Wizards

Graham finds success in first season at ASU

Graham finds success in first season at ASU

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Sitting in a sparse office that still had pictures leaning against the wall, coach Todd Graham spoke about changing the culture at Arizona State, of adding discipline to a program in need of a healthy dose.

That was in April, just after his first spring game as the Sun Devils' coach.

Nine months later, Graham's office looked more like an entertainment lounge, with a huge TV hanging in the corner, massive leather recliners and colorful photos hanging on the walls.

After an eight-win season that included a comeback over rival Arizona and a bowl blowout, the program he took over has that new and improved look, too.

``I think, no doubt, we have laid a solid foundation,'' Graham said. ``I don't think it's dry yet, so by no means have we arrived yet, but I am very proud of where we're at.''

Graham was faced with a daunting task when he arrived in the desert, taking over a program with a history of mediocrity on the field and apathy from its fan base.

Stumping like a politician, Graham spoke to anyone who would listen to pump up interest in the Sun Devils, promoting his plan to turn them into winners with an exciting but disciplined brand of football.

He backed it up once the season started.

Led by dynamic sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly, the Sun Devils rode Graham's high-octane offense to a 5-1 start and rallied from a four-game losing streak to win their final three games, including two big punctuation marks to end the season.

The first came against Arizona in the regular-season finale, when Arizona State rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Wildcats 41-34 and capture the Territorial Cup, one of Graham's top priorities for the season.

The Sun Devils capped that emotional victory with a momentum-for-next-year win at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco by steamrolling Navy 62-28 for their first bowl victory since the 2005 Insight Bowl.

``We go on that four-game losing streak and you hear Arizona State football is cratering again, but I never once saw any bad body language from our players,'' Graham said. ``I never saw any of our guys flinch, question anything that we were asking them to do, and that's how I know we got to their hearts, really built some trust. I was impressed by that.''

That trust might be Graham's biggest accomplishment, not what his team did in the standings.

Under previous coach Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils were known as a loosely reined bunch waiting to commit the next personal foul.

Once Graham arrived, he turned it into a yes-sir, no-sir operation, installing a dress code, a prohibition on cursing, no hats, earrings or headphones allowed in the football offices.

Graham's players bought into it wholeheartedly, going from worst in the Pac-12 in penalties to best with 30 fewer penalties than the next closest team, Stanford.

``If you would have come in here screaming, `Sit down, shut up, take your earring out,' I think you would have had a lot of pushback,'' Graham said. ``Our philosophy is not that. We treat these guys like young men. You act like a 13-year-old, we're going to treat you like a 13-year-old. But we asked them, `When you come into the building, would you take that earring out?' as a physical gesture that this isn't about you, it's about team.''

Even with success, Graham couldn't escape questions about his loyalty to the program.

After short stints in previous coaching stops, particularly his one-year run at Pittsburgh, the perception was that Graham was a coach who wouldn't stick around for the long haul, someone who would bolt if a better opportunity presented itself.

Graham assuaged concerns in the months after getting the job with his whirlwind tour and built the program in his own image, yet when the season ended and job openings cropped up, the rumblings started up again.

Not that he cared.

``I'm committed to be here. It doesn't bother me,'' Graham said. ``I can tell you my wife and I bought our dream house, we're paying it off in the next three years and win, lose or draw I'm going to be living out there at the base of the McDowell mountain range.''

The future doesn't look too bad for the Sun Devils, either.

Kelly will be back after setting a school record by completing 67.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,039 yards and 29 touchdowns. Leading rusher Marion Grice will be back, as will talented freshman running back D.J. Foster.

The Sun Devils also got a big boost when defensive lineman Will Sutton, the first ASU player to earn consensus All-America honors since Terrell Suggs in 2002, announced he will return for his senior season rather than head to the NFL.

Graham had a solid first recruiting class in 2012 despite having just a few months to work on it and has been busy scouring the country for talent leading up to signing day next month.

``It's been going pretty well so far,'' Graham said. ``We're well on our way to 2013.''

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How to watch Pistons at Wizards ‘Predict the Game’ broadcast

How to watch Pistons at Wizards ‘Predict the Game’ broadcast

The Washington Wizards return to Capital One Arena to host the Detroit Pistons on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 2 p.m. 

The Wizards are hoping to not only bounce back after suffering from a tough 140-111 loss in Toronto Friday night but also to snap their losing streak at home. Monday’s game will be the Wizards last home, before hitting the road until they return home on January 30th. 

The Wizards currently lead the series 2-1, the Wizards won both matchups against the Pistons on Nov.4 and Dec. 16. However, most recently the Wizards fell short 132-102 on Dec 26th. Will the Wizards be able to win the season series on Monday?

Take your Wizards experience to the next level and get involved in the action with NBC Sports Washington's newest Predict the Game contest.

'PREDICT THE GAME' HOW TO WATCH

What is this broadcast? Predict the Game is an easy-to-enter, free contest that allows fans to predict various game and player performance outcomes through a series of approximately 12-15 questions per quarter that will appear on-screen during the alternate telecast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Predict the Game leaderboards will be displayed at select times, and the winner of each contest will be revealed throughout the game and during NBC Sports Washington’s postgame coverage.

Where can I find it? Contest questions and leaderboards will be displayed on NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder).

Additionally, the broadcast can be streamed on desktopiOS and Android devices. 

The NBC Sports Washington Plus presentation will, for the first time, feature special hosts, who will appear at various times to address Predict the Game participants and provide contest updates, information and results. The enhanced experience will contain the majority of the same video and audio (including announcers) as the primary live-game coverage, which will be available simultaneously on NBC Sports Washington.

How do I win? Fans will earn points for both answering questions (1 point) and correct predictions (1 or 2 points, depending on the question), with the top eligible scorer at the end of each game earning or splitting the $500 prize.

Each quarter will be its own contest, with an entirely new leaderboard starting from scratch, so even if fans miss out on the start of the game there will still be plenty of time to play and win. 

Fans must enter Predict the Game, which is open to join throughout the entire game, and submit their predictions at www.nbcsportswashington.com/predict.

WIZARDS vs. PISTONS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Detroit Pistons

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Pistons will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Pistons on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. PISTONS TV SCHEDULE

1:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

1:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

2:00 PM: Wizards vs. Pistons (LIVE)

4:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

5:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

5:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS 2019-20 'PREDICT THE GAME' SCHEDULE

January 6: vs Boston (7 p.m.)

January 20: vs Detroit (2 p.m.)

January 26: at Atlanta (6 p.m.)

February 3: vs Golden State (7 p.m.)

February 11: vs Chicago (7 p.m.)

February 21: vs Cleveland (7 p.m.)

February 26: vs Brooklyn (7 p.m.)

March 3: at Sacramento (10 p.m.)

March 10: vs New York (7 p.m.)

March 18: at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m.)

March 15: vs Phoenix (7 p.m.)

April 1: vs New Orleans (7 p.m.)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Former Raven Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound

Former Raven Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound

Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24 Sunday to advance to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. 

Suggs, who spent 16 seasons with the Ravens, will look to cement his Hall of Fame candidacy with a victory in his second Super Bowl appearance (Won SB XLVII) this time as a member of the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Suggs departed from Baltimore before the 2019 season, signing a one-year deal with his hometown Arizona Cardinals before being waived mid-season. 

The Ravens were rumored to be interested in a reunion with their all-time leader in sacks but did not put in a claim, being last in waiver priority, and Suggs was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs.



While the Ravens' 2019 season ended prematurely at the hands of the Titans, fans in Baltimore can take solace knowing that Suggs and the Chiefs helped bring the Titans' magical season to an end.

Suggs' accolades (2011 AP Def. Player of the Year, 2003 AP Def. Rookie of the Year, 7x Pro-Bowl, 1x All-Pro) will stand the test of time, but adding a second Super Bowl ring to his resume would make his Hall of Fame candidacy that much greater. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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