BRYAN FAUST/Herald photoAfter nearly a month of fine-tuning in early-season tournaments, the Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team is ready to tip off the real season with the start of conference play.Wisconsin will travel to the Land of Lincoln this weekend for a match against Illinois Friday and Northwestern Saturday as Big Ten action gets underway.The Badgers have stressed the need for improvement ever since opening the season at home with the AVCA Volleyball Showcase. After dropping a match to top-ranked Texas and squeaking by unranked teams in later tournaments, several key areas to develop were exposed, such as passing and defense.”I think we’ve definitely picked up our serving,” senior floor captain Maria Carlini said. “We’ve been working really hard on our defense as well and it shows. We’ve been outdigging teams that we haven’t in the past.”Head coach Pete Waite, on the other hand, is still looking for his team to get better in a different facet of the game — one that doesn’t involve skill so much as energy.”We’ve definitely improved since the AVCA Showcase, but there are still things we need to work on,” Waite said. “We need to try to push hard right away to get the jump on teams. This is a very good come-from-behind team, but it’s not a situation I’d like us to be in.”This weekend will provide the Badgers with a test to see where they are in their progression since the start of the year as both Illinois and Northwestern have drastically improved since last year.In 2005, the Fighting Illini and Wildcats finished in the middle of the conference at seventh and sixth, respectively. Despite being predicted to finish at just about the same spots, the two figure to be the conference dark horses.Illinois acquired two transfers in the off-season — outside hitters Stephanie Alde from Northwestern and Amy Palash from Valparaiso — something Waite believes makes the Illini a respectable team instantly.”Illinois has two transfers coming so they automatically have two veteran players stepping into their lineup that would’ve been holes with inexperienced players,” Waite said. “That alone makes them stronger already.”Illinois also has a very balanced team with two players hitting more than four kills per game — middle blocker Vikki Brown and outside hitter Kayani Turner.Freshman Ashley Edinger, ranked as the No. 1 incoming libero in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com, has stepped in for Illinois and provided the team with some much-needed defense, averaging 5.03 digs per game.The toughest part about traveling to Champaign, Ill., will undoubtedly be adjusting to Huff Hall. Its student section is one of the largest in the nation, as 1,682 students packed in for one of last weekend’s games, more than half of the 3,129 total fans in the arena. Furthermore, Huff Hall’s court is a tad bit shorter than most others so there is much less space to serve.”Their crowd has gotten stronger every year, so it’s a tough place to play,” Waite said.As for Northwestern, the Wildcats are coming off an upset win over then-No. 24 Arizona at home, going on to win its Wildcat Classic last weekend in dramatic five-game fashion. NU is undefeated at home so far this season.”Northwestern definitely has improved from last year,” UW outside hitter Audra Jeffers said. “They’re doing a lot more out of the back row with three hitters out of the back, so that’s going to be huge with our blocking.”We’re really going to have to seal up the block across the net, get all three blockers in to stop that.”Defensively, Northwestern is somewhat similar to Illinois.”Both Illinois and Northwestern are really good defensive teams,” said Carlini. “The main thing with those teams is they’re really scrappy, they play great defense so we need to outdig them.”Either way, starting the Big Ten season out on the road will be difficult, but the Badgers are used to traveling lately. After opening the season at home with the AVCA Volleyball Showcase and the following InnTowner Invitational, Wisconsin has been away from the Field House ever since, going as far as San Diego last weekend.”You’ve got to start somewhere,” Waite said. “We’ve been on the road the last two weekends so this will be three in a row for us, and in ways I think we’re prepared for it because we’re just packing up the suitcases again and hitting the road. We’re ready to go.”
When head coach Clay Helton announced Sunday that true freshman JT Daniels would be taking over the helm as the Trojans’ starting quarterback for Saturday’s season opener against UNLV, he was taking a risk — albeit a calculated one. With a total of three collegiate games played — not started, but played — among the three rostered quarterbacks, the competition for the starting job among redshirt sophomore Matt Fink, redshirt freshman Jack Sears and Daniels started on a rather even playing field. The one wrinkle thrown into that situation was the fact that only a year ago, Daniels was supposed to be entering his senior year of high school while Fink and Sears began fall camp.For Daniels, just about all the tangibles and intangibles of a Power Five starting quarterback are there. Throwing for over 4,100 yards with 52 touchdowns in his final season at Mater Dei? Check. Collecting the best possible personal and team accolades possible in winning a state and national championship while being honored as the 2017-18 Gatorade High School Male Athlete of the Year? Check. Showing, by all accounts, wisdom well beyond his years and a capacity for the limelight that has become a necessity as the USC signal caller? Check.Yet, the inherent risk lies in a player who has only formally practiced with the team for a few months. Learning the playbook, creating chemistry with upperclassmen wideouts such as redshirt sophomore Tyler Vaughns and junior Michael Pittman: These are skills that can only come with time. In his eyes, however, Helton feels that Daniels’ time has come. His maturity is the quality that shines through more than any other.“As you can imagine JT was excited when we let him know,” Helton said. “But his uncanny maturity kept him focused on what is next.”As is with the theme of Daniels’ college career so far, the quarterback enters rarified territory becoming just the second true freshman to start a USC season opener since Matt Barkley in 2009. In fact, Daniels is just one of four to ever do so at USC, joining Barkley, Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer and Cotton Bowl champion Rob Johnson.The biggest lingering question about Daniels is his ability to come in and ease the pain of transitioning from an all-time USC great in Sam Darnold to, well, anyone else. If anything, Daniels is a barometer of what kind of program the Trojans are at the moment. In the early 2000s, USC was able to replace Palmer with Matt Leinart, a Heisman trophy winner and two-time national champion. John David Booty, who won two Rose Bowls, would follow Leinart. Compare this to the years that would follow in which many talented, highly touted quarterbacks would fail to maintain the same level of excellence, and it leaves the Trojans in a state of flux.As much as Daniels will be interesting to watch for his own growth as a player, it will be even more appealing to watch what he does to continue Darnold’s legacy of success. Who knows? Maybe after all the fire Helton has come under since being hired two years ago, it turns out he’s just as great a quarterback whisperer as Pete Carroll. Certainly, it will take a few national championships with some Heisman trophies sprinkled in before we can properly compare the two, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.In terms of what will be seen from Daniels now, it is unreasonable to have the same expectations for him that fans and media alike had of Darnold a year ago. Daniels, as good as he may be, is unlikely to be playing for a national championship this year. He may not even play for a Rose Bowl; currently the sights are set on taking the season one week at a time. Unlike Darnold, Daniels is in a situation where he can truly grow. First, while he has just come out of a quarterback competition in camp, he doesn’t have a five-star junior like Max Browne breathing down his neck. Second, Daniels gets real game action and plenty of practice reps to work with the first team offense, luxuries not truly afforded to Darnold until Week 4 of his magical 2016 campaign. Lastly, Daniels is a true freshman. At the very least, he will have a full three years to work in the USC system, establish his play style, and, even, bring USC back to the level it was at heading into 2017.For now, Daniels and Helton are just worried about UNLV, and they’ll let the rest of their bright future together fall into place.Jimmy Goodman is a junior majoring in communication. His column, “The Point After,” runs every other Tuesday.
Unikrn, the dedicated esports bookmaker and creators of UnikoinGold (“UKG”) the crypto token has partnered with Dash Radio to launch Unikrn Radio. The channel, Unikrn Radio, will focus on cryptocurrency and esports content that comes from Unikrn. The show will go out weekly with 60-minute segments and will get underway on January 29th, at 2pm PT. The series will be hosted by Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood and Kingsley Edwards, the VP of Business Development at Unikrn and a long-time Bitcoin advocate and user. Each week the two will be joined by special guests and experts and will ask members of the Discord community to contribute questions when and where required. The Dash Radio listeners will also become eligible for UKG giveaways, as well as exclusive first-access to “news and a cornucopia of content” for crypto and esports enthusiasts. Rahul Sood, Unikrn’s CEO and the first show’s co-host, said, “Whether it’s letting gamers earn UnikoinGold by playing the world’s best competitive video games or creating the world’s greatest esports brand, we are obsessed with exceptionalism. We dive deep into everything we do, which is why we are amplifying our reach through Dash Radio’s considerable listenership. We want everyone to know what’s happening in crypto and esports. What excites me most is knowing that nobody else could do it like Unikrn can, and it’s pretty damn awesome to be working with Dash to blow it up.”DJ Skee (Scott Keeney), Dash Radio founder, said, “Dash radio was created with the vision to bring the best curated listening and discovery experiences to fans without radio towers or subscription fees. These aren’t soulless computer playlists, it’s the content you need, brought to you by the selectors you love. We’re excited for Unikrn to extend this offering to their audience of esports fans and UnikoinGold users, and we’re proud to bring their expertise to our millions of listeners — many of whom have requested a show just like this!”The list of eligible devices for Dash Radio includes: Amazon Alexa, iOS, Android and Amazon Fire mobile devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, Pluto TV, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, AT&T Drive, MirrorLink, aftermarket products from Pioneer, Bosch, Clarion, Harman and cars from most of the world’s major manufacturers such as GM, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Acura, Chrysler, Honda, Maserati, Mazda, Porsche, Scion, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, Buick, Jaguar, Land Rover and more.Esports Insider says: Interesting move from Unikrn as they move onto radio. IT’s clear that the team are busy adding a lot to their content and other elements of the portfolio. Congratulations to both parties – we’ll make sure to have a listen.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Sandoval, who is working on a tight pitch count late in his rookie season, was pulled after allowing three runs in 3-1/3 innings, on 61 pitches.It was no surprise that Bieber got the better of this matchup, because he’s enjoying a breakthrough season in which he was the All-Star Game MVP. He is now the best starter for a contending Indians team.“He’s got good stuff,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “A good curveball, a good slider. He uses his fastball well. He uses it up in the zone. He’s got good stuff. He’s a good pitcher. It’s not just the Angels he’s pitching well against.”Ironically, when the two were toiling for their respective high schools, Sandoval was the one who got more attention.A 2015 graduate of Mission Viejo, Sandoval had accepted a scholarship to USC. A couple of years earlier, Bieber got little attention in his senior year at Laguna Hills. He had to settle for a spot as a walk-on at UC Santa Barbara. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Sandoval is on a tight pitch count because the Angels are trying to get him to the end of the season without exceeding last year’s workload by too much.Sandoval has thrown 2,060 pitches this season, including 536 in the majors. Last year he threw 1,739 pitches the entire season, all in the minors. He threw 122-1/3 innings last season, and this season he’s at 109-1/3.The Angels trailed 3-1 after Sandoval left, and the Indians padded the score with Yu Chang’s three-run homer against Justin Anderson in the sixth.Jared Walsh hit his first big league homer to cut the deficit to 6-2 in the eighth. After the game, Walsh said he still hadn’t gotten the ball, which landed in the rocks and waterfall.“Apparently it’s in the pond right now up on the rocks, so it’s soaking wet,” Walsh said. “I’ll probably give it to my mom and whatever she does with it, she’ll do with it.” Although neither could remember for sure, they each thought they had pitched opposite ends of a doubleheader against each other’s teams in 2013, when Sandoval was a sophomore and Bieber was a senior.From Laguna Hills, Bieber blossomed during three years with the Gauchos, becoming a fourth-round pick of the Indians in 2016.This year, his second in the big leagues, the 24-year-old won the All-Star Game MVP after striking out the side in his only inning of the game, which was played in Cleveland. After holding the Angels to one run in seven innings on Monday, Bieber is now 14-7 with a 3.17 ERA after his 10th consecutive quality start. He also leads the majors with three complete games and two shutouts.Bieber, who grew up an Angels fan, said pitching at Angel Stadium was “something I had been looking forward to for quite a long time.” When “Calling all Angels” played while Bieber was warming up, he said it “brought back a lot of memories.”Bieber had dozens of raucous fans – “at least 150 that we know of,” he told reporters – repeatedly chanting his name from a section behind the visitors’ dugout. Bieber’s parents organized tickets for much of the turnout, which included supporters from his hometown and his UCSB days.Sandoval also grew up near Angel Stadium, but he took a much different path to get back here.Sandoval ended up skipping out on USC after the Houston Astros drafted him in the 11th round but gave him a $900,000 bonus. He was traded to the Angels for Martín Maldonado in July 2018, in the midst of his breakthrough minor league season. He reached the big leagues just over a year later.Now, the Angels can only hope that he will become as good as Bieber. Although the 22-year-old so far has a 5.28 ERA in just over a month in the big leagues, Ausmus sees encouraging signs. He compared him to Clayton Kershaw, who came up when Ausmus was finishing his career with the Dodgers.“You can tell when he’s on the mound he has this fire in him,” Ausmus said. “He just wants to get the hitter out, which is tough to teach. I don’t know if he was a Kershaw fan growing up, but he reminds me a little of Kershaw with the makeup and delivery. I saw Kersh when he was a very young player, just like Sandoval.”On Monday night he gave up a run in the first on a Yasiel Puig soft ground ball that slipped down the first base line. In the second, he issued a walk and then threw a 95 mph fastball down the middle to Jason Kipnis, who blasted it for a two-run homer.Sandoval (0-3) had a stretch in which he retired seven in a row, before getting pulled after a one-out single in the fourth.“He had a little trouble throwing strikes the first inning-plus, but he settled down,” Ausmus said. “He still competes as well as anyone out there. The stuff is good. He’s on a pitch-count now, so he can’t go deep in the game, but I didn’t think he looked bad out there at all.”Related Articles PreviousAngels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, a Mission Viejo High product, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Indians at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Cleveland Indians’ Yasiel Puig watches his RBI-single against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsCleveland Indians’ Francisco Lindor celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a single by Yasiel Puig during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber, a former Laguna Hills High standout, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Angels at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, a Mission Viejo High product, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Indians at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)The Indians’ Jason Kipnis hits a two-run home run during the second inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Brian Goodwin #18 of the Los Angeles Angels jumps and watches the ball go over the center field wall on a home run by Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians during the second inning of the MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Cleveland Indians’ Jason Kipnis celebrates in the dugout after a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Pitcher Patrick Sandoval #43 of the Los Angeles Angels throws to first base on a ground ball back to the pitcher by Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians during the second inning of the MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols celebrates after a home run against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, watches a foul ball during the third inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after fouling a pitch off his foot during the third inning of the MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber, a former Laguna Hills High standout, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Angels at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Pitcher Patrick Sandoval #43 of the Los Angeles Angels leaves the game during the top of the fourth inning of the MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Yu Chang #2 of the Cleveland Indians swings at a pitch that he hit for a three-run home run during the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Cleveland Indians’ Yu Chang watches his three-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Yu Chang #2 of the Cleveland Indians watches his hit go for a three-run home run during the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Cleveland Indians’ Yu Chang celebrates in the dugout after his three-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 09: Manager Brad Ausmus of the Los Angeles Angels (left) takes relief pitcher Adalberto Mejia #49 out of the game during the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 09, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber is congratulated in the dugout after being removed from Monday’s game against the Angels after the seventh inning. It was the first big-league start for the Laguna Hills High product at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, a Mission Viejo High product, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Indians at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)NextShow Caption1 of 20Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, a Mission Viejo High product, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Indians at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)ExpandANAHEIM — Although Patrick Sandoval and Shane Bieber pitched for Orange County high schools less than three miles apart, overlapping for a couple of years, Sandoval said he never met Bieber.“I don’t really know him at all,” Sandoval said. “I do know he’s a stud.”Bieber, who went from Laguna Hills High to being an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians, oupitched Sandoval, a Mission Viejo High product, to send the Angels to a 6-2 loss on Monday night.In Bieber’s first outing at Angel Stadium as a big leaguer, he pitched in front of a vocal group of friends and family and held the Angels to one run in seven innings, with eight strikeouts and no walks. Bieber retired 17 of his final 18 hitters, and his cheering section serenaded him throughout the night. He even took a road curtain call after finishing the seventh inning with his eighth consecutive out. Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error