Injury roundup: Alshon Jeffery heads to IR

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Is Alshon Jeffery Jerseys finished as a member of the Bears?

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The team placed their dynamic wideout on injured reserve Wednesday alongside defensive lineman Eddie Goldman, ending their seasons just a few days before the finale against Detroit.

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Jeffery was poised for a big contract, and even though he only played in nine games he was still immensely productive. In about half a season, he logged 54 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns.

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The Bears would be wise to make a push to keep him, eventually pairing Jeffery with 2015 first-round pick Kevin White, who missed the entire season with leg issues. Players as good and productive as Jeffery are priorities, especially in a market that will be populated by the likes of Anquan Boldin, Lance Moore, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Kearse, Rod Streater and Andre Caldwell.

This will be yet another test for Chicago’s young general manager, Ryan Pace. Pace has been pushing all the right buttons so far considering that Chicago was all but slated for the No. 1 overall pick a few months ago.

Now, the hard part starts. Outside of Jeffery, Pace needs to make calls on Jay Cutler Jerseys and franchise legend Matt Forte. Though cheap nfl shop 2010 Forte is 30, his versatility will undoubtedly place him high atop the running back market.

Here’s the rest of Wednesday’s injury news we are following:

1. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went home sick before practice got underway. Big Ben is still expected to play Sunday in the season finale against the Browns.

2. Bills running back LeSean McCoy is unlikely to play Sunday against the Jets. Rex Ryan said “it doesn’t look good” for Shady to suit up, which is a blow to Rex’s hopes that he can help send his old team home without a playoff appearance.

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3. Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant was placed on injured reserve as he deals with foot and ankle injuries. Jason Garrett said it was not in the best interests of Bryant or the football team to play in the team’s finale. Garrett added that the wideout will have surgery on his ankle and foot in the next week. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Bryant’s injuries aren’t considered to be serious and it shouldn’t impact his offseason.

4. A slew of Panthers players didn’t practice. Running backs Jonathan Stewart Jerseys (foot) and Fozzy Whitaker (ankle), wideout Ted Ginn Jerseys (knee), center Ryan Kalil Jerseys (illness) and safety Kurt Coleman (foot) missed the session. Linebacker David Mayo (hamstring) was a full participant.

5. Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron said he’ll be able to go Sunday despite suffering a sprained wrist in Monday’s win over the Broncos. Third-stringer Keith Wenning is the backup.

6. Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is undergoing evaluation for a possible concussion.

7. Buccaneers wideout Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve with the nagging shoulder injury that’s plagued him all year.

Diamondbacks demote pitcher Shelby Miller to Triple A

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The Diamondbacks Jerseys have De Jerseysmoted rightHand Jerseyse Jerseysr Shelby Miller Jerseys Jerseys to Triple A Reno, the team announced Thursday.

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Miller Jerseys, 25, holds a bloated 7.14 ERA this season in 14 starts, with a 2–9 record. His performance is a stark contrast from 2015, when he posted a 3.02 ERA with the Braves Jerseys and maDe Jerseys the All-Star team, although he posted a record of 6–17 in 33 starts due in part to a La Jerseysck of run support.

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Arizona acquired him in an off-season traDe Jerseys that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, 2014 first-rounDe Jerseysr Aaron BLa Jerseysir and promising outfielDe Jerseysr EnDe Jerseysr Inciarte Jerseys Jerseys to AtLa Jerseysnta in exchange.

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Miller Jerseys missed time with a finger injury this season, but continued to struggle after recovering. “I’m surprised I stayed up here this long,” he admitted.

Shelby Miller Jerseys Jerseys reacts to being sent to Triple-A Reno, says surprised he La Jerseyssted with AZ as long as he did #12Sports pic.twitter.com/ZTyaoGFTM0

— Robby Baker Jerseys (@RobbyBaker Jerseys12) July 15, 2016

“You never want that to Happ Jerseysen, but my goal is to go down there, figure some things out and get back here as quick as possible,” Miller Jerseys adDe Jerseysd.

The Diamondbacks Jerseys are a disappointing 38–52 and have fAllen Jerseys out of the pLa Jerseysyoff race after a spLa Jerseysshy off-season that saw them sign free agent ace Zack Greinke Jerseys Jerseys.

Subban channels Jagr to win breakaway challenge

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NASHVILLE — P.K. Subban Jerseys of the Montreal Canadiens — with an assist to Jaromir Jagr — won the Honda Breakaway Challenge at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

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The winner was decided by fans voting on Twitter. Subban got 31 percent of the vote; narrowly defeating Brent Burns, who wore a Chewbacca mask on his second attempt, of the San Jose Sharks, who had 28 percent.

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On Subban’s second attempt, he dressed in a Jagr No. 68 Panthers jersey, complete with the mullet wig, but did not score on Pekka Rinne.

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“He’s got great hair; he’s a good-looking guy, that’s where it starts,” Subban said. “He’s had a great career and obviously he’s one of the best players of all time … this is probably as close as I’ll get to him.”

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“I have to give the trainers credit; they found this wig, they spray-painted it, they had to dig up a Jofa [helmet], there were some referee pants lying around. It’s a tribute to Jagr and the great career that he’s had so far.”

It was funny:))) I didn’t know he’s going to do it. P.K.-my little brother :) pic.twitter.com/XFvVjbigWh — Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) January 31, 2016

Burns — and his 4-year-old son Jagger — were the favorites among those in the arena.

On Burns’ first attempt, he was joined by Jagger, and Sharks teammate Joe Pavelski and his son Nathan. As Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo Jerseys staged a mock argument in the net to leave it empty, Jagger scored, then did a celebratory dance and fist-bumped all of the all-stars as he skated by in his Lil Burns 88 jersey.

Each skater — Brandon Saad Jerseys of the Columbus Blue Jackets; James Neal of the Nashville Predators; Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals; Matt Duchene Jerseys of the Colorado Avalanche; Subban and Burns — was given two attempts.

Among the highlights were Duchene throwing a cowboy hat into the stands; Rinne using a guitar given to him by country singer Dierks Bentley as a goalie stick; and Neal passing to Bentley, who scored on his shot.

Rinne of the hometown Nashville Predators replaced announced goalie Jonathan Quick Jerseys of the Los Angles Kings, pleasing the crowd.

Shooters were allowed to start from anywhere in the neutral zone and could use the entire offensive zone, including behind the net (regular-season shootout rules did not apply).

Top 50 MLB prospects: Astros’ Alex Bregman leaps to midseason No. 1

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Here at the MLB season’s midpoint, and with the De Jerseysadline to sign draftees coming up on Friday, I put together an update of the top 50 prospects in baseball, given that a good number of pLa Jerseysyers from my Top 100 prospects rankings in January have graduated to the majors.

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In ranking these pLa Jerseysyers, I tend to weigh upsiDe Jerseys or ceiling more heavily than proximity to the majors. The list incluDe Jerseyss a mixture of pLa Jerseysyers as high as Double-A or Triple-A as well as a few who have signed in recent Weeks Jerseys but have yet to make their professional De Jerseysbuts.

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PLa Jerseysyers who already have passed the cutoff for Rookie of the Year eligibility or are currently on a major League Jerseys roster (e.g., Josh Bell Jerseys Jerseys and Trea Turner Jerseys Jerseys) are not incluDe Jerseysd here. PLa Jerseysyers who have not signed out of the draft are ineligible for the list, which is why Jaso Jerseysn Groome, drafted 12th overall by the Red Sox Jerseys, and Braxton Garrett, drafted seventh overall by the Marlins Jerseys, are absent.

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One important note: I start these lists from scratch every time I assemble them, so it’s not as if I’ve “moved” pLa Jerseysyers up or down from previous rankings. PLa Jerseysyers change, and the rankings should reflect that, but just because a pLa Jerseysyer is Lowe Jerseysr now than he was in May Jerseys or FebRua Jerseysry doesn’t mean he’s somehow gotten worse. It only means I’m trying to make these rankings as accurate as I can.

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Note: The “previous rank” for each pLa Jerseysyer refers to Keith’s May Jerseys rankings; NR stands for “Not Rated” and means the pLa Jerseysyer wasn’t among the top 25 in May Jerseys.

1. Alex Bregman, SS/3B

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Previous rank: 15

Current level: Triple-A

Bregman’s power output this year — 19 homers in 70 games between Double- and Triple-A — has been way beyond anything I’ve ever forecasted for him, and even if you (or I) still want to argue that he’s not going to have more than average power, how could you reasonably say he won’t ever hit 20 homers in a full season when he has done this? He also has pLa Jerseysyed aDe Jerseysquate enough De Jerseysfense at shortstop that he’d be an upgraDe Jerseys over Carlos Correa Jerseys, he has proven very difficult to strike out, he works the count, and he draws walks. He might be peak Dustin Pedroia Jerseys Jerseys with the bat, but on the other siDe Jerseys of the bag. That’s a superstar.

Nate Burleson recalls Brock Lesnar’s suplex during a Vikings-Chiefs practice

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings Jerseys Jerseys will reintroduce joint practices next month in Cincinnati, when they spend two days working out against the Bengals Jerseys before their preseason opener on Aug. 12. It’s difficult to imagine anything in those practices being as entertaining as what former Vikings Jerseys receiver Nate Burleson recently recalled.

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Brock Lesnar was in Vikings Jerseys camp in 2004, nearly making the team’s roster as a defensive end after spending time in the WWE. And Lesnar, who returned to UFC over the weekend, provided Burleson with an indelible memory.

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“Somebody cheap-shotted Daunte Culpepper late,” Burleson said on NFL Network, recalling a joint practice with the Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys Jerseys. “And Brock was like, ‘Who did it?’ The next play, he went and suplexed the guy. He picked up a grown man after the play. It was a Royal Rumble: Minnesota versus Kansas City. … That was a nasty suplex on the football field.”

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In the old “Cheese League,” when the Chiefs Jerseys, Chicago Bears Jerseys Jerseys, New Orleans Saints Jerseys Jerseys and Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys Jerseys all used to train in Wisconsin, along with the Packers Jerseys in Green Bay and the Vikings Jerseys in Mankato, Minnesota, joint practices were much more feasible than they are now. They often come with plenty of extracurricular activity between teams, which is why Vikings Jerseys coach Mike Zimmer said he likely wouldn’t have been in favor of joint practices with a team other than the Bengals Jerseys, whom he knows from his six years as the team’s defensive coordinator.

But while coaches might worry about fights between opposing teams in joint practices, a character like Lesnar could certainly make them entertaining.

Tim Tebow not speaking at Republican National Convention

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Former Denver Broncos Jerseys Jerseys quarterback Tim Tebow will not speak at next week’s Republican National Convention, he clarified on Instagram Thursday.

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The New York Times reported Wednesday that Tebow would give a speech at the convention. Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy while at Florida in 2007, was reportedly set to speak on the fourth night of the convention, the same night presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to formally accept the party’s nomination in his own speech.

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Tebow recorded an Instagram video to deny the report. “My goal has always been able to make a difference in the biggest way possible, and if one day that’s the political realm, that’s what I’ll do.” He added that he is focused on running his foundation in the interim.

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Trump has repeatedly promised to eschew a traditional nominating convention, where speeches are usually given by politicians. While a number of elected officials and political figures will reportedly speak when Republican delegates convene in Cleveland next week, Trump has invited a number of unconventional speakers.

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Jan 1, 2015 at 6:47pm PST

• ROHAN: Examining Donald Trump as a USFL owner

UFC president Dana White and LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis will also speak at the convention, according to the Times. White will speak on the second night of the convention, according to a preliminary list the Times obtained.

Tebow hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2012 season, when he was a member of the Jets Jerseys. Tebow, whose conservative politics are well known, is a prominent social conservative and is outspoken about his pro-life views.

Trump has frequently touted his friendships with athletes on the campaign trail, often speaking of his relationship with New England Patriots Jerseys Jerseys quarterback Tom Brady Jerseys. Earlier reports suggested Mike Tyson, Bobby Knight and Mike Ditka could also speak at the convention, but none of the three is on The New York Times’s list.

Several prominent Republican figures, including 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former President George W. Bush, will not attend the convention.

The 2016 Republican National Convention begins on Monday. It will conclude next Thursday.

– Stanley Kay

Kershaw and others could return soon for mending Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers Jerseys got some encouraging news on the eve of resuming pLa Jerseysy after the All-Star break, with word that injured ace CLa Jerseysyton Kershaw Jerseys Jerseys Jerseys could soon return to the starting rotation.

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After Kershaw Jerseys Jerseys pLa Jerseysyed catch Thursday at Dodger Stadium, manager Dave Roberts Jerseys said the left-Hand Jerseyse Jerseysr would throw a simuLa Jerseysted game Saturday at home, along with fellow lefty Alex Wood Jerseys Jerseys.

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Kershaw Jerseys Jerseys has been on the disabled list since June 27 with a Minor Jerseys disk herniation in his Lowe Jerseysr back.

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He threw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday at the stadium after attending the All-Star Game in San Diego, where he was chosen for the NL team for the sixth straight year.

”That was encouraging for us,” Roberts Jerseys said. ”He says he’s feeling well. All of it is contingent upon how CLa Jerseysyton feels. Not a whole lot is left.”

Roberts Jerseys said he wasn’t sure whether Kershaw Jerseys Jerseys would need a rehab assignment before rejoining the rotation.

”I don’t think he feels he needs one,” Roberts Jerseys said.

Wood Jerseys has been facing hitters in Arizona and will soon begin a rehab assignment as he comes back from a strained tRice Jerseysps.

The Dodgers Jerseys (51-40) return from the break trailing first-pLa Jerseysce San Francis Jerseysco by 6 1/2 games in the NL West Jerseys. They open a nine-game trip Friday at Arizona, folLowe Jerseysd by three games at NL East-leading Washington and three at St. Louis.

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Bud Norris Jerseys Jerseys, Brandon McCarthy Jerseys Jerseys and Kenta Maeda Jerseys will start games in Arizona. Scott Kazmir Jerseys Jerseys and Hyun-Jin Ryu Jerseys Jerseys will start the first two games in Washington.

Also nearing a return is center fielDe Jerseysr Joc PeDe Jerseysrson Jerseys, who separated his right shoulDe Jerseysr on June 28. He will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A OkLa Jerseyshoma City and is expected to be activated Tuesday, Roberts Jerseys said.

Brett AnDe Jerseysrson Jerseys is getting close to returning to the rotation, too, after recovering from surgery for a herniated disk in his Lowe Jerseysr back in March.

The left-Hand Jerseyse Jerseysr threw a 60-pitch bullpen session that Roberts Jerseys De Jerseysscribed as ”electric.”

”He’s really come on as of La Jerseyste,” Roberts Jerseys said.

Next up for AnDe Jerseysrson is pitching a simuLa Jerseysted game, folLowe Jerseysd by a rehab assignment.

Reliever Yimi GArcia Jerseys Jerseys Jerseys, on the DL with strained biceps, has faced hitters and will begin a rehab assignment soon.

OutfielDe Jerseysr Andre Ethier Jerseys Jerseys was to get a scan of his broken right leg on Thursday. If the results show further healing, he will take a more aggressive appRoach Jerseys in his rehab.

Liverpool’s Joe Allen has one year remaining on his contract.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that “decisions” have to be made about midfielder Joe Allen.

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The Welsh international has one year remaining on his contract and has reportedly been subject to interest from his former club Swansea City.

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Allen is currently on holiday after an impressive Euro 2016 in which he helped Wales reached the semifinal stage. And Klopp says he will talk to the 26-year-old about what the future holds.

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“Joe Allen is a good player, it has never been in doubt about this” Klopp said after Liverpool’s 5-0 friendly defeat of Fleetwood Town on Wednesday. “He played a good European Championship like the whole Welsh team, that is absolutely true.

As Christian Benteke struggles to find his feet at Liverpool, could a move to Crystal Palace be on the cards?
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“He has one year left on his contract, that’s another truth, so we have to make decisions and solutions, we have to talk to the player, we have ask the player, we have to think about our situation — that’s how it works.

“In the end we will find the solution, but it’s not done until now so there’s nothing new about this. We watched the games and so we were pretty well informed about the performances.”

Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @GlennPrice94.

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Picks for UNC-Texas, Cincinnati-Xavier & more

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by Seth Davis Facebook Posted: Fri Dec. 11, 2015

Ohio State (4–4) at UConn (5–3)

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Saturday, noon, CBS

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I’m not saying UConn is going to be a bubble team, but Kevin Ollie stacked his nonconference schedule for a reason, and so far all they have to show for it is a neutral court win over Michigan. If they can’t win a home game against one of the youngest teams in the Power Five leagues then the Huskies are really in deep trouble.

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UConn 74, Ohio State 60

Marquette (7–2) at Wisconsin (6–4)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m., ESPN2

Marquette has won six in a row, including oh-so-close neutral court wins over LSU (by 1) and Arizona State (in OT). Wisconsin, meanwhile, has beaten Syracuse, VCU and Temple but lost to Western Illinois and Milwaukee. I’ll go with the Badgers at home, but I don’t feel great about it.

Wisconsin 71, Marquette 67

No. 25 Utah (7–1) at Wichita State (4–4)

Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2

College Basketball Power Rankings: Michigan State still No. 1 as Oklahoma moves into top 5

by Luke Winn

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More That sigh of relief you hear is coming from Wichita State fans, who were glad as can be to see senior point guard Fred VanVleet?return from a four-game injury absence to score 11 and 17 points, respectively, in wins over Saint Louis and UNLV. The Shockers will be even tougher to beat once they get more production from Conner Frankamp, the mid-semester transfer from Kansas who went 0-for-5 in his season debut against UNLV. Utah, as I detailed in my Twitterbag this week, has to step up its perimeter defense, because though center Jakob Poeltl is an All-Ameica candidate, he can’t do it all himself.

Wichita State 78, Utah 70

Saint Mary’s (6–0) at California (7–2)

Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Cal may have one of the nation’s top freshman classes, but the Bears have underachieved this season, losing to San Diego State and Richmond and needing overtime to win at Wyoming. It might help to start with the perimeter defense—the Bears are ranked dead last in the Pac 12 in steals per game (3.7) and are 10th in defensive three-point percentage. The Gaels have a similar profile. They love to score (82 ppg) but don’t play much D (154th nationally in defensive efficiency).

California 66, Saint Mary’s 64

No. 3 North Carolina (7–1) at Texas (5–3)

Saturday, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

People might be tempted to go with the home team in an upset, but this Texas team has been mediocre from Day 1. The Longhorns are especially susceptible on the defensive backboards (326th in defensive rebound percentage), which is going to spell trouble against a Tar Heels squad that is long and rangy and loves to attack the glass.

North Carolina 80, Texas 67

Kansas State (7–1) at Texas A&M (7–2)

Saturday, 5:30 p.m., SEC Network

Kansas State is off to a surprising start, although most of its wins have come against low-level competition. I like the Aggies’ chances to come home and bounce back from a disappointing loss at Arizona State, but only if Danuel House commits more to driving and less to jump-shooting.

Texas A&M 72, Kansas State 64

Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty ?

No. 23 Cincinnati (8–1) at No. 12 Xavier (9–0)

Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

This is truly one of the great rivalries in all of sports. Usually, it comes down to which is the tougher team, which is why I give a slight edge to Xavier. The Musketeers are so strong on the glass that their backup center (James Farr) is third in the Big East in rebounds with 8.7 a game. The trainers bring extra ice packs for this one.

Xavier 70, Cincinnati 66

Florida (6–2) at No. 1 Michigan State (10–0)

Saturday, 5 p.m, ESPN2

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The Gators are trying real hard for first-year coach Mike White, but they are a putrid offensive team. They made just 1 of 12 attempts from three-point range in Tuesday’s loss at Miami, and they are ranked dead last in the SEC in both field goal percentage (42.2) and free throw percentage (65.1). Does that sound like the formula for a road win over the No. 1 team in the country?

Michigan State 79, Florida 66

UCLA (6–3) at No. 20 Gonzaga (6–2)

Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN2

College Basketball Mailbag: When will the 10 remaining undefeated teams fall?

by Seth Davis

The Bruins looked predictably flat in their first game after upsetting Kentucky, but they managed to pull off a win at home over a mediocre Long Beach State team. Gonzaga, on the other hand, desperately needed to rebound from its home loss to Arizona, but the Zags struggled on Tuesday before edging out Montana at home by three points. I’ll give Gonzaga the nod because I like my desperate home teams, but this squad clearly has some long-term problems (i.e., lackluster guard play) it needs to straighten out.

Gonzaga 73, UCLA 70

Syracuse (7–2) at St. John’s (6–3)

Sunday, noon, Fox Sports 1

The Orange rebounded from their loss at Georgetown by dominating Colgate at home; and while I’d like to believe St. John’s will give them a test, I don’t see it happening. The Red Storm are by far the worst offensive team in the Big East, and their propensity to turn the ball over (in nine games they’ve committed 24 more miscues than their opponents) will spell doom against Syracuse’s zone.

Syracuse 70, St. John’s 60

Mahinmi a center of stability for new-look Pacers

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The news was arriving by text, Twitter, email, videos, news sites. Ian Mahinmi, born and raised in Rouen, France, with family and friends living now in Paris, was trying to make sense of the developing Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that would kill 130 people in the French capital.

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He was also trying to prepare for his NBA game that night as the starting center of the Indiana Pacers Jerseys.

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“I didn’t go through the links because I didn’t have time,” Mahinmi would tell reporters later that night. “Let me try to focus on this game, try to win this game.”

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He would produce 12 points and nine rebounds in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Jerseys and their No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns. In playing his best game of the young season, Mahinmi was doing what he could to assert control. He was defining himself once again.
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“It’s a very scary time,” said Mahinmi, who has been living in the U.S. as an NBA player for nine years. “It’s a time where I really want to be close to my family. I have a lot of friends in Paris, and I’m happy that everybody is safe. But I’m also so sad for the rest of the people that got killed or got affected by this tragedy.”

His teammates would be drawing closer to Mahinmi over the days to come. It was the least they could do after all that he has done for them. On the court Mahinmi holds himself responsible for anticipating and covering for their mistakes. In the locker room, before and after practice, on the buses and planes and in the social events that he plans routinely, wives and children included, Mahinmi brings the Pacers together. He is a catalyst to the NBA’s most surprising team.

“He’s the guy that you want your daughter to end up marrying — that’s what all the coaches say,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “If I had a daughter, I would want my daughter marrying a guy like that. He is a terrific human being.”

Early lessons in San Antonio

“T.D. didn’t really speak to me my whole first year, except for, ‘Hi, what’s up?”‘ Mahinmi said of his former teammate Tim Duncan. “You have to be around him and earn his respect a little bit. He needs to see what you can bring to the table and what type of character you are.”

Mahinmi had been the surprise discovery of the Spurs as an 18-year-old big man from France. After commissioner David Stern announced his name as the No. 28 pick of the 2005 Draft by San Antonio, his slot on the scoreboard at the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York remained vacant for several minutes because no name plate had been prepared for him.

Mahinmi remained another two years in the French league before coming to San Antonio, where his three seasons would be blighted by injuries and minimal playing time. But the experience was not wasted on him.

“For me it was his work ethic that really stepped out,” Mahinmi said of Duncan. “You’ve got your best player being on the court an hour before shootaround by himself, getting his shots. He’s always in the weight room. Always on time. Everything to me he does is right. He never does wrong — he’s taking his criticism from the coaches, the press, and he’s never showing any type of bad mood or that he is going to give up on the team or he’s going to be mad. He’s always the same way and he always is so focused.

“Tim, Manu (Ginobili) and T.P. (Tony Parker) are very mentally tough that way. They don’t show much. But they do a lot. Seeing that every day, right away, it was like, man, I want to be that type of player.”

By 2010, Mahinmi was departing in free agency to the Dallas Mavericks Jerseys, who would quickly make use of his institutional knowledge. An injury to backup center Brendan Haywood would create minutes for 24-year-old Mahinmi down the stretch of their successful 2011 NBA Finals comeback against the Miami Heat Jerseys.

“That was huge for my career, for my confidence, for everything,” Mahinmi said of the 27 minutes he played in Games 3, 5 and 6.

“It’s like everything is magnified. All of a sudden every little move matters out there. And all you are doing is thinking about it. You dream about that, you wake up and you’re thinking about it. And the people around you, that’s all they think about too. It’s a time where basketball is just everything.”

I really feel like I have paid my dues. I have been patient. I have been working on my stuff and I kept believing in myself.

– Pacers center Ian Mahinmi

In the course of turning over their roster after the championship, the Mavericks moved Mahinmi to Indiana in a 2012 trade that reunited him with guard George Hill, the former Spur who had become a close friend during their years together in San Antonio. Mahinmi’s education continued for another three years around power forward David West, whose leadership transformed the young Pacers into contenders.

“D-West was more of a leader by example,” Mahinmi said. “He was the guy who was directing people, and that’s what I try to do because I am far back and seeing everything. So when I call the play on defense I try to command my guys to be in the right place at the right time. And I got that from D-West. He was that voice telling you where to be and what was going to happen. On the court, off the court, he was professional.

“It was a big loss for me when he left. I really lost my big brother, so it was tough.”

But it was time. When West sacrificed more than $10 million last summer by opting out of his contract in order to sign for the veteran’s minimum with the Spurs — to experience the same NBA environment in which Mahinmi had been raised — the Pacers faced a turning point of their own. Team president Larry Bird essentially replaced West and starting center Roy Hibbert (traded to the Lakers) with the signing of explosive 6-foot-3 guard Monta Ellis.

The change in identity was abrupt. After years of plodding in the halfcourt, the Pacers were going to relaunch as an uptempo team around Mahinmi, even though he had started only 21 NBA games over the previous eight seasons.

“Ian is a winner,” Vogel said. “To cut your teeth in those two cultures (the Spurs and Mavericks) is why he is who he is today. It’s why he’s so valuable to us as a leader.”

At 7-foot-2 and 270 pounds, Hibbert had difficulty adapting to the NBA trend of smaller, quicker lineups. Mahinmi, surprisingly athletic at 6-foot-11 and 262, is able to defend out to the 3-point line and still recover to protect the rim. The Pacers were seeking to remodel themselves around the strengths of Paul George just one year after his gruesome leg injury, and they were counting on Mahinmi to bring out the best in his 25-year-old teammate.

After an 0-3 start, the Pacers have gone 11-2 while winning their last five games. Mahinmi had 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a big divisional victory against the Bulls on Friday, and he added eight points and 10 rebounds in a win Sunday in Los Angeles amid the emotional retirement announcement of Kobe Bryant.

Mahinmi Throws Down

Paul George hits Ian Mahinmi in the lane for the easy dunk.

The Pacers are No. 4 in points allowed (95.6), No. 9 in defensive field-goal percentage (43.0) and No. 3 in forcing turnovers (17.1) around the defensive leadership of George, Hill and Mahinmi. At the other end of the court, Mahinmi’s ability to step away from the basket and make quick decisions with the ball is providing George with space to attack the basket or post up.

“Ian plays the game differently,” said George, who is emerging as an early MVP candidate with career highs of 27.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists. “I don’t want to discredit everything Roy did. Roy was phenomenal for us. He did a great job. The only difference now is we have a more mobile big, and with his style of play it’s fun for us to be able to get out and run — and have a big that can run with us.”

Mahinmi does not take his long-building development as a team leader for granted.

“I really feel like I have paid my dues,” he said. “I have been patient. I have been working on my stuff and I kept believing in myself.”

In gratitude for those qualities of patience and perseverance, he recalls his upbringing in France. In particular he points to his father.

A world view

“He’s a teacher,” Mahinmi said of his father. “My dad was a teacher, he speaks four languages and wrote two books — nothing that was published, but he wrote the books for himself and for us. Now that I am older I realize that everything he told me is happening.”

His father is from Benin in West Africa. His mother is Jamaican. Mahinmi’s worldly point of view takes account of their cultures as well as his own in France and the U.S.

“He says he’s from France but I don’t believe it,” joked his friend George Hill from the locker next to Mahinmi’s after a recent game. “It’s like you had a passport that had two sides to it — one side said France, the other side said Africa. I said, ‘Which one are you?’ He said it depends on what type of day it is.”

“Oh, stop it,” said Mahinmi, though he couldn’t stop laughing.

“We’ll be listening to music, and it’s like one day he hears African music, one day he listens to French rap,” Hill went on. “I’m like, where you from?”

“I like diversity, man,” Mahinmi said, still laughing. Ian Mahinmi (second from left) has been key to the Pacers’ tight team chemistry.

The open-mindedness that enabled him to embrace the examples of Duncan’s Spurs, Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks and West’s Pacers was passed down from his father.

“His books are great,” Mahinmi said of his father’s writings. “It’s a lot about his life. My dad left Africa at an early age and went to my hometown of Rouen. He finished school and became a teacher for poor people — people who came from Africa, from Eastern Europe, from overseas. He was a great teacher.

“Whenever we would go to the grocery store or we were walking downtown, we would always come across somebody that knew my dad. He touched so many people in my hometown. He and my mom were there every step of the way for me.”

As the center of a team that means to thrive in this era of ever-smaller lineups, Mahinmi’s role is to influence the result without need for receiving the credit. His stats are unimpressive — 7.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and a team-leading 1.5 blocks per game — and yet the Pacers’ overnight transformation from big to small could not be succeeding without him.

“It’s all about direction,” Mahinmi said. “You could go 100 miles an hour and you are going nowhere. You have to know where you are going. And then, knowing where you’re going, you have to go the fastest way possible. It’s like my dad tells me, every day when I talk to him on the phone: You can run, you can walk, but once you look back you have to stop. You can’t walk or run and look back at the same time. That is one of the things he has been telling me and my sisters and brothers. I have been trying to go somewhere with direction and with vision.”

A team unifier

For Halloween last month, he and Hill drew together the Pacers and their families for a Halloween party. A few days later, when he turned 29, Mahinmi brought his fellow players out with him to celebrate with a team-building dinner. He is one of those who treats all of the employees of the franchise with respect. He remembers the names of his teammates’ wives and their children.

“I am really proud of that,” Mahinmi said. “I like to know them personally. When you go up to your teammate’s wife and you call her by her first name, she appreciates that. I think that brings us closer as a team.”

What is the secret to chemistry? The pursuit of this question has been directing Mahinmi all his life toward the summit of this high, humble position he holds now, as the unnoticed and yet indispensable member of a team that is outperforming expectations. This is why his teammates have been rallying to support him in these recent days, in the mourning of the attacks on Paris.

“For me this is much more important,” Mahinmi said of his relationships. “You can be a great basketball player, but at the end of the day I’m not just looking at that. I’m looking at you as a person and what type of character you are. And we have great characters. And when I see that, I welcome you into my family. I want to embrace everything, and let’s be more than teammates.”

Let us be more than we were. This is how the big man moves forward, looking ahead, with purpose and joy.

Ian Thomsen has covered the NBA since 2000. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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