Redskins

No. 13 Butler steals 64-63 win over No. 8 Gonzaga

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No. 13 Butler steals 64-63 win over No. 8 Gonzaga

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Roosevelt Jones stole an inbound pass with 3.5 seconds left and hit a floater from just inside the foul line right before the buzzer to help No. 13 Butler upset No. 8 Gonzaga 64-63 on Saturday night.

Jones finished with 20 points and the Bulldogs have now won 13 in a row including two straight without their top scorer, Rotnei Clarke. It's the first time Butler (16-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) has ever beaten three top 10 teams in one season. They also defeated No. 9 North Carolina in November and No. 1 Indiana in December.

Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast Conference) was led by Saw Dower and Elias Harris who each had 20 points. The loss ended the Zags eight-game winning streak.

After starting the second half in a 33-32 deficit, Butler scored the first five points of the second half and never trailed again. But the Bulldogs also never trailed until Elias Harris' layup made it 59-58 with 1:24 left in the game.

Jones answered 18 seconds later with his own layup to give the Bulldogs the lead, and the team traded the lead on the next four possessions until Butler's Alex Barlow was called for a travel with 3.5 seconds left. But on the inbound play, the Zags overthrew 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk and Jones looped around, caught the ball and drove from midcourt for the winning shot setting off a wild celebration.

It was a game that came with all the trimmings, and it lived up to every bit of the hype.

In the morning, Butler's most famous player, Bobby Plump, took two shots from the same spot in the same gym where he made the winning shot for the 1954 Milan team that became the basis for the movie ``Hoosiers.'' He missed both.

Some fans rekindled memories of past eras with jerseys bearing the names of former Butler players such as Matt Howard and Duane Lightfoot. Every seat was filled 10 minutes before tip-off, and the students who were standing in line more than 2 1/2 before the game's scheduled starting time literally ran into Hinkle to get a precious seat behind one of the baskets to see the first game at Hinkle between two Top 15 teams.

And afterward, those fans rushed the floor.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

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USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

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