A new look for NBA, where amazing happens

Bria Brown

Web Copyeditor

This year’s NBA season started off with a bang. There was the Kyrie and LeBron saga, landing Kyrie a spot on the Boston Celtics, the unfortunate Gordon Haywood injury, and the long-awaited Carmelo Anthony trade to Oklahoma City.

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dwyane Wade reunites with the Celevand Cavaliers alongside his tag-team brother LeBron James, and we can’t forget Russell Westbrook, signing his 205-million dollar contract extension on Kevin Durant’s Birthday.

In the midst of all the drama, my wow moment of the season, so far has been the Golden State Warriors dropping 141 points on the Portland Trail Blazers. Another team that is doing surprisingly well this season is the Minnesota Timberwolves. They already have two close wins over the OKC Thunder, and an overtime win against the Miami Heat—games that maybe they didn’t win last season.

It would be nice for Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins to go to the playoffs and even bring a ring to New Orleans. Philadelphia 76ers are the underdogs and a team, I want to see do well this season. I like what they have going on with a young core. Philly, Orlando, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and New York, all have young teams with a lot of potential. The NBA is in great hands.

Speaking of great hands, Kyrie is in the right spot with Boston. The players have so much lead way to operate as individual entities. Kyrie walked away from ‘the easy route,’ the type of decision that creates or destroys legacies. Choosing your own destiny takes courage and belief in self, and I respect Kyrie for his decision. Do you know how much faith you have to have in yourself to leave LeBron’s Cavs? At this point LeBron is a first class ticket to the finals each and every year. Beat the Warriors and you get another ring. But that goes to show, everything that glitters isn’t gold. Who knows what goes on in the locker room, what type of pressure that is, the commotion, the situation behind closed doors? A lot of times we look at people and question, ‘how could you turn that down, how could you walk away from this or that, stop complaining,’ but at the end of the day, everyone is just working from their own perspective and playing the cards they were given.

The league is pretty top heavy now, but I think in the long run, it will be good for future success. I think it raises competition for teams, they know they have to be really good to win a championship, because all of the champion teams are stacked. I think now we won’t just see players emerging as great but we will see teams rise up as great teams, dynasties so to speak. And with less teams having one proven superstar to cater to on each team, they have room to give the rookies a chance to develop and become leaders. The teams late in the draft will typically be the teams with the superstars, and the early draft teams will typically be the young teams, adding more top picks.

 

Photo Credit: Slam Online

Maryland Women Celebrate 10th Anniversary of National Championship

 

 

The fifth-ranked Maryland Lady Terrapins started off 2016 by celebrating the 10th anniversary of their national championship, when Head Coach Brenda Frese’s team came from behind to defeat Duke 78-75 in overtime at what was then known as the Fleet Center in Boston. The first 2,006 fans at the Jan. 2 game against ninth-ranked Ohio State received commemorative T-shirts as they made their way inside the Xfinity Center. During timeouts, videos were played on the scoreboard as players from that championship team shared their thoughts on Frese and their championship season. However, at the end of the day, Maryland wasn’t able to celebrate a fifth straight win against Ohio State.

Maryland bounced back from a tough loss, coming up just short against defending national champion Connecticut, 83-73 in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 28. Brionna Jones scored 24 points against the Huskies. The Terps responded with a 79-63 win two nights later in their Big Ten opener at Illinois. Jones had another big game, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 19 rebounds.

Maryland held Ohio State scoreless for the first 4:05 of the first quarter. Ohio State finally got its offense untracked, but the first quarter was a sloppy one for both teams, as they combined for 13 turnovers. Maryland led 18-14 after the first, led by seven points from Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. The Terrapins stretched that lead out to 28-20 with a 10-3 run over a three-minute stretch, capped by a layup from Walker-Kimbrough with six and a half minutes left in the second quarter, forcing Ohio State to call a timeout as the crowd of 10,119 roared its approval. However, the Buckeyes held the advantage for the rest of the quarter, cutting Maryland’s lead to 40-37 at halftime. Redshirt senior guard Brene Moseley led all scorers with 13 points and five assists.

Early in the third quarter, Jones found herself in foul trouble after getting called for her third foul on Ohio State’s first possession of the quarter. That triggered a 9-0 run by the Buckeyes to take a 46-42 lead as Maryland called a timeout with 7:42 left in the period. That timeout appeared to spark the Terrapins, as Moseley set up back-to-back three-pointers by Kristen Confroy and Walker-Kimbrough, and then made a free throw to put Maryland back up, 49-47 with just under seven minutes left in the third. Ohio State closed out the quarter on a 7-2 run to take a 61-57 lead into the final 10 minutes.

A three-pointer by the Buckeyes’ Ameryst Alston stretched Ohio State’s lead to 70-63 with 7:11 left in regulation. Walker-Kimbrough responded with a three of her own that cut the Buckeyes lead in half and pulled Maryland to within 72-69 with 3:11 left. However, that was as close as the Terrapins (12-2, 1-1 Big Ten) would get the rest of the way as they lost to Ohio State (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) 80-71. Kelsey Mitchell of the Buckeyes led all scorers with 27 points, and the Buckeyes outscored the Terrapins in the paint, 34-14. Moseley scored 20 and dished out 10 assists off the bench. This was Maryland’s first ever loss in the Big Ten after 22 straight wins, and snapped a 28-game home winning streak. Buckeyes head coach Kevin McGuff acknowledged the significance of the win, but didn’t want his players to make it out to be more than it really was.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Maryland, and what Brenda and her staff have been able to accomplish here, so it’s a great road win against a great team. At the same time, we gotta take it for what it is: one Big Ten win,” McGuff said. “So we got to get back to work, make sure we continue to get better. As I told the team, we’re going to see Maryland again, and they’re going to be better, because they have a great team, and they always improve throughout the year, so if we’re not improving, and we’re not better, it’s not going to go our way.”

Frese chalked up the uncharacteristic play of her team to the effects of playing three games in less than a week.

“It definitely looked like you saw the effects and the impact of three games in six days. It’s not an excuse in terms of how we played. Like I told our team in the locker room, when you want to be a championship team, we want to compete for titles, there’s going to come a time in the tournament where we got to play three games in three days,” Frese said. “I thought there were a lot of uncharacteristic plays of us with fatigue today, which is the mental side of the game for us as a team that we got to improve on.” Frese credited Ohio State for coming out with more energy in the second half, and said her team played loose with the ball, committing 20 turnovers. With all the hype about celebrating the 10th anniversary of Maryland’s national championship, Walker-Kimbrough took responsibility for the loss.

“Today…I don’t think I came out ready to play, and so I’ll take this loss for my team. I have to come out better, and play a lot better,” said Walker-Kimbrough, who scored 16 points, but only shot six of 17 from the floor, and committed seven turnovers.

Maryland’s next game will be at home on Jan. 7 against Nebraska (9-3, 0-1 Big Ten) for “Basketball Bingo” Night.

UB Marketing Professor: Ray Rice, NFL can do more to clean up images

The 2014 NFL season started with scandal when the video of what happened in the fight between former Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancé (now wife), inside an elevator in the Revel Casino in Atlantic City was released to the public. After that, a handful of other players were arrested and charged with domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. In spite of achieving all-time highs in both TV ratings and revenue, the season ended with accusations that the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots used underhand lated footballs during the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, as well as possibly during the Divisional Round against the Ravens. After such a scandal-plagued season, a UB professor says both Rice and the NFL can do more to improve their images.

Dr. Dennis Pitta, a Professor of Marketing in the Merrick School of Business, gave Rice credit for taking responsibility for knocking his now-wife Janay unconscious, and acknowledging that it was wrong and shouldn’t have happened. However, Pitta said there’s still one more piece to the puzzle that Rice can work on more.

“The third piece is that getting some kind of treatment therapy help to prevent it from happening in the future,” Pitta said, adding that there’s a way Rice can help other players from ending up in the same situation he got into.

“You know what I’d love to see him do? I’d love to see him do a workshop for other NFL players with the same kind of issues to show how he has gone from a guy who was abusive to his fiancé to a man who’s going to protect his wife,” Pitta said.

Pitta said by doing this, Rice can be more effective in getting through to the players, especially young players, than an outside professional like he did.

Rice wasn’t the only player arrested for violence against women and children this past season. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse in Texas after using a switch to punish his four-year-old son for misbehaving. Peterson’s been suspended by the NFL until April 15. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was also arrested and charged with domestic violence, but those charges were dropped on Feb. 9 when his ex-girlfriend, the woman who accused him, wasn’t available to help prosecutors build a case against Hardy. He’s expected to be released by the Panthers this spring and become a free agent. San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested and charged with sexual assault over Labor Day weekend, and was released by the team in December. Pitta says he’d like to see the NFL institute workshops for its players similar to what Maryland law requires for employees.

“We have Title IX kind of workshops to avoid any kind of sexual harassment issues. It’s mandatory. Everybody’s got to do it. The NFL should have a mandatory program so that anybody who is a critic could look in and say, ‘Oh, they do this. Everybody’s got to do it. No one’s going to escape. No one is the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl and get away and miss this.’ You need complete transparency. You need complete, comprehensive coverage of every player in the league,” Pitta said.

He said social media is playing a role in making it harder for the NFL to look the other way when such major issues and scandals crop up.

“Back in the day, when social media wasn’t so prevalent, so important, so powerful, the NFL could just shrug its shoulders, probably, and move on; but now there are organizations, watchdog groups that hold people accountable for what they’ve done, and what’s happening. The NFL is in a new era,” Pitta said. He says the NFL should make an effort to work with groups that advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“They’re going to be working with their critics, and the only way the critics are going to be satisfied is if they see their input is taken and they see some work that’ll probably be effective,” Pitta said. With women becoming a bigger part of the NFL’s fan base, Pitta said the league can continue to sell its female fans on the greatness of the sport, and how it’s working with its players on being people who can be respected. He said that approach will have a better approach than just sweeping a problem under the rug and looking the other way. Pitta said football is here to stay, and the NFL will be able to overcome the scandals of this past season, but only until the next major controversy pops up.

Orioles hot stove: Young re-signs, Hundley goes back to West coast

One of the key players in Baltimore’s run to the ALCS last year will be back for the 2015 season, while another piece will be going back out West.

The Orioles announced on Jan. 9 that reserve outfielder Delmon Young passed his physical after he and the team agreed in principle to a one-year, $2.25 million contract. The value of the contract could reach as much as $3 million if Young hits all the incentives in the contract. Last year, Young appeared in 83 games and hit .302 with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in. His biggest hit of the season was a pinch-hit three- run double that gave the Orioles the lead in the eighth inning of Game 2 in the Division Series against Detroit and sent a standing-room-only crowd at Oriole Park into a frenzy. Young was the only free agent that the Orioles were able to keep this offseason. Nelson Cruz signed with Seattle; left-handed reliever Andrew Miller signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the New York Yankees, and longtime right fielder Nick Markakis signed with Atlanta as a free agent.

Joining Cruz, Miller, and Markakis in the exodus from the Orioles was catcher Nick Hundley, who signed a two-year, $6.25 million contract with the Colorado Rockies. Hundley came to Baltimore in a trade in May that sent reliever Troy Patton to San Diego. The move was made to give the Orioles depth at catcher after Matt Wieters was lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. During his time with Baltimore, Hundley hit .233 with five homers and 19 RBIs.

The Orioles have made some additions so far during this offseason. They signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a minor league contract, and have invited him to Spring Training, which will begin when pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Florida on Feb. 19. Arencibia hit .177 in 62 games with the Texas Rangers last season, and hit .279 in 48 games with Triple-A Round Rock. Arencibia previously played with Toronto. The Orioles are uncertain if Wieters will be ready for Opening Day. Baltimore also claimed former Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Chicago Cubs, and signed former Cubs reliever Wesley Wright to a one-year contract. The Orioles are continuing to look for a replacement for Markakis in right field.

In other news, Baltimore named Scott Coolbaugh as its new hitting coach on Dec. 19. Coolbaugh was Texas’ minor league hitting coordinator last year. Prior to that, he was the Rangers’ hitting coach in 2012, when the team led Major League Baseball in runs scored with 808, and was second with a .272 team batting average. Coolbaugh replaces Jim Pressley, who’s been assigned another role within the Orioles organization.

The Orioles have announced details for their annual Fan Fest. The festival will be sponsored by “Visit Sarasota County,” and will be held on Jan. 31 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets will be $12 for adults and $6 for senior citizens and children ages 14 and under. The day will feature Q&A forums moderated by MASN announcers with players, GM Dan Duquette, and manager Buck Showalter. Fans can also get autographs from players, bid on team merchandise in a silent auction, and go on tours of the Orioles’ clubhouse. Younger fans can take part in baseball clinics, and even ask questions of players in a kids’ press conference.

Maryland sweeps season series against Michigan State, takes lead in Big Ten

The University of Maryland men’s basketball team began its inaugural season of Big Ten basketball by traveling to Michigan State on Dec. 30. After an ugly first half in which both teams struggled to shoot and take care of the basketball, Maryland survived falling behind, and managed to force overtime when Dez Wells tied the game by hitting a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in regulation. The Terrapins used 13 of 16 shooting from the free throw line in overtime to hang on for a 68-66 win in a double-overtime classic. On Jan. 17, the Spartans made their first Big Ten regular-season visit to College Park.

Melo Trimble went eight of 16 from the floor, including six of 11 from the three-point line, for a game-high 24 points, and Jake Layman added a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds as number 14 Maryland swept the season series from Michigan State with a 75-59 win. The Terps (17-5, 5-1 Big Ten) now sit atop the Big Ten standings.

With the sellout crowd of 17,950 into it from even before the starting lineups were announced, both teams went scoreless for nearly the first two minutes of the game before Layman set up Melo Trimble for a three to open the scoring. Michigan State used an 8-0 run over a three- minute stretch to take a 10-5 lead, but Maryland used defense to start a run of its own. The Terps forced four turnovers and Trimble knocked down three straight threes during a 19-4 run to take a 24-14 lead with just under seven minutes left in the first half. Trimble scored 13 points during the run, and finished the first half with five three-pointers and 21 points to lead all scorers to give Maryland a 40-26 halftime lead. He capped the first half by crossing up his defender and then draining a three off the dribble before his teammates mobbed him going into the locker room.

“For some reason, Jake was higher. Normally he’s in the corner, but he was higher up on the other side of the court. Damonte (Dodd) was coming to set a screen, but it was too slow, so I just told him to go back, and I decided to take my man one- on-one. If I didn’t have it, to kick it out to Jake. I freed up and shot the ball,” Trimble said. “I never made someone fall. I never made a move like that before in my life, so I was pretty excited myself. I didn’t know what to do.”

Jared Nickens started the second half with a pair of threes in the first four minutes of the half to give Maryland a 46-33 lead. The Terrapins continued to pull away as Wells hit a three set up by Trimble, and Evan Smotrycz drove in for a pair of layups to give Maryland a 57-40 lead at the under-12 media timeout. Trimble’s sixth three extended the lead to 20 with 11 minutes left, and Maryland never looked back, in spite of being called for 11 fouls in the second half. Michigan State wasn’t able to take advantage, going just two of 10 from the free throw line after halftime. The Spartans (12-6, 3-2 Big Ten) were just four of 13 from the line for the game, while Maryland went 20 of 22. While giving the Terrapins credit for how they played, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo was very unhappy with how his team played.

“I thought we were awful. We didn’t make layups, we didn’t guard, and I thought this was one of the better performances by Maryland,”

Izzo said. “Take nothing away from them, but that was an inept performance by us on a big stage, and that doesn’t happen very often, and that falls on me.” Only two Spartans players scored in double figures, and the starting guards combined for only 14 points. Izzo said his team took itself out of the game, along with Maryland’s defense.

Meanwhile, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said this type of a performance by his team was a long time coming.

“That’s what I’ve been waiting for. We haven’t, I don’t think, played our best basketball recently, and our guys stepped up…and really played well. Melo and Jake carried us offensively in the first half,” Turgeon said, adding that this wasn’t the first time he’s seen Trimble take over a game like he did. He also praised Wells for his defense on the Spartans’ Denzel Valentine.

Maryland appeared to show more patience and a better shot selection than in previous games. The team wasn’t rushing to put up threes or difficult, challenged shots early in the shot clock. Layman says showing more patience on offense was critical. “It was one of our keys to the game was make them guard us, and not to shoot quick.” Layman said. “So I think in the first half we did a great job with moving the ball around and finding the open guy.” However, he said the team got away from that slightly in the second half. During the under-eight minute media timeout in the first half, former Head Coach Gary Williams was presented with a commemorative painting during an on-court ceremony. Williams was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August, as well as the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November. He’s now part of the leadership team of Maryland’s Division of University Relations, and is in charge of fundraising for the Terrapin Club Scholarship Fund. A tribute video was played on the scoreboard that featured remarks from some of Williams’ former players, as well as opposing coaches, such as Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Roy Williams of North Carolina, and Izzo.

Maryland Men’s Basketball vs. Minnesota

The 12th-ranked Maryland men’s basketball team came into their Big Ten home opener against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Jan. 3 riding high after a gutty 68-66 double-overtime win at Michigan State in their conference opener. The Terrapins came out firing, and got the crowd involved early.

Freshman guard Melo Trimble scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed six rebounds, and senior forwards Jake Layman and Dez Wells each added 12 points to lead Maryland to a 70-58 win over Minnesota (11-4 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) to improve to 14-1 (2-0 Big Ten). The Terrapins went 17 of 24 from the free-throw line in the second half after making just three of four in the first half.

Maryland went seven of 19 from the three-point line in the first half. One of those threes was from Jake Layman to give the Terps their first lead of the day. That was immediately followed by a steal and dunk by Dez Wells that got the near-capacity crowd of 15,788 roaring less than a minute and a half into the game. Maryland continued using the three to extend their lead to 26-17 with nine and a half minutes left in the first half. Meanwhile, freshman forward Damonte Dodd of Centreville, Md. and Queen Anne’s High School continues to become a fan favorite in College Park. He nearly threw down an alley-oop from Wells, but was fouled. He had a team-high nine first-half points, two blocks, and three of his seven rebounds in the first half were on the offensive glass. However, Maryland’s offense still comes and goes.

“We’re a team that plays in spurts offensively, and we had one really good spurt where everything was clicking, and we built the lead up to 15, and then just kind of held on from there,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. Maryland pulled out to a 32-17 lead with just over seven minutes left in the first half. Minnesota got back into the game by extending full-court pressure, and that took its toll as the first half wound down. The Golden Gophers went on a 16-4 run to close out the half as Maryland went just two of seven from the floor and committed four turnovers in the final seven minutes. Turgeon said the team let their offense affect their defense, and feels his players may have been nervous because of how large and electric the crowd was, even in the middle of the semester break.

“I think we were nervous a little bit because of the crowd, and we have to get used to it a little bit. How we play the rest of the year will determine what our crowds are. If we play well and continue to get better, then our crowds are going to be great,” Turgeon said.
Freshman guard Melo Trimble came out of the locker room attacking, scoring Maryland’s first seven points to start the second half. He capped his one-man run with a layup while being fouled just over three minutes into the second half. Trimble said that at halftime, Turgeon addressed the team’s lack of trips to the free throw line, and said Maryland wasn’t playing its game.

“Coach Turgeon said we weren’t shooting free throws in the beginning of the game, and that’s not the way we play,” Trimble said. “So I just took what he said and tried to get to the basket, and that’s what we did as a team.” Trimble went nine of 13 from the foul line, and scored 15 points in the second half.

Minnesota tried to speed Maryland up, and while it worked in forcing turnovers and poor quick shots by the Terrapins, the Gophers also had trouble hanging onto the ball to run their offense. The game got physical in the second half, with both teams being called for double-digit fouls, and the fans loudly booing each foul called on Maryland, including at least two on what looked like clean blocks. Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino was not happy with his team’s 19 total fouls, as well as its shot selection. However, Maryland maintained a lead throughout the second half, and Jake Layman ended any hope of a Gophers comeback by hitting a three with 2:54 left coming out of a timeout to give the Terps a 66-54 lead. Layman then blocked a layup attempt, Dodd picked up the loose ball, and connected with Trimble on an outlet pass for a layup with 1:20 left to make it 69-56 and forcing Minnesota to call a 30-second timeout. Dodd received a standing ovation when he fouled out with 1:07 left, finishing with 12 rebounds (four offensive) and three of Maryland’s nine blocks. Turgeon was pleased with his team’s defense, among other things.

“I thought our defense was really good most of the game. I thought it was terrific in the second half,” Turgeon said. The Gophers went three for 22 from beyond the arc, including 0 for 11 in the second half. Since an eight-day layoff in December, Turgeon says the team has improved the most in defending and rebounding. He’s particularly pleased with how Dodd is playing on defense, and how he’s continuing to get better and contribute more on the offensive end.

“He’s just playing with a whole lot of confidence, and the offense is just an added addition to what he gives us every game on defense. He’s a great presence at the rim” Turgeon said, adding that Dodd did a great job defending Gophers forward Maurice Walker one-on-one, without any team help. Walker led Minnesota with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s a really good big, solid, very strong. It was a pleasure to play against him,” Dodd said. He says he’s hearing about how happy people are for him back home on the Eastern Shore.

“People are just real proud ‘cause not many people get to play at the collegiate level like I’m playing at back where I’m from,” Dodd said.
Maryland will go back on the road to play its next two games on Jan. 7 at Illinois and Jan. 10 at Purdue. The Terrapins will return home on Jan. 14 against fellow Big Ten newcomer Rutgers.