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Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 in Articles

NBA Preview: The Orlando Magic Rebuild is Coming to an End

NBA Preview: The Orlando Magic Rebuild is Coming to an End

October 24, 2016

Basketball season is back and the Orlando Magic are ready to make a name for themselves this upcoming season. We are still one day away from the start of the 2016-2017 season and two from the Magic’s opening game, but there a still many questions to be answered.

The Magic are coming off a 35-47 season, which was a ten game improvement from the 2014-2015 season. Orlando has been re-building with a young nucleus of players since the departure of Dwight Howard. With most of those players having two or more seasons under their belt, the Magic feel like they are ready to make a playoff push this season, lead by new Head Coach, Frank Vogel.

Welcome to the Orlando Magic, Coach Vogel

Frank Vogel spent the previous six seasons as the Head Coach for the Indiana Pacers. After Vogel took over as the Pacers head coach halfway through the 2010-2011 season, he led the Pacers to five playoff appearances. The Pacers made it to two straight conference finals appearances in 2013 and 2014, but fell short to the Miami Heat in both series. Indiana decided it was time to move on from Frank Vogel this summer, and the Orlando Magic decided to make him their new guy.

https://twitter.com/InsJournal/status/790531680318685184

Vogel is the third head coach Orlando has hired since the end of the Dwight Howard era. The most recent head coach, Scott Skiles, left the team after one season. Luckily for the Magic, Vogel was released at around the same time as Skiles announced his resignation, so the decision was an easy one. Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic Pat Williams believes Vogel’s track record and previous jobs within the league have helped him become one of the great  Head Coaches the game has to offer. 

The New Players

Oct 20, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) drives past New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik (3) during the third quarter of a basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic have been a lock for the NBA Draft lottery for a number of seasons, but last season was slightly different. The Magic were not one of the worst teams in the NBA last season. In fact, they contended for a playoff spot until around the middle of March as they ended up with the 11th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Rather than adding another young player to the roster, Orlando decided to trade their pick, along with former second overall pick Victor Oladipo, and Ersan Ilyasova for Serge Ibaka.

Ibaka should play a similar role in Orlando to the one he had as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, now that Ibaka is a solidified veteran who has been apart of multiple post season runs, the Magic hope he can instill that in the young guys on the roster.

This wasn’t the only move the Magic made this off-season. After letting go of Oladipo, the Magic re-signed Evan Fournier, and brought in Bismack BiyomboJeff Green, and D.J. Augustin to provide more of a veteran presence. Each of these new players should have an immediate impact for Orlando. Ibaka will move into the starting lineup for the Magic, moving Aaron Gordon to the Small Forward position. Biyombo, Green, and Augustin should all be the primary backup at their positions, and could all could see time in starting lineup if someone gets injured.

The End Goal: Make the Playoffs

The Magic feel like the rebuild is finally over. Although there is room for improvement, the team should have the pieces to make a run at one of the lower playoff seeds in the East. The Eastern Conference is not the same as it has been in the past. The Western Conference has dominated the East when it comes to the regular season over the years, but the gap is closing fast. The East has become very competitive during the regular season, as Cleveland is the only true standout.

Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks have all made big off season moves as they hope to return to the post season after failing to last season. Although the Magic will have to compete with these teams, the Magic’s top priority should be to win the Southeastern Division.

Previewing the Southeastern Division

The Magic are one of the five teams that make up this division, along with the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, and the Washington Wizards.

After trading Jeff Teague and losing Al Horford to free agency, the Hawks will look to Dennis Schroder to run the show in Atlanta. The Hawks also added Dwight Howard, who spent the last three season as a member of the Houston Rockets. Last season, the Hawks finished 48-34 which landed them the fourth seed in the playoffs last season.

Although Atlanta’s offense may not be as productive without Teague and Horford, the addition of Dwight Howard will help a team on the defensive end, while adding more rebounding to a team that was near the bottom of the league in rebounds per game.

The Charlotte Hornets let Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin walk in free agency so they could resign other valuable player like Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. The Hornets showed the most improvement out of the teams in the south-east division last year, who also finished 48-34 and was the sixth seed in the playoffs. Although Charlotte lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs, the team can focus on developing around Kemba Walker and Batum.

Oct 18, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Jeff Green (34) is pressured by Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 103-77. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat were the most talked about team in this division during the off-season. With Chris Bosh’s continuing blood-clot issues, and losing Dwyane WadeLoul Deng, and Joe Johnson, this years Heat team will look much different than it has in years past.

Miami has a young core of shooting guards that could take the place of Wade’s production on the court, but won’t make up for his leadership skills. Now it is up to Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside to lead this new look Heat team to the post season.

Lastly, we have the Washington Wizards. Before last season began, the Wizards were thought to have one of the best back-court tandems in the league with John Wall and Bradley Beal. That didn’t exactly pan out throughout the season. The team failed to make the playoffs after reaching two straight Eastern conference semi-finals appearances. Granted, Beal missed most of last season with lingering injuries.

However Washington is still confident in their back court, and they proved that by making Beal the highest paid player in team history. The idea that this back court could be one of the best in the league is still a mystery, but the potential is there without question.

As the season approaches, it’s hard to pick a favorite to win this division. However, each team will be able to make their cases once the season gets under way. But for the Magic, the focus should be solely be on making the playoffs.

The Orlando Magic will host the Miami Heat this Wednesday. Game time set for 7 p.m.

Source: WRUF

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Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Archive

Looking Ahead for the Gators

Looking Ahead for the Gators

The 15th ranked Florida Gators have their scheduled bye week this week, so this post will will look ahead to their remaining opponents, but also recap the first half of the season. 

The Recap

The Gators started the season 3-0 and their defense looked as dominate as ever. The defense has lived up to expectation and then some, ranking in the top five in the country. Coming into the season Florida had a quarterback battle between Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby. Del Rio won the starting job, but Appleby has played in two games due to a Del Rio injury. Appleby went 1-1 in his two starts, losing on the road to Tennessee and winning at Vanderbilt. Del Rio has yet to lose a game as a starter this season. 

Florida also had a home game against LSU rescheduled to a later date at LSU, due to Hurricane Matthew. The Gators will no longer play Presbyterian at home on November 19th, but will travel to Baton Rouge to face the Tigers.

Florida has had to deal with injuries on both sides of the ball this season, but the Gators keep finding ways to win. However, the harder part of their schedule is approaching. The Gators play Georgia in Jacksonville next week, then on the road at Arkansas and Florida state, both of which are ranked in the AP Top 25.

Looking Ahead

If the Gators win out the rest of their games, they will repeat as SEC East champions, and will go on to likely face either Alabama or Texas A&M. If the Gators lose one of the remaining games, then Tennessee would clinch the SEC East if they win out. With the way the defense has been playing for the Gators, they should be able to hold teams in check. It’s a matter of if the offense can generate enough points to surpass their opponent.

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Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Archive

The Gators Dominate Missouri in Homecoming Game

The Florida Gators put on a show in the Swamp this weekend, defeating the Missouri Tigers 40-14. Jalon ‘Teez’ Tabor and Quincy Wilson returned an interceptions for a touchdowns, Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine rushed for over 100 yards, and Luke Del Rio was back under center for the orange and blue.

A Rough Day for Quarterbacks

It wasn’t a great day for Missouri to say the least. Drew Lock, who was second in the SEC in passing, had one of those days any quarterback would like to forget. Lock finished the first half with just seven passing yards and two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Lock finished the game just four of 18, throwing for 39 yards and those two interceptions.

Luke Del Rio didn’t have a great game either, but that shouldn’t surprise too many people. Del Rio hasn’t played since week 3 against the North Texas Mean Green. He finished the game 18 for 31 with 236 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Del Rio looked rusty, but he still made some bad decisions. Head Coach Jim McElwain had his own comments about his quarterback’s performance.

There’s Always a Bright Side

The Gators were able to get the run game on track last weekend. The team combined for 287 yards rushing and had two players rush for over 100. The Gators have struggled running the ball this season in part that they have so many running backs. Scarlett, Perine, Mark Thompson, and Jordan Cronkrite have all showed flashes of good potential throughout the year, but there is no clear cut number one in this rotation. Scarlett has scored in the past five games, so he may be emerging as the favorite, but only time will tell in that one.

Even Missouri had a good day rushing the ball. The Gators have one of the best defense’s in the country, and their secondary proved that last weekend. However they struggled to stop the rushing attack of Isb Witter and Damarea Crockett.

Missouri Rushing Statistics

  • Ish Witter: 15 rushes for 82 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Damarea Crockett: 14 rushes for 145 yards
  • Marvin Zanders:  8 rushes for 31 yards

Missouri’s secondary played also played well this past weekend. The Tigers allowed just one touchdown pass and forced three turnovers against the Gators. Missouri will look to keep the same defensive intensity against Middle Tennessee this weekend. It’s also hard to imagine Drew Lock performs this poorly two straight weeks.

The Gators are on a bye week, and are preparing to face SEC East Rival Georgia next weekend in Jacksonville.

 

 

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Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Archive

Sports in 60

This is one of my Sports in 60 updates. It’s pretty self explanatory. For 60 seconds, I talk about what is going on in the sports world at that time. I do these updates every Wednesday morning, so I will end up covering sporting events going later that day, and also highlight what happened the night before.

The main goal is to let our viewers know what Gator sports are taking that place. Since our viewing audience is mostly North-Central Florida, the Gators mean a lot to the people who view the show. In this installment of Sports in 60, I talk about Gator Volleyball and the MLB wildcard races.

However we cover more than just the University of Florida. We also cover most professional teams in Florida, as well as covering breaking news.

I have a plethora of news stories that I have worked on and published videos of, but my passion is sports. I plan on being apart of the sports media after graduation, so I want to focus all of my time this semester perfecting my craft. It’s very important to be well rounded in anything people do, so being able to do both sports and news should help me find work in many different markets.

 

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Posted by on Oct 2, 2016 in Articles

NFL Preview: Week 4 Top Matchups

NFL Preview: Week 4 Top Matchups

October 2, 2016

Almost a quarter of the 2016 NFL season has passed and there has been plenty of excitement to this point. As of now, there are still five undefeated teams, rookie and first time starting quarterbacks have started 11-2 combined. Unfortunately, this season has also been highlighted by multiple injuries to star players. Week 4 not only marks the quarter point of this season, but it is also marks the return of Le’Veon Bell, and the final week of Tom Brady and Josh Gordon’s suspensions.  Keeping all of that in mind, here is a preview of some of Week 4’s biggest matchups around the NFL.

Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-1) 1 p.m.

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

These two NFC South Rivals square off for the first time this season. The Panthers have won the NFC South division the last two seasons, but Atlanta’s high-powered offense making a name for itself in 2016. Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who is coming off a 14 carry 152-yard performance against the New Orleans Saints, says he is ready to face the Panthers defense which is holding teams to under 100-yards rushing on the season.

The Panthers have started the 2016 season off much slower than their 2015 season. Already with two losses on the season, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton says his team knows that getting their second win will feel great, especially coming against a division rival.

Buffalo Bills (1-2) at New England Patriots (3-0) 1 p.m.

Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills will travel to Foxborough to face off against their undefeated division rival New England Patriots. The Bills are coming off a big upset win over the Arizona Cardinals, where they dominated on both the offensive and defensive side of the field. However, the Bills have lost the last two games against the Patriots and haven’t won in Foxborough since 2014.

Meanwhile, the Patriots have been without their All-Pro Quarterback Tom Brady through the first three weeks of the season, and they are still undefeated. Not only that, but they have virtually been without their star tight end Rob Gronkowski for the first three weeks, despite him taking some snaps last week. Gronkowski says he doesn’t want to rush back into things, but he is excited to be back on the field at full-force.

Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at San Francisco 49’ers (1-2) 4:25 p.m.

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are traveling to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. Despite not having Pro-Bowl Quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys have started off the season with two wins, behind rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. The Mississippi State product only has one touchdown through the air, thanks to the hands of Dez Bryant, but he has yet to commit a turnover this season.

However, the Cowboys could be without Bryant this week, who suffered a knee injury Sunday night in Chicago. Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett says they are pleased with the results from Bryant’s MRI, but he wishes the receiver handled the situation differently.

After going on the road for two straight games, the San Francisco 49ers are going into week four 1-2. The 49ers lost their last two games by a total score of 83-45, after winning their first game 28-0.

Although the last two weeks haven’t looked great for the 49ers, running back Carlos Hyde is coming off his first 100-yard performance of the season against a Seattle defense that is notorious for holding running backs to under 100-yards. Hyde also has four rushing touchdowns on the season, which already puts him ahead of his three rushing touchdowns from the 2015 season. If there’s anything that looks bright in San Francisco, its in their running game.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) 8:30 p.m.

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s Sunday Night Football game will be in Pittsburgh, as the Kansas City Chiefs will travel there to face off against the Steelers. In the past, the Chiefs have been known for their conservative play on offense while their defense brought the physical presence. This strategy hasn’t changed much, but the Chiefs have scored 69 points over the first three weeks of the season.

Meanwhile, their defense is holding teams to just 16.3 points per game. The Chiefs have faced off against three teams with a strong running game, but none like the Steelers, who will have Le’Veon Bell available for the first time this season.

The Steelers are now known for their high-powered offense, led by the three-headed monster of Ben RoethlisbergerAntonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell.

After being held to just three points last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers will look to attack the Chiefs defense early and often. Bell says he is in great shape heading into his first game of the 2016 season.

Source: WRUF

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