Capitals

No. 7 Hoosiers hold off No. 13 Spartans 75-70

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No. 7 Hoosiers hold off No. 13 Spartans 75-70

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana was playing for so much more than the Big Ten lead against Michigan State.

Tom Crean was facing an old friend and former boss in Tom Izzo. Cody Zeller was trying to rebound from the worst offensive night of his career. And Victor Oladipo, well, he just wanted to show a national television audience what the Hoosiers could do.

Oladipo and No. 7 Indiana didn't let anyone down.

The junior guard scored 21 points, had seven rebounds and six steals, leading No. 7 Indiana past No. 13 Michigan State 75-70.

``For us to get this win in this environment, for us to make the plays that we made, especially at the end, for us to make the defensive stops that we made to get the buckets that we needed to get, I thought was huge,'' Crean said.

Zeller made only two baskets Sunday, two more than he had in Wednesday's win over Penn State, and still played a key role. The second basket came on a layup with 1:38 left, which gave Indiana a two-possession lead. Zeller then took a charge with 14.3 seconds left, which essentially sealed the game.

But the Big Ten's preseason player of the year was overshadowed again by Oladipo.

Not only did he put up big numbers on the stat sheet, he opened the game with a steal and dunk, consistently came up with big plays and had 15 deflections in the first half, a number Crean said he had never seen from a player before.

How good was he? Even Izzo was impressed.

``Oladipo just plays so hard,'' the Spartans coach said. ``He's the Ray Lewis of college basketball.''

The Hoosiers (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) are hoping Oladipo can deliver the same result as the Ravens star linebacker did with Crean's brother-in-law, John Harbaugh: Playing for a championship.

And if Oladipo keeps playing like this, he just might.

Oladipo was 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 6 from the free-throw line, had three blocks and was helping to open things up for everyone else when he wasn't putting the ball in the basket or poking it away.

Christian Watford finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Yogi Ferrell had 11 points, and Jordan Hulls made three 3-pointers, finished with 10 points and four assists and closed out the game by making 1 of 2 free throws.

Indiana has now won three in a row since losing to Wisconsin, has won two straight over the Spartans and has nine wins over ranked teams at home over the past 24 months and is back in the driver's seat in the Big Ten.

``It just shows we can run,'' Oladipo said. ``Transition is a big deal on our team, and for me to get those steals and start our break, that was huge for us. My guys did a good job of playing defense and running on the break.''

The Spartans were led by Gary Harris. The 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball made five 3-pointers, finished with 21 points and was resoundingly booed in his first trip back to his home state. Adreian Payne added 18 points and doubled his season total by making three 3s. The only other Spartan in double figures was Branden Dawson, another Indiana native who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

But this was no typical game for the Spartans (17-4, 6-2).

They allowed Indiana to shoot 50.9 percent from the field, committed 19 turnovers and essentially fought to a draw on rebounds. Keith Appling fouled out with a little more than five minutes to go, and during the final three minutes, when the Spartans have been so good, they struggled to get anything right.

``Down the stretch, we were really sucking air and that caused us not to jam or step up or switch,'' Izzo said. ``Indiana's a good basketball team, though. I still think, top to bottom, they're the best team because of depth.''

Indiana left no doubt about it Sunday.

After Michigan State took a 31-30 lead late in the first half, Indiana answered with a 3 from Will Sheehey and another 3 from Hulls. Ferrell's 3 to close the half gave Indiana 44-38 lead.

Oladipo's two free throws with 16:28 to go extended the lead to 50-43, but when it looked like the Hoosiers might pull away, Harris dashed those hopes by making back-to-back 3s over the next 50 seconds to get the Spartans within 50-49.

Indiana never led by more than six the rest of the way, but with Oladipo leading the defense, Michigan State never managed to tie the score or take the lead, either.

The Hoosiers final sealed it in the final 98 seconds with Zeller's layup, the charge and Hulls' free throw.

``He (Oladipo) was a tremendous difference from the start of the game,'' Crean said. ``If you're not cerebral like that and at the same time, quick, it's hard to defend like that. But he's been good. We knew he was going to play well on the offensive end and to take away things on the defensive end, too.''

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With the NHL limiting teams to 28 skaters for the playoffs, what will the Caps' roster look like?

With the NHL limiting teams to 28 skaters for the playoffs, what will the Caps' roster look like?

In a typical NHL postseason, all roster limits and salary cap restrictions are lifted. This year, however, is no normal postseason and teams are going to have prepare for having a limited number of players on the road.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the NHL has advised teams to prepare for a 28-man roster plus unlimited goalies for training camp and the playoffs. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan confirmed this in a video conference on Friday.

"We got the roster number the other day of 28 plus unlimited goalies," MacLellan said. "So we're in discussions now on how we want to use those extra players and what's the best way we can organizationally."

It should be noted that "unlimited" goalies is a bit of a misnomer because all teams will only be allowed to bring a maximum of 50 people to their hub cities for the playoffs. So sure, bring as many goalies as you want, but for each goalie you bring that's one less staff member who will be able to go.

In a typical postseason, teams will recall several players from the minors to serve as "black aces," who are depth practice players. Several practices in the postseason are optional so having black aces ensures that regardless of the NHL regulars who wish to take part in a practice, there are still enough players to work with whether it be a goalie to shoot on or maybe shooters for a goalie to face against. Black aces also provide depth which is important for the grueling Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the players themselves, it provides younger prospects a valuable learning experience for what the postseason is like and how the veteran players approach it.

With a limited roster and limited personnel, however, MacLellan likely will not be able to bring all the players he normally would want to. Here's a projection of what a 28-man roster may look like for Washington.

The regulars

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Travis Boyd

Brenden Dillon - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Michal Kempny
Radko Gudas

When the NHL season was paused, there were 21 skaters on the roster. That number is down to 20 after Brendan Leipsic's contract was terminated. There is no reason to think any of the other 20 will not be with the team for the postseason.

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Possible Black Aces

With 20 players, that leaves just eight slots left for black aces. Here are the most likely candidates:

Shane Gersich
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
Brett Leason
Beck Malenstyn
Connor McMichael
Liam O'Brien
Garrett Pilon
Brian Pinho
Mike Sgarbossa
Joe Snively
Daniel Sprong
Alex Alexeyev
Martin Fehervary
Lucas Johansen
Tyler Lewington
Bobby Nardella

Of those players, my best guess for the eight the team will take would be Gersich, Malenstyn, McMichael, Sgarbossa, Sprong, Alexeyev, Fehervary and Lewington.

First off, MacLellan named McMichael specifically as a player the team was considering taking. I don't think he does that if he was not fairly certain McMichael was going to be included. Malenstyn said in a video conference after the AHL season was officially canceled that he had been told by the team he was going to be a black ace. As for the rest, considering there is a fairly limited number of roster spots, I think the team would lean very largely on players who are more likely to be plugged into the lineup in case of injury. That means guys like Sgarbossa and Sprong would get nods over some prospects like Jonsson-Fjallby or Snively or, on defense, Lewington would be added over prospects like Johansen and Nardella.

Goalies

Braden Holtby
Ilya Samsonov
Pheonix Copley
Vitek Vanecek

Teams will always have a third goalie when possible in the playoffs and Copley also confirmed he will be a black ace in the video conference with Malenstyn. The only question is if the team would bring Vanecek as well just to be safe. With all the unknowns of the coronavirus, it would not be surprising to see MacLellan err on the side of caution and bring a fourth netminder. It may just depend on what other personnel the team may want to bring and if there is space in the 50-person limit for a fourth goalie.

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What Roger Goodell said about death of George Floyd, protests

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What Roger Goodell said about death of George Floyd, protests

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent condolences to the family of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis by a police officer and said that there is much more work to be done in the NFL and our communities in a statement issued Saturday.

His statement: 

"The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions.

"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."

Goodell's statement came a day after an op-ed was published by former NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart calling for an NFL team to sign Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who lost his spot in the league after kneeling in protest of police brutality and inequality in America. Many, including LeBron James, have cited Kaepernick's message - and the consequences he suffered for delivering it - throughout the unrest and response to Floyd's death.

"Do you understand NOW!!??!!??" James wrote on Instagram with a side by side photo of Kaepernick kneeling during a game and a police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck. "Or is it still blurred to you??"

In a statement to Pro Football Talk in response to Lockhart's article, current NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said that Kaepernick is a free agent. “Clubs may sign him if they choose to do so," he said.

McCarthy also pointed to the work that the league has done with its Inspire Change social justice initiative, which has included millions in grants to non-profits around the country.