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    Times staff
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Tonight: USF men vs. Bowling Green

    When/where: 7; Sun Dome, Tampa

    Radio: 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    Records: USF 6-3, Bowling Green 5-5

    Notable: USF coach Stan Heath spent two years as an assistant at Bowling Green, from 1994-96, and the Falcons gave another one of his former schools, Michigan State, a scare Tuesday in a 64-53 loss. USF sophomore Anthony Collins was named to the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard (he's averaging 7.8 assists and is second on the team with 10.3 points per game). He'll have a height advantage on Bowling Green leading scorer Jordon Crawford, a 5-6 guard averaging 15.7 ppg; 6-7 F A'uston Calhoun is at 15.4. USF continues to get strong rebounding from F Victor Rudd, among the Big East leaders at 8.3 to go with his 9.7 points. USF will again be without G Shaun Noriega, sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot. Look for more minutes for Musa Abdul-Aleem, who had eight points in his first extended action Tuesday.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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    Times staff
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    USF women vs. Nevada

    When/where: 1; Aventura Spa Palace, Cancun, Mexico

    Radio: 1010-AM

    Records: USF 8-1, Nevada 5-4

    Notable: USF opens play in the Caribbean Classic, with another game set for 3:30 Saturday against Creighton to wrap up the pre-Christmas schedule. Nevada's top scorers are guards Danika Sharp (16.2) and Chanelle Brennan (14.6). USF senior G Andrell Smith has overtaken twin sister Andrea for the team scoring lead (15.6). Andrell leads the team in assists and steals and is second in rebounds. Andrea averages 14.7 points per game. The Bulls will try to bounce back from their first loss, falling by 10 to Nebraska.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    MILWAUKEE — Suzy Favor Hamilton, a three-time Olympian who capitalized on her wholesome image as an elite runner, mother and wife to land lucrative endorsement deals and motivational speaking engagements, has admitted to leading a double life for the last year as a high-priced call girl.

    In a confessional via her Twitter account, after a story published on thesmokinggun.com, Favor Hamilton wrote that she was drawn to escorting "in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life."

    The 44-year-old, a Stevens Point, Wis., native and former University of Wisconsin track star, admitted to working as "Kelly Lundy" with Haley Heston's Private Collection, one of Las Vegas' premier escort services.

    "I do not expect people to understand," she wrote on Twitter. "But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.

    She did not return a phone call but did respond to an email: "Been dealing with this for the past few weeks. Highs and lows. Right now, pretty low, obviously. As you can imagine, I am being swamped at the moment."

    In a Journal Sentinel profile in July, in advance of the London Olympics, Favor Hamilton talked about mental health issues that she had struggled with in the past, including depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.

    She said she was treating her depression with the medication Zoloft and added, "I just know, for me, this is something I have to have. I don't see myself going off medications."

    Favor Hamilton won 11 state titles at Stevens Point Area High and 23 Big Ten and nine NCAA track and cross-country titles at Wisconsin, leading to the Big Ten's female athlete of the year award being named in her honor. As a professional, she was a seven-time U.S. champion and at one point had five of the nine best-ever times by an American in the 1,500 meters. She competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics but never won a medal.

    She still lives in Madison with her husband, former Wisconsin baseball player and college sweetheart Mark Hamilton, and their 7-year-old daughter, Kylie.

    She told thesmokinggun.com, which specializes in publishing legal and other public information documents, that her husband knew about her escort work and that "he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all."

    In her "Kelly" profile on the Haley Heston's website, Favor Hamilton wrote that she was a "workout fanatic" and noted that "discretion is EXTREMELY important to me, hence you will see only blurred photos of my face on this site."

    She commanded $600 an hour for her services and charged $6,000 for a 24-hour period.

    Beginning last December, Favor Hamilton booked scores of "dates" in Las Vegas and other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

    In recent years, she worked as a real estate agent, did promotional work for various businesses and groups and gave as many as 60 motivational speeches a year. She also represented Disney World and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.

    At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she was leading the 1,500 final when she "hit the wall" with 200 meters to go. As runners started to pass, she tumbled to the track and only years later admitted she had fallen intentionally.

    When approached by a reporter from thesmokinggun.com in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel this month, Favor Hamilton initially denied any connection with the escort agency. But she eventually acknowledged her work as "Kelly."

    "I take full responsibility for my mistakes," she said in the story. "I'm not the victim, and I'm not going that route. … Everybody in this world makes mistakes. I made a huge mistake. Huge."

    Favor Hamilton said she was "too trusting" and, in referring to a client she suspected of revealing details of their trysts to thesmokinggun.com, said, "He totally broke all the rules by outing me."

    But she said she wouldn't fight back by naming him or any clients. "I don't want to be like him. Because he is scum," she said. "And I will not become scum to make myself feel good. … I would rather suffer than go that route of being vindictive."

    Milwaukee Journal SentinelMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

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  • 12/20/12--19:32: Sports on TV/radio
  • Times staff

    Thursday, December 20, 2012


    College basketball

    Women: USF vs. Nevada in Mexico, 1 p.m., 1010-AM

    Bowling Green at USF, 7 p.m., 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    Florida Atlantic at Indiana, 7 p.m., ESPN2

    Niagara at Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ESPNU

    Western Carolina at Tennessee, 7 p.m., Sun Sports

    BYU at Baylor, 9 pm., ESPN2

    Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt, 9 pm., ESPNU

    Stanford at Northwestern, 9 p.m., Big Ten

    College football

    Beef O' Brady's Bowl: UCF vs. Ball State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN; 620-AM, 1350-AM


    Magic at Raptors, 7 p.m., FSN

    Bulls at Knicks, 7:30 p.m., NBA


    College basketball

    McNeese State at North Carolina, noon, ESPNU

    Syracuse vs. Temple, noon, ESPN2

    American at Georgetown, noon, BHSN

    Murray State at Dayton, noon, CBSSN

    Coppin State at Iowa, 1 p.m., Big Ten

    USC at Georgia, 1:30 p.m., Sun Sports

    LSU at Marquette, 2 p.m., ESPNU

    Texas at Michigan State, 2 p.m., ESPN2

    Florida State at Charlotte, 2 p.m., CBSSN; 1040-AM

    George Mason at Richmond, 3 p.m., NBCSN

    Women: USF vs. Creighton in Mexico, 3:30 p.m., 1010-AM

    Kansas at Ohio State, 4 p.m., Ch. 10

    Mississippi vs. Indiana State, 4 p.m., ESPNU

    Marshall at Kentucky, 4 p.m., ESPN2

    Southern at Texas A&M, 4 p.m., Sun Sports

    Citadel at Georgia Tech, 4 p.m., FSN

    Old Dominion vs. Virginia, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN

    Missouri vs. Illinois, 6 p.m., ESPN2

    San Diego State vs. San Francisco, 6 p.m., ESPNU

    Lafayette at Minnesota, 7 p.m., Big Ten

    Florida vs. Kansas State, 8 p.m., ESPN2; 620-AM

    Davidson at Drexel, 8 p.m., NBCSN

    Western Kentucky vs. Louisville, 8:30 p.m., ESPNU

    Wis.-Milwaukee at Wisconsin, 9:15 p.m., Big Ten

    Arizona vs. East Tennessee State, 10:30 p.m., ESPNU

    Miami vs. Hawaii, 12:30 a.m., ESPNU

    College football

    New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina at Louisiana-Lafayette, noon, ESPN; 620-AM

    Maaco Bowl: Washington vs. Boise St., 3:30 p.m., ESPN


    Bulls at Hawks, 7 p.m., WGN

    Suns at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m., NBA


    Falcons at Lions, 8:30 p.m., ESPN, ESPND; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM



    Jazz at Magic, 6 p.m., FSN


    Rams at Bucs, 1 p.m., 103.5-FM, 620-AM

    Browns at Broncos, 4 p.m., Ch. 10

    Giants at Ravens, 4:25 p.m., Ch. 13

    49ers at Seahawks, 8 p.m., Ch. 8; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    TV: BHSN: Bright House Sports Network; CBSSN: CBS Sports Network; ESPND: ESPN Deportes; FSN: Fox Sports Net

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    Times wires
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    WASHINGTON — Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will be healthy enough to play Sunday against the Eagles if he has no setbacks, coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday.

    Griffin, who missed last weekend's win against the Browns with a sprained right knee ligament sustained the week before against the Ravens, went through his second consecutive day of full practice.

    Doctors watched the rookie closely Wednesday to see how his knee responded after his most extensive action since he was injured. Griffin didn't have problems and had a good practice Thursday, Shanahan said.

    "If there's no setback, doctors feel that he'll be ready to go," Shanahan said.

    Griffin said he didn't feel weakness or limitation in the knee, on which he has been wearing a brace.

    More redskins: Cornerback DeAngelo Hall said he was falsely accused of profanely threatening to kill an official during an on-field confrontation that resulted in his ejection in an Oct. 28 loss to the Steelers. Hall said he was told during the NFL's investigation of the incident, which resulted in a $30,000 fine, that the alleged threat against head linesman Dana McKenzie led to his ejection. The threat has not been previously revealed. "And … that didn't happen," Hall said.

    Colts coach can return: Chuck Pagano, diagnosed with leukemia in late September, can resume coaching whenever he's ready, his doctor, Larry Cripe, said. The Colts' coach has not been on the sideline since a Sept. 23 loss to Jacksonville. He was diagnosed three days later and began the first of three rounds of chemotherapy.

    Jets QB mess: Speculation about the futures of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow took a small turn toward the concrete. The Jets will consider all their options for both quarterbacks in the offseason, Newsday and the Associated Press reported. Specifically, they will try to trade Tebow, and if they can't, they will release him before the free agency period in March, Newsday said.

    Chiefs: Running back Jamaal Charles said he is focused on finishing the season strong after coming back from tearing his left ACL last season and then dealing with the murder-suicide involving teammate Jovan Belcher. Charles has 1,230 yards and four touchdowns for one of the league's worst offenses. "My knee has been holding up pretty good," he said. Belcher shot to death his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, then committed suicide Dec. 1. Perkins was the cousin of Charles' wife, Whitney, and Charles helped to introduce her to Belcher. "I don't even want to talk about that," Charles said.

    Cowboys: All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware was fined $15,750 for his fourth quarter roughing-the-passer penalty against the Steelers on Sunday, ESPN reported. As he came off the edge, Ware hit Ben Roethlisberger in the back of the helmet with his right arm.

    Dolphins: Starting receivers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess missed practice with back injuries. … The team sent flowers for today's funeral of Mary Sherlach, the Sandy Hook Elementary School psychologist killed in last week's shooting in Newtown, Conn. She was an avid Dolphins fan, coach Joe Philbin said: "We just thought it would be the right thing to do."

    Giants: Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks returned to practice after missing the previous day with a sprained left knee and said he expected to play against the Ravens on Sunday. Defensive end Justin Tuck (shoulder), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot), and offensive linemen Chris Snee (hip) and David Baas (hip/shoulder) sat out for the second straight day.

    Raiders: After spending most of the season on the bench, Terrelle Pryor will get on the field in certain specialty packages against the Panthers on Sunday, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. The quarterback made his season debut last weekend against the Chiefs.

    Titans: Running back Chris Johnson sent gifts to the family of 7-year-old Grace McDonnell, one of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims, after speaking with her family by telephone. He had the names of all the victims on his cleats for Monday night's game against the Jets. The McDonnells reached out to him through the Titans, and he spoke with them Tuesday. "I kind of did it for the kids and the family. I really don't want to make it about me," he said.

    Texans: Running back Arian Foster gave each offensive lineman a Segway Personal Transporter for aiding his third straight 1,000-yard season.

    Pro bowl: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning received the most fan votes for the Jan. 27 game. Fan voting (3C) is one-third of the equation in determining the teams. It is combined with voting by the players and coaches. The teams will be announced Wednesday.

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  • 12/20/12--20:20: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Alpine skiing

    U.S. teen gets first world cup win

    ARE, Sweden — Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin showed the American team can live without Lindsey Vonn, at least for a little while.

    In the first World Cup race since the four-time overall champion said she was taking a break from the circuit, Shiffrin, 17, won a night slalom ahead of Sweden's Frida Hansdotter for her first World Cup victory Thursday.

    Shiffrin has been touted as the next American ski star, and she performed like one under the floodlights on Are's Olympia course. An outstanding second run gave her a combined time of 1 minute, 45.36 seconds, 0.29 better than Hansdotter.

    "This is huge," said Shiffrin, who had two previous top-three finishes this season. "I think the best part besides the skiing was the (award) ceremony. It made me cry a little bit when I heard the American anthem."

    Overall World Cup leader Tina Maze was third.

    Shiffrin is the youngest women's World Cup winner since Lara Gut of Switzerland won a super-G in 2008, also at 17. The U.S. team said she is the second-youngest American woman to win a World Cup race, behind Judy Nagel, who was three months younger when she won a slalom in 1969.

    Vonn is returning to the United States over the holidays to fully recover from an intestinal illness that landed her in the hospital last month.


    Pierzynski joins Rangers behind plate

    The Rangers agreed to a deal with catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports said. The deal was pending a physical. The 35-year-old hit .278 with 27 homers, 77 RBIs and 68 runs last season for the White Sox. He will be Texas' everyday catcher. Geovany Soto will serve as the backup.

    Cubs: The club agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with ex-Rays RH starter Edwin Jackson and a two-year, $10 million deal with RH starter/reliever Carlos Villanueva, according to reports.

    Marlins: Former All-Star 3B Placido Polanco agreed to a $2.75 million, one-year contract.

    Phillies: RH reliever Mike Adams finalized a $12 million, two-year contract. The 34-year-old is expected to fill the eighth-inning role.

    Et cetera

    Broadcasting: ESPN suspended commentator Rob Parker for 30 days for the racially charged comments he made about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III during an episode of First Take. The suspension came a day after he apologized for his comments.

    Soccer: Real Madrid faces Manchester United in the second round of the European Champions League, a matchup that sends Cristiano Ronaldo back to the stadium where he made his reputation and Jose Mourinho to the club many believe he wants to coach.

    Running: After canceling the New York City Marathon in the days after Hurricane Sandy, New York Road Runners said runners registered for the race could either get a full refund or entry into the race in one of the next three years.

    Times wires

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  • 12/20/12--20:26: Duke adds to home streak
  • Times wires
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    DURHAM, N.C. — Mason Plumlee had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and No. 1 Duke beat Elon 76-54 Thursday night for its 100th straight nonconference win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

    Tyler Thornton hit 3-pointers 30 seconds apart that helped the Blue Devils (11-0) pull away midway through the second half.

    With Duke playing on back-to-back nights, its defense picked up a sluggish offense. Duke, held to 43 percent shooting, converted 17 turnovers into 19 points. "I thought we were mentally tired," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The season is not going to be a perfect one, and I'm proud that we kept playing defense.''

    Duke last lost to a non-ACC team at Cameron on Feb. 26, 2000, to St. John's.

    No. 2 Michigan 93, E. Mich. 54: Tim Hardaway Jr. had 17 points and a career-high seven assists for the host Wolverines (12-0), off to their best start since 16-0 in 1985-86. Michigan took control with an early 20-0 run.

    UCF 83, STETSON 66: Isaiah Sykes had his first career triple double as the host Knights (7-3) routed the Hatters (3-8). Sykes, a junior, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Chris Perez of Oldsmar Christian scored 20 for Stetson.

    Texas: Coach Rick Barnes denied a Yahoo report that sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo will be suspended by the NCAA for the rest of the season. The report said Kabongo supplied inaccurate information during an investigation into whether he violated his amateur status by accepting impermissible benefits from an agent.


    UF 88, savannah st. 38: Jennifer George had 14 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double double and the 23rd of her career, and the host Gators (9-3) rolled on the first day of the Gator Holiday Classic. UF faces Central Michigan at 7 tonight in the title game. The Chippewas (5-4) beat St. Joseph's 98-84.

    No. 5 N. Dame 87, K-state 57: Skylar Diggins scored 17 of her 22 in the first half, when the Irish (8-1) took a 49-25 lead in the second round of the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas.

    No. 9 Maryland 69, Del. 53: Tianna Hawkins had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and the visiting Terps (8-2) hounded Elena Delle Donne in her return from Lyme disease. Delle Donne played for the second time this season after missing a month. She had 19 points and six rebounds, shooting 7-for-23.

    Cal St. Northridge 77, No. 12 UCLA 72: Ashlee Guay scored a career-high 28 and freshman Marta Masoni made a season-high six 3-pointers as the visiting Matadors upset the Bruins (7-2). Cal State Northridge (6-4) had never beaten a ranked team.

    No. 18 Okla. 70, UC Riverside 46: Aaryn Ellenberg scored 27 for the host Sooners (9-2), who never trailed and led 32-22 at halftime.

    No. 20 Texas 53, Cornell 40: Freshman Imani McGee-Stafford posted her fourth double double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, helping the host Longhorns (7-2) control the boards 48-28.

    NO. 22 TEXAS A&M 78, Odu 55: Kelsey Bone scored a career-high 33 and had 14 rebounds for the Aggies (8-3) in the World Vision Classic at Las Vegas.

    Duquesne 62, No. 24 West Va. 54: Wumi Agunbiade scored 15 and the visiting Dukes (11-1) held the Mountaineers (7-3) to 17 of 57 shooting, 29.8 percent.

    Chicago TribuneChicago Tribune

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    Times wires
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    MINNEAPOLIS — The smallest player on the court delivered the Timberwolves' biggest win this season Thursday, 99-93 over Oklahoma City, which hadn't lost since the day after Thanksgiving.

    The Wolves ended the Thunder's 12-game winning streak by leading from opening tip until final buzzer, and every time you expected the visitors to assert themselves in the fourth quarter, Wolves point guard J.J. Barea was there, standing tall.

    All 5 feet 9 of him.

    Barea scored 14 of his 18 off the bench in a fourth quarter when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook tried to will the Thunder to victory. Barea denied the Thunder by scoring 12 consecutive Wolves points in the fourth after the Thunder had knocked a 14-point first-quarter deficit down to a point with less than 10 minutes to play.

    Barea made three 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch in which the Wolves turned a 76-75 lead into an 88-77 bulge with seven minutes left. "It was awesome," he said. "I think I was the energy we needed in the fourth quarter."

    The Thunder never got closer than four points again.

    Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.

    Durant had 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Thunder, which had not lost since Nov. 23 at Boston and has the best record in the league, 21-5.

    "It's not the end of the world," Durant said of the loss. "A lot of people said the world is going to end today, tomorrow, but it's not the end of the world. We lost to a good team. … We've just got to go back and work."

    Game highlights: LeBron James had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and the Heat beat the host Mavericks 110-95. James has scored at least 20 in all 23 games, the longest streak to start a season since Karl Malone's 24 in a row opening the 1989-90 season.

    Around the league: Lakers guard Steve Nash went through his first full-contact practice without setbacks to his broken left leg and said "it's more likely" he'll return Christmas Day against the Knicks than Saturday against Golden State. … Mavs point guard Derek Fisher will miss at least three games because of a strained right knee. … The Timberwolves waived forward Josh Howard after he tore the ACL in his right knee Friday at New Orleans. … The league's All-Star weekend Saturday night is adding a team component, with the Eastern and Western conferences competing for $500,000 for charity. The conferences will earn points based on the results of the night's four events: Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-point contest and dunk contest.

    Timberwolves 99, Thunder 93

    OKLAHOMA CITY (93): Durant 12-21 8-8 33, Ibaka 6-13 1-2 14, Perkins 0-2 0-0 0, Westbrook 9-28 11-13 30, Sefolosha 3-9 2-3 9, Collison 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 2-6 0-0 4, Thabeet 0-0 0-0 0, Maynor 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 33-82 22-26 93.

    MINNESOTA (99): Kirilenko 3-10 3-4 9, Love 9-20 6-8 28, Pekovic 10-18 4-4 24, Ridnour 1-4 2-2 4, Shved 5-10 0-0 12, Rubio 0-3 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-3 0-0 0, Barea 7-13 1-3 18, Williams 1-2 0-2 2, Stiemsma 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 37-84 16-23 99.

    Oklahoma City 18 26 25 24— 93

    Minnesota 30 23 23 23— 99

    3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 5-20 (Ibaka 1-1, Maynor 1-2, Durant 1-4, Sefolosha 1-5, Westbrook 1-6, Jackson 0-2), Minnesota 9-20 (Love 4-9, Barea 3-4, Shved 2-4, Kirilenko 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Ridnour 0-1). Fouled OutKirilenko. ReboundsOklahoma City 51 (Westbrook 11), Minnesota 56 (Love 11). AssistsOklahoma City 17 (Westbrook 9), Minnesota 27 (Shved 12). Total FoulsOklahoma City 24, Minnesota 19. TechnicalsDurant.

    Heat 110, Mavericks 95

    MIAMI (110): L.James 9-13 3-4 24, Haslem 1-3 3-4 5, Bosh 8-14 1-1 17, Chalmers 1-2 2-2 4, Wade 7-13 4-4 19, Battier 4-9 2-2 13, Anthony 1-3 0-0 2, Allen 4-7 1-1 10, Cole 3-6 0-0 6, Miller 2-4 0-0 6, Lewis 1-1 0-0 2, Pittman 1-2 0-0 2, J.Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 42-78 16-18 110.

    DALLAS (95): Da.Jones 3-6 5-5 12, Marion 5-14 0-0 10, Kaman 4-10 0-0 8, Collison 4-8 3-4 11, Mayo 3-14 2-2 8, Carter 4-9 2-2 10, Do.Jones 2-9 3-4 7, B.James 6-10 0-0 12, Crowder 5-13 3-4 15, Beaubois 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 37-96 18-21 95.

    Miami 31 27 33 19— 110

    Dallas 20 22 19 34— 95

    3-Point GoalsMiami 10-28 (L.James 3-5, Battier 3-7, Miller 2-4, Wade 1-3, Allen 1-4, Bosh 0-1, Chalmers 0-1, J.Jones 0-1, Cole 0-2), Dallas 3-22 (Crowder 2-8, Da.Jones 1-2, Collison 0-1, Beaubois 0-2, Carter 0-4, Mayo 0-5). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMiami 56 (L.James 9), Dallas 44 (Marion, B.James 9). AssistsMiami 25 (Wade 6), Dallas 23 (Do.Jones 7). Total FoulsMiami 14, Dallas 17.

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    By Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    TAMPA — Five months have passed since Chivarsky Corbett announced he was walking away from his career as Tampa Catholic's starting quarterback, but his deep ball is more accurate than ever.

    Now a full-time Crusaders basketball player with a verbal offer from USF, Corbett scored a career-best 34 points — including five 3-pointers — in his 7-1 team's 88-49 romp of Kissimmee Life Christian in Thursday's opening round of the City of Tampa Championship.

    "I miss the Friday nights," said Corbett, a 6-foot-6 junior who added he attended only about three Crusaders football games this past fall. "But basketball is the most fun."

    Thursday's blowout, which ended with a running clock, provided compelling evidence that a basketball-centric Corbett — 17 points from 1,000 for his career — has a boundless ceiling.

    After partaking of his pre-game ritual (a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit), Corbett went 13-for-19 from the floor, collected seven rebounds and three blocks, dunked off an alley-oop (from Isiah Thomas) and brandished his newfound touch (5-for-8) from behind the arc.

    "He could be really, really good," TC coach Don Dziagwa said. "Not taking anything away from playing football. But not playing football, he's had more of an opportunity to work on his individual skills."

    Corbett's regimen includes rising at 5:45 a.m. at least three days a week and getting to the Crusaders' gym from his New Tampa home by 6:30. Before school, he'll hoist at least 1,000 shots with the assistance of TC's shooting machine.

    "My mom, she wanted me to keep playing (football); (so did) the coaches, the players," said Corbett, who threw for 1,800 yards in two seasons as TC's quarterback. "Basketball, I loved it always, so I play it."

    In Thursday's other opening-round games, Robinson (10-3) put three players in double figures — led by junior Mike Cholas' 17 — in a 57-49 win against Chamberlain (8-3). Center Travis Forehand, a 6-5 sophomore, had all 10 of his points in the second half.

    Tourney host Tampa Prep got 16 points from USF-bound point guard Josh Heath and 14 from Furman-bound center Adonis Rwabigwi in a 68-29 rout of Blake. In the other first-rounder, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney slipped past Plant 52-47.

    Berkeley's adjustments pay off

    CLEARWATER — After playing away from the basket for much of the first half, Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart wanted his players to move closer. On defense, he wanted his small guys with quick feet to cut off driving lanes. On offense, he wanted his players to bulldoze toward easy, inside shots.

    It all worked to perfection.

    The Bucs kept their perfect record intact with a solid third quarter, scoring 27 points and getting Boca Ciega into foul trouble, for a 75-70 victory in the first round of the Brighthouse Tournament.

    "That first half, we were taking too many outside shots," Reinhart said. "We need to pick up our intensity on defense and play near the rim."

    By staying aggressive inside, Berkeley (11-0) was able to draw fouls. The Pirates (9-1) committed 10 of them in the third quarter, which sent the Bucs into the double-bonus.

    That resulted in plenty of trips to the free-throw line for Berkeley, which scored 19 from there. Marshall Holmes (17 points) and Justin Grey (15) took on the bulk of the scoring and helped the Bucs go up by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter.

    For Boca Ciega, the deficit had grown large and time was running out.

    In those final minutes, the Pirates had to find some formula, some strategy in which to regroup. Boca Ciega's unbeaten record and its pursuit of respect against one of the best teams in Hillsborough County was in the balance.

    The Pirates turned to Dallas Moore and Michael Clark to ignite a rally. Both slashed to the basket for layups as they chipped away at the deficit.

    With 28 seconds remaining, Boca Ciega trailed 73-65. Moore darted to the basket for a layup. The Pirates got a steal on the next possession, and Caleb McCullough stepped back to hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to make it 73-70.

    Boca Ciega got another steal, and Moore heaved a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining — that clanked off the rim.

    Grey got the rebound, was fouled and hit his two free throws to seal the game.

    Moore led all scorers with 25 points, including three 3-pointers. Clark added 19.

    "Our kids showed great effort to come back," Pirates coach Randy Shuman said.

    "We just didn't execute when we needed to."

    Other first-round games: Armin Tabacovic scored 17 points and Rasim Avmet 16 to lead host Clearwater over Alonso 68-46. The Ravens were led by Greg Robinson, who scored 14. … Strawberry Crest broke open a close game by outscoring Mitchell 18-10 in the third quarter to earn a 59-51 win. Devin Diggs (14 points) and Malik Channer (13) led the Chargers. … Gainesville kept Nature Coast at bay throughout for a 49-45 win.

    Times staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.

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    Times wires
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State named Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt its defensive coordinator on Thursday and also named former Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri its defensive ends coach.

    Pruitt, 38, will be the third defensive coordinator at FSU in the past 28 years, following Mark Stoops, who left to become Kentucky's head coach, and Mickey Andrews.

    Pruitt has been on Nick Saban's staff for three years. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher was Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU.

    Under Pruitt, who is known as an effective recruiter, the Tide ranked in the top 15 in pass defense the past three seasons.

    Pruitt will spend the next two weeks helping prepare the Crimson Tide for the Jan. 7 BCS title game against Notre Dame.

    Pruitt and Sunseri will officially begin their FSU duties Jan. 5. Sunseri was fired last month after a year as Vols defensive coordinator.

    FSU plays Northern Illinois in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl.

    "This is a great opportunity for me to join another one of the top college football programs in the country and take over as defensive coordinator for one of the best defenses out there," said Pruitt, who will make slightly more than $542,000 annually.

    USF adds two from Taggart's WKU staff

    TAMPA — USF hired assistant coaches Walt Wells and Nick Sheridan, who were members of new Bulls coach Willie Taggart's staff at Western Kentucky.

    Wells will serve as offensive coordinator and coach the offensive line. Sheridan, whose father, Bill, is the Bucs' defensive coordinator, will handle quarterbacks and serve as passing-game coordinator.

    Wells played offensive line for Austin Peay from 1986-89. Sheridan was a walk-on at Michigan in 2006 and earned a scholarship before his junior season, playing quarterback.

    "Walt Wells and Nick Sheridan are great teachers and great mentors," Taggart said. "Both played a critical role in building the foundation at WKU."

    BYU pulls away late: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy forced a fumble in the end zone and recovered it for a touchdown, and scored on a 17-yard interception return, both in the fourth quarter, to lead BYU to a 23-6 victory over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

    The big plays swung the momentum for the Cougars (8-5) in what had been a defensive struggle. San Diego State (9-4) missed a chance for its first 10-win season since 1977.

    Van Noy hit Adam Dingwell's arm in the end zone, forcing and recovering a fumble for a 10-6 lead. Dingwell fumbled the snap on SDSU's next play and defensive back Jordan Johnson recovered at the 14. Jamaal Williams scored on a run up the middle on the next play. Dingwell finished with five turnovers, including three interceptions. Four of his turnovers were in the fourth quarter.

    North carolina SCANDAL: An investigation of academic fraud at North Carolina found the problems were confined to wrongdoing by former African studies department chairman Julius Nyang'oro and administrator Deborah Crowder and didn't involve other faculty or members of the athletic department. The report also found that the problems go back to 1997, earlier than previously uncovered. The investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin said the Department of African and Afro-American Studies remained at the heart of the scandal. Jon Sasser, a lawyer for fired coach Butch Davis, said the report cleared his reputation.

    Bray leaving vols? Starting quarterback Tyler Bray is leaving Tennessee early for the NFL, CBS Sports reported. The 6-6, 220-pounder had 69 touchdown passes and 28 interceptions in his career.

    ALABAMA: Linebacker C.J. Mosley said he will return for his senior season.

    Auburn: Rodney Garner, the longtime recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach at Georgia, has accepted a position as assistant head coach and defensive line coach with the Tigers, where he played in the late '80s.

    LSU: Punter Brad Wing was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules.

    Penn State: Junior college quarterback Tyler Ferguson signed a letter of intent and is expected to compete for the starting job with Steven Bench, the only other scholarship QB.

    UCLA: Receiver Devin Lucien will return in the Holiday Bowl after breaking his collarbone Sept. 29.

    Utah state: Offensive coordinator Matt Wells was promoted to head coach. He replaces Gary Andersen, who was officially hired by Wisconsin on Thursday.

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    Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    CLEARWATER — After playing away from the basket for much of the first half, Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart wanted his players to move closer.

    On defense, he wanted his small guys with quick feet to cut off driving lanes. On offense, he wanted his players to bulldoze toward easy, inside shots.

    It all worked to perfection.

    The Buccaneers kept their perfect record intact with a solid third quarter, scoring 27 points and getting Boca Ciega into foul trouble, for a 75-70 victory in the first round of the Brighthouse Tournament.

    "That first half, we were taking too many outside shots," Reinhart said. "We need to pick up our intensity on defense and play near the rim."

    By staying aggressive inside, Berkeley Prep (11-0) was able to draw fouls. The Pirates (9-1) committed 10 of them in the third quarter, which sent the Buccaneers into the double-bonus.

    That resulted in plenty of trips to the free-throw line for Berkeley Prep, which scored 19 from there. Marshall Holmes (17 points) and Justin Grey (15) took on the bulk of the scoring and helped the Buccaneers go up by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter.

    For Boca Ciega, the deficit had grown large and time was running out.

    In those final minutes, the Pirates had to find some formula, some strategy in which to regroup. Boca Ciega's unbeaten record and its pursuit of respect against one of the best teams in Hillsborough County was in the balance.

    The Pirates turned to Dallas Moore and Michael Clark to ignite a rally. Both slashed to the basket for layups as they chipped away at the deficit.

    With 28 seconds remaining, Boca Ciega trailed 73-65. Moore darted to the basket for a layup. The Pirates got a steal on the next possession, and Caleb McCullough stepped back to hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to make it 73-70.

    Boca Ciega got another steal, and Moore heaved a potential game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds remaining — that clanked off the rim.

    Grey got the rebound, was fouled and hit his two free throws to seal the game.

    Moore led all scorers with 25 points, including three 3-pointers. Clark added 19.

    "Our kids showed great effort to come back," Pirates coach Randy Shuman said.

    "We just didn't execute when we needed to."

    Other games

    Clearwater 68, Alonso 46: The host Tornadoes bounced back from a loss to Seminole with a convincing win. Focused on taking care of the basketball, Clearwater committed few turnovers and relied on the scoring of Armin Tabacovic (17 points) and Rasim Avmet (16). The Ravens were led by Greg Robinson, who scored a team-high 14.

    Strawberry Crest 59, Mitchell 51: Using a balanced attack, the Chargers broke open a close game by outscoring the Mustangs 18-10 in the third quarter. Devin Diggs (14 points) and Malik Channer (13) were the top scorers for Strawberry Crest. Ryan Doherty scored 15 for Mitchell.

    Gainesville 49, Nature Coast 45: The Sharks stayed within striking distance throughout the fourth quarter but had trouble getting it down to a one-possession game. Vic Davila and Carlos Clemente each scored 11 for Nature Coast.

    Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@tampabay.com.

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    TAMPA — Donald Penn loves to play basketball, and he loves to catch his opponents off guard.

    At 6 feet 5, 340 pounds, he knows the expectation is for him to be more potential energy than kinetic, more mountain than rushing river. That is why, the Bucs offensive tackle said, "I love going to the hole."

    "My best move is to go around somebody," he added. "My first step is really fast."

    And, as it turns out, a huge advantage on a football field.

    "I don't think I'd be as good of an athlete if it wasn't for basketball," Penn said. "I don't think I'd be as good of a left tackle."

    And Penn has been good this season, re-establishing himself as a reliable presence on a line devastated by injuries to Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph while erasing memories of 2011, when, coming off a Pro Bowl season, he battled inconsistency and constant concerns about his weight.

    Good thing because as a left tackle, Penn defends quarterback Josh Freeman's blind side and faces the best pass rushers the opposition has to offer.

    That includes Sunday, when Penn, 29, in his seventh season out of Utah State, lines up against Rams defensive ends Robert Quinn, who has 9½ sacks and 23 quarterback pressures, and Chris Long, who has 7½ sacks and 40 pressures.

    "Donald has been great this year," Freeman said. "You can see that he had renewed focus. He came in and not only was he mentally locked in, physically, the way he stepped up this year has been huge. When you can drop back and not be worried about your blind side, it's a load off your shoulders."

    "It was real tough last year," Penn said Friday at One Buc Place. "It seemed like everybody was having their moments, and I had more moments than I was used to. I tried to make sure I fixed that this year, and I think I've done a good job of it."

    Given his position, Penn is a major reason the Bucs have allowed just 21 sacks, tied with the Broncos for third-fewest in the league. And Penn has had his best games against some of the best competition.

    Atlanta's John Abraham, with 10 sacks this season, had zero and just one tackle against the Bucs. In two games against Tampa Bay, Carolina's Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, with 21½ sacks between them, had a combined half -sack.

    Minnesota's Jared Allen got one, but that might have been because Penn lost a bit of focus after the two scrapped on the previous play.

    "I do put in a little extra film work when I know I have one of those top guys coming in," Penn said. "But I'll tell you one thing, when somebody gets a sack on me I don't forget about it. I can't wait to play them again and shut them out next time."

    Penn has been durable, too, and against the Rams will make his 91st consecutive start, something he admitted has "a tremendous amount to do with luck."

    Even so, "I'm proud of that," he said. "It's something I'm blessed with."

    Like his quick feet, which served him well as an all-state basketball player at St. Bernard High in Playa Del Rey, Calif.

    "I think basketball made it easier for me to convert to football," Penn said. "Being an O-lineman, your feet are not supposed to come together. Playing basketball, when you play defense, your feet are not supposed to come together, so there was carryover."

    Penn said he still plays at least three times a week in the offseason with two friends back home.

    Can he dunk?

    "I was able to," he said. "I don't know if I can anymore."

    Not that it matters against the Rams.

    "For us, it's find a way to win this weekend," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "Donald Penn is going to be a huge part of that."

    Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

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  • 12/21/12--15:06: NFL playoff glance
  • Times staff
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Playoff glance


    Team/Div. Rec. Div. Cnf.

    x Falcons-S 13-2 3-2 9-2

    z 49ers-W 10-3-1 2-1-1 6-3-1

    y Packers-N 10-4 5-0 8-3

    Redskins-E 8-6 3-1 6-4

    Wild card

    Seahawks 9-5 1-3 6-4

    Vikings 8-6 3-2 6-5

    In the hunt

    Bears 8-6 2-3 5-5

    Cowboys 8-6 3-2 5-5

    Giants 8-6 2-3 7-4

    Remaining schedules

    Falcons: vs. Bucs

    49ers: at Seahawks, vs. Cardinals

    Packers: vs. Titans, at Vikings

    Redskins: at Eagles, vs. Cowboys

    Seahawks: vs. 49ers, vs. Rams

    Vikings: at Texans, vs. Packers

    Bears: at Cardinals, at Lions

    Cowboys: vs. Saints, at Redskins

    Giants: at Ravens, vs. Eagles


    Team/Div. Rec. Div. Cnf.

    y Texans-S 12-2 5-0 10-1

    y Broncos-W 11-3 5-0 8-2

    y Patriots-E 10-4 5-0 9-1

    z Ravens-N 9-5 4-1 8-3

    Wild card

    Colts 9-5 3-2 6-4

    Bengals 8-6 1-3 5-5

    In the hunt

    Steelers 7-7 2-2 4-6

    Remaining schedules

    Texans: vs. Vikings, at Colts

    Broncos: vs. Browns, vs. Chiefs

    Patriots: at Jaguars, vs. Dolphins

    Ravens: vs. Giants, at Bengals

    Colts: at Chiefs, vs. Texans

    Bengals: at Steelers, vs. Ravens

    Steelers: vs. Bengals, vs. Browns

    x—clinched homefield advantage

    y—clinched division

    z—clinched playoffs

    Clinching scenarios


    • NFC West: win

    • First-round bye: win AND Packers loss

    Redskins: Playoff berth: win AND losses by the Giants, Bears and Vikings

    Seahawks: Playoff berth: win OR losses by the Bears, Vikings and Redskins

    Giants: Playoff berth: win AND losses by the Bears, Vikings, Cowboys and Redskins


    • First-round bye: win OR Patriots loss or Broncos loss

    • Top seed: win OR losses by the Patriots AND Broncos

    Broncos: First-round bye: win AND Patriots loss

    Ravens: AFC North: win

    Colts: Playoff berth: win OR clinch strength of victory tiebreaker over Bengals OR Steelers loss

    Bengals: Playoff berth: win

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    By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012


    Bucs QB Josh Freeman came under a lot of pressure last week — not from the Saints, but from fans wanting to toss him overboard after his four-interception, one-fumble performance in the 41-0 loss.

    It's hard to argue against Freeman's past three games not being among his best. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes (a combined 32-of-73, 43.8 percent) in losses to Denver and Philadelphia before his five-turnover game against New Orleans (26-of-47, 55.3 percent).

    Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said if you take a step back from the most recent games and judge Freeman on his body of work this season, it's pretty good.

    He has thrown 25 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions while watching the defense blow fourth-quarter leads in four games.

    Love him or loathe him, Freeman doesn't seem like a quarterback who is leaving. He has one more year on his contract, and the Bucs have the option of slapping the franchise player tag on him if they can't sign him to an extension.

    "He's a really good deep ball thrower. That's No. 1," Sullivan said. "We have really good deep ball receivers. From there, there are a lot of things (responsible for Freeman's struggles). Why isn't the intermediate game better? It needs to get better. … It's never one thing. It's partial scheme. It's partial people. It's partial not having enough time doing it yet. But at the end of the day, it's not one thing.

    "Anything you build, my experience has been that over a long period of time, you get it all of a sudden. Some things may not be working, and all of a sudden it's going to click. … I believe we're going to get it in the intermediate game because we've done some really good things."

    If you compare Freeman with the other quarterbacks drafted since 2002 after their first three full seasons as a starter, he measures up pretty well. Freeman ranks eighth with a passer rating of 84.8. That's better than Drew Brees (83.0) and Matthew Stafford (82.6 entering Saturday's game against the Falcons).

    It's also important to note Freeman became the full-time starter at 22; only Stafford (21) and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger (22) were as young or younger when they got their jobs. He also has more touchdown passes in that three-year window (66) than the Ravens' Joe Flacco (60) and Roethlisberger (50) had, and has fewer interceptions (40) than Roethlisberger (41) and Carson Palmer (43) had.

    Freeman has a lot of improving to do, especially in hitting short to intermediate passes, and his completion percentage is not NFL-worthy. But right now he is keeping pace with some of the better quarterbacks in the game.

    NOT GETTING HOME: Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan likes to dial up blitzes and pressure packages, but seldom have they produced results. The Bucs are tied for 28th in the league in sacks with 25. LB Lavonte David has one sack. LB Mason Foster has two.

    "We're not where we want to be, certainly, with our pressure and our pressure packages," coach Greg Schiano said. "We need to be more precise when we do blitz, and we need to be more effective when we go with a four- or three-man rush. That's part of our growth.

    "I coached the secondary for a long time before I was a head coach. Some of those years we were really good in the secondary, and some we weren't really good. But we had a great group rushing the passer, and he was throwing out of a well. And we made a lot of plays that a lot of guys could've made."

    What will it take to make the Bucs' pressure packages work?

    "Understanding protections, No. 1," Schiano said. "But that's kind of built into the blitz and the disguise of the blitz. And being able to defeat blockers. We need to be more precise. Hopefully, we will be (today) when we do pressure, when we bring more than four."

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    Times Staff
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    The poll

    Does Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, whose original five-year, $26 million contract expires after the 2013 season, deserve an extension?

    Yes, but it can wait: 43 percent

    No: 35 percent

    Yes, the sooner the better: 22 percent

    Total: 837 votes

    Inside the numbers

    8-11 Bucs' record against the Rams, including 0-2 in the playoffs and 6-1 over the teams' past seven meetings

    51 Rushing yards Doug Martin needs to pass James Wilder (1,300 in 1985) for second most in franchise history

    377 Passing yards for the Rams' Sam Bradford last week against the Vikings, a career high

    92 Rushing yards the Rams' Steven Jackson needs to surpass 1,000 for a franchise-record eighth consecutive season

    60.8 Passer rating for the Bucs' Josh Freeman over the past three games compared with 94.3 for the first 11

    What they're saying

    Josh Freeman is so scattershot. You don't know what you are getting throw to throw much less quarter to quarter. Sam Bradford has a great arm but makes a lot of curious decisions.

    Gregg Rosenthal nfl.com

    The Buccaneers play a lot of man-to-man defense. Their corners are vulnerable and can be attacked. The Bucs have allowed 27 touchdown passes. Only two NFL teams have given up more. The secondary has been scorched for 35 pass plays of 25-plus yards. Only two defenses have allowed more. The Rams' receivers should be able to exploit the man coverage. The offensive line should provide reliable protection. And QB Sam Bradford should be able to make plays.

    Bernie Miklasz St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    The picks

    Greg Schiano can look at the team he almost coached (he was the Rams' bridesmaid to Jeff Fisher) and the one he's coaching. Not sure he'll like what he sees because the Bucs are slumping badly, but good programs can't be built in one year. Rams, 17-16.

    Peter King Sports Illustrated

    These two were eliminated last week, so where's the motivation? Did the Bucs quit on Greg Schiano last week? You know Jeff Fisher's team will be ready to go. But I think Tampa Bay bounces back at home. It's tough going on the road late with nothing at stake. Bucs, 24-17.

    Pete Prisco cbssports.com

    Since it's potentially cornerback Ronde Barber's final home game of his career, look for the Bucs to find a way to turn things around against a Rams team that saw its unlikely postseason run slam to a halt in Week 15. Bucs, 28-17.

    Mike Florio profootballtalk.com

    Bucs have stunk lately but have the run defense to limit Steven Jackson. Bucs, 21-17.

    Greg Cote Miami Herald

    Bucs vs. Rams

    1 p.m., Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

    Radio: 620-AM, 103.5-FM

    Line, over/under: Bucs by 3, 43½

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    You dealt with a lot of transition early in your life. You were born in American Samoa and then moved to Washington state as a child. Do you remember that shift?

    Yeah, I remember learning how to speak English and just learning how the mainland is so much different than living on a little, tiny island. And I remember how much colder it was. The culture was probably the biggest thing, not having any other Samoan people around and not being able to explain to other people where (American Samoa) was.

    A few years later, your father passed away. How old were you then, and what are your fondest memories of him?

    That's when I was 12. My fondest memories are that he just made it to all my baseball or basketball games, everything I did. He worked a lot of overtime to make sure he could come. That was really cool. He was a really cool dad. I always talked about how my grandpa was really into his job and how he never came to any of (Te'o-Nesheim's father's events). So he was really the total opposite.

    I believe he was a painter of some kind, and he painted something at the University of Washington (where Daniel went to college). What's the story behind that?

    Yes. He helped paint Husky Stadium when we first moved there. But mostly, he painted bridges. He was crazy. He used to have to sandblast all the paint off the bridges, and you're hanging hundreds of feet in the air. Sometimes he'd go to work and he'd be the one that would discover dead bodies (below). It's a nut's job.

    Is it true that you changed your last name? And why?

    I did. I used to just be Nes­heim. But my mom wanted people to know I'm Samoan. So she added her (maiden) name, too, when I started playing high school football.

    How many of your teammates know how to pronounce your name? (It's tuh-OH-NESS-ime.)

    None. Zero.

    You later moved back to Samoa, and then you went to high school in Hawaii. So where do you consider home?

    Right now Hawaii. When I was in high school, it was hard to decide where home was. Boarding school kind of becomes your home.

    How did all these experiences shape you?

    I think it made me independent. I probably don't call home as much as I should. I'm pretty on my own, and I've been like that since I was in eighth grade. I always did my own laundry and took care of myself. Some people probably don't prefer that, but I kind of like it that way. And in the NFL, where people get cut all the time, maybe that's good.

    These are my weekly questions: What's playing most on your iPod right now?

    (Laughs) It's a band called Panty Raid. They do dubstep, electronic music. Also (singer) Calvin Harris.

    What website do you visit the most?

    I listen to this dance music station back in Seattle, and the only way I can listen down here is to stream the website online. So I'm always doing that.

    Finally, what reality show do you watch most regularly?

    Actually, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

    You do not watch that.

    Yeah, I do. It's kind of amazing how famous they've all gotten from that show.

    I read that you majored in visual arts in college. Does art appeal to you?

    Oh, yeah. I took a lot of sculpture classes. Nowadays I draw a lot. I wouldn't say I'm a sculptor. I did like that we learned how to weld. I hear that's a good way to make money. Maybe I'll become a welder.

    You competed in track and field (in the shot put) at Washington in addition to football. Are there any parallels?

    Not at all. In shot put, it's just you and the ring. In football, so many things have to go right for a team to win. I think I just did it to kill time. We got done with our football (offseason work) by 9 o'clock in the morning. So I had a lot of time to kill.

    Well, you must have been pretty good to compete in the Pac-10 conference, right?

    I mean, technically I competed. But I wouldn't say I was a big name in the shot put world. Sometimes I wish I would've just said no to (competing) in the Pac-10 championships. But that free trip to California, I guess I just couldn't resist.


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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Projected starters



    WR: Vincent Jackson

    LT: Donald Penn

    LG: Jeremy Zuttah

    C: Ted Larsen

    RG: Jamon Meredith

    RT: Demar Dotson

    TE: Dallas Clark

    WR: Mike Williams

    QB: Josh Freeman

    RB: Doug Martin

    FB: Erik Lorig


    LDE: Michael Bennett

    DT: Gerald McCoy

    DT: Roy Miller

    RDE: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

    SLB: Adam Hayward

    MLB: Mason Foster

    WLB: Lavonte David

    CB: E.J. Biggers

    CB: Leonard Johnson

    SS: Mark Barron

    FS: Ronde Barber

    special teams

    PR: Roscoe Parrish

    KR: Tiquan Underwood

    PK: Connor Barth

    P/KO: Michael Koenen



    WR: Brandon Gibson

    LT: Rodger Saffold

    LG: Robert Turner

    C: Scott Wells

    RG: Harvey Dahl

    RT: Barry Richardson

    TE: Lance Kendricks

    WR: Chris Givens

    WR: Danny Amendola

    QB: Sam Bradford

    RB: Steven Jackson


    LDE: Chris Long

    DT: Kendall Langford

    DT: Michael Brockers

    RDE: Robert Quinn

    SLB: Mario Haggan

    MLB: James Laurinaitis

    WLB: Jo-Lonn Dunbar

    CB: Cortland Finnegan

    CB: Janoris Jenkins

    SS: Craig Dahl

    FS: Quintin Mikell

    special teams

    PR: Danny Amendola

    KR: Chris Givens

    PK/KO: Greg Zuerlein

    P: Johnny Hekker

    Injury report

    BUCS Doubtful: DE Aaron Morgan (shoulder). Questionable: CB LeQuan Lewis (knee). Probable: DE Michael Bennett (shoulder), DE Da'Quan Bowers (hamstring), LB Lavonte David (knee), TE Luke Stocker (head, nose), WR Mike Williams (wrist).

    RAMS Questionable: CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh). Probable: CB Bradley Fletcher (illness), RB Steven Jackson (illness), LB James Laurinaitis (back), DE Robert Quinn (illness), C Scott Wells (knee)


    Bucs 24, Rams 23

    The Bucs have lost four straight because of subpar quarterbacking from Josh Freeman and an inability to get stops on defense. The Rams are coming off a 36-22 loss to the Vikings in which they were overwhelmed by running back Adrian Peterson. Before that, however, they had won three straight.

    Rams' top offensive player

    Steven Jackson, right, just became the 27th player to surpass 10,000 career rushing yards. At 6 feet 2, 236 pounds, he's a load to bring down in the open field.

    Rams' top defensive player

    Linebacker James Laurinaitis, left, is the only NFC player with at least 8½ sacks and six interceptions in each season since 2009. His 153 tackles this season lead St. Louis.

    What the Rams do best

    Defend the pass. The rush of ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long and the secondary play of corners Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan (questionable with a thigh injury) have helped the Rams allow only 14 passing touchdowns, fourth in the NFL.

    How you beat the Rams

    Stopping running back Steven Jackson on early downs is key. That puts the game in the hands of quarterback Sam Bradford and a passing game not prone to huge plays.

    The Bucs must avoid …

    Turnovers hurt the Bucs in New Orleans last week. They committed too many (five) and didn't produce any. That has been a trend of late, reversing a huge turnover advantage earlier in the season.

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    By Brent Gaskill, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    What's hot: Mangrove snapper fishing has been very good recently inside the bay. Scattered rock piles and high-relief edges of the shipping channel have been holding fish. Fast-moving tides can make bottom fishing along the channel difficult, so target periods of slower water movement at the beginning and end of the tide.

    Bait choice: Live shrimp have produced consistent catches. Pinching off the last section of the tail puts more scent in the water and helps draw the snapper in. Threading the hook inside the shrimp's tail hides the hook from the snapper's keen eyesight, resulting in more bites.

    Rigging: Knocker rigs are simple and work well for snapper. Make your rig up by allowing an egg sinker to slide on the leader and rest directly on the eye of the hook. Use as little weight as possible to reach the bottom and a size 1 or 1/0 circle hook.

    Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at captbrent@summervacationcharters.com and (727) 510-1009.

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    By Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    ST. PETERSBURG — Along the sidewalks and past the clamor of the crowds donning mostly black and gold that spilled out of Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill, across the asphalt plane and in the shadow of the illuminated white dome of Tropicana Field, the most dedicated of fans braved the evening chill.

    Some huddled under tents. Some gathered near flaming barbecue grills. Others stood with arms exposed in their college T-shirts sipping beers and embracing the cold breeze that greeted attendees Friday night at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.

    It might have been the cold — it was a seasonable 56 degrees early in the evening, with temperatures expected to drop into the 40s — that tamed the tailgaters as they prepared for the face-off between the University of Central Florida Knights and the Ball State Cardinals. Or maybe these were teams with too much pride to arouse the ruckus seen at some other bowl games.

    Still, the revelers rejoiced.

    Under a high-flying flag bearing the Ball State logo, Tom Schuman joined his fellow alumni for a pre-game reunion in Lot 6 outside the Trop. For Schuman, 50, the Bowl coincided almost perfectly with a family vacation he already had planned, starting with a cruise leaving Sunday out of Tampa.

    "We came down early because of the bowl game," said Schuman, who lives in Indianapolis, and who met his wife at his alma mater. "It's been a really good year for Ball State and I think it's going to be a good bowl. I'm hoping this is the first bowl game that they win."

    Though they were one of the few splashes of Cardinal red in a lot dominated by UCF Knights fans, the Ball Staters mirrored their fellow alums at watch parties across the country, said Matt Smith, president of the Ball State alumni chapter for Washington, D.C.

    "I was drawn here because I couldn't miss it," Smith said. "Everybody's excited. They'll see the Ball State flag and come by and say 'hi.'"

    Across the lot, standing alongside a tent tagged with a Knights logo, Andy Graber, 29, hurled beanbags in a solo game of corn toss while donning a UCF skull cap and long-sleeved shirt.

    "I inherited my fandom," Graber said, referring to his girlfriend, Lisa Zittel, a 2007 UCF alum. "She gets me to watch all the games."

    Zittel, 28, and a group of her fellow alums, including UCF nursing professor Christopher Blackwell, hold season tickets to Knights games. A lot of the time, that means driving across the state, and trekking across the college campus, to watch the game. But the Bowl game was close enough that Zittel walked from her nursing job in St. Petersburg.

    "I've been to three bowl games and haven't seen a win yet," Zittel said. "Hopefully this will be it."

    Not far away, at another Ball State encampment, the pre-game celebration was a family affair for the Ginn's of West Harrison, Ind. Dan and Debbie Ginn made the 16-hour trip south, with daughters Amber and Becca, to support their eldest daughter, Leah, a Ball State student and athletic trainer for the team.

    In St. Petersburg, they met up with Dan's cousins, both local.

    "We're here because of Leah," Debbie said. "But we're proud of the team."

    0 0

    By Joel Anderson, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, December 21, 2012

    TAMPA — Freedom senior defensive back Nate Godwin, who committed to Minnesota in October, announced Friday that he received a scholarship offer from USF.

    "Coach (Willie) Taggart from #USF just offered me a scholarship! 2nd offer from USF!" Godwin said via his Twitter account.

    Godwin, ranked No. 40 in the Tampa Bay Times' HomeTeam 100, had 47 tackles, five passes defensed, two interceptions and three touchdowns for the Patriots (3-7) this fall.

    "Very excited about my 2nd offer from my hometown school," Godwin said via text message Friday night. "Makes me happy the new coach is interested. Taggart is a good guy."

    At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Godwin was a consensus three-star recruit who also had offers from West Virginia, Iowa State and Alabama-Birmingham, among others. He had been offered a scholarship by USF's previous coaching staff and from Taggart while he was at Western Kentucky.

    Godwin, who lists himself as a "Minnesota DB commit" in his Twitter biography, has been coy about his pledge to the Golden Gophers in the week since Taggart was hired at USF. The day after Taggart was announced as USF's new coach, Godwin cryptically wrote "decisions, decisions" on his Twitter account.

    He went on his official visit to Minnesota earlier this month, saying, "I was freezing on my #minnesota visit" and then posted a picture of himself in a Golden Gophers jacket and winter cap.

    Current USF commitments have been pressuring Godwin to reconsider USF, including Tampa Catholic receiver Zach Benjamin, who told Godwin to "join the fam" on his Twitter account.

    Taggart currently has a class of 16 commitmets, including Benjamin, Plant's Mitchell Wright, Robinson's Bruce Hector and Conner Rafferty, and Jesuit's Robert Garcia and Cameron Ruff.

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