Fast reaction: 3 quick takeaways from Syracuse’s 90-61 victory over Georgia Tech

first_img Published on March 4, 2017 at 6:09 pm Contact Connor: | @connorgrossman Facebook Twitter Google+ In a season full of buzzer-beaters, court-stormings and harrowing wins in the Carrier Dome, Saturday’s game was none of the above. Syracuse (18-13, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) demolished Georgia Tech (17-14, 8-10), 90-61, in the Orange’s largest margin of victory in conference play. Andrew White led all scorers with 40 points, capping off a dominant offensive game from the hosts.Here are three reactions to the game.A much-needed winSyracuse and Georgia Tech both entered the regular-season finale with teetering NCAA Tournament chances. Both teams have struggled on the road and both have pulled off surprising upsets at home. With such similar resumes, Saturday’s win was important for the Orange’s resume.Now SU can look toward next week’s ACC tournament with a bit more comfort, facing far less pressure to win a game outside of the Carrier Dome. It remains to be seen who Syracuse’s opponent will be, but Saturday’s win ensured SU earns a first-round bye and will begin the conference tournament on Wednesday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhite outIn what could be his final game in the Carrier Dome, White strung together a career-best day against the Yellow Jackets. The fifth-year senior poured in a career-high 40 points, putting an exclamation point on what’s been a dominant offensive season for the sharpshooter. He made 8-of-9 3-point attempts and contributed mightily to a game where SU shot 62.5 percent behind the arc.As Georgia Tech started to chip in to SU’s lead, White was instrumental in a 21-2 second-half run that put the game away. The 6-foot-7 guard buried four 3-pointers en route to scoring 17 of the Orange’s 21 points during that stretch.Georgia Tech’s best chance to stop White was to stop him from shooting. In the midst of his second-half rampage, the Yellow Jackets blatantly fouled White behind the arc, drawing a couple of claps and a wry smile from head coach Jim Boeheim. White made all three of his free throws.It should be no surprise that White keyed a Syracuse win. He’s done it all year, but never as much as he did on Saturday.Jump startAfter taking more than five minutes to make a field goal in its game last weekend against Louisville, Syracuse wasted no time against Georgia Tech. Freshman forward Taurean Thompson buried a long jumper on SU’s first possession, and the Orange proceeded to open an early nine-point lead by making its first five baskets. Freshman guard Tyus Battle poured in three 3-pointers, laying the foundation of his 22-point game.The hot start fueled Syracuse to a 16-point first-half lead, spearheaded by Battle’s 13 points in the opening 20 minutes. The early cushion was vital as SU’s defense started to wear down. The Yellow Jackets scored the last four points of the half before going on a 9-0 run out of halftime to close the Orange’s lead to three. Commentslast_img read more

Gallery: No. 1 Syracuse edges Binghamton, 9-8, for ninth straight victory

first_imgThe nation’s top-ranked team, Syracuse, won another one-goal game, 9-8, over Binghamton on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. It’s Syracuse’s (11-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast) ninth straight win and the Bearcats’ (9-4, 3-2 America East) third consecutive loss. SU senior attack Jordan Evans had a team-high three goals and the Orange defense buckled down late to preserve the win. Syracuse plays next in Durham, North Carolina, in an attempt to win its third straight ACC tournament. Comments Published on April 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Former Orange star Jamie Archer leads Jamesville-DeWitt boy’s lacrosse program that feeds SU

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 17, 2017 at 11:48 pm Contact Charlie: | @charliedisturco UPDATED: April 18, 2017 at 2:17 a.m.Editor’s Note: SU’s men’s lacrosse team has consistently been a national powerhouse. The Daily Orange took a look at the local high schools that feed players to the program. You can view the series here.Scott Firman started putting on his pads. The soon-to-be Jamesville-DeWitt (New York) High School sophomore was playing pickup lacrosse with his teammates. Usually his head coach, Jamie Archer, stood off on the side and watched. But one day, Archer came out with pads himself and suited up. Firman had to guard his coach, a former Syracuse All-American.“I tried to play defense on him,” said Firman, now one of the best defenders in the country. “… He had old man strength. I never believed it until I guarded him.”“I’ve retired my stuff,” Archer quipped.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe former Syracuse All-American has been the head coach of Jamesville-Dewitt’s varsity team since 2006, producing some of lacrosse’s top talent. Three current players — Firman, Jordan Evans and Connor Flanagan — on the top-ranked Orange (10-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast) went through Archer’s program at J-D. Griffin Cook, a junior at J-D, recently committed to Syracuse. The high school is just six miles away from SU’s campus.J-D alumni at Syracuse include the Orange’s best defensive player, Firman, and offensive weapon that dons the legendary No. 22 jersey, Evans. Since graduating SU in 1993, Archer stays close to the lacrosse program as an assistant in the summer and an attendee as often as he can in the spring.“If I can help it, I don’t miss a game,” Archer said. “I go to every Syracuse game I can go to. I haven’t missed a game unless I’m out of town.”On April 8, Archer stood with his arms crossed on the sideline, analyzing his team before J-D’s game against West Genesee (New York) High School, another local feeder program for Syracuse. In the two-hour contest, Archer was relaxed throughout. He rarely spoke to the referee, and his team never trailed in an eventual 13-7 win.Evans knows that quiet confidence. “He doesn’t get out of whack,” the Syracuse senior attack said.When Evans and Firman played at J-D, they said Archer and assistant coach Bob Elmer had contrasting coaching personalities. Archer was the “good cop” and Elmer the “bad cop.”Elmer focused on the defensive side of the field and called out players, loudly, for mistakes. Archer was level-headed, critiquing players one-on-one rather than in front of the team, Evans said. But if needed, Archer stopped practice to point out errors.“(Archer’s) pretty low key and analytical in his coaching style,” Firman, a senior at Syracuse, said. “But he wasn’t afraid to be upfront and tell you that you were doing a bad job.”His analytical coaching style developed into a run-and-gun offense, a trait commonly associated with Syracuse. Archer had taken what he learned at SU and put his own spin on it: he wanted to push harder in transition and play even faster.“It’s always a transition game for us,” Archer said. “We don’t like to slow things down.”His strategy played out perfectly in the 2011 state championship game.Tied 7-7 in overtime, Garden City (New York) High School held the ball on J-D for about a minute and 20 seconds. Garden City wanted to tire out J-D and take its time finding a defensive weak point. Then, GCHS passed it to the middle for Brian Coleman and J-D sprung its double-team. Firman approached from the backside and tomahawked his stick toward the head of Coleman’s. Suddenly, the ball was on the ground.Firman scooped it up and flung to his cutting teammate, long-stick midfielder Matt Kopp. The high pass forced Kopp to extend his pole over his head on the run. And he caught it in one of the best high school plays Archer has ever seen. But J-D had only crossed the ball over midfield. Now, they needed to score.“Most coaches when you get the ball back with little time,” Evans said, “they’re going to call that timeout and try to set up some random play, but just like I said, he let us play and he let us make the plays.”Earlier in the game, Evans had slipped and fallen in a similar situation and given the ball away behind the goal. After the play, Archer pulled Evans aside on the sideline. He told his star player, who would eventually be ranked the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the nation, to forget about the turnover. He’d get another chance.Seeing Kopp on the run, Evans broke backdoor on his defender toward the goal. With three seconds left, Evans capped J-D’s perfect season with a state title. Archer received a familiar Gatorade shower.“I’ve had a couple of those,” Archer said. “(The players) win a championship with the guys you grow up with, there’s nothing better.”He’d experienced similar success as a feeding attack for SU in the early 1990s. He won the 1990 and 1993 NCAA titles after then-Syracuse assistant coach John Desko recruited him almost 30 years ago. In four seasons, Archer finished top 10 in career assists and became an All-American, like his father before him.“Lot of Orange blood runs through that family’s veins,” Desko said.Ally Moreo | Photo EditorAfter graduating from Syracuse in 1993, Archer wanted to become a gym teacher while also coaching lacrosse. He returned to his alma mater, Nottingham (New York) High School, and spent six years there before joining J-D in 2000.Archer didn’t coach at J-D right away, though, spending one last spring with his final senior class. Then, he became the junior varsity head coach for a season before becoming an assistant to long-time head coach Jim Pistello.Since 2006, when Archer took over, the Red Rams have been to six state championships, and Archer owns a career record of 218-27. In the past five years, J-D has never lost more than three times in a single season.Over the past few years, five players from Jamesville-DeWitt have ended up at Syracuse. Others have gone on to Virginia, Villanova and other schools. But none have found more success than Firman and Evans.Firman wears Syracuse’s No. 11 jersey, given to the best defender on the team. The senior transitioned from long-stick midfield to close defense this season and has limited nearly every matchup he’s faced, often the opponent’s best player, to under his season average. Six years ago, Archer had Firman, the No. 17 recruit in his class, make the same position switch in high school. That led to a seamless transition in college.“Look what Scott’s doing for us now,” Desko said. “His high school experience has helped him because he played some long stick for J-D and close defense … He’s done an unbelievable job.”Then there’s Evans. The attack wears the same No. 22 as SU legends Gary Gait and the Powell brothers. He was the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 recruiting class and led J-D to undefeated seasons in 2010 and 2011. He lost six times in four years.The IQ that analysts praise Evans for now originated from J-D and Archer. A lot of that knowledge came from study sessions, practice and one-on-ones with Archer.“I was really close with him,” Evans said. “He wasn’t afraid to go hard on me. With him allowing me to try to make plays, it also came with ‘You shouldn’t be trying to do that’ … There’s a time and place for everything and sometimes you’re going to try to overdo it.”Archer still texts Firman and Evans before games because he wants to keep close with his former players. But that’s as far as he usually goes. He lets Desko and the SU coaching staff handle the coaching, unless he thinks he can help.But he likes just offering pointers. Archer said he wants to stay put at Jamesville-DeWitt for the foreseeable future, because while jumping to the collegiate level of coaching comes with a bigger paycheck, there’s less job security and higher stakes.“I’m pretty convinced he can be a very effective college coach,” Firman said. “He prepared us like we were a college team in terms of scouting, giving us a look at their offense and knowing their players.”But Archer, for now, remains interested in dominating New York high school lacrosse. Just like he has the past 11 years. And maybe a few more of his players will end up playing in college just down the road.View part one of the series hereCORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Jamie Archer was misidentified in the dominant photo. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Commentslast_img read more

After giving up early lead, Brewers bested by Braves

first_imgYovani Gallardo (2-2) left the game Monday in the 6th inning after giving up a home run to David Ross.[/media-credit]ATLANTA (AP) – Chipper Jones said it might have taken a little more than a big hit from Alex Gonzalez, a strong start from Jair Jurrjens and a homer from backup catcher David Ross for the Braves to finally beat Yovani Gallardo.Jones kidded a little witchcraft might have been involved.Gonzalez hit a three-run double to give Atlanta the lead and the Braves finally solved Gallardo, beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 on Monday night.Gallardo began the day 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in five career starts against Atlanta, including a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win on April 5 in Milwaukee.“We snapped the head off a chicken and, I don’t know, exorcised a demon,” said Jones joking around.Ross hit a homer in the third inning before the Braves knocked Gallardo (2-2) out of the game in the sixth. Gonzalez cleared the bases with his double before scoring on a single by Nate McLouth.The four runs Gallardo allowed in the sixth matched his total allowed over 37 1/3 innings in his first five starts against the Braves.“He’s been scuffling a little as of late,” said Jones, who had two hits.Jurrjens appears to be gaining momentum.Jurrjens (3-0) gave up two runs on seven hits and no walks in 7 2/3 innings. He had four strikeouts as he continues his comeback from a frustrating 2010 season shortened by injuries.“It’s not so much what I’m doing, I’m just pain-free,” Jurrjens said.Gallardo allowed nine hits and five runs in five-plus innings. He matched his season high with four walks while striking out seven.The right-hander has allowed four or more earned runs in five straight starts, leaving his ERA at 6.10.“I thought he looked better this time than he did his last outing,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke of Gallardo. “Still isn’t like we saw in the first couple games, but we thought it was better. Rhythm was better.“The walks hurt him but I didn’t think they hit the ball that hard. This guy is used to being in every ball game that he pitches. He’s used to keeping that run total down. I’m sure he’s getting a little frustrated with it but I think there is improvement there.”The Brewers took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Yuniesky Betancourt’s two-run triple. Jurrjens retired the next 11 batters before giving up infield singles to Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez in the eighth.The double by Gonzalez in the sixth drove in Jones, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman. Jones and Freeman reached on walks from Gallardo.Jason Heyward walked off Zach Braddock in the seventh, moved to third on Jones’ double and scored on a head-first slide on Freeman’s broken-bat fly ball to center field.Ross hit his third homer in his 19th at-bat. Ross plays behind All-Star Brian McCann, who has two homers in 97 at-bats.“It’s nice to give Mac a night off and perform well,” said Ross, who added that his work behind the plate wasn’t difficult.“Jair Jurrjens, when he’s pitching like that, it makes my job easy,” Ross said.Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he may continue to pair Ross with Jurrjens as a way of giving McCann a rest every five games.Closer Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for Atlanta.last_img read more

Wisconsin stuns powerhouse Penn State

first_imgSunday’s win over Penn State is the first 5-set victory Wisconsin experienced all season. It was also the Badgers’ first win over the Nittany Lions since 2006.[/media-credit]To be the best, you have to beat the best – and the Wisconsin women’s volleyball team did just that Sunday.The Badgers (14-12, 6-8) knocked off defending four-time national champion No. 6 Penn State (17-6, 11-3) at the Field House in five sets, 26-24, 25-19, 32-34, 14-25, 15-12.Sunday afternoon’s match resembled more of a boxing match than a volleyball contest, as Wisconsin and Penn State exchanged blow after blow on the court in one of the hardest fought and most exciting matches of the season, featuring 32 tied scores and 12 lead changes. Wisconsin beat Penn State for the first time since 2006 and won for the first time in five sets all season.“That was a great win for our program in a lot of ways,” head coach Pete Waite said. “We saw some very good ball on our side of the net Friday against Ohio State in the first set, but we didn’t sustain that. This time we sustained it.”Helping in large part to sustain that performance was junior Alexis Mitchell, who fought admirably against Penn State’s gigantic front line, as the middle blocker totaled 10 kills and seven blocks against one of the nation’s best squads.“I’m still in shock,” junior Alexis Mitchell said. “It’s just great to win like that, especially after letting them come back. We felt a little bit down, but we dug deep and pulled it out in the fifth set. It was a great game to play and be a part of.”Right off the bat, it was a tight one. In an opening set that had seven tied scores and two lead changes, the Badgers came back after trailing for a majority of the set. Down 17-14, Wisconsin used a combination of Penn State attack errors, blocks and several strong kills from the front line to down Penn State.In the opening set, the Badgers hit a lower percentage than the Nittany Lions, as Penn State outhit Wisconsin .250 to .182. However, the Badgers benefited nicely from five Nittany Lion service errors, as Penn State ultimately committed 13 on the day compared to Wisconsin’s three.“A big stat for me in the match was the service errors,” Waite said. “It should make the players feel good that [serve-receive] came together when it needed to.”However, after a Badger win in the second set it looked like the wheels might fall off, as the Nittany Lions took the third and fourth sets. The Badgers had numerous opportunities to complete the sweep in the third set, since the team had the Nittany Lions at match point five separate times in extra points. But momentum looked to be shifting to Penn State, especially after Wisconsin dropped the fourth set 14-25.But the Badgers finished what they started in the fifth and final set – thanks in large part to a key 7-2 run that helped break a 2-2 tie. The final point of the set and the match came on a kill by junior Bailey Reshel, bringing a thunderous roar from the home crowd and a jubilant team celebration onto the floor.“I think we knew after the fourth set we needed to make a change,” sophomore Annemarie Hickey said. “All of us wanted to win really bad; we’ve just been really sick of losing. We talked all week about playing for our team, and I think we really came together as a team that game.”It was an impressive victory for Wisconsin, considering the team was coming off arguably its most disappointing loss of the season. Friday night at home against No. 22 Ohio State was a completely different affair, as Wisconsin looked terrific in the first set but faded fast, falling in four sets, 20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-21.Wisconsin hit its second-lowest hitting percentage of the season, as the Badgers posted a measly .098 ratio (44 kills, 30 errors, 143 attempts). After Friday, it looked like the Badgers might be losing grips on their NCAA tournament hopes, but the Badgers showed a giant burst of life by responding from a disappointing loss in the biggest way possible.“We really found a way as a team – everyone on the bench and the court – to pull through and get this game,” Mitchell said. “Five set games so far this season haven’t gone our way, so we really wanted to get back on track. This was a great win for us and a great confidence builder going into facing Michigan and Michigan State next weekend because we know what they’re capable of, but now we know what we’re capable of.”last_img read more

Korger: A holiday wish list for Bucky

first_imgHe’s making a list and he’s checking it twice, and he will find out if you have been naughty or nice.Well, readers, I hope most of you have been well behaved – as much as college students can possibly be – as the holidays quickly approach us. For myself, I have found that the older I get, the lamer my Christmas list becomes. In fact, if Santa read my list this year he’d probably break down and openly weep.A suit? Socks? Money for rent? What kind of kid wants that?Well there are some other things, but I’m not sure that Santa can deliver them to me. So here it is, my holiday wish list to Bucky for the holidays and break.Give me a win in the Rose BowlThat one is pretty obvious. Last year, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel to Pasadena and experience one of the greatest sporting events that football has to offer. Since I’ll be with the team in spirit watching a television from a Madison bar stool, I’m praying on bended knee that Wisconsin can win The Granddaddy of Them All.Last year, the Badgers were a batted two-point conversion away from sending the game to overtime against a veteran TCU team with arguably the best defense in the country. This time around, Wisconsin’s defense will be tested by the high-flying Oregon offense. Wisconsin has struggled the few times it has faced a great offensive team (Michigan State), and against the Ducks’ spread attack, the Badgers will have their hands full. However, Wisconsin also has one of the nation’s best offenses, both balanced and explosive.This game will also effectively serve to measure the Big Ten against the Pac 12. If Wisconsin hopes to continue its emergence back into the national spotlight, the Badgers must put forth their finest team performance to date. This game is sure to be a great one, but I’m asking Bucky and Santa to deliver the Badger faithful a win this time.I’m also recommending that no one make a drinking game out of the Rose Bowl. One of my friends had the idea to take a shot every time an offense scores. Both teams average over 40 points a game. Count me out.Help Wisconsin basketball find its gameLately, watching the Badgers has given me more gut-wrenching moments than coaching my team of 8th graders back home. The Badgers relied on a 3-point shooting spree by Ben Brust to finish off a pesky UNLV team last weekend while leaning on Milwaukee’s awful free throw shooting to escape with a win Tuesday night.Besides his perfect 7-for-7 effort in the UNLV game, Brust has struggled from beyond the arc in December, as have the majority of the Badgers. Jordan Taylor hasn’t yet reached the scoring frenzy we are all so accustomed to.Basketball is a game that’s all about getting hot at the right time, but lately, the Badgers have cooled off. With the Big Ten season fast approaching and the league stacked top to bottom this year, the Badgers will need to be playing their best basketball night in and night out against the conference. Many analysts are calling the Big Ten the best conference in the nation, so Wisconsin will need to develop a rhythm to continue its dominance in conference play. There is definitely talent on this team and the potential to be a Big Ten title contender, but the offense needs to get in a groove as the team eases into conference play after a weak non-conference schedule.Let Montee Ball break the touchdown recordAt the Heisman ceremony this past Saturday, Ball was in truly elite company with the likes of Andrew Luck, Tyrann Mathieu’s suit, RGIII and Trent Richardson. It sure looked like the running back belonged – Ball handled himself and represented Wisconsin perfectly.Just knowing Ball’s story and perseverance throughout his career here at Wisconsin, I’m not sure there is a more deserving player to break Barry Sanders’ illustrious NCAA record for touchdowns in a single season. The determination and readiness Ball displayed while waiting for his chance last year at Iowa, his extreme dedication in the offseason to cut weight and his unbelievable success on the gridiron makes me proud to wear the No. 28 jersey I have from when Anthony Davis was the running back at Wisconsin. Facing LaMichael James and Oregon in the Rose Bowl is a perfect way for Ball to break the record. I asked for Ball to win the Heisman, but I suppose I can settle with him taking his place in the history books.To all my Badgers and readers, happy holidays and thanks for reading this semester. On Wisconsin.Nick will be back again to write more boring columns next semester. Have a column topic for next semester? Email Nick at Happy festivus!last_img read more

Men’s hockey gets glimpse of future against PSU

first_imgKelsey Fenton / The Badger HeraldThings are about to change for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team in a B1G way.After almost 43 years in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the Badgers will leave the conference next fall to join the new Big Ten conference in its inaugural season.When the Badgers host the Penn State Nittany Lions this upcoming Sunday and Monday in their first meeting since PSU created a Division 1 program this fall, fans will get a glimpse of one of the Big Ten hockey conference’s new annual matchups.Over the years, the WCHA has proven itself to be one of the toughest conferences in the country. Since 1951, the conference has produced 37 national champions and at lease one team in the National Championship round of the NCAA playoffs in 56 of the last 60 seasons.For freshman forward Nic Kerdiles, the chance to play in the storied WCHA conference was a major factor in his decision to play hockey for Wisconsin.“I’m really impressed by [this conference] and it is one the reasons I decided to come here,” Kerdiles said. “It’s got a lot of history, and it is unfortunate it is going away, but this year it has been a lot of fun. If you look through the standings, there are a lot of teams with only one point, two points difference.”But beyond the current crop of players, the WCHA holds an important place in the history of hockey at UW.UW interim assistant coach Matt Walsh played in the WCHA for the Badgers from 1982 to 1986 – earning a National Championship with the team as a freshman in 1983. While teams have joined the conference since he graduated, he believes the level of talent and competition in the WCHA over the years is unrivaled.“You can’t take a night off,” Walsh said. “Maybe before some nights you could depending on who you played, but now … you can’t afford to take a night off.”Joining Wisconsin in the inaugural season of the Big Ten conference next year are five other teams – Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota.After years of consideration, the formation of the new conference was spurred on by the announcement this past offseason that Penn State would upgrade its club hockey team, the Penn State Icers, to a Division 1 program with a new name – the Nittany Lions.According to Big Ten rules, six teams are required to have a conference championship, and before PSU’s announcement, only five traditional Big ten teams existed.Now with six schools hosting Division 1 hockey programs, the Big Ten finally has the green light to start a hockey conference.The move to a new Big Ten conference – while exciting for fans and players – means some of the Badgers’ traditional rivalry games will no longer be conference games with WCHA points on the line.“It’s going to be different for sure,” Kerdiles said. “We are going to try to keep some of those rivalries. I talked to coach and I think they are already working on making sure we play North Dakota next year and keeping at least one rivalry going.”Still, with only 20 conferences games slated for each of the inaugural members, this leaves 14 games for each team to schedule games with other nonconference opponents, such as North Dakota.In addition to maintaining old rivals, Wisconsin will have its fair share of new rivalries to develop.While Penn State’s history in college hockey may still be in its infancy, both Michigan and Michigan State already have successful hockey programs established.In 2011, Michigan was the runner up to Minnesota-Duluth in the National Championship game while, just a few years earlier in 2007, Michigan State won it all.Add those finishes to two National Championships in back-to-back years for Minnesota in 2002 and 2003 with a National Championship for Wisconsin in 2006, it becomes clear the Big Ten conference has all the makings of a potential powerhouse conference in the years to come.Combine stronger nonconference matchups with a difficult conference slate and Walsh believes future schedules could have much more quality competition than in years past.But, potentially more important for each of the teams entering the Big Ten, regularly scheduled matchups against familiar opponents could help strengthen ties to the sport for Wisconsin fans who are used to the Badgers playing teams like Ohio State and Michigan in football and basketball.“Having Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State – all of those teams come in – to the average fan, they will recognize those teams,” junior defenseman Frankie Simonelli said. “When they hear Colorado College is coming to town or Denver, they might not be as familiar with it.”“I think it will bring a bigger variety of fan base to our team and could help make the sport more popular [here].”last_img read more

Despite setbacks, senior player reflects on success

first_imgNick Entin | Daily TrojanDifficult choices · Michael Hutchings considered quitting football after his father’s death during his freshman year, but decided against it.Senior Michael Hutchings has two favorite memories from four years as a Trojan. One at the beginning, one at the end.His first came in November of his freshman year, when a team in transition with a new head coach and something to prove knocked off No. 5 Stanford in front of a sold-out home crowd. The team rallied, former quarterback Cody Kessler threw a key touchdown and a defense-heavy game ended in a 20-17 victory. The stadium shook with cheers as the final whistle blew. Fans streamed over the barricades and onto the field, with cell phones held high to record the madness. Hutchings didn’t start, didn’t record a single tackle all game. But standing on the grass of the Coliseum in the middle of the crowd, he felt like he’d finally made it.A month and 29 days later, he felt as if his world was flipping on its head. He’d lost his father, his idol, the man he was named for, to a battle with pancreatic cancer that didn’t last half of a year. His father, who watched film and scouted opponents, who called him before each game to give him a rundown of suggestions and who taught him to love football.His dad only saw him play a handful of USC games. He was hospitalized soon after moving Hutchings into his dorm. By New Year’s, he was too weak to open presents for his birthday. He died on a January afternoon, two weeks after turning 49.It was a loss that Hutchings couldn’t shake. For him, football and family were intertwined, inseparable. Without his dad, Hutchings wasn’t sure what was left to love about the sport.“It was hard,” Hutchings said. “It was easy to feel like there wasn’t much to keep playing for.”He started skipping team meetings and coming to practices late. Clay Helton, an interim coach at the time, was told to keep an eye on him. For awhile, Hutchings considered just quitting football entirely.Hutchings isn’t sure why he stayed. But he did, grinding through practices, staying steady through every head coach replacement and front page scandal. It wasn’t easy, he said, but it was worth it. The whole team took each season one practice at a time. They trusted in the future, that a season would come when it all would fall into place.In 2016, Hutchings decided that this season, his last season, was the year. As a sophomore, he fell to second string and spent two years clawing his way back into the team’s rotation. But as a senior, he felt ready to leave an impression that wouldn’t fade easily.“I had one year left and I didn’t have anything to lose,” Hutchings said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get any days back. There was no next year. I gave everything I had each day.”The difference was noticeable to Hutchings almost immediately. He attacked every practice at spring camp and approached the locker room just as fervently, making sure to connect with each of his teammates.In August, Hutchings was named a captain alongside Max Browne, Zach Banner and Adoree’ Jackson. A bright red “C” emblazoned his jersey as he started every single game, tying for the second most total tackles for the team. And through a shaky start and a roller coaster finish to his final season, Hutchings focused on being there for his teammates every game, every practice and every day.It was a year to be proud of, a year with nothing to lose and everything to gain. And Hutchings made the most of it. Until this year, his father’s death was a weight, hanging heavily. But now, it’s a constant motivation.“It made me grow off the field a tremendous amount,” Hutchings said. “It made me look at sports, look at football in a different way. I look at it as more of a privilege. It helped me grow to take a step back and appreciate everything that was in front of me.”This year was a turning point for Hutchings. It brought him to his second greatest memory — Saturday’s game against Notre Dame — and the most recent, its vibrance still fading after a few days. He’s not sure what it was about the game, whether it was the pelting rain or the roaring student section or Jackson’s leap over a defender to sprint into the end zone. He recorded five total tackles, but Hutchings’ stats weren’t his focus at the end of the day.It was something about the energy, the way his teammates grinned and laughed and hugged each other after every play. The sideline brimmed with excitement, and Hutchings fed off of it. It took until later, after the game ended and the locker room cleared out, that the weight of his final game in his home field sunk in.“After, when everything was all done, it settled in that it was my last game,” Hutchings said. “Afterwards it hit me hard. This team, it means a lot to all of us. I’ve grown so much as a part of it and when you look back, it just means a lot more than you can say.”Part of that has to do with Helton, a man Hutchings has known since he was 14, since he first considered putting on a USC jersey. He praises the head coach for his fierce loyalty and his determination to support and connect with each of his players.But most of what Hutchings will take away from USC has nothing to do with post-game statistics or highlight reels. It’s the teammates, he says, the friends who have become close to brothers. He respects his teammates, looks up to them and learns from them.“You’re just around all these guys who set great work ethics and great examples,” Hutchings said. “The game provides so much more than just playing. You learn to appreciate people a lot more and know that your problems aren’t the biggest. The fun, the team that I had during this time — that’s what I’ll take away.”Hutchings likes to think that his greatest memory at USC isn’t made just yet. There’s one game left — the unannounced bowl game, a final chance for every senior to make their mark on the team.After that, he’ll graduate in the spring, along with 13 other seniors on the team. He’s not sure what will happen then, what will come next.But Hutchings know one thing for sure. In a few weeks, he’ll put on a jersey labeled “19” on the back and “C” on the chest. He’ll think about his dad, about the advice he would give if he could, and he’ll look for his mom in the stands. He’ll dance with his teammates on the field, cheer from the sidelines and throw hard hits when he can.He’ll play as a Trojan, one last time. And for now, that’s the only thing Hutchings wants to worry about.last_img read more

Former cornerback Jack Jones arrested on two felony charges

first_imgFormer USC cornerback Jack Jones was arrested by Ventura County Police Friday on two felony charges — commercial burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime — after police say he attempted to break into a Santa Paulo Panda Express at 3 a.m. He was booked in the Ventura County Jail with a bail of $20,000. Jones is scheduled to appear in Ventura County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.The arrest comes after Jones was declared academically ineligible for the 2018 season following spring camp. Jones sat out of camp to focus on his studies but failed to meet the mark. Last Tuesday, he confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that he would leave USC to take courses at a junior college in attempt to regain his eligibility for 2019. Jones was considered a defensive asset for the Trojans in the 2017 season. He touted 40 tackles and a team-best four interceptions in the 14 games he played. Jones was expected to remain the starting cornerback for the upcoming 2018 season prior to his dismissal.Jones was rated the No. 10 cornerback in the 2016 recruiting class by ESPN. Jones’ dismissal was a significant loss to the USC defense, which retained a solid group of starters from the 2017 season.last_img read more