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Dallas Cowboys Seek to Land Impact Players in 2024 NFL Draft

Posted on April 25, 2024 by Chris Kent
The Cowboys seek top talent from the draft.

Like a soap opera, the Dallas Cowboys are the most drama filled team in the National Football League. So much that even the smallest issue can dominate the news like wildfire. Whether it is incidents with players in their personal lives, relationships among players, coaches, and staff, rumors generated on players’ podcasts, or the ongoing saga of contract negotiations, Dallas is always generating drama in a way that commands public attention with an abundance of questions. The Cowboys’ 2024 offseason has been dominated by questions so far and have involved many of the team’s star players as well as coaches

Is quarterback Dak Prescott going to get a contract extension to remain in Dallas beyond the 2024 season? Will head coach Mike McCarthy be around after this next season? What is edge rusher Micah Parsons saying lately on his podcasts and is he using this platform in the right or wrong way? Are the contract negotiations of wide receiver CeDee Lamb and Parsons moving forward? Will cornerback Trevon Diggs regain his all-pro form following last season’s torn ACL that lead him to miss all but two games? How does Mike Zimmer look in his return to the Cowboys as the new defensive coodinator? Why has Dallas signed just two free agents this offseason while losing seven key starters from last season and other important players?

While all 32 NFL teams are facing similar questions like these, they always mean more in Big D based on the history of this iconic franchise and its’ quest to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 29 years.

If the Cowboys are to reach the Super Bowl in the immediate or near future, they will have to make a big splash in this week’s NFL Draft. Dallas and 31 other NFL teams will be looking for their future stars, starters, and complimentary players while hoping to secure some depth for their rosters this week. The draft will take place from April 25-27 at Campus Martius Park, Hart Plaza in Detroit, MI starting this Thursday. It will be televised on ESPN Thursday and Saturday with Friday’s coverage airing on ESPN2. The NFL Network, ABC, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN Radio will also provide coverage.

Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy will be coaching on an expiring contract in 2024.

Three straight 12-5 regular seasons and a pair of NFC East division titles have proven that the Cowboys are an above average team in recent years. However they are 1-3 in the playoffs during this time which does not sit well with team owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones or the fan base of this proud franchise. Dallas has many needs, none bigger than the front seven on defense to shut down opposing rushers. The Cowboys allowed 112.4 rushing yards per game and gave up 4.2 yards per carry in 2023, both of which ranked 16th in the league leaving Dallas as a middle of the pack team against the run. Green Bay had its’ way running the ball in its’ 48-32 playoff upset vctory over the Cowboys back in January. Aaron Jones – who has owned Dallas – ran 21 times for 118 yards and three touchdowns in the one-sided win. The Packers rushed for 143 yards on the day and made their drives count.

The losses of Jonathan Hankins and Dorrance Armstrong – two starters on the defensive line – as well as fellow lineman Dante Fowler and Neville Gallimore leave the Cowboys thin there. Add in the loss of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch who was forced to retire due to recurring neck injuries and Dallas needs a significant upgrade on defense. Veteran cornerback and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore is a free agent likely to sign soon with one of a handful of other teams. Gilmore spent 2023 with the Cowboys after signing a one-year free agent deal and had 68 total tackles, 13 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions last season. A small nucleus is all that remains on defense in veteran Demarcus Lawrence at defensive end, Parsons at edge rusher/linebacker, and Diggs at cornerback. Young players like defensive ends Sam Williams and Chauncey Gholston will have to rise and contribute more along with other players Dallas lands.

The Cowboys need a linebacker or two as well to go along with the newly acquired Eric Kendricks who they signed to a one-year deal in free agency. The 10-year veteran out of UCLA brings experience with the ability to make defensive calls on the field and had Zimmer as his head coach for part of his time in Minnesota. DeMarvion Overshown could be a wild card at linebacker. Dallas used a third-round draft pick on him a year ago but he never saw the field after suffering a torn ACL during a preseason game.

While the defense lost more in quantity, the offense might of lost more in quality. The offensive line took big hits with the free agent losses of future hall of fame left tackle Tyron Smith and 2022 pro bowl center Tyler Biadiaz who had started 49 of 51 regular season games games over the last two years. While 2022 top draft pick Tyler Smith is projected to replace the departed Smith at left tackle, he also has flexibility to play guard. Whether it is a tackle, a guard, or a center or someone who can play multiple positions along the offensive line, the Cowboys need to upgrade this unit. The group is anchored by right guard Zack Martin, a nine-time pro bowler and seven-time first-team all pro. Dallas also re-signed guard Chuma Edoga to help bolster their line.

Improving the offensive line is also needed to support a better running game which right now is in question with no proven feature back. Tony Pollard, last year’s starter, signed with Tennessee in free agency leaving the Cowboys in search of an every down back. Rico Dowdle will battle with six-year veteran free agent signee Royce Freeman for position on the depth chart. Malik Davis, Deuce Vaughn, and Hunter Luepke are the other backs on the roster.
The special teams unit is one of the better ones in the league with kicker Brandon Aubrey, punt returner Kavontae Turpin, and punter Bryan Anger all receiving pro bowl selections. Trent Sieg is the team’s long snapper.

Dak Prescott had a career year in 2023 and is looking for more in 2024.

Prescott is playing for his future in 2024 whether it is in Dallas or elsewhere. Backing him up are Cooper Rush and Trey Lance who the Cowboys aquired prior to the start of last season. The receivers are one of the team’s strengths with all-pro Lamb and Brandin Cooks the established wide receivers along with Jake Ferguson who blossomed last year at tight end in his second year. However the team released Michael Gallup who never returned to his form after suffering a torn ACL near the end of the 2021 regular season.

With many positions of need, Dallas Vice-President of Player Personnel Will McClay and the team’s scouts have been busy evaluating players in preparation for the draft. Entering the draft, the Cowboys have a total of seven draft picks starting with the 24th pick in the first round. They have one pick each in the second (No. 56th overall), third (87th), fifth (174th), and sixth rounds (216th). Their final two picks are in the seventh round with the 233rd and 244th overall selections. The team has no pick in the fourth round.

If Dallas is to reach its’ first NFC Championship game in 29 years this next season, they need to be a more efficeint team on offense and a more physical team on defense to prevent teams from gashing them with chunk running plays. Both areas are important in order for the Cowboys to rise over the likes of San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Green Bay and maintain control of their division in the NFC East where their traditional rivals like Washington and the New York Giants loom and are always pesky. Gaining impact players in the trenches also bodes well for competing with teams in a much deeper AFC where Dallas will play the likes of Baltimore, Cinncinnati, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland this coming season. The Cowboys will also play one additional team from the AFC which will be known when the schedule is released next month.

Georgia’s Amarius Mims could help the Cowboys offset the loss of Tyron Smith at offensive tackle.

This is a deep draft for offensive tackles. While some will go in the top 15 to 20 picks, a bunch of them figure to still be on the board when Dallas picks 24th in the first round. They include Tyler Guyton from Oklahoma, Jordan Morgan from Arizona, Georgia’s Amarius Mims, Washington’s Troy Fautanu, and JT Latham from Alabama. Guyton is 6-8 and 322 pounds. He earned all-Big 12 Honoarble Mention recognition last year when he played in 10 games with nine starts at right tackle for the Sooners. Mims is 6-8 and tips the scales at 340 pounds. He emerged in 2022 for the Bulldogs when he played in 14 of 15 games while making starts in both the college football playoff semifinals and championship game helping Georgia repeat as national champions. Mims made six starts at right tackle in 2023 when he was part of a Bulldog line that ranked first in the the Southeastern Conference and seventh nationally in sacks allowed per-game (0.93). Morgan started all 12 games for Arizona a year ago during which he allowed only two sacks in 787 snaps over 12 games. Morgan was named first team all Pac-12 and played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, the premier college football all-star game. He was also named a second team all-American by both CBS Sports and 247 Sports. Latham has a huge frame at 6-6 and 360 pounds and garnered numerous accolades a season ago including second team all-American honors by the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Foundation. Latham was also an all-SEC first team selection by the AP and conference coaches in 2023 when he started all 13 games at right tackle and had 41 knockdown blocks across 813 snaps as a junior. Latham also garnered second team all-American honors by the AP, FWAA, TSN, and the Walter Camp Foundation.

Guard Jackson Powers-Johnson won the Rimington Award at Oregon last season.

Should the Cowboys strengthen the interior of its’ offensive line, look no further than Jackson Powers-Johnson of Oregon, perhaps the top interior offensive lineman available in the draft. Powers-Johnson became the first Duck and the first Pac-12 player ever to win the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center. He was the fifth unanimous all-American in program history receiving first team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, AP, FWAA, TSN, and the Walter Camp Foundation. He started all 13 games a season ago during which he allowed just one pressure and no sacks in 471 pass blocking opportunities. Powers-Johnson was part of an offensive line in 2023 that led the nation with just five sacks allowed for the second year in a row. Powers-Johnson lead all FBS centers in overall (84.3) and run blocking (85.2) grade by Pro Football Focus while ranking second in pass blocking grade (90.6).

Other top interior lineman that could be available between the late first round and into the third round include Duke’s Graham Barton, West Virginia’s Zach Frazier, Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe, and Wisconsin’s Tanner Bortolini. Barton lettered four years at Duke and stands 6-5 while checking in at 314 pounds. A two-time first team all-ACC selection, Barton played in 40 career games, 39 of them starts. Intelligence is a strength of Barton as he was a second team College Sports Communicators Academic all-America selection and is a three-time Academic all-ACC team member. Barton has also received the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award twice and was named a second team all-American by the AFCA in 2023.

Cooper Beebe was an all-American guard at Kansas State in 2023 and is powerful.

Beebe is built like a fire hydrant at 6-4 and 335 pounds. That kind of size and power can help Dallas run better between the tackles lending to better balance on offense. Beebe garnered first team all-American honors from numerous outlets last season including the AFCA, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, The Athletic, ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and the Walter Camp Foundation. He was also named first team all-Big 12 by both the AP and the coaches in each of his last three years at Kansas State. Crafty and intelligent, Beebe was named to the Big 12 all-Academic first team each of his four seasons in college. He was also the recipient of Academic all-District Team honors from CSC as both a junior and senior and was named an Academic all-American by CSC in 2023.

Frazier is another prospect that could help the Cowboys at center. He has good size at 6-3 and 310 pounds. Frazier allowed only one sack over the last two years and four over his college career. Frazier is a two-time all-American and a three-time all-Big 12 selection receiving first team honors in 2022 and ’23. Frazier is recognized for his intelligence as he is a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete, a three-time Academic all-Big 12 first team honoree, and a first team Academic all-American selection by CSC.

Bortolini comes from a great program for offensive lineman at Wisconsin where Dallas found the since departed Biadasz. Bortolini has the smarts to make all the line reads at center where he made 12 starts a year ago as a redshirt junior. He is a three-time Academic all-Big Ten team honoree and has the versatility to play guard. In 2023, Bortolini allowed only one sack over 477 pressure opportunities and he was part of a Badger offensive line that led the Big Ten in third down conversion rate at 44.2 percent.

Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat is 366 pounds and won the Outland Trophy in 2023.

Should the Cowboys go defense with their top pick they will likely be seeking a defensive tackle or linebacker to help strengthen the middle of their front seven. Perhaps Kris Kenkins from Michigan or Braden Fiske from Florida State, both defensive tackles. If they want to go even bigger they could look to 366-pound defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat from Texas who really moves people. However due to a recent legal matter their is controversy surrounding the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Sweat was arrested on April 7 on suspicion of driving while intoxicated according to the Travis County Sheriff’s office in Texas. So Dallas needs to decide if this action is just a one-time mistake or a sign of a bigger problem with Sweat’s off the field behavior. Sweat won the Outland Trophy as the nations top interior lineman a year ago and was a unanimous all-American. He recorded 45 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, and 1 blocked kick.

Keep an eye on Michael Hall Jr. from Ohio State, DeWayne Carter from Duke, or Mekhi Wingo from LSU on the defensive line. A sleeper pick on the line is Jalyx Hunt from Houston Christian University who also played at Ivy League school Cornell. Byron Murphy II is also a possibility from Texas at the defensive tackle spot.

If the Cowboys want another edge rusher to team with Parsons as well as help at linebacker they could look to Darius Robinson of Missouri, Dallas Turner of Alabama, Laiatu Latu of UCLA, Xavier Thomas of Clemson, Marshawn Kneeland from Western Michigan, or Bralen Trice from Washington. Turner, Latu, and Robinson are forecasted to go in the first round before Dallas picks at No. 24. Thus, the Cowboys might have to move up via a trade to get one of those players. Junior Colson of Michigan is another top prospect as a traditional linebacker that could help solidify the middle of the Dallas defense.

As for the offense, it is hard to say what the Cowboys have at running back because it is unproven with one new face in Freeman. Dallas will enter the 2024 season with none of its backs having been in the league more than six years and not one of them having reached 1,800 yards rushing in their career. The Cowboys were 14th in the league in rushing yards last year with 1,920. Meanwhile, Prescott completed 410 passes with 36 touchdown passes in 2023, both of which lead the NFL. That could reveal why Dallas is not an elite team in the league. More efficient play is needed on offense and they have to balance it out with better play from their running backs and tight ends. While Prescott has proven he can throw the ball to Lamb, Cooks, and Ferguson, more production is needed from the backs and tight ends. Part of this is a reliable running game and part of it is using the backs in the receiving game with short outlet passes. First and second down offense has to be more productive so you can avoid third down altogether or have only one or two yards to pick up on third down. A strong and shifty back with speed is needed to lend balance to the offense and keep the defense guessing. At times in recent years, the Cowboys have been one dimensional with only its’ passing game to rely on. This has left them mostly predictable.

Florida State’s Trey Benson breaks free from defenders.

A running back like Jonathon Brooks from Texas or Trey Benson from Florida State would fit nicely in Dallas and give them some young legs and juice. Blake Corum from Michigan or Braelon Allen from Wisconsin could lend help as physical runners from the ground and pound nature of the Big 10. Other backs include Marshawn Lloyd of USC and Isaiah Davis of South Dakota State. It is not a prime draft for running backs and it is likely that a running back might not be chosen until the middle of the second round. So teams could find a value pick or sleeper at this position in the later rounds.

Value or gems in the later rounds could also be found at wide receiver. While Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. is the top rated non-quarterback prospect and will be long gone in the first four to seven picks, there are others to be had in the later rounds. Florida State’s Keon Coleman, North Carolina’s Devontez Walker, and Oregon’s Troy Franklin are options in the later rounds along with Xavier Worthy from Texas, Xavier Legette from South Carolina, Ricky Pearsall from Florida, Roman Wilson from Michigan, and Jermaine Burton from Alabama.

Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy dazzled NFL coaches and scouts with a time of 4.21 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February setting a record time at the event.

Worthy set an NFL Combine record in February when he ran a 4.21 in the 40-yard dash, surpassing the old record set at the 2017 Combine by John Ross by one tenth of a second. Worthy stands 5-11 and weighs 165 and is projected to go between the late first round and second round. Although he dealt with inconsistent quarterback play at Texas, Worthy burst onto the scene in 2021 with 62 catches for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns. He followed that up with 60 receptions for 760 yards and nine scores in 2022. In 2023, Worthy made 75 catches for 1,014 yards and five touchdowns. While not very big, he is fast, explosive, and very dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Of course you never know what the Cowboys are going to do on draft day. Dallas once built championship teams with a blockbuster trade way back in 1989 by sending Herschel Walker to Minnesota in exchange for players and draft capital over a three-year stretch. They have traded down to acquire more picks for immense value and they have stood still and added impact players that have become the core of their teams over the last decade plus. What the Cowboys do in the coming days will be vital to the success they have in 2024 and beyond. The Super Bowl is about 10 months away but Dallas seeks perhaps its’ missing players this week to return to championship glory.

Turning the Tide: How to Improve Your Fishing Performance

Posted on April 22, 2024 by Dixie Somers

Fishing has been a human pastime for generations upon generations, and it isn’t hard to see why! Fishing offers a unique and fulfilling experience that allows us to reconnect with nature, challenge ourselves physically and mentally, and create lasting memories. But like any skill or hobby, it takes practice and knowledge to continuously improve your fishing success. Ready to reel in a great catch? Let’s get started!

Understanding the Basics

Before we dive into advanced techniques, we need to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of fishing. This includes knowing how to properly set up your equipment, understanding different types of lures and baits, and being familiar with basic fishing knots. Taking the time to learn these basics will not only make you a more efficient angler, but it will also help prevent any accidents or mishaps on the water.

Knowing Your Target Species

Different species of fish have unique behaviors, habitats, and preferences when it comes to feeding. Understanding these factors is crucial in determining the best techniques and locations to target your desired catch. Researching your target species beforehand can greatly improve your chances of success on the water.

Some common fish species that anglers often target include bass, trout, salmon, catfish, and walleye. Each of these species has its own unique characteristics and behaviors, so to get any kind of success you need to familiarize yourself with them before hitting the water. For example, bass are known for being aggressive predators that prefer lures over live bait, while catfish are bottom-feeders that are attracted to strong-smelling baits. Knowing these differences can help you choose the right approach and increase your chances of a successful catch.

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How Smartphones Have Changed the Gaming Industry

Posted on April 10, 2024 by Mia Natalia

You can’t deny that smartphones are a definitely a big part of our lives. They do everything from navigation to entertainment, anything you can name, really. Among the many tasks they perform,  one area that particularly stands out from the other is gaming.

Because of these wondrous little things, gaming has never been better and more accessible, for that matter. Due to their strong CPUs and high-definition screens, gaming experiences are now comparable to those on traditional platforms and are practically at our fingers. That said, here some of the effects that cell phones have made in the gaming industry

Accessibility and Convenience

One of the major benefits of mobile gaming applications is their accessibility. Unlike conventional gaming platforms such as consoles or PCs, which need some heavy and specific gear that sometimes (most of the time, really) come with a high price tag, mobile games can be played on devices that most people already own: smartphones. They also come in cheaper versions so anyone can buy them!

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50 Years Ago: Hank Aaron Becomes Baseball’s Home Run King

Posted on April 08, 2024 by Dean Hybl

It was 36 years ago this week that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

It was 40 years ago that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

Given how much emphasis sports put on championships, it may seem a little strange that the most significant home run in Major League Baseball history was not hit during the month of October, but instead was struck in early April by an aging player on a team that wouldn’t come close to reaching the postseason.

Such was the case 50 years ago, on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron forever cemented a place for himself in baseball lore with his record breaking 715th home run.

Every die-hard sports fan has a number of moments that are forever etched in their subconscious memory – to the point that even years after the fact they can recall not just the special moment, but also where they were and what they were doing at the time.

Though I was only six-years old, the night when Aaron set the home run record is one of those moments for me.

My family was paying special attention to the record because we had family friends who were from Atlanta and thus big fans of Aaron and the Braves. “Hammerin’ Hank” had tied the record during the season opener in Cincinnati and there seemed to be little doubt that he was going to set the record during the home opener, which was being shown on national television by ABC. However, for a while there was some doubt whether we would be able to see it.

It was a stormy Monday night in my hometown of Keysville, Virginia, thanks to a powerful early spring thunderstorm that brought lightning, thunder and heavy rains. There was no such thing as cable television in our town in 1974 and because we were about 75 miles from the closest television station, even with having an antenna on the roof we never really had crystal clear reception. The general practice at that time was also to unplug the television during electrical storms so that the TV wouldn’t get zapped. Read the rest of this entry →

Tips for First-Time Buyers: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Rifle Online

Posted on March 31, 2024 by Dixie Somers

For first-time buyers looking to purchase a rifle online, the process may seem overwhelming and intimidating. However, with the right knowledge and preparation, buying a rifle online can be a straightforward and rewarding experience. This guide offers essential tips and considerations for first-time buyers to remember before making a purchase. Whether you’re a seasoned gun owner or new to the world of firearms, these tips will help you navigate the online marketplace with confidence.

Research Different Types of Rifles

Before diving into the world of online rifle shopping, it’s crucial to research and understand the different types of available rifles for sale online. Rifles come in various calibers, styles, and functions, each suited for different purposes such as hunting, target shooting, or personal defense. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of popular rifle models to determine which type best suits your needs and preferences.

Verify the Legality of Purchasing a Rifle Online in Your State

One of the most critical considerations when buying a rifle online is ensuring that the purchase is legal in your state. Gun laws vary significantly from state to state, with regulations on background checks, waiting periods, and firearm restrictions. Before making a purchase, research your state’s gun laws and ensure that you comply with all legal requirements to avoid any legal issues down the line.

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Syracuse Seeks Victories as ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Takes Place in Nations Capital This Week

Posted on March 12, 2024 by Chris Kent
Capital One Arena in Washington, DC is the host site for the 2024 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament this week.

The regular season is over and now it is time to win or go home as Championship Week in college basketball is here. Syracuse heads to the 2024 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament this week in Washington, DC with work to do to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. How the Orange fare in the ACC Tournament combined with what happens around the country in all the postseason conference tournaments this week will impact whether or not Syracuse gets an NCAA bid.

The Orange are trending in the right direction as they have been playing their best basketball of the season over the last month. Syracuse went 5-2 in its’ last seven regular season games. Included was an 86-79 home win over then No. 7 ranked North Carolina on Feb. 13 and a quality 87-83 road win at North Carolina State a week later on Feb. 20. The win over North Carolina started the seven-game closing surge and marked the first time the Orange beat a top-10 team since a 95-91 overtime win at No. 1 Duke on Jan, 14, 2019. Although a loss at Georgia Tech followed, Syracuse won its’ next four games to have a shot at getting a double bye in this week’s conference tournament. However the Orange fell out of that scenario and ultimately earned the seventh seed and a first-round bye in this week’s tournament. Syracuse will play on Wed. March 13 at 7 pm in the second round against the winner of Tuesday’s opening round game between 10-seed North Carolina State and 15-seed Louisville. Should the Orange win its’ second round game they would advance to play Duke, the No, 2 seed, in the quarterfinals on Thursday March 14 at 7 pm.

Syracuse head coach Adrian Autry succeeded the legendary Jim Boeheim and has guided the Orange to a 20-win season in this his first season as head coach.

In a year of transition for the Orange program following the retirement of hall-of-fame head coach Jim Boeheim, who spent 47 years at the helm, first-year head coach Adrian Autry has stepped in nicely as Boeheim’s successor. Autry has guided Syracuse to its’ first 20-win season since the 2018-19 season when it finished 20-14 overall and 10-8 in the ACC. Following the legendary Boeheim, who he played for and worked for both as assistant coach and associate head coach, Autry has done a commendable job this year in taking over the program. Autry has lead the Orange to a 20-11 mark thus far and finished with a winning record in the competitive ACC at 11-9. Two wins this season over a good and rugged Pittsburgh team, the No. 4 seed in this week’s ACC Tournament, the road one being a quad one win, help Syracuse’s chances for making the NCAA field. The NCAA selections will be announced this coming Sunday, March 17 on CBS.

The Orange will be out to surprise and make some history this week by making a run toward the ACC Tournament Championship game, something they have never appeared in. The furthest Syracuse has ever gone in the ACC Tournament is the quarterfinals where they are 0-4 (not counting 2020 when they advanced to the quarterfinals to play Louisville only to have that game and the rest of the ACC tournament be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The Orange have never played more than two games in an ACC Tournament and they have an all-time record of 5-8 in the event. Syracuse is in its’ 11th season as an ACC member having officially joined the conference in the summer of 2013.

Guard Judah Mintz excels at driving to the basket to score and finding open teammates.

Lead by a group of six productive sophomores, the Orange are a young team. Sophomore guard Judah Mintz was just named to the All-ACC Second Team and leads Syracuse in scoring and assists with 18.7 points per game and 4.5 assists per game. His 4.5 apg and 2.10 steals per game were both third best in the ACC this season. Maliq Brown, another sophomore, became the first center in ACC history to lead the conference in steals per game at 2.23 en route to being named to the All-ACC Defensive Team. Brown shoots a team-best 69.3 percent from the field, mostly on the interior. Brown was inserted into the starting lineup in early January after 7-4 center Naheem McLeod – a transfer from Florida State – was lost for the season due to an injury. Brown has picked up the slack left by McLeod in the middle as he is scoring 9.5 ppg and leads the Orange with 7.0 rebounds per game.

Syracuse gets most of its’ outside shooting and scoring from sophomores Chris Bell, J.J. Starling, and Justin Taylor. Bell is the best and most reliable 3-point shooter on the team as he converts at a team-best 41.5 percent clip from behind the arc. Bell made eight 3-pointers in a win at North Carolina State this season, one short of tying the single-game school record. Starling and Taylor are also threats from beyond the arc along with Mintz.
Bell, Starling, and Taylor have been mainstays with each starting all 31 games this season. Bell scores 12.0 ppg and has made a team best 81 3-pointers on the season. Starling counters with 13.5 ppg while Taylor scores 5.1 ppg. Starling shoots 46.0 percent from the field and his ability to penetrate and find teammates helps in the halfcourt. Taylor shoots 35.7 percent from the field and has made 25 3-pointers this season.

Quadir Copeland brings versatility and athleticism off the bench for the Orange and scores in a variety of ways.

The Orange are at their best when they are able to run, score in transition, and create steals to generate scoring opportunities. Mintz is the catalyst for that style of play as he can get to the rim and create scoring opportunities for others. While Syracuse can execute in the half court, they can go stale in that mode if their shots are not falling and they don’t get rebounds. Helping to combat that is the play of Quadir Copeland, another sophomore and a key reserve. Copeland brings energy and creativity with his passing and athletic ability. After playing in 20 games as a freshman, he has played in all 31 games this season and been a big contributor. As a freshman, Copeland averaged 2.1 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 0.5 apg., and 0.5 steals per game while playing in 20 games during which he shot 34.1 percent from the field. Copeland has improved upon all those averages this season while playing in all 31 games to date. He has per game averages of 9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 steals. In addition, Copeland is shooting 48.1 percent from the field, a big improvement from a year ago which has given balance to the Orange offense. Copeland’s play came to the forefront this season on Jan. 20 when he drained a 3-pointer as time expired lifting Syracuse to a 72-69 home win over Miami.

More clutch play like that might be needed by Copeland and the Orange this week if they are to have a long stay in the ACC Tournament. A recent projection by NCAA bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Syracuse listed as a team that was being considered for an NCAA bid. The strength of the Orange resume is highlighted by their two wins each over Pittsburgh and North Carolina State along with the big win over North Carolina. Syracuse also has a neutral site win over Oregon. However the Orange missed opportunities for strengthening their resume with losses to both Tennessee and Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational back in November. Tennessee was ranked No. 7 and Gonzaga No. 11 in the AP poll at the time of those games. If Syracuse is to move onto solid ground, it will have to land some wins this week and hope that the results of other teams they are competing with for NCAA spots work to their advantage. The game results of the Orange and those of many other teams across the country this week will have much to do in determining the fate of Syracuse.

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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