Perfection: population two?

Joseph Griswold – Anchor Staff

In the storied history of the National Football League there has only been one perfect team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins who went undefeated and beat the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. The last team that came close to the mark was the seemingly unstoppable 2007 New England Patriots who fell to the Eli Manning and the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII 17-14.  

Each year as the football season begins 32 teams are vying for a chance to become the team to unseat the dolphins as the only undefeated team. Halfway through the season there is only one team left with that opportunity: The Los Angeles Rams.

The fact that the Rams are even in the conversation is mind-blowing as just two seasons ago they went 4-12 under Jeff Fisher. They were considered one of the worst teams in the league and then-rookie quarterback Jared Goff was already being labeled a bust.

Now in just their second season under young and fiery head coach Sean Mcvay the Rams seem very similar to the 2007 Patriots, averaging 33 points a game and cruising to their 8-0 record by an average margin of victory of almost 14 points.

So, can the Rams do what the Patriots could not? The talent from top to bottom on this team seems to support that they can.

On offense the Rams are led by an outstanding young quarterback Goff who is throwing to one of the best wide-receiver trios in the league, Brandon Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. In the backfield Goff has the best running back in the league, Todd Gurley, who is averaging almost two touchdowns a game combined rushing and receiving.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

On defense, the Rams are led by seven-former first rounders, following their trade for defensive end Dante Fowler. Overall on paper, the Rams seem have the potential to become the second undefeated champion in NFL history.

However, NFL games are not played on paper and the Rams face some serious threats to their undefeated season in their final eight games. Their next test will come in the form of a surging Seahawks team who have finally found their stride following an early season struggle.

Following Seattle comes arguably their largest challenge in a neutral site game in Mexico City against the Kansas City Chiefs, the only team averaging more points per game. Led by their own young quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs will look to put an end to the Rams undefeated season much as the New England Patriots did to them following a last second field goal by New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski to hand them their sole loss.

Assuming they can get past the Chiefs their next three games provide no respite on the road against the Detroit Lions, who have taken down both the Green Bay Packers and Patriots, but have been wildly inconsistent. They’ll also be on the road against the Chicago Bears who have the top rated defense in the league and arguably the NFL’s most valuable player in linebacker Khalil Mack.  

The last major challenge comes in a Sunday night game against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles who are beginning to look more like real contenders after a sluggish start to the season.

If the Rams can navigate through these games they end the season with the lowly Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, which should allow them to stroll into the postseason a perfect 16-0.

It is not far-fetched to believe the Rams can pull off the undefeated season. However, it is more likely that they will fall to Kansas City or Philadelphia allowing the 1972 Dolphins team to once again pop the cork and remain the only unbeaten team in NFL history.

RIC Men’s Basketball’s newest helmsman ready to get to winning

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

Rhode Island College Men’s Basketball will open up their season this Thursday with a new man at the helm. New head coach Tom Glynn, hired over the summer, is excited to be at Rhode Island College and in his own words is “looking forward to reestablishing basketball from a winning perspective at Rhode Island College.”

Coach Glynn is no stranger to winning, he comes to RIC fresh off of a successful four year stint as the head coach of Nichols College in Dudley Massachusetts. In his time at Nichols the Bisons had the best regular season record in their conference each year, won two consecutive conference championships and managed to win a round in the NCAA national division III men’s basketball championship. Overall Coach Glynn compiled a 94-20 record during his tenure at Nichols and lead a team that was consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally amongst division III teams.

When asked why he left Nichols for RIC Coach Glynn explained that “the basketball program here at RIC has traditionally been one of the programs that I’ve always kind of kept an eye on and one that has a tradition of success in a pretty competitive conference” and that “The chance to come here and turn the program around after a couple down seasons was too good to pass up.”

Coach Glynn will be tasked with resurrecting a RIC program that won only 14 games over the past three seasons under previous head coach Mike Byrnes. According to Coach Glynn he is going to be “sticking to the same plan I had when I got to Nichols, the kids need to trust me and my blue print. Part of that is bringing in a really good recruiting class year one and to do that we need to have some success here this season.” Coach Glynn also believes that it is crucial for the team to have success early in order for players who may be disillusioned by RIC’s lack of winning over the past few seasons to buy in.

The Waltham native plans to run an up tempo system with an emphasis on strong defense and a free flowing offense. He has been impressed with how well the team has played in scrimmages up to this point and hopes these efforts carry over into the regular season.

Coach Glynn has yet to fully settle on a lineup but intends to “ride the hot hand at guard and utilize a solid three to four man rotation at forward.” To the later end he plans on utilizing players such as sophomore Adham Floyd, coming off of a 2017 Little East all rookie team selection and Freshman Deyshawn Tengbeth, an East Providence graduate whom Coach Glynn has high hopes for.

Coach Glynn has focused on establishing a culture toughness and effort. In practice he has been preaching competitiveness, they keep score of nearly everything and hone in on simulating a variety of late game situations.

When asked how he intends to reignite student interest in the Anchorman Coach Glynn explained that “if you’re winning fans will come and that includes members from the local community outside of the student body.” He believes renewed competitiveness will invigorate recruiting efforts and “give us the chance to get real players, difference makers that can put us over the top.”

RIC students will get their first chance to see the Anchorman in their season opener Thursday evening when they face off against the out of conference Fitchburg State Falcons in the Murray Center, tip off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Sorrow but not separate: The uniting power of sports

Joseph Griswold – Anchor Staff

In the world there is good and there is evil.

On Saturday October 27 the world was reminded how evil the world can be when a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh and killed 11 people.

The abhorrent act shook not only Pittsburgh, but the entire United States to its core. Eight men and three women lost their lives during Saturday morning religious services in what Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto called, “ [The] darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history”.

On Sunday, the residents of Pittsburgh rose sorrowful, but ready to root for their hometown Steelers. As the community continued to mourn for those lost, the sports community united with love and compassion around the game they love. Before the game the Steelers held a moment of silence for those lost along with teams across the National Football League.

The Steelers then went on to defeat the Cleveland Browns 33-18 led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who hoped the victory provided, “A three-hour break of maybe not thinking about it all the time”.

Following the game head coach Mike Tomlin, a member of the Squirrel Hill Community said, “Words cannot express how we feel as members of the community. We are prayerful”  

Along with Tomlin many others players expressed their sympathies including defensive end Cameron Hayward who said,  “For the families involved, that [pain] never goes away. … Our city can overcome this, but everybody’s got to love, everybody’s got to care, and we’ll continue to do our part. I know everybody in this locker room cared so much for everybody who was involved in that. And we’re going to continue to care. It just doesn’t happen overnight”.

Along with the NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League all held moments of silence following the tragedy.

There is no way to prevent all evil, but together love, compassion and sport conquer all.

Photo courtesy The Athletic

RIC Volleyball falls in conference semifinals

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

The Rhode Island College Women’s Volleyball team found it’s season brought to a close Friday evening due to a 3-0 loss against the number one seed Eastern Connecticut State Warriors in the Little East Conference semifinals.

The Anchorwomen who were the number five seed in the tournament were coming off of a Tuesday night 3-2 upset of the number four seed Western Connecticut State Colonials in the conference quarterfinals. This victory was the first postseason win for an Anchorwomen program that missed the playoffs in both 2017 and 2016.

Photo courtesy Rhode Island College

The end of the season also means the end of Coach Sherri Heard’s first year running the RIC volleyball program. When asked for her assessment of the season Coach Heard told The Anchor “It was a great season and I had a lot of fun, the girls responded well and worked hard from day one. I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the run they made this year.” Coach Heard was also proud of her team for exceeding preseason expectations. The Anchorwomen were ranked seventh in the annual Little East preseason coaches poll and were not projected as a playoff team, but were able to reach the final four in the conference.

This loss will also spell the end of the college careers of both defensive specialist Marisa Brynes and opposite hitter Jillian Ward. Ward became the fifth player in RIC history to record 1000 kills to go alongside 1100 digs earlier in the season.

Outside of these two the Anchorwomen will see a majority of their core return next season where they will once again try and compete for a Little East Championship.

The Boston Red Sox, World Series champions and then what?

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

By Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox will be playing in the world series and they are widely regarded as the favorite over the Los Angeles Dodgers to take home the Major League Baseball championship. They are near the zenith of President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski’s aggressive three year effort to rebuild the team. They are coming off the winningest regular season in franchise history, and they seemingly have one of the brightest young managers in the game in Alex Cora. However, despite all this success the Red Sox may be very close to a point where breaking down their current roster is the best decision for the long term viability of the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Obviously the idea of breaking apart a team immediately following a world series bid seems counterintuitive, but upon further inspection of the Red Sox roster and various contract situations it makes more sense than you might think. For starters, the team is facing a potential mass exodus of talent over the next two years with a bulk of their core players contracts being set to expire. Unlikely playoff studs Nathan Eovaldi and Ryan Brasier both have contracts set to expire after the world series and may command sizeable contracts after their performances this postseason. Closer Craig Kimbrel’s contract is also set to expire and while he has had a poor postseason, he has easily been the team’s best relief pitcher over the last two years and will ether have to be signed to a fairly lucrative contract or replaced in free agency. Starting pitcher David Price also has the option to opt out of his contract at the conclusion of the World Series and become a free agent however his contract is far above market value for a pitcher of his caliber so it is unlikely he goes this route. Following the 2019 season, the contracts of shortstop Xander Bogaerts and starting pitchers Chris Sale and Rick Porcello are set to expire. Also, J.D. Martinez will almost certainly opt out of the below market deal he signed last offseason to seek a contract more in line with his MVP caliber performance this year. Finally following the 2020 season the contracts of both ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. and likely AL MVP Mookie Betts are set to expire, with Betts having the potential to become the highest paid player in baseball.  

While it is possible that the Red Sox will be able to resign a large group of these players they will undoubtedly lose some of their current core to free agency. The problem for the Red Sox than lies in the lack of routes they currently have for obtaining new players. Due to the vast myriad of trades Dombrowski has made over the last three years to bolster the major league roster, the Red Sox have been left with one of the worst farm systems in baseball, lacking many talented prospects with potential to make an impact in the MLB. Because of this, the team is unable to make any significant trades, lacking valuable assets outside of the players already in the major league. Also this means the Red Sox most likely will not have any impact players coming out of their farm system over the next few years to fill in the holes created when players inevitably leave the team.

This leaves free agency as the only avenue the Red Sox have to improve themselves. This is an unenviable position to be in as even if the Red Sox have much more money to spend than most MLB teams free agency is a fickle beast and is usually not a reliable way to fill specific holes on a team, especially when it comes to pitching. Because of this if the Red Sox attempt to keep as much of the current team together as possible while attempting to replace them with free agents they have little control over the availability of it is likely the quality of the team’s roster will decrease in both 2019 and 2020.

This is where the idea of possibly breaking up this teams current core comes in. Getting in front of the matter and trading away some of the players on contracts set to expire to rebuild the farm system would allow the Red Sox to assure they have some sort of future after 2020. While trading away a majority of their current players for prospects would be absurd accepting that it is in the team’s best interest to take a step back over the next few years to assure longterm competitive viability may be the best path for the Red Sox. Obviously the Red Sox should not completely tear down their roster and resemble teams such as the Orioles or Royals but World Series or not they need to begin looking towards the future and setting the stage for the next era of Red Sox Baseball.

Who is the next mayor of title town?

Joseph Griswold – Anchor Staff

They call it Title Town for a reason. Since 2000, no major city has had more championship parades than Boston. The four major teams: The Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins have accounted for 10 championships and have no indication of slowing down.

There is no question that the Patriots have long been the mayor of title town leading the way with five championships with the Red Sox Celtics and Bruins following their lead with five in total. However, with an aging Tom Brady coming to the end of his storied career it begs the question: Who is the next mayor of Title Town? Although the Red Sox and Celtics make strong cases, the Bruins are the team that most emulate the template that the Patriots have created for continued dominance.

The foundation of a dominant dynasty is built upon the ideals and goals of a great coach. The Bruins’ head coach Bruce Cassidy has already shown that he has the skill and knowledge to guide the Bruins to multiple championships. Following his takeover the team in 2017, Cassidy transformed a team that had missed the playoffs the year before into a team that has challenged in the playoffs each year. Cassidy has transformed the Bruins from the “Big Bad Bruins,” into a team that can compete and thrive in a league that is now centered on speed and skill.

Photo courtesy Boston Herald

Although great coaching is half the battle, you do not see Bill Belichick out there slinging touchdown passes. Every great coach needs a star to lead them to victory. Much as the Patriots and Belichick have Tom Brady, the Bruins have Tuukka Rask. Rask is one of the premier goalies in the National Hockey League and is entering his prime as a goalie. There is no question that the Cassidy/Rask combination could bring several Stanley Cups to Boston in the coming years.

The last component of a dominant dynasty is the combination of focused veterans and driven young players. The Bruins are led by arguably the best line in hockey: Brad Marchand, 30 years old; David Pastrnak, 22 years old; and Patrice Bergeron, 33 years old. The team also boasts one of the strongest defensive pairs in Zdeno Chara, 41 years old and Charlie McAvoy, 20 years old.

As The Patriots era likely comes to close with the retirement of Tom Brady, Boston fans can rejoice in the fact that Boston sports will remain atop the sports world. The key to title town is not lost: It is just being transferred from Gillette to the Garden.

Who is really America’s team?

Joshua Percy – Anchor Staff

The Dallas Cowboys, since 1978, have had the nickname of “America’s Team.” The reason behind it was because the Dallas Cowboys were recognizable around the world. However, the question should be raised, are the Cowboys still America’s team?

The Cowboys have not won a Superbowl since 1995, and have had 21 Playoff appearances since 1978. Historically, the Cowboys have always had great players such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Deion Sanders. They also have had great coaches such as Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells. However, The Cowboys in the last two decades are not as successful as they once were, with only 6 playoff appearances in the last two decades and only two wins.

When football fans think of success in the last two decades they think of the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots have dominated the current football era, and hold the colors of red, white, and blue, not to mention the 5 Super Bowls and 15 playoff appearances in a 17 year dominant run in the NFL that is continuing on to year 18. The Patriots also have had a future Hall of Famer and possibly the best NFL player of all time, Tom Brady leading the charge for 18 years, along with arguably the best NFL coach of all time Bill Belichick. Should the Dallas Cowboys still be called America’s Team due to their history? Or have the New England Patriots earned themselves the title of being America’s Team?

RIC Women’s Tennis repeats as Little East Champions

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

For the second year in a row Rhode Island College Women’s Tennis has won the Little East conference championship. They have done this without losing a single match in two years, going undefeated in both 2018 and 2017.

Photo courtesy of Goanchormen.com

The Anchorwomen came into Saturday’s championship match against the two seed Plymouth State University Panthers armed with home court advantage and fresh off a playoff victory against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. RIC got things off to a fast start taking two of the three doubles competitions and from there, things moved into singles matches. RIC made quick work of their opponents during this stage of play and it was not long before freshman Clara Siegmund clinched an Anchorwomen championship with a victory out of the No. 5 spot. When asked about how it felt to lock up the title for her team Siegmund explained, “Well, I had a little feeling it might come down to me having to be the one to decide to match and once I won the last game to make it 5-4 I went ‘alright, time to buckle down.’” Her teammates were exuberant following her win and she was quickly swarmed by a mob of fellow Anchorwomen.

For her dominant straight set singles shutout RIC sophomore Hailey Raskob was anointed the 2018 Little East Women’s Tennis Championship’s Most Outstanding Player. Fellow Sophomore Laurel Ten Eyck also earned the Anchorwomen a singles victory.

Another byproduct of this victory came in the form of head women’s tennis coach Adam Spring becoming the winningest coach in program history, recording his record 91st career victory. When asked to comment on the record Coach Spring stated “it’s not something I ever thought about until they announced it but I’m thankful to have coached alongside other great coaches here at Rhode Island College.” When asked if he could envision himself coaching at RIC for a long time he simply replied “I’d love that.”

Because of this victory, RIC has earned the right to compete in the 2018 NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship, where they will face off against the 48 best teams from across the nation. When asked about how his team will prepare the tournament this May, Coach Spring explained “We’re really excited about that but right now we just want to savor this.”

RIC Women’s Tennis clinches 4th straight regular season title

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

With an 8-1 Saturday afternoon win over the University of Southern Maine Huskies the Rhode Island College Women’s Tennis team will finish the regular season with a conference best record and the number one seed in this years playoffs. This is the fourth straight regular season title for the Anchorwomen and they will be looking to repeat as conference champions for the second year in a row, after winning the Little East in 2017.

Having the number one seed spells a few benefits for the Anchorwomen. First they will not have to participate in the first round of the playoffs this Tuesday afternoon when the third through sixth seed battle for the right to move on. Secondly RIC will host the entirety of the playoffs including the semi-final and championship rounds this Friday and Saturday afternoon respectively. When asked about the importance of having homefield in the playoffs head tennis coach Adam Spring stated that he is “excited to be playing at home through playoffs.”

Grace Zangari; Photo courtesy of Britt Donahue

According to figures around the team winning the championship this year will not be nearly as easy as in 2017. When asked about the level of competition in the conference this year number one singles player Grace Zangari told The Anchor “The Little East is definitely harder than last year, these teams come back better and stronger which is kind of a shock, but it gets you to play harder than you normally would.” When asked for more detail on the strength of the conference Coach Spring explained that “there are four teams that can win it all. Besides us, those are Plymouth State, Salem State and Umass Dartmouth.”

RIC students can watch their tennis team compete for a championship right here on campus, Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. If the Anchorwomen are able to move on to the championship match that will be held Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

RIC athlete spotlight: Grace Zangari

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

Grace Zangari; Photo courtesy of Britt Donahue

Grace Zangari has known nothing but winning in her time as a member of Rhode Island College Women’s Tennis. Since joining the program as a freshmen last season, RIC has yet to lose a single regular or post season match. Last year the Anchorwomen rode a 15-0 regular season all the way to a Little East conference championship and became only the second team in Little East history to win a match in the NCAA Division III women’s tennis tournament. Also as of the writing of this article the Women’s Tennis team has completed their second undefeated regular season in a row and are poised to enter the postseason as the number one seed in the conference.

Zangari has been far from a bystander to all of this success, she seized the number two singles spot shortly after joining the team. She compiled a 15-1 singles record on the year and earned First Team All-Little East honors on top of four separate conference rookie of the week awards. Alongside this Zangari also helped set a program record for single season doubles wins with 17.

When asked how she responded to being entrusted with such as key role right at the start of her collegiate career Zangari told The Anchor “I got a lot of what I do from the upperclassmen, I took everything they did and tried to do it.” Zangari now considers herself a leader on the team explaining that “I definitely bring a very fun and uplifting attitude and that helps the other people on the team play well and have fun.”

Zangari believes much of her collegiate success is owed to head tennis coach Adam Spring. She spoke glowingly of her coach gushing that he is a “very good coach, tells you exactly what to do, how to win, how to not get down and how to keep going and play as hard as you can” and that he is “energetic and believes in us, he tells us all the time how good we are and never says anything bad.” Inversely when asked about Zangari’s importance to the team Coach Spring lauded his player explaining that “Grace was our MVP last year, she has continued to develop her game and she’s a big part of keeping our team at the top.”

Zangari and The Anchorwomen will compete for their second straight championship this weekend when RIC hosts the Little East women’s tennis playoffs.