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Posted by on Dec 8, 2016 in Articles

Feature: Kelly Beckham, Gainesville High School Basketball Coach

Feature: Kelly Beckham, Gainesville High School Basketball Coach

December 8, 2016

High school basketball season is officially underway, as Kelly Beckham looks to take his Gainesville High School Hurricanes back to the postseason. Coach Beckham has been the head basketball coach at GHS for seven seasons, and took three of those teams to the Final Four in Lakeland. Beckham won Coach of the Year in Florida in 2009 and in that same year, he led the Hurricanes to a 29-3 record and a Class 5a State Championship title.

That team finished ranked third in the state of Florida, eighth in the South Region (National Prep Poll) and 67th in the nation (Max Preps). It’s fairly safe to say the GHS basketball program has made a name for itself in the state of Florida. As a whole, the program has won five State Championships including back to back titles in 1999 and 2000.

Gainesville High School Gymnasium

Last season, the Hurricanes finished the season 25-5 which was good enough for a Class 6A District 4 title. The team made it through the next two rounds of the postseason before meeting up with Pensacola High School in the Regional Finals. This was the third season in a row where Gainesville and Pensacola met in the postseason.

With the series tied at 1-1, there was a lot riding on the third game. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, a bad shooting night led to a 45-39 loss. According to Kaijon Scott, who is now a senior point guard for the Hurricanes, the locker room after the game was down, but coach Beckham helped raise their spirits.

With all of that behind them, the Hurricanes are ready for the new season. However, just how easy is it to forget a loss like that? Well, it isn’t, but coach Beckham knows this year’s team is ready to step up to the future challenges the team may face. However, coach Beckham is more than just a basketball coach. He genuinely cares about the well-being of his players and fellow coaches, and they truly appreciate what he has done for the program.

Kelly Beckham, More Than Just a Coach

Coach Kelly Beckham (Far Right) watches former player sign letter of content.

Coach Beckham has over 700 career wins as a head coach. While truly an outstanding number, not all of those wins were with the Hurricanes. Before his time at GHS, Beckham was the head coach of the Bronson Eagles. I spoke to Enrique Wiseman, who played for coach Beckham during his time at Bronson. Wiseman, who now coaches Volleyball at The Rock School in Gainesville, said “coach Beckham is part of the reason I got into coaching, and I use what he taught me to become a better coach.”

Even assistant coach Hellrung, who has been a member of the GHS coaching staff for 25 years, says coach Beckham has taught him new philosophies that the other coaches did not. Kaijon Scott also said “coach Beckham is the best coach he has ever had.” This could very well be why coach Beckham was named the Gainesville Sun’s Coach of the Year.


GHS Season Update

As of now, the Hurricanes are 5-0 on the season after defeating Columbia High School last night.

Before going up against Columbia, the Hurricanes had to take care of crosstown rival Buchholz. Gainesville came out on top of what coach Hellrung called “the most packed home game I’ve ever coached in.”

Gainesville High School Logo

The Hurricanes’ next game will be at Vanguard High School for another district matchup. The last time these two teams met, the Hurricanes eliminated Vanguard from the postseason in a hard-fought overtime game. Not only that, but the Hurricanes defeated Vanguard in the Class 6A District 4 Championship game last season. Coach Beckham knows that the upcoming matchup against Vanguard will be just as hard-fought against an improved Vanguard team.

However, he is still confident his guys can overcome the extra drama. After the strong start, Beckham expects this team to have a great year, but it will be a tough season. With the returning players from last year’s team and with coach Beckham at the helm, keep an eye on the Hurricanes as they look to return to Lakeland for a chance at his second title with Gainesville High School.

Source: WRUF

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Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Articles

Feature: Gators Point Guard, Chris Chiozza

Feature: Gators Point Guard, Chris Chiozza

November 10, 2016

Let the College Basketball season begin. November 11th marks the start of the 2016 season, and the Florida Gators are ready to get back to the NCAA Tournament. They will be led by players such as senior guard Kasey Hill, and juniors Chris Chiozza and Devin Robinson.

Although Hill is the oldest returning player for the Gators, Chiozza is expected to occupy the starting point guard spot. Gator Head Coach Mike White changed his starting lineup quite often during the 2015-2016 season, but it was Chiozza who started 22 games, while Hill started in 17. Hill scored the ball at a slightly higher rate, but Chiozza averaged more assists, rebounds, shot better from the free-throw line, and had a better assist/turnover ratio.

Chiozza’s Future

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Chiozza is in an interesting position this year. He is officially one of the leaders of this Gator team and should have the spotlight on him throughout the entire season. The Memphis, Tennessee native is a talented player on both ends of the floor, but he doesn’t have the ideal size for an NBA caliber point guard. With NBA Draft Room and DraftExpress not projecting Chiozza to be drafted at all, he will have to prove to NBA scouts that his size shouldn’t factor into his draft stock.

The best way to do so will be to perform at a higher level than he ever has in his first two years in college. The Gators had some good moments last season, but playing under a new head coach and having to learn an entirely new system isn’t easy. Chiozza says the team is all in on Coach White this year, and it should make the team better as a whole.

The team struggled offensively, especially from behind the free-throw and three-point lines. Chiozza only shot 32 percent from long distance, but hit nearly 80 percent of his free throws. If he can shoot closer to the 40 percent mark from three then the Gators offense will be much more consistent than it has been in year’s past. It’s plays like these that will help propel this Gator squad back to the Big Dance.

Chiozza Ally-Oop to Kevarrius Hayes

What to Expect this Season

The Gators lost their leading scorer and rebounder in Dorian Finney-Smith to the NBA, but the remainder of the roster is in tact. The Gators also added three freshman and a graduate transfer in Canyon Barry. Chiozza says the team’s experience is going to play a big factor in the team’s success this season.

It doesn’t matter how you look at it; Chris Chiozza is going to play a huge role for the Gators this season. Whether its becoming one of the team’s leading scorers, improving his assist numbers, or just getting it done on the defensive side of the ball, he will be one of the leaders of this team.

You can see Chiozza and the Gators in action this Friday night against Florida Golf Coast University. You can catch the game live on SEC Network+, or tune into the Gator IMG Sports Network to hear the call.

Source: WRUF

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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.

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 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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