All posts by roderickdiamond2020

Good Things Come in Threes at the Big East Tournament

By Roderick Diamond II
Medill Reports

For the third consecutive year, DePaul University hosted the Big East Conference women’s basketball tournament at Wintrust Arena  March 6-9.

The prize, as usual, a tournament championship and an automatic pass to the NCAA Women’s Tournament. DePaul would be attempting their first three-peat in tournament history.

Day 1
The tournament kicked off with 8 seed Providence College and 9 seed Georgetown University battling for the opportunity to play 1 seed DePaul in the quarterfinals. The game played to a close finish from beginning to end. Providence held the lead for 37 minutes and didn’t look back after securing a 49-46 win against Georgetown.

Alyssa Geary was the leading scorer for Providence  with 15 points and a career high with six blocked shots. Taylor Barnes of Georgetown had a game high of 25 points. But it wasn’t enough to propel the Hoyas over the Friars.  Providence won the battle in the paint with 20 points and outscored Georgetown’s bench with 19 points.

“I think that coach tests  a lot, and tells us to let the ball come to you,” Geary said. ” I really didn’t try to block anything and the ball just came into my hands and I knew what I needed to do.”

The following match-up between 10 seed Xavier College and 7 seed Villanova University went past regulation time for an extra 5 minutes to decide who faced 2 seed Marquette University. The game only had two lead changes and was tied  9 times. But with their tournament lives on the line,  Xavier’s Aaliyah Dunham took the battle  into overtime with a buzz-beating three.

Teammates celebrate after Aaliyah Dunham sends the game into OT. (Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)

The only overtime game of the weekend, the Villanova Wildcats outscored the Musketeers 15-7 in OT. Junior point guard Raven James played a nearly perfect game from beyond the arc, going 6 for 7.  Overtime play secured the win for the Wildcats. James led the game in points with 20 points and teammate Mary Gedaka added 19 points.

“Through the whole game I just knew  where the sweet spot was for me and that was the right side of the wing”, James said. “My teammates found me in the spots where I like to shoot it and they just keep telling to shoot the ball and I was ready.”

Day 2
Four games were slated for Saturday as the quarterfinals were set.  DePaul started the tournament defense against Providence to lead off the day. So began DePaul’s dominance throughout the tournament.

DePaul shot for over 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc with 15 threes made. The Blue Demons outscored the Friars every quarter and scored 97 points to their opponents 59. The star of this matchup was Deja Church with her performance of 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

Forward Chante Stonewall chipped in with 16 points as well and Dee Bekelja added 14 points off the bench as a sixth woman punch for DePaul.

“Its been 15 days since we won a game and honestly this feels good for us,” Church said. “But win or lose, we are excited to get back in the gym and work.”

The next matchup posted a similar result between Seton Hall and Butler University. They both ended the regular season facing off and Seton Hall won 66-53. The teams had similar records and the winner  faced DePaul  on Sunday.

From the beginning of the tip to the final buzzer, Seton Hall commanded the game and took it to a 83-57 rout of the Butler Bulldogs.  The Seton Hall Pirates had four players grab double-digit  points and the game nearly tripled Butler’s bench performance with 21 points. Seton Hall also scored 16 threes and finished the game with 50 percent from the three point line.

Alexis Lewis of Seton Hall finished with a team high of 20 points. Her teammate Shadeen Samuels had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman Lauren Park-Lane also 17 points herself to contribute to the cause.

“Our girls earned this win tonight and we are excited to be in the final four of the Big East and we look forward to competing against a great team tonight,” said Coach Tony Bozzella.

(L to R) Seaton Hall Pirates Lauren Park-Lane, Alexis Lewis and head coach Tony Bozzella address media after game. (Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)

Marquette and Villanova faced off later that evening for a spot in the semifinals. Marquette, as the second seed, proved why the Gold Eagles are  one of the top teams in the Big East. The last time the players met, Villanova got the W on their schedule, winning 61-47.

As the blowouts continued that night, Marquette delivered a a 72-59 win against Villanova. Marquette dominated the paint and that was one of the major keys to their victory – 36 points in the paint and 19 points from the free-throw line for Marquette.

Isabelle Spingola (30) commands the ball against Cameron Onken (0). (Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)

Selena Lott filled up the stat sheet for her team with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals.

Lott also owned the free-throw line with 11 of her 17 points coming from there. Jordyn King added 14 points and Lauren Van Kleunen scored 12 points to aid in the win.

“I thought our team was able to keep our composure when Villanova continued to make different runs throughout the game,” said Coach Megan Duffy. “I just said can’t tell how proud I am of this overall group for making individual plays whether it was on the defensive end or offensive end to get this win tonight.”

The nightcap concluded with Creighton University versus St.John’s University. The winner in this game  faced Marquette in the semifinals. The Red Storm had battled against the Bluejays on Valentine’s Day and won 77-70.

Creighton hit the court with the Big East Player of the Year Jaylyn Agnew but it wasn’t enough to move on as they fell to St. John’s 70-54.  Creighton did capture a 15-point lead heading into the second quarter but everything changed as St. John’s fought back with a 25-10 second quarter that brought the score to 30-30 at the half. Momentum was on the Red Storm’s side the rest of the way.

Big East Player of Year Jaylyn Agnew (5) tries to  inbound the ball against Leilani Correa (2). (Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)

Freshman Leilani Correa led the team in points and rebounds off the bench with her 27 points and 11 rebound double-double. Correa and Kadaja Bailey, who had 8 points, composed all of St. John’s 35 bench points.  St. John’s also created 21 points off turnovers.

“Once I started shooting more and my teammates looking for me more, I became the hot hand,” Correa said. “Then everything started to go in, but it wasn’t just me everyone was playing hard, and when the adrenaline is going  you just make shoots and layups.”

Day 3
The semi-finals were set with the top 4 seed teams all advanced to the third day of the Women’s Big East Tournament.  The defending champs started the day against Seton Hall and the winner advanced to the finals. The last time Seton Hall played in the finals was in 1995 when the Pirates faced former Big East member Connecticut College.

In a hard fought game for the entire 40 minutes, DePaul edged out Seton Hall  83-80. DePaul led the way for the majority of the game but Seton Hall continued to fight back. The Pirates destroyed the paint with 52 points under the basket, but the Blue Demons continued to scorch the outside 14 three pointers.

DePaul Head Coach Doug Bruno speaks to media after semifinal game. (Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)

Sophomore Lexi Held finished the game with a team high 22 points and added two steals. But DePaul played by committee and had Stonewall with 18 points and added 16 points from Kelly Campbell. One of the closer games of the tournament but DePaul advanced to their 4th straight Big East final.

“I am just proud of our players starting to grasp and understand what postseason basketball is all about,” said DePaul Coach Doug Bruno. “Its about one possession and just battling and executing the little things.”

The following matchup between Marquette and St.John’s ended the day. The winner landed the rights to play DePaul in the championship game on Monday. Marquette has been in the last three championship games and St. John’s made a finals appearance last in 2016.

Marquette controlled the game for the entire 40 minutes. They held the lead for nearly 39 minutes. They out rebounded the St. John’s 41-25 and dominated the paint with 52 points. Along with that Marquette beat out the Red Storm in second chance and fast break points.

The game crowned Selena Lott and Isabelle Spingola from Marquette as the stars. Spingola recorded a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Selena Lott created another stellar performance with 18 points and Marquette pulled out a confident win 78-55.

“Its a very excited locker room to be coming back tomorrow to play for a championship,” Coach Duffy said.

Day 4

Inside the DePaul Blue Demons huddle during a timeout. (Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)

The final matchup set DePaul against Marquette and marked the fourth consecutive time the teams met in the finals.

The close first quarter ended in an 18-17 score but the Blue Demons pulled away as the game went on. DePaul won their third consecutive tournament championship. Once again their three point shooting dominated in every game and couldn’t be stopped.

Most Outstanding Player Lexi Held in the post game conference. (Roderick Diamond II/Medill)

Lexi Held proved herself as the tournament’s most outstanding player, and rightfully so. She scored a tournament high of 31 points to cap off her tournament performance. Senior Chante Stonewall ended her Big East tournament career with 22 points and a third ring.

“Its mean a lot [on winning most outstanding player], but I really couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Held said. “We worked really hard for this, its feels good to win and it feels good that I got the award but I really couldn’t have done it without my team and my coach.”

The Blue Demons set a Big East tournament record with 43 made threes throughout the weekend.  This is DePaul University’s fifth tournament title and the three-peat is the longest winning streak since the Connecticut Huskies repeated win for 5 years straight between 2008 to 2012.

Photo at top: DePaul Blue Demons celebrate mid court under a cloud of confetti after winning their third straight Big East Tournament. (Roderick Diamond II/Medill)

Super Tuesday bar hopping finds Bernie stalwarts

By Roderick Diamond
Medill Reports

Bars across Chicago filled with Democratic presidential candidate supporters watching Super Tuesday primary results from 14 states. For stalwarts who felt the “Bern,” Burke’s bar in Edgewater Public House and the Teal Room in Roger Parks hosted events by Bernie Sanders’ campaign groups in those communities.

The biggest winners of Super Tuesday were former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  Biden finished the night with 610 delegates after winning the state primaries in Texas, Virginia, Alabama,  North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Maine,  and Massachusetts. Sanders collected 513 delegates with only 4 states – his home state of Vermont, Colorado, Utah and California.

California saved Bernie, ultimately delivering 210 of the state’s 415 delegates to keep him in the race.  Many of Bernie’s supporters remained optimistic, with six states including Michigan up for grabs in the March 10 primaries and Illinois, Florida, Arizona and Ohio holding primaries on March 17.

“I thinks its remarkable Sanders is doing as well as he is considering how the rest of the party and candidates dislike him,” said supporter Eric Schuster. ” I think its interesting that Sanders’ strength is not based on the amount of money he has collected but the amount of people that support him and the small donations that he has collected. I think it is really telling where particularly  young adults are thinking and feeling right now.”

“We have events that are more work-oriented but its nice to watch the results in a communal setting,” said Roger Parks organizer Kathleen Dillion.

Burke’s Public House In Edgewater hosted for the Edgewater for Bernie Sanders organization on Super Tuesday. It was just one of the many bars that hosted a Super Tuesday watch party and one of the many that hosted Sanders supporters. (Roderick Diamond II/Medill)
Jenna Rawski, a Bernie supporter at Burke’s Public House, works in healthcare and aligns her views with the idea of affordable health care for all. (Roderick Diamond II/Medill)
Patrons enjoyed rounds of beverages at the bars, with Sanders supporters staying upbeat even as the evening wore on in Biden’s increasing favor.
(Roderick Diamond II/ Medill)
Kathleen Dillion, a Rogers Park organizers for Bernie Sanders, wears buttons depicting different Sanders campaign slogans. (Roderick Diamond/Medill)
Photo at top: Jenna Rawski, a Bernie Sanders supporter at Burke’s Public House, works in healthcare and aligns her views with the idea of affordable health care for all. (Roderick Diamond II/Medill)

Black history trivia night celebrates Chicago HBCUs

By Roderick Diamond II
Medill Reports

Chicago’s black history boasts famous personalities such as the late comedian Dick Gregory, founder of the Chicago Defender Robert Abbott and Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, who launched the DuSable Museum of African American History. The list goes on, but the city also has deep roots with alumni communities of historically black colleges and universities.

Some are from Howard University in Washington D.C., Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, all in Atlanta, and Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida gathered at Bar 22, on South Michigan Avenue for their annual black history trivia night Thursday.

The players celebrated  with drinks, fellowship and a fun game of trivia for competing alumni teams. After several questions per round, team representatives lined up to give their answers to judges who tallied points. A funny disagreement broke out over the correct spelling of the holiday Juneteenth.

A man whispered, “That’s not how you spell Juneteenth,” looking at her version showing Junetenth.

The women responded with a laugh, “Yes it is, I thought you could say June 10th?”

Originally called Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery when the news finally reached slaves in Texas in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. That was one of the questions asked by the judges on trivia night.

The questions challenged teams’ knowledge of well-known black history facts and in depth Chicago black history. Bragging rights and a monetary award was on the line with alums of all ages participating.

Continue reading

‘The Game Changers’ movie may be a lifesaver

By Roderick Diamond II
Medill Reports

In a world where food affects so many aspects of life and the planet, what difference can a meat-free diet make?

The current Netflix film “The Game Changers” debunks myths, research and misconceptions presented about such diets. Dr. Terry Mason, COO of the Cook County Department of Public Health, drove home these points during his talk before the recent screening at DePaul University’s Center for Animal Law and  Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter. Continue reading

All-Star Weekend brings together star professionals from finance, law to support diversity

By Roderick Diamond II
Medill Reports

In addition to the big name athletes and  celebrities, All-Star Weekend brought Chicago high-profile African American professionals from the business end of sports, finance and other fields to a Friday brunch and panel.

The event, “A Conversation on the Convergence of Black Athletes, Advisors and Sports Professionals,” brought together Chicago Bear Director of Play Engagement Lamar Campbell, certified player agent Jelani Floyd, sports attorney Luke Fedlam, private wealth manager Myah Moore Irick and CNBC sports business reporter Jabari Young as panel mdoerator. All spoke of the challenges they face in a multi-billion industry along with the challenges black athletes face with their mindset of money

Luke Fedlam (right) speaks before presenting Jaia Thomas (middle) with a trailblazer award. Myah Irick (left)

The event was hosted by Jaia Thomas, founder of Diverse Representation, in collaboration with Porter Wright and Merrill Lynch at Taste 222 in the West Loop area.

Thomas, who is a sports and entertainment lawyer, said the event had a two-fold purpose. One involved creating the space where black professionals in the sports industry are able to network with each other. Another provided a platform for black agents, financial advisors and attorneys to speak on their experiences working with athletes. The also discussed the challenges of gaining more diversity in the professional space.

“During NBA All-Star Weekend, a lot of athletes are here and a lot of their reps are here – attorneys, managers. So it is really the biggest event of the year with regards to basketball,” Thomas said. “It’s important to have this event during this time because everyone is here at the same place and it’s the only time out of the year where all the agents, managers and athletes are in one space. So it’s the best time to grab everyone in to have these conversations.”

Panelists spoke on the importance of increasing black representation for black athletes in the sports world and for black people in general. Sharing the right financial information for these athletes and financial literacy that starts in high school are critical. Panelist Lamar Campbell, who is the Director of Player Development for the Chicago Bears, discussed the significance of having these converging conversations on an academic level.

“We need to meet in the middle,” said Campbell; “ When you are in the process of developing a free-thinking black male, you first have to steer him away from what’s ‘hot’, or ‘How do I get this bag.’”

Those distractions known to plague players careers mentally and financially are only part of the problem. The other is bridging the gap of putting more black faces in front offices instead of in uniforms. That is the goal of Thomas’s organization Diverse Representation.

“I love moderating and talking about things to help empower black people and helping us in sports,” Young said.

Young moderated the panel and said he understood how important it was for him to be there.

“I talk to athletes all the time, and I learned how to talk to them about aligning themselves with more black people of different professions,” Young said. “Also [there’s] the networking part of it and meeting different faces, so if an athlete says, ‘I am looking for somebody,’ it helps expand that network.”

At the end of the event, Thomas was awarded a trailblazer award by Luke Fedlam of the Porter Wright law firm, with offices in Chicago. Thomas said that being an audience member she learned how much the sports landscape is changing and the challenges advisers and athletes face.

This event helped begin the conversation of black growth, stability and longevity in the sports industry on and off the field.

Photo at top: NBA Agent Jelani Floyd speaking to the audience during the panel. (Roderick Diamond II/MEDILL)



By Roderick Diamond II
Medill Reports

Louisiana State University Tigers celebrated a glorious victory against the Clemson Tigers in the 2020 College Football Playoff finale in New Orleans Jan. 13.

Though the university is in Baton Rouge, a good 80-mile drive from New Orleans, that didn’t stop the LSU community from rejoicing. People and places all over the country were celebrating the Tigers fourth national championship in football.

It’s to the point where fellow Chicagoans joined in on the festivities on a chilly Monday night. Over 900 miles from New Orleans, the Standard Bar and Grill in Wicker Park bleeds purple and gold yearlong. The LSU-themed bar filled with fans who showed their support the night of the game.

Kayla Howard, a law student at DePaul, was one of the many people inside Standard Bar and Grill Monday night.

“ I’m from North Carolina but it’s fun and my friend’s sister goes to LSU for grad school and that’s how I found out about it,” Howard said. Continue reading