A look back at the year’s biggest sports stories
Dec 29, 2015 | 7597 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mets make the World Series

The New York Mets made a playoff run to remember, reaching their first World Series since 2000. The Amazins’ came up short against the Kansas City Royals, but excited baseball fans across the borough.

The Mets did it with dominating starting pitching and clutch hitting. With a young starting rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz (a Long Island native), the Mets pitchers shut down opponents’ offenses. Second baseman and NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy had a postseason to remember, hitting a home run in a record-breaking six consecutive games. His historic feat was notable because it came off pitching aces like Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.

The Mets handily won the National League East over the Washington Nationals to land a playoff berth, their first since 2006. Once they were in, they overcame the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game series and swept the surging Chicago Cubs team with dominating pitching.

When they reached the World Series, the Mets seemed to lose a bit of their magic. Murphy wasn’t hitting timely home runs and the Royals’ bats came up big with runners in scoring position.

But it was a successful season for the Mets, as they defied expectations and made a deep run into October. They have plenty to look forward to next year, including a pitching staff already with playoff experience.

Islanders make the move to Brooklyn

For the New York Islanders, their Brooklyn beginnings have been a success on the ice but a bit of a failure in the stands. Through the first 36 games, they’re ranked third in the Metropolitan Division and within striking distance of the New York Rangers. Despite that, the building has not been full on most nights.

According to an attendance tracker compiled by ESPN, the Islanders rank second-to-last in home attendance, drawing 12,923 fans per game or roughly 81.7 percent of capacity.

“The area we continue to work at is ticket sales,” Barclays Center Chief Executive Officer Brett Yormak told Newsday last month.

“Am I pleased with playing at 77 percent capacity and at 12.1 [thousand]?” he continued. “I’m fine with that. I’m never satisfied. My personality is I’m relatively a happy person, but never satisfied. I want more, and we’re going to be aggressive in getting more.”

Despite that, the Islanders have played extremely well, keeping themselves right in playoff contention. A lengthy playoff run does wonders for a team looking to build up a fan base in a new market, so the Islanders are hoping if they leave a mark on the ice, they’ll leave a bigger mark in Brooklyn.

So far, their key players, like Captain John Tavares and Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, have mostly lived up to expectations, which is keeping the team right in the conversation for a playoff spot.

Chris Mullin comes home

St. John’s took a trip down memory lane this year, introducing former star Chris Mullin as the basketball program’s 20th head coach in history. For fans of the Red Storm, it was echoes of a winning era.

“It’s great to be home,” Mullin said, after being introduced to a packed Carnesecca Arena. “It’s a surreal moment, it really is.”

He was joined on stage by his former coach and mentor, the legendary Lou Carnesecca, the arena’s namesake. At the introductory press conference, Carnesecca – a winner of 526 games – called it a glorious day.

“I can’t tell you how I feel about it, but I think everyone on the East Coast feels the same way, and maybe even around the country,” he said. “I don’t have to talk about what he has done, but there is one thing I want to say. I know he will make us proud.”

The Mullin era has gotten off to an inauspicious start, going 7-6 in their first 13 games as they navigate the non-conference portion of the schedule. While it’s still early in his coaching career, fans are hoping the five-time NBA All-Star can capture some of that magic and bring it to the bench.

Jets “Coach of the Year” controversy

New York Even with their onfield success this year, controversy still somehow finds a way to follow the New York Jets. Earlier this month, they awarded their annual tri-state area High School Coach of the Year to Bruce Eugene of Grand Street Campus.

Eugene’s coaching resume is impressive: he guided the Wolves to their first ever PSAL city football championship this year. But off the field, it’s a different story.

According to the Daily News, Eugene was suspended for two games this year after his team played an illegal scrimmage in New Jersey. He also drew criticism when he allowed star running back Rahmel Ashby – a key contributor to the team’s championship win at Yankee Stadium – to continue to play despite a charge of attempted murder and arrest for gun possession in connection with the shooting of three people.

Despite the controversy, the Jets issued a statement to the Daily News defending their choice.

“The Jets are proud, long-time supporters of PSAL football,” the statement read. “Our Coach of the Year honor was put in place as a way to support PSAL schools and to recognize the on-field accomplishments of coaches, players, and entire football programs. The award is often given to the head coach of the PSAL championship-winning team, as it was this year.”

Queens coach becomes all-time winningest

Consistency has been key for the Benjamin Cardozo High School Men’s Basketball team in Bayside. For the past 35 years, there’s been one constant: head coach Ron Naclerio.

In December, Naclerio earned his 723rd career win, making him the all-time winningest PSAL coach in history. The previous record holder was Chuck Granby of Campus Magnet, a winner of 722 over his 45-year career.

Naclerio, known for his trademark intensity on the bench, has come a long way in his career. When he took over the program in 1981-82, the team finished with a paltry 1-21 record. In the 35 years since, he’s won two city titles – including last year – and coached four players that have gone on to the NBA.

Now that he’s reached the top of the high school basketball world, Naclerio has made his interest known to colleges looking for a coach. He was connected to the Fordham job early in 2015 and although he wasn’t hired, he publicly stated that he was interested.

Had he taken the job, he wouldn’t have become the all-time winningest coach, so now, with the milestone in the rearview mirror, there’s always the possibility he could be looking elsewhere in the future.

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