If you need a Patriots

If you need a Patriots fix, don’t forget that Patriots.com has PFW Radio on today from Noon to 1:00 PM.

For more on the Patriots being the 7th team in the playoffs last year, I got an email this morning from someone who checked with the NFL and the Elias Sports Bureau, which confirmed that the Patriots would NOT have been that 7th team. The confusion for Ron Borges, and ESPN.com, (Check the caption under the Tom Brady picture) apparently stems from an NFL press release that described the proposal to add playoff teams for next season which was being discussed during the Owners meetings. The release stated that the Patriots and Saints would’ve made the playoffs under the proposal being considered. Tells you something about the NFL tiebreaking rules when even their own PR guys can’t figure them out.

Here’s how it works, according to the rules.

Five teams with 9-7 records. (Jets, Dolphins, Pats, Browns, Broncos)

Ties are first broken within the division. Jets & Patriots win tiebreaks over Dolphins, eliminating them.

We move onto the Wild Card Tiebreaker between the Pats, Browns and Broncos. The first tie break is head to head record, but only if all teams have faced each other. They haven’t. Second tie breaker is conference record.

Browns 7-5
Pats 6-6
Broncos 5-7

Browns win tiebreaker. You might now think that the Pats win over the Broncos as well. That is NOT the case. Check out this rule:

“Only one club advances to the playoffs in any tie-breaking step. Remaining tied clubs revert to the first step of the applicable division or Wild-Card tie breakers. As an example, if two clubs remain tied in any tie-breaker step after all other clubs have been eliminated, the procedure reverts to step one of the two-club format to determine the winner. When one club wins the tie breaker, all other clubs revert to step 1 of the applicable two-club or three-club format.”

So now, the Patriots and Broncos start the Wild Card tie breakers all over again. The first one is head to head matchups. The Broncos beat the Patriots during the season, so they win that tiebreaker and eliminate the Pats.

Bob Ryan was on ESPN radio this morning to talk about the NCAAs. One of the topics they discussed was Boston College not making the tournament. Ryan feels last year BC got a break by getting into the NCAAs, and maybe that stuck in the head of someone on the committee.

Only in Boston can the

Only in Boston can the release and waiver claim of a utility infielder generate story after story. Yeah, he’s a local kid. But how many stories can we crank out on Lou Merloni? Well, let’s see, it is a slow news day… Lenny Megliola says the move to San Diego could finally give Lou a chance to shine. Before Lou left, Bob Hohler says Theo Epstein gave him some good places to go get a beer in San Diego. Jeff Horrigan says Lou is all fired up to go the National League and get a chance to play more. Sean McAdam says cult hero Lou will always have a part of himself here in Boston, and Theo promised him a spot for him to come back to when his playing days are over. Art Davidson writes that Lou appreciated how all of this was handled. David Heuschkel says Lou can no longer say the Red Sox are making a mockery of his career, and retells the story of Lou and Ben Affleck’s little spat last summer. Steve Buckley says that getting away from his hometown will help out Lou. Gotta shell out to read that one though. So there’s seven stories, not counting the papers that haven’t come out online yet. Elsewhere in Red Sox news, if you want to your five bucks, you can read Michael Gee tell you how the Red Sox plan to be luckier this season. Alex Speier talks to Todd Walker about his fielding, and the prospect of playing in Boston. Yesterday’s spring training loss to the Pirates gave reliever Steve Woodard, a bubble candidate to make the team, a chance to shine. McAdam’s notebook has more. Woodard is also the subject of Hohler’s notebook. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Woodard and a few other bullpen candidates.

Rosevelt Colvin spoke to the Boston media yesterday. You can watch part of the session on Patriots Video News. Michael Smith has a report from the Colvin press conference, with Colvin talking about how good a fit this situation seemed for him. He did his homework in asking around about the situation here. Christopher Price says Colvin has shown up ready to go to work. Tom Curran’s latest Patriots Mailbag is finally up on the web.Kevin Mannix reports from the owners meetings in Phoenix, In a media session, Bill Belichick addressed the safety situation, stressing they can have all three on the team at once. He also touches on Colvin, and the running back situation. Alan Greenberg touches on Tebucky, noting that Jones is not participating in the offseason workouts because he doesn’t want to risk injury, knowing that the Patriots are trying to trade him. Ron Borges has more on negotiations between the Saints and Patriots on Tebucky Jones. A few of you have written in, feeling that Borges has been correct in claiming the Patriots would have been the seventh playoff team, and that I’m wrong. Perhaps I’ll put in more detail later, but in boils down to a rule that “resets” the tiebreakers after the first wildcard team is determined. Once Cleveland made it in by virtue of a better conference record than the other two teams, Denver and New England would have started the tie breakers all over again, and the first tiebreaker is head-to-head, which the Broncos win because of a victory over the Patriots last year. That’s as simple as I can put it.

Shira Springer looks at the Celtics disastrous road trip and what the Celtics need to do to get back on track. Mark Murphy says that the Celtics better get their act together, this is no time to be slumping. Carolyn Thornton writes that the Celtics have no time to dwell on these losses. Christopher Price looks at the missing Tonys. Steve Bulpett looks at Tony Battie and his ailing knee.

Stephen Harris says many of the Bruins are very glad to no longer be playing for Ftorek. Kevin Paul Dupont says the team has already raised their level of play, and are a more physical squad as well. Harris’ notebook looks at Jeff Hackett’s troublesome finger.

Bob Ryan wants to give props to the Frozen Four…the other form of March Madness, especially as it relates to the Harvard team.

Region 3 (Winners in Bold)

Region 3 (Winners in Bold) This completes the second round. We’re down to 16.

Gerry Callahan (1) vs. Mike Fine (8)

Fine runs out of ammo here, as the small conference candidate cannot match up on the boards and out on the fast break with Callahan

New and improved Bruins? After

New and improved Bruins? After three games of Mike O’Connell? That’s what Kevin Paul Dupont says. He likes what he saw last night. Stephen Harris adds that last night the Bruins confidence was higher than it had been in months. A good night for Mike Knuble, who won the seventh player award, then went out and scored the winning goal. Frank Dell’Apa, Rich Thompson and James Murphy report on the night for Knuble. Karen Guregian writes about O’Connell trying to get the players to buy into what he has to say. Dan Shaughnessy is proud of the “classy” Bruins fans. Joe McDonald writes that Mike Sullivan is the likely head coach of the Bruins next year. Thompson also writes about Steve Shields’ performance between the pipes last night. All notebooks deal with Sergei Samsonov and how far away he is from returning. Dupont’s notebook says he is “a ways” away still. Harris’ notebook adds a Hackett injury update. McDonald’s notebook has an interesting tidbit about where Joe Thornton stands during the National Anthem.

Celtics as lost five in a row for the first time under Jim O’Brien, who was especially short and curt during this postgame remarks. Shira Springer and Mark Murphy relate that the Celtics played better, they just didn’t have enough to pull out the win. Phil Miller of the Salt Lake Tribune notes that in beating the Celtics, the Jazz also broke the Celtics record of 19 straight years with a winning record. Too bad their picture with the story identifies Kedrick Brown as “Mark Brown”. Speaking of Kedrick, Jim O’Brien must be reading here (kidding) as Kedrick’s been playing again. Last night was more flashes, 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Part of the reason Brown has been playing though, is the absence of Tony Delk, who lost his father to a heart attack. The two missing Tony’s is the subject of Springer’s notebook. Murphy’s notebook is similar.

In a move to bolster the youngster’s confidence, Jeff Horrigan reports that Grady Little has named Casey Fossum as his fourth starter. This allows him to face the Devil Rays in his first start. David Heuschkel writes about the nasty pitcher Trot Nixon spent the winter facing. Tony Massarotti writes that it looks like the old Nomar is back. Bob Hohler reports on the battle for the utility position. I think we all know Lou is going to start the season in Pawtucket…and that’s what Horrigan reports in his notebook. Hohler’s notebook says John Burkett doesn’t mind being named the fifth starter. In Sean McAdam’s notebook, he tries to figure out the opening day lineup, which Grady Little says will contain four lefties.

This lead-in to the Red Sox discussion board on Boston.com cracked me up:

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy is getting worried because the clock is ticking and with one week until opening day, Pedro's contract situation still has not been resolved. He thinks Pedro is not going to be happy if the season starts with this issue still in limbo.

I’m sure Dan is losing sleep at night over this. Several people have already expressed their opinion on the topic. You can as well.

Michael Felger and Tom Curran both report from the first day of the offseason conditioning program, and chat with Tedy Bruschi about Tebucky Jones and the new additions to the team. Ron Borges reports on NFL Europe going ahead with plans to play, he also again mentions that the Patriots would’ve been the 7th playoff team last year. Finally, almost in passing, he mentions the signing of Fred McCrary. Kevin Mannix reports from the owners meetings, and comments on proposals to add another playoff team and for overtime play.

Bill Griffth reports on the Spanish Beisbol Network, a rapidly growing venture. He also has various other media notes. If you want to read Jim Baker’s column about the NCAA TV ratings, you’ll have to pay your five bucks…Ron Borges fans take note, you can hear Ron do color commentary on Boxing tonight on NESN at 8:00.

Ron Borges really thinks I

Ron Borges really thinks I hate him, poor guy, but I don’t. Regardless I find it necessary to keep pointing out things that aren’t quite right. Simple things, like facts. In yesterday’s football notes, Borges took a mini shot at Patriots owner Bob Kraft, when he said:

The annual NFL owners meetings begin tomorrow in Phoenix, with several key issues to be debated. One is a plan floated by Patriots owner Bob Kraft as well as Chiefs boss Lamar Hunt to expand the playoff system by adding a wild-card team in each conference. Surprise of surprises, last year that team in the AFC would have been New England.

I need to get the WEEI announcer boy to send me a clip saying “Sorrrry, Borges” so I can imbed it into posts whenever there’s something needing to be straightened out. According to the tie breakers as they are now, the Patriots would not have been that seventh playoff team. Tiebreakers are first applied within the Division. Jets beat out the Patriots, Patriots beat out Miami, by virtue of the better record within the division. So the Patriots then move onto the Wild Card tiebreaker. Denver beats the Patriots because of a head to head matchup, which is the first tiebreaker. Denver didn’t get in this year, because they lost a tie breaker to Cleveland. But Denver would’ve been the seventh playoff team this year. So Borges’ mini shot accusing Kraft of sour grapes for missing out on the playoffs by one slot doesn’t hold water.

Next item. Over the weekend, I posted about Nick Cafardo saying the Patriots couldn’t sign any more players because they were too close to the cap. I intimated that he was critical of the team for blowing all their money and not being able to sign players who might suddenly become available. Larry Centers was the name they were talking about on WWZN that day. Nick said that would have to cut or restructure someone in order to be able to sign another player. Borges indicates the same thing yesterday:

As of late last week, the Patriots were only $494,000 under the salary cap, which put them all but out of the free agency market, despite their courting of Rams center Andy McCollum.

Then the Patriots go this weekend, and reportedly agree with fullback Fred McCrary on a 2 year contract worth “slightly more” than $725,000 a year. So, people are now waiting for the Patriots to make a move and clear space to make the signing official. Well, they might not.

Why’s that, you ask? Well the answer is quite simple, and it’s something Borges, Cafardo and the rest of that crowd has forgotten, or perhaps never knew, even though it has been the case since the salary cap was implemented. From now until the final cuts of training camp, only the top 51 salaries count towards the cap. If you’ve got 60 players signed, you count only the 51 highest salaries. Borges reported that the Patriots were only 494K under the cap. He’s probably right. So how could they sign McCrary to a $725K per year deal? Let’s say the 51st player on the roster was making 300K. By signing McCrary for $725, you displace the 300K player, making the net on the cap only 425K, keeping you under the cap. (725 – 300 = 425) Likewise, if the 51st player was making 300K, and you signed someone else for 250K it would not count towards the cap right now. These are all hypothetical figures, but used in this way, I think you get the idea of how the process works.

As of today, the Globe still has not mentioned the name Fred McCrary. The Patriots have announced the signing, as of this afternoon. They also brought back and signed Maugaula Tuitele once again.

Winners in Bold. Region 1

Winners in Bold.

Region 1

Bob Lobel (1) vs. Bill Simmons (9)

Had this Tourney been two or three years ago at the height of the BSG website, Simmons would

Quick Links today as it’s

Quick Links today as it’s another busy day of Mediamadness results. The results from the first round which remain below will be pulled this morning and placed on the Archive page.

NCAA: Bob Ryan toots the horn of Boston as an NCAA site, and the Big East as a conference. Steve Bulpett and Michael Smith report on the Pitt victory over Indiana yesterday. Dan Shaughnessy touts the Pitt defense.Mark Blaudshun and Dan Ventura report on Syracuse advancing as well. Jackie MacMullan writes about a subpar performance from the all-world freshman, Carmelo Anthony. Old man Donaldson says the quality of play in the NCAA just isn’t what it used to be. There is a plethora of stories on NCAA hoops and hockey available on the Globe and Herald college sports pages.

Other than the NCAA’s, stories are scattered. Tony Massarotti looks at the Sox pitching staff starting to take shape. Steve Buckley gives us a free sidebar in which he talks to Jeremy Giambi about…what else…#25…formerly worn by Tony C. In his column that you have to pay for, Buckley writes about those glorious spring training bus rides. David Heuschkel says that Matt White’s pulled back muscle could be a blessing in disguise. Sean McAdam says the rainouts are preventing the Sox from getting their work done. Bob Hohler says that Grady Little likes Frank Castillo in the long relief role. Massarotti’s notebook has Jason Varitek supporting Casey Fossum. He also notes the Joe Kerrigan still refuses to talk to the Boston media…in case you missed it yesterday, Jeff Horrigan reported the following in his notebook:

Kerrigan, who worked on Phillies broadcasts in 2002, remains upset that a Boston Globe columnist wrote last season that he didn't return his leased company car after being fired. A top Red Sox official said yesterday, however, that blame should be placed on the club, which was supposed to provide a Philadelphia-area dealership to return the vehicle to, but forgot to do so until September.

I might be mistaken, but I think the columnist in question has curly hair. Kerrigan must not have figured out that Alex Speier was from the Boston media, as he spoke to him.

Mark Murphy looks at the Celtics as they struggle on the road to a lower seed. Shira Springer says gosh darn it, the Celtics are tired of losing. Murphy’s notebook looks ahead to the Jazz.

Michael Smith says Tebucky Jones isn’t sure of his future, or if he’ll attend the conditioning program yet. Kevin Mannix says no deal for Jones seems to be in the works.

John Molori catches up with Bob Lobel.

Rob Nikoleski hosted Sports Sunday

Rob Nikoleski hosted Sports Sunday and quoted FDR as the reason to keep on talking sports during wartime. Highlights of the Red Sox 2 inning game today were followed by news of Fred McCrary signing with the Patriots as reported by the Naples Daily News, he then talked about the Len Pasquarelli article that mentioned Belichick and Haslett planning on getting together at the owners meetings. Highlights of the women’s and men’s NCAA games followed., including Rick Pitino and Louisville getting knocked out. After the break, NCAA women’s hockey highlights were followed by selection Sunday for the men’s NCAA. Bruins highlights from last night were followed by “Reid between the lines” where Levan comments that Mike O’Connell must be trying to save his own job by making the move of Ftorek this week. Ftorek’s baffling moves on a team trying to come together for the playoffs might’ve been the last straw. A new season begins under coach O’Connell. So they’re 1-1 in the new season, Reid says that sounds a lot like the old season…

Jeff Horrigan joined the show from Florida, and Casey Fossum was the topic. He has no control, might be psychological now, it isn’t physical. Can’t control his fastball. He’s lost his confidence, even though they’re trying to reassure him that his spot in the rotation is assured. Horrigan says he could be feeling the pressure of being the holdup in a trade for Colon. Lowe is also struggling this year, but Horrigan isn’t worried, the sinkerball pitchers need more work for their sinkers to really get working. Lou Merloni…might be putting pressure on him self by thinking about his situation as well. They like Adrian Brown as a pure centerfielder to back up Damon, he’s likely in, and Damian Jackson might be more versatile than Merloni. Hillenbrand pretty much off the trade market. Opening day will likely see Millar at first with a lefty pitching. Crowded situation shouldn’t be a problem, since all these guys are used to being platoon and backup players. Nikoleski ended the program talking about the NCAA games this week in Boston and how experiences this week remind us of the things he feels makes this country so great.

Sports Xtra with Gene Lavanchy hopes to take your mind off the war, but then promised Gerry Callahan in studio with Jackie MacMullan to debate whether the merits of playing the NCAA tournament. Highlights from said tournament led off the events of the day. More on the Bruins and the coaching change from this week was the topic of a feature by Gary Gillis. Kevin Paul Dupont and Lyndon Byers were in studio to talk about the Bruins coaching change. Dupont feels all the changes in Phoenix were enough to do Ftorek in. Byers says you can’t convince him that the Bruins aren’t a good team, they just didn’t have the right direction. Joe & the boys now need to step up. Byers really likes this group of coaches, says Sullivan is going to be a “superb” NHL coach someday, likes having Cheevers there. Dupont thinks they get a nice boost now and will get another when Samsonov comes back. This time makes a lot of nutty mistakes. The fans have had enough and want to see some real production. Byers says O’Connell has done nothing but good moves here, he likes the defensemen they brought in. O’Connell is a fan of the team, Byers said repeatedly. The teams needs to be more proactive. Byers is going to be in a new sitcom, created by Michael J Fox. He plays a goon hockey player.

Jackie MacMullan and Gerry Callahan were in next, Callahan went on an political and war diatribe that can be heard any morning on D&C.

Rene Rancourt was a guest of Sports Final with Bob Lobel. Rancourt was on to talk about the controversy surrounding the Montreal fans booing the National Anthem. He stated strongly that the fans were wrong to do so, and thinks it was more a booing of George Bush, rather than of the USA as a whole. Rancourt, who sings the anthems for the Bruins, hopes that the Boston fans don’t retaliate during the singing of the Canadian anthem. Andy Brickley came in to talk Bruins, but said the Montreal booing “smacks of ignorance and arrogance”. Brickley says the short bench length of coaches in the NHL is brutal. Despite past success, the players weren’t responding to Ftorek. Why didn’t the Bruins make the move sooner? Things had gotten a little better, but after the team played really poorly against a team in Phoenix that wasn’t so great, that was enough. Why the second time being fired with under 10 games? Perhaps they know Ftorek really feels the pressure, but the situations were totally different. Will the spikes of the new coach and Samsonov be enough to bring them to the second round? First, Brickley says he doesn’t think Samsonov will be fully ready to play even if he does come back. He likes what he saw in Los Angeles, even though they blew a three goal lead. A feature combining snips from movies (it is Oscar night) and Red Sox highlights was up next. Great feature. Very funny.

Red Sox and Fossum talk was up next, Jerry Remy and Alice Cook were in Florida, Lobel started by putting up Fossum’s spring training numbers. 1-3, 16.05 ERA. It was followed by a clip of Fossum in an interview with Gordon Edes admitting he’s feeling the pressure. Cook says the team remains in his corner, Remy says his stuff still looks really good, but he isn’t hitting his spots. He’s putting too much pressure on himself. He just isn’t relaxed enough to pitch effectively. As for Hillenbrand, he wants to be here, and is likely the best defensive first baseman they have, he’s determined to show that they shouldn’t have thought of trading him. Platooning players can be a juggle for the manager, but usually someone steps forward and claims the job. Pitching…all teams need pitching, but with the Red Sox you wonder about the starters with Fossum struggling, and we don’t know how the bullpen is going to work. Pedro is the best he’s ever seen. Everything revolves around him.

Michael Smith was up next to talk about the Patriots and the signing of Fred McCrary. Smith says this is a move to save face after losing Edwards. Not as good a receiver as Edwards, but a solid blocker, can catch pretty well. This is saving face after losing out on all the fullbacks that were out there, Richie Anderson, Lorenzo Neal, etc. The Jets loss of Coles is good for the Patriots, their need at cornerback might not be as pressing. The division has lost Peerless Price and Coles, so the Patriots can benefit from that. They touched on the Celtics, unforgivable sin in losing to the Nuggets. Struggling heading into the playoffs. Can’t take NJ, Philly is tough, they should hope to try to get Indiana in a first round matchup.

Once again, we need to

Once again, we need to go elsewhere to find Patriots news. First, Andy Kent of the Naples Daily News reports that fullback Fred McCrary will be signing a two year deal “worth lightly more per year than the $725,000 he was slated to make in San Diego”, with the Patriots. We’ll see if the Patriots now have to make a move, as Nick Cafardo said this week on the radio that the Patriots could not sign any more players until they cut or restructured someone. He was pretty certain that they spent all their money and had no room for further additions without freeing up money under the cap.

Next is something that could do just that, Len Pasquarelli reports on the NFL trade market, noting that Tebucky Jones heads the list. He reports that:

Word is that coaches Bill Belichick and Jim Haslett will get together at some point to see if they can hammer something out. Agent Gary Wichard and New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis are close enough to a contract accord that a five-year deal could be finished quickly if the teams agree on compensation. The groundwork has been laid for a contract that would pay Jones about $3.5 million per year. Haslett says Jones, who has yet to consistently play up to his physical potential, can definitely upgrade the Saints' secondary.

The article goes on to say that the Patriots could also keep all three safeties, as they use a lot of defensive sets in which all three would be on the field together.

Looking at the two stories, the conclusion could be made that the Patriots are waiting to announce the McCrary signing until they trade Jones, and thus have the cap space they need to make it official. We’ll see what happens.

March Media Madness will begin

March Media Madness will begin later this morning. I’ll release the results of matchups in increments of four, probably something like every half hour. You can look at the full field of 64 or see Regions one and two, or Regions three and four. You can download your own copy of the brackets, (They’re in an Excel file) and fill them out and return them via email to me. The ones you’ve sent to me won’t be compiled and listed until perhaps the end of the tourney, so you’ve still got time to fill out brackets if you wish.

So many NCAA articles here that there is no way I can possibly link to them all. Here’s a few of note. Michael Smith has a feature on Wagner head coach Dereck Whittenburg, who many feel is a rising star in coaching. Whittenburg is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of the most famous plays in tournament history, when, playing for NC State against Houston in 1983, he lofted a desperation shot/pass, which teammate Lorenzo Charles caught and dunked to win the game as time expired. Jackie MacMullan looks at Pitt forward Donatas Zavackas, who, having grown up around war, spoke out before the tournament, expressing his stance that he games should not played. Jim Donaldson gets thoughts from tournament participants at the Fleetcenter on the topic of playing during a war. Karen Guregian writes about Indiana coach Mike Davis, who gets to play his alma mater, Alabama in the first round. Jeff Jacobs looks at the effect the shot blocking of UConn’s Emeka Okafor has on opponents, and its importance for the Huskies. Bob Ryan thinks that Ivy League champ Penn has a chance to make some noise in this tournament. Joe Burris has a recap of the Vermont/Arizona game, with making a decent showing for itself despite the difficulties they had in getting there. Mike Shalin previews Boston College’s matchup with Temple in the second round of the NIT. You can catch the rest of the Herald stories on the NCAA’s on their college page. The Globe hasn’t updated its college section as of this writing, but when they do, you can read the stories here.

Gordon Edes looks at another strong performance from Pedro Martinez, talks about the Martinez imposed deadline (which Pedro pretty much rescinded on D&C earlier this spring) for the Red Sox to pick up his option, and notes Pedro has a big fan in Sparky Anderson. Sean McAdam says batters beware…Pedro is back in top form. Jeff Horrigan looks at Kevin Millar, now somewhat vindicated for his earlier stance that he didn’t want to play in Japan because of the impending war in Iraq. MLB doesn’t want to play there either, having cancelled the series that was to open the regular season there. David Heuschkel looks at Jeremy Giambi, who appears to be almost completely out of the mix at first base for the Sox. Steve Britt looks at a few Red Sox fans that have made Fort Myers their year round home. A couple of Herald baseball columns are out of the free domain, as you’ll need to ante up to read Steve Buckley’s defending Trot Nixon and Howard Bryant writing about Bud Selig. Alex Speier looks at the Sox stocking up on young arms. McAdam’s notebook has some good news for Robert Person, who was added to the 40 man roster, while Edes notebook looks into the future with a peek at Hanley Ramirez, getting some time with the big club yesterday. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Pedro’s outing yesterday.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell says Joe Thornton is going to miss Robbie Ftorek, who was always there for him and in his corner. Jumbo Joe says this move will have paid off only if they win the cup. Russ Conway says the firing of Ftorek was justified. Ron Matejko looks at Mike O’Connell making his NHL coaching debut tonight. Kevin Paul Dupont says Ftorek wasn’t very talkative upon returning home yesterday. Marrapese-Burrell’s notebook reports that one of O’Connell’s first moves was to end the defensemen-playing-forward experiment with Sean Brown and Bryan Berard. Matejko’s notebook looks at the arrival of assistant Mike Sullivan. Though he was a couple weeks early in his predictions, it should be noted that not only did NECN’s Chris Collins says that Ftorek would be fired, but he also named the replacement and the coaching staff.

Shira Springer says the Celtics hope a day off can help them get their heads back into playing the way they need to. They’ll need to be sharp, playing the Lakers in LA tonight. Mark Murphy thinks Antoine Walker’s assertion that his team can still win the East is “preposterous, even naive.” Tim Weisberg says besides making more shots, the Celtics need some young legs who can get out and run a bit. Murphy’s notebook looks ahead to the Lakers.

Mike Reiss wonders if the just-released Larry Centers might be the answer at fullback for the Patriots. Much like he did with Colvin, Bill Belichick had a lot of praise to throw Center’s way when the Patriots faced the Bills last season.

Bill Griffith reports on the switch of NCAA games from CBS to ESPN, and has Jim Rice and Sam Horn lined up as part of the mix to go with Bob Rogers for NESN Red Sox pregame shows. John Howell also looks at the NCAA coverage. In The Week That Was, I’m wondering what the role of sports radio should be during wartime. It’s not in the column, but I liked Sean McDonough’s comment yesterday that he will be sticking to sports, unlike the “other sports radio station in town” as there are plenty of outlets for news, and war commentary.