Facebook Twitter Google+ Joseph Girard III had driven, spun and faded away from North Carolina State defenders during Syracuse’s latest loss. He scored 30 points with Elijah Hughes hurt, making Feb. 11 Girard’s best collegiate performance.But, sitting in front of his locker postgame, Girard rued the misses. SU’s other shooters could relate. The Orange fell, 79-74, to NC State in the Carrier Dome, after a three-for-18 showing from 3. Each miss represented Syracuse’s current offensive limit.“We fought hard,” Girard said, “but if I made even two more open 3s? That’s six points and we would’ve won.”In recent weeks, opponents have adapted to the Orange’s 3-laden attack, SU players and coaches said. Defenders are more aggressive, challenging the trio of Girard, Hughes and leading-shooter Buddy Boeheim (84 3s). They’ve also doubled ball screens and hand-offs that establish space for the Orange.In SU’s last eight contests, it’s uncharacteristically converted 28.2% from 3. The drop-off didn’t correlate with a larger offensive issue. Three-point production has dipped steadily before cratering on Feb. 11 against the Wolfpack, and Syracuse’s (14-10, 7-6 Atlantic Coast) 16.7%-rate against NC State stuck out like a sore thumb.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRoshan Fernandez | Asst. Digital EditorSyracuse converts 32.2% of its 3s in conference play (seventh-best in the ACC), but it hasn’t eclipsed that mark since Jan. 15. With three losses in four games pressuring their tournament chances, the Orange will need to find their mark, possibly without Hughes, at No. 8 Florida State. Though a top-15 defense, per KenPom, the Seminoles allow the third-most 3s in the conference.“Teams are going to keep that adjustment,” Buddy said. “It’s working. We gotta figure out how to do better.”Buddy and Girard slogged through their 18 attempts against the Wolfpack, and the rare open look still rimmed out. Quincy Guerrier shot zero 3s for the third-straight game in a career-high 37 minutes. He had a few opportunities but opted against them. Of the backup guards — Brycen Goodine and Howard Washington – only Goodine played four minutes. But neither have shot many from behind the arc this season as they’ve followed coach directives. SU’s relied on the Hughes-Buddy-Girard trio, and they’re the only ones consistently given a green light.While Buddy couldn’t establish a scoring rhythm through tighter defense, he facilitated. The ball hung near the elbow and corner, and on one possession Buddy shielded his defender from the ball and bounced a pass under the rim to Guerrier, who finished with 16. The offense pivoted inside by necessity.In its last four contests, SU has averaged 33 points in the paint. But after losing to Duke, Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said it’s “not enough.”“We’re not really making enough shots at the 3-point line,” Boeheim said, “and that’s something that’s important for us to win these kinds of games.”At the start of the calendar year, the Orange’s success was linked to their 3-point rate. They were 3-5 in games with fewer than 10 made 3s. But starting Jan. 11 against Virginia, they won five-straight. SU found different ways to win and adjusted well against lesser opponents. Three-point attempts came more from two-man games — a temporary reprieve run well by Hughes and Girard — or fast-break runs.In the half court, the pick-and-roll failed to create clean shots from behind the arc. Boeheim said defenses rushed SU shooters. Eventually, it caught up in the loss column. Syracuse hit just six deep balls when it lost to Duke despite 88 points overall. Then, Wake Forest threatened an upset with its match-up zone.SU’s shooters have shown glimmers of their old 3-point prowess. They’ve connected on the occasional tightly contested, crowd-popping heave before hitting more in succession. Buddy ended a scoring drought against Wake Forest by hitting a deep 3 with a hand in his face. Later in the frame, Syracuse went on a 14-0 run propelled by four 3s.After SU’s season opener, when it registered a then-low of five made 3s against Virginia, assistant coach Gerry McNamara instituted a circle-motion offense. It led to a boost in nonconference play. And with Hughes’ long-term status unclear, another strategic shift could key a turnaround.Down three against NC State in the second half, McNamara watched Girard bring the ball forward. Buddy ran down the right side of the court, and Marek Dolezaj filled the gap. As they crossed half court, Buddy and Girard simultaneously pointed toward Dolezaj. The forward then screened for Buddy, who caught a Girard pass for a 3. From the bench, McNamara stood up and fist bumped.“We can do it in multiple ways,” Girard said. “I just think if we shoot like we did before we can be dangerous.” Comments Published on February 12, 2020 at 11:26 pm Contact Nick: firstname.lastname@example.org | @nick_a_alvarez
The group Calvin Kattar trains with is not officially known as the “New England MMA Syndicate,” but I’ll be damned if that isn’t a terrific name for the collection of talent from in and around Massachusetts that get together and train. If this catches on, I want royalties … or at least a shout out for creating the name.Anyway…Kattar is one of those guys no one thinks about when listing the dangerous, emerging threats in the featherweight division because he’s a quiet, unassuming guy who simply goes out there, handles his business and slides back into the shadows. A perfect illustration of this is that while he’s stationed at No. 15 in the latest UFC Fighter Rankings update (I know, I know), Shane Burgos is positioned at No. 13.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearKattar stopped Burgos 18 months ago at UFC 220 and while “Hurricane Shane” has responded with consecutive victories, including a split decision triumph over Cub Swanson at the start of last month in Ottawa, the 31-year-old from Methuen, Massachusetts has gone 1-1, dropping a decision to Renato Moicano, who sits at No. 5 in the rankings, before finishing Chris Fishgold in the first round of their meeting last October.I know rankings are subjective and flawed, but Kattar being positioned behind Burgos despite a head-to-head victory is part of what leads to guys like Kattar being overlooked and dismissed, even though he’s very much an intriguing name in the loaded 145-pound weight class.All of that could change after this weekend, of course, as Kattar will step in the cage against former title challenger and divisional stalwart Ricardo Lamas in the first of four preliminary card bouts set to air on ESPN.Although he’s just 4-4 over his last eight fights, Lamas remains a crucial cog in the featherweight machine; the kind of guy you have to beat in order to ascend to the next level of competition and establish yourself as a true factor in the division.And Kattar has the tools to be a factor.Standing five-foot-11, he has good height and a strong frame for the division, and while his reach isn’t anything special (72 inches), Kattar does a very good job of working behind a long, clean jab, making people pay for staying at range and using it to set up all the other aspects of his game.If you go back and watch his fight with Burgos, which was close through two rounds before Kattar turned up the intensity and put him away in the third, you’ll see it was the constant pressure of that jab in Burgos’ face that eventually created the opportunity for “The Boston Finisher” to crash forward and get the finish.Continuing to work alongside guys like Rob Font and Joe Lauzon is only going to help him sharpen those weapons even further, as both are polished boxers with a good understanding of the importance of a quality jab.To me, Kattar feels like one of those guys who is going to slowly and steadily work his way into the Top 10 and take up residence there for a couple years, turning back hopefuls and toppling veterans while giving the best of the best a run for their money. He was neck-and-neck with Moicano for most of their clash at UFC 223 and if that’s your only loss to date in the UFC, that’s pretty darn good.He’s like a featherweight version of Al Iaquinta — tough as nails, pretty good everywhere, but not great in any one particular realm. He’s just a well-rounded, quality competitor who has already shown an ability to thrive against solid competition in one of the most talent-rich divisions in the UFC and there is no reason to believe that will change any time soon. Beating Lamas this weekend in Chicago isn’t going to vault him into title contention or even really generate a great deal of buzz because (a) people don’t appreciate how good Lamas is either, (b) there are much bigger matchups on the card that will rightfully garner more attention and (c) there are other upstarts in the division who are much closer to being in the mix, but none of that means Kattar should be completely cast aside and forgotten about for the next several months.A win on Saturday would push his record to 4-1 in the Octagon and should be enough to carry him into a matchup with the winner of one of the other quality featherweight fights currently on the schedule. A fight with another veteran name (Jeremy Stephens?) would work as well.I know this fight isn’t sexy and there isn’t really anything that jumps off the screen about what Kattar does inside the cage. However, we just got finished talking about the importance of victories in the wake of Elias Theodorou’s release, so here’s a guy with a quality record, working his way up the ladder in one of the deepest divisions in the sport, poised for another stern test.That’s the kind of guy that everyone should be paying attention to and eager to see more from, so hopefully this gets you a little more amped up to see what Kattar brings to the table this weekend at UFC 238. Prior to every event, Under the Radar will cast the spotlight on an up-and-coming talent who shows the potential for growth in his or her division and isn’t getting enough attention as they head into battle.Name: Calvin KattarRecord: 19-3 overall; 3-1 UFCDivision: FeatherweightTeam: New England MMA Syndicate
MORE: Ranking Big 12 coaches for 2019 seasonWill Texas’ Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia resonate enough in Austin to break the Sooners’ streak? Or is the Big 12 fertile for a challenger like Iowa State to usurp Oklahoma? Is Baylor bouncing back fast enough? Is Oklahoma State primed for a return to excellence? Is TCU capable of a memorable charge?It’s certainly a telling season for a conference still trying to break through in the College Football Playoff. Sporting News’ review of the 2019 season in the Big 12:Odds to win 2019 Big 12 championshipThe Sooners are once again Las Vegas’ favorites to win the conference, followed by Nos. 2 and 3 by Texas and Iowa State, respectively. The full betting odds for the 2019 Big 12 champion, courtesy of Bovada:Oklahoma -130Texas +300Iowa State +800West Virginia +1400Baylor +1800TCU +1800Oklahoma State +2300Texas Tech +2500Kansas State +5000Kansas +10000Big 12 predictions1. Oklahoma2. Texas3. Iowa State4. Baylor5. Oklahoma State6. TCU7. Texas Tech8. West Virginia9. Kansas State10. KansasBig 12 X-Factor: Blast from the past?A league more closely resembling the old WAC — throw the ball everywhere, defense optional — may be undergoing an extreme makeover this season. Riley no longer has the No. 1 overall pick and Heisman-winning quarterback running the offense. Tom Herman says Sam Ehlinger is still polishing his throwing skills. Iowa State actually emphasizes tackling. Oklahoma State has a new quarterback. Penn Stater Matt Rhule would prefer Baylor’s offense look more like the New York Giants’. Gary Patterson is still a defensive genius at TCU. Matt Wells and Neal Brown will still throw it, but not as much as their predecessors. Chris Klieman’s foundation at K-State will be defense. Les Miles will run between the tackles at Kansas. Is the Big 12 going conservative in 2019?HOOVER: Big 12 coaches say patience, not shortcuts, that builds winning cultureBig 12 sleeper: BaylorAfter the wreckage left by Art Briles, most assumed Baylor was in for a substantial rebuild that would take five years or more to complete. Instead, Rhule guided the Bears from a 1-11 record in 2017 to 7-6 last season. This year, with Charlie Brewer and Denzel Mims on offense and one of the league’s most dynamic defenses, Baylor believes it can challenge for a spot in the title game.Big 12’s biggest games of 2019LSU at Texas (Sept. 7): Texas gets to follow up its decisive Sugar Bowl victory over No. 5 Georgia with a home game against No. 7 LSU. We’ll know pretty quickly whether Texas really is back.Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 12): Will the Red River Rivalry become the annual Big 12 Championship game preview? It was last year. The Longhorns won at the State Fair of Texas, then lost the rematch at Jerry World.Iowa State at Oklahoma (Nov. 9): Matt Campbell came into Norman two years ago, handed Lincoln Riley his first career defeat and ended a 30-year losing streak to the Sooners. Could he lead another upset?Big 12 Heisman hopefuls Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma. The Sooners should win enough for Hurts to get noticed, and he will have enough playmakers to put up big numbers. If he contributes on the ground, he may be New York City-bound.Sam Ehlinger, Texas. Ehlinger would need to be even better than last year (3,292 yards, 25 touchdowns, five interceptions, .647 completion percentage). Texas would also need to be better than 10-2 and runner-up in the conference.Keaontay Ingram, Texas. A lot would have to happen for Ingram to win. Ehlinger would have to defer. Ingram would have to stay healthy and put up huge numbers. And Texas would have to win a lot of games.Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma. Brooks finished third nationally among running backs last year with an 8.9-yard-per-carry average — while splitting time. If he’s the primary carrier in 2019, he’ll get a ton of chances to punch his ticket to the Heisman ceremony.HOOVER: Ehlinger ready to back up Texas hype in 2019Big 12 coach with something to prove: Matt CampbellAs strange as it may sound, Campbell needs to get Iowa State to the next level if he’s the coach everyone thinks he is. The Cyclones have achieved three straight eight-win seasons only once in school history. Campbell has his sights set a lot higher than that. If quarterback Brock Purdy, an experienced offensive line and a fierce defense can overachieve in 2019, Campbell can go from great Iowa State coach to great college football coach. The Big 12 is Oklahoma’s to lose until someone takes it from the Sooners, isn’t it?Oklahoma has won the conference four years running. Lincoln Riley finally did something about the defense this offseason, hiring Alex Grinch from Ohio State (via Washington State). Riley got his next quarterback too, acquiring Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts to hold down the quarterback position for a season. And Riley brings back CeeDee Lamb, Grant Calcaterra, Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks and others to support Hurts on the offense. Big 12 stat that matters: 40That’s the percentage of new head coaches in the league this season, and they all come from different backgrounds. Klieman maintained an FCS juggernaut at North Dakota State. Brown elevated Troy, and Wells elevated Utah State. And Miles, who already gave bite to one former Big 12 also-ran (Oklahoma State), is looking for career redemption after things got sideways at LSU. How does this sudden influx of leadership change the complexion of the league not only this season, but for the next decade?Big 12’s biggest question: Can it finally win a Playoff game?Oklahoma has been the Big 12’s only Playoff representative. Three times the Sooners have made the semifinals, and three times the league has been left wanting more. OU’s defense was mostly awful in losses to Clemson, Georgia and Alabama. Riley said it’s hard to beat a top-four team, but acknowledged that, if the Sooners are who they think they are, then it needs to happen. Now would be a good time to start.Big 12 champion: OklahomaNo way the Sooner defense isn’t better than the last two years — and those were Playoff-caliber teams with historic offenses. If Grinch can just level things out a bit (eg, not be last in the country in pass defense or red zone defense, create more than 11 turnovers a season, don’t miss tackles by the truckload, and play just average technique on deep throws) then Oklahoma could be unbeatable. A rebuilt offensive line (four first-time starters) will be problematic early, which makes Hurts’ predictably steady demeanor and commanding leadership all the more vital.