Wizards

Friday's Sports In Brief

Friday's Sports In Brief

NHL

NEW YORK (AP) NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he is out of ideas on how to get negotiations back on track to save the hockey season.

Talks fell apart Thursday night amid back-and-forth accusations, and the fallout was still being felt a day later. The two sides had no contact with each other on the 83rd day of the owners' lockout of players.

The players' most recent proposal was turned down quickly on Thursday by the NHL, which wanted a yes or no answer on three specific conditions the league said were non-negotiable. When the union tried to bargain the points, the meeting ended abruptly, leaving talks in limbo.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Butch Jones agreed to become Tennessee's fourth football coach in six seasons, ending a tumultuous couple of days for both parties.

Jones has a 50-27 record in six seasons as a head coach. He went 27-13 in three seasons at Central Michigan and was 23-14 at Cincinnati the last three years. He now faces the task of rebuilding a former SEC power that has posted three consecutive losing seasons.

During the 19-day search to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired Nov. 18 after going 15-21 in his three-year tenure, the Volunteers also spoke with ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Jon Gruden, and Louisville coach Charlie Strong.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A lawyer for former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky said his client has gotten his fighting spirit back after his child abuse conviction and sentencing and hopes prison officials will find a way to house him under less restrictive conditions.

Karl Rominger said after spending several hours with Sandusky at Greene State Prison in southwestern Pennsylvania that Sandusky's outlook has improved since he was sentenced two months ago. He said they discussed pending post-sentencing motions and plans for an appeal.

Sandusky, a former assistant to head football coach Joe Paterno, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys, some on campus. He's serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.

NFL

WASHINGTON (AP) - The New York Jets and their quarterback controversy have turned into Washington's political football.

In August, President Barack Obama questioned the Jets' decision to acquire Tim Tebow when they had quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had led the team to the playoffs two years in a row. Then this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a swipe at Republicans in the midst of tough fiscal cliff negotiations, comparing them to the Jets and their quarterback uncertainty.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Reid said the Jets have three quarterbacks - Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy. Reid then said Republicans can't decide on their leader either.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball's average salary increased 3.8 percent this year to a record $3.2 million. According to final figures released Friday by the Major League Baseball Players Association, the rise was the steepest since 2007.

The boost was helped by an increase in the minimum salary from $414,000 to $480,000.

The Yankees had the highest average for the 14th consecutive season at $6.88 million, rising after consecutive declines from a peak of $7.66 million when they won the World Series in 2009.

The Dodgers boosted their average from 13th to second at $5.55 million. At $684,940, Houston had the lowest average since the 2006 Florida Marlins at $594,722.

BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - USA Basketball is expanding its reach into youth basketball, partnering with iHoops, the joint initiative formed by the NBA and NCAA to improve programs for young players.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said the move is ``an opportunity to make a big impact'' on the development of young players and will help his organization find elite players who could eventually play for U.S. national teams.

iHoops was formed in 2009 and Colangelo said he always believed it would be a part of USA Basketball because his organization has the leadership and business components in place to make it successful. He said specific plans will be announced in early 2013.

SPORTS BETTING

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA have filed legal papers calling New Jersey's effort to allow sports gambling an ``unlawful scheme'' and a ``blatant violation'' of federal law.

The leagues sued Gov. Chris Christie in August after he announced plans to allow gambling on pro and college games at casinos and racetracks. New Jersey's legislature passed a sports betting law earlier in the year. In the brief, the leagues reject New Jersey's argument that a 1992 federal law restricting sports gambling to a handful of states is unconstitutional.

The NCAA has already pulled some events from New Jersey over the dispute.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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USA Today Sports Images

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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