Wizards

La Tech, 9-3, not going to a bowl game

La Tech, 9-3, not going to a bowl game

Louisiana Tech, with a 9-3 record and the highest scoring team in the country, isn't going to a bowl game.

La Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde told The Associated Press that Independence Bowl organizers offered a spot in their game on Saturday afternoon, but the Bulldogs had other possible options still available to them. Van De Velde said he asked the Independence Bowl for more time to make a decision, but was told by game organizers that they couldn't wait.

``Nobody turned a bowl bid down,'' he said. ``We asked for more time to vet two other opportunities that we had that we felt good about.''

Van De Velde said he told the Independence Bowl organizers: ``Anybody you are going to get to replace us will be there on Sunday. Just give us time to evaluate these opportunities.''

The Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., had already invited Louisiana-Monroe from the Sun Belt Conference.

Independence Bowl chairman Jack Andres said organizers had to set a deadline for Louisiana Tech. They were concerned if they waited they would be stuck with a team that was barely bowl eligible and too far away from Shreveport to bring many fans to the game.

``We had to make some decisions to get somebody in there. We've got sponsors, hotels. There's a lot of money riding on this,'' he said.

``Before we made another deal we called them back. We said, `We're still willing to have you at the bowl, but need to know fairly quickly.' So we gave them a deadline and they didn't call us back until way later than that. If you don't call us back, that's a `No.' And we made another deal so we'd have a quality bowl team.''

The bowl ended up selecting Ohio University from the Mid-American Conference.

Louisiana Tech plays in the Western Athletic Conference, which is going away as a football conference next season and has only one bowl tie-in, with the Idaho Potato Bowl. The spot went to league champion Utah State.

La Tech is moving to Conference USA next season.

Van De Velde said he was working with C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky on possibly getting the Bulldogs into the Heart of Dallas Bowl or the Liberty Bowl. When Oklahoma and Kansas State both won, it looked as if the Big 12 would have two teams in the BCS and that could create room in either of those games for La Tech.

But, Van De Velde said, when Northern Illinois slipped into the Bowl Championship Series, taking a possible BCS bid away from Oklahoma, it started a domino effect that filled those spots with Big 12 teams.

``I think we're just shocked Northern Illinois jumped that high,'' Van De Velde said. ``I'm happy for them, but I'm disappointed for us.''

The Big 12 had nine bowl-eligible nine teams.

Iowa State (6-6) landed in the Liberty Bowl to play C-USA champion Tulsa as an at-large pick. Oklahoma State (7-5) ended up filling Big 12's final spot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue.

``I think we're all disappointed,'' Van De Velde said. ``But when you're in a non-AQ conference and you're in the at-large pool, this is what can happen. Especially when bowls are electing to take teams that are 6-6 over teams that are 9-3.''

Louisiana Tech spent five weeks in the AP Top 25 this season, reaching as high as 19. The Bulldogs badly beat Virginia and Illinois, two teams from automatic qualifying conferences, on the road early in the season, and lost 59-57 to Texas A&M in Shreveport.

They finished on a two-game losing streak, falling to WAC champion Utah State and San Jose State, which accepted a bid to the Military Bowl in Washington against Bowling Green, by a combined 16 points.

Behind quarterback Colby Cameron and running back Kenneth Dixon, La Tech averaged 51 points and 578 yards per game.

``Under no circumstances did I ever think there was any possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game,'' coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. ``It is a shame that our nationally recognized team and its 31 seniors have to end the season this way.''

And on top of being left out of the postseason, Louisiana Tech is facing the prospect of losing Dykes.

Van De Velde said the coach had interviewed with California and that Louisiana Tech was waiting to find out if Dykes would be staying with the Bulldogs.

---

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

Quick Links

The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

bradley_beal_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

“How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?”

That brain-busting question from a current NBA general manager came before the February 7 trade deadline when rumors involving Wizards guard Bradley Beal swirled.

Another migraine-inducing conundrum is forthcoming whether Beal receives All-NBA honors or not.

Should the league’s upcoming announcement of its first, second and third team include the two-time All-Star, the Wizards may have no choice but to break up the backcourt pairing with John Wall that fueled the franchise’s most sustained success since winning the 1978 title.

This honor comes with a financial reward-- if extended to Beal by the Wizards --  in the form of a supermax contract worth approximately $193 million over four years that would begin in 2021-22. He still has two years and $56 million remaining on the valued five-year, $127 million deal he signed in 2016.

The issue is less about Beal’s hefty chunk of the Wizards’ salary cap, but combining it with Wall’s four-year, $170 million supermax deal that begins next season. Offer Beal the supermax and, should he accept, approximately 71 percent of the team’s future salary cap beginning in the 2021-22 season would be chewed up by two players.

Beal and Wall, when healthy, are All-Stars. They’re not Jordan and Pippen.

NBC Sports Washington spoke with over a dozen league sources in recent weeks including three current or former general managers, other executives, NBA coaches and scouts, about Beal’s contract situation and the Wizards’ overall equation coming off a 32-50 campaign.

Some dutifully tried putting themselves in the mindset of Washington’s next front office leader knowing Beal’s contract status and other limiting or uncertain factors.

The executives shared opinions on whether to boldly hold or sell high on the Wizards’ best player. Regardless of their stance, their initial instinct almost unanimously landed in the same place as this current lead executive: “I have no idea what you would do.”

*****

There’s an incredibly strong argument for doing nothing. How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?

Several NBA sources largely acknowledge the choice almost gets removed from the Wizards front office should Beal receive the All-NBA nod. Even if Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson or Ben Simmons trump Beal in the voting, events from early February may effectively force the Wizards’ hand.

Washington faced its second consecutive luxury tax payment, diminishing playoff hopes and the knowledge that Wall would miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.

Despite those negatives and salary cap concerns with only five players catapulting the team over next season’ salary cap, big picture hope existed. The headliners -- Wall, Beal and Otto Porter -- previously put the Wizards in a playoff contender mode. “We're not trading any of those players,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said at the time.

There’s a good reason to believe Leonsis meant what he said. Then life intervened and forced change.

Wall’s left Achilles ruptured during the first week of February. The recovery time means an entire calendar year and perhaps the full 2019-20 season. Those negatives, especially with the salary cap, were now amplified.

Washington dealt with that financial scenario two days after the Wall status update by trading Porter and Markieff Morris to slide under the luxury tax.

Another life event requiring a financial decision could happen this week.

*****

There’s no debating whether Beal is worthy of the All-NBA accolade. Some believe he is a favorite to snag one of the two guard spots on the third-team.

The dilemma is can the Wizards justify offering a contract with those hefty terms knowing what’s already on the books, plus the upcoming challenges.

Pass and the likelihood of trading Beal at peak value becomes a leading option. Hold Beal regardless and his trade value effectively decreases over the next two seasons with the possibility he leaves as a 2021 free agent without compensation.

“The Wizards is a hard job right now,” a former GM told NBC Sports Washington. “There’s a lot to figure out. Timelines can’t be certain with John Wall in particular. For Bradley Beal, that's a decision… Hard to walk in [to those interviews) with a specific plan.”

Leave the supermax contract off the table and the human element arises. Those familiar with Beal’s mindset do not see a Robin to Wall’s Batman. Co-headliners, cool, but then pay and appreciate accordingly. Maybe folks could start referring to the pair as Beal and Wall once in a while.

Forget the money, which isn’t Beal’s driving motivation. As one source familiar with Beal’s thinking stated, “Brad needs to be in the playoffs. He’s not disruptive...Brad just wants to win.”

The Wizards might not be in playoff position next season even if Beal maintains his All-NBA level. It's a near lock they won't if the 2012 first-round pick is traded.

Beal averaged 30.9 points in February, the same month he dropped a season-high 46 at Charlotte and his All-NBA buzz soared. Beal joined 2019 MVP finalist James Harden as the only players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.5 steals.

The wing guard’s leadership kept Washington tangibly in the playoff race until realities of the undermanned roster kicked in.

“I think [Brad is] an all-NBA player in my eyes,” said Wall, an All-NBA selection in 2016. “You know how tough it is to make that team? It’s always tough. The year he’s had speaks for itself.”

How do you trade that player especially one groomed by the organization since selecting him third overall in 2012? You can't -- but the Wizards might not have a choice.

Nobody recognizes this more than Bradley Beal.

"Honestly, I’m here until I’m not here," Beal told NBC Sports Washington earlier this month. "I’m not thinking too strong on it. My personal desire is to be here and see the direction we go. Hopefully, the correct direction.

"I keep hearing the possibility of rebooting, trading Brad and getting assets back. It’s a business. I understand both sides of it. I can’t be mad at it."

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Stanley Cup Final is set and the Capitals will hand the Stanley Cup off to Boston or St. Louis

bruins-blues-scf-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports Images

The Stanley Cup Final is set and the Capitals will hand the Stanley Cup off to Boston or St. Louis

With the St. Louis Blues’ victory on Tuesday, the Stanley Cup Final has officially been set. The Blues will face the Boston Bruins as both teams will battle to supplant the Capitals as the Stanley Cup champions.

St. Louis finished off the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday with a 5-1 Game 6 win and will now look to win its first ever Stanley Cup. One has to wonder whether that game was the last time we will see the 39-year-old Sharks forward Joe Thornton on the ice. For the Blues, this is the first time they have reached the final since 1970, snapping a 49-year drought. They made the final in each of their first three seasons as the NHL grouped all of its expansion franchises into a single division.

St. Louis is now the first team in league history to go from last place in the league in January to the Stanley Cup Final.

This season will be a rematch of the 1970 final in which the Blues were swept by the Bruins. That series gave us the iconic moment of Boston great Bobby Orr soaring through the air after scoring the Cup-clinching goal in overtime of Game 4.

The Bruins have been waiting since Thursday to learn who their opponent would be after sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes to win the East. Boston will be going for its seventh Cup and first since 2011. Goalie Tuukka Rask was brilliant in that series with a .956 save percentage and a 1.25 GAA. The long layoff, however, could potentially cool off Rask and the red-hot Bruins.

The New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets both swept their first-round opponents and both lost in the second round. The Hurricanes swept the Islanders in the second round and were then swept by Boston. The Bruins will have to shake off the rust as quickly as possible as the final begins.

Boston will have home ice in the final and will host Games 1 and 2 before the series shifts back to St. Louis.

Here is the final schedule:

  • Game 1 in Boston, Mon. May 27
  • Game 2 in Boston, Wed. May 29
  • Game 3 in St. Louis, Sat. June 1
  • Game 4 in St. Louis, Mon. June 3
  • Game 5 (if necessary) in Boston, Thurs. June 6
  • Game 6 (if necessary) in St. Louis, Sun. June 9
  • Game 7 (if necessary) in Boston, Wed. June 12

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: