Butler staying all quiet on conference front


Butler staying all quiet on conference front

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Butler President James Danko won't say whether his school will consider making a second conference change in less than 12 months.

He's just not ruling it out.

``I'd rather not talk about it until something happens,'' Danko told The Associated Press when asked Saturday to flatly dismiss speculation that the Bulldogs would join the seven Catholic schools leaving the Big East to form their own basketball-centric conference.

Butler has been in the discussion almost from the moment word leaked about the possible departure of the seven schools that don't play major college football.

On Thursday, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Marquette and the other exiting Big East members wanted to form a league consisting of 10 to 12 schools. The list began with Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall and Villanova, who have been playing in the Big East.

The story also said Atlantic 10 members Butler and Xavier might be interested in joining, too.

Bulldogs athletic director Barry Collier, the former basketball coach, declined to comment on the story Friday.

On Saturday, Collier and Danko were seated near one another at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the home of the NBA's Indiana Pacers, as they watched Butler upset No. 1 Indiana 88-86 in overtime. It's the first time Butler (8-2) has ever beaten the nation's top-ranked team, and the win may only help Butler's case to join a league with bigger schools.

``We'd have to wait to see what happens,'' Danko said during a short break in the second half. ``I don't really have any comment right now.''

When asked whether he would completely dismiss the rumors, Danko did not.

Atlantic 10 officials could not immediately be reached for comment following Butler's victory.

Since bursting onto college basketball's national map with back-to-back runs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011, Butler has been a top attraction for leagues looking to expand or, in this case, new ones forming.

In May, Danko announced Butler, one of the founding members of the Midwestern City Conference that was later renamed the Horizon League, would move to the Atlantic 10 in 2013-14. This summer, the school and officials from both leagues said the move was being expedited and would take place immediately.

Butler is scheduled to play its first Atlantic 10 game Jan. 9 at St. Joseph's.

Now, though, the wheel of conference realignment could be spinning again.

According to Thursday's report, having Butler would give the new league the option of playing its league tournament on NBA courts in Indy or New York's Madison Square Garden or that there could be a possible rotation between the two.

Indy already has a deal with the Big Ten to play its tournament at Bankers Life in even-numbered years through 2016.

John Dedman, a spokesman for Indiana Sports Corp., the organization that traditionally bids on bringing sporting events to Indy, said the group has not been contacted about hosting the tournament by those trying to form the new league.

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Dwayne Haskins wants Redskins to draft his former Buckeye teammate K.J. Hill, but is this a realistic option?

Dwayne Haskins wants Redskins to draft his former Buckeye teammate K.J. Hill, but is this a realistic option?

It's no secret that in order for Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins to make a jump in his sophomore year, he needs more weapons.

On Thursday, Haskins took to Twitter to campaign for his current team to draft his former Ohio State teammate K.J. Hill. This isn't the first time Haskins has done something like this. When Ohio State defensive end Chase Young declared for the 2020 NFL Draft last month, Haskins tweeted "See you soon," implying that he expects the Redskins to take his former teammate with the No. 2 overall selection.

Following the first round of the 2019 draft, Haskins tweeted at the Redskins for them to draft one of his Buckeye wide receivers later in the draft. Both Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin were available after the first round. The Redskins selected the latter, and McLaurin turned in one of the best seasons by a rookie wideout in franchise history.

Haskins and Hill played together at Ohio State in 2018, and the wideout was one of Haskins' favorite targets. Hill finished that season with 70 receptions for 885 yards and six touchdowns as Haskins No. 2 target behind Campbell (it's interesting to note that McLaurin had just 35 catches his senior year with the Buckeyes).

Hill is a different wide receiver than McLaurin. The former is a 6-foot-0, 190-pound wideout who relies on his speed and quickness more than anything else. While he's played both on the outside and in the slot, he's best on the inside.

By many accounts of people there, the wideout had an incredible week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., likely raising his draft stock. He made an impressive one-handed catch that viral on social media during practice. 

But Hill is not the wide receiver the Redskins need; Washington would get greater use out of a bigger outside receiver to compliment McLaurin. Undrafted rookie Steven Sims excelled in the slot for the Burgundy and Gold a season ago, and that job should be his to lose. 

The wide receiver class in this year's draft is incredibly deep. Many draft scouts have called it the deepest class since 2014, one that featured Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, and John Brown among others.

Barring injury, there are three wide receivers that seem to be sure first-rounders: Alabama's Jerry Jeudy, Oklahoma's Ceedee Lamb, and Clemson's Tee Higgins. There is a collection of four or more receivers -- LSU's Justin Jefferson, Penn State's K.J. Hamler, Colorado's Laviska Shenault, and Alabama's Henry Ruggs III -- who could sneak into the first round as well.

If the Redskins stay put at pick No. 2, it's likely they don't take a wide receiver, especially with Chase Young still on the board (should the Bengals take LSU's Joe Burrow at No. 1). If the Redskins trade back, they could grab one of these wideouts later in the first round.

Earlier this week, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said the team has "more than enough" to move up in the draft. Miami currently possesses the fifth, 18th, and 26th pick in the 2020 draft, along with two second-rounders. Should the Redskins spark a deal with Miami including three of those picks (either all three first-rounders or two firsts and a second), Washington would be more than capable of using one of those they get in return for No. 2 on a wideout. 

Jeudy, who many believe is the best wideout in the draft, is one of the most polished route runners coming out of college in recent memory. Jeudy would be an ideal fit in Washington. He's an outside receiver who plays bigger than his 6-foot-1 frame with 4.4 40-yard dash speed as well.

Higgins would fit the bill for the Redskins if they wanted a bigger receiver. The 6-foot-5 Clemson product is a jump-ball specialist and has an expanded route tree. LSU's Justin Jefferson could also fit this mold.

Hill is projected as high as a second-round pick by some draft experts, while as low as a fourth-rounder by others. His strong showing at the Senior Bowl has likely improved his stock towards the lower rounds. 

Heck, there's a chance Hill isn't even available for Washington. As it stands now, Washington doesn't own a second-round pick; they sent that to Indianapolis a year ago to move back into the first round to select Montez Sweat. Hill could very well be gone by the time the Redskins are back on the clock.

If Washington doesn't trade back from No. 2, they'll likely need to address the wide receiver position in the later rounds. Should Hill fall, the Redskins could use a fourth- or fifth-round pick on him. They got incredible value with McLaurin in the third round and Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round a year ago. 

But with such a deep class, there's a good chance many first-and second-round talent wideouts are still on the board at the beginning of the third. In 2014, there were eight receivers taken before the Packers selected Adams. That same year, 10 wideouts came off the board before the Dolphins nabbed Landry.

It's possible that happens in 2020. If Jefferson or Shenault were to slip to the third, Washington would benefit more by selecting one of them over Hill.

Hill could very well be a good wide receiver in the NFL, but as it stands now, finding his fit in the Washington offense is hard to find.

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NHL All-Star Skills: John Carlson puts his title on the line

NHL All-Star Skills: John Carlson puts his title on the line

ST. LOUIS -- The NHL's All-Star weekend kicked off on Thursday with media day. On Friday, we have the first competition as the players take part in the NHL All-Star Skills. Compared to the regular season, not much is on the line on Friday. Teams are not battling for two points in the standings, rivalries are pushed aside and the quest of the Stanley Cup is put on hold. But Friday's event will pit the best hockey players in the world against one another as they show off some of the skills that got them there. For Capitals fans specifically, there will be plenty of reasons to tune in.

Here is what you should be watching for in Friday's All-Star Skills:

T.J. Oshie's reception

You thought he was just a fan favorite in Washington? Oshie spent the first seven seasons of his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues and those fans have not forgotten. Oshie received a thunderous ovation from the fans on hand when he was introduced at Thursday's media day and you can expect that again on Friday anytime he is on the ice.

Unfortunately, with the shootout no longer included in the competition -- something in which Oshie excels -- he will not be specifically competing in any event himself. He will, however, participate as a shooter in the Bud Light NHL Save Streak so at least he can show off his skills there.

Holtby goes for the save streak

The majority of Friday's event -- and, let's face it, the All-Star Game itself -- is geared towards the offense. The one event for the goalies is the save streak. Braden Holtby and each of the other seven other goalies invited to the All-Star Game will take part in the save streak competition.

Each goalie will face shooters from an opposing division. All nine skaters will shoot with the divisional captain shooting last. If the goalie stops the captains' shot, the shooters continue shooting until the next goal. The goalie with the longest consecutive save streak wins.

Regardless of who you may cheer for, everyone should be keeping their fingers crossed for a tie. Why? The first tie-breaker is the total number of saves made, but if there remains a tie after that, then the tied goalies will compete in a sudden death round of goalie goals.

Yeah, we all want to see that.

Holtby is making his fifth consecutive appearance at the All-Star Game. He is the only active goalie to do so and one of only four players in franchise history to make five all-star appearances. It still must feel bittersweet as he has not had a great season thus far, but Friday's event -- as well as Saturday's game -- will be his opportunity to show that he remains one of the top netminders in the league.

Carlson defends his hardest shot title

The Caps player with the most at stake on Friday will be John Carlson who will be defending his title in the Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot. Should Carlson lose, it will be the first time in three years a Cap has not won the event as Alex Ovechkin won it in 2018 with a shot of 101.3 MPH.

Carlson faces stiff competition this year as Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returns for the event. Weber is a three-time winner of the hardest shot, winning it in three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017. His best shot cames in 2015 when he fired a blazing 108.5 MPH to win, very close to Zdeno Chara's 108.8 MPH record.

Carlson and Weber should be considered the two favorites. Also competing against them will be Mark Giordano, Seth Jones, Victor Hedman and Elias Pettersson.

3-on-3 women's event

The All-Star Skills will feature two new events this year and easily the most highly anticipated will be the Elite Women's 3-on-3 presented by Adidas. One of the best rivalries in all of hockey, Team USA women and Team Canada women, will be renewed as all-star teams from each country will face-off in a 3-on-3 game.

The game will consist of two 10-minute periods with a running clock. All penalties will result in a penalty shot.

One of the biggest criticisms of All-Star weekend is that the skills and the game are not competitive enough. If you have ever felt this way, then this is the competition for you. The women's game will likely be the most competitive event of the entire weekend. Women's hockey does not often get the spotlight and you can beat these all-stars are going to take full advantage of the chance to promote their game. Add in the fact that they get to play against their biggest rivals and you can expect a pretty intense performance.

Shooting Stars

The second new event added to this year's competition is the Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars. Players will be positioned on an elevated platform behind the goal, about 30 feet up and shoot at different targets on the ice. Each player will attempt seven shots.

There will be eight shooters from the NHL All-Stars and an additional two women, one from the U.S. team and one from Canada, will participate. The women will be selected by social media vote.

With all events the NHL experiments with, we have no idea just what this will look like or how good it will be until we see it. Maybe it is the next big thing and maybe it will be a total flop.

But hey, nothing could be worse than watching the players try to shoot on the mini nets as they have in the past so at least it's not that.

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