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Syracuse's Jim Boeheim 1 away from 900 wins

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Syracuse's Jim Boeheim 1 away from 900 wins

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Jim Boeheim has experienced a lot since the dawn of the new century - prostate surgery, a national championship, induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a pair of Olympic gold medals, the firing of a lifelong friend on his staff.

Yet even though it's been 50 years since he enrolled as a freshman at Syracuse, the 68-year-old Boeheim just keeps rolling along, as intense and focused as ever in his 37th year at his alma mater, worried only about the next game when he's not recruiting or raising money for cancer research.

`'He hasn't lost a beat,'' said Boeheim's wife, Juli. ``Jim's got an intense edge at all times.''

One that has brought him to the doorstep of another milestone - 900 victories. Sometime soon - the first chance comes against Detroit on Monday night in the Carrier Dome on the court that bears his name - Boeheim will join a most elite fraternity, one with only two other members - Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902), the only men's coaches in Division I history to win that many games.

``The sooner we get through it, the better we'll be able to focus on the season,'' said Boeheim, 899-304 for his career after his fourth-ranked Orange (9-0) beat Canisius 85-61 on Saturday night. ``This team does not care about how many wins I have. They care about getting the next win. That's it. Everything else does not matter. It really doesn't. I'm happy I'm still here.''

Even though his Orange have won more games the past three seasons than during any three-year stretch in his career and Boeheim's program is probably better than it's ever been, crossing another threshold on the victory list isn't fodder for the dinner table.

``We don't even mention it at home,'' Juli said.

One of a vanishing breed, Boeheim has been head coach at Syracuse since 1976 and has never had a desire to go anywhere else. His first victory as a college coach was against Harvard in Springfield, Mass., a 75-48 triumph on Nov. 26, 1976.

``We were behind at halftime, not playing well at all,'' Boeheim recalled. ``We just kind of went to something real simple offensively and outscored them about 20-something to six in the second half.''

After taking over for Roy Danforth, Boeheim's Orange went 26-4 in his rookie season, losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

``We were a good eastern program,'' Boeheim said. ``At that time, St. Bonaventure, Holy Cross, and all those programs were just as good as we were. We were a little bit better at that point in time, but not much. There was really not much difference between all the eastern schools.''

Boeheim has transformed what was a sound program - Syracuse was 128-71 in eight seasons under Danforth, going 23-9 and reaching its first Final Four in the 1974-75 season - and taken the Orange into the rarefied air of three national title games, winning in 2003 in New Orleans.

Boeheim holds the Division I record for most 20-win seasons at 34, has 48 NCAA tournament victories (fifth all-time and one behind Jim Calhoun) in 29 trips, and tops the Big East with 402 wins.

And, clearly, he's in a better place than he was a year ago when former assistant Bernie Fine was fired amid allegations of sexual abuse against two former ball boys. No charges were filed, and last month federal authorities dropped their investigation. Fine has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Boeheim defended his lifelong friend and endured criticism and scrutiny, with some activists calling for him to be fired. He was questioned repeatedly during news conferences about the case and was sued for defamation by the ball boys (the case was thrown out).

Through it all, Boeheim simply did what he's done for nearly four decades - prepare for the next game. The Orange responded by winning a school-record 34 games, narrowly missing another trip to the Final Four.

``He has so much knowledge and experience. I write in a journal the way that he handles certain situations,'' said longtime assistant Mike Hopkins, who performs the job Fine held, coaching the big men. ``Last year was 10 years of education in one, managing and motivating - Cool Hand Luke.

``Every year you think you've seen it all, and last year you saw a whole new chapter just in terms of what a great leader he is.''

Boeheim has been part of Krzyzewki's staff for the past two Summer Olympics, and the two have formed a solid friendship.

``Jim is one of the great coaches of all time, and he's an even better man,'' Krzyzewski said. ``It will be an amazing accomplishment when he reaches 900 wins. What is even more amazing is that he's done that at one school. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University are synonymous. He has built one of the great brands in college basketball, one that has withstood the sport's most unrelenting test - the test of time.''

Knight's Indiana team deprived Boeheim and the Orange of a national championship in 1987 when Keith Smart's baseline jumper with 4 seconds left gave the Hoosiers a one-point victory.

Knight could be courtside on the ESPN broadcast crew calling the New Year's Eve game in the Carrier Dome against Central Connecticut. If the Orange remain undefeated and beat Central Connecticut, Boeheim would pass Knight on that day.

And despite what the coach says, the Orange are stoked for Monday night's game.

``I can't wait until he gets to 900,'' sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams said. ``He's been through the ups and downs with the school. He wants all of us to be great and to play to our potential. I think that's what makes him so great.''

Added senior Brandon Triche, who leads the team in scoring: ``He's one of the best motivators. Sometimes, he's tough on you, but he's motivated me to be the player I am.''

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AP Basketball Writer Jim O'Connell contributed to this report.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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Your guide to this year's Capitals Development Camp

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Your guide to this year's Capitals Development Camp

While this year’s Capitals roster brought home the ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup – it’s no secret that the team won’t be able to stay together as it is.

Despite the NHL salary cap rising from $75 million to about $79.5 million, the team will have less than $20 million to re-sign 19 active NHL and AHL affiliate players.

Challenging seems like an understatement when considering that key players like John Carlson, Jay Beagle, and Devante Smith-Pelly are due for some significant raises from their previous contracts. 

Similarly, the organization has to maintain depth, keeping its core roster strong while still offering smaller two-way contracts to their minor-league players in Hershey. 

With this in mind, this summer’s development camp seems especially crucial. For die-hard fans and new arrivals alike, all eyes are on how management will keep the team’s momentum next season.

Here’s what you need to know about attending Capitals Development Camp –shortened as dev camp – including who to watch and what events are most worthwhile.

What should I expect for Capitals development camp?

Development camp is fairly self-explanatory.

For one week every summer, as offseason contract negotiations take place, prospective players, minor-league players, and junior league players gather for a week for assessment, scrimmaging, fitness testing, practice, and publicity events. However, it's important to realize that the roster will not be finalized until the last minute, and depends on who the Capitals select or trade for in the 2018 NHL draft this Friday and Saturday.

Practices are free and open to the public at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, with coaching and managerial staff assessing players. Fan Fest will take place on Saturday, June 30 featuring the final camp scrimmage.

The Alumni Summer Classic game is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Kettler. The event is also free and open to the public.

Who should I be looking out for?

Former Hershey Bears on entry-level contracts like Jakub Vrana and Madison Bowey provided essential depth to the Capitals through this historic season. Several of their colleagues may be next in line.

Defensemen 
Following last years’ development camp, Connor Hobbs, Lucas Johansen, and Jonas Siegenthaler joined the Hershey Bears, showing promise on the team’s blue line. 

Hobbs, 21, spent two seasons with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League before coming to the Bears this past season. In November 2017, Hobbs suffered a wrist fracture, missing 32 games of the Bears’ 76-game season. Despite the injury, Hobbs put up a total of 16 points in 44 games.

Assuming he stays healthy, he only stands to get better. Like Siegenthaler, we’ll likely see him in the preseason lineup.

Johansen, 20, also came to the Bears from the WHL – Kelowna, to be exact. The 2016 first-round pick put up a respectable 27 points over 74 games this season. Though this may seem like a significant drop from his previous season’s 41 points in the WHL, the decrease is fairly typical when transitioning from junior to professional hockey.

Siegenthaler, 21, has the most impressive resume of any Capitals defensive prospect. Siegenthaler struggled to produce with the Bears this season, but did finish the full season in Hershey after spending 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons with Switzerland’s ZSC Lions and joining the Bears for their spring playoff push. He’s also made appearances on the international stage at the U20 World Junior tournament, adding his name to Switzerland’s national team roster this season.

It will be interesting to see if he could push for a spot with the NHL club.

Forwards
On the offensive side, Brian Pinho, 23, seems to be poised for a change. Coming off a four-year career with the Providence College Friars, Pinho captained the team to the NCAA quarterfinals this season.

It’s uncommon, yet not unsmart, to finish out a college degree before joining the NHL. Pinho will likely join the Bears next season.

Garrett Pilon, 20, was traded from the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers to the Everett Silvertips. The star child of Everett’s historic playoff run, he proved his indispensability as a scorer who works well under pressure, racking up a whopping 80 points in his final junior league season.

With contracts up in the air for several of the Capitals’ bottom-six forwards and favorable testimonies from management, Pilon might be the strongest chance to crack the lineup.

Goaltending
The Caps’ depth and future in goal looks a bit wonky, with general manager Brian MacLellan strongly hinting at shopping backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to teams who may be able to use him as a starter. Braden Holtby isn’t going anywhere, but you need more than one goalie for an entire NHL season, plus playoffs.

What to do? We’ll have to see how this year’s draft shakes out on June 22 and 23. But for now, keep an eye on Ilya Samsonov. The 21-year-old posted a 0.926 save percentage across 26 games with the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk this season. Even if he moves up to Hershey next season, it’ll be interesting to watch his development.

What else should I know?

If this dev camp is your first time at Kettler, get excited!

Note that for all practices except scrimmages, forwards will be dressed in red or white practice jerseys and defensemen in blue.

Since most players are new and/or under watch by management and coaching, all players will have names and numbers on the backs of their jerseys to make them easier to identify.

Keep in mind that whoever the Caps chose – or trade for – with their six picks in Friday and Saturday’s draft will also affect the dev camp roster. It often isn’t finalized until the last minute. Dev camp provides the first and best chance to get up close and personal with the Caps' newly drafted players. The uncertainty of who you'll get to see can be a drawback, but regardless, attending can give a great glimpse into where the Caps may be headed next season.

Between the Alumni Game, practices, and final weekend scrimmages, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to get your offseason hockey fix or take a step back from the Capitals’ salary cap woes. The final schedule for the week is likely to be released Sunday.

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