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Weis taking gamblers' approach to getting wins

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Weis taking gamblers' approach to getting wins

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Charlie Weis has demonstrated a gambler's mentality through his first five games at Kansas, a willingness to push his chips all-in if it means snatching a victory.

It was never as evident as last Saturday at Kansas State.

The Jayhawks pulled off an audacious faked field goal and faked punt in the first half and were within a touchdown at halftime, the score no doubt causing murmurs across the country.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats finally got on track in the second half, scoring four touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away. But the fact that Kansas had played the brawny Wildcats to a virtual stalemate through 30 minutes was a testament to Weis' go-for-broke mentality.

``I'd rather go down swinging than not take a swing,'' Weis said Tuesday while taking a break from preparation for next weekend's game against Oklahoma State. ``I'm not taking a third strike.''

That's a departure in mentality from his predecessor, Turner Gill.

Gill was often criticized for being exceedingly cautious, wary of taking chances, even if it meant keeping a game close at the expense of playing for victory. So while he played then-No. 9 Nebraska close in 2010, and nearly upset Baylor last season, he ultimately beat neither.

He only won five games over two seasons and was fired last December.

Weis is taking a far different approach.

``I've always had that in me, number one, and number two, I do believe when you go into a game, you as a coaching staff have to make a value judgment,'' Weis said. ``What do you think you're going to have to do to give your team the best chance of winning?''

If that means calling for a punt fake at your own 29-yard line in the first quarter of a tied game, so be it. If that means calling for the field goal unit to throw the ball downfield with the game still tied later in the first half, well, that's exactly what Weis is going to do.

``It was kind of crazy there for a little while,'' said the Wildcats' Ty Zimmerman, who seemed both surprised and impressed by the Jayhawks' cavalier approach last Saturday.

Weis said his willingness to take chances stems from his work under Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick in the NFL. Both of the coaches have been considered conservative in their game plans, but Weis said that perception is misguided - or just plain inaccurate.

``They might be conservative in their normal offense and defense,'' Weis said, ``but when it comes down to taking a gamble, I don't think I've ever seen anybody go for it on fourth down more than Bill Belichick in my life.''

Of course, the team Weis inherited this season has sometimes given him little choice.

The offense has struggled to score points through the first five weeks, and kicker Ron Doherty has missed five of 10 field-goal attempts. So if the alternative to failing on fourth down is blowing a 40-yard kick, Weis is willing to take his chances with the offense.

The Jayhawks (1-4) have gone for it on fourth down 10 times the last three weeks, converting half of them - the same rate at which Doherty is making field goals.

``The most import thing is to try to win this week's game,'' Weis said, ``and you have to do everything in your position to get your team ready to win this week's game.''

That doesn't mean mortgaging the future to win a few games in the present.

Weis called it a balancing act between taking chances to spring an upset and playing the kind of fundamentally sound football that he believes will yield success further down the road.

``You can't ever sacrifice your current team for the sake of development,'' he said, ``but at the same time you have to do both simultaneously. They have to go hand in hand.''

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Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

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@ianoland

Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

TOM WILSON IS ALL JACKED UP ON MOUNTAIN DEW. 

17 minutes into Game 7 and Tom Wilson is already out here doing Tom Wilson things. 

First, there were these shenanigans:

Pretty standard stuff. Some anger words, some glove pulling. Nothing special. Then, friends - then it gets real:

Let this marinate a little bit. Wilson got a minor for fighting, served his time, and then IMMEDIATELY came out of the box and did literally the exact same thing. 

He punched a guys helmet off. Those helmets have straps to stay on for this exact reason, and it didn't matter. If this was medieval jousting, Braydon Coburn would be declared the loser on the spot. 

Get you a friend like Tom Wilson. 

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

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