Sophomore upcomer hopes to build on last year’s improvements

first_imgYANA PASKOVA/Herald photoOh, what a difference a year makes.Last season, guard Akiya Alexander averaged a mere 1.4 points in 7.1 minutes as a reserve for the Wisconsin women’s basketball team.This season, Alexander has become one of head coach Lisa Stone’s first options off the Badger bench and has seen a great increase in her production — she currently is averaging 6.0 points in 22.6 minutes through the first five games.For Alexander, the development in her game from just a year ago has simply been a number of factors coming together over the offseason.”I feel I’ve improved a lot just as far as communication and just calming down, being patient as a point guard, being another leader on the floor for my team,” Alexander said. “Defense, offense, taking care of the ball more, just being patient and getting what we need to get done as a team.”Adjusting to the NCAA style of play wasn’t easy for the Evanston, Ill., native during her freshman year — especially getting used to the long and vigorous practices.However, Alexander feels she had an advantage over most of her freshmen teammates — a year of prep school at The Patterson School in Patterson, N.C.”I think I was a little lucky because my [prep] coach was actually a coach in the college level,” Alexander said. “Even though our practices were a little shorter than what they are now, he pushed us to the limit. Everything was intense and that’s what I’ve come to find out college is about.”Stone’s sophomore class as a whole has been turning heads early this season, but Alexander’s improvement from her freshman year may be the most surprising.Heading into this season, Stone knew she had a very composed point guard in Alexander, but questioned whether she could consistently bring that added dimension to the court every day.So far this year, Alexander has answered Stone’s concerns in nearly every game, particularly against Cleveland State and Hawaii where she recorded a personal-best nine points in both games.But Alexander points to her contributions on the defensive end of the floor as her biggest asset to the team.”I think my role is giving our team a spark on defense,” she said. “More because our defense leads to our offense so if I give my team a spark on defense that will just boost our confidence. Especially if we’re down, say we haven’t scored on this team for a while, just getting one stop at a time I think will help our team get into our offense.”While Alexander’s improvement this season has been a welcome addition to the team, it tends to sometimes go unnoticed. She backs up the team’s two best players in guards Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks.However, Alexander doesn’t seem to mind being overlooked.”I never feel overshadowed,” Alexander said. “Those are my teammates, we’re all one unit. I think that when I come in, I’m supposed to keep up the same expectancy level that [Banks] and [Anderson] were giving — just come in there and keep that same edge.”Clearly there’s a strong bond between this year’s sophomore class of Alexander, Banks, Anderson, Ward and Shari’ Welton — one that began even before any of them even stepped foot on the UW campus.”I was lucky enough to actually have a bond with Janese, Danielle, and Shari’ before coming to Wisconsin, I played a lot with them on my AAU team [the Chicago Hoops Express],” Alexander said. “And Jojo [Anderson], she just fit in. I got to know her over the summer, staying with her at the Regent, and we all just came together.”This tight relationship, Alexander says, is why the Badgers have been able to get off to a hot 4-1 start this season.”Everywhere I go you’ll see me with one of my teammates, all the time,” Alexander said. “I think we just have a tremendous bond and that’s why, I guess, we can play together so well because we know each other both on and off the court.”Even though she always puts the team above anything else, Alexander has one personal goal that she is hoping to achieve this season as she continues to improve.”My assist-to-turnover ratio,” Alexander said. “I just want to keep that where my assists are little higher than my turnovers. Other than that I just want to stay confident, stay focused and just to have success.”last_img read more

Syracuse field hockey’s Laura Hurff attempts to fill void of ‘legend’ Alyssa Manley

first_imgAlyssa Manley is a Syracuse legend, according to SU field hockey midfielder/forward Serra Degnan, and there are statistics to back that statement up.Manley was the only player on the entire 2016 Olympic field hockey roster for the United States in Rio de Janiero — a tournament in which the U.S. finished fifth — whose last appearance was at a collegiate level. Before Rio, she led the Orange to its first-ever national championship in 2015 and was awarded the Honda Sports Award for field hockey, an award given to the best field hockey player in the NCAA.But after expiring her eligibility last season, Manley’s loss has left a giant hole in No. 2 Syracuse’s (2-0) midfield. It’s a hole that Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley agreed is one of the largest she’s ever had to fill, going on to say that even though it’s a hole that might require multiple players to patch. Junior midfielder/forward Laura Hurff has stepped up into Manley’s role and started to fill it exceptionally well.In 2015, Hurff improved from her freshman season. She took on a bigger role, starting all 22 games and scoring two game-winning goals on the season. The season prior, she played in every game but didn’t start all of them. She was named an National Field Hockey Coaches Association first-team All-American, and a second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree. But Hurff’s strong sophomore campaign came with Manley on the field alongside her, attracting most of the attention from opposing teams. This season, it’s up to Hurff to step up in Manley’s absence and prove that she can become the primary workhorse of the midfield herself. A good place to begin, Hurff said, is to adjust her mentality on the field.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Alyssa just has this calmness to her when she plays, even when she mis-traps (the ball), she stays calm,” Hurff said. “So I’m trying to work to get that calmness in my play.”Hurff has already garnered accolades in 2016, starring on the USA U-21 National Team this summer at the Junior Pan-American games in Trinidad and Tobago and winning the silver medal. She was also named as a preseason All-ACC selection for the 2016 season, an honor that Manley received in 2015.In Friday’s 2016 season opener at Temple, Hurff was relatively quiet in the midfield, posting no assists or goals. Manley’s first game of the 2015 season went similarly, an away contest at No. 6 Stanford where she also failed to post any goals or assists. In Sunday’s game at No. 6 Maryland, Hurff fired three shots, all on goal. In Manley’s second game of the 2015 season against University of California Davis, she too launched three shots, scoring one goal.The similarities between the two go deeper than statistics. Hurff is so talented, Degnan said, that she will likely be the next SU star to see time on the U.S. national team, just like Manley. And after her summer performance with the U-21 national team, Hurff is already beginning to emerge as a strong candidate in the conversation surrounding the 2020 Olympic Games.“I think we’ll see her in Tokyo in 2020, definitely,” Degnan said. “She is unbelievable.”But regardless of her future, Hurff is focused solely on herself and her impact on the 2016 team right now. She’s been working on improving her game, and though she knows she may never be able to live up to Manley’s legacy, she’s trying to get as close as possible.“(Manley) was an amazing player, and nobody is really gonna fulfill her spot,” Hurff said. “I’m doing the best that I can right now, and trying to help the team any way I can.” Comments Published on August 29, 2016 at 9:59 pm Contact Matt: Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

NBA playoffs 2019: Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard eliminates Thunder with Game 5 buzzer beater

first_img NBA playoffs 2019: Damian Lillard ‘was just waving goodbye’ to Thunder after buzzer-beater Damian Lillard delivered in a big way for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday.With Portland and the Thunder tied in the final seconds, Lillard controlled the ball near mid-court. He ran down the clock, took a small dribble forward and knocked down a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a 118-115 win. The shot gave the Trail Blazers a 4-1 series win over Oklahoma City.🗣M 🗣V 🗣P 🗣— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 24, 2019Lillard was fantastic for Portland all game long. He finished with 50 points on 17-of-33 shooting. He also knocked down 10 of his 18 3-point attempts and added six assists, seven rebounds as well as three steals. Related News Russell Westbrook followed by missing a go-ahead layup, setting up Lillard’s game winner.George scored 36 points for Oklahoma City in the losing effort while Westbrook tallied a triple-double with 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.center_img The Thunder appeared to have taken control with a little less than eight minutes to play when Dennis Schroder connected on a 3-pointer to put his team ahead 105-90.But, Portland responded with a 23-8 run and tied the score with 57.1 seconds left. Paul George gave his team a two-point advantage on the next possession before Lillard answered with a jumper of his own. NBA playoffs 2019: Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beater sets Twitter ablazelast_img read more

Big costs of gender gap in sub-Saharan Africa

first_imgAfrican girls are better educated than a generation ago. Women are taking more leadership roles and building successful business careers. However, a new United Nations report says gender inequality on the continent costs it $95-billion a year. African women earn, on average, 30% less than African men. (Image: Universal Giving) Sulaiman PhilipGender inequality costs sub-Saharan economies $95-billion (about R1.4-trillion) a year, according to a newly released study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).That Africa loses 6% of continental gross domestic product is blamed on governmental failure to put into effect legal protections and break down harmful social norms. Failing to act means a large percentage of African women are locked out of opportunities to participate in the economic, social and political life of their countries.The report was released this weekend on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference of African Development in Nairobi, Kenya. UNDP administrator Helen Clark pointed out that a 1% increase in gender inequality reduced a country’s Human Development Index score by a similar amount. “If gender gaps can be closed in labour markets, education, health and other areas, then poverty and hunger eradication can be achieved,” she said. “Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is the right thing to do, and is a development imperative.”The Human Development Index (HDI) measures a nation’s achievement in key human development areas – access to education and medical treatment, quality of life and standard of living. African girls score high in access to primary education, but fail to access higher education or opportunities to join the labour market. The average for women in Africa is also lowered because of the continent’s still unacceptably high maternal mortality rate.Professional workProfessionally, African women fare even worse. A total of 61% of all African women work outside the home but their jobs are poorly paid and their efforts go unappreciated. Despite holding the majority of positions in the non-agricultural sector – 66% – women earn 70 cents for each dollar earned by a man. Across Africa there are, at most, just 30% of firms with a female manager.By not addressing the social norms that limit opportunity for women, Africa has no hope of attaining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals or achieving its own Africa Agenda 2063 ambitions. UNDP Africa director Abdoulaye Mar says that the African Union’s lofty goals of equality are hamstrung by social norms.African girls spend less time in education, are paid less for their labour and spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water. They have limited access to economic and financial assets and are less likely to have bank accounts. “Closing the gender gap would not only set Africa on a double-digit economic growth track, but would also significantly contribute to meeting its development goals.”Africa is moving beyond the era of legislation and non-discrimination laws and quotas ensuring women’s participation. The African narrative remains to an extent, that girls don’t have the same opportunities as boys to get a decent education, that women are shut out of jobs and assets to uplift themselves and their families.Despite almost universal access to primary education, African girls are empowered more than they were but only to a certain age and stage in their lives – until they get married. (Image: Brand South Africa)Fundamental changeFor most people outside the continent, Africa is still a place where women have too many children and thousands die in childbirth because they have no access to basic health care. In parts of Africa this remains true, but Africa holds many secrets. Closer study shows that African women have also made important progress.There is World Bank research that suggests a deeper reading of the statistics tell a different story. The international financial institution says that the lives of African women have fundamentally changed over the last decade.Since 1990, enrolment of girls in primary school has come close to matching boys and the number of women dying in childbirth has halved. In work and politics Africa leads the world in female representation. The ratio of women to men in formal employment is greater than the rest of the world and the number of women in continental parliaments has doubled. Rwanda and Senegal have the highest proportion of women in government and in Cape Verde parity at cabinet level was achieved more than a decade ago. Africa’s women and girls are its greatest untapped resource. It is they who will build the solid foundation of African prosperity. (Image: Brand South Africa)Social growthSocial attitudes are also changing in Africa. As more people become aware of gender bias, it is becoming less prevalent. Over the last decade, fewer women are reporting sexism and sexual harassment at work.Fewer people believe it’s better for a woman to look after the home while a man goes out to work. The number of people, of both genders, who believe that children are hurt if they are raised by working mothers has also decreased over the last decade.  More men are saying that work does interfere with home life, actively seeking employment with companies that offer paternity leave and flexible work hours.In business the tide is turning as well. A recent poll found that younger employees believe women make better managers. In 2006, one in two women believed that an equally qualified woman would be passed over for a promotion because of gender. By 2014, it was a belief shared by four out of every five. And more women are now also earning more than their husbands.Empowerment and equalityTo go forward, the UNDP report maps out four routes to empowerment and equality:Adopting legal reforms;Building national capacity to accelerate women’s involvement in decision-making;Adopting multisectoral approaches in promoting gender equality; and,Accelerating female ownership of assets and management resources.Co-operation and cross border collaboration between nations will boost the social changes that are improving the lives of African women. In the opinion of the UNDP researchers, two initiatives will speed up equality and empowerment. They propose the establishment of an African Women’s Investment Bank and the awarding of Gender Seal certification for businesses that promote gender equality.Africa’s economy is booming. Banking, retail and telecommunications are driving growth. Large-scale construction projects are improving the continent’s infrastructure and making it easier for Africa to trade with Africa.Growth is changing the continent’s landscape by strengthening its economy. Development is narrowing income gaps between citizens and nations and boosting continent-wide economic integration. And strong working economies disproportionately benefit women.Africa is changing. It is moving beyond seeing gender equality as a token in development policy. As Africa changes, it is taking a leadership position in the conversation about gender. As the prospects of African girls and women improve, the continent gets to lead by example. As more African women realise the freedom to choose their own future, the more they become the champions of and the great hope for women across the world.last_img read more

Gujarat to start groundnut procurement from November 15

first_imgThe Gujarat Government is set to start procurement for groundnut in Saurashtra region from 122 designated centres from November 15th. The State government has fixed ₹ 5000 per quintal as the purchase price under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for groundnut for the current season. As per the government projections, groundnut output will be at about 2.7 million tonnes for the year 2018-19. It may be noted that groundnut is one of the cash crops in Saurashtra region and its acreage in the region for the year 2018-19 was recorded at 14.67 lakh hectares, down 8% from last year.The State government has already announced procurement of groundnut at MSP rates of ₹4,890 per quintal set by the central government along with the bonus of₹110 per quintal with an effective procurement price of ₹5,000. The bonus amount will be borne by the state in a bid to hike the MSP to support farmers.For procurement of groundnut, the government has appointed the State civil supply corporation as the nodal agency and entire procurement will be done through the corporation. “Currently, registration of farmers is underway and from November 15th, procurement will begin,” said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. According to sources in the agriculture department, so far more than 10000 farmers have registered online to sell their produce under the MSP. The State government has not set any target for procurement, but the standard procurement practices suggest up to 25 % of the total crop can be procured at MSP level. As per the government’s current estimate of about 2.7 million tonnes of groundnut production in the current season in Gujarat, the procurement is likely to be about 6-7 lakh tonnes.last_img read more

PCB to appoint new coach by first week of May

first_imgThe Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan has said that the new selection committee will be appointed next week while the new head coach would be selected by first week of May.The PCB is on the lookout for a new coach after Waqar Younis stepped down following Pakistan’s poor show at the Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20. The cricket board also sacked the entire selection panel headed by Haroon Rasheed.PCB has asked candidates to apply for the position of head coach by April 25 after which a committee comprising of former players Wasim Akram and Rameez Raza will take a decision on the new coach.However, Shaharyar Khan said that the board is yet to decide whether to appoint a foreign or local coach. But he dropped a hint that the board had already shortlisted a foreign and a local candidate.”The new coach will be appointed by first week of May and Wasim is also in India for the IPL to discuss with candidates,” Khan said.The names of former Test stalwarts Aaqib Javed, Moin Khan, Mohsin Khan and Mudassar Nazar are doing the rounds for the post of head coach while the board is said to be eyeing Tom Moody and Dean Jones as the best possible foreign candidates.Moody is busy in the IPL while Jones recently coached the title winning Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League.Khan said that the new selection committee would be named by late this week or next week as the board wanted the selectors to also watch the Pakistan Cup one-day tournament in Faisalabad starting next week.advertisementHe confirmed that Mohsin Khan had been offered the post of chief selector but he declined.”Mohsin is more inclined towards coaching the national team,” he added.The names of former Test spinner Iqbal Qasim, Moin and Mohsin are also being tipped to head the selection committee. The PCB chief said the board would now make appointments after giving it proper thought as the national team had tough tours to England and Australia and there was a need to improve its rankings in all three formats.(with PTI inputs)last_img read more