St. John's, Lavin sign good recruiting class

St. John's, Lavin sign good recruiting class

NEW YORK (AP) Christian Jones was the last man signed in St. John's eight-man recruiting class, and it doesn't bother him at all.

Even when a group is considered special, somebody has to be last.

``It didn't affect me being called that,'' said the 6-foot-7, 222-pound Jones after the Red Storm's final exhibition game. ``But I knew I came in as an underdog, the person nobody knew, the sleeper of the group.''

Those descriptions may be short-lived. The native of Arlington, Texas, who attended IMG Academy in Florida, is expected to start this season for the Red Storm. He'll be part of a freshmen front line that looks similar to ones during years of national prominence in the Big East.

``We're normally on the court together in practice and that will make it easier for us to play together from the start,'' said JaKarr Sampson, a 6-8, 204-pound forward who played at St. Vincent-St. Mary's in Akron Ohio (the school that gave us LeBron James) before prepping at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

The third member of the freshmen front line is 6-9, 223-pound Chris Obepka from Nigeria, who played at Our Savior New American on Long Island.

``Chris does his work on the defensive end, grabbing stuff in the air and blocking shot after shot,'' Sampson said before taking a jab at his teammate who was 8 of 9 from the field in an 87-36 exhibition win over Division II Concordia, Ill., most of them impressive moves that drew wild cheers from the crowd. ``And we have Mr. Highlights here doing his thing with dunks. There's a lot of energy around us.''

The Red Storm, who finished 13-19 last season, will need that energy in 2012-13 season along with solid rebounding, some outside shooting and much-needed leadership on a team that is one of the youngest in the nation for the second straight season.

``There are a number of areas where we need to improve and both exhibition games showed that,'' said Steve Lavin, who is starting his third season with the Red Storm.

Prostate cancer surgery and recovery limited him to four games last season, but he says he is cancer free.

``One positive this team has is that it looks to hit the open man and make that extra pass and that's a trait you have to have to be a successful basketball team,'' he said.

The Red Storm were picked 11th in the 15-team Big East in the coaches' preseason poll. There won't be a six-man rotation like last season. There are 10 players who will see minutes entering the season opener at home Tuesday against Detroit.

The number could grow when two of the main recruits - junior college transfers Marco Bourgault, a 6-6 native of France known as a 3-point specialist, and Orlando Sanchez, a 6-9 player from the Dominican Republic who has a solid all-around game - are declared eligible by the NCAA.

``I wouldn't want to get into a guessing game or speculate when the decision will be made,'' Lavin said. ``We have done everything we have been asked to and now it's in their hands to make the final decision.''

Two junior college transfers could add some experience to a team that really needs some.

``How quickly do we mature? Can we become a more seasoned team by January and February?'' Lavin asked. ``If we do have that ability, we can do some special things.''

One player who Lavin will rely on had a rough preseason, being pulled from one exhibition and kept out of the other. D'Angelo Harrison, who was selected to the Big East All-Rookie team last season, is the leader Lavin needs.

``He was on the bench and really had the right attitude,'' Lavin said of Harrison during the second exhibition game. ``You could bury yourself, but he's come back with what any coach would feel would help him through.

``He's a microcosm of the team - boundless energy trying to be used effectively.''

The Red Storm will have their coach for a full season. The freshmen front line allows players like sophomores Amir Garrett and Sir'Dominic Pointer to play on the wing and use their speed and agility. The juco transfers could make a huge difference offensively. Someone still has to step up as the precision shooter.

There are a lot of questions for St. John's. And some confident answers.

``There are some good players coming back like D'Angelo, our leading scorer,'' Jones said. ``And our new guys are pretty good.''

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

They said it could not be done, no No. 16 seed would ever beat a No. 1 seed. The odds would be too great and the obstacle too steep.

As we all know, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), just proved that all wrong.


All season the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers dominated their opponents. They dictated pace, held opponents to less than 55 points, and smothered teams by forcing turnovers.

The roles filled on Friday evening and with an up-tempo 74-54 victory, UMBC proved the impossible.

The hardwood is not the only place that UMBC owned last night, they grabbed headlines, attention, and thousands of fans (literally) on Twitter.

Someone grabbed a hold of the UMBC Athletics Twitter account and took the upset by storm.

It all started when Seth Davis poked the bear:

and they were relentless.

Oh yeah, I forgot Seth Davis:

Then they started get snarky and owning everyone:

As someone the graduated from a commuter school, I can relate:

More Seth Davis:

Back to Twitter:

I guess that application wave actually was a thing or people wanted to know what ‘UMBC’ stood for:

Game. Set. History.

Now here come the shots against other schools:

Yeah, don’t jump on this bandwagon Terps fans. Stay in College Park:

I did not take long for other social media icons to start reaching out:

Oh and Seth Davis eventually did apologize:

Started the night at 5,588 and jumped up to 51.7 K. No one cares what you think Steven:

If you liked what you saw thank Zach Seidel, not an intern, not a student athlete who provided those tweets last night.

Zach, you just earned yourself a raise and we’ll see you in the Second Round.