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Walker chosen as Texas Tech's interim coach

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Walker chosen as Texas Tech's interim coach

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Chris Walker took over Thursday as Texas Tech's interim head basketball coach, replacing Billy Gillispie.

``I'm very thankful that Texas Tech and Kirby Hocutt have given me this opportunity,'' Walker said a few hours after learning he was tapped for the post. ``It means everything to me.''

Walker and athletic director Kirby Hocutt have a verbal agreement for a six-month contract as interim coach. Hocutt said details of the agreement would be available once a contract is signed.

Gillispie resigned Sept. 20, citing health concerns and with the university investigating allegations that he mistreated some of his players. He led the Red Raiders to an 8-23 record in his only season in Lubbock.

Hocutt said the interim job was ``attractive'' to many at the college and NBA level.

``But it became clear over the course of the last couple of weeks, when you see the energy, when you see the determination, when you see the attitude of this group of young men, that the best decision for this basketball program was to stay in-house and to elevate Chris Walker to this role,'' Hocutt said.

Walker took over day-to-day operations of the program Sept. 7 after Hocutt told Gillispie he needed to focus on his health.

Hocutt said Thursday that a report on its investigation into allegations of additional practice-time violations than ones previously reported to the NCAA has been submitted to the governing body. He declined to comment further.

Junior Jaye Crockett, the team's third-leading scorer from last season at 8.8 points per game, said the past month hasn't been too difficult.

``It's a struggle because it's a different situation, but I don't think it's hard,'' he said. ``We've all been a family. We've been focused on working out and being the best team we can be this year.''

Hocutt declined to speculate on whether Walker could become the permanent head coach after this season.

Walker came to the program last year after two seasons at his alma mater Villanova, where he was an assistant under Jay Wright. He has 17 years of collegiate coaching experience, including four teams that went to the NCAA tournament - Villanova twice, Vanderbilt and Pepperdine.

Before coaching at Villanova, Walker was an assistant for Steve Alford for two years at New Mexico.

Gillispie's team had only one Big 12 win last season in Texas Tech's worst season since 1990-91.

In January, the school reprimanded Gillispie and assistant coach Brooks Jennings after a review found the team had exceeded practice-time limits in 2011. The school reported the secondary violation to the NCAA and penalized itself by reducing the team's practice time by about 12 hours.

Gillispie was hospitalized Aug. 31 for six days after calling 911 just hours before he was to meet with Hocutt to discuss allegations of player mistreatment. Several players had gone to talk to Hocutt two days earlier.

Gillispie was released from Lubbock's University Medical Center Sept. 6 after treatment for high blood pressure. The next day Hocutt told him he was no longer in charge of day-to-day operations of the program and was not to engage with it in any way until the two could meet to talk. Hocutt said he wanted Gillispie to focus on his health.

On Sept. 10 a second 911 call came from Gillispie's home, though he did not go to a hospital. The next day he flew to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for tests for high blood pressure.

When he returned four days later after being treated for kidney problems and abnormal headaches, he said doctors told him to avoid stress for 30 days while working to lower his blood pressure.

When Gillispie was hired by Texas Tech in March 2011, he had been out of coaching for two years after being fired at Kentucky after just two seasons. The school and fans had hoped the 52-year-old could orchestrate the turnaround for the Red Raiders that he had pulled off at UTEP and Texas A&M.

Texas Tech has failed to reach any notable heights since Bob Knight took the Red Raider to the NCAA regional semi-finals in 2005. Knight, who came to Texas Tech in March 2001 after leading Indiana to three national championships, resigned midseason in February 2008 and was succeeded by his son, Pat.

The younger Knight, who Texas Tech tapped as head coach designate a couple of years before his father resigned, was let go after 3 1/2 years. He now coaches at Lamar in Beaumont.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

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