Wizards

Depth big reason for No. 18 K-State's success

Depth big reason for No. 18 K-State's success

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Bruce Weber is willing to admit that he's not exactly pleased with the way Kansas State's Big 12 schedule worked out.

The double round-robin format means each team will play 18 games from the first week of January through the first week of March. To fit it all in, teams will only get one week during that stretch when they play just once - the closest thing to a bye that they'll get.

The 18th-ranked Wildcats had theirs after their very first game.

But if any team is built to deal with the rigors of conference life, it just may be Weber's bunch of veterans. Not only have most of them been through the grind a couple times, there are a lot of them: An astonishing 11 players average at least 11 minutes per game.

``That's a huge factor,'' said senior Rodney McGruder, who scored all but two of his 28 points in the second half of the Wildcats' win over then-No. 22 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

McGruder said one of the reasons for his late-game success was that the Cowboys had been worn down. Most of their starters had played at least 18 minutes in the first half - guard Markel Brown played 39 for the game - and foul trouble only served to compound their problem.

``Brown looked a little worn down at the end of the game, and we were subbing a little more,'' McGruder said. ``Guys were fresher. Depth is key. It's key to any successful team.''

Depth is one thing.

Quality depth is quite another.

The Wildcats (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) have six players averaging at least six points a game, and three more chip in at least four a game. They've had five different players lead them in scoring though 14 games, making them one of the most balanced teams in the Big 12, if not the country.

In their upset last month of then-No. 8 Florida, the Wildcats got 17 points in 39 minutes from Will Spradling. But they also had eight players get into the game for at least 17 minutes, and constant substituting helped fend off every move the Gators made down the stretch.

Kansas State followed the win with a brief winter break, and when the team reconvened after the holidays, guards Angel Rodriguez and Martavious Irving had come down with injuries.

The Wildcats were able to withstand losing two of their best ball-handlers and distributors because they could rely on others. Nino Williams and Omari Lawrence had break-out games in wins over UMKC and South Dakota.

``You don't beat Florida and not be very good,'' Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. ``They're very well-coached, they have some veteran players. Everybody is back from last year except one player. They're very good. They're supposed to be very good.''

He saw that firsthand last Saturday night.

``You got to have some other guys,'' said Ford, who had been looking for some depth of his own early in the season. ``McGruder's not going to be able to win it every night by himself. You have to have other guys step up, and you have to give Kansas State credit for that.''

While the depth is a luxury, Weber said it also creates some problems.

For one thing, it's hard to find enough minutes to go around.

Post players Adrian Diaz and D.J. Johnson have had trouble getting onto the court, simply because of the big guys playing in front of them. Same goes for Johnson's fellow freshman, Michael Orris, who's only played 36 minutes all season because of the log-jam in front of him.

``Adrian and A.J. we need to get in the mix,'' Weber said. ``One of those guys should have redshirted, but they were playing so well early. It was tough to do. We need to get one of those guys involved, because you never know what could happen. We've had injuries already and it could happen again.''

Especially with the schedule the Wildcats face the next couple months.

It starts back up again on Saturday, when they visit Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. Then another game on the road against TCU before returning home to face Oklahoma.

All in the span of a week.

Good thing for the Wildcats that they're built for the grind.

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Wizards releasing Chasson Randle opens roster spot, possibilities

Wizards releasing Chasson Randle opens roster spot, possibilities

The Washington Wizards released guard Chasson Randle Monday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington.

Head coach Scott Brooks briefly addressed the move ahead of Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

“He’s a terrific young man, a very good player,” Brooks said of Randle. “Just gives us more flexibility. Who knows what we might do with it. He’s definitely an NBA player.”

The additional space – the Wizards had one vacant roster slot even with Randle – brings up the question of which NBA player might join the roster next. For now, don’t expect a blockbuster move.

Randle, who Washington signed to the active roster on Oct. 30, likely clears waivers, and then would rejoin the Capital City Go-Go, Brooks said. It’s been a back-and-forth scenario for Randle between the Wizards and their G-League squad this season. The 6-foot-2 guard was on the Go-Go roster when Washington’s season tipped off, and assigned to the G-League squad at the time of Monday’s release. Randle scored 37 points in the Go-Go’s inaugural game. He did not enter a game for Washington.

The Wizards were forced to add a player by Oct. 30, a date that marked two weeks from the time the Washington traded Jodie Meeks to Milwaukee. League rules require a minimum of 14 players on the roster.

That two week timeline applies to the current scenario. For now, the Wizards save a bit on the luxury tax payment by waiving Randle, who was signed to a $1.24 million non-guaranteed contract. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, adding Randle cost the Wizards $14,955.5 per day. Washington saved approximately $8 million by dealing Meeks.

As Brooks acknowledged, the open spots create greater flexibility.  In wake of the Timberwolves trading disgruntled All-Star Jimmy Butler to the 76ers, multiple reports at least tangentially mentioned the Wizards’ as part of the mix.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Washington balked at including Bradley Beal. SI.com’s Chris Mannix reported teams are keeping tabs on the 3-9 Wizards in case role players like Jeff Green, Markieff Morris or Kelly Oubre Jr. become available should the slow start continue.

Randle’s release limits Washington’s backcourt depth, but the top four options are healthy entering its five-game home-stand. In theory two-way contract player Jordan McRae could be recalled from Capital City, but the wing guard is dealing with a groin injury, according to a source. McRae should be available later in the week.

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Redskins fans and players can both be right about FedEx Field frustrations

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Redskins fans and players can both be right about FedEx Field frustrations

The Redskins moved to 6-3 on Sunday by beating the Buccaneers in Tampa, and now sit two games clear in first place in the NFC East. 

That should be the biggest football story inside the Beltway. But it isn't. 

The story has become that two of the most high-profile members of the Washington defense said that they prefer playing road games to being in their home stadium. Why? Because on the road they can hear better and focus more since they don't have fans booing them. 

Seriously. 

"Home games, that’s some of the worst things I’ve seen. I’ve played on four different teams, never seen it that bad, with other team’s jerseys in the stands, the boos, whatever it may be," Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger said during an appearance on 106.7 the Fan's Grant and Danny program on Monday. 

"I’ve never been a part of nothing like that."

This freight train started moving on Sunday, when after the win in Tampa, Josh Norman said he likes playing on the road. Why? Because there aren't any boos.

"We go into the homestands, and it’s like an open bubble,” Norman said. “Like the other team’s turf or something. You hear more of them than you do us. Then if something bad happens, they suck. They sit back in their seat, and they boo."

There's a lot to unpack here. 

Norman and Swearinger are right. There are always a lot of visiting fans at FedEx Field. Some of that might be that Washington is a transient city, but some of it is also because other fans have determined that it's easy to get tickets at FedEx Field. 

Why is it easy for visiting fans to get tickets? Well, there's not much sizzle at FedEx Field.

The area doesn't have shopping or restaurants around it like many newer NFL stadiums. The traffic, like much of life in the D.C. area, is awful. The stadium itself is underwhelming; old and lacking character. 

The Redskins are working hard to overhaul the game day experience, and some of the efforts are alrady working. But the problem is some fans have soured on the idea of spending the day at FedEx Field, and that will take time to fix. Probably years. 

One obvious fix? A new stadium, preferably back in downtown D.C. That is a long way off though. 

Plenty of fans are bothered by Swearinger and Norman's comments, and they have reason for that, too. 

To start with, there are tens of thousands of fans at every home game, cheering on their club. Lifelong, loyal fans that pay good money to watch the Burgundy and Gold. 

Do some boo? Certainly. But they only boo when the team is bad. Play good, no boos. It's fairly simple.

And the boos aren't only about a specific game, or even a specific season. Many Redskins fans are just frustrated with the franchise in general for a litany of reasons. Things have been stable under Jay Gruden, but for a long time, they weren't. 

What isn't fair for Norman and Swearinger is they played zero part in the multi-decade erosion of the Redskins fan base. And some would argue the fan base hasn't actually eroded, just that fewer fans want to make the trek to the stadium and commit to the full day that is attending an NFL game.

For 20 years, Washington has played plenty of bad football at home. During that time, some fans simply decided they'd rather watch on television, or go for a walk, or do yard work, or hang with their family. 

The toughest part is that both Norman and Swearinger can be right, but the fans that are upset with the comments can be right as well. 

Are there good fans? Absolutely. Are there lots of visiting fans? Yep. 

It won't be fixed overnight. Winning is the best cure, however, as old fans will return and new fans will be created. 

Play well and there won't be any booing. Keep winning games and there won't be anything but burgundy in the stands. 

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