Author Archives: WRGW Sports
By now, even the most casual NBA fan knows some version of the story: In 2014, head coach Mark Jackson is ousted in favor of Steve Kerr. In his first year at the helm, Kerr wins 67 games, an NBA championship, turns Draymond Green into a strangely effective Dennis Rodman-Rajon Rondo hybrid, and Stephen Curry wins his first MVP. In year two, the Warriors win an NBA record 73 games, Steph has another historic MVP season in which he makes roughly six billion threes, and they look like they’ll coast to another championship.
After a scare in the Western Conference Finals, where they come back from being down 3-1 to win the series, they get back on track against the Cavaliers and have a 3-1 lead of their own. But then Kyrie turns into Uncle Drew, and LeBron morphs into a cross between Jesus and, well, LeBron, leading the Finals in every major statistical category except for nut punches (Draymond beats him by one… or two, couldn’t tell if he connected with both). Cleveland goes on to win in seven.
Three weeks later Kevin Durant signs with the Warriors in free agency, the same team he was up 3-1 on just six weeks earlier. Golden State has looked virtually unbeatable ever since.
They’ve coasted to two NBA championships since Durant’s signing, having lost just one finals game in their two trips. This season, however, initially looked like it might be different. Draymond and Durant were beefing, sharpshooter Klay Thompson was slumping, Steph was injured, and they were in the middle of the pack in a loaded Western Conference. The word “parity” felt like it was creeping back into the NBA vernacular for the first time since Durant made his move to Oakland.
The Warriors’ “slump” didn’t last long. Thompson has been hot since the New Year, Curry has been as good as ever since returning to the lineup, and the KD-Draymond feud seems to have died down.
All of this was enough to put Golden State back atop the Western Conference, fending off a surging Denver Nuggets squad. But a new addition to their roster has made them as dangerous as ever: DeMarcus Cousins.
If the Warriors ever had a weakness, it was at center. Andrew Bogut filled this role in the pre-KD days but they had to shed his contract to make room for Durant. Lately, the role has been filled by the likes of Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney, and Damian Jones. None of these players have been particularly good, per se, but criticizing Golden State for not having a good fifth starter is like criticizing The Wire for not having a good fifth season. Sure, McNulty’s made-up serial killer storyline was idiotic, but the rest of the show, like the Warriors’ other four starters, is still brilliant. (I’ve officially lost track of this analogy. Moving on.)
Cousins has been one of the most dominant centers in the NBA over the course of his career, making four All-Star games and appearing on two All-NBA teams. He spent last year with the Pelicans but tore his Achilles midseason, which limited his free agent prospects. He signed a ludicrously cheap one-year, 5.3 million dollar deal with the Warriors, and returned to action last month.
Since “Boogie” Cousins entered the fray, Golden State has looked as unstoppable as ever. Cousins is averaging 14.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4 assists in limited action, but his per-36 numbers are basically where they’ve been the last few seasons: 22.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists.
With Cousins in the lineup, the Warriors are 6-1 and averaging 119.1 points per contest, slightly above their season average. More notably, they are racking up an absurd 33 assists per outing since his return, a number that would surpass the Showtime Lakers as the best mark ever were it maintained over a full season.
Boogie brings several skills to the table that they’ve never before had in a center. First and foremost, he is an elite post player. The NBA is in the midst of a three-point revolution where all screens are switched on the perimeter to prevent top marksmen from getting open looks – an issue especially apparent when facing Golden State, boasting three of the best shooters ever. Cousins is able to punish teams that switch guards onto him by taking them down to the block and putting his 6’11”, 270-pound frame to work.
Beyond his effective post play, Cousins is also one of the more versatile bigs in, well, league history. Before getting hurt last season, Cousins was shooting a respectable 35 percent on 6.1 three-point attempts a game, a ridiculous volume for a center. He is shooting 39 percent from deep so far this year.
His floor spacing draws shot blockers away from the rim and opens up the lane for what has become one of the best cutting teams in the NBA since Kerr took over. With past Golden State centers, opposing bigs were able to leave a healthy cushion, clogging up the paint for potential backdoor passes. Teams no longer have this luxury against the Warriors with Boogie on the floor.
Outside of his scoring ability – he’s been top ten in points per game four of the last five seasons – Boogie is also among the best passing centers in the league. Through seven games, Cousins is averaging 6.4 assists per 36 minutes, a number that places him second among centers behind Nikola Jokic’s flabby wizardry. With five current or former all-stars in the fold, Golden State’s offense – and team morale – hinges on them sharing the ball, something Boogie has proven himself capable of doing; albeit a temper tantrum is a real possibility if he doesn’t get enough shots up.
Boogie somehow makes what is arguably ALREADY the best offensive team ever EVEN BETTER. Barring an injury (or two… or three), Golden State should coast to another championship if Boogie keeps producing at the level he is now… but honestly, they should be fine this year even if he doesn’t. Where the plot does thicken is this summer.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant could be unrestricted free agents (Durant has a player option) this July, and there are rumblings about KD going to New York and Klay joining LeBron in LA. Those are, however, just rumblings right now. It’s hard to imagine either one of them going elsewhere weeks after securing a third straight championship.
Will the Warriors be willing to pony up the money to bring everyone back? Possibly. Do they need everyone back to continue to win at such a high level? Probably not. In what ways did the Stamp Act contribute to growing tensions in the colonies and help spark the eventual American Revolution? This is completely beside the point but it is one of my homework questions and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
If everyone stays, Golden State’s luxury tax will be looking more robust than a Donald Trump fast food bill (just ask Clemson football). But it might be worth it in order to keep together what could very well become one of the NBA’s great dynasties.
By: Daniel Stettin
With non-conference play wrapping up in college basketball, it is much clearer about who’s who throughout the A10 and the rest of college basketball. There have been surprises both good and bad. Whether it be injuries, a tough schedule, or just poor play, some teams just have not lived up to expectations this year. Unfortunately for the A10, most teams fall under this category.
Tier 1 (Likely NCAA Tournament Team):
1. Rhode Island Rams (6-3, #16 RPI, #5 SOS):
Rhode Island has had quite the non-conference schedule, with 5 of 9 opponents being in the top 50 in RPI and 4 of those games have come away from home. Throw in that the only home game was against In-State Providence which brought in a number of fans, this team has played a touch schedule so far. Sitting at 6-3, they just got back EC Matthews from injury, but in his absence Freshman Fatts Russell has taken advantage of the extra minutes by putting up 20 in back to back games vs Brown and Providence. Just like last year when they nearly beat Final Four Bound Oregon, this is an extremely deep team that is balanced on both ends.
Tier 2 (On the Bubble NCAA Tournament Team)
2. St. Bonaventure Bonnies (8-2, #47 RPI, #153 SOS):
If someone saw that the Bonnies were 8-2 right now, they would assume it’s been all about Preseason All A10 players Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. The two are scoring a bunch, but their shooting percentage’s are both under 40% from the field. With an impending matchup against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, they are gonna need their dynamic duo to heat up offensively. That Syracuse game is their biggest opportunity left this season for a big SOS/RPI boost which really help them come down March.
3. Dayton Flyers (5-6, #55 RPI, #2 SOS):
Don’t let Dayton’s 5-6 record fool you, this is team that has played the second toughest non-conference schedule in the country. Almost all of their toughest games have come on a Neutral or Road court under Anthony Grant. They have struggled defensively this season, getting outscored by .3 every game and also being in the bottom half of the country in rebounds per game. Darrell Davis has made a huge jump as a senior as have Josh Cunningham in his redshirt Junior season. There was a lot of hype going into the year for Kostas Antetokounmpo (Giannis’s little brother), but he has looked like a Freshman at time, with his defense being what is keeping him as a role player.
Tier 3 (Likely NIT)
4. VCU Rams (7-5, #95 RPI, #50 SOS):
VCU continues the trend of A10 teams that have played very tough schedule’s but without the wins. Half of their schedule has come against Power Conference Schools, but they’ve only walked away with a win against California. Their trip to the Maui Invitational gave this squad experience against bigger stronger teams that will help come down the stretch of A10 play. Justin Tillman still doesn’t play much defense, but he is a force offensively, with 18 PPG on 56% from the field and 47% from downtown. He was 0-3 from downtown in his first three seasons so props to him for adding that shot over the offseason. Jonathan Williams has struggled scoring the basketball but has been wonderful running the VCU offense.
5. Davidson Wildcats (4-4, #132 RPI, #150 SOS):
One of the best offensive teams in the country, Davidson almost always has five guys on the court who are capable who shooting it from downtown. Despite losing Jack Gibbs, the Wildcats offense has actually improved. Peyton Aldridge is a stretch four that is near impossible to guard. Ask UNC or Virginia, who he averaged 21 PPG against or UNC Wilmington, who he dropped 37 points on. This man is tough to guard. When this team is hot, it is near impossible to beat them, making them a team that nobody wants to face down the stretch.
Tier 4 (Possible Postseason, Team’s that will Scare you)
This Tier will comprise the most teams. These teams are one’s that will will have the opportunity to participate in the smaller postseason tournaments like the CBI or CIT if they want to, but overall are teams that can catch you off guard if you aren’t paying attention.
6. La Salle Explorers (6-6, #56 RPI, #11 SOS):
La Salle compares very favorably to St. Bonaventure due to the two-headed monster of BJ Johnson and Pookie Powell, but they don’t have the bench production that the Bonnies have. Johnson, the transfer from Syracuse, has been the next great transfer for the Explorers putting up 18 PPG last season and bumping that up to 22 this season. They gave Villanova quite the scare, leading at halftime before falling by 9. This team has just been so inconsistent, looking great against Villanova and Temple while looking bad in games against smaller opponents.
7. Massachusetts Minutemen (6-5, #118 RPi, #81 SOS):
UMass really has changed the publics perception of them in the past week with back to back wins at home over Providence and Georgia. First Year Head Coach Matt McCall has done a great job with this depleted roster who lost Maryland Grad Transfer Jaylen Brantley to a heart condition as well as four others to transfers. Luwane Pipkins has made a big jump in his Sophomore year and he dropped 30 points on Providence. This team is starting to gel at the right time going into conference play.
8. George Washington Colonials (5-6, #152 RPI, #44 SOS):
GW has played an insanely tough schedule in coach Maurice Joseph’s first full season as Head Coach. Outside of the loss at Penn State, GW has played tough in all of the matchup’s against power conference schools, including a win over Temple in the BB&T Classic. Senior Yuta Watanabe has continued to be one of the best defensive players in the country but he hasn’t made the jump offensively that many expected. Jair Bolden has done well as a shooter, but he has struggled running the point for GW. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments MoJo is able to make with this team as the season goes on.
9. Saint Joseph’s Hawks (5-5, #201 RPI, #259 SOS):
Injuries to both Charlie Brown Jr. and Lamarr Kimble has really hurt this team as they were expected to help carry the load for the Hawks. Shavar Newkirk has taken a step back as a senior, with his scoring and percentages both dropping. Freshman Taylor Funk has been a pleasant surprise but overall its hard to tell with team until Brown Jr and Kimble are back.
10. Saint Louis Billikens (6-6, #146 RPI, #43 SOS):
Head Coach Travis Ford has done a great job of bringing in talent to Saint Louis, now we just have to see them on the court. An injury to Elliot Welmer and a sexual assault allegation against Adonys Henriquez, Jermaine Bishop, and Ty Graves have kept them off the court and all were expected to be major contributors this season. The Billikens have really struggled offensively with True Freshman Jordan Goodwin running the offense. We’ve seen what this team can do at their best when they beat Virginia Tech but they’ve also had poor games like the losses vs Detroit and Western Michigan.
Tier 5 (See Ya Next Season)
11. George Mason Patriots (5-7, #209 RPI, #131 SOS):
The loss of Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins has hurt Mason much more than anyone could have imagined. The Patriots are doing worse in almost every category as Otis Livingston has yet to make that big jump that so many have excepted him to do. This is an extremely undersized team that doesn’t really have any one strength that scares you.
12. Duquesne Dukes (8-3, #266 RPI, #344 SOS):
Duquesne Coach Keith Dambrot pulled a Patrick Ewing in his first year in Pittsburgh, scheduling a very easy non-conference schedule to get some easy wins and instill confidence into the program. The Dukes won just 10 games last season and will easily surpass that this season. The real question is how good/bad this team actually is. We really do not know because of their schedule. They have played all but one game at home, with the one non-home game being played PPG Paints Arena (home of the Pittsburgh Penguins), but that is 5 minutes away from the Palumbo Center. Conference play will answer these questions but this team is really a mystery.
13. Fordham Rams (4-6, #277 RPI, #240 SOS):
The Rams bring back Joseph Chartouny, one of the best defensive guards in the country. He’s been one of the nations leaders in Steals since his freshman year. He hasn’t shot well this year, but he does everything else so well. Will Taveras and Prokop Slanina both have made major improvements this season but the two haven’t been able to compensate enough for Fordham’s 342nd ranked offense. Fordham has showed in the past that they are capable of pulling off the occasional upset, like when they beat both VCU and Rhode Island last season, but don’t expect to many of those this year.
14. Richmond Spiders (2-9, #243 RPI, #48 SOS):
By far the biggest disappointment in the A10 this year. They lost at home to Delaware on opening night by 13 which shocked many, but then it got even worse when they lost at home again to Jacksonville State 94-61. The loss of TJ Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones has had arguably one of the most negative impacts in the country. This team went to the NIT quarterfinals last season and looked like they would be able to keep building on this young squad. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to, being one of the worst defensive teams in the country.
By: Daniel Stettin
It’s Championship week in college football, with every conference having their championship game except for the Sun Belt. With that, no team is set in stone for the College Football Playoffs and this week’s slate of games brings a set of numerous possibilities. I see 8 teams having an opportunity to make the playoffs: Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Sorry to Pac-12 fans, you are going to be the conference that is held out this year, as they were in the 2015 season.
ACC – #1 Clemson vs #7 Miami 8 PM ABC:
The ACC champion is in, regardless of what happens in this game. Many believe that Clemson still would have an opportunity to make the playoff if they lose a close game here, but I don’t see how that would happen. The Winner of this game is going to the playoff, the loser is going to the Orange Bowl plain and simple. I see Miami’s loss to Pittsburgh as equivalent to Clemson’s loss to Syracuse. If you switched the date of both teams loss, you can make the argument that Miami would be #1 and Clemson would be #7. The committee says they don’t have recency bias but it appears they did just that dropping Miami from #2 to #7. In terms of the actual game, Clemson should have massive home field advantage with Charlotte being driving distance from Campus compared to three states away for the Hurricanes. Clemson QB Kelly Bryant has had a good year, but nothing special. He’s a much better player than his stats say he is but it says something when he only has 12 passing touchdowns all year. Miami QB Malik Rosier is going to need a bounce back game after getting benched against Pittsburgh. If Rosier plays up to his potential, I don’t see how Miami loses this game. Miami: 27 Clemson: 21
Big Ten – #4 Wisconsin vs #8 Ohio State 8 PM Fox:
For Wisconsin, its fairly simple: Win and you are in. As much as the committee doesn’t want to put Wisconsin in the playoff, they are an undefeated power conference school. Their best win may be over Lane Kiffin’s FAU team, but again they are an undefeated power conference school. No matter what anyone says, if the Badgers win, they are in. Ohio State, on the other hand, will need some help. Ohio State will need to win this game and Oklahoma would need to lose. It would also need to be a big win over Wisconsin as they would need to jump Alabama and thats only going to happen with a big win (two scores or more). It is really hard to ignore that 55-24 loss at Iowa where JT Barrett threw 4 interceptions and fumbled the ball once which I think will make the committee struggle to put Ohio State in the field. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, their strength is one of Ohio States biggest strength’s as well, so freshman RB Jonathan Taylor will have a lot to handle against Ohio State’s top 15 run defense. Wisconsin is the national leader in rushing defense so Mike Weber and JK Dobbins will have a lot to handle as well. The real difference in this game is Ohio State QB JT Barrett, who rebounded from a slow start to have an unreal senior season. 6 of his 7 interceptions came in back to back weeks and he has otherwise been perfect. I don’t believe in Wisconsin to get the win in their toughest matchup of the season. Ohio State: 41 Wisconsin: 24
Big 12 – #3 Oklahoma vs #11 TCU 12:30 PM Fox
For TCU, they aren’t making the playoff no matter what else happens. They are playing for the possibility of playing in a News Years Six Bowl. Oklahoma on the other hand is in a win and they are in scenario. A loss and they are most likely going to a New Years Six Bowl. With Heisman trophy favorite Baker Mayfield under center for the Sooners, they have been unstoppable. Although Mayfield has had his fair share of childish antics, he is downright the best player in College Football. The astounding part of this Sooners offense is that they don’t have an 1000 yard rusher or receiver this year. These two teams faced off a few weeks ago in Norman and Oklahoma walked away with a 38-20 victory. Similar to Kelly Bryant, TCU QB Kenny Hill is much better in person than from stats but doesn’t offer as much of a running threat. This game means nothing to TCU in terms of their postseason destination so I see them firing out of the gate but ultimately losing a close one. Oklahoma: 34 TCU: 31
Pac 12 – #10 USC vs #12 Stanford 8 PM Friday ESPN
There aren’t any playoff indications here, unless you think USC could jump both Alabama and Ohio State. The reality is the winner of this game is gonna play in a New Years Six Bowl and the loser isn’t. The real story in this game is really whether Bryce Love can make a great final impression on the Heisman voters. For as good as Christian McCaffrey was for Stanford, Love has been even better. Coming off a big win vs Notre Dame, Stanford will need Love at his best. He didn’t score a TD for the first time all season vs Notre Dame but don’t expect that scoreless streak to last long. USC has a much more balanced offense with future Top 5 draft pick Sam Darnold under center. This may be the least important Power 5 championship game, but it sure will be entertaining. USC: 27 Stanford: 17
SEC – #2 Auburn vs #6 Georgia 3:30 PM CBS
Just like the ACC, this is a win and you are in game. Many are discounting Auburn since they have two losses but they happen to be both on the road against LSU and Clemson. But they also have wins against two #1 ranked teams (Alabama and Georgia). Add in a blowout win vs a top 25 Mississippi State squad which makes it hard top Auburn’s resume. Georgia has a pretty great resume as well, with wins over Notre Dame and Mississippi State and winning seven games by at least four scores. Freshman QB Jake Fromm has been phenomenal considering he’s an 18 year old. The two headed attack at RB of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb have combined for 2001 yards and 26 TD’s. In the loss to Auburn, the two combined for 20 carries for 48 yards. If Georgia can’t improve those numbers, Auburn might run away with this. Jarrett Stidham, whose two worst games of the year came in the two losses, was great in the win over Georgia throwing for 3 TD’s. The former 5-star recruit has lived up to all expectations after transferring from Baylor. Kerryon Johnson also was dominant in the win over Auburn, having over 230 total yards and a one TD. With a more neutral crowd, the score will be closer but Auburn’s heading to the playoffs. Auburn: 27 Georgia:16
It is important to note that #5 Alabama will most likely find their way into the playoff with either a Oklahoma or Wisconsin loss.
American: #14 UCF vs #20 Memphis 12 PM ABC
UCF is criminally underrated by the playoff committee but they aren’t a top 4 team so it really doesn’t matter. If they beat Memphis, a team they beat by 27 in October, they will be the highest rated Group of 5 team and will play in the Peach Bowl. If Memphis was to win, they would most likely take the Group of 5’s spot in a News Years Six Bowl. UCF has been dominant all year under Scott Frost, who has been tied to a number of high profile jobs recently. McKenzie Milton, a 5-11 Sophomore from Hawaii has taken major strides in his second year in the system, upping his completion percentage 12 points, total yards by over 1700 yards, and 23 more touchdowns. Memphis has only one loss all year to UCF and NFL Prospect Riley Ferguson has been great in his two years after transferring from Tennessee. Look out for sophomore RB Darrell Henderson, he’s got over 1000 yards rushing on 9 YPC. I expect this to be closer than the original matchup and with a score resembling the UCF-USF game last weekend. UCF: 52 Memphis: 42
Conference USA – FAU vs North Texas 12 PM ESPN2
You can’t deny the unreal work Lane Tiffin did with FAU this year, taking a team that went 3-9 three years in a row to a 9-3 records and one on a 8 game winning streak. FAU rolled over North Texas 69-31. Running Back Devin Singletary might be the most under appreciated player in the country after he ran for 1600 yards an 26 touchdowns this year. The passing game may be suspect but Singletary makes up for it. Sophomore Mason Fine made big strides from his freshman to sophomore year and he actually was not horrible in the blowout loss to FAU. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, this game is in Boca so FAU will be able to take this home crowd to their first ever 10 win season. FAU: 49 North Texas: 17
MAC – Akron vs Toledo 12 PM ESPN
We got some MACtion in Detroit as Akron takes on Toledo. This game is fairly similar the Conference USA championship game with Toledo having beaten Akron 48-21. Logan Woodside is a future NFL QB and he carved up a Miami team in September. Akron at just 7-5 hasn’t done anything significant on offense or defense and will likely have a true Freshman in Kato Nelson being under center. Toledo is a three score favorite in this one and they should cover in a blowout win. Toledo: 41 Akron: 10
Mountain West – #25 Fresno State vs Boise State 7:45 PM ESPN
People go wild over the job that Lane Kiffin did at FAU, but how about Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford, the former Cal coach. They went 1-11 in 2016 and he got them to 9-3 in his first season. While not doing anything special on offense, they rode a dominant defense to an appearance in the championship game. This isn’t the Boise State team’s we’ve seen in the past but they still have been solid this year. Despite constantly rotating QB’s, they managed a 9-3 record. Fresno State took this one at home last week but this one is in Boise which will give them the edge. Boise State: 24 Fresno State: 13
Sun Belt – Various Games
The Sun Belt won’t add a championship game until next season which will leave two teams most likely sharing the Sun Belt title this season. Arkansas State and Troy, who famously upset LSU in Death Valley, will face-off in Jonesboro with both sitting at 6-1 in conference. Arkansas State’s offense has been rolling all year with former Oklahoma QB Justice Hansen under center. Troy has had a great defense all year but I don’t see it being enough to stop this Arkansas State defense. Meanwhile, Appalachian State is 6-1 in conference and they face off against a Louisiana team that is looking to get bowl eligible. The Mountaineers had high expectations this year with the return of Taylor Lamb, Jalin Moore, and Terence Upshaw but they suffered from numerous injuries and are sitting at 7-4, but 6-1 in the conference. With a win over Louisiana, they would clinch a share of the Sun Belt title. App State should be able to easily take this one with the Rock most likely rocking in the home finale. At the end of the day, App State and Arkansas State will split the Sun Belt Title.
If the Championship games go as I have predicted, the final four will most likely look like:
The committee has already said they are not gonna change up seeding to avoid a rematch. With that, I think that Alabama will get into the playoff as the #4 seed as the the Committee will want to reward a Miami team that won their conference. Choosing who to send to the Rose Bowl would be extremely difficult as Geography does go into who gets sent to which Semifinal location. None of the teams are located anywhere near Pasadena so it’ll be interesting to see who gets sent out there. The bias in me would have Miami winning this final four but we shall see with some great games left over the next few weeks.
By: Alex Tong
This Monday night, GW will take on the Rider Broncs here at home at the Charles E. Smith Center. The Broncs come into this game sharing a common 2-1 winning record lead by their sophomore star Stevie Jordan, who leads the team in all points, rebounds, and assists per game. But the Colonials are not alone. With players Patrick Steeves, Bo Zeigler, Jair Bolden and Yuta Watanabe carrying the team in the front court and others, such as Arnaldo Toro, protecting the back court, the Colonials will still have to put up quite the battle if they are to chalk up another in the win column.
In addition, whatever the Broncs lack in size, they can easily make up for in speed. And vice-versa for the Colonials, whatever they lack in speed, they can compensate for in size. However, where the Broncs have the Colonials beat is in assists, with Jordan dishing out 7.7 assists per game. Overall, tonight’s matchup is going to be a tight one.
While Rider shares a “better” win against Hampton (they won by 15 while GW beat them by 8), GW should be able to ride their home court advantage to another non-conference victory.