Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Why Miles Bridges Declining the Draft is a Good Thing

Last week, Miles Bridges said he would return to Michigan State for his sophomore year of college basketball. Spartan fans couldn’t be happier that their star freshman will be coming back.

He told fans at his press conference last week, “I have personal goals here. I want to win a national championship.” ESPN has had a few mock drafts which put him in the top 20 but the NBA will not see Bridges for another year. Here is why Bridges made the right decision to return to college:

1. Another Year with Coach Izzo

Coach Tom Izzo is unarguably a legendary coach, and his awards are mere evidence of his success. Izzo won a national championship in 2000, appeared in the Final Four seven times and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times. In 2016 he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with a .712 winning percentage in his career.

Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Tom Izzo speaks with guard Miles Bridges (22) during the first half against the Wichita State Shockers. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This is all to say that the guy knows his stuff. Bridges will continue to learn a lot about Izzo’s motto: “players play, but tough players win.”

Coach Izzo is also well known for scheduling a very tough non-conference schedule in preparation for March, which will only benefit Bridges and the rest of the Spartans.

Along with Coach Izzo, think about Draymond Green. He stayed at Michigan State for four years and is now having one heck of a career in the NBA.

Green has had a lot of success with the Golden State Warriors over the course of five seasons. He won a championship in 2015 and has the perk of a 15.3 million dollar salary for 2017.

Miles Bridges is a lot like Green with a 6’7” stature and strong explosive moves. Bridges looks more like a guard than Green did in his Michigan State days, however there are lots of similarities.

2. The College Experience Will Help Miles Bridges and his Draft Stock

Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Miles Bridges of Michigan State Spartans. Mandatory Credit to spartanavanue.com

This statement rides on a lot of “ifs” because it won’t be true unless Bridges really improves his sophomore season. The experience will help if he can produce better statistics, take his team further in the tournament and have more success. However, if all of these ifs become reality, his draft stock will increase.

Bridges had the potential to make millions but he turned it down for the opportunity to go to school and win a national title. That says a lot about him as a player and a person.

He also averaged 16.9 points per game, which is the highest for a freshman since Magic Johnson who averaged 17 points per game his freshman season.

A lot of people are worried about his draft stock declining if he stays another year. However, the risk of staying another year could put him in the top 5 for overall picks. Another year with Coach Izzo and more growth, could be the key to even greater success in the NBA.

3. NEXT YEar is looking even better

The Spartans will have a lot of returners for the 2017-2018 season. Cassius Winston and Nick Ward will be coming back, along with Joshua Langford and Tum Tum Nair Jr. for his senior season. Eight of the top ten players will be returning for next year. They will have something special if Coach Izzo can keep everyone healthy and working hard.

Just last week Jack Hoiberg, son of Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls head coach), said he would be walking onto Michigan State’s basketball team for the 2017-2018 season. Hoiberg will be joined by Jaren Jackson and Xavier Tillman, two power forwards who have signed with the Spartans. Jackson stands at 6’11, ranked 16th in the nation and will play good minutes for the Spartans next year. Tillman is 6’9 and 250 pounds, a little bit thicker than Jackson but will also add size to the Spartan roster for next year.

Bridges made the right decision to stay, despite the NBA being a very enticing choice. Teammates and fans of Spartan Basketball will get to watch him at the college level for one more year and next year could be big for the Spartans because of his decision.

 

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Georgetown Basketball

Patrick Ewing Reigns in the New Era of Georgetown Basketball

It’s a new era for Georgetown basketball; an era that has been a long time coming. Patrick Ewing, a Georgetown great, took over as head coach earlier this month and is looking to bring the program back to the glory and success that we are all used to.

Georgetown Basketball

Patrick Ewing in his press conference earlier this April (Photo/ Nick Wass)

John Thompson III was relieved of his head coaching duties earlier this March. The son of Georgetown great head coach John Thompson Jr. had been at the realm since 2004. Georgetown, with the hire of Ewing, keeps the head coaching job in the Georgetown family.

“If it was any other university, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Ewing said at his introductory news conference earlier this month. “But it’s my alma mater. It’s Georgetown. I’m a Hoya. I just thought it was a great opportunity to come back and try to rebuild the program.”

Ewing’s resume speaks for itself. He had three All-American seasons with the Hoyas, including three national championship appearances in 1982, 1984 and 1985. He captured the title in 1984. He basically put a small catholic school on the map as a college basketball powerhouse.

Ewing was then the first overall pick in the 1985 draft. He was drafted by the Knicks where he spent 15 of his 17 years in the NBA. He put the Knicks back into serious contention for a championship.

He was an 11-time All-Star and calibrated a Hall-of-Fame career. He spent the next 15 years after his retirement in 2002 as an assistant coach for the Wizards under Doug Collins, the Houston rockets under Jeff Van Gundy, the Orlando Magic under Stan Van Gundy and most recently Charlotte Hornets under Steve Clifford.

Despite the impeccable resume, Ewing still has a tall task in front of him.

The Hoyas have missed the NCAA tournament three times in the last four years. They made it to the Final Four in John Thompson III’s third season, but have only made it past the round of 32 once since then.

For a program that has the 31st most wins in college basketball history out of the 347 Division I teams, the Hoyas haven’t seen that type of wining mentality in the past few years. They are looking to regain the top ranks of college basketball with Ewing in charge.

After spending the past 15 years in the NBA as an assistant, the main concern with Ewing was recruiting. As an assistant coach in the NBA or any coach in the NBA, you don’t recruit. You don’t have to ask players to come play for you because they get paid to play for you.

Recruiting is one of the biggest parts to college basketball and is essential in rebuilding a program or keeping it successful. In the past 30 years that Ewing has been in college, it might be safe to say recruiting has gotten a little different.

Georgetown Basketball

Patrick Ewing and coach John Thompson Jr. after their National Championship win in 1984 (AP Photo)

Ewing doesn’t see that as a dilemma.

“What I’m going to do is put around myself a great staff who has the ability to go out and recruit and teach me all the things I need to know until I get up to speed in terms of recruiting,” Ewing said. “But I don’t see anything different. It’s all about going out and selling your program. I think that I’m a great salesman.”

Ewing knows he has work to do with kids in high school who have probably never seen him play. “Maybe they know me from Space Jam,” he joked.

All the support is in place for Ewing to succeed. Ewing gets the next best thing after waiting years for an NBA head coaching job. There is no doubt from his supporters that he and the program will succeed.

“He is certainly used to the pressure and he is totally ready as a coach,” Stan Van Gundy said. “The adjustment will be recruiting. That’s the challenge that will determine his success. He will do a great job coaching.”

 

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National Championship

North Carolina vs. Gonzaga: The Game That We Wanted and Needed to See

This year’s national championship may not feature Kansas, Duke or Kentucky. It may not have the potential top pick in the NBA draft and it may not be the championship that sports fans wanted to see. However, it’s the championship that we needed to see.

National Championship

UNC looks to avenge their lose in last years National Championship game afer a last second shot by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins (Photo/Greg Nelson).

It’s the championship that we as kids all dream of playing in. We may not be participating in it, but we get to witness it. Two teams with everything to prove, chasing their dreams of being a national champion.

Granted, both teams are in two very different scenarios. On one side you have UNC coming off of potentially the most devastating loss in national championship history last year. On the other hand you have a Gonzaga team looking to make school history and solidify themselves in college basketball history.

UNC is largely the same team that understandably went sobbing into the locker room after last year’s national championship. After Kris Jenkins of Villanova hit what many to believe to be the most iconic shot in NCAA championship game history, UNC was left devastated. We saw Villanova cutting down the nets, not UNC.

They’re not the only one’s who believe they have something to prove.

Gonzaga’s basketball program has been criticized for not playing in a tough conference. Those on the east coast, who don’t get to see them play on a normal basis, believe the program could be bad for basketball. Now after years and years of Gonzaga disappointment in the NCAA tournament, they are finally here.

A league dominated by the Duke’s and Kentucky’s one-and-done players, UNC and Gonzaga tend to do it a little bit differently.

UNC has six returning key players, all upperclassmen, and all apart of last year’s team. Instead of dwelling on the past, Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson continue to look forward.

When asked about last year’s national championship, Pinson said, “It keeps giving us ammo, it makes us want to get here again and again.”

National Championship

Gonzaga players celebrate after their Final Four victory over South Carolina Saturday (Photo/ David J. Phillip).

Gonzaga, on the other hand, has their own motivation factor. Despite the motivation of making school history, the Bulldogs look to their own past for a little motivation.

Gonzaga has players from all over the globe, including Przemek Karnowski from Poland, freshman Rui Hachimura from Japan and Killian Tillie, who is a freshman from France. In order to stay in contact, what else would a bunch of young men in this day in age do? Start a group chat.

Some of it’s inside jokes most people wouldn’t understand. Other times it’s just to stay in touch. It is also for motivation. For instance, junior guard and the leader of this Bulldog team, Nigel Williams-Goss, posted the infamous video of sobbing Adam Morrison after Gonzaga’s loss to UCLA in the Sweet 16 in 2006 and simply wrote “Not this year fellas.”

The tiny Jesuit school versus an all powerful college basketball franchise, it sounds like a David and Goliath scenario. But it’s not.

These are the two best teams in college basketball, and we get it for the last game of college basketball this year. North Carolina is 40 minutes away from redemption. Gonzaga is 40 minutes away from program history. We can’t ask for anything better than that.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

We Just Witnessed the Greatest Sports Year Ever

Sports are cool, and they’re even cooler when a season ends with fireworks. Thankfully, in the last cycle of season championships, we were able to witness the greatest sports year ever.

From the 2016 college basketball National Championship, to the latest Super Bowl, none of the championships have disappointed. Each of them saw incredible comebacks or last-second scores. As fans, we are blessed to be able to watch all of these games unfold.

That said, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce in the previous year’s amazing culminations.

*Of the four major sports in the United States, and the two major college sports, only one doesn’t make the list. Sorry, NHL fans, the 2016 Stanley Cup was good, but not great enough to be mentioned on the list.*

Super Bowl LI

It seemed as though the states to the most northeast in the U.S. were rooting for New England, and the rest of the population became Falcons fans for one day.

Maybe it’s because Atlanta was foreign to the big stage. It seemed so weird seeing a team like Atlanta playing in the Super Bowl since we had become accustomed to seeing either Seattle, Green Bay, or New York represent the NFC for more than half of the Super Bowls played since 2006.

Greatest Sports Year

In Super Bowl LI, Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does- win Super Bowls. (Photo: Getty Images)

Maybe Atlanta became America’s team for one day simply because of the hatred spewed towards New England. The Patriots have made seven Super Bowls since 2001, and won five. New England has also been to the AFC Conference Championship game 11 times since 2001. Picking New England to make it to the Super Bowl has become routine for many NFL pundits because that’s just what they do.

Nevertheless, this Super Bowl just felt different. New England was the heavyweight that everyone had seen win before. Atlanta was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the popular vote was in favor of the newbies.

No one saw Atlanta jumping out to a 21-3 lead at the half and a 28-3 lead as the third quarter waned. At this point, many fans just wanted to see a close game.

We should be careful what we wish for.

The Patriots scored a touchdown late in the third, and continued to mount a comeback in the fourth.

The final quarter was the equivalent to slowly watching a bottle of soda being shaken. The game continued to feel closer and closer, and before long, New England put so much pressure back into the game that the contest exploded to help make the greatest sports year we’ve seen.

In overtime, it was inevitable. Not only did the Patriots have momentum, but they also had history. It felt impossible for New England to lose the game. Coming back from a 25-point deficit and pushing the game into the Super Bowl’s first ever overtime? That’s just not a game New England loses.

Because of the incredible comeback by those darn Patriots, Super Bowl LI capped what was the greatest sports year of all time.

2017 College Football National Championship

In a narrative much the same as the Super Bowl, Alabama took on Clemson to be called college football’s undisputed champion. In this game’s case, there was no insurmountable lead that ended up being toppled. The game was tight the whole way, and was never separated by more than two possessions.

Clemson found itself down by two possessions twice, and each time it seemed like Bama was gonna keep Bama-ing. At one point, ESPN’s Football Power Index gave Alabama over a 90 percent chance to win the game.

But this is the greatest sports year we’ve ever seen, so hopefully you’re sensing a theme.

Clemson came back, led by crisp drives from Deshaun Watson. Watson may not have won the Heisman, but at least he got himself a ring. Watson completed a two-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left in the game to clinch a victory for the Tigers.

2016 World Series

Where do we start in this event? So many storylines developed by the time the series was all finished. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals after being down 3-1. Once the Cleveland Indians went up 3-1 on the Cubs, there was no way that would be blown, right?

Maybe Cleveland fans got what they deserved for making fun of the Warriors. #WellActually when a city has to root for the Browns, it deserves no other bad omens. The Indians didn’t catch that vibe.

Greatest Sports Year

Rajai Davis hit the most memorable home run in recent years. (Photo: FX Tribune)

Sure, our very own Matt Hagan knew the Cubs would win it all. However, since no one else did, the 3-1 series lead all but wrapped up the World Series.

The Cubs almost lost it. They had a 6-3 lead with less than two innings left to play. With the lead cut to two, Rajai Davis sent the world into hysteria with the craziest turn of events the World Series had ever seen.

Chicago had it all but won, yet in two seconds Cleveland was right back in it. A ball traveled faster than offseason Rob Gronkowski on the way to the club into the left field seats, while it seemed like it was in slow motion, even as slow as Tom Brady running the 40-yard dash in fashionable yet exotic khaki shorts.

Every baseball kid dreams of coming to bat in the tenth inning of the World Series game seven, and the Cubs had that chance. Chicago scored two, and took an 8-6 lead to end the top half of the inning.

Rajai Davis came back up in the tenth, and even delivered an RBI. The Indians didn’t have enough in them, as they fell short, 8-7. However, it still was one of the greatest World Series of all time.

2016 NBA Finals

The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead, and that remains a joke on social media to this day. When you think of Steph Curry, you think of triples galore, an outspoken wife and the fact that he was the MVP on a team that for the first time ever blew a 3-1 lead.

LeBron James put on the greatest performance of all time in a Finals series in the most historically-charged Finals series of all time. Kyrie Irving hit the most clutch shot of his life to clinch the win for Cleveland- in Golden State.

The 2016 NBA Finals will be a landmark for the NBA’s modern era. With super teams becoming more and more evident, this series will forever be known as the time the NBA’s Goliath was taken out.

2016 College Basketball National Championship

Marcus Paige was supposed to be the hero. He hit one of the greatest three-pointers you will ever see. Double-clutch layups are hard enough, but a double-clutch three is just stupid good.

With Paige’s shot, North Carolina tied Villanova, 74-74, with 4.7 seconds left. At that point, viewers of the game had to pick their jaws up from the floor. The shot was incredible.

But what Kris Jenkins did carried more water. A deep triple as time expired sent Villanova into absolute elation.

The Greatest Sports Year

Who knew that game would turn into the precursor to what was to come? With all the great games that happened in the past year, college basketball’s National Championship was my favorite. Everyone has their own favorite, and the games are probably split pretty evenly across the board.

This was a year that we will tell our children and grandchildren about. It was a year that probably will never be topped. We should all feel fortunate that we were alive to take it all in.

If anyone can make a DVD of all these games in it’s entirety, I will throw my money at you. So someone please do that.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Are You #ALLIN or Do You #ROLLTIDE?

Alabama and Clemson battle for the championship. Here's a breakdown. PictureCourtesy Sporting News

(Alabama and Clemson battle for the championship. Here’s a breakdown. PictureCourtesy Sporting News)

This time next week we will know who is the National Champion of College Football. The lowly, underrated Clemson Tigers come into the matchup at 14-0, trying to become the first 15-0 team in college football history. It will also be the school’s second national championship.

Then there is the pride of the SEC, the Alabama Crimson Tide, trying to make up for their blunder in the first National Championship Playoff a year against Ohio State. And who do I think will win come January 11th?

And I am rolling with the…Clemson Tigers! I am #ALLIN

Ever since the Heisman Trophy ceremony, I have sensed this matchup coming between these two teams. The #1 team versus the #2 team. This matchup reminds me of a matchup that happened 10 years ago, in the greatest college football game ever, University of Southern California vs University of Texas. Clemson played the role of Texas and Bama played the role of USC.

Now to the actual matchup on January 11th. Clemson’s offense is exactly what Bama has been recruiting against ever since they got beat by Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in 2012. Since then, they still haven’t defended good dual threat QBs well. Deshaun Watson is definitely the best dual threat QB Bama has played since Manziel, maybe the best. Early this year, Bama played two teams with really good dual threat QBs, Chad Kelly of Ole Miss (he beat Bama) and Joshua Dobbs of Tennessee (lost to Bama by 5 points). Even in the 2014 season Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State Bulldogs came within five points of knocking of Alabama. MSU was plagued by Prescott’s three interceptions and an early safety.

The only thing Clemson’s defense needs is rest. Clemson’s defense, that does not sub out much on the front seven, was one of the nation’s best in the early part of the year. Then they played ten games straight with no bye. Of course a defense will bend but this defense never broke. A defense that gets after the passer at a high volume (with a banged up Shaq Lawson) and also a defense with a freakishly long and talented secondary that plays the pass very well is always dangerous.

Jacob Coker and the Alabama receivers against Clemson’s secondary…I take Clemson’s secondary 11 times out of 10 and if Coker can play better than Baker Mayfield, I’ll eat crow. The key matchup for the Clemson Tigers is Jordan Leggett, tight end, or slot receivers, like, Hunter Renfrow on the Bama linebackers. These two positions can pose threats to the Bama linebackers. If they want to check these two weapons they might need to use safeties, but by using safeties it can open up the run game of Clemson or the deep ball.

According to Pick Six Previews, Clemson is one of only seven teams to have two 1000 yard rushers this season. Those two Tigers are Wayne Gallman and Deshaun Watson.

If Clemson wins it will be the second national championship for the school, their first since the 1981 season.

It will also be good for the conference. This will be the ACC’s second national champion in three years, both coming against the SEC (Jameis Winston’s Florida State Seminoles over the Auburn Tigers). According to Larry Williams, if Dabo Swinney beats Alabama, this will be his 8th win over a head coach with a national championship. The seven head coaches are Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Les Miles, Jimbo Fisher, Bobby Bowden, Gene Chizik, and Steve Spurrier. Will Saban be his 8th?

The three things Bama can do that can give Clemson fits is to run the ball, feature their tight end, O.J. Howard, and the punt return game. These two matchups for Bama can tilt the scale into their favor.

Derrick Henry, of course, is a monster of a running back and when Henry is rolling Bama will be hard to stop. But I think the game lies on the shoulders of Coker and the hands of Bama’s tight end Howard. I expect Clemson to dial up a lot of blitzs and a lot of man to man and 2 deep safeties. So a lot of Howard on Ben Boulware and the Clemson linebackers…matchup goes to O.J. Howard. If Clemson wants to use safeties against Howard it lives them vulnerable to the deep passing threat we saw against Michigan State or to the run game when they choose to do that.

With Cyrus Jones back there returning punts, he can change the game. He is the biggest X-Factor Alabama has. It should be a great matchup since Clemson ranks 36th in punt returns with only 40% of the opposition’s punt returns going five yards or more, according to ESPN Staff Writer Jared Shanker.

Another big edge for Bama is that classes for spring semester do not start until two days after the national championship game, while Clemson’s class start five days before the game. This means the Tide will have unlimited time to practice until the game, while Clemson will have limitations on their practice time.

If Alabama wins, Nick Saban will get his 100th win at Alabama and his fourth title national championship as a head coach, third national championship at Alabama.

This will be a game that will be one for the ages. These are the two best teams in the nation and it will be a battle in the Glendale, Arizona on the January 11th. One prediction I know that will hold up is one team will be celebrating and the other team will be asking, “What more could have I done?”