Women’s Basketball: Tennessee ‘just another team’ to Dayton

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 7:05 PM
Updated: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 7:05 PM

With their schedule getting tougher each year, the Dayton women’s basketball players have learned to take games against power-five conference teams in stride.

And it’s no different as they enter the NCAA Tournament on Saturday against traditional juggernaut Tennessee.

“We are just going to focus on what we can do. They are just another team,” guard JaVonna Layfield said Friday before practice at the KFC Yum! Center. “We can’t get caught up in all of that.”

The Flyers, 22-9, put that focus to the test today at 4 p.m. Host Louisville and Chattanooga play at 1:30. The winners meet Monday for a chance at the Sweet 16.

“Every team you play is great,” Dayton coach Shauna Green said. “You have to approach things with the right mindset. I think our schedule prepared us.”

Here are five things to watch today:

1. Common opponent

The Flyers and Volunteers each played Texas A&M. The Flyers defeated the Aggies 74-47 in a holiday tournament in Florida on Dec. 20. Tennessee lost to the Aggies 61-59 on Feb. 12.

“Obviously A&M is a completely different style than we are,” Green said. “We know we are going to have to be as sharp as possible to win the basketball game.”

2. Get it and go

Dayton likes to get the rebound and run. The Flyers average 66.1 points while Tennessee averages 73.9, but the Volunteers have allowed teams to shoot 39 percent from the floor.

“It comes down to defense and rebounding,” Green said. “I think we play at a faster pace. We like to get out and run and try to get some easy baskets in transition.”

3. Battle of the boards

The Flyers average 42 rebounds to 41 for their opponents. Post play will be big.

Dayton has seniors Saicha Grant-Allen (6-foot-5) and Andrijana Cvitikovic (6-3) along with freshman Alex Harris (6-1) in the post. Tennessee counters with Mercedes Russell (6-6) and also features Diamond DeShields (6-1), daughter of former major leaguer Delino DeShields, now the manager of the Reds’ Class AAA team in Louisville.

“I would say I enjoy playing against shot blockers,” Russell said. “I know Dayton has a couple of posts that like to block shots and I think that is always a fun, challenging game.”

4. On a roll

Dayton enters having won 19 of its last 22 games, claiming the Atlantic 10 regular-season and conference tournament titles.

Tennessee dropped its opener in the Southeastern Conference tournament 72-64 to Alabama and is 6-4 in its final 10 games heading into the tournament.

5. Depth and pace

Dayton has 10 players that who average 10 or more minutes while Tennessee has six.

“We have to use our strengths,” Green said. “(Rotating players in) is something we have done all year and we like to play with a lot of pace and I think our depth helps us. Hit or miss, we want to have the ball down the floor and a shot up in six seconds or less. That’s who we are.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

NCAA women’s tournament, first round

No. 12 Dayton vs. No. 5 Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPN2

Bengals take a gamble on Oklahoma running back Mixon

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 10:45 PM

The Cincinnati Bengals gambled Friday night by trading down seven spots in the second round. Whether they won or lost depends on your view on the value of forgiveness, redemption and rehabilitation.

Actually, whether they won or lost may not be known for many years, until Joe Mixon exits the NFL as a redeemed or repeat offender.

The Bengals drafted the controversial running back from Oklahoma with the 48th overall pick knowing full well they are about to absorb a public relations firestorm by paying millions of dollars to someone who three years ago as an 18-year-old freshman punched a 19-year-woman, fracturing four bones in her face.

“Obviously this is a pick that opens everybody’s eyes,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon throughout the entire process this year. Based on all the time, all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward.

“We’ve done all of our due diligence we can do, time spent interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma for insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day.”

The punch occurred at 2:30 a.m. on July 25, 2014, a few hours after Mixon had celebrated his 18th birthday. Mixon was charged with a misdemeanor and received a one-year deferred prison sentence. He also had to do 100 hours of community service and mandatory cognitive behavioral counseling and was suspended for his freshman season.

On April 21, the woman Mixon punched, Amelia Molitor, agreed to drop her civil suit and the two released a joint statement.

“I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end,” Molitor said in the statement. “Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experience since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives.

“We both could have handled things differently,” the statement continues. “I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”

Lewis said that settlement played a role in the decision to draft Mixon.

“Joe’s situation kind of came to a settlement in all ways this week, which also led us to feel better about the opportunity here and to move forward,” Lewis said.

Asked how much of the public reaction the team considered before drafting Mixon, Lewis said “every bit of it.”

“I think some of our fans are probably going to pause for a second,” he continued. “But this thing’s got to move forward. He’s got to move on. He’s lived with this since the day it occurred and he’s done a good job of carrying himself through that.”

After being reinstated in 2015, Mixon rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also caught 65 passes for 894 yards and nine scores in his two seasons with Oklahoma.

He was viewed by many as the top running back in the draft and an overall top-10 talent, but many teams were reluctant to draft Mixon given his past.

Mixon was emotional when he talked to reporters via a conference call a half hour after the Bengals drafted him.

“I’m still sitting here crying,” he said. “I can’t believe it. I’m very thankful and very honored to be a Cincinnati Bengal.”

Mixon said he’s a different person than he was three years ago when the punch changed his life.

“It changed me a lot as a person,” he said. “The way you think, the way you carry yourself and go about things. The way Oklahoma helped me, I can’t thank them enough either. I’m going to continue to keep doing the right thing around the community, on and off the field, and I’m going to prove to them the reason they kept me. I’m going to do whatever I can to make them proud and make them happy and I’m looking forward to doing that with the Cincinnati Bengals as well.”

Cincinnati traded the 41st overall pick to Minnesota for the Vikings’ second- and fourth-round picks

The deal moved the Bengals back seven picks in the second round and gave them the 128th overall pick in the fourth round. The Bengals also own the 116th and 138th overall picks in the fourth.

The last time the Bengals traded down was in 2012 when they struck a deal with New England to move down six spots from 21 to 27 while also getting the Patriots’ third-round pick (93rd overall).

New England took Chandler Jones at 21, and the Bengals took Kevin Zeitler at 27. Cincinnati parlayed the 93rd pick into Brandon Thompson.

Cincinnati Bengals draft controversial running back Joe Mixon

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 7:59 PM
Updated: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 9:05 PM

After trading down seven spots in the second round Friday night, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted controversial running back Joe Mixon with the 48th overall pick.

Mixon became a national lighting rod when video from 2014 surfaced of him punching a 19-year-old woman, fracturing four bones in her face. He was suspended for the 2014 season but return to play for the Sooners in 2015 and 2016, rushing for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns. Mixon also caught 65 passes for 894 yards and nine scores in his two seasons with Oklahoma.

»RELATED: Bengals stay true to themselves with Mixon pick

»RELATED: Social media reaction to Bengals drafting Mixon

“Obviously this is a pick that opens everybody’s eyes,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon throughout the entire process this year. Based on all the time, all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward.

“Joe’s situation kind of came to a settlement in all ways this week, which also led us to feel better about the opportunity here and to move forward. We’ve done all of our due diligence we can do, time spent interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma for insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day.”

Mixon joins Jeremy Hill, who is in the final year of his contract, and Giovani Bernard, who is coming off ACL surgery, in the Bengals backfield.

Earlier report: The Cincinnati Bengals traded the 41st overall pick to Minnesota for the Vikings’ second- and fourth-round pick.

The deal moves the Bengals back seven picks in the second round and gives the 128th overall pick in the fourth.

The last time the Bengals traded down was in 2012 when they struck a deal with New England to move down six spots from 21 to 27 while also getting the Patriots’ third-round pick (93rd overall).

New England took Chandler Jones at 21, and the Bengals took Kevin Zeitler at 27. Cincinnati parlayed the 93rd pick into Brandon Thompson.

Bengals draft defensive end Willis in third round

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 12:11 AM

The Cincinnati Bengals continued their shopping spree for speed Friday night in the third round when they took Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis, whose 4.53 40-yard dash at the Combine was the fastest of any defensive lineman.

The pick comes after their first-round selection of wide receiver John Ross, who broke the Combine record with a 4.22, and the second-round pick of running back Joe Mixon, who ran a 4.43 at his pro day.

But it’s not just Willis’ feet that run at impressive speed. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder’s motor runs non-stop as well.

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“He plays hard every snap,” Guenther said. “In that league (Big 12), there’s a lot of passing teams that have 80, 85, 90 snaps a game, and he never come off the field. He’s always running to the ball. When you look at the guy — to start it off — we did extensive research on a lot of these guys across the board, the different measurements and sizes and all those things, and that’s what really stood off the tape to watch with him is how hard he plays.

“Anytime you have a guy that plays as hard as he does, it gets to everybody,” Guenther added.

›› RELATED: Bengals take a gamble on Joe Mixon

Willis was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the Most Oustanding Player for the South squad in the Senior Bowl. A second team All-American as a senior, he was a four-year letterwinner at Kansas State, appearing 48 games with 39 starts. His 26 career stats are third most in school history and are tied for seventh in Big 12 annals.

“He’s a fundamentalist,” defensive line coach Jacob Burney. “He plays the run well. He plays with good hand placement, a flat back, nice (rear), good leverage, good knee bend, those hips — he’s got good fundamentals about him. And he can go rush as well. He knows how to rush. He’s a student of the game and really studies the tackles. And he’s relentless from that stand point. Tremendous upside with this guy.”

›› RELATED: Need for speed fulfilled with John Ross

NFL.com projected Willis as a second rounder, and he admitted he was surprised he lasted until the 73rd overall pick.

“My agent and I kept an open mind for what could happen,” he said. “He gave me a range between 19th and 45th. I don’t know exactly why I got to the point where I’m at. I don’t know why teams passed on me. I don’t know exactly what the deal was.”

Willis said being overlooked is nothing new for him after Kansas State was his only Division I offer coming out of high school in Kansas City, Mo.

“I’m in the same position as I was there,” he said. “Like one of my pre-senior seasons, nobody was talking about me, I wasn’t on anybody’s awards for defensive player of the year or anything like that. And then I show up at the end of the year, I’m Defensive Player of the Year. And same thing with this year — no one was talking about me, I wasn’t in any conversations on TV networks. Same thing at the combine. No one talked about me, even though I gave the overall best performance at the combine.

›› MORE: Bengals first-round pick clears air about durability

“It’s been like that my whole entire career,” he continued. “I’ve never been in the conversation, but I always find a way to get in the conversation.”

Willis began his career at KSU playing right defensive end but played exclusively on the left side as a senior.

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With two-time Pro Bowler Carlos Dunlap entrenched as LDE for the Bengals, Willis will battled for a spot in the rotation behind starter Michael Johnson on the right side.

“Obviously, he’s going to start from the back and work his way in just like all the guys that come in here,” Guenther said. “But I think even having an extra guy at defensive end, it takes some of the snaps off guys we already have, so it makes everybody fresh to play in those games. Like I said, he’s not just a pass rusher. He can play all downs, all the time. It’s a good guy to have in the arsenal.”

NFL Draft: 3 more Ohio State Buckeyes taken on night 2

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 8:01 PM

Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel tries to avoid a tackle against Rutgers’ Blessuan Austin on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

After three Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, another trio went Friday night in rounds two and three. 

Here are capsules for the newest OSU draftees: 

Curtis Samuel, receiver, eighth pick of second round (40 overall) by the Carolina Panthers 

▪ 40th receiver from Ohio State drafted in the common draft era (since 1967)

▪ Last: Braxton Miller, third round, 2016 by the Texans

▪ First: Bob Rein, seventh round, 1967 by the Colts

▪ Ohio State has had five receivers drafted in the last three years, including two each of the past two seasons. Three of them (Samuel, Devin Smith, Michael Thomas) have been second-round picks. 

Samuel is the 5th Ohio State player drafted by the Panthers

▪ Last: Nate Salley, safety, fourth round 2006

▪ First: Matt Finkes, DE, second round, 1997 

Raekwon McMillan, linebacker, 22nd pick of second round (54th overall) by the Miami Dolphins 

▪ 51st linebacker from Ohio State drafted in the common draft era (since 1967)

▪ Last: Darron Lee, first round, 2016 by the Jets

▪ First: Nick Roman, 10th round, 1970 by the Bengals

▪ Ohio State has had three linebackers taken in the last two drafts after Lee and Joshua Perry were both selected last season. 

McMillan is the 13th Ohio State player drafted by the Dolphins

▪ Last: Austin Spitler, linebacker, seventh round 2010

▪ First: Bruce Elia, linebacker, fourth round, 1975

Pat Elflein, offensive lineman, sixth pick of third round (70th overall) by the Minnesota Vikings 

▪ 46th offensive lineman from Ohio State drafted in the common draft era (since 1967)

▪ Last: Taylor Decker, first round, 2016 by the Lions

▪ First: Mike Current, third round, 1967 by the Broncos

▪ Ohio State has had five offensive linemen drafted in the five drafts since Urban Meyer’s first season as the coach of the Buckeyes. Elflein is the second center (Corey Linsley, fifth round, Packers, 2014) in that timespan. 

Elflein is the 11th Ohio State player drafted by the Vikings

▪ Last: Ross Homan, linebacker, seventh round 2011

▪ First: Leo Hayden, halfback, first round, 1971 

*******

Raekwon McMillan became the fourth Ohio State player drafted in 2017 when the Miami Dolphins took him with the 54th pick.

The 22nd pick in the second round, McMillan is a 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker who was a two-time All-Big Ten selection.

A little while later, the Minnesota Vikings chose offensive lineman Pat Elflein with the sixth pick of the third round.

Elflein, a three-time All-Big Ten pick who won the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center in 2016, was the 70th pick overall.

*******

Curtis Samuel became the first Ohio State Buckeye taken in the second round of the 2017 draft when the Carolina Panthers selected him with the eight pick.

A New York native who played receiver and running back for the Buckeyes, Samuel is another new offensive weapon for quarterback Cam Newton, whose team used its first pick in the draft on Stanford standout running back Christian McCaffrey.

Samuel is the third player from Ohio State’s class of 2014 to be drafted, joining Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore.

He is the first player from Ohio State drafted by the Panthers since Nate Salley in 2006.