First-set wins have been key for Syracuse this season

first_img Published on November 6, 2017 at 10:41 pm Contact David: Facebook Twitter Google+ Since the beginning of the season, Syracuse’s aggression to begin games has helped it get out to early leads and win opening sets, something it failed to do a year ago.Last season, the Orange won the opening set just seven times, a large factor for its 7-23 record. The team was young and inexperienced, head coach Leonid Yelin said, and as a result, it often took some players longer to adjust to the speed and intensity at the start of games.This year, Syracuse (17-10, 9-5 Atlantic Coast) has left its mistakes behind and learned the importance and impact of a strong start on a game. Syracuse has taken a 1-0 set lead 17 times this season. SU’s first-set success coincides with a much improved record and its players have made a conscious effort to start matches hot.“We’ve worked a lot on starting sets faster,” junior Kendra Lukacs said. “The first set is really important. You definitely want to have that one set advantage.”When the Orange gains an early advantage, it usually wins the first set and the game. When it doesn’t, it typically results in losses.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse was on the wrong end of an opening set run against North Carolina State on Nov. 3, when a 4-4 deadlock quickly turned into a 10 point deficit after an 11-1 run by the Wolfpack. SU went on to get blown out the first set, 11-25, and lost match, 3-0.Against Georgia Tech on Sept. 28, the Orange’s hitters powered a 6-1 run early on, and went on to win the first set, 25-18, and the match, 3-0. Gaining a four or five point advantage early in a set reduces pressure and gives players confidence, senior Belle Sand said.“We do this thing, ‘bang, bang, bang’ before every match,” Sand said. “We go in hard for three sets, and that’s all you need.”Along with victories, Syracuse has enjoyed shorter matches when winning the first set. Twelve of the Orange’s 26 matches this year have lasted longer than three sets, an occurrence the team hopes to avoid due to the mental and physical strain on players.When players are fatigued in practice, Syracuse practices fifth-set situations, forcing players to focus on making smart decisions like they would have to in a match, as a few slipups can cost a team the set and the game. Against Bryant on Sept. 15, the Orange allowed a service ace and committed two ball handling errors early in the fifth set, and went on to lose, 10-15.“Usually when it’s 8-8, you’re all loose, thinking ‘This game’s to 25,’” Sand said. “But in reality, you’re already half way.”With looming matchups against No. 22 Louisville and Miami, which are both ahead of Syracuse in the ACC standings, it is important for the Orange to continue starting games hot.“In every game you play, it doesn’t matter which sport,” Yelin said. “It’s always good to start on the right foot.” Commentslast_img read more

Rio Olympics: USA Basketball credits Kobe Bryant for revamping program’s culture

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The pre-practice meeting just started, and Kobe Bryant arrived drenched in sweat. As his teammates slept, Bryant already had been awake for nearly three hours to lift weights and complete a shooting workout. Bryant’s offseason routine was already legendary with endless tales of his uncompromising work ethic. This marked the first time for many of the game’s other top stars, however, to witness it. So it only seemed fitting Bryant cemented the same reputation with the U.S. Olympic team, beginning with his intensive training regimen when Team USA practiced in Las Vegas nearly nine years ago. Team USA (3-0), which plays Serbia on Friday in preliminary play of the Rio Olympics, aims to win its sixth gold medal since NBA players could compete in the Games. After winning gold in Beijing (2008) and London (2012), Bryant will not participate. But as various current and former USA Basketball players and coaches argued, Bryant’s shadow still looms.So much that USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo credited Bryant for playing “a very large part” in revamping the program’s culture after settling for bronze in the 2004 Athens Games. Coming out of his shell Before Bryant signed up for Olympic duty, doubts emerged on whether his heavy focus on scoring would resonate with a team of fellow superstars. So shortly after Bryant posted a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006, Colangelo met with Bryant and asked him a pointed question. “What if I said to you, I want you to be a distributor and not a scorer?” Colangelo asked. Bryant answered exactly how Colangelo hoped he would. “I’ll do whatever it takes,” Bryant said. “I just want to be on that team.” It sounded like the right thing to say. Words meant only so much, though.“It was weird at first to see Kobe join us,” said New York Knicks forward and close friend Carmelo Anthony, who played with Bryant both on the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams. “Nobody expected Kobe to accept the invitation to play with USA basketball. Once he did it, we had to bring him in and accept him.” It appeared both parties dipped their toes into the pool before taking a deep dive. Bryant impressed the coaching staff by sitting in the front row during the team’s first meeting before training began in Las Vegas in 2008. Bryant surprised the coaching staff, too. “Kobe sat right behind the coaches at a table by himself. It looked kind of weird,” said Nate McMillan, a former Team USA assistant. “Kobe was sitting at the first table as if he didn’t know the other guys.” Shortly after, Bryant spent part of one practice attempting long pull-up jumpers, shots he made regularly for the Lakers. Former U.S. Olympic teammate Jason Kidd mused “one of the things you can never tell Kobe is that it’s a bad shot.” Kidd told Bryant that, anyway. “Can I get you to just catch and shoot?” Kidd asked Bryant. “Why don’t you just make it simple and easy? Just catch and shoot and you’re open.” Bryant’s initial isolation from his teammates and his shooting habits, however, revealed the complexity in Bryant’s thought process. It also provided an opening for him to evolve.McMillan soon understood Bryant had stayed distant with his contemporaries so he could maintain a competitive edge. “We’re going to be together coach and the chemistry is going to be there,” Bryant told McMillan. “I don’t know those guys, but give it a little time. We’ll work it out. We’re going to be ready to get gold.” Kidd learned Bryant had not tried to score before on catch-and-shoot chances because of external circumstances. “I just never had that ability to do it,” Bryant told Kidd. “I always had to work off the dribble to get my rhythm.” Kidd and others discovered Bryant showed openness toward tweaking his game and showing more of his personality without compromising both his serious nature and scoring instincts. Though most described Bryant as more reserved than outgoing, Anthony observed that Bryant “blended right in.” His teammates became fascinated with the fandom that followed him in Beijing that evoked comparisons to Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson. Boozer saw one fan even faint over Bryant’s mere presence at a game. His teammates, however, sounded more intrigued of witnessing Bryant shed his own misconceptions. Bryant reported during the 2015-16 season that he often teased Kidd about his age and “goofed off” with each other before practice. Kidd smiled as he recalled going with Bryant to a local driving range, only to reveal his skills with a golf club hardly matched his skills on the hardwood. “He was kind of vulnerable. I thought that was kind of cool,” Kidd said. “He probably didn’t think it was cool because we were laughing. But it was like, ‘He’s human.’” Bryant showed that side the most to Anthony for various reasons. Team USA accounts portrayed Anthony as having an inviting personality. Anthony and Bryant related to each other well as high volume scorers. They frequently challenged each other to shooting contests in practice, which Anthony insisted he never lost. “It wasn’t forced,” Anthony said of his relationship with Bryant. “It happened organically and naturally after competing against one another.” Setting the tone Still, the lasting images surrounding Bryant will always involve his competitiveness. Team USA assistant Jim Boeheim had argued the U.S. Olympic team would not have lost to Greece in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championships had Bryant not been absent because of offseason knee surgery. So it hardly surprised Boeheim when he saw how Bryant approached the first scrimmage before the Tournament of the Americas in 2007. “He is pressing everybody,” Boeheim said of Bryant. “He’s just jumping all over guys screaming, going after everybody and getting everybody to do that, too. That set the tone the first day.” Bryant also set the tone at the first game of that tournament. He forced a turnover on Venezuelan guard Greivis Vasquez and dove for the loose ball. Bryant then stole the next pass and finished on a fastbreak. Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski later played the clip before the entire team as a model to follow. Soon after, Bryant asked Team USA’s coaching staff to compile tape for him to study every opponent’s top scorer. Bryant then became what Boozer called “our defensive stopper.” Bryant took that role so seriously that former Lakers teammate and Spanish forward Pau Gasol soon became a casualty. In the opening minutes of a preliminary game in Beijing, Bryant chased Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez across the court only to see Gasol set a screen near the free-throw line. Bryant bulldozed Gasol without hesitating.“That sent a message to everybody,” McMillan said. “It was a message to Spain and it was a message to us: ‘Pau is in a different uniform. We’re not teammates.’” Anthony argued “that’s when things started to turn.” After coasting to double-digit victories against Germany, Australia, Argentina, Team USA faced Spain in a gold-medal game that brought out the Bryant everyone knew. As much as Team USA appreciated Bryant’s team play and defensive intensity, Bryant remarked in several interviews that Krzyzewski also instructed him to score. That suited Bryant just fine. He scored 13 fourth-quarter points against Spain, including a four-point play that prompted Bryant to shush the crowd. Moments later, Bryant uttered something in a timeout so memorable that Boozer recited the words nearly eight years later. “This is the [expletive] moment when we squeeze them and we win the gold medal [expletive] right now!” Bryant said. “We squeeze them and we don’t let go!” Bryant kept his vow by making a layup and converting on a pair of foul shots. Bryant then emptied his water bottle on Krzyzewski’s head. “This whole thing wouldn’t have started the way it did without him,” Krzyzewski told reporters in Las Vegas. “That’s why I’m still coaching. Believe me, I recognize those moments.” Less is more Four years later, Bryant had collected two more NBA championships and absorbed a few early jabs from Father Time that his Team USA teammates gave him a new nickname. They called Bryant the “OG,” short for “Original Gangster.” The name captured both Bryant’s longevity and his elderly statesman role in the 2012 London Games. It also carried an implication that Bryant would lessen his workload in deference to Anthony, Durant and LeBron James. Bryant sounded fine with that arrangement. He frequently joked, “I’ll just be Mariano Rivera,” referring to the former New York Yankees’ closer. Bryant averaged only 9.4 points on 38.9% shooting in the first five games. Observers contend, however, that Bryant did not force too much so he could both pace through the tournament and allow others to take a lead. Yet, Bryant still exerted his influence. During one practice, Bryant watched James and Durant closely as they completed mid-post drills with Mike Hopkins, a court coach for USA basketball. Bryant then asked Hopkins to work with him. After making a few shots from the elbow, Bryant asked Hopkins a pointed question.“Are you going to play any defense?” Bryant asked. “You want me to play defense?” Hopkins asked. “I want you to play defense,” Bryant said, smirking. Boeheim, the Syracuse head coach, warned Hopkins, “you’re going to get yourself killed.” Bryant did not care and Hopkins did not listen. For the next 90 minutes, Bryant became soaked in sweat as he moved to five different spots along the post to exert his one-on-one moves. Hopkins tapped Bryant’s forearms, tipped the ball away and talked trash on the rare occasions Bryant missed. Team USA guard Russell Westbrook soon interjected, encouraging Hopkins to stop Bryant. Bryant kept scoring, though. He finally asked Hopkins incredulously if he ever watched his highlights on YouTube. Hopkins believed the session would have lasted forever had the team not planned to meet with military members later that evening. Once it did, Bryant gladly posed for a picture with Hopkins’ son, Griffin. Bryant then laughed and talked more trash about his superior post work. “It ended up being one of the greatest memories I had as a coach,” said Hopkins, the longtime Syracuse assistant. “I’ve always been a huge Kobe fan.”Bryant created more memories later when he ended his initial shooting struggles. He scored 20 second-half points against Australia, including four 3-pointers in a 66-second burst. He duplicated his prolific play in Team USA’s semifinal win against Argentina (13 points) and gold-medal victory over Spain (17). “He left it up to us for us to do all the work. But when he needed to step up, he stepped up,” Anthony said of Bryant. “He’s Kobe. He’s always going to have those moments.” Once the game, Bryant made it clear on where his future with USA basketball stood. “This is it,” Bryant said on the NBC telecast. A potential last chapter Nearly four years later, Bryant started feeling differently. Last summer, Bryant contacted Colangelo and explained his vow earlier might have been premature. “He would like to finish in a blaze of glory with another gold medal,” Colangelo recalled Bryant telling him. “But he didn’t want any freebies. He wanted to earn it.” Out of respect for Bryant’s stature, Krzyzewski argued “you would always extend the courtesy” for his return. Those tough conversations never needed to take place, though. Bryant eventually determined he would retire after his contract expired following the 2015-16 season. While that set up a farewell tour with tribute videos and reflective moments, Bryant’s final year entailed absorbing daily blows from Father Time. He averaged 17.6 points on a career-low 35.8 percent clip in 66 games with the Lakers, while fielding endless injuries to his right shoulder and right Achilles tendon. Bryant publicly withdrew his name from consideration in mid-January, arguing he wanted to allow the next generation of players to have their chance. Bryant also expressed sentiments about playing his final game with the Lakers. There also marked a practical reason. Said Colangelo: “He didn’t feel like he could be himself.” For a moment at least, Bryant felt like himself in his career-finale. Then, Bryant posted 60 points on a career-high 50 shots. For better and for worse, the game captured Bryant’s determination to play the game on his own terms. But what if that adrenaline rush convinced Bryant he could carry the Olympic torch with just as strong of a flame? “The very first thing I would say is take a look at the tape of the game and see if that may not be the one you go out on,” Krzyzewski told reporters. “Let’s talk after and he probably wouldn’t call. He wouldn’t be able to take 50 shots here.” That’s okay. Bryant left enough lasting memories with his play and presence donning a No. 10 red, white and blue jersey. All of which has left the current U.S. Olympic team eager to follow the trail Bryant outlined. center_img “His work ethic, approach and how he appreciates the game is infectious,” Team USA forward Kevin Durant said. “He’s someone that loves to play so much. He’s competitive when he steps in between those lines. He wants perfection.” Bryant chased that perfection even during ungodly hours. That left Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh shaking his head, mindful that Bryant had just concluded an NBA Finals loss to Boston in 2008 only weeks beforehand. “I thought I was working hard,” Bosh said. “Now I have to get back into the gym.” After training for three weeks together before heading to Beijing, former U.S. Olympic teammate Carlos Boozer noticed the entire team had adopted Bryant’s routine. “We all clung to it,” said Boozer, who also played with Bryant on the Lakers in 2014-15 and recently agreed to a deal to play in China. “It soon became our workout, not just his workout.” last_img read more

WATCH Live: DNI Testifying On Capitol Hill

first_imgActing Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is testifying before a congressional intelligence committee about a whistleblower complaint about a phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president. The complaint, that Trump was leveraging military aid to have Ukraine investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son for corruption, is at the center of an impeachment inquiry opened this week by House Democrats. Trump says he was just concerned with rooting out corruption and that he did nothing wrong. The whistleblower compliant was declassified yesterday and released today.last_img read more

Qualifiers claim their Brabazon places

first_img Tags: Brabazon Trophy qualifers, Hindhead, Lindrick Over 60 players came through regional qualifiers today to clinch their places in the field for the prestigious Brabazon Trophy.Warwickshire’s Liam Phipps (pictured) and George Leversuch of Essex led the way at the southern event, both scoring four-under 66 at Hindhead Golf Club in Surrey.At the northern event at Lindrick in Yorkshire, Charlie Daughtrey – from the host county – and Scotland’s Blair Morton shared the honours on two-under 68.They lead the 33 qualifiers from each course who will join the exempt players for the championship at Alwoodley Golf Club, Yorkshire, from 30 May to 2 June.It’s England Golf’s flagship tournament for men, attracting an international amateur field and two past winners have gone on to win Majors.Phipps, who works at The Belfry, also qualified for last year’s Brabazon and had the top individual score at the 2018 English Champion Club tournament. The 23-year-old from Olton commented: “It’s a goal to try to get a little bit better every year. I’ve played the county stuff and done well in that and now the plan is to try to play well in national events this year.”Leversuch, from Wanstead, matched his score with a round which started with four birdies in the first six holes. He had three more on the back nine, including one on the last.In the north, Daughtrey (Rotherham) came in late in the day with a very tidy card of three birdies and a bogey. “I’ve had a tough couple of years swing-wise, but I’ve worked really hard over the winter and it all seems to be coming together,” said the 18-year-old.“I played really solid today round a tough course. It was stress free, which is nice, fairways and greens.”Daughtrey, who has twice helped Yorkshire win the English Boys’ County Finals, will be playing in the Brabazon for the first time.So, too, will Blair Morton, from Royal Troon. He reaped the benefit today of great preparation, having arrived on Friday, in time to play the Lindrick Open over the weekend. His scores then included a 67 and he came second. “Today is probably the fifth or sixth time I have played the course and it definitely helped,” said the 22-year-old.Behind them were three players on 69: Ben Goodison (Coventry), James Cass (Fulford) and Sam Turner (Royal Lytham & St Annes).Click here for the northern scores from LindrickClick here for the southern scores from HindheadImage copyright Leaderboard Photography 14 May 2019 Qualifiers claim their Brabazon places last_img read more

Fireworks on Tap Tonight, Other Plans Changed for Celebration in Sea…

first_imgSEA BRIGHT – Today’s inclement weather has meant the Driftwood beach and cabana club is modifying its plans for what had been scheduled to be a daylong celebration, culminating with fireworks.The club, 1485 Ocean Ave., is still planning its Monday night fireworks display – billed as the largest in the Garden State for the days surrounding the July 4th holiday.The club has rescheduled today’s daytime events, including a clambake and concert featuring Brian Kirk and the Jirks, for tomorrow, and will honor tickets already purchased for the event, Irvine said.Driftwood and its owners, the Stavola family, are spearheading the benefit to raise money for two local rebuilding funds, Sea Bright Rising and the Permit Relief Fund, created specifically to assist residents who are rebuilding their homes and businesses after the destruction caused by Super Storm Sandy.The event is called Rebuild Sea Bright.The Stavola family, which has operated Driftwood Cabana Club since 1956, is donating the cost of the fireworks. In addition, the Stavolas are hosting a one-night-only special menu dinner at Ama on the night of the fireworks.The daytime events at Driftwood, which will be held tomorrow, will include a Beach Bash Clambake with live music starting at noon.Ticket holders will be provided full use of the club, pool and beach with lifeguards on duty, a clambake, children’s menu and two complimentary beverages from the Tiki Bar. The live music headliner will be local favorites Brian Kirk and The Jirks, who will play from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.The purchase of tickets and additional information are available by visiting www.sea, calling 908-400-3617 or emailing to read more

Classy Kane Williamson stands out amid IPL binge-hitting

first_imgKane Williamson more than compensated for his lack of raw power with characteristic finesse to score 89 and set up Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 15-run victory against Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday.WATCH: How WAGS inspired their cricket star husbands in IPL 2017The champions kept him out of their first five matches of the ongoing tournament but the New Zealand captain provided a timely reminder of his worth in his first outing.He started off slowly but went on to hit six boundaries and five sixes in his 51-ball knock to prove that he may not rival the power-hitting prowess of someone like West Indian Chris Gayle but is technically adequately equipped for the short format.”I wish I could smack a few like Chris Gayle, but unfortunately not to be,” he told the tournament website (”I think it is about adapting to the best of your abilities and playing around with your strong points.”There are some incredible players that can whack it 120 meters. I do practise hard in the nets to hit the ball long, but probably it is not in my genetic make-up to do that.”So, I try and find a different way, something similar to the knock I played tonight.”With skipper David Warner, fellow Australian Moises Henriques and the Indian duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh preferred in the top half of Hyderabad’s batting line-up, Williamson replaced Afghan off-spinner Mohammad Nabi for the home game against Delhi.”Sitting on the bench for the first few games is part and parcel, and the guys were doing a fantastic job,” the 26-year-old said.advertisement”Being on the sidelines you are always practising to be as ready as you can for your first game.”It has to do a lot with the mental shift from the other formats that we have been playing. That is the challenge, you have to be in tune with everything and be ready whenever need be.”last_img read more

Manchester City would not sell Jadon Sancho to us, claims Jürgen Klopp

first_imgnews Share via Email Share on Messenger Manchester City Topics Reuse this content Liverpool cannot afford to consider Bayern a fading force, says Klopp Share on WhatsApp Jürgen Klopp Liverpool, the manager admitted, wanted to sign Sancho but their rivalry with City rendered the deal a non-starter. Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United were also keen on the England forward before, having declined a professional contract at the Etihad Stadium, he joined Dortmund for an initial fee of £8m in August 2017.Asked about the recent trend of German clubs signing young English players, the former Dortmund manager replied: “Buying English players is a smart idea because we would never have a chance to get Sancho. We are not blind – we saw him, we liked him and then we think: ‘Can we get him?’ No. Because English clubs don’t sell to other English clubs. I don’t know exactly what the reason is for that but they don’t do it. Now they can go to Germany, which is a wonderful league.”Michael Zorc, Dortmund’s technical director, said recently that the quality of young players was higher in England than Germany at present. Klopp concurs, although he does not believe the Bundesliga has a lasting problem. “There is no dip,” he added. “Six or seven years ago you had all these boys coming up – Marco Reus, André Schürrle, Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels – and it was clear when they became Under‑21 European champions it would be a generation of proper quality. It is clear that England now has that situation. It is like a wave with one country a little bit up and another country down.”center_img Share on Pinterest Jürgen Klopp has claimed Liverpool were beaten to the signing of Jadon Sancho by Borussia Dortmund because Manchester City refused to sell to a Premier League rival.The Liverpool manager confirmed his club’s interest in the teenage forward before Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Bayern Munich, who attempted to add Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi to their squad last month. While greater first-team opportunity is viewed as the principal reason for leaving the Premier League for the Bundesliga, with Sancho, Keanan Bennetts and Reiss Nelson among those to depart in recent seasons, Klopp believes the transfer policies of English clubs is another factor. Borussia Dortmund Liverpool Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Read more Share on Twitterlast_img read more