University of Albany guard Logan Aronhalt has decided to spend his final year of on-court eligibility at the University of Maryland this coming season. Aronhalt had completed his bachelor degree at Albany but because UA doesn't offer his graduate major, the NCAA allows student-athletes to transfer and play right away without penalty. I wrote about Aronhalt a few weeks ago when it first broke that both he and leading scorer Gerardo Suero wouldn't be returning for a promising season at Albany. At that moment I was more stunned that the top two offensive producers wouldn't be around for their senior season, but now that it's set in I find myself more excited, particularly for Logan's new opportunity. Playing for the Maryland Terrapins is a big deal. Not every day does a kid from the America East jump to play in the ACC and moreover have an opportunity to play major minutes right away for the Terps. The reason why Aronhalt's presence on campus will be such a good fit is largely due to the fact that Maryland two-guard and one of the nation's leading scorers, Terrell Stoglin, has jumped to the NBA draft after learning he would be suspended for the entire 2012-13 season for violating team/university rules. Not only is there now 21.6ppg that needs to made up for (the next closest scorer for Maryland puts up half of that), but also nearly 18 shots per game are waiting to be claimed. If I were to unfairly boil it down to Aronhalt's best on-court quality it would be just that, shot making. He shot over 35% from three point range this season while the most accurate returning three point shooter for Maryland is 27%. I expect that threat from behind the arch along with the mid range consistency of Logan will land him a starting role in a Terp uniform. Aronhalt averaged 13.8ppg this year in the America East for the 19-win Great Danes but most people don't realize that those numbers aren't truly reflective of the kind of season Logan was having before his knee started to flair up and prevent him from playing even double digit minutes in the final 7 games of the year. For most of the season Aronhalt was the third leading scorer in the America East putting up closer to 15ppg. I'm confident in Aronhalt raising his level when he plays in the ACC on a nightly basis because that's what he did when UA 'played up' in competition this year. The road warrior dropped 20 points at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, 13 points at both Pitt and Maryland, and 15 points at George Mason. Albany coach Will Brown and his staff will undoubtedly miss the reliability of Aronhalt on the perimeter this season, but you can bet that disappointment will equally match the relief from Maryland coach Mark Turgeon after having landed Aronhalt. He's a good player, a great student, and somehow a even better person, so despite the departure from the Great Danes it's hard for Albany's 'Purple Family' not to root for Logan Aronhalt moving forward...and they won't try. Best of luck Logan!
In the game of basketball being taller is better. I've been roughly 6'3 pushing 6'4 for the better part of the last 10 years, and that god given physical feature has been instrumental in my success on the court over that same stretch of time. When I walk into a room away from the court it's safe to say that I'm usually one of the bigger guys in the room. Sometimes I'm the tallest, but never the smallest. Over the years I've had literally hundreds of people comment on my height, whether it's the standard "you make me feel short" or "how's the weather up there?" Some of my teammates and opponents over the years have been monstrous and hear the comments even more than I do. I think of my teammate from the Empire State Games back in high school, Brad Sheehan who was 6'10. I had to look up at Brad and that gave me perspective of what a 7 inch difference must feel like to other 5-foot something's looking up at me. Never though have I felt dwarfed, that is until this past week when meeting my new teammate for the Albany Legends, 7-foot 3-inch Shagari Alleyne. This dude is a giant. The thought of someone's height making me temporarily uncomfortable had never come up until I went up and introduced myself to Shagari. Not only did my nose feel like it was lined up with his belly button, but when he first shook my hand his fingers had no other place to go beyond my palm but up my forearm. I thought he was going to eat me. We spoke for a few moments and then just he and I went into the bathroom to find a stall and change for practice. I peaked my eyes just over the top of the stall down the row of toilets to see Shagari's entire torso above the furthest northern point. It was incredible. It seemed like if he wanted to he could reach right over the barrier and flush the toilet in the stall next to him. (To put it in perspective I posted this pic with Shagari next to Shaq. As you can see Shagari makes Shaq's frame seem human). Our coach introduced him to the team and informed us that Shagari spent three years at Kentucky during the Tubby Smith era before transferring to Manhattan for his final year. He's played on numerous teams worldwide including the Harlem Globetrotters under the appropriate nickname "Skyscraper". During that first practice there were a few standout moments I'd never experienced. First I saw a human being for the first time be able to have two feet on the ground and grab the 10 foot high rim. I had heard of it being done but seeing it had me and my 11 teammates in awe. I later went to slap him on the rear for a 'thata-boy' and had to literally swing chest high to reach the appropriate level. When the 7'3 tree dunked the ball for the first time everyone couldn't help but laugh because of just how bizarrely easy it looked. It didn't take long to realize just how nice and gentle of a dude Shagari is too. Soft spoken but sharp witted, Shagari has turned out to be one of my favorite guys on the team. I give him all the credit in the world for being able to handle the attention he demands when his lanky self ducks into a room. People everywhere including his own teammates like me asking him for pictures, lifting kids he doesn't know up to the rim to dunk, and answering questions about his size 23 shoes are all taken in stride. Here is a video from this past Saturday (May 19th 2012) of an effortless offensive rebound and dunk.
Even in the Holy Bible it says we must give credit where credit is due, so with that being said I knew I had to carve out some space for LeBron James after receiving his third NBA MVP in four years this past weekend. Though the credit I want to throw his way with this post isn't the actual fact that he's the eighth player in league history to win his third MVP trophy joining the likes of guys such as Jordan, Russell, Kareem, and Magic, or that he averaged 27 points, 6 assists, and 8 rebounds per game this season for the Miami Heat. I hope (at least) by now we're all at the acceptance stage with LeBron concerning how special he is as a player and where his talent stack up with the all-time greats. Instead what I feel like I need to touch on is the way he's handled his latest accolade. There's been so much made in the last two years about LeBron as a person following 'The Decision'. I've ripped LBJ and his seemingly self serving and self centered attitude because it was hard for me to ignore. I'd found myself saying things like "Sure the guy is a great player, but anyone who gets 'Chosen 1' inked on their back is an attention whore." The examples of his needy self seemed endless, and then I watched this past weekend's 12-minute long MVP acceptance speech from King James. Not only did his candid words while accepting the trophy make me temporarily forget about any of his past transgressions, when I did recall them they seemed less significant. During those 12 minutes LeBron completely humanized himself. From the very moment he stepped on stage and said he didn't need the 'cheat sheet' his PR guy Adam gave him beforehand, to the point where he called every one of his Heat teammates on stage and turned around to thank them, the speech was a smash hit. I've posted the video below in case you missed it so you can see for yourself. The appreciation and the gratitude were real not only making him seem human as I said, but a likable one at that! (Could you imagine?!) Not that the noticeably humble King's words absolve him from any and every thing he's done that's rubbed me the wrong way, but I figured if I've banged on him for his missteps, he deserves to be credited with being a class act as he did this past weekend. Enjoy the video.
Before we all get too caught up in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs that are inching closer, I'd like to take a quick look back at some of the best plays from the recently concluded regular season. And when I say top plays, I mean dunks! (Sorry Purists. I love buzzer beaters as much as the next guy, but when half of the list is last second heaves it's time to make a separate list. So I picked a separate list. Dunks:) It's my belief that of the pro sports, the NBA have the best pure athletes, and this video serves as evidence. Watching these guys that are anywhere from 6 to 7-foot exploding on the breakaway or in the half court with the power and grace in which they do it is unworldly. Check out 6'10, 250lb Blake Griffin elevate to the point that a car could fit in the space between his feet and the ground while also having the coordination to grab the ball and jam it over a 7-footer while he's up there (#6). Or comprehend Russell Westbrook who's listed at 6'3 decide to only use one hand when catching Kevin Durant's ally-oop pass that was one foot above and 5 feet away from the rim when contacted (#3). Even if you disagree with me on which sport brings in the biggest, strongest, and the fastest athletes, I'm still pretty sure you'll walk away from this video better off. Enjoy!
P.S. For a better appreciation, in between each dunk on the countdown go stand under a regulation size hoop to remind your brain just how high 10-feet in the air is.
I'm going to go ahead and join the majority of rational people and shake my head at New York Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire. Usually when Amare is featured in one of my blog posts it's due to his lack of heart, rebounding or the inability to consistently make winning basketball plays for the Knicks, but this time it's a little different. Yes, his 7 rebounds in 41 minutes in game two's loss to the Miami Heat still won't cut it for an *elite* forward, but that performance wasn't any more out of the ordinary for Amare than his 5 boards in 32 minutes in game one's 34-point loss. What's stealing this blog's space is Stoudemire's realistic possibility of watching the rest of the Knicks first round from the sidelines due to a badly lacerated hand from punching glass covering a fire extinguisher following Monday's loss. I've seen this type of hot-headed behavior countless times during my time playing sports or watching them, and I figured that Amare took in the same lesson I had: The wall...the ground...the glass, they're all undefeated. There is zero upside with assaulting these non-living things. Don't misunderstand, I get the instinct to hit something in the heat of the moment out of frustration, but the urge to keep my bones and skin intact is stronger than the one that wants to hurt something that can't feel in the first place. I'll take it one step further...typically, the wacko who's doing the smashing is usually just as concerned about letting others know how mad he is as he is actually concerned about burning off his 'uncontrollable' frustration. Who knows Amare's true motive for attacking a sharp, inanimate object, but sources are saying it was the mere 9 shot attempts in game 2 that set him off. To that I'd ask, how bad did he want the ball in the first place? In 84 offensive rebounding opportunities the Knicks had in the first two games of the series, Stoudemire (who, allegedly, is an athletic 6'11 power forward) collected a grand total of 2. Considering that the Heat don't even have a true rebounding forward or center, that's a pretty telling 'S.T.A.T.', don't you think? (OK, so I did bang on Amare again for not rebounding, back to the punch) Recently I've been spending time in an urban high school and have seen this "Punch 'X' because I'm pissed" behavior a handful of times. I've witnessed students punch lockers, desks and walls, most of them with the cast covering their hand the following day to prove it. I understand Stoudemire came directly out of high school to the NBA, but at nearly 30 years old I trusted that he'd broken those 15-year old instincts. In an apologetic tweet, Amare said that the incident had "bad timing". Show me "good timing" to fish-fillet your hand with glass and I'll show you a padded room. As a lifelong sports fan I find myself passionately defending players on my favorite teams, but I think even the truest and bluest Knicks fans will have their hands full defending this one...one handful, anyway.
Zach graduated from St Rose in 2010 with a degree in
communications. After graduating he covered the same program in which
he played, the st rose mens basketball team for one season before
being hired as an analyst for UAlbany's division 1 football and