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March 29, 2017

The Return of Fondren After 5

By amber_helsel

After Chane announced earlier this month that he would no longer do Fondren's First Thursday, the event's future was up in the air. However, Fondren Renaissance Foundation has taken the reigns. The name of the event will once again be Fondren After 5. Here is some information about the new FA5 directly from

Rotating presenters • Ever Changing Activities • Always Family Friendly

Fondren After 5 – Always First Thursdays – is a neighborhood open house, presented by the merchants and restaurants of Fondren – with opportunities to enjoy good food from one of our nearly two dozen restaurants, bakeries, bars and coffee shops and shop with our unique mix of merchants, mixed in with street-side fun.

In April, Duling Avenue, presented by Hals & Mal’s, Babalu Tacos & Tapasa, Saltine Oyster Bar, Abita Brewing and New Belgium Brewing, is the focus of activity with “Duling Avenue Live.”

Future months include:

May – Fondren Reniassance’s Arts Eats & Beats June – Duling Avenue Live July – State Street Concert Series August – Duling Avenue Live September – Duling Avenue Live October – State Street Concert Series November – Jackson Indie Music Week December – Fondren Renaissance’s Fondren Unwrapped

Welcomed by Fondren Renaissance, whose mission is to empower others to build a better Fondren!

March 28, 2017

A Miracle on the Hardwood

By bryanflynn

Even if you don’t follow sports, you’ve probably heard of the 1980 Olympics’ “Miracle on Ice” at some point. A group of young American hockey players took down one of the best hockey teams in the world in the USSR.

What you might not know is that the game against the USSR wasn’t even for the gold medal. The U.S. team still had to play Finland to win the gold, but the game against the USSR is so steeped in lore most just believe it was for the gold.

That USSR team was cloaked in an aura of invincibility. It was a team that reached mythic status even as they still played the game. The country had already beaten many teams before the U.S. stepped on the ice against them.

Why is a game hockey at the end of March so important with no Winter Olympics in sight? If you think about it, the “Miracle on Ice” and the Final Four game that the Mississippi State University women’s basketball team will play on Friday, March 31, are similar.

MSU will face the University of Connecticut, which compares well to that USSR team. The Russians were considered the best in the world and so are the Huskies.

The USSR dominated their sport, even beating the NHL All-Stars 6-0 a year before the Olympics. Connecticut has won 111 straight games and is making its 10th straight Final Four, but the Bulldogs are making their first appearance.

In the 1980 Olympics, the USSR crushed most of the other teams in the tournament in the run-up before facing the Americans. The team had close games against Canada and Finland, but the Russians still won easily.

In the Final Four, UConn is normally in the midst of a blowout before halftime of nearly every game it has played. The closest game the Huskies have played is a 15-point victory over the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Huskies beat many teams that step on the court before the opening tip because UConn possesses the same aura and mystique that the USSR displayed. It is easy to see why since the Huskies have won the past four straight national championships and six of the last eight.

Going into the 1980 Olympics, the USSR had won four straight Olympics, the World Championship and the World Cup. People considered the Russians, like UConn today, nearly unbeatable.

Before the Olympics, the U.S. and the USSR played each other in a game where the Russians won 10-3, as the opposition starstuck the Americans. MSU might not have been starstruck, but they were beaten 98-38 in the Sweet Sixteen last year.

U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks knew he had to break that aura and mystique the Russians held over his players. He began to compare great USSR player Boris Mikhailov to comedy legend Stan Laurel of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

MSU ...

March 27, 2017

MSU Headed to Final Four

By bryanflynn

A season for the ages for the Mississippi State University women’s basketball team just keeps getting better and better. The program reached the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row, but these Bulldogs didn’t want to go home in the first game of the second weekend.

MSU’s task in the Sweet Sixteen was to find a way to slow down Kelsey Plum of the University of Washington, who happens to be the all-time leading scorer for women’s NCAA basketball and has set the single-season record for scoring.

The Huskies star ended up scoring 29 points, but on 10-of-25 shooting and 3-for-8 from the three-point line. MSU harassed Plum all game long with a suffocating defense that rarely gave the guard open looks at the basket.

Even with the stellar defense on Plum, Washington stayed in the game until the fourth quarter. That is when Bulldogs center Teaira McCowan put the team on her back and carried them.

In the first three quarters, McCowan scored six points before exploding for 20 points in the final quarter alone. No player was more dominant in the game than the Bulldogs center, who nabbed 12 rebounds and made a career-high six blocks.

Washington had no answer in the paint for McCowan, as she grabbed rebound after rebound and put missed shots back for easy buckets. A close game for three quarters saw the Bulldogs pull away in the 75-64 victory.

MSU used its depth to wear Huskies out, with 11 players getting into the game and seven playing double-digit minutes. Star guard Victoria Vivians came off the bench and scored 13 points, and rounds-one and -two leading scorer Blair Schaefer scored 10 points. Another impressive fact is that 10 of the 11 players who saw action scored at least two points.

The win propelled MSU to its first Elite Eight appearance in program history. But then Baylor University stood in the Bulldogs’ way of reach the Final Four, and the two teams put on a show on Sunday night.

During that game, each team seemed to battle back after the other made a run to either tie or take the lead. Just when it seemed like one team was about to put the other away, the game tightened up again.

It might not have been a masterpiece for every second, but it was two teams making big shot after big shot. The smallest Bulldog on the floor, Morgan William, ended up taking and making most of those big shots for MSU.

William entered the game after scoring 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting in the team’s other three games during the NCAA Tournament. She exploded for 41 points on 13-of-22 shooting, 6-of-8 from three, and 9-of-10 from the free throw line, with seven assists and zero turnovers.

William hit shots no matter which Bear tried to guard her, and even hit deep three-point shots when Baylor ...

March 24, 2017

MSU Research Leads to Football Helmet That Reduces Concussions

By bryanflynn

Football players could soon be safer from concussions and if so, they will have Mississippi State University to thank for that. Researchers at the Bagley School of Engineering are studying ways to reduce concussions.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that the U.S. has an estimated four million concussion each year. Football is one of the sports that has come under fire for concussions after recently retired players started showing signs of brain damage.

Several former players who have allowed scientists to study their brains have been shown to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Scientists are just now discovering the condition and can only make a diagnosis after death. Some of the players discovered to have CTE died of natural cause but other committed suicide to have their brains studied.

The researchers at MSU have turned to nature to look for answers to protect the human brain from concussions, studying the shock mitigation within the horns of big rams and woodpeckers’ beaks to learn how different materials react to shock mitigation.

These researchers have learned that most brain injuries don’t come from that big hit we all cringe at, but instead from the stress waves it causes. The composition of the beak and bone of a woodpecker allows it absorb shocks 10 times greater than those inflicted on football players. Similar, the spiral shape of a ram’s horns help provide an escape route of those dangerous shock waves.

Research has led the scientists at MSU to design a helmet out of advanced materials such as composite and titanium to make the outer shell and facemask, with the facemask lighter. The design shifts center of gravity away from the neck to the nose region while making the helmets stronger and more durable.

Another innovation is on the inside. Researchers have replaced the traditional foam in helmets with foam made out of microstructures similar to a rams’ horns. Tests have shown that the MSU helmet is three times more likely to prevent a concussion.

MSU just isn’t trying to make a better helmet to protect players. Researchers are working on a mouth guard that would record motions and help detect concussions.

The MSU team created a startup company named Rush Predictions Protective Systems and is working with another MSU startup company named Predictive Design Technologies. This research has led to 12 patents with a possibility for more on the way.

These scientists are hoping to use the new helmets during the Bulldogs’ spring training camp this year. MSU’s research could lead to fewer concussions, which could make the game safer for players and help reduce injuries.

March 24, 2017

Gov. Bryant Cuts State Budget, The Fourth Time in Current Fiscal Year

By adreher

Gov. Phil Bryant announced his fourth budget cut to the current fiscal-year budget this afternoon. He will cut over $20 million from the state's budget, meaning a less than half percent cut for each state agency. He also pulled $39 million from the state's rainy day fund to plug budget holes, a letter to the state's fiscal officer Laura Jackson shows.

Gov. Bryant announced the news on his Facebook page today, shortly after the Joint Legislative Budget Committee met to adjust their revenue estimates, decreasing anticipated revenue projections for the upcoming budget year, which must be finalized by Saturday night and starts July 1.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told reporters after the meeting that revenue estimate change will make the budgeting process "even more challenging." Lawmakers will have to cut $174.6 million from the already reduced legislative budget office's proposed budget for fiscal-year 2018.

The state now has $240 million in its rainy day fund, which the governor has drawn from three times already this year as well as cutting agency budgets to keep the state's budget balanced in spite of lagging revenues.

March 23, 2017

Payton-Manziel Super Bowl Meet-up

By bryanflynn

One of the more interesting stories this week is that New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton met with former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel during Super Bowl week.

There are few examples of a player destroying their career the way Manziel has. NFL teams are known to put up with a lot of crap from players with loads of talent. Heck, any sports-related field is willing to put up with a ton from stars because they are stars, including the MLB, NBA and even the WWE. Just check out the stuff that wrestler Shawn Michaels pulled in his younger years, but “The Showstopper” was one of the greatest talents ever in the ring.

The general consensus has been that it is all right to party like a rock star on Saturday if you can deliver the goods on Sunday. Famed New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath partied with the best of them but still could get it done when the game started. So could New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle. Manziel, on the other hand, couldn’t pull off the feat when the Cleveland Browns drafted him in 2014.

It worked for the quarterback when he was at Texas A&M University and made the news for his bad behavior. The same wild and crazy lifestyle didn’t go over well in the NFL, where players are supposed to be prepared on game day.

Since the Browns drafted in the first round with the 22nd overall pick, the former Heisman Trophy winner seemed to be in scandal after scandal. On the field, Manziel’s talent couldn’t eclipse the dumpster fire that he was off the field.

His antics eventually got old, and the Browns cut him in March 2016. No team wanted him during the offseason, and not many teams have shown interest in the quarterback.

If any coach could get a player to straighten up and live up to the talent that he possesses, it would be Payton. Payton and his current quarterback, Drew Brees, wouldn’t let Manziel act the way that he did with the Browns.

New Orleans, as a city, would be the big risk for signing Manziel. Few cities in America have a reputation for being a place to have a good time like The Big Easy. The temptation for Manziel would be great, and that is where Payton and Brees would have to keep him in check.

It doesn’t seem likely that New Orleans will sign Manziel, but Brees is 38 years old and in the final year of his contract. Payton doesn’t hurt anything by kicking the tires on a quarterback who could be really talented if he fixed his work ethic and personal life.

Remember Michaels mentioned above. Most of the superstars in the WWE disliked him when his back issues forced him to to leave the company. He later returned with the company after a four-and-half-year absence as a better person, according ...

March 22, 2017

Saints Sign Te’o

By bryanflynn

While we wait to hear about a possible deal between the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots for cornerback Malcolm Butler, the Saints still are working on fixing their defense, which was one of the worst in the league. It has gotten linebacker help with the poaching of former Carolina Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein.

New Orleans signed former San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o to a two-year deal. No financial details have been released, but it seems like a good bet that the Saints got a good deal.

Te’o missed 13 games last season after tearing his Achilles tendon in week three of the season in a game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 26-year-old has spent a good deal of time on the injury list, as he has missed 26 games in his four-year career.

He is an impact player on defense and started 34 out of 38 games, when healthy, for the Chargers. After San Diego drafted him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the linebacker amassed 221 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1.5 sacks. Te’o was named co-captain of the Chargers for the 2016-2017 season.

New Orleans is starting to get a logjam at linebacker with Te’o, Klein and returning starter Craig Robinson, who all play inside linebacker. The Saints could try to move one player to outside linebacker, but will Te’o have the speed after the Achilles injury?

The Saints, barring another trade, still have two first-round draft picks to use in late April. New Orleans is making an effort to improve its defensive unit.

Te’o was a star at the University of Notre Dame and led his team during his senior season of 2012 to the national championship game. He finished second for the Heisman Trophy that season.

Casual fans might remember the linebacker being misled in one of the more public versions of “catfishing” (when someone pretends to be someone else on the Internet and enters in online relationships with others. MTV produces a show on the subject.)

The linebacker thought he was having an online relationship with a woman, but in truth the woman wasn’t real, and he was being deceived. Things got worse. He told people that his girlfriend, who wasn’t real, had died. In real life, his grandmother had died around the same time.

It was one of the more bizarre sports stories in the last few years. Many believed the linebacker was in on the hoax until it was proven that he had been tricked.

Since entering the league, Te’o hasn’t be involved in any strange stories. The only time he makes the news is for playing or being hurt.

New Orleans doesn’t have to worry about him bring bad press because he has been drama free since joining the league four years ago. But the hoax of a fake-dead girlfriend might be what the public eventually remembers about the linebacker.

March 22, 2017

Bulldogs to Face Huskies in Sweet 16

By bryanflynn

In the first two rounds of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, things went as planned for Mississippi State University. The hosting Bulldogs switched up the starting lineup and rotation, but Head Coach Vic Schaefer made the changes work.

MSU got little resistance from opening-round foe No. 15-seed Troy University with a 110-69 win on Friday, March 17. The Bulldogs won an opening-round game for the eighth time in a row and topped 100 points for the first time in an NCAA Tournament.

The 41-point win is the largest in a tournament game and tied a school record for most three-pointers made in a tournament game with 12. Five players scored in double figures, with Blair Schaefer leading the way with a career-high 21 points. This is also the first time in MSU history that the program has won 30 games in a season.

At no time during that first contest did Troy lead after an 18-0 start by the Bulldogs. MSU got a much stiffer test in No. 7-seed DePaul University in the second round on Sunday, March 19. The Bulldogs’ 92-71 victory is even more impressive considering that MSU only led 32-31 at halftime.

In the third quarter, MSU took over the game and began to pull away. By the midpoint of the fourth quarter, no one could doubt the outcome after the Bulldogs’ offensive explosion.

The victory means the team will finish 12-1 at home and continues to set the school record for victories, now at 31 wins. It also puts the team in the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight year and for the third time in program history.

Six players finished in double figures against DePaul, with Schaefer scoring 18 points to lead the team for second time in the tournament. Dominique Dillingham also scored 10 points in the game to reach 1,000 points for her career.

In the first two rounds, MSU scored a total 202 points.

The Bulldogs had to wait until late Monday, March 20, to find out which team they would play in the round of 16, as MSU will face the winner between the No. 6-seed University of Oklahoma and the No. 3-seed University of Washington.

Washington rolled over Oklahoma 108-82, with Huskies guard Kelsey Plum scoring 32 points and elevating the record for the most points in a women’s NCAA season. She broke Jackie Stiles’ record of 1,062 points back in February of this year, and currently sits at 1,080 points. The Washington star also has the second-most points in NCAA history for men or women, only behind Louisiana State University great “Pistol Pete” Maravich.

The Huskies have been on an offensive roll, just like the Bulldogs, in the NCAA Tournament. Washington has scored 91 and 108 points in its first two tournament games. MSU will have to figure out a way to slow down Plum and the rest of the high-powered Washington offense.


March 20, 2017

Busted Bracket

By bryanflynn

It’s WrestleMania season and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament time, so what better way to mark the occasion than mix the two biggest events ending in April? Plus, the NCAA and WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon are two of the most hated things in sports. If you could throw in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well, it would be the most hated triumvirate in all of sports.

My bracket started like Super John Cena and didn’t lay down for anyone early Thursday, March 16. Then, little slips began to happen, like No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee State University upsetting the No. 5 seed University of Minnesota, and No. 11 seed Xavier University beating the No. 6 seed University of Maryland.

By Friday, March 17, my bracket had turned from unbeatable into the Undertaker versus Mick Foley as Mankind in Hell in the Cell at King of the Ring 1998. My bracket, playing the role of Mankind, climbed to the top of the cell just to have the tournament, playing the role of Undertaker, throw it from 20 feet in the air onto the announcer's’ table.

Friday upsets included No. 10 seed Wichita State University over the No. 7 seed University of Dayton, the No. 11 seed University of Rhode Island upsetting No. 6 seed Creighton University, and the No. 11 seed University of Southern California taking down No. 6 seed Southern Methodist University.

Just like Mrs. Foley’s baby boy, instead of going up the ramp into the back on stretcher, my bracket decided to climb back onto the cage on Saturday, March 18. Once more, my bracket played Mankind to the tournament’s Undertaker and the poor bracket got chokeslammed through the steel cage.

That exact moment is how I felt when the No. 8 seed University of Wisconsin took down defending national champions and the No. 1 seed University of Villanova on Saturday. Xavier beating No. 3 seed Florida State University seemed like getting another choke slam but this time on thumbtacks. Yes, that is exactly how the match went after Foley lost a tooth and dislocated his jaw after the choke slam from the top of the cage.

By Sunday, March 19, my bracket had turned into Ric Flair with the tournament playing Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania XXIV. The tournament delivered its first Sweet Chin Music to my bracket with the No. 7 seed University of Michigan knocking off the No. 2 seed University of Louisville.

On Sunday night, the teary-eyed tournament looked at my bracket and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry; I love you,” just like Michaels to Flair, as it hit me with a second Sweet Chin Music as the No. 7 seed University of South Carolina upended No. 2 seed Duke University.

Things could have been worse for my poor, poor bracket if not for the Montreal Screwjob that the officials did on the No. 8 seed University ...

March 17, 2017

Pro Day Dates for MSU, JSU, UM and USM

By bryanflynn

Players that didn’t receive an invite to the NFL Combine or didn’t like their performance at the Combine still have a chance to catch the eyes of NFL scouts. Across the country, schools are holding what are known as Pro Days.

Draft-eligible players will workout in front of scouts at their respective universities. There are sometimes Canadian Football League scouts at these Pro Days, as well, looking for players that the NFL might not draft or sign as undrafted free agents.

This is one of the final chances for most players to showcase their skills to the NFL, and it might be the only chance for players at smaller schools to work out in front of scouts. A good Pro Day could get a player’s name called in the later stages of the draft or a phone call to join a team as an undrafted free agent. This is a day that can make or break players’ futures in football.

Four schools in this state have set up Pro Days, according to a schedule released on Universities have been holding Pro Days since March 7, but none of the schools in our state have held their mini-scouting combine.

The first school to hold a Pro Day is Mississippi State University on Wednesday, March 22, at 8:30 a.m. Any MSU players that are eligible for the draft can participate, including wide receiver Fred Ross, who will want to run faster than his 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Jackson State University will hold its Pro Day on Thursday, March 23, at 10 a.m. JSU didn’t have any players get an invite to the Combine, so this will be their chance to show out for the first time in front of scouts.

The next Pro Day is for the University of Mississippi on Monday, April 3, at 9:45 a.m. Quarterback Chad Kelly didn’t get an invite to the Combine but will still have a chance to prove to NFL teams that he’s worth a shot.

Tight end Evan Engram might not run after a sensational Combine performance but could choose to show of his ability to catch passes to help move him up draft boards. Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo could do the same with pass catching and route-running drills.

The University of Southern Mississippi is the last school to hold a Pro Day, with the Golden Eagles getting in front of scouts on Tuesday, April 4, at 2 p.m. in the lone afternoon workout in our state.

Like JSU, none of the Golden Eagles received invites to the NFL Combine. This will be a chance for quarterback Nick Mullens to showcase his skills. Several other Golden Eagles could work their way into the draft with a good day, including offensive lineman Cameron Tom.

Players who attend a school that doesn’t hold a Pro Day are allowed to travel to one of these four universities. Most of the time, players attend a ...

March 16, 2017

Patriots Butler Visiting the Saints

By bryanflynn

Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler is in New Orleans visiting with the Saints. Normally this wouldn’t be super newsworthy with the NFL in the midst of free agency. But Butler is not a free agent, but a restricted free agent. That means he is free to sign with another team, but his current team, the New England Patriots, have the right to match the offer.

Since the star cornerback is a restricted free agent, New England placed a first-round tender on him. That means any team that signs Butler has to give up a first-round pick if the Patriots didn’t match the offer sheet that another team gave the cornerback.

If he plays for the Patriots this season and signs his free-agent tender, Butler will make $3.91 million in 2017. That means that if the Saints sign Butler to an offer sheet, New England will get New Orleans’ 11th overall pick.

The Saints can also work out the details for a long-term deal with Butler and let the two teams work out a trade after he signs his tender. That trade could include players, draft picks or both.

New Orleans would do better to go the second route and not sign Butler to a long-term deal and watch the Patriots get the No. 11 pick. The Patriots already traded their No. 32 pick to the Saints for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

New England might get its first-round pick back in a trade with the Saints. It seems unlikely that the Patriots would let Butler go for anything less after putting a first-round tender on him.

Butler’s name did come up during the Cooks trade, but he hadn’t signed his tender so he wasn’t under contract and couldn’t be traded. This just might be a long way around to get the deal both teams might have wanted in the first place.

New Orleans could decide also not to work a deal for Butler. The upcoming draft is deep in secondary players and a few potentially great players that can be selected.

Unlike drafted players, the Saints know what they are getting with Butler: a young player who has been named to the Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro. He brings two Super Bowl rings to New Orleans with him.

On the flipside, players the Patriots have moved on from generally don’t fare well in their next stop. New Orleans dealing for Butler could end up not being worth the price the team paid for him.

One more thing for the Saints to think about is Super Bowl LI. Butler struggled in coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. On one play, Butler got juked out of his cleats as a Falcons receiver blew past him.

He committed a pass-interference penalty in the game and played just okay enough not to stink the place up. If the Patriots hadn’t come back to win, Butler’s play might have ended ...

The Arts Blog

March 16, 2017

Stray at Home Announces This Year's Makers

By amber_helsel

This year's Stray at Home is at Smith Park on May 13. This morning, organizers announced the 2017 makers. Here they are:

Alena G Vinet Designs

Blackjack Wax Co.

Bean & Bailey Ceramics

Lo Lady Fashion

Dot Products

Samara Thomas

Sam Clark Art


Ellen Langford

Mermaid's Purse

d+p Design Build

Bridgman Pottery

Wild and Free Designs


Wascome Woodworks

The Lovely Bee


Moxie Floral


Homegrown Studio

Melody & Shaun Thortis

Elizabeth Fowler

DCZ Designs

Moonflower Photography

LCJ Jewelry

Cristina Leis Calligraphy

Blending by Betty

Bailey Armstrong

Phelan Harris


For more information, visit

March 15, 2017

MSU Makes NCAA, UM and USM Earn NIT Bids

By bryanflynn

Only one men’s basketball team from Mississippi reached the postseason between the NCAA Tournament and the National Invitation Tournament: the University of Mississippi with its bid to the NIT.

Three women’s basketball teams from Mississippi are heading to the postseason. Mississippi State University, which earned a No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City Region in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, leads them.

The team is in the midst of the best record in school history at 29-4 and broke the school record for most wins for the third straight year. The Bulldogs matched the school record for best finish in the SEC, second place, as they won a school-record 13 conference games.

The best season in school history gives MSU the right to host the first- and second-round games. If the Bulldogs advance to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, teams will play those games in Oklahoma City, and the Final Four will be in Dallas.

In the first round, MSU faces No. 15 seed, 22-10-record Troy University, which won the Sun Belt Tournament to get in the field of 64. If the Bulldogs win, they will face the winner of the game between No. 7 seed DePaul University (26-7), the regular season champion out of the Big East, and No. 10 seed University of Northern Iowa (24-11).

DePaul faces Northern Iowa at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 17, with MSU battling Troy at 1:30 p.m. Both first-round games will be on ESPN2. The winners of round one will play on Sunday, March 19, with the time and viewing platform to be announced.

Both the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi accepted at-large bids to the 64-team Women’s NIT. Both the Golden Eagles and the Rebels will host their first-round games.

USM hosts the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Wednesday, March 15, with tipoff at 6 p.m. The Golden Eagles will face the winner of the University of Alabama versus Mercer University game in the second round.

This is the Golden Eagles’ seventh trip to the WNIT in program history. The last appearance for USM happened after the 2014-2015 season.

The Rebels will host Grambling State University on Thursday, March 16, with a scheduled start of 6 p.m. UM will face the winner of the Tulane University versus the University of Texas at Arlington game.

This will be the eighth time UM earned a bid to the WNIT. The last time the Rebels were in this tournament was after the 2014-2015 season.

Second-round games of the WNIT are March 18 to March 21. Third-round games are from March 22 to March 24.

March 14, 2017

Saints Trade Cooks to Patriots

By bryanflynn

Free agency is off and running in the NFL, and nearly every team is wheeling and dealing to sign or trade players. On Friday, March 10, the New Orleans Saints traded leading receiver Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots.

The Saints got the Patriots’ 32nd pick of the first round and their 103rd pick in the third round. New England received Cooks and the Saint’s 118th pick in the fourth round to complete the trade.

New England is making moves to try to for a couple more runs at the Super Bowl while they still have Tom Brady. The future Hall of Fame quarterback will be 40 years old when the 2017 season begins.

Cooks gives Brady a reliable deep threat that the Patriots haven’t had in recent years. If tight end Rob Gronkowski is healthy next season and Cooks proves his worth, New England could become a matchup nightmare in the red zone.

It is easy, in the short term, to think New England is getting the better end of this trade. Cooks’ salary is $1.56 million this year, but with his fifth-year option in 2018, his salary will jump up to $8.5 million.

New Orleans has shown that it is able to get rid of offensive players and still have one of the top offenses in the in the NFL. The Jimmy Graham trade is one example of how the Saints have moved offensive players while future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton have kept the offense rolling.

The Saints now own two picks in the first round (11th and 32nd overall), one pick in the second round (42nd overall) and two picks in the third round (76th and 103rd overall) in the first two days of the draft. New Orleans picks 196th overall in the sixth round and 229th in the seventh round to complete its draft.

In today’s NFL, first-, second- and third-round picks are supposed to help a team immediately in various ways. The first- and second-round picks should produce starters at some point in the season, and the third-round picks should make contributions early.

The best-case scenario is New Orleans getting five starters in this draft, but getting three starters out of five picks would be outstanding.

This draft is deep in wide receivers, so finding a cheaper replacement for Cooks isn’t out of the question. New Orleans needs plenty of help on defense, and this draft is also deep with pass-rushing defensive linemen and defensive backs, both areas of need for the Saints.

New Orleans could end up the long-term winner of this deal, depending on how well they draft. New England might just get Cooks for one season, and if the season doesn’t end in a trip to the Super Bowl, it could be a letdown.

The Saints’ other moves in free agency included re-signing defensive tackle Nick Fairley with just $9 million in guaranteed ...

March 13, 2017

Rebels Heading to Monmouth in the NIT

By bryanflynn

Mississippi has six Division I men’s basketball teams, but only one made a postseason tournament. The University of Mississippi is heading to the National Invitation Tournament as a fifth seed.

None of the men’s teams reached the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament after the field of 68 teams were revealed on Sunday, March 12. That left the NIT, which the field of which was revealed on Sunday night.

The Rebels reached the NIT after a 20-13 season and reaching the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. This is the ninth time UM has won 20 games under current head coach Andy Kennedy.

In the NIT, the higher seed normally hosts the games, but the lower seed will host if the higher seed can’t host for a number of reasons.

No. 4 Monmouth University from West Long Branch, N.J., will host the Rebels on Tuesday, March 14, at 6 p.m. ESPN3 will broadcast the game.

The Hawks are 27-7 overall and are the regular-season champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Monmouth lost to Siena in the semifinals of the MAAC Tournament, but it being a regular-season conference champion guaranteed the team a spot in the 81st NIT.

If the Rebels get past the Hawks, they will play the winner of the Syracuse University and University of North Carolina-Greensboro game. Syracuse is the No. 1 seed in the bracket, and UNC-Greensboro is the No. 8 seed. The teams could play the second-round game on either Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Syracuse will host any game it plays during until the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. If Syracuse loses, the Rebels have a chance to host a game if they keep winning in the tournament.

In the other half of the bracket, No. 6 seed Georgia Institute of Technology will host number No. 3 the University of Indiana. Normally Indiana would host this game, but the school’s basketball complex began undergoing renovations after the regular season ended.

The winner of the Georgia Tech-Indiana game will face the winner of the No. 2-seed University of Georgia against No. 7-seed Belmont University game. If UM reaches the quarterfinals, one of the four teams in this half of the bracket will be waiting in the next round.

This is the Rebels’ 12th overall NIT appearance and sixth appearance under Kennedy. Overall UM is 13-11 all-time in the NIT and 7-5 in the tournament, with Kennedy leading the team. The Rebels have reached the final four of the tournament twice in 2008 and 2010, both times under Kennedy’s guidance.

Correction: An earlier version of this post had the Rebels facing the lower half of the bracket in New York the semifinals but it should have stated the lower half of the bracket will be hosted by the highest seed remaining in the quarterfinals. Sorry for this error, I read the bracket incorrectly.

March 13, 2017

Boil Water Lifted for Most Jackson ZIPs

By Todd Stauffer

Boil water notices are being lifted Monday morning after the weekend's contract work on Jackson water mains.

March 9, 2017

Thoughts on Day Four of the NFL Combine

By bryanflynn

Defensive backs were on display for the final day of on-the-field workouts at the 2017 NFL Combine. The secondary group is the largest at this combine, as the passing game has become a bigger part of the NFL.

When discussing defensive backs, it is good to know terms like tight hips, good feet, or good movement. Tight hips means a player struggles in turns and quickly changing directions, good feet are quick, up and down with no wasted steps, and good movement is the opposite of tight hips as a player is good or great at making change of directions or quick turns.

The defensive backs were split into two groups, with safeties and cornerbacks working out together in both. The two are vastly different positions, so when evaluating a player, it helps to know if they will be a corner or a safety.

Out of the group-one cornerbacks, Shaquill Griffin from the University of Central Florida, is going to move up draft boards with his 4.38-second run in the 40-yard dash. He did well during the on-the-field drills, showing good movement and speed.

Adoree’ Jackson out of the University of Southern California is a converted wide receiver, and it showed with his 4.42-second 40-yard dash and his ball-catching skills. He will be an instant help in one team’s return game.

Another converted wide receiver is Brian Allen from the University of Utah. He ran the 40-yard dash in a solid 4.48 seconds and showed good feet and ball skills. He will also help in the return game for whichever team drafts him.

Chidobe Awuzie out of the University of Colorado ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, and Sidney Jones from the University of Washington ran it in 4.47 seconds, but both showed some tight hips, when making turns or changing directions. Awuzie and Jones showed some good ball skills and moved well overall.

Marlon Humphrey out of the University of Alabama ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash. He moved well and has good DNA since his father, Bobby Humphrey, played in the NFL at running back.

A group-one safety that stood out right from the get-go was Josh Jones from North Carolina State University who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. That is an outstanding time for a safety, and he showed good movement and ball skills.

Budda Baker out of Washington and Delano Hill out of the University of Michigan are the top safeties in this draft class, with 4.46-second and 4.48-second runs, respectively. Both moved well and showed good footwork, but they struggled with catching the ball at times.

Jamal Adams out of Louisiana State University ran a slower 40-yard dash than other top safeties at 4.56 seconds, but he has a good family tree, with his father, George Adams, being a former NFL running back. He could still run better on his Pro Day. Adams looked faster than his 40-yard time during the on-the-field drills.

A ...

March 9, 2017

Congressman Thompson Asks Dept. of Homeland Security to Free Daniela Vargas

By adreher

Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) sent a letter to Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security John Kelly today regarding Daniela Vargas, the 22-year old undocumented immigrant detained in Jackson last week. Thompson's letter asks Sec. Kelly to ensure that his department "exercises available discretion and looks upon her case favorably."

Vargas is Thompson's constituent, and the congressman describes her story to Kelly, saying "Daniela is the kind of young person who, as President Trump put it, should be treated with 'great heart.'"

Thompson asks Kelly to release Vargas from detention while her case proceeds.

"I would also ask that any pending application for immigration benefits, including her DACA renewal, be expeditiously reviewed and favorably considered by your Department," Thompson's letter says. "Young people like Daniela are an important part of communities all over this country, and deserve a chance to pursue their American dream."

National law firms and advocacy groups filed a petition for Vargas' release on Monday, asking the U.S. District Court in Louisiana to stay her pending deportation so that the court can consider whether or not Vargas deserves a hearing before an immigration judge--or to be released from ICE's custody altogether.

Vargas is currently held in the LaSalle Immigration Detention Facility in Louisiana.

Read Congressman Thompson's letter here.

March 9, 2017

UMMC To Close 2 Jackson Wellness Centers

By adreher

The University of Mississippi Medical Center will close the University Wellness Center Downtown and University Wellness Center Northeast, both in Jackson, by April 1.

The press release from UMMC says the closures are due to "unanticipated cuts in patient care reimbursement and other budget reductions."

“We regret having to close these locations but our need to improve our finances leaves us little choice,” said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of UMMC’s health system said in a press release. “We are attempting to minimize impacts on employees and members through this transition.”

On Feb. 22, UMMC administrators announced that departments and units across campus must identify ways to reduce expenses and/or increase revenue by a net $24 million by June 30. For fiscal-year 2017, the two Jackson wellness centers are projected to lose a combined $400,000, a press release from UMMC says.

Both centers employ 36 staff members who will remain on the job through March 31 and can apply for openings at the three remaining University Wellness Centers in Madison, Brandon and off Lakeland Drive in Flowood. The Flowood location is the largest of the three and used by the most members. Employees work for Power Wellness, the company that manages the centers for UMMC.

Membership in the centers won’t change, and those using the two Jackson locations, located at 100 E. Capitol St. and 46 Northtown Drive, will continue to have full access to the other three centers.

March 8, 2017

City of Jackson Repairs Water Line, Issues Boil Water Notice

By adreher

The City of Jackson announced repairs to a 24-inch water line at Larson and Moody Streets today, and they have issued a boil water notice for the following areas:

 [1200-1399] High Street; 39202

 [600-199] Monroe Street; 39202

 [1200-1399] Harding Street; 39202

 Larson Street; 39202

 Vine Street; 39202

 Foley Street; 39202

 Harris Street; 39202

The advisory applies to about 50 connections on the city's drinking water system. Residents will be notified when the boil water notice is lifted.For more information, customers may call 601-960-2723 during business hours or 601-960-1778 (or 601-960-1875) after 4:00 p.m. and on weekends. Please note, this water line repair is not related to the water outage and repairs planned for this weekend.