Santita Ebangwese has made the slide hit her ‘special move’

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on October 9, 2018 at 10:16 pm Contact Adam: | @_adamhillmancenter_img In the third set against Georgia Tech on Sept. 21, Syracuse led by two points, 21-19. Santita Ebangwese stood a few feet away from the net, staring through the tiny gaps between the polyester string that hold it together. Georgia Tech returned from its timeout conversation, and Ebangwese moved into her natural position, about five feet to the left of fellow senior Jalissa Trotter.The ball flew over the net and junior Kendra Lukacs put two hands under it, thrusting the ball into the air toward Trotter. As Trotter readied herself for a set, Ebangwese stepped back once and then exploded into a sprint. She ran in a straight line, left to right, across the middle of the court and leaped into the air. She lifted her arm over her head and smacked the ball into the feet of a Georgia Tech player for a kill.“No matter how fast, slow, high, low, Santita is going up to hit,” redshirt senior Amber Witherspoon said.Ebangwese is now in the final stretch of her collegiate career for Syracuse (9-5, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) and has almost perfected her form of that hit, the “slide.” She is second on the Orange this season with 127 kills and averages 1.96 kills per set in her career.Ebangwese has worked on the slide hit since her junior year of high school. It’s used to confuse opposing blockers. It begins with a long-strided run-up that starts slow and quickens as the hitter approaches the ball. According to, “the hitter should drift forward and horizontally to the ball. This makes it very difficult for the block to know where the point of attack will be.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“That’s definitely her special move,” said associate head coach Erin Little of Ebangwese.Ebangwese has known “for as long as she can remember” how to “hit on the slide,” but in her second to last year of high school, she said she learned “the actual mechanics” of it.At first, she worked on the elevation and speed of her jump. The Rochester native spent hours in the gym to increase her lower-body strength, mostly through conditioning drills. Soon, she was jumping higher and floating through the air longer, she said.“Once I got that down, I started to speed up my approach,” Ebangwese said. “I would do faster sets and see how fast I can go.”By the time she stepped on campus for her freshman year, Ebangwese was already advanced at slide hitting, Little said.During her first year, Ebangwese utilized the slide hit in games, learning where blockers like to position themselves. Continuously, she started on the left side, used two long strides and rose up in front of her setter. While practice is valuable, she needed countless repetition in games to push it to where it is today, Ebangwese said.“I’ve gotten faster. I’ve also gotten smarter in the way hit,” she said. “Before I go up, I know where the blocker is, so I kind of have a feeling of where they’re going to be.”last_img read more

Dodgers’ Andrew Friedman went from small-market wizard to big-market mogul

first_img Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Friedman says he still follows the Rays when he can and roots for them – though not this week. But how much of his imprint remains on his former organization?“I mean, he created the entire infrastructure they have right now,” Zaidi says. “I’m certain he would deflect credit and give a lot of credit to (Rays GM) Erik Neander and (senior vice-president for baseball operations) Chaim Bloom and the job they have done – and they’re certainly deserving of it.“But I think as much as anything that organization and the way they make decisions and the way they think about baseball is unrecognizable from before he first got there. Just even creating, cultivating a culture of openness where the players embrace some of the less conventional, more innovative strategies that they employ – and employ successfully – is a big part of his legacy.” How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Instead, some of the Dodgers’ most significant expenditures in the past five years have been what Friedman categorizes as “investment spending” – improving minor-league facilities and training staffs throughout the organization, dipping heavily into the international market and expanding the major-league support system, including new-age training tools like neuroscouting.“We’re big in everything – including on-field trainers and facilities,” Kasten says. “You know, that first year we went really big in international. It hasn’t always worked out. But the fact that you can stretch and do those things and not worry about the occasional misstep – that’s a difference (from Tampa) in your prep, your mindset. I call those ‘at the margins.’”CUTTING EDGEUnder Friedman, the Rays were at the forefront of taking analytics from evaluation tool to a driving force in strategy with defensive shifts and lineup construction. That has spread quickly throughout the game and the Dodgers have assembled one of the deepest, most sophisticated (and influential) analytics departments.“That competitive fire burns deep inside him,” says Rays team president Matt Silverman, a good friend of Friedman. “No matter the setting, you can count on Andrew to try to outthink, outwork and outmaneuver the competition, and he inspires others around him to do the same.”There has been “bad investment” spending as well – dead money. Some of the biggest checks written in the past five seasons have been to players such as Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir and Alex Guerrero when they were not playing for the Dodgers.“Double-edged sword,” Friedman says with a smile of the greater resources at his disposal in L.A.Friedman gets high marks from players for his ability to connect personally – a failing of some in the wave of business-school products who have taken over front offices. Veteran infielder David Freese has played in four organizations and says “there’s not a lot of guys like Andrew Friedman. He’s unique.” A pitcher in Tampa and now an assistant GM in the Dodgers’ front office, Brandon Gomes says Friedman is “completely approachable” for players.“I really appreciated the honesty he had with all the players,” Gomes says. “As a player, you buy into that and feel like you can ask a question and it’s not going to be judged in any way. It’s a really good quality.”It’s one that Friedman doesn’t just put on for his walk-throughs in the clubhouse, according to Zaidi.LEADERSHIP STYLE“He does things in such a collaborative way that it never feels like he’s imposing his will on a specific decision or particular area of the operation,” Zaidi says. “That’s really hard to do – kind of empowering people that way but still taking responsibility for the decisions and the path of the organization.”The challenge of managing limited resources has followed Friedman from Tampa to L.A. – but now it is time as much as money.When he made the move west, Friedman had two sons, one 5 years old, the other not yet 3. A daughter was born in August 2015. During homestands, his wife, Robin, has often brought the kids to Dodger Stadium where they would soak up some dad time even slipping into their pajamas and brushing their teeth before Friedman would read them a bedtime story and send them home.IMPACT REMAINSWhatever magic Friedman practiced in Tampa seems to have lingered. The Rays won a surprising 90 games last season and come into the series with the Dodgers 10 games over .500 (27-17) and a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the American League East.Related Articlescenter_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies “Never a factor in Tampa. Here, it’s a factor.”During his years as the Rays’ GM (2006-14), the team’s entire player payroll never exceeded $76 million. During his first four years with the Dodgers, Friedman has already negotiated two different individual contracts worth more than that – Kenley Jansen’s five-year, $80 million deal in 2016 and Clayton Kershaw’s three-year, $93 million contract extension last fall. The Dodgers’ payroll was the highest in baseball each of Friedman’s first three seasons – breaking through that CBT each time.“I enjoyed every minute of my time in Tampa Bay and loved the challenge. I had just reached a point in my career where I wanted to throw myself into the deep end in terms of having to re-think how I do my job,” Friedman says. “Certain aspects would be important to maintain and other things I would have to re-wire how my brain processes different things.”As the Dodgers arrive in Tampa for a two-game interleague series against the Rays, some of that wiring is apparent – and some of it is unpopular with Dodger fans despite a .588 winning percentage since Rollins’ homer and back-to-back National League pennants.Any expectations that, unfettered from Tampa’s financial restrictions, Friedman would behave like a shopaholic with a new credit card should have faded by now. In five offseasons, the Dodgers have spent to keep their own free agents but have only occasionally flirted with making a big-money commitment to bring in a free agent (such as Bryce Harper this past winter). The Dodgers’ most expensive signing of a free agent from outside the organization has been A.J. Pollock, who could make $60 million over the next five seasons. The first time it really hit Andrew Friedman that he wasn’t in Tampa anymore was Opening Day in 2015.“Jimmy Rollins hits that big three-run home run and 50,000 people erupted,” Friedman recalls now. “I took a minute and looked around and said, ‘Wait a minute – I’m happy and 50,000 people are happy?’ because I was used to being at Fenway or Yankee Stadium and when those crowds were happy I was not. So it definitely set in.”There were other, quieter moments after Friedman “kind of took my professional snow globe and shook it up” by going from the small-market wizard who somehow got the Tampa Bay Rays into a World Series to a big-market mogul as the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations – where he has built teams that have reached two more World Series.“He and Farhan (Zaidi, GM during Friedman’s first four seasons in L.A.) were sitting down with me in the office and something comes up about the competitive-balance tax, the CBT,” Dodgers team president Stan Kasten says. “Andrew looks at Farhan and goes, ‘Oh (shoot) – I think I have to learn those rules.’ They had no idea about those rules. It was kind of funny that he had to learn different things. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Adam Silver says NBA ‘not in a position to make decisions’ about resuming play as player salaries take a hit

first_imgIf there’s a way forward to returning to the court, the NBA will find it. The real question is when.Commissioner Adam Silver said on a Friday conference call that “everything is on the table” and “all rules are off” when it comes to the league’s return. There is no firm cutoff date when the NBA would cancel the season, and they might even play regular season games and a full postseason schedule, even if next season’s start is delayed.But while the NBA is scrambling to remain prepared if a window to resume play arises, Silver and the league’s owners — which include some of the country’s wealthiest and most successful business people — have no practical timeline as they wait for the COVID-19 outbreak to abate.“We are not in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said, “and it’s unclear when we will be.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Major sporting events are expected to be among the last social gatherings to be fully renewed following the pandemic. California governor Gavin Newsom said early in the week he expected sporting events with fans are unlikely to return by the summer, citing herd immunity and a vaccine as desired benchmarks for massive live events.The NBA has discussed models without fans in attendance as a way of getting back to competition and following through on television contracts that are the lifeblood of the league that drew an estimated $9.5 billion in revenue a year ago. But Silver characterized such discussions — including a popularized concept of restarting play in a centralized, sterilized location — as “listening” rather than “serious engagement.”Still: Anything is possible, Silver said. The NBA is open to models that are unfamiliar and unconventional, even if it pushes back the start of next season. But they have not yet reached the point of approaching the NBPA with a fleshed-out strategy.“All rules are off at this point given the situation we find ourselves in, that the country is in,” he said. “If there is an opportunity to resume play, even if it looks different than what we’ve done historically, we should be modeling it … The issue we still have is we don’t have a good enough understanding of exactly sort of what those standards are that we need to meet in order to move forward.”Silver said the “health, well-being and safety” the NBA’s players and other essential staffers in a return would be the number one factor in deciding to come back. The NBA is monitoring the availability of testing, the development of vaccines, and the effectiveness of anti-viral treatments while also sharing information with other leagues. David Ho, an infectious disease expert who once helped guide the league through Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis, was one of the speakers at Friday’s meeting.Adding to the belt-tightening that many businesses across the country are feeling in response to a halting economy, the NBA had a rough fiscal year prior to the league’s suspension.Related Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSilver addressed reporters after an NBA Board of Governors meeting, which most significantly announced an agreement with the player’s association to withhold a quarter of players’ salaries for paychecks beginning on May 15 — an anticipated step that nonetheless underscores the financial straits the league is facing due to the pandemic.The NBA and NBPA announced the agreement Friday afternoon after weeks of discussions, brought on by the league’s suspension on March 11. The NBA described the measure as a means of creating “a more gradual salary reduction schedule,” in anticipation of most or all of the remaining regular season games and postseason being lost.The NBA and its players are bracing to possibly exercise a “force majeure” clause in the collective bargaining agreement, which would mean the official cancellation of the 259 remaining regular season games. In that event, players would lose up to 22 percent of their gross income, according to the Associated Press.Players, of course, make up just a small part of the NBA workforce that is hurting in response to the outbreak. Silver said adding to frustration is the knowledge that other league staffers, arena employees and the larger net of workers (an estimated 55,000 people, Silver said) are all feeling the pinch of the NBA on hiatus. He acknowledged that owners in the Friday meeting, conducted by video conference, were feeling angst given the vast societal challenges of coronavirus and what they view as a “civic obligation” to find a pathway back to competition, albeit safely.The coronavirus threat has only heightened the stakes for the NBA. As Silver said Friday: “Our revenue, in essence, has dropped to zero.”center_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years In February, Silver estimated as much as $400 million had been lost in a brouhaha with China over a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey about protests in Hong Kong. The outsized political fallout saw Chinese state television remove NBA broadcasts from its airwaves and a multitude of Chinese businesses suspend partnerships with teams. The NBA’s desire to repair diplomatic relations with China was stunted by the coronavirus crisis in the Wuhan province of the country even before it spread to the United States.The NBA initially disclosed several positive COVID-19 test results, which included two players on the Lakers. But Silver said the league has now backed away from that in favor of player privacy, as well as the idea that the identity of individuals infected by coronavirus is less important in a country with more than 700,000 reported cases.Silver said the general feeling from league ownership was one of hope that the NBA can come back, and hopefully raise national spirits by returning — whenever that may be.“I think there is a sense that we can continue to take a leading role as we learn more in coming up with an appropriate regimen and protocol for returning to business,” he said. “I think there’s a recognition from them that this is bigger than our business, certainly bigger than sports, and that there is great symbolism around sports in this country, and that to the extent we do find a path back, it will be very meaningful for Americans.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed last_img read more