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Champions League: Lewandowski sets up Bayern, Barca clash

first_imgRobert Lewandowski bagged his Champions League-leading 12th and 13th goals this season as Bayern Munich set up a quarter-final clash with Barcelona after a 4-1 home win over Chelsea in Saturday’s last 16 second leg.Leading 3-0 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge in February before the coronavirus pandemic halted the competition, treble-chasing Bayern underlined their dominance to progress 7-1 on aggregate. The Bundesliga and German Cup champions will meet Barcelona next Friday in Lisbon for a place in the semi-finals.Lewandowski netted a penalty with just 10 minutes gone at the Allianz Arena.Winger Ivan Perisic then doubled Bayern’s lead before England striker Tammy Abraham tapped home a loose ball to give Chelsea brief hope.However, replacement midfielder Corentin Tolisso put the result beyond doubt when he fired home a Lewandowski pass with 14 minutes to go.This was a world-class display from Lewandowski who played a hand in all four goals, adding a late header to his pair of assists. After a ruthless display in the first leg, Bayern picked up where they left off six months ago.They took the lead when Serge Gnabry, who scored twice in London, spotted the run into the box of Lewandowski, who was tripped by Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero.The Poland striker was initially flagged offside, but VAR ruled otherwise.Caballero was booked and Lewandowski converted the resulting penalty for his 12th goal in seven Champions League games.He turned provider on 24 minutes as Bayern kept up the pressure. After Mateo Kovacic lost possession near the halfway line, the ball was worked to Lewandowski who squared for Perisic to fire home.Former Bayern target Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was linked with a move to Munich at the start of the season, beat Manuel Neuer on 28 minutes only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for an offside.However, Chelsea pulled a goal back just before half-time.Bayern goalkeeper Neuer could only parry a shot by Hudson-Odoi and Abraham tapped home the loose ball on 44 minutes to make it 2-1 at the break.RelatedPosts Bayern Munich fans undergo Super Cup coronavirus tests Vidal lands in Milan to complete move from Barca to Inter Mane double eases Liverpool to win over 10-man Chelsea Mason Mount forced Neuer into a low save early in the second half, while Bayern lost defender Jerome Boateng to a leg injury with an hour gone.He was replaced by Niklas Suele as Perisic made way for Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho.Bayern coach Hansi Flick also changed both defensive midfielders, Thiago Alcantara and Joshua Kimmich, for the final 20 minutes.It paid off two-fold as moments later Tolisso, on for Alcantara, made it 3-1 when he turned home Lewandowski’s pass on 76 minutes.Alvaro Odriozola, on for Kimmich, then supplied the silky cross on 84 minutes which Lewandowski headed home for his 53rd goal in 44 games this season.Tags: Bayern MunichChampions LeagueChelseaFC BarcelonaRobert Lewandowskilast_img read more

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McDowell profits amid WGC carnage

first_img First-round leader Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan will head into the weekend at the top of the leaderboard. McDowell was level with the card, and four other players, including countryman Rory McIlroy and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, as the former US Open champion showed almost peerless control in the tricky conditions. McDowell steadily combined two birdies with just a single bogey as Donaldson – who shot a round-best 70 – and American Chris Kirk were the only others to pick up shots during the round. Former world number one McIlroy was notably sat level with McDowell on the leaderboard after he fought back after initially appearing like he might go the same way as his higher-profile rivals. The 24-year-old, who lost a play-off at the Honda Classic last weekend, went out in 40, but recovered after the turn with three birdies to signed for a two-over 74. Limiting the damage was the primary concern for every player as the new-look Miami course bared its teeth. Remarkably more than 100 balls found the water during the second round with Woods and Scott the most significant casualties. Both resumed their weather-delayed first rounds in the morning, and both made nightmare starts. Strong winds blew the scoring of nearly every player into the red – most notably the world’s top two Tiger Woods and Adam Scott – with McDowell’s one-under round of 71 enough to lift him a shot off the lead. The Northern Irishman trailed a quartet of Americans, who shared the lead on one under, and were the only players to reach halfway with a minus score. Graeme McDowell was one of just three players to make up ground during a brutal second round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship as the re-designed Blue Monster course claimed some notable scalps in Doral. Scott dropped six shots in his first five holes – including a pair of double bogeys – while Woods leaked four shots in as many holes. Things hardly improved when they began their second rounds either, but both battled their way to ensure they just asurvived the cut. Scott’s 73 left him on four over, while Woods is a stroke further back after he went around in the same score. Defending champion Woods was able to offer one highlight in an otherwise dour round, as he sunk a monster 91-foot putt for birdie – the longest on the PGA Tour for five years – at the par-three fourth. Phil Mickelson, another winner at this course before the changes, also had to grit his teeth to make the weekend after a hat-trick of double bogeys at the start of his round. The left-hander immediately fought back with two of his five birdies in a round of 75 that left him five over for the tournament. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Dembele – The best is yet to come

first_imgMousa Dembele believes the best is yet to come at Tottenham, even suggesting they are capable of challenging for the title in the coming years. The halcyon days of Champions League football under Harry Redknapp have become an increasingly distant memory in recent years, with big-name arrivals unable to secure Spurs’ place back at the top table. Things are looking up once again at White Hart Lane, though, with a trip to Wembley for the Capital One Cup on the horizon, as well as a realistic chance of finishing in the top four. “Of course it is a big compliment and I think everybody in this team wants to be at the top of their game. “Me as well, but I am not thinking about other things. “Every day I focus on being as sharp as possible and with this manager as well, training is different than we’re used to. It’s much harder. “I think it is a good thing for us and I think it is easier to develop then to become a better player. “I know I can do better. I think we played well today but I think even the team can do better because we know we have a lot of talent, a lot of experience. We have everything here.” Dembele certainly appears to be enjoying himself at Spurs right now, impressing in the role of number 10 behind the “unbelievable” Kane. He praised head coach Mauricio Pochettino for bringing a “positive energy” to the camp, while saying the squad depth at his disposal keeps everyone on their toes. Dembele appears to now be embracing the challenge brought by the abundance of quality in the Spurs squad, having not so long ago suggested he was struggling to cope with his lack of game time. “It was not frustrating,” he said. “It is just never fun as everyone wants to play, but you can see the manager rotates a lot because we have a very good squad, a big squad. “At the moment, we are playing well as a team so I think it is something nice for everyone. “It is a different thing if you don’t play and you’re used to playing. “Now, I know how it is like this as well and the manager gave me a chance and I will do everything to continue like this. “It is easy as well with a team like this, playing incredibly well, but, yeah, I think everybody has to fight and everybody gets a chance in this team.” Key to that have been standout performances from the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris, as well as the fact Spurs appear to finally have ridden themselves of their inability to compete against the Barclays Premier League’s best. Tuesday’s trip to Liverpool will be another test of that after a north London derby win Dembele described as the “total package” – a defeat of Arsenal, he suggests, is the tip of the iceberg. Asked if this Spurs team, should they be kept together, are capable of challenging for the title in the coming years, the Belgian said: “Yeah, you see as well how the club works now, the feeling that they want to keep a lot of players here. “They extended the contract as well, so it is a very positive thing because the players that you saw now that have extended their contract are very good players, young players as well, who in the future will make massive progression. “It is a very good thing for everyone. Everybody knows if the team is together for a long time, it gets easier and easier.” Things are certainly looking up for Spurs and, on a personal level, Dembele, who has recently shown flashes of his undoubted potential. His inability to produce that on a more regular basis frustrated former Spurs coach Les Ferdinand, who believes the Belgium midfielder could be good enough to follow Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. “As a player, I don’t think about that,” Dembele said, when those comments were put to him. Press Associationlast_img read more

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West Ham deny Klopp move

first_img Reports emanated on Tuesday that West Ham had seen an audacious approach rebuffed by the Dortmund coach – talk vice-chairman Brady rejected out of hand. “It is just nonsense,” she told Sky Sports News. “Sam is the manager, we have talked to him about sitting down at the end of the season, which we will do. “We have to see what he wants to do going forwards. That’s how these things work. “What sort of money does he want to invest in players? What positions does he want? Those are the conversation you always have, typically, at the end of the season and we make an arrangement going forwards. That’s still our intention.” Few expect Allardyce to still be at the helm next season, with bookmakers making Sunderland a more likely destination than Upton Park. The 60-year-old’s contract expires in the summer and Brady insists no decision has yet been made on his future. “I think we have, as a board, always made it clear that we sit down with Sam at the end of every season,” she said. “We’ve done that since he has joined us and we’ve done that when his contract has run out before. Premier League clubs were put on alert last week by the news that the highly-rated German will end a seven-year spell as Borussia Dortmund manager this summer. Klopp was immediately installed as favourite to replace the under-fire Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City, although they would not be the only club looking to bring him in. West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has hit out at “nonsense” suggestions that the club had approached Jurgen Klopp about replacing Sam Allardyce. “So nothing has changed in that respect. I think our performances – there has been one or two recent ones that haven’t been great – overall have definitely improved. “The team have done very well, we haven’t been able to get the results we wanted but the performances have been good. “Sam has had a good season, we’ve had a few recent disappointing results – he would be more disappointed than anyone. “But, overall, the relationship with Sam is good. He has done what we have asked of him.” West Ham sit 10th in the standings after a bright start to the campaign petered out, with Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Manchester City extending their poor recent run. The Hammers have won only two league games since the turn of the year, with Brady recently saying Allardyce’s side are “underachieving”. “I like him,” she added. “I get on very well with him, we have a good relationship. “He gets on with his job, he comes to me when he needs something. “He is very collaborative, he has a very clear vision about what he wants to achieve and I have no complaints about working him at all.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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DOJ to treat antifa involvement in protests as domestic terrorism

first_imgAttorney General Bill Barr said in a statement Sunday that the Justice Department will use its network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to identify the “criminal organizers and instigators” of violence during the George Floyd protests, including antifa and similar groups.Barr said DOJ has evidence that antifa and others are behind the rioting. He said “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”Attorney General William P. Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray, U.S. Marshals Director Donald W. Washington, BOP Director Michael Carvajal, ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo, and DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea held a virtual press conference at the Department of Justice on Thursday.last_img read more

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The Latest: Former Madrid president dies from coronavirus

first_imgFasel cited numerous challenges facing officials, ranging from health directives in place limiting attendance to travel bans making it difficult for nations to send their teams. Another issue was players lacking practice time, with most of world’s hockey leagues having either indefinitely suspended or canceled their seasons.On Monday, the NHL announced it will wait 45 days before it can provide guidance on when teams can potential reopen practice.“It’s really scary,” said Fasel, who lives in Switzerland. “Europe is just collapsed. It’s really a strange feeling. Our neighbors yesterday, the federal counsel decided to close all the restaurants and everything. It’s like war.”___The owners of the Boston Bruins say they have established a $1.5 million fund for employees of the team and TD Garden who have lost work because of the suspension of the NHL season. Milan says that Paolo and Daniel Maldini “are both well and have already completed two weeks at home without contact with others. They will now remain in quarantine until clinically recovered, as per the medical protocols outlined by the health authorities.”More than a dozen Serie A players have tested positive.___Paulo Dybala is the third Juventus player to test positive for COVID-19.Juventus says that the Argentina soccer playmaker is in “voluntary home isolation (in Italy) and he is asymptomatic and fine.” March 21, 2020 Seb Coe, the president of World Athletics, said the Olympic world is managing the coronavirus day by day and “increasingly hour by hour.” With qualifying events being disrupted at a high rate, Coe says the level playing field is in jeopardy and if that’s lost, then so is the integrity of the competition. He says more meetings are set for next week to determine next steps.The Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 to August 9.___ The president of Mexico’s Liga MX soccer league has tested positive for coronavirus. League President Enrique Bonilla said in a statement Friday that he doesn’t have serious symptoms but will remain in isolation and keep up with the situation of Mexican first-division soccer. League matches were suspended this week until further notice to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Mexico has yet to declare legal bans on public gatherings but has encouraged citizens to maintain a healthy distance in crowded places.___A member of the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions operations department has tested positive for COVID-19. Dybala tweets that both he and his girlfriend Oriana Sabatini both tested positive but that “luckily we are in perfect conditions.”Juventus previously announced that defender Daniele Rugani and midfielder Blaise Matuidi tested positive for the coronavirus.___A second Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for COVID-19. The player was part of the recent road trip that included NHL games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Associated Press The Lions issued a statement Friday night announcing they were made aware of an employee who has the coronavirus. The person, who has not been named, is currently at home in isolation. The team says the employee was last at club headquarters on March 13. The team remains in constant communication with doctors to determine the best course of action for ensuring the safety of other employees who have been in contact with the infected person.___The IIHF Council has confirmed that the 2020 Ice Hockey World Championship scheduled to take place in Zurich and Lausanne has been cancelled because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.The decision to cancel the tournament didn’t come as a surprise after IIHF President René Fasel acknowledged the likelihood of that happening following an IIHF executive committee conference call Tuesday. The Latest: Former Madrid president dies from coronavirus The USOPC leadership has been in agreement with the IOC, that it’s too soon to make any decisions regarding postponing the games.___Brazil’s Olympic Committee has called for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be postponed until 2021. The Brazilian body said in a statement published on Saturday that the decision is a necessity due to the seriousness of the pandemic and “the consequent difficulty for athletes to keep their best competitive level.”It also said that it continues to “trust in the International Olympic Committee.” Brazil organized the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, the first in South America. Marseille President Frank McCourt wrote to reassure the French soccer club’s employees after they were put on temporary, technical layoffs.“I am taking a few minutes to make sure you and your families are well,” McCourt said. “We are going through this difficult time together and we’re seeing governments getting better and better organized.”Marseille and other top-tier clubs have started putting players on temporary, technical layoffs, which translates to a cut in pay of 16 percent with the state picking up a portion of that to a monthly maximum of 5,400 euros ($5,810). A player earning 40,000 euros ($43,000) net per month would receive 39,000 (about $42,000).Therefore its impact is greater on those on the highest salaries, in terms of lost revenue. Sanz had been in intensive care since the beginning of the week while being treated for the virus.Sanz presided over Madrid from 1995 until 2000, leading the club to two European titles, a Spanish league title and a Spanish Super Cup title. Under Sanz, Madrid ended a 32-year drought in Europe by winning its seventh European trophy in 1998.___The leader of track’s international federation says there’s no need to hold the Tokyo Olympics at any cost and a decision about the future of the games “may become very obvious very quickly in the coming days and weeks.” A pair of smaller stakes — the Cutler Bay and the Sanibel Island — will be run for $100,000 each, down from the originally planned purse of $125,000. The Orchid and the Sand Springs were unchanged, both offering $100,000 purses.In all, Gulfstream’s stakes purses that day will be $1.55 million, down from $1.95 million as originally planned.Gulfstream was dark Friday while updating its safety protocols in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The track in Hallandale Beach, Florida resumed live racing on Saturday even while several top jockeys were choosing not to race because of health concerns.Gulfstream has closed live racing to all fans since March 13. It closed its casino on March 16.___ A player earning 300,000 euros net per month will only get 252,000 euros from the club plus 5,400 euros from the state for a monthly loss of around 42,600 euros per month. If the suspension lasts a year, this would add up to about half a million euros per year.___The U.S. track federation added its name to a growing chorus of calls to postpone the Tokyo Games because of the coronavirus. In a letter to the CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel urged the federation to advocate for the postponement of the Games, which are to start July 24. USATF joins USA Swimming, which sent a similar letter to the USOPC on Thursday. The Bruins were the last team in the league to commit to taking care of part-time and game-day employees.According to a statement from the team, the Jacobs family would help workers “who will be financially burdened if the six remaining regular season Bruins games are not played.”The NHL suspended its season on March 12 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.___Even though his side could potentially reach the Champions League quarterfinals, Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas wants the French league to take priority. Matches in both competitions are currently suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.“If we want to save the (French) league we must absolutely finish before June 30,” Aulas told RTL radio. “You have to make choices, be brave. Drop the Champions League, the (domestic) cup finals and international matches. Concentrate only on the (French) league.”Aulas added: “I want the league to finish. Even in empty stadiums.”Lyon leads Italian champion Juventus 1-0 from the first leg of their last-16 match in the Champions League on Feb. 26. The return leg in Turin has not been played because of the outbreak.___ AC Milan great Paolo Maldini has tested positive for COVID-19.Milan says that the 51-year-old Maldini, who is the Italian club’s technical director, “became aware of contact with a person who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and began to display symptoms of the virus himself.”Milan adds that Maldini was “administered with a swab test” on Friday and the result came back positive.Paolo Maldini retired from playing in 2009 after helping Milan to five European Cup and Champions League titles and seven Serie A championships.The club says that Maldini’s 18-year-old son, Daniel, who recently made his Serie A debut for Milan, also tested positive. The total number of people on the trip was 52, including players, staff, media, guests and flight crew. Of those on the trip, 44 have shown no symptoms, eight have been tested, and two positive results were received. The team is awaiting more results from tests given over the past three days.Everyone on the California trip was instructed to self-quarantine on March 13. The team says it is actively monitoring the situation and following all appropriate and professional guidelines.___Gulfstream Park has dropped purses for its seven stakes races on Florida Derby day by 20.5%, saying the changes were necessitated by the loss of on-track handle and revenue from the track’s casino.The biggest hit went to the Florida Derby itself, which was to have a $1 million purse and now will be run next Saturday for $750,000. Purses for the Gulfstream Park Oaks and the Kitten’s Joy were trimmed by $50,000 apiece, now set to be run for $200,000. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died Saturday from the new coronavirus, his family said. He was 76. ___Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says he has been self-isolating for more than a week after meeting people who later tested positive for the new coronavirus.Hamilton was at a charity event in London on March 4 also attended by actor Idris Elba and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian prime minister. Both were later found to have the virus.In a message on social media, Hamilton says he’s shown “zero symptoms” but has been isolating himself from other people ever since March 13, when the Australian Grand Prix was called off.Hamilton said that “I did speak to my doctor and double checked if I needed to take a test but, the truth is there is a limited amount of tests available and there are people who need it more than I do.” ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6last_img read more

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MBB : Syracuse vs. Morgan State preview

first_imgAfter its win over Iona on Saturday, No. 5 Syracuse (11-0) will get no rest as Morgan State (4-4) comes to town for a 7 p.m. matchup in the Carrier Dome. It is part of three games in five days for the Orange.The Bears have won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference two seasons in a row, making two consecutive NCAA Tournament trips in the process. And in his postgame press conference Saturday, SU head coach Jim Boeheim stressed the importance of not taking the Bears lightly, using recent nonconference slip-ups of Tennessee, Illinois and UCLA as examples. ‘The bottom line is it doesn’t matter who you play,’ Boeheim said. ‘There are a lot of good teams, a lot of good basketball players.’Here’s a look at how SU matches up with Morgan State:POINT GUARDAdvertisementThis is placeholder textScoop Jardine6-2, 190, JR.13.0 PPG, 6.2 APGLarry Bastfield5-11, 185, JR.3.9 PPG, 3.4 APGJardine is on a streak of four straight games with double figures. He has shot the ball better in the last three contests.SHOOTING GUARDBrandon Triche6-4, 205, SO.9.1 PPG, 3.5 APGAric Brooks6-6, 210, JR.9.6 PPG, 5.6 RPGMorgan State is the best matchup size-wise of the weaker nonconference opponents SU has faced. But Triche seems to be hitting his stride in the past two games.SMALL FORWARDKris Joseph6-7, 210, JR.13.8 PPG, 5.1 RPGDeWayne Jackson6-8, 210, SO.15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPGJackson has had outbursts of 31 and 24 points this season. He’ll be a tough matchup for Joseph, who just had second 20-plus-point game of the season against Iona.POWER FORWARDRick Jackson6-9 240, SR.13.5 PPG, 12.1 RPGKevin Thompson6-9 240, JR.14.0 PPG, 9.4 RPGFor the second straight game, Jackson will face the opposing team’s best player. In this case, he matches up against a player with similar size and abilities. Thompson can score and rebound inside, and should play a key role in this game.CENTERFab Melo7-0 244, FR.2.1 PPG, 2.1 RPGRodney Stokes6-10 225, JR.5.0 PPG, 2.8 RPGJust days after only playing only five minutes against Iona, Melo will likely see limited action again due to a sore Achilles tendon. But regardless of who is playing for SU, Stokes is likely to struggle against Melo and Baye Moussa Keita inside.COACHESJim Boeheim840-293, 34 seasonsTodd Bozeman149-89, 8 seasonsBozeman led California to the Sweet 16 back in 1993, and has led Morgan State to conference championships and the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons. Boeheim, on the other hand, continues to climb the NCAA’s chart in all-time coaching victories. FORTUNE COOKIE: BEAR-ly a contest STAT TO KNOWIn the last five games, Dion Waiters has averaged 11.5 points off the bench and scored in double figures four times. BIG NUMBER: 59.3The percentage Syracuse shot in its 83-77 win over Iona Saturday, its best mark of the season thus far. BEAT WRITER PREDICTIONSAndrew L JohnSyracuse 82, Morgan State 67Though it can’t seem to get motivated in these type of games, SU survives again.Brett LoGiuratoSyracuse 79, Morgan State 58Rick Jackson vs. Kevin Thompson will be an interesting matchup to watch in this one. But SU prevails easily. Published on December 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm FREE THROWS• For Morgan State, Monday’s game will be the first of two consecutive against Big East opponents. The Bears will travel to take on Louisville next Monday.• Morgan State forward Kevin Thompson was fourth in the nation with 11.9 rebounds per game last season. Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentslast_img read more

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MBB : Syracuse zone faces tough challenge against talented Ohio State frontcourt

first_imgBOSTON – The zone defense is a distant concept to those who don’t play it. Opponents preparing to play the Syracuse 2-3 zone tend to chuckle when asked about it.Teams like Wisconsin and Ohio State do not entertain the thought of playing zone. It works for Syracuse, but not for them.Ohio State superstar Jared Sullinger, for instance, cannot comprehend defending an area, rather than a player.‘I know you guard an area but sometimes I kind of get into man concept and all of a sudden you see me flying at a pick and roll or something,’ he said. ‘I’m thinking to myself, like, ‘Wasn’t I supposed to be in the middle of this 2-3 zone?’ So I really don’t know how to play it.’Sullinger does not play zone, but his skill set matches up well against the Syracuse defense. The Orange, making its first Elite Eight appearance since 2003, faces a difficult challenge guarding the frontcourt tandem of Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas. Sullinger, the Buckeyes’ star forward, averages 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Thomas, a versatile forward, is averaging 20.7 points over his last 11 games.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWisconsin utilized its outside shooting to keep pace with Syracuse (34-2) in the Sweet 16, but the Orange now has to turn its attention to limiting the Buckeyes’ (30-7) inside scoring when the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the East Region square off on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the TD Garden. A spot in next week’s Final Four in New Orleans is on the line.In order for Syracuse to get there for the first time in nine years, it must defeat what may be its toughest opponent of the season.‘I think they’re the best team I’ve seen all year long in terms of total makeup and what they do,’ head coach Jim Boeheim said.The dominant inside players for Ohio State are even tougher to defend because of the Buckeyes’ ability to score on the perimeter. Thomas is a supreme all-around playmaker who can make a shot from anywhere on the court. OSU has a quality point guard in Aaron Craft and another gifted outside shooter in William Buford.Thus, Ohio State has the talent to move the ball around and make plays. Thomas said his goal is to be all over the court in an effort to confuse the SU big men.‘We just need to play our role, stretch them out, and getting in the open seams and just knocking down shots,’ Thomas said. ‘We’re going to stretch their bigs out there.’In his press conference on Friday, Boeheim was asked multiple questions about his dedication and persistence in using the zone. Time and time again, after games such as the Sweet 16 matchup with Wisconsin – when the Badgers made 14 3s – the strategy of playing zone is questioned.Saturday’s game with the preseason No. 3 team in the nation presented the issue of how Syracuse could contain Sullinger and Thomas moving around. The Orange will be tested by how well it closes on the soft spots in its zone.‘We just got to make them uncomfortable,’ C.J. Fair said. ‘We can’t let Sullinger get deep position with a clear pass. So we just got to do a good job denying him and then locating their shooters like Buford and Thomas.’Sullinger is not an uber-athletic big man, but he can score inside, has a mid-range jump shot and is a quality rebounder. Sullinger and Thomas are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, giving them a leg up in one of Syracuse’s weakest parts of the game.And Sullinger’s best attribute might be his deft passing ability. The 6-foot-9, 280-pound sophomore is able to break out of double teams and sticky situations by finding the right teammate at the right time.James Southerland said Syracuse has played a couple teams with big men who were solid passers. Southerland said the key to containing Sullinger will be forcing him to take shots over taller defenders, which is one element he tends to struggle with.‘He gets it in his hands, bad things happen for opposing defenses,’ SU assistant coach Mike Hopkins said. ‘So we got to do a good job to limit his touches and when he gets it, be able to play it as good and physical as we can.’Both Sullinger and Thomas are capable of scoring 25-plus points on any given night. Immense pressure will be on Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita and the Syracuse forwards to limit their opportunities and deny easy buckets.‘We know it’s a very daunting task to play them,’ Boeheim said. ‘You know, we’ve prepared for it. We’re ready to play them. I hope it’ll be a great game.’mcooperj@syr.edu Published on March 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjr Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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UW to take on DePaul in NCAA first round matchup

first_imgRiding a nine-game unbeaten streak and a conference tournament title to show for it, the No. 9 Wisconsin women’s soccer team (18-2-2, 10-2-2 Big Ten) earned an automatic bid into the 64-team NCAA tournament as a No. 4 seed.In their opening round game Saturday, the Badgers will take on DePaul (16-0-4, 7-0-2 Big East) at the McClimon Soccer Complex.Similar to Wisconsin’s storybook season up to date, DePaul is also in the midst of arguably their best season in program history, as they snagged their first Big East Tournament Title last Sunday with a convincing 2-0 win over Georgetown. Despite some close calls, including a penalty kick shoot-out victory over Marquette in the second round of the conference tournament, the Blue Demons have yet to lose a game this season.Wisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins said it’s been years since the Badgers played against DePaul, so the team will need to start preparing immediately as they aren’t a familiar foe. In addition, Wilkins said she predicted her team would be a 3-seed in the tournament and didn’t expect the matchup they were ultimately given. DePaul enters the NCAA tournament at the No. 13 team in the country, just four spots behind Wisconsin.“We were surprised by the seeding because they were one of the undefeated teams in the country and they just won the Big East and we just won the Big Ten,” Wilkins said. “So to have such close two teams playing each other is a little interesting, but we’re excited for the challenge.”Wilkins added that she and her players felt a bit duped by the NCAA Selection Committee for two straight years now, as last year Ohio State received a bid after finishing ninth in the Big Ten, while the Badgers were sent packing after finishing fifth.Regardless, Wilkins said this year’s team has a new-found mentality and focus, which has been evident in their off-season training effort as well as their ability to close out close games and hold themselves accountable for mistakes. Wilkins said the turn around she’s witnessed is unprecedented in her coaching career, including her previous stint at Penn State.“Penn State had a lot of talent, so it was more about managing them, but this group actually changed,” Wilkins said. “And I think that was the most inspiring thing for me as a coach.”As redshirt senior goalkeeper Genevieve Richard prepares herself for her final stretch as a Badger, the Big Ten’s Goalkeeper of the Year and defensive MVP of the Big Ten tournament said, the key to the rest of the team’s success will be continuing the same preparation routines which have been so effective all season.As for the Badgers’ seeding in the tournament, Richard said the decision doesn’t bother her that much and that recognition is earned through a winning tradition.“I know that it’s all about consistency and you earn respect through time and not from just winning a Big Ten Tournament now, but I think the program is moving in the right direction,” Richard said. “For today, that’s fine. If we win three times in a row and we’re still in the same position, now there’s an issue, but I think we still have something to prove and we’re on a good track.”Looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup, UW senior forward Kodee Williams said a key factor for the Badgers’ attack against DePaul will be finding a way to capitalize on more of their attempts on goal. Despite racking up 24 shots, with eight of them on target against Iowa last Sunday, it took until the 104th minute for something to finally find the net.“That is definitely going to be one of our focuses this week,” Williams said. “We’ve out-shot our opponents like crazy and Cara [Walls] and I take a lot of responsibility for not finishing and that’s definitely something that we’re focused on. For us to allow zero shots on goal in one game and one shot on goal in the other, is just outstanding and I can’t give enough credit to our back six. That’s going to be key for us in the NCAA’s.”With all the experience playing a huge role all season for Wisconsin, Williams said the “wow” factor of making the final tournament isn’t really there and it’s more about the team being focused on what they know is needed to win and just taking it one game at a time.“We’re ready for anything and I think if we can keep up the way we’ve been playing, and maybe be a little more clinical in the final third, we’ve got a good shot at making it pretty far,” Williams said.Wisconsin and DePaul will kickoff the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the McClimon Center. The winner will advance to the second round of the NCAA’s to take on either UCF for Georgia.last_img read more

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Men’s basketball off to lackluster start

first_imgIt’s hard to believe there was a part of the season when the USC men’s basketball team held a No. 10 rank.Andy Enfield expects a better performance from his players during his fifth season as the head coach of the USC men’s basketball team. Photo by Will Alpert | Daily TrojanSince the start of the season, the team has fallen to 11-6, taking losses to ranked and unranked opponents and is on its way out of the top 25. To be fair, it’s been a wild season of NCAA basketball so far, with teams like Kansas and Kentucky tumbling into double-digit rankings after dropping major losses both at home and on the road. Last week alone, three of the top five teams fell to unranked opponents, completely shifting the rankings yet again. While it might be a topsy turvy season for the country as a whole, the Trojans have themselves to blame for their sudden and furious descent out of the national rankings. The team entered the season with a full return of a talented crop of starters bolstered by several fresh faces. Before the first tip-off of the season, it appeared that the Trojans’ NCAA run of last season might continue and expand this year. Months later, even head coach Andy Enfield, who is known for standing by his players, seems at a loss.“I usually take the blame for losses, and obviously every game goes on my record as a head coach,” Enfield said after an 81-88 loss to Washington. “But tonight, I was very disappointed in some of our upperclassmen, defensively. You can blame me for not motivating them or getting them to play up to their capability. They have to go home and look in the mirror and come back and play better basketball if we’re going to have a chance to win games in this league.”The easiest way to analyze any team’s failures is to study its losses. Most often, the Trojans struggle when they dig themselves into a hole by allowing their opponents to build up a lead, often failing to reclaim it. In four of its six losses this season, USC entered the half with a deficit, launching a valiant comeback attempt only to fall slightly short. Win or lose, the Trojans typically score less frequently in the first half than in the second, a habit that isn’t uncommon for any team, given that defense is best played with fresh legs. However, the team’s underperformance in the first half has been a consistent issue. Even in victories over teams such as New Mexico State, USC often enters the second half with a tie or a razor-thin lead.Part of this deficit can be attributed to shooting. The Trojans are currently shooting below 50 percent from the field, but they have especially struggled against ranked opponents, highlighted by a dismal 28 percent performance against Texas A&M. Despite averaging 14 trips to the line per game, the Trojans have struggled similarly with free throws, failing to deliver in close-game situations. The team missed 10 of its 21 free throws in a loss against Cal. At first, they weren’t necessarily bad losses. Dropping to now-No. 11 Texas A&M is not necessarily worth mourning, and falling to wonderkid Trae Young and now-No. 7 Oklahoma is a similarly manageable loss. But the meltdown against Princeton, which resulted in a 10-point overtime loss at home to an unranked Ivy League team, followed by a home loss to Washington burst the bubble that USC belonged at the top of the NCAA. This weekend’s heartbreaker against Stanford reflected the truth — the Trojans just don’t have it this season. “We should’ve taken care of business,” senior guard Jordan McLaughlin said after the team blew a 15-point deficit to lose to Stanford. The captain repeatedly described the loss as “tough,” emphasizing how difficult it was to lose on a buzzer-beater shot. Yet he didn’t seem to have an answer for why the Trojans still haven’t learned to hang onto a lead.The main issue with this team lies in the fact that even though the Trojans are winning games, they aren’t winning by enough to convince anyone of their dominance. Four of the team’s 11 victories have ended with single-digit leads. Winning by 5-point margins over teams such as Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State simply won’t cut it. Although the Pac-12 isn’t the power conference it hoped to be at the start of the season, boasting only two top-25 teams, it will still provide consistent competition for the Trojans as they attempt to rebuild and salvage this could-have-been season. With a 2-2 record, the team sits in the dead center of the conference rankings. However, no Pac-12 team is undefeated in conference play even this early in the season, and no team in this conference is unbeatable in any way.Perhaps the brightest light of this season so far has been McLaughlin, who averages 12.9 points and 7.8 assists per game. Although McLaughlin isn’t the team’s leader in points or steals, he remains the heartbeat of the Trojans on both offense and defense, and in big-game situations, he’s the leader that the team desperately needs. Whether it’s notching 19 assists against UC Santa Barbara or putting up the would-be game-winner against Stanford, McLaughlin has proven his worth as the senior captain of the squad. And this is his team to turn around as the Trojans continue into conference play.Their Final Four dreams might be distant, but for now, a conference title is a promising and achievable goal for the Trojans.last_img read more