Why Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, should be awarded ’Coach of the year’

By Jonas Norgaard Nielsen

A streak of consecutive 50-win seasons might have been snapped but this has possibly been Popovich’s best coaching year yet. Pop

Danny Green. Patty Mills. Kyle Anderson. Dejounte Murray. Rudy Gay. Manu Ginobili. Tony Parker. Pau Gasol. These players alternated to be the second best player in San Antonio Spurs’ regular season games this year. They are all solid role players but none of them can be considered anything close to a star. Rudy Gay was once a proven scorer but his reputation has dwindled the last 5 years as the teams he has departed became better once he left. Murray is a sophomore, Kyle Anderson is probably the slowest player in the league, Manu is 40(!) years old, Gasol is 37 and Tony Parker has had his worst year of his career stat-wise.

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Despite of this, the Spurs can look back at the 17-18 season and be satisfied with the results. 47-35 in the tough Western Conference is impressive for a team that has only had one all-star in Lamarcus Aldridge, who has been surrounded by role players – some of whom would have been marginal players on other teams, but who have flourished under Popovich’s tutelage. But how has he done it? Defense and controlling the tempo.

Looking at the Spurs-players individually, Danny Green and Dejounte Murray are the only ones who have positive defensive reputations, but in spite of that the Spurs ranked 4th in defensive rating during the season. How? Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have not been the offensive force that we have come to be familiar with over the last 20 years under Popovich, but they have managed to change their playing style. This season they have changed it to more of a grit-and-grind playing style that has become synonymous with the Memphis Grizzlies over the last decade (ironically, the grit-and-grind slogan in Memphis started as a jab to Rudy Gay), which is illustrated by the fact that it is only the Sacramento Kings, who have played with a slower pace. We should not be surprised by Popovich’s ability to change the playing style to suit his roster, as he has done it successfully for over 20 years now, but we should be ashamed if we do not recognize it before the legend retires.

Give that man an award.

 

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D’Onta Foreman’s path to the NFL Draft

The anticipation surrounding the NFL draft is high, as prospects and fans look forward to the start of the draft this Thursday. Swoopes, Foreman, and Haines, are a couple of Texas prospects, but one stands out as the only junior on the roster, D’Onta Foreman.

The NFL Network released an exclusive interview with Texas running back D’Onta Foreman where he publicly revealed a secret that had inspired his outstanding final season as a Longhorn, the death of his premature son. “He was a fighter, you know,” Foreman said about his son. “He would like fight and he’s going to make it and everything will be fine.”

D’Onta Foreman Jr. developed an infection the day before playing Big 12 rival Texas Tech. Foreman described the news as heartbreaking but still went on to play the best game of his life, rushing 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, making it the third best rushing performance in Texas history. “It was something about that game. I was doing it for my son. I’m leaving it all out there,” he said.

Winner of the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back, ending the season with over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, there is no doubt that Foreman’s current projection as a second round pick this weekend is right on.

Texas, even with a less than stellar football season, has always been a team comprised of men with integrity, strength, and character, on and off the field, which is something that we can take full pride on. In life and in football, you have to keep moving through the tough parts and we are all very thankful for the drive and focus Foreman possessed through all this grief. He is without a doubt a class act, a fighter, and true Longhorn. I believe I can speak on behalf of Texas fans and those rooting for Foreman that we all wish him nothing but success in the NFL and the future ahead of him.

 – Laura Sorto

Red River Showdown comes to a close

Heavy weekend for the horns as they host No. 11/9 Oklahoma (32/7) in the Red River Showdown. On Friday, April 7, at Red & Charline McCombs Field, Texas softball (20-16) got a RBI single and a passed ball to plate a run but could not pull through during the series opener against Oklahoma, 3-2. Devon Tunning pitched and led the offense for the Horns by going 1-for-3 with a RBI, freshman Dermargosian scored, and senior Hanzel walked and scored.

Head coach, Connie Clark, had some words after Friday’s game: “I thought we competed well. We did some good things. We gave ourselves opportunities and stayed aggressive. The only thing we would like to do is cut down some of the strikeouts heading into the next couple days. We had some quality at-bats. I’m ready to see the ball fall.”

On Saturday, April 8, Horns brought the run to the plate towards the end  of the seventh, but it was a little to late rally attempt was not enough to catch up to the Sooners with another close loss, 3-1. Freshman Washington, went 1-for-3 with her third career double and senior Hanzel with a 1 for 2 at the plate with Texas’s lone RBI. Leading Texas offense was senior Davis.

Even though the horns did not pull out a win, Saturday’s game brought recognition to Breast Cancer Awareness with the athletes, coaches, and fans wearing pink. The first pitch strike of the game coming from Dawn Hardin, a cancer survivor!

On Sunday, April 9, two errors led to five runs in the second inning to put Oklahoma (35-7) in a good position to beat the Horns (20-18), 6-0. Senior Felix, led the horns by going 2- for 3 at the plate.

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.

 

Longhorn Sports Interview: Jordan Strickland DB

Yesterday, I was able to sit down with University of Texas at Austin football player, Jordan Strickland. During the interview, he explained to me some of the hardships he has faced here at the university and the outlook that he sees on the upcoming football season.

Name: Jordan Strickland

Age: 20

Hometown: Aurora, Colorado

Sport: Football

Major: Broadcast Journalism

Years in UT sports: 2

Q: What helped to get you started in football and why did you continue that pursuit after high school?

A: “I played years of football throughout my life, I have some great memories from my childhood. However, injuries plagued my senior season in high school, which caused me to lose many of the scholarship offers I had. I was given the opportunity to continue to pursue my passion and showcase my talent here at the university.”

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in life?

A: “Being accepted and able to receive an education from The University of Texas at Austin has been my biggest accomplishment. I was able to do this through academics and hard work in high school and not rely solely on athletics, which has only gone to help further my success at this university.”

Q: What has been key to ensuring that there is growth during this spring? Also, what have you done to be better?

A: “The key to ensuring that we are getting better this spring has been putting in the extra repetitions needed to be able to push ourselves to finish games better. By this I mean giving our all until that final whistle. We have done this by putting in extra workouts and additional time in the film room to guarantee our success, while getting better individually.”

Q: You’ve had a history of a few injuries since joining the football team. What are you doing to get better and prevent further injuries from happening?

A: “With the injury that I currently have being internal, the process for now is just time to heal and ensure that I am getting better. I have yet to be cleared by the medical staff, however the key to preventing future injuries is to ensure that I am in the best shape to be able to give maximum effort.”

Q: How can we improve our offense this season and who has made the greatest impact?

A: “Shane (Buechele) has been key. In addition, the younger guys have some growing up to do. They are working their way into leadership roles for this team which are going to be necessary to ensure that our team is as good as we know that we can be.”

Q: You mentioned Shane Buechele. How has he progressed over the spring and is he going to be the guy when fall camp begins?

A: “I wasn’t able to get any early looks at Shane this spring in practice, but from what he showed in the spring game with his arm strength, he could very well be the guy for us. However, he will need to put on some weight to be able to take the hits that get delivered in the Big XII.”

Q: How do you feel about the defense? Is it progressing?

A: “From head to toe, we have a lot of skilled players. We will need to be more physical and aggressive to show how dominant we can be. We have some great guys who have stepped up and are ready to make a difference for our defense.”

Q: Who do you feel has progressed the most on both sides of the ball?

A: “For offense most definitely Collin Johnson.” Johnson is a wide receiver who is an early enrollee from the 2016 recruiting class. He has been dubbed the name “Young Megatron” after Calvin Johnson because of his freakishly large 6ft 6in and 200-pound size. He is an aggressor on the field who is expected to make huge contributions.

“For defense, it has been Anthony Wheeler. We have known for some time that he was a special talent on the field. He is showing that he has All-American capabilities. We are expecting the linebacker to have a huge season for us this year.”

Q: What has been the biggest difference in recruiting for Texas?

A: “Competition-wise, we know that the coaches will give freshman the opportunity to play. That is evident from last season. The fact that freshmen are getting these opportunities is invigorating. These guys want to get the program back to the level of competition it should be at. They really want to put the T back in Texas.”

Q: What are three goals that the football team has for the upcoming season?

A: “We have been prepping extremely well for our season opener against Notre Dame, so we would like to make a statement and win at home. Next, we would like to beat our rival, OU. We can do that by ensuring that we execute and are the aggressors playing with passion and hunger. Lastly, we would like to win the Big XII. This task is easier said than done. We will take everything week by week and continuously get better while staying humble throughout the process.”

Supply and Demand’s Impact on Income Inequality in Golf

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This past weekend husband and wife Martin Piller and Gerina Piller showed strong performances at their PGA and LPGA tournaments.  Martin Piller placed top 10 at the Valero Texas Open and Gerina placed top five at the Swinging Skirts Open.  The power couple both brought home respectable earnings from their events, but the differentiation of these earning illustrate the wage gap of the wage gap between male and female pro golfers.

Gerina Piller brought home $117,163 this weekend, after tying for top three at her event.  Husband Martin Piller placed sixth overall and brought home $233, 740.  Even more striking is that first place at the Swinging Skirts Open played for just $300,000, while firstplace of the Valero Texas open played for $1,116,000.
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Gerina Piller has made the cut for seven events this season, placing at each of these, and has a total earnings this season of $302,832.  Martin Piller has only made the cut in three events, with two top 25 and a top 10 standing, but has a total season earnings of $296,965.

Many see the differences in incomes for men vs women pro golfers due the simple justification of supply and demand.  This argument seems logical, as PGA events draw larger audiences then LPGA events, but does that make this a sound ethical practice?

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Golf is one of the slower movers for income equality, as it is typically seen as a “man’s sport”.  The move is so slow in fact that, on average, male golfers can expect to make 83% more each year then female golfers.  This is from both event earnings as well as sponsorship earnings.  Keep in mind that this is from playing the same game, at the same skill level.  Some say that men are inherently better at the game due to strength, and it is true that men tend to drive the ball 47 yards further, on average, then women.  However women are proven to be 12% more accurate in their drives then men and shoot a GIR 5.3% higher then men.

So while the demand for PGA events might be higher, next time your tuning in, consider an LPGA for some incredible talent.

Or, at the very least, any LPGA event will move fast then a PGA event that involves Jordan Speith.

Written By: Rachel Frnka (Group 9)

NFL Draft: Wide Receiver Dilemma

The NFL Draft has a star studded wide receiver cast this year. Full of playmakers, many mock drafts struggle to pin point where exactly the top four prospects will fall. In an attempt to explain why so many scouts struggle to determine who’s the best, I lay out the best and worst of Laquon Treadwell, Corey Coleman, Josh Doctson, and Will Fuller.

Laquon Treadwell

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Treadwell is known to be a possession receiver who has great hands, blocks well, excels after the catch, and wins contested balls. I believe defensive backs will have a hard time tackling the 221 pound receiver, allowing him to succeed at the next level.

Treadwell is recognized for being slower than most wide receivers, shown by his subpar 40- yard dash time.

College: Ole Miss

Projected Draft Spot: Middle 1st– Late 1st

2015 stats: 82 receptions, 1,153 yards,11 touchdowns

Height: 6’2

Weight: 221

40- yard: 4.63 seconds

Vertical: 33 ½ inches

Bench Press (225 pounds): 12 reps

Broad Jump: 9’9”

Corey Coleman

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When his starting quarterback was healthy, Coleman dominated the competition. His great deep play ability, paired with his speed, allows him to potentially score on any reception. His combination of speed and strength make him a prototype slot receiver. Corner backs don’t want to tackle a slot receiver that can bench press 225 pounds for 17 reps.

The fact that he had a lot of dropped balls and used only a few routes in college, leads me to believe teams will think twice before drafting him.

College: Baylor

2015 stats: 74 receptions, 1,363 yards, 20 touchdowns

Projected Draft Spot: Late 1st– 2nd round

Height: 5’11

Weight: 194

40 Yard Dash: 4:37 seconds

Bench Press(225 pounds): 17

Broad Jump: 10’9”

Josh Doctson

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Doctson has great size and leaping ability, essential tools a good red zone threat needs. He is recognized for being acrobatic, shown by his combine vertical leap and broad jump results. What NFL team wouldn’t want a lethal red zone target with good hands?

Docton’s, 40-yard dash time is not amongst the NFL elite. He also ran a limited amount of routes in his collegiate offensive spread system.

College: TCU

2015 stats: 79 receptions, 1,327 yards, 14 touchdowns

Projected Draft Spot: Late 1st– 2nd Round

Height: 6’2

Weight: 202

40- Yard Dash: 4.5 seconds

Vertical: 41 inches

Bench Press (225 pounds): 14

Broad Jump: 10’11”

Will Fuller

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Fuller is known for being this year’s most dangerous deep threat receiver. Giving you an idea of his big play potential, his 40 yard dash time of 4.32 seconds is mesmerizing, surpassing most NFL prospects. Fuller made a name for himself at the collegiate level because of various clutch plays.

Fuller is known make deep ball catches, however he struggles with short route catches. He has a small frame when compared to the receivers listed above and lacks strength.

College: Notre Dame

2015 stats: 62 receptions, 1,258 yards,14 touchdowns

Projected Draft Spot: Late 1st– 2nd Round

Height: 6’0

Weight: 186

40- yard dash: 4.32 seconds

Vertical: 33 ½ inches

Bench Press(225 pounds): 10 reps

Broad Jump: 10’6”

 

Time will tell who exactly the best wide receiver in the 2016 NFL Draft will be. I strongly believe Josh Doctson will be the better pro out of all the prospects. Round 1 starts April 28 at 7pm CT on ESPN.