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    GCU believes basketball gets boost from WAC additions – Arizona Sports - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

    The Western Athletic Conference on Thursday announced the addition of four teams formerly of the Southland Conference, plus the addition of one Big Sky team.

    Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin will join the WAC for the 2021-22 academic year, while Southern Utah out of the Big Sky will follow them to the conference in 2022-23.

    While that changes the 13-team leagues football landscape, the Grand Canyon Antelopes who do not have a football team said the additions boost the WACs basketball prospects.

    Particularly in basketball, GCU has had the makings of a top-20 program because of its incredible facilities, a game atmosphere that is second to none, a Power Five coaching staff, a competitive mid-major budget and a location as a destination city, GCU President Brian Mueller said in a school release. The last step was participation in a strong athletic conference and this expansion accomplishes that. This is a giant leap forward in our Division I journey.

    This is one of the biggest mid-major expansions in NCAA realignment history and puts the WAC in a very strong position moving forward.

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    GCU believes basketball gets boost from WAC additions - Arizona Sports

    Partial demolition of historic Sandwich school approved – Cape Cod Times - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Beth Treffeisen|Cape Cod Times

    PRINT DECKHED:Historical Commission wants new construction for senior housing to fit in with the character of the existing building

    SANDWICH A portion of the Henry T. Wing School is set for demolition after receiving approval from the Sandwich Historical Commission, but plans to build senior housing on the property and rehabilitate the remaining portion of the school are on hold.

    We are excited about it, Maria Nye, chair of the historical commission, said at the commission's meeting Wednesday. We are not going to vote...because we need some changes to come through.

    The commission unanimously voted Wednesday to allow for partial demolition of the school while keeping the 1927 portion of the building intact.

    The demolition will include three additions located behind that school that were added in 1958, 1963 and 1974, according to Maureen Cavanaugh, senior planner at Public Archaeology Laboratory, who spoke on behalf of the project applicant, Stratford Capital Group.

    However, Stratford Capital Group will have to return for the second part of its application to rehabilitate the 1927 potion of the school and construct new senior affordable housing units at 33 Water St.

    The Henry T. Wing Residences would include 128-units on the Water Street site mainly for low- and moderate-income residents aged 62 or older. The project would retain the facade of the 1927 school building and demolish the remaining structures to create the housing.

    The historic school building is made up of red brick, while the new buildings are designed to be a cooler, blue color. Board members felt the new construction contrasted too much with the historic structure and asked the design team to return Jan. 27 with updated plans.

    I find the juxtaposition between the old and the new to be jarring, board member Michael Sullivan said.

    Nye agreed. Separately they are stunning but together they dont go well together.

    The board recommends the design team go with more earth tone colors and possibly consider a brick veneer on the sides that align with the front of the school.

    Instead of differentiating the old and new buildings, Nye suggested the design team make it more cohesive.

    We would want it to have it look and feel historic, Nye said.

    At town meeting in June, there was overwhelming support to transfer the school property to a developer to convert it into age-restricted housing.

    Stratford Capital Group is working with the nonprofit organization CHOICE Choice Housing Opportunities for Intergenerational & Community Endeavors on the project.

    Construction would take place in three phases. The first phase, from Oct. 2022 until Oct. 2023, will consist of constructing 43 units, with 10 inside the 1927 portion of the building. This phase will include construction of a senior service center, and the community will still have access to the schools existing auditorium.

    The second phase, from July 2023 to July 2024, calls for building 41 units within a new three-story building. The third year-long phase will begin immediately afterward and consist of constructing another three-story building with 44 units.

    Nye reiterated the commission's desire to see the new buildings, which are currently designed in a Cape Cod-style, designed to look and feel similar to the historic school.

    We want to give them the flexibility to come up with acolor that complements, said Nye. You have really nice taste and we want to see what you come up with.

    Contact Beth Treffeisen at btreffeisen@capecodonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @BTreffeisenCCT.

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    Partial demolition of historic Sandwich school approved - Cape Cod Times

    Alexandre Texier to play center for Blue Jackets with Mikko Koivu out – The Columbus Dispatch - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Second-year forward expected to center a line that includes Boone Jenner. Koivu still 'unfit' and didn't travel to Nashville.

    The 2021 season will begin Thursday without the Blue Jackets having a key piece of their offseason additions.

    Mikko Koivu missed practice Wednesday, his second in a row, and did not make the trip to Nashville with the team while being termed unfitto participate. The37-year-old forward started training camp as the Jackets center on the third line, a role that Boone Jenner handled much of the past two seasons.

    Adding Koivu wasgeneral manager JarmoKekalainensideato let Jenner go back tomore of aforecheckingrole at left wing and that wont change despite the veteran pivots absence.The center role for the third line is expected to be handled by Alexandre Texier, whos going into his second season.

    I still want to take a look at Tex in the middle,coach John Tortorella said. Ive got him and (Jenner)together. Itll be interesting in how much pressure they can put on a (defense), as far as how hard they work.

    Coinciding with that decision, Tortorella is sticking with Mikhail Grigorenko to fill Texiers previousspot at left wing on the top line.The Russian forward, a former first-round pick of the BuffaloSabres, has begun to look more comfortable in that role,paired with center Pierre-Luc Dubois and OliverBjorkstrand.

    I thought they had agood scrimmage (Sunday) night, Tortorella said. I thought there was some chemistry right away. Its nice to have a Grigorenko, who can play all three forward positions. I think his camp has gotten better as wevegone along. The biggest key is intensity all the time in a 60-minute hockey game. Im anxious to see him play.

    Grigorenko, 26, made his NHL debut with Buffalo and also played with the Colorado Avalanche before heading back to theKontinentalHockey League for the past three years. After excelling there, hes looking to revive his NHL career.

    As usual, Tortorella did not reveal whether goalie JoonasKorpisaloor Elvis Merzlikins would start the opener Thursday in Nashville.

    He said he informedtheone whowill start, butis not planning tousean extensive road mapfor which games each will playin a crammed56-game schedule.

    I told thestarting goalie today whos going (Thursday) and thats as far as Ill ever go, Tortorella said. I mean, we just dont go too far out. But (Im going to be asked) about No. 1 ... and theres really not going to be a No. 1. Theres going to be a tandem here, because I think we have two really good ones and we are going to need them.

    The Blue Jackets made their final cutsWednesday,announcingboth their NHL roster and taxi squad.

    The NHL rosterhas13 forwards, eight defensemen andthetwo goalies, while the taxi squadconsists of six players:forwardsNathan Gerbe,RyanMacInnisand Stefan Matteau, goalieMatissKivlenieksand defensemen Adam Clendening and Andrew Peeke.

    The Blue Jackets also assigned defensemen GavinBayruetherand Jake Christiansen,goalie Cam Johnson andforwards Zac Dalpe, Trey Fix-Wolansky, Cliff Pu and Kole Sherwood to the Cleveland Monsters.

    bhedger@dispatch.com

    @BrianHedger

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    Alexandre Texier to play center for Blue Jackets with Mikko Koivu out - The Columbus Dispatch

    ‘Dexter’: New Cast Additions Offer Insight Into the Plot of the Revival Series – Showbiz Cheat Sheet - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The cast of the Dexter revival is starting to take shape. In addition to our original favorites such as Michael C. Hall, the show will also bring on several newcomers. The revival is being marketed as the final chapter of Dexter Morgans story and, from the looks of it, it seems like its going to go out with a bang. Learn more about the revival series and its cast, here.

    After nearly seven years and eight seasons, Dexter ended in 2013 with what has been called one of the most disappointing finales ever.

    Full of grief and despair for the pain hes caused his loved ones, Dexter drove his boat out to sea as a hurricane approached Miami, seemingly to kill himself. But as it turned out, he was just faking his death amid heat from law enforcement.

    In the final moments of the show, it was revealed that Dexter went into self-imposed exile in Oregon, where he started over as a lumberjack.

    RELATED: Dexter: The Alternate Ending Makes So Much More Sense to Viewers

    While the finale was widely panned by fans, producers defended it. Executive producer Sara Colleton told Entertainment Weekly that it only made sense for Dexter to isolate himself given his past longing for real human connection.

    His punishment is banishment. He sends himself into exile. Killing himself is too easy. When he turns and looks into the camera at the end hes stripped everything away, Colleton said.

    It seemed like the ending that was most justified, added showrunner Scott Buck.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, Showtimes longline for the show says, Set 10 years after Dexter Morgan went missing in the eye of Hurricane Laura, the revival sees the character now living under an assumed name in a world away from Miami.

    Showrunner Clyde Phillips said on The Hollywood ReportersTVs Top 5 podcast that the revival will make up for the finale. But he again noted it wont be erasing anything that previously happened.

    Ten years, or however many years, have passed by the time this will air, and the show will reflect that time passage. So far as the ending of the show, this will have no resemblance to how the original finale was. Its a great opportunity to write a second finale.

    The 10-episode series is expected to air later in 2021, should coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions allow it.

    RELATED: Dexter Revival: Release Date, Plot Details, and Everything Else We Know

    Earlier in January, TV Line reported that The Crown actor Clancy Brown will star in the revival as Kurt Caldwell, the de facto mayor of a small town in New York who realized the American dream by going from driving big rigs, just like his father did, to now owning several trucks and the local truck stop. Powerful, generous, loved by everyone hes a true man of the people. If hes got your back, consider yourself blessed. But should you cross Kurt, or hurt anyone that he cares for, God help you.

    Julia Jones of The Mandalorian will play Angela Bishop, the first Native American Chief of Police in her town in upstate New York, according to a statement from Showtime. Bishop is also the mother of a brash and opinionated teenage daughter named Audrey, who will be played by Believe actor Johnny Sequoyah.

    Sylvies Love actor Alano Miller, meanwhile, will play police sergeant and high school assistant wrestling coach Logan.

    Then theres Jack Alcott from THE GOOD LORD BIRD as Randall,with whom Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has a meaningful encounter.

    Just like before, it sounds like there will be a lot more crime and pressure from law enforcement in the revival. But well have to wait and see what exactly happens. In the meantime, check out more of our TV coverage below.

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    'Dexter': New Cast Additions Offer Insight Into the Plot of the Revival Series - Showbiz Cheat Sheet

    The 2021 Way-Too-Early college football top 25 – ESPN - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Even in a 2020 college football season that featured more starts and stops than Los Angeles traffic, there were a handful of near certainties, such as Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State reaching the College Football Playoff.

    Even a pandemic couldn't balance power in the most top-heavy sport.

    Will we finally see those heavyweights fall back in 2021? Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence has already declared for the NFL draft. Will Alabama's Mac Jones and Ohio State's Justin Fields be next? Will it be enough for programs such as Georgia, North Carolina and Texas A&M to close the gap on teams that have dominated their conferences for much of the past decade?

    We'll have to wait about eight months to find out.

    For now, here's the first edition of the 2021 Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings, featuring projected returning starters, starters who might leave, key additions and outlooks for each team.

    ( * Denotes players who have already announced they're leaving for the NFL draft, transferring or not returning to their current programs for other reasons.)

    2020 record: 10-2, 8-1 ACCProjected returning starters: five offense, 10 defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: QB Trevor Lawrence*, RB Travis Etienne*, WR Amari Rodgers*, CB Derion Kendrick, LB Baylon Spector, FS Nolan Turner, OT Jackson Carman*

    Key additions: LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., RB Will Shipley, DT Payton Page, WR Beaux Collins

    Outlook: The Tigers' shortcomings were exposed in the CFP for the second season in a row, as they were pushed around on defense and couldn't protect Lawrence. This time, at least, those problems might be blamed on their youth and inexperience. A potential No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, Lawrence, as well as Etienne, will be remembered as one of the best players in school history. Rodgers on the perimeter is another big loss.

    The good news is Clemson has a more-than-capable quarterback in waiting: freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, who threw for 781 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in the two games when Lawrence was sidelined because of COVID-19. Star wide receiver Justyn Ross might be back from a neck injury, along with Joseph Ngata. There isn't an obvious successor at tailback, so that will be a focus in the spring. Three starting offensive linemen are expected back.

    The defense was pretty young in 2020 and should only get better; six of its 14 leading tacklers were sophomores, and freshmen Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee and Trenton Simpson might have been the best players on that unit. Clemson has the clearest path to the CFP, especially with Notre Dame heading back out of the ACC. The Tigers open the season against Georgia in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the winner will be No. 1 in the polls after Week 1.

    2020 record: 13-0Projected returning starters: four offense, nine defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris, WR DeVonta Smith, WR Jaylen Waddle, OT Alex Leatherwood, C Landon Dickerson, G Deonte Brown, LB Dylan Moses, CB Patrick Surtain II, TE Miller Forristall

    Key additions: OT Tommy Brockermeyer, OT J.C. Latham, OLB Dallas Turner, DT Damon Payne, ATH Ga'Quincy McKinstry, RB Camar Wheaton, CB Khyree Jackson

    Outlook: The Crimson Tide are more than likely going to lose a slew of players to the NFL draft, including potential first-rounders Jones, Smith, Waddle, Surtain and Harris. Perhaps no program has assembled as much talent as Alabama, however, and coach Nick Saban has capable replacements ready to go.

    Still, Alabama is losing a lot of experience, as well as offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, whom Texas hired as its new coach. More times than not, the Tide figure it out. Former Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien might be Saban's top choice to replace Sarkisian. Bryce Young was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect in the 2020 ESPN 300 and is Jones' heir apparent. Running backs Brian Robinson Jr., Jase McClellan and oft-injured Trey Sanders will try to fill Harris' shoes. Replacing Smith and Waddle won't be easy; John Metchie III and Slade Bolden are next in line.

    Moses was the only senior starting on defense, although a handful of juniors and redshirt sophomores might leave for the NFL draft. The Tide open the 2021 season against Miami and play SEC road games at Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

    2020 record: 9-2 (6-2 Big 12)Projected returning starters: six offense, eight defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: OT Adrian Ealy*, OT Erik Swenson, C Creed Humphrey*, RB Rhamondre Stevenson*, DE Ronnie Perkins*, CB Tre Brown*, DB Tre Norwood*, WR Charleston Rambo

    Key additions: RB Kennedy Brooks, WR Mario Williams Jr., OT Savion Byrd, QB Caleb Williams, WR Billy Bowman Jr., OLB Clayton Smith

    Outlook: It has been two decades since the Sooners last won a national championship, and they'll have a chance to end that drought if things fall right in 2021. Quarterback Spencer Rattler improved throughout his first season starting and will be a leading Heisman Trophy contender next season. Five other starters are expected back on offense, although Stevenson's departure stings. OU expects to bring back Brooks, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2019 who opted out this past season. Wide receiver Charleston Rambo, who started the past two seasons, entered the transfer portal.

    Defensively, the Sooners have made great strides under coordinator Alex Grinch. This past season, they ranked second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (21.7 points) and run defense (105.1 yards) and third in total defense (350.6). OU's nonconference schedule in 2021 is more than manageable with a road contest at Tulane and home games against Nebraska and FCS program Western Carolina.

    2020 record: 8-2 (7-2 SEC)Projected returning starters: nine offense, five defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: G Ben Cleveland*, LB Azeez Ojulari*, LB Monty Rice*, LB Jermaine Johnson*, CB Eric Stokes*, CB Tyson Campbell*, S Richard LeCounte*, DE Malik Herring*, C Trey Hill*

    Key additions: CB Kelee Ringo, WR Dominick Blaylock, ATH Smael Mondon, OT Amarius Mims, ATH Xavian Sorey, QB Brock Vandagriff

    Outlook: Georgia's offense made significant strides with USC transfer JT Daniels playing quarterback in the last four games, and he should be even better with a full offseason in coordinator Todd Monken's offense. He completed 67% of his passes for 1,231 yards with 10 touchdowns and two picks in his four-game audition. There will be plenty of playmakers coming back around him, including wide receivers George Pickens, Jermaine Burton, Arian Smith and Kearis Jackson, as well as tight end Darnell Washington.

    The defense will have to replace some of its most productive linebackers, but Adam Anderson, Nolan Smith and Quay Walker are more than capable. The return of Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt up front helps tremendously. With Stokes, Campbell and DJ Daniel leaving, building cornerback depth will be a priority in the spring. Georgia has assembled a boatload of talent. Is it enough to get over the hump against Alabama?

    2020 record: 7-1Projected returning starters: six offense, five defense, zero special teams

    Projected losses: QB Justin Fields, WR Chris Olave, RB Trey Sermon, OT Thayer Munford, C Josh Myers, G Wyatt Davis, LB Pete Werner, LB Tuf Borland, CB Shaun Wade

    Key additions: DE Jack Sawyer, RB TreVeyon Henderson, WR Emeka Egbuka, QB Kyle McCord, WR Jayden Ballard

    Outlook: The Buckeyes have enjoyed a seamless transition from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day, who has guided them to back-to-back CFP appearances. The Buckeyes don't seem ready to slow down anytime soon. Fields is projected as a top-five pick in the NFL draft, so he's probably leaving after two seasons at OSU. Freshman Jack Miller III, who set the Arizona high school record with 115 career passing touchdowns, was Fields' backup this past season. C.J. Stroud was the No. 2 pocket passer in the 2020 ESPN 300, and incoming freshman McCord was the No. 4 pocket passer in 2021.

    There are a handful of other offensive starters who are candidates to leave, including Olave and Sermon. Defensively, the Buckeyes might have big holes to fill on the defensive line and at cornerback and linebacker, depending on who comes back. The Buckeyes' nonconference schedule next season includes home games against Oregon and Tulsa, and they're scheduled to play Big Ten road games at Minnesota, Nebraska, Rutgers, Indiana and Michigan.

    2020 record: 9-1 (8-1 SEC)Projected returning starters: six offense, six defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: QB Kellen Mond*, OT Dan Moore Jr.*, C Ryan McCollum*, G Jared Hocker*, OT Carson Green, LB Buddy Johnson*, CB Myles Jones

    Key additions: DE Shemar Turner, DE Tunmise Adeleye, WR Shadrach Banks, ATH Dreyden Norwood, G Bryce Foster, CB Elijah Blades, LB Ke'Shun Brown, WR Camron Buckley

    Outlook: The Aggies finally got a sizable return on their $75 million investment in coach Jimbo Fisher, closing the season with eight straight victories (each of the last seven by 10 or more points), including a 41-27 win over North Carolina in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

    Texas A&M might be destined for even bigger things in 2021 if it can replace some key pieces on offense. Mond and at least three starters from a very good offensive line are leaving. Freshmen Zach Calzada and Haynes King will battle for the QB job this spring.

    Tailbacks Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, utility man Ainias Smith and tight end Jalen Wydermyer give the Aggies a nice core of returning players on offense. More playmakers are needed on the perimeter. The defense, under coordinator Mike Elko's direction, led the SEC in total defense (317.3 yards per game). Top tacklers Johnson and Hansford, as well as top pass-rusher Bobby Brown III, will have to be replaced.

    2020 record: 8-4 (7-3 ACC)Projected returning starters: eight offense, 10 defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: RB Michael Carter*, RB Javonte Williams*, WR Dazz Newsome*, WR Dyami Brown*, LB Chazz Surratt*

    Key additions: DE Keeshawn Silver, QB Drake Maye, LB Raneiria Dillworth, LB Power Echols, WR Gavin Blackwell

    Outlook: Mack Brown might only be getting started at UNC. Even with Carter, Williams, Newsome and Brown moving on, UNC should have a high-powered offense coming back in 2021. Quarterback Sam Howell will be a Heisman Trophy favorite, and all five starting offensive linemen are expected to return.

    Young wide receivers Josh Downs and Khafre Brown played well against Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl, and injured receiver Beau Corrales should be back after a sports hernia limited him to four games in 2020. Six of UNC's defensive starters were freshmen or sophomores this past season, and the returns of top pass-rusher Tomon Fox and linebacker Tyrone Hopper are big boosts. The Tar Heels will play at Notre Dame this coming season.

    2020 record: 9-3 (8-1 Big 12)Projected returning starters: 10 offense, eight defense, zero special teams

    Projected losses: DE JaQuan Bailey*, FS Lawrence White IV*

    Key additions: OT Tyler Maro, DT Howard Brown, OT Jim Bonifas, RB Deon Silas, S Ben Langston

    Outlook: It's difficult to say what is more remarkable: Iowa State coach Matt Campbell leading his teams to 32 victories over the past four seasons -- the most in a four-year span in school history -- or the Cyclones hanging on to Campbell despite overtures from multiple high-profile programs and NFL teams. This past season, the Cyclones tied school records with nine wins total and three victories over ranked opponents, including a 34-17 victory over Oregon in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, their first New Year's Six bowl appearance.

    With quarterback Brock Purdy (2,750 passing yards, 382 rushing yards and 24 total touchdowns) and tailback Breece Hall (1,572 rushing with 21 touchdowns) returning, the Cyclones might have two Heisman Trophy contenders in 2021. Five offensive line starters will return after senior left tackle Sean Foster opted to come back and star tight end Charlie Kolar did the same on Sunday. Bailey, the school's career sacks leader, has already announced he's entering the NFL draft. Eyioma Uwazurike and linebackers Jake Hummel and Mike Rose opted to come back.

    2020 record: 5-1 Pac-12Projected returning starters: eight offense, eight defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker*, SS Talanoa Hufanga*, WR Tyler Vaughns*, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown*, CB Olaijah Griffin*, DT Marlon Tuipulotu*

    Key additions: DE Korey Foreman, DT Ishmael Sophsher, S Xavion Alford, QB Miller Moss, QB Jaxson Dart, ATH Kyron Ware-Hudson, ATH Julien Simon

    2 Related

    Outlook: The Trojans squandered their chance at winning a Pac-12 title and playing in a New Year's Six bowl by losing to Oregon 31-24 in the league championship game. USC won its first South Division title since 2017, but the loss to the Ducks soiled what might have been some good equity for embattled coach Clay Helton. He is only 18-13 over the past three seasons, so USC needs to continue to show progress in 2021.

    The Trojans can start by improving their woefully inadequate running game, which ranked last in the league and 120th in the FBS, averaging 97.3 yards per game. Maybe that's why Helton fired offensive line coach Tim Drevno and strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus. USC's defense improved under new coordinator Todd Orlando; it ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (26 points) and run defense (153.3 yards). The Trojans are scheduled to play at Notre Dame next season but will avoid Oregon and Washington in conference play.

    2020 record: 6-2 (6-1 Big Ten)Projected returning starters: nine offense, 10 defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: WR Whop Philyor*, C Harry Crider, DT Jerome Johnson*

    Key additions: DE Ryder Anderson, C Zach Carpenter, WR Rashawn Williams, RB Tim Baldwin, WR D.J. Matthews, OT Luke Haggard, G Dylan Powell

    Outlook: Indiana put together one of the better seasons in school history, but it never felt as if it got the credit it deserved. The Hoosiers were bypassed for Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game and then dropped in the Big Ten's bowl pecking order. Playing without injured quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the Hoosiers lost to Ole Miss 26-20 in the Outback Bowl.

    With potentially 19 starters coming back on offense and defense, it seems as if coach Tom Allen is only getting started. Led by a very talented secondary, the Hoosiers ranked fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (20.3 points), although Allen is searching for a new coordinator after Kane Wommack was named South Alabama's head coach.

    Penix's recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee will be monitored closely this summer. Matthews, who had 84 catches and 582 punt return yards in 35 games at Florida, transferred to Indiana. Former Ole Miss pass-rusher Anderson plans to join the Hoosiers as well.

    2020 record: 9-1 (6-0 AAC)Projected returning starters: eight offense, seven defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: S James Wiggins*, S Darrick Forrest*, LB Jarell White, DE Elijah Ponder*, RB Gerrid Doaks*, OT James Hudson*, OT Darius Harper

    Key additions: DL Jowon Briggs, QB Evan Prater, WR Jadon Thompson, LB Jaheim Thomas

    Outlook: The Bearcats narrowly missed finishing unbeaten, losing to Georgia 24-21 on Jack Podlesny's 53-yard field goal with three seconds left in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. It was still a memorable season for Cincinnati, which has won 31 games in the past three seasons under coach Luke Fickell. Even with defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman departing for Notre Dame, the Bearcats will again be the top AAC contender in 2021.

    The new defensive coordinator will have to replace some key pieces, including Ponder and both starting safeties. The good news is quarterback Desmond Ridder announced he's coming back, along with at least three starting offensive linemen. The Bearcats are scheduled to play road games at Indiana and Notre Dame next season.

    2020 record: 6-2 Big TenProjected returning starters: seven offense, six defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: OT Alaric Jackson*, DT Daviyon Nixon*, DE Chauncey Golston*, DE Jack Heflin*, WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette*, WR Brandon Smith*, LB Nick Niemann*, G Cole Banwart*, K Keith Duncan*

    Key additions: DB Xavior Williams, DE Matt Lorbeck, DE Deontae Craig, WR Keagan Johnson, LB Justice Sullivan

    Outlook: Iowa's season was delayed and then cut short when its regular-season finale against Michigan and bowl game against Missouri were canceled because of COVID-19 issues. The Hawkeyes still showed promise in finishing the season with a six-game winning streak after an 0-2 start. Tyler Goodson (762 yards) was one of the top tailbacks in the Big Ten, and he'll carry more of the load in 2021 with Mekhi Sargent leaving for the NFL.

    Quarterback Spencer Petras threw eight touchdowns in the final six games. The offensive line got a boost when center Tyler Linderbaum opted to come back. The defensive line will have to be rebuilt, but end Zach VanValkenburg's return was more good news. The secondary will return intact if cornerback Matt Hankins doesn't turn pro.

    2020 record: 4-3 (3-2 Pac-12)Projected returning starters: seven offense, seven defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: TE Hunter Kampmoyer*, NG Jordon Scott*, DT Austin Faoliu*, CB Deommodore Lenoir*, WR Jaylon Redd, WR Johnny Johnson III, OT George Moore, S Nick Pickett*

    Key additions: WR Isaiah Brevard, QB Ty Thompson, WR Troy Franklin, WR Dont'e Thornton

    Outlook: It's difficult to put much of a grade on Oregon's performance in 2020 because it played only seven games and was missing a handful of its best players after they opted out before the season, including star tackle Penei Sewell, safety Jevon Holland, linebacker Brady Breeze and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. The Ducks won a Pac-12 title without winning their division and lost to Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl. Overall, Oregon fans probably anticipated a little more in coach Mario Cristobal's third season.

    First and foremost, the Ducks must decide on a starting quarterback this spring. Tyler Shough, Justin Herbert's former understudy, completed 63.5% of his passes for 1,559 yards with 13 touchdowns and six picks. Boston College graduate transfer Anthony Brown took a lot of snaps in the Pac-12 championship game and the bowl game. It's unclear whether Brown will return for another season.

    The Oregon defense has three budding stars in Kayvon Thibodeaux, Mase Funa and Mykael Wright, and more help is on the way in linebacker Justin Flowe and cornerback Dontae Manning, who played sparingly because of injuries. Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos took the head-coaching job at Boise State, his alma mater.

    2020 record: 3-1 Pac-12Projected returning starters: 11 offense, eight defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: DB Elijah Molden*, DB Keith Taylor*, DL Josiah Bronson*

    Key additions: QB Sam Huard, TE Quentin Moore, QB Patrick O'Brien, LB Will Latu, WR Jabez Tinae, G Owen Prentice

    Outlook: Jimmy Lake's first season as Washington's head coach was incomplete, as the Huskies played only four games and won the Pac-12 North but couldn't play in the Pac-12 championship game because of COVID-19 issues.

    The good news is that all but three starters might return in 2021 and the Huskies added Huard, the No. 1 pocket passer in the 2021 ESPN 300. Three other quarterbacks -- Ethan Garbers, Jacob Sirmon and Kevin Thomson -- left, so the Huskies also added O'Brien, a Colorado State graduate transfer. Huard and O'Brien will compete with returning starter Dylan Morris, who completed 60.9% of his passes for 897 yards with four touchdowns and three picks.

    Washington's priorities this spring are finding a bona fide No. 1 receiver and rebuilding the secondary.

    2020 record: 10-2 (9-0 ACC)Projected returning starters: three offense, six defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: OT Liam Eichenberg*, G Tommy Kraemer, G Aaron Banks*, OT Robert Hainsey*, QB Ian Book*, WR Javon McKinley, WR Ben Skowronek*, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah*, SS Shaun Crawford*, DE Daelin Hayes*

    Key additions: QB Jack Coan, QB Tyler Buchner, TE Cane Berrong, G Rocco Spindler, WR Deion Colzie

    Outlook: With their 31-14 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One, the Fighting Irish fell to 0-7 in BCS or New Year's Six bowl games since 1998 and have been outscored by 161 points in those games, with all seven losses by at least 14 points. While the Irish have been very good under coach Brian Kelly, they're still not at the level of Alabama (along with just about every other FBS program).

    The Irish will have a face-lift on offense, starting at quarterback. Coan, a Wisconsin transfer, will battle Buchner, Drew Pyne and Brendon Clark for the starting job this spring. Notre Dame has good pieces on offense to build around, including tailbacks Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree and wide receivers Braden Lenzy and Jordan Johnson.

    Four starting linemen are gone; center Jarrett Patterson is coming back from a broken foot. Kelly hired Cincinnati's Marcus Freeman to replace defensive coordinator Clark Lea, who left to become Vanderbilt's coach. Freeman will have to rebuild the defensive line and find more depth in the secondary.

    2020 record: 8-4 (8-2 SEC)Projected returning starters: five offense, seven defense, one special teams

    Projected losses: QB Kyle Trask*, TE Kyle Pitts*, WR Kadarius Toney*, WR Trevon Grimes*, C Brett Heggie*, OT Stone Forsythe*, LB Ventrell Miller, S Brad Stewart Jr., DL Kyree Campbell*, CB Marco Wilson*, K Evan McPherson*

    Key additions: RB Demarkcus Bowman, DB Ethan Pouncey, OL Jaelin Humphries, CB Jason Marshall, QB Carlos Del Rio, S Corey Collier, DE Jeremiah Williams, DE Tyreak Sapp

    Outlook: Florida's breakthrough season under coach Dan Mullen ended with a big flop, as the Gators lost their last three games, including a 55-20 rout against Oklahoma in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Most of Florida's offensive firepower is departing, including Heisman Trophy finalist Trask. Sophomore Emory Jones looks like the quarterback of the future, and the Gators will have to identify reliable pass-catchers with Pitts, Grimes and Toney departing.

    The defense also will need a major face-lift after it was gutted for 144 points and more than 1,700 yards of offense in those three late losses. The Gators allowed 28 touchdown passes this season, which ranked next to last among FBS teams. They gave up 30.8 points per game, their most since surrendering 41.2 per contest in six games in 1917. Todd Grantham, one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the FBS, seems to be on thin ice. Secondary coaches Ron English and Torrian Gray have already been fired.

    2020 record: 4-3 (3-3 Big Ten)Projected returning starters: eight offense, seven defense, two special teams

    Projected losses: OT Cole Van Lanen*, G Jon Dietzen*, DE Isaiahh Loudermilk*, DE Garrett Rand*, S Eric Burrell*

    Key additions: WR Markus Allen, OT Nolan Rucci, S Hunter Wohler, DE T.J. Bollers, S Braelon Allen

    Outlook: Few programs had their seasons disrupted by COVID-19 more than the Badgers, who had two games canceled and another one postponed. They looked like Big Ten West title contenders after an early 49-11 rout at Michigan, but then quarterback Graham Mertz was sidelined after testing positive for the coronavirus.

    Wisconsin never seemed to regain its momentum from there. Its offense also played without top wide receivers Danny Davis III and Kendric Pryor for much of the season because of concussions. The Badgers scored fewer than seven points in three straight losses. Mertz should improve after a full offseason, and Pryor has already announced he's coming back.

    Jim Leonhard's defense once again ranked in the top 10 in scoring and total defense, and with linebackers Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal returning, the unit will be among the best in the FBS in 2021.

    Read more here:
    The 2021 Way-Too-Early college football top 25 - ESPN

    NBA Teams Already Regretting Their 2020 Free-Agency Pickups – Bleacher Report - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    0 of 4

    Expectations don't always line up with reality, and that's as true in NBA free agency as anywhere else.

    Even this early in the 2020-21 season, buyer's remorse is real.

    To the surprise of many (myself included), neither the Charlotte Hornets nor the Detroit Pistons will appear here. Gordon Hayward has been effective, and he's a big reason the Hornets have been so much fun to this point. Jerami Grant's Pistons aren't any good, but he's silenced doubters who were sure he couldn't thrive in a bigger role.

    Regret may come for the Hornets and Pistons eventually, but it's nowhere to be found at the moment.

    That isn't the case elsewhere, as the following teams should already be questioning their additions in 2020 free agency.

    1 of 4

    The Atlanta Hawks got part of the process right, shrewdly acquiring veterans to address last season's main shortcomings: backcourt defense, secondary playmaking and a lack of non-Trae Young shot-creation.

    So far, the results have been a disaster.

    That isn't necessarily Atlanta's fault, as the lack of production from those new additions is entirely because of injuries. With that said, all four of Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo are at least as notable for their checkered health histories as they are for their on-court production.

    Gallo, who's played only two games, is out for several weeks with an ankle injury. He's averaged 26 games on the shelf over the past six seasons, and that's after missing the entire 2013-14 campaign with a torn ACL.

    Bogdanovic missed 23 games over the past two years, and he just went down with a fractured knee Saturday. He has no timetable to return for now. Dunn, who's missed at least 14 games in each of the past three seasons, hasn't played at all yet. Hehas had ankle surgery, though. Finally, Rondo's balky right knee has limited him to a grand total of 31 minutes of action to this point. He hasn't surpassed the 50-game mark in either of the last two campaigns and has fallen short of 70 every year since 2015-16.

    There's absolutely a luck element to injuries, and the Hawks deserve credit for aggressively finding void-filling pieces that made perfect sense in their idealized rotation. But they didn't exactly prize durability in their signings, and it has come back to bite them.

    2 of 4

    Tristan Thompson is helping the Boston Celtics on the offensive glass, which is the absolute minimum they likely hoped for when signing him for the mid-level exception. Thompson has always beenamong the league's bestgenerators of second-chance opportunities, and he's doing that for Boston in the early going.

    Having now complimented the 29-year-old big man, we can dig into the rougher stuff.

    Opponents are feasting at the rim with Thompson in the game, getting to close rangemore oftenand converting at alarming rates. Inside six feet, players are hitting74.4 percentof their shots with Thompson as the primary defender. That's the fifth-highest hit rate allowed in the league among players who've defended at least 40 total attempts. Among bigs, only Enes Kanter, Paul Millsap and Marvin Bagley III have been worse deterrents.

    Boston's defensecraterswith Thompson and Daniel Theis on the floor, which isn't what you'd expect from an old-school two-big lineup. Those are supposed to struggle on offense but lock down the lane and suppress opponents' scoring. That hasn't happened.

    Thompson isn't a floor-spacer, and he has long struggled to score efficiently in general. If he isn't helping the interior defense, it's hard for him to make a positive impact.

    Jeff Teague looked fantastic in the early going, but he's been unproductive outside of some hot, low-volume three-point shooting. Kemba Walker's return can't come soon enough.

    3 of 4

    The Toronto Raptors' struggles feel like they stem more from subtractions than additions*, even if those are really two sides of the same roster-building coin. It's as if Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol took some indefinable quality with them when they leftcorporate knowledge, maybe, or championship experienceand neither Aron Baynes nor Alex Len has been able to find what's missing.

    Also, neither new big man has been productive on the floor. Maybe we should have just kept it simple and started with that.

    Baynes, bounced from the rotation after seven games, hasn't shown the three-point stroke he developed over the last two years. He's at 18.8 percent from deep and has been one of the NBA's most negatively impactful players on both ends. Quick and dirty summation: His minus-8.7 box plus/minus is second-worst leaguewide among players who've logged at least 100 minutes.

    Len has gotten some reps in Baynes' place, but he hasn't been much better.

    It's a good thing holdover Chris Boucher has taken a step forward. Without him, Toronto's center position might be the most hopeless in the league. A downgrade was inevitable with the Raptors losing two key vets, but nobody expected the free-agency replacements to be this bad.

    *Fatigue following two deep postseason runs and the difficulty of playing home games in Tampa Bay can't be ignored, either.

    4 of 4

    Davis Bertans has shot it well by normal standards, but his 36.0 percent conversion rate on threes would be a career low if the season ended today. When you give someone a five-year, $80 million contract and further cave by adding an early termination option on the final season, giving Bertans all the power in the team-player relationship, you hope to see more than that.

    Specialistsespecially the highly paid varietyneed to be special.

    Still, Bertans' minutes coincide with the best point differential among all Washington Wizards rotation players, and his gravity has been a key driver of the team's top-five offensive rating. He's probably overpaid, but Bertans isn't the main reason Washington should be feeling some buyer's remorse over its free-agent moves.

    Although Robin Lopez and Raul Neto aren't cap-cripplers on one-year deals at $7.3 and $1.9 million, respectively, they haven't been of much help in the early going.

    Lopez typically juices a team's defensive rebounding success, but his impact on that end has barely been noticeable this year. Because Thomas Bryant, who's now out for the season with an ACL tear, is such a defensive minus, many of Lopez's early on-off numbers on that end look better than they have a right toand they aren't even all that good. Washington has been outscored by 9.9 points per 100 possessions in Lopez's floor time, the worst figure on the team among players who've seen at least 150 minutes of action.

    Neto is close behind at minus-9.0, and that's despite shooting 52.7 percent from the field and 42.4 percent on threes. Opponents are crushing the Wizards defense six ways from Sunday, but they've found scoring particularly easy with Neto on the floor.

    Bertans, Lopez and Neto aren't the problem in Washington. A lack of defensive accountability, head coach Scott Brooks' strange lineups and Russell Westbrook being a massive drag on both ends are the real issues. But the Wizards' offseason signings aren't producing solutions, either.

    Stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference and Cleaning the Glass. Accurate through games played Wednesday, Jan. 13. Salary info via Basketball Insiders.

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    NBA Teams Already Regretting Their 2020 Free-Agency Pickups - Bleacher Report

    Even when Stephen Curry is on, Warriors struggling to find their rhythm – ESPN - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    As up and down as the first 12 games of the Golden State Warriors new season have been, no contest has underscored the difference between Stephen Curry 's past and present basketball reality more than Thursday's 114-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets. As much as both Curry and coach Steve Kerr tried to hammer home the point that the Warriors' defense has to play with more physicality in order to win, there was another issue that is just as important and grew more prominently throughout the game. An issue that will define the course of how the next four months of the group's season plays out: Curry's greatness isn't enough to overcome lackluster offensive production from those around him. For the first time all season, the Warriors dropped a game in which the 32-year-old two-time MVP scored at least 30 points.

    "I think it's just a matter of our team connecting and figuring out who we are and what we are," Kerr said during a video conference with reporters, when asked how to keep Curry from getting frustrated when he's not getting enough help. "It's going to take some time because of the moving parts, new additions, also trying to ease James [Wiseman] along. So you look at Steph's line obviously great scoring night, 35 points, but seven turnovers, Draymond [Green] had five, we're not really in sync yet. And that's going to take time."

    2 Related

    To Kerr's point, the Warriors are still trying to weave in Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. into the offense and both players are still adjusting to the way Curry plays the game. Green had an uncharacteristically off night on both ends of the floor, but since his return from an early season foot injury and conditioning issues due to COVID protocols, he has proven to be a helpful antidote in getting the offense moving and getting Curry in position to operate.

    Kerr acknowledged that his team is still figuring out the best way to integrate Wiseman and hasn't gotten comfortable throwing him lobs in the paint yet. But if ever there was a night to remind Curry that Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala weren't by his side to take some pressure off his shoulders, this was it.

    After Curry scored 12 points in the first quarter, the Warriors seemed to lose their way. Wiggins and Oubre missed open looks throughout the night, Green had no impact on the offensive end and the bench didn't have many answers against a Nuggets team that likes to get up and down the floor. The starting unit has only shown flashes of rhythm over the first month of the season and continues to struggle to string together solid performances.

    "We've had some good days, some bad days," Curry said. "Twelve games in we got to understand what we can do better, especially offensively, just getting in a little bit more flow. And then living up to that expectation of what we're supposed to do defensively and that's just consistent energy. Night to night it's hard with a new group when you're playing really talented teams ... just be real with ourselves and what we need to do better. Not get in our feelings when we don't play well."

    Kerr echoed similar sentiments in reiterating that he believes the offense will come together over time. The veteran coach appears much more concerned about getting his defense to play with more consistency than an offense that is still trying to find its way with a 19-year-old center. But as teammates continue to say they need to do a better job of playing off Curry, it's worth noting that there are times when Wiggins and Oubre still don't seem sure about exactly where they need to be on the floor. While trying to take accountability for some of his own shortcomings on Thursday, Curry hinted at the fact that the Warriors are still wrestling with how to work best off each other.

    "Just keep being aggressive and being smart with the basketball," Curry said, when asked what he can do to help his teammates feel more comfortable. "There's a couple times tonight -- for instance where you start to rush a little bit. That aggressiveness turns into getting yourself in trouble and a couple untimely turnovers in that situation. I think offensively I got going creating my own shot and then we didn't get to that next level where I'm moving it, we have good flow and things kind of got a little stagnant pretty quick in that first quarter."

    The NBA is back! Catch all the 2020-21 season action on ESPN, ABC and the ESPN App.

    Friday, Jan. 15 Mavericks at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN Pelicans at Lakers, 10 p.m. on ESPN

    All times Eastern

    Curry's minus-21 was the second worst plus/minus in his career during a game in which he scored at least 30 points, according to ESPN Stats and Information. As has been the case at various points throughout the year, he is trying to force the action when he sees that he's not getting the help he grew accustomed to when Thompson, Durant and Iguodala were on the floor. Curry continues to pump the outward positivity even though it is nights like these that offer a reminder that even when he does play 38 minutes and scores 35 points, that still won't be enough because the margin for error on this team is so small.

    "It's not every time we lose and have a bad night, there's no panic," Curry said. "It's understanding we're 12 games into a new lineup and a new look and some nights it's going to look really, really great, some nights it might look really bad. It just kind of comes with the territory."

    See the article here:
    Even when Stephen Curry is on, Warriors struggling to find their rhythm - ESPN

    Bridgerton: Everything Netflix Changed From The Books – Screen Rant - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    For the most part, Bridgerton stays true to the romance novels by Julia Quinn, but it also makes some notable changes in a few key areas. The Netflix series has seemingly taken the world by storm, with massive viewership numbers and rumored plans for much more to come. Many new fans of the series will likely turn to the books while they wait for season 2, and theyll find that Quinns version of the story is different in some significant ways.

    At its core, Bridgerton is a pretty formulaic Regency-era romance. Its full of dashing rich people, poor communication, rumors, and bodice-ripping.Bridgerton has garnered popularity beyond its genre, however, largely due to the fantastic chemistry of the shows cast and its strong writing along numerous, interconnected plotlines. Some of those high points are taken directly from the pages of Quinns novels, but a number of them are brand new for the Netflix version.

    Related:Bridgerton: Every TV Show Character Who Wasn't In The Books

    In any adaptation, maintaining a balance between staying true to the source material and introducing new ideas is a delicate task. Bridgerton threads that needle pretty well, and the changes it makes generally make sense for adjusting the story to a new medium. Here are the biggest changes the Netflix series makes to Julia Quinns books.

    Starting with perhaps the shows biggest divergence from the novels, Marina Thompson is completely different in the two versions. In the show, she is a protagonist of near-equal narrative status to Daphne, offering a mirrored image in many ways of the Duchesss own story. Marina struggles with complex problems of ethics and self-preservation in a world that is not designed to protect her, and she becomes an emotional centerpiece of the story as a result. In the end, she agrees to marry Phillip, the brother of her deceased lover who was the father of her child.

    This marriage to Phillip is the only real similarity between the Marina of Bridgerton and the Marina of the books. In Quinns novel, Marina is only briefly mentioned later in the series a severely depressed woman who dies following a suicide attempt. Phillip actually ends up becoming romantically involved with Eloise in the books, long after his former wifes passing. The book Marina was a relation of the Bridgertons, not the Featheringtons.

    Bridgerton shows Daphne in her very first season of eligibility, after the Queens good word makes her the most desired lady in the ton. Her prospects drop significantly thanks to her older brother Anthonys incessant meddling, but she still manages to find love by the end of the courting season. Daphne's romancewith Simon is challenging, but the two manage to open up to each other by the end of season 1.

    Related:Bridgerton's Lady Whistledown Twist Explained: Identity, Meaning & Future

    The core of Daphne and Simons story is the same through both versions, but the show does make a few key changes. For starters, Daphne is in her second season in the books, not her first, and she has significantly more trouble attracting the eyes of promising suitors. Daphne's brother Anthony is much more relaxed about his sisters marrying, and is not the cause of her unfortunate circumstances. Anthony even knows about Simon and Daphnes ruse in the books and agrees to it, under the condition that they dont spend actual time alone. Lady Danbury also plays a slightly different role in the pairs story, as she is not the mother figure to Simon in the books that she is in the show.

    The Netflix series also makes some notable improvements in terms of the toxicity of Simon and Daphnes relationship. Simon is a good deal coarser and harsher in the books, boasting some truly reprehensible moments of asserting his ownership of Daphne out of anger. This in turn sparks The Duke and Is most notorious scene, when Daphne causes Simon to ejaculate inside her against his will.

    In the book, Simon comes to bed drunk one night after Daphne confronts him about pulling out during sex. After he falls asleep, Daphne takes advantage of his state in a scene that has widely been condemned seemingly condoning sexual assault. The show alters the scene notably, turning it into a consensual encounter between the two that Daphne turns to her advantage by staying on top of Simon when he climaxes. Still, Simons actual consent in the moment is questionable at best, and some viewers have criticized Bridgerton for not going far enough to fixthe scene, or remove the moment from the series completely.

    In Bridgerton, Simon frequently engages in shirtless bare-knuckle boxing bouts with his friend Will Mondrich. Its a nice touch for fans of sweaty muscles or masculine bravado, but it has nothing to do with Quinns books. The boxing scenes, fight-throwing plotline, and even the characters of Will and his wife Alice are all new in the Netflix show. Overall, the added storyline is a good addition, showing some different dimensions to Simons character and introducing a wholly independent and compelling arc with Will and Alice. And of course, the boxing provides abs in plentiful supply.

    Related:Bridgerton Season 1 Ending Explained (In Detail)

    Season 1 of Bridgerton ends with the presumed death of Lord Featherington a character whos already dead by the time The Duke and I begins. His revival makes sense, as it gives Marina Thompson a reason to remain with the Featherington family after her pregnancy is discovered. Lord Featherington may not be a very major character in the series, but his despicable nature and gambling addiction move the plot along in some key ways. It will be interesting to see who replaces him in Bridgertonseason 2.

    Quinns book series features a very brief appearance from an opera singer named Maria Rosso, who is a past mistress of Anthony Bridgerton. Her role in the novels is tiny, however, and her relationship with the Viscount seems to have been nothing more than a brief fling. Maria was adapted into the character of Siena Rosso in the show, similar in her occupation, but very different in her relationship with Anthony. Sienna is a much more fully-formed character, and she plays a much more important role in the story. The incompatibility between the two lovers comes off as truly tragic. Hopefully, Bridgerton hasnt seen the last of Siena Rosso.

    One of Bridgertons bigger divergences from the books is the inclusion of more characters of royal stature. Queen Charlotte plays a major role in the plot, both by meddling in Daphnes affairs and in searching for the identity of Lady Whistedown. She even tries to set Daphne up with her foreign relation Prince Friedrich. Neither of these royals features in Quinns books, though they make excellent additions to the Netflix version of the story.

    The second-born son of the Bridgerton clan has a substantial if isolated arc in the first season, where he experiments with art, sex, and not living strictly by the codes of his social station. There are orgies, paintings, queerbaiting, and some truly touching heart-to-hearts with Eloise. Most of this material, including the very existence of the modiste Genevieve Delacroix and the artist Henry Granville, is new to the show. It should be interesting to see how Benedicts story develops going forward, and if it will continue to veer off course from the version in the books.

    Related:Bridgerton: What Happened To Daphne's Father

    Lastly, Bridgerton makes one major change to the world of the story by introducing an alternate history of race relations in Regency-era England. The show presents a United Kingdom where at some unknown point in the relatively recent past reparations were paid to black citizens in the form of money, power, and political titles. This aspect of the world is only barely alluded to in a few passing lines, and it should be interesting to see how the story expands on the idea moving forward. The books have no such alternate history, and all their primary characters are presumably, assuredly white. In a genre generally lacking severely in diverse representation, its nice to see Bridgerton attempt to make some steps in the right direction.

    Next:Bridgerton: What The Final Shot Of The Bumblebee Really Means

    Star Wars Theory: Obi-Wan's New Darth Vader Duel Will Be A Force Vision

    Rick Stevenson is a writer, editor and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. He's written on TV, film and games for over six years, in addition to assorted stints in bookselling, carpentry, and TV production. Rick studied writing at the College of William & Mary and Oxford University, and can report with some authority that they are both old. A comedian and improviser when not writing, he currently performs with Socially Distant Improv on Instagram, and is a founding member of the Oxford University House of Improv. He lives and dies for Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    Read more here:
    Bridgerton: Everything Netflix Changed From The Books - Screen Rant

    Minnesota Wild Predictions: Who will win the 2021 West division and Wild team awards? – Hockey Wilderness - January 15, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    After a long wait and multiple revised schedules, the start of the National Hockey League season is finally here. The ongoing pandemic means business will be nowhere near usual, but aside from the specter of ongoing outbreaks and stadiums with less than full capacity, it will be nice to see actual games with actual players again.

    Last year, we awarded four postseason team titles to Minnesota Wild players who earned the distinction with superb play. Before the puck drops on the 2021 season, lets throw some hats into the ring and predict who might be the team award winners come next May (or hopefully, July), as well as try to envision where the Wild will end up in a brand new, albeit temporary, Honda NHL West Division.

    Lets start with the most obvious selection of all:

    The Wild made a series of moves in the offseason, and many of them are ready to make a serious impact...

    OK, thats enough of that. Its Kirill Kaprizov. Of course its going to be.

    But since the fight is so unfair, well give a special award this year...

    While Im of the opinion that Nick Bonino might be able to have a bit of a career renaissance in Minnesotamaybe not to the level of someone like Eric Staal, but a resurgance nonethelesstruthfully, the player that can (and needs to) have the most immediate impact with the Wild is new starting goaltender Cam Talbot.

    With a strong defensive corps in front of him, Talbot is coming into a situation where he can definitely succeed. And with Alex Stalock out indefinitely, Talbot will not only have to be an upgrade to outgoing starter Devan Dubnyk, hell likely be called upon to be in net nearly every night. Sure, the Wild have Kaapo Kahkonen on the bench, and Andrew Hamburglar Hammond on the taxi squad, but neither of the Wilds current secondary options are dependable enough to yet be trusted with long-term duty.

    While I think Talbot might fall short of his 2016-17 season where he finished fourth in Vezina voting, hell more than surpass the other non-Russian newcomers and make his mark on the 2021 season.

    Speaking of needing players to step up, the Wild have a number of young guys that have not quite lived up to their high draft picks and vaunted prospect statuses. The two obvious names that come to mind are Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway. But while both players will have ice time opportunities aplenty with Mats Zuccarello to start the season, the forward that I think will take the biggest step forward is former college free agent signing Nico Sturm.

    After scoring 12 goals and 20 assists in his first season with the Iowa Wild, Sturm scored his first NHL goal in last seasons play-in playoffs. And though hell start the season on the fourth line with Victor Rask and Ryan Hartman, Sturm had a good camp and will no doubt have a chance to move and up and down the lineup as the season progresses.

    Choosing the newly-named captain Jared Spurgeon would be an easy pick here. And while I expect the General to have another solid defensive season that is ignored nationally, Im going to go way out on a limb and say that Matt Dumba will finally break out offensively.

    Hes certainly already fired up for the season...

    I dont have anything specific to lean on for this prediction, but the guys certainly due. Hes healthy. Hes made it through rumors and speculation that he was definitely going to be tradedthough those rumors will likely still persist in 2021 with Marcus Foligno re-signed and Seattle expansion still looming. Bottom line, hell be motivated to live up to his ability and expectations.

    Kevin Fiala won the award last season, and theres no reason to believe he wont take home the prize again in a shortened 2021 season. Sure, Kaprizov might surprise everyone and win not only the Calder but the Hart as well, but even with the Russians high level of talent, he will be playing his first year in the NHL, and theres bound to be some bumps in the road, especially as opponents figure out his game.

    Fiala, on the other hand, has had several seasons to acclimate and was by far the best player on the ice last year, leading the team in points (54) and finishing second in goals (23) and assists (31).

    Fiala wont have his primary center with Staal gone, but should he be paired with Nick Bjugstad or Nick Bonino, he should still have the time, space and ability to pull off more of the insane goals that we saw last season.

    1 Colorado AvalancheIt seems like every reporter, blogger and prognosticator has the Avs as the default winners of the new West, and Im not one to disagree. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar... and we havent even gotten to Landeskog yet? Yeah, the West is the Avalanches to lose

    2 Vegas Golden KnightsThe Golden Knights have in my mind the strongest defensive top four in the west and can roll three offensive lines at you. Granted, their centers after William Karlsson are a little suss with Stasny gone, but if Cody Glass has a strong sophomore season, Vegas might just be able to keep up with the Avs and give them a run for their money.

    3 St. Louis BluesSome might have the Blues higher on the strength of their defense and goaltending, but with shallow offensive depth and Vladamir Tarasenko out of possibly half of a shortened season, nothing short of a Vezina-winning season from Jordan Binnington will allow the Blues to keep up point-for-point with the top two teams in the league. Luckily for them, that would be more than earn a playoff spot in the top three.

    4 Minnesota WildIm all in on Talbot being a significant step up from Devan Dubnyks final two seasons in a Wild uniform. Kaprizov looks ready to impress. And as mentioned before, theres a chance this is finally the year Dumba puts it together. It wont be enough to really battle with the top teams in the West (and it will likely result in yet another one-and-done in the playoffs), but the Wild should be competitive and battling right into May for a spot in the postseason.

    Whether or not thats something youre looking forward to? Thats another story.

    5 Arizona CoyotesThe Coyotes lost some considerable pieces to free agency in Taylor Hall and Derek Stepan, but the young and talented core looks ready to build on their 2020 playoff success, having knocked off the Nashville Predators in the play-in round. That said, theyve also made a bunch of self-inflicted wounds from a management standpoint, whether it was violating the NHLs combine testing policy and losing two draft picks, or selecting Mitchell Miller knowing full well about his checkered past. But goaltenders can often carry less than stellar teams on their shoulders, and while I think Darcy Kuemper and Anti Raanta can get the Coyotes pretty far, I dont see getting them far enough to see the postseason.

    6 Los Angeles KingsThe Kings are a mix of super old and super young, with not much in between. If everyone is clicking, they can win some games theyre not supposed to, especially high-scoring affairs against the Golden Knights or the Avalanche. But in a condensed season, relying that much upon the likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter could catch up to Los Angeles in a big way. They could find their way into the fourth and final playoff spot, but theyll likely finish short.

    7 San Jose SharksAfter finishing last season in the unfamiliar territory of the cellar of the Pacific division, the Sharks decided to throw everything they could at the problem. They brought in Devan Dubnyk to shore up goaltending. They traded for Ryan Donato to hopefully fill a top-six role that he couldnt find with the Wild, though hes already been shifted down to the third line during training camp. They brought back Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau to fill bottom-six spots as well. But the Sharks are another team with aging stars and injury issues. If they can overcome their issues from last season (and their additions pay off), they could possibly finish as high as the fourth playoff spot. But so much has to go right, and with the lack of depth and a goaltending tandem that could be one of the worst in the West, theres not a whole lot of reason to think theyll be able to pull it off.

    8 Anaheim DucksAnaheim is another team stuck in the muddled middle of competing and going full rebuild mode. The difference between them and the Wild is that the Ducks dont yet have the young players ready to kick down the door like Kevin Fiala last year or Kirill Kaprizov this year. Also, their defensive zone is less than inspiring. Gone are the days where they could steal a win or two from the Flames, Oilers and/or Canucks. Now, with Colorado and St. Louis and even the Wild taking their place, the Ducks might not have a choice whether or not to rebuild - their hand might play itself.

    Continued here:
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    ‘This is our livelihood’: Lakeland bars held little back on New Year’s Eve – The Ledger - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    If you were looking to forget all about the coronavirus pandemic on New Year's Eve, your best bet would have been to visit a Lakeland bar.

    At Federal Bar Lakeland on South Tennessee Avenue, for example, the main thing staff adjusted for the 2020 New Year's Eve celebration was their expectations.

    Kara Simm, the bar's events manager, said it was their third holiday season open and they followed the blueprint of the past: a live band, a DJ, and a complimentary midnight champagne toast. The patio was open, there was no cover charge, and patrons could grab festive gear to wear throughout the night.

    More: Polk County sets COVID-19 record for second straight day with 637 infections

    Despite throwing the same event as usual, Simm knew the pandemic could affect turnout as some may still fear gathering in large groups.

    "We don't expect it to be crazy tomorrow night at all," Simm said Wednesday.

    Despite rising cases of the virus in the state, several popular Lakeland bars planned to hostholiday parties on Thursday in which masks may have been encouraged but weren't required.While some events stayed the same, others made adjustments for COVID-19 or were canceled altogether. And thoughsome may be critical of the decision, owners and managers said bars were hit hard by financial shutdowns and need to stay afloat. Besides, people were free to stay at home if they wish, they said.

    Ahead of the Thursday ragers, Polk County set a COVID-19 record for new daily infections a second straight day, reporting 637 new infectionsin Thursday's report. The Florida Department of Health also reported six more Polk County deaths. The positive test rate was 16.06%.

    The spike follows a disturbing trend: at 320.2 average cases per day in December, Polk County has surpassed its previous high average of 279.5 daily cases in July. And it's more than double the 147.3 average in November.

    While the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines have stirred optimism, most members of the general public likely won't see their doses until well into 2021.

    Were youlooking to spend your New Year's Eve out of your house with a drink in your hand? There were plenty of options.

    "Well tonight, we are having like what we normally do: a big New Year's Eve Party," said Soloman Wassef, owner of Lakeland Loft on South Tennessee Avenue,on Thursday.

    Like Federal Bar, the Lakeland Loft threw its party like it was any other year. Wassef said he wanted people to be safe and practice social distancing "if they want to." While some may criticize those who spent the holiday outside of their homes, Wassef noted going out to ring in the new year is a tradition some are unwilling to give up.

    "This is one day people want to go out. They don't want to cook at the house, they don't want to wash dishes at the house, they want to go out and be pampered," Wassef said. "We don't want to force people to go out, [but] we don't want to force people to stay in. We want people to practice normal life because this is going to be the norm from now on."

    And some might've ventured out to seek catharsis, beaten down by the difficult year. That's a feeling Brewlands Bar & Billiards on Florida Avenue South tapped into, theming their New Year's Eve Party around a "funeral" for 2020, complete with a handmade coffin.

    Randi Allen, general manager of the bar, said customers could write down whatever they wanted to leave behind in 2021 and have it burned by staff at midnight, signaling a new start for a new year even if the first few months, at least, will likely look eerily similar to most of 2020.

    "They just wanted to bury 2020 and move on and forget about it the best they can," Allen said. "Are we going to wake up tomorrow and everything's gonna be completely different? Probably not. But it's a new year, it's a new beginning. Let's try to think positive and move forward."

    Even though many party plans remained largely unchanged, bar owners expected lower turnout than years past. Although bar attendance has experienced a slight uptick in the last few weeks, it's still nothing compared to last year's performance, they said.

    "We expect it to probably be on the quieter side," Allen said Thursday. "Which we respectbecause some people may not feel comfortable going out, and that's OK."

    The holiday season had already been slower than usual. SantaCon, a popular bar hopper event, failed to be all that jolly.

    "It was much quieter this year, you know, than in years past, unfortunately," Simm with Federal Bar said. "It's a pandemic year."

    Wassef said he actually had higher participation in SantaCon this year than in the past. But he noted his bar, usually filled with jazz music, attracts an older clientele. For SantaCon, most of the participants he saw were between 25 and 40 and may have spilled over from bars they frequent more often.

    While still on, some events looked significantly different than they had in the past in an attempt to make celebrations safer in the COVID-19 era.

    Hannah Duling, the assistant manager at Swan Brewing on West Pine Street, said they planned to make New Year's Eve look like a typical night with the simple additions of free champagne and extended hours until midnight.

    "We have a band playing and food trucks, but that's pretty normal for us on any given day. Really, the champagne toast is the only thing that we're doing for New Year's," Duling said. "I would say we toned it down."

    Plus, while many bars are operating at full capacity, the tap room at Swan Brewing is still capped at 50% while the outdoor patio is fully open.

    Union Hall on Florida Avenue Southalso toned down their event, capping ticket sales for their New Year's party at 100 for an event space that can fit 250. Manager Parker Duncan said the event in the Champagne Room was "packed" in 2019.

    Duncan said that on Wednesday, they'd only sold two tickets. But he noted that people will often show up and pay at the door. So what if way more than 100 people showed up?

    "If it's like busy busy and it starts to get full, I would prefer to cap it just to make everybody feel safe," Duncan said. "The last thing we want here is someone coming in and this is the last place they were at and they're like 'Oh, I got COVID at Union Hall.'"

    Duncan said Union Hall staff wear masks and guests are asked to mask upwhen walking around or at the bar.

    Duncan said he didn't have "high expectations" but hoped to at least get to $500. While before this year the bar would often make between $1,500 and $3,000 on a weekend night, events lately are only bringing in between $300 and $600.

    Some events were just canceled altogether. In 2019, Haus 820 hosted a New Year's Eve party with regular and VIP admission prices in addition to a trolley service that made stops in Dixieland and downtown Lakeland. This year, the space remained dark.

    "As a company, we are trying to be mindful of large events at this time," said venue manager Danielle Skolozynski in an email. "We want to keep the health of our guests and staff at the forefront, so we decided it would not be wise to host our NYE this year."

    For New Year's Eve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that if you gathered with someone outside of your home, you wear a mask, stay six feet apart and avoid crowds or poorly ventilated indoor spaces. While many Lakeland bars have outdoor options, the nature of going out and drinking makes mask usage difficult, elevating the risk of spread of COVID-19.

    But for those who would critique a bar's decision to host a pandemic party, those in the business say that they can't afford to stay closed.

    "I think us as a bar, we got hitthe hardest out of everybody. And you know, this is our livelihood and this is what we do for work. A lot of us, we can't just, you can't like go from the money you're making as a bartender, all of asudden to go work at McDonald's or something like that because you live your life based on the money you make," Duncan said. "If you don't want to come out, don't come out. But we've still got to make our living."

    Other bar owners and employees said they were excited to work New Year's Eve and were not afraid of the risk.

    The position can be polarizing. One bar declined to comment for this story, saying they won't speak about anything COVID-related as "you're going to piss someone off."

    Business closures and other economic devastation related to COVID-19 havehit restaurants and bars hard. While long-term recovery is still out of reach, perhaps 2021 will bring hope for the industry. It's the little things: Simm, for example, would like to see the event space at Federal Bar get some love in the new year.

    "We're hoping things pick up in 2021," she said.

    Allen with Brewlands is cautiously optimistic.

    "I think once you know, you have a full-fledged like vaccines going out and numbers keep coming down, I think people are going to become more and more comfortable with going out," Allen said.

    Maya Lora can best be reached with tips or questions at mlora@gannett.com or 863-802-7558.

    Read the original here:
    'This is our livelihood': Lakeland bars held little back on New Year's Eve - The Ledger

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