September 16

Beat writers split on Syracuse-Virginia Tech outcome

first_imgSyracuse’s return to Atlantic Coast Conference play started with a loss to Notre Dame. After a late layup and two free throws, a Joe Girard 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left wasn’t enough to erase the deficit. When Virginia Tech (10-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) comes to the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., SU (8-6, 1-2) looks to avoid a two-game losing streak.Here’s what our beat writers think will happen when the Orange face the Hokies.Nick Alvarez (12-2)HokeyVirginia Tech 77, Syracuse 68 Syracuse’s matchup against Notre Dame served as a preview for what SU can expect Tuesday night against Virginia Tech. The Fighting Irish relied on 15 3s and key interior play down the stretch. While the Hokies don’t have a John Mooney, they do have the best 3-point shooting team in the ACC (37.9%). Virginia Tech is also coming off its worst shooting performance of the season against Virginia (4-of-25) and I doubt they go cold for a second-straight outing. The Orange can always shoot their way back into a game, but their defense will be the deciding factor. It’ll start with stopping Landers Nolley II (43% from 3) and end with limiting the Hokies’ five other competent shooters. In the end, though, SU’s 2-3 zone will crack, fatigue will play a factor and Virginia Tech will pull away.  Michael McCleary (10-4)Do the Hokey Pokey and you…Syracuse 83, Virginia Tech 80AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOh, there will be tacos, alright. This will be a high-scoring game. Why? Three-point shooting battles usually are. That’s exactly what this game will be. Right now the Hokies are about 40 spots above the Orange in the NET Rankings. This is exactly the type of game the Orange need to win to revive their postseason hopes. The Notre Dame close finish showed that the Orange are on the brink of competing with fringe-ACC squads, and despite a ranking that says otherwise, I think Virginia Tech offers the Orange another shot at one. There’s a chance the Hokies don’t move the ball well enough or take enough chances to pace the Orange’s high-octane approach. Though it might be close, I’m thinking this close game falls to the way of the Orange. And if I’m right, it inches me closer to a victory in these predictions too.Josh Schafer (11-3)Turkey Day > Orange DayVirginia Tech 82 Syracuse 76The Hokies not only shoot the 3-pointer well (25th in the country) but also score 43% of their points from beyond the arc. In other words Virginia Tech is ready to shoot from one of the areas open in the 2-3 zone and that likely won’t bode well for Syracuse. On the flip side, the Hokies also allow a fair amount of 3-point shots and that could help Syracuse as well if the shots are falling. I’d expect this to be somewhat of similar matchup to Syracuse-Notre Dame only the Hokies don’t have John Mooney. So if Syracuse can score like they did on Saturday against the Fighting Irish, it’ll be close but we haven’t seen the Orange close out a tight game against a high-major opponent yet. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 7, 2020 at 4:52 pmlast_img read more

August 26

The Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year: Yasiel Puig is the real deal

first_imgFrom ability to personality, from marketability to connectivity with kids young and old, the Cuban defector showed his “it” factor, no matter what language you or manager Don Mattingly tried to use in explaining “it” to him.“Maybe he’s a little misunderstood, where people look at him as if he’s this or that, but honestly, he’s a great kid and he just wants to succeed,” said Lon Rosen, the Dodgers’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer and still a driving force in Magic Johnson’s global business ventures, capitalizing on his qualities beyond the basketball court. “His passion and love of the game, and how much he loves the fans, is all there. Maybe he’s emotional at times, but he’s got an infectious personality. You see the things he’s been doing with Little Leaguers lately, bringing them to the stadium just to play. That’s him, what he does all on his own, even flying back from Miami. And when he’s back home, he’s sending us Instagrams all the time to show us his workouts.”Perhaps Puig feels he has more to prove. After all, he wasn’t even named the National League’s Rookie of the Year, receiving only four of the 30 first-place votes cast. Strictly by the numbers, his .319 batting average with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs were very, very nice. Especially for someone was called up in June when the Dodgers were last in the NL West (23-32, 7 ½ games out of first) and needed a quick fix when Matt Kemp went out injured.But the other important numbers to factor: The Dodgers were 66-38 in the 104 games Puig took part in, finishing 11 games up on Arizona.For what Puig provided in things that can be documented, deliberated and debated with some disbelief — can’t you just hit the cutoff man once? — the decision was easy in making him our Sportsperson of the Year.“I’m happy and proud to hear about this,” Puig said from Miami on Friday night. “I am happy that the fans of L.A. have supported me all the time, and supported the team, and I hope they do the same next year. Thank you to the fans and I will do the best I can for all of them next season.”Others in the conversation?USC athletic director Pat Haden decided to fire, then hire, a new head coach for football (Steve Sarkisian, replacing Ed Orgeron, who was promoted to replace Lane Kiffin) and basketball (Andy Enfield, to replace Bob Cantu, who replaced Kevin O’Neill). Orgeron, too, had to be considered for how he endeared himself to Trojans fans, players and parents during his September-to-November run. UCLA had three candidates — head coach Jim Mora, having coerced a six-year extension and facility upgrades; sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley (2,845 yards and 22 touchdowns passing and 587 yards and 9 TDs running) and Pac-12 offensive and defensive freshman of the year Myles Jack.Dwight Howard and his ongoing decision to stay or go after the Lakers scrambled to make the 2013 playoffs without an injured Kobe Bryant provided plenty of drama. As did passing the team’s ownership torch from the late Dr. Jerry Buss to son Jimmy Buss.The Clippers’ choice of Doc Rivers as its new head coach was inspired, providing a huge assist to point guard Chris Paul. The Angels’ Mike Trout, a runner-up again for the AL MVP, was a repeat on the radar. So was UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, the Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers (the first openly gay athlete in U.S. male team sports) and Landon Donovan, plus Candace Parker, the Sparks’ WNBA MVP.As for the Dodgers, Puig’s teammate, Clayton Kershaw, who captured the NL Cy Young Award, is up on the list. So is broadcaster Vin Scully, who finished his 64th season calling games and will be the grand marshall at the Rose Parade.But when all the lists are collated, Puig is the one best plugged in.The Dodgers had already signed the free agent to a head-scratching seven-year, $42 million deal before any of its fans laid eyes on him. Puig didn’t arrive at Dodger Stadium from Double-A Chattanooga until June 3. He went 2-for-4 in his debut and threw out a runner at first base on a double play to end a 2-1 win over San Diego. Put his locker over there near Adrian Gonzalez, and maybe start printing the No. 66 jerseys.He hit a pair of homers in his second game. He hit a grand slam in his fourth game. Start thinking bobbleheads, and get him a translator ASAP.In his ninth game, he was hit in the face by a pitch from Arizona’s Ian Kennedy, a defining moment in the season as his teammates came to his defense — even though Puig was eventually ejected after a brawl erupted in the seventh inning.He finished June hitting .436, with 44 hits ranking second behind DiMaggio for someone in his first month in the big leagues. Start thinking of an online campaign to get him considered for an NL All-Star roster spot.Puig’s untamed talents went to the extremes of nearly colliding with teammates going after the same fly ball, or being removed from a game by Mattingly once or twice to calm him down and hope a lesson was learned.Was there a “right way” to play the game? Puig’s way was enough to spark debate everywhere.Eventually, the brilliance and bafflement of Puig’s talents were on full display as the Dodgers charged into the NL Championship Series. He struck out four straight times in a 1-0 Game 2 loss in St. Louis. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI in each of Games 3 and 4. And in the 9-0 loss that ended the series in Game 6, Puig made a couple of unwise throws that led to Cardinals’ runs, even causing Vin Scully to scold him for “thoughtless” decisions.“It’s been our battle,” Mattingly said of Puig during an in-game TV interview. “He’s always trying to make plays. We’re trying to teach. I don’t know how else to say it.”Once the Dodgers’ season ended, it’s as if Puig didn’t want to leave L.A.He tagged along with Rosen and Dodgers president Stan Kasten to the Lakers-Clippers season opener in late October and immediately made known his loyalty.Puig noticed a Clippers fan who kept parading loudly behind his row of seats. By the third quarter, Puig waved him over and offered to sign his hat.Puig not only wrote his name, but included: “Go Lakers.” Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ chief of the business operations, said she was aware of Puig back in March when Phil Jackson, the former Lakers coach and her fiancee, told her about Puig’s remarkable athletic ability after seeing him at the Dodgers’ Arizona spring training camp.“I didn’t think much about it until they called Puig up and he set things on fire,” said Buss. “I made a point to tune into every Dodger game to see if the kid was for real. Watching the fans react to him was, for me, the most intriguing aspect. They were falling in love with him.”As Puig has got to know Lakers such as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, he’s been seeking advice and joining them at charity events and hospital visits that didn’t always get publicized.“Since I have gotten to know him, I have seen him interact with kids, fans, everyone, and he is sincere in his enthusiasm and is warm and friendly,” said Buss. “He knows how to make people smile — even with a language barrier. “Sometime I feel like Lucy Ricardo trying to understand Ricky when he’s speaking Spanish, but we have a lot of fun trying to make each other understand what we are trying to say. We often text each other and rely on emoticons — mostly basketball and baseballs and purple-and-gold stars — to get the message across.“I hope he keeps that joy and passion for life because it’s contagious for anyone around him. In my life I have only known one other athlete that could light up a crowd with just his smile — Magic Johnson.”Puig’s social media activity also lights up the Internet. It can’t be much longer before he gets some tutoring from people like Johnson on how to cash in on their cross-over momentum.Meanwhile, Barry Goldberg, who’s runs on online store called “Barry’s World” selling what he calls “wacky, surreal and wholly unique gifts,” designed a graphic awhile back inspired from the children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web.”As the story goes, Charlotte the spider was trying to raise attention for her barnyard friend, Wilbur the pig. She spun a message in her web that said “Some Pig.”Then Puig-mania exploded.Goldberg’s graphic was soon recirculated as cleverly “Some Puig.” Except Goldberg didn’t know about it until it was recently pointed out to him.“It looks like somebody took original and altered it to add an extra letter,” the New Jersey businessman said in an email. “To be honest, I’ve never even hear of Mr. Puig.”Add that to the list of things you didn’t think were possible involving Yasiel Puig.Previous winners of our Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year award:2012: Dodgers ownership team of Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson2011: AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke2010: New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush2009: Thousand Oaks teenage sailors Zac and Abby Sunderland2008: Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez2007: Galaxy midfielder David Beckham2006: Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti2005: USC running back Reggie Bush and USC quarterback Matt Leinart LOS ANGELES >> In the GQ “Men of the Year Issue,” features on Pope Francis, Will Ferrell, Chris Christie, Justin Timberlake, Kendrick Lamar and James Gandolfini are included based on the impact they had in 2013.There’s also a full page devoted to Yasiel Puig, the “Phenom of the Year.”On KPCC-FM’s website offering listeners a chance to pick the “Most Influential Californian” for this past year, the choices range from Tesla and SpaceX creator Elon Musk to governor Jerry Brown, SnapChat founders Evan Spegel and Robert Murphy to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.You can click on Yasiel Puig, too. Professional Sports Authenticator, the world’s largest sports card service that determines value of products for collectors, issued a list recently of the “most dangerous” autographs to look out for based on excessive forgery. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Michael Jordan are victimized most.And then there’s Yasiel Puig, the only active athlete mentioned.The Dodgers’ unapologetically unpolished outfielder who turned 23 earlier this month doesn’t have to sign off on being named our 2013 Los Angeles Sportsperson of the Year. It seems as natural a choice as his people-pleasing ability to nail a runner at third base from a throw on the fly from right field, punctuate an extra-inning, game-winning home run by sliding into home plate or flipping his bat aside as he drives a ball to deep right field, only to then have to leg it into a triple when the ball doesn’t clear the wall. Oh, and that was in a playoff game.Puig spectacularly defines what goes into picking out L.A. Sports Person — someone, or some group, who generated the most news in Southern California this last year, good, bad or “wild horse”-crazy. He was it, all rolled into one.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more