By Adam Lindner | Sports Editor
July is finally here, and for sports fans, July signifies the beginning of free agency in both the NBA and the NHL.
Despite a slow beginning to NBA free agency, the league has had no shortage of storylines recently, as several marquee names have been traded.
On June 22, Jimmy Butler was traded from Chicago to Minnesota, likely jettisoning the young Timberwolves into the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons next year. Six days later, Chris Paul was dealt from Los Angeles to Houston, where he will join forces with fellow All-NBA guard James Harden. It’s believed that Houston is still in the mix to add yet another star, and has been linked to Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
On June 30, Oklahoma City shocked the league as they acquired Paul George from Indiana for a modest return of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. George, believed to be interested in making a move to Los Angeles after his current contract expires following this season, will partner with league MVP Russell Westbrook for the time being.
In the biggest free agent move to date, former Hawks forward Paul Millsap signed a three-year, $90 million contract with the Denver Nuggets. Free agency’s biggest name, Gordon Hayward, remains undecided.
The NHL has seen many major developments, as well. Former Capitals D-man Kevin Shattenkirk is now a New York Ranger, Alexander Radulov is making the move from Montreal to Dallas, and Patrick Marleau is leaving San Jose for Toronto, among other moves.
The Penguins saw a mass exodus of their unrestricted free agents once free agency began, as general manager Jim Rutherford & Co. seemed adamant about not overpaying to keep certain names on the roster.
Beloved third-line center Nick Bonino signed a four-year, $16.4 million contract with the Nashville Predators, fresh off of a Stanley Cup victory against them.
Winger Chris Kunitz (Tampa Bay) and defensemen Trevor Daley (Detroit) and Ron Hainsey (Toronto) departed, too, leaving the Penguins with spaces to fill, yet with the cap flexibility to do it, also.
The Penguins signed defenseman Matt Hunwick and backup goalie Antti Niemi to fill immediate needs, and made several additional signings to shore up the depth of the team.
Justin Schultz re-signed with the franchise for a rich $16.5 million over the course of the next three years, and the Penguins will presumably re-sign restricted free agents Conor Sheary and Brian Dumoulin in the near future, too.
It remains to be seen if 40-year-old center Matt Cullen will return to the team or retire.
The Pirates, in the midst of their 162-game slate, sit at a subpar 37-45 a week before the All-Star Break. Coming off of a home sweep by dismal San Francisco, the Bucs open a four-game set in Philadelphia tonight at 7:05 p.m.
An interesting storyline to follow involving the team in the coming weeks is whether they will choose to buy, sell, or stand pat at the trade deadline. Andrew McCutchen, the talk of trade rumors for months now, had a sizzling June that saw him bat .411 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. McCutchen was named the NL Player of the Month for June. Pitcher Gerrit Cole has been mentioned in trade rumors, too.
Josh Harrison will be the lone Pirate to participate in the All-Star Game on June 11. Harrison is batting .288 this season.
While professional sports have been the focus of many recently, collegiate teams are quietly preparing for their upcoming seasons, as well. In a little over a month, students will be returning to school, and the college football season will commence soon after that.
In anticipation of what the next season of college sports will bring, here’s a look at some of the most recent developments on the Bluff.
Even with offseason workouts underway, coach Keith Dambrot hasn’t stopped recruiting. For the fifth time since becoming the head coach at Duquesne, Dambrot has added a transfer that will be eligible to play for the 2018-19 season.
Frankie Hughes, a former Missouri guard, has committed to play for Dambrot and Duquesne. The former three-star recruit committed originally to Louisville out of high school, but reopened his recruitment after becoming uncomfortable with the situation Louisville’s basketball program is in with the NCAA.
Before committing to former Tigers head coach Kim Anderson, Hughes held offers from other top programs, including Florida State, Dayton, Wichita State and Wisconsin.
Hughes, who averaged 7.6 points per game as a freshman, joins Tavian Dunn-Martin (Akron), Mike Hughes (Akron), Marcus Weathers (Miami, Ohio) and Craig Randall (Memphis) as transfers to the Duquesne program.
In addition to beginning offseason training, the men’s basketball team has participated in exercises under the supervision of sports psychologist, Dr. Joe Carr.
A short video, published by Duquesne Athletics on YouTube, gave fans insight into what the team’s experience was like.
The last major order of business that the basketball program has to straighten out in preparation of the upcoming season is the announcement of their non-conference schedule. Though nothing official has been revealed, star guard Mike Lewis II, a St. Louis, Missouri, native, hinted at a potential matchup with SEC school Missouri:
Duquesne’s 2017 volleyball schedule has formally been announced. The Dukes, who will host the Atlantic 10 Championship, will play three teams that qualified for the 2016 tournament this season.
Notably, on September 1-2, Duquesne will host the annual Duquesne Invitational at the A.J. Palumbo Center. The in-season tournament will see Duquesne play host to Canisius, Coppin State, Northern Kentucky and rival Robert Morris.
In the school’s first year sporting Nike, Duquesne will play in the Nike Invitational on September 8-9 in Eugene, Oregon. The Dukes will compete against Oregon, Wichita State, and Cal Poly. Both Oregon and Wichita State made the NCAA tournament in 2016.
Atlantic 10 conference play begins on September 23 for the Dukes when they play host to George Mason. The next night, they will welcome George Washington to the Bluff.
The Dukes will play against the defending A-10 champions, Dayton, on September 29.
The six-team A-10 Championship will be held at the Palumbo Center, beginning on November 17th.
Swimming and Diving
On June 30, swimming and diving head coach Dave Sheets released the 2017-18 season schedule.
The upcoming season will be the first year of competition for the Duquesne diving program since 2000-2001.
The Dukes will begin the season on October 6 at home with its annual Pentathlon/Alumni Meet. Soon after, the Dukes will open Atlantic 10 competition on October 20-21 at the Richmond Duels.
Following the Richmond Duels, Duquesne will travel to Geneva, Ohio to compete against George Mason, La Salle, St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis in the A-10 Quad Meet on October 28-29.
Following the end of the regular season, the Dukes will participate in the 2018 A-10 Championship, which will be held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio from February 14-17.
The 2017-18 season is a highly anticipated one for the Dukes, as they hope that the supplementation of a diving component will aid the program in its quest for an Atlantic 10 Championship.
Szamosi, Greba nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year
On June 27, 2017, it was announced that Duquesne’s Amadea Szamosi and Autumn Greba were two of the Atlantic 10’s 13 nominees for the NCAA’s Woman of the Year award.
Szamosi, a star forward for Duquesne women’s basketball, was an All-Conference Third Team selection as a senior, and was named to the 2017 All Atlantic-10 Championship Team. She helped the program to an A-10 regular season title, as well as back-to-back championship final appearances. She was a member of Duquesne’s first-ever NCAA Tournament team her junior season.
Additionally, according to the Duquesne Athletics website, “the senior from Pécs, Hungary was named to the U20 European Championship All-Tournament Team. She was named to the Duquesne Dean’s List and Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five times, graduating Cum Laude in May, and has secured a position with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Szamosi is an active member of several campus organizations, including the Duquesne Entrepreneurial Alliance, Phi Beta Lambda and Lambda Sigma. Szamosi volunteered her time with the Lupus Loop, the Women’s Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Arts Festival, TreeVitalize and Dia los Mujertos.”
Greba, a standout competitor for the Cross Country and Track & Field teams, earned All-Conference Team honors as a junior in Cross Country. Additionally, the senior graduated Summa Cum Laude and was on the Dean’s List and the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll all eight semesters of her enrollment.
Per the Duquesne Athletics website, “she was named to the A-10 All-Academic teams in cross county, indoor and outdoor track and was CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team in 2016 and 2017. Greba was a nominee and eventual runner-up for the Duquesne McAnulty College of Liberal Arts General Excellence Award. She served as president of the Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership) and the Sigma Tau Delta (international English) honor societies, and was student treasurer and student president of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, where she also was the undergraduate representative to the National Board of Directors.”
The NCAA Woman of the Year Award is one of the most prestigious NCAA awards, the NCAA established the Woman of the Year Award in 1991 to celebrate the achievements of women in intercollegiate athletics. Now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.
After the Atlantic 10 and all other leagues have selected up to two conference nominees, the Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees — 10 from each division. The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.
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