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Wilson Names Team USA Hopefuls

Mosconi_CupAs was his original intent, Mosconi Cup Team USA Captain Mark Wilson worked quickly to select the players who will compete for the final five roster spots for the 2014 event in December in Blackpool, England. Wilson announced the selection of eight players who will train and compete together through the summer, before the captain whittles the list down to the five players who will wear the red, white and blue in Blackpool.

Not surprisingly, Wilson tabbed America’s No. 1, Shane Van Boening, and immediately announced that he will expect the taciturn star to provide leadership to the 2014 squad. “Shane sets a great example,” Wilson said in a press release. “And I expect to rely on him for leadership this year.”

Wilson also named seven-time Mosconi Cup veteran Corey Deuel, who many thought should have been on the team in 2013, to the squad. John Schmidt, Oscar Dominguez and Brandon Shuff, each of whom has participated in one Mosconi Cup, were named to the team was well. Leaning on America’s youth, Wilson rounded out his selection with Southern Classic One-Pocket champion Justin Bergman, Derby City titlist Justin Hall and Connecticut’s Jeremy Sossei.

“I’m really excited by this team,” Wilson said. “Every player seems so genuinely appreciative and excited. They’re all willing to do whatever it takes to develop a strong team and a strong sense of unity.”

More interesting than who Wilson selected, of course, was the list of players who weren’t invited to “camp.” The most notable omission was Johnny Archer, whose string of 17 consecutive Mosconi Cup appearances will come to an end. Fourteen-time Cup participant Earl Strickland and nine-time team member Rodney Morris were also left off the roster. In fact, Van Boening will be the only holdover from the 2013 squad that lost 21-1 to Team Europe in Las Vegas.

“I didn’t interview those players,” Wilson admitted. “And I explained to Johnny that I thought it best to go in a completely different direction this year. A lot of it is about attitude. Last year I felt there was no sense of urgency. There seemed to be a sense that it was a yearend bonus, and if the team won, great.”

Another player conspicuous by his absence is Mike Dechaine, one of the most consistent American players over the past three years.

“I spoke to Mike,” said Wilson. “In the end I felt that his reputation among the players wasn’t a good fit at this stage for a team event like the Mosconi Cup.”

Wilson added that his plan is to get the players together several times over the summer and fall for practice and team bonding. Wilson said he planned to make the final cut to five players after the U.S. Open, and that Team USA would meet and practice together for a week at Lindenwood University near St. Louis before departing for London. The dates of the 2014 Mosconi Cup are Dec. 1-4.

ESPN to Stream Mosconi Cup

Just hours before the 2012 Mosconi Cup kicks off in London, Matchroom Sport announced that ESPN will broadcast all of the action live on its ESPN3 network. Here is the full release from Matchroom Sport:

With the 2012 PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup set to start at 2 Eastern time on Monday 10th December, pool fans across America will be able to follow all the action live on ESPN 3 as Team USA goes in search of Team Europe’s crown.

Taking place at the legendary York Hall in East London between Monday 10th and Thursday 13th December, this is the 19th annual running of pool’s biggest event as two five man teams from the USA and Europe go at it over four days of sheer adrenalized 9 ball action.

Team USA are aiming to win back the trophy they last won at MGM Grand in 2009. The Europeans retained their trophy in Vegas 12 months ago, defeating USA 11-7 in Vegas.

Captained by CJ Wiley, Team USA members Johnny Archer(Georgia), Shane Van Boening (South Dakota), Dennis Hatch (New York) and Mike Dechaine (Maine) are joined by rookie Brandon Shuff (Virgina) for Mosconi Cup XIX.

ESPN3 is ESPN’s multi-screen sports network, a live destination that delivers thousands of sports events annually and accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members. It is currently available to 79 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.

Team USA Set for Mosconi Cup

Van Boening will be making a sixth consecutive appearance. (Photo by JP Parmentier-Matchroom Sport)

Van Boening will be making a sixth consecutive appearance. (Photo by JP Parmentier-Matchroom Sport)

Here’s the official release from Matchroom Sport announcing the five players who will compete for Team USA and captain CJ Wiley:

Following from his undefeated run through last week’s U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, Shane Van Boening cemented his place at the head of the American 2012 PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup rankings to secure his spot on the team as one of the top two automatic spots.

“I’m so happy to be on my sixth appearance as Mosconi USA team member,” Van Boening said. “As I just won the U.S. Open, I know I’m playing well this year and will try my best to help the team take home the title.”

Such was Van Boening’s dominance of the five-event series that he beat the second placed player Mike Dechaine by an incredible 218 points. In his previous five Mosconi Cup appearances, the South Dakota Kid sports a record of 12 wins from 26 matches.

For second placed Dechaine it will be a return to the team following on from his debut in Las Vegas last year and he will be relishing the chance to show what he can do in front of a partisan, sold-out crowd at the York Hall, London, from December 10-13.

“I am very excited to compete in my second consecutive Mosconi Cup, especially with this one being in London,” Dechaine said. “With the crowds being heavily in Europe’s favor, this is without a doubt the team I’d want going against it.”

The first of the remaining three wildcard picks is Virginia’s Brandon Shuff, who caps off a fine season to make his Mosconi Cup debut at the age of 29.

“When I was growing up, it was an American pool player’s dream to play on the Mosconi Cup,” he said. “This is definitely a blessing and hard work is paying off and I’m excited for this accomplishment and I’ll be training hard to help our team bring that Cup back where it belongs.”

Back for his third Mosconi Cup is Dennis Hatch. An MVP in his 2009 debut when his gung-ho team spirit helped propel the team to victory, Hatch will be hoping for a successful return to the York Hall where he made his last Mosconi Cup appearance in 2010.

“It’s always an honor and privilege to represent the US,” he said. “I am so fired up and hungry that the only thing I plan on tasting while in Europe is victory, because I believe this is one of the best teams yet.”

The final spot in the team is filled by Georgia’s Johnny Archer who will be making a record-breaking 16th consecutive Mosconi Cup appearance. With a winning percentage of 53, the Scorpion made his debut at the event in 1996 and has been an ever-present since.

“It is an honor to represent the USA team for my 16th straight year,” he said. “And I will do whatever it takes to help the boys take that cup from York Hall and bring it back to America where it belongs.”

Mosconi Cup: Wiley to Lead U.S.

Wiley will lead an underdog Team USA into hostile territory.

Wiley will lead an underdog Team USA into hostile territory.

Matchroom Sport distributed this press release on Sunday, Oct. 14:

FOLLOWING A 16-year absence from the event, winning 1996 Mosconi Cup player/captain CJ Wiley returns to London this December as skipper of the American team at PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup. The 47-year-old Wiley from Texas was in charge of the side in London in 1996 and had the honor of potting the winning 9 ball in a 15-13 victory.

After a highly decorated spell at the top, including winning the ESPN World Championship, Wiley wound down his career in the 2000s, choosing to focus on a successful business career. He’s now back — and will be facing one of the toughest challenges of his career as he attempts to rally his side and turn their recent Mosconi Cup fortunes around.

“It’s an honor to be chosen to represent the USA team as captain in 2012,” said Wiley.

“I have been honored with the Player of the Year award and won major championships; however, being chosen to represent my country and its best players in the Mosconi Cup is something I value as an even greater personal accomplishment,” he said. “I know that the European team has dominated us over the past 6 years and I know it’s going to be especially challenging to go into York Hall in front of a highly enthusiastic home crowd and win the Mosconi Cup.

“This year however, is going to be different. The USA team will be young, ambitious and hungry for this victory. I, as captain, will make sure they are all on top of their games both mentally and physically. This is more than just a pocket billiards match; this is for patriotic pride. This is for the right to say we are the champions and take the Mosconi Cup back to America, where it belongs.”

Strickland’s Hall of Fame Speech Filled With “Pearls”

“Where are my friends?” demanded Earl Strickland, discussing the lack of respect given to pool players by professional athletes in other sports during his acceptance speech as the 50th inductee of the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.

The fact is, Strickland was surrounded by friends during the well-attended induction banquet held on April 6, 2006 in conjunction with the BCA International Billiard & Home Recreation Expo in Houston.

Earl was introduced by longtime sponsors Janet Shimel, CEO of J-S Sales Company, Inc., and Lou Sardo, of Lou Sardo Products. Both shared stories of the volatile pool legend that were far more “pearly” than surly, and highlighted Strickland’s passion for the game.

“His heart is really much bigger than his mouth,” Shimel said.

“I have a passion for pool and it still burns and I’m still going to be playing, and I’m starting to get healthier. I had some kidney problems, and some back problems, and some marital problems, and some others. I’ve kind of fallen off the horse in the last few years, but I’m getting over it now, and when I get my game back, you better watch out Johnny [Archer]!” he said.

Strickland’s speech was peppered with many “pearls” of his own. “Finally, I have your undivided attention. That’s all I ever wanted,” began the 44-year-old, who has commanded attention in the pool world since his first pro tournament at age 15.

He expressed his desire to continue playing pool for as long as he’s capable. “I don’t know how much longer I got, to tell you the truth. Pool players live in dog years. When you’re 40, you’re like 80.”

Strickland is a five-time winner of the Billiards Digest “Player of the Year” award, and his career highlights include multiple world championships, five U.S. Open titles and nine Team U.S.A. victories at the annual Mosconi Cup. He has also gained the title of “Million-Dollar Man” after he ran an unbelievable 13 racks. Most recently, Earl won the World Pool Masters Trick Shot Challenge in 2003, took fourth at the U.S. Open in September 2005, second at the UPA Atlanta Open in October 2005 and another Mosconi Cup victory in December 2005.

Strickland’s bad temper is well-known and documented in the pool community, but he asserts that it always in the name of a deep adoration and reverence for the game. He compared pool to “the worst drug on earth.” “I would nearly want to kill someone to play a game. I stole from my own mother to play pool,” he admitted to a roaring audience.

His speech took a serious tone, however, when he spoke of his new distinction. “I’m a Hall-of-Famer now, I’ll be walking in another pair of shoes.”

IPT Announces Long-awaited Tour Dates

The International Pool Tour has released its 2006 calendar of events, some of which conflict with the game’s most established tournaments, including the U.S. Open, the World Pool Championship and the Mosconi Cup.

The IPT announced that its first event — the North American Open 8-Ball Championship — will be held July 22-30 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The IPT World Open 8-Ball Championship is slated for Sept. 2-10 at the Reno Hilton, in Reno, Nev., the same dates as the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake, Va. The IPT Players 8-Ball Championship is slated for Oct. 29-Nov. 4 in the United Kingdom, dates already earmarked for the WPA World 8-Ball Championship in the United Arab Emirates. The final day of the IPT’s UK event also overlaps the opening day of Matchroom Sports’ World Pool Championship in Asia. The IPT Masters 8-Ball Championship will be staged Nov. 26-Dec. 3 at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosemont, Ill. The year-ending IPT 2006 King of the Hill 8-Ball Championship (and the concurrently run 2007 Tour Card Qualification Tournament) is scheduled for Dec. 12-17 at the Wynn Las Vegas, which conflicts with Matchroom’s Mosconi Cup.

“We really did try to work around other promoters’ dates,” said Deno Andrews, tour director for the IPT. “But all of the UPA, WPBA, WPA and Matchroom events, as well as the U.S. Open, took up a lot of weeks. We knew there would be a few problems.”

The Winners, And Still Champions

It didn’t take long for Team USA to finish off Team Europe on the final day of the 2005 Mosconi Cup at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Entering Day Four, Team USA, winner of nine of the previous 11 US vs Europe team challenges, needed a single win from a possible six singles matches.

As was expected, Team Europe, needing a clean sweep, sent out its strongest player and captain, Mika Immonen of Finland first Sunday morning. The US, with the luxury of being able to save its top players for later in the day, answered with Mosconi debutante Shawn Putnam. Putman had lobbied with US captain Johnny Archer for the chance to play first on the final day, with hopes of sending home the title-clinching 9 ball. But a missed opportunity prevented Putnam from breaking Immonen’s serve in the alternating-break, race-to-five match, and was forced to watch Immonen post a clean runout from the break in the deciding game for a 5-4 win. Immonen’s win narrowed the US lead to 10-6.

But Jeremy Jones, who had struggled through the first days of the four-day event, found himself in a familiar position against Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann. With a chance to repeat his Mosconi-ending shot at the MGM in 2003, Jones took advantage of Hohmann’s empty break shot in the case rack, forcing the German to kick at the 1 ball, then ran out from the resulting position to nail down Team USA’s 10th win in 12 tries.

“We’re changing Jeremy’s nickname to “The Closer,” said Earl Strickland, who earned the Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player trophy for his perfect 5-0 record.

“Nobody on either team played exceptionally well this week, except for Earl and Rodney,” said Archer. “But it’s weeks like this where you play with heart and do what you have to do to win. And this team showed a lot of heart.”

Team USA Puts the Hammer Down

Team USA captain Johnny Archer couldn’t wait for the action to commence on Day Three of the 2005 Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas. With his team holding a 6-4 lead in the 12th annual edition of the transatlantic 9-ball clash, Archer knew he could stack his line-up for the three doubles and two singles matches.

The only Americans who had yet to play singles were heavy-hitters Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland. They would be matched up against Holland’s Alex Lely and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, the only Euros who’d yet to see singles action.

“We set today’s line-up to sweep all five matches and end this tournament right now,” Archer said of the race-to-11 format. “As long as we were ahead during the first two days, I wanted to save Rodney and Earl for today. And I could put them in the doubles match between their two singles matches. The Europeans will have to face them three matches in a row. Then, we’ll close the day with me and Jeremy (Jones). We’re going for the kill.”

Archer’s plan almost worked to perfection, as Team USA , despite dropping the first match of the day, rolled to four wins and now teeter on the brink of their 10th Mosconi Cup title in the 12-year history of the event.

Having lost five of the first six doubles matches, Team Europe juggled its pairings for Saturday’s action. Captain Mika Immonen of Finland paired the Dutch duo of Alex Lely and Neils Feijen, and placed newcomer Raj Hundal of England with Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.

The move paid immediate dividends when Lely and Feijen topped the American duo of Charlie Williams and Shawn Putnam, 5-3, to narrow the US’s overall lead to a single match, 6-5.

Things continued to look promising for the Euros when Lely, playing flawlessly after a shaky opening day, opened a 3-1 lead over Morris. But a positional error and miss allowed Morris to tie the match at 3-3, and a scratch on the break when leading 4-3 signaled Lely’s last trip to the table. Morris cleaned up that rack, and ran out from the break for a 5-4 win to give the US another two-match cushion.

From there, the US floodgates opened. Strickland and Morris continued their unbeaten streak as teammates with a convincing 5-2 beating of Immonen and Chamat, and Strickland raced through a 5-2 pounding of Chamat in singles. The team of Archer and Jones then pushed the US to the hill with a solid 5-3 win over Hundal and Hohmann.
The final day of the Mosconi Cup will consist solely of single matches, with the US needing just one win to secure the trophy.

A Day On The HIll At Mosconi Cup

On a day filled with tight matches, Team USA gained a two-match lead over Team Europe, 6-4, Friday at the 12th Annual Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas, although both squads will likely spend a restless night reliving missed opportunities that could have impacted the match score.

Bucking the trend of previous Mosconi Cups, Team USA won all three of its doubles matches on Day Two of the race-to-11 transatlantic 9-ball clash, while dropping both of its singles contests. And in both instances, American players all but handed the match to their Euro counterparts. Shawn Putnam, fresh off an opening match doubles win, squandered numerous opportunities and a 3-0 lead in dropping a 5-4 match to England’s Raj Hundal. And Jeremy Jones, coming off a doubles win with US captain Johnny Archer, bungled his way out of four elementary run-outs in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.

But the Americans swept through doubles play, with Putnam and Charlie Williams besting Hohmann and Holland’s Neils Feijen, and Jones and Archer topping Euro captain Mika Immonen and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat by identical 5-4 margins.

In the day’s final match, Earl Strickland played the perfect gentleman with partner Rodney Morris in a convincing 5-2 win over Hundal and Holland’s Alex Lely. The Euros held an early 2-0 advantage, and threatened in game three, before a miss by Lely opened the floodgates for a five-rack US assault.

Strickland, who had battled fans during his Day One match, and unleashed an expletive-laced barrage during a live on-air interview, explained his change of heart.

“I need to stay more under control,” Strickland said after the match. “Because my emotions hurt my teammate. But I just think every player here deserves equal respect when they’re playing. These are the best players in the world.

“But I’ll tell you,” he added, “There will never be another one of me. I guess that’s why I’m always introduced as ‘The One and Only,'”

Comeback, Blowup Highlight Mosconi Day One!

After dropping the opening two matches on the first day of the 2005 Mosconi Cup, Team USA charged back with three consecutive wins, highlighted by a contentious 5-4 doubles victory, to earn a 3-2 lead at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The transatlantic team event features two new twists for 2005, a 30-second shot clock and alternating singles-doubles matches. Because the event is carried live throughout the United Kingdom on Sky Sports, the format features one five-hour block of matches each day. The shortened TV window forced promoter Matchroom Sport to cut the 2005 Mosconi to a race to 11. To assure each player opportunities for singles play, Matchroom is running a three doubles matches, with two singles matches sandwiched in between.

The event opened with Thorsten Hohmann of Germany and Neils Feijen of Holland thumping the American duo of captain Johnny Archer and Jeremy Jones, 5-1. Euro captain Mika Immonen then beat Archer in singles, 5-2, to give Europe a quick 2-0 match lead.

But the Americans stormed back with Cup newcomer Shawn Putnam and Charlie Williams bouncing 24-year-old Raj Hundal of England and Alex Lely of Holland, 5-3. Williams, not traditionally a strong performer in the Mosconi Cup, continued his powerful Day One performance with a convincing 5-3 singles win over Feijen to draw the Americans even, 2-2.

As if scripted, the day’s finale, pitting the U.S. duo of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris (unbeaten in 2004) against Immonen and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, evolved into drama-filled cat fight. The Americans free-wheeled to a 4-0 lead, then withstood a furious Euro rally that knotted the match at 4-4. During the match, the pro-Euro and pro-American fans took turns pushing the good-taste envelope, and Strickland got into one of his patented verbal sparring matches with several fans.

The Euro pair had a chance to complete the comeback, but found themselves hooked shooting at the 5 ball. With their extensions used up (each team is allowed two per rack), Chamat appeared to foul by not attempting his shot before the clock expired. Referee Micheala Tabb awarded the Euros a second chance after ruling that the clock had not given Chamat fair warning. Chamat fouled on his attempt, and the Americans ran out to earn the 5-4 win and a 3-2 match lead at the close of action.

In the post-match interview, aired live in the U.K., Strickland berated the European fans and engaged in a profanity-laced exchange with a female fan in the crowd.

With that, the 2005 Mosconi Cup was off and running. Play will continue Friday with another round of three doubles and two singles matches. For more information on the day’s action, log on to MosconiCup.com