Redskins

No. 1 Indiana dominates C. Connecticut St. 100-69

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No. 1 Indiana dominates C. Connecticut St. 100-69

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Central Connecticut State coach Howie Dickenman expected to endure a rough Saturday night in Bloomington.

He never dreamed it would go quite this way.

On a night that the nation's top scorer was held to just seven points, Matt Hunter finished with 40 - becoming the first player from outside the Big Ten to score 40 points in a game at Assembly Hall, albeit in a 100-69 loss to No. 1 Indiana.

``When you have the leading scorer coming in and you're Indiana, you're going to make sure he doesn't get anything, OK?'' Dickenman said, referring to sophomore guard Kyle Vinales. ``He really had some bad looks, got a little frustrated, took a couple of questionable shots. But his roommate from Detroit, Hunter, threw in 40. We never thought he'd get 40, we thought Kyle might get 40.''

The turnabout was a huge surprise.

Vinales had been more proficient, shooting 46 percent from the field and averaging 25.9 points - including at least 20 in six straight games. With Victor Oladipo defending him, Vinales went just 3 of 15 from the field and 0 for 4 on 3-pointers, finishing with seven points.

Hunter, meanwhile, came into the game shooting just 42 percent from the field and was just 2 of 18 from beyond the arc. Against the Hoosiers, he made 6 of 11 3-pointers, 13 of 25 from the field and joined Michigan State's Shawn Respert (1995) and Terry Furlow (1976) as the only visiting players to score 40 in Assembly Hall. It wasn't enough to prevent the Blue Devils (4-4) from losing their 12th in a row against the Big Ten.

``Quite frankly, it's Indiana, and it's in Assembly Hall and the tradition they had, we had some kids that we thought were a bit nervous coming in,'' Dickenman acknowledged, calling it a learning experience.

Indiana learned a few things, too, like what they must do better the next time they face dual scorer's.

But overall, the Hoosiers (9-0) were up to their old tricks.

Christian Watford scored 21 points, Cody Zeller dominated inside with 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Oladipo had another solid all-around game with 15 points and his defense on Vinales.

``I think we're playing well, but again I don't think we've even scratched the surface on how good we can be at both ends of the floor,'' Oladipo said. ``I think if we keep (getting better), we'll continue to play at a high level.''

Indiana is playing pretty well right now, opening with nine wins for the second straight season. The Hoosiers have won 13 straight at Assembly Hall and 27 in a row at home against non-conference foes. This was their third-most lopsided victory of the season, and they seem to be getting more dominant with each game.

Indiana shot 54.2 percent from the field while holding the Blue Devils to just 33.3 percent. Oladipo also had nine rebounds, five steals, three blocks, two assists and repeatedly whipped the crowd into a frenzy with highlight-reel dunks and big plays.

The matchup was supposed to be an intriguing shootout between two strong offensive teams.

Instead, Indiana took advantage of one full week to prepare for the game and took control during one six-minute stretch in the first half.

The Hoosiers had only two real concerns all night.

They lost sophomore forward Austin Etherington with a left knee injury that coach Tom Crean described as ``significant'' even before the official diagnosis was in.

Etherington was surrounded by his teammates and coaches as he was lifted onto a stretcher and then wheeled off the court late in the first half. It's another blow for a team that is still missing senior forward Derek Elston (knee surgery) and isn't sure how quickly freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will get up to speed after serving the last game of a nine-game suspension imposed by the NCAA.

``I know they were really concerned about their friend and teammate,'' Crean said, referring to Etherington's injury. ``It was important they continued to play well and they did.''

Central Connecticut State led only once - after the first basket - and hung around for about six minutes.

Then the Hoosiers dominated.

Ferrell started the decisive 22-2 run with a spinning 2-footer, Hulls followed with a 3, Zeller posted up for a layup, Maurice Creek hit another 3 and Zeller posted up for another layup. Oladipo closed the run three minutes later with a thunderous one-handed dunk that he turned into a three-point play, giving Indiana a 37-16 lead.

``Bottom line is there's a lot of room for improvement in our team, that will never go away,'' Crean said. ``We can get better, we will get better.''

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For those thinking the Redskins could go with Kyle Allen over Dwayne Haskins, consider this

For those thinking the Redskins could go with Kyle Allen over Dwayne Haskins, consider this

Kyle Allen's acquisition has led some to wonder if Dwayne Haskins is now in a true fight for the Redskins' starting quarterback job. DeAngelo Hall came out with comments saying as much last week, and his opinion is shared by a few other analysts and some fans, too.

That outcome is certainly on the table, sure, and it moves closer to the center of the table the longer Coronavirus keeps teams away from the facility. If the offseason gets cut short or erased entirely, Allen's familiarity with Scott Turner's offense goes from a very useful trait to something that could be enough for him to take the field in Week 1. 

But as long as there is some semblance of normalcy over the coming months, Haskins should be Washington's starter. You can believe that because Ron Rivera indicated that's how he himself is operating, or you can believe that because, like Chris Cooley, you think Haskins is simply the better QB.

If those two reasons aren't enough, though, consider this: Going with Haskins appears to line up with how Rivera has approached his first free agency and first campaign as the franchise's leader.

Like it or not, Rivera has mostly brought in low-cost players this March. Aside from pursuing and losing out on Amari Cooper, he and the front office seem content with just trying to make this roster more well-rounded and more competitive while the coach looks to establish his way of doing things in 2020.

Of course, Rivera, Kyle Smith and others would love to begin this new era of Redskins football by stringing together nine or 10 victories and making it into January. That said, they're all aware that they're assuming control of a 3-13 team and are at the start of a rebuild that may require a few seasons to really take effect.

In other words, this is the perfect time to let a 2019 first-rounder have a full year under center and in shotgun and allow both he and the organization to figure out if he can be a difference maker in the NFL.

If Haskins struggles, the Redskins should let him try to fight through those struggles. And if he continues to struggle, then they can finally turn to Allen. That scenario will in all likelihood lead to another unsightly record and put Washington in a spot to draft a premium signal caller in 2021. 

However — and this is weirdly a result that doesn't get mentioned enough — it could really pay off and set the Redskins up for major success under Rivera.

One of the top shorcuts to relevancy is having a quality passer on a cheap deal (and Haskins' deal has the potential to be really cheap through 2022). If the Redskins give Haskins 2020, he could give them much more in return.

Sure, if Allen entered this September as the guy, his chemistry with Turner and Rivera could make the Burgundy and Gold's record marginally better in the short term. That said, the Redskins' strategy in free agency doesn't indicate that they're too preoccupied with the short term. 

Overall, Allen is no scrub. In fact, he has produced more than Haskins has as a pro up to this point. Yet for Rivera and Co., what happens next matters far more than what's happened already.

If they're being patient with addressing their roster, they need to be patient with Haskins. They may one day be very thankful that they were.

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Redskins Free Agency Report Card: Offense fails to add difference-maker

Redskins Free Agency Report Card: Offense fails to add difference-maker

Ever since Ron Rivera took over as the Redskins head coach in early January, he has preached finding the core players on the roster in order to turn the culture around. But if the first wave of free agency proved one thing, it's that it takes a lot more than just a shakeup in the front office and a new head coach to change a culture. 

Rivera inherited an offense that played multiple rookies a season ago. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin has already established himself as a stud, while both Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon have shown promise. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had his growing pains in 2019 but started to finally put things together as the season concluded.

But as a whole, the Redskins offense from a year ago was really bad. They averaged just 16.6 points per game, dead last in the NFL. Only the New York Jets averaged fewer yards per game than the Burgundy and Gold.

The Redskins knew that entering free agency, the team would need to add difference-makers on offense. Someone who could help Haskins grow as a passer, but also change the entire dynamic of the offense. They tried twice, but swung and missed both times, and didn't appear to have much of a backup plan, which is why they earn a D grade on their offensive free agency report card.

On the first day of the legal tampering period, the Redskins attempted to pry away Amari Cooper from their rival Dallas Cowboys. Cooper, the best free agent wideout on the market, would have been an excellent fit in the Redskins offense. He's just 25 years old, an excellent route runner, and a go-to target for a young quarterback to look for. With McLaurin opposite him, the duo would have made a dangerous tandem on the outside.

In their first free agency together, Rivera and Redskins Senior VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith offered the four-time Pro Bowler a massive contract with even more money than the one Dallas put forward. They were ready to make a franchise-altering investment in Cooper and have him be the crown jewel of their first free agency class. But Cooper decided to stay put and signed a five-year deal with the Cowboys, citing the ability to contend for a championship right away.

After missing on Cooper, the Redskins didn't pursue any of the next tier free agent receivers, such as Emmanuel Sanders or Robby Anderson. Instead, the lone wideout Washington has signed in free agency is Cody Latimer. A former second-round pick, Latimer has never turned in a season with more than 25 catches or 300 yards. Sure, it's a low-risk signing, but nowhere near a game-changer the Redskins desperately need.

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Entering free agency, tight end was the position the Redskins arguably needed to upgrade the most; having a solid player at the position is crucial for a young, developing quarterback like Haskins. Washington released the oft-injured Jordan Reed this offseason and Vernon Davis retired, leaving a gaping hole at the position.

The Redskins were expected to be major players for Austin Hooper, the top tight end available. But the former Falcon agreed to a four-year deal with the Cleveland Browns just minutes after players could start negotiating with teams. A few days after signing with Cleveland, Hooper told SiriusXM that he was between the Browns and the Redskins and felt Cleveland offered a better chance to win.

After missing out on Hooper, the Redskins went shopping at the bargain bin once again, signing tight ends Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers each to a one-year deal. Over the past four seasons, Rodgers has a total of 43 catches for 438 yards. He's had multiple injuries, too, playing in just eight total games since 2017. Thomas is a converted quarterback-turned-tight-end who had a career-high 16 receptions a season ago.

The team has also added two running backs, J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber, to compete with Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and maybe Bryce Love.

Once again, these are all low-risk signings. Not a ton is expected from any of them, and almost any above-average production can be seen as a bonus. But for a team that desperately needed to find another game-changer on offense, none of these players have proven to be that guy yet in the pros.

The Redskins aren't going to contend for a Super Bowl in 2020, and Rivera knows that. Rebuilds take time, and Rivera has more than earned the respect to design Washington's rebuild the way he wants. 

But the head coach has preached finding guys who he believes will be core players for years to come. And after missing out on two of the teams top targets -- Cooper and Hooper -- the Redskins have likely not signed anyone on the offensive side of the ball that fits that category.

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