Capitals

Atlantic 10 handles realignment well

201210041225447294098-p2.jpeg

Atlantic 10 handles realignment well

NEW YORK (AP) College basketball has polls and RPIs to let you know which teams are having the best season. There isn't anything to rate the commissioners. If there was, Bernadette McGlade of the Atlantic 10 would be getting some first-place votes.

At a time in college sports when realignment has become part of the lexicon, some leagues come out in good shape with new members that change the outlook for the positive. That, however, usually involves football programs at the forefront.

Not the Atlantic-10.

``One of our biggest keys is we just focused on what are the core values of the conference,'' said McGlade, who is starting her 13th season as A-10 commissioner. ``We're a basketball-centric conference. We can't get distracted by all the other noise out there in the business.''

Those must have been some headphones she was wearing.

Temple announced it was leaving for the Big East in March, but the Owls would play one more season in the Atlantic 10. On May 4, Charlotte, which is just starting a football program, announced it would be moving to Conference USA, but again the 49ers would be staying put for the 2012-13 season.

That was two days after Butler, which had been to consecutive national championship games in 2010 and 2011, got the college basketball buzzing when it said it was leaving the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10. About two weeks later, the buzz turned to a roar when VCU, which had been in the Final Four in 2011, said it was leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the A-10. Both would be playing in their new conference this season.

``The year waiting was so important for us because the CAA rules say you can't play in the conference tournament that year,'' said VCU coach Shaka Smart, who became one of the most sought after coaches in the country when he led the Rams to the Final Four. ``It was huge for us to make the move right away. It was a bold decision by our administrators.''

There will be 16 teams in the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13. Forget the jokes about bad math and wrong names, the A-10 survived a summer of realignment as well as any league did, picking up two impressive new members without the league getting gutted.

``What we did, basically, was we knew if we were going to bring in any new members into the league it had to be institutions with a commitment to its men's basketball program and a broad-based athletic program as well,'' McGlade said Thursday at the league's media day at the Barclays Center. ``Given that was our fundamental principle, it was obvious of any institutions like that, Butler and VCU would be in the upper echelon of those programs.''

The A-10 has had at least three teams receive a bid to the NCAA tournament and it has had a team advance to the round of 16 in each of the last five seasons.

``Truly this is the next level,'' Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. ``A league loss on the road will no longer be treated catastrophically. The balance is outstanding. It will keep you up nights. The energy around the Atlantic 10, I've never seen it this high in October. It is extraordinary what the league administrators have done.''

The conference tournament moved from Atlantic City, where crowds were never really good, to the Barclays Center, the brand new arena located in Brooklyn and the home of the NBA's Nets. The A-10 announced this week that it has secured eight-year partnerships with ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Group for its television rights. The deals give the Atlantic 10 unprecedented distribution and marketing possibilities.

``This was an incredible league to start with,'' said Butler coach Brad Stevens, who has also been considered for several jobs after the consecutive championship game appearances. ``I hope we make it even better. I know VCU does, no question. This league will have multiple bids, the question is how many. Nobody will know that until March.''

Saint Joseph's, which has all five starters back from last season, was the preseason pick to win the Atlantic 10 with Saint Louis right behind.

The Hawks, who finished 20-14 last season, received 11 first-place votes and 434 points from the panel of coaches and media. The Billikens, who reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000, had 10 first-place votes and 432 points. They will not have coach Rick Majerus this season as he took a medical leave of absence in August while undergoing evaluation for an ongoing heart condition. Former Evansville and Army coach Jim Crews was named the interim coach.

VCU was picked third followed by Temple, Massachusetts, Butler, La Salle, Dayton, Xavier, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Charlotte, George Washington, Fordham, Rhode Island and Duquesne.

Rhode Island and Duquesne both have first-year coaches in Danny Hurley and Jim Ferry. Last year their teams at Wagner and LIU-Brooklyn were picked first and second in the Northeast Conference preseason poll. This season they were chosen Nos. 15 and 16.

``Looks the same as last year if you just hold the paper upside down,'' Hurley said with a laugh.

Quick Links

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

usatsi_10434054.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201