Eye of the tiger

first_imgThis is placeholder text Advertisement When Antoine Mason walked across the stage at Niagara’s graduation in 2014, he knew he had a choice to make.The nation’s second-leading scorer could use his fifth year of eligibility to play for second-year head coach Chris Casey on a Purple Eagles team that just went 7-26. He could put up 25.6 points per game in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference again or he could have a more balanced role on a power-conference team that draws the eyes of more NBA scouts.But that’s not exactly how the decision was laid out.“He said he was going to play less minutes,” said Anthony Mason, referring to Casey’s plan for his son. “And he wanted him to score less, which made absolutely no sense to me or nobody else.”After being faced with the prospect of playing a lesser role on a team in which he was the best player, Mason made a decision to maximize his final year of eligibility.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNow an Auburn Tiger, Mason knows playing in the Southeastern Conference will get him more NBA exposure, despite the fact he won’t be scoring in the mid-20s every game. He wants to prove to people, most importantly professional scouts, that he’s not simply a scorer and can adjust his game to fit into a better team.“He just saw me as a lesser minutes, lesser role, lesser points guy,” Mason said of Casey. “I thought me, being my last year, that’s not going to be my best decision.”Courtesy of Wade RackleyAntoine Mason was second in the nation last year with 25.6 points per game. He was told he wouldn’t see as much time if he was to stay a fifth year at Niagara, so Mason transferred to Auburn in order to get more exposure to NBA scouts.Mason’s 25.6 points per game was the second highest average in Division I, next to Creighton’s Doug McDermott’s 26.7 scoring average last year. But he didn’t really start playing serious competitive basketball until AAU in his junior year of high school, said Latifa Whitlock, Mason’s mother.Growing up watching his dad play for the New York Knicks, Antoine always had a ball in his hand but played “everything.” Whitlock didn’t want him to choose basketball just because of his father.But time on the T-ball diamonds and soccer fields were replaced by time on the hardwood, and scoring 28 points in a high school basketball game his sophomore year proved to Mason that it was his sport.“I felt like it came naturally,” Mason said of his scoring ability. “It was just easy for me.”That innate ability to put the ball in the basket was on display in his senior year at Niagara, which made it that much stranger when Casey told Mason he’d play less, need to score fewer points and have to take on a smaller role if he was to use his fifth year.Mason said Casey didn’t have a reason for the proposed plan, but that it was probably because he was a new coach. Whitlock said Casey wanting to give playing time to his first full crop of incoming recruits may have played into her son’s decision.Knowing he had one last shot to impress NBA scouts, Mason chose to head to Auburn and play for first-year head coach Bruce Pearl.Anthony Mason said if his son was transferring to a school that was coached any way like he was last year at Niagara, he wouldn’t even be coming back to college. But Pearl’s system will be good for Mason and force him to fit into an offense that doesn’t revolve around him.“I would expect him to be one of our leading scorers but I don’t anticipate that he will put up those types of numbers, not just because of the level, but the role he will play on our team,” Pearl said at Auburn’s media day. “We’re going to have more balance than they did at Niagara. He could score more for us but my teams have always been fairly balanced.”Mason said he’s been hearing the same questions from a couple people, “Can you play on this level?” “Are you going to be respected on this level?”The common perception that he’s simply a scorer needs to be thrown out the window, Mason said. He wants to prove that setting up teammates to score like he has makes him equally as valuable of an asset as putting up 25.6 points per game does.“I feel like I have better teammates (at Auburn), but I always feel like I’ve got to play my part as well,” Mason said. “If I can get my teammates involved and get them going, I don’t need a lot of shots.”Pearl knows Mason can play a more balanced game. Anthony Mason said his son has always been a well-rounded player.Now all that’s left is to prove to NBA scouts and everyone else is that he’s not just a scorer, but someone who can do it all on a bigger stage.Said Mason: “It’s going to be, ‘Oh, he can play at any type of level.’” Comments Published on November 13, 2014 at 1:09 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.last_img read more

Is this how Tottenham win the Premier League?

first_img 6 6 The Premier League title is done and dusted, isn’t it?Most pundits and fans have got Leicester with at least one hand on the trophy after they dispatched Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.The 2-0 victory, thanks to two Jamie Vardy strikes, keeps them seven points ahead of Tottenham with five games left apiece, although the second-placed side showed no signs of giving up as they beat Manchester United 3-0 at White Hart Lane, having briefly gone 10 points behind Leicester.But is the race for glory really over?The Foxes have got a tricky looking run-in with games against top four challengers West Ham, Manchester United and current champions Chelsea, while Spurs’ toughest competitors appear to be the Blues and Southampton.Certainly, if Tottenham are to have any hope of winning the title, they need Leicester to slip up in the next couple of games.So, forget your algorithms, ditch your digits, scrap your sums. Is this how the Premier League title race plays out?Game 34Leicester 1-2 West HamStoke 1-3 TottenhamThe Hammers have had an excellent season and have shown time and again that, in the face of adversity, they are capable of keeping their cool and coming from behind to win games. Slaven Bilic has proved himself an excellent manager against the top sides this season, overseeing away wins at Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool, and could well have another scalp if his men hit form against the Foxes. Spurs meanwhile will hope to brush aside a Potters team comfortably in mid-table and missing Jack Butland in goal. A win for the Lilywhites, coupled with Leicester being stunned by the Hammers? Gap down to four points…1. Leicester 72pts (Goal difference: +25)2. Tottenham 68pts (Goal difference: +37) 6 6 Game 36Manchester United 2-1 Leicester (Goal difference +26)Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham (Goal difference +37)United may have had a disappointing season under Louis van Gaal, but they are no mugs and with Wayne Rooney back and desperate to find form ahead of Euro 2016, the Red Devils could put a spanner in the works, especially at home. Having lost just three games all season, Leicester have now been defeated twice in the last three. But there is a saving grace, because Tottenham face a tough away trip too, with Chelsea desperate to scupper their London rivals’ chances of succeeding them as champions. Two defeats apiece and a major blow to Tottenham as they fail to capitalise on Leicester’s second slip up. It’s getting very nervy, but the Foxes need just one more win from the last two games to guarantee the title is theirs.1. Leicester 75pts2. Tottenham 71pts Tottenham star Dele Alli celebrates center_img 6 Game 37Leicester 2-2 Everton (Goal difference +26)Tottenham 2-1 Southampton (Goal difference +38)Roberto Martinez is fighting to save his job and having seen his team slip to a 3-2 reverse earlier in the campaign at home to Leicester, another ding-dong battle is on the cards at the King Power Stadium, as Everton throw caution to the wind. Leicester fans are being put through the wringer as they pray for the win that will seal the title on home turf. But with the stakes so high, the composure that served them so well is lost and a draw means Tottenham live to fight another day. A day later, Pochettino’s players do just enough to close the gap to two points with a nail-biting victory, taking the title race into the final day of the season. Despite Leicester hitting the buffers, destiny remains in their hands. A Leicester victory will definitely hand the crown to Ranieri’s team, as would Tottenham failing to win. For the title to be Tottenham’s, the Lilywhites must win their final game and, with a superior goal difference, hope Leicester fail to win their last match. It really is all to play for.1. Leicester 76pts2. Tottenham 74pts Game 35Leicester 2-0 SwanseaTottenham 1-0 West BromBack to business for Claudio Ranieri’s men, who should be too strong at home, even for the revitalised Jacks. Tony Pulis will ensure his Baggies don’t roll over, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men might well squeak a win at White Hart Lane. Three points apiece and Leicester edge closer to the title, needing just six points to guarantee the championship.1. Leicester 75pts (Goal difference: +27)2. Tottenham 71pts (Goal difference +38) Game 38Chelsea 2-1 LeicesterNewcastle 0-3 TottenhamChelsea fans are desperate for their old favourite Claudio Ranieri to deny Tottenham the title, putting them in the strange position of wanting their team to lose. But as was proven in 1995, when Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn travelled to his old stomping ground of Anfield needing a win to secure the title ahead of Man United, only for Liverpool to see Rovers off 2-1 and virtually hand the Red Devils the title on a plate, the Premier League has no time for teams that roll over. And with new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte watching, and John Terry desperate to show the incoming Italian he needs the Blues’ skipper to hang around, the home side tear into a nervous Leicester side, who can sense the title agonisingly slipping away. Chelsea, let’s not forget, are the deposed champions and play with a pride that’s a credit to the Premier League’s competitive spirit, in this most enthralling of seasons. All the stunned Stamford Bridge crowd can do is hope that, like in 1995 when Man United failed to capitalise on Blackburn’s last day loss, Tottenham too will fluff their lines. But the North London side’s tails are well and truly up, and facing a desperate Newcastle United team already relegated, Pochettino’s men triumph emphatically at St James’ Park to win the Premier League.1. Tottenham 77pts2. Leicester 76ptsIt couldn’t happen, could it? Probably not, but whatever happens from now until the end of the season, you can be sure the Premier League will continue to deliver the drama that makes it the world’s most entertaining football competition! Tune in to talkSPORT for live coverage of the games and debate, and leave a comment below letting us know what you think will happen in the title run-in… 6last_img read more