Redskins

Guide to the 2012-13 college basketball season

Guide to the 2012-13 college basketball season

College basketball came down to the blue bloods last season, with Kentucky adding to its Hoops Rushmore resume in a Final Four that included Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State.

The mid-majors figure to play a major role this season.

While Indiana is the preseason No. 1 for the first time in 33 years and big names like Duke, North Carolina and Arizona are loaded with talent, it's the little guys who could make the most noise this season.

Just look at the preseason All-America team. It features Creighton's Doug McDermott, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and Murray State's Isaiah Canaan, players who could be stars anywhere.

The Top 25 also is littered with mid-majors, including Creighton, UNLV, San Diego State and always-there Gonzaga.

With so many good teams and players from smaller conferences, yeah, it should be a fun season.

Here's a few other things to look for.

---

TOP TEAMS

Indiana: The long climb from the embarrassment of an NCAA phone-call scandal appears to finally be over. The Hoosiers have 7-foot center Cody Zeller and the kind of team that could make a title run.

Kentucky: The Calipari Method: Sign future NBA players, win, lose them to the NBA, repeat.

Louisville: Rick Pitino flexed his coaching muscles with one of the best jobs of his career last season and may not be done with most of the players from that team back.

Ohio State: Jared Sullinger and William Buford are gone. Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft are not. Thad Matta rarely leaves the cupboard bare.

Michigan: Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. make up a backcourt that could help the Charlotte Bobcats win more games. They certainly will in Ann Arbor.

Creighton. Can't tout the mid-majors and not include one team to watch. Coach's son Doug McDermott is an unstoppable force and the Bluejays have plenty of returning players to help him out.

Baylor (women). Brittney Griner and company are good enough to be mentioned here. Might give a men's team or two a run for its money.

---

TOP PLAYERS

Cody Zeller, Indiana. Might be the best player in Clan Zeller, which is saying something coming from that family.

Tim Burke, Michigan. Led Wolverines in scoring and assists last season. Don't expect a sophomore slump. He's too good to have one.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State. Played in the shadow of Jared Sullinger last season. Won't this year, especially after a confidence-building run through the NCAA tournament.

Doug McDermott, Creighton. Missouri Valley player of the year, third nationally in scoring, preseason All-American - might want to keep an eye on this guy.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh. Score, score and score some more. Pretty good rebounder and can dish as well.

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State. Not many players from Murray State can - at least realistically - say they bypassed the NBA to return to school. Canaan did and could be a national player of the year candidate.

---

BEST NONCONFERENCE GAMES

Syracuse vs. San Diego State, Nov. 11, on the USS Midway in San Diego. The original Battle on the Midway was spectacular. This one might have a tough time matching the magic of that game - a president in attendance, that purplish twilight - but two ranked teams on an aircraft carrier just has to be cool.

Kentucky vs. Duke, Nov. 13, Atlanta. Two heavyweights get an early test in the season. It may not have a moment like Christian Laettner's jumper in the 1992 NCAA tournament, but there'll be enough talent to make this a must-watch game.

North Carolina at Indiana, Nov. 27. Another power-program showdown, this one will be a gauge for the Hoosiers to see if they live up to the hype.

Florida at Arizona, Dec. 15. They played a memorable overtime game at Florida last season, won by the Gators. This one will feature some of the best groups of big men in the country on the floor at the same time.

Kansas at Ohio State, Dec. 22. Rematch of last year's Final Four game won by Kansas will feature plenty of new players for the Jayhawks and a couple of familiar ones for the Buckeyes.

Kentucky at Louisville, Dec. 29. Another rematch of last year's Final Four with two teams who don't like each other will be a nice late Christmas present.

---

NEWCOMERS

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky. The bluest of coach John Calipari's blue chippers this season, the 6-foot-10 forward has an elevated game and the hair to match it.

Jahii Carson, Arizona State. Sun Devils fans have been waiting a year for Carson to be eligible and the sophomore point guard isn't likely to disappoint with that wicked crossover and super hops.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA. Bruins coach Ben Howland landed a stellar recruiting class this season, led by the left-handed Muhammad. The key is getting him on the court; the NCAA is still investigating whether he received improper benefits from boosters of an AAU team.

Grant Jerrett, Arizona. Arizona coach Sean Miller says Jerrett is as far along as any incoming big man he's seen - and he's seen a few good ones.

Steven Adams, Pittsburgh. The former rugby player from New Zealand should fit right in with the Big East bangers.

---

NEW COACHES

Kevin Ollie, Connecticut. Replacing a three-time national champion (Jim Calhoun) won't be easy. Doing it as a first-time coach on a one-year contract will add a degree or two of difficulty.

Larry Brown, Southern Methodist. Of all the options for the 71-year-old Hall of Famer to end up, few saw this one coming.

Frank Martin, South Carolina. With one of the more surprising moves in the offseason, Martin will try to rebuild another program after making Kansas State relevant.

Danny Manning, Tulsa. Danny probably won't need a miracle in his first coaching job. Learned from one of the best as an assistant under Bill Self at Kansas.

Richard Pitino, Florida International. Rick's son has proven to be pretty sharp himself.

---

TRANSFERS TO WATCH

Mark Lyons, Arizona. He went to the NCAA's final 16 three times before graduating from Xavier. He's reunited with the coach who recruited him there, giving Sean Miller and heady, quick point guard who won't wither under the spotlight.

Alex Oriakhi, Missouri. Was a key contributor to UConn's 2011 national title run. The powerful big man could have a similar impact on the Tigers.

Aaric Murray, West Virginia. One of three transfers landed by coach Bob Huggins, he could have the biggest impact after leading La Salle in scoring at 15.2 points a game and in rebounding at 7.7.

Ryan Harrow, Kentucky. In case the Wildcats didn't have enough talent with another top recruiting class, they added Harrow from North Carolina State. After a year of waiting, he gets his turn to run the show in Lexington.

Trey Zeigler, Pittsburgh. A former McDonald's All-American, he was allowed to leave Central Michigan when his father, Ernie, was let go. Dude can shoot, too, averaging over 16 points the past two seasons.

Quick Links

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

scherffvideo102918.jpg
USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

anibal_sanchez_nationals_pitching_usat.jpg
USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

 

NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.