Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin goes up for a dunk. Jacob Durst and Nathan Janick predict that Griffin and the Clippers will reach the 2015 NBA Finals. | Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin goes up for a dunk. Jacob Durst and Nathan Janick predict that Griffin and the Clippers will reach the 2015 NBA Finals. | Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Jacob Durt & Nathan Janick

We hope you have enjoyed the first two parts of our NBA previews. In order not to bore you, allow us to get to the teams who will actually compete for a title this year.

Chicago Bulls (Janick: 5, Durst: 5)

Jacob Durst: This team is like a better version of Memphis. They have the elite center, Marc Gasol, and the up and coming wing, Jimmy Butler, but the real difference is that they actually have another go-to-guy, that is if we can take Derrick Rose pre-injury.

Nathan Janick: I see this team as a team of question marks. Rose’s health is the first issue. If he can be 90 percent as good as he was when he won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, this team is locked to at least get the two seed in the East. I also want to see how much Pau Gasol has left in the tank. He’s looked washed up at times the past two years on the Lakers, but at 34, I could see him being rejuvenated now that he is on a winning team with a good coach in Tom Thibodeau.

JD: I think Doug McDermott will really help this team. If he can get minutes from Thibodeau, despite his defense, he’s going to get plenty of open threes. And if there’s one thing that McBuckets likes, it’s open threes.

NJ: I don’t see him having an impact early in the season. He is going to have a steep learning curve, especially with the task of learning Thibodeau’s complex defensive scheme. Yes, his college, Creighton University (Neb.) was in the Big East, but it was at a time long from the conference’s glory days, so the NBA will be a major upgrade in competition.

JD: I agree his learning curve will be steep and he won’t be playing for his dad anymore, but I don’t think it’ll take him too long. I also like Nikola Mirotic. He’s a mature player who’s been playing at a high level in Europe for a long time. I’m sure Thibodeau can find some use for him.

NJ: We can argue about the supporting cast, but this team’s ceiling is entirely dependent on Rose’s health.

(Note: We refrained from all jokes in this section to avoid jinxing Rose’s health).

Oklahoma City Thunder (Janick: 3, Durst: 4)

NJ: Anthony Morrow! Who is excited for the Anthony Morrow era in Oklahoma City?

Its OK if you have no idea who this is. The sad thing is that this was Oklahoma City’s biggest offseason acquisition.

JD: I think you mean the Russell Westbrook era. I think Westbrook might actually shoot 25 times each game until Kevin Durant comes back. Then the real fight begins. There’s no way that Russ goes back to the old days of at least five awful fast break 20-foot pull-ups a game when Durant gets healthy.

NJ: What if Westbrook makes a leap similar to the one Durant made last season while Westbrook was out? What also frustrates me about this team so much is that they have two of the most exciting players in the league, yet their offense resembles that of an intramural team here at Emory, with almost no movement or innovation.

JD: I mean Scott Brooks might as well be the coach of an intramural team here. I’ve seen a more innovative offense in the B-League. Well, as a Rockets fan, I also have to thank Sam Presti. If you actually knew the salary cap, we wouldn’t have James Harden.

NJ: Presti is smirking about the results of that trade. Oh wait, Kevin Martin is no longer on the team, Jeremy Lamb was relegated to the back of the bench during the playoffs, and hey, Steven Adams had some great technical fouls throughout the season.

JD: But in all seriousness, Oklahoma City would be a higher among these last few teams if Durant hadn’t gone down. He actually challenges LeBron as the best player in the league now, and he’s the only one even close. If they can hold the ship together until he gets back they still have a shot at the No. 1 seed.

NJ: Another what if: There is a strong possibility that this Oklahoma City team beats San Antonio if Serge Ibaka doesn’t get hurt in the playoffs. That Heat team was so warn down in the finals that there was a strong possibility that Oklahoma City would have won had they made it.

JD: I agree, the Spurs and Oklahoma City were pretty much even last year. Why couldn’t the Western Conference Finals just have been the real Finals?

NJ: The East is depressing. Time to move on to our final Eastern Conference team.

Cleveland Cavaliers (Janick: 4, Durst: 3)

JD: They will play offense. They will score buckets. But they will not be able to stop opposing teams from doing the same. The historical threshold for a championship caliber team is having a top-10 defense, and this team won’t be able to do that. Let’s remember that LeBron James was a below-average defender last year.

NJ: I agree with all of that, but LeBron will be an above-average defender this year. Last year, he was forced to carry such a load offensively, especially with Dwyane Wade sitting out of so many games. That’s why his defense was so bad by his standards. He knows this team will need help on defense, and I guarantee you will see a shift in his game to adjust for that.

JD: Alright, lets break it down. Kevin Love is at best average. Varejao is hardly a rim protector. Do I even need to talk about the defense of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters? Even if LeBron is an above-average defender again, their starting lineup will approach Harden-level defense as a whole unit.

NJ: That’s harsh. My prediction is they have a very slow start, much like during LeBron’s first season in Miami, but they will figure it out and then lose in the Finals. Kyrie Irving’s and Dion Waiters’ lack of playoff experience and past locker room issues make me worried.

JD: I think, with a healthy Rose, Chicago beats them in the Conference Finals. Chicago’s lower ranking is based entirely upon my uncertainty on Rose’s health.

NJ: There are so many question marks with both teams that we won’t have answered until the season is well underway. In these next two teams, we know pretty much what we are getting.

Los Angeles Clippers (Janick: 2, Durst: 2)

JD: We both agreed on these last two teams. I think the Clippers are pretty much the same team we saw last year. They’re going to be really good and I really like the addition of Spencer Hawes. He and Blake Griffin will cause nightmares for people who have to game plan against them.

NJ: Now that they are free of the Donald Sterling stink and have a second year with Doc Rivers as head coach, I was very tempted to pick them to win the title. They were two questionable calls away from likely beating Oklahoma City last year. Griffin is emerging as a legitimate superstar and Chris Paul is still the best pure point guard in the NBA.

JD: This is just a really, really good team overall. I’m not sure if they have any real weaknesses. The only thing I would be worried about is the fact they can’t play DeAndre Jordan at the end of games, or he’ll just be fowled and forced take free throws that we know he won’t make. That leaves them without a real rim protector when it matters most.

NJ: You really summed this up perfectly. Spencer Hawes might be able to help at the end of games, but this team is still one piece away from being great. This might be a year when a very good team wins the title though especially if other teams have to deal with injuries.

JD: I completely and utterly agree with you. Lets move onto our number one team.

San Antonio Spurs (Janick: 1, Durst: 1)

NJ: Yes, everybody is a year older. Yes, they won’t have the same motivation that they had last year. Yes, they probably won’t be as healthy this year. People seem to be down on this team this year, but one thing we should all know by now is never to count out Gregg Popovich and the core of this Spurs team.

JD: I’ve given up betting against the Spurs, because they just don’t get bad. I’m 95 percent sure at this point that Tim Duncan is immortal.

NJ: Kawhi Leonard also continued to emerge as a star in last year’s playoffs. I really think this is the year that the Spurs will finally win back-to-back titles.

JD: Spurs or bust. They have the same core, the same Hall of Fame head coach in Gregg Popovich, they’re going to do Spurs things. It’ll be tough, but I think they have the best shot of winning the title this year.

— By Jacob Durst & Nathan Janick, Contributing Writers

Sophomore right side hitter Sarah Maher (Left) and senior middle hitter Cat McGrath (Right) go up for the block. Maher, McGrath and the Eagles shut down Piedmont College (Ga.) 3-0 on Wednesday to bring their record to 28-3 on the season. | Photo By Jason Oh/Staff

Sophomore right side hitter Sarah Maher (Left) and senior middle hitter Cat McGrath (Right) go up for the block. Maher, McGrath and the Eagles shut down Piedmont College (Ga.) 3-0 on Wednesday to bring their record to 28-3 on the season. | Photo By Jason Oh/Staff

By Elana Cates

This past Wednesday, the sixth-ranked women’s volleyball team defeated the Piedmont College (Ga.) Lions. After the 3-1 win, the Eagles are now 28-3 overall. The first set was close in the beginning, with Piedmont down only 7-10 at one point. But the Eagles then delivered 10 straight kills in a row to gain a 20-7 lead, and ultimately won the set 25-10.

The Lions started the second set on top, 11-7, but the Emory defense stepped up and quickly shut down their offense. The set ended with a 25-15 Emory victory.

Piedmont staved off defeat for a time by keeping the third set close, surviving three match points. The Eagles’ offense, however, was playing better than Piedmont’s and the set concluded at 25-19.

Senior Leah Jacobs outpaced Piedmont’s defense with eight kills, while junior Sydney Miles supported the offense with 29 assists. With 11 digs, senior Kate Bowman led the defense.

This coming weekend the Eagles are celebrating their senior student athletes.

“We are excited to end their careers on our home court with a bang,” Miles said.

With only three matches to go until the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships, the Eagles continue their busy schedule this weekend with the Emory Invitational.

“The team is very excited to get back to playing matches. It’s the last tournament before conference and NCAAs start, so we are ready to make a final statement that will lead us into those,” Miles said.

Bowman also emphasized the importance of this weekend’s games.

“Playing two in region teams is very important for seating going into the NCAA tournament,” Bowman explained. “UMass Boston was also at nationals last year, so we are excited for the competition.”

Games start this afternoon against Berry at 4:30 p.m. and University of Massachusetts-Boston at 7 p.m..

— By Elana Cates, Staff Writer

By Jayson Patel

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Beej Knows Best. This marks Week nine, signifying that we have crossed the halfway mark and are headed towards the homestretch of this 2014 campaign. Both the playoff picture and the draft order are starting to take form. For this week’s preview, I will pick out the playoff order in the AFC as well as run through a quick preview of this week’s games. Stay tuned next week for my breakdown of the NFC.

1) Denver Broncos (AFC West) 14-2

The Broncos are currently the best team in the NFL, no matter how you slice it. Peyton Manning is leading one of his best offenses, and the additions of DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib to Von Miller and the rest of the defense has proved formidable. Other than this week’s matchup against New England, the rest of the schedule shouldn’t be too difficult for the Broncos to traverse. Expect the Broncos to be riding high heading into the playoffs.

2) New England Patriots (AFC East) 12-4

Do you hear that? That’s the noise of thousands of fair weather fans trying to jump back on the bandwagon. After a slow start to the season that included a 41-14 shellacking at the hands of the Chiefs, many counted New England out. However, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, Bill Belichick is Darth Vader, and Rob Gronkowski is the frattiest man on the planet. I’m not sure where I was going with that, but the fact remains that New England is a well-oiled machine, and they are on a mission. New England has a fairly tough slate, but at their current pace, I definitely believe they can win the tough ones. One thing to note: New England’s run defense has been putrid this year. However, the only “feature” back they have left is Eddie Lacy.

3) Indianapolis Colts (AFC South) 11-5

I will be the first to admit that, prior to last week’s game, I was quite bullish on their prospects. However, against good offenses, the Colts defense has struggled both in the air and on the ground. I worry about their proficiency in games against New England, Dallas and even the New York Giants over the remainder of the regular season. Presuming they can win at least one of these games and run the slate against an underwhelming crop of opponents, I see the Colts narrowly missing a bye. However, Andrew Luck has been as good as advertised this year. He has led the most prolific passing attack and is in the top 7 in Total QBR. Any game is in reach for Indianapolis provided that they have Andrew Luck at the helm. If Indianapolis can shore up their defense, they could be in for a trip into February.

4) Baltimore Ravens (AFC North) 10-6

This was the toughest division to predict. As of now, all four teams are essentially in contention for the division lead. Each one has shown both significant ups and downs, making this stretch run very interesting. However, I went with the Ravens for a few reasons. First, they have the best point differential out of any team in the division. After closer examination, I found that this is because they have won big and lost close. Additionally, the Ravens already have the upper hand in the conference, having beating the Steelers and Browns, despite their two losses to the Bengals. The Steelers and Browns play the Bengals two more times each, and those tough interdivision matchups could cause them to squander the advantage that they have gained against the Ravens. Finally, I like how balanced they are. Defensively, rookie C.J. Mosley has emerged as a stalwart. Offensively, the combination of Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro has given Joe Flacco the opportunity to utilize the play action. If the Ravens can gain some momentum into their Week 11 bye, I would not be surprised if they steal away this division.

5, 6) Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns (WILD CARD AFC North) 10-6, 10-6

There will most likely be a five-team race to win the final two wild card spots, between the Steelers, Bengals, Browns, Chargers and Bills. First, looking at the Charger’s upcoming schedule, they face difficult matchups against St. Louis, Baltimore, New England, Denver, San Francisco, and Kansas City. I see them finishing up at 9-7, despite a fantastic season by Phillip Rivers. For the Bills, I just don’t see Kyle Orton being able to pick up wins against Green Bay, Denver, New England or even Cleveland; wins that would propel them to being 10-6. They too could presumably finish up at 9-7. Which leaves us with the three AFC North teams. I will admit that I am a little biased. Considering that my Jets have already gotten me into creating scouting reports for college players, I needed a sorry team to keep the dream alive for the next few weekends. Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer has been much better than expected, but my only reservation with the team is the amount of inter-division games they have left. If, and this is a big if, Cleveland can take both of their games against Cincinnati, then I think they can take the sixth spot. We don’t know how AJ Green will do after missing a few games with injury. Cleveland has the opportunity to beat up on bad teams, such as Tampa Bay, Houston and Atlanta. I think Cleveland sneaks in, edging out the Bengals, and the Steelers ride the momentum of last week’s nearly historic win to the fifth seed.

For those of you who place bets based on my predictions, worry not. Following are my picks for Week nine:

GAMES (winning team in bold):

San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins (-1.5)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-11)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns (-6.5)

Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings (?)*

Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans (+2)

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (?)*

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-10)

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (+3)

Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks (-15)

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (+1)

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants (-3)

(?)* Betting halted due to unknown statuses of Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III. Picks were
made assuming both play.

— By Jayson Patel, Contributing Writer

Junior goalkeeper Liz Arnold takes a goal kick. Arnold was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team for the second season of  her career this week and will now be considered for the Academic All-America Team. | Photo Courtesy of Emory Athletics

Junior goalkeeper Liz Arnold takes a goal kick. Arnold was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team for the second season of
her career this week and will now be considered for the Academic All-America Team. | Photo Courtesy of Emory Athletics

By Oliver Rockman

The Emory women’s soccer team defeated Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) 2-0 on Tuesday with the help of two goals from senior forward Charlotte Butker. The win was Emory’s ninth of the season and the team’s eighth shutout.

The Eagles made a stronger start than their opponents, taking the first eight shots of the match, before Butker found the net in the 24th minute. Assisted by senior center midfielder Jennifer Grant, the goal was Butker’s third of the season. While the goal came relatively early in the game, it could have been the team’s third, according to Head Coach Sue Patberg.

“[We] scored four goals, but had two taken back,” Patberg said. “The first was a score off of a corner where [the referee thought] we interfered with their goalkeeper, and the second was called offside, so we had to score two more,” she said.

Still, Patberg was happy to see the Eagles taking advantages of their chances.

“Whether or not we got credit for all of them, it’s great to create four opportunities to capitalize on,” she said.

Butker would score again in the 56th minute off a free kick from sophomore forward Cristina Ramirez. The goal secured Butker’s fourth two-goal game of her career.
Patberg was pleased with the performance of her team as a whole, but was especially impressed by Butker’s play.

“Charlotte [Butker] in particular had a very good work rate, was composed under pressure and showed for the ball well. [This was] something we had worked on quite a bit,” she said.

Juniors Liz Arnold and Kristin Temple shared goalkeeping duties on the day.

Arnold played the first half, not having to make a single save, before being replaced by Temple, who made a career-high four saves, including two that came minutes before Butker’s second goal. Arnold did not have to make any saves on the day, but solid defense is nothing new to the Eagles.
“[It has been] a tradition at Emory to have an excellent defense, and we try our hardest to continue that tradition,” Arnold said.
She attributed the team’s continually superb defense to its unity.
“[Our] chemistry has a lot to do with success at the back,” Arnold said. “It takes a lot of communication to make sure everyone is marking. Working hard for each other is what makes us succeed.”
The team has three regular season games left on the year, the results of which will determine if they make the postseason.
Patberg has been pleased with recent performances, but knows there is room for improvement.
“[Our] main focus is finding a rhythm right away, having better and more consistent communication throughout the game and starting play at a higher level,” she said. “If we can accomplish those things, then that’s going to create opportunities to win games.”
These improvements, especially the way the team starts games, will be necessary for the Eagles to succeed in the postseason. Nonetheless, recent games have shown that the Eagles are currently in the upswing of their season.
“The past few games were great for us to get back to basics and rethink how we play,” Patberg said. “[The team has shown] a lot of very good effort moving forward and [I am] proud of the way the team took these last few, weeks. They have worked hard to improve.”
The Eagles’ season continues this weekend, when they host two conference opponents, squaring off against the University of Rochester (N.Y.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) on Sunday.

— By Oliver Rockman, Staff Writer

kp_404_slapass_in_recovery

Courtesy of Comedy Central

Your On Fire Correspondent is demanding answers.

What is it, athletes? What is it that you love so much about slapping each others’ asses?

Just this week, your On Fire Correspondent was educated about the intriguing sports phenomenon of slap-ass.

Slap-ass is the common sports practice of slapping a team mate’s ass as a sign of camaraderie or good faith. It can manifest itself as a playful tap or a powerful smack. It all depends on the temperament of the person delivering the blow. In this way, the slappee is completely at the mercy of the slapper.

Your On Fire Correspondent was deep in a YouTube binge when she (or he) first encountered slap-ass. She (or he) was enjoying sketch after sketch of “Key & Peele” and came across a sketch called “Slap-ass.” Intrigued, she (or he) decided to investigate further.

Slap-ass” recounts the heart-wrenching tale of Rafi and Garcia, two baseball players for a team called the Rhinos. Rafi, a free-spirited player, loves to slap-ass. Slap-ass is how he’s been raised; it’s all he really knows. After every game, he gives each teammate a high five and a slap on the ass. After every slap on the ass, he yells, “SLAP-ASS!” But the Rhinos can only handle so much slap-ass. Rafi goes to slap fellow teammate Garcia, and is taken aback when Garcia shouts “NO!” Garcia recounts the horrors of slap-ass and how each teammate has felt personally victimized by Rafi’s twitching palm. Rafi sinks into a deep sorrow when he realizes his behaviour is no longer sustainable.

In a follow-up sketch released just last week, Key and Peele reprised their iconic roles of Garcia and Rafi in “Slap-ass: In Recovery.” This continuation of the Slap-Ass Saga begins with a fellow teammate engaging in slap-ass with Garcia — but Garcia stops him, informing the locker room that Rafi is just coming out of treatment, a sort of “slap-ass rehab,” so to speak, and shouldn’t be triggered by other teammates in any slap-ass context. Rafi returns, and seems to be cured. All is well. But a new team member comes and Rafi cannot resist– he resumes into past behavior and the slap-ass cycle repeats.

Key and Peele really hit the nail on the head (or on the ass) with this series of sketches. What the f–k, they ask their viewers, is slap-ass all about? What purpose does it serve?

It seems that Key and Peele don’t quite know. And neither does your On Fire Correspondent.

Some scholars say that slap-ass builds a sense of community and team between players.
Others suppose that the practice is “problematic” or constitutes “sexual harassment.”
Only one thing’s for sure: the athletic community seems to be the only community that fully understands slap-ass.

But here is your On Fire Correspondent’s burning question: why is it only athletes who are allowed to engage in slap-assery? If it increases camaraderie, why not adopt slap-ass at school? At work? At a financially independent student newspaper?

In the name of investigative journalism, your On Fire Correspondent decided to adopt a slap-ass model herself (or himself) in the offices of The Emory Wheel to see just what it is about slap-ass that brings teams together.

In order to avoid offending any individuals, your On Fire Correspondent asked for permission before each ass-slap. This resulted in not one editor giving their consent to being slap-assed.

One editor said “I guess you could do that,” but he refused to get off of the couch on which he was sitting. Another editor gave tentative consent, but insisted, “Not right now; some other time,” and walked away with a weird look on her face.

So it seems that this business model isn’t sustainable in a semi-professional environment. But what does that say about the athletic community?

Your On Fire Correspondent literally just does not know.

In the end, it was your own unsuspecting On Fire Correspondent that got slap-assed. It was a shock, but it was also exciting. It was not something she (or he) would appreciate from anyone but a consensual friend or colleague.

The takeaway? Get consent before you slap-ass, dear readers. Slap thoughtfully, and slap safe.

399px-Hunter_Pence_on_September_3,_2013

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Rupsha Basu

News Editor

Let me preface this by saying that this column is not about baseball. At least not really. It’s about fashion and, ultimately, art.

As baseball fans take to their television screens to watch the next World Series game, the sixth in a close contest between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, it is very likely most viewers will be engrossed in the stakes of the game and pay little attention to players’ sartorial decisions.

Others, like myself, have very little interest in the intricacies of the game and find themselves intrigued by the minutiae of apparel with which the players of Major League Baseball adorn themselves. What’s with the white pants? Doesn’t that seem a bit impractical? Is the reason they’re called “baseball caps” because baseball players were the first humans to don duck-beaked lids? How come baseball uniforms don’t glow-in-the-dark?

Fashion in the baseball world is not a topic that receives very much media buzz (a fact which surprises me considering how often uniforms and logos undergo changes). However, at such high-intensity games, like in the World Series, it makes sense that people have taken note of one player whose fashion choices almost rival his skills on the diamond in terms of noteworthiness.

Hunter Pence, outfielder for the Giants, regularly sports bizarre takes on classic baseball uniform staples. Without revealing my World Series allegiances or inciting controversy, Pence’s aesthetic antics, in my opinion, have rendered him deserving of the moniker “fashion icon.”

In addition to riding a scooter to work, Pence inexplicably wears his socks above his knees. While the age-old high socks versus low cuffs debate has been vivacious and ongoing for years, Pence circumvents the question entirely. Why satisfy the critics when you can reject social norms? The genius of the socks gimmick (because, let’s be honest — it’s totally a gimmick) is that it not only rejects popularized baseball sock trends, but also rejects societal expectations of sock-length. Maybe Pence is implicitly critiquing oppressive body image standards in the media. We will never know.

And that brings me to probably the greatest thing about Pence’s on-field persona: his theatrics. You may be wondering what theatrics have to do with fashion, and the answer is ‘everything.’ Fashion is a performance. Pence swings like a madman. He frequently faceplants in pursuit of the ball. His wild-eyed, tongue-wagging, bushy, ginger beard-sporting eccentricity make him a cross between a circus side-show contortionist and a genetically modified human face, at least in terms of the mesmerizing spectrum.

Pence also wears just one batting glove, like an early 1990s slugger. It’s ballsy (pun intended) and statement-making (what exactly that statement is, I’m unsure of, but that’s what makes it art). The artfulness is completely in the ambiguity. It is impossible to watch Pence without preserving a sense of irony. Doing so would be like reading out loud the poem “Jabberwocky” in a monotone.

Fascinatingly, Pence has become the subject of fans’ light-hearted ridicule, his name appearing on derisive signs like “Hunter Pence hates bacon” and “Hunter Pence can’t parallel park.” If I’m not mistaken, Hunter Pence has become the subject of a cult of personality. And he deserves it.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: we as mere mortals have little in common with professional sportsmen blessed with immeasurable athletic ability. But, Pence’s presence makes the game of baseball that much more relatable for the rest of us, especially for the casual sports fan.

— Contact Rupsha Basu at 

rupsha.basu@emory.edu

 

Photo Courtesy of William Warby on Flikr

Photo Courtesy of William Warby on Flikr

By Jenna Kingsley

Andrew Wilson is a junior on the Emory men’s swimming and diving team. Hailing from Bethesda, Md., he is part of a family of athletes; his mother was a gymnast at  Yale and his sister swam at Northwestern. He was named a University Athletic Association (UAA) Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week for his performance in the Oct. 18 meet against UNC-Wilmington.

The Emory Wheel: How long have you been swimming?

Andrew Wilson: I probably started swimming when I was four years old.

EW: How did you get into competitive swimming?

AW: I swam summer league when I was a kid, and I did that until I was 18. I also swam in high school.

EW: Do you ever get tired of the water?

AW: I get tired of the chlorine. It dries out your skin. Other than that, not really.

EW: Do you have a pre-game ritual?

AW: Yeah — I usually get to the pool pretty early and do a lot of stretching and listen to music; I don’t really talk much. For warm up, during the season for dual meets, [Head Coach Jon Howell] gives an assigned warm up. But during the big meets, I’ll do my own warm up.

EW: Favorite stroke?

AW: Breaststroke.

EW: Least favorite stroke?

AW: Backstroke. I can’t swim backstroke.

EW: Favorite and least favorite event?

AW: My favorite is the 100 breast and least favorite is the 500 free.

EW: Pump-up song?

AW: It usually changes from year-to-year. Right now, it’s probably “Rap God” by Eminem. But I also listen to a lot of M83.

EW: Speedos or jammers?

AW: Definitely speedos.

— By Jenna Kingsley, Social Media Editor and Special Sections Editor

By Jacob Durst & Nathan Janick

The NBA season kicks off tonight, and with its start comes part two of three in our 2014-2015 projections. These are the teams that will make some noise this season, but with their current rosters, it’s really hard for us to see them making it to the finals. They’re not quite bad enough to be called bad and not quite good enough to be called good. Our individual rankings are in parentheses.

Middle of the Middle Tier: One Sam Presti trade away from success.  

12) Toronto Raptors (Durst: 11, Janick: 12)

Jacob Durst: Barring an injury to Kyle Lowry, I think this is a third or fourth seed in the East.

Nathan Janick: I think they will be a little better than last year because they have another year to develop their young talent and play together, but I feel like other teams in the east did a lot more in the off-season.

JD: In this case, less is more. DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas have another year to develop. Kyle Lowry should have been an all-star last year, and he likely will be one this year.

NJ: This team has a lot of pieces, but they are one elite player way. Get Sam Presti on the line and have Drake start talking to Kevin Durant.

11) Memphis Grizzlies (Durst: 10, Janick: 11)

JD: I can’t help but feel that this team is too low on the list. They play elite defense, anchored by Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, and throw in Vinsanity (Vince Carter) and you have a team that will give a lot of teams trouble.

NJ: Like Toronto I really like the pieces on this team, but they are one superstar or two all-stars away from being able to make a run deep into the Western Conference playoffs. If this team was in the East, I could see them giving Cleveland and Chicago a lot of trouble.

JD: They are one go-to guy on offense away from giving anyone serious problems, and all of last year showed was that Tayshaun Prince is not that guy.

NJ: Tayshaun has not been that guy since we were starting high school. My other concern is whether Zach Randolph can hold up or if he going to continue to slip.

D: Prince hasn’t been that since Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) was actually Ron Artest. Their defense is going to give people problems night-in and night-out, but ultimately, I don’t think they’re going to be able to put up the points to stay relevant.

10) Washington Wizards (Durst: 12, Janick: 8)

NJ: I had this team a lot higher on my rankings. They miraculously didn’t overpay Marcin Gortat, and I love the Paul Pierce signing. I believe his veteran leadership will go a long way.

JD: I like John Wall, and that’s it. If this team was in the West, it would be a bottom-five team. They are on this list solely because they are in the East. However, I think this team can contend for a three seed in the East.

NJ: This team we disagree on most. I really like the Wall and Bradley Beal combo in the backcourt. I think both of these players have the potential to make a big leap this year. I expect both of them to make the all-star team this year and emerge as elite players at their position.

JD: I don’t know if Beal will ever be anything more than a glorified shooting specialist. I don’t really see a lot more to his game. That’s no knock on him, but Washington will need him to be more than that to make Cleveland and Chicago worry. I like Wall but he might be James Harden lite, in the sense that he’s a good to great offensive player, but his defense is a little lacking.

NJ: They are both really young and I think their defense will develop with age since they are so athletic. This year will likely prove which one of us is right.

JD: Nate, who has the most potential to become the new Gilbert Arenas?

NJ: I think this organization had a party when they didn’t have to pay his contract anymore.

9) Dallas Mavericks (Durst: 9, Janick: 9)

JD: I think that this team could be sneaky good. Rick Carlisle is the second best coach in the league behind Gregg Popovich. Dirk Nowitzki does Dirk things. They have a semi-decent rim protector in Tyson Chandler, and if anyone can turn Chandler Parsons into a full on star, its Carlisle.

NJ: I completely agree. Carlisle the Monta Ellis tamer. Lets not forget that they took the Spurs to Game Seven last year and were a few plays away from winning the series.

JD: If someone big on a team ranked higher gets hurt, Dallas could be moving up in the world. I think this team might be better than the one with which they won the title with in 2011.

Top of the Middle Tier: One step away from a memorable season:

8) Houston Rockets (Durst: 6, Janick: 10)

NJ: This is the other team we disagreed on. This largely has to do with the fact that you are a from Texas.

JD: Say what you will about me being biased, but James Harden and Dwight Howard are still James Harden and Dwight Howard, and are still the best players in the league at their respective positions.

NJ: Harden’s defense resembles a McDonald’s drive through, anybody is able to drive through. They also have absolutely no bench. One injury to Harden or Howard and this team won’t make the playoffs.

JD: I’ll give you the bench comment, but I think that a couple of their young players could prove to be serviceable role players, which is all they need. I like the signing of Trevor Ariza precisely because of Harden’s defense: it gives them another perimeter stopper to pair with Beverly.

NJ: If Ariza plays like he does when he is in a contract year, then this signing will be great, but he is yet to prove himself when he has a large multi-year contact.

JD: If Ariza plays like he did last year, and the bench proves to be average, they will be a top four seed in the West again.

7) Portland Trail Blazers (JD: 8, NJ: 7)

NJ: I think this team will go as far as Damian Lillard takes them.

JD: Don’t forget LaMarcus Aldridge, cause they certainly have no one else.

NJ: I feel like we all know what we will get out of Aldridge. Lillard made a huge leap in the playoffs last year so the question is whether he will continue that level of performance during the season this year. They are still a piece away from being able to compete with the top-tier teams in the West.

JD: I feel like we know what we have with Portland, and they didn’t get better this offseason. They lost a key bench piece in Mo Williams, and their bench was bad last year. I think they could be a major regression candidate, especially considering their huge start to last year, which really helped out their .500 second half.

NJ: This team is like Maggie’s: it’s hard to get excited about it, and it has potential, but has a high probability of letting you down.

6) Golden State Warriors (Durst: 7, Janick: 6)

JD: Let’s get this out of the way: not trading for Kevin Love will haunt this team for years.

NJ: We’ll know by the All-Star break whether holding onto Klay Thompson was worth giving up the hope of the shooting mega-duo of Kevin Love and Stephen Curry.

JD: I think what’s a lot more likely is that Curry gets injured and the Warriors realize that without a playmaker around him, Thompson is worthless. They wouldn’t have had that problem with Kevin Love.

NJ: I think their problems root back to the Andre Iguodala trade. They gave up a majority of their tradable assets assuming Iguodala would continue to be an elite all-star, but his time in Golden State has proven otherwise.

JD: New question: is it time to give up on Harrison Barnes?

NJ: It’s not time to give up on him as a contributor for a contender, but since his arrival at the University of North Carolina as a preseason all-American freshman, he has proven that he isn’t a star on a night-to-night basis.

JD: I don’t think we’re ever going to see the Harrison Barnes from that Denver series a couple of years ago. However, I think David Lee would start alongside Harden on a “Worst-Defenders in the NBA” roster.

NJ: The other thing we can count on is that Andrew Bogut will be spending a significant amount of time in the training room.

— By Jacob Durst & Nathan Janick, Contributing Writers

 

 

Sophomore Bailey Plummer rounds the ball. After losing one and tying two of their last three games,  Plummer and the Eagles shutout LaGrange College (Ga.) 9-0 last Wednesday. | Courtesy of Emory Athletics

Sophomore Bailey Plummer rounds the ball. After losing one and tying two of their last three games,
Plummer and the Eagles shutout LaGrange College (Ga.) 9-0 last Wednesday. | Courtesy of Emory Athletics

By Jenny Nutovits

Last Wednesday, taking 21 shots on goal, Emory University’s women’s soccer team dominated LaGrange College (Ga.) 9-0.

The No. 19-ranked Eagles improved to 8-1-5 on the season, while the LaGrange Panthers fell to 5-12-0.

The Eagle’s offense came to life early in the game, scoring the first goal at the 3:15 mark. Senior forward Claudia Rowe scored her third goal of the season off of an assist from Senior forward Kaitlyn Dorka. Dorka went on to contribute a goal of her own at the 18:16 mark, bringing her to three goals this season as well.

Senior forward Karina Rodriguez was able to knock in a pair of consecutive goals in the 23rd and 25th minute marks. Sophomore forward Cristina Ramirez assisted the first, while the second marked Dorka’s second assist of the game.

The remaining three goals scored by the Eagles in the first half came from players each scoring their first goals of the campaign. Freshman center midfielder Anna Gurney was able to score at the 30:50 mark notching her first goal. Junior center midfielder Chloe Donegan sccored her first goal during the 38th minute off of an assist from Gurney. Freshman forward Blair Ely knocked in the last goal before halftime at the 40th minute, allowing the Eagles to go into halftime with a seven-goal lead.

“We finally came together and played cohesively for a great result,” senior captain and center midfielder Meredith Doherty said.

Scoring the first goal of the second half and of her season career was freshman forward Emily Franty with the help of an assist from Donegan in the 64th minute of match time. Franty was able to knock in her second goal five minutes later off of an assist from freshman defender Lindsay Wilson, finishing off the scoring for the Eagles.

“We see this as a turning point in our season where we can progress and move forward,” Doherty said.

This nine-goal game marks the first seen for the Eagles since their 2012 win over Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.). It was also the team’s first win since its Oct. 7 victory over Covenant College (Ga.).

“We were able to settle down after some tough games the weekend before and play our game,” junior goalkeeper Kristin Temple said.

Although the game marked Temple’s first career start in goal, she did not need to make a single save during the contest, as Emory’s defense registered its seventh shutout of the year.

“I didn’t have to make any crazy saves, or any saves at all, really, but that’s a good thing because it meant that our defense was doing its job,” Temple said.

The Eagles return to action today at Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) for their last non-conference game this year. This game serves as a make-up for two rained out contests from Sept. 12 and Oct. 13.

— By Jenny Nutovits, Staff Writer

The Emory club women’s water polo team huddles at last weekend’s Emory Invitational (top left). Senior Hayley Huffman takes a shot on an opposing team’s goal (top right).  Senior Shannon Lin passes to a teammate (bottom left). Masters of Public Health student Caitlin Casey battles the ball away from the opposition (bottom right). | Courtesy of Abigail Chambers

The Emory club women’s water polo team huddles at last weekend’s Emory Invitational (top left). Senior Hayley Huffman takes a shot on an opposing team’s goal (top right).
Senior Shannon Lin passes to a teammate (bottom left). Masters of Public Health student Caitlin Casey battles the ball away from the opposition (bottom right). | Courtesy of Abigail Chambers

By Ryan Smith

Seven years ago, the Emory women’s water polo team was a group of 10 players who saw the team as a hobby rather than a commitment. Fast forward to 2014, and it has blossomed into one of the most competitive club teams in the nation, a unique blend of veterans and novices all tied together by their love for the sport and one another.

Each player has their own story about how they wound up in the Woodruff P.E. Center pool. Senior Abigail Chambers was a swimmer who suffered an injury in high school and was forced to pick up a new sport in college. For junior Adi Rosenthal, now the team’s president, a competitive water polo team was a crucial part of her decision when choosing a college. Assistant Coach Neal Laxpati has 15 years of experience with the sport and is pursuing a MD/Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering at Emory and Georgia Tech while playing goalie for the Tech men’s team.

Fittingly, the Eagles are a bit of an anomaly in the Southeast division of the College Water Polo Association (CWPA), a group dominated by Florida schools that play three league tournaments against each other in the spring and participate in invitationals in the fall. A team’s strategy can be heavily influenced by location — the Florida teams tend to be strong swimmers who play up-tempo, while other teams are more focused on strategy and fundamentals. Emory, a Georgia school in a division full of Floridians, sees itself as a middle ground.

“I think we’re kind of in between,” Chambers said. “We have a lot of girls who come from a swimming background, which gives us a lot of speed. But we also have girls who played in high school.”

This diverse bunch results in what Chambers calls an “intellectual” approach, predicated on chemistry and familiarity with teammates. The close-knit Eagles squad has been able to build a reputation in the pool for both their talents and intelligence.

“Being the team with the highest GPA in the country really shows in the pool by how smart we play,” Rosenthal said, adding that the team often picks up compliments from both opposing teams and referees for their cerebral play.

The team had a splendid opportunity to showcase itself against teams both in and out of the Southeast Division last weekend when they hosted the second annual Emory Invitational, which featured three days of matches from teams across the region. Participants ranged from big-name Division I schools — Vanderbilt University (Tenn.), Florida State University, University of Florida, University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech — to local squads — Georgia United and Lakeside High School.

The Eagles broke into two teams, “Emory 1” and “Emory 2,” in order to give each player the best shot at playing time and the chance to make a statement for inclusion on the Eagles’ top team in the spring.

“It’s a lot of seeing where people fit in and seeing how the team works together,” Chambers said.

The results were encouraging. “Emory 1” defeated Vanderbilt 11-9 on Saturday and took University of Florida to overtime in a 12-10 loss. Rosenthal shined with a team-high five goals against Florida, while sophomore Julia Caldwell led with four against Vanderbilt.

Not to be outdone, the “Emory 2” claimed a Division I scalp of their own, easily topping Georgia Tech 9-4 on Sunday. Senior Amanda Durbin led the way for Emory with three goals.

“[Playing Division I schools] can be a little intimidating for the new players, but we’re really good at keeping each other calm and keeping each other in check,” Chambers said. “We compete really well with those teams.”

It was a par for the course for a team that excels in the pool by first building strong relationships outside of it. Laxpati, a veteran of the sport who’s played since high school, praised his team not only for their dedication and perseverance, but the ways in which they’ve grown as human beings.

“The point of what we’re doing is not to win games or go to Nationals,” Laxpati said. “The point is to build a program where we can build strong, amazing women.”

— By Ryan Smith, Associate Editor

 

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