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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Check out the names on the Wizards' Summer League training camp roster

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Check out the names on the Wizards' Summer League training camp roster

NBA Summer League is right around the corner. While the Washington Wizards continue a search for a new president, they do have one thing pinned down: the Summer League training camp roster.

The Wizards open Summer League play in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 6, when they take on No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Mini camp begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday. Players will participate in a two-hour practice each day.

Here is the training camp roster:

Noah Allen, G/F, Hawaii (Capital City Go-Go)
Armoni Brooke, G, Houston
Elijah Brown, G/F, Oregon (Grand Rapids Drive)
Troy Brown Jr., F, Oregon (Washington Wizards)
Dontay Caruthers, G, Buffalo
Troy Caupain Jr., G, Cincinnati (Orlando Magic)
Corey Davis, G, Houston
Dikembe Dixson, F, UIC (Capital City Go-Go)
Kellen Dunham, G, Butler (Capital City Go-Go)
John Egbunu, C, Florida
Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
Vince Hunter, F, UTEP (AEK Athens Greece)
Garrison Mathews, G, Lipscomb
Tarik Phillip, G, Ukraine (Petrol Limpija Ukraine)
Admiral Schofield, F, Tennessee
James Thompson IV, F/C, Eastern Michigan
Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Lavrio B.C. Greece)
Tony Wroten, G, Washington (BC Kalev-Cramo Estonia)

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

 

2018-19 stats

 

Noel Acciari (27 years old):72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

 

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

 

Marcus Kruger (29 years old): 74 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 10:25 TOI

 

Playoffs: None

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

 

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

 

Marcus Kruger: 1 year, $861,030 cap hit

 

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to give an obvious fourth-line player a decent raise. The Capitals might not, either, but for now, they really only have to add in RFA Jakub Vrana’s new contract and figure out what they’re going to do with RFA Andre Burakovsky. 

 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot.  

 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.  

 

The case for Marcus Kruger

 

A different skill set here for the smaller Kruger (6-foot, 186 pounds). Don’t expect even double-digit goals from him, either. But Kruger will likely cost less than $1 million and can be a valuable penalty killer, where Washington needs help. That’s huge for a team that is now dealing with an $81.5 million salary cap, which is $1.5 million less than expected. Add in the overage bonus for defenseman Brooks Orpik from last season and you’re in trouble at just over $80 million.   

 

Kruger played seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and one disappointing one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kruger has plenty of Stanley Cup experience, too, playing for Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Cup winners. He has 87 postseason games and a triple-overtime game-winner in the Western Conference Final to his name in 2015 in Game 2 of that series against Anaheim. 

 

A defensive specialist, only two Blackhawks forwards played more short-handed minutes than Kruger (132:46) last season. There is risk here. Kruger was traded to Carolina in 2017-18, but was placed on waivers after 48 games and spent the rest of the season in the AHL before being traded to Arizona and then back to Chicago. But part of that stemmed from how much he was making on a $3.08 million cap hit. At a bargain-basement price, Kruger is more palatable. 

 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.

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