Female assistant coaches have big presence in Final Four

The moment that coaching went from job to career for Niele Ivey came when Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw handed her youngest assistant an assignment to produce the lead scouting report for Tennessee in a 2011 regional final.nfl cheap jerseys Notre Dame hadn’t been to a Final Four since Ivey’s playing days a decade earlier. And no team, even UConn, was a bigger bugaboo for the Fighting Irish than Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols.

The adrenaline rush when she saw hours of work pay off on the court in Dayton, Ohio, a win that propelled Notre Dame to the first of six Final Fours in eight years, lingers even to this day.

“I can really do this,” recalled Ivey, now Notre Dame associate head coach. “I was already invested, but that took me to the next phase of my career.”

Dionnah Jackson-Durrett arrived at that moment sooner, roughly the time she first put on an Oklahoma Sooners uniform. Now in her second season as an assistant coach at Mississippi State, she helped the Sooners to their first Final Four in 2002. Even back then she wanted to give others what Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale offered her from the moment the coach promised the recruit nothing in the way of minutes and plenty in the way of work.

“She just communicated so well with me and talked to me about everything,” Jackson-Durrett said. “She prepared me every day, and it was hard some days.nfl jerseys cheap china I didn’t want to do it some days — not practicing, but being a point guard. The mental part of it, I didn’t think I had it. She instilled some confidence in me. That’s the kind of impact I wanted to have.

A technical foul and opportunity lost for Louisville

Two minutes, 42 seconds remained in regulation Friday night, in a Women’s Final Four semifinal that was going down to the final possession. Fuehring, cheap nfl jerseys from china Louisville’s 6-foot-2 junior forward, spent most of Friday night struggling to contain Mississippi State’s 6-foot-7 junior center Teaira McCowan, and Fuehring wasn’t happy about it. McCowan finished with 25 rebounds, 13 on the offensive glass, plus 21 points, carrying the Bulldogs to a 73-63 overtime victory while playing the full 45 minutes.

“I tried my hardest to keep her off the boards,” Fuehring said. “The refs were not calling anything in my favor so that did not help.”

McCowan is probably headed for a productive career in the WNBA, and nothing Fuehring tried worked. With Louisville trailing 54-53 and less than three minutes to play in regulation, Cardinals coach Jeff Walz told Fuehring to front McCowan. Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians missed a jumper, and while Fuehring and McCowan tangled for rebounding position, Fuehring said McCowan shoved a forearm into her neck, snapping her head back and driving her to the floor. Whistle. Foul on Fuehring, her fourth.

“When I heard that call, I was confused,” Fuehring said. “I was frustrated. That’s when I slapped the floor.”

The technical foul call brought Walz scampering down the sideline from his bench, screaming at the officials. Morgan William, the best foul shooter in the Southeastern Conference, hit both for a 56-53 Bulldogs lead. Louisville, however, responded with the next six points before Mississippi State’s Roshunda Johnson, cutting open when the Cardinals were slow to foul, hit a tying 3-pointer with seven seconds to play.

The technical irked Walz as much as anything, on a maddening night that saw the Cardinals twice miss potential winning shots at the end of regulation, then shoot 1-for-10 from the field in overtime.

“I struggled with that call right there and then,” Walz said in the hallway outside the Louisville locker room at Nationwide Arena. “If she said something derogatory to the official, nfl cheap jerseys fine. But slapping the floor? How many technical fouls would the Duke men’s basketball team have had back about 15 years ago when they slapped the floor to be on defense? God forbid. So I struggled with that one.”

Mike Tomlin’s spring dinner schedule tips off Steelers’ draft strategy

When dining with a draft prospect around a pro day, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike cheap nfl jerseys chinaTomlin often lets the player pick the place. He figures the selection might reveal a little something about the person he’s considering in the draft.

He’s been everywhere from local barbecue spots to Red Lobster, but the food is an afterthought.

“I love getting out and meeting a young player in his environment,” said Tomlin from the NFL owners meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes.

The Steelers are leaving a crumb trail spanning thousands of miles, and it just might affect the Steelers’ first-round pick for the third straight year.

Two years ago, Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert buttoned up with cornerback Artie Burns at Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach. They drafted him 25th overall.

Last spring, they dug in at The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. in Madison, Wisconsin, with linebacker T.J. Watt and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst. Watt went 30th overall to Pittsburgh.

Joining them at the table next week is LSU running back Derrius Guice, who will dine with Colbert and Tomlin in Baton Rouge before the Tigers’ pro day.

To be sure, sharing a meal is not a prerequisite to get drafted by the Steelers. But it can definitely help, especially because of Tomlin’s affinity for the process.
Tomlin will eat with any prospect even if they aren’t expected to be on the board when the Steelers draft — like running back Saquon Barkley, a projected top-five pick.authentic nfl jerseys Tomlin proves this by revealing he dined with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the No. 4 pick in 2016, the week of that year’s draft. The Steelers had no chance of getting Ramsey but that’s not the point for Tomlin, who’s building a file on a player for now and for years down the road.

“It’s team building,” Tomlin said. “If you’re in our business, team building is exciting. The position is exciting. We’re all undefeated and scored upon. There’s optimism associated with that. I love getting out and meeting a young player in his environment.”

Cowboys feel mission accomplished but still looking for improvements

In the first week of free agency, the Dallas Cowboys were the only team not to have signed a player.

Since then, the Cowboys have added eight players, trading for fullback Jamize Olawale, re-signing offensive lineman Joe Looney and long snapper L.P. Ladouceur,nfl cheap jerseys and signing free-agent linebacker Joe Thomas, wide receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, and offensive linemen Cameron Fleming and Marcus Martin.

“I think we’ve done a good job,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “I think we’ve accomplished what we needed to accomplish for the most part.”

For all that the Cowboys have done, it’s what they did not do that continues to raise eyebrows. The Cowboys were in the final chase for wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who signed a three-year, $48 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cowboys were ready to sink significant dollars into Watkins, which would have been a dramatic shift from their free-agent philosophy since 2012, when they signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million contract.

Since then, the Cowboys have enjoyed shopping in free agency’s shallow waters but not wanting to get burned by the high prices for average talent.

On Monday, Jones was asked if it was difficult to sit out the early part of free agency.

“I don’t know that we were sitting out. We were looking at some options. Those didn’t work out,” Jones said.nfl jerseys cheap china “We are convicted where we feel like we should be on certain players and what their values are and we will stick with that.”

The biggest addition so far has been Hurns, who signed a two-year deal worth up to $12 million that included a $2.5 million signing bonus. Jones said the move does not impact Dez Bryant’s spot, but he acknowledged that the team still needs to have a conversation with the wide receiver about his $12.5 million base salary.

Brewers ship 2017 Opening Day starter Junior Guerra to minors

The Milwaukee Brewers have optioned Junior Guerra, their Opening Day starter a year ago, to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Guerra has made five spring starts and is scheduled to pitch Sunday’s Cactus League finale against the Chicago White Sox. The 33-year-old right-hander, nike nfl jerseys cheap who had a groin injury in the opener at Cincinnati last year, was hampered all season and finished with a 5.12 ERA in 70 1/3 innings. He has a 3.15 ERA in 20 spring innings.

Manager Craig Counsell said pitcher Yovani Gallardo also has been told he will not make the team. Gallardo, 32, came up with Milwaukee in 2007 and spent eight years with the Brewers, starting the 2014 opener. He was 5-10 with a 5.72 ERA for the Seattle Mariners last year.

Chase Anderson goes on Opening Day on Thursday against the San Diego Padres, and Zach Davies was already scheduled to start the Brewers’ home opener April 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Counsell said Jhoulys Chacin and lefty Brent Suter will start the final two games of the opening series in San Diego. The fifth starter will be Brandon Woodruff, but he will work out of the bullpen in San Diego, Counsell said.

Counsell said Woodruff will start in the home series against the Chicago Cubs, who follow the Cardinals to Miller Park.nfl jerseys nike cheap

Outfielders Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips also have been optioned to the minors.

Diamondbacks tab lefty Patrick Corbin for opening day start against Rockies

Left-hander Patrick Corbin has been chosen to start for the Arizona Diamondbacks on opening day.

Manager Torey Lovullo made the announcement Saturday. He’ll make nfl jerseys cheap authentic his first opening day start Thursday night when the Diamondbacks host Colorado — Arizona beat the Rockies last year in the NL wild-card game.

Corbin was 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA in 32 starts last season.

“I’m just excited. I’m honored to go out there. I feel well prepared and ready to go. I got all my work in that I needed to this spring,” Corbin said.

The opportunity for Corbin arose from a groin injury to Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, who is still working his way back to full strength. Greinke was recently ruled out for opening day.

Greinke threw a quick bullpen session on Saturday morning and Lovullo hopes he will be ready to pitch the third game of the season-opening series against the Rockies.

Left-hander Robbie Ray was also seriously considered, but Lovullo chose to keep him on his spring schedule.

“A very well-deserved honor,” Lovullo said of choosing Corbin. “Told him, `That’s a lot of hard work and dedication that got you back to this moment.”

The 28-year-old Corbin was in line to be the opening day starter in 2014, coming off a 14-8 record during an nike nfl jerseys cheap All-Star season in 2013. But he suffered an injury in his throwing arm during a spring training game and had to have Tommy John surgery.

Corbin missed all of the 2014 season and part of 2015, and went 5-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 2016. He was moved to the bullpen that year.

Eric DeCosta won’t rule out Ravens taking quarterback in first round

Would the Baltimore Ravens really draft a quarterback in the first round this year?

Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta didn’t make it sound like the Ravens are primed to select a nike nfl jerseys cheap china quarterback with the No. 16 overall pick, but he also doesn’t rule it out.

“I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we’re going to take him,” DeCosta told the Ravens’ team website.

The chances of Baltimore selecting a quarterback in the first round have never been considered great, based on previous comments by Ravens officials.

Last month, owner Steve Bisciotti shot down the notion that the Ravens were beginning to think about life after quarterback Joe Flacco, saying, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” In January, coach John Harbaugh was the first to indicate the team could draft a quarterback this year but said the Ravens would be “looking for a young backup.”

The future of the Ravens’ quarterback position has become an increasingly hot topic. Baltimore is only financially committed to Flacco through this season, which means the Ravens can move on from the struggling former Super Bowl MVP in 2019.

Asked how soon is too soon to draft a quarterback, DeCosta said, “If we really like the guy and he’s there, it’s not soon enough.”

DeCosta predicted four or five quarterbacks will get drafted in the first round this year, cheap nfl authentic jerseys especially after the impact made by Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Houston’s Deshaun Watson. USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson are considered the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, and it’s possible none will be available when Baltimore is on the clock.

Pierre-Paul trade sets stage for more Giants moves

There is an overhaul in progress at 1925 Giants Drive. New general manager Dave Gettleman is cutting, trading and allowing pieces to walk with regularity these days. cheap nfl nike jersey It’s a necessary course of action after a 3-13 collapse that resulted in coach Ben McAdoo and former general manager Jerry Reese being fired.

The latest exile from Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur’s new regime is defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.

This move surprised even Pierre-Paul himself, according to a source. It comes just one year after he signed a four-year deal worth $62 million with $40 million guaranteed.

Those numbers are at the core of the move. Gettleman is clearing money for the future and shedding a player who didn’t really fit the team’s new 3-4 defensive scheme with Olivier Vernon also on the roster.

The Giants will have $15 million in dead money against the salary cap this year. They save only $2.5 against the cap for 2018 by sending Pierre-Paul elsewhere. It’s in the future that this move will offer its biggest benefit.

The Giants are free of Pierre-Paul’s $19.5 million cap hit next year and $17.5 million the following year. If quarterback Eli Manning comes off the books as well, the Giants will enter next offseason with financial flexibility they haven’t seen in years.

This will allow Gettleman and Shurmur to really put their stamp on the team and build a roster that fits their vision. It’s not a one-year process. Not after 3-13 with five missed playoff appearances in six years. They’re going to need two to three years to rectify some of the mistakes of the past.

The Giants don’t have a single player remaining from their 2010-13 draft classes.nike nfl jerseys cheap china  They are one of five teams, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills without anyone remaining from those four drafts. The Giants have only one player, Odell Beckham, remaining from the 2014 draft.

Muhammad Wilkerson: ‘The guys up front’ key to Mike Pettine’s D

Muhammad Wilkerson might be a little biased because of the position he plays, but the newest Green Bay Packers defensive end should know better than anyone else on his team what’s important in a Mike Pettine-coached defense.

“Really, the guys up front,” nfl nike jersey cheap Wilkerson said. “It starts with the guys up front doing their job.”

Perhaps that’s why new general manager Brian Gutekunst signed Wilkerson, the former New York Jets first-round pick, even if that was probably the strongest position on the Packers’ defense last season. It not only was Gutekunst’s first addition to the defense but also an indication that he will bring in players tailored to Pettine’s system.

Although there are some similarities to former defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4-based scheme, the defense Pettine plans to implement as Capers’ replacement appears to be more multiple and operates best when it has a dominant defensive line.

“Everybody staying in their gaps and stopping the run, and then, ultimately, once you get teams that like to throw the ball, mix up things, do exotic things, the blitzes and what not,” Wilkerson said of Pettine. “So he’s a great defensive coordinator who can put gritty players in many positions.”

Wilkerson, who is hoping to revive a once-successful career, joined a defensive line that includes Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams.

Daniels made his first Pro Bowl last season as an alternate. Clark had a breakout season with a strong finish, and Lowry showed significant improvement. Then there’s Adams, a third-round pick last season who played just 66 defensive snaps last season.

“Those guys have been successful,” Wilkerson said. “And I just feel like me coming to Green Bay will add more athletic ability, of course, to the defensive line. So I’m just ready to work with an experienced guy like Mike. And then you have younger guys like Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry who are on the rise. So I‘m happy to be here, especially with the defensive line.”

Wilkerson has a couple of connections to Daniels, too. They’re both from New Jersey,cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal  and Wilkerson played one year in college with Daniels’ brother, Sean, at Temple.

It may be merely a coincidence that the second defensive player the Packers have brought in — cornerback Tramon Williams — also has some history with Pettine. Williams played for the Browns in 2015 and 2016. Pettine was the head coach in Cleveland for Williams’ first season.

Special teams a priority for Jaguars in free agency

Being among the best teams in the NFL in special teams has been a priority under head coach Doug Marrone. It’s one of the key parts of what he wants the Jacksonville Jaguars’ identity to be: cheap nike nfl jerseys china a tough team up front that’s built around the run game, plays good defense and has consistency on special teams.

That’s why he hired Joe DeCamillis, who is one of the league’s top special-teams coordinators, and it’s why general manager Dave Caldwell has made adding players who specialize in special teams a priority during free agency the past two offseasons.

Last week the Jaguars signed or re-signed nine players in free agency and four of them were done specifically for special teams: Cody Davis, Don Carey, Niles Paul and Lerentee McCray.

“We felt like we had a good core of guys last year,” Caldwell said. “James O’Shaughnessy, Blair Brown, Donald Payne — those guys did a nice job for us but to add to those three guys and bring in a guy like Niles Paul, Cody Davis and Don Carey — and then we’ve got the draft to bring in some more in that aspect, too.

“Not only for special-teams player, but those guys could be good solid backups for us, too.”

The Jaguars successfully converted three fake punts last season. Two were on runs by Corey Grant, who also ranked fifth in the NFL among players with at least 15 kickoff returns at 24.9 yards per return. Kicker Josh Lambo, who was signed on Oct. 17 to replace Jason Myers, made 19-of-20 field-goal attempts, including a 34-yarder late in regulation and a 30-yarder in overtime to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in his third game with the team.

The Jaguars ranked 13th in kickoff coverage and 17th in punt coverage — not great,nfl nike jersey cheap  but not terrible — but also ranked 31st in net yards per punt. The Jaguars were tied for 24th in Rick Gosselin’s annual special-teams rankings, which he has compiled for the past 39 years.