No. 14 USC men’s volleyball looks to continue upset streak

first_imgEven though the men’s volleyball team had their winning streak snapped after losing to Long Beach State last week, the team upset three top-ranked teams in the last four games. Those upsets have gone far in establishing the Trojans’ national standing, earning the team their first ranking at No. 14 this season.The Trojans look to add another upset to their list as they take on No. 4 Hawaii in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday in a road matchup.“[Hawaii is] doing everything well,” head coach Jeff Nygaard said. “They are playing good volleyball. Categorically, if you look at the stats, they are near the top in every category: blocking, serving, side out, opponent side out. They are just doing a lot at a high level, which means we have to perform at a high level in order to contend with that.”While taking on a top team that looks to continue its 11-match winning streak is already a challenge, the Trojans will have to deal with overcoming injuries as well.Senior outside hitter Lucas Yoder, who is currently leading the nation in kills and points, did not play in the last game due to an abdominal strain. Sophomore outside hitter Gianluca Grasso has missed four games with an ankle sprain but showed signs of recovery as he played in the final set last week.However, it is uncertain whether either will be able to contribute on the court in these two games.“It is a TBD kind of thing,” Nygaard said. “I mean Lucas was taken off the court for a shorter period of time, but I am hoping he is ready to go. We will see what Gianluca’s ankle looks like.”With or without the two starters, the Trojans not only will be playing two nights in a row, but will also be facing the same team at their opponent’s home court.However, only the first game will count as an MPSF match. The second game will serve as a friendly, but could turn into a redemption match should the Trojans lose the first bout with Hawaii.“The positive is the second night out, there are no surprises,” Nygaard said. “You’ve already seen the game plan and it is already fresh in their head, so it is more of a few tweaks here, watch some video and reaffirm the things we want to do and go back out. It becomes a little more about heart at that point because you are going to be a little bit tired two nights in a row. ”last_img read more

Sundowns goalie Mweene grateful to Ghana

first_imgMamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene is delighted with the reception given his team during their pre-season session in Ghana.Sundowns are due back home on Friday after spending 12 days in Ghana to prepare for the 2013/2014 Premier Soccer League season.The Brazilians played high profile friendly matches against Hearts of Oak which they drew 1-1 and recorded 2-0 wins over Asante Kotoko and Ebusua Dwarfs respectively.Mweene who will return to Ghana in September with the Zambia national team for the final 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier says he enjoyed his stay and can’t wait to return.“The reception has been well, Ghanaians are very nice people and they did receive us well,” Mweene said.“We just look forward and come back for pre season here again because we had a nice time here in Ghana. For me was the reception was overwhelming.”last_img read more

Draymond Green says Lakers’ Julius Randle ‘has potential’ to be better than him

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LAS VEGAS >> With the ball in his hands, Lakers forward Julius Randle stared straight ahead at one of his mentors, but he didn’t look intimidated by Draymond Green’s formidable presence.Instead, Randle charged past him. After drawing a foul on the Golden State Warriors’ All-Star forward, Randle shouted four words that quickly went viral.“He can’t guard me!,” Randle said, shaking his head dismissively.The Lakers play host to the Golden State Warriors in a preseason game Wednesday at San Diego Sports Arena nearly a year after that episode took place at the same venue. Walton said he “absolutely” saw Randle and Green as a “good comparison” before praising their athleticism and playmaking. He then pointed out Green’s superior jump shooting before complimenting Randle for his offseason efforts to improve in that area. Walton then added, “that could be someone you compare to down the road.”The resumes don’t match right now. Since the Warriors selected him 35th overall in the 2012 NBA draft, Green has won an NBA title (2015), become an All-Star (2016) and landed on the league’s All-Defensive First Team (2015, 2016). Since the Lakers picked him seventh overall in the 2014 NBA draft, Randle suffered a season-ending leg injury in the first game of his rookie season before leading his sophomore class with 34 double-doubles last season.Nonetheless, Green sees one intangible quality that prompted him to predict Randle will eventually surpass him as a player.“The thing about him you can’t teach is his heart,” Green said. “When you have that heart and type of dog in you, you’re going to work. I think he can be really, really, really good.”Perhaps Randle will prove Green correct because of how he received the compliment.“That’s great. I take the advice and all of that and try to learn as much as I can from other people. But all I can do is focus on myself,” Randle said. “I can’t worry about comparisons and all that other stuff. I have to focus on myself, focus on my team, try to get better every day and try to win.”Green saw Randle showcasing that mindset when he drove past him in last fall’s preseason game. Randle crossed over to his right to throw Green off balance. Randle then powered into the lane before Green disrupted his layup attempt by fouling him.“I don’t back down from anybody,” Randle said. “It’s who I am. It’s who I’ve been from the start. Whether it’s Draymond or not, it doesn’t really matter.”After seeing Randle’s trash talk on video, Green told him shortly afterward, “I appreciate you getting me going for this next preseason game.”“I love to see somebody compete like that. That’s a lost thing in this game,” Green said. “That’s how I grew up playing. To see somebody be the same way, it’s not all lost. It’s great to see.”But Green did not want to see that when he guarded Randle in the future.So Green asked Nick U’Ren, the special assistant to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, to compile about 50 clips of Randle’s playmaking dating to his freshman season at the University of Kentucky.“I watched it over and over and over again,” Green said. “That’s the competitiveness. It’s always good to have that bring that out in you. He did that. I respect that.”Some of that preparation has paid off. According to Basketball Reference, Green has topped Randle in points (10.8, 9.5), shooting percentage (43.3, 42.5) and assists (6.0, 2.3) through four head-to-head matchups. They both averaged 9.5 rebounds per game.“With his fire and competitiveness, he’s like the kickstarter for that team,” Randle said of Green. “He can do a lot. He’s like the glue for that team.”Green believes Randle possesses those same qualities, but he thinks Randle simply thrived off of “God-given talent” with his athleticism and brute 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame.Since accepting the Lakers job, Walton has resisted mentioning Green’s game to Randle because he wants Randle to mold his own identity. That’s the same reason Randle gives for not asking Walton for insight about Green.Still, Walton is pleased with Randle’s efforts to remain selective with his jumpshot while emphasizing playmaking that he described as “incredible.”“When he gets out and pushes the ball every time he gets a defensive rebound, good things are going to happen,” Walton said. “We might not always make a shot. But we’re going to get an open shot.”Green has helped along the way. Former Warriors assistant Pete Myers often told Green, “you get paid for the next young guy to get paid.” Having received a five-year deal worth $85 million last year, Green offered some insight that could help Randle earn his own big pay day.Playing together with the U.S. Select team in Las Vegas this summer, Green chided Randle for just fitting in instead of exerting his dominance. The 6-7, 230-pound Green also shared insights as to how he overcame being undersized by using a versatile offensive and defensive skillset.It sounds like Randle has listened.“I don’t care who’s in front of me. Whether they’re taller, bigger, smaller, shorter, it don’t matter,” Randle said. “I always feel like I got the advantage. My heart is bigger than anybody I’m going against. So I don’t look at anybody as far as height or any other advantage. When we get between those lines, it’s time to compete.”That includes those moments when Randle competes against Green, a matchup that should produce more highlight-reel moments, trash talk and reveal whether Green’s prediction about Randle’s future can come to fruition.center_img Randle acknowledged “there’s a little more juice when I compete against him” because of a relationship he described as both a “friendly rivalry and mentorship.” Yet, Randle expressed a foggy memory about the incident before saying “it’s in the past.”Green, though, has not forgotten.After seeing the video clip on Twitter shortly after it happened, Green said his respect for Randle deepened. Green believes Randle “can be real special,” raving about his length, athleticism and playmaking. Green also said he considers the comparisons between him and Randle “cool.” Those comparisons have been drawn more frequently with Randle’s expected emergence under new Lakers coach Luke Walton, who spent the previous two seasons as a Golden State assistant.Will Randle validate those comparisons?“I think he can. I also think he has the potential to be better,” Green said. “With the God-given gifts he has, he has the potential to be better. I’ll continue to grow. I’ll never stop working and I’ll continue to get better. But what is he, 21? That’s a lot of time to continue to grow.”last_img read more