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Boeheim wins 900th, appeals for action on firearms

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Boeheim wins 900th, appeals for action on firearms

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) With his wife, Juli, looking on at the postgame press conference and his young children close by, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's final remarks were not about his milestone 900th career victory.

Instead, he was thinking about two 6-year-old boys who were buried Monday, victims along with 18 other children and six adults in a shooting massacre last week at an elementary school in Connecticut.

``If we cannot get the people who represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society,'' Boeheim said Monday night. ``If one person in this world, the NRA president, anybody, can tell me why we need assault weapons with 30 shots - this is our fault if we don't go out there and do something about this. If we can't get this thing done, I don't know what kind of country we have.''

It was a sobering end to what was a memorable evening for Syracuse basketball. The third-ranked Orange's 72-68 victory over Detroit in the Gotham Classic made Boeheim just the third Division I men's coach to reach 900 wins.

Boeheim, 68 and in his 37th year at his alma mater, is 900-304 and joined an elite fraternity. Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) are the only other men's Division I coaches to win that many games.

``To me, it's just a number,'' said Boeheim, whose first victory was against Harvard in 1976. ``If I get 900, have I got to get more? That's why maybe it's just not that important to me because to me it's just a number, and the only number that matters is how this team does.''

So far, it's done OK.

James Southerland had 22 points for Syracuse (10-0), which increased its home winning streak to 30 games, longest in the nation. Detroit (6-5), which lost 77-74 at St. John's in the second game of the season and 74-61 at Pitt earlier this month, had its four-game winning streak snapped.

Dave Bing, Boeheim's college roommate, teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, and Roosevelt Bouie, a star on Boeheim's first team in 1976-77, were in the Carrier Dome crowd of 17,902.

Bing was standing tall in the locker room after the game.

``Nobody would have thought when we came here 50 years ago that either one of us would have had the kind of success we've had,'' said Bing, today the mayor of Detroit. ``I'm so pleased and proud of him because he stuck with it. He's proven that he's one of the best coaches ever in college basketball, and he'll be No. 2 shortly.''

After a victory that nearly was short-circuited, Boeheim was presented a jersey encased in glass with 900 emblazoned on it.

``I'm happy. I've stayed around long enough. I was a little nervous,'' Boeheim said at center court. ``I'm proud to be here. To win this game is more pressure than I've felt in a long time. I wasn't thinking about losing until the end. That wouldn't have been a good thing to happen, but it very well could have.''

Indeed.

Midway through the second half with Syracuse dominating, fans were given placards featuring cardboard cutouts of Boeheim's face with 900 wins printed on the back to wave in celebration. But when the public address announcer in the Carrier Dome invited fans to stick around for the postgame ceremony, the Titans roared back.

Juwan Howard Jr., who finished with 18 points, scored 14 over the last 6 minutes to key a 16-0 run, his two free throws pulling Detroit within 67-63 with 55.1 seconds left after the Titans had trailed by 20 with 6:09 to play.

``You know what, I didn't hear it, but the players probably heard because they sure came alive,'' Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. ``This is a big stage. Guys sitting around the hotel watching television getting ready to play the No. 3 team in the country and they're talking about going for 900 wins, coach Boeheim. That's a lot for a young man to digest.''

Michael Carter-Williams hit three of four free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.

``Michael made big-time free throws you've got to make. If he misses a couple, it's a new game. That was the difference,'' Boeheim said. ``We have not been in that situation. Hopefully, we'll learn from that.''

Carter-Williams finished with 10 assists and 12 points, his sixth straight double-double.

``It was great to be part of this,'' Carter-Williams said. ``It's a part of history.''

Doug Anderson scored 18 points and Nick Minnerath had 13 for Detroit. Ray McCallum Jr., the coach's son and Detroit's leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, finished with nine, while Jason Calliste had seven.

Southerland scored a career-high 35 points, matching a school record with nine 3-pointers, in a win at Arkansas in late November and, after an 0-for-10 slump over three games, found his range again Saturday night with three 3s in a win over Canisius. He finished 5 of 8 from behind the arc against the Titans.

One of the keys to breaking Syracuse's 2-3 zone is hitting the long ball, and Detroit struck out in the first half. The Titans were 0 for 10 and the lone 3 they did make - by McCallum with just over 6 minutes left - was negated by a shot-clock violation.

Detroit could only lament what might have been if a couple had gone in.

``We never gave up. That's a tribute to our team,'' Howard said. ``We had the right attitude. We played a tough opponent. You usually don't want a moral victory, but we can take some positives from this game.''

Syracuse plays again Saturday against Temple in Madison Square Garden, and the Orange faithful are likely to be out in numbers as they usually are when the team plays there.

Boeheim was effusive in praise of the support the team has received during his long tenure. Syracuse has had 71 crowds of over 30,000 since the Carrier Dome opened in 1980 and holds the NCAA on-campus record of 34,616, set nearly three years ago against Villanova.

``The support of fans cannot be overestimated,'' he said. ``You have to have that kind of support in your building to bring recruits in, to help you play better. We've had a tremendous loyal fan base. That's why I always felt this was a great place to coach and why I never really thought about going anywhere else. The support from the fans is the No. 1 thing you have to have.''

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 

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Nationals trading for a third baseman is possible -- as long as it’s not Nolan Arenado

Nationals trading for a third baseman is possible -- as long as it’s not Nolan Arenado

Here’s the list of players on the Nationals’ active roster who could play third base: Wilmer Difo, Jake Noll, Adrián Sánchez, Howie Kendrick, Carter Kieboom. Career major-league starts at the position: Difo, 29; Noll, one;  Sánchez, nine; Kendrick, 25; Kieboom, zero. 

Such is the state of third base for the defending World Series champions. Not good. 

Which makes Josh Donaldson’s agent smile and any semi-skilled third baseman with a pulse a possible target. Possible trades? Count the Nationals in. On most. Not on Nolan Arenado. That’s a non-starter because Washington is not going to send assets (prospects) for a contract it was unwilling to give Anthony Rendon in the first place. Zero chance. Zilch.

However, Kris Bryant is more intriguing depending on the years and ask -- as always with trades. Beyond him and Kyle Seager, is there another third baseman the Nationals could pursue in a trade? The question takes on weight because of the aforementioned toothless list of in-house candidates and shallow free-agent talent pool beyond Donaldson.

Any trade consideration needs to begin with an understanding of the parameters Washington is working from. Last season, Rendon’s one-year deal to avoid arbitration earned him $18.8 million. When Washington looks at the cost for its next third baseman, the number will be similar to last season’s cost for Rendon. A bump in the competitive balance tax threshold, plus savings at first base and catcher, provide the Nationals wiggle room for increases in spots. So, $18-25 million annually for a third baseman is in play.

Second, the Nationals’ farm system needs to be taken into account. Their 2018 first-round pick, Mason Denaburg, had shoulder problems last year. Mike Rizzo said at the Winter Meetings that Denaburg is healthy and progressing. But, the early shoulder irritation for a high school pitcher who also had problems his senior year with biceps tendinitis provides his stock pause. He’s a would-be trade chip. So is Kieboom.

But, what is Kieboom’s value? What damage did it receive during his rocky, and brief, appearance in the majors last season? Did his potent hitting in the Pacific Coast League after being sent back mitigate his big-league struggles? 

Beyond Kieboom, the farm system’s next tier is manned by Luis Garcia, 2019 first-round pick Jackson Rutledge, Wil Crowe and Tim Cate, among others. Only Garcia is part of MLB.com’s top-100 prospects list (which is more of a guide than an industry standard).

So, when Bryant or Seager -- or anyone not named Arenado -- are mentioned, know where the Nationals are coming from. If they are positioned to take on money, they don’t want to use assets to do it (this is the Donaldson Scenario). If they can save money, find a solid player and retain the few high-end assets, then a trade could be in play (this would be the Seager Scenario, if Seattle pays some of the contract). 

The Bryant Scenario is the most appealing and challenging. He’s the best player of the group. However, acquiring him would be high-cost and short-term. Bryant has two years remaining before he can become a free agent -- with an outside shot at becoming a free agent after next season because of a grievance he filed against the Cubs for service-time manipulation. Obtaining him would likely focus on multiple pitching prospects.

There is no Arenado Scenario. Just a reminder.

Piled together, Washington is in a tough spot. What it has is not enough. What it needs will be costly.

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