The NBA Season is upon us

It is now four days into November, which means we are eleven days into the NBA season, and boy has it been interesting. There have been hot starts galore, and certain teams have struggled out of the gate that were not expected to. Basically, it has been a great start to the season, and it is only going to ramp up from here. Here is a look at some players that have had fire coming out of their hands in recent games.

DeMar DeRozan came into the season as a Kobe-lite player. DeRozan has showed that he can score in the midrange and get to the rim, but his three point shot is lacking and he has never been a particularly effective scorer. Questions surrounded the five year, $139 million dollar contract he signed this summer, as some thought he had already reached his ceiling. For his career DeRozan has an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 45.7%, this year it is 55.9%. That is an incredible jump, and one that will probably not be that large by the end of the season, but it is indicative of DeRozan maturing. While his three point shot is still not there (1-8 on the season) he is still managing to score effectively, as his lowest field goal percentage for a game this season has been 43%. Oh and by the way, he is the first person to score thirty or more in the first five games of the season since Michael Jordan. MICHAEL JORDAN. DeRozan looks like a man possessed and is making Sports Illustrated look silly for placing him 46th on their top 100 players list. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up his efficient, hot start over the course of the season.

And now to look at what happened last night between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a game as hyped as any regular season could ever be, Kevin Durant put his foot down. Durant finished with 39 points and hit 7 threes, and his back to back threes within 15 seconds of each other in the second quarter buried the Thunder. Durant was the definition of effective throughout the game, hitting 15 of his 24 shots and finishing with an eFG% of 77.1%. It was one of the greatest shooting displays I have witnessed, and he certainly sent a message that he is not going to back down from the Thunder. On the other side, Russell Westbrook’s worst tendencies displayed themselves down the stretch. Westbrook was wild and out of control for most of the game, finishing a paltry 4-15 from the field with six turnovers. Westbrook always plays with reckless abandon, which is part of the reason so many fans love him. But nights like Thursday are why people say you have to take the good Westbrook with the bad, as he can psyche himself out of games. Last night’s game only makes me look forward to the next Warriors-Thunder matchup more, especially when they return to Oklahoma City. I doubt Westbrook turns in another stinker, and we may just see him shatter a backboard a la Shaq if he gets going.

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Learning to not Procrastinate

Procrastination is something especially rampant in high school and college. A company named StudyMode found in 2014 that 87 percent of the high school and college students they asked self-identified as procrastinators. In that same study, 45 percent of the students said that it was hurting their grades. So why do students continue to procrastinate when it is obvious that it is only going to work against them? There are a few obvious reasons, such as it is just more fun to not do your work and instead hang out with friends, watch television, play video games, etc. However, at the end of the day we know it must be done, so why stress ourselves out and wait until the last second?

Procrastination was a big problem for me in high school, as I was able to skate by on the bare minimum with no repercussions. It seems like that is the case for most people. Also, as outlined by Cal Poly, there are four simple reasons for procrastinating. The task is seen as difficult, time-consuming, there is a lack of knowledge, and finally just fears in general. To me, the most relatable is being afraid of seeing people see my work and going, “oh wow that is downright atrocious.” Now you would think having that mindset would lead to me wanting to get a head start on my work, and take it slowly so that I could edit more and not feel so panicked. And yet, I would find myself typing out papers the night before they were due, waiting to study until the night of the test, and then feeling iffy whenever I would turn something in or take a test.

Freshmen year of college, I learned this would not be the case. I waited to study for a statistics test until a few hours before I had to take it, and waited until the night a five page paper was due to type it. I did awfully on both, receiving a D on both. This freaked me out, and made me realize that going forward I would need to develop better study habits in order to achieve the grades I really wanted to. This has led to me, for the most part mind you, starting to review about four to five days out from a test. So far, it has helped immensely, as I have been far less stressed and more prepared for my exams. J2150 has only reinforced this idea because if you do not stay organized and on top of things it will eat you alive.

Here Comes Homecoming

Homecoming is finally about to be upon us. For many organizations around campus, the fruits of their labor are finally about to be on display this weekend during the Homecoming Parade. Floats will be driven, and accompanied by the members of the organizations that helped to build them over the course of the semester. It is an exciting time to be on campus, as many alumni come back to witness the festivities and go to the big game. But this year, the game is not so big. In fact, it is rather quite small.

This year for Homecoming, Mizzou plays the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee plays in the C-USA Conference, which is a middling FBS conference. Not exactly what you may have been expecting, huh? Compare Middle Tennessee to the opponents in previous years, such as Florida, Vanderbilt, or South Carolina and there is a clear difference. So why is this year’s game against a middling team in a middling conference, when in previous years Mizzou had played SEC teams?

To me, the answer is simple. It is easy to see that Mizzou is much worse than in years past, and last years disaster of a Homecoming game against Florida proved that especially. That was the start of a three game streak where the offense could not score a single touchdown, a true feat of awe-inspiring incapability. Since Homecoming is noted especially for the amount of alumni that return to their alma matter, the decision on who to schedule was already made. Schedule the easier opponent, pick up a win, make everybody happy.

There are so many things going wrong with the football team right now that it is sad. The offense has become anemic again, managing just three touchdowns in the last two games. Two of those touchdowns came in garbage time, so really the offense has managed to score one touchdown in meaningful game time. That is just a sad, sad reality for a team that was so dynamic just two years ago. But Drew Lock has struggled greatly, and Marvin Zanders looked much better at the end of the Florida game than Lock ever did. While that came during garbage time as well, the 99 yard drive Zanders led was impressive, and I believe Barry Odom should experiment using him more. At this point, it can not get much worse for a program that once helped prop up a weak SEC East.

NPR Style

Cedar Creek has been around for a while, located off of Highway 163 in Columbia, Missouri. Many people have driven by it without knowing what it is, simply seeing horses and families. Driving by has piqued the interest of some, leading to them volunteering there. As more people continue to hear about Cedar Creek, it’s rep continues to grow. Here’s two volunteers to provide some insight into some of the challenges at Cedar Creek.

My NPR Style assignment

Good Morning

“Good Morning” is the leading song off of Kanye West’s third studio album, Graduation. Kanye West is a rapper as well as a producer, and hails from Chicago, Illinois.

He began producing at a young age, and began to achieve notoriety when he started to produce for Jay-Z. His work on the critically acclaimed The Blueprint gained him recognition in music industry as a producer, and so he turned his attention to making a debut album.

Kanye’s debut album would encounter multiple issues, a major one being the lack of confidence people had in his ability to rap. These worries would be put to rest with the release of The College Dropout, which was met with critical acclaim. After the release of his second studio album Late Registration, Kanye focused on the work of his third studio album, which would eventually become Graduation. 

An important thing to note, especially for this video, is that a common theme through Kanye’s first three albums is his use of a bear on the covers of the albums. This bear serves as a sort of translation of Kanye’s entrance into the rap game, with the album title showing where Kanye/the bear currently is in his transition.

The beginning of the video shows the bear being awaken by his alarm clock, only to realize that he is late for his big day, the day of graduation. The bear then rushes to ready himself for the big day, brushing his teeth and changing quickly, before hopping into his car. The car breaks down almost immediately, the first of many obstacles the bear will face on his way to the graduation ceremony that day.

As the day continues, the bear faces more obstacles, which include an extremely lengthy line for the bus, not being able to hail a taxi, being a step too late for the subway ride which closes in his face, and being chewed up by a cloud that places him into a nightmare type scenario, in which the bear is being chased by a twister.

However, once the bear is expelled out of the cloud, the day suddenly takes a sharp turn for the better. The sky goes from dark and menacing, to the clouds opening up to reveal a bright, sunny day. The bear gets to the university, and while he is running across a field to the ceremony, quickly scores a touchdown against the university’s football team. After diving into the endzone, the next shot shows him bursting in on the ceremony and briskly throwing his jacket in the air, revealing a graduation gown. The bear proceeds to walk up to a character that seems to be some type of official at the university, and received his “Bachelor of hip hip music.”

Leaving the university the bear starts to celebrate with his friends, as they leave in his car(which is somehow suddenly fixed), and are blasted into an open space type area, with the titles of several songs off of Graduation appearing in the background.

Since the bear is a sort of a symbol for Kanye, all of the actions in the video are important. The bear awakens and has a late start on the day, similar to Kanye’s late start in the industry as a rapper. All the troubles the bear encounters on the way to the ceremony signify all the troubles Kanye had breaking into the industry as a rapper. Not being able to hail a taxi can act as a sort of symbol for not being able to secure a deal with a record company, and being chewed up by the cloud could be a way to show that Kanye feels the industry has attempted to chew him up and spit him out.

The transition to the bright day shows how Kanye has succeeded despite towards all the obstacles in his way, and the touchdown could serve to demonstrate the success of his two albums. Receiving his “bachelor’s degree” signifies his recognition from others in the industry, and the car blasting off into space conveys that his journey is only beginning.

I believe Kanye is successful in achieving his purpose with the video because the video has a clear outline, and even though it leaves many things up to interpretation, the overall message is clear. I enjoy the video, and it goes to show the creativity Kanye has. It makes the audience feel guilty for the bear, while simultaneously taking the audience to a more cheerful state by the conclusion of the video.

Reminiscing on the 04-05 Illini

The 2004-2005 Illinois Fighting Illini men’s basketball team may be one of the rare teams that is remembered more than the national champion from that year. The Illini won their first twenty-nine games of the season, with their first loss coming in their last regular season game against Ohio State on a last second shot by Matt Sylvester. From there, they won the Big Ten Conference tournament, and worked through the NCAA Tournament until eventually falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game. But simple details do not do justice to the force that Illini team was, and anyone who watched them play would agree. The Fighting Illini were voted the best college basketball team to never win a title by Sports Illustrated readers. To this day, that team is my favorite in any sport I have ever watched, as they just brought that special something, a type of magic to the table that is impossible to replicate.

First of all, the Illini brought an unselfishness to the table that permeated throughout the team, similar to what Steve Nash brought to the Phoenix Suns in the mid to late 2000’s. That stemmed from starting three All-American guards in Dee Brown, Deron Williams, and Luther Head, who could all handle the ball and make the smart read in transition and in the half-court. The Illini led the NCAA in assists that year with 727 , and that three headed monster accounted for 591 of those. Nothing exemplified this unselfishness more than this fifteen pass possession  against Northwestern that led to a wide open Dee Brown three pointer. Just look at that play again. Everyone touches the ball, and good looks at the basket are passed up in order to swing the ball for a better one. Deron Williams has a good look at a three with about ten seconds left on the shot clock, but instead passes it in to James Augustine, who makes the final pass to Brown. The chemistry between the starting five of Brown, Head, Williams, Roger Powell Jr., and James Augustine was on a whole other level, largely because they had already been playing with each other for two seasons.

The most “magical” moment of the season no doubt came in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, when the Illini faced the Arizona Wildcats. The Illini were awarded the overall number one seed for the tournament, and were able to play their Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games in Rosemont, Illinois, a mere two hours away from Champaign. Illinois fans came out in herds, and the Illini were essentially playing home games. With a raucous crowd in hand, the Illini were trailing the Wildcats 77-63 with 3:28 remaining in the game. With their season on the line, the Illini proceeded to go on an incredible run to tie the game. And they did it by playing their brand of basketball, applying pressure on and off the ball on defense, and finding open looks from three. The Illini forced four turnovers in the last three and a half minutes, scoring nine points off these turnovers. When Deron Williams tied the game at eighty with thirty-eight seconds left, the arena absolutely erupted. CBS cut to Bill Murray losing his mind in the stands, and that image lingers in my mind to this day. To me, that image encompasses what the Illini were all about. A group of 18-22 year olds played basketball with such a passion and contagious energy that you could not help but smile every time you watched them play, no matter your age or social status.