I don’t want to belabor the point, but once again will mention this is the first ever Yadam Seven 7′s, a special list prepared for your reading enjoyment where 7 contributors will unleash a cascade of 7 lists of what they believe best exemplifies 2012. Now we’ll delve into the fourth topic: Sports team of the year.
Lehigh and Norfolk State
By Adam Bross
There was a time when the Gods of the basketball world hid the shadows as two heroes had emerged and suddenly conquered two of their own. Stumbling through the archways of college basketball’s Olympus stood Lehigh and Norfolk State; forever joined arm-in-arm as the two greatest upset stories of March Madness. Point to #8 Villanova conquering the juggernaut Georgetown in the Finals, or 1991, 1993, 1997, or 2001 when fifteens also defeated two seeds; however, the two upsets from 2012 shined a different light on the college basketball world. The victories signaled how the disparity in talent between the traditionally powerful schools (such as Duke) or the highly touted teams (such as 2012 Missouri) and the mid-major conference teams is not nearly as vast as the past. When the world thinks back to the 2012 basketball tournament; it may remember Anthony Davis and Kentucky’s domination, but it’s unlikely. The true AMERICAN storyline was the no-name, no-chance schools defeating a couple of favorites to win the whole shebang. The Gods of the college basketball have peaked around from behind the hiding spots they inhabited last April, but the memories of the colossal defeats of Duke and Missouri boil freshly in the minds of college basketball’s Olympians. Lehigh and Norfolk State…the great invaders of college basketball Olympus and the epitome of the American underdog…who knew?
United States’ Men’s Basketball
By Cameron Conrad
Roster: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Andre Iguodola, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams. The USA Men’s Basketball Team roster has undoubtedly the three best players in the world in Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. It has three of the best point guards in the world in Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams. And although the level of talent in terms of post play is not as strong as in other positions, this team is chock full of NBA all-stars. I don’t think anyone ever doubted that this was the best team in the world before, during, or after the Olympics. Anymore the USA Men’s Basketball Team is just expected to win gold. Only three other countries have ever won the gold medal in basketball before, and the USA has an all-time record of 122-5 in the Olympics. It’s never really a question of whether they should win gold, but more of a question of how much they’ll completely slaughter their opponents or whether there is any possibility that they could play shitty enough to lose. The team finished the 2012 Olympics with an 8-0 record and defeated its opponents by an average of 32 points. The team set a single game record for points when it scored 156 points against Nigeria in the preliminary round (the US scored more than twice as many points as Nigeria). The team defeated Spain in the Olympic final, 107-100 in a close game. Winning the gold medal was doubtful at points in the tournament (the US narrowly defeated Lithuania and led Spain by only 1 point after three quarters in the final), but the team executed and secured its place as the world’s best basketball team.
United States’ Women’s Gymnastics
By Vince Kampel
Born: December 31, 1995
Born: December 9, 1995
Born: May 25, 1994
Born: October 24, 1996
Born: July 12, 1995
Those birthdays are listed above for a reason. What makes the 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team truly amazing to me is the fact that I am older than all of the young women listed above. These five teenage girls, in case you’ve been living under a rock, dominated their competition and brought home plenty of hardware for the USA during the 2012 London Olympics. Aly Raisman won gold in floor and bronze in beam, Gabby Douglas won gold in all-around, and Mckayla Maroney won silver in vault, although seemingly unimpressed with her accolade. In addition, the team brought home the gold for the team competition by a comfortable margin.
Although their accomplishments clearly speak for themselves, the team went on to become a national phenomenon. In a history making performance, Gabby Douglas became the first woman of “color” and the first black gymnast in Olympic history to be an individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. McKayla Maroney became an internet meme sensation; even President Obama got in on the fun. They were heralded with every honor and praise imaginable, and deservedly so.
In all seriousness, I have the utmost respect for these five young ladies. To go out and to compete for one’s country at a world stage in the Olympics is something I find very honorable, and they handled the pressure with grace, poise, and experience beyond their years. For me, there aren’t many more inspiring images than seeing an American on top of the podium. The look in the eyes of a gold medalist as our national anthem plays on is indescribable: the look of countless hours of practice and hard work coming to ultimate fruition. Truly remarkable.
If you haven’t heard much of the girls’ incredible stories, I encourage you to invest your time in doing some reading. My little tribute does not nearly do their stories justice.
The Miami Heat
By Jack Marcheschi
In 2012, there was one team in all professional sports that overcame pressure that would completely shatter the self-esteem and confidence any other squad. This team finally lived up to their incredible hype and unprecedented potential. This team, led by my pick for Athlete of the year for 2012, LeBron James, is the Miami Heat. My beloved Heatles finished 46-20 last year, before the playoffs began. They didn’t even have the best record in their division, let alone their conference. As we all know, its not how you start, its how you finish; and, believe me, the heat finished strong. Looking in the face of adversity, being down by two games in the Eastern Conference Semis, as well as the Finals, they found ways to win. That’s the mark of a true championship team. Its how many times you can get hit, pick yourself, and keep on going. Behind the play of their three superstar players LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh,(yes, Chris Bosh is an NBA superstar. Easily one of the top ten most underrated players in the game.) the Heat took th thunder down in the Finals 4-1. Finally, living up to what they promised to do, what they were destined to do, The Heat won an NBA championship. Even though they are only one-seventh of the way, according to LeBron’s promise, the next decade is going to be great for The Miami Heat, and their fans.
The Cincinnati Reds
By Matthew Murphy
In my opinion, the Cincinnati Reds should be considered for both the best and worst sports teams of 2012. On one hand, they brought hope to a beleaguered baseball town, but at the same time, they brought heartbreak. The Reds started the season red-hot and were the first team to clinch a spot in the 2012 postseason. As a team, the Reds were a force to be reckoned with, and individually, the Reds had players being considered for all of the following awards: MVP (Votto), Cy Young (Cueto, Chapman), Rookie of the Year (Todd Frazier), Comeback Player of the Year (Ryan Ludwick), and Manager of the Year (Dusty Baker). Reds’ fans were legitimately speaking with hopes of winning the World Series. The Reds took a quick 2-0 lead against the Giants in their first playoff match. Fountain Square was poised for celebration as the Reds looked to sweep the series at home. Fans were hopeful. Game 3…loss. Game 4…loss. Game 5…loss. The Reds were the first team to pull off such an ignominious feat, and such was the heartbreak of Cincinnati. The streamers of Fountain Square were taken down, party hats were stored for next year, and the hopes of Cincinnati were left unfulfilled. This is how the season ended for the best and worst sports team of 2012. But as it goes, the Reds (as has become their motto) always have next year. Hopefully they will come out with a vengeance, so I can write about them next year solely for being the best sports team of 2013.
Notre Dame Football
By Zac Reid
Notre Dame Football. Some people hear that phrase and are filled with pride. Others are filled with disappointment, and finally a few others are filled with contempt. Regardless of your feelings on this football team, it’s undeniably that The University of Notre Dame has helped transform college football into the great pastime it is today. In the past couple of decades, however, this great team suffered a pretty drastic fallout. This school was beginning to lose its appeal and stature as a top-tier football program, despite their 11 national titles, 7 Heisman winners, and 97 All-Americans. This 2012 season really brought back that spark that we Fighting Irish fans have been waiting for. Brian Kelly took this failing program under Charlie Weis (See image here) and turned them into a Number 1 ranked, undefeated team. Some people question the validity of Notre Dame’s 2012 prestige, but the everyone in the sports world agreed that they had the hardest schedule in all of college football, and they were the only team(that was a possible bowl contender) to finish the year undefeated. This should say enough for them, but other than their record, Manti Teo represented all that is the 2012 season. He won the Maxwell for best college football player, and he was the runner up for the Heisman despite being a defensive player. It was his presence and leadership on the field more-so than his stats that really do justice to his talent as a football player. Manti Teo and his fighting Irish showed the world that Notre Dame is once again ready to have the status of a top tier football team. Notre Dame plays Alabama on the 7th, attempting to once and for all quell the doubts from all nonbelievers in the Irish. While Vegas odds have Alabama as the definite projected winner, I wouldn’t be so quick to count Notre Dame out. I do believe this is the year of the Irish.
Penn State Wrestling
By Ted Schoen
In March, the Nittany Lions will be seeking a three-peat at the NCAA Wrestling Championship. Potentially on the verge of becoming a wrestling dynasty, Penn State has shown that they are the team to beat. They have started off the 2012-2013 season going 4-0 in dual meets and have just recently won the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, which included teams of #2 Oklahoma State and #3 Minnesota. Unlike football, this year the Big Ten is dominant in wrestling, as they currently hold 4 of the top 6 teams in the nation. Penn State will have to overcome some tough competition this year to defend their top spot.
The team is very solid up and down the lineup with a strong possibility of qualifying all 10 weight classes for nationals this year; however, 7 of their wrestlers stand out with the ability to place high at the tournament. David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth 15-0 (184) are currently seeking to defend their individual titles from last year, while Nico Megaludis (125), Andrew Alton (149), Dylan Alton (157), Matt Brown (174), and Quentin Wright (197) are all ranked top 5 at their weight. It will be interesting to see how the team continues to compete over the next few months. While Penn State still has a long way to go before they rival Dan Gable and his Iowa Hawkeyes two stretches of nine consecutive NCAA titles, this team looks to have the right tools to continue their success.
Most people who don’t have some connection to wrestling probably could care less about anything that deals with the sport. While that’s unfortunate, I would encourage everyone to watch some of the Big Ten Tournament or NCAA Championships in 2013 to witness some of the best college athletes compete in a spectacular sport, and to watch if Penn State continues to be dominant.