Redskins

Plenty of changes as Big 12 hoops season nears

Plenty of changes as Big 12 hoops season nears

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Bob Huggins is back in the Big 12, this time with West Virginia. TCU has joined the fold, too, and everyone else converged on the Sprint Center on Wednesday for the league's annual media day.

Which happened to be down the road from Missouri, a school no longer part of the league.

Yes, there's plenty of change in the conference this year. The Tigers and their high-octane offense are gone to the SEC along with Texas A&M, and in their place come the rough-and-tumble Mountaineers from the Big East and a Horned Frogs program rebuilding under Trent Johnson.

Billy Gillispie is gone after one messy season at Texas Tech, done in by an offseason of controversy that left untested and largely unknown Chris Walker to take over a program that appears to be in shambles.

Also gone is Frank Martin, the fiery former coach of Kansas State. Martin left for South Carolina - maybe he couldn't get enough of Missouri and Texas A&M - and in his place is Bruce Weber, who was unceremoniously dumped by Illinois as that program slid into mediocrity.

There is one thing that hasn't change, though: Kansas is still picked to win the league.

The Jayhawks will be reloading after losing bruising forward Thomas Robinson and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor to the NBA, but three returning starters and a crowded class of freshman were enough to make them the unanimous preseason pick to win the Big 12 for the ninth straight time.

``It's a great sense of pride, or source of pride for us,'' said Kansas coach Bill Self, who agreed to a new contract in the offseason that should keep him in Lawrence for the next decade.

``Our players don't want to be the team that doesn't win it. They put that pressure on themselves,'' Self said. ``There isn't a jubilation of winning the league that you might anticipate with our guys because they take the approach that this is their job. They're supposed to win.''

Until they lose, they'll keep getting picked first.

That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of programs, including the two newcomers, salivating at the opportunity to knock the Jayhawks from their comfy perch.

``We'd like to be the first team that doesn't have `Kansas' on its uniform to win this thing in a long, long time,'' Huggins said.

The Mountaineers gave Baylor everything it could handle in an overtime defeat early last season, and wound up winning 19 games and reaching the NCAA tournament, where they were ousted by Gonzaga. West Virginia lost leading scorers Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant, but return sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds and Deniz Kilicli, the senior who shaved his sensational beard this offseason.

Huggins is no stranger to the Big 12, either. He returned from exile after a rough ending to his tenure at Cincinnati by taking over Kansas State, which he placed squarely on the path toward success that Martin continued to walk even after ``Huggy Bear'' left to coach his alma mater.

``We're a lot like the other schools in the Big 12,'' Huggins said. ``We're a state university. We're a land-grant institution. We have great facilities. I think they did a great job of getting people who are like the schools already in the Big 12.''

With the exception of location.

``Someone asked who our biggest rival will be. I said, `Iowa State.' They're the closest,'' Huggins said. ``They're only 800-and-some air miles.''

Johnson won't have the same such trouble with TCU, smack in the middle of the Dallas metro area.

His biggest problem will be trying to make the Horned Frogs relevant.

The former coach of Stanford and LSU has taken over a program that joined the Big 12 largely because of the strength of its football team, even though TCU won 18 games last year. Johnson will certainly have a fertile recruiting base, and now has the cache of the Big 12 to lean on.

``It's an exciting time for TCU basketball,'' Johnson said. ``I've inherited a group of young men that have done an exceptional job of buying into everything that we've asked them to do.''

Walker said the same thing of the Red Raiders, who've had perhaps the roughest offseason.

Gillispie resigned under intense scrutiny on Sept. 20, citing health concerns and with the university investigating allegations that he mistreated some of his players. The former Kentucky and Texas A&M coach led the Red Raiders to an 8-23 record in his only season in Lubbock.

Walker is working under a six-month contract to serve as interim coach.

Martin walked away from Kansas State amid some controversy, too. Rumors persist that there was a significant rift with the administration, something both sides have denied. Weber was an unpopular hire among the fanbase after struggling his last couple seasons at Illinois, but he takes over a senior-laden Wildcats team led by Rodney McGruder that should push Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and the Longhorns for the regular-season title.

``You want to deal with the best,'' Weber said. ``You want that challenge, and that's the exciting part of it.''

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry - what does it mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry - what does it mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the Top  5 paid receivers in the NFL. They can also trade Landry, and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical, few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins, but certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. $$$$Wide Receivers$$$$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

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The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.