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Cardinals hire Bruce Arians as head coach

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Cardinals hire Bruce Arians as head coach

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have filled the NFL's final head coaching vacancy by hiring Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The team confirmed the hiring in a release Thursday night, saying Arians received a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth year.

The 60-year-old longtime assistant went 9-3 as Colts interim head coach while Chuck Pagano was undergoing treatment for leukemia last season.

Arians arrived in Arizona on Wednesday night, had dinner with top team officials, then interviewed on Thursday and met with reporters to indicate his interest in the job.

He was offered and accepted the job Thursday night. Arians also was a finalist for the Chicago job that went to Marc Trestman.

Arians was the sixth known candidate interviewed to replace Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired after six seasons.

Whisenhunt was introduced on Thursday as the offensive coordinator for new head coach Mike McCoy in San Diego.

The Cardinals said Arians would be introduced as coach at a 3 p.m., EST (1 p.m. local time) news conference on Friday.

The team posted a photo of Arians getting a congratulatory call from Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is vacationing in Belize and undoubtedly will welcome anyone who can do something to revive a dreadful offense.

In his meeting with reporters earlier Thursday, before he was hired, Arians said his stint as Pagano's replacement ``answered all questions I ever had'' about whether he could succeed as an NFL coach.

``I hope it answered all the questions everybody else has had for all these years,'' he said.

It apparently did for the Cardinals, who lost 10 of 11 this season to finish 5-11 for the second time in three years.

Arians said there are young coaches for teams still in the playoffs that will be denied a chance to be a head coach now because of their teams' success.

``Maybe I was a victim of that a couple of times,'' he said. ``Hey, I'll take the Super Bowl ring and look back later. You can't worry about why you never got one or why have you got one this time. I'm just happy it happened, and I look forward to seeing what's made of it and what turns out.''

Arians has been a football coach since his days as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech in 1975 and he has 20 years of experience as an NFL assistant. He also was head coach at Temple for five seasons.

Wearing a Super Bowl ring from his days in Pittsburgh prominently on his right hand, he said his stint as head coach in Indy taught him that being a head coach is ``not as hard as it's supposed to be.''

``It's really not,'' Arians said. ``I think it's all about building relationships. Coaching is all about relationships. As long as it's built on trust, loyalty, and respect, anything is possible.''

When the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Thursday, Arizona's job was the only one still open.

Arians was wide receivers coach in Pittsburgh and he succeeded Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator there. He was Steelers offensive coordinator when Pittsburgh beat Whisenhunt's Cardinals in the 2009 Super Bowl. Arians left the Steelers to become Pagano's offensive coordinator last year, taking over as interim coach when Pagano left for treatment for leukemia.

``It has been an unbelievable 12 months for me personally,'' Arians said.

McCoy was among those interviewed by Cardinals President Michael Bidwill. Other known Arizona candidates were Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

Horton has a year left on his contract and his future with the organization was in question.

Asked Thursday afternoon if he would keep Horton as defensive coordinator if he got the Arizona job, Arians declined to discuss the prospect.

``Right now it's way too early in the process,'' Arians said. ``Obviously, I know Ray. I've got a history with Ray. But all those things would be way down the road. Guys are under contract. You can't really comment on staff members at this point in time.''

Horton was defensive backs coach with the Steelers when Arians was offensive coordinator there.

The Cardinals had the worst offense in the NFL, and Arians downplayed any similarities to his offensive scheme and the one used by Whisenhunt. He said that after Whisenhunt left the Steelers for Arizona, he and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sat down and simplified the playbook.

Arians said his offense has some similarities, but many differences from the one implemented by Whisenhunt.

Arians emphasized the importance of building a close relationship with the quarterback.

``As a head coach or an offensive coordinator, you're tied to that guy,'' Arians said. ``Your future is him. You better realize that, and you better have a heck of a strong relationship so that when it's really tough in the game, he's telling you what he's seeing, not what he thinks you might want to hear.''

Quarterback is a major problem for Arizona. The only one of the four who got a start in the Cardinals' 5-11 season that had any success was Kevin Kolb, and he went down with a rib injury in Week 6 and never returned.

Arians said the Cardinals must either improve what they have at the position or find a new one behind what he called ``Door No. 2.''

He said he would call the plays as head coach ``until I can find someone who is going to do it better than me. I haven't found him yet.''

He said he would not leave Indianapolis for just any head coaching job.

``I said early when some teams contacted my agent about setting up interviews,'' he said, ``I'm going to have a heck of a feeling about that organization, owner, general manager, team, to leave where I am right now.''

Did he have that feeling with Arizona?

``Yes,'' he said. ``I do.''

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Bradley Beal still feels 'disrespected' by referees

Bradley Beal still feels 'disrespected' by referees

Back in December following a tough loss to the Clippers, Bradley Beal's frustration with the referees boiled over. 

"Honestly, [my frustration] is out the roof," Beal said that night. "It really is. It's really unfair and unacceptable that they allow a lot of stuff to go on with me out there and I do not calls. Period. It's just unacceptable."

Everything for the Wizards' offense this season starts and ends with Beal, and while he's averaging career-best scoring numbers, he remains frustrated at how he doesn't get to the foul line enough. 

In a 134-129 loss to the Heat Wednesday night, Beal went off for 38 points on 16-24 shooting to go with nine rebounds and four assists. He only had four free throw attempts, resulting in another postgame riff about how he and his team aren't officiated the same as others. 

“It’s kind of sad the way we get disrespected," he said. "Especially myself getting disrespected like I do because I attack the basket.”

Among 32 players who average at least 20 points, Beal ranks ninth in free throw attempts per game. The Wizards themselves are 14th in the NBA in free throw attempts per game. 

What had Beal particularly upset was not getting the whistle when he aggressively attacked the basket in the game's final moments.

"You can look at my last three drives and I got fouled on all three of them," he said. 

The NBA doesn't typically tolerate players and coaches openly criticizing referees after games. Beal knows he could be fined for his comments, so it shows just how frustrated the two-time All-Star is with how he's being called this season. 

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Former Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard retires after 14 seasons

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Former Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard retires after 14 seasons

One of the Washington Mystics' first stars is hanging up her shoes.

Alana Beard, who spent the first seven seasons of her professional career with the Mystics after Washington drafted her No. 2 overall in 2004, announced her retirement from the sport on Wednesday.

During her time in Washington, Beard made the All-Star team four times. Her best season with the Mystics was in 2006, where she averaged a career-high 19.1 points per game and won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

After missing nearly two years with multiple injuries, Beard signed with the Los Angeles Sparks during free agency in 2012, and spent the rest of her career out west. She won her first WNBA championship in 2016 with the Sparks, highlighted by her game-winning three-pointer in Game 1 of the Finals.

Congratulations on a great career, Alana!

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