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Misfortune follows Von Miller from Denver to Hollywood

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Misfortune follows Von Miller from Denver to Hollywood

After Von Miller left his Russian sable hat and the tears behind in Denver following his trade from the Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams, he cracked, “I went to bed 4-4 and woke up 7-1.”

Talk about a Hollywood ending for the Super Bowl 50 MVP.

He figured he had Super Bowl 56 in his sights just like he did Cam Newton all afternoon all those years ago when he kept separating the football and the Lombardi Trophy from the Carolina quarterback’s grasp.

An encore, however, seems to be slipping away from Miller’s clutches, just like so many quarterbacks of late.

L.A. has been more dystopia than utopia for Miller, even with Odell Beckham Jr. working his way out of cloudy Cleveland and teaming up with him in sunny Southern California.

The Rams haven’t won since Miller’s arrival.

The drought began with a 28-16 loss to Tennessee at home when Miller sat out with a bum ankle that also forced him to miss his final game for the Broncos. He made his nondescript Rams debut in a 31-10 loss at San Francisco a week later, and finally made his mark in L.A.’s 36-28 loss at Green Bay on Sunday.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t for a sack — he hasn’t had one of those since sharing a takedown of Ravens QB Lamar Jackson with McTelvin Agim way back on Oct. 3 — but for his late helmet-to-jaw hit on Aaron Rodgers that drew a 15-yard penalty.

Miller has just half a sack since September, when he had four sacks and won the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month award in his return from an ankle injury that cost him all of 2020.

He has lost the last six games he has played in, and his former teammates in Denver are riding high after winning three of four without him, including a victory over Washington that he sat out, a signature victory at Dallas and a thumping of the Chargers on Sunday that tightened up the AFC West.

While the Rams (7-4) are still sitting pretty in the NFC playoff picture despite being two games behind the Cardinals in their division, the Broncos (6-5) can surge into the AFC West lead with a win Sunday night at Kansas City (7-4).

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It’s a sunny Big West season, so far, for Anosike and Cal State Fullerton

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It’s a sunny Big West season, so far, for Anosike and Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton played at Northern Arizona in December, on one of those days when it seemed like the North Pole.

E.J. Anosike shivered and looked at the sky. Snow was imminent. Anosike remembered how nice it looks until it starts invading your socks. He gave the side-eye to CSF coach Dedrique Taylor.

“I didn’t come out here for this,” Anosike told him.

He came “out here” from Tennessee because he wanted a bonus year of college basketball, wanted to wave goodbye in a meaningful way, and without gloves.

He is the leading scorer in the Big West and a main driver of Cal State Fullerton’s 4-0 league record. The Titans won, 65-63, at UC Irvine Thursday night.

Anosike played three years at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., not terribly far from his home of East Orange, N.J. He went to Tennessee last year. Along the way he got a bachelor’s degree and an MBA.

Vincent Lee, Anosike’s partner in the post, came from Nevada. Tray Maddox Jr. came from Oakland U., near Detroit. Damari Milstead came from San Francisco. There are freshmen, too, but this is what college basketball is now. With no mandatory sit-out year, players are flying off the shelves.

A school like Cal State Fullerton and a league like the Big West wasn’t supposed to thrive this way. The case of Elijah Harkless, who went from CSUN to Oklahoma, was far more likely.

But players have their own motivations. They aren’t just names on a greaseboard.

Anosike knew the Titans because he knew Kyle Allman, the leader of the 2018 Big West championship team. And he knew that people often wear shorts on campus in January.

As Lute Olson said when he came to Long Beach State from Iowa, “I don’t have to scrape any of that ‘fair and warmer’ off my windshield.”

“I didn’t know anything about E.J. but when he became available we dug in our heels and looked at him,” Taylor said. “Location is important. We sell it. You can go an hour and a half one way and be in the snow if you want to, or you can go a half-hour the other way and be in the sand. Very few places can say that.

“The transfers bring maturity and professionalism. You see E.J. and he’s the same every day. He works. Our whole team is now emulating him.”

The Titans have the biceps and the composure of grown men. Anosike, at 6-foot-7 and 236, averages 18.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. As they got acquainted during non-conference season, they realized their wins would happen in the lane. They average about seven more foul shots than their opponents. At UCI they shot the first 16 free throws of the game.

But then Anosike had over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Sacred Heart, which plays in the Northeast Conference, a rough equivalent of the Big West. He also graduated in three years with a 3.57 GPA.

Tennessee was a natural next stop. Anosike’s sister Nicky was a teammate of Candace Parker’s in Knoxville and went to three Final Fours, winning two, while graduating with a triple major.

E.J., 12 years younger, was a ballboy for the Lady Vols. Nicky became a WNBA All-Star at Minnesota and was an L.A. Spark in 2012, and also played on national teams.

But E.J.’s year at Tennessee wasn’t as eventful. COVID-19 barred the fans, and Anosike averaged 8.6 minutes and 1.7 points.

“It was a great experience being around Nicky’s teams,” E.J. said. “I got to see what (coach) Pat Summitt was like. My mom saw a lot of herself in Pat, and they were close. I got to see what a woman’s empowerment can look like in a male-dominated industry.’

Nicky was a high school coach in Anderson County, Tenn. but resigned after a dangerous and difficult pregnancy.

“She’s the one who put the basketball in my hand,” E.J. said. “We’d go out to the park every Saturday. I finally sneaked a win against her when I was 14. After that, she didn’t want to play me anymore.”

But how disorienting are three different programs in different locales with different pressures and coaches?

“I’m just grateful to get to play five years,” Anosike said. “You find a family wherever you go.

“I’m not looking for the flashy, big-name stuff. You tune all of that out and you just focus on the actual playing, getting better on a daily basis. It’s really not that different. Just a different level.”

Wherever you go, there’s a trophy to win. Anosike wants sunshine to reflect off his.

 

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Two bodies found Friday morning in Douglas County residence

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Two Colorado corrections officers justified in shooting death of armed fugitive

Two people, a man and a woman, were found dead Friday inside a Douglas County home.

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Man faces first-degree murder charges for shootings at LoDo bar on New Year’s Day

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Two suspects arrested in death of 85-year-old man in Adams County

A man suspected of shooting two men to death on New Year’s Day in a Lower Downtown bar, and wounding two other people, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Levi Floyd Diecidue, 22, allegedly killed Devonte Phillips, 24, and Hiyaw Zewdie, 29, in a shooting at The Cabin Tap House, 1919 Blake Street. The bar’s license was suspended after the shooting.

Diecidue, according to the Denver District Attorney’s Office, faces charges felony charges of  murder after deliberation, murder with extreme indifference, attempted murder after deliberation, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, attempted first-degree assault with extreme indifference, and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. He appeared in court on Friday morning and was advised of the charges against him.

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