Nationals

Georgia still recovering from 'toughest loss'

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Georgia still recovering from 'toughest loss'

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Less than two weeks after Georgia finished 5 yards away from a berth in the national championship game, it's still tough for some players to shift their focus to their Capital One Bowl matchup with Nebraska.

The sting from the Bulldogs' 32-28 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game lingered as bowl practice began Wednesday.

``It was the toughest loss I've ever been a part of,'' said senior receiver Tavarres King.

Quarterback Aaron Murray usually can't wait to devour game film. This game was different.

``I dreaded watching it, but I did,'' Murray said.

Murray said Georgia still has a lot to play for. The Jan. 1 bowl game in Orlando is not a BCS bowl, but Murray said the game will define the Bulldogs' season.

Murray said No. 5 Georgia (11-2) can reach 12 wins for only the third time in school history and finish in the top five of the polls, ``which is an unbelievable season.''

``It can definitely hurt us is we don't win the game,'' Murray said. ``We drop out of the top 10 and it becomes just another season.''

Time expired in the loss to Alabama after receiver Chris Conley caught a deflected pass and was tackled at the 5. Murray's pass was intended for Malcolm Mitchell.

The plan was for a touchdown or incompletion, leaving time for another play. The tipped pass, and subsequent catch, was the worst ending for Georgia.

``I think most of them understand that you can't turn the clock back,'' said coach Mark Richt. ``We fought hard, we had a great plan, we did what we could do that day. We just couldn't get it done. We didn't do enough to get it done, but everybody knows that you have to move on.''

Richt's news conference, designed to preview the bowl game, was dominated by questions about the loss to Alabama.

``There were three teams left. We were one of them,'' Richt said, referring to teams still in the national championship race before the SEC championship game.

``I'd say the same thing I said after the game. I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the game, but not disappointed one bit in our players and coaches and how we battled.''

Richt said he wouldn't change his calls in the final seconds, including his decision to have Murray run a play with 15 seconds remaining instead of spiking the ball.

``If you run a system when you are used to going fast, it's no big deal to just call the next play,'' Richt said of Georgia's no-huddle offense. ``It's what we do. If we spike it, strategically you give them time to gather up and get their senses and get their calls in.''

Richt and Murray defended Conley for catching the deflection when an incompletion would have given Georgia another play.

Murray said he told Conley ``Don't even think about blaming yourself.''

``All of a sudden to see a ball right on you, it's hard to not catch it,'' Murray said.

Added Richt: ``A wide receiver catches the ball. That's his nature. For any wide receiver, if that ball hits in front of his face, he's going to go get it and go catch it.''

Murray, a junior, said he will study his NFL draft options after the bowl game.

``I'm going to think about it and pray about it and sit down with my family,'' Murray said.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Tuesday Murray could be a second- or third-round pick.

``I would go back another year if I were Aaron Murray because if you're not guaranteed a first-round pick it's wise to go back, especially if you play at Georgia with the talent around the quarterback there,'' Kiper said.

Kiper said there will be questions about Murray's size and inability to beat top teams like Alabama.

``Is he going to be 6 feet or a little over?'' Kiper asked. ``He's not going to be 6-2 or 6-3.''

Murray is listed as 6-foot-1.

``I am 6-1,'' he said with emphasis.

Asked about Kiper's comments, Murray said ``I don't know. He's not the one drafting anyone.''

Kiper projects three Georgia defensive players as first-round picks: junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, junior inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and senior nose tackle John Jenkins. Kiper ranks Jones No. 1.

Murray said he has good reason to push back his draft decision.

``I know personally I want to win a bowl game,'' he said. ``I haven't won one.''

Georgia lost to Central Florida in the 2010 Liberty Bowl in Murray's freshman season and lost to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl after last season.

Richt said he will challenge the team's leaders ``to finish better than we did a year ago and to solidify the job that they've done, because I think they've done an outstanding job to this point.''

Senior linebacker Christian Robinson said the challenge includes moving past the loss to Alabama.

``We want to be a team that finished, we don't want to be a great team that just gave up and laid down because their ultimate goal didn't happen,'' Robinson said. ``We were five yards from being somewhere else but we don't want to show that we weren't worthy of it by not finishing.''

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Nationals sign Jake Boone, who could be MLB's first fourth-generation player

Nationals sign Jake Boone, who could be MLB's first fourth-generation player

The first fourth-generation MLB player could make his career in Washington after Jake Boone—the son, nephew, grandson and great-grandson of former players—signed with the Nationals on Saturday as an undrafted free agent.

Boone’s father, Bret, played in the majors from 1992 to 2005. His uncle, Aaron, played from 1997 to 2009 and currently manages the New York Yankees. Bret and Aaron’s father Bob and grandfather Ray played for 18 and 12 years, respectively. Ray started the family dynasty in 1948, when he made his MLB debut as a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians.

Jake, a shortstop himself, was originally selected by the Nationals in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. He instead elected to honor his commitment to Princeton, where he played a total of 72 games and hit .250 with one home run and 24 RBIs. Bob, who is 72 years old, is a vice president of player development for the Nationals and senior advisor to GM Mike Rizzo.

With the 2020 MLB Draft being shortened to five rounds as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Jake didn’t have the chance to find out if he improved his draft stock enough to earn a higher selection. But after the rules were amended to allow for an increased number of undrafted signees, he will have the opportunity to follow in his family’s footsteps and get a Boone back on a major-league roster for the first time since Aaron retired in 2009.

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Tom Haberstroh believes Wizards' Rui Hachimura should be NBA All-Rookie First Team

Tom Haberstroh believes Wizards' Rui Hachimura should be NBA All-Rookie First Team

Rui Hachimura has had an impressive rookie season, even if there were some struggles along the way. But, was his first NBA campaign impressive enough to land an NBA All-Rookie First Team nod?

According to NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh, the answer is a clear yes.

“He does, in my book he’s first-team all-rookie," Haberstroh said Sunday on NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Pregame Live.

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Haberstroh understands that Hachimura may not get the same attention as other big-name rookies such as Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, but that shouldn't take away from his body of work. Though there were some tough showings at points during the campaign, which is to be expected, Hachimura established himself as a solid scorer. 

Yet, what is more impressive to Haberstroh than the 13.4 points per game as a rookie is how Hachimura kept that scoring total despite Washington's situation. The forward was thrown right into the middle of a young roster and asked to create shots. The analyst also noted that Hachimura started playing the sport of basketball at a much later age than other rookies and he's still competing at the same level.

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Hachimura also didn't have the luxury of John Wall, a point guard who could've helped him find more shot opportunities. For times throughout the season, he was asked to be one of "the guys" in Washington, which is no easy task for a rookie. When looking at what he did and who he did it with, Haberstroh thinks the All-Rookie honor makes sense. 

“The minutes that he played, the consistency from a scoring standpoint and the fact that he didn’t have a true playmaker to work with, John Wall out for the season," Haberstroh said. “It’s really been an impressive year for Rui Hachimura and I think he’s done a very, very good job considering the environment that seemed like guys were dropping left and right.”

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