Erickson: Schultz top candidate for Hobey Baker

first_imgWhen considering college athletics, Wisconsin isn’t by any means immediately mentioned.But consider for a moment exactly what Wisconsin athletes have accomplished in the last several years:Football won the Big Ten title two years in a row, earned a Rose Bowl berth each year and produced two top-10 Heisman vote-getters in 2011 .Women’s hockey won its fourth national championship in six years in the 2010-11 season, when it fielded a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, Meghan Duggan, and has continued that success into this year – currently sitting atop the WCHA and boasting a No. 1 national ranking.The men’s cross country team won its 13th straight Big Ten title on the road to yet another national title.Two years ago, men’s hockey went on a hot streak all the way to the national championship game, only to fall to Boston College, but also provided Wisconsin with its first-ever Hobey Baker Award winner in Blake Geoffrion.And now – to only add to Wisconsin’s apparently secret athletic success as illustrated by these few examples – Wisconsin has a strong shot at claiming another Hobey Baker. His name is Justin Schultz.Last year, as a sophomore, the junior defenseman was a finalist for college hockey’s most prestigious award.Throughout the 2010-11 season, the West Kelowna, British Columbia, native carried UW’s offense with 18 goals and 29 assists. His 47 points led all blue-liners in the nation and placed him among the nation’s top 20 points leaders, sitting in a comfortable tie at No. 17.Well if it was impressive then, Schultz must be shocking the pants off of the hockey world this season, as he already has 37 points – No. 5 nationally – on 12 goals and 25 assists. The junior is the Badgers’ No.2 offensive power, one point behind Mark Zengerle – who could certainly be putting together his own Hobey Baker worthy season.While Zengerle leads the Badgers with 38 points Schultz has scored two more goals on the season – despite Zengerle’s 20-game point streak, second in UW history behind head coach Mike Eaves’ 21-game streak which he set in the 1977-78 season.Back to Schultz.As everyone was away on winter break, Schultz and the rest of the Badgers had to get back to the grind early as usual. In Wisconsin’s first game of what will be a season-defining second half, Schultz made an admirable case for his candidacy.Five minutes and 50 seconds into the first period, Schultz got tangled up in the slot only to take a shot from his knees and send the puck past the Rochester Institute of Technology netminder, putting the Badgers up 1-0.And he wasn’t done yet.The junior defenseman went on to score a power play goal 13 and a half minutes into the second and notched two assists on two other power play goals in the second.His first assist of the night – on a Michael Mersch goal – barely went off the sophomore forward, and as a result, many initially credited it to Schultz. As he had a fleeting hat trick, his performance still reminded everyone else exactly what he’s capable of.Even before the RIT game, before the season even began, Schultz was a player people couldn’t stop talking about.Coaches from around the league, more often than not, mention needing to keep an eye on “No. 6” and how his name jumps off the page when it comes to scouting reports.Speaking with the team throughout the season, his own teammates will bring him up without being prompted. He’s not part of the question, but he’s part of the answer.Two years ago, Geoffrion provided Wisconsin with its first Hobey Baker – given UW’s stock of historical skaters, it’s quite shocking to even comprehend that point – but he did so with 28 goals and 22 assists for 50 points and an unwavering enforcer mentality.While Schultz certainly isn’t Wisconsin’s enforcer, he’s a silent leader that is the current foundation of Wisconsin hockey.There are four simple criteria for the Hobey Baker Award: strength of character, outstanding skills, sportsmanship and scholastic achievement, along with compliance with the NCAA rules.Even though we’re only barely over halfway through the season, Schultz fulfills every single requirement.The junior, while not an extrovert, is someone all his teammates look up to, and while I cannot speak specifically to his academics, he’s certainly a student-athlete that respects other players, from his own teammates to opposing teams – even the fiercest of his rivals around the WCHA.He’s simply one hell of player that you can’t help but enjoy watching.Kelly is a junior majoring in journalism. Think it’s high time Schultz was named among hockey’s elite? Let her know at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @kellymerickson.last_img read more

T-Time: Los Angeles Rams not built to last

first_imgThis off-season, the Los Angeles Rams have garnered more headlines and attention than any other team in the NFL.They added defensive tackle Ndamukung Suh and cornerbacks Aquib Talib and Marcus Peters to an already talented defense in blockbuster moves. On the other side of the football, the Rams bolstered the league’s highest scoring offense with yet another weapon for burgeoning quarterback Jared Goff. They traded for explosive wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who is coming off a 1,000 yard season with the Patriots. The Rams will undoubtedly make some noise in 2018. Each of their competitors in the NFC West — consisting of Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona — is going through upheaval of some sort (the 49ers, led by prodigy quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, are still likely one or two years away from the playoffs). In theory, this is the perfect year for the Rams to join the league’s elite and improve upon their surprising 11-5 season in 2017. But the Rams are not necessarily built for the long haul. Cooks is in the final year of his rookie deal (hints why New England had no problem flipping him for a first-rounder). Similarly, Peters will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020, while Suh signed on for just one year. On top of that, the Rams have yet to come to terms with a new deal for defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the team’s most dominant player. Once his rookie deal ends after this season, Donald could become the league’s highest paid defensive player, whether that contract comes in Los Angeles or elsewhere. With myriad young stars at the end of their cheap rookie contracts, the Rams won’t be able to pay everyone for the long haul. Tough decisions over Cooks, Peters, Suh and Donald are on the horizon, and the situation wasn’t improved by the team’s lack of a first or second round pick in this year’s draft. Head coach Sean McVay and Co. likely have a one or two year window to win big, or risk crashing and burning. By the time their new $4 billion, 300 acre stadium opens up in 2020, the Rams may not have the star power to match the impressive venue. In contrast, the Rams’ future roommates and cross town rivals, the Chargers, have not created much buzz this offseason. Coming off an ill-advised and overly combative “Fight for LA” campaign during the 2017 season, the Chargers embarrassingly struggled to sell out the 27,000 seat StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. in 2017. It was never going to be an easy debut season in Los Angeles for the Chargers. They alienated their only real fan base when they left San Diego in 2017, and the team lacks the Rams’ historical ties to the area (even though the Chargers’ first season in franchise history was played at the Coliseum). The Chargers’ move to L.A. was hard to see as anything more than a money grab for the Spanos family, which has owned (and barely operated) the franchise since 1984. Bad PR aside, the Chargers have at least built their roster for the long haul. The team’s core of running back Melvin Gordon and defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are still in the hearts of their current deals. Unlike the Rams, who weren’t able to add meaningful young talent in the draft, the Chargers took safety Derwin James at 17th overall, which was widely considered the steal of the first round (James was projected to go in the top ten by numerous outlets). They also added former USC outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu in the second round, who ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. called “the best player on the board” at that point. “This Super Bowl we’re going to win,” Ingram told reporters on Monday, according to ESPN. “We haven’t been to the playoffs in a while. I think it’s going to be crazy, this Super Bowl we’re going to win is going to be crazy.” It’s difficult to see the Chargers reaching those heights in 2018, given their young roster and murderer’s row of a division (the AFC West includes the Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, who all look like playoff contenders). But the next five years look bright for Ingram and his team. The defense has quietly reached elite status with its stiff secondary (they gave up just 197 passing yards per game) and menacing pass rush, which created the fifth-most sacks in the NFL last year. Meanwhile, 36-year-old quarterback Philip Rivers appears to be only getting more prolific with age, throwing for 4,515 yards in 2017 with just 10 interceptions. The Rams have taken over the spotlight for now, but there could be a new leading team in Los Angeles sooner rather than later. One is built to win; the other is built to last. Trevor Denton is a junior majoring in journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “T-Time,” runs every other week.last_img read more

‘You’re Very Disrespectful’ – Pochettino Blasts Guardiola

first_imgTottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has labelled the comments from his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola as “very disrespectful” and “sad”.Pochettino was speaking in response to Guardiola’s comment which described Tottenham as the “Harry Kane team” when he was talking about his side’s title rivals.During his pre-match press conference ahead of his team’s weekend league clash with Bournemouth at the Wembley Stadium, Pochettino said: “[Guardiola] was part of the big success at Barcelona and I never said it was ‘the Lionel Messi team,’”While speaking earlier this month about the English Premier League (EPL) title Guardiola described Chelsea and Manchester United as his side’s rivals to win the league earlier this month, before adding: “We saw again the Harry Kane team scores every day two or three goals.”Speaking further on the matter, the Pochettino said:“It doesn’t affect me but in the reality it was very disrespectful for many people.”“Everyone deserves to be recognised. When many people took the words, it was very sad and for many players that are here it is strange but, in my case, I didn’t take it in a bad way.“It wasn’t disrespectful to myself. For a lot of people it was unnecessary. But we need to move on.” he concluded. Relatedlast_img read more

LeBron James to miss Lakers’ game Thursday with sore groin

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — This season’s tilts with the Golden State Warriors have lacked their normal star power, owing to long-term injuries to All-Star guards Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.When the Lakers tip-off against the Warriors on Thursday night in San Francisco, they too will sit a star: LeBron James.The team announced Wednesday afternoon that James, 35, would sit out against Golden State with left groin soreness. It’s just the third game the league’s assists leader and MVP contender (25.5 ppg, 10.6 apg, 7.7 rpg) has missed this season.The news comes the day after a season-high 40 point effort by James, who was a ruthlessly efficient 17 for 27 from the field in Tuesday’s 118-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. He showed a full complement of offensive skills, from 3-point shooting (5 for 11) to highlight-reel dunks. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe Lakers announced James’ absence after Wednesday’s media availability at practice, so the team could not be asked questions about it. But the Lakers’ priority to be “healthy and fresh” entering the postseason will likely be an increasing part of the equation when it comes to making such decisions.“We’ll manage the last few months of the season to make sure those goals are met,” Coach Frank Vogel said earlier this month. “That is the priority: building the habits as strongly as possible throughout the regular season and have them win for you in the playoffs, and be as healthy and as fresh as you can be.”As of Wednesday morning, the Lakers (44-12) had a five-game lead over the Western Conference field for the No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, the Warriors are languishing in the bottom of the standings at 12-46.The Lakers are 1-1 in games without James. He has missed time with groin soreness before, including a Dec. 22 loss at home to Denver. Last Christmas, James tore his left groin in a game against the Warriors, which was the first major injury of his career. He missed more than a month with the injury, which scuttled both his and the team’s season.Anthony Davis was listed as probable with left elbow soreness, which he suffered Tuesday night on a dunk attempt. The All-Star big man said he felt good after the game. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed “Fun” might be a unique word to use for a team most of the league still considers a sleeping giant. That’s certainly how Vogel sees it: Once the core of the dynasty is healthy again, he expects them to zoom back toward the top of the standings.In the meantime, there’s been less of a feeling that every other contender is trying to measure up to one superteam. Even though the Milwaukee Bucks have been ahead of the pack in terms of record and several key statistical figures, the general feeling has been that a championship is essentially up for grabs among the league’s elite.“It’s definitely felt like a more open race, rather than chasing the top dog like it’s felt like the last five years, but I don’t know if that really changes each team’s approach all that much,” Vogel said. “You’re still trying to win as many games as you can. But it definitely has felt more like an open race.”center_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years LAKERS EXPECT WARRIORS TO BOUNCE BACKFacing a Golden State team with a losing record is still an eerie feeling.With Thompson sidelined for the year, Curry not expected to return until after Thursday’s game, and Draymond Green missing large swaths of the season, the dynasty is in hibernation. After years of chasing the Warriors, Davis said, seeing them with the worst record in the league is a bizarre reality for the rest of the NBA.“The past five, six years that’s what you think about when you go to Golden State, you key in on those guys and for this entire year them guys haven’t been on the floor,” he said of a franchise that reached five consecutive NBA Finals and won three titles. “The league misses it, I know that the team misses it. It’s not seeing him around All-Star weekend, little things like that. But it’s gonna be fun to have him back.”Related Articleslast_img read more