The key to Bourama Sidibe’s rim protecting: Catching pigeons

first_img Published on December 3, 2017 at 9:15 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 Facebook Twitter Google+ Bourama Sidibe has the art of catching birds down pat. He locates a pigeon and makes a hard jab step, which usually scares the bird. When it opens up its wing to fly away, Sidibe makes his move. He pounces to snatch the bird in midair with his outstretched arms. He cuffs it.“When he did it for the first time, we all said, ‘Wow,’” said Sidibe’s coach in Spain, Santi Lopez. “His technique is incredible. He knows the right moment to catch the bird on the fly. It’s really difficult, but I saw it several times. He never missed.”Sidibe, a 6-foot-10 Syracuse freshman originally from Mali in Africa, brings a physical presence to the SU frontcourt, the Orange’s most unproven area. In just more than 18 minutes per game, he averages 4.6 rebounds and just more than one block per game for the Orange (6-1). His ability to alter shots and rebound, despite his thin, 205-pound frame, is rooted not only in basketball training, but in his experience catching birds. Not just any birds, either. Specifically, pigeons.Sidibe said he caught them for years, though he could not pinpoint exactly when he started. It was sometime before he turned 13, back home in Mali, where he grew up. Pigeons are common in North Africa, and Sidibe began catching them near his house to keep them as pets. He said he had a separate birdhouse for them. By that time, he was already taller than 6 feet and quick with his feet. That was important, he said, because adult pigeons are about 35 centimeters (13.78 inches) long, have 70-centimeter (27.56 inch) wingspans and can fly at average speeds up to 77.6 miles per hour, according to the Pigeon Control Resource Center.“When they’re about to take off, I get close to them,” Sidibe said. “Maybe a couple of feet from them. I let them fly up and then I catch them.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlexandra Moreo | Photo EditorSidibe said he doesn’t know how many pigeons he has caught.“A lot,” he said.The last bird Sidibe caught was a couple of years ago in North Jersey. While walking to get a haircut near St. Benedict’s High School, where former SU first-round NBA Draft pick Tyler Ennis graduated, Sidibe spotted one on the side of the road. He told a teammate he would grab it for fun, then release it.“My friend said, ‘Oh no you can’t,’” Sidibe recalled. “Then I caught it.”Lopez, who lived with Sidibe in Spain, said he has seen the freshman catch several birds near buildings in Spain, on the street or near open areas, including a nearby park. Teammates would bet that Sidibe couldn’t catch the birds. Yet he would do it anyway. They’d pepper him with questions as to how he could possibly catch a pigeon so easily. He said he would just smile.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorSidibe uses a similar technique while catching birds and blocking shots. He said he lets pigeons take flight, then he makes his move. On the court, Sidibe tempts shooters to get in the lane before he rises up for the block.The arc a pigeon makes when it takes off is not much different from a floater in the lane, he said. Both have a natural trajectory that can be anticipated and timed. Junior center Paschal Chukwu said he works with Sidibe every day on the timing of how to block shots, Sidibe’s greatest strength.“Bourama has very good instincts, and he’s quick,” said Mark Taylor, his coach at St. Benedict’s. “When you’ve got those two, you can be really good, especially in the zone. You start to see a lot of things happening where you can step up and make some good blocks.”Sidibe said his bird-catching abilities help him resist guards who drive in the paint. The skills he picked up in timing birds help him alter shots on the interior and clear rebounding lanes, too.“He has great timing,” sophomore guard Tyus Battle said. “He times the ball, he sees the ball and where it’s going to go up.”Sidibe said he has yet to catch a bird in Syracuse, though he hasn’t ruled out the possibility. For now, he’s focused on altering shots in the frontcourt.“I love catching birds,” Sidibe said, “and I love blocking shots.” Commentslast_img read more

Mike Trout blasts 39th homer as Angels open final weekend with victory

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error PreviousANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Kaleb Cowart #22 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim gets the tag down on Ramon Laureano #22 of the Oakland Athletics trying to steal second base for the out during the fifth inning of the MLB game at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani steals third as Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman takes a late throw from home during the second inning of Friday’s game at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)The Angels’ Mike Trout greets teammate Shohei Ohtani with a celebratory slap on the hand after Ohtani scored during the second inning of Friday’s game against the A’s. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jaime Barria throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Taylor Ward #3 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a two-run homerun during the second inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)Los Angeles Angels’ Taylor Ward, right, hits a two-run home run while Oakland Athletics catcher Jonathan Lucroy watches during the second inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Taylor Ward, right, heads to first as he hits a two-run home run while Oakland Athletics catcher Jonathan Lucroy, center, and home plate umpire Doug Eddings watch during the second inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Lou Trivino throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, right, of Japan, smiles at first base umpire Joe West after hitting a single during the second inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, hits a single during the second inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels reliever Taylor Cole throws watches a pitch during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a two-run home run during the third inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim congratulates teammate Mike Trout #27 at home plate after Trout hit a two-run homerun as catcher Jonathan Lucroy #21 of the Oakland Athletics looks on during the third inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a sacrifice fly to left field during the fifth inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a sacrifice fly to left field during the fifth inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Pitcher Taylor Cole #67 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Kaleb Cowart #22 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim gets the tag down on Ramon Laureano #22 of the Oakland Athletics trying to steal second base for the out during the fifth inning of the MLB game at Angel Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani steals third as Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman takes a late throw from home during the second inning of Friday’s game at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 16The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani steals third as Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman takes a late throw from home during the second inning of Friday’s game at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandANAHEIM — While the Angels’ final weekend of games have little bearing on the present, they opened the series with all sorts of storylines relating to the past and the future.The Angels’ 8-5 victory over the Oakland A’s on Friday night included big offensive contributions from rookies Shohei Ohtani and Taylor Ward and the scoreless pitching of rookies Jaime Barría and Taylor Cole.It all came against a backdrop of what is likely to be the final weekend for Mike Scioscia after 19 years managing the team.On Saturday, the Angels will honor Scioscia with a bobblehead, and on Friday the ballpark concourse included at least one ad for the promotion that included a list of the manager’s accomplishments. Trout singled and hit a two-run homer, his 39th of the season. Trout, however, might only be cementing his place as the MVP runner-up – for the fourth time. Mookie Betts is having a season that, by most measures, is equal to Trout’s, but he’s doing so on a 107-win team going to the playoffs.The Angels, meanwhile, are going nowhere, but at least feeling good about a four-game winning streak in the final week and the performances of a few players who could be part of the solution in 2019.Barría, a 22-year-old who began last season at Class-A Inland Empire, has risen quickly to become a reliable member of the rotation. In his 26th start of the season, Barría did not allow a hit or a run. He was knocked out after 4-2/3 innings because he walked six, though.Related Articles Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield center_img In between all that, the most significant developments relating to 2018 came from Mike Trout and Ohtani, who are making their final statements in the bid for individual awards.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Ohtani, who had two singles, a double and a sacrifice fly, seems like a good bet to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. Ohtani also stole his 10th base of the year.As you’d expect, Ohtani is also the first player in major league history to steal 10 bases, hit 10 homers and start 10 games as a pitcher in the same season.The only other Angels rookies to combine the 10 steals and 20 homers – Ohtani has 22 – were Devon White (1987) and Trout (2012).Trout was the unanimous Rookie of the Year then, and now he’s trying to win his third MVP award. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Barría finished his season with a 3.41 ERA in 129-1/3 innings.His shot to pitch part of a combined no-hitter ended when Cole gave up a single to Jed Lowrie leading off the sixth. Around that, Cole pitched 2-1/3 innings, striking out five of the eight batters he faced. Signed as a minor league free agent right before spring training, Cole has a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings.The Angels got the lead with three runs in the second, including two on a homer by Ward, his fifth of the season and second in as many games.Ward had a rough defensive game. Still learning third base after being a catcher until this year, Ward made an error and had an infield single deflect off his glove in the A’s five-run eighth inning.More to come on this story.last_img read more