UConn's annual basketball run has a March finish

UConn's annual basketball run has a March finish

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's basketball team runs a road race around campus each fall to mark the start of their run toward a championship.

Thursday afternoon's Husky Run, as it has always been, was 3.4 miles. But this year, the season's run will be shorter than usual, ending in March. UConn didn't qualify academically for the NCAA tournament and is also banned from the Big East tournament.

New coach Kevin Ollie, who took over last month when Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun retired, said they are finding other things to motivate them, including a regular season championship and respect.

``I really want the opponent to leave the court and say, `Why are they playing so hard?''' Ollie said. ``They're not playing for an NCAA tournament. They ain't going to the Big East. Why are they playing so hard? That's what I want them to leave with every day. If they do that, then we've succeeded.''

Ollie, who played for Calhoun at UConn and spent 13 years in the NBA, will make his debut against Michigan State on Nov. 9 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Because he's never been a head coach at any level, he was given just a one-season contract. The final game on that deal is March 9 against Providence.

``We know what he's got at stake,'' said guard Ryan Boatright. ``We know what we've got to do to help him fulfill what he wants to do. So, everybody's playing for each other. It's a brotherhood.''

Connecticut lost not only Calhoun, but five underclassmen in the offseason. Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb are in the NBA. Alex Oriakhi (Missouri), Roscoe Smith (UNLV) and Michael Bradley (Western Kentucky) all transferred after the NCAA ban was confirmed.

This year's Huskies will be led by the backcourt of Boatright and Shabazz Napier. Junior forwards Tyler Olander and Niels Giffey and sophomore DeAndre Daniels, also saw playing time last season. R.J. Evans will play his final year of eligibility as a transfer from Holy Cross.

But the rest of the Huskies are relatively unknown commodities. Omar Calhoun was a highly sought after guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. He leads a recruiting class that also includes forwards Phil Nolan and Leon Tolksdorf.

``Committing to UConn wasn't just all about Coach Calhoun, and winning a national championship,'' Nolan said. ``I knew we weren't going to be able to play for a national championship. But, UConn has so much history behind its name. The name and being part of that. It speaks for itself.''

Daniels was the first player to cross the finish line Thursday, completing the course in 18:47, about a minute ahead of Boatright.

The run is a prelude to Saturday's first practice, which under Calhoun was legendary for its intensity and ability to stretch players to their physical limits.

Calhoun is gone, and the players say Ollie has a more player-friendly style. But Ollie said when it comes to pushing his players and emphasizing hard work, they are two suits cut from the same cloth.

``I might wear mine as a European cut, while coach might wear his a little loose,'' Ollie said. ``It's going to be the same thing. It's defense. It's toughness. It's playing together.''

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played and had he been able to play in 16 games he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did


A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby Win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.