“I am ambitious for this season and I am happy with the way things are going for me at the moment. We have started well and I want to make sure that this is a big year, a year in which Chelsea win titles.” Having been named in Mourinho’s starting XI for the opening four games, Oscar will be in the best position to achieve his ambitions over the course of the current campaign. The same could not be said for his Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata as the club’s player of the year for 2012/13 continues to struggle to find a place in Mourinho’s side. Having yet to make a start, it was expected the Spaniard could secure a move away from Stamford Bridge in the transfer window, with Arsenal and Paris St Germain reportedly interested in the 25-year-old. But he remains a Chelsea player and will continue to challenge the likes of Oscar for a place in Mourinho’s team as the returning boss looks to bring more silverware to west London. Former Internacional man Oscar is looking to build on an impressive first season in English football and believes he will benefit from the managerial prowess of Mourinho. “It’s been great to work with Jose Mourinho,” he told the club’s official magazine, Chelsea FC. “He is one of the best coaches in the world. We have seen he has already had a lot of success at Chelsea and I am just really happy to have the opportunity to work with him. “You can already see the influence he has had on us during the first few games and I hope the team will be able to continue to grow under him as I will also be able to grow as a player. “As early as pre-season we could see the belief with which he works. We could see the confidence he has with us as players but also the confidence within his own work. It is clear to us that he is a great coach.” Oscar, who is likely to feature in Brazil’s upcoming friendlies against Australia and Portugal, played in Chelsea’s 2-1 Europa League final success against Benfica at the end of last season and has the taste for more success this year, with personal targets also in place. “It’s all down to confidence,” he said. “I feel a lot more confident this year and I am sure that I am going to score a lot more goals. Chelsea midfielder Oscar has been quick to praise the work done by Jose Mourinho since the Portuguese returned to Stamford Bridge for a second spell in charge. The 21-year-old Brazil international has started all four of the Blues’ matches so far this season, scoring in their opening Barclays Premier League fixture at home to Hull. Mourinho has seemingly put his faith in Oscar despite signing the likes of Marco van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle and Willian, with Kevin De Bruyne also returning to the club after a spell out on loan. Press Association
Fresh off of an undefeated run in 2015 that culminated with the program’s first-ever AVCA National Championship, the No. 1-ranked beach volleyball team will be in a prime position to repeat its success and win it all once again in 2016.The upcoming season will mark the first year of beach volleyball being recognized as an official NCAA sport, in addition to becoming the first ever season of Pac-12 beach volleyball. After going 28-0 in 2015 and claiming the school’s 123rd national team title, the Women of Troy have been ranked preseason No. 1 by multiple media outlets, including the AVCA National Poll and by DiG Magazine.While the early expectations may loom large for the Women of Troy, fifth-year head coach Anna Collier will return some firepower in 10 letterwinners from last year’s squad. USC boasts a good mix of experience and fresh faces in their line up with the top three pairs being made up of upperclassmen — five of whom are juniors — while the four and five pairs consist of a freshman, a sophomore and two former transfers.“Interestingly enough, I actually think we have an even tighter-knit group than last year, and we’re also pretty deep,” Collier said. “I really think we’ve got the correct pairs playing together and ultimately in the correct order.”Among the returning players are junior All-Americans and reigning AVCA Pairs National Champions Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. In just their first season playing together collegiately, USC’s No. 1 duo went an impressive 44-3 overall in 2015 en route to becoming the third USC pair in a row to claim the pairs title.Now, the two will look to cement themselves as the best beach duo in the nation and make another big run together this season as the Women of Troy’s indisputable on-court leaders.Also returning will be the experienced pair of senior Alexa Strange and junior Sophie Bukovec. Last season, both were named AVCA All-Americans for the first time in their careers after going 33-10 overall at USC’s No. 2 position and will provide key leadership and stability in 2016. Juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler, who went 31-5 together at the four spot in 2015, move up one flight to stand at the No. 3 position this year, while sophomore Jenna Belton and freshman Abril Bustamante will suit up together in their place at No. 4. Rounding out the pairs will be sophomore Jo Kremer and graduate student Zoe Nightingale, debuting at the No. 5 position.With one AVCA national championship already under their belts, team captains Bukovec and Hughes are hoping their team can leave an imprint on this the inaugural season of NCAA beach volleyball.“Our main goal is ultimately to win the first ever NCAA National Championship, because this is the first official year as an NCAA sport,” Hughes said. “That’s really what our team is striving for.”However, the team knows that the road to the championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama, won’t be easy.“I think that because we are ranked No. 1, we have a pretty big target on our back,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be about us taking things one point at a time and one match at a time. Then, we’ll get to that ultimate goal of winning the national championship, which I really think we can achieve.”Bukovec also noted that the early pressures of being the No. 1-ranked team in the nation will be a challenge that the Women of Troy are up for.“Expectation goes hand in hand with pressure, and that’s something I think our team is really good at handling,” Bukovec said. “We’re just going to come out and use it as fuel for each and every match.”Collier was more frank in describing what her team needs to do in order to repeat as national champions.“Honestly, I think we’re going to have to play better than we did last year,” Collier said. “Everybody wants to win the first NCAA Championship, so everything is elevated. Every team that lines up on the opposite side of the net will play their best match against us, so we need to make sure that we not only know that, but also know that we’re still going to win in the end.”In addition to the star-studded roster, USC boasts an impressive coaching lineup as well. Collier herself is a former three-sport athlete and All-American at USC and has coached women’s beach volleyball teams in a pair of Olympics. Named AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2014, Collier has compiled a 74-15 record as USC’s first and only head coach. Also returning to the sidelines as volunteer assistant is former gold medalist and two-time beach volleyball Olympian Dain Blanton, while Ali Lamberson comes to Troy in her first year as assistant coach. Lamberson, formerly a volunteer assistant at Tulane, brings 25 years of experience as a player, coach and administrator and has worked with Collier for more than 20 years.With all of these factors put together, Collier thinks she has the recipe for success.“I’m expecting us to come out and play some good, solid, elite volleyball, which I always call ‘USC volleyball’ because it’s true — we are elite,” Collier said. “So, I think if we can just play USC volleyball, we’re going to be fine.”USC will begin their quest to win the first-ever NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship this weekend in Malibu for the Pepperdine Kick Off. The Women of Troy will face off against four of the nation’s top six ranked teams in this tournament, starting with No. 3-ranked Hawaii on Saturday at 10:15 a.m., followed by a match against host and No. 2-ranked Pepperdine at 12:45 p.m.
Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed BRADLEY BACK IN ACTIONAfter a few weeks of the vaunted “Avery Challenge” to get the Lakers’ defense back to the top of the league ratings, Frank Vogel smiled at the first stat sheet he’s seen in a month with Bradley’s name on it.“Shocking: Avery Bradley comes back and we hold a team under 90 points,” Vogel quipped. “He’s not all responsible for it, Avery. But getting his legs underneath him.”Indeed, Bradley, who scored just two points in 16 minutes off the bench, was a positive influence: The Lakers outscored the Magic by 12 during the minutes he played.It’s been a slow process of recovery for Bradley after a hairline fracture in his right leg sidelined him for 14 games. The Lakers only lost once without him, but their defense took a statistical backslide before Vogel attempted to reinvigorate them with the challenge in Bradley’s name.Related Articles Bradley had hoped to play more in his debut, but he said the coaching staff had been transparent pregame in their plans to bring him off the bench.“It was great being out there,” he said. “Wish I could’ve gotten more minutes, but it was nice to be out there with my teammates being able to battle again.”Vogel has dropped hints in recent weeks that Bradley, when fully healthy, should be the starting guard again in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has filled in reliably. Bradley himself said he was “extremely happy” for Caldwell-Pope, who started the season as embattled as anyone on the Lakers roster.The Lakers said Rajon Rondo was a game-time decision on Wednesday night, but they ended up sitting him with hamstring soreness in his left leg.“I think he was hopeful but just not ready yet,” Vogel said. “It’s early in the season. We’re not going to rush guys back, especially soft tissue injuries.” Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThere was some incredulity to the postgame discussion of Dudley’s ejection in the Lakers’ locker room. Howard called it “kind of bogus” that Dudley was tossed for a push and standing up for him against Wes Iwundu and Terrence Ross. Davis said he was surprised that the penalty was so severe.James asked: “That’s all it takes to get ejected? These days? Little shove?”But while the Lakers lauded Dudley for being “the muscle,” it was also the rare night in which Dudley was allowed to show a little more of his game. Before he was ejected with the double technical, he was enjoying a season-high nine points, all scored on 3-pointers.With Kyle Kuzma sidelined while nursing an injured ankle, the Lakers leaned on Dudley to produce off the bench. In that role too, he did his part.“My number’s eventually going to get called, it’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” he said. “I knew I wouldn’t have to play every day, I knew we have A.D. and Kuzma so I might play 40 or 50 games, but you know it’s a long season, people are going to miss games.” MIAMI — Every player has his role. Jared Dudley is here to get fined.Well, occasionally. The 34-year-old veteran said as much at the Lakers’ preseason media day, when he told reporters if any opponents had a flagrant foul on LeBron James or Anthony Davis, “It’s on, straight up. … That’s part of my job here.”Taking a double technical during a fourth-quarter scrap for Dwight Howard wasn’t exactly what he imagined at the outset, but Dudley (who is making the veteran’s minimum this season) knows the cardinal rule of an NBA rotation player: Know your role.“I’m not an enforcer but there’s certain times you’ve got to stick up,” Dudley said after the 96-87 win over Orlando. “Usually a lot of people don’t mess with LeBron and A.D. because of them being such high-quality players, so what I said on media day was more for them two, because they’re not here to get chippy stuff. It’s guys like me who try to hang around a couple more years.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error