Redskins

No. 5 Louisville uses defense to defeat Charleston

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No. 5 Louisville uses defense to defeat Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino couldn't have asked for better trip South. He spent time with friends, got to visit his daughter and watched his fifth-ranked Cardinals play the defense he's been seeking all season.

Wayne Blackshear scored 18 points and Louisville turned up the defensive pressure throughout to blow past the College of Charleston, 80-38, on Tuesday night. The Cardinals (7-1) had a season-high 18 steals and forced the Cougars (5-3) into 27 turnovers, 11 more than they'd averaged coming in.

``It's the best we've looked this year'' on defense, Pitino said. ``We worked on it all week.''

It sure paid off at the sold-out TD Arena. The Cougars had hoped to rekindle the success of 2010 when they defeated ninth-ranked North Carolina here in overtime, 82-79. But Louisville never gave them a chance at the upset, pulling away with a 22-7 run midway through the opening period and eventually stretching the lead to 42 points.

Blackshear said the players watched film of some of Louisville's past, best defensive teams and brought that mentality into the game. Still, Pitino wasn't sure his players had absorbed the lessons and asked them before the game if they wanted to play zone defense or man-to-man against Charleston.

``I think we just all wanted to play man to show him we could get out there and play it well,'' Blackshear said.

Things turned Louisville's way for good in the opening half as Blackshear hit a 3-pointer to begin the decisive run. Russ Smith made seven of eight free throws and Peyton Siva had six points in the surge as the Cardinials led 36-16 at the half.

The Cougars scored the first five points after the break to cut the lead to 15 before Louisville got going again with five straight baskets.

Blackshear hit the second of three 3-pointers to increase the margin to 51-26 with 15:38 to go. Blackshear's last long-range basket some 11 minutes later made it 73-36.

``They are a great team if they get into a half-court set and that was our main key not to let them,'' Siva said. ``Our goal was to pressure their guards and it worked tonight.''

Smith finished with 13 points and Siva 12. The two combined for nine steals and held Charleston's backcourt of Andrew Lawrence and Anthony Stitt to 3-of-13 shooting, nine turnovers and 10 points, 14 fewer than their average coming in.

Adjehi Baru had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Cougars.

Chane Behanan had 10 points, Louisville's fourth player in double figures.

Louisville had looked shaky its past two games without junior center Gorgui Dieng, who fractured his wrist in a win over Missouri on Nov. 23. Since then, the Cards lost to Duke (76-71) and hung on in a win over Illinois State (69-66) last Saturday.

This time, Louisville pushed the pace early and the Cougars couldn't stand up to its stifling defense. The Cardinals were up 12-3 less than seven minutes in, holding Charleston to 1-of-6 shooting and forcing five turnovers.

Blackshear's 3-pointer began the 22-7 run for Louisville over the final 8 minutes of the half. Smith made seven of eight foul shots in the run while Siva had 6 points.

Louisville had nine steals in the half as its pressing defense rarely let up.

Charleston finished the period with 16 turnovers, the amount it had averaged its first seven games.

The game was the 20th sellout in the TD Arena's five seasons and the Cougars had hoped to rekindle the success it had in 2010 when it rallied past then-No. 9 North Carolina here for an 82-79 overtime victory.

But that game's hero, ex-Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock, is in the NBA now and the Cougars had no one who could keep pace with Siva and Smith.

``We tried to simulate their pressure yesterday in practice. Their length and strength is pretty impressive,'' Cougars coach Doug Wojcik said. ``It was a tough night for us. We never put them on their heels.''

These played last year in Louisville and when then-Cougars coach Bobby Cremins stepped down last year, he urged Cardinals coach Rick Pitino to honor the trip South.

Why wouldn't he? Pitino said if he were going back to college, he'd put Charleston in his top three. It must run in the family since Pitino's daughter, Jacqueline, is a junior majoring in education at Charleston. He also spent time with Cremins and another ex-Cougars coach who's a friend in John Kresse, the man who the floor here in named for.

``I got to spent a little time with John Kresse, a little time with Bobby Cremins, I got to see me daughter, and we played great,'' he said. ``It couldn't have gone any better.''

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

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NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities.

Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention. 

Think about that. 

After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world. 

That’s wild. 

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet. 

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. 

He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. 

And fans loved him for it. 

The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.

Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air. 

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run it by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in. 

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. 

He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. 

He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action. 

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. 

That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it. 

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same. 

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. 

The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. 

If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. 

His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics. 

It wasn’t all laughter either. Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. 

Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast. 

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated. 

As for crying, Tandler didn't do it much. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye. 

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. 

Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. 

He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. 

He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend. 

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."

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