New Pathogen Discovered on Campus
Worrying new “Basketball Mania” sweeping the campus
By Joseph Amir
Visiting Sports Reporter and Virologist
A worrying new pathogen has emerged on campus, afflicting both young and old alike. This virus has infected our athletics managers, the employees at the Office of College Communications, the student body, and even our very own President Richard Prune. This pathogen has the unusual effect of causing the host to forget about any sport that is not men’s basketball, causing them to elicit confused looks or devolve into mumbling, lilting sing-song when asked about any sport that does not feature Tommy Kuhse. This story was first uncovered after a mass, super-spreader party off campus, after which multiple guests of the aforementioned event were scheduled to be interviewed about men’s rugby. When asked who was the standout player of the team, Jeremy Kuzak responded “Tommy Kuhse, of course!” The interviewer then gently reminded him that he was speaking about the wrong team and that he meant rugby, to which Kuzak replied “what’s rugby?” At this point, the interviewer began to explain how the sport of rugby was played when the subject became irate and belligerent, and was subsequently removed from the room by Public Safety.
This pathogen is believed to be extremely dangerous, having already endangered the life of the Saint Mary’s College women’s softball coach. They sustained impact trauma to their cranium after forgetting what sport they were coaching, rushing the batter and were struck in self-defense. Additionally, several students have reportedly savagely attacked roommates after these individuals have claimed to play sports such as “volleyball,” “baseball” or “soccer.”
In an unrelated development, it is said that as a result of the fallout from this virus, Coach Randy Bennett will have his salary increased from roughly $700,000 to $10 million per year. In a major restructuring, President Prune has announced that he is cutting all sports programs except for men’s basketball, eliminating the performing arts, communications, and business departments, and pouring their funding into the budget for a 2nd, bigger stadium that is planned to replace the Saint Mary’s Chapel and Oliver Hall. This stadium, as a result of back-door dealings made by President Donahue before his departure, will be named Wells Fargo Stadium despite receiving no financial assistance from that bank.
Boxing Brothers Battle it Out
All the info you need about the upcoming SMC vs. SCU fight!
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
We all know that the first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club, but this news is just too juicy to keep a secret. A recent undercover investigation has uncovered an underground fight club at Saint Mary’s College. After living in disguise for over a month, I finally have the proof to expose the extracurricular activities of the Lasallian Brothers at SMC, and finally clarified what exactly goes down in the catacombs underneath the school: between prayers, and teaching and advising responsibilities, the brothers have formed a bare knuckle boxing ring.
Known for their black outfits and white collars, community members may be surprised to learn that the brothers are stripping off their shirts and shoes to pound their peers.
Chloe McPhloe, a sophomore theology major and Mission and Ministry Employee witnessed one of these fight nights last month while she was helping to prepare for a Solidarity Supper.
“I was looking through the closet for some paper towels and I saw a huddle of half naked men,” McPhloe said. “I looked closer and I realized that it was the brothers and that they were fighting each other. They were surprisingly agile for elderly men. I think I saw a roundhouse kick or two.”
A group of business majors have found a way to monetize the athletic prowess of Saint Mary’s Ministry and have set up a series of fights with the Jesuit brothers of nearby Catholic schools. One such fight has been planned to take place against the Santa Clara University Jesuit Brothers on April 7th.
Brother Geoffery Teffley says that he is stoked for the upcoming fight.
“It’s one thing to fight my brothers,” Teffley said. “But to fight the Jesuit brothers will be the culmination of centuries worth of rivalry.”
Many students are looking to place bets on the fight, with many betting on the SMC Lasallian Brothers having a sweeping victory. Watch parties are also being planned at local businesses with a particularly large one planned at Roundup. Students looking to witness the event live can buy tickets to the upcoming fight on the athletics website for a small donation of $6.66.
Embracing Pride and Purpose
Alumni and former basketball player Sie Chambers came back to Saint Mary’s as part of the 44 Days speaker series, telling his story of “finding purpose” in his career and postgraduate life.
By Ryan Ford
Sports Section Editor
Sie “Savage” Chambers came back to speak at his alma mater this past Wednesday, embodying the name he gave himself, “I’m a savage at everything I do and I wanted to embrace that.”
On February 23rd, Chambers spoke in front of Saint Mary’s students as the featured speaker in the 44 Days event, Embracing Pride and Purpose. The event followed a Q&A format, with Kinesiology professor and faculty co-chair for the BLM committee Robin Dunn facilitating the conversation.
Chambers attended Saint Mary’s from 2005-2009. While he went to Saint Mary’s originally as a standout high school basketball player, his mindset changed when he started working with social justice-oriented groups on campus, “When we think of the word savage we immediately think of negative connotations of primitive, uneducated people, but we also think of power. I think of fighting the system, fighting capitalism, fighting bureaucracy.”
Chambers was a redshirt player as a freshman and played on the women’s basketball team for overtwo2 years, but left halfway through his senior year season because his heart and soul were no longer in the game. “Sie went on to serve as Vice President of Diversity Outreach and Education, graduating with a BA in Sociology.”
During the 44 Days event, Chambers was asked how SMC is different now compared to when he attended the school, “I feel like during my time at SMC, the campus was becoming more receptive and starting to understand that this isn’t just a christian boy’s school anymore.”
Among many other occupations, Chambers currently works as a “community advocate, philanthropist, artist, yogi, coach, educator, plant-based chef, consultant, future farmer and 24/7 hustler.”
Switching his mindset from an athlete to an entrepreneur was hard, as Chambers had to figure out his identity without the community of being on a team, “Teams are forced families… sports were my outlet for being a people person.”
But Chambers was able to take what he learned as a dedicated athlete and apply it to other ventures in his life, learning life lessons from coach Paul Thomas, who has served as the head coach of SMC’s women’s basketball team since 2006, “I look at life competitively, strategies roll over from sports to business and life.”
When asked what advice he would give to current Saint Mary’s students, Sie “Savage” Chambers said, “I think it’s okay to set expectations and aspirations, but also just go easy on yourself and relax.”
(Image Courtesy Writer)
SMC Rugby beats BYU 39 to 28
In Saturday’s home Rugby game the Gaels stood their ground and held onto the lead in both halves.
By: Eden Llodrá
The Gaels went into their game this Saturday ranked no. 1 in the league, so sixth-ranked BYU knew what they were getting themselves into. Nonetheless, the team brought their A-game against their competitor.
In the first half and at the eighteen-minute mark, SMC had scored two tries and BYU one, making it 12 to 7. In the first half alone, SMC got four tries and BYU got three, making the halftime score 24 to 21. It was tight enough that BYU could have made a penalty goal to tie up the game, but the Gaels defense held their advantage.
At the start of the second half, Storti got a try making it 29 to 21. Just as much as the Gaels offense was aggressive and found breakthroughs in BYU’s defense, they also held a strong defensive line which put pressure on the attacking team.
With thirteen minutes left in the second half, the Gaels were ahead 36 to 21, consistently forcing their opponents to make errors and lose possession. With six minutes left BYU scored a try, yet missed the kick, leaving the score 36 to 28. In the final minutes of the game, SMC had possession and Keane made the penalty goal, asserting their advantage and winning 39 to 28.
After the game, Keane, who plays the fly-half position, said “We were pretty proud of the results. Beating BYU is never easy, they've always been a top 10 ranked team in the nation,” adding that “looking forward, we hope to continue what has so far been a successful season.”
Harden Traded for Simmons
Reaction and grades for both teams following the biggest trade of the NBA season. (Image Courtesy New York Post)
By Ryan Ford
Woah. This may be the blockbuster trade of all blockbuster trades.
Rumored in the days leading up to the NBA’s trade deadline, which occurred at 3 pm ET on February 10th, the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers swapped disgruntled stars James Harden and Ben Simmons in a trade-only hours before the deadline, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic (@ShamsCharania) and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (@WojESPN).
There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down team by team.
What they acquired: Guard/forward Ben Simmons, guard Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond, 76ers’ 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), 76ers’ 2027 first-round pick (top-8 protected)
Instant Reaction: Only 13 months ago, the Nets pulled off the first blockbuster trade to acquire James Harden from the Houston Rockets to team him up with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Many saw this as the new ‘Superteam’ of the NBA, and the tantalizing potential that this star power seemed capable of was obvious to everyone.
Now, it’s hard to view the move to get Harden from the Rockets as anything other than a failure. Over the last two seasons, the trio of Harden-Kyrie-KD played “a grand total of 16 games and 364 minutes together.” (Steve Aschburner of NBA.com) In those games, the Nets were 13-3, but they didn’t win a championship last season after injuries derailed Kyrie and Harden, and now the experiment will always be known as a big what-if.
On the bright side, the Nets were able to turn James Harden, who was clearly frustrated with his role in Brooklyn, into Ben Simmons, who has been an All-Star three times, an All-Defensive team member twice, and an All-NBA player once. He’s also only 25 years old, and is under contract through the 2024-25 season. Throw in sharpshooter Seth Curry and paint-menace Andre Drummond, and Nets fans have to be happy about the return, all things considered. Did I mention that they got draft capital on top of all of that? Grade: A
What they acquired: Guard James Harden, Forward Paul Millsap
Instant Reaction: I may be in the minority on this, but I think Ben Simmons is a great basketball player. But clearly, he and Philadelphia were not going to work long-term given everything that has happened since last season’s playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Ben Simmons was essentially an empty-roster spot, an expensive one at that, having not played a minute for the 76ers since he demanded a trade in the offseason. Meanwhile, center Joel Embiid is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, averaging a league-leading 29.4 points per game with shooting splits of 49.8/35.8/81.2. Despite Simmons’ holdout, Embiid has the Sixers only 2.5 games out of the first seed in the crowded Eastern Conference.
Add former MVP James Harden to the fold, and suddenly Philadelphia looks like a legitimate championship-contender. Granted, Harden hasn’t looked his best since the move to Brooklyn last season, and he is considerably older (32) and more expensive ($46,872,000 player-option for next season). But I think he will be more motivated than ever to silence his doubters and finally find some postseason success, and his fit alongside Embiid on paper is as good as any duo in basketball.
The Sixers are all-in. Their much-maligned GM Daryl Morey deserves credit for not settling and instead waiting for the best deal throughout this Simmons saga. High-risk but potentially high-reward. Grade: B+
Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing a court battle due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19 and lying about medical information in travel declaration form.
By Eden Llodrá
The Australian Open began Monday, January 17th of 2022, yet days prior the world’s No. 1- ranked men’s tennis player was in the midst of a visa court battle. Djokovic entered the country with a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption, and at first, the Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that he could stay in the country as long as he quarantined for four days in the Melbourne hotel.
According to CBS, Djokovic remained under the Australian Border Force (ABF) while he waited on a final decision for his visa. Djokovic had been under the impression that because he contracted COVID-19 in December, he was still eligible for an exemption.
On Sunday, November 17th, 24 hours before Djokovic was lined up to play the world No. 78, Miomir Kecmanovic, his visa was canceled and he faced deportation. Alex Hawke, the immigration minister was the one to rule Djokovic out of the country on the grounds that it could lead to an anti-vaccine sentiment and “civil unrest,” while also setting a bad example for Australians.
Whether or not Djokovic’s deportation could lead to a three-year ban from the country is still up in the air, as it would mean him missing the next two Australian Opens.
In an interview with CNN, Djokovic said, “I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister's decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” adding “I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
On January 17th, the day Djokovic would have been playing his first match in the Australian Open, he arrived back in Belgrade, Serbia. His deportation shows the importance that countries are not only placing on the vaccine and COVID-19 safety protocols but the idea that no matter who you are, the rules stand.
With the next grand slam tournament being in May, the question lies, is Djokovic going to be allowed to compete in the French Open?
Gaels Begin Conference Schedule
After finishing their non-conference schedule in dominating fashion, the Gaels look to improve upon their conference record as they embark upon a long slate of WCC competition.
By Ryan Ford
Saint Mary’s men's basketball team currently sits at an impressive 13-4, but due to the collective hot-start of the WCC, they have only the fourth-best overall record in the conference.
Gonzaga’s early dominance is no surprise, following a championship run last season and the addition of star freshman Chet Holmgren. Saint Mary’s bitter rival is ranked number one in the country. But surprising starts from the Dons and the Cougars have some analysts thinking of the WCC as one of the better conferences in the NCAA this year.
ESPN’s College Basketball analyst Joe Lunardi currently believes that there are four tournament-worthy teams in the West Coast Conference, according to his most recent NCAA Bracketology update. The Gaels find themselves in the “On The Bubble” section of the site, meaning that they will need to continue to rack up wins if they expect to be dancing in March.
Saint Mary’s first conference matchup of the season took place on January 8th against Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It’s always tough to start your conference slate on the road, and after a back-and-forth first half, the Gaels went home with a loss following a 52-43 final score. The Cougars did a great job of limiting bigman Matthias Tass’ touches in the paint, and their swarming defense forced the Gaels to shoot 29.3% from the field.
Randy Bennett’s squad righted the ship in their next game, however, in a 77-62 drubbing of Pepperdine on January 13th. Guard Logan Johnson paced both teams in points with 20, while Tass notched his second double-double in as many games with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. Perhaps most impressive is that this performance came on the road, their second consecutive road-conference game.
The Gaels went home to face Santa Clara on January 20th, winning 73-65, before a quick turnaround sent them to Loyola Marymount on the 22nd, a game that was televised on ESPNU.
Hopefully, Saint Mary’s offense will be able to stay hot and improve upon their 1-1 conference record, which has them tied with Santa Clara for 5th best in the conference. The Gaels are 13-0 when they score more than 60 points, compared to 0-4 when they are held below that threshold.
Getting Back in the Gael Spirit
How Spirit Squad, Sports Band, and Gael Force liven up home games, and what events are to be expected in the near future.
By Eden Llodrá
At Saint Mary’s, the new year is starting off with a women’s basketball home game on Tuesday, January 11th, and a men’s game on the 15th. As some games were recently canceled due to Covid-19, it is Gael Force’s focus now more than ever to prepare more fun upcoming events that follow the health and safety guidelines. Amanda Hofman, president of Gael Force, said one of their priorities right now is “getting people back into games since conference is coming up.”
The Gaels Sports Band and Spirit Team both add a lot of enthusiasm and support not only to the players but the student section as well. Some of the most recognizable songs that the band plays are “The Bells of Saint Mary’s” and “Fight song.” Director of the band, Dr. Montesinos and President Sara Mameesh schedule the rehearsals and put together the band’s repertoire for games. The band and Spirit Team will be supporting both the women’s and men's basketball teams throughout the duration of the West Coast Conference.
Some big events, such as the big game against Gonzaga on February 12th and the Australian Heritage nights, are things that students have to look forward to. Hoffman said, “Gael Force has been working with the athletic department to plan theme nights.” This way they are able to highlight key moments and get information directly from the coaching staff.
Make sure you show up to a basketball game this semester and show the Sports Band, Spirit Squad, and Gael Force your support! Go Gaels!
Klay Is Back
After consecutive season-ending injuries forced Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson to miss over two years of basketball, the 3x champion and fan favorite is set to make his much-anticipated return to the hardwood.
By Ryan Ford
The Golden State Warriors are one of the best teams in basketball, sporting a 29-9 record as we near the halfway mark of the 2021-22 campaign. Unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, they aren’t even at full strength yet.
On Sunday, January 9th, Klay Thompson is set to return to the court during Golden State’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It will have been 941 days since Klay last appeared in an NBA game, with that last game taking place during the 2019 NBA Finals.
The 5-time All-Star confirmed the return when he posted on Instagram, “IM SO EXCITED TO SEE YALL DUBNATION ! LETS GET IT.” The announcement comes after over 2 years of rehabbing significant injuries.
In game 6 of the 2019 NBA finals, Klay landed awkwardly after getting fouled attempting a fastbreak dunk. He grabbed his left knee instantly, rolling around on the ground grimacing in pain. Thompson would miss all the next season recovering from a torn ACL, but there was optimism that he would be back at 100% a little over a year later.
Unfortunately, to call what happened next a “setback” would be an understatement. Klay suffered another injury during a workout only weeks before the start of the 2020-21 season.
The diagnosis? A torn Achilles tendon, this time in his right leg. Another season was over before it began.
It is hard enough to come back from one major injury in professional sports, but suffering a second significant injury in 17 months is a career-ender for most. Luckily for basketball fans, Klay’s long-awaited return is finally here.
In what will undoubtedly be an emotional day for Thompson he will likely be playing on a minutes restriction. In his last full season back in 2018-19, Klay averaged 21.5 points per game while shooting 40.2% from beyond-the-arc and was named to the All-Defensive team.
All eyes will be on Klay’s return, and it is unclear if he will be able to pick up where he left off as one of the best two-way players in the NBA. But if Klay can get back to even 80% of what he was pre-injury, the Golden State Warriors led by MVP candidate Stephen Curry will become the prohibitive favorites in the West.
2021 NFL Season Award Predictions
Who will win each NFL award following the inaugural 17-game regular season?
By Ryan Ford
The regular season has come to a close, and you know what that means… Playoffs! At least for 14 teams. Sorry, Indianapolis Colts fans.
In the meantime, here is a look at each regular-season award and who I believe is most deserving of taking them home.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ja’Marr Chase, WR
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase likely clinched the award when he burned the Chiefs for 266 yards (a rookie record) on 11 catches with 3 TD’s in week 17.
Chase finishes the season with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, both the most among his fellow rookies. The former breaks Chad Johnson’s franchise record for most receiving yards in a single season.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons, LB
This one is a gimme. Parsons was drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys as a linebacker, but through this season the impressive rookie did a little bit of everything.
He finishes the season with 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a PFF grade of 88.5, the highest among linebackers.
Rookie of the Year: Mac Jones, QB
While not flashy, Mac Jones did for the New England Patriots this year was no small feat.
The 15th overall pick in this past draft, Jones was the only rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs and led all rookies in passing touchdowns (22) while nearly breaking the rookie record for completion percentage (67.6%).
Offensive Player of the Year: Cooper Kupp, WR
Cooper Kupp had a historic season and nearly made history in the Los Angeles Rams’ last game of the season. Unfortunately, the pro-bowl wide receiver fell 18 yards short of breaking the all-time receiving yards record.
Still, Kupp led the NFL in yards (1,947), receptions (145), and touchdowns (16), becoming only the fourth wide receiver to lead the league in all three since 1970.
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Watt, EDGE
5 weeks ago, you could’ve made a case for several different players to win this award. But in the last game of the season, T.J. Watt tied hall of famer Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record, notching 22.5 on the season. That should make this an easy call.
Perhaps even more impressive, Watt accomplished the feat by playing one fewer game than Strahan did in 2001 and helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers back to the playoffs.
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers won the NFL MVP last season and followed that up with another insanely efficient year statistically. He threw 37 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions while leading the Green Bay Packers to the number one seed for the second year in a row.
Whether or not you agree with his stance on the vaccine, there is no doubt that Rodgers was the best quarterback in football this season. If he takes home the award, Rodgers will become only the second player in NFL history to win MVP four separate times.
Other award predictions: Coach of the Year (Matt LaFleur), Comeback Player of the Year (Dak Prescott).
Ryan Ford '23,