As the gym cleared out Sunday night at Christian Brother’s Academy, another weekend series came to a close. Fans filed out, Players from both teams walked silently to the locker room and the lights dimmed on the Albany Legends home court. But as the weekend capped a series sweep by the Legends over the visiting Oregon Waves it also highlighted something else. A progression.
Emanuel Mayben started off his 2011 campaign with the Albany Legends in a state of flux. As the team struggled in it’s first few games to find it’s identity, no one player seemed to be in flux more than Mayben. An obviously gifted player with a bevy of skills that can instantly improve any roster in the IBL. But a player that seemed more concerned with proving his offensive dominance than letting the game come to him.
The Legends opened the season with a weekend series against the Kankakee Soldiers. Although the Legends won the weekend series 2-1 the one glaring absence was not only a 3rd win in that series, but the diminished playing time of Mayben.
Was this a message by Coach Ben Smith? Was this an attempt to right the ship with Mayben?
The answers to those questions are locked behind the doors in the Legends locker room and perhaps only Coach Ben Smith and Mayben know the answer. But now matter the reasoning, “the benching” had an effect.
While most players today would have sulked and become disgruntled, Mayben emerged with new focus. He emerged with a determination to make the changes himself.
There was never a question about Mayben’s scoring ability. But in the first few games of the season one could easily question his shot selection. As the Gary Splash came into town last weekend for a 3 game set Mayben started his progression. A mere two weeks after his benching Mayben showed a clear effort in moving the ball. He let his natural court vision take over. His shot selection improved, his control of the offense became more calm and Mayben started to shake off the early season frustrations.
Although the Legends weekend series record did not change (They went 2-1 against the Splash) there certainly was a bounty of change that was evident in that series. Mayben’s assists were up, shooting percentage improved and most of all he seemed to be becoming more comfortable with the offense and his role in it.
It was never a doubt in Coach Ben Smith’s mind that Mayben had the tools to be special. “Immediately from the get go he had the best vision with the ball in his hands. Tiki can do everything as a point guard. He’s going to be the one to give up the ball more often than not as opposed to trying to score”
With the faith of his Head Coach and plenty of Legends fans as well, Tiki built on a promising showing against the Gary Splash when the Oregon Waves came into town.
Mayben’s jersey says #8 on the back but there was a different #8 in uniform against the Waves. A player that we saw breaking through in the Splash series. A player no longer finding his way on the court but letting his natural ability take over without forcing or rushing it.
A few weeks ago we would have seen a frustrated Mayben forcing up shots and trying too hard to create something on the court. Not anymore.
In each game of the series Mayben let the offense flow, his shots come to him and involved other Legends unselfishly. In a league where players dream of the “next level” and many of which play in a manner that can at times be “me first”, Mayben showed professionalism, maturity and above all clear “Next Level” Talent.
“It seems like every game my teammates ask more of me and want me to bring more to the table” Mayben said. “They see how I can facilitate and set the offense up for everyone else. It felt good to let it go a little bit”.
Moving forward Mayben plans to continue to evolve and give the Legends what they need from him to win. He also understands the journey he has taken this season. “In the beginning I was coming off the bench to provide scoring. When Coach switched the lineup and gave me the starts so I could be the facilitator. I always feel like I can get mine when I wanted it, so scoring for me is not an issue.”
As far as the rest of the season goes Mayben admits he still has work to do. “I want to cut down on the turnovers. I’m not taking as many chances as I used to but I realize that sometimes I see things before my teammates do. So instead of trying to thread the needle so much I have to become more efficient”.
As the Legends continue their journey in the 2011 season it’s assured that there will be many trials and tribulations. Frustrations and growth. But as the journey continues we can count on one constant from here on out. Tiki Mayben may not flood the highlight reels on a nightly basis and he may not take over the League Leaders in scoring. But Tiki Mayben will be evolving into a true Floor General every game.
In a league of talented scorers and stat fillers, Mayben shows us that unique talent such as his is the true definition of “Elite Play” and as the old saying goes “the stuff Legends are made of”.
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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23
Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.
“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”
Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.
Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”
Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl
A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.
Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic , As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.
The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.
In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”. Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?
I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.
Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.
An Agency Changing the Sponsorship Game for Athletes
The following is an official press release from Eight Seven Media
Sponsorships and endorsements have changed significantly over the past few years. Historically, we know them as mainstream commercials and endorsements by top apparel and shoe brands with professional athletes and celebrities at the forefront. Until recently, the huge rise of influencer marketing has changed brands perspective and they have gravitated towards using social media stars as their advocates. Influencers are compensated with hundreds of thousands of dollars and brands have turned away from the traditional celebrity or professional athlete. Eight Seven Media is looking to turn that model on its head and bring sponsorship dollars back to professional athletes.
Founded by Dylan Scance and Derek Flodmand, Eight Seven Media creates social media content for professional athletes. Working on the talent buying side, they noticed that brands were only picking talent based on either their audience or their content. When they would pitch athletes to certain brands, they knew they were a perfect fit for the brand from a personality and lifestyle perspective, but the athletes had a tough time getting deals from brands. Aside from the lack of resources these agencies provided, the number one reason was their lack of content. Most athletes understand that having a social media presence is crucial in today’s market, but they don’t necessarily understand exactly how to leverage their channels to their maximum potential.
We’ve outlined Eight Seven’s process below:
Step 1: Identification
Along with a data-backed strategy, their team works hand-in-hand with both the athlete and agent to understand what types of brands they are interested in partnering with.
Step 2: Content Creation
Their team then works directly with the athlete to create rich, bespoke lifestyle social media content, specific to the verticals they have identified. They will meet directly with the athlete to bring this content to life.
Step 3: Amplification
As the athlete pushes out bespoke content via their social channels, their team leverages a specialized software called Social Ads to amplify top-performing content to target audience(s) based on the verticals we have identified. This provides the athlete with increased reach and exposure within the right audience segments- thus increasing their potential value to identified brands.
Step 4: Reporting
Via the Social Ads software, their team provides intuitive reporting on content performance, inclusive of demographic and geographic data which highlights the extended audience that has been exposed to the athlete’s content.
Athletes are a perfect fit for brands for many reasons. They have a highly engaged audience that’s not filled with bot accounts (something that’s been plaguing the influencer industry for years). They are inspirational, motivational, and have overcome many challenges and hardships in life that inspire generations of fans. They are the perfect example of a true “influencer”, but they are still getting overlooked for sponsorship deals.
Eight Seven Media also offers their “Athlete Incubator”, a service where they work with newly signed athletes that are being developed by agents and teams and completely rebrand their social channels out of college. These athletes go through a 12-month process with Eight Seven where they advise them on best practices for their social channels, how to create and leverage high-quality content on their own, what brands look for from a social media perspective, and how to engage with their audience. Along with content creation, Eight Seven Media provides its clients with an analysis of how well their athletes social channels are performing.
The content being created is leveraged by agents when they’re pitching an athlete for sponsorships or endorsements. With the huge rise in lifestyle and fashion brands, non-traditional endorsements are something that’s taking the industry by storm. Kyle Kuzma signing with the GOAT app is a perfect example of how optimizing your content to fit the brands you want to work with pays off in the long-term. Brands not only want to partner with athletes that they can trust to produce high-quality content, but they want to ensure that this can be pushed out to their brands owned and operated social channels by repurposing these assets.
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