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No. 24 Cincinnati tries to hustle to title

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No. 24 Cincinnati tries to hustle to title

CINCINNATI (AP) Point guard Cashmere Wright thought about Cincinnati's offense last season - a half-court approach that revolved around power forward Yancy Gates - and shuddered.

``Dreadful,'' Wright said. ``Horrible.''

The Bearcats are done with it.

``I'll tell you what: If we see that, it's a bad season going on,'' the senior said. ``Something ain't right.''

The 24th-ranked Bearcats don't intend to dally when they get the ball, a new approach that they think can turn their breakthrough season into an even better one. Last season, Cincinnati went 26-11, reached the title game of the Big East tournament for the first time and went on to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.

The Bearcats have three starters back and one of the league's best backcourts with Wright, Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker. Ten players return overall, giving Cincinnati one of the deepest benches in the league. Coach Mick Cronin plans to take full advantage.

``We have guys that are more ready to play off our bench than they were last year,'' Cronin said. ``So I would expect those guys to play a lot more than they did at the end of last season when our bench got too short and was really our demise in the Big East championship game and the Ohio State game in the Sweet 16.

``For us to be the best team in the Big East, we're going to have to do it with 10 guys. We're not going to do it with five guys.''

The plan: Use `em all, and make `em go fast.

Cronin emphasized speed during preseason practice, trying to get his offense to attack as soon as it gets the ball. Instead of waiting for Gates to set up in the post and run the offense through him, the Bearcats are going to spread out the floor and take the first opening.

``He started this thing called `blitz,''' Wright said. ``Once the other team scores, you've got 1 second to take the ball out and get it going. There's no more `take the ball out, walk up the floor.' You've got 1 second to get that ball out of the net, to the point guard and to whatever guard is right there and get down the floor.

``Even after they score, the point guard is supposed to be right there and we're going. So we're supposed to beat them down the floor even if they score.''

While the players like the new approach - especially those three guards - Cronin reminds them it'll work only if the Bearcats' defense remains their signature. They had to reinvent their offense last season after Gates got suspended following a brawl with crosstown rival Xavier, but never changed the man-to-man defense that turned them into one of the Big East's best teams down the stretch.

``A big part of what we do is trying to get 40 deflections every game and wear our opponents out,'' Cronin said. ``But you're not going to wear the opponent out unless you're putting pressure on - not necessarily trapping on every possession, but the cumulative effect of having someone that is athletic in your face wearing you down. That's new for this team.''

One thing won't change: Cincinnati will be led by its guards.

- Kilpatrick led the Bearcats in scoring last season at 14.3 points per game. His 92 3-pointers were the most in the Big East.

- Wright set a school record with 74 steals and averaged only 2.2 turnovers per game last season.

- Parker averaged 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds over the last eight games and led the Bearcats in rebounding during tournament play.

The biggest loss is Gates, who was Cincinnati's only consistent front-line scoring threat. Six-foot-10 center Cheikh Mbodj and 6-foot-8 forward Justin Jackson will be counted on to provide defense, rebounding and a little scoring when teams lock in on the guards.

The Bearcats have equaled or topped their win total in each of their six seasons under Cronin, who rebuilt the program from the fallout of Bob Huggins' ouster. After finishing fourth in the Big East last season - their best such finish - and getting to the tournament title game before losing to Louisville, the Bearcats' outlook is better than it's been in a long time.

``When you make it that far - the Big East championship, the Sweet 16 - it definitely raises your expectations,'' Parker said. ``You expect to get to that point or further. So the expectation's there for us.''

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter:http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After a fight-filled start to joint practices between the Redskins and Jets, the Skins' 2018 NFL preseason schedule continues Thursday night at Fed Ex Field against New York. 

Week 2 of the NFL preseason still doesn't provide a lot of answers to questions about team performance, but it begins to reveal the depth the Redskins could have this season.

One storyline that won't be taking place, is the return of former Redskin Terrelle Pryor, who told reporters after Monday's practice he won't be playing in the game.

The Redskins have bigger things to worry about though, like who will replace rookie Derrius Guice, who's now out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Redskins also have one less name in the fight for receiver depth as well, after Robert Davis suffered a season-ending leg injury as well. 

Ahead of Thursday's preseason matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

REDSKINS vs. JETS, PRESEASON WEEK 2

Who: Washington Redskins vs. New York Jets

What: Game 2 of the 2018 NFL Preseason

When: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Fed Ex Field, Landover, MD

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Point Spread: Washington, -3

Over/Under: 39.5

Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy

REDSKINS vs. PATRIOTS TV SCHEDULE:

5:00 PM: Redskins 100
5:30 PM: Redskins Nation
6:00 PM: Best of the Sports Junkies
7:00 PM: Redskins Kickoff Live

REDSKINS 2018 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. New England Patriots, 7:30 p.m. (L, 26-17)

Week 2: Thurs., 8/16, vs. New York Jets, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

Week 3: Fri., 8/24, vs. Denver Broncos, 7:30 p.m. 

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 p.m. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

 

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Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

The city of Washington, where he grew up near and was a star in college at Georgetown University, isn't the only factor that makes joining the Wizards familiar for Jeff Green. He is also reuniting with his former coach, Scott Brooks, who now leads the Wizards.

Long ago, Brooks was cutting his teeth on the sidelines while Green was finding his way on the court. When Green was a rookie on the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, Brooks was a 42-year-old assistant coach. The team moved to Oklahoma City the following year and by late November of 2008, Brooks was the head coach after P.J. Carlesimo was fired.

Brooks helped oversee Green's first four seasons as an NBA player and Green remembers those days well.

"He looked way better than he does now," Green joked.

Brooks, now 53, has a knack for taking playful shots at those he works with, whether that be players, fellow coaches or the media. Green is clearly on that level and feels comfortable ribbing his head coach, knowing he can both dish it out and take it.

All jokes aside, Green is still appreciative of the tutelage he received from Brooks back in the day.

"Scotty was my No. 1 guy, he’s always been, but when I first stepped foot on an NBA floor, he was there for me. He was a coach with Seattle when I first got into the league," Green said.

The NBA has taken Brooks and Green to very different places in the seven years since they split ways. Green left for the Celtics and has since played for the Grizzlies, Clippers, Magic and most recently the Cavaliers. Brooks stuck around with OKC through the 2014-15 season before he was let go. After taking a year off, he joined the Wizards.

Much has changed in Brooks and Green's lives. They have lost and gained jobs. Their families have grown. Now, they are back on the same team and Green is excited about it.

"We’ve been close and tight ever since. We never lost contact. So, I’m looking forward to being coached by him again. I know he’s going to put us all in great positions to succeed. We just have to do our part on the floor," Green said.

Green spoke with Brooks on the phone before deciding to sign with the Wizards as a free agent in July. His presence was one of the many reasons he felt Washington was a good fit.

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