Redskins

Up-and-down Georgetown trending up again

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Up-and-down Georgetown trending up again

WASHINGTON (AP) To stop being up and down, Georgetown is getting up and down.

Few teams have been more maddeningly inconsistent this season than the Hoyas, who have mixed strong performances against highly ranked teams with games that have been almost too painful to watch.

``It might be just one of those inconsistent years,'' co-captain Markel Starks said Tuesday. ``And you never know - it could come out for the better, it could come out for the worse. But hopefully sometime soon we figure out where we are as a team, and we just stay there.''

The recent arc has been a positive one. After starting 0-2 in Big East play for the first time in 11 years and losing forward Greg Whittington for academic reasons, Georgetown (14-4, 4-3) has won four of five, including back-to-back wins over then-No. 24 Notre Dame and then-No. 5 Louisville as they head into Wednesday's home game against Seton Hall.

``We know we can play with anybody,'' said Otto Porter, the team's leading scorer, ``but we've got to remain consistent.''

The key, if the last few victories are any indication, is that the Hoyas play better when they play faster. With Porter and Starks the only reliable scorers in a half-court setting, Georgetown has been creating more up-tempo chances through better defense and rebounding.

``We have guys that can run,'' Starks said. ``And at any given time, we want to run.''

Whittington was Georgetown's second leading scorer. He's still practicing with the team and his return hasn't been ruled out, but the Hoyas have to carry on as if he won't come back. His absence has forced coach John Thompson III to rely more on a bench that was already thin, and to play smaller more often.

Whereas sometimes the Hoyas would have four forwards and one guard on the floor earlier this season, it's now just as likely to see four guards complementing the versatile 6-foot-8 Porter.

``I thought we had five guards,'' quipped Thompson, who doesn't like to apply guard-forward labels to his Princeton-style offense. ``Because I consider Otto a guard.''

But defense and rebounding can only take a team so far. The Hoyas could use a third scorer to replace Whittington's points. A promising candidate is freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who is averaging nearly 12 points over the last three games.

Thompson said it's not unusual to have to adjust on the fly during a season, especially with a team that starts three sophomores and two juniors, but any dispassionate look at Georgetown's results shows extremes that would try any coach's patience. The same Hoyas who beat UCLA and took Indiana to overtime in November later scored 37 points in a win over Tennessee and 48 and 45 in losses to Marquette and Pittsburgh.

``We've had bad days where we've had losses and bad days where we've had victories,'' Thompson said. ``We've had good days where we've had losses, and good days where we've had victories.

``A lot of that happens when you don't have seniors. In many ways our sophomore class is like the core of a lot of things that we're doing. And you forget that they're sophomores. They're still learning, they're still growing, and all of a sudden all those roles are different than what they were last year.''

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Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

It's been widely presumed by Redskins fans, draft experts and many others across the league that Washington is expected to use the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.

The 20-year-old is considered a generational talent and one of the best prospects in recent memory. Dwayne Haskins has vowed for the Burgundy and Gold to draft his Ohio State teammate. Derrius Guice has tweeted it too

But NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms is not sure that's the move the right move for the Redskins come April's draft.

"I don't think Chase Young is a lock for the Washington Redskins," Simms said.

Entering the 2019 season, the defensive line was expected to be the strongest position group for the Burgundy and Gold. But the unit, like many others on the team, failed to meet the lofty expectations, and the entire defense struggled as a whole.

But the group is still full of talent. Ryan Kerrigan, should he return in 2020, has been one of the NFL's premier pass rushers since he entered the league in 2011. Washington invested a first-round pick on Montez Sweat a year ago, and the team hopes he can make a large impact in Year 2.

On the interior, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are first-rounders that have become staples upfront. Matt Ioannidis was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and is under contract for two more years.

"The Redskins defensive line is real already," Simms said. "Do they want to put another asset in there? You just got a rookie first-rounder in Montez Sweat. Ryan Kerrigan is still there. You got the Alabama boys in the middle with [Jonathan] Allen and Daron Payne. That's a pretty good front four."

The Redskins defensive struggles in 2019 can be attributed to the scheme former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky ran. The 3-4 system he installed had plenty of moving parts, as multiple players complained about the complexity of the system. Kerrigan and Sweat, who are best served getting after the quarterback, were often dropping back in coverage.

New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is shifting the unit back to a 4-3 base, which fits the personnel the Redskins currently have much better. Del Rio's scheme is simple and allows players to play fast and to their strengths, something the Redskins defense never did under Manusky.

One of the weaker units on the defense is at cornerback. Quinton Dunbar emerged as a star in 2019, but the Redskins need a solid cornerback on the opposite side of him. Simms thinks Washington would be wise to trade back and maybe select a cover corner later in the first round.

"If I'm the Redskins, I'm thinking about maybe using my assets to strengthen other parts of my team," Simms said. "Maybe you trade down and get a really good cover corner, something like that."

The draft has multiple cornerbacks that are expected to go in the first round, such as Ohio State's Jeffery Okudah, Florida's CJ Henderson, Alabama's Trevon Diggs, and LSU's Kristian Fulton, among others. 

Simms does not question Young's talent, and there's no doubt selecting the pass rusher would improve the Redskins defense. But he believes trading down, getting extra picks, and addressing other needs on the team could be the best way for Washington to attack to draft.

"Chase Young is special. He's every bit in that discussion of being that guy to come off the board at No. 2," Simms said. "I just wonder if it's the right fit for the Washington Redskins. I don't know about that."

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Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, chances of trade to Nationals slim

Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, chances of trade to Nationals slim

Kris Bryant will remained signed with the Chicago Cubs for at least the next two seasons, although the team continues to field calls for trade proposals, ESPN reported Wednesday morning.

The Cubs have dangled Bryant in trade talks all offseason after the team signaled its desire to get under the luxury tax. Washington was rumored to have contacted Chicago about the third baseman earlier this winter, but those talks have “gone nowhere” according to The Athletic.

After incumbent third baseman Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels at the Winter Meetings, the Nationals pursued Josh Donaldson in free agency but ultimately refused to meet his asking price. Instead, the team re-signed infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera and will give top prospect Carter Kieboom the chance to compete against him for the starting job in spring training.

Chicago retaining two years of control over Bryant raises his trade value to the point where the Nationals likely wouldn’t be able to put together a competitive offer. Washington only has one consensus top-100 prospect in Kieboom and has been hesitant to deal him in past trade discussions.

The Atlanta Braves, who lost Donaldson to the Minnesota Twins in free agency, have been rumored to be interested in Bryant and would be in a much better position to make an offer enticing enough for the Cubs to trade him. The same goes for the Texas Rangers, who are moving into a new ballpark this season and would benefit from bringing in a star like Bryant to put fans in seats.

There’s also the likelihood that Chicago holds onto Bryant to start the 2020 season. The Cubs still have most of the core that led the team to its first World Series in 108 years back in 2016 and figure to be competitive in a wide-open NL Central. If they end up struggling to start the year, they could always field calls for him at the trade deadline when there might be more suitors.

Meanwhile, the Nationals appear content with the depth they’ve accumulated at third base. In addition to Kieboom and Cabrera, Washington also signed Starlin Castro and retained Howie Kendrick—both of whom have experience at third. With the team already projected to be close to the luxury tax threshold, a move for Bryant remains unlikely.

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