NCAA

Following two Power 5 wins, Radford is primed to make more noise this season

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USA TODAY Sports

Following two Power 5 wins, Radford is primed to make more noise this season

If your favorite college basketball team has Radford on its schedule this season, take note.

The Highlanders are going to make some noise this season, err, well, going to make more noise this season

Already the small, less than 10,000 students enrolled, school from Radford, Va., has gathered two Power 5 victories this season. The first shocking upset came in a road win at Notre Dame. The second against the 17th ranked team in the country, Texas, also on the road.

The season has started with a 6-1 record, a year removed from its third NCAA Tournament bid and a Big South Championship. The three top scorers from that title team returned, including Big South First Team selection Ed Polite Jr. and Big South Rookie of the Year Carlik Jones.

So far this season the two have developed into a dynamic duo on the court. Polite is averaging a double-double (12.0 ppg and 10.4 rpg), while Jones is far from suffering a sophomore slump, leading the team with 16 points per game. Jones' latest heroics included the and-one basket to put his team ahead of Texas in the closing seconds.

Neither of them though are what carried their team in both of their upset victories. Their defense completely shut down both the Fighting Irish and the Longhorns to below 37 percent from the field. Two teams that are expected to compete for NCAA Tournament spots, unable to score at home. 

There is only one blemish on the Highlanders' season thus far and that was an obscure loss to Duquesne.  

This is a team built to make it back to the NCAA Tournament this season, and perhaps not as a No. 16 seed. Mike Jones, the 2018 Big South Coach of the Year, has this team in 30th in the new NET Rankings, that are supposed to be a new and improved version of the RPI.

The team also received votes in the AP poll for the first time in Radford's 43-year history.

That's not only the resume of a team to win their conference, that's borderline at-large territory. Sure they're not in the same category as Gonzaga, Nevada or Buffalo this season, but that next mid-major tier should have Radford included. 

And they might not be done with their early-season success to build on that. Still on the horizon for the Highlanders are a date at Clemson, a road game against the Maryland Terrapins and a sneaky good matchup against Georgia Southern. Beating Texas marked the program's first ever win over a ranked opponent. The second and third one may not be far behind. 

If the Highlanders are to grab another Power 5 victory or two, without a questionable loss, some may think highly of this Highlander team come March.

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Maryland coach Mike Locksley: Locker room valuable lesson for race relations

Maryland coach Mike Locksley: Locker room valuable lesson for race relations

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 first part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America this week. Natasha Cloud, Mike Locksley, and Ian Mahinmi joined Chis Miller for the first 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.

The story has been told time and again of how coaches, particularly of young men and women, often become something similar to a parent of their players. With all the time spent around their teams, teaching, mentoring and educating their players, good coaches leave a lasting impression. And in turn, those players also mean a great deal to their coaches.

It was through this lens that Maryland football head coach Mike Locksley viewed the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer. With a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, and after persistently telling the officer he couldn’t breathe, Floyd cried out for his mother moments before losing consciousness. 

Locksley, also a Black man, could easily have seen himself as Floyd in that moment. But as someone who, in addition to the players on his team, has kids of his own and knows what it’s like to have lost a child, Locksley said he went into parent mode watching the video.

“I go into dad mode. I go into parent mode,” Locksley said on the Wednesday debut of NBC Sports Washington’s Race in America: A Candid Conversation. “To watch the video, I could easily see it be any one of my kids, any one of my players. Having lost a son two years ago to gun violence, obviously not at the hands of the police, but it doesn’t get easier.”

RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH THE FULL ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION HERE

In 2017, when Locksley was a coach at the University of Alabama, his son, Meiko, was shot and killed at 25 years old in Columbia, Md.

“No parent should ever have to bury their child, and for me, it really, really -- being a part of that fraternity of parents that had to bury kids -- to see George in his death, to hear him call out, those things bring out the inner papa bear in me,” said Locksley, who has three other children. “And for all of our players, my own personal kids, my community, it was a tough pill to swallow, to watch the way it played out.”

Locksley joined Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud and Washington Wizards center Ian Mahinmi in the discussion with NBC Sports Washington host Chris Miller. The conversation was focused around racial injustices in America and how different figures in sports are using their platforms for change. 

Locksley said he’s using the moment to educate himself so that he can come up with programming to teach his players, who he wants to protect like his own. Respect between people was something he pointed to as a potential starting point.

“How ironic it is that he’s taking a knee on his neck. And you think about the game of football that I’m involved with, with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee,” Locksley said. “And the thing I talk to our players about was, you know the one word that comes to mind when you think of all the brutality that we face as Black men at the hands of police officers is, it’s respect. I grew up in the Police Boys and Girls club in D.C., and so my interaction with officer Willie Morton who ran the club I was a part of ... my wife is a former police officer in Montgomery County. So, not all cops are bad people, and not all Black people are thugs or criminals.”

Locksley said over the last several weeks, while protests have been taking place across the country, the Terrapins football team has had some really strong conversations within itself, and he thought it was important to take a step back and listen to what his players had to say. It’s been a moment of learning for coaches and players, but it’s also allowed the team to develop a unified voice. Locksley said if the world was more similar to a locker room, it would be in a much better place.

“If the world was part of one team, meaning we’re all the same, we’re all humans, we all deserve respect, we all deserve the right to be safe at the hands of police officers, just think how much better all this would be,” Locksley said. “And so my platform is to be able to educate my players and my family that what happened to George ... guy didn't show a lot of respect for him as a person, Black or white. And when you respect someone, you don’t treat them that way. We gotta get to where everybody has a mutual respect, whether you’re on one side of the aisle of politics or the other, you have to have respect for the person and their opinions. And you may not agree, agree to disagree, but as we know in our locker rooms, there’s a lot of agrees to disagree, but we all are fighting for the same cause and the same family, which takes away all the other things that usually come into play.”

To watch the full roundtable discussion with Mike Locksley, Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud and Washington Wizards star Ian Mahinmi, click here.

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The 10 best college quarterbacks to play at DC, Maryland or Virginia schools

The 10 best college quarterbacks to play at DC, Maryland or Virginia schools

College football may not be as ingrained in the culture of the DMV as it is in the south or the midwest, but we still have had our fair share of elite talent and it all starts under center. Some of the biggest name quarterbacks in the sport's history have played at local schools. Here are the ten best.

10. Ricky Dobbs (Navy)

A rare dual-threat quarterback for Navy, Dobbs helped the Midshipmen earn back-to-back wins over Notre Dame. In his senior season, Dobbs threw for 1,527 yards and rushed for 967. He was a perfect 4-0 against Army.

9. Malcolm Perry (Navy)

Keenan Reynolds may boast the record for most rushing yards for a quarterback, but even he did not have a season like Perry's 2019 in which he rushed for 2,017 yards. Perry only really took over as the quarterback in his senior season which begs the question just how many yards he could have racked up for his career had he taken the starting job earlier?

8. Matt Schaub (Virginia)

When Schaub finished his college career, he had 23 school records with Virginia. He was named the 2002 ACC Player of the Year and still holds the ACC record for completion percentage with 67.0.

7. Boomer Esiason (Maryland)

Maryland was the only school to offer Esiason a scholarship and he certainly made the most of it. By the time he left for the NFL, he had set 17 school records.

RELATED ARTICLE: NAVAL ACADEMY TO REVISIT UNDER ARMOUR CONTRACT THIS WEEK

6. Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

Taylor was supposed to redshirt his sophomore season in 2008, but when Virginia Tech lost its season opener to East Carolina, Taylor’s redshirt was pulled and he helped lead the Hokies to a 10-4 overall record and an ACC title. Virginia Tech won three conference titles in Taylor’s four years in Blacksburg and by the time he was done, he had school records in wins, passing yards and total offense. He accounted for 66 total touchdowns and earned ACC Player of the Year honors in 2010.

5. Shawn Moore (Virginia)

The only Virginia quarterback to have his number retired, Moore is the best quarterback in UVA history. His best season came in 1990 when he led the ACC in pass completion percentage (59.8), passing touchdowns (21) and total yards (2,568). He also led the nation in passing yards per attempt (9.4) and quarterback rating (160.7). Not surprisingly, he was named the ACC Player of the Year for 1990. He would finish fourth on the Heisman ballot for that year.

4. Jack Scarbath (Maryland)

Byrd Stadium is the house that Scarbath built. Literally, he was a construction worker and helped pour the cement for the Stadium in his freshman year. The Hall of Fame quarterback helped lead Maryland to a 10-0 record in 1951, his junior season, and an unclaimed national title. He was the runner-up for the Heisman the following season.

3. Keenan Reynolds (Navy)

Reynolds is in the record book for the most rushing touchdowns (88) and most rushing yards for a quarterback (4,559). Those are national records, not school ones. In his time with Navy, he led the Midshipmen to a 7-1 record against the other service academies, including four wins against Army.

2. Michael Vick (Virginia Tech)

To some, Vick’s legal history is enough to remove him from this list. From a pure talent perspective, however, few players in the history of college football were as dynamic. Vick helped lead the Hokies to their only national title berth and could have been one of the all-time greats of the sport had he not left for the NFL after his sophomore year. Think of all the highlights we have of just two years of Vick under center. Imagine what he could have done with four.

1. Roger Staubach (Navy)

Staubach is the only service academy quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. He did it in 1963, passing for over 1,400 yards. He is one of only four players in history to win both a Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP.

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