Redskins

Tulsa starts anew with Danny Manning as coach

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Tulsa starts anew with Danny Manning as coach

TULSA, Okla. (AP) When it comes to basketball, Danny Manning has done it all.

As a player, he experienced the best there is as an NCAA champion at Kansas and an NBA All-Star with the Los Angeles Clippers. He understands the worst there is, with three serious knee injuries that forced him to find ways to stay competitive without the same athleticism and sparked an interest in coaching.

Back at his alma mater, he started off in operations and steadily moved up the food chain until he was an assistant coach on another team that cut down the nets.

And now, he's ready to begin another endeavor - his first chance to be a head coach.

Hired this April by a middling Tulsa program hungry to return to the NCAA tournament, Manning makes his debut Sunday when the Golden Hurricane host LSU-Shreveport. It's another big step in a steady decade-long progression for Manning.

``I thought it was very important for me to know how everything worked from the ground up, and there's no better way of knowing what happens on the ground level than being there and working it, and working my way up,'' Manning said.

``I think it's something that benefits me each and every day.''

Manning, 46, has spent the past seven months molding a team that was largely shapeless when he took over.

Three players, including leading scorer Jordan Clarkson, transferred out of the program after predecessor Doug Wojcik was fired following six straight winning seasons but no NCAA tournament appearances.

Three others graduated and starting forward Kodi Maduka gave up the sport for medical reasons after he collapsed during a pickup game the same day Manning was hired in April.

That put Manning in a position to bring in seven newcomers to mix with the three players left on the roster with college experience - starting guard Scottie Haralson, part-time starter Tim Peete and reserve Rashad Smith.

``It's new to everybody,'' Manning said. ``Your seniors don't know any more than the freshmen, and so you don't have anybody teaching and showing guys how to do things because nobody knows. That's been the roughest part.''

With so much change, Manning was thankful he was able to get a head start because of a new NCAA rule allowing coaches 2 hours of workouts per week with their players and a foreign exhibition tour to Canada.

Still, there's plenty of work to do to instill his own unique brand of basketball at Tulsa.

``I'm not smart enough to say that I invented anything or came up with anything. We all borrow as coaches, we all borrow as players and we tweak and we work it to the best of our ability with the team that we have,'' Manning said.

``I would like to think that you see our team and you say, `These guys come out here and they work hard.' That's what I want you to say when you see them on the court. I think when you see them off the floor, we want you to see how good of young men they are.''

Manning has instituted an aggressive, pressing defense and during exhibition play deployed all the youthful players on his bench to keep it going. In the second preseason game, the Golden Hurricane amassed 113 points - their most in exhibition play since 1993.

``We want to be a team that establishes tempo, that create tempo, and we want to be in attack mode,'' Manning said.

``We want to have the reputation of when somebody sees Tulsa coming in the gym and just goes, `Oh boy, here they come,''' he added. ``And not because they're so much more talented than you. It's because they're going to play hard the whole game.''

Manning's head coaching debut comes 10 years after his final NBA season with the Dallas Mavericks. But it was another life-changing event that propelled him to Tulsa.

``The one thing that really opened my eyes, for me, was when my father passed away a couple years ago, not wanting to put my aspirations on hold thinking that tomorrow is promised and it's not,'' Manning said.

``At that point, it was one of those situations for me, if I want to get past this hurdle in terms of being a head coach and running my own program and make it happen as soon as possible.''

After his father, Ed, passed away in March 2011, Manning worked with his boss, Bill Self, and other assistants on the Kansas staff with head coaching experience to build a portfolio and what he called a ``blueprint to a championship program.'' It was all ready when Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley pursued him during last season's NCAA tournament.

It includes a life skills component intended to prepare his players to be husbands, fathers, friends and providers for their families after basketball.

Ex-Tulsa star Shea Seals is in charge of the program, including etiquette and financial planning sessions and visits from former players, policemen and military representatives.

``There's so many talented athletes that are so immersed in what they're doing at that present time that their sport becomes who they are, and it's not who they are, it's what you do,'' Manning said.

``Who you are goes back to the characteristics that you have as a person, and that's what we want to stress.''

Although basketball has provided Manning careers as a player and a coach, he understands that not every college player will follow that path - and he hopes to connect with them all.

``I'm very comfortable when I recruit a young man that I've been on a team where I've been called upon to score points or be a star, I've been a starter, I've been a sixth man, I've been a role guy, I've been a rotation guy, I've been on the injured list. I haven't played,'' he said. ``There's not a role that I can't relate to that a player has on our team.''

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.