Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: Kevin Durant, NBA
Path: /nba/kevin-durant-will-have-his-own-hbo-special
Body:

On Tuesday, November 4, “Kevin Durant: The Offseason” will debut at 10 P.M. ET on HBO. Yahoo! Sports reports that the show is "a first-person account of the life of the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar forward. Cameras and microphones were apparently embedded with the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, and following him from the moment his NBA basketball season ended on May 31 until he reported to training camp for the upcoming season in late September.”

From what we know about Durant’s offseason so far, it comes as a bit of a surprise that he’d give up his privacy for it. Prior rumblings suggest the scoring sensation got into a heated spat with rapper The Game that Durant was said to owe him over a bet. 

More ominous, though, has been the quaky speculation about KD’s free agency decision, despite it being two seaons away. Rival LeBron James—who happens to be executive producing two TV shows of his own, though not starring in them—has taught us that one man’s choice of team can shift the league’s power axis for years to come. And Durant is certainly one of the few men with the talent to tilt the whole game.

It’s also been just over a year since Durant joined Jay-Z’s Roc Nation agency, boldly declaring the move on social media:

 

What, precisely, #NEWRULES means is still not entirely clear. The portentous tag has been a signal, for many, that Durant is destined to leave the Thunder, with the most recurring notion being that he’ll return home to D.C. to play for the Washington Wizards. There’s also been much chatter that the superstar’s attitude has changed for the worse under Mr. Carter’s care. Of course, Durant’s emotional, terrific “You’re the real MVP” speech of this past spring runs quite contrary to this story — he seemed as endearing and good-natured as ever in that moment.

But when Durant and HBO lift the veil — partially, at least — with this new feature, we’ll have perhaps our closest look at Durant, and likely our most substantive trace of his supposed transformation. What will we find out?

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 10:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-7-fantasy-value-plays
Body:

DraftKings has released their Daily Fantasy college football salaries for Week 7, and the experts at CollegeFootballGeek.com have hunkered down and scoured all of the data to find the best Value Plays on the docket. 

These Value Plays are comprised of players poised to out-produce their DraftKings salaries this week.  These are the “diamonds in the rough” that your DFS competitors may overlook.  They are the difference-makers you need in your lineup to win one of the big DFS contests!

For your convenience, we have broken the picks down by DraftKings contest game set. Best of luck this week!

(For more detailed Daily Fantasy analysis, picks, player news, player rankings, and stat breakdowns, check out
CollegeFootballGeek.comLearn how to SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!)


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VALUE PLAYS: SATURDAY (EARLY ONLY) GAME SET

QUARTERBACKS

1)    QB Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati vs. Miami ($4000)
Legaux will get his turn under center with Gunner Kiel out to injury. He doesn’t have to do much to reach value and allow DFS players to stack another position.


RUNNING BACKS

1)    RB Daniel Lasco, Cal vs. Washington ($4900)
Lasco has been on fire lately, with three total touchdowns in the last two games. He doesn’t look to have a huge ceiling this week, but could easily hit value with another score or two.

2)    RB Jon Hilliman, BC vs. NC State ($5000)
Hilliman is on a tear, scoring two touchdowns in each of the past three games. He could shred a suspect NC State defense this week. Look for Hilliman to find pay dirt once again this week.

3)    RB Larry Dixon, Army vs. Rice ($5000)
Dixon ran for 188 yards last week and could find similar success against Rice. Expect both teams to churn out the yardage on the ground this week.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1)    WR De’Runnya Wilson, Miss State vs. Auburn ($4100)
Wilson has become a favorite target of Dak Prescott and could see plenty of targets in this potentially high scoring game. He could be even more heavily involved if Jameon Lewis misses the game.



2)    WR DeVante Parker, Louisville vs. Clemson ($4200)
It appears that Parker could return this week from injury and comes in at a bargain price. Parker could smash his price assuming he is healthy enough to play. Monitor his status leading up to kickoff to make sure he is a full go.


TIGHT END

1)    TE Dan Vitale, Northwestern vs. Minnesota ($3000)
Vitale scored last week and a fairly consistent option at a very inconsistent position.



VALUE PLAYS:  SATURDAY (LATE ONLY) GAME SET

QUARTERBACKS

1)    QB Colby Kirkegaard, Wyoming vs. Hawaii ($5200)
How can you not play a guy with almost the exact same last name as the greatest existentialist philosopher. He is also playing Hawaii, which doesn’t hurt either.

RUNNING BACKS

1)    RB Chris Hairston, ECU vs. USF ($3000)
Hairston led the Pirates in carries last week and could see plenty of opportunity if Breon Allen misses this game with an injury. Hairston could be worth a flier at minimum price.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1)    WR Garrett Brown, Air Force vs. Utah State ($4400)
It’s not often that an Air Force receiver will make this or any fantasy list, but Brown has scored five touchdowns over the past three games. He appears to be worth a shot at this price.



By Todd DeVries & Kevin Mount, CollegeFootballGeek.com
 


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Teaser:
College Fantasy Football: Week 7 Fantasy Value Plays
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 10:03
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-north-carolina-tar-heels-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 6 North Carolina is looking to reclaim its status as a powerhouse program after two subpar seasons, by the Tar Heels’ standards. North Carolina has won an NCAA game in each of the last two years but hasn’t finished higher than third in the ACC. This may be the season the Tar Heels start to resemble their tradition. The roster has stabilized around All-American Marcus Paige with most of the roster returning intact for a run in the ACC.

 

The North Carolina edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

The North Carolina basketball program hasn’t lived up to its lofty standards on or off the court in recent years. The Tar Heels have not reached a Final Four since 2009, tied for their longest such streak since an eight-year drought from 1983 to 1990, or won the ACC Tournament since 2008. They also have dealt with unexpected transfers and major suspensions of key players during the last four years, issues that used to be few and far between in Chapel Hill.

 

UNC has a chance to get back on track in 2014-15 with a roster that features plenty of depth and talent. The Tar Heels return nine of their 11 rotation players from last season, have a legit leader/star in guard Marcus Paige, and welcome three McDonald’s All-Americans to the mix.

 


No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels Facts & Figures

Last season: 24-10, 13-5 ACC

Postseason: NCAA round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 4

Coach: Roy Williams (306-89 at North Carolina, 130-50 ACC)

ACC Projection: Second

Postseason Projection: NCAA Elite Eight

 


Frontcourt

 

In a sport that has become increasingly perimeter-oriented, the Tar Heels have an abundance of size and potential up front. Junior Brice Johnson and sophomores Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks all seem poised to take big steps forward in 2014-15.

 

Meeks spent the summer losing weight and getting into better shape, while Johnson continued his career-long goal of adding strength to his slender frame. Both have proven that they are talented offensive players, with Johnson establishing himself as UNC’s best low-post scorer and Meeks showcasing excellent passing and offensive rebounding skills. Both also have plenty of room for improvement defensively. Hicks, who spent last season masquerading as a small forward because of UNC’s lack of depth on the wing, should make a big impact in the paint with his athleticism.

 

Joel James and Desmond Hubert offer significant starting experience and specialty traits that UNC’s other big men lack. James provides brute strength and a physical style, and Hubert contributes superior defense. Undersized Jackson Simmons enters every season with a lowly projection for playing time, but he always carves out a niche for himself with a combination of hustle and savvy.

 

Backcourt

 

This area has transformed from a question mark into an exclamation point in the course of one year, and Paige is a key reason why. He spearheaded UNC’s midseason surge a year ago, finishing fourth in the ACC in scoring and sixth in assists while providing clutch plays against defenses geared to stop him. The good news for UNC fans is that Paige will have more help around him this season.

 

Paige’s preference is to play point guard, but he is a tremendous shooter who is willing to play off the ball to help the team. That selflessness will create minutes at the point for sophomore Nate Britt, who retooled his jumper from a left-handed shot to a right-handed shot in the offseason, and highly touted freshman Joel Berry.

 

On the wing, the Tar Heels figure to have a nice rotation after being thin a year ago. Junior J.P. Tokoto, one of the nation’s most gifted athletes, returns after establishing himself as the team’s top defender. Tokoto must continue to develop his ball-handling and shooting after making just under 50 percent of his free throws last season, but the Tar Heels will get help in both of those departments from a couple of freshmen. Theo Pinson is adept at scoring and creating opportunities for teammates, and Justin Jackson is an accomplished mid-range scorer who also can make 3-pointers.

 

Final analysis

 

UNC’s depth and versatility make the team dangerous on the national scene. Coach Roy Williams has personnel choices and flexibility available to him that he lacked a year ago. He can go big with lineups in which only the point guard is shorter than 6-5, or he can employ a lineup of three point guards late in games to enhance ball-handling and free throw shooting.

 

The challenge of re-climbing the mountain to ACC and national supremacy will be significant, especially with Louisville joining the league, but the Tar Heels have the personnel to succeed against all sizes and styles of opponents.

 

“We definitely have our fair share of tests with our schedule,” Paige says. “But I think that will help us out, and I really think that we are a legitimate Final Four contender if we can put all the pieces together.”

 

Newcomers

 

UNC welcomes a trio of McDonald’s All-Americans who can contribute in various ways on the perimeter. Theo Pinson provides scoring and playmaking ability, and his 6-11 wingspan makes him an intriguing prospect defensively. Justin Jackson is a strong outside shooter, an area of immediate need for the Tar Heels. Joel Berry is a fierce competitor and gifted passer with a strong frame that is uncommon for freshman point guards.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: North Carolina Tar Heels Team Preview
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, NBA
Path: /nba/chicago-bulls%E2%80%99-pau-gasol-hangs-out-sesame-street
Body:

If you were to scour the NBA for a player who most resembles Big Bird, you’d eventually land on new Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol. A former champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, and likely Hall of Famer in time, the Spaniard is tall, fluffy and gregarious in the same way as the yellow-feathered pop culture icon. He’s one of the most beloved characters in the league. 

Gasol is one of the friendlier interviews around, and his good will with media corps is clearly no illusion — he’s a giver on the court, too. Arguably, no big man (except for maybe his Bulls counterpart Joakim Noah, or brother Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, if anyone) passes the ball so much like a deferential point guard.

It was only a matter of time before Gasol took his loving talents to the arena of childhood pedagogy. His generosity makes eminent sense along the sidewalks of Sesame Street, where Gasol recently revealed himself having a brief party:

 

Whether the center will appear in a full episode or not is unclear — the social media post offered little insight into his involvement with the show. But Gasol will definitely be fighting for a championship alongside Noah, Derrick Rose and indomitable coach Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls in 2014-15.

Gasol has looked sharp in two preseason games with the Bulls, continuing his run of impressive play with the Spanish national team through the FIBA World Cup, where he was perhaps the best player in the whole tournament. His intensity in the post will be a huge asset for Chicago—but so will his aptitude for levity, which he pointedly reminded us of with this snippet of action among Elmo and friends.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA
Path: /nba/blake-griffin-begins-mvp-campaign-jumpers-not-dunks
Body:

You know who Blake Griffin is for one reason, above all: He’s one of the most spectacular athletes the NBA has ever seen. The Los Angeles Clippers forward made an immediate impression in his 2010-11 rookie season and has only increased in skill and popularity since. No one this side of Michael Jordan has been so prolific in the art of posterizing other players. Just ask: Timofey Mozgov, Kendrick Perkins and Kris Humphries.

 

That list could go on and on, but our time is finite and the narrative on Griffin has gone to more interesting, subtle places anyways. In 2013-14, his game expanded to include more ball-handling, mid-range shooting and passing. Griffin thrived with added responsibility under new coach Doc Rivers and showed that he’s one of the very best players in the game — that he’s a versatile talent who should be known for more than just his YouTube-friendly pyrotechnics at the rim. He finished third in MVP voting for the year, just behind the untoppable LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

And if Griffin’s preseason debut is any indication, his evolution was only beginning last season. He put on a shooting display in a home loss to the Golden State Warriors, collecting 24 points and 12 rebounds on 9-of-17 shooting, stretching the defense in ways that should have the rest of the league on notice.

 

Clippers point guard Chris Paul is approaching his thirtieth birthday next spring, and the team also lost some bench depth over the summer with the departures of Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Jared Dudley. But the young Griffin’s ascendance gives Clippers fans more than enough cause for hope. A player of his stature can shift the power balance of the NBA for years and years to come. On Blake’s back, the red-and-blue are in as good a shape as anyone going forward.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-wichita-state-shockers-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 7 Wichita State keeps making history. The Shockers are two years removed from a Final Four, a feat that was arguably topped a year later when Wichita State won its first 35 games before losing to eventual national runner-up Kentucky in the round of 32. Reaching those either of those marks again is too much to ask, but the Shockers have plenty of firepower returning to remain on the national scene one way or another.

 

The Wichita State edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

Wichita State dominated the Missouri Valley Conference in historic ways last season. Nine schools will try to change that story this season. It won’t be easy. The Shockers, even without NBA Draft pick Cleanthony Early, show no signs of significant weakening.

 

“That’s like a high major program over there,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing says. “They literally could have won the national championship last year. The rest of us have to raise our level.”

 

Last season, WSU rolled to an 18–0 league record but largely disappeared from the national view in January and February because nobody regarded an MVC school as a serious challenger. It would help WSU’s strength of schedule and national respect if that changed.

 

“Wichita State has set a bar,” Loyola coach Porter Moser says. “Everybody is chasing that extremely hard. The level of recruiting has really been amped up.”

 

Meanwhile, the Shockers wait and get better.

 

The past four seasons rank with the best in Shocker history — 2011 NIT champions, 2012 MVC champions, Final Four in 2013 and 35 straight wins in 2014. That is a lot to live up to for WSU and a lot to catch up on for the rest of the Valley.

 


No. 7 Wichita State Shockers Facts & Figures

Last season: 35-1, 18-0 MVC

Postseason: NCAA round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 3

Coach: Gregg Marshall (174-71 at Wichita State, 84-42 MVC)

Missouri Valley Projection: First

Postseason Projection: NCAA Elite Eight

 


Frontcourt

 

Marshall relies on transfer big men, and this season is no different. Darius Carter, a senior, will step into a larger role in his second season at WSU. Like most junior college transfers, he progressed throughout the season and scored efficiently when he focused on decisive moves to the basket. If he can add more range to his jumper, he can easily be a double-digit scorer.

 

Transfers Tevin Glass (6’8”) and Bush Wamukota (7’0”) need to supply immediate help. Glass is an energetic power forward who should be able to score on rebounds and breaks without needing to dominate the ball. Wamukota’s primary value will come on defense.

 

Marshall has two freshmen centers to work with, both with legitimate size and skills. Shaq Morris (6’8”) redshirted last season. He is skilled offensively but must overcome nagging injuries and adjust to the competition. Rauno Nurger (6’10”) signed with Ole Miss but was released from his scholarship after an assistant coach left the school.

 

Junior Evan Wessel must regain confidence in his shooting touch. His toughness and hustle make him valuable, but 3-of-25 shooting from 3-point range isn’t good enough.

 

Backcourt

 

WSU’s big men are ahead on the learning curve because of the guards. Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and senior swingman Tekele Cotton will get them in the right places and get them the ball at the right time. That trio is as solid and unselfish as any group in the nation and will nurture the newcomers.

 

Baker is a good shooter (38 percent from 3-point range) with a point guard’s passing ability in the body of a 2 guard. VanVleet is the team leader, so respected that coaches and players listen to and follow his advice. He runs WSU’s pick-and-roll plays with precision.  Cotton earned MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors and is an underrated scorer who can’t be left open behind the arc.

 

WSU survived last season without a backup for VanVleet at the point. Redshirt freshman Ria’n Holland spent the year adding weight and strength. He will play both guard positions. Freshman Corey Henderson Jr. spent the summer learning from VanVleet.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Shockers will miss Early, who played his best on the road and gave the team an athlete who could match up with the NCAA’s top teams. His ability to spread the floor with his outside shooting cleared space for the guards and big men to operate.

 

Once again, however, WSU will enjoy an advantage in depth and athletic ability over its MVC rivals. Its non-conference schedule includes Memphis, Alabama, Seton Hall, Tulsa and Saint Louis, so it should be able to compile a solid power ranking. WSU’s goal is to schedule so that it does not depend on the strength of the MVC, and its recent success has helped attract home-and-home series with high-profile opponents and top neutral-site tournaments.

 

Winning the MVC won’t be enough. The Shockers will expect to grab another good seed in the NCAA Tournament and win more games. The guards are ready, and it will be their job to prepare the newcomers for March.

 

Newcomers

 

Tevin Glass and Bush Wamukota are expected to rebound and defend and adjust quickly from junior college. Shaq Morris is an intriguing talent who can shine if he learns how to play hard consistently. Corey Henderson Jr. can give WSU the backup point guard it lacked last season. Guard Ria’n Holland, who redshirted last season with Morris, is an excellent shooter. Rashard Kelly and Zach Brown can help on the wing, and both are more mature than most freshmen after a year at prep school. WSU picked up Rauno Nurger in the summer, and coaches were thrilled to get a skilled big man with four years to develop.

 

Photo courtesty of Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Wichita State Shockers Team Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /nba/houston-rockets-dallas-mavericks-renew-rivalry-preseason
Body:

Paul Pierce set a hell of a tone for the NBA preseason when he poked the Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah in the forehead. “We’re going to be the instigators,” he said of his new club, the Washington Wizards. After more unusually physical play throughout the game, Wizards big man Dejuan Blair went on to compare the team’s deep, bulky frontcourt to that of the brash, roundly hated Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” teams of a quarter century ago.

Animosity and antagonism continued in the next day of the preseason — this time in Dallas, where the Mavericks hosted their unsavory state rival, the Houston Rockets. Geography has always made the teams natural rivals, but in recent years their tension has grown to soap opera proportions.

 

Rockets GM Daryl Morey heated the bad blood between the two sides by calling Mark Cuban and asking if he’d be willing to trade Dirk Nowitzki, in 2013. Cuban wasn’t amused by the breach of etiquette, and he didn’t forget. This past July, the Mavs owner roped Chandler Parsons away from Houston by offering the restricted free agent a contract the Rockets had to refuse. The deal was designed as a poison pill to the Rockets’ salary cap — it was plus-sized and loaded with unwieldy clauses — and Morey didn't match it, letting his prized forward walk to Houston's in-state adversary.

Parsons is now the Helen of Texas — a figure who’s come to symbolize the volcano of hate between these teams. His friend and ex-teammate James Harden said, shortly after Parsons’ departure, that every Rocket not named Harden or Dwight Howard “is a role player.” Later that week, Parsons had this to say:

 

The game between the two teams Tuesday night was a continuation of their long quarrel. A lot of body-checking and flaring tempers led to a ludicrous 81 combined fouls on Houston and Dallas. Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley could be seen knocking Parsons to the hardwood. Things came to a nervy ending when Rockets rookie Kostas Panikolaou made some big free throws to seal a narrow 111-108 Rockets road victory. 

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /nfl/8-nfl-teams-desperate-need-great-quarterback
Body:
As good as the Seattle Seahawks defense was last season, they don’t win the Super Bowl without Russell Wilson, who only now is beginning to get the recognition he deserves. And look how Peyton Manning transformed the Denver Broncos, or what Andrew Luck is doing in Indianapolis.
 
Having a top quarterback, a franchise quarterback, is everything for an NFL team. And if you don’t believe that, just look at the teams that don’t have one. Either they have no realistic shot at competing for a championship, or worse – they’re just a mess.
 
At the moment there are at least eight teams in a somewhat desperate need for a quarterback, either now or in the future. Here’s a look at those eight and their current quarterback condition. The good news is many of them will be in contention for a Top 5 draft pick where Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or maybe Florida State’s Jameis Winston could be the answer to their prayers:
 

Buffalo Bills

The benching of E.J. Manuel in his second NFL season in favor of well-travelled vet Kyle Orton is a huge indictment of the former first-round pick. His decidedly mediocre numbers and poor decision making didn’t bode well for a coach (Doug Marrone) who may have to answer soon to a new owner. Manuel wasn’t exactly thought of as a once-in-a-generation QB when he was taken, so nobody would be surprised if the Bills look elsewhere again next season if they can.
 

New York Jets

Owner Woody Johnson just expressed his faith in Geno Smith as a franchise quarterback, but then he went out and missed a team meeting (inexcusable for someone in his position) and played so poorly in San Diego he got benched for Michael Vick. He makes terrible decisions on the field, can’t seem to handle the pressure or the responsibility off it, and is now a huge target of the New York media. A new coach is surely on his way next season. May as well let him rebuild with someone else running his offense.
 

Houston Texans

They are 3-2 behind the 31-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick and they have two young, somewhat promising quarterbacks sitting behind him in Ryan Mallet and Tom Savage. But both have plenty of question marks and may not be the long-term answer.  The Texans are not winning because of Fitzpatrick who has more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five). If they had a real quality quarterback they’d probably be 4-1 at least. At some point, coach Bill O’Brien will have to start over with his own guy.
 

Tennessee Titans

If Jake Locker could only stay healthy, maybe he’d look like a franchise quarterback. Then again, maybe not. In his fourth season already he’s put together numbers that would add up to a good, but not exactly great season. Maybe the ability is there, but a franchise can’t be led by a quarterback on the sidelines. Time for the Titans to move on.
 

Washington Redskins

They have maybe the most interesting quarterback situation in the league, with the dangerous and explosive Robert Griffin III constantly getting hurt and Kirk Cousins showing flashes of brilliance, followed by flashes of inconsistency. They’ll obviously have to make a choice between the two, but what about choosing none of them? They could probably trade both for picks and start over with someone that fits Jay Gruden’s system better than either of them do.
 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

To everyone outside the organization, Mike Glennon looks like the future. But inside he sure didn’t seem to win any friends in Lovie Smith’s regime early. Finally they reversed their crazy decision to start Josh McCown at the beginning of the season and Glennon has shown promise. But if the coach doesn’t fully believe in him, can he really succeed?
 

Arizona Cardinals

They’re not desperate for a quarterback there, but obviously Bruce Arians has built a solid team and one that could be well set up for the future. The problem? Carson Palmer will turn 35 in December and Drew Stanton, a limited backup, is 30. Maybe they can squeeze another couple of years out of Palmer, but at some point they need to start planning for future years. They’re probably too good to get a high draft pick, but if they have a chance and have a conviction on a first-rounder, they should pounce.
 

St. Louis Rams

Maybe no franchise quarterback has had worse injury luck than Sam Bradford, who has now suffered back to back ACL tears. Behind him on the depth chart is vet Shaun Hill and undrafted Austin Davis. Though Davis has shown some ability, the Rams are going to get a high pick this year and they’d be wise to take advantage and move on.
 
—By Ralph Vacchiano
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 12:37
Path: /nba/paul-pierce-teaching-washington-wizards-how-talk-trash
Body:

The Washington Wizards broke out of prolonged mediocrity in 2013-14, surprising many with their first-round playoff dismissal of the Chicago Bulls, and subsequent hard-fought loss to the Indiana Pacers. Over the summer, they lost integral wingman Trevor Ariza, but replaced him with a legend: Paul Pierce.

 

The former Boston Celtics star and future Hall of Famer is having an immediate influence on Wizards culture. Asked about his arrival, 21-year-old Washington guard Bradley Beal said, “I think I trash talk a little bit more than I used to. He’s that swagger type of guy that we need.”

 

Fans who watched Pierce’s preseason debut against the Bulls monday night (an 85-81 Wizards win) should hardly be surprised by this rhetoric. Pierce delivered a questionable open-court foul against Jimmy Butler in the game’s early stages, then got into a scuffle with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah. Pierce ended up poking the wily center in the face:

 

This sort of behavior is, as you may have suspected, not exactly common in exhibition games. But Pierce is an elder statesman now, and he appears not to be wasting any time bringing a new, harsher edge to this Wizards squad, a team he thinks can reach the NBA Finals. Pierce recently detailed his thought process before joining the Wizards:

 

“They have one of the best backcourts in basketball. They’re lacking experience, a guy in the locker room and on the court that can help end games. I was like, I probably can fit in. After LeBron said he was going back to Cleveland, the dynamics of the Eastern Conference, with Indiana, I was like, this is a team that could be in the Eastern Conference finals, or possibly the Finals, based on what’s here. And adding me to some of the other veterans they added, I was like, why not?”

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-florida-gators-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 8 Florida has every reason to believe it can pick up where it left off after reaching the Final Four a year ago and three Elite Eights in the three seasons before that. The core of Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Casey Prather are gone, but Billy Donovan has a several players ready to step into starring roles.

 

The Florida edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

Coach Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators reached the Final Four in 2013-14 by winning the old-fashioned way. In a time when one-and-done phenoms command center stage, the Gators won a school-record 30 straight games led by four seniors with a combined 547 games played at UF.

 

Donovan now looks to replace the reigning SEC Player of the Year (point guard Scottie Wilbekin) and SEC Defensive Player of the Year (center Patric Young), along with All-SEC small forward Casey Prather. That trio, plus forward Will Yeguete, accounted for more than half the team’s points, but more important, they anchored a defense that allowed just 57.8 points per game.

 

Still, the future remains bright in Gainesville. 

 

The 2014-15 Gators will be more athletic and explosive than the team that lost to eventual champion UConn in the national semifinals. UF returns one of the nation’s best 3–point shooters, guard Michael Frazier II, ultra-versatile forward Dorian Finney-Smith and two sophomores, point guard Kasey Hill and power forward Chris Walker, who were 2013 McDonald’s All-Americans.

 

With Donovan’s penchant to develop winners, the Gators should challenge for their third straight SEC crown despite the senior losses.

 


No. 8 Florida Gators Facts & Figures

Last season: 36-3, 18-0 SEC

Postseason: NCAA Final Four

Consecutive NCAAs: 5

Coach: Billy Donovan (451-169 at Florida, 195-100 SEC)

SEC Projection: Second

Postseason Projection: NCAA Elite Eight

 


Frontcourt

 

The 6-10, 250-pound Young was three-year starter and a fixture under the basket. But he was prone to lapses of inconsistency and finished his career with just 11 double-doubles in 150 games. The 6-8 Finney-Smith actually led UF in rebounding (6.7 per game) last season coming off the bench. If the 6-10 Walker develops as expected, he will provide a superior shot-blocking presence to Young. Still, Young’s post defense was as good any player in the nation, while his hustle will be impossible to replace.

 

Yeguete was a hard-nosed defender, strong rebounder and garbage man on offense. Michigan transfer Jon Horford, the 6-10 younger brother of Gators legend Al Horford, will look to fill Yeguete’s role.

 

Prather led the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and the SEC in field goal percentage (.603) with his slashing style. Duke transfer Alex Murphy, who will sit out the first semester unless granted an NCAA waiver, will provide scoring punch as a stretch-4 similar to his brother Erik, an All-SEC player at UF in 2012-13. Freshman Devin Robinson can fill it up, too.

 

The key to the Gators’ inside game will be Walker. A top-10 recruit in the Class of ‘13, Walker initially failed to qualify academically and then served a 12-game NCAA suspension for receiving improper benefits during his AAU career. Walker lacked strength at 212 pounds and a feel for the college game. He averaged 1.9 points, 1.3 rebounds and 4.8 minutes, but he has added 15 pounds this offseason and will be expected to man the middle.

 

Backcourt

 

Wilbekin was playing as well as anyone in the nation until he ran into UConn All-American Shabazz Napier during the Final Four. Wilbekin’s on-the-ball defense, clutch shooting and leadership will be missed.

 

Hill plays a different game, using his blinding speed to create seams on drives to the basket and open shots for teammates. But Hill’s outside shooting and defense have a long way to go. Dynamic freshman Chris Chiozza is undersized but explosive. He is expected to back up Hill.

 

Frazier set a school record with 118 3-pointers but struggles to create his own shot. He vastly improved his defense as a sophomore and likes to mix it up on the glass. Frazier averaged 3.5 rebounds. Gifted freshman Brandone Francis should provide additional scoring once he learns the college game.

 

The Gators’ backcourt will get a major boost if guard Eli Carter returns from a lingering leg injury. Carter averaged 14.3 points during two seasons at Rutgers, but broke his leg late in his sophomore season and sat out last year at UF.

 

Final Analysis

 

It is a credit to Donovan’s coaching and recruiting that the Gators should contend for another SEC title. The losses are huge, but the talent is there for UF to make another deep NCAA Tournament run, too. While last year’s team leaned on its defense, clutch scoring and competitive fire, the ’14-15 Gators should be an up-tempo team that will be entertaining to watch. Whether it can win close games will be the key to the season. Florida was 15–2 last season during games decided by fewer than 10 points.

 

Newcomers

 

Jon Horford, a transfer from Michigan, should provide a physical presence off the bench, while Alex Murphy, a transfer from Duke, will offer scoring punch from the perimeter. Devin Robinson was rated a five-star recruit by some services and will be in the rotation. Brandone Francis is a physical specimen, but remains a bit raw. Chris Chiozza is a playmaker who will spell Kasey Hill.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Florida Gators Team Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Kenneth Faried, College Basketball, NBA
Path: /nba/kenneth-faried-denver-nuggets-reach-60-million-deal
Body:

Fresh off an oustanding summer spent as part of Team USA’s dominant run through the FIBA World Cup in Spain, Kenneth Faried has just gotten paid — big time. The relentless power forward, who started next to Anthony Davis for the Americans all summer, has reached a reported five-year, $60 million agreement with the Denver Nuggets.

 

The move can be seen not just as a result of Faried’s terrific FIBA performance, but also as a reaction to news of a new NBA TV deal. If Faried wasn’t worth all those simoleons as soon as a week ago, he probably is now. The $24 billion arrangement between the league, ESPN and Turner (which almost triples the previous one in place) is likely to make the salary cap jump upwards within a few years. By the time Faried’s contract is winding down, his pay rate will be far more equitable to his team.

Known for his long dreadlocks and bouncing, energetic style, Faried is dubbed by affectionate followers as “The Manimal.” His instinctive attack of the glass for rebounds and putbacks has electrified Nuggets fans since his rookie season in 2011-12. This kind of action — Faried putting back a Team USA teammate’s miss (Kyrie Irving’s) — has become quite the familiar basketball sight amidst the Rockies:

 

Later reports suggested the deal could violate the league’s collective bargaining agreement. It is, in so many words, simply too good of a value for Denver. But what’s clear is that they’re willing to pay their forward, and that he wants to stay put for a while. Whether the deal is bumped down to four years or not, Faried appears to be staying with his team.

 

The Nuggets went through a difficult transition year in 2013-14, going 36-46 under new coach Brian Shaw as they lost valuable pieces like Andre Iguodala, Kosta Koufos, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller, Danilo Galinari and Javale McGee through free agency, trades and injuries. They’ll have a hard time making waves in the vaunted Western Conference going forward, but locking down the valuable Manimal is sure to help.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-8-college-football-rankings-week-6
Body:

For the first time in the Legends Poll’s short history, two teams from the state of Mississippi are in the top 5.

 

No. 3 Mississippi State catapulted into the top 5 after a dominating performance over Texas A&M in Starkville Saturday, and the Bulldogs received their first ever first-place vote from Auburn legend Pat Dye. Dye is so high on Mississippi State, he picked them to upset his former team — and now No. 1 in the Legends Poll Top 8 — Auburn this coming weekend.

 

No. 4 Ole Miss also made its first top 5 appearance in the rankings this week after knocking off former No. 1 Alabama 23-17 at home this past Saturday. The Rebels don’t have much time to relax, though, as they travel to Texas A&M this week.

 

Top-ranked Auburn received seven first place votes and the other six went to Florida State, which moved back up a spot to No. 2 in the rankings.

 

Unbeaten Baylor rounded out the top 5, followed by Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

 

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.

 

RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AuburnAuburn (7)5-01045
2Florida StateFlorida State (6)5-0953
3Mississippi StateMississippi State (1)5-083-
4Ole MissOle Miss5-067-
5BaylorBaylor5-0627
6AlabamaAlabama4-1311
7Notre DameNotre Dame5-028-
8Michigan StateMichigan State4-1208
Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 13:40
All taxonomy terms: LeBron James, NBA
Path: /nba/lebron-james-calls-out-nba-owners-again
Body:

The new NBA TV deal is going to make everyone involved with the league a lot of money. It’s worth a reported $24 billion, after all. But, at least in the short term, it’s also dragging out some old grudges. Namely, it reminds us all of the tension between team owners and players during the 2011 NBA lockout, which led to the season starting late, on Christmas day.

 

"We gave a lot," James said to reporters in the wake of the new TV deal, looking back at 2011’s collective bargaining agreement that got the players back on the hardwood, but also put a hard cap on team spending and greatly reduced player salaries. “The whole thing that went on with the last negotiation process was the owners are losing money. There's no way they can sit in front of us and tell us that right now.”

 

$24 billion — this huge number is only the latest signal that owners dishonestly portrayed their earnings in 2011. The $2 billion price tag of the Los Angeles Clippers was a sure sign that basketball’s profits are going through the roof, as was the much-less-reported $550 million that the Milwaukee Bucks (one of the least lucrative franchises in the league) recently sold for, to hedge fund gurus Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry of New York.

 

LeBron James showed this summer just how much clout he carries in the NBA. The league was at a standstill waiting for his decision to return to Cleveland, which set off an eventful chain of free agency events. He then recruited friends and respected peers Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and James Jones to his new team effectively acting as the Cavs' general manager.

The deal James signed this summer only keeps him in Cleveland for two seasons at the most, and he can dangle his ever-precious abilities over NBA executives in Ohio and beyond as soon as next summer, if he’s to opt out of his second year. So when he speaks his mind about the league’s business, you better believe that the brass above is listening.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-louisville-cardinals-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 9 Louisville will play under its fourth different conference banner under Rick Pitino when the Cardinals, formerly of Conference USA, the Big East and American, join the ACC. Pitino has his team ready to contend in yet another league thanks in part to the return of forward Montrezl Harrell, who spurned the NBA draft for a shot at a national title.

 

The Louisville edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

Rick Pitino says that his frontcourt will not take a backseat to any team’s this season. He feels the same way about his backcourt. Pitino is a Hall of Famer who has won conference titles in five different leagues, so even though the Cardinals are making their debut in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Louisville won’t have issues being outcoached.

 

Pitino talks like a coach who expects another top-10 season with a team he believes can play on the brightest national stages, even though the Cards have only one starter left from their 2013 NCAA championship team. Despite Pitino’s confidence in his first five, the coach understands that his bench is unproven. The reserves are talented, but their growth and improvement will determine if Louisville can handle elite teams.

 


No. 9 Louisville Cardinals Facts & Figures

Last season: 31-6, 15-3 American

Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16

Consecutive NCAAs: 8

Coach: Rick Pitino (335-116 at Louisville, 148-62 CUSA/Big East/AAC)

ACC Projection: Third

Postseason Projection: NCAA Sweet 16

 


Frontcourt

 

For two hours last April, Pitino was convinced that Montrezl Harrell was bound for the NBA. He would have been a first-round selection. But two hours after telling Pitino he was leaving, Harrell did a U-turn, saying he was determined to play his way into recognition as one of the top-10 players in the country. Harrell has the force, determination and skills. He must improve his 46 percent free throw stroke and prove he can make the 12-foot jumper. 

 

Wayne Blackshear is the sole remaining starter from the 2013 champs, and Blackshear played off the bench at times last season. Pitino has questioned Blackshear’s commitment to the game. He has also become a player who’s too willing to defer to teammates and settle for perimeter shots.

 

Mangok Mathiang is following the Gorgui Dieng growth pattern. He averaged 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in less than 15 minutes per game, but Pitino loves his ability to block shots and protect the rim. Mathiang needs to make the improvement that Dieng made, playing at the top of the key and passing the ball.

 

Pitino says that he expects Akoy Agau, a sophomore power forward, to be the team’s most improved player, but Agau will have to out-perform four talented freshmen.

 

Chinanu Onuaku, whose older brother, Arinze, played at Syracuse, is the most physically ready to play. Jaylen Johnson, who is 6-9, is considered the most skilled. A pair of 7-footers with foreign backgrounds, Matz Stockman (Norway) and Anas Osama Mahmoud (Egypt), fill out the frontcourt.

 

Backcourt

 

Russ Smith was one of the best players in college basketball the last two seasons, but even Smith says the Cardinals will not have major issues replacing him. Sophomore Terry Rozier was terrific off the bench last season, averaging 7.0 points and less than one turnover in 19 minutes per game. He’s dynamic off the dribble and protects the ball.

 

Pitino does not run a point guard/shooting guard offense, but he is demanding more leadership from Chris Jones, his senior. The coach has asked Jones to lose some weight because he believes that would give Jones the quickness to get into the lane against any defender.

 

Anton Gill, a sophomore, showed a solid shooting stroke in limited minutes, but his push for more playing time won’t be any easier even with the departures of Smith and sharp-shooting Luke Hancock. Quentin Snider was the best high school player in Kentucky last season. He is a combo guard known for his poised decision-making.

 

Pitino is also high on Shaquan Aaron, who follows Peyton Siva and Terrence Williams from Seattle to Louisville. Pitino is already comparing Aaron to former Cardinal Francisco Garcia.

 

Final Analysis

 

Replacing Smith, Hancock and Stephan Van Treese (who started 21 games at center) would seem to be a daunting task, considering all the big shots that Smith and Hancock made the last two seasons.

 

But Pitino is convinced that this will be one of his better teams by the end of the season if Mathiang can make a normal progression and if he can develop at least one of his freshmen. 

 

Pitino might be right about his team. Harrell has the tenacity and ability to play inside with anybody. Blackshear has plenty of big-game experience. Rozier and Jones are capable of averaging more than 20 points per game. A maiden trip through the ACC will only make the season more interesting.

 

Newcomers

 

Shaqquan Aaron is a dynamic scorer and playmaker from the wing. Quentin Snider understands the value of taking good shots but can still make highlight plays. Chinanu Onuaku brings a blue-collar approach to collecting rebounds and defending the paint. Jaylen Johnson needs to add 15 pounds but plays well above the rim. Expect either Matz Stockman or Anas Osama Mahmoud to redshirt. Both will need time.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Louisville Cardinals Team Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, News
Path: /nba/nba-reaches-new-24-billion-tv-deal-espn-turner
Body:

The NBA announced Monday that it’s a reached a new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and Turner. That’s an awful lot of money. The new arrangement — effective starting with the 2016-17 season, and running until 2024-25 — is worth nearly triple the amount of the current one. Annual payments to the league will rise from $930 million to $2.66 billion, according to The New York Times.

 

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported last night that he’d “talked to a few young players tonight about NBA's new TV deal. They are understandably ecstatic. Good time to be a young NBA player.”

 

This lucrative contract means more income for everyone involved—that’s why LeBron James signed his newest deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers for just two years, including a second-year player option. He knew the sport was about to see significantly more TV money, and that it would trickle down to the players soon enough. Barring injuries, it’s safe to expect James to sign for a historically large figure either next summer or in 2016.

 

Here’s more from the NBA’s press release:

 

“Under the agreements, the partners will televise more national regular-season games (ABC/ESPN: 100; Turner: 64) and will continue to do so generally on Wednesdays (ESPN), Thursdays (TNT), Fridays (ESPN), and Sundays (ABC/ESPN). By the end of these new agreements, the NBA’s partnership will reach 41 years with Turner, while the league’s relationship with ABC/ESPN will extend to 23 years. Additionally, NBA TV’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday game telecasts will continue to fill out the schedule, ensuring a full week of nationally televised games. The NBA’s 24-hour network will present over 100 regular-season games each year.”

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 13:31
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/lebron-james-redebuts-cleveland-cavaliers
Body:

The 2014 NBA Preseason began Saturday night, but had its big splash on Sunday when LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers played their first game together at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. James and the Cavs beat their new coach David Blatt’s old squad — Maccabi Tel Aviv, a pro team from Israel—and the competition wasn’t particularly close. 

 

The final was 107-80, a drubbing that featured James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love playing their first game together. The trio didn’t do anything spectacular, but they didn’t need to. Cleveland’s top performer of the game was actually Tristan Thompson, a fourth-year power forward who put up fourteen points and thirteen rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting. He also caught this nifty outlet pass from Love (sure to be the first of many):

 

The contest was all but over when Cleveland opened the second quarter with a 17-6 run, to go up 47-30. When told by an Israeli reporter that the Cavs “smashed” Tel Aviv, Blatt smiled and said: “Those aren’t nice words. Don’t want to use them about my old team.”

 

Things are easy for Cleveland against non-NBA teams, so last night’s result shouldn’t surprise anyone. Perhaps the King and his Cavaliers will face thornier competition in their next battle, which comes against the scorned Miami Heat this Saturday, October 11. Although Dwyane Wade has recently said he and James are still good friends, it’s hard to believe there aren’t some hard competitive feelings between the two that will find their way onto the court.

 

Wade did recently confess that there was a shadowy malaise over LeBron’s final season in Miami. “Throughout that run at certain times, it just wasn’t fun,” Wade told Bleacher Report.

 

— John Wilmes @johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-texas-longhorns-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 10 Texas is a contender in the Big 12 and on the national stage again. Both prospects were far off the radar in recent years under Rick Barnes, but the arrival of Isaiah Taylor and the development of a core group of veterans has put the Longhorns back into the spotlight.

 

The Texas edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

The emergence of a standout freshman point guard last season combined with the addition of a five-star big man this season has the outlook at Texas much brighter.

 

Before last season, the thought was Rick Barnes could be looking at his final year as coach of the Longhorns, coming off three player defections and his first losing season in 15 years at UT.

 

But lightly recruited point guard Isaiah Taylor ended up leading the team in assists (4.0 apg) and nearly leading the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) as Texas returned to the NCAA Tournament, losing to Michigan in the Round of 32.

 

This season, Texas adds five-star big man Myles Turner to a veteran team that could finally get out of the first weekend of the NCAAs for the first time since 2008.

 

“The turnaround happened with those guys last year,” Barnes says. “And then when Myles came to visit, I think he sensed the chemistry going on. And our guys knew Myles could come and help, and they said they’d help him every way they could. You have to have a team — not individuals — and we have that again.”

 


No. 10 Texas Longhorns Facts & Figures

Last season: 24-11 overall, 11-7 Big 12

Postseason: Round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 1

Coach: Rick Barnes (382-166 at Texas, 166-76 Big 12)

Big 12 Projection: Second

Postseason Projection: NCAA Sweet 16

 


Frontcourt

 

Turner arrives at Texas fresh off of a record-setting performance for blocked shots on the gold-medal winning Under-18 U.S. National team coached by Billy Donovan. Turner also arrives with the same kind of fanfare reserved for the likes of former Texas big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Tristan Thompson. Turner may be a more accomplished shot-blocker than those two as an incoming freshman. And Barnes says Turner will have to be defended from the 3-point line, because his range extends beyond 20 feet. But there won’t be pressure for Turner to be a one-man show, because he enters a frontcourt loaded with experience, scoring and shot-blocking.

 

Jonathan Holmes, last year’s leading scorer (12.8 ppg), is the only senior on the team. At 6-8, Holmes and can play inside (7.2 rpg) and force defenders to follow him out to the arc, where he hit 28 3-pointers last season (second-most on the team).

 

Center Cam Ridley comes off an All-Big 12 third-team season in which he averaged 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Ridley also recorded at least four blocks in seven games while averaging 2.2 blocks per game.

 

Junior forwards Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh play important roles in different ways. At 6-9, Lammert can work inside (5.2 rpg) and outside (18 made 3-pointers last season), while Ibeh protects the rim; he had at least three blocked shots in six games last season. 

 

Backcourt

 

Taylor emerged as the main man at the point last season, replacing Javan Felix as the one running things in the final four minutes of a close game. Taylor proved capable of breaking down the defense of most any team, whether against man-to-man (23 points vs Kansas) or zone (27 points vs Baylor). He should only get better in his second season of college basketball.

 

Felix continues to play an important role as one of the team’s best decision-makers and leaders. He is also the team’s biggest threat from 3-point range (61 made 3s at a .343 clip last season).

 

Demarcus Holland, who held Big 12 scorers Juwan Staten of West Virginia and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas well below their averages, will defend the opposing team’s best perimeter player. And backup guards Martez Walker, Demarcus Croaker and Kendal Yancy should all be able to contribute and provide quality depth.

 

Final Analysis

 

Texas has a nice combination of size and speed, experience and depth, and the addition of Turner could make this a special season for the Longhorns. Holmes is the only senior, but Texas could have three others leave school early (Taylor, Ridley and Turner), depending on how the season goes.

 

Barnes loves the chemistry of this group and says his team’s expectations “will be higher than what anybody else says.”

 

“We had gotten the program to the point where we were always talked about going into a season as a top-10 team,” the coach says. “And when that went away, you don’t like it. But these players have a lot of pride and seem determined to make sure Texas is back where it belongs.”

  

Newcomers

 

Five-star freshman Myles Turner comes as a proven shot-blocker who has back-to-the-basket moves over both shoulders as well as 3-point range. Small forward Jordan Barnett will have to prove he can play defense for Rick Barnes before he can show off his ability to score. 

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Texas Longhorns Team Preview
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Wilt Chamberlain, NBA
Path: /nba/wilt-chamberlain-will-be-stamps
Body:

No NBA player has ever graced the imagery of U.S. postage. But that all changes this December, when Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain — perhaps the most dominant baller to ever hit the floor — has a couple dedicated to him. One of the stamps has him in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform, and in the other he’s with the long-defunct Philadelphia Warriors.

 

Look:

 

 

Chamberlain is of course famous for scoring 100 points in one game in 1962, and for being the league’s all-time leading scorer until Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke his record in 1984. His all-time record of 23,924 rebounds has not been surpassed, however. The 7’1” big man was in a league of his own through multiple eras of basketball — save for when he played against Bill Russell, his close friend who always thwarted him with his Boston Celtics dynasties.

But perhaps you’ve heard of Chamberlain for another reason. Namely, his claim to have slept with over 20,000 women in his lifetime. Consider that number an early bar for these stamps to clear: Can they adorn that many envelopes?

The oblong stickers are taller than most, just as Wilt was. They’ll be officially unveiled at a ceremony in Chamberlain’s hometown of Phladelphia, during halftime of a 76ers game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not a lot of professional athletes have graced postage before — the honor is usually reserved for players from America’s oldest favorite sport, baseball. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio are among those previously commemorated, as well as boxer Joe Louis.

 

The crusade to get Chamberlain as the face of your rent checks and letters to grandma was begun by sportswriter Donald Hunt of the Philadelphia Tribune, back in 2008. The wheels of U.S. postage apparently spin as slowly as those of most bureaucracies, so if you’re planning to mount your own stamp campaign, you’d better get started.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 3, 2014 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-6-fantasy-value-plays
Body:

DraftKings has released their Daily Fantasy college football salaries for Week 6, and the experts at CollegeFootballGeek.com have hunkered down and scoured all of the data to find the best Value Plays on the docket. 

These Value Plays are comprised of players poised to out-produce their DraftKings salaries this week.  These are the “diamonds in the rough” that your DFS competitors may overlook.  They are the difference-makers you need in your lineup to win one of the big DFS contests!

For your convenience, we have broken the picks down by DraftKings contest game set. Best of luck this week!

(For more detailed Daily Fantasy analysis, picks, player news, player rankings, and stat breakdowns, check out
CollegeFootballGeek.comLearn how to SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!)

**********

VALUE PLAYS: SATURDAY (EARLY ONLY) GAME SET


QUARTERBACKS

 
1)    QB Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State vs. Clemson ($6100)

Brissett threw for 359 yards and three scores last week against Florida State. He has been very consistent this year and could find success against Clemson in what could be a shootout.


RUNNING BACKS

1)    RB Marshawn Williams, Va Tech vs. North Carolina ($3700)

Williams appears to be coming on and could see even more carries with Shai McKenzie out for the season. The UNC defense is terrible and could give up plenty of chunk plays to William this week. Look for Williams to find pay dirt this week.

 

2)    RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia vs. Kansas ($4100)

Shell has scored in three straight games and looks to have locked up the starting RB job for the Mountaineers. He could have a very big day against a putrid Kansas defense. Expect Shell to easily hit value this week.

 

3)    RB Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State ($4200)

Roland has scored three rushing touchdowns in the last two games and appears to be rounding into form. He has a juicy match up with the Cyclones 111th ranked rush defense. Look for Roland to find his way into the end zone for the third straight week.

 


WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss vs. Alabama ($4300)

Treadwell finally awoke from his slumber last week with 123 yards and two scores against Memphis. He has a tough match up this week with Alabama, but could be leaned on heavily. His price is enticing, so be sure to look his way.

 

2)    WR Mike Williams, Clemson vs. NC State ($4600)

Willams recorded 122 yards and two scores last week against North Carolina. He comes in at a great price this week and has huge potential against NC State. He could be a nice plug and play option this week.

 

 

TIGHT END

 

1)    TE Steven Walker, Colorado State vs. Tulsa ($3000)

Walker has been productive in filling in for Kivon Cartwright. He could find plenty of open space against a miserable Tulsa defense. He looks like a nice punt option.



VALUE PLAYS:  SATURDAY (LATE ONLY) GAME SET


QUARTERBACKS

 

1)    QB Mike Bercovici, Arizona State vs. USC ($5200)

Bercovici threw for 488 yards and three scores against UCLA last week while filling in for Taylor Kelly. He likely won’t hit those numbers this week, but could post solid numbers and hit value against the Trojans.

 


RUNNING BACKS

 

1)    RB Jordan Howard, UAB vs. Western Kentucky ($4300)

Howard ran for 100 yards last week and could easily hit that mark this week against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers rush defense ranks 116th in the nation and routinely gets gashed. Look for Howard to break a couple of long runs this week.

 

2)    RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State vs. Nebraska ($4700)

Langford has been plagued by blow out games this year and has not got into any type of rhythm as of yet. He could see a ton of carries this week against Nebraska and could easily find the end zone a couple of times.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

1)    WR D’haquille Williams, Auburn vs. LSU ($4700)

Williams has scored in three of four games this season and is the top option in the Tigers passing game. He has a tough match up this week against LSU, but could easily hit value in this SEC showdown.

- By Todd DeVries and Kevin Mount, CollegeFootballGeek.com


**********

Learn how to SUBSCRIBE to CollegeFootballGeek.com for FREE! Our members earn REAL CASH MONEY playing Daily Fantasy on DraftKings.   Features include:

 

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Teaser:
College Fantasy Football: Week 6 Fantasy Value Plays
Post date: Friday, October 3, 2014 - 11:45
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-nebraska-cornhuskers-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 11 Nebraska ended a 16-year NCAA Tournament drought last season, but the Cornhuskers return enough firepower to contend for more. Tim Miles has built a program ready to contend in the Big Ten — a league in which many of the usual contenders are in a state of transition.

 

The Nebraska edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

Never mind that Nebraska, led by co-Big Ten Coach of the Year Tim Miles, is coming off its most celebrated season in more than 20 years. Junior guard Terran Petteway, who averaged 18.1 points to lead the Big Ten in scoring, wants more after the Huskers fizzled with first-round losses in the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

 

“The way we finished last year, we don’t want that taste in our mouth,” says Petteway, one of four returning starters for a Nebraska team that finished 19–13. “This year, we’re trying to win the Big Ten. We’re not trying to come in fourth, we’re not trying to come in third. We want to win it.”

 

That’s with all due respect to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State, teams Petteway says “are going to be pretty good.”

 

Unlike previous seasons, those teams won’t be looking past Nebraska. Not after the Huskers, picked to finish last in the Big Ten, pulled a few upsets, gained steam late and finished a surprising 11–7 — good for fourth place.

 

“The little stretch we went on last year, I think everybody took notice of that,” Petteway says. “This year, it’s not going to be, ‘Oh, Nebraska’s coming, whoopty-doo.’ People are going to be preparing for us. We can’t be no one-hit wonder. We got to make a name for ourselves. This second year is going to be big, because we’re not going to sneak up on nobody. Everybody’s going to be ready for us now.”

 


No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers Facts & Figures

Last season: 18-13 overall, 11-7 Big Ten

Postseason: Round of 64

Consecutive NCAAs: 1

Coach: Tim Miles (34-32 overall at Nebraska, 16-20 Big Ten)

Big Ten Projection: Second

Postseason Projection: NCAA Sweet 16

 


Frontcourt

 

Void of depth in the post last season, Nebraska signed fifth-year senior transfer Moses Abraham (who went by Moses Ayegba during his career at Georgetown). The 6-9, 247-pound Abraham is a physical veteran presence inside who may not add much offensively but can rebound, block shots and, in general, be that rim protector the Huskers have sorely missed. 

 

Only now, Abraham, who averaged a mere 13.1 minutes last season, will need to prepare himself for a heavier workload as Nebraska deals with the loss of senior forward Leslee Smith, who suffered an ACL tear July 3 playing for his native British Virgin Islands team in the FIBA Caribbean Championships. It’s uncertain when or if Smith, the Huskers’ first post player off the bench, will return, but it could mean true freshman center Jake Hammond may have to nix plans to redshirt. 

 

Nebraska does return 6-10 junior Walter Pitchford, who started inside last season but is anything but a traditional big man. More of a stretch-4, Pitchford shot a team-best 41 percent on 3-pointers last season. Redshirt freshman Nick Fuller, a 6-6 forward, is a left-handed shooter with range who could also crack the rotation.

 

Backcourt

 

Petteway figures to become Nebraska’s first NBA Draft pick since Venson Hamilton in 1999. Whether that happens this season or next isn’t of concern now to Petteway, who’s concentrating more on improving his game and helping the Huskers win their first NCAA Tournament game in school history. Petteway made a living getting to the rim and scoring in transition, but he needs to shore up his perimeter shooting and, most important, reverse a rather unsightly 52-to-88 assist-to-turnover stat line. 

 

Junior Shavon Shields, with a game very similar to Petteway’s, gives Nebraska a strong one-two punch on the wing. Coaches are counting on a much-improved Tai Webster at guard after the sophomore lost confidence and tailed off down the stretch of a freshman season that didn’t meet lofty expectations. And don’t underestimate the importance of junior Benny Parker off the bench. The diminutive Parker, while not known for his offense, can spark his team with defensive intensity and his ability to move the ball in transition. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Nebraska ended its NCAA Tournament drought — which had dated to 1998 — when many least expected it. The Huskers lose only one main contributor, guard Ray Gallegos, and boast a headline player in Petteway. While these Huskers won’t sneak up on Big Ten teams like they did last season, they have enough scoring options, a salty enough defense and a savvy enough coach to continue their momentum in a league dotted with question marks after the first four or five teams. Anything less than an upper-half finish would be a disappointing step backward, with another top-four finish the ultimate goal in Miles’ third season.

 

Newcomers

 

Georgetown fifth-year transfer Moses Abraham and his 7-4 wing span should help improve Nebraska’s rim protection. True freshman Jake Hammond, a 6-10, 227-pound center, had planned on redshirting to increase his weight and strength, but the injury to Leslee Smith may change those plans. True freshman Tarin Smith could vie for a starting job at point guard, allowing Tai Webster to play more minutes at the off guard.

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Nebraska Cornhuskers Team Preview
Post date: Friday, October 3, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, News
Path: /nba/nba-has-discussed-eliminating-free-throws
Body:

Nobody watches basketball for the free throws. Tedious, tiring and largely unathletic acts, they slow down every NBA game. This is an observation you’ve probably heard at a bar or on a couch before, but recently the notion of free throws as a total snoozefest has also been discussed by NBA brass.

 

A collection of “the league’s basketball operations folks and rule geeks,” as reported by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, has discussed the prospect of condensing every trip to the foul strike to just one shot. So: The fouled shooter would take one foul shot, worth two points. This rule, if instituted, would shave an estimated five minutes off of game time.

 

One might laugh this concept off as mere theory, unlikely to ever take form in reality. But new league commissioner Adam Silver — who took the helms from David Stern this past February — just may be progressive enough to pass a rule so seemingly experimental. His open, forward tenor is largely different from his predecessor’s, and his swift, judicious handling of Donald Sterling’s dismissal as Los Angeles Clippers owner shows he’s a man of action.

 

Silver has previously said he’d also consider the idea of having one extra referee, off the floor, dedicated solely to video review. This is another measure that could speed up the game — which, truth be told, is not exactly slow as it is. But perhaps the NBA sees an opportunity to become America’s number one sport, as the NFL struggles with repeated PR disasters, and the league is taking any marginal step it can to entice fans ready to jump ship.

 

Less waiting, more dunking is a pretty good selling point. But a shot of speed to one of the world’s faster team sports should be appealing to fans regardless of whether it helps basketball’s TV ratings. There’s no need to fill space with a redundant, stale skill competition — that’s exactly the kind of boring rubbish we turn towards sports to escape. Let’s make basketball more exciting.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Peyton Manning, Ty Lawson, NBA
Path: /nba/ty-lawson-brian-shaw-denver-nuggets-plan-visit-peyton-manning
Body:

The comparisons to be made between basketball and football are limited. The former is a continuous game of barely-clad bodies, speeding balletically past each other to score over and over. The latter is a gridiron stop-start of bone-crunching brutality between men in veritable armor, where all points are hard-earned.

But an NBA point guard can certainly learn a lot from an NFL quarterback — the most stressful public position in America, just inches behind Commander in Chief. That’s why Denver Nuggets second-year coach Brian Shaw wants to take his team’s speedy young general, Ty Lawson, a few high miles over to Denver Broncos practice, where he can ostensibly learn from the very best in game management: Peyton Manning.

“I want to take him to a Broncos practice so he can see Peyton Manning and how he directs traffic, and how everybody falls in line behind him. But they only do that because they know the work ethic that he has and the time he puts in, and they respect that,” Shaw said at Nuggets training camp.

 

Lawson chimed in on the idea, too: “I definitely just want to see how he runs his team. To see whether he's yelling and screaming the whole time, or if he's just talking. What his tone is when he's talking to players. I want to see what his mindset is during practice.”

This isn’t the first time Lawson and football have been mentioned in the same news item. Just weeks ago, Lawson took to social media during a pitiful Dallas Cowboys defensive performance to clown on both the ‘Boys and Western Conference rival James Harden, the Houston Rockets superstar known, increasingly, for his own porous D.

 

Here’s Lawson’s unforgettable Instagram joke:

 

The Nuggets are looking to bounce back in 2014-15, after a rough 36-46 season in which they missed the playoffs. If sense of humor and non-traditional learning are any indication of court savvy, then Denver fans have plenty of cause for hope.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

(h/t Matt Moore, CBS Sports)

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2014-15-villanova-wildcats-team-preview
Body:

College basketball season is creeping up fast, and Athlon Sports is counting down to Midnight Madness and the start of practice on Oct. 17. 

 

No. 12 Villanova is built to win the Big East for a second consecutive season, something the Wildcats haven’t done since 1982-83. But with four starters returning, Villanova will be expected to do more than just win the new Big East, especially after losing in the round of 32 as a No. 2 seed last season.

 

The Villanova edition is one of dozens available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere now.

 

With 15 minutes remaining in their Round of 32 game, Villanova was leading Connecticut and seemed to have some momentum after back-to-back James Bell 3-pointers.

 

That quickly changed.

 

UConn outscored the Wildcats by 13 points over the final 15 minutes, beating Villanova en route to the national championship.

 

“After the game, it was crushing and disappointing,” coach Jay Wright says. “But as you saw them go on, you respected their performance more and became less disappointed in yours.”

 

With only two players gone from last season — including Bell — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Villanova making a deep run in this season’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are certainly the Big East favorite.

 

“If we handle it well, I like it. If we don’t handle it well, I don’t like it,” Wright says of the expectations. “If I was given the choice, I would like to be in that position.”

 


No. 12 Villanova Wildcats Facts & Figures

Last season: 29-5, 16-2 Big East

Postseason: Round of 32

Consecutive NCAAs: 2

Coach: Jay Wright (285-149 overall at Villanova, 124-79 Big East)

Big East Projection: First

Postseason Projection: NCAA Sweet 16

 


The loss of Bell will hurt Villanova, as the first-team All-Big East performer was Villanova’s top scorer and brought senior leadership.

 

Although he’s not expected to do it on his own, sophomore Josh Hart will get the first crack at replacing Bell. He showed flashes, notching eight straight double-figure games in December and January, and scoring 18 points against Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament.

 

“He had a great freshman year,” Wright says. “He picked things up really quickly. I saw a resiliency from him, and he continued that same way in the offseason. He keeps getting better and better.”

 

Senior Jayvaughn Pinkston followed that path the past three seasons, and is now expected to be a dominant performer on a more consistent basis. At 6-7, 260 pounds, Pinkston can be a load in the paint.

 

“I do expect him to be one of the best players in the Big East,” Wright says. “He needs to go to another level this year. Impact a game consistently, night-in, night-out.”

 

Wright is very excited about the improvement of center Daniel Ochefu. He came on strong down the stretch, blocking shots and rebounding, while also using his passing ability at the other end.

 

Sophomore Kris Jenkins, who lost 43 pounds last year, and freshman Mikal Bridges will provide depth, along with sophomore Darryl Reynolds.

 

Backcourt

 

As always, Villanova will have one of the best backcourts in the country. There’s no physical, attack-minded force like Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye or Corey Fisher, but Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard complement each other well.

 

Arcidiacono made waves as a freshman two seasons ago, but he also had some issues with turnovers and decision-making. Last season, his scoring numbers were down, but his percentages and assist-to-turnover ratio went up. “He did exactly what we wanted our guards to do,” Wright says. “As a freshman, he came in aggressively and made a lot of mistakes. As a sophomore, he used his aggressiveness to be smarter. He’s getting more and more efficient.”

 

Hilliard is a leading candidate for Big East Player of the Year. Known mostly as an outside shooter, the lefty has expanded his offensive game. He finished the season on a high note, averaging 17.3 points in March. “I expect him to develop into a great leader on this team,” Wright says. “He’s one of the best guards in the country.”

 

There’s solid help on the bench. Dylan Ennis, older brother of recent draft pick Tyler Ennis, didn’t adapt as quickly as some thought last season, but he can do a little bit of everything. Freshman Phil Booth brings scoring and ball-handling.

 

Final Analysis

 

Villanova’s only two losses in conference play last season were by a combined 49 points to Creighton, and with Doug McDermott gone, the Wildcats are clearly the Big East favorite.

 

The pieces are there for a deep March run. The Cats have terrific guard play in Arcidiacono and Hilliard; a bruising forward in Pinkston; and solid role players who are getting better in Ochefu and Hart. Replacing Bell — both in terms of production and leadership — will be the key.

 

If Hart can pick up the slack, though, there aren’t many better starting fives in the country. Throw in improvements from some of the younger players, and we could be talking about last season’s loss to UConn as a stepping stone to a Final Four run.


Newcomers

 

It wasn’t a big recruiting class, but Jay Wright picked up two quality complementary pieces in Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges. Both players are low-maintenance guys, and will accept a backup role until it’s their turn. Booth can bring scoring and solid point guard play, while Bridges is long and athletic. 

Teaser:
College Basketball 2014-15: Villanova Wildcats Team Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/greatest-derek-jeter-moments
Body:

The game of baseball celebrates its heroes and greatest moments unlike any other sport in the world. Our favorite players are immortalized within our ballparks, and in our memories. Their stories are passed down from generation to generation, and their moments have stamped our lives as if they were meant for us specifically.

 

Our grandparents would tell us of Ted Williams’ last at bat in Boston, a home run to deep right center field in a half-empty Fenway. Our parents told us about Hank Aaron smashing an Al Downing hanging breaker into the left field bullpen on a brisk, April night in Atlanta to become the all-time home run king. Our generation will tell stories of Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

 

Jeter wasn’t a slugger, hitting mammoth moon shots that left us in awe, and he never hit more than 24 in a season. He was a good shortstop, not a great one, but Jeter had the ability to make the plays that left your jaw dropped. The backhanded stab, running deep into the hole, jump throw against his momentum, on a rope to first, was his trademark. Not too many shortstops could do that, ever.

 

Derek Jeter’s career has become iconic, not just within baseball, but for all sports. The greatest players in the game all have their signature moments that last forever; Jeter has a catalog. Here are the top five career-defining moments of Derek Jeter’s fantastic career.

 

THE DIVE - July 1, 2004

The Yankees and Red Sox rivalry is always in full swing, even in the dog days of July. Boston right fielder and left-handed batting Trot Nixon hit a cue shot on a pitch away that shot straight up and towards the shallow left field foul line, behind the third base bag. Jeter, sprinting from his position at shortstop, never took his eyes off the pop fly. Jeter made the catch, running full bore along the foul line, not able to stop his momentum before having to dive into the third row of the Old Stadium, face first. Jeter emerged from the crowd battered and bloodied under his right eye and on his chin, a testament to how Jeter played the game, 100% every day.

 

THE FLIP - Oct. 13, 2001

The Yankees were on the road and facing elimination down two games to none against the 102-win Oakland As. In the bottom of the 7th, Terrence Long ripped a line drive along the right field line, Yankee outfielder Shane Spencer corralled the ball in the corner and fired it towards home and catcher Jorge Posada, missing two cut-off men. The A's Jeremy Giambi was rounding third, trucking towards home and towards a tie game as the ball appeared to die in-between home and first…then Jeter happened. In what could be the most heady, intelligent baseball play in Postseason history, Jeter sprinted from his short stop position, realizing Spencer’s throw from deep right field wasn’t going to make it home, scooped up the ball and flipped it towards Posada. Giambi, assuming the ball was going to die alone the baseline, didn't slide and was tagged in the leg just before touching home.

 

Without Jeter’s intuition and guts, Game 3 is tied and the Yankees are more than likely sent home early. Instead, the Bronx Bombers hold onto the 1-run lead and then rally to beat the As in Games 4 and 5, and marched towards another World Series.

 

FOX broadcaster Thom Brennaman summarized “The Flip” as it happened: “Derek Jeter, with one of the most unbelievable plays you will ever see from a shortstop!” Spot on, Thom.

 

DJ3K - July 9, 2011

Getting 3,000 hits in a career all but assures a Cooperstown enshrinement. Derek Jeter decided that getting a patented inside out single to right field, like he had done countless times, wasn't going to be good enough for such a milestone.

 

Instead, the Yankee captain came to the plate in the bottom of the 3rd, with a 1-0 deficit against arguably the best pitcher in baseball, David Price — all while the New York faithful chanted “Der-ek Je-ter” as they had done so many times before — and sent a low-and-in breaking curveball to deep left field.

 

“See ya! History with an exclamation point!” said Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay, who continued: “Derek Jeter has done it in grand style.”

 

Typical Jeter.

 

While Jeter rounded first base, Rays first baseman, Casey Kotchman tipped his cap to the captain, followed by a standing ovation from Yankee fans, and the visiting Rays. Christian Lopez, the man who caught the famed homer, gave the ball back to Jeter, and asked for nothing in return.

 

Jeter is the first and only member of the 3,000 hit club in the Yankees' illustrious history.

 

MR. NOVEMBER - Nov. 1, 2001

After the attacks of 9/11, America was in a state of shock and looking for answers. Our way of life was completely thrown off track. The closest thing that we could find to normalcy was postseason baseball.

 

Sure enough, the Yankees were able to rally past a two-games to-none-deficit at the hands of the Oakland As, and defeat the 116-win Seattle Mariners four-games-to-one in the ALCS.

 

Just seven weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the Yankees found themselves in a two-games-to-one hole to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the city of New York found itself torn between grieving and cheering. At that time, the Yankees were much more than a baseball team; they were representing New York City, and really, the nation as a whole. Just across town from old Yankee Stadium, New York’s bravest continued the cleanup and rescue effort at Ground Zero, and families continued to mourn. This was the one World Series where the rest of the country wanted the Yankees to win.

 

Derek Jeter came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning of a three-three game — at midnight on Nov. 1. It was the first time in the history of the game that the Fall Classic had been played during the month of November. The video board in right field even said: “Welcome to November Baseball.” At the time, Jeter was batting just 1-for-15 in the series.

 

With two outs, Jeter battled back from an 0-2 count and took the 3-2 pitch from Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim the other way, a line drive to the right field corner. It barely cleared the short porch Stadium wall.

 

Mr. November was born…and a city was lifted, even if for one night.

 

A BRONX GOODBYE - Sept. 25, 2014

For the first time in Jeter’s career, he didn’t want the ball hit to him at his shortstop home. The Captain was showing his emotions all night, often fighting back tears, adjusting his cap in anxiousness. What should have been a 5-2 win in the top of the ninth for the Yankees, quickly turned into a 5-5 tie thanks to home runs from Orioles Adam Jones and Steve Pearce.

 

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, a runner on second, and Yankee fans standing and chanting their captain’s name, the echo of Bob Sheppard’s introduction rang out one last time: “Now batting for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter…number two.”

 

Jeter, with his signature inside-out swing, took the first pitch to right field to plate the winning run for the Yankees.

 

The game didn't matter in the standings, as the Orioles had already clinched the AL East and the Yankees were already eliminated from Postseason contention, but that moment will resonate within the game of baseball forever.

 

This generation’s greatest sports icon was finally walking away from the lights of New York and the National Pastime on his own terms. After being mobbed by his current teammates, and embracing his old ones, Jeter slowly began to walk around the infield of Yankee Stadium, taking it all in, letting the love wash over him.

 

He walked over to where he has played for the past 20 seasons, between second and third base, where he won his five Gold Gloves, and lowered himself. His final act was done.
   

— Jake Rose

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 15:01
Path: /nba/cleveland-cavaliers-and-washington-wizards-are-beefing
Body:

On NBA Media Day, everybody gets to be number one. All the ideals of the upcoming season are fresh, unspoiled by the slog of reality. Players spout off about MVP candidacy, their new-and-improved shooting form and how much they love all of their teammates — soon-to-be champions, all of them.


Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was more than bursting with such optimistic energy in D.C. on Monday. The 21-year-old said he and point guard John Wall — a first-time All-Star last season — are “definitely the best backcourt in the league.”

 

Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving react to Bradley Beal's claim that the Wizards have the league's best backcourt.
Dion Waiters didn’t like that. The mercurial Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard (known primarily for his role in the team’s locker room unrest last year, reportedly feuding with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson) replied with “that’s nonsense,” when asked what he thought of Beal’s claim. Following a Tuesday practice, Waiters said that “He’s not messing with me and Ky[rie Irving]. I think me and Ky are the best backcourt, young backcourt. That’s all.”

 

While it’s an encouraging sign for Cavs chemistry to see Waiters referring to frenemy Irving with a nickname, his defense also begat a war of words. When poked for a rebuke, Wall slighted Waiters. “They haven’t seen a playoff game yet, so when they make one they can start talking. But if you’re going to be the best backcourt, you have to start,” Wall said after practice Tuesday, twisting the knife in Waiters’ wound over often being pushed into a sixth man role. “This is the year he’s probably starting, so let’s see who’s got the best backcourt. You’ve got to be a starting backcourt to be the best backcourt.”

Cleveland and Washington last regularly exchanged tempers when LeBron James was a Cavalier for the first time. Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were thorns in the King’s side for multiple postseasons of that era. While a returned, wiser James may now be beyond speaking ill of other teams, it seems a younger generation is more than happy to renew the flames of rivalry.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 14:00

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