Redskins

Year-old meeting resonates in Ohio State at Duke

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Year-old meeting resonates in Ohio State at Duke

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Thad Matta jokes that he has a secret weapon going into No. 4 Ohio State's ACC/Big Ten Challenge showdown on Wednesday night at No. 2 Duke.

Greg Paulus, in his second year as the Buckeyes' video coordinator, was one of the Blue Devils' patented scrappy point guards from 2006-09. He's diagrammed where all the dead spots are on the floor at legendary Cameron Indoor Stadium.

``He's got it all mapped out,'' Matta said, trying to hold back a grin. ``There's a big chart with pins stuck in it.''

Instead of the nuances of the old gym, the Buckeyes are concerned more with how they play and how that measures up against the mighty Blue Devils in a key game for both teams.

To get ready for the trip - and for a date with Cameron Indoor's famously loud and boisterous students - Matta had crowd noise blaring during practice this week. That's about the only concession the Buckeyes have made to the game beyond a series of hard practices.

Hanging over the matchup is the specter of last year's meeting between the teams.

When No. 3 Duke played at second-ranked Ohio State, the Buckeyes could do no wrong and the Blue Devils could do no right.

Ohio State scored the first 11 points, led by 19 at the half and was on top by as many as 25 in what ended up as an 85-63 landslide. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team was tired and overwhelmed.

``Sometimes you just get your butt kicked,'' Krzyzewski said after the blowout. ``We were getting our butt kicked. I've had my butt kicked before. We've kicked some butt. Tonight my butt's sore.''

As forgettable as that night was for the Blue Devils, it became a constant reminder to the Buckeyes (4-0). Throughout a 31-8 season that took them all the way to the Final Four, when things got tough they would fall back on what they did against Duke.

``I wouldn't say that game was easy,'' guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. ``I just think it was a defining moment for our team. Coach (Matta) talks all the time about five guys being connected. It doesn't matter what team we would have played that game. I don't think anybody could have beaten us we were so connected. No one cared about anything other than winning that basketball game.

``Everybody had a job to do and everybody was focused on their job only.''

Of course, Ohio State's players have played in a lot of difficult places, from Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas to Michigan State's Breslin Center and dozens of others.

But a good performance at Cameron Indoor still counts for a lot.

``We have a lot of guys like Lenzelle, myself, Deshaun (Thomas) and Evan Ravenel who have been in (difficult) situations and understand what it's like. Some of the younger guys have been there but haven't experienced playing in it,'' point guard Aaron Craft said. ``We need to solidify ourselves as a basketball team, solidify our identity and understand as crazy as it's going to be down there - we're going to play in some crazy atmospheres this year - it is still a basketball game. It's going to come down to execution and what we have practiced up to this point. Hopefully we can have enough mental toughness to do it.''

Smith said he expects ``chaos'' from the student section. Craft called them ``loud and obnoxious'' but said he looks forward to testing himself in such a hostile place.

Duke (6-0) is off to a flying start, rocketing past Minnesota, Virginia Commonwealth and then-No. 2 Louisville last week to win the Battle for Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

``This has been a good team thus far,'' Krzyzewski said this week. ``In fact, a very good team. We've ended up playing the toughest schedule in the country. The competition has helped us improve but also learn more about one another.''

Matta wants to learn more about his own team.

``You go into the game and you're saying, `Hey, at the conclusion of this game, you're going to know a lot more about your team,''' he said. ``Road environment, it's going to be hostile, you're playing a great basketball team. From that perspective, as much as you want to look at (Wednesday night), you're thinking long term as well.''

The Blue Devils have won their last 96 games against non-conference teams at home. On first reference, Matta said Duke had won its last 900 such games at Cameron. Then he said he may have fudged when he mentioned it to his players.

``Nine-thousand straight is what I told them,'' he said, laughing.

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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