Venus, Kastles advance to WTT finals

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Venus, Kastles advance to WTT finals

CHARLESTON, S.C. September 15, 2012 Defending World TeamTennis champions Washington Kastles defeated their arch-rival, the New York Sportimes, 19-15 in the WTT Eastern Conference final, propelling the team into Sundays championship match for the second consecutive year and extending the teams historic win streak to 31 matches.

With the match tied and one set remaining, four-time Olympic gold medalist Venus Williams blasted her way past Ashley Harkleroad 5-1 in women's singles to clinch a spot for the Kastles in the WTT Finals for the third time in four years.

Weve been in this situation before and we knew how to win. There was a lot of pressure on us, but we just knew we had to put the ball in play and go for the shot, said Venus Williams. It shows why we are a great team.

The arch-rival Sportimes had been the Kastles toughest opponent during the regular season, including a thrilling 21-20 Washington win on July 21, when Venus Williams rallied from six games down in the final set to complete the franchise's largest comeback ever.

Next up is the Western Conference champion Sacramento Capitals. They defeated the Orange County Breakers 25-15 on Friday to advance to the WTT championship match. The Kastles defeated Sacramento 21-19 on July 18.

In posting 31 straight victories, the Kastles have the second-longest winning streak in major U.S. professional sports history and are within range of the 33-game streak by the NBAs 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers. They have already passed the respective records of 17 straight wins set by the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992-1993, 21 straight wins by the NFLs New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and 26 wins by the 1916 MLB New York Giants.

This years 14-0 regular season by the Kastles marked the first time in major U.S. professional sports history in which a team has had consecutive unbeaten regular seasons. Last season, in addition to winning a second WTT title in three years, the Kastles posted a perfect 16-0 record a first in WTT history.

Kastles closer Bobby Reynolds was named the 2012 WTT Male Most Valuable Player. Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen was selected as 2012 Coach of the Year, the second straight season he has won that honor.

The 37th WTT regular season ran July 9-28. The championship is being played this year in September to accommodate players who participated in the Olympics and US Open.

What They're Saying: Reactions to Jaguars drafting Terps' Ngakoue

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What They're Saying: Reactions to Jaguars drafting Terps' Ngakoue

With the 69th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Maryland pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue. He was the second Maryland player taken on Friday night, along with defensive back Sean Davis to the Steelers, and for the Jaguars was the third straight defensive player selected.

Pair Ngakoue with first-round DB Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and possible second-round steal Myles Jack, and Jacksonville has already put together a formidable draft class.

What are people saying nationally about the Ngakoue pick? Take a look below.

Mike DiRocco, ESPN.com:

"The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Ngakoue is a scheme fit who will start off as a designated pass-rusher. He needs improvement against the run and has to work on keeping his weight up. Still, he’s an upgrade at the position."

BigCatCountry.com, SBNation:

"As for fitting with the Jaguars, they seemed to be set on finding somebody who is more of a situational pass rusher than they are finding a true every-down LEO. Their interest in Ngakoue makes sense in the regard that he can step in and be able to contribute right away."

John Oehser, Jaguars.com:

"The Jaguars addressed the edge late Friday. They did because they needed to, but more than that, they did it because the right player was available at the right time."

Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com:

Shane Davis, Cover32.com:

"Ngakoue will contribute as a pass-rusher immediately, playing mostly the LEO position and coming in on third downs. General manager Dave Caldwell raved about Ngakoue’s first step quickness in his press conference with the media on Friday night."

Mike Kaye, First Coast News:

"He decided leave Maryland early and the Jaguars jumped at the chance to add him. [GM Dave] Caldwell said he considered taking Ngakoue as early as the second round, but again, stayed patient and reaped the benefits."

Analyst gives Steelers 'A+' grade for drafting Maryland's Davis

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Analyst gives Steelers 'A+' grade for drafting Maryland's Davis

Maryland defensive back Sean Davis was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 58 overall pick in thte 2016 NFL Draft on Friday night. Among those reacting to the selection was CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, who grades each pick as the draft progress.

Safe to say Prisco was a fan.

"Love this pick. Love this kid," he would go on to write in a post later. "The Steelers get a safety with range who can cover and tackle. Secondary is fixed."

Davis, in talking to CSN on Friday night, said that he was surprised to a certain extent that Pittsburgh would select him after the Steelers took defensive back Artie Burns from Miami in the first round. 

But Burns can in at corner and Davis can slot in at safety, so the fit is there. 

"I kind of thought it was over. I didn't expect them to pick me up. I guess they're trying to do something special back there," he said with a smile. "It's crazy."

Davis had a relationship with the team prior to the draft, though. He spoke with representatives at both the NFL Combine and the Senior Bowl. 

Had he not been taken where he was taken, it was unlikely that he would have slipped much more. The New England Patriots sat at picks 60 and 61 and had long been intrigued by Davis. 

New England would end up taking Alabama defensive back Cyrus Jones at 60 and trading pick No. 61.

Ravens have not drafted a cornerback in first three rounds since 2011

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Ravens have not drafted a cornerback in first three rounds since 2011

You would expect the Ravens to draft a cornerback at some point Saturday, but even if they do, it might be too late.

The Ravens didn’t draft a cornerback in the first three rounds, the fifth straight year that has happened. Fifteen cornerbacks went off the board in Rounds 1 through 3, but none of them went to the Ravens.

Their last high draft pick at corner was Jimmy Smith, a first-round pick in 2011. Since 2013, the Ravens have only drafted three corners -- the late Tray Walker (2015), Marc Anthony (2013), and Asa Jackson (2012).

At a position that is vitally important, the Ravens have not been very active in the draft. Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta defended that fact Friday night, and still believed the Ravens could find a quality cornerback Saturday.

“I think we will,” DeCosta said Friday night. “You need a little luck sometimes, and it depends on the board, but there’s still a lot of good players at that position and other positions. The challenge for us will be to find those guys.”

Cornerbacks the Ravens could target include Juston Burris of N. C. State, Rashard Robinson of LSU, Zack Sanchez of Oklahoma, D. J. White of Georgia Tech, and Tavon Young of Temple.

But if cornerback play becomes an issue for the Ravens next season, they may look at this draft as another missed opportunity to improve at that position.