RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin get into dustup during win vs Cavs: ‘It probably happens more than people realize’

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 21:05

A dustup on the Knicks bench between RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin had to be separated by Tom Thibodeau, who downplayed the incident as a normal product of competitive spirit.

“The cameras are everywhere. It probably happens more than people realize,” Thibodeau said. “Heat of the moment. It dissipated immediately. If there’s a flare-up, go talk to each other. When they walked out together [on the court], I knew they were fine. And just move on. Win the game. When everyone wants to win, sometimes there’s a difference of opinion. Just put the team first and that’s what they did.”

TV cameras caught the tense exchange between teammates during a third-quarter timeout.  It appeared Barrett was angered by something Toppin said and stood up to go at his teammate. Barrett was pulled away from the scene by assistant coach Johnnie Bryant.

Toppin and Barrett posed for pictures together in the locker room postgame to demonstrate it was water under the bridge.

“We’re good. We see each other basically every day,” Barrett said. “You tell me that you haven’t had an argument with a family member before. You know what I’m saying? You had an argument with a family member before. That was all it was. Right after the timeout we squashed it. I think he scored six straight points after that, so something worked.”

Still, Barrett didn’t want to disclose what Toppin said to set him off. The Knicks were beating the Cavs by three points when the incident occurred. They eventually won, 130-116, although Toppin sat for the entire fourth quarter.

“That’s my brother,” Toppin said of Barrett.

It was Toppin’s first start of the season, the result of Julius Randle suffering a sprained ankle Wednesday. He finished with 12 points in 19 minutes.

The moment of anger was uncharacteristic from Barrett, who has just eight techs in his career. Earlier in the season, Toppin got into a heated argument with assistant coach Rick Brunson.

Toppin had also brushed aside that incident, but it’s also clear he’s been frustrated by a lack of playing time this season.

“Whenever my name is called, I’m ready,” Toppin said. “I’ll just do whatever the team needs me to do to win.”

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Categories: Local News

<p>Wait, a &quot;Slightly Used&quot; F

@Elfin - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:47

Wait, a "Slightly Used" F-4 Phantom is only $2.9 Million USD?

Squeeeeee! I found one for $1.5 Million. [Ok the engines are being overhauled, but everything else is 0-Time Refurbished. No weapon systems tho, *sigh*.]

I'd paint it like DeadMau5's Nyan-Cat Lamborghini, and get those Uber and Lyft lit signs every Prius around here seems to have, and do Mach+ flights up and down the coast.

It's an F-4 so plenty of hard-points to strap deliveries on to (itty-bitty Drop Tanks!!!).

Man charged with murder in deaths of missing Vancouver mom, girl

Seattle Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:44

The man named as a person of interest in the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Categories: Local News

Photos: Towering Monument Valley buttes display sunset spectacle

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:42

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah (AP) — A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation along the Arizona and Utah border.

Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte’s shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte.

The spectacle draws people from around the world to Monument Valley Tribal Park, which already is popular with tourists.

TV and movie critic Keith Phipps once described Monument Valley as having “defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

It is a frequent filming location, including a number of Westerns by the late American film director John Ford, as well as the 1994 Oscar-winning film “Forest Gump.” In the movie, the character played by Tom Hanks is seen running on the road to Monument Valley, the park’s impressive landscape in the background.

CORRECTS SPELLING OF PHOTOGRAPHER'S LAST NAME TO STARINSKAS, NOT STAIRNKSAS - Visitors watch the sunset on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az. They were there to watch the sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte's shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)Visitors watch the sunset on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az. They were there to watch the sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte’s shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)  CORRECTS SPELLING OF PHOTOGRAPHER'S LAST NAME TO STARINSKAS, NOT STAIRNKSAS - Visitors at the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az., turned out on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 to watch the Mitten Shadow Event during which the West Mitten Butte casts a shadow over the East Mitten Butte. A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte's shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)Visitors at the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az., turned out on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 to watch the Mitten Shadow Event during which the West Mitten Butte casts a shadow over the East Mitten Butte. A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte’s shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)  CORRECTS SPELLING OF PHOTOGRAPHER'S LAST NAME TO STARINSKAS, NOT STAIRNKSAS - A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations crosses Monument Valley Tribal Park from the Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az. on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. The sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte's shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations crosses Monument Valley Tribal Park from the Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az. on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. The sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte’s shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)  CORRECTS SPELLING OF PHOTOGRAPHER'S LAST NAME TO STARINSKAS, NOT STAIRNKSAS - Visitors at the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az., turned out on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 to watch the Mitten Shadow Event during which the West Mitten Butte casts a shadow over the East Mitten Butte. A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte's shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)Visitors at the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Az., turned out on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 to watch the Mitten Shadow Event during which the West Mitten Butte casts a shadow over the East Mitten Butte. A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations played out this week at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation, bordering Arizona and Utah. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte’s shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas) 
Categories: Local News

Jalen Brunson leads Knicks past Cavs in potential playoff preview

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:34

CLEVELAND — If this was a preview of a first-round playoff matchup, expect a mountain of points and a thrilling battle of guards.

Jalen Brunson won his matchup against Donovan Mitchell and the Knicks outlasted the Cavaliers on Friday night, 130-116, running away in the fourth quarter in their first game without the injured Julius Randle.

Brunson dropped a career-high 48 points and MItchell added 42. The back-and-forth resembled a duel, with exciting finishes and little regard for perimeter defense. In a microcosm of the evening, Mitchell soared for a dunk with about five minutes left that cut Cleveland’s deficit to single digits. And Brunson immediately responded with a 3-pointer to bury the home team at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

“You guys have seen it all year. I think there’s nothing that he does that surprises you, and it’s a testament to how tough-minded he is,” Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s always so mentally tough, particularly when he has adversity. He’s nicked up a little bit, but he’s a machine. He just keeps going. And I think that’s the best leadership you could have. The things that you do each and every day. It’s not phony, it’s not fake. It’s not disingenuous. That’s who he is. He’s authentic.”

New York’s point guard had the final laugh as Thibodeau finally unlocked a defense to thwart Mitchell in the fourth quarter. Brunson finished with nine assists and shot 18-for-32, including 7-or-12 from beyond the arc.

Mitchell shot 16-for-23.

The victory moved the No. 5 Knicks (45-33) within three games of the No. 4 Cavs (48-30), but, more importantly, maintained their 2 ½-game edge over the No. 6 Nets (42-35).

Randle, who is out for the remainder of the regular season (and perhaps some of the playoffs), was replaced in the lineup by Obi Toppin, who struggled enough defensively to only log 19 minutes (including zero in the fourth quarter).

The Knicks outscored the Cavs in the final period, 25-14.

“We gave [Mitchell] everything we could,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes we were blitzing, sometimes we were showing. We gave them different looks and they still made it. And then as the game goes on, just tried to make them work for their points.”

The new lineup also brought some hostility. TV cameras caught a tense exchange between Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett during a timeout in the third quarter. It appeared Barrett was angered by something Toppin said and stood up to go at his teammate.

They were held back and the teammates peaced it up in the locker room.

“It probably happens more than people realize. Heat of the moment,” Thibodeau said. “It dissipated immediately. If there’s a flareup, go talk to each other. When they walked out together, I knew they were fine. And just move on. Win the game. When everyone wants to win, sometimes there’s a difference of opinion. Just put the team first and that’s what they did.”

Mitchell was excellent but only managed four points in the fourth quarter when he was bottled up by a combination of Josh Hart’s intense on-ball defense and quick traps.

Before the game, Thibodeau outlined why Mitchell is so difficult to guard and it sounded prophetic a couple hours later.

“He’s always been dynamic. He had that part down,” Thibodeau said. “But I think three years ago he made a major shift in shooting more 3s. And that opened up his drive game. He’s very difficult, he’s shifty. He can crossover out of pick-and-rolls. He can split pick-and-rolls. And I think adding at to his game really changed his game. He’s great off the dribble. He’s versatile in the sense that he can off the ball and on the ball. So you have to be ready for both. And he’s not afraid. He’s a great competitor.”

The new Knicks starters featuring Toppin were pummeled early while giving up 22 points in the opening 5 ½ minutes, prompting Thibodeau to burn a timeout.

Mitchell hit his first eight shots — including three treys — and scored 23 points in the opening quarter. THe only thing holding him back was foul trouble. Brunson countered with his own 21-point first quarter, the most he’s ever scored in a single period. His 33 in the opening half was also a career-high.

On both sides, defense was optional and mostly ignored. Dribblers navigated screens to get to the paint with ease. The first-quarter score was historically offensive: Cavs 47, Knicks 42.

It was the most points the Cavaliers scored in any quarter.

Some of it was a product of Randle’s absence. The Knicks entered with a bottom-5 ranking in pace, which suits Randle’s halfcourt game. Eliminating Randle translated to speedball Friday.

“Whoever you have — and I think this is a big part of running efficient offense is, what are the strengths of the people that you have?” Thibodeau said. “Play to your strengths and cover up your weaknesses.”

The stakes were high and the Knicks rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter.

“We do know the importance of it, though,” said Cavs guard Darius Garland, who scored 20 points in 38 minutes. “We know the mentality they’re going to bring, because they’re a little bit behind us. We know what we’re going into.”

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Categories: Local News

It’s clear players want to play for Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, but he views it as ‘organizational triumph’

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:27

The Miami Dolphins have been on a strong run of reeling in top-tier veteran talent over the past two offseasons.

In trades for star wide receiver Tyreek Hill and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, each indicated Miami was where they wanted to go among teams that could build the framework for a deal. Them and edge rusher Bradley Chubb, acquired at last season’s trade deadline, all signed up for extensions with the Dolphins upon trades.

Terron Armstead, the top available left tackle in free agency last offseason, chose the Dolphins. Linebacker David Long Jr. and others probably could’ve made more money elsewhere but wanted to be part of what’s being built in Miami.

Sure, even in the last two decades of mostly irrelevance, the Dolphins have landed their share of big-name veterans: Brandon Marshall, Ndamukong Suh, Mike Wallace, Karlos Dansby, etc. But the past 13 months alone probably rival the past 13 years.

It shows it’s not just because of warm weather or tax benefits — those have always been in South Florida.

The idea of playing for coach Mike McDaniel has to mean something to these star players. McDaniel, however, the swaggy, stylish, personable football whiz that he is, humbly passes on taking the credit.

“I really appreciate that. I do see it as, really, an overall organizational triumph,” McDaniel told the South Florida Sun Sentinel at the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix this week. “Naturally, when I got the job, I’m like, ‘It’s awesome to be in Miami.’

“People like Miami. So, while that opens the door for you to have an opportunity to create an environment that, all things equal, players will choose to come and play for the Dolphins. And then maybe even situations where we’ll be able to build a team and maybe certain players will say, ‘Hey, we’ll all go for the experience.’ ”

McDaniel operates with a consciousness that any interaction with one player, whether positive or negative, could lead to word of mouth spreading regarding what he’s like to play for.

“That’s something that not everyone thinks about,” McDaniel said. “I know I certainly think about it just because it is a small circle. It is a fraternity, if you will, of a finite amount of people, and word travels fast.

“Why? Because people are very much invested, and this is their lives. How you treat one person — I look at it like how I interact with a player will define me as how I am as a coach, in terms of my personal relationships. All of them are important, and that’s the way it should be. You should be held accountable with, in this profession, how you go about doing business, how much you invest in players. Because that’s what we’re in the business of doing.”

It helps that McDaniel is relatable with players, but the organizational triumph he mentions is about having the people willing to make it all come together at every level. It starts at the top with an owner in Steve Ross who is willing to spend money, invest in state-of-the-art facilities. Then, top football executives like general manager Chris Grier and senior vice president of football and business administration Brandon Shore, who execute the moves to embrace the current win-now mentality. McDaniel has his coaching staff around him, including the addition of veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason after revamping the offensive staff last year. Beyond that, there’s support staff at different positions that round out the quality of the whole operation.

“Those are the types of things that you’re trying to do as a head coach and as an organization, really, is to stand out, to be able to — in an evenly matched negotiation — get the player you want because of everything that you offer, not just the location,” McDaniel said.

“It’s really cool to hear that. I do attribute that to — yes, I’m the head coach — but it is so many people that are involved to make the culture what it is, including the active player participation.

“That is very important to me. That’s something that I hope to always be the case here with the Miami Dolphins, for sure.”

But McDaniels’ demeanor is part of it.

When Ramsey was introduced to Dolphins media two weeks ago, he labeled McDaniel as “weird” — but weird as in unique.

“We’re all weird in our own way,” Ramsey said. “He does things his way. And he’s himself all the time. Like, it’s not fake or nothing like that. So I know that’s one thing all the players have said that have talked about it with me.

“It’s different than what you would expect with maybe a head coach. He be fresh. Everything. He got the shoes. He loves shoes. All of that. It’s different.”

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay, who previously coached Ramsey and has spent time as an NFL assistant with McDaniel, feels the two personalities will mesh.

“I think they’ll vibe really well,” McVay said at the NFL owners’ meetings. “You talk about two guys that are refreshingly secure in who they are. They both got a swagger, a confidence, a passion for this game.”

McDaniel instills confidence in his players, in part by the confidence in them he himself expresses. When people on the outside wonder if the Dolphins will move on from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, he openly squashes the idea of pursuit of any other starting quarterback, including Lamar Jackson after the Baltimore Ravens star made his trade request public this week. Young offensive linemen Austin Jackson and Liam Eichenberg are often criticized? He notes how they need a second season in his system to be judged.

Now, the combination of the cool coach and most talented Dolphins roster in at least the past two decades must deliver for a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2000.

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Categories: Local News

<p>Site: What&#39;s your twitter?</p><p

@Elfin - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:26

Site: What's your twitter?

Elf: Got booted years ago.

Site: What's your Facebook?

Elf: I use nothing from Meta.

Site: What's your LinkedIn?

Elf: Got no clue. I check it twice-a-year to make sure some of my old workmates are still alive.
... Is there a box for Mastodon?

Site: Whut?

Elf: How about my broken-assed website?

Site: I really wouldn't know ...

Elf: Your engineers are dumb.

There really should be a box "Other Site" when you're filling out a Profile that wants to know your URLs.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Tennessee Law That Restricts Drag Performances

N.Y. Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:15
A federal judge put a hold on the law hours before it was to take effect, saying there were legitimate questions about whether it violated the First Amendment.
Categories: Local News

After cardiac arrest, NFL’s Damar Hamlin backs Cherfilus-McCormick’s plan for more defibrillators in schools

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:10

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin joined an effort Wednesday to promote federal legislation to equip schools, and provide training, for administering life-saving treatment to athletes, students and others who go into sudden cardiac arrest.

Hamlin’s on-field collapse during an NFL Monday Night Football game in January galvanized viewers. He received immediate, high-quality medical care, and survived.

The legislation he endorsed, the Access to AEDs Act, was introduced this week by U.S. Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Democrat who represents Broward and Palm Beach counties, and Bill Posey, a Republican who represents Brevard, Indian River and a sliver of Orange County.

The measure would establish grants to elementary and secondary schools that could be used to buy automated external defibrillation devices known as AEDs, batteries and maintenance, replace outdated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED equipment, pay for training and help school athletic departments develop heart screening programs for student-athletes.

“As I was growing up playing football, I don’t recall ever thinking about CPR or knowing where an AED was in my school or on the athletic field,” Hamlin said at a Washington, D.C., briefing on the legislation with lawmakers and representatives of organizations advocating for the bill. “With my coaches on the field and my family in the stands we didn’t plan what would happen if sudden cardiac arrest should happen to me or one of my teammates. On Jan. 2, that all changed.”

People think of cardiac arrest — 350,000 cases this year outside of hospitals — as an issue affecting older people, said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. And that’s mostly true.

But statistics at the Wednesday briefing show it happens to younger people as well — more than 7,000 people under 18 have sudden cardiac arrest each year. Most are student-athletes, advocates for the legislation said. And the survival rate is higher at schools with AEDs.

In 2020, soccer player Mathew Mangine Jr. collapsed from southern cardiac arrest on a Kentucky field — just six miles from the Cincinnati stadium where Hamilin collapsed — and received stellar care from people who knew immediately what to do, said his father, Matthew Mangine Sr.

“There were five AEDs on campus. Yet no one retrieved an AED to apply to Matthew due to a lack of proper training,” Mangine Sr. said. “By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late.”

In 2007, a constituent of Posey’s, Cocoa Beach high school student Rafe Maccarone went into cardiac arrest as he was warming up for soccer practice in 2007. The 15-year-old died the next day. “Schools should have access to AEDs, obviously, and they should know how to use them. That’s how we’re going to save lives like Rafe’s in the future,” Posey said.

“When I was watching the game and I saw what happened to Damar, my heart sank,” Cherfilus-McCormick said in a telephone interview. “It reminded me of when my kids were playing sports and when my brother was playing sports and you saw something happen on the field and you’re like, ‘Oh my God. Are they OK.’”

Cherfilus-McCormick, who was CEO of a home health care company before she was elected to Congress, said she wants people to know where AEDs are located and how they’re used.

“It’s easier for you to use the AED machine than it is for you to learn CPR. Everyone learns CPR, but they don’t know how to use the AED machine. And even though it looks intimidating, it literally tells you what to do, every single step,” she said.

Federal funding would broaden access, she said, so availability and training is widespread, regardless of a community’s economic circumstances and “not based on what school you go to or what ZIP code.”

Also pushing for the legislation are the American College of Cardiology, American Red Cross, National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and multiple foundations.

The legislation has bipartisan support in Congress besides Cherfilus-McCormick and Posey.

Significantly, one backer is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who appeared at Wednesday’s event wearing a Buffalo Bills jersey he’d been given by Hamlin with Hamlin’s No. 3. “As majority leader, you get a little bit of clout around here. And I’m going to use that weight to bring my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on board and get this bill [to] become a law.”

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com, on Twitter @browardpolitics and on Post.news/@browardpolitics.

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Categories: Local News

Rams coach Sean McVay says Jalen Ramsey, Mike McDaniel will ‘vibe really well’ with Dolphins

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:03

There may not be a better person in NFL circles to speak on the unique personalities of new Miami Dolphins star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and coach Mike McDaniel than Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay.

McVay coached Ramsey the past four seasons with the Rams, and he previously spent time with McDaniel on the same coaching staff in Washington a decade ago.

The Rams coach feels McDaniel and Ramsey will mesh in Miami.

“I think they’ll vibe really well,” McVay said at the NFL annual league meeting Tuesday morning at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. “You talk about two guys that are refreshingly secure in who they are. They both got a swagger, a confidence, a passion for this game.”

McVay got word of McDaniel’s quip with Ramsey that he’s going to try to be the best head coach the cornerback has had, a playful jab at McVay which Ramsey revealed at his introductory press conference in Miami.

“I said, ‘He might be that, but he’ll definitely be the weirdest,’” McVay offered as his response. “Mike’s the best, though.”

McVay said he met up with McDaniel while at the league meeting. The Rams coach also spoke with new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in the aftermath of the trade. Los Angeles runs a similar defensive scheme to Fangio’s under defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as it did when current Chargers coach Brandon Staley, a Fangio understudy in Chicago and Denver, held the same role with the Rams.

“There will be some comfort and familiarity with a lot of the different things that coach Fangio will ask him to do,” McVay said. “I have no doubt that he’s going to shine bright in Miami.”

Ramsey wanted a trade to the Dolphins, specifically, once it became known the Rams would have to move on. Miami shipped tight end Hunter Long and a third-round draft pick to Los Angeles for Ramsey.

“He’s really excited about his next chapter,” said McVay, who added Ramsey likes the difference in taxes he’ll pay back in Florida. “He’ll do a great job for those guys, but we’re going to miss him a lot.”

The Rams’ need to trade Ramsey came from being in a difficult salary cap situation.

“It’s tough,” McVay said. “Because he did such a great job for us. I think about when we traded for him in ‘19, and the spark that he immediately brought us. What he was able to do in such a short period of time and how he became a leader, how instrumental he was in a lot of the success that we had.”

McVay said there was constant communication throughout the process with Ramsey, so the six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro understood what was transpiring.

“He’s savvy. He’s got great awareness. It was something that he had seen that there was a possibility that could occur,” McVay said. “We had clear, open and honest communication throughout that process. I’m just really appreciative for the way that went.

“It’s never easy to make those types of decisions because, certainly, you’re not getting better any time a player like that leaves your team.”

DeShon Elliott’s acquisition

Also in the secondary this offseason, the Dolphins added safety DeShon Elliott, who spent 2022 with the Detroit Lions.

Lions coach and one-time Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell offered his thoughts on his one season with Elliott in Detroit.

“What a stud,” Campbell said. “He’s another one of these guys that came in and just worked his rear off. Active snap to whistle, hard-hitting, aggressive, and he was a good teammate.

“He had some bumps in the road early and then came out of it. And man, he was a really great player for us. He really kind of kept us together in the back end last year. We’ll miss him. I wish him the best of luck.”

Elliott played 14 games for the Lions, starting 13 last season. He registered 96 tackles with an interception, a fumble recovery and three pass deflections after spending his first three NFL seasons in Baltimore.

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Categories: Local News

Dave Hyde: Can Miami and FAU shock the basketball world again at Final Four?

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 20:03

Among the thousand-odd texts filling Miami coach Jim Larrañaga’s phone in the moments after making the Final Four last Sunday, one stood out for its uniqueness.

“Congrats, see you in Houston!” Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball coach Dusty May wrote.

Larrañaga texted back, “Looking forward to it!”

Here they were Friday, too. Practicing in the 70,000-seat NRG Stadium where the NFL’s Houston Texans play. Answering national media questions. Sitting on the biggest stage in college basketball and, well, looking comfortable.

“I’m having fun,’’ May said.

FAU is the national surprise, a small-name school having a big moment. Miami is so known as a football school Larrañaga was jokingly asked if he feared football coach Mario Cristobal might recruit 6-foot-7 center Norchad Omier.

“I hadn’t thought of that,’ Larrañaga said, laughing.

The rub-your-eyes aspect for a sports market that’s never had a Final Four team suddenly to have two such teams was summed up by FAU senior guard Michael Forrest. He spoke for all of us, saying, “I never thought I’d be here. It wasn’t even a thought.”

Today’s question: Does this fantasy Final Four have a miracle finish to it? Can Florida Atlantic beat San Diego State on Saturday and Miami win against Connecticut? Could the championship game that will be watched by millions be the same matchup that couldn’t fill FAU’s 2,900-seat stadium when played last season?

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves by thinking what’s next,’ May said.

He can’t. But we can. Miami and FAU making the Final Four together is the biggest surprise in South Florida sports history. If they go to the final it would rocket to the biggest surprise in NCAA Tournament history.

“Do you know the last time one state had two teams in the Final Four?” Larrañaga was asked this week.

“I don’t,’ he said.

Ohio State and Cincinnati didn’t just make the Final Four in 1961. Cincinnati beat Ohio State for the national title. But they were powerhouses, having been in the 1960 Final Four, too. FAU had never won a tournament game before this. Miami has won seven tournament games in the past two years compared to eight in its previous history. Now look at them.

“An unconventional Final Four,’ Larrañaga said, noting no top-30 recruits, no McDonald’s All-America high school players — and, well, FAU, Miami and San Diego State. “There’s just one blue-blood in Connecticut.”

Connecticut is playing like basketball royalty, too. It became the 10th team this century to have four double-digit wins to reach the Final Four. Eight of those teams played for the title game. Six of them won it. That’s what Miami is up against Saturday.

Connecticut is also shooting 41.9 percent from 3-point range and has a middle of 6-foot-9 Adama Sanogo and, behind him, 7-2 Donovan Clingan. Is this the game Miami’s lack of height becomes a problem? Can Omier shoulder this burden?

“Norchad’s an undersized big man [at 6-7], but he’s competed against big guys throughout the season,’ Larranaga said. “Duke has two 7-footers in their lineup. Carolina has Armando Bacot. And Wake Forest has huge guys. Virginia has [players] like 6′11″, 7-foot. So he’s faced size. He’s learned how to attack it.”

Florida Atlantic has size in 7-2 Vladislav Goldin. The question is if it has flexed the kind of muscle that San Diego State brings along the front line. How to prepare for that?

“I think you schedule a Tennessee Volunteers in the NCAA Tournament and do it recently as well,’ May said of the Owls’ win last Saturday “I think that helped prepare our guys. It’s a mindset. Our expression is you’re either the hammer or the nail despite your size. Both teams are probably going to be the hammer on Saturday night.”

Both Miami and Florida Atlantic are underdogs in this game. But then they’ve been underdogs in six of their past seven tournament games (FAU vs No. 16 seed Farleigh Dickinson in the second round was the outlier).

“Don’t pick us, we’re fine with that,’ Larrañaga said of being a 5.5-point underdog to Connecticut.

“We’ll take our chances,’ May said of being a 2-point underdog.

FAU and Miami last played in November 2021 in Boca Raton. Miami had needed a game a couple years earlier. May agreed to it on the condition Miami return a home game to FAU.

“The first half, we weren’t ready for that moment,’ May said. “It was essentially the same group for us, but we were young and inexperienced for that kind of atmosphere. The second half we played like we belonged.”

Miami’s Isaiah Wong made a shot at the buzzer to win it 68-66.

“I left thinking [FAU] was going to be a very good team,’ Larrañaga said.

That game had 2,772 fans. If they meet Monday, the crowd would be more than 70,000. As May said, the teams aren’t looking ahead like that. As Forrest said, “I never thought I’d be here.”

No one thought they’d be here together. But everyone in South Florida is rooting for the biggest shock of all, the one nobody even thought of to see coming: Miami and Florida Atlantic for the national title? Does anyone still believe in miracles?

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Categories: Local News

Teen boy killed in dirt bike crash in Pittsburg

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:54

PITTSBURG — A 15-year-old boy was killed in a dirt bike crash Friday afternoon in Pittsburg, police said.

The crash was reported at 12:07 p.m. at Railroad Avenue and Marks Boulevard, the Pittsburg Police Department said in a statement.

Police said the teen was riding the dirt bike on a public roadway when the solo-vehicle crash occurred.

The teen was taken to an area hospital, where he died.

“Our thoughts are with the juvenile’s family during this difficult time,” police said.

Additional information about the crash was not immediately available Friday evening.

Check back for updates.

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Categories: Local News

Chicago Bears free-agency news: Nathan Peterman reportedly will return as a backup QB

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:53

In his second offseason with the Chicago Bears, general manager Ryan Poles has had plenty of salary-cap space to help him rework a roster that finished 3-14 in 2022.

The Tribune continues tracking all of the Bears’ arrivals and departures and provide insight into what they mean.

Thursday

The Bears are re-signing backup quarterback Nathan Peterman, NFL Network reported.

What it means: Peterman was the Bears’ third-string quarterback in 2022 behind Justin Fields and Trevor Siemian. He played in three games and made his only start in the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. In those three appearances, he completed 14 of 25 passes for 139 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Peterman, 28, has played in 13 games with three teams since he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round in 2017,

The Bears released Siemian on March 16 and signed new backup quarterback P.J. Walker, who played in 15 games with seven starts over the last three seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

March 23

The Bears announced the signing of veteran linebacker Dylan Cole.

What it means: Cole projects as a depth piece, an experienced defensive player who figures to also slot in as a core special teams contributor.

The Bears were active in replenishing the linebacking corps in the first week of free agency, signing both Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Walker as starters. Now they are fortifying the second line of the depth chart and get an experienced veteran in Cole, an undrafted free agent out of Missouri State in 2017.

Cole spent his first four seasons with the Houston Texans and the last two with the Tennessee Titans. He started eight games last season and has career totals of 104 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, nine passes defensed, 10 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

March 16

The Bears are signing tight end Robert Tonyan to a one-year deal, a source confirmed.

What it means: Tonyan, who is from McHenry, joins the Bears after playing in 68 games over five seasons with the Green Bay Packers. After entering the league with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted rookie out of Indiana State in 2017, the 6-foot-5, 237-pound tight end totaled 137 catches for 1,437 yards and 17 touchdowns in Green Bay.

Tonyan’s best season was in 2020, when he had 52 catches for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 17 games in 2022, he had 53 catches for 470 yards and two touchdowns.

Tonyan, 28, adds another good target for quarterback Justin Fields in a tight ends room that returns fourth-year player Cole Kmet. Tonyan has familiarity with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy from their time together in Green Bay.

Tonyan played quarterback for much of his young life until converting to wide receiver in college.

The Bears are signing running back D’Onta Foreman to a one-year deal, ESPN reported.

What it means: Foreman, who will be 27 in April, is joining the Bears off a career season with the Carolina Panthers in which he had 203 carries for 914 yards and five touchdowns. Before that, he had 661 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 15 games over two seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He began his career as a Houston Texans third-round pick in 2017.

Foreman’s deal reportedly is for one year and $3 million.

The Bears bring in Foreman after their former top running back, David Montgomery, signed a three-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Foreman joins a running backs room that includes third-year player Khalil Herbert, who had 129 carries for 731 yards and four touchdowns last season. The Bears this week also signed running back/special teamer Travis Homer.

The Bears released backup quarterback Trevor Siemian.

What it means: Siemian, 31, was the backup to starting quarterback Justin Fields in 2022.

He played in two games and made one start in November against the New York Jets when Fields was out with a left shoulder injury. Siemian injured his oblique before that game but still played, completing 14 of 25 passes for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But the Bears placed Siemian on injured reserve after the game as he underwent surgery on his oblique.

The Bears signed quarterback P.J. Walker on Wednesday to be the new backup.

The Bears signed journeyman defensive tackle Andrew Billings, according to his representatives at SportsTrust Advisors.

What it means: To this point the Bears have done little to fortify their defensive line, and the addition of Billings on a one-year, $3.5 million deal gives them a versatile interior defender who has started 51 games during his career.

Billings, 28, entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick out of Baylor in 2016 and spent three years with the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2020 but opted out of that season during the COVID-19 pandemic and played only six games the following year before the Browns waived him. Last season, Billings started 14 games for the Las Vegas Raiders and contributed 39 tackles and a sack.

The Bears are still pushing to add depth and competition to the interior of their defensive line while also hoping to find pass rushing help.

“I feel comfortable between the rest of free agency as well as the draft that we can get that group as good as we possibly can,” general manager Ryan Poles said Thursday. “At the same time, there are going to be some weak spots on our roster where we can’t fix everything.”

March 15

The Bears agreed to terms with quarterback PJ Walker on a two-year contract.

What it means: The arrival of Walker likely gives the Bears a new backup to Justin Fields. Walker, 28, started seven games over the previous three seasons for the Carolina Panthers, going 2-3 last season when Sam Darnold was injured. The former Temple standout spent two seasons on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad beginning in 2017 and starred in the USFL for the Houston Roughnecks in 2020 before COVID-19 shortened the season.

After the USFL stint, he reunited with former Temple coach Matt Rhule with the Panthers in 2020 and started one game that season and one in 2021.

Walker’s skill set more closely matches that of Fields as he can be elusive in the pocket, and that might have been attractive to the Bears.

Adding Walker creates doubt about the future of Trevor Siemian, the No. 2 quarterback last season. The former Northwestern QB started the 31-10 road loss to the New York Jets in Week 12 despite suffering an oblique injury in pregame warmups. Siemian wound up having surgery and finished the season on injured reserve. He’s under contract for this season with a base salary of $1.865 million and a $100,000 workout bonus.

Walker’s 2022 season featured one of the top highlights of the season as he completed a 62-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to new Bears wide receiver D.J. Moore in the closing seconds of an October game in Atlanta.

The touchdown tied the score at 34, but Moore removed his helmet on the field in celebration and the 15-yard penalty for that infraction pushed the extra point back to 48 yards. Eddy Pineiro missed, sending the game to overtime, and the Falcons won on a field goal.

The Bears made five free-agent signings and the trade of the No. 1 pick official.

What it means: The new league year began at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and the Bears announced their previously reported deals with linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, defensive end DeMarcus Walker, offensive lineman Nate Davis and running back Travis Homer, pending physicals. Edmunds agreed to a four-year deal, while Edwards, Walker and Davis are on three-year deals and Homer on a two-year deal.

The Bears also announced the trade of the 2023 No. 1 draft pick to the Carolina Panthers. The Bears received a 2023 first-round pick (No. 9), a 2023 second-round pick (No. 61), a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick and wide receiver D.J. Moore.

“Having the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft gave us a tremendous opportunity to take steps forward this season and in our plan of building long term,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said in a statement.

“We are excited about the additional picks acquired, including staying in the top ten selections this year, but also the addition of a proven and dynamic playmaker in DJ Moore. We had multiple aggressive offers to consider, but in the end it felt right for both teams in what Panthers GM Scott Fitterer presented and it keeps us in an area of this year’s draft that we really like.”

Poles, Moore and the other free agents are scheduled to speak with reporters Thursday morning at Halas Hall.

March 14

Running back David Montgomery is signing a three-year deal with the Detroit Lions, ESPN reported.

What it means: After four seasons with the Bears, Montgomery joins their NFC North rival on a deal reportedly worth $18 million with $11 million guaranteed.

The 2019 third-round pick rushed for 3,609 yards and 26 touchdowns in 60 games for the Bears, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. He also had 155 catches for 1,240 yards and four touchdowns. His best season was 2020, when he topped 1,000 rushing yards and had a career-high eight touchdowns and 4.3 yards per carry.

Montgomery was a favorite of many during his time at Halas Hall because of his work ethic and character. Poles said earlier this offseason he would love to keep the running back in Chicago, but he noted the contract would have to work out.

The Bears return Khalil Herbert, who totaled 731 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 2022, his second season in the league. Herbert’s 5.7 yards per carry was best in the NFL among running backs.

The Bears are signing former Seattle Seahawks running back Travis Homer, a source confirmed.

What it means: A short time after Montgomery’s deal was announced, news came out that the Bears agreed to add Homer on a two-year deal that ESPN reported is worth a maximum of $4.5 million.

Homer was a sixth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2019. In his first four years, he rushed for 453 yards on 83 carries and had 52 catches for 464 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 18 kickoff returns for 444 yards and a touchdown and 26 special teams tackles.

It remains to be seen if the Bears will add another running back as a complement to Herbert beyond Homer, who has value on special teams as well as offense.

March 13

The Bears are signing former Tennessee Titans defensive end DeMarcus Walker, a league source confirmed.

What it means: Walker, 28, is a six-year NFL veteran coming off a career season with the Titans in which he had seven sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for a loss in 17 games. He was a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2017 and played in 36 games for them with five starts, notching 10½ sacks over four seasons. He had two sacks in 13 games with the Houston Texans in 2021.

Walker’s deal is for three years and $21 million with $16 million guaranteed, a league source said.

The Bears were in desperate need of help at defensive end after totaling just 20 sacks in 2022. Poles traded Khalil Mack last offseason and Robert Quinn at midseason and released Al-Quadin Muhammad last month, leaving limited options at the position. Walker joins a group that includes Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson.

Inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is joining the Bears on a four-year, $72 million deal, a source confirmed.

What it means: The Bears secured another playmaker for a defense in need of them and have guaranteed Edmunds $50 million on a four-year contract agreement. The signing is notable after the organization hit an impasse last fall in its negotiations with linebacker Roquan Smith. Smith was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a second-round pick and later signed an extension in Baltimore for five years, $100 million with $60 million guaranteed.

Edmunds effectively slots in as Smith’s replacement and is the second starting-caliber linebacker the Bears have added in free agency after they earlier agreed to a three-year contract with T.J. Edwards.

Edmunds, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Buffalo Bills, has made 74 career starts and won’t turn 25 until May. Last season, he had 102 tackles, a sack and an interception. His production was inconsistent over his five seasons with the Bills. But when he was at his best, he showcased impressive athleticism and feel. The Bills were in the mix to re-sign Edmunds and coach Sean McDermott sang his praises.

“To watch him mature and grow on the field and off the field has been a true joy as a coach,” McDermott said at the NFL combine two weeks ago.

The Bears, though, pushed to make Edmunds a big-ticket signing in the first wave of free agency and will welcome the linebacker into Matt Eberflus’ system.

The Bears are signing former Tennessee Titans guard Nate Davis to a three-year deal, a source confirmed.

What it means: Davis’ deal is for $30 million over three seasons with $19.25 million guaranteed.

Davis, 26, started 54 games over four seasons with the Titans, who drafted him in the third round out of Charlotte in 2019. He missed eight games over the last two seasons with COVID-19 and injuries, including ending the 2022 season on injured reserve because of an ankle injury.

The Bears were slated to have left guard Cody Whitehair and right guard Teven Jenkins return this season, so it will be worth watching to see how the addition of Davis impacts those roles. Jenkins found some success in his transition from tackle to right guard in 2022, but he battled injuries throughout the year and started just 11 games. Davis played right guard in Tennessee.

The Bears are signing former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards, a source said.

What it means: Edwards, who went to Lakes High School in Lake Villa and Wisconsin, returns home to the Chicago area. An undrafted rookie in 2019, Edwards went on to start 47 games and play in 61 for the Eagles over four seasons. He had a career-high 159 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, seven passes defended, five quarterback hits and two sacks in 2022.

The Bears are signing Edwards to a three-year, $19.5 million contract with $12 million guaranteed. After trading linebacker Roquan Smith midseason in 2022, the Bears had a big need for a playmaker at the position. They also return linebacker Jack Sanborn, who also played at Wisconsin. Edwards played middle linebacker in Philadelphia, and he likely would play at that position in Chicago too, though the Bears could also try him at the Will position.

Edwards played for an Eagles defense that ranked among the best in the NFL with just 243.7 yards allowed per game, a unit that fueled the team’s run to the Super Bowl. Edwards had six tackles and a pass defended in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

March 10

Cornerback Josh Blackwell and defensive lineman Andrew Brown are returning, the Bears announced.

What it means: The Bears tendered one-year contracts to Blackwell and Brown, who were exclusive-rights free agents.

Blackwell, an undrafted rookie out of Duke, was a key special teams player in 2022. He had 23 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He saw time on defense in four games late in the season when injuries depleted the Bears secondary.

Brown joined the Bears in November off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad and played in five games. He has appeared in 28 games over the last four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers and Bears.

Long snapper Patrick Scales is returning to the Bears, his agent tweeted.

What it means: Scales, 35, has been with the Bears since 2015 and hasn’t missed a game in the last five seasons. He returns with a specialist unit that includes kicker Cairo Santos and punter Trenton Gill.

Scales is the longest-tenured Bears player on a roster that Poles has largely turned over.

March 8

The Bears are bringing back veteran fullback Khari Blasingame on a two-year extension, according to his agency.

What it means: Blasingame joined the Bears on a one-year deal last season. And while he didn’t receive an offensive touch, he remains well-regarded inside Halas Hall for his intelligence, work ethic and toughness.

As a blocker, Blasingame contributed to a Bears offense that averaged a league-best 177.3 rushing yards per game while setting a single-season franchise record with 3,014 rushing yards. It will be interesting to see how his role evolves or expands in 2023 as coordinator Luke Getsy continues to mold the scheme around the players he has.

The Bears have significant work to do to stabilize their offense and must work through their plans in the backfield with David Montgomery in line to hit the open market next week. But Blasingame’s return was a priority. The veteran fullback spent his first three seasons in Tennessee and will look to carve out a bigger role with the Bears this season.

Feb. 17

The Bears are releasing defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, ESPN reported.

What it means: Muhammad signed a two-year, $8 million contract last spring to join coach Matt Eberflus in Chicago. Muhammad, who is entering his seventh NFL season, was coming off a career year with the Indianapolis Colts in 2021 in which he had six sacks and 13 quarterback hits. But he totaled just 21 tackles, one sack, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble in 16 games with the Bears last season.

The Bears were expected to revamp a defensive line that contributed to just 20 team sacks. Cutting Muhammad, who will be 28 in March, saves nearly $4 million in salary-cap space and comes with just $500,000 in dead cap space, according to Spotrac.

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Categories: Local News

10 things we heard from — and about — the Chicago Bears at the NFL meetings, including DJ Moore’s energy and adding hometown players

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:52

The NFL’s spring meetings wrapped up Tuesday evening at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix where the Chicago Bears remained a hot topic of conversation.

The Bears traded the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft to the Carolina Panthers earlier this month, collecting the No. 9 overall pick plus a second-rounder this year, a first-rounder in 2024 and a second-rounder in 2025. The Bears also added standout receiver DJ Moore in the deal and then became active in free agency, signing 11 new players in the first week.

General manager Ryan Poles acknowledges he still has plenty of work to do in the draft and in the years to come to fully fortify the roster, but the Bears remain pleased with their progress and excited about the opportunities ahead.

Here are 10 notable things we heard in Arizona.

1. Newcomer Tremaine Edmunds likely will play middle linebacker, coach Matt Eberflus said.

Two of the Bears’ big signings in the first wave of free agency potentially could play middle linebacker — Edmunds, who came from the Buffalo Bills, and former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards.

Eberflus said the depth chart at defense will be open for now, but he believes the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Edmunds could find his home in the middle, which would put Edwards at weakside linebacker.

“What the offensive coaches say is just that big body-presence in the middle in between the hashes there, that’s where a lot of the throws go, and it really deters that,” Eberflus said. “(With Edmunds’) size and length, he has tremendous range in there as a pass defender.”

Eberflus said he has loved Edmunds since the linebacker came out of Virginia Tech in 2018. And he thinks Edmunds, who signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Bears, continued to get better in his five years with the Bills, during which he totaled 565 tackles, 32 tackles for a loss, 18 quarterback hits, 6 ½ sacks and 35 passes defended.

Eberflus craves ball production from his linebackers — and really his entire defense — but Edmunds has only had five interceptions and two forced fumbles in five seasons. Eberflus believes the Bears can get more out of their prized free agent there.

“When you put it on a player’s mind and really start to train a player to take the ball away and then he has that physical attributes that he has — the length and the size and the range — that’s going to come for him,” Eberflus said. “That’s what makes those guys special. The ability to take the ball away is what takes you from a B player to an A-plus player. I really believe that all of our defense can take that step.”

2. It’s no accident the Bears continue to add players who grew up rooting for the team.

Edwards grew up in Lake Villa and played his high school football at Lakes Community. Tight end Robert Tonyan, an alumnus of McHenry High School, was a devoted Bears fan who loved Brian Urlacher growing up.

Add them to a Bears roster that also includes local products Jack Sanborn (Lake Zurich), Doug Kramer (Hinsdale Central and Illinois) and Cole Kmet (St. Viator and Notre Dame), and Poles says it’s not a coincidence he’s been drawn to players with Bears passion in their blood since youth.

“There’s something to it for me,” Poles said Monday afternoon. “I think when you have pride in your local team that you grew up watching, you knew what this club meant to the city. You saw some good times and some good players and I think you’re a little bit more motivated to perform at a high level and also to lead because you’ve seen guys do it at a high level before you.

“I always like that aspect. I think it just means a little bit more.”

3. Eberflus is excited about how Moore fits in with the Bears offense.

Moore was a key component of the Bears’ trade of the No. 1 pick because he is a young player under contract for three more years who produced consistently with the Panthers despite less-than-ideal circumstances with multiple quarterbacks. And the Bears needed a wide receiver.

Eberflus touted Moore’s route-running skills and ability to get yards after the catch. Poles called him a strong, physical player and said he complements what the Bears have in Chase Claypool, a big body who can move inside and out, and Darnell Mooney, who also can separate and be a vertical threat.

After the Bears acquired Moore, who totaled 5,201 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in five seasons, Eberflus went out to dinner with the receiver and his family. Eberflus wouldn’t say which restaurant they went to, but said it’s supposed to have an excellent Caesar salad, which Moore tried.

Also excellent? The vibes Eberflus got from Moore during dinner.

“My first impression of DJ is that he lit up the room,” Eberflus said. “The energy that he brought into the room and that his family brought into the room was just outstanding. And you can feel that light inside of him and the energy that he’s going to bring to our football team.”

4. Crossover practices for the preseason are back on the Bears radar.

The league provided data to teams this week suggesting the ideal window for crossover practices is best as teams ready for their second or third of three preseason games in August. For the Bears, that would earmark the weeks of Aug. 14-19 and Aug. 21-26 as potential target dates.

“Fewer starters year over year are participating in preseason games,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy. “And we’ve seen that there is a benefit at the beginning of the regular season from an injury perspective for players who reach game intensities at some point in the preseason. And joint practices have proven to be a really useful tool for that.

“The data also seems to show that the further back you move the joint practices toward the (regular season), the lower the injury rate during those joint practices and the more beneficial impact they have.”

The Bears were unable to make crossover practices work last summer. But behind the scenes, Poles and Eberflus are pushing to make that part of the preseason itinerary this year, preferably on the road. But with only one preseason road game in 2023, the Bears will have to wait for their schedule to be finalized.

The Bears last held crossover practices in 2021 when they hosted the Miami Dolphins at Halas Hall in the final year of the Ryan Pace-Matt Nagy regime. Pace previously locked the Bears in for crossover practices on the road in Indianapolis in 2015, New England in 2016 and Denver in 2018.

5. The Bears tried to re-sign David Montgomery before he signed with the Detroit Lions.

Poles said early in the offseason he wanted to bring back Montgomery, a 2019 third-round draft pick who rushed for 3,609 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons for the Bears. But Montgomery instead went to the Lions on a three-year, $18 million contract.

“Players do have a choice,” Poles said. “I thought we communicated well. I thought we negotiated well. At the same time, you don’t always know what’s going on in the background, but I thought we did a good job, we were transparent, we were organized and it just didn’t happen.”

Poles then was asked about Montgomery’s decision to go to an NFC North rival.

“Especially David, right?” Poles said. “He definitely is going to run with a chip on his shoulder, so we’ll be ready for that. Happy for him. He’s a guy I’ve respected since he was at Iowa State and I love the way he runs.”

The Bears instead signed running back D’Onta Foreman, who had a breakout season rushing for 914 yards and five touchdowns with the Panthers in 2022, his fifth year in the league.

“He is a big runner who can really get things downhill and can take it the distance,” Eberflus said. “And he is very competitive. So I’m excited to get him on the field and to let him compete for that position.”

6. Teven Jenkins will have to compete for a role on the offensive line.

Jenkins made an encouraging transition from tackle to guard last season and showed promising flashes inside. But durability has been an issue since he joined the Bears as a second-round pick in 2021. Jenkins missed the first 11 games of his rookie season after needing back surgery during training camp and was only sprinkled into action late in that year.

Last season, Jenkins missed more than a week of practices at the beginning of training camp with what the coaches said was an injury issue that neither they nor Jenkins would detail. Jenkins was banged up throughout the year, missing four games with hip and neck issues and failing to complete two others.

Over the first 34 games of his career, Jenkins has played more than 50% of the offensive snaps in only 11 games. His durability and dependability will be closely scrutinized in his third year as the Bears make their offensive line plans going forward.

“We track that.” Poles said. “We talk about it.”

Poles said the Bears are always looking to aid players with notable injury histories, examining everything from “pre-hab” to practice lengths and intensities.

The plan right now is to slot Jenkins at left guard with free-agent addition Nate Davis at right guard and bump Cody Whitehair into center. There has been no internal discussion about testing Jenkins back at tackle.

Still, everything with the Bears offensive line remains fluid with plans likely to change some after the draft.

“The best five are going to go out there and play,” Poles said. “Some of those guys are going to have to be a little bit more flexible. But we feel like (we need) the best five, regardless of where someone feels extremely comfortable. If the whole five collectively plays at a high level, then we feel good.”

7. Count Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid among those impressed by the deal the Bears got in exchange for the No. 1 pick.

Reid is admittedly biased, a big believer in Poles after watching him rise through the Chiefs organization.

“Ryan did a great job with us,” Reid said Monday. “He worked his tail off. He was very organized. He’s smart. And I think he’s going to do great with Chicago. What he just did with the trade was big.”

Reid thinks the Bears’ trade return should energize the organization.

“You’re gaining picks,” he said. “And when you gain picks, you gain players. (Ryan) has also shown the trust in the quarterback he has there now (with Justin Fields). And now he gave himself an opportunity to add more players and he didn’t have to move down that far. So they are still in position to get a good football player (at No. 9).”

8. Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel offered a strong testimonial for new Bears pass rusher DeMarcus Walker.

Walker had a career season for the Titans in 2022, amassing seven sacks and finding his niche as a versatile player who could play both inside and on the edge. That adaptability was attractive to the Bears, who need to inject some juice into their pass rush after finishing last in the NFL in sacks last season.

Walker figures to have a role in that mission, and was labeled by Eberflus as a “hard-charging” defender who “fits our philosophy.”

It can often be awkward to ask a player’s previous coach for a review of his performance and skill set given that organization let him get away. But Vrabel was sincere this week with his positive assessment of Walker and expressed satisfaction the 28-year-old defensive lineman was able to cash in with a three-year, $21 million contract from the Bears.

“He was always coachable and he played hard,” Vrabel said. “And with that, he was able to produce.”

Vrabel emphasized the Titans used Walker most successfully inside, but always appreciated his fire.

“He was always into it,” Vrabel said. “Anytime we gave him a new task or job or role, he was all in. It was never, ‘Well, I’m not sure.’ It was always, ‘Yeah, let’s go. Let’s give it a try.’ I loved his energy at practice.”

9. The Bears want to challenge Claypool after a slow start.

Poles traded a valuable second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in November to acquire Claypool. But the wide receiver had just 14 catches for 140 yards in his first seven games with the Bears.

Eberflus said Tuesday “it’s a little bit unfair for him to come in (midseason) and learn the offense that way and be an expert at it.” But Claypool now has time to get up to speed with both the offense and Fields, and the Bears hope he can emerge from this offseason a steadier contributor.

Eberflus said Claypool is “really diving into the playbook.”

“Really for him, it’s just about learning exactly what we’re asking him to do, with the route running, with the motions,” Eberflus said. “Because we have a lot of motions to our offense and it’s an important piece for him to be able to be effective.”

Eberflus said adding Moore could also benefit Claypool and Mooney.

“Whenever you add skillets, it’s harder to defend,” Eberflus said. “You can’t put your defense in all spots. You can only be strong in so many spots. That’s going to leave an opportunity for another player.”

10. The No. 0 jersey and one roster cut day were among the new rules approved.

The NFL approved several rules changes Tuesday. And among the most eye-catching were allowing players to wear the No. 0 to give crowded teams and practice squads more numbers. Offensive and defensive linemen are not eligible to wear it.

Mooney was among the players to take note, retweeting the proposal with eyes emoji.

When asked if he had ever pictured a No. 0 on a Bears jersey, Chairman George McCaskey responded, “No, I haven’t.”

The Bears were among teams that proposed reducing preseason roster cuts to just one day, in which teams must go from 90 to 53. McCaskey noted the rule doesn’t require teams to keep 90 until that day.

“You can make selective cuts as you deem them necessary, but Ryan and Matt said it was helpful to have that kind of flexibility in training camp,” McCaskey said.

“My big concern at that point would be, you know, that’s a lot in a short amount of time. Not so much the decision-making, because I think those decisions kind of reveal themselves over the course of the training camp, but that’s a lot of people to talk to and that’s a lot of difficult conversations.”

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Categories: Local News

Mike Preston: To NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., Ravens can fill their needs with just five picks | COMMENTARY

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:52

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has never hidden his affection for his hometown Ravens, and sometimes he can go overboard in showing favor.

But deep down inside, there is always that nugget of truth that sums up his evaluation of the team heading into the NFL draft, which begins April 27 in Kansas City.

“They should have beaten, could have beaten, Cincinnati easily with a beat-up, banged-up Tyler Huntley and no Lamar Jackson,” Kiper said of the Ravens’ quarterback situation in a 24-17 loss in the AFC wild-card round. “Physically, I thought they had them beaten had they not had the freakish play [Huntley’s goal-line fumble returned 98 yards for a touchdown] which resulted in the 14-point swing.”

When it comes to the draft, the positions the Ravens need to target are obvious to the Calvert Hall graduate, who has been covering the annual event for ESPN since 1984.

“The bottom line is they need one or two corners, they need one or two receivers and I think a defensive lineman,” Kiper said.

Even though the Ravens have only five picks — Nos. 22 (first round), 86 (third round), 124 (fourth round), 157 (fifth round) and 199 (sixth round) — Kiper believes they can still fill their needs. He said this wide receiver class is weaker than some recent years, but the two strongest positions are cornerback and tight end.

He also rates the quarterback position near the top, but then there is a drop-off. So while the Ravens and Jackson sit and wait to see who blinks first during contract negotiations, Baltimore needs to come away with a quarterback in the draft.

It probably won’t be either Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, who is expected to go No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers, or Alabama’s Bryce Young, projected as the No. 2 pick to the Houston Texans.

But the Indianapolis Colts might be willing to send their No. 4 pick to the Ravens in a deal for Jackson, putting Baltimore in position to draft Florida’s Anthony Richardson or Kentucky’s Will Levis.

“The most NFL-ready, right now, would be Stroud and Young,” Kiper said. “Levis played in two NFL systems with college coordinators. If you wanted to go to [new Ravens offensive coordinator] Todd Monken, you’d have to ask, what kind of quarterback you want?

“If you say we’re going to get away from the runner, you go with Will Levis. If you want more of the Lamar Jackson-type quarterback coming out, then you’d go with Anthony Richardson.”

The Ravens shouldn’t have to make as many difficult decisions at cornerback, according to Kiper. He has graded 28 cornerbacks who could be picked within the first four rounds and 49 total worthy of being drafted.

Kiper rates Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top, followed by Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez. Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. is the top shutdown cornerback of the group, and the Ravens need one with veteran Marcus Peters still unsigned and three-time Pro Bowl selection Marlon Humphrey expected to play more often inside.

Maryland’s Deonte Banks, Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes, Michigan’s D.J. Turner, South Carolina’s Cam Smith and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo round out a superb group.

“Now, if Jalyn Armour-Davis can start to stay healthy and develop, maybe they got something there,” Kiper of last year’s fourth-round pick out of Alabama. “We’ll see. The Ravens need corners, so this is a really good year for them to find some.”

The Ravens’ legacy at drafting wide receivers in the first round isn’t very good. Do I need to mention some of them again? Oh heck, why not? Travis Taylor, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Breshad Perriman, Rashod Bateman.

Bateman was recently critical of Eric DeCosta for the general manager’s honest assessment of the group, but the Ravens shouldn’t back off trying to select one in the draft.

Kiper agrees.

“The wide receiver position is intriguing,” he said. “I don’t know about No. 1 [receivers]. I think there are a lot of twos. I don’t think there is a legitimate one right now. A lot of times, it’s just being in the right place at the right time, the right year where you take one and it works out. It’s just hit or miss. As you go, and you look at most teams, you can go through a history and say, ‘Boy, they struggle with this spot or struggle with that.’

“That’s just the way it is. You can’t be perfect.”

Boston College’s Zay Flowers, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Southern California’s Jordan Addison and TCU’s Quentin Johnston are Kiper’s top ranked wide receivers and will likely be taken in the first round. Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman and Wake Forest’s A.T. Perry are among his top 10 and could still be available when the Ravens pick again in the third round at No. 86 overall.

If the Ravens hit on all three positions, Kiper expects improvement. The Ravens are in need of a pass rusher, but they might already have a good one on the roster.

“I love what [David] Ojabo can do,” Kiper said of last year’s second-round pick out of Michigan, who missed most of his rookie season while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. “He is going to be an extra draft pick this year coming back healthy after being injured and redshirted this past year. They need to develop [third-year outside linebacker] Odafe Oweh. If he comes on, that gives the Ravens a good one-two punch to the outside.”

Easier said than done, of course. But there’s hope.

“The Ravens are close to where they need to be,” Kiper said.

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Categories: Local News

How can The Sun dare to hold O’s ownership accountable? How can we not? | COMMENTARY

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:51

Journalism is not a profession given to pleasing the rich and powerful on a regular basis. One certainty of the trade — at least if you are doing it correctly — is that not everyone appreciates seeing the truth about themselves in print for all the world to read (or at least the Baltimore metropolitan area). In its nearly two centuries of following the promise of “Light For All,” The Baltimore Sun’s reporters, photographers, editors and others have received their share of bluster, threats and legal filings thrown at them from influential politicians, public figures, business people and, yes, even the owners of sports franchises inconvenienced by objective reality.

You think your job has its annoyances? Try getting in a shouting match with Baltimore Colts’ owner Bob Irsay as he blatantly lied about his plans to move the NFL franchise out of Charm City three decades ago. Was The Sun wrong to challenge his false narrative? To press for answers? To look out for the interests of all those football fans who had followed the Colts, bought season tickets, worn the team’s gear and stood by it through thick and thin? Of course not. That’s our job.

We mention this because, somewhat to our surprise, John Angelos, chairman and CEO of the Baltimore Orioles, announced recently that he will not be sharing financial information about the baseball team — or “opening the books” as its commonly known — despite previously promising to do so. And in an interview on a local radio station, he offered some choice words for how The Sun’s Nathan Ruiz had pressed him on this issue. Specifically, he told listeners of 105.7 The Fan that The Sun’s New York-based owners should open their books first, and he questioned their ties to the city.

“It’s difficult for me to understand what that fascination is … I don’t know that I need to be answering those kinds of questions from The Sun,” he said, claiming also that he was “as transparent as transparent gets.”

If the John Angelos of today has a problem with questions about the team’s books, perhaps he could hop in a “Back to the Future” DeLorean and travel back in time to tell the John Angelos of January and February not to repeatedly volunteer — unsolicited, no less — to open them. Time travel may violate the laws of nature, but it still might be easier than getting the Orioles CEO to admit he’s backing down. Once again, when the message isn’t welcome, it’s time to shoot the messenger. Tell us something we haven’t heard before.

But here’s where it gets extra troubling. The Orioles aren’t just any business. As Angelos noted on the radio, they are an important asset for the city, attracting millions of fans who spend a lot of money to enjoy baseball and perhaps a night on the town. (And, as an aside, most of us O’s followers are quite happy with the team’s progress on the field and look forward to the home opener against the New York Yankees on Thursday.) But the bottom line is the Orioles are also a publicly subsidized operation. The Maryland Stadium Authority is expected to borrow up to $600 million to upgrade 31-year-old Oriole Park at Camden Yards — that’s substantially more public funding than most communities have lavished on renovating an existing sports stadium. The taxpayers have an interest here. And did we mention that the Orioles haven’t signed a new lease? Seems like reporters should be asking more questions, not fewer, about the preferred financial treatment given pro sports teams.

We can understand why the son of Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos, whose ailing health has led to many headlines about family squabbling over financial matters that are surely uncomfortable to read, might be sore at The Sun for doing its duty. It’s tough to be put in the spotlight.

And far be it from the editorial board of the local newspaper to tell him how to run his business. We’ll leave that (mostly) to the sports department. But we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the Orioles sign catcher Adley “5 for 5″ Rutschman to a long-term contract with some of that undisclosed largesse. Unlike ownership, there’s a guy who can handle a fastball.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the newsroom.

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Categories: Local News

GATORS PODCAST: Anthony Richardson, spring football, Final Four (Ep. 159)

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:50

Former Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson drew a crowd at the Pro Day, where he showcased his arm strength and athleticism for all 32 NFL teams. While Richardson’s draft position is one of the draft’s storylines, the Gators move forward during spring practices. Coach Billy Napier’s Year 2 fortunes rest on a robust run game and improved play up front, where a key O-line injury looms large. During the latest Swamp Things, Mark and Edgar break down Pro Day, share their thoughts on spring practice and discuss college basketball’s biggest weekend.

  • Final Four weekend (1:08)
  • Gator Pro Day: Anthony Richardson (3:54)
  • Where’s Richardson going? (12:46)
  • Richardson: Risk vs. reward (20:15)
  • O’Cyrus Torrence & Gervon Dexter Sr. (25:40)
  • Other standouts (30:00)
  • Men’s basketball recruits (32:20)
  • Women’s basketball recruits (39:08)
  • Spring football: Look at QBs (43:52)
  • Jeremy Foley’s Corner (52:50)

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Mikal Bridges explodes for 42 points, Nets beat Hawks for second straight win

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:40

Mikal Bridges drove the lane, hop-stepped, pump-faked to get his man in the air, then absorbed the contact, whipped the ball off the glass with English for the and-one bucket.

Then he turned around and flexed for the camera before dapping up his teammate, Dorian Finney-Smith.

The basket was the dagger in the Nets’ 124-107 victory over the No. 8-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Friday, a moment that prompted Hawks head coach Quin Snyder to throw in the proverbial towel and empty his bench down big with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

It also gave Nets fans something to celebrate: First came the “Brooklyn Bridges” chants. Then came the clamors for MVP.

So much of the discussion surrounding the Nets in the aftermath of the pair of mega trades that sent Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving out West has centered around Brooklyn’s lack of a primary offensive weapon.

It’s the reason why, prior to Wednesday’s “pretty lucky” victory over the lottery-bound Houston Rockets, the Nets had dropped six of their previous seven games.

And then games like Bridges’ explosive performance in a must-win against the Hawks happen to serve a stark reminder the Nets have a bright future, even if it’s not built around a pair of mega-star talents like Durant and Irving.

Bridges exploded for 42 points in Friday’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks. He shot 16-of-24 from the field and five-of-eight from downtown. It was his third 40-plus-point game since the trade to the Nets and his second such night in his last three games.

Chants of the star’s fan-bestowed nickname ‘Brooklyn Bridges’ echoed throughout Barclays Center as he torched the Hawks on Friday. His performance was reassuring for two reasons: His offense powered the Nets to a convincing victory over a Hawks team they just lost to in late February.

It also answered a burning question, one the Nets will likely attempt to continue answering in free agency this upcoming summer:

Where will the points come from if the offense stifles?

Bridges clearly fits the bill — even if his true role is the second or third-best player on a legitimate championship contender. His stretch in Phoenix without Devin Booker was no fluke.

When Booker — an all-world scorer — went down on Christmas Day with a groin injury that sidelined him until Feb. 7, Suns head coach Monty Williams featured Bridges in the offense in his place.

Bridges, who was averaging 15.7 points on the season up until that point, averaged 19.3 points in the featured perimeter offensive role for the Suns.

And entering Friday night’s matchup against the Hawks, Bridges was averaging 26.8 points per game since his arrival alongside Cam Johnson in the deal that sent Durant to Phoenix. Those numbers increased after 42 points on Friday.

“Just saying aggressive, teammates finding me, coaches drawing up nice plays,” Bridges said in his walk-off interview. “They give me confidence to go out there and hoop.”

Bridges is not Durant, but it’s clear he’s a foundational piece the Nets can build around for years to come. More importantly — and a sticking point for the Nets after the years long Irving debacle — availability is his best ability. Bridges is on pace to play 83 games this season, one more than the length of the 82-game regular-season schedule.

The Nets now prepare for their final five games of the regular season and host the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center on Sunday. If this is the version of Bridges the Nets can expect on a nightly basis, those conversations about a lead star might be tabled — at least until the playoffs roll around.

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Categories: Local News

“I’m on top of the world”: Warriors honor Oakland Tech girls basketball team

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 19:35

SAN FRANCISCO — The crowd at Chase Center celebrated a dynasty before the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs tipped off on Friday night. 

No, the fans weren’t saluting the visiting Spurs, who won five titles from 1999 to 2014. Nor were they applauding the hometown Warriors, the team that took San Antonio’s mantle as the NBA’s model franchise with four titles since the Spurs’ last. 

The subject of their adulation was the Oakland Tech girls basketball team, exactly three weeks to the day that the Bulldogs claimed the program’s third state title in as many tournaments by defeating Santiago-Corona 75-52 in the Division I championship game. 

Oakland Tech, which did the school’s trademark “O-T” celebration when shown on the jumbotron, was recognized at midcourt by the team that won three of its four modern-day championships while still in “The Town.”

Mari Somvichian, Tech’s senior point guard, told first-year teammates Jhai Johnson and Terri’A Russell to not take the night’s festivities for granted.

“It goes by so quickly because it feels like just yesterday that I was a freshman,” Somvichian said. “I definitely want them to enjoy this moment, and take it all in.”

The Warriors had honored the team after winning Division III last year, and senior Erin Sellers characterized the event as a tradition.

“It’s like we know each other now,” said the Oakland Athletic League MVP, who called the ceremony “a nice reunion.”

The senior class, which ended its high school careers with zero playoff losses, has spent the last few days socializing with other prolific winners.

A few days before meeting Stephen Curry and the defending champion Warriors, Tech’s girls were visited by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a player who won three high school, three collegiate and six NBA titles. 

Though winning is nice, Abdul-Jabbar discussed more than basketball with the Tech team.

“His main message was to pursue education, and pair it with basketball,” Somvichian said. “He said the best way to achieve success was to use those two things together, and then great things will happen.”

Tech coach Leroy Hurt drew parallels between his team and the Warriors, noting both showed the importance of allowing a group to grow together through struggles.

Struggles that led to joyous moments like the one Friday night.

“I’m on top of the world,” Hurt said. “To get to do this stuff, where I watch Jordan Poole and Curry and all these people here, and I’m standing on the floor with the trophy in my hand … what more can I say?”

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Tech has not lost a game to an Oakland Section opponent since 2018, a run of local dominance that rivals the Warriors over the Western Conference during their late-2010s peak.

This season’s Bulldogs team dominated a slew of perennial powers on its way to a title, winning each of its five games by double-digit margins.

With his team graduating six seniors, Hurt doesn’t consider future ceremonies at Chase Center to be a guarantee. Instead of looking ahead, the Tech alum focused on celebrating the incredible run the team has gone on over the last five years.

“I want to stay as hungry as I was when we won our first one,” Hurt said. “You can be a great coach and never win a title, and I’ve got three, so I’m just the happiest guy in the world. I never saw it coming, but we’re here. These kids have taken us to new heights.”

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