1 » Waiving two players on Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans whittled their roster down to 15 ahead of the start of the 2014-15 NBA season. Former Florida Gators center Patric Young, an undrafted free agent who was picked up by New Orleans and impressed during training camp, continued to flash during preseason action and earned a spot on the Pelicans’ regular-season roster. Young will be New Orleans’ fourth center (behind Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and Jeff Withey) but may be able to work his way up the depth chart if he continues giving tremendous effort like he did last Thursday. On the floor as the clock ticked down against Dallas, Young slammed home a dunk with 2.1 seconds remaining to help his team pull out an 88-85 victory. “As far as having another guy that can come off the bench and doesn’t need the ball in his hands, I think I can step into that role right away,” he told The Times-Picayune. “My goal is just to come here with a great attitude and stay humble. I’m going to chase after rebounds with the mentality of, ‘If I don’t get this rebound then I’m out the league.’ It may be a little extreme, but I want it more than the next guy.”
2 » Former Gators C Joakim Noah has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Chicago Bulls for the last few seasons, but his body has held him back on numerous occasions. A multitude of injuries, primarily to his lower body, have either kept Noah off the court or – more often – forced him to play through pain that most players would not. With another NBA slate starting Tuesday, Noah admitted through gritted teeth that he “still ha[s] a ways to go” in recovering from left knee surgery. “It’s fine. It’s a work in progress. It’s getting better. I’m happy with where it’s at. Let me live, man. Geez,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times, trying to keep his situation close to the vest. A source close to Noah told the paper that his “knee is going to be an issue all season long,” and the Bulls appear prepared to limit his minutes on a game-by-game basis. “There’s a plan,” Noah explained. “We take it day by day and se how it feels, see if there are any setbacks.”
Earlier this month, Grantland.com’s Jonathan Abrams published a long feature on Noah, detailing his entire journey to superstardom. Below is a short excerpt from the 6,000-word story, which is an absolute must-read for fans of Noah.
“They don’t do anything halfway,” Christine Donovan said of her husband and Noah. “It’s either balls-to-the-wall or they don’t do it at all. If my husband is going to give my kids a bath, they’re going to be so clean. My husband washes the car, he’ll be out there for three hours.”
When [Billy] Donovan recognized this trait in Noah, he understood that he could coach the player hard — that Noah’s desire and toughness wouldn’t falter if Donovan pushed him. Early in Noah’s sophomore season, Donovan noticed that his big man lacked his normal energy. Besides his class and practice schedule, Noah had been accepting invitations to talk at elementary schools and do volunteer work at hospitals, acts of generosity that were tiring him out. “You’re in awful shape because you won’t take care of yourself,” Donovan told Noah in front of the team. “You’re not in the condition you were to start the season. All you’re doing is running yourself down, and now you’re not even in shape to play like you need to play.”
“He took that to heart,” Donovan said recently. “So I get a phone call at like eleven o’clock at night from our manager, and the guy’s like, ‘Coach, Joakim is on the track right now running sprints.’”
3 » Striker Abby Wambach, already the career international goals leader in the history of the sport, added four goals to her new total of 177 on Sunday night as the United States routed Costa Rica 6-0 to win the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. With the Americans already qualified for the 2015 FIBA Women’s World Cup, Wambach played carefree on Sunday, recording her eighth career hat trick (all three goals on headers in the first half) before adding a fourth later in the contest. Her final strike of the evening put her No. 1 on U.S. Soccer‘s all-time list for goals scored in World Cup qualifying matches. Wambach left the event with the Golden Boot for top goal scorer (seven); earlier this week, she earned her third-straight nomination for the FIFA Ballon d’Or (World Player of the Year), an award she picked up in 2012. With 177 goals (more than anyone in the sport’s history) in 228 matches, the former Florida star is in line to pass the 200 mark before her career (likely) wraps up after the next World Cup.
4 » Former Gators swimmer and 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte has been called plenty of things over the last few years. It’s time to add “generous” to that list. According to myfoxphilly.com, Lochte left a 94 percent tip ($400 on a $425.40 bill) while partying in State College, Pennsylvania.
According to USA Today, “magnanimous” can also be added to that list of descriptors for Lochte, as he recently granted a wish – via Make-A-Wish – for 15-year-old Erik Nieman, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Lochte took Nieman through an entire training regimen, spending ouf hours with him in Charlotte, North Carolina.