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Men’s basketball: Hayes cements his legacy in final season

first_imgAfter a rough beginning, Nigel Hayes turned himself and his team around in route to a fourth consecutive sweet 16, capping his senior season with a game-winning shot and earning the title of the Badger Herald’s Male Athlete of the Year.Throughout the year, Nigel Hayes became one of the biggest question marks for the Badgers, struggling to find his jumper and proving to be a liability at the line. As the season wore on, Wisconsin fans longed for the player they saw in the second half of the 2015-16 season when he led a young team to the Sweet 16, or the sophomore who stole the show on the Badger’s run to the NCAA championship.Yes it was clear, Hayes no longer had the supporting cast of guys like Kaminsky, Gasser and Decker. But if his college career up until this point was any indication, the senior from Toledo, Ohio was more than ready to take the reins.Hayes: In ‘one-and-done’ era, Nigel Hayes’ return isn’t so simpleThere is no doubt Nigel Hayes’ decision to return for his senior season was one the best outcomes for the Read…As his final season in Wisconsin began, expectations peaked for a team whose leaders (Hayes and Koenig), have never lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. With a talented group of young players including sophomore Ethan Happ who burst onto the scene in his freshman campaign, Hayes and company were poised to continue the streak of success deep into the playoffs.Living up to those expectations, the Badgers jumped out to one of their best starts in program history with a record of 22-3. With the team rolling behind the play of Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig, Hayes struggled to find that elite talent we’ve known for three years.The biggest wakeup call came at the end of the season when Wisconsin lost five of their last seven, and a team built on success and consistency couldn’t find either. With the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments knocking at their door, the Badgers were scrambling for answers, and where better to look than Nigel Hayes.Despite Hayes’ struggles from the line, 59 percent, the Toledo native was not settling for a late season collapse to cap off his historic career.Men’s basketball: Experts see potential NBA futures for Hayes, KoenigWhile Nigel Hayes garnered most of the preseason attention regarding a future basketball career in the NBA, Bronson Koenig quietly Read…Like most great college and professional players, Hayes turned it on when it mattered the most. After falling to the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship game, the Badgers had their confidence back, and a chip on their shoulder after being named an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament.Similar to past years, the tournament was where Hayes came alive. After breezing by Virgina Tech, the Badgers faced off against the No. 1 overall seed Villanova in just the second round. After a turbulent season from the line and the field, Hayes shot over 50 percent from the field against the Wildcats, scoring 19 points including a Jordan-esque baseline fake to seal the deal against the top seed.Top five sports moments this semesterThe University of Wisconsin Athletic Department had a lot to celebrate this semester, even if none of those involved a Read…The Villanova game, like Hayes’ season, was a rollercoaster. A run here, a slump there, but in the end the veteran proved his worth, cementing his legacy in Wisconsin basketball.Along with a career shot to take down a one seed, here’s a list of some of Hayes’ notable achievements in his final year as a Badger, making him our Male Athlete of the Year.2017 NCAA Tournament All-East Region Team• 2017 Wooden Award Midseason Top-25• 2017 Player of the Year watch lists (Lute Olsen and Naismith)• 2017 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Watch List• 2017 Big Ten All-Tournament Team• 2017 Third-Team All-Big Ten• 2017 Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year• 2017 Senior CLASS Award Final 10• 2017 NABC Division 1 All-District Second Team[UPDATE] Hayes blows up Twitter with #BlackLivesMatter discussionFor six hours Thursday evening, University of Wisconsin star basketball forward Nigel Hayes tweeted 44 times supporting the Black Lives Read…last_img read more

Clippers ready to rumble on road with Spurs

first_imgSAN ANTONIO >> The Los Angeles Clippers are coming off a difficult-to-take 111-107 overtime loss Wednesday to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Staples Center. The Clippers lost their homecourt advantage, but they did win one game during the regular season at San Antonio, so all is not lost.Then again, the Clippers know winning on the road in the postseason is a different animal. That they will be trying to do that in the next two games against the defending champion Spurs at their arena makes that task all the more daunting.The series is tied 1-1. “It’s tough,” said point guard Chris Paul, whose team will tangle with the Spurs in Game 3 at 6:30 p.m. Friday at AT&T Center (on Prime Ticket and ESPN). Game 4 is Sunday.“We’ll have to be poised. We won’t have the crowd behind us like we did here (at Staples Center), but we’ve shown the ability to win there.“But their team is not going to beat themselves. You’ve got to go out there and beat them, and we’ve got to come in ready for Game 3.”Center DeAndre Jordan talked about the game plan away from home.“It’s different in the playoffs,” he said. “But we have won there before and it is going to be the same recipe. We have to come out aggressive early and not let them jump on us like they did (Wednesday).” Coach Doc Rivers declared his team prepared.“I don’t know if we played our best game tonight, I think that was pretty obvious,” he said after Wednesday’s game. “Yet we still had a chance to win, and you could say should have won the game. But we didn’t.“It tells me a couple of things. No. 1, this is going to be a hell of a series. And we’ll be ready for Game 3.”Blake Griffin, whose turnover with 11.9 seconds left in regulation and the Clippers ahead 94-92 was a hot topic of conversation, looks forward to the challenge.“It’s going to be a great environment,” he said. “It’s going to be loud. They have a great crowd, but that’s exciting for us. I think we respond to that well. We like to play on the road and we need to embrace that.”Tough to get pastWith Griffin’s blunder near the end of regulation, the Clippers still had to try to perform in overtime, during which they were outscored 17-13. Griffin, who took the blame for the loss, admitted it was difficult to get past his mistake.“Yeah, I mean, it’s going to (linger),” said Griffin, who also had his first playoff triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. “That one is going to hurt, but in the course of the game we had to move on. Still had a chance there. I liked the way we fought. Down 10 (in the fourth quarter), came back, got in the game, got up. I’ve just got to take care of the ball.”Free-throw woesThe Clippers shot just 54.1 percent (20 of 37) from the free-throw line. Eleven of those 17 misses came from Jordan, who was 6 of 17 and again fell prey to Hack-a-DJ.But guard J.J. Redick pointed out it wasn’t all on Jordan.“We had some opportunities (at the line),” Redick said. “They went to Hack-a-DJ, but even with that, I missed a (technical-foul free throw), Matt Barnes missed a couple. Just uncharacteristic.“Down the stretch, those one or two points certainly matter in the end.”Barnes was 1 of 4 from the free-throw line and shot just 1 of 10 from the field. He did grab 10 rebounds.Leonard honoredSpurs forward Kawhi Leonard on Thursday was named Defensive Player of the Year by the NBA. Forward Draymond Green of Golden State was second and the Clippers’ Jordan was third.Leonard had 333 total points and 37 first-place votes. Green, appearing on fewer ballots, tallied 317 points and 45 first-place votes. Jordan had 261 points and 32 first-place votes.Tim Duncan ‘smart’The Spurs’ Tim Duncan had a fine Game 2, scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. He also committed his fifth foul with 3:12 left in regulation but did not foul out.San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was impressed.“Timmy’s got a great mind,” he said. “He’s got a great feel for the game. He knows the situation. In that case, he knew what position he was in. He is just smart. … He continued to be aggressive, which is pretty amazing.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more