Santita Ebangwese plays women’s soccer after 4 years with Syracuse volleyball

first_imgSantita Ebangwese moved her body to the rhythm of stadium music in SU Soccer Stadium as Syracuse women’s soccer warmed up for its 2019 season-opener. Teammates around her laughed and joined in.During her four-year volleyball career, Ebangwese would dance with Jalissa Trotter and Christina Oyawale as part of their pregame tradition. Ebangwese’s family is from Cameroon and Oyawale is from Nigeria. When a good beat came on, everyone was encouraged to pay homage to their culture, Oyawale said. A couple times during last season, the trio was even able to get volleyball head coach Leonid Yelin, typically stoic on the sideline, to dance along.Before Ebangwese brought her dance moves to the soccer team, SU hadn’t won a game in nearly a year, spanning from Sept. 2, 2018 to Aug. 29, 2019. She was brought in by first-year head coach Nicky Adams to bring positive energy and a new voice to a failing program. Syracuse went on to beat Colgate that day. Then, defeated Siena four days later.“Santita is Ms. Syracuse, right?” Adams said. “She does well on the court, on the field, and then academically, so I’ve asked her to mentor our young kids … she’s been able to mentor them and keep them in the right lanes.”Last year at this time, “Ms. Syracuse” was on the volleyball court, leading SU to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Ebangwese’s accolades on the court include two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team accolades and a 2018 American Volleyball Coaches’ Association (AVCA) All-American Honorable Mention.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGraduate student Santita Ebangwese traps the ball in the match against Fordham University. Elizabeth Billman | Asst. Photo EditorWith one year of NCAA eligibility left and knowing she would be at Syracuse completing a master’s in biomedical engineering, Ebangwese thought “why not?” Soccer was the first sport she played before pursuing volleyball and basketball instead in high school, and when she heard Adams would take over the Orange’s program, she reached out. She’s listed as a backup goalkeeper, but on an injury-riddled SU (2-7-2, 0-3-1 Atlantic Coast) team, Ebangwese has played in four games this year as a striker.“Volleyball I remember I used to be everything,” Ebangwese said. “I understand the game, I understand the IQ, I understand touches, what needs to be happening, when. That is the uncomfortableness of soccer, but hey, I’m here to have fun and just be whatever they need me to be.”Adams gave Ebangwese a two-week tryout with the team in the spring even though she hadn’t played the sport in eight years — since middle school. Ebangwese said her body remembered more than her mind did when it came to juggling techniques and dribbling. In practices and game, there are moments of hesitation before passing which become turnovers because of wrong decisions. Regaining field awareness has been the toughest part, she added.But Ebangwese quickly regained her touch and adapted to her second collegiate sport, and Adams said she thought the graduate student could add depth, especially given the number of injuries SU suffered last year.“I was just like, ‘How can I help you? What do you need me to do?’” Ebangwese initially said to Adams.Kevin Camelo | Co-Digital EditorAfter she made the team, Ebangwese had to revamp her training to get ready for the fitness tests at the start of the season. She hadn’t worked on “true cardio” for four years, she said. Instead of training for jumping and explosiveness for volleyball, she now had to focus on running and agility. Ebangwese had to work on short sprints and more long distance running to be able to stay on the field as a forward.The work Ebangwese put in to succeed in the fitness tests inspired the rest of the team, redshirt sophomore Kailee Coonan said. That’s been a constant praise for Ebangwese going back to her volleyball career.“She was one of those kids doing two-a-days when nobody knew she was doing it,” assistant volleyball coach Derryk Williams said.She’s relearned most of her technique but still reverts back to how she played volleyball at times, especially when going up for headers. It’s a three-step move in volleyball which she still uses, Ebangwese said. Two steps, one with each foot. Then, she plants both feet back down, one at a time, before exploding up.Ebangwese’s impact comes mostly off the field as a role model in the locker room. Yelin called Ebengwese “everything a coach would like to have.” When Oyawale was dealing with personal issues her sophomore year, Ebangwese helped without being asked to. She cooked for Oyawale, kept her company and made jokes to cheer her up.It’s the type of locker-room presence Adams and the rebuilding Syracuse program needs.“Her values on and off whatever it is, the court or the field,” Adams said. “I thought they were, as a head coach at a Syracuse program trying to rebrand the image of this program, something that I thought would be valuable in the locker room for us.” Comments Published on October 8, 2019 at 10:20 pm Contact Arabdho: armajumd@syr.edu | @aromajumder Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

How the Lakers and Clippers stack up in building title contenders

first_imgLOS ANGELES — At summers’ end, two superteams had formed in Los Angeles, fueling immediate debate: Who did a better job building a contender? The Clippers or the Lakers?“They’re good and we’re good,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “So anytime both L.A. teams are good, you’re gonna naturally have that type of a rivalry.”But games in December don’t typically matter too much in May and June. As Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard would say, the big goal is the “Larry O.B.” A Staples Center tilt will be a fun measure of how much two of the NBA’s best teams have grown since opening night, but it’s one signpost in a long road ahead.Ahead of the second installment of the head-to-head series, it’s worth taking stock of how far each team has come in pursuit of that ultimate goal, building a true title contender, by looking at some of the key elements of a team that lasts the test of time: Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed However you want to measure it, it’s not what it used to be, when the Lakers shot out of the gate as the top-ranked unit for the first few weeks of the season. Davis, who has generated buzz as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate this season, said they had lost their edge on that side of the ball.There’s also an imbalance on the roster with few wing defenders outside of James and Danny Green. In their losses, this has been exploited by Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Paul Milsap and Giannis Antetokounmpo among others. There are not a lot of wing defenders on the open market right now, so it might have to be a flaw the Lakers live with.When James doesn’t play, the Lakers struggle, even with Davis on the court. A lack of ball-handlers, aside from the polarizing play of Rajon Rondo, leads to uncertainty when anyone but James is running the show. Not that the Lakers expect to be perfect: There’s always room for improvement.“You want to make goals along the process, along the way, along the marathon,” James said. “It’s commitment of focus, it’s a commitment of what we’re trying to do, continue to get better and just be laser-sharp for a majority of the process so far.” So it’s hard not to take the Fun Guy seriously when he writes a prescription: “It’s gonna take success, mistakes, arguments and losing games and winning games to get to that next level.”And how’s that process looking with him and Paul George strapped into the cockpit for these highly aspirational Clippers?Statistically, pretty good. The Clippers – 22-10 overall – are 11-3 when both stars suit up. In their 356 minutes on the floor together, they have a net rating (which measures a team’s point differential per 100 possessions) of plus-14.6. That’s a 99.6 defensive rating and a 114.2 offensive rating.But how’s it look? Brilliant, at times. Especially when the All-NBA wing defenders are using their length to suffocate opposing offenses, forcing turnovers and translating those into easy points, as they did in a recent victory at San Antonio, when the Clippers scored 36 points off 18 Spurs turnovers.Other times the rhythm, the chemistry, the execution do appear to be a work in progress – just as Leonard said they would be.SUPPORTING CASTClippers: There have been a combined 68 games missed this season because of injuries – including nine by Leonard, either because of a left knee contusion or because of injury management for an ongoing issue with his patella tendon. George was recovering from offseason surgeries on both shoulders and had to wait until Game 12 to join the fray.What all that has proved: The returning cast has been, largely, who everyone thought they were.Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams again anchor the league’s most prolific bench; together the two early Sixth Man of the Year contenders have scored 1,031 of the Clippers’ 1,642 bench points – more than 10 other teams’ total bench output, including the Lakers’ reserves, who have accounted for 1,029 points.Also: Offseason pickup Moe Harkless has impressed, as Rivers attests night after night, with his ability to guard smaller guards. And fourth-year center Ivica Zubac is developing into a reliable rim protector in his limited starting role: His 48.7 percent defensive field goal percentage within 6 feet of the basket is 13th best in the league, ahead of Rudy Gobert and Andre Drummond.Lakers: If the bar is last season, the Lakers have easily surpassed it.The assembly of veterans around James and Davis is a marked upgrade from last season, with established pros like Danny Green and Avery Bradley clinching key roles early. The returning players from last year have been productive, too, with hat-tips to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso, who have looked reasonably solid in their roles.Arguably no one has surprised more than Dwight Howard, who was picked up for pennies on maybe his last chance to play in the NBA and now has played more center minutes than anyone on the roster. Though he’s averaging just 6.9 points and 6.9 rebounds, his defensive presence and rim-running have occasionally sparked huge turnarounds (see: the Lakers’ win in Chicago).That being said, this cast is built around their stars, not built to win without them. That’s been frightfully apparent during their three-game losing streak, especially in a big loss to the Nuggets when LeBron James was sorely missed. Non-James minutes have been largely mediocre (opponents have outscored the Lakers by 26 in 436 minutes), even with Davis on the floor. At 34.3 ppg, the Lakers have one of the lowest-scoring benches in the league.The team still could get a huge lift if Kuzma, who recently returned from an ankle sprain, finds a way to break out of a third-year slump. Coming off the bench, his production has been hampered by a number of injuries to start the season.CHECK THE SCHEDULELakers: If taking care of business is the mark of a great team, the Lakers can’t be better than that: They’re a perfect 16-0 against teams with records of .500 or lower (and 2-0 against the 15-14 Oklahoma City Thunder). They don’t get beat by teams that shouldn’t beat them, even if they sometimes allow those games to be close.That stretch included winning 14 straight games on the road, a streak which has only been bested twice in NBA history. In their first 30 games, the Lakers have two seven-game winning streaks and one 10-game winning streak. They’re 8-1 in games within one possession in the final 15 seconds of regulation.There’s room for concern against other contenders: The Lakers have lost to the Clippers, Raptors, Mavericks, Pacers, Bucks and Nuggets, all expected to be playoff teams including a few they could see in the Western Conference bracket. Three of those wins have been by double-digits, and even though the Lakers had to play without James against Denver, it wasn’t a good look to get boat-raced out of their own building.Clippers: The Clippers can’t claim to be perfect – not even against teams .500 or worse.Rivers’ team is 13-4 against opponents with losing records. Phoenix surprised them back in Game 3, they lost George’s season debut in New Orleans, fell flat on their first visit to San Antonio and let a lead slip away on the last night of a long, six-game trip earlier this month in Chicago.The Clippers have an almost spotless record at home, however: They’re 14-2 at Staples Center, but they’ll be the visitors in the building on Christmas.And how have the Clippers fared against winning teams? A respectable 9-6. Those victories have come against Boston (20-7), Toronto (21-8) (twice), Houston (20-9), Indiana (20-10), Dallas (19-10), Utah (18-11), Oklahoma City (15-14), and, to start it all off back on Oct. 22, the Lakers (24-6).FLAW-FINDINGClippers: The Clippers’ recent habit of blowing leads isn’t a particularly becoming look for a squad that fancies itself a title contender.They’ve lost three of five games, and in all three defeats, they relinquished sizable advantages: A 15-point lead in the second quarter in the 109-106 road loss to Chicago; a 17-point lead just before halftime in a 122-117 setback at home to Houston; and then an 18-point second-quarter advantage in Oklahoma City on Sunday, when they eventually succumbed 118-112.There’s also the matter of figuring it out, stunted somewhat by so many lineup fluctuations.For example, take the zone defense that the Clippers have employed with increasing frequency this season: They learned Sunday, when they played without Patrick Beverley and Leonard, that it has its limits, as the Clippers were outrebounded 49-42, including 16-10 on the offensive glass.Said Rivers: “We’ve been a really good rebounding team in the zone, and maybe not having Pat as a terrific rebounder and not having Kawhi as another rebounder, when you play zone you have to be more careful; that’s the lesson we learned here.”Lakers: Frank Vogel felt defensive enough about his defensive rating to correct a reporter who called his Lakers team the eighth-best defense in the league. Vogel said internal numbers put them at fifth.Related Articles AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBLENDING STARSLakers: From the day he was traded to L.A., Anthony Davis has said he’s been welcomed with “open arms” by the franchise and his fellow star, LeBron James. A thwarted attempt by James to gift Davis his jersey number, 23, showed how much the Lakers wanted to accommodate their new arrival.That’s played out in the court, too: The Lakers are 23-4 when both James and Davis play. In their 674 minutes together, they have a plus-11.3 rating and have outscored opponents by 171 points, making them one of the best two-man lineups in the league. Davis is on pace to become LeBron’s favorite target in any season by assist volume – and by the way, James is leading the league in dimes (10.6 apg).Within the locker room, there’s a real sense that Davis and James are close. They banter, they go out together and they challenge one another. Many have credited Davis with pushing James to become a defensive factor this year. In a recent win in Miami, James said Davis was one of the players who told him to sharpen up for a monster third quarter that led to a win. Davis sees that as one of his many roles.“We all have respect for each other and have the confidence to go up to whoever and try to get him going,” he said. “The fact that (LeBron) listens and everyone on the team listens and can accept criticism from our guys is what makes us so good.”Clippers: Kawhi Leonard has, of course, been to the NBA mountaintop, hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and the Finals MVP award twice in eight seasons before joining the Clippers. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years center_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more