MBB : Christmas finding comfort zone as Syracuse’s anchor in paint

first_imgBOSTON – The maturation process for Rakeem Christmas began in late January. Thrust into the spotlight as Fab Melo was declared ineligible the day of Syracuse’s game at Notre Dame, the freshman immediately had more responsibility.That afternoon, he was dominated by Jack Cooley, who led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Fighting Irish handed the Orange its first loss of the season. Christmas started at center, but played an uninspiring 13 minutes, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds.‘I think the thing that you have to have freshmen do, which we’ve been working on, is figure out how you can be successful for this team to win,’ Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins said on Wednesday.Christmas flourished two days after the Notre Dame loss, on Jan. 23, when he had another chance to be the man in the middle of the 2-3 zone. His four-point, nine-rebound, three-block performance in a win over Cincinnati prevented SU from dropping two in a row after a 20-0 start.Fast forward to March 14. Melo’s ineligible again. This time, Christmas has been up for the challenge from the get-go, averaging seven points, nine rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in the NCAA Tournament. The freshman has started 33 of 35 games this season for No. 1 Syracuse (33-2), but played just a couple of token minutes at the start of most Big East games before taking a seat on the bench. Against Kansas State in the third round Saturday, Christmas put up huge numbers for a freshman on such a big stage. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHis eight points, 11 rebounds – four offensive – and three blocks displayed a confidence that had not always been visible. An encore performance would be huge for Syracuse in its matchup with No. 4 Wisconsin (26-9) in the Sweet 16 on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at the TD Garden. The Badgers have gotten double-digit offensive rebounds in four straight games.Christmas’ ability to rebound at the center position helped Syracuse remedy some of its rebounding deficiencies in the win over the Wildcats. Those 11 rebounds are more than Melo, who Christmas is replacing, grabbed in any game this season.‘He’s got a natural knack to be a great rebounder,’ Hopkins said. ‘I think the thing where we’re better is he’s a better defensive rebounder than we’ve had. Ricky Jackson was pretty darn good, but he’s as good a center (as) a rebounder as we’ve had.’In the Syracuse 2-3 zone, Hopkins said the center is usually out of position to rebound when a shot comes off the rim. That makes Christmas’ performance even more astonishing from last weekend.Hopkins works the Orange big men. Getting Christmas ready to play important minutes at the center position – after playing most of the season at power forward – was a difficult task.But Christmas’ offensive game has improved with the increased playing time as well. He is running up and setting screens for the Orange guards. He’s finding himself in pockets inside where he’s at a good angle to receive a pass.Against Kansas State, he scored three buckets in the second half off assists from guards. Showing what he can do has given his teammates more confidence in passing him the ball.Having Christmas in the middle allows for him to be on the court with C.J. Fair, Syracuse’s second-leading rebounder behind Melo. Not only does that frontcourt rebound well, but Scoop Jardine said the Orange becomes one of the most athletic teams in the country with both Fair and Christmas running the floor.‘We’re a faster team, and we’re able to do more on both ends with both of those guys on the court,’ he said.Wisconsin features three players who average more than five rebounds per game. The Badgers are 17-2 when they outrebound their opponent, compared to 9-7 when they don’t, so SU’s success on both the offensive and defensive glass is critical.With high praise comes heightened expectations for Christmas. The freshman said he’s been getting support from his teammates to continue the string of strong performances.‘Basically, they told me to keep doing the same thing,’ Christmas said. ‘Scoop, Kris (Joseph), telling me to keep getting rebounds, get putbacks and set screens for them. Help the team win.’mcooperj@syr.edu Published on March 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjr Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Manchester City v Manchester United: Combined XI based on form and fitness

first_img 11 6. Right midfield: Michael Carrick (Manchester United) 11 11 11 11 11 It’s the Manchester derby this weekend. City host fierce rivals United in the Premier League on Sunday 20 March, kick off 4pm GMT.With the Citizens struggling to keep pace with the race for the title and the Red Devils falling behind in their pursuit of the top four, bragging rights aren’t all that’s at stake at the Etihad.And to increase the excitement ahead of the hotly-anticipated clash, talkSPORT has taken a look at the form and fitness of each respective senior squad – assembling a combined XI.Find who’s made the cut by viewing the slideshow above… 1. Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United) – click the arrow above to see who else features 11 5. Left back: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City) 11 3. Centre back: Chris Smalling (Manchester United) 11 7. Centre midfield: Fernandinho (Manchester City) 8. Left midfield: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) 4. Centre back: Daley Blind (Manchester United) 9. Attacking midfield: David Silva (Manchester City) 2. Right back: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City) 11 10. Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 11 11. Striker: Anthony Martial (Manchester City)last_img read more

World Expeditions acquires 51 of Adventure South

first_imgWorld Expeditions has acquired 51% of New Zealand travel company Adventure South. This new partnership will strengthen the relationship between the two companies, which have worked together for more than 10 years. World Expeditions CEO Sue Badyari said, “We believe that Australians have a thirst for adventure product in New Zealand as its short haul, inexpensive to get there and offers a completely different travel experience to Australia. “Consistent feedback from our travellers indicates that they are looking for innovation and new opportunities to explore NZ and that is the niche that the Adventure South holidays fill. “There really is nothing like this range of products anywhere in the market. “The trips offer fantastic value from a five day Otago Rail Trail cycle trip priced at $995 to our ‘never-offered-before’ 7 day Two Thumbs High Country trek priced at $1890 all inclusive.”Adventure South has a range of fantastic itineraries that are closely aligned to the World Expeditions philosophies of sustainable and responsible travel and we are now keen to put an engine on the brand here in Australia to see more travellers crossing the Tasman to experience our innovative walking, cycling, climbing and kayaking itineraries.  Adventure South will make its debut in Australia this week with a 28 page brochure featuring 26 trips in addition to a national advertising campaign. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more