Fantasy stock
Oct14

Fantasy stock

So it hasn’t gone the way you planned. Your top draft picks aren’t performing, your sleepers are still sleeping, and your fantasy football team wouldn’t even be able to score enough points to beat a middle school basketball team. However, the season is still young. A few strategic moves could just pull you team out of its funk and give you a shot at fantasy football glory.   The first rule this early in the season is to not panic. It’s frustrating when a top pick isn’t performing, but it may not always be that player’s fault.   Eddie Lacy is a good example. He provided very little fantasy production the first few weeks of the season, but this can be attributed to the fact that the Packers were playing teams with very good run defenses and were trailing and having to throw more. Many got nervous and traded Lacy. Those who stuck with him were rewarded with 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns.   So, instead of trying to dump a guy who’s struggling, try to watch the game or some highlights to find out why.   Another thing to remember in fantasy is where production comes from. Running backs and receivers may not score the most points, but they have more value because they’re harder to come by. It might be tempting to try and trade a stud quarterback such as Andrew Luck, but doing so would mean giving up a skill player who is probably impossible to replace. Instead, turn to the waiver wire for a quarterback. Since most fantasy leagues only require one quarterback per team, roughly half of the NFL starters should be available.   Finally, try to target players who, because of injuries or suspensions, have become less valuable. Houston’s Arian Foster is a guy who is always getting hurt, but is one of the best fantasy players in the league when healthy. It might be possible to get him cheap and hope he can stay on the field. Josh Gordon was suspended for the first 10 weeks, but he could provide a big boost just as the fantasy playoffs begin.   Things may look bleak, but remember, fantasy leagues aren’t won on draft...

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Crusader soccer teams start seasons strong
Oct14

Crusader soccer teams start seasons strong

The men’s and women’s soccer teams have kicked off the 2014-15 season.   Currently, the Cru is 4-4-1 and began conference games this past weekend against Louisiana College and East Texas Baptist University.   The Cru went 1-0-1 on the road, starting with a tie and finishing with a victory. The Lady Cru are 6-3 and also played against LC and ETBU.   The women took care of business and won both games over the weekend, outscoring their opponents 11-0.   Head men’s soccer coach Brad Bankhead is ready to execute the team’s goals this year.   “The number one thing is to get to the post-season. We understand that, so it’s obviously a goal. We would like to host the (conference) tournament, but our ultimate goal right now is getting to the post-season and see what happens from there,” he said.   Over the weekend, the Cru defeated ETBU 2-1. Senior cellular biology and psychology major Nate Fagnant helped secure the victory for the Cru by scoring early in the first half.   Fagnant believes in his squad. He said, “The team that Coach Bankhead has assembled this season believes in his vision of a superior and dominant squad. (We) have been training our tails off preparing for conference play.”   What’s the key to success?   “To walk through fire this season and come out together, victorious, while making life long lasting relationships on the way,” Fagnant said.   Head women’s soccer Barry Elkins believes in his team and the goals they have set this year.   “Our main goal is to make the national tournament. That is either going to come two ways: through winning our conference tournament or getting our ranking up high enough and getting an at-large bid,” he said.   The Lady Cru are off to a great start as they have begun conference play undefeated at 3-0.   Junior nursing major Ashley Stenack enjoys being a part of the team.   “I absolutely love going to practice every day and being a part of this soccer family. I love that when I step on the field, everything and anything that is bothering me fades away, and nothing matters except the girls standing next to me. I have their backs, and I know they will have mine,” she said.   The Cru and Lady Cru will return home for two matches this Friday and Saturday at the Crusader Soccer Field.   They will take on rival Hardin-Simmons and Howard Payne University. Women begin at 5 p.m. followed by the men at 7...

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Volleyball wins big
Sep17

Volleyball wins big

The Crusader volleyball team put in the best season in school history last year on their way to a 29-8 record, and the program’s first berth in the NCAA national tournament. This year, the team has its sights set even higher. The Cru began the season receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, but now find themselves ranked at No. 23 after a strong start.   The team kicked things off by sweeping all three matches of the U.T.-Dallas Labor Day Tournament Aug. 29-30. On the first day of the tournament, the Cru pulled off a tough 3-2 win against Southwestern University before sweeping three sets in a match against the University of Dallas. UMHB then earned an impressive 3-1 win the next day against No. 13 Trinity.   With one senior and five juniors, head coach Rob Frost believes the Cru has the experience and leadership it needs have a successful season.   “The team gets along so well and everyone is playing with a selfless attitude. It’s something we’ve worked on and they have really taken it and made it their own team dynamic,” he said. “Most of the time, we are smaller than the other ranked teams we compete against but we outwork them.”   The competition didn’t get any easier as UMHB traveled to Thousand Oaks, Calif. to participate in the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational Sept. 5-6. The Cru split the first day of the tournament with a 3-1 loss to No. 4 California Lutheran followed by a 3-1 win against Chapman. The next day, the team swept Occidental before falling 3-2 to No. 6 Emory.   While the veteran players are the heart of the team, Frost said he’s getting production from top to bottom.   “We are starting some younger players who are quickly catching on to our style of play,” he said. “The team has been doing very well sustaining our level of play and improving our consistency against very tough competition.”   During the tournament, junior hitter Cheyenne Dowdey broke the school career record for block assists.   “Breaking the block assist record feels amazing. I work really hard to bring a strong defensive presence to the net, and to control the offense of the other team the best I can,” Dowdey said.   Frost was pleased with the way his team competed in its first two tournaments against some of the top-ranked teams in the nation.   “Our returners know how to win and have done an excellent job going 5-2 with wins over Southwestern … Trinity with our only loses being close matches with the...

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Just another system quarterback

Johnny Manziel has taken the sports world by storm. The former Aggie quarterback defied the odds and became the first freshman in history to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. Manziel captivated fans with his athleticism, all-or-nothing style of play and his controversial antics— both off and on the field. However, by comparing Manziel to another recent controversial quarterback, Tim Tebow, a case can be made that “Johnny Football” may soon become “Johnny Unemployed.”   It may seem farfetched to draw similarities between Tim Tebow to Johnny Manziel — one spends his free time preaching the gospel while the other indulges in ways of the world — but their style of play combined with polarizing personalities makes it the perfect comparison. They each even have their own signature celebration with Manziel’s “money” sign and Tebow’s “Tebowing” pose.   The Cleveland Browns selected Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft and expect him to be their quarterback of the future. If his career becomes anything like the circus that was Tim Tebow’s, Manziel will be fighting an uphill battle.   Like Manziel, Tebow was a dynamic, mobile quarterback in college. He became the first college player ever to run and throw for at least 20 touchdowns, each en route to winning a Heisman of his own in 2007. He was a part of two National Championships at Florida and is considered by many to be one of the greatest college players of all time. However, Tebow’s success didn’t exactly translate to the National Football League.   After being drafted by the Denver Broncos, it soon became evident that Tebow didn’t fit the mold of a modern NFL quarterback. In an era where NFL offenses are focused on rhythmic passing, Tebow’s style of improvisation made it feel like he was always trying to keep his head above water.   In 2011, Tebow got his shot when the Broncos struggled early in the season going just 1-4. He would lead them to a 7-4 record the rest of the way and a thrilling overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. Tebow proved he could win, but his 46.5 completion percentage left much to be desired. That offseason, Denver signed veteran Peyton Manning and the Tebow experiment drew to a close.   There’s no reason to expect Johnny Manziel’s career to play out any differently. Defensive ends in the NFL are stronger and faster than in college and quarterbacks who can’t stand in the pocket and make strong throws get eaten alive.   Off the field, Tebow was always in the news. The outspoken Christian was often the topic...

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Ray Rice: The bigger issue
Sep17

Ray Rice: The bigger issue

  “Ray Rice is a heck of a guy that made a mistake…” a comment from Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh shortly after the arrest of his star running back in late July.   Not only did the Ravens organization drop the ball on this incident, but so did the Atlantic City police department and the NFL.   Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, made the decision to suspend Ray Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season. This immediately raised eyebrows on the lack of repercussions for domestic violence cases within the league. Just as it seemed everything was going to blow over for Rice, the Ravens and the League, TMZ released the whole video of Rice punching his then fiancé, now wife, Janay Palmer in an elevator at the Revel Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The video is hard to watch. Hours after the video was released, the Baltimore front office made the decision to terminate Rice’s contract and cut him from their roster. The NFL quickly followed suit and suspended him from the league indefinitely.   They washed their hands of Rice, trying to say that they hadn’t seen the video until it was released by TMZ.   This brings me to the major issue I have with the NFL. Athletes have been notorious for seeming to be above the law. Although the NFL has become more strict over the last five years, they have failed terribly with their domestic violence policy … or should I say, lack thereof.   Players are getting suspended for an entire season, for violating a very picky and particular substance policy, and then you have notable players getting arrested for domestic violence, only getting a two game suspension.   There is obviously something wrong with this equation.   As big as the NFL is in American culture, it has been a trailblazer when it comes to dealing with issues such as this. They have ultimately dropped the ball. They had a chance to prove to the world that football is more than just a game and how you perform in society means much more than the 60 minutes of play Sunday afternoons.   Since the video was made public, the league has made plans to revise its’ domestic violence policy.   They have already come out and said that a domestic violence infraction will result in a six-game suspension for first time offenders and a possible lifetime ban for repeat offenders.   A more detailed policy is a must for the league. If they want to save face, they need to make a conscious effort to rework...

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Crusaders take the field
Aug27

Crusaders take the field

Cru athletics take the field and court to prepare for their upcoming seasons as autumn‘s chill slowly starts to creep into the summer days.   Football, volleyball and soccer athletes beat the rush to campus in order to begin their fall camp practices. All of the programs were highly successful last year and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to see a drop in the 2014 campaigns.   Senior Cru football player and wide receiver Kamray Runnels said, “I can’t wait for the season to start. We have a lot of work to do, but everyone is excited about the talent we have on the field and the things that this team can accomplish this year.”   The Cru finished last year with a 14-1 record, losing in the semifinals to a talented Wisconsin Whitewater team. For many teams, a loss like that would tear a group apart, but it created an even deeper hunger within the Cru to advance and win a national championship.   “We understand that it’s a long season and its imperative that we take it one game at a time, but I’d be lying if I said we don’t have our eyes on a national championship.  We lost quite a few seniors off of last years team, so that just means other guys will have to work even harder to fill those positions,” senior slot receiver Stanton Holland said.   The Crusader volleyball team is also coming back to the fall season with a successful 2013 run under their belt. They finished with a season record of 29-8, which is the best in program history.   Coach Rob Frost is returning to coach the Cru and looking to take the team even further this year.   “I am excited about what we have accomplished during my time here and I look forward to building on that and growing the program. I feel like we are in the middle of some great things, and there is more that we can do,” Frost said.   The ladies are returning nine talented players from last year’s team. Junior outside hitter Lauren Powell and senior middle hitter Bianca Patterson will lead the attack for the Crusaders. Last year the two tallied up over 650 kills combined, and wrecked havoc on ASC defenses all season.   The men’s and women’s soccer teams have high hopes for their upcoming seasons as well. Both teams were successful last year, but hard work individually and as a team throughout the summer should propel the squads to even bigger things this year.   Coach Bankhead’s men’s team finished the season 5-9-2. Bankhead’s...

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