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Heisman winner Manziel glad to get back in huddle

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Heisman winner Manziel glad to get back in huddle

Johnny Manziel is ready to get back to being Johnny Football.

After not talking to the media all season until Nov. 26, two days after the regular season finale, the Texas A&M quarterback has been from Florida to New York to Hollywood. Along the way, he won the Heisman Trophy and a host of other major awards.

Manziel is back on the College Station campus after a ``Tonight Show'' appearance this week, when he presented actress Megan Fox with a No. 12 Texas A&M baby jersey for her newborn son. Manziel did a Top 10 list for David Letterman last week, along with plenty of other media appearances as the Heisman winner.

``He got back in here the other day, he just said, `Hey, coach, I'm ready to play some football.' He's through with all that,'' Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said Wednesday.

``He can get back to just being with his teammates and practicing,'' the coach said during a conference call featuring the Cotton Bowl coaches. ``Just talking with him yesterday, he looks excited to just be off the circuit, be back in the huddle calling plays.''

No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2) plays 12th-ranked Oklahoma (10-2) at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 4. While Manziel will be the eighth Heisman winner to play in the Cotton Bowl, he is the first since Texas running back Ricky Williams 14 years ago.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said preparing to face Manziel presents unique challenges.

``Unique in that he's the leading rusher. It makes it really difficult. He throws the ball so well, throws it so well on the run,'' Stoops said. ``But he's one of those guys, maybe sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody because there he goes. He just has a great knack, an instinct for avoiding pressure and creating plays.''

Manziel had 4,600 yards of total offense in 12 games to break the SEC record set two years earlier by Heisman winner Cam Newton, who needed 14 games to gain 4,327 yards. Manziel became the first freshman, first player in the SEC and the fifth player overall with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season.

Along with the Heisman Trophy, Manziel was named The Associated Press Player of the Year, the SEC's top player and the winner of the Davey O'Brien Award that goes to the nation's top quarterback.

All of this for a kid who just turned 20 years old two weeks ago.

Sumlin said he has had a conversation with his young quarterback about handling things moving forward, and the fact that he's just getting started.

``People are asking, What are you going to do now? With success, there comes other things,'' Sumlin said. ``I think we've got a lot of the things in place here to help him, which really helped him through the process originally, and we've got a lot of things in place that are going to continue to help him handle a lot of these things. ... I think you can see he's pretty mature for a 20 year old.''

Without being specific, Sumlin said the Aggies would help Manziel through that process.

``But, like I said, shoot, he's happy to be back here in the building,'' Sumlin said. ``Sitting in meetings, watching video.''

Notes: With Aggies offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury gone to become Texas Tech's head coach, Sumlin said running backs coach Clarence McKinney will call plays in the Cotton Bowl. ... Before becoming Houston's head coach in 2008, and going to A&M after last season, Sumlin was an Oklahoma assistant for Stoops from 2003-07. Before that he was offensive coordinator at Texas A&M for a win over Oklahoma. ``I had great respect for Kevin before he was the O-coordinator there when they beat us,'' Stoops said. ``Heck, Kevin and I used to run around South Florida together recruiting when he was at Purdue, I was at K-State. We were chasing the same kids all the time.''

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WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

As Rui Hachimura continues to grow and take his lumps at the NBA level, one important point of development for the Wizards' rookie will be finishing through contact at the rim. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

On Wednesday night against the Spurs, Hachimura hit a nice hook shot over LaMarcus Aldridge and then finished through traffic after attacking a closeout a few plays later. He entered the game shooting nearly 70 percent at the rim, a major reason why he's one of the top-scoring rookies this season. 

Then at the end of the first half, Isaiah Thomas found Hachimura on a back-door cut for the easy slam. Well-timed cuts are a great source of points for young players. 

After the break, the ninth-overall pick flashed a little finesse at the rim for another pretty finish. 

His three-point shooting will have to improve at some point down the line and learning better positioning as a defender is something every rookie has to go through. 

Both of those skills can be improved in the practice gym or in the film room. Finishing at the basket through contact is learned by repetition in-game, so it's a promising sign to see Hachimura take the ball to the rim. 

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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosting the Spurs on Wednesday night brought together two of the 11 NBA teams that currently employ a female assistant coach. The Wizards have Kristi Toliver on their bench and the Spurs have Becky Hammon.

That confluence prompted a question to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich on the future of women in the NBA coaching ranks and whether a head coaching hire could happen sometime soon. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Though it has been five years since he hired Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in league history, Popovich is uncertain on exactly when a team will make the leap to hiring a woman to run their operation.

"That depends on people and organizations," he said. 

"It's a process and it doesn't happen quickly. But I think the more women there are [in the game] and as it becomes more commonplace and more the rule, it will then depend on an organization realizing there are women that can do this. Every woman can't, every man can't. But the point is there gotta be enough to choose from and it's gotta be pretty commonplace before I think somebody's gonna pull the trigger."

Popovich believes it will happen, he's just not sure when. The Wizards hiring Toliver last summer was another step in that direction and he believes she and others are showing the basketball world what they are capable of.

"There's no difference between a woman who knows the game and a man who knows the game. It's just another prejudice that probably has to be overcome just like a lot of other prejudices in the world have become less and less as people paid attention to them," Popovich said.

Hammon made the news over the weekend when Popovich was ejected from the Spurs' loss to the Kings and a committee of assistants coached the rest of the game. Popovich was asked why he didn't appoint Hammon to serve in the role for the rest of the game and he told reporters he was "not here to make history." 

Still, though there has never been a female head coach in any of the four major U.S. sports, it seems like the NBA is by far the closest with people like Hammon and Tolliver already knocking on the door.

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