Wizards

New coach introduced at Kent State

New coach introduced at Kent State

KENT, Ohio (AP) Paul Haynes is right back where he was a skinny walk-on some 25 years ago.

Now, he's in charge of the program he loves so much, and has been given the task of keeping Kent State moving forward.

It won't be easy.

Haynes was formally announced as the new coach of the Golden Flashes on Tuesday, and immediately displayed a vibrancy equal of his popular predecessor, Darrell Hazell. He's going to need it. Not only did Hazell, who left for Purdue, establish a winning culture here, he led the program to the AP poll as well as a bowl berth.

``When I got into this profession, one of my goals was to be the coach at Kent State,'' said Haynes, who played here as a 168-pound defensive back in 1987-91. He was defensive coordinator at Arkansas this year after seven seasons as an assistant at Ohio State. ``I can't believe it. It's a dream and I haven't landed yet. It's been a whirlwind. The last 48 hours have been crazy.

``But I'm ready.''

Haynes, 43, will step aside so that Hazell, who became coach of the Boilermakers on Dec. 5, can guide the No. 25 Golden Flashes (11-2) to their first bowl game in 40 years. Kent State will meet Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6.

``I probably won't even go to a practice. I don't want to screw it up,'' Haynes joked. ``I respect Coach Hazell and his staff. They need to finish it out. They've done a great job.''

Athletic director Joel Nielsen said Haynes was signed to a 5 1/2-year contract at $375,000 annually. Haynes also was an assistant at Michigan State, Louisville, Northern Iowa, Ferris State and Bowling Green.

Haynes and Hazell share similar football philosophies. Hazell's Golden Flashes found success with a strong running game. Haynes, who served with Hazell on Jim Tressel's staff with the Buckeyes, sees no reason to change.

``They have laid the foundation,'' Haynes said. ``On offense, I believe in running the ball and not turning it over. Defensively, it is stop the run and create turnovers.''

Nielsen interviewed several candidates, but said Haynes was clearly the best choice.

``His leadership quality kept coming out,'' Nielsen said. ``We talked with Coach Tressel and many others. They all said he was ready. We talked to Paul two years ago when we hired Darrell. We thought Darrell was a little more ready then.

``Now, Paul has done the same. He really wanted this job. We're happy to have him.''

Haynes intends to recruit heavily in Ohio, and will place academics on par with winning.

``First, I want to graduate all players with a meaningful degree,'' he said. ``And I want to win. Everybody wants to win. I'm not going to sacrifice integrity to do it.''

Kent State went 8-0 in the Mid-American Conference this season, but lost the league title game to then-No. 21 Northern Illinois, 44-37. One of the season's memorable moments, was an impressive 35-23 road win at then-No. 15 Rutgers on Oct. 27.

``I'm a little nervous addressing everyone today, but maybe when I leave Kent State in 20 or 30 years, I'll be good at this,'' he said. ``I have a lot of Kent State pride. I love it here.''

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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.

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The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

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Orioles fans hoping for a Ryan Mountcastle sighting in majors soon as MLB rosters adjust

Orioles fans hoping for a Ryan Mountcastle sighting in majors soon as MLB rosters adjust

Last night, the Orioles sent outfielder DJ Stewart to the team’s alternate training site at Double-A Bowie after an 0-for-14 start to the season. The move got the roster down to 28 players ahead of the deadline.

But even with Stewart now down and the roster full, it’s natural to be curious where the organization's most pro-ready prospect, Ryan Mountcastle, is and why he hasn’t been called up yet. 

The Orioles have four outfielders on the 28-man roster currently: Austin Hays, Dwight Smith Jr., Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander. They’ll have to make another roster move in the coming days, when pitcher John Means comes off the bereavement list, too.

Still, there is a natural curiosity about what the International League’s Most Valuable Player from a year ago could accomplish at the major league level. 

Last year at Triple-A Norfolk, Mountcastle slashed .312/.344/.527 and had 25 home runs in 127 games. While he predominantly played the corner infield spots, he played the outfield for the first time in his professional career.

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Now, the Orioles want to develop him as a corner outfielder. 

What Mountcastle’s time at the development site shows, however, is that they value the camp more so than regular games for him right now. 

With Hays and Santander in center and right field, the two options for left field are Mullins and Smith, who are batting .083 and .167, respectively. Neither is getting on-base at a clip better than .250. In terms of hindrances to Mountcastle’s job in the major leagues, there aren’t many right now. 

The Orioles are carrying three catchers, which is one area the eventual roster move could come from when Means is back on the roster, but until Mountcastle comes up, those questions won’t be quelled. 

The team has already acquired an extra year of club control by keeping Mountcastle down for the first week of the season, meaning the reasons for keeping him down at this point relate strictly to his development. 

That means he’ll be in Baltimore once the Orioles think he’s ready to play major league defense and take major league at-bats. 

As for when that is, however, is solely up to the organization at this point.

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