Post-Tribune Latest news from Post-Tribune Online en-us (Editor) Post-Tribune 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![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 … ]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 02:05:49 -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 <![CDATA[ Schmack makes a pitch for Valpo baseball ]]> Lead story image

Please don’t confuse first-year Valparaiso University baseball coach Brian Schmack with the new kid on the block. Hardly. Not when he spent the previous seven years as Tracy Woodson’s pitching coach. When Woodson departed for Richmond after guiding the Horizon League Tournament champs to their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, Schmack was the logical choice to replace his former boss. You couldn’t ask for a smoother transition, embellished by Schmack’s professional background. He pitched for three American League organizations, highlighted by 11 appearances for Detroit in 2003. “Tracy and I are very similar in philosophy,” he said after returning from … ]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 20:50:04 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: March Madness infects balanced Big Ten ]]> Lead story image

March Madness is creeping up on us. Whether or not the weatherman cooperates the silly season is less than five weeks away. If nothing else, it gives us something to think about besides snow and below-zero temperatures. Going into Saturday’s games only Syracuse and Wichita State remain undefiled by a loss. If I was a betting man I’d pick the Shockers as the most likely to take a perfect record into their conference tournament. Syracuse’s “A” list of quality victims includes Villanova (22-2 record), Pittsburgh (20-6) twice, Duke (20-5), North Carolina (17-7), California (16-8), Clemson (15-8) and Minnesota (16-9), but … ]]> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 06:25:10 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Valpo, St. Joe’s hit football recruiting jackpot ]]> Lead story image

Apparently defense is a foreign concept to high school football teams in Central Indiana. How else do you explain ridiculous scores like 83-78 and 43-35? Quarterbacked by Conner Smith, Perry Meridian put up those winning numbers against Decatur Central and Terre Haute South last season. In those two games the Valparaiso University recruit threw 12 of his 39 touchdown passes. Running a no-huddle offense, he clicked on 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,114 yards. What jumped out at me was that only eight of his 317 attempts were picked off. Not exactly a gazelle, the 6-3, 220-pound recruit has … ]]> Sun, 09 Feb 2014 16:48:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: German all-star Chris Ensminger helped launch Valpo hoops ]]> Lead story image

Most career basketball records are made to be broken. Others? Maybe not. At Valparaiso University a few that seem secure include Bryce Drew’s total of 2,142 points and Chris Ensminger’s 910 rebounds. That inside-outside combination figured in a VU dynasty, which started with the first of five straight NCAA appearances in 1996. Drew disagrees with my suggestion that the two standards won’t be toppled any time soon, but is constrained by modesty. “All records will eventually be broken,” said Drew, who played two years with Ensminger, “but it will take a special player with a great nose for the ball.” … ]]> Sun, 02 Feb 2014 21:56:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Lindner recalls high-octane days with Bartow ]]> Lead story image

In Bruce Lindner’s senior year at Valparaiso University, basketball coach Gene Bartow asked him to shoot more. Lindner was only too happy to oblige. Being a gunner paid off. Lindner averaged 27.8 points in the 1969-70 season, a school record that has withstood the test of time. Bartow’s unusual request boosted Lindner’s career average to 19.5, also a school record. Pretty terrific for someone who didn’t even start at Portage High School until his senior season and didn’t have the benefit of the 3-point shot. A nudge from his parents helped him pick VU over Evansville, Miami and Duke. “I … ]]> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 06:29:41 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: NWI talent elevates Michigan basketball duo ]]> Lead story image

No doubt about it, the state of Michigan rocks in basketball. Give Indiana imports an assist for the Big Ten’s dual dynasty. Leading off the M&M show: Michigan State is off to its best start in history with the help of Gary’s Branden Dawson and Gary Harris, who migrated from Central Indiana. Less than two years removed from ACL surgery, Dawson ranks among the top five in the Big Ten in rebounds and shooting percentage. Harris has overcome ankle issues, which cost him three games, to lead the Final Four prospects in scoring with a 17.6 average. Fittingly the 17-1 … ]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 06:29:17 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: College bowl season brought more mediocrity ]]> Lead story image

No doubt about it, couch potatoes never had it better over the holidays. Unfortunately, college fans will no longer have Johnny Football to kick around. Many bowl games were wildly exciting, none more so than Manziel’s grand finale in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In a 52-48 victory over Duke, he passed for 382 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a fifth to rally Texas A&M from a 21-point deficit. Before departing the cocky quarterback surpassed his Heisman Trophy numbers, passing for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns. Compare that to 3,206 yards and 26 TDs in his memorable first year. Manziel … ]]> Sun, 12 Jan 2014 22:12:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Len Schmidt’s athletic roots leave Merrillville imprint ]]> Lead story image

Total left knee replacement aside, Len Schmidt is walking with a spring in his step nowadays. It took multiple cortisone shots to convince him to undergo the procedure on Nov. 18, but the former coach/athletic director is looking forward to appearing at Avalon Manor Wednesday evening. Schmidt will be sharing the spotlight with former Blackhawks star Dennis Hull, the guest speaker at the sold-out 68th annual Gary Old Timers banquet. Though it’s been 40 years since Schmidt ended his connection with Merrillville High School, his roots undeniably mesh with the campus on East 68th Place. He played his high school … ]]> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 06:26:11 -0500 <![CDATA[ Valpo’s Karp closing in on SXU scoring record ]]> Lead story image

In 48 years of coaching — the last 17 at St. Xavier University — Tom O’Malley boiled down his basketball philosophy to two sentences: Coaches coach. Players play. “They deserve the credit,” said O’Malley, who has guided the Cougars to 406 victories and 11 appearances in the NAIA nationals. “It’s rewarding. All the good people I’ve been involved with.” None more so than Brad Karp, a can’t-miss guard from Valparaiso. Label him the one who got away. Barely recruited elsewhere, he quickly ascended to superstar level. Karp ranks among the top 10 all-time Illinois small-college scorers with 2,450 points to … ]]> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 15:01:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: Ball State football putting IU, Purdue on back burner ]]> Lead story image

While Indiana and Purdue continue to languish in never-never land, not an easy accomplishment given the 70 bowl-eligibles who came out of the woodwork, Ball State will be making its second straight postseason appearance. The Cardinals have piled up 19 victories in the last two years, but are seeking their first bowl victory in seven tries. Offensive tackle Matthew Page and punter Kyle Schmidt would like to correct that oversight. “It would be a great way to finish my college career,” said Page, who will start his second straight bowl game (“GoDaddy”) against Arkansas State on Jan. 5. “We want … ]]> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 06:32:41 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Chesterton’s John Snyder likes VU’s direction in football ]]> Lead story image

John Snyder’s return to college coaching wasn’t what he’d hoped for. Valparaiso went 1-10 for the third straight year, his boss got fired and his future in coaching is uncertain. Fortunately, the former Chesterton football coach didn’t give up his day job, which is teaching. Of course Snyder’s disappointed in the record. Who wouldn’t be? Watching VU football was as much fun as a trip to the dentist for a root canal, but he believes the program is in much better shape than outsiders believe. “It’s just a matter of translating it onto the field,” he said. Snyder would still … ]]> Fri, 17 Jan 2014 06:21:33 -0500 <![CDATA[ Mutka: Phoenix living up to preseason Horizon hype ]]> Lead story image

Change is inevitable, but not neccessarily welcome. Ask any old-timer. Chances are he’ll be delighted to remind you of the good old days. In the Horizon League, Butler’s departure raised shock waves two years ago. Loyola exiting for the Missouri Valley Conference? Not so much. Now a part of the reconstructed Big East, Butler reminds those who embrace the status quo how fragile college alliances can be when TV revenue and egos destroy old rivalries, trivialize geographical ties, skyrocket travel and stress the student part of student-athletes. If you need examples of recent defections: Texas A&M and Missouri in the … ]]> Sun, 08 Dec 2013 19:06:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Can Michigan State buck the Big Ten odds? ]]> Lead story image

Back in the neanderthal age, grind-it-out football advocates were fond of quoting this from the Big Ten bible: offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. That was before Urban Meyer revised the blueprint at Ohio State. Under Meyer, the Buckeyes have rolled to a school-record 24 straight victories. They went 12-0 despite a defense which was leakier than an old oaken bucket against California (35 points), Northwestern (30), (Illinois (35) and Michigan (41). Doormats Northwestern and Illinois never threatened because Braxton Miller, only the third quarterback to surpass 7,000 total yards in Ohio State history; and Carlos Hyde, Meyer’s first … ]]> Sun, 01 Dec 2013 23:25:40 -0500 <![CDATA[ MUTKA: Cory Sanders’ Pumas primed for next gridiron grind ]]> Lead story image

Less than a decade ago Cory Sanders was playing for his third coach in four years at St. Joseph’s College, where he earned defensive MVP honors in 2005. Now he’s presiding over the same program. “Yeah, time flies,” he said a week after SJC produced an 8-3 record. Not so fast if you’re 28, which makes him the youngest coach in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and one of the youngest in Division II football. Sanders guided the Pumas to their best season and nearly derailed GLVC champion Indianapolis. That 27-24 loss was one of eight nail nibblers in a … ]]> Thu, 26 Dec 2013 06:34:09 -0500 <![CDATA[ John Mutka: Michigan State’s Adrien Payne, Branden Dawson flex their muscles ]]> Lead story image

Remember that popular TV commercial “where’s the beef?” several years ago? If the meat is still missing try checking out the Breslin Center, home of Michigan State basketball. “We’re No. 1” discussions are premature, but beating Kentucky’s NBA farm team with its stockpiled McDonald All-Americans qualifies MSU as top-of-the-mountain material. All that beef can be found on ESPN, BTN or stuffed in the locker room, where the veteran Spartans routinely flex their bulging biceps. Here’s a few experienced carnivores for you: Adrien Payne (6-10, 245 pounds), Branden Dawson (6-6, 225) and Denzel Washington (6-5, 225). Behemoth Derrick Nix (6-9, 270) … ]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 06:33:07 -0500