Tag Archives: Sports

Hampton University moving to the Big South Conference

Justin Whitner | Staff Writer

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Courtesy of the HU Office of University Relations

After more than two decades in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Hampton University will make the switch to the Big South Conference.

Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle Kallander and Hampton University Athletic Director Eugene Marshall made the announcement Nov. 16 in the Student Center Theater.

Kallander said that the vote to put Hampton Football in the Big South was a “unanimous decision.” The Big South sponsors 16 of the 17 sports in which Hampton University participates. This means that all sports — excluding the lacrosse team, which is independent — will make the change to the Big South. Hampton has been in the MEAC since 1995.

Marshall said there is the possibility that the Pirates won’t begin to play football in the Big South until the 2019 season. This means rivalries against schools such as Howard University and Norfolk State would continue for the next season, as well as games against other Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Many questions have arisen since the announcement. What will happen for the seasons beginning in 2019? Will Hampton football play strictly HBCUs in nonconference games?

Playing in a bigger conference will give Hampton athletics a chance to not just prove themselves, but also the athletic worth of all HBCUs.

According to ESPN’s The Undefeated, Hampton is the second HBCU at the Division I level not competing in a historically black league, the other one being Tennessee State.

“Our goal at Hampton is to be the best mid-sized university in the country, and I think that the Big South helps us to obtain that,” Marshall said.

Hampton alum Lysander Bracey thinks the decision to go from MEAC to the Big South will be a great move.

“We’re on a bigger stage now, and the competition gets better as well,” Bracey said. “I’m excited for the upcoming years in the Big South.”

The change to the Big South will likely mean a change in attendance. Will more or less Hampton students attend athletic events to cheer on the Pirates? This positive or negative change can only be determined with time.

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After a four-game skid, are the Chiefs in trouble?

Harrington Gardiner | Contributing Writer

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chiefs.com

Early in the season, the Kansas City Chiefs were considered by many to be a potential Super Bowl favorite and a threat to the always dominant New England Patriots in the AFC.

The superior play of Alex Smith at quarterback as well as the emergence of rookie running back Kareem Hunt caused many to believe that this team has what it takes to be a Super Bowl contender.

Lately, though, they’ve been inconsistent and have taken losses in their past games.

In the first five weeks, they looked to be the NFL’s hottest team, but now they are 6-6 and in a three-way tie with the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders atop the AFC West.

What happened with the Chiefs, and can they rebound to save their season?

With the talent on their roster, it’s definitely possible.

Kansas City started off with a 5-0 record and was the last remaining undefeated team in the league. Early in the season, the Chiefs suffered a huge loss, losing pro bowl safety Eric Berry to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Even with this loss, other Pro Bowl-caliber players on the roster have made an impact, including tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill.

The two men have been making plays all year.

However, the struggles for this team are a serious concern, especially since the Chiefs are competing for a playoff spot.

The inconsistencies on offense have resulted in failure to put enough points on the board. This has led them to question of whether or not Alex Smith should be benched for rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

While it’s unlikely that Smith will be benched this late in the season, it’s important for the Chiefs to figure out the solutions to their problems.

Otherwise, things could get even uglier in the final weeks of the season.

Kansas City’s offense this season has been dangerous at times. Unfortunately for them, their issues lie on the opposite side of the ball.

The defense, which looked legit the first few games of the season, currently sits in the bottom half of the league.

Having a subpar defense this late in the season heading toward postseason play is a huge red flag.

The Chiefs may no longer be a Super Bowl contending team, but it’s not too late for them to save their season.

They can still rebound from their inconsistencies with the remaining games that they have on their schedule.

Andy Reid and his coaching staff will be put to the test late in the season. It’s time to see if this Kansas City team is the real deal or just all hype.

The Chiefs must remember this: It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.

Grizzlies say goodbye to Fizzle

Justin Norris | Staff Writer

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espn.com

The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach David Fizdale after just 19 games into the 2017-2018 season. He coached the Grizzlies to a playoff berth in his first season as a head coach and was in the second year of a four-year, $10.2 million contract.

This season, under Fizdale, the team was in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and had lost 11 of their past 13. The Grizzlies’ firing of Fizdale came on the heels of him benching star center Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter of a 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

The decision to get rid of the coach has become extremely controversial, and many around the NBA have spoken out in support of Fizdale.

LeBron James, who played for Fizdale while he was an assistant coach in Miami, tweeted, “I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy.”

That sentiment has been echoed by other players and media. On First Take, Stephen A. Smith called the Grizzlies’ decision “a bogus firing. There’s no excuse for it, and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Fizdale’s tenure in Memphis was plagued by various injuries to key rotation players. Franchise point guard Mike Conley has missed the team’s past seven games this season, which obviously coincides with their losing streak.

Small forward Chandler Parsons, who agreed to a four-year, $94 million contract before the start of last season, has been frequently injured since signing with the team. Due to Parsons’ inability to stay on the floor, his contract has been viewed as an albatross for the team.

The Grizzlies were also notorious for using their slow-paced, “Grit and Grind” style of play, while the majority of the NBA embraced a more up-tempo style that emphasized positionless basketball and 3-pointers. The aging roster Fizdale was in charge of was ill-equipped to adapt to the modern NBA due to the dearth of talent at his disposal.

It appears that Fizdale’s rocky relationship with Gasol played a significant role in his dismissal as well.

The Grizzlies’ front office has a track record for firing successful coaches.

Since 2013, the organization has let go of Lionel Hollins, Dave Joerger and Fizdale. Hollins led the team to a 56-26 record and a Western Conference Finals appearance the year before he was let go. Joerger guided the team to three consecutive trips to the postseason.  Fizdale coached an aging roster to a competitive first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs last season.

J.B. Bickerstaff was named interim head coach. Whomever the Grizzlies name as their next head coach will be interesting, because regardless of accomplishments or achievements, the head coach of the Grizzlies seems to have little-to-no job security.

 

What’s wrong with the Cavs?

Justin Norris | Staff Writer

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Andres Kudacki | Associated Press

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers, three-time defending Eastern Conference champions, have gotten off to a lackluster 7-7 record to start the season.

So far, the Cavaliers have lost to supposedly inferior teams such as the Magic, Nets, Pelicans, Knicks, Pacers and Hawks.

It took a 57-point outburst, the second-most of LeBron James’ career, to avoid losing to the Wizards. This is the second-worst start to a season for James, with the worst coming in his rookie season.

Offseason acquisition Dwyane Wade told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, “Our first unit, we got to start off better.”

While Wade’s assertion is correct, there are multiple reasons explaining the Cavs’ struggles.

The Cavs are working in several new players to their rotation after trading Kyrie Irving in the summer, and there is always going to be an adjustment period when incorporating so many new players.

To make matters worse, All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas will not return from his hip injury until January.

The Cavs also simply are not making shots: they are making three fewer 3-pointers per game compared to last season.

Cleveland has been wildly inconsistent. The Cavs are averaging 118 points per game in wins and only 103 in losses, while their 3 point field goal percentage is 10 points higher in wins than in losses.

Perhaps the biggest cause of Cleveland’s struggles stems from their lackadaisical defensive play.

The Cavs rank dead last in defensive efficiency.

Their defense was poor last year, but their offense was dynamic enough that it covered up how porous their defense was.

This season, their offense has slipped slightly, and their defense has remained lousy, so the high-scoring games that they would have won last year are losses this year.

A bigger problem is that many of the players they’ve acquired are aging, injury-prone veterans who do not shoot well, which means that they are not a great fix next to James.

While many presume that the Cavs are just coasting until the playoffs, the one troubling aspect is that James’ scoring and rebounding numbers are up, so it is clear he is not mailing in the games so far.

This is the last season before James becomes a free agent.

The Cavaliers’ management must be worried about their slow start and what impact it might have on James’ free-agent decision.

James has made it clear that he will go to whatever team gives him the best chance to win championships.

He has left Cleveland once before, and after fulfilling his promise of delivering a championship to Cleveland, he has every right to leave again.

Have the Colts wasted all their luck in Andrew Luck’s career?

William Ricks | Contributing Writer

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Mark Zalesky | Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts have had their share of QB drama this season.

Andrew Luck hasn’t played a down and the Colts have felt the impact of his absence, having a 3-6 record at this point in the season.

Luck’s rehab from offseason shoulder surgery has taken longer than the Colts would’ve hoped.

He was shut down from throwing a few weeks ago and received a cortisone shot.

This week, Luck was placed on IR by the Colts, ending his season before it even started.

Has the former Stanford quarterback’s career been mismanaged?

The Colts had early success with Luck. He lead them to three straight 11-5 seasons, and even an AFC championship game.

He was so good in fact, that he was able to disguise the Colts’ issues. The biggest problem was the offensive line. Brutal hits have plagued the rising star throughout his career. He has never had a stable o-line around him, which led to defenses being able to get immediate pressure on him.

In the 2015 season, Luck missed nine games due to the same shoulder injury he has currently.

Instead of sitting him out during last year’s season, his team gave him painkillers. This allowed Luck to be a tackling dummy, as he stood in the pocket behind a poor excuse of an offensive line.

It was no surprise that Luck needed shoulder surgery after playing through that kind of injury for two years.

The Colts’ lack of managing Luck’s injury better has caused them to throw away the 2017 season.

The organization had time to put pieces around Luck, as he was on a rookie contract until he signed a six-year $140 million contract in 2016.

Unfortunately for them, they didn’t take any steps to signing any impact players on the o-line or defense.

Now the Colts lack the cap space to sign any high-quality players.

This could be blamed on their former general manager Ryan Grigson, who made many questionable decisions during his time in Indianapolis.

Luck is 28 years old, so he still has many prime years left as a quarterback.

When he is healthy, he can tear apart a defense, throwing 132 touchdowns in his first five seasons.

The Colts haven’t wasted Luck’s career yet. The problems the Colts have on the offensive line, as well as the defensive side of the ball are so big, even Luck can’t cover them up like he did his first three seasons.

If the Colts don’t want to waste Andrew Luck’s career, they need to take this upcoming offseason to sign impact players on defense and solidify their offensive line.

Luck should be ready for the start of the 2018 season, and if he has the necessary pieces around him, his career will be reignited.

Get in the Game: Sports industry experts visit HU

Amber Smith | Staff Writer

Getinthegame

Hampton University

Experts came and shared valuable insight on the ins and outs of the sports industry with Hampton University students during a panel discussion in Scripps Howard Auditorium last week.

On November 8th, panelists Kelli Webb, publicist and founder of the KBD group, Aaron Rouse, former NFL safety, Carl Francis, NFLPA Director of Communications, and Tony Brothers, NBA referee all graced Scripps with an open forum.

Scripps professor, April Woodard and students from her JAC 320 class hosted the event and had the opportunity to ask panelists current event questions.

Panelists were each interviewed individually then as a panel.

Questions were raised as to how to react in a crisis, respond to social issues, and remain professional when dealing with celebrity clients.

Many of the experts also gave advice on how to prosper in the industry.

“In cases where clients do feel the need to speak up it is our job to help them harness the power of their platform and tweak their messaging so that it is presented in a way that it is intended to be,” said Webb.

Students were interested in how the panelists responded to the recent movement with athletes kneeling during the national anthem and the controversy surrounding the issue, while remaining professional.

“If I was still in the NFL I would’ve definitely taken a knee, regardless how you feel about Colin Kaepernick,” said former NFL safety Carl Francis.

“It is important for us to really come together as a Black community and show unity.”

Panelists also discussed a major aspect of the sports industry: the power of social media as a positive and negative tool.

Brothers provided a first-hand account of social media’s impact when talking about the death threats he received via social media after officiating a big game.

“After I called a play at a game I received a death threat from someone and the police had to stay with me for a couple hours after the game to be sure nothing was going to come about from that threat,” NBA referee, Tony Brothers said.

The sports industry may not always be all fun and games but many of the panelists insist that working hard and making the right contacts while using your resources is the ultimate key to succeed in this business.

MEAC battle at HU against NC Central

Harrington Gardiner | Contributing Writer

Hampton - FAMU Football Game

Yankee Johnson (#2) | Courtesy of Glenn Knight

After a three-point loss to Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla., the Pirates face their toughest test of the season this upcoming weekend against North Carolina Central.

Central is coming off an impressive 42-14 homecoming win against Delaware State, and now the Eagles will come to town sitting a game above the Pirates with a 6-2 record. The Pirates, however, are sitting at 5-3 with a 4-1 record in MEAC play and must now put Saturday’s loss to the side to focus on this much-anticipated matchup.

Prior to this past Saturday’s game, Hampton coaches acknowledged the importance of the inter-conference battle against NC Central. However, like any team, they were focused on the task ahead: to handle Bethune-Cookman on the road.

Pirates defensive coordinator Kevin Ketchum stressed the importance of focusing on the task ahead.

“We know Central is very good; they’ve lost one game in this last three years in the league, and that was last week to Norfolk State,” Ketchum said. “Do we have a game plan? No. We have our plan of how to practice, and you don’t change that.”

Ketchum also discussed the Pirates’ 5-2 record and the landscape for the rest of the season in MEAC play.

“So far, 5-2 has been successful, but there’s four left,” he said. “Now, with four left, that can go 9-2, or that can go 5-6. I don’t see anything that would lead me to believe that any of the last four are going to be easy.”

Injuries are another factor that could decimate a football team, and they have impacted some games already. Ketchum addressed that by saying, “You’re deep into the season, so try to get some kids who are hurt back onto the field so that you have a full complement of players to be ready for Saturday.”

The Pirates fell just short on Saturday afternoon against Bethune-Cookman. They had 125 yards rushing along with one rushing touchdown and a 6.8 passing average per attempt. Hampton also had two passing touchdowns, both of which were thrown by quarterback Delmon Williams to wide receiver Ronald Bell. Bell had 119 all-purpose yards, 79 of which were receiving.

This game had been controlled by Bethune-Cookman for the first half, but after halftime, Hampton came back to take a lead late in the third quarter. Even after the Pirates took a 21-17 lead, the Eagles scored late in the fourth quarter with a 7-yard touchdown pass by wide receiver Jawill Davis, making it a 24-21 game.

In heartbreaking fashion, the Pirates were unable to tie the game toward the end, as kicker Adam Brown missed a 29-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

Hampton did struggle late in Saturday’s game, but with time to regroup, the Pirates should be ready to play arguably their most important game of the season. NC Central, however, has plenty of momentum heading into this Saturday after a dominating performance against Delaware State. With that being said, they’ll be confident in trying to gain MEAC supremacy over Hampton.

The Pirates will look to secure a win to stay on track of what already seems to be a promising year so far.

It’s “Ball” season

Justin Whitner | Staff Writer

It seems as if the No. 2 draft pick from the 2017 class has a target on his back.

On the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening night, the Houston Rockets’ Patrick Beverley made it clear that it was going to be a long season for Lonzo Ball. In his debut, Ball ended up struggling. He never found a true comfort zone on the floor, and this is likely due to the defensive play of Beverley. The Rockets guard gave Ball trouble throughout the whole game. Beverly gave the rookie a few pushes and hard fouls while chasing him down the floor. Ball ended up bouncing back the very next night in an away matchup vs. the Suns. He finished with 29 points and was one assist away from a triple double.

It’s nearly impossible to discuss Lonzo Ball without mentioning his father. Love him or hate him, LaVar Ball does his best impression of speaking things into existence. He spoke Lonzo Ball playing for the Lakers into reality. The head of the Ball family made a new case that was proven on the night of Oct. 25.

“Wizards better beware,” LaVar Ball said. “Lonzo doesn’t lose twice in a week.”

Sure enough, the Lakers went on to beat the then-undefeated Washington Wizards in a late night overtime game.

“It’s a team game,” LaVar Ball said. “That’s how you’re going to beat someone. If you go one-on-one, you’re never going to win. If you keep taking it personal, trying to go one-on-one with my son, you’re going to lose every time.”

John Wall vs. Lonzo Ball was a hyped matchup for many reasons. For one, it was a matchup between a top-tier guard in the league and a 19-year-old pass-first point guard. Wall, who some say is the best defensive point guard in the league, struggled to find rhythm late in the game. His questionable shot-taking plagued the Wizards as the game went on.

The Wizards are hoping to reach a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Lakers would be ecstatic if they even reached the playoffs this season.

If the Lakers make the playoffs, it would be the first time since the season Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles in 2013.

So far this season, all games have proven one thing about Lonzo Ball: He will never focus on attacking the opposition one-on-one. Ball plays the game as a team sport and finds joy in making his teammates better players. The points don’t matter in Ball’s eyes, as long as his team is improving every week.

It will be interesting to see what Ball brings to the court for basketball fans the rest of the season.

 

Buckeyes shake the football playoff positioning

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Contributing Writer

A fierce showdown between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions on Oct. 28 shook the football landscape.

The excitement for the heated rivalry game only grew due to the teams’ rankings in the top 10, with Penn State at No. 2 and Ohio State at No. 6. To add on to the already high stakes, both teams are aiming for the national championship playoffs that only allow the top four teams in the nation to participate.

Penn State started off the game strong. Heisman Award front-runner Saquon Barkley was as good as advertised; he returned the opening game kickoff for 97 yards to start the game off 7-0. Shortly after, a fumble by the Buckeyes was recovered by Penn State linebacker Koa Farmer. This put the Nittany Lions in the position to eventually score again, making the game 14-3 in only the first quarter. With Penn State scoring so effortlessly, Ohio State found itself in a big hole, a hole so big that it made the highly anticipated game look like it was going to be a blowout.

After a slow start, Ohio State rallied together to make the game competitive. Ohio State finally got into the end zone twice in the second quarter with a 2-yard run from Mike Weber and a touchdown pass from star QB J.T. Barrett. A productive second quarter from the Buckeyes put them in striking range at the half, with the score 28-17.

The Buckeyes still hadn’t improved after halftime, only kicking a field goal and getting stopped on multiple drives. They ended the third quarter with the score 35-20, but the Buckeyes found motivation after a controversial call. A pass that caused two players to wrestle for the ball appeared to be an Ohio State interception, but it was overruled by officials and credited as a Penn State touchdown.

Usually, this would be a deflating momentum shift, but Barrett played the game of his life. He connected with Johnnie Dixon twice in the fourth quarter, first on a 41-yard touchdown at the 11-minute mark and then on a 10-yard score with 4:20 remaining. Later on, Barrett gave Ohio State the lead with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh. Overall, in the fourth quarter, Ohio State outscored Penn State 19-3.

Barrett finished with 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ran for 95 yards. Barrett was 13 for 13 passing for 170 yards in the fourth quarter. OSU propelled itself into the national championship conversation.

Hampton track runner Sissy Farmer, sister of a Penn State linebacker, had this to say about the playoff implications of the loss for Penn State: “I think the game Saturday affects the conference and the national playoffs. But I do believe that there’s [still] a chance for PSU.”

 

Beckham’s ankle and Giant contract hopes are fractured

Randall Williams | Sports Editor

The Giants and NFL fans have suffered a gigantic loss.

New York Giants superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was declared out for the rest of the season after breaking his left ankle on Oct. 8, according to The Associated Press.

In Week 5, Beckham went down in an awkward position as he was hit by a defender. Immediately after, he laid on the field grimacing in pain. Tears streamed down his face when his helmet was removed. Beckham was then carted off the field.

At that point, the Giants’ season was a complete disaster. Analysts and fans alike both thought that coming into the year, the sky was the limit for New York. Then the Giants started 0-5. To make matters worse, they also lost their three top receivers.

Many fans have given up hope and merely want this football season to fly by so that they can restart in the next one. For Beckham, though, something else is going to loom in the air for a while: his contract. In the off-season, Beckham stated that he would like to be the NFL’s highest-paid player. Currently, the person who holds that title is Matthew Stafford, who recently signed a five-year, $135 million deal.

OBJ is one of the NFL’s most recognizable stars. Whether it be his amazing one-handed catches, his flashy hair or flamboyant celebrations, fans love him. Beckham told Uninterrupted.com that the reason he should be the NFL’s highest-paid player is because he puts his “heart, soul, body, mind, spirit … everything” into this game. No one can question his passion. Beckham has broken almost every three-year receiving record in the league. It’s undeniable that the talent is there, too.

However, Beckham isn’t without his faults.

He came up short in the biggest game of his career during a 38-13 playoff loss to the Packers in January. He had three drops, and one would have been a touchdown.

That’s not all, though. OBJ’s passion can sometimes result in anger. The world has watched him get multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, rage on the sidelines and even slam his head against walls in the locker room after losses.

Beckham is compared the most to Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. Brown, who is the league’s highest-paid receiver, is making $68 million over four years. Jones rakes in $71 million over five years.

So how much is Beckham worth?

The quarterback is normally the highest-paid position in football, but at least one defensive foe sides with OBJ. And not just any random player – Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL.

“The type of impact he has on the globe, the type of viewers he brings in … he’s a once in a lifetime player,” Miller told NFL reporters.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith disagreed.

“At the wide receiver position, no matter how great you are, there’s a potential to be neutralized,” Smith said on air. “And when that potential exists, you can’t be the highest-paid player in the game.”

Opinions about Beckham vary.

“There are plenty of other players that have a bigger impact than him,” Hampton sophomore Juwan Williams said. “He’s also not the best at the position.”

The Giants likely will discuss a contract extension once the season concludes. With Beckham’s fractured ankle, though, the team could be hesitant to give him the pay increase he wants.

There is a sufficient amount of time before meetings between OBJ and his team begin. With no playoff wins, an iffy ankle and Beckham not playing the quarterback position, the future of his contract remains up in the air.