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SMU good fit for Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown

SMU good fit for Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown

DALLAS (AP) Larry Brown was a young assistant on coach Dean Smith's staff at North Carolina in the mid-1960s when he turned down his first head coaching offer.

At the time, Brown didn't think he was ready. But Smith asked him where he'd like to coach one day.

``I said, of course North Carolina, but I didn't ever want to see him step down,'' Brown recalled. ``So I said Stanford, Northwestern, Princeton and Vanderbilt. ... Great academically and great conferences and great areas to live.''

A record nine NBA jobs later, and a quarter century after leading Kansas to an NCAA title, the 72-year-old Brown found that kind of fit in his return to coaching this season at SMU.

``We don't have the tradition of Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA,'' said Brown, whose Mustangs are off to a 9-4 start. ``But I don't think we'll shortchange a kid in terms of getting an education and coaching them up and giving them a chance to be successful.''

For anyone who thought the Hall of Fame coach went to SMU as a figurehead for a struggling program with a pending move to the ever-changing Big East Conference, it quickly becomes clear why he's back in the game.

``The only reason I took a job is because I love to coach and teach, and this school afforded me this opportunity,'' he said.

Brown had to be told during early games to stay in the coaching box. He holds out his hands questioning a non-call by a referee, tries to prompt his team to run its play at the right pace and chides a player for hanging on the rim after a dunk.

During practice, Brown gets right in the middle of his post players to demonstrate what he wants them to do. He swishes a shot to start a drill, then moves up and down the court, waving his hands to direct the action.

``We all thought that he may come in, be like the GM figure. ... That's so wrong,'' SMU junior guard Nick Russell said. ``He's in practice, and he's screaming, and he's running and he's dribbling and shooting hook shots. He's doing it all. He's involved and his presence is felt day in and day out.''

Brown was hired in April to replace the fired Matt Doherty, who went 80-109 in six seasons. Brown left the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats in December 2010.

While home in the Philadelphia area with his wife and two high school-age kids, Brown spent many days at Villanova games and practices with coach Jay Wright. Brown also visited friends like Kansas coach Bill Self, Kentucky's John Calipari and Maryland's Mark Turgeon, but stayed away from NBA arenas.

``He's a piece of work,'' Wright said. ``I do miss him, but I know how happy he is down there.''

Tim Jankovich was Illinois State's head coach the past five seasons after working on Self's staff. He had one of his best Redbirds teams coming back this season, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with Brown, a coach he has always followed and studied.

``What's struck me is the amount of energy that he has,'' said Jankovich, SMU's associate head coach and Brown's expected successor. ``His energy is that of someone 20 years younger. ... He's still passionate about the game.''

The Mustangs' last NCAA tournament was in 1993. Their last NCAA victory was 1988, the same season Brown won the title at Kansas.

In a tight concourse at Moody Coliseum, which is undergoing a massive $47 million renovation, there is a case with some of the Mustangs' old trophies. The 1993 Southwest Conference championship trophy is near one recognizing a 1957 league title and another from 1935. There is a folded-up jersey once worn by 7-foot center Jon Koncak.

After his first SMU practice, Brown told players he was going to ``pray that we win a game.'' He seriously asked them to do the same.

``He was like, `Ah, this is terrible.' ... It was our first time playing against one another,'' said junior forward Shawn Williams, chuckling at the memory. ``I expected a little rust, but I think with him being around NBA guys, it was a little different.''

Self, who attended Brown's SMU introduction along with Doherty, stays in touch with Brown and remembers a call he got last month after a difficult Jayhawks victory.

``He told me how good we're doing, and I said, `Are you watching the same stuff I watched?' Which goes totally against how he used to be,'' Self said. ``Because if he's talking about his own team, they're always awful.''

Brown seems to like his team now - and the players waiting for next season.

Three transfers get to practice while having to sit out this year, including players from Villanova and Illinois State. A top-notch junior college player and two Chicago-area high school standouts have signed letters of intent for next season.

Brown admittedly isn't crazy about recruiting, and there have also been a lot of changes in the college game since he was at UCLA (1979-81) and Kansas (1983-88).

``It's become four different professions in the time I've been in it, it changes so much,'' said Jankovich, in his 30th season coaching. ``I sometimes try to see it through his eyes, and I'm like, `You must think you're on Mars sometimes.' ... But he's very bright, and he's a fast learner, and he's very observant.''

Many young players know little about Brown, the only coach to win NBA and NCAA titles. Some do connect him when reminded of Allen Iverson's famous rant about practice while playing for Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers.

When Brown was recently watching some high school games in Beaumont, Texas, some seventh- and eighth-graders sitting nearby were trying to figure out what SMU was.

``There's a big hill to climb,'' Brown said. ``It's a little different when you're at North Carolina and UCLA and Kansas. You walk into a home where you see a kid, maybe they recognize your program based on the tradition and the excellence and stuff like that. ... That being said, I know in my heart we're going to be like those other programs. I really believe that.''

Brown, in his 14th job and with a reputation for impressive turnarounds and often messy or quick departures, also knows the inevitable question: How long will he be at SMU?

Jankovich gets asked that and doesn't know the answer - and figures Brown probably doesn't, either.

``Other people bring it up about how long I'm going to stay, and it's based on my age and based on my track record,'' Brown said. ``It's a question I should have to answer because I have moved, and I don't know if any Division I head coach is older than me.''

There is. Jackson State's Tevester Anderson is 75.

As for how long he will keep coaching this time, Brown said he always wants to be doing something in basketball.

``Nobody has had a background like me. Not only the people I played for or worked for, it's the people who worked with or the people I coached,'' Brown said. ``Why not share what they taught me?

``I don't look at mirrors or celebrate birthdays,'' he said. ``Otherwise, I feel exactly like I did when I was coach's assistant at North Carolina.''

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Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

ATLANTA -- For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.

The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.

Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.

The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.

Peter Moylan, Atlanta's eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns' sacrifice.

With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles' bullpen in left.

Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged "you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them."

Machado said an intentional walk "crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield."

Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was "supposed to be middle in." Moylan said the pitch "slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle."

Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.

Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore's seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.

The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.

Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.

Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.

Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.

Ozzie Albies' bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman's two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.

Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.

Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings

The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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