Month: March 2018

Ducks’ Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard among position award winners

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Ohio — Oregon sophomores Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard were among five players honored Friday as the best players in the nation at their position in a handful of new awards from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the nfl wholesale jerseys Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Ionescu, who tallied six triple-doubles this season and already owns the NCAA career mark with 10, was the Nancy Lieberman point guard of the year, while the 6-foot-4 Hebard, who averaged 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds, was named the Katrina McClain power forward of the year. The duo led second-seeded Oregon to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season before losing to Notre Dame in the Spokane Regional final.

Victoria Vivians, who led Mississippi State to its second straight Final Four, was named the Ann Meyers Drysdale shooting guard of the year. The 6-1 senior leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 19.6 points. Vivians is shooting 48.5 percent from the field this season after hitting 37.1 percent as a junior.

UConn senior Gabby Williams, who has played in four Final Fours, is the Cheryl Miller small forward of the year. One of the most impactful players on both offense and defense, Williams averages 11.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.5 steals, while shooting 61 percent from the field.

South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, the consensus national player of the year, is the Lisa Leslie center of the year. The 6-5 senior, who was the espnW player of the year, ranked seventh in the nation in scoring (22.6 PPG), 11th in rebounding (11.8 RPG) and fifth in blocks (3.2 BPG). Wilson is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the April 12 WNBA draft.

Ionescu, Williams and Wilson were also espnW first-team All-Americans.

In collaboration with ESPN, the Naismith Hall of Fame and WBCA established four inaugural official nfl jerseys cheap women’s college basketball awards during the 2017-18 season to go along with the Nancy Lieberman point guard honor, which has been awarded annually since 2000.

The inaugural winners of the five positional player of the year awards were announced Friday during ESPN2’s telecast of the national semifinal games.

Teaira McCowan pushes Mississippi State to NCAA championship game

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Ohio — Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan was asked if she ever would have believed as a freshman that she’d play 45 minutes in a game. She gave a look like, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

When you’re 6-foot-7, running up and down, nfl jerseys china and getting beaten up by the defense, time can feel like it’s doubled. You can really get worn out. But McCowan is now a junior, has gotten very fit, and was ready to stay on court as long as it took to beat Louisville on Friday.

For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs won an overtime game in the national semifinals and will play for the NCAA championship. Last year, it was a dramatic buzzer-beater by point guard Morgan William that led Mississippi State over UConn.

This time, it was another guard, Roshunda Johnson, who had a big shot in the closing seconds of regulation, and the Bulldogs then closed out a 73-63 overtime victory against their fellow No. 1-seeded Cardinals.

This was a game that was tough to predict, because the teams were so similar. And it turned out to be just what most people expected: a back-and-forth, nerve-wracking exercise in perseverance.

In the end, the Bulldogs were able to get a few more big plays. And they had the “Big T,” who grabbed a Women’s Final Four-record 25 rebounds to go with her 21 points and three blocked shots.

McCowan now has an NCAA single tournament-record 92 rebounds, with one more game to add to that total. She has 28 double-doubles this season, which is an SEC record, putting her ahead of league all-time greats Sylvia Fowles of LSU and Murriel Page of Florida.

“As for rebounds, Coach always says, ‘Go get them all,’ ” McCowan said. “So that’s what I try to do.”

Coach Vic Schaefer smiled at that and said, “She’s coachable.”

The 37-1 Bulldogs’ only loss was in the SEC tournament final against South Carolina when McCowan got into foul trouble. That resulted in their lowest point total, 51.

Friday’s semifinal was against a very tough Louisville defense,nfl wholesale jerseys and it looked in the fourth quarter as if the Cardinals would prevail. They led by as much as seven with 7 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game. And senior Victoria Vivians, the Bulldogs’ top scorer this season, had four fouls.

Josh McDaniels: Gaining clarity on Pats future led to Colts about-face

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New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels publicly addressed his nfl authentic jerseys decision to back out of the Indianapolis Colts head-coaching job for the first time on Monday, telling The Boston Globe that everything changed two days after the Super Bowl when owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick clarified his situation with the team.

That included an adjustment to his contract, which had one year remaining, according to The Globe.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the future was,” McDaniels told the newspaper. “So, where did I fit in? Were there any plans? I just didn’t have much clarity on what my role was here moving forward. … Once I heard from Robert and Bill on that Tuesday, it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation. …

“When they kind of crystallized that — ‘Hey, here’s what we see going forward and here’s how we would like you to fit into it’ — it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘All right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.”

At the same time, McDaniels was given no assurances for the future, according to The Globe. McDaniels told the newspaper it “was as difficult a decision as I’ve ever made professionally.” He also said he spoke with the three assistant coaches who had been hired to be part of his Colts staff, all of whom are staying in Indianapolis.

“It was never my intention to go into this and put anybody in an awkward position or do any harm to anybody or do anything to hurt anybody’s career,” he told The Globe. “I just felt like once I knew the whole picture and I had the opportunity to make a decision, it was tough but I feel like I made the right one.”

McDaniels praised Colts general manager Chris Ballard, calling him an “incredible human being” and added, customized nfl jerseys cheap“Indianapolis did a tremendous job. They have a tremendous organization and I was lucky to be considered. I just think once I found out [the Patriots’ plans for me], I made the right decision for me and my family at this time.”

Teddy Bridgewater a gamble, but Jets GM happy to take that bet

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There’s no guarantee Teddy Bridgewater will play for the New York Jets.reebok nfl jerseys He basically missed two full seasons because of a horrific knee injury, so team officials have been careful not to build up expectations. At the same time, they’re cautiously optimistic.

“From a character, work-ethic standpoint, he’s a guy we’d like to take a bet on and see what he can do,” general manager Mike Maccagnan said Monday at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Florida. “If he can regain his previous form, it’s an extra bonanza for us. … It would be a good problem to have.”

The Jets were criticized in some circles when they signed Bridgewater and Josh McCown on the same day in free agency. Why two veterans? What happens when/if they draft a quarterback? How will they divide the practice reps? There was a lot of noise.

From the team’s perspective, Bridgewater was a no-risk addition. His one-year, $6 million contract includes only a $500,000 guarantee, so they can cut him in training camp with virtually no cap ramifications. If he recaptures his 2015 form, when he helped the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC North title, they’ll have a young quarterback (25) with upside.

The Jets suspect he’ll be ready for offseason practices, which begin in May, but there’s some question as to how much he’ll participate. Bridgewater himself said last week he’s “not comfortable” discussing his surgically repaired knee and the immediate plan.

“That injury may take some time to fully recover from,” Maccagnan said. “nfl authentic jerseys Any player you sign in free agency, there’s a bit of a reward-risk aspect to it. But we thought, in particularly with him, we can help him regain his previous form that he showed earlier in his career where he was a very good young quarterback.”

Bridgewater played only a handful of garbage-time snaps last season for the Vikings, so he’s very much a wild card. How he progresses likely will impact Christian Hackenberg (remember him?), who will be a goner if Bridgewater proves he’s healthy and they draft a quarterback with the No. 3 pick.

Yuli Gurriel’s rehab from hand surgery ‘going better than expected’

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After several days of soft-toss batting practice sessions, Gurriel was scheduled to swing against a pitching machine Sunday.

“These next two days of hitting off the high-velocity machine nfl jersey wholesale will be a big test for him because that’s where the resistance will increase and so will his speed,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.

The 33-year-old Gurriel underwent surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand on Feb. 28.

Gurriel will remain in West Palm Beach when the rest of his Astros teammates break camp on Sunday. If he continues to progress, he could see time in minor league games in the coming days before rejoining the major league club.

“It’s the decision of the front office, but I feel pretty good, and the doctors have said my recuperation is going better than expected,” Gurriel said.

The World Series champion Astros open the season Thursday at Texas.

“We take a lot of pride in the way we play,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “When we go out there, we try to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spring training game or a regular-season game. We go out there and try to perform to the best of our abilities, and the outcome of that is going to be winning ballgames.”

Houston doesn’t have to officially announce its major league roster until Thursday,best nfl jerseys but the Astros effectively did so over the weekend by optioning Tony Kemp and Tyler White to the minor leagues and telling J.D. Davis that he will be a member of the Opening Day roster.

Dusty Baker back with Giants as special adviser to CEO

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Sixteen years after they let him go as manager, Dusty Baker has rejoined the San Francisco Giants and will serve as a special adviser to CEO Larry Baer, the team announced Monday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dusty back to the organization,” Baer said in a statement. “In addition to being one of the most beloved Giants alumni, Dusty brings a wealth of expertise, knowledge and experience to this position and I know his contributions nfl authentic jerseys cheap will be felt far and wide throughout our organization.”

Baker will work with Baer in both the baseball and business operations of the club.

Baker managed the Giants from 1993-2002, when the club lost to the wild-card Angels in Game 7 of the World Series after squandering Game 6. His son, Darren, is a freshman baseball player at the University of California in Berkeley and Baker has been a regular at his games.

“He’s a friend and manager who can add to what we’re hoping to do, and that’s get better here with new ideas, or talking to the guys,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before an exhibition game against the Athletics. “With Dusty, he’s a guy that I’ve always revered and respected. We’ve managed against each other now for more than 20 years. He lives in Sacramento, so he’ll be close. I had a chance to talk to him a little bit today. He did a lot here for the San Francisco Giants and I’m glad to see Dusty back here and helping. We welcome him with open arms and look forward to talking to him during the season.”

After a contentious departure from the Giants, Baker went on to manage the Cubs for four seasons before a stint with the Reds from 2008-13 and then two years as Nationals skipper leading Washington to a pair of NL East titles.

Baker’s contract was not renewed after 10 seasons with the Giants despite guiding the team to its first World Series in 13 years.nfl jersey wholesale Baker became the first manager in nearly three decades to leave a team right after reaching the World Series.

He and former owner Peter Magowan feuded, and the tension simmered all that season. Baker was credited by many observers for his ability to handle a difficult clubhouse that included feuding stars Barry Bonds — who went on to become the home run king — and Jeff Kent.

Ravens could draft QB in first round, or simply want others to think that

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If the Ravens don’t plan to take a quarterback with their first pick, it would be advantageous for them to make other teams believe they might do so. Baltimore would want as many quarterback-needy teams to jump in the top half of the first round because that will push other top prospects down.

Under the assumption that the Ravens don’t have any quarterbacks among their top 10 prospects, it would be beneficial for them if five quarterbacks — Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson — all went in the first 15 picks. cheap nfl jerseys china nike That could require a team looking for a quarterback of the future like the Los Angeles Chargers (No. 17), New Orleans Saints (No. 27) or Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 29) to jump in front of Baltimore.

If any of those teams feel the Ravens will grab a quarterback, they might trade up into the top half of the first round, which would cause another non-quarterback prospect to slide. In this scenario, Baltimore would have one of its top 11 prospects fall to No. 16.

The buzz about Baltimore drafting a quarterback in the first round increased when NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah (a former Ravens scout) linked the team with Mayfield in a mock draft. Given that and the fact Baltimore can financially part ways with Flacco in 2019, there has been increasing talk that the Ravens will select a quarterback in the first round for the first time in a decade.

But the prevailing sentiment coming from the Ravens this offseason has been they’re not in the market for the next franchise quarterback in this draft. Last month, owner Steve Bisciotti shot down the notion that the Ravens were beginning to think about life after Flacco, saying, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” In January, coach John Harbaugh was the first to indicate the team could draft a quarterback this year but said the Ravens would be “looking for a young backup.”

This makes it sound like Baltimore is more apt to go with a developmental quarterback in the third to fifth rounds. Quarterbacks expected to be taken in the middle rounds include Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, Washington State’s Luke Falk and Marshall’s Chase Litton.
Even if the Ravens are truly open to drafting a quarterback in the first round if he is the right one, nfl jerseys cheap china the odds of that happening aren’t great unless Baltimore is going to trade up. Darnold and Rosen are considered locks to go in the first four picks, and Allen and Mayfield are projected to go in the top 15. Barring any surprises, the only quarterback among the top five who could be available when the Ravens are on the clock is Jackson, and some draft analysts believe the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner should go later in the first round.

McCutchen hopes meetings with players show refs’ commitment

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As Monty McCutchen visits NBA teams on behalf of referees, he’s hearing plenty of what he calls constructive criticism, delivered in a professional way.

“That’s exactly what we’re hoping to attain on the floor, is that no one is asking everyone to agree, no one is asking for there not to be constructive criticism,” McCutchen said. “What we are trying to achieve is the sense of how to disagree respectively, how to disagree with an empathy and understanding.”

McCutchen left his job on the floor this season to become the league’s vice president and head cheap nike nfl jerseys china of referee development and training. With some high tensions with both players and coaches, he and head of referee operations Michelle Johnson have been conducting respect-for-the-game sessions with each team in hopes of creating a stronger working relationship.

He believes the meetings are going well, that players are seeing the commitment of the officials to have better communication.

Though some players have complained that referees won’t engage in discussions with them on the court, McCutchen doesn’t believe relations have worsened this season, echoing comments made by commissioner Adam Silver at the All-Star break. Yet it seems otherwise sometimes, with coaches Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy and Alvin Gentry all fined by the league over the past week for criticizing officials.

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, whose team was visited by McCutchen before playing the New York Knicks last week, said the respected referee can make things better, calling him a great ambassador and teacher.

“You could argue he was the top official in the game, but the job that he has taken on is a very important one because now he has a chance to impact so many other officials,” Carlisle said. “And the other reason that he is a great person for this position is he’s a great communicator. Always has been. He can carry the message to officials, he can help convey the message to players and coaches of the importance of constructive communication, how to diffuse the emotion in difficult situations.”

Representatives of players and officials met during the All-Star break and McCutchen has taken cheap nfl jerseys china nike the lead from there for the officiating side. Like with any relationship that has struggled, he said repairs start with better communication.

He praised veteran players who have spoken up in the sessions on behalf of their clubs, and believes the discussions will pay off, even if it isn’t easy to see that right away.

“What I am sure of is that we are willing to do our work,” McCutchen said. “We are willing to re-examine how we can better the game that we serve, and from that perspective the players’ commentary has received a reasonable ear from us. We hear you and we’ll work on it.”

Chase Daniel: Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky up to challenge of Matt Nagy’s offense

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The 23-year-old Chicago Bears starting quarterback produced only mixed results as a rookie, passing for 2,193 yards (59.4 completion percentage), 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions over 12 starts, but better days may be on the horizon.

Part of last year’s problems stemmed from Trubisky’s inexperience. nfl jersey wholesale The second overall pick of the 2017 draft started only 13 games in college at North Carolina before he left for the NFL.

Trubisky’s supporting cast of wide receivers and tight ends also didn’t help much. Chicago’s best two skill-position players — outside of running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen — were Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller, both of whom suffered serious knee injuries in 2017. Kendall Wright led all Chicago wide receivers with 59 catches. The next closest, Joshua Bellamy, had only 23 receptions. Miller topped all Bears tight ends with 20 catches, and he missed the final eight games due to injury.

As far as the offense in general, the Bears ranked 29th in points scored (16.5), 30th in total yards (287.4) and dead last in passing yards (175.5).

Chicago attempted to right some of those wrongs in free agency by signing wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton, all of whom are expected to create favorable mismatches for Trubisky.

The Bears also upgraded their offensive system when they hired Matt Nagy away from Kansas City.

Nagy’s offense is likely to put more stress on Trubisky, whose strengths appear to be athleticism, mobility and accuracy when rolling outside of the pocket. But Chicago — by virtue of where they drafted the quarterback — clearly feels Trubisky can handle the increased responsibility.

“[Matt Nagy’s system] puts a lot on the quarterback,” said new Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel, nfl jersey for cheap who played under Nagy in Kansas City.

“Just barely talking to Mitch right after I signed [last week], he’s up for the task, and that’s something that, I think, when a quarterback takes accountability in any offense, especially this offense, it’s going to thrive and the players are going to gravitate toward him like they already have toward Mitch.”

How the Giants’ front seven might take shape without Jason Pierre-Paul

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The New York Giants’ defense is going to have an extremely different look this season. reebok nfl jerseys The final defensive staple linked to their Super Bowl past was removed Thursday with the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Giants’ longest-tenured projected defensive starter is now Landon Collins, the 24-year-old Pro Bowl safety. It feels like just yesterday that the team was trading up in the 2015 draft to select Collins out of the University of Alabama with the first pick of the second round.

In this busy offseason, already Pierre-Paul has been traded, defensive captain Jonathan Casillas is not expected to return as a free agent and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was a salary-cap casualty. The defense under new general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur is in the midst of a much-needed mini-facelift, with more likely to come.

Part of the overhaul is a scheme change. The Giants are no longer running the attacking 4-3 defense of Steve Spagnuolo. Under new coordinator James Bettcher, they’re expected to employ some sort of 3-4 base defense that also will include 4-3 concepts.

Still, it was hard to imagine Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon as the outside linebacker combination given that both are every-down pass rushers. And the Giants had never approached Pierre-Paul or Vernon about playing as a 3-4 defensive end.

It now appears as if Vernon and recently signed Kareem Martin will start as the Giants’ outside linebackers.nfl authentic jerseys cheap Martin is familiar with Bettcher’s attacking defense from their time together in Arizona. He could help ease the defense’s transition. Martin is one of two former Cardinals who might slip directly into starting roles.

With these new faces, a different scheme and no Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ defense won’t look anything like the unit that finished 31st in the NFL last season.