You have questions about sport, the Journal Star has answers.
I grew up on iconic mailbag columns in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Baseball Hall of Fame sportswriter Hal Lebovitz every Sunday. Later, it was Plain Dealer who beat writer Tony Grossi’s weekly mailbag on the Browns.
We will therefore try to do the same. Send your questions about teams, players, buildings, games, rules, historical or current – anything that comes to mind in the Peoria area sports arena, from youth to pros – and I’ll do my best to answer them or find someone who can .
Hey Cleve, did one of Bradley’s newcomers impress more than expected? — Tony Seghetti @TSeghetti11
Hey Tony, Bradley’s trainer Brian Wardle is thrilled with the first flashes of new point guards Duke Deen and Pop Weathers. He says Deen shows a really big personality, is a leader and can score a lot. He loves Pop’s ability to get into the paint.
From the coach‘s perspective, these two guys have improved every week, and that’s key to the Braves’ cap. As these two go, so will the Braves this season, as they have the other pieces in place to contend in the Valley.
Go further:Bradley’s recruiting class is full. Here’s how the new players fit in
Hey Cleve, do you have an update on Bradley’s basketball schedule? Are they hoping for good quality matches? — SkeeterSoze @SkeeterSoze
Hey Cleve, is there any chance BU and Illinois will play in the near future? I would love to see a three game series at the United Center. — William Thompson
Hey Skeeter and William, when I spoke to Brian Wardle last week he said he had one, maybe two slots left on the 2022-23 schedule and was about to fill it to end. He wants his team to be tested in non-conference play. They have an elite opponent via the Cancun Challenge at the end of November, where they will open against Auburn (28-6, AP No. 8 last season).
Auburn picked up 6-foot-10 double-double machine Johni Broome from Morehead State through the NCAA transfer portal.
To Cancun:Bradley’s men’s basketball will face a big name opponent this Thanksgiving
The Braves could also face Big Ten foe Northwestern in a second-round game there as well, and the Wildcats won 6-foot-9 UTEP forward Tydus Verhoeven through the NCAA transfer portal.
A BU-Illini trilogy would be exciting, of course, especially if one of those games took place at Carver Arena. But even when the MVC adjusted its conference schedule last season, playing a game on Dec. 1 so space could be opened up later in December for potential games with power schools, nothing helped.
Hey Cleve, what do you think it would take for the Rivermen to draw a sold-out crowd to Carver Arena? I think the biggest problem with the current team is that the marketing around them could be way bigger than it is right now. I feel like the general public doesn’t know how good the current team has been over the last 3-5 years. The team should definitely bring more fans to Carver than they currently do. —Quinton Green
Hey Quinton, the Rivermen set a franchise record for the largest single-game crowd on March 6, 2010, when they beat Lake Erie in an American Hockey League game, 3-1, before 10,129 standing room only at Carver Arena.
Parent club St. Louis Blues struck a deal with the Civic Center to run a free food promotion for that game — hot dogs, hostess cupcakes and sodas were free for everyone — and Peoria took storm the doors.
Go further:Why The Civic Center’s Long-Term Relationship With Rivermen Remains In Limbo
The Rivermen played 15 games in their 40 seasons that topped 9,000 attendances, some for marketing reasons, some for hockey. This sold-out club includes Game 7 of the Turner Cup Championship Series against Muskegon in 1984-85, the team’s homecoming on a professional hockey-record 18-game winning streak in 1990-91 and appearances by cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys and the Russian. The Red Army team.
Today? It would take something like a big local business buying the top bowl with $5 tickets and handing them out, in combination with some type of free food giveaway or a Ben Zobrist caliber personality making an appearance.
But the Civic Center would have to be a willing partner, which would mean waiving its box office fees that make tickets so expensive, and also allowing a bulk food giveaway. That, and the aging arena itself sometimes isn’t a good experience for patrons of all types of events.
I think 5,000 to a Rivermen game will make your ears bleed. Hockey fans play 60 minutes.
Hey Cleve, who is the best @peoriachiefs player you’ve seen this season?— Nathan Baliva @nbaliva
Hey Nate, despite being at or near the bottom of the Midwest League standings in 2022, the Chiefs have had several guys you’d like to watch.
Center fielder Mike Antico had 37 interceptions in 71 games for the Chiefs in the first half of the season before heading to Double-A Springfield, where he had 10 more interceptions in his first 10 games.
List, tickets, promotions:Everything you need for the 2022 Peoria Chiefs baseball season
The Cardinals’ No. 1 pick, Mike McGreevy, was as advertised in eight starts, striking out 41 in 45 innings, with a 2.58 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Gordon Graceffo was right with him in his corresponding eight starts, with a .99 ERA, .68 WHIP and 56 strikeouts in 45 innings. Both guys headed to Double-A Springfield, where they’re combined 10-3 and throwing well.
Shortstop Masyn Winn hit .349 and stole 15 bases in 33 games before his rise to Double-A Springfield.
The question now is whether the MLB Draft, which runs Sunday through Tuesday, will bring help to Peoria through parent club Cardinals.
Hey Cleve, what happened to the Journal Star (high school sports) awards show this year? Not sure if it was a yearly thing or something that happened during COVID. It looks like a few key awards were missed this year. I thought the newspaper recognized Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Athlete of the Year? Thanks. — Angie Pasha
Hey Angie, the Peoria Journal Star hosted the Central Illinois Sports Awards for five years, from 2017-2021, celebrating our Players of the Year, teams from all regions, and top teams, athletes, and coaches.
Each sport:Here are the Journal Star’s 19 picks for High School Player of the Year for 2021-22
The first three year-end prep extravaganzas were held in person at the Peoria Civic Center and the last two virtually. This latest virtual format no doubt dampened the show’s momentum, and it did not return for 2022.
With the end of the show, the Journal Star ended additional high school awards such as Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Male and Female Athlete of the Year.
We miss this wonderful event and appreciate the support it has received. There is always the possibility that we could add these athletes and coaches to our end of season honors lists.
Hey Cleve, what chance does Peoria FC and the football world in general have of succeeding in the Peoria market? — Billy Martin
Hey Billy, Peoria Football Club United has been merging the area’s two long-standing football families, FC Peoria and Peoria Soccer Club, for the past six years.
Meet ‘The 309’:A new fan club finds its calling in supporting the Peoria City football team
PFCU has over 600 travel team families and a complex of 20 natural grass pitches on hand.
Now Peoria City comes onto the scene as an excellent test strip for your very question.
It should be interesting to see how this pre-pro development league team – which has just completed its first season – fits into the sports scene in the region.
It seems logical that Peoria City and Peoria FC United have a connection, as supporting each other will be mutually beneficial.
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star’s sports columnist and covers men’s basketball for Bradley, the Rivermen and the Chiefs. He writes the sports column Cleve In The Eve for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.