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Streaking Navy hosts skidding Florida Atlantic

Streaking Navy hosts skidding Florida Atlantic

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) First-year Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelinia views Navy's football program as a model for what he wants to build in Boca Raton.

``Navy embodies so much of what I believe in,'' Pelini said. ``The discipline, structure, character, leadership - those all the type of traits I am trying to instill in our players.''

Pelini and the Owls will get a firsthand look at the Midshipmen on Saturday when the teams meet for the first time. Navy (5-3) has won four in a row and can become bowl eligible with a win over Florida Atlantic (2-6).

Pelini wants to turn Florida Atlantic's program around the way Navy has been able to do.

Navy underwent a culture change in 2002.

Paul Johnson took over as head coach of a program that had compiled a 1-20 record the previous two seasons. One year later, the Midshipmen went 8-5 and made their first bowl appearance since 1996. That began a string of eight straight winning seasons capped by bowl berths.

Johnson left Navy for Georgia Tech and turned the head coaching reins over to top assistant Ken Niumatalolo, who directed the Midshipmen to three winning seasons before the streak ended last year.

``I have a lot of respect for what Navy has been able to accomplish. That has been one of the most consistent programs in the country,'' said Pelini, who came to Florida Atlantic after serving as defensive coordinator at Nebraska under younger brother Bo Pelini.

To pull off an upset, Florida Atlantic must stop Navy's triple-option offense. Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds has been outstanding since taking control of an attack that ranks sixth nationally in rushing offense (271.1 yards per game).

Senior slotback Gee Gee Greene has been the most dangerous weapon for Navy with team-highs of 511 yards rushing and 203 yards receiving. Reynolds, who can become the first Navy quarterback since Bob Powers (1979) to win his first four career starts, has completed 64 percent of passes for 413 yards and six touchdowns.

``This is a huge litmus test for our defense. Do we have the discipline and focus to face an offense like this for down after down,'' Pelini said. ``It's a unique challenge for us because you need to have your eyes in the right place, read your keys and play your assignment. Those are all things, quite frankly, that we've been struggling with this season.''

Stopping opponents has been an issue for Florida Atlantic, which is allowing an average of 31.1 points and 413 total yards. The Owls haven't been much better on the other side of the ball, ranking 103rd out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in total offense (325.1 yards) and 111th in scoring offense (18.4 points).

Graham Wilbert has thrown for 1,570 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead Florida Atlantic, which usually operates out of a shotgun formation with one setback and either three wide receivers or two tight ends.

``They do a good job of using a lot of formations and spreading you out,'' Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. ``The quarterback has good size, a strong arm and can really throw the ball. Their wide receivers have beaten everybody deep, but what has really impressed me is that they have big tight ends that can really run. They are like oversized wide receivers that get downfield and can make tough catches.''

Niumatalolo is tied with predecessor Paul Johnson for most wins in the first five seasons as head coach at Navy. A victory Saturday would be No. 38 for Niumatalolo, who would move into a fourth place tie with Wayne Hardin (1959-1964) on the school's career list. Niumatalolo is more concerned with the Midshipmen earning their sixth win to earn a berth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29.

``Obviously, that would be monumental for us. That would enable us to accomplish one of our goals,'' Niumatalolo said. ``Two of our main goals are capturing the Commander-in-Chief and winning a bowl game.''

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

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USA Today Sports

Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

Friday featured Dmitry Orlov and his jam-packed schedule with the coveted Stanley Cup.

The 27-year-old native of Russia decided to take the Cup to Novokuznetsk (located in the southwest region of Siberia) for a meet and greet with fans by the Ferris wheel at Gagarin City Park.

It should be mentioned that Orlov's day with the trophy was nearly derailed after a travel glitch that sent the Cup to Novosibirsk instead of his hometown. 

Thanks to the ultimate assist from a helicopter, the Cup arrived in style and set up one memorable entrance for the defenseman. 

Orlov released this hype video which highlights his entire day on Instagram: 

Дорогие друзья! Огромное спасибо, что разделили с нами наш праздник! Для нас это значимое и большое событие! Ещё раз приносим искренние извинения за задержку с кубком! И спасибо за понимание, мы старались сделать все максимально быстро! Спасибо за тёплый приём! Нашим родным, друзьям, тренерам, отдельная благодарность! Вы сделали наш праздник, наш день! Мы никогда не забудем этот праздник! P.S. Лена @govor_elena , тебе и твоим родным, отдельная благодарность, если бы не ваша помощь, то не известно когда бы кубок был в Новокузнецке!

A post shared by Dmitry Orlov (@orlov_09) on

Talk about a banner weekend for the Washington Capitals. The Ovechkins welcomed their new son, Sergei Aleksandrovich, into the world and Orlov pulled off yet another spectacular day with the Cup.

 

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