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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Former Redskins CB Shawn Springs wouldn't mind a red, white and blue color scheme with new name

Former Redskins CB Shawn Springs wouldn't mind a red, white and blue color scheme with new name

Over the next few days, and in the spirit of a Presidential election year, NBC Sports Washington is polling ex-Redskins players and NFLers who grew up in the DMV for their thoughts on the burgundy-and-gold's pending name change - and what name THEY would like to see.  

With the Redskins officially reviewing their name for a seemingly imminent change, suggestions from fans have poured in. 

Not only do you see name ideas like the "Washington Red Tails" or "Washington Warriors", but nowadays you see logo mockups, uniform designs and new color schemes to go along with them. With almost too many to choose, former Washington all-pro cornerback Shawn Springs highlighted the best suggestions he's seen.

"I like the Washington Warriors or the Senators," Springs told NBC Sports Washington. "With the Senators, you have the Capitals and Nationals, so you can keep that theme in DC."

Springs, a Silver Spring native, played in Washington from 2004-to-08, tallying 12 interceptions, 250 tackles and 52 passes defended. He seemed to like the idea of including the Redskins in the nation's capital theme, especially if it meant changing the team's color scheme to match every other pro team in the city.

"I like the fact that the Nats, Wizards [and Capitals] all wear red white and blue," he said. "I think that'd be a real cool thing for DC. And hell, both the [Nationals and Capitals] won. I just like something that's gonna give you a theme with the rest of the teams [in DC]."

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Washington's controversial name could be seen as divisive for the city's sports fans, so what better way to unite everyone than every team sharing the same color scheme. Pittsburgh is the only other city whose pro sports teams (Penguins, Steelers, Pirates) use the same color scheme, and it certainly works for them. 

One obstacle going with the Senators would be the fact that the name belonged to the city's baseball team from 1901-1960 and again as an expansion team from 1961 to 1971. But Senators 1.0 moved to Minnesota to become the Twins and Senators 2.0 left quickly for Texas to become the Rangers. Baseball has since returned to DC and the Nationals couldn't be a better name for the franchise. Why not bring "Senators" back in a different sport?

RELATED: COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF REDSKINS FAN-GENERATED NEW NAMES

You can recapture some of the town's sports history and perhaps even recycle some of the logo/uniform concepts they used years ago. Not to mention how cool it'd be for a Walter Johnson jersey to become appropriate attire at an NFL game.

Whatever the team's name ends up being, this whole saga has bred a ton of creativity and done a lot of heavy lifting for everyone set to choose new fantasy football team names this year.

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Ex-Redskins CB Fred Smoot says team officials like 'two or three' replacement names

Ex-Redskins CB Fred Smoot says team officials like 'two or three' replacement names

Over the next few days, and in the spirit of a Presidential election year, NBC Sports Washington is polling ex-Redskins players and NFLers who grew up in the DMV for their thoughts on the burgundy-and-gold's pending name change - and what name THEY would like to see.  

The Washington Redskins released a statement on Friday announcing they are undergoing a "thorough review" of the team name after major corporate sponsors FedEx, Nike, PepsiCo, and others put pressure on the organization to change the mascot.

At this point, a name change seems inevitable. So, what will the team's new moniker be?

Former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot told NBC Sports Washington on Sunday that the team's top decision makers, especially owner Dan Snyder, have a few prime candidates that stand out.

"What I'm hearing from Redskins Park, there are already two or three names that they like," Smoot said. "That tells you that Dan has already been working towards it."

Over the past few days, several potential name replacements have surfaced, with the Warriors, Redtails, and Redhawks being the most popular. For Smoot, 'Warriors' would be the easiest transition.

"Me, in my head, Warriors is the one that sticks out the most," Smoot said. "I think it's an easy transition. There are no Warriors in the NFL. It's already a mascot for Golden State, and they've gotten no pushback on it."

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The name 'Warriors' also allows the team to honor Native Americans, something Smoot said Snyder wants to do.

"At the end of the day, besides Warriors, I know Redtails is up there," Smoot said. "But [Synder] said something that stuck out to me: he wants to keep the logo and acknowledge Native Americans, give them something that they're proud of. So that tells me that it won't be Redtails."

While 'Warriors' might be the easiest transition for the franchise, Smoot offered a few of his own suggestions. And they were quite creative.

"If you're going for a total re-brand, you can go Red Wolves," Smoot said. "I've never heard anybody say anything about that. The Wolf is almost a spirit animal for Native Americans. I think the Red Wolves would be one of those things that I heard nobody say that I think would be a great one. I can just see FedEx Field and the 80,000 people just howling like Wolves. That would really be something."

Plus, the cornerback mentioned that Snyder does not want to change the colors or the team's current logo.

"If you get a name like the 'Americans' or 'Red Wolves,' you don't have to change the brand," Smoot said. "Whenever 'Redskins' is, you're just taking the name off. [Snyder] already said he's keeping the colors. He's keeping the logo. Now, it's just changing the name."

RELATED: LIST OF REDSKINS FAN-GENERATED NEW NAMES

Outside of the Red Wolves, Smoot also had a few other...um....out-of-the-box suggestions.

"I have another one that's off the edge, because you know I'm an edgy guy," Smoot said. "This one, you're pretty much going to laugh at. What about the Washington District of Columbia?"

Additionally, Smoot suggested the Redskins could take the mascot of one prominent college athletics program - or also change the name to something that would honor the team's own history.

"If you're going for a total re-brand, there are so many different animals that haven't been used," Smoot said. "We could be the Washington Wolverines. But I don't think [Snyder] wants a total re-brand. I think we could be the Washington Pigskins. Just put the Pig in front of [Skins]. We're already connected to the Hog."

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