Silent but deadly: Freshman wing Johnson brings reserved personality to SU bench

first_imgShe seemed puzzled by the question. She said she misses her “sweetheart” dearly while he’s at school. When she first opened the door to the Melo Center, she said, “Where’s my son? Where’s my son?” And she loved going to every one of his games at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania. She knew all of that. But a more challenging question stumped her. His mother Sharon Dash watched intently from two feet to his right. Johnson’s aunt, uncle and cousin surrounded her. Dash listened as her son mentioned that he can’t swim, his favorite villain is the Joker and he loves any kind of rice. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text From his standard, squeaky-clean white, size 14 Jordans up to his No. 2 jersey and orange headband, everything was traditional. No Ron Patterson wacky hair. No DaJuan Coleman outlandish tattoos. No Jerami Grant irreversible grin. “At one point in time I thought you had to stick a pin in him to get him to wake up,” Bobby Johnson said. “He was always laid back, and I would always tell him, ‘When you come out on the floor, we don’t need that cool sh*t.’” But she couldn’t pinpoint anything that stood out about him. The banter continued. Dash and her sister Michelle Scott quipped about just how quiet Johnson is. “Noooo,” Dash responded, incredulously looking at her sister, taking a step back and jerking her head downward in disbelief. “I think he talks too much,” Scott said. Published on November 6, 2013 at 3:28 am Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHass “He’s just such a plain kid,” Dash said. “Baby, you’ve got to get interesting.” But Johnson’s father Bobby Johnson, who played professional basketball in Portugal and Germany, is the antithesis of quiet. When Bobby grew up in South Philadelphia, the culture was completely different. Jawing and trash talk was incessant. It was the expectation. You had to go out there and play and shut those people up, Bobby Johnson said. If you didn’t, you’d never come back on the floor again.Johnson and his father used to wake up at 6 a.m. and head to Lower Merion to work out for an hour. Johnson was dedicated throughout, Bobby said, but he didn’t always show enthusiasm on the court. B.J. Johnson stood firmly in place with his hands behind his back on the outskirts of the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center gym during media day on Oct. 18. “I was being facetious,” Scott responded wryly. Facebook Twitter Google+ Then Johnson flashed a golden smile, revealing a slight gap between his two front teeth. He swayed back and forth, clearly uncomfortable by the entire situation. Johnson, who’s only 17, is as quiet as they come, according to his relatives. But his reserved nature and tendency to fly under the radar made him lethal in high school and may help him earn a spot in the Syracuse rotation. Comments He didn’t hear his son swear until he was 15 or 16.“I think the first time I actually heard him yell out the four-letter word he was playing at one of the practices and he was like ‘F*ck!’” Bobby Johnson said. “I was like, ‘OK, you do care.’”Before Lower Merion’s state championship game against Chester (Pa.) High School, Johnson and his father drove to the rehabilitation center because Johnson had sprained his ankle and needed treatment. Bobby tried to elicit some sort of enthusiasm out of his son — to make sure he was ready for the biggest game of his high school career.After losing to Chester three years in a row, Johnson and the Aces were out for revenge. But Johnson was calm, unfazed by the pressure of the situation.“I got ’em, dad,” he said coolly.“He got ’em!” Bobby said. Lower Merion beat Chester 63-47, ending the Clippers’ 78-game in-state winning streak. Johnson finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. But the fire was never fully there. When Bobby Johnson first watched his son play at Lower Merion, he sat there wondering if the other fans would get riled up like he did.“When I first went to the games, the Lower Merion people are sitting there like it’s a cricket match,” Bobby said. “I remember being like, ‘What the — ain’t anybody going to get the guys going?’”Months later, removed from one of the most dominant stints at Lower Merion since Kobe Bryant’s hey-day, Johnson comes to SU as the No. 17 small forward in the class of 2013. Yet on media day, few reporters come his way. He stands far from the center of attention as reporters crowd around stars C.J. Fair and Grant. Most people don’t expect Johnson to play much this season. He may not. But his quiet confidence will help prepare him if he does. He’s not a blue-chipper, 5-star guy, Bobby said, but he works every day.“Sometimes it’s better to be that guy that comes in under the radar and just does what he needs to do,” Bobby said. “Then all of a sudden everybody’s saying, ‘I knew he would be that guy.’”Bobby Johnson recalls asking his son a question back in high school. “It was funny because I asked B.J., ‘Suppose this summer you really blew up and had Roy Williams knocking on your door. Would you want to go to North Carolina?“And he was like, ‘No.’“I said ‘If Coach K was knocking on your door, would you want to go to Duke?’“And he was like, ‘No.’“He had a plan, and it’s what he wanted to do.”Now Johnson’s ready to live out the dream he has had since seventh grade: star at Syracuse. Jim Boeheim said Johnson has surprised the coaching staff up to this point. He’s young, but he can ball. “I’m just really excited to be here and for the season to start,” Johnson said. “That’s pretty much all I’ve been waiting for and now it’s here.” “What’s the most fascinating thing about B.J.?” a reporter asked. last_img read more

Los Angeles Clippers overcome adversity, Golden State Warriors to advance to NBA conference semifinals

first_imgNext victim.The Clippers over the past week have had to endure one of the bigger sports scandals in recent memory, no thanks to the racist comments of since-banned team owner Donald Sterling caught on tape.Battered but unbowed, they found a way to weather a hurtful and emotional storm when they defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-121 on Saturday to win Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series before 19,543 at Staples Center.The Clippers win the series 4-3 and advance to the conference semifinals and will play Game 1 at Oklahoma City on Monday. The Warriors, though they played a gallant series, will head home to Oakland, their season over. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error It was an incredible back-and-forth game with plenty of heroics.The Clippers trailed almost all of the first 2 1/2 quarters before they finally took the lead for the first time at 73-72 on a basket by J.J. Redick. The Clippers lead 87-84 heading into the fourth quarter.The Clippers led 103-96, but then the Warriors came back to take a 107-106 lead on a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala with 4:24 to play. But the Clippers were not going to roll over on their homecourt and when Blake Griffin threw down a dunk with 1:54 to play, they were up 112-109.The Warriors called time out to set up the final moments of a real thriller.Blake Griffin, who led the Clippers with 24 points, made a layup then rolled over backward after hitting the floor for a 116-111 lead. Leading 118-115, DeAndre Jordan threw down a dunk off a lob by Griffin for a 120-115 lead.center_img But Draymond Greed nailed a 3-point basket to get the Warriors within 120-118 with 13 seconds to play. The Clippers’ J.J. Redick made two free throws with 12.1 seconds to play. Stephen Curry then threw up an air ball, and Chris Paul made two free throws for a 124-118 lead.Curry came back and made a 3-pointer to cut his team’s deficit to 124-121, but Darren Collison made two free throws with two seconds left to seal Golden State’s fate.Paul scored 22 points and had 14 assists for the Clippers and Jamal Crawford added 22 points. Redick scored 20 points.Curry led the Warriors with 33 points, Green had 24 and Klay Thompson 15.The Clippers trailed almost all of the first 2 1/2 quarters before they finally took the lead for the first time at 73-72 on a basket by J.J. Redick. The Clippers led 87-84 heading into the fourth quarter.The Warriors didn’t waste any time jumping on the Clippers and led seven points at 15-8 with the game just over four minutes old. They led 19-10 on a dunk by Iguodala at the 6:20 mark, but the Clippers fought back with a 6-0 run that culminated with a 3-footer by DeAndre Jordan to get within 19-16.Los Angeles got to within 23-21 on an 18-footer by Chris Paul, but Golden State finished the quarter on 9-1 run to lead 32-22 heading into the second quarter.The Warriors up their advantage to 34-22 at the outset of the second on two free throws by Curry, but then it was the Clippers’ time to get their fans revved up a bit.Beginning with two free throws by Darren Collison, they outscored the Warriors 7-0 to cut their deficit to 34-29.Los Angeles kept at Golden State, thanks in large part to sixth-man Jamal Crawford. When Crawford hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw, the Warriors’ lead was down to 45-43.Down 49-44, Crawford buried another 3-pointer to get again get close at 49-47. Paul tied it 49-49 on a 16-footer with 3:58 left before intermission.Undaunted, the Warriors outscored the Clippers 15-7 the rest of the way to take a 64-56 lead into the break.Golden State shot 58.5 percent in the half, the Clippers 51.3. Crawford and Griffin both had 13 points in the half for Los Angeles, as did Stephen Curry and Draymond Green for Golden State.Before the game, the coaches engaged each other in psychological warfare after Clippers coach Doc Rivers was informed that Warriors coach Mark Jackson has been saying all the pressure is on the Clippers.“You know, whatever. He’s been saying that for a while, so I think what he’s trying to say is, ‘Please, my team, you’ve gotta relax yourself because it’s all on them.’ I think that’s what Mark’s really saying.”The Clippers are the No. 3 seed, the Warriors are No. 6. That’s not to mention that although both teams are battling nagging injuries, Golden State has not had the services of its starting post – Andrew Bogut – all series because of a fractured rib.Jackson pointed some of that out about 15 minutes after Rivers spoke to reporters.“I appreciatre Doc,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to play chess, three’s no question about it. It’s high level, I’m in over my head.”Laughs all around.“But the facts remain that they have two of the top 10 players in the world (meaning Blake Griffin and Chris Paul), the facts tell me that they have the Sixth-Man of the Year (Jamal Crawford), the facts tell me that have a future Hall of Fame coach.“The facts tell me that they’re a better basketball team over the course or 82 games, which made them the No. 3 seed, and have homecourt advantage in Game 7. So the facts are that they’re the better basketball team up until this point. And the pressure is on them to finish off a No. 6 seed.”last_img read more

MLB 2019 preview: AL West position battles to watch

first_imgSo Seattle is where we start our position battles to watch in the AL West.Mariners — Left field, shortstopWe couldn’t just pick one position here because these two spots are just too intriguing. After acquiring both Jay Bruce and Domingo Santana this offseason, left field looks packed in Seattle. Both players present interesting skill sets as Bruce used to be an MVP candidate and Santana showed himself to be one of the best pinch-hitters in all of MLB last season.But this is the AL, there isn’t much need for pinch-hitters and Jerry Dipoto didn’t pick up Santana to sit on the bench. This could turn into a platoon situation, as they line up well for that possibility.Come to hear Jay Bruce chat with @ROOTSPORTS_NW about the upcoming season, stay to hear about the time he called the Kingdome to try and speak with Ken Griffey Jr. when he was nine years old. 😅 #MarinersST pic.twitter.com/pUbJMnczHp— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) February 27, 2019At shortstop it gets a little weird. Three years ago, having J.P. Crawford on your team was a huge asset. Now, he has been traded to the Mariners after he hasn’t shown he can hit at the MLB level and even has had struggles at Triple-A. But Tim Beckham, who will compete for the spot, hasn’t been much better in his career.Both players are former first-round picks who haven’t shown they can be much more than utility players in MLB. That alone should motivate someone to step his game up.Angels — Opening day starterThe Angels are pretty well set in the field, but their rotation is anything but decided. Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney have both shown flashes of greatness, but each player has had bouts with injuries as well.A slow motion look at Tyler Skaggs’ delivery pic.twitter.com/7MM9mB00ku— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) February 19, 2019Again, both of these guys are former first rounders who haven’t quite lived up to the billing yet. Maybe a battle for this spot could spur one or the other into a big season.Athletics — Second baseThis one could be a bit of a stretch. The Athletics traded for Jurickson Profar because they want him to be their second baseman. However, they also moved Franklin Barreto to second base because Marcus Semien was too good at short.A’s taking BP and HoFer Rickey Henderson is helpng @JURICKSONPROFAR with his swing. pic.twitter.com/YUlOsqUub5— Josh Shure 🌴 (@shure_joshua) February 20, 2019They clearly value both of these players and yet, Barreto doesn’t have a proven MLB track record and Profar has had one season where he has shown he can hit consistently. Either man could win this job but Profar clearly has the leg up.Astros — Fifth starterThis battle got a lot more interesting on Wednesday as rookie fireballer Josh James suffered an injury and is no longer in the running to compete for the spot. That leaves Framber Valdez, Cionel Perez and Brad Peacock as possible candidates for the spot.Framber Valdez was mentioned earlier this morning as a guy looking to earn the 5th spot in the starting rotation. Valdez got some work in with Pitching Coach Brent Strom during a bullpen session: #AstrosST pic.twitter.com/djVEJyidyp— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) February 21, 2019All three players have shown good things in both the bullpen and the rotation (whether that be in MLB, or the minors in the case of Perez) and will be valuable at either spot. And in all honesty, they may just be holding a spot for Forrest Whitley, the game’s No. 1 pitching prospect. Still, it will be a fun battle for about a month. Rangers — Left fieldThe Rangers are odd because they seem to be pretty set at every position on the field and yet they’ll probably still lose more than 85 games. But if Texas wants to get better it has to start moving away from the three-true-outcomes guys across the board.It did that to an extent by giving Ronald Guzman the starting job at third base last year, and maybe it’s time to do it in left field as well. Willie Calhoun has not proven he can hit in the majors yet, however, he has proven to have good knowledge of the strike zone and ability to get on base in the minors. Texas needs a man like that in the lineup and if he hits he could force Joey Gallo out of the position.And lastly (for today), here’s @11WillieCalhoun taking a swing in the cage. This concludes today’s broadcast of slow motion szn pic.twitter.com/OMJ05GZ1bH— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) February 15, 2019Not out of the lineup. Don’t get us wrong there. But maybe Gallo has to move to third base and then Asdrubal Cabrera will be relegated to a bench spot. If Texas wants to improve, it should at least entertain this possibility. Every team in the American League West is chasing the Astros.While Houston is likely to lose 3/5 of the team’s starting rotation from a year ago, it still returns All-Star caliber players at five positions and two Cy Young candidates in the starting rotation. MLB 2019 preview: 5 prospect storylines to watch in spring training This team is good so every other team will have to make the most of their rosters to compete with Houston. For some, that will be a tougher task than others.And while the Mariners are likely to be one of the teams it will be tough for, they still have quite a bit of talent despite a lot of turnover. Related Newslast_img read more

College World Series 2019: Michigan run should motivate Big Ten to become baseball power

first_imgWhere does Michigan — and Big Ten baseball as a whole — go from here?  That is the question after the Wolverines fell short in the finals of the College World Series on Wednesday. Vanderbilt took the best-of-three series with an 8-2 victory in Game 3 that gave the Southeastern Conference another national championship at the Big Ten’s expense.   That does not diminish what the Wolverines accomplished in the last month under head coach Eric Bakich. Michigan beat UCLA, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, in a best-of-three series in the super regionals. Tommy Henry dominated in his College World Series starts, including Game 1 vs. the Commodores on Monday. MORE: Sign up for DAZN to watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whiparound show  The top seed failed to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2015. The Wolverines were the first Big Ten team to reach the championship series since 1966, and they did it with a diverse roster led by stars Jimmy Kerr and Jordan Brewer. The run didn’t just evoke memories of their CWS teams in the 1980s that featured Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo and Hal Morris, it also prompted a question the Big Ten should be asking more often: Why not go for it in baseball? For Michigan, that should be an easy answer. The longer Bakich stays, the more chances this team should have. The Wolverines last won a national championship in hockey in 1998, in football in 1997 and in basketball (men’s or women’s) in 1989. The baseball team won in 1953 and 1962 and nearly broke that 21-year drought among the four programs. It should be positioned to make another run with an improved roster after the recruiting boost that comes with a College World Series appearance.  The rest of the Big Ten should follow suit. That means places like Ohio State, which won the conference tournament and keeps score with the Wolverines at birth, and Nebraska, which has yet to get back to Omaha since joining the conference. The process won’t be perfect. Weather is a legitimate factor in scheduling and recruiting, but Michigan proved that it was an excuse only for so long.When you look at other sports, the only one the Big Ten dominates is wrestling. Iowa (2000) and Minnesota (2001, 2002) won the first three wrestling national championships of the millennium and the Gophers, Hawkeyes, Penn State and Ohio State have combined for every national championship in the sport since 2007.  The conference’s major sports have combined for one national championship this decade, and that was Ohio State’s run to the first College Football Playoff title in 2014. Men’s basketball hasn’t brought home a national championship since Michigan State in 2000.   Minnesota (2002, 2003), Wisconsin (2006) and Michigan State (2007) have combined for four national championships in men’s ice hockey, but that sport does not have a true Power 5 presence.  Baseball could, if Michigan and the Big Ten build on what has happened in Omaha the past few weeks. The run didn’t end with a national championship, but the publicity Michigan generated opened a lot of eyes in a part of the country where baseball can succeed.  We’ll see where it goes from here.last_img read more

Klopp’s methods making me ‘an even better player’ – Liverpool star Coutinho

first_imgPhilippe Coutinho insists Liverpool are moving in the right direction thanks to Jurgen Klopp’s ‘heavy metal football’, but also admits he has a soft spot for former boss Brendan Rodgers.The Brazil international hit a purple patch in late October/November with four goals in three matches, including one in the 4-1 thrashing of Sunday’s Capital One Cup final opponents Manchester City.He is on track to beat the eight goals he got last season, which was his best-scoring campaign at Anfield, and Coutinho believes he has already progressed under Klopp.“It feels like we are moving in the right direction under him and we believe we can fight for the big prizes and enjoy some special moments with the fans,” Coutinho told World Soccer magazine.“In training, we are working hard and enjoying his methods, which are helping to make us better players.“Klopp has put his ideas forward and they are helping to make me an even better player.“I have been lucky to work under some fine managers already in my career and they have each added an element to my game.“The likes of [Rafael] Benitez, [Mauricio] Pochettino and Dunga are great coaches but I will always have a special gratitude to Brendan.“He believed in me and brought me here. He gave me the opportunity to play for such a great club.” 1 Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho last_img read more