first_imgUSC student Chris Roessner drove to the US Department of Veteran Affairs’ Westwood office Friday morning to apply for an emergency payment for student veterans. The line was so long, he said, he applied for the payment from his iPhone instead, as he needed the money so he could pay his rent.Roessner, a first year graduate student in the USC Student of Cinematic Arts’ Peter Stark Producing Program, was one of nearly 25,000 student veterans nationwide to line up for emergency payments worth $3,000 last week. Roessner and the other veterans — there are about 100 others at USC — rely on the Post-9/11 GI Bill to help fund their education, but Veterans Affairs has fallen behind in processing applications for the funds veterans need to keep up with their payments.Vetting funds · Chris Roessner, a graduate student, served in Iraq and is now waiting for GI Bill benefits to help fund his education. – Vicki Yang | Daily TrojanThe Post-9/11 GI Bill provides fee or tuition coverage for every veteran who served after Sept. 11, 2001, up to the cost of the most expensive public school in the state where the veteran will be studying.USC adopted the program at the last minute after controversy over California’s tuition rates. Originally, California veterans were only entitled to benefits under the Yellow Ribbon Program — a special provision of the bill — as California tuition was listed at 0. Now, however, the Veteran Affairs’ website lists California’s GI Bill tuition benefits as $287 per credit hour and $2,165.25 in fees per semester.Veteran Affairs, however, has been slow in processing applications for GI Bill benefits, and veterans have been forced to wait for their funds, as expenses pile up.To remedy the problem, Veterans Affairs began issuing the emergency checks — handwritten checks that advance some of the GI Bill money to veterans — on Friday.The emergency funds give veterans $3,000 they can use immediately. Those funds will eventually be taken out of the veterans’ GI Bill benefits.“The $3,000 advanced pay is going to be recouped in small increments from [my] future GI Bill payments,” Roessner said.Roessner has been using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for rent expenses, but since his checks for this year have not arrived, he will use the emergency funds for rent.Roessner is not the only USC veteran having trouble with GI Bill benefits.Anthony Tagum, a Marine and a senior majoring in accounting, said he is applying for the $3,000 emergency payment because his funds haven’t been processed yet.“[The GI Bill] is going to help me cover all my books and school supplies and helps me cover housing and any tuition payments,” Tagum said.Roessner, who served in the Army for six years before college, also earned his undergraduate degree at USC, though without any Veterans Affairs’ benefits. Roessner decided he wanted an education during the time he served in Iraq.“I learned how important education was in Iraq when I saw how dangerous Saddam Hussein thought education was,” Roessner said. “I decided that the only thing that was important to me if I was to make it back from Iraq was that I would cultivate my own unique perspective on the world. And that was more precious than anything.”In addition to GI Bill benefits, veterans at USC could benefit from the Yellow Ribbon program. The YRP allows universities to volunteer to give veterans additional funds that Veteran Affairs will match, Robert Morley, USC associate registrar and tuition exchange liaison wrote in an email.USC’s participation in the YRP includes 20 awards for undergraduates at $2,500 each, and awards of $10,000 for 10 students in the School of Social Work and 10 graduates in the Rossier School of Education. Those awards are matched by Veterans Affairs.Morley said the Veterans Affairs requires that veterans are awarded with YRP stipends on a first-come first-served basis.“Whoever provided us with their VA certification for benefits [first], that’s how we determined who would get [the stipend],” he wrote.last_img read more

first_img Published on March 16, 2015 at 9:57 pm Contact Sam: | @SamBlum3 The Carmelo K. Anthony Center film room was silent except for the ESPN commentators on the giant projected screen talking about Syracuse, just seconds after they announced its first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament.No one said a word. All the SU players, coaches and family were intently watching.Then Syracuse center Briana Day broke the silence. “That’s us,” she exclaimed boldly, before the rest of the team acknowledged the accomplishment with a quiet round of applause.“At first I heard it, but it didn’t register to me,” Day said. “Then, I’m like, ‘Ah, that’s us.’ I got really excited. It was a really good feeling.”It’s a feeling that eighth-seeded Syracuse (21-9, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) has gotten used to. Now, as it prepares to face No. 9-seed Nebraska (21-10, 10-8 Big 10) at 7:30 on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina, the questions surrounding SU head coach Quentin Hillsman and his players on Monday were more about excelling in the tournament rather than just reaching it.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd as the Orange filed into a small film room to watch the tournament selection show with media members surrounding them, it was clear that the sentiment around the program is continuing to shift.“We know what it’s like to be in the NCAA tournament,” Hillsman said. ”I think that moving forward, the experience of knowing what to expect, knowing how you’re going to travel, what you’re going to do, it gives us a lot of confidence.”Guard Cornelia Fondren said she spent the whole day anxious in class, wanting to know what seed the Orange would get. She had been checking the projected brackets regularly, and had seen SU’s projection go up and down from a five seed to an eight during the season’s final weeks.Hillsman said he stopped concerning himself with the projections ever since the 2010-11 season in which his 25-10 SU team was projected to be sent to the WNIT.This time around there was no question as to whether Syracuse would make the tournament. It was just a matter of where and when.“The anxiety is just knowing who you’re going to play, just so you can get back into the office and work,” Hillsman said. “… Moving into this game, we just want to be ready, want to be prepared, want to be rested.”The ESPN broadcast showed teams jumping and screaming when their names were called. It showed packed gyms with hundreds of fans waving towels and pom poms. It even showed a team that had printed T-shirts for the occasion.But for Syracuse, the moment was far more subdued. The players each came in at different times leading up to the screening. Hillsman — sporting a leather jacket and jeans — helped entertain his toddler son. Before the event started, junior Brianna Butler was playing a trivia game on her phone with her teammates.There was no reason to jump up and shout for the Syracuse players. They’ve been there before.“It just feels like I’m a freshman all over again,” Butler said, “and this is the NCAA tournament and to get called is something you usually dream of, and for it to be a reality for three years is good.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

first_imgFollow us on Twitter @dailytrojan The USC men’s water polo team (20-1) will be taking on the Pacific Tigers (15-3) in a critical matchup for both squads, as the Trojans enter the game with the No. 1 ranking while Pacific boasts the third spot in the national poll.Leader · Senior driver Nikola Vavic leads the Trojans with 58 goals this season and broke the program record for career goals earlier this year. – Joseph Chen | Daily TrojanUSC head coach Jovan Vavic’s squad is coming off of an impressive 16-10 victory over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, another perennial water polo powerhouse. The win over the Gauchos propelled the Trojans back to the top spot in the national rankings. The team had previously held the No. 2 spot for four consecutive weeks following their loss against UCLA in the finals of the SoCal Tournament in early October.Pacific enters this weekend’s matchup coming off of a heartbreaking 12-10 loss to No. 2 UCLA.With a number of MPSF matches coming up, Vavic knows his team will have to bring their A-game if they’re going to remain undefeated in conference play.“We have big conference games coming up,” Vavic said. “Everyone is going to play each other multiple times.”Tigers goalie Alex Malkis has been dominant to this point, averaging 12.7 goals per game. He will have to come up big if Pacific is to snap USC’s 16-game winning streak against the Tigers and put a dent in the Trojans’ 43-7 all-time record against them.The Trojans have yet to lose a road game this season, having won both of their matches in enemy territory (the one loss occurred in a neutral location), and will look to keep a zero in that loss column behind the strong play of senior standout driver Nikola Vavic.Vavic recently took over as USC’s all-time scoring leader and has added to his legacy with his performance this season, leading the team in goals with 58 to this point.Junior driver Kostas Genidounias is often overlooked but has been just as effective for the Trojans. His 56 goals on the year have been key, and his scoring often comes in critical moments of close contests for the Trojans.Behind Genidounias and Vavic, the Trojans have managed to score a number of goals, but their defense has not been quite as dominant. The unit has averaged 5.3 goals allowed per game overall, but 8.5 goals per game in two MPSF matches. If USC is to win a record sixth straight national championship, Vavic said they must improve in that regard.“We need to play better half-pool defense,” Vavic added.If the Trojans can step up said defense, they’ll be in prime position for another national title run. Looking ahead, they have huge rivalry matchups with MPSF powerhouses California, Stanford and UCLA. The matchup with the Bruins will be the final regular season game before the conference championship tournament and, following that, the NCAA Tournament.USC and Pacific will begin play in Stockton, Calif. at noon.last_img read more

first_imgAwaziem played the entire duration of the match, but would have wished for a good result to mark his first game for the Mauricio Pellegrino’s team.Gerard Moreno’s double and a Jonathan Silva’s own goal gave Villarreal a comfortable away victory at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Chidozie Awaziem made his debut for Leganes who lost 3-0 at home to Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal in their LaLiga clash yesterday in Spain.But Awaziem’s Nigerian teammate, Kenneth Omeruo, was however not listed in the Leganes’ matchday squad.Super Eagles youngster, Samuel Chukwueze was benched for the entire duration of the game after previously featuring in Villarreal’s opening three league games of the campaign.last_img read more

first_img“But there are various non-transferable players like (Marc Andre) Ter Stegen, (Clement) Lenglet, (Nelson) Semedo, (Frenkie) De Jong, (Antoine) Griezmann, (Ousmane) Dembele… players we are counting on in the future.”Ousmane Dembele “But Barca does not want to sell players, although we receive several offers for players. We don’t want to sell him. He has a great future. I’m telling you from here, he’s non-transferable.”Antoine GriezmannHead coach Quique Setien was sacked following the defeat against Bayern, with Ronald Koeman appointed as his replacement.Bartomeu stated that he’d had conversations with the new boss about the importance of Messi to the side.“I have spoken with [Ronald] Koeman and the pillar of our project is Messi. “He has a contract until 2021, I speak a lot with Leo and more regularly with his father. He is number one in the world. There is no doubt that in Koeman’s new project you can count on Messi.” He added youngster Ansu Fati to his list by stating that although he had received offers for the player, he’d rejected all of them.“We have had (offers) for Ansu Fati, for example. Following Barcelona’s miserable performance against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, there’s been a lot of talk about a complete overhaul of the squad.The unbelievable 8-2 defeat sparked conversations about which players should be sold by the club as they get ready for a fresh start.A few fans even suggested that everyone, with the obvious exception of Lionel Messi, should be sold given their subpar showing.Doubts have even been raised about the certainty of Messi remaining at the club, with Manchester City and even Chelsea noted as possible destinations.Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has come in for massive criticism, agrees that the side needs some changes.He, however, insisted that Lionel Messi would not be sold under any condition.Bartomeu also named seven more “untouchables” at the Catalan club who he believes the club cannot afford to lose.Goalkeeper, Marc Andre Ter Stegen who conceded all eight goals against Bayern is one of those on the list, along with defender, Clement Lenglet, who endured a nightmarish night against the Bavarians.Also mentioned are Nelson Semedo, who was sent back into July by Bayern’s Alphonso Davies, Antoine Griezmann, who started on the bench against the German champions and Ousmane Dembele, whose time in Barcelona has been marred by injuries.“Messi is untouchable & non-transferable. He knows it, we all know it,” Bartomeu stated.last_img read more

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisALPENA, Mich. — Bay City Artist Mark Piotrowski had to climb up and down his ladder many times throughout the week, but his art project, which he calls wave journeys, is done.This is the second mural created for the Downtown Development Authority’s Fresh Waves Initiative, an initiative meant to bring vibrant one-of-a-kind artwork to the area. Regarding the final product, Piotrowski said he’s very pleased with how it turned out. “This is a work that is definitely from my heart and soul, and i really hope that it is enjoyed as much as i enjoyed creating it,” he said.It seems that is already becoming the case as Piotrowski said he’s already witnessed a student taking her senior pictures in front of it. They then posted that on social media, proclaiming they were the first ones,” he said. “It just is a great feeling knowing that something i have done is going to live in this community and be used in a whole lot of senior pictures and photos.”Piotrowski’s mural is located at Salon 125 at 125 E. Chisholm St. The DDA has plans for another mural next month at Thunder Bay Theatre’s warehouse. Artist Britt Flood will begin working on it either Aug. 17 or 24.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: Alpena Downtown Development Authority, Mark Piotrowski, MARKed ARTs, Salon 125Continue ReadingPrevious An Alpena man faces charges for abuse with a minorNext United Way kicks of their Stuff the Bus programlast_img read more

first_imgFormer Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was surprised that he was not approached about the vacant manager’s position at Anfield.The 53-year-old, who guided Liverpool to both FA Cup and Champions League success, also believes his appointment would have been well received by the Liverpool faithful.“It was strange not to be approached,” he told the Irish Independent.“We know the club, the players, the Academy and we have even more experience now…the fans were positive about the idea.”Benitez left the Merseyside club by mutual consent during the summer of 2010 after they finished seventh, missing out on a Champions League place.But despite the sour manner in which his time at Anfield ended, Benitez was quick to point out what he achieved during his six-year reign. He added: “We used to play so many important games that it seemed it was normal and it wasn’t.“People were talking about ‘the past’, but just a few years ago Liverpool FC was number one in Europe.”last_img read more

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Chase Utley’s 7th inning slide into second base injured Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada and the Dodgers tied the game on the play. After Tejada was carted from the field, the Dodgers scored three more runs in the inning to take control of the game.See video of Utley’s slide.last_img

first_imgSpring training doesn’t count, right?The wins, losses and ties sure don’t, but every now and then something happens on a back field in Florida or Arizona that baseball hasn’t seen before. It might be a trend, a fluke, or a subtle signal of change. These things don’t stand out in box scores, but they’re more important than the box scores.Here are five interesting wrinkles you might have missed from the past month.1. SLOW PLAYSThe Red Sox brought back eight of the 10 pitchers who contributed to their World Series victory last October. Those eight combined to pitch 42-2/3 innings in the five-game series against the Dodgers. Through Tuesday, they had combined to pitch 36-2/3 innings in 24 Grapefruit League games. Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter First-year Rangers skipper Chris Woodward raised eyebrows in February when he told reporters his new team was a closer-knit group than the Dodgers, who employed Woodward as their third base coach from 2015-18. The Rangers are widely projected to finish last in the American League West. The Dodgers had just been to the World Series two years in a row. Chemistry can’t matter that much. Right?Woodward considers it fundamental. When he took over the Rangers, he told me, “I stressed with these guys: ‘let’s get as deep as we possibly can so we know each other intimately, so we can really lean on each other, then push each other when we feel like we need to.’ That’s where it’s really important.”Contrast that with the authoritarian approach of a generation ago. Montreal Expos manager Tom Runnells once addressed the team on the first day of spring training wearing military fatigues. He probably preached a different message than Woodward brought to Texas.“The one thing I told our guys the other day in the weight room, first and foremost I want to make sure I tell all you guys: We care,” Woodward said. “As a staff, I care deeply about every one of you guys. I may release you tomorrow. Doesn’t change the fact that we still care about you.”3. SPYGATEI joked in this space a couple of weeks ago about the logistics of fitting all 1,200 members of the MLB Players’ Association in one room. The Dodgers, Rangers and White Sox had just held a joint players-only meeting with some union leaders at an off-site locale. Days later, the A’s, Rockies and Diamondbacks did the same.Maybe there was more to the location than mere logistics.When union chief Tony Clark met with the Detroit Tigers players recently, they convened outdoors on a back field. Days later, Clark and players on the New York Yankees did the same. It was reported that each team was concerned about team officials surveilling meetings in the clubhouse. Ironically, meeting off-site or outdoors offered a greater sense of privacy.Blame technology. Blame the high stakes of collective bargaining. It’s always startling when the clubhouse isn’t a safe space for players.4. TWO-WAY PLAYERSWe were promised pitchers who would hit, hitters who would pitch, and whatever the Angels’ medical staff was allowing Shohei Ohtani to do on a daily basis. The last month did not disappoint. Through Tuesday’s games, here’s who has tried both pitching and hitting in major league camp:• Michael Lorenzen (Reds P/OF):3 AB 1 H 1 BB 2 K8 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BBs 6 Ks• Matt Davidson (Rangers P/3B):37 AB 8 H 3 HRs 5 RBIs 4 BBs 15 KsPitched in an intrasquad game Monday, won’t pitch in Cactus League games• Kaleb Cowart (Angels P/IF):9 AB 2 H 1 HR 5 RBIs 1 BB 5 KsHas pitched in minor league and intrasquad games so far• Jared Walsh (Angels P/OF/1B):19 AB 5 H 0 HR 5 RBIs 4 BBs 4 Ks6-1/3 IP 3 H 4 ER 4 BBs 4 KsRelated Articles A similar story is playing out in the Dodgers camp. Clayton Kershaw has yet to appear in a game, Walker Buehler only debuted Tuesday, and Julio Urías has been handled with kid gloves from the outset. What’s going on here?Meet the “slow play,” a strategy designed to combat the dreaded postseason hangover. Kershaw was legitimately hurt, but Buehler and Urías are pacing like marathoners with the end of another long race on the horizon. Injured list stints tend to peak in April, and one study calculated the rate is 34 percent higher for pitchers than position players. That’s probably why pitchers tend to get the “slow play” treatment more frequently.It cheapens the thrill of seeing the defending World Series participants when the Dodgers’ leader in Cactus League innings (Ross Stripling) didn’t even participate in the World Series. You might not remember this in six months. Maybe these teams are counting on it.2. CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENTSOne morning early in March, a group of nine Angels players headed to the outfield at Tempe Diablo Stadium with two oversized blankets. They split into two groups and tried to propel a large white ball from one blanket to the other. Sometimes you’ll hear players wax poetic about being able to “play a kid’s game for a living”; this was an elementary school drill performed by grown men, a strange sight. Such a thing would not have occurred under Mike Scioscia’s watch.In theory, a light, player-friendly moment like this might bond a team in a meaningful way. With a younger crop of managers leading the way, these moments are more common. Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Angels fail to take series in Oakland, lose in 10 innings center_img This list excludes the two-way players who did not receive invitations to their teams’ major league camps like Hunter Greene (Reds), William English (Angels), Bo Way (Angels) and Brendan McKay (Rays).5. GIZMOSMLB’s earliest adopters of ball-tracking technology like Rapsodo and Edgertronic might call these devices “so 2018.” For a time, these were considered trade secrets. Maybe it helped that two of the early adopters, the Astros and Dodgers, met in the 2017 World Series. In a copycat league, the secret’s out.This year it seems like an Edgertronic camera is behind every mound, and Rapsodo’s little black boxes in front of them – from bullpens to back fields to sim games. Rapsodos spit out data like spin rate, spin efficiency, gyro degree, vertical break and horizontal break. Edgertronic cameras capture what that looks like at 1,000 frames per second – “super slo-mo,” if you will.Not every pitcher is a data disciple, but it’s there for them if they want it. Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersAround him, the context has shifted dramatically. The Lakers proudly introduced him in June of 2016 as a young up-and-comer who would bring the elusive winning culture of the Warriors to Los Angeles and restore the struggling franchise to its former glory. Since then, the front office has been replaced, and only one of the players from that first season, Brandon Ingram, remains on a roster that is liable to turn over again this summer.Still, Walton soldiers on. Even without LeBron James, Ingram or any of the other young stars he’s spent much of his tenure grooming, Walton has remained one of the few constants at the bitter end of a disappointing Lakers season that fell brutally short of the expectations that they would be back in the playoff picture for the first time in six years.“We gotta just keep showing up and trying to get better at our jobs,” he said before a recent game in New Orleans. “And when this thing’s over, try to get prepped and try to make a run at it next year.”That “next year” part is seemingly up in the air: Walton’s job security, or lack thereof, is a common topic in NBA circles.A behind-closed-doors confrontation with team president Magic Johnson leaked just seven games into the season, and ever since there’s been wide speculation that Walton was on shaky ground despite endorsements from team owner Jeanie Buss. No one has reported that Walton will be fired after the season, but outlets such as the New York Times have said many expect he will be. Vegas is taking bets on who will coach the Lakers next season — Walton had the third-best odds in a list published last week. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions PreviousMany blame the front office (and a slew of injuries) more than Coach Luke Walton for the Lakers’ poor showing this season, but he’s still widely expected to be fired when it’s over. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)“It’s hurt us a lot,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the absence of Lonzo Ball, left. “He’s a big, versatile guard. He’s strong, he can guard multiple positions, and he’s what you need in today’s NBA, with spread offenses and pick-and-rolls and these guards who can shoot. He does a nice job navigating through all that, being the front line of our defense.” (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLakers head coach Luke Walton and associate head coach Brian Shaw discuss a play during the second half of Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton gestures from the sideline in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton on the sidelines during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton speaks with guard Rajon Rondo during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton, right, gestures toward referees as forward LeBron James runs by during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets Friday, March 22, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Nets won 111-106. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers coach Luke Walton and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope consult with each other during a pause in the action in the first half of Thursday’s game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 26: LeBron James #23 speaks with Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton during the second half of the game against the Washington Wizards at Staples Center on March 26, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James stands in front of head coach Luke Walton during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 124-106. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Lakers coach Luke Walton looks on during the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton talks with guard Isaac Bonga (17) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 12: Head coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers argues with a referee during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 12, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Lakers defeated the Bulls 123-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton gestures to players during the second half against of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nuccio DiNuzzo)Lakers coach Luke Walton acknowledged after Friday’s practice that he had a conversation with LeBron James, who has not missed the postseason in 14 years, described as “pretty open and easy” about keeping his minutes under tighter wraps for the rest of the season. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, left, and head coach Luke Walton look on from the sideline in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 21: Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers calls out of play during a 111-106 Laker win over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on February 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 02: Brandon Ingram #14 and Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during a 107-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on January 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 04: Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers calls in a play during a 119-112 New York Knicks win at Staples Center on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)Many blame the front office (and a slew of injuries) more than Coach Luke Walton for the Lakers’ poor showing this season, but he’s still widely expected to be fired when it’s over. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)“It’s hurt us a lot,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the absence of Lonzo Ball, left. “He’s a big, versatile guard. He’s strong, he can guard multiple positions, and he’s what you need in today’s NBA, with spread offenses and pick-and-rolls and these guards who can shoot. He does a nice job navigating through all that, being the front line of our defense.” (AP Photo/Ben Margot)NextShow Caption1 of 21“It’s hurt us a lot,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the absence of Lonzo Ball, left. “He’s a big, versatile guard. He’s strong, he can guard multiple positions, and he’s what you need in today’s NBA, with spread offenses and pick-and-rolls and these guards who can shoot. He does a nice job navigating through all that, being the front line of our defense.” (AP Photo/Ben Margot)ExpandLOS ANGELES — The indelible image stamped into Steph Curry’s mind is all those mornings in Oakland, in the midst of Golden State’s historic 73-win season, when Luke Walton walked into the practice facility dressed like a man who just rolled out of bed.Growing up in a family with a free-spirited attitude toward formal dress, Walton would wear an Oakland Athletics cap and sweatpants every day. The team would tease him playfully, but they appreciated what he was as an assistant-turned-interim head coach. There were no airs about him.“He knew what he was talking about and did his homework,” Curry said recently. “That was our experience. Had it been anything different, I’m sure we probably would’ve rolled our eyes a little bit, like, ‘He’s drinking the head coaching Kool-Aid.’ But he was just himself.”The A’s cap has changed (Walton is a bit of a mercenary to the sports teams of the markets he works in), but for the most part, Walton’s approach has not. Three years into his Lakers’ tenure, the 39-year-old is still a jeans-over-suit kind of guy, a low-profile presence despite his 6-foot-8 stature. He has a way of blending into the background: As his players chirp at each other during post-practice shooting competitions, it’s common for Walton to sit near the wall, leaning back with his legs crossed as he talks quietly with one of his players or assistants – or more commonly these days, a member of the training staff with a medical update. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers center_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Walton might just be having fun, too. He’s tried his best to shut himself off from the media speculation about his job security and taken refuge back in the game, the moment-to-moment joy of being on the sidelines.On Sunday night, as Caruso tried to rise above 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert for what would’ve been an epic poster dunk, Walton was one of the people who rose from the bench in electric anticipation, then sank back down to his seat with a smile, amused by the young guard’s audacity.It’s tempting to view Walton’s era with the Lakers in that lens: a young, ambitious coach who tried to tackle the impossible and came up short this season. But throughout his two decades through the organization as a player and a coach, he’s always known the awesome responsibility and burden of being a Laker, and what it means for the franchise to miss expectations.Even as Kerr stood up for his friend, saying that he “is born for this,” he acknowledged that Walton would bear the bottom line – that’s something that simply comes with the job.“It’s always tough to see friends in the league going through struggles like the Lakers have, but it’s also part of it,” he said. “We all know. I haven’t had to deal with it yet, but I will, where things go wrong, and you get a lot of heat and all that stuff. Circumstances come together, or don’t come together, depending on your point of view. But this is what we sign up for.” Was Walton ever in a position to succeed this year? Injuries took an undeniable toll: Of the Lakers’ top eight leaders in minutes, there will be 148 missed appearances due to injury, suspensions and rest (after the team’s playoff ambitions were shot). Trade machinations for Anthony Davis also damaged chemistry during a critical juncture of the season – an issue that perhaps coaching could help overcome, but whose roots were in the front office.Steve Kerr, one of Walton’s mentors who also counts him as “one of my best friends,” called Walton’s challenges this season a “pretty much impossible job” last week. But if Walton feels that way, he’s trying to push past it.“The thought comes into the mind, and then you gotta get it out as quickly as possible,” he said recently, reflecting on Kerr’s quote. “Because my job is to coach our team. If we’re going to preach and be a group that doesn’t want to use excuses, then we’re gonna have to live that.”Following the Lakers’ finale against Portland on Tuesday night at Staples Center, two tough stretches are likely to define Walton’s performance as coach this season: the 6-11 record when the Lakers were without James during his groin injury, and the 3-12 record the team accumulated after the All-Star break until their elimination on March 22. The Lakers failed to capture any sense of momentum in either period, winning back-to-back games only once.Walton said injuries prevented the coaching staff from finding consistent groups that worked well together, and they attempted at times to streamline the playbook in the hopes that simplicity would work better as they plugged holes in the lineups.While critics have tagged the front office for not going after enough shooting in free agency, some level of responsibility is liable to fall on coaches as the Lakers will wrap the season in the bottom third of NBA offenses (107.4 offensive rating) and 3-point shooting (33.3 percent). It’s notable that some of the returning reliable 3-point shooters from last season, including Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, had regressions – their long-range shooting dipping at least three percentage points each.But even the veterans have absolved Walton of at least some of that blame. In a recent sitdown on Spectrum SportsNet, James said Walton “played the hand as well as he did” given the injuries and uncertainty throughout the year. Rajon Rondo has been another vocal advocate in Walton’s corner, saying the coach did what he could control.While Curry’s Warriors pounded the short-handed Lakers on Thursday, Curry said from afar that he respected how Walton, despite the public speculation of his dismissal and the disappointment of the season, was handling himself through the march to the finish.“I think the way that he’s kept his presence on the sidelines from when I watch games and watch his body language on the side, they might not be winning games right now, but the team is playing hard,” he said. “They appreciate his consistency. Honestly wish the best for him in terms of the future because who knows what will happen, but he’s a great coach. Anybody (would) be lucky to have him leading a team.”Recently the composition of that team has changed again, and so has its spirit. Despite fielding a roster made up largely of G Leaguers and rookies, the Lakers have won six of their last nine.True to form, Walton is going with the flow. He’s said the group recently has been “fun to coach,” and with playoff ambitions fading away, so have agendas. He’s celebrated the feel-good stories of the late season, such as Alex Caruso and Jemerrio Jones, and pointed to their competitiveness as an example of the culture he’s always wanted to set since he’s arrived.“There’s always lessons to be learned,” he said. “That’s why we’re still going at it as hard as we are right now, even being out of the playoffs. And it’s good to see the type of edge that you need to play with. And whether you’re a young guy or you’re wherever you are in your career, if you’re watching it you can see, ‘OK, the team’s playing for each other. There’s no agenda going on. Look how hard everyone is playing and it’s leading to wins. Look how fun all of this looks.’ ”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more