• In light of Louisville sex scandal, head coach approach for football, basketball is refreshing

    When commentators express outrage over players trading memorabilia for tattoos or selling their autographs, I roll my eyes.

    A broken college sports system motivates student athletes to make money in a petty, unscrupulous ways and it’s easy to understand. But, when college sports programs sidestep NCAA rules that prohibit paying players, one must take notice.

    The Louisville sex scandal is the latest controversy to break both the rules of the NCAA and the law. As reported by Outside the Lines, a staff member paid escorts to have sex with recruits and players on campus. The Louisville case is not only illegal, it’s disgusting in the way that the bodies of women are used as currency to entice recruits and keep current players happy.

    Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for women to be used in this way at powerful college sports programs. The objectification and exploitation of women is made normal through the consistent use of “hostess programs” that use female students as hosts during athlete recruitment. That may seem innocuous, but all too often, sex is viewed as a foregone conclusion by the recruits. This is a dangerous assumption and can lead to sexual assault.

    While the Longhorn men’s athletic program has not been accused of running a hostess program or paying escorts, there has been sexual assault violations by its players.

    Before the Alamo Bowl in 2012, quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks were suspended after being accused of sexual assault despite no charges being filed. Just last year, receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrell Meander were charged with felony sexual assault. Less than two weeks ago, Sanders was acquitted and Meander’s charges were dropped.

    With that said, the Texas men’s athletic department hopes to avoid a scandal of any kind through the leadership of its current coaches. While head coach Charlie Strong has established a program that is committed to teaching his players to respect women, head coach Shaka Smart looks to do the same in his first year at Texas.

    Both Strong and Smart feature a form of accountability in their value systems and neither coach has been embroiled within a domestic abuse or sexual assault scandal like the one at Louisville. The Strong and Smart approach to a college sports system that regularly objectifies women and uses them as college athlete compensation is refreshing.

    Between the two coaches, there is a guarantee that both the football and basketball program will have a moral backbone that can avoid controversy.

  • Bat flips are taking over baseball

    New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after hitting an RBI double off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Yankees' Brett Gardner scored on the hit.  The Yankees defeated the Rays 4-1.
    New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after hitting an RBI double off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Yankees' Brett Gardner scored on the hit. The Yankees defeated the Rays 4-1.

    Whether baseball fans like it or not, the bat flip has become a part of MLB games.

    Bat flips generated even more controversy in the MLB after Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista flipped his bat following a three-run home run to give Toronto a 6-3 lead over the Texas Rangers in the deciding game of the ALDS. Bautista's bat flip led Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson to criticize Bautista and the bat flip. 

    But bat flips have persisted this postseason.

    Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning of Game 1 of the World Series. Hosmer held on to his bat for a good five seconds after he made contact with the ball and then launched his bat to the side.  

    The bat flip added to the game because it was redemption for Hosmer, who had an error on a groundball in the eighth to give the Mets the lead.  

    Bat flips show a hitter’s self-expression and passion, adding a new dimension of entertainment to the game. Had Hosmer just jogged to first and then celebrated with his teammates, it wouldn’t have shown his passion in that clutch situation. 

    There are countless ways that baseball players express themselves in clutch situations. Until now, those expressions were not deemed disrespectful. 

    When former Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa hit a home run, he would hop three times and then trot around the bases. No one looked at Sosa’s three-hop celebration as disrespectful. Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson would cross his arms and point to the sky after he completed a save. No one ever accused Wilson of disrespecting the game. These gestures didn’t take anything away from the game or show any disrespect. Instead, they contributed to fans’ excitement surrounding players’ big plays. 

    A player’s first thought after a big play is that he helped his team win, not that he showed up the opposing team’s pitcher. It isn’t about the pitcher. It is about showing emotion, and each player’s will to win for his team. Bat flips don’t show disrespect — they give the game a personality, something that baseball desperately needs.

  • Defense focuses on fundamentals before Iowa State

    Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford addressed the media Wednesday to discuss Texas' matchup in Iowa on Saturday. Here are some takeaways from Bedford's address.

    Texas looks to improve defensively on road

    Bedford said Wednesday the Longhorns need to play better defense to improve their chances on the road.

    “We can’t give up big plays on defense,” Bedford said. “You go back to Notre Dame and TCU, and it’s big play after big play. Against Notre Dame, we gave up third down and long seven times. We need to be effective on third down and get off of the football field.”

    Texas surrendered an average of 44 points per game in its two away games – both losses – this season. The Longhorns gave up 30 points in the first quarter alone at No. 5 TCU. Now, Bedford is focusing on the fundamentals before facing Iowa State on the road.

    “We need to tackle better,” Bedford said. “When we do have coverage, we have to make a play on the football. We have to be aggressive. … When they throw the football we need to be in position and go and make a play.”

    Defense benefitting from improved offense

    Texas’ offense is finding an identity in running the football with over 270 rushing yards in each of its last two games. The running-game’s renaissance has translated to more first downs, more points and more wins. Bedford says the improved offense is also injecting some life into the Longhorns’ defense.

    “What [rushing success] means is that their offense is on the sideline and we’re eating up clock,” Bedford said.  “Now, we’re a lot fresher on defense.”

    Time of possession is proving key for the Longhorns’ defense. Texas kept the ball longer than its opponents in each of its last two games, and picked up two wins. The defense also had its two best performances in those games holding No. 14 Oklahoma and Kansas State to 17 and 9 points respectively.

    “My father – and some of other coaches I’ve been around – said the best way to win a game is to keep the defense on the sideline,” Bedford said.

  • NBA season preview: Teams to watch

    San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives up against Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Spurs 97-94. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
    San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives up against Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Spurs 97-94. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

    The 2015–2016 NBA season tipped off Tuesday, with the season continuing until June.

    Many of the NBA’s prominent contenders belong to the Western Conference. Last season, three teams in the East achieved 50-plus wins, while seven teams in the West did. The top teams from 2014–2015 have reloaded in hopes of claiming the title in June.

    The defending-champion Golden State Warriors are led by a high-scoring offense with sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are expected to post similar results to their 67-win performance in 2014–2015. Retaining defensive weapons Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala makes Golden State dangerous on both sides of the ball.

    ^

    Stephen Curry
    23.8 PPG
    7.7 APG2
    2.0 SPG
    .443 3PT%

    >

    LaMarcus Aldridge
    23.4 PPG
    10.2 RPG
    0.845 FT%

    <

    Kawhi Leonard
    16.5 PPG
    7.2 RPG

    2.3 SPG (league best)

     

    Top: Winslow Townson | Associated Press Bottom: Daren Abate | Associated Press

    The San Antonio Spurs faced a first-round exit in 2015, but the 2014 NBA champions won free agency when All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge decided to join Gregg Popovich’s system in San Antonio. The Spurs’ reloaded roster features veterans Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and a budding star in Kawhi Leonard, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers were the champions of the Eastern Conference, but they were without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in the NBA Finals. Four-time MVP LeBron James looks to lead the Cavs to their first-ever championship.


    Ron Schwane | Associated Press

    The Houston Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals last season, but were handily beaten by the Warriors. James Harden, the only player to score 2000 points in 2014–2015, runs the Rockets’ three-point oriented offense. A Finals appearance in a stacked conference may be a challenge, but the addition of point guard Ty Lawson makes this offense a force to be reckoned with.

    Ben Margot | Associated Press

    These contenders are the primary teams to watch this season, and the NBA champion will likely be one of these four. However, factors such as injuries and breakout players may come into play to alter the balance of power.

    The 2015–2016 tipoff is here — ­basketball is finally back.

    Interactives by Tom Li

  • Texas women&#039;s golf places seventh at Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown

    Texas completed its final tournament of the fall season with a seventh-place finish at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown on Wednesday, shooting a three-day 25-under par for a total score of 839.

    Sophomore Sophia Schubert led the team with a top-five finish, shooting a three-day score of 203. Schubert made seven birdies and one bogey for a round of six-under par to finish in fourth, overall.

    Senior Tezira Abe and junior Haley Mills finished tied for 45th at two-under par for the tournament. Mills finished her third round with a bogey-free three-under par while Abe carded two bogeys for a round of two-over par.
     
    Junior Julia Beck and freshman Maddie Luitwieler tied for 53rd after they both shot a one-under par round of 71. The pair ended even par for the tournament.
     
    University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Vanderbilt charged up the leaderboard to tie for first place. The teams finished 33-under par for a 54-hole score of 831. San Diego State finished in third place, just three strokes behind, as Tennessee’s Anna Newell finished in first place, individually.
     
    Texas finished in the top ten in all of their tournaments this season. The team will open the spring season on Feb. 21st in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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