Four Teams Clinch Playoff Spots in Week 15

The ugliest win is always preferable to the prettiest loss, and beauty was hard to find for many teams in week 15. Overall, three divisions in the AFC crowned champions, the Cardinals punched the NFC’s first playoff ticket and the Buffalo Bills did their part to preserve their playoff hopes while destroying the fantasy playoff hopes of Aaron Rodgers owners. Oh, and Johnny “Football” Manziel played, too.

Though there were few surprises in the AFC this week, the playoff ramifications were tremendous. Denver, New England and Indianapolis each clinched their respective division titles with victories on Sunday making the AFC North the lone division without a champion. The leaders of the North, the Cincinnati Bengals, welcomed Johnny Manziel into the NFL by sacking him three times, intercepting him twice, and flashing Manziel’s trademark money sign all over the field in a 30-0 blowout. The loss eliminated Cleveland from playoff contention, but Manziel will start next week against the Panthers. The Chargers, Dolphins and Texans, the three victims of the AFC’s division winners, each saw their playoff hopes take a serious hit and now find themselves on the outside looking in at Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Ravens and Steelers both won on Sunday and hold the two wildcard spots in the AFC and, at 9-5, they remain a half game behind the Bengals for the division lead. Continue reading

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NBA Recap: Monroe on Trading Block, Porter on Bench

The NBA season seems to have finally stabilized, and records are starting to break. Tim Duncan advanced to 18th on the all-time scoring list, and most notably, Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for 3rd all-time on that same list. Just as his career began with a free throw, his record-breaking point came from the foul line. In the standings, most remain the same, and, once again, the Golden State Warriors fail to lose. At 21-2, they have won 16 straight, and Stephen Curry is leading the charge in the MVP race. Not only does he have the deadliest 3-point shot in the game, but he is averaging the 3rd best field goal percentage around the rim (inside the restricted area) among point guards. When it comes to coaching, Mike Malone, coach of the Sacramento Kings was fired for his “poor coaching” despite not having his best player (DeMarcus Cousins). As far as former Georgetown players around the league this week go, they have definitely stepped it up from last week’s outings.

Detroit Pistons: Forward Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe averaged over 19 points and 8 rebounds a game this past week, as the Pistons enjoyed a rare winning week, with 2 wins and only 1 loss. Monroe, however, has been relegated to the trading block, according to rumors. As far as which team will land Monroe, it’s anyone’s guess. Boston would be a solid fit, as they lack a decent defensive frontcourt, and uniting former Hoyas, Jeff Green and Monroe, would be any Georgetown fan’s dream.

Indiana Pacers: Center Roy Hibbert

Big Roy Hibbert finally had a decent week, decent for Roy Hibbert that is. Posting a double-double in one of his games and scoring in double digits twice, Hibbert was effective for the Pacers, even though they stumbled to a 1-3 record this week and continue to remain outside playoff contention. Rumors are circulating about a possible return of Lance Stephenson via trade, and that would certain relieve a lot of the Pacers’ woes. Regardless, unless Hibbert can improve his “decent” play, the Pacers will continue to stumble until Paul George returns, which almost guarantees a losing season until 2015-2016.

Boston Celtics: Forward Jeff Green

Once again, the most accomplished former Hoya in the NBA performed well for the Celtics, averaging  over 17 points this past week. Unfortunately, Boston stumbled to yet another losing week at a record of 1-2. Boston should be in the market for a trade sometime soon, for it finds itself with a very unreliable defense and lack of a solid rim protector. Green has established himself a dependable and reliable scorer, and Rondo is one of, if not, the best passers in the game, but they cannot hold down the paint for their team.

Philadelphia 76ers: Guard Hollis Thompson and Center Henry Sims

Both remain in the starting lineup, but the Sixers woes continue. After a successful week last week with two wins, Philadelphia finds themselves unable to win again. The two former Hoyas continue to perform adequately, contributing, scoring and rebounding on both ends. Though they will most likely never be prolific scorers or stars in the league, they are doing the Hilltop proud. If the Sixers do improve next season and choose to retain the Hoya duo, we may very well see this tandem in the playoffs, a welcome sight for not just Georgetown fans, but Sixers’ fans as a whole.

Washington Wizards: Forward Otto Porter

The recently departed from Georgetown Otto Porter once again finds himself at the end of the Wizards bench this week. Winning every game this week, including an impressive victory against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Eastern Conference’s second best team rarely used Porter. He did manage to contribute in his limited minutes. Without fail, Porter is energy off the bench for when the starters need their rest. If he can continue to pick his spots and increase chemistry with the offense, he will be ready to go for a bigger role should an injury unfortunately befall Washington. And who knows, he may even surprise us in the playoffs; only time will tell.

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Bowen Dunks Down Highlanders

Georgetown’s men’s basketball team (6-3) cruised past Radford (5-4) on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center, rebounding from a difficult loss to Kansas. Senior forward Aaron Bowen recorded a career-high 16 points, leading the 11 different Hoyas who scored.

The Hoyas started slow, as senior center Joshua Smith was charged with two offensive fouls in the early going.  Radford junior forward Kion Brown’s layup gave the Highlanders an 11-9 lead. However, the Hoyas then went on an extended 41-9 run, showing their superior athleticism and skill. The outcome was never in doubt in the second half, as Head Coach John Thompson III was able to give each of the 14 players on the Georgetown roster playing time during the second half.

Radford entered the game coming off of a shocking road win over Virginia Tech (4-4), which was one of the biggest wins in program history. However, the Highlanders were never able to gain significant momentum against a stout Hoyas defense. Radford only made three of its 11 three-point attempts, and had several of its layup attempts blocked by the Hoya defense. Senior forward Mikael Hopkins provided a strong defensive performance, recording five rebounds and two steals while blocking two shots.  In addition, the Hoyas’ pressure defense on the perimeter caused 17 turnovers, many of which led to easy transition baskets for the Georgetown offense.

Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had another slow game, recording nine points while making only one of his nine field goal attempts. Smith-Rivera again missed a number of shots that he would , and should, make, and struggled to find an offensive rhythm. However, he did make a concerted effort to take the ball to the basket, drawing several fouls and converting all six of his foul shots. Smith also had a quiet day, scoring only six points, as he was slowed by his early foul trouble.

The Hoyas’ role players were able to pick up the slack, as the Georgetown bench scored a whopping 42 points. Bowen delivered an electric performance, making eight of his nine field goal attempts, including several explosive dunks. Early in the second half, Smith-Rivera came away with a steal, and tossed the ball down the court to a wide-open Bowen, who went up for a spectacular 360 dunk. Bowen’s effort was merely the highlight of a number of athletic plays by the Hoyas, who recorded eight dunks as a team.

Freshman forward Paul White added 12 points off the bench, converting two of his three long-range attempts. White has made seven three-pointers in his last three games, displaying his increasing confidence as a shooter, and the freshman will look to continue to carve out an important role in Thompson’s rotation.

The Hoyas return to action next Saturday against Charlotte (4-4) at the Verizon Center. The game will feature the debut of Georgetown’s new “student-for-a-day” promotion in an attempt to fill the vacated student section during winter break.

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Neumann’s Career Continues with New England

Forward Steve Neumann (MSB ’14) will remain with the New England Revolution of the MLS after Wednesday’s expansion draft. Two new MLS franchises, Orlando City SC and New York City FC, had a chance to select 10 players off of the rosters of existing teams, and Neumann was available to be selected.

Neumann played 538 minutes in 23 games played last season for New England in his rookie year. He also started three games. He did not have a single goal or assist in league play, but had one of each in a match against a team from a lower division. Much as it was at Georgetown, the strongest part of Neumann’s game is his ability to pass, cross and facilitate the offense. While this does not lend itself to gaudy numbers, it did earn him relatively consistent playing time as a rookie.

The 18 teams that competed in the 2014 season had the ability to protect 11 players on their roster from the expansion draft and could protect a further 12th player if the team had already lost one in the draft. No team could lose more than two players. Neumann, along with fellow rookie forward Patrick Mullins and forward Tony Taylor, was initially not a protected player and was considered a prime target because of his age and potential.

NYC FC selected Mullins, who, incidentally, is also Neumann’s roommate, in the second round of the draft. The Revolution then protected Neumann, a wise move considering that New York would pick the older and less accomplished Taylor just a few rounds later.

Neumann took to twitter after the expansion draft to react to the loss of Mullins and his continued career in New England.

Look for Neumann on the field with New England in March when the MLS season returns.

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Coogan, Yaro Honored at Halftime of Kansas Game

Joshua Yaro and Katrina Coogan Honored at Georgetown Basketball Game v. #10 Kansas

At halftime of Georgetown’s (4-3) 75-70  loss to Kansas (7-1) Wednesday night, sophomore soccer defender Joshua Yaro and senior cross-country and track athlete Katrina Coogan were honored as admirable student-athletes and received awards from PNC Bank commending them for their accomplishments.

This season, Yaro helped to lead the Georgetown men’s soccer team (14-4-5, Big East 6-2-1) to the Elite 8 and is generally considered among the best players in the nation. Georgetown fell to the Virginia Cavaliers in the tight match-up that went into penalty kicks, but Yaro exhibited an impressive level of play that’s he’s displayed all season long. In a Washington Post article published Dec. 5, Yaro was applauded for his ambition in the classroom as a potential double major. The Post’s soccer writer Steven Goff also discussed Yaro’s future as a MLS No. 1 overall draft pick.

Coogan led the women’s cross-country team to the NCAA championships this fall, in which the Hoyas finished 4th overall. Coogan, an All-American, finished 18th overall in a field of well over 100 runners. The Hoyas have made the NCAA championships in cross-country for all four years that Coogan has been at Georgetown, and she helped to lead the team to the NCAA championship title in the 2011 season during her freshman year. The Hoyas’ finish this season is the best they have had since that 2011 season, as they finished 5th overall last year and 12th overall the year before.

Yaro and Coogan represent the first two athletes to receive this award from PNC Bank. A representative from the company and Georgetown Director of Athletics Lee Reed gave the awards to Coogan and Yaro after describing their accomplishments both inside and outside of the classroom. A packed Verizon Center crowd applauded the ceremony.

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Playoff Committee Made the Right Choice

On Sunday, the College Football Playoff Committee released the rankings for the inaugural college football playoffs. To no one’s surprise Alabama, Oregon and Florida State took the first three spots. But the decision that the country was waiting to see was which team would make it in as the fourth seed. The committee got it right with Ohio State.

Before the last week of the season, there was a good argument for either Baylor, which finished fifth, or Texas Christian, sixth – the Big 12 co-champions – to get the fourth spot over Ohio State. However, the Buckeyes’ win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big 10 championship game proved that they deserved a shot at number one Alabama in the playoffs. Ohio State dismantled Wisconsin 59-0, playing with backup quarterback Cardale Jones after Heisman Trophy candidate J.T. Barrett broke his right ankle against Michigan in the last game of the regular season. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and extended that to 38-0 by half on the way to an easy win. Perhaps even more impressively, they held Heisman Trophy finalist running back Melvin Gordon to 76 yards rushing on 26 carries. Continue reading

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