Capitals

UConn moves into first regular-season AP poll

UConn moves into first regular-season AP poll

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Connecticut needed just one game to convince voters in The Associated Press poll that the Huskies are still a pretty good basketball team, despite losing a Hall of Fame coach and five underclassmen after last season.

UConn (1-0) moved into the Top 25 on Monday at No. 23, on the strength of its 66-62 win over Michigan State in Friday's Armed Services Classic played at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The team hadn't been ranked since Jan. 23 and didn't receive a single vote in the preseason poll. Guard Shabazz Napier said it's a bit of validation for the Huskies, but not something they are excited about.

``We're just trying to be the best team we can be, whether someone else likes us or not,'' he said. ``We know how good we can be, and we're just going to strive for that.''

UConn was picked to finish ninth in the Big East after Jim Calhoun retired in September and was replaced by Kevin Ollie, a former Husky point guard who had no head coaching experience. The Huskies lost their two best players, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, to the NBA draft, and three other players transferred after the NCAA declared the Huskies academically ineligible for the 2013 postseason.

An NCAA ban does not disqualify a team from the AP poll.

``We've still got something to prove,'' said guard Ryan Boatright. ``Twenty-three ain't nothing but a number next to your name, so we're going to be the same UConn team that won that first Michigan State game.''

There wasn't a lot of movement in the poll after the opening weekend of the 2012-13 college basketball season.

Led by Indiana and Louisville, the first seven teams in the initial regular-season poll were the same as the preseason Top 25. The Hoosiers (1-0) were again a solid No. 1, receiving 46 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. Louisville (1-0) was No. 1 on 18 ballots.

Kentucky (1-0), which received one first-place vote, was third, followed by Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina State and Kansas.

Syracuse and Duke swapped places at eighth and ninth and Florida again rounded out the top 10.

UConn was the only newcomer. Michigan State (0-1) dropped from 14th to 21st with the loss to the Huskies. Florida State (0-1), which lost 76-71 to South Alabama, dropped out from 25th.

Not every voter was convinced that UConn should be ranked. Dave Borges, who covers the Huskies for the New Haven Register, said he needs to see a greater body of work before putting Connecticut in his Top 25.

``I considered ranking them,'' Borges said. ``But I didn't have a huge opinion of them before the season and it was tough for me to completely change that after one game.''

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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

After the moves, the Caps had more than $21 million in space under the salary cap ceiling, according to www.capfriendly.com, and potentially enough room to accommodate new contracts for John Carlson and other key free agents.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much the 37-year-old’s rugged play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed his $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to ink Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear, but it will sure help the Caps’ cause. Carlson is expected to command an extension in the eight-year, $8 million per neighborhood. 

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, as their backup next season. And if Copley starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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

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USA Today Sports

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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