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March 12, 2014

LOCALS ELSEWHERE: Spon, Cianci, Trudo, Giroski in the news

OPINION — FORMER AREA coach Rob Spon continues to make news in the professional basketball ranks.

Spon, coach of the St. John’s Bruins of the National Basketball League of Canada, was named “Coach of the Month” in February.

Spon, with the lowest payroll in the league, had his team in the playoffs recently, but they were eliminated 3 games to 1 by Halifax.

The former local man who has coached teams at various levels in the United States as well, is enjoying Canada.

“I’m about an hour from the U.S. border and near a bay where all big cruise ships come through on the way to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia,” said Spon. “There are six different species of whales.

“In June I was invited to St. Stephens, 10 minutes from the border, where I did a camp for high schoolers.”

As a coach he matches wits with several former NBA players who coach other teams in Canada, including Jan Jackson, Michael Ray Richardson, David Maglie, David Joseph, Craig Hodges and Joe Jones.

While the fans are turning out, about 2,500 for the last home game for the Bruins, Spon said that Canadiens are still wild about hockey, especially in the Olympics where the Canadien men’s and women’s teams beat the United States.

“It’s crazy up here,” said Spon. “That game (Canada-U.S. men) was early in the morning and all the bars here were open in the morning for people to come and watch hockey. They all were packed. They celebrated and were going crazy up here.”

Spon’s basketball team is led by Anthony Anderson, former UMass star. “He’s amazing,” said Spon. “Last game he went for 40 points. He had a pacers tryout and played overseas. He is trying to get into a summer league with an NBA team, but he’s only 5-11.

“We have some role players that are outstanding. Last game on the road against the top team Windsor, we had only 5 players (because of injuries), but we won 101-95.”

ä Nick Cianci of Greenville, a pitcher for the Mercyhurst Lakers, has taken part in a study concerning the correlation between pitch count and throwing-arm injuries.

He is part of a pioneering study by the Mercyhurst University Department of Sports Medicine, UPMC Hamot and Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie. The shared-resources collaboration is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Erie Consortium for Osteopathic Medical Training.

Cianci took part in the new research project, which looked at motion, but also measured shoulder muscle power and biomarkers. Biomarkers (short for biological markers) are used widely in medicine to predict serious illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Often a starting pitcher will be removed from the game after 100 pitches, which is reckoned to be the maximum optimal pitch count for a starting pitcher. But that may just be an arbitrary number.

Twelve student-athletes from the Mercyhurst University Lakers and North East Saints baseball teams served as test subjects.

Since previous motion studies have shown movement changes to be subtle, Tim Cooney said the team thought to introduce the concept of biomarkers as a measure of potential injury. Samples of student-athletes' blood drawn before and after pitching sessions were tested by UPMC Hamot to possibly diagnose joint stress in their bodies.

Results of the study are being assembled.

ä Former Farrell High athletic great Robert Trudo is shining on and off the field for the Syracuse University Orangemen.

Trudo, who started every game at left guard this past season, was recently named to the 2013 All-ACC Academic Football Team. Teammate punter Riley Dixon was also named.

Trudo, an economics major, is a redshirt junior. His blocking helped the Orangemen rack up more than 2,500 rushing yards, and he was a reliable performer on a line that was one of 35 in the Football Bowl Subdivision to allow less than 20 sacks this season.

To be eligible for consideration, the player must have earned a 3.0 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a 3.0 cumulative average during his career. A 3.5 grade point average is required for players in graduate school.

ä Former Kennedy Catholic football and wrestling star Joel Giroski is having great sports success as a coach as well.

Giroski is a middle school coach in track and field in the Hillsborough County School District, Florida. His team recently won the county championship and he and the squad were honored at a televised meeting of the school board.

In Florida, school districts are countywide. Hillsborough is the 10th largest school district in the world and there are 47 middle schools in the district, which includes the Tampa area.

How good is his team. He has an 11-year-old girl who runs the 400 in 59 seconds. That is flying, even for high school kids.

Giroski, an outstanding softball player, recently appeared in an infomercial for Miken bats with three other home-run hitters.

Giroski held the Mercer County single game rushing record (377 yards on 13 carries, set in 1994) until it was broken this past season by Lakeview’s Blake Reddick who went for 391 yards on 12 carries against Cochranton.

Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald.

 

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