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Cristobal returning to Miami as associate coach

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Cristobal returning to Miami as associate coach

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Mario Cristobal is returning to the Miami Hurricanes.

The school said that Cristobal was hired on Thursday as the Hurricanes' associate head coach and tight ends coach. It's Cristobal's fourth stint at Miami: He played for two national-championship teams there between 1988 and 1992, was a graduate assistant from 1998 through 2000 and then returned as an assistant coach from 2004 through 2006.

Cristobal spent the past six seasons as the head coach at Florida International, which fired him last month after two bowl appearances.

At Miami, Cristobal assumes the duties of coaching tight ends from Brennan Carroll, who will now coach wide receivers.

Also Thursday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that former Miami player Kareem Brown is returning as a graduate assistant with the defensive line. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Brown's hiring had not been formally announced by the university.

For Cristobal, it's yet another Hurricane homecoming.

He won two national championships with Miami as a player and was a first-team All-Big East offensive lineman as a senior in 1992. He was a graduate assistant at Miami from 1998 through 2000, then returned as an assistant coach from 2004 through 2006.

And now, he starts a fourth stint as a `Cane.

``Even with all the places I've been, I've always loved the University of Miami,'' Cristobal said last year.

Cristobal has also coached at Rutgers, was briefly with the Denver Broncos as a player in 1994 and had a playing stint in NFL Europe. He was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

Cristobal left Miami to become the head coach at FIU, turning around a moribund program and taking it to a Sun Belt championship and the first two bowl games in the school's history. He spent six seasons at FIU before being fired - a move that surprised many around the Panthers' program - and speculation immediately began that he and Miami would find a way to reunite.

Cristobal's addition would figure to be a major help for Miami in recruiting, particularly in South Florida. Cristobal is a Miami native, with strong ties to virtually all of the region's top high school programs, and recruited all parts of talent-rich Florida extensively when he was running the program at FIU.

``Welcome back to the family Coach Cristobal,'' Miami running back Dallas Crawford wrote on Twitter.

Brown, who played at Miami Norland High, was with the Hurricanes from 2002 through 2006 and was drafted by the New England Patriots. He had brief stays with the Patriots, New York Jets, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans as an NFL player.

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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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