March 27, 2014
By Kenneth Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
Selecting the first African American to become a standard barrier is not always easy which is why Jackie Robinson is so significant a figure today as he was when he integrated Major League Baseball in 1947.
The University of Connecticut basketball head coach Kevin Ollie is not the Jackie Robinson of the coaching fraternity, but when he leads the No. 7 seed Huskies against No. 3 Iowa State in the round of Sweet 16 on Friday in New York he will be carrying the weight of the Crenshaw High School basketball community.
Ollie replaced the legendary Hall of fame coach Him Calhoun responsibility on Sept. 13, 2012, when he was named the 18th head coach in the history of UConn men’s basketball.
“Kevin Ollie epitomizes what we want a UConn athlete, a UConn student, to be all about. When you say that about somebody, that’s heavy stuff,” Calhoun said. “Any fox hole you need to jump in, there's your guy. Anytime you need a person who won’t quit, there’s your guy.”
However, his long and arduous trek to the pinnacle of one of college basketball’s most prestigious coaching jobs began nearly 25 years ago while he was playing for legendary Crenshaw High coach Willie West.
“He’s a splitting image of Coach West,” said former Crenshaw great John Williams. “Coach West would sit us down and have these long talks to us about life that gave us a since of perspective beyond the game of basketball.”
During the early 1990s, Ollie was the starting guard on two of Crenshaw’s City title winning teams, but he was not among the most talent players to wear a Cougars uniform.
“He wasn’t as talented, but was smart and hard working and learned the system. He has the right temperament and we all want him to be successful,” added Williams, who starred at LSU before playing nearly a decade in the NBA.
Ollie graduated from Crenshaw and was among the first Southern California players to go east.
“I wanted to get away from L.A.,” Ollie told another publication. “Not get away from my family, but get away from the environment I grew up in. This was like a total 360. I felt relaxed, I felt calm. And when I got into the gym and saw how Coach Calhoun pushed his guys to be perfectionists on and off the basketball court, I fell in love with it.”
He spent 13 seasons in the NBA and never averaged more than 8 points in single seasons earning a reputation throughout the league as an outstanding teammate, with strong moral fiber, impeccable character, and a vast knowledge of the game.
Subsequently perseverance finally paid off with a multi-year contract from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Then went to Cleveland to mentor a young LeBron James about acting as a professional and Oklahoma City brought Ollie in to do the same for Kevin Durant.
During a 13-year NBA career, Ollie played for 11 different franchises in 12 cities and learned from 15 different NBA coaches.
Ollie was once cut from a team on Christmas day. “What a Christmas present,” he remembered.
However with all that experience and the high recommendation of Calhoun to become the next Huskie coach, the school hired him on an interim basis, essentially a seven-month audition.
He led a team that was banned from the NCAA tournament to a 20-10 record and was rewarded with a multi-year contract.
In just his second season he has UConn playing in the round of Sixteen, compiling a 28-8 record and two victories away from the Final Four.
“The Crenshaw Family is so special,” explained Greg Hamilton whose son Daniel Hamilton, a star at St. John Bosco will be playing for Ollie in the fall. “He really get’s it. He understands inner city kids and loves what basketball has done for him, and coming out of Crenshaw makes it all the more special.”
Ollie’s mother, Dorothy, became an ordained minister in the Hays Tabernacle Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in 1989, and Kevin attended services with her from the time he was a child. She never shied from community involvement, never stopped trying to make a difference.
He was born Dallas on Dec. 27, 1972, and raised in Los Angeles. Now, Ollie resides in Glastonbury, Ct. a town that boasts a small private lake named Diamond Lake, which is surrounded by growing subdivisions of large homes. A far distant from Crenshaw High.
He’s married to Stephanie, also an UConn grad (1997), and the couple are proud parents of two children, son Jalen and daughter Cheyanne.
Somewhere, Willie West is smiling, his former teammates are rooting and a bevy of Crenshaw Alumni are cheering for one of their own.
The Good Son, the humble soldier, The Cougar, who has done them all proud.
The WBC heavyweight championship rematch between top-rated world contenders, Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne and Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola taking place on May 10 at the USC Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles will be billed as “Fight for Peace.” Hall of Fame Promoter Don King of Don King Productions and Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions made the joint announcement recently.
“ESPN is in it to win it…and ‘win’ in it they have…hitting a grand slam home run in public opinion in welcoming the prodigal son of the sport of boxing – The WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World Title Event back to America – Halleluiah!” said King.
“Fight for Peace” was chosen as an international tribute to the fight for the title previously held by longtime champion Vitali Klitschko who stepped away from boxing officially in December 2013 to focus on the 2014 Ukrainian Presidential Election where he is seeking to become the country’s leader.
“Vitali was a great champion, in and out of the ring, and the winner of this fight will have big shoes to fill wearing the green belt around their waist,” said Dan Goossen promoter of Arreola. “Chris will definitely be going into this fight with his back against the wall. It’s that type of do-or-die situation I believe when he’s the most motivated and dangerous. To top off this history making, and what is sure to be great event, is ESPN’s participation, the home to all major sporting events, putting additional broadcast significance to this Heavyweight World Championship fight.”
Stiverne and Arreola previously battled on April 27, 2013 in Ontario, California, with the Florida resident winning a 12-round unanimous decision over the Southern California based Mexican-American who fought valiantly through a knockdown and broken nose, both suffered in the third round.
“Bermane Stiverne vs. Chris Arreola fighting for the most coveted crowning ceremony in the world of sports scheduled to take place on May 10, 2014 – as Heavyweights go…so goes boxing! Never has that saying had more relevance than now,” King said.
“Needless to say there is great joy in the land of fisticuffs creating great excitement for boxing fans around the world who will celebrate this homecoming with bated breath and great anticipation awaiting the destiny of this fantastic rematch: Stiverne vs. Arreola for the WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World broadcast exclusively via ESPN.”
“The only thing I’m thinking about right now is putting my hands on that title,” said Stiverne.
“As a matter of fact, to me, I’m going to the ring like I’m defending my title. This title is mine. It’s my title, you know what I’m saying; they just didn’t give it to me yet. I’m going in there to defend my title. I feel like I’m ready already. I feel great. I look great and I just can’t wait man. I can’t wait to make history, so everybody lookout for that fight. It’s gonna’ be a fantastic performance and a lot of pain and a knockout,” stated top heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne, who talked about his anticipated rematch with Chris Arreola and his own desire to be crowned the new WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World.”
Stiverne’s trainer, Don House added, “I’ve evaluated this fight and we have been going at this like Bermane hasn’t fought Arreola before, as if everything is brand new. Can Arreola bring anything into this fight differently? No. He may come to fight in the best shape of his life but he doesn’t have the skills to beat Bermane. He doesn’t have the power or speed that Bermane does. Arreola will be right there, Bermane won’t have to look for him, and Bermane will be ready to fight 12 rounds.”
Ranked the #2 heavyweight by the WBC, Arreola, 36-3-0 (31 KO’s), returned to action following the disappointing loss to Stiverne with a devastating first round stoppage of top contender Seth Mitchell on September 7, 2013 in Indio, California.
“I’m very excited about fighting for the WBC Title once again and having it seen on my favorite television network ESPN. I have a great opportunity to get my revenge against Stiverne and make history in one night and I plan to deliver,” stated Arreola.
Henry Ramirez, trainer of Arreola said, “Not too many times do you get a chance to right a wrong, and on May 10 Chris will have his chance to do just that with everything on the line. I know we have a tough task but I have zero doubt Chris Arreola will be the WBC World Heavyweight Champion and first ever of Mexican descent to hold such title.”
“Fight for Peace” from the USC Galen Center in Downtown Los Angeles will be televised live on Saturday, May 10 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN. Tickets, priced at $300, $200, $100, $50 and $25 (plus customary fees) will go on sale shortly.
March 20, 2014
LAWT News Service
No. 4-seed UCLA (26-8) will face No. 13-seed Tulsa (21-12) in a second-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region this Friday night at Viejas Arena in San Diego. The Bruins earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after having won the Pac-12 Tournament title in Las Vegas last Saturday. Game time on Friday is slated for 6:57 p.m. (PT). UCLA’s contest against Tulsa will be nationally televised by truTV.
FRIDAY’S GAME IN SAN DIEGO
Venue: Viejas Arena (11,564)
Game Time: 6:57 pm (PT)
TV Station: truTV
TV Talents: Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), Mike Gminski (analyst), Otis Livingston (sideline)
Radio: AM 570 (KLAC)
Radio Talent: Chris Roberts (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
SIRIUS Satellite Radio: Channel 157
SIRIUS XM Radio: Channel 190
KEY NOTES ABOUT UCLA
• UCLA will make its 46th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this week, having earned its highest tournament seed (No. 4) since entering the 2008 field as the No. 1 seed in the West Region ... the Bruins are one of six Pac-12 Conference programs in the 68-team field (joining Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon and Stanford).
• The Bruins secured the Pac-12 Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning its fourth Pac-12 Tournament title in the 17-year history of the tournament ... UCLA defeated Arizona, 75-71, in the title game ... Jordan Adams nailed a tie-breaking three-pointer to give UCLA a 71-68 cushion with 45 seconds to play.
• Under the leadership of head coach Steve Alford, in his first season at UCLA, the Bruins have gone 26-8 overall, recording their highest single-season win total since going 26-9 in 2008-09 ... UCLA won its three games in the Pac-12 Tournament by an average of 16.0 points per game, averaging 80.3 points per contest.
• UCLA finished its regular season schedule with a second-place finish in the competitive Pac-12 Conference standings (12-6 Pac-12 record), trailing first-place Arizona (15-3 Pac-12) by three games.
• The Bruins have won at least 20 games in 48 seasons, including 31 times in the last 39 years (since John Wooden retired in 1975) ... UCLA has won at least 26 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2008-09.
• Kyle Anderson has averaged closer to a triple-double than any other player in the nation ... the Bruins’ sophomore 6-foot-9 point guard enters the NCAA Tournament averaging 14.9 points per game, leading the team in rebounds per game (8.8) and the conference in assists per game (6.6) ... he has registered a Pac-12-best 16 double-doubles.
• Under Coach Alford’s direction, UCLA has averaged its highest offensive output (81.8 ppg) since the Bruins averaged 83.1 points per game in 1997-98 ... in his 23rd season as a college head coach, Alford has guided his teams to at least 22 wins in each of the last seven seasons (includes his six seasons as New Mexico’s head coach).
• Jordan Adams leads UCLA in scoring (17.2 ppg) and ranks seventh in that category in the Pac-12 ... Adams scored a career-high 31 points at Washington (March 6) to pass the 1,000 career point mark ... he also leads all Pac-12 players with 90 steals, the UCLA single-season record (surpassing Cameron Dollar’s 82 steals in 1997).
• UCLA’s roster features seven players who have scored at least 20 points in one career game, with six of those seven having registered at least 20 points in a game this season ... Jordan Adams leads the Bruins with 12 games of 20 points or more and has scored in double figures in 28 of 33 games played.
• The Bruins returned six of their primary eight contributors from the 2012-13 team ... this season, UCLA has primarily used an eight-man rotation that includes starters Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Norman Powell, David Wear andTravis Wear, with Zach LaVine, Bryce Alford and Tony Parker contributing off the bench.
Jordan Adams (17.2 pgg, 5.3 rpg) and Kyle Anderson (14.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 6.6 apg) earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors, marking the second consecutive year in which two UCLA players secured first-team acclaim (last season, Larry Drew II and Shabazz Muhammad). In addition, Bryce Alford (8.1 ppg, 2.7 apg) and Zach LaVine (10.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg) were among five players named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
Kyle Anderson secured Most Outstanding Player accolades at the Pac-12 Tournament last weekend, having averaged 15.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists in three games. Anderson registered his conference-leading 16th double-double (21 points, 15 rebounds) in the championship win over Arizona.
Head coach Steve Alford has become the 12th head coach in college basketball history to have led at least four NCAA Division I programs to the NCAA Tournament (Missouri State, Iowa, New Mexico and UCLA). He has guided his teams to conference tournament titles in each of the past three seasons and is the first UCLA head coach to have led the Bruins to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship in his first year at the helm. The other 11 coaches to have led at least four NCAA Division I teams to the NCAA Tournament include John Beilein, Lefty Driesell, Cliff Ellis, Larry Eustachy, Jim Harrick, Lon Kruger, Fran McCaffery, Tom Penders, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and Eddie Sutton. Eight of those 11 coaches are active head coaches
UCLA has compiled a 3-2 all-time record against Tulsa, having met the Golden Hurricanes once in NCAA Tournament action. The Bruins suffered a 112-102 overtime loss to Tulsa in the first round of the 1994 Tournament. UCLA and Tulsa did not share any common opponents this season. Since the NCAA Tournament featured seeds in 1978-79, UCLA has gone 9-4 in its first NCAA Tournament game when seeded No. 4 or higher.
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Marcus Smart is quite the villain in some circles of the college basketball world.
The Oklahoma State star, already disliked for the perception that he is a flopper, received a far greater level of scorn when he shoved a Texas Tech fan and was suspended for three games.
His antics, combined with his status as a likely lottery pick in this year's NBA draft, make him an easy target for fans away from home. A TCU student brought a sign that read "Free Shoves" with the outline of a pair of hands, and another wore boxing gloves. Iowa State's student section pulled off choreographed mass flops several times during the regular-season finale in Ames.
"It just comes with the territory," Smart said. "It's always going to go that way. You can't really focus on that. You can't let that determine how you play and let it distract you."
Oklahoma State (21-12), the No. 9 seed in the West Region, will play No. 8 seed Gonzaga (28-6) Friday in San Diego in its NCAA tournament opener. How far the Cowboys go will depend largely on the play of their talented guard.
Smart will leave school after this season - he was introduced on Senior Night, even though he is only in his second year of college. Teammate Markel Brown says Smart should play along with the bad-guy role in his final games in college.
"It's college basketball," Brown said. "It's a fun atmosphere. Everyone's gunning for him. I think he should embrace the fact that he's being looked at in that type of way."
The beginning of the season was fun for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were ranked in the top 10 at one point, but a seven-game losing streak, including three losses during Smart's suspension, threatened Oklahoma State's NCAA tournament hopes. A 5-2 finish that included dazzling all-around play by Smart propelled the Cowboys into the tournament.
The tournament offers Smart a last chance to change the script that, to this point, has been a mixture of promise and disappointment. Smart said he's not worried about how his college career will be remembered.
"I'm just focused on this team right now," he said. "We've got Gonzaga Friday, so that's really our main focus. I'm pretty sure - I feel like I've made a pretty good mark on Oklahoma State, but that's not really my main focus."
He was projected to be a high draft pick last year, but he chose to return to school. He scored a career-high 39 points against Memphis on Nov. 19 and followed that with 25 points against South Florida and 30 more against Purdue.
Oklahoma State entered 2014 with a 12-1 record, but things fell apart from there. Rim protector Michael Cobbins was lost for the season to a torn left Achilles tendon and Stevie Clark was kicked off the team following two arrests.
Smart began pressing as his poor shooting games and the losses began to pile up.
Finally, Smart snapped. Late in a Feb. 8 game at Texas Tech, Smart tumbled out of bounds behind the basket after trying to block a shot. Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr said something to him, and Smart turned around, walked back to Orr, exchanged words with him and shoved him with both hands.
Since his return, he has played arguably his best basketball in his two years in Stillwater. He has averaged 18.7 points, 6.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals in seven games. His assist numbers are up, and his efficiency, highlighted by a nearly 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, has been a catalyst for Oklahoma State's improvement.
"I think he's just trying to be that leader that he was at the beginning of the year," guard Phil Forte said. "He's just trying to enjoy the process. It's coming for an end here shortly, and I think he's just trying to enjoy it all, soak it all in. He's not going to know when his last game is, so I think he's trying to just go out there, have fun and enjoy being a college basketball player for a little longer."
The Cowboys won four straight, including a victory over No. 5 Kansas, after Smart's return. Oklahoma State closed the season with an overtime loss to Iowa State, a win over Texas Tech and an overtime loss to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament. Smart said the close losses haven't stopped the team's momentum.
"This team has suffered a lot of ups and downs - a lot of downs for us," Smart said. "We're just trying to focus on positive notes and everything we've got going for ourselves. Right now, we're playing pretty good basketball."
The strong finishes for Smart and his team have a lot of folks picking Oklahoma State as a sleeper in the field. He calls the chatter "fool's gold" until the Cowboys go out and back it up.
Smart has learned not to look ahead. He remembers his emotions following Oklahoma State's loss to Oregon in its NCAA tournament opener a year ago.
"I didn't like that feeling at all," he said. "That's one of the reasons I came back. I'm going to do everything in my ability to make sure that doesn't happen again."
March 13, 2014
LAWT News Services
LA KISS single game tickets are now on sale, ahead of the team’s inaugural season. Tickets for each of the team’s nine home games are available for purchase, including the home-opener against the Portland Thunder on April 5 and the promotional item series.
Fans can expect a number of gameday promotions before select games, including several KISS Bobblehead Nights. The limited-edition series is inspired by legendary rock band KISS and its four members, including LA KISS Co-owners Gene Simmons (Demon) and Paul Stanley (Starchild). To commemorate the team’s first home game as a franchise, all fans in attendance for the April 5 game will receive a special guitar pick.
In addition to hard-hitting, high-scoring football, the LA KISS games will feature a complete game entertainment experience with live music, Super Bowl style halftime shows, and other surprises throughout the season.
Tickets are available via ticketmaster.com or the Honda Center Box Office. Single-game tickets start at just $15 per game, and fans can save money from the day of game price by purchasing tickets in advance.
Season Tickets, Suites, Mini-Plans & Groups — Season tickets, luxury suites, mini-plans and group seating are also available for purchase at lakissfootball.com
For more information on LA KISS, or to purchase season tickets packages, which include a free KISS concert at the Honda Center, please visit www.lakissfootball.com.
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