The Future of the Rockets

The Rockets disappointing season has been discussed adnauseum, and despite having the 3rd best winning percentage of any NBA team over the course of the last 10 years, the media and fans alike have painted houston in a very negative light. Yes, this season was far from successful, and yes changes will need to be made, but the organization has a track record of winning. Here are some of the key free agents that can return Houston to winning ways.

Coaches

With Luke Walton getting snapped up by the Lakers, Thibodeau heading way of Minnesota, and Scott Brooks on his way to Washington, the coaching market has thinned out quite a bit recently. There are still some good options though.

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J.B wouldn’t be a popular choice in the Rockets fan base, but it’s possible the guy ends up a good coach under a different set of circumstances. Morey and the crew might still have faith in the young coach.

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Jeff Van Gundy on the other hand might be the coach most rockets fans desperately want. His defensive style could make his return to the rockets just what the doctor ordered. Does he want to get back into coaching though? Only time will tell. But if he does, many fans think he’s the answer.

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David Blatt hasn’t seemed to be on the Rocket’s radar, but he was a decorated coach in Europe and proved he can handle the NBA game in Cleveland. There are concerns that he struggles with big egos though, and it is possible he and Harden may not gel.

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Lionel Hollins would be a very conservative coaching choice by Rockets standards, but it is possible his experience and stability would make him an attractive candidate for the Rockets position.

Of course there are many more coaches that are likely under consideration like spurs assistant Ime Udoka and Hardens Ex team mate at OKC and current connecticut coach Kevin Ollie. No matter what the coach chosen will of course have a massive impact on the players they can get in the off season and on play throughout the season. It is the most important decision facing GM Daryl Morey.

Players

Kevin

A guy can dream right?

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I’m not sure many Rockets fans want to deal with another season of our center getting hacked, but Andre Drummond’s talents cannot be denied. Unlikely to leave detroit though.

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Al Horford is also a center, but he can shoot! Free throws, and the 3! He would be a great fit in Houston, but is gonna be at the top of many other teams lists too. He’s not young, so committing to a big contract would carry some risk.

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Mike Conley is another guy that many teams are gonna be after. Often give the distinction of “most underrated player in the NBA,” he too seems like he would be a great fit in Houston. With Memphis’ less than stellar end to the season, it’s possible he looks elsewhere. The Griz have a great track record re-signing their players though, unfortunately.

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Hassan Whiteside is much more than every NBA fan’s favorite snapchater, he’s also one of the league’s top centers. He led the league in blocks by a country mile and has taken huge strides (literally) in his offensive game. If Dwight leaves the Rockets as many expect, Whiteside would be an incredible replacement. It remains to be seen if Miami will be able to retain his services, a factor which depends partly on Chris Bosh’s future.

Just like coaches, there are many other players that will be no doubt courted by Houston this summer. Whatever happens it is bound to be an eventful offseason with the newfound cap room being given to teams, and I, for one, am confident the Rockets come out the other side a stronger team.

Can Longhorn Softball Still Win Big 12?

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(RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

By: Christian Cordova

We are reaching the final stretch of Big 12 play. At this point in the season, every game matters for the Texas Longhorns in softball. The hope for the Longhorns to win the Big 12 seems a while off, but they are still mathematically alive and have many opportunities to get some momentum.

Texas currently sits at 3rd in the Big 12 and ranked 32nd in the NCAA. In both the conference and the nation, the Longhorns have been hovering right outside the top of the pack. The Longhorns had a shot to bring the Big 12 championship closer to their reach with their series against the Sooners. However, the 0-3 sweep from Oklahoma left the Longhorns between a rock and a hard place. Factor in a pair of losses from rival Baylor, one slip up against Texas Tech, and now Texas is about five games behind both the 1st seed Sooners and the 2nd seed Bears. However, Texas has been on the upside lately by sweeping their series against OSU and by winning their recent doubleheader against Kansas. If the Longhorns manage to win the series against Kansas and Iowa State, Texas puts itself in a great position heading into the final regular season Big 12 match against Baylor.

If Texas can manage to win all of their remaining games, there is a very reasonable chance that the Longhorns could take the runner-up title for the Big 12. That would require Baylor to lose their series against Texas Tech and lose to the Longhorns in their final game. For the Longhorns to win the Big 12, OU would have to lose out which seems unlikely.

While the Longhorns would need some help moving higher up in the Big 12, there is a probability that Texas will shake up the Big 12 in these last few weeks of play. The Longhorns should be proud of their season, but if they can make the extra effort down the final stretch, Texas could be heading into the NCAA tournament with a huge amount of momentum. Hook’em Horns.

My Path to Understanging the Sport of PGA and Becoming Aware That I Am Fond of Jordan Spieth

Being assigned to follow the PGA Tour.

So in the middle of the semester during a little advertising class known as “Sports and Social Media”, we were thrown into a group project which allowed us to act like a social media team. I was hyped, thinking that I was going to cover all sorts of NFL news and such, due to me being an avid fan. That’s until I found out what I would actually be covering – golf (along with NASCAR). To my deepest dismay, all I could think about how different it was from the NFL sport and how I’ve heard how boring it was from fellow NFL fans. But of course, I had to push my feelings aside and begin this interesting journey.

The beginning of the assignment.

New to the sport, I was trying to cram in as much information as I could about golf. From reading about the types of PGA Tour “Opens”, types of clubs, well-known players, and what a birdie was, I was already starting to dread this assignment. Obviously, there was nothing to do, but to go on with my first following – the 2016 Masters.

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The 2016 Masters.

Of course, through previous research, I had found that Jordan Spieth was the previous Masters champion. Knowing this, I was sure to pay close attention to him through out the duration of the tournament. So it began. Through the many hours I’ve spent trying to catch highlights or key information, I found myself getting more and more involved into the sport. I thought to myself, “Wow. Am I actually starting to get into this?” I was digging up stats every hour I could to see who was in the lead, hoping that it would be Mr. Jordan Spieth,himself.

Finding out that I was slightly fond of Jordan Spieth.

As the Masters tournament was coming to a close, I was finding myself rooting for fellow UT alumni and previous Masters champion, Jordan Spieth. Now having slightly more knowledge about this sport was played, I began to get more interested in his run at the tournament. During the 3rd and  final round, I checked stats early on during the day, of course, Mr. Spieth lead the way. Thinking it was a done deal, I didn’t bother to check in until the end of the tournament. Then the time came, I picked up my cell phone and googled the stats. My jaw dropped – Jordan Spieth had lost the 2016 Masters tournament. Surprisingly, I was a little disappointed at his tough loss.

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What’s in the future for me and the PGA?

Finding out Danny Willet was now the reigning champion, and watching the heartbreak  of watching Jordan place the famous Masters green blazer on the new winner, I knew I was now ready to follow this guy in his young career. The assignment continued and I, as well, continued to follow other PGA tour events. Yet, I was finding myself looking to see if Jordan Spieth would be competing in the week’s event, rather it be the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic, or even the Valero Texas Open, since he is a fellow Texan. Of course, I’m assuming he decided to lay low after the loss, but I am excited for his return. As this assignment came to a close with the Zurich Classic, I know that I will continue to follow the sport as I have found it, with this new knowledge, very interesting. Also, with my new found fanship of Jordan Spieth. Who knows, maybe I’ll become an avid fan of the PGA and maybe discover a new golfer to be a fan off. With being a massive sports fan, the options are endless.

 

Texas Softball’s Coach Clark wins 800th career game but she is more than just a number

Within the last week, Texas Softball Head Coach Connie Clark, reached a milestone that not many people can. Clark won her 800th game in her coaching career. There is no doubt that she has many more wins in her as a head coach. Clark still has time ahead of her to further her legacy. 800 wins is a tough mark to reach. Only 45 coaches in Division 1 softball history have over 900 wins (A mark that Clark should reach barring major setbacks). But there is more to be said about her than just the 800 wins.

In a world of win now and win at all costs, coaches are dropping like flies and are rarely given chances beyond the 2 or 3 year mark, and even then nothing is set in stone. Schools, teams, fans, and organizations alike have shifted to a world where success is needed, and needed quickly. Patience seems to be a lost focal point now a days. Texas Football can lose one game and have donors begging to get a new coach or they will stop giving to the school. Coach Clark has proven herself as a winner time and time again and that is why she has gotten to the point she has. She has taken opportunities and not looked back. There is something to be said for longevity in sports in today’s world. Coach Clark brings that longevity and so much more.

Let’s Talk: 2016 NBA Draft

The 2016 NBA Draft will be taking place on June 23, 2016 at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. With now about two months left till the draft, it’s time to take a look at the top prospects, the sleeper picks, and the players who might do themselves better to return a year from now for the 2017 draft.

THE TOP DOGS

First, there is the obvious discussion of who will go number one overall, and the debate in recent weeks has strictly been between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, two college superstars who look ready to get on a roster and contribute from the get-go. Simmons has an NBA-ready body, with incredible statistics and playmaking skills to back it up. Furthermore, he is being commended on having the poise of an NBA-seasoned veteran. Ingram also boasts an unbelievable basketball body, with great speed to match. His greatest strength has been using his size to create opportunities for both himself and his teammates.

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Other sensational first round talents include Buddy Hield, Dragan Bender, and Jamal Murray.

SLEEPERS

The first interesting draft prospect who isn’t generating a lot of buzz is Nigel Hayes, junior forward out of Wisconsin whose  all-around versatility and passing strengths have drawn comparisons to the Golden State Warrior’s Draymond Green.

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Another player to keep tabs on is junior guard DeAndre Bembry out of Saint Joseph’s. The 6’6″ talent, who can line up at the two-guard or small forward positions, was one of three players this past year who averaged at least 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, per Sports-Reference.com. His Achilles heel will be his 26.9 percent shooting from deep and 63.1 percent free throw shooting.

BETTER LUCK NEXT SEASON

Finally, these two players might be better served returning to their respective colleges in order to hone their skills before they declare themselves ready for the draft. The first mention here is freshmen guard Isaiah Briscoe from Kentucky. Although Briscoe has proven himself to be an exceptional perimeter defender, his 5-of-37 shooting from deep leaves a lot to be desired. He needs to prove he can score in ways other than backing down defenders in the paint.

A player whose production has not been too shabby, but could be even better next season is sophomore small forward Justin Jackson out of UNC. He quietly averaged 12.8 points last season in the march to the title game, and while his athleticism certainly could help him shine in the individual workouts, he could be better served returning to the Tar Heels next season, serving as their go-to guy, and exponentially increasing his draft stock. He could even be a 2017 lottery pick.

 

A Name Fit For A Prince

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According to SportsDayDFW.com, Prince Fielder is indeed named after the late pop star! Sources say that his “mother was a big fan.” With news of the sad death, Fielder’s name came into the spotlight and he was interviewed by the Dallas Morning News regarding his namesake’s early death. “My parents liked him, so I kind of liked him,” Fielder told to write Evan Grant. He then explains, “It’s kind of weird when an icon dies, but I never really felt more of a connection to him. I like him and I listen to him, but not like every day.” So it sounds like Prince appreciates the name but is not personally distressed about the death.

Obviously, Fielder’s mother was onto something with the name Prince. Not only is pop-star Prince considered one of the most innovative and creative artists, but Fielder himself is doing really well in the MLB. There must be power in the name.

Fielder was drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft, straight out of high school! He then worked his way up the Brewers farm system to make his first Major League Baseball appearance on June 13, 2005. He was sent back down, but not for long! He stuck with the Brewers for seven years. Some highlights include: making it in the big leagues in 2006 as a starter and then leading all the MLB rookies with twenty-eight homers during that first year. He played for Detroit and now plays for the Texas Rangers.

Many people know Prince Fielder has baseball is in his blood. His father, Cecil Fielder was a prominent MLB player as well and credits much of his son’s success to his legacy. While this could be debated at the draft in 2002, Prince has earned his own name in the major leagues… dad’s legacy or not. He’s had his ups and downs for sure (read season-ending neck injury) but on April 29th, he reached his 1000th career RBI in a 4-2 win over the Angels! Way to go, Prince!

-Tabor

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8-Team College Football Playoff System

If you ask me, there’s nothing like college football. Unfortunately, there is one major problem impacting the great sport: the lack of a sufficient playoff system. In the past, National Champions were determined by simply taking the two highest ranked teams, and having them play each other. This arbitrary selection process resulted in numerous lopsided Title games, plenty of questionable champions, and a handful of years where a deserving team was left out of the big game. While the new system (4-team playoff of the highest ranked teams) has helped to mitigate this issue, it certainly has not solved. The good news is that there is a better way. Believe it or not, we can elect a champion in a less subjective way, without harming the player. Here’s the idea:

  • 8-team playoff system
    • Automatic Bids given to the champion of the 5 Power Conferences (i.e. SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC)
    • At Large bids given to the next 3 highest ranked teams, regardless of conference
  • Top four seeds host a quarterfinal match-up
  • Semi’s and title game played at rotating BCS Bowl game sites

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Now, before you interject and complain about a diluted regular season, I have a counterargument for that as well. We all know that the regular season is what differentiates college football from other sports leagues. The fear that many have with extended playoff proposals is the implications that it can have on the regular season. Many feel that if we extend the playoff and invite more teams, the regular season will lose some of its importance. My counterargument to this is simple: By guaranteeing a spot to the champion of each Power 5 conference, I would argue that the regular season is even more important than before. While winning your conference currently gives you bragging rights, the new system would award you with a spot in the big tournament. What about the teams from smaller conferences? Well, while the current system allows a smaller team to finish 13-0 or 12-1 and miss the playoffs, the new system would make it very unlikely to miss the tournament after winning 12 or 13 games (given that no major conference’s champion will be fighting for the three at-large bids).

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Another major argument that you may be thinking: why should we force young, developing student-athletes to play a longer season? Well, there’s a solution to this as well. As great as the college football regular season is, there is one major weakness: the non-conference season. For many major football programs, the non-conference schedule represents nothing more than a preseason, as they fill the schedule with teams like Louisiana Lafayette, North Texas, and We Don’t Belong Here High School. Why should this portion of the season last three games?! Instead, eliminating one game from the non-conference schedule, therefore decreasing the season by one game. This would allow the eventual national champion to play the same amount of games as they would have played in the previous system, while also saving fans from a boring 3rd non-conference game.

In conclusion, this proposed system adds value to the regular season, while ensuring that the champion earns their title. The national champion should not be determined based on opinion. Instead, it should be determined on the field.

– Corey Lawson

Dale Earnhardt’s 65th Birthday

Dale Earnhardt Sr. was a great driver and one of NASCAR’s most influential. On February 18, 2001 he was racing in the Daytona 500 when he was involved in a tragic wreck that cost him his life. Fans around the country felt a deep loss and so did his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. It hit him hard but it is also what has kept him motivated for all these years. If Earnhardt Sr. was here to see what has become of the NASCAR nation, he would be proud.

It was nice to see that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was so happy to talk about his father on what would have been the man’s 65th birthday. He feels good about the future of NASCAR and appreciates all the love for his father. His father played a big role in the advancement of the sport and Earnhardt Jr. is just happy to see that people are making an effort to commemorate his father. In an interview he goes on to talk about how he wonders what his father would’ve been like at 65.

All he cares about is keeping the memory of his father alive. Earnhardt Jr. is just happy to know that people are still appreciate his father and what he has done for NASCAR. The fact that he lives on through the fans and the culture is everything.

Off the Field with Texas Pitcher Connor Mayes

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Connor Mayes is a sophomore pitcher born and raised in Austin, Texas. He graduated from Lake Travis High School in 2014, and since then he has been a key player for the UT baseball team. One of his biggest accomplishments was pitching an entire game during the 2015 Big 12 Tournament, which was vital for the Longhorns Big 12 Championship title that year. UT Finance and Sports Media student Savannah Cavanaugh sat down with Mayes to ask him some questions regarding baseball and his life.

Savannah: If you could spend a day as one of your teammates, who would you be and why?

Connor: I would probably want to be one of the Clemens boys. They have the coolest apartment, shoes, cars, etc. hahah.

Savannah: Batman or Superman?

Connor: It’s a tough call… but Superman. Yes, Batman is self made, but Superman has cool powers.

Savannah: What is a nickname of yours and where did it come from?

Connor: I’m called “Crazy Mayes” now, but in high school I was called “Big Cat”. My new nickname is because I’m high energy, always bouncing off the walls and high stress when I’m pitching/ in the dugout.

Savannah: What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?

Connor: Hardworking, Passionate, and Outgoing.

Savannah: Super Strength or Super Speed?

Connor: Super Strength (harder fastball)

Savannah: Who has been one of the most influential people in your life?

Connor: I would say… actually a lot of people, but my teammate Tyler Schimpf. He is a hard worker no matter what the results are, always has a smile on his face, holds true to his values and would do anything for me.

Savannah: What’s your favorite MLB team? Favorite MLB player?

Connor: Cardinals, Chris Carpenter (P)

Savannah: Who do you think you pitch like?

Connor: Noah Syndergaard (Mets)

Savannah: What is the worst city in the Big 12?

Connor: Lawrence, Kansas. Manhattan is a close second. Kansas is just not a very fun place to visit. (chuckles)

Savannah: Any advice for little leaguers/ high school kids who want to play college ball?

Connor: To work hard. Never stop believing in themselves. Don’t listen to the critics and set high goals.

Savannah: What is your favorite part about playing baseball for THE University of Texas?

Connor: We have the coolest stadium. It is the biggest, nicest, and most major league like. There is also a ton of pride with the fans and so much Texas baseball history. It’s an honor to play for this team. Hook’em Horns.

Hook’em horns is right. Tweet at us @savcav9 @connormayes19 and tell us your thoughts.

The Reality of Life as a Collegiate Athlete

 

From the outside looking in, it may seem that college athletes live the perfect lives. They get all the attention, the girls, and the privileges. People also think that they get to attend schools on scholarships, good around in class because they’re not really here for the academics. However, if you were to dive a little deeper, you would see that college athletes are putting in a lot more work than the average student, a workload that most people couldn’t handle.

For one, they still have to attend class and make decent grades in order to stay on the team. To a regular student that may be easy. It’s just 2 to 3 classes a day taking up a total of 3 to 4 hours. After that, the normal student may study for a bit and then have the rest of the day to themselves to do whatever they please. However, for the college athlete, it isn’t just a few classes a day. They might have to be up at 6 am to go to weight training. After that’s done, they have to go to the classes everyone else does. Once that’s done, its time for afternoon practice. When all is said and done, they might not even have enough time to do their homework or study for an exam. They are both physically and mentally exhausted from their sport, and yet they must still carry similar workloads to us everyday students, the same students who complain about 8 am’s and having 2 exams in one week.

College athletes are viewed under more scrutiny than the rest of us. Their actions carry serious weight on and off campus. They are ambassadors of their respective schools. It may seem like a glorious life but they are judged more harshly than the rest of us, expected to be more mature than the rest of us. Next time you fantasize about living the easy breezy life of a student athlete, just really think about how much work goes into hitting that buzzer beating game winning shot.

 

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