Lakers have some serious injury issues

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Lakers have some serious injury issues

From Comcast SportsNetEL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill all will miss the Los Angeles Lakers' upcoming road trip with injuries, leaving the struggling club without its top three big men indefinitely.Howard has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and Gasol has a concussion after taking an elbow in the face late in Sunday night's loss to Denver. Hill, a key backup to both starting big men, has a right hip injury.The three injuries are the latest blows for the Lakers (15-18), who still haven't meshed despite a star-studded roster, a bulging payroll and an early-season coaching change. Los Angeles has lost three straight and four of five since beating the Knicks on Christmas, falling to 11th place in the Western Conference."The NBA is unforgiving, and nobody is feeling sorry for us," Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There's 29 other teams that are happy, and we've got to do the best we can do. It's kind of weird coming to work thinking you have three centers, and all three of them are hurt on the same day."The Lakers' biggest concern is Howard, who hurt his shoulder in last Friday's loss to the Clippers and aggravated it in Sunday's loss to the Nuggets while grabbing a career high-tying 26 rebounds. The six-time All-Star center said he won't need surgery, but he'll sit out for at least a week before his injury is re-evaluated."It depends on how fast I heal up," said Howard, who had a bulky wrap on his shoulder Monday at the Lakers' training complex. "I was in pain (Sunday night), and the biggest thing right now is I have to make sure I'm 100 percent. I don't want to play with my shoulder weak. I'd have a chance for more injuries. I've got to let it heal up."After canceling practice Monday, the Lakers announced Gasol and Howard are both out indefinitely. Hill will be examined by team doctors later Monday before getting a prognosis.When the Lakers open a stretch of four games in six days starting Tuesday in Houston, rookie Robert Sacre is likely to be their starting center. The final pick in last June's draft has been playing for the Lakers' affiliate in the D-League.D'Antoni will be forced to improvise with his three best post players sidelined from an already top-heavy roster. The coach said 6-foot-7 Metta World Peace could play center at times as part of the small lineups he'll be forced to use."We'll go small a lot, and we'll just have to spread the floor and get things done," D'Antoni said. "Some guys are going to have to step up and put some superhuman effort into it. We'll have some little guys guarding big guys, and we'll have to be quick. We'll have to take advantage of other situations."He won't have much choice: The 7-foot Sacre and 6-foot-9 Antawn Jamison are his only players taller than World Peace, unless the Lakers sign a temporary big man. Los Angeles cleared a roster spot by waiving rookie Darius Johnson-Odom on Monday, three days before his contract would have been guaranteed for the season.Although their wealth of problems can hardly be attributed to injuries, the Lakers haven't been fully healthy for any significant stretch of the season. After Howard missed their first five preseason games while recovering from offseason back surgery, new point guard Steve Nash got a small fracture in his leg in their second game of the season, keeping the two-time NBA MVP out for seven weeks.Add in the difficulties of learning a new offense with no training camp for an older roster struggling to keep up with faster teams, and the preseason title contenders realize why they're looking up at the likes of Golden State, Minnesota and the Pacific Division-leading Clippers in the standings."It's almost like -- what's that game where you pop one of those things in the head and another one pops up?" D'Antoni said. "Whac-a-Mole? That's what we seem to be doing right now."Gasol got a concussion and an injured nose when Denver's JaVale McGee accidentally clobbered him under the basket with 1:05 to play. The four-time All-Star 7-footer has been struggling both with plantar fasciitis and the difficulty of adapting his game to D'Antoni's offense, averaging just 12.2 points and 8.4 rebounds in a trying season.Hill had been struggling with a sprained right ankle and a herniated disc in his back even before injuring his hip Sunday. He has been a consistent contributor off the bench in his second season in Los Angeles, averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds."No one is going to feel sorry for us," said Nash, who is five assists shy of 10,000 for his career. "We've got to take the challenge, embrace it, and no matter how many lumps we take, you can't feel sorry for yourself. You've got to keep battling, and if you keep battling, you give yourself a chance for good things to happen."The injuries were the most concrete news on yet another ridiculously busy day for the 16-time champions. Lakers great Magic Johnson launched yet another barrage of Twitter criticism of the franchise, while Howard and NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant both flatly denied a report of friction between them, with Bryant tweeting a photo mocking the idea they had nearly come to blows."You feel like at some point, you hit rock-bottom, and the only place you can go is up," Bryant said. "It's just been a tough year for everybody ... but when you go through a lot of adversity, it challenges you, and then it's on you, whether or not you choose to fight, or whether you choose to run away from it. I think we'll choose to fight it."

Here it is: Big Ten releases 2016-17 men's basketball schedule

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Here it is: Big Ten releases 2016-17 men's basketball schedule

Big Ten football is just a week away. But it's never too early to start thinking about hoops.

The conference announced the 2016-17 league schedule Thursday afternoon. Games begin on Dec. 27, and the last day of conference play is March 5, 2017.

The Big Ten Tournament shifts to Washington, D.C., this season, with games being played from March 8 through March 12.

Here's a look at the entire Big Ten basketball schedule for the 2016-17 season.

Dec. 27

Illinois at Maryland
Michigan State at Minnesota
Northwestern at Penn State
Rutgers at Wisconsin

Dec. 28

Iowa at Purdue
Nebraska at Indiana

Dec. 30

Northwestern at Michigan State

Jan. 1, 2017

Michigan at Iowa
Minnesota at Purdue
Nebraska at Maryland
Ohio State at Illinois
Penn State at Rutgers

Jan. 3

Wisconsin at Indiana

Jan. 4

Penn State at Michigan
Rutgers at Michigan State

Jan. 5

Iowa at Nebraska
Minnesota at Northwestern
Purdue at Ohio State

Jan. 7

Illinois at Indiana
Maryland at Michigan
Michigan State vs. Penn State (in Philadelphia)

Jan. 8

Northwestern at Nebraska
Ohio State at Minnesota
Rutgers at Iowa
Wisconsin at Purdue

Jan. 10

Indiana at Maryland

Jan. 11

Michigan at Illinois
Minnesota at Michigan State

Jan. 12

Northwestern at Rutgers
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Purdue at Iowa

Jan. 14

Maryland at Illinois
Minnesota at Penn State
Nebraska at Michigan

Jan. 15

Iowa at Northwestern
Michigan State at Ohio State
Rutgers at Indiana

Jan. 17

Illinois at Purdue
Michigan at Wisconsin

Jan. 18

Indiana at Penn State
Ohio State at Nebraska

Jan. 19

Maryland at Iowa

Jan. 21

Illinois at Michigan
Michigan State at Indiana
Nebraska at Rutgers
Penn State at Purdue
Wisconsin at Minnesota

Jan. 22

Northwestern at Ohio State

Jan. 24

Penn State at Wisconsin
Purdue at Michigan State
Rutgers at Maryland

Jan. 25

Iowa at Illinois
Minnesota at Ohio State

Jan. 26

Indiana at Michigan
Nebraska at Northwestern

Jan. 28

Illinois at Penn State
Maryland at Minnesota
Ohio State at Iowa
Wisconsin vs. Rutgers (in New York City)

Jan. 29

Indiana at Northwestern
Michigan at Michigan State
Purdue at Nebraska

Jan. 31

Iowa at Rutgers
Maryland at Ohio State
Wisconsin at Illinois

Feb. 1

Northwestern at Purdue
Penn State at Indiana

Feb. 2

Michigan State at Nebraska

Feb. 4

Minnesota at Illinois
Ohio State at Michigan
Purdue at Maryland
Rutgers at Penn State

Feb. 5

Indiana at Wisconsin
Nebraska at Iowa

Feb. 7

Illinois at Northwestern
Maryland at Penn State
Michigan State at Michigan

Feb. 8

Iowa at Minnesota
Rutgers at Ohio State

Feb. 9

Purdue at Indiana
Wisconsin at Nebraska

Feb. 11

Iowa at Michigan State
Minnesota at Rutgers
Ohio State at Maryland
Penn State at Illinois

Feb. 12

Michigan at Indiana
Northwestern at Wisconsin

Feb. 14

Ohio State at Michigan State
Penn State at Nebraska
Rutgers at Purdue

Feb. 15

Indiana at Minnesota
Maryland at Northwestern

Feb. 16

Wisconsin at Michigan

Feb. 18

Illinois at Iowa
Michigan State at Purdue
Rutgers at Northwestern

Feb. 18 or 19

Nebraska at Ohio State

Feb. 19

Maryland at Wisconsin
Michigan at Minnesota

Feb. 21

Indiana at Iowa
Northwestern at Illinois
Purdue at Penn State

Feb. 22

Michigan at Rutgers
Minnesota at Maryland

Feb. 23

Nebraska at Michigan State
Wisconsin at Ohio State

Feb. 25

Iowa at Maryland
Purdue at Michigan

Feb. 25 or 26

Northwestern at Indiana
Penn State at Minnesota
Wisconsin at Michigan State

Feb. 26

Illinois at Nebraska

Feb. 28

Indiana at Purdue
Maryland at Rutgers
Ohio State at Penn State

March 1

Michigan at Northwestern
Michigan State at Illinois

March 2

Iowa at Wisconsin
Nebraska at Minnesota

March 4

Illinois at Rutgers
Indiana at Ohio State

March 4 or 5

Purdue at Northwestern

March 5

Michigan at Nebraska
Michigan State at Maryland
Minnesota at Wisconsin
Penn State at Iowa

March 8 through March 12

Big Ten Tournament (in Washington, D.C.)

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews was named alternate captain of Team Canada on Thursday for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Sidney Crosby was named Team Canada’s captain. Crosby, who claimed his second Stanley Cup in June, was also Team Canada’s captain en route to the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

[SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey]

Toews, who has been the Blackhawks’ captain since the 2008-09 season, was also alternate captain of Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad. Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens will serve as Team Canada’s other alternate captain.

Notre Dame sorting through safety options after Max Redfield's dismissal

Notre Dame sorting through safety options after Max Redfield's dismissal

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brian Kelly had to chuckle a bit when asked what he could tell a larger-than-normal media contingent about Devin Studstill, the true freshman and presumptive favorite to replace Max Redfield at free safety Sept. 4 against Texas. 

“We’ll have a true freshman on the road playing against a talented team,” Kelly said with a bit of a laugh that, given the circumstances, sounded a bit nervous.

No matter how confident Notre Dame players and coaches are in Studstill, there’s still that unknown part of leaning on a safety who will play his first college football game in front of an exected sellout crowd of about 100,000 people in primetime at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin. 

Kelly described Studstill as a “natural” as the Florida native took first-team reps away from Redfield during spring practice. Linebacker and captain James Onwualu said Studstill’s transition back into the first-team defense has “gone smoothly” with only a handful of practices left until Notre Dame heads to Austin. 

“He was here in the spring, which helped a lot,” Onwualu. “He came in ready to work from Day 1 and you gotta respect that. He’s been working his craft, working his game and there’s not much of a drop-off. He’s got a lot to learn. He’s still young, obviously, so (we) try to push some knowledge on him and continue to talk the game and show him as many looks (as possible).”

Kelly used “talented” and “confident” to describe Studstill this time around. But it won’t be just him at free safety, Kelly cautioned. 

“I think we’ll have to play a few guys at that position,” Kelly said. “I don’t think he’s going to go out there and take every snap.”

At the top of that list: sixth-year graduate student Avery Sebastian, who broke a bone in his foot in Week 1 against Texas last year and missed the rest of the season. The 5-foot-10, 200 pound Cal transfer, who also missed nearly all of the 2013 season with an injury, started six games for the Golden Bears from 2011-2014. 

In exchange for the experience Sebastian brings to the position, Notre Dame would slide a guy who’s more of an in-the-box strong safety over to free safety. The other options at free safety are freshman Jalen Elliott, a former four-star recruit, and sophomore Nicco Fertitta, who saw action on special teams last year. 

Kelly said there haven’t been any conversations about moving an offensive player to free safety to manufacture more depth.

“We feel like we’ve got enough back there that we’ll be solid,” Kelly said. 

Notre Dame’s defense is peppered with first-time starters, which creates plenty of unknowns heading into the 2016 season. In losing Redfield, a player who Kelly said was starting to put everything together after a few inconsistent seasons, another question mark was added to VanGorder’s defense. 

That doesn’t mean that Studstill and whoever else is back at free safety are destined to fail. Maybe Studstill and/or Elliott clears their first-year hurdles and is a solid player and Sebastian winds up being a reliable option there, too. 

But Notre Dame’s defense very likely was going to be better off with Redfield as a starting safety. 

“Max was an outstanding player, and he was having a great, great camp,” Kelly said. “He had a great spring. He’s athletic, he’s fast. So you’re taking a really good player off your defense. But we’ll be able to plug in a guy there that I think will get the job done for us.”