Seminoles hope to regain early season form vs Duke

Seminoles hope to regain early season form vs Duke

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) No. 11 Florida State heads into the final third of its schedule trying to cure a midseason bout of sloppiness.

The Seminoles lost two of their five fumbles last week. There was also a shanked punt and a dozen penalties that cost them another 121 yards in a sluggish 33-20 win at Miami.

``Some things they inflicted on themselves, some things they didn't,'' Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. ``There are elements in the game that you can't control.''

The Seminoles (7-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are changing their punt returner for Saturday's game against Duke (6-2, 3-1), which leads the ACC's Coastal Division. Sophomore defensive back Tyler Hunter will take over the punt return duties from Rashad Greene in a significant lineup change this week by Jimbo Fisher.

``Punt returns we've got to get fixed,'' Fisher said.

Greene, who leads the Seminoles' receivers with 27 catches this season, had averaged 15.8 yards on punt returns and scored twice, but was inconsistent in fielding some punts.

Fisher, however, pointed to his team's resilience in overcoming so many mistakes and erasing an early 10-0 deficit.

``We overcame penalties ... losing our best offensive football player 20 plays into the game ... and still had 450 yards of offense and scored over 30 points,'' Fisher said, referencing the second quarter season-ending injury to tailback Chris Thompson.

``We haven't done that here for a long time in the past,'' Fisher said. ``Other teams out there, good teams, don't always do that.''

The Seminoles are the third most penalized team in the ACC and sixth in turnover margin.

Fisher is confident there won't be any noticeable drop off at tailback since sophomore James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman both had so much playing time a year ago after the speedy Thompson was sidelined early in the season with a potentially career-ending back injury. Wilder and Freeman have combined for 656 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. Wilder has also caught two TD passes.

``We know how good they are,'' said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who is particularly familiar with Freeman who ran for 109 yards and a touchdown in Florida State's 41-16 win at Duke last year. ``It's not going to change their offensive system at all.''

Cutcliffe said like most good teams, Florida State is deep across the board.

``I don't think I've seen a more complete team in a number of years,'' Cutcliffe said the ACC's weekly coaches' conference call.

``We'll keep a good rotation,'' Fisher said, noting that fullback Lonnie Pryor will likely get more opportunities as well.

The Seminoles are a four touchdown favorite in their penultimate home game of the season. Florida State has been especially dominant at home, averaging 55.4 points a game, compared to the 26.7 points they've averaged in road games.

But it's been the teams they are expected to beat during the Fisher era that have caused the most heartache for the Seminoles and their fans. Though Duke hasn't been one of them - the Blue Devils have never beaten Florida State regardless of Seminole mistakes.

Still, Florida State isn't taking the surprising Blue Devils lightly - there's always a first time.

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.