INDIANA BOYS BASKETBALL

TUESDAY’ S GAMES
Argos35Trinity Greenlawn20 
Barr-Reeve53Orleans42 
Bethesda Christian69Horizon Christian45 
Blue River64Southern Wells50 
Boone Grove66Washington Twp.65 
Bremen53Penn52 
Central Noble56Wawasee21 
Charlestown84Crothersville57 
Christian Academy64Whitefield Academy (Ky.)15 
Churubusco109Elkhart Christian59 
Columbus Christian69Medora34 
Columbus North58Columbus East49 
DeKalb71Heritage40 
East Noble61Westview55 
Edinburgh71Crosspointe Christian42 
Evansville Mater Dei67Gibson Southern62 
Evansville Reitz79Jasper60 
Forest Park54Tell City47 
Fort Wayne Wayne66Woodlan54 
Franklin78Indianapolis Metropolitan44 
Gary West54Calumet36 
Hamilton Heights60Lebanon33 
Heritage Christian65Tri-West61 
Hobart43Griffith37 
Indianapolis Chatard63Beech Grove47 
Indianapolis Shortridge84Providence Cristo Rey45 
Indianapolis Washington80Traders Point Christian31 
Jeffersonville73Evansville North57 
John Glenn65South Bend Clay58 
LaPorte53Lowell51 
LaVille58Tippecanoe Valley48 
Lafayette Jeff79Fishers60 
Leo74Fort Wayne Canterbury33 
Maconaquah57Wabash50 
Marquette Catholic61Goshen47 
Michigan City59Plymouth50 
Mishawaka60Elkhart55 
Mooresville53Decatur Central33 
Munster66East Chicago Central39 
New Haven78Fort Wayne Snider72 
New Prairie83NorthWood71 
Noblesville63Pike62 
North Putnam62Northview46 
Parkway (Ohio)69Adams Central41 
Peru56North Miami33 
Princeton48Evansville Central44 
Purdue Poly Englewood93Indianapolis International77 
Rochester40Winamac32 
Rock Creek Academy75Corydon Central68 
Seton Catholic, Moynihan 23p-18r Casper 10p-13r73Union County68 
South Adams69Lakewood Park59 
Southwestern (Hanover)61Providence53 
Sullivan68North Knox59 
Taylor61Delphi35 
Thrival Indy Academy69Indianapolis Riverside50 
Twin Lakes69Rensselaer Central42 
West Vigo60Riverton Parke39 
Westfield63Mount Vernon (Fortville)51 
Whiteland72Franklin Central69OT
Greene County Invitational
North Central (Farmersburg)49Shakamak45 
Linton-Stockton66South Putnam18 

GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

TUESDAY’ S GAMES
Andrean77Hammond Noll70 
Barr-Reeve47Washington Catholic16 
Bedford North Lawrence80Bloomington North26 
Ben Davis52Perry Meridian33 
Blackford37Madison-Grant27 
Bloomfield41Owen Valley38 
Blue River70Eastern Hancock49 
Brown County63Hauser33 
Carroll (Fort Wayne)73Norwell60 
Central Noble55Wawasee33 
Clarksville31Shawe Memorial24 
Clinton Central64Covington48 
Columbia City64Churubusco21 
Concord55John Glenn54 
Covenant Christian64Indianapolis Tindley39 
East Central48Greensburg34 
Eastbrook49Delta34 
Eastside36DeKalb33 
Faith Christian40Rossville26 
Floyd Central48New Washington22 
Forest Park56Northeast Dubois48 
Fort Wayne Concordia50Jay County36 
Fort Wayne Northrop52Heritage50 
Fountain Central49Western Boone37 
Franklin30Center Grove29 
Fremont54Elkhart Christian23 
Garrett37Fairfield35 
Gibson Southern54Mount Vernon (Posey)34 
Greencastle49Clay City20 
Guerin Catholic52Shelbyville47 
Hammond Morton42Hobart32 
Hebron32West Central17 
Heritage Hills55Pike Central24 
Highland34Lowell27 
Indian Creek46Southport42 
Indiana Deaf41Indianapolis Herron30 
Indianapolis Attucks67Indianapolis Washington21 
Indianapolis HomeSchool69Mitchell64 
Jennings County53New Albany40 
Kokomo52Marion19 
Kouts58Covenant Christian (DeMotte)49 
LaPorte55South Bend Riley28 
Lafayette Jeff54Logansport46 
Lake Central51Kankakee Valley35 
Lakeland Christian33South Bend Career8 
Lakewood Park51Bethany Christian46 
Lanesville90South Central (Elizabeth)25 
Lewis Cass36Oak Hill29 
Linton-Stockton67Sullivan33 
Loogootee80Shoals29 
Madison51Brownstown Central38 
Martinsville60Whiteland27 
Merrillville65Michigan City52 
Mishawaka Marian55Goshen34 
Monrovia44Beech Grove37 
Mooresville43Mount Vernon (Fortville)35 
North Central (Farmersburg)56Cloverdale36 
North Judson66Caston31 
North Putnam50North Montgomery30 
Northfield49Bluffton46 
Paoli46Perry Central28 
Parke Heritage54West Vigo48 
Penn55New Prairie13 
Pioneer64Lafayette Central Catholic49 
Portland Christian (Ky.)45Christian Academy19 
Richmond45New Castle28 
River Forest42LaCrosse33 
Rushville72Franklin County26 
Salem86Jeffersonville38 
Seymour54Scottsburg51 
Sheridan57Crawfordsville18 
Silver Creek59Corydon Central45 
South Bend Clay40Trinity Greenlawn37 
South Spencer43Evansville Christian30 
Southmont56Riverton Parke31 
Southwestern (Hanover)57North Decatur32 
Southwestern (Shelbyville)45Morristown35 
Speedway65Brebeuf Jesuit48 
Taylor45Delphi33 
Terre Haute South50South Vermillion43 
Tipton63Mississinewa43 
Tri-County33South Newton29 
Trinity Lutheran68Greenwood Christian66 
Twin Lakes65Frontier44 
Valparaiso43Gary West27 
Wapahani52Daleville32 
Warsaw52Plymouth30 
Washington Twp.38Whiting22 
Washington54Southridge29 
West Lafayette79Frankfort33 
Woodlan48Antwerp (Ohio)23 
Yorktown73Muncie Central48 
Hendricks County Tournament
Cascade67Danville50 
Tri-West59Plainfield37 
Ripley County Tournament
South Ripley49Batesville24 
Jac-Cen-Del75Milan35 

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#4 Texas 78 Iowa State 72

#6 Kansas 93 TCU 64

Mississippi State 78 #13 Missouri 63

#23 Michigan State 68 #15 Rutgers 45

#18 Texas Tech 82 Kansas State 71

#19 Clemson 74 North Carolina State 70 OT

James Madison 79 Florida Atlantic 70

Holy Cross 68 Boston University 66

Toledo 84 Kent State 82

Winthrop 78 Charleston Southern 76

Gardner Webb 85 Campbell 70

Bowling Green 90 Central Michigan 69

James Madison 79 Florida Atlantic 70

Fordham 55 Dayton 54

Ohio 76 Northern Illinois 73

Radford 76 Hampton 65

Alabama 86 Florida 71

USC Upstate 65 Longwood 59

Davidson 61 Duquesne 48

Kentucky 77 Vanderbilt 74

Coppin State 81 Delaware State 77

North Carolina 67 Miami, Florida 65

Connecticut 65 Marquette 54

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#2 Louisville 96 Tennessee Martin 61

Delaware 68 Northeastern 61

Boston University 72 Holy Cross 56

Charleston Southern 66 Presbyterian 63

Delaware State 60 Coppin State 45

Rhode Island 48 Massachusetts 47

High Point 73 Campbell 67

Longwood 54 USC Upstate 52

NBA SCOREBOARD

Brooklyn 130 Utah 96

LA Lakers 94 Memphis 92… Desmond Bane seven points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal

Denver 123 Minnesota 116

San Antonio 116 LA Clippers 113

Chicago 111 Portland 108

INDIANA AP BOYS BASKETBALL POLLS

Class 4A

1. Lawrence North (7)      8-0   210  1

2. Carmel (1)                      8-0   194  2

3. Homestead (3)             11-0  186  3

4. Lafayette Jeff                10-0  144  4

5. Westfield                       7-0   126  5

6. Cathedral                       8-1   113  6

7. S. Bend Adams             9-0   104  8

8. Crispus Attucks            9-2   89   7

9. Zionsville                       6-3   37   T10

10. Crown Point                4-0   23   NR

(tie) Gary West                 5-2   23   NR

Others receiving votes: Fishers 13. Warren Central 13. Plainfield 8. Carroll (Allen) 7. Chesterton 6. Columbus North 6. Greenwood 6. Bloomington North 6. S. Bend Riley 6.

Class 3A

1. Heritage Hills (7)               5-0   192  1

2. Hammond (4)                    6-1   191  2

3. Silver Creek                        7-2   168  3

4. Ev. Bosse                            4-0   158  4

5. Greensburg                       5-1   105  5

6. Mishawaka Marian         7-1   101  7

7. Leo                                      7-0   99   9

8. Sullivan                              6-1   91   6

9. S. Bend St. Joseph’s        6-2   69   10

10. Danville                           3-1   51   8

Others receiving votes: Beech Grove 30. Tri-West 27. Peru 16. Guerin Catholic 16. Greencastle 6.

Class 2A

1. Ft. Wayne Blackhawk (11)         8-0   220  1

2. Shenandoah                                 7-3   162  5

3. S. Spencer                                     9-1   132  3

4. Linton-Stockton                           9-2   130  4

5. Blackford                                       7-2   129  2

5. Westview                                      6-1   129  6

7. Covenant Christian                     8-0   105  7

8. Parke Heritage                            9-2   79   8

9. Central Noble                              6-1   65   9

10. Andrean                                     4-2   48   10

Others receiving votes: Southwestern (Jefferson) 30. S. Ripley 30. Eastern Hancock 18. Madison-Grant 16. Ev. Mater Dei 12. Northeastern 8. Churubusco 7.

Class A

1. Barr-Reeve (10)           8-2   218  1

2. Kouts (1)                       9-1   200  2

3. Bloomfield                   3-0   166  3

4. Loogootee                    8-2   155  5

5. N. Daviess                     8-1   122  4

6. Morristown                  6-2   98   6

7. Edinburgh                     8-2   86   7

8. Covington                     2-2   74   8

9. Jac-Cen-Del                  9-2   50   NR

10. Triton                          6-1   38   NR

Others receiving votes: Tindley 31. Lutheran 23. Lafayette Catholic 19. Washington Twp. 18. Covenant Christian (DeMotte) 14. Ev. Christian 8.

INDIANA FOOTBALL

Allen Named Finalist for George Munger College Coach of the Year Award

(INDIANA RELEASE)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana head football coach Tom Allen was named one of six finalists for the George Munger College Coach of the Year Award, which is presented yearly by the Maxwell Football Club, it was announced Tuesday afternoon.

Allen is joined as a finalist by Ryan Day (Ohio State), Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina), Luke Fickell (Cincinnati), Hugh Freeze (Liberty) and Nick Saban (Alabama).

Voting opens Tuesday, Jan. 5 for the finalist selection for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year. Eligible voters include NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and football Sports Information Directors, Maxwell Football Club members and selected national media.

The winner announcement will be made on Jan. 19 and the award will be formally presented on the winner’s campus in the spring.

Allen was also named a finalist for the Dodd Trophy, the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award.

He was named the Big Ten’s Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches vote) and Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote) last week, and was also recognized as the American Football Coaches Association Region 3 Coach of the Year.

Below are some of the program’s notable 2020 achievements:

• Indiana played in consecutive January bowls for the first time in school history.

• IU is ranked for a program record ninth-consecutive week, coming in at No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 and at No. 8 in the Amway Coaches Poll presented by USA Today Sports.

• The Hoosiers have been ranked in the Top 10 six times in 2020, the second-most in school history (9 weeks in 1945).

• Indiana collected its first Top-10 ranking in the Nov. 8 AP Poll (No. 10) since Sept. 22, 1969 (No. 10).

• IU’s No. 7 rating is its best in the AP Poll since Nov. 27, 1967 (No. 4).

• The Hoosiers three Top-25 victories are tied for the second-most in the country behind Alabama’s four.

• Their three Top-25 wins also matched the 1945 team’s program record.

• IU is 14-7 overall and 11-5 in league play since the beginning of the 2019 campaign. Its 14 victories share fourth and its 11 Big Ten wins share third among all B1G teams during that span.

• With their victory over Maryland, the Hoosiers clinched a winning league record in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1987-88 and for the sixth time overall (1967-68, 1944-46 and 1936-37).

• Indiana’s six conference wins are tied for the most in school history (1967, 1987).

• IU’s 11 Big Ten victories are tied for the most in program history over a two-year span (1987-88).

• The Hoosiers collected their first win over No. 16 Wisconsin (14-6) since defeating the Badgers in back-to-back seasons on Oct. 6, 2001 (63-32) and on Oct. 12, 2002 (32-29), the former coming at Camp Randall Stadium.

• Indiana recorded its first road victory over a ranked opponent since No. 18 Missouri on Sept. 20, 2014 (31-27), and its first B1G road win over a ranked opponent since No. 22 Michigan State on Nov. 10, 2001 (37-28).

• Wisconsin’s six points marked its lowest total against IU since Oct. 24, 1992 (3), and it was U-W’s first game without a touchdown since Oct. 3, 2015, against Iowa.

• The Hoosiers matched a school record with five-straight league victories (1967) before losing at No. 3 Ohio State and have won 11 of their last 14, their most successful stretch in conference games in program history.

• Indiana defeated Michigan State, 24-0, to reclaim the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2016 and earn its first win in East Lansing since 2001.

• IU’s 38-21 victory over No. 23 Michigan was its first over the Wolverines since Oct. 24, 1987 (14-10).

• The Hoosiers 36-35, overtime win against No. 8 Penn State in the season opener was the sixth against a Top-10 opponent in school history, with the last coming at No. 9 Ohio State (31-10) on Oct. 10, 1987.

• It marked Indiana’s first Top-10 victory at Memorial Stadium since Nov. 25, 1967 (No. 3 Purdue, 19-14).

• IU has defeated PSU, U-M, MSU and UW in the same season for the first time in program history and beaten the Wolverines and Spartans in the same year for the first time since 1967.

INDIANA BASEBALL:

Richardson Earns Another Preseason First-Team All-America Accolade

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana OF Grant Richardson earned his second preseason All-America honor on Tuesday, as he was named first-team by Perfect Game. Last month, Richardson was also named First-Team All-America by Collegiate Baseball.

In a shortened 2020 season, Richardson earned Third-Team All-America accolades from Collegiate Baseball. Richardson started all 14 games he appeared in, leading the Hoosiers with a .424 batting average, five home runs, 17 RBI, 21 runs scored and a .797 slugging percentage. He also had had three doubles, two triples and an on-base percentage of .453 – second-best on the team.

The Fishers, Ind. native led the Big Ten in homers, runs, runs per game (1.5), slugging percentage and total bases (47) and ranked fifth in the nation in runs per game, ninth in hits per game (1.79), 11th in total bases, 12th in slugging percentage and 19th in RBI.

Along with the All-America honors in 2020, Richardson was also named to the 2020 Perfect Game Honor Roll and the Impact Sophomore by Perfect Game. He was also honored as the Most Impressive Hitter in the Big Ten and the No. 15 sophomore hitter in the nation by D1Baseball.

BUTLER MEN’S BB: Butler MBB Welcomes Georgetown to Hinkle Fieldhouse Wednesday Night

(BUTLER RELEASE)

INJURY UPDATE:

• Aaron Thompson has missed five straight games with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He is questionable for Wednesday’s game.

• JaKobe Coles (meniscus – left knee) is out indefinitely. He will be re-evaluated in approximately three weeks.

GAME 8:  Butler (2-5, 1-3 BIG EAST) vs. Georgetown (3-6, 1-4 BIG EAST)

Wednesday, Jan. 6;  7PM

Hinkle Fieldhouse;  Indianapolis, Ind.

TV:  FS1 – @Joe_Davis & Casey Jacobsen (@cjacobsen23)

Radio:  93.1FM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)

TuneIn Radio App, XM 387, SiriusXM Internet 977

@ButlerMBB  |  #ButlerWay  |  ButlerSports.com

FULL NOTES (PDF)

The Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse Wednesday night, hosting Georgetown for a 7 p.m. tip.

Butler is 2-5 on the young season and 1-3 in conference play. Georgetown is 3-6 and 1-4 (BIG EAST).

• The true road team is 11-3 in the all-time series between Butler and Georgetown.

• KenPom lists Butler’s schedule to date as the 20th-toughest nationally.

• Five different Bulldogs have led the team in scoring over the team’s first seven games.

• Four of Butler’s top seven players in minutes played this season are true freshmen.

• Myles Tate scored a career-high 22 points Saturday at Seton Hall.

• Butler shot a season-best 11-of-22 from three-point range at Seton Hall.

• 52 percent of freshman Myles Wilmoth’s rebounds this season have been on the offensive glass.

• Four different Bulldogs have posted 20-point games for Butler so far this season.

• Butler is 37th nationally, committing an average of only 11.3 turnovers per game.

• Chuck Harris earned BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Dec. 28.

• Jair Bolden’s 3.0 three-pointers per game lead the BIG EAST and are 37th nationally.

• Bryce Nze ranks tenth in the BIG EAST at 7.0 rebounds per game.

• Bolden has led the Bulldogs in scoring in three of his seven career games in a Butler uniform.

• Butler put five players in double figures in the win over Providence Dec. 23.

• Tate had eight rebounds and seven assists (both career-highs) against Providence Dec. 23.

• Harris posted career-highs of 22 points and six assists vs. Southern Illinois Dec. 21.

• Nze had his first double-double of the season (and 11th of his career) with 14 points and 11 rebounds vs. SIU.

• Bolden hit a career-best six three-pointers against Indiana Dec. 19, posting 20 points.

THE SERIES: Georgetown Leads, 9-7

Streak: Georgetown, W1

At Hinkle Fieldhouse: Georgetown Leads, 6-1

LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. GU: 3-3

First Meeting: Georgetown, 72-65; 12/8/09

(Jimmy V Classic; Madison Square Garden)

Last Meeting: Georgetown 73-66, 2/15/20 (at Hinkle)

Georgetown owns a 9-7 lead in the all-time series with the Hoyas. The road team has won the last nine meetings between the two teams and the road team is 11-3 in the series. The teams have split the season series each of the last four years.

Butler played without starting point guard Aaron Thompson in both games against Georgetown a season ago. Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden are the only returning Bulldogs who scored against the Hoyas a season ago.

YOUNG GUN: Freshman Myles Tate recorded a career-high 22 points Saturday at Seton Hall. His output included a career-best five three-pointers. He added five assists. For his efforts, he picked up a spot on the BIG EAST weekly honor roll.

Tate became the fourth different Bulldog (and second true freshman) to register a game of 20 or more points through the team’s first seven games. Last season, only Kamar Baldwin and Sean McDermott scored more than 20 points in a game.

Tate is also the fifth Bulldog (and third true freshman) to lead the team in scoring through the first seven games. Butler’s top two returning scorers – Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden – are not among the five players who have led the team in scoring at this point in the season. 

THREE AT A TIME: The Bulldogs shot a sizzling 11-of-22 from three-point range Saturday at Seton Hall. The 11 three-pointers were the most by a Butler team since hitting 12 at Nebraska March 20, 2019 in the NIT.

HINKLE FIELDHOUSE TO SERVE AS A HOST VENUE FOR 2021 NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES: The NCAA will stage the entire 2021 men’s basketball championship in Indiana, with the majority of the tournament’s 67 games taking place in Indianapolis. Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14, and plans remain to have the Final Four on April 3 and 5, with exact preliminary-round dates to be determined.

Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The only other NCAA Tournament games to be played at Hinkle Fieldhouse (then known as Butler Fieldhouse) were a regional in 1940.

YOU WANT HIM BEHIND THAT LINE; YOU NEED HIM BEHIND THAT LINE: Graduate transfer Jair Bolden is off to a hot start in his Butler career. Bolden’s average of 3.0 three-pointers per game leads the BIG EAST (and is 37th nationally), while his three-point percentage of 42.0 percent is in the Top 70 nationally. Bolden is second on the team at 13.6 points per game.

Bolden’s production from behind the arc has been increasingly important as the Bulldogs only return players who made 21 of the team’s 212 three-pointers in 2019-20.

ROOKIE ACCOLADES: Chuck Harris was  named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week by the conference office Dec. 28. Harris averaged 16.0 points per game as the Bulldogs recorded a 1-1 week. He posted a career-best 22 points against Southern Illinois Dec. 21 to highlight his week. In the team’s two games, which included a win over Providence, Harris shot 52 percent from the field and 5-of-7 from three-point range.

Harris is the third Bulldog to earn Freshman of the Week honors since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. He joins Kelan Martin (final week of the 2014-15 regular season) and Kamar Baldwin (twice during the 2016-17 season) on that list.

For the season, Harris is third among the Bulldogs with an average of 11.1 points per game. Among true freshmen in the BIG EAST, only Marquette’s Dawson Garcia (at 12.4 points per game) is averaging more.

BALANCED ATTACK: In the Dec. 23 win over Providence, the Bulldogs put five players in double figures, led by freshman JaKobe Coles with 14 points. It was only the third time in more than two calendar years that Butler has had five players score 10 or more in the same game (win vs. St. John’s, 3/4/20; loss vs. Providence, 2/1/20). Prior to that, Butler had five in double figures in a Dec. 8, 2018 win over Northern Illinois.

TIGHT SQUEEZE: Butler turned the ball over only eight times in the Dec. 30 loss at Providence, which is its second-best mark of the young season (six turnovers against Western Michigan Nov. 25). Butler’s average of only 11.3 turnovers per game is 37th nationally.

This continues a strong trend from last season. Butler had 14 games last season with 10 or fewer turnovers.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: The highest-rated recruiting class in Butler history has lived up to the billing so far. Four true freshmen are among the top seven Bulldogs in terms of minutes played through Butler’s first seven games. Chuck Harris, Myles Tate and JaKobe Coles have each scored in double figures in multiple games so far this season and all three have led the team in scoring in a game so far this season. In a six-point game midway through the second half at No. 7 Villanova Dec. 16, coach LaVall Jordan employed a line-up of his four freshmen alongside John-Michael Mulloy, who played a total of 76 minutes as a freshman last season.

Butler’s young roster has been tested early with KenPom ranking the Bulldogs’ schedule as the 20th-toughest in the nation so far this season. Three of Butler’s first four BIG EAST games have come on the road, and all four have been against teams picked in the top half of the conference in the preseason poll.

This is only the third season since 2008-09 that three true freshmen have started a game for Butler: 2020-21 (Tate, Harris, Coles); 2011-12 (Roosevelt Jones, Kameron Woods, Jackson Aldridge); and 2008-09 (Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ron Nored).

SCHEDULING QUIRK: Only three games into its BIG EAST schedule, the Bulldogs were already done with their home-and-home series against Providence. Butler was done with the Friars before facing eight BIG EAST teams for the first time.

NOTRE DAME WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: GAME 10 PREVIEW: @ BOSTON COLLEGE

(NOTRE DAME RELEASE)

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – “This is just the beginning so let’s continue to build,” said Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey after the team’s 69-67 win over Georgia Tech last Sunday. The Fighting Irish (5-4, 3-2) will look to do just that on Thursday when they travel to the Conte Forum to challenge the Boston College Eagles (4-4, 0-4). If successful, it’ll be Notre Dame’s third straight win.

Tip on Jan. 7 is set for 8 p.m. EST, airing live on the ACC Network. Jenn Hildreth & Debbie Antonelli have the call.

HISTORY WITH THE EAGLES

Notre Dame leads the overall series 24-7 against Boston College, with a 10-5 record at the Conte Forum.

Last season, Boston College not only broke a 14-game Irish win streak in the series, but also swept the Irish for the very first time in a home-and-home.

In terms of individual success against the Eagles last year, look no further than Destinee Walker. The graduate student scored exactly 21 points in both games.

WHO’S HOT

What a week Dara Mabrey had, lifting the Irish to back-to-back wins over Miami and Georgia Tech. She totaled 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including a 6-of-9 mark from three. She also grabbed six total boards and dished out nine total assists.

Diving deeper, Mabrey scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech on Jan. 3. Mabrey also hit two big triples in the fourth.

Three days prior in Miami (12/31), Mabrey was clutch in the second half again, where she scored 12 of her 17 points. She also tied her career high of six assists.

WESTBELD MAKING IMMEDIATE IMPACT

First and foremost, she’s the only player in the ACC to win two weekly league honors thus far. Westbeld was named ACC Rookie of the Week on Dec. 7, then again on Jan. 3.

Maddy’s 16.2 ppg not only leads the team, but also ranks 7th overall in the ACC. Not to mention, her scoring average tops all ACC freshmen and ranks 10th among all freshmen in the country. However, Maddy does has some work ahead of her if she wants to topple the ND freshman scoring record held by Beth (Morgan) Cunningham – 17.9 ppg in 1993-94.

To truly show what kind of season Westbeld is having, she’s 1-of-3 freshmen in the country averaging at least 16 points, 7 rebounds & 1.5 steals. In addition, she ranks 9th in the country among freshmen in the Points+Rebounds+Assists/Game category with 26.1 – which also tops all ACC freshmen.

Furthermore, the freshman currently ranks in the top-15 in the ACC in five different statistical categories: 7th in scoring (16.2), 14th in rebounding (7.2), 11th in FG% (.474), 14th in Steals (1.6) and 10th in D-Reb (4.9).

TURN THE THREE AROUND

A season ago, the Irish ranked dead last in the ACC in three-point shooting percentage (.271). Fast forward to now and the Irish have recorded quite the renaissance from beyond the arc primarily thanks to the trio of Mabrey, Brunelle and Westbeld. In fact, the Irish are converting 39.1 percent from three, which ranks 2nd in the ACC and 20th in the country. All three are shooting over 40 percent from deep.

Mabrey leads all shooters with her .488 three-point shooting percentage, which not only ranks 2nd in the ACC, but also 33rd in the country. Meanwhile, her 2.2 three’s/game ranks 12th in the league.

Mabrey has been lights out from deep since the start of ACC play, converting 11-of-16 aka 68.8 percent.

Brunelle follows right behind, as her 46.7 percent ranks 4th in the ACC and 47th nationally. For comparison’s sake, she shot 31.5 percent as a freshman. The sophomore is now averaging 2.0 made three’s/game, which ranks 2nd on the team and 13th in the ACC.

Brunelle has made a three-pointer in all seven games she’s played and if she wants to crack the program’s all-time top-five list, she’ll have to make that number reach 18.

Like Mabrey, Brunelle’s deep shooting is even better in ACC play, where she’s at 50.0 percent (11-of-22).

Then there’s Westbeld, who keeps you honest from three. She’s knocked down 42.3 percent with a 46.7 percent clip in conference play.

4TH QUARTER WILL

Westbeld, Brunelle and Mabrey have all recorded at least one instance in which they went off in the fourth quarter and tallied double-digit points in the final period alone.

Against both IUPUI and Georgia Tech, Westbeld found another gear in the fourth. She scored 12 of her 22 in the fourth vs. IUPUI (12/6), then tallied 12 of her 21 points in the fourth vs. Georgia Tech (12/13).

Brunelle then displayed some fourth-quarter fire at Miami (12/31), where she tallied 11 of her 13 points in the final period. Brunelle went beast mode from three, going a perfect 3-for-3 from deep.

Then it was Mabrey’s turn in the win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 3. Mabrey scored 10 of her 16 points, with a perfect 2-for-2 mark from three.

SUPER SUBS

Not too often you have both a 2020 ACC Honorable Mention player and a Preseason All-ACC selection coming off your bench.

Destinee Walker has been dynamic off the bench over the last three games, scoring in double figures in each, and even leading the Irish in scoring in two of them.

During this three-game span, Walker has averaged 15.3 ppg on a combined 16-of-36 (.444) shooting.

Walker called game against Georgia Tech (1/3), hitting the game-winner from the baseline with 20 seconds left to lift the Irish to a 69-67 victory. Walker scored 7 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. In addition, she nearly achieved a double-double at Miami (12/31), earning 17 points & 8 boards.

Then there’s Sam Brunelle who is averaging 9.1 ppg, all while still finding her footing this season. She played a huge factor in the wins over Virginia Tech and Miami, scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively.

THE WILY VET

Mikki Vaughn made some noise and was critical down the stretch in the 69-67 win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 3. The senior recorded her first double-digit scoring performance with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, to go with her 5 rebounds and career-high tying 4 steals. Vaughn recorded 5 points and 2 steals in the final five minutes of the 69-67 win.

“I’m so proud of this group. I thought we came out with a lot of toughness,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Head Coach Niele Ivey stated. “A lot of that toughness was generated by Mikki Vaughn. Her presence made a difference for us and set the tone defensively. It was down to the wire and we had so much composure.”

PURDUE VOLLEYBALL: Boilermakers Rank 13th in Preseason Poll

(PURDUE RELEASE)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue volleyball was voted No. 13 in the 2021 spring preseason poll by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Tuesday.

Purdue’s nod marks the 10th consecutive season the Boilermakers are ranked among the nation’s best and the 14th overall under head coach Dave Shondell.

Of the team’s first four weeks of play, the Boilermakers are slated to play three top-24 programs, including two among the top-10. In the opening weekend, the Purdue will travel to No. 1 nationally-ranked Wisconsin for back-to-back duals. Meanwhile, in Week 3, Purdue will host No. 7 Minnesota before traveling to No. 24 Michigan. Meanwhile, Week 7 will see the Boilermakers taking on No. 9 Penn State on the road.

The Boilermakers return two All-Americans in third team selection Grace Cleveland and honorable mention Caitlyn Newton, in addition to starting returners Hayley Bush, Jena Otec and Marisa Hornung. Purdue entered the 2019 season ranked No. 17 in the preseason poll and closed out the year with a No. 13 nod following its NCAA Regional appearance and a 24-8 record.

The next poll will be released January 26.

BALL STATE WBB: WBB Looks To Get Back On The Winning Track Wednesday At Home Against Toledo

(BALL STATE RELEASE)

Game 8

Ball State (3-4, 1-2 MAC) vs. Toledo (6-1, 2-1 MAC)

Muncie, Ind. | Worthen Arena

Opening Tip:

-Tonight’s contest marks the 85th time in program history the two schools have met with Toledo leading the all-time series record, 57-27.

-Ball State and Toledo’s first meeting ever was in 1980-81, that year the Cardinals defeated the Rockets by a score of 63-47.

-Ball State has won 9 of the last 14 meetings against the Rockets dating back to the 2013-14 season.

-From 2013-14, Ball State had won six in a row over Toledo, marking it the longest win streak  in program history over the Rockets. The Cardinals swept the regular season series against the    Rockets last year winning at Toledo on Feb. 12 by a score of 60-58 and then at home 66-60 on Feb. 26.

-Ball State is looking to get back on the winning track after falling to Bowling Green, 55-89, in Worthen Arena Saturday night. Toledo on the other hand is looking for their fourth-straight victory after defeating Akron, 65-57, in Savage Arena Saturday afternoon. Toledo owns a 24-16 record in games played in Muncie.

– Against the Falcons, senior forward Oshlynn Brown tallied her 35th double-double of her career with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Hot In January:

It may be cold outside but the Cardinals tend to get hot in the month of January under ninth-year head coach Brady Sallee. Sallee owns an overall record of 42-23 (.646) in the month of January dating back to his first season in 2012-13.

1,000 Points, 1,000 Rebounds:

Senior Oshlynn Brown currently has 1,123 career points and 866 rebounds. Brown needs 134 rebounds to hit 1,000. Brown will become only the second player in Ball State women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 points and rebounds. Former Cardinal Emma Jones (1984-87) so far is the lone player in program history to get 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Scouting Toledo:

– Toledo opened the season winning six of their first seven contests for the fourth time under 13th-year head coach Tricia Cullop.

– Toledo is paced offensively by sophomore Sophia Wiard who is averaging 17.6 points per contest. Not far behind Wiard is sophomore Quinesha Lockett who scores 16.7 points per ball game. Leading the Rockets defensively is freshman Sammi Mikonowicz who is averaging 8.1 rebounds.

– The Cardinals and the Rockets have faced each other twice on this date (Jan. 6). Toledo has won both of the those matchups earning a 93-60 victory in Muncie during the 1995-96 season and then secured a 83-69 win in 1996-97 in Toledo.

Next Game:

The Ball State women’s basketball team will return to the road in Mid-American Conference competition Saturday when it travels to Kent State for a noon tip-off in the M.A.C Center. Brady Sallee is no stranger to Kent State as he was an assistant coach for the Golden Flashes women’s basketball team from 1995-2002. Saturday’s game against Kent State will mark the 62nd time in program history the two schools have me with the Golden Flashes leading the all-time series, 39-22.

She’s In The Bookers:

The Ball State women’s basketball tipoff at Milwaukee got better as junior guard Essence Booker received an NCAA waiver to be immediately eligible for the 2020-21 season on Nov. 25.

“I’m really excited for Essence and appreciate all of Ryne Hillenberg’s work towards making this possible,” Ball State head women’s basketball coach Brady Sallee said.

Booker, a 5-foot-8 guard, comes to Ball State after spending the last two seasons at the University of Nevada. She was one of the Wolfpack’s top players last season, earning All-Mountain West honorable mention recognition and Mountain West Player of the Week accolades (Nov. 11). She started 30 games while leading Nevada in scoring (12.5 points per game) and total assists (73). Booker scored in doubles figures 21 times last season, including a stretch of 12 games in a row from Jan. 18-Feb. 27. She ended the year with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.2-to-1. Successful on and off the court, Booker was Mountain West Scholar-Athlete and a member of the Mountain West All-Academic Team while playing in 30 games as a true freshman. She owns 557 career points and will have two years of eligibility remaining at Ball State.

So far this season, she has played in all six games with six starts. She recently scored a season best 22 points at Bellarmine (12/14/20) and leads the Cardinals in scoring averaging 12.7 points per contest.

OHIO STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL: NITTANY LIONS UP NEXT FOR BUCKEYES WEDNESDAY

(OHIO STATE RELEASE)

Game Basics

  • Ohio State and Penn State meet on the hardwood with a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday at Value City Arena. The Big Ten Network will televise.
  • The Buckeyes fell on the road to No. 21 Minnesota Sunday, 77-60, in Minneapolis. Duane Washington Jr. led the way for Ohio State with 21 points.
  • Ohio State is 2-3 in the Big Ten with all three losses on the road. After playing host to PSU, Ohio State is back to the road at Rutgers Saturday.
  • Chris Holtmann’s teams are 2-4 vs. Penn State. Ohio State is 13-2 at Value City Arena all-time vs. the Nittany Lions, including the last two meetings.
  • Ohio State leads the all-time series against Penn State, 36-18. The Buckeyes are 13-10 in State College with a 19-5 record at in Columbus. Ohio State is 4-3 in neutral-site meetings.
  • Ohio State will meet Penn State in State College Feb. 18 to complete the home-and-home series. Purdue, Rutgers, Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa also meet the Buckeyes twice this season.

BIG 10 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL THIS WEEK

Big Ten women’s basketball conference play continues this week with six nationally-televised games through Jan. 13, including five on BTN and the FOX Sports app, along with Sunday’s game on ESPN2 featuring Rutgers at Ohio State. All other conference games this week will be streamed live on Big Ten Network+.

Maryland head coach Brenda Frese picked up her 550th career victory on Monday when the Terrapins edged Indiana, 84-80 in College Park. Frese is 550-159 (.776) in her 22nd season on the sidelines, including a 493-129 (.793) record in 19 seasons at Maryland.

Michigan junior guard Leigha Brown was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday, while Iowa guard Caitlin Clark earned her fifth Big Ten Freshman of the Week award. On Tuesday, Clark was also chosen as the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week, the second national honor she has received this year (she was the espnW National Player of the Week on Dec. 14).

The Big Ten has five schools appearing in the top 20 and eight in the top 50 of the latest NCAA NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings released Tuesday. The Big Ten’s five top-20 schools are the most of any conference, while the Big Ten’s eight top-50 programs are third-most in the nation among Division I conferences. The full NET rankings can be found on page 3 of this release.

For the third week in a row, the Big Ten has six Top 25 teams in the Associated Press poll, while also now having six schools in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today Top 25 poll, with both being the most ranked teams among all conferences. This is the first time in Big Ten women’s basketball history the conference has had six AP Top 25 teams for multiple weeks in the same season, let alone consecutive weeks (the Big Ten had six in the AP Top 25 for single weeks on Nov. 17, 2014 and Jan. 14, 2019).

Michigan has matched the best start to a season in program history, improving to 7-0 on Sunday with an 84-63 win at Northwestern behind a 55-point first half (Michigan’s highest single-half output in conference play since Dec. 30, 1997, when it had 58 against Minnesota). The Wolverines previously began 7-0 in 1999-2000, 2011-12 and 2015-16.

Michigan State is 8-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season after Sunday’s 71-64 win at Purdue. The Spartans are also 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2013-14.

For just the second time, both of the Big Ten’s Michigan schools are off to 7-0 starts in the same season. The only other time the Wolverines and Spartans both opened their seasons with 7-0 records was 1999-2000 — Michigan would go on to finish second in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament, while Michigan State tied for fifth in the conference race and advanced to the WNIT quarterfinals.

Four Big Ten teams currently rank among the top 10 in the country in scoring offense. Maryland is No. 2 in the nation at 95.6 points per game, followed by Ohio State (3rd – 93.4), Iowa (4th – 92.1) and Michigan (10th – 87.9). No other conference has more than two teams among the top 10 in the nation in scoring offense, as of Tuesday.

The Big Ten has six programs among the nation’s top 25 (including four in the top 10) in field-goal percentage. Michigan is No. 1 in the nation (.539), followed by Ohio State (3rd – .532), Iowa (5th – .512) and Maryland (8th – .504). Rutgers (20th – .472) and Michigan State (21st – .472) are also in the top 25 in field-goal percentage. No other conference currently has more than three schools in the top 25 nationally (or two in the top 10) in field-goal percentage.

Maryland’s Ashley Owusu and Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes both scored 34 points on New Year’s Eve, with Owusu notching her career high in a win at Penn State and Guirantes reaching the mark in a narrow loss at Iowa. Five Big Ten players have a total of eight 30-point games this season, including five games of at least 34 points, with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Michigan’s Naz Hillmon sharing the conference season-high scoring mark of 35 points (Clark on Dec. 12 at Michigan State, Hillmon on Nov. 27 at Oakland). By comparison, no other conference in the country has featured more than four 34-point games this year (the NCAA statistics report only lists the top 30 scoring performances to date).

Nebraska’s Sam Haiby earned the top spot on the New Year’s Eve edition of ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top Plays” for her game-winning basket as time expired in the Huskers’ 65-63 win over defending Big Ten co-champion Northwestern on Dec. 31 in Lincoln. It was the highest-ranked opponent Nebraska defeated since Dec. 3, 2014, when the Huskers downed No. 9/9 Duke, 60-54, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, also at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Nebraska senior center Kate Cain became the sixth Big Ten women’s basketball player to record 300 career blocked shots with four rejections in the Dec. 31 win over Northwestern. Cain currently has 303 blocks in her career and is the second conference player in as many years to reach that milestone, following Purdue’s Ae’Rianna Harris, who finished with 380 blocks from 2017-20.

The Big Ten is in position to set a new conference record for the best non-conference winning percentage in regular-season games in a single campaign, currently posting an .846 (44-8) mark to date — the previous record was set last year when conference teams went .788 (123-33) in non-conference play. This year’s record includes three non-conference wins over Top 25 teams — Maryland 115-96 over No. 14 Arkansas on Nov. 29 (a Big Ten record for points against a ranked team); Michigan 76-66 at No. RV/23 Notre Dame on Dec. 3; Iowa 82-80 over No. RV/24 Iowa State on Dec. 9.

With its Dec. 31 victory over Rutgers, Iowa extended its home winning streak to 41 games, the second-longest active string in the nation behind Baylor (61). The Hawkeyes’ run began on Feb. 4, 2018, with a 92-84 win over Minnesota.

The Big Ten women’s basketball television schedule has been updated to include eight appearances on the ESPN family of networks during the remainder of the regular season. The most current schedule of Big Ten women’s basketball games on TV may be found online at bigten.org/B1GWBBTV.

On Nov. 23, the Big Ten released its 2020-21 conference schedule, which will see schools play 20 Big Ten games, up two from the previous two seasons. Schools will play seven opponents twice (home and away) and the other six once (three at home and three on the road). To account for the additional games and preserve flexibility in the schedule, the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament has been moved to March 9-13 and will continue to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

On Oct. 23, the Big Ten Conference announced the launch of the ‘United As One’ social justice campaign. ‘United As One’ is among several conference-wide Equality Coalition initiatives dedicated to constructively and collectively recognizing and eliminating racism and hate in our society by creating resources for inclusion, empowerment and accountability.

The Big Ten Conference established the Equality Coalition in 2020 with 227 members including presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics, coaches, student-athletes, conference and school administrators, alumni, families and friends representing all 14 institutions.

BALL STATE WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL: Women’s Volleyball Announces 2020-21 Schedule

(BALL STATE RELEASE)

MUNCIE, Ind. – – The Ball State women’s volleyball program is currently scheduled to open the delayed 2020 season with back-to-back home matches versus Akron on Jan. 22-23, 2021 according to the schedule announced by head coach Kelli Miller Phillips and the Mid-American Conference.

Ball State’s 22-match schedule for the spring will feature two matches versus each league opponent. Teams will play 10 two-match series on consecutive days at the same site, while facing their travel partners for a Tuesday home-and-home series late in the year.

After a Friday-Saturday series to open the year, Ball State will play Thursday-Friday series over the next seven weeks. The final two series will move back to Friday-Saturday, with Tuesday matches versus travel partners the final two weeks of the regular season.

In addition to hosting the Zips opening weekend, the 2019 Mid-American Conference Tournament Champion Cardinals are slated to host Bowling Green (Feb. 11-12), Northern Illinois (Feb. 18-19), Kent State (March 11-12) and Central Michigan (March 19-20). Ball State will travel to Buffalo (Jan. 28-29), Toledo (Feb. 4-5), Western Michigan (Feb. 25-26), Ohio (March 4-5) and Eastern Michigan (March 26-27).

This year, Ball State’s travel partner will be defending MAC regular season champion Miami. The Cardinals host the RedHawks March 16 and make the return trip to Oxford, Ohio, March 23.

The four-team MAC Volleyball Championship will be played April 2-3 at the highest seed, with the tournament champion earning the league’s automatic berth into the 48-team NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. The NCAA Selection Show is schedule for April 4, with the championship round held April 23-25 at the CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Ball State women’s volleyball program returns 11 letter winners and four starters from last season’s squad which battled No. 5 Nebraska in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Volleyball Championship. Highlighting the list of returners are 2019 MAC Tournament MVP Kia Holder and 2019 MAC Freshman of the Year Natalie Risi.

The Cardinals, who finished the 2019 season with a 20-12 (11-5 MAC) record, won the last six matches of the 2019 regular season and all three matches it played in the MAC Tournament to enter its NCAA Tournament first-round match versus the Huskers with the nation’s 13th-longest active winning streak at nine matches.

On Aug. 8, the Mid-American Conference announced the postponement of all scheduled fall contests, as well as all MAC championships, due to continuing concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic. On Sept. 21, the NCAA DI Council approved moving all fall championships to the spring and set the spring volleyball start date for Jan. 22, with the regular season concluding April 3.

Times for all matches will be announced when available, and dates and times of competition are subject to change.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – and resulting county health department guidance – general public attendance at Ball State Athletics events is currently prohibited.

We will continue to evaluate fan attendance for upcoming future competitions and follow the advice and directives of state/local agencies, University leadership, the Mid-American Conference, health experts and medical officials when making these decisions.  We will communicate additional details if/when additional fans are permitted to attend Ball State Athletics events.

BALL STATE MEN’S VOLLEYBALL: Men’s Volleyball Announces 2021 Schedule

(BALL STATE RELEASE)

MUNCIE, Ind. — The Ball State men’s volleyball team has released its 2021 schedule. The Cardinals are primed for a heavy slate of Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) opponents, predominantly featuring back-to-back matchups with each opponent in the same location on consecutive days.

The schedule is subject to change as the sports world continues navigate the Covid-19 global pandemic.   

Ball State is slated to open on the road in Fairfax, Virginia, with matches Jan. 22-23 against George Mason. The Cardinals then return home to host Lincoln Memorial Jan. 28-29 in their only other scheduled non-conference matches.

BSU will welcome Purdue Fort Wayne Feb. 5-6 for its MIVA-opening weekend. The Cardinals also have home league weekends against Lindenwood (Feb. 19-20) and Loyola (March 26-27).

BSU will go on the road for league weekends at Lewis (Feb. 12-13), Quincy (March 19-20) and McKendree (April 2-3).

Ohio State is the only opponent Ball State is scheduled to face both home and away. The Cardinals host the Buckeyes for a single match Feb. 27 and visit Columbus, Ohio, for a single match March 13.

The MIVA tournament quarterfinals are set April 17 with the semifinals slated for April 21 and the championship match on April 24. The NCAA Play-in match is scheduled for April 30, and the remainder of NCAA Tournament will be hosted by Ohio State in Columbus, May 4-8.  

Ball State junior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) was named to the Preseason All-MIVA Team in December,while the Cardinals were picked to finish third in the preseason poll.

Ball State is coached by longtime men’s volleyball veteran Joel Walton. Walton announced in November that he will retire following the completion of the 2021 season.

MIAMI BASEBALL: Bachman Garnering National Attention as Season Nears

(MIAMI RELEASE)

OXFORD, Ohio –  The 2021 RedHawks are chock-full with talent, headlined by ace RHP Sam Bachman. The junior flame-thrower continues to rake in pre-season awards. Bachman, a Fishers, Indiana native, was recently named the 29th overall 2021 draft prospect by MLB Pipeline, the 20th ranked college prospect by Perfect Game, and the 63rd ranked college prospect by D1Baseball.com.

Bachman has struck out 106 batters in 99.1 collegiate innings, allowing a paltry .237 opponent batting average and 3.81 ERA.

Bachman had a strong freshman year in 2019, starting 14 games as the Friday starter with a 7-1 record and 75.2 innings pitched. For his terrific season, Bachman received Collegiate Baseball Freshmen All-American and First-Team All-MAC honors and was named MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year.

In the shortened 2020 spring, Bachman led the RedHawks in innings pitched (23.2) and strikeouts (31). He showed his brilliance in multiple 2020 outings, striking out 12 against Purdue Fort Wayne (2/21) and allowing only one unearned run with 12 strikeouts in the RedHawks win over Milwaukee (3/7).

Bachman’s trajectory on the national scene continues to climb. After working at 91-94 mph for much of his first two college seasons, Bachman sat in the mid-90s during the Grand Park all-star game and hit 100 mph this fall with his fastball, sitting mostly at 95-97.

Head Coach Danny Hayden praises Sam’s work rate.

“Sam is such a special guy. He was blessed with tremendous talent but what makes him special is his work ethic. Plenty of guys with Sam’s ability are playing college baseball right now, and they are not receiving the kind of recognition Sam is. That is because Sam has continued to work every day. There has not been a time where he has shown up at the park, acting as he has arrived. Instead, every day he shows up ready and willing to work and compete and develop.”

Hayden believes the recognition will only fuel Sam’s competitiveness more.

“With all this recognition, I promise you it will only do one thing for Sam; it will inspire his next workout to be his best workout. That is how Sam is. As a coach, it is cool when your best players are your hardest workers. We’ve got a bunch of really hard workers, and Sam is one of the guys that set that tone for us.”

Bachman’s fastball is known for its remarkable movement as much as high-end velocity. His slider also gained more power during the offseason, operating in the mid and upper-80’s, and is already graded as an above-average professional pitch. The MLB Pipeline scouting report mentions Bachman’s fastball and slider as his best pitches, though his change-up has become a consistent swing and miss offering. According to the coaching staff, Bachman also has continued to refine his aggressiveness and ability to manage an opponent’s running game.

Pitching Coach Matt Passauer speaks highly of Bachman’s ability to continue developing.

“Sam continues to fine-tune his arsenal each year. Early on, it was mostly about controlling his pitches and getting his stuff into the zone consistently. Sam has since gained a feel for both sides of the plate with the fastball along with control of a sharpened-up slider and change-up. He has done a tremendous job adding to the ways he can attack a batter and a lineup.”

Bachman will next attack hitters for the RedHawks when they open the season on February 19th.

Alabama’s Smith becomes 1st WR to win Heisman in 29 years

On an Alabama team stacked with stars, DeVonta Smith emerged as the best player in college football while playing a position that rarely gets that kind of recognition.

Smith became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in 29 seasons Tuesday night, breaking the monopoly quarterbacks have had on the award by beating out three of them.

“Just to be one of the very few that played receiver to win the Heisman, it means a lot to me,” Smith said.

Smith finished with 447 first-place votes and 1,856 points to easily outdistance Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (222, 1,187), Alabama teammate Mac Jones (138, 1,130) and Florida’s Kyle Trask (61, 737).

Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris finished fifth in the voting, making No. 1 Alabama the second team in the 85-year history of the Heisman to have three of the top five vote-getters. Army did it in 1946 with Glenn Davis (first), Doc Blanchard (fourth) and Arnold Tucker (fifth).

“I want to thank my teammates,” Smith said during his acceptance speech. “With team success comes individual success so without you all, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, winning this award.”

Smith is just the fourth receiver to win the Heisman, joining Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991, Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987 and Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers in 1972.

Quarterbacks had won 17 of the previous 20 Heisman trophies, including the last four.

Reported virus issues at Ohio St raise specter of CFP delay

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said Tuesday the national championship game between Alabama and Ohio State is still a go for Monday night amid a report that the Buckeyes are having COVID-19 issues.

AL.com reported that Ohio State has been in contact with CFP officials about possible player availability problems that could force the game to be delayed. Those discussions were confirmed to The Associated Press by a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because no one had been authorized to speak publicly about the details.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement that the Buckeyes continue to follow the same protocols they have all season. “We plan to play January 11,” Smith said.

Ohio State athletic department spokesman Jerry Emig said the Buckeyes did practice Tuesday.

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne posted on Twitter that he and Smith have had multiple conversations.

“Both schools are focused on playing in the (at)CFBPlayoff Championship Game on January 11th,” Byrne said.

Hancock said there were no changes and the game in Miami Gardens, Florida, between the top-ranked Crimson Tide and the third-ranked Buckeyes was still scheduled for Monday night as planned.

Hancock has previously said Jan. 18 is a potential makeup date if necessary.

The pandemic threatened to shut down major college football altogether in the summer, but a season was played through dozens of postponements and cancellations, and with teams getting through games shorthanded because of the virus.

About 87% of the regular-season Bowl Subdivision schedule was played. For Ohio State, though, it has been an especially bumpy road.

The Big Ten initially canceled the fall football season in August, only to reverse course in September. The conference kicked off in late October but left no room in the nine-week schedule for makeup games.

The Buckeyes had three games called off, two for COVID-19 issues with their opponents and one due to their own problems. Ohio State played its final regular-season game and the Big Ten championship game missing more than 20 players for each. Coach Ryan Day tested positive and was not with the team for its game against Michigan State on Dec. 5.

The Buckeyes made the playoff after playing only six games and with the Big Ten changing the minimum number of games needed to qualify for the championship.

Ohio State’s unavailable players list shrunk last week for the Sugar Bowl against Clemson, and the Buckeyes beat the Tigers 49-28.

Alabama made it through its season relatively unscathed by the virus. The Tide had one game postponed because of LSU’s COVID-19 issues, but it was later made up. Coach Nick Saban tested positive for the virus and was forced to miss Alabama’s rivalry game against Auburn.

Cruel twist: Browns lose coach for playoffs due to COVID-19

Amid a masked, muted celebration in the locker room after the Browns ended the NFL’s longest playoff drought, coach Kevin Stefanski asked for a game ball and then told Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio to step forward.

Stefanski flipped the ball to Bitonio, who had survived seven long seasons, 0-16 in 2017, the Johnny Manziel mess and numerous coaching changes.

“You’re going to the playoffs, 75,” Stefanki told Bitonio.

Two days later, nothing is certain with the Browns.

Positive COVID-19 tests have knocked Stefanski, Bitonio, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and at least two assistant coaches out of Cleveland’s wild-card game at Pittsburgh on Sunday night – the Browns’ first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.

The Browns announced Tuesday – 18 years to the day since their last playoff game – that Stefanski tested positive for the coronavirus, which has plagued the team in recent weeks and has thrown Cleveland’s plans this week into disarray for the wild-card game.

In less than 48 hours, joy for the Browns and their fans long-suffering fans was all but extinguished.

“Very sad,” Browns center and NFLPA President JC Tretter said. “It’s really unfortunate.”

Now, after beating the Steelers last Sunday to make the playoff field, the Browns are implementing contingency plans drawn up when the pandemic began.

Stefanski, who in his first year returned the Browns to respectability, can only coach virtually from home this week. He’ll be replaced by special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, and the Browns will have to make other staff adjustments as tight ends coach Drew Petzing and defensive backs coach Jeff Howard are also out.

Despite the Browns’ issues – they now have eight rotational players and five coaches on the COVID-19 list – league spokesman Brian McCarthy said the game is on schedule.

McCarthy added the league is continuing to conduct contact tracing to identify any possible high-risk close contacts. NFL rules state that anyone testing positive must be away from the team at least 10 days.

“If any players or personnel are identified as such, they would remain apart from the team and facilities for five days from the last exposure to a positive individual,” McCarthy wrote in an email. “They would be eligible to return to the team and play in the game.”

It’s still possible the Browns will lose other players after contact tracing is completed.

The genomic sequencing conducted by the league and its medical partner last week showed Cleveland’s cases were unconnected, meaning the cases came from outside and weren’t spread within the team’s headquarters.

Tretter said on a union conference call that he expects the building to remain closed Wednesday, when the Browns were scheduled to have their first practice this week.

Tretter said he had been in touch with Bitonio.

“I feel for him,” Tretter said. “Obviously with what he’s gone through, what he’s endured over his career and finally finding that success for the first time and then it being taken away at the last second, it’s hard. I feel for all the guys that won’t be able to play for the first playoff game.

“Extremely tough. This is just a terrible scenario for him and for everybody involved.”

Because Bitonio and Hodge played in the 24-22 win over the Steelers last Sunday, there would seem to be concern that some Pittsburgh players could be infected.

However, McCarthy said the league has “found no evidence of player-to-player transmission from practices or games throughout this season.”

With Stefanski out, coordinator Alex Van Pelt will assume Cleveland’s play-calling duties.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who spent a few minutes speaking with Stefanski on the field Sunday, said he’s not concerned about playing the Browns twice in eight days.

“I have complete confidence in the protocol outlined by the NFL,” Tomlin said. “We work hard to adhere to it; if we do that, we will minimize risk. That’s my mentality regarding it, so I won’t spend a lot of time worrying about those components.”

The Steelers have their own COVID-19 issues. Starting cornerback Joe Haden and tight end Eric Ebron missed Sunday’s loss after being placed on the COVID-19 list a day earlier. Haden tested positive; his status for the playoff game remains uncertain.

Cleveland has been one of the teams hit hardest by the virus. The Browns were without six players, including star cornerback Denzel Ward, and three assistants last weekend for their biggest game in years after a rash of positive tests.

Also, star defensive end Myles Garrett missed two games after contracting COVID-19. Garrett has had a difficult time shaking the disease and recently said he was still undergoing breathing treatments.

On Monday, Stefanski said he didn’t want to get into “hypotheticals” regarding Ward or any of the other infected players. Now, he won’t be able to be around his players or assistants while getting ready to play at Pittsburgh, where the Browns have lost 17 straight games.

The Browns are the second team to be without its coach during the pandemic. Detroit interim coach Darrell Bevell sat out the Lions’ Dec. 26 game at Tampa Bay because of COVID-19 protocols.

The Baltimore Ravens played a game against Pittsburgh without quarterback and reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson after an outbreak, and the Denver Broncos didn’t have any quarterbacks active for a game at New Orleans due to contact tracing.

Priefer, who is from Cleveland and spent several years on Minnesota’s staff with Stefanski, was an interim coach for one game in 2016 when Mike Zimmer had eye surgery.

Questions rise about Dan Mullen’s coaching future at Florida

Florida coach Dan Mullen could be on the verge of opting out.

One week after insisting he hadn’t even thought about the NFL, there are reports that Mullen might walk away from the Gators, telling NFL teams he’s interested in making the jump to the pros.

It was tumultuous season for Mullen. He landed Florida on NCAA probation, was dealt a show-cause penalty for recruiting violations, was fined and reprimanded by the Southeastern Conference for his role in a benches-clearing fight, and was widely criticized for seemingly tone-deaf comments following two losses.

Mullen has acknowledged the landscape in college football is changing.

The burgeoning transfer portal forces coaches to continually re-recruit their own players and there are also the undetermined challenges regarding name, image and likeness earning potential. And the coronavirus pandemic exposed college athletics for having an overspending financial model that’s capable of crumbling on short notice.

“College football as we know it will be very different over the next several years,” Mullen said before last week’s Cotton Bowl. “I don’t want to say it’s going to be better, worse. It’s just going to be different than what a lot of college football is used to. The world is ever-changing.

“I think that part of it, with everything changing in college football, it will be very different moving forward.”

While Mullen has had success, he has not publicly commented on reports of his desire to possibly leave.

The Gators are 29-9 since Mullen took over for fired coach Jim McElwain following the 2017 season. He signed a six-year, $36.6 million contract that made him the 10th-highest paid coach in college football in 2020. But Mullen hasn’t received a raise or an extension during his three years on the job, though athletic director Scott Stricklin made it clear he was working on an extension and raise for Mullen when COVID-19 essentially shut down Florida’s athletic department for months.

If Mullen were to land one of the six NFL openings – Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, the Los Angeles Chargers and the New York Jets – it could leave Florida in a tough spot after he led the Gators to their first SEC Eastern Division title in four years.

The university would likely be hard-pressed to replace Mullen on short notice. It also seems to be in the best interest of Florida and Mullen for the coach to address the perception that he’s looking to leave Gainesville. Mullen already had one five-star recruit decommit following the Cotton Bowl and had another target commit to Clemson.

It is unclear if any NFL team has asked to interview Mullen after his roller-coaster season. While Florida set all sorts of offensive records thanks to Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask, All-American tight end Kyle Pitts and dynamic receiver Kadarius Toney, Mullen did nothing to help fix a porous defense and ended the year with a three-game losing streak.

His bigger issues came off the field. He was chided for comments about wanting to “pack the Swamp” during a public health crisis. Then after losing to Oklahoma last week, Mullen praised the effort of his “scout team players” since the Gators were without three defensive starters and their top four receivers. Those comments were widely viewed as detracting from Oklahoma’s victory.

For Mullen, it was the latest in a list of cringeworthy moments in 2020.

The SEC reprimanded and fined Mullen $25,000 after league officials decided he did more to inflame than extinguish a tense situation against Missouri that led to a halftime brawl against Missouri.

Just before Christmas the NCAA announced Mullen had failed to “promote an atmosphere of compliance” for having impermissible contact with recruits. Those violations landed Florida on NCAA probation for the first time in 30 years.

Those missteps, and his comments about his future, give credence that Mullen is contemplating a move.

“As opportunities present themselves – like everything in the world – you take things as they come and you visit them and you reflect at where you are in your life,” Mullen said last week. “… You make a decision that’s best for you and your family in everything.”

Dolphins GM regarding Tua: ‘He’s our starting quarterback’

Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier gave rookie Tua Tagovailoa a strong endorsement Tuesday, which may tamp down speculation about the team’s draft plans.

Or not. Grier declined to discuss the draft, when Miami has the No. 3 overall pick and could take a quarterback in the first round for the second year in a row.

Grier spoke two days after Tagovailoa’s worst game of the season in a drubbing at Buffalo that cost Miami a playoff berth.

“Tua we’re very happy with,” Grier said. “He’s our starting quarterback. He did a nice job this year coming in as a rookie with no offseason, and the challenges of dealing with all that. We’re very happy with him, and looking forward to watching him progress here with an offseason.”

Tagovailoa will continue to work with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who came out of retirement a year ago and turned 69 Tuesday. Coach Brian Flores said he expects his entire coaching staff to return for the 2021 season.

Flores declined to discuss the likelihood that 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick will return as Miami’s backup quarterback.

Grier’s assessment of Tagovailoa echoed Flores’ praise for the rookie after Sunday’s finale. The No. 5 overall pick last year, Tagolvailoa went 6-3 as a starter but was benched by Flores in the fourth quarter of two games.

The Dolphins have two picks in the first round and two in the second. Even if they don’t draft a quarterback, they’re expected to invest heavily in upgrading the offense.

“We’re excited to have the picks we have,” Grier said. “There are some good players. We’re excited about the future here and what we can do for ’21.”

The Dolphins went 10-6, doubling their win total in Year 2 under Flores with a team that was among the NFL’s youngest.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Brian is the coach of the year,” Grier said. “He hates when I say it, but to win 10 games with what we have – a rookie quarterback and eight rookies playing on offense – Brian and his staff did an unbelievable job.”

However, the Dolphins still haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016, haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 and haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1984.

Grier and Flores declined to list any of those achievements as a specific target for 2021.

“The goal is to get better every day,” Flores said, “and let the results take care of themselves.”

Said Grier: “We never set a timetable for anything. It’s just about getting better every day.”

No surprise: Peyton Manning a Hall of Fame finalist

Peyton Manning, no surprise, is among 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2021.

The star quarterback, owner of a record five NFL Most Valuable Player awards and two Super Bowl titles, was the first finalist revealed by the hall on Tuesday night.

Manning, of course, was one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. In 18 pro seasons and 265 starts out of 266 games played since being the top overall draft choice by Indianapolis in 1998, he had 14 seasons with 4,000-plus yards passing.

When he retired following leading Denver to the 2015 league title, Manning held NFL records for career passing yards (71,940), career passing touchdowns (539) and consecutive seasons with at least 25 passing touchdowns (13).

He won 201 of those games, including playoffs, guiding the Colts to the 2006 NFL championship. He also made the Super Bowl for the 2009 and 2013 seasons, was a seven-time All-Pro, and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

Joining Manning as a finalist was one of the players he threw to, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, a finalist for the second time. First-year eligible Calvin Johnson and second-time finalist Torry Holt also made the cut among receivers.

Wayne played in two Super Bowls with Manning.

Four defensive backs, including current 49ers general manager John Lynch, advanced. This will be Lynch’s eighth time as a finalist, while it’s the first for Charles Woodson in his initial year of eligibility, and Ronde Barber, and the second for appearance in the finals for Leroy Butler.

“I am just enjoying this moment, sitting here watching those highlights and what you immediately do is kind of reliving some of those moments,” Woodson said. “To me it is not lost to be in this moment, to be a Hall of Fame finalist in the first year; it takes a lot to get to this point. You really have to make an impact on the game and I am excited to be in this moment.”

Two of the NFL’s most dependable defensive linemen got to the finals: sack master Jared Allen and versatile Richard Seymour. Allen, who had 136 sacks and forced four safeties, is another first-year eligible player, while Seymour has made the finals for three of his four eligible years.

Zach Thomas, who also excelled on special teams, was one of three linebackers making the finals, joining Sam Mills – a star in the USFL and then the NFL – and Clay Matthews, who led some strong Cleveland defenses from 1978-1993 before playing three season in Atlanta. Thomas and Mills became second-time finalists, and Matthews for the first time.

Two offensive linemen who have been frequent finalists round out the potential class of 2021: Alan Faneca and Tony Boselli. Faneca, who played guard and tackle and starred for three franchises (Steelers, Jets, Cardinals) made his sixth final in as many years of eligibility, while Boselli, a standout for Jacksonville, reached the finals for a fifth time.

Voting on the entrants to the hall will be conducted later this month, with the inductees announced during Super Bowl week. A maximum of five modern-day players can be chosen, along with three previously announced candidates should they get the required votes: coach Tom Flores, contributor Bill Nunn, and senior Drew Pearson.

Inductions are scheduled for next August, when the 2020 class and a special centennial class also will be enshrined after the COVID-19 pandemic forced postponement of those ceremonies last summer.

AP source: 3 NFL teams granted permission to talk to Brady

Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady is becoming a popular name for NFL teams looking to fill head coaching vacancies.

A person familiar with the situation says the Chargers, Falcons and Texans have all asked for and received permission from the Panthers to interview Brady for their head coaching jobs.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team does not release names of assistant coaches who have been granted permission to speak with other teams.

The 31-year-old Brady could be on a meteoric rise up the coaching ranks after just one season as an NFL coordinator.

Carolina finished 21st in the league in offense last season and 24th in scoring. Although running back Christian McCaffrey only played in three games because of injury, four Carolina players went on to have at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage, marking only the fifth team in the Super Bowl era that has happened.

The Panthers finished the season 5-11 and in third place in the NFC South.

Brady was hired by Carolina last season after spending one season as LSU’s passing game coordinator, where he helped the Tigers win a national championship and quarterback Joe Burrow win the Heisman Trophy and become the first pick in the 2020 draft.

Prior to LSU, Brady served two years as an offensive assistant with the Saints.

Along with the Chargers, Falcons and Texans, the Jets, Jaguars and Lions are also looking to fill head coaching vacancies.

Browns’ Wills, Higgins cited for drag racing

Cleveland Browns rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. and wideout Rashard Higgins were cited for drag racing Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Jake Trotter reports.

Police pulled the players over around 9:30 a.m. ET and handed $124 tickets, according to a Westlake police report obtained by ESPN. A probable cause search of one of the vehicles reportedly found a suspected marijuana joint, but neither player was cited for it.

A Browns spokesperson said the team is aware of the incident and gathering more information, per Trotter.

Higgins tweeted Tuesday evening that his “foot slipped,” and he was trying to “get away from” COVID-19 before deleting both posts, according to Trotter.

The Browns have been dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak resulting in head coach Kevin Stefanski, guard Joel Bitonio, and receiver KhaDarel Hodge testing positive, the team announced Tuesday. They’ll all be unavailable for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The team’s facility was closed Tuesday as a result.

Georgia QB Daniels coming back; DE Herring, C Hill NFL bound

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels will be returning for another season between the hedges.

Daniels announced Tuesday on Twitter that he’s coming back to the Bulldogs after starting the final four games of the 2020 season. Georgia won them all to finish 8-2, including a victory over Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.

“Found my new home, now we got unfinished business,” said Daniels, a third-year sophomore. “Go Dawgs 2021.”

The quarterback revealed his plans as two teammates said they’re heading to the NFL.

Defensive end Malik Herring and center Trey Hill announced on Twitter that they will give up their remaining eligibility to enter the draft.

Two others, running back James Cook and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, joined Daniels in confirming they’ll be back in 2021.

After spending two seasons at Southern Cal, Daniels transferred to Georgia and was granted permission to play right away by the NCAA.

But he was still recovering from a season-ending knee injury sustained in the 2019 opener with the Trojans, prompting Georgia to go with two other quarterbacks before they finally turned to Daniels for a Nov. 21 game against Mississippi State.

He provided a huge spark to the passing game, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,231 yards, and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions the rest of the way.

While Daniels considered his NFL options, the consensus was he needed another year of college ball to further his development. He has played only five college games in the last two seasons.

Daniels will go into next season as Georgia’s undisputed starter, meaning the Bulldogs won’t have to rush the development of top recruit Brock Vandagriff, who would presumably be set to take over in 2022.

Herring is a senior who totaled 20 tackles in 10 games this season, including two sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses. He had a sack in Georgia’s victory over Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.

“I have many great memories here at Georgia and Athens will always be home,” Herring wrote on his Twitter account.

Hill became the third Georgia underclassmen to enter the draft. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound junior followed junior cornerback Eric Stokes and sophomore outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari.

Hill missed the final two games of the 2020 season with an injury.

“Playing in the NFL has been a lifelong goal and I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to follow my dreams,” Hill said on Twitter.

Cook was Georgia’s second-leading rusher as a junior, rushing for 303 yards and three touchdowns He also caught 16 passes for 225 yards and two scores.

The younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook missed the Peach Bowl after the death of their father.

Wyatt, who started all 10 games, is taking advantage of the NCAA’s decision to grant an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic. He had 25 tackles, two of them for losses.

Garoppolo not worried about his future as 49ers starting QB

Jimmy Garoppolo might be one of the few people not speculating about his future as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

For the second time in three years, an injury derailed Garoppolo’s season, leading to questions about whether the Niners will look to upgrade at the position this offseason either through the draft or by acquiring a veteran.

“I honestly haven’t put too much thought into it,” Garoppolo said. “All those things get said, but at the end of the day, I’m a 49er. I’m here to play quarterback. I’m here to be the quarterback of this team and every day I go out there and try to prove that to my teammates and my coaches. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said last week that he believed Garoppolo would remain the starter in 2021 and Garoppolo’s teammates have publicly backed him as well, pointing to his leadership and the team’s success when he plays.

General manager John Lynch said he also expects Garoppolo back despite reports the team could be looking for a change. Garoppolo said that support is what matters.

“The people in this building, I love them. I love every one of them,” he said. “It’s a great group to be around. John and Kyle, I think they’ve talked to the media and said what they’ve said, and I love those guys for it. This is where I want to be and I love it here.”

The Niners acquired Garoppolo midway through the 2017 season from New England and rewarded him with a five-year, $137.5 million contract that offseason after he won the final five games.

Garoppolo then missed 13 games in 2018 after tearing his ACL in Week 3 and missed 10 games this season with ankle injuries, leading to questions about his durability.

“It’s all about being out there,” he said. “It’s all about availability. I know that. It’s been a series of unfortunate events with the injuries and things like that, but one thing I’m excited about is just getting ready for this offseason. Getting the body back to where it needs to be, getting ready for next season.”

In the one season that Garoppolo remained healthy, the Niners won 13 games in the regular season and went to the Super Bowl.

That’s why his teammates are so vocal in their backing of him, pointing to his leadership.

“He just kind of elevates the level of play of everybody around him because he expects greatness from his teammates,” tight end George Kittle said. “I know he expects greatness of himself. When you’re around a guy like that that expects that out of you and requires that of you on a daily basis, it makes you a better football player.”

But it was Garoppolo’s performance in the fourth quarter of that Super Bowl that contributes to the questions about his long-term future.

He went 3 for 11 for 36 yards and an interception, missing an open Emmanuel Sanders on a deep pass that would have given San Francisco the lead in the closing minutes. Instead, the Niners lost 31-20 to the Chiefs after blowing a 10-point lead.

Shanahan and Lynch talked about the possibility of signing Tom Brady in the offseason before choosing to stick with Garoppolo instead.

Shanahan said he will look at quarterbacks more intently this offseason, mainly because backups C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are eligible to become free agents.

But because the Niners can get out of Garoppolo’s deal with little dead money penalty, it will keep the questions about Garoppolo in the news.

“You have to look into everything when you’re trying to fill out a quarterback roster,” Shanahan said. “We have a starting quarterback, but in order to know where these guys are going to be, we’ve got to either re-sign the guys we’ve got or see if we can upgrade them through the draft or free agency. In order to do that, you have to evaluate everything, so you know how to stack them and stuff. So, definitely will be looking at a lot more of that stuff this year than we did last year.”

AP Source: Wentz needs time to think about future in Philly

Carson Wentz needs time away to think about his future with the Philadelphia Eagles and there’s hope his relationship with the team won’t end in a divorce, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Wentz was benched for the final four games of the worst season of his five-year career and was inactive Sunday in a loss to Washington. He hasn’t spoken to reporters since Dec. 6.

Wentz also hasn’t discussed his future with team officials yet, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because it’s a private matter. The person said those conversations will take place when the time is right.

Wentz’s relationship with the organization is strained, according to another person close to the situation. It’ll take both sides coming together to make it work.

General manager Howie Roseman said Monday the team is not thinking about trading Wentz “right now.”

“We are talking about a guy that’s immensely talented, has a great work ethic and doing whatever we can to put him in the best possible situation to be successful,” Roseman said.

After Jalen Hurts replaced him as the starter, Wentz said: “Obviously, that’s frustrating as a competitor and just the personality that I have, I want to be the guy out there.”

Though he hasn’t said anything publicly since those postgame comments, it’s obvious Wentz wants to play.

“No one wants to be a backup anything in this league. I do not wanna be a backup tight end. Carson Wentz doesn’t want to be a backup quarterback,” said Zach Ertz, one of Wentz’s closest friends on the team. “I haven’t spoken with him (about) what his plan is for the future.”

If Wentz decides to ask for a trade, the Eagles should have several interested suitors. A reunion with Frank Reich in Indianapolis would be an ideal scenario. Wentz thrived under Reich, who was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator in 2016-17. The Colts went 11-5 with Philip Rivers and are in the playoffs. But the 39-year-old Rivers isn’t under contract for next season.

The Eagles would absorb a significant cap hit of $33.8 million in dead money on the 2021 cap if they trade Wentz before March 19. That number increases to $43.8 million if Wentz is traded after that date because he’s due a $10 million roster bonus by the third day of the new league year. The higher figure in dead money could be split over two years – $19.3 million in 2021 and $24.5 million in 2022 – if Wentz is dealt after June 1.

U.S. blanks Canada to win gold at world juniors

Team USA defeated Canada 2-0 to capture its fifth gold medal at the World Junior Championship and first since 2017.

Alex Turcotte opened the scoring for the Americans in the first period, and Trevor Zegras doubled the lead just 32 seconds into the second frame.

Zegras, who also picked up an assist on Turcotte’s tally, tied the American all-time scoring record at the world juniors with his 27th point collected over the last two tourneys. The Anaheim Ducks prospect was named tournament MVP.

Spencer Knight turned aside all 34 shots he faced for his third shutout of the event. The 19-year-old authored a .939 save percentage and 1.63 goals-against average through six outings.

Canada outscored its opponents 41-4 entering the contest and hadn’t trailed in the tournament before the Americans took the lead.

The U.S. has now defeated Canada in four consecutive gold-medal meetings (2004, 2010, 2017).

NBA STANDINGS

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
 WLPctGBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
Philadelphia61.8574-02-12-06-16-14 W
Boston53.6251.52-13-21-14-35-32 W
New York43.5712.01-13-20-24-34-32 W
Brooklyn44.5002.53-31-11-02-34-41 W
Toronto15.1674.51-20-31-21-21-52 L
 
Central Divison
 WLPctGBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
Indiana52.7143-22-02-04-25-21 W
Cleveland43.5711.02-12-21-14-34-31 L
Milwaukee43.5711.03-01-32-03-34-32 W
Chicago44.5001.51-33-10-22-34-42 W
Detroit16.1434.01-30-30-21-41-62 L
 
Southeast Division
 WLPctGBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
Orlando52.7142-23-03-04-15-21 W
Atlanta43.5711.01-23-13-34-32 L
Miami33.5001.53-10-20-11-23-31 W
Charlotte25.2863.01-21-31-32-53 L
Washington25.2863.00-42-10-21-52-52 W
 
Western Conference
Northwest Division
 WLPctGBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
Utah43.5711-23-12-14-24-31 L
Portland34.4291.01-22-20-13-33-42 L
Denver34.4291.02-31-12-03-43-42 W
Oklahoma City24.3331.50-32-10-10-22-41 L
Minnesota25.2862.01-21-31-21-42-55 L
 
Pacific Division
 WLPctGBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
LA Lakers62.7502-24-00-16-26-24 W
Phoenix52.7140.52-13-11-25-25-21 L
LA Clippers53.6251.02-23-12-05-35-31 L
Golden State43.5711.52-12-21-02-14-32 W
Sacramento34.4292.52-11-31-23-43-43 L
 
Southwest Division
 WLPctGBHomeRoadDivConfLast 10Streak
New Orleans43.5712-12-21-02-14-31 L
Dallas34.4291.01-12-31-02-23-41 W
San Antonio34.4291.01-32-11-12-43-41 W
Houston23.4001.02-10-20-12-32-31 L
Memphis25.2862.00-42-10-10-32-52 L