Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

Videos: An All-Star Experience, WPS Style

July 3rd, 2010

Philadelphia Independence's Amy Rodriguez lobs the ball over goalkeeper Jillian Loyden to score her team's fifth goal.

Atlanta Beat's Aya Miyama leaps into her arms, while Washington Freedom's Sonia Bompastor, Chicago Red Stars' Cristiane, and Boston Breakers' Alex Scott give her high fives.

From the opposing team, Cat Whitehill claps in approval and Lauren Cheney offers her congratulations.

Only at the WPS All-Star Game.


Day 1

I arrive in Atlanta and share a shuttle to the hotel in Kennesaw with The Equalizer 's Jeff Kassouf and Boston Breakers' Kelly Smith, Alex Scott, and Lauren Cheney. Functioning with only two hours of sleep, I was counting on taking a nap in my room before heading out to the Welcome Festival downtown.

Not to be, as I realize I left my firewire cable back home and have no way to transfer videos to my laptop. For the next two and a half hours, I went on a quest to find the right cable (shout out to Adam, Embassy Suite's shuttle driver, for driving me to all the electronics stores within a 5-mile radius).

After checking the Centennial Park out where the Welcome Festival was held, I proceed to nearby sports bar STATS with Kassouf, ISI Photos' Howard C. Smith, and WPS Director of Communications Rob Penner for the league's first ever Pick 'Em Event.

As you can see in the video, fun was had by everybody. Some friendly trash-talking was exchanged, and a trade was suggested by Marta XI. The U.S. WNT...I mean Abby XI, however, refused as they chanted "No deal! No deal! No deal!"

Atlanta Beat players also came to check out how the Pick 'Em would go (shout out to Manya Makoski who had to leave early to watch The Bachelorette). 


Day 2

With a 10 AM practice, the hotel's complimentary breakfast area was packed with players and coaches. After sharing a table with tweeps Natalie Smith and Jenna Pel, and stuffing my face with the breakfast of champions, I get ready for what would be a hot day.

Penner drives me, Pel, Kassouf, and 's Giovanni Albanese, Jr. to the Atlanta Beat's home and the venue of the 2010 WPS All-Star Game, the new KSU Soccer Stadium. The Beat's Christa Mann gives us out-of-town media folks a private tour of the place. My take? Very, very impressive. Arguably the best stadium of that size in the country (but I think the grass is better at the Maryland Soccerplex...and that's not because I live in Maryland).

As it nears 11 o'clock, we go downstairs (and out of the air-conditioned press box ), to check out the practices of the two all-star teams in the sweltering summer heat.

Thank you Cat Whitehill for giving me a quick break from my job by doing the interviewing for me. What wasn't caught on video: Karen Bardsley getting injured. The Sky Blue FC goalkeeper took to the bench under the tent where she got her shoulder iced.

We would later find out the extent of the injury—six to eight weeks out? Yikes. Bad timing for the all-star starter and one of the breakout stars of the season. A huge blow for Sky Blue FC.

After practice, everyone gets ready for the Spain-Portugal World Cup match. Some stay in their rooms to watch, while others go out. I edit videos while monitoring the game on TV.

Headphones are always useful when editing audio, and while I was wearing these, I had no idea Erin McLeod was trying to contact me to move the venue of our interview. My bad. 

Game over with Spain advancing (yay!) and I go downstairs to the lobby to do a video interview of McLeod for Connect World Football.

Quote of the day: "Mmm that's some great-tasting no-brand water," as McLeod drinks her bottled water on-camera while covering the label to prevent product placement.

While the all-stars have dinner at the hotel's steakhouse, out-of-town journalists are treated by WPS PR to dinner at Elevation Chophouse. The league office's new media experts Karyn Lush and Amanda Vandervort order the most interesting margaritas I've ever seen.


I get tempted to order one, however, I face a long night of editing so maybe not. Iced tea it is.

Great dinner with all of these soccer minds in one table. Notable topics of discussion that came up: a replacement for Karen Bardsley and the (sad?) state of the Boston Breakers.


Day 3

Finally finished editing videos at 4 AM, so I leave one video uploading on YouTube while I go to sleep.

I wake up at 8:30 AM, and it was still not done uploading. Basically I spent all morning and afternoon getting two videos to upload. Thanks, hotel's $10/day wi-fi connection. Thanks.




Game time and I take the shuttle WPS has arranged to get people from the hotel to the stadium. As we arrive at the KSU Soccer Stadium, I make a beeline to the press conference room where the all-stars would be having a photo shoot.

Quote of the day: "Can you see my wrinkle?" Abby XI head coach Paul Riley during his shoot.

I then proceed to the field to take some video of the warm ups. As the players get ready to walk out, I situate myself at the corner where I can sit while taking video. Along comes soccer legend Michelle Akers to greet Abby Wambach and Hope Solo.

That's right, I was a few feet away from greatness.

National anthem, intros, on.

The team known as the "United Nations" come out victorious with a 5-2 final score. Flair won over chemistry tonight.

One thing I love about the WPS All-Star Game (ASG) was how much fun the players were having on the field. The exhibition game was not to be taken too seriously anyway. We see Hope Solo smiling after Marta scores the first goal on her, Whitehill yelling "Come on!" to Washington Freedom teammate and ASG opponent Bompastor after blocking the Frenchwoman's shot, and Breakers teammates and ASG opponents Lauren Cheney and Alex Scott sharing a laugh after fighting for a ball.

It's also great to see players who usually play hard against each other in WPS games (and even international matches), play with each other at the ASG. Rodriguez hugging Cristiane for assisting her goal? Marta passing the ball to Kelly Smith? What?

Only at the WPS All-Star Game.

Huge thank you to WPS for this awesome 3-day experience. 

What Does Signing of Steve Blake Mean For The Lakers Off-Season?

July 3rd, 2010

The Lakers announced today that they have reached a 4-year, $16 million agreement with 30-year-old point guard Steve Blake.

Blake entered the NBA highly regarded out of Maryland where he was a key part of their Final Four team in 2001 and their National Championship team in 2002.

The 6-3 point guard isn't known for his scoring ability (he only averaged 7.5 points per game in his career), but has averaged four assists per game over his career in just over 25 minutes per game.

After being traded to the Clippers late last season, Blake averaged over six assists per game in only 26 minutes per game, a noticeable uptick in production.

There were some whispers of Blake and the Lakers having mutual interest in each other in the weeks leading up to July 1st, so this isn't a surprise signing by any stretch of the imagination.

The four year deal that Blake just signed may suggest that he will get some stability and be with the Lakers for a while.

What does that mean for Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown, the three free agent guards from the Lakers?

First of all, even though the Lakers signed a guy at his position, this signing probably has no impact on the decision regarding Derek Fisher. The Lakers still have the opportunity to sign Fisher if they want to, and Blake's signing shouldn't impact that decision too much.

We all know Fish can't handle the workload of being one of the Lakers' top minute-men anymore, so Blake's signing could mean that Fisher and Blake would split minutes almost evenly at the point.

Going into the off-season, it was probably unlikely that the Lakers could bring back all three of their free agent guards.

With the signing of Steve Blake, it is now a certainty that they can only bring back two of those free agents, and it probably means that they can only bring back one of Farmar or Brown.

Which one, if either, should the Lakers focus on bringing back?

If I were the Lakers, I'd probably focus on bringing Shannon Brown back, even though I believe that Farmar is the better player.

Think about it. Farmar wants to be a starter somewhere where they don't run the triangle offense. He has enough talent to be wanted in the NBA as a starter, so I don't see much the Lakers can do to keep him in town.

Also, Phil Jackson has announced that he will be coming back for a final season next year, so L.A. doesn't seem like a likely destination for Farmar.

Because of that fact, the Lakers should avoid letting Shannon Brown slip from their grasp and lock him up as soon as possible.

The guard provided a ton of good minutes during the playoffs and was critical in many of the Lakers wins down the stretch. Plus, he is only 24 and has plenty of time to keep growing into a starting point guard in this league.

Even though the Lakers are clearly the best team in the NBA right now, they still need to have an eye for the future. The biggest mistake the Lakers could make is being stuck with only two 30+ point guards by allowing both Farmar and Brown to walk.

Both of those players could want a better chance at starting in another place, but it is up to the Lakers to convince at least one of them to stay on.

College Football’s 10 Respected Programs Still Reaching for a BCS Bowl

July 3rd, 2010
The Bowl Championship Series was introduced to the college football nation during the 1998-1999 season. Originally it was composed of four bowl games (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Rose) with a fifth (BCS National Championship Game) later added. A total of 44 schools have played in a BCS bowl game since the 1998 season. These prestigious bowl games have seen the likes of Purdue, Kansas, Stanford, Maryland, and Washington State, along with other inconsistent programs. Here are 10 respected programs still attempting to reach their first BCS bowl.

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Washington Wizards Unofficial 2010 Summer League Roster

July 3rd, 2010

A few teams are beginning to publish their 2010 Summer League rosters.  As I am writing this, the Wizards are not yet one of those teams. 

However, unofficially, the roster seems to be taking shape.

Please note that the majority of this list was compiled by Scott Schroeder at Ridiculous Upside .  As this is an unofficial list, it is subject to change.

PG - John Wall , Jerome Randle , Sun Yue , Cedric Jackson

SG - Cartier Martin , Eric Hayes , Jon Scheyer (via @draftexpress )

SF - Raymar Morgan , Kyle Spain , Kevin Palmer

PF - Trevor Booker , James “Boo” Jackson , Michael Sweetney

C - JaVale McGee , Hamady N’Diaye

According to the Post’s Michael Lee , the Wizards Summer League squad will be without PF Kevin Seraphin , who continues to recover from a knee injury.

As it stands, this team has a nice mix, with JaVale McGee getting some work during the summer, a couple of 2009/10 Wizards trying to earn a spot on the team (Cedric Jackson and Cartier martin), newly drafted Wizards (Wall, Booker, and N’Diaye); D-Leaguers looking for a shot (Michael Sweetney and Boo Jackson), and finally, undrafted free agents.

Clearly, I, like everyone else, am looking forward to our first chance of seeing John Wall, Trevor Booker, and Hamady N’Diaye play for the Wiz—even if it is only the Summer League . 

So setting that aside, I am probably most intrigued by Sun Yue .  Since my days growing up idolizing Magic Johnson, I have been fascinated by big point guards.  And while the only thing that I will claim that Sun Yue has in common with the greatest point guard ever (IMHO) is his height at 6’9". 

Nevertheless, I am intrigued.

In 2007, he was drafted in the second round by the Lakers but was left overseas until 2008.

During an interview, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said the following about Yue:

“I spoke to Kobe last week, because Team USA played against China and Kobe said that he knew who the guy was. He said he was competitive and feisty and he did not back down.

"I know that he's athletic enough. I like his size, I like his skill level. I think he's a ball handling guard at 6'8". Those are all positives, but he hasn't played at this level and I think he'll show well, but the NBA is a different game. He'll face challenges he hasn't faced before, but I don’t think he'll back down.

"I think he'll embrace the challenge, and at the end of the day, if the guy is good enough after 28 days of training camp (and preseason), we'll know it and he'll make the team.

"It's not something that will be ferreted out in a week or two, maybe some guys will know in a week if they're good enough, but if you're with the team for 28 days, we'll know and he'll know too (if he's good enough).”

Ultimately, the Lakers waived him in 2009.  When the Lakers waived him , Mitch Kupchak said that given the talent currently on his team, he did not feel that Yue would get any playing time. He was picked up very briefly by the Knicks in 2009. Sun Yue has played for his national team and in both the ABA and NBDL.

Yue strikes me as a perfectly intriguing player, one that a team should provide with an opportunity during the Summer League.  It is not very often that you can take a peek at a 6’9” 212 lbs true PG who can also potentially play SG or SF.

However, Yue’s overall athletic ability, strength, and outside shooting touch were his main drawbacks when he first tried to break into the league—all very substantial concerns. 

This is the perfect place to attempt to get a feel for how hard he has been working on those deficiencies.  If he has, then this could be his opportunity to earn an invitation to the Wizards (or some other team’s) training camp.

When looking at the undrafted free agents, I am probably most intrigued by the competition that will likely develop between Maryland’s Eric Hayes and Duke’s Jon Scheyer. 

In many respects, they are identical players. While the Wizards will need players who can hit open threes, I don’t think that either will ultimately make the team.  It will be interesting to see them both battle to earn an invitation to training camp this fall.

NBA Free Agency 2010: Top Destinations for Steve Blake

July 2nd, 2010
It's free agency season and rumors continue to whirl. But while all the talk remains on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, there are other players who could see a pay raise with new teams this off-season. While last year was the summer of the point guard, choices are limited during summer 2010. Clippers point guard Steve Blake, 30, is said to be able to command a contract around the $4.93 million he made last season. Here's a list of the top-five destinations for the six-year guard out of Maryland.

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