Category Archives: Professional

Hawks Crash in Playoffs

MatthewKohn, Staff Reporter

On the night of April 28, John Wall and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks from the NBA playoffs. Despite the season ending earlier than we would have liked, it is hardly a disappointing year for the Hawks. Atlanta has now made the playoffs for 10 straight years, which is the second longest active streak in the NBA, only behind the San Antonio Spurs. The fact that the Hawks have made the playoffs for 10 straight years is not only astonishing, but it also shows great consistency, something hard to come by in sports.

The past season for the Hawks should excite fans for years to come. Even though the Hawks have lost four of their five starters from the great 2014-15 year, from when they were number one in the Eastern Conference, they still were able to play well and compete in the East. The Hawks lost DeMarre Carroll, Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver in the past two years, but there have been multiple other players that have stepped up into their spots to provide the team with quality minutes. One in specific is Tim Hardaway Jr., who came in and helped the team with great defense and the ability to score in large spurts. Also, Dennis Schröder stepped in where Jeff Teague left and played very well as the team’s starting point guard.

Next season is promising with the amount of young talent the Hawks have on their roster. Hardaway expects to continue and improve on his great year and become the star that the Hawks are in need of. Also, Dwight Howard will help be a veteran presence on an otherwise very young roster. If the Hawks are also able to re-sign Paul Millsap to a contract, they will not be at risk of losing yet another one of their starting players. Also, Kent Bazemore will be hungry for a comeback year after a disappointing season. They also hold three draft picks in this year’s loaded draft in June.

Even though the Hawks season is over, but there is still much to be excited about if you are a Hawks fan. The Hawks seem to be just a piece or two away from becoming an elite team again. If they are able to find someone in free agency or in the draft that can have an immediate impact, then the Hawks can expect to compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference in years to come.

Stadiums Gone Wild

KatieHeissenbuttel, Sports Editor

After a year of building Atlanta’s new stadiums, Suntrust Park is complete and ready for the Braves upcoming season, while Mercedes-Benz stadium is still under construction. However, reports indicate that the new Atlanta Falcons stadium will be done in time for the 2017 season.

The Braves have had many fields to call home over the course of one hundred and three years: South End Grounds, Braves Field, Milwaukee County Stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Turner Field–and now Suntrust Park. On March 6, 2017 the Atlanta Braves posted a video on Facebook of the new Suntrust Park, with the caption “Ladies & gentlemen, we have a field!” With the new stadium opening this spring, the tickets are likely to be in high demand.

Another element sure to boost ticket sales is the Battery Atlanta. Ready to welcome fans and visitors on Opening Day of 2017, the Battery will be the preeminent sports and entertainment venue in the country. The Battery will redefine the traditional model of a “live, work, play” development into a “play, work, stay” destination, with SunTrust Park as its crown jewel. The entirety of the project will create a lively shopping and entertainment district accessible 365 days a year. Another bonus of the Battery Atlanta is there is the Omni Hotel right next to the ballpark.

One major concern that people had with this new park was the lack accessibility. To address this issue the Braves will offer over 11,000 parking spaces, Uber and bus transportation.

As of now Mercedes-Benz stadium is still under construction, they are almost completely finished with the glass windows and the outside of the stadium. Home of the largest video board in professional sports, fans won’t miss a moment. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is going to be spectacular, with a Falcon wing-like exterior that utilizes the latest in innovative and transparent building materials, providing a breathtaking view of the city. Also the stadium will include a retractable roof, a 360-degree HD video Halo board, an exterior fan plaza, a 100-yard bar, a technology lounge and more than 21,000 parking spaces. In addition to being located near three Marta stations, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will incorporate the latest in sustainable advancements related to design, construction and operations, water conservation, renewable energy, energy usage reduction and alternative transportation.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank commented, “We focused from the beginning on building a unique fan experience at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a goal of helping those who visit to leave the stadium with great memories shared with family and friends, not aggravation and frustration about their experience.” The overall construction of Suntrust Park and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be an improvement to Atlanta, and will house many more events to make memories.

Johnny Manziel’s Path of Self-Destruct

PaulBurke

Johnny Manziel is the living, breathing embodiment of “work hard play hard.” Since his days at Texas A&M, and being known as the first true freshman to win the Heisman, “Johnny Football” has had a daily struggle balancing the two as a professional athlete. After being dumped by two agents, getting charged for assault and causing over $20,000 worth of damage in a rented house, it is safe to say that Manziel may just be “playing” too hard. Surprisingly, these antics are only the most recent and are more or less an accumulation of previous mistakes. It is no secret that Manziel struggles with substance-abuse and self-image as he continues down a path of self-destruct, disregarding advice from coaches, teammates and the media to join rehab.

 

So where has “Johnny Football” gone? Where is the Manziel who could scramble out of the pocket and launch a 60-yard touchdown pass on the run? Not in the NFL. After being drafted by the Browns with the 22nd pick of the 2014 draft just two years ago, Manziel’s life has seemingly only gone downhill. Being drafted in the first round, Manziel not only became a paid professional athlete, but also received a multimillion-dollar signing bonus simply for his name being called out by Roger Goodell. Manziel was now a professional athlete, and rich.

 

Fast forward two years, Manziel has played in less than a full game of football, is unwanted by every team in the NFL, and has been caught drinking in Las Vegas casinos each weekend, even after being told to remain sober. Manziel’s problem may be even bigger than some of us realize as he was reportedly seen at one of his many casinos wearing a facial disguise in order to continue his binge drinking without the scrutiny of the media.

 

Will we ever get a look at the great “Johnny Football” again, or will Manziel remain the drunken drug addict he is today? Whichever he chooses, Manziel has to keep in mind: with great power comes great responsibility.

NFL Draft Drama

As usual, the NFL draft was filled with surprises. The first round has come and gone, and the key prospects and their potential suitors have come together to start the journey towards the upcoming season. While some of these players will become stars in a few years, it is important to look at the NFL Draft for what it is and realize that most of these players will not have great success.

This is in fact a hiring ceremony for players making a huge jump, and many of these players will not have significant impacts at the next level. Now, I am not completely undermining the draft, but rather trying to give fans an understanding of why executives make picks that seem somewhat confusing. It may make sense to try and fill a hole that a team has, but if a team thinks that a player will become a difference maker for years to come, they make take them instead regardless of need.

This was the case for the Cowboys drafting Ezekiel Elliott 4th despite having a glaring need for a linebacker or defensive end. Although this team could use a lot of help on defense, they are trying to establish the cornerstone of the franchise by recreating the triplets of Troy Aikman, Emmett Smith and Michael Irvin. Even with the problems they are having they are hoping that Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott will form a strong foundation for the team.

Although the Jaguars haven’t had a lot of success on the field in the past few years, the 2016 Draft was one of the biggest successes that this team has had in recent years. Jacksonville essentially got three first round picks, as last year’s pick Dante Fowler is coming off an ACL injury that kept him off the field for the entire year. Injured players were a jackpot for the Jaguars, as they were able to snatch UCLA linebacker Myles Jack in the second round. Jack was considered to be one of the best, if not the best, linebacker in the class. Jack slid down many people’s boards after suffering a mild knee injury, but the Jaguars decided to take a risk that could potentially secure them a franchise player. With their 5th overall pick, the team selected Jalen Ramsey, the corner from Florida State. Jalen is considered by many to be the best player in the draft and should make an immediate difference in the Jaguars’ secondary.

One of the biggest stories of the draft was Laremy Tunsil’s slide from a top 5 pick to number 13. Minutes before the draft, Tunsil’s Twitter account was hacked and posted a video of him smoking out of a marijuana gas mask. This scared away many of the teams that would’ve picked him, but the Miami Dolphins were willing to take the risk and go for the best player that was still on their draft board. Although this is not nearly as big of a slide as La’el Collins, another offensive lineman who had off the field issues, faced last year, it still cost Laremy close to $10 million.

Ohio State once again proved that it was one of the dominant powers in college football, as it tied a draft record by producing three top ten picks. Overall, they had five players get drafted in the first round, pushing them past Alabama as the premier institution for producing professional football players.

With their first round pick, the Falcons made a move that few people saw coming. Many analysts thought they would select linebacker Darron Lee, but instead they used their 17th overall pick on the safety Keanu Neal. Neal was not considered a first round talent by any major ranking association, but the Birds are really buying into recreating the Seattle Seahawks championships defense. Head coach Dan Quinn, who was the mastermind behind that defense, is essentially filling the roles he had on the Seahawks with players of the same build and play style. Last year’s first round pick, Vic Beasley, filled the role of the hybrid linebacker-defensive end that Bruce Irvin once held, while Keanu Neal is Dan Quinn’s version of Kam Chancellor. Keanu was one of the hardest hitters in college football, and Dan Quinn is hoping he can come downhill and make kamikaze tackles the way Chancellor did in Seattle.

The 2016 NFL Draft is one that many considered to be a little less talented than year’s past. There are a few bright spots like Jalen Ramsey and Ohio State D End Joey Bosa, but for the most part, the draft was filled with overly hyped quarterbacks and players who were more likely to become role players than stars.

Fall Sports Extravaganza

AshwinHaritsa

What do you think of when you hear fall? For avid sports fans, the word fall brings feelings of excitement, joy and competition. This is because during fall, almost every sports season is going on. Football and hockey begin, baseball was just finishing its exciting playoffs and basketball is getting into its full swing. To some, fall is just a period in between summer and winter, but to others, it’s the most important time of the year.

For the months of September through February, all anyone talks about is football. Wherever you go, you are bound to hear Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and many more in some sort of conversation. The players’ profession takes over the lives of many fans that all play fantasy football by drafting their favorite players and competing against their friends by comparing how well each player does each week. Because these leagues sometimes involve betting money, the friends sometimes get heated over winning and losing.

At the same time, NHL began its season. Hockey fans may be even more passionate than any other sports fans. Just like fantasy football, enthusiastic hockey fans play fantasy hockey. Players like Henrik Sedin and his brother Daniel Sedin are top prospects during the draft. Although professional hockey may not be extremely popular with the American people, it is followed by many Canadians and hockey fans around the world. As the season heads for the playoffs, more and more TV viewers begin to watch hockey and anticipate who will eventually win the Stanley Cup.

Last month, the Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets in the World Series in baseball. This year was a great season for baseball because both of these teams were well-known for being mediocre, but changed their image and ended up as the best two teams. Last year, the Royals also made it to the World Series but lost to the powerhouse San Francisco Giants. As for the Mets, this was the first time in 15 years that they made it to the World Series. Daniel Murphy put the team on his back by hitting homeruns in six straight post-season games. This alone is a record, but it is one shy of tying the all-time post-season homerun record held by Barry Bonds. He just didn’t have the ability to do it all the way through the playoffs. Baseball fans were excited for this year as they saw a new era begin.

To ease the pain of the baseball season ending, fans can now focus their attention on basketball. Our Atlanta Hawks have picked up their incredible run from last year by winning eight of the first twelve games of the season. After two weeks of play, the NBA committee released its power rankings of the top teams so far, and the Hawks ranked third, right behind the Warriors and the Cavaliers who both made it to the NBA Finals last year. Basketball fans have started to see players like Steph Curry and Lebron James continue their mastery while also seeing others like Andre Drummond and Andrew Wiggins climb their way up the MVP list. This season of NBA basketball is already exciting; just wait until April and see how it finishes as teams compete to earn the last spot in the playoffs.

This fall, sports fans are going to be impressed by the quality of play by their favorite teams. We have already seen much more excitement than last year, and we are not even halfway through. As we approach January and February, expect the competition to heat up as the players become more serious about winning their respective championships.

The Expansion of Lacrosse in the Atlanta Area

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PaulBurke Sports Section Editor

Lacrosse has been growing exponentially the past decade at the high school, youth and collegiate levels in the metro Atlanta area. This growth has been noticed by the Nation’s premier professional league, the MLL, and in April 2016 the MLL will expand into Atlanta with its newest franchise, the Atlanta Blaze. The Atlanta Blaze will be one of 10 franchises in the league, competing against teams like the Denver Outlaws and the Long Island Lizards. 

The previous two MLL championships have been hosted at Kennesaw University’s 5th Third Bank Stadium, an 8,000-seat outdoor field, and have exceeded the expectations of the league confirming Atlanta’s desire for lacrosse at the professional level. That desire for professional lacrosse is largely from their youth following: the youth that have grown the sport into what it is today. Students here at Chattahoochee are no different and lacrosse is sure to become a successful spectator sport.

As Professional Lacrosse expands, so does high school lacrosse. Chattahoochee’s lacrosse program has been one of the most popular  among students and  athletes. The new Blaze team, while adding interest to the professional level, will indirectly add interest to the high school teams, and come 2017, Chattahoochee Lacrosse can expect to see a spike in participation. This expansion of lacrosse, while greeted with open arms, is not a surprise. Lacrosse is the nation’s next big sport and the Atlanta Blaze is confirming every statistic regarding the expansion of the fastest game on two feet.

Rebuilding the Dirty Birds

Nabeel Khan Staff Reporter

The Atlanta Falcons have reached rock bottom. This past season the birds finished third in their division with a 6-10 record, their second worst season since coach Mike Smith was hired.  However, after two seasons of mediocrity, Smith was let go and replaced by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

This is Quinn’s first position as a head coach, but his emphasis on defense is the bandage that the Falcons’ pathetic attempt to stop other teams needs. Quinn has been known for discovering hidden talent; he discovered a diamond in the rough when he drafted Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman. Through Quinn’s tutelage, Sherman has developed into one of the best defensive backs in the league and the cornerstone for the hard-hitting defensive unit known as the “Legion of Boom”.

In Atlanta, Quinn has been gifted with several young stars, such as Paul Worrilow, Malliciah Goodman and Desmond Trufant, from which to develop a formidable defense. Trufant, in particular, has been recognized as one of the fastest-developing young corners in the league and will surely continue to grow under the new coach. Likewise, Quinn will hopefully be able to coach young defensive linemen such as Malliciah Goodman and Rashede Hageman into being consistent annoyances for opposing quarterbacks; in recent years the Falcons’ opponents did not have to worry for an instant about being pass rushed. Quinn will also be able to address the team’s issues as he pleases; Arthur Blank has granted his head coach the final say on the 53-man roster. This will allow the new coach to capitalize on free agency and patch holes on the horrendous offensive line, while also granting him the freedom to move on from worn out veterans such as Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann.

Luckily for Quinn, the NFC South was entirely pitiful during the 2014 season and did not have a team go over .500. Quinn’s hiring marks a new era for the Dirty Birds based on offensive balance and a revamped defense that will hopefully propel Atlanta to the playoffs.