After providing ‘spark’ for WNBA team, Banham signs with a team in Australia for the offseason

first_imgAfter providing ‘spark’ for WNBA team, Banham signs with a team in Australia for the offseasonFormer U women’s basketball player Rachel Banham is in her second season with the Connecticut Sun. Kathryn Chlystek, Daily File PhotoMinnesota guard Rachel Banham carries the ball at Williams Arena on Monday, Feb. 15. Banham recently signed to play with the Bendigo Spirit in Australia as a part of the WNBL. Jack WarrickJuly 3, 2017Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintFormer Gophers basketball player Rachel Banham had her rookie season with the Connecticut Sun cut short in 2016 with a knee injury.Now, she is almost fully recovered and back in action on the court for her WNBA team. She also signed a contract to play with the Bendigo Spirit of the Women’s National Basketball League in Australia.“She’s going to be a centerpiece of what we do off the bench, and [she] provides us that person that can come in and really spark you off the bench,” said Sun head coach Curt Miller.The road to recoveryBanham has a history of knee problems, undergoing two surgeries on one knee, and one surgery on the other earlier in her career before her latest surgery in 2016.After getting drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2016, Banham played in 15 games before needing microfracture surgery on her knee. Now, she has rehabbed her knee up to near 100 percent health and she can take the court again. Banham has played in every one of the 16 Connecticut Sun games this year.As Banham comes off the injury, Miller said she will contribute more and more to the Sun.“There’s a reason we drafted her [fourth overall in the WNBA draft]. We believe in her, and I think she is only going to continue to get better and better,” Miller said.Playing down underBanham recently signed with the Bendigo Spirit of the WNBL, a professional women’s basketball league in Australia. Banham will play for the team during the Sun’s offseason.The eight-team league allows two roster spots to foreign players with the remaining players being from Australia and New Zealand. Banham will start playing in Australia, with the Bendigo Spirit, as soon as the WNBA season ends in September. “The obvious thing is the scoring, but much more than that is her improvement in her defense, tempo control… and for her it’s about leading veteran players,” said Simon Pritchard, head coach of Bendigo. “She’s really interested in learning the international game, and we can teach her the international game.”Banham said she’s excited to head to the WNBL after her time with the Sun was over this year.“There’s a good handful of people that are in the WNBA that go over there to play and have really big years, and it’s a very competitive league, and it’s also just a really cool place to play,” Banham said.Hot as the Sun One of Banham’s 16 games was in a win against the Minnesota Lynx on June 17 when she put up 11 points on her hometown team. The perennial WNBA super power, the Lynx, had been undefeated up until the Sun beat them, and Banham as well as Miller said it was a confidence booster.“It felt really good to win in an environment as tough as Minnesota, and there’s a reason they only have one loss on the season,” Miller said. “More than anything, it was a shot of confidence.”The Sun is currently 9-7. After losing four consecutive games in the beginning of the season, the team has won eight of its last ten games.“We have a big circle around the 2018-19 season, as we are building this team,” Miller said. “We were the youngest in the league last year, and we are the second youngest roster in the league this year.”Missing the college daysBanham broke countless records while at Minnesota, including the Big Ten conference scoring record with 3,093 points, and the most points per game in a season for Minnesota with 28.6. She also tied the NCAA record for most points in a game with 60 in her senior year at Minnesota.“I definitely miss playing in Minnesota,” Banham said. “It was the best five years of my life, and it was a really good experience, and I love all the people there.”last_img read more

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No. 3 UWF baseball series vs. Henderson State canceled

first_imgNo. 3 UWF baseball series vs. Henderson State canceled PENSACOLA, Fla. – The No. 3 West Florida baseball team’s series vs. Henderson State scheduled for this weekend at Jim Spooner Field has been canceled.The Argonauts were scheduled to host a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday. None of the games will be made up.UWF will host Shorter in a three-game series April 12-13 at Jim Spooner Field.For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.#ARGOS#Print Friendly Version (Emmele Photography) center_img Sharelast_img

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Week 12 NFL picks straight up: Seahawks beat Panthers; Steelers escape Broncos

first_imgThis space was originally reserved to counter the cynics and naysayers who claimed that after the Monday night Rams-Chiefs unprecedented shootout, the video-game, scoreboard-short-circuiting era of the NFL was upon us, 54-51 games were about to become the norm, and defense would go the way of leather helmets.Nonsense, the counter-argument was going to be, there aren’t that many quarterbacks or offenses (or both) capable of piling up numbers like that. For goodness sake, Blake Bortles is facing Josh Allen this week, and one team is pondering a choice between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston. Then came a better look at the Week 12 games.There’s Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers, and Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers, and Kirk Cousins, and Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton, and Deshaun Watson. That’s just Sunday and Monday — Drew Brees and Matt Ryan face each other Thanksgiving night. Wilson and Newton play each other this weekend, as do Rodgers and Cousins. And even though Allen was the butt of an above joke, he’s one of possibly five rookie first-round picks starting this week (if Sam Darnold is healthy).So, the cynics and naysayers might have a point.MORE NFL PREDICTIONS:Week 12 NFL picks against the spreadWeek 12 NFL picks, predictions(All times ET)New England Patriots (7-3) at New York Jets (3-7)Sunday, 1 p.m., CBSBoth teams come off their bye … but the Patriots come back with Brady and Rob Gronkowski rested, while the Jets may or may not have Darnold back. This series gets way more feisty than one this lopsided should, so since both teams are headed in opposite directions, this will probably be uncomfortably close. In the Patriots’ favor (as if they need the motivation): The Chiefs took a step back toward them Monday, and the Patriots have the head-to-head tiebreaker.Prediction: Patriots, 23-20Seattle Seahawks (5-5) at Carolina Panthers (6-4)Sunday, 1 p.m., FoxThis is about where the Seahawks were expected to be in their transition, but they wouldn’t even be here if Wilson were not playing the way he is. That was on display in a crucial NFC playoff-contender showdown with the Packers last week. The Panthers and Cam Newton should feel fine with going for the win last week in Detroit; they should feel less good about a defense that is extremely ordinary this season, particularly last week against a flailing Lions team.Prediction: Seahawks, 30-26 New York Giants (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)Sunday, 1 p.m., FoxIf the Giants are really back, this is how they can prove it, and against whom they can prove it. The Eagles are on the ropes and in position for a knockout punch. Whether the Giants and their suddenly awakened offense — they’re protecting Eli Manning way better now, finally — can do it is another story. Odd how the complaints about Odell Beckham being toxic and a distraction have dropped dramatically during their two-game win streak. The Eagles are capable of putting tremendous pressure on Manning and covering for their other defensive weaknesses. This is the week for them to realize it.Prediction: Eagles, 28-20Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)Sunday, 1 p.m., CBSThe Browns don’t hit the bye week on a high very often, and they have a window to harness that positive energy this week. Their AFC North, intra-state rival has now wasted a 4-1 start that had the Bengals looking back at the Steelers, and they just lost to a mobile rookie in his first NFL start. The Bengals’ beleaguered defense couldn’t handle Lamar Jackson, so it stands to reason that Baker Mayfield will give them fits. There are chances at wins down the stretch for the Browns, and this is their first.Prediction: Browns, 27-22San Francisco 49ers (2-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8)Sunday, 1 p.m., FoxThe Buccaneers’ games are starting to all look the same, no matter who’s at quarterback, so the reported switch back to Jameis Winston is likely irrelevant. The Bucs lead the NFL in interceptions by a wide margin (23, seven more than any other team). The 49ers are going through growing pains, but their two games before their bye gave them something on which to build. Kyle Shanahan vs. Dirk Koetter might be the mismatch that decides this more than any other.Prediction: 49ers, 33-24Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)Sunday, 1 p.m., CBSThe Bills get their franchise quarterback back in Josh Allen after four games out. He won’t get the break Matt Barkley had in their pre-bye game — instead of the Jets, he faces the Jaguars’ defense. The Jaguars’ offense still has to overcome its own quarterback, Blake Bortles, who was not trusted by his play-callers to hold a 16-0 lead on the Steelers. Both teams have forfeited the luxury of looking at the other as “beatable.”Prediction: Jaguars, 20-10Oakland Raiders (2-8) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)Sunday, 1 p.m., CBSThe Ravens’ defense is in position to douse the brief euphoria of last week’s success by the Raiders and Derek Carr against the Cardinals. Ironically, that defense got a boost from Lamar Jackson and the rest of the rushing game in their win over Cincinnati, and if the Raiders are no better at navigating what Jackson can do than the Bengals were, then the Raiders will be in big trouble. The Ravens have no more margin for error in the division and wild-card races.Prediction: Ravens, 26-20Arizona Cardinals (2-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)Sunday, 4:05 p.m., FoxKeenan Allen caught heat for not properly giving the Broncos credit for their win over the Chargers last week, yet he had a point: It was only the second time this season the Chargers lost in the turnover margin, and they dropped both games. Philip Rivers’ touchdown-to-interception ratio going into the game was 21:4, but he threw two last week. All of that to say that against the Cardinals, the Chargers should just be sure not to beat themselves.Prediction: Chargers, 31-16 Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPNIt won’t be the anti-Rams-Chiefs game that many predicted, partly tongue-in-cheek. The Texans, on a seven-game winning streak, are capable of putting up numbers, even on a solid defense like that of Tennessee. DeAndre Hopkins should not be overlooked when All-Pro picks are made, and they’re going to get plenty out of Demaryiuis Thomas before season’s end. Marcus Mariota’s availability was still in question at midweek. If anything deflates the likelihood of a score-a-palooza, it’s that.Prediction: Texans, 30-21 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) at Denver Broncos (4-6)Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBSThe Broncos’ win over the Chargers was their sixth game this season decided by four points or fewer, and they’re 3-3. For all their faults, they have a shot in close games, so things are pretty simple against the Steelers. Pittsburgh clearly needed a wake-up call, and the Jaguars provided it, yet the Steelers still survived it. They need to stay away this week, too.Prediction: Steelers, 27-25Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBSThese don’t look like teams with identical records; the Colts have gotten their acts together in a hurry, on both sides of the ball, and the Dolphins’ 3-0 start has been proven to be a complete mirage. It still looks like Brock Osweiler at quarterback this week. The one comeback competing with Andrew Luck’s as the most impressive in the NFL is that of the Colts’ offensive line, which had been atrocious for years. None of that bodes well for the disappearing Dolphins.Prediction: Colts, 34-16Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBCIt’s a rematch of the Week 2 tie that, for multiple reasons (awful kicking, the cheesy Clay Matthews roughing-the-passer flag), should not have been a tie. That game now serves as a reminder of how average and underwhelming both teams have been despite two of the higher-profile (and well-paid) quarterbacks in the league. The loser will start to lose sight of playoff contention entering December, so there’s plenty on the line.Prediction: Packers, 24-22Tennessee Titans (5-5) at Houston Texans (7-3)last_img read more

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