Blind tennis isn't as hard as it sounds. It's much harder – Irish Times

Blind tennis is not as hard as it sounds. It is much harder. I can say this with absolute confidence having played the game briefly recently and been absolutely useless.

Coaches working with the Irish Blind Tennis team, taking part in the sport’s World Championships in the leafy south Co Dublin suburb of Shankill later this week, took me through my paces and despite their endless patience and the baby shots they hit in my direction, I failed to return a single ball.

Not one.

To give me a sense of what it is like to play Blind or Vision Impaired Tennis they had fitted me with a blindfold and handed me a racket and told to stand on specially elevated tennis tramlines.

Then coach Derek Healy stood across the net from me and shouted “ready”. Then he shouted “play”. And then he hit the ball towards me. The idea was I would listen to the tinkle of the bell in the foam ball as it bounced toward me and then quickly work out where it would bounce next before running to that spot to return it.

Time and time and time again I stood rooted to the spot swinging wildly at thin air.

Being deprived of my sight left me afraid to move left or right in case I fell or got tangled up in the net. So instead of racing to the ball I waited for the ball to come to me. Even when it did, I missed it every time.

I managed to serve a couple of the specially adapted tennis balls over the regulation size net during the training session but despite a smattering of applause from the far-too-kind people watching at the side of the court, I’m pretty sure none of the balls were in. I can’t say for certain because I couldn’t see a blessed thing.

It was beyond disconcerting and after 10 minutes or so my respect for the athletes who play the game for real on the courts beside me soared. Rallies of six shots are not unheard of at the highest level and the speed and energy involved is remarkable.

The best of the best will be on display later this week as up to 60 players from 13 countries will descend on Dublin where the World Championships is being held for the first time. Competitors from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Pakistan, Poland, Great Britain and Ireland will take part.

The ones to watch are the Japanese. That is where blind tennis was born in the 1980s and it took more than 30 years to make it to Dublin. It was introduced here in 2016 by Tennis Ireland and Vision Sports Ireland.

Irish team member Holly Bryan from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

The game is played on a realigned tennis court with special tennis balls equipped with bells which tinkle when the ball bounces. Raised tactile tram lines are used as navigational markers to help athletes recognise their position on the court.

Athletes are classified using Paralympic sight classifications: B1, B2 and B3. B1 players have no vision or no functional vision. B2and B3 players have a small amount of useful sight within a reduced field of vision.

The tournament organiser is the president of Leinster Tennis, Liam O’Donohoe, the man who brought the game to Ireland. “I was looking at other organisations creating opportunities for people with special needs and autism and things like that when I discovered that there was something called blind tennis. None of us knew it existed,” he says.

My initial reaction to the idea was, ‘Who is this muppet and what drugs is he taking?’

People who are blind or vision impaired can be “quite isolated”, he continues. “And it can be quite difficult to compete in any sport. What this game does is brings people into a community, they become part of a club and that is very empowering. And of course there’s the fitness element. A lot of the guys on the courts now would’ve had quite sedentary lifestyles. There is also the pride of being on Irish team competing at the top level.”

Derek Healy of Shankill Tennis Club is coaching the internationals. “The challenges are substantial,” he says with some understatement. “You don’t get see the ball and you have to recognise the bounce, and tracking becomes more difficult. How you move the ball becomes much more difficult. It is a very challenging sport.”

He is pretty handy on the court when playing with full vision but admits that he “wouldn’t be great” when he plays with a blindfold. He is a lot better than me. “I’m never going see the ball but because I’m a coach and a player I have a good sense of tracking and very good ball awareness so that gives me a huge advantage.”

He says the players he has been coaching for the last two years have benefited from the workouts but also because they “feel like they are part of something great and it’s fantastic for their self-esteem. They’re competing and they’re making friends.”

There are three levels from B1 to B3. The B1 players are fully blind while the B3 players have around 10 per cent vision. “For the B1s it is really built around the serve and the return because there is so little sight that the players who gets to serve generally wins the point. With B3 it is more about the rallies and they can can last between four and six shots.

Roisin Dermody is ranked number five in the world in the B1 category and has been playing for less than two years. When she first heard about blind tennis from Liam O’Donohoe, her “initial reaction was who is this muppet and what drugs is he taking? Blind people playing tennis? Are you having a giraffe?”

But she was convinced to give to give it a go. “I hit a ball with a racket for the first time in my life and I was going ‘Oh my God.’ It was just the most amazing sensation and I was sort of hooked after that.”

She reached the quarter finals in last year’s world championships in Spain and is hoping to match that in front of a home crowd. “Representing Ireland is an amazing feeling,” she says.

Helena Mollaghan has been playing since last September and like Roisin she thought the notion was “crazy” but says it has given her “this amazing sense of freedom”. She says that someone who is vision impaired or blind is “so restricted” in their movements that simply being able to able to move left or right and compete on a tennis court is “just amazing”.

Oregon is trying to save high school football – My Columbia Basin

PENDLETON, Oregon – This fall, the Pendleton Buckaroos will join a new football league. PHS Athletic Director Troy Jerome says declining numbers by the hundreds each year have led the Oregon School Activities Association to form a special committee to try to save the sport in the state.

That committee has created special divisions at each classification. There are only three divisions in the 5A ranks.

“For us here in Pendleton, we’ve been put into Special District 1, which is 14 schools from the Portland area and up through Hood River and to Pendleton,” he said. “There will be six teams that will represent Special District 1 in the playoffs. There’s 37 teams in the 5A for football and we’re going to go straight to the 16-team bracket. There won’t be any play-ins like we’ve had in the past.”

The Buckaroos will play Benson, LaSalle, Milwaukie, Parkrose, Putnam and Hood River in the eastern division of Special District 1. In all other sports they will participate in the 5A InterMountain Conference against Crook County, Redmond, Ridgeview of Redmond, Hood River, and The Dalles.

The first through third place in each division will have a spot in the playoffs. Then, starting with week nine, the teams will play their counterparts in the rankings from the west division. Jerome says the declining number of players and concerns about injuries fueled the change.

“We are down hundreds of football players this year, and each year it’s declining,” he said. “With all of the coaches’ safety and concussion protocols and concussion testing that everybody’s taking, we’re getting that under control so that we feel pretty confident that we’re educating our people about concussions and coming back to play when they’re ready.”

The new divisions also impact other schools in the area. McLoughlin High School in Milton-Freewater will join Baker, La Grande, Ontario, and The Dalles (who are playing down) in Special District 6 of the 4A division.

In 3A, Irrigon, Umatilla, Nyssa, Vale, and Burns will be in Special District 3.

The 2A division sees Heppner, Riverside of Boardman, Stanfield, Weston-McEwen, and Grant-Union in Special District 6.

There are two 1A divisions, one for eight-man football and the other for six-man football. Special District 3 (eight-man teams) is comprised of Pilot Rock (who is playing down), Ione, Arlington, Cove, Dufur, Sherman, Adrian, Crane, Elgin, Enterprise (who is playing down), Imbler, Pine Eagle, Powder Valley, Union (who is playing down), and Wallowa.

Echo is the only team from this immediate area playing 1A six-man football. They will be in Special District 2 with Burnt River, Dayville, Harper, Huntington, Joseph, Monument, Prairie City, South Wasco, and Spray/Mitchell/Wheeler.

Boys' volleyball much more than just the numbers – Valley Roadrunner

VC volleyball players (from the left) Alec Quinn, Sid Weddington, Chris Murdock, and Ryan Sanders share an upbeat moment with their youthful coach Rocky Crook.

Sometimes in the realm of sports, one must dig deeper than just a cursory look at a record. Numbers can be well and good and very often they help paint a reasonably accurate picture of what is taking place with a particular team.

But stats such as wins and losses can never convey the whole story. There are always underlying factors and issues that provide a broader and more insightful context into what exactly is going on.

And such is the case with the Valley Center High boys’ volleyball team. At first blush, the Jaguars’ 6-19 ledger (1-6 in Valley League) speaks to a season that has been a trial. Losing streaks of four, four, three and five matches have tested the resolve of this collection of young men. To the casual and unknowing observer, it would be easy to arrive at the conclusion that these Jags might be in over their heads.

But when you drill down below the surface, a different viewpoint emerges. And instead of dismissing these Jags, you begin to develop a genuine admiration for them. In so many ways, they are confronting a stacked deck but nonetheless, they’ve proven their worth by continuing to soldier on and compete. In truth, they have shown themselves to be winners in areas that matter much more than numbers can ever reveal.

In some regards whenever the Jags enter a match, they do so at a distinct disadvantage. To begin with, VC fields only an eight-man roster instead of the accustomed number of 10 to 12. Because of this shortage in manpower, the Jags are more vulnerable to fatigue and attrition.

In addition, because VC doesn’t possess any significant across-the-board height, taller foes can exploit that fact to their advantage.

Finally, some of the Jaguar players are also simultaneously participating in other spring sports. Thus, their availability for practice where team chemistry is forged and reinforced is sometimes limited.

So when all these challenging factors are taken into consideration, is it any wonder that the Jags seem to be fighting an uphill battle?

And yet their youthful first-year coach Raquel (Rocky) Crook is quite enamored of her charges and relishes the chance to mentor them. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys,” she says with a smile. “They’re fun to be around, they’re ready to work and they’re very coachable.”

Moreover, if the Jags can rise up in key remaining matches versus Mission Vista and San Dieguito, a postseason berth still might be within their reach. “Our team is very determined to make it to CIF (playoffs),” states Crook. “And if we play well in these last two games, I truly believe we can win them and maybe get in.” 

And despite its current record, there’s still plenty to like about this senior dominated team that’s augmented by a trio of juniors. So let’s take a closer look at the players that make up VC’s 2018 volleyball squad.

There’s no question that when it comes to providing leadership and setting the tone, outside hitter and captain Joe Schaner is the one tasked with those responsibilities. A high-energy attacker and an extremely versatile performer, Schaner is the team leader in kills (77).

Sid Weddington is a junior who has really stepped up his game as the Jags other threat on the outside. Smart and savvy, Weddington knows how and where to put the ball down (68 kills.)

Right-side hitter Alec Quinn is called by coach Crook a “secret weapon.” Though relatively new to the game, he has proven to be a quick learner with a genuine hunger for the game. Ending rallies with kill shots (72) has become his forte.

Senior Luis Bautista is an accomplished setter who functions as the team’s quarterback. Instinctive as well as alert, he has the knack for finding and feeding the team’s hot hitters.

Hard-working Chris Murdock has demonstrated such a versatility and adaptability all over the court that’s he’s become a real asset in various roles.

Middle hitter Joe Gama is said to be “silent but deadly” by his coach. Endowed with good height at 6-foot-3, this senior can sneak up and put the ball in the hole. Gama is also considered to be the team’s tap master.

Manning a spot as a libero/defensive specialist, Bailey Klingler has taken over the back row with his hustle and aggressiveness. Never hesitant to sacrifice his body in pursuit of a ball, Klingler can save points that others simply can’t.

Senior Sam Rizo is another libero who’s capable of shining elsewhere. Regardless of where he may be positioned, Rizzo will adapt and perform.  Adept at ball control, Rizzo also owns a boffo serve as reflected by his standing as the team’s pacesetter in aces (16.)

One other player worthy of mention is Ryan Sanders, who contributed earlier but is currently unavailable. A good team player from the middle, Sanders can both set or block with equal effectiveness.

Though coach Crook admits that there have been times during the season that the Jags have experienced some discouragement, it’s never become a constant that’s weighed them down. Invariably, the Jags have maintained their commitment to learning, getting better and growing as a team. “This is very much a mental game and so I always try to stay positive,” shares Crook, “and I think the players have responded to that kind of approach.”

Hopefully, after being made aware of both their tribulations and resolve, people will have a much different perspective on Crook’s team. The Jags’ record is, in many ways, hardly a defining reflection of who they really are.

Caruana, Shankland Lead US Championship –

GM Sam Shankland looked at his remaining docket at the 2018 U.S. Championships yesterday and saw one glaring outlier: Black against GM Hikaru Nakamura in round eight. Turns out, it wasn’t so bad.

Despite ceding the first move to the four-time champion in four straight championships, Shankland (5.5/8) passed his biggest hurdle today. It would be wrong to say he drew with ease; instead Nakamura drew with a struggle.

Nakamura Shankland U.S. Championship  2018

“See, I was trying to smack your king!”  | Photo: Mike Klein/

In their opposite-sides castling game, Nakamura’s kingside pressure never got going. Instead, his knights hustled back to stand vigil over his own king. That un-Naka-like strategy proved to be unassailable despite Shankland’s best attempts.

GM Fabiano Caruana (5.5/8) kept pace by also drawing with Black. He didn’t have nearly as wild of an adventure against GM Wesley So (5.0/8). Another Petroff came, and even though Caruana was “held” to a half-point, he never faced any danger.

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, the two with the most points also copied each other, except with wins, not draws. IM Nazi Paikidze (6.0/8) dominated after knowing the opening better, but even playing her most convincing game wasn’t enough when trying to catch the invincibility of youth.


IM Nazi Paikidze was tied for the lead for about an hour today. Nothing has stopped Annie Wang, but tomorrow Paikidze can do it herself.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

Paikidze caught up into a tie with WIM Annie Wang (7.0/8) only momentarily; the 15-year-old surprise-leader turned around a losing position to open the gap back to one point. Wang and Paikidze will play tomorrow.

Back in the U.S. Championship, Nakamura played another one of his amorphous hypermodern openings, which is about as much as you can prepare for him when he’s playing lower-rated players. He earned the only center pawns on the board, but they proved to not be terribly useful as his upstart opponent came after him on the a- and b-files.

When kings are on opposite flanks, usually the player earning the first open file is home free. Just at the critical moment, Shankland switched gears with 24…f5, trying to break down the center for his bishop to come out and play. Nakamura’s pieces suddenly roared to life, and created just enough of a tickle to unnerve the leader.


GM Sam Shankland, trying to find a way through to the white king.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

“He’s a very resourceful defender,” Shankland said. “I think I was doing better but I don’t know if I ever had a chance to put him away.”

Analysis by GM Robert Hess.

In 2011, Shankland promoted out of group play to qualify for the four-player knockout finish, eventually losing to GM Gata Kamsky in the semifinals. In this normal round-robin format, he is closer than ever before to his first title.  

He admitted to some nerves before the games, but that all goes away once the arbiters ring the clone of the Titanic’s bell at 1 p.m. each day. So far, Shankland has avoided all the icebergs.

“When I sit down at the board, basically nothing can distract me,” he said. Shankland mentioned that in one event from the past, even a fire alarm didn’t rouse him from his focus. His friend needed to shake him to get his attention.


GM Hikaru Nakamura, who lives in Sunrise, Florida, just participated in a local race. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Shankland said he’s now very much rooting for Nakamura, since he’s yet to play Caruana (tomorrow, as Black) or So (final round, also as Black).’s interview with Shankland.

“I actually thought [Nakamura] would bounce back today,” an earlier-finishing Caruana said as he actively rooted for Nakamura to hold the ending.

But what about his own game? Caruana already won an earlier round in the championship with some help from a chess magazine. Today he gleaned a little more useful information from simply observing another major chess event in progress.


GMs Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana turned their game into “Shamkir West.”  | Photo: Mike Klein/

In Mamedov-Giri, which took place only hours before in Shamkir, the Azeri fought the Petroff with the obscure 5. Bd3. Caruana said developing in front of the d-pawn, à la the Kopec System in the Sicilian, is too mechanical versus the Petroff. He had seen the game before arriving at the board today, but said there’s not much Black needs to know to counter the lethargy.

“Playing Bd3, c3, Bc2 is not going to get you anything,” Caruana told “I didn’t expect him to play so solidly.”

Caruana explained to the rationale behind about his sudden go-to weapon, the Petroff.

“If you look at it from White’s point of view, after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 Nf6, then 5. Ne5 is not such a bad move,” he said, pointing out this is the exact main-line position with colors reversed in the Petroff.

Wesley So

GM Wesley So had to wait a few minutes for GM Fabiano Caruana to arrive, but Black didn’t need a ton of time to diffuse White’s meek plans. | Photo: Mike Klein/

In another decisive game on the east side of the playing room, GM Alex Lenderman won his second game in a row, today beating GM Awonder Liang as Black.


GM Alex Lenderman entering the club yesterday. By the time he left today, he’d gone from a minus score to a plus.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

You’ll never guess the opening. The Petroff!

If you type “Petroff” into a browser at the Saint Louis Chess Club, the first hit is for Petroff Towing. It was Liang’s knight that needed the wrecker today—he was broken down in the middle of the highway.

With the couplet of wins, Lenderman vaulted to sole fourth place (4.5/8). By his own admission, he thinks he needs to close with three out of three to have a chance to win.

GM Ray Robson also won today, needing to mate with bishop and knight. He dealt GM Varuzhan Akobian his third straight loss. Akobian incorrectly made a three-fold repetition claim, then went down in 144 moves. For the record, Robson needed only 27 moves to perform the bishop+knight mate.

Robson vs Akobian U.S. Championship 2018

Hey Ray, you’re going to need a few more of those scoresheets.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

According to research done by U.S. championship unofficial statistician Ed Gonsalves, this appears to be the longest decisive game in the tournament’s long history (but not the longest game—that would be Akobian-Lapshun 2003, 164 moves). It is also the third-longest game of any kind.


All 100+ move U.S. championship wins, before today. | Research and file: Ed Gonsalves.

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, WIM Annie Wang is stealing hearts. And that’s hard to do—the ladies played their second round of all decisive games and have produced 31 wins from 48 games!

So how has Wang stood out? By the count of one grandmaster here, she’s flipped three losing positions (Wang to “I have a surprising ability to not lose from them.”). The teenager has done all of it while remaining perfectly composed at the board, a trait she thinks might come from her dad, who barely showed any emotion himself when his daughter descended the stairs. She saves the animation for her interviews.

Annie Wang

WIM Annie Wang’s six wins represent about 20 percent of the entire women’s field’s tally.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

“We have been working on her calculations, understanding of different situations of middlegames a lot,” her coach GM Melikset Khachiyan told “I taught her to control her time management, to keep her cool, and stay calm.”

She’s got a grandmaster coach but doesn’t seem to care much about titles. First, Wang told that she doesn’t care if she’s referenced as a WIM or FM, despite holding both titles.

Annie Wang

Both GMs Irina Krush and Bobby Fischer won national titles at the age of 14. But 15 wouldn’t be too bad if Wang can hold on.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

Then today, asked her if she had any IM norms (her 2654 performance rating after round eight ensures her one if she just shows up tomorrow). Wang said she didn’t and seem perplexed why this reporter would ask; after all, you need a certain number of foreign opponents for one, don’t you? Wang was then informed that there’s a exception for national championships, to her delight.

Lastly, had she defeated any GMs before today’s win over GM Irina Krush? Wang couldn’t remember, but upon reflection, she didn’t think so (not many chess players fail to remember their first!).

The tournament leader is coming off an abysmal norm event in Charlotte, North Carolina, the last tournament she played before this one. Wang finished with 2.5/9 and in last place. 

“I studied a lot over spring break, but I don’t think it kicked in,” she said about that event.

Wang shares one curious trait with a recent champion. Like Caruana at the Candidates’ Tournament, her phone is broken. (You’d think all the prize money would afford these players the means for a top-of-the-line model, but before St. Louis, Caruana finally went out and bought a similar replacement phone. It doesn’t even offer a touchscreen. He proudly announced that it can text and even has a camera!)

Paikidze kept pace by walking her king forward for the second game in a row. The difference is that yesterday’s Kd2 was desperate while today’s …Ke7 was cozy. In fact, it was WGM Sabina Foisor who walked to d2 today, but without any pawn cover.


Paikidze adores cats, so naturally she is also drawn to sunlit windows. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.


…But WGM Anna Sharevich prefers dogs. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Paikidze told that she does indeed plan to return to normalcy at some point in the last three games. “Yes, of course I love to castle,” she told

It was clear the game was trending her way early. In a highly-contentious and theoretical position, Foisor chewed through 30 minutes on the clock while Paikidze enjoyed all of her starting time.

“Since it turned out she doesn’t know the line, she should have chosen something more solid,” Paikidze said.

Paikidze has a habit of getting up from her board early to look at the monitor, which shows the games of both championships. She said she wasn’t checking Wang’s game specifically. More like wanting to see if any of the grandmasters on the other side of the room were playing her opening.


Just checking to see if any 2800s are copying me!  | Photo: Mike Klein/

She said she will start focusing on Wang’s games now before their big clash tomorrow. What does Paikidze think of the youngster’s equanimity?

“I was very emotional at 15,” Paikidze told “I was all over the place. I couldn’t hide my emotions.”

Other winners of the day include a pair of women who lurk in third place: IM Anna Zatonskih, who mated FM Maggie Feng, and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, who beat WGM Anna Sharevich.


IM Rusa Goletiani’s daughter is a big reader of news.  | Photo: Mike Klein/

WIM Jennifer Yu took out WIM Akshita Gorti, while IM Rusa Goletiani won her first game of the tournament by beating IM Dorsa Derakhshani today.

The win brought relief to Goletiani and her family. Her 11-year-old daughter is a confirmed reader of these reports. Mom reported from the homefront: “I heard that she was screaming today after I won.”

Past championship winner Goletiani had lost five in a row before today. “I always tell my students you have to keep fighting.”’s interview with Goletiani.

The work is just beginning for Wang, who still must play three more former U.S. women’s champions in the final three rounds.

2018 U.S. Championship | Standings After Round 8


2018 U.S. Women’s Championship | Standings After Round 8


The 2018 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship are twin 12-player round robins from April 18-30. The time control is 40/90, SD/30 with a 30-second increment from move one. You can follow all the action at the official website. Games will be daily at 1 p.m. Central time (11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. UTC). is on site and will be bringing you daily reports and video interviews.

Previous reports:

Poll: Majority Favors Legal Sports Betting, But Nearly Half Say Wagering Would Hurt Game Integrity – Legal Sports Report

sports betting poll

A new poll raises some questions about the morals of US sports bettors.

Seton Hall Sports Poll released abbreviated results of its most recent study, which polled Americans’ views on sports betting legislation. According to the poll, the majority of Americans now support legalization of sports betting. It reinforces the recent result from The Washington Post.

At the same time, however, a majority also feel that betting would negatively impact the integrity of those events.

The poll comes ahead of a decision in the US Supreme Court sports betting case about the federal ban outside of Nevada.

A strange response pair

Here are the two questions and answers that need to be examined in tandem:

  • Would you be in favor of legalized betting on sports events?
    • Yes: 55%
    • No: 35%
    • Don’t know/No opinion: 10%
  • Do you think legalized sports betting would negatively impact the integrity of sporting events?
    • Yes: 48%
    • No: 42%
    • Don’t know/No opinion: 10%

About a third of respondents answered “Yes” to both questions.

Rick Gentile, who directed the poll, summed up the results like this: “A majority favors gambling, and by a slimmer margin think the games might be fixed as a result.”

Of course, that’s a terribly troubling stance if it represents the true views of the public.

“It’s outrageous when you think about it,” Gentile said. “It comes close to saying, ‘We don’t care about the legitimacy of the games, what matters is being able to bet on them.’”

The professional sports leagues might be particularly upset at the result of this poll. They’ve spent months visiting lawmakers across the country, warning about integrity concerns in an expanded market.

One of the main reasons to create a legal market to compete with the black market for sports betting is to help the integrity of games. There is no transparency or accountability on this front on the black market, where tens of billions are wagered each year.

Other poll responses

The Sharkey Institute has been running SHS sports betting polls for years now, but there were a couple new questions on this one.

One asked whether respondents thought the decision on legalization should be in the hands of individual states or the federal government. This question provided the most lopsided response on the board, with 62 percent of respondents answering “State control.” Only 27 percent answered “Federal control.”

Most respondents (49 percent) also feel that collegiate betting should be available alongside professional sports. A fair amount, though (36 percent) would prefer betting limited to the pros.

As we typically see with the results from SHS, there were some prevailing social threads in the results, too. Those most supportive of sports betting tend to be younger, male respondents of modest means and education.

The SHS phone poll included 736 respondents selected at random from across the country. The Sharkey Institute cites a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.

Sources: Siena still looking for a men's basketball coach – Albany Times Union

A Siena men’s basketball player reached by phone on Thursday afternoon was asked if he’d heard the report Mount St. Mary’s Jamion Christian was going to be the Saints’ next head coach.

“Just found out like 30 seconds ago,” the player responded. From whom? “Actually, a lunch lady at school.”

It seemed like everyone was talking about a NewsChannel 13 bulletin that Christian, who has led Mount St. Mary’s the past six seasons, was being hired by Siena and would be introduced at a news conference as soon as Friday.

However, Siena immediately responded with an athletic department spokesman saying the job hadn’t been offered to anyone. A source confirmed Siena hadn’t hired Christian.

In addition, another source familiar with the search process insisted Siena hadn’t decided on a coach and that it wouldn’t necessarily be Christian, though he’s still a candidate.

Christian has a record of 101-95 at Mount St. Mary’s, a Northeast Conference school that has made NCAA Tournaments in 2014 and 2017 under his watch.

Christian, 36, is known for his “Mount Mayhem” system that combines defensive pressure with prolific 3-point shooting. He is signed at Mount St. Mary’s through the 2026-27 season.

The confusion seemed almost fitting during a wild month that saw Jimmy Patsos resign under pressure April 13 as a result of a college investigation into alleged misconduct.

Since then, Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino all but expressed interest in the job and Will Brown of crosstown rival University at Albany was linked to the opening. He sidestepped those rumors earlier this week, saying he hadn’t been contacted.

Patrick Beilein, the Le Moyne coach rumored to be the favorite immediately after Jimmy Patsos stepped down, appeared to rule himself out as a candidate.

“Heard (Siena is) after some d1 (coaches) .. which makes sense,” Beilein texted, indicating the Saints preferred someone with Division I head coaching experience. Le Moyne plays at the Division II level, but the Dolphins beat Siena in an exhibition game this season.

Syracuse assistant coach and former Orange player Gerry McNamara has been reported as a candidate, along with Iowa assistant Andrew Francis, who served on Fran McCaffery’s Siena staff for three straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles from 2008-10.

The Saints haven’t won a championship since then and went 8-24 this year, which helped hasten Patsos’ departure.

Siena got a late start on its coaching search with the NCAA’s live recruiting and signing periods already underway.

Also, promising freshmen Prince Oduro and Roman Penn have received releases to transfer from the college. Both have left open the option of returning to Siena. ■ 518-454-5509 ■ @MarkSingelais