WNBA expands its reach

Amber Anderson | Staff Writer

wnba articlePhoto Credit: Flickr User Lorie Shaull

The WNBA in September announced legend Lisa Leslie will be honored with a statue outside Staples Center.

Leslie will make history as the first female athlete to be honored with a statue outside of the arena. She also will be the first in WNBA history to have a statue outside the team’s home arena. Her statue will be alongside other Los Angeles legends, such as Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Wayne Gretzky.

It will be a historic moment for women’s basketball.

In a recent interview with the female hosts of CBS: We Need to Talk, Leslie spoke about the importance of women in sports and the growth of the WNBA. Leslie discussed the humble beginnings of the league, expressing how grateful she was not only for her career but for the men who stood up and supported the WNBA. Leslie also mentioned that being one of the first to sign with the WNBA, alongside Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes, meant she had an obligation to set the standard for future athletes to come.

“When you look at the WNBA Finals, these players are more talented than the talent that we had in 1997,” Leslie said.

She also went on to express how proud she is of Washington Mystics Forward Elena Delle Donne for being the first in the WNBA to join the 50-40-90 club. That meant that Delle Donne shot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point range, and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

Lanece Carpenter, a Hampton University freshman majoring in sports management, thinks the WNBA has made significant strides.

“I do believe the WNBA is making progress,” Carpenter said. “In terms of popularity, the WNBA gets more viewers and makes more money every year. Even though the progress they make may look nonexistent in comparison to the NBA, they are making continuous progress to have female professional sports leagues be as coveted as male professional sports leagues.”

Carpenter thinks the WNBA is working diligently to prove the longevity and desire for female professional sports leagues.

The WNBA has indeed been working hard to progress through making themselves more notable in the media to become more recognizable to basketball fans across the globe.

Ayonna Chambers, a freshman journalism student at Hampton, has taken note of the WNBA becoming more prevalent.

“A couple of years ago, I wasn’t even about to name a woman’s basketball player,” Chambers said. “Now I see them all in the headlines, commercials, and sponsorships and can recognize their face. Also, they are now featured in NBA 2K20 for the first time.

“They never had this opportunity because no one had eyes on the WNBA, but now they do.”

The new Golden Age in San Francisco isn’t looking so golden

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer

Golden Age, 73-9, Rings, Goats and a dynasty. These are all words commonly associated with the Golden State Warriors.

For years, the Warriors ran the NBA, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green securing a championship in 2015. Then, by adding superstar Kevin Durant, Golden State claimed two more titles in 2017 and 2018.

Critics knew the 2018-2019 season was going to be difficult for Golden State for a plethora of reasons. There are obvious signs that the team was growing apart, and also there was no possible way to pay everyone for their services.

Adding on to the misfortune in the latter part of last year, the Warriors caught the injury bug, with Durant and Thompson going down with a torn Achilles and an ACL tear, respectively — injuries that ultimately lost them a chance to three-peat as champions. After the departure of Durant to the Nets and Thompson sitting out for the majority of the season, this year’s team is very different from last year’s.

Which leaves critics wondering: Will there be a new Golden Age in San Francisco?

Curry and Green are the only real returners coming back and will have to lead a young squad. Curry recently broke his hand, so he’s going to miss significant time as well. The Warriors are not left with just scrubs. Newly acquired All-Star D’Angelo Russell brings a lot of optimism to the organization, but many still think that D-Lo isn’t enough to help the Warriors be successful.

“We don’t have Klay, KD left and Steph is hurt,” said Hampton University student Harrington Gardiner, a Warriors fan. “Sure we got D-Lo, but he isn’t Klay Thompson, and I don’t think we have enough to compete in the Western Conference.

“I’m not optimistic for this season. We suck.”

These are hard words coming from a fan who’s used to seeing his team win 60-plus games each season.

The Warriors started 2-6 and have rolled out a lineup full of second-round and undrafted talent.

“Being faced with plenty of adversity due to injuries as well as moving pieces, I thoroughly believe the Warriors realize their current state and are making decisions for the future,” HU student Jonathan Mack said.

“I genuinely feel that we have not seen the last of the Warriors dynasty, and similar to the Spurs when they drafted Tim Duncan, after this season, I expect Golden State to add a key young lottery pick to fit into their franchise, and once they return to full health, they will be a strong contender again.”

Pirates pummel Presbyterian, taste Southern discomfort

Roderick Mclean | Staff Writer

IMG_0147Photo Credit: Media Specialist Marcel Jones

Hampton University earned its first Big South victory of the season 40-17 against Presbyterian on Nov. 2 at home but then fell 27-20 in overtime at Charleston Southern on Nov. 9.

The Pirates are 5-5 (1-3 in the Big South).

The Pirates started off slow against a Presbyterian team looking for its first win of the season. The Pirates were only up 6-3 in the first quarter, as the Blue Hose’s plan was to contain running back Shai McKenzie. In the second quarter, Pirates coach Robert Prunty decided to change up plan for the running game. He went with freshman running back Darran Butts to start the second quarter, then went back to McKenzie.

“Speed to power, we changed it up,” Prunty said. “They were stacking the box, and that’s how they were tackling Shai, so we decided to run it to the outside.”

Eventually, Presbyterian’s defensive line got worn down, and McKenzie was able to take advantage.

“It’s like thunder and lightning with those two,” Prunty said.

The Pirates took control and did not look back.

Hampton started off strong against Charleston Southern (4-6, 2-2, fourth place in the Big South). It only took six plays for the Pirates to score as quarterback Deondre Francois threw a 33-yard touchdown strike to Jadakis Bonds. HU, which has had trouble on special teams all year, missed the extra-point attempt. Still, the Pirates led 13-3 going into the second quarter.

Charleston Southern closed the gap with a 2-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Darius Douglas. Then Douglas gave Charleston Southern the lead with a 19-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

In the fourth, the Pirates answered back with another TD connection between Francois and Bonds.

In overtime, Douglas found Garris Schwarting for a 24-yard game-winning touchdown.

For Hampton, Francois finished with 298 passing yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Bonds had 10 catches for 91 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the nation this season with 14 receiving touchdowns.

Hampton’s 20 seniors and the rest of the Pirates face a tough test against Kennesaw State (8-2, 4-1 Big South) on Senior Day this Saturday at 1 p.m. The Pirates finish the season Nov. 23 at conference-leading Monmouth (8-2, 5-0).

“We’re in a good position,” Prunty said. “We have a chance to go fight.”

 

The Year of the Duos in the NBA

Justin Whitner | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User Stephen Baker

After more than 10 years of big threes taking over the league, it appears as if duos will be a theme this NBA season.

This is how it used to be: Kobe and Shaq, LeBron and Dwyane, Scottie and Michael, Steph and KD, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. A duo’s greatness is largely measured by their playoff success. Those names are household because they performed well in the postseason, especially in June. Kevin Durant left the Warriors to join Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.That leaves the NBA season wide open. So who are the best duos? Who will take home the title this season?

There are different ways to separate the two-man tandems in the league. In terms of production by the numbers, James Harden and Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets would take the crown. These two teammates can get a triple double, along with 30 points, at any time. The team finished with the first seed last season, and James Harden finished second in MVP votes while averaging 36 points per game. Now that they have replaced Chris Paul with the lethal Westbrook, things seem to be in pretty good shape for the Rockets.

Arguably the best two-way players in the game are Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, and they are on the same court together for the Los Angeles Clippers. George has had trouble in the playoffs as of late. He wasn’t able to get over the hump the past two years with Westbrook and the Thunder. Things may be different this season with Leonard as his counterpart. The 2019 NBA finals MVP brought the Toronto Raptors their first championship and looked like the best player on the court.

“The best duo in the NBA, and the best team right now has to be the Kawhi and Paul for Los Angeles Clippers,” Hampton University senior Nazim Trammell-Wells said. “When you add arguably the best player in the league to an already prolific lineup, there is no stopping him. Now that Paul George is there as well, I see them winning it all.”

Winning the chip is something that James, one of the best players of all time, has done three times in his career. The Lakers made the move to acquire Anthony Davis, and this duo is widely regarded as the best in the league. James and Davis are both top-five-caliber players, and it’s going to be up to the supporting cast – and everyone staying healthy – if they want this team to go all the way.

“I really like the move we made for Anthony Davis,” HU student and Lakers fan Rufus Kearse said. “LeBron has us at the fourth seed before his injury, and with Anthony Davis joining us, it can only get better from here. I’m thinking we could even win 60 games this season.”

Honorable mentions for new duos include Kristaps Porzingis going to the Dallas Mavericks to join Luka Doncic and D’Angelo Russell traded to the Warriors to join Stephen Curry and the Warriors with Klay Thompson out for the season.

There are many duos in the league that can take the league by storm. Fans will have to wait and see who emerges as the best.

Eight new faces on deck for Pirates men’s basketball

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer

The Hampton University men’s basketball team is preparing for a new season with a lot of new faces.

This year’s Pirates feature eight new players, a majority making the switch from the junior college level.

“Daveon Warren, Edward Oliver-Hampton, and Saheem Anthony are all JUCO guys that are going to be good for us,” HU assistant coach Matt Hamilton said. “The difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is that last year’s team had a lot of experience. The majority of those guys had been starting since they were freshmen and sophomores.”

Experience is always difficult to replace. Leading scorer Jermaine Marrow is back, but who will replace Kaylin Fisher’s (16 ppg) contributions from a Pirates team which went 18-17 a year ago?

“This year’s team, player-by-player wise, is very talented,” Hamilton said.

Second-year forward Ben Stanley agrees.

“This year, we’re a more long and athletic team,” Stanley said. “Every guy can create something. I’m very excited.”

A majority of the new players expected to contribute have 6-5 to 6-7 wingspans, which should complement Marrow in the backcourt.

As for Stanley, the super-athletic 6-6 forward has some goals for himself.

“First and foremost, I want to help my team win, but an individual goal that I have for myself is that I want to average a double-double,” he said.

Last year it was no secret that Stanley was a spark plug off the bench who had some great games.

“Ben is very athletic and a very good piece to our team,” Hamilton said. “We’re excited to see his progression.”

Another name that both Stanley and Hamilton spoke very positively about is graduate student forward Amir Smith.

“Amir is a super athletic shot blocker,” Hamilton said. “He’s going to be good for us.”

Marrow has increased his scoring average each year. As a junior last season, Marrow averaged 24 points per game, good for eighth in the nation – above notable names such as Carsen Edwards and slightly behind NBA lottery pick Ja Morant.

“Jermaine is a natural leader in our locker room,” Hamilton said. “He’s been put in that position since his freshman year. He does score for us, but he also knows how to rile the guys up and also calm them down.”

HU opens Nov. 6 vs. Mid-Atlantic Christian University in the Hampton Convocation Center.

Is the second time the charm for the XFL?

Keion Cage | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User Dave Adamson

The Xtreme Football League (XFL) on Oct. 22 released its inaugural season schedule. This will be Vince McMahon’s second attempt at establishing a professional football league.

The D.C. Defenders take on the Seattle Dragons on Feb. 8 in Washington, D.C., to open the XFL inaugural season.

“Our ultimate goal is to make this all work having high quality football by 2020, and that remains paramount,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said in an interview with ESPN. “Everything is going to be different [than 2001].”

In 2001, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO McMahon established his first edition of the XFL, but it ended in disappointment after only one season.

The first game of the 2001 season had a TV rating of 9.5, but week two’s TV rating dropped to 4.6. As the season progressed, the rating continued to decline. After the inaugural season was finished, the average rating per game was 3.0, well below the average of 4.5 that was promised to advertisers.

“I am probably not going even watch it, because I don’t even know the players that are even going to be playing in it,” said Khris Downing, a Hampton Univeristy electrical engineer major who is an Atlanta Falcons fan. “It’s going to be about who is playing out there on the field. If there aren’t players like Odell Beckham Jr. playing, then no one is watching a game.”

McMahon’s intent is for the league to increase the speed of the game and cut things he thinks football fans don’t like about the game. These things include long commercial breaks and halftime.

This league is trying to change the way football is played and viewed. And if the XFL proves to be successful, it could present more opportunities for those who aspire to play pro football.

“I would play in the league,” Hampton Pirates running back Will Robinson said. “I would still be playing the game I love and getting paid to play. I would be playing professionally, making my dream come true.”

The NFL is celebrating its 100th season this year and has turned the game of football into the United States’ most popular sport. There have been multiple attempts at establishing another football league outside of the NFL such as the Alliance of American Football and the United States Football League, but both ended unsuccessfully.

“If there was someone I knew personally playing, I would watch it all the time,” Robinson said. “If I’m flipping through the channels and see it, I might check it out. I’m just not going purposefully look to watch the XFL.”

McMahon is the sole funding source for the league and is expected to invest an estimated $100 million.

“I am going to learn from their mistakes as anyone would if they were tasked with reimagining a new football league,” McMahon said in an interview with ESPN.

Letter from Penn State graduate causes outrage

Amber Anderson | Staff Writer

The Penn State University football community was outraged recently when star safety Jonathan Sutherland re- ceived a letter from a “proud” graduate of the university, criticizing him for his locs. 

Sutherland’s teammate, defensive tackle Antonio Shelton, on Monday posted a picture of the letter on Twitter. “One of my teammates got this,” Shelton wrote. “Explain to me how this isn’t racist.” 

In the letter, the graduate wrote that while watching Penn State’s home opener against the University of Idaho, he couldn’t help but notice Sutherland’s “awful hair.” 

The graduate even asked in the letter, “Don’t you have parents or girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder-length dreadlocks look disgusting and are
certainly not attractive.”

Many people took to social media to share their outrage about the letter. Rapper T.I. posted a picture of the letter on Instagram.

“Listen King… U better not be persuaded to adjust your look due to this ignorant bigots lack of perspective,” he wrote.

Wayne Bumbry, a Hampton University first-year sports management major from Prince’s George’s County, Maryland, was disgusted after reading
the letter.

“Athletes should be able to wear
[their hair] however they want and dress how they want – it’s a part of their personality,” Bumbry said.

T.I. wasn’t the only one who came to Sutherland’s defense. Penn State coach James Franklin defended him the following day after the letter had surfaced, during a news conference.

“Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program,” Franklin said. “He’s the ultimate example of what our program is all about. He’s a captain. He’s a dean’s list honors student. He’s confident, he’s articulate, he’s intelligent, he’s thoughtful, he’s caring and he’s committed.” Sutherland took to Twitter to let people know that he appreciates everyone’s support and forgives the letter writer, citing the bible verse Colossians 3:13.

He also wrote, “Although the message was indeed rude, ignorant and judging, I’ve taken no personal offense to it because personally, I must respect you as a person before I respect your opinion.” Kyle Robinson, an HU first-year business major from Chicago, thinks that forgiveness was the best way to deal with this situation.

“It’s easier to forgive than forget, his statement was [biased], but everybody is entitled to their own opinion,” Robinson said.

Bonds catches on quickly with nine TD grabs in HU’s first five games

Harrington Gardiner & Keion Cage | Staff Writers

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Photo Credit: HamptonPirates.com

The Hampton University football team is halfway through its first official season in the Big South Conference. Sophomore receiver Jadakis Bonds already is breaking conference records. Bonds recently set a new Big South Conference record for most consec- utive games to start a season with a touchdown reception in an Oct. 5 home victory against the University of North Alabama. 

“Jadakis is a winner,” Hampton coach Robert Prunty said. “He’s a tough guy that came out of high school out of North Carolina with phenomenal work habits.” 

Since Bonds’ arrival at Hampton University last year, he has been a huge playmaker for the Pirates. In the first five games of the 2019 season, Bonds led the Big South in receiving touchdowns with nine, total receiving yards with 444, and receiving yards per game with an average of 88.8, according to the conference website. 

Bonds had six catches for 68 yards and was held without a touchdown in a 35-27 loss at Gardner-Webb on Oct. 12. 

“Personally, I just to want to help my team win the Big South,” Bonds said. “This is our first year in the Big South, and I want to come away with a conference championship.”

After the 2017 season, the Pirates chose to leave the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) for the Big South Conference, which allowed Hampton to expand its recruitment and talent pool.

Bonds was a three-star recruit, accord-
ing to 247Sports, at Riverside High School in Williamston, North Carolina.

After his senior season at Riverside, Bonds had multiple Division I offers, such as West Virginia University. 

“When he came out of high school, [Jadakis] was committed to West Virginia, but things did not work out,” Prunty said. “Then he committed to East Carolina, where we formed a relationship. When it became available and [I] got the job [at Hampton University], leaving East Carolina and [a] good player like [Jadakis] still out there, it was significant to get down there to build our relationship, and he decided to come [to Hampton].” 

This journey has led Bonds to be paired with talented former Florida State University quarterback Deondre Francois at HU. The Francois-to-Bonds connection has led the Pirates offense to first in scoring offense and second in total yards in the Big South Conference.

“[Francois and I] have gotten real close since he been here,” Bonds said. “Every time we get our connection better, it shows, come game time. He
has been helping me with every step of the way.”

Hampton (3-3, 0-1 Big South) plays at Campbell on Saturday.

Is Simone Biles the greatest athlete of all time?

Justin Whitner | Staff Writer

Simone Biles is now the most dec- orated gymnast ever, male or female. 

Sitting with 25 medals puts her in the discussion of the best athletes of all time. Biles has won the gold medal in the all-around competition at the World Championships every year in which she’s competed since 2013. To put this in perspective, she has not lost an all- around competition in which she has competed in six years. This is impres- sive as is but what makes it even more remarkable is the length of time of her dominance. After her Oct. 10 victory, Biles was asked to step back and con- sider the heights she has reached in the field of gymnastics. 

“I don’t know; I feel like it’s not me,” Biles told The New York Times.

“Sometimes I wonder how I do it. I feel like it’s just, like, not me. I wish I could have like an out-of-body experience to witness it, because sometimes I think
I’m going crazy.”

Biles finished the Oct. 10 all-around competition with a score of  58.999. This was the largest margin of victory in her career. While Biles is getting better with time, other legendary gymnasts have
spoken on the greatness of Biles as of late as well. Coaches, players and analysts have all taken notice of how amazing she is.

“She is absolutely the best I have ever seen,” said Liang Chow, the coach of the Chinese team, according to USA Today.

Nadia Comaneci, who was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10, spoke on Biles as well.

“If we’re talking about domination, nothing like that has ever happened in our sport,” Comaneci told Vox. “I don’t think there will ever be anything like that. She’s one of a kind.”

Although Biles is one of a kind it will be hard for her to get the recognition she will every truly deserve.

Gymnastics is a very talented sport, but it does not get the same recognition as almost any of the other competitions.

The average span of a gymnastics athlete can be from 2 to 5 years.

For example, the third female on the list for World Championship medals won by a woman is Romanian Gina Gogean. She finished her career with nine medals. Gogean competed at five world championships between 1993 and 1998, winning a silver medal in the all-around competition.

The span of an Olympic female gymnast career tends to taper off when they turn 18. It’s rare for gymnasts to perform at two Olympic Games. Biles
achieved her awards in this time span even after taking a whole year off after the Rio Olympics. When she returned to competition in early August, that was her first competition in 712 days. Biles is getting better with time, still improving and will head the Tokyo in 2020.

HU men’s soccer club team heads for tournament

Roderick Mclean | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Alexis Johnson

The Hampton University men’s soccer club team has officially been restarted. The team has already started to hit the field as they’re preparing for an upcoming tournament. Virginia State University contacted Hampton University Intramurals Director Clyde Etter and discussed playing against one another. The two came up with another idea of having a tournament. 

The HU club team tentatively will play Saturday, Oct. 26, but that date can change to Saturday, Nov. 2. So far, there will be six teams in the tournament: Hampton, Virginia State, Chesterfield, Richmond Loco’s, University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University. 

The Pirates are having a great turnout at practice, compared to previ- ous years. Nineteen players consistently show up. 

“This year has been a good out- pour, the commitment is certainly there with a lot of new faces,” Etter said. 

The team must build up its chemistry quickly as the played have not had a lot of time playing with one another like the rest of the teams in this tournament. VCU and the University of Richmond have had strong club teams for a long time and should be tough tests for the Pirates. 

Senior Captain Issa Johnson is running practices due to the fact that the team is still searching for a coach. When asked how does it feel to be running practice, Johnson said: “It’s different. I’m not an actual coach, I’m a player.” Johnson main goal right now is to keep the rest of the players engaged every day. 

The main focus at practice these past few weeks has been endurance. During previous seasons, the Pirates’ biggest problem has been players not being able to finish an entire half. 

“The more endurance we have the longer, will be able to control the pace of the game,” senior defender Uche White-Thorpe said. 

Another setback the Pirates have had is their lack of teamwork. The team has players full of individual talent, but they must work together to be successful. 

The men’s club team is pushing to become a Division I program, but the Pirates will have to be committed throughout the whole season. 

“That’s the ultimate goal and the reason why I been a part of this pro- gram since my freshman year,” Johnson said.

The team is not as known through- out campus like other teams yet. 

“They need to show Hampton University that they’re serious about taking it to the next level,” Etter said. 

Changing conferences and joining the Big South has opened that Division I door just little bit more for the club. When Hampton was in the MEAC, the men’s club team mainly played teams that were outside the conference. The MEAC is not as known for men’s soccer like the Big South. 

Hampton and the rest of the teams are still finalizing where the tournament will be played. 

Those interested in joining the HU club team can contact Etter.