The Play by Play
Saturday certainly did Rivalry Weekend proud. First and foremost, there were two huge upsets that might entirely restructure the playoff picture, with 3rd ranked Miami losing to Pitt and number 1 Alabama falling to Auburn. Secondly, more than twenty of the sixty plus games featured true rivals, teams with histories of hating each other. What might prove more enjoyable than these games themselves, however, are the names of the trophies for which the teams fought. A few of the classics, having been traded back and forth for decades, are Paul Bunyan’s Axe (Wisconsin v. Minnesota since 1948), the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana v. Purdue since 1925), the Golden Egg (Ole Miss v. Mississippi State since 1927), and the Jeweled Shillelagh (Notre Dame v. USC since 1952). Although, some of the newer rivalry trophies are giving the old-timers a run for their money, particularly the Milk Can and Platypus.
Three is NOT a Crowd
In one of the most interesting fourth quarters in college basketball, Alabama was forced to play the final 10:41 with only three players on the court (remember a team usually has five on at a time). It all began when two players exchanged insults and Mason, from Minnesota, found himself ejected. With tensions already high, Dupree McBrayer and Dazon Ingram then got tangled up below the basket, causing a shoving match to break out between both teams. In the excitement, the entire Alabama bench (those teammates sitting on the sideline waiting to play) leapt onto the court. Because that is a rule violation, once the referees regained control, they ejected the entire Alabama bench, leaving the five players currently on the court to play the remainder of the game. And then, as if that weren’t bad enough, a few minutes later, Ingram fouled out (a player is only allowed four fouls and upon committing the fifth, must leave the game), bringing Alabama down to four players. Moments after, John Petty exited with an ankle injury. That left just three Alabama players, with no subs, on the court against five Gophers for more than half of the fourth quarter. Amazingly, despite being two-players down, they outscored Minnesota 30-22. Collin Sexton, a freshman, is credited with keeping his team in the game, despite eventually losing to the Gophers 89-84.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female- Becky Hammon (Basketball): Former WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) player and now assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Hired in 2014, she became the first full-time salaried female coach in NBA history. She also took the reins as head coach of the Spurs summer league team in 2015, a first for a woman as well.
Baker Mayfield (College Football): Quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Following some very inappropriate behavior aimed at Kansas fans (prolific swearing and crotch grabbing), Mayfield was temporarily stripped of his captaincy and suspended for the start of last weekend’s game against West Virginia. Despite Baker’s actions, he only sat out one series and his fellow captains carried out his jersey to the coin flip, as a sign of their continued support, since Baker himself could not participate. Mayfield is still the top candidate for this year’s Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best college football player each year, making it seem as though somewhat distasteful behavior is no deterrent in deciding who gets the trophy. And Mayfield certainly isn’t alone as previous winners have also found themselves in the lime light for unsavory actions. Both Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston were suspended while playing in college (although this occurred the year following their win) and had run ins with the law, for alcohol use and assault.
Ray Lewis and Randy Moss (Football): Two semi-finalists in the 2018 Hall of Fame class. While voting to finalize the five spots does not happen until February, both Ray and Randy are considered shoo ins, despite somewhat controversial activities during their careers. Moss, famous for his ability to catch anything thrown in his direction, also had a “I play when I want to” reputation, at times leaving games early when he no longer felt like playing. Lewis is considered by many to be one of the best linebackers of all time and, based on skill, there’s no question he belongs in the HOF. Yet in 2000, he found himself in the middle of a murder investigation. While Lewis was eventually only charged with obstruction of justice, and actually testified against his two friends, it is still unclear exactly what happened the night that Richard Lollar was killed.
The Midweek Rundown
We’ve spent the last few weeks on hockey but since it isn’t the only sport currently in season, let’s take some time to look at the rules of basketball. Most whistles are the result of either a foul or a violation. This week (and next, so that you aren’t overwhelmed by too many rules), the Rundown will focus on the latter, explaining the most common and most minor illegal actions in basketball.
- Traveling: As a player moves around the court with the basketball, he or she must always be dribbling (bouncing) the ball. When a player stops dribbling, he/she is allowed to move one foot, while the other must stay on the floor as a “pivot” foot. Traveling occurs when a player lifts his or her pivot foot off the ground and then puts it back down again without having passed or shot the ball.
- Double dribble: Committed when a player is dribbling the ball, stops, and then starts dribbling again. Once a player stops dribbling, he or she must pass or shoot the ball.
- Goaltending: When a player interferes with a shot that is above the rim and still on a downward path toward the basket. If it is committed by a defensive player, the basket counts. When an offensive player commits a goaltending violation, the basket does not count.
The penalty for these minor violations is loss of possession, aka the other team gets the ball.
Anaheim Ducks v. St. Louis Blues (Hockey): While the Ducks are 21st out of 31 teams in the most recent power rankings, the Blues have moved into the top spot. Players like Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko bring power to St. Louis’ offense, with 35 goals scored between the three of them. And their fourth line, jokingly called the Century Line because the collective age of the three forwards is 101 years and 317 days, brings the energy. Worth tuning in tonight at 9pm simply to watch some old timers continue to enjoy, and excel at, the sport they love.
Los Angeles Kings v. Washington Capitals (Hockey): Two top 10 teams, although LA has struggled recently. After starting the season 12-3, the Kings have lost seven of their last ten games, mostly due to their inability to score. Yet their goaltending has remained strong, with Jonathan Quick in the net, and in their most recent game against the Red Wings Anze Kopitar finally started to look like the offensive firepower he’s known to be. Should make for an interesting matchup against the goal-scoring machine Alexander Ovechkin. Puck drops Thursday at 7pm.