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Virginia Tech tops East Tennessee State 80-62

Virginia Tech tops East Tennessee State 80-62

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Virginia Tech coach James Johnson's game-day routine in his coaching debut Saturday was much the same as it was in his previous role as an assistant coach. He felt excitement and jitters, he worried about not knowing all that much about his opponent and he wondered how his team would perform.

``For me, it was the usual,'' he said. ``Nothing different, really.''

Johnson's talented backcourt made his debut an easy one, as senior guard Erick Green scored 21 points to lead Virginia Tech to an 80-62 victory over East Tennessee State Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

Johnson, coaching his first game after 19 seasons as an assistant at various stops, replaced Seth Greenberg last May when the school fired Greenberg after nine seasons. The only new coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, his tenure started in fine fashion, as Green, Robert Brown and Jarell Eddie combined to score 54 of the Hokies' 80 points.

``It means a lot, but it means more for me for the team to come out and play and execute and do the things we've been working on since July 6,'' Johnson said. ``I like what I saw out there from the team. There are some things we have to work on and get better. But it meant a lot that they came out and played hard. They've worked hard and prepared themselves for this day, so it's good that they were able to get the win.''

The Hokies' first-half shooting was too much for the Buccaneers, as Virginia Tech shot 56.5 percent from the floor (13 of 23) in running out to a 15-point lead. The Buccaneers were within eight points with about six minutes left in the first half, but Brown hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around an Eddie 3-pointer to give the Hokies a 15-point advantage, and the Buccaneers never recovered.

Green scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half and Brown added 13 for the Hokies, hitting three 3-pointers. Brown, coming off foot surgery this summer, finished with 16, while Eddie had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

``I'm not sure we'll face a better perimeter game all year,'' said East Tennessee State coach Murry Bartow, whose team also plays North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Arizona this season. ``I really don't. We've got a lot of good teams coming up, but I'm not sure we'll face a better perimeter game than Green, Brown and Jarell Eddie. Offensively, those guys can really play.''

Freshman Lester Wilson came off the bench to lead the Buccaneers with 20 points. East Tennessee State, which trailed by as many as 25 in the second half, shot just 38.7 percent from the floor (24 of 62). Marcus Dubose added 12 points.

Following the game, Johnson - who had family in attendance along with many of his former Ferrum College teammates and his former Ferrum coach - received a game ball from the players.

``It feels good,'' Green said. ``I love playing for Coach J.J. Everything he does for us . it's never about him. It's all about us. To get him this first win, I'm really happy and excited for him. We're going to keep it going for him, too.''

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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