Beavers, seeking 10th win, face Longhorns in Alamo

Beavers, seeking 10th win, face Longhorns in Alamo

Oregon State generated the biggest one-year turnaround in school history and could secure its third 10-win season by beating Texas in the Alamo Bowl on Saturday.

The Longhorns? They are trying to reverse a three-year slide from the days when 10 wins were just a footnote on the way to BCS bowls.

Beating the 15th-ranked Beavers on Saturday night would be another baby step back to the elite for Mack Brown and company, with still a long way to go. Texas followed a loss to Alabama in the 2009 BCS championship game with a shocking 5-7 record - the only losing season in 15 under Brown - and an 8-5 mark last year that included a Holiday Bowl win over Cal.

Lose to Oregon State, and the Longhorns (8-4) will have a second straight eight-win season and a long offseason to think about a three-game losing streak, too.

``I think that at Texas we want to be 13-0,'' Brown said. ``The standards are higher than eight, and that's what the kids need to understand and our coaches do understand. And we are ready to take that next step and get it back to where it should be.''

Mike Riley has had to do a little rebuilding of his own after leading the Beavers (9-3) to 10 wins in 2006 and three more winning seasons after that. Oregon State matched Texas at 5-7 in 2010, then slipped to 3-9 a year ago.

The Beavers are six games better in 2012, beating one Rose Bowl team - Wisconsin - in their opener and almost beating the other - Stanford - on the road. Oregon State brings a little momentum into the Alamo Bowl because Hurricane Isaac turned the original opener against Nicholls State into the finale. So after losing to Fiesta Bowl-bound rival Oregon, the Beavers trounced Nicholls State 77-3.

Quarterbacks Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion split the snaps against Nicholls after injuries led to both being starters during the season. Riley picked Vaz, a former receiver who has 11 touchdowns and just one interception, to start against the Longhorns.

``It's been a hard decision,'' offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. ``It's probably been more difficult on the two kids. They have been kind of flip-flopping back and forth. But I think our team understands that there's two guys that can go out and win a game.''

The Longhorns saved their flip-flopping at quarterback for late in the season. David Ash was named the starter for the Alamo Bowl after starting the first 11 games before he was pulled in a loss to TCU on Thanksgiving. Case McCoy started the finale against Kansas State. Texas officials originally said Ash sustained a rib injury against the Horned Frogs, but Brown acknowledged this week that Ash was actually injured the previous game against Iowa State and made the start against TCU anyway.

The TCU game was the second time McCoy replaced an ineffective Ash. McCoy came off the bench to lead a comeback win against Kansas in October, but Ash kept his job then.

``I think he's done a great job this year,'' co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said of Ash. ``Has there been a game or two he wants back? Absolutely. That's usually the case for most players. But I think he's improved from last season.''

Applewhite, a former Texas quarterback, is taking over as play-caller and quarterbacks coach with Bryan Harsin leaving to become head coach at Arkansas State. Applewhite was the running backs coach and says any significant changes for the quarterbacks can wait.

``The last thing I want to do is scratch the hard drive and try to change a lot of things that he's really been ingrained in over the last two years,'' said Applewhite, who was Nick Saban's offensive coordinator his first year at Alabama in 2007. ``We'll talk more about that kind of stuff in the spring and where we want to go with the position, how we want to grow.''

The Longhorns will be without two players who were suspended and sent home on Friday after a report surfaced that police were investigating a sexual assault allegation against them. The players have not been identified.

Report: WNBA proposing 22-game season starting in late July at IMG Academy

Report: WNBA proposing 22-game season starting in late July at IMG Academy

Like the NBA, the 2020 WNBA season has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. And also like the NBA, the WNBA is hoping to begin its season in late July.

According to an ESPN report on Thursday, the WNBA is planning on proposing a 22-game regular season that would begin July, held in a "bubble-like" atmosphere at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

The league has yet to formally propose the idea to the players, according to the report. Under this proposal, WNBA players would make approximately 60% percent of their salary. 

Terri Jackson, an executive director for the WNBA's Players Association, told ESPN that "no decisions have been made" and that "players are considering all their options."

The first report of the WNBA's plan surfaced on Thursday night, the same day the NBA formally agreed to the 22-team format to resume the league at the ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, beginning July 31. 

The WNBA was supposed to begin its typical 36-game slate on May 15, but the pandemic has prevented the WNBA from beginning it's 2020 season. The league conducted it's 2020 draft in a virtual format on April 17.

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John Wall says he knew Kevin Durant wasn't signing with Wizards, wishes they kept Trevor Ariza

John Wall says he knew Kevin Durant wasn't signing with Wizards, wishes they kept Trevor Ariza

One unexpected part of the NBA's months-long hiatus has been the unearthing of stories from Wizards and Bullets past. We have learned some amazing things like the fact Gilbert Arenas was behind John Wall doing 'The Dougie' before his NBA debut, how Arenas mistakenly talked trash to Kobe Bryant while on the tarmac after his 60-point game and how Jerry Stackhouse hated playing with Michael Jordan.

This week brought another revelation from Wizards lore. Wall appeared on the Team 980 and told host Kevin Sheehan he had a good feeling how the summer of 2016 would go for the Wizards.

If you remember, the Wizards lined up everything to go after Kevin Durant in free agency, including by letting defensive specialist Trevor Ariza leave. Turns out, Wall still wonders 'what if' and says he knew Durant wasn't coming to Washington.

"One thousand percent. We still think about that to this day. I feel like that was the biggest piece we lost," Wall said whether he felt they should have kept Ariza.

"We felt like we weren't getting Kevin, just from knowing everything and thinking ahead. Like, okay we know Kevin's not coming here so just keep the core we have. We have a great core with Trevor Ariza and all the guys we had. Don't get me wrong, Paul was great for us. Paul Pierce was great for us, but we just felt like that experience we had with Trevor and the way he was shooting the ball and things and the way he defended, he was the perfect person we needed for LeBron [James]. Even though nobody's going to stop LeBron, he just made it tough on LeBron."


The Wizards not only missed out on Durant that summer, they famously never even got a meeting with him. The plan didn't work out, but that doesn't mean it was a bad plan.

To this day, you could argue the Wizards did some things right along the way. They found two young stars in Wall and Bradley Beal, cleared cap room and then went after a star player who would have complemented their core perfectly. The reason they ultimately had no chance to sign him was not their fault, he admittedly just didn't want to play at home.

Could they have sensed that? Maybe, maybe not. Durant didn't express that publicly until after he signed with the Warriors. That said, it sounds like Wall had an inkling Durant wasn't coming to D.C.

Where the Wizards truly erred that summer was not in chasing Durant, it was not having a viable back-up plan. Their Plan B was to sign Al Horford, but he went to Boston. That led them to Plan C, which was to hand out a slew of multi-year contracts that strapped their salary cap for years to come. The decision to sign Ian Mahinmi to a $64 million deal is still affecting them now.

In hindsight, it's hard to disagree with what Wall said. The Wizards thought they couldn't afford Ariza, but then the salary cap spiked and his contract became a bargain as he helped the Rockets become one of the best teams in the league.

Who knows how things would have turned out for the Wizards if they kept Ariza. Easy to say now, but clearly it remains on Wall's mind.

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