Category: Uncategorized

Health care workers, thank you!

Dear health care worker,

This is long overdue. It’s a message we should have shared long ago, but we didn’t perhaps because we overlooked the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t anymore. It can no longer be ignored. The world has stopped.

Businesses have shut down. Sports have taken a back seat. And for most people, they have to abide by the stay-at-home order.

But not you.

Your courage is showing every day as you go to work and risk your health for others. You go home and before even saying hello to your loved ones, you must shower. During these unprecedented times, with many unknowns and no end in sight, you continue to fight.

It’s no secret, health care workers are a special breed. High stressed situations, chaotic scenes, sometimes dealing with life and death. For what? To keep others safe.

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But what has taken place over the past few months has been incredible—a story of selflessness—facing a virus with no known treatment. A virus that shows no discrimination. With over 1.9 million cases in the United States of America, with over 63,000 deaths, you continue to be positive.

It is because of you we can enjoy the simple things. When the present is so unclear, the future means more now than ever before. With your confidence, there is the hope of light at the end of the tunnel.

You may never get publicly recognized for your contributions, but know your sacrifice means the world. We appreciate everything you are doing. The most beautiful human trait somebody can have is the willingness to sacrifice their health and safety for the well beings of others.

Because the truth is, special people do extraordinary things.

You are my hero.

Alabama lands transfer Jordan Bruner

One of the most significant transfers on the market has made his highly-anticipated decision.

Yale transfer Jordan Bruner has announced on social media that he will be attending the University of Alabama for his final year of eligibility. He chose the Crimson Tide over Baylor and Maryland.

Last season, Bruner averaged 10.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game. He earned Academic All-Ivy Team.

During his time at Yale, he finished fifth all-time in program history in blocks with 101. He scored a total of 857 points and grabbed 646 rebounds. He missed the 2017-18 season due to injury.

In his first season as head coach, Nate Oats is putting together an impressive recruiting class. 247Sports ranks Alabama’s class as 15th in the nation.

Alabama lands three-star Darius Miles

Alabama basketball continues to impress on the recruiting trail landing its third player in 10 days.

On Tuesday, 2020 three-star forward Darius Miles announced in an interview with AllFacts Media that he is committed to the Crimson Tide. Other schools in the mix were Boston College and Minnesota.

The Washingon D.C. native finished his senior season playing at IMG Academy, averaging 12.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

According to 247Sports, Miles is a three-star and the 152nd best overall prospect while Rivals has him as a four-star and 113th in the country. 247Sports also gives Alabama the 15th best group of 2020 recruits in the nation.

Alabama is still looking at Yale transfer Jordan Bruner and Ohio State transfer Luther Muhammad, who entered the transfer portal earlier this week.

Alabama loses a crucial game against Mississippi State

Alabama’s NCAA tournament chances get slimmer each time they step foot on the court. Unable to finish in February has proven to be the Crimson Tide’s kryptonite.

In each of the past four seasons, Alabama hasn’t earned more than two wins to finish its last five games. Until that changes, nothing changes. The expectations remain the same and the NCAA tournament isn’t one of them.

The Crimson Tide has a better chance of blowing a double-digit second-half lead then they do making the round of 64.

Alabama (15-13, 7-8 SEC), without junior guard John Petty Jr. who left the game with a right elbow injury, fell to Mississippi State 80-73.

“That was a tough loss,” head coach Nate Oats said in a press release. “(Mississippi State) is playing hard and playing well.”

With two minutes remaining, Alabama missed multiple makeable shots; junior forward Herbert Jones fouled out and junior forward Alex Reece continued to be a problem.

“We missed some layups, free throws and some wide-open threes we needed to knock down, especially with Petty not being out there on the floor,” Oats said.

Reece finished just 2-of-9 from the field, with four of Alabama’s 10 turnovers.

Mississippi State’s Tyson Carter scored six straight points, two layups and a pair of free throws to put the final touches on the game.

Ahead of its matchup with the Bulldogs, Alabama knew starting forward Reggie Perry would be tough to contain.

It proved to be right.

Perry led Mississippi State, scoring a team-high 21 points and recording a team-high 12 rebounds. Forward Abdul Ado added eight points, blocking two shots.

Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. led all scorers with 29 points–16 in the second half–and seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford scored 17 points–12 in the second half–with five rebounds.

“I thought Beetle played hard and Kira had a great game,” Oats said. “It just wasn’t quite enough to beat a team as talented as Mississippi State in their gym tonight.”

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday to face South Carolina (16-11, 8-6 SEC).

Alabama is in a position needing to win out in the regular season and make an SEC tournament run to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Tipoff with the Gamecocks is slated for 8:30 p.m.

Deontay Wilder to exercise rematch, opens up about loss

Former heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder will exercise his option for an immediate rematch against newly crowned WBC and lineal champion Tyson Fury.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO’s) knocked Wilder down twice, cut his ear open and pressured him so much so that Wilder’s co-trainer, Mark Breland, was forced to throw in the towel in the middle of the seventh round.

“We’re definitely going to exercise it,” said Wilder, who spoke to ESPN days after the fight in Las Vegas. “We’re looking forward to it. I’m a warrior and a true champion, and I fight like that every bit of the way. We’re definitely going on with it. That’s for sure. By the summertime.”

It was Wilder’s first career loss, one that sent shockwaves through the entire sport. Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KO’s) was dominated from the start.

Wilder got backed up to the ropes on several occasions, trapped in the corner and suffered a two centimeter cut in his ear, which required seven stitches. He was outboxed and outclassed. The boxer who relies heavily on his devastating right hand, couldn’t land it. Fury defeated Wilder doing what so many are afraid to do, stand in front of him and fight.

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“There were a lot of things that went wrong leading up to the fight, in the last minutes before the fight, but I accept full responsibility,” Wilder said about the outcome of the fight. “I paid a severe price because my legs were how they were because of my uniform. My uniform was way too heavy. It was 40-plus pounds. We had it on 10 or 15 minutes before we even walked out and then put the helmet on. That was extra weight, then the ring walk, then going up the stairs. It was like a real workout for my legs. When I took it off, I knew immediately that game has changed.”

Wilder, who wore a 45-pound costume to honor Black History Month, said the weight of the outfit affected his legs, saying from the third round on, his legs were shot.

He also voiced his opinion on Kenny Bayless–one of boxings most respected referees–for his lack of protection.

“The referee told me specifically that if I hit him in the back of the head or hit him on the break, he’d disqualify me,” Wilder said to Yahoo Sports. “But I guess that was only directed toward me because he allowed Fury to do those things. That’s the one thing that bothered me of everything.”

Bayless did take a point from Fury in the fifth. However, that didn’t matter to Wilder, who was significantly behind on the scorecards.

Wilder was very upset with Breland that he threw in the towel, instead of letting him go out on “his shield.” Breland, who won an Olympic gold medal and was a two-time professional world titlist before becoming a trainer, did the right thing saving his fighter even more damage. Though, right now, Wilder may not see it that way.

“I’d rather die in the ring than have the towel thrown in,” Wilder told The Athletic. “I’m a warrior.”

Despite the fight having to take place by July 18, per the contractual agreement between Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions, Fury’s promoter Bob Arum said it could be delayed until the fall in hopes of having the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium as a host.

 

Wilder vs. Fury II means more now than ever for the sport of boxing

It’s been a long time since there’s been a heavyweight title fight of this magnitude. Heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will meet center ring for the second time. Waiting to crown a champion.

On Dec. 1, 2018, it was already an excellent fight. Fury was outboxing the puncher. But when Wilder–perhaps the best puncher the sport has ever seen–landed his devastating right hand, Fury was sent into an alternate universe. Flat on the canvas, back down face up. Motionless. Dazed. As the referee continued the count, a spirit of some sort traveled through Fury’s body, he rose again and finished the fight. After 12 rounds, judges scored it a controversial split draw: 114-112 for Fury, 115-111 for Wilder and 113-113.

Ahead of the rematch, because of a shoving match between the two fighters at the final news conference on Wednesday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission said that there would not be a face-off following their weigh-in Friday.

Even so, standing face-to-face separated by rope and security guards, the two heavyweights stared, exchanging words, gesturing hand signals to one another. The intensity was there. Fans in the packed MGM Grand Garden Arena cheered ahead of the most anticipated heavyweight championship fight since Lennox Lewis retained the title in his long-awaited showdown against Mike Tyson in 2002.

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It has the feeling of a super fight. All signs point to this being the fight that changes how people look at boxing.

Before it was Gene Tunney beating Jack Dempsey, in September 1927 named the “The Long-Count Fight.”

It was Joe Louis knocking out Max Schmeling in June 1938.

It was all the masterful performances by Muhammad Ali against Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

Or it was the start to one of boxing’s most celebrated eras, the age of “The Four Kings,” Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

But in less than 24 hours, all that changes. Wilder, a 6-foot-7 puncher from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Fury, a 6-foot-9 boxer from Manchester, England, set up a rematch for the ages. With both fighters in their prime, it doesn’t get better for the sport.

Rivals are colliding. It could rejuvenate heavyweight boxing to what it once was.

Fury’s promoter Bob Arum and Wilder’s promotor boxing power broker Al Haymon hasn’t worked much together. For so long, boxing has been suffocating, searching for survival. Boxing used to be a mainstream sport, being relied on by the heavyweight.

It may be that way soon again.

Arum stated the event sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena, roughly generating $16 million in gate revenue.

The first Wilder-Fury fight attracted 325,000 pay-per-view buys and the rematch is estimated to crush those numbers.

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ESPN, who works with Top Rank Boxing and Fox Sports, a partner with Premier Boxing Champions, joined together. Both will screen the fight on its pay-per-view services and online platforms. During the College Football Championship Game, which attracted 25.6 million viewers in January, the fight was promoted. During the Super Bowl, two commercials ran, which viewership peaked at 99.9 million.

Everything is at stake: Wilder’s WBC title and Fury’s lineal crown. The winner will get a 60/40 split for a third fight that Saturday’s loser has 30 days to accept. The winner will likely be considered as the recognized heavyweight champion.

England’s Anthony Joshua currently holds three of the division’s four alphabet titles. However, the way he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019 has taken much of the hype away from a future matchup between Wilder or Fury.

Still, Lennox Lewis remains the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, which happened on Nov, 13th 1999.

Wilder is a bronze medalist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has 41 knockouts. Just when his opponent thinks he’s matching him, his one-punch power gets put on display—most recently against Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz.

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Fury, on the other hand, has a nation backing him. Boxing has remained a mainstream sport in England where boxers are national icons. He has 20 knockouts. He’s got the toughness. The Swiftness. And has mastered the art of boxing.

The fight is a match made in heaven for boxing fans all across the world.

And as the sport is entering new territory, it’s not the first time rivals have aligned; they did so for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Both screened on Showtime and HBO pay-per-view. But, it is the first time doing so for a heavyweight battle.

In 40 years, people will be talking about where they were when this fight took place, just like people do with so many past fights. It has that type of impact, not only on boxing but on American sports.

Sportswriters, fans, people just watching because it’s on TV will be talking about this fight. It’s been a long time coming, but the next great heavyweight is upon us.

Both fighters are impacting the sport.

Both fighters boxing desperately need.

More now than ever.

But, only one can be victorious.

Alabama earns much needed top-25 win

No frustration. No lack of urgency. Just blue-collar basketball.

On a night Alabama retired Wendell Hudson’s No. 20 jersey, everything went right for the Crimson Tide against No. 25 LSU.

After playing only seven minutes against Auburn, junior forward Herbert Jones played 29 minutes for the Crimson Tide. Essentially playing one-handed, having a cast on his left wrist, Jones was the difference-maker. He finished with a career-high 17 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, six points, three assists and two blocks.

He was taking charges. Diving for loose balls. Contesting shots. Giving maximum effort. But despite his one-handed heroism, the Tigers rallied from an 18-point deficit to just one. Alabama, once again, was blowing a double-digit lead.

But, Alabama’s storybook night would not be taken from them.

Junior forward Alex Reese hit the three-pointer in the final minute of a game, Jones hit two free-throws, with just his right hand. For a team that struggles down the stretch, it was on the verge of pulling off the upset. With 1:37 left, LSU’s Skylar Mays hit a three-pointer that cut it to 79-78.

That was the closest the Tigers would get.

The Crimson Tide pulled off the 88-82 win over the Tigers and gave themselves a second quality win for its NCAA tournament résumé. Alabama (14-11, 6-6 SEC) now has wins over LSU and Auburn. Entering the game, the Tigers were No. 27 in the NET rankings. After losing, it is crucial for Alabama that LSU (18-7, 9-3 SEC) remains in the top-30, allowing the win to count as a quadrant one win.

“It was a big win. We’ve been saying we needed another Quad 1 win and we got it,” head coach Nate Oats’ said in a press release. “I thought our energy out of the gate was really good.”

Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. led Alabama with a game-high 27 points–18 of which came in the second half– and four assists, while freshman guard Jaden Shackelford added 26 points and a game-high five three-pointers. Junior forward Galin Smith had his best game of the year, finishing with 10 points and six rebounds.

The Crimson Tide finished with 13 made shots from beyond the arc to bring its season total to 269, which broke the program record of 259 three-pointers made, set back in 2015-16 across 33 games. This year it took only 25 games.

LSU outrebounded Alabama 44-42; however, the Crimson Tide had the 23-17 advantage in the second half. And after shooting 59 three-balls against Auburn, Alabama found much success playing aggressively in the paint getting the whistle, finishing 19-of-26 for 73.1 percent from the foul line.

After finishing 1-1 this week, Alabama will be favored in five of its last six games, except against Mississippi State, respectively. With an opportunity to finish the season with 20 wins, the Crimson Tide’s NCAA tournament hopes remain alive. 18 wins heading into the SEC Tournament may be enough. 19 wins may be the sweet spot. But, 20 wins might seal the deal.

Alabama will be back in action Feb. 19 at Coleman Coliseum against Texas A&M (12-12, 6-6 SEC). Tipoff is slated for 6:00 CT.

How Alabama’s 2020 Recruiting Class Shaped Out

National Signing Day saw Alabama football sign three additional athletes to its 2020 roster, ending with a total of 25 signees.

Javon Baker, Jamil Burroughs and Damieon George each signed their National Letter of Intent on Wednesday during the February signing period.

The 25 high school players come from eight states, including Alabama (9), California (2), Florida (3), Georgia (5), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Ohio (1) and Texas (3).

The Crimson Tide added five defensive linemen, four players apiece at linebacker and defensive back, three running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen, a quarterback, a tight end and an athlete.

Alabama’s 2020 signing class ranks No. 2 nationally by 247Sports and third by ESPN and Rivals. Although Georgia edged out Alabama for the No. 1 spot, the 25-man class had the highest average ranking per player at 93.45 by 247Sports and 4.0 by Rivals.com.

The Crimson Tide signed six five-star prospects, including William Anderson Jr., Chris Braswell, Demouy Kennedy, Drew Sanders, Timothy Smith and Bryce Young.

Eighteen players were ranked in the ESPN300, eighteen players were listed on the Rivals250, ten players were listed on the Rivals100, eighteen players were ranked in the Top247 and each of the 25 student-athletes is listed as a four-star prospect by one of the following: 247Sports, Rivals.com and/or ESPN.com.

Alabama Suffers Third-Straight Loss to Tennessee

Call it what it is, bad basketball. After falling apart against Arkansas Saturday night, Alabama basketball lost a much-needed home game against Tenessee 69-68, equaling three straight losses.

In its second straight game without junior forward Herbert Jones, the Crimson Tide is starting to feel his absence. Nobody is doing the dirty work. Poor decisions are being made. And for how good Kira Lewis Jr. is, he continues to do too much.

Tennessee outrebounded Alabama 42-33, making it the eighth time in 22 games that the Crimson Tide lost the rebounding battle. Tennessee forced 12.95 turnovers per game, Alabama had 20, including 12 in the first half.

Alabama was held to the second-lowest output in a game this season since scoring 67 at Kentucky and against North Carolina. 

With under two minutes remaining, Alex Reece, Galin Smith and Javian Davis all fouled out. The Crimson Tide was left playing five guards, the tallest being John Petty Jr. at 6’5. As a result, the Volunteers finished 23-of-32 from the line.

“We have three bigs that we play in the rotation and they all end up fouling out, which was big because they bodied us up inside,” head coach Nate Oats said in a press release. “John (Petty) had to play the four position pretty much the whole night because of us being in foul trouble, but he did a great job and had 11 rebounds.”

Alabama finished just 5-of-8 from the foul line.

The offense continues to be a problem. They score in runs and suffer in droughts. The Crimson Tide led the Razorbacks for more than 25 minutes before losing. They led the Volunteers for 32:27 until they didn’t. Its the third time in four games that Alabama blew a double-digit lead.

Lewis Jr. led Alabama with 19 points, shooting 8-of-15 from the field, with four assists and three rebounds. Freshman Jaden Shackelford finished with 12 points and Petty Jr., a year after scoring 30 points against the Volunteers, added just eight points and led the team with 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying seven assists.

The Crimson Tide was already in a must-win situation. They’ve lost three straight. Two winnable games. As a result, their NCAA tournament hopes are fading into darkness. Things need to change. And fast.

Alabama will start a two-game road trip with Georgia Saturday at 5 p.m. Alabama is 2-5 in the last seven meetings with the Bulldogs.

Alabama Faces Crucial Home Test Against Arkansas

Nothing has changed for Alabama basketball following its recent 90-76 loss to LSU on Wednesday night. Its play fast. Be tough. Shoot the three-point ball. And run in transition. When all goes according to plan, the Crimson Tide is a dangerous team, one that can play with anyone in the country. When it crumbles, haunting memories of past Alabama teams resurface.

This season the Crimson Tide has 589 shots from behind the arc, has made 207 more than any other SEC team and holds a league-best 35.1 percent. Against LSU, Alabama went 10-of-38 from three-point range. John Petty Jr., one of the Crimson Tide’s top three-point shooters, finished 0-of-3.

In what is essentially a must-win for the Crimson Tide, finding success is needed. And that won’t be easy. Arkansas is one of the best teams defending the three-point shot, holding opponents to just 24.6 percent, which is best in the nation.

Entering the game in Baton Rouge, Alabama led the SEC in rebounding. Though, the Crimson Tide has struggled the past two games. Kansas State outrebounded Alabama 45-33, scoring 15-second chance points. And LSU outrebounded Alabama 49-31, with 20-second chance points.

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Alabama needs to play tough, do the dirty work and get rebounds, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In the previous two games, teams have outrebounded the Crimson Tide offensively 36-14.

That dirty work can keep Arkansas off the foul line. Winning four of the last five games, Alabama has allowed teams to stay within reach, despite being the better team. Missouri went 31-of-31 from the line, Vanderbilt went 17-of-20, Kansas State went 12-of-19 and LSU finished 19-of-20.

Significantly better than years past, Alabama needs to continue getting to the foul line. Kira Lewis driving in the paint. Because with March in sight, every win matters. And, history shows how important free throws are.

Alabama (12-8, 4-3 SEC) is looking to snap a six-game head-to-head losing streak to Arkansas (15-5, 3-4 SEC). The Crimson Tide’s last win in the series came on March 8, 2014, with an 83-58 victory. Already with a staple win over then No. 4 Auburn 83-64 and remaining No. 40 in the NET rankings after its loss to LSU, beating the Razorbacks will prove to be a great place holder.