EXCLUSIVE BLOG: How to celebrate a Mosconi Cup victory by 2013 Team Europe winner Darren Appleton


When Europe strolled to an imperious 11-2 victory against fierce rivals USA in the 2013 Mosconi Cup, history had been written.

Never before had a European side cruised to such a win in the history of the competition, yet Johan Ruijsink’s men had done it – and on American turf too.

The fact that it was Europe’s fourth title in a row – and in the 20th year of the tournament – meant one thing: the players needed to celebrate.

But just how did the European squad come to terms with such a win? And how did they decide to toast their victory?

2013 winner Darren Appleton exclusively tells www.vaishalibhardwaj.com what he did – and how he felt – in the days following the team’s momentous Mosconi Cup triumph.

Feb 07

The surgically repaired foot of TE Greg Olsen continues to be a concern.

There is room to wonder whether the Panthers can be a Super Bowl team without a healthy and productive Olsen. But their win over the Vikings was impressive, especially given the way Carolina churned out yards in the running game.

The Chiefs got back into the win column, but they had plenty of help from the Raiders. The competition should be far tougher Saturday night against the Chargers, who are the one team in the division actually playing well.

There’s no excuse for the feeble loss in Arizona at a time when the Titans should be making a stretch-drive push for the playoffs.

The Dolphins played well and earned their win Monday night over the Patriots. QB Jay Cutler was superb. RB Kenyan Drake was a workhorse. The Miami pass rush bothered Tom Brady and CB Xavien Howard intercepted him twice while shutting down Brandin Cooks.

The ruptured Achilles’ tendon suffered by CB Richard Sherman during Thursday night’s victory over the Cardinals represents a terrible loss for the Seahawks. But their complaints about the injury risks in Thursday night games may not be well founded. At least going into this season, the rate of injuries suffered by players was greater in Sunday games played on a six-day break than in Thursday games following a Sunday game, according to the NFLPA.

The absence of suspended RB Ezekiel Elliott was significant Sunday in Atlanta. But the injuries to LT Tyron Smith and LB Sean Lee may be even more significant. Lee probably will miss at least a couple games and it’s not clear if Smith will be able to return this week. The Cowboys desperately need him after struggling so badly to protect QB Dak Prescott during the loss to the Falcons.

The loss to the Jets followed by Sunday’s embarrassingly lopsided defeat at home to the Saints has all but knocked the Bills out of the division race and raised questions about their viability as a contender for even a wild-card spot. They need to regroup quickly, settle down and realize they remain very much in the chase for what would be their first postseason berth since the 1999 season.jaguars_084

Feb 05

The Vikings started well, with Case Keenum completing his first three passes for 48 yards and hitting tight end Kyle Rudolph on a 25-yard touchdown play.

The Minnesota Vikings picked up where they left off last week, scoring on their first drive in the NFC championship game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. But the Eagles struck right back and they just kept on striking.

Behind the 352 passing yards of Nick Foles, the Eagles rolled into a Super Bowl LII matchup with the New England Patriots, with a 38-7 victory.

But then a pass intended for Adam Thielen was intercepted by Patrick Robinson and returned 50 yards for a touchdown and the Vikings were finished.

I managed to land him in two leagues from the waiver wire. Even owners who have a solid tight end should consider grabbing Olsen to have as another flex option. While the Panthers do have some tough matchups remaining, games against the Jets and Packers and Buccaneers certainly have appeal. And truth is, even in the tough matchups, Olsen likely warrants being in the lineup as he’s QB Cam Newton’s top target when healthy.

Mitchell is also very effective at driving layups (202 of his 703 shots on the season, 56.4 eFG%), on the catch-and-shoot (73 shots, 71.9 eFG%) and working over screens (66 shots, 60.6 eFG%). Meanwhile, he is not nearly as effective off the dribble, shooting only 36.6 eFG% on 123 pull-up jumpers and 39.7 eFG% on 34 catch-and-shoot relocating situations, where he has to dribble before putting up the shot.

This is a massive improvement for the rookie Mitchell over what he was doing just two years ago as a high school player, when he was primarily just a power dunker as illustrated below by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, but it’s still a distinct step back in primary perimeter scoring ability compared with Hayward.

“I’m doing this because I love racing, and I love competing,” Alonso said. “If those races and that competition happens in iconic places and big names in motorsport like Daytona Speedway, it’s even more attractive.jaguars_044

Feb 02

The rule changes have gone as well as could have been expected.

“There was a scenario that transpired that was ruled incomplete but it was also scenario that was probably more critical and more time specific that was being discussed,” Tomlin said. “It was being discussed by us. It was presented to us by the officials during the review process that if he ruled completed catch down in bounds that was probably the most significant element of the discussion as opposed to last play.

“While we were in review, that was being discussed because if his knee was down in the field of play, it would be a 10 second run off, they’d spot the ball, run the clock and we’d be faced with a running clock in that circumstance. This was probably the most significant element of the discussion when they were in review and that was presented to us by one of the officials. …

“We saw a lot of interest in … allowing the players a little more freedom to be able to express their joy, their individuality and, frankly, celebrate the game,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time.

The Minnesota Vikings sat in a circle and passed around imaginary plates of food during a Thanksgiving Day game. Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman “shot” the ball toward guard Andy Levitre, who formed a basketball hoop with his arms. Running back Alex Collins of the Baltimore Ravens gave an ode to his unusual hobby, Irish step dancing. After turnovers, Washington Redskins defensive backs pat each other down, like cops searching suspects.

The case for: Is there one? Perhaps not. But let’s give it a try. McAdoo led the Giants to the playoffs last season. So what’s happening this season cannot be entirely his fault. NFL players are supposed to be professionals, and they’re supposed to act in a professional manner. Returning from the bye week on time and playing hard should be givens. The Giants know as well as anyone that making frequent coaching changes is not a path to NFL success. They stuck with McAdoo’s predecessor, Tom Coughlin, through some tough times, and he delivered two Super Bowl triumphs. Do Mara and Tisch really want to start over?

The case against: It’s time for the Giants to cut their losses. It was the defense overseen by coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, not McAdoo’s offense, that took the team to the playoffs last season. The coach is in charge and is ultimately responsible for what happens on the field. If players lack discipline and don’t appear to be fully invested, that reflects on the coach.jaguars_029

Jan 31

Barry Church’s hit on Rob Gronkowski was ‘his job,’ Richard Sherman says

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was knocked out of Sunday’s AFC championship game after a helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Jaguars safety Barry Church. The play resulted in a 15-yard penalty against Jacksonville. This is the exact type of dangerous blow the NFL wants to remove from the sport.

It was a great win, Graves said. That was a well-played game, a great crowd and a great atmosphere for women’s basketball.

Kat Tudor scored 17 points and Marie Gulich 16 for Oregon State after they had combined for 62 points in the Beavers’ 85-79 overtime win Friday.

Sabally had 13 points in the first half after scoring just three in the first game. She was 9 of 15 from the field and 3 of 7 from the arc to go with five assists.

She was looking to be a lot more aggressive off the dribble and around the basket, and that was great to see, Graves said. When she does that with the other kids we’ve got, it gives us a whole new dimension.

The Ducks asserted themselves early with defense, holding OSU to 25 percent shooting (6 of 24) in the first half. The Beavers had no points in the paint by the break, and the nation’s best 3-point shooting team was only 1 of 7 as Oregon built a 40-18 lead.

But as soon her game ended, the midfielder learned about Philadelphia’s 38-7 win over Minnesota on the other side of the country. She reacted accordingly.

Rockets: It was the second time in five games that Paul had scored 30 points or more. … Ryan Anderson had 13 rebounds. … Paul also had seven assists and three steals.

Durant on the improvement of the Rockets this season: I think the difference between them this year and last year — obviously everybody is going to say CP (Paul) — but they’re just playing harder. They’re playing harder on the defensive side of the ball.jaguars_001-223x223

Jan 28

Vikings fans warned to be careful around Eagles fans in Philadelphia

Vikings fans headed to Philadelphia for Sunday’s NFC championship game, be forewarned: Eagles fans are a hard-core bunch.

Still, people can change. It’s been years since Philly fans were blasted for booing Michael Irvin as he lay motionless on the field after a hard hit (they actually were booing Deion Sanders, by the way). It’s been years since an enthusiastic fan fired off a flare gun in the stands.

The Eagles even released a humorous video during the holiday season, essentially apologizing to Santa for that infamous 1968 snowball incident at old Franklin Field.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Public Radio is preparing for Sunday’s big game by paying tribute to some Philadelphia musical artists such as Hall & Oates and The Roots, mixed among some of Twin Cities’ best such as Prince. This is definitely going to be a clash of cultures.

The wild-card round of the NFL playoff schedule featured six teams that didn’t make the postseason last year only the Chiefs and Falcons returned as contenders. The Titans, Rams, Bills, Jaguars, Panthers and Saints were the relative newcomers hoping to advance to Round 2. The wild-card results sent Kansas City, Los Angeles, Buffalo and Carolina back home.

The Patriots, Steelers, Eagles and Vikings clinched first-round byes for the playoffs and hosted games in the divisional round. The Patriots, Eagles and Vikings won at home in order to advance and host conference title games, sending the Titans, Falcons and Saints packing. The Steelers, however, lost to the Jaguars at home in the divisional round.sabres_1395

Jan 26

Julie Johnston Ertz gets news of Eagles’ Super Bowl berth, reacts accordingly

U.S. Soccer star Julie Johnston Ertz was not able to watch her husband, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, play in Sunday’s NFC championship game. She had her own game, the U.S. Women’s National Team’s season-opener against Denmark in San Diego, which ended up being a 5-1 victory for the Americans.

Hawks: The team’s best 3-point veteran shooters, F Ersan Ilyasova and G Marco Belinelli, were a combined 0 for 12 beyond the arc. Atlanta finished 11 for 48. … The Hawks have dropped three straight in the Bulls series after winning seven in a row.

Chicago did as it pleased in the first half, dishing out 18 assists on 21 field goals to begin the third quarter with a 55-38 lead. They scored the game’s first 14 points in the paint on five dunks, and Atlanta had no one capable inside to defend Lopez, who had 16 before intermission on 8 for 9 shooting.

Portis finished with 14 points and Justin Holiday had 13 for the Bulls.

We knew it was going to be an important game for us after a tough loss against Golden State, Nikola Mirotic said. I think that game gave us confidence that we can beat any team in the league.

Well, allow Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman to explain why Church’s decision in real time isn’t so easy.

The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronks knee. If he would have just hit him low most ppl would calm him dirty. So there is nothing he can do to make everyone happy and do his job. Unless you think he should let him catch

Sherman also seemed to take umbrage with a pass interference call on the same drive, a penalty that put the Patriots in the red zone and led to a touchdown just before halftime.patriots_115_a82f5d9946a8dcd7-180x180