My Experience at UF and the CMIR

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For the last four years, I’ve been going to school at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. It’s honestly been the best experience I could’ve asked for as a young journalist.

I’ve spent extensive time in Weimer for the duration of my time here, beginning on the first day of Summer B my freshman year at ESPN Gainesville 95.3 FM. Through ESPN Gainesville, I’ve been able to work extensively in live talk radio, play by play, and public address in the past few years.

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After getting my foot in the door with radio, I started working in television side at the college’s Innovation News Center. I’ve gotten two years of experience as an anchor and reporter, in both news and sports, for WUFT. The opportunities provided to me by UF and WUFT have helped me secure a job as a news anchor after graduation.

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I’d recommend UF’s telecommunications program to anyone looking to get their start in the world of journalism. While I’ll always be so grateful for the help they’ve provided me in beginning my career, what I’ll take away most is how great the people are. There’s too many to name, but the station directors, professors, and fellow students involved here are what make UF and the CJC so great.

 

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Prediction: Dubs Don’t Get Record

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Right now, the Warriors are beating the Spurs by 11 points just before halftime in their fourth-to-last game of the regular season.

I’ve been writing about the possibility all season, but if Golden State wins out, they’ll have the best record in NBA history.

Before it doesn’t happen, I want to go on record as saying it won’t.

Four straight wins is too much to accomplish when two of those games are against San Antonio, even if the Warriors hold on for the win tonight.

Who is Connor Ingalls?

So, if you’re here, I assume you know I’m the one guy writing my (sometimes random) thoughts about the NBA on this blog. You also might have seen my face and heard my voice once.

But what else do you know about me?

Probably nothing. Really, it’d be a little strange if you did.

So, let me tell ya.

I’m Connor Ingalls. I love sports, particularly basketball and football. I love the University of Florida. And, upsetting as it is to all of my sports friends, have developed an affinity for news.

anchor at WUFT-TV, which broadcasts from UF. I love it. I always wanted to work in sports, but as I alluded to, news has popped up in my life in the last few months. Funnily enough, a career anchoring news is actually what I’m going to pursue going forward.

That’s me in an incredibly basic nutshell. If you like hearing what I think about the NBA or want to make fun of me for my ridiculous opinions, keep reading!

Why Isn’t Serge Ibaka Better?

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Flash back to the 2012 Western Conference Finals: San Antonio had hopped out to a 2-0 series lead on Oklahoma City, only to see Serge Ibaka return from injury and help the Thunder win the next two games.

Right at that moment, you would have thought this Ibaka guy was an emerging superstar and the prototypical NBA big man of the future: an athletic, shot-blocking four with a silky smooth jump shot and an uncanny ability to finish at the rim. Ibaka had improved steadily in nearly every major category, so a leap from being a third banana on a title contender to a top 20 player seemed likely. Him not making an all-star game by 2016 would’ve seemed impossible.

Now, two years later, it’s safe to say that Serge has disappointed a tiny bit. The only top 20 list on which he could realistically have a spot would be a ranking of the most handsome players in the league (seriously, that jawline is ridiculous).

Ibaka is grabbing under 7 rebounds per game, despite having more bounce than almost any other big in the league. He’s shooting 1.5 free throws per contest, the second lowest number of his career. His field goal percentage has dipped to just under 48.7, also the second lowest of his career. And to top it all off, he’s recording less than one assist per contest.

I know there aren’t a lot of touches to go around when you play with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but shouldn’t a guy with Ibaka’s physical tools and skillset be putting up something like 17 and 9, rather than the 13 and 7 he’s currently producing?

Damian Lillard is the Only Player Who Can Challenge Steph Curry for MVP

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Damian Lillard is the only player who I think could challenge Steph Curry for MVP.

That sentence, admittedly, might sound a little crazy.

Do I think that’s probable? No. But that’s because Steph is on maybe the best team of all time and I don’t see anyone else truly being given a chance to win it.

But if someone else were to hoist the league’s MVP award this season, it’d be this new Dame we’ve seen emerge since his latest all-star snub.

It’s only been three games, but my god. Check out these stats.

PPG 38.3
APG 5.3
STL 3.0
FG% 55.2%
3P% 48.4%

Those are absurd numbers. And he’s been getting it done in exhilarating ways against great competition.

I mean, just look at this.

I don’t care if that didn’t count. The man is on a tear.

If he can somehow keep this up (“this” only being “playing like the best offensive player on the planet”) for the remainder of the season and will the over-performing Trailblazers into the playoffs, people would have to at least think about throwing their MVP vote his way…right?

NBA Trade Deadline Recap

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The NBA’s annual trade deadline came and passed today. While it wasn’t nearly as exciting as last year’s deadline, nine moves were made. I want to review the three trades I think will make the biggest impact on the league. (This doesn’t include the Tobias Harris/Brandon Jennings deal from Tuesday, arguably the biggest deal of the week, since I detailed that here.)

Jeff Green goes Hollywood

The Clippers brought in small forward Jeff Green from Memphis for Lance Stephenson and a future first-round pick.

I like this deal a lot for L.A. They had a hole at the three spot, having to start Wesley Johnson because their best forward, Paul Pierce, is too old to handle the rigor of full minutes. Green is a legit starter at the position, and gives the Clippers a nice five of Chris Paul/JJ Redick/Green/Blake Griffin/Deandre Jordan once Griffin returns from injury.

For Memphis, they weren’t in a position to do much this postseason following the injury to Marc Gasol, so getting a pick out of Green isn’t horrible.

Markieff Morris shipped out of Phoenix

Finally, Markieff Morris was granted his wish to leave the Suns organization, being dealt to Washington for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a protected first-round pick.

Good move for both sides in my opinion. Phoenix rids themselves of a guy who was becoming a team cancer, while Washington bolsters their starting four spot as they try to salvage their disappointing season by making a run at the playoffs.

Thunder add Foye

It wasn’t the biggest headline, but the Thunder acquired guard Randy Foye from the Nuggets, sending back D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak and two second-round picks.

I think this was an underrated move by OKC, who adds a solid guard off the bench, something they desperately needed. This trade doesn’t really move the meter much for me with the Nuggets, but they are able to pick up two second rounders for a guy who isn’t in their long term plans.

Detroit/Orlando Trade Reaction

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On Tuesday afternoon, the Orlando Magic dealt forward Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons for point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova.

The trade was welcomed nearly unanimously by Pistons fans (judging by Twitter and Reddit), while garnering some mixed reactions from the Magic faithful.

I think the move was good for both sides, much better for Orlando than it might appear on the surface.

From Detroit’s side, it easy to see why it makes sense. Jennings has fallen out of favor to Reggie Jackson at the point and is an essential non-contributor, and Harris is a young positional upgrade over Ilyasova.

Orlando’s thinking is a little more complex, but checks out in my opinion.

Harris hasn’t been producing to the level of his contract (he just signed a four year deal in the summer paying him $16 million a year). Both of the contracts they bring back can be off the books by this summer, allowing the Magic to go after any big free agent they desire.

Another reason to move on from Harris is that he splits time at positions Orlando has younger pieces they’d like to implement more. The Magic see Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon as pieces of their core going forward, and this trade allows them to further develop the two.

As for bringing in Jennings and Ilyasova, they both represent needs for Orlando.

Simply put, they can shoot.

But further, Orlando desperately needs another ball handler. Elfrid Payton has disappointed this season, and CJ Watson has been injured all year long. The Magic were openly looking on the market, and they bought low on a player who averaged over 15 points per game each of the last six seasons before falling out of the rotation after getting injured last season. If he can return to form, this trade is a win for Orlando.

The stretch four has become such a necessity in basketball that every team has one. Orlando’s going into the day was Channing Frye, who barely plays and is on a horrible contract. Ilyasova isn’t a world beater, but is averaging double figure scoring. His addition allows the Magic to continue to roll out a shooting lineup when they so choose while placing Frye on the open market (most insiders expect Frye to be moved before Thursday’s trade deadline).

All in all, I think this was a rare win-win trade. A good start to the madness that will surely come on Thursday.

All-Star Weekend League Summary

With the NBA All-Star Weekend among us, Lucas Dolengowski and I took the time to look at some storylines across the association in our sports talk show The Home Stretch on ESPN Gainesville 95.3. Primarily, we discussed whether or not the Warriors are the greatest team of all time, and what trades the Magic and Heat should look to make at the deadline.

Biggest 2016 All-Star Snubs

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Today the league announced the complete lineups for the Eastern and Western Conference in the 2016 All-Star Game. The squads are as follows.

East

Starters: Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony.

Bench: Chris Bosh, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Paul Millsap, Isaiah Thomas, and John Wall.

West

Starters: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

Bench: LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, James Harden, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson.

Not too much to argue with in those selections, however there’s always a snub or two in these games, and this year is no exception. In fact, I think there are exactly two snubs, one from each conference.

The clearest mistake comes from the West, where Damian Lillard is somehow not an All-Star.

Lillard is averaged over 24 points per game for the Trailblazers, to go along with over seven assists per game. That’s four more PPG and five more APG than Thompson, and nine more PPG than Aldridge.

I get that those two come from the best teams in the league, but still, there’s no way Dame should’ve been left out.

Put it this way, of the top 15 scorers in the league, only Lillard isn’t an All-Star. And he ranks 6th in PPG.

That can’t happen.

There isn’t quite as much of a travesty in the East, however I think Kemba Walker deserved to be an All-Star with the way he’s been playing.

Walker’s putting up nearly 24 PPG in Charlotte ever since the turn of the new year, and has an average of over 20 PPG on the season.

Isaiah Thomas has similar stats to Walker as a whole, but hasn’t lit the league up for any stretch like Kemba has been recently. If it were up to me, I would’ve given Walker the nod.

Cleveland Fired (Arguably) Their Best Coach Ever and I Agree With Them

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David Blatt was fired by the Clevelan Cavaliers on Friday. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

David Blatt won 67.5 percent of the games he coached for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That makes him the most successful coach in Cavs history by win percentage.

Cleveland is currently in first place in the Eastern Conference by two games.

Blatt coached the team to the NBA Finals last year, without a fully healthy lineup.

Yet on Friday, he was fired.

And I think it was the right move.

The Cavs goal this season isn’t to be the best in the East or simply reach The Finals. It’s to win a championship.

The cap is set to rise and allow nearly every team to bring in talent and improve, but Cleveland’s roster is so far over the current cap that they still won’t have enough space to sign any notable free agent in the next few seasons without some major maneuvering. In other words, they are who they are, and are unlikely to improve going forward with most of their important players in their prime or past it.

So, they have to approach every season with the mindset that their window to win a title is closing.

As it stood with Blatt, they were in no position to do so.

Against teams with a record above .500, Cleveland was just 10-8 under Blatt. In the week leading up to Blatt’s firing, they were dismantled by the Warriors 132-98 at home. There’s been a number of reports of an unsettled locker room.

Simply put, the Cavs were not a championship team.

Now, I don’t think that falls on Blatt. But, something had to change if Cleveland wants to turn it around and win a title.

Is firing Blatt the answer? I don’t know. I don’t even think so, in all honesty. But again, it’s title or bust, and they weren’t getting there under Blatt. Now, there’s at least the possibility Cleveland can regroup under new head coach (and LeBron James favorite) Tyronn Lue.