Five Games to Watch in this Year’s Pac-12

Pac-12 Basketball

With the recent release of the Pac-12 Conference’s schedule for the upcoming 2017-2018 season, let’s take a look at some of the more exciting matchups.

Oregon Arizona

1. Oregon @ Arizona (Week of Jan. 10)

Possibly the most anticipated game of the Pac-12 season, Oregon and Arizona ended last year as the conference’s co-champions. Needless to say, this game is a must win in the eyes of both teams; beyond the contest, each roster has something to prove. Arizona may be looking like the stronger team as the season approaches, but undoubtedly both squads return this year with depth, talent, and an itch to show who deserved the crown of the Pac-12 more last year.

USC UCLA

2. USC @ UCLA (Week of Jan. 31)

The classic Golden State matchup, USC v. UCLA never disappoints. USC may be looking forward to the matchup more so this year, now that Lonzo Ball’s dominance has moved just a short way down the road to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, with UCLA’s return of Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, the Trojans will be no easy challenge to overcome. Bleacher Report preseason rankings finds USC at number ten, thanks to the return of Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu, and Shaquan Aaron. If USC has plans of joining the conference’s elite this season, beating rival UCLA is a good place to start.

UCLA Arizona

3. UCLA @ Arizona, USC @ Arizona State (Week of Feb. 7)

The combination of four powerhouse Pac-12 teams, not just two, highlights this week as one of the most anticipated of the season. While we know the talent that USC, UCLA, and Arizona will be returning is bound to be strong this season, ASU’s squad cannot be overlooked, and will certainly pose a threat to the Trojans, as USC heads to ASU’s home court. With one of the highest scoring backcourts in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils will utilize the ability of their combination of guards to score from the outside, as well as pester the Trojans with under the rim talent.

ASU Arizona

4. Arizona @ Arizona State (Week of Feb. 14)

More commonly known in the southwest as the Duel in the Desert, this fierce rivalry mirrors that of USC and UCLA. No matter what the difference in talent is between these two teams, this game will always be interesting. This year, fans are lucky enough to have two teams that are not worlds apart for the most part. Both sides have talented players returning, and neophytes waiting to be tested. Realistically, Arizona does have the better team–all the reason that their matchup away at ASU is just a bit more anticipated.

Stanford Cal

5. California @ Stanford (Week of Dec. 27)

Ok, so maybe people have their doubts about California; granted, they did have quote an exodus of talent at the end of last season. However, they have a lot of potential to be a good team if they use it correctly. A new head coach means a new coaching style, which means confusion for opponents. Playing against a new coach in college basketball can often leave teams just as baffled as playing against new players. Returning players include defensive threat Kingsley Okoroh, as well as Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee, whose scoring ability will have to be put to good use if Cal wants to see a chance at beating Stanford.

Twitter: @andrew_mck11

Stephon Marbury Needs to Avoid Return to NBA

Stephon Marbury has reportedly been eyeing a return to the NBA. It has been eight years since Starbury has competed professionally here in the America, but if he has his way, fans will see him once again. Life after the NBA has been a roller coaster for Marbury, very similar to his career in the NBA. Shortly after his last NBA games, Marbury went viral for an internet meltdown. The video led to countless jokes on Marbury’s behalf.

Years later, Marbury admitted he experienced depression and suicidal thoughts towards the end of his NBA career. It was clear Marbury was not handling his fall from superstardom well. Thankfully Marbury would resurrect his career, though not on American soil. In 2010, he signed with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. From there Marbury would become a Chinese basketball sensation.

Life in the CBA

Starbury’s accolades in the CBA include 6x CBA All-Star and 3x CBA champion. He won the 2010 CBA All-Star MVP award, as well as 2015 CBA Finals MVP for the Beijing Ducks. After helping lead the Ducks to his first CBA title in 2012, Marbury was honored with a statue in front of the MasterCard Center in Beijing.

Stephon Marbury was honored with a statue outside the MasterCard Center, which was the home of the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Now, he is looking to parlay his Chinese basketball success into an NBA contract one last time. I think that is unwise. Like most competitors, Marbury still likely wants to prove he can compete at the highest level. He wants his last NBA moments to be better than being bought out by New York and playing an irrelevant 20 games for Boston.

Stay Away, Steph

This is the NBA, where teams buy stock in young players, hoping they reach their potential and mature into assets for their team. Aside from riding the bench for a championship contender, there’s no real place for a ball dominant 40-year-old point guard. Now I’ll admit that the images I have in my head of Marbury are from his days with a horrendous Knicks team, and that’s not entirely fair to him. If Marbury’s goal is to make an NBA team, then maybe he can do that. Maybe a team will take a chance on a seasoned vet who revitalized his career overseas and has one good season in the league in him.

But would he be content with that? Would he accept seeing DNP – Coaches Decision next to his name on a regular basis? Maybe he would, but for someone who was a former all-star in this league, and who is coming off a recent string of success in a foreign league, why open yourself up for what could be another epic failure in the NBA? Why not enjoy yourself for one more year in a league where you are beloved, and hang up you sneakers on a high note, a note that seemed unfathomable six years ago.

Stephon Marbury went from NBA All-Star, to internet laughing-stock, back to a basketball superstar. While his career may not have gone the way he envisioned when he was a budding superstar in Brooklyn, NY, Marbury was able to rise from the ashes of a burning NBA fallout and once again become an adored basketball player. And while he still may be feeling the highs of CBA success, Stephon Marbury needs to avoid an NBA return for his own sake.

Crucial Physical and Psychological Skills You Gain through Basketball

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Playing organized sports such as basketball can provide a huge number of benefits to children. Through basketball skills training and games, children can develop a wide range of physical and psychological traits that can serve them well throughout their life, ensuring that they become a more well-rounded person and that they are better able to handle the stresses and complications they face in the real world. In this way, playing basketball and attending basketball training camps can be one of the best things your child can do, as it will teach them all of the following skills.

Knowing the Value of Hard Work and Dedication

Playing basketball or any other sport requires countless hours of practice, constantly working to improve your physical and mental skills. In this way, basketball can help teach a child about the importance and value of hard work. Basketball clinics and live games can teach a child that nothing in life comes for free and you always have to be willing to work to get what you want.

Mental Toughness

Playing poorly, suffering abuse from opposing players and fans, and losing games are things basketball players must learn to deal with and not let discourage them. This means basketball is also great for improving mental toughness and how to overcome adversity. The mental side of basketball is easily as important as the physical; which is why most basketball skills training and basketball clinics focus heavily on mental aspects, in addition to physical skills.

Staying Calm Under Pressure

Those last few minutes of a basketball game are often an extremely high-pressure situation. There’s nothing like lining up for a potentially game winning free throw or hitting a last-second buzzer beater to teach a person about the importance of staying calm under pressure.

Team Work

Being able to work effectively in a team is a hugely important life skill, and nothing can teach a person this skill better than team sports. Even if you’re the best player on your team, you will still need to be able to play as part of a team in order to stand a chance of winning. As Michael Jordan once famously said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Flexibility

On the physical side of things, basketball is a fantastic activity for growing bodies due to the fact that it teaches the importance of flexibility along with physical strength. No matter whether you’re a seven-foot tall center or a five-foot tall point guard, quickness and flexibility are always going to be key attributes. This is precisely why most youth basketball training camps place a special focus on improving a child’s flexibility and not just their strength and conditioning. In this way, basketball is often seen as a better activity for kids than football or other sports that tend to rely more on brute strength.

Improved Strength

Of course, strength is still important for a basketball player. The countless hours in the gym, lifting weights and running around the court, are guaranteed to make a person stronger and more physically fit, which is just another one of the many benefits basketball can provide.

Better Stamina

All that running around will also help to improve a person’s stamina as well. This has huge, direct benefits for a person’s cardiovascular and respiratory system.

At the end of the day, playing any sport will provide many mental and physical benefits. However, the fact that basketball is fairly low contact and generally safer than football, hockey and other sports, makes it an ideal choice for teaching children important psychological and physical skills that will surely serve them well in their future lives.

6 Ways to Become a Better Basketball Player

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As with any other sport, becoming a good basketball player takes a huge amount of hard work, dedication and perseverance. Of course, it’s not as simple as just spending every day working on your shooting skills, as there is a lot more to basketball than just tossing a ball through a hoop. With this in mind, here are six ways to boost your skills and hopefully become a better basketball player.

Sweat Your Way to Success

If you want to become a better basketball player, you have to be ready and willing to work for it. This means spending countless hours in the gym and on the court to continually improve your physical fitness and skills. A basketball academy or camp will only take you so far. No amount of skills training will matter if you’re not willing to put in the time and work to actually practice what you’ve learned and improve yourself.

Pay Attention to the Mental Side of the Game

The physical side of the game is only one part of the equation. You’ve got to be mentally tough in order to have a chance of making it. This means not letting yourself get discouraged by a bad game or unfair calls and also being mentally prepared to stay calm, cool and collected under pressure. In short, focusing on the mental side of the game will allow you to become someone that your teammates know they can rely on when the going gets tough.

Skills Training Is Key

When we said, ‘Sweat your way to success,’ we weren’t discounting the huge benefit that basketball training camps can provide. Through these training camps, you will learn a huge number of new exercises, skills and ways of training yourself to become a better player, both physically and mentally. The fact that many training camps are taught by successful players and coaches means that campers have a great opportunity to learn from people who know exactly what it takes. In this way, they can prove to be an invaluable tool in your effort to improve your skills and become a better basketball player.

Test Yourself Against the Best

As the old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect.’ However, practice can still only take you so far.

You’ll also need to constantly test yourself in real games in order to make sure that you can actually put all those skills you practiced into good use. In this sense, playing in as many basketball tournaments as possible can be hugely beneficial and allow you to continuously test your skills against new opponents.

Identify and Focus on Your Weaknesses

No matter what position you play, it’s important that you work to become as complete of a player as possible. This means spending as much time working on your weaknesses as on your strengths, maybe even more. It also means knowing how to take criticism and using it to drive yourself to improve, instead of letting it get you down. No basketball player will ever be great at everything, but it’s still important that you try to focus on becoming a well-rounded of a player as you can.

Yoga for Improved Strength, Flexibility and Mental Toughness

Yoga is becoming extremely popular among a huge range of different professional athletes. The truth is that yoga is far more difficult and rewarding than most people think and it can provide a huge boost to your overall strength, flexibility, self-awareness and mental toughness. In fact, Coach Steve Kerr credits yoga for some of the success that his Golden State Warriors team has experienced in recent years. Although you may be hesitant to try it, there is absolutely no doubt that yoga can provide some huge benefits to your overall game.

The same thing is true for basketball as for virtually everything else in life: If you want to become better, you need to spend a huge amount of time focusing on improving yourself. While there is no guarantee that any amount of hard work will ensure that you make the team or enable you to go pro, the only way to find out is to set yourself a goal and do everything you can to work towards it.

#HGBuzzerBeater Classic AM Spotlight, Day 1

Division I schools La Salle University from the A10, Robert Morris from the Northeast Conference, and a multitude of Division II and III schools were in attendance to watch the morning matchup between the Crusader Nation and New York Havoc. With a trip to the winner’s bracket on the line, both teams showed some early game jitters to start.

Team Havoc jumped out to a quick 17-5 lead behind the energy and hustle of their point guard number 12, William Aybar.  Aybar set the pace of the game from the opening tip, extending the defensive pressure 94 feet and advancing the basketball by passing ahead.  Crusader Nation eventually acclimated to the frenetic pace of play, but consistently trailed double digits throughout the game’s first 10 minutes.  The Nation never looked comfortable in their half court sets, struggling to execute against the extended pressure of Havoc.  Skilled 6’8” forward Joe Delollo (#33) provided a perimeter, threat stretching the defense and opening driving lanes for Havoc’s lighting quick Aybar.  Crusader Nation eventually found a way to put up points up through second chance opportunities and fast break chances. They went on a 10-2 run and cut the lead to seven to close out the half.

The Nation continued their aggressive play to start the second half, finishing contested shots around the basket and creating and-1 opportunities.  With momentum on their side and foul situations softening up Havoc’s defensive pressure, the Nation began to convert on open jump shots. Although he showcased a soft touch around the basket and consistent face up game outside the paint, Delollo was unable to guard the perimeter on defense.  Delollo was forced to soft contest on screen and roll switches and gave up easy driving angles to Crusader Nation’s guards. Havoc trailed by two points going into the game’s final four minutes.  

The game came down to the final possession in regulation, tied at 60 with a little over eleven seconds remaining. Crusader Nation was set to take the ball out on a side out of bounds.  The ball was inbounded, and a down screen was set away from the ball in an effort to free up their team’s leading scorer for the game, number 0-Nick Parrish.  He was denied but eventually caught the ball out near half court under duress.

With three seconds remaining he stepped into a 30 foot pull-up jumper that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before swishing through the net; ending the game and advancing the Nation to the winner’s bracket.  When asked about what was going through his mind in the closing seconds, Parrish responded, “I won’t lie to you, I practice that shot a lot…a hesitation to a pull up three—so, to see it finally come to work, it’s a blessing man. It felt great”.  Parrish continued on to speak about his team’s togetherness, “I’ve played with these guys for four years now–with these guys they go out and give it a hundred percent every game. It’s more like a family than a team.  We all just play together, and play for each other”.  

Crusader Nation will look to build upon this momentum going into their next matchup.  Joe Delollo for Havoc led the team in scoring with 15 points, while Parrish finished with 12 points, 10 in the 4th quarter and the game winner.