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Rutgers looks to cap season with bowl victory

Rutgers looks to cap season with bowl victory

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers accomplished one major goal this season, earning a share of the Big East title for the first time in school history.

Though a 20-17 loss to Louisville in the finale dashed the Scarlet Knights' hopes for the program's first BCS berth, the consolation prize of the Russell Athletic Bowl presents coach Kyle Flood and his players with an opportunity to add another accomplishment.

A victory over Virginia Tech on Friday would clinch a 10-win season, just the third since the program was credited with playing the first college football game against Princeton in 1869. It would also mark Rutgers' sixth straight bowl win dating to 2006.

``You got to move forward in life,'' Flood said. ``That (Louisville) game happened and we're not happy about it, but it happened. And now that's in the past. That game is a part of history and it is what it is. Now we move forward and we try to make more history. We have tremendous goals left for us to accomplish, and that's really where our focus is.''

The Scarlet Knights (9-3) lost their last two games, but they're still playing in the most prestigious postseason game in school history.

``The game on Friday, for me, is going to mean everything,'' said Khaseem Greene, a fifth-year senior linebacker who earlier this month earned AP All-America third-team honors. ``It is going to be a legacy, another chapter for me being closed and another chapter for this program, this family, being closed. It will definitely set us apart from everybody. It's going to determine if we're a good team or a great team.''

For Flood, it marks his first bowl game as head coach. He served as an assistant in Rutgers' six bowl games under his predecessor, Greg Schiano. Flood took over after Schiano left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in late January.

With a win over the Hokies, Flood would become the only first-year coach to win 10 games in Rutgers history. Virginia Tech (6-6) is playing in its 20th straight bowl game.

There's a chance the Russell Athletic Bowl will be Rutgers' final game as a member of the Big East. The Scarlet Knights announced their plans to defect from the conference - of which they have been a member since 1991 - to join the Big Ten on Nov. 20. And while school officials are targeting 2014 as the arrival date, other developments could expedite Rutgers' departure.

If the Knights do remain in the Big East for the 2013 season, they should be one of top contenders to win the league's BCS bid in its final season as an automatic-qualifying conference. Rutgers graduates several defensive mainstays - including Greene, the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year - but could welcome back as many as 14 starters, including sophomore quarterback Gary Nova, leading rusher Jawan Jamison and leading receiver Brandon Coleman.

A victory this week in Orlando could set the tone for an important offseason.

``That will send the seniors off the right way and get the younger guys and guys in recruiting, just send a good vibe for next year,'' said Nova, who has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,566 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. ``We've got a lot of talent coming back.''

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NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

After signing Markieff Morris to a contract following the former Wizard's buy out from the Pistons, the Lakers reportedly waived center DeMarcus Cousins to open a roster spot. 

Health has been a major issue over the last two years for Cousins. He hasn't played a game this year thanks to a torn ACL he suffered before the season, and he missed all but 30 games last year due to an Achilles injury he suffered with the Pelicans midway through the 2017-18 season. 

Before injuries robbed Cousins of the majority of his prime, he was arguably the best big man in the game. Prior to his Achilles injury in New Orleans, he was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 47% percent from the floor and 35.4% from three on 6.1 attempts per game. 

For the Wizards, Cousins could represent another low risk, high reward big man acquisition that the Lakers couldn't find any use for. Washington acquired both Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner from LA for practically nothing and both have played well after their relocation to D.C. 

Also, John Wall played with Cousins at the University of Kentucky and both have mentioned a desire to play together again at some point. Neither player is expected to return from injury this season, so they could both go on an NBA revenge tour together alongside Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura. 

In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see what Cousins decides to do. According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, Cousins won't officially be waived until Sunday. The team who claims him will be able to offer him up to $4.2 million in salary this summer. 

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Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Baseball isn’t quite in full swing yet. But it’s close enough. 

The Orioles will open up their spring slate of games on Saturday against the Braves in North Port, Fla. It’s both the first game of spring training for both teams. 

The game can be listened to on Orioles.com or on the MLB At-Bat app. 

So here are three things to pay attention to during the first game of the spring: 

1. The starting pitching

The pitching was, to be frank, atrocious last season for the Orioles. 2020 doesn’t figure to showcase a large jump, either. 

Baltimore will start Chandler Shepherd against the Braves, a pitcher who started three games last season in Baltimore. He allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 19 innings pitched and posted a 6.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Ty Blach will pitch in relief of Shepherd. Blach pitched in five games last season for the Orioles and threw 20 ⅓ innings with an ERA 11.32. 

While neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, it’ll give an interesting look at what could be in store for the rest of spring training in Sarasota. 

2. How much the prospects play

For most major league clubs, there’s not much to get excited about for the first few games of spring training. The Orioles, though, are in a bit of a unique circumstance. 

In the second year of a rebuild, the Orioles are placing their future in the hands of younger prospects, meaning there’s always a chance for a few players to stand out in the first weeks of camp. 

While the lineups aren’t known yet, both for Saturday’s game and for the immediate future, getting a glimpse at some of the younger prospects like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall is what fans have been clamoring for. 

3. The return of baseball

It’s not the return of baseball in the truest sense of the phrase.  

The Orioles aren’t going to play their top of the line prospects, or their major league club. But the first game of the spring means that baseball, officially, is back for Baltimore. 

Even though the 2020 season almost assuredly won’t be one that resembles any kind of contention, the Orioles hitting the field once again is always an exciting time.

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