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BYU brings in perimeter shooters to add balance

BYU brings in perimeter shooters to add balance

PROVO, Utah (AP) The accents are the first hint that Brigham Young has made some pretty major changes to its roster.

Argentina's Agustin Ambrosino and Mexico's Raul Delgado are expected to be major contributors this season as is returned missionary Tyler Haws, last seen averaging in double digits as a freshman in 2010 for the Cougars.

BYU even has a guy named Ainge on the squad again, Danny's son Cooper, a freshman point guard expected to back up Matt Carlino.

What coach Dave Rose is counting on most from a team coming off its sixth straight 25-win season and as many NCAA tourney appearances is more balanced play, especially with leading scorer Noah Hartsock graduated.

``Last year we really relied on two post players to carry us through the majority of tough times,'' Rose said of Hartsock and Brandon Davies, who returns for his senior season as BYU's leading rebounder. ``To be more consistent, there has to be balance.''

That's why he put an emphasis on recruiting players who could help from the perimeter.

Delgado, who grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, once made a dozen 3-pointers in a junior-college game for Western Nebraska Community College.

Power forward Ambrosino, who will help fill the shoes of Hartsock along with sophomore Nate Austin, shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc at Salt Lake Community College last season.

Then there's Haws, who became a starter just three games into his freshman season while shooting 50 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range before heading off on his church mission in the Philippines.

``We really changed the team a lot this offseason,'' said Carlino, a sophomore. ``Tyler is a big-time player, a big-time shooter, Raul can really shoot and Augie can shoot the ball and is versatile. There are just a lot of guys who are big-time threats to score the basketball and will help our offense a lot.''

Davies, meanwhile, returns as the Cougars' force inside after averaging 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during the 2011-12 season, when BYU finished 26-9 overall.

``I can't wait,'' Davies said of getting practice started Friday. ``It's been too long. This is my last shot, my senior year, so I've got to give it everything I've got.''

Carlino acknowledges it will be tough replacing Hartsock, BYU's all-time shot-blocker, emotional leader and a scrappy player who consistently knocked down a short baseline jumper. The other starter who graduated was wing Charles Abouo.

``All we lost was Noah and Charles, but I don't mean it lightly,'' Davies said. ``Those were two great players. They can't be replaced, but these new guys coming in will do nothing but help us. They can score with the best of them. There's not a guy on this team that can't shoot the ball from the outside.''

Last year the Cougars shot 34 percent from 3-point range - a far cry from the days of Jimmer Fredette.

And BYU is no longer dominating the Mountain West Conference, but entering its second season in the West Coast Conference. The goal once again is to try to win the conference title.

``I'm excited to be in this league, maybe more than I was a year ago,'' Rose said. ``Our players understand a little bit more about the quality of this league. ... The teams at the top are really terrific. We need to lay it out there and see if we can get it done.''

A strong non-conference schedule should only help, with the Cougars playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, a tournament that includes Georgia State, Notre Dame, Florida State and Saint Joseph's. December road games include matchups with Baylor, Iowa State and Weber State - all strong programs last season.

This time, Carlino won't have to sit out the first 10 games because of transfer rules.

``It will be a lot different having the whole season and preseason,'' said Carlino, who averaged 12.2 points and 4.6 assists.

The addition of perimeter shooters will allow him to be more of a true point guard, and he's added some muscle up top as coaches want him to be more forceful with his play.

BYU also returns guard Brock Zylstra and forwards Josh Sharp and Stephen Rogers. Rogers' future, however, is in question because of lingering knee problems. He had torn cartilage repaired then another scope to try to resolve persistent swelling issues. But Rose said it's a realistic possibility the injury may be such that Rogers won't be able to play this season.

Delgado already appears luckier. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound JC transfer dislocated his shooting elbow while playing basketball five weeks ago. He went for a dunk, was undercut and tried to break his fall with his arm, only to see it bend behind him.

Doctors initially said recovery would take three to four months but this week he already said he is fully recovered and only wears a brace to protect the elbow and keep it strong.

The recovery isn't much different from that game in junior college where he lit it up from 3-point territory.

``That day everything was going perfectly for me,'' Delgado said.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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