Tag: Tony Rickards Utah

Rockets and Warriors

On Monday Night, were were treated to seeing the two best teams in the west duke it out for the first game in the Western Conference Finals. Though Golden State walked away having drawn first blood– 106-110– the real gem to watch is Houston. And of course, Curry, but that’s a different story for a different time.

See, at the start of the season, did anyone think the Houston Rockets would have made it this far? For some time, and especially since the arrival of James Harden, they have been perennial playoff contenders, though consistent first and second round exits. And for a while, it seemed like they were going down that path again. After going down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Rockets battled back and swept the last three games. In doing so, they became the ninth– ninth– team to pull that off in the history of the NBA. Sure, we can talk about how L.A. broke down, and how all they had to do was win one game. But the tenancity of the Rockets is something to be respected. Don’t ignore it. They may be down 1-0, but they aren’t going down without a fight. That’s for sure.

Trey Burke Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Yesterday, the NBA announced that Trey Burke, the Utah Jazz guard and defending champion, has been selected to take part in the 2015 Taco Bell Skills Challenge, as part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on February 14.  Burke will also be taking part in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge tonight in Brooklyn.

TNT will be exclusively televising the Skills Challenge.  The event will be fTony Rickards Utah Trey Burkeeaturing a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format for the first time.  The eight-player field consists of three-rounds in an obstacle-course competition, which shall be testing dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.  The Skills Challenge format calls for two players to compete simultaneously on an identical course with the fastest finisher reaching the next round.  In the first round, he eight players have been paired to participate in four head-to-head competitions.  Burke will be matching up against Brandon Knight of the Milwaukee Bucks.  The four winners will then advance to the second round, where the finalists will be determined by two more head-to-head showdowns.

Burke will be making his second appearance in the Skills Challenge, after having teamed with Portland’s Damian Lillard to win the competition last year in New Orleans.  As the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Burke has appeared in 48 games  (41 starts) this season, averaging at 13 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 32.1 minutes.  The 6-1 guard has scored in double figures in 34 contests, including 20-plus points on six separate occasions.  Burke has also registered three double-doubles of 10-plus assists and 10-plus points.  Burk is the second person on the Utah Jazz to compete in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night.  Back in 2008, Deron Williams won, and competed again in 2010.  As well as Burke vs. Knight, the other Skills Challenge matchups will include Kyle Lowry of Toronto facing Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague and Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams, and Philadelphia’s Isaiah Thomas against Washington’s John Wall.

How to Improve Your Speed

Tony Rickards Utah Sports

There are several ways you can increase speed

For any sport, speed is an essential part of the game.  It’s the key ingredient used to determine who has a better chance of winning.  In lacrosse, the faster you are, the quicker you will be able to pick-up ground balls, break away from defenders, and get closer to scoring.  Speed is something every player can work on to improve their chances of reaching success as an individual, and more importantly, as a whole team.

Being able to run faster is a long-term commitment, it takes time and a lot of training.  But it’s easy to accomplish if you set your mind to it.  To start, you should figure out your current speed is so that you are able measure your progress each week.  Timing how long it takes you to run a mile is a good way to calculate your current speed, and it’s also a helpful for building your endurance.  If you have access to a track it’s very easy to run a mile each day and calculate your speed with a stopwatch.  By doing this, you can also measure how many strides you take per minute, and once you calculate the strides, your goal should be to double that amount for the next mile you run.

Having a fixed schedule is an important aspect of training to improve your speed.  Running for five days a week on a set schedule will not only get you into great shape in terms of cardio-training, but it will give you the opportunity to get to know your own body and how long it takes you to maintain a steady pace.  Make sure you vary the length and speed of your runs so that you are not overworking your body.  Five days per week is a lot for cardio, so be sure to switch it up. Sprints are really helpful to disperse between your longer runs.  Not only do you build muscle-strength, but sprinting helps to regulate your breathing.

Another good tip to improve your individual speed is to set goals for yourself.  By setting a goal, your motivation level will increase and you’ll be more prone to achieving success.  Remember, you can have both long-term and short-term goals.  Perhaps one day you set your goal to run a mile in less than 8 minutes, and by the end of two weeks your goal is to run a mile in 7 minutes flat.  It’s important to keep yourself in tact with your long-term goal by completing a set of tasks day-by-day.

Keep in mind that you should not expect results in one day. Be patient – but push yourself.  With great speed comes great determination: when there’s a will, there’s a way.

2014 Baltimore Ravens Preview

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Things should be looking up for the 2014 Ravens.

It’s that time. The temperatures are getting cooler and the air is getting… crispier. The leaves are changing color and will soon be crunching beneath our feet. Football season is here. The NFL is back in full force. Over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell has been meticoulously chronicling the eight teams that probably won’t do to hot, as well as the eight teams that will probably drop off. But then there’s the eight teams that can expect a turnaround this season. Let’s take the time to look at one of them in depth. Topping Barnwell’s list of “The Rising” is the Baltimore Ravens. Needless to say, unless you were a diehard Steelers fan, last season’s outing was a complete let down. This was a team stripped of veterans Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Anquan Boldin. Dennis Pitta was injured, leaving Tight End duties to Ed Dickson and an aging Dallas Clark. Torrey Smith was the go to whenever Flacco aired it out, and his only relief in pressure came from the emergence of Marlon Browne. And then there was that running attack, or lack thereof. Let’s just not go there. Really, these guys just could not move the ball at all, and their schedule wasn’t even particularly difficult. It’s really saying something when your team names the Kicker most valuable player. But there are some glints of hope to come with this 2014 squad. For one, Gary Kubiak is implementing his new offensive system. Now before you start clamoring about the Texans’ abysmal record last year, just remember how dominant they were in the AFC South in the four years prior to 2013- that’s right, they led in scoring. Also take into account that a terrible coach does not necessarily make for a terrible coordinator. The Texas thrived on play action, and last year Joe Flacco was at his best on the PA. It’s like a match made in heaven. Yes, Flacco had some serious accuracy issues last year, throwing the most interceptions in franchise history, but you have to think about the double team. Ed Dickson was barely reliable at best, and Marlon Brown, though he showed promise, was still a rookie getting his groove. That left Torrey Smith, and every defense in the league knew that on any given pass attempt, the ball was going to him. Double team away. But the addition of Steve Smith, Sr. and the return of a healthy Dennis Pitta will definitely make this 2014 squad something to watch out for.