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Huskers LB Compton relishes last shot at B10 title

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Huskers LB Compton relishes last shot at B10 title

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Will Compton has been with Bo Pelini for all the ups and downs within the Nebraska football program the past five years, and no one in the Cornhuskers' camp wants a Big Ten championship more than the middle linebacker from Bonne Terre, Mo.

Compton, like his teammates, says all he's concerned with is Friday's game at Iowa (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten). But Compton and his teammates see the big picture.

A win secures the 17th-ranked Huskers' spot in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin and a chance to play for the school's first conference championship since 1999. A loss would leave the Huskers (10-2, 6-1) needing Ohio State to beat Michigan on Saturday in order to play in Indianapolis on Dec. 1.

For Compton, if there is to be a satisfying close to his college career, there is no alternative but to win a championship.

``Without a doubt,'' he said. ``I've never won a championship, even in high school or anything like that. Especially the seniors, we want to get this one. We've went through so much together. It would be a disappointment if we didn't win out and get ourselves a championship.''

Compton arguably is more heavily invested than any of the 29 seniors.

He originally pledged to play for former coach Bill Callahan. When Callahan was fired, Compton gave second looks to Missouri, Illinois and Notre Dame. Finally, he came around to putting his faith in Nebraska's first-time head coach.

Compton was a starter along with Ndamukong Suh on one of the nation's best defenses in 2009. He came close to winning Big 12 championships in 2009-10.

Last year the defense was average, at best, and there were blowout losses at Wisconsin and Michigan, a stunning defeat at home to Northwestern and a bad loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

This year didn't start any better, with lopsided losses at UCLA and Ohio State. But now the Huskers have won five straight, coming from behind in the second half to post four of their six Big Ten wins, and the defense has steadily gotten better.

``I never want to sit there and say this is `my' defense,'' Compton said. ``We have a lot of great senior leadership. Right from the get-go in the offseason, myself and a few guys took the reins and did what we needed to do this offseason to set ourselves up for the position we're in now. We have to carry it out. We have to win out.''

Compton is playing the best football of his career this season. His 93 tackles lead the team. He has three sacks, three other tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and three fumble recoveries.

``He means everything to our defense,'' safety Justin Blatchford said. ``He has to know what he has to do, but he has to know what everyone else has to do. He's really a leader and shows just great passion to the game and puts in so much time in the film room and out on the field.''

Pelini said, ``I think he has played well all year, he really has. I think that we have a lot of contributors at the linebacker position. Will has been the center of it.''

For that, Pelini can thank Kathy Compton, Will's mom.

Compton started considering other options after Callahan was fired. He took a shine to Illinois because the Illini were coming off a Rose Bowl appearance, and Missouri had just gone to the Big 12 championship game for the first time. Notre Dame had tradition.

``I remember telling my mom that I wasn't coming here that year and she started crying,'' Compton said. ``She really liked the staff, coach Bo and everybody here and she thought I was making a mistake.''

As if his mom's efforts to persuade him weren't enough, four Nebraska assistants visited Compton to make a last-ditch effort to keep him.

``We had a great night and once they walked out I just said I didn't know what I was thinking in the first place and I said that Nebraska is where I definitely want to go,'' he said.

Compton received his degree in business administration last December, and he said he'll treasure memories of the fans, the Tunnel Walk, Pelini's pregame speeches and the good times with his teammates.

Playing for a Big Ten title would be something else he could take with him if the Huskers can lock up a trip to Indianapolis.

``We're in a position to do a few different things that haven't been done here in quite a while,'' he said. ``We're all aware of that, but we have to stay locked in.''

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Johnathan Williams, forward, Gonzaga (6-9, 225)

Williams began his career at Missouri before transferring. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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