THE RUNDOWN: Sports Stories for February 12

FILE PHOTO: ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA

FILE PHOTO: ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA

Men’s Basketball

With the regular season winding down and the Georgetown men’s basketball team’s (14-11, 7-5 Big East) NCAA Tournament hopes gradually fading away with it, each game remaining on its schedule has become more important. Next up for the Hoyas is a trip to Providence, R.I. to face the Providence Friars (18-7, 6-6 Big East), a team that has been struggling ever since coming into Verizon Center two weeks ago and defeating Georgetown by a score of 73-69.

Since that game, the Friars have lost three straight games to DePaul (8-16, 2-10 Big East), No. 1 Villanova (21-3, 11-1 Big East) and Marquette (16-9, 5-7 Big East). As a result, the Friars have gone from ranking No. 10 in the nation to No. 20, behind other Big East teams such as Villanova and No. 5 Xavier (21-3, 9-3 Big East).

Georgetown, coming off a thoroughly dominant 92-67 performance at home against St. John’s (7-18, 0-12 Big East) on Monday, has a chance to bring Providence’s conference record to below .500 with a win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center this Saturday. With its own conference record at 7-5, Georgetown sits in a three-way tie for third place with Seton Hall (17-7, 7-5 Big East) and Creighton (16-9, 7-5 Big East). The Hoyas must win on Saturday to keep pace in the race behind Villanova and Xavier to hold onto third place in the regular season standings — especially with Providence just one game behind Hoyas in the conference standings at 6-6.

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA

Women’s Basketball Feature

The collegiate careers of the four seniors on the Georgetown women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-7 Big East) will come to a close at the conclusion of this season. For each of them, the final time they take the court in a Georgetown uniform will be meaningful, but for two in particular, that moment will be especially significant. For guard/forward Logan Battle and guard Katie McCormick, their final game as Hoyas will also mark the final chapter in a decade-long story.

Battle and McCormick have played basketball together since they were 12 years old. Despite growing up more than 60 miles apart — Battle is from Springfield, Va. and McCormick is from Leonardtown, Md. — each made the choice early on to play for the Fairfax Stars, an elite AAU program based in Fairfax, Va.
From the ages of 12 to 16, Battle and McCormick rose through the Stars organization together and made countless memories along the way. In looking back on their time as AAU teammates, they recall unforgettable wins on the court — and shenanigans off the court — with seemingly equal levels of nostalgia.

“We won a big tournament in Chicago during our final year of AAU, which was amazing. But we’ve also ridden in shopping carts in parking lots,” Battle said. “We did all kinds of different stuff.”

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA

Women’s Lacrosse

The Georgetown women’s lacrosse team is set to play its season opener at home against the University of Delaware this afternoon. Last season, the Hoyas shared the Big East regular season title with then-No. 1 Florida and finished with a 7-10 record. Georgetown just barely missed qualifying to play in the national post-season tournament after a tough 11-10 loss to the University of Connecticut.

In total, the Hoyas return eight starters from the 2015 season, including senior midfielder Kristen Bandos, senior defender Kassandra Bowling and senior attack Corinne Etchison, who are set to lead their team as tri-captains. Georgetown was picked to finish third in the Big East by the league’s coaches in the 2016 preseason poll, with Bandos and Etchison being selected as a part of the Preseason All-Big East Team.

Bandos was named to the first team last season after leading the Hoyas with 29 goals and playing in all 17 games. Etchison was a Second Team All-Big East honoree after starting in all 17 games and was fourth on her team in scoring with 18 goals and nine assists.

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Holtby Eyeing Awards and Records

Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons

Year after year, left wing Alexander Ovechkin has been the most valuable player on the Washington Capitals. This year, however, as the Capitals sit comfortably in first place in the NHL, they have a new team MVP in goalie Braden Holtby. In his sixth season in the league, Holtby is having a career year and has proven to be one of the elite goaltenders in the league. As of February 9th, Holtby leads all goalies in wins with 34, is 5th in goals against average, and 7th in save percentage and he is gaining recognition.

Holtby played in his first All-Star Game this season. He is also the leading candidate for this season’s Vezina Trophy, which is rewarded to the best goalie in the league. Not only is Holtby building his case for a Vezina Trophy, but he also has a shot at winning the Hart Trophy, rewarded to the league’s most valuable player. Only four players have won both the Vezina and Hart Trophy in the same season, the most recent being last year as Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price took home both honors.

Most impressively of all, Holtby has an opportunity of breaking a record held by an all time great. In 2007, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur set the record for wins in a single season at 48. In that same season, Brodeur won both the Hart and Vezina Trophy. But with the way Holtby has been playing this season, this record is in reach. Through the first 40 games of the season, Holtby has 31 wins compared to Brodeur only having 25 in at this point in his record setting season. Brodeur and Holtby are at the same goals against average of 2.07, and Holtby’s save percentage is 0.01% better through 40 games.

With 30 games left in the regular season, Holtby needs only 15 more wins to break Brodeur’s mark. If Holtby’s dominant play continues, he will go down in history as having one of the greatest goalkeeping seasons ever. And if he remains healthy, he makes the Washington Capitals a serious threat in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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THE RUNDOWN: Sports Stories for February 9

KARLA LEYJA/THE HOYA

KARLA LEYJA/THE HOYA

Women’s Basketball

The Georgetown women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-7 Big East) came back from a 17-point deficit to beat Marquette (11-13, 6-7 Big East) Friday night before falling to DePaul (19-7, 11-2 Big East) Sunday afternoon.

Both Georgetown and Marquette entered Friday’s matchup with momentum. The Golden Eagles came into the contest on a five-game winning streak, while the Hoyas had won three games straight.

Three ties and four lead changes in the first five minutes of play appeared to indicate that a closely matched contest was ahead. However, a layup with 5:03 left in the first quarter ignited a 9-0 run for Marquette. The Golden Eagles remained in control and held a 28-19 lead at the end of the first period.

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA

Men’s Basketball Commentary

For much of this season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-11, 6-5 Big East) has attributed its inconsistencies to its defensive shortcomings. While that has held true most of the time, this team has once again failed offensively, losing 69-61 to the Seton Hall Pirates (17-6, 7-4 Big East) Saturday night when the Hoyas shot an inefficient 34 percent from the field.

Not only does the team still repeatedly take contested threes, it also settles for contested long two-point jumpers, the most inefficient shot in basketball in terms of the ratio of distance to points produced. Georgetown shot 20 two-point jumpers, 20 three-pointers and just 16 shots at the rim against Seton Hall on Saturday. For a team that boasts two true big men in senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes and freshman center Jessie Govan, this is an underuse of the team’s strengths.

Even the Hoyas’ two best slashers, sophomore guard L.J. Peak and sophomore forward Isaac Copeland — who have combined to shoot 63 percent at the rim this season — shot a combined 15 jump shots against the Pirates. While they made six of their 10 attempted three-pointers, en route to a combined 35 points, the Hoyas’ offense is decidedly more inefficient when the team’s slashers and post players are not attacking the rim as often as the numbers say they should.

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA

CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA

Women’s Basketball Feature

Freshman basketball players face a challenging adjustment. In addition to having to adapt to a higher level of competition, players have to adjust to college academics, a new social atmosphere and life away from home. Moreover, the college season is longer and includes more travel, which can sometimes lead younger players to experience a drop in production as the season continues.

Georgetown freshman guard Dionna White has had no such issues.

“People talk about in the second half of the season, sometimes freshman players hit the wall,” Head Coach Natasha Adair said. “I think she has knocked the wall down. I think she has already run through the wall.”

Track & Field

The Georgetown men’s and No. 8 women’s indoor track and field teams divided their athletes between the Boston University Scarlet and White Invitational, the Villanova Invitational at Ocean Breeze in Staten Island and the USA Track and Field Junior Cross Country Championships (USATF) in Bend, Ore. last weekend. Both squads saw multiple athletes break personal records at each meet.

At the BU Scarlet and White Invitational, the men’s indoor team saw four of its runners clock a sub-four minute time in the invitational mile. Senior Ahmed Bile captured first place in the event, finishing with a time of 3:57.84. This was Bile’s fourth sub-four minute mile in his career. Graduate student Cole Williams, junior Amos Bartelsmeyer, and senior Michael Lederhouse followed Bile’s lead, snagging second, third and fourth places, respectively. Williams recorded a time of 3:57.88, Bartelsmeyer set a personal record with a time of 3:58.22 and Lederhouse clocked in at 3:58.42, another personal record.

Bile was pleased with his level of performance after the meet.

“It just showed consistency,” Bile said. “The NCAAs are getting faster every year. You might need to run a 3:57 just to qualify for the meet. Last year I was the last one to make the meet with a time of 3:58.5. So definitely breaking that was important, but also that it will definitely make the NCAA meet. I was excited about that.”

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RAPID RECAP: Georgetown 92, St. John’s 67

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-11, 7-5 Big East) blew out Big East rival St. John’s (7-18, 0-12 Big East) 92-67 in front of the Georgetown home crowd at Verizon Center. Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a game-high 24 points, which ignited Georgetown’s offensive explosion. Sophomore guard Isaac Copeland contributed a career-high 23 points, while sophomore guard L.J. Peak scored 20 points despite coming off the bench.

Smith-Rivera took control of the game early, scoring the Hoyas’ first eight points and giving them an early lead. When the Red Storm cut the Hoyas’ lead to five points at 13:54 of the first half, the Hoyas easily bounced back with a 10-2 run and began to pull away with the game.

In the first half, everything for Georgetown was clicking. Shooters were able to knock down their threes, as the Hoyas shot 50% from behind the arc in the first half. Georgetown’s defense was too much for St. John’s offense, as the Hoyas out-blocked and out-rebounded the Red Storm.

At the half, Georgetown had three scorers in double digits and led 48-32 after shooting 68.3 percent from the field. The Hoyas came out in the second half with the same offensive intensity as the first half and continued to build on their lead. The Hoyas reached their largest lead of the game at 7:01 when Smith-Rivera drained a three pointer to make it a 26-point game.

During the blowout, everyone on the Georgetown active roster saw saw game action. By the end of the game, the Hoyas shot an incredible 54.2 percent from the field compared to the Red Storm’s shooting percentage of 42.6. Ball movement helped the Hoyas’ offense, as they assisted on 21 of the 32 of their made baskets.

The win moved the Hoyas into fourth place in the Big East, while the Red Storm remain winless in conference play and occupy last place in the conference. Next up for the Hoyas is a tough Saturday matchup at #20 Providence.

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Three Can’t Miss European Soccer Matches This Weekend

Manchester City vs. Leicester City

If you haven’t seen a Leicester match this year, you owe it to yourself to tune into this one. The Foxes, an unfashionable club that struggled against relegation last season, have taken the Premier League by storm this season. Led by Italian tactician Claudio Ranieri and their two star attackers, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, Leicester have defied expectations and sit atop the league table after 24 games played. Vardy, a 29-year old striker who five years ago was playing outside the English league system, has typified their startling ascent. He has 18 league goals this campaign, and broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record for consecutive matches scored in, with 11. Just last week he hit a stunning volley against Liverpool in a match which was pure joy for the neutral. While Leicester may not finish the season on top, fans everywhere should enjoy their run while it lasts.

Meanwhile, Manchester City is in a peculiar spot. Despite a somewhat disappointing league performance this year, the Citizens sit second in the table, only 3 points back of Leicester. A win Saturday would put them in a tie for first. However, distractions abound at the Etihad. This week brought the news that Manuel Pellegrini, their current manager, would be leaving at the end of the season, to be replaced by the famed Pep Guardiola. While their focus should certainly be on finishing out this season strongly, it would not be surprising if the players began looking toward next year and let their focus slip.

Prediction: Leicester earns a valuable away draw at 1-1, staying atop the table… for now.

 

Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen

At long last, the Bundesliga is back from its winter break. And while in recent years Bayern has trotted to consecutive league titles, this year might just be different. They hold an eight-point lead over second placed Borussia Dortmund, but they also face an injury crisis of epic proportions. They started last match against Hoffenheim with only one fit center back, as Jerome Boateng, Mehdi Benatia, and Javi Martinez are all sidelined. They even brought in Serdar Tasci as an emergency loan signing for defensive depth, but he was immediately concussed in his first training session and will be unavailable for Saturday’s match.

Bayer Leverkusen is perhaps the worst opponent for Bayern to face with such a dearth of defenders. Manager Roger Schmidt’s side is renowned for its quick and direct counter-attacking style, and they have proved to be a thorn in the side of Bayern in recent seasons. Without the speed of Boateng to cover behind their risky high back line, Bayern will be vulnerable to counter-attacks, meaning Leverkusen have a great opportunity to grab a win here. If that happens, we might just see the first real Bundesliga title race in three years.

Prediction: Leverkusen grab a 2-1 win.

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NFL to Expand the Rooney Rule

This past Thursday, the NFL hosted the first NFL Women’s Summit. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Rooney Rule would now extend toward women, meaning that NFL teams will now be required to interview women for executive positions. The Rooney Rule, named after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, was initially instituted in 2003. At that point in time, the rule required that all NFL teams interview a minority candidate for executive positions. While the timeline of the policy has not been announced, the rule will be extremely similar to the Rooney Rule.

The rule was created in 2003 in the hopes of diversifying the individuals who held high-ranking positions in the NFL and opening up opportunities for minority individuals seeking those roles. Rooney’s specific role within this context was his position as the chairman of the league’s diversity committee. The Rooney Rule had a monumental impact, bringing the percentage of African American coaches to 22% in the NFL from an initial figure of 6%.

Now that that rule will extend to women, recent progress for women looking for careers in NFL positions will continue to grow. Sarah Thomas became the NFL’s first female referee this past year, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as a coaching intern and, just a few weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills hired the first full time coach in NFL history. Even though recent controversy about the future of the NFL has clouded the level of progress women can potentially achieve in executive positions, this new rule is certainly promising for women searching for influential roles in the NFL.

An article published in Bleacher Report noted, “Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers have proved to be two of the NFL’s top coaches, but it’s possible they may have never gotten a fair shot without the Rooney Rule. If this version of the Rooney Rule can do the same thing for female executives, then it is a move worth making.”

As women gain higher-level positions in male-dominated fields, it makes sense that the NFL would be the next arena where women succeed in obtaining those executive positions. With this new version of the Rooney Rule being put on the books, the chances have that have improved significantly.

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