Capitals

Kentucky's freshmen mesh well in scrimmage

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Kentucky's freshmen mesh well in scrimmage

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) There were many moments during Wednesday night's Blue-White scrimmage where Kentucky's freshmen justified the lofty expectations placed upon them.

Archie Goodwin showed some flash while scoring a game-high 32 points. Willie Cauley-Stein was a formidable post presence with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Swingman Alex Poythress added 25 points with quickness and athleticism.

A sore back slowed highly touted forward Nerlens Noel, but the point was seeing how this foursome played together and with others in their first competitive appearance before the Wildcats faithful. Early returns were encouraging, as they contributed to both teams in a game won by the Blue 89-88.

However, the bottom line is meeting John Calipari's high standards and the Wildcats coach quickly noted that this is a work in progress.

``We have a way to go,'' Calipari said afterward. ``We don't rebound, we don't scramble. Other than that, we're a pretty good team.''

Calipari was kidding, noting replacing six players from last season's national championship team would lead to some falloff. Kentucky had scrimmaged just 12 minutes before Wednesday because he has spent much of fall practice teaching his young squad fundamentals.

That showed with a lack of defense.

``It's going to take a lot more talking on defense and just executing on the defensive schemes more than we have been,'' Goodwin said. ``We're still learning, so we'll continue to practice on it. We'll get better and better every day we practice it as long as we work hard.''

At the same time, some nice combinations emerged thanks to newcomers such as transfer Julius Mays, a graduate student who played last season for Wright State.

He displayed good speed and ball movement along with a nice outside shot for the Blue squad. The highlight of his 13-point game was a fadeaway 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, which looked more planned than hurried.

``It's just trying to find my game,'' Mays said. ``I just want to do whatever it is this team needs me to do, whether that's scoring or coming in and creating for others or distributing the ball, or even if it's coming in and getting greedy on the defensive end. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win.''

He seemed to find chemistry with Cauley-Stein, who fed him for one shot before Mays returned the favor by lobbing a pass to the 7-footer for a dunk to help the Blue team lead 29-17.

``Me and Julius are (among) seven players that figure to get a lot of playing time, so we had to go at it like that,'' Cauley-Stein said.

Noel finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.

Among the veterans, Kyle Wiltjer had 28 points, Jon Hood 17 and Jarrod Polson 13. Sophomore Ryan Harrow had 20.

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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

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USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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