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Articles on this Page
- 01/15/13--20:25: _Knicks go long way ...
- 01/15/13--20:31: _Badgers beat Hoosie...
- 01/16/13--09:08: _Steinbrenner goalke...
- 01/16/13--13:41: _Lou Piniella to joi...
- 01/16/13--13:55: _Bucs face a cornerb...
- 01/16/13--13:56: _Plant City boys soc...
- 01/16/13--13:57: _First-time winners ...
- 01/16/13--14:27: _Former Riverview st...
- 01/16/13--14:54: _Tim Tebow faces unc...
- 01/16/13--15:31: _Tom Jones' Two Cent...
- 01/16/13--15:55: _Focus on football t...
- 01/16/13--16:30: _Captain's Corner: S...
- 01/16/13--17:35: _Golf on TV
- 01/16/13--17:39: _Brady has struggled...
- 01/16/13--18:07: _College basketball ...
- 01/16/13--18:07: _College basketball ...
- 01/16/13--18:17: _Aztecs latest to ab...
- 01/16/13--18:48: _Derek Jeter says he...
- 01/16/13--19:08: _Sports in brief
- 01/16/13--19:18: _Lightning hopes to ...
- 01/15/13--20:25: Knicks go long way for game, rest
- 01/15/13--20:31: Badgers beat Hoosiers again
- 01/16/13--09:08: Steinbrenner goalkeeper moves beyond expectations
- 01/16/13--13:41: Lou Piniella to join Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame
- 01/16/13--13:55: Bucs face a cornerback conundrum
- 01/16/13--13:56: Plant City boys soccer aims for return to playoffs
- 01/16/13--13:57: First-time winners earn junior tennis titles in Brooksville
- 01/16/13--14:27: Former Riverview standout returns for East-West Shrine game
- 01/16/13--14:54: Tim Tebow faces uncertain NFL feature
- 01/16/13--15:31: Tom Jones' Two Cents: More NFL teams taking risks with head coaches
- 01/16/13--15:55: Focus on football the right move for Pasco High alum Josh Johnson
- 01/16/13--16:30: Captain's Corner: Shallow-water reef fish can fill in the gaps
- 01/16/13--17:35: Golf on TV
- 01/16/13--17:39: Brady has struggled when facing Baltimore
- 01/16/13--18:07: College basketball preview: USF Bulls at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- 01/16/13--18:17: Aztecs latest to abandon Big East
- 01/16/13--18:48: Derek Jeter says he's on schedule in recovery from left ankle injury
- 01/16/13--19:08: Sports in brief
- 01/16/13--19:18: Lightning hopes to improve power play
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
NEW YORK — The injury-plagued Knicks welcome a week with just one game. The only catch is they had to travel to London for it.
That's fine with the Knicks, who were focused more on the time off than the time change before going overseas for their game against the Detroit Pistons.
The Knicks left Monday night and the game isn't until Thursday. They return home Friday and don't play again until next Monday, getting some coveted recovery time near the midpoint of their season.
"I think the NBA did a great job with the way they scheduled it, getting us over there three days early, give us a chance to get acclimated to London, and then coming back having some days off as well," Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony said.
Anthony and Knicks center Tyson Chandler will be back on the O2 Arena floor, where they won gold with the U.S. men's Olympic team.
Though the sport lags well behind soccer and perhaps a few others in popularity in Britain, the NBA is serious about its overseas plans.
"We understand, I think just if you're going to pick little things that (commissioner) David Stern has said about the future of the NBA and the future of basketball, it'd be hard to think that the NBA at some point won't expand overseas," Knicks forward Steve Novak said.
GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Jamal Crawford scored a season-high 30, including 12 straight to start the fourth quarter, as the visiting Clippers beat the Rockets 117-109 despite missing star point guard Chris Paul (bruised right kneecap). … Brook Lopez had 22 points and Joe Johnson and Deron Williams each scored 21 as the host Nets extended their season-high winning streak to seven, 113-106 over the Raptors. … Wilson Chandler hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left in overtime as the Nuggets beat the visiting Trail Blazers 115-111.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said he has been assured he will get to present the Board of Governors with a counter offer to a proposed deal that could move the team to Seattle, the Seattle Times reported. Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, said he is continuing to develop a plan to keep the team where it has played since 1985. … Minnesota's Kevin Love is expected to return in March after surgery on his broken right hand.
Clippers 117, Rockets 109
L.A. CLIPPERS (117): Butler 0-1 1-1 1, Griffin 7-13 5-5 19, Jordan 4-6 1-2 9, Bledsoe 7-12 4-4 19, Green 5-6 3-3 15, Barnes 6-14 3-4 18, Odom 1-4 0-0 2, Crawford 11-20 3-3 30, Hill 1-2 2-4 4, Turiaf 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-78 22-26 117.
HOUSTON (109): Parsons 7-10 1-2 17, Patterson 2-5 0-0 5, Asik 3-6 1-3 7, Lin 5-11 1-2 12, Harden 8-20 5-6 23, Morris 4-9 1-4 12, Smith 3-3 0-0 6, Douglas 3-6 0-2 7, Delfino 5-10 4-4 16, Motiejunas 0-1 1-2 1, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Beverley 1-1 0-0 3, Aldrich 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 41-82 14-25 109.
L.A. Clippers 28 30 32 27— 117
Houston 29 30 18 32— 109
3-Point Goals—L.A. Clippers 11-19 (Crawford 5-7, Barnes 3-6, Green 2-3, Bledsoe 1-1, Butler 0-1, Odom 0-1), Houston 13-37 (Morris 3-6, Parsons 2-4, Delfino 2-7, Harden 2-9, Beverley 1-1, Douglas 1-2, Patterson 1-3, Lin 1-4, Motiejunas 0-1). Rebounds—L.A. Clippers 44 (Odom 11), Houston 48 (Asik 9). Assists—L.A. Clippers 21 (Griffin 8), Houston 25 (Lin 10). Total Fouls—L.A. Clippers 21, Houston 23. Technicals—L.A. Clippers Coach Del Negro, Griffin, Odom, L.A. Clippers defensive three second, Houston defensive three second. A—16,823 (18,023).
Nets 113, Raptors 106
TORONTO (106): Fields 4-6 0-0 8, Davis 6-10 0-0 12, Gray 2-5 2-2 6, Calderon 6-11 0-0 15, DeRozan 5-15 2-2 12, A.Johnson 6-7 3-6 15, Anderson 0-4 2-3 2, Lowry 5-7 7-7 21, Ross 2-9 0-0 4, Acy 2-2 2-2 6, Lucas 2-6 1-1 5. Totals 40-82 19-23 106.
BROOKLYN (113): Bogans 3-5 0-0 7, Evans 1-3 0-0 2, Lopez 6-12 10-10 22, Williams 6-13 8-8 21, J.Johnson 9-18 1-1 21, Blatche 7-10 0-0 14, Stackhouse 0-1 0-0 0, Humphries 0-1 0-0 0, Brooks 3-5 1-3 7, Watson 2-5 4-4 9, Teletovic 3-8 1-2 10, James 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-81 25-28 113.
Toronto 27 23 26 30— 106
Brooklyn 27 27 29 30— 113
3-Point Goals—Toronto 7-13 (Lowry 4-5, Calderon 3-4, Anderson 0-1, Ross 0-3), Brooklyn 8-21 (Teletovic 3-6, J.Johnson 2-5, Watson 1-1, Bogans 1-3, Williams 1-5, Stackhouse 0-1). Rebounds—Toronto 50 (Fields 11), Brooklyn 40 (Lopez 9). Assists—Toronto 21 (Calderon, Fields 5), Brooklyn 22 (Williams 7). Total Fouls—Toronto 21, Brooklyn 21. A—16,236 (17,732).
Hornets 111, 76ers 99
NEW ORLEANS (111): Aminu 2-4 1-2 5, Davis 4-6 2-3 10, Lopez 4-9 0-0 8, Vasquez 10-18 0-1 23, Gordon 7-13 3-4 19, Henry 4-7 2-2 11, Mason 3-4 0-0 7, Anderson 5-11 2-2 14, Smith 3-7 0-0 6, Rivers 0-1 1-2 1, Roberts 2-3 2-2 7. Totals 44-83 13-18 111.
PHILADELPHIA (99): Turner 5-12 3-4 14, T.Young 6-18 0-1 12, Allen 4-5 0-0 8, Holiday 10-17 5-5 29, Richardson 2-5 0-0 5, Hawes 2-6 0-0 5, Ivey 1-1 0-0 3, Wilkins 1-3 0-0 2, Wright 2-6 2-2 7, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, N.Young 6-9 0-1 14. Totals 39-82 10-13 99.
New Orleans 35 18 33 25— 111
Philadelphia 28 19 21 31— 99
3-Point Goals—New Orleans 10-18 (Vasquez 3-4, Gordon 2-3, Anderson 2-6, Mason 1-1, Roberts 1-2, Henry 1-2), Philadelphia 11-21 (Holiday 4-5, N.Young 2-4, Ivey 1-1, Hawes 1-2, Turner 1-2, Richardson 1-3, Wright 1-4). Rebounds—New Orleans 54 (Anderson 9), Philadelphia 36 (Turner 7). Assists—New Orleans 22 (Vasquez 9), Philadelphia 28 (Holiday 11). Total Fouls—New Orleans 18, Philadelphia 21. A—17,304 (20,328).
Pacers 103, Bobcats 76
INDIANA (103): George 7-16 0-2 16, West 6-13 3-4 15, Hibbert 5-11 8-8 18, Hill 6-11 2-2 16, Stephenson 3-6 0-1 7, T.Hansbrough 2-5 5-5 9, Green 1-7 1-2 3, Mahinmi 0-2 4-4 4, Augustin 2-4 0-0 6, Johnson 1-4 0-0 2, Pendergraph 2-6 0-0 4, McGuire 0-0 0-0 0, B.Hansbrough 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 36-87 23-28 103.
CHARLOTTE (76): Kidd-Gilchrist 1-5 2-3 4, Warrick 2-4 0-0 4, Biyombo 2-6 1-2 5, Walker 6-9 0-0 13, Henderson 3-10 8-12 15, Haywood 1-3 0-0 2, Adrien 1-3 2-2 4, Taylor 1-6 2-2 5, Gordon 3-9 1-1 7, Sessions 3-10 7-8 13, Diop 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 25-72 23-30 76.
Indiana 27 23 33 20— 103
Charlotte 20 20 17 19— 76
3-Point Goals—Indiana 8-22 (Augustin 2-3, Hill 2-4, George 2-7, B.Hansbrough 1-1, Stephenson 1-3, Green 0-4), Charlotte 3-9 (Henderson 1-1, Walker 1-1, Taylor 1-4, Sessions 0-1, Williams 0-2). Rebounds—Indiana 69 (George 10), Charlotte 41 (Biyombo, Adrien 6). Assists—Indiana 25 (Stephenson 6), Charlotte 13 (Henderson 3). Total Fouls—Indiana 24, Charlotte 23. Technicals—George, Indiana defensive three second. A—12,996 (19,077).
Nuggets 115, Trail Blazers 111, OT
PORTLAND (111): Batum 8-17 4-6 22, Aldridge 10-21 8-8 28, Hickson 7-8 5-5 19, Lillard 6-15 1-2 16, Matthews 6-13 0-0 14, Babbitt 1-3 0-0 3, Barton 3-7 1-2 7, Price 1-3 0-0 2, Freeland 0-1 0-0 0, Jeffries 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-88 19-23 111.
DENVER (115): Gallinari 8-14 6-8 25, Faried 9-12 3-3 21, Koufos 4-6 0-0 8, Lawson 10-19 2-4 24, Iguodala 4-16 0-3 9, Chandler 5-13 1-1 13, Brewer 3-6 0-0 7, McGee 2-7 0-0 4, A.Miller 2-6 0-0 4. Totals 47-99 12-19 115.
Portland 35 22 19 23 12— 111
Denver 33 21 27 18 16— 115
3-Point Goals—Portland 8-27 (Lillard 3-5, Matthews 2-7, Batum 2-9, Babbitt 1-3, Price 0-1, Barton 0-2), Denver 9-25 (Gallinari 3-6, Chandler 2-4, Lawson 2-5, Brewer 1-3, Iguodala 1-5, A.Miller 0-2). Fouled Out—McGee. Rebounds—Portland 61 (Hickson 13), Denver 48 (Faried 11). Assists—Portland 25 (Batum 7), Denver 31 (Lawson 12). Total Fouls—Portland 20, Denver 23. A—15,521 (19,155).
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Ryan Evans had 13 points and seven rebounds and Traevon Jackson added 11 points as Wisconsin upset No. 2 Indiana 64-59 on Tuesday night to take sole possession of the Big Ten lead.
The Badgers (13-4, 4-0) have won seven straight and beaten two top-15 teams in four days. They now have 11 straight wins over the Hoosiers and five straight in Bloomington.
Cody Zeller scored 18 of his 21 in the first half to lead Indiana (15-2, 3-1), which had a six-game winning streak and an 18-game home winning streak snapped. Christian Watford added 11 points as the Hoosiers finished with fewer than 60 for the first time this season.
"We just didn't hit shots," Indiana's Victor Oladipo said. "They made a lot of crazy shots. We didn't defend well."
The Badgers, as usual, dictated the tempo by running down the shot clock and forcing the nation's highest-scoring team into a precious possession-by-possession slugfest where baskets were scarce.
"(Wisconsin) was trying to play a game in the 50s," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "That's just the way it is, that's what they want to do. We missed 34 shots. A lot of things have to go right for you if you're going to miss 34 shots."
The Badgers committed eight turnovers and took advantage of seemingly every opportunity they had, especially in the second half as Hoosiers moaned and groaned about everything from missed shots to errant passes.
After Indiana opened the second half with a three-point play, it managed six points over the next 6:34, a drought that allowed the Badgers to take control. Wisconsin scored seven straight to take a 38-37 lead with 15:58 to play, then got a three-point play from Jackson to start a 9-0 run.
NO. 12 CREIGHTON 79, N. IOWA 68: Doug McDermott scored 21 of his 31 in the second half for the host Bluejays (17-1, 6-0 MVC), who won their 11th straight.
ST. JOHN'S 67, NO. 20 NOTRE DAME 63: JaKarr Sampson scored 14 of his 17 in the first half for the host Red Storm, which handed the Fighting Irish (14-3, 2-2 Big East) their second straight loss.
NO. 14 BUTLER: Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke said he is feeling better after Saturday's crash into a padded basket support, but the senior guard still has soreness in both shoulders and hasn't been cleared to resume contact.
USF women roll
TAMPA — Andrea Smith scored 17 and twin Andrell Smith added 16, all in the first half, as USF routed Cincinnati 77-44 at the Sun Dome for its first Big East win.
Freshman forward Alisia Jenkins added eight points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls (12-4, 1-2), who outrebounded the Bearcats 42-32 and held them to 32.7 percent shooting from the field.
"We defended, we challenged and we rebounded," USF coach Jose Fernandez said.
NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 79, G'TOWN 64: Kayla McBride scored 17 and Skylar Diggins had 15 points and nine assists for the host Irish (15-1, 4-0 Big East), who made 33 of 36 free throws and cruised to their 10th straight victory.
NO. 3 UCONN 72, NO. 15 LOUISVILLE 58: Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley scored 16 each for the host Huskies (15-1, 3-1 Big East), who have won 12 of their 13 meetings with the Cardinals (14-4, 2-2).
NO. 24 IOWA ST. 82, NO. 16 OKLA. 61: Hallie Christofferson scored 24 and Nikki Moody had 20 points and 13 assists for the host Cyclones (13-2, 4-1 Big 12), who snapped a six-game winning streak by the Sooners (14-3, 4-1).
Texas: Medical conditions prompted senior center Cokie Reed and junior guard Chelsea Bass to retire. Reed cited exercise-induced hypertension. Bass reportedly suffered a fourth career concussion.
By Andy Warrener, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
If you're a college recruiter and looking at a resume that includes "two-time state champion, National Soccer Coaches Association of America's High School Senior Excellence Award, Save of the Year Award, 5.31 weighted grade-point average, lock-down goalkeeper and team leader," you probably would come out to see this athlete.
But suppose she doesn't meet any of your preconceived notions of what that kind of athlete might look like. Suppose she blows that notion away. Suppose she blows your mind with how athletic she is, still.
"You can't understand how agile she actually is by looking at her," Clearwater Chargers under-18 coach Siggi Nagele said. "Her weight has never been an issue in terms of the type of player she is."
There's little doubt that the Steinbrenner High School senior Stephanie Hirsch has proven many doubters wrong.
Hirsch suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome, which can cause weight gain, among other side effects. But in some ways, she has used that to her advantage as a goalkeeper.
"There are so many violent collisions in that 18-yard box," Nagele said. "People are afraid to stick their nose in there with Stephanie defending."
"I've dealt with it all my life," Hirsch said of her weight. "But I like to prove people wrong."
Polycystic ovary syndrome is an imbalance of the female sex hormones. It afflicts as many as five million women in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Besides weight gain, it can also cause acne and excessive hair growth.
Hirsch struggled mightily with it, especially during puberty.
"It was really bad back then," Hirsch said. "I had to deal with the facial hair and I was really really big back then."
Hirsch has a rigorous workout routine and follows a strict diet. She said she's now starting to gain control of the hormonal imbalance, yet people's perceptions remain.
She recalled a recent trip to Indiana University for a camp combine that bolstered her confidence.
"I had the best camp that I'd ever had. I felt like I outplayed all the other athletes there," Hirsch said. "One of the assistant coaches came up to me at the end of the day and told me what a phenomenal keeper I was and how I moved so well for my size."
Hirsch knew that the assistant coach singling her out that way probably meant that the head coach was not going to have the same things to say.
"I kept waiting for the 'but' and it did come, but that coach singling me out like that did a lot for my confidence," she said.
Since then, Hirsch has picked up offers from the University of Great Falls in Montana and South Carolina State.
Hirsch started out playing for the Westchase Soccer Association as a youngster. Her dad, Larry, was a coach on those early teams and Hirsch remembers her dad "not exactly going easy on me."
Hirsch's dad is the play-by-play commentator for Steinbrenner soccer matches and is coming from a career announcing for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils hockey teams, and the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros baseball teams.
From Westchase, Hirsch fed into the FC Tampa Soccer Club where, as a 10 year-old, she played on the under-12 team. She even played on the boys' all-star team from that year. She went on to play for the Countryside Soccer Club, then the Dunedin Stirling Soccer Club.
It was there that she drew the attention of the nationally recognized Ponte Vedra Soccer Club in Jacksonville. And that's where her career took flight.
Hirsch won a state title in 2011 with Ponte Vedra, only allowing three goals during the entire State Cup. Earlier that same year, Hirsch won a high school Class 4A state title with Steinbrenner, notching six saves in a 2-1 win over Merritt Island in the final. Hirsch only conceded four goals during the Warriors' seven-game playoff run.
"That was a storybook season," Hirsch said.
Hirsch also was invited to the regional Olympic Development Program as part of the Florida team, where she and current teammate Marley Opilia trained with some of the top talent and coaches in the country.
"She's (Hirsch) the consummate teammate," Warriors' coach Angela Gillisse said. "Her whole focus is the team and what she's doing to help it."
DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2011)
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa's Lou Piniella will be the most familiar face among the 2013 class of inductees into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame on Feb. 2 at Tropicana Field, along with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, the Alomar family and Darrell Evans.
Pitcher Jack Morris also will be honored at the event, which is being held in partnership with Rays Cy Young Award winner David Price and called Dinner with David and Friends.
Tickets, which are $125, include dinner on the field, a silent auction, a speech by Price and a free hour-long autograph session featuring Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, retired players such as Tony Oliva and Cecil Fielder and current Rays Alex Cobb, Elliot Johnson, Jake McGee and others. Price's 2012 Cy Young is expected to be on display, and he also will sign autographs.
Piniella, 69, played 18 years in the majors and managed 23 seasons, including 2003-05 with the then-Devil Rays. Sandberg, the 1984 NL MVP, was a 2005 inductee to the Hall of Fame (along with Boggs). The Alomar family includes father Sandy and sons Sandy Jr. and Roberto, a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee. Evans hit 414 home runs during a 21-year career. Morris will be honored on the Hall's Pitching Wall of Great Achievement. All the inductees are confirmed to attend, except Sandy Alomar Jr.
Tickets are available through raysbaseball.com (in the Fans section) or by calling (727) 534-5343. Proceeds benefit Price's Project One Four and the Ted Williams Foundation.
By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG — As much as the Bucs need an infusion of talent at cornerback, the options in the upper reaches of the draft and in free agency will be limited.
That's why the cornerbacks being scouted ahead of Saturday's East-West Shrine Game college showcase shouldn't be ruled out as options for the Bucs, who had the NFL's worst pass defense in 2012.
While there aren't many first-round caliber players participating — the best seniors play in next week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. — the list of cornerbacks has some notable names you'll want to watch.
Among them is Miami's Brandon McGee, a 6-foot, 197-pounder who earned some face time with Eric Stokes, the Bucs' director of college scouting. Also here is Illinois standout Terry Hawthorne, Kansas State's Nigel Malone, Georgia's Branden Smith, Georgia Tech's Rod Sweeting and Purdue's Josh Johnson (a graduate of Pasco High).
And the Bucs, based nearby in Tampa, have had an up-close look. Scouts, player personnel director Dennis Hickey and general manager Mark Dominik have attended practices.
Given their need, the Bucs could add multiple cornerbacks during this offseason, meaning mid- and late-round picks are in play. Thirty-seven players from the 2012 Shrine game were drafted. But what about this group of cornerbacks?
"I think we can come out and showcase the talent and show these NFL scouts that we're playmakers," Smith said. "It's not about how big or small we are. I think we can show them that we're athletes. Cornerbacks are some of the highest-paid players on the field for a reason. You have to really have a lot of talent and skill to be back there."
Malone had a combined 12 interceptions and 19 pass deflections in 2011 and 2012 for Kansas State. But at only 5-10, 180 pounds, his size is a disadvantage. His coaches say his attention to detail and football smarts help him compensate.
McGee didn't rack up interceptions — he had just two in 2012 — but he showed a willingness to be physical, registering 54 tackles. And if he tests well at the combine next month, it will only help his stock. (McGee was regarded as Miami's fastest player this past season.)
"I just want (scouts) to see that I'm a competitor," McGee said. "I might even do a little trash talking now and then.
"But it's just about competition. I want to show that I can be dynamic and be a dominant player and use my speed and ability and my knowledge of the game."
Hawthorne, 6 feet, 197 pounds, is a superb athlete and even has some history of playing on offense. He has only helped himself with a strong showing this week.
Smith stressed his history of playing man-to-man press coverage at Georgia, which would help prepare him for Bucs coach Greg Schiano's defense.
Whatever ultimately happens, the Bucs can't count on addressing their cornerback needs early in the draft. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper unveiled his first mock draft Wednesday, and it features just two cornerbacks in the first round, Alabama's Dee Milliner at No. 4 and Florida State's Xavier Rhodes at No. 28. (The Bucs draft 13th.)
That just increases the likelihood of the Bucs choosing from among the draft's second-tier prospects — such as those playing in St. Petersburg this week.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times (2011)
By Darek Sharp, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
A lot of county soccer players have posted better offensive statistics than Edgar Morales.
But for Plant City, Morales is way more valuable than any numbers can reveal.
Morales, who leads the team with eight goals, is the only starter who has suited up for each and every one of the Raiders' games.
"We've had just about everything bad that can happen to a team," Plant City coach Chris Black said.
The Raiders hope to render all of the obstacles mere blips when they host the District 4A-9 tournament.
Plant City is the No. 3 seed, and despite a decidedly up-and-down season is in a good spot to claim one of the district's two playoff spots. The Raiders take on No. 6 seed Hillsborough in the last of Tuesday's three first-round games.
Strawberry Crest is the No. 1 seed and gets a bye into Thursday's semifinals. The semifinal winners will meet Jan. 25 at 7 for the district title with the champ getting to host a regional playoff game while the runnerup hits the road.
Last year, the Raiders dominated district play and had state title aspirations before disaster hit. They were up 3-0 in the playoff opener against Clearwater before falling behind, tying the game in extra time and then losing in penalty kicks. Strawberry Crest also made the playoffs but got knocked out 7-0 by eventual state finalists Seminole.
Though it appears the Chargers are the team to beat this time around, Black isn't conceding anything.
"We feel like we can compete for the district if we have everybody there," he said. "That's been a bit of a problem. We've played 18 games and literally, have had 18 different lineups. Edgar is the only starter to play every game without an injury or something else."
Plant City has had five players miss time due to red-card infractions, by far the most costly being the loss of one of its best performers Juan Navarrete. But assuming the Raiders can take care of Hillsborough, a team it defeated 3-1 this season, Navarrete's six-week suspension ends in time for the semifinals.
Recently, the Raiders took on state power Palmetto at the Berkeley Prep Invitational and had seven starters out. The Raiders have played in two events over the last month, splitting six contests. Last week they went 2-1 at the King Invitational with the loss coming to tourney champion Riverview.
Goalkeeper Evan Storie has been a big factor in most of Plant City's wins. At 10-8-1 overall, Plant City has what Black calls a "legit shot" at winning districts. Seeding went about as well as it could, as the Raiders' 3-3 league mark nudged them ahead of comparable squads East Bay and Tampa Bay Tech, who had fewer district losses but at 2-2-2 wound up with one less standings point.
Brandon claimed the No. 2 seed but has been struggling of late, in fact losing last week to Armwood at the King tourney — Armwood is the team Brandon plays to kick off the district tournament (Tuesday at 3 p.m.).
The Raiders' seeding puts them in the bracket opposite of Strawberry Crest. Plant City would take on the Brandon-Armwood winner in a Thursday 7 p.m. semifinal. Strawberry Crest faces the East Bay-TBT winner Thursday at 5.
Both local squads have been off for a week but get one final regular-season test tonight. Strawberry Crest is traveling to Newsome while the Raiders host Wharton.
Meanwhile, Durant readies for the Class 5A, District 7 tournament with a tuneup against Freedom. The Cougars face an uphill battle with Plant and Newsome among the tourney favorites.
Times file (2012)
By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The competition, as well as the weather, was heated at the fourth tournament in the Junior Circuit Tennis Series on Jan. 12 at Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville.
Jesse DeWitt of Brooksville, who reached the finals but lost in each of the first two tournaments this season, won the high school boys title for the first time. After defeating Nick Pais of Brooksville in straight sets in the semifinals, he dispatched Carl Zee of Spring Hill 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in a hard-fought championship victory. Zee, a standout at Springstead High School, was in his first final of the season.
Madison Gamble of Lecanto became the first player other than Mahima Tatam to capture a title in the high school girls division. Tatam wasn't in the field this time around. Gamble defeated Bryn Buckner of Brooksville in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0. Gamble cruised into the finals with a semifinal victory over Robyn Cotney of Weeki Wachee, 6-0, 6-3.
Professionals Lou Giglio, Rick Scholl and Judy Jeanette organize and coach players who enter Junior Circuit Tennis events. The next and final tournament of the season is scheduled for Feb. 9 at the Sugarmill Woods/Oak Village Sports Complex in Homosassa and is open to all junior tennis players in grade school, middle school or high school. The registration fee is $20.
For information, contact Jeanette at email@example.com or (352) 232-0322.
AMERICAN HEROES GOLF TOURNAMENT: Marine Corps League Detachment 1002 will have its third annual American Heroes Golf Tournament on Jan. 29 at Silverthorn Country Club, Spring Hill.
The entry fee is $75 per player or $300 per foursome, which includes golf, cart, an awards barbecue and prizes. Hole sponsorships are available for a cost of $100.
Registration is at 12:30 p.m., with the shotgun start set for 1:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for holes-in-one, longest and straightest drives and closest to the pin. There will be a putting contest, a 50/50 raffle, an auction and door prizes.
Proceeds go to injured veterans and families at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, scholarships for veterans' children, and other military benefits programs in Hernando County.
Ed Morse Auto Plaza is sponsoring a $10,000 car gift certificate for a hole-in-one on the 11th hole, a Las Vegas golf vacation on the fifth hole, a set of new Razr X woods on the eighth hole, and a set of new Razr X irons on the 15th hole.
For information, call Rich Lee at (352) 650-0364.
SPRING HILL DIXIE SOFTBALL: Spring Hill Dixie Softball has scheduled registration at Anderson Snow Park for its spring season.
League officials will accept sign-ups under the pavilion at the park. Officials will be present from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 26 and from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Evaluation dates vary, depending on age divisions. The Darlings (ages 5 to 8) will try out Jan. 28. The Angels (9 and 10) will be on Jan. 29. The Ponies (11 and 12) will have evaluations on Jan. 30, and the Belles and Debs divisions (13 to 18) will take place Jan. 31. All evaluations are scheduled for 6 p.m.
Player fees are $115 per child at the time of registration, with a $10 late fee for sign-ups at evaluations. A copy of a child's birth certificate is necessary for registration. The fees cover all games, insurance and trophies.
Coaches and sponsors are still needed. Visit shdixiesoftball.com if interested.
For information, contact Glenn Primavera at (352) 442-1957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOFTEGAARD JUNIOR TENNIS TOURNAMENT: The Nature Coast Tennis Foundation will host the seventh annual Simon Toftegaard Memorial Junior Tennis Tournament on Jan. 26 at Delta Woods Park in Spring Hill.
The co-ed event is a singles tournament open to elementary, middle and high school players for an entry fee of $30 per person. Players do not need to be U.S. Tennis Association members to participate.
Lunch and tournament T-shirts are included in the entry fee. The format will be best two of three-set matches with a seven-point tiebreaker. The winner advances, while the opponent moves to a consolation round. First- and second-place trophies will be awarded in each division.
Named for a former Nature Coast Technical High School tennis standout, the tournament benefits the tennis foundation's scholarship program. Toftegaard died in an auto accident in 2009.
For information, call Phil Zee at (352) 263-9546 or send email to email@example.com. To register, visit nctf.usta.com.
SPRING HILL DIXIE BASEBALL: Spring Hill Dixie Baseball has scheduled registration at Anderson Snow Park for its spring season.
League officials will accept sign-ups in the office at the park. Volunteers will be present from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday and Jan. 25.
The county has instituted a $3 player fee for park maintenance this year, and the league has gained control of the Little Red Schoolhouse field in Spring Hill. With Spring Hill Dixie handling all maintenance and costs for the field, there will be an increase in league fees this season.
Cost varies depending on the age division. Junior Rookies (ages 5 and 6) is $80 per child, Rookies (7 and 8) is $90, Minors (9 and 10) is $110, Majors (11 and 12) is $115, O-Zone (12 and 13) is $125 and Boys (13 and 14) is $150. A copy of a child's birth certificate is necessary for registration. The fees cover all games, insurance and trophies.
A $30 refundable deposit will also be required for all families. This will be returned to anyone who volunteers three hours in the concession stand during the season. In lieu of the deposit, a family may make a $30 donation to the league.
For information, call Joe Abbadessa at (352) 263-4488 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UMPIRE CLINICS: The Hernando-Sumter Umpires Association has scheduled a set of baseball/softball umpiring clinics.
The clinics are designed to train anyone who wants to become an umpire, and also can help seasoned umpires improve. Clinics will take place Sunday and Feb. 17 at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill, Jan. 27 at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, and Feb. 3 at Ridge Manor Park in Ridge Manor.
The sessions are open to men and women age 16 and older. All clinics will start at 10 a.m.
Visit hernandosumter umpire.com to register. For information, call (352) 593-6998 or send email to email@example.com.
BROOKSVILLE BULLDOGS BASEBALL: The Brooksville Bulldogs youth recreation league will have sign-ups for the coming season on Saturday and Jan. 26 at Kennedy Park in Brooksville.
The Bulldogs compete in both the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth leagues, with age groups from 9 to 18 years old. Registrations will be taken from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on each of the dates.
For information, contact Bruce Price at (813) 714-1054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOURETTE SYNDROME GOLF TOURNAMENT: The Plantation Golf Resort in Crystal River will host the inaugural Tee Off for Tourette Celebrity Golf Tournament on Feb. 1 and 2.
Proceeds will benefit the Tourette Syndrome Association of Florida, a volunteer organization dedicated to helping individuals and families living with Tourette's syndrome. The money will help send children to an annual camp, where they can spend time with other children with Tourette syndrome.
The basic entry fee is $500 per four-player team, which includes a hole sign and recognition in the tournament program, as well as greens fees and a cart. Other sponsorship levels include gold, platinum and event.
For information, contact event chairman Gary D'Amico at (352) 527-2938 or email@example.com.
Derek J. LaRiviere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 584-6337.
By Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
TAMPA — The last time Jahleel Addae buckled his chinstrap in the state of Florida, the Riverview tailback was darting around opponents out of the Sharks' double wing T offense.
On Saturday, Addae makes his return — with a chance at the NFL on the line.
Addae will be looking to open some eyes when he takes part in the East-West Shrine game at Tropicana Field on Saturday at 3 p.m.
"When I got the email with the invite, I was pumped," Addae said. "To be back here in Tampa for this is great."
Addae said he expects about 50 to 60 friends and family in attendance.
"He's a great young man," said family friend Patty Munoz, who refers to herself as Addae's aunt. "We're looking forward to getting him back in Florida for this game."
But for those who haven't seen Addae play the past four years, don't expect the ball in his hands — unless he hauls in an interception. Addae switched to defense as a freshman at Central Michigan after a standout career at Riverview. Addae ran for at least 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons with the Sharks and was a Times first-team all county selection as a senior in 2007.
"They had me playing some running back and in the slot for the first two games before I made the switch (to strong safety)," Addae said.
Addae hadn't played on the defensive side since youth football with the Brandon Broncos.
"I had no real experience playing defense," he said. "But I thought it gave me a chance to get on the field quicker so I gave it a try."
Addae took to the switch well, much like his brother had years before. Jahmile Addae was a high school running back before making the switch to defensive back at West Virginia, becoming a four-year starter for the Mountaineers.
"I guess you could say hitting runs in our blood," Jahleel Addae said.
Addae deftly made the transition his sophomore season and went on to become a three-year starter. He was named team defensive MVP as a junior and shared the award as a senior. Addae, a three-time all MAC selection, was also named to the Jim Thorpe Award list prior to his senior year.
"I took to (defense) surprisingly quick," he said. "It's a great feeling to be able to hit a receiver coming across the middle. I was a natural."
And Addae is hoping this week of practice in Tampa and Saturday's game cement his place on the NFL radar. Addae is currently listed as the No. 7 strong safety according to nfldraftscout.com and he has been hearing whispers that he could be a mid-round pick in the April NFL Draft.
"It's been great being here all week and getting to test your skills against elite level players and getting to know the scouts and show them your personality," Addae said. "It's been a great challenge."
Merzier honored: If the name Fito Merzier doesn't ring a bell to most local high school football fans, there's a reason for that.
"It probably shouldn't," Bloomingdale coach John Booth joked.
Merzier wasn't a splash name during his junior season at Bloomingdale but the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder flashed enough athletic potential to be invited out to the U.S. Army Junior Combine in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this month.
"He didn't even play football at all until his ninth grade season," Booth said. "He's just learning the game."
Merzier didn't put up big numbers for the Bulls but his measurables are intriguing. According to reports, Merzier ran a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash and recorded a vertical leap of 35 inches at the combine. It earned the Bulls' defensive end a spot on the combine Honorable Mention squad.
"If you take one look at him, I mean he is just a specimen," Booth said. "It's pretty ridiculous."
Booth said Merzier hasn't been recruited yet but he expects that to change heading into his senior year if he keeps up this pace.
"He's as physically gifted as they come and is great academically," he said. "He's the whole package and we expect big things out of him next year. Honestly, if he keeps improving I don't know how teams are going to block him."
Brandon Wright can be reached at email@example.com.
Central Michigan University
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
NEW YORK — From nearly unstoppable to nearly invisible.
Tim Tebow was two wins from the Super Bowl a year ago. Now, he's pretty much a player without a team — likely to be released by the New York Jets after one frustrating season and his hometown team in Jacksonville already pulling in the welcome mat.
Even Tebow doesn't know how this will unfold. A backup role on another NFL team? A position change? The Canadian Football League?
"I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future," the devout Christian said in a recent interview with Fox Business Network, his only public comments since his strange Jets season ended.
"And, in that," he added, "there is a lot of peace and a lot of comfort."
Tebow barely played for the Jets last season. "An absolute mess," is the way recently retired special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff described it. Tebow has two years left on his contract, but New York is expected to trade or release him in the next few weeks. So far, destination unknown.
"I can't imagine a scenario in which he'll be a Jacksonville Jaguar," new general manager David Caldwell declared last week. "Even if he's released."
While there's an outside chance Tebow could remain a New Yorker, depending on the whims of the still -to-be-hired GM, it appears highly unlikely.
So, that's two NFL teams down — the only ones, at that, who showed any interest last offseason when Denver shopped him — and the 25-year-old Tebow's options appear to be dwindling.
"Tim Tebow is an extremely popular individual — or, he was," said former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, now an analyst for NFL.com. "I think his popularity has waned significantly the last three or four months."
The buzz these days belongs to young quarterbacks such as Washington's Robert Griffin III, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. It seems so long ago now that Tebowing — his signature dropping to a knee for a prayerful pose — was all the rage.
But even Tebow never Tebowed during the regular season for the Jets. Not once. Quite a fall for a Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion with the University of Florida, and whose No. 15 Broncos jersey ranked second in national sales to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers in 2011.
"I think it's fair to say," Tebow acknowledged last month, "that I'm a little disappointed."
Tebow went from being considered a key part of Rex Ryan's offense to almost non-existent. The numbers said it all: a mere 102 yards rushing and 6-of-8 passing for 39 yards. And, the most damning stat of all: zero touchdowns.
"I would've liked to see him get a chance," defensive end Mike DeVito said.
It didn't even come when Mark Sanchez struggled so badly that he was benched for the first time in his career. Instead of going with Tebow, the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, Ryan went with third-stringer Greg McElroy.
Acquiring Tebow ultimately led to GM Mike Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano losing their jobs. And, it clouded Tebow's prospects in the NFL. No matter what, though, he insists he's a quarterback.
"I just don't think he will ever be a quarterback in the NFL," Brandt said. "I think he's really smart, but I don't think he has the mental quickness at the position. The second thing is, he just is not accurate."
Tebow, reportedly working out in Arizona with a personal trainer, could still land somewhere in the league as a project for an offensive coordinator willing to learn from the Jets' mistakes.
"He's still worth a try and I think somebody will sign him, but it'll be under the condition that it will be as something other than as a quarterback," said Brandt, who thinks Tebow will stay on offense. "If Al Davis were still here, he'd take him in a second and try to turn him into a tight end for the Raiders."
Or, Tebow could simply swallow his pride, head to Canada and become a huge star there with the CFL's wide-open fields. And then, who knows? Maybe he would come back to the United States — the same route Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia took to NFL stardom.
"There's no shame at all in going to the CFL," said Eric Crouch, the former Nebraska Heisman Trophy quarterback who played in both the NFL and CFL. "They'd take him right now and he'd get a lot of tape, and if he's there two years, he'd have 50 games under his belt reading defenses and coverages. Let the NFL scouts make their decisions then.
"And, hey, he might have so much fun there actually playing, he might not want to ever come back."
By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Have you noticed who is getting head coaching jobs in the NFL these days?
There's a guy who went 25-25 at Syracuse and had his hands full finishing higher than Skip Holtz in the Big East.
There's an offensive coordinator from a team that was tied for 18th in the NFL in scoring. Oh, how about this one: a coach from the Canadian Football League.
What, the gym teacher/coach at Cincinnati Moeller High School wasn't interested?
And then there's the latest: The Eagles hired Oregon's Chip Kelly on Wednesday, the same Chip Kelly who was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire six years ago. Now he's a big deal because he concocted a gimmicky offense good enough to almost win a national championship in college.
Have you noticed who is not getting head coaching jobs in the NFL these days?
Super Bowl-winning coaches such as Mike Holmgren and Brian Billick are not. Former NFL coaches such as Eric Mangini, Dom Capers and Norv Turner are not. Lovie Smith, who has been to a Super Bowl, is on the outside looking in.
Eight NFL teams are changing coaches this offseason, and the only retread, so far, is Andy Reid. He was scooped up by the Chiefs not long after being fired by the Eagles.
The NFL used to be a good-old-boy network that loved to recycle former head coaches. But it feels like a new day in the NFL, and that might not be a bad thing, even if the resumes are not overly impressive. Here's a look at how things are changing — for the better — in the NFL.
Teams are going to college
Before last year, so many college coaches crashed and burned in the NFL that teams became skittish to hire them. Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson, Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino and even Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier were so awful in the pros that teams chose to sift through the NFL recycling bin to pull out a Mike Shanahan or a John Fox or a Chan Gailey.
But two coaches changed that: Pete Carroll of the Seahawks and, especially, Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers. Even though both had NFL experience (Carroll as a coach and Harbaugh as a quarterback), the two went straight from college to NFL success. Harbaugh led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship Game last season.
Harbaugh might be the key reason the Bucs felt comfortable chasing Kelly a year ago before hiring another college coach, Rutgers' Greg Schiano. The success of Carroll and Harbaugh this season might be why the Eagles, Browns and others went after Chip Kelly and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly in the past few weeks.
Even Schiano turning around the culture in Tampa Bay might have been enough to sell the Bills on Syracuse's Doug Marrone, who had a decent program in a less-than-decent conference, kind of like Schiano at Rutgers.
Teams are looking at hot-shot coordinators
Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was hired to coach the Browns. Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was hired to coach the Chargers. Marc Trestman goes to the Bears from the CFL but was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland, San Francisco, Arizona and Oakland before that. Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians remain in the running for other openings.
When you break this stuff down, hiring a coordinator appears to be the best way to go. Recent Super Bowl winners Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Sean Payton (Saints) and Mike McCarthy (Packers) all went from being coordinators to Super Bowl-winning head coaches. Before that, Bill Cowher (Steelers) and Billick (Ravens) did the same. Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy and Tom Coughlin won the Super Bowl with their second NFL teams but had "NFL coordinator'' experience.
Of the 12 head coaches in this year's playoffs, seven were NFL coordinators or assistants immediately before their current job.
The times are a-changing
Here's how times have changed: Between the 2001 and 2002 NFL seasons, there were six coaching changes, and the Texans entered the league as an expansion team. Of those seven coaching openings, four were filled by coaches with previous head coaching experience in the NFL. That included Dungy, who went from the Bucs to the Colts, and Gruden, who went from the Raiders to the Bucs. Only one coach made the jump from college and that was Spurrier, who went from the Gators to the Redskins.
This offseason, the eight openings could be filled by at least six and possibly seven coaches who have never been an NFL head coach.
Really, this all is just a continuation of a hot trend in the NFL. At the start of last season, 22 of the league's 32 teams were being coached by those in their first jobs as NFL head coaches. It's quite possible that, next season, as many as 25 teams will have coaches who had never been a head coach anywhere else in the NFL.
These things tend to be cyclical. Maybe a few years from now, we'll see a run on former head coaches. And the Patriots with Bill Belichick will argue that taking another team's castoff is not always a bad idea.
But these days, it's all about fresh ideas and first-time chances. It's about taking risks and trying something new.
It's more fun, and just maybe a whole lot more effective, than the same old story.
By Bryan Burns, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG — Four years ago, Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson made one of the most difficult decisions of his young life.
Johnson was a football and baseball standout at Pasco High. In his senior year, he earned first-team Class 3A all-state honors on the gridiron. That same season on the diamond, Johnson batted .427 with eight home runs and led the Pirates in runs scored (43) and stolen bases (17).
Johnson had options to play both sports beyond high school. But after careful deliberation, he chose to concentrate fully on football.
It's a decision he has never regretted.
"I made my decision, slept on it, talked to my family and decided I wanted to play strictly football," he said. "I love what I do now."
What Johnson does now is play cornerback at an elite level, so much so that when the NFL draft commences April 25, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound corner should hear his name called.
"I was so used to playing football and baseball, but then it got to a point where I knew if I just stuck to football, I'd have more free time, more time to polish up my skills at football," he said. "I could watch a lot more film and get a lot more feedback from my coaches and prepare."
Johnson signed with Purdue and appeared in 11 games as a true freshman. He started 10 games his sophomore year before becoming a full-time starter his final two seasons. As a senior, Johnson led Purdue with 16 pass breakups, and had three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Johnson is one of several college seniors hoping to catch the eyes of a scout and improve his draft stock at the 88th annual East-West Shrine Game, which will be played Saturday at Tropicana Field. Johnson is a member of the East Team and has been training all week with the squad at Shorecrest Prep.
"It's an interview coming out here every day practicing, showing everyone what you have, going in and talking to the scouts every night," he said. "I don't have to have all the scouts like me. I just need one to like me and bring me into their camp."
Johnson has plenty of intangibles to attract scouts. Most are enamored with his feet and intelligence. His athleticism is also noteworthy. Johnson has been fielding punts and kicks on the East's return teams.
"I think Josh will definitely be an NFL cornerback," said Marlon McCree, an assistant defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the East Team's defensive backs coach.
"He's having a tremendous camp. He's got a good attitude, and he does everything the right way. He's already developing to become a pro, and I think that's going to help him in the long run."
Johnson has spent most of his time during Shrine Game practices refining his technique. McCree said that every cornerback out of college needs time to adjust to the NFL's no contact on a receiver after 5 yards rule. Johnson is no exception.
"It usually takes them about three preseason games," McCree said. "They've got to get cursed out, they've got to get a foot put up their butt, and then after that, they seem to get it. They hold because they think that they're not going to have time. Once they see they can run with these receivers, they seem to play with more discipline."
Johnson said he doesn't pay attention to the draft experts and isn't concerned about what round or where he's drafted. Right now, he's just relishing a decision he made four years ago that has him on the verge of an NFL career.
"Once I wasn't worrying about baseball, worrying about hitting a curveball or worrying about missing class for baseball, it was just straight football for me," he said. "And now my game has stepped to a different level than it was in high school."
WINNING: Mount Union WR Jasper Collins may not have the pedigree of most of the players at the Shrine Game practices, but he holds a clear advantage in one area. In four years at Mount Union, Collins lost only three games. He played in four Stagg Bowls (the Division III championship game), finally winning a championship in his final try his senior season.
"It was a great experience," Collins said. "We love to win, and that's all we know how to do. The coaches prepare us well. When you do lose, it's a bummer. We're not used to it."
At 5 feet 11, 190 pounds, Collins has to overcome the small receiver stigma in addition to the small school tag. But after making a handful of difficult catches against some of the nation's elite defensive backs, Collins, a member of the West Team, is showing that he can compete at any level.
"Football is football," he said. "Not much changes, just the different players you go against. Coming out here and competing is a great thing."
Associated Press (2012)
By Dave Mistretta, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Great fishing: There's been plenty of action on the bottom in depths of 50 feet and shallower. We've had consistent success with many different reef fish. Key West grunts, porgies, triggerfish and sea bass have been eager to eat. Present the bait close to the bottom for best results. Larger reef fish like chunks of squid presented no more than 2 feet from the bottom. We use what's often referred to as a porgy rig. The sinker sits on the bottom and two hooks are positioned about 12 inches apart, above the sinker. Anglers can enjoy reeling in two fish at a time.
Make the best out of it: During these days of numerous closed seasons on various species, get creative with what's available. Keep a few of these smaller reef fish for a fish fry. We've also been bringing home a few keeper red groupers in these same depths. Gag grouper eventually show up on just about every stop we make. Some anglers are using live shrimp and targeting hog snapper. If you don't mind sifting through the other small reef fish, eventually a hog snapper will bite. A knocker rig (the sinker sliding directly to hook) is best suited for this type of fish because they feed by picking at the bottom with a long snout.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Golf on TV
PGA: Humana Challenge, PGA West Arnold Palmer Course, La Quinta, Calif. TV: Today-Sunday, 3 p.m., Golf Channel
PGA Europe: Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE. TV: Today, 11 p.m.; Friday, 10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 p.m.; Golf Channel
Champions: Mitsubishi Electric Championship, Hualalai Golf Course, Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii. TV: Friday-Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Golf Channel
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There is something about the Ravens that brings out the worst in Tom Brady.
Against most teams, the New England star plays like one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Against the Ravens, not so much.
"They have a lot of playmakers at each level of the defense," Brady said Wednesday. "It's not like you beat this team 50-0. It's always a tight game. There's tight coverage. There are tight throws, tough reads because schematically they do quite a few things. So it's never easy."
Brady is 5-2 against the Ravens over his 13-year career. But his 58.6 completion percentage and 74.1 passer rating are the lowest against any opponent. The Ravens are the only team against which he has thrown more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (seven). And they've sacked him 16 times, one of five teams averaging more than two against Brady.
A 49.1 rating in a 33-14 playoff loss to Baltimore on Jan. 10, 2010, is Brady's lowest over his past 101 games and sixth lowest among his 198 career starts. Why?
"For one, you've got a guy (LB Ray Lewis) that's been playing ball for 17 years sitting in the middle," Patriots RB Stevan Ridley said. "They're known for defense. They're known for Ray Lewis. They're known for (S) Ed Reed.
The Ravens, though, won't take anything for granted.
"We're dealing with a brilliant quarterback," S Bernard Pollard said. "He can fire that ball to anybody, and they're going to play their tails off for him."
Injury report: Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (hand) and DE Chandler Jones (ankle), injured Sunday, practiced but were limited. Their status for the AFC title game wasn't disclosed. But Ravens DE Arthur Jones, Chandler's brother, expects him to play.
"He's not telling me anything," he said. "I think he's going to be out there. He's a hard worker, and I know he's getting treatment on it hard."
Meanwhile, RB Bernard Pierce and LB Brendon Ayanbadejo sat out Ravens practice. Pierce aggravated a right knee injury against the Broncs but pledged to play. The injury for Ayanbadejo, Baltimore's leading tackler on special teams, was not disclosed.
Confident Raven: Speaking in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, Baltimore veteran WR Anquan Boldin replied quickly when asked what makes him believe Sunday's AFC title game will be different after falling short a year ago to the Patriots: "Because we'll make it different. We're going to win."
By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
USF at Rutgers
When/where: 9; Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J.
TV/radio: ESPN2; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM
Records: USF 9-6, 0-3 Big East; Rutgers 11-4, 2-2
Notable: USF is the only Big East team without a conference win, hurt by rebounding issues. … Guard-heavy Rutgers' top scorers are sophomores Eli Carter (16.1 ppg) and Myles Mack (13), who are the Big East's top free-throw shooters at 89 and 92 percent, respectively. … USF has had solid defensive play from its guards but ranks last in the Big East in assists and is second-to-last in steals. … One statistic where point guard Anthony Collins and shooting guard Martino Brock can make a difference: Rutgers is last in the Big East in turnover margin.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
No. 10 Florida at Texas A&M
When/where: 7; Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
TV/radio: ESPN2; 620-AM
Records: Florida 12-2, 2-0 SEC; Texas A&M 12-3, 2-0
Notable: This will be the fourth meeting between the programs and the first since TAMU joined the SEC. The Gators beat the Aggies by 20 in the Orange Bowl Classic last season. … TAMU enters fresh off a victory over Kentucky at Rupp Arena. And the sold-out crowd will be treated to a halftime honoring the football team, including an appearance by Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. … Senior G Elston Turner scored 40 against Kentucky and is averaging 17.1.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
By Times staff, wires
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — San Diego State is staying in the Mountain West and backing out on the Big East, just as Boise State did last month.
San Diego State, a founding member of the Mountain West, had committed to join the Big East for football only, along with Boise State, starting next season. The Aztecs' other teams were going to compete in the Big West.
Recent defections from the Big East caused Boise State to reconsider and strike a deal to stay put. Without a western partner, San Diego State retreated, too.
Unlike Boise State, San Diego State is not on the hook for an exit fee because Boise State left first. San Diego State becomes the third school in the past 16 months to leave the Big East before ever actually joining. TCU did the same, reneging on a commitment to join the league in 2012 and instead accepting an invite from the Big 12.
The move leaves the Big East with 10 football members instead of the planned 12.
UF freshman arrested
GAINESVILLE — Florida offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker was arrested Wednesday and is facing charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, a third-degree felony. Dunker was also cited for driving with a suspended license, a second-degree misdemeanor.
According to a University Police Department report, Dunker was pulled over near Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for riding on a scooter without a motor vehicle tag. The scooter had previously been reported stolen. Dunker originally drew an officer's attention because he was traveling too close to another vehicle.
He was booked into the Alachua County Jail at 12:01 p.m. but denied he had stolen the scooter when he was arrested.
A freshman from Boynton Beach who enrolled in January 2012, Dunker redshirted this past season and was expected to compete for a starting job this year.
"Coach (Will Muschamp) is aware of the incident," UF spokesman Steve McClain said. "He is on the road recruiting and will address it when he returns."
BULLS HIRING: USF coach Willie Taggart is expected to announce the hiring of former Tennessee and South Carolina assistant David Reaves as his receivers coach. Reaves, 32, worked this past year at IMG Academy in Bradenton after two seasons on New Mexico's coaching staff.
GEORGIA: Sophomore tailback Ken Malcome, who began the season as a starter before being passed on the depth chart, plans to transfer.
VIRGINIA: Sophomore defensive tackle Chris Brathwaite, a backup who had 41 tackles and a team-high 10 tackles for loss, was declared ineligible and is no longer enrolled at the university.
WEST VIRGINIA: Tony Gibson was named safeties coach. He spent the past season as safeties coach at Arizona under ex-Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez.
Times staff writers Antonya English and Greg Auman contributed to this report.
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
TAMPA — Derek Jeter stopped to field the question, but the answer was obvious Wednesday night in how he walked — briskly and limp-free — down the red carpet for his Turn 2 Foundation event at the Seminole Hard Rock.
How is his fractured left ankle?
"Great," he said. "The leg is good. How's it look?"
The Yankees shortstop, injured dramatically in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series, said he considers himself on schedule in recovery from Oct. 20 surgery to return for the April 1 opener. "Why not?"
Jeter, 38, shed the protective boot just after Christmas and has been limited to pool treadmill work thus far, with running a pending test. He said he has been cleared for baseball activities but doesn't typically start until late January anyway. "In terms of baseball activities I'm right where I need to be," he said.
Wednesday's event kicked off his 10th annual golf classic, benefiting the foundation, which funds youth-related programs in Tampa, New York and his hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich. Among those supporting the cause Wednesday were Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer, new Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez and actor Kevin Connelly.
"This is great," Jeter said. "In order for us to have our foundation and be productive with our foundation we need support from the community, and we've got that here, and obviously in New York and Michigan, too."
Jeter isn't much of a golfer anyway, but he will have to make one concession to the injury at Friday's event: "I'm just putting."
Rays in on Farnsworth: The Rays are among finalists for free-agent reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who spent the past two seasons in their bullpen, going 6-7, 2.76 with 25 saves in 97 appearances. Farnsworth, 36, is expected to decide in the next few days.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
A-Rod has Hip Surgery, out Until Break
NEW YORK — Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, 37, had successful surgery to repair torn cartilage and an impingement in his left hip Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined until after the All-Star break.
Dr. Bryan Kelly said the procedure "went as planned and without complication." A-Rod is expected to be released from the hospital today, and the anticipated recovery time is six months.
Kelly said the impingement was caused by genes, not by steroids. Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used steroids while with the Rangers from 2001-03.
A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez had right hip surgery on March 9, 2009, and returned that May 8. Kelly said the left hip requires more recovery time because Rodriguez is a right-handed hitter and rotates it when he swings.
The team signed free agent Kevin Youkilis last month to play third while A-Rod is out.
More Yankees: Right-hander Phil Hughes agreed to a $7.15 million, one-year contract, a raise of $3.75 million, and avoided salary arbitration.
Nats deal bat to M's, A's get ex-Ray Jaso
The Nationals traded power-hitting Michael Morse to the Mariners in a three-team deal that moved former Rays catcher John Jaso from Seattle to the A's.
The Nationals reacquired pitching prospect A.J. Cole, dealt to Oakland 13 months ago in a trade for Gio Gonzalez. Washington also got pitcher Blake Treinen and a player to be named. Morse hit .291 with 18 HRs and 62 RBIs in an injury-plagued season. Jaso, 29, hit .276 with 10 HRs and 50 RBIs. He became expendable when Seattle made acquisitions that shift Jesus Montero from a catcher/DH split to primarily behind the plate.
More transactions: The Orioles extended the contracts of executive VP Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter through 2018. … The Phillies signed right-handed pitchers Aaron Cook, Juan Cruz and Rodrigo Lopez to minor-league deals. … Jays left-hander Darren Oliver, 42 but coming off a career-low ERA of 2.06 last season, plans to pitch a 20th major-league season after Toronto recently exercised his $3 million option. Also, right-hander Alan Farina, who pitched for Class A Dunedin last year, was suspended for 50 games for a second violation of minor-league baseball's drug program.
Storm to hold tryouts
The Tampa Bay Storm will hold a one-day open tryout at 9 a.m. Jan. 26 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Preregistration runs until noon Jan. 25 and can be done online (tampabaystorm.com) for $60. Registration on the day of the tryout begins at 8 a.m. and costs $70.
greyhounds: Lily Rose and Venus Espinosa won semifinal races in the $10,000 Matinee Idol Stakes at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. Other dogs to advance to Monday's finale: Ed N Edmundo, Flyin Pink Floyd, Kiowa Jordan Doc, Lk's Now R Never, No Inflation and Paint Miapicture.
Skiing: Two-time overall alpine champ Bode Miller, 35, will skip the rest of this World Cup season to rest his surgically repaired knee.
Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires
By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
ESTERO — The puck moved as if laser-guided from blue line to faceoff circle, across the ice, to the slot and into the net.
Bang, bang, bang, three quick passes from Sami Salo to Steven Stamkos to Marty St. Louis to Teddy Purcell.
"That's the way it should be," Stamkos said of the Lightning power play. "We should be able to make quick plays."
"We know we have the personnel to have a top-five power play in the league. We're not going to accept anything less."
And yet there is this: Despite powerful offensive forces such as Stamkos, St. Louis, Purcell, Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay's power play last season ranked 25th in the 30-team league at 15.2 percent.
Lecavalier believes it might have cost the team up to 10 points last season, when it missed the playoffs by eight.
With that in mind, the Lightning on Wednesday at Germain Arena worked for 40 minutes on a revamped power play that added play-making defensemen Salo and Matt Carle and used four forwards — Stamkos, St. Louis, Purcell and Malone — on the first unit in a looser system more dependent on player savvy than rigid structure.
"We tried to dumb it down a little bit and let guys read off their creativity," Stamkos said. "It worked really well."
There were plenty of reasons the power play floundered most of last season.
Without a true quarterback, it sometimes had trouble simply entering and setting up in the offensive zone.
Tampa Bay also lacked a right-handed shot from the blue line, which limited shooting and passing angles.
Finally, the Lightning might simply have been too structured.
"We were trying to come up with so many different plays other than making the reads," Stamkos added.
The result: a power play with just four goals combined in five-on-three and four-on-three situations compared to 16 in 2010-11, when the power play was sixth in the league at 20.8 percent.
"It was hard to take," coach Guy Boucher said.
"But that's okay. In years when you are humbled, it makes you realize what your weaknesses and strengths are. Right now, we're in a good spot to attack the year."
Steve Thomas, the Lightning's player development coach who scored 106 of his 421 NHL goals on the power play, is lending expertise.
Though Boucher calls the power play "my baby," he said he welcomes the input.
"The players trust him," Boucher said. "I trust him."
Then there are Salo and Carle, who practiced on the No. 1 and 2 units, respectively.
"Just terrific passers and terrific vision," Boucher said.
On the day's best goal, Salo, whose big right-handed shot has helped him to 55 power-play goals during his 13-year career, passed from the blue line to Stamkos at the left faceoff circle. Stamkos' cross-ice feed went to St. Louis, who found Purcell in the slot for the goal.
"They're going to bring a lot of poise," Lecavalier said of Salo and Carle. "They're going to make that first pass that's going to make the entry easier. Just to get those guys to slow everything down and keep it in the zone, they're huge to the power play."
"Hopefully," Purcell said, "it's going to win a lot of games."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.