to be part of a team that is capable of heroics
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- While much of the rest of the nation played at least one game over the weekend, South Carolina waited three more days to get its new season started.After waiting about 20 months to play a game for the Gamecocks, that belated tip came not a moment too soon for Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray. Transfers eligible for the first time with their new team, they had a lot of lost shots to make up for.Behind 37 points from Davis and 24 points from Gray, fourth-ranked South Carolina outlasted No. 7 Ohio State 92-80 for a road win as impressive as any they earned a season ago. By way of Georgia Tech and North Carolina, respectively, Davis and Gray combined to outscore everyone else on their team. The pair scored 61 points and took 39 shots. Their teammates scored 31 points and took 25 shots.Without them, South Carolina would have lost Monday night.With them, well, its fun to imagine what is possible in the months ahead.Youve got to let the players play, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. For us, weve never been this fortunate in allowing them to make plays. You dont have to control everything. Once you try and do that, you get in the way of everybody.For the first time in a long time, there was no Tiffany Mitchell for South Carolina. One of the programs all-time greats moved on to the WNBA after last season. The surprise Monday was that there was barely any Aja Wilson. Foul trouble limited the All-American to just 16 minutes and five points in a matchup that looked on paper like it would be an early player-of-the-year primary against Ohio States Kelsey Mitchell.Even when Wilson was on the court, Davis wasted little time scoring her first South Carolina points and the first points of the game. Closing a sizable amount of space in just a few steps, she stole an offensive rebound, relocated to the top of the key and knocked down a jumper. By halftime, she had 15 points -- two more than Mitchell. Gray had 10 points and South Carolina had a 44-39 lead.With Wilson getting in foul trouble early, that made it kind of difficult just to get the ball inside, Davis said. I think tonight was just one of those games where we kind of ended up by ourselves and maybe taking certain shots we wouldnt take in other games.While it sounds strange to say about a road game against a top-10 opponent, circumstances set up well for Davis. The Buckeyes want any game to have as many possessions as possible, and even on a night when they were dissatisfied with the pace, the tempo suited a scorer. And without Wilson, there was no awkward dance of deference.As a sophomore at Georgia Tech, Davis averaged 19.2 points per game. She also had the luxury to shoot 36 percent from the floor. She was the offense. She could shoot herself into rhythm. That wont be true at South Carolina, not all the time. Not when Wilson and Alaina Coates need the ball. Not when Gray has a hot hand. But she had leeway to settle in Monday.I think were still learning how to make that fit perfectly, Davis said of finding the balance. Like I said, tonight was a little different just because of the foul trouble situation. But I think it may be a game-by-game thing. Also in practice, were figuring out where that works and during what times to take what shots. Obviously we want to start off with our bigs. I think theyre some of the best bigs in the country, if not the best. We want to start there and work our way out.But with Wilson again on the bench after picking up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter, Davis took over in a way fans in Columbus are used to seeing -- just not from a visitor. After Mitchell pulled Ohio State within a field goal at 53-51, Davis hit a long jumper. Then after Gray took her turn, Davis hit a 3-pointer. Then another jumper. Then two free throws. The burst pushed the lead to eight points late in the third.When Ohio State again closed the gap, Gray and Davis again supplied the bulk of a run that put the game away. Davis capped it with a high arcing rainbow of a 3-pointer, exactly the kind of shot Mitchell so often makes on the same court.Asked if she was generally comfortable with Davis taking 20-plus shots -- South Carolinas single-game high for field goal attempts last season was 19 -- Staley joked that she was but that her assistants cringed when the shots started flying.Im still feeling them out, Staley said of Davis and Gray. Last year, they practiced with us but they didnt practice within the rotation -- we did it toward the end of the season because we knew we were kind of passing the torch. But Im still learning. Were not going to be the team we were in the past years where the point guard actually controlled the tempo, everything worked through the point guard. Youve got some guards that can initiate the offense and see over defenses, and were going to play off what they do best and not pigeonhole them into what we look like yesteryear.It is not as if Davis or Gray took Ohio State by surprise. One of the last games Gray played at North Carolina was a win in the NCAA tournament against the Buckeyes. And there was ample familiarity with Davis, the second-ranked recruit in her class in 2013.Ive seen them play; I know how good they are, Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. But I think the biggest thing would be its just hard to focus on any one particular person. You start focusing on them too much and then Aja Wilson and Coates are going to have a field day around the basket. Thats what makes them so dangerous; theyve got so many good players.You can start talking about playing zone or double teaming the post or whatever it may be. But basically, essentially, youve got to get down and youve got to guard them and be really sound with what you do. When we werent sound, Davis and Gray really made us pay.South Carolinas schedule, with games looming against Louisville, Texas, Duke and UCLA, makes it likely there will be a stumble. Maybe two.But to add guards like Davis and Gray, not just scorers but big, strong rebounders and passers from the perimeter, to what the Gamecocks already had in the post?The possibilities are fun to think about.Obviously having Ohio State away as your first game back can be tough ... Davis said of her debut. I was excited to get here and get on the floor and play with this group of girls.It was a long time coming. Now the clock is ticking to figure out how to stop them. Nike Epic React Flyknit Comprar . 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For years, the United States had been chasing the British in para-rowing, and last year at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette-le-Lac, France, the U.S. almost caught them.The 1,000-meter LTA (legs, trunk and arms) mixed coxed four race included six teams -- each with two men and two women with various disabilities and one able-bodied coxswain -- but with about 400 meters to go, it was a two-boat race.U.S. coach Ellen Minzner couldnt find a good vantage point, so she watched the race on a large video board. Her team had a strong cadence and was rowing well, she said. She thought the crew had more to give, but the experienced Great Britain team, which had won gold in the 2012 Paralympics and every world championship since, beat the U.S. at the line. The Brits finished in 3 minutes, 19.56 seconds, the Americans in 3:19.82.The U.S. team was crushed.I think the long and short of it is, we were up against an undefeated crew that had done this before four or five times in a row and was a very, very confident crew, Minzner said. I wouldnt say so much as we made errors, we were just up against somebody that was not at all worried by how close things were. They had been to the line before. Theyd been quite quick, and we just didnt match them stroke for stroke in the final quarter of the race.The U.S. hopes that will change next week at the Rio Paralympics, which begin with the opening ceremonies Wednesday. With the same four rowers and coxswain as in France, Great Britain again will be the favorite to win gold. But for years, the U.S. team has been narrowing the gap. Three of the four American rowers in Rio are carryovers from the team that competed in France, and the newbie of the group actually competed on the team in London in 2012.Theres not a day that goes by that you dont think how close we were to winning the gold, said Jaclyn Smith, one of the U.S. rowers. Its time to take that picture out of my head and actually go and win the gold.They are five distinct personalities with one collective goal: to win in Rio.DANI HANSEN IS the crier. It doesnt take much.She cries when she looks outside, teammate Dorian Weber said.The third of five daughters, Hansen was born with Erbs Palsy, the result of a birth injury that damaged nerves near her left shoulder and rendered her left arm paralyzed. Doctors said she likely would never use her left arm, which was shorter than her right, but her parents didnt listen.When Hansen was a baby, her mother constantly moved Danis arm. Her father helped Dani learn to navigate the monkey bars in their backyard. While Hansen struggled to button her pants, tie her shoes and braid her hair, her family never treated her as disabled. When Hansen was about 8 years old and struggling with her disability, Sharon told her: Everyone has an obstacle to overcome. This is yours. Work hard, keep trying and never say you cant, and one day youre going to compete in the Paralympic Games.After Minzner announced which athletes made the Paralympic team in June, Hansen raced out of the Community Rowing, Inc. boathouse in Brighton, Massachusetts, and called her parents. It was 7 a.m. back home in Patterson, California, and when her mom answered, Hansen started sobbing. She could get only one word out: Rio. It was the greatest information to be able to tell my parents, the greatest news, Hansen said. I was ecstatic, over the moon. It makes me emotional now. ... When I was younger my mom told me there was something I could be really great at even though I had a little bit of a handicap. I could use it to do something really cool. Thats what I remember, being like, Yeah!Hansen, 22, rows for the University of Washington. She did her first pushup at age 21, and then her first pull up. She still struggles to raise her arm over her head and turn it, and she said, I still have a lot of things I havent figured out yet.Theres still time.JACLYN SMITH IS the sarcastic one. Maybe its because she comes from a large Irish-Catholic family on Long Island. Maybe its because shes the daughter of two former police officers. Or maybe its just her.The second of four kids, Smith was born with a genetic condition called ocular albinism. She has no pigment in her hair, skin or eyes. She has photophobia, which is sensitivity to light, and nystagmus (her eyes move rapidly and involuntarily from side to side). Her vision is at a level that makes her legally blind.I was born and my parents were like, Whats up here? Smith said. So they went for some gene testing, and they found out there was a one-in-four chance that they would ever pass it on to their kids. Four kids later, Im the only sucker thats got it.Although doctors and counselors recommended Smith attend a specialized school to try to minimize any social issues she might encounter, her parents sent her to a mainstream school from nursery school through eighth grade. Before moving on to a prestigious all-girls Catholic high school, Smith had a meeting with a couple of counselors, a teacher and her parents. Someone asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.Smith said a police officer, like her parents, her two grandfathers and several uncles. One of the counselors laughed at her.I couldnt believe it, Smith said. I started tearing up and thought, This is awkward. I was never the kid to cry -- Danis the crier -- but that just broke my heart.Smith, 23, started rowing her freshman year of high school. It was easier than sports she had played that involved a ball. She could do it all by feel. Shes been part of the U.S. para-rowing team since 2013 and is working on her second masters degree to become a school counselor.I dont want any kid to ever feel the way I did when I told them what my dream was and they laughed, Smith said.ZACH BURNS IS the quiet one.?And hes the youngest on the team at 19, which might explain his reluctance to be hearrd.dddddddddddd native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Burns is a sophomore at the University of Michigan and a member of the Wolverines rowing team. His parents attended Michigan State for undergrad and then met at the U, as Burns called it, when they were in grad school. Burns grew up 10 minutes from campus going to Michigan football games and playing sports.He was born with a clubbed left foot that was surgically repaired when he was a year old. But there were lingering issues. His left leg is about a half-inch shorter than his right and significantly skinnier. His left calf is detached, his left quadriceps muscle has atrophied and he has limited flexibility in his left ankle.But Burns never felt there was anything substantially wrong with him. He grew up playing soccer and lacrosse. Sure, he might have to explain to a coach why when he got tired he would start limping, but he never felt significantly inhibited, and it didnt dawn on him until a few years ago that he would actually be eligible for a Paralympic team.I guess I didnt know what the Paralympics was about, Burns said. I think when most people think about the Paralympics they think of someone with no arms or no legs swimming, or someone in a wheelchair or something very visible. I have a club foot. I didnt realize there was a class where I would qualify for that, and once I did, I came here.Its been really helpful, too. Ive learned a lot about just like, I dont know, getting around some limitations.Burns has learned how to do a power squat on one leg: his left. And when the Olympics are over, the quiet one will be back at school studying to be an engineer -- and rowing.DORIAN WEBER IS?the inappropriate one. Born in Manhasset, New York, and raised in England, Weber is 34 and a pharmaceutical sales rep in Florida. He competed in the Paralympics in 2012 and was part of the U.S. able-bodied lightweight eight that finished third in the 2013 World Rowing Championship.Im told Im the one with no filter, he said. Depending on how strong you want your coffee, sometimes no filter is good.Weber bumped Ricky Vandegrift, who competed in the world championships last year, out of the boat and is more experienced than Hansen, Smith and Burns.So that makes him something else: the ringer.Like Burns, Weber was born with a club foot, but the disparity in his legs is hardly noticeable. He qualifies for the Paralympic team because he lacks flexibility in his feet, which hinders him a bit in rowing, but on a scale of 1-10, he described his disability as a 1.And Weber isnt shy about his expectations for the team in Rio.Ah, we should win, he said. The three of them and a previous athlete I replaced, Ricky, theyve been getting silver medals. Theyve narrowed [the gap with Great Britain] to within a second. When I did it [in 2012], the boat wasnt close to getting medals. Now theyve got very fit athletes who are at very high levels. ...I should be bringing hopefully enough to ... you cant guarantee anything in life. I wouldnt bet the house on it, but Id bet my crappy car on it.JENNY SICHEL IS?the self-described bossy one.?And shes empathetic. She has to be both. As the coxswain, Sichel steers the boat and is responsible for keeping the crew synchronized and motivated. At barely 110 pounds, shes a peanut with curly brown hair and a nurturing disposition.The 28-year-old also is the only athlete in the boat without a disability.A Clifton, New Jersey, native, Sichel took up rowing at Bryn Mawr College. She made the varsity as a freshman, but the next year, while in the middle of taking a rowing stroke, Sichel felt something in her back pop. She practiced the next day and felt it again. Finally, she had a trainer look at her back. She had a herniated disk. Her career as a rower was over.I ended up sitting at the boathouse painting all the oars and doing random miscellaneous things, like riding a launch, Sichel said. I love the team atmosphere. It was pretty devastating. I got into coxing and said, Hey, I could do this, and then I fell in love with coxing.Like the others on the 2015 team, she replayed what went on in that world championship race over and over. And then she let it go.For me, for probably a good month afterward it was definitely me repeating the race in my head, once, twice a day, overanalyze it, figure out what we couldve done better, Sichel said. After that month, I was in one of those positions where I can either use it as fodder to make myself work harder and use it as information, or I could kind of like let it affect me completely. So I definitely used it as fodder for this coming year.Great Britain rode a better race than us. By being able to say that and appreciate it is one thing, and being able to come back from that and perform better this year is a whole other ballgame. And thats where we are.The moments before an important para-rowing event tend to be quiet and still. For this one in Rio, Hansen will have to work hard not to cry. Weber will be in his zone. And Sichel will be organized and prepared, buoyed by the disappointment of 2015.The gold medal is the goal, of course, but it is not the final destination for any of the athletes or the coaches. It would mean they had traveled 1,000 meters in three minutes and change faster than any other team. But they are striving for more.The gold medal is great, but it sits on the wall for a long time, Minzner said. If thats the only thing we chase, I think we can limit ourselves. I feel like we want to be part of a team that is capable of heroics, thats amazing, and how do we get ourselves in the mindset where were capable of heroics? Theres a gold medal that comes at the end if were really heroic, so yes. But its more, how can they row in a way that makes them feel super proud and capable of heroics? I think that that is very, very important. 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