Welcome to week eight of Around the Dorm! This week, we decided to mix things up a bit. Rob Viviano is taking a shot at the questions this week, as I, Lauren “Linda Cohn is my hero” Kohout, am taking over the judging for the week. Joining Rob as panelists are our regular contestants: Signal staff writer Ray Lodato and WTSR sports director Pat Lavery. Let’s get this party started!
1) The Lions have set records, won championships and stirred up a ton of excitement this fall. What one athlete has gone above and beyond far more than any other this season?
RL: While you could certainly make a case for Allison Greene and Jess Berkowitz of the field hockey team, I’d give this one to junior forward Dana DiBruno of the soccer team. DiBruno is first on the team in goals (12), third in assists (5) and has the most points (29). Keep in mind the player closest behind her in points has 17, illustrating the type of dynamic offensive player DiBruno is. Aside from being the offensive catalyst for the team, DiBruno is tied for the most game-winning goals on the team (4) and has the most shots on goal. Not only is she converting shots, but she’s creating the most opportunities as well. There are a lot of deserving Lions, but DiBruno is the most successful player on this dominating soccer team. She’s definitely the cream of the crop.
PL: While I have seen a fair amount of Lions football this year, and wide receiver Ryan Ross has put up some great numbers, the athlete that has excelled the most has to be senior soccer player Matt Luber. Luber was named a First-Team NJAC All-Star after putting up eight goals and 18 points this fall, including five game-winning goals. Five game winners is pretty impressive in a short season, so Luber’s my pick.
RV: Joey Galante, wrestling. He is ranked eighth in the nation for his weight, 157. I feel like that should say enough about his skills. The wrestling teams are competing on a national level, ranked on a national level and each player’s performance is an individual struggle and effort for personal success. If you want to look at team success, Galante found the Lions trailing by 10 points at the Ithaca Invitational. After he won four matches in a row, including ones against the fourth- and third-seeded competitors, the Lions clinched the victory, as well as the 157-pound championship. You can talk about the ranking of a team in local D-III or NJAC values, but Galante has established himself as a national entity off his own merits in one-on-one competition.
LK: Both Luber and DiBruno are definitely the best of the best here at the College. Because the women’s team is still alive and DiBruno had more points in the same amount of time, Ray gets the 3 points. For giving Luber the credit he is due, Lavery gets 2 points. Rob, I said this season, not winter. You cannot base an entire season on one tournament. If you wanted to go for one-on-one national level players, check out women’s tennis – 1 point.
2) Former hockey Olympian Derian Hatcher of the Philadelphia Flyers has a plus/minus of -17. After a number of rule changes to increase scoring and speed in the NHL, have the lumbering defensemen gone out of style? Is there a future for them, or do you think teams will only begin looking for defensemen that can score as well as defend?
RL: It has absolutely gone out of style. Why else do you think Bob Clarke and his old-school basher mentality was forced out of Philadelphia earlier this month? The new NHL is a league that values speed and skill over strength and grit – and it is definitely a good thing. Teams like the Sabres, who are loaded with young, athletic and talented players, are finally coming to the forefront and can excite crowds with their incredible skills thanks to the removal of the incessant clutching and grabbing that dominated the NHL of the ’90s, ’80s and so forth. Time needs to pass after the devastating lockout to help rebuild a withering fan base (same happened with baseball after the ’94 strike), but the rule changes are absolutely a step in the right direction. Entertainment is one thing people will always pay for, and the NHL is providing hockey fans that in droves.
PL: Surely the lumbering defenseman has gone out of style. The game, as you said, is built for speed now. Even before the disaster that was the 2004-05 work stoppage, who was the biggest rising star in the game? Tampa Bay’s diminutive Martin St. Louis. Last year, Brian Gionta of the Devils scored 48 goals out of nowhere, a team record. Gionta’s about my size so, if you know me, you know that’s not very imposing. And as far as defensemen who can score, if you look down the scoring leaders so far this season, you’ve got Tomas Kaberle, Scott Niedermayer, Nick Lidstrom – all established defensemen and all putting up good offensive numbers without being the most physically intimidating (Chris Pronger, who’s also in among the scoring leaders for defensemen, is just a beast. He doesn’t count). So yes, in short, I believe the NHL is shifting away from the big, burly defensemen it was once famous for.
RV: “Bruisers” were not wanted in the old NHL, where a team of bruisers, the Rangers, were looked down on and called “unskilled thugs” by a color commentator. They are not desired in the new NHL, where a faster, multi-skilled defender can earn his own goals and points as well as cross-check. It’s not that strong defensemen are not effecive, but rather that the plus/minus is preferential to those who have offensively powerful teams. On Hatcher specifically, it’s not his fault – his team is an offensive failure. You gain points by being on the ice when a goal is scored, and the Flyers routinely struggle to find the back of the net. Hatcher is not getting the rain of +1s that the other defenders are getting for being on offensively effective teams, while other D-men can get +4s without scoring a single goal themselves. Even 6-6, 245-pound Andy Sutton is a +6. So you can be slow, lumbering and have extremely low offensive potential, and still get the points by being on an offensive team.
LK: Pat, you’ve got a hold of this question – 3 points. Ray, you get just 2 points because I had to correct your spelling of Sabers to Sabres. The hockey gods are angry. Rob, just because you are big doesn’t mean you are slow and bad. It is the fact that they are just big, burly guys and can barely skate like Hatcher. Sutton can skate. Check out 6-9, 260-pound Zdeno Chara’s stats if you don’t believe me. Not to mention, Bruisers were definitely wanted – 1 point.
3) Considering all of the NBA draft picks of the past two years, which do you think will have the best NBA career?
RL: Chris Paul. If anyone else answers any differently I am going to be completely blown away. Paul evokes the spirit of point guards of old in Isiah Thomas and John Stockton, creating on the court like a skilled painter working on his masterpiece. People don’t realize how great of a season Paul had in his rookie campaign. He had the best rookie regular season by a point guard in over 45 years. Paul was in the upper tier in almost every statistical category and his PER (player efficiency rating, a summation of all his statistics) was 22.14, ranking fifth overall at the point guard position in a year with extremely strong point guard play. For comparison, let’s look at other players who have a higher PER in their rookie year: Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan. That’s it, the entire show. While most point guards struggle mightily their first few years in the league and then adjust (think Steve Nash and Chauncy Billups), Paul was a stud right out of the gate and is only going to improve in time.
PL: This isn’t exactly picking a needle out of a haystack, but it’s not an easy question, either. Chris Paul, of course, is the frontrunner after winning the Rookie of the Year award last year, but let’s look at some other candidates. I really like the stats Hakim Warrick has been putting up this year, and let’s not forget about Nate Robinson, who came from relative obscurity (on the Knicks, no less) to win the Slam Dunk contest last year. Brandon Roy of the Trail Blazers has scored 18 points a game so far this season, leading all rookies. His future looks bright, as does Paul’s, but for both I say it’s still way, way too early to tell who will have the best career. Remember, Jordan’s stats actually went down in his second season (to 22 points per game) before he exploded into the phenomenon we all remember in the fall of 1986.
RV: There is no LeBron or Carmello, a “brand-name” player that can turn a losing franchise into a true contender by individual dominance of point-scoring techniques. The place to find a real standout is the point guard – a team player, not a point scorer. I give my vote to reigning Rookie of the Year Chris Paul. He’s in a position known for ball possession, where picking the perfect moment for assists is worth more than point scoring. Yet, his stats are impressive, scoring 35 points himself in a recent game. Currently, he’s second in the NBA for assists per game at 10.6 and averaging 23-and -change points per game (that’s on par with Yao). He led all rookies last year in points, steals and assists. He is the team, and it functions all because of his game control skills. His future is not with the Hornets, as he’ll be traded within the next two seasons and will be highly undervalued in that trade. Once on a team with a better dynamic, he will become a huge name player.
LK: For giving statistics that put Chris Paul in the same class as Michael Jordan, Ray gets the 3 points. Rob, Paul isn’t the team, and for comparing him to Yao Ming you get 2 points. Pat, it is never too early to look into the future; we need answers – 1 point.