Basketball regular season wrap up

Jake Elmslie -Sports Editor

The regular season came to a close for both of Rhode Island College’s basketball programs Saturday afternoon, with one team gearing up for a playoff run while another has been left on the outside looking in.

The Anchorwomen came into Saturday locked in as the fifth seed in the Little East, however coach Jenna Cosgrove still opted to utilize her full rotation in what resulted in a 63-52 win over the University of Massachusetts Boston Beacons. While the victory has no impact on the seeding of the RIC team it does mean that the Beacons will enter the Little East tournament as the fourth seed and thusly will have a rematch with the Anchorwomen Tuesday evening in Boston in the conference quarterfinals. “We were definitely motivated by the fact that winning meant we got to go up to Boston instead of taking a three hour ride up to Maine, we were pumped about that” explained Coach Cosgrove postgame.

The Anchorwomen will exit the regular season with their first winning record in four years at 17-9. RIC was lead in scoring by Brooke Young who managed to average 9.9 points per game for an Anchorwomen team that averaged 62.3 points per game as a team, good enough for the sixth most in the conference.

Meanwhile, the men’s team came into Saturday already knowing that their season was over long before tip off of what ended in a 80-64 against the Umass Boston team. The Anchormen under head coach Tom Glynn will fall victim to the newly contracted Little East playoff format. 2019 marks the first season that only the top six teams in the conference advanced to the playoffs as opposed to the eight team tournament of yore.

Photos courtesy of Thomas Crudale

The Anchormen entered the month of February in a prime position to advance to the playoffs however three crucial loses over the months first two weeks tanked their chances. To their credit though the team recorded their first winning record since 2015 in what was characterized as a rebuilding year by Coach Glynn prior to the start of the season.

Notable is the fact that the Anchormen entered the game with around half of their roster missing, with many players including team leading scorer Adham Floyd being absent on the court while simultaneously not being listed on the team’s official roster. An anonymous source tells The Anchor that Floyd was among a group of players who quit the team in the last week.

Overall Justin Campbell stands as the lone graduating senior between both the men’s and women’s teams. “It’s bittersweet, I was thinking about it all last night, it’s been keeping me up. It was tough knowing this was my last game and that there aren’t any after it but overall the last four years I can honestly say I enjoyed myself.” Campbell who will conclude his career as the 25th 1000 point scorer in RIC men’s basketball history expositied postgame.

Women’s team on fast track to immortality

Jake Elmslie -Sports Editor

Saturday evening the Rhode Island College women’s track and field team claimed the Little East Conference indoor championship in what was a momentously historic day for both the athletes involved and the program they represent.

Continuing what has been a superlative season for head coach Tim Rudd and his squad, the Anchorwomen saw no less than four school records broken Saturday to go alongside numerous meet and conference records.

These records included Chelsea Yang becoming the programs all-time leader in the weight throw with a 18.51 meter effort; Eleni Grammas setting the RIC mark in the 60 meter dash with a time of 7.89 seconds and Margaret McCaffrey breaking the record she herself established in the mile earlier this season with a time of 5:18.9 minutes.

Another standout for the Anchorwomen was junior Emma Landroche who after never having jumped before this season was able to set the RIC record in the long jump with a 5.69 meter leap. Landroche, who is ranked sixth in the nation in the event was also able to claim a victory for RIC in the 200 meter dash as well as closing out the Anchorwomen’s championship 4×200 and 4×400 relays.

“I’m extremely proud of the ladies and what they accomplished, this is probably the most balanced team athlete and coaching-wise the college has ever seen for the track and field program” Coach Rudd gushed when reached for comment by The Anchor. “Team is primed and ready to continue to improve we had 14 ladies qualified for New Englands, that’s most in programs history and there’s a realistic chance for 6 athletes to qualify for nationals.”

The Anchorwomen and their 14 qualifying athletes will next compete in the New England Division III Championship hosted at Bowdoin College this coming Friday and Saturday.

The Alliance of American Football: The Good, The Bad and The Future

Joseph A. Griswold  – Assistant Sports Editor

Just a week after Super Bowl LIII concluded, The Alliance of American Football (AAF) launched a new professional football league aimed at bringing high quality football, during a normally football-less time of year.

The eight-team league opened its’ inaugural 10 game season averaging 3.25 million viewers. This is an impressive number considering that the league was not heavily publicized. Despite the solid opening weekend figures, founder Charlie Ebersol understands that, “[They] have to remain slow and steady in building things.”

As with most new products the AAF had good and bad aspects, how they receive this information and respond will determine how prosperous their future can be.

The positives for the AAF include an overall faster game that revolves around the on-field product. The average AAF game takes around two and a half hours, roughly 45 minutes less than the average NFL game.

Rule changes have also served to the benefit of the AAF. New rules such as a shorter play clock, no kickoffs and no point-after-touchdown will provide faster, higher scoring games.

Two of the most alluring changes from the AAF are the heavy use of on-field microphones and the use of total transparency regarding referees. In the AAF every important player, coordinator and coach have live-in-game mics that can be heard by the audience. In terms of referee transparency, any time there is a challenge issued the viewer is allowed to see and hear the official’s process showing complete transparency. This innovation allows the fans to see why a call is made and is an innovation the NFL should consider.

Despite the positives for the AAF, there are still some areas that will threaten the future success of the league. Quarterback play is the largest threat to the league considering that the NFL cannot fill out their rosters with quality quarterbacks across the board. Poor quarterback play can turn a league, even one that promotes offense lifeless.

Although many of the rule changes administered by the AAF are positives, one that seems misguided is the non-blitzing rule. AAF defenses are only allowed to have a maximum of five men at the line of scrimmage and cannot blitz any player from the secondary. Although this may seem to promote more offense, it can also lead to quarterbacks sitting in the pocket for far too long. Furthermore, this takes away many of the exciting escapes and scrambles that come from secondary blitzes in the NFL.   Although the idea may seem like it adds to the league, in practicality, it diminishes some of the defensive talent.

The AAF is not the first, or last professional football league that has attempted to run alongside the NFL. However, the future of the AAF may depend upon their cooperation with the NFL. At this point, the AAF shows promise not as a competitor of the NFL, but a developmental spring league that allows fans to watch football all-year-round.

Owls make mincemeat of men’s basketball

Jake Elmslie  -Sports Editor

Rhode Island College’s Men’s Basketball entered the Murray Center Saturday afternoon with the chance to put themselves within striking distance of claiming the fourth seed in the Little East conference and with it, a home playoff game. For the first three quarters of Saturday’s contest, it seemed like the Anchormen might just take the first step towards their goal, but the team fell prey to a late surge from their competition and were unable to pull off the upset in an 87-68 loss against the Keene State College Owls.

Facing off against the Little East’s second ranked team, the Anchormen held tough for the entirety of the first half in what was a true back and forth affair, with neither team ever holding more than a two possession lead. At the conclusion of the first half, RIC trailed 42-38, but they had accumulated more assists and less turnovers than the opposition in what was a clean half of basketball. The Anchormen were paced through the stanza by senior captain Justin Campbell’s 11 points. In this game, Campbell was coming fresh off of a Wednesday night performance where he recorded his 1000th career point, etching his mark in RIC basketball history.

#23 – Justin Campbell

The first 12 minutes of the second half very much resembled the entirety of the first with RIC and Keene State continuously overtaking one another in a game that seemed destined for a dramatic finish. This would not turn out to be the case though with the game taking a dire turn for the RIC team in the game’s final quarter. “We just ran out of gas” explained Anchormen forward Adham Floyd post game. Coach Glynn had opted to only play six players for a majority of the game, and by the game’s final minutes it became apparent that his team simply could no longer keep up with the fast paced Owls’ offense, surrendering 25 points in the final eight minutes of play.

With this loss, the Anchormen fall to 13-10 on the season and 6-8 in the conference. While a home playoff game is likely off the table for RIC, the team still controls its own destiny in regards to claiming one of the final two playoff berths in the conference. The team has two games remaining in the regular season, both inter-conference matchups, and will be on the road Wednesday for a battle with fourth seed Western Connecticut State University. Tip off for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

“We’re Next”: how the Bruins can give Boston another title

Joseph A. Griswold -Assistant Sports Editor

The Boston Bruins look to continue the championship parade following both the Patriots and Red Sox bringing home their respective titles. Following the Patriots Super Bowl victory, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy kept it simple, “We’re next.”

Cassidy, who has been behind the bench for two seasons, believes this team has what it takes to hoist the Stanley Cup. With top players, Brad Marchand, David Pasternak and Patrice Bergeron performing at an incredible level it seems hard to doubt Cassidy.

Despite the confidence, the Bruins still have areas that need improving. The Bruins have struggled in the same area since their playoff exit last year: scoring goals.

Much of last year the Bruins, for the most part, were a team that relied heavily on their first-line to produce a majority of their goals. This year has been no different, as the first line has accounted for over 40 percent of their goals as a team.

Cassidy has tried his best to reshuffle the lineup and work from within the Bruins. However, he has been unable to solve the Bruins’ secondary scoring woes.

Luckily, the Bruins hold a large number of assets they can move before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. With that being said, the Bruins have learned since last years Rick Nash trade and do not plan to expend a lot of young talent for a rental. Here are the most viable options that will push the Bruins into the championship conversation.

Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers: Simmonds, the long-time Flyer could be the answer for the Bruins scoring woes. The 30-year-old winger has averaged almost 30 goals in each of his last five seasons. Further, Simmonds is a proven playoff competitor and a dynamic scorer on the power play. Although Simmonds is currently on an expiring contract, the Bruins would not have to expend much to bring in a proven playoff scorer.

Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets: Panarin, the former Blackhawk and current Blue Jacket is the crown jewel of the trade market. Panarin posses game-changing talent and is a proven sniper and playmaker. Unfortunately, for the Bruins, Panarin would come at a high cost, likely in the form of Jake Debrusk and accompanying picks.

Ryan Dzingel, Ottawa Senators: Dzingel holds the most risk of any of the trade targets. His numbers have increased in each of the last four years; however, with little playoff experience it is uncertain what he can attribute down the road.

The Bruins are once again on the cusp of being a Stanley Cup contender. Much like last year they require another scoring presence in their top six forwards.

The player that can benefit the Bruins the most, while still keeping their current forwards in tact is Flyers’ winger Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds can supply scoring while also bringing the physical brand of hockey required for the playoffs.

Last year the Bruins made the wrong move at the deadline and it cost them a shot at the Stanley Cup. If the Bruins plan on joining the Patriots and Red Sox, Bruce Cassidy and general manager Don Sweeney must learn from last year’s mistakes.

For all the things that last forever

Jordan Moment – Anchor Contributor

If you would have asked me two months ago if the New England Patriots would be at the winning end of the Super Bowl, I would have told you it would have been a miracle for them to make it to the Super Bowl. It was the worst regular-performance that I had seen from the Patriots since their lackluster 2011 season. When compared to the amount of fresh talent, explosive offenses, and all around more interesting characters, it seemed almost certain that one of the rising teams such as the Chiefs, Rams, or Saints were sure to knock the Patriots from the pinnacle, but things certainly did not happen that way. And all throughout New England, we hear the chants and see the hashtags; we hear the chants and we speak of legacies, dynasties, and eras. If you were to ask the average American what immortality looked like, they might point you towards any number of banners hanging from the rafters of Gillette Stadium, a dominion of kings.

They might also tell you that they don’t like the mixing of politics and sports but use the language of the former to describe the latter. Bill Belichick could be described as Caesar, and the Patriots as another Rome, bellowing and laying waste to the far-flung carthaginians of the NFL. Or, that was 10 years ago and now they are edging up against Germanic peoples, slowly being delegated back into mediocrity which is the namesake for the AFC East. Immortality then is a fallacy, a brief passing moment where the accolades are enshrined and then used as justification for a narrative of decline or restoration. Where those who are immortalized outlive all that they have wrought and only become a hollow name scratched into a chemical treated plaque or a picture behind glass which loses meaning to subsequent generations. Peter Jackson’s documentary about the First World War captures the essence of this reality. “They Shall Not Grow Old” is not only a testament to the Lost Generation, the nickname for the millions who fought and died in the pointless venture that was the Great War, but also a lesson to the immortality of the 15 million people who perished in the conflict.

In every small village and hamlet in England there is a statue commemorating those who died on the contentment between the 1914 and 1918. In places in Belgium and France, there are black and white crosses statues of weeping parents with faces wretched in sorrow overlooking them. But, the most captivating part was not seeing men and women our ages serving as soldiers and nurses, 100-years ago in color, but the fact you know that their sacrifices were in vein. That tears, crosses, corpses, and monuments does not prevent the next conflict only 20 years after the fact. That entire dynasties that stretched centuries into the past were eviscerated. That the Europe that built a century of wealth due to post-Napoleonic conquest of Africa and Asia ate itself alive in ten years of war. That has been the fate for all dynasties, collapse and irrelevance, so what difference can we expect for the Patriots? In the near future there will be highlight of Tom Brady and the 2000s the same way highlights are played of Joe Montana and the 49ers in the 80s. Which leads to the great struggle of history, if you were not there you do not know the feeling, and it all just becomes paragraphs in a textbook or numbers on a stat sheet. So, what is the point of having monuments if people stop paying attention to them? What’s the point of having empires if you crown your heirs with dust?  

Professional basketball; a fraternity of familiarity

Jake Elmslie -Sports Editor

The NBA is an absolute wasteland at the moment. The Golden State Warriors have somehow found a way to reach a new echelon of greatness with the addition of a newly healthy Demarcus Cousins and are almost certainly cruising to their 4th title in five years. With that in mind fans of professional basketball have had a couple of choices when it’s come to enjoying the NBA over the last few seasons. Option A has always been to simply ignore reality and delude oneself into believing that any other team has had a chance against the Warriors since they added Kevin Durant three seasons ago. This of course has never at any point been the case since somewhere along the way humanity apparently lost the privilege of enjoying competitive professional basketball.

For those that accept the actualities of the NBA in the era of the Super Team, the options are to either, try and starve off the knowledge of how the season is inevitably going to conclude for as long as possible, or to indulge in the only truly compelling aspects of the NBA calendar. Those being the intricacies of roster construction and the nearly non-stop rumor mongering and drama that seems to follow the league’s elite players.

For those that take the latter path when it comes to their consumption of the NBA, this last week’s trade deadline served as a tantalizing appetizer to the buffet of intrigue that will be the 2019 offseason. What fans saw was a prelude to what promises to be a complete reshuffling of the power hierarchy in the league, a perfect storm of contract expiration where over half of the greatest basketball players in the world will stretch the limits of the illusion of management that extends over the NBA.

This trade deadline was highlighted by an influx of sub all-star level players into the eastern conference with difference makers like Marc Gasol and Tobias Harris joining the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers respectively and versatile sharp shooting big man Nikola Mirotic joining the Milwaukee Bucks. However these transactions all paled in comparison to the theater surrounding Anthony Davis’s efforts to prematurely rid himself of the shackles of being a member of the small market Pelicans. Now while he will remain on the team for the remainder of the season is a near forgone conclusion that his soon-to-be former organization will trade him in the offseason, effectively adding him to a luminous free agent pool.

The list of upcoming free agents reads like an All-NBA team, highlighted by names such as Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and of course most importantly to Boston Celtics fans Kyrie Irving. Nearly every one of these players debatably has the ability to entirely reverse the fortunes of an organization, both by joining and through leaving. These players are listed without even mentioning the itinerary of other available players who are all capable of filling key roles in a championship caliber core.     

As has often been the case in the NBA over the last decade or so teams are at the mercy of the whims of these players in a way unlike any of the other major professional leagues. It is very telling that the meticulously laid plans of Celtics general manager Danny Ainge who in the eyes of many has spent the last five or so years meticulously making trades, accumulating assets and managing contracts in a way that would put him and his organization in the best possible position to land Anthony Davis if he was ever to become available in a trade may just have his hopes dashed simply because Lebron James and Davis share the same agent. But so is the nature of the NBA, a league where the interpersonal network between players dominates everything from the news cycle to the construction of the teams themselves.

“The Last Stylebender” continues meteoric rise

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports

Israel Adesanya remained undefeated and established himself as a top contender in the UFC’s (Ultimate Fighting Championship) middleweight division on Saturday with a unanimous decision win over 185 pound Brazilian legend Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

 “The Last Stylebender” headlined the main event of UFC 234, which took place at Rob Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.

The three round main event was announced the day of the fights, as the scheduled headliner between UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Kelvin Gastelum was called off after it was suddenly revealed that the champion needed emergency surgery on an abdominal hernia the night before.

The fight between #15 ranked Silva and #6 ranked Adesanya marked a crossroads for both fighters. For Adesanya, whose prolific rise in MMA has caught the eyes of fight fans all across the world, it was the opportunity to make his dreams a reality. He would be able to face his idol, the man who he built his fighting style around, and establish himself as the number one contender at 185.

Anderson Silva’s task was different, it was a chance to show the world that at age 43, after 17 wins in the Octagon and 14 world championship title defenses, he was still the same fascinating matrix like fighter that had mistified fight fans for years. After a rough 1-4-1 record since losing his title, Silva’s time to shine and turn back the clock had arrived.

It was a matchup of elite strikers to say the least. Silva’s style has amazed fighters and fans alike for years. His lightning quick reflexes, lethal clinch, and creative style of kicks coupled with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been the template for a generation of strikers in mixed martial arts for a decade.

Adesanya is considered by many the second coming of “The Spider.” Israel was born and raised in Nigeria, he now lives and trains in New Zealand. After fourteen straight victories including three in the UFC, Adesanya knocked out veteran UFC middleweight Derek Brunson in November at UFC 230. Shortly after the fight fans began to talk about matching him up against the UFC legend Silva, and the contracts were signed to fight in Australia.

Adesanya came out confident in the first round landing one-two’s and outside leg kicks, while Silva circled and made reads on his opponent. Silva’s best strike in the first and throughout the fight was his right hook, which he began to land towards the end of round one.

Anderson picked up momentum as round two started and the fighters started to get comfortable in the Octagon, taunting each other while throwing a series of high level spinning kicks, including spinning heel kicks to the shin and head. Silva searched for the clinch throughout the round and succeeded briefly in drawing out a brawl from “Stylebender”

Adesanya “got on his bike” in the third round and continued to land leg kicks, which he tripled up on Silva in the fight, landing over twenty. Silva continued the overconfident ways that have gotten him in trouble in the past, often lowering his hands and allowing himself to be hit in an attempt to goad Adesanya into a firefight, but he stay composed, and landed shots from the outside.

At the end of three rounds three judges scored the contest 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28 for Adesanya.

Adesanya expressed his gratitude and admiration for Silva in the post fight interview, saying that “This is like for a kid, if I’m playing basketball with Michael Jordan. This is it for me.”

All Elite Wrestling: the latest challenger to a global juggernaut

Joshua Percy – Anchor Staff

For the last few years, there have been four major wrestling companies. WWE is number one, followed by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Then Ring of Honor (ROH) and finally, Impact Wrestling. What happens when you combine wrestlers from all four is you get the new company All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

The owner of AEW is Shahid Khan, who is also the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is teaming up with former WWE Superstars Cody and Brandy Rhodes and the NJPW and ROH stars the Young Bucks to create a brand new wrestling company that they hope will become an “alternative to going to WWE.” They already have 3 major players joining their roster. Former Bullet Club members Adam “Hangman” Page, former WWE Champion Chris Jericho and former WWE Superstar Neville also known as PAC.  

These seven superstars alone can put on five-star matches every night, and their company is just starting. The addition of AEW to the list of wrestling companies is great news for the general wrestling fan. No company has come close to creating the amount of viewership the WWE regularly earns, but AEW may have found the answer.

Adding proven stars like the Young Bucks and Hangman Page alongside future Hall of Famer Chris Jericho, and bringing in underutilized fan favorites like PAC and Cody Rhodes forces fans to become interested in the underdogs and gives the mistreated stars a chance to shine. AEW ‘s first official event will be called “Double or Nothings” and is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on May 25, 2019.

Should WWE be afraid of AEW taking the spotlight away from them? Probably not right now, but how well the company performs in the next three years will determine if this company will actually become a threat in competing with WWE, or if it will fail to become competitive like so many other companies before them.

For now, wrestling fans should rejoice as a hot startup wrestling company is stepping up to the plate against the evil empire that is WWE.  

NHL slips up during All-Star weekend

Joseph A. Griswold – Assistant Sports Editor

One step forward, four steps back. That seems to be the mantra most major league sports are working under when it comes to gender equality. This year the National Hockey League invited four female players from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) to participate in the 2019 All-Star weekend located in San Jose, Calif.

Brianna Decker, a player for the Calgary Inferno member of the U.S. women’s national team, competed in the premier passing skills event and posted a blazing unofficial time of 1:06 which bested the eight NHL players in the competition. The closest time was Edmonton Oilers’ forward Leon Draisaitl who posted a time of 1:09. Normally, the player with the fastest time is awarded $25,000; however, since Decker was not officially in the competition, she was not awarded the prize and the money was awarded to Draisaitl.

NHL player, Brianna Decker, Photo courtesy Deadspin

Fans were outraged after the money was not awarded to Decker, and took to Twitter causing #PayDecker to start trending. Rather than make the appropriate move and pay Decker, who makes only $22,000 in an entire year, the NHL decided to carefully review her time to show that she, in fact, finished slightly after Draisaitl who is set to make $9 million this year.

The NHL then attempted to save face by donating $25,000 to the charity of her choice. Luckily for the fans and for Decker, hockey brand CCM tweeted, “We’re going to #PayDecker,” citing her tremendous performance and their support for the women’s hockey.

Following the tweet by CCM, Decker responded thanking the fans and CCM for their support, “Thank you for supporting the men’s and women’s game equally.”

Despite the invite, the way the NHL handled the Decker situation is a black mark, especially considering it comes barely a week after the NHL celebrated “Hockey Is For Everyone,” a week aimed to highlight the uniting and inclusive nature of hockey.

The NHL is the latest league to prove that major league sports are still a long way from gender equality. Hopefully, the NHL sees this as a learning opportunity and will allow female players to actually partake in the competition next year, rather than a publicity stunt.