Freshman pair steals spotlight from Nixon on Senior Day

first_imgMEGHAN CONLIN/Herald photoThe UW men’s basketball team’s 80-74 victory over Minnesota Sunday marked the final home game for the team’s lone senior, forward Ray Nixon.And while his seven-point performance didn’t turn any heads in the Kohl Center, it’s been the way he has handled himself over his career that has made a lasting impression.”He’s a college athlete that took advantage of an opportunity,” head coach Bo Ryan said. “That doesn’t make great drama, I’m sure, for some people.”Although Nixon’s story may not be dramatic, it is rather admirable.Nixon could’ve gone to several other universities and possibly played more minutes than he has in his time here, but he had a goal in mind when coming to Wisconsin.Even when he didn’t play much as a freshman, he stayed true to his plan.”Ray just wanted to be at Wisconsin and play and get his degree here,” Ryan said. “I’ll coach those guys forever. Those are the kind of guys I want playing for me.”Ray’s a class act, always has been,” he added. “He promised his parents and family what he was going to do, and some people just don’t make a big deal out of it. They just do it.”For Alando Tucker, Sunday’s game was just the way he wanted to send Nixon out and honor his teammate and close friend of the last four years.”It was his day,” Tucker said. “It was great. To see the things that he’s accomplished over the four years from not playing very much [in] the first two years and sticking with it.”Bench contributions: Certainly none of the Badgers were trying to overshadow Nixon on Senior Day, but Ryan’s bench may have done just that.Forward Kevin Gullikson continues to make great strides in just his freshman season and arguably had his best game of the year Sunday with a career-high 12 points.”He was opportunistic and he worked for rebounding position that he was able to get,” Ryan said. “He got on a little run there and had some good energy.”Another freshman, forward Joe Krabbenhoft, also had a solid game coming off the bench Sunday.Krabbenhoft posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds — just another sign of how well he has adjusted to the collegiate game since first stepping on campus.”He did a great job of keeping everything out in front of him and banging hard and playing hard,” Ryan said. “His results were better tonight than the other game (against Minnesota).”Krabbenhoft’s play has reassured himself of his abilities, and, as a result, he feels he has settled into his role on the team.”I try not to view myself as a freshman anymore,” Krabbenhoft said. “I’ve got to put that freshman business behind and just play. It doesn’t matter what age you are. Ray’s a senior doing his thing and (Gullikson and I) are a couple of young guys helping in, chipping in to keep getting those wins.”Free throws made the difference: The Badgers bounced back against Minnesota following their 62-51 loss to Northwestern last Thursday, and the difference was getting to the free throw line.In the game against the Wildcats, Wisconsin was rather passive with its offensive penetration and only got to the free-throw line 18 times.Come Sunday, the Badgers made a conscious effort to get to the rim and, thus, shoot more free throws.And they did so with a staggering 36 attempts from the charity stripe.With the Gophers hitting six more field goals than Wisconsin, there was no doubt the Badgers’ ability to get to the free throw line was the key to victory.”We did a much better job today than some other games of getting in position and getting post feeds or getting people off their feet — that’s how you get to the line and then play with the lead,” Ryan said. “We have lost a couple of games because Michigan and Northwestern, they don’t miss a free throw down the stretch, and we just closed out on one the same way.”last_img read more

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What to know about Alan Griffin, Syracuse’s newest addition

first_img Published on April 6, 2020 at 2:51 pm Contact Danny: dremerma@syr.edu | @DannyEmerman UPDATED: April 6, 2020 at 4:05 p.m.With two seasons at Illinois in the past, sophomore Alan Griffin is transferring to Syracuse in search of a larger role.The 6-foot-5 sharpshooting guard was one of the top transfers on the market and chose SU over Dayton, Arizona, Iowa State and Texas. As a sophomore at Illinois, Griffin averaged 8.9 points on 41.6% shooting from behind the arc and 86.1% at the foul line.Although he displayed efficient scoring, he came off the bench in 27 of his 28 appearances and only played 18.1 minutes per game. With Syracuse, Griffin has “a chance to be a star,” his high school coach Patrick Massaroni told The Daily Orange.Griffin has two years of eligibility remaining, and will apply for a waiver to be immediately eligible, Massaroni said. Currently, football and basketball players must sit out a year after transferring, unless granted a waiver. The NCAA has debated the one-time transfer rule, but pushed the vote from April to June and it was recently reported that a change wouldn’t affect the 2020-21 season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I can only control what I can control,” Griffin told Mike Waters of Syracuse.com. “I can’t worry about the stuff I can’t control.”Here’s everything you need to know about Syracuse’s newest addition:The scouting reportEven in limited minutes, Griffin hit 47 3-pointers last year, 19th most in the Big Ten. He sunk 41.6% of four attempts per game and often ranged several feet behind the arc. In a win at Northwestern, Griffin connected on six of his eight 3-point attempts in a 24 point, seven rebound performance.Although most effective as an outside shooter, Griffin also flashed some off-the-dribble verve at Illinois. Aside from his outside shooting, Griffin brings athleticism and length to SU. Massaroni said his rebounding is underrated — his 4.5 rebounds per game last year projects to 10 per 40 minutes — and his wingspan may allow him to play both on the elbow and on the block of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.“With his size, he’ll play so much longer than his 6’5 frame,” Massaroni said.Scott Richey, who covers Illinois basketball for The News-Gazette, said Griffin’s energy and offensive rebounding were big factors in him earning more minutes as a sophomore.“If he can get his defense up to a level where his offensive game is, he’s a pro prospect,” Richey said. “That was the long term ideal if he would have stuck at Illinois. But being at Syracuse doesn’t change that.”For the No. 21 Fighting Illini, Griffin provided energy off the bench behind guards Ayo Dosunmu, Andres Feliz and Trent Frazier. At SU, whether it’s in 2020 or 2021, he’ll have a larger offensive role, especially with the departure of Elijah Hughes.How he got hereAs a senior at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York, Griffin led the Crusaders to the program’s first-ever state federation title. That year, he averaged 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 48% from 3.Following the Federation tournament, he was named Most Valuable Player for a team that went 27-5 and finished No. 11 in the nation.“That team was special,” Massaroni said. “And Alan was the leader.”Even as Griffin led his high school team to a new level, he attracted mostly mid-major teams. Fordham, Marist, Massachusetts, St. John’s, Manhattan, Iona, and La Salle offered him. Syracuse showed late interest the first time around but was one of the earliest to reach out in 2020, Griffin told Syracuse.com.In his freshman year for the Fighting Illini, Griffin played just 8.1 minutes per game. After that season, when many of his teammates went home, Griffin stayed in Urbana-Champaign with Dosunmu to work out and train with the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Richey said.Then, from his freshman to sophomore year, every statistical category improved dramatically. His playing time doubled, scoring tripled and 3-point shooting rose 11.2%.Still, Griffin wanted more opportunities and transferred to Syracuse to find them.Family mattersAlso on that 2018 Stepinac State Federation title team was Griffin’s younger brother, Adrian Griffin Jr., then a freshman. Now, Griffin Jr.’s the No. 6 overall recruit in the 2021 class and the No. 1 prospect in New York, per 247 Sports. He’s also committed to Duke, set to match up with his older brother in conference play.“They’ve got pretty good genes there,” Massaroni said.Their sister, Aubrey just finished her freshman season as a forward for Connecticut. There, the 2019 Miss New York Basketball winner came off the bench for all 32 games and was named to the conference’s all-tournament team.Aubrey, Adrian and Alan’s mother was an All-American track runner at Seton Hall, and their father played nine seasons in the NBA and most recently served as an assistant coach for the defending NBA Champion Toronto Raptors.Said Massaroni: “When your dad is part of the NBA and you get to be around that, you can only learn and grow and develop. And that has, and will, continue to only help them in the future.”This story was updated with additional reporting from Senior Staff Writer Anthony Dabbundo Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Chargers’ Antonio Gates: It’s ‘challenging’ to settle in smaller role, but thinking of ‘bigger picture’

first_img“It’s challenging when you become accustomed to doing something for so long and doing it at a high level,” Gates said, via ESPN. “But the bigger picture is not what I can do individually. It’s more about the team and what I can do to help us win, and I just need to be ready for that time, whenever it’s called.” Gates, who has been with the team for 15 seasons, was told in the spring he would not be needed in 2018. However, the Chargers’ other tight end, Hunter Henry, tore his ACL in May, which gave Gates another shot. Related News Gates said he has moved on from initially being cut and is trying to stay in the moment. He said he wants to be supportive of his teammates and be 100 percent ready if the Chargers head to Atlanta in February.“It’s in my best interest and my team’s best interest that I continue to stay positive in terms of where we’re trying to go, because at any given moment my number can be called,” Gates said. “And I could be so caught up into things that didn’t happen in previous weeks, or things I thought I could do more or didn’t get a chance to do, and now I’m not focused on the present and I could actually make a play now. I’ve played with guys who are always complaining, complaining and complaining, but with good intentions — obviously they have a point. But when you do that, you start having this negativity and that affects you more than anything.“You start coming here and going about your business the wrong way. You start feeling a certain way about how they’re calling the plays, or the players and the coaches. You start thinking that everybody is against you, but really the big picture is we’re trying to get to a place, and if you can help us get there, you need to do your part. I’ve been in major roles and watched guys in minor roles complain. And I said to myself I never want to be that type of teammate.” Three takeaways from the Chargers’ win over the Steelers “I never wanted to leave — that was the dilemma,” Gates said. “I always knew we had a chance [to win a Super Bowl], which is why I wanted to come back.“Normally when you leave, it’s not on your terms. And for a person that’s been here, done all of this and been through the wars and they didn’t want to let me leave on my own terms — there was a lot of bitterness from that perspective. Like, ‘I can’t make the team? Whoever y’all want, it doesn’t matter, but I want to be here and I can’t get a spot?’ That’s how I felt. I remember what hurt me the most is I really thought we were going to win it this year, and I’ve got to root from afar.” Antonio Gates has made peace with his reduced role with the Chargers.The 38-year-old tight end’s numbers in 2018 don’t stack up to the success he had several years ago (he has 19 catches, 239 receiving yards and two touchdowns this year). However, he’s ok with Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Tyrell Williams and Austin Ekeler taking over the offense if it gets the 9-3 Chargers to the Super Bowl.last_img read more

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Outside Staples, LA sheds tears, even as Kobe Bryant’s life remembered inside

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersOutside: Tears.“As a mom, listening to Vanessa’s speech … that was deep,” Mendoza said, her voice breaking in the moment.She could not imagine losing her own children, she said.“It’s beyond sad.”And yet, like Mendoza, thousands — from not just Southern California, but from all over the world — descended on Staples Center on Monday for one last chance to say goodbye to the legendary Laker and his daughter Gigi, and honor the lives lost in a tragedy many on Monday said they were still processing, four weeks later. Related linksWith unrivaled ‘game,’ on and off the court, Kobe Bryant defined LA for a generationFrom LA to IE, the frenzy for Kobe tattoos eruptsPhotos: Memorial service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Staples CenterVanessa Bryant sues helicopter firm over death of Kobe, daughterKobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna among 9 killed in helicopter crash in Calabasas Many were there to get in to the arena — the “house that Kobe built.”But many, like Mendoza and scores of others, had no tickets, or hoped they could get in and couldn’t. They came just to be part of a massive collective grieving experience.That experience unfolded yet another layer of L.A.’s diversity, bringing together young, old, families, couples, rich, poor, vendors, artists.All the way from Germany, Kristijan “Kiki” Beslic would not miss #kobememorial , even though he couldn’t get tickets. Outside Staples: “Just take your crutches and go out and push it to the limit.” pic.twitter.com/G0iDXwI5bw— Ryan Carter (@ryinie) February 24, 2020And the world came — from Germany, from Italy … .People like Kristijan “Kiki” Beslic, of Germany, came. No tickets. Just to be there.“I grew up with Kobe since ’98. I’m happy and honored to just be here … and to feel the energy with all of these Kobe Bryant fans,” said the “super-collector” of all things Kobe.“We’re just here catching the energy,” he added.Kobe Bryant Fans cross Figueroa Street where street vendors were selling food and Kobe Bryant memorabilia during Kobe Bryant’s memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, February 24, 2020. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)But there was another thing.Hobbled by a disease that makes him unable to walk most of the time, Beslic was on crutches as his cousin Mimi accompanied him along the sidewalks outside Staples and LA Live to soak up the experience.And that’s where Kobe’s “Mamba Mentality” came in.“Just take your crutches and go out and push it to the limit, because Kobe would do it no other way,” he said.The Mamba Mentality. It was a recurring theme among the crowds outside Staples on Monday.It’s a mentality they know well in France, from where Elfaad Mnemoi and his friends came on a trip to the U.S. to watch NBA basketball games — a trip planned before Bryant’s passing.Mnemoi is blind, but that didn’t stop him from appreciating the athletic greatness of Bryant, whose notoriety stretches around the world, from China to Italy. Mnemoi was able to see Bryant play in the icon’s early years. And though he has progressively lost his sight, the athlete’s greatness was embedded in his mind. And with the aid of technology, he was able to continue enjoying Bryant’s games.“Even though you can’t see it, you can feel it,” Mnemoi said in French through his friend, Antoine Despres, who along with Cheikhou Diaby, accompanied him along Olympic Boulevard.Francesha Flores, of Colorado, wore “something different for #kobe for this day.” She didn’ have tickets for #kobememorial but is outside Staples anyway today. And fans are showing her love. pic.twitter.com/BVWtu7hIMu— Ryan Carter (@ryinie) February 24, 2020Franchesca Flores knows the feeling. The Guatemalan native came from Colorado. She had no tickets. But she was determined not to miss the experience, and to pay tribute in her own way.That tribute came in the form of her deep blue-colored formal gown — made over three days — especially for Feb. 24.“I wanted to do something for Kobe on this day. It was a little expensive. But for Kobe, I’d pay anything. Kobe taught me a lot. He taught me if something gets in the way in my life, I’m going to make it and do it.”Many on Monday, whether they were coming from Southern California, or from a far off place, were still processing the loss of Bryant, who so many grew up watching at Staples or on television screens.Kobe Bryant fans lineup for his memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, February 24, 2020. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)As they waited in line to get in to the arena, one woman said, just watching those games brought her family closer together. She was there, with that family, to thank Kobe.Others, like Kendall Shinmoto, of Pasadena, and her friend Spencer Daley, reflected on the train ride to the arena: Yes. They wanted to celebrate a life gone too soon, now that after a few weeks, they can at least absorb the loss without the feeling of such shock that came in the day and immediate days after the crash.“For a lot people, it’s closure,” Shinmoto said. Stacy Mendoza stood in tears Monday on a sidewalk outside of Staples Center, where inside an epic tribute was happening in the name of a basketball legend gone way too soon.Echoing from cellphone speakers all around her was the voice of Vanessa Bryant.Without tickets, Mendoza, of Las Vegas, only had the moment to listen — a moment to connect with Vanessa Bryant, a mother still grieving in the midst of a nightmare since Jan. 26, when her husband, Kobe Bryant, 41, their daughter Gianna, 13, and seven friends died in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas hills.Inside: Tears.center_img But others were still struggling.“I’m crushed. I haven’t been the same since I heard the news,” said Ray Martin of Huntington Beach, donning his Lakers championship jacket from 2009, as he hurried to get through an access point at Olympic Boulevard. “It looked like he was going to have an even better second act.”For Martin, the memories of Kobe stretch back to when he saw Kobe play for the first time (in person). Kobe was was 17. It was Summer League at the Long Beach Pyramid, and Kobe scored 27 against the Detroit Pistons. To bookend it, he saw him in person again, in the superstar’s last game, 20 years later, when he dropped 50 at Staples.“It’s hard to lose an icon,” he said as he hurried to make his way toward the arena.Back outside Staples, the day went on — a flurry of vendors selling everything Kobe — hats, pictures, t-shirts, street food.  A sea of No. 24s and No. 8s flooding Figueroa. Some hip-hop blared from a nearby food truck. An older man, dressed in Lakers paraphernalia, dribbled a basketball across a street. Dazed children stood taking it all in. The ink dried on Kobe art.L.A. — and the world — said goodbye. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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