Suns playing well during preseason

Photo by Cydney McFarland

Photo by Cydney McFarland

The Phoenix Suns played their preseason road opener last night and came out with a 104-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Suns were led by a dominant effort from combo guard Goran Dragic, who finished with a team high of 19 points, including 11 in the first quarter on an efficient 7-9 shooting night.

Newly acquired Eric Bledsoe had an off night, going 3-11 from the field. The pint-sized dynamo made up for it in other areas, finishing with nine assists, five rebounds, four steals and, most importantly, no turnovers in a little more than 25 minutes.

Throughout the game it could be seen why so many teams coveted the former Los Angeles Clipper. On one defensive play, Bledsoe ran off his own man, snuck behind Portland’s Joel Freeland, poked the ball away from him and sprinted up court for a relatively uncontested layup. While it was a risky maneuver, those strokes of defensive genius by Bledsoe will fuel the Suns’ entertaining fast break offense.

The Suns, though, haven’t attempted to replicate their “seven seconds or less” glory days, mostly operating out of a half-court attack. The concern for the the team’s half-court offense is spacing. Fortunately, Marcus Morris and Channing Frye combined to go 6-8 on three point attempts and finish with a combined 29 points. Frye in particular looked great in only his second game back after missing last year with a heart ailment.

Fans and pundits alike should not put too much stock into preseason games. Teams play their backups for about half the game, and the second half is often devoted to battles for the last spot on the bench. That said, it was a very nice effort by the Suns. Defensively, they accomplished their goals of not allowing corner threes and forced 17 turnovers. The offense looked efficient, and Bledsoe showed he could run a team with his sterling assist-to-turnover ratio.

If the Suns can bring this type of effort and chemistry night in and night out during the regular season, look for them to escape the proverbial gutter of the NBA.

Running diary of ASU football vs. Notre Dame game

Photo by Shayne Dwyer

The Sun Devils went down to Texas this past weekend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in part of the Shamrock Series. About 200 ASU students hopped on a bus and headed east to cheer on the team. Downtown Devil sports writers Joey Hardy and Matt Tonis were among the group and documented their entire experience from the moment they left Taylor Place until they were back in the dorms early Monday morning.


3:20 a.m.: Our friend Marcus just picked us up in an SUV to shuttle over to Tempe. Blasting rap music on the way there. Everyone in the car is pretty excited for the trip.

3:31 a.m.: We just arrived at Gammage, where the buses will pick us up. There are about 12 other downtown students already here. T-minus one and a half hours until the buses leave.

4:38 a.m.: We are now boarding the buses. Everyone is delighted to find that the bus has outlets and Wi-Fi onboard.

5:02 a.m.: The buses are being held to wait on a few of the stragglers. Some kids have already passed out; we’re ready for some shut-eye ourselves. Decided to skip out on sleep tonight and stay up instead. Two hours into this adventure now, 20 hours left, time to pop on the headphones and get rolling.  

5:20 a.m.: Wheels are up and the buses are rolling. Next stop: Dallas!

7:24 a.m.: Woke up from a nap somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful view, but still so far away.

10:26 a.m.: First stop at a Love’s gas station. Students are getting many snacks and stocking up on food. Hoping this one won’t be too long. We’ve been told our next stop is El Paso, Texas.

1:23 p.m.: The buses have entered the Lone Star State! While most are asleep, there is a sense of excitement in the bus! Smiles seem to be on the faces of everyone who is awake. We know we’re excited for this!

2:18 p.m.: Just arrived in El Paso. Two of the buses are somewhere else, but our two are here at Flying J. They tell us we have plenty of time, which means we will sit down and enjoy a “nice” lunch at Denny’s. Yum?
NOTE: Denny’s did not have any steaks or chocolate milkshakes. If that isn’t odd, I am not sure what is.

3:27 p.m.: We are back on the road, hoping for not too many more stops. The Sun Devils are back on their way to JerryWorld!

6:22 p.m.: Confusion among students on the buses now that we are stopping again. They say it was a driver change, but we thought we did that in El Paso. Odd.

11:04 p.m.: Now stopped in Colorado City. Everyone is tired. They say it should be about two hours to go. This stop was a nice hunger cure, though. Buses one and two are still not with us.


1:37 a.m.: It has been more than two hours since our last stop, and we still aren’t there! Everyone is confused as to how long we’ll be remaining on the bus. It has been about 20 hours since we left Taylor Place, and if you would have asked us when we left where we would be now, the answer would definitely have been the hotel. Thank goodness for the outlets so we have something to do.

1:53 a.m.: We have to resist looking at the map, because we know it will just tell us two hours! This is why the airplane was invented. A long way to go still.

3:37 a.m.: We are outside the MCM Elegante in Dallas. Still not certain this is real — we have been on the move from downtown Phoenix for just about 23 hours and now are waiting to enter our rooms. Everyone excited to lie down and go to sleep. The struggle is real!

4:04 a.m.: Finally able to hit the hay and head to bed. It should be noted that the first group of ASU Downtown kids began their journey about 24 hours ago.

11:26 a.m.: Just woke up. Game day, baby!

2:29 p.m.: Boarding the buses to go to the tailgate, bus is getting hyped up. Everyone chanting “A-S-U!” and singing the Fight Song all the way to the stadium.

3:37 p.m.: BBQ and sweet tea! SAA knows how to tailgate!

4:22 p.m.: Leaving tailgate and walking over to AT&T Stadium!

4:50 p.m.: Group walking into the stadium, speechless because of how massive the stadium is. Starting “A-S-U!” chants as soon as we walked in.

6:00 p.m.: Students starting to pile in. Even though we’re up high in the stadium, it still has the student section feel, led by student superfan Obafemi Oso!

6:40 p.m.: Kick-off! Go Devs! Student section in full swing, keeping up ASU traditions, even students doing push-ups as high up as we are in the stadium!

8:18 p.m.: Halftime here — close game, but we’re a second half team!

8:33 p.m.: Bands just took the field, and it is a general consensus that Notre Dame wins between the bands, but the game will be ours. They had a truck formation with smoke and then formed the state of Texas… Wow. Time for us to win where it really matters, FOOTBALL.

10:16 p.m.: One minute left. Taylor Kelly just threw a pick. Student section deflated quickly.

10:30 p.m.: It’s so quiet in the student section. Definitely not the outcome we came for. Nice to score a touchdown to end it off, though, and a great onside kick. Bus ride back should be quiet. Seems it’s a consensus that we all just want to go home!


12:18 p.m.: Back at the hotel. A lot of fans heading over to IHOP to eat away their postgame depression.

12:30 p.m.: Our friend Kennedy just ordered a sad-faced pancake, demanding it not be a happy face because he is sad about the loss.

1:15 a.m.: Walking back to hotel. Ready for sleep before another big travel day tomorrow.

8:00 a.m.: Wake-up call, bracing ourselves for what we know will be a very long day.

10:34 a.m.: Adios, Dallas! Everyone seems really tired, but most students we’ve talked to enjoyed the experience, though now they just want to be home. No one is looking forward to this ride home. Most wish we could’ve left last night.

1:52 p.m.: Just stopped for the first time, no one’s happy. They said 15 minutes, but it’s been 20. Unacceptable in our opinion.


4:30 a.m.: After a long, arduous journey, we are finally back at Gammage, and it has never felt so good to be in Tempe. Luckily, we only stopped three times, making it just about a 20-hour trip. While some opted for cabs, most Downtown students chose to take an early-morning light rail ride back to Taylor Place.

We arrived at Taylor Place around 6 a.m. Overall, it was an exciting trip, but we can all agree that we will never be taking another bus ride from Tempe to Dallas. Fun? Ask us in a week. For now, we are all still exhausted.

Written by Joey Hardy and Matthew Tonis

Slide show: ASU football vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Photos by Shayne Dwyer

In this year’s edition of the Shamrock Series, ASU lost 37-34 to allow the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to remain undefeated all-time in the series.

Notre Dame’s annual event, designed to display it’s national influence, was yet another success for the school despite facing it’s toughest opponent to date.

The Sun Devils were the first ever ranked opponent for the Fighting Irish in the series. ASU entered with one of the more high-powered offenses in the nation, yet it was Notre Dame’s defense that controlled most of the game, giving the Irish a much-needed victory.

The game was played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, and offered as a homecoming for ASU coach Todd Graham, senior running back Marion Grice and a few other members of the Sun Devil squad. The Shamrock Series games are always played a neutral location with games previously being played at the Alamodome and Yankee Stadium.

The loss to Notre Dame knocks ASU out of the AP Top 25.

The Sun Devils resume Pac-12 play against Colorado at home this weekend.

Written by Troy Lopez

Suns begin a new era in a familiar place

Photo by Alexis Macklin

Photo by Alexis Macklin

For the first time in nine years, the Phoenix Suns return to Flagstaff, Ariz., for training camp.

The Suns will report to Northern Arizona University’s campus for camp from Sept. 30 through Oct. 5.

The Suns were last in Flagstaff in 2004 and have spent the last three years in San Diego.

They’ve also turned to a familiar face by hiring Jeff Hornacek as their new head coach. Hornacek was drafted by the Suns in 1986 and spent six seasons with the franchise.

“I have great memories of training camps in Flagstaff from my time as a player with the Suns,” Hornacek said on the Suns’ team website. “The Flagstaff community has always been very supportive and I’m looking forward to returning there to get camp started.”

One of the most important factors in the Suns returning to Flagstaff is improving relations with their fans, as the franchise has made moves that have not sat well with fans over the past few years.

First, the team failed to acquire the proper talent at the tail end of the Nash era to make a final run at a title. Then, after keeping Nash too long, his trade value decreased, making him nearly unable to be traded.

This season, they have not made acquisitions to immediately improve the team, and, as a result, are still expected to be among the worst teams in the NBA.

Perhaps the final straw for Suns fans was not being able to watch their team in training camp over the past three years. The Suns took a big step in improving the fractured relationship by returning to Arizona.

It will give the fans a chance to watch their 2013-2014 Suns in an informal setting on Oct. 5 at an open scrimmage, but — perhaps even more importantly — it will give the players a chance to bond with the community.

Suns fans seem split on the significance of the franchise’s return to Arizona for training camp.

ASU journalism junior Jeffery Chapman said it means little to him, explaining he only followed the team after they stopped training in Flagstaff.

“The current direction of the team is hard to swallow. I’m used to seeing the Suns score over 110 points, win 50-plus games and have a fairly deep run in the playoffs,” he said.

Gilbert native Josh Cutler had a different take on the relocation. He said he planned on attending the scrimmage and described the Suns’ new direction as a “relief that we are bringing in young talent for the hope of a bright future.”

Rookie Alex Len looks like a potential franchise center, and 29th overall pick Archie Goodwin looks to be the steal of the draft. The team has also acquired dynamic guard Eric Bledsoe but will still most likely finish the season with a Top 5 lottery pick in possibly the most highly anticipated draft of the decade.

The last time the Suns were in Flagstaff, they were coming off an atrocious 29-win season with fans and experts expecting only minor improvements. Instead, the Suns won 61 games and started one of the most successful eras in franchise history. While the rebuilding process probably won’t be as quick this time around, there are plenty of reasons for optimism in Flagstaff.

Slide show: ASU football vs. USC Trojans

Photos by Connor Radnovich

In only its fourth game, ASU has already played in arguably the most important game it will play all season.

The Sun Devils needed a win against the USC Trojans Saturday night in order to avoid falling to 0-2 in the Pac-12 conference play. Behind the efforts of junior quarterback Taylor Kelly and senior running back Marion Grice, ASU rolled USC 62-41.

The Sun Devils held a 20-14 lead over the Trojans going into the second half, but USC quickly seized control with a touchdown 46 seconds into the third quarter.

The Sun Devils responded 21 seconds after that on a DJ Foster touchdown catch, retaking the lead, and again 47 seconds later on a Alden Darby interception, starting the onslaught. They scored two more times in the quarter to build a comfortable lead they would hold for the rest of the game.

It was a tough night for USC as the team’s all-time leader in receiving yards, Marqise Lee, left the game with an apparent left knee injury in the fourth quarter.

The school also fired head coach Lane Kiffin in the early hours of Sunday morning after the team arrived back in Los Angeles. USC named assistant coach Ed Orgeron as interim coach for the remainder of the year.

With the dominating win over the Trojans, the Sun Devils move into the AP Top 25 at No. 22.


Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain of the band Journey played the national anthem before the game.

ASU faces Notre Dame this Saturday in the Shamrock Series game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

Written by Troy Lopez

Best NFL viewing parties in downtown Phoenix

Photo by Alexis Macklin

Photo by Alexis Macklin

By Joey Hardy, Lauren Hornberger, Gavin Schall, Matthew Tonis and Kristina Vicario

Last weekend, we had our writers go out and take in NFL Sunday at different restaurants in downtown Phoenix. Each restaurant was reviewed on its food, atmosphere, TV accessibility and service. We talked to customers at the restaurants and even offered a little bonus fact to make your experience at each location a little better. We ranked them from best place to take in some Sunday football to a place you might want to avoid Sunday afternoon.

1) Majerle’s

Food: If you prefer to order from a wide variety of choices, Majerle’s offers delicious options on their lunch and dinner menus. If you come really hungry, you will be happy to note that the food does not take long to get to your table once you have ordered it.

Atmosphere: The bar-like tables and booths along with darker lighting give this restaurant a family-friendly feel. The old-fashioned bricks surrounding the restaurant contribute to the space’s cavelike style.

TV accessibility: The multiple high-definition TVs allow fans to see multiple games from one table. These TVs are also large enough to see from any seat in the place. Magnets that represent each NFL team adorn the TVs that will be airing each matchup. Majerle’s also has sound, usually playing the Cardinals’ matchup or the most important game.

Service: It is common to see the welcoming and attentive staff sporting the jerseys of their respective teams. Everyone seems to love the bartender, who is quick to refill a glass or root alongside you.

What the customer said: Majerle’s comes complete with enthusiastic regulars, cheering for their teams with only good things to say about their favorite place to watch the game.

“We have been coming for three years. This is the best place (to watch the games) downtown,” said Memo Villa and Chris Medina, two avid Cardinals fans.

“You can get a warm beer anywhere, but we come here for the warm beer and the good service,” Medina added, joking about the Arizona heat.

Larry Rodgers agreed, stating the “casual, laid-back environment and personable bartender” have kept him a valued customer of Majerle’s for three years.

Bonus: In addition to the delectable food, the restaurant offers a special, though limited, breakfast menu for game days. This is much appreciated by the broke college students who come to watch the game while trying to avoid the inevitable hole in their pocket. Most of the specials include two sides and go for around $7-8.

2) Tilted Kilt

Food: Tilted Kilt provides an array of menu items typical for a sports bar. On Sunday mornings, the menu also includes limited breakfast options. For appetizers, Tilted Kilt has onion rings, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers, all of which exceed expectations. The onion rings were topped with parmesan cheese, an interesting combination that somehow worked out well. The price wasn’t outrageous, either. The bill came out to about $30 with tip for our three appetizers and one drink. It was better than typical fried food you would find elsewhere and greatly satisfied the taste buds.

Atmosphere: For the early games, don’t expect much of a crowd. There was no struggle to find a seat when we walked in just after 11 in the morning. However, as the afternoon games began, more of a crowd filed in. There were a diverse amount of fans, everything from the Cardinals to the Patriots. If you’re not a die-hard fan of a certain team, Tilted Kilt is great, because all the games are provided.

TV Accessibility: You can see multiple large, high-definition TVs from almost anywhere in the restaurant with every game on. There are also two projector screens that show two separate games, likely the fan favorites of the week. If you are interested in watching your whole fantasy team at once, this is the place to be!

Service: The service was pretty standard. The waitress continuously checked on the table, making sure everything was okay and never trying to get us to leave. However, as it became a more crowded, service did get a little spotty. When we did want to leave, it took a while for us to get the check. The people sitting at the table behind us also waited more than five minutes until anyone came to the table to greet them. It was not the best, but definitely not the worst either.

Bonus: If you come in looking for a specific game, the Tilted Kilt has you covered. When we first arrived, the first question they asked is if we were looking for a specific game. They were cooperative and put us right in front of a TV showing the game we wanted.

3) Hooters

Food: While Hooters doesn’t have a particularly extensive or creative menu, they are known for their wings. Two great choices are the Samurai with teriyaki sauce and Honey Chipotle. Both flavors of wings are delicious; the teriyaki has a sweet, garlicky flavor, while the Honey Chipotle is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The signature Hooters breading was noticeable on both wings and was crunchy and enjoyable. The breading eventually succumbed to the thick sauce and became soggy, but it was delicious while it lasted. The Hooters “World Famous Curly Fries” were decidedly mediocre.

Atmosphere: The restaurant was pretty dead upon arrival, but eventually reached half capacity by the end. There was little excitement in the restaurant and customers seemed isolated from each other and unenthusiastic for the games. The space definitely didn’t have the stereotypical characteristics of a great sports bar or restaurant — no one seemed to know each other, and there was no trash-talking or high-fiving, which is basically everything that makes it worth getting out of your house and going there for a game.

TV Accessibility: There were TVs all over the bar, and they could be easily seen from practically anywhere in the restaurant. The downside was that they were showing only two of the four 1 p.m. games and there was little to no volume on either game. Instead, they were playing music.

Service: The service was consistently excellent. Three or four waitresses enthusiastically greeted us immediately when we entered the restaurant. Seating wasn’t an issue and a waitress was always almost readily available to take an order. The food took a little while to come, considering it wasn’t crowded. The rest of the staff were always attentive and polite, making it easy to start up a conversation with the waitress.

What the customer said: “I like socializing with people, and there’s a lot of traffic here,” said Miguel, a regular at Hooters. “If I just ask them to change the channel, they’ll change it.”

Bonus: The restaurant features some special selections on a Sunday-only menu during the NFL season.

4)Alice Cooper’stown

Food: If you’re looking for an extensive and unique menu, Alice Cooper’stown is the place to go. They have eight different categories of food on their menu, everything from typical bar fare to vegetarian options. The “Big Unit,” a 22-inch full-pound hot dog, seemed to be the most popular item on the menu. The “Bernie Mac” and Cheese Bites appetizer had the great taste of macaroni with a little crunch. Eight of these glorious creations came in one order, totaling eight dollars, which was definitely a great deal.

Atmosphere: Alice Cooper’stown provides an atmosphere with two of the best things: sports and rock n’ roll. This would lead one to believe it would be a hoppin’ place. However, the place was dead. Of all 20 customers there, there was only one guy really enjoying the games. The rest of the customers were passive, as if they were just there to enjoy a meal. The bar area was almost entirely empty, not typical of a sports bar on Sunday. Another downfall is a very loud and obnoxious bell that is rang anytime someone orders a “Big Unit” hot dog. It gets old fast. If you’re looking for a more vibrant and exciting place to go on a Sunday, Alice Cooper’stown is probably not the best option.

TV Accessibility: Alice Cooper’stown probably has some of the best accessibility to view games on a Sunday. Five projector screens are positioned over the bar area, showing all available games. Also, there are six high-definition TVs positioned throughout the lounge. There is definitely no problem in being able to see your favorite team play on Sunday at this restaurant.

Service: Service was nothing special. After spilling a drink, the service staff was quick to come clean the mess up. However, after we only ordered an appetizer, our waitress did seem relatively annoyed with us just sitting there.

What the customer said: Terry Walsh and Tera Tillman, a couple from downtown Phoenix, come weekly to Alice Cooper’stown. They said they were surprised to see how many people were in the restaurant and that usually there were fewer.

Brandon Moser raved about the food, saying what Alice Cooper’stown offers is not typical of bar food and speaking on how much he enjoys it.

5) The Turf Irish Pub

Food: The Turf Irish Pub is currently in the middle of changing its chef and menu, but they still offer a good variety of options, from appetizers to sandwiches to a la carte sides. Prices are a little on the expensive side, especially for a college student, and there are no special offers available.

Atmosphere: Stepping into The Turf after being out in bright Phoenix sunlight is like being thrown into a black hole, and it takes several minutes until your eyes can adjust to the dim lighting, which is reminiscent of a dingy underground pub. The restaurant is not designed for watching sports and connecting with other fans, as each section of the space feels secluded from the rest. The Turf gives off the typical Irish pub vibe, with old-styled high-backed booths and candles dispersed throughout the establishment.

TV Accessibility: Most of the television screens are small, with only one big screen that is not high-definition. Not all of the games were being shown, as they also show horse racing on half of the televisions. As a result, not all of the crowd was there for football, and there is very little fan excitement.

Service: The service at The Turf is the biggest and one of the only upsides to going there. The staff is helpful, attentive and friendly, willing to cater to customers’ needs. The food did not take long and they will change the televisions to whichever game you want to watch.

What the customer said: There were only a small number of people scattered throughout the restaurant, most of whom were regulars.

“At Turf, they know what we want to drink and watch the game,” said Penelope Quinn, a regular at The Turf since it opened. “It is fan-friendly, in the neighborhood, has the NFL Ticket, has good food and good staff.”

Quinn, a bears fan, said she also goes to Rose and Crown and Majerle’s, but that The Turf is her favorite.

Griner resurges Mercury

Photo by Cydney McFarland

Photo by Cydney McFarland

This time last year, the Phoenix Mercury were sitting at home with the second worst record in the WNBA, beaten out only by the Washington Mystics. This year, this Monday night, on a shot with 4.9 seconds left by stellar rookie Brittney Griner, the Mercury advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the eighth time in the history of the franchise.

Last year was a difficult one for the Mercury. Phoenix had 10 different players start a game last season, and Alexis Hornbuckle was the only woman on the roster to play in all 34 games. The only other player to play in more than 30 games was leading scorer DeWanna Bonner, who averaged 12 points per game. Star guard Diana Taurasi was limited to only eight games as she dealt with a strained left hip flexor all season.

Then, magic hit the organization. The Mercury’s ping-pong balls bounced their way, giving them the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. Thankfully for Phoenix, Griner, one of the most dominating players in the history of women’s college basketball, was eligible for drafting. As April 15 rolled around, there was no doubt that the former Baylor star would be moving to the desert.

The 6-foot-8-inch center made an immediate impact for the Mercury, scoring more than 10 points in each of her first nine games with the organization. Griner also averaged three blocks per game over that stretch, blocking four or more shots five times. She averaged 12.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game, a very productive season for a rookie.

In the team’s three-game series against the Los Angeles Sparks, Griner averaged 11.3 points, while scoring the two biggest points of the team’s season, the game-winning basket in game 3 against Los Angeles.

Griner’s positive impact on the Mercury’s season has been undeniable. Her acquisition, along with the Taurasi’s resurgence, propelled the team to a playoff berth and a deep playoff run this season.

The Mercury will face the Minnesota Lynx in the Western Conference Finals on Thursday. The Lynx swept the Seattle Storm 2-0 to advance to the series against Phoenix.

Intramural flag football kicks off downtown

(Photo by Alexis Macklin/DD)

The mob of elated fans walking through downtown Phoenix last week was not celebrating ASU’s controversial win against Wisconsin. They were praising a much more important event: the season opener of men’s intramural flag football.

The highly anticipated match between the Sea Turtles and the Inhuman Event headlined the night. While both teams looked promising, the Sea Turtles had a feared reputation from their success the year before.

“We did really well (last year) and other teams respect us for that,” said Sea Turtles sophomore Kerry Crowley.

The Sea Turtles, led by Crowley and sophomore Cammeron Neely, look to put their second round loss in last season playoffs behind them and bring home an intramural title in 2013.

Crowley said that while most teams don’t do well their freshman year, his team proved to be more organized from the start. The Sea Turtles came complete with a team mom who supplied orange slices and a mascot in a penguin suit, an apt fit for the team’s name.

The Inhuman Event, made up of entirely students from the Barrett, the Honors College, come into the 2013 campaign fresh from high school athletics, getting their first taste of collegiate intramurals.

The Sea Turtles dominated the game from start to finish, keeping the Inhuman Event scoreless in a 31-0 victory. The competitive, intense nature of intramural flag football shocked some of the freshmen from Inhuman Event.

However, Inhuman Event players remained in high spirits throughout the game. One player even tried tossing the refs a $20 bill at halftime and, fortunately for his debt, did not receive a lawsuit as a result. Despite the outcome, intramural flag football is regarded highly by its players.

“It is a time to play with our friends but definitely taken seriously,” Sea Turtles sophomore Adam Engelbert said. “We run advanced plays and use no-huddle offense. We want to win the title.”

The men’s flag football teams play their games at ASU Preparatory Academy at Seventh and Fillmore streets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-10 p.m.

Diamondbacks on verge of elimination

Photo by Cydney McFarland

Photo by Cydney McFarland

With their 9-3 loss Tuesday to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks are two games away from being eliminated from the NL West Division title. Sitting 9.5 games out of first place, the Diamondbacks will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.

The Diamondbacks have struggled the second half of the season, going 26-29 after going 50-44 in the first half and being in the thick of the divisional race. The organization has wasted the past couple of years while getting rid of perennial all-star Justin Upton and shortstop Stephen Drew, both of whom are on division-leading teams. Had Arizona kept both players, they would have offered more protection in the lineup for MVP-caliber first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

Goldschmidt has been the only bright spot for the D-Backs offensively in 2013. The burly first baseman leads the team in nearly every major offensive category, while no other player is even remotely close. With Upton and/or Drew, the Diamondbacks could have had a more potent lineup.

The bullpen has been another weak spot for the Diamondbacks this season. The team has blown 27 saves, converting only 57 percent of its opportunities. If the bullpen had only converted half of their blown chances, the Diamondbacks would be right in the division race.

Arizona missed a major opportunity this season with Goldschmidt having one of the best offensive years in the team’s brief but successful history. The team needs to stick with a roster for more than one season so it can develop back into a playoff contender.

All that Diamondbacks fans can hope for now is a successful offseason and that when spring comes again, a new hope will too.

Slide show: ASU football vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Photos by Connor Radnovich

Possibly the strangest 18 seconds of college football anyone will see this season decided the victor of Saturday’s game between Arizona State and Wisconsin.

ASU found themselves on the right end of one of the most confusing last plays in recent memory, giving them the 32-30 upset of No. 20 Wisconsin.

With a two-point lead, the Sun Devils were faced with nearly guaranteed defeat as the Badgers held the ball on ASU’s 13-yard line. Wisconsin tried to move the ball to the middle of the field to make the expected field goal attempt easier. The Badgers’ quarterback Joel Stave took a quick knee, stood up and put the ball on the ground, thinking the play had been called dead.

Chaos ensued after the play when ASU defenders jumped on the football, thinking Stave had put the ball on the ground and not properly kneeled. Stave began discussing the previous play with the referee while ASU defenders continued to lie on the ball, thinking it was a fumble.

It wasn’t until there were two seconds left in the game that Stave realized the clock was still running. He tried to spike the ball to stop the clock, but time ran out. ASU players stormed the field as Stave and other Wisconsin players argued with referees.

The win gave ASU its ninth victory over a Big Ten opponent at home and launched the Sun Devils into AP’s Top 25 rankings at No. 23.

“I am proud of our players. I am so proud of our fans coming out and blacking this thing out. They were rocking all night long,” Coach Todd Graham said after the game. “This senior class, they have something special. I have seen some things tonight that I haven’t seen since I have been here — character, toughness.”

ASU travels to Palo Alto, Calif. this weekend to face No. 5 Stanford.

Written by Troy Lopez