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Last Week around the Leagues

by Fran Stuchbury
June 23, 2020 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL)

This past week the National Women's Soccer League's Orlando Pride announced that the club will withdraw its participation in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup due to positive COVID-19 tests among both players and staff, the Women's National Basketball Association announced teams would play 22 regular-season games followed by a traditional playoff format this season and the American Association and Northwoods League both announced they would play abbreviated baseball seasons. Highlights from this week are from Major League Soccer, the Women's National Basketball Association, NBA G League, American Association, Northwoods League and Major League Rugby.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League

The Orlando Pride announced that the Club will withdraw its participation in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup due to positive COVID-19 tests among both players and staff. Following the testing of players and staff, who were all asymptomatic, it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the health and safety of the players, the staff and the rest of the league that the Pride voluntarily withdraw.

The National Women's Soccer League announced CBS will air the opening match of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup between back-to-back champions North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC on June 27 at 10:30 a.m. MDT (12:30 p.m. EST). The game marks the first-time professional women's club soccer will be seen live on a national broadcast network in the United States. The CBS broadcast coverage of the opening match will also stream live on CBS All Access.

Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd will miss the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup after suffering a minor injury on her left knee. The midfielder from Delran, New Jersey, sustained the injury during the offseason and has been undergoing rehab since then.

Major League Soccer

In a crucial playoff game against DC United on Oct. 28, 2015, New England's Juan Agudelo hit this incredible bicycle kick goal while marked by two defenders.

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association

After significant discussions with the league's key stakeholders, including the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), the WNBA announced elements of plans to return to the court to begin the WNBA 2020 season. The league is finalizing a partnership that would make IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Official Home of the 2020 WNBA season highlighted by a competitive schedule of 22 regular-season games followed by a traditional playoff format.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks with Mike Greenberg on ESPN's SportsCenter Special: Return of Sports to discuss the league's plan to begin the 2020 season on July 24, featuring a 22-game regular season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Engelbert.

NBA G League

Delaware Blue Coats rookie center Christ Koumadje has been named the 2019-20 NBA G League Defensive Player of the Year, the NBA G League announced. He earned the honor in a vote by the league's 28 head coaches and general managers. Koumadje (7-4, 270, Florida State) led the NBA G League in blocked shots per game (4.0) and total blocks (133) to go with 11.3 points and 10.9 rebounds in 33 games. He ranked 10th in the NBA G League in defensive rebounds per game (7.1). On Feb. 1, Koumadje recorded a triple-double with 18 points, 20 rebounds and an NBA G League season-high 12 blocks in a 111-103 road victory over the Erie BayHawks.

Maine Red Claws guard Tremont Waters has been named the 2019-20 NBA G League Rookie of the Year, the NBA G League announced. Waters (5-10, 175, LSU), a two-way player with the Boston Celtics, averaged 18.0 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.89 steals in 36 games for Maine. He ranked sixth in the NBA G League in assists per game and 14th in steals per game.

Tremont Waters' Best Plays of the 2019-20 NBA G League Season

As the Memphis Grizzlies start to prepare for the presumed resumption of the NBA season, they're making an addition to their staff with a sixth assistant coach. The Grizzlies have hired Blake Ahearn, who leaves his spot as head coach of the Austin Spurs, the G-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs. With the Grizzlies, among other duties, Ahearn will participate in player development efforts, including shooting development.

BASEBALL

American Association

For weeks, sports talk show hosts and baseball fans all believed the perfect time to begin the 2020 baseball season was the Fourth of July Weekend. The holiday, the fireworks, and baseball have always gone together. Fans were looking for a glimmer of hope that the national pastime would return. The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball are providing that optimism with the unveiling of the six team, 60 game schedule that will begin play on July 3 in the hub cities of Fargo-Moorhead (ND/MN), Milwaukee (WI) and Sioux Falls (SD).

The Chicago Dogs will be playing out of Milwaukee, one of the league's three pod cities, with a limited number of fans in attendance. CBS 2's Matt Zahn talked to Dogs owner Shawn Hunter about what went into their plan.

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks announced that Jim Bennett has been released as the team's manager ahead of the 2020 season. Bennett, 54, went 63-37 in his only season with the RedHawks before losing to the St. Paul Saints (3-2) in the best-of-five 2019 American Association North Division Championship Series Playoffs, marking the first time the RedHawks made the playoffs since 2013. He was also named as the American Association Manager of the Year. Former RedHawks player and current bench coach Chris Coste has been named as the interim manager for the 2020 season.

Northwoods League

The Traverse City Pit Spitters, Kalamazoo Growlers and the Battle Creek Bombers in cooperation with the Northwoods League, announced today that baseball will be played in Traverse City, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek this summer. The league, "Michigan pod of the Northwoods League" for 2020, will consist of the North Division (Pit Spitters, Resorters, Dune Bears) and the South Division from the Kalamazoo area (Kalamazoo Growlers, Kalamazoo Mac Daddies, Battle Creek Bombers). The season concludes with a three-day playoff schedule on September 3rd, 4th and 5th to crown the champions of the Michigan pod of the Northwoods League.

Northwoods League announces limited baseball season. Baseball is coming back in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

Atlantic League

The Sugar Land Skeeters today announced that former Major League All-Star and University of Texas great Greg Swindell will manage one of the four teams in the upcoming professional baseball league to be played at Constellation Field. Swindell joins the father-son duo of Roger and Koby Clemens as well as Pete Incaviglia as managers in the league that will consist of a total of 56 games played from July 3-Aug. 23. An announcement on the fourth manager for the league is forthcoming.

Texas Collegiate League

The Texas Collegiate League announced that Brazos Valley Bombers Head Coach, Brian Nelson, will begin his new duties as the League Commissioner effective immediately. James Dillard, the Associate Head Coach of the Bombers will step into the role as Head Coach of Brazos Valley for the upcoming 2020 season.

OTHER SPORTS

Major League Rugby

On June 13, 2020 history was made with the first ever professional rugby Draft. Over 400 prospects applied from across the U.S. with the hopes of being selected by a Major League Rugby team. Rewatch the full MLR Draft show below, and scroll down to meet the 24 Draft picks from the inaugural MLR Collegiate Draft.

Interview with first pick in the inaugural Major League Rugby Draft, the Dallas Jackals Conner Mooneyham from Life University.

Rugby ATL's top five tries from the 2020 season.

World TeamTennis

World TeamTennis has added several prominent tennis stars to an already jam-packed lineup of roster players set to compete during the 45th season, taking place at The Greenbrier "America's Resort" in West Virginia. American star Frances Tiafoe, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, three-time Grand Slam doubles champion Jack Sock and two former Wimbledon singles finalists from Canada - Milos Raonic and Genie Bouchard - will all play this season, joining previously announced players such as reigning Australian Open singles champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens and Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan, tennis' all-time winningest doubles team. In addition, six-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters will join U.S. Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish playing for the New York Empire in 2020.

LACROSSE

Major League Lacrosse

The Chesapeake Bayhawks have officially re-signed attackman Lyle Thompson for the 2020 season. The 2019 MLL league MVP will be back, ready to defend the Bayhawks' title in the upcoming season. In his five years in the league, Thompson has wasted little time in cementing himself among the elite ranks of the sport's history. The sharpshooter finished the 2019 season leading the league in points (81) and goals (51) with an astounding 66% shots on goal percentage.

The Denver Outlaws have officially re-signed attackman John Grant Jr. for the 2020 MLL season. The fourteen-year veteran will be chasing his sixth MLL Championship. Grant Jr. began his MLL career in the league's inaugural season with the Rochester Rattlers in 2001. He scored 41 goals in 2001, en route to being named MLL's Offensive Player of the Year. In 2007 and 2008, Grant Jr was named MLL MVP and MLL Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 91 goals combined in the two seasons. In 2016, Grant and the Machine lost to the Denver Outlaws in the MLL Championship Game, in what was supposed to be Jr's last career game. In February of the following year he retired as a five-time MLL Champion. At the time of his retirement, Grant Jr. was top five in goals and points in MLL history.

HOCKEY

ECHL

The Greenville Swamp Rabbits are excited to announce that Andrew Lord has been named head coach of the team, effective immediately. Lord, 35, joins the organization from the Cardiff Devils of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the United Kingdom, where he has spent the last six seasons as head coach of the organization.

Federal Prospects Hockey League

Anthony Bohn is the new bench boss of the Danbury Hat Tricks. Bohn comes to Danbury via the Maine Mariners, ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, where he was an assistant coach for two seasons. Prior to joining the Mariners, Bohn was an assistant coach for the Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL for two seasons. He joined Aberdeen after a three-year stint as head coach and general manager of the NA3HL's Topeka (later Atlanta) Capitals.

North American Hockey League

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the membership application for an NAHL team in El Paso, Texas. The El Paso Rhinos will compete in the South Division beginning in the 2021-22 season and play out of the El Paso County Events Center.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

The Saint John Sea Dogs have named former NHL forward and coach Greg Gilbert as their new Head Coach. Gilbert, a former 3-time Stanley Cup champion as a player, has 20 years of Head Coaching experience, including 189 games coached in the NHL with the Calgary Flames. Gilbert began the 2000-2001 season with the Flames as an Assistant before taking over Head Coach duties.

Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.


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Major League Lacrosse Stories from June 23, 2020


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