SAITAMA, Japan — Luka Doncic is only a 22-year-old Olympic rookie, a player who might still be a few years away from his best basketball.
Sergio Hernandez doesn’t need to wait.
“For me, I said this two years ago: He is the best player in the world, including the NBA,” Argentina’s coach said. “And if there was any doubt in my mind, there is no doubt anymore. He is the best player in the world.”
Hard to argue after Doncic’s performance Monday at the Saitama Super Arena.
Doncic made a spectacular Olympic debut with 48 points, tied for the second-highest total in men’s basketball history, to lead Slovenia to a 118-100 victory.
In Slovenia’s first Olympic game ever, Doncic scored 31 points in the first half, putting him on pace to break the Games’ scoring record of 55 points by Brazilian Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt in 1988.
Though he didn’t have to do as much in the second half with Slovenia’s huge lead, the superstar guard for the Dallas Mavericks stayed on the floor well into the fourth quarter and ended up tied with Eddie Palubinskas, who had 48 for Australia in the 1976 Games in Montreal.
There was still enough time left to break the record when Doncic checked out with a few minutes left, but he wasn’t interested in pursuing more points.
“I don’t care about records,” he said. “We got a win and that’s what we came here for.”
His teammates wanted both.
“Everybody was telling him on the bench, ‘OK, let’s get the record,'” veteran Zoran Dragic said.
“But that’s not the case. The case is to win the game. He knows that, and it’s crazy that he’s only 22 years old.”
Slovenia didn’t even have a spot in the Olympics until earlier this month but is a medal threat thanks to Doncic, who had a historic first postseason in the NBA and might just do the same in the Olympics.
Luis Scola scored 23 points for Argentina. Facando Campazzo of the Denver Nuggets added 21.
The opening day of play in Group C started with Luka against Luis, the phenom against the 41-year-old veteran who was beginning his record-tying fifth Olympics in men’s basketball.
But it was quickly clear Doncic would be the star of this show with 15 points before the game was five minutes old.
“He was too good obviously,” Scola said. “I mean, he was unbelievable.”
Casually launching his step-back 3-pointers from well behind the international 3-point arc – one came from just inside the TOKYO 2020 logo at center court – Doncic shot from places where Argentina just couldn’t come out to defend.
When they tried, he just took his game inside, getting consecutive baskets on follow shots in the second quarter on his way to 11 rebounds.
That came during a 23-8 finish to the half for Slovenia, extending a 39-34 lead to 62-42 at the break.
Manu Ginobili was impressed, the Argentine idol tweeting at halftime that Doncic was “a beast” and praising his “tremendous mastery of the game.”
Doncic had already shown he had that playing in Europe even before going on to win Rookie of the Year honors in the NBA. In his second season, he became the first NBA player to average 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in his first postseason series.
His first Olympics might be even better than that.
Slovenia has been a country on the rise, winning the EuroBasket title in 2017 and then qualifying for Tokyo by winning one of the Olympic qualifying touraments earlier this month. The Slovenians knocked off host Lithuania in the final after Doncic went right to playing for his country after the Mavericks were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
Argentina, the 2004 Olympic champions, were thought to be past their years of challenging for titles when Ginobili and some other stars from that era called it a career.
But Scola is still here and the Argentines showed they’re not done just yet when they made a surprise run to the gold-medal game two years ago in the Basketball World Cup, losing to Spain but not until after clinching their spot in the Olympics.
Spain is also in Group C along with host Japan, but even those games shouldn’t be any tougher than playing against Doncic.
“We tried everything that we would have tried against a normal player,” Hernandez said, “but he’s not a normal player.”
DIII safety 1st woman non-kicker to play in NCAA
Haley Van Voorhis, a safety at Division-III Shenandoah University, became the first woman non-kicker to appear in an NCAA football game on Saturday against Juniata.
She came on in the first quarter and registered a quarterback hurry on third down.
A 5-foot-6, 145-pound junior, Van Voorhis spent the past two seasons playing on junior varsity. The Plains, Virginia, native went to high school at Christchurch and was 2019 All-State Honorable Mention. Her senior season was cancelled because of COVID-19.
Van Voorhis is also a member of Shenandoah’s track and field team, running sprints.
In 2014, defensive back Shelby Osborne became the first woman non-kicker to participate in an NAIA program at Campbellsville University. However, she did not appear in a game.
Multiple women have played kicking positions in college football. In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A football game as the placekicker at New Mexico. Seventeen years later, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 football game as the kicker for Vanderbilt.
In an interview with ESPN in 2021, Van Voorhis said she’s used to people pointing out that she’s the only girl playing football, whether it was during Pop Warner or high school.
“There’s definitely people out there who see the story and think, ‘This girl’s going to get hurt,'” she said. “I hear that a lot. Or, ‘She’s too small, doesn’t weigh enough, not tall enough.’ But I’m not the shortest on my team, and I’m not the lightest.”
Shenandoah coach Scott Yoder told ESPN in 2021 that Van Voorhis is “very determined” young person.
“What has really helped me has been when you peel everything back it’s about a young person who wants an opportunity, who works for it and has earned an opportunity,” he said. “For 21 years I’ve been fortunate to be on the coaching side of that. And at the core of this, it’s no different.”
No. 4 FSU snaps 7-game skid vs. Clemson in OT
CLEMSON, S.C. — Jordan Travis threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Keon Coleman to start overtime and No. 4 Florida State completed a second-half comeback to defeat Clemson 31-24 on Saturday and snap a seven-game losing streak against the Tigers.
Travis also threw for another TD and ran for a score for the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had not beaten Clemson (2-2, 0-2) since an overtime victory in 2014.
Clemson had a chance to take a late lead, but Jonathan Weitz, a graduate student who left the team before the season only to return after the Tigers had issues in the kicking game, but his 29-yard try with under two minutes left was wide left.
Instead, the game went to OT and Travis, who was 21 of 37 for 289 yards, lofted a pass that Coleman caught in stride and hushed the raucous Death Valley crowd on the first extra possession.
Clemson couldn’t get a first down on its possession when Klubnik’s fourth-and-2 pass sailed wide of the target and Florida State’s players ran to celebrate on the field where they hadn’t won since 2013.
Clemson had lost only twice in 10 years at Death Valley since the Seminoles and quarterback Jameis Winston’s memorable 51-14 beatdown of the Tigers in 2013.
And Florida State struggled to find space much of the first half and had only 21 yards with less than 8 minutes left before the half. That’s when Travis and his talented corps of playmakers found their groove.
Travis directed a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives in the final 5 minutes, the first ending when Coleman was left alone a step inside the goal line for a 7-yard scoring catch.
After Clemson answered quickly with a TD drive of its own, Travis went 4-of-4 for 67 yards and finished with a 2-yard touchdown run to get within 17-14.
Clemson started No. 9 in the preseason rankings, slid down and eventually out of the poll after a 28-7 loss in Week 1 to unranked Duke. Three weeks of hearing their season was over obviously rankled the defending ACC champions and the Tigers had their most effective offensive showing this season.
Weitz, who had been Clemson’s backup kicker for four seasons got a call from coach Dabo Swinney at his home in Charleston, asking him to rejoin the team. Weitz was working on a graduate degree online.
He got the Tigers’ scoring started with a 30-yard field goal. He had made just three extra points in his four seasons with the team before pursuing a job in finance.
Florida State: The Seminoles overcame perhaps their biggest ACC hurdle to supplant Clemson as the league heavyweight. If Florida State can continue to show the grit it displayed in raucous Death Valley, it will be a strong bet to be playing for its first ACC crown since 2014.
Clemson: The Tigers needed a win to get themselves back in the ACC and College Football Playoff chase. Instead, they’ve got two losses in September for the second time in three seasons and will need conference chaos for any chance to play for a league title.
Florida State has a week off, then starts a three-game homestand with Virginia Tech on Oct. 7.
Clemson travels to Syracuse on Saturday.
Utah QB Rising not making 2023 debut vs. UCLA
Rising took part in warmups but was in street clothes for the start of the game. Rising, who has yet to play this season, was given clearance to practice without limitation in early September and was given positive reports by coach Kyle Whittingham this week about how he looked in practice.
Johnson led Utah’s comeback win at Baylor two weeks ago, scoring the tying touchdown on a 7-yard fourth-quarter run. That performance led to Whittingham making the switch between the backups, and Johnson started and played well in a 31-7 victory over Weber State last week.
A 6-foot-1, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback with unusual speed for the position, Johnson threw for 193 yards against Weber State. On the season, he has three rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Johnson has completed 68.8% of his passes, as he had a significant role as a change-of-pace quarterback in Utah’s first two games before becoming the starter.
Rising has led Utah to back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and his status has been one of the biggest questions hanging over the sport this month. Whittingham has told reporters that the medical clearance on Rising’s return isn’t up to the Utah medical staff.
Rising’s ACL was repaired by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and earlier in the month, Whittingham told the Deseret News of ElAttrache: “The ultimate guy that says thumbs-up, thumbs-down for playing, and right now we don’t have that thumbs-up.”
Rising is one of the most accomplished players in the sport, as he threw for 3,034 yards with 26 touchdown passes last season before the injury in the Rose Bowl. With Rising under center, Utah has registered back-to-back 10-win seasons. Utah is 3-0 without him this year and plays UCLA in a battle of undefeated teams.
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