Drew White | Staff Writer
Failures and successes. The end of some eras, and the beginnings of others. Comebacks and collapses. Streaks, both ending and beginning. And, of course, controversy. These are just a few words and ways to describe the most recent year in sports.
On the Bluff, Duquesne certainly saw it’s fair share of highs and lows. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams suffered through disappointment in the 2016-17 season as the men’s team finished 10-22 and at the bottom of the Atlantic 10. The women’s team, who was projected to finish near the top of the Atlantic 10, finished with a mediocre record of 18-16 and in the middle of the pack in the conference.
After the season, Duquesne parted with former men’s head coach Jim Ferry, hiring former Akron men’s coach Keith Dambrot to be take his place.
Miraculously, Dambrot seems to have found immediate success. After a 76-64 loss to Pitt at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 1, the Dukes have won 10 of 12 and won their first three games in the A-10.
Likewise, the women’s team has started strongly, currently boasting a 13-3 record overall and a 3-0 conference record.
On the football field, the Dukes looked strong all season, but a missed field goal against Central Connecticut State kept them out of the FCS playoffs and away from an NEC title. The team, led by a strong defense, graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stuart, and running back A.J. Hines, finished with a 7-4 record. The missed field goal left many Dukes fans wondering what could have been in an otherwise tremendous season.
Nationally, 2017 college football fans saw Clemson redeem itself from a loss to Alabama in the 2016 title game with a victory over the Crimson Tide in a title game rematch. Led by now-Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Tigers defeated Alabama 35-31 on a last-second touchdown.
Also on the gridiron, the world saw one of the greatest comebacks in sports history come to fruition when James White punched in the game-winning touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in overtime at Super Bowl LI. The score capped an incredible comeback effort that saw New England overcome a 25-point third quarter deficit to put itself at the top of the sport for the fifth time in the Tom Brady era.
The on-the-field display, however, was perhaps only the background to the main storyline in football this past year. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became one of the year’s biggest developments, as he began to protest against racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick’s protest reached every corner of the world in 2017, becoming one of the year’s biggest storylines.
On the hardwood, the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 to cap an exhilarating March Madness tournament.
Professionally, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors both rolled through their conferences and, as many analysts predicted, met in the Finals for a third straight year. After splitting the first two series, the Warriors rolled to a 4-1 game victory in 2017 in their first year with Kevin Durant.
Many analysts predict Part Four of the series to commence this summer, even after Cleveland dealt star guard Kyrie Irving to Boston on Aug. 22. Among other assets, Cleveland received Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder from the Celtics, who have helped the Cavaliers remain the East’s favorite.
On the ice, the city of Pittsburgh saw another victory parade as the Penguins brought home their second-straight Stanley Cup as they defeated the Nashville Predators in a six game series. Patric Hornqvist played hero this time as his goal in the final minutes of Game Six lifted the team to victory.
2017 also saw the newest addition of a Big Four North American professional sports franchise to Las Vegas as the Golden Knights became the 31st National Hockey League team and began play in Sin City. The team is currently off to the best start in NHL expansion history, leading the West in points with 60 at press time.
Months after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Houston, the Astros won their first World Series in franchise history as a few late season trades, most notably the acquisition of Justin Verlander, paid dividends for the American League champions as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a thrilling seven-game series.
Perhaps one of the biggest stories of the baseball season, though, was the 22-game win streak the Cleveland Indians enjoyed from Aug. 24 to Sept. 15. The streak is the longest in American League history and second-longest in MLB history; however, some consider it the longest because the 1916 New York Giants 26-game win streak included a tie.
Speaking of streaks, another one was finally broken this season, this one coming on the gridiron. Buffalo Bills fans finally saw their 18-year playoff drought come to an end, as an Andy Dalton-to-Tyler Boyd Week 17 miracle touchdown led the Cincinnati Bengals past the Baltimore Ravens, who needed to lose for the Bills to reach the postseason.
And who could forget the mega fight at T-Mobile Arena in late August between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor? Mayweather defeated McGregor, a UFC fighter, in 10 rounds via TKO. The fight was billed as the most-hyped fight of all-time, and while McGregor did surpass many skeptic’s expectations, Mayweather ultimately prevailed.
On the international stage, the United States saw the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. In March, the US won the World Baseball Classic title over Puerto Rico, the first-ever title in the event for the Americans as the beat the Puerto Ricans 8-0 in the championship game.
Then, in November, shock was sent across the nation when the men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 after a stunning 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago.
While 2017 was a great year for sports, it will be interesting to see what happens in 2018. Two big events upcoming to keep an eye on are the Super Bowl and the 2018 Winter Olympics, which should kick off another good year in sports.