Sunday, April 3, 2016

Early Look at the 2017 Draft-Eligible Midfielders

We are just over halfway through the 2016 campaign so I thought it would be appropriate to check in on some of the 2017 MLL draft prospects. Specifically, I want to look at this years draft-eligible midfield group.

Last season, I don’t think it was much of a question that Duke midfielder, Myles Jones, was the best midfielder and would be drafted #1 overall. Is Sergio Perkovic that guy this year? It is still early, and some things can change, but today I will take a look at my top 5 midfielders eligible for the 2017 MLL draft.

#1. Sergio Perkovic, Notre Dame
Although his scoring is slightly down so far this season, he is still the best midfielder in the country at the moment. At 6’4, 220 pounds, he possess elite size and is a force to be reckoned with. With the game on the line, you want the ball in his hands, and he doesn’t shy away. Take a look at his game-winner earlier this year in OT against Virginia.

#2. Jake Froccaro, Villanova
Froccaro is a player who can flat out score. He started his career at Princeton, had a 10 goal game his sophomore year vs. Yale, and then would miss last season due to injury. This year, he began fresh transferring to Villanova where, through 9 games, has 31 goals and 7 assists. That’s good for second in D1 in goals per game behind Brown’s Kylor Bellistri.

#3. Tyler Pace, Denver
Tyler Pace is a 6’0, 180 pound Canadian who has had quite the career with the Pioneers. 37 points as a freshman, 49 points (and a National Championship) as a sophomore last season, and is currently averaging a career-high 3.0 points per game, through 9 games. He’s well-coached, savvy, and could easily sneak into the 1st round.

#4. Zach Miller, Denver
Zach Miller spent his first two seasons at Denver playing attack. He’s made the transition to midfield this season and, while his numbers are slightly down, he’s a staple of that Pioneers offense. He’s a career 42% shooter, to date, and is also a member of the Iroquois national team.
Denver's Zach Miller is a crafty southpaw from The Hill Academy
#5. Zed Williams, Virginia
There are a few other names that you could throw in at #5 and make an argument for as a top 5 junior midfielder. I like Zed Williams. He was a highly touted recruit (ranked #4 by Inside Lacrosse) and broke the high school national records for total goals and total assists at Silver Creek in New York. He started to come into his own last year scoring 37 points and is being relied upon more this season. He’s still a bit raw but has the tools and the size to be successful at the next level.

Monday, December 21, 2015

UConn Football is Back

The Connecticut Huskies are going bowling for the first time since 2010 - when they faced off against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. This time around they’ll see a 9-3 Marshall team in a matchup in the St. Petersburg Bowl in Florida.
The Huskies were projected to finish in the basement of the AAC in multiple preseason polls and after a promising 2-0 start, they dropped to 3-5, and with ECU, Houston, and Temple still on the schedule, a bowl game didn’t look like it was in the picture. But if there’s one thing that stands out about UConn athletics, it’s that you can never count the Huskies out.
I have to give it to Bob Diaco. After finishing 2-10 in his first season with the team last year, and losing what looked to be the “QB of the future” in Casey Cochran (concussions), I thought that it could be another couple of years until UConn football would be competitive again.
From 2007-2010, UConn football went 33-19 finishing with at least 8 wins each season and reaching 4 straight bowl games. What stands out on those teams was UConn’s reliable defense. Those were teams led by dominant defensive players like Danny Lansanah, Scott Lutrus, Tyvon Branch, Darius Butler, Robert McClain, Lindsey Witten, Sio Moore, Dwayne Gratz, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, etc. Their defense always seemed to keep them in games, getting to the quarterback and making big plays, which was especially important considering they themselves never really had a great quarterback. During that same 4-year span, UConn quarterbacks threw just as many interceptions as touchdowns (45).
There are a lot of parallels that one can draw between this year's UConn team and those of the Randy Edsall era. And the best part is, UConn is returning a lot of firepower next season. I’ll start out with the defense. On the front 7, they’ll return Cole Ormsby, Folorunso Fatukasi, Junior Joseph, Cameron Stapleton, and Luke Carrezola. Carrezola and Fatukasi (both sophomore’s) lead the team with 12.5 combined sacks. This is an incredibly athletic group with a bunch of guys who can move around and play in different formations. Linebacker, Graham Stewart, will be a huge loss for this defense. The transfer from Florida is a ballhawk with a high motor who will most likely get a shot to play on Sunday’s. However, EJ Levenberry, is a transfer from Florida State who sat out this season but will be eligible to play next year and will be looked big upon to fill the shoes of Stewart.
Lindsey Witten (#9) led the Huskies with 11.5 sacks in 2009
In the secondary, the Huskies will lose safety Andrew Adams, who has 9 career interceptions. That loss will hurt just as much as Stewart, but cornerback, Jamar Summers, who’s currently tied for 5th in the nation with 5 interceptions, will be looked upon to become the staple of this secondary.

Bottom line: UConn’s defense is back
Offensively, sophomore quarterback, Bryant Shirreffs, was the big surprise. The NC State transfer fended off Timmy Boyle for the starting job. He tossed for 9 touchdowns but it was his ability to move around in the pocket (420 rush yards, 3 rush TD) that made him such a threat. Combine his running ability with the likes of Arkeel Newsome (1,500+ total yards, 8 total TD) and Ron Johnson (220 rush yards, 4 rush TD) and the Huskies had a formidable rushing attack. The real question coming into the year: who would the quarterback be throwing to? They graduated their top 2 receivers (Geremy Davis & Deshon Foxx) and prior to the season it was announced that starting TE, Sean McQuillan, had been arrested and removed from the football team. Enter Noel Thomas. The 6’1 junior emerged as The Shirreffs top target and reminds me of a young Marcus Easley...Sophomore’s Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom filled in for McQuillan and their NFL size (6’5, 250 & 6’6, 260, respectively) provided additional beef in the blocking game. Shirreffs, Newsome, Johnson, Thomas, Myers, and Bloom are all set to return next season.
Bottom line: UConn has an offense

UConn will return their trio of backs in 2016
The future looks bright and the Bob Diaco era is off to a promising start. Win or lose to Marshall in the St. Petersburg Bowl, there is no reason that UConn football can’t compete for an AAC championship in the near future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

General Electric Spins Off Synchrony Financial

On October 14th, the Federal Reserve announced that they had approved General Electric’s (GE) plan to spin off Synchrony Financial (SYF) as part of GE’s mission to reduce the size of their North American financial entity. On October 19th, General Electric officially announced an exchange offer to shareholders: to exchange their General Electric shares for those of Synchrony Financial, with that offer expiring on November 16th.
So what does this mean for General Electric shareholders? Do they take the offer or stay put?
Synchrony Financial has some serious appeal. Prior to their IPO, Synchrony Financial was a division of General Electric (formerly General Electric Capital Retail Finance) and was able to bring in nearly one-half of General Electric’s revenues. It was the third largest IPO of 2014 after raising roughly $2.88 billion in their initial public offering. In their first 15 months on the NYSE, Synchrony Financial’s stock has raised over $7/share (while GE has raised roughly $3.5/share over the same period).

General Electric’s (red line) and Synchrony Financial’s (blue line) stock growth dating back to Synchrony’s IPO in August of 2014 (click to enlarge)

All this sounds good, so why the split?
The financial division of GE ran into some distress during the monetary crisis a few years ago when it held some risky loans. Once Lehman Brothers collapsed, GE’s shares started to drop as the public grew concerned with GE’s financial division. It was at this point that General Electric set its sights on becoming less dependent on that area of the company, and the split is part of an ongoing effort to trim down that sector of its business.

If you’re someone who holds stock in GE, this exchange might be something to seriously consider. Despite the potential risk, there’s a lot of upside in Synchrony Financial. They are currently the largest provider of private-label credit cards in the U.S. (based on purchase volumes and receivables) -- a significant statistic as a Federal Reserve study found that the private-label credit card business has outpaced general-purpose credit card growth. Synchrony is also in the works of striking a deal with Apple to include their multi-purpose cards in Apple Pay.
While Synchrony doesn’t pay out a dividend, if management continues moving in the right direction, there could be some real value with SYF. Keep the offer’s expiration of November 16th in mind if you’re considering pursuing this opportunity!