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Arkansas hopes slumping Wade can pick up scoring

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Arkansas hopes slumping Wade can pick up scoring

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Mardracus Wade would love nothing more than to return to his role as a scoring threat for an Arkansas team in desperate need of exactly that.

Last season's top 3-point shooter in the Southeastern Conference first must find his shooting touch and a way to simply get back on the court for the Razorbacks (10-5, 1-1 SEC) when they host Auburn (8-7, 2-0) Wednesday night.

Wade, who connected on nearly half of his 3-point shots last season, has struggled so far in his second year under coach Mike Anderson. The junior is averaging 7.4 points per game and is shooting just 32.5 percent (13 of 40) on 3-pointers, a season after a breakout effort in which he averaged 10.8 points per game.

Anderson singled him out last week for not grabbing a rebound in 27 minutes of action in a loss at Texas A&M. Then, against Vanderbilt, he didn't start for the first time this season and didn't even play in the second half.

``I think he's just got to start performing, that's all,'' Anderson said. ``Bring some better practices that can take him into the game. I think basketball is a game of confidence. You've got to play with confidence.''

Following the win over the Commodores, Wade - who led Arkansas with an average of 28.8 minutes per game last season - took to Twitter to express his frustration with the lack of playing time.

``This is crazy ... Can't believe that,'' the Memphis native tweeted.

Wade deleted the post shortly afterward based on the advice of a friend, and he was clear this week that he knows he holds the key to his future. He's also confident he can regain last season's form, sooner rather than later.

``I've got to stay in the gym and continue to work and try to get better and just come out there and produce,'' Wade said. ``I know I will because I'm that type of player. I work hard. I don't get down too much on myself.

``I'm like a gym rat. I'm always going to be in here to get better and help my team out any way I can.''

Wade's sudden drop in production this season isn't nearly as pronounced as his rise last season, when he burst onto the SEC scene after averaging just 4 points per game as a freshman. The Razorbacks were in dire need of a breakout season from someone after sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke transferred to Butler.

Wade obliged, hitting 70 of 147 (47.6 percent) 3-pointers. He benefited from more touches after an early knee injury cost leading scorer Marshawn Powell all but the first two games of the season.

Powell, who has returned this season and is second on Arkansas in scoring with an average of 14.3 points per game, has been as surprised as anyone by Wade's shooting woes. The forward has noticed Wade's reluctance to shoot at times, saying he ``does a lot more pump-faking than he needs to.'' Powell isn't sure if his return has affected Wade's role.

``I mean, I'm telling him during the game, `Just shoot the ball; let the ball go,''' Powell said. ``If you miss it, you miss it. If you make it, we need it. ... Hopefully, he'll bring it.''

Arkansas needs Wade to emerge as a third scoring option to go along with Powell and leading scorer BJ Young. Through Arkansas' first two SEC games, no one other than Young or Powell is averaging more than 5 points per game.

``It can't continue,'' Powell said. ``You're not going to get any W's if that continues.''

Wade has been far from the only one to struggle from the outside this season for the Razorbacks, who are 11th in the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage (31.5). The shooting guard, however, might just be the key if Arkansas hopes to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

``We've got to have a third scorer and a fourth scorer,'' Anderson said. ``Our team has been built a lot on balance, so we've got to have some guys to really step up. ... That scoring has got to come from other people.''

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.