Wizards

Michigan wants to get Toussaint going on ground

Michigan wants to get Toussaint going on ground

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan has proven it can win by leaning on Denard Robinson's legs.

It happened again last week when Robinson ran for 245 yards at Purdue. The 25th-ranked Wolverines (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten) might be able to get away with just letting Robinson run against Illinois (2-4, 0-2) on Saturday at home.

To beat better teams, such as Michigan State next week, Robinson will have to make plays with his arm because teams will force him to pass.

``There is no question that's going to happen,'' Wolverines coach Brady Hoke acknowledged. ``People are going to make you.''

It will help Robinson, and the team, if handing off to Fitzgerald Toussaint becomes an effective option.

It hasn't been so far.

Toussaint ran for just 19 yards on 17 carries against Purdue and has just 169 yards rushing in four games this season after running for 1,091 yards last year. Michigan, especially its offensive line, is motivated to help Toussaint to get into a groove.

``As an offensive line, you definitely want to get the tailback going and moving people around and opening holes,'' center Elliott Mealer said. ``I think Purdue really gave us Denard and you have to be happy with that. If they are going to shut down the tailback runs, which I think they did a decent job at, we will take Denard. We have the luxury of having a playmaker back there.''

The Illini are happy to have quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase back in the lineup to make plays through the air and on the ground after being slowed by an ankle injury. Scheelhaase had 84 yards rushing, including a 5-yard touchdown, and 178 yards passing and another score in last week's 31-14 loss to Wisconsin.

Illinois, though, is still trying to find its stride under first-year coach Tim Beckham after winning seven games in each of Ron Zook's last two seasons. The Illini have lost their last three games by a combined score of 118-45 and the struggling team has already had a players-only meeting to try to sort things out.

``We kind of just had a talk of where we were last year and how we've fallen off of that, as far as just swarming the ball and being kind of a ferocious defense,'' safety Steve Hull said. ``I think we've kind of drifted away from that as of late.''

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has already had to say he stands behind Beckman, whose woes have been compounded by getting caught on camera chewing tobacco on the sideline.

``It's just a bad habit,'' Beckman said. ``I've talked to our athletic director concerning the situation. I apologize, it's a terrible habit. My father even texted me.''

Family members, fellow students and fans of Michigan's teams might be looking ahead to next week's highly anticipated matchup with the Spartans, who have won four straight in the series. The Wolverines insisted they've only been thinking about beating Illinois.

Michigan hasn't won a Big Ten title since 2004 and its leaders say they're ``100 percent focused'' on winning each week to end that drought.

``I'll answer all the questions you all want about Michigan State next week,'' offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said. ``Right now, my focus is Illinois.''

---

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

Quick Links

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

usatsi_10549712.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS