The Missouri women’s basketball team could be losing one of its young stars, as a team spokesperson confirmed Friday that freshman point guard Akira Levy will be entering her name into the transfer portal.
The 5-foot-8 Baxter, Tennessee, product can still return to MU, but her decision to look at other options is not the best news for Robin Pingeton and the Tigers. Levy is the fourth Missouri player to enter the transfer portal this season, following sophomores Kelsey Winfrey and Emmanuelle Tahane and fellow freshman Grace Berg.
Levy averaged 4.8 points, 2.1 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game with the Tigers during her true freshman season, and she was quickly becoming one of Missouri’s top options off the bench until the Feb. 24 game against Auburn, when she left the fourth quarter after suffering a knee injury. It was later confirmed that Levy tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her right knee, ending her season less than two weeks before the start of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Levy’s loss clearly hurt the Tigers in the postseason, as they lost to top-seeded Mississippi State — the team Levy scored eight second half points against in a Feb. 14 win — in the semifinal of the SEC Tournament. Missouri was then bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 32 by Iowa.
After the season, Levy was one of three Tigers to receive SEC honors, being named to the All-SEC freshman team while seniors Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter made the All-SEC first team and received the SEC Sixth Woman of the Year award, respectively. Levy was expected to help replace the production of Cunningham, Porter and Lauren Aldridge as their Missouri careers came to an end as well step into the primary ball-handler role after recovering from her injuries, but that may no longer be the case.
Whether Levy does transfer or not, she will have undoubtedly left a strong impression in Columbia.
It started with her commitment on April 27, 2018. As a four-star recruit and the No. 67 player in the nation, Levy was seen as a key piece that would help lead the program after the end of the Sophie Cunningham-era.
She started meeting those expectations with strong performances throughout her rookie campaign. Outside of her second half output versus Mississippi State, she dropped a career-high 14 points during the Braggin’ Rights matchup with Illinois on Dec. 21 and put up 11 points, three assists, five rebounds and two steals in a season-high 31 minutes against Missouri State on Nov. 13.
That’s not to mention the memories she’s left off the court as well, including singing with country music star Kenny Chesney during his concert on May 2 at Mizzou Arena and performing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys prior to Mizzou Madness on Oct. 20.
If Levy chooses to leave, Pingeton will be without the explosive point guard the program had lacked in recent years and a future leader for a team riding one of its most successful runs in school history. Now, only time will tell if Levy returns to Columbia or decides to head elsewhere.
Carol and Carl Howell, international shuffleboard champions from Macon, Missouri, participated in Saturday’s Senior Games at the Armory Sports Center downtown.
The couple won their first game Saturday morning 25-12. They said they knew they would take home the gold, in part, because they were the only competitors in the 75-79 age category.
The Howells began their shuffleboard careers when they retired more than 30 years ago. They stuck with the game through the years, in part, they say, because it’s a game anyone can play no matter their physical ability.
“I have never been able to play anything but shuffleboard, because of my physical conditions,” Carl said.
Carl was inducted into the National Shuffleboard Association’s Hall of Fame in 2015 and said he loves teaching people the ins and outs of the sport.
The Howells split their time between their home in Apache, Arizona and Mackin.
They play in both communities, but say the strategies are different everywhere based on the type of courts used.
“There is no two boards alike anywhere,” Carl said.
Shuffleboard has taken Carl and Carol around the United States and the world. The Howells say the rules of shuffleboard are practically the same everywhere, but with the smooth indoor courts of California to the fast-paced outdoor cement courts of Florida, every game is unique.
“When we played in Australia, we played on the rooftop of one of the hotels and it (the puck) would hit a bump and go flying,” Carol said.
The couple said they hope to spend the summer continuing to teach their friends in Mackin how to play their favorite sport.
“It’s a nice way to spend time together and keep your skills up,” Carol said.
ST. LOUIS — Patrick Maroon doesn’t want to go there. Not even about how the St. Louis Blues handle the roller coaster of inconsistent officiating.
“I’m not talking about it,” the usually talkative Maroon said. “If you want to talk about Game 6, I’ll talk about Game 6.”
Except the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins are so tight that Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final is absolutely in danger of hinging on officiating. It might not necessarily be a missed call like the one that helped the Blues win Game 5 and put them on the verge of winning the Cup — it could simply be how much leeway the referees give the Blues and Bruins in the next chapter of what has been a series of big hits and more than a little animosity.
“It’s tough to say,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “It’s important for our team to just deal with it.”
Berube and Boston coach Bruce Cassidy have voiced their displeasure to the referees at various points, which is no surprise given this has been the postseason of officiating mishaps. Changes are very likely coming to video review and how the NHL handles these situations moving forward, but none of that will affect the Blues and Bruins on Sunday night, when the Stanley Cup could get wheeled onto the ice for a celebration or put on a plane back to Boston for Game 7.
“We’re going to focus on playing the game,” Berube said. “It goes both ways. There’s calls either way that could be made, and some are made and some aren’t made.”
It has gone every which way. Vegas was on the wrong end of an incorrect major penalty that contributed to losing Game 7 to San Jose in the first round; the Blues lost to the Sharks in overtime in Game 3 of the Western Conference final on a missed hand pass violation and St. Louis benefited from a stunning non-call on Tyler Bozak tripping Noel Acciari in Game 5 against Boston.
Even before the missed tripping call, Game 5 alone was a study in how fast the game has gotten and how even the best referees in the world miss what should be obvious penalties. Blues forward Ivan Barbashev’s illegal check to the head of Bruins forward Marcus Johansson wasn’t penalized that night, though it drew a suspension for Game 6, and St. Louis’ Zach Sanford got an elbow up on Boston’s Torey Krug that went uncalled.
“You’re going to get calls where you like them or you don’t like them, throughout the whole playoffs if not throughout the whole season, so you don’t really worry about the officiating,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said Saturday. “It’s just wasting energy. Those guys are the best at what they do. They have a tough job. So I don’t think you worry about calls going your way or against you.”
There have been enough gaffes in all four rounds that no team can reasonably think the officials are biased against them. Mistakes happen, of course, even if that doesn’t make it sting any less after a blown call contributes to a loss.
A frustrated Cassidy declared after Game 5 that “The National Hockey League’s getting a black-eye with their officiating in these playoffs.”
It’s enough of an issue that Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed it in his annual state of the league speech prior to Game 1. He said expanded video review will be a topic of discussion this offseason with input from general managers, the competition committee and the Officials Association.
“No one should doubt that we want to get it right,” Bettman said May 27. “This is not an excuse. We’re not whining about it. It’s simply a recognition of a challenge which we will address sensibly, appropriately and in the best interest of the game.”
It’s too late for Vegas, but it’s not too late for Boston to overcome a missed call like St. Louis did with the hand pass. Just don’t expect it to be used outwardly as a rallying cry.
“It’s not going to be brought up in the locker room,” Cassidy said. “Our play should define us, not a call. It will be part of the message.”
Knowing what it’s like to bounce back from feeling as if they were cheated out of a victory could help the Blues understand the Bruins’ psychology. But mostly they expect their opponent to go all out to avoid elimination and keep the series going.
“I think the big motivation for them has got to be they’re down 3-2,” Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. “Regardless of the call or not, we won the game and they’re going to come in here being down. I think they’re going to be a desperate team. They have to be. That’s what we expect. They’re going to come out full blast, and we’ve just got to be expecting that.”