Redskins

Reserves ready to go for short-handed Syracuse

Reserves ready to go for short-handed Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Brandon Triche never flinched when asked how No. 6 Syracuse would cope with its depleted lineup.

After all, that's the Orange way. No complaints here.

``Everybody's ready to play,'' he said. ``Everybody works hard. I guess there's a little bit of inexperience, but we'll be fine.''

With senior forward James Southerland still benched because of an eligibility matter - he's missed four games - and freshman forward Dajuan Coleman on crutches after knee surgery this week that will keep him out at least one month, Syracuse (18-2, 6-1 Big East) is down to seven scholarship players as it gets ready to play at Pittsburgh (17-5, 5-4) Saturday.

Coach Jim Boeheim, Syracuse's most famous walk-on, has forewarned everybody to be prepared. Not that they wouldn't be anyway.

``You've got to be ready,'' assistant coach Adrian Autry said. ``As a good coach, you've got to try to be as prepared as possible. They understand that it's a reality that they may be called on to play two or three or four minutes. You just never know. The games still have to be played.''

Reserves Matt Lyde-Cajuste and Griffin Hoffmann, both seniors, and juniors Nolan Hart and Russ DeRemer have played in nine games each, logging a total of 45 minutes between them. Together, they have combined for five whole points, and their action has come in the waning moments of games that had already been decided. None played in the 75-71 overtime loss at Villanova last Saturday.

Lyde-Cajuste walked on to the team as a freshman and was awarded a scholarship this year. At 6-foot-4 and a muscular 210 pounds, he's practiced against the Orange centers and this year has dueled with the forwards, a position he'll likely man if needed.

``Coach says to be ready, and I'm definitely ready,'' said Lyde-Cajuste, who played in 20 games his first three years at Syracuse. ``It's another opportunity, another way for me to help my teammates, do something positive on the court.''

If nothing else, the team is well rested, not having played since Saturday's loss in Philadelphia.

``It gives our players time to see what their roles are going to be. Then the biggest thing is everybody just being comfortable with their position on the floor,'' Triche said. ``Hopefully, we stay out of foul trouble.''

But opposing coaches have been doing all they can to make that happen. Triche has been in trouble three times this season, fouling out against Detroit and reaching four fouls at Arkansas and vs. Villanova at home. Southerland saved the day in two of those wins, scoring a career-high 35 against the Razorbacks and contributing 22 to hold Detroit at bay for Boeheim's 900th victory. Southerland did not play against the Wildcats in the Carrier Dome Jan. 12, his eligibility issue surfacing just before the opening tipoff.

Starting forward Rakeem Christmas, tops on the team with 40 blocks, has also heard his share of whistles. He's been called for four fouls in four of the past six games and has 43 on the season. Backup center Baye Moussa Keita (47) and starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams (45) lead the way.

``I think everybody is going to be ready,'' said Keita, who fouled out in nine minutes against Villanova last Saturday. ``I think we're going to be fine. All the games are going to be tough. We just have to give it everything we have.''

Although Boeheim has nine players averaging 13 or more minutes this season (eight without Southerland), he's been a master juggler when it comes to his lineup.

``Sometimes, you only play seven guys. It all depends on the game,'' Autry said. ``Over the long haul, I think it's something we'll have to deal with, tweak some things here and there, if it continues to be that way. We'll get Dajuan back, hopefully, and see where everybody else goes.''

For his part, Southerland is still practicing with the team and still flashing that infectious smile, hopeful of a resolution to his problem sooner than later.

``He's still with the guys, still with the team, preparing as if he was getting ready to play,'' Autry said. ``His spirits are good. He's doing everything he's supposed to do.''

In the meantime, Lyde-Cajuste is preparing for some more time in the limelight. His biggest foe will most likely be his nerves.

``The jitters will be there to a certain extent, but at the end of the day it's basketball,'' he said. ``I've been playing a more intricate role in practice to get my legs under me.

``I'm very excited.''

Quick Links

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

screen_shot_2018-10-16_at_5.55.43_pm.png
@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

capsfaceoff.png
USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: