This is the same Bulls team that almost missed the playoffs.

Justice, a Democrat, “has sought” to replace Holliday with former Thundering Herd head coach Bob Pruett, the report says. Pruett coached the Herd from 1996 to 2004 and went 94-23.

The Gazette-Mail’s Jake Jarvis writes that Justice summoned Marshall’s university president for a meeting in December, when he was still governor-elect.

“It was not a meeting to say, ‘Fire the coach and hire Pruett,’” Justice’s chief of staff told the newspaper in a statement. “It was a meeting to say, ‘Ratchet up your game and do something to get yourself back to greatness.’”

The school president, Jerome Gilbert, said Justice merely “wanted to talk.”

“I probably shouldn’t comment on any of that,” Gilbert told the Gazette-Mail. “I want to maintain a good relationship with the governor, and it’s unfortunate that this information got out.”

This is the same Bulls team that almost missed the playoffs.

Chicago finished the season 41-41, tied with the Miami Heat. Had they not held the tie-breaker, they could have been on the outside looking in. But the Bulls proved they belong in the playoffs now with a strong Game 1 win over the Celtics.

The last time a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the first-round opener, it was the Atlanta Hawks beating the Indiana Pacers in 2014. The Hawks went on to lose that series, but the loss served as a stark reminder that the top seeds aren’t at all impervious to defeat.

Chicago now has its paws on this series. And if the Bulls can keep it up, they’re just a few pellets away from knocking Goliath out of the postseason early on.

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New England subjectively won 12 of the 15 years in which Belichick made draft day trades

I mentioned this in the most recent Pictures Video, but it’s amusing how Gobert scares great players out of even trying to score. Watch John Wall quickly backpedal after he gets an advantage on his man in the pick and roll.

The Rockets take a lot of long shots, and long missed shots end up in long rebounds. That’s why it’s a good thing they have Beverley. No guard is better at reading weird caroms off the rim and flying to the ball wherever it lands.

New England subjectively won 12 of the 15 years in which Belichick made draft day trades. The Patriots made 54 deals, 33 of which involved trading for higher picks. That propensity to accrue picks in later rounds has been even stronger this decade. Since 2010, 16 of the team’s 22 deals — or 73 percent — have involved the Patriots giving up the higher selection in exchange for multiple picks later that draft or a higher selection the following year.

If history is any indication, Bill Belichick will make three trades on draft day, two of which give the Patriots more selections in later rounds. Odds are pretty good they’ll come out on the winning end of those deals, too.

The biggest draft needs for the Steelers are at outside linebacker and cornerback, so they shouldn’t have any problem addressing one of those at the end of the first round. King gives the team a 6’3 defensive back who can play physically and has exceptional ball skills.nike_steelers_2380

Texans should draft a quarterback now that Tony Romo is retired. Who’s the best fit?

Tony Romo seemed like the perfect solution to the Houston Texans’ ongoing quarterback woes. Now he’s putting the NFL behind him to pursue a career in broadcasting, leaving the Texans scrambling for a Plan B.

Bill O’Brien had a reputation as a college coach for quality quarterback development, but that hasn’t carried over to the NFL. Since he was hired by Houston prior to the 2014 season, there’s been a revolving door of quarterbacks. None of them have been particularly successful.

Romo would have been a great fit, and he said during a press conference Tuesday that Houston was tempting.

The Pelicans haven’t met expectations before or after trading for DeMarcus Cousins. Gentry is probably out the day after the regular season ends.

Hoiberg was right there with Gentry as a candidate for an in-season dismissal. He survived the season (well, so far) but the summer doesn’t look so comforting.

And now this. No NHL players at the Olympics, the one event where literally the entire world is paying attention. At some point (maybe it was the two lockouts in one decade) fans stopped believing the men in charge of the league know what’s best for the sport. That it comes on the heels of the league’s failure of a World Cup of Hockey or the league’s ongoing concussion lawsuit mess doesn’t help that perception.
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D’Antoni took over a clearly talented team that underwhelmed in 2017-16.

If ever the coach of a .500 team deserved Coach of the Year, it’s Spoelstra right now. There’s no realm in which anyone thought Miami, with its 11-30 record in mid-January, would end up in the playoff race with LeBron and Wade gone, Bosh out, and Justise Winslow injured. But Spo has turned Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, and Dion Waiters into the core of a juggernaut! If Spoelstra doesn’t win Coach of the Year, perhaps we can nominate him for a Nobel.

Like Brooks, D’Antoni took over a clearly talented team that underwhelmed in 2017-16. Perhaps even more impressive than Brooks’ work to elevate the unreliable youth, D’Antoni has helped unleash James Harden, the likely MVP, and create a wholly inspiring attack while winning tons of games. (Houston is on track for about 57 wins.) A Coach of the Year trophy would also be a nice form of penance from the media for all the dismissive analysis we’ve given to D’Antoni since he left Phoenix.

This is a classic Coach of the Year case. A new coach arrives at an underperforming franchise, takes a couple months to get the house in order, turns a young player or two into stars, and puts together the team’s best record in decades. The Wizards need to finish 5-4 to win 50 games a year after missing the playoffs. That’s huge! Brooks’ involvement in turning Bradley Beal into a reliable scoring star, Otto Porter into a max player, and Kelly Oubre into a key defender will be smiled upon by voters.

The boy wizard won over LeBron at All-Star, molded an unwieldy, guard-heavy roster into an elite team, and helped Isaiah Thomas become a flat-out star and local legend. Stevens has the juice of a top NBA prospect as a coach. That tells you something. He’d be an excellent Coach of the Year option.
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The Indianapolis Colts will be without Erik Walden in Week 12 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The NFL has protocol in place to prevent players from returning to the field after suffering a concussion, but it wasn’t effective in Denver on Sunday. Wes Welker returned to the field, despite being concussed. Welker suffered a head injury early in the fourth quarter. He was evaluated for a neck injury and the concussion was not initially apparent. He returned to the field on the next drive, before being pulled after concussion symptoms became more noticeable.

The second half was a lot more of the same, with the US struggling against Panama’s physicality, and with the Bradley-Jones midfield duo becoming more and more absent throughout the match, to the point of being an active liability to the team at times. Make no mistake, their leadership in this team is valuable, but not so valuable as to outweigh how poor the pair were for long, long stretches of the game against Panama.

The Indianapolis Colts will be without Erik Walden in Week 12 against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL upheld Walden’s one-game suspension, handed down for his headbutt on Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Walden used his helmet as a weapon when he smashed his head into Walker, who had his helmet ripped off by Walden at the end of a play.

Richie Incognito was the subject of more allegations on Tuesday, with a report that suggested he harassed a Miami Dolphins staffer. Incognito allegedly mocked the staffer’s ethnic background, according to the report. Incognito is currently suspended for his alleged mistreatment of teammate Jonathan Martin, who also has not returned to the team after leaving of his own volition.
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Mike Pouncey missed Miami’s game against San Diego on Sunday

Greg Knopping of Pats Pulpit is staying positive despite a tough loss:

Overall, as painful as the final result is, especially when considering the call, this isn’t a bad loss. The Patriots were on the road, against a very good NFC team, and played some of their best football of the year on offense. And for those keeping track at home, yes, this is the Patriots second loss of the season on a highly questionable call. But I think I can speak for most Patriots fans when I say that they’ll be happy with bad breaks now if the good breaks come for the Patriots in the playoffs.

With Moore out, the Broncos signed free agent Michael Huff. Huff signed with the Baltimore Ravens during the offseason and was expected to play a significant role. Things didn’t work out in Baltimore, and he was released in October. Huff has spent time at both cornerback and safety and is familiar with the AFC West, having played seven seasons with Oakland.

Mike Pouncey missed Miami’s game against San Diego on Sunday, and could potentially be out much longer. Doctors are reportedly trying to avoid gallbladder surgery, but it remains a possibility. The plan for now is to see if medicine can cure Pouncey’s illness instead of resorting to surgery.

If not, and a procedure is required, Pouncey would likely miss an extended period of time and possibly the rest of the season. As Kevin Nogle of the Phinsider wrote, Pouncey’s ability to play through pain will be a key factor in whether surgery is required.
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Roddy White is expected to remain with the team that drafted him.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is expected to sign a long-term deal to remain with the organization, according to the NFL Network.

In a brace covering his left leg, Bridgewater seems to move pretty well before firing off a pass to a receiver.

In late February, Vikings GM Rick Spielman told reporters that there was no timetable for Bridgewater’s return, and would also not say that he was certain Bridgewater could make it back.

Spielman also wouldn’t commit to an extension with Bridgewater’s replacement, Sam Bradford. Bradford set an NFL single-season record for a starting quarterback, completing 71.6 percent of his passes in 15 starts. He had a career-best 3,877 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, against just five interceptions. It led head coach Mike Zimmer to say that Bradford had earned the right to be the starting quarterback.

Just a month ago, Spielman wouldn’t even say he was certain Bridgewater would return. Hopefully this video means he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

Mike Glennon was perfect, maybe not statistically — but practically. Against the Falcons he completed 87 percent of his passes, finding seven different receivers and leading the team’s win. Two straight wins might not be enough to save Greg Schiano his job, but the Buccaneers offense has a lot of build on with Glennon under center and Bobby Rainey, who broke out with three touchdowns on Sunday.

Atlanta is a disaster, it’s that simple. Years of neglecting the team’s defense is coming back to haunt them, paired with injury struggles. There are simply too many holes to be patched and not enough talent to do it. It’s unclear whether these issues can be solved in one year, and it might be time for a full rebuild on defense.
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The Dolphins lineman refused to say whether or not his coaches had asked him to “toughen up” Martin

He told Glazer that he and Martin communicated this week via text message. He showed Glazer the text message the two exchanged, including one in which Martin blames the locker room rather than Incognito as an individual.

The Dolphins lineman refused to say whether or not his coaches had asked him to “toughen up” Martin, which was reported last week.

Incognito is one of dozens of NFL players who have trained with Glazer at his mixed martial arts program in the past. The interview went about like you’d expect it to given the friendly setting of Incognito’s choosing, and the talking points he stuck to were the same ones fed to the public over the last week.

Incognito was suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins last Sunday after the team received a copy of a voice mail message he sent to Martin that contained threatening and racist language. Martin left the team on Oct. 28, reportedly after an incident in the cafeteria.

The Cardinals are a long shot for the postseason, fighting with multiple other teams with better records for a wild card position, yet could feast on a struggling Texans team to boost their chances on Sunday.

“I didn’t hear what he had to say, but he’s not in the building with us,” Kaepernick said. “So what he’s saying really doesn’t affect me at all. I’m worried about what this team thinks and what I’m doing in here with my teammates.”

Kaepernick also suggested media ask “if he (Dilfer) knows my progression first.” Regardless of discussions about how many reads he has or whether he is progressing, there’s no denying Kaepernick has regressed statistically in 2013.14

Dolphins considered releasing Richie Incognito before season, per report

The Miami Dolphins were considering releasing offensive guard Richie Incognito prior to the 2017 season and before the issues with Jonathan Martin went public, according to a report from Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.

Foster had been seeing a number of specialists in regards to an issue with a disc in his back and had been hoping to find a way to avoid season-ending surgery. Foster was already listed as “out” for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals after injuring his back against the Indianapolis Colts before even touching the ball.

The veteran running back has been dealing with a hamstring injury for the last several weeks and had only four carries for 11 yards on Oct. 20 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Foster enjoyed a monster game against the Rams the week prior, racking up 141 yards on 20 touches, but for the majority of the season has struggled relative to expectations alongside the rest of the Texans team.

Foster has 121 carries for 542 yards and one touchdown on the season. The Texans are set to take on the Cardinals on Sunday in the first game with Wade Phillips as the interim coach, with Gary Kubiak still recovering from a mini-stroke suffered during last week’s game.

The Bears have been swept by the Lions and are now essentially two games back of the NFC North lead with seven games left. Winning a wild card could be difficult with the way that the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers are playing. There isn’t much wiggle room for Trestman and he’s going to have to go with whoever gives him the best chance to win. There also isn’t much for Cutler, an impending free agent. He will miss this week’s game against the Ravens with an ankle injury, and McCown will get another chance to show what he can do.

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Michigan was great all month. Oregon made it just regular enough to lose in the Sweet 16.

Oregon is back in the Elite Eight for the fourth time since 2002, after the Ducks yanked out a 69-68 thriller against Michigan in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. The Ducks are going to play either Kansas or Purdue for a Final Four berth on Saturday, and after this one, they’ll probably feel invincible when they do it.

Notwithstanding that the school won a national title in 1939, this is the golden era of Oregon basketball, and now the Ducks have a chance to make it to the Final Four for the second time ever. Their 1939 title came in the first Final Four ever, and they haven’t been back. Only Kansas or Purdue stands in their way after Thursday’s result.

For Michigan, it’s a devastating end to what had been a dream postseason. The Wolverines survived an actual plane accident just weeks ago, won the Big Ten tournament, and got to within one point of the Elite Eight.

Lue’s frustration in the game boiled over, as he was called for a rare technical foul late in the third quarter for getting on referee Zach Zarba for what he believed was incessant physical play by Denver’s Jameer Nelson.

“A team’s up 40 points and they’re just playing physical and hard,” Lue said of the Nuggets, whose largest lead was actually 21 points. “We’re down 40, and we got guys just walking away and doing whatever. So we got to take pride in that, and we got to be better.”

Cavs center Tristan Thompson took the critiques of his coach personally.

In an unexpected twist, the league also announced that this person also had Brady’s jersey from the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seattle Seahawks. Until Monday, that missing jersey hadn’t made headlines. But the fact that it had also been stolen may be part of the reason that the jersey from Super Bowl LI became such a big story.13