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Mason scores 25, Niagara defeats Vermont 68-58

Mason scores 25, Niagara defeats Vermont 68-58

LEWISTON, N.Y. (AP) Antoine Mason tied his season high with 25 points to lead Niagara over Vermont 68-58 Sunday in a nonconference matchup.

Mason made 7 of 12 shots from the field and 9 of 10 from the foul line, and also had four assists and three steals. Juan'ya Green backed his effort with 17 points for the Purple Eagles (5-6).

Brian Voelkel led Vermont (6-4) with 14 points and 10 rebounds but also had seven turnovers before fouling out with 33 seconds left.

The Catamounts trailed 19-18 at halftime and tied it at 21-all on Candon Rusin's trey 30 seconds into the second half. But Mason hit a 3-pointer and scored eight during a 16-2 Niagara run that stretched the lead to 37-23.

Vermont responded with a 7-0 run to make it 37-30, but T.J. Cline then hit a 3-pointer for Niagara and Vermont never got closer than that seven-point deficit again.

Coaches' Roundtable: Changing the culture at a new job a crucial first step for coaches

Coaches' Roundtable: Changing the culture at a new job a crucial first step for coaches

NBC Sports Washington brought together local coaches Ron Rivera (Washington football), Todd Reirden (Capitals), Scott Brooks (Wizards) and Mike Thibault (Mystics) to discuss the intricacies of their craft in a free-wheeling discussion hosted by Julie Donaldson. We present six days highlighting different themes of their conversation - experiences, stories and lessons shared from careers in coaching.  To watch the full roundtable, click here.  

It is the first task for any coach who takes a new job. 

In most cases, the reason they are there in the first place is because the culture of that new home went bad in some way. Identifying the issues and fixing them as quickly as possible takes precedence over everything else.
Some of Washington’s best coaches know that daunting feeling all too well. Mike Thibault was one of the WNBA’s most successful coaches with one losing seasons in 10 years with the Connecticut Sun and two appearances in the WNBA Finals. 
Thibault arrived in town in 2013 and found a team in disarray after a 5-29 record the year before. How do you fix that when you know a talent infusion is years away? Start chipping away at the mental attitude of the players. 

“What we did is we spent the first year just figuring out who bought in,” Thibault said. “I didn’t have any other way to go about it other than here’s what we’re going to do. Are you or are you off the train? So we spent the first year evaluating, teaching what we were going to do, see who was going to buy in. And it got us to the playoffs.”

That Mystics team indeed finished 17-17 and even won a playoff game. It was a modest improvement for one of the worst teams in the WNBA ever. But it also started a path to the 2019 championship team. 


Some coaches face the opposite situation. Todd Reirden didn’t have to change too much. He took over a Capitals team that had just won a Stanley Cup and was stocked with players who had been in the organization for years. Standards were already high, the pressure always intense under former coach Barry Trotz. 

“I wanted to create an environment where people enjoy coming to work because they know they have the opportunity to get better,” Reirden said. “And in the same breath, they’re held accountable to a certain standard of performance.”


Scott Brooks spent seven years coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder after working his way up the ladder after six years as an NBA assistant. His teams played in the NBA Finals in 2012, won 50 games four different times. He left after a 45-37 season in the brutal Western Conference wasn’t good enough for a playoff spot. 

Brooks took over a Wizards team that had missed the playoffs the year before with a .500 record. There was talent and the team had made the second round in 2014 and 2015. But something was missing. 

“One of the constants that we had, that we talked about as coaches was just playing hard,” Brooks said. “Who’s in the lineup, who’s not playing – you can’t worry about that. You’ve got to go out there and compete every day. You do it in practice and transfer it over to the game.”

It worked. The Wizards took the Celtics to Game 7 of the second round in a classic series his first season in 2016-17. They made the playoffs again last year before injuries crippled this year’s group. 

Now, Rivera faces the same task. Washington’s football team is in total disarray. It hasn’t won a playoff game in 15 years. It finished 3-13 last year. There is so much work to do. And he had to impart it right away. In his last job with the Carolina Panthers, Rivera inherited a team that had gone 2-14. Three years later the Panthers won the NFC South at 12-4 and two years after that played in the Super Bowl.

It doesn’t have to take years to instill a new culture with a team. But it starts at the beginning. Rivera has already imparted that message to his new team in Washington.  

“I talked about what my vision was, what my goals are, what my expectations were going to be and what they could expect from us,” Rivera said. “[Former Raiders coach] John Madden told me the toughest thing you’ll ever do is tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. If you can do that and do that consistently, they’ll buy in.”

To watch the full Coaches' Roundtable with Coach Brooks, Coach Reirden, Coach Rivera and Coach Thibault, click here.


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NASCAR's public support of Bubba Wallace was 'the most powerful scene in all of sports'

NASCAR's public support of Bubba Wallace was 'the most powerful scene in all of sports'

Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.

NBC Sports Washington is launching the second part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America. This week, Renaldo Wynn and Ish Smith joined Chis Miller for the second of these roundtable discussions to share their experiences, thoughts and how they’re using their platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.

NASCAR made two monumental statements over the past month that drastically changed how the sport is perceived by the world at large. 

The sport banned the Confederate flag from all of its events and also made an incredible, moving show of support for its lone Black driver, Bubba Wallace. 

Given the organization's history of a predominately white workforce and fan base, both messages were huge. It signaled a new era of inclusivity that many in the Black community did not feel before. 


But with everything that has happened in NASCAR since Wallace first wore a 'Black Lives Matter' shirt in late May, the most powerful statement for NASCAR was them pushing down his car on the starting grid. Wizards player Ish Smith and former Redskins player Renaldo Wynn think that moment was one of the most powerful images in sports.

"I'm getting chills thinking about it," Smith said in NBC Sports Washington's Race in America series

The sign of solidarity came after a garage pull rope was fashioned like a noose was found in Wallace's garage at Talladega Superspeedway. Before the race the next day, all of NASCAR's current drivers and crew members from its top series physically and metaphorically pushed Wallace and his car to the front of the starting grid. 

While the FBI determined the noose was not a hate crime after the fact, the symbolism of that act reverberated across society. 

"That scene has gotta be the most powerful scene in all of sports," Wynn, who also works in auto racing, said. "Not just sports but history, because again... we talk about the history of NASCAR. Yeah, that would have been powerful for football or basketball, but this is NASCAR!"


"It was like... a one-two punch, to let America know [NASCAR is] not being silent and we're going to stand behind Bubba. And the thing of it is, people don't know the journey that it took for him to get to that point to where he is right then and there."

Both Smith and Wynn knew Wallace at one point in their lives. Smith grew up with Wallace's sister, Brittany Gillespie, and became familiar with Bubba at an early age. 

He knows that Wallace is not comfortable with the limelight and controversy surrounding him. Nor is the publicity that came with it wanted, despite some conspiracy theorists. Still, Smith is proud of how Wallace has handled the pressure and media spotlight as only the second full-time Black driver in NASCAR's Cup Series' history. 

"To see who he is now, to see who the man he is now, I get chills because there becomes a time when you have to make a stand. I know he's uncomfortable sometimes walking in some of those areas when you're the sole Black person. To be as good as he is, he's already beaten the odds in that way. And then to speak up on what he said and how he said it, and then for NASCAR to make that action and then for them to push him- I was like, this is powerful," Smith said.

Wynn interacted with Wallace when they crossed paths at Joe Gibbs Racing. Wallace drove for JGR briefly in 2014 and 2015 for the Xfinity Series (NASCAR's second-tier series). Sponsorship issues arose halfway through the season and Wallace was granted a release from his contract before signing with another team. 

There, Wallace told Wynn about his experiences climbing up the racing ranks. He told him about dealing with racism and the Confederate flag being a common staple among smaller tiers in the South. 

"The thing of it is, he wasn't bitter. So he still had, like that joy... he didn't allow that to cause him be bitter to go through all that stuff. He's just still is like 'man, I'm going to out there and be the best and I'm not going to let that change me or cause me to be bitter'."

Some of those early experiences might still occur for young, up-and-coming Black drivers. But in the last month, Wallace has led incredible change in the racing community from leading the charge against the removal of the Confederate flag and facing several forms of racism. 

You can watch the full panel by clicking here.