Take 5 | The Nets’ NBA Title hopes on life-support, college baseball’s time is now


AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Brooklyn Nets forward David Duke Jr. (6) dunks against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in New York. The Raptors won 133-97.

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s edition of the Take 5, The Pitt News Sports Desk takes a look at topics in the NBA, the NFL Draft and more.

College baseball’s time is now // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

Major League Baseball has dominated the summer circuit of commercialized sports in the United States for years. There are few other options besides professional baseball for sports fans in the summer months once basketball and hockey wrap up.

With no end to the MLB lockout in sight, the door has opened for the college level of the sport.

Unlike basketball and football, the collegiate counterpart of America’s pastime hasn’t gained traction as a mainstream sport. The idea of watching college baseball on a regular basis may seem niche to some. But without any professional games slated to take place for the foreseeable future, ESPN and other major networks may opt to air college games.

Additionally, college baseball encapsulates an element of college sports that can’t be replicated at the professional level — fun.

Sure, the Major Leagues have seemingly come around on bat flips and general flashiness amongst its players, but how about a beer shower in the outfield when a player hits a home run?

Traditions like this are part of what makes college sports so enjoyable — and the time to capitalize has arrived for college baseball.

The Nets’ NBA Title hopes are on life-support // Alexander Ganias, Staff Writer

The Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year contracts on June 30, 2019, and traded for James Harden on Jan. 14, 2021. The Nets expected to bring the Nets their first NBA championship in team history with the star-studded roster.

But with the third year of those contracts coming to a close and Harden no longer on the team, how likely is it that the boys from Brooklyn will make due on that expectation?

One of the glaring issues with the Nets is that their three best players have barely played together. Durant’s knees, Harden’s lack of desire to play for the Nets and Irving’s refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, equated to the three playing together in just a combined 16 games.

The Nets are 32-31 as of Thursday, good for No. 8 in the Eastern Conference Standings with only 18 games to go as of today, but there may be hope yet. Along with Durant and a part-time Irving, the Nets also added Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic to help with the late-season push.

Even then, winning a ring will be a tall task. The Nets still have the third-best odds to win the NBA Finals, but with a dense Eastern Conference this season, a title is anything but certain.

The Dunk Contest is not what it once was // Will McGlynn, Staff Writer

The NBA All-Star weekend dunk contest this year was one of the worst dunk contests since it began in 1976. Every year, it seems like it’s more and more difficult to see new and creative dunks because everything has already been done.

New York Knicks Obi Toppin goes up for a slam during the dunk contest part of the skills challenge competition, part of NBA All-Star basketball game weekend, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Dunking from the free-throw line like Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler just doesn’t have the same flair anymore. Stars like Jordan and Drexler wouldn’t be in the dunk contest anyway, since the league’s biggest like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and pretty much everyone else refuses to enter the dunk contest.

This dunk contest forced us to watch missed dunk after missed dunk, and even the dunks that players threw down were exhausting. How many times can we watch a grown man jump over another grown man and dunk the ball? It’s just lost its “wow” factor.

The dunk contest is so difficult to make entertaining, and this season was a glaring example of that struggle. The last truly amazing dunk contest was the face-off between Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon, which came to a controversial end in its own right. The NBA needs to find a way to reinvigorate the energy behind the dunk contest, because now, it’s just boring.

Teams would be stupid to pass on edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux // Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux was the unanimous first-overall pick in mock drafts before and during the 2021 college football season. Yet, recent mock drafts have him falling to as low as No. 8 to the Atlanta Falcons. If this trend persists, teams will miss out on a once-in-a-generation talent.

The reason for Thibodeaux’s stock dropping is supposedly due to him lacking the “fire” that other edge prospects in the draft have. But this simply doesn’t make sense. Thibodeaux could have sat out of the 2021 college football season to prepare for the NFL draft like others have in the past. But he didn’t.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound pass rusher played well this season. Thibodeaux sacked the quarterback seven times and forced two fumbles.

What fire does Thibodeaux lack? With his size, speed and production, I’d be shocked to see him drop below the No. 3 pick. But if he does, any team that passes on him may regret that decision for years to come.

Andretti over Haas for American representation in Formula One // Richie Smiechowski, Senior Staff Writer

Gene Haas is not the answer for American representation in Formula One racing.

The struggling outfit finished dead last in the Constructors Championship, scoring zero points in an abysmal 2021 campaign. Since the team’s first season in 2016, they’ve finished above eighth in the standings just once, finishing a lackluster fifth in 2018.

With a blossoming F1 market in the United States, Haas Ferrari hasn’t done much to take advantage of the growing fandom. With Haas and his lack of investment at the helm, they never will.

Recently, rumors have swirled about Andretti Autosport fielding a brand-new team in the coming years. Not only will F1 champion and American racing legend Mario Andretti back the U.S. outfit, but all signs point towards IndyCar star Colton Herta getting his deserved first chance in F1 with the new team.

The Andretti family’s deep pockets and relentless commitment towards racing success would make them the ideal face of F1 in the United States. They know what it takes to compete at the highest level of motorsport, and will hit the ground running with Herta in their driver lineup. Their formulation will inevitably usher in a new generation of young American drivers on the world’s biggest stage.