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All taxonomy terms: Atlantic 10, VCU Rams, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-vcu-preview
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This preview and more on VCU and the Atlantic 10 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 18 VCU Facts & Figures
Last season: 27-9 (12-4 Atlantic 10)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 32
Coach: Shaka Smart (111-17 at VCU)
Atlantic 10 projection: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Shaka Smart had something to prove last season. VCU stepped up in weight class from the Colonial to the Atlantic 10, and many wondered if Smart’s Rams could validate their recent postseason success given a grueling regular season. VCU finished second in the A-10 and won an NCAA Tournament game for the third straight year. Check.

This season, Smart adds a weapon he’s not had since coming to VCU four seasons ago — depth. The Rams can legitimately go 10-to-11 players deep this season, a boon to their physically demanding havoc style that led the nation in turnover percentage and steal percentage last year.

“We’ve got about five guys, maybe six, that can potentially play minutes at point guard spot,” says Smart. “It’s not necessarily that we have point guards as much as we have point guard options. Terrance (Shannon) gives us low-post options, too. The good thing is that we have juniors and seniors that have been a part of a lot of winning.”

Frontcourt

Shannon, a 6-8, 240-pound workhorse who transferred to VCU from Florida State for his final college season. Shannon “gets it,” according to Smart, and was FSU’s third-leading scorer (8.9 ppg) and leading rebounder (6.5 rpg) last season before injuring his neck.

Shannon will take some of the physical play away from 6-9 Juvonte Reddic, a second-team All-A-10 performer. Reddic is a silky-smooth scorer who appears on most NBA Draft boards. In fact, Reddic was invited to the prestigious Amare Stoudemire Skills Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy. Reddic put up 16 points and 13 rebounds against Duke’s Mason Plumlee and had seven double-doubles in a 10-game stretch during the middle of the conference season.

“He can be dominating when he brings it,” says Smart, “and we’ve been working on Juvonte bringing it every night. To his credit, he’s done a phenomenal job with it over his career, but we want more.”

Treveon Graham played the 4 spot in Smart’s four-guard offense and is a threat all over the court. Graham is a 36.6 percent 3-point shooter but earned the nickname Freight Train for his ability to drive straight to the rim and absorb contact to score or get to the foul line. Graham is a pure scorer who averaged more than 15 points per game last season and also earned second-team All-A-10 honors.

Jarred Guest is a wiry 6-8, and his length is nightmarish for opponents trying to beat the press. Guest snared more offensive rebounds (45) than defensive rebounds (43).

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

There is no doubt that the meat of this team resides in its backcourt, and Smart has a cadre quick and athletic guards. Finding minutes for his options may be the coach’s biggest issue.

Senior Rob Brandenberg and junior Briante Weber are the incumbents. Brandenberg is a slasher of the highest magnitude and one of the best in the nation at turning the corner at the elbow. He’s also changed his shot to become a weapon from beyond the arc. Smart notes that Brandenberg had an outstanding summer.

Weber is the embodiment of havoc. He led the nation in steal percentage in both of his first two seasons and nabbed 10 thefts against NCAA Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast. The point guard spot will be Weber’s to lose.

Both will be pushed hard by newcomers Jordan Burgess and Doug Brooks. Smart makes no bones about the impact Burgess can make. “He was the toughest player on the team last year,” Smart says of the redshirt freshman.

Sharpshooting Melvin Johnson may hold the biggest key to VCU’s success because Smart has to replace Troy Daniels and his school-record 124 3-pointers. Billed as a dead-eye shooter, Johnson displayed more of a mid-range game in his freshman season. Johnson has that New York guard savvy and can score in a seemingly unlimited number of ways.

Newcomers

Mo Alie Cox redshirted last season but is a muscled 6’6 and carries a 7’3” wingspan. Jordan Burgess is another redshirt who would have seen plenty of minutes last season had he been playing. Doug Brooks has all the trappings of another Briante Weber on defense, and he can shoot the basketball. Point guard JeQuan Lewis will be thrown on the court to see how he fares. Antravious Simmons needs to reshape his body, but he could find his way onto the court.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 17. VCU was 17–0 last season when senior Rob Brandenberg scored 11 or more points.


Point guard is the big question mark, although Smart is not fazed. “We have this conversation every two years,” says the coach. “Who replaces Eric (Maynor)? Who replaces Joey (Rodriguez)? The point guard position more than anything is getting into the offense and spearheading the defense.”

Toughness is a word the VCU coaches are also using. With Shannon and Burgess, VCU figures to be a much tougher team. Perhaps that’s the missing ingredient for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The talent is certainly there.

*Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 VCU Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-tennessee-preview
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This preview and more on Tennessee and the SEC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 17 Tennessee Facts & Figures
Last season: 20-13 (11-7 SEC)
Postseason: NIT first round
Coach: Cuonzo Martin (39-28 at Tennessee)
SEC projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
An SEC Payer of the Year candidate at shooting guard, two potential all-league forwards, a high-impact transfer and a 5-star freshman. Life is good on Rocky Top — unless you like expectations.

Still itching the burn of back-to-back NIT appearances, Tennessee third-year head coach Cuonzo Martin states the obvious for 2013-14.

“(The NCAA Tournament) is very important,” Martin says. “You have the personnel to be there, so you should be there. That part should be understood. It’s a given.”

Martin is 39–28 and 21–13 in SEC play since coming to Tennessee from Missouri State. He’s notched nine top-25 wins and is the only coach other than Kentucky’s John Calipari to have beaten every league team over the last two-year span. The one thing he hasn’t done at Tennessee, however, is coach in the NCAA Tournament.

Frontcourt

This conversation begins with Jeronne Maymon’s left knee, shifts to Jarnell Stokes’ production and ends with a question of depth.

Both Maymon and Martin have said the former Marquette transfer will be 100 percent for 2013-14. That was said last offseason, however, and his surgically repaired knee never fully healed. At his peak, Maymon is one of the SEC’s top inside presences, proven when he averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in 2011-12. Even if he’s ready to go when the Vols open the season, it will likely take time for Jeronne Maymon to look like Jeronne Maymon.

No one wants that process to progress more than Stokes. The 6-8, 260-pound fire hydrant continually complained last season about battling double-teams. After in-season adjustments, Stokes averaged 13.1 points and 10.7 rebounds in SEC play. He flirted with the NBA Draft, but questions surrounding his scoring ability, athleticism and motor brought him back.  

The lone true reserve frontcourt player is 6-10, 280-pound junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye. Sophomore Derek Reese, a long and lean wing, will see some time at the 4, along with undersized banger Quinton Chievous and freshman A.J. Davis.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Former point guard Trae Golden is gone and no one seems fazed. The two-year starter announced his transfer from UT in the summer and was eventually replaced on the roster by Memphis transfer Antonio Barton.

Whereas Golden was a score-first guard and a defensive liability, Barton is a pass-first leader and a gritty defender. The latter is a far better fit for Tennessee.

Barton averaged 5.6 points and 1.1 assists in 16.7 minutes per game last season and left the Tigers amicably after Joe Jackson decided to return for his junior year. At Tennessee, Barton will be asked to initiate Martin’s motion offense, defend like a hound dog and hit timely 3-pointers.

If he does, the scoring door will swing open for first-team All-SEC shooting guard Jordan McRae, versatile wing Josh Richardson and smooth shooting freshman Robert Hubbs.

McRae’s senior campaign is worthy of attention. The gangly 6-6 scorer staged an impromptu SEC Player of the Year campaign after coming off the bench in 10 of the season’s first 11 games. He started the rest of the way and led the Vols in scoring (15.7 ppg), minutes played (33.6 mpg), 3-pointers made (60) and 3-point percentage (.355).

Though a capable scorer from mid-range and off the bounce, Richardson is relied on for defense. He drew the toughest defensive assignment last year. Hubbs comes with hype and will be expected to add a scoring spark for the Vols. Armani Moore took over point guard duties midway through last season as a freshman, helping UT win eight of its final nine regular-season games. He’ll split backup minutes with incoming freshman Darius Thompson.

Newcomers

Robert Hubbs, a 6-6 shooting guard , is a gifted scorer with range beyond the 3-point line. He’s joined by fellow incoming guards Darius Thompson and Antonio Barton, a Memphis transfer. Barton will likely start from Day 1, backed up by Thompson. A.J. Davis, the son of NBA veteran Antonio Davis, isn’t as physically imposing as his father, but is athletically gifted at 6-9, 208 pounds. Junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye will be a reserve center.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 37.7. Jordan McRae averaged an SEC-high 37.7 minutes per game in conference action last season. Though he flourished, averaging 19.2 points in league play, coach Cuonzo Martin wants a more manageable workload for his star shooting guard in 2013-14.


As much as Tennessee has coming back in 2013-14 is as much as it will lose come 2014-15. McRae, Maymon and Barton are all seniors and Stokes is eyeing the 2014 NBA Draft. If Martin is going to lead the Vols to their first NCAA Tournament since Bruce Pearl’s departure, this is the year.

“They want to be an NCAA Tournament team,” Martin says. “They’re hungry. They’ve been attacking offseason workouts.”

With Kentucky projected to be a top-5 team, Tennessee should hang with Florida for next-best in the SEC. All the pieces are there. Much of how far the Vols go hinges on Maymon’s knee and Barton’s play at the point.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

 

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Tennessee Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/2013-legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-9
Body:
After another eye-opening offensive performance, Baylor moved up another spot in the Legends Poll and made its first ever top 5 appearance.
 
The fifth-ranked Bears continued their dominance at Kansas, pounding the Jayhawks 59-14 on the road, setting up a Big 12 showdown with Oklahoma Thursday, Nov. 11.
 
No. 1 Alabama remained atop the Legends Poll rankings, followed still by Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State. But Florida State continued gaining ground on Oregon following its 49-17 win over NC State in Legends Poll Voter Bobby Bowden’s return to Doak Campbell Stadium.
 
No. 6 Stanford dropped a spot and was followed by Miami (FL), Clemson, Auburn and Oklahoma. Ninth-ranked Auburn moved into the top 10 for the first time this season.
 
No. 11 Missouri tumbled four spots in the rankings following a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of No. 15 South Carolina. No. 14 Texas Tech also fell out of the top 10 after suffering its first loss at Oklahoma.
 
No. 22 Michigan State and No. 24 Central Florida were newcomers to the poll this week.
 
Virginia Tech and Arizona State dropped out of the top 25.
 
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
 
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AlabamaAlabama (15)8-03991
2OregonOregon (1)8-03802
3Florida StateFlorida State7-03733
4Ohio StateOhio State8-03514
5BaylorBaylor7-03296
6StanfordStanford7-13225
7Miami (FL)Miami (FL)7-02998
8ClemsonClemson7-126110
9AuburnAuburn7-125012
10OklahomaOklahoma7-124313
11MissouriMissouri7-12427
12LSULSU7-223811
13Texas A&MTexas A&M6-220517
14Texas TechTexas Tech7-11689
15South CarolinaSouth Carolina6-216721
16LouisvilleLouisville7-115814
17Oklahoma StateOklahoma State6-115516
18Fresno StateFresno State7-011220
19WisconsinWisconsin5-211018
20UCLAUCLA5-28815
21Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois8-08422
22Michigan StateMichigan State7-160-
23MichiganMichigan6-15723
24UCFUCF6-149-
25Oregon StateOregon State6-22624

 

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.

Teaser:
2013 The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 9
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-unlv-preview
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This preview and more on UNLV and the Mountain West are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 19 UNLV Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-10 (10-6 Mountain West)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Dave Rice (51-19 at UNLV)
Mountain West projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Dave Rice has accomplished plenty in his first two seasons as coach at UNLV. The former reserve guard on the Runnin’ Rebels’ 1990 national championship team has led his alma mater to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths and has won a total of 51 games. Rice also coached the Rebels to their first win over a No. 1-ranked team in 22 years with an upset of North Carolina in his first season, and he recruited and coached the school’s first No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick since Larry Johnson in forward Anthony Bennett last season.

Now, the question is: Can Rice keep the momentum going in Year 3 despite a number of key losses?

In addition to Bennett, the Rebels must move forward without three other starters — point guard Anthony Marshall, shooting guard Katin Reinhardt and forward Mike Moser. Overall, six of the team’s top eight scorers from a squad that went 25–10 and lost to California in the Round of 32 have moved on. But Rice remains optimistic his team can return to the NCAAs for the seventh time in eight years.

“It’s always difficult to replace guys who have experience,” Rice says. “But we’re very pleased with the guys we have coming in and development of our returning guys.”

Frontcourt

The slippery slope of recruiting a rare talent like Bennett is only being able to keep him around for one year. Still, Rice believes it was a win-win for the Rebels. “Anthony Bennett was terrific for us as a freshman,” Rice says. “He’ll be a great representative for our program and will help us with our recruiting in terms of being able to say we had the No. 1 draft pick.”

Bennett’s good friend and fellow Canadian import Khem Birch returns at forward after earning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore. In league games, the 6-9 Birch averaged 3.0 blocks per game and shot 53.8 percent from the floor.

Junior Roscoe Smith, a hard-nosed defender and rebounder who started on UConn’s 2011 national title team as a freshman, and sophomore Savon Goodman, a high-energy performer who scored 61 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in a summer league game in July, likely will join Birch up front.

Carlos Lopez-Sosa, a 6-11 senior, Christian Wood, a highly recruited 6-10 freshman forward from nearby Findlay Prep, and athletic 6-9 redshirt freshman Demetris Morant add quality size and depth.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Rice’s first order of business will be finding a replacement for Marshall, who led the Mountain West in assists and finished second on the team in scoring. The leading candidates to start are Deville Smith, a transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College described by Rice as “a pass-first point guard who is lightening quick,” and 6-6 Jelan Kendrick, a former McDonald’s All-American from Indian Hills Community College who has the versatility to play several positions for the Rebels.

Two other players in the point guard mix are sophomore Daquan Cook, who saw limited time as a backup to Marshall, and highly touted freshman combo guard Kendall Smith.

The top returning player in the backcourt is junior Bryce Dejean-Jones, a solid scorer who Rice believes is “as good a perimeter defender as there is in the league.”

Kevin Olekaibe is also a potential contributor on the perimeter. A three-year starter for league rival Fresno State, Olekaibe moved back to his hometown of Las Vegas to be closer to his ailing father. He is eligible to practice with the Rebels this season and has petitioned the NCAA for a waiver to play right away.

Freshman Dantley Walker, the top prep scorer in Nevada state history, joins the team after serving a two-year LDS Church mission but will likely redshirt.

Newcomers

Two junior college transfers with prior Division I experience, point guard Deville Smith (Mississippi State) and combo guard Jelan Kendrick (Memphis and Ole Miss), are being counted on to provide immediate help in the backcourt. Roscoe Smith, a transfer who started for two years at Connecticut, and freshman Christian Wood will play key roles in the frontcourt. Redshirt freshman Demetris Morant adds quality depth in the post, while true freshman Kendall Smith has the versatility to help at both guard spots. The Rebels could get a big boost in the backcourt if senior Kevin Olekaibe is granted his eligibility waiver by the NCAA.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 2. UNLV has produced two No. 1 overall NBA Draft picks (Larry Johnson, Anthony Bennett) since 1991. Duke (Elton Brand, Kyrie Irving) and Kentucky (John Wall, Anthony Davis) are the only other schools to match that number during that span.


It can be argued that no team in the Mountain West lost as many key players as the Rebels. But this is still a deep, talented and versatile squad capable of returning to the NCAA Tournament. How long it takes Rice to get the newcomers to mesh with talented returnees like Dejean-Jones and Birch will be the key. The non-conference schedule, which includes early home games with Arizona State and Illinois and a road date at Arizona, is challenging, especially for a team with so many new pieces.

*Photo Courtesy of UNLV Athletics

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 UNLV Preview
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-9
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Transamerica is a proud sponsor of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is presented each year by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Education Foundation to the nation’s top college quarterback based on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments. Candidates must be a graduating senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class. As a leading financial services company, Transamerica takes pride in being there for those moments when our customers say, “It’s real now.” Moments like the birth of a new baby, the opening of a new business, college acceptance, retirement, and other key milestones. By showing our support for the young men on the Top 30 watch list, we look forward to seeing them thrill fans around the country and experience moments during the season and beyond when they say, “It’s real now.”

1. Connor Shaw, South Carolina

South Carolina’s offense was in need of a hero on the road at unbeaten Missouri, and Connor Shaw took on that role coming off the sidelines. Shaw did not start for South Carolina due to an injury concern, but with the Gamecocks down 17-0 Steve Spurrier made the switch to the banged up Shaw and it paid off brilliantly. Shaw completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 201 yards and three touchdowns as South Carolina dug out of a 17-0 hole and picked up a double overtime win to hand Missouri their first loss of the season.

2. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

If not for the flair for the dramatics provided by Shaw and South Carolina, Northern Illinois’ own super hero quarterback would have been on top of this week’s top performers round-up for the second time this season. Jordan Lynch completed 16 of 20 pass attempts for 223 yards and four touchdowns and he came within one yard shy of a 100-rushing performance. Lynch did add one rushing touchdown and even caught a 17-yard touchdown pass as Northern Illinois blew away Eastern Michigan. The Huskies remain undefeated and in position to make a return trip to the BCS party.

3. Blake Bortles, Central Florida

There was no letdown game for Central Florida a week after knocking off Louisville. Blake Bortles completed 20 of 24 pass attempts for 286 yards and he rushed for 26 yards and a touchdown as Central Florida dominated Connecticut. With Bortles leading the offense the Knights remain on top of the American standings and the first BCS bowl bid in program history is beginning to come into focus.

4.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Clemson took a while to finally awake from the slumber Florida State put them in last week, but the Tigers eventually hit their stride on the road against Maryland. Tajh Boyd passed for 304 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown as Clemson pulled away from the Terapins, 40-27. Boyd’s performance helped move past a poor showing against Florida State and helps get Clemson back on track for a run at a potential BCS at-large bid. 

5. Keith Wenning, Ball State

If you are not tuning in to watch some MAC football, you are missing out on some good quarterbacking. Just as Jordan Lynch is putting on a show at Northern Illinois, Ball State’s Keith Wenning is putting up big numbers as well for the Cardinals. In a 42-24 victory at Akron that sent Ball State to an 8-1 record, Wenning completed 25 of 25 passes for 240 yards without an interception. Five of his passes were good for a touchdown.

Sponsored by Transamerica

Teaser:
The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 18:58
Path: /college-football/south-carolinas-shaw-earns-athlon-sports-player-week-honors
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The SEC has more than its share of quality quarterbacks, each with a superlatives. AJ McCarron is the winner. Aaron Murray is the career achiever. Johnny Manziel is the most dynamic.

After Saturday, it would be tough to argue against South Carolina’s as the toughest.

Shaw sustained a knee injury in the loss to Tennessee, making him an emergency-only quarterback against Missouri. With backup Dylan Thompson struggling, South Carolina couldn’t afford to hold Shaw out any longer. Steve Spurrier turned to Shaw in the second half as the veteran quarterback led a 17-point comeback to beat Missouri 27-24 in overtime.

The effort earns Shaw Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

“I went over and asked him if he could play and he said sure,” Spurrier said. “I said we had to make the move now. Dylan was just a little off here and there. I thought he had a few guys open and he zinged them out, but he threw some good balls. It just wasn't his night and Connor gave us a little sharpness in there.”

Shaw finished 20 of 29 for 201 yards with three touchdowns to keep South Carolina alive in the SEC East race.

Athlon Sports Week 9 Awards

National Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, South Carolina

Shaw, nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0. About two hours later, the Gamecocks walked off the turf at Faurot Field with an improbable 27-24 win in double-overtime. Shaw was the man most responsible for Carolina’s season-saving win. The senior completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns  — despite not playing the entire first half. The Gamecocks tied the game when Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 2-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game into a second overtime when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 15.

National Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Murphy Stanford
Murphy, much like the rest of the Cardinal defense, was all over the field against Oregon State. Murphy posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the nation's leading passer. He leads the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss after back-to-back stellar showings against UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal's defensive performance — holding the Beavers to a season-low 288 yards — on the road was a championship-style performance. 

National Freshman of the Week: John O’Korn, Houston
Houston has been one of the biggest surprises this season that has gone virtually unnoticed. The Cougars eclipsed last season’s win total by picking up their sixth win of the season with a 49-14 victory over Rutgers. Making the start more unlikely has been the play of freshman quarterback John O’Korn, who stepped in to replace injured starting QB David Piland earlier this season. O’Korn completed 24 of 30 passes for 364 yards with five touchdowns in the rout of Rutgers. O’Korn arrived to Houston from South Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.

National Coordinator of the Week: Jim Knowles, Duke
The Blue Devils’ defense had some help from a sluggish Virginia Tech offense, but for the second week in a row, Duke’s defense has stepped up when it mattered. The Blue Devils didn’t allow a point in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Virginia and held the Hokies to just 55 yards in the fourth quarter, which was just enough for Duke to score a 13-10 win in Blacksburg. The Blue Devils forced four interceptions off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and generated four tackles for a loss. Duke has held its last three opponents to five yards or less per play, and only one team in the last three games against the Blue Devils has scored more than 10 points. Knowles has pushed the right buttons this season, and the key stops on defense are a key reason why Duke is 6-2.

Athlon Sports Week 9 Conference Awards

ACC
Offense: Duke Johnson, Miami
Defense: Kelby Brown, Duke
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Jim Knowles, Duke

Big 12
Offense: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State
Defense: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Freshman: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Coordinator: Josh Heupel, Oklahoma

Big Ten
Offense: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Defense: Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Freshman: Tyvis Powell, Ohio State
Coordinator: Matt Limegrover, Minnesota

Pac-12
Offense: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Defense: Trent Murphy, Stanford
Freshman: Scooby Wright, Arizona
Coordinator: Derek Mason, Stanford

SEC
Offense: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Defense: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Freshman: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Coordinator: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M

 

Teaser:
South Carolina's Shaw Earns Athlon Sports Player of the Week Honors
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 15:38
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Monthly
Path: /mlb/major-leaguers-recall-their-favorite-world-series-memories
Body:
The World Series is underway, with Major League Baseball and its fans hoping it will last a little longer than last fall, when the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers. Seven of the last nine World Series have been over in four or five games, and baseball’s showcase has generally lacked the kind of drama we saw in 2011, when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in a seven-game thriller.
 
Yet even in the lopsided matchups, the World Series usually leaves something memorable for the winter ahead, and for many years to come. We asked several current major leaguers what they remember most from the World Series they watched growing up.
 
DAVID WRIGHT, 3B, Mets: “The one that sticks out in my mind, and granted I was 17 years old, is the Subway Series in 2000. I was a Norfolk Tide fan — the Mets had their Triple-A team there — and I thought it was cool that I could go and take a picture with a player, get a player’s autograph, and you turn on the TV the next week and he’s playing for the Mets. So I followed the Mets and rooted for the Mets for that reason. I remember more the trash talking than anything else, because I grew up with the Uptons (B.J. and Justin), and they were Yankee fans, or at least their dad was. He was a coach, and I remember talking trash with him while we were hitting together.”
 
PHIL HUGHES, P, Yankees: “My dad grew up in Rhode Island, so I was a Red Sox fan. In 2003, I wasn’t drafted yet and I had a job at Baskin-Robbins in Tustin, Calif. I had to work the night of Game 7 of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox, and my mom called and said, ‘Some guy named Boone did something, and they’re all jumping around.’ I was like, ‘Arrrgh!’ Then in 2004, I was drafted by the Yankees. I was home after short-season rookie ball, watching the Red Sox in the World Series with my dad, and I still remember the ground ball back to the pitcher for the last out, and how my dad was a lot more excited than I was. It’s funny, you think about it now and it doesn’t matter, but I almost felt like there was a camera on me, so I couldn’t be that excited. A year before, I was devastated. But that’s life. Things change. As long as I’m an employee of an ice cream shop, it’s okay to root for the Red Sox. But not when I’m an employee of the Yankees.”
 
Joey VottoJOEY VOTTO, 1B, Reds: “I'm a Cincinnati Red and I'm going to be a Cincinnati Red for my career, unless something unforeseen happens. But I'm from Toronto and they still have a little piece of my heart, because they're like my first love. Everyone has their first love and they were the World Series champions, back-to-back, in 1992 and 1993, wearing those cool uniforms with that cool team. So I have some fondness for them.”
 
C.C. SABATHIA, P, Yankees: “A lot of people I grew up with were Giants fans, but I was an A’s fan. I just liked those players. It was a big deal when they played in the ’89 World Series. Everybody had the split hats with the A’s on one side and the Giants on the other. I remember Kirk Gibson’s home run against the A’s in ’88, because I was watching with my grandfather, but I can’t tell you I have any memories of the ’89 World Series. I do remember I was watching on TV when the earthquake hit, though. I remember seeing the families on the field, out there walking around. We were fine. It shook a little bit, but nothing bad.”
 
MARK TEIXEIRA, 1B, Yankees: “I’m from Maryland, but I was only three when the Orioles won in 1983. My very first World Series memory was the Bill Buckner game in ’86. I was six years old and had just started watching baseball consistently, and I was actually rooting for the Mets. That team was fun to watch — (Darryl) Strawberry and (Dwight) Gooden and Howard Johnson, those guys were fun. And some of my other memories, growing up with TBS when the Braves were in it in ’91 and ’92, that was two years of heartache, but it was fun. I remember the Kent Hrbek play in ’91 — Ron Gant stepped on first base and Hrbek just threw him off. Talk about needing replay!”
 
MIKE TROUT, OF, Angels: “I was a big Chase Utley fan, and Jimmy Rollins. They played as a team, they had a great bullpen. It was like, if the Phillies had a lead in the seventh, it was almost game over. A couple of my buddies and I went up and tailgated when they won in Game 5 in 2008. We brought a little TV and watched the game in the parking lot. Went all the way down to City Hall with all the fans and stuff. It was crazy. The city went nuts.”
 
JAMES SHIELDS, P, Royals: “I always rooted for the Dodgers because that’s where I grew up, about 20 minutes from Dodger Stadium in Valencia. I remember ’88 pretty clearly. I loved baseball growing up, watched the World Series every year, and I stayed up for the Gibson home run. It was just amazing, when you hear the stories behind it, to see how it all transpired. It just showed a lot of guts and heart. I have a lot of respect for Kirk Gibson doing what he did. To hear him telling Tommy Lasorda how he wants an at-bat — he couldn’t even walk out of the dugout, let alone hit a home run! It’s a pretty special moment, for sure.”
 
ALFONSO SORIANO, OF, Yankees: “I didn’t really watch the World Series, but I always knew my mom was a big fan of Reggie Jackson. When he used to play with the Yankees and hit a lot of homers, my mom was a big fan. She would tell me about him hitting home runs in the World Series.”
 
 
By Tyler Kepner
Teaser:
Major Leaguers Share Their Favorite World Series Memories
Post date: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-picks-against-spread-week-8
Body:

Locks of the Week
Continue to ride this year’s lone undefeated in the league and anticipate a bounce back from a team that once went unbeaten.

Chiefs (-7) vs. Browns
The Marty Schottenheimer Bowl pits an undefeated K.C. squad against a Brown-bag club whose four losses have come by an average of nearly 14 points.

Patriots (-4.5) vs. Dolphins
The P-Men have not lost to the Fins since a 22–21 letdown on Dec. 6, 2009. Expect Rob Gronkowski to earn respect with a dominant Gronk performance.

Blowout Bargains
Two of the best teams in the NFL take on a two of the most embarrassing — one winless and one hoping to lure Brett Favre out of retirement.

49ers (-13.5) vs. Jaguars (at London)
London’s “home” team will be beaten by San Fran hooligans in the first year of Jacksonville’s four-year commitment in England.

Seahawks (-10) at Rams
This Monday nighter will coincide with Game 5 of the World Series in St. Louis. No one in the Gateway to the West will watch this blowout.

Backdoor Cover
Peyton Manning will bounce back from the unexpected loss at Indianapolis last Sunday night, but it won’t be easy.

Redskins (+13) at Broncos
Mike Shanahan’s Mile High homecoming may or may not end in a win, but it won’t be a landslide, either.

Sucker Bets
Stay away from these games unless you’re a degenerate or a hometown homer who has to have action on every game, every week.

Saints (-12.5) vs. Bills
Don’t know why, but Buffalo continues to roam into covers and/or straight up upsets with Thad Lewis under center.

Bengals (-7) vs. Jets
Cincinnati avoided a local blackout. But the fact that there was some debate for the AFC North leaders is not a good sign.

Eagles (-6.5) vs. Giants
Neither of these NFC East squads is reliable in anything but their unreliability.

Packers (-6) at Vikings
Adrian Peterson rushed for a combined 508 yards and scored three total TDs in three games (including playoffs) against Green Bay last season.

Lions (-3) vs. Cowboys
Shockingly the Dez Bryant vs. Calvin Johnson debate has taken flight, which both these teams are capable of.

Cardinals (-2.5) vs. Falcons
Carson Palmer has a five-game multi-INT streak; Matt Ryan has thrown two picks in one game since a five-INT dud vs. Zona in 2012.

Steelers (-1.5) at Raiders
NFL Films “Voice of God” John Facenda should voiceover the highlights/lowlights of this throwback rivalry, if only for old times’ sake.
 

Teaser:
A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 8.
Post date: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 13:06
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-memphis-preview
Body:


This preview and more on Memphis and the American are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 20 Memphis Facts & Figures
Last season: 31-5 (16-0 Conference USA)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 32
Coach: Josh Pastner (106-34 at Memphis)
American projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Josh Pastner is wired to be positive regardless of the circumstances. So each time he was asked about Conference USA over the past four years, the Memphis coach would explain that the league is good because every team has good players, and he always did it with emotion.

But Pastner couldn’t have possibly really believed it. The proof was in the seeds his Tigers received. “We had 30 wins on Selection Sunday last season, and we were a six seed,” Pastner says. “We won 26 the year before, and we were an eight seed. Year before that, we had 25 wins and were a 12 seed. So hopefully that’ll change with the move to the American Athletic Conference.”

Truth is, it should.

Conference games against East Carolina, Marshall, Rice and Tulane have been replaced with games against Louisville, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Temple. That alone will increase the Tigers’ strength of schedule and give them a chance to accumulate more quality victories than normal. And the good news is that Pastner has the roster to win big in this transitional year.

Frontcourt

The Tigers’ top three frontcourt rebounders from last season — D.J. Stephens, Tarik Black and Adonis Thomas — are gone, meaning Shaq Goodwin will be asked to have a breakthrough year in which he looks more like the McDonald’s All-American he was in high school than the inconsistent freshman he was last season. Might a better body help? Pastner believes so and is thus thrilled that Goodwin has lost 20 pounds to become a leaner and more athletic version of himself.
 
“Shaq is playing above the rim now,” Pastner says. “Last year he played at the rim. But I want him above the rim, and that’s where he’s going to be.”

Freshman Austin Nichols, a highly touted local product who chose Memphis over Duke, is expected to start next to Goodwin. George Washington transfer David Pellom should provide experienced depth up front, and freshman Dominic Woodson will serves as an emergency post player. Freshmen Nick King and Kuran Iverson could emerge as stars on the wing. They might actually be the Tigers’ top two NBA prospects.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Whether Memphis exceeds or falls short of expectations will largely be determined by the performance of the guards. It all starts with Joe Jackson, the reigning C-USA Player of the Year who shot 51.9 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point range last season while averaging a team-best 13.6 points and 4.8 assists per game. He was, in a word, terrific. And the Memphis native is now on pace to go down as one of the most accomplished players in school history.

“Just look at his hardware,” Pastner says “He’s been the MVP of two conference tournaments. He was the C-USA Player of the Year last season, and he has a chance to be one of the top five scorers in Memphis history.”

The rest of the backcourt isn’t bad, either.

Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson give Pastner two more senior guards who have started at the Division I level, and Missouri transfer Michael Dixon, provided he gets a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately, will give Memphis a total of four senior guards who have averaged double-figures in points at the high-major level. Then there’s sophomore Damien Wilson, freshman Markel Crawford and freshman Pookie Powell. All three are capable of contributing, though Crawford is recovering from ACL surgery and Powell could be an academic casualty.

Newcomers

Nick King and Austin Nichols are the prizes of the recruiting class. Nichols is a 6-8 power forward. King is a 6-6 small forward. Both are expected to play major minutes, along with power forward Kuran Iverson. Markel Crawford is a hard-nosed guard who has a chance to be good in time. But he’s recovering from ACL surgery and might have trouble cracking the rotation as a freshman. David Pellom is a fifth-year transfer from George Washington who projects as the Tigers’ first post player off the bench.

Final analysis
Factoid: 2.65. Memphis signed Josh Pastner to a contract worth $2.65 million annually after last season in an attempt to prevent schools from trying to lure its young coach. The salary ranks top-10 nationally.


The quality of the veteran backcourt combined with the depth throughout the roster is why the Tigers should finish in the top three of the AAC. But they still have to do it, and skeptics will remain until they do so because Pastner only has one victory over a top-25 opponent through four years, and he’s never advanced past the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. In other words, he’s recruited brilliantly and won lots of games, but very few of those wins have come against quality competition. Such can be attributed, on some level, to the lack of opportunities C-USA provided. But this move to the American leaves Pastner with no excuses to approach Selection Sunday with anything other than a resume that ensures Memphis receives its highest seed since the John Calipari era.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Memphis Preview
Post date: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/10-big-injuries-will-impact-rest-nfl-season
Body:
The NFL is a 17-week war of attrition, and it plays out like that every season. Having the best talent in the league certainly helps. Having all that talent healthy for the stretch run and the playoffs helps even more.
 
That’s why there’s nothing worse than being a team on a roll or in contention and suffering a serious, early injury. All of a sudden, before the stretch run even begins, all the air can get let out of a team’s tires. One key loss of a player in the wrong spot and everything a team has built can quickly be torn down.
 
So as we near the halfway point of the season, which teams are in trouble? Here are the 10 biggest injuries in the NFL so far that could impact the rest of the NFL season. Some of these players are just invaluable to their teams. And some of them are just one of many injuries that are threatening to tear some of the NFL’s top contenders apart:
 
Jay CutlerBears QB Jay Cutler – The much-maligned leader of the Bears was on his way to one of his finest seasons with the Bears (4-3) battling in the rough NFC North. But his torn groin could keep him out a month and leaves the Bears in the hands of Josh McCown. To make matters worse for the Bears, linebacker Lance Briggs will miss 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury, too.
 
Falcons WR Julio Jones – It’s bad enough that Roddy White has hobbled through a dreadful start to his season with ankle and hamstring injury, but the loss of Jones (on injured reserve with a fractured foot) is a crusher for the struggling NFC favorites. Jones already had 41 catches for 580 yards through five games and now quarterback Matt Ryan is basically left with receiver Harry Douglas and tight end Tony Gonzalez. It doesn’t help that running back Steven Jackson has been out with a hamstring injury, too.
 
Colts WR Reggie Wayne – The torn ACL that ended the 34-year-old’s season might end his career and certainly is a crushing blow to the Colts, who were on top of the world after their stunning victory on Sunday night over the Denver Broncos. Wayne’s 38 catches for 503 yards led Indy and now leaves QB Andrew Luck with only T.Y. Hilton (27-412) and Darius Heyward-Bey (18-190).
 
Patriots WR Danny Amendola – This wasn’t entirely unpredictable since he hadn’t played a full season since 2010 and many questioned the big contract he got from the Pats, but groin and concussion issues has limited to playing in just three of the first seven games. Yes, the Patriots are 5-2 but without Amendola and, until last Sunday, TE Rob Gronkowski, it’s been a struggle for QB Tom Brady, who has had to make do with Julian Edelman and a cast of unknowns.
 
Patriots DT Vince Wilfork – The big run stopper in the middle of the Patriots’ defense, who’s out for the year with a torn Achilles, might actually be their biggest loss. And to make matters worse, Bill Belichick’s defense is also without linebacker Jerod Mayo (pectoral) for the season and, at least temporarily, cornerback Aqib Talib (hip), too.
 
Randall CobbPackers WR Randall Cobb – His leg injury will keep him out two months, but that’s not the worst of it for the Packers. Their offense was suddenly decimated with the loss of Cobb, receiver James Jones (shin/leg) and tight end Jermichael Finley, who was in ICU for a while with head and neck injuries. Aaron Rodgers still has Jordy Neslon to throw to, but his No. 2 through 4 targets are, at least for now, one.
 
Rams QB Sam Bradford – St. Louis may have been a longshot to make the playoffs, but at 3-4 the Rams weren’t out of it. Without Bradford, though, they most definitely are. Bradford was playing well (14 touchdowns, four interceptions) but what makes this a real disaster is what he’s left behind. The only other quarterback on the roster was Kellen Clemens before the Rams scrambled to sign Brady Quinn. Now it’s hard to see them winning many more games at all.
 
Broncos T Ryan Clady – It’s hard to argue the Broncos are struggling without him since he suffered his Lisfranc injury in Week 2, but any time a team loses an all-pro left tackle it’s a big issue. And since the Broncos are built around Peyton Manning, keeping upright is key. They’ve survived so far, but their pass protection was shaky against the Colts and it remains to be seen how it’ll hold up the rest of the year.
 
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware – The Cowboys’ best defensive player – and maybe the best in the NFC East – already missed one game with an injured thigh and might miss more. Most people think that the Cowboys are vulnerable, even in a terrible division. The loss of Ware would make things even worse, especially since the Cowboys are reeling from injuries to RB Demarco Murray (knee), WR Miles Austin (hamstring) and they just had to cut DT Jay Ratliff (hernia) who has yet to play this year.
 
Texans LB Brian Cushing – Quarterback troubles have probably doomed the Texans anyway and at 2-5 they were unlikely to make a playoff push. But any hopes of that ended when Cushing – the leaders of a defense that is remarkably ranked first in the NFL – broke his leg and tore a ligament in his knee. That solidified the Texans’ spot as one of the most disappointing teams in the league.
 
By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN
Teaser:
10 Big Injuries That Will Impact the Rest of the NFL Season
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 15:15
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-connecticut-preview
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This preview and more on Connecticut and the American are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 21 Connecticut Facts & Figures
Last season: 20-10 (10-8 Big East)
Postseason: None
Coach: Kevin Ollie (20-10 at UConn)
American projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Connecticut spent last season on a mission to make a statement in a season without postseason eligibility. Now the Huskies are determined to launch the program back among the elite in the nation.

They return their entire starting lineup and several key reserves from a 20-win team and added some quality recruits. They enter a brand new landscape as a member of the American Athletic Conference.

“They know they’re good,” coach Kevin Ollie says. “But they know they’ve got a lot of work to do to prove that each and every day. They know climbing up the ladder takes one step at a time, but to fall off the ladder just takes one step.”

Frontcourt

The Huskies are injecting some much-needed depth to their front line. Only one starter — junior DeAndre Daniels — averaged more than 4.9 points last season. Rebounding was a major issue, as UConn lost the battle of the boards in 19 games and ranked among the worst in the league in rebounding percentage.

Ollie will count on promising newcomers Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah to contribute right away, especially in the shot-blocking and rebounding departments. Facey, a New York native, was a 4-star recruit who picked UConn over Louisville and Florida.

Daniels, a smooth, athletic small forward, is poised for a breakout season. He’s added muscle to his wiry frame and has potential to emerge as a Player of the Year candidate in the American. He increased his scoring from 3.0 points as a freshman to 12.1 as a sophomore.

Ollie is optimistic that Tyler Olander, who’s coming off a disappointing junior season, will finally live up to expectations and make a consistent impact. The 6-9 Connecticut native has yet to average more than 5.0 points per game in his career.

Veteran Niels Giffey has the ability to contribute in a variety of ways. Improving Phil Nolan showed flashes of his potential down the stretch last season. Fellow sophomore Leon Tolksdorf will likely play a limited role as a big man who can shoot from the perimeter.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC

 
Backcourt

The Huskies boast one of the most talented — and deepest —backcourts in the country. Returning starters Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun combined to average 43.6 points per game last season — 62 percent of UConn’s scoring.

No one means more to the Huskies than Napier, the heartbeat of the team. He led UConn in scoring (17.1 ppg) and late-game heroics while ranking second in rebounding (4.4 rpg) and earning first-team All-Big East honors. He’s fully recovered from a foot injury that hampered him near the end of last season.

The confident Boatright, already a lethal offensive weapon and defensive pest, worked on improving his all-around game over the summer. Boatright and Napier were two the 12 collegiate guards invited to attend the Nike Point Guard Skills Academy in New Jersey in June.

Calhoun, who had offseason surgery on both hips, should take another significant step forward coming off a productive freshman season. The former 4-star recruit averaged 11.1 points, highlighted by two games of at least 20 points in Big East play.

“From a scoring standpoint, from a leadership standpoint and a facilitator standpoint, all of our guards have gotten better,” Ollie says.

Ollie also will be able to turn to freshman Terrence Samuel, an unselfish New York City product blessed with size and toughness, and versatile swingman Lasan Kromah, a George Washington transfer, for minutes on the perimeter.

Newcomers

Kentan Facey, an active 6-9 forward, will likely see major minutes and contribute on the boards. A long shot-blocking center, Amida Brimah plays with great energy but needs to add muscle to withstand physical pounding inside. Terrence Samuel is a strong guard with great court vision. Transfer Lasan Kromah, who averaged 11.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in three years at George Washington, has the tools to play several positions.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 4. In UConn’s final four games last season, emerging star DeAndre Daniels played his best basketball, averaging 21.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.


The talented and tough-minded Huskies have improved in several areas, especially depth, which will give Ollie more flexibility and create more competition for playing time.

With a lethal backcourt leading the charge, UConn should challenge for the American championship. Their final destination this season may depend in part on the development of their young frontcourt players.

The upbeat and demanding Ollie is pushing his Huskies to play with the same grit, heart and attitude as last season.

“Hopefully, we have that same mindset, especially with the talent that we have coming back,” Ollie says. “If everybody comes back with that level of unity, playing for one another, everything else will take care of itself — championships, whatever follows that. Everybody will be able to have the opportunity to shine individually. So I hope we have that same attitude. I’m pushing for that.”

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Connecticut Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-wisconsin-preview
Body:


This preview and more on Wisconsin and the Big Ten are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 22 Wisconsin Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-12 (12-6 Big Ten)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Bo Ryan (291-113 at Wisconsin)
Big Ten projection: Fourth
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Sam Dekker was in a foul mood after his freshman season at Wisconsin ended with a shorter-than-expected stay in the postseason. UW has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of Bo Ryan’s 12 seasons leading the program, but 2012-13 marked only the second time during that span that the Badgers failed to win a game once they got there.

Dekker called a 57–46 loss to Ole Miss a “bulletin-board game” for the returning Badgers entering the offseason. But his spirits picked up considerably during the summer when he’d walk into the Kohl Center and see several of his teammates — even the newcomers — already hard at work. “We just have a really, really hard-working bunch that’s not going to back down from much at all,” Dekker says.

UW’s roster includes six freshmen and two returning players who missed last season due to injuries. To help get the Badgers up to speed as quickly as possible, Ryan scheduled a series of five exhibition games in Canada in August. The trip allowed UW to hold 10 additional practices over the summer.

Frontcourt

The Badgers must replace all three starters. While center Jared Berggren and forwards Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz had their share of struggles on offense in 2012-13, they were solid rebounders and the leaders of a defense that statistically was among the best during Ryan’s successful run at UW. Junior Frank Kaminsky, a reserve during his first two seasons, will be expected to take over at center for Berggren, the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots. Kaminsky can stretch defenses with his ability to knock down shots from 3-point range, but he needs to be stronger around the rim on both ends of the court.

Dekker will move into a starting — and perhaps starring — role after being a sparkplug off the bench during his first season with the Badgers. The dynamic forward averaged 9.6 points per game, the most by a UW freshman since Alando Tucker’s 12.0 in 2002-03.

Finding a third starter and some depth in the post will likely be Ryan’s biggest challenge heading into the season. Junior forward Duje Dukan, who redshirted last season after dealing with a bout of mononucleosis during the preseason conditioning session, senior forward Zach Bohannon and junior center Evan Anderson have to prove they’re ready for expanded roles. UW likely will need Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes to make significant contributions as freshmen. If Brown and Hayes can earn Ryan’s trust as defenders, one of them could find a place in the starting lineup.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

The Badgers return four guards with starting experience. Junior Josh Gasser started 66 games at shooting guard during his first two seasons and was ready to take over as the Badgers’ point guard in 2012-13 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in late October. Gasser, who makes good decisions, shoots well from 3-point range and is a great defender, expects to be back in time for the 2013-14 opener.

Senior Ben Brust averaged a team-high 11.1 points per game in his first season as a starter. After being mostly a spot-up shooter during the first half of his career, Brust became a more complete player and was arguably UW’s most valuable asset a year ago.

George Marshall replaced Gasser at point guard to start the season, but he was replaced after six games by Traevon Jackson. Jackson, a junior, has a knack for making clutch plays in close games, but he needs to improve his shot selection and ball-handling. If Marshall, a sophomore, can overcome confidence issues, he can help the Badgers on offense because he’s quick enough to get to the rim and has a nice shooting stroke. Freshman Bronson Koenig, a terrific passer who might be able to help UW score in transition more often, adds to a deep backcourt.

Newcomers

UW went into Ohio to land a pair of athletic forwards in Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes, who should battle for playing time in the Badgers’ depleted frontcourt. Bronson Koenig is a flashy point guard who will be tough to keep off the floor. Riley Dearring is a good shooter but probably needs a redshirt season to add muscle to his thin frame. Redshirting might also be the best option for Jordan Hill, who is a tenacious defender but needs to work on his offensive game.

Final analysis
Factoid: 12.
Wisconsin has finished no worse than fourth place in the Big Ten in each of Bo Ryan’s 12 seasons. The Badgers finished fourth or better only three times in the 34 seasons prior to Ryan taking over the program.


UW finished with its lowest field goal, free throw and 3-point shooting averages in Ryan’s 12 seasons but still finished with seven victories over teams ranked in the top 15 of the AP poll. The Badgers should be better offensively with Dekker becoming the team’s go-to scorer, but UW’s success — and Dekker’s mood heading into the next offseason — will depend on how much Kaminsky and others step up in the frontcourt.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Wisconsin Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-power-rankings-week-7
Body:

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the lone undefeated Kansas City Chiefs to the still-winless  Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

1. Chiefs (7-0) Brian Cushing has “respect” for Jamaal Charles.

2. Colts (5-2) Lose Reggie Wayne (ACL) for year in win vs. Broncos.

3. Broncos (6-1) Peyton Manning loses homecoming in Indianapolis.

4. Saints (5-1) Status of injured Jimmy Graham (foot) uncertain.

5. Seahawks (6-1) Defense swarms Arizona with seven sacks, two INTs.

6. 49ers (5-2) Colin Kaepernick sprints to fourth straight victory.

7. Packers (4-2) Jermichael Finley “walking” after scary neck injury.

8. Jets (4-3) Nick Folk misses from 56, hits from 42 to beat Pats.

9. Patriots (5-2) Unsportsmanlike conduct flag gives Jets new life.

10. Bengals (5-2) Mike Nugent hits last-second 54-yard game-winner.

11. Lions (4-3) Megatron highlight-reel 50-yard TD highlights loss.

12. Cowboys (4-3) DeMarcus Ware (quadriceps) misses first game ever.

13. Eagles (3-4) Nick Foles leaves loss to Cowboys with concussion.

14. Falcons (2-4) Harry Douglas steps up for Julio Jones, Roddy White.

15. Redskins (2-4) Brandon Meriweather suspended for illegal hitting.

16. Bears (4-3) Jay Cutler (groin), Lance Briggs (shoulder) injured.

17. Titans (3-4) Return man Darius Reynaud cut after latest muff.

18. Chargers (4-3) Own time-of-possession (37:30-to-22:30) vs. Jags.

19. Steelers (2-4) Big Ben earns 28th fourth-quarter comeback win.

20. Ravens (3-4) After hip injury, Ray Rice says he’s got “burst back.”

21. Panthers (3-3) Captain Munnerlyn has pick-six on game’s first play.

22. Rams (3-4) Auditioning QBs after Sam Bradford’s ACL injury.

23. Cardinals (3-4) Carson Palmer has thrown 11 INTs in last five games.

24. Texans (2-5) Brian Cushing suffers broken fibula, torn LCL in loss.

25. Bills (3-4) Snap six-game road losing streak with win in Miami.

26. Dolphins (3-3) Trade conditional ’14 draft pick for Bryant McKinnie.

27. Raiders (2-4) Terrelle Pryor works with QB guru Tom House on bye.

28. Browns (3-4) Brandon Weeden on hot seat after latest struggles.

29. Giants (1-6) Eli Manning throws zero INTs for first time this year.

30. Vikings (1-5) Josh Freeman not ready for prime time on MNF.

31. Buccaneers (0-6) Debate over Doug Martin labrum injury continues.

32. Jaguars (0-7) Have lost every game this season by double digits.
 

Teaser:
Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the unbeaten Chiefs to the winless Bucs and Jaguars.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 19:17
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/prime-time-players-week-7
Body:

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
The heir to the horseshoe throne in Indy, Luck spoiled Peyton Manning’s homecoming in prime time on Sunday night. The second-year phenom passed for 228 yards, three TDs and zero INTs, while scrambling for 29 yards and one TD on the ground during a 39–33 victory over the Broncos, snapping Denver’s 17-game regular-season winning streak. The Colts bounced back from a Week 6 loss at San Diego and have not lost consecutive games since Luck took over for Manning under center at Lucas Oil Stadium last season.

Tamba Hali, LB, Chiefs
Kansas City’s defense terrorized Houston in a 17–16 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. Hali led the way with 2.5 sacks for 29 lost yards as well as a pair of forced fumbles — the second of which was recovered by linebacker Derrick Johnson late in the fourth quarter to seal the Chiefs’ win. With a 7–0 start, Kansas City has all but assured its first trip to the playoffs since 2010. Of the 31 teams to start 7–0 in the Super Bowl era, all 31 made the playoffs, 15 advanced to Super Sunday and nine raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
In an epic battle of arguably the league’s top two wide receivers, Green had the last laugh against the Lions’ Calvin Johnson, winning 27–24 at Detroit. Green posted six catches for 155 yards (25.8 ypc) and an 82-yard TD, while Megatron finished with nine catches for an identical 155 yards (17.2 ypc) and two trips to the end zone. After the game, the duo exchanged jerseys as a sign of mutual respect.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
Sure it was against the winless Jaguars, but Mathews had one of his better days as a pro during a 24–6 road win at Jacksonville — which came on short rest following a Monday night win over the Colts last week. The fourth-year back out of Fresno State had 21 carries for a Week 7-best 110 yards and one TD, his first rushing score since Oct. 7 last season.
 

Teaser:
The best performances in the NFL from Week 7.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 18:52
All taxonomy terms: Bull riding, College Football, News
Path: /news/silvano-alves-seeks-record-third-straight-pbr-title-world-finals
Body:
Silvano Alven PBR ChampSilvano Alves gently eases himself down onto a near-ton of snorting muscle inside the padded metal chute. In an instant he’s thrown sickeningly headfirst over the animal’s horns into the chute front; not once, but twice. There is concern on the rider’s face, mercifully protected now by a grilled metal helmet that has replaced the once-traditional cowboy hat. He backs off the bull momentarily to gather himself.
 
Soon after—3.37 seconds to be exact—Alves is ingloriously tossed to the turf by the bull named Stone Sober, whose own worksheet is impressive: only once in 25 tries has he been successfully ridden. Another fact becomes abundantly clear: A bucking bull doesn’t discern a two-time consecutive world champion on its back from the rawest greenhorn.
 
While Alves miraculously avoided serious injury at that Professional Bull Rider’s (PBR) tour stop in Thackerville, Okla., earlier in the year, the native Brazilian rider is the rugged sport’s on-going sensation and the outright favorite to make it three world championships in succession―an unprecedented feat―at the PBR World Finals at Las Vegas on Oct. 23-27.
 
“Silvano was born to ride bulls,” says his friend, fellow PBR competitor and frequent translator Guilherme Marchi, the 2008 PBR world champion. “He is very focused and he loves what he does.”
 
That love sprung to life for Alves, born and raised in the Brazilian town of Pilar do Sul, a city of close to 26,000 people within the state of Sao Paulo, from watching his father and uncles ride bulls. 
 
“I remember they supported me a lot,” Alves, 25, says. When he was 13, in 2000, young Silvano mounted his first bull at “the home of a friend on my first bull training.”
 
 PBR World Finals 
Las Vegas, NV
Oct. 23-27 
Alves’ popularity on the PBR circuit has brought even more increased awareness of the sport to his native land. Today, 25 bull riders with Brazilian roots grace the 100-rider PBR roster. Should Alves three-peat as champion this week, five of the last six PBR world titlists will have come from Brazil.
 
“It started for us when Adriano Moraes (1994), Paulo Crimber (1998), Ednei Caminhas (2000), and André Moraes (2001) came to the United States and had success,” says Marchi of the cavalcade of Brazilian riders that preceded his own PBR debut in 2004. “We had success because of the bull riders that came before us. We were very interested by their successes, the quality of life, and the financial rewards we could have.”
 
Alves launched his impressive PBR career in 2010, winning Rookie of the Year honors and wasting no time building his championship legacy, which began the following year. “Winning in 2011 was a dream come true, it was very emotional,” says Alves, a family man and devout Christian, who now lives with his wife, Evelin, and two children Hanyelle, 4, and Edward, 2, in Decatur, Texas.
 
“The second time was more emotional for me, because winning back to back championships had never been done before.”
And a third straight title is in the crosshairs. “I do not know if I will win,” he says, “but I am certainly working toward that, though all the riders are riding very well. Only God knows what will happen.”
 
By Alan Ross
Teaser:
Silvano Alves seeks a record third straight PBR title at World Finals.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 16:18
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-ucla-preview
Body:


This preview and more on UCLA and the Pac-12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 23 UCLA Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-10 (13-5 Pac-12)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Steve Alford (First season at UCLA)
Pac-12 projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
The Steve Alford Era at UCLA got off to a rather inauspicious start, as the former All-American at Indiana arrived in Westwood with little fanfare and amid questions about his coaching past. The school’s boosters — many of whom pined for Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan or Rick Pitino — weren’t impressed with the résumé of their new coach: Five NCAA Tournament wins in 18 seasons at Southwest Missouri State, Iowa and New Mexico.

How can Alford resuscitate his image and satiate the masses? Simple. Win.

Howland did plenty of that his first five years — 126 times, in fact. That number fell to 107 in his last five seasons at the helm, and despite a Pac-12 regular season crown and 25 wins in 2013, Howland wore out his welcome.

Alford, though, barely got one. And with a thin roster and a meager recruiting class, winning games, much less hearts and minds, won’t be an easy task.

After transfers and NBA defections, the Bruins are left with just 10 scholarship players, four of whom have not played a college game and another who averaged just over six minutes last season.

Alford will turn to three players from Howland’s highly regarded 2012 recruiting class to lead the way, starting with do-everything point forward Kyle Anderson and feisty scorer Jordan Adams. The key, though, might be the other remaining member of the class, Tony Parker. A 6-9 center who fell out of favor with Howland, Parker could thrive in the size-deficient Pac-12.

Related: Q&A with UCLA's Kyle Anderson

Frontcourt


The loss of Shabazz Muhammad after one year to the NBA Draft leaves the Bruins without some firepower, but a veteran group in the post should ease some of the pain. Travis and David Wear return for their senior years and will provide leadership and production, though both need to get better around the rim.

Parker toyed with the idea of transferring but stayed in Westwood hoping to improve drastically on his meager 6.3 minutes per game last year as a freshman. Reports about Parker over the summer were positive — if he has dropped some weight and added some mobility, the Bruins may have their big man.

UCLA also picked up a key transfer in former Texas Tech forward Wanaah Bail, a lengthy big man who could be a defensive force in the Pac-12 when he was declared eligible this month.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Anderson is a 6-9 Swiss Army Knife who can play almost any spot on the floor. The former 5-star recruit earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season, when he averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Anderson will handle the point more frequently as a sophomore
with Larry Drew II lost to graduation. Expect his production — and his impact on the game — to increase significantly.

Adams will once again be one of the Bruins’ primary options on offense. He averaged 15.3 points (eighth in the Pac-12) and had a team-high 46 3-pointers as a freshman. Adams burst onto the scene with four straight 20-point games to start his career and added three more by the end of December. He had only four more the rest of the way, however, and UCLA will rely on him to play at a high level on a more consistent basis as a sophomore.

Defensive stopper Norman Powell, who averaged 22.1 minutes last season primarily coming of the bench, is the only other backcourt contributor returning. Two freshman, Bryce Alford (the coach’s son) and Zach LaVine, will play immediately. Alford, who broke the New Mexico high school single-season scoring record last year, is a capable outside shooter. LaVine can play both backcourt positions and oozes potential.

Newcomers

UCLA's 2013 class does not have the star power of the previous haul, but multiple players could be thrust into major roles early. Freshman Zach LaVine should see time as the backup point guard. Wanaah Bail, who originally signed with Texas Tech, will be a key part of the frontcourt. Bryce Alford, Steve’s son, can bring some outside shooting off the bench. Noah Allen will find time as a reserve small forward.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 1-3. Steve Alford is 1–3 as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The losses have come to two No. 14 seeds and a No. 11 seed.


Ultimately, the biggest thing Alford has going for him is that he’s not Ben Howland. Howland’s gruff exterior was tolerable, if not commendable, during UCLA’s three-year Final Four run in the mid-2000s. While no banners were hung, the Bruins hadn’t enjoyed that kind of success in decades. Things turned sour for Howland, however, and the school opted to pull the plug in March.

Alford steps into one of the elite coaching jobs in the nation. There is pressure to win every year at UCLA. And while the 2013-14 roster lacks depth, there is enough talent in the short term to contend for the Pac-12 title. Long term, Alford will need to prove that he can build a program that can compete for a national title on a consistent basis. UCLA fans will accept nothing less.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

 

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 UCLA Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-qa-uclas-kyle-anderson
Body:


This Q&A and more on UCLA and the Pac-12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.
Kyle Anderson is a New Jersey native who was considered one of the top point guards coming out of high school two years ago. Anderson’s freshman season at UCLA was solid — he earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors after averaging 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists — but he was forced to play out of position due to the presence of senior point guard Larry Drew II.

Now, as a sophomore, Anderson can expect to have the ball in his hands more frequently while playing under new coach Steve Alford. Athlon Sports caught up with Anderson over the summer to talk about his transition to the West Coast and his thoughts on the upcoming season.

His UCLA team checked in at No. 23 in our countdown
.

You are  New Jersey guy. Why did you decide to go to all the way across the country and what do you miss most about the northeast?

I wanted to go to UCLA because of its history and tradition. The hardest thing was the distance. It’s been a challenge, but I came around, and I’m happy I decided to come all the way out here. I was real homesick last year, especially in the summer, but I got over it once the games started. It was rough at first, though. It’s been a personal challenge for me and I never considered leaving for another school.

You were recruited by Ben Howland. When did you know he was going to be fired at UCLA and were you surprised when it happened?

We won the Pac-12 regular-season title, but I think we started to have an idea when we lost in the conference tournament. I got a call from Coach Howland right after he got fired. It was tough because he was the one who recruited me. I thought we had a very good season, but obviously it wasn’t up to me. It was a distraction at times during the season, but we tried to stay focused and not pay attention to what people were saying. 


Do you ever think about what might have happened — and whether Howland would still be the coach — if Jordan Adams (right) hadn’t broken his foot in the Pac-12 tourney?

In my opinion, if Jordan hadn’t gotten hurt, we would have been the fifth seed out west and done well in the NCAA Tournament. Jordan’s injury was very unfortunate, especially the timing of it. I think it all would have worked out if he hadn’t broken his foot, but you can’t go back and think about that now. We have to just look ahead. 


How close did you come to putting your name in for the NBA Draft last year?

Very close, but I decided that this was the right move for me. I wanted to take this offseason as another challenge, to get my body right and take my game to another level rather than trying to go to the NBA. I wanted to stay another year, work on my game and enjoy college for another season. 



Did you know anything at all about Steve Alford, and what are your impressions of him thus far?

I watch enough college basketball and saw a few New Mexico games last season. They had a very good team with guys like Tony Snell and Kendall Williams. I saw the freedom he gave those guys, and hopefully he can bring the success and that freedom to UCLA.

How anxious were you through the process after Howland got fired?

I was wondering who our coach was going to be. The way I found out about Alford being our coach is that someone woke me up and told me. I didn’t really know who he was at first, but when they said he’s the coach at New Mexico, then I realized who it was. He’s a guy who played for one of the greatest coaches of all time in Coach (Bob) Knight and also won a national title. So he knows what it’s like to win at the highest level.

You had to play power forward last season as a freshman. What was the most difficult part of the adjustment and how did it help you?

It was tough going up against guys that were two or three years older and much bigger and more physical. I had to step up for the challenge and it was hard for me, especially early in the season. Once I figured out that I had to be the one to hit first, it became much easier for me. But the physical aspect was by far the most difficult.

Related: 2013-14 Pac-12 Preview

Has Alford told you what your role will be this season — and whether you’ll be the primary point guard?

We haven’t talked about that at all yet. I’m not sure and I’m not going to ask, I’m not that kind of kid. I don’t want to make demands or anything like that, but it’ll be nice to know where I’m going to play. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

Have you always played point guard before last season?

Yes, but I haven’t played it in a while now. But growing up, I was always the point guard. My whole life. Although my first two years at St. Anthony’s, I played with Myles Mack, who is at Rutgers now. I played off the ball a decent amount, but not nearly as much as I was last year with Larry (Drew). Last year playing off the ball encouraged me to go and rebound more. Go get the ball.

You are a unique point guard. Who do you try and pattern your game after?

I’ve always enjoyed watching NBA Classic and seeing Magic Johnson — the way he made his teammates so much better and the way he’d handle the ball and put guys on his hip. Even before I grew, I admired him. Obviously, I’m nowhere near Magic, but we’re both big point guards. He’s one of the best players ever to play the game. Other guys I liked to watch tape of are Penny Hardaway and Steve Smith.

Who gave you the nickname Slow-Mo?

It was this guy named Hassan, who used to commentate over the loud speaker at the IS8 league in New York. I was a young player and he gave me the nickname and it stuck. I loved it. It’s just the way I am. I don’t intend to play slow, but it’s just the way my game is.

How good is Alford’s son, Bryce?  Can you guys play together?

He’s a very good player and can do a lot of things. He’s good with the ball in his hands and finds people. He can create for himself and what he can also do is really shoot the ball. I think we can play together in the backcourt because of his ability to shoot. He can definitely help us this year.

What did you wind up doing in the offseason — and what was your focus in terms of getting better?

I stayed in L.A. all summer for summer school. The biggest thing for me was my eating habits. It sounds silly, but it’s been my Kryptonite. I’ve never been big on eating healthy. I’ve started watching what I eat and it’s already paid off. I’m trying to make it a lifestyle. Sometimes I still cheat on my diet, but I’m already seeing a difference in my body. I played last year at 240 pounds. Now I’m down to 230, and it’s a lot more muscle. If I’m going to cheat on my diet, it’s probably going to be with fast food — maybe a grilled chicken sandwich at McDonald’s.

Most important thing you learned playing for legendary high school coach Bob Hurley?
Just taking everything one day and one practice at a time. Great practices lead to great games. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Related: 2013-14 UCLA Preview

Favorite visiting venue to play in?

When I was able to come back close to home last year and play in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was great having my family there, but the arena was also unbelievable.

Least favorite?

Colorado. People talk about the altitude, but you don’t believe them until you play there. I thought it was a myth, but it’s tough to breathe. No wonder why the Nuggets are so tough to beat at home.

Other coach in the league he would like to play for?

Sean Miller at Arizona. When he was the head coach at Xavier, he was the first one to offer me a scholarship. I was really young. I think he started recruiting me when I was in the eighth grade.

Who was the toughest player to guard last year in the Pac-12?

Arsalan Kazemi or Oregon. He has a motor like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and was much stronger and older than me. I couldn’t do anything with him.

Toughest defender you’ve gone up against?

Carlos Emory, also of Oregon. He’s a very good defender, another guy with a high motor who was stronger than me. It came down to experience and he had more than me, as tough as it is to say.



Best player you’ve ever played with?

Kyrie Irving. I played with him in an all-star game and he was just amazing. He can do everything. I was a young kid. He’s like poetry in motion.

Teaser:
College Basketball: Q&A with UCLA's Kyle Anderson
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/andy-reid-kool-aid-man-gif
Body:

That's right, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid was excited after another big win. And so was LSU Freek, who created another brilliant GIF. This time it was of Reid doing his best impersonation of the Kool-Aid Man. The similarities are uncanny.

Andy Reid is the Kool-Aid man

 

 

Teaser:
Andy Reid IS the Kool-Aid Man (GIF)
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 22:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/2013-legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-8
Body:
Saturday brought chaos to college football, creating nearly a complete overhaul in the rankings after six of the top 10 teams went down in defeat.
 
No. 3 Florida State made the most impressive statement of the weekend, demolishing then-No. 3 Clemson 51-14 in Death Valley. The Seminoles became the first team to score 50 or more points at Clemson. The loss dropped the Tigers to No. 10.
 
Top-ranked Alabama managed to tighten its stranglehold on the No. 1 spot in the Legends Poll. The Crimson Tide received 15 of the 16 first place votes and remain the lone SEC team in the top 10.
 
No. 2 Oregon stayed unbeaten as it awaits a showdown with No. 15 UCLA next weekend. UCLA suffered its first loss at the hands of No. 5 Stanford Saturday but poses a challenge for Oregon.
 
Ohio State held on against Iowa at home and stayed put at No. 4.
 
No. 6 Baylor made its highest ever appearance in the Legends Poll and first ever showing in the top 10. No. 7 Missouri, No. 8 Miami (FL) and No. 9 Texas Tech all made their top 10 appearances this season.
 
Auburn made one of the biggest moves in the rankings, jumping all the way to No. 12 after knocking off Johnny Manziel and No. 17 Texas A&M Saturday.
 
No. 22 Northern Illinois, No. 24 Oregon State and No. 25 Arizona State were also newcomers to the rankings this week.
 
Florida, Georgia, Washington and Texas all dropped out of the top 25.
 
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
 
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AlabamaAlabama (15)7-03991
2OregonOregon (1)7-03822
3Florida StateFlorida State6-03685
4Ohio StateOhio State7-03554
5StanfordStanford6-131612
6BaylorBaylor6-031111
7MissouriMissouri7-030814
8Miami (FL)Miami (FL)6-029313
9Texas TechTexas Tech7-024816
10ClemsonClemson6-12343
11LSULSU6-22116
12AuburnAuburn6-1200-
13OklahomaOklahoma6-119517
14LouisvilleLouisville6-11708
15UCLAUCLA5-11629
16Oklahoma StateOklahoma State5-114919
17Texas A&MTexas A&M5-21467
18WisconsinWisconsin5-213418
19Virginia TechVirginia Tech6-110821
20Fresno StateFresno State6-010520
21South CarolinaSouth Carolina5-28210
22Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois7-070-
23MichiganMichigan6-15724
24Oregon StateOregon State6-142-
25Arizona StateArizona State5-233-

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 11:53
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/colts-cornerback-vontae-davis-thinks-he-played-tom-brady-last-night
Body:

After all the massive hoopla surrounding the return of Peyton Manning to Indianapolis for last night's game (and the fact that he JUST played against Peyton Manning), you'd think Colts cornerback Vontae Davis would know that it wasn't Tom Brady he just played. You'd be wrong.

Teaser:
After all the massive hoopla surrounding the return of Peyton Manning to Indianapolis for last night's game (and the fact that he JUST played against Peyton Manning), you'd think Colts cornerback Vontae Davis would know that it wasn't Tom Brady he just played. You'd be wrong.
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 08:46
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-linemen-cant-find-coach-gatorade-dousing
Body:

When the Ole Miss Rebels beat No. 6 LSU in a stunning upset this weekend, players were anxiously awaiting the joy of giving coach Hugh Freeze a ceremonial Gatorade bath. Unfortunately, they couldn't find him and wandered the field with a giant bucket and nobody to douse. It was equal parts sadness and hilarity. Mostly hilarity.

Teaser:
When the Ole Miss Rebels beat No. 6 LSU in a stunning upset this weekend, players were anxiously awaiting the joy of giving coach Hugh Freeze a ceremonial Gatorade bath.
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 07:32
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-wichita-state-preview
Body:


This preview and more on Wichita State and the Missouri Valley Conference are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 25 Wichita State Facts & Figures
Last season: 30-9 (12-6 Missouri Valley)
Postseason: NCAA Final Four
Coach: Gregg Marshall (139-70 at Wichita State)
Missouri Valley projection: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
There is no mystery as to how Wichita State will follow up its Final Four appearance. The Shockers will do the same things they always do under coach Gregg Marshall — defend, rebound, play harder than most teams and win a bunch of games.

That should be enough to get them back in the NCAA Tournament. There, they will take their chances with another tough team loaded with experience and confidence. The Shockers are 9–2 in the postseason with an NIT title and two NCAA appearances the past three seasons. They know how to win against good teams.

“This team has to make some new footprints,” sophomore guard Fred VanVleet says. “It’s nice to look back (on the Final Four), but we lost key guys from that group and it’s time to reload and go right back to war with a new group of guys.”

Frontcourt

A year ago, few people outside Wichita knew about forward Cleanthony Early. During summer workouts, Marshall said that Early had miles to go to understand defense and the need to play hard all the time. Early, then a junior transfer from a Division III junior college, figured it out quickly, especially on offense. In the Final Four, he caught the nation’s attention with 24 points and 10 rebounds against Louisville. He went to the Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy over the summer, and NBA scouts will stalk WSU games this season. He worked on ball-handling and defense in the offseason.

The rest of the frontcourt is inexperienced. Carl Hall, the team’s best post scorer, and Ehimen Orukpe, a shot-blocker, are gone. Kadeem Coleby is a transfer from Louisana-Lafayette, where he averaged 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. Forward Darius Carter earned NJCAA All-American honors at Vincennes (Ind.) University after averaging 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. Freshman Shaq Morris is a skilled post player. Senior Chadrack played in 30 games last season.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

VanVleet takes over for Malcolm Armstead as the on-court leader. As a freshman, he enjoyed the luxury of learning from seniors Armstead and Demetric Williams. As a sophomore, VanVleet takes on greater responsibilities.

He’ll get plenty of help from the wings. There are not many years of experience in this group, but there is plenty of quality time played big games. Junior Tekele Cotton is a defensive stopper who turned himself into a good outside shooter. Sophomore Ron Baker missed most of the regular season with a stress fracture in his left foot but returned for the postseason and started all five NCAA Tournament games.

“The majority of us are young, but at the same we’ve got a lot of minutes under our belt,” Baker says. “I feel pretty confident in our team. We’re just going to have to get our chemistry right so that we can be successful.”

Sophomore Evan Wessel started eight games before a broken finger ended his season. He made 11-of-24 3-pointers and is one of WSU’s best defenders. Senior Nick Wiggins (41.9 percent from three last year) is an excellent shooter off the bench. He is the brother of Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top newcomer.

Newcomers

The Shockers grabbed forward Darius Carter during their Final Four run, and he is expected to help up front. He is an outstanding athlete with good offensive skills. Center Kadeem Coleby, who practiced with the team last season, is a shot-blocker and rebounder who can score around the rim. Center Shaq Morris knows he needs to get in better shape, but he is a prized recruit. It’s not often WSU gets a physically developed big man with four seasons to develop.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 30. Wichita State set a school record for wins with its 30–9 record and has averaged 27.8 wins the past four seasons. Four straight seasons with 20-plus victories are a first for the program.


The Shockers defeated Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State last season on the way to Atlanta. They didn’t win the MVC, going 12–6 and losing twice to Evansville. That’s both a credit to the Valley and a reminder to the Shockers that they can’t cruise into another memorable March.

With Creighton’s departure for the Big East, Wichita State is the MVC’s clear favorite. A challenging non-conference schedule includes games against Alabama, Saint Louis, Tennessee and Davidson. The potential issues are interior scoring and depth behind VanVleet. Early should develop into a star who can carry WSU with his scoring, and VanVleet, Baker and Cotton are youngsters who play with great composure. Don’t underestimate the return of Wessel, who will add another good shooter and a smart player who knows how to run the offense.

The Shockers’ talent and depth should send them into March with 20 wins and a chance for more. As long as Marshall is the coach, that will be the expectation for Shocker fans every season.

*Photo courtesty of Jeff Tuttle, Wichita State

 

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

 

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Wichita State Preview
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, Big 12, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-baylor-preview
Body:


This preview and more on Baylor and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 24 Baylor Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-14 (9-9 Big 12)
Postseason: NIT champion
Coach: Scott Drew (180-138 at Baylor)
Big 12 projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Ten years after inheriting one of the most difficult situations in college basketball history, Scott Drew and his Baylor basketball team will kick off the 2013-14 season by hanging a championship banner in the Ferrell Center rafters.

Granted, an NIT title hardly compares to a NCAA trophy — or even a Big 12 championship. Still, for a program that nearly received the death penalty following the Patrick Dennehy murder scandal in 2003, winning any sort of trophy is considered a monumental feat in Waco.

“We were disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament,” Drew says. “But what happened in the NIT was great for this program. It brought a lot of pride to our school and our community. Now we’re ready to take that next step.”

Even with the loss of Big 12 scoring and assists leader Pierre Jackson, Drew and his players are optimistic about the upcoming season. Kansas may be the clear-cut favorite to win its 10th straight conference title, but sleeping on the Bears would be a mistake.

Frontcourt

Not many teams in the country will be as strong in the paint as Baylor. The Bears caught a break when 7-foot-1 center Isaiah Austin was forced to return for his sophomore season after tearing his right labrum in April. Austin was projected as a mid-to-late-first-round NBA Draft pick and had all but decided to leave school after one season, but the injury would’ve kept him from conducting individual workouts with prospective teams and would’ve hurt his draft stock. Austin averaged 13.0 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds as a freshman, but he was often manhandled on the defensive end. He needs to add some bulk to his wiry, 225-pound frame.

Joining Austin down low is senior Cory Jefferson, a freakishly athletic forward who keyed the Bears’ postseason success. The 6-9 Jefferson averaged 21.2 points in five NIT games and enhanced his skills during the summer as a member of the United States squad that competed in the World University Games in Russia.

Also figuring prominently into the rotation will be Ricardo Gathers, a 270-pound bruiser who averaged 5.7 points and 5.7 boards last season despite playing just 17 minutes a game.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

The Bears took a massive hit with the graduation of Jackson, a second-round NBA Draft pick who led the Big 12 in scoring (19.8 ppg) and assists (7.1 apg). His likely replacement will be Kenny Chery, who averaged 16.4 points and shot 45 percent from 3-point range in junior college last season. Chery is known as a “scoring guard,” but Drew wants to make sure he also focuses on feeding the Bears’ standout post players as well as long-range specialist Brady Heslip, a senior shooting guard who is looking to bounce back from a mediocre junior year.

Combo guard Gary Franklin, who has been a staple in the Bears’ backcourt rotation the past two seasons, could challenge Heslip for a starting spot. Also contending for minutes will be freshman Allerick Freeman, a top-100 recruit who signed with the Bears in the spring after decommitting from UCLA. Freeman is a shooting guard, but he’s told Drew that he wants to play point guard as well.

The biggest area of improvement for Baylor in 2013-14 will likely be on the wing, where the Bears have three “inside-outside” players who are capable of playing both on the perimeter and in the paint. Freshman Ishmael Wainwright was the highest-ranked member of the program’s 2013 recruiting class and should contend for a starting spot with the versatile Royce O’Neale, who averaged 11.4 points and 5.5 rebounds for the University of Denver last season. Sophomore Taurean Prince will also be in the mix for playing time.

Newcomers

Although they are both natural small forwards, Ishmael Wainwright and Royce O’Neale can play any position except center. The long and athletic Wainwright is known for his leadership and defensive fire — two things Baylor has lacked. O’Neale was one of the better players in the WAC last season for Denver. His experience may give him an edge. Allerick Freeman is a highly ranked combo guard who initially committed to UCLA.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 15–4. Scott Drew since has an 15–4 record in the postseason at Baylor. Under Drew, the Bears have earned three NCAA Tournament bids and made two appearances in the NIT.


Most teams that lose a player of Jackson’s ilk tend to take a step back the following season — especially considering he played the most important position on the court. Baylor, though, returns virtually every other key piece of its roster. The keys for Baylor will be how quickly Chery adapts to the Division I level, the improvement Austin makes on the defensive end and the impact on the wing from Wainwright and/or O’Neale. If those things turn into positives for Baylor, the Bears will be contending for championships much more prestigious than the one they won in 2013.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Baylor Preview
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-8
Body:
Transamerica is a proud sponsor of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is presented each year by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Education Foundation to the nation’s top college quarterback based on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments. Candidates must be a graduating senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class. As a leading financial services company, Transamerica takes pride in being there for those moments when our customers say, “It’s real now.” Moments like the birth of a new baby, the opening of a new business, college acceptance, retirement, and other key milestones. By showing our support for the young men on the Top 30 watch list, we look forward to seeing them thrill fans around the country and experience moments during the season and beyond when they say, “It’s real now.” 
 
Jordan Lynch1. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois continues to keep their BCS busting dreams alive for a second straight season, and quarterback Jordan Lynch continues to play a starring role in all of it. On the road against central Michigan, Lynch set a new FBS record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game, a record previously held by another Northern Illinois quarterback, Stacey Robinson. Lynch rushed for 316 yards in the win for the Huskies. Lynch also rushed for three touchdowns and completed 20 of 30 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.
 
2. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
The NCAA passing leader continued to put up big numbers Saturday night. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion completed 35 of 45 passes for 481 yards and four touchdowns. Mannion is closing in on 3,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns after just seven games. Mannion now has 2,992 yards and 29 touchdowns to just three interceptions and he is averaging about 50 yards more per game than the NCAA’s second-leading passer, Fresno State’s Derek Carr.
 
3. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Derek Carr set a pair of new school records in Fresno State’s 38-14 victory over UNLV. After completing 33 of 46 of his pass attempts for 412 yards and four touchdowns, Carr broke career school records for completions and touchdowns and became the third quarterback in school history to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards. This week marked the fourth time this season Carr had over 400 passing yards in a game and the fifth game with at least three touchdowns.
 
4. Keith Wenning, Ball State
Keith Wenning completed 25 of 37 pass attempts for 324 yards and three touchdowns in Ball State’s road win at Western Michigan. It was the second week in a row Wenning had three touchdown passes. Wenning also continued his season-long streak of 300-yard games, now with eight. Wenning’s performance on the road helped the Cardinals improve to 7-1 and remain in first place in the MAC West Division, ahead of Northern Illinois.
 
5. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Central Florida got an early start on a weekend full of upsets when they knocked off Louisville Friday night. Central Florida went on a 31-7 run in the second half to pull the upset, and Blake Bortles played a key role in it all. Bortles tossed two touchdowns in leading Central Florida after being down 28-7 midway through the third quarter, including a short game-winning pass to Jeff Godfrey with 23 seconds left in the game. At the end of the night Bortles passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns and scored perhaps the best win of the weekend for a Golden Arm Award candidate.
 
Sponsored by Transamerica
Teaser:
The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
Post date: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 20:28
Path: /college-football/fsus-winston-claims-player-week-honors-after-clemson-rout
Body:

Jameis Winston’s performance against Clemson was nearly flawless. Just ask Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.

Even one of the few miscues for Winston — a first-quarter interception — wasn’t totally on the Florida State freshman quarterback.

“The interception was our fault,” Fisher said. “The headset went out. We signaled the route to the receiver and they ran the double move. The coach who signaled to Winston signaled for the single move. We had to throw away the headset. That could have cost you the ballgame. It cost us a huge turnover in the game. He didn't make that mistake, but he handled it well."

Winston’s poise has been the theme of the season for Florida State as much as the Seminoles’ return to the national championship stage. Against Clemson on the road, Winston displayed both by passing for 444 yards in a 51-14 rout of the Tigers.

Winston’s performance against the then-No. 3 Tigers earned him his second sweep of Athlon Sports National Player of the Week and National Freshman of the Week awards.

Athlon Sports Week 8 National Awards
 

National Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, Florida State
A crowd of more 83,000 and a top-five showdown on the road was nothing to Winston. The freshman completed 22 of 34 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns in the 51-14 blowout over Clemson. Winston also rushed for a four-yard score in the third quarter and had a 94-yard toss to tight end Nick O’Leary that nearly resulted in a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The freshman’s only interception was the result of a miscommunication by the coaching staff, which is just his third pick on the season.

National Defensive Player of the Week: Michael Sam, Missouri
Missouri beat Florida 36-17 in Maty Mauk’s first start at quarterback, but the story of the day was the Tigers’ surprisingly dominant defense. Defensive end Michael Sam recorded three sacks — to increase his SEC-leading total to 9.0 — to spearhead a Mizzou defense that limited Florida to 151 yards of offense. Sam also leads the SEC with 13.0 tackles for a loss.

National Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford

UCLA's Heisman-contending quarterback Brett Hundley came into the game 11th in the nation in passing efficiency (165.0) and eighth nationally in total offense (345.8 yards per game). The Bruins were fifth nationally in total offense (547.0 yards per game) and seventh in scoring offense (45.8). Mason's physical defense held UCLA to just 10 points and 266 yards of offense, and, in particular, made life miserable for Hundley. The Bruins quarterback threw two interceptions, was sacked four times and mustered just 219 yards of offense.

Athlon Week 8 Conference Awards

ACC
Offense: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Defense: Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State

Big 12
Offense: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Defense: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
Freshman: Davis Webb, Texas Tech
Coordinator: Phil Bennett, Baylor

Big Ten
Offense: Devin Gardner/Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Defense: Max Bullough/Denicos Allen, Michigan State
Freshman: T.J. Simmons, Indiana
Coordinator: Tracy Claeys, Minnesota

Pac-12
Offense: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Defense: Jordan Richards, Stanford
Freshman: Michael Adkins II, Colorado
Coordinator: Derek Mason, Stanford

SEC
Offense: Tre Mason, Auburn
Defense: Michael Sam, Missouri
Freshman: Marquez North, Tennessee
Coordinator: Bob Shoop, Vanderbilt

Teaser:
Jameis Winston earns his second national player of the week honors
Post date: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 14:50

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