What We Need to Know for the Warriors Stretch Run By Ryan Malley

The home stretch of the NBA’s regular season is coming and the Golden State Warriors have found themselves in a very familiar position atop the Western Conference standings. However, their position in the standings may be the only familiar aspect for the 2017 Warriors and their fans.

After setting the NBA record with 73 regular-season wins last season and the addition of NBA superstar Kevin Durant, the Warriors were expected to roll through the regular season. Despite a 29-point opening season loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Warriors were living up to their lofty expectations. From October through January, the Warriors had not lost more than two games in one month. The Warriors were on their way to doing the same in February, but everything changed two minutes into their last game of the month.

On February 28th, the Warriors were playing the Wizards in Washington D.C. The hype going into this game was big. The Wizards had drastically improved this season and are likely to have a top four seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Washington D.C. is also the childhood home for Kevin Durant. Durant did not consider the Wizards during free agency last summer and the Wizard fans were ready to voice their displeasure.

With a little over two minutes into the first quarter, Wizards Center Marcin Gortat was fighting for position with Warriors Center Zaza Pachulia. Pachulia was thrown to the ground and fell into Durant’s left knee. The result was a grade-2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise, and Durant has been not played since.

Many Warrior fans were upset and were calling Gortat’s play “Dirty” for chucking Pachulia to the ground. However Warriors General Manager Bob Meyers disagreed.

“I don’t think anything untoward. My thought- and I think I speak for the organization- is I don’t think anything untoward occurred. These things happen in sports.”

The Warriors went on to lose the game in Washington. Then they lost their next game in Chicago, which became the first time that the Warriors had lost back-to-back NBA regular season games in almost three years. The Warriors would win their next two games in a somewhat sloppy fashion but then in a four-day span, lost three games in a row to Boston, Minnesota, and San Antonio.

A degree of panic had set in the Bay Area. Fearing that his stars had become worn out, Head Coach Steve Kerr rested Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguadola against San Antonio.

“The Warriors were not looking good and I was getting worried about how this team was going to play out the rest of the season,” said NDNU Basketball starting center Korey Serna. “Thankfully they have been playing better lately and Kevin Durant should be coming back soon.”

The Warriors have been playing better lately. After losing three games in a row, the Warriors found themselves down by 17 to the lowly 76ers. They made a furious 4thquarter comeback and have won eight games in a row. To make matters even better, CSN Bay Area has posted a video of Kevin Durant working out before the Houston Rockets game on March 28th. The Warriors Public Relations Office updated his recovery on March 29th.

“Kevin has made very good progress since suffering the injury four weeks ago in Washington. He has not experienced any setbacks to date and has progressed as well as could be expected.”

After a month of uncertainty, it seems that the Warriors have found their groove once again. With 8 games remaining in the regular season, the Warriors are in first place in the Western Conference and it appears that Kevin Durant will be on the court when the playoffs come.  It seems that the Warriors are coming together at exactly the right time.

Predictions for the 2017 San Francisco Giants by John Schrup

For Giants fans last year marked the end to the “even year magic.” The Giants were world Champions in 2010, 2012, and 2014 leading to the belief that Giants were destined for greatness on even years. This belief gave fans hope during the 2011, 2013 and 2015 seasons when they feel short of winning the World Series.

“After the 2014 championship win and then getting knocked out in the 2015 season, I truly believed that the Giants would win again in 2016.” said freshman Jack Shales.

The beginning of the 2017 season marks the beginning of a new era for Giants fan. There’s no longer the connotation that if the Giants loose in the odd year they would automatically win the next season in the event year. Although this theory can be seen as a mere coincidence, many Giants fan believed in and gave them hope.

The Giants are under more pressure than they have been in the last five years because the even year magic theory is dead. They no longer have the luxury of using the odd year as a rebuilding blanket for the even year season, the fans want another World Series championship and they want it now.

The Giants have brought in new pieces to put themselves in a position to make a run for the championship this season. They have addressed their very important need for reliever. During the final game of the playoffs last year, Giants manager pulled starting pitcher Justin Moore and handed the ball to the Giants bullpen to hold on to the three run lead going into the 9th inning.

“I remember watching the game with my dad and watching Reliever Castillo come in and we looked at each other and said it’s over. He’d been struggling all season and our other guys in the bullpen have had little success as well”, said senior Anthony Richardson.

The Giants addressed the issue in the off season by bringing in three-time All-Star Mark Melancon. Melancon comes to San Francisco with a career 2.60 ERA and 1.036 WHIP, and coming in with the most saves over the last two seasons combined.

“I thought the major issue the Giants had last season was consistent power in the batting lineup”, said senior Sean Walsh.

The Giants have addressed this issue by picking up young slugger Mac Williamson. Williamson has proven that he has a ton of power, hitting six home runs, in a 25 game span between June and July last season.

The Giants were inconsistent when it came to who was in what spot for the starting pitchers. After a stellar season from late season acquisition Matt Moore, the Giants have a locked in the one two and three spots in their lineup for starting pitchers. Madison Bumbgarner, Johnny Cueto and Moore all received CY Young votes in the 2016 season.

The Giants have addressed many of the issues they had last season. As a top team last year with many holes in their lineup, the fact that the Giants have went out an acquired pieces to strengthen their weakness puts them in conversation to be a contender to win the championship next season. You can get your first look at the potential of the 2017-2018 Giants on opening day April 2nd. Will this be the year to start the beginning of the odd year magic?

Why your bracket was doomed from the start by Andrew English

It’s the Final Four for March Madness and many carefully predicted brackets have been crumbled, ripped, and burned in this unpredictable tournament.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, North Carolina Tar Heels, Oregon Ducks, and the South Carolina Gamecocks have made it into the final four of NCAA tournament. Least to say it’s been a very unpredictable turn of events for two of these four teams to even get this far in tournament. The only two teams that the majority picked to make it this far in the tournament are Gonzaga and North Carolina are the number one seed in both of their respected regions. Oregon is the number three seed in the Midwest were predicted to make it far but still, no one thought they would make it to the final four especially with their dominating win over number one seed Kansas. However, the underdog team of this tournament is the number seven seed of the Eastern region South Carolina. No one, except their diehard fans, saw them beating number two seed Duke and advancing to the final four in the tournament.

During this tournament, a majority of the March Madness fans brackets are completely destroyed due to teams like last year’s championship Villanova in this first round and Kentucky who expected to upset North Carolina in the Southern region. Former President Barack Obama even made his own March madness bracket. In Obama’s bracket he has Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, and Arizona making it to the final four. And in the final he has Duke Vs North Carolina with the Tar Heels winning the tournament overall. The only team that Obama picked that still in the tournament is North Carolina, therefore he will need North Carolina to win the whole tournament for his bracket to stand a chance. Many believe the reason he is picking the Tar Heels to win is because back in 2009, Obama correctly predicted the University of North Carolina would take home the crown.

Here at NDNU, many brackets have the same or even worse outcomes than the former president’s. “Obama had the right idea with North Carolina, but his other choices were terrible.” Said senior Mike Karimu, after being shown the bracket that the former president made. He continued, “My bracket is still good because I predicted Gonzaga and North Carolina to make it this far. Hopefully they make it to the championship.” “My bracket was ruined from the beginning, I threw it away”, said Ty Peacock a basketball player at NDNU.

Will Villanova repeat as National Champions? by John Schrup

March madness is one of the craziest times of the year for college basketball fans. Basketball enthusiasts from around the world dial in for three weeks of the most intense games in all of basketball. People take off work, watch from their offices and even schools play the games in their cafeteria. “At my high school, March madness was being played all throughout the day in the cafeteria,” said Sophomore Travis Roberts.

To say the least, March madness is a big deal and the champion of the tournament will forever be glorified in the college basketball world. March madness is known for airtight games that go down to the buzzer and huge upsets. Last year Villanova was the no.3 seed and in the discussion to contend for the championship. Although major contenders, Kansas and North Carolina were the favorites to win the NCAA National Championship. In an epic buzzer beater championship game, Villanova when on to beat North Carolina making them the 2015-2016 NCAA basketball Champions.

Similar to last year, the Villanova Wildcats are not the number one ranked team and this year their even one spot back from last year at the number four ranked team to win the Championship. Villanova has star power, shooting, size, the ability to play small and a fantastic coach. The loss of leaders and impact starters Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono leave a gap in the lineup and with their absence the question now becomes, can the Wildcats have the consistency in this year’s tournament to surpass the top three ranked teams in Duke, Kentucky and Kansas.

” Vegas has Duke with the highest odds at 7-1 to win the championship this year. . . I think they have three guys that are going to be drafted in the first round,” said Freshman Stephen Baity. With their tremendous talent and coaching lead by coach K, Duke has every possibility to become national champions. Villanova and Duke will face off in the elite and 8 assuming both will make it that far.

The second team that’s a major contender to Villanova is Kentucky. Kentucky is another team that is projected to produce three first round draft picks. With Kentucky’s youth, speed and athleticism they can hang with any team. Kentucky and Villanova would face off in the championship which would be an epic battle of experience versus youth.

The third team that could potentially get in the way of Villanova’s repeat is Kansas. Kansas is another team with multiple players projected to go in early in the NBA draft and have a ton of talent throughout the lineup. Kansas who went 29-2 in the regular season, would face off against Villanova in the National championship if they both make it that far.

The major difference between Villanova and the teams ranked in front of them is the confidence that the eight returning players have of being last year’s National Champions. “When you win a championship you have a chip on your shoulder and you have that confidence that you believe you can beat every team you play.” said Senior Joe Laherran. With Villanova’s depth in their bench play, Josh Hart one of the highest scorer in all of Division 1 basketball and Kris Jenkins the same guy who sank the game winning shot in last year’s championship, the Wildcats have the swagger and talent to potentially repeat as National Championship.

Another Disappointing Dunk Contest for 2017 by Andrew English

 Once upon a time the slam dunk was so new, so unexpected, and so original, that no one even knew how to describe it.

“Downward into the hoop, much like a cafeteria customer dunking a roll in coffee.” Was one way the New York Times described the shot as being pitched in 1936. In the decades that followed, the slam went from an object of confused wonder to a move reviled as tall-guy hackery. In 1967, the NCAA called it “not a skillful shot” and banned it from competition. The slam dunk is as American as apple pie, iced coffee, and moms. Eighty years on, it seemed as if the full human range of slam dunk motion had been fully explored. Windmills, Statue of Liberty dunks, free-throw-line takeoffs, 180s, 360s, reverses, double-clutches, through the legs, off the backboard, alley-oops. It had all been done again and again and again.

NBA all-star weekend took place this year in New Orleans from February 17-19. There a number of events that the event consist of however, the dunk contest is the main event for NBA All-star weekend. Nonetheless over the years it has become one of the most boring thing to watch due to lack of creativity, or so we thought. In last year’s 2016’s contest, Zach LaVine slipped the surly bonds of Earth to windmill on the face of God and Aaron Gordon CrossFit leg-lifted clear over Stuff the Magic Dragon, turning Air Canada Centre turned into a basketball fan mosh pit.

Many people were excited for the 2017 dunk contest with Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine both saying that they were going to be returning to the contest for a rematch. However, LaVine was injured a couple of weeks before All-star weekend and was unable to attend. “I had really high hopes that Zach LaVine was going to win the dunk contest this year, but since he got injured I though Aaron Gordon was going to win it by a long shot. I was sadly disappointed,” said John Victor Cruz a Senior at NDNU

The 2017 lineup for the dunk contest included Derrick Jones Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and Glenn Robinson III, and returning contender Aaron Gordon. “I thought that Derrick Jones Jr. or Aaron Gordon were going to have a battle in the final. But after all the missed dunk attempts I ended up just turning the channel”, said Gonzaga basketball player Brian Alberts. “I mean I love the dunk contest but there’s just no more creativity. Everything has already been done, that’s why when Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon were going crazy in last year’s dunk contest. It was like a breath of fresh air,” said Byron Davis, a former Azusa Pacific college basketball player and coach.

During night of the dunk contest students came into the St. John’s building lounge area to watch the event take place live. “Yeah a lot of people showed up to watch it in the lounge but after the second round of the dunk contest was over, half of the people left,” said Jay Sharma, a junior R.A. at NDNU. Before 2016, the competition had been in steady decline since Vince Carter’s revelatory Air Canada showcase in 2000. The flaws leading up to this year were easy to pick out; inconsistent performances, creative ambition out of proportion with actual ability, and the worst of all, crappy props. The 2017 dunk contest was a remake of these three things and a major fall off from 2016’s Godly dunk contest. If this keeps on going more people are going to tune out instead of tuning in to All-star weekend. Which could lead to less popularity amongst the NBA and its fans.

The Impact of Sporting Success on a College Campus By Ryan Malley

March Madness is here! For the next few weeks, college basketball will be at the center of the sporting world. While many expect the usual teams like Duke, Kentucky or Kansas to end up winning the whole thing, it is the small Cinderella teams that will steal hearts this spring.

What makes the NCAA Basketball tournament so exciting is that any team has that one opportunity when they can play like champions. Last year the 15 seed Middle Tennessee State defeated the National Player of the Year Denzel Valentine and number 2 seeded Michigan State. Over the last 20 games, 12 seeds have gone 10-10 against 5 seeds in the first round. The great upset is what warms hearts, but it does even more for the team that pulls off the upset.

For the regular giants of college athletics, money is thrown around like professional sporting leagues. The 14 team Big 10 Conference’s next TV deal is gong to be worth approximately $2.64 billion according to the Indianapolis Star. Money is not a problem at big time colleges. However the small ones have to earn theirs.

This year Gonzaga is the number 1 seed in the West Bracket of the NCAA Tournament. Many have heard about Gonzaga’s success as a basketball power but that was not always the case. In 1999, the 10th seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs made a Cinderella run of three NCAA tournament victories to advance to the Elite 8.  The small Jesuit school in Spokane Washington has been in every NCAA Tournament since.

A small school’s success athletically on a national stage can change their identity.

The freshman enrollment numbers at Gonzaga in 1997 were 569. In 2001 they were at a record 979. Gonzaga was able to raise $23 million in donations to build their new basketball arena in 2004 according to Ron Lieber of the Wall Street Journal.

Gonzaga is not the only school that has risen above thanks to national exposure from sports. In 1984, Boston College Quarterback Doug Flutie defeated the Miami Hurricanes on a last second Hail Mary pass. This famous win helped Flutie win the Heisman trophy, which goes to the Most Outstanding Player in College Football. In the two years after that season, the number of applications received by Boston College rose by 25%. The phenomena of a schools rise in national prominence and prestige has been coined “The Flutie Effect.”

The “Flutie Effect” continues to hold its own with recent examples from schools such as George Mason, Appalachian State, Boise State, Northern Iowa, Butler, Auburn, Oregon, Baylor, Virginia Commonwealth, Wichita State, Florida Gulf Coast, and Texas A&M. All of these schools have seen recent success in the NCAA tournament or in college football and the results have been higher application numbers.

So while you are enjoying the great games that are available in the NCAA Tournament, try to have en even bigger appreciation for the small schools. A win for Kansas and Duke in the first round is expected, but when 15 seed Middle Tennessee State beats Michigan State, the impact is incredible. In fact Middle Tennessee did it again as a 12 seed this year by defeating 5 seed Minnesota.

Notre Dame de Namur is still a division 2 school. Creating national prestige through athletics is far from conceivable at this point. However successful athletics programs can still bring pride to our local community and help create an exciting atmosphere on campus.

“There is no doubt that creating a greater buzz around our sports programs could could really create a buzz around NDNU’s campus” said senior Luis Ortiz.

The Greatness That Was the 2016 Sports Season by Ryan Malley

If you have been on social media over the past year, you have probably seen a post or two titled “2016 is the Worst Year Ever.” While there have been a list of things that may not have gone your way in 2016, this past sports year has given us plenty to be thankful for. 2016 was full of crazy comebacks and impact plays that will be cemented in our memories for years to come. Here are a few of the highlights that made this past sports year so great.

2016 NCAA Basketball Championship: Villanova Guard Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer beater 3 pointer to beat North Carolina 77-74. North Carolina guard Marcus Paige hit an incredible three as he double-clutched in mid-air to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left. With the game tied, Villanova’s senior point guard drove the length of the court before passing the ball to Kris Jenkins for the game winning 3.

2016 English Premiere League: Leicester City opened up with a 5,000-1 chance of winning the EPL and miraculously came through to win. NDNU student Luis Ortiz said, “What Leicester City did will never happen again. Compare it to an NBA D-League team winning the NBA Finals.”

2016 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Golden State Warriors after being down 3 games to 1 in a best of 7 series. This series still stings for the many Golden State Warriors fans in the Bay Area, but to discredit the greatness of this series would be unwise. For the first time in the NBA Finals, a team down 3 games to 1 had won 3 straight elimination games to win the championship. After Cleveland won games 5 and 6, game 7 in Oakland was an instant classic. Down the stretch Lebron James had an epic run down block on Warriors Forward Andre Iguodala’s lay up attempt. Then with 52 seconds left in the game Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving hit the go ahead 3 pointer to finish off the Warriors.

2016 World Series: Chicago Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. They were done 3 games to 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a best of 7 series. Game 7 was an epic back and forth game that saw the Cubs winning in extra innings by a score of 8-7.

2016 NCAA Football Championship: The Clemson Tigers defeated the previously unbeaten Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31. Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a two-yard game winning touchdown pass to receiver Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining in the game.

2017 Super Bowl: The Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3 on the New England Patriots. The Patriots made a historic comeback to create the first ever overtime in Super Bowl history with the score tied at 28. The Patriots went on to score a touchdown on the first drive in overtime to win 34-28. The previous record for a Super Bowl comeback was 10 points. With nine minutes left in the 4th quarter, ESPN gave the Atlanta Falcons a 99.6% chance of winning.

As for Bay Area fans, 2016 had its ups and downs. It was encouraging to see 4 out of our 6 major sports franchises make the playoffs. However it is still difficult to get over how the Warriors and Giants ended their playoff seasons by giving up huge leads. The Sharks went as far as they ever had by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but sometimes getting that close only makes the loss hurt more. And we never got to see the full potential of the Oakland Raiders. It seemed that they had hit their peak as they scored 5 consecutive touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts in week 16. Then Derrick Carr broke his femurand they were quickly eliminated from the playoffs two weeks later.  NDNU Junior George Jimenez said, “I was almost expecting something like this to happen because us Raiders fans had to be reminded that we can’t have nice things.”

Through it all, the 2016 season gave us amazing games. Many of us will be telling our kids about how Cleveland beat the Warriors, and how the Cubs finally won the World Series.

CNN writer Brandon Griggs said, “Between wars, terror attacks, a toxic presidential election and a rash of celebrity deaths, it has been a pretty lousy year for the world. But when it comes to historic moments in sports, 2016 was a champ.”