LOOKING UP: Digna Strautmane’s indecisiveness prevents her from becoming the player SU thinks she can be

first_img Published on November 2, 2018 at 11:24 am Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarez,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. Quentin Hillsman and Adeniyi Amadou spent the summer of 2017 scouting the FIBA U20 European Championship, waiting. The pair tuned in to further evaluate five-star Latvian-forward Digna Strautmane, the gem of Syracuse’s 2017 recruiting class. Hillsman and Amadou saw games trickle into the fourth quarter with the score tight, expecting Strautmane to rise above feeble competition. She was usually the best player on the court. ESPN’s HoopGurlz ranked her the fifth best forward in the 2017 class. Yet, in crunch time, Strautmane passed instead of shot. She involved her teammates, forgoing one-on-one matchups. She finished the tournament averaging 18.7 points, 7.4 boards and 2.1 assists. She performed well, Amadou remembers, but she never took over. Without knowing it, Strautmane confirmed the suspicions of her soon-to-be coaches: She’s selfless, maybe to a fault.“I understand what they want,” Strautmane said, “but when the game comes it’s some misunderstanding.” AdvertisementThis is placeholder textStrautmane, one of SU’s five returning starters, is the representation of the “balance” that Hillsman will strive to create in his 3-point shooting, post presence offense. With the exception of center Amaya Finklea-Guity, each member of the frontcourt will be expected to attack the paint and shoot 3s, both areas in which Strautmane’s indecisiveness plagued her last season. The dichotomy of her game reveals itself whenever she holds the ball: her help-everyone mindset distinguishes her as a leader off the court, but an inefficient scorer on it. Realizing her potential could lead Syracuse to a deep NCAA tournament run. Her coaches think the 2018-19 campaign could be Strautmane’s time, but it remains uncertain. “We’ve known that all along that it would be her (decision-making) she has to work and develop,” Amadou, SU’s assistant and frontcourt coach, said. “It might be a three-year process, we don’t know.”,Strautmane developed in an environment where her selflessness was rewarded. In her hometown of Riga, Latvia, Strautmane’s sister, Paula, called her an “artsy kid.” Strautmane sung and danced before she stepped on the basketball court. She only gave up when her dance teacher told her she was too uncoordinated. Anda Pauliņa, her neighbor, dragged an eight-year-old Strautmane to a basketball practice months later.One game, players rotated in based on their placement on the bench. Whoever exited the game took a seat at the end of the bench. Everyone else slid over one seat. When Strautmane reached the seat next to Inita Eglite, her coach, Eglite stared at her youngest, least-talented athlete and picked someone else. The next time a player came off the floor, Strautmane dropped to her knees and begged for minutes. Lanky and two years younger than her teammates, Strautmane couldn’t find the court. When she did, Strautmane executed the right passes and kept the ball moving, fearful she’d return to the bench if she made a mistake.By the end of her ninth-grade season, Strautmane’s ability caught up with her frame, and coaches in the United States called. BlueStar Europe, a third-party recruiting service for international athletes and American high schools, invited Strautmane to a showcase in Denmark. Dan Bowmaker, the head of BSE, sold Strautmane on the dream of top-end athletic gear and competitive basketball. A few years earlier, not able to afford new basketball shoes, Strautmane attended 100-straight basketball practices to get a free pair of Reeboks. Strautmane saw a future in the US, like her sister did when she committed to Quinnipiac two years prior.Ainārs Čukste, Strautmane’s coach at the time, threatened to fight Bowmaker if he came to a practice to actively recruit Strautmane. She stayed in Latvia and committed to SU three years later. “There, you will play at the same level as all the other girls,” Strautmane recalled Čukste saying. “(In Latvia), you can improve better.”Her early days laid the foundation for the pass-first mentality the Orange spent last season eradicating. The Orange, down in the fourth quarter en route to its first home loss of the year against Virginia Tech on Feb. 1, ran the offense through Strautmane. She finished with a team-high 20 points, but it wasn’t good enough. In the fourth, Strautmane caught the ball on the right block and pivoted her feet. Her eyes swung around the court, searching for a white jersey. Hillsman nearly charged the court as Strautmane passed up a one-on-one opportunity. She wants her teammates to impact the game, sometimes at her, and SU’s, expense. Her worst performances coincided with the team’s worst losses. In Miami on Jan.18, SU lost by five with Strautmane scoring three points on 1-for-11 shooting. Versus Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament, she tied a season-low in minutes, knocking down one shot in the 84-57 season-ending blowout. “She’s so unselfish, she always wants to make the right basketball play,” Amadou said, “but there are times where the right basketball play requires you to be selfish. It’s hard to get her to understand the message sometimes because she has to step outside of her comfort zone as a human-being, almost.” Strautmane’s passiveness clashed with the defining principles of Hillsman’s offense: running the floor and shooting 3s. Syracuse called plays to generate open shots for its swing-four and watched her pass the ball immediately. Last season, Hillsman simply “guessed” what the then-freshman would do when open with the ball.Amadou recognized her footwork from behind-the-arc. She rarely caught the ball with the intention to shoot. Strautmane always looked for the open pass, neglecting her own free space. When she realized she had a shot, she rushed her footwork and the ball clanked off the rim time and again. Five Orange shooters totaled more than 100 3-point attempts. Of them, Strautmane posted the worst shooting percentage (21.3 percent on 29-for-136 tries). Coaches said Strautmane put in extra work, entering the gym at 5:30 a.m., but come tip-off she reverts back. “When she was decisive,” Hillsman said, “she was consistent. It’s about being more decisive in what she’s doing. She catches it, she’s open, she needs to shoot it.”Her international teammates warned her that the game speed in the U.S would be an adjustment. During SU’s first non-conditioning practice last season, Strautmane said she was overwhelmed. Mistakes piled up, and she turned to Amadou for one-on-one assistance. The training helped, allowing Strautmane to have a 67-point three-game stretch in conference play. When she rejoined her national team last September, she felt faster and stronger. Every summer, each player leaves with a list of things they can improve upon, Hillsman said. Shooting was at the top of Strautmane’s list. “She’s been great since she came back for her national team,” Hillsman said. “She’s been a different player. She’s shooting the ball well. She’s not hesitating when the ball hits her hands.”Strautmane was a rotation piece on Latvia’s FIBA World Cup team. She averaged 10 minutes in the squad’s three games and ceded shots to older, more-established shooters. On Sept. 22 against China, Latvia’s first game, Strautmane whipped the ball inside. The defense collapsed as she shifted to the left wing. She caught the ball with her feet squared toward the basket, eyes locked on the rim and swished it. For that one shot, she was the player Syracuse thinks she can be. Cover photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff Photographer Commentslast_img read more

Coursing postponed due to frost

first_imgTipperary trainer Michael O’Donovan has the clear favourite Timber House and second favourite Portane All In.He also has 3/1 joint favourite Manntan Maple going into the final day of the Oaks, while the Pat Curtin trained Windfarm Ivy is seen as the other main contender. Officials have made the decision to hold off on the final rounds of the Derby and the Oaks at this the 90th year of the event.It’s been re-fixed for next Sunday with a start time of 11.30 leaving a lot of coursing enthusiasts disheartened. They are down to the quarter-finals of the Derby with €35,000 on offer for the winner.last_img read more

Fantasy Baseball Busts: 2019 All-Overrated Team

first_imgOur All-Overrated team reflects the players at each position is most in danger of underperforming their their preseason rankings and average draft position. It is not, however, a list of players you should avoid entirely, so perhaps calling these guys “busts” is a little unfair. Ultimate, it should be used instead as a guide for where to tread carefully, perhaps dropping these players a tier or two and making note of them on your cheat sheet.Watch ChangeUp, a new MLB live whip-around show on DAZN Top MLB ProspectsCatcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Pitcher | Top 50Reliever: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers. Jansen declined by almost every metric last season and dealt with continued heart problems, which he had offseason surgery to correct but still remain a concern. He’s no longer a sure bet for a sub-3.00 or 40 saves, and there’s no reason for his ADP to be in the top 80.Reliever: Wade Davis, Rockies. There are plenty of red flags and little apparent upside for the 33-year-old right from a fantasy perspective. For the first time since becoming a full-time closer, Davis’ fastball averaged below 94 mph in 2018. His BABIP, meanwhile, stood at an unsustainable .238. Put those things together, consider he’ll again need to pitch at Coors Field, where any decline can be magnified tenfold, and understand you’re probably better off waiting on a closer until later in your draft. These players might have performed above their abilities in 2018 or come with heightened risk of injury. Every one of them seems, for one reason or another, like reaches at the slots they’re being taken. Though most fantasy teams will end up with a couple of red-flag draft picks like the ones below, you should consider balancing those risky selections with higher-floor options.MORE FANTASY BASEBALL: Ultimate 2019 cheat sheet | All-Sleeper Team2019 Fantasy Baseball Busts: All-Overrated TeamCatcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals. Molina has had two straight huge years at the plate, upping his power numbers while maintaining the solid batting average that has characterized his 15 big league seasons. The improved production coincides with an increased launch angle on his swing, meaning the home runs could be sustainable. But he’s going to turn 37 soon, and at some point playing more than 120 games behind the plate each year is going to catch up to him. It might be worth looking elsewhere if possible rather than get caught holding the bag at a scarce position.First base: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers. Bellinger has enjoyed back-to-back years of seemingly unsustainable fly-ball luck. As a rookie, 25 percent of his fly balls left the yard. Last year, 15 percent left the yard, a mark still above league average. His batted-ball profile, meanwhile, is nothing special, with Statcast grading him in the 55th percentile for hard-hit percentage, 55th percentile for expected slugging percentage, and 25th percentile for expected batting average. So, it would not be surprising for the first baseman, who also has outfield eligibility, to fall short of the 25 home runs he hit in 2018 and disappoint across the board. 2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Reliever | Top 300Second base: Dee Gordon, Mariners. The trouble with Gordon has always been his subpar plate approach, which minimizes his very best assets. His walk rate was a meager 1.5 percent in 2018 — one of the worst in MLB — and he posted an average exit velocity in the bottom one percent of the league. In the middle of his career, there’s little to indicate his hitting will improve anytime soon, meaning he’ll continue to miss out on the steal opportunities that are his lifeblood as a fantasy asset. For that reason, his top-110 ADP is probably too high.Shortstop: Adalberto Mondesi, Royals. Mondesi is boosted by his eligibility at such a precious position and star performance level in 2018, but he comes with significant red flags. He has very little MLB experience, playing in 147 career games, and he is part of one of the worst offenses in baseball, meaning his RBI and runs scored totals will be limited. While Royals manager Ned Yost has said he’s going to run Mondesi frequently, likely elevating his stolen base tally, it’s difficult to understand why his ADP is ahead of bonafide fantasy studs like Carlos Correa.2019 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Each teamThird base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays. Disclaimer: Vlad Jr. looks like he’s absolutely on track to become one of the best hitters in all of baseball. We believe he could wind up delivering an historic rookie campaign. With that said, his ADP of 47 might be a little too high in non-keeper formats, considering he’s expected to be held in the minors for the first few weeks of the season and has never played at the MLB level before. Guys ranked just behind him like Eugenio Suarez and Miguel Andujar are much safer selections who you can wait to pick.Outfielder: Starling Marte, Pirates. It’s tempting to pencil in Marte for another one of his high-steal, high-dinger campaigns considering he’s coming off a career-high 20 home runs to go with 33 stolen bases. A similar showing in 2019 would make his ADP of 41 look like fair value. But Statcast data shows his speed is starting to slip a little, and his power isn’t guaranteed. Proceed with caution here.Outfielder: Wil Myers, Padres. Myers has lasted 90 games in just two of his six MLB seasons, a very poor return for someone with an ADP of around 105. When he’s healthy, he can be a borderline 30/30 threat, but it’s just unclear he can hold up for long while playing in the outfield.Outfielder: A.J. Pollock, Dodgers. Like Myers, it’s hard to know how many games Pollock will be able to play given his extensive injury history. Perhaps more concerning is Pollock only stealing 13 bases last season and his sprint speed dipping from 38th in MLB in 2015 to 138th in ’18. His fantasy value is closely tied to his ability to swipe bags, so further decline there would be catastrophic.PERFECT YOUR DRAFT STRATEGY: Mock draft simulatorPitcher: Luis Severino, Yankees. This has more to do with uncertainty at a high ADP than doubt Severino is a good pitcher. He posted a 5.57 ERA in the second half last year and has generally run hot and cold throughout his career. Even so, the 25-year-old right can lean on a fastball-slider combination that’s as explosive a pairing as any in baseball. Drafting a starting pitcher in the top 40 should be a slam dunk, but Severino comes in perhaps a smidge below that level of assuredness despite his obvious strengths.Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. Kershaw has not made 30 starts in a season since 2015, with back problems the primary reason for him to miss time. He’s apparently experienced some shoulder soreness in spring training, and it’s fair to wonder whether the soon-to-be 31-year-old lefty is on the brink of a drop-off in on-field performance. We won’t blame you for selecting one of the greatest starting pitchers in modern baseball, but it’s worth being cautious with him moving forward.2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Tiers, Draft StrategyCatcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | CloserPitcher: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks. For the first time in his career, 40 percent of batted balls against Greinke were classified as hard hit last season, an ominous sign that all is not well with the righthander. Additionally, his below-average .272 BABIP, abnormally high 80 percent left-on-base rate and a FIP 0.50 points above his ERA should worry prospective fantasy owners. This is no longer the lights-out starter of a few years ago, and despite strong ERAs of late, he likely will not live up to a top-70 ADP.Pitcher: Andrew Heaney, Angels. Last season was a milestone year for Heaney, who managed to stay healthy and start 30 games after previously undergoing Tommy John surgery and battling elbow soreness. But those past ailments remain troubling, particularly because his ADP of 166 comes ahead of several more proven starters. And with a career ERA above 4.00, there’s little incentive to take a risk here.Pitcher: Sonny Gray, Reds. Some fantasy owners will likely try to get cute and take Gray late, but it’s difficult to see the upside. Great American Ball Park is a horrible fit for a pitcher seemingly low on confidence, and even if he does get it somewhat together, his middle-of-the-road strikeout rate will limit his ceiling.last_img read more