Len, Allen power Terps past LIU

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Len, Allen power Terps past LIU

One of the most important jobs any Division One coaching staff has is in putting its schedule together. The process is a lot more art than science and entails projecting what kind of team you expect to have in a distant two or three years.

My guess is that Mark Turgeon could never have imagined the dramatic improvement in his program over the course of a single year when he and his staff put this year’s schedule together. If they had, then we might actually be seeing a different approach to the one we will see over the next six weeks. While there is certainly a fair share of challenges, what the current schedule will allow the Maryland coach to do is to continue to integrate and assimilate all of the new parts in his program.

It won’t always be pretty.

Tonight Maryland’s depth and size eventually pummeled the Long Island University Blackbirds into submission before a crowd of 13,000 at Comcast Center. The deceptive final score of 91-74 probably doesn’t reflect the efforts of a Blackbird team that found itself down by only seven points late in the second half. Even with that, one of the enduring lessons that come out of games like this is that there are an awful lot of teams on the Terps schedule this year that are going to have similar struggles with that same size and depth.

For the most part, the results from tonight’s game were positive. Sophomore center Alex Len continues to look like a different man than the guy we saw last year and finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Better than that is how active he is on the defensive end. He blocks plenty of shots and influences twice as many as he blocks.

Sophomore Dez Wells played his best game of the season by far and pitched in 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks while playing three different positions in 33 minutes. After the game, Wells made an interesting admission about his performance in the season opener against Kentucky. When he was asked about his struggles in that game he said, “I was caught up in something I didn’t understand and something I couldn’t control. After I was declared eligible I didn’t have the chance to think about it and pray on it and it cost me in that first game.”

He went on to say that it was a conversation he had with Turgeon the afternoon of the game that changed his approach. Turgeon simply reminded him that he had plenty of good players around him and there was no need for him to feel like he had to be The Man at every turn.

Maryland’s one-two punch at point guard – junior Pe’Shon Howard and freshman Seth Allen- both excelled in different ways. Howard was almost flawless running the point and had 13 assists and committed just one turnover. Consider the second half he cobbled together: he hit is only three point attempt, made each of his two free throw attempts and had 9 assists and no turnovers. You simply cannot play the position a whole lot better than that.

Allen excelled but it may have been at the expense of a Terp who struggled. When sophomore wing Nick Faust endured a completely forgettable first half going 1-6 with 2 turnovers and a host of bad decisions he left Turgeon with little choice but to try some alternatives in the second half. Freshman Jake Layman started in Faust’s spot but it was Allen who played like he didn’t want to give it back. He shot 5-6 from the three point line (7-10 overall) and finished with 19 points with 4 assists and only one turnover.

Seventeen assists and two turnovers from your primary ballhandlers? Take it and run.

Faust wasn’t the only one who struggled in this game. Big men James Padgett and Charles Mitchell each had problem covering the mobile Blackbird big men and also had turnover issues.

Each of the three came back to make important contributions to the 52-point second half Maryland was able to fashion.

The run of non-conference games continues on Tuesday night against the Lafayette Leopards at Comcast Center. The Patriot League opponent features a wiley coach and a three point attack. More importantly it offers another chance for a young team to continue to get better.

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Trade? What trade? Jay Gruden 'fully anticipates' Kirk Cousins to be Redskins QB

Trade? What trade? Jay Gruden 'fully anticipates' Kirk Cousins to be Redskins QB

If there's anybody at Redskins Park that Kirk Cousins owes, it's Jay Gruden. The head coach put his faith in Cousins two seasons ago, naming him the starting quarterback for the 2015 season, and largely the results have been strong. 

In two seasons with Cousins at the helm, the 'Skins have a 17-14-1 record and have piled up more than 9,000 passing yards, breaking numerous franchise records in the process. While their success hasn't been tremendous, the duo of Gruden and Cousins has put the Burgundy and Gold in a competitive position for the future.

Assuming the Redskins keep their quarterback. 

"We’d like to keep Kirk here obviously," the coach said to reporters in Indianapolis. "We think he’s going to be our quarterback for a long time."

As of now, the Redskins offered Cousins a guaranteed $24 million contract for 2017. The team and representatives for the QB are expected to talk about a long-term deal while at the Scouting Combine, and in January, Redskins president Bruce Allen said he expects to get a long-term deal done.

"It's very important to have your quarterback in place. We know how important that is in pro football," Gruden said. "We see his progress, we see the progress thats he’s going to make, we're excited about that." 

In 2015 Cousins threw for 4,166 yards starting 16 games. In 2016, Cousins threw for 4,917 yards starting 16 games. That's discernible progress. 

"We do like where he’s going with his game."

Gruden liking Cousins' game is the obvious part. The much harder part, however, is getting a deal done. 

"Both parties have to come up with something. We could offer [Cousins] the world but if he doesn’t want to sign it he doesn’t have to sign it," the coach said.

It's interesting that Gruden suggested it's up to Cousins to accept an offer. Some might argue it's up to the Redskins to make a realistic offer, something that didn't happen during this same contract dance in 2016.

Regardless, those decisions are not up to Gruden.

"I leave all those tags up to Bruce and obviously Scott."

Asked why the organization went with the exclusive franchise tag over the non-exclusive tag it used last year, Gruden joked, "it’s got a cooler name to it."

The actuality is the exclusive tag lets the Redskins control the proceedings, and perhaps, shows Cousins they are serious about getting a deal done. 

"I think it will happen. I really do. I'm gonna coach the players that are here and I fully anticipate Kirk to be the quarterback."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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2017 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker: Latest rumors, trades and news

2017 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker: Latest rumors, trades and news

The 2017 NHL Trade Deadline takes place on Wednesday, March 1 which means the news cycle and rumor mill is racing to the finish line.

The Capitals were one of many teams to make a pre-deadline deal and are still one of the teams that could make yet another trade before the 3:00 p.m. cutoff in order to make any last-minute trades that will help them bolster their roster as the playoffs approach.

Follow along with our trade tracker as we update with the latest breaking news regarding players being traded to new destinations as teams prepare for the NHL playoff race.

RELATED: POSSIBLE CAPITALS' TRADE DEADLINE TARGETS

2017 NHL TRADE DEADLINE TRACKER

March 1: The Detroit Red Wings continue to stay busy. This time they are reportedly trading F Steve Ott to the Montreal Canadiens for a 2018 sixth-round pick.

Feb. 28: The Montreal Canadiens are another active team at the deadline. They are reportedly trading F David Desharnais to the Edmonton Oilers for D Brandon Davidson.

Feb. 28: Defenseman Johnny Oduya is headed back to the Chicago Blackhawks. He is being traded from the Dallas Stars for F Mark McNeill and a 2018 conditional fourth-round pick.

Feb. 28: The New York Rangers did not stop there, reportedly trading D Mat Bodie to the Buffalo Sabres for F Daniel Catenacci.

Feb. 28: Defenseman Brendan Smith was reportedly traded from the Detroit Red Wings to the New York Rangers. Detroit will receive a 2017 third-round pick and a 2018 second-round pick.

Feb. 27: The Washington Capitals added what many believe to be the final piece to the puzzle, acquiring D Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues. The Capitals also recieved G Phoenix Copely in exchange for forwards Zach Sanford and Brad Malone, along with a 2017 first-round pick. 

Feb. 27: The Vancouver Canucks trade F Alex Burrows to the Ottawa Senators for F Jonathan Dahlen.

Feb. 27: Defenseman Jordie Benn was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Montreal Canadiens for D Greg Pateryn and a 2017 fourth-round pick.

Feb. 27: The Tampa Bay Lighting, three spots out of the final playoff spot in the East, made yet another trade. Forward Brian Boyle is headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs for F Byron Froese and a 2017 conditional second-round pick.

Feb. 27: The Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes went back to the bargaining table. Arizona gets F Teemu Pulkkinen while the Wild receieve future considerations in return.

Feb. 26: Forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, along with a 2017 fourth-round pick were dealt from the Arizona Coyotes to the Minnesota Wild for F Grayson Downing and three draft picks, a 2017 first-round pick, a 2018 second-round pick and a 2019 conditional pick.

Feb. 25: The Tampa Bay Lightning made the first big trade of the week, dealing Ben Bishop, the franchise's all-time saves leader, and a 2017 fifth-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for G Peter Budaj, D Eric Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and a conditional 2017 NHL Draft pick.

Feb. 24: Tomas Jurco was dealt from the Detroit Red Wings to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2017 third-round pick.

Feb. 23: The Carolina Hurricanes trade D Ron Hainsey to the Pittsburgh Penguins for F Danny Kristo and a 2017 second-round pick.

RELATED: UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS