AUM Baseball and Softball Make Huge Splashes Under First-year Head Coaches

 

softball and baseball

Two teams, two ideally similar situations and two fantastic seasons under their belt.

 

For the AUM baseball and softball teams, 2015 marked the beginning of a new era. For the first time in either program’s history, they began their 2015 campaign without the head coaches that helped start up their respected sport.

 

 

The softball team parted ways with head coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson in the fall of 2014, after six successful seasons. Steiner-Wilcoxson got the program off of the ground and running during her short tenure at AUM, posting a record of 189-85-2 in the team’s first six years of existence.

 

Her biggest accomplishment undoubtedly was leading the team to its first ever NAIA National Championship in 2014. That team boasted a record of 44-7, while going a perfect 16-0 at home and 25-1 in Southern States Athletic Conference play.

 

Fast forward to 2015, and you find the Lady Warhawks in a very similar place. Only this time, leading them to their second consecutive national championship is first-year head coach Eric Newell.

 

Newell, who posted a stellar 254-121 record at William Baptist College prior to AUM, led his 2015 Lady Warhawks team to a nearly identical season record as the year before. They finished with an overall record of 46-9, a home record of 18-1 and a Southern States Athletic Conference play record of 24-2.  Even more identical to last season was that Newell was also able to help lead this team to a second consecutive national championship in only its seventh year of existence.

 

The baseball team was also given the task of having to replace the only coach the program has ever known this past season. Long-time head coach Q.V. Lowe retired following the 2014 season, leaving behind him a legacy like no other. The NAIA Hall of Fame coach amassed over 1,100 wins during his 28 year stint at AUM, while leading the team to three NAIA World Series appearances.

 

The AUM Athletic Department didn’t have to look very far for a replacement, however. They hired Marty Lovrich, who served as an assistant under Coach Lowe for 22 years.

 

Prior to being named AUM’s head baseball coach, Lovrich was the head coach at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia for two seasons. In his two seasons with the Hornets, Lovrich compiled an 85-37 mark, including a 37-22 record in Southern States Athletic Conference play. Lovrich led the 2014 Hornets to a SSAC tournament championship and made an appearance in the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.

 

Lovrich’s first season as the head coach for the Warhawks saw lots of success. He led his team to an overall record of 40-18, including a SSAC record of 25-5, which earned them the title of regular season conference champs and earned Lovrich the SSAC Coach of the Year Award.

 

In addition to winning the regular season conference championship, Lovrich led this team to a SSAC Conference Tournament Championship, which ultimately landed them a spot in the NAIA national tournament.

 

All of this immediate success from both first-year head coaches may have come as a surprise to some, but AUM Sports Information Director Tim Lutz knew that a successful season from both teams was a realistic possibility prior to the season’s start.

 

“Both of our teams had lofty expectations coming into the season,” Lutz said in a recent interview. “We knew that we had a lot of pieces coming back with softball, we also knew that we had a new head coach in Marty [Lovrich] who had a taste of what it’s like to get to the World Series in Idaho last season at Southern Poly. We knew that both of those programs, even though they experienced a head coaching change, were focused and dedicated to succeeding this season.”

 

Lutz went on to praise both coaches for making the transition from one head coach to another so easy on the players.

 

“There’s an adjustment period from a personnel standpoint, and there’s an adjustment period from a head coaching standpoint,” Lutz said. “I think that both of these programs had a relativity seamless transition with the changes in personalities and the changes in philosophies at the head of their programs. Ultimately, you can say that, at the end of the day, that’s what led to both of these teams being so successful this season.”

 

The accomplishments that both of these teams achieved this past season were nothing short of exceptional. The fact that they could string together so many victories with head coaches who were still getting acclimated to coaching at AUM makes it even more impressive.

 

As for future ramifications, you’ve got to believe that after a few seasons and recruiting classes under their belts, both coaches should have no trouble being able to put together one successful season after another. Only time will tell, but as for now the future looks very bright for the AUM baseball and softball programs.

 

 

Contact the Writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

Photo courtesy of AL.com

Read More

Recapping National Signing Day 2015

signing day

 

By Jacob Horton

National Signing Day 2015 marked another great year for the state of Alabama, as both Alabama and Auburn received commitments from many sought-after high school football players.

 

For the University of Alabama, National Signing Day 2015 officially made it the fifth straight year in which Nick Saban has put together the number one recruiting class in the nation, according to two of the four major recruiting websites.

 

According to ESPN.com, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2015 recruiting class contains 25 commits. Of those 25 commits, 19 are ranked in ESPN’s top 300 high school players in the nation. Standouts from this class include: The number 2 ranked pro-style quarterback Blake Barnett, the number 1 ranked wide receiver in Calvin Ridley, the number 2 ranked running back Damien Harris and the number 3 and 4 ranked cornerbacks in Kendall Sheffield and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

 

Saban has always prided himself in being able to recruit the best players in the nation. His elite recruiting skills have almost singlehandedly placed him atop the Mount Rushmore of college football coaches. His process has turned the University of Alabama into the premiere college football program, and it all starts with recruiting. You’re not going to win without the best players, and they aren’t going to want to come to your program if you don’t win games. It all comes full circle, and winning breeds winning.

 

Auburn University also experienced their share of success this recruiting season. They were able to put together the seventh best recruiting class in nation, while making some big splashes on signing day.  Of their 27 players signed, 12 of them belong to the ESPN 300.

 

Of all their signees, nobody stirred up more conversation than Byron Cowart. The 6’4”, 258 pound defensive end from Seffner, Florida, headlines Auburn’s 2015 recruiting class as the number one high school football player in the nation. Cowart’s decision to commit to Auburn University on National Signing Day made headlines across the nation, putting an exclamation mark on Auburn’s 2015 class.  His presence alone helped bolster Auburn’s recruiting class from being ranked outside of the top 10 nationally to seventh in the nation.

 

In addition to signing Cowart, Auburn reeled in commitments from three other big names. The Tigers landed linebacker Jeff Holland, wide receiver Ryan Davis and cornerback Carlton Davis. Each of these three players were labeled as four-star recruits, meaning that they could have an immediate impact on Auburn’s success next season.

 

Give credit to Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Ever since he joined the team on Dec. 12, there has been a level of excitement that they haven’t felt at Auburn since their national championship season in 2010. He brought in loads of talent to the University of Florida while at the helm, and is already making strides in his first couple months at Auburn.  Muschamp’s presence on the coaching staff served as the x-factor this recruiting season, and look for it to only improve Auburn’s chances of landing big-name talent as next season unfolds.

 

National Signing Day proved that the state of Alabama still rules college football, both on and off the field. Even though a team from the state didn’t play for a national title for the first time in six years this season, it shouldn’t be much longer before the state is once again represented in NCAA championship game. Look for the success of these two teams to continue as long as they keep bringing in the big-time recruits.

Photo Courtesy of endzonenews.com

 

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

Read More

Super Bowl XLIX has Historic Potential

aaaaaaa
By Jacob Horton

Regardless of the outcome on Feb. 1 when the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks square off in Super Bowl XLIX, we will all witness history taking place. A win for either team on Super Bowl Sunday will result in something that sportswriters and fellow members of the media will be talking about for years to come.

 

If the New England Patriots come away victorious on Super Bowl Sunday, it will mark their fourth championship in franchise history. That would be good enough to place them tied with the Green Bay Packers for third all-time in Super Bowl wins.

 

From a coaching standpoint, Bill Belichick could accomplish a major career milestone with a win next Sunday. For Belichick, he can move into a first place tie with the late Pittsburg Steeler’s coaching legend Chuck Noll for most Super Bowl wins as a head coach.

 

Aside from a few bumps in the road, with “Spygate” in 2007 and the more recent “Deflategate,” Bill Belichick has established himself as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history during his 14-year tenure in New England. The frequently hooded football mastermind had only one losing season, coming in the year 2000, which was Belichick’s first year with the organization. Therefore, the result of Super Bowl XLIX will not be a make-or-break for his career, but a win certainly wouldn’t make Belichick’s résumé any less impressive.

 

For New England’s world-renowned quarterback Tom Brady, this Super Bowl could put him into a club with elite company. A win would place Brady into a three-way tie with NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for most Super Bowl wins as a starting quarterback. If Brady plays well enough to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, he would again be rewriting the history books. A Super Bowl MVP award next Sunday would be the third of his career, which is another record he could share with Joe Montana.

 

While Brady has put together quite a career in New England, this game will no doubt have a huge impact on his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks. A win would give Brady an overall record of 4-2 in Super Bowls. A loss would drop Brady to 3-3 and cancel out his winning record in the big game. The fact that he’s been to these many Super Bowls is impressive, so this is a statistic that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

 

As for the Seattle Seahawks, a victory would result in them being crowned NFL champions in back-to-back seasons. This is a feat that has not been accomplished in over ten years. “In a league featuring more parody than a “Weird Al” Yankovic album, the Seattle Seahawks managed to once again navigate their way through cutthroat NFC opponents. While teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers had huge offensive numbers this season, the Seahawks stayed true to the adage that “defense wins championships.”

 

Although both teams were successful enough to earn the number one overall seed in their division for the playoffs, this is not your typical Super Bowl matchup. Will Brady, Belichick and company mark their place on the list of all-time greats, or will the Seattle Seahawks accomplish something as a team that we may not see again for a long time? Both teams have a chance to leave us with a game filled with memories of a lifetime.

 

 

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

Photo Courtesy of nfl.com

 

Read More

Big Ten Powers, Internal Cannibalism Biggest Threats to SEC Dominance

urban meyer

By Jacob Horton

As we set our eyes on the 2015 college football season, SEC fans have a few reasons to be worried. Two things next season could end up costing the conference a shot at its first national championship in the College Football Playoff era. Big name coaches in the Big Ten Conference and the weekly bashings handed out to each other in conference play help drive down the SEC’s championship potential.

 

With the recent hire of Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan, the list of big-name head coaches in the Big Ten can stand toe-to-toe with the more prominent coaches of the SEC. While they’re not going to dethrone the almighty SEC simply by showing up, the players that these coaches are going to put on the field over the next several years will make up teams that can contend for a spot in the playoff.

 

Headlining the list of these big name coaches is Urban Meyer, the man currently sitting atop the college football world. All Meyer has done in his three years at Ohio State is post an overall record of 37-3. Nobody was really giving Meyer any credit, however, due to the Big Ten’s lack of parity within the conference. This season, which was arguably one of the greatest single-season coaching jobs ever, made people appreciate just how brilliant of a coach Meyer is.

 

After Meyer, you have Mark Dantonio at Michigan State and James Franklin at Penn State. Dantonio has been at the helm of one of the most consistent college football teams in the country, and lead his MSU program to four 11 win seasons in the past five years. Franklin hasn’t been at Penn State long enough for us to make assessments, but we do know that he’s a winner. Franklin is an excellent recruiter. He gave life to a Vanderbilt program that hardly ever saw success on the football field. It shouldn’t be long before Franklin has Penn State competing for a national title.

 

The wild card in all of this is Jim Harbaugh. We all know that he can be successful at the college level, so the real question is how quickly he can turn around this Michigan football team. The athletic department and fans of the University of Michigan are hoping sooner rather than later, but  being able to land Harbaugh as your next head football coach should be enough to keep them happy until they are back to their winning ways.

 

However, the biggest threat to the SEC’s chances of bringing home a national title next season will be none other than themselves. We were almost a witness of that this past season, as it took a game-winning fourth quarter drive against Arkansas, an overtime thriller against LSU and a record-setting Iron Bowl for Alabama to make it out of its schedule with only one loss.

 

Week after week, somebody significant was either defeated or played tough by a team of a lesser ranking within the SEC. Top-tier SEC programs danced in and out of trouble and often times did not make it out alive. Teams such as Auburn and South Carolina, by whom many were picked to win their respected divisions, suffered multiple losses from teams they were expected to beat by double digits.

 

With lesser SEC programs vastly improving, look for the gap between the best and worst SEC teams to shrink. For the most part, all of the teams in the SEC are going to be able to compete with one another. Don’t be surprised if we are in a scenario this upcoming season like the one we were in this past season, with everybody beating up on each other.

 

This is both good and bad for the SEC.  You’re going to see great games, but if we are stuck with a two or three-loss SEC champion that doesn’t qualify for the College Football Payoff, what does the conference have to show for all of its great teams? If the SEC is once again unable to reclaim a national championship this upcoming season, there is a strong possibility that it’ll be because they were outshined by a Big Ten head coach or fell victim to their own SEC brethren.

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

AUM Women’s Basketball Hitting on All Cylinders

 

aum womens basketball (1)
AUM basketball team.

By Jacob Horton

The 2014-2015 AUM Lady Warhawks basketball team is off to a great start this season with an overall record of 8-3 through their first 11 games. Through their first four Southern States Athletic Conference games, they posted a record of 3-1.

This fast start has the followers of AUM Women’s hoops thinking that this could be a season they can compete for a few postseason accolades. While all the hype is good for the program, Head Coach Dan Davis is still focusing on the short-term goals for now.

“Our main goal is to just get better,” Coach Davis said in a recent interview. “The castle in the sky is to win your conference championship and a national championship, but you can’t do that if you’re not doing what you need to do every day to build those winning habits and championship habits. I have the confidence in this team that they could compete for that conference championship.”

Through those first 11 games, the Lady Warhawks are averaging 78 points per game, while only giving up 58. As a team they are shooting a modest 46 percent from the field and 64 percent from the free throw line. Four of their starting five are double figures in points with Montgomery native Jatoria Carter leading the way with 12 points per game.

Each of the Lady Warhawk’s SSAC victories has ended in a blowout. Thus far, they have beaten Martin Methodist, William Carey University and Blue Mountain College by an average of just over 34 points per game.

This team can put up points in a plethora of ways, which has led to scores of 84, 93 and even 108, the latest against Selma University on Nov. 11. Coach Davis credits his team’s ability to play balanced basketball as why they’ve had success on offense.“I think there’s a good balance on the floor,” Davis said. “We can score inside, we can hit the three-pointer and we’ve got a couple of point guards that can push the tempo. Part of it it’s the chemistry,” he added.

Each of the five starters brings her own unique set of skills that contribute to the team’s success. Seniors Tina Odume and Gabby Brown serve as the team’s low post players and can cause huge mismatches with their scoring and rebounding abilities. Sophomore Kaylan Withrow and Senior Shanice Burnette are fierce sharpshooters that consistently hits three-pointers. Senior Jatoria Carter runs the offense and can also drain some shots when she is called upon.

Of the 17 basketball players on the Lady Warhawk’s roster, 10 are used on a regular basis. Coach Davis likes to rotate anywhere from five to six players off of the bench at any point during the game, and their contributions have been vital to the team’s success this season.  The depth that this team features is definitely something that Coach Davis says will benefit them in the long run.

“I think that’s a huge factor right now,” Davis said. “Now to know that, hey, we play a pretty strong 9-11 deep right now… I think depth has been a huge, huge part, because it allows you to go in and have the confidence in those girls we’re putting in there.”

This season could be a big season for the AUM Lady Warhawks. The pieces are there for them to be able to be playing basketball late into March for a championship. While he is pleased with his team’s great start, how they are going to finish is more important to Coach Davis. He plans on his team improving every step of the way.

“No one is going to remember going 8-3 at the end of November,” Davis said. “They’re going to remember where we are at the end of February, and that last final run in the conference and what we did in the month of March… We’re going to be a lot better from now, we’re going to be a lot better come January.”

Photo Courtesy of AUM Athletics.

 

 

Read More

The Firing of Will Muschamp: An Auburn Perspective

By Jacob Horton

 

muschamp

Will Muschamp  courtesy of Bleacher Report

The announcement of Will Muschamp’s firing on Sunday did not come as a surprise to many. For Auburn University football enthusiasts, this announcement may be just what they need to pick up their spirits after suffering their third loss of the season this past Saturday.

In four years at the University of Florida, Muschamp has posted an overall record of 27-20. For a university that is only six years removed from winning two national championships in three seasons, a span that mediocre is simply unacceptable.

The firing eventually became inevitable after posting a record of 4-8 in 2013. One of those eight losses was an embarrassing 26-20 defeat suffered at the hands of the Georgia Southern Eagles. This was already deemed a make-or-break year for the Gator head coach, and four losses into this season the Florida athletic department decided it had seen enough.

So what does all of this mean for Auburn Tiger fans? If you were watching Auburn’s abysmal performance on Saturday, you saw that it might be time for a change on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers. For the first time all season, Auburn was outrushed by an opponent. The Tiger defense allowed 289 yards on the ground to the Georgia Bulldogs. That’s the most rushing yards they’ve allowed in Gus Malzahn’s short tenure as head coach.

With that being said, let us consider the possibility of Will Muschamp becoming Auburn’s next Defensive Coordinator. It’s nothing personal against Ellis Johnson. He served as Defensive Coordinator in 1992 for an Alabama Crimson Tide team that was remembered for having one of the greatest defenses in college football history. This move makes sense for an Auburn team that has struggled mightily on defense over the past few seasons.

So far in 2014, the Tigers rank 64th in total defense. They are allowing roughly an average of 388 yards per game. Their overall rushing defense ranks 43rd in the nation, but will likely continue to plummet if they cannot improve off of last weekend’s performance. They are allowing about 243 passing yards per game, which ranks them 91st in the nation. There is definitely room for improvement, and many believe that Muschamp can get this Tiger defense going in the right direction.

Muschamp wouldn’t be in unfamiliar From Muschamp’s angle, a coordinator job may be the best he can do right now. Similar to former Alabama Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, Muschamp is more than likely not going to have many head coaching offers. He has proven that he can be a successful defensive coordinator in the SEC, so maybe he should just tailor his career path to what he can do best.

If the Auburn Tigers want to start playing defense at a championship level, then Muschamp is the immediate answer. They need to seize this opportunity, and bring back a fan favorite in Will Muschamp, if they want to put an end to their defensive woes.

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

 

 

 

 

Read More

Week 11 Heisman Standings

By Jacob Horton

As the 2014 football season approaches its final stretch of marquee matchups, the talk regarding who will take home this season’s Heisman Memorial Trophy is getting louder.  Which begs the question: on Dec. 13, who will be honored as the most outstanding player in college football with the 79th annual Heisman Award?

 

Traditionally, around five players are chosen as finalists for the award and get to make the trip to New York City for the presentation. So here are the five finalists that I believe have the best shot of taking home the award through 11 weeks of college football action.

 

  1. Trevone Boykin – QB Texas Christian University

The 6’2 inches, 216 pound signal caller for TCU has been the driving force behind this potent Horned Frog offensive unit. He shined his brightest Saturday night, when his team took down number seven Kansas State 41-20. Boykin threw for 219 yards with one touchdown pass, while also rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt junior has accounted for 2,691 yards through the air this year, while throwing for 23 touchdowns. Boykin has accumulated 546 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. If TCU manages to win out the rest of its schedule, expect Trevone Boykin to be atop many Heisman voters’ lists.

 

  1. Amari Cooper- WR University of Alabama

Through nine games this season, Amari Cooper has proven to be the best wide receiver in all of college football, drawing comparisons to the great Jerry Rice. In 2014 Cooper has racked up 1,215 receiving yards, which ranks him second in the nation. Cooper leads all SEC receivers by a whopping 429 yards. He also leads the SEC in touchdown receptions with 10 thus far. In an Alabama offense that has looked shaky at times this season, the consistent play of Amari Cooper has him ranked among college football’s best.

 

  1. Melvin Gordon- RB University of Wisconsin

Playing in the Big Ten comes with its flaws. Even though it is considered a “Power Five” conference, it still tends to get overlooked when discussing the best teams and players in the nation. Melvin Gordon, however, has proven that there is still top-tier talent in the northern states. His 1,501 rushing yards leads the entire nation, while his 19 rushing touchdowns rank him second nationally. Gordon has carried the load for this Wisconsin Badger team as they pursue a Big Ten title.

 

  1. Dak Prescott- QB Mississippi State

What Dak Prescott has done this season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs through nine games is almost Heisman-worthy itself. He’sgiven new life to a football program buried in mediocrity.Prescott has thrown for 2,231 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns. His most impressive stat thus far is the zero currently hanging in his team’s loss column. If Prescott were to lead his Mississippi State Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season and an SEC championship, how could the Heisman voters possibly deny him of this prestigious award?

 

  1. Marcus Mariota- QB Oregon

The Honolulu, Hi. native has been the most consistent football player in the country this season. Through 10 games, Mariota has thrown for 2,780 yards and NCAA second-best 29 touchdowns. Mariota has also rushed for eight touchdowns and accounted for 524 yards on the ground. Those numbers put him at a pace of roughly 278 passing yards and slightly under four touchdowns per game. Right now Mariota is the favorite to take home the trophy. Time will tell, however, as we still have a whole month of college football left to help us determine who is most worthy of the award.

 

 

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

 

 

 

Read More

Why You Shouldn’t Stress Over College Football Playoff Rankings

By Jacob Horton

With last week’s unveiling of the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings, fans across the country have been hypothesizing various scenarios in which their team earns one of the coveted spots in the four team playoff. Instead of attempting to gaze into the crystal ball, these fans need to realize that there is a lot of football yet to be played and things will eventually sort themselves out.

 

Last week’s College Football Playoff rankings placed Mississippi State as the number one seed, Florida State at number two, Auburn at number three, and Ole Miss at number four.  Florida State and Mississippi State both survived potential upset matches, while Auburn squeaked out a road victory Saturday against Ole Miss.

 

So here we are one week into the College Football Playoff rankings, and one of the four selected playoff teams has already been eliminated. The probable question on everybody’s mind regards who will be preplacing Ole Miss when they announce the new rankings Tuesday night.

 

For the few teams on the outside looking in, the opportunity to prove that they belong amongst the nation’s top four teams will present itself. For the three SEC West schools vying for a spot, an undefeated next few weeks will guarantee a place in January.

 

Mississippi State still has to travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, while themselves for the “Egg Bowl of the Century” versus Ole Miss on Nov. 29. Alabama travels to Baton Rouge to clash with a resurgent LSU team, while they also host Mississippi State and Auburn this month. Auburn’s road to the playoff is without a doubt the bumpiest. They must travel to Athens to take on the University of Georgia on Nov. 15, and to Tuscaloosa two weeks later to face off in the annual Iron Bowl. Each of these three teams control their destiny; only a loss separates them from competing for a national title.

 

So, if your team is on the fence for making this year’s College Football Playoff, take a deep breath. One of the main reasons they came out with these rankings so early in the season was so the committee that chooses these teams can get some experience. By having done this process already, come December they will hopefully know what they are doing and will select the four teams that are the most worthy of playing for the national championship. Until then, kick back and enjoy the remainder of what’s already been a thrilling 2014 college football season. Things are going to get interesting.

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

Read More

The Beginning of the Cheaney Era at AUM

coach cheaney

 

By Jacob Horton

For the first time in 37 years, the AUM men’s basketball program will be under the leadership of a new head coach when the season tips off Oct.31

The Athletic department named Michael Cheaney as the new head coach of the men’s basketball team back in May. Cheaney replaced longtime AUM coaching legend Larry Chapman.

 

Cheaney comes into his first year at AUM with over fifteen years of coaching experience at the NAIA level. He has also coached at Division I, II, and III colleges over the course of his career.

 

Cheaney spent the last four seasons as the head coach at Voorhees College in Denmark, S. C. During his tenure, Cheaney led Voorhees to a 72-55 record and a trip to the NAIA National Tournament.In his first season with the Tigers, Cheaney helped the team to 16 wins, which is more than tripled the total from the year before. He followed with a 22-9 mark in his second season and helped the team to its first national ranking in more than 10 years. In his third year, the coach guided Voorhees to a 23-12 record, won the Association of Independent Institutions Conference Tournament and made an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.Cheaney credits the winning record of AUM athletics as one of the driving forces behind his decision to coach here. He’s looking to add to that success as well.

 

“I know some people around here are considering us to be rebuilding,” Cheaney said in a recent interview. “I don’t like rebuilding; I like to win. The reason why I came to AUM is that the tradition of winning has always been here, from baseball to soccer, to tennis. I really would like to raise the bar up a little bit and get our guys to reach expectations this year that people think that they couldn’t get to.”

 

This men’s basketball team is coming off of a year in which it finished an overall record of 9-18. Coach Cheaney, however, believes the Warhawks can compete at a championship level this season.

 

“It depends on guys staying healthy, and at the same time, how quick they can adapt to the new system,” Cheaney said. “That is going to be the biggest transition. I believe we have pretty good people at every position.”

 

Where Cheaney hopes he can get the most attribution from this season are his forwards and centers. He feels as though they will be one of their main strengths and the key to winning conference matchups.

 

“We’re counting on Reggie Brown and Roderick (Robinson), two post guys,” Cheaney said. “They should be our power for us inside because they can change positions, play inside and outside…Conference-wise you’re going to see a lot of big guys that can do that.”

 

Along with the pressures of putting together a successful season, having to do so while replacing an AUM legend will be no easy task. Coach Cheaney is well aware of that pressure, and hopes to use it as motivation to help carry on Coach Chapman’s legacy.

 

“(Coach Chapman) tells me all the time that there’s no pressure on me,” Cheaney said. “I probably have put some pressure on myself just because I know it can be done. At the same time, the old coach is sitting around watching practice, probably will be at the games…I want to try and motivate the guys, especially the seniors. Even though I didn’t recruit you, it still would be good for us to go out on top your senior year. It would be another accolade for coach Chapman, and it would also bridge that gap from the old to the new generation.”

 

The 2014-15 season looks to be promising for the Warhawks under the tutelage of Coach Cheaney. Their season tips off on Oct. 31 when they face Concordia College in the annual Jimmy Faulkner Classic held at Faulkner University. Their first home contest takes place on Nov. 11, when they square off against Selma University.

 

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

Photo Courtesy of AUM Athletics

Read More

Previewing the 2014 MLB World Series

By Jacob Horton

Previewing the 2014 MLB World Series

It’s finally here. After five and a half months of Major League Baseball, the 2014 MLB World Series is officially among us. Everything that has been worked for over the course of the grueling 162-game MLB schedule comes down to this best-of-seven series.

 

This year’s series looks to promise excitement and lots of late-inning drama, as the Kansas City Royals are matched up against the San Francisco Giants. Both teams seem to have that “it” factor that can carry them to a world championship.

 

For Kansas City, the 2014 season marked the first time since 1985 that the organization qualified for postseason play. They’ve had no problem knocking off the cobwebs, however, as they have yet to lose a game this postseason.

 

That’s right. In eight postseason games thus far, the Kansas City Royals boast a perfect record of 8-0. Don’t let that fool you, however: it has been far from a cakewalk for the Royals. Despite their perfect record, the battle-tested Kansas City Royals have won just about every postseason game they’ve played in in dramatic fashion.

 

In the AL Wild Card Game, it took a 12th inning rally to come from behind and defeat the Oakland Athletics. In their three game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels in the divisional series, two of those victories took 11 innings to decide a winner. All four of their victories in the American League Championship Series were decided by two runs or fewer. This proves that the road to the fall classic has been no easy ride for Kansas City.

As for their counterpart, the San Francisco Giants looked just as primed and ready as Kansas City. They have also looked impressive this postseason and have a 2014 playoff résumé almost identical to Kansas City.

 

Their postseason run began with a wild card game victory over the Pittsburg Pirates. In the NLDS, they defeated the Washington Nationals three games to one. Each win recorded by the Giants in this series was only decided by one run. In the NLCS, they knocked off a very talented Cardinal team plagued by key injuries in just five games. Nevertheless, the Cardinals have just as much of a chance of winning it all as their opponent does.

 

Need I remind everybody that the San Francisco Giants have won two out of the last three World Series? Here we are in another postseason, and the chance for a Giants’ World Series Championship is yet again hanging in the balance.

 

As far as the outcome of this series goes, one could make an argument for either team. Kansas City is coming into this series red-hot, but one could say that they have not faced a team as elite as San Francisco. Nobody in all of baseball is as good at manufacturing runs as Kansas City, while San Francisco’s timely hitting has gotten them to where they are now.

 

Let’s give credit where it’s due here: what Kansas City has done this postseason is simply magical. As impressive as their current winning streak is, they are more likely to lose a game in this series. This San Francisco team isn’t going to lie down for them just because they are flirting with history. At the end of the day though, I see Kansas City riding their tidal wave of momentum all the way to a World Series Championship in six games.

 

Contact the writer: jhorton4@aum.edu

 

 

 

Read More