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    By Brent Gaskill, Times Correspondent
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    What's hot: Action from sheepshead is improving. The fish have begun to move down the bay toward the Gulf passes, feeding aggressively in route. Sheepshead are crustacean eaters, so shrimp and fiddler crabs are top bait selections. Freshly-shucked oyster meat or live barnacles threaded on the hook can also be highly effective.

    Tips: Sheepshead congregate in areas holding their favorite foods. Heavily encrusted dock pilings, bridges, jetties, natural rocky bottoms and artificial reefs will attract sheepshead. Many of these structures offer land-based anglers an equal opportunity as those fishing from boats.

    Technique: Sheepshead have a reputation as bait stealers. It's usually the undersized fish that sneak off with bait. The larger fish strike with a distinct thump and the hook should be set when the weight of the fish is felt on the line. Many consider a sweet fillet of sheepshead tastier than grouper.

    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 Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, January 21, 2013


    USF women at Seton Hall

    When/where: 7; Walsh Gymnasium, South Orange, N.J.

    Radio: 1010-AM

    Records: USF 12-5, 1-3 Big East; Seton Hall 7-11, 2-3

    Notable: USF has never lost to Seton Hall since joining the Big East. It's a road win the Bulls should be able to get, with an RPI of 64 and Seton Hall at 221. … USF has two of the Big East's top five scorers in twin guards Andrea and Andrell Smith, averaging 18.2 and 16.7 points. … Seton Hall is the Big East's worst-shooting team at 35 percent from the field. Brittany Morris leads the team at 12.5 points per game. … USF is coming off a home loss; a foul with 0.3 seconds left and the score tied allowed Villanova to hit the winning free throws Saturday. … USF likely needs a winning record in Big East play to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so lighter road games like this become must-wins.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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    Times wires
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Li Na advanced to the Australian Open semifinals for the third time in four years, bringing fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska's 13-match winning streak to a shuddering halt.

    Sixth-seeded Li, who lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters months before her Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open, had a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Radwanska in today's first match on Rod Laver Arena.

    "She's a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall," Li said. "She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. I was feeling just very tough. You have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot."

    Radwanska came into the Australian Open with titles this season at Auckland and Sydney, where she beat Li in the semifinals, but she continued her poor subpar results in Grand Slam quarterfinals. She has advanced further once in seven tries, at Wimbledon last year when she lost the final to Serena Williams.

    Sixth-seeded Li will play the winner of today's all-Russian quarterfinal between No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, who conceded only five games in her first four matches at Melbourne Park, and Ekaterina Makarova.

    "At least now I'm in the semis," Li said. Sharapova "has to play, so … right? Now I can start now to enjoy my day. She has to fight, yeah. So that's better."

    The quarterfinals on the other half of the draw will feature American teenager Sloane Stephens against Serena Williams, who is aiming for a third consecutive major title, and defending champion Victoria Azarenka against two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

    With a comeback 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 win over Bojana Jovanovski on Monday, Stephens qualified for her first quarterfinal at a major. Williams has already played at that level 34 times.

    Earlier this month, Williams beat Stephens, 19, in straight sets at the Brisbane International.

    "It will be tough, obviously. It's quarters of a Grand Slam," Stephens said. "There won't be that, like, first time, 'Oh, my God, I'm playing Serena.' That's kind of out of the window now. So that's good."

    Williams and Azarenka advanced Monday, losing just four games between them against Russian rivals. Williams beat No. 14 Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0, and Azarenka defeated Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1.

    On the men's side, No. 2 Roger Federer and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray stayed on course for a semifinal in their half of the draw.

    Federer won 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 over big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, advancing to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the 35th consecutive time. Murray took advantage of Gilles Simon's fatigue for a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory.

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    Times wires
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan sprained his left shoulder in the closing minutes of the NFC Championship Game and won't be able to play in Sunday's Pro Bowl.

    Coach Mike Smith says Ryan will need three to four weeks to recover from the injury, which was described as a sprained AC joint to the non-throwing shoulder. No surgery is required.

    Ryan was hurt just after the two-minute warning against the 49ers. On a 5-yard pass that Jason Snelling took down to the San Francisco 10, linebacker Ahmad Brooks got a shot on the Atlanta quarterback. Ryan's next two passes were incomplete, sealing the 49ers' 28-24 victory and a berth in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 against Baltimore.

    Smith says Ryan would've played in the Super Bowl if the Falcons had beaten the 49ers and advanced.

    Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson replaces Ryan on the NFC squad for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

    TALIB UNSURE: Former Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib, who was acquired by New England this season and left Sunday's AFC Championship Game with a hamstring injury, said he has enjoyed his time with the Patriots but doesn't know what's ahead with unrestricted free agency looming. "I'm still a Patriot," Tampa Bay's former first-round draft choice told ESPN. "Free agency doesn't start 'til March, so until then I'm still a Patriot and just enjoying my time."

    CARDINALS: New coach Bruce Arians hired Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, Harold Goodwin as offensive coordinator and Tom Moore as assistant head coach/offense.

    JAGUARS: New coach Gus Bradley is keeping two assistants from previous regimes, Mark Duffner (linebackers) and Jerry Sullivan (receivers).

    PRO BOWL: The AFC added Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, Miami's Richie Incognito and Randy Starks, Denver's Zane Beadles and Demaryius Thomas, Houston's Owen Daniels and three Bills — C.J. Spiller, Kyle Williams and Jairus Byrd. They either replace injured players or members of the Ravens who are playing in the Super Bowl. Along with Seattle's Wilson, Atlanta's Thomas DeCoud and William Moore and Green Bay's Josh Sitton were added for the NFC.

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    Times wires
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — O.J. Brigance is going back to the Super Bowl with the Ravens, a model of toughness and perseverance.

    On Sunday, confined to a wheelchair as he battles Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the former Baltimore linebacker presented the Lamar Hunt trophy to the team after it beat New England 28-13 for the AFC championship on Sunday.

    Using a communication device that translates his thoughts, Brigance, now a senior adviser to player development for the Ravens, said:

    "Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens. Your resiliency has outlasted your adversity. You are the AFC Champions. You are my mighty men. With God, all things are possible."

    In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. In his current position, he helps the athletes in all phases of their careers.

    He was part of the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, starring on special teams.

    Now he inspires them.

    "Every day I came out and told O.J. that you're my greatest motivation," said LB Ray Lewis, the only active Raven who played on that championship team, which won Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.

    SLIDE ISSUE: Tom Brady's foot-up slide Sunday did not sit well with Ravens S Bernard Pollard. In the final minute of the first half, Brady slid to end an impromptu run. The quarterback's upraised leg hit onrushing Ravens S Ed Reed, who was not injured. Pollard said Brady should be disciplined by the league, which levies fines on defensive players for helmet-to-helmet hits.

    CALDWELL STAYS PUT: Jim Caldwell will remain the Ravens' offensive coordinator next season. Caldwell moved from quarterbacks coach Dec. 9 after coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron, and a sluggish offense improved.

    RATINGS DIP: TV viewership for the conference title games was down from last season. The 2012 AFC title game on CBS in the early slot drew 48.7 million viewers; Sunday's game had 47.7 million viewers in the late slot. Last year's Giants-49ers NFC title game on Fox was watched by 57.6 million people in the late slot; Sunday's 49ers-Falcons game was seen by 42 million in the early slot.

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    By Rodney Page, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, January 21, 2013


    For those who dressed in their best knickers, ties and Gatsby caps, Monday's third annual U.S. Professional Hickory Golf Championship was the way the game was meant to be played. • Titanium, big head drivers with steel shafts? Belly putters with oversized blades? Please. Those clubs are for hacks. • Try hitting hickory shafted clubs with sweet spots the size of a pea. Tee up composite balls with soft, rubber-band centers. That's what the 27 players at historic Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club did at the only professional hickory golf tournament staged in the United States.

    Hickory clubs and composite balls were popular from 1895-1927, giving the tournament the feel of a 1913 club championship rather than 2013.

    "It appeals to a person with an historical sense of the game," said Mike Stevens, tournament director and head professional at MacDill Golf Course in Tampa. "It's how the game was originally played in this country, with wooden shafts and on older golf courses."

    Paolo Quirici, a 45-year-old club professional and former PGA Europe player from Lugano, Switzerland, shot the low round of the day, 2-over-par 74. He beat out Richard Bullock and John McCann by one shot.

    Quirici has been playing with the hickory clubs since September. He is in Florida for the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando and found out about the tournament through an Internet search.

    The search paid off when he won the $1,500 first prize. The tournament had a $5,000 purse, the same amount offered at the 1925 Florida Open played at Temple Terrace.

    "I really love it," Quirici said of the hickory clubs. "It's nice to be able to come over here and play. I enjoyed it a lot."

    That's not to say hickory golf is for everybody. Those who like to bomb the ball 300 yards would probably hate trying to play with hickory. The older clubs are much less forgiving, with smaller club faces and flexible shafts.

    "It's a whole other world," said Mike Henderson, who played Monday and also collects and provides hickory clubs for others. "It's how golf used to be. Golf used to be about technique and not the equipment. Technology has made it about the equipment. The people who do this want to go back to skill and technique. They don't want distance and power to determine who is the best golfer.

    "All you need is one good shot with these clubs and you're hooked."

    There is a niche of golfers who are hooked on hickory golf. The Hickory Golf Association holds tournaments throughout the United States and abroad. At Monday's event, players ranged in age from 22 to 70.

    "I started two years ago in this tournament," said Bullock, 70, of Clearwater. "I shot a 92. Much better this time. I found out these clubs are much, much different than what you're used to hitting. It takes some getting used to."

    Last year's winner, Eddie Peckels, is a 26-year-old club pro at Tuscawilla Country Club in Winter Springs. He spends most of his days trying to qualify for regular tournaments. But when he picked up a hickory club for the first time, no convincing was needed.

    "Last year was my first year ever doing it and I had a blast," Peckels said. "I'm a competitive golfer, and I think this is something every competitive golfer should do.

    "This game was a lot different back in the early 1900s."

    For one day, Temple Terrace CC was transformed. The course was built in 1922, when hickory clubs were used exclusively. The layout is the same today as it was 91 years ago.

    That made the course much more forgiving for those using the old equipment. And by all accounts, a swell time was had by all.

    "I'd love to do this a lot more," Peckels said.


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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, January 21, 2013


    Lightning at Hurricanes

    When/where: 7; PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Lightning is 4-2-0 the past two seasons in Raleigh, but is 13-18-4 with seven ties there overall. … Marty St. Louis' 35 goals and 76 points against the Hurricanes are his most against any team. … Carolina C Eric Staal has 29 goals and 31 assists in 53 career games against Tampa Bay.

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  • 01/21/13--20:04: Sports in brief
  • By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer; Don Jensen, Times Correspondent; Times wires
    Monday, January 21, 2013


    charges at um to start with ex-coach haith

    CORAL GABLES — Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith is expected to be charged with unethical conduct and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance this week in the NCAA's investigation into the University of Miami's dealing with former booster Nevin Shapiro, according to reports Monday.

    Haith was UM's coach from 2004-2011. Three of his former assistants — Jake Morton, Jorge Fernandez and Michael Schwartz — are also expected to be charged.

    CBSSports.com reported the NCAA could not prove Shapiro's claim that Haith or a member of his Miami staff paid $10,000 to the family of former Hurricanes player DeQuan Jones, but Haith will face the unethical conduct charge because of inconsistencies the NCAA found in his account of Jones' recruitment.

    Michael Buckner, a Haith attorney, said until Haith receives a notice of allegations from the NCAA, the report is premature.

    Shapiro said he gave Miami athletes in different sports impermissible benefits over eight years. Football coach Al Golden has said no surprises are expected in the NCAA's findings.

    The investigation started in 2011. When the NCAA presents the athletic department with its notice of allegations, it will begin the sanctions phase, which could take months.


    Francisco leaves Rays for Indians

    OF Ben Francisco, who seemed more like a fallback plan for the Rays this season, agreed to a minor-league deal with the Indians.

    Francisco, 31, was acquired by the Rays from Houston on Aug. 31 to provide a right-handed outfield option. He hit .228 with two homers, eight RBIs and a .691 OPS in 24 games.

    The Indians also agreed to terms with INF/OF Ryan Raburn, the Durant High product who was let go by Detroit after a rough season.

    Mets: LHP Pedro Feliciano is returning to the team, which settled its arbitration case with 1B Ike Davis. The Mets said Feliciano, 36, agreed to a minor-league contract after two injury-plagued seasons with the Yankees. If added to the 40-man roster, he would get a $1 million, one-year contract. Davis, who hit .227 with 32 homers and 90 RBIs last season, gets $3,125,000.

    Rangers: OF David Murphy agreed to a one-year contract worth $5,775,000. Murphy hit .304 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs in 147 games last year. He was sixth in the AL with a .380 on-base percentage.

    Musial service: A public visitation for Stan Musial will be Thursday at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, with a funeral Mass on Saturday. The Cardinals Hall of Famer died Saturday at age 92 after several years of declining health.


    Donovan to rejoin Galaxy this season

    Landon Donovan will return to the Los Angeles Galaxy for the upcoming MLS season. It's undecided when he resumes playing.

    Donovan wasn't at the team's first practice Monday, when coach Bruce Arena said the Galaxy captain has been given more time off.

    Donovan turns 31 on March 4, a day after the Galaxy's season opener.

    et cetera

    Greyhounds: Lily Rose of Floyd & Porter kennel won the $10,000 Matinee Idol Stakes at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. Trained by Liz Dunnuck for owner Randy Floyd, Lily Rose ($7.80) clocked 550 yards in 30.62 seconds. Flyin Pink Floyd and No Inflation were next.

    Marc Topkin, Times staff writer; Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires

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    Times staff, wires
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. — With the score tied and the clock ticking down in the final minute, Syracuse's Jerami Grant drove the lane, and when his shot didn't fall arms flailed all around the rim trying to corral the ball.

    Somehow, it trickled in with 19.4 seconds left, and the No. 3 Orange escaped with a 57-55 victory over No. 21 Cincinnati on Monday, its second scintillating win in three days.

    "We didn't want to lose," said Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams, whose 3-pointer from the top of the key tied it at 55 with 80 seconds left. "None of us like losing. We wanted to do anything to win that game. We picked up our intensity and our energy. We should have found that in the first half."

    Syracuse (18-1, 6-0 Big East) trailed by seven with just more than 5 minutes left but rallied for the victory in the final minute just as it had at then-No. 1 Louisville on Saturday in a 70-68 win. Carter-Williams' steal and slam dunk put the lid on that victory over the Cardinals.

    "Louisville was a tough, gritty game. We're banged-up and sore," Carter-Williams said. "To come back one day later and beat Cincinnati is a great feeling."

    The Bearcats (16-4, 4-3) had won three straight.

    G'TOWN 63, NO. 24 NOTRE DAME 47: Otto Porter scored 19 for the visiting Hoyas, and the Fighting Irish (15-4, 3-3 Big East) lost for the third time in four games and set a season low for points.

    SAVANNAH ST. 43, B-CU 40: Preston Blackman hit two free throws with 2 seconds left to lift the host Tigers over the Wildcats (7-13, 2-3 MEAC).

    FAMU 89, S.C. STATE 77: Jamie Adams had 28 points as the visiting Rattlers (5-14, 2-3 MEAC) snapped an eight-game skid.

    Bulls G may not return

    USF senior guard Shaun Noriega, out for the past six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot, may not play again this season, coach Stan Heath said, though the former starter would be eligible for a medical redshirt.

    "I don't know if Shaun's going to return," Heath said. "He's still not ready to go. We've used so much time that I don't know if, by the time he got ready to go, it would help him. We're going to look at different scenarios for him and talk about different things."

    Complicating matters, sophomore guard Musa Abdul-Aleem, whose delayed arrival due to his own foot injury had coincided with Noriega's injury, is out again with back problems and has not played in USF's past two games.

    NO. 14 OHIO STATE: Coach Thad Matta agreed to a revised contract which will give him a 10 percent increase to more than $3.2 million annually and includes academic bonuses and more stringent wording about NCAA violations.

    NO. 22 MISSOURI: Leading scorer Laurence Bowers will likely miss his fourth game tonight against South Carolina. The senior forward has been rehabbing a sprained right knee he injured Jan. 5 against Alabama.

    AP POLL: Duke is No. 1 after dropping from the top spot for one week. No. 25 Miami is one of four newcomers, along with No. 20 Wichita State, No. 21 Cincinnati and No. 23 Mississippi. They replace San Diego State, Illinois, UCLA and Marquette.


    NO. 3 UCONN 79, NO. 4 DUKE 49: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 as the host Huskies (17-1) routed the Blue Devils (16-1), who were the last unbeaten team in Division I.

    NO. 8 PENN ST. 59, NO. 23 MICHIGAN 49: Maggie Lucas scored 19 for the visiting Lions (15-2, 5-0), who snapped a tie with the Wolverines (15-3, 4-1) for first place in the Big Ten.

    AP POLL: Baylor remains No.  1 for a third straight week. Michigan State entered the poll at No. 25 while Kansas fell out.

    Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    MOBILE, Ala. — Whether he's a good fit for a team like the Bucs is debatable, but one intriguing prospect at the Senior Bowl is BYU defensive end Ezekial Ansah.

    Besides being a tremendous player, Ansah has a remarkable personal story. He emigrated from Ghana in 2008 and was introduced to football in 2010, after two years on the track and field team.

    With a breakout season in 2012, Ansah is being billed as a possible first-round pick, one with immense upside given his lack of experience.

    "I started learning (football) in 2010 and I really only started playing (in 2011)," Ansah said. "I have a whole bunch of stuff to learn. Hopefully I'll be able to get it right."

    Giving him pro coaching this week will help give teams a sense of whether he can adapt to the complex NFL game, but Ansah is sharp. He's majoring in statistics because, he said, "I just love math."

    Ansah is exactly the kind of player who can benefit greatly from a good week.

    TURNING PRO: The biggest crowd Monday was generated by Alabama coach Nick Saban, fresh off his national championship victory two weeks ago. He visited the South team practice to check up on five of his former players.

    The one-time Dolphins coach was asked about the jump of Oregon coach Chip Kelly to the Eagles last week — the second such move in the past year after Bucs coach Greg Schiano's departure from Rutgers.

    "I think he'll do just fine in the NFL," Saban said. "I think when college guys go to the NFL, how you bring players to your team is different (and) how you manage your squad is a little different to how you manage younger players. But being able to do that and make that transition and still be able to develop your players, I think, is a real key to being successful."

    Saban wasn't exactly that. He went 15-17 with the Dolphins in 2005-06.

    BUCS IN TOWN: General manager Mark Dominik was joined by Schiano, who arrived in the early evening. They'll watch practices today and, perhaps, continue working to fill the defensive backs coaching position that remains vacant. The team was well into its prospect interviews Monday evening and will continue those all week.

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    MOBILE, Ala. — The scenario is familiar: A Florida State quarterback finishes a mixed career, debate ensues about his NFL draft prospects, then he arrives at the Senior Bowl and does nothing but boost his stock.

    That worked pretty well for Christian Ponder in 2011, who parlayed an MVP performance in the game into a first-round selection. Soon we'll see how it turns out for his successor, EJ Manuel.

    The outgoing Seminoles quarterback on Monday took the first step in trying to convince pro teams he's the man to run their huddles, embracing the challenge in the first day of workouts ahead of Saturday's game.

    But there are questions.

    Can he read well-disguised NFL coverages? Will he find the consistency that eluded him during his career in Tallahassee? That remains to be seen, which is why this week is so critical.

    "It's about proving what you can do," Manuel said. "I think a lot of scouts already know what you can do. They know I can throw. They know I can run. My main thing is to come out here and be consistent every day in practice."

    With the draft three months away, there isn't a consensus on Manuel. Some scouts think he can be an effective starting quarterback, while others have doubts.

    Either way, Manuel has some key attributes in his favor.

    One firm handshake reinforces what is obvious: He is massive, measuring 6 feet, 43/8 inches and 237 pounds at Monday's weigh-in. With broad shoulders and large muscles, his physique resembles 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — whose next game will be the Super Bowl.

    "I think my size kind of speaks for itself," Manuel said.

    His impressive athleticism won't hurt, either. He is among the most athletic quarterbacks in the country, even if he didn't try to use those skills as a runner much in 2012. Making a greater effort to stay in the pocket, he finished the season with 46 rushes for 186 yards.

    But Manuel is not trying to deemphasize his running ability, not with the success of pro quarterbacks like Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and others.

    "When I watch those guys play on TV, I'm rooting for them because I feel like I'm in the same mold as them," Manuel said. "But it's not that they're just beating guys with their feet. They're throwing the ball great, too. … I just hope I can fall into the same mold."

    It's important to note Manuel finished his career as FSU's most accurate passer, completing 67.7 percent of his attempts.

    And in a day when many college quarterbacks play exclusively from the shotgun and in spread formations, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher often had Manuel under center and in pro-style formations.

    "He's in a good position because he's got a good background," said Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, part of the staff coaching Manuel's South team.

    "I'm somewhat familiar with some of the things they do with Coach Fisher from when he was at LSU, and it translates well to the NFL. (Manuel) has got a good background of a really pro-style offense (that includes) the typical stuff that dropback teams do and then the spread stuff you see from the kind of new-age football we're seeing right now."

    How much will that help? Can Manuel win over NFL clubs? The answers come later. But they'll be based, in part, on what Manuel does during this crucial week.

    Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, January 21, 2013

    UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Stop it, Ryan Malone said.

    Don't even try to suggest there is some kind of weird Bizarro World kind of vibe that overtakes the Lightning when it plays at Nassau Coliseum.

    "I'm not going to focus on the building or the team," the Tampa Bay left wing said. "It has nothing to do with it."

    Then how do you explain the Lightning's lack of recent success against the Islanders in their barn — or should we just call it the black hole?

    After Monday's 4-3 loss, Tampa Bay has lost four straight there while being outscored 16-6.

    Remember, we're talking about the Islanders, who haven't been to the playoffs since 2007.

    "The most awful games we've played the last two years are here," coach Guy Boucher said. "Why? I don't know."

    Tampa Bay (1-1-0) even tried fighting its way out of the slump as on the opening faceoff B.J. Crombeen took on Matt Martin and Pierre-Cedric Labrie tangled with Joe Finley.

    The Lightning did make it interesting, coming back from 4-0 down in the third period with a goal by Marty St. Louis, his third of the season, and two in 34 seconds by Ben Pouliot and Steven Stamkos to cut the deficit to one with 12:00 left.

    "We showed character again," Stamkos said. "We know we're a team that's never going to quit, but there are cases of too little too late and this is one of them."

    Actually, it was a case of hanging Anders Lindback out to dry.

    The goaltender made 40 saves as the Islanders had a 44-26 shot advantage, including 16-8 in the second period when they scored three times and the Lightning lost sight of its game plan.

    Instead of shooting the puck, Boucher said players tried "to skill it up through the neutral zone, at their blue line. We were just trying to find guys when there was no space. We were just stubborn and stubborn."

    Worse, too many players low in the offensive zone and poor defensive zone coverage sprung New York on odd-man rushes. In the second period, Michael Grabner and Matt Martin scored on breakaways (Martin came out of the penalty box) and Kyle Okposo scored on a two-on-one.

    Lindback took the blame for the fourth goal, saying he cheated to cover what he expected to be a back-door pass as David Ullstrom roofed a wrist shot.

    Even so, Lindback was the only reason Tampa Bay had a chance.

    "You can't win when you have to ask your goalie to make save after save on three-on-twos and two-on-ones," Stamkos said. "They had three or four breakaways. That's unacceptable."

    More bad news for the Lightning: it visits the Coliseum again on April 6.

    View Damian Cristodero's blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.

    Islanders 0 3 1 4
    Lightning 0 0 3 3

    First PeriodNone. PenaltiesMalone, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), :01; Crombeen, TB, major (fighting), :01; Labrie, TB, major (fighting), :01; McDonald, NYI (unsportsmanlike conduct), :01; Finley, NYI, major (fighting), :01; Martin, NYI, major (fighting), :01; Brewer, TB (delay of game), :55; Ullstrom, NYI (high-sticking), 6:53; Carkner, NYI (interference), 14:04.

    Second Period1, N.Y. Islanders, Grabner 1 (Streit, Nabokov), 6:50 (pp). 2, N.Y. Islanders, Martin 1 (Tavares), 16:23. 3, N.Y. Islanders, Okposo 1 (Tavares, Moulson), 17:35. PenaltiesLee, TB (cross-checking), 2:05; Conacher, TB (tripping), 5:14; Brewer, TB (hooking), 5:38; Martin, NYI (holding), 14:16; Aulie, TB (cross-checking), 19:07.

    Third Period4, N.Y. Islanders, Ullstrom 1 (Aucoin, Hamonic), 1:31. 5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 3 (Stamkos, Conacher), 2:22. 6, Tampa Bay, Pouliot 1 (Crombeen, Hall), 7:26. 7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 1 (Conacher, St. Louis), 8:00. PenaltiesThompson, TB (holding), 17:32; Lee, TB (holding), 18:13. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 7-8-11—26. N.Y. Islanders 10-16-18—44. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 3; N.Y. Islanders 1 of 7. GoaliesTampa Bay, Lindback 1-1-0 (44 shots-40 saves). N.Y. Islanders, Nabokov 1-1-0 (26-23). A15,322 (16,234). T2:38. Referees—Dennis LaRue, Mark Lemelin. LinesmenGreg Devorski, Brian Mach.

    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    TAMPA — As good as Anthony Collins has been in finding open teammates for USF, could it be that the key to the Bulls' success in the Big East is getting the sophomore point guard to pass less and shoot more?

    The Bulls (10-7, 1-4) got a spark in Saturday's win against Georgetown when Collins hit a 3-pointer and another shot with his foot on the line on back-to-back possessions to give the Bulls a 43-41 lead; they didn't trail again. Collins had 14 points, all in the second half, and coach Stan Heath said Collins hitting open shots from the perimeter creates a huge advantage for the Bulls.

    "I think Collins has to score the ball for us," Heath said. "I think he's got a true point guard mentality: Get everybody else involved. But I think he understands if things aren't working that way, boy, I better step my game up."

    Much is made of Collins' talent in piling up assists, but the statistics put a direct link between his scoring and USF winning. The Bulls are 9-0 all-time when he scores 14 or more; conversely, USF is 0-5 this season when he scores five or fewer. His ability to drive and draw fouls also goes hand in hand with winning — the Bulls are 7-0 in his two seasons when he takes seven or more free throws.

    "He pretty much is the USF offense," senior F Toarlyn Fitzpatrick said. "He makes our team go on offense. We're trying to get him the ball. He's very hard to contain, and he draws so much attention that he's an outlet for other guys to get open shots. … (When he hits outside shots), that's going to be huge. It forces guys to play him honest … if he's making them, you have to put some type of pressure on him. If you get too close to him, he's going to go right around (you)."

    CLOSE TIES: Leading up to the Super Bowl, you'll read about USF football coach Willie Taggart's close ties to the Harbaugh family, but Heath also knows the family well. He was an assistant at Michigan State from 1996-99 with current Indiana coach Tom Crean, who is married to Jim and John Harbaugh's sister, Joani, and the brothers followed the Spartans during their run to the 1999 Final Four in St. Petersburg.

    "I met them quite a bit," Heath said. "Especially when we went on the NCAA Tournament runs, the Harbaugh brothers would come around quite a bit, and their dad (Jack) as well, with Joani. They came to support us. It was kind of unique, because Jim Harbaugh was the big-time Michigan quarterback of course, and Michigan and Michigan State have a nice little rivalry. So we kind of let him in, but we had one eye open for him. You look at Tom's team, both the Harbaughs in the Super Bowl, and we've got Willie Taggart. That whole tree is having tremendous success."

    THIS AND THAT: Andrea and Andrell Smith get much of the attention in USF's women's basketball success, but freshman Alisia Jenkins has become a consistent presence inside. She has taken over the team lead at 5.8 rebounds per game, leading the way for a squad that leads the Big East in total rebounds. … USF softball's season opener is fast approaching on Feb. 8, and Ken Eriksen is eager to see freshman Erica Nunn, who adds to USF's outstanding returning pitching depth and will be an everyday bat as well.

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    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    GAINESVILLE — The combination of an 11-2 football season and an aggressive recruiting effort has resulted in several late commitment changes that are helping Florida close out a top-three class with two weeks remaining until national signing day.

    Three highly ranked players have switched to the Gators over the past month, bolstering an already top-five recruiting class and filling critical needs, most notably at wide receiver and linebacker. But it's the late switches that are generating one of the biggest storylines for the Gators right now.

    "The flips went Florida's way this time," said Keith Niebuhr, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com. "Sometimes, they don't, and this time they did. Matt Rolin flipped, Alex Anzalone, DeMarcus Robinson flipped. And those guys are really centerpieces of this class."

    Rolin, a consensus four-star linebacker, was committed to South Carolina but in early December flipped to the Gators, stunning the Gamecocks. He later Tweeted: "Going back on my word is something I never imagined myself doing, and it hurts me to do it, but in the end I have to do what's best for me."

    Robinson, a 6-foot-1 wide receiver, flipped from Clemson at the last minute. Anzalone, a 6-3 five-star linebacker, was preparing to enroll at Notre Dame before the Fighting Irish lost in the BCS title game and coach Brian Kelly interviewed for an NFL head coaching job. So one day before the deadline to enroll at UF for the spring semester, Anzalone flipped.

    All three have enrolled at UF. Rolin and Anzalone, along with UF commitments Daniel McMcMillan, James Hearns and Quinton Powell, are expected to comprise what recruiting analysts are calling one of the best classes of linebackers in the nation.

    "It's just aggressive recruiting," Niebuhr said. "Florida has kids, even when they are committed to other schools, they didn't give up. … D.J. Durkin recruited Rolin, and he is once again making his mark as an elite recruiter at the college level."

    For Florida coach Will Muschamp, who struggled on the recruiting trail his first season because he didn't officially take over until January 2011, two years has made a big difference.

    "Recruiting is all about relationships you develop with people," Muschamp said. "Going back to my first year here, how difficult it was to get in the door with some guys, because recruiting now is so early. You're talking about seeing sophomores and you're developing those relationships with the people that are going to make the decision, and you're coming in here in a two-month period to try and talk to a kid about coming to a great place, but they don't know you. It is about the relationships you develop with people. To me that is the most important thing."

    The Gators have a total of 27 oral commitments and early enrollees (eight) and are currently ranked No. 1 with Rivals and ESPN. Florida's composite score of all the services, as compiled by 247Sports.com, is No. 3.

    The Gators remain in the battle for the consensus No. 1 player, Loganville, Ga., defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who visited Gainesville this past weekend. The 6-4, 282-pound Nkemdiche is a former Clemson commitment who reopened his recruitment in November. Florida, LSU and Ole Miss are now considered his finalists.

    Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

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    By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    To sum it all up, this is what the former Raiders receivers have to say about a Super Bowl that has been over for 10 years.


    Also, waah.

    And furthermore, waaaah.

    Any questions?

    If you have not heard, Tim Brown rattled a lot of cages over the past few days when he suggested, more or less, that the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII because then-Raiders coach Bill Callahan took a dive. Otherwise, the suggestion was, the Bucs wouldn't have won the game 48-21. Who knows? If Oakland had been coached a little better, the Bucs might have won only by about 45-21.

    It was an outrageous accusation, of course. It was silly and absurd and petulant and reckless. It was one of those suggestions you could toss away as soon as you finished laughing.

    And then, Jerry Rice agreed with him.

    And it sounded a little less like it was time for the Wack-a-Doodle Hour on your radio dial.

    Look, I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. I don't care if it's about the Kennedy assassination or the moon landings or whether Manti Te'o might find his next girlfriend in Narnia. Back when the late Bubba Smith was suggesting that Super Bowl III might have been fixed, I was listening to every word.

    This time? The word "hooey" comes to mind.

    Let's see. Callahan was willing to "sabotage" the Super Bowl because he was such good friends with Bucs coach Jon Gruden. Really?

    "We all called it sabotage … because Callahan and Gruden were good friends," Brown said. "And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders.

    "He hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl so his friend can win the Super Bowl."

    Speaking to ESPN, Rice pretty much said "ditto."

    "Maybe because he didn't like the Raiders, he decided, 'Maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,' " Rice said.

    Think about those comments: A football coach has a chance to win a Super Bowl, and he says, "Nah, I'll let the other team win it. And if Gruden wants my wallet and my watch, heck, he can have that, too."

    To buy into that means that you believe that winning a Super Bowl didn't matter to Callahan. His personal legacy — or his paycheck — didn't matter. Celebrating with players he had worked with for four years didn't matter. According to Brown, it was all about this: Just lose, baby.

    For the record, former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon disagreed with his former receivers. Former linebacker Bill Romanowski called it "crap."

    Brown's evidence? He says Callahan changed the game plan on Friday before the Super Bowl. He said the Raiders originally planned to come in behind a powerhouse running attack because their offensive line was bigger than the Bucs' defensive line. Instead, they decided they would throw the ball.

    Perhaps that's true. And perhaps this is, too: If that Raiders team had tried to stop throwing and run the ball against that Bucs team, the Super Bowl might have been even more lopsided.

    In the regular season, the Raiders were the No. 1 passing offense in the league behind Gannon, the 40-year-old Rice and the 36-year-old Brown. Running? They were only 18th in the league. It would have been lunacy for Callahan to abandon the pass and turn his team into a running team for the Super Bowl.

    It is true that the Raiders had a size advantage on their offensive line. Heck, in those days, most teams had a size advantage on the Bucs, who nevertheless were the No. 1 defense in the league. The Raiders had some big linemen, but they were forgettable players such as Frank Middleton and Barry Sims and Mo Collins. The Bucs wouldn't have traded Warren Sapp (or Simeon Rice, for that matter) for the lot of them.

    Now, here's a number for you. During that game, the Raiders ran the ball 11 times. They averaged 1.7 yards per carry. They gained 19 yards.

    In other words, it didn't matter what the game plan was. Sooner or later, the Raiders were going to have to abandon the run and throw, because they were so clearly outmanned. It was 20-3 by the half. It was 34-9 after three quarters.

    In other words, this wasn't a close game that was decided by a coach's blueprint. This was a four-touchdown rout. This game was out of Callahan's hands; it's like the British blaming the defeat at Yorktown on their cook.

    In a way, Brown did Bucs fans a favor. He reminded them just how much fun that Super Bowl was 10 years ago. He reminded them of just how completely that defense smothered a very good offense. He gave them that same feeling of superiority that has been missing since that night.

    In some ways, he let Tampa Bay win that Super Bowl all over again.

    On the other hand, he raised a little blood pressure, too.

    He didn't mean to, he said. Speaking on a radio show that is hosted by Booger McFarland (who was injured for that game) and Rich Herrera on 98.7-FM. Brown said he meant no disrespect to Tampa Bay.

    Brown should know better. He played here in 2004 (more precisely, he fair-caught punts here). He knows what a jewel that trophy was for Bucs fans. For someone to suggest the Bucs didn't win it on the up-and-up is bound to offend some people.

    Oh, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if the Raiders receivers disliked their head coach, and it doesn't matter if they choose to blame him for the loss. Losing players do that all the time.

    In sports, all that matters is the result. And the scoreboard. And the trophy case. Everything else just sounds like a losing team crying.

    Just whine, baby.

    Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013


    No. 8 Florida at Georgia

    When/where: 8; Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.

    TV/radio: Ch. 38; 620-AM

    Records: Florida 14-2, 4-0 SEC; Georgia 7-10, 1-3

    Notable: Florida is on the road for the third time in four games, playing Georgia for the second half of the two-game series. … Florida has been dominating defensively, allowing fewer than 60 points 12 times this season. … Florida and Georgia met in Florida's SEC opener two weeks ago, with the Gators earning a 77-44 victory, but Georgia has won three of the past four in Athens.

    Antonya English, Times staff writer

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    MOBILE, Ala. — Bucs LB Quincy Black is a long way from playing again, based on the latest development in his road back from a neck injury sustained Nov. 11 that required hospitalization.

    Black is scheduled for surgery this month on a damaged nerve, putting his future in more doubt.

    "(Doctors) were waiting to see how much regrowth would happen naturally," GM Mark Dominik said. "This is supposed to promote the growth."

    Black's agent, Harold Lewis, said last month that improvement was slow, but that Black's level of discomfort had at least subsided from "excruciating pain." Lewis said at the time the injury was not considered career-threatening, but doctors don't have a timetable for recovery.

    Right now, Black's not close.

    "Quincy Black is still in the early stages of where he's going to be long-term," Dominik said.

    The Bucs' first concern is Black's health, but eventually they might face business decisions. If Black isn't likely to play in the foreseeable future and the Bucs release him, he would be eligible for $1 million in injury-protection pay in 2013. If his injury impacts his ability to play in 2014, the Bucs could be on the hook for $500,000 more. Those sums do not count against the salary cap.

    Black, who turns 29 next month, has three years remaining on a five-year, $29 million contract. All the guarantees in the deal have been paid.

    STILL AT IT: Monte Kiffin is back, as energetic as ever.

    The longtime Bucs defensive coordinator, recently hired as Cowboys coordinator, stopped by Ladd-Peebles Stadium for Senior Bowl workouts.

    "I love it in Mobile today," he said, with his typical enthusiasm. "The sun is out. I love it. It's just fun to be back and get it going and start scouting some of these players."

    After four years in college working with his son, Lane, at Tennessee and USC, Monte returned to the pros, where he made his mark. The decision wasn't easy.

    "It was good," said Kiffin, who still owns a home in Madeira Beach. "I like college. College is fun."

    But there's something to be said for being back in his most comfortable environment, and for familiar faces. Another former Bucs assistant, Rod Marinelli, has joined Kiffin's Cowboys defensive staff. The two make a good team.

    "He's a knockout," Kiffin said of Marinelli. "We started in 1996 with Tony Dungy. They found him out at Southern Cal, Rich McKay and Jerry Angelo. They said, 'Tony, we need to go out and see this defensive line coach at Southern Cal.'

    "He's just a great ball coach. And besides that, he's just a tremendous person."

    Kiffin, 72, doesn't act his age. Never has. And don't expect that to change.

    "I'm ready to roll," he said.

    CLOSE WATCH: It was no surprise that Bucs coach Greg Schiano spent much of Tuesday's workouts watching defensive backs from the North and South teams. The Bucs ranked last in pass defense and are widely expected to draft at least one cornerback in April.

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    By Matt Santiago, Times Correspondent
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Drumming the docks: Many rivers and residential canals systems in Tampa Bay are flooded with redfish and black drum of all sizes right now. We have been targeting them with much success fishing docks and from the south shore of Tampa Bay to the upper bay. The redfish have been 15-30 inches and provide consistent action and a tasty dinner. The black drum have been mixed in with their redfish cousins and have been in the 10- to 25-inch range with a few larger schools of 15- to 25-pound fish milling around.

    Rig it right: The most productive rig lately has been a 10- to 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader with a size 1 hook with a one-eighth ounce split shot pinched about 6-12 inches up the line. Medium live shrimp have been the ticket but whitebait will work well too. Pitch baits upcurrent of the dock or structure and let them drift toward it as naturally as possible.

    Timing is everything: Use a tide chart or app to plan your day. Fish deep-water docks on the lower parts of the tide and save the shallower dock for when the tide comes up.

    Matt Santiago can be reached at (813) 205-2327, CaptainMattSantiago@gmail.com and FishingGuideTampa.com.

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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The only reason Matt Birk brought his aching knees and battered body to training camp for a 15th NFL season was to get to the Super Bowl.

    Birk, 36, was bothered by neck, elbow and knee injuries during his previous three years with the Ravens, yet he never missed a start. During the offseason, the six-time Pro Bowl center underwent surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs.

    Still, Birk knew Baltimore had a shot at a championship, and he wanted to be a part of it.

    "At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you," Birk said. "I wouldn't have come back if I didn't think there was a legitimate chance that I could help the team."

    Birk, safety Ed Reed and guard Bobbie Williams head a list of longtime veterans who will make their first Super Bowl appearance when the Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3.

    "It means a lot for all the guys to have an opportunity to be a part of that," coach John Harbaugh said. "To be able to be involved with that as a leader is a huge thing. It makes you feel really good, and now you try to make the most of it."

    Birk endured 11 fruitless years in Minnesota, reaching the playoffs five times without a conference title. Then, after joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2009, he was part of three more playoff runs that ended short of the Super Bowl.

    Now, Birk is poised to be part of the NFL's biggest game.

    "It's great, obviously," he said. "That's the goal. That's your dream. That's why you play."

    Maybe Birk deserved it, after everything he went through his first 14 years. But he exudes no such feeling of entitlement.

    "Nobody deserves it more than anybody else. It doesn't matter how long you play," he said. "To be doing it with this team and just, I think, the closeness of this team and kind of the journey that we have been through my four years here — every year getting close and getting close — to finally break through, it's pretty special."

    Reed, 34, has earned nine Pro Bowl invitations in 11 years with Baltimore and has long been recognized as one of the finest free safeties in the game.

    And as a bonus, his first Super Bowl appearance will be in his home state of Louisiana.

    "It's been a long time coming, but it takes time," Reed said. "We've built up to this point."

    The Ravens failed to win the AFC title game in 2008 and 2012 under Harbaugh before finally breaking through.

    SLIDE APOLOGY: Reed said that Patriots QB Tom Brady apologized to him for a feet-up slide during Sunday's AFC Championship Game, in which Baltimore beat New England. Reed told espnboston.com that Brady texted him, then he called Brady.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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