Stony Brook now has a man in the middle

Stony Brook now has a man in the middle

NEW YORK (AP) Stony Brook senior Tommy Brenton has one season left to make the NCAA tournament so he's making freshman Jameel Warney hurry up and help.

Brenton, a 6-foot-5 forward, is one of those players who fills every column in the stat sheet and is one of those players whom every coach wants on his team.

Warney, a 6-8 forward, has had a great start to his college career, something Brenton is hurrying along.

``I kind of gave Jameel the summer to be a freshman,'' said Brenton, who became the school's all-time leading rebounder last week. ``Once the preseason started, he was a sophomore. Hopefully by conference play he'll be a junior and then at the championship he'll be a senior. You've got to grow up quick here. I'm not letting him be a freshman and make those mistakes.''

Warney hasn't made many. The native of Plainfield, N.J., has started all nine games for the Seawolves (7-2) this season, averaging 11.3 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 61.5 percent (40 of 65) from the field.

He sounds like he wants to take advantage of having four seniors and four juniors to learn from. They all were on the Stony Brook team that lost to Vermont - at home - in the America East championship game last March.

``It's a learning experience every day,'' Warney said. ``Learning from Tommy, Dave (Coley), the upperclassmen, how to play hard every possession. At the start of the season I was nervous, but these guys, they're composed so it forces me to be composed about everything I do.''

Warney doesn't play like a freshman, something coach Steve Pikiell expected when he recruited the 255-pounder.

``The day he signed the national letter of intent I was comfortable with him. He's a real good player. He's got great hands. He's a terrific passer and he's got a nice temperament about him for a freshman,'' Pikiell said. ``And he's a worker, so I'm real pleased with that because you never know that when you get a kid out of high school. He watches film, he tries to improve. . We threw him right to the wolves and that's the way it is. I told him that when I recruited him. He's done a great job.''

Warney started right away and had eight points and five rebounds in the opening win over Marist. In Game 2, against Mount Ida, Warney made all eight of his field goal attempts - a school record - and pulled down nine rebounds.

``After the first game, I said that I'm going to be a contributor to this team,'' Warney said. ``Even though I'm a freshman, I can help in big ways.''

His first double-double was a 19-point, 11-rebound effort against Cornell. He's starting to steal the seniors' spotlight and they are fine with that.

``He's growing. He's getting better and better as each game goes on,'' Coley said. ``It's good to have someone like him down low.''

Pikiell was Jim Calhoun's first captain at Connecticut. The Seawolves played the Huskies pretty tough last month, leading 33-26 in the second half before falling to a UConn 3-point barrage, 73-62. There was no talk of moral victories after the game. Maybe it's Warney who has helped sharpen the Seawolves' attitude.

``When he touches it, he can score. I feel great about it because people are going to double-team him and he's the best passer on our team,'' Pikiell said. ``He's a tough matchup for people and his game is evolving.''

Kirk Cousins is comfortable taking 'ownership' of Redskins' offense now

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Kirk Cousins is comfortable taking 'ownership' of Redskins' offense now

A year ago at this time, Robert Griffin III was the Redskins’ starting quarterback and Kirk Cousins was an afterthought, relagated to taking second and even third team reps.

Now, Cousins is The Man in Ashburn. And it’s changed everything, especially how he leads in the huddle, team meetings and the locker room.    

“Well, you have permission now to take ownership,” Cousins said Wednesday after the second of 10 OTAs practices at Redskins Park. “As a backup or as a guy competing for the spot, it doesn’t get received really well when you start to try to take ownership. It looks like you’re trying to jockey for the position and be one of those guys. You just try to handle it the right way.”

Last offseason, Griffin received all of the first team reps throughout the spring and summer, while Cousins and Colt McCoy split the second and third team snaps. In fact, Jay Gruden didn’t hand Cousins the keys until late August. 

This offseason, it's all different. Griffin is gone and Cousins is coming off a record-breaking season. And, if Cousins doesn’t sign a long-term deal in the coming weeks, he'll play for almost $20 million in 2016. Either way, Cousins is expected to be the highest paid player on the team...in addition to being the most important player on the team.

“Now as the starter, you really can take ownership,” Cousins continued. “And it feels like it did back in college when you were the starting quarterback and you had the chance to really assert yourself.”

Cousins added: “I enjoy being able to do that, and I think it helps me as a quarterback to have ownership because at the end of the day, I’m the one holding the football in my hands.”

Daniel Murphy owns up to costly error after loss to Mets

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Daniel Murphy owns up to costly error after loss to Mets

The margin for error is always going to be slim when you're facing your most closely-matched division rival and when they've got a pitcher as lethal as lefty Steven Matz on the mound, and on Wednesday it was a mistake by Daniel Murphy at second base that loomed large in a 2-0 Nationals loss to the New York Mets.

With the Nats down a run in the seventh inning and Mets infielder Matt Reynolds on first base, first baseman Eric Campbell smacked a hard groundball to Murphy at second. It shot up to the left of his glove and through his legs into center field.

That put runners on the corners with one out and set up an RBI single to left field by Mets catcher Rene Rivera. The score was then 2-0 and that would hold until the final out was made.

After the game Murphy brought up his mistake on his own when asked an unrelated question. 

"I misplayed another groundball, which just needs to stop happening. I just need to work harder on that," Murphy said of his team-high fifth error of the season.

Murphy came to the Nats with a reputation for subpar defensive play and this was the most obvious case so far of it affecting the outcome of a game. Though the Nats didn't score any runs on the day, Murphy explained how he thinks his mistake altered the momentum and scope of the contest.

"I think it was a double play ball and [Tanner Roark] should have gotten out of the inning. Then it was 2-0 and it just changes our approach from an offensive perspective," he said.

Murphy was asked if the ball took a bad bounce and he declined to go there, instead referring to the sequence as a "bad play by me."

His manager, Dusty Baker, didn't fault Murphy for the loss and instead focused on the dominant performance by Mets starter Steven Matz.

"Errors are part of the game," Baker said.

Baker, of course, can live with the occasional error as long as Murphy is atop the majors with a .394 batting average. Murphy's OPS is 1.043 and he's on pace for a career-high in homers. He's been as important to the Nationals' first-place start through 47 games as anybody.

Murphy knows defense is an area of game that needs improvement and Baker is not too concerned about it at this point.

"Murph works hard at it, he works very hard and he takes it hard when he doesn't make the plays," Baker said.

No brawl, just competition between Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins

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No brawl, just competition between Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins

Before the public knew him as the NFL's best cornerback of the 2015 season, Josh Norman was best known for getting in a scuffle with quarterback Cam Newton at the Carolina Panthers training camp last August.

While it's crystal clear that Norman brought his gift of the gab from Charlotte to Washington, D.C., a potential dustup between the brash cornerback and star quarterback Kirk Cousins is probably not on the horizon.

"Well, you know, " Norman said with great laughter following Wednesday's OTA. "What can I say? Kirk and I are just a little bit different."

The dust up between Newton and he was all the talk of 2015 training camp, and while it looked bad on the surface, it wasn't much more than two incredibly competitive players, both of whom also enjoy talking smack, refusing to back down. 

The dynamic between he and Cousins is different. Not bad or not positive, just not what it was with Newton.

"There are limits to my madness," Norman said, again, with a great big smile across his face. "But, umm... yeah I think it will be just a bit better," Norman quipped, with the entire group of reporters and personnel laughing. Kirk's my guy. He's great."

But that's not to say Cousins isn't going to make it a competition.

Norman noted that the quarterback was a bit more lively under center on Wednesday, throwing playful jabs at the defense.

 "I was like, 'I don't want to go there yet. I want to be cool,'" Norman said, smile always present. "He looked away a couple times and he didn't throw no balls so I got a little jubilant, ya know? I was like, 'alright, what are you gonna do about it?' Just a little competition."

"I think, on the last play with the ones, he threw a ball, and completed it, and Kirk got all excited again. I was like 'Kirk, I'm gonna whoop y'all butt today."

While no one wants to see teammates fight, Norman brings a level of competitiveness the Redskins can definitely use. While the scuffle with Newton was a hot-button issue, the fact remains that the Panthers' team chemistry was as good as it ever was. The team's cohesiveness was one of the main reasons the Panthers were in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50.

Norman is hoping he can provide competition needed to take the Redskins to the next level, albeit without a fight. 

"It's all fun and games," Norman said to media members.

"We make each other better. We just have to keep challenging each other."

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