Patricia: Wilfork helps us win every week


Patricia: Wilfork helps us win every week

FOXBORO -- Vince Wilfork owns some impressive accolades:
 Four-time Pro Bowler
 Four-time Second-team All-Pro
 Named in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2011
 Named in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2012
But there's so much the Patriots nose tackle does that doesn't win awards. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was asked Tuesday how Wilfork's contributions can be appropriately quantified. 
If it's even possible. 
"I think its really difficult to say," Patricia admitted. "Obviously, the biggest stat were concerned with is winning. I think you can definitely say that Vince helps us win every week. That's really what were trying to do and thats what were trying to work for as a defense: to get better. And thats the stat were looking for. So its hard; like you said, theres no real stat for it. Were just trying to win and do what we can to win. I think obviously for us hes just a key component."
Wilfork was, per usual, at the center of New England's most recent defensive effort. The Patriots were staring down the barrel of Houston -- the AFC's No. 1 team, an offense that was averaging over 29 points per game and converting almost 40-percent of third downs. 
The Texans were shut out for the first two quarters of the game. They finished with just 14 points, converting only 4 of 14 third-down opportunities. Just 2 of 13 drives reached the red zone.   
"You really have to give credit to those guys up front," said Patricia. "They did a heck of a job playing really good fundamental, disciplined football. Vince, obviously, leads the charge and is really just a tremendous player for us in the front. He obviously commands a lot of attention from the opponent, which in other cases can help free up teammates."
One of the many things Wilfork does that doesn't show up in the box score. 
"Its something we talked about earlier in the year kind of those unsung plays that present themselves where he's obviously just such a force in there. He gets those plays once in a while where he is singled up or he has a chance, the opportunity, to make a big play, which he did quite a bit last night."

Webber, Massimino among the Hall of Fame finalists


Webber, Massimino among the Hall of Fame finalists

NEW ORLEANS - Chris Webber and Rollie Massimino are one step from the Hall of Fame.

The career 20-point-per-game NBA scorer and the coach who led Villanova to a stunning upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game were among the 14 finalists unveiled Saturday for this year's Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Webber played 15 seasons with five franchises, plus was part of Michigan's famed "Fab Five" group that headlined college basketball in the early 1990s.

"I don't know what I'm most proud of," said Webber, who averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in his career and was a five-time NBA All-Star. "I'm proud to be in the room with all these great individuals."

Other first-time Hall of Fame finalists include longtime NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut women's star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self, and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"I still can't believe I'm here," McGrady said. "This is not even a dream come true."

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include star point guard and Olympic gold medalist Tim Hardaway, winningest all-time boys high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women's coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach and four-time Division III national champion Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU women's national champion team Wayland Baptist University.

"We are grateful to the 14 finalists in the Class of 2017 for the impact they have had on the game we cherish," Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "To be named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment."

Inductees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. Enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are scheduled for Sept. 7-9.

Massimino, now an 82-year-old cancer survivor who is still coaching at NAIA school Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a finalist for the first time. His Hall of Fame hopes have been backed by plenty of current and former coaches in recent months - including current Villanova coach Jay Wright, who presented Massimino with a championship ring from the Wildcats' 2016 NCAA title.

"Some days, we do take him for granted," Keiser guard Andrija Sarenac said. "But then you see him on TV so much, you see all these videos made about him, the movies about Villanova and everything, and it just hits you. You realize that he's a legend. I mean, your coach is a walking legend. With the energy and everything he comes in with, it's inspiring."

Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be enshrined. Among this year's candidates who did not make the finalist group: Muggsy Bogues, Ben Wallace, Kevin Johnson, Maurice Cheeks, Mark Price, Lefty Driesell and Eddie Sutton.

Former New York Times sports writer Harvey Araton and former Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager will be recognized during Hall of Fame weekend as this year's Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients.

"A tremendous honor," said Sager's wife Stacy.

This year's lifetime achievement award recipients are former UConn coach Donald "Dee" Rowe and Michael Goldberg, who spent nearly four decades as executive director of the NBA Coaches Association. Goldberg died earlier this year.

"He bridged the gap between ownership and coaches," said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, who spoke about Goldberg on Saturday while wearing a bow tie - one of the signature wardrobe accessories that Goldberg donned for years. "He was just such a great guy."

Dombrowski: There's a lot of talent on this Red Sox team

Dombrowski: There's a lot of talent on this Red Sox team

Trenni Kusnierek talks with Dave Dombrowski about the Red Sox clubhouse and their expectations for the 2017 season.