Awesome effort by Astra, basketball, baseball, football, women's tennis, men's and women's golf and men's tennis

Astra Sharma fell just a little short at the Australian Open, falling to Greece's Maria Sikkari, 1-6,4-6, in the second round. Still an awesome showing by Astra getting through 3 rounds of qualifying and defeating 3 talented Russian players and winning her first match over Priscilla Hon of Australia in 3 sets. The 23 year old was in her first major and there are a lot of tournaments left which she can do well in and then qualify for the second Slam of the year, the French Open, in May. Awesome stuff from AS. Will keep you posted on her progress. I will talk to Geoff McDonald soon on Astra and his 2019 team, which looks very promising.

Also, basketball in action tonight facing South Carolina, which is 3-0 in SEC play. We’re now 0-3 and 9-7. We need to turn it around starting tonght. 6 PM CT on the SEC Network. We lost a lot when Darius Garland went down with a torn meniscus, losing Darius for the year. But we've got good talent that is still learning to play together and get the chemistry right. Tonight would be a great start to turning this season around. Know Bryce is doing everything possible to get this team to start playing good basketball. He's got 2 signees and a commit for the 2019 class. We have 2, 4 star signees, 6'8" power forward Dylan Disu of Pflugerville, Texas and 6'5" shooting guard Austin Crowley of Wichita, Kansas. Both are having excellent senior seasons. We got a commit from high 3 star Scotty Pippen, THE Scottie Pippen's son. Scotty Jr is a 6'0 point guard and a high 3 star, who could become a 4 star before the season is over. He's a terrific player. So a lot to be optimistic about with most all of our players returning next season. Just need to get it crankin this year. I know with Saben, Simi, Joe Toye, Maxwell Evans, Aaron Nesmith, etc we have the talent to turn it around. Big game tonight. Will have a report tomorrow. Need to get it done at home tonight. Hope we have a big crowd because this team CAN turn it around.

VU baseball looks electric. We are ranked No.1 in the country in the D-1 Baseball preseason poll. We are No.2 by Collegiate Baseball and No.3 by Perfect Game. I don't know about you, but I believe the D1 poll is the most accurate assessment of this team. With Austin Martin, Stephen Scott, Ethan Paul, JJ Bleday, Pat DeMarco, Philip Clarke and many other bats and gloves to go along with a massive amount of arms, there is a lot to be excited about with this baseball team. Interviewing Corbs next Monday. Will have that interview next Tuesday on the blog.

Football signed 19 players in the 2019 class and Coach Mason is looking for more. We got size and athleticism in this class. Very good class to back up an outstanding 2018 class. We also got graduate transfer quarterback Riley Neal from Bowling Green who put up some excellent numbers last season. He'll join the Deuce, Deuce Wallace, who is back, along with talented redshirt freshman Allan Walters and talented incoming freshman Jamil Muhammad in the quarterback competition this spring. We have good options to replace Kyle, who should be drafted in the April NFL draft and should have a very good carer in the National Football League along with Joejuan Williams who declared for the draft after his junior sesaon. We have some other seniors like Jordan Griffin, Dare Odeyinbo, Justin Skule, Bruno Reagan and Josh Smith, who can make it to the next level. So it'll be exciting to watch our guys’ progress.

I like the pieces we have returning for 2019. Ke'Shawn Vaughn is returning. The Mamba is primed for a huge season next year. Jared Pinkney is coming back at tight end, which is huge news. So is Kalija Lipscomb.  Our offense could be electric. Coach Mason will be hiring a new offensive coordinator as Coach Andy Ludwig took the offensive coordinator job at Utah. It’s a great opportunity to open the offense up with so many tremendous athletes. We’ve got the pieces in place to have a good defense on all 3 levels. A lot of good players in the secondary, d line will be stronger. Need to fill Jordan Griffin’s and Josh Smith’s positions at linebacker, but we’ve got talent led by 2018 high 4 star Alston Orji. So 2019 looks riveting for the team. The SEC is not getting any easier, but we’re getting better. Open with Georgia at home, which is tough, but we’ve got a shot with a lot of hard work in the weight room with Coach James Dobson and then in spring and fall drills. Like the team we have returning.

Will have the rundown on our 2019 class coming up in the next week or so. Sorry I’m late getting this out. Been kind of jammed up during the bowl season and NFL playoffs, along with some other stuff. Will get it out soon with complete breakdown of each player.

Also, baseball interview coming up with Corbs, football signee breakdown, interview with Geoff McDonald on his 2019 women’s tennis team, Men’s Golf preview with the great Scott Limbaugh, and Women’s Golf looks very exciting. Will check in on that. Men’s tennis, which looks promising as well, I’ll check in on them. So a lot to discuss.

‘Great effort by Astra, will keep you posted on her progress as she matriculates towards the season’s next slam, the French. Basketball in a key game tonight.

Predictions for the Australian Open

The fortnight in Melbourne Australia for playing of the 107th Australian Open begins tomorrow night at 6 PM CT on ESPN2. ESPN2 will provide coverage for the Open up through the women’s semifinals on Wednesday, January 23rd @ 9 PM CT.

ESPN will cover the men’s first semifinal on Thursday, Jan. 24th at 2:30 AM CT, and the second semifinal on Friday, 1-25 at 2:30 AM CT. ESPN will also carry the women’s final on Saturday, January, 26th at 2:30 AM CT and then will broadcast the men’s final Sunday, 1-27, at 2:30 AM CT.

So who’ll win in Melbourne where temperatures on Monday and Tuesday will be 99 and 93 on Wednesday before cooling off for the rest of the fortnight, at least that is what is predicted. So early rounds will be a battle of endurance, will and survival for the men and women on the hard courts.

I like the way Naomi Osaka defeated Serena in that controversial U.S. Open final last September. She was booed loudly in a classless manner by the New York City fans after her victory over Serena who had exploded during the match at an official who had accused her of looking at her coaching box for coaching. Players have been warned repeatedly about this and Serena was looking at her box, so the call was made. The fans took Serena’s side though she acting very classless and out of control, not becoming of a female tennis player. It was typical Serena bad behavior yet Osaka controlled the emotions and was iron. I really like this 21 year old from Japan to excel on tour this year and in the future. She plays like a younger Serena and could dominate in years to come. But I do like Serena to emerge in the top half of the women’s draw, however I’m picking her to fall in the final to Angelique Kerber of Germany.

Kerber over Serena 7-5, 4-6, 6-3

Sleeper, Osaka

She’s got the strokes to be elite. She has felt a lot of pressure since winning the U.S. but I see her stepping up in Melbourne.

Like Kerber over Serena in Melbourne (Photo, WTA).

Like Kerber over Serena in Melbourne (Photo, WTA).


On the men’s side, it’s hard to pick against Novak Djokovic. I like Novak to play Roger in the finals on January 27th and hoist his 7th Australian Open title trophy and his 15th all time major. He’s creeping up on Rafa, who has 18, and Fed, who has 20. Fed is 37 years old, and Rafa and Djoker are 31.

Djoker over Federer, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3

Sleeper, Kei Nishikori

I like the 29 year old Japanese player to have a shot. He just won at Brisbane a couple of weeks ago, and is playing really excellent tennis.

Gotta take the Djoker for his 15th Slam title and 7th in Melbourne (Photo, Wikipedia).

Gotta take the Djoker for his 15th Slam title and 7th in Melbourne (Photo, Wikipedia).