Former NBA player Chase Budinger takes his talents to beach volleyball – OCRegister


MANHATTAN BEACH — The three volleyball courts that anchor the northern edge of Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas are, officially, welcome to all comers. Players of all skill levels arrive daily to dig their toes into the white sand. Among locals, however, it is understood that the third court, the one closest to the surf, is reserved for the most advanced players.

On weekends more than a decade ago, one impossibly blond native son made regular trips to that cozy stretch of beach, trudged past the first two courts and scrawled his name on the waiting list for that cutthroat third court. With that, Chase Budinger put himself at the mercy of the hard-core locals with leathered skin, in a game where skill and finesse meant more than size and physicality

“Mostly they would beat me,” said Budinger, “but sometimes I would go down there with my brother and we would run the table for the day.”

To the teen, volleyball was a social activity. The sand offered a diversion from sanctioned sports at La Costa Canyon High School, where he became a decorated two-sport star, winning national player of the year in indoor volleyball and emerging as a top basketball recruit.

On Thursday, the 29-year-old who spent seven seasons in the NBA, will make his pro volleyball debut next to two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal as main draw play begins at the FIVB Huntington Beach Open. For the new and, perhaps, unlikely partners, it marks the first step toward their goal of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

“I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of people who are going to write him off as the basketball guy who is dabbling in beach volleyball,” said 7-foot-1 pro Ryan Doherty, who left a career in baseball after topping out in Double-A in 2007, “but once he starts playing I think that perception will change pretty quickly.”

When Budinger was waived by the Brooklyn Nets during training camp in 2016, it quietly but effectively ended his NBA career. He had appeared in 407 games with four teams, earned nearly $19 million and jumped over P. Diddy in the Slam Dunk Contest.

Career averages: 7.9 points, 3 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 19.7 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-7 small forward never announced his retirement from the NBA and doesn’t recall filling out any paperwork that made it official, but one day the insurance card for retired players arrived in the mail and so he was retired.

Budinger toiled for one season with Baskonia in the Spanish ACB. “I didn’t really enjoy my time too much over there,” he said. He said the time zone messed with him and the grind of international living was a shock after years of NBA travel.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal, a fan favorite with a loyal cheering section called Rosie’s Raiders, was at home in Southern California contemplating how to make one more run at the Olympics.

He had teamed with former gold medalist Phil Dalhausser after the 2012 Games, only to get dumped prior to Rio de Janeiro in ’16. Now 37, Rosenthal knew the volleyball landscape was shifting and his window was closing. He might have to get creative if he wanted to make it to Tokyo with as many as six teams contending for two American slots.

Friends were in his ears about the former NBA player who spent his summers in Hermosa Beach playing four-on-four tournaments. Rosenthal, who lives in Redondo Beach, had been around Budinger in that setting, but never considered his potential as a partner.

“We have a lot of mutual friends,” Rosenthal said, “and all of them are like, ‘He sets perfect, he does this, he does that,’ and I was like, ‘OK, I’ve never seen that part.’ … I’ve seen him mess around in four-mans a little bit, four-mans all he’s doing is hitting and blocking, I know he can do that. He’s a big guy.”

Rosenthal reached out to Budinger, who was mulling offers to go back overseas. A couple of NBA tryouts had gone nowhere. If Budinger was serious about giving volleyball a real shot, this was about as good of an opportunity as would ever come.

“When Sean Rosenthal calls,” said Jessica Fine, Budinger’s girlfriend, “you answer.”

As Doherty put it: “Rosie is not going to pick anybody to play with where he’s not going to be able to win.”

All that was left was for Budinger to accept, and that meant coming to terms with the end of his basketball career.

“I think it was just the right time for me and just how I felt,” Budinger said. “I had a lot of good years, had a good run in basketball and this was always the plan when I was done, was to go back and play beach volleyball, so at least I had that mindset.”

Budinger is far from the first NBA player to find a second home on the beach. Wilt Chamberlain famously spent more than a decade on the pro volleyball circuit following his Hall of Fame career, and in Hermosa, Budinger plays regularly with fellow Arizona Wildcats Luke Walton and Richard Jefferson.

During Kobe Bryant’s farewell season in 2015-16, the legendary Laker pulled aside Budinger, then with the Indiana Pacers, and joked that retirement meant he had some free time coming up.

“When you have time let’s go to the beach and play some beach volleyball,” Bryant said.

“I have not taken him up on it yet, though,” Budinger said.

One week before the Huntington tournament, Budinger and Rosenthal were on the sand at 15th Street in Manhattan Beach, working the kinks out of their new partnership.

Sitting on a blanket next to the boundary of the court, Fine softly repeated the message she has told her boyfriend virtually every day since he decided to accept Rosenthal’s offer.

“Think less, just play,” the former UCLA libero said.

Rosenthal and Budinger spoke softly following each play throughout their scrimmage against the Brazilian team of Guto Carvalhaes and Vitor Felipe, assessing what worked and what did not.

“We’re still learning and I’m still in that process of asking a lot of questions,” Budinger said.

The 6-3 Rosenthal patiently tutored Budinger about the arc he needed from his partner when setting him the ball. “More of this,” he said, pointing straight up to the sky. Then, bending the arm over his head, “Not so much of this.”

The stonefaced Brazilians, meanwhile, barely spoke, responding to each other’s movements and communicating by feel.

But when Rosenthal sent a pass high to Budinger, the full scale of the newcomer’s power was on display. Budinger swung his arms back like a long jumper pushing off, then pogo-sticked off the sand, and slammed the ball over the net.

Carvalhaes dove for the dig but was not fast enough. He slapped the sand and swore loudly in Portuguese.

Budinger’s power is his trademark.

“His athleticism is most impressive,” said Tyler Hildebrand, the first-year director of coaching for the USA Volleyball beach teams. “He needs a lot of touches passing and setting, but the fact is, he’s so good at both of those right now. Because typically when you get a super big, super freak (athlete), usually they don’t know how to pass or set.”

But he’s new. And he will spend the summer playing in tournaments across the globe against players who have years of experience. From Huntington Beach, it’s on to Lucerne, Switzerland, and then Austin, Texas.

In beach volleyball, players lug their own balls, arrange their own practices, set up their own lines.

“It’s completely different,” Budinger said. “You’ve got to take a lot of responsibility on everything, nutrition, weight lifting, practice, cardio, traveling. Everything.”

While Budinger has completely closed the door on his basketball career, much of what made him an attractive NBA player carries over to the sand. The length and athleticism. His timing. NBA teams kept calling because they believed in his potential.

Over time, that wears off. Younger players come along who do similar things, for less money and with more upside. Teams are always looking to buy low, to find the bargain with the biggest payoff.

Rosenthal knows all about that. Maybe pairing with Budinger costs him tour points early on, but if the goal is the Olympics – and it is – then the 6-7 leaper opens a new world of opportunity.

The book on Budinger might have been written in the NBA, but in beach volleyball, the pages are completely blank. Here, his potential is the mystery, his upside the draw.

Back at Moonlight Beach, he’s up on Court 3.



London Theater Review: 'Chess' at the English National Opera – Variety


No matter how frosty the West’s relations with Russia, is there really any reason to roll “Chess” out of cold storage? For all the bangers of its retro score, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ eighties musical, based on a brainwave by lyricist Tim Rice, simply doesn’t stack up. Never has, never will – and Laurence Connor’s grandiose semi-staged revival for English National Opera fares no better at coaxing a coherent, satisfying evening out of a canny concept than any of its predecessors.

An attempt to encapsulate the testy stalemate of the entire Cold War in a game between rivalgrandmasters, “Chess” has a checkered history. A turbulent but respectable West End run was followed, 30 years ago, by a drastically revised Broadway premiere that lasted little longer than the Cuban missile crisis. It’s been tinkered and toyed with ever since, but the fact that original bookwriter Richard Nelson is no longer credited tells you all you need to know. Despite a strong set-up, the plot of “Chess” all but caves in.

It pits the cerebral Russian chess champion Anatoly Sergievsky, played by a turtlenecked Michael Ball, against his brash, cash-driven American counterpart Freddie Trumper. (Tim Howar bursts out of his private plane like a middle manager convinced he’s a sex god.) As the two size each other up across 64 squares — cue plenty of concentrated, stopclock-slapping contempt — newsreel footage of space and arms races flash past, each side matching the other move for move. Geopolitical stalemate, like chess, starts slow, but soon heats up. One wrong move and it’s game over.

Neat as the comparison is, it makes for dry drama, but “Chess” over-extends itself with a naff-as-hell narrative. The victorious Anatoly defects to England, abandoning his wife (Alexandra Burke) and child for Freddie’s manager (Cassidy Janson) and, when the two meet again, Trumper’s chess career reduced to the commentary box, he seeks to get his own back by colluding with Russia. Their rivalry, effectively, follows the rhythms of the game: Each man swaps sides and tries to take the other’s queen. The problem is that metaphor leads and material follows, fast becoming ludicrously over-stretched.

Stylistically, “Chess” is caught between chamber musical and stadium rock; an intricate, psychological drama drowned out by big blaring songs, many of which feel peculiarly trite. Connor’s bare-stage production, played on a grid of neon squares, ends up at once overblown and exposed. Two big screens try to take us into the action, but only distract from it, while expansive globetrotting crowd scenes feel unfeasibly kitsch, even outright offensive. Rural Italians in (er) lederhosen squeezing ABBA out of accordions is one thing, but a Bangkok populated by Buddhist icons and ladyboys feels beyond the pale (especially since most of the actors playing the locals are.)

And yet, all of that adds to the off-kilter charm of “Chess”: so improbable, so disjointed, so absolutely eighties that, for all its flatness, it becomes strangely watchable, albeit through wide eyes. Besides, it’s eminently listenable. There is, after all, a reason it’s semi-staged.

English National Opera’s recent musicals, as well as providing a much-needed box office boost to an organization on the edge, have all sought to celebrate the musical prowess of neglected scores. Whatever its structural faults, “Chess” (like “Sunset Boulevard” and “Carousel” before it) contains some weapons-grade songwriting and, backed by the ENO’s full in-house orchestra, fronted by a range of powerhouse voices and arranged by Anders Eljas, it sounds as sumptuous as ever before. Even its stylistic miscellany becomes a strength, as Andersson and Ulvaeus switchblade from twinkling Tchaikovsky-esque balletics to brash Springsteen-style stadium rock song by song. The vocals are just as jumbled: Phillip Browne’s turbo bass suits the might of the Soviet Machine, while pop star Alexandra Burke owns “Someone Else’s Story.” Best of all is the versatile Cassidy Janson, who rips up the retro rock anthem “Nobody’s Side” before melting into the melody of “I Know Him So Well.”

It’s well enough played — Ball’s sternly inscrutable Anatoly and Howar’s cynical cheeseball make characterful counterparts — but ultimately a barnstorming score can’t save a hokey plot. “Chess” remains a mug’s game.


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Connecticut lawmakers, Indian tribes lock horns over sports betting control – CalvinAyre.com


Connecticut lawmakers and the tribal operators of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun are at loggerheads over who will be in charge of sports betting operations once it is legalized in the state.

Connecticut lawmakers, Indian tribes lock horns over sports betting controlThe Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes argued that they have the exclusive right over the conduct of sports betting in the state as provided under the tribes’ current agreement with Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant report.

They also reminded lawmakers of the legal opinion penned by Attorney General George Jepsen, which cautioned legislators to “carefully consider a number of factors before legalizing sports wagering.”

Jepsen opined that the tribes will argue “that a state law permitting sports wagering in Connecticut may violate the exclusivity provisions” of their tribal gaming compacts.

To be clear, both tribes are in favor of legal sports betting. What the tribes don’t approve of is allowing off-track betting operators to get a slice of the sports betting revenue pie. The Mashantucket Pequots insist that “sports betting is a commercial casino game” and therefore “falls within the exclusivity granted to the tribes under the current agreement.”

“If the legislature authorizes sports betting in a manner that constitutes a video facsimile or video game of chance, such an authorization would lift the moratorium under the tribal-state gaming compacts,” the Mashantucket Pequot letter stated, according to the news outlet.

The Mohegans were more level-headed, noting how both parties worked out their differences to come up with a win-win solution for the tribes and state.

However, Connecticut Lawmakers stood firm that they wouldn’t let the tribes take control of sports betting. House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter pointed out that the tribes couldn’t claim control over sports betting using the agreement since betting was never contemplated when the compact was signed.

It was clear that the agreement only provided that the tribes would be the sole operators of video slot machines, and not over other forms of gambling.

“Here we are 26 years later and they’re raising it for the first time,” Ritter said. “I’ve heard and read better legal arguments than that one.”

Rep. Vinnie Candelora said that the tribes were being “a bit disingenuous and probably going to far” when they insisted on their sole right to sports betting, while House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz thumbed down the tribes’ planned monopoly.

“We can essentially walk down there and say slots are turned off, nobody wants to do that, the tribes will be a part of any gaming activity we do in the state of Connecticut,” Aresimowicz told Eyewitness News 3.

Like other states, Connecticut has been rushing to pass a bill that would allow sports betting in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court decides to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Professional Act of 1992.

Connecticut lawmakers hope to raise $40 to $80 million a year from betting to replenish the state coffers. A bill seeking to legalize sports betting in Connecticut has gained momentum since March after receiving support not only from the tribes but also from the Connecticut Lottery Corp.

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Watch: Siena introduces new men's basketball coach Jamion Christian – Albany Times Union



Siena confirmed today the hiring of new men’s basketball coach Jamion Christian in a news release.

Christian, who spent the past six years at Mount St. Mary’s, was introduced today at a 4 p.m. news conference after which he planned to meet fans in the Times Union Center atrium.

Christian, the 17th head coach in Siena history, received a five-year contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. His salary wasn’t available.




Those sources said there was no buyout involved for Siena to get Christian, who was signed at Mount St. Mary’s through the 2026-27 season.


“I am so honored to be named the head coach at Siena College, and I would like to thank President Coughlin and John D’Argenio for this opportunity,” Christian said in the news release.

“I was immediately drawn to Siena by its rich history of basketball excellence and high levels of achievement. I am looking forward to bringing an exciting brand of basketball to the Capital Region, and building upon what is already a strong Siena Basketball tradition,” he said.



“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work with our team. We have a lot to prove, and we’re going to have a lot of fun earning it each and every day. I love the passionate fan base, and I implore them to help amplify our style of play, which is going to be a real problem for all opponents who enter the Times Union Center.”


Christian, 36, had a 101-95 record at Mount St. Mary’s, including 67-39 in Northeast Conference play, and led the Mountaineers to two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Siena had discussions with three to five candidates for the opening, all of whom had Division I head coaching experience, according to a source. None of the candidates were brought to campus for reasons of confidentiality.



The Olde Wrestling Speakeasy Spectacular Returns to Mahall's Friday – Cleveland Scene


OLDE WRESTLING

Travel through time and immerse yourself in the 1920s wonderland of Olde Wrestling’s annual Speakeasy Spectacular this Friday. Presented by El Carnicero & Beardology, the family-friendly promotion returns for a night elbow smashin’ wrestling.

Scene spoke with Olde Wrestling founder Justin Nottke, who (shhh…don’t tell anyone) wrestles as the mustache twirling pugilist Marion Fontaine, about the upcoming show.

“I had always had the desire to put on a wrestling show since I’ve been around the scene for so long, but because there various promotions, I knew I wanted to do something different,” he says. “The ’20s were such an interesting time to be alive with prohibition, fashion, mobsters, sports, etc. So many icon celebrities and characters come from it and we thought let’s give it a shot!”

Olde Wrestling is less of the WWE style of sports entertainment many fans are accustomed to seeing, and is more of a theatrical display of wrestling performance art. As Nottke told Scene, “I wanted to create something that wasn’t appealing to just diehard wrestling fans, but to any and everyone. I wanted to show non wrestling fans just how fun and entertaining this form of entertainment could be.”

With high-flying luchador cats, corrupt legislators, knee-cap busting mobsters, bearded ladies, riveters and rum-running moonshiners, Olde Wrestling’s characters are wildly different than the Hulkamania wrestlers of yesteryear or the John Cena types of today.

“I wanted to break any stereotypical idea of big muscular guys beating on one another, swearing at each other,” Nottke says. “And that involves making it appeal to a variety of ages. Making it an enjoyable experience no matter who you are.”

click to enlarge
JOSEPH RITORTO | COURTESY OF OLDE WRESTLING

  • Joseph Ritorto | Courtesy of Olde Wrestling

The participating wrestlers typically perform year round as different characters, with Olde Wrestling a yearly chance for them to play someone a little different. Most notably, the greasy heel “Heidi the Riveter” of Olde Wrestling has since gone on to perform as Ruby Riott on WWE’s SmackDown brand. Wrestlers commit heavily to the performance and remain in character the entirety of the show. Even well-known performers like Chicago’s Colt Cabana refuse to acknowledge their alter-ego.

It’s important to note that Olde Wrestling exists as if we were all living in the 1920s. To help keep the gimmick going strong, Nottke assists wrestlers in finding a character that would translate best into their 1920s persona.

“Some characters like Thunderkitty (a throwback hard-nosed women’s wrestler) and Dasher Hatfield (vintage baseball hurler) are already kind of close,” Nottke explains. “So it wasn’t a huge stretch, but for a number of others I tried to pull something relevant in their current characters and take it back about 90 years. Like, Jock Samson as a moonshiner or Supercop Dick Justice as one of the Untouchable agents.”

The Speakeasy Spectacular takes place at Mahall’s 20 Lanes on Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m., doors opening at 7 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in anything close to the 1920s for the ultimate Olde Wrestling Experience. In addition to the physical feats of fancy, Pinch & Squeal will offer a live performance in addition to hosting the show. According to Nottke, “Babe Ruth will probably show up too!”

Tickets are available by visiting here.



Jets Film Mashup: 2017 QB Protection Report Part 2 – Gang Green Nation (blog)


Welcome back, everyone. Yesterday, I took my first dive into examining the sacks allowed by the Jets in 2017 and determining the main offenders. Today, we’ll continue on this wonderful journey of reliving Jets blunders!

Bear with me here! I know it is an optimistic time in Jets history, but I hope that this review helps better shape your perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the Jets offensive line. To balance out the negativity, I’ll provide a couple good plays as well.

This is not an exact science, but just one observer’s opinion. Feel free to have a differing opinion on who the culprits are, and do let me know your perspective!

SACKS: Week 3 (W vs. MIA) & 4 (W vs. JAX)

2ND & 7 AT NYJ 28 (Q1 – MIA 0, NYJ 0)

(14:17) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 17 for -11 yards (C.Wake).

It doesn’t take more than one look to find the culprit here. It’s right tackle Brandon Shell. Cameron Wake gets a phenomenal first step on Shell and uses great drive in his lower body to maintain leverage and continue on his path to McCown. With Wake playing far outside as the 4-3 end (9 tech), he has a clear path to McCown, so Shell needs to get out and seal the edge quicker.



Culprit: Shell (2-0) (Season total of: Sacks primarily responsible for – Sacks partially responsible for)

Source: 1v1 edge loss (Season total: 3)

3RD & 9 AT MIA 39 (Q1 – MIA 0, NYJ 0)

(1:35) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at MIA 44 for -5 yards (A.Branch).

Shell is victimized by Wake for the second time in this quarter, in an almost identical manner. Dakota Dozier takes partial blame for allowing penetration and letting his man disengage to finish the sack.



Culprit: Shell (3-0)

Accomplice: Dozier (0-1)

Source: 1v1 edge loss (4)

POSITIVE PLAY:

The Jets began to send help Shell’s way after the first quarter. Here, Austin Seferian-Jenkins lines up beside him. Though ASJ runs a route here, his presence forces Wake to line up further outside. With much more room to set himself and defend the edge, Shell does a far better job here. A combination of a good adjustment from the coaches and the player. (Unfortunately, this was an incompletion.)



3RD & 10 AT JAX 40 (Q2 – JAX 7, NYJ 7)

(13:13) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at JAX 45 for -5 yards (B.Church).

In the previous breakdown, two of the five sacks studied were via a defensive back blitz. Here is another one. Jaguars safety Barry Church, standing up over Wesley Johnson, fakes a drop into coverage before blitzing. He attacks the A gap vacated by Brian Winters, who overlooked the potential of the blitz and went to help to his right. A well-designed blitz by Jacksonville that fooled Winters.



Culprit: Winters (1-0)

Source: DB blitz (3)

2ND & 6 AT JAX 21 (Q2 – JAX 10, NYJ 7)

(1:29) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at JAX 30 for -9 yards (Y.Ngakoue).

The Jets have five wide; the Jags man up with two deep safeties and bring a simple four man rush. Yannick Ngakoue beats Beachum in the same manner Wake beat Shell earlier. Lined up far outside as a 9-tech, He swipes away Beachum’s punch and gets to McCown with a great finish.



Culprit: Beachum (1-0)

Source: 1v1 edge loss (5)

1ST & 10 AT JAX 42 (Q2 – JAX 10, NYJ 10)

(:43) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 48 for -10 yards (Y.Ngakoue). FUMBLES (Y.Ngakoue) [Y.Ngakoue], and recovers at NYJ 48.

Just like Shell against Miami, Beachum is beat with the same move by the same player from the same position. More so than the last one, though, this was a nasty move by Ngakoue. McCown fumbles, but recovers.



Culprit: Beachum (2-0)

Source: 1v1 edge loss (6)

2ND & 20 AT NYJ 48 (Q2 – JAX 10, NYJ 10)

(:37) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 40 for -8 yards (C.Campbell).

First off, credit to Bilal Powell for taking an absolute missile from Telvin Smith; reminiscent of taking a charge in a basketball game. The protection here looks fine until Calais Campbell, who lined up as a 3-tech and initially engaged James Carpenter, switches to Wesley Johnson and basically throws him into McCown’s lap.



Culprit: Johnson (1-0)

Source: 1v1 interior loss (1)

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 39 (Q4 – JAX 20, NYJ 20)

(:21) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 31 for -8 yards (D.Fowler). FUMBLES (D.Fowler) [D.Fowler], and recovers at NYJ 31. J.McCown to NYJ 31 for no gain (D.Fowler).

The Jets allow another pressure from a wide 4-3 end. This time it’s Dante Fowler Jr. matched up against Brent Qvale. Edge defenders like Fowler get drafted in the top ten because of “bend” and “burst,” and all of that is on display here. For the second time, McCown is able to recover his own fumble.



Theoretically you can always blame a quarterback for fumbling the ball, but when the defender is making contact in approximately 2.2 seconds (the fastest time to throw average in 2017 was 2.42 seconds), it is very hard to blame the quarterback.

Culprit: Qvale (2-0)

Source: 1v1 edge loss (7)

DAMAGE CONTROL REPORT

Total sacks: 12

Culprits:

Brandon Shell – 3

Coverage – 2

Brent Qvale – 2

Kelvin Beachum – 2

Matt Forte – 1

Josh McCown – 1

Effective Blitz – 1

Wesley Johnson – 1

Brian Winters – 1

Accomplices:

Josh McCown – 1

Brandon Shell – 1

Brent Qvale – 1

Matt Forte – 1

Dakota Dozier – 1

Sources:

1v1 edge loss: 7

DB blitz: 3

QB stepped up into sack (forced by coverage/pressure): 1

1v1 interior loss: 1


Things were a lot less complicated in this breakdown. In the previous edition, a lot of the sacks were tough to decipher, and I settled on chalking up two as coverage sacks (one of them partially on a well-called blitz as well) and one on McCown. Things were not as difficult to figure out over Weeks 3-4. These were blatant 1-on-1 losses. However, I do like how the Jets adjusted, for the most part. In both the Miami and Jacksonville games, they shifted help towards the areas that needed it once issues became consistent in those areas.