Maryland Terps

Remodeled Suns look to surprise in post-Nash era

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Remodeled Suns look to surprise in post-Nash era

PHOENIX (AP) Meet the Phoenix Suns. Introductions certainly are necessary. This team has undergone an extreme personnel makeover in the aftermath of Steve Nash's departure to the hated Lakers.

Five players return from last year, and only two - center Marcin Gortat and guard Jared Dudley - figure to start.

The newcomers include a pair of former high draft picks, Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson, looking to thrive with a clean slate.

In Beasley's case, the second overall pick in 2008 insists his marijuana-related issues are behind him. Johnson, the fourth overall pick in 2010, looks to be a designated sharpshooter off the bench for the Suns.

Phoenix also landed Luis Scola, a 6-foot-9 Argentine who gives the team a steady power forward, something they've lacked since All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire packed his bags for New York.

The most significant addition isn't new to the Suns at all. Somebody had to replace Nash, and the Suns coaxed his former understudy, Goran Dragic, back to the desert.

Phoenix, dissatisfied with Dragic's play at the time, shipped him to Houston for point guard Aaron Brooks in February 2010. Brooks was a disappointment in Phoenix and last season, when he moved into the Rockets' starting lineup, Dragic flourished.

Dudley noticed the difference between this Dragic and the one who was traded away.

"I thought him leaving, going to Houston and starting has helped his confidence, helped his maturity," Dudley said. "He definitely is the face of the franchise now. It's his show."

Dragic, always popular with his teammates and the fans, knows that following Nash, one of the best playmakers the game has known, is a daunting challenge.

"My confidence is huge," he said. "I feel awesome. I feel great. I'm in shape now. I just try to find the open guys and just be myself."

Standing 6-foot-3 with long arms and a dynamic, aggressive playing style, the Slovenian playmaker knows the spotlight will be on him.

"I never have avoided that. That's part of the business," he said. "Every night I'm going to go out there and give my hundred percent, try to play as hard as possible, then see what's going to happen. I'm not afraid. I'm comfortable with that role. I was talking with coach and my teammates. They trust me and I trust them."

Coach Alvin Gentry enters his fourth full season with the Suns, but first without Nash. He is counting on effort as a crucial component of this mostly young bunch.

Gentry said that in practices and preseason games, he's been impressed by the "level of intensity and overall competitiveness at every position."

Dudley has been with the Suns since 2008, longer than any other current member of the team. He figures to start at shooting guard and can slide to small forward. The other longtime Sun, forward Channing Frye, is out for the season for treatment of an enlarged heart.

The team will look to Beasley to provide a bulk of the offense, giving the exceptionally talented player a clean slate in a new setting.

The 6-foot-10 forward signed a three-year, $18 million contract with Phoenix after the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to let him go. It's the third team for Beasley since he was drafted so high by the Miami Heat.

The contract was not that big for someone who was expected to be so good. He brings a 15.1-point career scoring average but also carries the baggage of off-the-court issues.

Beasley was ticketed for possessing marijuana and speeding in a Minneapolis suburb in June 2011 and has acknowledged that while playing for Miami, he twice violated the NBA's drug policy and entered a treatment facility in 2009. At the news conference introducing him in Phoenix, Beasley said he realized his drug issues were holding him back.

"I realize 10 minutes of feeling good is not really worth putting my life and my career and my legacy in jeopardy," he said at the time, "so I'm confident to say that that part of my career, that part of my life, is over and won't be coming back."

Gortat will surely miss the pick-and-rolls with Nash that gave him so much success on offense, but he will still often be the target in the Suns' system, which will remain up-tempo but with the ability to play a half-court style when necessary.

As for depth, streak-shooting Shannon Brown will be the backup shooting guard. Markieff Morris, a first-round draft pick a year ago, will back up Scola. At center, Phoenix brought in 34-year-old Jermaine O'Neal to play behind Gortat.

Phoenix's first-round draft pick, Kendall Marshall out of North Carolina, will have to fight his way into the rotation. Sebastian Telfair, who played the best basketball of his career for the Suns last season, opens this season as Dragic's backup.

It's not a cast that can stand up to the powerhouses in the West - Oklahoma City, the two teams in Los Angeles, and San Antonio.

Competing for one of the last spots in the playoffs may be a more realistic goal.

"I think that we will be competitive and we will try to play the right way and we will play unselfishly," Gentry said. "If we can put those three things together, anything that happens we will accept."

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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No. 19 Iowa pummels Maryland 23-0 for 3rd straight win

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USA Today

No. 19 Iowa pummels Maryland 23-0 for 3rd straight win

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- On a day when the wind made nearly every play an ugly one, Iowa's defense looked beautiful.

Nate Stanley threw for 86 yards and a touchdown and 19th-ranked Iowa pummeled Maryland 23-0 on Saturday for its third straight victory.

Anthony Nelson added a TD on a fumble recovery for the Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten), who held the Terrapins to just 115 yards and seven first downs on a day when wind gusts topped 40 mph.

"I'm really happy with our team's performance. When you play a team like Maryland, they really pose some unique challenges for us and you factor in the conditions on top of that," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I thought our guys did a really good job of being focused."

Those conditions seemed like they might favor Maryland and its run-heavy attack.

But Iowa's front seven never let the Terrapins' attack get going, and its offense used the ground game to grab an early lead and control the ball for more than 40 minutes.

After settling for a pair of short field goals, Iowa went into halftime ahead 13-0 after Stanley found Brandon Smith for a 10-yard TD grab -- which Smith made with one hand -- with eight seconds left in the second quarter.

Nelson, a defensive end, made it 23-0 Hawkeyes late in the third quarter by falling on a botched handoff from backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome in the end zone.

"They controlled the line of scrimmage up front. When we did try to run it up inside, they did a very good job of stopping us," Maryland coach Matt Canada said. "The wind really limited us being able to throw the ball down the field to loosen them up."

Ivory Kelly-Martin ran for 98 yards for Iowa, which had its first shutout since a 28-0 victory at Illinois two years ago.

Kasim Hill was 6 of 15 passing for 47 yards and a pick for the Terps (4-3, 2-2), who ran for just 68 yards after entering play averaging 245 a game on the ground.

All three of Maryland's losses have come by at least 21 points.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa: The Hawkeyes are really starting to round into form. If Iowa can upset Penn State next week in State College, talk of the Hawkeyes crashing the playoff party will only gain steam because they should be favored to win their last four games.

Maryland: The Terps' defense simply couldn't get off the field, time and again bullied by an Iowa offensive line that played arguably its best game yet. Illinois ran just 39 plays, compared with 76 for Iowa.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Iowa might make another big jump -- the Hawkeyes went from unranked to 19th last week -- after an utterly dominant performance. The Hawkeyes have won their last three games by 17, 26 and 23 points.

TURNING POINT

Maryland looked like it had a good shot at holding Iowa to another red-zone field goal late in the first half. But Byron Cowart got flagged for a personal foul following a Stanley incompletion from the Terrapins 22, and two plays later Stanley found Smith in the end zone.

PARKER HESSE CAN'T LOSE

Hesse, Iowa's senior defensive end, played perhaps the signature game of a brilliant career. Hesse knew exactly when to stay home and when to attack on Maryland's option plays, and he added a sack and two tackles for loss. "They give you a lot of different looks ... it all came down to what we did this week in practice," Hesse said. "Not to sound redundant or cheesy. That's just something you've got to practice."

THE NUMBERS

Ty Johnson was the only Maryland player with more than one catch. He had two, for two yards. Iowa was 9 of 18 on third downs and 3 of 4 on fourth downs. Tre Watson and Isaiah Davis combined for 29 tackles for Maryland. The Hawkeyes wore out Maryland with a 17-play drive in the first quarter that consumed nine minutes and ended with a 23-yard field goal from Miguel Recinos. "Our objective is to get off the field on third down. Unfortunately, we understand when those long drives happen, it's because we failed to do that," Watson said.

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Redskins vs. Cowboys: The Highs and Lows from Week 7

Redskins vs. Cowboys: The Highs and Lows from Week 7

By the time these arch-rivals kicked off late Sunday afternoon for Week 7 at FedEx Field, this much was true: Either the Washington Redskins or Dallas Cowboys would end the day atop the NFC East thanks in part to the Philadelphia Eagles' fourth-quarter collapse. Should the Redskins win a second consecutive game for the first time since Week 15-16 last season, Washington would hold a 1 1/2 game lead.

Of course, week-to-week consistency hasn't been on the menu in 2018 even at home. 

The Redskins entered their first NFC East game of the season without Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, Chris Thompson and Quinton Dunbar, who popped up on the injury report late in the week with a shin injury.

Here's what went right and what went wrong in Week 7 between the Redskins and Cowboys.

Redskins vs. Cowboys: The Highs and Lows

FIRST QUARTER:

HIGHS: The Redskins entered Sunday 3-0 when scoring first, but 0-2 when the opponent generates a game’s initial points. Therefore, Kapri Bibbs taking a perfectly executed screen pass 23 yards for a touchdown on Washington’s first drive offers hope.

LOWS: Washington’s defense stopped Dallas on Fourth-and-1 from the Cowboys’ 45-yard line as D.J. Swearinger forced a fumble as quarterback Dak Prescott sought space. This good news lands in the bad section because the offense did nothing with the opportunity. They quickly punted without generating a first down on the brief drive.

The Redskins didn’t capitalize on similar opportunities against Carolina with a chance to create significant separation, and the Panthers nearly rallied in the second half.

SECOND QUARTER:

HIGHS:  Gameplans against the Cowboys offense go something like this: Stop running back Ezekiel Elliott. Not easy, of course; Elliott entered Week 7 second in the NFL with 586 yards. Therefore, credit the Redskins defense in the first half. Elliott had 13 yards on 10 carries. Inside linebacker Zach Brown, among the players consistently around in the fray on run attempts, had eight tackles in the first half.

LOWS: Rookie on rookie crime put Dallas on the scoreboard. With the ball at Washington’s 49, receiver Michael Gallup ran a classic stop-and-go, the kind of play sneaky kids attempt in backyards across the country with mixed reviews. This try turned into a smashing success for the visitors. Greg Stroman, starting on the outside in place of Dunbar, bit on the fakery. Gallup sprinted past the cornerback and Prescott fed his wide-open receiver in stride for the tying touchdown.

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