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Rutgers looks to cap season with bowl victory

Rutgers looks to cap season with bowl victory

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers accomplished one major goal this season, earning a share of the Big East title for the first time in school history.

Though a 20-17 loss to Louisville in the finale dashed the Scarlet Knights' hopes for the program's first BCS berth, the consolation prize of the Russell Athletic Bowl presents coach Kyle Flood and his players with an opportunity to add another accomplishment.

A victory over Virginia Tech on Friday would clinch a 10-win season, just the third since the program was credited with playing the first college football game against Princeton in 1869. It would also mark Rutgers' sixth straight bowl win dating to 2006.

``You got to move forward in life,'' Flood said. ``That (Louisville) game happened and we're not happy about it, but it happened. And now that's in the past. That game is a part of history and it is what it is. Now we move forward and we try to make more history. We have tremendous goals left for us to accomplish, and that's really where our focus is.''

The Scarlet Knights (9-3) lost their last two games, but they're still playing in the most prestigious postseason game in school history.

``The game on Friday, for me, is going to mean everything,'' said Khaseem Greene, a fifth-year senior linebacker who earlier this month earned AP All-America third-team honors. ``It is going to be a legacy, another chapter for me being closed and another chapter for this program, this family, being closed. It will definitely set us apart from everybody. It's going to determine if we're a good team or a great team.''

For Flood, it marks his first bowl game as head coach. He served as an assistant in Rutgers' six bowl games under his predecessor, Greg Schiano. Flood took over after Schiano left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in late January.

With a win over the Hokies, Flood would become the only first-year coach to win 10 games in Rutgers history. Virginia Tech (6-6) is playing in its 20th straight bowl game.

There's a chance the Russell Athletic Bowl will be Rutgers' final game as a member of the Big East. The Scarlet Knights announced their plans to defect from the conference - of which they have been a member since 1991 - to join the Big Ten on Nov. 20. And while school officials are targeting 2014 as the arrival date, other developments could expedite Rutgers' departure.

If the Knights do remain in the Big East for the 2013 season, they should be one of top contenders to win the league's BCS bid in its final season as an automatic-qualifying conference. Rutgers graduates several defensive mainstays - including Greene, the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year - but could welcome back as many as 14 starters, including sophomore quarterback Gary Nova, leading rusher Jawan Jamison and leading receiver Brandon Coleman.

A victory this week in Orlando could set the tone for an important offseason.

``That will send the seniors off the right way and get the younger guys and guys in recruiting, just send a good vibe for next year,'' said Nova, who has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,566 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. ``We've got a lot of talent coming back.''

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Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LeBron James, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT (pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington Plus)
Live stream: TNTdrama.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Back in action

The Wizards return to the court after a week-long layoff due to the All-Star break. Add in the fact that they had three days off before their last game and this will be just the second game for the Wizards in the last 12 days. What is this, football?

The Wizards will try to overcome the rust to keep their momentum going. They entered the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games. Though the time off was needed due to a wide array of injuries, the Wizards had a good thing going and will aim to recapture that against a good Cavs team.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Tough stretch

The Wizards come back with a game against the Cavs, a difficult first assignment after such a long layoff. But this is just the beginning of what will be a very difficult part of their schedule. In their next 17 games, the Wizards will play 15 times against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs and Raptors.

The schedule is tough beyond their opponents. Four times in the next three weeks they will play back-to-back games and they have five games in the next seven nights. Hopefully the players recharged their batteries because it won't be easy.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

New-look Cavs

The Wizards and Cavs have played twice this season already and Cleveland took both of those matchups. However, that was all before the trade deadline when the Cavs overhauled their roster. They have won all three of their games since and look rejuvenated with younger players.

Now surrounding LeBron James are a host of new faces like George HIll, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards match up with this new group.

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

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