Sooners return to old field house for exhibition

Sooners return to old field house for exhibition

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma's old McCasland Field House wasn't quite the way Alvan Adams remembered it. Just the chance to see another basketball game played in the gym where he starred was a unique opportunity.

The Sooners beat Central Oklahoma 94-66 on Wednesday night in an exhibition at the gym they called home from 1928 to 1975.

McCasland's close coincided with the end of Adams' superlative career, and he had a career-high 43 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in what had been the final game ever to be played in the building on March 5, 1975. After that, he left early for the NBA draft, where he was selected fourth overall by the Phoenix Suns.

``I was glad they hadn't torn it down, and they were able to use it for this exhibition game,'' said Adams, who was honored at halftime, along with a dozen other Sooners who played during the Field House's final years in the 1970s.

Adams said he visited McCasland a while back and found wrestling mats inside. It remains the home of the Sooners' wrestling and women's volleyball teams, and some gymnastics meets are held inside the red brick building that sits on campus just north of the football stadium.

The Lloyd Noble Center, down the street and south of the main campus, became the basketball program's new home after Adams left in 1975. But the athletic department decided to hold two games - a regular-season contest against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 31 will be played there - after a new roof, locker rooms, restrooms and other updates were completed this summer.

Naturally, it was a different experience than when Adams played. He said he was trying to think in the first half about how the backboards used to be hung permanently on the wall, instead of the portable stanchions that are used in modern times.

There was no ``Alvan's Army'' cheering section for him in the south stands, the players wore shorts that reached beyond their knees and there was a 3-point line on the court. Even that was different - the basketball lines were temporarily drawn on the volleyball court.

``I loved coming over here to wrestling and gymnastics and going to baseball games and of course, the football. That's one of the reasons I came here,'' said Adams, noting he met quarterback Steve Owens while being recruited.

Second-year Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger visited McCasland twice as an opponent, leading Kansas State to an 80-71 victory in 1972 with 18 points and nine rebounds. He sat out a 1973 game in the Field House because of an injury.

``It is a lot different. Of course, my perspective's a little bit different, too,'' Kruger said. ``At that point, everything looked loud and it was.''

Attendance was 2,880 - few enough to get lost in the Lloyd Noble Center, which holds four times that many but a good-sized crowd for McCasland. And with the seats much closer to the court, it made for a noisy atmosphere.

``It's very packed and everybody's around us and we can hear everything,'' forward Amath M'Baye said. ``It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad the crowd showed up. That's something I'd like to do again.''

Kruger said the Sooners would like to play a couple games a year at McCasland. For Adams, even the opponent proved nostalgic. When he was just starting to play the game in seventh and eighth grade, Adams said he used to watch games at Central State College - which later changed its name to Central Oklahoma.

``To me, that was the big time. We didn't drive down to Norman to games. I watched a few professional playoff games on TV but that was a different world of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell,'' Adams said. ``But going to Central State and seeing Mike Mims play, I'd go: `I'd like to do that someday. Mom, can I come play where you're teaching?'''

The reverse was true for Bronchos coach Terry Evans, a former Sooners guard whose father, Eddie, was among the former Oklahoma players honored at halftime.

``We wanted to play Oklahoma. It didn't matter where we played them,'' Terry Evans said. ``I guess be careful what you ask for sometimes.

``But it was great. It was a great atmosphere. Sometimes a game like this, when you know you're not going to get a gym full, it's good to play it here. It's a great atmosphere. I know it meant a lot to some of the older people that used to watch games here and play.''

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Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

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Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career against the Braves Thursday night, going 3-3 at the plate with two singles and a 420-foot three-run bomb. 

He didn't just set personal records but reached rare air in baseball history. He's the second pitcher ever with at least three hits, a HR, and five RBI since the DH debuted in 1973 and the fifth pitcher in the last 50 seasons to get two hits in an inning including a home run. 

Strasburg set franchise firsts with his performance, dating all the way back to the Expos. 

An extraordinary milestone for the Nationals' ace, hopefully Strasburg's performance will inspire the team during a crucial four-game series with Atlanta. 


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‘The Redskins love Alabama guys’: Washington could run old draft playbook in 2020 to fill huge need

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‘The Redskins love Alabama guys’: Washington could run old draft playbook in 2020 to fill huge need

Perhaps no position group on the Redskins has more questions or uncertainty than the wide receivers.

Josh Doctson enters the final year of his rookie contract, and has yet to record over 550 yards in any of his three professional seasons. Washington signed Paul Richardson to a five-year deal in 2018, but he just played in just seven games for the Burgundy and Gold in 2018 before having season-ending shoulder surgery. Second-year receiver Trey Quinn is expected to fill the role in the slot after Jamison Crowder departed for the New York Jets this offseason but has yet to prove anything on the NFL level. 

The Redskins addressed the position during the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting Terry McLaurin in the third round and Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round. But it's unclear how much either one will contribute to the Washington offense in 2019.

So, it's likely the Redskins will need to address the position during the 2020 NFL Draft, and probably very early on it. Well, this works in Washington's favor, because the 2020 wide receiver class is loaded. 

On a recent episode of the Redskins Talk podcast, J.P. Finlay and Pete Hailey spoke with NFL Draft expert Jordan Reid (no, not the Redskins' tight end) about the top wide receiver prospects heading into next year's draft, and which players the Redskins could potentially target.

Before diving into the top 2020 prospects, Reid gave an initial assessment of the current Redskins' receivers.

"The Redskins just don't have that headliner, top go-to guy," Reid said. "They were expecting Josh Doctson to be that when they did draft him in the first round of 2016. But he's had some injuries, and he's already come out and said he's looking forward to free agency. That just not something you want to hear."

Reid was high on McLaurin, though, the first receiver the Redskins selected in 2019.

"They drafted Terry McLaurin in the third round, I liked him a lot even going back to the Senior Bowl," he said. "I think he's going to have a really good year, not just as a receiver but the special teams phase as well. He's going to flash in a lot of ways."

As far as the 2020 draft wide receiver class, one school stands on top, and it's a school the Redskins are very familiar with: Alabama. The Redskins used their first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 on 'Bama guys and signed another Crimson Tide alumni this offseason in safety Landon Collins.

"We know the Redskins love Alabama guys, and there's a lot of [wide receivers] coming out this year," Reid said. "It's not just Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs is another guy that's getting a lot of steam. They're going to have the chance to get the receiver they want. This is a very special wide receiver class."

Crimson Tide receiver Jerry Jeudy is the consensus top receiver in next year's class, but Reid believes his speedy teammate could challenge him for that spot by season's end.

"With Ruggs, I think he's a bit more as far as polished a route runner [than Jeudy]," he said. "I think his hands are a bit better, and I wouldn't be shocked if he runs below a 4.3 at the combine. He can absolutely fly."

If the pair of Alabama receivers currently hold the top two spots for best wide receiver prospect, there's another guy who's right on their heels: Oklahoma's Ceedee Lamb.

"He reminds me a lot of DeAndre Hopkins coming out," Reid said on Lamb. "He's not a thick guy, but he plays much stronger than what he indicates. Very reliable hands, and his body control is out of this world. He had a one-handed catch against UCLA, it didn't count, but it's truly amazing."

As a true sophomore, Lamb totaled 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018. Sure, it may have helped to have Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray under center, but Lamb has proven he's an elite talent.

Two other prospects Reid is keeping an eye on are Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. and Texas' Collin Johnson.

"He's not as polished as some of these other guys, but he's more of a do-it-all type of receiver," Reid said on Shenault Jr. 

Where Shenault may be a do-it-all receiver, Johnson plays to his 6'6 size.

"He's a really good route runner," Reid said on Johnson. "It's just a matter of how consistently can he separate, and how fast he is. If he goes to the Senior Bowl, I think he can light it up."

While many of these guys seem like sure-fire guys, there's still a full season of football to be played before the draft. Players will rise, but just as many, if not more, will fall off.

"You just have to let this play out, that's what happens with the draft process," Reid said. "Guys fall off, and then you have guys that come out of nowhere. Quinton Williams from last year is a prime example. He was a 270-pound defensive end at this time last year; we had no idea who he was and he ends up being the No. 3 overall selection."

But if everything plays out close to how it's expected to, this wide receiver draft class will be one to remember. 

"This class is special man," Reid said. "I think it's going to rival 2014, with Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and all those guys, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams too. It's going to be very similar to that. It's very special."