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Paolo’s diary: Magic rookie getting set for his NBA debut

ORLANDO, Fla. — (EDITOR’S NOTE: Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, will do a periodic diary for The Associated Press to chronicle his first season in the league. Banchero plays his first regular season game Wednesday when Orlando visits Detroit.)Everything counts now. The season is starting and it’s the real thing. Every win, every loss counts, so this is another level of seriousness that you’ve got to bring. You’ve got to focus while also embracing it and having fun.It’s not like college, and in a good way. You have all day to focus on your job and your craft, your body and yourself. We’re here in the AdventHealth Training Center probably for three, four hours out of the day. Other guys have a wife and kids or other obligations, but myself, I don’t have anything else to do but this.I’m spending that time getting a massage or stretching, making sure I get the right amount of sleep that I’m supposed to get, trying to do all the little things right. When I walk into the facility or walk into game day, I want to know I’m prepared and in the best possible state mentally and physically that I can be. That’s the best thing about being a professional. You’ve got all the time in the world to just be your best self. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.We have goals. We want to compete in our conference, whether it’s for a play-in or playoff spot, just trying to get there and play meaningful games later on in the season. We want to grow as a team, be better than we were the game before and, hopefully, every step we take will be in the right direction this year. For myself, I want to play free, play instinctive and if I do that, everything else is going to take care of itself. I think that’s how it’s always been for me.One of my goals is to be rookie of the year. That’s not THE goal. The goal is to get to the play-in, or playoffs. But obviously, I expect myself to play well. I feel like I’m the best rookie. Winning that award would mean a lot, but it’s not the end-all, be-all for me. It’s something I would like to win, for sure.I like our team. I could go on about every player, but I feel like Franz Wagner just brings a certain level of seriousness to the team. He’s focused, smart, student of the game, very, very smart player. Him and his brother, Moritz. I picked up on that pretty early because I’m kind of the same way in terms of just being focused and having a serious approach and just trying to do whatever it takes to win. I think we align a lot mentality-wise and just the way we see the game or how much we want to win. Wendell Carter Jr., too. Really everyone, but I’d say Franz and Wendell are two guys who I immediately got that vibe from. We’re all forwards who can handle, pass and shoot. I think we have an understanding of what we all want to do and where we can get to with this team.Orlando, the city, has been great so far. I wouldn’t say I go out a lot or even go out to eat a lot. But just driving around the city, being around the city, it’s a nice city to be in and I feel like people here are very welcoming. The city’s not too busy, but it’s also not boring. It’s not quiet and not packed with people. It’s got a nice vibe to it.As far as like what I do, I’m really in my place, just chilling. I like to leave the balcony door open because it’s always got a nice breeze. Little stuff like that is what I like. I really don’t have anyone out here with me right now, even to do stuff with.We’re all young. Everyone on this team kind of has something to prove. Whether it’s their own agendas or the team agenda, with the recent struggles around here, we want to just put the Orlando Magic back to where they should be, which is the playoffs and in contention for championships. I mean, it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen in a week. It’s a long process. It’s a marathon. I think we all embrace that.And I think we’ll surprise people this year.———More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Why Brandon Marsh’s wet hair makes him a perfect fit with the Phillies

By Jake MintzFOX Sports MLB WriterBetween every inning, Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh wets his hair.The furry-faced 24-year-old — who, with his scraggly beard, looks like a cross between an eccentric yoga instructor and a desert-island castaway — either heads down to the bathroom sink in the tunnel or fills a bunch of plastic cups with water from the dugout cooler, which he then dumps on his head.”It’s called having some f—ing edge,” Phillies backup catcher Garrett Stubbs responded when asked why his teammate’s luscious locks were perpetually moist. “That guy knows how to find his f—ing edge.”But even though Marsh wets his hair at least 15 times a day, he has washed it only once in the past month. His most recent haircut was over the All-Star break, a few weeks before his trade to Philly, meaning Marsh has yet to get a trim since moving to the City of Brotherly Love. Hair product? He uses zero, preferring to let the elixirs of the natural world do the job.Across baseball, there are a number of so-called “wet guys,” a term lovingly coined by the indomitable David Roth. The concept is simple: There are a ton of baseball players, but the wet ones stand out. Think Brandon Crawford or Colby Rasmus or Clay Buchholz, guys who, when you flip on the TV, are always inexplicably soaking wet. Marsh, while a relative newcomer, fits perfectly into that rich tapestry of baseball moisture.But whenever the Phillies center fielder — who etched himself into local baseball lore with a critical, three-run moonshot in his team’s emphatic, series-clinching W — ends an offensive inning stranded on base and doesn’t have the requisite time to re-dress the lettuce, he’s forced into a scratchy, suboptimal, desert-like danger zone.”If I don’t wet it,” the Medusa of the Phillies explained, “it gets super bristly out there. I don’t like it that way. I like it wet.”If this whole situation seems a little bizarre, well, that’s baseball. Or maybe it’s just the Phillies. In a sport full of offbeat characters, the Phillies have assembled a particularly odd group of dudes. It’s a team that impeccably mirrors the energy of the city it plays in. And that’s not an accident. Veterans such as Rhys Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos have worked hard throughout the season to foster a team culture that empowers players to let their freak flags fly.And beyond the good vibes and the dewy ‘do, Marsh has contributed elite center-field defense, a burst of speed on the basepaths and the occasional big blast. Drafted by the Angels in the second round of the 2016 draft, the lean Georgia high schooler slowly developed into the organization’s consensus best prospect. But in his first 162 games with the big-league club, Marsh struggled to make an impact in Anaheim, with a mediocre .653 OPS in that span. But in 41 regular-season games with Philly, he posted an above average (particularly for an elite defender) .773 OPS. He’s also not shy to voice his opinions, particularly when it comes to music.”I hate country music,” Marsh said when asked about his tastes, a particularly fiery opinion for a guy from Georgia. “Country music bums me out, man. All the songs are about a girlfriend who left you or something. I don’t wanna think about that. I want to punch my locker and bang my head on the ceiling while I listen to Lil Uzi Vert.”It probably goes without saying that when Marsh was acquired at the deadline in exchange for Philly’s top position-player prospect, Logan O’Hoppe, the bearded firecracker fit right into the Phillies’ quirky atmosphere. “Before we traded for [Marsh], we did a ton of research on who he was outside the lines in addition to who he was as a player,” Phillies GM Sam Fuld told FOX Sports after Game 4. “Everyone loved him, spoke highly of him. We knew he’d fit right in and continue to improve our culture.””There’s a real camaraderie we have as a team,” Castellanos said Saturday. “When Marsh came over here, we told him, like we tell all our guys: Come in, be yourself, whatever that may look like or sound like. No one is going to judge you in this room.”‘You can see how much fun we’re having’ — Rhys Hoskins on Phillies
Rhys Hoskins spoke with Ken Rosenthal after the Philadelphia Phillies advanced to the NLCS, praising the young players and management for constructing this team.
While Phillies players set out to induce that funky vibe from the jump, it didn’t manifest until former manager Joe Girardi, who brought a much more heavy-handed and serious presence, was given the heave-ho in early June. New skipper Rob Thomson prefers a more hands-off approach, one that has helped engender an atmosphere in which Bryson Stott feels cool with sprinting around the clubhouse with a cardboard Bud Light case on his head while taking pictures of everybody. (Stott, for the record, does not drink.)”I feel like this year, we’ve done a better job of creating an environment where guys feel comfortable, feel comfortable being themselves,” Hoskins said.Team chemistry in sports is often a nebulous, manufactured dynamic. Team with great energy have fallen short in October — or not even reached the postseason. And clubs with toxic dugouts full of players who despise one another have captured the biggest prize. More often than not, it’s a total crapshoot. But just because good vibes can’t be quantified doesn’t mean they don’t matter. Whatever the Phillies have nurtured is clearly working. Any overachieving underdog team has to have an edge. And Stubbs already explained where Marsh finds his.”We love Marsh, man,” Hoskins gushed. “He’s a weirdo, but we all have a little bit of weirdo in us, right?”Jake Mintz, the louder half of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He’s an Orioles fan living in New York City, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s almost certainly riding his bike. Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz. Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more in this topic

Broncos QB Wilson adds hamstring to list of injuries

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Russell Wilson has added hamstring to his list of injuries.A week after getting treatment for an injury near his throwing shoulder, the Denver quarterback said he tweaked his hamstring during the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 19-16 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.“I kind of scrambled and moved around on one, had to throw it away. It got me pretty good in the fourth quarter. Just tried to play through it and all that,” Wilson said. “I felt good moving around, running around and throwing it and everything else, especially early on, and then that happened, so that was a little unfortunate. But, you know, trying to find a way to win the game.”Wilson was 15 of 28 for 188 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos (2-4), who dropped a game in overtime for the second straight week.Wilson, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, received an injection for a strained muscle near his throwing shoulder after the Oct. 6 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The platelet-rich plasma injection was used to treat a strained latissimus dorsi on his right side. It is the large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides and behind the arms. Wilson sustained the injury during an Oct. 2 loss at Las Vegas and then played through it on a short week.———AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Hold your breath: Big 12 games keep coming down to the wire

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell has seen the final minutes of four Big 12 games play out in wildly different fashions.None of them good.There was the conference opener against Baylor, when a failed onside kick kept the Cyclones from having a chance in a 31-24 loss. The game at Kansas, when Jace Gilbert missed a 37-yard field goal try with 27 seconds to go in a 14-11 defeat. Against Kansas State, the Cyclones failed on fourth down near midfield with 2 minutes left in a 10-9 loss. And last week against Texas, when they fumbled away the ball with 2:06 left in a 24-21 defeat.That’s four losses, all by one possession. Fourteen total points.“I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” Campbell said afterward. “The guts, the courage. Man, you’ve got freshmen out there playing. You’ve got seniors out there playing. And to be honest with you, I don’t know if there’s ever been a point in our program that I’ve ever been prouder of our team.”The Cyclones shouldn’t feel particularly snake-bit, either. Kansas State and TCU, who play Saturday in a matchup of the only unbeatens in league play, are also the only Big 12 teams yet to lose a conference game by a single possession.In fact, three of them did just last week.On Thursday night in Morgantown, West Virginia answered a tying 44-yard field goal by Baylor’s John Mayers when Casey Legg connected from 22 yards with 33 seconds left to give the Mountaineers a heart-stopping 43-40 victory.“Any time you win some close games, it helps,” said Mountaineers coach Neal Brown, who was on the hot seat after an 0-2 start but whose team has won three of four. “For us, I hope it sets us up for a stretch run.”In Austin, Texas answered a touchdown by the Cyclones’ Hunter Dekkers with Bijan Robinson’s score with 4:43 to go. And when they forced Dekkers’ turnover at the Longhorns 32, they had their 24-21 win.“We needed this game right here,” Robinson said, “and not every game has to be pretty.”In Stillwater, TCU rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to force overtime with Oklahoma State, then pulled off the 43-40 victory when Kendre Miller reached the end zone in the second overtime.“I think it shows the culture of this team, the mindset we have — never doubting ourselves, never panicking, always staying, always believing in each other, believing in our coaches,” Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan said. “We could have given up. We could have said, ‘All right, game’s over. They’re up there. They’re starting to pull away.’ Our guys kept fighting and kept on making plays. We know it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way. That’s all that matters right now, finding a way to win.”Especially in the closing minutes of games.There have been 17 games in the Big 12 this season and 12 have decided by 10 points or fewer, including the other game Saturday, when Oklahoma beat Kansas 52-42 in Norman. One of the other five was decided by 11 points, and another was the Jayhawks’ overtime win over West Virginia, when a pick-six created a 55-42 final score.Nine games have been decided by one possession. Three have headed to overtime; only Big 12 game went to OT all last season. The average margin of victory is 11.1 points, the closest among the Power Five conferences.And to think: The Big 12 won’t even push past the halfway point for two more weeks.What might be even more astounding is that mighty Oklahoma, which has won six of the past seven Big 12 championships, is responsible for the two most lopsided games this season — and both were losses. The Sooners were routed 55-24 by TCU, when they lost quarterback Dillon Gabriel to an injury, then were blown out 49-0 by Texas without him.Meanwhile, the No. 8 Horned Frogs and No. 17 Wildcats have been able to survive and advance.TCU’s past two conference wins have been one-possession affairs, a 38-31 win over the Jayhawks and its double-overtime thriller against Oklahoma State. And all three of the Wildcats’ conference games have been decided by 10 points or fewer, a including a back-and-forth 41-31 win over Oklahoma, a 37-28 win over Texas Tech and that 10-9 win over the Cyclones.“All our goals are still on the horizon,” Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez said. “The Big 12, it’s what it’s about. It’s a one-week season every week, and we’ve found a way to get it done.”———More AP college : https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF

Luz Long’s Olympic silver auctioned for nearly $500K

The silver medal captured by Luz Long, the German long jumper who befriended Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, sold at auction for $488,000LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. — The silver medal captured by Luz Long, the German long jumper who befriended Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, sold at auction for more than $488,000, a sum the auction house said was a record price for a publicly sold second-place prize. Long walked arm in arm through the stadium with Owens to celebrate their victories while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands. The family of the long jumper, who was killed in World War II, decided to auction the medal and other collectables. The auction house labeled the Luz collection as the “Beacon of Hope.”“These world-record results showcase the amazing story of Luz Long, the most Courageous Olympian,” said David Kohler, the president of SCP Auctions.About a year ago, Bill Russell’s Olympic gold medal from the 1956 Games sold for $587,000. One of Owens’ gold medals sold for $1.46 million in 2013. The exact price of Luz’s medal was $488,435.Long cemented himself in Olympic lore during the Berlin Games when he was the first to congratulate Owens on his triumph in the long jump. Later they walked around the stadium together and posed for pictures.There’s also the story Owens told of Long approaching him after he fouled on his first two attempts in the preliminary round. With only one more try to make the final, Owens said Long suggested he take off a foot in front of the board, to assure he wouldn’t foul on his last try. Owens took that advice and went on to win the title — one of four he captured in Berlin — with a then-Olympic record jump of 8.06 meters (26 feet, 5 1/2 inches).Owens was Black, and his stirring success at those Olympics was said to have annoyed Hitler by puncturing the Nazi myth of Aryan racial superiority.“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me,” Owens said years later. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace.”———AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Cuba seeks World Cup qualification after nearly a century

HAVANA — Every recess, Gabriela Alfonso Cabrera would watch the boys play soccer out of the corner of her eye.She was so enthralled by the game that she finally approached her fifth-grade teacher, who frowned and reminded Gabriela she was a girl.“I wanted to play, but they wouldn’t let me play at school because what if I got hurt and started to cry,” she recalled adults telling her.Now 14, Gabriela sometimes is still the only girl playing alongside boys who are bigger and stronger than her, but she is not quitting after waiting four years to share a field with them.She is one of hundreds of players that coaches across Cuba are training as part of a newly launched program to elevate the soccer’s profile and status in a country that last qualified for the men’s World Cup in 1938, losing to Sweden 8-0 in the quarterfinals.An initial group of 16 coaches were recently trained by international officials from FIFA, the Switzerland-based governing body of the sport, with the aim of building Cuba’s next generation of soccer players on an island long known for its baseball and boxing superstars.Those coaches also will be responsible for training more than 1,500 other coaches across the island in the upcoming months. The aim is for Cuba to qualify for the World Cup in the next decade, something it hasn’t achieved in nearly a century.“We hope to make it,” said soccer coach Héctor Noa Cuadro, who began playing at the age of 13 in the province of Guantánamo after seeing Argentina win the World Cup in 1978.He said young Cuban soccer players have good physical strength but need to improve their technical abilities, including how to dribble the ball, use passing combinations between two or more players and sharpen their shooting techniques.On a recent morning, Cuadro stood on the sidelines at the Pedro Marrero National Soccer Stadium in Havana and scrutinized the moves of more than a dozen young players, nearly all boys except for Alfonso, the eighth grade girl, and her twin sister.“That’s it! Let’s move! Look alive!!” various coaches yelled as the players scrimmaged in green and bright orange vests. The objective that day was for players to develop their offensive game by organizing attacks and penetrating through defenses.Reniel Bonora, who has coached the under-20 men’s team, looked on with approval as he spoke about the challenges of transforming soccer into a popular sport in Cuba despite the U.S. embargo, a lack of resources and an economic crisis that has led to food shortages.A couple years ago, Bonora said he opened two factories to produce cleats and balls for the local women’s team he coached because he didn’t want to lose talented players due to a lack of equipment.Bonora, who chose a career in soccer over being a professional chess player, also noted that there’s no money for Cuban club teams to fly elsewhere to play opponents in games that would help improve their skills.“These are the things that are limiting us,” said Bonora, adding that Cubans have been forced to become incredibly resourceful to create things similar to plastic cones and other equipment used in practice.The situation has prompted well-known Cuban soccer players to defect during regional tournaments, which has made it even harder to build a national team as talent drains from an island that FIFA currently ranks 167th out of 211 countries. Many have joined teams in the United States in the past two decades, including midfielders Osvaldo Alonso with Atlanta United FC and Maikel Chang with Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer.At one point, Cuba’s entire national team left the island to play in Germany after signing a six-month contract with Bonner SC, a fourth-division club, in January 1999. The group included 15 players, two coaches, an interpreter, a physiotherapist and a cook.Cuba’s men’s team best ranking was No. 46 in 2006, only to drop to its worst ranking of No. 182 in 2018. Meanwhile, the women’s team is ranked 97th out of 185 countries. The recently trained coaches would like to see Cuba once again in double-digits, although such goals were not important to those playing soccer in a rundown public park several blocks away.“For me, playing is more important than winning,” 9-year-old Cristian Montes de Oca Peña said.More than a dozen young boys surrounding him agreed before they rushed off to continue their game.———AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

USFL hires new general managers for two teams

The USFL today announced the hiring of new General Managers for two teams. Lonnie Young joins the Pittsburgh Maulers and Dave Razzano lands with the Tampa Bay Bandits. Both Young and Razzano bring decades of experience to the USFL after building Super Bowl teams in the NFL.After being drafted by the old USFL New Jersey Generals in 1985, Young joined the NFL and played 12 seasons as a defensive back. Young was first hired as a scout in 2001 by the New York Jets before moving to the Arizona Cardinals scouting team for the next seven years. From 2008 to 2019, Young was a national scout for the Baltimore Ravens, earning a Super Bowl XLVII ring in 2013.”Lonnie Young is a proven winner in the NFL and he’s already making an impact as our new General Manager,” said Maulers Head Coach Kirby Wilson. “Winning a championship starts with player scouting and evaluation, and together, I look forward to working with Lonnie to deliver a USFL title to Pittsburgh Maulers fans.”Young and Razzano collaborated on the same Arizona Cardinals staff in 2008 when Kurt Warner led the team to a Super Bowl XLIII appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers.Prior to becoming a USFL General Manager, Razzano worked as Director of Football Research for the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders (2018-2021). His career also included stints with the San Francisco 49ers (1988-1992), where he earned two Super Bowl rings, the St. Louis Rams (1992-2006) where he won his third Super Bowl ring, the Arizona Cardinals (2006-2009), and Indianapolis Colts (2012-2018).”I’ve known Dave Razzano for a long time through our NFL careers and he is an excellent evaluator of talent and will be a huge asset to me and our team,” said Bandits Head Coach Todd Haley, who was also the Arizona Cardinals Offensive Coordinator for the 2008 Super Bowl team. “I’m really excited to work alongside Dave as our new General Manager as we build a championship team.”Razzano and Young join six other General Managers who helped build teams for the USFL’s first season: Matt Boockmeier (New Orleans Breakers), Billy Devaney (New Jersey Generals), Steve Kazor (Michigan Panthers), Bob Morris (Houston Gamblers), Zach Potter(Birmingham Stallions), and Michael Woods (Philadelphia Stars). All eight team General Managers work closely with USFL Director of Player Personnel John Peterson and USFL Director of Player Administration Jim Popp. Get more from United States Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more in this topic