Monthly Archives: August 2015

Jack Eichel preparing for ride to begin with Sabres

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jack Eichel Jerseys, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, has only a week and a half remaining at home before he embarks on his rookie season for the Buffalo Sabres Jerseys.

Eichel — along with No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid Jerseys — has been gaining attention for the possible impact he could make starting in the 2015-16 season since before the Sabres selected the 18-year-old forward in the first round. And with the combine, draft and rookie development camp, it’s been a busy summer.

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Now the former Boston University standout, Hobey Baker Award winner and native of North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is finally getting time to enjoy some peace and quiet while focusing on training.

“It’s cooled down a lot and just getting into a daily routine of training and skating, which I’m trying to prepare for training camp,” Eichel said. “From the time of the combine until development cheap nhl jerseys camp it was definitely pretty hectic. It was quite the media circus and it seemed like everyone was dragging you around to do something, so I really didn’t have the time to settle down somewhere and train. Now that it’s all over it’s been nice to just be able to relax and try to prepare.”

Eichel has been spending his days at Edge Performance Systems with nearly 20 other local pro hockey players, including Brian Boyle Jerseys of the Tampa Bay Lightning Jerseys, Keith Yandle of the New York Rangers, Jimmy Hayes of the Boston Bruins, Kevin Hayes of the Rangers and Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild.

It’s an intense workout in the morning and it concludes with an on-ice session. EPS owner Brian McDonough has created a competitive environment in which these athletes can push each other during the offseason. It’s this type of atmosphere that’s perfect for Eichel and fellow 2015 first-rounder Noah Hanifin Jerseys, who was selected No. 5 overall by the Carolina Hurricanes.

“It’s a good place to work out and it’s a great atmosphere, a really good environment,” Eichel said. “There are a lot of guys that have played in the league and you learn a lot wholesale jerseys just being around them every day; how to take care of yourself and how hard they work in the gym and it rubs off on you. This is a great place to train.

“It says something about Brian and his training and this gym. People want to come here and train because they know they’re going to get stronger and they know they’re going to prepare well for the season and that’s what makes it a special place, knowing that this is the top gym to train at in the offseason for athletes like us.”

Hanifin, an 18-year-old defenseman from Norwood, Massachusetts, has been training in the offseason with this group since he was 15.

“This is their job and you can tell by how hard they work in the gym every day and it brings the best out of me, it makes me realize how important it is to work hard every day to chase a goal and it’s been a huge privilege over the years,” Hanifin said.

When Eichel participated in Buffalo’s development camp last month at First Niagara Center, Sabres fans came out in droves to see the new-look team with Eichel as the center of attention.

“It was crazy to see how many people showed up to development camp for a scrimmage in July,” he said. “It just says something about the Sabres’ fans and how passionate they are.”

Each organization’s development camp stresses the importance of handling yourself off the ice and how to prepare for the life of a pro athlete.

“Just how to be a pro on a day-to-day basis,” Eichel said. “It’s good to have guys that have done it already around every day to actually help you through that.”

When Eichel leaves home in less than two weeks cheap jerseys, he will attend the NHL’s rookie showcase, rookie orientation and then he’ll participate in the Sabres’ rookie camp before training camp begins.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Eichel said.

Brewer, Horford and Villanueva bring Basketball Without Borders to Dominican Republic for the first time

— The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced today that Corey Brewer (Houston Rockets; U.S.), Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks; Dominican Republic), and Charlie Villanueva Jerseys (Dallas Mavericks; U.S.; parents from Dominican Republic) will join Luc Mbah a Moute (most recently with the Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon), as well as former NBA players Francisco Garcia (Dominican Republic national team), Tito Horford (Dominican Republic), and Felipe Lopez (former Dominican Republic national team player) to lead 51 campers from 18 North and South American countries at the first Basketball without Borders (BWB) Americas camp in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Aug. 16-19.

Melvin Hunt (Dallas Mavericks), Brett Gunning (Houston Rockets), Darvin Ham (Atlanta Hawks), Nick U’ren (Golden State Warriors), and Patrick Hunt (President of the World Association of Basketball Coaches) will serve as BWB Americas 2015 camp coaches. Gersson Rosas (Houston Rockets) will be the camp director. Kevin Johnson (Philadelphia 76ers) and Ale Oliveira (Brooklyn Nets) will serve as the camp’s athletic trainers, and Matt Friia (Charlotte Hornets) will serve as strength and conditioning coach.

As part of BWB Americas 2015, the top players from around the world born in 1998 will have the opportunity to learn directly from NBA and FIBA players, legends, and coaches and to compete against the best players from North and South America.

BWB, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program, has reached more than 2,400 campers from more than 125 countries and territories since 2001 wholesale jerseys, with 37 campers drafted into the NBA. Twenty-two former BWB campers were on NBA rosters during the 2014-15 regular season, including 2015 NBA All-Star Marc Gasol Jerseys.

This year BWB included the 13th BWB Africa camp in Johannesburg, South Africa July 29-Aug. 1 and a first-time camp in Gran Canaria, Spain June 2-5 as part of BWB Europe 2015.

In addition to working with the campers on the court, NBA and FIBA players and coaches will lead community outreach programs through NBA Cares, the league’s global social responsibility program. NBA Cares will refurbish two basketball courts in Santo Domingo at Club El Almirante, which is home to more than 200 youth cheap nba jerseys. Along with Al Horford and his family, NBA and FIBA coaches will join volunteers at Centro Olimpico and Club El Almirante to host Jr. NBA clinics for local children, teaching the values of the game such as teamwork, leadership, respect and healthy living.

“The sport of basketball has afforded me many opportunities throughout my life,” said Al Horford. “It’s a privilege to return home to share the values of the game with the campers and work in the Dominican Republic.”

Additionally, “La Fundacion De Charlie Villanueva Basketball Camp” will host a basketball clinic in Villanueva’s family’s hometown of Cabrera, Dominican Republic.

The campers will be outfitted with the latest footwear and apparel from NIKE cheap jerseys, a BWB global partner since 2002.

The second annual BWB Global Camp will be held during NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto and will bring together the top players from this summer’s BWB camps. The first BWB Global Camp was held during NBA All-Star 2015 in New York City.

Which are top five teams in NBA?

Now that the dust has settled on the flurry of offseason moves, which are the NBA’s top five teams? Our 5-on-5 panel weighs in.

1. Who is the best team heading into the 2015-16 season?

Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Insider: Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys. Not only did DeAndre Jordan‘s flip-flop help the Clippers avert disaster, it set L.A. up for a string of moves that should make them the best team in franchise history. And, no, that’s not damning with faint praise. L.A.’s starting lineup last season was one of the five best units in the league and upgraded from Matt Barnes to Paul Pierce at the 3. The Clippers were break even in 2014-15 without their best five on the floor, but now have weapons galore such as Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith for the bench, as well as good role players in Cole Aldrich and Pablo Prigioni. While this is a potentially combustible mix, I figure it will give Doc Rivers the chance to remind us just how good of a coach he is.

Arash Markazi, Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys. The Cavs pushed the Warriors to Game 6 of the NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and will begin the season with both players healthy and joining LeBron James Jerseys. It’s not like those are new additions because they each played 75 games last season, but if the Cavs’ Big Three stays healthy this postseason, they’re the team to beat.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Golden State Warriors Jerseys. It’s hard to pick against a team that last season won the third-most games in the 3-point era. They haven’t lost anyone in the rotation, and their Big 3 (Curry, Thompson, Green) are all on the front end of their primes. This team’s biggest flaw, by far, is that it plays in the Western Conference.

Michael Wallace, Warriors. They finished last season as the best team in the league — by a sizeable margin — and didn’t lose anything of much value from their rotation during free agency and the offseason. Yes, a couple of teams appear to have closed some of the gap on paper, but not enough to overtake Golden State’s rightful place as the top team as they launch their quest to repeat. The biggest threat to the Warriors might be the complacency from a championship hangover. But I’d bet Riley Curry — and her dad — won’t let that happen.

Royce Young, Warriors. The defending champions have done nothing to take any kind of a step back this summer. Another offseason of improvement for Stephen Curry Jerseys, Klay Thompson Jerseys and Draymond Green, and another year to build on Steve Kerr’s slick spacing system. Until proven otherwise, they’re the NBA’s top dog, and rightfully so.

2. Who is the second-best team heading into the 2015-16 season?

Doolittle: Warriors. I figure last season was the apex of what this version of the Warriors can be, and they didn’t make any substantive changes. In this case, the status quo is more than fine. The San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies and Clippers will be breathing down Golden State’s proverbial neck, but they were so much better than everyone else last season, how can you not see them as one of the best two teams around?

Markazi: Warriors. Yes, the Spurs and Clippers had great offseasons, but last time I checked, the core of the NBA champions and winners of 67 games in the ultra-competitive Western Conference is returning intact. Until otherwise noted, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala Jerseys, Andrew Bogut and the rest of the Warriors are the team to beat in the West.

Strauss: Rockets. They have an identity and have done much to build around their strengths. Ty Lawson Jerseys makes sense for a squad that wants to push the pace and sling 3-pointers. Rookie Montrezl Harrell fits nicely as someone who excels at beating the opposing defense down the floor. Houston might not be the most mature team out there, but they compensate with athleticism and a defined plan of attack.

Wallace: Spurs. The Spurs may have been the second-best team in the league last season, only to have a first-round playoff exit to show for their troubles after losing a remarkable seven-game series to the Clippers. No ready-made NBA title contender has ever reloaded better than the Spurs, who landed free agency’s top prize in LaMarcus Aldridge Jerseys and got veteran former All-Star David West Jerseys to take a massive pay cut to bolster the frontcourt. Oh, and everyone else is back, too, by the way. Find a weakness. I dare you.

Young: Cavaliers. LeBron was always up front about Year 1 back in Cleveland being a challenge. Turns out that just meant losing in six games to a historically good champion. Good health is what the Cavs need most, and with the growing pains behind them, they’re in a position to run away with the top seed in the East.

3. Who is the third-best team heading into the 2015-16 season?

Doolittle: Spurs. I’m not sure that the Spurs are really that much better now than they were at the close of the season, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a prime contender again. Getting Aldridge is huge for the long term. Yet — this may be sacrilege to suggest to the good people of central Texas — his addition may be only a marginal upgrade in the short term. As it was, the Spurs were a top-7 offense last season. Let’s say Aldridge helps boost that a couple of slots, which isn’t a given since he has to adapt to a different style of offense and play next to Tim Duncan Jerseys. Does his defense harm their No. 4 defense? And there were some mild downgrades elsewhere on the roster. These are nitpicks, as I’m still ranking them third. I just don’t see San Antonio as the clear-cut favorites I suspect others might.

Markazi: Spurs. If the Spurs didn’t have to play a grueling seven-game series with the Clippers in the first round last season, there’s a good chance they would have played the Warriors in the conference finals. After going to back-to-back Finals and winning it all in 2014, it wasn’t surprising for the Spurs to have a letdown in 2015. After all, despite winning five titles since 1999, they have never repeated. What is surprising is they were able to add Aldridge and West in the offseason to a team that returns Duncan, Tony Parker Jerseys, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobli and Danny Green. In other words, the Spurs are back. Again.

Strauss: Spurs. What an offseason for San Antonio, as all went according to plan. Emerging superstar Kawhi Leonard is locked in, Danny Green comes back at an immense discount and they landed the most coveted free agent in LaMarcus Aldridge. Why aren’t they top two? Because it should take some time for Aldridge to figure out his role. He tends to shoot from the same spots Tim Duncan does, for instance.

Wallace: Clippers. If the Clippers can ever get as much done during the season as they accomplish between them, they’d be champs by now. After undergoing a massive ownership change two summers ago, the franchise nearly lost its defensive foundation amid center DeAndre Jordan’s hokey-pokey moratorium dance with Dallas wholesale jerseys. Not only did Rivers and crew retain Jordan, they addressed weaknesses on the perimeter by luring future Hall of Famer Pierce, erratic but uber-athletic forward Smith and disgruntled but still-promising Stephenson. It’s truly title or bust now.

Young: Thunder. With Kevin Durant Jerseys expected to return to full health for next season, the Thunder will re-establish their rightful place among the NBA’s contending elite. But there’s a catch to that as well: Durant never played a second with the Thunder’s midseason additions last year — Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin — meaning he’s going to return to maybe the deepest Thunder roster he’s been on yet.

4. Who is the fourth-best team heading into the 2015-16 season?

Doolittle: Cavaliers. Assuming the Cavs bring back J.R. Smith Jerseys and Tristan Thompson, I do think they are better now than they figured to be with their end-of-season roster, the one before Irving and Love got hurt. Now that Love has signed on for the long term, I suspect he’ll be a happier and better-integrated player alongside Irving and James. The bench is deeper with Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson, and Anderson Varejao will be back to provide additional energy and rim protection. Cleveland remains the team to beat in the East.

Markazi: Clippers. Just when it looked like the Clippers would go back to being the Clippers again, they got Jordan to change his mind and come back and return to a roster that was in the process of being totally revamped. They finally got Pierce to be their starting small forward after striking out the past two years and added Stephenson, Smith, Wesley Johnson Jerseys, Aldrich and Prigioni to a suddenly stacked bench. The Clippers somehow improved on a team that last year finished tied for the second-best record in the West and third-best in the league.

Strauss: Cavaliers. LeBron’s squad is incredible when everyone is present. The question is whether you can rely on them to stay healthy. It’s difficult to just trust that’ll happen for a team that employs Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert Jerseys. Speaking of Shumpert, there isn’t much perimeter defense in Cleveland beyond what he provides. Apart from those concerns, there’s a lot to like. The Cavs are as good as the East is bad.

Wallace: Cavaliers. James would get any team in the league into the top five of this discussion. No doubt about it. His historic performance in the Finals was enough to push the Warriors to six games despite the fact the Cavaliers were basically running on fumes, leaking oil and lacking two bona fide All-Stars as Love and Irving sat with injuries. Assuming the Cavs bring back Thompson and can avoid another massive postseason injury bug, there’s no reason LeBron won’t survive the East and get another shot to finally deliver that title to championship-deprived Cleveland.

Young: Spurs. The old get older, but the rich also got richer. Tim Duncan is back. Manu Ginobili is back. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are re-signed. LaMarcus Aldridge and David West are on board. And most importantly, Gregg Popovich is still directing the orchestra cheap nba jerseys.

5. Who is the fifth-best team heading into the 2015-16 season?

Doolittle: Miami Heat. This is very close between Miami, Houston and Oklahoma City. I’ll go with the Heat to highlight them as the prime challenger to the Cavs in the East. If healthy, Miami should be about a half-tier below the Cavs and a half-tier above the Atlanta Hawks Jerseys, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Washington WIzards. We’ll get our first extended look at the Miami starting lineup that we envisioned when the Heat acquired Goran Dragic at the deadline, and it’s an impressive group. But despite a little cost-cutting of late, the bench should be much improved, and stable, with Gerald Green, Justise Winslow, Amar’e Stoudemire and a healthy Josh McRoberts. It looks like the Heat have enough talent to insulate themselves against further decline by Dwyane Wade Jerseys. But if he’s healthy and on par with past performance, look out.

Markazi: Thunder. Teams don’t normally go from the lottery to championship contenders unless they add LeBron in the offseason, but it feels like the Thunder are doing the next best thing in adding Kevin Durant, who missed all but 27 games last season with a fracture in his right foot. Russell Westbrook Jerseys also missed 15 games with a fracture in his right hand and Serge Ibaka missed 18 games with right knee issues. It was a disastrous season for the Thunder injury-wise and cost Scott Brooks his job. But if Oklahoma City can stay healthy, Billy Donovan’s first season as an NBA coach should be a successful one.

Strauss: Clippers. Reunited and it feels so, well, good enough for fringe title contention. I’d like to say they have depth now, but Doc Rivers has a curious habit of getting bench players who later underdeliver. If the bench support finally comes through, they’re an elite team this season.

Wallace: Grizzlies cheap jerseys. The only other team in the playoffs to make Golden State consistently break a sweat in a series was Memphis. And one could strongly argue that the Griz, before Mike Conley and Tony Allen broke down, presented the Warriors with more problems during their six-game series than the Cavaliers did in the Finals. Re-signing Marc Gasol Jerseys was the biggest piece of business the Grizzlies had to get done, and they accomplished it. But they’ll never take the next step unless Gasol finally gets the offensive flexibility, scoring help and 3-point shooting he’s been demanding.

Young: Clippers. For a minute there, or really three days, it looked like the Clippers were about to take a pretty good Western Conference nosedive. Then Jordan had a change of heart, and the Clippers are right back in the conversation. They’ll miss Barnes’ scrappy perimeter defense (who guards Durant?), but the additions of Pierce and Stephenson helps address their biggest issue last season — the bench.

Todd Gurley wears GoPro during training camp

EARTH CITY, Mo. — Still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, St. Louis Rams Jerseys running back Todd Gurley Jerseys‘s practices aren’t all that action-packed.

But that didn’t stop the Rams from hooking Gurley up with a GoPro camera on his helmet for their Sunday night practice and offering a glimpse at what his practices look like. The team posted the results on Monday afternoon wholesale jerseys.

Gurley also just so happened to turn 21 on Monday. He’s the youngest player on what will likely once again be one of the youngest teams in the league cheap nfl jerseys. In the video, Gurley can be heard asking defensive end William Hayes Jerseys what he got him for his big day.

The best part, though, is Gurley claiming he has “them Odell Beckham hands.” He’s still limited to just doing individual drills for now — which is what he means by “putting my 20 minutes in” so the chance to show off that claim will have to wait until he’s cleared to start participating in seven-on-seven or team drills cheap jerseys.

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Kevin Gausman’s hot hand, high heat lifts Orioles

BALTIMORE — Even though he’s just 24 years old, Kevin Gausman Jerseys has pitched in pressure situations. But his outing Saturday might have been the most clutch performance of his young career.

Yes, it’s only Aug. 1. Sure, the opponent was non-division rival Detroit, which launched its rebuilding effort earlier this week by unloading stars David Price Jerseys, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes. But on Saturday night at Camden Yards, with a possible wild-card berth coming into focus and their starting rotation suddenly reeling from multiple injuries, the Baltimore Orioles Jerseys desperately needed a quality start. Gausman gave them one, and then some.

Facing a Detroit Tigers Jerseys offense that leads the majors in hitting (with a .277 average) and had torched Baltimore for 16 runs on 32 hits during the first two games of the series, Gausman took control of the game early on and never let go. Leaning on a four-seam fastball that reaches the high 90s, he retired the first 11 batters he faced and gave up just two runs on four hits over seven innings. He fanned six without allowing a walk, in the process leading cheap mlb jerseys the Orioles to a 6-2 victory and their seventh win in eight games.

Perhaps even more importantly, he gave the Birds’ beleaguered pitching staff a much-needed boost. Consider their litany of recent rotation woes: Starter Chris Tillman Jerseys, who sprained his ankle Wednesday covering first base, is likely to miss his next start. On Thursday, Miguel Gonzalez Jerseys gave up 10 hits in just 3 1/3 innings, and on Friday, Wei-Yin Chen did the same thing (3 1/3 IP, 10 hits). It marked the first time in Orioles history that two starters had given up that many hits in so few innings in consecutive games. As if that weren’t bad enough, Mike Wright Jerseys, who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk as insurance for Tillman, was used in relief of Chen and sustained a strained calf; he’s now on the 15-day disabled list.

In other words, the pressure was on Gausman to give the Orioles some serious innings. Not that he let it get to him.

“Kevin’s been on some big stages,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the former first-rounder out of LSU, who pitched out of the bullpen in three playoff games for Baltimore last year wholesale jerseys. “But when you have really good stuff, you’re confident.”

That confidence has been buoyed by Gausman’s recent commitment to elevating his fastball.

“When I first came up, I was really scared to give up home runs,” said Gausman, standing in front of his locker after Saturday’s win. “Everyone tells you how small the park is here. I stayed away from guys instead of being aggressive. That got me in some trouble.”

At spring training this year, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti sat Gausman down and told him that he needed to start challenging hitters. Specifically, they suggested that instead of trying to stay down, which he did the overwhelming majority of the time, he should embrace his riding four-seamer cheap jerseys and throw it up in the strike zone more often.

So far, the results speak for themselves. According to ESPN Stats & Info., last year Gausman threw his fastball in the upper half of the zone only about a third of the time. This year, it’s closer to half. In 2014, opposing batters had a .710 OPS off Gausman on fastballs in the lower half of the zone. This season, he’s allowing an even gaudier .843 OPS on low heaters. But on fastballs in the upper half of the zone, that number plummets to .538.

On Saturday against Detroit, Gausman threw an eye-popping 84 fastballs. On the 43 that were located in the upper half of the zone, he recorded 10 of his 21 outs and didn’t allow a hit.

“He was great,” said catcher Caleb Joseph Jerseys, who contributed two hits and three RBIs to the cause, including a fourth-inning home run. “He really dominated with the fastball. That’s the kind of starting pitching we need to make a run.”

In case you haven’t noticed, that’s exactly what the Orioles are doing.

Trail Blazers waive center Brendan Haywood

— (July 30, 2015) — The Portland Trail Blazers have waived center Brendan Haywood Jerseys, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.

Portland acquired Haywood, guard Mike Miller Jerseys and two future second round draft picks from the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 27 in exchange for cash cheap jerseys considerations.