Category Archives: Voices from the Crowd

Voices from the Crowd: Cleveland’s road to Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson is the name that has been abuzz with scouts and managers across every team in the NBA. Duke’s premier 6’7” freshman boasts NBA-level athleticism and a natural gift for getting the ball to the rim — and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in prime position to obtain him. A losing record in the NBA means a better chance at getting a high draft pick at the end of the season, but Cleveland’s odds at drafting Zion number 1 may have just become a bit slimmer with their recent back-to-back wins against top teams Philadelphia and Houston.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who before this weekend sported a measly 2-14 record, have just completed their first back-to-back wins of the season and NBA pundits are scrambling to fit the two wins into the current Cleveland narrative of “struggling in the wake of LeBron’s leave.” James’ escape to Los Angeles only scratches the surface of the Cavs’ turbulence this season. Cleveland’s front office fired their head coach Tyronn Lue after a 0-6 start to the season, and it only seemed to go downhill from there. Stories emerged of Cavaliers veterans disparaging rookie Collin Sexton, claiming “he doesn’t know how to play,” which led to the eventual removal of 2016 champion J.R. Smith, among other questionable decisions from owner Dan Gilbert — such as limiting the playtime for committed veterans, including forwards Kyle Korver and Channing Frye. So how exactly did the Cavaliers cough up two galvanizing wins against playoff-caliber teams last weekend?

In his past five games, point guard Collin Sexton has averaged 21 points, two assists, and two rebounds, a resounding rebuttal to the veterans who doubted him. Sexton’s career-high 29 points led the charge against a hot Houston Rockets team Saturday, accompanied by center Tristan Thompson’s 16 points and 20 rebounds. The day prior, their win against Philadelphia, who recently acquired star Jimmy Butler, was led by three Cavaliers scoring 20 points or more in a teamwork-heavy effort which ended a 10-game winning streak for Philly at home. For all the trials and tribulations that this Cavaliers team has undergone, they are no less adamant on convincing fans that their games are still worth the time to watch, even without perennial superstar LeBron James.

Pulling off two stunning wins against top NBA teams wasn’t always in the cards for owner Dan Gilbert, however. After their harrowing 1-9 start to the season, Cleveland committed to a long-term masterplan to aim for a lower record and land a high lottery pick in this season’s top-loaded draft. Gilbert’s plan includes finding more development for his younger players, including Sexton and sophomore forward Cedi Osman, which was a crucial consideration in Lue’s firing.

Cleveland’s schemata is nothing to scoff at — the top prospects of this year’s draft look to be the best we’ve seen in years. Duke forward Zion Williamson sits at 6’7” and 285 pounds with all the intangibles of a star player, and is the apple of every general manager’s eye. His teammate forwards RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, as well as North Carolina’s Nassir Little and Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, all look to be highly valued prospects with the capacity to landscape a fringe team like Cleveland. Other lower-tier teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns all look to throw their hats into the ring to aim for Zion Williamson, and Cleveland is among them. 

The Cavaliers’ road to success isn’t as clearly laid out as it was during the LeBron era. Many teams go through different star players, draft prospects, and front office management before striking the right chords. Cleveland, albeit missing a few key components, and are stepping up to the challenge of adversity every night. The now 4-14 Cavaliers have a tough road ahead of them, but this weekend of hard work and dedication has shown that they will be infinitely more than a losing-record team when it comes time to try and draft Zion Williamson.

Will Strohmeyer, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at WStrohmeyer19@wooster.edu.

 

Voices from the Crowd: Michigan has a shot at the National Championship

This year, Michigan has a shot at the College Football National Championship and its first Big Ten Conference title since 2004. They surprised the college football world after entering the season ranked 14th where now they’re ranked fifth. The Wolverines are currently on a hot streak having dominated two top-25 opponents in a row:  No. 15 Wisconsin and No. 24 Michigan State University (MSU) on the road. They beat both teams by a combined score of 59-20 with tremendous defensive performances holding MSU to 94 total yards of total offense, MSU’s worst performance in any game since 1947. Until 4:48 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin had only 25 passing yards. The quarterbacks for MSU and Wisconsin combined for 12 completions on 45 attempts. Michigan currently has the top overall defense in the country thanks to Defensive Coordinator Don Brown and top-tier talent. If defense really does win championships, Michigan’s offense will also have to perform well to get them there.

Last year was a rough year for Michigan, to say the least. They went 8-4 in the regular season and lost in the Outback Bowl to South Carolina. Michigan was plagued by two quarterback injuries and a weak third string replacement, John O’Korn, who threw only two touchdown passes all year. O’Korn was the main reason Michigan lost key games against Michigan State and Ohio State. Under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan was 1-5 against their biggest rivals over three years, but that chip on their shoulder along with a new quarterback might be the key to Michigan’s current success. Now Michigan has five star Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson, who’s already thrown for over 1500 yards, 12 touchdown passes, and only two interceptions. This time, however, if Patterson goes down, five-star back up Dylan McCaffrey will take the helm with experience making big plays with his arms and legs. 

In order to get to the playoffs, Michigan must win the Big Ten and beat Ohio State which they’ve only done once since 2004. That’s a big hump to get over, even bigger considering the game is in Columbus this year, but the Wolverines have an edge in the matchup. For four years Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has been the bane of Michigan’s existence with his ability to throw and run the ball extremely well. Michigan’s defense, while good, never had a complete answer for the dual-threat quarterback when he went on the move. This year J.T. is gone and though Ohio State’s new quarterback Dwayne Haskins impresses, he doesn’t have the same run game. That weakness was on display when Ohio State was upset by Purdue 49-20, even though Haskins set school throwing record for 470 yards in the game. Michigan’s top-tier defense should have no trouble covering receivers and getting to Haskins.

One last thing that supports Michigan’s road to the National Championship is to compare the circumstances between this season and Michigan’s last national championship season in 1997. In 1996, the Wolverines went 8-4 in the regular season, lost in the Outback Bowl, and entered the 1997 season ranked 14th in the AP poll. If Michigan wins its match-up with Penn State this weekend, they’ll have beaten three ranked opponents in a row. The last time Michigan did that was in 1997. If Michigan wins out, they’ll have beaten at least four ranked opponents with their only loss being to No. 3 Notre Dame at the beginning of the season. The resume, offense, defense and history all point to Michigan winning out this year. 

Ian Ricoy, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at IRicoy20@wooster.edu.

VOICES FROM THE CROWD: It’s On Us pledge encourages important conversations

When walking on the lower level of the Scot Center to the Swigart Strength Center, there are three poster boards hanging on the wall. On them are the signatures of student athletes who have been a member of a varsity sport at the College in the last four years underneath the It’s On Us symbol. This is a reminder to all athletes, athletic staff and our Fighting Scot community of the promise we have made to ourselves and the campus in regards to preventing sexual assault. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted our fourth signing of the It’s On Us pledge. Established in 2014, It’s On Us is a national campaign which works to end sexual assault. This campaign is a collaboration between the White House, the NCAA and the U.S. Olympic Committee meant to change the campus culture surrounding sexual assault. For the past four years, Wooster SAAC has held such a signing for new student-athletes. Student-athletes have pledged “to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” Thus far, close to 300,000 individuals across the country have signed this pledge. 

At the pledge signing, students also received information about consent, The College of Wooster Title IX office and resources for confidential reporting. SAAC presents these resources alongside the pledge to facilitate a discussion regarding rape, rape culture, consent and the importance of being educated about these topics. Sydney Schuster ’21, a field hockey player, was seen helping at this event asking each first year athlete, “Do you know what consent is?” to spark these conversations. 

According to the It’s On Us campaign, 11.2 percent of students experience rape or sexual assault in U.S. colleges. In response to these numbers, the NCAA national SAAC organization charged all collegiate athletic SAAC groups to join them in the It’s On Us initiative. Not only does this pledge afford Wooster athletics the  opportunity to publicly display our prevention to sexual assault, it helps guide our conversations and explore additional avenues of support. One such initiative introduced last year is #OneWoo which addresses inclusivity and diversity, stating that as student-athletes, we recognize, appreciate and respect our differences and support each other in times of hardship. #OneWoo alongside It’s On Us encourages student-athletes to be open and willing to having difficult, but important, conversations.

As a third of the student body, Wooster student-athletes have a significant voice on campus. We hope that by providing something like the It’s On Us pledge we can begin these conversations among the larger Wooster community. The pledge is a reminder for us to not be a bystander to the problem, rather, to be a part of the solution. 

Everyone on campus is encouraged to take the pledge at ItsOnUs.org. Additionally, the Wooster Title IX office is an amazing resource for any college students who have experienced sexual assault. The Athletic Department as well as SAAC urges that the entire college campus continues these dialogues regarding these topics. Ask yourself, do you know what consent is? Would you step up in a situation where consent cannot be given? 

Grace O’Leary, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at GOLeary20@wooster.edu.

VOICES FROM THE CROWD: Division III sports give athletes an opportunity

We have all heard those success stories of pro athletes that have been playing sports from the time they could walk. For example, Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton started his journey to the Olympics at just age four.  This is a similar story for many suburban Americans, but not for everyone.  

Sometimes, sports are not easily accessible or easily funded.  Children from rural areas or low income families may not be enrolled in athletics at a young age, but that does not mean that they will be excluded forever. 

College presents a unique opportunity to all students in regards to organized sports.  Participating in athletics at college does not present the same roadblocks.  For one, athletics are centered on campus so all students have access to practices and athletic facilities.  The Scot Center at The College of Wooster is intended to be accessible to every student every day.  This resolves the issue to students from rural areas that are not in close proximity to sports clubs.  Also, the expenses typically associated with club sports are not a factor when it comes to college athletics.  Club soccer fees can reach upwards of $5,000, which would be a hard hit on anybody’s wallet, let alone a typical college student.  Thankfully, these types of fees will not appear on anyone’s tuition bill at college.  

Intramural and club sports are free for anyone to participate in regardless of prior experience and skill level.  The College offers many levels of teams so everyone can find their fit.  Because of this, roughly 70 percent of students at The College of Wooster participate in sports of some kind.  The College of Wooster also offers a wider range of teams than many high schools especially those in rural areas.  College may be the first time someone is exposed to his or her dream sport.  Club sports like rugby, ultimate frisbee and quidditch are great examples of this.  

Division III varsity sports at The College of Wooster offer a unique experience as well. Since Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, these teams are filled with a variety of athletes ranging from students that have been doing sports their entire lives and are on the top level, to students who are still relatively new to the sport.  Division III sports take the pressure off the athlete to maintain scholarship eligibility and rather emphasize hard work and progress instead.  

Division III colleges like The College of Wooster give students the option to continue participating in sports when they may not have had the opportunity otherwise.  I personally know many students that had to give up the sports they love just because they went to large Division-I schools like Ohio State or Michigan State. Often times, students will chose to go to a large state school because it is a smart move financially.  However, most of these schools are Division-I and the options to participate in athletics, especially at the varsity level, are limited.  For example, roughly 30 percent of Wooster students participate in varsity athletics, whereas only 2.3 percent of Ohio State University students participate.

Varsity teams at state schools are typically populated by highly recruited athletes that stood out on their high school teams.  Division III, on the other hand, allows for this type of student athlete to thrive as well as giving the opportunity to other athletes that may not have been recruited during high school.  

Georgia Hopps-Weber, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at GHopps-Weber21@wooster.edu.

Voices from the Crowd: Despite injuries, Cubs still favorites to win National League

Despite injuries, Cubs still favorites to win National League

Coming into the 2018 season, the Chicago Cubs had the most complete roster they may have ever bolstered. While they had lost notable pitching in starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis, the Cubs front office and Theo Epstein went out and signed a closer, Brandon Morrow and a starter, Yu Darvish.

The season started with a bang; in the first MLB game of the year the Cubs faced off against the Marlins in Miami.

Ian Happ took the first pitch of the season to deep right field for a towering home run. After the first couple weeks, the Cubs found themselves in fourth place in the division.

Battling injuries with star players such as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Darvish the Cubs bounced back and took the division lead by the All-Star break and haven’t lost it since.

Currently the Cubs sit 4.0 games ahead of their rival the St. Louis Cardinals, and 4.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers with just over a month to play.

Just last week, star pitcher Darvish was announced to be out for the year with the tricep and elbow issues that have sidelined him since May.

Do the Cubs have it in them to make another great post season run? Are they still favorites to win the National League with Darvish, Morrow and Bryant out?

The answer is yes. The Cubs have made it clear they are going for another World Series this year by making many trade deadline deals.

They replaced Darvish’s spot in the rotation by acquiring Cole Hamels, former World Series MVP, from the Rangers. Having a rough start to the year with an earned run average (ERA) over 5.00, the Cubs did not know what they would get out of Hamels. Since joining the Cubs, Hamels is 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA.

The Cubs also acquired Bullpen personnel such as Brandon Kintzler from the Nationals and Jesse Chavez from the Rangers. The Cubs have scraped together one of the best pitching staffs in baseball without their best starter and closer.

Lately, the problem for the Cubs has been on the offensive side, they hadn’t been hitting well. With their star offensive player and former MVP Bryant out, the Cubs had to step up, and they have.

David Bote, a player from the Cubs minor league team in Iowa has been called up in place of Bryant. Bote has been in red-hot form, batting almost .300 with the fastest exit velocity in the league. He is also clutch. He has hit two walk-off homers in the last two weeks, one of which was a grand slam to win the game 4-3 after being down 3-0.

Another notable edition is Daniel Murphy, who was acquired from the Nationals a week ago. Murphy has really revitalized a Cubs offense. The man who single handedly defeated the Cubs in the 2015 NLDS is now wearing the blue pinstripes for the North Siders. Murphy is a career .400+ hitter at Wrigley Field and has a .320+ average in the playoffs.

The injury ridden Chicago Cubs have bounced back and still lead the National League. Now it’s time for some Cubs magic as they approach the postseason hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs and bring the second World Series title in three years back to the north side of Chicago.

Jack Redick, a contributing writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at JRedick21@wooster.edu.