17 Sep
2020

Holt: Badgers better off avoiding icy new Big Ten

first_imgOut on the other side of the Midwest, Penn State alum Terry Pegula donated $88 million – according to the Times-Tribune, the largest private gift in PSU history – to the PSU to fund and create a Division I men’s hockey program.Back in Madison, Badger Bob Johnson is rolling in his grave. The hockey program still can’t get the required gift funding for its proposed practice facility – in April they were $2 million short in that category. And PSU gets $88 million from one person.So instead, Captain Sean Dolan and the men’s hockey team will continue to ride their mopeds along the icy stretches of John Nolan Drive to get to practice. The six-time national champion Badgers practice in the Humanities building of practice facilities; that ice rink is the “Arrested Development” movie of proposed buildings.Back to Penn State though. The Nittany Lions now become the second-largest school behind Ohio State to field a Division I hockey program. They also become the sixth Big Ten school to field a D-I hockey program, along with Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.The NCAA requires a minimum of six teams to form a conference.Anyone hungry for a Big Ten of ice hockey?I hope not.For the uninitiated, Wisconsin competes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), along with traditional rival Minnesota. The WCHA is also home two of the three schools that own more national titles than the Badgers, in Denver and North Dakota.The UM, MSU and OSU men’s teams are in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, with other notable teams being Miami of Ohio and Notre Dame. Ohio State’s women’s team is in the WCHA.But with Penn State giving the nation’s oldest conference a half-dozen teams, there’s a lot of talk about the Big Ten schools jumping ship for, well, the Big Ten. Clearly the conference isn’t concerned about numerical accuracy anymore. There’s a lot of talk that various athletic directors – including UW’s Barry Alvarez – are in favor of the possibility of a hockey version of the Big Ten.I want to ask, “Why?,” but I already know why.The Big Ten is a marketable brand, which could form a new set of hockey brands, now that one of its biggest brands in Penn State has now joined the fray. The Big Ten network would love to fill its Friday and Saturday night slots with hockey games, if it means viewers and money.But from a hockey standpoint, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.Right now, the Badgers have a cozy position in the WCHA – which is essentially to college hockey what the SEC is to college football. The Badgers play top competition week in and week out, and that means a lot when the postseason rolls around, as evidenced in this past springs’ awarding of No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament to Denver and Wisconsin, despite neither winning their conference tourney.That’s not to give Michigan, which leads the nation with nine national championships in men’s hockey, or Michigan State, which owns three titles of its own, the shaft. But Ohio State’s hockey team – now in the very capable hands of former Badgers assistant Mark Osiecki – is essentially dead weight for now, and the other big-name teams in the CCHA, Miami and Notre Dame, wouldn’t be making the jump.This Big Ten of hockey would conceivably have the Badgers, Gophers and Wolverines beating each other up on the weekends they’re not feasting on the Nittany Lion Cubs and the Buckeyes. Not an ideal situation, methinks.And if Big Ten hockey expands to say, Illinois, sure, that adds more teams. There’s talk of setting those plans in motion as well. But how long before these new teams are actually competitive? I have to guess that most of the top talent in those states will still flock to the DUs and BCs of the nation, rather than spend two to four years trying to build a program from the ground up.It’s not like this is basketball or football, where there are recruits flooding in from every which direction. Hockey is still a niche sport. Most of the top recruits are going to come from Minnesota, Michigan and New England. Canadian recruits are a bit more rare, since most college-aged Canadian hockey players can play major-junior hockey in Canada and get paid to do it – it’s considered a better path to the NHL by some.Long story short, I don’t think there are enough quality hockey players to make a hypothetical Big Ten the juggernaut Jim Delany might want it to be.A Big Ten in hockey would also inevitably have some ripple effects on the college hockey world as a whole. We all saw this summer what kinds of messes arise when conferences are trying to add members or deal with departing members.Sure, Big Ten teams could play lots of their rivalry games out of conference (Minnesota-North Dakota, Ohio State-Miami, for example), but how many small CCHA teams are going to suffer because Michigan fans are no longer guaranteed to be flocking to their schools for the weekend?Hockey East wouldn’t suffer much from a Big Ten exodus. The WCHA would probably remain the strongest conference, even with Minnesota and Wisconsin gone – that’s how strong DU, CC and UND are.In the end, it’s really only the Big Ten schools that end up losing. Is it worth it to burn bridges and lower overall competition to spend a few years nurturing a brand new league? If you’re anyone in the conference but Penn State, I venture the answer is no.Adam is a senior majoring in journalism. Think a Big Ten of hockey would be exciting, or should UW just stay put? Email him at aholt@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

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17 Sep
2020

USC frontcourt remains full of questions, potential

first_imgFollow us on Twitter @dailytrojan With the end of football season just around the corner, the Trojan faithful will now be turning their attention to the USC men’s basketball team.Athletic Director Pat Haden made a huge splash in April in hiring head coach Andy Enfield to replace the fired Kevin O’Neill and, hopefully, change the direction of the flailing basketball program.The move received mixed reviews, with some looking at the hire as a glorified publicity stunt for a program that has struggled to fill the Galen Center seats and others believing Enfield’s high-octane offense will translate well to the Pac-12.One thing is absolutely for certain, though — this USC basketball season will be one to watch.Senior center Omar Oraby shined at times last season, mostly coming off the bench in O’Neill’s slowed-down system, but seemed to struggle in critical moments. Still, his 7-foot-2 frame cannot be ignored in the bruising Pac-12, so fans should expect his minutes to increase, and for the Rice transfer to play a dominant role on this year’s squad.The Cairo, Egypt native averaged a respectable 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in just over 14 minutes per game. His real presence, however, was felt on the defensive end, where he averaged 1.5 blocks per contest.Though Oraby should enter the season as the Trojans’ starting center, questions remain about how he will fare in Enfield’s new offensive system.“I’ve been working in the offseason very hard on my conditioning and my quickness,” Oraby said. “My main focus was to get my conditioning better and to start and stay in the game as long as I can.”Oraby seems to be settled in as the team’s most dangerous low-post presence, but it is not clear who Enfield and his staff will select to join him in the frontcourt as the starter at power forward.Sophomore forward Strahinja  Gavrilovic seems to be the early favorite, as the Serbia native made some impressive strides this summer.Last season, Gavrilovic appeared in just six games, but has shown that he has a very potent inside-out game. His three-point range is especially intriguing, as it could make him a great tandem play with Oraby, who does most of his work deep in the post on the low block.“I like Coach Enfield’s system, especially because I’m prepared to run,” Gavrilovic said. “I like how he plays me in the four-spot. He wants me to spread the floor [and] to shoot threes. I have more opportunities here in this system.”In addition to Gavrilovic, a pair of freshman forwards in Roschon Prince and Nikola Jovanovic will also be given an opportunity early in the season to compete for minutes and potentially grab a starting spot.Prince comes to USC after an extremely heralded prep career that saw him earn the Gatorade High School Player of the Year award for the state of California as a senior. During his time at perennial powerhouse Long Beach Polytechnic High School, Prince established himself as an extremely aggressive player on both ends of the floor, and is expected to make an impact on the program for years to come.Whereas Prince excels at the dirty work inside the paint, Jovanovic prefers to utilize his quickness and technique to cause mismatches for opposing teams. At 6-foot-10, he will be taller than most of the power forwards who try to guard him, and he is already known as one of the better shooters on the team.“I like to score and rebound. Somehow I am always in the right place at the right time,” Jovanovic said. “I will shoot the three-point shot whenever I have a chance.”For now, Enfield might be coy about who he wants in his starting lineup, but one thing is for certain — he’s promising fun and excitement, and he wants the fans to come out and show support, regardless of who starts at forward or any other position.“I think our whole team is exciting,” Enfield said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, so the student and fan experience should be awesome.”The Trojans’ season opener is  on Friday against Utah State in Logan, Utah. The team opens at home Nov. 12 against Cal State Northridge at the Galen Center.last_img read more

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28 Aug
2020

TECNO supports Michael Essien Game of Hope charity match

first_imgTECNO Ghana, the world’s leading dual sim mobile phone manufacturer is partnering the Michael Essien Foundation’s June 8 Game of Hope Charity Match at the Accra Sports Stadium.At a formal press interaction held at the company’s corporate offices at Odorkor, Accra, officials announced that they are delighted to come aboard the initiative.“Working in partnership with the foundation brings together two entities that believe in the same thing – the youth of today,” Jocelene Buckman, Head of Marketing and Communication, TECNO Ghana said.“Michael Essien, as you all know is a sports icon not just in Africa but in the world at large. As the AU ambassador for sports he represents hard work, determination and resilience.“He is an inspiration to our youth, who can see that it is not just enough to dream, but one must be prepared to work hard to achieve it,” she added.The Game of Hope, Buckman said “is here to inspire the youth in our communities, to give them a future to look forward to. A future full of hope and aspiration, a future where everyone has the opportunity not only to dream but to see that dream become reality. And that is what TECNO is about.” What TECNO seeks to achieve with this partnership, Buckman further noted, is to “empower the young African to experience the smart life”. “Paying attention to the youth is our way of giving back to society.”This is not the first time the two entities are working together. Two years ago, TECNO sponsored the foundation’s charity outreach programme at Awutu Breku, in the Central Region, where Essien hails from.Ms Akosua Puni, a representative of the MEF thanked officials of TECNO Ghana for their support, adding that the foundation is pleased to have them as strategic partners.She lauded them for buying into the MEF’s vision, and also called for greater collaboration between the two, adding that her outfit is ready to go the long haul with TECNO.A successful company, TECNO is headquartered in Hong Kong, with research and development centres in France and Korea, as well as an operations unit in Dubai.last_img read more

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