Watch Fresno State player bury 5 half-courters in a row

The 6-1 guard averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists last season.

      
 

 

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Fresno State player hits five consecutive half-court shots

Cezar Guerrero could be the team’s secret weapon from very long-range.

      
 

 

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Kevin Durant Responds to ESPN Ranking Him as the NBA’s No. 8 Player

ESPN’s ranking of the top 500 NBA players has already left some superstars angry (see: Bryant, Kobe), and its ranking of 2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin Durant at No. 8 has understandably raised some eyebrows.

ESPN justified the ranking by explaining that the Jones fracture in Durant’s right foot bumped last year’s No. 2 down six spots, with Royce Webb stating “Instead of shooting jumpers, he’s shooting selfies.” 

While Durant didn’t lash out as hard as Bryant, he did tweet (then delete) a reply in which he says both his jumper and selfie games are on point.

It sounds like Durant isn’t too hung up on his slide down the rankings.

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Watch a Fresno State player bury five half-court shots in a row

The 6-1 guard averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists last season.

      
 

 

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NBA Live 15: Release Date, Top Player Ratings, New Features, Preview and More

NBA Live fans, your wait is almost over. On Tuesday, Oct. 28, NBA Live 15 will be released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and hopes are high that the game has taken huge strides from last year’s release.

If the pre-release flow of information is any indication, it looks as if EA Sports is confident about its upcoming product. There’s been a steady diet of information over the last two months to set the stage for Tuesday’s release.

Player ratings have received an especially glamorous presentation. The top five players at each position were revealed on Twitter, as were the top players at specific skill sets, such as ball-handling, dunking and three-point shooting.

This tweet points out the top five sixth men in the game.

Click here to see all of the player ratings.

With every new sports video game release comes the demand for fresh and improved features. Sometimes, simply optimizing or fixing existing favorites can be sufficient if the improvement is substantial enough. 

Because of NBA Live 14‘s imperfections, this year’s release has room to grow. It could potentially make a statement with its loyal fanbase as well as grab the attention of gamers who don’t currently play the game.

Here’s a brief description of the features, per EASports.com.

  • Enhanced Visuals - New Scanning, lighting and player-specific body types.
  • Improved Gameplay - Real-time physics in the paint, better flow of action in transition, 100 new animations, more responsive controls and improved artificial intelligence.
  • Interactive Tutorial - Cover athlete Damian Lillard guides you through the game’s controls.
  • Live Features - Live seasons allows gamers to re-create or repeat recent history in the NBA. Ultimate Team returns with an auction house, fantasy challenges and new legends.
  • Rising Stars - The single-player mode is a bit more beefed up this year with player types and Jordan Brand incorporation.
  • Daily Updates - NBA Live 15 boasts that it will feature daily updates powered by Synergy Sports’ advanced statistics.
  • Dynasty Mode - Old staple returns with improved schedule generation and trade logic.

 

Most Intriguing Features

Live Season

EA Sports seems to be shifting its focus to the strength of its servers.

Rightly so, as the game’s biggest competition comes from NBA 2K, and while that series has dominated the virtual hoops scene for over 10 years, the servers are routinely inconsistent. The NBA Live team is smart to try and accentuate its area of advantage.

Live Seasons is a great platform to prove how dependable the game is online.

Most every virtual basketball fan loves the real NBA. Thus, most Live fans will have seen LeBron James go for 30 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists on Tuesday night, and they would be intrigued by the challenge of duplicating this feat on the game shortly after.

Those are the experiences Live Seasons creates, as it did last year. This year’s version promises to bring even more challenges with pertinent detail. Rewind, Hot Spots and Big Moments challenges are all part of the feature. If this is executed correctly, it could continue to grow into the calling card for the series.

 

Daily Updates

Along the same lines of online functionality is the daily updates system. Synergy Sports is a firm that compiles and distributes data to real sports teams and media groups. EA Sports has partnered with the company to produce what it hopes will be the most accurate and up-to-date statistical data and video game translation of that information around.

As was told to me last year by producer Ryan Ferwerda when this feature was being initially launched for NBA Live 14, there are hopes that the concept evolves into a system that can even update the night’s action hours after the last game is completed.

It’s an exciting feature that could spawn things like routine, hairstyle, sneaker and accessory changes in the game as they appear in real life.

Without having played the game at any level during development, it’s impossible to say how much it has grown since last year. However, it seems apparent that the graphics have taken a leap forward, and that’s the first step.

We’ll all get a good look at the game on launch day, even if you haven’t decided to buy it yet. The free demo will be released on the same day the game is available in stores. 

Xbox One users who subscribe to EA Access will get a six-hour preview of the game beginning on Oct. 25. Let the season begin.

 

Follow Brian Mazique, aka FranchisePlay, the Sports Video Game Journalist.

Follow BMaziqueFPBR on Twitter 

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Which New York Knicks Player Will Make Biggest Leap in 2014-15?

The New York Knicks expect to make a significant improvement in 2014-15 on their poor showing last season, but to do so they’ll require a number of individual players to raise their performances big-time.

Fortunately for the Knicks, they have a handful of young players we can realistically expect to improve this year, especially with the likes of Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons on the coaching staff and Phil Jackson in the front office.

Let’s go through a few of New York’s top prospects and predict who will make the biggest leap in 2014-15.

 

Iman Shumpert

For the last few years, Iman Shumpert has been the Knicks’ marquee prospect, but after multiple injuries and a huge blow to his confidence under Mike Woodson, things have not been easy for him.

Ideally with a new head coach, new offensive system and a generally less tumultuous environment, Shumpert will be able to flourish moving forward, but there are no guarantees. He needs to assert himself and make good on his obvious talent and athletic ability, as there’s only so much difference outside changes can make if he doesn’t get involved.

According to Hollinger’s stats on ESPN.com, Iman Shumpert‘s usage rate of 13.5 last season ranked him 63rd out of 70 qualifying shooting guards, so it’s no surprise he was only able to average a career-low 6.7 points per game.

With that said, it was only 18 months ago that Shumpert made a very impressive return from his first knee surgery, improving his stroke to the tune of 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc in 2012-13. That kind of development is still very possible, especially with the chance for a fresh start in the Knicks’ new era.

The triangle will bring ball movement, so while Shumpert tends to struggle creating for himself, he should have plenty more opportunities as a spot-up shooter on the wing.

Defensively is where New York should really want to see Shump step up. It already has enough offense at the 2 spot with Tim Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith, but a defensive stopper on the wing could make a huge difference on that end of the floor.

Shumpert has certainly shown flashes of great defense. Even through his struggles last season, he was arguably the team’s best wing defender. His defensive win share of 1.6 according to Basketball-Reference.com ranked him behind only Tyson Chandler and (believe it or not) Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks’ roster.

If he learns the new system quickly and gets the support he needs from Fisher and Company, there’s no reason Shumpert shouldn’t at least improve his efficiency on offense and make some serious strides toward his All-Defensive potential in 2014-15.

 

Tim Hardaway Jr.

While Shumpert is looking to bounce back from a tough campaign, Hardaway is looking to build on a very strong start to his NBA career after earning a spot on the All-Rookie team.

Drafted at No. 24 overall, Hardaway has quickly earned a “virtually untouchable” label in the eyes of the Knicks’ organization, according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, which isn’t really surprising considering the offensive potential he displayed in his rookie season.

Hardaway struggled to get minutes behind Shumpert and Smith early on but finished the season averaging 15.8 points per 36 minutes, fantastic numbers for an inexperienced player.

Plenty of work still needs to be done, namely increasing his efficiency and diversifying his game outside of the three-point shot, which will almost certainly be his focus this season.

In summer league, we saw Hardaway take a leadership role as one of the “veterans” of the Knicks roster, occasionally running the offense and taking it upon himself to get to the rim as opposed to simply waiting outside for a shot opportunity to present itself.

It’s clear that Hardaway has bulked up over the summer, which will no doubt help him continue to attack the basket, but he plans to use that to his advantage on the defensive end too, which is great news for New York.

Depending on how minutes are distributed, it’s very possible that we could see Hardaway increase his scoring to around 15 points per game, ideally coupled with a raise in field-goal percentage.

Hardaway appears to be one of the most confident and motivated players on the roster, which will surely work in his favor. Time will tell, but it appears that the Knicks have unearthed a gem in Hardaway, which should show during his 2014-15 performances.

 

Shane Larkin

While Shane Larkin wasn’t a member of the Knicks in his rookie season, it’s still very possible that he could improve on his season with the Dallas Mavericks.

Larkin broke his ankle before he could even play a game for the Mavericks, eventually playing only 48 games that season. He never really had a chance to build momentum for himself and with a solid guard rotation ahead of him managed just 2.8 points and 1.5 assists per game.

Now that he’s had time to fully heal and work with Fisher in the triangle offense, we should see more of Larkin‘s raw ability in 2014-15. We’ve already seen his lightning speed in preseason; there’s no doubt he’s one of the fastest players in the entire league.

Running the triangle in what is essentially his second rookie season is not an easy task, but according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, New York actually likes the way his speed occasionally pulls the team out of the offenseto the point where they’re favoring him over Pablo Prigioni as Jose Calderon’s backup.

Once he gets into his rhythm, Larkin can make a huge difference for the Knicks. They’ve been one of the slowest teams in the league for a while now in large part due to their makeup at point guard. Paired with the rest of the team’s young players, he has the potential to transform the second unit into a high-energy machine.

It may be cheating considering how little Larkin got to play in his rookie season, but if he earns a role in the rotation, Larkin‘s production should shoot up rather significantly in New York.

 

Quincy Acy

Like Larkin, Quincy Acy wasn’t on the Knicks last year, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s turning heads this preseason.

When he was acquired along with Travis Outlaw, it seemed the Knicks just wanted to get rid of Wayne Ellington’s contract, but as it turns out they may have actually received a solid forward for very little in return to the Sacramento Kings.

According to Berman, Acy has a good chance of starting for New York at power forward with Carmelo Anthony moving back to small forward to accommodate the triangle offense.

Grit is the name of the game for Acy, a former second-round pick who’s undersized for the 4 spot. The Knicks could really use a player like that in the frontcourt to pull down rebounds and play physically on the defensive end.

Acy isn’t the most talented young player on the roster, but his energy alone will make a huge difference for the Knicks, and the opportunity to start should lead to a significant improvement on his career numbers of 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

 

The Verdict

The good thing for the Knicks is that they suddenly have a nice collection of young talent, which will help significantly in their rebuildingor rather retoolingprocess.

It’s possible that New York could see improvements across the board from its young players, but the primary player to focus on is Shumpert, who’s at a crossroads in his young career.

The Knicks have a huge decision to make in 2015 regarding Shumpert, while the pressure is on him to prove himself worthy of a new contract when the focus will be on adding talent in free agency.

As far as all-around talent is concerned, Shumpert has displayed more than any other player on this list. The issue for him is turning that talent into consistent production on both ends of the floor.

With no surgeries this offseason and a system more suited to his style of play, we should see Shumpert bounce back in 2014-15 and remind everyone just how important a player he is to the franchise’s future before he hits restricted free agency.

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Portland Trail Blazers season preview: Player projections

This is the third and final installment of our Portland Trail Blazers season preview. In the first two articles we took a look at the Blazers’ general roster and their potential standing in the Western Conference. Now I will give an overview of each player that will potentially be in the starting five and some key reserve players that will have a big affect off the bench.
The potential starters
Damian Lillard: While many players struggle during their second season, Lillard found a way to thrive. He averaged 20. 7 points and 5.6 assists per game last season. He hit the game winning shot to put the Blazers past the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs last year. Even if  Lillard’s numbers stayed the same this year, he would still be looking at having another great season. However I do expect Lillard’s 2.4 turnovers per game to decrease to 1-1.5 turnovers per game. If he is maintaining more procession and getting the ball to teammates more often, then scorers like LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews

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The Most Intriguing Player on Each CBB Team in the 2014 Preseason Coaches Poll

The only things more intriguing than college basketball’s 2014-15 preseason coaches poll are the most intriguing players on those 25 teams.

We’re not necessarily talking about the best players, but rather the ones upon which a team’s entire season might hinge.

Take Louisville, for example. Montrezl Harrell is clearly the best player for the Cardinals. They’ll rely on him more heavily than anyone. But he’s just plain and simple a monster in the post. The most intriguing thing about him might be his utter inability to make a free throw.

When it comes to the intrigue factor at Louisville, Wayne Blackshear takes the cake.

Read on for our explanation of that selection, as well as our pick for the most intriguing player on each of the other 24 teams in the first coaches poll of the season.

 

All advanced stats via KenPom.com (subscription required), NCAA.com and Sports-Reference.com.

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Villanova Basketball: Jalen Brunson Is Make-or-Break Player in Class of 2015

With the new basketball season on the horizon, the Villanova Wildcats are in a good position in regards to recruiting for the class of 2015. 

Tim Delaney, Donte DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson will all become Wildcats starting with the 2015-16 season. 

Many top players are still available, but the Wildcats have not been seriously linked with any of them in quite some time.

Since the Brunson commitment, the Wildcats have not been very active on the class of 2015 front, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. 

The one name that was associated with Villanova during the summer was Isaiah Briscoe, but it looks like he has his sights set on joining another program. 

Briscoe will cut his list of prospective schools down to three, per USA Today’s Jason Jordan, and Villanova is expected to be nowhere near the list, with St. John’s being one of the front-runners. 

He was the main guard the Wildcats were having a look at before the Brunson commitment, but he was not considered a main target after Villanova earned the signature of the guard from Illinois. 

After Briscoe, the other potential members of the class of 2015 are players who are not consistently looking at Villanova. 

According to 247Sports, only two other players are listed as interested in offers from the Wildcats, which makes things look bleak for the rest of the recruiting window. 

Despite the lack of interest from other potential players, Villanova is in great hands with Brunson joining the program.

In many ways, Brunson is the make-or-break stud in the class of 2015 for the Wildcats, as he is a player who can make an impact from the first day he steps on campus. 

Brunson has the potential to elevate the program to a higher level during his time there, whether it be for three or four years. 

With all due respect to Ryan Arcidiacono, the Wildcats haven’t had a player like that since Scottie Reynolds, who was the heart and soul of the team from 2006 to 2010. 

Before Reynolds, Villanova had athletes like Randy Foye and Allen Ray lead the way from the guard position. 

As we saw last season with Villanova, the team played fine during the regular season, but once it faced tougher opposition in the postseason, it crumbled under pressure and was eliminated in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Brunson will take the guard position to the next level at Villanova, which means he should make every player around him better as well.

If a Brunson-led Villanova team can go far in March each year, he will mean more to the program, as more high-quality recruits will be attracted to the program even though the Wildcats play in the lowly Big East. 

There will always be players who overlook Villanova for higher-profile teams in bigger conferences, but if Brunson proves that he can take the Wildcats far in the postseason, it will allow a few of those players to take a serious look at the program. 

With on- and off-court success in front of them when Brunson arrives, the Wildcats have no need to find another make-or-break recruit for the class of 2015 because they have already found him. 

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Devon Still surprises college basketball player

Lauren Hill is battling an inoperable brain cancer.

      
 

 

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