents … ]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 06:27:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Oakland blockbuster makes Lloyd McClendon’s job tougher ]]> Lead story image

CHICAGO — “Trade? What trade?” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon was being facetious, of course. All weekend he’s been asked that question, ever since Oakland acquired pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the endlessly rebuilding Cubs. Already pitching-rich with innings-eaters Scott Kazmir (10-3, 2.53 ERA), Sonny Gray (8-3, 3.08) and Jesse Chavez (6-5. 3.23), the Athletics are going for broke to separate themselves from the Angels and Mariners in the wild, wild American League West. In the visitors dugout at the Cell on Saturday, McClendon shelved his dry sense of humor, then grudgingly complimented the A’s. “They did a nice … ]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 06:28:22 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Big Ten, 12, 14 officially welcomes Maryland, Rutgers ]]> Lead story image

Roll out the welcome wagon for Maryland and Rutgers. For reasons which escape me, other than basic greed, they officially become members of the Big Ten, Eleven, Twelve or Fourteen on Tuesday. Cynics, pick your number. Toss out tradition. Forget Midwest values. Heartland? What heartland? What do the newcomers bring other than expansion to the Eastern market, a strong pigskin presence? Permit me a sardonic chuckle. Unlike Penn State (1993) and Nebraska (2011), who provided major bowl exposure to the Big Ten, they don’t offer attractive resumes. In the last five years the Terps have treated their fans to two … ]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 06:29:02 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Craig Dedelow blooms from Indiana walk-on to part-time starter ]]> Lead story image

Craig Dedelow didn’t expect to set the world on fire going into his freshman year at Indiana University. “Being a walk-on I didn’t think I’d get much playing time at all,” he said before flaring up with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen last week. Understandable since he was joining an elite program fresh from its first appearance in the College World Series. Who could blame him for feeling somewhat intimidated? “I was a little scared at first,” the Munster grad admitted. Fortunately he was embraced by a welcoming committee of coaches and players. “They made me feel like part of last … ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:29:18 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Jerrick Suiter skipped Blue Jays to spur Horned Frogs ]]> Lead story image

In his senior year of high school Jerrick Suiter was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Tempting though it was, he opted to refine his skills elsewhere. “I felt like I needed to go to college and get some experience,” said Suiter, now a junior at Texas Christian. “I still feel like I’m a raw player.” Suiter chose TCU over South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Alabama. Notice they’re all southern schools. That’s because the Valparaiso grad preferred a warm-weather climate to pursue his baseball dream. “I took a ton of visits on weekends during my junior and senior year,” said Suiter, … ]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:28:30 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Gary’s nomadic Uzelac thrived as gridiron coach ]]> Lead story image

Most football coaches work their way up from high school to college. Elliot Uzelac chose a round-about route by sandwiching Division I experience between high school stints. During his 45 years of football Uzelac was named high school coach of the year in two states and once in the Mid-American Conference. The Gary native — he played basketball and football at Tolleston High School for Joe Vance and Vince Kaye — started his coaching career in Chesterton as an assistant to Ray Banary in 1964, was the West Virginia high school coach of the year in 1967, then moved up … ]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 06:36:35 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: Matt Painter, Purdue seeking a coming of age ]]> Lead story image

MERRILLVILLE — Getting old — that’s Coach Matt Painter’s objective. Not him, silly. Just his Purdue basketball team. In the present Division I climate, that’s difficult. Long-term planning can be a waste of time when transfers or the NBA can sabotage your efforts at the drop of a diploma. Painter is trying to deal with it, but after six straight seasons of at least 22 victories he’s in a crisis mode. Upperclassmen have become an endangered species at Mackey Arena. “When we played a lot of juniors and seniors we were pretty good,” Painter said during a recent appearance in … ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:23:46 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: Locals add pop to Indiana baseball ]]> Lead story image

Consider the DeMuth family well-traveled. Belonging to a family of educators almost guaranteed it. In Indiana third baseman Dustin DeMuth’s case, his siblings have cast their footprints all over Northwest Indiana. His brother, David, was a three-sport star at Highland High School. His sister, Jenny, also a Highland grad, played her basketball at IU. Another sister, Julie, graduated from Merrillville High School, where their father, Dave, toiled as an assistant principal for years. She starred at Ball State. “A lot of miles on the family car,” said Dustin, who was a three-sport standout at LaPorte, where his mother, Judith, served … ]]> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 06:35:51 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: ‘D’ priority for VU: eliminate big plays ]]> Lead story image

Incoming Valparaiso University football coach Dave Cecchini understands the problem. How soon he can correct it is the question. He inherited a defense that frequently self-destructed, giving up big play after big play on its way to a third straight 1-and-10 meltdown. Hoping to plug holes in the dike, he recruited 13 freshmen for defense. Six of them are backs. “Our biggest priority is to stop the big plays, to make them (opponents) earn it,” he said before Saturday’s Brown-Gold scrimmage. “We’re also preaching a lot more turnovers.” Last season the Crusaders were a minus-four in that category. They were … ]]> Thu, 29 May 2014 06:33:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Tailback riches shift Valparaiso’s offensive outlook ]]> Lead story image

VALPARAISO — Valparaiso University football fans — what few are left — would like to forget about the last three years. If not for Campbell’s three contributions the Crusaders would be 0-and-33 since 2011. One of those victories snapped a 29-game losing streak, but none were enough to save Dale Carlson’s job. Coach Dave Cecchini, imported from Lehigh, which won its ninth Patriot League title during his time as offensive coordinator, is undaunted by the challenge. Turning the Pioneer Football League cellar dwellers into a middle-of-the-road program won’t be easy, but he’s hoping to scrape the rust off the “Victory … ]]> Thu, 22 May 2014 06:35:45 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: LaPorte’s Greg Tonagel guides Indiana Wesleyan to national esteem ]]> Lead story image

National championship? Or endurance contest? Probably both. “It’s a marathon,” said Greg Tonagel, who coached Indiana Wesleyan to five victories in six days. That’s what it took for the Wildcats to win the NAIA basketball championship last week at the College of the Ozarks. “You’ve got to have tough kids,” said the LaPorte native, who became IWU’s coach in 2005 at the ripe old age of 24. “When you’re playing that many games it becomes more mental than physical to get over the hump.” Tonagel understands what it takes to become a winner. He starred for the Slicers in their … ]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 06:22:57 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: No wrestling generation gaps for Tsirtsis family ]]> Lead story image

Wrestling families seldom skip a generation. Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis followed that footprint on his way to the 149-pound title in the Big Ten Championships. His dad, Marino, wrestled. So did an older brother, Michael, who competed at Griffith High School in the late 1990s. Another sibling, Alex, started four years at Iowa, where he parlayed a 236-0 record at Griffith into All-American honors. Considering the family genes, Northwestern coach Drew Pariano understandably zeroed in on recruiting Jason at an early age. “Pretty much when he was in eighth grade.” Asked whether life on the mat was preordained, Jason offered a … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:16:30 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Alec Peters ranks high on Valpo’s learning curve; Wisconsin on the rise ]]> Lead story image

Freshmen have more ups and downs than your favorite roller coaster, which helps to explain Valparaiso’s modest 17-14 record and No. 4 seed going into the Horizon League basketball tournament. Five rookies account for more than 41 percent of the dethroned Crusaders’ playing time. They contribute varying degrees of highs and lows to the Division I learning curve. Unpredictability is the norm when even departing seniors Bobby Capobianco, LaVonte Dority, Moussa Gueye and Jordan Coleman have been short-term members of the program. Being bereft of four-year players makes it that much more difficult to develop team chemistry. Most of the … ]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:25:28 -0500