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Following a season-opening loss to UC San Diego, the USC men’s volleyball team is looking to re-group with a slate of matchups against top-ranked opponents.Feather in the cap · Sophomore middle blocker Robert Feathers has tallied a combined 19 kills in the season’s first two games. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanThe Trojans got off to a solid start in that regard, earning their first victory of the season by knocking off reigning champion and the No. 1 UC Irvine Anteaters 25-21, 25-23, 27-25 Friday night.The Trojans atoned for their tough loss to the Anteaters in last season’s championship game in which they were swept on their home court. The victory enabled the Trojans to overcome their loss at the hands of UC San Diego, also a three-set sweep.Sophomore middle blocker Robert Feathers shined on both sides of the court, registering a team-high 12 kills to go along with six blocks. Freshman outside hitter Alex Slaught and junior opposite Tanner Jansen each notched eight kills to pace the Trojan attack alongside Feathers, while the defense was anchored by freshman libero Brooks Varni (eight digs) and sophomore setter Micah Christenson (seven digs).The Trojans are coming off a successful 2012 campaign, one in which USC coach Bill Ferguson lost four 2011 starters, including three All-Americans. After starting slowly at 5-4, the Trojans dominated the remainder of the season to finish with a No. 2 overall ranking and 26-4 record, including an 18-4 mark in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play to earn their second straight regular season title. USC thoroughly dominated its regular season schedule, posting an 18-game winning streak, a 14-match MPSF winning streak and an 11-game home winning streak.As the Trojans attempt to make another trip to the NCAA Championship, youth will play a major role. Ferguson leads a 2013 squad featuring 18 underclassmen (including 10 freshmen) and only one senior opposite/outside hitter Maddison McKibbin.After lagging behind the competition during the earlier part of the 2000s, the Trojans have developed a dependable program behind Ferguson, who is in his seventh season at the helm. The two-time National Coach of the Year has guided Troy to three NCAA Final Four appearances in the last four years. The team will attempt to make up for the absences of 2012 National Player of the Year Tony Ciarelli at outside hitter and All-American middle blocker Steven Shandrick.Following the resounding win over the Anteaters, the Trojans (1-1) will return to the Galen Center for a three-game homestand, beginning with a match against Pac-12 rival Stanford on Friday night.
Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Here’s how deftly LeBron James reached in his thumb and pulled out a plum.With two years on his contract in New Orleans, Anthony Davis hired LeBron’s agent, moved up his timetable and asked to be traded to the Lakers … even as they sank out of sight, despite Magic Johnson fleeing and the front office becoming a league-wide joke … culminating in last week’s agreement that will bring A.D. here.This looked like tampering with a capital T. The NBA just couldn’t prove it.If the league imposes draconian fines for mere flirting, this went far beyond Magic joking about going “wink wink” at Paul George on Jimmy Kimmel’s show or GM Rob Pelinka emailing George’s agent, for which the league fined the Lakers $500,000. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions I have tried to offer a defense for Pelinka, who was pilloried by the press after being gored by Magic. Nevertheless, even before this episode, it was clear enough that if they needed a scapegoat next season, it would be Rob.Of course, there’s a better reason to go outside to find the best managerial talent, and that’s to professionalize the Lakers basketball operation, which is now running at a dangerously dysfunctional level.Happily for the Lakers, they have two more guaranteed seasons with James, who’s now out wooing more stars.Now to see what the organization is capable of, if anything. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Brutally candid as this was, it left Paul out front to take the heat, and James free to keep pulling the strings behind the curtain.Get it? This was a LeBron production with the Lakers reduced to sitting back and waiting to see how it turned out.James had long tried to bring stars to ugly duckling Cleveland or capped-out Miami with little success. Now, even in the Lakers’ downtrodden state, he can wheel and deal as never before. With keen awareness of what he can get away with, the NBA’s most scrutinized player does it in plain sight.Last December, amid speculation that Davis was about to ask the Pelicans to trade him, LeBron dared to discuss it, saying it would be “amazing” to play alongside A.D.Amid the ensuing furor, the teams met in Staples Center a few days later … after which James took Davis out to dinner, all but confirming that this was happening.Outgoing, gregarious and popular among his peers, LeBron does this effortlessly, a new experience for the Lakers after years with lone wolf Kobe Bryant.Only in Kobe’s later, mellower years was he close enough to any star to recruit him, as he tried to do with Carmelo Anthony in 2014. Melo called him a surrogate big brother, but still re-signed in New York.Now the Lakers have the king of the recruiters … thankfully for them, since all else is chaos.Even with James hand-delivering Davis and reportedly recruiting Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler, the Lakers’ front office flopped around like a fish on a dock.The master plan all season was to trade for A.D., moving enough salary to leave a maximum slot of $32 million for an elite free agent.Unfortunately for the Lakers, when the deal went down, they neglected to include rookies Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, off-loading another $5 million in salary … or account for the cost of A.D.’s trade bonus … slashing their cap space to $24 million.Insiders think it’s fixable with Pelinka now in talks with Atlanta, trying to give the rookies away or pay the Hawks to take them … but it wouldn’t have been necessary if they had thought it through.NBA teams are expected to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the Byzantine language of the salary cap – not behind it, trying to fix mistakes.Instead, the Lakers didn’t realize the problem until agreeing to the deal for A.D. They then went back to ask the Pelicans to restructure the deal but were turned down.In a sad irony for the Lakers, Pelinka was hired to be Johnson’s salary-cap guy as well as overseeing all the detail work, with Magic making only occasional appearances while also running his business empire. For a team with their stature … or, at least, their tradition … last week’s bumbling was unheard-of incompetence.“The Clippers have five or six really smart people in the front office who do nothing but think of this stuff,” said Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, an actual salary-cap expert.“The Lakers have more of a one-man show with Pelinka.”This is just the latest in their string of embarrassments, starting when Johnson fled … continuing with Jeanie Buss convening a seven-person committee to help Pelinka hire a coach that included marketing officials Linda Rambis and Tim Harris … then lost their top two candidates before settling for twice-fired Frank Vogel.Related Articles AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersWhat James did was outright piracy, not only wooing A.D. away from the Pelicans but undercutting their trade leverage.Davis first gave the Pelicans a list of four teams. When that didn’t do it at midseason, he cut it to the Lakers and Knicks.The Knicks were presumably there only in the event they landed Kevin Durant and Irving. With little to offer, there were only perfunctory trade talks.Then there was Boston, which didn’t make the list but had keen interest and by far the most to offer with three first-round picks, a future Memphis pick in 2020 or 2021 and highly regarded young players such as Jayson Tatum.This was so worrisome to LeBron & Co., Paul went public to warn the Celtics off, telling Sports Illustrated, “They can trade for him but it will be for one year.” How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years
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