Sports Illustrated today announced that Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake and North Carolina field hockey player Loren Shealy are the 2012-13 SI College Athletes of the Year. The award celebrates one male and one female collegiate student athlete who have achieved athletic distinction and have had an outsized impact in the classroom or in their communities. Both student athletes are profiled on SI.com and in the May 27, 2013, issue of SI, on newsstands now.
Dake, an academic All-American at Cornell, became the first wrestler to have won an NCAA title in four different weight classes after his championship as a senior this past March. In his profile on Dake, senior writer Luke Winn says that Dake’s unprecedented success puts him in the conversation of the greatest college wrestler of all time, along with such standouts as Dan Gable at Iowa and Pat Smith at Oklahoma State. “What Kyle did is more remarkable than anybody who came before him,” says Cornell wrestling coach Rob Koll.
Dake, who grew up in Ithaca (where Cornell is located), kept a notebook throughout college where he recorded all of his dreams and goals, nearly all of which came true. “I feel like Kyle has a dream every night about wrestling,” says teammate Joe Stanzione, who shares a house with Dake and 32 other teammates. When Winn asks him about what happens in that dream, Stanzione says, “He wins. Period.” Winn writes that Dake will start a new notebook for the next chapter in his life, which will include competing for the next three world championships and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Shealy, a sophomore forward for the Tar Heels from Charlotte, ranked second on the team in goals (16) and third in points (34) as UNC reached the NCAA final four the fourth straight year. “Loren is a leader, she’s unselfish, she’s down-to-earth and she gets along with everybody,” says UNC field hockey coach Karen Shelton in senior writer Kelli Anderson’s profile on Shealy.
Even better are her credentials in the classroom—Shealy has a 4.0 GPA as a business administration student, won the Elite 89 award, given annually to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at each of the NCAA championship sites, and is the first UNC athlete to earn a Robertson scholarship. The Robertson, which gives a full-ride award annually to 18 UNC and 18 Duke students, requires that scholars live for a semester on the campus of their school’s biggest rival. “She is successful in everything, and her organizational skills put the rest of us to shame, but she is also one of the nicest people, with one of the best senses of humor, I’ve ever known,” says teammate Charlotte Craddock.
The SI College Athlete of the Year finalists, chosen by SI editors, included six seniors, two sophomores and two juniors who competed during the 2012-2013 academic year. The celebrated student athletes represented 10 different sports.
The four men’s finalists proved extraordinary over the past year on the field, the court and the rink:
- Trey Burke, basketball, University of Michigan
- Khaled Holmes, football, USC
- Drew LeBlanc, ice hockey, St. Cloud State University
- Tyler Thornton, basketball, Duke University
The four women’s finalists included a four-sport star and three four-year standouts:
- Liz Brenner, volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field, University of Oregon
- Kimberlyn Duncan, track and field, LSU
- Brittney Griner, basketball, Baylor University
- Taylor Thornton, lacrosse, Northwestern University
Profiles on all of the finalists, including videos and features on the winners can be found at si.com/collegeathlete. Volkswagen is the SI College Athlete of the Year sponsor on SI.com.
With the NBA and NHL playoffs in full steam, daily baseball games and much more in the world of sports, there’s a chance you couldn’t get to all of the great content on SI.com this week. Inside SI has you covered. Here’s a selection of some of the top Sports Illustrated stories and video productions from the past week.
SI announced 10 finalists for its inaugural College Athlete of the Year.
Richard Deitsch reviews Fox Sports 1’s new big hires and more in his weekly Media Circus column.
Jeff Pearlman reminisces about the USFL 30 years later
Ian Thompson says Steph Curry is the latest to establish himself as a star in the playoffs.
Lee Jenkins writes that Kevin Durant can only do so much for OKC.
Rob Mahoney lists five players who have disappointed in the playoffs so far. He also notes the biggest surprises of the playoffs so far.
Do the NBA Playoffs Underdogs stand a chance? Chris Mannix and Maggie Gray discuss the Warriors and Bulls (video).
Mannix discusses how the injuries of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Amar’e Stoudemire have affected their respective teams (video).
Sara Kwak says the Isles vs. Penguins has been the most thrilling series so far.
Allan Muir says the Senators showed their superiority over the shorthanded Habs.
While this week’s SI cover man Sidney Crosby worked his magic in the Penguins’ Game 5 Win, Eli Bernstein says the play of both goalies proved to be the difference.
Stu Hackel on how the NHL may change their policy on head shots.
Tom Verducci says expensive free agents are once again failing to meet expectations.
Jay Jaffe says Matt Harvey is fastest-starting Mets ace ever.
Cliff Cocoran provides this week’s Awards Watch.
SI.com’s Tom Verducci takes a look at the increasing strikeout rate around the MLB and asks if the Braves’ power can overcome their swing-and-miss ways (video).
The Tigers top Joe Lemire’s power rankings.
Peter King notes differing draft strategies, who will control the ’14 draft and more in this week’s MMQB.
Jim Trotter writes on how the California workers comp bill will have a lasting effect on NFL players.
Don Banks asks if betters days are coming for minority hires in the NFL?
Chris Burke on each team’s most pressing question as minicamp looms.
Micahael Bamberger writes that TV saved Tiger Woods from withdrawing from the Masters.
Gary Van Sickle says McIlroy, Stricker and Scott make TPC Sawgrass look easy
Andy Staples takes a stab at his post spring top 25.
Holly Anderson hands out her Sixth annual Switzies, which celebrate the ‘best’ of the 2013 offseason.
Stewart Mandel on how Ohio State aims to break the SEC’s title streak in 2013.
Rick Pitino talks Kentucky Derby, Final Four and 2013-14′s prospects in a Q&A with Pete Thamel.
Luke Winn gives out his second annual data-based hoops awards.
Bruce Jenkins writes that Madrid red clay is a welcome sight after 2012 left all feeling blue
In his weekly mailbag, Jon Wertheim wonders if Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens can find peace.
Grant Wahl provides updates on Alex Morgan, Frank Lampard and various MLS nuggets in his Planet Futbol Column.
Jonathan Wilsion says David Moyes is a safe choice for Manchester United, but comes with risk.
Sid Lowe writes that Jose Mourinho’s separation from Real Madrid getting messy.
Floyd Mayweather tops Chris Mannix’s Pound-For-Pound Top 15.
Floyd Mayweather talks about his title fight victory over Robert Guerrero, and looks ahead towards the rest of his multi-fight contract (video).
Jeff Wagenheim discusses Anderson Silva’s punishment, Johny Hendricks’ beard, and more in his MMA mailbag.
Lars Anderson on what we learned on a rainy, dark day at Talladega.
Carl Estes provides this week’s power rankings.
The Louisville Cardinals overcame a devastating injury to reserve guard Kevin Ware in the elite eight, survived a showdown with Wichita State in the national semifinals and rallied from a 12 point deficit to defeat the Michigan Wolverines 82-76 in a national championship game for the ages. The Cardinals’ Luke Hancock, the tournament’s Most Outstanding player, and point guard Peyton Siva appear on the cover of the April 15, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. This is the fifth time that Louisville basketball has appeared on the SI cover and second week in a row. The victory was their first NCAA basketball title since 1986 and third overall.
Senior writer Luke Winn writes that the key to Louisville’s success was a brotherhood that stood together throughout a tumultuous season. The family atmosphere was the vision of head coach Rick Pitino, who became the first coach to win NCAA titles at two schools on the same day he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. Winn Writes:
“Pitino’s theme for these Cardinals was humility. A lack of it, he told his players, was the one thing that could doom a team that was coming off a Final Four trip and was ranked No. 2 in most preseason pools.” (PAGE 36)
Humility stayed written on a whiteboard in Louisville’s film room all season and the togetherness of the Cardinals players allowed for Pitino’s theme to remain a constant. The unique brotherhood was displayed on and off the court, from Ware inspiring his teammates to just win and not worry about him to the group text-message thread created by Russ Smith that all 13 Louisville players used to communicate with each other throughout the season.
Winn writes: “And what kind of brotherhood would these Cardinals be if they failed to pick each other up?” (PAGE 40)
With leading scorer Smith struggling from the field, Hancock stepped up and scored 14 straight points to cut Michigan’s lead to one at the half. He finished with 22 points and no turnovers. Hancock also picked his teammates up in the battle against Wichita State, when he scored nine points in the final 6 ½ minutes. Says teammate Tim Henderson: “He’s not afraid to shine in that moment.” (PAGE 40)
Team leader Siva, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the title game’s second half, consistently picked up his teammates throughout the entire season. Winn finds that he was the positive counterbalance to Pitino’s fiery critiques. He says: “Siva serves as a leader-counselor, the one his teammates go to for help on everything from plays to classwork.” (PAGE 40)
While the Cardinals were certainly inspired by Ware and led by Siva, Winn concludes that the 2013 title team belonged to each and every one of Louisville’s brothers.
The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team (23-3, 14-2 ACC and No. 5 in the AP poll before Saturday’s three-point loss at Duke), had never beaten a No.1 program, never been in contention for a top tournament seed and never won an ACC championship before this season. Why does all this success feel so familiar? In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writer Luke Winn examines how second year Miami Head coach Jim Larranaga prepares his team through visualization techniques that make all of this success for the Hurricanes seem like it has happened for them before—because it has in all of his players’ minds
“I want you to sit on your bed, close your eyes and visualize yourself in tomorrow’s game…You’re running through the plays, you’re guarding the man you’re going to guard, you’re getting back and getting stops…in your mind you are making big plays,” says Larranaga (PAGE 36).
The 63-year-old head coach tells this to his players the night before each game. The psychologist in him believes that this is an essential part of preparation. Durand Scott, the 6’5” senior combo guard who has the most career starts in Hurricane history has visualized the experience of winning big games, of students’ storming the court at BankUnited Center and his surfing atop the crowd.
“I’ve dreamed of going to a lesser known school in a major conference and beating the top dogs,” says, sophomore point guard Shane Larkin-The ACC Player of the Year favorite. (PAGE 39)
Larranaga, who coached at George Mason for 14 years and took them to the 2006 Final Four, is not solely a psychological coach. The former econ major is equally obsessed with analytics. Last April in a team meeting he wrote the numbers 9, 4, 2 and 1 on a whiteboard—they were the adjusted defensive efficiency rankings of the 2012 Final Four teams. His message to the team:
“You need to be in the top 10 to have a shot at a national championship next year.” (PAGE 38)
This season, the Hurricanes were 10th at week’s end and have certainly fooled themselves into becoming college basketball’s most surprising team.
Not since Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas teams of the 1990s has a team unleashed 40 minutes of chaos quite like that of Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team. In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writer Luke Winn explores the full court press defense that VCU’s head coach Shaka Smart has branded as “Havoc”.
Smart’s love for a high pressure defense was born in high school when his own coach, Kevin Bravery, adopted a Rick Pitino press right out of a video. As Smart grew as a player and coach and learned from coaches such as Akron’s Keith Dambrot, Florida’s Billy Donovan and Clemson’s Oliver Purnell, he began to pick apart and rework different press models until he was left with his current program. Havoc has caused many a headache and frustration this season, as VCU went on a 13 game win streak from Nov. 28 to Jan. 19 and currently stand at 16-5. The Rams steal the ball on 17.7% of their possessions and force turnovers 29.3% of the time, both good for No. 1 nationally. Daniel Roose, VCU’s strength and conditioning coach, explains how speed and strength contribute to the team’s defensive domination.
“I’m not worried about creating strength,” Roose says. “What would that do for us? We’re not walking it up in the Big Ten against Wisconsin. All I care about is creating ridiculous amounts of energy.” (PAGE 45)
Wreaking havoc in the NCAA has been a progressive process since Smart’s hire in 2009, but Smart said it is finally turning into the predator and prey model he has been hoping for. The team reached the final four as a No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2011 and even then the full court press was not at its height. “That,” smart says, “was only half havoc.” (PAGE 45)