Wizards

Monday's Sports in Brief

Monday's Sports in Brief

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) With his wife, Juli, looking on at the postgame news conference and his young children close by, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's final remarks were not about his milestone 900th career victory.

Instead, he was thinking about two 6-year-old boys who were buried Monday, victims along with 18 other children and six adults in a shooting massacre last week at an elementary school in Connecticut.

``If we cannot get the people who represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society,'' Boeheim said Monday night. ``If one person in this world, the NRA president, anybody, can tell me why we need assault weapons with 30 shots - this is our fault if we don't go out there and do something about this. If we can't get this thing done, I don't know what kind of country we have.''

It was a sobering end to what was a memorable evening for Syracuse basketball. The third-ranked Orange's 72-68 victory over Detroit in the Gotham Classic made Boeheim just the third Division I men's coach to reach 900 wins.

Boeheim, 68 and in his 37th year at his alma mater, is 900-304 and joined an elite fraternity. Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) are the only other men's Division I coaches to win that many games.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Huskies wanted to show that they care about the victims and those affected by the shooting of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut on Friday.

Freshman Omar Calhoun scored a season-high 22 points, sophomore Ryan Boatright had 21 points and UConn shot a season-high 66 percent in an 84-50 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore at the XL Center in the Huskies' first game since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

``We just wanted to make sure we came out here and put on a good show for the crowd and stick together as a team, and play for everybody that was in that tragedy,'' Calhoun said.

A pregame ceremony was held and there was a moment of silence as 26 cheerleaders, members of the dance team and the band held candles and formed a circle with the UConn players at midcourt.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Butler President James Danko is not changing his mind.

Two days after telling The Associated Press he wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of joining a new conference, Danko issued a statement that will likely keep the conference realignment talk buzzing.

``Our administrators, our coaches, our trustees and our team will continue to do what is right for Butler and its students,'' he said.

In other words, the school is keeping its options open.

When word leaked last week that seven Catholic schools in the Big East were looking to leave the conference and form their own league, Butler was one of the first names to pop up as a possible new member. Since then, the parties involved have done nothing to dissuade such talk.

An Atlantic 10 spokesman said the league would not immediately respond to the reports, and Butler athletic director Barry Collier has declined to comment on any potential move.

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Duke advanced one spot to replace Indiana at the top of The Associated Press' Top 25, drawing closer to UCLA's record for most No. 1 rankings.

Indiana (9-1) held the top spot from the preseason poll through the first five weeks of the season. Butler beat the Hoosiers 88-86 in overtime Saturday. The Blue Devils (9-0), who were off last week, received 62 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.

This is the 123rd week Duke has been No. 1, 11 weeks behind UCLA.

Michigan (11-0), which received the other No. 1 votes, and Syracuse moved up one place each to second and third. They were followed in the top 10 by Arizona, Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State, Florida, Kansas and Illinois.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - R.A. Dickey broke the news of his trade even before the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets.

A few minutes ahead of the teams announcing the seven-player swap that sent the NL Cy Young Award winner to Toronto, he tweeted his thanks to Mets fans and added he was all set to pitch for the Blue Jays.

``Now that it's official, I want to say that I don't have the words to express how grateful I am to you for the steadfast support,'' Dickey posted on Twitter. ``Thank you for making me feel wanted.''

``Looking forward to a new chapter with the Jays,'' he wrote.

Toronto acquired the 38-year-old knuckleballer and catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. The Mets got top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and veteran catcher John Buck, plus minor league right-hander Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.

PRO FOOTBALL

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Get ready for another week of RG3 guesswork.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that he's still waiting for a thumbs-up from the doctors before declaring that Robert Griffin III can return to game action.

The quarterback sprained the lateral collateral ligament his right knee in last week's win over the Baltimore Ravens and missed Sunday's 38-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

In other RG3 news, the rookie's No. 10 jersey is the top seller on NFLShop.com this season, the website says. The top six spots belong to QBs, with Peyton Manning of the Broncos at No. 2, followed by Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Eli Manning of the Giants, Tom Brady of the Patriots and Andrew Luck of the Colts.

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Washington Redskins tackle Jordan Black was suspended without pay for four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances, the team's sixth drugs-related suspension in less than two seasons.

Black's suspension began immediately and will include postseason games if the Redskins advance to the playoffs this season.

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher blamed security workers at Cleveland Browns Stadium for a confrontation that led to the arrests of several of his relatives during his first NFL game in his hometown.

A report from the Cleveland Police Department, however, blamed what it called a ``riot'' on the fans who were arrested, saying a security official was punched and knocked to the ground while trying to escort an unruly spectator from the stadium.

Fletcher said four of his family members were arrested and in custody as of Monday afternoon.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - The University of North Alabama says a walk-on football player is off the team after sending a racist tweet about President Barack Obama.

The university said coaches made the move after Bradley Patterson described Obama with a racial slur while complaining that the president's speech about the Connecticut school massacre pre-empted an NFL game Sunday night.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III and offensive tackle Zack Martin will return to school next year and skip the NFL draft.

Coach Brian Kelly started a news conference by announcing that two of his top players would be back. Kelly also says running back Cierre Wood will wait until he receives an evaluation of his draft stock from an NFL advisory committee before deciding if he will return for another season.

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) - Mohamed bin Hammam resigned from all soccer-related posts and received a new lifetime ban from FIFA, perhaps closing one of the most damaging corruption scandals to hit the sport's world governing body.

Bin Hammam, a FIFA executive committee member from Qatar who challenged incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency last year, gave up his long-running dispute with the organization after being found guilty by FIFA of ``repeated violations'' of its code of ethics while head of the Asian Football Confederation.

MOSCOW (AP) - Fans of two-time defending Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg are calling for non-white and gay players to be excluded from the team.

Landscrona, the largest Zenit fan club, released a manifesto demanding the club field an all-white, heterosexual team. It added that ``dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit's throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction'' and said gay players were ``unworthy of our great city.''

SKIING

ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) - Lindsey Vonn is heading back to the United States for an unexpected break in the middle of the World Cup ski season and is unlikely to return to Europe until January.

After a weekend of disappointing results at a World Cup meet in France, the four-time overall champion said in a statement on her Facebook page that she needs to get her full strength back before returning to the slopes after New Year's.

Vonn stayed two nights in a hospital in Vail, Colo., in November after suffering from severe intestinal pain.

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Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

WASHINGTON -- This may be the most realistic and self-aware Wizards team we have seen in a while. It wasn't long ago they had a penchant for talking big about what they believed they could accomplish. Nowadays, knowing where they are in the standings, their expectations are much more measured.

They know they are 12th in the Eastern Conference, even after beating the Pistons on Monday. They know their 14-28 record, which is 14 games under .500 and has them on pace to win 27 total games, isn't good.

But the Wizards are allowed to dream and they say making the playoffs is still something they would like to do.

"That's the goal, that's every day for us. [It's] in the back of my mind," shooting guard Bradley Beal said.

"I watch the games, I watch the standings and everything. We're not talking about it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "If that comes into play [we'll see]. The seventh and eighth seeds, the records aren't great."

There is certainly a case for that. The two teams currently occupying the bottom two playoff spots in the East have sub-.500 records. The seventh-ranked Magic are 20-23 and the Brooklyn Nets are in eighth with an 18-24 mark.

Last season, the Charlotte Hornets held up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket with a losing record as the eighth seed. They went 39-43, not good but still a much better pace than the Wizards are currently on. To win 39 games, they would have to go 25-16 the rest of the way.

Though they have shown some positive signs, going 4-4 in their last eight games, that would require going to a completely different level in the second half of the season. Still, there is no harm in maintaining their goals.

Beal, for one, has envisioned a way it can happen.

"Especially once All-Star hits, that second half is just flying. We have to tighten up and try to get some wins here before the break because that's usually the time when teams like to ease off the pedal a little bit. We have to take advantage of [that], that advantage of our schedule, take care of our bodies, and rally together," he said.

If the Wizards really, really wanted to go for the playoffs, they could try to add some pieces before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. But that should not be expected. In fact, this year's deadline for the Wizards likely won't be affected much at all by the playoff picture.

It's hard to envision them being buyers and they may not be able to be true sellers, either, due to injuries and other factors. Also, there is a belief in the front office that keeping a close distance in the playoff race could be a nice incentive for their young players, that having something to work for later in the season could help their development.

If the Wizards did somehow make the playoffs or even get close, that would be quite the surprise and it would say a lot about the direction of the organization. But in the long-term, it would seem to be more beneficial if they continue on their current course and end up with a top draft pick.

The Wizards right now have the fifth-worst record in the league. That would net them a lot of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery.

It seems likely that's where this season will end. But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We just want to play. We just want to finish the second half of the season playing better," Brooks said.

The Wizards are only 4 1/2 games back in the playoff race. Stranger things have happened.

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Yu Darvish lauds Rui Hachimura for 'exceptional' accomplish playing in the NBA

Yu Darvish lauds Rui Hachimura for 'exceptional' accomplish playing in the NBA

Rui Hachimura has attracted the best athletes Japan has to offer in his rookie season in the NBA. 

From Shohei Ohtani to Naomi Osaka, Hachimura has impressed both on and off the floor, including Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish. He stopped by to see Hachimura's Wizards beat the Pistons Monday. 

"That's right," Darvish said to the Wizards' Japanese website. "We are going to dinner after the game so I stopped by."

Darvish and Hachimura are represented by the same agency and are two of the biggest Japanese stars in American sports. Darvish has had two down years with the Cubs in 2018 and 2019, but he's still considered one of the best pitchers to ever come out of Japan. 

Hachimura, while sidelined with a groin injury, flashed plenty of potential as a rookie for the Wizards. Before going down, he was averaging 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 48.2 percent. 

Darvish admitted he didn't know much about basketball, not even what stats are good to use. But he only cares that Hachimura is having fun. 

Selected with the ninth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Hachimura became the first Japanese born player to be drafted in the top-10. Japan has produced a number of great baseball players but hasn't been able to produce as many hoopers. 

"You don't have to be tall or big to play baseball," Darvish said. "But when it comes to basketball, you have to be tall and athletic and contribute to the team on a nightly basis. I think what he's accomplishing is more exceptional."

Scott Brooks isn't sure if Hachimura will return before the beginning of February and the team has yet to provide a timetable beyond that. Hopefully, we'll see him back on the floor soon because an entire country outside of the US is watching and can't get enough. 

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