SI NCAA Tournament Preview Features Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams on Four Regional CoversPosted: March 19, 2013
Sports Illustrated predicts that Louisville will cut down the nets as the NCAA basketball champion in the March 25, 2013 issue of SI, on newsstands Wednesday. In her bracket in this week’s SI NCAA Tournament Preview, senior writer Kelli Anderson says that Miami, Gonzaga and Georgetown will join the Cardinals in the Final Four, with Louisville defeating Miami for the title.
Anderson writes: “It’s true: Defense wins championships. The Cards’ path hasn’t been easy, but guard Peyton Siva & Co. make it look like so much fun.” (PAGE 36)
As part of the SI NCAA tournament preview, senior writer Tim Layden profiles Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, who is featured on one of four regional SI covers this week. Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams are featured on the three additional regional covers. This marks the 16th time Indiana and Kansas have been featured on an SI cover, the seventh time for Syracuse and fifth for Gonzaga.
In his profile, Layden describes how Oladipo’s journey from overlooked recruit to one of the best players in the country could be due in part to his odd relationship with his father Chris. Layden writes:
“The effect of this father-son relationship is impossible to fully know. He is very close to his mother and three sisters, all of whom text him constantly. He has improved dramatically as a player, and some suggest that this is partly because of his odd relationship with his father.” (PAGE 46)
Chris Oladipo, who is from the African nation of Sierra Leone and met his wife Joan in Nigeria before moving to the United States, tells Layden in an exclusive interview that he has in fact seen his son play a few games and that his style of parenting simply differs from most Americans. He says, “I believe what the father should be is an anchor, to keep the ship from running away. He should be a stabilizing influence in the child’s life.” (PAGE 44)
Victor denies that his father has ever seen him play, but says he loves him and understands that he instilled a tough love culture in the Oladipo household. His mother Joan, who did attend most of Victor’s games, tells Layden: “I know Victor really missed that his father wasn’t at the games.” (PAGE 44)
“Here’s a guy who was just barely on [the NBA’s] radar at the start of the year, probably not even in the top 100 in the country. Now he’s probably going to go in the lottery. It’s very unusual to make a climb like that in one year.” (PAGE 40)
While future Olympians are carving down hills, gliding on ice and soaring through the cold winter air in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, who tore her ACL and MCL and fractured her femur and tibia while competing in a Super G race in Austria on February 5, is nestled away in Vail, Colorado with the heavy goal of walking before skiing. Senior writer Tim Layden took a trip to the snowy Vail valley to check in on Vonn as she looks forward to rehab after successful surgery. Just a few seconds changed Vonn’s entire season outlook from world cup domination to rehabilitation.
“When I was in the air, I looked to where I was going to land and I could see that snow was broken up and soft, almost like it was wet. I thought, Oh, s,” said Vonn when recounting her fall. “Then when I landed my right ski literally stopped.” (PAGE 44)
The sheer velocity of Vonn’s body and the stalling of her ski sent her falling down the mountain. Race video shows the tumbling Vonn’s knee bend inwardly.
“Lindsey’s right ski stopped, but her body was still going forward and turning left,” said Bill Sterett, Vonn’s surgeon since she was 14. “So the MCL went first, which allowed the knee to begin dislocating, and then she tore the ACL, which allowed the knee to completely dislocate.” As the knee rebounded, Vonn’s femur slammed against her tibia, creating nondisplaced fractures on the surface of both bones.” (PAGE 44).
Vonn returned to the U.S for surgery on the ravaged leg and to begin an accelerated rehab program that would allow her to be back in action as early as September. Layden finds that Vonn, 28, has maintained her dominance over the women’s alpine skiing world despite adversity on the slopes and off. She suffered a concussion in 2011 and missed chunks of 2013 with a still undiagnosed intestinal illness.
Her private life has proved to be challenging as well—in 2011 Vonn ended her four-year marriage to Thomas Vonn, who coordinated much of her career; she was estranged and later reconciled with her father; she admitted to suffering from depression; and her alleged new formed relationship with Tiger Woods is all over the tabloids.
With competition biting at her heals(Tina Maze of Slovenia has since taken the alpine skiing world by storm this season scoring a 2,254 points and winning an overall title) Vonn won’t allow the idea of not competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics to even surface.
“I would not accept that. There is plenty of time between now and the Olympics,” said Vonn. “Plenty of time.” (PAGE 45)
Also appearing on a regional cover of this week’s SI is University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a 6’6”, 273-pound All-America standout who many consider to be the first-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. This is just the second time a South Carolina player has even been featured on an SI cover.
In “The Hit”, senior writer Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) takes a deeper look at Clowney’s bone crushing tackle of Michigan tailback Vincent Smith at this year’s Outback Bowl that shook the football world and made his name even more of a household name.
Down 22-21 to the Wolverines in the 4th quarter on New Year’s Day, Gamecocks senior linebacker Damario Jeffery turned to Clowney after a tough call gave their opponent a controversial first down and said: “Just make a play.” Clowney responded: “I’m with you.” (PAGE 36)
On the next play, Clowney exploded untouched into the backfield, launching Smith’s helmet into the air and the ball onto the ground (Clowney recovered the football and South Carolina went on to score on the next play and eventually won the game). The hit played on a constant loop on TV and clips online have topped well over four million aggregate views. Layden writes: “The hit was a last breath of football sanity for Clowney.” (PAGE 40)
The assumption is Clowney will leave for the NFL after one more season and has some in the media speculating he may consider sitting out his junior year to avoid injury. Clowney told Layden he plans to play next season and work hard to improve. Jon Gruden says:
“He runs gassers with the defensive backs. That’s the kind of speed he has He’s the perfect player against today’s offenses. You want to run that read option? Clowney will tackle the back, and if he doesn’t have the ball, he’ll go get the quarterback. He’s the number 1 pick whenever he comes out.” (PAGE 40)
How do I get a franchise quarterback? This is the nonstop question every NFL team must ask if they don’t believe their signal caller can win it all. In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, senior writer Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) examines the most prized currency in the league and explores… “When do you cut loose a quarterback and start over?” (PAGE 47)
Bill Polian, former Vice Chairman and General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts says,
“You never forget what it feels like to not have a quarterback…It’s an ongoing thing. Every single minute you don’t have that guy, you think about it” (PAGE 46)
The pressure intensified for General Manager’s in 2013 because of the immediate success of rookie QB’s Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and second –year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl this season. Because of their instant success this season, front offices and fan bases hope the draft can now help them find the next great quarterback who can succeed right away.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED writer Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) complements the article by listing five current quarterbacks in which he feel’s won enough to tease and lost enough to have their G.M.’s consider change: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills), Tony Romo (Cowboys), Matt Cassel (Chiefs), Josh Freeman (Buccaneers), and Mark Sanchez (Jets).
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, the offensive MVP of Monday’s BCS title game, tramples over two Notre Dame defenders on the cover of the Jan. 14, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. This is the 23rd time that Crimson Tide football has appeared on the cover, which includes 12 covers in the past four seasons. You can purchase this week’s cover here.
Alabama’s 42-14 dominating victory over Notre Dame earned the Crimson Tide their third BCS Title in four years, firmly securing Alabama’s place in history. Fans and players alike, including Alabama senior center Barrett Jones couldn’t help but speak of a dynasty. Jones spoke to senior writer Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) on the field after the game. He said: “There’s a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover hanging in my room because I’m on it—from 2010. It says, DYNASTY. CAN ANYONE STOP ALABAMA? I’ll never forget looking at that thing and wondering if we really could be a dynasty. Three out of four. I’m no dynasty expert, but that seems like a dynasty to me.”
Even more impressive is the run by Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has now coached teams to national championships in four of the past 10 seasons. Only Paul “Bear” Bryant’s six titles at Alabama compare, yet Saban told Layden: “There is no continuum of success. History can’t help us win.”