Wishing, Wanting, and Hopefully Having

            With one of Indiana’s teams down 1-0 in a NBA playoff series, another team with its owner in rehab, and its own college failing to make any post-season run, there is a lot out there for sports fans to desire. Since this may be my last post in a while, I would like to share my thoughts on what would lead Indiana back to the top of sport prominence.

As many readers out there know, the Indiana Pacers, number one seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped their first playoff game to the eight seed Atlanta Hawks. Do not take this article as giving up on a team with talent from top to bottom, but there are problems that have to be addressed. Unless feelings between teammates are significantly changed, moves need to be made and new faces need to be brought in.

The move that needs to be made is allowing Evan Turner to make his way out and secure the future of Lance Stephenson. Despite the fact that Turner has had some worth playing big minutes in Indiana, the on-court chemistry between him and other bench-contributors has not been there; which I believe to be a large part of the team’s struggles. Lance-Stephenson-280x300

The same cannot be said for Stephenson who thrives with second-team players, and has his most value distributing and driving the ball against lesser opponents. However, due to his significant drop-off in production, I would like Lance to realize that Indiana is the place where he will win his championships and take less than a max contract (which will most likely be offered from another, worse franchise).

Since I have already voiced my thoughts about Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in a previous article, I think it would be better to leave it brief and only discuss players that step foot on the gridiron. The section of the team that I would like to analyze is not always viewed as the most important, but everyone knows that it can change the momentum of the game: Special Teams.

Proven by numerous speedsters- like DeSean Jackson or Devin Hester- successful punt and kick returning gives something for a team to rally around and triumph, and the Colts have lacked this kind of playmaker for as long as this writer has been watching. With free agency in the rearview mirror and most worthwhile players gone, finding a PR/KR specialist could be a steal, and that is exactly what Joshua Cribbs is.

Joshua Cribbs, Bryant McFaddenDespite his lack of production on offense, Cribbs has proven his worth on special teams over and over again. Cribbs has the lateral quickness to make tacklers miss and the speed to distance himself from the rest of his pursuers. Bolstering double-digit touchdowns on special teams, if Joshua Cribbs still has anything left in the tank and the smarts to keep his head down, he could make big contributions to a team that usually plays in the post-season.

The last team I want to talk about is the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, because I think that it is time for Tom Crean to make his exit from Bloomington. As a Hoosier fan, I respect Crean for bringing the team out of the depths that they found themselves in after the Kelvin Sampson scandal, but he has served his purpose to the university. With his best player, Noah Vonleh, entering the draft and a ton of others transferring to different universities, now is the time to open a new chapter at Indiana. This new chapter is named Mike Woodson.

Fresh from being a scapegoat with the New York Knicks, an Indiana alumnus is exactly what the team needs. Not only does Woodson have ties to IU and the know how to get his players to work hard- shown by the increased effectiveness of his former superstar Carmelo Anthony- but there is nothing more appealing to a high school recruit than NBA experience. Mike Woodson has shown that he can be successful on the professional level, so I am sure that he would thrive in Bloomington.

The Best Moments of the NCAA Tournament

With another national champion team crowned, the 2013-2014 NCAA tournament has come to an end. Another year of exciting upsets and devastating losses, basketball fans around the country must resort to NBA or wait until next October for more college basketball. This year’s tournament was by far one of the hardest to predict, with many brackets instantly being busted with early upsets. Regardless, it was a great tournament with some amazing moments. Here’s my top 5.

1. Dayton Beats Ohio State – As a fan of the Big Ten, it was easy to cheer on Ohio State in the tournament, but it was evosuen easier to watch them lose in the first round of the tournament, by Dayton. To add to the fact of OSU losing, they lost by one point, which makes it even harder of a concept for the Buckeyes. No one predicted this upset and Dayton had every right to celebrate after beating a local rivalry.

2. Stephen F. Austen beats VCU in OT – This year, there were quite a few games that went into overtime, but this one is my favorite. VCU has had great tournament success the last few season and there were favored again to make a run this year. VCU was up by four points in the last seconds, until they fouled Steven F. Austin’s three-point shooter. The basket was counted and Stephen F. Austin made the four-point play to take the game into overtime.

 

3. Mercer Celebratory Dance – With most of the hip-hop songs, comes some sort of dance to it. The “Nae Naemerceruk” made an appearance in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, after Mercer defeated top ranked Duke. Mercer had every right to celebrate after this huge victory and the dance caught even more attention to the headline.

 

4. Aaron Harrison – Although I am far from a UK fan, you got to give it to Aaron Harrison’s clutch last minute three-point plays. With 2.3 seconds left, Harrison knocked down an NBA-range shot to beat Michigan. A repeat occurred when he hit another game winning three against Wisconsin, to take UK into the Finals.

5. UConn Defeats UK – That’s pretty much all I have to say about that one. The Wildcats never had a lead in the entire game, and they didn’t win the National Championship. All is well in college basketball, especially for Hoosiers.

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The Return of the Big Ten

bigLast year, the Big Ten conference hands down was the best and most powerful conference in college basketball. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten had seven teams, six of them having seeds higher than 10. Even with the top seeds in the tournament being Big Ten teams, many people doubted the Big Ten and thought the conference was overrated. With all the talk and hype of the Big Ten, only two teams made it to the Elite 8, one to the Final Four and Finals.

This year, again, talk of the Big Ten conference began to hype up during the regular 2014 basketball season. Top teams from last year started strong but slowly began to fall during conference play. As usual, they were some upsets and shocking games, including Indiana being the underdogs as they finally became victorious when they played against Wisconsin, beating them for the first time under the Crean era.

Many fans were slowly losing hope in the Big Ten as teams everywhere seemed to fall apart. Heading into March Madness, it was unsure what teams would be ranked highest and whether or not a number one seed from the year before, Indiana, would even return to the Big Dance. This year, six teams were in the tournament representing the Big Ten, but only four of them were ranked higher than tenth. People began to talk more about how overrated the Big Ten is and how the teams are not all that great.

Ohio State lost in their first round of play, but after that the remaining teams stuck around as late as the Elite 8. Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Michigan were all left in the tournament representing the power house of the Big Ten. Unexpectedly, the Big Ten had more representation in the NCAA this year than it did last year when almost all of the teams were stronger than ever.

Now, the Big Ten conference is all relying on Wisconsin, who is the remaining competitor for the conference. As a bitter Indiana fan, I was ashamed that Indiana couldn’t even make it into the NCAA tournament, let alone the NIT. Meanwhile, Michigan and Wisconsin, two teams who Indiana had both beaten earlier in the season, were about to make it to the Final Four. Unfortunately, only Wisconsin survived, which doesn’t necessarily make me feel any better.

Anyways, people can talk all the crap they want to about a conference and whether they are overrated or not, but the true test is the NCAA tournament. Teams are made in March, and players strive in March. Honestly, when I’m picking my bracket during March Madness, seeds mean almost nothing to me, but anything is possible. Every year, people always claim that “this is the best March Madness yet,” but every year it keeps getting better. You can’t generalize one conference because of the way they’ve played as a whole during the regular season. It’s about what they do during the tournament. The tough keep getting tougher and the weak teams show as they are quickly eliminated.

Archie Miller’s Dayton Flyers

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There have been many upsets this year in the NCAA tournament. The nation saw SF Austin knock out the Cinderella story of the past, VCU. Harvard eliminated Cincinnati, and one of the biggest upsets being Mercer taking out Duke all in the first round.

But what team will everyone be talking about after this NCAA championship tournament is over? The Dayton Flyers.

The eleventh seed Dayton Flyers have shocked the world in this 2014 NCAA tournament. With their first win against an instate rival The Ohio State, then knocking off Syracuse in the second round, the Flyers are making their first appearance in the sweet 16 in 30 years. They will be playing for a spot in the elite eight this Thursday trying to knock off number ten Stanford.

With all the hype of the tournament thus far the athletic department decided that this is the perfect time to release that the University of Dayton has extended head coach Archie Miller’s contract until the 2018-19 season.Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 6.52.47 PM

Athletic director Tim Wabler was quoted in a statement saying, “The University of Dayton is committed to a national-level basketball program, and this contract extension demonstrates our belief that Archie Miller is the right leader for our program. We are proud of the academic and competitive success he has led over the last three years, and the momentum of the program is on the path we expect.”

The contract with Coach Miller was negotiated starting back in December, but he didn’t sign the contract until February, and decided to keep the news private during regular season to avoid any distractions that could come with it.

In a statement released by Coach Archie Miller he says, “It’s a privilege to be the head coach at the University of Dayton. We are thrilled about our future. The University of Dayton has everything it needs to be among the best. We have great fans, a totally committed administration, and the key pieces are in place.”

Now that the big announcement has been released to the public, Coach Miller has to focus on his next task taking out Stanford to earn a spot in the Elite 8.

 

 

 

 

 

Play Pivit – A New Live Fantasy Sports App

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If your NCAA March Madness bracket isn’t doing too hot, then play Pivit for a second chance to beat your friends. Pivit is a new live sports app where fans can play along live games and predict the winner. It is premised off of probability and win percentages. You can predict the winner before the game starts and change your bets throughout the game based on points and game changes. It is a moment-to-moment experience that allows players to change their bets during the game changes.

As you play, you can multiply your game percentage up to 10 maximum, and based off your bets you will either win points or lose points along the way. If you are losing a lot of points, you can quit then and cut your losses, or collect your points while you’re up. Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 1.34.09 PMThis is a great app during March Madness with a lot of games occurring, allowing you to gain a ton of points. Plus, Pivit is also giving away up to $15k in cash prizes during the March Madness Sweepstakes.

This app is unique in many ways. Not only is it a live fantasy experience, but you can play on a game-to-game bases. This years NCAA Tournament has had quite a few upsets in just the first round with the underdog teams winning, throwing off many peoples’ brackets. This app gives you another chance to play along and beat your friends. You can play in individual leagues with your closest friends and make the game even more competitive. If your winning team is already out of the tournament, play Pivit for another chance to boast and brag amongst your friends.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 1.33.40 PMWith today’s generation of new media, this app is one of the first of it’s kinds. There is so much potential with the access we have to media, and this app takes advantage of it to the fullest! Everyone loves the competition that comes along with sports, especially during March Madness, why not join the madness in Pivit and compete with thousands of other users? It’s free and it’s fun! Download Pivit today.

When is Storming the Court Necessary?

First off, let’s all take a look at this.

Now think about it. When is it a necessary time for fans to storm a court after a win? The buzzer beater game versus Indiana and Kentucky, nonetheless started a trend in 2011. During that season, it was almost rare to see a game not end with a court storm. Storming the court has been one of college basketball’s oldest tradition, but in recent seasons, it has been a tradition that has become way overdone.

There are two times where storming the court is okay:

#1: An UNRATED, underdog team, knocks off Number 1 Seed, who happens to be a huge rivalry – Exhibit A, IU vs. UK. Many fans sat back for years as they watched their beloved Hoosiers struggle over and over, until two years ago when they hosted number 1 seed, Kentucky. Fans expected this game to be brutal disaster, but low and behold, a buzzer beater three-point shot by Christian Watford sent the fans over the top as they rushed the court in celebration of a HUGE victory for the university.

However, this does not mean that every time a team beats a number one seed, that it is appropriate to storm the court. Fans saw this trend occur continuously after the IU/UK game. The constant rushing of courts after games made the moment less special and less appreciated, which annoyed many fans.

#2: With rankings put aside, a long history of rivalry between two teams – There’s two examples that have occurred this season. The first example is Indiana vs. Wisconsin. Now, this isn’t IU’s biggest rival, but because they are in the Big Ten conference, they are a top competitor, and Tom Crean has never beaten them as coach at Indiana, it was a big deal. A lot of debate was created when the fans rushed the court at Assembly Hall after the Hoosiers beat the Badgers 75-72. More importantly, with the season the Hoosiers have had this year, and being able to beat the Badgers, when they had one of their best teams last year and couldn’t, was a huge accomplishment for the young Hoosiers. The second example, that raised a lot of controversy, was when University of North Caroline defeated Duke 74-66. The history between those two teams and their rivalry goes way back.

With that being said, there is another element that must be added to these two circumstances. The game must be an unbelievably good and close game. If one team dominated the whole time, there’s nothing really to celebrate because the fans already anticipated the win and there’s not much of a surprise factor. Buzzer beater games, as well as games that come down to the last minute, or few seconds, throws the fans off guard and when the home court team surprisingly wins, it only makes sense for the fans to react this way.

Bottom line, college athletics is all about the student athletes and the universities taking pride in their school’s history and athletic programs. College sports are fun and entertaining and banning the act of storming the court will only take away the student experience. It is a tradition unique to the NCAA, and it should remain that way.

Smart Suspended for 3 Games

Smart shoving Orr.

On Sunday, Oklahoma State’s guard, Marcus Smart, was announced for the next three games that he is suspended due to shoving a Texas Tech fan towards the end of Saturday’s game.

Smart attempted to block Texas Tech’s Jaye Crockett’s dunk attempt from behind and he tripped out of bounds. But as he was being helped up by a teammate. he was exchanging words with a fan who was sitting in the front row. Smart heard the fan call him something and then he reacted really quick and pushed the fan with two hands. The fan stumbled back a little bit but never fell.

After that, Smart began to walk about and was pointing at the fan who was mouthing at him. The referees gave Smart a technical foul but didn’t eject him, and the coach Ford kept Smart on the bench for the remainder of the game.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys will be traveling to Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, then will be facing Oklahoma at home on Saturday, and finally will be playing at Baylor on February 17th. Those games will conclude Smart’s suspension and his first game back will be against Texas Tech at home.

The fan who Smart shoved was named Jeff Orr. Orr is an air traffic controller in Waco, Texas, and travels tons of miles each year to go to Texas Tech basketball games.

Smart told the Oklahoma State coaches that Orr called him a racial slur, but Orr denies it.

Texas Tech did their own investigation of what Orr really called Smart but found out that no racial slur was said. In a statement released through Texas Tech, Orr says he never used a racial slur and apologized to Smart for calling him a “piece of crap”.

Past Texas Tech head coach, Pat Knight, said that Orr was a great guy and also said that he was very surprised by the actions that happened Saturday.