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Success is no accident for polo

first_imgEric He is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Wednesdays. The women’s water polo team won its fifth national championship in program history on Sunday, adding to the impressive — yet largely unnoticed — dynasty that is water polo at USC.When you think of dynasties in Trojan athletics, you immediately think of football — the Pete Carroll era, the success under John McKay and John Robinson — or maybe baseball and Rod Dedeaux’s 11 national championships in a 45-year tenure.But flying under the radar is water polo — a sport that barely registers on the casual USC fan’s radar — and Jovan Vavic, the head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams, who has amassed more national championships than any coach in USC history, but could walk straight down Trousdale and go unrecognized.His resume features 14 national championships (five women’s, nine men’s) and 22 Coach of the Year awards (12 National Coach of the Year honors and 10 MPSF Coach of the Year awards). His winning percentage is above .700 with both the men and the women’s teams. On the men’s side, he has appeared in 11 consecutive national championships, and from 2008 to 2013, his team won it all. Every year. Six years in a row.Vavic is essentially the John Wooden of water polo, and it’s no secret why. He demands the best from his players and never expects anything less. Observe him during a game and he is intimidating, to say the least, with his booming voice barking orders at his players and yelling at the referees.And he never stops coaching. In a game in late March, as the women’s water polo team was ahead by five goals against Cal in the season finale and a minute away from clinching a perfect 21-0 regular season, Vavic barked at his team to press or pressure the opponent. They didn’t, and he called a timeout to light up his players.“Why didn’t you press?” he yelled loud enough for everyone present at Uytengsu Aquatics Center to hear.Mind you, this was in the final minute of the final regular season game that was well out of reach for the opponent. It was the equivalent of a basketball coach telling his or her team to stage a full court press with a 20-point lead in the final 30 seconds. But that’s just the way Vavic is.“He just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing,” junior attacker Stephania Haralabidis said after the 11-6 win over Cal. “He’s a perfectionist. That’s good. If we have a 5-goal lead, we start relaxing.”And relaxation is not an option for Vavic, at least in the pool. Take a look at this excerpt from a feature on Vavic in Los Angeles Magazine:“This is, after all, the man who lines up players along the outdoor pool deck and laces into them as they stand shivering. Who kicked a container filled with medicine balls so hard, he broke a toe. Who angrily drew a circle on a whiteboard, explaining that it was the empty dessert plate of a player he then blasted for being too slow.”Vavic has a strong “tough love” approach that is demanding but has earned the respect of his players.“Him screaming at us makes us go like this,” Haralabidis said, throwing her hands in the air. “It helps a lot.”Two months later, Haralabidis would find out how much it helped. She scored the game-winning goal to win the national championship for USC, delivering a left-handed strike from the right side into the back of the net with six seconds remaining to give the Trojans an 8-7 win over Stanford and capping off a 26-0 season for the Women of Troy.Vavic is, in many ways, the perfect water polo coach. Water polo is not a sport for the weary, a fact that I was quickly introduced to when covering the men’s beat last season. The water might make it appear like a graceful, agile sport, but make no mistake: it is physical, fast-paced and demanding. Treading water for 32 minutes is hard enough without worrying about the holding, strangling and shoving — and that’s just what happens above the surface. I’ve heard of players purposely growing their toenails out, and let’s just say it’s not because they have regular pedicure appointments.A tough sport calls for a tough leader, and for more than two decades Vavic has continuously found the right formula to lead his teams to the top, year upon year. The championship win on Sunday — Vavic’s ninth in nine seasons — further cements his legacy as an all-time legendary coach in USC history.Amidst the coaching carousel that has embroiled the football team in recent seasons, it is refreshing to see that at least one program at USC has a coach with all the job security in the world, coaching two teams and delivering winners on a regular basis. Maybe it’s time for Trojan fans to start paying attention to him and his sport.last_img read more

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Heisler: Now for the season before the season the Lakers yearn for

first_img(LeBron has been in the last eight Finals – reaching all from the East, the lesser conference even when his Miami teams were the NBA’s best. Had LeBron’s Heat and Cavaliers been in the West, he would have done well to make half those Finals.)Besides LeBron, Magic Johnson signed four veterans with checkered pasts who might be in the rotation – Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson. The team hopes they will assume key roles, not the least of which is vanishing from its salary cap next spring.(Actually, Rondo, one of those viewed most skeptically, might be the most helpful, especially if Lonzo Ball struggles or gets hurt. Once a non-factor past 15 feet, Rondo has become a 35 percent 3-point shooter. He has become a leader as he has aged and chilled from his early years as a pain in the rear end whom older teammates put up with because he was so good.)There’s still too great a burden placed on the Lakers’ young, promising but still untested-at-this-level players.We know Kyle Kuzma could be very good and Brandon Ingram could be special. Josh Hart looks useful, at least. Lonzo Ball showed he was, indeed, a special playmaker, even while leaving other questions – shooting? – unanswered in a rocky rookie season.The young players will be the ones filling the major roles around James. Of the four, only one has ever been on an NBA team that was ever above .500 (Ingram, a rookie on the 2016-17 team that rocketed to a 7-5 start before finishing 26-56).Not enough shooters. You could hear this on any local talk show, or, indeed, at any local grade school but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.This isn’t just a critique you could hear on any talk show.Nevertheless, it’s not just some modern internet vogue, like so much of the hue and cry about unproven “analytics” in basketball.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Three-point shooting is the key to spacing the floor, which is the key to modern offense … the kind the Lakers, who were cutting edge in the Showtime 1980s but not nice, would like to develop in this new age, which is why they hired Luke Walton off the Warriors’ bench.Kuzma was a stunner, not least because he made 36.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. That was head-turning for a rookie but not for one of a contending team’s top shooting threats.Last season’s Warriors were No. 1 in 3-point accuracy at 39.1 percent, 1.4 percent ahead of No. 2 Boston (37.7). The Rockets were No. 1 in 3-pointers made at 15.3 per game, 2.6 ahead of No. 2 Brooklyn (12.7).The Lakers were No. 20 at 10 per game and No. 29 in accuracy at 34.5 percent.It’s asking a lot of young players to slash that gap but Magic Johnson, who had concluded LeBron’s Cavaliers had too many specialists such as Kyle Korver, didn’t bring in a single outside shooter, aside from drafting Ukrainian Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas) in the second round.This might have been all about knowing they’re waiting ’til next season.Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Now for the season Lakerdom has waited all decade for …Oh, wait, that’s next season, after the Lakers bag that second star player they’ve saved salary cap space for, such as Kawhi Leonard or (they can dream) Kevin Durant.This season should be titled “In the meantime.” For the Lakers, who measure success in titles, this is still about rebuilding to contend on that level, as opposed to being there.The Western Conference powers far outgun them – that’s the Rockets as well as the Warriors and perhaps two or three or more teams. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed center_img I’m guessing that if Magic thought there was a title on the line this season, he would have brought in some shooters … the way he had Byron Scott and Michael Cooper, who meant so much in Showtime, even before offense became all about spacing and shooting.In other words, wait ’til next year. In that meantime, good luck, Luke!None of this means this season will be anything like the lean ones.It’s actually disappointment-proof with Lakers fans, once the most spoiled of fat cats, enchanted at the thought of making the playoffs, which once would have elicited yawns here.Better yet, with James as a magnet, there’s every reason to believe they can land that second star next summer, leading to even better times in the 2019-20 season.In the meantime, LeBron, at 33, has to continue aging arch-gracefully. The young players have to keep coming. As a team they have to be as good, or better, on the court as they are on paper.What’s the problem? After all the down years, this looks like up in Lakerdom. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe Las Vegas over/under has the Lakers at 48.5 wins, a fair projection that ties them with Utah for No. 4 in the West, 14 behind the Warriors, six behind Houston, two behind OKC.The Nuggets are one back. The Timberwolves are two back, only because of the furor around Jimmy Butler’s trade demand.These are unusually modest expectations on the Lakers, a glamour franchise that now has LeBron James, after finishing 23-18 last season, a pace that projects to a 46-win season pre-LeBron.Nevertheless, I’m going with the “under” on this season: Not enough cohesion, which even lesser Western challengers such as Denver, Portland and New Orleans have after years together.There are too many new moving parts in a conference in which the powers have so few. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions last_img read more

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Doherty and Mac Lochlainn to contest General Election for Sinn Féin

first_imgSinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty and Senator Pádraig MacLochlainn have this evening been officially named as the party’s candidates to contest the next general election for the constituency of Donegal.The pair were officially endorsed tonight at the party’s Selection Convention which took place before a packed room of Sinn Féin members and supporters at Letterkenny’s Mount Errigal Hotel.The event also featured an address from guest speaker and Sinn Féin Leader in the north, Michelle O’Neill. Speaking after this weekend’s convention, Deputy Doherty said “I am truly honoured and humbled to once again have the chance, along with my colleague Senator MacLochlainn, to have my name added to the party’s ticket for the forthcoming General Election.“It was tremendous to see so many good Republicans from throughout the county come together this evening to take part in this Selection Convention.“I have been fortunate enough to not only enjoy the support of my party over the years, but also I’ve been lucky enough to have had the support and good wishes of the people of Donegal, whom I have been honoured to serve as their T.D. since having first been elected to Dáil Éireann back in 2010.“Clearly the next election, whenever is it called, will represent an opportunity for the people of this county to put a progressive Government into office, ending the effective monopoly on power held by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael since the foundation of the state. “Together, both parties have let down ordinary citizens while they have and continue to priorities tax cuts for the well-off at the expense of public services.“We only have to look at the on-going crisis in health and housing to see the impact which the policies of Fine Gael and their partners in Government Fianna Fáil have caused.“We see in Letterkenny Hospital, some €62M has been cut from the hospital’s budget between 2010 and 2016, while the number of patients languishing on trolleys continues to climb.“And Donegal is not immune from the homelessness crisis either, with 205 adults over the past year having been forced to access local authority emergency homeless accommodation since January– up by almost 11 per cent compared to the same period last year.“It doesn’t have to be like this, and Sinn Féin has shown every year in our Alternative Budget document how a fairer society can be achieved through the proper investment, and by putting the needs of ordinary citizens first; something which is needed now more than ever considering the huge implications which Brexit will have for our island as a whole. “I want to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone who came along to be with us here tonight in Letterkenny for what was truly a great night for our party.“It is now Pádraig’s and my ambition to fight to win these two seats here in the constituency and to once again have two Sinn Féin T.Ds proudly and passionately represent the people of Donegal.”Senator Pádraig MacLochlainn also added “I am immensely honoured and proud to be selected by our party members across Donegal, once again, to be a Sinn Féin candidate in a general election .“Our Sinn Féin team in the county has worked tirelessly to give the people of Donegal a real alternative over the years. Today we have nine county councillors from the North of the county to the South and from the East to the West representing our local communities. We have two Oireachtas members, A TD and a Senator representing Donegal. “At last years general election, over 20,000 Donegal people gave Sinn Féin their first preference vote. We are privileged to have that huge level of support and our team never takes it for granted.“We were only 184 votes away from winning two seats out of five in this Donegal constituency and we are absolutely determined to make it two out of five this time.“Not for any sense of vanity. Not for any sense of false prestige. We are determined to change this county and this country for the better. We want Sinn Féin to be in Government on this island, North and South to make that change.“We want to frame a new and fairer society and a new and fairer Donegal. We passionately believe that our policies and our vision for our health services, for rural communities, for serious investment in roads, bridges, piers and harbours, schools and hospitals, and a United Ireland that unleashes the full potential of Donegal and the North West, are what are the best for our people in Donegal.“Our health service is in crisis across Donegal from care in the home to our community hospitals right up to our major county hospital in Letterkenny. Our economy is lagging way behind Dublin and Cork and Galway.“Brexit has clearly demonstrated the folly of the division of our island and discussions about a United Ireland are now front and centre. Sinn Féin is best positioned to break down that border with our political strength in Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.“The new North West Cancer Centre and the commencement of works on the A5 in January are evidence of what we can achieve by breaking down that border and by working together in this region in advance of a United Ireland.“We look forward to the next election and the opportunity to present our Sinn Féin policies and our vision for real change and fairness to the people of Donegal”.Doherty and Mac Lochlainn to contest General Election for Sinn Féin was last modified: December 5th, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalPadraig Mac LochlainnPearse DohertySinn Feinlast_img read more

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