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.''

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Hate the Redskins' loss to the Eagles if you want, but it was the ideal outcome

Hate the Redskins' loss to the Eagles if you want, but it was the ideal outcome

The Redskins lost to the Eagles in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday, but in the big picture, Washington played a near perfect game.

Certainly, fans should hate the final score, and players and coaches deserve every right to be angry after falling to Philadelphia 37-27. Make no mistake about that. The Redskins gave up a late, back-breaking touchdown to Carson Wentz to lose a game that Washington fought hard to improbably win. Plenty of Redskins fought their guts out on Sunday, and came up short, and that's incredibly hard. 

In a lost season, however, wins and losses become less relevant as storylines shift to player development. And in Sunday's game against Philadelphia, Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played the best game of his NFL career. 

Haskins completed 19 of 28 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with a passer rating north of 120. 

Haskins was great against the Eagles, and it was a performance Redskins fans, players and coaches needed to see. 

The rookie passer was already the future of the franchise. That's just the inherent reality with the 15th overall pick. Until Sunday though, it wasn't exactly earned. Haskins had shown flashes of strong play, but never a full game. That changed against Philadelphia, when Haskins showed control of the offense and command of the team. There were great throws, plenty of good reads and more than a few athletic plays. 

As the Redskins look to the future, and there's nothing else left to do at 3-11, Haskins is the most important piece. It's incredibly hard for an NFL franchise to consistently win without a stud quarterback, and while Haskins has immense potential, Sunday marked the first time he showed it for a full game. 

The Redskins need a star Haskins to win in 2020, or beyond. And they might need a stud Haskins to even recruit a new head coach or football boss. 

This team has warts, plenty of them, and that could scare off the best coaching and personnel candidates for next year. But if those same people believe that there is a QB in place in Washington, the warts get easier to ignore. 

It also doesn't hurt that the Redskins helped their 2020 draft position with Sunday's loss. The team is now tied with Miami and the Giants for the second-worst record in the NFL, and be honest, Ohio State's Chase Young could be a game-changer with the second overall pick. Next Sunday's contest against the Giants will go a long way in determining that final order.

The bottom line?

2019 is all about Haskins' development, and on Sunday, Haskins took his biggest steps yet. That's far more important than another loss, albeit grueling, in a season full of them. 

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Simms' 11 points lifts VCU over Missouri St.

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Simms' 11 points lifts VCU over Missouri St.

RICHMOND, Va. -- Mike'L Simms had 11 points as VCU extended its home win streak to eight games, beating Missouri State 61-51 on Sunday night.

De'Riante Jenkins had 10 points for VCU (8-2).

After VCU outscored Missouri State 35-25 in the first half, both teams scored 26 in the second as the home team clinched the victory. The Rams' 26 second-half points marked a season low for the team.

Isiaih Mosley had 15 points for the Bears (6-6). Keandre Cook added 12 points. Gaige Prim had 10 points.

VCU takes on College of Charleston on the road on Wednesday. Missouri State matches up against Oral Roberts on the road on Saturday.

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