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New facilities give hope to new Nebraska's coach

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New facilities give hope to new Nebraska's coach

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) First-year coach Tim Miles will try to turn around a long-languishing Nebraska men's basketball program that hasn't won a share of a conference championship since 1950, made it to the NCAA tournament since 1998 or had a winning conference record since 1999.

Patience will be required. The Huskers return only one starter from the Doc Sadler-coached team that finished 12-18 and tied for 11th in the Big Ten.

``There's never been a better time to be the coach at Nebraska,'' Miles said with a straight face.

Athletic director Tom Osborne hired Miles from Colorado State and gave him the longest contract for a coach in any sport in Nebraska history. The seven-year deal pays $1.4 million to start and increases to $2.15 million by 2018-19.

Miles is taking over a year after the opening of a $20 million practice facility and a year before the $179 million, 16,000-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena opens, replacing the 36-year-old Devaney Sports Center.

An impressive list of recruits has toured the facilities since Miles' hiring last spring, though no blue-chippers have committed yet.

The Huskers are led by 6-foot-10 forward Brandon Ubel (6.7 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), the only returning starter, and five other players who had significant minutes last season. Andre Almeida, a 6-11, 314-pound center, and guard Ray Gallegos join Ubel as the only seniors.

``You go as far as your seniors will take you,'' Miles said. ``If their buy-in is good and their mental capacity for a learning curve is good, they're going to pick up a new system and all the stuff that goes with that. You're going to be further down the road.''

The Huskers are picked 12th in the Big Ten, largely because it's possible they will have as few as eight scholarship players active. Miles is so short of bodies that he plans to hold an open tryout this week and possibly add another player or two.

``I like this group - they're hard working - but we've got a lot of work to do,'' Miles said. ``We've got some good players. We just need to add to it.''

The facilities upgrades illustrated the administrative support for a program that had long been ignored at football-first Nebraska.

Miles noted that officials from the Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets toured the practice facility recently to get ideas for their own buildings. The $200 million arena is downtown, just west of campus, and is being built in partnership with the city of Lincoln.

``It's going to be an amazing place,'' Miles said, ``and when you combine those two within two years of each other, it's an amazing physical capacity of what we're doing. We've just got to get some guys and have some fun with it.''

The Huskers probably will take their lumps in their second season in the Big Ten, not much different than their first. They sustained losses of 34 and 31 points against Ohio State, 28 at Michigan State and 24 to Wisconsin at home.

Their season highlight was a one-point home win over an 11th-ranked Indiana team in January.

Though Barry Collier and Sadler tried, Nebraska hasn't had a sniff of sustained success, modest as it was, since Danny Nee coached in Lincoln in the 1980s and `90s.

With the practice facility and new arena, Miles said, things are changing.

``Peel back the onion,'' he said. ``Volleyball is great, wrestling is in the top 10, track and field is good, women's gymnastics won the Big Ten last year. You don't have to go far to see our athletic department through-and-through is outstanding. Women's basketball has been terrific. We need to get men's basketball up and running where it should be.''

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 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.

The Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON