Former national technical director for football, Vin Blaine, said Jamaica’s Under-17 Reggae Girlz showed character and grit to beat hosts Haiti 2-1 and lift the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Championship on Sunday.A goal in each half from Shayla Smart (third minute) and Jody Brown (67th minute) led the Jamaicans to the title triumph.Jamaica, Haiti and third-place Trinidad and Tobago advanced to the CONCACAF Championship, where the top-three finishers will qualify for the 2016 World Cup in Jordan.Blaine, who as head coach led the Reggae Girlz to many CFU victories in the past, noted that the players had very little time to gel.”They (Jamaica) came against a Haiti team that was the favourite based on performance, and it was really a gritty performance. The players don’t know each other much. Most of them have never played for Jamaica before, and some came in two days before the finals,” he said.training needed”So for them to gel in a manner that they could overcome a Haitian team that has been together means there is some character to this team … and after the disappointment of the senior team, this is what the programme needed,” he added.Haiti’s goal was scored by the tournament’s top scorer, Nerilia Mondesir, in the 71th minute.Blaine believes if they are to qualify for the World Cup next year, the Girlz need training camps and matches against top-level teams.”What we’ve lacked in the past has been long-term training sessions and international games. International games will acclimatise us to situations. We need to play top teams, even if it is not international teams,” he said.”If we can find a top-club team in Canada or the US, we would get the same characteristics as the players you would play against – same movement, same discipline – it’s just for us to get the experience to play against these girls.”But at this level, we are more competitive than at the senior level, so if the coaches get these girls some games, they should be competitive. They just need more exposure,” Blaine reasoned.”They came through the struggle but gave a good fight to become champions, and that should encourage them to try and go further,” he added.
Among Kawhi Leonard’s many, varied talents is something relatively new this season: Without much warning, and in addition to his stellar defense and rebounding, the Spurs forward has become one of the most devastating 3-point shooters in the league.Leonard currently ranks second among qualified players in 3-point accuracy, having knocked down a ridiculous 48.4 percent of his threes. Before this season, his career high had been 37.9 percent (on 2.8 threes per game) and his high for attempts per game was 3.0; this year, he’s taking 3.8 per game and shattering his career numbers. Merely putting a shooting threat of that magnitude on the floor can dramatically grease the wheels of offensive efficiency: Since 1997-98,1The year the league moved the 3-point line back to its current distance of 23 feet, 9 inches. teams whose regular lineups featured a guy hitting at least 45 percent of his threes scored 2.7 more points per 100 possessions than their peers. But Leonard is more than just a long-distance sniper.On top of his range, he also rates among the league’s best defenders (his +3.4 defensive Box Plus/Minus is in the 97th percentile of NBA players) and scorers (95th percentile in points per 36 minutes), with above-average rebounding (69th percentile in rebound rate) and passing (57th percentile in assist rate) thrown in for good measure. Leonard’s all-around excellence this season has placed him squarely in the mix with Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James for the mantle of NBA’s Best Player™.As my colleague Ben Morris wrote last month, Curry has emerged as the face of the 3-point revolution sweeping across the league in recent seasons. Along those lines, you might also expect that Leonard is ushering in a new era of great shooters who also excel in other facets of the game — a sort of apex predator among the 3-and-D genus. But Leonard doesn’t symbolize some broader trend threatening to transform basketball, primarily because he’s far too unusual for anyone in today’s NBA to measure up.The typical sharpshooter at the level of Leonard this season is, and always has been, limited in other areas. Going back to ’97-98 again, the average top-five-ranked shooter by 3-point percentage profiles as follows: a highly efficient scorer2Practically by definition, given the shooting percentage required. and solid passer who’s also in the bottom half of NBA players in usage rate, the bottom third in defensive BPM and close to the bottom quarter in rebound rate. So, by and large, these are not all-around dynamos — they’re in the game to shoot the lights out, and maybe do a little ball handling. Anything else is gravy, but outside the job description. We should note that this profile isn’t really trending in a different direction over time. Leonard’s compatriots atop the 3-point percentage leaderboard this season are J.J. Redick, Omri Casspi and Jared Dudley — a trio not exactly known for superb all-around skills. Even Curry, who ranks fifth (absurdly, on more than twice as many 3-point attempts as anyone else in the same neighborhood accuracy-wise) is merely an OK rebounder and defender relative to the league. That Leonard rates so well in non-shooting categories is basically unheard of for a marksman of his caliber.Well, unless you consider Larry Bird. In 1984-85, Bird hit 42.7 percent of his treys (good for second in basketball — and remember, the league shot 28.2 percent back then) while ranking in the 87th percentile in scoring efficiency, the 96th percentile in usage, the 87th percentile in assist rate, the 83rd percentile in rebound rate and the 94th percentile in defensive BPM. Maybe that defensive number is a bit of a stretch, the residue of estimated statistics in a pre-SportVU era, but Bird was also better defensively than he sometimes gets credit for. In any case, among top-five-ranked 3-point shooters in a season, Bird’s 1979-80, ’84-85 and ’85-86 seasons are the only ones remotely comparable to Leonard’s 2015-16 in terms of all-around versatility. Nobody else comes close.That doesn’t mean Leonard is a perfect analogue for Bird, but it does underscore the rarity of his talent and the infrequency with which a world-class shooting stroke is packaged alongside other elite basketball skills. Perhaps most tantalizing of all, Leonard is only 24; he still has time to get even better.Read more: The Spurs’ Bench Could Probably Make The Playoffs On Its Own
2 min read January 18, 2016 This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Enroll Now for Free WhatsApp has scrapped the 99 cent annual fee that users paid to retain the service after one year of free use in favor of a new monetization model.Starting now, the messaging app “will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from,” according to a blog post. “That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.”This smacks of a similar strategy being forged for Facebook Messenger, which recently allowed shoppers to sign up for updates, receive receipts and shipping information and interact directly with brands via the app. Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp for $22 billion in October 2014, also recently integrated Uber ride-hailing within Messenger.Whatsapp said it would abandon subscription fees because many of its nearly 1 billion users across the globe “don’t have a debit or credit card number.” It will take “several weeks” to remove the fees from all of its different versions, according to the company.Related: Report: Google Is Building a ‘Smart’ Mobile-Messaging App to Rival Facebook MessengerWhile WhatsApp has long vowed to remain ad free (a notion that came under question following the Facebook acquisition) and reiterated its commitment to steering clear of third-party ads and spam in its recent announcement, the company’s latest move could ultimately pave the way for a Facebook-like advertising model.On an earnings call last year, notes Re/code — which was first to report the subscription cancellation — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the monetization approach to WhatsApp and Messenger would mirror Facebook’s own approach to News Feed ads in 2006 and 2007.Rather than focusing on banner ads, Zuckerberg said, the company built Pages to get as many businesses as possible onto the network, knowing that “the ads and monetization would perform better if there was an organic interaction between people using the product and businesses.”Related: This New Startup Wants to Be Your WhatsApp for Professional Networking Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now