Wilbekin wreaks defensive havoc for No. 8 Florida

Wilbekin wreaks defensive havoc for No. 8 Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Scottie Wilbekin is one of Billy Donovan's best defenders.

Now and ever.

Florida's junior point guard showed his defensive prowess last week by shutting down Texas A&M's Elston Turner and Missouri's Phil Pressey in lopsided victories that extended the team's winning streak to six games.

Turner, coming off a 40-point game at Kentucky, managed four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Pressey, one of them more dynamic point guards in the country, finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting and had a career-high 10 turnovers.

Wilbekin wreaked havoc on both of them.

``It's unbelievable,'' teammates Erik Murphy said Monday. ``The guy just comes out and guards. I don't think I've ever played with a guy who can guard on the ball like that on any level - high school, AAU or college.''

The eighth-ranked Gators (14-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), who play at Georgia on Wednesday night, lead the league in just about every defensive category. And Wilbekin has been the key to the whole thing.

``He's always hung his hat on being a great defender,'' Donovan said. ``That's always been important to him. Our defense has gotten better and he's got a lot to do with that. As a point guard, it's probably somewhat changed our team's mentality a little bit going out there and defending the way we have.

``And it certainly starts with your point guard because he's picking the ball up from the press, he's out there at the top and he can set the stage. ... I don't need to motivate him to play defense. It's important to him.''

Donovan had high praise for Wilbekin on Monday, putting him in the same defensive class as former players Justin Hamilton (1999-2003) and Corey Brewer (2004-07).

Wilbekin spent the last two years playing behind Erving Walker, getting a few minutes here and there while showing glimpses of potential.

Walker left Florida ranked fourth on the program's all-time scoring list (1,777) and first in assists (547). No doubt, he was one of the more consistent players in Donovan's 17 seasons in Gainesville.

But the Gators might be better with Wilbekin running the show.

They certainly are better defensively.

Wilbekin is averaging 8.3 points, 4.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals. He's never going to touch Walker's career marks, but consider this: Walker had one 10-assist game in four years, including three as a starter. Wilbekin has posted two double-digit-assist games this month.

``He's been good in terms of getting in the lane and making good decisions,'' Donovan said. ``His offense continues to grow. He takes good shots. He takes open ones. He's a good finisher at the basket, and when he gets down the lane it kind of opens things up for us.

``A lot of times, when Erving would get down the lane, he would bet swallowed up. He would leave his feet sometimes, would drive me nuts, whereas I think Scottie can get down the lane and he can finish at the rim a little bit better.''

Still, Wilbekin's defense is getting most of the attention.

The 6-foot-2 Wilbekin doesn't have the height or reach of Hamilton or Brewer. But his quick feet, fast hands, gritty style and instincts make him a tough defender.

And he's contagious.

Center Pat Young, guard Mike Rosario and others feed off Wilbekin's defensive intensity. And guard Kenny Boynton, who has been the team's top defender in recent years, seems to be benefiting most from Wilbekin's play. With Wilbekin taking on the toughest defensive assignment, Boynton is able to rest more than usual on that end.

``He's impressive,'' Boynton said. ``He's taken over that role, and it says a lot about how much he's matured in a year.''

Wilbekin was suspended to start the season, missing the first three games for an undisclosed violation of team rules. But he's rebounded as well as Donovan expected and really settled into his role as a defensive stopper.

And with Wilbekin leading the way, Florida hasn't allowed any opponent to reach 70 points this season. And in four SEC games, the Gators are giving up just 48.7 points.

``Scottie's playing amazing right now,'' Young said. ``In my book, he's the best point guard I've ever played with.''

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After playoff debacle, NFL owners vote to overhaul ability to review pass interference

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After playoff debacle, NFL owners vote to overhaul ability to review pass interference

The NFL owners voted Tuesday evening to approve a rule proposal that will allow for both offensive and defensive pass interference, as well as non-calls, to be able to be subject to review.

The new rule change was passed for 2019 season and will be on a trial basis. Coaches will be able to challenge those specific calls in the first 28 minutes of each half. 

The change was passed with a 31-1 vote in Phoenix Tuesday evening at the Annual League Meeting. The only team to vote against the provision was the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coaches will still have two challenge flags.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who has been the one of the rule change's main advocates since the 2018 NFC Championship Game, was thrilled after the ruling was announced.


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Redskins announce Landon Collins will not take over Sean Taylor’s number after all

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Redskins announce Landon Collins will not take over Sean Taylor’s number after all

When a new player signs or is traded to a team, a lot of hype and speculation come along with it. While discussions about how they'll fit in with a certain scheme and debates over whether the contract was worth it always take center stage, there's another hot-button question that fans, journalists and more like to explore: "What number will they wear?"

After the Redskins signed free agent safety Landon Collins to a six-year deal this offseason, trying to determine what number he would wear became an important discussion point, and on Tuesday the answer was finally revealed by the team's twitter account.

Collins will rock No. 20 for the Redskins, according to a post by the team today. A great deal of the hoopla behind what number the safety would pick revolved around his history with the late Sean Taylor. Collins has always looked up to the Redskins great and wore No. 21 with the New York Giants to honor one of his role models. He even became overwhelmed with emotion when receiving a signed Taylor Jersey from owner Dan Synder following his signing.

So, it seemed that if anyone was going to be the first player to dawn No. 21 in the Burgundy and Gold since Taylor it would be Collins. However, Tuesday put that theory to rest. To some, including former Redskins Clinton Portis, this was the right decision

No. 20 will be the third different number Collins has worn since the beginning of his collegiate career, as he was No. 26 at Alabama. With Adrian Peterson re-signing with Washington, it seems as if the running back will be keeping the number he wore in 2018. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wore No. 20 for the Redskins last season, but the safety is now with the Chicago Bears. 

The post also included the number new quarterback Case Keenum will wear, which will be No. 8. This will be the fourth different number of his NFL career, as he had worn No. 7, No. 17 and No. 4 during his previous stops.

Kevin Hogan was the last Redskins quarterback to wear No. 8. But before him, it was of course Kirk Cousins, who then went to Minnesota to take over Keenum's starting job. I guess it really is a small world after all.