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Remembering Sports Greats We Lost in 2016 2

Posted on December 31, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Muhammad Ali won the Heavyweight Boxing Championship three times during his career.

Muhammad Ali won the Heavyweight Boxing Championship three times during his career.

While it is inevitable that every year we say goodbye to some of those who shaped sports history, it seems like 2016 included more than the normal share of all-time sports legends. Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer were not just sports legends, they were national icons whose celebrity transcended sports. At their peak, Pat Summitt and Gordie Howe were synonymous with their respective sports. In addition, the year included the death of several well-known members of the sports media as well as a number of accomplished coaches.

Below is a brief remembrance of some of the sports greats who passed away in 2016:

Muhammad Ali: While it is not difficult to poke holes into Ali’s self-proclaimed moniker as the “Greatest of All-Time”, there is little doubt that during his peak, Ali was one of the most recognized people on the planet. An Olympic boxing champion in 1960, Ali (then known as Cassius Clay), won the Heavyweight title in February 1964 with a sixth-round TKO of champion Sonny Liston. Ali, who was 22-years-old at the time he won the title, maintained the belt until 1967 when it was stripped following his federal conviction for refusing draft induction. It would be more than three years before Ali would return to the boxing ring. During the 1970s, Ali regained the Heavyweight title twice more while participating in some of the most iconic boxing matches of all-time. He fought Joe Frazier three times, winning the last two, and also defeated George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle.” After retiring in 1980, the once polarizing Ali developed into an American icon. His battle with Parkinson’s syndrome over the last two decades saw the charismatic Ali struggle to communicate, but he was often in the public eye.

Ralph Branca: Branca won 88 games and as a three-time All-Star during his 12 year Major League career, but he is best known for giving up the “Shot Heard Round the World” to Bobby Thomson during the 1951 National League Playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. He had only eight career wins before going 21-12 with a 2.67 ERA during the 1947 season. However, what Branca is perhaps best known for during the 1947 season was his willingness to stand next to teammate Jackie Robinson at the beginning of the season when others were reluctant. Branca won 13 or more games three other times during his career.

Dennis Byrd: Byrd’s NFL career was cut short in 1992 when he was paralyzed as a result of an on-field hit. He recovered enough to walk onto the field to start the 1993 season and went on to be a motivational speaker. He died as a result of a car accident in October.
Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Toronto Raptors Inching Closer to Cleveland Cavaliers? 2

Posted on December 24, 2016 by Tony Samboras
DeMar DeRozan is emerging as one of the top scorers in the NBA.

DeMar DeRozan is emerging as one of the top scorers in the NBA.

After finishing the 2015-16 regular season 56-26 and only a game behind the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference title, the Toronto Raptors loss to the Cavaliers in the Conference Finals 4-2. As both teams were exiting the floor, it was clear Toronto may have been but one season away from catching the Champs in both talent and ability.

With a little more than a third of the 2016-17 NBA season already in the books, the Raptors are sitting in a familiar place. With a record of 20-8, they find themselves 1.5 games behind the Cavs for the conference lead with Boston sitting in a distant 3rd with a record of 17-12. Given the parity found in the conference, it looks like the two leaders will battle it out until the end for home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Finals.

To get a better idea of whether or not the Raptors have made enough improvements to catch the Cavs, one would have to look inside the numbers. For starters, the Raptors are playing an up-tempo offense that has led to a scoring increase from 102.7 PPG to 112.3 PPG from last season to this season. This has also led to a spike in the number of points allowed per game from 98.2 to 103.0. Overall, that represents an improved scoring differential of 4.8 PPG versus a positive scoring differential change for the Cavaliers of only 1.8 PPG. The 3.0 PPG difference between the two teams is quite significant at this level of play.

The question becomes, “is this sustainable?” because if it is, it might be relevant enough for the Raptors to catch the Cavs and earn that all-important home court advantage heading into the playoffs. All of this analysis assumes both teams will stay healthy, and the Cavs have already been bit by the injury bug with guard J.R. Smith out with a fractured thumb and forward Kevin Love having knee issues. To date, Toronto has nothing to report.

With essentially the same group of players on the floor, the biggest improvement has come from star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who has ratcheted up his game up another notch, scoring at a rate of 27.9 PPG, up from 23.5 PPG last season. While he has increased the number of shots he has taken per game, he has also improved his shooting percentage from 44.6% to 48.2%. He has also improved his rebounding and steals, which shows he’s more focused on defense. Read the rest of this entry →

DeMarcus Cousins – Wasted Talent in Sacramento? 0

Posted on December 24, 2016 by Tony Samboras
DeMarcus Cousins is getting quite frustrated with the continued losing in Sacramento. How long will it be before a trade is best both for him and the franchise?

DeMarcus Cousins is getting quite frustrated with the continued losing in Sacramento. How long will it be before a trade is best both for him and the franchise?

It’s been a long time between drinks of playoff water for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The last time they made it to the playoffs was in 2005-2006 when they lost in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs to the World Champ San Antonio Spurs in a series that went to 4-2. Since then, they have failed to finish above .500 for 10 consecutive seasons while compiling a dismal record of 277-527 for a winning percentage of  33.78%.

During that time span, the team has had a number of talented players who have come and gone. Over the last six years, power forward DeMarcus Cousins has done all a man can do to turn the franchise around. While certainly culpable for being a general pain in the butt on a team that has had more than its fair share of issues and distractions, the talent this man possesses is far beyond question.

Ever since he came over as the 5th overall pick in the 2010 from the University of Kentucky, he has matched up well against some of the best power forwards in the game. In his first couple of years, his temper and overall demeanor stood in the way of his reaching an elite level of play. With that said, there was no denying the talent was there in a body chiseled from rock.

Over his first three seasons, he averaged right around 17 PPG while proving himself to be quite effective underneath both the offensive and defensive boards. It wasn’t until the start of the 2013-14 season that he started harnessing all that destructive energy into something positive. The result was an invitation to the All-Star game and honorable mention on the All-NBA team after averaging just over 22 PG with 11.7 RPG. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Warriors and Cavaliers on Another Collision Course? 0

Posted on December 17, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

The NBA season is less than two months old, but it already seems clear that we have a pretty good idea of where things are heading.

If you were putting down betting odds, it would be a pretty safe bet that come June, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors will be facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, but anyone who is interested in the top betting websites can click here and enter sportsbettingsitez.co.uk to give the online sports gaming experience a try.

After winning an NBA record 73 games a year ago, the Warriors added one of the top five players in the NBA during the offseason with the addition of Kevin Durant. After losing two of their first six games, the Warriors have lost only two more times and again have the best record in the NBA with a 23-4 mark.

Though they may not finish the season with as many regular season victories as a year ago, the Warriors are arguably a better team than a year ago. Their scoring average is up 2.4 points per contest and they are connecting on 49.4% of their field goals, compared to 48.7% a year ago.

The addition of Durant has given them a third scorer capable of posting big numbers any night. Though he is third on the team in shots attempts, Durant is leading the team in scoring at 25.5 points per contest and is second at 8.4 rebounds per contest.

Though Curry’s overall statistics are down a bit from his MVP numbers from a year ago, he is still averaging 24.9 points and 5.9 assists per contest.

While Klay Thompson’s scoring average is down slightly (from 22.1 to 21.7 ppg), his recent 60 point game is a reminder that he is an elite level scorer.

The Golden State player whose statistical numbers have taken the biggest hit following the addition of Durant is Draymond Green. Still an important player for the Warriors, his scoring has dropped from 14 to 10.8 points per game and he is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game (compared to 9.5 last season).

As was the case a year ago, the true test for the Warriors will come in the postseason. Last year they overcame Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. This year, with Durant now wearing their uniform, it appears the San Antonio Spurs will provide the biggest challenge. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Surprising Facts about the Most Famous Sports Stadiums 0

Posted on October 08, 2016 by Dixie Somers
Fenway Park is the oldest stadium used for Major League Baseball today.

Fenway Park is the oldest stadium used for Major League Baseball today.

Sports stadiums are the modern gladiator arenas. Rabid fans descend upon the booming bowl of seats to watch their favorite athletes perform out on the field. And modern stadiums have great influence over the way we experience the spectacle. Through innovative design, fan interaction concourses and a curated ballpark menu, stadiums have come to be a spectacle unto themselves. And you could learn all about these unique fan experiences with an online athletic administration master’s degree. Get a head start. Here are 5 facts about the most famous stadiums in the world.

1. Fenway Park

Fenway Park is the oldest stadium used in the major leagues. Built in 1912, the park is older than many West Coast states. But many people don’t know the Green Monster wasn’t designed that way. Leftfield used to have a large hill that tapered up to a smaller wall during the dead ball era. It was called Duffy’s cliff, named after the Red Sox leftfielder that roamed the area. When it was removed in 1933, the Green Monster emerged.

2. Roman Colosseum

There are many spectacular facts about planet Earth’s original massive stadium. The side of the Colosseum collapsed during an earthquake in 847, the West exit is known as the Gate of Death for the dead gladiators dragged through it, and the word Colosseum is always capitalized for the famous structure despite the fact that the word translates into “large arena for entertainment.” But the most amazing fact is that the wooden floor of the Colosseum would be removed and the open channels below would be filled with water for mock naval battles. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Increase Your Vertical Jump for Basketball 0

Posted on September 02, 2016 by Scott Huntington

There are many physical attributes that can take your game to the next level. Point guards need to be quick and post players need to be strong, but there’s one trait that benefits players at all positions: jumping ability.

Having a high vertical jump will increase your ability to block shots, grab rebounds, disrupt players inbounding the ball and, most importantly, up your chances of dunking.

If you think your vertical jump is something you’re born into and stuck with, you’re about to hear some good news. There are many workouts you can do to add some inches to that vertical leap.

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Develop a Workout Schedule

You can’t reach a goal that you don’t set, and the best way to track your progression is to set a workout schedule for yourself. You can either develop one yourself, or you can do some research and find a vertical jump program. Read the rest of this entry →

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