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Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas named AP First Team All-American

Posted on 01 April 2014 by WNST Staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Senior Alyssa Thomas of the Maryland women’s basketball team was one of five players in the country to be named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press Tuesday. Thomas made the AP’s First Team as a sophomore in 2012 and Second Team in 2013.

Thomas is joined on the AP’s First Team by Breanna Stewart (Connecticut), Odyssey Sims (Baylor), Kayla McBride (Notre Dame) and Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford).

Thomas, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., was honored as an All-American by the USBWA for the third straight year as well Monday.

She was named ACC Player of the Year for the third consecutive year by the Blue Ribbon Panel earlier this month. Thomas is just the second player in history to earn the ACC’s top individual honor three times.

Thomas leads the Terrapins (27-6) in scoring with 19.1 points per game and in rebounding with 11.0 rebounds per game and averaged 4.3 assists per game. In the NCAA First Round, she scored 13 points to surpass Juan Dixon as Maryland’s all-time leading scorer. She currently has 2,320 career points and scored a career-high 33 in the Terps’ 73-62 win over top-seeded Tennessee Sunday.

Thomas has an ACC-best 27 double-doubles in 33 games played this year and leads the nation with four triple-doubles. She is one of just three players in NCAA history with six or more triple-doubles in her career and is one triple-double shy of tying the NCAA career and season records.

Fourth-seeded Maryland will take on third-seeded Louisville (33-4) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the NCAA Elite Eight at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. The Terps-Cardinals matchup will be shown on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

For the full bracket, log on to http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/basketball-women/d1.

In last year’s NCAA Tournament run, the fourth-seeded Terrapins cruised past Quinnipiac, 72-52, in the First Round in College Park, then beat Michigan State, 74-49 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Maryland fell to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Sweet Sixteen in Bridgeport, Conn.

This marks Maryland’s 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance and 10th in head coach Brenda Frese’s 12 years. She’s led Maryland to five Elite Eights, six Sweet Sixteens, a Final Four and the 2006 NCAA Championship. Her all-time record with Maryland in the Tournament is 24-8 (.750).

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Towson RB West, OL Pike named AP All-American

Posted on 18 December 2013 by WNST Staff

Ralph D. Russo | The Associated Press

Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and fellow Walter Payton Award finalist Terrance West of Towson have been selected to The Associated Press FCS All-America team.

Garoppolo passed for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns and won the Payton award as the top player in FCS. The senior led Eastern Illinois (12-2) to the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs.

West has run for 2,295 yards and tied an FCS record with 39 touchdowns to help Towson (12-2) reach this weekend’s semifinals after it eliminated Eastern Illinois last week.

Montana State defensive end Brad Daly, who won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in FCS, was selected to the first-team defense, along with cornerback Marcus Williams of two-time defending national champion North Dakota State.

FIRST TEAM
POS. PLAYER SCHOOL YEAR
QB Jimmy Garoppolo Eastern Illinois Sr.
RB Terrance West Towson Jr.
RB Zach Zenner South Dakota State Sr.
OL Billy Turner North Dakota State Sr.
OL Eric Pike Towson Sr.
OL Dakota Dozier Furman Sr.
OL Ashton Miller Eastern Washington Sr.
OL Danny Kistler Montana Sr.
WR Erik Lora Eastern Illinois Sr.
WR Cooper Kupp Eastern Washington Redshirt Fr.
TE MyCole Pruitt Southern Illinois Jr.
All-purpose Fabian Truss Samford Sr.
K Seth Sebastien Southeastern Louisiana Sr.
DL Brad Daly Montana State Sr.
DL Shaquille Riddick Gardner-Webb Jr.
DL Davis Tull Chattanooga Jr.
DL Sullivan Grosz Cal Poly Sr.
LB Stephon Robertson James Madison Sr.
LB Justin Shade Samford Sr.
LB Jordan Tripp Montana Sr.
DB Daniel Fitzpatrick Tennessee State Jr.
DB Marcus Williams North Dakota State Sr.
DB Caleb Schaffitzel Missouri State Jr.
DB Jerome Couplin William & Mary Sr.
P Kyle Loomis Portland State Jr.

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Towson receives AP basketball poll vote for first time in school history

Posted on 11 November 2013 by WNST Staff

TOWSON EARNS FIRST-EVER VOTE IN AP MEN’S BASKETBALL POLL
Tigers listed among ‘others receiving votes’ in this week’s poll

BALTIMORE, Md. – For the first time in school history, the Towson University men’s basketball team earned a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, which was released on Monday.

The Tigers, who are the Preseason Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) favorites, are coming off a 72-45 rout of Navy in their season opener on Friday. The 27-point margin of victory was the largest for Towson against a Division I school in a home opener and largest against any program in an opener since 1984.

Coach Pat Skerry’s squad returns its top five scorers from last year’s team that went 18-13 en route to setting the largest single-season turnaround in NCAA Division I history.

Kentucky was ranked No. 1 for the second straight week as the Wildcats received 28 first place votes. Michigan State, Louisville, Duke and Kansas round out the Top 5 teams in this week’s poll.

Towson was in the ‘others receiving votes’ category just outside the Top 25. In that category were: Creighton 148, Tennessee 138, Indiana 78, Iowa 54, Harvard 46, Boise State 24, Colorado 18, Villanova 14, Arizona State 11, LSU 8, Washington 8, UNLV 6, Pittsburgh 6, Georgetown 4, Stanford 3, Saint Louis 3, Missouri 3, Cincinnati 2 and Towson 1.

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Maryland visits Florida State Saturday in Top 25 showdown

Posted on 04 October 2013 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Coming off its first bye week of the season, the Maryland football team opens its Atlantic Coast Conference slate in Tallahassee against the eighth-ranked Florida State Seminoles Saturday from Doak S. Campbell Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 12:01 p.m. The Terps are riding a four-game winning streak and are off to their best start since the 2001 season when they won their first seven games en route to the ACC Championship. On Sunday, Maryland debuted in the The Associated Press Top 25 Poll at No. 25 making its first first appearance in the rankings since finishing 23rd in the final poll of the 2010 season.

LIVE Coverage on the ESPN & the Terrapin Sports Radio Network
• Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN at noon. Dave Pasch (pbp). Brian Griese (color) and Tom Luginbill (sideline) will call the action. It can also be heard on the Terrapin Sports Radio Network – Johnny Holliday (pbp), Tim Strachan (color) and Scott McBrien (sideline) have the call. The game can also be heard on Sirius Radio Channel 91 and XM Radio Channel 91, as well as over the internet at www.umterps.com.

First-and-10

• Maryland’s defense stifled the Mountaineers at a rain-soaked M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Terps held WVU’s offense to 175 total yards, the lowest output by a West Virginia team since the Terps held WVU to 156 total yards in a 34-7 victory in College Park on Sept. 20, 2003. It is the second time this season Maryland has held an opponent under 200 yards of total offense (FIU, 8/31; 171 yards) and the first time the Terps held an opponent scoreless since beating Wake Forest, 26-0, on Oct. 18, 2008. In the win, Maryland forced six West Virginia turnovers, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions, the most created by the Terps since turning Georgia Tech over six times in a 20-17 overtime win in Atlanta on Oct. 11, 2001.

• With starting defensive backs Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter McDougle sidelined due to injury, defensive back A.J. Hendy turned in a superb performance with an interception and two fumble recoveries to earn the defensive game ball. Hendy’s interception put the Terps up 14-0 after the junior returned it 28 yards for the second Maryland touchdown of the game. Hendy’s interception was the second of his career with both being returned for touchdowns. The Bowie, Md., native picked off his first career pass against NC State on Nov. 26, 2011, an interception he returned 32 yards for a score. For his efforts, Hendy became the first Maryland player to be named The Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week. He also garnered ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors, and was named Jim Thorpe Honorable Mention Defensive Back of the Week and College Football Performance Honorable Mention Defensive Back of the Week.

• The Terps tallied two sacks against the Mountaineers to increase their season total to 17, which is tied for the lead in all of FBS. Defensive linemen Roman Braglio and Darius Kilgo each recorded a sack, while linebacker L.A. Goree led the team with nine tackles, five solo, including one tackle for loss. On the day, Maryland finished with eight tackles for loss led by Kilgo’s two. Adding to the Terps’ turnover total, defensive back Sean Davis and linebacker Matt Robinson each recovered a fumble, and linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil intercepted his first career pass.

• Despite being held to under 500 yards of total offense for the first time this season, quarterback C.J. Brown and the Maryland offense continued to run up the point total. The Terps have totaled 30 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time since the 2002 season. Brown threw for 210 yards (17-of-26) and passed for a touchdown and ran for another. Brown connected with tight end Dave Stinebaugh for the opening score of the game marking Stinebaugh’s first career touchdown reception. Wide receiver Deon Long led the Terps with six catches for 98 yards and running back Brandon Ross rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown.

• Place kicker Brad Craddock connected on all three of his field goal attempts against WVU including a season-long 50 yarder. Craddock, who was named College Football Performance National Placekicker of the Week, leads the ACC with 10 made FGs and is averaging a conference-best 2.5 field goals a game. His lone miss this season came from 52 yards at Connecticut (9/14), which would have tied his career long.


Quick Hitters

• Maryland’s 37-0 shutout victory over West Virginia is the Terps’ first shutout since blanking Wake Forest, 26-0, on Oct. 18, 2008, and is the first time the Terps shutout the Mountaineers since defeating them 33-0 in 1999. Of Maryland’s 22 victories over the Mountaineers, the Terps have held WVU scoreless in five of the contests.

• The Terps stifled the WVU offense holding the Mountaineers to 175 total yards marking the second time in four games the Maryland defense has held its opponent under 200 yards of total offense. In its season opener, Maryland held FIU to 171 total yards (8/31) and now has two of the top-25 defensive performances in terms of yardage. The 171-yard output by the Panthers is the 20th-lowest total nationally amongst FBS schools, while the 175 yards by WVU is the 25th lowest.

• Additionally, after holding West Virginia to 175 yards of total offense, Maryland has now recorded two of the top-10 defensive performances in school history since the 2000 season. FIU’s 171 total yards in the team’s season opener (8/31) is the seventh-lowest total since 2000, while WVU’s 175 total yards is the eighth-lowest total.

• A stout passing defense has keyed the early season success for the Terps. Maryland has held two of their opponents below 100 yards passing this season with the performance against WVU ranking as one of the best in the country. The Terps held West Virginia to 62 passing yards, which is the 19th fewest allowed, and opened the season by holding FIU (Aug. 31) to 80 yards passing.

• The defense has been extremely successfully in getting off the field and getting the ball in the offense’s hands. Maryland ranks ninth nationally in third-down defense holding opponents to a 25.4 percent success rate and has forced 26 three-and-outs. Maryland is averaging 6.5 three-and-outs per game, which is tied for seventh nationally and has forced the opposing offense off the field in three plays or less in 45.6 percent of its defensive possessions, which is the 11th-highest percentage nationally.

• With a string of strong defensive performances to open the season, Maryland is the third-ranked scoring defense in the country holding opponents to 10.3 points per game. That mark is the lowest average for a Maryland defense through four games since the 1980 season when the Terps held their first four opponents to an average of 9.3 points per game (Villianova, 3; Vanderbilt, 6; West Virginia, 11; North Carolina, 17).

• With six takeaways against West Virginia, the Terps increased their season total to 13, which is tied for fifth nationally with four other schools and their eight interceptions are tied for eighth. Maryland has at least two takeaways in every game this season and dating back to last year has recorded at least one takeaway in nine straight games. The six takeaways against the Mountaineers marks the most since the Terps recovered three fumbles and intercepted three passes against Georgia Tech on Oct. 11, 2001.

• Defensive back A.J. Hendy’s 28-yard interception return for a touchdown against West Virginia was Maryland’s second non-offensive touchdown in as many games. The last time Maryland scored a non-offensive touchdown in consecutive games came in 2010. Tony Logan returned a punt for a touchdown against FIU on Sept. 25, and added another punt return for a touchdown the following week against Duke (Oct. 2).

• Hendy and fellow defensive back Dexter McDougle have each returned an interception for a touchdown this season. Since 2009, the Terps have 19 non-offensive touchdowns, that total is the most in the ACC.

• With 37 points against the Mountaineers, the Terps have scored 30 or more points in all four contests this season. The last time the Terps scored 30 or points in four or more consecutive games came in 2002. Maryland topped 30 points in six consecutive games starting with Eastern Michigan (45, 9/21/02) and ending at North Carolina (59, 11/2/02). Maryland is averaging 39.8 points per game placing the Terps in a tie for the 28th-highest scoring offense in the country.

• Quarterback C.J. Brown and the Maryland offense has been attacking defenses down the field. The Terps are averaging 15.3 yards per completion, the 10th-highest total in the country, and Brown is averaging 15.8, best in the ACC and seventh nationally. The 15.3 yards per completion is the highest average for a Maryland offense since 1980.

• Brown’s primary threat downfield has been wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs is averaging a league-high 22.2 yards per catch and for his career is averaging 17.3 yards per reception, the third-highest average among active players in the ACC with a minimum of 30 receptions. In addition, his 22.2 yards per catch average is the fourth highest nationally among receivers with 15 or more catches.

• With 236 yards of total offense against WVU, Brown passed Al Neville (2,734) for 22nd all-time for total offensive yards in a career in Maryland history with 2,754 yards. Brown leads the ACC with 331.5 yards of total offense per game and ranks 12th nationally.


Maryland Gameday Notes

Scout Team Players of the Week: Each Thursday during the season Edsall will announce the scout team players of the week. This week’s scout team players of the week are wide receiver Taivon Jacobs (offense), linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr. (defense), and long snapper Joe Marchese (special teams).

Flag Bearers: Defensive lineman Keith Bowers will carry the American flag, and running back Kenneth Goins will carry the Maryland flag during Saturday’s introductions.

Game Captains: With the establishment of the leadship council for this season, Edsall will name game captains prior to each contest. The captains for the Florida State game are running back Brandon Ross (offense), defensive back Anthony Nixon (defense), and linebacker Matt Robinson (special teams).


Maryland-Florida State Series History

• Saturday will mark Maryland’s 24th all-time meeting between Maryland and Florida State. The Terrapins trail the all-time series with Seminoles, 2-21, and are 0-11 at Doak S. Campbell Stadium.

• Florida State has won six straight in the series including its defeat of the Terps, 41-14, in College Park last season.

•.Maryland’s last victory over the Seminoles came in 2006. The Terps defeated FSU, 27-24, at Byrd Stadium.

 

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Two Maryland women pick up AP All-American honors

Posted on 02 April 2013 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Junior Alyssa Thomas and senior Tianna Hawkins of the Maryland women’s basketball team were named to the Associated Press All-America Team Tuesday. Thomas was named to the Second Team and is honored for the second straight year. Hawkins earned All-America Honorable Mention honors.

Thomas, who was named ACC Player of the Year for the second straight season, averaged 18.8 points per game, 10.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on the season. She is the only player in the country to rank in the top 50 of all three stats. She led the ACC in all three and recorded two triple-doubles this year.

Thomas is also the first Terrapin to be named ACC Player of the Year twice and the first – male or female – to notch two triple-doubles.

Thomas was named to the AP First Team last year. She is the fourth Terrapin to earn AP All-America honors, behind Crystal Langhorne, Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman. Langhorne was honored three times (2006, 2007, 2008), Toliver was honored twice (2008, 2009) and Coleman once (2009).

Hawkins, a First Team All-ACC honoree, ended her career No. 11 on Maryland’s all-time scoring list with 1,595 points and No. 3 in rebounds with 1,086. She is the third Terrapin in history to break 1,000 rebounds, behind only Langhorne and Coleman. She scored in double figures in 31 of 34 games this season and notched 17 double-doubles. She was No. 2 in the ACC in scoring (18.0) and rebounding (9.7).

In Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup, the fourth-seeded Terrapins hung with top-seeded Connecticut early, but a spurt to start the second half put the Huskies in front to advance to the Elite Eight, 76-50.

Thomas finished the season with 640 points, 349 rebounds and 181 assists. She is the only Terrapin to hit 600 points, 300 rebounds and 150 assists in a season. Coleman notched 653 points, 309 rebounds and 120 assists in the 2008-09 season.

The Terrapins went 26-8 on the year, finished second in the ACC and advanced to their fifth Sweet Sixteen in head coach Brenda Frese’s 11 years.

Frese has led the Terrapins to nine NCAA Tournament appearances four Elite Eights, a Final Four and the 2006 NCAA Championship. She’s 21-8 (.724) with Maryland in the Tournament.

Frese was named WBCA Regional Coach of the Year earlier this week and Thomas was named a finalist for the prestigious State Farm Wade Trophy. Frese is one of eight Regional Coaches of the Year and is a finalist for WBCA National Coach of the Year.

 

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Benimon first Towson player to receive AP All-American honor since 1991

Posted on 02 April 2013 by WNST Staff

BENIMON NAMED AP HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICAN
Towson Junior Listed Among the Nation’s Best Players

TOWSON, Md. – Towson University junior forward Jerrelle Benimon added to his list of postseason accomplishments on Tuesday when he was selected as an Honorable Mention All-American by The Associated Press.

The All-America honor is the first of Benimon’s career, while he is the third Tiger to earn the accolade. Towson standout Devin Boyd earned AP All-America status in 1991, a year after Kurk Lee was honored.

Benimon, who was also recently named a Lou Henson All-American, ranked second in the nation with 20 double-doubles. The 6-8 forward was the fourth leading scorer in the Colonial Athletic Association with 17.1 points per game and reached double figures in 27 of 31 outings.

The 2013 CAA Player of the Year, Benimon led the conference and ranked third in the nation with 11.2 rebounds per game and his 346 rebounds set a Towson single-season record. It was the sixth-highest rebound total in a season in CAA history. Showing his all-around game, Benimon was also third in the conference in blocked shots (1.9 bpg) and fourth in field goal percentage (53.3 percent) while leading Towson with 79 assists.

Led by Benimon and head coach Pat Skerry, Towson is coming off its most successful season since 1993. The Tigers, who went 18-13 overall and finished second in the CAA, recorded the largest single-season turnaround in NCAA history during the 2012-13 season. Towson returns four of five starters next season, including Benimon.

2013 ASSOCIATED PRESS DIVISION I ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM
Trey Burke, Michigan
Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown
Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga

2013 ASSOCIATED PRESS DIVISION I ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Mason Plumlee, Duke
Shane Larkin, Miami
Ben McLemore, Kansas

2013 ASSOCIATED PRESS DIVISION I ALL-AMERICA THIRD TEAM
DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State
Jeff Withey, Kansas
Russ Smith, Louisville
Erick Green, Virginia Tech
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State

2013 ASSOCIATED PRESS DIVISION I ALL-AMERICA HONORABLE MENTION
Kyle Barone, Idaho; Jerrelle Benimon, Towson; Anthony Bennett, UNLV; Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook; Sherwood Brown, Florida Gulf Coast; Isaiah Canaan, Murray State; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia; Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse; Ian Clark, Belmont; Jake Cohen, Davidson; Jack Cooley, Notre Dame; D.J. Cooper, Ohio; Allen Crabbe, California; Aaron Craft, Ohio State; Seth Curry, Duke; Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s; Gorgui Dieng, Louisville; James Ennis, Long Beach State; Chris Flores, NJIT; Jamal Franklin, San Diego State; Ian Hummer, Princeton; Colton Iverson, Colorado State; Joe Jackson, Memphis; Kareem Jamar, Montana; Lamont Jones, Iona; Ray McCallum, Detroit; Rodney McGruder, Kansas State; Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA; Erik Murphy, Florida (1 first-team vote); Mike Muscala, Bucknell; Stan Okoye, VMI; Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn; Phil Pressey, Missouri; Augustine Rubit, South Alabama; Peyton Siva, Louisville (1); Taylor Smith, Stephen F. Austin; Omar Strong, Texas Southern; Kendall Williams, New Mexico; Pendarvis Williams, Norfolk State; Khalif Wyatt, Temple.

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Maryland women’s F Thomas named preseason AP All-American

Posted on 31 October 2012 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Junior forward Alyssa Thomas of the Maryland women’s basketball team was named to the Associated Press Preseason All-American Team, released this week. The team was voted on by a panel of national media members.

Thomas led the ACC in scoring last year with 17.2 points per game and was named ACC Player of the Year. She was just the second sophomore to earn the league’s top individual honor. She finished the year among the best in the league with 8.0 rebounds per game, assists (3.2), free throw percentage (80.1) and defensive rebounds (5.5).

At the end of the 2011-12 season, she was named an AP First Team All-American, WBCA Division I Coaches’ All-American and a USBWA All-American.

Thomas is joined on the AP’s Preseason All-American Team with Brittney Griner (Baylor), Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), and Odyssey Sims (Baylor).

Maryland is ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press preseason poll, released Saturday, as well as in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Division I Coaches’ poll. The Terps have started the season ranked in each of the last eight years.

The Terrapins, who return four of five starters from last year’s ACC Championship squad, ended the 2012-13 season ranked No. 5 in the AP poll. The Terps went 31-5 last year and went to the NCAA Elite Eight.

The Terrapins were picked to finish second in the ACC this year. 2012 ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas, senior Tianna Hawkins and junior Laurin Mincy were all named to the 10-member Preseason All-ACC Team. Thomas was also voted the Preseason Player of the Year.

Incoming freshman Malina Howard was named to the ACC’s Newcomer Watch List. Howard, a native of Twinsburg, Ohio, was the No. 1 post player in the country in this year’s freshman class.

-Terps-
 

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Huguely sentenced to 23 years in prison

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Huguely sentenced to 23 years in prison

Posted on 30 August 2012 by WNST Staff

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A former University of Virginia lacrosse player has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for the alcohol-fueled beating death of his ex-girlfriend.

George W. Huguely V was sentenced Thursday in Charlottesville for the slaying of Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old suburban Baltimore woman who was found face down in her blood-soaked pillow on May 3, 2010. Authorities said the 24-year-old defendant left his on-again, off-again girlfriend to die after he kicked a hole in her bedroom door and physically confronted her about their sputtering two-year relationship. Police said he had been drinking heavily that day.

Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire reduced the jury’s recommended sentence by three years. The jury found the Chevy Chase, Md., man guilty in February of second-degree murder and grand larceny. The defense sought a 14-year sentence.

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Ravens WR Smith gaining popularity amongst fans

Posted on 22 August 2012 by WNST Staff

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Torrey Smith is no longer unnoticeable. When the second-year Baltimore Ravens receiver ventures into public, he’s recognized just about everywhere he goes.

During his three years as a standout receiver at the University of Maryland, Smith was just another face in the crowd.

Now, after finishing the 2011 NFL season with 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns, Smith seemingly can’t go anywhere in the Baltimore area without drawing a crowd.

“It’s definitely different, especially publicly,” Smith said. “Before, I could walk anywhere and no one would say anything. I like going everywhere; I’m a mall guy, I’m a movie guy. And now it’s a lot different. But I just appreciate it, and being in Baltimore, you definitely appreciate our fans.”

In 2011, Smith set franchise rookie records in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

He assumed the role of Baltimore’s deep threat during the third week of the 2011 season against the St. Louis Rams. Smith’s first three catches went for long touchdowns, as he ended the day with five receptions for 152 yards and three scores.

Smith also caught the game-winning touchdown on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers and enjoyed a six-catch, 165-yard, one touchdown performance against Cincinnati. Smith primarily ran deep routes during the 2011 season, utilizing his speed for the big play.

To improve his overall package, Smith spent the much of his offseason working with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to perfect timing on various routes. The two, along with some of the other younger receivers, would meet at Baltimore’s practice facility, whether organized team activities were scheduled or not. Flacco said he admired the extra time Smith put in.

“It’s just awesome when you have a good kid like that, that wants to do everything right and wants to be the best,” Flacco said. “It’s very easy to work with him.”

Smith said his numbers last year could have been better if he finished some of the plays he didn’t convert. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has taken notice of this attitude.

“All he thinks about is how he can get better,” Harbaugh said. “He is the most efficient improver — if that’s a word — that I’ve ever seen. He gets the most out of every day, and that’s why he’s going to continue to become a great player.”

One aspect that will help Smith is that he won’t be hindered by the sports hernia he sustained during last season’s campaign. Smith said he could barely get in and out of his routes without cringing. He fought through the pain and managed to finish the season strong.

During the offseason, he had surgery and rehabilitated the injury.

“When it started to get cold, it was terrible,” Smith said. “I was fighting that battle every day, and now I’m able to run and get out of my breaks. I’m not feeling any pain at all. So, thank you for the surgery.”

Though his sports hernia is healed, Smith has been dealing with a minor ankle injury that occurred against Atlanta in Baltimore’s first preseason game. It caused him to miss last week’s contest against Detroit. Smith expects to return Thursday night against Jacksonville, a game that should feature most of Baltimore’s starters for significant minutes.

“Coach was being cautious so I could get it out of the way so it’s not lingering on,” Smith said. “I feel real better, and still have to practice to get better. But I’m fine.”

Entering the lockout-stricken 2011 season, Smith had to learn fast and encounter growing pains, despite the statistical success. With a full offseason of work, he hopes to elevate his game to a higher level in 2012.

“This time last year, I could barely walk and chew gum at the same time,” Smith said. “I was thinking so much about the assignment and kind of really worrying about things that I shouldn’t have been worrying about.”

 

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O’Neill takes unique approach to training I’ll Have Another for Belmont

Posted on 27 May 2012 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK (AP) Trainer Doug O’Neill is taking an unconventional path to a Triple Crown bid by using a series of strong gallops rather than formal workouts to prepare I’ll Have Another for the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

“There will be a lot of days when I’ll Have Another, strictly galloping, will pass a lot of workers,” O’Neill said Sunday morning after taking a red-eye flight from his West Coast base and being reunited with his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

The last three Triple Crown champions, Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978), all drilled at least one mile in preparation for the 1½-mile “Test of the Champion.” The Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races.

O’Neill said his plan has everything to do with the vigor the colt brings to his daily morning regimen.

“If anyone got a chance to see him, he stretches and puts a lot of effort into his morning gallops,” he said.

I’ll Have Another was shipped to Belmont Park the morning after little-known jockey Mario Gutierrez, 25, ran down Bodemeister by a neck in the Preakness on May 19. His trainer was encouraged by everything he observed.

“His appetite is strong, his stride is great and his coat is there,” he said.

O’Neill added, “We have all the confidence in the world in I’ll Have Another. As long as he stays healthy and injury-free, we think he’ll be very tough.”

His pre-race handling of the colt is likely to spark discussion and debate. Seattle Slew, for instance, was given three workouts to fortify him for the Belmont marathon. He went three furlongs in a sizzling 354⁄5 seconds the day before he beat Run Dusty Run by four lengths.

I’ll Have Another appears to be well-prepared for the challenge ahead from a freshness standpoint. Shin problems sidelined him after he ran sixth in the Hopeful last Sept. 5, ending his 2-year-old season with three starts. He was the fifth consecutive Derby winner to compete in two prep races, pulling an upset at 43-1 in the Robert Lewis on Feb. 4 before edging Creative Cause by a nose in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

 

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