Bad break for Aztecs as Lamont Butler suffers wrist injury


Three thoughts on San Diego State’s 72-47 win against Long Beach State on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena:

With 9:02 left, sophomore guard Lamont Butler split the defense, dribbled down the lane, elevated and threw down a two-handed jam that drew maybe the loudest roar on a night when the Aztecs would dunk six other times.

At least it’s a good memory to hold for the next month, while he sits out with a broken left wrist.

Butler immediately pointed to his wrist and asked out of the game. The initial prognosis was a sprain and that he could return if necessary. It wasn’t necessary, with SDSU up 27, and he didn’t.

But X-rays Wednesday showed a non-displaced fracture (that won’t require surgery), and the Aztecs now must play the remainder of the nonconference season without their 6-foot-2 bull in a china shop.

“It’s like a skateboard accident,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “He put out his hand to brace himself on the fall and fractured the wrist.”

The good news: Because of exam week and the Christmas holiday, that encompasses only five Division I games. Had he missed the month of January, it would be nine. And because it’s an arm instead of a lower body injury, he can maintain some semblance of fitness.

The bad news: He won’t play at No. 24 Michigan on Saturday or Dec. 17 against Saint Mary’s in Phoenix — the two remaining nonconference chances at quality wins so important for NCAA Tournament selection purposes.

Butler had made the biggest stride of SDSU’s three-man freshman class from last season, earning a starting spot ahead of fifth-year senior Adam Seiko, regularly guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player (he held USC leading scorer Boogie Ellis to two points, 15 under his average). He also was becoming one of the Aztecs’ most consistent offensive weapons, averaging 12.0 points over the last five games while shooting 47.6 percent overall and 47.1 percent behind the arc.

Now what?

The obvious replacement is Seiko, who participated in part of practice Wednesday after missing the last 2½ games with quad contusion. He played some point for the Uganda national team at the FIBA AfroBasket tournament last summer but doesn’t have the same dribble penetration skills. That, and even more minutes for starting guard Trey Pulliam.

Other candidates for increased minutes are less experienced: sophomore Keith Dinwiddie, who appeared in just seven games last season; and Duquesne transfer Chad Baker-Mazara, who at 6-7 gives the Aztecs more size on the floor but hasn’t yet mastered the defensive system and has made only 5 of 25 shot attempts.

“We can fill minutes,” Dutcher said, “but we can’t replace Lamont. He’s been playing great for us. He’s so tough defensively that he takes the pressure off Trey by guarding the other team’s point guard. The No. 1 concern is whether Trey is capable of playing heavy minutes and having primary ballhandling duties. When he and Lamont are both in the game, they can take turns bringing the ball up the floor.

“But we’ll just have to figure it out.”

2. Next man up

Dinwiddie entered Tuesday’s game with 11 points in six games this season.

Then he scored 12.

It wasn’t an en-fuego, heat-check shooting performance — 4 of 9 overall, 2 of 7 behind the arc — but it was a welcome, timely step forward by a guy whose role will expand with Butler and Seiko both injured. This is a team desperately in need of a reliable, respected perimeter marksman; Dinwiddie might be the only guy on the roster who fits the job description.

“Keith has to shoot the ball for us to be good,” Dutcher said. “Every time Keith shoots it, I think it’s going in. But he missed a couple wide open ones. As he continues to grow in his confidence and his percentage rises from 3, we’ll be a more dangerous team at the offensive end.”

More impressive, in some ways, is what he’s done at the other end. You don’t play defense, you don’t play at this program. It took a freshman season sitting on the bench for him to fully embrace that, and he’s become a committed defender who is taking charges, tipping passes and grasping the sophisticated rotations.

So much that when he wasn’t scoring, he stayed on the floor because he wasn’t a defensive liability.

“When I’m not scoring,” Dinwiddie said, “old me would just be out there. Now, being here, there’s so much more to the game than just offense.”

Added Pulliam: “You can tell defensively, he’s in the right spots. He knows when he makes a mistake now. He doesn’t need anybody to tell him. That’s the biggest thing, him recognizing it.”

Dinwiddie played a career high 20½ minutes against USC last Friday. He played 21 on Tuesday.

“If I have this opportunity and not come in and produce, it’s just going to be the next man up,” Dinwiddie said. “I’m just trying to take as much advantage of this as I can.”

The Aztecs get an extra day to prepare for Michigan, which has a 9:15 p.m. EST tip at North Carolina on Wednesday night as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. They’ll use it, too.

“I told our guys I’d like to give them the day off but we’re not,” Dutcher said. “We have an extra prep day, so we have to take advantage of it. I told them, ‘We won’t tax your legs. It might be more mental. But we have to prep for Michigan.’ They’re traveling, they’re playing North Carolina, so all their focus is on North Carolina. Our focus right now is (already) on Michigan.”

There’s another reason. Because of the four-hour flight and three-hour time change, Dutcher won’t have his normal road routine Friday, where his team practices in San Diego before getting on the plane. The best option was a nonstop that leaves at 7 a.m.

They’ll get in Michigan’s Crisler Center after arriving, but not for a full practice. Experience has taught him that much.

“After we travel a full day and then try to practice, usually that doesn’t set itself up for a good performance on the practice floor,” Dutcher said. “You’ve been on the plane four hours, our flight is at 7 in the morning, we’ll be up early. I like to just get there and shoot around, get familiar with Crisler, maybe walk through a few things but try to get all our prep work done Wednesday and Thursday leading to Friday’s travel.”

The game Saturday is at 1 p.m. EST, so there isn’t time for a shootaround, usually at noon, like there would be before a night tip.

That makes Wednesday and Thursday key prep days. Friday is for travel and a brief walk-through. It also helps that he was able to save legs in the blowout win, using 14 players and no one more than 25 minutes.

“You have to set what you want to accomplish and have a smaller amount to work on,” Dutcher said of the Friday evening session at Crisler. “If you try to do everything in that day, they are taxed mentally and physically and they can’t get it done.”





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NU-Minnesota pregame observations: A couple of early OL injury updates; see the full travel roster | Football








Nebraska vs. Minnesota, 10.16

Nebraska coach Scott Frost (right) talks with Husker offensive coordinator Matt Lubick (left) and Mario Verduzco during pregame warmups before taking on Minnesota on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.




MINNEAPOLIS — It’s a crystal clear, brisk October morning in Minneapolis. 

When Nebraska players hit the field for early warmups shortly before 9:30 a.m., the temperature sat in the mid-40s. Most of the Huskers got their early work in wearing sleeveless warmups, while others opted for loose sweatshirts. 

Coach Scott Frost and special teams coordinator Mike Dawson strolled around the field and watched the early work. 

Here are some other pregame observations: 

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* It doesn’t appear that redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ethan Piper made the trip. The Norfolk Catholic graduate was not out for early warmups like he usually is. 

The three centers snapping to quarterbacks in early warmups: Cam Jurgens, Trent Hixon and Nouredin Nouili. Typically, Piper is the third. 

Nouili, of course, has stepped into the starting lineup the past two weeks at left guard. 

That makes the Huskers a little bit short on the offensive line, as redshirt freshman Brant Banks also appears to be out again this week. He’s been unavailable the past two weeks with what looks like a right-hand injury. Freshman left tackle Teddy Prochazka, of course, suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against Michigan. 

Hixson, junior Broc Bando and redshirt freshman Ezra Miller would all be candidates to fill in up front if needed today. 



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Gronk out vs. Pats, won’t travel due to rib injury – Boston 25 News


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Former New England superstar Rob Gronkowski will not play Sunday against the Patriots and will not even travel with his new team – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – due to a rib injury, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Saturday afternoon.

There had been questions about Gronk’s ability to play Sunday headed into the weekend, with Tampa Bay listing the tight end as Doubtful in their Friday injury report. The four-time Super Bowl champion did not practice Wednesday through Friday of this week.

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Nicolas Lodeiro injury update: Midfielder could travel to LAFC


Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Friday’s season-opening win over Minnesota United wasn’t just the 4-0 scoreline but that the Seattle Sounders achieved it without their top offensive and defensive players from last year.

That Nicolas Lodeiro wasn’t available should not have come as a huge shock, as he’s been nursing a quad strain for a couple weeks. Yeimar Goméz Andrade not being included in the starting lineup — while apparently healthy — was a bit more of a surprise.

Lodeiro is apparently making progress toward a return and could even potentially travel with the team for Saturday’s match at LAFC.

“Better training day today,” Schmetzer told KJR on Tuesday. “Probably a little premature for me to say he’s going to have a chance to play because we need him to get a couple training days in. If he can train in full on Friday, we’ll take him down with us. If he can’t train in full on Friday, I’ll probably wait until the Galaxy game (on May 2).”

The situation with Goméz Andrade is not quite so straightforward. Despite being the Sounders’ most consistent centerback, starting every game for which he was available and earning some mention as Defender of the Year last year did not start either of the Sounders preseason games and came off the bench against Minnesota. When asked about Gomez Andrade on Friday, Schmetzer seemed to bristle at the notion that he should have started.

“Coach’s decisions are coach’s decisions,” Schmetzer said. “What happens inside the locker room, the training room, the training ground, it’s always something I’m not going to talk about.

“People who get excited about the first game of the year and lineup choices are not that well educated. We’re going to need every single player to contribute at some point during the year. I respect the people who have a different opinion than me. I know get second-guessed.”

It should be noted that whatever his reasoning, the decision was vindicated. Nouhou was stellar in his first ever start at centerback, while Xavier Arreaga and Shane O’Neill were both solid in helping the Sounders secure their biggest-ever season-opening win and their first shutout in a season-opener since 2015.

When asked a similar question on KJR, though, Schmetzer seemed to take a softer position and provided a bit more of an explanation.

“It’s still early in the year and I’m trying out different looks,” he said. “Yeimar is going to play a bunch this year, we’re going to rotate some guys. It’s nothing guys need to worry about, get upset about, coach’s decision is it.”



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Gary Sanchez has hand injury after being struck by foul tip


Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez was removed from Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rays before the bottom of the fifth inning, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com was among those to relay. Sánchez was struck in the right hand by a foul tip in the prior inning. While he stayed in the game to take his next plate appearance, Sánchez was replaced by Kyle Higashioka thereafter.

Sánchez has been diagnosed with a contusion on his index and middle fingers, but X-rays came back negative, via Hoch. He is currently listed as day-to-day, but if it does require him to miss time, Higashioka would figure to pick up the bulk of the playing time behind the dish. Those two are the only catchers on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, so another move would be forthcoming if Sánchez isn’t able to make an immediate return to action.

Rob Brantly and Robinson Chirinos are both in the organization on minor-league deals, but the latter remains on the mend from surgery to repair a wrist fracture last month. That seemingly suggests Brantly is next in line should additional catching depth be required in the Bronx.





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Coach Bianco’s Monday Presser: Travel plans, Injury Updates, Intrasquad Report


OXFORD, Miss. — On Monday afternoon, Ole Miss baseball head coach Mike Bianco held his weekly zoom call with reporters.  Here are news and notes from the call:

On the weather conditions in Texas and Mississippi causing problems for the upcoming trip to Arlington: 

“It does throw a little bit of a curveball to our travel and ops people trying to figure out how we’re going to get there. The good news is we’re going to play. It’s a dome, (but) we just need to get there. They’re getting some weather on Wednesday; we’re getting it on Wednesday as well. One of our biggest issues is getting the buses that have the gear on it, getting them there. That’s probably the biggest obstacle right now.”

On the tournament schedule and his conversation with the Rangers’ representatives:

“They said they will do whatever they need to do to make the tournament and the games go on, even if we had to change the schedule a little bit as far as who plays who on a certain day.” 

Bianco did say it is still a little early in the week to determine exactly when the Rebels will depart Oxford.

I don’t think there will be a doubt we’ll play. At least at this point, I feel very confident in that. But there’s a possibility the schedule could change and even push back, if there’s travel delays, and (we could potentially) play Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco on upcoming tournament

Bianco pleased with intrasquads

Even in spite of less than desirable weather conditions in Oxford this past weekend, Coach Bianco was pleased with what the Rebs accomplished during intrasquads. 

All the starters had thrown. We got all the relievers out on the mound at some point to throw an inning or two. Really proud of our guys the way they handled it. Just terrific. They just showed a lot of toughness, a lot of great body language, great energy, and really gutted it out for a couple of days.

Coach Bianco

Bianco also talked about the success of the hitters thus far. “We have really swung it well,” he noted. “I’m really proud of the guys. Not always the best weather, but the hitters have been very business-like. They have really dominated the three weekends.”

Offensively, Bianco identified Trey LaFleur, Tim Elko, Jacob Gonzales, Justin Bench, and Peyton Chatagnier as stand-outs at the plate so far.

Coach Bianco was quick to point out that the team’s hitting prowess has not come as a result of poor pitching. “It’s not to say we haven’t pitched well. Gunnar (Hoglund) has hit 95 (mph) every day out. Nikhazy has pitched really well, along with McDaniel and Broadway and others.”

On Sunday, although the weather was not amenable for all players to be able to travel to campus, some of the pitchers were able to get throwing work in and position players who were able to make it in also did some limited weight room work.

Coach Bianco indicated plans for this week are up in the air given the travel conditions in Oxford.

Injury Updates

Wes Burton: On the injury front, Coach Bianco reports that Wes Burton is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Tuesday and throw long toss on Saturday. He has been rehabbing with shoulder soreness. 

Trey LaFleur: Following an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, LaFleur will be out the first weekend but could be back in the near future. “LaFleur got off to a great start, but got in a collision at first base,” Bianco explained.

He will miss the first weekend. It’s one of those day-to-day things. He’s done really well in his rehab. He’s farther along than I thought he would be at this point.

Coach Bianco 

One player currently out with COVID-19 

As of Monday, one player has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not travel to Arlington. The next round of COVID testing will take place Wednesday. It has been widely speculated that Cael Baker is the player who tested positive; however, Bianco reiterated coaches are not allowed to say which players have tested positive. 

COVID restrictions during games

Individual institutional and state guidelines will govern how dugouts, locker rooms and meeting rooms are handled when it comes to COVID restrictions and protocols.  

Coach Bianco said some schools might resort to putting players in the stands to reduce crowding in the dugout; however, the Rebels’ skipper said Ole Miss will not be doing that because they do not want to take away any more seats from fans. 

He did indicate the Rebels would use the bullpen differently this year because of COVID, much like a pro team would, sending up to 10 pitchers to the pen, where they will sit with chairs spread out to minimize virus transmission. There will be a timer set for 8 – 10 minutes after which players will rotate.  “We’ll have a bit of musical chairs going on in the dugout,” Bianco quipped.

On matchup against TCU: 

Ole Miss opens up against TCU in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown Friday. Coach Bianco was asked about the Horned Frogs.

“They have so many older, veteran guys in the line-up,” he said. 

They always pitch well. (Head coach) Jim Schlossnagle does a terrific job. This team is a little scary just in how old they are — a team that went to four college world series in row.  Although that has been a couple years removed, I think, there is the tradition and the belief of those when they get to that program that they are going to be one of the best programs in the country. When you look at this (TCU) team, they have a couple of aces that could start on Friday night and also have a veteran line-up. When you have a guy that could start on Friday night and match-up with anybody and then you have a veteran line-up, it’s a tough match.

Coach Bianco on TCU

Barring any changes due to weather, the Rebels and Horned Frogs are set for first pitch at 3:00 p.m. Friday. 

(Feature image courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)



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