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Defense helps No. 4 Michigan get to NIT title game

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Defense helps No. 4 Michigan get to NIT title game

NEW YORK (AP) Trey Burke scored 17 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 16 points and No. 4 Michigan shut down Pittsburgh defensively in the second half to reach the championship of the NIT Season Tipoff with a 67-62 win Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh's Tray Woodall made a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, and Pittsburgh (4-1) pressed after a timeout. But Michigan (4-0) made eight straight free throws to close it out.

James Robinson made a layup and was fouled with 3.5 seconds left, but missed the free throw and Michigan had the arrow for a jump ball that followed on the rebound. Pittsburgh fouled on the inbounds and Burke made the free throws while Michigan's fans chanted ``Beat Ohio!'' - a reference to Saturday's football game against archrival Ohio State.

Before that game, the basketball Wolverines will play Kansas State for the title on Friday afternoon. The Wildcats beat Delaware, which will face Pittsburgh in the consolation game.

Lamar Patterson led the Panthers with 14 points.

It was a disappointing finish for a well-balanced Pittsburgh team that was expected to have an outside shot at contending in the strong and deep Big East conference - and looked set to score a big nonconference win early.

The Panthers led by eight in the first half and six in the second, but Michigan began to use its 1-3-1 defense to slow them down and limit their field goals until they got down to making free throws late.

Before closing with a bunch of layups that Michigan seemed willing to concede due to the game situation, the Panthers shot 5 of 20 from the floor, mostly against the zone.

Hardaway tied it for Michigan at 44 on a layup with a little more than nine minutes remaining, and from there slowly pulled away. Michigan made 18 of 22 free throws to Pittsburgh's 6-for-11 effort from the line.

A key part of Michigan's offense is 3-point shooting, and the Wolverines struggled from beyond the arc for most of the game. At one point, they'd made one of 10. Before Glenn Robinson III made one with about 11 minutes to go that cut Pittsburgh's lead to two points.

Michigan responded after a slow start in its first test after demolishing subpar competition in its first three games - which it won by an average of 35 points - and the Wolverines struggled early.

Pitt led 33-29 at halftime thanks to some poor 3-point shooting by Michigan, whose only make was by Nik Stauskas in a 1-for-7 half. The Panthers made 5 of 12 from behind the arc and their size gave the Wolverines more trouble than they had been used to.

Stauskas finished with 15 points.

In their first four games, the Panthers overcame a brief scare in an overtime win against mid-major Oakland, along with three other easy wins.

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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