Northern Ireland defender Daniel Lafferty is preparing to face some of the world’s best attacking talent this week and hopes for more of the same with Burnley next season. Michael O’Neill’s side take on Uruguay in Montevideo on Friday, pitting Lafferty and company against a side missing the injured Luis Suarez but led by Paris St Germain star Edinson Cavani, before heading to Chile – to face the likes of Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez – on June 4. With both opponents making their final tune-ups for the World Cup it promises to be a tough ask of a depleted Northern Ireland, but Lafferty is eager to meet it head on. “I’ll be pinching myself when I do. To walk out at Old Trafford or Anfield would be unbelievable considering where I was three years ago. “It will be an amazing experience to get the chance of playing in those kind of arenas against some top-class opponents. “It’s very exciting for me to have signed a new contract and I’m quite flattered by it to be honest. I didn’t play as much as I’d like this season, and only about 40 times since I’ve been at the club, so for the manager to turn around and give me three years, as a player with no Premier League experience, was a boost. “There are guys who played a lot more than me this year who’ve been let go, so for the manager to show that faith in me is very nice and I want to repay that on the pitch in the next few years. “In pre-season I want to be competing and fighting for my place.” Burnley’s task next season is likely to be similar to that facing Northern Ireland in the coming days – scrapping against higher-rated teams and looking to cause upsets against the grain. But Lafferty is ready to show that can be done in Montevideo. “We aren’t silly enough to think we’ll dominate games possession wise, but anyone who’s watched football in the last few weeks will know that doesn’t necessarily count for a lot,” he said. “Look at QPR in the play-off final, look at the Champions League final where Atletico nearly won in normal time. Possession doesn’t mean you will win the game, so playing a team like Uruguay is excellent preparation for us in terms of team shape and what we do without the ball. “If we could nick any kind of result it would be a massive boost coming into the qualifiers.” “Where do you start with teams like Uruguay and Chile? No matter what side they put out they possess unbelievable quality and they draw their players from the top clubs throughout Europe and South America,” he said. “They’re going to the World Cup and they’re going all out to prepare for that so it will be a phenomenal experience and one I was never going to pull out of. “It’s a massive opportunity, maybe a once-in-a-career chance. “When you play against nations like these – or Portugal and Russia in the last campaign – you can test your wits against the best and that helps going back to your club when the manager sees that.” When the 26-year-old Lafferty does head back to Turf Moor it will be with a brand new three-year contract and the prospect of Premier League football following the Clarets’ unexpected promotion last term. Although the left-back was far from a driving force in that campaign, making just 12 appearances in all competitions and none since January, manager Sean Dyche’s decision to tie him to the club until 2017 was a major show of faith. And for a player who was plying his trade with Derry City in the League of Ireland until January 2012, it completes a phenomenal rise to the top. “I’m not sure if the reality of playing in the Premier League has fully sunk in yet,” he said. Press Association
Press Association Victory over Finland at Windsor Park would take Northern Ireland to 12 points from a possible 15 and give them a huge chance of reaching their first major tournament in 30 years. And if they managed that, Carroll and company would instantly be treated with the same reverence as Frampton in the province. “Having Carl here with the players was fantastic,” said the Notts County goalkeeper. “We listened to him and watched his last fight. It was amazing, an honour to be in the same room. “We’ve a lot of heroes in this country and hopefully we can join them in the Euros. That’s my dream.” Such is the optimism around Northern Ireland’s recent qualifying results, particularly back-to-back away wins in Greece and Hungary, Carroll is finally able to contemplate appearing at a major championship. At 37, and with well-documented personal problems including drinking and gambling firmly in his past, that is something that once appeared highly unlikely. “This is one of the biggest games for me, especially because I’m looking to go to the finals. It’s a big opportunity for all of us,” he said. “Especially what’s happened in my life the past 19 years, you know what I mean? There’s been ups and downs. “It’d be nice to finish on a high – not that I’m saying I’m finishing – but for me personally, it would be fantastic.” Roy Carroll wants Northern Ireland to land a knockout blow against Finland after a pep talk from world champion Carl Frampton. Belfast boy Frampton, the IBF world super bantamweight champion, visited Michael O’Neill’s squad at their team hotel on Thursday to give a motivational Q&A ahead of Sunday’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier. Afterwards he posed for pictures with the squad, several of which were posted by proud players on their Twitter feeds.
Corstorphine (5-1) showed tremendous battling qualities to run out an all-the-way winner of the Frank Conroy EBF Maiden at Leopardstown. Oxx said: “I thought he’d run well in the Curragh but he didn’t run much of a race really. “He’s been working well since and I thought he’d be in the money today. He’s a good genuine type and stays the trip well. “We’ll put him in something better now and see how he gets on.” Pullman Brown powered to victory in the ‘Damian Dempsey’ Handicap. David Marnane’s 5-2 favourite drew alongside Aurelia Cotta at the furlong power and streaked away under Connor King, scoring by four lengths. Marnane said: “He’s learning his game. He got mugged a little bit the last day. He was a little immature and is still immature. “He’s starting to settle now and today when he got to the front he finished it off well. He’ll have no problems getting a mile-and-a-half. “His full-brother in American won a Grade 2 and only got going when he was four. I fancy that this horse could be quite similar, although whether he gets to that level I don’t know. “He’s in the horses-in-training sales in October. He’s part of a syndicate that we are disbanding.” Eighth behind Sanus Per Aquam at the Curragh on his debut, John Oxx’s charge was sent straight to the front under Declan McDonogh, but looked a sitting duck as Whiskey Zulu was breathing down his neck a furlong out. Restive also came with a late run, but Corstorphine was not to be denied, beating Whiskey Zulu by half a length. Press Association
Cattermole limped out of last weekend’s 6-2 defeat at Everton with a groin injury and boss Sam Allardyce confirmed the midfielder will not be fit to return until after the international break. Allardyce said: “I don’t think it’s that serious but he certainly won’t be fit for the weekend. We have to wait until Monday night when we play (Crystal Palace on November 23), so he certainly has enough time to recover.” Press Association Meanwhile fellow midfielder Liam Bridcutt looks set to stay in the north-east after confusion regarding a prospective loan move to Championship side Leeds. The two clubs looked to have agreed a deal for a two-month loan for Bridcutt, who has yet to feature in the Black Cats first team this season. But Bridcutt returned to training on Thursday and Allardyce said: “It looks like it’s confused – like Leeds seem to be. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen but it doesn’t look like it because he turned up for training today. I’ll have to speak to Steve (Evans) and see what the situation is.” Sunderland will be without Lee Cattermole for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash with Southampton at the Stadium of Light.
Nebraska is the latest state to limit attendance or cancel a state high school championship tournament.The Nebraska boys’ basketball tournament will be played as scheduled Thursday through Saturday, but the only fans allowed into the venues will be participants’ immediate families.The Lincoln and Lancaster County Health Department recommended limiting spectators because of concern about the spread of coronavirus. Health officials announced this week that a Crofton High School student who attended the girls’ tournament in Lincoln last week was diagnosed with COVID-19.Ohio announced that only participants’ families and media will be allowed to attend winter sports postseason tournaments.Connecticut has canceled the remainder of its winter sports seasons as well as state tournaments. —Reporting by Aaron Beard.___7:10 p.m.The Big 12 and Big Ten basketball tournaments will proceed without fans beginning with Thursday’s games, following the lead of the NCAA Tournament in barring anybody but family and essential personnel. Each conference started Wednesday’s tournament games with fans in attendance.Going forward, Big 12 teams will be allowed 125 tickets on a game-by-game basis beginning with Thursday’s quarterfinals at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The arena will be cleared after each game. The tickets will go to guests of student-athletes and staff members, but pep bands, cheerleaders and dance teams won’t be allowed. Associated Press ——2:05 p.m.The Mariners will move home games from Seattle through end of March following the state of Washington’s decision to ban large group events in response to the coronavirus outbreak.Seattle had been scheduled to open the season at Safeco Field with a four-game series against Texas from March 26-29, then host Minnesota in a three-game series from March 30 through April 1.The Mariners say they are working with the commissioner’s office on alternative plans. The SEC opened its tourney in Nashville on Wednesday night after the NCAA announced that only family and essential personnel would attend its men’s and women’s tournament games that begin around the country next week. The league said then it was evaluating plans for the remainder of its tournament.About 15 minutes after Georgia beat Ole Miss to open the tournament, the SEC announced it was joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 in keeping the general public out of the final four days of its tournament.“We regret the inconvenience and disappointment this decision has caused our fans, especially those who have already traveled to Nashville for the tournament,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement.The SEC also says fans will be kept out of all regular-season events on its campuses and other league championships through at least March 30.—Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee. That answer by Dr. Anthony Fauci came hours before NBA owners are scheduled to meet to discuss the next steps in responding to the growing concern about the virus.Fauci was responding to a question from Rep. Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin Republican, during a meeting of the House Oversight Committee. Grothman asked, “Is the NBA underreacting or is the Ivy League overreacting?” He was referencing how the Ivy League recently canceled its basketball tournaments, instead of having them played without fans in attendance or keeping the status quo.“We would recommend that there not be large crowds,” Fauci said. “If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. But as a public health official, anything that has crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.” —Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City.___8:47 p.m.The Oakland Athletics are working with Major League Baseball to figure out alternate plans for their season-opening series at the Coliseum after the City of Oakland imposed a ban on gatherings of 1,000 or more people through the end of March.The team hasn’t said whether it was considering a different location for the games or the idea of playing in an empty ballpark the way the Golden State Warriors plan to do across the bay in San Francisco on Thursday night. 2:45 p.m.The Fed Cup finals have been postponed indefinitely in response to concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus. The 12-team women’s tennis tournament was set to be played April 14-19 in Budapest, Hungary. The International Tennis Federation said it still hopes to stage the event in 2020, but did not announce a date. The Fed Cup serves as a qualifying event for the Olympics and the ITF said it “is working closely with the IOC to address any impact this may have on athlete eligibility” for the Tokyo Games. All playoff matches between lower-ranked teams, which were set to be played in eight locations around the world, were also postponed. The Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament joined the Big 12 and Big Ten in playing without fans starting with Thursday’s quarterfinal round.The league announced the decision in a statement Wednesday evening. That came late on the second day of the five-day event, after fans had attended four full games and half of the Boston College-Notre Dame game at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.The league cited the “rapidly changing landscape regarding COVID-19,” saying games would be played only with teams, player guests, limited school administrators and credentialed media present.Thursday’s games are the first to feature the top seeds in No. 4 Florida State, No. 10 Duke, No. 15 Louisville and No. 17 Virginia.The NCAA announced that only family and essential personnel would attend the “March Madness” tournament games that begin next week around the country, including in Greensboro. After the NCAA’s announcement, the Big 12 and Big Ten — which were opening play in their league tournaments Wednesday — made similar calls to keep out fans with Thursday’s games. Quebec Province Health Minister Danielle McCann made the announcement Wednesday.The event was scheduled to bring nearly 200 skaters from more than 50 countries to Montreal. It is the premier competition of the skating season in non-Olympic years. It is scheduled for Stockholm next year.On Saturday, the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Nova Scotia were called off.——4 p.m. ——3:20 p.m.Skiing officials have called off the last races of the women’s Alpine skiing World Cup because of public health concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus.The decision to call off the three-day event in Are, Sweden, hands Federica Brignone of Italy the overall title and denies Mikaela Shiffrin a return to racing this season.Brignone becomes the first Italian women’s overall champion in the 53-year history of the World Cup. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the coronavirus outbreak’s affect on sports around the globe (all times EDT):9:17 P.M.The Southeastern Conference has joined the rest of the Power Five leagues in closing off its men’s basketball tournament to fans. Italian soccer, along with all other sports in the country, has been suspended until April 3.___6:15 p.m.The Columbus Blue Jackets are the first National Hockey League team to say they’ll hold home games without fans in the stands.The Blue Jackets announced their game Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins would be limited “to home and visiting club personnel, credentialed media and broadcast partners, essential club and arena staff and NHL officials. The games will be closed to the public.” Two college athletic conferences in the northeastern United States have canceled the bulk of their athletic events for the remainder of the academic year.The Ivy League says all athletic practices and events have been canceled, while the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference says it’s canceling conference play for all spring sports.The decisions come as colleges and universities place increasing restrictions on student gatherings in hopes of limiting the spread of the coronavirus.“Given this situation, it is not feasible for practice and competition to continue,” the Ivy League said in a statement.The Princeton, New Jersey-based league says the decision by member university presidents to scrap all practices and competitions was unanimous. ___8:57 p.m.The crowd late in the Big 12 first-round game between Iowa State and Oklahoma State booed loudly when the public address announcer read a prepared statement on the tournament being played without fans beginning with the quarterfinal round Thursday.The league made the decision shortly before tip-off of Wednesday night’s game. It had considered barring fans from the first-round games, including a nightcap between TCU and Kansas State, before deciding that such a decision made so close to the start of the games would have caused more harm than help.The quartet of games Thursday will be played with only university staff members, 125 friends and family from each team, credentialed media and essential arena employees. Pep bands, cheerleaders and dance teams will not be allowed. Shiffrin, the defending overall champion, had announced earlier Wednesday that she would compete at the event after taking a six-week break from the sport following the death of her father.During her absence, Shiffrin lost her lead in the overall standings to Brignone, who is 153 points ahead of the American. There would have been a total of 300 points up for grabs in the last three races.The International Ski Federation announced the cancellation less than 24 hours before the first race, Thursday’s parallel giant slalom.Next week’s World Cup finals for both women and men in Cortina d’Ampezzo already had been canceled because of the virus outbreak in northern Italy.—— DeWine says the order will include banning spectators from games and that he’ll be asking people to make “informed decisions.”During a news conference Wednesday, DeWine said he will issue an order in the next 24 to 36 hours. Dayton will host the NCAA’s First Four next week at Dayton Arena, and first- and second-round games will be held in Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.“The order will be that there cannot be spectators there,” DeWine said. “There certainly will be people — there will be TV people, there can be radio people there, there can be sports writers, certainly can be the media there. But we’re not going to have the large crowd.”DeWine applauded the Mid-American Conference for closing its tournament games to the general public this week.— Reporting by Tom Withers At the Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis, attendance starting Thursday will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams.The Big 12 policy also will be in place for its women’s tournament, which begins Thursday night in Kansas City.“The attempt is to absolutely minimize the number of people here but still find a way to conduct events and actually get the opportunity to play games,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsy said.—Reporting by Dave Skretta___ ITF President David Haggerty said “we are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision, but we will not risk the safety and welfare of players, captains, event staff or spectators.” The Fed Cup finals features a new format this year with 12 teams competing in four groups before a knockout phase. The United States is set to play Spain and Slovakia in Group C.——2:35 p.m.An exhibition baseball game in San Francisco between the Giants and Oakland Athletics has been canceled because of the virus outbreak. – Reporting by Jenna Fryer——4:25 p.m.A global esports league with teams in North America, Europe and Asia is canceling all matches through March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic.The Overwatch League launched an ambitious home-and-away schedule for its 20 franchises in February but already had postponed all events in China and South Korea due to the outbreak. The league announced the latest cancellations in a statement Wednesday. — Reporting by Josh Dubow___1:20 p.m.One of college basketball’s postseason invitational tournaments has been canceled.Organizers of the College Basketball Invitational, widely known as the CBI, say they’ve decided to cancel this year’s event because of the “uncertainty about the coronavirus and the impact it is having on college campuses across the country.” 4:40 p.m.NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in the arenas because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus.Emmert said in a statement Wednesday he made the decision to conduct both the men’s and women’s tournaments, which begin next week, with only essential staff and limited family in attendance.___4:30 p.m. 6:40 p.m.Italian soccer club Juventus says one of its players, defender Daniele Rugani, has tested positive for COVID-19.Rugani, who also plays for the Italian national team, is the first player in the country’s top soccer division to test positive.Juventus, which has won the last eight Serie A titles, announced the result on its website and social media channels.The club says Rugani and those known to have had contact with him are being isolated. March 11, 2020 Oakland is scheduled to host the Minnesota Twins for a four-game series beginning March 26, and then the Houston Astros are set to play their first road series following the club’s sign-stealing scandal on March 30-31 at the Coliseum.The Giants earlier in the day announced they wouldn’t play a scheduled exhibition game against the A’s at Oracle Park on March 24.—Reporting by Janie McCauley.___8 p.m. The Ivy League says individual institutions may still decide whether winter sports teams or athletes who’ve qualified for postseason play may continue to participate.——5:25 p.m.Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew says it’s “sad” that college coaches and players in the NCAA Tournament won’t get to experience the excitement that a fan presence adds to the games.Drew says it also will be an adjustment for coaches who now have to prepare for an environment similar to the scrimmages they conduct during the preseason. He notes that players won’t have the excuse that they can’t hear coaches’ instructions. The decision comes in response to Ohio Gov. DeWine’s announcement that he is issuing an order regarding “mass gatherings,” include a ban on spectators at sports events.The Blue Jackets said the new restrictions for home games will be in effect for as long as the state of Ohio’s mandate on large gatherings.— Reporting by Mitch Stacy.___6:05 p.m. The league’s players come from countries around the globe. OWL says it is “considering the various options available to esports.”Blizzard Entertainment, which operates the Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues, said scheduling considerations also are being addressed for the latter.——4:10 p.m.The World Figure Skating Championships set for next week in Montreal have been canceled due to public health concerns related to the spread of the new coronavirus. The Latest: SEC joins rest of Power 5 in keeping fans away Boys’ and girls’ basketball tournaments in New York and Pennsylvania have been disrupted because several schools have declined to host games, forcing them to be rescheduled.– Reporting by Eric Olson——3:45 p.m.Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he will be issuing an order regarding “mass gatherings” due to the coronavirus that will affect NCAA Tournament games in Cleveland and Dayton. The Bay Area teams were set to play at Oracle Park on March 24. That was two days before the start of the regular season in Major League Baseball. The announcement came Wednesday after the San Francisco mayor banned gatherings of 1,000 or more people.___2:30 p.m.San Francisco is banning all large gatherings of more than 1,000 people for the next two weeks and the Golden State Warriors intend to play at least one home game without fans. The tournament is played at campus sites for teams that aren’t invited to the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.The statement issued Wednesday says officials look forward to bringing back the CBI in 2021.___1 p.m.The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told a congressional committee Wednesday that he would recommend the NBA not allow fans at games in response to the coronavirus. Mayor London Breed announced the ban Wednesday. She says she understands the order “is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health.” She says the Warriors are in support of the efforts, and the team announced it would host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night with no fans, making it the first NBA game set to be played in an empty arena.The Warriors’ next home game after that is March 25 against Atlanta.Golden State also said all events through March 21 would be canceled or postponed. The G League Santa Cruz Warriors were set to host the Austin Spurs on Saturday, but that will be moved to Santa Cruz.Fans will receive refunds, the team said.— Reporting by Janie McCauley Stanford is still willing to host the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with a strict limit on spectators if selected to do so next week.The school in Northern California said Wednesday that all sporting events on campus will be closed to the public through May 15 or until further notice in response to the spread of the new coronavirus.Only participants, coaches, working staff, officials, credentialed media and a very limited number of family members, friends and guests of the competing teams will be allowed to attend. Santa Clara County announced a ban earlier this week of gatherings of more than 1,000 people.The seventh-ranked Cardinal were expected to be picked as a host for the tournament that starts March 20. The top 16 teams are picked as hosts of the opening two rounds.The NCAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. NASCAR and IndyCar plan to race as scheduled this weekend, with IndyCar continuing to move ahead with its season-opening race through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.The three-day downtown street festival draws about 130,000 people. There will be additional hand-washing and sanitizing stations.NASCAR will race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but said officials Wednesday all driver interviews will be done with the drivers either on risers or with 6-foot buffers around them. The pre-race driver meeting will be held in open-air locations and attendance will be restricted to drivers, crew chiefs, team owners and select officials and dignitaries.The promoters of the Long Beach Grand Prix, scheduled for April outside of Los Angeles, said Wednesday the race is still planned.Roger Penske, readying for his first Indianapolis 500 as owner of the race, told The Associated Press by text message he’s approaching the scheduled May 24 race “day by day” while noting the 500 is nearly 90 days away. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a ban on all large gatherings in the three counties of the Seattle metro area through at least the end of March.That decision affects the Seattle Mariners’ first seven games of the season, when they host the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins. It also applies to home games for the MLS Seattle Sounders, XFL Seattle Dragons and a pair of junior hockey teams in the area.The restrictions do not include Spokane, where NCAA Tournament games are scheduled to take place next week. The men’s first and second rounds are being played at the Spokane Arena, while early rounds of the women’s tournament could end up being played on campus at Gonzaga.___1:35 p.m. Drew and some players spoke after No. 5 Baylor practiced Wednesday in preparation for the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, where teams learned of NCAA President Mark Emmert’s decision to restrict attendance of the NCAA postseason events. Emmert says only essential staff and limited family members will be permitted to attend the games. The decision applies to more than just men’s and women’s basketball. All NCAA-sponsored championships including hockey’s Frozen Four will be affected.Baylor guard Devonte Bandoo says it’s “shocking” and “really unfortunate” that fans will be barred from the NCAA Tournament. He calls it a “reality check.”Drew says he suspects playing in an empty arena will adequately address public health concerns and that he’s not concerned at this point about the possibility of games being canceled.— Reporting by Dave Skretta——-
By Alan BaldwinMONACO,(Reuters)-Lewis Hamilton declared himself ‘devastated’ on Saturday after failing to qualify his Mercedes in the top half of the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix.The disappointment of setting only the 14th fastest time, even if he will start the race in 13th place, was crushing on a sunny afternoon when the Briton’s Ferrari rivals swept the front row.So much so, that he stayed in the car long after it had been pushed back into the team’s garage at the end of the second session.“I get over things relatively quick but I was devastated after the session,” the triple world champion, who is six points behind Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel after five races, told reporters.“To the point that I couldn’t get out of the car.“Everyone’s working back at the factory so hard and they rely on me to get it together and today somehow I wasn’t able to,” added the two-times Monaco winner.Hamilton, whose team mate Valtteri Bottas qualified third behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel, said he had been unable to get the tyres working in the required temperature window.The fact that Bottas had clearly managed to do so, as was the case in Russia where the Finn took his first Formula One race win on a day of struggle for Hamilton, made it all the more galling.“At the moment it is a big unknown but a lot of analysis will go into trying to understand it. It is a tyre issue, I didn’t get the grip from the tyres,” said Hamilton.“We had a little bit of a similar scenario in Sochi, particularly on my side.”Hamilton said it was baffling how one car could have the tyres working and the other not, and hoped Bottas could win on Sunday to limit the damage on a track where overtaking is extremely difficult.The rules have changed this year, with wider cars and fatter tyres, and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff described the Mercedes as a “bit of a diva” when it came to getting into the performance window.“You can see that on his lap, the car drops in and drops out,” he said. “Unfortunately mostly out of it.”Hamilton had said earlier in the week that he liked the challenge of a car that was difficult to drive and that he likened to a bull or bucking bronco.“It’s the same kind of feeling when you get in this car. It’s not easy but it’s a challenge,” he had said. “There are cars in the past that have been beautiful to drive and have been a lot easier to set up. I like that this is a challenge.”
Comments Just days after they had both committed separately to play safety for Syracuse on Jan. 23, 2009, Phillip Thomas and Rishard Anderson met at 3261 SW 160th Ave. in Miramar, Fla. At a Benihana. It was there at the sushi bar the two future SU defensive backs got to know each other.They exchanged phone numbers. They discovered they had some of the same friends, thanks to the 18 miles that separated their hometowns. And for the first time, Thomas and Anderson –– who both stand at 6 feet and are only separated by 6 pounds –– were able to size up in person their prime competition for playing time in the Orange secondary.‘It was like I already knew him, basically,’ Anderson said after practice Monday. ‘Same lifestyle, same friends.’Flash forward 14 months, and the two mirror-image defensive backs are competing against one another for a starting position at cornerback. The two rising sophomores have been splitting reps through the first half of spring practice at the No. 2 cornerback position in perhaps the most tightly contested position battle of the spring for the Orange.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe first week of practice, Thomas saw the majority of the snaps with the first-team defense opposite No. 1 corner Da’Mon Merkerson. Throughout the second week, Anderson had his turn with the first team. And Monday, the first day of the third week of practice, it was more of the same. Thomas lined up at corner 31 times during the last half of practice. Anderson lined up at the same No. 2 corner spot 41 times. Thomas also shared time on the field with Anderson at a safety position when SU switched to its ‘Okie’ dime defense.As of Monday, both were still jockeying for that starting spot.‘Really, I’m not disappointed with any of the players who are playing in the defensive backfield,’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said. ‘All we are trying to do is create that versatility because we go in with two types of packages.’Thomas and Anderson head into their sophomore years a little more than a year after that sushi dinner with game experience as freshmen last fall. Thomas saw much more time on the field, as the Miami native started three out of 11 games played in 2009, registering 29 tackles in the process. Anderson played in seven games and recorded six tackles.Through the first two weeks of spring practice, the battle between Anderson and Thomas at the cornerback position has epitomized best what Marrone has preached every day at practice. It’s the same thing he harped on last week after Thomas got into a fight with tight end Nick Provo: ‘Be competitive, but not combative.’Between each other, Thomas and Anderson have come up with their own mantra. Each recited it multiple times after practice Monday. It’s advice they trade throughout their fight for the No. 2 cornerback position: ‘May the best man win.’At practice on Monday, both Thomas and Anderson played like the same man, like two 6-foot, 180-pound mirror-images from southeast Florida. Over the course of the last hour and a half of practice, the receivers both Thomas and Anderson matched up against were thrown to just a handful of times.Only once was either Anderson or Thomas burned deep from that cornerback position. Anderson gave up a 40-yard reception to transfer wide receiver Aaron Weaver. But Anderson made up for it several plays later, as he recovered to bat a pass out of rising junior wide receiver Marcus Sales’ hands.‘At first, it was like we had to be brothers because we both came in together,’ Thomas said. ‘We didn’t know what was going to happen.’If you ask Syracuse’s No. 1 receiver, Alec Lemon, he’ll tell you the same thing Thomas and Anderson recite. To Lemon, Thomas and Anderson resemble each other. Sometimes, even too much for the rising sophomore Lemon to realize the difference at the line of scrimmage.For the receiver, it has become the equivalent of a guessing game.‘With them switching in and out it’s kind of hard,’ Lemon said. ‘Going to the left side, I see Da’Mon Merkerson, and then going to the right side, I see (Thomas). And the next series I’m coming in and seeing (Anderson). So with them coming in, I give them each a different technique.’But once Lemon breaks his teammates down, the differences between Anderson and Thomas finally begin to surface. The mirror reflecting the two defensive backs from Florida becomes a little foggier.Lemon notes that Thomas, his roommate, forces receivers to the outside more, always shading them to the sideline, whereas Anderson plays Lemon straight up. Lemon also cites Thomas’ strength –– especially his hand strength –– as an attribute. Anderson’s greatest attribute, Lemon feels, is his quick feet. It is that pair of quick feet for Anderson that allows the cornerback to face Lemon at a straight 180-degree angle. It’s a distinct difference in angles between the two that keeps Lemon on his toes as he shifts his technique when lined up against Thomas versus Anderson.It is that element of surprise between Thomas and Anderson that the two cornerbacks hope will enable them both to see a large majority of time on the field this fall.‘At the end of the day, we are both going to go out and play,’ Anderson said. ‘Just because one of us is starting doesn’t mean the other one isn’t going to play. So let the best man win.’But there it is again, that mantra between Thomas and Anderson of the ‘best man winning.’And by the start of the 2010 season, there has to be a ‘best man’ who will have won the spot. With the return of injured rising senior safety Max Suter, injured rising junior cornerback Kevyn Scott and rising sophomore defensive back Dorian Graham, the fate of both Thomas and Anderson is cut and dry.Only one can start at cornerback.But until that decision is made, both Thomas and Anderson will recite the same thing to each other.Said Anderson: ‘Like Phillip said, may the best man win.’email@example.com Published on April 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+
Comments Published on March 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: firstname.lastname@example.org | @Michael_Cohen13 Facebook Twitter Google+ PITTSBURGH – Kansas State held forward Jamar Samuels out of Saturday’s 75-59 loss to top-seeded Syracuse on Saturday to due to an eligibility concern.Athletic Director John Currie addressed the media minutes before tipoff in the secondary training room inside Consol Energy Center to announce that Samuels, a fifth-year senior, would be unavailable for the game.Currie said the situation with Samuels was one that arose rapidly within the past 24 hours and that the school is working as quickly and diligently as possible to resolve it.Currie declined to comment on the specifics of the matter, but he did say that NCAA is involved.He also did not comment on whether or not their could be retroactive punishment handed out to Kansas State for games Samuels has already played in.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘Jamar is one of the greatest kids I’ve been around, OK?’ KSU head coach Frank Martin said after the game. ‘What took place, as we found out last night, was completely unfortunate. As a university, we have to take a stance and protect our university. Unfortunately, it put him in a tough spot.’Martin also declined to comment on any details of the situation. He said he was not involved in the decision-making process.‘He’s, in my opinion, done nothing wrong,’ Martin said. ‘You always have to err on the side of caution and not do something and look back on it and then regret your decision.’Samuels was in attendance for Kansas State’s game against Syracuse on Saturday, and the Wildcats missed his scoring and rebounding. Samuels averaged 10 points per game this season, second on the team, and he was also the Wildcats leading rebounder at 6.6 per game.‘He’s our toughest kid,’ Martin said. ‘He gives us the ability to make some shots against that zone. It gives us a frontline guy who’s a fifth-year senior to deal with the adjustments that you got to make during the course of the game.’In his place was freshman Thomas Gipson. The 6-foot-7, 275-pound Gipson finished the game with eight points and eight rebounds. He struggled offensively, though, shooting just 2-of-9 from the field and missing several layups around the rim. He also struggled at the free-throw line, where he went 4-of-8.And when starting forward Jordan Henriquez got into foul trouble, it meant the Wildcats had one less big man to rely on inside.Martin, who became teary-eyed while discussing his fifth-year senior, said he spoke with Samuels and told him that if this were the worst thing to ever happen to him, he would be one of the luckiest people on the planet.When asked how the loss of Samuels affected the game, Martin compared it to the play of SU point guard Scoop Jardine. Jardine, a fifth-year senior for the Orange, dominated the second half and led his team to a win with 16 total points and eight assists.‘That’s why when you asked me about Jamar, you know, we lose our fifth-year senior, their fifth-year senior made the difference in the game,’ Martin said. ‘We didn’t lose because we lost Jamar. Let me get that straight now, because Syracuse is minus a very good player, too. We just lost the toughest guy on our team.’Kansas State shooting guard Rodney McGruder, who wound up leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15 points, said he was saddened by the loss of his teammate. Especially considering it would have been Samuels’ final game in a K-State uniform.‘It was tough playing without him, especially one of our seniors. He’s one of the main leaders of the team,’ McGruder said. ‘It was just tough, you know. It’s tough that he would never get to play another game in a Kansas State uniform. He missed his last game.’email@example.com
CLEMSON, S.C. — Before the game even reached halftime, students on the hill and in the bleachers that make up the student section were already heading for the exits. No. 3 Clemson (9-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast) mauled Syracuse (4-5, 2-3), 54-0, in Death Valley. By halftime, the Tigers were already ahead 30-0.The Orange lost starting quarterback Eric Dungey to injury resulting from an apparent hit to the head. He didn’t return to the game.Here are three quick reactions to the game.Back to square oneThe defense that Syracuse displayed in its last two games — wins over then-No.17 Virginia Tech and Boston College — seemed to be new and improved. It came up with big stops and turnovers instead of being gouged for big scores. But Saturday’s squad looked more like the unit that showed up for SU’s first four FBS games.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textClemson recorded its three longest drives of the season on three consecutive touchdown drives in the first half. They went 95, 89 and 86 yards. The Tigers finished the first half with 396 yards, its best total of the season.Clemson quarterback and Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson left the game with an injury with two drives left in the first half, but backup Nick Schuessler still led the Tigers 55 yards in his first full drive that was cut short by the nearing of the end of the half by a missed field goal.Watson finished 13-of-16 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 39 yards and a score.In the first half, Clemson had 13 chunk plays — seven passes that went for more than 15 yards and six runs of more than 10 yards.Once the Tigers scored on their first drive of the second half, the Orange started sending in some backup defenders for significant playing time, including Scoop Bradshaw and Evan Foster.The replacementWhen Dungey was knocked out of the game in the first quarter, it was Austin Wilson, not Zack Mahoney to take over quarterbacking duties. Mahoney had been the only other quarterback to appear this season for SU and is listed as the backup on the depth chart.Wilson went 17-for-27 and 116 yards and two interceptions in his three-quarter appearance.With Wilson at the helm, the Orange’s playbook slimmed down to mostly handoffs, screens and slants, with few throws downfield. He was largely inaccurate on throws past the line of scrimmage, tossing them out of reach and often out of bounds.The offensive line crumbled under the weight of Clemson’s defensive line, resulting in several plays with Wilson on the ground.His best throw came with 7:56 left in the game when he found receiver Amba Etta-Tawo along the sideline for a first down. Wilson ran away from pressure to the left and threw across his body for the 20-yard completion. But he followed it up with his worst of the game, a screen pass that looked to be destined for Sean Riley but instead hit off a player’s leg and was returned for a touchdown.That would be Wilson’s last play of the day.Wide rightWhen Cole Murphy drove a 30-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter to the right of the uprights, he extended a rough patch that has been plaguing him for the last six games. In that time, he’s missed seven of his nine field goal attempts.Murphy headed to the sideline and paced the length of it while Clemson went the other way to score a touchdown. Murphy consulted with punter Sterling Hofrichter before hanging his head and he trudged around and took shortened fake kicks in stride.Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said during his press conference on Monday that he’s sticking with Murphy despite the slump. Comments Published on November 5, 2016 at 6:58 pm Contact Jon: firstname.lastname@example.org | @jmettus Facebook Twitter Google+
On the final day to declare for the NFL Draft, junior cornerback Adoree’ Jackson announced that he will forego his senior season to enter the professional league.Known for his explosive performances on both sides of the ball, Jackson led the team in punt returns, kick returns and interceptions in his final season. He totalled over 1,000 yards off of returns alone, dazzling fans and teammates alike with his leaping dashes from one end zone to the other. His impact off the field was equally renowned. Whether it was turning backflips during practice or wearing the red “C” of a captain into every game, Jackson’s presence was felt throughout the team.Jackson’s decision was closely watched following the Rose Bowl, as he posted cryptically on social media about his chances to return to win the Heisman or the National Championship. The announcement comes after junior wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster decided to enter the draft as well.It also comes on the heels of an ankle injury in the third quarter of the Rose Bowl that kept Jackson off the field for the remainder of the game. Though the injury did not keep the Trojans from their last-minute defeat over Penn State, it weighed into how Jackson viewed the decision to stay or go.“After the Rose Bowl, I had many thoughts running through my head,” Jackson said. “What was on my mind is that nothing is guaranteed in life and to take advantage of every opportunity that is put in front of you.”At USC, Jackson also excelled as a track athlete, winning the Pac-12 Championship in long jump and anchoring the 4 x 100 meter team to fourth place in the NCAA Championship meet. That team’s final time of 38.75 remains the second-fastest in school history. Despite his revered status as a Trojan, Jackson’s draft stock is widely debated. A mock draft by Walter Football puts him at first overall, while Bleacher Report drops him out of the first round at 60th overall. The ultimate decision won’t be made until April 28th.The possibility that Jackson would leave a year early was well-known throughout the Trojan fanbase, and his final game in the Coliseum was filled with rumbling chants of “One more year.” Although he couldn’t give the fans what they wanted, Jackson left them with the second-best thing — a Rose Bowl victory and a legacy that will be impossible to forget anytime soon.“It’s been an incredible three years playing for one of the greatest traditions in college football,” Jackson said. “I made the best decision of my life when I chose to come to USC, and finishing it off with a Rose Bowl win is one of the best ways I could ever hoped for it to end. Being a Trojan was the best time of my life and I’ll never ever forget my time here at USC.”