Sports 18

Saying Goodbye

June 12th, 2013 at 11:02 pm by under Sports 18

Wednesday, June 12,

This is the hardest subject I’ve had to write about in my 6 1/2 years at WLFI-TV—-saying goodbye.

I will be leaving WLFI on Friday, June 14 to take a new position at WTHI-TV, the CBS and Fox affiliate in Terre Haute. I will be the weeknight news anchor at 6 & 11 there and succeeding a first-class gentleman, Mark Allen, who is irreplaceable. Mark is a Hall of Fame broadcaster who’s been in the Wabash Valley for 46 years, the last 23 of those years at WTHI. Mark is retiring at the end of this month, which created the job opening that I’m leaving for.

I cannot put into words how special it’s been to be in the News 18 and Sports 18 viewing area since October 25, 2006. It’s the best place that I’ve ever worked and the best place I’ve ever lived. This is one of the truly special places in the country and the people are the reason why.

The list of people to thank is a very, very long one. My current sports staff members, Ross Bolin and Caleb Martin, who are as loyal, hard-working, and dependable as they come. Ross and Caleb will continue to provide you with outstanding sports coverage. I have the utmost faith in them. I also am most grateful to former WLFI Sports Department members Tiffanie Dismore (now Tiffanie Terry), Matt Wettersten, Kelly Crull, Gage Butterbrodt, and Larry Clisby. As well as GoldandBlack.com Publisher Alan Karpick and his tremendous staff. Along with the classy WASK radio group in Lafayette, where I worked part-time the past two years. I also want thank the management at WLFI for the wonderful opportunity of working here and the countless athletic directors, coaches, and student-athletes who have made my job most enjoyable and very memorable.

Most of all, I want to thank you, the AWESOME viewers of WLFI, for welcoming me into your homes and making me feel most welcome. The warmth, genuineness, and class of this wonderful community I simply can’t put into words. You have treated me wonderfully and I will always be grateful.

Thank you and I wish each and everyone of you the best.

Best wishes and thanks again,

Mike Cleff

 

 


Tough end to Purdue’s season

March 26th, 2013 at 11:52 pm by under Sports 18

Only one team goes home happy at the end of the year. That is just the truth. However, it was very sad to see the Purdue women’s basketball team’s season come to an end against Louisville.

It’s always tough speaking to the players when their season has come to an end. For some of them it is the end to their careers!

Purdue’s Sam Ostarello was one of those players that saw her career end with this loss. I have always enjoyed covering Sam ‘O’ over these past years. She has been one of my favorites. She was the final one I spoke with in the locker room after the game. She always jokes with me and holds my microphone instead of letting me hold it like I do for everyone else. She grabbed the mic and said, “one last time, right?” She made me tear up a little when she said that.

What a great career she had! I wrote about all of her stats in the article about the loss. She was a special player just as Chantel Poston and Drey Mingo were. Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp shared her thoughts on the three seniors.

“Chantel Poston has been a part of an Elite 8 and two Big Ten Tournament teams,” said Versyp. “She is just an amazing young woman. I am very proud of Chantel. I just wish she could have played more this year. Sam is one of the best rebounders that we have every had at Purdue. She has grown immensely. She is a young kid and started our program at 17. With her growth, she will have potential to play at the next level. With Drey, it doesn’t matter anything about basketball, she is alive. She has taught us more about everything. It doesn’t matter about rings, national championships, Sweet Sixteens; this is a young woman that battled back from bacterial meningitis who almost died and lost her hearing. For her to have that uniform on, and to win a Big Ten Championship and win MVP of that, and to now probably have a WNBA career or play overseas before she becomes a docto. I think that will be a great exclamation point on her career.”

This team has been through a lot over the past few years! The Boilers have endured this season that saw assistant coach Terry Kix battle stomach cancer. They played their hearts out for her and I know she is very proud of them!

I am shocked but not shocked that the Boilers lost this game. If that makes any sense. Louisville is a good team. I knew they had a chance, especially on their home floor! Speaking of that, Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino was in the crowd and was helping lead with the cheers! That was pretty cool! The crowd did play a factor in the game and helped swing momentum Louisville’s way. I really thought this was the Boilers year to go to the sweet 16 though. They were playing great basketball entering this game. However, it only takes one off night for the season to come to an end. Purdue had an off night! So, I guess I was wrong on my prediction. It wouldn’t be the first time.

So, this brings and end to my trip. It has been a fun one! I now get to drive home and enjoy a few days off. Thanks for reading. It’s been a blast!

Follow me on twitter: @sportsguycaleb

–Caleb Martin

 


Louisville has a stong defense

March 25th, 2013 at 6:38 pm by under Sports 18

Purdue knows that if it is going to make it to the sweet 16, the Boilers have to take care of the ball.

Louisville finally broke the game open against Middle Tennessee State due to their press defense that forced MTSU in to 24 turnovers.

I dropped by Purdue’s locker room early this morning and spoke with the players. Each of them spoke about watching the 1-2-2 press that Louisville runs. They believe if they can limit turnovers they can win this game.

Also, Purdue is not really worried about the crowd. Louisville had a crowd of nearly six thousand people at its game against MTSU! I think their will be even more on Tuesday night. However, the Boilers say they like to just pretend they are cheering for them. If it works, why not right?!

I spent time at Louisville’s press conference too. They have a lot of respect for the Boilers and know they will have their hands full! Purdue is playing great basketball right now!

I was not able to watch either practice today. They were closed to media. So, I can’t add a lot of insight to what took place. Purdue’s players did tell me that it would be a mental practice. They would work on implementing the game-plan.

Chantel Poston told me that she feels good. I think she will play about the same amount of minutes that she played against Liberty.

Purdue’s Drey Mingo scored just two points against Liberty. The Boilers will need more production out of her in order to get this win.

It should be a lot of fun and I will be there to bring you complete coverage!

Follow me on twitter: @sportsguycaleb

Caleb Martin


Purdue routs Liberty

March 24th, 2013 at 6:59 pm by under Sports 18

Purdue dominated from beginning to end in its game against Liberty on Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center.

I think I was able to have as much fun as the Boilermakers too! I was able to sit court-side as the Boilers routed the Lady Flames 77-43. After the game I was standing outside the Boilermakers locker room. I was able to shake Courtney Moses’ hand and congratulate her, KK Houser, and Sam Ostarello before they were escorted to the press conference room.

Now when I conduct interviews at the NCAA Touranment, I just spend time in the locker room and speak with the players there. The players were in great spirits and were joking around after the big win! I spoke to the Louisville native and Purdue freshman guard, April Wilson first. I had to ask her if she noticed any friends and family in the stands. Of course she said yes. She said she heard her name screamed out a few times but she was more focused on what was taking place on the court. It showed too. Wilson led the Purdue bench in scoring with 8 points!

I then went on to speak with Chantel Poston, Taylor Manuel, Sam ‘O’, Moses, and Houser. How about Ostarello’s game?! She poured in 10 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks! Ostarello set a Purdue NCAA Tournament record with the 17  boards. Liberty’s head coach Carey Green shared his thoughts on Ostarello’s performance.

“I don’t think it changed. I wanted her to wear a Liberty jersey yesterday so she proved me right,” said Green. “She did a great job with 17 rebounds. I’d still like to have a Liberty jersey on her.”

All of the players I spoke with were in great spirits but they are focused on gearing up for their game Tuesday against Louisville.

Speaking of Louisville, I was able to watch most of its game from my court-side seat. Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp was just a few seats down from me taking in the game and getting a game-plan ready for Tuesday. Versyp spoke about playing Louisville in her press conference.

“They are a very athletic team,” said Versyp. “They extend their defense with their length. They have great scorers. They have obviously done very well at home.”

Middle Tennessee State played Louisville extremely well for most of the game but the Cardinals were just too strong and too deep down the stretch in the second half.

I really think the Boilers are going to get the win on Tuesday if they play the way they did today! There was a huge crowd for Louisville’s game. So, the crowd might play a factor in the second round match-up. However, the Boilers have played in tough environments throughout the Big Ten. So, I don’t think it will play too much in to the outcome.

I will be back at it tomorrow. (Monday) I am going back to the KFC Yum! Center to get interviews with the Boilers. So, make sure to check back here and remember to check out my stories at WLFI.com.

Hope everyone back in West Lafayette have their snow shovels ready! I hear it is going to get bad. I am looking out my hotel window now and it is still just rain here. I guess I will see what happens.

Follow me on twitter: @sportsguycaleb

Caleb Martin


Purdue practices at KFC Yum! Center

March 23rd, 2013 at 6:04 pm by under Sports 18

I was up bright and early this morning to make a trip to the KFC Yum! Center.

I was able to get interviews with the Boilers at 10:50 am. They were tired but excited to get to practice. They said their main concern in playing Liberty is the Lady Flames rebounding. The Lady Flames are averaging 48 rebounds per game and 17 more rebounds a contest than their opponents. Purdue is averaging 37 rebounds per contest. The Boilers know they have to box out and they have to be physical.

Liberty’s head coach Carey Green knows Purdue has good players that can rebound though. He specifically spoke about Sam Ostarello.

“She does a great job,” said Green. “I’d like to have her on my team. She’s a great challenge. I could easily put a Liberty jersey on her. She’d fit with our team really well.”

The Boilers also spoke about getting a lot of shots up in their 90 minute practice. They struggled shooting at the beginning of practice. They didn’t seem to like how the ball bounced on the rims. So, it was vital to shoot a lot so they could get used to the rims! Purdue also continued to work on the gameplan, while working on some out-of-bounds plays.

The team was in great spirits during practice. They were making me laugh with all their excitement. They are a really fun group to be around and I enjoy each time that I am able to cover them!

The Boilers are fairly healthy going in to this game against Liberty. Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said the two weeks the team had off, really helped Chantel Poston.

“It helped her. It’s just being fresh,” said Versyp. “If the swelling stays down then she can get out there and really help us. Right now she’s doing pretty well.”

I have to add that I really like the KFC Yum! Center. It is really cool and if you have not visited the facility, you should!

My story on Purdue women’s basketball runs tonight at 11 or whenever the cast goes on. It could be pushed back due to NCAA basketball. I really had a lot of fun today and I am excited to cover Purdue’s game against Liberty tomorrow!

Follow me on twitter: @sportsguycaleb

Caleb Martin

 

 


Two days away from Purdue/Liberty game

March 22nd, 2013 at 10:00 pm by under Sports 18

I have arrived safely in Louisville, Kentucky! It’s nice that the Boilers are playing so close to home! It saved me from driving too far.

I hope you checked out my story on Purdue freshman April Wilson and her return home. She is very excited to be playing in front of her family and friends. Hopefully she helps pack out a crowd for Purdue!

On Saturday, I will be up bright and early. Purdue speaks at 10:50 am. I will be getting interviews with the team at that time. Then it will be time for me to get video of practices! I will be at three practices: Purdue, Liberty, and Louisville.

Once the practices and interviews are over with, I will be bringing you a story on Purdue at 11 on WLFI. Don’t miss it!

I have to give a prediction before Sunday! I say the Boilers get the win, 72-56. I really think Purdue will advance to the sweet 16 this year. I guess we will see if I am right!

I will continue to have blog entries all week, so make sure and keep checking back!


Hope & Hazell

March 8th, 2013 at 6:38 pm by under Sports 18

Friday, March 8, 2013,

This is the first time that I’ve blogged in a long time and also the first time that I’ve blogged since I interviewed former Purdue Head Football Coach Danny Hope in late February.

The amount of feedback that I received on the interview with Coach Hope was staggering. In a nutshell, I was glad that Coach Hope gave me the time for a nearly one hour interview. I’ve always liked Coach Hope and felt like we’ve had a solid relationship. However, I’ve also been critical of him on several occasions and he knows that. He did some good things at Purdue but there were enough setbacks—-mainly costly losses and poor attendance—-that cost Coach Hope his job. The interview, in my opinion, gave Coach Hope a chance to say some of the things that he was feeling and move on. He’ll coach again, whether it’s this upcoming season or the 2014 season. He’s too good of an offensive line coach to be on the unemployment line.

As far as the interview goes, I had several conversations with Coach Hope leading up to the interview. I wanted him to know that I had to ask tough questions but we also felt that a confrontational interview wouldn’t be productive for either one of us. A couple of local media scribes—writers that I respect and like—felt I should have asked follow-up questions . They are entitled to their opinion and I respect that. I just felt at the time the interview was taking place a follow-up question would turn the tone of the interview to be confrontational. I wanted it to stay interesting and informative, which I think it was.

With that being said, I think Purdue Athletics Director Morgan Burke had no choice but to make a coaching change. Attendance was awful last season and the majority of the fans’ patience with Hope had worn thin. I have always respected fans’ rights and opinions. They choose how they spend their hard-earned money. And one thing I know about Burke from being around him for 6 1/2 years: he’s smart and he cares dearly about Boilermaker sports. And I think he’s made a terrific hire in Darrell Hazell.

Coach Hazell did a live interview with Sports 18′s Ross Bolin at 5:45 THIS MORNING (Friday) prior to the Boilers’ final day of early conditioning drills. It’s very clear that Hazell is going to be a very accessible coach to the media and the community. And that’s a very good start to his Boilermakers head coaching tenure. As far as on the field in 2013, if Hazell navigates the Boilermakers to five wins in a brutally tough schedule he’ll continue to build on his strong first impression with Boilermaker Nation.

Blog to you soon,

Mike


Back From Dallas

January 4th, 2013 at 12:00 am by under Sports 18

Thursday, January 3,

Happy New Year and I’m back from Dallas after covering Purdue football in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Obviously, my prediction for the game was WAY off the mark. Oklahoma State scored more than the 48 points I predicted—-the Cowboys scored 58 and could have scored more—but the Boilermakers offense hurt themselves with five turnovers. Being on the sideline, the game felt over when the Cowboys took a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

To the Boiler players’ credit, they didn’t make excuses after the game. They credited the Cowboys and said that they (Purdue players) were terrible. Obviously, the Cowboys’ speed was just way, way too much for Oklahoma State to handle.

New Boiler coach Darrell Hazell was in attendance and I had a chance to say hi to him. But he was not made available to myself or any of the other area media that traveled to cover the game. He did a brief interview with Purdue Sports Properties’ radio network and with ESPNU, which televised the game. Hazell will coach Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Sunday then report to work for the Boilermakers. Obviously, I didn’t get the chance to ask him what he thought of the bowl game. Just speculating, Hazell knows he’s got a significant amount of work to do after watching the Cowboys dismantle the Boilermakers.

We’re back with the Friday Night Frenzy starting tomorrow, January 4. Glad to be trekking out to high school hoops matchups tomorrow night. Again, Happy New Year!

Blog to you soon,

Mike


Deep In The Heart Of Texas

December 31st, 2012 at 11:27 am by under Sports 18

December 31, 2012,

In about 24 hours Purdue football will take on Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the Cotton Bowl, a game in which the Boilermakers are heavy underdogs.

My biggest impression since arriving in Dallas is how relaxed the Boilermakers are. Watching their one-hour practice yesterday, their attitude is fun-loving but, at the same time, you can tell this bowl game means a lot to them. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting off-camera with a number of Boiler players, especially quarterback Robert Marve. You can just tell how much he’s enjoying his final days of college football player. We were at a non-football event hosted by the Heart of Dallas Bowl last night, a place called Top Golf, in which the Boilermaker coaches and players tried their best at hitting golf balls at a spectacular driving range facility. It  was a fun and humbling experience for a lot of the Boilers, and I had a chance to talk with Marve about subjects other than football. I really like the guy. And, quite frankly, I really like a lot of the Purdue football players.

Which brings me to interim head coach Patrick Higgins. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with him. I think he has handled what could be a very difficult situation with class. And he’s been a lot of fun to conduct interviews with. I think he’s also a darn good football coach. I’ll be real curious where he coaches next season because he definitely won’t be unemployed.

As far as the game, I think the Boilermakers will play well. Do I think they’ll play well enough to win? Just a prediction, I think the Cowboys squeak out a 48-42 victory over the Boilermakers.

More to come tomorrow night…..

Happy New Year,

Mike

 


Good First Impression

December 6th, 2012 at 12:02 am by under Sports 18

Wednesday, December 5,

I came away impressed with newly-hired Purdue head football coach Darrell Hazell after his introductory press conference Wednesday night.

Going into the press conference, I was impressed with the turnaround that he had orchestrated at Kent State, leading the Golden Flashes to their first bowl game in 40 years. I thought he answered every question thoughtfully and with good insight.

How will this translate on to the field? Good question. I have a hunch Hazell is going to do well at Purdue. He’s not afraid of challenges and he knows there’s some work to do at Purdue to get the fan base re-energized. But I think Hazell knows that and he’ll work hardest to get that turned around—-by getting more wins on the football field.

After one day of being the Boilermakers new gridiron leader, I think Darrell Hazell is off to a good start.

Blog to you soon,

Mike