|Lauren Avant (black jersey) was an athlete I was fortunate to cover this year.|
I've also spent the past year doing play-by-play announcing on Rhodes College athletics' home webcasts--football, men's and women's basketball, men's lacrosse, and, for the first time next week, baseball. It's been an awesome learning experience and a ton of fun--Rhodes football went 8-2 (the two losses by a combined 4 points), and the Lynx won a share of their conference championship with an upset of No. 19 (and previously undefeated) Millsaps at home the season's final game. Here's a link to Michael Shield's pick-six in the game's final minute that sealed the victory. https://db.tt/26aE0Rjg
On the basketball court, the men's and women's teams finished in the top half of their conference, and the women's team was particularly successful, going 24-5 on the year and winning the Southern Athletic Association's regular season and conference tournament championship. The Lady Lynx earned their second ever NCAA tournament berth, hosting a 1st & 2nd round regional for the second year in a row. They fell short of reaching the Sweet 16 by one bucket, battling back from a 17-point 2nd-half deficit against UT-Tyler before falling short in the final seconds. Senior captain Lauren Avant finished the year 2nd in the country in scoring (25.6 points per game) and was the only guard in any NCAA Division (1, 2 or 3, men's or women's) to score 25 points per game and shoot over 50% from the floor (53%, to be exact). She won conference player of the year, was named a D3Hoops.com and WBCA First-Team All American, and was also selected as a finalist for the WBCA's National Player of the year trophy.
[Sydney Moss, a sophomore forward at Thomas More College, won POY after scoring 27.8 ppg and shooting 60% from the floor. Moss, the biological daughter of former NFL player Randy Moss, set the D3 scoring record with 63 points in 1 game, and led TMC to an undefeated record all the way to the Elite 8 before suffering a devastating knee injury that ended her season and, consequently, her team's. Moss had transferred to TMC from the University of Florida after her freshman year; Avant had transferred from the University of Tennessee to Rhodes after her freshman year. Had Rhodes won its second-round game, Avant and Moss would have faced each other's teams in the Sweet 16. What a matchup that would've been...]
One of the more satisfying, humbling, and outstanding experiences of my year was getting to write a full profile of Lauren Avant that was eventually reprinted on D3Hoops.com. I could not have done it without Lauren trusting me to tell her story and giving so much of her time to me, and 5,000 words later, I truly felt able to say that I now knew someone who exemplified greatness. Here's a link: [http://www.d3hoops.com/playoffs/women/2014/rhodes-lauren-avant-full-of-determination]*. I suggest you read it--with apologies to my English professors, it's probably the best thing of length that I've ever written.
The Rhodes men's lacrosse program currently stands at 7-7 on the year, still growing in its 3rd varsity season. The Lynx are 1-4 in conference play, but their defense leads the country in clearing percentage, which is one of the undervalued statistics that coaches, players, and statisticians are now looking at as an important component of winning. They need more offense, and they'll get it, but it may not be until next year.
Rhodes baseball has, for the first time since I arrived in Memphis, been ranked consistently in the top 25 this season, and their baseball matchup with Birmingham Southern next weekend in Memphis may have huge implications for home-field hosting rights for the conference tournament later this month. I'm truly looking forward to calling the Easter series against the Panthers.
All of this is just to update you on what I've been up to. I want to be clear that I intend to keep writing, but it will not be on this blog unless I can figure out a way to transfer it over to my other Google account. I don't know if writing will be my living (at this moment, I'm preparing as hard as I can for making a career in play-by-play), but it always be a part of my living. I look forward to writing more soon. Til then, enjoy baseball and lacrosse this spring, and as Ms. Avant would say, appreciate every single win and the opportunity merely to be on-court, in whatever arena you choose, for a little while longer.
*Original title of the Avant piece: "The Hoop and The Harm"