Warriors

Stanford's Luck among four Heisman finalists

320109.jpg

Stanford's Luck among four Heisman finalists

Dec. 6, 2010STANFORD PAGEPOLLS PAGE

(AP) -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James, two of the nation's most dynamic players, will meet in the national championship game next month.First, a stop in New York.Newton and James were named finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday, and will be joined by Stanford's Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore of Boise State for Saturday's announcement in Times Square.Newton overcame a pay-to-play scandal with a superb season on the field, piling up nearly 4,000 combined yards and 49 touchdowns in leading the top-ranked Tigers into the Jan. 10 national championship game.James and the Ducks will be there waiting for them in the desert after he piled up more yards and touchdowns than anyone else in FBS, helping the second-ranked Ducks into their first national title game."Since I was a young boy, playing the game of football has been a pure joy and this season has been a very special one for my teammates and for me," Newton said in a statement. "I know as a team we're excited to get back on the field on January 10 against a great Oregon team."Newton is the front-runner, but the big question is whether voters will look past the scandal involving his father.Newton was unparalleled on the field.He threw for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns while running for 1,409 yards and 20 more scores - adding another on a reception - to join Florida quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the only FBS players to have 20 touchdowns rushing and passing in a season.In his final regular-season game, he threw four TD passes and scored two more on the ground in Auburn's 56-17 rout of 18th-ranked South Carolina that earned Auburn the SEC championship and a shot at its first national title since 1957.The knock against Newton is the shenanigans by his father, Cecil.The elder Newton was accused of working with the owner of a scouting service to get up to 180,000 for his son to play for at Mississippi State while the quarterback was being recruited out of junior college last year.The NCAA cleared Cam, saying neither he nor Auburn knew anything about it, but Heisman voters might be leery of another Reggie Bush-type situation. The 2005 Heisman winner from USC gave back his trophy earlier this year and his school was hit with heavy sanctions after a four-year NCAA investigation determined he was ineligible that season for receiving improper benefits.If Newton does win it, he'll join Bo Jackson (1985) and Pat Sullivan (1971) as Heisman Trophy winners at Auburn."I'm very honored and blessed to be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy with some other outstanding players," said Newton, who was playing at a Texas junior college just a year ago. "Like I've said, this is not an individual honor, but a team honor. I wouldn't be in this position without my great teammates, coaches and the Auburn family."If voters steer away from Newton, James could swoop in and become the first Oregon player to win college football's most prestigious individual award.James was the main cog in Oregon's nearly point-a-minute offense, forcing teams to key on him while the rest of his talented teammates ran all over the field. Oregon led the nation in scoring at nearly 50 points per game and was second in total yards, just a few tenths behind Oklahoma State at 537 yards per game.Even with the extra attention, James led the nation with 1,682 yards and 21 touchdowns, and his 152 yards per game was nearly 10 more than Connecticut's Jordan Todman in second. He closed out the regular season by gaining 134 yards in Oregon's 37-20 win over rival Oregon State on Saturday that clinched the school's first trip to the national title game.Luck was second fiddle to Washington's Heisman hopeful Jake Locker to open the season, but quickly established himself as the Pac-10's best quarterback.The 6-foot-4 junior won a lopsided battle over Locker and his Huskies early in the season and guided the fifth-ranked Cardinal to one of the best seasons in school history. A projected top NFL pick, Luck threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just seven interceptions while completing 70 percent of his passes for an 11-1 team that earned an Orange Bowl berth.
RELATED: Orange Bowl tab No. 5 Stanford, No. 12 VaTech
Moore wasn't much of a Heisman hopeful early in the season, but quickly played his way into the picture while leading the Broncos to the cusp of a BCS bowl berth.The junior was second in the nation in passer efficiency, throwing for over 3,500 yards with 33 TDs and five interceptions, but his chances took a hit with a loss to Nevada that knocked Boise State out of BCS contention.Alabama's Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, wasn't much of a factor in his bid to repeat.The bruising running back missed the first two games after offseason knee surgery and wasn't nearly as dynamic as a year ago, rushing for 816 yards, half his total from a year ago. His team also had its repeat national title hopes fizzle with an early-season loss to South Carolina and later losses to LSU and Newton's Tigers.

Curry claims he didn't throw mouthguard at ref: 'I've got a pretty good aim'

Curry claims he didn't throw mouthguard at ref: 'I've got a pretty good aim'

Just before the Warriors officially lost the game in Memphis on Saturday night, their superstar point guard lost his cool.

After not getting a foul call with 43 seconds left in the game, Steph Curry chucked his mouthguard in the direction of referee Scott Wall in a fit of rage reminiscent of Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Wall immediately ejected Curry, who continued to argue with the officials.

After the game, Curry wanted to make it clear he wasn't trying to his Wall with his mouthguard.

"If I tried to throw it at him and hit him, I've got a pretty good aim," Curry said told reporters after the game. "I've thrown my mouthpiece plenty of times and thrown it on the floor. Probably not the best thing to do, but I've done it. I own up to it.

"If I was trying to throw it at him or hit him, I would have been able to executed that."

Curry explained why he reacted the way he did.

"That last play, I thought I got fouled. My frustration boiled over, did something stupid, deserved to get kicked out and that's what happened. Obviously learn from it and try not to do it again," Curry told reporters.

Now Curry and the Warriors wait to see if the NBA will suspend or fine him. He has an expectation of what the punishment will be.

"Don't think it will be a suspension or anything. My pockets will be a lot lighter," Curry said after the game.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.