Articles By Athlon Sports

Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-creighton-preview

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

No. 16 Creighton Facts & Figures
Last season: 28-8 (13-5 Missouri Valley)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 32
Coach: Greg McDermott (80-30 at Creighton)
: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
Creighton fans long dreamed of a Catholic-school basketball league, the rumors of which circulated for years like some sort of mythical treasure. They have football to thank a dream come true.

When the (former) Big East football schools added members such as Tulane and SMU in an attempt to remain relevant, the basketball schools revolted. Seven Catholic schools reformed with the Big East name and kept the tournament in Madison Square Garden. Creighton’s investments and improvements, starting under former coach Dana Altman in 1994, paid off. The Big East wanted the best basketball schools, and Creighton fit, despite a geographic issue. The Bluejays, after 55 largely successful years in the Missouri Valley Conference, are stepping up to play powers such as Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova.

“There’s a huge buzz,” senior forward Doug McDermott says. “It’s always been out there, and then it just happened.”

McDermott, a 6’8” All-American, is responsible for much of that buzz. He turned down NBA possibilities to play his final season in the Big East. In July, the buzz grew when the NCAA gave forward Grant Gibbs, one of the nation’s best passers, a sixth season. The Bluejays enter the Big East as one of the favorites with four starters and three experienced reserves back.

McDermott’s return makes the transition easier. Coach Greg McDermott, his father, knows life in the Big East will test Creighton in ways the MVC did not. Creighton owned the best (or close to it) of everything — tradition, resources, facilities, academics, city — in the Valley. In the Big East, assets such as an NBA-quality arena are not nearly so special. While the Bluejays consistently won in the MVC, they did not dominate. Since 2000, they've won four MVC regular-season titles, sharing two. “We’ve gone from the top of the heap to the middle or near the bottom,” Greg McDermott says.


For its debut, Creighton will hit teams with a blend of outside shooting and crisp execution that is difficult to defend. It finished second nationally in shooting percentage (50.1 percent) and 3-point shooting (41.4). Doug McDermott (23.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is an excellent shooter who hustles his way into easy baskets and scores with a variety of post moves. He improved his dribble game and mid-range shot as a junior, despite defenses designed to stop him. Gibbs (8.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) excels at finding McDermott at his sweet spots and helps run the team from his forward position.

Creighton will miss center Gregory Echenique, whose size enabled him to guard most big men without help. He gave a finesse team a good dose of banging, and his replacements are not nearly as experienced nor physically imposing. Junior Will Artino (3.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg) is the first choice to man the middle.

“He played great basketball for us in February and March,” Greg McDermott says. “His skill level is on the perimeter offensively, and he’s a great passer.”

Sophomore Geoffrey Groselle (7’0”) played in 17 games last season. Forward Ethan Wragge (7.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg) causes mismatches with his 3-point shooting and is strong enough to guard some post players.

“I think we’ve got a group that can really shoot the basketball,” the coach says. “With Doug and Ethan Wragge, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”

2013-14 Conference Previews
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The backcourt is solid with junior Austin Chatman (7.4 ppg, 4.2 apg) back for a second season as the starter at point. He may struggle defensively with bigger guards, but his quickness makes his him a threat in the open court. Senior Jahenns Manigat (5.9 ppg) started all 36 games last season. In recent seasons, the Bluejays lacked dynamic scoring and quick defenders on the perimeter. The addition of transfers James Milliken and Devin Brooks, both juniors, should help. Brooks can ease the burden on Chatman as the prime ball-handler.
“(Milliken) has a really good feel for the game,” Doug McDermott says. “He doesn’t hunt shots. He’s looking for the post and keeps his eyes up.”

Junior guard Avery Dingman (3.7 ppg) is a career 40.7-percent shooter from behind the arc. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Zierden is also a good shooter.


Creighton went to the junior colleges in an attempt to upgrade its athletic ability in the backcourt. Devin Brooks can push the ball and get it to shooters. He averaged 5.6 assists for Iowa Western Community College, which advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament. Guard James Milliken, from Cowley (Kan.) Community College, averaged 18.5 points and made 42.2 percent of his threes. Coaches will consider redshirting freshman center Zach Hanson.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 25.7. Doug McDermott averaged 25.7 points in nine games vs. teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI last season. He scored a season-high 41 points in a win over Final-Four bound Wichita State.

Creighton leaves a comfortable home in the MVC for a bigger challenge, one filled with big names and schools with similar resources and history. Few schools will benefit more from the recent wave of conference realignment. There are risks — the Bluejays need to recruit a higher level of athlete, and they are faced with the difficulties of geographic isolation. The return of Doug McDermott and Gibbs should make the first Big East season memorable.

“Every night, we’re going to have to bring it,” Chatman says. “We have a lot of high hopes and aspirations.”

2013-14 Preseason Top 25

College Basketball: 2013-14 Creighton Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-basketball-2013-14-notre-dame-preview

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

No. 15 Notre Dame Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-10 (11-7 Big East)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Mike Brey (285-142 at Notre Dame)
: Fourth
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
After resisting conference alignment until 1995, Notre Dame became a frontrunner in the Big East, finishing second in 2011 and third in 2012. The Irish landed their fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid in 2013. Now they must adapt to their new surroundings in the venerable Atlantic Coast Conference.

“I like the veteran group that we’ll have taking us into a new league,” says coach Mike Brey, who enters his 14th season with the Irish.

Notre Dame has size and experience up front and a reinforced backcourt.

“People have said we play a little more like the ACC teams, and that’s been an advantage for us in the Big East,” Brey says. “We’re skilled. That second big guy is able to face the bucket. In the ACC, the biggest difference is the second big, or a 4-man who spreads you out and can make a shot. It’s a tricky match-up. We’ve always had the ability to play like that. I’m interested to see what gives.”

The Irish must learn to play without Jack Cooley, who won the league’s most improved player award as a junior, and then claimed first-team All-Big East honors as a senior when he averaged 13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.

“Jack was the ultimate get-a-second-shot guy,” Brey says. “We don’t have an offensive rebounder as good as Jack Cooley.”

Brey will rely upon a trio of 6-10 players — fifth-year seniors Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman and sophomore Zach Auguste — to compensate for the loss of Cooley.

Knight moved into the starting lineup early in the 2013 Big East season when veteran Scott Martin suffered a season-ending knee injury.

“He flat-out saved us,” Brey says. “If Tom Knight doesn’t come to the party, we’re going to the NIT.”

Sherman was inconsistent in his first year of eligibility after transferring from Michigan State, but he was huge down the stretch and in postseason play. Auguste emerged when Sherman struggled.

Pat Connaughton, a 6-5 junior, rebounds well enough to play the 4 spot and carried the Irish from beyond the arc in the Big East Tournament.

2013-14 Conference Previews
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The loss of sharpshooters Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis in recent years took Notre Dame’s outside game down a peg. But the Irish are solid in the backcourt with veteran guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant as well as sophomore Cameron Biedscheid, who must improve his defense and outside shooting consistency.

Freshman point guard Demetrius Jackson, a McDonald’s All-American, shooting guard Steve Vasturia and swingman V.J. Beachem provide ample depth.

The Irish now have a backcourt with the athleticism to contend with the ACC’s up-tempo pace.

“I’d like to see a Grant-Atkins-Jackson perimeter,” Brey says. “Can we pressure the ball a little more instead of just playing position defense all the time? I like that look. Notre Dame has never had a perimeter with that kind of a gear.”


Notre Dame’s perimeter play will get a boost with the addition of local standout Demetrius Jackson, sharpshooter Steve Vasturia and athletic swingman V.J. Beachem. Another local product — freshman power forward Austin Torres — may redshirt in 2013-14 but gives the Irish long-term punch up front. A pair of 6-9 sophomores — Eric Katenda and Austin Burgett — could help up front.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 11. Notre Dame enjoyed a winning Big East record in 11 of its final 13 seasons in the league (all under Mike Brey). The Irish did not have a winning conference mark in any of their first five seasons in the Big East.

Despite the loss of Cooley, a double-double machine, the Irish have size up front and a faster-paced backcourt, which takes them into their new conference prepared for a variety of styles.

“The Big East was more brute force,” Brey says. “In the Big East, if they had a wide open 15-footer, they’d still try to come at you and drive it down your throat. In the ACC, guys are going to take (the shot) a little more often. That’s kind of how we played.

“The one thing we hang our hat on is our efficiency on the offensive end. We don’t turn it over, we’re going to get a good shot, and we’re going to control tempo.”

Of concern to Brey is moving from a conference accustomed to getting eight, nine, even 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The ACC placed only four teams in the NCAAs a year ago. But Brey’s Irish have a way of adapting to the landscape, which led to an impressive 38–16 mark in their last three seasons in the Big East.

“We had such a consistent and respected identity in the Big East that you’d like to get off to a very good start in the ACC,” Brey says. “We want an NCAA bid in our first year in this new league.”

2013-14 Preseason Top 25

College Basketball: 2013-14 Notre Dame Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-new-mexico-preview

This preview and more on New Mexico and the Mountain West are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 14 New Mexico Facts & Figures
Last season: 29-6 (13-3 Mountain West)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Craig Neal (first season)
: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
Steve Alford’s swan song at New Mexico will be remembered for his reluctance to eat crow after a dispiriting Round of 64 loss in the NCAA Tournament to Harvard when a charged-up fan base expected the Lobos to cobble together a history-making run at the Sweet 16.

The once-beloved boy wonder blamed everybody else for his team’s meltdown and then authored a stirring escape and landed one of the top jobs in college basketball. Alford bailed for UCLA 10 days after signing a 10-year extension with New Mexico, which included a hefty buyout. He was replaced by longtime assistant Craig Neal, who turned down an opportunity to join his friend in Los Angeles’ shark tank to swim around in Albuquerque’s fishbowl.

The man affectionately nicknamed “Noodles” for his wiry build as a player at Georgia Tech will try to cross off benchmarks left unchecked by his predecessor.

A breathless fan base — which watched the Lobos win the Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament titles, crack the top 10, get a No. 3 seed and fizzle against a double-digit seed for the second time in six years — wants desperately to believe what Neal told reporters at his introductory news conference: “Steve set the bar really high, and I’m going to jump over it.”

With four of five starters returning from a 29–6 squad, and emboldened by a groundswell of support for its new head coach, New Mexico could finally break through, provided it shores up its offensive deficiencies.


The early-season emergence of starting forward Cameron Bairstow and center Alex Kirk forced the Lobos to switch from a four-guard lineup to the more traditional three-guard set.  

Kirk, once the biggest question mark because of offseason back surgery two years ago, is now, arguably, the Lobos’ most indispensable player, a point hammered home when the second-team All-MWC big man admitted he was grappling with graduating early and following Alford to UCLA because he wouldn’t have to sit out a year. Kirk averaged 12.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds in 2012-13, and has a feathery outside touch. He also had 63 blocks, a big reason he became only the second Lobo to make the MWC All-defensive team. The 6-9 Bairstow played surprisingly well last season but won’t fly under any team’s radar this year.   

Both Kirk and Bairstow should be confident heading into the 2013-14 season after they played for their respective countries in the World University Games.

Neal will finally have Obij Aget, a 7-foot center originally from Sudan who was a part of the Lobos’ 2012 signing class but never enrolled at New Mexico after tearing his ACL.

2013-14 Conference Previews
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Shooting guard Kendall Williams — at times a sturdy pillar, other times a shrinking violet — is the reigning MWC Player of the Year after averaging a team-high 13.3 points, highlighted by a 46-point explosion against Colorado State in which he made a MWC record 10 3-pointers.

New Mexico will rely on Williams more than ever in the absence of 3-point marksman Tony Snell, who left for the NBA after his junior season. Deshawn Delaney, a transfer from Vincennes (Ind.) University, is expected to fill Snell’s spot. Kansas transfer Merv Lindsay gives the Lobos another option on the wing.

Guard Arthur Edwards started 26 games and made 40 percent of his 3-pointers for a Northwest Florida State team that played in its second straight National Junior College Division I championship.    

Gone is Alford’s sharpshooting son, Bryce, who followed his dad to UCLA, but in his place is perhaps a more dynamic newcomer, Cullen Neal. The true freshman could see minutes this year after getting out of his Letter-of-Intent with Saint Mary’s to join forces with father, Craig.

At the helm of it all is heady point guard Hugh Greenwood, the only returning player to start every game last season. The Aussie averaged five rebounds per game and led the team in boards eight times.


Guards Deshawn Delaney and Arthur Edwards will give New Mexico a much-needed perimeter presence. Local product Cullen Neal is a high-energy player, known for riling up opposing fans. Tim Myles played for the same AAU team that produced ex-Lobo Tony Danridge and current Lobo Kendall Williams. Obij Aget was originally a part of New Mexico’s 2012 recruiting class. Merv Lindsay redshirted in 2012-13 after transferring from Kansas.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 9. New Mexico won nine games in league play in 2012-13 in which it failed to shoot better than 40 percent from the field. The Lobos compensated by holding opponents to 39 percent shooting, the second-best defensive number in program history.

Look for the Lobos to transition from being a squad that grinds out low-scoring bloodbaths into a more wide-open, offensively potent ball club under Neal. If Williams can play with more consistency, not only will New Mexico battle for top shelf in the Mountain West, but it also might, for once, be around for the latter stages of March.

*photo courtesy of Karsen King Welch/UNM

2013-14 Preseason Top 25

College Basketball: 2013-14 New Mexico Preview
Post date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-picks-every-game-week-9

A quick look at every game on the NFL schedule for Week 9, along with the consensus picks of Athlon Sports' editors.

Bengals (6-2) at Dolphins (3-4)
A pair of Texas-born and bred gunslingers go toe-to-toe in South Florida, when Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill square off on Thursday. Bengals by 4

Falcons (2-5) at Panthers (4-3)
Cam Newton had arguably his most impressive game as a pro last season against Atlanta, the NFC South division rival that also happens to be the ATL native’s hometown team. Superman threw for 287 yards, two TDs and zero INTs, while rushing for 116 yards and one TD in a 30–20 win at Carolina in Week 14 last year. Panthers by 5

Vikings (1-6) at Cowboys (4-4)
Adrian Peterson’s offensive linemen were gifted snowmobiles by the 2,000-yard MVP runner earlier this week. Now the big fellas will need to clear a path for A.D., a Palestine, Texas, native playing in front of friends and family in Big D. Cowboys by 7

Saints (6-1) at Jets (4-4)
Rob Ryan vs. Rex Ryan will be a Big Apple heavyweight bout just short of King Kong vs. Godzilla. One of Buddy’s boys will leave with dinner table bragging rights. Saints by 8

Titans (3-4) at Rams (3-5)
Why isn’t the Jeff Fisher Bowl in Nashville? Probably because the gravel-voiced, mustachioed coach demanded to have homefield advantage against the Titans-Oilers franchise he coached from 1994-2010. And this time, fans might actually show up in St. Louis — unlike the sparsely populated Monday night game played opposite Game 5 of the World Series. Titans by 4

Chiefs (8-0) at Bills (3-5)
Alex Smith has posted a remarkable 27–5–1 record over the last three seasons. That is serious “game management,” Captain Checkdown. Chiefs by 5

Chargers (4-3) at Redskins (2-5)
San Diego takes the flight from the West Coast for an Eastern Time Zone 1 p.m. kickoff. That’s usually not good for the split stats. But these Bolts have been electric on the East Coast, with wins at Philadelphia and Jacksonville this year. Redskins by 1

Eagles (3-5) at Raiders (3-4)
Chip Kelly has a revolving door at quarterback, with Mike Vick limping to the bench, Nick Foles clearing out the concussion cobwebs and rookie Matt Barkley trying to get up to speed. Meanwhile, the Silver-and-Black feel like its found a star quarterback in Terrelle Pryor — who, come to think of it, would probably be pretty darn good at running Kelly’s spread-option offense. Raiders by 2

Buccaneers (0-7) at Seahawks (7-1)
The Jaguars were unheard of 28-point underdogs on the road against the Broncos in Week 6. The Bucs opened as 16-point underdogs on the road against the Seahawks. That seems low considering Seattle’s average margin of victory at home is 20 points, including a 45–17 win over Jacksonville — Tampa Bay’s misery-loving company in the two-team winless club. Seahawks by 16

Ravens (3-4) at Browns (3-5)
The original Browns return to their original hometown to take on the expansion Browns. In Week 2, the Ravens (a team that moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996) defeated the Browns (a team that rejoined the NFL in 1999), 14–6. Judging from recent history, the timing of this contest couldn’t be worse. Baltimore is 10–1 in games following its bye week since 2002 and 5–0 after a bye under John Harbaugh. Ravens by 3

Steelers (2-5) at Patriots (6-2)
Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have won a combined five Super Bowl rings. There’s no denying their past success. This season? Not so much. Big Ben has eight TDs, seven INTs and just two wins, while Tom Terrific has nine TDs, six INTs and five sub-250-yard games. Patriots by 7

Colts (5-2) at Texans (2-5)
Indy and Houston have squared off twice since the Andrew Luck era began. In those two meetings, each team came away with a 1–1 record and a combined score of 45–45. The tiebreaker this week might not be as evenly matched. The Colts are fresh off a bye week. Last season, Luck took down the Packers in his coming out party after an off week. Meanwhile, the Texans are in the midst of a quarterback crisis, starting Case Keenum over a healthy Matt Schaub. Colts by 4

Bears (4-3) at Packers (5-2)
No need to “Daaa-ble Check,” this Monday night party is definitely in grill class. Da Bears take on Aaron Rodgers and the Pack at Lambeau Field in the 187th meeting in the league’s longest running rivalry. Dating back to 1921, Chicago leads the all-time series against Green Bay, 92–88–6. However, the Cheeseheads from Title Town are currently riding a six-game winning streak over Bill Swerski’s Superfans from the Windy City. Packers by 10

Last week: 11–3 // Season: 76–44

A preview and prediction of every game on the NFL schedule in Week 9.
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 21:14
Path: /nfl/2013-midseason-nfl-awards

The 2013 NFL season has already reached halftime — but not the one Bruno Mars will be performing at during Super Bowl XLVIII in New York. It’s way too early to start engraving the hardware, but after the first four games, these are the playmakers who have distinguished themselves as award-worthy:

Most Valuable Player
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos

Already a four-time MVP (2003, ’04, ’08, ’09), Manning is in the process of putting together the finest season of his Hall of Fame career. The 16th-year veteran has completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 2,919 yards, 29 TDs and six INTs for a 119.4 passer rating.

Offensive Player of the Year
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions

Megatron has been destroying defenses this season, with 47 catches for 821 yards and seven TDs through just seven games. Johnson is not quite on pace to break his own single-season receiving yards record (1,964 yards in 2012) but he is on pace for 1,876 yards and 16 TDs.

Defensive Player of the Year
Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks

The undisputed leader of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary, Sherman has been talking the talk and walking the walk — with swagger. The 6'3", 195-pounder out of Stanford via Compton has four INTs returned for 124 yards (31.0 ypr) and a 58-yard pick six.

Offensive Rookie of the Year
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers

It’s a wide open field for Offensive Rookie of the Year. But if Lacy stays healthy and keeps up his recent pace (296 rushing yards and two TDs from Weeks 6-8), he could wrap up the hardware and, more important, give Aaron Rodgers a little help.

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Kiko Alonso, LB, Bills

The No. 46 overall pick out of Oregon has made an immediate splash in the NFL. Alonso has 81 total tackles, four INTs for 38 yards, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this season.

Comeback Player of the Year
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs

The former No. 1 overall draft pick was thrown to the scrap heap by the 49ers in favor of Colin Kaepernick last season. One team’s trash is another team’s treasure. Smith has thrown for 1,795 yards, nine TDs and four INTs for 8–0 Kansas City.

Coach of the Year
Andy Reid, Chiefs

After being booed out of Philadelphia by the Santa-hating masses, Reid put on a big red jacket and took his bag of tricks to Kansas City, where he has the Chiefs poised to go from worst (2–14 in 2012) to first.

Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 21:04
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-power-rankings-week-8

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the unbeaten Chiefs to the winless Bucs and Jaguars.

1. Chiefs (8-0) “Baby Andy Reid” Halloween costume goes viral.

2. Colts (5-2) Reggie Wayne undergoes surgery during bye week.

3. Broncos (7-1) Peyton Manning has three INTs, lost fumble in win.

4. Seahawks (7-1) Golden Tate taunts Rams, apologizes postgame.

5. 49ers (6-2) Joe Montana critical of new stadium in Santa Clara.

6. Packers (5-2) Convert 15-of-20 third-or-fourth downs in victory.

7. Patriots (6-2) Tom Brady’s throwing hand under constant scrutiny.

8. Saints (6-1) Drew Brees completes passes to 10 different targets.

9. Bengals (6-2) Marvin Jones catches franchise record four TDs.

10. Lions (5-3) Matthew Stafford impromptu QB sneak seals win.

11. Chargers (4-3) Philip Rivers, wife Tiffany welcome seventh child.

12. Cowboys (4-4) Tyron Smith holding penalty gives Lions new life.

13. Ravens (3-4) Sign Bernard Scott to add depth to injured backfield.

14. Panthers (4-3) Record over .500 mark for first time since 2008.

15. Bears (4-3) Brandon Marshall predicts early return for Jay Cutler.

16. Titans (3-4) Bury owner Bud Adams (1923-2013) on bye week.

17. Rams (3-5) St. Louis hosts loss on MNF, Game 5 of World Series.

18. Cardinals (4-4) Larry Fitzgerald youngest player to 800 receptions.

19. Raiders (3-4) Terrelle Pryor rushes for QB-record 93-yard score.

20. Jets (4-4) Geno Smith throws two pick-sixes in 40-point loss.

21. Giants (2-6) Eli has 2–0 record, one TD, zero INTs last two weeks.

22. Eagles (3-5) Lose 10th consecutive game at home at “the Linc.”

23. Redskins (2-5) Mike Shanahan loses his Mile High homecoming.

24. Falcons (2-5) Outrushed by Cardinals, 201-to-27 yards, in loss.

25. Texans (2-5) Case Keenum to start, Matt Schaub now backup.

26. Bills (3-5) Mario Williams records 11th sack of year in defeat.

27. Dolphins (3-4) Suffer fourth straight loss after 3–0 start to season.

28. Browns (3-5) Travis Benjamin out for season after tearing ACL.

29. Vikings (1-6) Cordarrelle Patterson scores 109-yard return TD.

30. Steelers (2-5) Lose three O-linemen to injury in loss at Oakland.

31. Buccaneers (0-7) Have lost 12 of last 13 games dating back to 2012.

32. Jaguars (0-8) London’s “home” team loses in front of 83,559 fans.

Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the unbeaten Chiefs to the winless Bucs and Jaguars.
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 20:57
Path: /nfl/prime-time-players-week-8

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant said he was the best at what “he does” and Johnson was the best at what “he does.” Apparently, Bryant’s the best at throwing tantrums on the sideline in a losing effort and the receiving machine known as Megatron is the best at making plays between the lines. Johnson had 14 catches for a career-high 329 yards (23.5 ypc) and one TD during a 31–30 come-from-behind victory over Dallas. Johnson’s receiving yardage total is the second-most in NFL history, trailing L.A. Rams receiver Flipper Anderson’s 336 yards set in 1989 in an overtime game against the Saints.

Drew Brees, QB, Saints
New Orleans’ band leader threw five TDs in a single game for the sixth time in his career during a 35–17 win over Buffalo. Brees completed 26-of-34 passes for 332 yards, five TDs and zero INTs for a season-high 146.1 passer rating. Strangely enough, Brees has zero picks in games in which he throws five scoring strikes. He did, however, throw one INT during his career-high six-TD effort back in 2009. Slacker. Of Brees’ five TD passes, two deep balls went to rookie speedster Kenny Stills, two red zone over-the-middle laser beams to tight end Jimmy Graham and one score to Lance Moore.

Antrel Rolle, S, Giants
With the Giants offense able to muster just five Josh Brown FGs, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense was called on to carry the load during a 15–7 victory at NFC East rival Philadelphia. Rolle led the way with a stat-stuffing performance that included five total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one INT of Michael Vick before the Eagles dual-threat passer injured his hamstring and was replaced by rookie Matt Barkley. For the game, New York held Philly to 201 total yards, 3-of-14 conversions on third-or-fourth-down and zero offensive TDs.

Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals
The No. 187 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Ellington made the most out of NFL start No. 1 during a 27–13 victory over the Falcons. The 5'9", 199-pound rookie out of Clemson had 15 carries for 154 yards (10.3 ypc) and a highlight-reel 80-yard sprint to the end zone. Ellington’s breakout performance came just hours after his cousin, South Carolina Gamecocks receiver Bruce Ellington, had a 10-catch, 136-yard, two-TD outburst in a thrilling double-overtime win at Missouri.

The best performances in the NFL from Week 8.
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 20:48
All taxonomy terms: Adrian Peterson, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/should-vikings-trade-adrian-peterson

The NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET today. The Minnesota Vikings are 1-6 and seemingly headed nowhere. Should the team seriously consider trading its franchise running back and the reigning league MVP? Athlon editors Braden Gall and Mark Ross weigh in with their thoughts.

First, let me state for the record, that Adrian Peterson is the best running back I have ever watched or covered professionally in a decade of being in the business. He is the most physically gifted runner to come out of high school since Herschel Walker or Bo Jackson in the 80s. He is great. But the question about his future in Minneapolis is one that the Vikings brass should be asking themselves after falling to 1-6 on the season Sunday night. There are more than a few good reasons why Minnesota should trade their star tailback.

Peterson is due over $60 million in salary from 2014 to the end of his contract following the 2017 season. He hits the Vikings salary cap with over $14 million in each of the next four seasons, so taking that contract off the books opens up a tremendous amount of space to rebuild a roster. He plays the most destructive position on the field, has an extremely violent running style and a history of serious injury. All-Day Peterson, who will be 29 years old at the start of the '14 season, never comes out of the game and has touched the ball 21.8 times per game for his career — over 2,000 touches in seven seasons. Should that continue, he'd be nearing 4,000 career touches by the end of his contract. Only three players have ever topped 4,000 touches in a career: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Curtis Martin. Needless to say, his best years are likely behind him.

Lastly, his value will never be higher than it is right now. The Browns just got a first-round pick for Trent Richardson, a guy who is very talented but has averaged 3.4 yards per carry for his career. If T-Rich is worth a first-rounder, albeit a lower pick, what would A.D. be worth? Two firsts? A first and a second? Three No. 2s? Peterson is a huge cap hit, plays a devalued and high-risk position, has already used up a lot of his career tread and won't ever be worth as much on the open market as he is right now.

I would hate it for the people of Minnesota, but Vikings fans know all too well what can happen to a team that trades away a star tailback for small boatload of draft picks. The Cowboys acquired three first-round picks, three second-round picks and three Super Bowl championships for Herschel Walker in 1989.
Braden Gall ()

To borrow a phrase from a wildly successful musician who recently entered the sports agency business, Minnesota has close to 99 problems but Adrian Peterson isn’t one of them. And while he clearly represents the best trading chip the Vikings possess, there is just no way the team will get a proper return for the reigning NFL MVP and the league’s top running back.

In 1989, Minnesota traded for Dallas’ Herschel Walker, one of the top running backs in the game at that time. The cost for the Vikings was high — five players and six draft picks. The Cowboys turned those draft picks into the likes of Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith and Darren Woodson, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s while Walker played just three seasons for the Vikings, helping them get to the playoffs just once.

While Peterson (28) is around the same age as Walker (27) when he was traded and is considerably more accomplished, there is no way the Vikings can even hope for that same type of return, not in the current NFL. The Indianapolis Colts got Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns for a 2014 first-round pick in September. Richardson may not compare to Peterson in terms of production, but he is six years younger, a factor that has become even more important when it comes to running backs.

If anything, Peterson could be among the last of what is becoming an endangered species — the workhorse running back. More and more teams are either employing a running back-by-committee approach in their backfield or moving on to the “next” guy as soon as the current one starts showing signs of slowing down.  Case in point, no running backs were taken in the first round of April’s draft for the first time since 1963.

There’s no denying that Peterson is worthy of a Walker-esque haul in a trade. He’s the best running back in the NFL and one of the best to ever play the position. But there is no team that will give the Vikings that many players and picks, not in this new era of the rookie salary cap. To put it simply, Peterson is an once-in-a-lifetime player and it would take a historic trade to validate getting rid of him. Like the one Minnesota did 24 years ago. Sorry Vikings fans, I don’t see history repeating.
Mark Ross

Related Content:

Should the Vikings Trade Adrian Peterson?
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-9

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 9.

1: Cardinal defense limits Oregon State to one pass play of 20-plus yards
Stanford’s then 82nd-ranked pass defense (250.1 YPG) limited Oregon State’s top-ranked passing offense in the number of big plays they converted in the Cardinal’s 20-12 victory Saturday. Entering the game, the Beavers led the nation in pass completions of 20-plus yards. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion had just one Saturday night — a 20-yarder in the third quarter to convert a third-and-8. The drive ended four plays later on a failed fourth down attempt.
3: Trojans limited Utes to three points in third straight win against Utah
USC won its third in a row in the series against Utah with its 19-3 win Saturday, holding the Utes to three points or less for the fifth time in the 12-game series.
5: Washington moves to 5-0 when outscoring opponents in the first quarter
With 17 first-quarter points on the way to a 41-17 win over California, Washington is now outscoring its opponents 67-17 in the first 15 minutes. The Huskies are 5-0 in games where they outscore their opponents in the opening quarter, and 0-3 in the other three.
7: UCLA’s seven second-half drives produced a much different result than its seven first-half series
After a 14-all tie at halftime, nothing worked for UCLA in its 42-14 loss to Oregon. The Bruins had seven drives over the final 30 minutes, running 32 plays for 79 yards. Five of the first six drives ended in punts. The other ended with Avery Patterson’s interception of Brett Hundley that was turned into a TD seven plays later, and turned a one-score game into a two-score advantage. The last drive was the most sustained of the second half — six plays for 32 yards — but started with 2:25 left in the game, the Bruins trailing 42-14 and ran the clock out. UCLA ran 39 plays for 198 yards with two scores, an interception, two turnovers on downs, a punt and kneel down in the first half.
10: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a perfect 10 in the second half
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was a perfect 10-for-10 passing for 98 yards and a touchdown in the second half of the Ducks’ 42-14 win over UCLA. Mariota finished 21-of-28 for 230 yards and the 8-yard, third-quarter TD pass to Bralon Addison.
10 part II: Utah defense racks up 10 tackles for loss for the second time this season
In its 19-3 loss to USC, Utah recorded at least 10 tackles for loss for the second time this season (11 vs. Weber State), and held the Trojans to a season-low 30 rushing yards. It is the third time the Utes have kept an opponent under 100 yards on the ground (69 vs. Weber State, 48 vs. Oregon State), and the second time they’ve held an opponent under 300 yards (205 vs. Weber State) this season.
49: UCLA defense has given up 49 second-half points the last two weeks, after 17 the first five
After allowing only 17 second-half points in its first five games, UCLA has surrendered 49 the last two weeks against Oregon and Stanford. A 14-all tie against Oregon on Saturday was the first time the Ducks had been deadlocked at intermission. But they returned to score 28 points in the second half — the most allowed by the Bruins over the final 30 minutes this season. Last week at Stanford, UCLA trailed 3-0 before allowing 21 second-half points in a 24-10 loss.
50: Buffs receiver ties school record for plays of 50-plus 
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson collected his sixth play of 50-plus yards in Saturday’s 44-20 loss to Colorado. The 75-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter quarter tied the school’s modern-day record for plays of 50 yards or more in a single season, and was the 12th such play in his career. Richardson now has 50 catches for 914 yards and seven touchdowns, and is on pace to break the school’s single-season records in all three categories (78-1,149-11).
100: Denker becomes second Wildcats QB to rush for 100 yards since 2000 
Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker’s first 100-yard rushing game was nearly 200 (192 yards on 15 carries) in Saturday’s 44-20 win over Colorado. The senior is the first Wildcat QB to rush for 100 yards since Matt Scott last season (15-100 vs. USC). Together, they are the only two Arizona QBs since 2000 to rush for 100 yards. A career-long 54-yard run in the third quarter is where Denker picked up the majority of his rushing yards Saturday. His 457 yards of total offense (265 passing, 192 rushing) was the sixth-best offensive game in school history.
600: Huskies go past 600 yards of offense for third time this season 
With 642 total yards in its 41-17 win over California Saturday, Washington surpassed 600 yards for the third time this season. Entering 2013, the program had only surpassed 600-plus yards on six other occasions. Washington eclipsing 500 total yards for the fourth time this season is just the third time in 67 years the Huskies have accomplished that feat (2005, 2007). 
By Corby A. Yarbrough
The bizarre, important and historic numbers from around the conference.
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Atlantic 10, VCU Rams, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-vcu-preview

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 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.”


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
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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.


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
18. VCU

College Basketball: 2013-14 VCU Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-tennessee-preview

This preview and more on Tennessee and the SEC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is 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)
: 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.


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
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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.


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


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
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
1AlabamaAlabama (15)8-03991
2OregonOregon (1)8-03802
3Florida StateFlorida State7-03733
4Ohio StateOhio State8-03514
7Miami (FL)Miami (FL)7-02998
13Texas A&MTexas A&M6-220517
14Texas TechTexas Tech7-11689
15South CarolinaSouth Carolina6-216721
17Oklahoma StateOklahoma State6-115516
18Fresno StateFresno State7-011220
21Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois8-08422
22Michigan StateMichigan State7-160-
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

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

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 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)
: 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.”


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
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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.


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

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

Transamerica is a proud sponsor of the . 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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
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
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

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.

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

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


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
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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.


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

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
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
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

This preview and more on Connecticut and the American are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is 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)
: 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.”


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
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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.


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

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

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 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)
: 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.


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
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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.


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

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

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.

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

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.

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
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
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

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 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)
: 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.



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
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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.


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


College Basketball: 2013-14 UCLA Preview
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 07:00