Nationals

No. 25 NC State beats Cleveland State 80-63

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No. 25 NC State beats Cleveland State 80-63

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Richard Howell had 17 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 25 North Carolina State beat Cleveland State 80-63 on Saturday in its annual return to Reynolds Coliseum.

C.J. Leslie scored a team-high 19 for the Wolfpack (6-2), who shot 55 percent and led by double figures most of the afternoon. Freshman T.J. Warren added 16 points, part of a balanced offensive showing for N.C. State.

Reynolds was the Wolfpack's home for 50 years before the program moved off campus to PNC Arena for the 1999-2000 season. But the school has typically played at least one game a year at Reynolds for the past decade as a nod to the program's tradition.

N.C. State improved to 14-0 in the building since its move.

Charlie Lee scored 15 to lead the Vikings (6-3), who got no closer than 10 points after halftime.

Cleveland State, a Horizon League program, played its third straight game without preseason all-conference pick Anton Grady. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is expected to miss at least four weeks because of a knee injury sustained against Robert Morris on Nov. 20.

His absence made it tougher for the Vikings to match up inside with Leslie and Howell.

Howell, a 6-8 senior, finished 7-for-11 from the field and posted his third double-double in four games. Leslie, a 6-9 junior, finished 7-for-8 from the field to go with eight rebounds.

Warren added two 3-pointers, the second to beat the shot clock and push the Wolfpack's lead to 73-55 with 4:44 left.

N.C. State was coming off a 69-65 win against Connecticut in Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night, capping a demanding first few weeks for the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite.

The Wolfpack lost to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tipoff championship, then lost at Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But things should get considerably easier with N.C. State starting a six-game homestand Saturday that will keep it in Raleigh until 2013.

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Why Trea Turner’s ‘jealous’ of Loudoun South, LLWS competitors

Why Trea Turner’s ‘jealous’ of Loudoun South, LLWS competitors

When Trea Turner sees the Little League World Series – or even thinks about it – there’s one feeling that comes to mind: Jealousy.

“I always wanted to go to this tournament,” he told NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas. “Tried every year. We had some good teams and made some good runs, but never got a chance. I’m a little jealous.”

The team is in Pittsburgh this week – a nearly 200 mile drive from where Virginia’s Loudoun South Little League team is looking to advance after two impressive no-hitters. And while it might be a longshot for them to make it to the big leagues one day Turner wasn’t the only current Nationals player whose dream started back in Little League.

Turner played in Little League from the age of five to 13. “My dad coached,” he said. “Most of my best friends to this day are still from of that age group and their fathers as well were coaches.” They were a close-knit group, he said.

Erick Fedde remembers his time in Little League – as a catcher. “I didn’t really pitch much until my sophomore year of high school,” he said. “Everybody pitches when they’re little. I think I was playing left field or something. I was always like I want to pitch [in high school], but I don’t want to tell the coach.”

Luckily, his mom intervened. 

“My mom pushed me,” he said. “[She told me] ‘you should tell them you want to pitch.’”

Hunter Strickland’s dad also coached him in Little League – and seeing the Little League kids, he said, brings back memories with his dad and brothers. “He definitely pushed us,” he said of his dad as a coach. “But, I respect it. It’s made us into the people we are today. It makes you a better player, a better person just from the discipline.”

Andrew Stevenson played in the Little League World Series in 2005 with his team from Lafayette, La. His heroics in a game against a team from Kentucky lead the Associated Press roundup of the tournament at the time. He scored the winning run after making it to first on a bunt single and then getting to home from third on a throwing error.

“He may be the fastest player up here,” his team manager, Mike Conrad, told the AP at the time.

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Hunter Strickland explains the weight-room mishap that broke his nose

Hunter Strickland explains the weight-room mishap that broke his nose

PITTSBURGH -- Hunter Strickland’s face has been fixed. A small piece of tape still resides in the middle of his broken nose, but the good news is the break was clean. When he went to a local hospital for X-Rays, his nose was reset and clearance to pitch was provided. His ego remains a work in progress.

Strickland broke his nose Tuesday when a weight-lifting bar was inadvertently pulled onto his face. The Nationals large reliever -- 6-foot-3, 225 pounds -- went to use a red cord tethered to a squat rack above the empty bar for hip mobility exercises. And, well, we’ll let him tell it:

“So I pulled the cord in front of the bar so this wouldn’t happen, and obviously it didn’t work out too well,” Strickland said. “When I sat down to get on the ground to do the hip stuff, I went to reach up and grab the cord, and I guess one of the loops still got hung up behind it. And when I grabbed it, I guess my weight pulled the bar off it, and it crushed me.”

Tuesday, Strickland went to throw afterward and felt fine. The doctors also told him he couldn’t further damage his reset nose -- harken back to the wise words of Max Scherzer, “You don’t pitch with your nose” -- so he felt ready to pitch. Davey Martinez opted not to use him a few hours after the incident. 

Strickland had never broken his nose prior. He comes from a large family which jousted in athletics, where he is the middle child with two older brothers, a younger brother and two younger sisters, but never broke his nose. So, the shot to the face was a surprise, to say the least.

“I had no idea,” Strickland said. “I didn't know what happened. Obviously, it hit me pretty good so it kind of dazed me for a second there. After that, I looked up in the mirror. My nose was crooked and bleeding everywhere. Just kind of put two and two together -- got knocked out by a bar.”

Members of the Nationals medical staff immediately came to him in the cramped visitor’s clubhouse workout space. The area is so tight, players were throwing a medicine ball off the concrete wall just outside entrance Wednesday. Blood and confusion made Strickland briefly worry something more significant had happened. Wednesday, he was relieved and available.

“That’s why I’m thrilled it’s not as bad as it could be,” Strickland said. “That’s one of the things they look at with the X-rays, to make sure the passages are still straight and clear. I’m able to breathe and get the blood out of there, so we’ll be good to go. It’s good. Everything checked out.”

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