With another week in the books, it’s time to take a look at the winners and losers in the wide world of sports.
Winner: UConn Men’s Basketball
The Huskies are on fire heading down the stretch, having won four-straight games. Although this may not be as impressive as the women’s team’s 101-game streak, it is encouraging for a team that struggled earlier in the season. UConn has also won seven of their last eight contests.
Their most recent victories, 64-63 over Temple in Philadelphia, and 65-62 to top Memphis in Hartford, were thrillers. Jalen Adams sank a whirling layup with 2.9 seconds remaining against Temple, capping off an exhilarating comeback similar to the one against Memphis a few nights earlier. Adams has been helping the Huskies become relevant again, earning the American Conference player of the week honors.
With four games remaining it will still be difficult for UConn to make the postseason, but they do have a chance if they continue to win. If their hot streak continues, they could have a shot at winning the American Conference tournament and earn a consequential playoff appearance.
Winner: Tulane Women’s Basketball
Only against UConn can a loss feel like a victory in women’s basketball. Tulane fell to the Huskies by only three points on Saturday, nearly ending UConn’s historic winning streak. In the end, a three point loss counts the same as any other defeat, but remaining in this game surely provides them with some confidence.
The game marked the first time on the Huskies’ winning streak that they beat an American Athletic Conference opponent by single digits. It shows that UConn can be beaten not only in the NCAA tournament, but even in the American tournament.
It is still unlikely that UConn will fall, but performances such as this give each of the other teams hope.
Loser: Randy Levine
The average fan should not know this New York Yankees’ executive’s name, but because he likes to sound off with the media, he steals the limelight occasionally. Levine, the Yankees’ president, has repeatedly caused controversy with his comments to the press, most recently about the team’s star reliever Dellin Betances.
The Yankees and Betances went to arbitration this past week over a mere two million dollars. When it comes to the Yankees, that’s pocket change. Instead of finding a compromise with the elite reliever, the Yankees questionably chose to go to a hearing, ultimately saving them the chump change they, for some reason, desperately desired.
After winning the hearing, Randy Levine said that Betances wanting the extra two million was basically preposterous. In expressing this, Levine makes it sound like he has been absent from the game of baseball since the nineties.
His reasoning behind restraining from offering the extra cash was that Betances is not a closer. Yet Betances recorded twenty-two saves last year and is considered one of the top relievers in all of baseball. The consensus throughout the game currently is that any late inning relief role is equally as important as the closer.
In many games, Betances is getting the essential outs in the seventh or eighth inning that lead to securing a win. The 2016 playoffs featured relief pitchers like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman entering the game prior to the ninth in situations where the game was on the line.
Levine and the Yankees not only looked ignorant in withholding the extra two million, but especially in bragging about their “victory” following the hearing. Why would any executive of a team come out and criticize one of their own top players?
It is simply bad public relations. His comments turn a story that no one would have blinked an eye at into headline news. The team is only a few days into spring training, and already Levine has decided to cast a dark cloud over camp.
Even if anything Levine was saying was legitimate, it still would not make sense to throw one of your assets under the bus.
Loser: Sacramento Kings
On Sunday, amidst the NBA All-Star festivities, the Kings agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for a sizeable package of players and draft picks. While the Pelicans had to give up some strong pieces in order to acquire Cousins, the value they gave up was not nearly sufficient.
Cousins is averaging an outstanding 27.8 points per game this season, and will join Pelicans star Anthony Davis to create a dynamic duo. The trade could propel the Pelicans towards the playoffs, as they currently sit just shy of a berth.
While the Kings received decent players and picks in return for Cousins, there is nothing more valuable than proven talent. The NBA is a league where teams stack superstars on their rosters in order to be successful. One superstar standout can make a huge difference on the court.
As an elite player, Cousins can change the direction of a franchise, while the compensation gained for him may amount to nothing.
Loser: UConn Athletics
UConn makes its students run through an obstacle course just to get a good seat at a game. The strong school spirit of the student body is often suppressed by the school’s ticket antics and distant facilities.
For basketball, to get student tickets, people must enter a lottery and hope to win the opportunity to buy them. In theory, this seems like a reasonable system. But the student section at games, specifically at Gampel Pavilion, is so small that very few students can acquire these tickets. With how small the section is, there is often insufficient space for people in the section, forcing some people with the student tickets into the stands behind it.
UConn could easily expand the amount of season tickets they sell with the size of Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center. Having to jump through loopholes, monitor UConn Buy & Sell on Facebook, and ask around to get a ticket to a game discourages students from attending. If more students had season tickets to the basketball games, UConn would see attendance rise.
Having to make the trek to Hartford for many sports events is another huge difficulty for students. Hockey, football, and half of the basketball games take place nearly forty-five minutes away from UConn at Rentschler Field and the XL Center in the state’s capital.
Anytime someone wants to go to a game in Hartford they have to plan it days in advance by ensuring they get a bus ticket and have the necessary extra two hours to get there and back. For football this is not too troubling since games are rarer and occur on the weekend. But for a basketball or hockey game on a random Tuesday in the middle of the semester, the turnout is going to be lacking. Students get piled with work or want to enjoy other activities, and do not have the time to devote an entire evening to a game. When games are on campus, students can decide to go to a game at the last minute.
UConn’s epic win over Memphis Thursday night, for instance, would have had an electric atmosphere had it been played in Storrs at Gampel Pavilion.
Dylan Barrett is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.