Syracuse’s ‘X-factor’ is Maxwell professor and volunteer assistant Len Lopoo

first_img Published on March 29, 2018 at 9:46 am Contact KJ: kjedelma@syr.edu | @KJEdelman The ball landed on the line, and Syracuse volunteer assistant coach Len Lopoo was sure of it. But the umpire called it out of bounds.Lopoo, a coach who prefers to not be in the spotlight, jumped from his seat and yelled at the top of his lungs.“Are you kidding me?” Lopoo said to the umpire. “That was right on the line. That was really right on the line.”Sophomore Miranda Ramirez, who was up 4-2 in the first set of her second singles match, threw up her hands in shock but let Lopoo do the talking. After the one-sided shouting continued for almost a minute, the umpire told Lopoo to “chill out.” The call stayed in favor of Wake Forest’s then-No. 88 Eliza Omirou.Associate head coach Shelley George’s husband turned his body away from the altercation and faced the crowd.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I’ve never seen him that mad before,” he said with a smirk to nearly 30 people watching at Drumlins Country Club.After the two cooled down, Ramirez flashed a smile in the direction of Lopoo and grabbed the ball to hold serve.“He had my back,” Ramirez said after the match, “… like he always does.”Courtesy of SU AthleticsLopoo, who declined to be interviewed for this story, has become No. 34 Syracuse’s (12-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast) “X-factor” — as head coach Younes Limam put it — during home matches and behind the scenes. His instincts with in-match decisions and willingness to compete alongside players during practice set him apart from other volunteer coaches, Limam said.A teenage Lopoo played tennis at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he eventually ranked nationally as a top-20 junior player. After four team and three individual state championships in high school, Lopoo joined the tennis team at Louisiana State University, per Lopoo’s Cuse.com bio page.Following the end of his collegiate tennis career, Lopoo received his master’s and PhD at the University of Chicago. He’s been a professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs since 2003. In 2011, he joined the SU’s women’s tennis team as a volunteer coach. But he isn’t an ordinary volunteer coach, Limam said.Limam was hired as head coach in 2014 to change the culture of Syracuse’s program. One of the first things he did when he arrived at Syracuse was get lunch with Lopoo, who had spent the last two seasons coaching SU.The two met at Pascale Italian Bistro, a restaurant connected to Drumlins Country Club, the site of the Orange’s home matches. They talked about everything: family, team philosophy, expectations and changes to recruiting strategy. Limam didn’t know any of the players he would coach entering the 2015-16 season, so he asked Lopoo to analyze each of their playing styles to get a better sense of his new team.Limam left that conversation with a good feeling.“I knew we saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things,” Limam said. “It was not a question to keep him on our coaching staff.”Now four years into his partnership with Limam, Lopoo puts his tennis skills to use in morning practices. Two to three times a week, Lopoo will play several sets of singles and doubles against players, including Ramirez.“He’s a bit tricky,” Ramirez said, “He doesn’t play like anyone else on the team. (He) slices his backhand a lot, has a kick serve, plays baseline-to-baseline. It’s usually a pretty even match between us, but it helps a lot.”Lopoo points out subtle strategic adjustments to the players he competes with in practice, but while coaching them, his demeanor adapts to specific situations.“He has the instinct to know what players need,” Limam said. “Usually it’s a quick decision, it’s natural.”For Ramirez, the player Lopoo most often shadows during matches this season, positivity and reinforcement help her get to a “perfect mental state,” she said. In tight positions, like her third-set tiebreak against Omirou on March 18, Lopoo insists that Ramirez is the better player on the court and convinces her to trust her shots and instincts, she said.On gameday, each of SU’s three coaches generally hones in on a specific doubles and singles match. While Lopoo is just a volunteer assistant, Limam trusts his decision-making and game plan “100 percent.”“He helped me when I first got here,” Limam said, “and now he helps (the players) a lot. He’s a big part of what we do here.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

With blister healing, Shohei Ohtani moves up to sixth in Angels’ batting order

first_imgIn the meantime, he returned to the lineup as a designated hitter and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts after getting a regularly scheduled day of rest Wednesday. He had batted seventh in the order once and eighth six times before moving up to sixth against Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.Why sixth?Why not?“I just think, where our lineup is right now with the groupings, it’s a good spot for Shohei,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of the 23-year-old rookie from Japan. “Get him back in there and, hopefully, he’ll get a chance to look at some pitches and help us.”No question, the Angels missed Ohtani’s .367 average during the first two games of the series against the Red Sox, when they were outscored 19-1. Ohtani went into Thursday with three home runs and 11 RBIs in his first eight games as a hitter. Ohtani’s blister was not expected to trouble him at the plate.“He’s not very worried about it,” Scioscia said. “We’re looking at it very closely. The medical staff is looking at it closely. When you’re out here for a while (in the major leagues), you get a lot of history with guys with blisters and things like that. Hopefully, it’ll be a non-issue.”Scioscia wouldn’t reveal his probable pitchers for the Astros series, but if the Angels stick to their seven-day game plan with Ohtani, he’ll start Tuesday in Houston. Ohtani was scheduled to pitch last Sunday’s game against the Royals in Kansas City, but that game was postponed because of bitter cold.Ohtani ended up pitching on eight days rest because of the postponement and a scheduled off day Monday.MILESTONE ALERTAlbert Pujols went into Thursday needing 10 hits for 3,000 for his career, which would make him only the fourth player in baseball with 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez are the only other players in history to reach both milestones.“It seems like every time he gets a double or a home run or an RBI, you see one of the all-time greats flash on the board that he’s passed,” Scioscia said. “So, it gives perspective in how good Albert’s been and how good he is right now. It’s fun to watch.”In addition to joining the elite 3,000/600 club, Pujols has a chance later this season to join another remarkable group of players. He went into Thursday with 1,928 RBIs, the ninth-most in baseball history. Only three players, Aaron, Babe Ruth and Rodriguez have reached 2,000 RBIs.Aaron had 2,297, Ruth had 2,214 and Rodriguez had 2,086.“He’s meticulous in his preparation and he works very hard at what he has to do on the offensive end and the defensive end, understanding game situations and understanding pitchers,” Scioscia said of Pujols. “He’s as good as anyone I’ve seen at doing that.”WHO’S NEXT?The probables for the Angels’ three-game series against the San Francisco Giants:Friday, Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney (0-0, 5.40) vs. Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija (2018 debut); Saturday, Angels righty Garrett Richards (2-0, 2.60) vs. Giants lefty Derek Holland (0-2, 4.60); Sunday, Angels TBA vs. Giants righty Cueto (1-0, 0.45). Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img ANAHEIM — The most famous blister in baseball could not prevent Shohei Ohtani from moving up in the Angels’ batting order Thursday. He hit sixth in the finale of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium, the highest he has batted in the order in 2018.Ohtani lasted only two innings before a blister on his right middle finger forced him from his last start on the mound, a loss Tuesday to the Red Sox. He is expected to make his next start as scheduled on Tuesday against the Houston Astros.Ohtani played catch Thursday and his between-starts bullpen session was set for the weekend.“The blister is healing pretty well right now,” Ohtani said through an interpreter after the Angels’ 8-2 loss to the Red Sox. “I’m planning on throwing my bullpen as scheduled, two days before my start. I’ll try to take care of my blister.”last_img read more