Redskins

St. John's beats DePaul 79-74 in OT

St. John's beats DePaul 79-74 in OT

NEW YORK (AP) St. John's is in third place in the Big East Conference. No comments about the teams the Red Storm beat during their current five-game winning streak. Don't bring up how early in the season it is, either. They are doing some impressive things considering they are one of the youngest teams in the country.

The latest win was a 79-74 overtime decision against DePaul on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena. It was the sixth Big East victory for the Red Storm (14-7, 6-3), matching last season's total.

``We have a lot of momentum and, so what teams are doubting us because most of the wins were against the bottom half?'' said D'Angelo Harrison, who had 17 points for the Red Storm. ``We're going to come in ready to fight at Georgetown so they better be ready, too.''

The streak started with a win over then-No. 20 Notre Dame. Then came wins over DePaul, Rutgers and Seton Hall before DePaul lost to the Red Storm for a second time.

St. John's plays Georgetown on Saturday and then faces Connecticut at Madison Square Garden followed by road games with No. 6 Syracuse and No. 12 Louisville, the teams ahead of the Red Storm in the standings.

``Third place is big for us after people picked us 12th in the preseason,'' freshman JaKarr Sampson said.

Sampson is ready for the next four games.

``I feel like we're ready. I'm ready,'' he said. ``This is why I came to St. John's, to play big-time games like Louisville and Syracuse. We want to compete with those teams.''

St. John's coach Steve Lavin was asked if the upcoming stretch of games would let everybody know how good his team is.

``After three years in this league as a coach I found you just can't look for any universal truths out of a stretch of four or five games,'' he said. ``Just keep coaching and stay on the path of improvement until we see how things finish. You have to wait for the body of work.''

The Red Storm looked to be in trouble late against the Blue Demons, especially since Harrison had fouled out with 3:45 to play in regulation.

St. John's managed to tie it late in regulation and then controlled the overtime behind Sampson, who scored six of his 13 points in the extra 5 minutes.

``You feel helpless,'' Harrison, the Big East's second-leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, said of sitting on the bench for the game's last 8:45. ``I have faith in my teammates and they have faith in me. It was a grind-it-out game and we grinded.''

Brandon Young had 21 points for the Blue Demons (10-10, 1-6), who have lost five straight and seven of eight overall. They have lost eight in a row to St. John's.

``We've won a lot of games in the last 6 minutes. And we lost this one in the last 6 minutes,'' DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. ``We had two 6-minute periods of time where there was 6 minutes left in the game and the score was tied, and there was a 5-minute overtime and the score is tied. Clearly, we did one of the three things we needed to do to win a 6-minute game very well and that was shoot free throws (18 of 20). We didn't take care of the ball a couple times and we didn't rebound defensively a couple times when we really needed to.''

Sampson's rebound basket with 1:49 left in overtime gave the Red Storm the lead for good at 75-74. Young missed a foul line jumper and, as Sir'Dominic Pointer went in for a layup, Young fouled him hard and a flagrant 1 was called. Pointer made both free throws - the Red Storm went 4 for 10 from the line in overtime - and even though St. John's didn't score on the ensuing possession, Sampson went 2 for 4 from the line to seal the win.

``I thought it was (a flagrant foul) right away but I think it looked worse than it was,'' Pointer said. ``They made the call.''

Jamal Branch made two free throws for St. John's with 1:18 left in regulation to tie it at 69. DePaul was called for offensive goaltending on its next possession. Sampson missed a jumper for the Red Storm and Young missed a 3-point attempt with 15 seconds left.

After a scramble near midcourt fouling the inbounds, Sampson missed a shot from down low at the buzzer. A foul was called against DePaul but the officials went to the monitor and ruled the foul came after the buzzer.

Phil Greene had 13 points for St. John's and Pointer had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Cleveland Melvin had 10 points and 13 rebounds for DePaul, which finished with a 52-39 advantage on the boards.

DePaul finished the first half with a 28-15 edge on the boards - 12-4 on the offensive end - although St. John's led 38-31, the largest lead for either team to that point.

St. John's freshman Chris Obekpa, who leads the nation in blocked shots at 4.6 per game, had five to give him 96 for the season.

``Obekpa is such a good shot blocker,'' Purnell said. ``When he was in the game, he really changed some things. There's no question about it, St. John's really defended the rim pretty well. And they did at the end of the game. As well as we rebounded, we didn't come up with the critical rebounds we needed in overtime.''

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Running back is one position where things could look very different for the 2020 Redskins

Running back is one position where things could look very different for the 2020 Redskins

Not much has gone to plan for the 2019 Redskins. Congratulations, you won't read a more obvious thing all day.

Running back is one such spot on the team where the preseason expectations haven't been met. A surprise benching in Week 1, injuries and inconsistent production have plagued what was supposed to be one of the most stacked positions on the roster.

Because of those issues, there may be a lot of RB turnover this offseason, leading to what could be a different-looking depth chart in 2020.

The main reason for that possible shuffling is Derrius Guice's unfortunate health problems. Guice has actually been placed on injured reserve twice since Week 1, with the second trip to I.R. ending his year. If you count exhibition contests, he's suited up for the Burgundy and Gold seven times as a pro and has had to leave three of those contests with knee injuries.

There was so much hope that Guice would be able to prove himself this time around and convince the Redskins he could be their go-to option for the future, and when he dominated the Panthers for 129 yards and two scores, his long-discussed talent and potential popped.

But with a torn ACL, a torn meniscus and a sprained MCL already in the NFL, the franchise can't move forward with him as their surefire No. 1 back. This was the season where he could've seized the job, yet instead, indications are he'll need to be grouped together with other pieces.

Elsewhere in the backfield, Chris Thompson very well could be playing in his last three games for Washington. The 29-year-old is incredibly helpful in a lot of ways, but he, too, has difficulty staying on the field. After seven campaigns with the organization, it might be time for both sides to move on.

Then there's Bryce Love, the team's fourth-rounder who's essentially been redshirted as a rookie. The Stanford product has to show that he can recover from his own knee struggles — he had another surgery on it in late October — but he's got a lot of speed and should be more than ready to be a factor in 2020.

Oddly enough, Adrian Peterson has yet again been the steadiest running back for the Redskins. After Jay Gruden's decision to sit him for the opener, the 34-year-old has rebounded and shown he still can be a valuable asset. He's under contract and seems like a logical choice to keep in town for one more season. 

So, when added all together, the team has quite a few questions at running back. They've got to decide whom to trust out of a crop that includes someone who's super-skilled but often dinged up, a mainstay who could be on his way out, a totally unproven draft selection and an aging but still useful veteran, while also considering possibly acquiring other bodies.

Coming into 2019, RB looked like an area of strength for the Redskins. Now, nearing the end of 2019, it appears to be an area of mystery.

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All eyes turn to Anthony Rendon at the Winter Meetings after Gerrit Cole signs

All eyes turn to Anthony Rendon at the Winter Meetings after Gerrit Cole signs

SAN DIEGO -- News of Gerrit Cole’s gargantuan contract swept through the Winter Meetings late Tuesday night. A bustling lobby temporarily stalled as everyone looked at their phones then each other. It was true. Cole signed for $325 million to play in New York. 

Which means the third -- and for all intents and purposes final -- day of the meetings will focus on Anthony Rendon. He is now the premier player available in the free agent market. Cole and Stephen Strasburg signed. Rendon should be next.

Much of Tuesday before the Cole news revolved around Rendon. Agent Scott Boras stood atop a Pelican case -- a hard box used to protect television cameras -- in front of a Boras Corp. standing backdrop. There was symmetry between Boras on the box and what it usually holds. He’s naturally drawn to camera equipment.

There, ringed by reporters who largely couldn’t hear or just watched the spectacle, Boras spoke in generalizations about Rendon’s status. Yes, several teams have inquired about Rendon. Yes, seven years is the marker for a contract. Yes, negotiations are ongoing.

Where are the Nationals in this? That is more difficult to pin down. Rendon remains a curious challenge to read in the offseason. He made jokes at the World Series about not wanting to play until he was 35. He turns 30 years old next season. Does nostalgia have pull for him, either in Washington or back in Texas? Is it simply about money?

Asked about Nationals’ managing principal owner Mark Lerner saying the team could only afford Strasburg or Rendon, Boras moved to what has become the Deferred Money Defense. Around $80 million of Strasburg’s $245 million will be put off until after his contract ends. Boras contends wiggle room now exists for the Nationals. Reminder: it’s also his job to drive the market.

“I think Mark’s comments were before the Strasburg negotiations were complete,” Boras said. “And that contract structure that Stephen did allowed certainly an opening and a consideration that probably the Nationals were available to them in their decision making. So I think it’s something that clearly opens doors for them. And when you look at their payroll structure, and the amount of money they have in the $60-$70 million range with their payroll, I think they can sign not only an Anthony Rendon but many players.”

Mike Rizzo was slightly dismissive of Boras’ take when talking to reporters inside his hotel room suite. He’s often taken the position they know Rendon better than anyone, so the amount of times both sides converse is a bit overrated.

“We’ve had conversations about Anthony throughout the process,” Rizzo said. “I don’t get my daily update from Scott, but we’re in communication, and I don’t sense anything is imminent at this point. But that was a while ago, so you never know.”

Read that back. Rizzo talked about Rendon throughout, dropped a dig at Boras, stated nothing is imminent, then countered that claim by saying “you never know.” The last time he said no movement was imminent came almost a year ago. He traded Tanner Roark a couple hours later.

Rizzo is checking on trades, Josh Donaldson and piecemeal as possible Rendon alternatives. There is no equivalent player remaining on the market. So, a transaction involving him is now imminent, to borrow a word. It’s just a question of where.

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