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What happened when our sports columnist tried to learn to play volleyball? 

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 3:37 PM

As part of an on-going series, CMG Ohio sports columnist Marcus Hartman is trying his hand at various sports. He started with volleyball at Alter High School.

Volleyball is the best sport to lead off my participatory journalism project for multiple reasons. 

First and foremost: I’ve tried a lot of different sports in my 30-some years, and I don’t think I’ve ever been worse at anything else. 

With the exception of kicking a football, I think I could at least fake it with almost anything — except volleyball. 

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I mean, I am reliably able to keep the ball from hitting me in the face but never able to actually make it go up high enough to go back over the net — or, you know, even in the direction fo the net or a teammate. 

As a teenager in the prime of my athletic years, my lack of volleyball ability was such that even taking the high school coach’s daughter to prom didn’t help (she said it was OK if I posted that). 

By adulthood, I was so spooked I refused to even jump into sand volleyball games with my friends (despite prodding from my future wife), so I guess it was just karma that led Craig Erford to be the first person to reach out to me when I announced I wanted to get back in the game (any game). 

Erford is the boys’ volleyball coach at Alter, and he opened up his practice to me in May. 

How did it go? 

Well, it could have gone a lot worse… 

I learned to set, dig, pass and serve. 

The Knights seemed surprised when I actually was able to direct a few serves into their practice basket, so maybe I’m a natural? 

The digging and passing, well that was another story, as you can see in the video at the top of this story. 

(I was hoping maybe if I had a future as a setter I wouldn’t have to do those things as much, but a friend of mine who was a college setter assured me that is not the case. Dang.) 

My serve got off to a slow start, but I started to get the hang of it as we went. 

It was great just to learn the real techniques for all of these essential parts of the game, but of course it will take a lot more practice to become proficient – let alone be able to hang with a team like Alter, which advanced to the state tournament as usual but came up short in the Division II championship game

FLASHBACK: Knights pull off four-peat at state in 2017

They didn’t let me scrimmage, and that’s probably for the best, but overall I would give the experience an A. 

I came away soaked in sweat and feeling pretty content that I had at least not embarrassed myself too badly. 

Coach Erford and the players could not have been more gracious of hosts. 

(I thought there might be at least one hotshot looking to take me out, but that was not the case, haha.) 

I had some general soreness the next day but no notable injuries other than a few red badges of courage on my forearms. 

I also got a better idea of just how players who know what they’re doing generate so much force with seemingly so little action. 

Sure, the hitters swing big on those high-profile spikes, but what about the serves that just explode off a player’s hand? The digs that look like a superball coming off a cement wall? 

Hey, it’s all in the technique (and probably more than two hours of practice)! 

That wraps up the first edition of this little project. If you would like to take part, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at marcus.hartman@coxinc.com. You name the sport, and I’ll give it a try! 

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NBA Draft: Middletown’s Edwards selected in second round

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 11:48 PM

Purdue's Vincent Edwards shoots  during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Little Caesars Arena on March 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Purdue's Vincent Edwards shoots during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Little Caesars Arena on March 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Middletown High School graduate Vincent Edwards was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 22nd pick in the second round of the NBA Draft on Thursday. He was the 52nd overall pick. The Utah Jazz traded the pick to the Rockets.

According to reports, in the weeks leading up to the draft, Edwards worked out for the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, New York Knights and New Jersey Nets. 

Edwards, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored 1,638 points in four seasons at Purdue. He made the All-Big Ten second team as a senior, averaging 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He shot 47.6 percent from the field and made 39.8 percent of his 3-pointers.

Edwards is the son of Bill Edwards Sr., a Carlisle High School graduate who is the all-time leading scorer at Wright State (2,303 points). Edwards Sr. was undrafted but played in three games for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1994.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, four men born in Middletown have played in the NBA or ABA: Edwards Sr., Bill Hanzlik (Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin), Luke Kennard (Franklin High School) and Jerry Lucas. 

The elder Edwards played three games for the Phoenix Suns in the 1993-94 season. 

Along with Lucas, a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team, Middletown High School also produced Butch Carter, who played in the NBA for six seasons and was head coach of the Toronto Raptors. 

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Middletown’s Harrison dominant in mixed-martial arts debut

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:08 PM

Kayla Harrison, of the United States, celebrates after defeating Audrey Tcheumeo of France during the women's -78kg gold medal judo contest on Day 6 of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Carioca Arena 2 on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Kayla Harrison, of the United States, celebrates after defeating Audrey Tcheumeo of France during the women's -78kg gold medal judo contest on Day 6 of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Carioca Arena 2 on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Middletown native Kayla Harrison won her professional mixed-martial arts debut Thursday night against Brittney Elkin, of Denver, in a Professional Fighters League 155-pound lightweight bout in Chicago.

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalists in judo, got Elkin on the ground early and dominated the fight, finishing it off three minutes, 18 seconds into round one.

“Kayla Harrison golden in her debut,” the NBC Sports announcer said.

“She won every moment of that bout,” another announcer said.

MORE HARRISON: Kayla Harrison shares inspiring message with Middletown crowd | Middletown cheers Harrison to another Olympic gold

The Professional Fighters League is a new MMA promotion that held its first event earlier this month. The Harrison-Elkin fight was one of five on the main card.

Harrison is following in the footsteps of former training partner Ronda Rousey, who was also a well-known judoka before she became an MMA superstar in the UFC. 

“Ronda is always going to be, I think, that little ‘rabbit’ in front of me,” Harrison said via MMAJunkie.com. “When I was 16 and I moved to (coach Jimmy) Pedro’s, she was the superstar. She was the golden girl. She was the one everyone was watching. Every day, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be her some day. I’m going to be better than her. Anything she can do, I can do better.’ It helped take me to the highest levels of my sport. 

“So I don’t see this being any different. It’s positive motivation for me. It’s healthy. I think it’s always healthy to have something to chase, something to look forward to.”

Earlier this month, Harrison told reporters she battled depression after wrapping up her second successful Olympic run two years ago but has fallen in love with the competition provided by MMA. 

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Dayton draft drought ends as Antetokounmpo chosen with last pick

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 12:04 AM

Who is Kostas Antetokounmpo? Facts about the former Dayton forward

A 28-year drought ended for the Dayton Flyers on Thursday as the Dallas Mavericks selected Kostas Antetokounmpo, a 6-foot-10 forward, with the 30th and last pick of the second round in the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was the 60th player chosen overall.

» RELATED: Anthony Grant talks about Dayton’s offseason

Antetokounmpo, 20, is the first Dayton player drafted since Negele Knight in 1990. The Phoenix Suns drafted Knight in the second round.

Dayton had 38 players drafted between 1952 and 1990. Twenty Flyers have played in the NBA, including four undrafted players (Chris Wright, Chris Johnson, Brian Roberts and Charles Cooke) since Knight was drafted.

Antetokounmpo seeks to become the third member of his family to play in the NBA. His brother Giannis Antetokounmpo, 23, was the 15th pick of the first round in 2013 and now is one of the top players in the league. He averaged 26.9 points per game last season for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 25, played in two games in 2016 for the New York Knicks. He was a second-round pick in 2014.

» KOSTAS STORIES: High ceilingTrying to live up to his name | A star in victory over Saint Louis

The 6-foot-10 Antetokounmpo committed to Dayton in June 2016 but sat out his freshman season as a NCAA partial qualifier.

Antetokounmpo debuted in the 2017-18 season and averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game. He led the team with 31 blocks. He appeared in 29 of 32 games and started six games.

» RELATED: Negele Knight last Dayton player to be drafted in 1990

In late March, weeks after the end of a 14-17 season, Antetokounmpo left the program and the university.

“His mindset was he wants to test the waters to see what his prospects are for being in the NBA,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “And he felt it was in his best interest to leave school to do it. I’m not trying to judge his decision in terms of basketball, but the timing of his leaving did surprise me with just six weeks of school left.”

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Dayton’s Anthony Grant reflects on winning gold, talks about offseason plans for Flyers

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 3:03 PM

Dayton Flyers: A look at 2018-19 roster

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant returned to Dayton earlier this week after helping coach the United States U-18 team to gold in the FIBA Americas Championship.

Grant spoke on Thursday about his experiences at the tournament in Saint Catharines, Ont., and his thoughts on Dayton’s offseason.

» RELATED: ‘High ceiling’ gives Antetokounmpo chance of getting drafted

Here’s a quick recap of the conversation. There will be more to follow this weekend.

On winning gold: “I had a blast. It was a fun group to work with. Coach (Danny) Manning and coach (Bill) Self were awesome, just really down-to-earth guys who did a really great job with the team. I told the guys, ‘To me, watching the way they came together within two and a half weeks, it was like a team that had been together for five or six months.’”

On spring workouts: “The first summer session was really for our returning players to continue the improvements and get better in the weight room. We used the time on the court for skill work and individual development.”

» LOCAL CONNECTIONS: Players to watch in NBA Draft

On upcoming second summer session: “All of our guys are here now. We’ve got all 11 scholarship players here. Obviously, we’ve had some transition with our strength coach and with one of the assistant coaches (Casey Cathrall and James Kane leaving the program), so now it’s a matter of as we move forward not only the individual development in terms of skill but also introducing the new guys and returning guys to each other, trying to get them familiar with some of the basics of what we do offensively and defensively.”

On losing Kane and Cathrall: “Those guys were great pieces to our staff, and certainly — I speak on behalf of our players and our staff — we’ll miss them because they were great people first and foremost, and I think they did a great job, which created the opportunities that they felt were best for them at this stage in their careers. We wish them luck. We’ll move forward.”

On his impressions of newcomers: “They’re great kids. I think we’ve got a really good group. You’ve two freshmen coming in who will play (Dwayne Cohill and Frankie Policelli), and then Jhery (Matos), the junior college guy coming in, and the two transfers (Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatman). So we’ve got five new pieces, three of which will be eligible to play next year, but all five of them will have a strong impact on our team.”

» ATLANTIC 10 NEWS: Catching up on offseason news

On whether Dayton will add any players to the roster for the 2018-19 season: “I wouldn’t rule anything out. Obviously, you’re always keeping your eyes and ears open for what’s out there. we’ll see what happens.”

On Kostas Antetokounmpo’s draft chances Thursday: “We’ll get a chance to watch it, and hopefully he’ll have a good outcome for himself, whether that be the opportunity to hear his name called or just to get in a good situation where he has a great chance to make a roster and pursue his goals and dreams. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for both he and Darrell (Davis) that they get a good situation to pursue the chance to make money playing the game.”

Dayton Flyers in NBA: Top 10 career scorers(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

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