Redskins

Washington's 4-0 Pac-12 start all because of D

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Washington's 4-0 Pac-12 start all because of D

SEATTLE (AP) Even in the past when they were pretty good defensively, the Washington Huskies' fast-paced athleticism on the offensive end always got the attention.

It's easy for defense to get overshadowed when future NBA players like Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Quincy Pondexter, Spencer Hawes, Isaiah Thomas and Terrence Ross are cycling through your program.

But the reason Washington has turned around a stumbling start this season and won 10 of its last 12 games is because of the effort and improvement being made on the defensive end. After Wednesday night's 64-54 win over Colorado, the Huskies improved to 4-0 in the Pac-12 and are allowing just 56 points per game in conference play.

Granted it's still early and the Huskies have yet to see any of the ranked Pac-12 squads - Arizona, Oregon and UCLA - but coach Lorenzo Romar has his team on pace to be the finest defensive squad in his tenure.

``It's both our attitude and us figuring things out,'' Washington guard Abdul Gaddy said. ``We take pride in our defense, we don't like when people score on us. We're really starting to jell, which is the main thing.''

Romar has preached defense since coming to Washington and it has often been a struggle. Yet this group has figured out the principles needed to be successful at that end.

For the season, the Huskies are giving up 64.9 points per game, which would be the lowest in Romar's tenure by nearly five points. Teams are shooting just 41 percent and only 37 percent in Washington's four conference games thus far. The Huskies have held seven of their last nine opponents under 40 percent shooting. They've accomplished that in each of their first four conference games, only the second time under Romar that the Huskies have held four straight opponents under the 40 percent mark.

Now in his 11th season, Romar has never had a team that has allowed less than 66 points per game in Pac-12 play or lower than 42 percent shooting. Even in their best seasons, when Washington reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament - 2005, 2006 and 2010 - the Huskies still allowed around 70 points per game.

It might be a little ugly as compared to Washington teams of the past, but Romar doesn't mind.

``You can color it any way you want to color it,'' Romar said. ``I just know that when you go out and you play two games in a row and you have single-digit turnovers, you hold four teams to under 40 percent from the field, you outrebound three out of the four, you're beginning to do things right.''

The defensive improvement this year has many layers and much of it starts at the other end of the floor. Washington made the transition in the offseason to using a high-post offense as its primary set. It was very choppy at the beginning of the season, to where Romar reverted to the motion offense for stretches, but has become more efficient of late. The net result of running an offense that requires more passing, more precision, is that the Huskies are putting up fewer shots and running more of the clock.

Washington is attempting seven fewer shots per game compared to last season. In turn, games are played at a slower pace and they are defending for fewer possessions.

Additionally, the Huskies have figured out how to use their length to cause defensive headaches. The Huskies will never be mistaken for a team filled with towering bodies, but guards C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs are 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively, with long arms and the ability to make passing lanes shrink.

Then there is 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye in the back. N'Diaye has improved his lateral speed and become very good at coming from the opposite side of the lane to alter shots. N'Diaye has 10 blocks in the last four games and he's stayed away from foul trouble.

``We always knew we could play good defense, and we came into the season saying that that is what we needed to do,'' Wilcox said. ``It just took some time to get through our heads that that is what we needed to do and we're starting to learn that, and get better game by game.''

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NFL players react to news that Andrew Luck is retiring

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NFL players react to news that Andrew Luck is retiring

NFL players took to Twitter on Saturday to send well-wishes to Andrew Luck after news broke that he is retiring from the NFL. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Luck was 'mentally worn out' after years of battling injuries. Luck confirmed the news in an emotional press conference on Saturday night.

"Andrew luck I understand you 100% brotha," wrote Dez Bryant. "... take your time ... I wish you the best."

Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins reacted to the news with emojis.

Former player turned ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho posted video of Colts fans booing Luck as he walked into the locker room. "Coach always said, 'the pats on the back eventually turn into stabs,'" he wrote.  

"That's bad to boo that man," added former Redskins player Chris Baker.

Former Ravens and current Carolina player Torrey Smith tweeted that anyone in the sport understands.

Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton wrote he was "shook."

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'Hardest decision of my life': Colts QB Andrew Luck retires

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'Hardest decision of my life': Colts QB Andrew Luck retires

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Andrew Luck watched one last game from the sideline Saturday.

Then he said goodbye to the NFL.

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback heard boos as he walked away from the field, then walked to the podium and made the surprise decision official. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29.

"I am going to retire," he said. "This is not an easy decision. It's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me."

Luck said the repeated injuries, the lingering pain and continual rehab took away his love for the game.

Word first leaked about Luck's plans during the fourth quarter of Saturday's 27-17 loss to the Chicago Bears when ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Luck felt mentally worn down and had met with team owner Jim Irsay to inform him of his decision.

Luck has most recently struggled to recover from a lower left leg injury.

Luck's former coach Chuck Pagano made his first return to Lucas Oil Stadium since he was fired as the Colts' head coach following the 2017 season. Luck did not play that season because he was recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder.

He returned last season and led the Colts back to the playoffs for the first time in four years, winning the league's Comeback Player of the Year award.

But in March, he suffered a strained left calf, was held out of all of the team's offseason workouts and returned on a limited basis for three practices at training camp in July. Lingering pain forced him back to the sideline and the Colts later determined that he had an injury near the back of his left ankle.

Coach Frank Reich had said he hoped to have an answer about Luck's availability for the Sept. 8 season opener after the third preseason game. This might not have been the one he wanted -- and certainly didn't expect.

Jacoby Brissett now inherits the starting job.