Temple coach to face his mentor as Owls meet UConn

Temple coach to face his mentor as Owls meet UConn

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni remembers when he and Temple's Steve Addazio would paint the lines on the football field before a game and wash the players' uniforms after it.

That was in the mid-1980s, when Pasqualoni was the head coach at Western Connecticut and hired Addazio to his first assistant coaching job.

``His guys always played hard,'' Pasqualoni said. ``You didn't have to worry about his position not knowing what to do or not playing hard or not acting the right way. He took great pride in that and you could see that certainly at every stop he's made. It was clear the Steve was going to be a very good coach.''

Addazio, a Connecticut native who also worked for Pasqualoni at Syracuse and coached his former high school team in Cheshire, will meet his mentor on the field for the first time as a head coach Saturday when he brings the Owls (2-2, 1-0 Big East) into East Hartford to face the Huskies (3-3, 0-1).

``Much of the way I approach things came from Coach Pasqualoni,'' Addazio said this week. ``Obviously we are two different people, but fundamentally there are some real core beliefs in there that I learned and adapted from him.''

It is homecoming week at UConn, but Addazio said he's not spending a lot of time reminiscing. Temple is coming off a big win over South Florida in its first game since returning to the Big East. A win at UConn would give the Owls their first road win of the season and its first ever back-to-back wins in conference play.

``I don't care who we're playing, I don't care where we are playing,'' Addazio said. ``I want to win a football game. I want our program to be 2-0 in the Big East. That's what I want, and I can't see anything but that right now.''

Connecticut is looking to stay above .500 and get its offense untracked after a disappointing 19-3 loss at Rutgers. The Huskies are ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, giving up just over 82 yards per game on the ground and 166 through the air. But they're putting up just under 20 points a game, and are ranked 110th in the nation in offense.

Tailback Lyle McCombs said the entire offense is embarrassed by that.

``We have such a great defense who fights and claws and gives us opportunities to win and we're just not capitalizing,'' he said. ``It's frustrating, but we just have to keep pushing through it, stay positive, so we can hold up our end of this.''

The Huskies also need to hold onto the football. UConn ranks 110th in the nation in turnover margin, while Temple ranks 10th.

``I can't play afraid or anything like that,'' said UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who threw four interceptions at Rutgers and has 10 on the season. ``But I also have to, when we're down in games, not force things.''

McCombs is expected to start Saturday after sitting out a quarter against Rutgers following a fight with his girlfriend that led to an on-campus arrest on a breach of peace charge. He also spent part of this week with a soft cast on a sprained left wrist suffered in the Rutgers loss.

Temple's top rusher, Matt Brown, suffered an ankle injury last week, but is also expected to play. Boston College transfer Montel Harris, coming off a hamstring injury, picked up the rushing load against South Florida, running for 133 yards in the win.

The Owls also had some legal problems off the field and will be without defensive tackle Kamal Johnson who was suspended and faces charges including kidnapping after a Sept. 27 incident involving his girlfriend. The school said Johnson will not practice or play while the charges are pending.

Temple owns an 8-4 record against UConn and beat the Huskies the last time the two programs met in 2010 in Philadelphia.

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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