Moto GP: Another Success in ATX

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Ah. Nothing better than the smell of fresh rubber tires and the eardrum-shattering sounds of the motorcycles as they pass each turn at unprecedented speeds.

This was my first time at any sort of Moto Grand Prix event in my lifetime, let alone my first trip to the famous Circuit of the Americas racetrack. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say 2017 was another smashing success for the event in Austin.

Having never attended an event of this sort before, I was totally amazed at just how many people traveled thousands of miles, from countries across the globe to come witness their favorite racers attempt to bring home the gold. It’s safe to say the sport is exponentially more popular in Europe than it is here in the States. However, Circuit of the Americas happens to be the only Moto GP track in America (hence the name), so I’m just lucky to have been in attendance.

The majority of fans were there in support of #46 Rossi, an older Italian racer who is the favorite of many. My friends described him as the LeBron James of the sport. I quickly became a bandwaggoner and joined on the trend.

There’s nothing quite like the sound of the bikes as they pass by. It’s insanely loud, and you definitely want to use some ear plugs if you want to be able to use your ears in the weeks to come.

The main race was shorter than I would have expected it be, only 26 short laps. I later realized this was to make sure the racers never had to refill on gas.

The race was over before I knew it, and fan favorite Rossi ended up making a wild comeback finish to place second overall. The Spanish native Marques took the crown, notching his 5th consecutive first place finish (its hard to bet against that).

However, the Italian fans and all fans in general seemed to be pretty content with the way the race finished. I think everyone was happy being able to watch a good clean, race with a close finish.

It’s hard to beat the rare brisk Spring day in Austin, especially while watching such a beautiful sport at the only track of its kind on the continent!

Austin is a beautiful city. Moto GP is a wonderful addition to the already tons of events going on here, and will hopefully last for years to come.

Center of Excellence: UT Men’s Tennis Coach and His Impact on the Program

It’s no secret that The University of Texas Men’s Tennis program is a solid one. With consistently ranked seasons and appearances in the NCAA Championships, it’s easy to forget that things weren’t always this way. So what is the teams secret? Is it a star player or a catchy motto? No, the secret to this team’s excellence lies in a simple concept; good coaching. Coach Michael Center holds a 324-121 record in his time with UT and has led his team to 16 straight NCAA Championship appearances in the last 16 seasons he’s been head coach. In 2006, the Longhorns reached their highest national ranking (No. 3) under Coach Center. Since his arrival in 2000, 15 of Coach Center’s players have received 27 ITA All-American Honors. With such high praise simply coming from statistics, it’s hard to miss the fact that Coach Center has been doing something incredible with his team to lead them to this level of excellence. Coach, if you’re reading this, keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. Hook ’em!

8 Burning Questions to be Answered Thursday Night

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The 2017 NFL Draft will be filled with 32 players dreams realized and million of fans across the nation either elated or upset with their team’s newest addition. On top of this, Thursday night will be one laced with a lot of questions. These 8 questions will be answered on Thursday, and until then all the top sports minds will be speculating their best guesses, and analyzing each and every answer across the next couple of days leading up until the draft.

  1. Will the Browns take Myles Garrett at number 1?
    • The Browns have been rumored to be choosing between what seems like the obvious pick, Myles Garrett, and Mitchell Trubisky. Myles Garrett has recently been a trending topic of the draft after former NFL player, Warren Sapp questioned his ability and called him “lazy”. However, his immense size, skill, and talent make him the unanimous number 1 player in the draft, and it would be a truly risky move to take anyone other than Garrett number 1 overall.
  2. What QB’s will be taken in the first round?
    • Although no QB’s stand out as the “elite talent”, there are multiple QB’s in the draft that could ultimately turn into an elite player over the next couple years under the right circumstances. Quarterbacks’ Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes II, and DeShone Kizer are all projected as possible first round picks and potential value players for teams lacking at the position. It will be interested to see what teams strike to get these prospects and how many will be off the board Thursday night.
  3. How far will Joe Mixon fall?
    • Joe Mixon is almost an unarguable 1st round talent. However, past assault and battery issues involving women has created a huge plague for him across NFL teams. As he is a possible Elite talent, are teams ready to take the PR storm and deal with his off-the-field problems, just for the chance they picked up a future hall-of-famer for a low risk-high reward value?
  4. Will the Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo in order to get back into the draft?
    • The Patriots have hands down the best back-up QB prospect in the league. Going along with this, they have no 1st or 2nd round picks in 2017. The question to be answered is will the best drafting team in the league stay out of the draft this year, or will they use their talented back-up for trade and nab as high as a 1st and 2nd rounder from a team. They are rumored to keep Garoppolo, but the Patriots always have a trick up their sleeve so you never know what could happen.
  5. How many running backs will be taken in the first round?
    • This running back draft class is one of the deepest in decades. With numerous possible first rounders and elite talents such as Fournette, Cook, Mixon, and McCaffrey, among others, there is plenty of potential to get a late 1st round steal. With 1st round RB picks lacking in the recent years, we very likely will see a change of pace Thursday.
  6. Will the notoriously bad draft night Browns turn it around and get their QB of the future and Garrett?
    • The Brown have not been good on draft night the past couple years, and in-turn has caused the Browns to be a continually failing organization on the field. However, Thursday they have a chance to change this. If they can draft Garrett 1st overall and then use their 12th pick to draft their QB of the future, they might just be able to start to turn things around and not add another player to their QB graveyard.
  7. Which teams will trade down?
    • This question could be the biggest story of draft night. This is overall not the deepest of drafts at the forefront. Therefore, this will allow a lot of teams to make mid-round moves and pick up the player they’ve been missing for a rather small price. Along with this, the 49ers, with the second pick, have been rumored to trade-down as they look to draft a top two WR not quite worth of the number 2 spot on the board. If they do, this could create a trend for teams to move trade up or down for the rest of the night.
  8. Where will the hottest name in the draft, Christian McCaffrey, land?
    • Christian McCaffrey has recently became the hottest name in the draft. With a stand-out showing at the combine, great team interviews, and the best RB pass-catching ability in the draft, he has rose to the number two or three back in the class. The question is, will he fall all the way to 18, where the Redskins would almost guarantee pick him, as he would be a perfect fit to their offensive attack.

 

Kevin Chappell Captures First Win Texas Style

Cinderella finally gets the boot to fit at the Valero Texas Open. The custom alligator boots are presented each year to the winner of one of the PGA Tour’s oldest events.

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It took him 180 starts, but Kevin Chappell is finally a winner on the PGA Tour. Chappell birdied the 72nd hole to fire a final round (-4) 68 and win the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. The 30 year old opened Sunday with a one shot lead, fighting off Brooks Koepka’s 65. Chappell came into the week with the second best odds to win the tournament, and finally closed one out.

Six years ago to the day, Chappell finished solo second at the Valero, after a late bogey costs him the win. At the time, it was only the ninth start of his rookie season and things were off to a good start. After 6 years and 180 tournaments on the Tour, I can imagine he started to think it would never happen. Fighting through adversity, Chappell kept putting himself in contention — and continued to fall short. Just last season, he had four runner-up finishes including The Players and the TOUR Championship.

After his win, Chappell was excited to talk to the media. When asked about getting his first win, he said, “I’m just excited I don’t have to answer that question of, ‘What do I have to do to win?’ again.” He continued to talk about the win as a turning point for his career, “Hopefully this is a platform to jump off and get myself in the conversation to make Ryder Cups, make Presidents Cups and really let my career take off.”

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After years of close calls, Chappell can finally call himself a PGA Tour winner. We look forward to watching him play next week in New Orleans, and the rest of the season.

Maybe this time he won’t wait 180 tournament to celebrate victory.

 

Wes Dooley

Why Kawhi? Making Leonard’s Case for MVP

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As the NBA postseason wears on and talks of the MVP race heat up each night, it’s easy to say that there is no clear consensus as to who should win the MVP trophy.  It seems like most people in the country think that the decision is going to come down to Harden or Westbrook, wins vs. triple doubles.  Well, in an age where anything can happen during voting season, an outsider may have a better chance at winning the MVP this year- and that outsider is Kawhi Leonard.  I think that if anyone deserves the MVP, its Leonard, and here is why:

Kawhi is the best all-around player in the league

Amongst players who logged at least 1500 minutes this past season, Kawhi Leonard was the only one to finish in the top half of the league in all nine of the following categories: (data courtesy of Basketball Reference)

OFFENSE VALUE PERCENTILE
Usage 31.2% 96th
True shooting 61.1% 90th
Turnovers 9.0% 82nd
Assists 19.1% 71st
Offensive rebounds 3.8% 59th
DEFENSE VALUE PERCENTILE
Steals 2.7% 96th
Blocks 1.8% 73rd
Defensive Real Plus-Minus +0.9 71st
Defensive rebounds 15.8% 62nd

Every other player in the league was in the lower 50th percentile for at least one of the statistical categories.  This shows that Kawhi is the best all-around player in the game.  Not only does he have a deadly shooting touch, he is one of the best defenders in the NBA.  This lethal combination makes him truly unique in terms of skill-set in the NBA.

Speaking of defense….

Did I mention that Kawhi Leonard is the best defensive player in the league?  He is the two time reigning Defensive Player of the Year and figures to be named it a third time this year.  So there’s that…920x920

The Wins > Stats Argument

There has been lots of talk lately, namely from a certain bearded Houston Rocket (hmmm…), about what constitutes an MVP winner.  Should it be given to the player with the best stats, or the best player on the best team?  If the prevailing school of thought is that it should be based more on wins, then there is simply no better candidate than Leonard.   The Spurs finished with the second best record in the league.  And if the argument is that it should be given to the best stats, then the case can certainly be made for Leonard since he was the best all-around player in the league.

Although no one can be sure who will win the MVP, it is going to be a controversial outcome for sure.  It is hard to imagine Westbrook not winning the award, but don’t be surprised if we hear Kawhi’s name instead.  He is simply too good to not consider as a dark horse for the race- much like his Spurs are dark horse championship contenders year in and year out.

James Harden the “Bearded Picasso”

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The 2016 Season for the Rockets disappointed their bearded superstar, James Harden. However, he converted the Rockets, a team that finished 8th in the West, into the 3rd best team in the NBA with 55 wins. James Harden drove the Rockets this season, so he should absolutely win the NBA MVP award this year.
Just like his former teammate Russell Westbrook, the Harden walked into a new team this year. Dwight Howard ventured to Atlanta, and Mike D’Antoni took the reins as coach of the Houston Rockets. The team from Space City was completely rebuilt in the Summer of 2016. Not only did Harden have to learn new offensive plays and defensive schemes, but he also changed positions on the basketball court. According to Trevor Ariza, Coach D’Antoni “asked James to move to the point guard position” on the first day. Ariza, the starting forward for the Houston Rockets, said, “James didn’t even take a day to think about it. He just said right on the spot, ‘Yes, I’ll do it.’” Without hesitation, James Harden accepted his new role, and Harden skipped the learning curve.
From the start of the 2016-2017 NBA season James Harden has dominated the competition. While averaging 29.1 points per game, he has also averaged a league-leading 11.2 assists per game. The unselfish superstar feeds the team that scored the most three pointers this season. In other words, James Harden’s assists are worth more than most, because he passes to the three point line. In fact, with nine games left in the season, James Harden became the first player to ever score and assist 2000 points. No other season compares to the show that James Harden has given basketball fans this year. James Harden should win the NBA MVP, but Houston fans want a championship. Votes have been cast, and results will be announced on June 26th. #FearTheBeard.

 

The Plague: Playoff Fever

 

The plague has struck nationwide. NBA fans are often victims of this prolonged illness. A rollercoaster of emotions, from feelings of pride and victory to feelings of despair and defeat. The 2017 NBA Playoffs have arrived.

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Taking a look at the past couple of weeks, both the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies have heightened this infectious disease throughout their fan base. Closing Game 4 on April 22, fans were left biting their nails as they watched the Memphis Grizzles secure another win under their belt, tying the series 2 – 2. Prior to this win, the Memphis Grizzlies trailed the San Antonio Spurs as they began the series 0 – 2. Finishing Game 1 with a score of 111 points, the Spurs started the series off stronger than ever. Opening the playoffs at home, Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs to victory with 32 points, followed by Tony Parker with 18 points. Concluding Game 2, the Spurs captured another victory against Memphis with a final score of 96-82; closer than the last. However, Game 3 took a turn for the Spurs. As Memphis won 105 – 94, Spurs fans nationwide were overcome with feelings of trouble and doubt. Further leading the Spurs to yet another defeat by the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4.

Stakes are high. With the series tied 2 – 2, both teams will return to San Antonio to play Game 5 on April 24 @ 8:00 PM. Entering this week the Spurs have adopted the motto, “Tonight, we bounce back” in hopes of returning to the court confidently as they face the Memphis Grizzlies. As a note to all fans: plan accordingly. Tissues ready in times of need, and poppers ready in times of victory.

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Nomar Mazara: Breaking Out in 2017

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Coming into the new season, players to watch for the Rangers to have great seasons included Joey Gallo, Elvis Andrus, Yu Darvish to name others. A name that could’ve been flirted with a breakout candidate but no real experience in the majors was Nomar Mazara.

After a stellar first week in which he batted .417, had a slugging percentage of .750, an OPS of 1.212, and collected 10 hits, Mazara earned the first AL Player of the Week honor of the season. Since his sizzling hot start to the season he has cooled down a little bit but still is second on the team in batting average at .259, second in on-base percentage at .310, tied for the team-lead for hits with 21, and leads the team with 17 RBIs (which is also tied for the American League lead for RBIs)and is currently on pace to hit over 100 RBIs.

Coming into the majors as one of the best hitting prospects over a year ago, being compared to the likes of Freddie Freeman with his prowess on the left side of the plate and his ability to spread hits all over the ballpark with his rare hitting power, he proceeded to hit 20 homers with a .266 batting average in just 145 games. He also garnered AL Rookie of the Month honors for both April and May and finished 5th in the voting for AL Rookie of the Year so coming into 2017 a lot was expected of Mazara amongst the Rangers organization and amongst their fanbase, but after such a hot start to the year, he is starting to gain national recognition (as evidenced by his AL Player of the Week award).

At just 21 years of age, the Dominican-born is yet to hit his prime and still has a ways to go in this league before he can affirm his status as a high-profile name in the sport. The Rangers are currently 9-11 and third in the AL West standings as the first 3 weeks have passed already in the season but a good way to become a household for Mazara is if the Rangers start to turn things around and kick it into gear and make the playoffs because performing well in October will always make someone turn into a household name, e.g. Reggie Jackson (Mr. October) and Derek Jeter.

 

On the Clock with UTadsports

1.Cleveland Browns: Defensive End Myles Garrett

The best player in the draft, it would be a mistake for the Browns not to pick him.

2.San Francisco 49ers: Defensive End Solomon Thomas

I don’t see the 49ers taking a quarterback here so the best available player is Solomon Thomas who can make an impact for the 49ers defense on day one.

3.Chicago Bears:  Defensive End Jonathan Allen

The Bears need players on both sides of the ball and Allen can provide them with a difference maker on defense. Allen also fits in perfectly at the defensive end spot in the Bears 3-4 scheme.

4.Jacksonville Jaguars: Safety Jamal Adams

This is my favorite player in the draft, the combination of size and speed will pair well with last year’s draft pick Jalen Ramsey and will make the Jaguars’ secondary a strength for the next decade.

5.Tennessee Titans: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore

The Titans need help at cornerback, the team ranked 30th in pass defense Lattimore will be able to add some security to the Titans secondary.

6.New York Jets: Tight End OJ Howard

As much as the Jets need a quarterback they have already heavily invested at that position in the past couple of drafts. Howard gives those young quarterbacks a reliable go to threat at tight end.

7.Los Angeles Chargers: Safety Malik Hooker

Ever since Eric Weddle left, the Chargers have missed the impact he made on the back end of their defense. Hooker can provide that same range that Weddle did for so many years in San Diego.

8.Carolina Panthers: Running Back Leonard Fournette

Cam Newton and Leonard Fournette in the same backfield say no more.

9.Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive End Derek Barnett

Barnett was a highly productive player at his time at Tennessee racking up sacks left and right. Barnett can pair with current edge rusher Carlos Dunlap and help pressure the quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco in the division.

10.Buffalo Bills: Quarterback Deshaun Watson

The Bills have been rumored to be fans of Watson and they make Watson the first quarterback taken. With the Bills having the option to cut Tyrod Taylor next year, Watson can learn under Taylor for a year and be ready to start next year.

11.New Orleans Saints: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey

The Saints need help in the secondary and at the moment a trade for Malcolm Butler has not not happened. Rumors have been circulating that the Saints like Humphrey and would consider taking him at 11.

12.Cleveland Browns: Quarterback Mitch Trubisky

Hue Jackson gets his guy without having to use the number one pick or trading up. If this happens the Browns could have a bright future from their first round picks alone.

13.Arizona Cardinals: Wide Receiver Mike Williams

Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t have many years left in the league. Williams can step in right away and be option number two for quarterback Carson Palmer and then be option number one when Fitzgerald retires

14.Philadelphia Eagles: Cornerback Gareon Conley

Right now the Eagles best cornerback on the roster is last year’s seventh round Jalen Mills. Conley adds talent to a position that is in desperate need for it.

15.Indianapolis Colts: Running Back Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey gives the Colts a legitimate three down running back. Not only will he take pressure off quarterback Andrew Luck but he will also be an option for Luck on passing downs.

16.Baltimore Ravens: Offensive Tackle Cam Robinson

The Ravens offensive line gets even younger adding Robinson to play on the right side.

17.Washington Redskins: Defensive End/Linebacker Hassan Riddick

Probably the most versatile prospect falls to Washington. Riddick will pair up nicely with current outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith.

18.Tennessee Titans: Wide Receiver Corey Davis

There is questions about Davis medical history considering he hasn’t been able to workout for teams but the Titans need a big play wide receiver and Davis is two good to pass up.

19.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Running Back Dalvin Cook

Running back Doug Martin has been unreliable for the Buccaneers. Cook can pair with former teammate quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receivers Mike Evans and Desean Jackson and create an offense to be feared.

20.Denver Broncos: Offensive Tackle Ryan Ramczyk

The Broncos get some much needed help to their offensive line by adding the best offensive lineman in the draft

21.Detroit Lions: Defensive End Takkarist McKinley

The Lions struggled to get to the quarterback last year and McKinley is arguably the second best pass rusher in the draft.

22.Miami Dolphins: Guard Forrest Lamp

The Laremy Tunsil pick worked out for the Dolphins last year and they expect to move him to left tackle. Slide in Forrest Lamp and you give quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a solid offensive line to operate from

23.New York Giants: Tight End David Njoku

Nojoku gives the Giants a legitimate threat from the tight end position for the first time since Jeremy Shockey left town.

24.Oakland Raiders: Linebacker Reuben Foster

The slide for Foster finally ends but he lands with a team that is match made in Heaven for him. Foster will fit in perfectly with the Raiders defensive and make stopping the run easier for pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin

25.Houston Texans: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes

Even though the Texans missed out on the Tony Romo sweepstakes, they get their quarterback of the future. Head coach Bill O’Brien should be able to mold Mahomes into a good quarterback in the near future.

26.Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Kevin King

The Seahawks add another long body to an already long secondary. King who stands at 6’3” should be able to slide in opposite of cornerback Richard Sherman and hold his own in the Seahawks cover 3 scheme.

27.Kansas City Chiefs: Running Back Joe Mixon

Despite all the drama Mixon is selected in the first round. The Chiefs need a feature back after cutting Jamaal Charles and head coach Andy Reid should be able to handle the media circus that comes with drafting Mixon.

28.Dallas Cowboys: Defensive End Charles Harris

The Cowboys get an edge rusher to help strengthen their defense. Harris is a raw player only playing a couple of years of organized football but he displays the burst the Cowboys are looking for in their right defensive end position.

29.Green Bay Packers: Linebacker/ Defensive End TJ Watt

The Packers need a pass rusher with the retirement of Julius Peppers. Insert Watt the younger brother of JJ Watt who can provide a consistent pass rush opposite of linebacker Clay Matthews

30.Pittsburgh Steelers: Linebacker Zach Cunningham

Cunningham will be able to fill in and play right away alongside rising star linebacker Ryan Shazier and become a tackling machine duo for the Steelers.

31.Atlanta Falcons: Defensive End Taco Charlton

The Falcons add another pass rusher in order to help prevent what happened last year in the Super Bowl

32.New Orleans Saints: Linebacker Jarrad Davis

The Saints go defense again, this time adding a linebacker. Davis can play right away and help add stability to the up and down Saints defense.

Rowing Terms

 

If you’re new to rowing, this may help you understand a few words that some rowers may use when trying to set the pace and stay synchronized during practice or a race.

1. Drive

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Now this term does not entirely mean driving a car as most people think it might be. In rowing terms the drive is the stroke where the blade of the oar is pulled through the water. The drive is important because it sets the pace of the rower, which could deeply affect the race.

2. Missing Water

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Every felt like a drought has hit and you’re like “WE’RE MISSING WATER!!”? Well this is not the case. Missing water means that an individual is not getting the oar blade into the water soon enough causing an individual to miss part of the beginning of the stroke. This makes it hard for an individual to be in sync with the other team members which also offsets the pace of the synchronization.

3. Skying

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Now don’t get this mixed up with Sky Diving. This terms means that the oar is coming to a catch (beginning of the rowing stroke where the blade hits the water) or during recovery (the part of the stroke where the rower slowly comes up the slide to return the catch) with the blade too high above the surface of the water.

These terms are all detrimental to the rowers. There are many important factors that affect the drive, missing water, and skying. Posture, hand placement, and strength determines at what angle and rotation the oar should be in! Next is hand placement and strength. Lastly, the most important thing that a rower needs to get the perfect row is to have good coordination and team work with their fellow rowers! The Coxswain leads the team and it is up to the team to be in synch with each other to get that W!!!! Hopefully these terms helped you understand a little bit about what rowers think about when they’re rowing.