Capitals

Sunday's Sports In Brief

Sunday's Sports In Brief

PRO BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni late Sunday night, signing the former coach of the Suns and Knicks to replace Mike Brown.

The Lakers and D'Antoni's agent, Warren LeGarie, confirmed the deal two days after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.

D'Antoni agreed to a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth season.

D'Antoni got the high-profile job running the 16-time NBA champions only after the club's negotiations broke down with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Kansas State and Oregon are now on course to play for the BCS national championship.

After Alabama was upset by Texas A&M, the new BCS standings have the Wildcats (.9674) first and the Ducks (.9497) second.

Notre Dame (.9396) is third, not too far behind, but most likely in need of a loss by Oregon or Kansas State to reach the title game on Jan. 7 in Miami.

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - Washington State President Elson Floyd has called for a review of claims of abusive behavior by coach Mike Leach and his staff toward players by wide receiver Marquess Wilson.

The decision by Floyd comes one day after Wilson quit the team. Wilson says he left the program because of the actions of Leach and his staff. Wilson says the new staff has ``preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us,'' and that included physical abuse.

Floyd said in a statement Sunday morning that after consultation with Athletic Director Bill Moos, he asked the athletic department to report findings and conclusions as soon as possible. Floyd says reviews from both the Pac-12 and the athletic department ``should get to the bottom of the matter.''

GOLF

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Charlie Beljan had no reason to panic Sunday. His wild week at Disney ended with a comfortable lead and his first PGA Tour victory.

Beljan, who felt as if he was going to die Friday from a panic attack that sent him to the hospital, ran off four straight birdies around the turn and built a five-shot lead on the back nine. He closed with a bogey for a 3-under 69 and a two-shot win in the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

The 28-year-old rookie threw his putter and repeatedly pumped his fists. He was in danger of losing his card in the final event of the year, and now has a two-year exemption.

Tim Herron was the other winner, closing with a 69 to barely move into the top 125.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) - Cristie Kerr won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational for her first LPGA Tour victory in more than two years, and Stacy Lewis tied for fourth to wrap up the player of the year award.

Kerr parred the final three holes at Guadalajara Country Club to hold off Angela Stanford and third-round leader Inbee Park by a stroke.

The 35-year-old American finished at 16-under 272 for her 15th LPGA Tour title and first since the LPGA Championship in June 2010.

She holed a 4-foot par putt on No. 18 for the victory.

AUTO RACING

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) - When the fighting stopped, the oil had dried and the last of the wrecked cars had been towed away, Brad Keselowski found himself on the brink of a first Sprint Cup title for himself and team owner Roger Penske.

Only he wasn't in a celebratory mood.

He entered the race at Phoenix International Raceway trailing five-time champion Jimmie Johnson by seven points and had the better car all day. And moments after Keselowski raced his way into the lead, a blown tire caused Johnson to crash and take his battered car to the garage for repairs.

It helped Keselowski, who finished sixth, to a 20-point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he'll clinch the title with a finish of 15th or better.

POMONA, Calif. (AP) - Antron Brown became the first black champion in any NHRA pro series when he won the Top Fuel title at the season-ending event.

Brown suffered minor burns to his hands when his engine popped in an opening-round loss during eliminations, then had to wait to celebrate his victory until the final, when teammate Tony Schumacher lost in a photo finish to Brandon Bernstein.

Brown led Schumacher, a seven-time champion, by 67 points at the start of Sunday's eliminations. It looked as if Schumacher might take the title until he lost the final to Bernstein by eighth-thousandths of a second.

When the win light went on in Bernstein's lane, Brown was mobbed by his teammates, family and friends in a huge celebration at the starting line.

TENNIS

LONDON (AP) - As usual, Roger Federer is looking to add to one of his many records. And as many expected, Novak Djokovic will be trying to stop him.

The top two players in the world advanced to the championship match at the ATP finals, each looking beatable early before turning things around.

Federer, a six-time champion at the season-ending event, advanced by beating U.S. Open champion Andy Murray 7-6 (5), 6-2. The top-ranked Djokovic defeated Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

NHL

NEW YORK (AP) - As quickly as NHL labor negotiations got going again, they came to a screeching halt. Now there is no telling when the league and the players will return to the bargaining table.

After a one-day break following a series of formal discussions this week, the sides got back to business on Sunday. Less than 90 minutes after talks solely about player-contract issues started, they were over.

The players contend the NHL has dug in on its position and is not willing to negotiate.

Quick Links

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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