Wichita State is winning big without Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet

Wichita State shouldn¡¯t be this good. The Shockers were powered by Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet for the last four years, but now both have graduated to the pros. They were the heart and soul of these Shockers teams for what felt like an eternity. They¡¯re gone and the Shockers aren¡¯t.

Wichita State sits tied with the Illinois State Redbirds at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. They don¡¯t have a true star. Instead, Gregg Marshall has to rely on a balanced offense and a deep bench. So far, it¡¯s working in a big way. The Shockers are 25-4 overall and made their debut in the AP Poll this week at No. 25.

This is the first Shockers team in Marshall¡¯s tenure where no senior averages at least five points a game. He has instead leaned on a variety of underclassmen and they are playing unselfishly on both ends of the floor.
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Wichita State is one of eight teams that ranks in the top 20 of both offensive and defensive efficiency this season with the No. 18 offense and No. 17 defense, per KenPom.

It shouldn¡¯t shock anyone that this team is contending again, but how they¡¯re doing it is a bit of a surprise. Here¡¯s what you need to know about the Shockers heading into March Madness.

Seeing it up close gave Lynch a new perspective. Combining that with the need to have a result — positive or negative — to take home with him after games, Lynch saw himself making the leap.

“When you¡¯ve got a guy who had as good of a life setup, with his job and where he was, and he wants to come be a GM for one reason, because he wants to be a part of that working to win again — and that¡¯s how I think, too,” Shanahan said. “There¡¯s a lot of stuff that goes on in this business, and it¡¯s a big-time business and I get that, but when it comes down to it, when you have the people who are working together to try to lead the organization the way they think is pretty simple: It¡¯s about football and really not much else.”
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The Pelicans were very close to a deal for Jahlil Okafor about 10 days ago

Tony Lippett had a great career as a receiver for the Spartans, finishing second in school history with 149 receptions and in the top-10 in school history with 2,247 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. He says he wants to be a receiver. He’s taking part in the receiver group here in Indy.

That said, don’t be surprised to see him doing drills in defensive posture in the not-too-far future. “Not today, but in the near future, definitely going to be the opportunity for everyone to see me backpedaling,” said Lippett.
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And, it comes as no surprise. A physical, long, but still quick cornerback is becoming more and more valuable in the modern NFL with 6’3, 6’4, 6’5, or taller receivers increasingly being featured in offenses league-wide. A guy who can match up with the Dez Bryants, Demaryius Thomases, A.J. Greens, Brandon Marshalls, and of course, Calvin Johnsons — that’s no small value.

There does seem to be some evidence Utah is less effective against top opposition. Splitting their game difficulty (based on opponent point differential, adjusted for home/road but not rest or travel), the Jazz’s margin of victory is 2.2 points better than expected in the top third of their games by difficulty, plus-5.4 in the middle third and plus-4.2 in the bottom third.
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The Pelicans were very close to a deal for Jahlil Okafor about 10 days ago, sources told Shelburne, offering a similar package that didn’t include Hield. But the deal fell apart over differences on the protections of the first-round pick involved.

Kings GM Vlade Divac told ESPN on Feb. 6 that the team would not trade DeMarcus Cousins, but reversed course on Sunday night, agreeing to deal Cousins to New Orleans in exchange for a package centered on Buddy Hield and draft picks, sources told ESPN.

his genuineness will rank near the top. He was immature and still learning how to handle setbacks

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After all, Wright has to remember back only 16 months to relive the unexpected joy ride the Mets took on those backs — all the way to the 2015 World Series. That, Jacob deGrom said this week, “was only a taste” of what these guys are pretty sure they’re about to unleash on the rest of Planet Baseball.

“We know now what it takes to get there,” deGrom said. “Now we’ve got to go win it.”

Aaron Gordon Jersey You don’t visit many clubhouses in the first week of spring training where people talk matter-of-factly about winning the World Series. But deGrom had no reservations about broaching that subject with unabashed confidence.

“Winning the World Series,” he said, almost casually, “that’s the plan.”

“He sat next to Almonte,” Picollo said. “He was ordering dinner for him and speaking English for him. He was helping. He had been up in the big leagues for a week, and he was there because he wanted to take care of the young Latin kids. You could see that.”

These moments when Ventura showed an inherent goodness help explain why the Royals kept their faith in him — even when he could be so exasperating.

“He always had that smile, and no matter how mad you were at him, he was going to make you laugh,” Picollo said. “The impression that people in the game had of him was different than the actual person.”

Of all the attributes the Royals will miss in Ventura, his genuineness will rank near the top. He was immature and still learning how to handle setbacks, but every last emotion was real.

“There’s a void in all of our hearts,” Duffy said. “We’re not going to see him again. To not see him walking in from the bullpen with the focus and the intensity he had, it’s going to be hard.

“You just remember what you had with him and try to look back fondly on his life and everything he accomplished in his short time here on earth. And you know he’s in a better place now.”

4 essential questions for players likely to get the NFL franchise tag in 2017

The NFL’s franchise tag window opens Wednesday and closes on March 1. We’re expecting a handful of players to get the tag, but these four players are probably the most essential for teams AND the players with bigger questions surrounding their future.

Can Washington and Kirk Cousins just agree on a long-term deal? He’s expected to get the franchise tag for the second year in a row, almost $24 million fully guaranteed. That would be more than $40 million in two years, so surely they’ll tag him and then get a deal done. His faults aside, he’s too good for Washington to let get away.

How much is Le’Veon Bell worth? If the Steelers tag him, he’ll make more than $12 million this season, making him the highest paid running back in the NFL (assuming Minnesota jettisons Adrian Peterson). Bell is a special player, but he’s also one failed drug test away from a 10-game suspension. A long-term deal would be the way to go here, too.

It’s more than just the scoreline alone. This is the most infamous of games. The injustice of injustices. Cesc Fàbregas’ ill-timed backheel that sent Andrés Iniesta into Arsenal’s box, allowing him to provide the assist for Messi’s first goal. The Judas. His dream to return to Barcelona was an open secret, but to betray Arsenal in front of the watching world was brazen, to say the least.

Then the Red Card. Arsenal had equalized through a Sergio Busquets own-goal in the 53rd minute and were firmly on the front foot. In the 56th, Robin van Persie was sent through on goal, but he had been judged offside. Not hearing the whistle, as the crowd was deafening, he still took a shot on goal. An action that strikers often commit without punishment, especially in an understandably loud and tense atmosphere but the referee, Massimo Busacca, would not have it. He sent him off. Xavi Hernández scored soon after and then Messi again. And thus the conspiracy of “UEFALona” and the cycle of round of 16 exits was born.

Arsenal will play Bayern Munich in the round of 16 of the 2016/2017 Champions League, and they will lose. They will make silly mistakes in the first game and concede enough goals that the second leg, where they will be dominant, will be incredibly tense, even for neutrals. Because Arsenal will score enough goals in that second game to brings themselves to the edge of qualification. They will need just one goal with less than five minutes remaining. And they won’t get it. This is just the way things are.

Morey made three in-season trades during the 2014-15 season where the Rockets won 56 games and reached the West finals

An early benefit has come from players noticing things they used to miss on laptops — especially hitches in their shot mechanics.

“I really saw a difference in my jump shot and free throws,” says 20-year-old wing Kelly Oubre, who grew up playing “Call of Duty” and is used to wearing a headset. “I could see my mechanics, what I needed to do right.” Oubre’s true shooting percentage is up this year, from 50.7 to 53.4.

ACCEPTANCE, OF COURSE, is the challenge. Deploying virtual reality means developing new habits, and in that department the Wizards are at something of a disadvantage. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots have VR labs built into their facilities. The Wizards, meanwhile, have just one headset to share, and it’s not for everyone.

“It can really screw your mind up. I started bending down, trying not to fall and stuff. I was in the room, trying to figure out, like, ‘What is going on?'”

But Jackson’s tweet on Tuesday might have impeded those efforts.

Multiple prominent agents said on Tuesday afternoon that the way Jackson has handled Anthony would turn off their clients and others to the idea of signing with Jackson’s Knicks.
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Limited Youth Brandon Phillips Jersey For a team that has many holes to fill, that’s a problem — even if the new CBA will make it more difficult for opposing teams to lure free agents away from their present employer.

And another issue to consider is how this has had an impact on Porzingis, whose numbers are down recently. In the past five games, he’s averaging 15 points on 38-percent shooting, including 20 percent from beyond the arc.

C.J. Anderson and the Broncos’ run game struggled behind a shaky offensive line in 2016

Many NFL teams script their first 15 (or more) plays before a game starts to focus on getting a few fundamental concepts right. Whether they want to attack a particular defensive player or scheme, exploit a perceived weakness or simply drill down the elements they think are most critical to winning on offense, they pay particularly close attention to the plays they’ll start with on Sunday as they wrap up the week.
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Former Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd didn’t expect to get cut after he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and failure to obey a police officer in mid-December, he said Sunday in his first in-depth public comments about the incident and the subsequent fallout during an interview on ESPN Radio’s “Weekend Observations.”

Speaking with former Notre Dame teammate Mike Golic Jr. and Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, Floyd said he expected some sort of punishment to be coming from the Cardinals, but never thought the team would release him.

“It hurt actually,” Floyd said. “It sucked, but I knew something was going to happen, but I did not actually think I was going to get released at all.

C.J. Anderson and the Broncos’ run game struggled behind a shaky offensive line in 2016, but repairs are already underway.

Game Mens Xavier Rhodes Jersey “It does eat at me a bit — a lot,” said Kubiak, who stepped down after the season because of health reasons. “You’ve got a way of doing things, and it’s worked, it’s been productive, how you teach it, how you coach it. And I can tell you we worked as hard as you can work to fix it this season. And I’ve said that was just the biggest disappointment, but they’ve got a plan for that.”

2017 NHL trade rumors: 5 signs your favorite team is preparing for the trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is on March 1, so we¡¯re officially a month away from the busiest day of the regular season.

And that means silly season is here.
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Hache, 23, has split the 2016-17 campaign between Tucson (AHL) and the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL. The defenseman recorded one assist (0-1=1) in five AHL contests with Tucson and has earned nine points (2-7=9) in 21 contests with Rapid City. Hache (HAH-shay) has registered 21 points (2-19=21) in 138 career AHL contests with Portland, Springfield and Tucson.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound native of Bathurst, N. B. was originally selected by Arizona in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Limited Mens Shaun Alexander Jersey Ranford, 24, has recorded 17 points (6-11=17) in 36 games this season with Texas (AHL). The forward has posted 160 points (55-105=160) in 250 career AHL games, all as a member of the Texas Stars. Ranford also appeared in one NHL contest with Dallas.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound native of Edmonton, Alta. was originally selected by Philadelphia in the seventh round (209th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Troock, 22, has split the season between Texas (AHL) and the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. The forward has registered four points (0-4=4) in 10 AHL contests with Texas this season. He has also earned nine points (7-2=9) in 15 ECHL games with Idaho. Troock has recorded 30 points (9-21=30) in 98 career AHL contests all as a member of the Texas Stars.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound native of Edmonton, Alta. was originally selected by Dallas in the fifth round (134th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

There might still be one more way to smooth out the Steph/KD dynamic

There might still be one more way to smooth out the Steph/KD dynamic — and it’s the way many envisioned this season would go. The Warriors could, at some point, get the Steph/KD pick-and-roll going. Theoretically, this is an unstoppable play: two great shooters — one big, one small — forcing defenses to make impossible choices. In reality, it has gone poorly.

“It’s funny when you go through stuff on paper and it looks better than it does on the floor,” Kerr said when asked about a pick-and-roll involving his two best players. “Then there are other things that you don’t think would work and then you realize when you watch tape that it’s something that you got to do. There is plenty of that. As I said in training camp, we will be experimenting a lot and looking at a lot of different things. Those are all things that will come into play.”
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Jaromir Jagr Kids Jersey SO WHAT TO make of the Curry/KD pick-and-roll after watching the tape? This season, 56 Curry/KD pick-and-rolls have resulted in 54 points (nine of them off free throws) on 54 shots, with eight turnovers. In other words, not great.

An avalanche of injuries mixed with some dysfunction reversed the fortunes of a team that won 16 of 21 games between the start of 2015 and Week 5 of the 2016 season. The franchise appears to have transitioned at quarterback, out of necessity, from Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Bradford. But no matter who plays, the Vikings have what is likely a multiyear rebuilding project at offensive line. Bradford isn’t the type of quarterback who can thrive consistently without protection.

An overhaul of the offensive coaching staff, led by new coordinator Pat Shurmur, should better marry the team’s personnel scheme, and the Vikings remain strong from a personnel standpoint on defense. But there are still a ton of unanswered questions.

Tomlin challenged a bad spot on the Ravens’ return of the opening kickoff

Jeff Janis played exactly one snap in Sunday’s divisional playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys. With all the injuries the Packers have at receiver, that could change this week. A year ago, Janis became a household name after an unlikely playoff performance with seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the divisional playoff loss at Arizona.

Since then, he has largely fallen off the radar. He caught just 11 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown all season, but the lone touchdown came against the Falcons. With Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) all in danger of missing the game, it could be Janis’ time again.

Nobody has stopped Rodgers during the Packers’ eight-game winning streak, and why would the Falcons — with a defense that ranked 25th overall and 28th in passing yards allowed per game — be the team to even slow him down? During the winning streak, Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdowns and just one interception while completing 68.9 percent of his passes for an average of 298 yards per game. And he had success against the Falcons in October, when he threw four touchdowns without an interception.

Tomlin challenged a bad spot on the Ravens’ return of the opening kickoff, and while he was right, the ball moved only from the Baltimore 49-yard line to its 35-yard line. It was a modest gain with 56 minutes of time to challenge left. Later in the first quarter, the Ravens recovered a Ben Roethlisberger fumble for a touchdown on a close play Tomlin had to challenge. He lost and was then out of challenges with three quarters to go.

It would be wise for the Steelers to get aggressive with their two-point decisions in the hopes of creating an advantage against the Patriots. As the underdogs, they will have to take risks to try to win. It’s better to take that risk on a play worth two points with all of your offensive weapons on the field than it is on a fake punt or field goal.

Chinese team officials travel to the United States and Europe on aggressive scouting trips

That might sound extreme, but it gets at a greater truth: There likely won’t be another Marbury in China anytime soon.
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Elite Brendan Shanahan Jersey “He’s a hard worker, which I think is the most important thing,” said Beyer, who doesn’t represent Marbury but has worked with him in the past. “He is also an extreme competitor. You don’t really see that type of tenacity and anger [among other foreign players in China]. He puts all of his skills and physical dedication into the game.”

More and more American basketball players have been taking their talents to the Far East. We got a few of them to spill the beans on what it’s really like to hoop it up in China.

Inspired by his time in China, Stephon Marbury has revived his line of Starbury shoes, calling out Michael Jordan for overpricing his kicks and LeBron James for being a follower.

If the goal is for the Bulls to win games now, they haven’t achieved that with the current roster. They are winning just enough to stay in range for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot but not enough to generate much hope for the future.

If the goal was for younger players to learn along the way, that hasn’t been accomplished as much as it could have been, either. Rondo, who was 0-for-4 in 23 minutes on Tuesday, continues to block a spot in the rotation for Denzel Valentine and Jerian Grant. Valentine didn’t even see the court on Tuesday, despite the fact that Hoiberg played 11 guys.

Wade has helped the Bulls’ organization in many areas on and off the floor this season, but he doesn’t figure to be part of this team’s long-term future. On his 35th birthday, Wade sounded like a man content to ride out the next year and a half (he has a player option for next season), enjoying life in his hometown — even if that doesn’t equate to many wins.

“This is who we is right now,” Wade said. “We’re halfway through the season. We’re now 21-22. We’ve been going through this all year. I’m too old to be getting stressed out and frustrated with all this. So we’ll get back in here [Wednesday] and the next two days and try to figure out how to get a win on the road.”