Beilein's Wolverines looking as good as advertised

Beilein's Wolverines looking as good as advertised

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Tim Hardaway Jr. opened the scoring with a smooth 3-pointer from the right corner, then Trey Burke added another, dribbling behind a screen for an open shot near the top of the key.

Moments later, Hardaway came breezing across midcourt and snapped a quick pass to freshman Nik Stauskas on the left wing. Another 3-pointer gave Michigan an 11-2 lead.

This is exactly what the Wolverines were hoping for when John Beilein was hired as coach in 2007.

Over the last six seasons, Michigan has built a program that can again challenge for a national championship, and that early flurry against West Virginia on Saturday has become the norm lately. After an 81-66 victory over the Mountaineers, the Wolverines are 11-0 and sitting at No. 2 in the latest AP poll - their highest spot since the Fab Five era.

``We feel if we play our best basketball, we can compete with anybody,'' forward Jordan Morgan said. ``We can't guarantee a win, but we're going to play hard every game.''

Beilein arrived before the 2007-08 season with a distinguished resume that included NCAA tournament appearances at Canisius, Richmond and West Virginia. He came within a game of the Final Four with the Mountaineers in 2005, but the jury was still out on whether he could help Michigan become one of college basketball's elite programs again.

For the last three years, the Wolverines have been trending sharply upward. They tied for the Big Ten title last season, and now they have achieved their highest national ranking since the 1992-93 season, when Chris Webber led Michigan to its second straight appearance in the NCAA title game.

Expectations began to soar when Burke decided to stay at Michigan following a terrific freshman campaign in 2011-12. He's now perhaps the nation's best point guard.

``The better the challenge, the more he responds individually,'' Beilein said. ``He plays beyond his fatigue level, beyond his years.''

Burke is the leader of an offense that is precise, efficient and extremely difficult to defend right now. Beilein's teams have always done a good job spreading the floor, and there's not a lot of wasted movement. Players like Burke, Hardaway and freshman Glenn Robinson III have the ability to drive to the basket and finish if there's no help defensively.

Add in a crafty big man in Morgan and a 3-point threat in Stauskas, and the Wolverines seem to have everything they need for a deep NCAA tournament run. They could use a little more depth, and their defense may be somewhat ordinary by Big Ten standards, but there's still plenty of time to improve.

Under Beilein, Michigan has never been a team that rushes on offense, but the Wolverines are capable of running, with a more athletic rotation than in seasons past.

``There were times when Jordan Morgan, early in his career, would rebound, but we still struggled with the outlet,'' Beilein said. ``Now, the outlet's much better, and Trey Burke getting the ball up the floor.''

Saturday's game might have been Burke's finest as a Wolverine: 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting, eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and no turnovers. And not once did he seem to be forcing the issue or taking unnecessary risks.

A few days later, when Burke showed up for a midweek news conference, the competitive point guard was preparing to go back to the court after losing a game of 1-on-1 to freshman Caris LeVert.

``I'm trying to get back out there to play him right now,'' Burke said. ``I'm mad about that.''

Burke and the Wolverines haven't had to deal with much losing lately. If they can beat Eastern Michigan on Thursday night, they will be 12-0. Only one Michigan team has reached that mark - the 1985-86 group that started 16-0 and went on to win the Big Ten.

For the current Wolverines, each victory seems to raise hopes and expectations even higher - with the most important games still to come.

``We want to be playing our best basketball and win as many games as we can in the Big Ten,'' Morgan said. ``And be playing as good as we can toward the end of the year.''

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Redskins at Packers Week 14 Inactives: Washington thin at WR in Green Bay

Redskins at Packers Week 14 Inactives: Washington thin at WR in Green Bay

When the Redskins take the field to face the 9-3 Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Washington will be without two of their starting wide receivers.

Both Trey Quinn (concussion) and Paul Richardson (hamstring) were ruled out on Friday and will be inactive. Washington's likely starting wide receivers will be a trio of rookies: Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims.

Quinn suffered a concussion during the Redskins Week 13 victory over Carolina while attempting to receive a punt. Carolina's DeAndrew White was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play and was fined by the league this week for his helmet-to-helmet hit.

Richardson will miss his third game in four weeks. He first injured his hamstring during the Redskins Week 9 loss to Buffalo. He missed the Redskins loss to the Jets in Week 11 but returned the following week. No. 10 re-aggravated the hamstring injury in the Redskins Week 12 victory over Detroit and has yet to return since. 

After missing the first game in his nine-year NFL career last week, Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan returns to the lineup vs. Green Bay. Kerrigan was cleared from the concussion protocol on Wednesday and practiced in full all week.

Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses, who exited early last week with a back injury, is active. Earlier this week, he said he expected to play, and held true to his word. Moses has not missed a game since 2015.

Packers wide receiver Ryan Grant, who spent four years with the Redskins, will be inactive against his former team. Additionally, Green Bay will be without starting cornerback Kevin King.

Here are the full inactives:

Redskins at Packers Week 14 Inactives

Redskins Inactives:

QB Colt McCoy
WR Paul Richardson
WR Trey Quinn
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons
CB Aaron Colvin
LB Chris Odom
OL Ross Pierschbacher

Packers Inactives:

WR Ryan Grant
CB Kevin King
RB Dexter Williams
CB Troy Brown
CB Ka'dar Hallman
OL Adam Pankey
OT Yosh Nijmans


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Nationals sign reliever Kyle Finnegan to major-league deal

Nationals sign reliever Kyle Finnegan to major-league deal

The Nationals announced their first move toward rebuilding their bullpen for the 2020 season Sunday, signing right-hander Kyle Finnegan to a major-league deal.

Finnegan, 28, became a free agent for the first time this winter after seven seasons in the Oakland Athletics’ minor-league system. The A’s drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 Draft out of Texas State, originally developing him as a starter until converting him into a reliever in 2016.

Oakland granted Finnegan an invite to Spring Training ahead of last season, but he never made his way onto the team’s 40-man roster. His breakout season was in 2019, when the organization asked him to lower his arm slot to generate more movement on his pitches.

Finnegan posted a 2.66 ERA with 14 saves over 42 appearances for AA-Midland and AAA-Las Vegas last year. His fastball has touched triple digits in the past but sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. His newfound success has also seen him rack up more strikeouts, as evidenced by his K/9 that jumped from 9.7 in 2018 to 12.8 in 2019.

Prior to signing with Washington, Finnegan joined the Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League. He has a 2.31 ERA in 14 appearances so far this winter.

The Nationals’ 40-man roster now sits at 30 with the addition of Finnegan following non-tenders of Javy Guerra and Koda Glover. It will move up to 32 once the signings of Yan Gomes and Howie Kendrick are made official. The move comes less than 12 hours before the MLB Winter Meetings are scheduled to begin in San Diego.