Nationals

Zeller near unanimous preseason pick

201210291339491989474-p2.jpeg

Zeller near unanimous preseason pick

The biggest man on The Associated Press' preseason All-America team got the most votes.

Seven-foot sophomore center Cody Zeller, the main reason Indiana is the preseason No. 1 for the first time in 33 years, was one vote shy of being a unanimous selection for the preseason All-America team.

Zeller, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 62.3 percent from the field, received 64 votes from the national media panel which selects the weekly Top 25.

Also on the team announced Monday were junior forwards Doug McDermott of Creighton and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State and three guards - seniors Isaiah Canaan of Murray State and C.J. McCollum of Lehigh and sophomore Trey Burke of Michigan.

McDermott was named on 62 ballots, while Canaan was on 43 and Thomas 26. McCollum and Burke tied for the fifth spot with 16 votes each.

Zeller is one of five starters back for the Hoosiers and when a top-flight recruiting class is added in there are a lot expectations for the No. 1 team.

``I don't know that we've really set any goals as a team, but obviously, we want to win a national championship,'' Zeller said. ``We're not going to guarantee anything. We're just going to play and see where it takes us.''

McDermott, who averaged 22.9 points (third in the nation) and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 60.1 percent from the field and 48.6 percent on 3s for the Bluejays last season in earning first-team All-America honors, has the added pressure of playing for his father, Greg. The relationship is the key to Creighton trying to become the latest mid-major to possibly go deep in the NCAA tournament.

``We have a lot of expectations on ourselves,'' Doug McDermott said. ``We know we can go far. You see Butler, VCU, teams like that that make it to the Final Four and even the national championship game. We're not thinking that far ahead, but we know we're capable of doing what those teams have done in the past.''

Canaan earned second-team All-America honors last season when he led Murray State to a 23-game winning streak to start the season, top 10 ranking, the third round of the NCAA tournament and a 31-2 record. A lot of Racers fans waited breathlessly for Canaan to announce he would skip the NBA draft and return for his senior season

Canaan averaged 19.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 45.6 percent from 3-point range.

``Having him back is great, and he's a tremendous kid,'' Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. ``He will go down as if not the best player, one of the best players, ever to play at Murray State. Anytime you have an elite guard as a coach that makes you feel really good.''

Thomas averaged 16 points and 5.5 rebounds a game last season playing in the same frontcourt with first-team All-America Jared Sullinger. While Sullinger left for the NBA, Thomas decided to come back and join two other returning starters in trying to get the Buckeyes past the national semifinals where they lost to Kansas.

``I knew one more year would be good for me,'' the 6-7 Thomas said. ``I came back just for one reason - to also go to the national championship and to win the Big Ten.''

McCollum grabbed headlines last season in earning Patriot League Player of the Year honors and plenty of attention from NBA scouts. The 6-3 McCollum averaged 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season, leading the Mountain Hawks in all three categories. He really opened eyes when he scored 30 points in Lehigh's NCAA tournament upset of Duke.

``C.J. has been a very reliable performer on the floor and has grown as a leader over the course of his career,'' Lehigh coach Brett Reed said. ``Our team has a great deal of confidence because C.J. exudes confidence in his performance and that ultimately transfers to his teammates. They feel more confident in their ability because he handles pressure situations and adversity very well.''

The 6-foot Burke averaged 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists in a freshman season that saw the Wolverines crack the top 10 and share the Big Ten title.

``I'm pumped,'' Burke said of the upcoming season. ``I'm really excited. The level of talent we have, I'm excited to see how far we can go.''

Zeller, McCollum and Burke all were honorable mention selections last season.

Quick Links

Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

sotogood.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

Quick Links

George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

usatsi_10846138.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.

MORE CAPITALS STORIES: