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Tennessee's Stokely Athletics Center closing down

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Tennessee's Stokely Athletics Center closing down

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The building that served as Tennessee's basketball court during the program's glory years in the 1960s and 1970s is about to close its doors.

Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld, two of the greatest players in school history, performed at the Stokely Athletics Center.

So did Elvis Presley, Elton John, Janis Joplin and plenty of other famous recording acts. The Tennessee women's basketball team won its first national title in 1987, its final season using Stokely as its home court.

This old venue now is being prepared for demolition.

The bookstore located in Stokely is closing Saturday. All the university departments that have offices in Stokely are moving out by the end of the month, and the building will be demolished at a date to be determined.

A full use for all the land occupied by Stokely hasn't been decided, though Tennessee athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton said an extension of the football practice fields ``will be a component of that.''

``It's just a museum if you leave it up now,'' said Bill Justus, a two-time all-Southeastern Conference guard who played at Tennessee from 1967-69. ``The memories will never be lost.''

Those memories include plenty of victories.

The facility opened as the UT Armory-Fieldhouse in 1958, but its name changed after William B. Stokely Jr. helped fund a $2.6 million renovation in 1966.

The Tennessee men's basketball team played at Stokely from 1959-87 and went 321-69 in home games during that stretch for an .823 winning percentage. The Tennessee women's basketball team went 137-18 at Stokely from 1976-87 for an .884 winning percentage.

Tennessee had outstanding basketball teams during that era. The men's team finished lower than third place in the SEC just one year from 1963-64 to 1976-77.

Pat Summitt took over the Lady Vols in 1974-75 and wasted no time making Tennessee one of the nation's premier programs.

But the Stokely atmosphere also played a part in Tennessee's home-court advantage. That was particularly true of the men's teams under Ray Mears, who coached Tennessee from 1962-77 and posted a 278-112 record.

Mears fired up the fan base with unique pregame ball-handling drills that featured as much showmanship as you'd see at a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition.

``At most places, people would get there maybe five or 10 minutes before the game,'' said Grunfeld, a four-time all-SEC selection from 1974-77 who is now president of the Washington Wizards. ``At Stokely, a half-hour before the game ever started, all the people were in the seats.''

The proximity of the stands to the Stokely court made the arena particularly friendly to the home team.

``If you went out of bounds, you could almost touch the people,'' said Larry Robinson, who played at Tennessee from 1971-73. ``You got to know them over a period of time, through the games. They got to know you. You could sit there actually before a game and communicate with them.''

Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick experienced Stokely as both a player and a spectator.

Warlick, the first Tennessee athlete in any sport to have her number retired, was a three-time All-America guard for the Lady Vols from 1976-80. She also remembers attending Elvis Presley, Elton John and Whitney Houston concerts at Stokely.

``They used to seriously have the best-smelling popcorn,'' Warlick said. ``You walked in the door, and all you could smell was great popcorn.''

Although both basketball programs left for the Thompson-Boling Arena after the 1986-87 season, Stokely served as the home court for the women's volleyball team from 1998-2007.

More recently, Stokely has been a training facility for the track and field teams while also housing offices for the athletic department and ROTC program. Those offices will be moved to other campus locations by the end of December.

``It served its purpose in its time,'' Justus said. ``It was a great place to play and a great place to practice. ... It's got its place in history.''

---

AP Sports Writer Joseph White of Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

RELATED: DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS AND MORE FROM CAPS LOSS TO FLYERS

Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Derrius Guice's representation has released a statement that says the Washington Football Team running back "adamantly denies" the charges that he was arrested for on Friday

Guice turned himself into the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office facing one count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery, and one count destruction of property.

The following statement from Peter Greenspun was obtained by Ben Standig of The Athletic. 

"Mr. Guice will not be commenting on these charges, which he adamantly denies. We ask that the media respect Mr. Guice's privacy," the statement read. 

"Unfortunately, the investigators did not seek a statement or any input for Derrius before the warrants were issued. The failure to fully investigate allegations of events, which allegedly took place months ago is inexplicable."

Greenspun, who has a historic career and most notably was a defense attorney in the 'D.C. Sniper trial,' called the charges of his client "unsubstantiated." He also called out the football franchise for releasing Guice prematurely without inquiring about the investigation. 

"... a full vetting of the allegations will take place, in contrast to actions by local law enforcement and the Washington Football Team that assumed the worst, directly contradicting every sense of fairness and due process," the statement concluded.

The Washington Football Team released Guice less than an hour after his arrest became public. The move came through as a part of the culture Ron Rivera has vowed to instill during his first few months as head coach. This is also not the first time Guice has faced issues for off-the-field behavior. He fell to the team back in the 2018 draft due to issues he had while with LSU.

In his short tenure, Rivera has dealt with a tumultuous series of issues arising from the franchise including current and former players facing other serious allegations, a monumental name change, and serious allegations of the culture within the team's executives.

Despite injuries mounting in two years for the 23-year-old back, it was expected that Guice would become the leading rusher in the backfield this season. Still, he had yet to prove to be a consistent contributor with only 42 carries for 245 yards and two touchdowns entering his third season.

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