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Caragher introduced as Spartans coach

Caragher introduced as Spartans coach

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Bay Area native Ron Caragher is back home.

Caragher, who was introduced as the new football coach at San Jose State on Monday, still has family in nearby Morgan Hill and plans to be in the area before boarding a plane to watch the Spartans play at the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 27 two days later.

``This is a homecoming for me,'' Caragher said. ``I used to attend Spartan camps in the summer and as a high school player I watched games and played in games at Spartan Stadium.''

Caragher, who spent the past six years at San Diego, replaces Mike MacIntyre to become the 28th coach at the school. He signed a five-year contract a week after MacIntyre left to take the head job at Colorado. The No. 24 Spartans finished the regular season 10-2.

After the 1-12 season two years ago featuring a heavy schedule of ranked teams, the Spartans went 5-7 in MacIntyre's second season last year before this season's rise to become a nationally respected program.

``Things were up in the air when we didn't know much,'' Spartans quarterback David Fales said. ``We finally have a coach again and we can get back to work.''

Caragher replaced Jim Harbaugh, who is coaching the San Francisco 49ers, at San Diego, where he compiled a 44-22 record with three conference championships. He's also been an assistant coach at UCLA, Kentucky.

Harbaugh learned Monday afternoon that San Jose State had hired Caragher, and called him a ``wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guy and coach.''

``I would stop back down there when I was in San Diego. Talked on the phone many times and just through players who were still there at USD,'' Harbaugh said. ``Like I said when I'd be recruiting in San Diego I'd always stop by the trailer and see if anybody was there. Ron's been up here recruiting in the Bay Area when I was over at Stanford. We'd run into each other. Great guy. Great guy, great family. My son will be disappointed. He's friends with Ron's son. They go to the same high school. But that's great. Great hire by San Jose State.''

``He talked to us a team,'' Fales said of Caragher. ``From everything I've heard he's a down-to-earth person who really cares about his players.''

Caragher attended Bellarmine Prep in San Jose before going on to UCLA, where he spent four years as a backup quarterback.

``Being at San Diego, we would recruit the Bay Area,'' Caragher said. ``I've always come up every December and I had a trip planned this year. Northern California has been very good to us and I hope it can continue to be good.''

San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said Caragher was always an option as a potential candidate.

``I have followed Coach Caragher's career for some time,'' said Bleymaier, who came to San Jose State from Boise State. ``I've always hoped I would have the opportunity to hire him here at some point. Little did I know it would be so soon.''

Bleymaier said the selection committee vetted about 10 candidates and brought in five for formal interviews.

``What impressed me about Ron was everything,'' Bleymaier said. ``From his reputation, his background, his local roots, it was a total package.''

Caragher has been nominated for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, which recognizes the top coach in the Football Championship Subdivision.

When San Jose State wide receiver Jabari Carr was introduced to Caragher, the coach quickly asked him to assume his stance and took a minute for a quick lesson.

``I'm impressed with how far this team came,'' Caragher said. ``That took commitment. I'm excited for this challenge and this opportunity.''

---

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report from San Francisco.

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Hard Knocks L.A. Episode 1 Recap: Anthony Lynn tested positive, Justin Herbert shines

Hard Knocks L.A. Episode 1 Recap: Anthony Lynn tested positive, Justin Herbert shines

Football is back on TV as the new season of HBO's Hard Knocks premiered Tuesday evening. It’s the first time in the documentary's 15 seasons that the show will follow two teams, the Los Angles Chargers and Los Angles Rams. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from episode one. 

Anthony Lynn tested positive

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn revealed in the opening scene that he had tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year. Lynn is the third known NFL head coach to have contracted the virus, joining New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Peyton and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

Justin Herbert shines

The Chargers first-round draft pick was the star player of episode one showing off his arm skills. He nailed almost every one of his targets during accuracy drills. The episode didn’t show too much of any player, but the former University of Oregon signal-caller stole the show in small amount of camera time he had

Rams head coach Sean McVay

Sean McVay’s introduction to the show had fans jealous of the panoramic views from his home in Los Angeles. McVay’s jokes were also a highlight of the episode. 

COVID-19 precautions and safety

Training camp is off-limits to fans in order to decrease potential exposure of the virus for players and staff. With that in mind, Hard Knocks is fans and media members first look at what an NFL training camp in 2020 looks like. From the frequent testing to the outdoor facilities that both the Rams and Chargers have invested in, it's a different type of training camp. It’s also a different type of Hard Knocks, but because of our desire for anything football-related, it has the potential to be one of the best seasons yet.
 
It will be tough to top the excitement of episode one but with two teams in action, there's no shortage of storylines. Episode two airs on HBO next Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. 

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Wizards' NBA Bubble Awards: Thomas Bryant was the clear MVP

Wizards' NBA Bubble Awards: Thomas Bryant was the clear MVP

The Wizards closed out their 2019-20 regular season on Thursday with a much-needed win, as they finished the year 25-47 and their time in the NBA's restart bubble 1-7. 

Those final eight games, though, were about much more than wins and losses. The team was evaluating their young players as they look ahead to next season when the expectations will be raised significantly.

Just looking at those eight games, here are some awards and superlatives for what we saw...

Most valuable: Thomas Bryant

This is a very easy call, it was a unanimous vote. Though Bryant wasn't the only young player who looked good in Orlando, he was by far their best player overall.

Bryant leaves the bubble with eight-game averages of 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. Those are big-time numbers, even if they were compiled on a team that went 1-7. Bryant took on a larger role in the offense and increased his volume while remaining efficient. He shot 53.2 percent overall and 40.5 percent from three.

Bryant took a big step forward. He was healthy after dealing with a foot problem earlier this season, and delivered. The Wizards have a legitimate starting center they can pencil in for next season, hopefully with the green light to take more threes.

RELATED: WIZARDS FINALLY WIN IN BUBBLE

Most improved: Jerome Robinson

This was one of the more unexpected, yet pleasantly surprising developments for the Wizards in the bubble. Robinson, who had spent his entire career to this point backing up really good players, finally got a chance to spread his wings. And, boy, did he.

Robinson found a newfound level of consistency, averaging 14.8 points while shooting a solid 36.7 percent from three. He reached double figures in scoring in seven of the eight games after only doing that four times in his previous 88 NBA appearances. 

Given the small sample size, and the stakes, it probably isn't enough to truly guarantee him a role going into next season. But he has absolutely earned a chance to compete for the back-up role behind Bradley Beal.

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Most intriguing: Troy Brown Jr.

Brown had a tremendous start in the bubble, but slowed down late as he was thrown into the fire as the starting point guard. Though he struggled in that role, it was an invaluable experience that he can take a lot of lessons from.

Overall, though, Brown made clear improvements in his game. He thrived with a greater share of the play-making duties and was able to showcase his skills as a passer and ball-handler.

It was enough to warrant some focus by the Wizards' coaching staff next season. Though they will have John Wall and Beal coming back, they have to find a way to incorporate Brown's strengths. That may come in a bench role as the primary ball-handler in the second unit.

Needs most improvement: Admiral Schofield

Not all of the Wizards' young players displayed growth in the bubble games and included in that group is Schofield, the team's 2019 second round pick. Unfortunately for him, it was all juxtaposed with the breakout performance of Bol Bol, whom the Wizards passed on to select Schofield out of the University of Tennessee.

Schofield averaged only 2.7 points in 12.6 minutes while shooting 29.4 percent from the field. He looked uncertain on the floor and continues to sort of float between roles with no defined path towards stability in the rotation.

Keep in mind, though, Schofield is just starting out his NBA career. He was a second round pick and those guys take time. He has the physical tools, the work ethic and the smarts to make it in this league. But there is no question this will be an important offseason for the guy.

Best moment: Moe Wagner vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The most memorable image from the Wizards' time in Orlando was definitely the ejection of the league's reigning MVP in their penultimate game. Antetokounmpo has since been suspended by the league for it.

He lost his cool and headbutted Wagner, who now has another notch on his belt in his neverending quest to get under the skin of his opponents. He is a pest and an effective one at that.

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