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Coach's return to Syracuse has Huskies hyped

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Coach's return to Syracuse has Huskies hyped

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Nearly eight years after Syracuse fired him, Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni returns to the Carrier Dome as the enemy on Friday night when he leads his Huskies against the Orange.

But who has time for reunion talk? Both teams simply need a `W.'

UConn (3-4, 0-2 Big East) desperately needs a conference victory and a loss for Syracuse (2-4, 1-1) would make reaching a bowl game a daunting task. The Orange would have to win four of its last five games, which include Louisville at home and Cincinnati and Missouri on the road.

Both teams are coming off tough losses. Temple spoiled UConn's homecoming last week with a 17-14 overtime win thanks to four missed field goals by Huskies kicker Chad Christen. Syracuse was victimized by four turnovers and a crucial blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown in a 23-15 setback at nationally ranked Rutgers.

So, to no one's surprise, Pasqualoni's emotions and the hype surrounding the reunion are the furthest thing from his mind these days.

``To tell you the truth, I haven't thought about it a great deal,'' said Pasqualoni, who won 107 games in 14 years at Syracuse but had more than his fair share of critics in his final seasons with the Orange, ``other than it's a big game in our conference and it's a big game for us.''

The Orange have only been to one bowl under coach Doug Marrone.

``Winning this game would make us 2-1 (in the Big East), which is huge,'' said Orange center Macky MacPherson, whose grandfather, Dick, coached the Orange in the 1980s and hired Pasqualoni as an assistant in 1987. ``(Pasqualoni on the other sideline) is not something I'm thinking about. It's not something I'm focused on. I'm focused on doing my job to the best of my ability.

``Come after the game, I'll go over and say hi, win, lose, or draw. But right now, I'm focused on winning the game, and I'm sure that's what Coach P. would tell you.''

The Huskies have won the last five games in the series, including 28-21 at home last fall in Pasqualoni's first year.

``I'm sure he wants to take care of us like he did last year,'' Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib said.

Connecticut will present a stiff challenge. The UConn unit, led by linebacker Yawin Smallwood (11 tackles for loss among his 75 stops) and defensive end Trevardo Williams (7.5 sacks), is ranked sixth nationally in total defense (261 yards per game), eighth in pass defense (161.6 ypg), and 13th in rushing defense (99.4 ypg).

``Playing a team like UConn, they're going to take advantage if you turn the ball over,'' MacPherson said. ``Turning the ball over is something that we're not going to accept this week, and we need our defense to create some turnovers, too, so we can get the turnover margin back on our side.''

That's been an Orange roadblock. Syracuse has allowed 10 more turnovers than it's gained, one of the worst marks in the nation. Although the Syracuse defense has been superb the past two games - it held Pitt star Ray Graham to 57 yards on 24 carries and Rutgers standout Jawan Jamison to 64 yards on 28 carries - the players know they need to create more mistakes by their opponents.

``That's the No. 1 thing. Got to get that turnover ratio shifted,'' Orange nose tackle Jay Bromley said. ``Whenever the ball's on the ground, it's ours. It has to be ours.''

Despite the presence of Pasqualoni, nobody is thinking about anything but winning.

``Friday night we have to get the ball rolling,'' UConn defensive tackle Ryan Wirth said. ``We have five more games. We still have a chance to do something good.''

That's the feeling on the other side, too.

``This half of the season is going to make or break us,'' Nassib said. ``You can't do anything about the first half now.''

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Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

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Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

On Monday, with the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Washington Capitals addressed a need for blue line depth by acquiring Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

But before you begin to analyze how the move impacts the Capitals' outlook heading forward, lets take some time to get to know the newest member of the Caps.

Who is Michal Kempny?

Michal Kempny is a 27-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic. He was born on Sept. 8, 1990 in Hodonin, a small town in southwestern Czech Republic near the border of Austria and Slovakia. Kempny began his hockey career playing for SHK Hodonin. Kempny knew very little english upon arriving to the NHL, but credited his girlfriend Showtime shows to helping him become more comfortable speaking the language. 

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What International Experience Does Michal Kempny Have?

Michal Kempny played professionally for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga and Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Kempny was a standout player on the international stage, playing for the Czech Republic U18, U20 and Men's National teams.

MORE ON THE TRADE: WHERE DOES KEMPNY FIT IN THE CAPS ROSTER

When Did Michal Kempny Make His NHL Debut?

Michal Kempny was signed to a one-year contract as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks in May, 2016 and made his NHL debut in October, 2016. Kempny scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 30, 2016 against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Kempny appeared in 50 games for the Blackhawks during the 2016-17 season, recording two goals and six assists. The Blackhawks re-signed Kempny to a one-year extension during the offseason. Kempny played in 31 games this season before being traded to the Capitals.

What Type of Hockey Player is Michal Kempny?

Kempny is a 6-0, 194-pound defenseman with a strong left-handed shot. Known for his play on the offensive end, Kempny was never able to gain the trust of Joel Quenneville on the defensive end. But Kempny has a good bit of offensive upside, thanks to his passing skills and strong shot, which is why the Blackhawks took a flier on him in the first place and why he was an ideal trade candidate for the Capitals. But again, Kempny's size is less than ideal for a top-tier blue-liner and while he doesn't shy away from contact, he is rarely much of a physical presence. 

What Does Michal Kempny's Contract Look Like?

Michael Kempny is set to become an unrestricted free agent the the end of the 2017-18 season and has a cap hit of just $900,000.

RELATED: TROTZ REACTS TO RACIAL COMMENTS MADE BY CHICAGO FANS

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

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Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

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