Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 ABOARD USS MIDWAY, SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Mike Hopkins was the kid in the candy shop.Syracuse’s 42-year-old assistant coach scampered around the court as spritely as the players — some of which are teenagers — he instructs. He took jump shots on the flight deck of the USS Midway, posed for photos with his fellow assistants Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara and basked in a moment he had never experienced before.“This is sweet,” Hopkins yelled with a smile a few minutes after the Orange took the court. “Are you sh*tting me?”All around him, the reaction was the same. From the moment the Syracuse players and coaches stepped onto the aircraft carrier just after 11 a.m. PST on Saturday, it was a barrage of smiles, picture taking and countless variations of the expression “this is so cool.”On Sunday, No. 9 Syracuse will take part in the Battle on the Midway against No. 20 San Diego State, and from Jim Boeheim to former walk-on Nolan Hart, all were entranced by the amazing spectacle that is basketball on a ship during their practice on Saturday. A game that was almost canceled twice — one for lack of sponsors and again because of weather concerns — appears as though it will run smoothly according to the revised schedule and create a unique new chapter in Syracuse basketball’s storybook.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think it’s great for these players to be in this venue,” Boeheim, Syracuse’s head coach, said. “I’m happy to be here. I think it’s great. It’s a life experience that these guys will be able to think about for the rest of their lives.”The cell phones emerged for tweets and pictures as soon as the Orange exited the bus and climbed the gangway up to the flight deck of the USS Midway. With headphones draped around their shoulders, players and coaches snapped pictures of the hoop, ship and each other.Hopkins, a California native, asked McNamara to take a picture of him and his father before boarding the ship. And once he reached the flight deck where the court is located, Hopkins called the experience “something you’d never do in your life.”With playing outdoors comes the risk of weather-related issues. But Boeheim said on Saturday that the team’s top priority from day one was to strive for the game to be played on the boat.He said San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher, a longtime friend, agreed with him, and they were both pleased that moving the game from Friday to Sunday was feasible.“We’re thrilled to be here,” Boeheim said. “Obviously it was a little more difficult than we had planned. But I think when we saw that the rain was going to be here yesterday, we made, I think, a very difficult decision to move things around a little bit, and I think it will turn out good.”The difficult decision had more to do with the USS Midway Museum than either of the universities involved. With the game being played on Sunday, Veterans Day, it means the museum must close down on what its marketing director, Scott McGaugh, called “the last day of the year we would ever want to close.”Boeheim said on Saturday he hoped members of the military and their families could still tour the ship in the morning before the game, but that won’t be the case. The museum is closed for the full day due to the 4 p.m. tipoff.But he was quick to thank the members of the military — both locally in Syracuse and across the country — for their services, saying these games on aircraft carriers are really to honor those men and women.“I don’t think we can do too much to draw attention to what the military has done for this country, what the military means to us as individuals,” he said.Without them, the game that will surely last in the minds of Boeheim and his players wouldn’t be possible. Michael-Carter Williams called it “a moment to cherish,” and DaJuan Coleman described the overall experience as crazy.So as the team practiced atop a ship so mammoth it’s been dubbed a “city at sea” but whose ceilings are so low most of the players must crouch in their locker room, the allure of basketball on a boat was imparted on Syracuse for the very first time.“I can’t believe we’re on a ship though,” Coleman said. “This is crazy.”[email protected] Comments
After the Wisconsin football team dropped its lead and the game to Nebraska, the only victory of Saturday night came back in Madison, where the Wisconsin men’s soccer team topped Cleveland State by a score of 2-1. Although it was their 10th game of the season, the Badgers victory unveiled several firsts for the season.Badgers finally grab first home victoryWisconsin entered the match holding an 0-2-1 record at the McClimon Soccer Complex but was finally able to win its first home affair in front of a crowd of 545. Although it was the smallest home crowd of the season, Wisconsin finally settled in to its home stadium and finished the job for what head coach John Trask called the Badgers’ “truest fans.”“Considering that Wisconsin football was playing, it was a pretty impressive crowd,” Trask said. “Obviously we didn’t have the student section like we usually do, but there were a lot of youth and good soccer people from town [that came out].” It took four games to win one at home, but the Badgers have yet to reach the halfway point of their home schedule. Wisconsin still has five games to make it a very successful season within the confines of McClimon. The Badgers have beaten ranked opponents at home in each of the last two seasons – No. 22 Penn State in 2010 and No. 5 Indiana in 2011.Junior captain Chris Prince realized – in his 49 games of experience – if the Badgers are to be successful, it is rather important to win games at home. Following the victory, he said he sees significant room for the Badgers to improve in that aspect.“Playing at home should be like your home turf,” Prince said. “[Before the game] we hadn’t gotten a single win yet, which shouldn’t happen. We need to turn that around and start making this a tough place to play at.”UW gains adjusts to playing with leadOnly twice this season had the Badgers held a first half lead, and only one of those occasions ended in a Wisconsin victory.“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been down a goal this season,” Prince said following the victory.And while they’ve trailed at some point in almost every game, the Badgers have done a good job of rallying from deficits that, if not to win the game, at least force overtime.Playing with a lead was a situation Wisconsin was certainly not used to, but one the team greeted Saturday night.Senior forward Jerry Maddi opened up the scoring in the first half with his first career goal in the 29th minute, and midfielder Drew Conner tacked on another goal just before halftime.Cleveland State attacked throughout the second half and eventually connected with a late goal in the 86th minute. Given the Vikings’ ability to get close to scoring at the end, John Trask was pleased with the lead the offense was able to build.“You wouldn’t want to be leaving that team in the game at 0-0 in the second half,” Trask said. “It would have been a really tricky game at that point.”Conner gets back on track in new positionConner’s goal in the 43rd minute was his first goal since the season-opener against Memphis and came at a new position for him.The freshman is used to playing center midfielder for the Badgers, but a recent change has moved Prince into that position and Conner to the right midfielder spot. Playing at center-mid for most of the season, Conner noted most of his scoring opportunities came in rebound situations, making the opportunity to score more often something he particularly enjoys about his new position.“Going into this game and the new position, I knew that I wanted to score,” Conner said. “I knew that there would be more opportunities out there for me.”His goal wound up being the difference-maker for the Badgers in the single-goal decision. Prince touched the ball into the box to Blake Succa before Succa crossed it to Conner. The freshman finished off the play, squeaking the ball under the defender’s legs and the goalie’s outstretched arms.Some may figure it to be a luckier goal than most, but given his scoring drought, Conner wouldn’t have it any other way.“I don’t think it was lucky,” Conner said. “I’ll take it. A goal is a goal.”Follow Sean on Twitter
Returnee Andre Ayew has admitted it was difficult for him to stay away from the Black Stars for six months.“It was something I missed a lot. I learnt how it is important to play for the country,” Ayew exclusively told Joy Sports.The Olympique Marseille ace took a temporary break from international football in February after he was dropped from the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations squad.The 23-year-old failed to meet the reporting time for pre-tournament camping in Abu Dhabi, UAE.He later announced his resignation after claiming he had a strained relationship with some management members.Ayew announced his availability two weeks ago and was named in Kwesi Appiah’s 26-man squad for the crucial assignment against Zambia in a final Group D 2014 World Cup qualifier. “What happened has happened. It is passed and now we are going forward to win the game,” he said.