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Johnson: Newark grad Anderson feeling the ‘Madness’

Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:42 p.m. CDT

If you think you’re excited for the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, imagine how the residents of Newark who know Kyle Anderson are feeling.

A 2011 graduate of Newark High School, Anderson will participate in the Tournament with the University of Delaware Blue Hens next week, and possibly into the weeks that follow. Delaware was a 75-74 winner over William & Mary Monday night in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, earning an automatic NCAA berth.

It’s the first time the Blue Hens have won the CAA Tournament, but they’ve gone dancing four times before, most recently in 1999. They’ve never won an NCAA Tournament game.

Anderson hit two second-half 3-pointers in Monday’s win, helping Delaware hold off a late W&M rally. He scored nine points in total. For the season, he’s averaging 11.0 points per game and has started each of the Blue Hens’ 34 games.

I can’t give you an insider’s view on what’s going on in Newark right now, but as a resident of Seneca for the past several years, I think I have an idea. It was certainly the talk of the town when South Dakota State, led by former Seneca High standout Griffan Callahan, made its first-ever tournament in 2012.

I still can remember watching SDSU edge past Western Illinois 52-50 in the Summit League title game, with Callahan doing the heavy lifting. I still remember my phone blowing up in the final few minutes; everyone else was watching, and going crazy, too. Watching Callahan and the Jackrabbits give Baylor a battle in the Tournament was even cooler, even if the result, a 68-60 Baylor win, was not.

I’m sure the NBC Sports Network’s broadcast of the CAA title game earned a huge rating in Newark Monday night. I’m sure CBS or whichever of its partners gets Delaware’s Tournament opener will do similarly well. Whether the Blue Hens pull off what would have to be a huge upset or get beat by 30 points, it will be a fun experience for the Newarkians who are viewing.

I’ll have more on Anderson and the Blue Hens in the coming days, particularly after we find out when, where and who they play on Sunday evening.

Spring training update

A quick look at how three local professional pitching prospects have fared so far this spring:

• Mike Foltynewicz of Minooka gave up his first run of the spring on a home run Monday while pitching for the Houston Astros against Washington. He’s got a 1.50 ERA over six innings in three appearances.

The best news from that extremely small sample – he’s not yet walked a batter. The worst news – he has just one strikeout. But Foltynewicz’s trademark velocity seems to be fine, according to every report I’ve seen.

There has been some speculation the Astros might be willing to give Foltynewicz an earlier-than-expected promotion, but to pitch as a reliever. Nothing concrete seems to have been determined. The biggest definitive change involving Foltynewicz is that, at the request of the team, he got a haircut in February.

• Zach Petrick of Morris is also in camp with the St. Louis Cardinals. Through Monday, Petrick had made a pair of two-inning relief appearances. He held the Mets scoreless in his first one, but was tagged for a pair of earned runs by Washington in the second. Petrick was also slated to pitch Tuesday.

I wouldn’t expect Petrick to break camp with the big-league club, but if he builds on his success from 2013, when he was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year, a shot sometime in 2014 may not be out of the question.

• Tony Bucciferro of Minooka wasn’t invited to big-league spring training. Earlier in the offseason, he told me it would be “ideal” if he could break camp with the White Sox’s high-A affiliate, Winston-Salem.

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