Cincinnati

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-84.4569

Devon Still making an impact in the NFL

When Cincinnati Bengal’s defensive end Devon Still suffered injuries this past season, his chances of playing football were slim. And when Still heard the news about his daughter, he never anticipated playing football again.

In June 2014, Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage 4 cancer. Neuroblastma, a pediatric cancer, is the most common childhood cancer with an average of 650 cases per year in the United States. Neuroblastma is a disease that develops from a neural crest in the sympathetic nervous system.

After cutting Still from the 53-man roster, the Bengals resigned him to the practice squad the next day and elected to donate sales of his jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to fund research for pediatric cancer and to help families who are suffering from them.

With his mind on his daughter’s health, Still put his football career on the back burner. After Leah’s diagnosis, Still slept by her side in the hospital even after his recent back surgery, and, out of support for his daughter, shaved his head and will only grow back his hair when Leah grows hers back again.

“Football stopped crossing my mind,” Still said in an interview this season. “When I heard she had a 50 percent chance of survival, and then I heard the cancer went into her bones, I just wanted to spend all my time with her—in case her time ran out. You know, that is not time you could ever get back.”

Hearing the news about Still’s daughter, people around the country began buying his jersey to raise money and awareness for charity. This included ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt who bought 50 jerseys and New Orleans Saint’s head coach Sean Payton who purchased 100.

The Bengals ended the fundraiser this past week after selling exactly 14, 945 jerseys and raising over $1.25 million. The money will be presented to the hospital on Nov. 6 at the end of the first quarter during the Bengal’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Still has appeared in every game this season and has recorded nine total tackles. His playing time is expected to diminish since defensive end Brandon Thompson is close to returning to the team. Either way, Still’s impact for the Bengals and the city of Cincinnati has been nothing but sensational.

Texas has been utilizing a large freshman class this year in order to overcome the loss of four high-performing seniors at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Over the weekend, the freshmen had a solid couple of games earning much praise from the modest crowd at Gregory.

Outside hitter Nicole Dalton saw an increase in playing time over the weekend, turning in 12 kills and 34 digs with 16 assists. Dalton secured the come from behind victory during set two against Cincinnati with sophomore Khat Bell with back-to-back blocks.

“She does a great job at talking, being excited,” said sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman said of Dalton. “Just being a team player and overall along with the other freshman too.”

The crowd often chanted for libero Kat Brooks especially after three serving aces during the loss to Illinois in game one. A few incredible saves later, the support for the 5-foot-4-inch Hawaiian native was reaching that of fellow junior libero Sarah Palmer.

After loss, Longhorns fight for final two wins

The No. 6 Longhorns dropped a hard-fought five-set battle against No. 23 Illinois Friday night full of errors and missed opportunities. However, Texas bounced back and swept their final two opponents, finishing 2-1 on the weekend.

However, despite sweeping Cincinnati, the Bearcats kept the score close through all three sets of Texas’ second game. There were nine lead change s and 24 tied scores in the match. The first two sets against the Bearcats went to extra-points as the Longhorns fought to win, 30-28, and, 28-26.

By keeping the game close, Cincinnati forced the Longhorns to prove that they’re able to win close, scrappy fights. Texas came out Saturday afternoon against the University of Central Florida Knights to win in three sets, this time easily, by an average of 11.5 points per set.

Eckerman dominates despite errors

Eckerman has become a staple of highlight reels, and rightfully so. This past weekend, Eckerman had a stand out game against Cincinnati while turning in an impressive overall performance in three games.

Against Cincinnati, Eckerman turned in a career-high 23 kills while hitting .487. She also tied her career-high dig count with six against Cincinnati. Over the weekend, she had 55 kills and 22 digs while hitting .318.

Despite the impressive statistics, Eckerman had trouble with her serves over the weekend, committing 13 service errors, almost half of the 29 committed by the Longhorn team.

“We talk about that in practice and try to maintain our error percentage,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said of the high number of errors this weekend. “We were high in sets one and two (against Cincinnati). We had a total of 29 errors, so we pretty much scored 45 percent of the points for the other teams.”

Printed on Monday, September 17, 2012 as: Texas relies on freshmen in invitational weekend

Cincinnati forward Octavius Ellis, left, is knocked to the ground by Texas guard Sheldon McClellan during an NCAA tournament second-round college basketball game on Friday, March 16, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

NASHVILLE, TN--Even in the NCAA Tournament, Texas couldn't escape its biggest weakness: winning close games.

The eleventh-seeded Longhorns lost to sixth-seeded Cincinnati, 65-59, on Friday at Bridgestone Arena in the second round of the tournament. The loss dropped Texas to 3-9 in games decided by six points or fewer.

Texas erased a 19 point second half deficit and tied the game at 52 with 3:44 to play. But the Bearcats answered with six straight points. The Longhorns trailed by four with one minute left but couldn't convert when they needed to.

"We had two chances to take the lead but it's where our season has been: turnover, not a very good shot," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We made some poor decisions with the ball."

Texas played like it had all season: a slow start followed by a late rally, capped off with questionable execution down the stretch.

The Bearcats relaxed on the defensive end after building a sizeable lead. But they made all the plays in the closing minutes to fend off UT.

"We are more comfortable playing if it’s a close game," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. "We don't know how to play with those big leads."

The Longhorns trailed, 38-19, with four minutes gone in the second half before finding their shooting touch. Texas closed to 49-46 with a 30-8 run over the next 10 minutes.

Sheldon McClellan scored all 10 of his points during the run to spark the comeback. Julien Lewis added eight points during that stretch. The freshman guard finished with 14.

"They finally came through big time when I wasn't hitting shots," said leading scorer J'Covan Brown, who went 6 of 15 from the field. "I just told them to keep being aggressive. They put up numbers for us."

Those numbers weren't there in the first half, though.

The Longhorns trailed, 31-17, at the break. It was Texas' lowest scoring half of the season. UT missed 13 of its first 14 shots as Cincinnati built an early 16-2 advantage.

"We were just inept offensively at the start of the game," Barnes said. "(Cincinnati) came out very aggressive and we turned the ball over and started pressing a little bit. We missed a lot of shots at the rim when we were able to get the ball up there and shoot it. It was painful to watch."

The Longhorns went 11:56 without a field goal and trailed by as many 15 in the half. UT turned the ball over six times against one assist.

"That drought isn't something that we have experienced as a team," said senior forward Clint Chapman.

Texas regrouped in the second half and found a rhythm. The Longhorns, though, stalled once they closed the gap.

"We started moving the ball and playing as a team, instead of one shot or driving into traffic, then when we (tied it) we reverted back to standing and not making the extra pass," Barnes said.

The furious second half rally after an ugly first half made the loss tougher for the Longhorns to swallow.

"We should have won this game," Barnes said.

Cincinnati dominated the post against a shorthanded Texas front line and had a 40-20 edge in points in the paint. Yancy Gates led the Bearcats with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The senior forward put the game out of reach with a jump shot to give UC a 58-52 lead with 1:11 left.

"We wanted to force that shot and I tried to contest it but he knocked it down," said Chapman, who compared Gates to Baylor's Quincy Acy.

Chapman wrapped up his senior season with a career-high 14 rebounds. He added 10 points and four blocks.

Brown led Texas with 19 points and six assists. It was the first time in four career NCAA Tournament games that the junior did not score at least 20 points.

The Longhorns lost their opening-round game for the second time in the last seven years. Texas' last early exit came in 2010 against ninth-seeded Wake Forest in New Orleans.

After the game, Brown would not address his plans on returning to school for his senior season or entering the NBA Draft in June.

When asked if the game was his last in a Longhorns' uniform, Brown responded: "I'm not going to answer that question."

"I'm going to make the decision," he added. "I'm going to talk to Coach, I'm going to talk to my parents and see what the best thing is for me. I'm not worried about moving on right now. I'm going to cherish this moment right now."

Preview

J'Covan Brown wasn't sure the Texas Longhorns would be back in the NCAA tournament before the season started.

He's glad he was wrong.

Brown, a junior guard, was one of three returning players from a Texas team that was seconds away from a Sweet 16 appearance in the 2011 NCAA Championship. During the summer, the only players he saw in the gym were fifth-year seniors Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene.

Texas added six freshmen before August, headlined by point guard Myck Kabongo. Brown, though, was still not convinced he would get another shot at the Big Dance.

"When everybody finally got in before school started we had a lot of work to do, some of our workouts weren't good," Brown said. "We had to find ways to put it together."

Now, Brown and the rookie-dominated Longhorns are in the NCAA tournament for the 14th straight season. Eleventh-seeded Texas (20-13) will face sixth-seeded Cincinnati (24-10) Friday at Bridgestone Arena in an East region matchup.

"These six freshmen are a great group of guys and the outcome shows they are willing to do whatever it takes to win games," said Brown, who leads UT with 20.1 points per game. "It really was a great experience."

That experience began with a pedestrian non-conference performance and a 3-6 start in the Big 12. Texas rallied to win six of its last nine regular season games before advancing to the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.

The Longhorns were on the tournament bubble for most of the year. But now that they're in, Kabongo and fellow freshmen Jaylen Bond, Sterling Gibbs, Jonathan Holmes and Sheldon McClellan are enjoying their first trip to the Big Dance.

"It's a great stage to play on and we've worked towards this the whole season," Kabongo said. "The (seniors) said to cherish this moment while we're here. It's a once in a lifetime experience. We're going to enjoy it and have fun."

Texas is also in unfamiliar territory as a tournament underdog. UT is an 11th seed for the first time since 1995, when they beat Oregon in the opening round.

The Longhorns, though, are fine with playing that role.

"I cherish it," said Brown, who has scored at least 20 points in all each of three NCAA tournament games. "People counted us out during the whole season, some thought we wouldn't make it. We're going to go out there and play and not worry about the critics."

Similar to the Longhorns, the Bearcats also had their doubts about a return to the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was a part of one of the low points in college basketball this season when the Bearcats brawled with rival Xavier on Dec. 10. Four Bearcats were suspended, including leading rebounder Yancy Gates.

Cincinnati regrouped to win 10 of its next 11 games and the team came out of the ordeal with a new take on the season.

"We came together as one," said senior guard Dion Dixon. "We rallied behind it, actually. We looked at it as a positive, not so much a negative. We handle adversity well."

The Bearcats are on another roll and have won seven of their last nine contests. Cincinnati advanced to the finals of the Big East tournament before losing to Louisville.

The Bearcats' success rests on Gates' broad shoulders.

The hometown senior is a force on the glass and in the paint and will challenge an injury-depleted Texas front line. Gates was third in the Big East in rebounding with 9.2 boards per game, including 3.4 on the offensive end.

"When he gives us low post presence and rebounding, it takes our team to another level," said Bearcats coach Mick Cronin.

The Longhorns are down to three forwards with Wangmene sidelined with a broken left wrist. That leaves Chapman, Bond and Holmes with the challenge of defending Gates, who Chapman compared to Baylor's Quincy Acy and Kansas' Thomas Robinson.

"He presents a lot of problems because of his size and he does a good job of getting position," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We're going to have to do our work early and not let him establish the position he wants, and we're going to have to do it without fouling. When the shot goes up we have to make a great effort to keep him off the glass."

Texas is 5-1 in its last six NCAA opening-round games. UT's last early exit was in 2010 against ninth-seeded Wake Forest in New Orleans.

Texas (20-13) earned the 11th seed in the NCAA tournament and will face No. 6 Cincinnati (24-10) in the first round.

Riding a roller coaster of a season, the Longhorns were never a sure thing to make the tournament this year. Texas finished sixth in the Big 12 conference and bowed out of the league semifinals in a loss to Missouri. But Texas' victory against Iowa State in the conference quarterfinals was just enough for it to be considered for its 14th tournament in a row. Texas has been invited to the big-dance every year under Rick Barnes' watch.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson loosens up at the start NFL football training camp, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, in Georgetown, Ky.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson was sentenced to 20 days in jail Monday after reaching a deal to settle two misdemeanor assault cases in Texas.

Benson said he will surrender to authorities on Oct. 17, which is the Monday of Cincinnati’s bye week.

“This was a difficult decision for Mr. Benson,” said Sam Bassett, the running back’s attorney. “His priority right now is to get back to work and put these legal matters behind him.”

Benson’s jail time could be significantly shorter than the sentence. He could be given credit for any time served when he was arrested and state law requires inmates be given two days credit for every day they are rewarded for good behavior. Jail overcrowding also could shorten his stay.

But for now, the Bengals must make plans to be without their leading rusher. They declined comment Monday.

Benson was arrested in 2010 for allegedly punching a bar employee in Austin, an incident that earned him a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year but resulted in no punishment. He pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with injury in that case.

He also was arrested last month for allegedly punching a former roommate in downtown Austin. He pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with bodily injury with family violence, and that will be dismissed if he performs 30 hours of community service and pays an undisclosed amount of restitution to the victim.

“We’re pleased that Mr. Benson took responsibility for his actions today and we think this was a just result given the facts of the case,” said Corby Holcomb, assistant trial director with the Travis County Attorney’s Office.

The 28-year-old Benson was Chicago’s first-round pick out of the University of Texas in 2005. He had two alcohol-related arrests with the Bears, who let him go in 2008.

He signed as a free agent with the Bengals and led them in rushing each of the last three years — 747 yards in 2008, 1,251 yards in 2009 and 1,111 yards in 2010.

He was disappointed last season when the Bengals went away from their run-based offense that won them the AFC North title in 2009, then finished 4-12. After the Bengals changed offensive coordinators, Benson lobbied to stay in Cincinnati and signed a one-year deal. He provides a run-first option in coordinator Jay Gruden’s new offense, which is being led by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.

Benson also must pay a $4,000 fine within 30 days.

Cedric Benson signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. The deal is reportedly worth three million dollars, with another two million available in incentives. Benson has rushed for over 1,000 yards in the past two seasons with
the Bengals. 

The 2011 Major League Baseball season is just over a month old, and five former Longhorns are contributing to big league clubs. We take a look around the league to check in with former Texas players.  

Drew Stubbs, CF, Cincinnati


The third-year man has continued his rise to the top in 2011, building on last year’s coming-out party with the Reds and a trip to the playoffs. Stubbs is hitting a career-high .259 and is second on the team in home runs (5) and runs scored (22). Stubbs has provided more than just production at the plate and has flashed his speed with a team-high 10 stolen bases in 30 games. The Texarkana native has been solid defensively in center field for Dusty Baker’s club and will need to keep up his improving play if the Reds hope to win the National League Central once again.

Huston Street, RP, Colorado


The National League leader in saves with 10, Street has been a huge part of the Rockies’ (17-10) success throughout the first month of the season. The right hander has been nearly unhittable, with 17 strikeouts in just 16.1 innings of work. He’s also been perfect in save situations and already has half as many saves as he did a year ago. Despite pitching in a hitter-friendly park in Coors Field, Street has been strong at home with a miniscule 1.29 ERA. Street, in his third year as a Rockies, appears to have returned to the form he showed in 2009 when Colorado won the NL Wild Card.

Taylor Teagarden, C, Texas


Teagarden has seen limited time behind the plate for the Rangers, appearing in two games in relief of starting catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Teagarden is getting a chance to play for his hometown team but the fourth-year player has found it tough to see time on the field. The 27-year-old has been a back up since his MLB debut but he’s proven a reliable option for the Rangers. Torrealba is batting .277, so look for Teagarden’s opportunities to continue to be limited.

Sam LeCure, SP, Cincinnati


LeCure has been a decent fifth starter for the Reds in 2011. Cincinnati has won two of the right hander’s four starts, but LeCure’s record is 0-1. The 26-year-old has not gone longer than six innings but has given some relief to the Reds’ bullpen. LeCure gave up four home runs in an April 19 start against Arizona, after which he said, “Every ball hit in the air I was scared about.” Cincinnati will need continued production at the bottom of the rotation from LeCure if they hope to return to the postseason.

James Russell, RP, Chicago Cubs


Russell has started four games for the Cubs and made four appearances out of the bullpen this season. Russell’s 1-4 record hasn’t helped the Cubs (14-16) move out of the NL Central cellar, but the left hander is still learning how to pitch in the majors. Russell made his first start on April 12 against Houston but surrendered seven runs in 1.2 innings. The Cubs figure to struggle this season, and Russell will earn valuable experience as a fifth-year starter. If Russell can learn from veteran pitchers Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano, he could develop into a solid starter for Chicago.

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds are division champions for the first time in 15 years, far exceeding expectations in a Cinderella season that saw a young core of players make a name for themselves in the big leagues — including former Texas baseball star Drew Stubbs, who left Austin in 2006.

Stubbs exploded onto the major league radar this year in his first full season in the big show. He played 150 games in center field and hit 22 homers, drove in 77 runs and stole 30 bases for the National League Central champs.

The former Big 12 co-player of the year will look to extend Cincinnati’s improbable season as the Reds take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the MLB playoffs. While the Reds are strangers to post-season success and the team lost the series opener 4-0 on Wednesday, Stubbs knows what it’s like to take the field on the big stage.

“Playing at the university — it being one of the grandest scales in college baseball — helped me transition to pro ball because when you start playing in front of the bigger crowds some guys get mesmerized,” Stubbs said. “But my experiences in Omaha [for the College World Series] and in the postseason at Texas prepared me for this.”

Cincinnati traded for 17-year MLB veteran Jim Edmonds in August to school Stubbs on the nuances of playing center field in the pros.

“He’s a guy that I followed growing up and I appreciate the way he plays the game,” Stubbs said. “He’s been a great mentor for me.”

But Edmonds isn’t the only figure in Stubbs’ baseball career who has had a lasting impact on the way he plays the game.

“Playing for [head] coach [Augie] Garrido at Texas taught me a lot about the mental side of the game,” Stubbs said. “The thing I took away the most was how to mentally stay in the game and prepare.”

It’s that mental toughness that has kept Stubbs going this season. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the rookie was in danger of an early season demotion.

“It was fun seeing a guy like Drew Stubbs emerge to have a good year,” Jocketty said. “Early on, we had people screaming at us to send him back to Triple-A.”

Stubbs has found a home in center field for the Reds but still has a soft spot for Austin — his home for offseason workouts.

“I like Cincinnati just fine but it’s not Texas, it’s not home,” Stubbs said. “I hope we can ride out this playoff streak as long as possible but I’m also looking forward to getting back to Austin.” 

The Cincinnati Reds are division champions for the first time in 15 years, far exceeding expectations in a Cinderella season that saw a young core of players make a name for themselves in the big leagues — including former Texas baseball star Drew Stubbs, who left Austin in 2006.

Stubbs exploded onto the major league radar this year in his first full season in the big show. He played 150 games in center field and hit 22 homers, drove in 77 runs and stole 30 bases for the National League Central champs.

The former Big 12 co-player of the year will look to extend Cincinnati’s improbable season as the Reds take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the MLB playoffs. While the Reds are strangers to post-season success and the team lost the series opener 4-0 on Wednesday, Stubbs knows what it’s like to take the field on the big stage.

“Playing at the university — it being one of the grandest scales in college baseball — helped me transition to pro ball because when you start playing in front of the bigger crowds some guys get mesmerized,” Stubbs said. “But my experiences in Omaha [for the College World Series] and in the postseason at Texas prepared me for this.”

Cincinnati traded for 17-year MLB veteran Jim Edmonds in August to school Stubbs on the nuances of playing center field in the pros.

“He’s a guy that I followed growing up and I appreciate the way he plays the game,” Stubbs said. “He’s been a great mentor for me.”

But Edmonds isn’t the only figure in Stubbs’ baseball career who has had a lasting impact on the way he plays the game.

“Playing for [head] coach [Augie] Garrido at Texas taught me a lot about the mental side of the game,” Stubbs said. “The thing I took away the most was how to mentally stay in the game and prepare.”

It’s that mental toughness that has kept Stubbs going this season. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the rookie was in danger of an early season demotion.

“It was fun seeing a guy like Drew Stubbs emerge to have a good year,” Jocketty said. “Early on, we had people screaming at us to send him back to Triple-A.”

Stubbs has found a home in center field for the Reds but still has a soft spot for Austin — his home for offseason workouts.

“I like Cincinnati just fine but it’s not Texas, it’s not home,” Stubbs said. “I hope we can ride out this playoff streak as long as possible but I’m also looking forward to getting back to Austin.”