Wizards

Ex-Vol WR Rogers trying to make most of 2nd chance

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Ex-Vol WR Rogers trying to make most of 2nd chance

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers said he is maturing as a person. His football future depends on it.

The former all-Southeastern Conference standout, who said he left Tennessee after being suspended for positive drug tests, continues to show there is no question about his ability.

Rogers has 34 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns in Tennessee Tech's first five games. He already owns single-game school records for catches and receiving yards.

``It's the same old me, just in a more mature sense,'' the former Tennessee star said. ``I have a different mentality about life and how you approach things.''

Nobody questions Rogers' talent.

He led the SEC with 67 catches and ranked second in the conference with 1,040 receiving yards to earn all-conference honors with the Volunteers last season. Rogers was expected to team up with Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson this year to give Tennessee one of the nation's most dynamic receiving units.

Those plans unraveled less than two weeks before the start of the season when Rogers was suspended indefinitely. His transfer to Tennessee Tech was announced four days later. Because Tennessee Tech is a Football Championship Subdivision program, Rogers was eligible to play for his new team immediately.

Rogers remains a legitimate NFL prospect because of his rare combination of size (6-foot-3 and 206 pounds) and athleticism, but he can't repeat the mistakes that caused his move from the SEC to the Ohio Valley Conference. As a junior, Rogers would be eligible to enter the draft next year.

``It's your second chance, but it's your last chance,'' Rogers said.

His new teammates and coaches say he's making the most of it.

Rogers set school single-game records for catches (18) and receiving yards (303) two weeks ago in a 41-38 double-overtime loss to Southeast Missouri State. He is putting up his impressive stats despite facing constant double-teams and occasional triple-teams.

Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, who coached Atlanta Falcons star Roddy White at UAB, said he has never seen one receiver get this much attention from opposing defenses.

``No one can guard him in this league one-on-one,'' Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb said. ``They know that. We're pretty much playing 10-on-9 because they have to put two people on him.''

Brown said Rogers also is making the right decisions off the field.

Before adding Rogers to the team, Brown spoke with Tennessee Tech's seniors to make sure they had no problem with it. Brown then established ground rules with Rogers, though they won't specify the nature of those conditions.

``He's been perfect off the field,'' Brown said. ``He's gone to class. He's doing what he's supposed to do. It's been fantastic. We've had not one issue with Da'Rick whatsoever. He's trying his best to mature.''

Rogers picked Tennessee Tech in part because of his familiarity with the roster. He played at Calhoun (Ga.) High School with Lamb and Tennessee Tech running back Adam Urbano. Lamb's father is Calhoun High coach Hal Lamb, who spoke with Brown before the transfer was finalized.

``I think being dismissed by Tennessee has really opened his eyes,'' Hal Lamb said. ``For him to get to the next level, which has been his goal since Day One, he was going to have to straighten up and start doing things the right way.''

Having friends on Tennessee Tech's offense helped Rogers adapt. Three days after his transfer was announced, Rogers caught a touchdown pass in a victory over Hampton.

``It goes a long way,'' Rogers said. ``I'm not concerned coming in what's my quarterback going to be like, what's my running back going to be like. I'm good with that. The only thing I have to focus on is staying clean, staying straight with everything that's going on, learning the playbook and making plays for my team.''

The biggest adjustment involves his surroundings.

After performing in a stadium with a seating capacity of 102,455 last year, Rogers has played in front of fewer than 10,000 fans in three of his first five games this season.

``Football's football,'' Rogers said. ``You just line up and play ball. But you can never replace the atmosphere, the Vol Walk and all those things. Running through the `T' (with) 100,000 people screaming, it gets pretty crazy. That's the biggest thing. It took a while to adapt, but it's been good here. Everyone here has welcomed me as family.''

One thing his new team and old team have in common is both are winless in conference play. While Tennessee has lost its first two SEC games without Rogers, Tennessee Tech (2-3, 0-2 Ohio Valley) has struggled as its injury-ravaged defense has allowed 43.8 points per game.

Rogers believes his new team will improve, and he also continues to follow his former squad. But he still hasn't contacted any Tennessee coaches to establish closure in that relationship.

``I haven't talked to them,'' Rogers said. ``I probably will along down the line as the season's ended. Right now, I'm just letting the coaches do their thing.''

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.