MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
MIAMI 11 TORONTO 0
NY METS 11 HOUSTON 1
DETROIT 6 KANSAS CITY 4
BOSTON 9 MINNESOTA 3
TEXAS 5 CHICAGO WHITE SOX 2
ST. LOUIS 8 WASHINGTON 6
CHICAGO CUBS 8 PITTSBURGH 0
CINCINNATI 5 COLORADO 4
ARIZONA 9 MILWAUKEE 1
SAN FRANCISCO 7 SAN DIEGO 4 (10)
COLLEGE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES
MONDAY, JUNE 19
TENNESSEE 6, STANFORD 4 (STANFORD ELIMINATED)
WAKE FOREST 3, LSU 2
TUESDAY, JUNE 20
ORAL ROBERTS VS. TCU, 2 P.M. ET, ESPN (ELIMINATION GAME)
TENNESSEE VS. LSU, 7 P.M. ET, ESPN (ELIMINATION GAME)
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21
FLORIDA VS. TBD, 2 P.M. ET, ESPN
WAKE FOREST VS. TBD, 7 P.M. ET, ESPN
TOP NATIONAL HEADLINES
VICTOR WEMBANYAMA ARRIVES IN US FROM FRANCE AHEAD OF THURSDAY’S NBA DRAFT
Victor Wembanyama has arrived in the U.S. for the NBA draft.
The plane from France carrying Wembanyama — who almost certainly will be taken by the San Antonio Spurs with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s draft — arrived at Newark International Airport outside of New York City on Monday.
And even before becoming an NBA star, he got his first official taste of NBA stardom.
Some fans knew what flight he was on and when the plane was landing, and many were waiting. Wembanyama cheerfully signed autographs, scrawling his name onto basketballs and Spurs jerseys — some even with his name already on the back — before making his way into a waiting vehicle.
“I don’t know how they knew what flight I was on, but it’s fun,” Wembanyama said in a video distributed on the NBA’s social media channels as he walked through the New Jersey airport, ducking his head to avoid some of the signage bolted to the terminal’s ceiling. “It’s different, seeing that you can have such impact on people.”
It’s the start of a hectic few days for the 19-year-old French phenom who long has been considered a generational prospect the likes of which hasn’t been seen since LeBron James entered the league in 2003. Wembanyama is expected to appear at a pre-draft media availability on Wednesday, then has the actual draft Thursday and likely will be in San Antonio sometime Friday.
The rest of his summer won’t exactly be slow, either.
Wembanyama already has been announced as one of the expected participants in the inaugural NBA Con in Las Vegas coinciding with the start of Summer League there from July 7-9, and he has said he wants to play for France in the Basketball World Cup that will take place in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan starting in late August and running through Sept. 10.
ALABAMA’S BRANDON MILLER TOPS AP’S LIST OF TALENTED 1-AND-DONE FORWARDS IN THE NBA DRAFT
Brandon Miller rapidly became an elite NBA draft prospect in his lone season at Alabama.
He headlines The Associated Press’ list of forwards and could go as high as second overall behind presumptive No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama. There are other one-and-done prospects such as Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, Houston’s Jarace Walker and Central Florida’s Taylor Hendricks as potential top-10 picks.
Here’s a look at the top forwards in the draft:
BRANDON MILLER, Alabama
STRENGTHS: Miller, 20, went from McDonald’s All-American to AP first-team All-American. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 38.4% from 3-point range and 85.9% from the foul line. He also showed the ability to play off the dribble or attack the rim, along with quality play on the defensive end behind the length to chase multiple positions. It adds up to a mix of shooting, athleticism and size suited for today’s NBA game that demands versatility on the wing.
CONCERNS: He needs bulk on a 200-pound frame to handle bumps and physical play at both ends. He faded late after dealing with a groin injury, including averaging 9.3 points on 8-for-41 shooting (19.5%) and going 3 for 19 from 3-point range in three NCAA Tournament games as the Crimson Tide fell in the Sweet 16 despite being the top overall seed.
There’s also his ties to a significant off-court issue: A murder case that led to former Tide player Darius Miles and another man being indicted on capital murder charges. A police investigator testified in February that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun that night. Miller hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing and continued to play, though the ongoing case brought intense scrutiny through the second half of the season on Miller and the Alabama program.
CAM WHITMORE, Villanova
STRENGTHS: The McDonald’s All-American got a late start to the season due to thumb surgery, but became the Big East freshman of the year. Whitmore, who turns 19 in July, has an NBA-ready frame (roughly 6-6 without shoes, 235 pounds) and athleticism to attack off the dribble. He ranked tied for third at the NBA combine in max vertical leap (40.5 inches). And he shot 37.3% on 3s after becoming a starter for the final 20 games.
CONCERNS: He shot just 65.9% at the foul line as a starter and didn’t consistently create opportunities, having nearly as many games with no attempts (six) as those with three or more (seven).
JARACE WALKER, Houston
STRENGTHS: The McDonald’s All-American joined Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars program built on defense, rebounding and toughness — a formula typically better suited to older players. Yet the 6-7 forward fit right in as a 250-pound presence. He measured with a better than 7-2 wingspan at the NBA combine, ranked tied for third in standing vertical leap (34.5 inches) and tied for ninth in max vertical leap (38.0). Walker, 19, is strong enough to tussle with bigger opponents and nimble enough to switch onto wings.
CONCERNS: Walker’s stroke is still developing. He shot 34.7% from 3-point range and just 66.3% from the foul line.
TAYLOR HENDRICKS, Central Florida
STRENGTHS: The four-star recruit was a surprise, averaging 15.1 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 47.8% from the field and 78.2% from the line. Notably, he shot 39.4% from behind the arc and had only four games out of 33 in which he failed to hit a 3. Measuring slightly taller than 6-8 without shoes at the combine, Hendricks has athleticism and length (better than a 7-foot wingspan) that could help him become a two-way power forward for today’s floor-spaced game.
CONCERNS: The 19-year-old needs strength to a slender 213-pound frame. He also faced an AP Top 25 opponent twice all season, offering only a glimpse of how he handles top competition.
OTHERS OF NOTE
— GRADEY DICK: The Kansas one-and-done wing made 40.3% of 3-pointers as a potential lottery pick who can space the floor and potentially play as a guard. The 19-year-old measured at better than 6-6 without shoes at the NBA combine, though his minutes could depend on how he holds up defensively.
— BILAL COULIBALY: Wembanyama’s teammate in France offers his own intriguing skillset. Still just 18, the athletic 6-8 wing is a first-round prospect with disruptive-defender potential and the potential to be a quality 3-point shooter.
— G.G. JACKSON: The 18-year-old was set to be the nation’s No. 1 recruit for this season at North Carolina. Instead, he reclassified to enroll early and played a sometimes-frustrating season at South Carolina. The first-round prospect has a 6-8 frame with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, athleticism and shot-creating potential.
— KRIS MURRAY: The twin brother to Sacramento Kings rookie Keegan Murray more than doubled his scoring at Iowa last season (20.2, up from 9.7). The wing — who measured nearly 6-8 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan at the combine — turns 23 in August, hit 35% of his 3s over the past two seasons and could go in the back half of the first round.
NBA MOCK DRAFT
1 Spurs Victor Wemban-yama C – Mets 92 (France) – HT: 7-4 – WT: 230 – WING: 8-0 – Int.04 – The Spurs have an easy choice at no.1 with the franchise-altering Wembanyama. He’ll change the fortunes of the Spurs and change the skyline in San Antonio
2 Hornets Scoot Henderson PG – Ignite – HT: 6-3 – WT: 195 – WING: 6-9 – USA.04 – Whether it’s the Hornets making this pick or a different team, Scoot is too talented to pass up at no.2. He’s one of the best PG prospects I’ve ever evaluated. Could the Hornets land Zion Williamson in exchange for this pick?
3 Blazers Brandon Miller SF – Alabama – HT: 6-9 – WT: 200 – WING: 7-0 – Fr – The Blazers would love to add the high scoring Miller but this pick could also be traded for a win-now star. The top 3 picks look to be set. The only question is whether Scoot or Miller land at no.2.
4 Rockets Cam Whitmore SF – Villanova – HT: 6-5 3/4- WT: 234 – WING: 6-8 1/2 – Fr –. If the Rockets get James Harden back their most pressing need will be for an off-ball scorer. Whitmore could be that guy, sliding in between Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. This is yet another pick that could be on the move.
5 Pistons Jarace Walker PF – Houston – HT: 6-6 1/2 – WT: 248 – WING: 7-2 1/2 – Fr – The Pistons are set at guard and at center but need help on the wing. Walker is a combo forward who might not be the sexiest pick but projects as a really solid player who also has untapped upside. He’d look really good upfront paired with Duren. The only question will be around spacing the floor.
6 Magic Amen Thompson PG – City Reapers, OTE – HT: 6-5 3/4 – WT: 214 – WING: 7-0 – USA03 – This pick feels like a wildcard. If Amen falls this far he could be the target of a trade-up. Or the Magic could swing for Amen’s upside and look to move one of their current guards.
7 Pacers Taylor Hendricks PF – UCF – HT: 6-8 1/4 – WT: 213 – WING: 7-0 1/2 – Fr – A highly skilled big forward with shooting range and athletic upside. An awesome and versatile all around defender. The Pacers could use a young floor-spacing forward to pair with Myles Turner. A trade up could be an option for the Pacers as well.
8 Wizards Anthony Black PG – Arkansas – HT: 6-5 3/4 – WT: 210 – WING: 6-7 1/2 – Fr. – A big PG with great handles and elite passing ability. Has special basketball instincts and put on a show his freshman year. The Wizards need play-makers and Black could be the PG of the present and the future.
9 Jazz Bilal Coulibaly SF – Mets 92 (France) – HT: 6-8 – WT: 195 – WING: 7-2 – Int.04 – An intriguing upside athlete with great length and long term potential and already showing good on court production. Is in the midst of an astronomical rise up draft boards.
10 Mavs Ausar Thompson SG – City Reapers, OTE – HT: 6-5 3/4 – WT: 218 – WING: 7-0 – USA03 – Has ideal size and big time athleticism at the 2 guard position and has shown an improved shooting touch. This is probably his draft floor, could go higher.
11 Magic (from Bulls) Kobe Bufkin SG – Michigan – HT: 6-4 1/4 – WT: 187 – WING: 6-7 3/4 – So – A smooth operator who excels at putting the ball in the basket. Doesn’t have elite speed or bounce but is a great finisher and fits the modern game.
12 Thunder Dereck Lively C – Duke – HT: 7-1 – WT: 230 – WING: 7-8 – Fr – Protects the rim and is a game changer on the defensive end. Is having a very strong draft season and moving back up draft boards. Shows promise as an outside shooter but hasn’t proven himself yet in games.
13 Raptors Cason Wallace PG – Kentucky – HT: 6-2 1/2 – WT: 195 – WING: 6-8 1/2 – Fr – An elite defender who is also a solid all around offensive player. Seems to have a wide draft range.
14 Pelicans Jalen Hood-Schifino PG – Indiana – HT: 6-4 1/4 – WT: 216 – WING: 6-10 1/4 – Fr – A big, tough guard who is a gamer and brings it every time out. A talented passer and facilitator with a nice mid-range game.
15 Hawks Jordan Hawkins SG – UConn – HT: 6-4 1/4 – WT: 186 – WING: 6-6 3/4 – So – Hawkins is a flame-thrower from downtown who would instantly add a new dimension to the Magic roster. He’s got more to his game than just shooting and could surprise to the upside.
16 Jazz (from T-Wolves) Gradey Dick SF – Kansas – HT: 6-6 1/4 – WT: 204 – WING: 6-8 3/4 – Fr – Dick might go higher but will if he falls this fall he’ll be difficult to pass on in the mid first round.
17 Lakers Keyonte George SG – Baylor – HT: 6-4 – WT: 205 – WING: NA – Fr – George has looked strong in the pre-draft process but could slide out of the lottery, with there being so many good guards in this range.
18 Heat Leonard Miller PF – Ignite (Canada) – HT: 6-9 1/4 – WT: 213 – WING: 7-2 – Fr – Miller had a nice season for the Ignite, looking like a mid to late first rounder. Has developed into a high level rebounder and glue-guy. Article
19 Warriors Nick Smith Jr. SG – Arkansas – HT – 6-5 – WT – 185 – Wing – NA – Fr – Although Smith had a down year he has the elite pedigree and the type of offensive fire-power that should land him in the mid first round. I have my concerns about his athleticism and ability to get separation at the NBA level but the scoring talent is definitely there.
20 Rockets (from Clippers) Sidy Cissoko SF – G League Ignite (France) – HT: 6-7 – WT: 220 – WING: 6-9 1/2 – Int.04 – Sidy finished the season strong, playing like a first round pick. He’s a powerful wing with great passing vision and ability to get to the rim.
21 Nets (from Suns) James Nnaji C – Barcelona (Nigeria) – HT: 6-10 – WT: NA – WING: 7-7 – Int.04 – A stud young center with all the physical tools, good length and quick off his feet. I doubt NBA teams will let him get out of the 1st round.
22 Nets Jett Howard SF – Michigan – HT: 6-7 – WT: 220 – WING: NA – Fr – Juwan’s son Jett is one of the best shooters in the draft but struggles on the defensive end.
23 Blazers (from Knicks) Noah Clowney PF – Alabama – HT: 6-10 – WT: 210 – WING: NA – Fr – A highly skilled forward with good size and floor-spacing potential. Might be a few years away from making an impact but has upside.
24 Kings Kris Murray PF – Iowa – HT: 6-7 3/4 – WT: 213 – WING: 6-11 3/4 – Jr – Brother of Keegan, Kris is a smooth and versatile forward who put up big numbers this past season. Looks very NBA ready.
25 Grizzlies Trayce Jackson-Davis PF – Indiana – HT: 6-8 1/4 – WT: 240 – WING: 7-1 – Sr – TJD is an overpowering force inside, despite not having elite center size. He’s become an advanced passer and play-maker who looks to be very NBA-ready.
26 Pacers (from Cavs) Rayan Rupert SG – NZ Breakers (France) – Ht – 6-6 – Wt – 193 – Wing – 7-2 – Int.04 – A super long and versatile wing with a lot of upside, especially on the defensive end.
27 Hornets (from Nuggets) Brice Sensabaugh SF – Ohio State – HT: 6-6 – WT: 235 – WING: NA – Fr – A burly and powerful wing with an advanced offensive game. A big time shot-maker but slow-footed on defense. Questions about his knees could cause him to slide.
28 Jazz (from 76ers) Olivier-Maxence Prosper PF – Marquette – HT: 6-6 3/4 – WT: 212 – WING: 7-1 – Jr – A high energy forward with a NBA frame and a developing game. Looks ready to play a role early.
29 Pacers (from Celtics) Dariq Whitehead SF – Duke – HT: 6-5 – WT: 220 – WING: 6-9 – Fr- Dariq is a 5-star talent but a second foot surgery will hurt his draft stock. Hopefully he can get back to full health and regain his form.
30 Clippers (from Bucks) Ben Sheppard SG – Belmont – HT: 6-6 – WT: 190 – WING: NA – Sr. – A solid two-way player who defends and shoots the rock. Has been one of the break-out stars of the pre-draft process.
31 Pistons Maxwell Lewis SF – Pepperdine – HT: 6-7 – WT: 195 – WING: NA – So – A talented wing who can really shoot the rock and has offensive upside. Has good size and length. Needs to figure things out on the defensive end.
32 Pacers (from Rockets) Gregory Jackson PF – South Carolina – HT: 6-8 1/4 – WT: 214 – WING: 6-11 1/2 – Fr– Jackson has elite offensive flashes and abilities but the youngest player in the draft has a lot of growing up to do. A boom or bust player who could be a steal late in the first round or early second round.
33 Spurs Marcus Sasser SG – Houston – HT: 6-1 1/4 – WT: 196 – WING: 6-7 – Sr – Sasser is a bit undersized but plays with strength and aggression. He’s an instinctual scorer who will get buckets at the next level.
34 Hornets Julian Strawther SF – Gonzaga – HT: 6-6 – WT: 209 – WING: 6-9 1/4 – Jr – Strawther is a supremely talented scorer with a picture perfect jumper and NBA size. A big wing who can get buckets. Probably not a star but looks ready to contribute early. Lacks ideal athleticism.
35 Celtics (from Blazers) Colby Jones SF – Xavier – HT: 6-6 – WT: 203 – WING: NA – Jr – An athletic wing who is a great passer and defender with an emerging offensive game. Should be able to contribute early in his career.
36 Magic Brandin Podziemski SG – Santa Clara – HT: 6-5 – WT: 195 – WING: NA – So – One of the best shooters in college basketball with a bright NBA future.
37 Nuggets (from Wizards) Jaime Jaquez Jr. SF – UCLA – HT: 6-6 – WT: 226 – WING: 6-9 1/2 – Sr – A versatile and hard working wing who plays with great energy and can light it up from outside.
38 Kings (from Pacers) Tristan Vukcevic C – KK Partizan (Serbia) – HT: 6-11 1/4 – WT: 223 – WING: 7-2 1/2 – Int03 – Highly skilled and with great length but is not a run/jump athlete.
39 Hornets (from Jazz) Julian Phillips SF – Tennessee – HT: 6-7 – WT: 196 – WING: 6-11 1/2 – Fr – A long, smooth athlete with big time 3&D potential but needs to develop as a shooter. Has first round upside.
40 Nuggets (from Mavs) Adama Sanogo PF – UConn (Mali) – HT: 6-7 1/4 – WT: 258 – WING: 7-2 3/4 – Jr – Sanogo is a broad shouldered, powerful and quick forward who is very crafty at scoring in the lane. More of a below the rim player.
41 Hornets (from Thunder) Amari Bailey SG – UCLA – HT: 6-3 1/4 – WT: 191 – WING: 6-7 – Fr – A do-it-all combo guard with an extra gear of athleticism. Has scoring talent and does it within the flow of the offense.
42 Wizards (from Bulls) Seth Lundy SF – Penn State – HT: 6-4 – WT: 214 – WING: 6-10 1/4 – Sr – A well-built wing with NBA level 3pt shooting ability.
43 Blazers (from Hawks) Jordan Walsh SF – Arkansas – HT: 6-7 – WT: 190 – WING: 7-3 – Fr – A fast rising prospect who is a big time athlete with a smooth game. Has elite length and is a standout on both ends.
4 Spurs (from Raptors Emoni Bates SF – Eastern Michigan – HT: 6-8 1/4 – WT: 179 – WING: 6-9 – So – The former top prospect has had a tough fall from grace but the potential is still there. He scored the ball well in his second college season and got some of his draft buzz back.
45 Grizzlies (from T-Wolves) Mouhamed Gueye PF – Washington State (Senegal) – HT: 6-10 1/4 – WT: 213 – WING: 7-3 1/4 – So – A quick, fluid and immensely talented PF who is raw but has big upside. Has a smooth release on his shot and is developing into a multi-dimensional scorer.
46 Hawks (from Pelicans) Andre Jackson SF – UConn – HT: 6-6 – WT: 210 – WING: NA – Jr – A world class athlete and sensational dunker who needs to shoot the ball better but has a lot of upside. A very good passer and play-maker.
47 Lakers Mike Miles PG – TCU – HT: 6-0 3/4 – WT: 205 – WING: 6-0 1/2 – Jr – A tough, physical lead guard with a quick first step. Plays both ends.
48 Clippers Terquavion Smith PG – NC State – HT: 6-2 1/2 – WT: 163 – WING: 6-6 3/4 – So – Terquavion is a bucket but projects more as an off-the-bench scorer rather than a high level starter at SG. Recovering from a tough fall/bruises.
49 Cavs (from Warriors) Isaiah Wong SG – Miami – HT: 6-2 1/2 – WT: 178 – WING: 6-6 3/4 – Sr – Wong does a bit of everything on the court and has become a consistent offensive force.
50 Thunder (from Heat) Keyontae Johnson SF – Kansas State – HT: 6-4 – WT: 239 – WING: 7-0 – Sr – Keyontae is back in action after missing time with health concerns. He’s playing well and regaining some traction as a draft prospect.
51 Nets Jalen Wilson SF – Kansas – HT: 6-5 1/2 – WT: 230 – WING: 6-8 – Jr – Wilson has expanded his game and become a complete player. He’s not an above the rim player but is a nice scoring talent on the wing. He looks very NBA ready.
52 Suns Oscar Tshiebwe C – Kentucky (Congo) – HT: 6-7 3/4 – WT: 254 – WING: 7-3 1/2 – Sr – Oscar is a force as a rebounder but doesn’t bring much on the offensive end.
53 T-Wolves (from Knicks) Omari Moore SG – San Jose State – HT: 6-6 – WT: 190 – WING: 6-9 3/4 – Jr – A good looking athlete with size and length. Moves really well.
54 Kings Mojave King SG – G League Ignite (New Zealand) – HT: 6-3 3/4 – WT: 200 – WING: 6-8 – Int.02 – King is a well-built guard who plays with a high motor, good BBIQ and has an all around game.
55 Pacers (from Cavs) Jordan Miller SF – Miami – HT: 6-4 1/2 – WT: 192 – WING: 6-11 3/4- Sr – A terrific all around talent who is a consistent and efficient offensive player. Has good size on the wing.
56 Grizzlies Chris Livingston SF – Kentucky – HT: 6-4 1/2 – WT: 190 – WING: 6-11 – Fr – A high level athlete with great quickness, explosive above the rim ability and a competitive demeanor.
57 Wizards (from Celtics) Toumani Camara SF – Dayton (Belgium) – HT: 6-7 – WT: 220 – WING: 7-0 1/2 – Sr – Has the physical tools and a chance to develop into a good NBA player.
58 Bucks Adam Flagler SG – Baylor – HT: 6-1 – WT: 192 – WING: 6-4 1/2 – Sr – A lights out shooter with a quick release. Projects as a bench scorer at the next level.
WARRIORS COMMITTED TO KEEPING DRAYMOND GREEN, NEW GM MIKE DUNLEAVY JR. SAYS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Golden State Warriors want to keep Draymond Green, yet the team is prepared for him to formally decline his $27.5 million player option for the final year of his contract next season and become an unrestricted free agent seeking a long-term deal.
The Athletic reported Monday that Green would opt out. Green, who said in April he wants to retire with Golden State, would have to notify the Warriors of his decision by June 30.
“I saw the report, too. Until we get the paperwork and the filing we can’t really comment or say much,” new general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. said Monday at his introductory news conference. “I will say it, I think Steve (Kerr) has said it, I’ll reiterate, we really want Draymond back. What he means to this organization and this team in terms of trying to win at the highest level, we feel like we have to have him. So that’s very important.”
Kerr has applauded Green’s fiery, emotional play. The season began with Green punching Jordan Poole at practice during training camp then taking a brief leave of absence from the team.
This spring, Green served a one-game suspension during the Warriors’ 114-97 Game 3 victory in the first round of the playoffs that Golden State won in seven games. He vowed afterward not to change.
“Draymond won’t be moved by no Draymond rules,” he said. “I will continue to play the game how I play the game, operate how I operate, be exactly who I am, because that leads to winning.”
In the fourth quarter of the Kings’ 114-106 Game 2 win, Green stepped on the chest of Sacramento center Domantas Sabonis after Stephen Curry grabbed a defensive rebound.
In 2016, Green was suspended for a crucial Game 5 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals after accumulating too many flagrant fouls in the playoffs that season. The Warriors wound up losing in seven.
Dunleavy and owner Joe Lacob know there’s much to do better this summer with the expectations that the Warriors will contend for another championship next season.
And, they hope, with Green a part of that core of players along with Curry and Klay Thompson that has won four titles together.
“Look, he’s been a spectacular player for us. We would not have these championships without his involvement, no question,” Lacob said of Green.
“I think everyone understands that in this room. He’s meant a lot to this franchise. He’s a bit of a controversial player perhaps in some corners around the league, certain things that have happened over the years. He knows that. We know that. But the good overwhelms the bad is what I would say.
“… He’s meant a lot. I think if he does come back that he will be very important to our success certainly going forward in the next few years.”
Dunleavy, promoted from assistant GM to replace Bob Myers, is optimistic of keeping the roster together — Poole and the younger players, too.
Curry, Green and Thompson are still competing at an elite level.
“That’s our hope. We love those guys and value them. I think there is a way to do it. That’s something we’ll have to work through. It certainly is possible,” Dunleavy said. “The big thing is those guys are still playing at a high level. Steph conservatively is one of the top five players in the league. Draymond just had an incredible year. Essentially first team all defense. We’re biased. One of the premiere defenders in the league. Klay has really returned well from his Achilles injury and his knee. Those guys are playing well at an older age.”
SUNS CONTINUE WHIRLWIND OF CHANGE UNDER NEW OWNER MAT ISHBIA
PHOENIX (AP) — Mat Ishbia’s five-month tenure as the new owner of the Phoenix Suns has produced a whirlwind of change.
Nobody seems completely safe — not even 12-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul — as the Michigan native continues his quest to deliver Phoenix its first NBA title.
The aggressive owner oversaw his latest big move Sunday, when the Suns put together the framework for a trade that would send Paul, Landry Shamet and other compensation to the Washington Wizards in exchange for three-time All-Star Bradley Beal.
Paul — making an appearance on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Monday morning to promote his new book — seemed just as shocked by the development as everyone else.
“I was surprised, too,” Paul said. “I found out on the plane, yesterday, flying here for this. In this league, anything can happen, so you just figure out what’s next.”
Paul came to the desert in 2020, bringing instant credibility to the Suns, who had languished near the bottom of the standings for the better part of a decade. The point guard formed a formidable backcourt with Devin Booker, and the Suns came agonizingly close to a championship, winning the first two games of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 before losing the next four.
The Suns were also good in the past two regular seasons, but suffered back-to-back embarrassing playoff exits on their home floor.
That was apparently enough for Ishbia to decide that wholesale changes needed to be made.
Ishbia — who took over control of the team from the embattled Robert Sarver in February — hasn’t been shy about making big moves, even before their latest playoff exit. The Suns added 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade deadline deal that sent Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and a bevy of first-round picks to the Brooklyn Nets.
The bold move failed to produce a championship, so Ishbia continued his overhaul.
The Suns recently fired coach Monty Williams, who was the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2022, and brought in Frank Vogel, who led the Lakers to a title in the Florida bubble in 2020. Now the team is moving on from the 38-year-old Paul and bringing in Beal, who has averaged more than 22 points per game over his 11-year career.
More changes could be on the horizon.
The Suns now have a stellar nucleus of Booker, Durant, Beal and Deandre Ayton, but not much help around them. The foursome will make about $150 million next season and the Suns will have to be creative as they try to add quality role players.
Another option would be trading Ayton, a former No. 1 overall pick in 2018 who has had five up-and-down seasons with the franchise.
There doesn’t seem to be a ton of obvious suitors for an Ayton deal, particularly after the 6-foot-11 center had an underwhelming performance in this year’s playoffs.
But with Ishbia helping pull the strings these days, nothing seems impossible. The former Michigan State walk-on basketball player — who was part of the Spartans’ championship team in 2000 — has made it clear no one in the organization is sacred as he pushes for a title.
“I want to think big,” Ishbia said back in February.
REPORT: BLAZERS TALKING ZION WILLIAMSON TRADE
Zion Williamson is among multiple trade targets the Portland Trail Blazers discussed in pre-draft meetings this week with NBA free agency right around the corner.
Portland owns the third overall pick in the draft on Thursday and interest in the selection has been “high as expected,” ESPN reported.
According to reports, the internal discussions involving trade offers and potential targets included Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He turns 24 in July, but he finished last season watching from the sideline while dealing with a hamstring injury that originated in January. He played in only 29 games in 2022-23 and has just 114 games played in his career.
When Williamson is on the floor, he routinely dominates, averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game with a few highlight-reel dunks thrown in for good measure.
Various outlets rate the likelihood of Williamson being available with degrees of confidence.
ESPN reported Brandon Ingram, but not Williamson, could be dealt. But The Ringer and ESPN said the Blazers could attract the Pelicans’ interest if point guard Scoot Henderson, who played in the G League last season, is on the board at No. 3 on Thursday. That would likely mean the top two picks were Victor Wembanyama — a shoo-in to the Spurs at No. 1 — and Brandon Miller of Alabama at No. 2. The Charlotte Hornets could pick Henderson second, but they already have LaMelo Ball at the position.
The Miami Heat, who were in the running for Bradley Beal, have been connected to trade rumors involving the Blazers and All-Star point guard Damian Lillard.
Lillard indicated he plans to stay with the Blazers, a declaration that could inspire the team to pursue another high-level co-star such as Williamson.
Lillard is scheduled to earn $45.6 million for the 2023-24 season. Williamson will be in the first year of his rookie supermax extension that pays him $33.5 million.
REPORT: CELTICS HIRING FORMER G PHIL PRESSEY AS ASSISTANT COACH
The Boston Celtics are set to hire former guard Phil Pressey as an assistant coach, The Boston Globe reported Monday.
Pressey is the third addition to Boston’s coaching staff this month, joining former Philadelphia 76ers assistant Sam Cassell and former Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee as the Celtics attempt to revitalize head coach Joe Mazzulla’s bench.
Boston still plans to add at least one more assistant in the coming weeks, per the report.
In three NBA seasons, the 32-year-old Pressey posted career averages of 3.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 148 games (11 starts). He signed with the Celtics as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and spent the first two seasons of his career with Boston, later also playing briefly with the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns.
Pressey served as an assistant at Missouri during the 2022-23 season but has no coaching experience in the NBA.
In addition to his two seasons with the Celtics, Pressey also established Massachusetts ties by attending two high schools in the state.
CHRIS PAUL ‘WOULD PREFER’ TO BE IN LA AS CAREER WINDS DOWN: BRIAN WINDHORST
It’s the summer of traveling for Chris Paul.
Paul, 38, was traded to the Wizards on Sunday from Phoenix but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes the point guard will land in LA before the start of the season.
“I think Chris Paul was happy to play with the Phoenix Suns this year, but if he wasn’t going to play in Phoenix, he would prefer to be with his family in LA as he nears the end of his career,” Windhorst said on Monday’s “Get Up.”
This would mean either slotting in on the Lakers or reuniting with the Clippers.
Paul was with the Clippers from 2011-17 before heading to Houston for two years, Oklahoma City for one and landed with the Suns in 2020.
Even though Paul has inched towards the ultimate goal –– he appeared in his first NBA Finals with Phoenix in 2020-21 –– the 12-time All-Star is still chasing a championship while his career’s curtain call is chasing him.
It looked like the Suns were going to waive Paul in early June, but instead are finalizing his trade for the final piece of their Big 3.
Along with Jordan Goodwin and Isiah Todd in the bundle, Phoenix now has Beal to pair with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.
The Suns had a June 28 deadline to sort things out with Paul before his 2023-2024 $30.8 million salary became the team’s responsibility.
“Even though he’s close with LeBron James and the Lakers potentially have an open job at starting point guard, I think the Clippers –– based on what I can glean –– are the team that may be the better fit for him,” Windhorst said.
The Clippers may have something in mind regarding Paul, as well.
According to Windhorst’s cohort Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers “see a world potentially where it’s Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul together… if, of course, Chris Paul becomes free. I don’t see a scenario necessarily where the Clippers are going to be the team that trades for Chris Paul right now.”
In the 2022 season with the Suns, Paul averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists.
COLLEGE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES
CHASE BURNS’ DOMINANT RELIEF OUTING CARRIES VOLS TO A 6-4 WIN OVER STANFORD IN COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Chase Burns pitched six shutout innings in relief of Chase Dollander, Tennessee manufactured two runs to break a tie in the seventh, and the Volunteers knocked Stanford out of the College World Series with a 6-4 victory Monday.
Tennessee (44-21) ended a six-game CWS losing streak dating to 2001 and plays Tuesday against the loser of the Monday night game between No. 1 national seed Wake Forest and No. 5 LSU.
Stanford (44-20) went 0-2 at the CWS for a second straight year.
Burns (5-3), who went from weekend starter at the start of the season to bullpen bulldog at the end, mixed his slider with a fastball he ran up to 102 mph while striking out nine and limiting the Cardinal to two hits.
“Coming out of the bullpen, you’ve got one thing in mind; it’s just do your job,” Burns said. “No fight is too big for us. Just going to go out there, do my job, hope for the best.”
Burns’ best was great against the Cardinal. He was the first reliever since 1997 to blank an opponent for six innings at the CWS.
“Hat’s off to him because that was an all-time performance at the College World Series,” Stanford coach David Esquer said.
Burns won national freshman honors last year as a weekend starter, and he continued in that role the first two months of this season. After he started 2-3 with a 6.10 ERA, he moved to the bullpen April 21.
Burns said he’s fully adjusted to the role, and the Vols are comfortable calling on him for middle relief or as a closer. In four tournament appearances, Burns has allowed one run and struck out 22 in 16 innings.
“It’s extremely special to have a guy like this in our program,” teammate Jared Dickey said. “He does great things for us. He showed you today that if you put your mind to something you can do whatever you want to do. So credit to him for a great outing.”
The Vols took the lead in the seventh when Griffin Merritt drew a leadoff walk from Matt Scott (5-5), reached third on Blake Burke’s double and scored on Denton’s grounder to short. Burke made it a two-run game when he came home on Brandt Pancer’s wild pitch.
Quinn Mathews, who made national headlines for throwing 156 pitches in super-regional win over Texas on June 11, held the Volunteers scoreless until they batted around on him in the fifth inning and forced his departure.
“Quinn’s bailed us out all year,” reliever Drew Dowd said. “When I took the ball I said, ‘You picked us up enough this year. I’ve got you right here.’ Today it wasn’t easy for him. I don’t think he had his best stuff, but he battled. Just didn’t go his way that fifth inning.”
Hunter Ensley’s sacrifice fly, Jared Dickey’s base hit up the middle and Christian Moore’s two-run single tied it 4-all. Mathews left with the bases loaded after having thrown 89 pitches and allowing 10 hits.
Dollander lasted only three innings, matching his shortest outing of the season. The projected first-round draft pick gave up two runs in the first inning and two in the third, allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two.
The wind was blowing in, making conditions unfavorable for two teams that use the home run to generate much of their offense.
Tennessee’s Maui Ahuna attempted to score on a fly to left in the first inning but was easily thrown out at home by shallow-playing Alberto Rios.
“It was a kick in the gut to think we’re going to be ahead in the first,” Vols coach Tony Vitello said, “and now we’re down in the first.”
The Vols tried Rios again in the fifth, sending Denton home on a fly that was a bit deeper. Rios’ throw was off line, and Denton was able to slide in ahead of Malcolm Moore’s tag.
Stanford asked for video reviews of the call at the plate and to see if Denton left third before the catch. The play stood, and the Vols continued their onslaught against Mathews.
It was the third time in six NCAA Tournament wins that the Vols came from behind. They’ve wiped out four-run deficits twice when facing elimination. After losing their super regional opener at Southern Mississippi, they were down 4-0 after three innings in Game 2 and rallied to win 8-4.
“This is a wild place,” Vitello said. “You’re dying to get here as a ball player from the time you’re a little tyke, but you better be careful what you ask for because when you get here, it’s not going to be easy at any point.”
BENNETT LEE DELIVERS WINNING HIT AFTER MAKING BIG DEFENSIVE PLAY IN DEACONS’ 3-2 WIN OVER LSU IN CWS
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A few minutes after he made the defensive play of the game, Bennett Lee delivered the hit that put Wake Forest on the inside track to the College World Series finals.
The Demon Deacons came from behind to win a second straight one-run game at Charles Schwab Field, beating LSU 3-2 on Monday night in the game that determined control of their bracket.
Wake Forest is 7-0 in the NCAA Tournament and bidding to become the first No. 1 national seed since 1999 to win the championship.
“Every single guy is having the time of their lives right now,” said closer Camden Minacci, who got the last five outs. “Who can beat us? It seems pretty much impossible. So the amount of fun we have is truly incredible.”
Lee, the Deacons’ catcher, made a spectacular play in the top of the eighth when he snagged third baseman Brock Wilken’s bouncing throw and tagged out Tre’ Morgan to keep the game tied 2-all.
“Brock Wilken made a great play to get to the ball, and Bennett was there with an unbelievable pick and tag under pressure,” Deacons coach Tom Walter said. “It was a huge play in this ball game.”
After Danny Corona lashed Thatcher Hurd’s breaking pitch down the right-field line for a double in the bottom half, Lee followed with a base hit into left that brought Corona home.
Next up for Wake Forest (54-10) is a Wednesday meeting with the winner of a Tuesday matchup between SEC rivals LSU (49-16) and Tennessee. The Tigers beat Tennessee 6-3 here Saturday. The Deacons would have to lose twice to be denied a spot in the finals.
LSU starter Ty Floyd limited the Deacons to two hits and matched his career high with 10 strikeouts before he lost his command in the sixth inning. He walked the first three batters, prompting coach Jay Johnson to call on Hurd (6-3) to face the national home run co-leader in Wilken.
Wilken sent a ball up the middle for an RBI single, and the tying run came home when Justin Johnson hit into a double play.
The Tigers opened the scoring against Wake Forest starter Josh Hartle in the third. Tommy White singled in a run and scored from second when Morgan tripled on a fly ball left fielder Adam Cecere lost in the sun.
Hartle went six innings and struck out nine, running his season total to a Wake Forest-record 140.
The Deacons turned back the Tigers in the eighth when things looked dire. LSU had runners on the corners with none out after Morgan doubled down the line and moved over when Hayden Travinski reached on an error.
Wilken backhanded Cade Beloso’s grounder down the line, double-pumped and bounced a throw home to Lee, who put the tag on Morgan on a close play that stood up on video review.
“As soon as the ball was hit, I took off,” Morgan said. “I knew he would have an awkward throw, so I tried to get a bit over to get in the way, but he made a great play.”
Lee said the stage was set during a mound visit when Walter told Lee to let Wilken know to throw home if the ball comes his way.
“And then Beloso hits a little squibber, and that was actually a really good play by Brock,” Lee said. “He said the ball was literally still spinning in his glove when he went to throw it. And from my perspective, I’ve done millions of picks in my life and I just took over.”
The inning ended when Wilken picked up Gavin Dugas’ grounder to start a double play.
Johnson, the LSU coach, said such a tough loss can be deflating, but he reminded his players that the Arizona team he coached in 2016 lost its second game at the CWS and then won three straight to make it to the finals. In 2017, Paul Mainieri’s LSU team lost its second game and reached the finals as well.
“I have all the faith in the world in our team, that we can do that,” Johnson said. “So let’s stick to what we do. And if we do that well, then we’ll be in a good spot.”
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
MLB ROUNDUP: JOEY VOTTO STARS IN RETURN FOR STREAKING REDS
Joey Votto homered in his second at-bat of the season, then later hit a go-ahead, two-run single while leading the Cincinnati Reds to their ninth straight win, a 5-4 decision over the visiting Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
Votto, a six-time All-Star, came back from left shoulder and biceps surgeries last year to play his first major league game since Aug. 16, 2022.
One day after picking up his first career save, Alex Young (1-0) recorded the final out of a three-run sixth to earn the win. Alexis Diaz pitched out of a first-and-third jam with no outs in the ninth for his 19th save in as many chances this year.
Elias Diaz had a solo homer and an RBI single while Jorge Alfaro had two doubles for the Rockies, who lost their sixth straight and fell to 2-6 on their 10-game road trip. Austin Gomber (4-7) took the loss.
Marlins 11, Blue Jays 0
Jorge Soler homered and drove in three runs and Luis Arraez went 5-for-5 to push his batting average to a major-league-leading .400 as host Miami routed Toronto.
The Marlins also stroked a season-high 19 hits. Arraez has three career five-hit games, all coming this season. Only four players have ever had four games with at least five hits in the same season: Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Ichiro Suzuki and Tony Gwynn.
Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios (7-5) had his four-decision winning streak ended as he gave up eight hits and five runs in four innings. The win went to reliever Huascar Brazoban (1-1), who pitched two innings.
Cardinals 8, Nationals 6
Brendan Donovan and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to help St. Louis rally from a five-run deficit to beat host Washington.
Jack Flaherty (4-5) made it through 6 1/3 innings for the victory as the Cardinals produced their first three-game winning streak in more than a month. Donovan’s seventh homer — and first since June 2 — was a three-run shot that tied the game. Goldschmidt followed with his blast to put St. Louis ahead for the first time.
The Nationals lost their fourth game in a row despite holding a 5-0 lead through two innings thanks to three of Luis Garcia’s four RBIs. Starter Josiah Gray (4-6) took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings.
Mets 11, Astros 1
Daniel Vogelbach and Francisco Lindor slugged third-inning home runs while Max Scherzer carried a shutout into the seventh inning as visiting New York crushed slumping Houston.
Scherzer (6-2) allowed one run on four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts over eight innings. Lindor had a three-run homer and a two-run double, and Vogelbach hit a solo shot and a two-run single.
Yainer Diaz homered in the seventh for the Astros’ lone run. Hunter Brown (6-4) surrendered a career-worst six runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Tigers 6, Royals 4
Kerry Carpenter capped a five-run uprising in the seventh inning with a three-run homer as host Detroit rallied past Kansas City.
Carpenter’s sixth homer made a winner of Tyler Alexander (2-1), who tossed two scoreless innings and recorded four strikeouts. Alex Lange got the last three outs for his 11th save.
Jake Rogers contributed two hits, two runs and two RBIs for the Tigers, who have won four of their past five games. Maikel Garcia had a two-run home run and Bobby Witt Jr. hit a solo shot for Kansas City.
Cubs 8, Pirates 0
Mike Tauchman drove in three runs with a pair of singles and Drew Smyly combined with three relievers on a five-hit shutout as visiting Chicago spanked Pittsburgh.
Nico Hoerner added two RBIs and Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki each added one for the Cubs, who are 8-2 in their past 10 games. Smyly (7-4) pitched five scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, tied a career high with five walks and struck out four.
In his second major league start, Pittsburgh’s Osvaldo Bido (0-1) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks. The Pirates have lost seven straight.
Red Sox 9, Twins 3
Alex Verdugo drove in four runs and Triston Casas added a two-run homer as Boston won its fifth straight game, beating Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Jarren Duran had three doubles and two RBIs for the Red Sox, who have averaged eight runs per game during their winning streak. Boston starter James Paxton (3-1) allowed three runs on three hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Christian Vazquez hit a three-run homer against his former team as the Twins lost for the fourth time in five games. Pablo Lopez (3-4) yielded five runs (four earned) on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Diamondbacks 9, Brewers 1
Alek Thomas, recalled from the minors earlier in the day, homered to cap a six-run first inning against Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes, and visiting Arizona rolled to a victory.
Thomas, sent down on May 17 after hitting .195 in 39 games, was promoted on Monday after hitting .348 with three homers in 26 games for Triple-A Reno. Arizona starter Merrill Kelly (9-3) allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings.
Milwaukee got its only run in the third on a Christian Yelich RBI triple. Burnes (5-5) was tagged for seven runs on eight hits in five innings.
Rangers 5, White Sox 2
Jonah Heim drove in two runs and Josh Jung had three hits, including a solo home run, to boost the visiting Texas to a win against Chicago.
The Rangers stretched their winning streak to three games while out-hitting the White Sox 12-9. Texas scored runs in the first, third and fourth innings to build a lead that proved too much for Chicago to overcome, as the hosts lost for the fourth time in five games.
Rangers starter Andrew Heaney (5-4) yielded two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. White Sox starter Tanner Banks (0-2) gave up three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
SLUMPING PIRATES CALLING UP 2021 TOP DRAFT PICK CATCHER HENRY DAVIS FROM THE MINORS
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates are calling up heralded prospect Henry Davis. the top pick in the 2021 draft, to help the team that has lost six straight games and tumbled from the top spot in the NL Central.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton said after Sunday’s 5-2 loss to division-leading Milwaukee that Davis, who has played catcher and outfield, will join the team at PNC Park on Monday for the start of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
“I’m excited,” Shelton said. “He deserves to be here. I think he’s shown that. We’ll probably talk more about it (Monday). Our two catchers will be staying, so we’ll be using him in different ways.”
The 23-year-old Davis is being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, where he batted .286 with a homer in 10 games. The 6-foot, 220-pound Davis opened the season at Double-A Altoona, where he batted .284 with 10 home runs.
He is hitting .284 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in 51 combined games Double-A and Triple-A this season.
The Pirates opened the season with a division-leading 19-9 record in April. They enter the week with a record of 34-36, 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers (37-34) and a half-game behind second-place Cincinnati (37-35).
TOM WATSON IS THE LATEST TO WANT ANSWERS ON THE PGA TOUR’S DEAL WITH SAUDI BACKERS OF LIV
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eight-time major champion Tom Watson wants answers on the PGA Tour’s new business partnership with Saudi backers of LIV Golf, asking in a letter Monday to Commissioner Jay Monahan if the deal was the only way to solve the tour’s financial hardship.
That was one of several questions posed by Watson in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press and was sent to Monahan, the PGA Tour board and “my fellow players.”
He said the questions were “compounded by the hypocrisy in disregarding the moral issue.”
On the day after Wyndham Clark became the latest major champion by winning the U.S. Open, focus shifted back to an issue that has consumed golf for the last three years. It took a stunning turn June 6 when the PGA Tour announced it had joined with Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund and the European tour to put commercial businesses under one roof.
Monahan has referred to it as a “framework agreement” and he had few answers for players in a meeting two weeks ago at the Canadian Open. A Player Advisory Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday ahead of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Monahan, who stepped away for a “medical situation” on Wednesday, is not expected to attend. Two of his top executives are in charge of the tour’s day-to-day operations.
The tour said in the June 6 announcement that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Public Investment Fund, would be chairman of the new company and Monahan would be the CEO. Two PGA Tour board members, Ed Herlihy and Jimmy Dunne, would join them on the executive committee.
The deal contains assurances the tour would keep a controlling voting interest in the new commercial entity regardless of how much the PIF contributes, according to a person who has seen the agreement.
The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been made public, said the agreement allows for a financial investment from PIF and pooling the three parties’ current and future golf-related investments. That would include LIV Golf.
The agreement said the new company’s board would have majority representation appointed by the PGA Tour, the person said. The PGA Tour would still have full authority on how it runs its competition.
Still missing are key details such as the future of LIV Golf. Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have said they are planning for a 2024 season.
Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., suggested Sunday that congressional hearings could be held within weeks.
Blumenthal is chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” the subcommittee wants facts on what went into the deal and who was behind it and details on the structure and governance of the new company.
“There are very, very few details,” Blumenthal said. “But remember, what we have here is essentially a repressive, autocratic foreign government taking control over an iconic, cherished American institution for the clear purpose of cleansing its public image,” he said.
One key to the agreement was ending all litigation. The PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf filed a motion on Friday to dismiss with prejudice the antitrust lawsuit LIV players filed in August, the countersuit the tour filed in September and even a PIF appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to avoid having to give depositions in the lawsuits. They cannot be refiled.
Monahan has said the lawsuits — a trial date was not expected until at least the middle of 2024 with plenty of filings in between — had contributed to a “significant” hit to the tour.
Watson said in his letter: “Is the PIF the only viable rescue from the Tour’s financial problems? Was/is there a plan B? And again, what exactly is the exchange?”
He mentioned hypocrisy twice, especially as it relates to criticism from groups such as 9/11 Families United on the tour’s reversal.
“My loyalty to golf and this country live in the same place and have held equal and significant weight with me over my lifetime,” Watson said. “Please educate me and others in a way that allows loyalty to both, and in a way that makes it easy to look 9/11 families in the eye and ourselves in the mirror.”
Watson isn’t alone among his questions. The Justice Department’s antitrust division has been reviewing the golf landscape since last summer, and now it is starting to look at the tour’s agreement with the Saudis and whether it violates federal antitrust laws. The inquiry is in its early stages, as the agreement is barely 2 weeks old and still is being finalized.
Monahan has said everything in the framework agreement would be subject to board approval.
Blumenthal told CBS he thought a hearing would be possible “within weeks.”
“The American people deserve a clear look at the facts here,” he said. “Again, not prejudging what the conclusions will be. But what the Saudis are doing here is not taking control of a single team or hiring one player. They are, in effect, taking charge of the entire sport, and it’s not just a Saudi individual. It is the regime.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS
MIAMI EARNS COMMITMENT FROM 4-STAR RB KEVIN RILEY
Running back Kevin Riley, a top-100 high school recruit in the Class of 2024, said Monday that he will play his college football at Miami.
Riley attends Tuscaloosa County High School in Alabama and had the Crimson Tide as a finalist. He chose coach Mario Cristobal and the Hurricanes over Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia and a host of other Power Five schools.
“After a great talk with Coach Cristobal and the entire Hurricane Staff I would like to proudly announce my commitment to the University of Miami,” Riley wrote on social media.
Riley is listed as 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds. He’s ranked No. 81 overall in the Class of 2024 and the No. 6 running back, according to the 247Sports composite.
Cristobal took over at Miami, his alma mater, in 2022 after a five-year run at Oregon. The Hurricanes went 5-7 in his first season.
FOUR-STAR QB ELIJAH BROWN CHOOSES STANFORD
Four-star quarterback prospect Elijah Brown announced Sunday that he has verbally committed to Stanford.
Brown, who attends powerful Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., is the third-rated quarterback in the 2024 class, according to 247sports.
“I am so thankful for the opportunities football has given me and for this recruiting process,” Brown said on Twitter. “Thank you to all my family, friends, and coaches. I am excited to announce I have committed to Stanford University!”
Brown chose Stanford over UCLA. He also strongly considered Southern California, Alabama, Arizona State and Arizona.
The Cardinal have a new coach in former Cal starting quarterback Troy Taylor.
Mater Dei won the 2021 national title during Brown’s previous three seasons. He passed for 2,785 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions in 13 games as a junior last season. He also threw 30 touchdown passes as a sophomore.
Part of Mater Dei’s legacy is producing three Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks: Notre Dame’s John Huarte (1964), USC’s Matt Leinart (2004) and Alabama’s Bryce Young (2021).
ALABAMA’S NICK SABAN IRKED BY 2022 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF OMISSION: ‘DO YOU REALLY GET THE BEST TEAMS?’
The 2023 college football season is a little less than three months away, but Alabama coach Nick Saban still believes that the Crimson Tide should have made the College Football Playoff in 2022. Speaking to Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt, Saban took issue with the CFP Selection Committee focusing primarily on overall record and not the power ratings — including sportsbook lines — that traditionally favor a blue blood like Alabama.
“All we do is take the teams that win the most games at the end of the year, put them into the playoffs,” Saban said. “But do you really get the best teams? When they told me that we would be favored against three out of the four teams that got in the playoff, I’m like, ‘Why aren’t we in the playoffs?'”
Alabama lost two regular-season games for the first time since 2019 during a disappointing (relatively speaking) 11-2 campaign after starting the season No. 1 in the Preseason AP Top 25. For the first time since 2010, the Tide had two losses heading into the Iron Bowl. The losses kept the Tide out of the SEC Championship Game and ultimately led them to finish No. 5 in the final CFP Rankings.
Of course, Alabama might be a little biased around this topic, and this is not the first time Saban has publicly pushed for his team’s inclusion. The Crimson Tide have been underdogs just six times since 2008, Saban’s second season in Tuscaloosa. Ironically, Alabama won five of those six games, including a 41-24 shellacking of eventual national champion Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship Game. However, Alabama has lost 20 games as a favorite in that same span.
“If you’re going to have parity, you have to have a better way of figuring out who has the best teams, not just because you lose two games on the last play of the game,” Saban said.
Alabama was favored in every game of the 2022 season and went 3-5-1 against the spread vs. Power Five opponents, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Notably, the Crimson Tide closed as 13-point favorites against LSU, but ultimately lost in Baton Rouge for the first time since 2010.
The record argument also hasn’t applied to every program equally. UCF notably did not earn a trip to the CFP despite an undefeated record in 2017 because of concerns about schedule strength. Multiple teams from the Big Ten and Big 12 have also been left out with one loss. The only one-loss SEC team to ever miss the College Football Playoff was Texas A&M in 2020.
Vegas odds and power ratings are meant to provide context and aid in projecting matchups heading forward. However, fans might take issue with the idea that they should supersede the actual results on the field. In an expanded College Football Playoff world, this whole discussion becomes largely moot.
THESE FIVE BREAKOUT POWER FIVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAMS WILL LIKELY TAKE A STEP BACK IN 2023
One of the critiques of college football from those who don’t like the sport is the lack of the Cinderella story. The same people who don’t watch college basketball during the regular season and fall in love with tiny schools in March tell you that college football needs the same stories and they’re tired of seeing the same teams in the College Football Playoff.
Those people don’t realize college football has Cinderellas, but they’re found during the regular season, not the postseason. The team nobody had high expectations for suddenly jumps up and wins nine games, or maybe gets off to a 6-0 start when nobody expected it to win more than four games all season.
Sometimes these Cinderella stories stick. They become solid programs that reach bowl games regularly and even compete for conference titles. The 2022 season saw plenty of these stories. More often than not, however, they return to their pumpkin status. And now I’m here to burst some bubbles by listing five Power Five programs that had big years in 2022 but will likely take a step back in 2023.
Kentucky, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Pitt and Purdue all made last year’s list. After those five went a combined 53-14 in 2021, they went 36-29 last year. Of the five, none improved upon their win total, though Purdue did win the Big Ten West despite winning eight games instead of nine. All at least made a bowl game, except for Michigan State. Will the five teams I list this year suffer similar fates? Probably, yeah.
Mike Elko’s debut with the Blue Devils couldn’t have gone much better. Duke finished with a 9-4 record (5-3 in the ACC) and sat squarely in the Coastal race for nearly the entire 2022 season, but that isn’t likely to happen again this year. The Blue Devils played in seven one-score games last year, and while they weren’t exceptionally “lucky” in those games (they only went 3-4), that suggests they weren’t as superior to the teams they played as their final record suggests.
Plus, consider the schedule. While Duke should never make light of wins over teams like Miami and Virginia Tech — though they did combine to finish 8-15 — do you know who wasn’t on Duke’s schedule last season? Clemson or Florida State. The two teams that went a combined 21-6 and are expected to be the best teams in the league once again this year. Both are on Duke’s 2023 schedule. The Blue Devils open the season at home against Clemson and will play at Florida State in late October. Oh, and they’ll host Notre Dame in September, too, and four of their final six games will be on the road. If they win nine games again in 2023, Elko should garner Coach of the Year consideration.
As much as it pains me to admit it, I have a hard time believing Illinois will be as good as the team it was last year. The Illini finished 8-5 but started the year 7-1 with divisional wins over Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota before losing four of their last five. The only win after Nov. 1 came against a Northwestern team that finished 1-11. Yes, Illinois hung tough with Michigan in Ann Arbor and may have won the game without some questionable calls by officials, but it didn’t.
The 2023 season could be tougher. Illinois lost a lot of crucial parts on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters is now the head coach at Purdue, and nearly the entire starting secondary is in the NFL. The good news is the Illini should still have one of the best defensive lines in the Big Ten, if not the country, but that secondary played a significant role in forcing the turnovers that helped Illinois finish fifth nationally in points off turnover margin (+60).
The other concern is the offense. Illinois won eight games last season despite finishing in the bottom half of the Power Five in many key statistical categories, and its workhorse running back Chase Brown is in the NFL, too. If the defense takes a slight step back (which isn’t insane given the losses and how incredible it was last year) and the offense doesn’t make up for it, this team will find it more challenging to win as many games. The good news for any Illini fan reading this is that the days of three-win seasons are probably behind you under coach Bret Bielema. But another eight-win season in 2023? I’m not so sure.
There are some football reasons to believe Mississippi State won’t win nine games again in 2023 and finish ranked in the top 20, but the biggest reason is one the team has no control over. The death of Mike Leach was a tremendous blow to the sport and the Mississippi State program. Leach stamped his identity on the program, and the results came with it. The Bulldogs improved their win total in Leach’s second and third seasons, but now they must start over, and they must do so with a first-time head coach in Zach Arnett, who is implementing a new style of play on offense.
The schedule won’t do the Bulldogs many favors, either. While they won’t have to play Georgia this season, and they get Alabama and LSU at home, they will be on the road for South Carolina, Arkansas, Auburn and Texas A&M. It’s sometimes better to have your toughest games on the road since you aren’t likely to win them anywhere. Getting your “coin flip” games on the road makes them far less of a coin flip in your favor.
That’s right, Purdue, I’ve got you back here for the second year in a row. Admittedly, Purdue performed better last season than I expected, even if it did take a step back record-wise. I mean, it won the Big Ten West. The thing is, while the team’s win-loss record was still solid, the underlying numbers suggest the Boilermakers did take a step back last season.
For instance, despite finishing 8-6, Purdue allowed more points than it scored last year. It was one of only two teams in the country last season to win at least eight games and finish with a negative point differential. The other was Coastal Carolina, which went 9-4 despite being outscored 414-378.
Last season Purdue went 5-2 in one-score games. Its eight wins came by an average of 13.13 points per game. Its six losses came by -19.33 points per game. The 63-7 loss to LSU in the Citrus Bowl skews that heavily, but after two close losses to Penn State and Syracuse in September, all of Purdue’s last four losses came by at least two scores. That’s typically not a great sign. Factor in a new coaching staff, key departures, and a schedule that includes Ohio State and Michigan, and there’s a reason sportsbooks have Purdue’s win total at five.
Am I going out on a limb by saying that the team with a preseason win total of 6.5 last season but ended up going 13-2 and reaching the national title game is bound to take a step back this year? It’d be damn near impossible for the Horned Frogs not to have a worse season in 2023. Still, the drop might be more significant than many realize. Their win total from sportsbooks entering the season is only 7.5.
Why? Well, first of all, TCU lost a ton of production from last year’s team. ESPN.com’s Bill Connelly has a returning production metric he publishes yearly, and TCU ranks 118th nationally. The Frogs also lost offensive coordinator Garrett Riley to Clemson, though the fact Sonny Dykes is still in Fort Worth and the hire of Kendall Briles leads me to believe this team will still score points.
But as good as the Frogs were last year, we can’t overlook some of the luck. Other than Troy, no team in the country had as many one-score victories as TCU’s six, and the Frogs went 6-1 in those games. Nine of their 13 wins came by 10 points or fewer. Their only wins by at least three scores came against Tarleton State, Oklahoma and Iowa State. Tarleton State was the only one of those three to finish last season with a winning record.
2023 BIG 12 WIN TOTALS, ODDS, PICKS: PREDICTIONS AS TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA FACE BIG NUMBERS, UCF LEADS NEWCOMERS
The Big 12 is entering a purgatory, of sorts, in 2023 as the “Freshman Four” of Cincinnati, BYU, Houston and UCF join the conference for a 14-team party before Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC. Claiming the most members in conference history for this season, the matchups will be more competitive than ever and lead to some highly competitive betting lines.
Of the 14 members, nine have Las Vegas over/unders between five and seven wins. Surprisingly, Houston ranks at the back of the pack with a 5.0 while UCF checks in as the only newcomer projected to make a bowl game with a line of 7.0 wins. Familiar faces are at the top with Texas and Oklahoma each set at 9.5, so the departing powerhouse programs must reach 10 wins just to cash tickets. Texas has not won 10 regular-season games since 2009, while Oklahoma is fresh off its first sub-.500 season since 1998.
Where there’s mess, there’s value to be found. Last season, for example, we were all over the Kansas schools exceeding tiny lines. We totally whiffed on TCU, however, picking them to win under 6.5 in a year it won 13 games. Who will emerge this year? Here are win totals, picks and projected wins and losses for every Big 12 team in 2023 with odds provided by Caesar’s SportsBook.
Over/under 6.5 wins
Wins: Texas State, Long Island, Texas Tech, at Cincinnati, Iowa State, Houston, West Virginia, at TCU
Losses: Utah, Texas, at UCF, at Kansas State
Analysis: The Bears’ upside will be revealed early as Baylor plays host to Utah in the second week of the season, followed by a Big 12 opener against conference title favorite Texas two weeks later. Both games are at home. If Baylor can pull off a pair of victories, the over is an easy cash. If not, it could come to a decisive November slate — vs. Houston, at Kansas State, at TCU, vs. West Virginia — to comfortably reach bowl eligibility. Bears coach Dave Aranda will be hoping that close-game luck flips in 2023. Pick: Over 6.5 (-150)
Over/under 5.5 wins
Wins: Sam Houston, Southern Utah, Cincinnati, Texas Tech
Losses: at Arkansas, at Kansas, TCU, at Texas, at West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State
Analysis: The Cougars are an incredibly difficult team to place. BYU posted one of the worst defenses in the nation in 2022 and are bringing in defensive coordinator Jay HIll, who does not have a simple plug-and-play system. Offensively, the Cougars shift from talented prospect Jaren Hall to journeyman Kedon Slovis — a talented player who likely doesn’t possess the same upside — at quarterback. BYU coach Kalani Sitake has done a sensational job in Provo, Utah, and the home-field advantage is one of the best in the new Big 12. With a fearsome home slate, will it matter? Pick: Under 5.5 (-105)
Over/under 7.0 wins
Wins: Kent State, at Boise State, Villanova, Baylor, West Virginia, at Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Houston
Losses: at Kansas State, at Kansas, at Oklahoma, at Texas Tech
Analysis: The Knights rank as the program among the newcomers best prepared to jump into the Big 12 and have immediate success. UCF returns quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, while Gus Malzahn has spent most of the last two years stocking up on blue-chip transfers. Playing Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma in the first half of the schedule will test UCF’s mettle, but there are winnable games down the stretch if the Knights can survive the physical barrage. Pick: Over 7.0 (-115)
Over/under 5.5 wins
Wins: Eastern Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), Iowa State, at Houston
Losses: at Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, at BYU, Iowa State, Baylor, at Oklahoma State, UCF, at West Virginia, at Kansas
Analysis: The Bearcats have a record of 53-11 over the past five seasons, including a pair of AAC championships and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. But with an exodus of playing and coaching talent, placing Cincinnati in the Big 12 is exceedingly difficult. The Bearcats open their Big 12 tenure with Oklahoma, along with three other recent Big 12 title game participants in the first five games. Cincinnati showed some flaws in the first post-CFP season, especially on offense. Those cracks could open wider with such a difficult schedule amid the transition to Scott Satterfield as coach. Pick: Under 5.5 (-115)
Over/under 5.0 wins
Wins: UTSA, at Rice, Sam Houston, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State
Losses: TCU, at Texas Tech, at Kansas State, at Baylor, Cincinnati, at UCF
Analysis: For all intents and purposes, Houston’s first season in the Big 12 era is defined by one matchup. The hated Texas Longhorns come to town on Oct. 21 for one of the most anticipated games in program history, their lone matchup before the ‘Horns head to the SEC. Dana Holgorsen’s last matchup against Texas ended with a legendary 2-point call to shock Texas, and we expect him to bring that chaotic magic to TDECU Stadium. Other than that, the road schedule is difficult, maybe even unmanageable. Still, finding a way to comfortably make a bowl game in Year 1 would signal a great season. Pick: Over 5.0 (+110)
Over/under 6.0 wins
Wins: Northern Iowa, Iowa, at Ohio, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas, at BYU
Losses: at Oklahoma, at Cincinnati, at Baylor, Texas, at Kansas State
Analysis: Kansas State was the most undervalued team in the Big 12 last season. This year, it could be Iowa State. The Cyclones lost six of eight games by one score last season, and another against Oklahoma was marred only by a late Sooners score. Iowa State returns talented quarterback Hunter Dekkers, an improving offensive line and one of the saltiest defenses in the conference. If running back Jirehl Brock can stay healthy, the upside is higher than people realize. Pick: Over 6.0 (+110)
Over/under 6.0 wins
Wins: Missouri State, at Nevada, UCF, BYU, at Cincinnati
Losses: Illinois, at Texas, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, at Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas State
Analysis: The Jayhawks will be an improved football team in 2023, but it’s hard to tell whether that will translate into more wins after a magical six-win campaign. The home schedule comes with major tests: Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Kansas State. The road schedule is no cakewalk either. Adding a likely loss against Illinois in the nonconference slate makes the job even tougher. Kansas is capable of stealing a game or two, but exceeding six wins feels like a Herculean task with this schedule. Pick: Under 6.0 (-110)
Over/under 8.0 wins
Wins: Southeast Missouri, Troy, at Missouri, UCF, at Oklahoma State, TCU, Houston, Baylor, at Kansas, Iowa State
Losses: at Texas Tech, at Texas,
Analysis: Last season, Kansas State was arguably the most undervalued team in the nation by Vegas. Oddsmakers set the bar at a bowl game but the Wildcats instead earned their first outright Big 12 title since 2003 after shocking TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. Several key playmakers are gone from Kansas State’s run, but quarterback Will Howard, a talented running back room and an offensive line group filled with returners gives the Wildcats a higher floor than most. Getting all of TCU, Baylor, UCF and Iowa State at home doesn’t hurt. Pick: Over 8.0 (-105)
Over/under 9.5 wins
Wins: Arkansas State, SMU, at Tulsa, at Cincinnati, Iowa State, UCF, at Kansas, West Virginia, at BYU
Losses: Texas, at Oklahoma State, TCU
Analysis: The Sooners were gifted perhaps the easiest schedule in the Big 12 to rebound from a miserable 6-7 campaign, but setting the bar at 10 wins is still high. The offense lost essentially all of its proven playmakers, while the defense has major gaps to fill after finishing No. 122 nationally in total defense. Close-game luck should normalize after an especially unlucky season, but more than half of Oklahoma’s schedule could be coin flip games. Even though the Sooners are down, expect the program to get everyone’s best shot — especially the new additions, who only get to play Oklahoma once as conference opponents. Pick: Under 9.5 (-130)
Over/under 6.0 wins
Wins: Central Arkansas, at Arizona State, South Alabama, Kansas, at West Virginia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, BYU
Losses: at Iowa State, Kansas State, at UCF, at Houston
Analysis: Oklahoma State is hard to gauge after a Big 12 title game run in 2021 followed by tanking in 2022. The Cowboys are starting from scratch in many ways, replacing longtime quarterback Spencer Sanders with transfer Alan Bowman and hiring Division II defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo to the same position. The word from Stillwater, Oklahoma, is that Mike Gundy is trying to shift his philosophy to better match the modern style of the Big 12, but it could take time. A favorable home schedule should lead to some success. Pick: Over 6.0 (-130)
Over/under 9.5 wins
Wins: Rice, at Alabama, Wyoming, at Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, BYU, Kansas State, at Iowa State, Texas Tech
Losses: at Houston, at TCU
Analysis: I’ve shorted Texas stock for more than a decade at this point, but it’s finally time to cash in. There’s zero excuse for the Longhorns to be anything but the best team in the Big 12. They return a former No. 1 quarterback recruit, an excellent offensive line, add weapons to a talented receiver room and boast perhaps the best defender in the Big 12 in linebacker Jaylan Ford. The biggest complication comes in the form of rivalry games as the Longhorns travel to play all of Baylor, Houston and TCU for what could be the final time. No one knows better how much a Texas upset could change fortunes than Holgorsen. Still, the ‘Horns deserve to be the Big 12 title favorites and will win 10 regular-season games for the first time since 2009 if they can meet expectations. Pick: Over 9.5 (-140)
Over/under 7.5 wins
Wins: Colorado, Nicholls, at Houston, SMU, West Virginia, BYU, Texas, at Oklahoma
Losses: at Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Texas Tech, Baylor
Analysis: TCU joined Baylor and Iowa State over the past three seasons as programs that rode luck in close games to historic seasons. It’s worth noting that those two programs went on to post combined 13-13 records after their historic runs. The Horned Frogs have a strong transfer class and talented roster to insulate themselves from completely falling behind, but replacing four All-Big 12 standouts on offense won’t be an easy task. The schedule has pitfalls, including playing Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas Tech on the road over a four-game stretch. TCU hits the over, but it could come down to the final week. Pick: Over 7.5 (-150)
Over/under 7.5 wins
Wins: at Wyoming, Oregon, Tarleton, at West Virginia, Houston, Kansas State, TCU, at Kansas, UCF
Losses: at Baylor, at BYU, at Texas
Analysis: Expectations are off the charts for Joey McGuire’s program in Year 2, so let’s add some fuel to the fire. A Week 2 matchup against Oregon ranks as a historic prove-it opportunity for the Red Raiders, especially as former Pac-12 champion quarterback Tyler Shough expects to take the field against his old squad. Getting Kansas State and TCU in Lubbock, Texas, is a huge victory. There’s certainly a chance that depth and injuries could cause issues for a relatively green roster, but the upside is serious. Iowa State, Baylor and TCU each rode tight wins to the Big 12 title game over the past three years. In June, Texas Tech looks like the team ready to ride the wave. Pick: Over 7.5 (-110)
Over/under 5.5 wins
Wins: Duquesne, BYU, Cincinnati
Losses: at Penn State, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, TCU, at Houston, Oklahoma State, at UCF, at Oklahoma, at Baylor
Analysis: It’s hard to find much optimism for West Virginia against a fairly brutal schedule. Games against rivals Penn State and Pittsburgh in the first three weeks leave the program in a tough position. Playing three of the four hungry new additions on the road won’t help either. Four of the first five games come against programs that could be in conference championship games; a 1-4 start is essentially expected. Frankly, it’s easier to find losses among the wins than wins among the projected losses. Pick: Under 5.5 (-180)
TEXAS A&M, PENN STATE AMONG WINNERS IN NEW SCHEDULING FORMATS AFTER SEC, BIG TEN SCRAP DIVISIONS
On the back of blockbuster expansions, both the SEC and Big Ten are making radical changes to their respective scheduling models starting in the 2024 season. Gone from both leagues is the traditional division format, replaced by a rotating schedule that aims to create a more balanced slate across the board.
Thanks to a “single-standings” model, every team will play one another at least twice in a four-year period with only a handful of rivalry games locked in on a yearly basis. That means, for example, Penn State no longer has to play Michigan and Ohio State every single year for a trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship Game. Rather, the Nittany Lions will compete with all 15 other Big Ten schools for the top two spots in the conference.
Penn State isn’t the only program celebrating the end of divisions in college football’s two most successful conferences. Here are the six schools that stand to benefit the most from schedule format changes in the SEC and Big Ten.
Penn State: No longer forced to contend with Michigan and Ohio State in a divisional race every year, the Nittany Lions are the only team under the Big Ten’s new scheduling model without any permanent rivals at all. Penn State plays Michigan and Ohio State just one time apiece in 2024-25 and its “two-play” opponents are Rutgers, Michigan State and USC — which, besides the Trojans, is quite manageable. This scheduling model finally allows James Franklin’s squad to step out of the Big Ten East’s shadow.
Maryland: Not only does Maryland escape playing Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every year, but its chosen protected rival is … Rutgers? The same Rutgers that Maryland has only played on an annual basis since the two programs joined the Big Ten in 2014. The Terrapins are 6-3 against the Scarlet Knights in the span. On top of that, Rutgers hasn’t managed a winning season in nine years. The Terrapins may still have work to do if they want to compete for Big Ten championships, but there’s no doubt the path just got easier.
Iowa: Considering any Big Ten West team a beneficiary of the new scheduling model is tough. In the West, the path to the Big Ten Championship Game was wide open every year with each team having a realistic shot. Now, they have to jostle with the Big Ten’s traditional powerhouses in the race for one of the top two spots in the standings. One may also look at the fact that Iowa has to play Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin every single year as a negative, but that is exactly what fans wanted. Tradition matters to the Hawkeyes, and preserving their biggest rivalries through a sea of change was a win.
Arkansas: It may not be this way forever, but Arkansas’ 2024 slate is shaping up quite favorably. Most importantly, the Razorbacks will no longer have Alabama as an annual opponent. Instead, it seems like their protected rivals are Texas A&M (still in Arlington) and LSU, with the potential of adding Texas as a yearly opponent. Sam Pittman’s squad has shown that it is more than capable of winning those games in recent years. The same cannot be said about playing Alabama. The Hogs are going on 17 years without a win against the soon-to-be-former SEC West giant.
Texas A&M: As with Arkansas, Texas A&M gets Alabama off its yearly schedule. The Aggies basically swapped the Crimson Tide for Texas, a trade most folks would take every time. It also revives a rivalry between Texas’ two preeminent programs. Looking at the immediate future, if Jimbo Fisher does not win big in 2023, the following season may be his last shot. The Aggies get Texas and LSU at home, and their road trips come against Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina. On paper, that might be the most favorable road slate in the entire conference.
South Carolina: The immediate outlook is tough, admittedly. The Gamecocks get LSU and Texas A&M at home and then travel to Alabama and Oklahoma in 2024. Noticeably missing from the schedule, though, are Tennessee and Georgia. The Gamecocks shockingly dismantled Tennessee last season, snapping a three-game winning streak for the Vols that included a pair of blowouts. Tennessee is also recruiting like a national power again under coach Josh Heupel — who proved last year he can win in big spots. Additionally, any SEC East team that gets Georgia off its yearly schedule is an automatic winner.
REPORT: STEELERS TO SIGN VETERAN LB NICK KWIATKOSKI
The Pittsburgh Steelers plan to sign veteran linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, 93.7 The Fan reported Monday.
Kwiatkoski, 30, recorded seven tackles in 12 games with the Atlanta Falcons last season.
The suburban Pittsburgh native was a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2016.
Kwiatkoski has 293 tackles, seven sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions in 89 games (34 starts) with the Bears (2016-19), Las Vegas Raiders (2020-21) and Falcons.
REPORT: BILLS’ STEFON DIGGS UPSET WITH LACK OF VOICE IN OFFENSE
It took a week to find out what was eating Buffalo wideout Stefon Diggs last week, when he blew off Day 1 of the Bills’ mandatory minicamp.
Diggs apparently is frustrated with his role and lack of voice in the play-calling of the Buffalo offense, according to a report published Sunday by The Boston Globe.
Last week’s hullabaloo apparently was a carryover from the Bills’ playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last season, when Diggs was clearly frustrated with what was happening — or not happening — on the field, per the report.
Diggs had four catches for 35 yards on 10 targets in that 27-10 divisional loss to the Bengals on Jan. 22.
Diggs stormed out of the locker room after the loss, not to be seen at all during the voluntary offseason program. He was M.I.A. for the first day of camp last Tuesday but returned for Day 2, when Bills coach Sean McDermott said the 29-year-old had been excused from the first practice. McDermott was “very concerned” with Diggs’ absence just the day before.
“I feel like we’re in a real good spot so the rest of it though, the details I want to respectfully keep those conversations in house,” McDermott told reporters Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Bills quarterback Josh Allen told reporters that he and Diggs were “working on some things” that were “not football-related.”
Diggs caught 108 passes for 1,429 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022. His catches ranked fourth in the NFL, his yards fifth and his TD receptions were tied for third.
Diggs signed a four-year, $96 million extension in April 2022 and is set to make $24.415 million in 2023. That puts him fifth among all wide receivers for the 2023 season, per Spotrac.
BEST DUOS ON EACH NFL TEAM HEADING INTO 2023: PATRICK MAHOMES, TRAVIS KELCE LEAD CHIEFS; OL GREATS PACE EAGLES
Dynamic duos are what separates the contenders and pretenders on each NFL team, even though many teams can stake claim to a pairing that gives its franchise an opportunity to win games. Some teams even have multiple duos that have an impact every game, but those are typically the Super Bowl contenders.
Finding a dynamic duo that helps a team win can be difficult. The best duos in the league don’t have to play the same position, but they have to contribute on the same side of the ball. So what qualifies as a duo for each team?
Here were the qualifications for this particular list (which are the same qualifications from last season):
Play on the same side of the ball
Contribute to the team’s offensive or defensive success
Can be from the same position, but not a prerequisite
Can be the two best players on that particular side of the ball
They don’t have to play an official game together (so rookies and free agents are included)
These are the top duos for each of the 32 NFL teams heading into 2023, all of which feature some of the best players in the league:
Arizona Cardinals — D.J. Humphries (OL) and Paris Johnson (OL)
The Cardinals have a foundation on the left side of the offensive line (assuming Johnson ends up at left guard in his rookie year). Regardless, Arizona has a fixture on the offensive line with the No. 6 overall pick.
Johnson being paired next to Humphries should protect Kyler Murray’s blind side. Humphries didn’t allow a sack last season and yielded just 13 pressures at left tackle (3.6% pressure rate) despite playing just eight games.
While Arizona may struggle in 2023, Humphries and Johnson will be bright spots on a rebuilding team.
Atlanta Falcons — Bijan Robinson (RB) and Tyler Allgeier (RB)
Easy to underestimate how well the Falcons ran the ball last season — and they added Robinson to the mix. Robinson is expected to be an integral piece in the Falcons’ rushing attack, as Atlanta was third in the NFL in rush yards per game (159.9) and second in rush-play percentage (55.3%) last season. Robinson had 258 carries for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns (6.1 yards per carry) last season, while averaging 16.5 yards per catch (19 catches).
Allgeier finished with 1,035 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Atlanta doesn’t have much on offense, but its run blocking should set up big seasons for Robinson and Allgeier. The duo has the potential to be the best running back tandem in the league.
Baltimore Ravens — Roquan Smith (LB) and Patrick Queen (LB)
The Ravens arguably have the best linebacker duo in the league with Smith and Queen, which is impressive considering they only played nine games together.
Smith made an instant impact in the Ravens defense since Baltimore acquired him prior to the trade deadline, finishing with 169 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and six passes defended with the Ravens and Chicago Bears this past season. Smith and Patrick Willis are the only players to have 150-plus tackles, four-plus sacks and three-plus interceptions in a season.
Queen is coming off a season which he notched a career high in tackles (117), sacks (five), interceptions (two) and passes defensed (six). He is one of three defenders (Roquan Smith and Bobby Wagner) with at least 300 tackles, three interceptions and 10 sacks since entering the league in 2020.
If Baltimore makes a deep playoff run in 2023, Smith and Queen will be a massive reason why.
Buffalo Bills — Josh Allen (QB) and Stefon Diggs (WR)
Nothing changes in Buffalo with the Allen-Diggs connection, no matter what drama is surrounding the Bills star wide receiver. Diggs owns the top three single-season reception marks in Bills history. He’s tied with Davante Adams for the most receptions in the NFL over the past three seasons (338) and fourth in receiving yards (4,189), solidifying himself as a top five receiver in the game.
Allen has the most total touchdowns after a player’s first five seasons in NFL history (177), including finishing second in the NFL with 42 in 2022. He’s thrown for 35-plus touchdowns and rushed for six-plus touchdowns in each of the past three seasons and is the only player to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 750 yards in a season — and Allen has accomplished that feat in consecutive seasons.
The Bills will remain Super Bowl contenders with Allen and Diggs in the fold.
Carolina Panthers — Jaycee Horn (CB) and Jeremy Chinn (S)
While the Panthers are rebuilding their offense under Frank Reich, the defense has some playmakers who can make a huge impact in the NFC South. Horn allowed just a 35.8 passer rating in coverage last season, with no touchdowns and three interceptions. He was only targeted 51 times last season.
Chinn played just 11 games last season, but had 70 tackles, a sack and six passes defensed. He didn’t have any interceptions, but opposing quarterbacks had just a 73.6 passer rating targeting Chinn.
Both players are linchpins of the Carolina secondary.
Chicago Bears — Tremaine Edmunds (LB) and T.J. Edwards (LB)
The two free-agent signings at linebacker are primed to be difference-makers in the Bears defense. Edmunds has five straight seasons with 100 tackles (the fourth-longest streak in the NFL), always having a knack for finding the football.
Edwards ranked tied for sixth in the NFL with 159 tackles last season, also seventh in the league with 289 tackles over the last two seasons. Edwards had 159 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, seven passes defensed, five quarterback hits, two sacks and one fumble recovery for the Eagles last season. He had the fewest yards per attempt allowed (4.4) in coverage last season (among 75 players with 70-plus targets).
The Bears ranked last in the NFL in points per game allowed, third-down conversion percentage, yards per attempt and sacks. That should change with Edmunds and Edwards in the fold.
Cincinnati Bengals — Joe Burrow (QB) and Ja’Marr Chase (WR)
This duo will pace the Bengals for a long time as Cincinnati has already made two AFC Championship games in the two years they ‘ve been together. Over the last two seasons, Burrow is second in completion rate (69%), second in yards per attempt (8.1), third in passing touchdowns (69) and first in passer rating (104.2) amongst quarterbacks.
Chase has been Burrow’s No. 1 target, ranking sixth in receiving yards (2,501) and tied for second in touchdowns (22) over the last two seasons despite missing five games. He still had a 1,000-yard season despite missing five games in 2022.
Burrow and Chase are one of the best duos in football and one of the top quarterback-receiver combinations.
Cleveland Browns — Joel Bitonio (OL) and Wyatt Teller (OL)
Hard to find a better guard tandem in the NFL, especially the Pro Bowl duo of Bitonio and Teller. Bitonio is coming off his second consecutive First Team All-Pro selection, allowing one sack and 19 pressures in 2022 (4.0% pressure rate).
Teller wasn’t an All-Pro in 2022 (was on second team previous two seasons), but allowed four sacks and 23 pressures (4.8% pressure rate). Both Bitonio and Teller are two of the best interior linemen in the game, and mainstays on the Cleveland offensive line.
Dallas Cowboys — Micah Parsons (LB) and Trevon Diggs (CB)
The two best players on the Cowboys defense just happen to be their biggest playmakers. Parsons led the NFL with 90 quarterback pressures last season, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 19.3% of his pass rushes — that also led the league. Parsons also joined Aldon Smith and Reggie White as the only three players with 13-plus sacks in each of their first two seasons (sacks became an official stat in 1982). Bottom line, Parsons is one of the best pass rushers in the game.
Diggs has 17 interceptions in his first three seasons, the fourth most by any player since 2000. His 3.4% missed tackle percentage was fifth among cornerbacks as opposing quarterbacks had a 71.7 passer rating targeting him last season (five touchdowns allowed and three interceptions).
The Cowboys have been a top 10 defense in points allowed per game in each of the last two seasons. Parsons and Diggs are two young stalwarts on that unit.
Denver Broncos — Patrick Surtain Jr. (CB) and Justin Simmons (S)
The Broncos have one of the game’s best cornerbacks in Surtain, who has allowed a 59.7 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks after his first two seasons. Targeting Surtain is difficult, as quarterbacks have completed just 54.5% of their pass attempts with six interceptions. Surtain has 24 passes defensed in his career and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in just his second season.
Simmons has been a mainstay in the Broncos secondary. A Second Team All-Pro last season (and three times in the last four years), Simmons tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions and had three forced fumbles in just 12 games. Opposing quarterbacks has just a 71.3 passer rating targeting Simmons last season, a good mark for a safety.
Denver’s secondary is in good hands with Surtain and Simmons.
Detroit Lions — Jared Goff (QB) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR)
Goff and St. Brown have become the dynamic duo for the Lions offense, catapulting Detroit as one of the up-and-coming teams in the NFC. In his second season with the Lions, Goff set franchise records for the highest touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.14) and lowest interception rate (1.2%) — and tied for the highest single-season passer rating (99.3). He completed 65.1% of his passes for 4,438 yards with 29 touchdowns to just seven interceptions last season.
St. Brown is one of the more underrated wide receivers in the NFL. He caught 106 passes for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns in 2022, becoming just the third player in Lions history aged 23 or younger to have a 1,000-yard season. Not only is St. Brown the youngest player in franchise history to produce a 100-catch season, but he’s just the third player in NFL history to log at least 90 catches in the first two seasons of his career — joining Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. He also tied the NFL record for longest streak of eight straight games with eight or more receptions in Year 2.
St. Brown is Goff’s top target, and plays a massive role in the quarterback’s resurgence in Detroit.
Green Bay Packers — Aaron Jones (RB) and A.J. Dillon (RB)
The Packers running back tandem is going to play a huge role in Jordan Love’s first season as the starting quarterback in Green Bay. Jones rushed for 1,121 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season, both ranking in the top 10 in the league. His 1,516 yards from scrimmage was ninth in the NFL while his 5.1 yards per carry is third amongst active running backs.
Dillon is the power back in Green Bay’s offense, having 1,573 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons. He complements Jones well, especially in short yardage situations.
Having Jones and Dillon is a luxury in Green Bay.
Houston Texans — Dameon Pierce (RB) and Devin Singletary (RB)
The Texans will have to rely on their running game in C.J. Stroud’s rookie season, and have a good foundation in Pierce and Singletary. Pierce averaged 72.2 rushing yards per game in his rookie season, which ranked eighth in the NFL and first among all rookie running backs. He finished with 1,104 scrimmage yards, good for fifth amongst all rookies.
Singletary is a good veteran presence to complement Pierce, as he finished with 1,099 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns last season. He has a career 4.7 yards-per-carry average, never surpassing 188 carries in a season.
Houston can run the ball, and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik comes from San Francisco. The combination appears poised to produce in 2023.
Indianapolis Colts — Quenton Nelson (OL) and Ryan Kelly (OL)
Nelson and Kelly had subpar seasons by their standards last season, but the former All-Pro linemen are far from finished. The biggest surprise was Nelson, who allowed more sacks last season (five) than he did in his previous four seasons in the NFL (four). He also allowed more pressures in 2022 (30) than he allowed in 2020 and 2021 combined (28).
Kelly allowed five sacks — as many as he allowed in the past two seasons combined — and 25 pressures last season. The pressure rate of 3.9% was actually lower than in 2021, yet Kelly made a Pro Bowl that year.
The duo combined for an abnormal season, but that appears to be the outlier rather than the norm.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence (QB) and Travis Etienne (RB)
What else is there to say about Lawrence at this rate? The Jaguars quarterback is already a top 10 player at his position, completing 66.3% of his passes for 4,113 yards with 25 touchdowns to just eight interceptions for a 95.2 passer rating in 2022. Lawrence has the largest increase in passer rating for a No. 1 overall pick from Year 1 to Year 2 since Terry Bradshaw (1970 to 1971), raising his passer rating from 71.9 to 95.2 (+23.3 points). Lawrence also was one of four players with 20-plus passing touchdowns and five-plus rushing touchdowns last season, joining Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow.
Etienne was one of the NFL’s best running backs in 2022, having 1,125 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his first full season (5.1 yards per carry). He was ninth in the NFL in rushing yards and eighth in yards per carry.
Lawrence is just 23 and Etienne is 24. Both will be franchise players for the Jaguars for years to come.
Kansas City Chiefs — Patrick Mahomes (QB) and Travis Kelce (TE)
The best duo of any kind in the NFL belongs to the Chiefs, as Mahomes and Kelce are the best players on the team that has won two Super Bowl titles in the past four years. Over the past five seasons, Mahomes and Kelce are the two best players at their respective positions.
Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards (23,957), passing touchdowns (192) and passer rating (106.0) among quarterbacks with 1,500 pass attempts since the 2018 season.
Kelce is third in the NFL in receiving yards (6,444), second in receptions (504) and fourth in touchdowns (47) since Mahomes became the starting quarterback in 2018. These two have helped the Chiefs reach five consecutive AFC Championship games, win three conference titles and two Super Bowl rings.
Mahomes and Kelce are the centerpieces of the Chiefs dynasty — and an unstoppable duo.
Las Vegas Raiders — Josh Jacobs (RB) and Davante Adams (WR)
The Raiders have the league rushing champ and the most productive receiver in the NFL over the last half decade — in the same offense. Jacobs was the first player in franchise history to win rushing the title since Marcus Allen in 1985, rushing for 1,643 yards and 12 touchdowns — and his 2,053 total yards from scrimmage also led the league. He has three 1,000-yard campaigns in his four seasons, fourth in the league in rushing yards (4,740) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (40).
Adams has the most receptions (532), receiving yards (6,826) and most receiving touchdowns (62) in the NFL over the last five seasons, on pace for a Hall of Fame career. Making three straight First Team All-Pro honors, Adams had 100 catches for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns (league leader) in his first year with the Raiders.
Jacobs and Adams are two of the best at their position, a dream tandem for any quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers — Justin Herbert (QB) and Austin Ekeler (RB)
Herbert is on a historic pace after three seasons in the league, having the most passing yards (14,089) and completions (1,316) after a player’s first three seasons. Herbert only trails Dan Marino in touchdown passes after a player’s first three seasons (94). He’s coming off a season where he threw for 4,739 yards and 25 touchdowns.
While Herbert has a lot of offensive weapons, Ekeler is the most productive of late. He has 38 scrimmage touchdowns over the last two seasons, easily leading the league as Ekeler has led the NFL in that category in consecutive years. Ekeler has 3,195 yards from scrimmage over the last two years (1,826 rushing and 1,369 receiving), arguably the best all-purpose back in the game.
If the Chargers are to compete in the AFC, Herbert and Ekeler are main cogs for the franchise trying to win their first Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Rams — Matthew Stafford (QB) and Cooper Kupp (WR)
They weren’t on the field together much last season, but it’s hard to ignore what Stafford and Kupp did two seasons ago. They won the Super Bowl in their first season together, as Kupp became the fourth player ever to win the receiving triple crown and have a 2,000-yard season (including playoffs), while Stafford was the third quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl in his first year with a new team.
Kupp was productive in his nine games (75 catches, 812 yards, six touchdowns) in an injury-shortened 2022 campaign, but Stafford had his worst season since 2014 due to multiple injuries. If the Rams are to compete in the NFC West in 2023, they need the 2021 version of Stafford and Kupp.
Miami Dolphins — Tyreek Hill (WR) and Jaylen Waddle (WR)
One year together in Miami and Hill and Waddle emerged into one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in football. Hill set an NFL record for most receiving yards in a first season with a team (1,710), catching a career-high 119 passes and earning First Team All-Pro honors.
Waddle led the NFL in yards per catch (18.1), finishing with 75 catches for 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns. Waddle finished seventh in the NFL in receiving while Hill finished second, joining A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith as the only pair of teammates to crack the top-10 in receiving yards.
The Dolphins finished in the top 10 in offense for the first time since 1995 because of the explosiveness of Hill and Waddle.
Minnesota Vikings — Justin Jefferson (WR) and T.J. Hockenson (TE)
There isn’t much to be said about Jefferson at this point, as the game’s best wide receiver is off to the greatest start for any pass-catcher in NFL history. Jefferson set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons in league history (4,248), passing Odell Beckham Jr. (4,122) and Randy Moss (4,163). He also has the NFL record for most receptions (324) after a player’s first three seasons.
Jefferson led the NFL in catches (128) and yards (1,809) last season, winning the Offensive Player of the Year award. Who is paired with a dynamic player of Jefferson’s caliber? That’s where Hockenson comes in, as he finished with 60 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns in his 10 games with the Vikings last season after Detroit traded him to Minnesota.
Hockenson is one of the game’s best pass-catching tight ends, ranking third in receptions (214), fifth in receiving yards (2,220) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (16) over the last three years. A full offseason in the Vikings scheme could do wonders for Hockenson as a complement to Jefferson — making things easier for Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings’ path to scoring points in the NFC North relies on Jefferson and Hockenson — and a repeat of the division title.
New England Patriots — Matt Judon (LB) and Josh Uche (LB)
Judon and Uche were one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL last season, both ending up with double-digit sacks on a Patriots defense that ranked third in sack percentage (8.3%) and fourth in pressure percentage (36.5%). Judon finished with 69 pressures, 28 quarterback hits, and 15.5 sacks in a Pro Bowl season.
Uche didn’t start a game last season, but played all 17 contests and finished with 11.5 sacks. He had 56 pressures and 14 quarterback hits in a breakout season.
The Patriots’ pass rushing duo is a vital part of their defense, while also playing a huge role in stopping the run (Judon was at 11.8% and Uche was at 11.1% in percentage of rush defense snaps with a tackle). Judon and Uche are one of the most underrated pass-rushing duos in football.
New Orleans Saints — Alvin Kamara (RB) and Jamaal Williams (RB)
The Saints’ new running back tandem should present a problem for opposing defenses, thanks to the addition of Williams. The free-agent signing led the NFL with 17 touchdowns in a career year, setting the Lions’ franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season. Williams had 1,066 rushing yards for Detroit, becoming a complementary piece to Kamara (similar to how Mark Ingram was used in years past).
Kamara didn’t make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, but he still had 1,387 yards from scrimmage despite only four touchdowns. The first player in NFL history to record at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons, Kamara’s receiving numbers should improve with Williams in the fold and Derek Carr as his quarterback.
Both running backs are expected to make Pete Carmichael’s offense go.
New York Giants — Daniel Jones (QB) and Saquon Barkley (RB)
Look no further than Jones and Barkley toward why the Giants were a playoff team last season, the only two threats on an offense that lacked playmakers. Jones led the league in interception rate (1.1%) and finished with a career high in rushing yards (708) and rushing touchdowns (seven). He set career highs in passing yards in completion percentage (67.2%), passing yards (3,205) and passer rating (92.5), while becoming the first player in NFL history with 300-plus passing yards, 70-plus rushing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns in a playoff game.
Jones has 44 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions in games Barkley plays, along with a 91.4 passer rating. He has 16 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in games Barkley doesn’t play (77.3 rating). Barkley playing in every game Jones did last season certainly helped, as he finished fourth in rushing yards (1,312) and ninth in rushing touchdowns (10). Barkley had the most rushing yards for a Giants player in a season since Tiki Barber (2006) and finished seventh in yards from scrimmage (1,650).
The Giants need Jones and Barkley to make the playoffs, even with an improved offense around them in 2023.
New York Jets — Sauce Gardner (CB) and Quinnen Williams (DL)
The Jets have one of the top young cornerbacks and defensive tackles in the game. Gardner already is one of the best players at his position in the NFL, being the first rookie cornerback named as a First Team All-Pro since Ronnie Lott in 1981, and winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He allowed just a 44.9 passer rating in coverage, as opposing quarterbacks targeting Gardner completed just 44.2% of their passes (Gardner had two interceptions and allowed just one touchdown).
Williams is one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles, ranking second at his position in sacks (12) and tied for first in quarterback hits (28). He set a career high in pressures (52) and pressure rate (12.9%) while earning First Team All-Pro honors.
The Jets defense had the best turnaround in scoring since the 2000-2001 St. Louis Rams (-11.1 points per game), dropping their points per game allowed from 29.7 in 2021 (last in NFL) to 19.6 in 2022 (fourth in NFL). The emergence of Gardner and Williams are a massive reason why.
Philadelphia Eagles — Jason Kelce (OL) and Lane Johnson (OL)
Plenty of duos on the Eagles to choose from on such a talented roster, yet Kelce and Johnson remain two of the best offensive linemen in the game at their respective positions. Kelce recorded another First Team All-Pro season in 2022, not allowing a sack or quarterback hit the entire year (just eight pressures total). Those zero sacks came on 619 pass-block snaps as Kelce’s 1.3% pressure rate allowed was the third lowest in the NFL (minimum 500 pass-block snaps).
Kelce has five first-team All-Pro selections at center, all of which have came in the past six years. The elder Kelce brother is one of just eight centers to earn five first-team All-Pro selections, and the previous seven each have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’ll be on his way there when he decides to hang it up.
Johnson also didn’t allow a sack in 2022 (he hasn’t allowed one since Week 11 of the 2020 season), while having a pressure rate allowed of 1.5%. He earned First Team All-Pro honors for the second time, while not giving up a quarterback hit in 2022.
Kelce and Johnson are the two best offensive lineman on the best offensive line in football.
Pittsburgh Steelers — T.J. Watt (LB) and Cameron Heyward (DL)
While Pittsburgh found a gem in Alex Highsmith last season, Watt and Heyward remain the pair that makes that defense go. Watt had a career low in sacks (5.5), pressures (31), quarterback hits (12) and pressure rate (11.1%), but only played 10 games due to a torn pectoral muscle. When Watt was on the field, the Steelers defense allowed 16.9 points per game and had 3.2 sacks per game (8-1 record). Without Watt, it allowed 25.3 points and had just 1.1 sacks (1-6 record).
Heyward had another strong season at defensive tackle, this time without Watt playing the majority of the games. He finished with 58 pressures, 22 quarterback hits and 10.5 sacks while making his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl selection.
The Steelers are elite when Watt is on the field, but they still have of the best pass-rushing interior linemen in Heyward. There’s a reason why Pittsburgh is the only team with 300-plus sacks since Watt entered the league in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers — Nick Bosa (DL) and Fred Warner (LB)
Hard to beat a more dynamic defensive duo than these 49ers stalwarts. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Bosa led the NFL with 18.5 sacks and tied for first in the league in pressures (90). Bosa led the league with 48 quarterback hits and tied for second in the NFL in tackles for loss (19).
Warner is one of the game’s best off-ball linebackers, earning First Team All-Pro honors after finishing with 130 tackles, 10 passes defensed, an interception and two sacks. He’s one of two players to record 115-plus tackles in each of the past five seasons (Bobby Wagner is the other). Warner was the only player to have 130 tackles and 10 passes defensed last season and the first player to accomplish the feat since Luke Kuechly in 2019.
The 49ers defense is dominant because of Bosa and Warner, two of the best in the NFL at their position.
Seattle Seahawks — Tyler Lockett (WR) and D.K. Metcalf (WR)
Lockett and Metcalf are one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL, and reliable no matter who is playing quarterback. Lockett recorded his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2022, totaling 84 catches for 1,033 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s ninth in the NFL in receptions (339), 11th in yards (4,319) and tied for sixth in touchdowns (35) over the last four seasons.
Metcalf had his second 1,000-yard season of his career, finishing with a career-high 90 catches for 1,048 yards and six touchdowns. Over the last four seasons, Metcalf is 16th in the NFL in receptions (306), 14th in yards (4,218), and tied for sixth in touchdowns (35) — with Lockett.
Geno Smith was the Comeback Player of the Year, thanks to the contributions from Lockett and Metcalf. Both players should have more opportunities to get open with Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the fold in 2023.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Mike Evans (WR) and Chris Godwin (WR)
The Buccaneers have one of the most reliable wide receiver duos in the game, no matter who’s playing quarterback for them. Evans recorded his ninth consecutive 1,000-yard season to begin his career, extending his own record for the longest streak to begin a career in NFL history (also the second-longest streak in league history). He’s third in the NFL in receiving yards (10,425) and second in receiving touchdowns (81) since 2014 (his rookie season).
Godwin is seventh in the NFL in receiving yards per game over the past four seasons (78.2), while leading the league in catch rate (74.6%). He finished with a career-high 104 catches for 1,023 yards in 2022.
Evans and Godwin were third in the NFL in combined receiving yards for a duo (2,147), recording 1,000-yard seasons in three of the past four years. Both continue to produce in Tampa Bay.
Tennessee Titans — Jeffery Simmons (DL) and Harold Landry (LB)
Tennessee certainly missed this duo last season, thanks to the season-ending injury Landry suffered days before the start of the 2022 season. Landry had a breakout season with the Titans in 2021 as he finished with a career-high 75 tackles, 12 sacks and 22 quarterback hits — earning his first Pro Bowl appearance. Landry also recorded a career-high 57 pressures and finished with 41 hurries.
Even without Landry, Simmons was dominant. A Second Team All-Pro selection for the second consecutive year, Simmons recorded 7.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and seven passes defensed in 15 games. He had 53 pressures and a 9.7% pressure rate despite not having Landry on the edge to free him up on the interior.
Simmons and Landry were the anchors on the Titans defensive line in 2021. Both players are 27 or under, so their best football is ahead of them.
Washington Commanders — Daron Payne (DL) and Montez Sweat (DL)
The strength of the Commanders is on the defensive line, even if Chase Young hasn’t lived up to expectations since his rookie season. Sweat has, however, notching his best season in 2022 with a career high in pressures (62), quarterback hits (28) and pressure rate (14.5%). While Sweat has yet to record a double-digit sack season, the numbers demonstrate that’s coming in due time.
Payne didn’t make the Pro Bowl despite notching a career-high 11.5 sacks last year, along with 49 pressures and 20 quarterback hits (9.6% pressure rate). He was one of the best interior pass rushers in the game, and was paid like one as a result.
Both Sweat and Payne are 26, playing a crucial role in leading Washington’s defense to compete with the powers in the NFC East.
DRIVERS AGREE THAT PALOU’S 74-POINT INDYCAR LEAD ISN’T INSURMOUNTABLE
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Alex Palou isn’t taking anything for granted and his competitors aren’t conceding a thing.
But someone’s going to have to make a heck of a charge in the second half of the season to prevent Palou from winning his second IndyCar Series championship in three years.
Palou has won three of the last four IndyCar events and owns a 74-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson as the season approaches its midway point. That’s the biggest advantage anyone’s had eight races into the season since 2020, when Scott Dixon led the rest of the field by 117 points at this stage.
“Yeah, I’m glad that we have those points in our camp and we don’t have to catch other people, but I’m not relaxed by the points gap at all because it’s IndyCar,” Palou said after winning Sunday at Road America. “If it was another series, yeah, maybe I would be a bit more relaxed. In IndyCar, you can’t.”
The 2020 season provides evidence of that.
Dixon seemed ready to breeze to the championship that year after finishing first or second in six of the first eight races, but he couldn’t keep up that torrid pace. Dixon ended up winning his sixth title by only 16 points over Josef Newgarden.
That season should offer some encouragement for all the drivers currently chasing Palou in vain.
As big as Palou’s lead is, it could have been even bigger.
His Road America triumph followed victories on the Indianapolis road course and at Detroit. He very easily could have a four-race winning streak right now if circumstances had gone just a little bit differently in the Indy 500.
Palou had the pole position at the Indy 500 and dominated for much of the race before he was spun on pit road during routine stops. He still managed to finish fourth.
That Indy 500 performance reflects his ability to produce plenty of points even when he doesn’t win. Palou was eighth in the season opener at St. Petersburg and hasn’t finished below fifth in any of the seven races since.
“They’ve not had a bad race,” said Newgarden, who finished second at Road America. “I think that’s to be expected. We had an engine pop on us in the very first round. Everybody has a different story. If you look at their story, they’ve not had one bad race yet. When you have eight races in a row without a bad one, this is what happens points-wise.
“What’s going to happen on the final nine, it’s impossible to say. There’s so much season still that he’s got a good cushion at this point, they’ve done a great job, but I don’t think that guarantees anything in IndyCar.”
Newgarden is third in the standings and trails Palou by 81 points.
Now that he has such a big lead, Palou was asked Sunday if he might act more conservatively the rest of the season and worry about picking up plenty of points each event rather than going for wins all the time.
Palou said it’s too early to think that way. Nine events remain in the 17-race season, which resumes July 2 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
“We’re going to keep pushing and trying to go for wins,” Palou said. “Focus on the championship the last couple races.”
Palou understands the challenges of winning a series championship.
Two years ago, Palou became the first Spaniard to win an IndyCar Series title when he beat out Newgarden by 38 points.
Palou settled for fifth place during a tumultuous 2022 season in which he was dealing with distractions surrounding his future.
He had attempted to leave Chip Ganassi Racing for Arrow McLaren, but Ganassi sued and mediation determined he remained contractually bound to the team through 2023. Palou still plans to move to Arrow McLaren in IndyCar next season and already is one of McLaren’s reserve Formula One drivers.
With that settled, Palou says he’s now solely thinking about the task at hand. He’s not looking ahead to next year. He’s not even looking ahead to the end of this season and a potential title.
“We’re going to focus on each weekend,” Palou said. “Each weekend is different. It’s like the work starts from zero. We’re taking that mentality this year. I think it’s working. It’s paying off.”
TOP INDIANA RELEASES
INDIANA PACERS BASKETBALL
PACERS WRAP UP BUSY WORKOUT SCHEDULE, TURN ATTENTION TO DRAFT NIGHT
The Pacers officially wrapped up their pre-draft workouts on Monday at the Ascension St. Vincent Center with a two-player workout featuring Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis and Dayton’s Toumani Camara.
The Blue & Gold have been as busy as ever leading up to Thursday night’s 2023 NBA Draft. Indiana currently has five picks in this year’s draft, including three in the first round.
Monday’s workout was the 16th the Pacers have conducted leading up to the draft. The team has brought 62 different players into Indianapolis for those workouts. They held one six-player workout on May 12 before the NBA Draft Combine, but the remaining 15 workouts have taken place over the last three weeks.
“With the number of picks, it’s an awesome opportunity to get way more guys in, get to know them,” Pacers Vice President of Player Personnel Ryan Carr said about Indiana’s busy workout schedule. “…It’s been a lot of fun. Just a lot of good kids, getting to know (them) on the court, off the court, spend a lot of time with them.”
One of the players Indiana spent some time with on Monday was Lewis, a 6-7 wing who turned pro after a strong sophomore season at Pepperdine. Lewis averaged 17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists last season for the Waves, where he was a second-team All-West Coast Conference selection.
Lewis scored 20 or more points in 13 games last season, including seven straight contests from Dec. 19 – Jan. 7. Included in that stretch was a 20-point, five-rebound, five-assist outing at Gonzaga and a 30-point, 14-rebound double-double against Pacific.
Lewis is a lengthy wing (his wingspan measured at 7 feet at the combine) and a good athlete (36.5-inch vertical). He excels in transition and also has a reputation as a strong shooter.
The 20-year-old Lewis converted 35.4 percent of his 3-point attempts in college. He was shooting 41 percent from three in late January before closing the season in a 7-for-37 slump from beyond the arc.
With his length and athleticism, he has all the tools to develop into the ideal “3-and-D” wing that teams are always looking for in the draft.
“I make shots off the dribble, catch-and-shoot,” Lewis said Monday when asked to describe his game. “I’m really athletic. Maybe I might do a one-foot windmill every now and then on the fastbreak. And I like to play defense. Do a little bit of everything.”
Lewis said he studies long and athletic shotmakers like former Pacer Paul George, Mikal Bridges, and Rudy Gay and hopes to impact the game on both ends like those players at the next level.
Since turning pro, Lewis has been focused on getting his body ready for the more physical demands of the pro game. He said he has put on 12-13 pounds since he was in college by expanding his daily regimen to include four meals and two protein shakes. Lewis was listed at 195 pounds in college but weighed in at 207 at the combine.
Because he played at Pepperdine in relative anonymity in the WCC (aside from Lewis, the Waves didn’t make many waves this season, going 9-22 and finishing in last place in the conference), Lewis feels like he has more to prove during the pre-draft process.
“Just thinking about a lot of Power Five guys that went to Kentucky, Arkansas, those guys looking at me like, ‘Oh, this guy’s from (a) mid-major,'” Lewis said. “I for sure have got a chip on my shoulder. I’ve got a lot to prove still. They say it’s easy to get to the league, it’s hard to stay. Just keeping a chip on my shoulder and just working, staying in the gym.”
For what it’s worth, the WCC has started to produce NBA talent from programs outside of Gonzaga. Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara went to Gonzaga with the 12th overall pick last season and finished as runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. This year, both Lewis and Santa Clara guard Brandin Podziemski are considered potential first-round picks.
Lewis’ projected range in the draft happens to fall right where the Pacers have several picks. ESPN currently has him ranked 31st on its draft board. Indiana owns the 26th, 29th, and 32nd overall selections.
In Monday’s workout, Lewis went head-to-head with Camara, a 6-8 forward back for his second workout in Indiana. Camara previously worked out for the Pacers on June 2 as part of a six-player workout.
For his part, Camara was impressed with Lewis’ game.
“Really big frame, long arms and really athletic,” he said. “He shoots the ball really well. I think he’s got a lot of upside. I feel like his game is not fully developed, he’s got a (lot of potential).”
Camara is a 6-8, 220-pound forward from Belgium who spent two years at Georgia playing for Tom Crean before transferring to Dayton. He spent the last two years with the Flyers and was named to both the All-Atlantic 10 first team and the A-10 All-Defensive team last season, when he averaged 13.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.
Camara led the conference in rebounding and recorded seven double-doubles on the season. He had some monster performances in the Atlantic-10 Tournament, including a 17-point, 18-rebound, four-steal performance in a quarterfinal win over St. Joseph’s and a 28-point (on 12-of-13 shooting), seven-board outing in a semifinal victory over Fordham.
He was the only player this year that the Pacers elected to bring back for a second workout, an infrequent occurrence but something that does happen on occasion.
“It’s a dream,” Camara said of being back in Indiana for the second time in a matter of weeks. “Being able to get invited at least one time it’s already a good feeling. I’ve been dreaming about this since I’m seven. I can’t imagine a better situation to get invited a second time.
“I’m thinking it means that I did a good job the first time. They want to see me a little more, analyze my game a little bit. I take a lot of pride (in) that.”
Some of the feedback Camara received from his first workout was to stay committed defensively, so he focused heavily on that end in Monday’s workout with Lewis.
Camara has been particularly busy over the past month. Monday was his 17th workout with an NBA team. The Pacers were actually the second team to bring him back for a second workout, as he also had two workouts with Boston.
As the Pacers now turn their focus to draft night, they have an array of potential paths they could go down. Indiana currently has 12 players under contract for next season, leaving only three open spots on its 15 man roster, plus three two-way contracts.
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard said at his postseason press conference and again after the lottery that he doesn’t necessarily envision adding five rookies to an already young Indiana roster, but it’s nearly impossible to forecast in advance how draft night will unfold.
“The more options, the better,” Carr said Monday. “The more picks, the more things you can do with it, more opportunities…There’s going to be good players at each of those picks. We’re excited if it goes that way.
“If other things come up and that’s the best interest of building this team, then I’m sure Kevin and (general manager) Chad (Buchanan), that’s what they’ll do.”
The Pacers’ top pick in this year’s draft is the seventh overall selection. If the Blue & Gold keep the pick, it will be their second-highest pick since 1989. The only time Indiana has picked higher over that span is last season, when the Pacers drafted Bennedict Mathurin sixth overall.
That choice worked out well for Indiana, as Mathurin finished second among all rookies in scoring and was the first Pacer to be named to the All-Rookie first team since Rik Smits in 1988-89.
“The one thing about Benn is he wants to be great…That really was apparent from the first time that we ever talked to him,” Carr said. “He is determined to be as great as he can be. We want players that want to be like that.
“Last year was the highest pick that we had in a long time and this year is just one pick behind it and we want another player that wants to be great. We go into this looking at these lottery picks (thinking) they need to be big pieces for us. They need to be great players for us and that’s what we’re looking for.”
2021 NO. 1 OVERALL DRAFT PICK HENRY DAVIS SELECTED BY PITTSBURGH
Davis, 23, was promoted from Double-A Altoona to Indianapolis on June 6 and hit .286 (10-for-35) with three doubles, one triple, one home run, three RBI, eight walks and a .946 OPS in 10 games. He has reached base safely in 46 of 51 total games between both levels this season, compiling a .284 batting average (52-for-183), .433 on-base percentage and .974 OPS.
The catcher by trade started as Indianapolis’ right fielder in six of his 10 Triple-A games, yielding a perfect fielding percentage and one outfield assist in 12 total chances. Along with hitting his first Triple-A home run last week at Iowa, Davis flashed his athleticism by making a diving catch on a liner down the right-field line and sparking a relay to nab a runner at home plate.
Davis attended the University of Louisville (Ky.) and became the first Cardinal and the seventh different catcher selected first overall in MLB Draft history, joining Steve Chilcott (1966), Mike Ivie (1970), Danny Goodwin (1971 and 1975), B.J. Surhoff (1985), Joe Mauer (2001) and Adley Rutschmann (2019).
THE ALL-STAR CASE FOR ALIYAH BOSTON, KELSEY MITCHELL, AND NALYSSA SMITH
By Jordan Morey
There’s still time to vote your Indiana Fever players into the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game. The Fever have a trio of well-deserving nominees, including rookie phenom Aliyah Boston, veteran guard Kesley Mitchell and double-double machine NaLyssa Smith.
This year’s All-Star game will be played in Las Vegas at the Michelob Ultra Arena, home of the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, on July 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET and air on ABC.
Fan voting makes up 50 percent of All-Star consideration while player and media voting accounts for 25 percent each.
Voting for the All-Star game closes on Wednesday at 11:59 pm ET, and fans are allowed to vote once daily at vote.wnba.com, on the WNBA App, or by commenting under an official voting post coming from the WNBA Instagram account or 12 team’s accounts with a hashtag of a WNBA player’s first and last name (#FirstNameLastName) or Instagram handle. On Wednesday, the third “2-for-1 Day” will occur, with fan votes counting twice.
After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups. The four guards and six frontcourt players with the best score will be named as starters, with fan voting serving as tiebreakers.
All three of Boston, Mitchell, and Smith have put together compelling cases for All-Star selection.
Aliyah Boston, frontcourt
Key stats: 29.1 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG (3.1 OREB), 2.1 APG, 1.5 BPG, 66.4% FG, 50% 3PT, 76.7 FT, three double-doubles.
When the Fever drafted Boston with the No. 1 overall pick in April, General Manager Lin Dunn and head coach Christie Sides both shared how the University of South Carolina product could lift the franchise back to winning ways.
If the first half of her rookie season is any indication, Boston’s well on her way to becoming the player the Fever had hoped for – and fans across the globe have taken notice.
The first round of voting on June 13 showed Boston had 23,594 votes, good for the fourth-most of any player in the WNBA. She trailed just Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson (35,968), the New York Liberty’s Breanna Steart (32,926) and the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner (28,387).
Thus far this season, Boston leads all rookies in points, rebounds and blocks, among other stats.
Boston, who has already broken several Fever and WNBA rookie records, hasn’t missed a game and leads the entire league field goal percentage while ranking 19th in scoring average, 14th in rebounds per game and seventh in blocks.
While she’s had several memorable games, Boston’s top performance so far was against the Washington Mystics on June 13 when she led the Fever in points (23), rebounds (14) and assists (six). According to ESPN Stats & Info, Boston was the youngest player in WNBA history and the first player in Fever history with 20 points on 75 percent shooting, 10 rebounds and five assists.
“She’s incredible. She’s just special,” Sides said of Boston.
Thanks in part to Boston’s imposing authority around the rim, paired with Smith’s dominance on the boards, the Fever as a team rank third in the WNBA in rebounds per game as well as field goal percentage.
“I’m just learning and experiencing and trying to be a great teammate,” Boston said.
Boston has undoubtedly earned herself a spot in the All-Star game and should be considered the favorite to be named Rookie of the Year by the season’s end. Just Catchings (2002) has earned the honor of Rookie of the Year in Fever history.
“(Boston) just keeps getting better every game,” Sides said. “She just keeps doing something different every game that puts us in a good position to win.”
Kelsey Mitchell, guard
Key stats: 33.5 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 42.5% FG, 37.7% 3 PT FG, 85.7% FT
In her fifth year, Kelsey Mitchell has continued to prove she’s one of the preeminent scorers in the WNBA. This season, Mitchell again leads the Fever in scoring and is ranked 13th in the league at 17.5 points per game and fourth in 3-pointers made.
Against the Mystics on June 13, Mitchell moved into second place on Indiana’s all-time scoring list, passing Katie Douglas (2,564); she now trails just Tamika Catchings (7,380 points) in franchise history.
But Mitchell doesn’t simply put up big numbers, she comes up with clutch plays. Most notably her step-back, last-second jumper to give the Fever a 92-90 win over the Chicago Sky on Thursday.
In all 11 games this season, Mitchell has recorded at least 15 points eight times and 20 or more four times.
“She definitely has the ‘it,’” Sides said. “There’s just players that have ice in their veins. They think they’re going to make it every time. That’s who she is.”
On and off the court, Mitchell is helping lead the Fever. Mitchell already has one major honor this season, as she was the recipient of the WNBA’s Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.
When the first round of votes came back, Mitchell (6,415) had the 24th most votes of all players and ninth-most votes among all guards.
NaLyssa Smith, frontcourt
Key stats: 28.8 MPG, 14.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG (7.3 DREB), 1.5 APG, 43.1% FT, 76.2% FT.
Before the 2023 season tipped, there were signs Smith was in for a special sophomore year.
In the Athletes Unlimited season finale this past March, Smith dropped 50 points to clinch the individual championship in the offseason league where players changed teams weely.
That momentum has spilled into her second season with the Fever.
Following her Fever rookie season where she made the All-Rookie Team, the No. 2 pick from the 2022 draft has put up career numbers.
This season, Smith has recorded five double-doubles in 11 games and ranks fifth in rebounds per game among all players. She has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games played and accomplished 12 or more rebounds three times, including 15 against the Connecticut Sun.
While Smith has dazzled on countless occasions, her top performance came against the Mercury on June 11 when she scored a career-high 29 points on 11-for-19 shooting while pulling down 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists.
“I think it’s just the will to win,” Smith said of her improved play.
In the first round of voting, Smith had the 25th most votes (5,951) which was 13th of all front court players.
IUPUI MEN’S SOCCER
INDIANAPOLIS – The IUPUI men’s soccer program and head coach Sid van Druenen announced two final additions to the program’s 2023 signing class ahead of the upcoming fall season. The most recent two additions bring IUPUI’s class of newcomers to 16 for the fall campaign.
Declan Finnegan (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Academy) and Gijs Velings (Bergharen, Netherlands/Kandisky College) will join the program this fall and each have four seasons of eligibility remaining. Finnegan, a 6-foot-4 goalkeeper, is the younger brother of current IUPUI standout Logan Finnegan and was originally intending to join the program in January 2024. However, he recently reclassified into the Fall 2023 class and will immediately join the program. Velings, a 5-foot-11 midfielder, was a late commitment to the program this summer.
Finnegan is a three-time All-Sectional, three-time All-Conference and three-time Conference Goalkeeper of the Year while at Wheaton Academy. He helped Wheaton to an IHSA Class 1A State semifinals appearance this past season and 15-6-3 record. He was named All-State by Chicagoland Soccer.
“Declan is our captain’s, Logan Finnegan, younger brother and a goalkeeper with tremendous potential,” van Druenen said. “He has great presence in goal and his distribution is some of the best I have seen in a goalkeeper of his age. We are very excited to get to work with him and see how he progresses.”
Velings plays for FC Eindhoven’s U21 team after having played for Willem II. The right-footed 19-year old finished high school in 2022 and played for FC Eindhoven’s professional youth academy this past year and also has experience with SC Woezik.
“Gijs joins us from FC Eindhoven, a professional academy in the Netherlands, and is a late addition to an already very strong and capable midfield group,” van Druenen said. “His mobility, ability on the ball and high tactical IQ will fit well in our system and we need players like that to continue to be successful.”
The Jaguars are coming off a 7-7-6 campaign and finished as runner-up at the Horizon League Tournament in van Druenen’s first season in 2022. IUPUI scored 31 goals, tops in the program’s D1 era, and is expected to return 29 of those tallies and eight starters next season.
SOUTHERN INDIANA MEN’S SOCCER
EAGLES ANNOUNCE 2023 MEN’S SOCCER SCHEDULE
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Men’s Soccer announced their 2023 schedule today, including its first Ohio Valley Conference slate of games. The Screaming Eagles open their season at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on August 24 in Indianapolis, Indiana, while beginning the home calendar August 27 by hosting Mercer University at Strassweg Field.
This fall marks the inaugural season of men’s soccer in the OVC. The OVC announced in March that men’s soccer would become the conference’s 19th-sponsored sport with four full-time members and four affiliated members.
The 2023 USI home schedule is a nine-game schedule that includes a four-match homestand in September. The homestand includes cross-town rival University of Evansville (September 9), Belmont University (September 12), former GLVC-rival Northern Kentucky University (September 19), and the OVC-opener versus Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (September 28).
Prior to the four-match homestand, USI is on the road to play at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (September 1) and Akron University (September 4). The Eagles, following the four-match homestand, travel to play OVC contests at Lindenwood University (October 1), Houston Christian University (October 5), and University of Incarnate Word (October 8).
USI returns to the friendly surroundings of Strassweg Field for three-straight during the middle of October. The Eagles host OVC matches against Chicago State University (October 12), Liberty University (October 15), and Eastern Illinois University (October 19) during the final homestand of the year.
The road schedule concludes with SIUE (October 22) and EIU (October 26) before the Eagles conclude the 2023 regular season with Lindenwood University (October 29).
The OVC Men’s Soccer Championship will take place November 5, 8 and 11 in Edwardsville, Illinois, at SIUE’s Ralph Korte Stadium.
The Eagles finished 2022 with a 2-12-3 record and a 2-5-1 record in the Summit League. USI, which was 1-3-1 against OVC teams last year, would have earned a trip to the Summit post-season tournament had it be eligible in its return to NCAA Division I play last falls.
The Eagles are under the direction of Head Coach Mat Santoro, who enters his 15th season with the program and boasts a career record of 111-108-27.
SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:
INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/
EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/
WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/
FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/
ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/
ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index
TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index
BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/
DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/
HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/
MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/
HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/
OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx
ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index
IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/
IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/
IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/
PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/
INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx
GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/
GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/
HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php
TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/
VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index
|Tampa Bay||51||24||.680||–||31 – 7||20 – 17||16 – 9||12 – 1||8 – 5||5 – 5||L 2|
|Baltimore||44||27||.620||5||22 – 13||22 – 14||13 – 8||14 – 5||8 – 6||7 – 3||W 1|
|NY Yankees||39||33||.542||10.5||21 – 17||18 – 16||11 – 15||8 – 8||8 – 5||3 – 7||L 4|
|Toronto||39||35||.527||11.5||19 – 13||20 – 22||7 – 17||11 – 5||9 – 7||3 – 7||L 3|
|Boston||38||35||.521||12||21 – 18||17 – 17||13 – 11||9 – 4||5 – 5||7 – 3||W 5|
|Minnesota||36||37||.493||–||21 – 18||15 – 19||8 – 12||13 – 11||5 – 4||5 – 5||L 2|
|Cleveland||33||38||.465||2||16 – 17||17 – 21||7 – 8||8 – 11||10 – 6||5 – 5||W 1|
|Detroit||31||40||.437||4||16 – 18||15 – 22||2 – 14||13 – 8||4 – 5||5 – 5||W 2|
|Chi White Sox||31||43||.419||5.5||17 – 18||14 – 25||4 – 12||15 – 11||5 – 9||3 – 7||L 2|
|Kansas City||19||53||.264||16.5||10 – 28||9 – 25||2 – 8||5 – 13||4 – 11||1 – 9||L 2|
|Texas||45||27||.625||–||24 – 13||21 – 14||9 – 7||8 – 2||15 – 8||5 – 5||W 3|
|LA Angels||41||33||.554||5||20 – 14||21 – 19||8 – 9||9 – 6||15 – 12||7 – 3||W 1|
|Houston||39||34||.534||6.5||20 – 19||19 – 15||5 – 5||8 – 11||13 – 6||3 – 7||L 5|
|Seattle||35||35||.500||9||21 – 17||14 – 18||3 – 6||7 – 6||12 – 10||5 – 5||W 1|
|Oakland||19||55||.257||27||9 – 29||10 – 26||3 – 11||3 – 3||4 – 23||5 – 5||L 5|
|Atlanta||46||26||.639||–||24 – 15||22 – 11||17 – 6||6 – 0||10 – 7||8 – 2||W 6|
|Miami||42||31||.575||4.5||22 – 13||20 – 18||11 – 12||5 – 4||9 – 10||7 – 3||W 5|
|Philadelphia||38||34||.528||8||19 – 11||19 – 23||5 – 8||6 – 4||11 – 12||8 – 2||W 6|
|NY Mets||34||38||.472||12||17 – 15||17 – 23||12 – 11||4 – 11||8 – 8||4 – 6||W 1|
|Washington||27||44||.380||18.5||12 – 25||15 – 19||7 – 15||4 – 4||7 – 11||2 – 8||L 4|
|Cincinnati||38||35||.521||–||18 – 18||20 – 17||7 – 9||11 – 12||5 – 5||9 – 1||W 9|
|Milwaukee||37||35||.514||0.5||21 – 17||16 – 18||3 – 0||11 – 5||7 – 14||3 – 7||L 1|
|Pittsburgh||34||37||.479||3||18 – 17||16 – 20||4 – 2||10 – 11||9 – 6||2 – 8||L 7|
|Chi Cubs||34||38||.472||3.5||20 – 17||14 – 21||6 – 10||7 – 8||9 – 8||8 – 2||W 1|
|St. Louis||30||43||.411||8||13 – 21||17 – 22||3 – 4||10 – 13||7 – 13||4 – 6||W 3|
|Arizona||44||29||.603||–||23 – 18||21 – 11||10 – 11||7 – 3||16 – 9||6 – 4||W 1|
|San Francisco||40||32||.556||3.5||19 – 17||21 – 15||9 – 7||13 – 7||9 – 7||8 – 2||W 8|
|LA Dodgers||39||33||.542||4.5||22 – 14||17 – 19||9 – 6||12 – 11||12 – 10||4 – 6||L 3|
|San Diego||35||37||.486||8.5||19 – 20||16 – 17||9 – 7||6 – 8||11 – 11||6 – 4||L 1|
|Colorado||29||46||.387||16||16 – 19||13 – 27||11 – 14||8 – 8||4 – 15||3 – 7||L 6|
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1901 John W. Taylor goes the distance but takes the loss when the Beaneaters defeat the Orphans at Boston’s South End Grounds. The right-hander begins a remarkable streak of 187 consecutive complete games that end in August of 1906, when he is relieved by another pitcher, after amassing an incredible 1,727 innings of work that includes finishing up 15 games in relief.
1912 In a slugfest, the Giants and Braves score 17 runs in the ninth inning. New York tallied seven runs in the top of the frame, but the Braves scored ten runs in the bottom of the ninth to narrow the margin, 21-12.
1921 At Fenway Park, Babe Ruth hits his 127th home run, helping the Yankees defeat the Red Sox in 10 innings, 7-6. The homer moves the ‘Sultan of Swat’ past Sam Thompson into second place on the career list for homers and 11 dingers behind all-time leader Roger Connor.
1925 At Forbes Field, Max Carey becomes the first switch-hitter to hit for the cycle, helping the Bucs bash Brooklyn, 21-5. In addition to his four hits in six trips to the plate, the Pirate outfielder scores two runs and drives in four runs.
1950 After stroking an RBI single in the third inning, Joe DiMaggio strikes again in the seventh with another run-scoring safety to collect his 2,000th career hit. The Yankee Clipper reaches the milestone in an 8-2 victory in Cleveland, the 1,537th contest he has played in the major leagues.
1951 Bobby Avila goes 5-for-6 at the plate, collecting 15 total bases and scoring four runs in the Indians’ 14-6 victory over Boston. The Tribe’s second baseman’s offensive output at Fenway Park includes three home runs and a double.
1961 The voting ends in a ‘worldwide election’ to settle the question of who is better, New York’s Mickey Mantle or San Francisco’s Willie Mays. Inspired by Bill Hoebler, a young baseball fan from Pittsburgh, the Sport magazine’s poll puts the Yankee center fielder ahead of the Giants’ Say Hey Kid by more than 500 votes after tallying the seventeen pounds of postcards from all 50 states and several countries.
1961 On the day he is released, Pittsburgh names Gene Baker as the player-manager of their Class D Batavia Pirates of New York-Penn League, making him the first black manager of a minor league team with a major league affiliation. The 36-year-old former infielder pilots the floundering 18-24 club to a third-place finish, losing the league finals to the Olean Red Sox.
1963 In the Bronx, the Yankees and Mets participate in their first Mayor’s Trophy Game, with former Bronx Bomber skipper Casey Stengel employing his best pitchers, Jay Hook (5) and Carl Willey (4), to defeat the reigning World Champions in the exhibition contest, 6-2. An enthusiastic crowd of 50,742, mostly National League fans, sees many of their banners supporting the expansion club confiscated upon entering The House That Ruth Built.
1967 Allowing only a second-inning double to Tommy Davis, Larry Jackson tosses a one-hitter, blanking the Mets at Connie Mack Stadium, 4-0. The win marks the right-hander’s eighteenth consecutive victory over New York, starting with the first game the 1962 expansion team ever played, a streak that will end on August 14 with an 8-3 loss.
1968 In a pitching duel between future Hall of Famers, Bob Gibson beats Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs, 1-0, thanks to Curt Flood’s third-inning single plating Lou Brock, who tripled to right field with two outs. The two-hour and five-minute Busch Stadium contest is the fourth straight loss for Chicago without scoring a run, including three by 1-0 scores.
1973 Giants right fielder Bobby Bonds hits his 22nd career leadoff home run and his eighth this season in the team’s 7-5 loss to Cincinnati at Candlestick Park. The 27-year-old Californian’s first-inning shot off Reds’ southpaw Don Gullett breaks the National League record for homers leading off a game, a mark he shared with Cardinal outfielder Lou Brock.
1977 The Red Sox set a major league record when the team hits their twenty-second home run in the past six games. Butch Hobson’s eighth-inning solo shot off Rudy May in the team’s 4-0 victory over the Orioles at Memorial Stadium establishes the new mark.
1980 Al Cowens, exacting revenge for being hit last season with a pitch thrown by Ed Farmer that fractured his jaw, takes a detour to the mound after hitting an infield grounder and tackles the White Sox reliever, landing several punches before the two are separated. Forced to skip the remainder of the series at Comiskey Park because of an arrest warrant, the Tiger right fielder will receive a seven-day suspension for his action.
1980 Five-foot-five Freddie Patek hits three home runs to help the Angels beat the Red Sox, 20-2. During his 14-year career in the big leagues with the Royals, Pirates, and Angels, the diminutive shortstop will hit 41 round-trippers, an average of four each season.
1982 At Three Rivers Stadium, in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates, Pete Rose becomes the fifth major leaguer to appear in 3000 games. The Phillies’ first baseman, playing in his 523rd consecutive contest, joins Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and Carl Yastrzemski as one of only five players to reach the milestone.
1983 Yankee outfielder Bobby Murcer retires as an active player, ending his 17-year major league career with a .277 lifetime batting average and 252 home runs. The popular outfielder, who also played for the Giants and Cubs, will become a mainstay in the broadcast booth until he succumbs to a brain tumor in 2008.
1987 After giving up home runs to Dale Murphy and Ken Griffey, Reds starter Bill Gullickson plunks Andres Thomas in the back with a pitch in the Reds’ 8-6 loss at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Braves’ shortstop takes exception and charges the mound, precipitating a bench-clearing brawl that will result in both initial combatants getting tossed from the game.
1991 Ivan Rodriguez becomes the youngest person to catch a major league game when he bats ninth in the Rangers’ 7-3 victory over White Sox. The 19-year-old backstop, called Pudge by his teammates, nails two would-be base stealers and goes 1-for-4 with a two-run single in the ninth inning of the Comiskey Park contest.
1992 Kelly Saunders fills in for Baltimore’s Rex Barney, becoming the second woman to be a public address announcer at a major league game. In 1966, Joy Hawkins McCabe, the Senators’ public-relations director’s daughter, became the first female PA announcer, doing one contest for Washington at DC Stadium against the White Sox.
1994 Detroit’s 25 consecutive games with a home run end when they drop a 7-1 decision to the Indians at Tiger Stadium. The span tied the major league record set by the 1941 New York Yankee squad, powered by Bronx Bombers Charlie Keller, Tommy Henrich, and Joe DiMaggio.
1995 At Jacobs Field, the Indians reach the million mark in attendance on the earliest date in franchise history when 40,516 fans watch their pennant-bound team rout the Red Sox, 9-2, behind the solid performance of starter Chad Ogea. The 100-44 club will finish second in attendance in the American League, trailing only the Orioles, who draw over three million patrons at Camden Yards in the strike-shortened season.
1996 The Devil Rays get their first win in the organization’s history when the Gulf Coast League affiliate beats the GCL Astros. Jose Rodriguez, an 18-year-old right-hander from Cotui in the Dominican Republic, gets the victory.
1997 Aaron Boone, respectively the son and grandson of former major leaguers Bob and Ray, is called up from the Reds’ minor leagues. To make room on the roster, Cincinnati demotes his brother, Bret.
1998 At Wrigley Field, Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa hits two home runs for the second straight day, setting a major league mark with 16 round-trippers in June. The 29-year-old Chicago slugger will extend the record when he goes deep for his 20th on the last day of the month.
1999 A rusty Troy Percival, who hasn’t pitched in a week, establishes a franchise record with his 127th save for the Angels when he finishes the team’s 4-2 victory in New York. The right-handed closer’s less-than-stellar outing, allowing four batters to reach base and giving up a run, surpasses the team mark established by Bryan Harvey in 1992.
2001 Hitting his 38th homer of the season, Barry Bonds breaks the major league mark established by Reggie Jackson (1969) and Mark McGwire (1998) for home runs hit before the All-Star Game. However, the Giants’ left fielder still has 17 games to add to the record.
2002 Luis Castillo extends his hitting streak to 34 games, breaking the 1922 record established by Rogers Hornsby for the longest hitting streak by a second baseman. The Dominican infielder’s accomplishment, the 14th longest in major league history, also ties Benito Santiago’s record set in 1987 for the longest established by a Latin player.
2002 A four-and-a-half-hour closed-casket public viewing takes place at Busch Stadium for Jack Buck, the 77-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster who died from complications following lung surgery. In memory of the KMOX legend, fans leave cards, stuffed animals, photographs, and other memorabilia outside the stadium at the foot of the bronze statue depicting him at the microphone.
2003 Miguel Cabrera’s first major league hit is a two-run walk-off homer in the eleventh inning of a 3-1 Marlin victory over the Devil Rays at Dolphin Stadium. The Marlins had signed the skinny 20-year-old outfielder from Maracay, Venezuela as an amateur free agent in 1999.
2004 On Father’s Day with his dad in attendance, 34-year-old Ken Griffey, Jr. blasts a sixth-inning Matt Morris fastball over the right-field wall at Busch Stadium for his 500th career home run. The Reds’ center fielder becomes the twentieth major leaguer and the sixth youngest to reach the milestone.
2006 The Rockies’ starter Jason Jennings and relievers Tom Martin and Brian Fuentes combine to produce the first one-hitter in franchise history. The 6-0 victory against Oakland marks the third time a Coors Field contest yields one hit or less.
2007 Connecting on a fifth-inning hanging breaking ball thrown by Cubs’ hurler Jason Marquis, Sammy Sosa becomes the fifth major league player to hit 600 career home runs. The Rangers’ designated hitter, who missed the entire season last year, joins Hank Aaron (755), Barry Bonds (748), Babe Ruth (714), and Willie Mays (660) in reaching the milestone.
2008 John Gibbons becomes the third manager fired in the past four days as the last-place Blue Jays fire their skipper. Cito Gaston, who piloted Toronto to a pair of world championships in 1992 and 1993, has been brought back to lead the team.
2008 In recognition of their significant contributions to the community, the Dodgers become the first sports franchise to be honored by the Hollywood Historic Trust and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The team’s Award of Excellence star takes its place on the Walk of Fame, which includes a constellation of celebrities, real and fictional, who have had a significant impact on the entertainment industry.
2009 Two major league games end on walk-off wild pitches in extra innings on the same day. Jason Jennings’ errant throw allows Nate Schierholtz to score the winning run for the Giants with two outs in the 11th inning to beat Texas, 2-1, and Andres Blanco comes home on Kerry Wood’s miscue, giving the Cubs a 6-5 victory over the Indians in 13 innings.
2009 With their parents in attendance wearing opposing jerseys, Jeff Weaver beats his kid brother Jered when the visiting Dodgers best the Halos, 6-5, at Angel Stadium. The Northridge, California natives become the eighth set of siblings in major league history to start against one another.
2009 A.J. Burnett strikes out the side on nine pitches in the third inning in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to Florida. Josh Johnson, Chris Coghlan, and Emilio Bonifacio all strike out swinging in the Land Shark Stadium contest.
2011 The Marlins announce Jack McKeon will be the team’s interim manager, replacing Edwin Rodriguez, who resigned yesterday. The 80-year-old skipper, the second-oldest in major league history, is taking over the floundering Fish club that has lost ten consecutive games and 18 of its last 19 after starting the season by winning 30 of its first 50 contests.
2013 Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier, a New Jersey native, has ‘Woke Up This Morning,’ the “Sopranos” theme song, played when he steps up to the plate against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. With the selection of the iconic tune from the HBO series, the Cincinnati infielder pays tribute to James Gandolfini, the actor best known for his role as Garden State mob boss Tony Soprano, who passed away yesterday at the age of 51.
2015 One strike away from a perfect game, Max Scherzer’s bid for immortality is spoiled when he hits Jose Tabata with a pitch, a slider off the elbow that many believed the Pittsburgh outfielder purposely leaned into to get on base. The 30-year-old right-hander records the final out on the next batter to complete his first-ever no-hitter, allowing just one hit in two consecutive starts after tossing a 16-strikeout, one-hit complete game against Milwaukee in his last outing.
Jim Thorpe Joins Merchant Marine
Yes the legendary gridiron star, Jim Thorpe joined the war effort at the age of 57! His patriotism spurned him to do his part but the only military organization that would allow him to join at that age was the Merchant Marine. His wife informed the paper that Thorpe signed up shortly after thier 18 year old son Phillip had joined the Navy. According to SABR.org, the great gridiron star served on an ammunition ship during the war.
Hall of Fame Birthdays for June 20
June 20, 1890 – Ann Arbor, Michigan – Johnny Maulbetsch who played for Adrian and the University of Michigan as a halfback was born. According to the National Football Foundation, Johnny played on the 1911 team at Adrian College; the team posted an 8-0 record. He enrolled at Michigan and played three years, 1914-16. The “Featherweight Fullback” as he was known, earned Walter Camp’s All-America honors as a sophomore in 1914. Maulbetsch was a handsome, gentle personality who brought a new finesse style of play to those days of hard nosed football. As a Wolverine captain and a senior in 1916, Maulbetsch led Michigan to one of its finest records. The Wolverines won 7 straight games, dominating their foes with wide-open offense and a stingy defense. Then, in the final two games of the campaign, Michigan grudgingly fell to Cornell (23-20) and Pennsylvania (10-7). Even today, Michigan football enthusiasts recall the special spirit Maulbetsch brought to the game. Following each spring practice, the John Maulbetsch Award is presented to the freshman candidate who best displays the desire Maulbetsch fostered during his playing days. The College Football Hall of Fame proudly placed a display in honor of Johnny Maulbetsch into their legendary museum in 1973.
June 20, 1892 – Brooklyn, New York – Doug Bomeisler, who played end at Yale from 1910 to 1912, arrived into the world. Bomeisler is one of the best ends Yale ever had despite him being injured during his time in New Haven. The FootballFoundation.org web bio tells us that Doug in just the second game was hurt against Syracuse causing Bomeisler to miss the remainder of the 1910 season. During the 1911 season he dislocated his shoulder early in the season and played through the injury throughout the year. Against Princeton he injured his knee. Displaying a creative nature he invented a knee brace made of leather and steel that enabled him to continue playing. In naming “Bo” to his 1911 and 1912 All-America teams, Walter Camp described Bomeisler as, “powerful, thickset, fast, a terror to his opponents.” Doug Bomeisler received the great honor of being selected for inclusion into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
June 20, 1935 – Alliance, Ohio – Len Dawson Pro Football Hall of Fame gold jacket bearing Quarterback was selected to the Pro Bowl 7 times in his 19 year career. Dawson hails from Purdue University and went on to play professionally for the Steelers, the Browns, the Dallas Texans, and most notably for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Pro Football Hall of Fame informs us that eventhough Len Dawson ranks among the elite professional passers of all time with an 82.56 rating compiled over 19 seasons of pro play, he is perhaps best remembered for his gutsy play in leading the Chiefs to a 23-7 upset of the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Dawson connected on 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards in the contest, and his 46-yard pass completion to Otis Taylor wrapped up the surprise victory that evened the AFL-NFL portion of the Super Bowl series at two wins each. Dawson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player of the game. He was a four time passing champ, selected to 6 straight AFL All-Star games and amassed 28711 career passing yards with 239 touchdowns to his throwing credit. Mr. Dawson was also selected as a 1st Team All-Pro twice in his professional career. Len Dawson was selected to enter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
June 20, 1949 – San Antonio, Texas – Texas A&M safety from 1968 to 1970, Dave Elmendorf was born. The NFF says in 1970, he was named All-America defensive back in football. He also was named Academic All-America and won a graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation. In addition to playing defensive back for Texas A&M in 1970, he returned 23 kickoffs for an average of 19.9 yards and returned 13 punts for an average of 10 yards. Dave Elmendorf was honored with induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997 after the National Football Foundation tabulated their votes. Dave graduated with honors and after that he played nine years of pro football with the Los Angeles Rams. Later he was both a radio and television broadcaster.
June 20, 1983 – Waterloo, Iowa – Darren Sproles the electric running back from Kansas State University was born. Darren was a First Team All-American in 2003, as he finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting after leading the nation with 1,986 rushing yards. He was a solid three-time All-Big 12 performer, he earned first team honors in 2003 and 2004 and second team accolades in 2002. Sproles finished his career 11th all-time in rushing and sixth all-time in all-purpose yards in NCAA history. The National Football Foundation voters inducted Darren Sproles into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2021. He was selected as a fourth round pick of the San Diego Chargers in the 2005 NFL Draft and had success there and also later with the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. The three-time Pro Bowl selection was a member of the Eagles team that won Super Bowl LII. Currently ranked sixth in NFL history with 19,696 all-purpose yards, Sproles set the single-season league record with 2,696 in 2011.
FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
Place of Birth: Fall River, MA
Date of Birth: Oct 01, 1900
Place of Death: Southampton, NY
Date of Death: Jul 31, 1986
High School: Fall River, MA (Durfree HS)Promfret, CT (Promfret Prep)
Malcolm “Mac” Aldrich was an All-America halfback and Yale captain in 1921. He drop-kicked a 48-yard field goal against Brown. He beat Princeton 13-7 with two fourth-quarter field goals. He excelled as a runner and passer, and his 86 points made him the nation’s third leading scorer. Frank O’Neil wrote in the New York Sun that Aldrich “combines high will-power with skill, remarkably agile and with a fine side-step.” In the Princeton game he ran behind the referee, Tiny Maxwell, using him as a screen before making a long gain. He also was Yale’s baseball captain and after graduation in 1922 joined the Commonwealth Fund, which donated money for medical education. He became the Fund president in 1940, chairman in 1963, and received an award for distinguished service from the American Medical Association. Aldrich served in the Navy in World War II. He died July 31, 1986, at age 85
NUMBERS IN SPORTS
June 20, 1912 – Who doesn’t like a game with last inning explosions of offense? Well maybe pitchers and their coaches, but for the rest of us the game between the New York Giants and the Boston Braves was one of those games where you didn’t to be the guy that left early. At the top of the 9th inning, the Giants were up 14-2. It sounds like a time where people may want to make their departure home right? Well those that did missed out on a whopping 17 total runs scored as the NY Giants won 21-12!
June 20, 1913 – I am thinking there may have been some angry players in this game. The AL’s New York franchise was in the first season of calling themselves the Yankees and they were facing their foes from Washington that went by the Senators moniker. We either had a Sen’s hurler that was a bit wild or one that knew exactly what he was doing as 3 of the first 4 Yankees batters were hit-by-pitches en route to a record 6 batters hit in the game. That AL record would stand until 1989 when the KC Royals and the Texas Rangers nailed batters 7 times. The overall record in the MLB for beaned batters in a contest in 9 from the season of 1886 when Washington and Pittsburgh played.
June 20, 1950 – Joe DiMaggio, sporting his Number 5 jersey uniform smacked his 2,000th hit in the Majors as he and the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 8-2.
June 20, 1951 – Cleveland Indians slugger Bobby Avila wearing Number 1, hit 3 Home Runs, a double as well as a single against the Boston Red Sox.
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
Bobby Wallace made his major league debut in 1894, taking the mound for the Cleveland Spiders. In a few short years, he evolved into one of the game’s best shortstops.
Wallace pitched for a starting rotation that included Cy Young – and in his first full season in 1895 he won 12 of his 26 decisions. Though his pitching wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive to the team’s management, the level of athleticism he displayed was enough for them to give him chances at other positions.
Wallace played the outfield as much as he took the mound by his third year in Cleveland, and he eventually turned into a regular infielder. The versatile player’s best season came in 1897 when he batted .335 with 173 hits in 130 games while playing third base full time. He drove in a team-leading 112 runs, scored 99 runs and hit 21 triples.
He was moved from the hot corner to the middle infield, first spending time at second base before getting a chance at shortstop, where he made a lasting impression with his teammates.
“[Bobby Wallace] is one of the greatest fielding shortstops who ever lived,” fellow St. Louis Browns player Jimmy Austin said. “It was a delight to play third base next to that fellow.”
In 1901 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Wallace led all NL shortstops in chances per game, assists and double plays and was still a threat at the plate, batting .324 with 91 RBI. He jumped to the American League’s St. Louis Browns in 1902, holding down the starting shortstop job for 11 seasons. He also served as the team’s manager during the 1911 and 1912 seasons.
“The Scot was not the most robust hitter that ever lived, but he was no pigeon at the plate,” sportswriter Bill Corum said. “Save for that, Bobby had one weakness as a shortstop – that was that he played in the same era as Honus Wagner.”
Wallace led his league in assists four times in his career and fielding percentage twice. He also finished in his league’s Top 10 in RBI eight times in his career.
Because of his smart style of play and his remarkable defensive skills, Wallace remained in the big leagues until he was 44 years old.
Wallace was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953. He passed away on Nov. 3, 1960.
|COLLEGE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES||TIME ET||TV|
|Oral Roberts vs. TCU||2:07pm||ESPN|
|MLB REGULAR SEASON GAMES||TIME ET||TV|
|Atlanta at Philadelphia||6:40pm||TBS|
|Baltimore at Tampa Bay||6:40pm||MASN/2|
|Kansas City at Detroit||6:40pm||Bally Sports|
|Toronto at Miami||6:40pm||Sportsnet|
|St. Louis at Washington||7:05pm||Bally Sports|
|Seattle at NY Yankees||7:05pm||Root Sports|
|Chi. Cubs at Pittsburgh||7:05pm||MARQ|
|Oakland at Cleveland||7:10pm||NBCS-CA|
|Colorado at Cincinnati||7:10pm||ATTSN-RM|
|Boston at Minnesota||7:40pm||NESN|
|Arizona at Milwaukee||8:10pm||Bally Sports|
|NY Mets at Houston||8:10pm||ATTSN-SW|
|Texas at Chi. White Sox||8:10pm||Bally Sports|
|San Diego at San Francisco||9:45pm||Bally Sports|
|LA Dodgers at LA angels||10:10pm||TBS|
|Friendly: Germany vs Colombia||2:45pm||FS2|
|UEFA Euro Qualifying: Iceland vs Portugal||2:45pm||FS1|
|CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualification: W1 vs W6||4:30pm||FS2|
|CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualification: W2 vs W5||7:00pm||FS2|
|CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualification: W3 vs W4||9:20pm||FS2|
|Atlanta vs Dallas||8:00pm||NBATV|
|Minnesota vs Los Angeles||10:00pm||CBSSN|
|Connecticut vs Seattle||10:00pm||NBATV|