#Pray4Nene

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Pray4Nene

By William Beal

Right off the bat, allow me to apologize, because I feel personally responsible for the latest spat of plantar fasciitis to afflict poor Nene.  The last time you heard from me, I pondered that DeJuan Blair may be kept on the roster simply for if/when Nene got hurt.  Why I thought I could tempt the injury gods in such a way is beyond me, and I’ll be kicking myself until his return.

The Brazilian big man has missed five straight games since aggravating the reoccurring right foot injury in the game against the Bucks on November 22.

The Wizards looked to be heading down the typical road of Nene-less basketball, dropping the first two games he missed, but have since gone on to win three straight.

In 11 games this year, Nene has only averaged 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds, but his meaningfulness as a veteran leader, skills as a passer, and elite boxing-out talents are missed greatly.

So how have the Wiz managed to stay afloat in Nene’s absence?  Well, much to my chagrin, not because of DeJuan Blair, who has only seen garbage time minutes in two games since the injury.

Kris Humphries has slid into the starting role with Drew Gooden now the backup.  Humphries has continued to display his midrange skill, also grabbing a whopping 20 rebounds against the Lakers.

Randy Wittman has also gotten a little creative, experimenting with a lineup that has Rasual Butler as a stretch-4 in limited minutes.

So for now, trudge on through the times without our spiritual leader, Brazilian Confucius, Wizards fans.  And most importantly, don’t forget to #Pray4Nene.

IndyCar Rumor Mill: Alexander Rossi

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By Parker Smith

Here we are, the silly season. It’s the hot stove edition as I feature the best driver who is creating the biggest rumor for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Tis the season for a 23 year-old California Kid who has F1 experience… six years of it.

This American climbed the racing ladder in Europe. He has been overseas since 2008, and he is only 23 years old! From Formula Renault, to GP3 and GP2 all the way to competing in (Free) Practice 1 in the United States Grand Prix, Rossi was in command to drive for Caterham in the 2015 Formula One season. Then, Caterham found out they are bankrupt, so that has left Rossi out of an opportunity to pilot an F1 car. Now Rossi has set his sights on landing an IndyCar ride for 2015.

“For 2015, I’m very excited about the prospects in IndyCar, and I’m not the first person to say it’s some of the best racing on the planet. It’s something I’m working to make happen every day, and I’m looking forward to being part of a successful campaign.” Rossi said in an interview on IndyCar.com Monday.

“I want to be in a competitive car, and after coming up the European ladder and being able to win races in all the championships I competed in, I feel I’m ready to do the job at home and compete straight away.”

This California Kid could land a seat Andretti Autosport or Chip Ganassi after meeting with them two weeks ago. Believe me, he is the real deal and he will make an impact in his first year in the cockpit because of his road racing ability and talent. He has raced with the best in the world, he is a young American who has won in Europe, and he is a competitor. IndyCar will see him take the series by storm come March.

Playoff Poll Watch: Week Five

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By Ben Sieck

I would not want to be a Baylor Bears fan right now.

Your team beat the No. 3 team in the nation, and you have an identical record, yet somehow the Bears are ranked sixth.

If that is not enough, your conference just changed the rules midseason to allow the team you beat the chance to be co-champs of the Big 12.

No wonder they hired a public relations firm. The college football world seems to be conspiring against their playoff chances.

For the Bears to get in, they need to beat No. 9 Kansas State, and hope two of Alabama, Oregon, TCU, Florida State and Ohio State lose this weekend.

This is not quite as dire as 2004 Auburn, but that’s brutal nonetheless.

The good news is, the way this season has gone, that scenario might very well happen.

The other big news of the night was Florida State, the lone unbeaten team in college football, dropped down to No. 4 in the committee rankings.

If the Seminoles beat No. 11 Georgia Tech, they’ll get in, but I love the committee’s approach. This might be the most underwhelming 12-0 season ever — Florida State should get their shot if they go 13-0 — but they shouldn’t get any favors for barely escaping defeat every week.

Monday Night Features

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Now that the holiday break has come to a close and the work grind is back in full force, here are three articles to read during the commercial breaks of the Dolphins vs. Jets game tonight.

1. “Excuse me,” I say to the usher whose nameplate identifies him as ‘Cleveland.’ “Did you play basketball?” Cleveland Harp peers down at me. He smiles. Then he puts a finger to his throat and tells me a story.

He’s an imposing figure, who doesn’t say much–not by choice, but because he can’t. People have asked him whether he has hit the hardwood before, and he’s lied. Until Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel got the real answer out of him. This poignant, fascinating is well worth the read. Doyel’s ability to get perspective out of this man who can barely speak, as well as those who pass by him on a daily basis, makes this piece one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

2. “We don’t do this for the money. We do this because the very first time we got on a bull—the first time we got bucked off and hit the ground and got up—right there we knew that this is what we were meant to be doing.”

This is what a trainer told a group of eight-year-old boys before they got on top of a raging, fierce animal that could kill them at any second. This piece from the New Yorker tells the fascinating tale of a group of children who are embarking on the journey of a lifetime—or, maybe more aptly put, the thrill of a lifetime. That journey? Bullfighting. This piece is lengthy, but eye-opening and thought provoking.

3. “A disaster. A miracle. The face in the window, the falling star. In Gordo, still awash in condolences, Anthony Pruitt sees his team lose the Iron Bowl on a fourth missed field goal and a 109-yard return with no time on the clock.”

On the week anniversary of one of the most memorable Iron Bowls in history, Sports Illustrated writer Thomas Lake takes a look at the game from a unique perspective–that is, through the eyes of Anthony Pruitt. Pruitt is a lifelong Alabama fan. Pruitt suffers a myriad of losses on this day, the greatest of which do not come close to the turf and pylon. A touching, albeit grave reminder, that life is more than sports.

Winston throws 4 interceptions in Florida State victory

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This Saturday in Tallahassee, Florida, the Florida State Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators 24-19.

Winston being the first player in the FBS this season to throw 3 interceptions in the first quarter, also set a new mark this year by being the first quarterback to win while throwing 4 interceptions in a game.

Winston was under duress the entire game as he completed just 12/24 passes for 125 yards.

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Behind true freshman running back Dalvin Cook’s 144 yard performance, the Seminoles managed to claw their way back from a 9-0 deficit.

The momentum swung in the Seminoles direction when senior linebacker Terrance Smith intercepted Florida quarterback Treon Harris, and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the first quarter.

Florida’s Harris also struggled in the game, completing 13/32 passes for 169 yards and 2 interceptions.

Florida State would score the next 14 points by a pair of Nick O’Leary receiving scores.

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The Seminoles finish the regular season unscathed at 12-0 and will face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Butler beats down Loyola Maryland

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Written by: Marko Tomich

Dominating, the single word to describe Butler and freshman Kelan Martin’s game against the Loyola Maryland in an 80-39 rout. The Bulldogs are 3-0 on the season and look right on schedule even with interim head coach Chris Holtmann stepping in for Brandon Miller.

Martin is a pure-bred scorer from Louisville, Ky., that can hurt you from a variety of ways, which Loyola found out quickly. Martin entered the game with Butler trailing by two and the Bulldogs never looked back.

Martin recorded an assist, steal and three pointer in his first two possessions early in the first half.

Martin was three of three from behind the arc, snagged five rebounds, and tossed two assists on his way to 13 points all in the first half.

Butler’s defense turned up the pressure forcing nine first half turnovers and held Loyola to just 29 percent from the field and a measly 22 percent behind the arc.

Butler went to the locker room with a 42-18 point lead, for those of you keeping track at home Martin trailed Loyola by only five at half.

Butler continued its prolific offensive performance that included 40 points in the paint and converted 37 points off of turnovers.

Loyola’s bright spot was Eric Laster who seemed to be the only player that could find himself in an offensive grove. Laster finished with 24 points hitting four of his six three point attempts.

The bench was the big difference in the match. Butler’s bench outscored their opponent 39-0. Loyola’s bench went a combined 0-18 from the field.

Roosevelt Jones continues his stat-stuffing year finishing the game with 10 points, six assist, and four steals. Butler sure did miss his toughness and all around play last year.

Butler will be traveling to the Bahamas for their next game, as they will be in the Battle 4 Atlantis Thanks giving tournament. Butler will square off with North Carolina in their first match.

The Dawgs walked away with a win last time these two met in a Thanks giving tournament, 2012 Maui Invitational, then freshman Kellen Dunham had 17 points.

Where is DeJuan Blair?

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dBlairWiz

By William Beal

After acquiring DeJuan Blair in a sign-and-trade this offseason with the Dallas Mavericks, many people thought that he could be a great contribution to the Wizards front court depth.

Blair was excited about joining the team, but after after appearing in only three games so far, for a total of 11 minutes, people are wondering what is going on.

Front court depth was a problem for the Wizards last season, and they addressed it in the offseason. They resigned Kevin Seraphin and Drew Gooden, also bringing in Kris Humphries and Blair on free agent deals.

The problem for Blair is that he is at the back of this rotation, and all of the guys in front of him, including starters Nene and Marcin Gortat, are playing very well.

There has been no news of an injury for Blair, so his lack of playing time is disappointing after his nice performance against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs last season.

There have already been speculations about what the Wizards should do with Blair, but it seems likely that they will keep him, mostly as an insurance policy for Nene, who routinely misses a stretch of 20 games every season due to injury.

It is possible that Blair may just not have gelled with the team in practices yet, and that as he does, he works his way into the rotation.  It is also possible that somebody in front of him in the rotation stumbles a little bit and he works himself into the rotation that way.

One thing that is good to see is that he hasn’t publicly voiced his displeasure about his role with the team. This may bode well for his future on the team, but, for now, a proven rotation big continues to waste away on the bench.