“For the Love of the Game” runs Wednesdays. If you would like to comment on this story, email Dave at [email protected] or comment below. Death tends to put things in perspective, even when we don’t ask for it.It teaches us that the big things aren’t so big and in times of need, it’s important to appreciate the small things that typically get overlooked.Our campus community was dealt a cruel and unfair blow last Wednesday morning, when two of our own, Ying Wu and Ming Qu, were tragically murdered outside a home in the West Adams area.Distraction · In a time of turmoil and despair around the USC campus, the spring game provided a brief getaway for all the fans in attendance. – Corey Marquetti | Daily TrojanNow, I didn’t know my two fallen peers. We never shared a class, a smile or even a parting glance. But what we did share was something far greater.It was the bond of being a Trojan.And as Trojans, we usually turn to football to find some much-needed soup for the soul.After almost a week of collective mourning, the USC community did what it does best in the face of unwarranted circumstances: It began to pick up the pieces.Though the annual scrimmage typically serves as an open exhibition for one and all to get a taste of what next year’s squad will look like, this year the stakes were much higher.This year the game was worth much more. It was a rallying point for all who passed through the turnstiles.Sure, Lane Kiffin’s coaching staff used the time wisely to evaluate what certainly looks like a top-five-caliber program entering next fall’s season, but to be perfectly honest, this inter-squad contest wasn’t about X’s and O’s, starters and backups, and winners or losers.The scoreboard may have read as if the white team was victorious, but every member in attendance, from the players to the coaching staff to the stadium attendants, felt a sigh of relief at the game’s conclusion. For a few hours, football provided members of this community a chance to let go, a chance to get lost in something other than a DPS report or newspaper headline.It was a candlelight vigil, a therapy session and a memorial service all in one, played out on a 100-yard field among the people who needed it most.On this campus, the wounds of this latest tragedy are still fresh. Whether you knew the victims on a personal level or whether you read about them for the first time last week, they are and will continue to be a part of you, because they were Trojans.Sports — in good times and in bad — reveal character. And Saturday was no exception.It didn’t really matter if senior quarterback Matt Barkley connected with sophomore receiver Marqise Lee in the end zone, or whether sophomore runningback D.J. Morgan or senior runningback Curtis McNeal rushed for more than 100 yards. For one day, sport was not intended to delight but rather to alleviate.The 2012 spring game should be remembered not for the stingy effort put out by the defensive unit, but by the strength in numbers put out by the Trojan community.It was a celebration, for past and present, of what it means to belong to this close-knit university family. It was a celebration of life’s unyielding potential and even in the face of harrowing events, a celebration of slowly moving on.No one can predict how long the grieving process will take, but if we learned anything from one another this weekend, it’s that as fans, as friends and as members of the Trojan Family, the process is not endured by one but by many.Losing someone, whether it’s a classmate, a colleague or a loved one, teaches us that there is more to life than the outcome of a game of football, whether it’s played on a brisk Saturday in April or a warm Monday night in January.But to all of us who have been touched by the power of sports, be it after Sept. 11, after a personal hardship or the hardship we all had to come to terms with this past week, death teaches us that the little things in life, like a spring football scrimmage, have a magical way of letting us know that it’s OK to continue fighting on.
Published on March 9, 2016 at 5:26 pm Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesse WASHINGTON — Frank Howard picked up his dribble and locked his eyes on Michael Gbinije. That was the start of his mistake.Then he threw the ball without ever seeing James Robinson dart into the passing lane. That was the brunt of it. Then Robinson dribbled down the court, sidestepped past Howard and converted a layup to give Pittsburgh a two-point lead it never gave up. That was the result.“I should have taken Frank Howard out of the game, but I just thought that he had been playing well,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I should have taken him out and put Trevor back in. It was my mistake.”Before that costly turnover — which came with the game tied and 1:08 left — Howard was at the center of Syracuse’s (19-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) comeback in a heartbreaking 72-71 loss to Pittsburgh (21-10, 9-9) in the second round of the ACC tournament at the Verizon Center on Wednesday. He tied a game-high with five assists and, just by being in the game, allowed Michael Gbinije to work off the ball and pace the Orange with 24 points. His length played a key part in SU’s full-court press, which kickstarted a game-tying 14-2 run in the final 4:18.But the late turnover, despite having a small effect on his final line, remains the most memorable play of his performance.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“As a point guard you have to see it,” Howard said. “If you don’t make that play at that time of the game, I feel like, it hurts.”Howard played 18 minutes while Trevor Cooney — who eventually missed a game-winning 3 attempt in the final seconds — played a season-low a season-low 24. Boeheim said Cooney wasn’t hurt, and Cooney said he wasn’t given an explanation for the decreased time and sitting for most of the second half. Whatever the reason, it put Howard at the head of the Orange’s offense in crunch time of his first-ever postseason game.He handled it precociously, loosening Pittsburgh’s air-tight man-to-man defense with consistent penetration. That freed up Gbinije and Malachi Richardson on the wings, and Richardson particularly used that space to attack closing-out defenders off the dribble. He also created opportunities for Dajuan Coleman, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebonds, off passes and on the offensive glass.“Coach always tells me he wants me to play downhill, go to the basket,” Howard said. “That’s what I really try to do, just try to make sure I get past someone and make a play or finish at the rim. That’s basically it.”And when Syracuse needed him to facilitate to the best of his ability, Howard was sure Gbinije was in clear space. A split second before, Gbinije had run around an off-ball screen and Howard said he expected Robinson to “play Gbinije’s hip,” which would have allowed him to comfortably fit a pass in.Instead, Robinson surprised Howard by leaving Gbinije and stepping into the passing lane. A play drawn up for Gbinije quickly sped the other way. It was the first domino to fall in an eventual one-point loss, which could put Syracuse on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble come Selection Sunday.“He’s a young talent, and hopefully we’ll need him in the future,” said Gbinije, smirking uneasily at the Orange’s murky Tournament hopes. “So you just want to tell him next play. I know he’s good, I know he’s a confident guy. He’s probably ready to bounce back.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
— N.C. State’s Dave Doeren might be a touch underrated knowing the Wolfpack have a .641 winning percentage the last three seasons and have done an excellent job producing NFL talent.— Mad about your coach’s ranking? Don’t be. Eight coaches are ranked from No. 34-49, starting with Syracuse’s Dino Babers and ending with first-year Louisville coach Scott Satterfield. There’s not much separation between those coaches and they likely will shuffle in this range again in 2020.— Among returning coaches, Babers jumped 47 spots from last year’s overall rankings for the biggest gain. Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente had an 14-spot fall for the biggest drop. Mack Brown is back in the ACC with North Carolina. Is he really the No. 2 coach in the conference? Sporting News answered that question in its annual 1-130 coach rankings. Today, we’ll dig a little deeper into our ACC coach rankings. Brown is ranked No. 2 among ACC coaches behind Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who has won two national championships in the last three years. Swinney is the runaway at No. 1 in this year’s rankings. Brown, 67, is back after a five-year hiatus following his stint at Texas. We can defend this ranking, too.MORE: ACC 2019 early conference primerBrown is one of just five FBS coaches with a national championship. Brown made aggressive coordinator hires in getting offensive coordinator Phil Longo from Ole Miss and defensive coordinator Jay Bateman from Army. We have the feeling he’s out to prove the game hasn’t passed him by. That will translate to the Tar Heels competing for ACC Coastal Division championships sooner rather than later.Plus, the rest of the field is lumped together. With that in mind, here is a look at our ACC coach rankings: 2019 ACC Coach Rankings RankNameSchoolWLPCT.OVR1Dabo SwinneyClemson11630.79522Mack BrownNorth Carolina244122.667243David CutcliffeDuke111101.524274Dino BabersSyracuse3628.563345Dave DoerenNorth Carolina State6638.635356Justin FuenteVirginia Tech5138.573387Pat NarduzziPittsburgh2824.538428Dave ClawsonWake Forest6066.476459Bronco MendenhallVirginia11565.6394710Willie TaggartFlorida State5257.4774811Scott SatterfieldLouisville4716.7464912Steve AddazioBoston College3838.5006114Manny DiazMiami00.0006813Geoff CollinsGeorgia Tech1510.60069MORE: SN’s post-spring preseason top 25Quick reads — There is a strong argument to be made for Duke’s David Cutcliffe in the top 25 (or even higher) knowing he has led the Blue Devils to five winning seasons in the last six years.