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Temple wants to leave final A-10 season as champs

Temple wants to leave final A-10 season as champs

PHILADELPHIA (AP) For all the traditions associated with Temple, the loaded non-conference schedule has been as much a part of the Owls' DNA as their rugged North Philly roots.

Want No. 1 seeds? How about games against Kansas, Duke and Syracuse?

Tough outs from the double-digit underdogs? Detroit is there waiting for one more chance to knock off the Owls.

Those kinds of schedules, which started under Hall of Fame coach John Chaney and continue under to seventh-year coach Fran Dunphy, are always fun for fans, who don't have to suffer through a slate of softies. It's unpleasant for those heavyweights, though. Under Dunphy, the Owls beat No. 8 Tennessee in 2008, No. 3 Villanova in 2009, No. 9 Georgetown in 2010 and No. 5 Duke last season.

Those games are all in danger of leaving Temple's schedule after the Owls bolt the Atlantic 10 for the Big East following this season. Temple's 31st season in the mid-major conference will be its last, swapping games with St. Bonaventure, Fordham and Rhode Island for regular dates with Louisville, Marquette and Georgetown. The Owls will lose all but one of those Mid-American Conference games they were obligated to play because of the football program's former affiliation with the league - but it likely spells the end of boosting their RPI with December games more fitting for late March.

``Our philosophy will change because of the kind of conference we're going into, which is arguably, still, with all the defections, the finest basketball conference in the country,'' Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw said. ``Our major games will be played January, February and the beginning of March more than they were in the Atlantic 10.''

Bradshaw said he'd like to schedule one home-and-home series with an elite program and fill in the rest of the schedule with a preseason tournament and some Big 5 games.

Yes, the Owls (24-8, 13-3 Atlantic 10) are headed toward a new era in hoops next season, and they're bringing along a sparkling $58 million practice facility that blows away anything else like it among the other five city schools.

They'd like to put one final A-10 trophy in the case before they leave the conference. No program has dominated the A-10 like the Owls since they joined in 1982. They made the NCAA tournament 12 times under Chaney and have five straight appearances with Dunphy. The Owls won a record nine Atlantic 10 tournament championships and won the outright regular-season title a year ago for the first time since 1989-90.

Even with Butler and VCU joining the conference this season, don't expect the rest of the teams to feel bad the Owls are flying the coop.

``We're leaving a conference that we have great relationships with, great rivalries over the years,'' Dunphy said. ``It's one of those things that happens in college sports and in life. Change happens and we have to react to that.''

Big changes are in store for the Owls with the losses of Micheal Eric, Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore, three pillars in Temple's return to national prominence over the last five years. The Owls, though, can offset the loss of all that scoring with perhaps Dunphy's deepest roster. The Owls will have three veterans in the lineup who didn't play a second last season: swingman Scootie Randall (redshirt/knee), guard Dalton Pepper (transfer, West Virginia) and forward Jake O'Brien (transfer, Boston University). Throw in Khalif Wyatt (17.1 points), forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, forward Anthony Lee and guard Will Cummings, and the Owls, picked to finish fourth in the A-10, could easily be in the hunt for one last championship.

``We just want to make it special,'' Wyatt said. ``We just want to make our mark on the league.''

Wyatt is the most intriguing Owl. His ability to score is a given and his consecutive 3-pointers in Temple's 78-73 win over the Blue Devils rocked the Wells Fargo Center. But he was benched three times because of violations of team rules, including the A-10 tourney loss to Massachusetts, and made national headlines in the summer when he was arrested on prostitution and resisting arrest charges in Atlantic City, N.J.

``I think he's paid a very steep price,'' Dunphy said, of Wyatt's embarrassment.

If Wyatt can get his act together off the court, that could mean bigger production on the court.

Dunphy will find a way to mesh the new faces with the familiar ones and put the Owls in position to clip the nets at the first A-10 tourney at the Barclays Center in New York. It's one reason why Dunphy was voted the most underrated coach in college basketball in a CBSSports.com poll of his peers.

His failures in the NCAAs have largely overshadowed his 444 career wins with Penn and Temple.

``He may be underrated because he hasn't had that much success in the tournament,'' Wyatt said. ``But coach Dunphy is one of the best coaches in the country.''

Temple's traditional first-weekend NCAA exit (1-5) under Dunphy continued with a loss to South Florida following a one-and-done in the A-10 tourney.

``Is it helping us motivationally? Yeah, it is, because we finished poorly and we don't ever want to do it again,'' Dunphy said.

One deep run in March could be the perfect way to say goodbye to the A-10.

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

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

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

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.