Capitals

No. 22 Missouri rallies past South Carolina

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No. 22 Missouri rallies past South Carolina

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Frank Haith seemed fairly calm for a coach under fire, and one who shed his sports coat and tie while willing his team forward.

No. 22 Missouri's second-half surge no doubt had a lot to do with it.

During a dismal first half Haith said he ``almost bust a blood vessel.'' After the Tigers rallied from 13 points down in the second half and held off South Carolina 71-65 on Tuesday, the coach said he was relieved that a lengthy NCAA investigation implicating Haith in recruiting violations at Miami was apparently about to end.

``Obviously, I can't say a whole lot about what's going on because contrary to what's been reported, there's been no letter written to Frank Haith and my attorneys have not received a letter of any allegations,'' Haith said. ``So until that happens, then I (can't) respond.

``As of right now there's nothing our way, but I do feel and know that we're getting close to the end, and that's what's exciting to me.''

CBSSports.com said Monday that Haith would face an ``unethical conduct'' charge because of inconsistencies the NCAA found in his account of the recruiting of DeQuan Jones, plus would be charged with ``failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.''

Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown hit key 3-pointers in the final 1:11 for Missouri, which was just 5 for 27 from long range overall. Ross played 37 minutes wearing a brace to protect ongoing back issues and a day earlier Haith hadn't been certain he'd play.

``It was pretty much a mental thing,'' Ross said. ``Our trainer got me right yesterday and today and I just did a lot of treatment, and did my thing.''

Haith did his thing, too, blocking out the rumors and coaching up a storm with a team coming off a dispiriting 31-point loss at Florida and minus top player Laurence Bowers plus guard Keion Bell. The tie came off at halftime and the jacket came off early in the second half.

``I almost took everything off,'' Haith joked. ``I've had a couple of those where you feel like you're going to bust a blood vessel. That was one of my top ones.''

Ross had a career-best 21 points and Brown had 17 for Missouri (14-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference), which is 11-0 at home this season and has won 12 straight at the Mizzou Arena since losing to Kansas State and coach Frank Martin, now in his first year at South Carolina, on Feb. 21, 2012.

Brown had eight points in a 20-2 run that gave Missouri a five-point lead with just under 12 minutes to go. Alex Oriakhi was 10 for 10 at the line and fouled out in the final minute with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who won despite 33 percent overall shooting.

``As I told our team, adversity, you've got to be able to handle whatever's going on off the court,'' Haith said. ``When you get that opportunity, do what you do.

``I get an opportunity to coach young men, I'm going to do my very best.''

Brenton Williams had 16 points with four 3-pointers for South Carolina (11-7, 1-4), which has lost four conference games by a combined 18 points and faced its first ranked opponent of the season. RJ Shawson added 10 points for the Gamecocks, who shot 37 percent.

Ross' 3-pointer made it 66-63 with 1:11 to go and Brown's 3-pointer made it 69-65 with 14 seconds left.

Missouri had a huge advantage at the free throw line, going 28 for 36 compared to 11 for 17 by South Carolina. Martin stopped short of criticizing the referees.

``I thought both teams were going at it at the rim,'' Martin said. ``I'm not going to go there because I'm probably not going to wake up really happy tomorrow if I go there.

``I don't know what to tell you. They came at us. We went at them.''

Martin is 6-5 against Missouri, but just 1-5 at the Mizzou Arena.

``I've been in this building enough to know that regardless of what your lead is, they're always going to make a push,'' Martin said. ``And that crowd's incredible, it always is.''

South Carolina went more than 5 1-2 minutes between points, finally ending the drought on a tip-in by Brian Richardson that cut the deficit to three with 11:34 left.

Missouri was 2 for 23 from 3-point range before Phil Pressey banged one in off the glass for a two-point lead with 4:39 to go.

Missouri trailed at halftime for the third time at home after missing its first 13 3-point attempts, a slump ended by Ross with 32 seconds to go, and shot just 20 percent overall to trail 35-27. Pressey had no points, two assists and three turnovers, and three players were 0 for 3 from long range, and the Tigers stayed in range with 14-for-17 free throw shooting.

South Carolina hit four of its first five 3-pointers, three days after going just 4 for 21 in a home loss to Vanderbilt. Williams had three of the 3-pointers for the Gamecocks, who shot 41 percent.

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That time new Caps player Ilya Kovalchuk scored on a power play and pointed at Sidney Crosby in the penalty box

That time new Caps player Ilya Kovalchuk scored on a power play and pointed at Sidney Crosby in the penalty box

The Washington Capitals traded for forward Ilya Kovalchuk on Sunday to help add some offensive depth.

There's lots to be said about what Kovalchuk could potentially provide the Caps, but in the wake of Washington's 5-3 win over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday perhaps the best introduction for Caps fans to the newest forward is a memory from back in 2006.

You may find this hard to believe, but Sidney Crosby used to rub some of his opponents the wrong way. In a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers on Jan. 6, 2006 -- Crosby's rookie season -- Crosby was called for his second penalty of the game as he slashed Kovalchuk. Then on the resulting power play, this happened:

“He takes those stupid penalties all the time,” said Kovalchuk. “He’s an 18-year-old kid, and he can’t play like this. He starts yapping about his teammates in the newspapers … I don’t know, he should play really hard on the ice and keep it at that.”

Yeah, Kovalchuk should fit in just fine in Washington.

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'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is always a fun time for fans. It's a time for buyers to bring in the final key pieces of a Stanley Cup roster or maybe those one or two players needed to complete a run to the playoffs. For sellers, it is time to move players away and begin looking towards the future. It's a time when everyone with any interest in hockey pours over rosters, cap hits and stats trying to determine who could fit where like pieces on a chessboard.

The feeling is much different for the players.

"It's difficult," Nick Jensen said of the trade deadline. "It's a whirlwind. Everything's going on, you're kind of comfortable at the place you're at, you have a place where you played for a while and your family's there and all of a sudden, for me, I got traded and that night I was gone and I never really looked back."

To the players, the trade deadline is not just about shuffling names from roster to roster, this is real life. A player's life can change with one phone call and the news that he now has to pack his bags for a new city and get there in a matter of days, sometimes hours.

The uncertainty of the trade deadline affects every player of every team. Obviously there are those like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who know they are not going to be traded, but that doesn't mean friends can't be traded for or away. Whether your team is in a rebuild or a Cup contender, there's a chance the roster could look very different by 3 p.m. on Monday for any team in the NHL.

"It can be a little distracting at times for the whole team in general if you're a team that you think was going to be making some moves, but it can also especially be distracting if you're a guy that's being talked about being traded," said Jensen who was traded to the Caps in 2019 as a deadline move.

Some players find themselves to be the unwilling trade chips of a deal as general managers try to tweak their rosters. The news of a trade, however, can sometimes be a welcome relief. That certainly has been the case for most deadline pickups for Washington in recent years.

From a competitive standpoint, typically the Caps have sought reinforcements from teams that know they will not be headed to the playoffs. Players come to Washington with the hope of competing for a Stanley Cup or perhaps of being able to find a better fit and a bigger role than the one they are leaving.

"I was in really bad situation [in Chicago]," said Michal Kempny, who was a trade deadline pickup for the Caps in 2018. "Every change was good for me. I just kind of waited what's going to happen and I got traded here."

"To come here and have some big-time meaningful games coming up, and be right in the thick of the race, it's a lot of fun," the newly acquired Brenden Dillon said.

But that's on the ice. The off-ice implications are a bit more complicated.

Off the ice, players have to think about their homes, their wives or girlfriends and their kids. Off the ice, players are faced with the realities of a world that is not built around the schedule of a professional athlete.

"My wife had just finally started living with me because she was in grad school before that so it was like oh finally we get to live together," Jensen said, "And then we lived together for like five months then I get traded and like oh here we go again. Dealing with when you get traded the stuff outside of hockey can be tough like that."

Initially, players do not have to worry about much in terms of housing. They are put up in a hotel and can adjust to their new surroundings. Then they are left to trying to adjust to their new team.

"It's kind of different.," Kempny said. "New city, new organization, new teammates. It's part of our job and those things happening every year to a lot of guys."

Adjusting to a new team can be especially difficult when it is one as tight as the Caps.

While players are certainly excited to join the organization, there also comes with it a level of intimidation of walking into the locker room.

"It feels like a tight-knit family in here, and there's a reason that they've had so much success not just this year but in years past," Dillon said. "I'm just trying to be a piece to the puzzle, come in and do what I can."

"I'm coming into a team where I got traded for a guy that was here that a lot of the guys were pretty fond of so that's kind of in the back of your mind too," Jensen said. "I know the guys really liked [Madison Bowey.] I heard he was a really great guy so I know losing guys at trades can be tough in that sense because you could grow as a family here and it's like losing a brother. Going in and trying to replace that can be tough too."

Adjusting to a new team, adjusting to a new system, adjusting to a new city and doing it while also trying to figure out where you're going to live and if and when your family may move with you is a lot for anyone to handle. The trade deadline comes with the added pressure of having to adjust quickly. A player who is traded in December still has over half the season left to play. It comes with all the same challenges, but there is more time for a player to get his game in order.

At the trade deadline, however, it's crunch time. There is only about a quarter of the season left to play and suddenly all the off-ice things that most people would refer to as "life" become a distraction from the task at hand, something in which the players have to shut out.

"The approach I always took is I always try to control the things that I could control and getting traded is out of my control," Jensen said. "I just focus on each game and take the same approach that you always take whether you're being traded or not being traded. If you focus on the stuff outside of your game, it's just a distraction, it's a waste of energy and it kind of puts a toll on you a little bit.

"It's not easy. It's not easy shutting things out like that, but that's kind of the approach you've got to take."

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