New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Reflects On Odd Vibe At Empty Stadium

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

MetLife Stadium will be empty this year when the New York Giants and Jets play their home games there. No, that’s not some hyperbole about attendance getting lower because the team hasn’t won much in recent years. The stadium will literally be empty, a decision made to protect fans from COVID-19.

For a lot of players, this is a strange thing. After all, the players that make up the ranks of the NFL now were stars in high school and college. People always turned out to see them. In the NFL, tens of thousands of fans packed stadiums every week to see them play professionally.

Now, the NFL will have to join other leagues in getting used to the reality of an empty stadium. It’s an odd vibe, and the Giants received their first taste of it during the Blue-White Scrimmage which recently concluded.

Saquon Barkley speaks on the empty stadium atmosphere

This is probably one of the first times Saquon Barkley has played in front of an empty stadium. After all, he was a star since high school and during college, he played at Penn State – a school that has one of the largest stadiums in the world, which is typically sold out.

That was a far cry from a MetLife Stadium without fans.

“I remember at one point on the sideline, Evan [Engram] and I looked at each other and said, ‘Wow, we’re really in a pandemic.’ We looked at the coaches, the coaches had masks on, there were no fans there. Obviously, we have tremendous fans and we would love for them to be there. But we know what’s going on in the world, especially with COVID going on right now, too,” Barkley said following the scrimmage.

“It kind of felt like practice. I think that’s kind of going to be the vibe for the season. Hopefully, we’re able to find something that we would be able to bring fans back by the end of the season. But that’s the way it’s going to be. It felt like practice. You go out there with your teammates, you have music going, you go out there and you just try to get better,” Barkley continued.

Still, the Giants are lucky to have a season at all. There was no guarantee that the league’s plans to fight the ongoing pandemic would work, but luckily the Giants have avoided players falling ill with it and the team has been able to carry on their training camp as normal.

It’s a luckiness that Barkley also admits, as the Giants prepare to open the season with the first game of this strange empty season era.

“You love this game. You wake up every single day and be able to play the game you love since you were a little kid. So, go out there and have fun with it, whether there are fans or not.”

UFC Vegas 8 Recap: Aleksandar Rakic chops down Anthony Smith

The UFC returned tonight for their eighth Fight Night since hosting events at their APEX. In the main event of the evening, top eight light heavyweights went to war as Anthony Smith (33-15) took on Aleksandar Rakic (12-2).

Rakic chops down Lionheart

The main event saw former UFC title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith, taking on top contender, Aleksandar Rakic. Both men entered the cage coming off of a loss and looking to bounce back.

The main event started with a touch of the gloves. Rakic immediately opened up with a few powerful leg kicks. Smith countered with some of his own, but Rakic’s had a lot of pop on them. Rakic dropped Smith with back to back massive leg kicks.

Once on top, Rakic landed some good body shots. Smith was able to use a scramble to get to Rakic’s back, but Rakic was able to shake him off. Rakic was able to get top position with about two minutes left in the round.

Rakic displayed really good top control over the final couple of minutes. Smith looked like he was going to go for a triangle at one point, but he seemed more content to ride out the round. Clear first round for Rakic.

Smith moved forward to start round two, but Rakic continued to pepper him with kicks. Lionheart used a big right to engage the grappling. However, Rakic used his superior strength to just throw Smith to his back.

Rakic landed right in Smith’s guard and started working on ground and pound. Smith looked for butterflies to try and sweep, but Rakic did a good job maintaining top control. Smith did do a good job of working slowly back to the fence.

Once the action was there, Smith did try and throw up a couple of submissions, but Rakic did a good job defending. The final minute didn’t contain a ton of action which led to another clear round for Rakic.

The final round opened with another massive leg kick from Rakic. Rakic landed a couple of big kicks that seemingly rocked Smith for a second. Smith show in for a takedown, but again, Rakic was able to use his strength to throw Smith down.

After being on his back for over a minute, Smith used the cage to try to get back to his feet. Rakic did a fantastic job of controlling Smith from the back. Finally Smith got back to his feet for two seconds with a minute left, but was dragged right back down. There was really no more action in the final minute.

The final round was another clear round for Rakic. I gave him the fight 30-27. The judges gave the fight unanimously to Rakic (30-26, 30-27, 30-27). A very solid bounce back win

Magny hands Robbie Lawler fourth straight loss

The co-main event of the evening featured the former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC), taking on Neil Magny (23-7). Lawler was looking to snap the longest losing streak of his career.

As the first round started, Magny looked to strike from distance with his kicks. Lawler was able to back up Magny while throwing big shots. Lawler tried to get a takedown, but Magny defended well. Magny was able to drag Lawler down with a headlock before transitioning to the back.

Lawler was able to get back to his feet, but Magny maintained control. Magny got to Lawler’s back and almost locked up a rear-naked choke before Lawler fought out of it. Magny dragged Lawler down, but a scramble found Lawler on top.

After taking some good shots, Magny was able to get back to his feet. Once the fight was back on the feet, Magny landed a takedown. Lawler got back to his feet, but Magny snapped him back down with a headlock. Round ended and a clear first for Neil Magny.

As the second round started, Lawler showed some urgency on his feet. Magny threw a big headkick which was blocked, but he used that momentum to shoot in for a takedown. Magny was able to drag Lawler down.

Once the fight was on the ground, Magny was able to get Lawler’s back again. After controlling Lawler for a few minutes, Magny lost the top position. Lawler got to his feet with about a minute left in the round. However, he wasn’t able to land anything significant. Another clear round for Magny.

Both men touched gloves as the final round began. Lawler looked light on his feet to start the final round. Lawler landed a big right hand and Magny pulled guard. It wasn’t clear on if the shot actually hurt Magny or not.

Magny just hugged Lawler on the ground with no action so the referee stood them up. Lawler really started pressing forward landing good shots, but Magny reengaged the grappling and got Lawler down.

Lawler was able to work his way back to the feet with about two minutes left in the round. Magny started doing a good job landing from distance. Lawler was plotting forward, but Magny was just peppering him.

Magny’s boxing looked incredibly crisp as he continued to pepper Lawler with straight shots as Lawler came forward. The round ended with Magny landing over and over. Another clear round for Magny and I give him the fight 30-27.

The judges agreed unanimously giving the fight to Neil Magny (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). The third win of 2020 for Magny. The former UFC champion, Lawler, has now lost four fights in a row.

Alexa Grasso makes successful UFC flyweight debut

The second fight on the main card featured a women’s flyweight contest between Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) and Alexa Grasso (11-3). Grasso was moving up from strawweight for her UFC flyweight debut.

Both ladies touched gloves as the first round started. Grasso opened the action with a very solid overhand right. Kim seemed extremely calm early on just trying to find her rhythm. Grasso kept trying to press forward, but was having a little trouble with the reach.

Kim owned a six inch reach advantage, and it was playing a factor early. Every time Grasso would push forward, Kim would land one solid counter on Grasso’s exit. Both women landed in a big exchange with about two minutes left in the round.

Grasso was pushing forward and throwing more in the first. Kim was staying patient and landing good counters, but Grasso was landing more while being aggressive. Solid first round that I’ll give to Grasso.

Grasso opened up the second round with a very solid body kick. She followed that with a very big leg kick. Kim wasn’t displaying great defense as she continued to get hit with solid shots from Grasso.

Grasso continued to push forward with combinations as Kim looked for counters. A big three punch combination landed for Grasso halfway through the round. Kim started throwing some combinations after that.

Urgency started setting it for Kim as she was getting peppered by Grasso. Kim’s nose was really bothering her as she continued to take big combinations from Grasso. Kim landed some decent shots late in the round, but this is another round for Grasso.

The final round opened with both ladies throwing combinations. Grasso was staying very busy, but Kim was pushing forward more early in the round. Kim pushed forward, but Grasso was still getting the better of the exchanges.

It was very evident in the third that Kim sensed that she needed a finish. The problem was that Grasso was just quicker on the feet. Halfway through the round the two women engaged in some grappling. Both exchanged the controlling position against the cage.

Grasso was able to land a takedown with about a minute into the round. Grasso stayed in half guard the full final minute landing big shots on Kim. Another round for Grasso and I give her the fight 30-27.

The judges unanimously agreed giving Grasso the fight (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). A very solid UFC flyweight debut for Alexa Grasso.

Lamas defeats Algeo in a war

Kicking off the main card on ESPN+ was a featherweight contest between Ricardo Lamas (19-8) and Bill Algeo (13-4). Algeo who has appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series was making his UFC debut against Lamas.

Algeo opened the first round in a side stance looking to kick. After Lamas landed a good leg kick, Algeo responded with big body shots. Algeo was really pushing the pace early on looking for big shots. Lamas engaged in some grappling to try to get the fight to the ground, but wasn’t successful.

When they separated, Lamas really started to find his range. He was doing a good job of landing calf kicks and straight shots. These two men started throwing caution to the wind throwing massive shots at the other.

Just as Lamas started taking control, Algeo was able to find his range with some big shots. Lamas landed a couple of big calf kicks, but Algeo seemingly rocked Lamas right as the round entered. Incredible round that I slightly lean towards Algeo.

As the second round started, Algeo was really pushing the pace. Looked to be trying to build off the momentum of the way round one ended. Lamas shot in for a takedown and was able to get Algeo’s back. However, Algeo created a nice scramble to get up.

Both men again engaged in landing massive shots in close quarters. Algeo backed Lamas up landing big shots, and the moment he stopped, Lamas fired back. Lamas again tried to get the fight back to the ground halfway through the round.

Algeo was doing a very good job of defending the takedown while landing big elbows. Lamas got wobbled by a big knee up the middle. Algeo shot in for a takedown and took Lamas down. Lamas was then able to reverse the position and get on top. Algeo immediately got back to his feet.

Algeo started showboating a little in the final minute of the round. Lamas landed a pretty good calf kick, but Algeo appeared to be having fun. Clear second round for Bill Algeo.

The third and final round began with three solid kicks from Lamas. Seemed to be much more urgency with Lamas entering the final round. Algeo was doing a really good job of staying calm. Lamas tried to get a takedown a minute into the round, but Algeo defended well.

After working on the takedown for about 20 seconds, Lamas was able to get Algeo down. Algeo kept trying to scramble, but Lamas did a really good job of keeping top position. Lamas was landing very solid shots while Algeo kept trying to scramble.

Algeo was able to get up, but Lamas dragged him right back down. Algeo seemed to be very tired from all the grappling. After working his way back up, Algeo was slammed back down by Lamas. Lamas transitioned immediately to his back.

Lamas was able to get the mount with about thirty seconds left. Algeo wasn’t doing much to defend. Lamas was raining down massive elbows as the round ended. By far the most dominant round of the fight. I will give Lamas a 10-8 round which would make the fight a 28-28 draw.

In the end, all three judges gave the fight to Ricardo Lamas (29-27, 29-27, 29-27). An incredible fight and despite the loss, a very impressive UFC debut for Bill Algeo.

UFC Vegas 8 Takeaways

UFC on Vegas 8 delivered with a very solid night of fights. The four fight main was entertaining from start to finish. Aleksandar Rakic was able to get back on track in the main event. Robbie Lawler suffered his fourth consecutive loss in the co-main. The UFC returns next week for Alistair Overeem – Augusto Sakai.

New York Giants: Positions To Keep An Eye On With Cuts Around The Corner

New York Giants

The New York Giants will set their fifty-three man roster in a week from today. Over this next week, the team will be determining who will stay and who will go. The Giants do have a few positions of need, and they also have few positions of strength. Ahead of camp cuts, which positions are worth keeping a close eye on?

UDFA Wide Receivers

Behind Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate, the Giants have a positional battle at the wide receiver position. Corey Coleman will be competing with a number of rookie wide receivers to win the fourth wide receiver position.

New York has four undrafted free agent wide receivers currently on the roster. Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Cody White were all signed by the Giants this offseason. They have all had their fair share of ups and downs in camp, but Victor and Mack have had a few more standout plays.

There are also two other receivers making their names known in camp: David Stills and Alex Bachman. Both players have impressed in practice and could earn themselves a spot on the final roster. For all of these wide receivers, this next week of practice is crucial.

New York Giants waive one UDFA running back and sign two defensive backs

New York Giants, Javon Leake

One of the stars from Friday’s scrimmage for the New York Giants was undrafted free agent Javon Leake. Out of Maryland, Leake is described as a one-cut guy, who can put his foot in the ground and take off with blazing speed. Averaging 7.2 yards per carry in 2019, the UDFA was waived after Friday’s contest. He looks good on kick returns and even broke off a lengthy run, led by right tackle Matt Peart.

This was an odd move for the Giants, who seemed to value him at multiple positions. However, they needed to add depth to the secondary, which seems to be more of a priority. With Darnay Holmes suffering a lower-body injury that didn’t seem too serious during the game, Sam Beal opting out of the season due to COVID-19, DeAndre Baker spending his days on the commissioner’s exempt list, and Xavier McKinney breaking his foot, adding players was a necessity.

In lieu of Leake being waived, the Giants signed KeiVarae Russell and Brandon Williams. Russell, who was a former third-round pick in 2016 out of Notre Dame, spent 2019 on the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad. He has been unable to crack an NFL team just yet, but maybe the current scheme fits his playstyle.

The Giants also landed 2016 third-round pick Brandon Williams from the Arizona Cardinals. At 27 years old, Williams was on injured reserve all of last year but has the talent to make an NFL roster. Bringing in more defensive backs to compete was always a need, and the Giants made the move with about 17 days left until the regular season starts.

The Stage Is Set For Unusually Smart Decision Making By The New York Knicks Front Office

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

On Thursday, August 20th, many New York Knick fans witnessed their beloved team fall two spots into the lap of the eighth overall pick of the upcoming NBA Draft on October 16th, 2020. Many were hurt once they noticed the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and the Charlotte Hornets had occupied the first three overall picks respectively.

Many diehard Knick fans voiced their displeasure on Twitter along with many other social media platforms by accusing the NBA Draft of being “rigged” and “fixed”. However, it’s very possible that in a non top-heavy draft, picking eighth may be the best thing to happen to the New York Knickerbockers this year especially under a special player development and savvy basketball minded staff.

Despite the displeasure from New York Knick fans, the jokes from anti-Knick fans, along with more jokes from anti-Knick sources, the New York Knicks front office might actually have fun this draft without the pressure of choosing a top-three draft pick which could potentially handcuff an organization to certain talents, which might not even be the true desired pick for the vision of the president and General Manager. It’s very possible to land great talent with two opportunities in the first round of this year’s draft. Knicks have the eighth and the twenty-seventh first-round picks.

Some at MSG are fans of FSU’s Devin Vassell according to Ian Begley.

Devin Vassell could be the perfect plug and play draft pick for the New York Knicks. Tom Thibodeau enjoys coaching high defensive IQ players with motor and toughness. Devin Vassell’s style fits the bill. In addition to Vassell’s individual and team defense he displayed in Florida State University under Coach Leonard Hamilton, the first coach to be named coach of the year in both the Big East and ACC, Vassell has shown improvement on his off the dribble shooting and his three-point shooting.

Vassell averaged 12.7-points per contest along with 1.4-steals last season for FSU. Devin Vassell at 6’6″ along with his 6’10” wingspan could be the perfect 3&D prospect for the Knicks moving forward alongside Frank Ntilikina and RJ Barrett. With an improved Mitchell Robinson playing center, the addition of Vassell would enhance the Knicks defensively under Tom Thibodeau with even more room for future growth collectively.

Kira Lewis Jr. is another special talent who very much may become the Knicks new starting point guard next season under Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Payne, and Mike Woodson. The ultra speedy 6’3″ 165lbs sophomore point-guard out of Alabama averaged a solid 18.5-points along with 5.2-assists last season. Lewis also averaged 4.8-rebounds per contest last season for Alabama. Kira Lewis Jr. is a menace on the fast-break, a category the Knicks struggle with. The former Alabama Crimson Tide speedster’s shot creation, on-ball defense, and playmaking skills would help the Knicks tremendously for years to come. Plus, a Kira Lewis Jr., Mitchell Robinson pick and roll would be something to watch for us Knick fans. Expert player developmental coach Johnny Bryant would help Kira Lewis tremendously.

“And with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Saddiq Bey from Villanova University!” Those same exact words may come from Adam Silvers mouth during the virtual edition of the NBA Draft if the NBA chooses to announce the picks similar to the traditional way. Saddiq Bey is a very intriguing prospect.

The 6’8″ 220lbs prospect out of Villanova possesses a 6’10” wingspan and he’s a deadly three-point shooter. Energy, motor, unselfishness, and defensive versatility sums up what makes Saddiq Bey an intriguing prospect for the New York Knicks. Bey’s ability to stretch the floor as a small forward or power forward is crucial for the Knicks and will not go unnoticed by the Knick front office. A smart individual and team defender who’s versatile enough to guard a variety of players at different positions would be an excellent addition for a Tom Thibodeau coached team. His solid lateral foot speed and high defensive IQ would be accepted amongst the Knick fan base.

The New York Knicks don’t need the top pick in this year’s uncertain draft. With an established front office, the Knicks are easily positioned to win the draft with savvy additions without the need of a “big named prospect”. The Knicks are building a sturdy foundation for the future and aligning the front office with the head coach seems like a huge step in the right direction. Dolan, be patient, and don’t be pressured by the media or fans. Trusting the right process is crucial, and the Knicks decision making under the new regime hasn’t disappointed thus far.

The stage is set for some unusually smart decision making by the New York Knicks. With the additions of Andy Greer, Dice Yoshimoto, Mike Woodson, Kenny Payne, and Johnny Bryant, the Knicks are slowly putting Head Coach Tom a Thibodeau in a place where he can succeed. Alan Hahn stated similar sentiments on Twitter.

Leon Rose and the Knicks have built a coaching and culture foundation. The construction isn’t nearly finished, however. The basketball court next season will evaluate the development of the youngsters on both the main Knicks squad along with the Westchester Knicks.

New York Mets: Steve Cohen gains exclusive negotiation rights, will he secure the deal this time around?

New York Mets

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, a lifelong New York Mets‘ fan, has long dreamed of owning the team, and might soon get his wish once and for all. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, it actually isn’t a sure thing that he achieves the goal, but he once again has gained exclusive negotiation rights for the club.

On Friday night, several outlets reported that Cohen won the bidding, leaving the Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez-led group in the dust, not to mention the Harris Blitzer association that also wanted to own the team.

It will represent another attempt from Cohen to acquire the New York Mets from the Wilpons, after one bid collapsed at the start of the year.

According to The Post, the transaction is rumored to be around $2.4 billion, or $200 million less that the last time he offered to buy the Mets. That was in December 2019.

Will Cohen finally acquire his beloved Mets?

The groups had until Monday to submit their final bids, but according to what a source familiar with the negotiations told The Post, New York Mets president Saul Katz always prefered Cohen.

“Saul wants this done,” said the aforementioned source. “It was always going to be Cohen.”

Cohen’s bid was said to surpass the second-placed one by more than $100 million, which was reportedly the one made by the “J-Rod” group.

“The consortium led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez has informed the Mets that they are no longer pursuing the acquisition of the team,” a statement published by the group read. “The consortium, which included Vincent Viola, Mike Repole, and Marc Lore had submitted a fully funded offer at a record price for the team which was supported by binding debit commitments from JP Morgan and equity commitment letters from creditworthy partners.”

New York Mets: Betances Loses the Zone in 2-1 Walk-Off Loss

The New York Mets bullpen had put together a terrific scoreless innings streak up until the moment Dellin Betances entered the game. His combination of walks and wildness gifted the New York Yankees a much-needed victory. Betances flung the ball over Wilson Ramos‘s head, with Erik Kratz attempting to bunt, which caused the Mets to lose 2-1.

Not only does Betances have issues locating his fastball, but it does not have his typical velocity either. 92-93 is nowhere near where he was during the prime of his career. Betances allowed a walk to Clint Frazier and a hit and run single to Jordy Mercer to set up the game-ending wild pitch. After the game, he said he felt like he had nothing on the mound, pitching for a second straight day.

Failed Comeback

The Mets could not muster any offense against Yankees starter J.A. Happ. Over 7.1 innings, all Happ allowed was three hits with only 90 pitches. It was a big surprise when Yankees manager Aaron Boone removed him and turned to Adam Ottavino. Wilson Ramos immediately tagged Ottavino for a solo home run, tying the game at one. It looked like another comeback was in the works for a third straight game, but they could not add on to the homer.

Outside of Betances, the Mets pitching kept them a home run away throughout the game. After Robert Gsellman allowed a first-inning home run to Luke Voit, he was solid after that. Gsellman threw four innings, only allowing one run on four hits while striking out four.

Steven Matz followed him out of the bullpen and threw a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts. The expectation was for Matz to throw multiple innings, resting an overworked Mets bullpen. He ended up leaving the game after the one inning with an apparent injury. For the next three innings, the bullpen worked in an out of trouble before the Betances collapse.

The Mets play a doubleheader on Sunday starting at 1:05 p.m. ET with Rick Porcello needing to give the Mets distance. Aaron Boone has not announced the Yankees starter as of 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

New York Yankees: Good news and bad news following win over Mets

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

With the rain holding back on Saturday afternoon as the New York Yankees took on the New York Mets, the Bombers managed to scrape out a victory in the final moments of the game. It seems as if DJ LeMahieu is a good luck charm, after all, losing seven straight before claiming a victory.

LeMahieu returned after spraining his left thumb against the Boston Red Sox about two weeks ago. He recorded one hit on the day, which was a triple to deep right field.

FINAL SCORE: 2-1

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news—victory. Finally, the Yankees were able to muster the energy to get back into the winning category, despite falling to 17-13 on the season.

While this was a close victory, the Yankees‘ offense sparked in the ninth-inning with Clint Frazier earning a leadoff walk and newly signed Jordy Mercer logging a one-out single to move Frazier to third base.

If not for a first-inning Luke Voit homer, though, the Yankees wouldn’t have been in the game at all. Dellin Betances threw a wild pitch to end the game, with Frazier scoring from third. This is a massive victory for the Yankees and hopefully will provide some momentum moving forward into a doubleheader on Sunday.

Pitching wise, starter JA Happ had a phenomenal game, lasting 7.1 innings and allowing just three hits. He tossed 90 pitches and proved that he should be in the starting rotation more frequently. Recently, he’s been under fire for indicating that the Yankees were keeping him out of the rotation, so they don’t have to pick up his vesting option in 2021. If he makes ten starts or pitches 60 1/3 innings, they have to pay him $17 million on a one year deal next year.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news, the Yankees just barely scraped out another win against a lowly Mets team.

Aroldis Chapman had a few scary moments in the ninth-inning, and Adam Ottavino gave up a game-tying homer in the eighth. Once again, the bullpen was tumultuous and cannot be relied on consistently. That makes three blown leads in the latter half of games the past two days. The Yankees had a lead four times during their seven-game losing streak, blowing all four of them and losing in the end.

The inability to produce any offense has been problematic, combined with skeptic pitching.

New York Liberty fall despite WNBA history from Amanda Zahui B

Another bad quarter sank the New York Liberty on Saturday afternoon despite Amanda Zahui B making WNBA history.

WNBA history wasn’t enough to withstand another tough fourth quarter for the New York Liberty.

Amanda Zahui B had a WNBA record 21 defensive rebounds but a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter doomed them to an 80-63 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday afternoon in the Bradenton bubble. A’ja Wilson led the way with 20 points for Las Vegas while Dearica Hamby had a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) off the bench. Each team returned to action after the WNBA joined the wave of athlete strikes across North America in protest of racial injustice.

The fourth quarter marred what was otherwise a strong, respectable day for the Liberty (2-13), who had won the third quarter by a 21-17 margin. Zahui B’s 21 rebounds made up for a tough shooting day from the field (2-of-11) and broke a Liberty record previously held by Tina Charles since July 2017. Her league record shattered a mark set by Detroit’s Cindy Brown during the 1998 season…the Association’s second year of existence.

“I think she’s at a point where she’s comfortable understanding where if her shots aren’t falling she can do other things for this team,” head coach Walt Hopkins said of Zahui B’s performance. “I thought her one-on-one defense was pretty darn good. Her rebounds were huge, obviously.”

Zahui B declined to comment on basketball matters, expressing only sadness at continued instances of racial injustice. She has been a vocal leader in activism in both American and her native Sweden.

Personal history was also set on the Liberty through Paris Kea. The mid-season acquisition scored a career-high 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting (including 4-of-6 from three-point range). Elsewhere, Kiah Stokes fell just short of a triple-double (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Layshia Clarendon scored 11 more in defeat. Clarendon has been a vocal voice in the WNBA’s social justice initiatives and recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” during a candlelit vigil held during the postponements caused by the strike.

With their win, Las Vegas (12-3) moves into a first-place tie with Seattle. The Aces also clinched their second consecutive playoff spot, becoming the first team officially enter the postseason bracket as the WNBA regular season enters its latter stages.

The Liberty return to action on Tuesday as they play their second game of the season against the Connecticut Sun (7 p.m., Fox Sports Go/CBSSN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Rangers: Chris Drury removes himself from GM contention at Florida (Report)

New York Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury has withdrawn himself from consideration for the vacant general manager position with the Florida Panthers per a report by Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

Drury had an interview with the Panthers organization during the week of Aug. 16. and reportedly advised Florida on Friday afternoon that he was withdrawing himself from consideration.

The 44-year-old will enter his sixth year in the Rangers’ front office and fifth as assistant GM.  He is also entering his fourth as GM of the AHL Wolf Pack. Drury assists Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton on all player transactions and contract negotiations, and he is responsible for all hockey-related matters for the Wolf Pack. The former Blueshirt also helps Gorton in overseeing and evaluating all players at the collegiate level.

Drury played four seasons with the Rangers (2007-08-2010-11) after signing with the team as a free agent on July 1, 2007. In addition, Drury served as the Rangers captain for three seasons (2008-09 – 2010-11) after being named the 25th captain in franchise history, as well as the second American-born captain in franchise history on October 3, 2008. In 264 regular-season games with the Blueshirts, he recorded 62 goals and 89 assists for 151 points, along with 116 penalty minutes

In his NHL playing career, Drury played in 892 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and the Rangers, registering 255 goals and 360 assists for 615 points. Drury captured the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2000-01, ranking second in the NHL with 11 goals in 23 games during the team’s playoff run. In 1998-99, Drury received the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year after registering 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points with Colorado. Drury recorded at least 20 goals in nine different seasons in his career, and he registered at least 50 points in eight different seasons.

Former Ranger and current NBC Broadcaster Eddie Olczyk has also interviewed for the GM position in Florida.  Peter Chiarelli, Scott Mellanby, and NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes are also in the mix to be hired by Florida.