Trojans’ woes continue in loss to Gauchos

first_imgThe USC men’s volleyball team might be out of the playoff picture, but it certainly is not backing down as the season comes to a close.Down and out · 2013 has been a disastrous season for the USC men’s volleyball team, as Wednesday’s loss to UC Santa Barbara brings the team’s record to 6-16, a far cry from 2012’s national runner-up campaign. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanThe young players were hungry for a taste of the postseason experience as they headed out on the road for their final two games, both against playoff-bound teams. Their first stop was in Santa Barbara on Wednesday, where they took on No. 7 UCSB.But despite their enthusiasm, the Trojans (6-17) were defeated by a more experienced squad by a score of 25-23, 25-19, 21-25, 25-17.The Gauchos (15-14, 11-12 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) recently clinched a spot in the MPSF playoffs, but a recent stretch of losses had them clamoring for momentum as they entered Wednesday’s match against USC. Despite being one of the top defensive teams in the nation, UCSB had dropped consecutive matches to BYU and Cal Baptist, but the team was able to regain its stride against USC.The Trojans had a number of opportunities to take control of Wednesday’s match early on, but they tapered off near the end of the first two sets. Both teams hit poorly at the start of the match, but six crucial aces from the Gauchos gave them the advantage they needed in sets one and two.“Our hitting percentage wasn’t very good but we were making stops and we held them to a pretty low percentage as well,” USC head coach Bill Ferguson said. “Defensively, we did a nice job, but we made too many service errors and just dug ourselves too big of a hole.”Though the Trojans were able to contain the Gaucho’s best player, Dylan Davis, they had a difficult time overcoming the duo of outside hitter Austin Kingi and middle blocker Evan Licht. The two combined for seven aces and 18 digs and gave UCSB a significant advantage in the match.“Their team usually goes as Dylan Davis goes,” Ferguson said. “And we held Davis to .200 [hitting percentage], which is great, but we couldn’t stop their other outside hitters.”But the USC squad showed some signs of life in third set. Despite falling behind early, the Trojans surged, riding a wave of strong hitting to an 11-5 run and a sizable lead. The Gauchos put up a strong fight and evened the score four times, but the Trojans pulled through and were able to take the set.It looked as though the Trojans success would continue into the fourth set when they jumped out to an early lead, but this time the Gauchos responded. The combination of strong serving by UCSB and atrocious hitting from USC gave the Gauchos all they needed to win the set and the match.“In the third set, we did a great job of bouncing back,” Ferguson said. “It was the best execution I saw throughout the match, but in the fourth we just fell behind and made too many attack errors.”Once again, the Trojans were victims of their own poor night at the net. They hit a dismal .135 and were overpowered by the Gauchos strong defense. Though the Trojans were able to keep pace on digs, they were out-blocked by ten and out-served by six aces. UCSB simply outplayed the Trojans en route to their 15th win of the season.Though the rest of the team appeared somber after another loss, Ferguson was happy to see some of his younger players step up to the challenge. Freshman middle blocker Josh Kirchner put forth an especially encouraging showing, along with some other Trojan youngsters.“Josh Kirchner had a fantastic night tonight, he hit great and he served really well,” Ferguson said. “[Robert] Feathers was okay, [Austin] Rysyk came in and sparked us pretty good off the bench and J.B. Green had some good digs for us. So I was happy with those performances.”The Trojans might not be headed to the playoffs, the younger players’ performances against the Gauchos provide some hope for the future. As one of the youngest teams in the NCAA, the USC men’s volleyball team seems to be poised for a few impressive seasons down the road.The Trojans close out the season tomorrow with a rivalry matchup against UCLA. The match will be played at the Bruins’ newly refurbished Pauley Pavilion starting at 7 p.m.last_img read more

For 57 years, this man has crafted wooden lacrosse sticks by hand

first_img Published on April 15, 2018 at 10:45 pm Contact Matthew: | @MatthewGut21 His shoulders, fingers, wrists and back hurt after he logs six- to 10-hour days. Jacques said he makes about 200 sticks per year now, down from about 11,000 in 1972. In the 1960s and 1970s, he made sticks for many Syracuse, Cornell, Siena and Cortland men’s lacrosse players. He learns more about the stick creation process every time, and often tells people who buy his sticks that they’re “the best stick I’ve ever made.”“Each stick is a work of art,” said Jacques’ sister, Freid. “He never hurried up so he could make more and make a lot of them, so he could make more money. That’s never the purpose. It’s to make an excellent stick.”Since many traditional stickmakers have died or retired, Jacques is running one of the last old-school stick-production joints in the country. He works in a shed with a few lights, alongside cats named Obama and Michelle, on a wooden bench he built with his father in 1969. His father, Louis, introduced lacrosse to him, setting him on a path to become a star at nearby LaFayette High School.In the decades since, when traveling to games and conventions, he’s had a front-row seat to the rise in the game, which he correlates with the rise in plastic heads. He maintains an appreciation for the innovations that drove a stark decline in demand for wooden sticks. He has no hard feelings, because he said it’s what brought lacrosse across the country and world.“If we had relied on Indians making wooden sticks,” Jacques said, “the game wouldn’t have grown as big, as fast.”The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team has not visited Jacques’ workshop, he said, but visiting teams sometimes do on their trips to play the Orange. Notre Dame and Virginia have watched him make sticks. Last year, UVA head coach Lars Tiffany looked back to his time growing up on a ranch in LaFayette — near Onondaga Nation — by busing his entire team to Jacques’ barn. Players packed into a back room.“The Onondaga Reservation reminds us all of the beauty of this game,” Tiffany said. “Alfie’s stick-making is at the core of lacrosse.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerThe foundation for the best-quality lacrosse stick begins about a year before it’s even used in a game. Tree selection is not paramount — Jacques said all steps are integral — but finding the right tree is make-or-break. The living nature of the tree is believed to transfer into the lacrosse stick and the person using the stick. A bad tree makes it impossible to construct a stick, said Jacques, who surveys forests in the LaFayette, Cortland, Cazenovia, Ithaca and Oswego areas.There can be no knots or limbs for the first 3 meters. The tree must be at least 100 years old. Each log costs about $50. Sometimes, he’ll pick five hickory trees out of 200. He cuts them down himself, and he brings seeds and plants new trees.Then Jacques splits the tree into eighths using a wooden mallet, axes and wooden wedges. He uses a knife — made in 1832 and passed down to him by his father — to remove bark and to carve the stick to its final form. He straightens the handle, balances the piece and puts final trims on.There is no playbook or measuring tools, just his own estimation that comes from 57 years of experience. The drying process alone is about six months. He completes each stick by sanding it, burning his logo, dating and stamping.As a large green belt-sander hummed last week, Jacques sat on an old wooden bench and carved a stick. He paid special attention to how the knife traveled. He explained that you don’t just pull the knife along the wood. A defining characteristic of a good stick lies in the handle. Don’t minimize the handle.“It’s therapeutic,” Jacques said. “You have a wood stove on, pot of coffee, just make chips all day. When you’re done, the floors are covered with chips. It’s a relaxing thing to do. Everything you do in this work has purpose to the end product. There’s no gravy. You don’t just cut for cutting sake. You cut with purpose. You saw with purpose, carve with purpose, drill holes with purpose.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerHe’s crafted wooden sticks for nearly six decades, factoring in his introduction to stick-making. Back in 1960, his family couldn’t afford a stick, which went for $5, so he and his father cut down a hickory tree in the backyard and made a stick without much background knowledge.Since then, a lot has changed. The game of lacrosse has blossomed. Many fellow stickmakers have died. Lacrosse fans have come from far beyond the edges of Onondaga Nation for his sticks. As the internet boomed, he never felt the urge to have social media or advertise on a website. There may even be a few thousand more sticks in his future, though he looks forward to scaling back in retirement.His sticks, at that workshop at the bottom of the hill, have remained a constant through it all.“This is what I live for,” he said. “This is what I can do all of the time, every day. This is my life.” Comments As steam formed inside a rusty oil tank, Alfie Jacques crafted wooden lacrosse sticks at a barn down a dirt driveway on the Onondaga Nation reservation a few miles south of Syracuse University.The tank in question measures a few feet wide and about 8 feet long. Its temperature was set so high that steam shot out of the 1,000-liter drum filled with water. Jacques, 69, stuck a piece of wood into the tank, pulled it out and bent it.“This boil starts steaming like hell,” he said. “The wood doesn’t just bend. You have to muscle it.”A few dozen logs sat under a tarp on the grass behind Jacques. About 15 yards away is his barn, home to what he believes is the best stickmaking in the world. The air smelled of wood. There is no plastic, no music, no TVs, no signs of assembly-line production. There’s just Jacques, his wood, his equipment and his devotion to a technique — a way of life — that has lasted nearly six decades. It has spanned the United States and Canada, and created more than 100,000 one-piece wooden lacrosse sticks, each made by hand.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textKevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorSeven days a week, 40-something weeks a year, Jacques wakes up at his Fayetteville home and drives his red van to a spot on the Onondaga Nation reservation that doesn’t show up on Google Maps. He opens up shop, crafts some sticks and locks up in the evening. It’s a no-frills operation that begins with selecting the best shagbark hickory trees and ends by fusing a message onto the stick, along with a trademark stamp. The inscription is often custom, especially if the stick serves as an award or gift. A stick he recently made reads: “Leader, friend.”“This is the Creator’s Game,” he said. “It’s a lot more than people think. People think of the Native American as a savage, godless creature that’s out to kill people. They say we’re poor, uneducated, on a reservation, totally controlled by the white people. That’s how they like their Indian. We’re always fighting against that kind of prejudice. So we embrace one another and the game of lacrosse.”Because of an extensive drying process, each stick takes 10 months to make and sells for about $350. Yet he maintains a drive for his craft because for Native Americans, lacrosse is sacred. Men are put to rest in a casket with a lacrosse stick.Many of his sticks are made for people living on the Onondaga Nation reservation, where lacrosse is used to heal and lift the spirits of community members.“Lacrosse is who we are as a people,” Jacques said. “And this is the mecca of lacrosse. People come from all over to watch the old Indian guy make lacrosse sticks.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

A’s Ramon Laureano charges Astros’ dugout, gets tackled

first_imgA’s center fielder Ramon Laureano really wanted a piece of the guy who was jawing at him from the opposing dugout. Laureano had just been hit by a pitch for the second time Sunday by the Astros and was hot about it.Problem is, it’s a really long way from the first base bag to the first base dugout at the Oakland Coliseum, so when Laureano charged toward his nemesis, Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron, after being challenged, other Astros were able to close the hole and make the tackle before Laureano could get to him. Dusty Baker says he doesn’t know if Alex Cintron mentioned Ramón Laureano’s mother while yelling at him before Laureano charged him. But Baker says he learned the hard way how different it is when you mention a Latino’s mother. He vowed to check on the matter.— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) August 9, 2020The flaring of tempers is not a surprise. Oakland is not only a division rival of Houston but also a focal point in the Astros’ cheating scandal. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers last offseason blew the whistle on the Astros’ rampant sign-stealing during the team’s 2017 World Series championship season. Fiers was a member of the Astros’ pitching staff that year.On top of that, the A’s were leading big at the time of the fight and were poised to complete a three-game sweep of the 2019 AL champs. They went on to win 7-2 and extend their AL West lead over Houston to 5 1/2 games.Laureano, meanwhile, has now been hit three times by Astros pitchers this season, although the HBP that sparked the brawl was off a breaking pitch. Give backup catcher Dustin Garneau credit for the stop.Dustin Garneau just…took Ramón down— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) August 9, 2020Laureano and A’s catcher Austin Allen were ejected in the seventh-inning incident. Allen got tossed after the benches cleared.MORE: A’s coach says Nazi salute gesture was unintentionalLaureano and Cintron were not made available for comment after the game, reported. A’s manager Bob Melvin put the blame on Cintron without referring to him by name.”Ramon doesn’t go over there unless something completely offensive came out of the dugout,” Melvin said. “I think the league will know who that is. That person should get suspended. Hopefully, that’s the case.” Melvin said that having no spectators in the stadium should make it easier for MLB to determine who said what when it reviews the tape and hears what field microphones picked up. There were unconfirmed reports that Cintron said something to Laureano about his mother. Astros manager Dusty Baker, who was ejected in the top of the seventh for argunig balls and strikes, told reportres that he would check with Cintron, although he also said he dobuted anything like that was said, citing Latino culture.last_img read more