3/31/2021 0 Comments
By: Will Farlow
When Illinois State University brought in Leah Johnson to be the head coach back in 2017 they did so knowing one thing. When a team upgrades their coach to lead a talented collegiate program, you are working toward long-term success. Illinois State finished the 2021 regular season last week by being crowned the MVC regular season champion. Coach Johnson has delivered on that goal as the Illinois State Redbird volleyball team heads toward the MVC Championship this weekend on their home court.
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I admire the Redbirds play team first, good sportsmanship volleyball every time they step on the court. Amid a Covid style season in the spring , this team of young women has been up to any challenge. Here are my takes on how this team led by Coach Johnson will fare in the upcoming MVC Championship on Doug Collins Court this weekend.
Successful collegiate teams are built by a core of veteran leadership factoring in players of different levels that make a team. Redbird veteran leaders like seniors Stef Jankiewicz, Kaylee Martin, and Sydney Holt each help this young Redbird team strive for success in each set of a match. I think this team has the necessary leadership to help their chances in the upcoming tournament on Doug Collins Court.
Heading into the championship tournament this weekend the Redbirds sport a conference-leading record of 11-5. The Redbirds have standouts in their seniors along with sophomore Sarah Kushner, and freshman Nicole Lund. The Redbirds' first opponent in Redbird Arena for the conference championship is a visiting Indiana State team lower in the conference standings at 7-11. The Redbirds in recent meetings this year with the Sycamores played close scoring sets which means Illinois State will need to make each point count this weekend.
Coach Johnson and the Redbird volleyball team have shown in recent seasons the ability to conquer any opposing team regardless of record or standing. The best thing about sports is expecting the unexpected, and you can expect this Redbird team to play well against Indiana State. I saw this Coach Johnson led Redbird team in that student section at games playing well for Redbird nation. Through this Covid pandemic, sports fans can be grateful in my opinion for good competitive teams to watch like the ISU Redbird volleyball team. Good luck to Coach Johnson and the Illinois State Redbird Volleyball team this weekend, and I hope they continue their success in a special season.
By: Will Farlow
The Chicago Bulls changed the fate of their franchise earlier today with two big trades. The new Bulls front office approached its first trade deadline with a home run shocker to Bulls fans. The fan base in Chicago was hoping for a bright change for this historic NBA franchise. The Bulls sent Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and two first-round picks in 2021 and 2023 to Orlando for All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
The Bulls also finished the day by executing what I found a nice surprising three-team trade with the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics. The Bulls sent center Daniel Gafford and forward Chandler Hutchinson to Washington for guard/forward Troy Brown Jr. and Mo Wagner. The Bulls sent Wagner and center Luke Kornet to Boston for center Daniel Theis and forward Javonte Green. The strategic part of the deal is that almost 2 million dollars were sent to the Bulls from both Boston and Washington. This is a memorable trade deadline for Bulls fans and a statement to the NBA that Chicago in my view is ready to win. Here are my thoughts on how each of the new Chicago Bulls can help this team moving forward.
Arturas Karnisovas and his staff had a successful first trade deadline for the Bulls franchise by starting with this trade with Orlando. I liked in the press conference how this front office described picking these players to fit with an already talented team. There is a lot to like about the all-star center Vucevic who can be a good second star to help team leader Zach Lavine. The center can play well on both sides of the court as he is averaging 24.5 PPG this season. Aminu is a player I find interesting in his path from his rookie year to now a Bulls team where his defense and strong play will help off the bench.
Arturas showed Bulls fans the team wasn't done yet when “this three-team trade came through just before the deadline”, according to NBC Sports Chicago Bulls analyst K.C. Johnson. Troy Brown to me as a Bulls fan is an exciting 21-year old guard /forward that has great potential. Brown can come to Chicago to continue his development with veteran help and head coach Billy Donovan. Daniel Theis is a good bench option to replace Gafford as he brings skill on defense and shooting consistently in the post. Javonte Green is a nice third player that fills a good depth role for an already talented remade Bulls roster.
I am excited to see what this revamped Bulls roster can do in its first NBA game since the trades became official. Bulls fans can be excited about a possible playoff push, however, this team still needs to develop chemistry. New players in the starting lineup and bench need to gel together cohesively for this Bulls team to find success. I have faith in Coby, Zach, Lauri, and the current Bulls to help these new Bulls into the rotation. Early in the second half, the Bulls are sending a very strong message to the NBA before this revamped roster has even played a game together. Bulls fans here is the change you were looking for courtesy of the new front office and a need to rebuild in Orlando mixed with luck from the Celtics and Wizards. I like this trade deadline for Chicago as it sets this team continuing on the right path. This Bulls team now has five new reasons to have a shot at the 2021 NBA Playoffs.