Redskins

Buckeyes well aware of recent history with Kansas

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Buckeyes well aware of recent history with Kansas

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) After Kansas knocked off Ohio State last season in the national semifinals, Buckeyes guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. didn't have the heart to even watch the championship game.

As this season has progressed, Smith has grown more and more excited by the looming specter of a home rematch with the Jayhawks.

``I've kind of been waiting for this game ever since our schedule got released in the summer,'' he said about Saturday's game pitting No. 9 Kansas against seventh-ranked Ohio State.

These are not the same teams from a year ago, when Kansas beat Ohio State twice. But that doesn't mean there still won't be a little edge to the game. What would you expect with the teams' recent history?

``I'm sure they have some hard feelings toward us and it is going to be a really tough environment,'' Kansas big man Jeff Withey said of the contest at Ohio State's Value City Arena. ``We haven't really been on the road yet so we'll see how the new guys react to that. But we are definitely looking forward to it.''

The 13th-ranked Jayhawks won the regular-season matchup at Allen Fieldhouse almost a year ago, taking advantage of All-America forward Jared Sullinger's absence (bad back) in a 78-67 victory over No. 2 Ohio State.

Then they squared off in New Orleans in the Final Four, with the Buckeyes leading most of the game and by 13 points before withering down the stretch to fall 64-62.

``If you look at the games last year, we didn't play them very well at all, but they guarded us. And they didn't play great, but we guarded them,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``The difference for us was in the second half we were able to get some 3-on-2s and some 2-on-1s and was able to make six or eight easy baskets and score easy points that we didn't have to go against half-court defense.''

The game figures to be a grade card for each team.

``Kansas right now is playing at a level as high as anybody in college basketball,'' Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ``They start four seniors. It's like, wow. Their leading scorer is a redshirt freshman. So they're a very, very experienced, seasoned team. From the standpoint of the caliber of the team that they are, obviously you're going to hopefully learn quite a bit about your team as you get ready to head into January, February and March.''

Comparisons to last year are frivolous, since the two best players on the floor are now in the NBA. Kansas' Thomas Robinson had 19 points and eight rebounds in the Final Four and now plays for pay for the Sacramento Kings.

Sullinger had 11 points and 11 rebounds but had three shots blocked by Withey in New Orleans. Currently with the Boston Celtics, Sullinger was surrounded by defenders after teammate Deshaun Thomas got into foul trouble in the semifinal.

Thomas, who pondered skipping out of his final two years to join them in the pros, is averaging 20.4 points and 7 rebounds a game. The 6-foot-7 junior never met a shot he wouldn't take - and make - which makes guarding him the biggest task for the Jayhawks.

``If you're a natural scorer like he is and averaging over 20 a game you've got the green light to shoot some good contested shots and he is good at making them,'' Self said. ``He is a shotmaker. He is a professional scorer at our level and last year we didn't stop him.''

Thomas had 19 points and kept Ohio State in it before a raucous crowd in Lawrence, Kan., a year ago.

The Jayhawks (9-1) have benefited from a comfortable schedule so far. They've had six home games in addition to three games before friendly faces in Kansas City. Their only loss came in their lone foray far from home, a 67-64 defeat to Michigan State in Atlanta.

Ohio State (9-1) dropped its biggest previous challenge, a 73-68 decision at current No. 1 Duke on Nov. 28. In that game, much like the last meeting with Kansas, the Buckeyes led most of the night but didn't make enough plays down the stretch.

Aaron Craft, Ohio State's pesky defensive whiz at point guard, believes the rematch will come down to toughness.

``Who's going to be the tougher team?'' he said. ``They do a phenomenal job of getting second-chance points, grabbing 50-50 balls, really limiting possessions. We have to find a way to overcome that, and match or better their intensity and their toughness. Because that's what Kansas basketball is about.''

Funny, but that's what Kansas also thinks of Ohio State.

``They are physical and they play that Big Ten style where they try to bully you,'' Withey said. ``They do all that really well. We've got to come ready.''

No matter who wins, both would like a redo - when the NCAA Final Four shifts to Atlanta in April.

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

With less than a week to go until their July 15 deadline, "there isn't much optimism" that the Redskins and Brandon Scherff will be able to nail down a long-term contract, per an ESPN report.

If the two sides can't come together, then Scherff will play out the 2020 season on the franchise tag.

On the surface, there's obvious reasons for both the team and the player to commit to a multi-year agreement.

For the former, the reason is that Scherff is a very useful asset on the offensive line, making him a very useful asset for another very useful asset, Dwayne Haskins.

For the latter, the reason is that Washington is where Scherff wants to spend the rest of his career, which is according to Scherff himself.

If things keep tracking the way they appear to be going, though, then that one-year pact will kick in and some drama will follow after that. 

Here are four factors that could be to blame, should that conclusion come to fruition.

A lack of familiarity 

Thanks to the pandemic, Scherff and Ron Rivera haven't had a chance to really get to know each other as well as they normally would. That matters. 

Rivera is clearly in control of the Burgundy and Gold now, meaning he has a very strong influence on how hard the organization is trying to lock up the 28-year-old. Perhaps there's some uncertainty on his end because he simply isn't that familiar with Scherff. The same could be said for Scherff, too.

The previous regime clearly valued Scherff from the day they selected him fifth overall in the draft. This new one, unfortunately, just hasn't had the opportunity yet to build up the same appreciation.

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Uncertainty about 2020

This is another pandemic-related one, and it's something that could be particularly affecting Scherff.

While the NFL clearly plans to go full-speed ahead with its schedule, there's tons of skepticism that they'll actually be able to pull off a season. Just look at how much trouble the other leagues are having, then think about how football — with its large swath of large men and constant contact — may have the most difficult time of all.

Does now seem like the most solid ground for Scherff to sign on the dotted line? When it's still so unclear what 2020 will look like? Not exactly.

Injury history

Factor No. 3 is one that surely is having some impact on the Redskins' viewpoint.

Scherff ended both 2018 and 2019 on injured reserve, due to a torn pec and then elbow and shoulder injuries, respectively. To take it a step further, he's missed 15 contests out of a possible 48 since 2017.

For the team to ink Scherff to a hefty contract, they're going to want to feel confident he'll be on the field to earn it. Right now, that confidence may not be there.

Money

People seem to care about this green stuff, right?

While Scherff would no doubt find security in a potential multi-year deal with the Redskins, he may simply have more interest in just accepting the franchise tag, which will pay him $15 million in 2020. That's a huge number that could be dissuading him from negotiating much.

As for the team, because of things like the staff's newness and the concern for Scherff's health, they may rather see Scherff for an (albeit expensive) season before deciding whether they want him on the roster for the rest of the rebuild.

These back-and-forths are always complicated, but this time around, there seems to be more variables than usual. The NFL is known as a "deadline league," but the above factors could prove to be too much to overcome before the July 15 buzzer.

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Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

A part of a series of statements defending DeSean Jackson following the wide receiver's posting of anti-Semitic comments falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler, Stephen Jackson revealed he received a call from the distressed veteran after the incident. 

According to Stephen, DeSean said the Eagles were threatening to release him without an apology. 

"My whole reason for supporting D-Jack was, before I got on Instagram, he called me on the phone and told me that they was threatening to fire him," Jackson said. "But they didn't do that to [Riley] Cooper. And I was like, 'You're right, you shouldn't have to apologize if they didn't make him apologize."

Riley Cooper was caught on video saying the n-word at a concert in 2013, and after the now-retired receiver made his apology, the Eagles fined him an undisclosed amount. He was then re-signed to a five-year extension in 2014, though he'd eventually be released two years later. 

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DeSean ultimately apologized, saying his posts were, "definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community."

The Eagles then released a statement condemning their wide receiver's actions, calling the messages he shared, "offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling." They were not clear on what Jackson's punishment would be in their statement. 

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This, of course, was not all Jackson said in defense of DeSean. The 14-year NBA veteran claimed Jackson was speaking the truth through the messages he shared.

"He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he's speaking the truth. Right? He's speaking the truth,” Stephen Jackson said. “You know he don't hate nobody, but he's speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others."

Jackson played three seasons with the Redskins from 2014-16 after then Eagles head coach Chip Kelly cut him following the 2013 campaign. He then returned to Philadelphia before the 2019 season by signing a three-year contract with the franchise who drafted him.

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