- RSS Channel Showcase 9683618
- RSS Channel Showcase 4027704
- RSS Channel Showcase 8117263
- RSS Channel Showcase 8076304
Articles on this Page
- 01/22/13--19:11: _American teen Steph...
- 01/22/13--19:45: _Payton's suspension...
- 01/22/13--19:47: _Lightning at a loss...
- 01/22/13--19:50: _Irving (40), Cavs s...
- 01/22/13--20:00: _Villanova upends la...
- 01/22/13--20:04: _Bucs GM Dominik kno...
- 01/22/13--20:30: _Lightning defeats C...
- 01/22/13--15:55: _Fishing report for ...
- 01/23/13--10:52: _Eagles senior, Kevi...
- 01/23/13--13:36: _Strawberry Crest gi...
- 01/23/13--14:02: _Hernando County rec...
- 01/23/13--15:28: _Tom Jones: Lightnin...
- 01/23/13--15:39: _Coach Greg Schiano'...
- 01/23/13--16:16: _Captain's Corner: P...
- 01/23/13--17:21: _Sports in brief
- 01/23/13--17:33: _Tenacious Reds get ...
- 01/23/13--17:52: _GM Mark Dominik wan...
- 01/23/13--18:32: _College basketball ...
- 01/23/13--18:50: _PGA meeting hints a...
- 01/23/13--18:58: _NCAA's investigatio...
- 01/22/13--19:11: American teen Stephens knocks out Serena
- 01/22/13--19:45: Payton's suspension ended
- 01/22/13--19:47: Lightning at a loss to figure out Nassau Coliseum losses
- 01/22/13--19:50: Irving (40), Cavs stop Celtics
- 01/22/13--20:00: Villanova upends lackluster Louisville
- 01/22/13--20:04: Bucs GM Dominik knows more retooling needed
- 01/22/13--20:30: Lightning defeats Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on road
- 01/22/13--15:55: Fishing report for east side of Tampa Bay
- 01/23/13--10:52: Eagles senior, Kevin Norstrem, strives for 5 wrestling titles
- 01/23/13--14:02: Hernando County recreation notes for Jan. 24
- 01/23/13--15:28: Tom Jones: Lightning face big homestand
- 01/23/13--15:39: Coach Greg Schiano's college knowledge helps Bucs scout Senior Bowl
- 01/23/13--16:16: Captain's Corner: Permit, pompano converge on warmth of power plant
- 01/23/13--17:21: Sports in brief
- 01/23/13--17:33: Tenacious Reds get 2015 All-Star Game
- 01/23/13--17:52: GM Mark Dominik wants more Bucs in future Pro Bowls
- 01/23/13--18:32: College basketball preview: FSU Seminoles vs. Clemson Tigers
- 01/23/13--18:50: PGA meeting hints at tensions over belly putter
- 01/23/13--18:58: NCAA's investigation of Miami Hurricanes finds problems — with NCAA
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams is out of the Australian Open after losing her quarterfinal match 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens.
Williams hurt her lower back while attempting to pull up short of the net during the eighth game of the second set. She called for a trainer after the ninth game with the score 5-4 and on serve.
Stephens won the second set when Williams, serving slower than usual, was broken. Williams also had her service broken in the final game of the match. She said her back bothered her, but credited Stephens.
At 2-1 and on the way to a changeover in the third set, Williams smashed her racket on the court then threw it toward her chair.
Stephens next will face defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who overcame early jitters to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1.
After dropping serve in a fourth game that went to deuce 10 times, Azarenka dominated the rest of the match against Kuznetsova, a two-time major winner who went in ranked No. 75 as she recovers from a knee injury.
Azarenka's American rapper friend, Redfoo, returned from a concert in Malaysia to attend the match. Wearing a red sleeveless T-shirt that read "Keep Calm and Bring Out the Bottles," the name of his next single, Redfoo stood, clapped and yelled "Come on, Vika!" during the tight first set.
In the men's quarterfinals, 17-time major winner Roger Federer was playing No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a night match and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray was to meet Jeremy Chardy of France.
Novak Djokovic is already through the semifinals after his 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych on Tuesday. He'll meet No. 4-seeded David Ferrer, who survived a battle with fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
NEW YORK — Sean Payton is back as coach of the Saints.
Payton's season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty program was lifted by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, nearly two weeks earlier than expected.
The decision lets Payton attend Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis, and four players including Jonathan Vilma were suspended after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.
"I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations," Payton said in a statement. "Furthermore, I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed."
The suspension was scheduled to end after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, but was moved up after Payton and Goodell met on Monday.
"Coach Payton acknowledged in the meeting his responsibility for the actions of his coaching staff and players and pledged to uphold the highest standards of the NFL and ensure that his staff and players do so as well," Goodell said in a statement.
Payton recently agreed to a contract that runs through the 2017 season at more than $8 million a year.
BRAIN ISSUE: Researchers have discovered images of a protein that causes football-related brain damage in living former players, which could help experts diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients. "It is the holy grail of CTE research to be able to identify those who are suffering from the syndrome early, while they're still alive," said the study's author, Dr. Julian Bailes, director of the Brain Injury Research Institute. CTE was found in dozens of deceased former players, including linebacker Junior Seau, safety Dave Duerson and defensive back Ray Easterling, all of whom committed suicide in recent years.
BREAK-IN: Two masked men forced their way into the Colorado home of Patriots defensive back Derrick Martin during Sunday's AFC title game. Police haven't identified any suspects in the home invasion robbery in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
STADIUM TECH: The first-down line that viewers have seen on TV for several years could come to stadiums, but the league isn't sold on it. "We have not been convinced that it would work for us, but we are open to further discussion after the season," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told AP. Alan Amron, with financial backing from former NFL player and broadcaster Pat Summerall, developed the First Down Laser System.
PRO BOWL: The NFL hopes to decide the fate of the all-star game by April — and executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said the decision largely rest on how much effort this year's participants put into it. Also, Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph (NFC) and Kansas City's Justin Houston (AFC) were added for Sunday's game in Honolulu.
COWBOYS: Owner Jerry Jones said coach Jason Garrett might give up play-calling duties on offense, but stopped short of saying a decision had been made. … Defensive lineman Jay Ratliff was arrested and charged with DWI in Grapevine, Texas, espndallas.com reported.
JAGUARS: Mike Mallory was named special teams coordinator.
By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. — Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was joking, it seemed, when asked how his team can overcome a dreadful streak at the Nassau Coliseum.
"Them moving to Brooklyn might help us," he said, laughing.
Actually, the Islanders are scheduled to move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season. In the meantime, what can the Lightning do to break a four-game losing streak on Long Island — it began Dec. 22, 2010, and continued with Monday's 4-3 defeat — during which it has been outscored 16-6?
"I don't know," Yzerman said Tuesday. "I just always found if things don't go well against a team, do something dramatically different. Maybe you have to change the way you do things, stay in a different hotel."
Steve Thomas, Tampa Bay's player development coach, said he doesn't believe players go into an arena thinking they can't win.
"But I think it's in the back of some players minds we haven't won (on Long Island) for a while," he said, "and sometimes you press and go outside the structure of what we're trying to do."
Bottom line, coach Guy Boucher called the way the Lightning plays at Nassau Coliseum a "nightmare" and "a joke."
"It's unbelievable," he said. "I've never seen our team play as bad as every single game we've played in the Islanders' barn. I just can't wait till they move."
But RW Marty St. Louis said the streak is coincidence. He pointed out Tampa Bay beat the Islanders in a 2004 playoff series in which it won twice at Nassau Coliseum.
Reminded the team at the time stayed at a different hotel, St. Louis said, "Yeah, I liked the beds."
GOOD JOB: If there was any doubt what Boucher thought of Anders Lindback in Monday's loss he squelched it, saying if not for the goalie, who made 40 saves on 44 shots, New York might have scored eight or 10.
"Twenty-four scoring chances and only four go in," Boucher said. "Usually there is at least one goal per five scoring chances in the NHL, so you calculate and you tell me how he played."
Lindback's stats are not stellar. His 3.50 goals-against average in two games entered Tuesday tied for 28th in the league and his .905 save percentage was 26th.
But as Boucher said, "He makes key saves. Good goaltenders, they don't stop everything and they might let one in that you don't like. But they make the right save at the right time and he does that."
GAME TIME: D Brendan Mikkelson played his first game, and had an assist, as defensemen Brian Lee and Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratched.
Boucher said his plan through the first three games was to play each of his eight blue-liners in at least one "and evaluate from there." That said, even Lee knows that after four minor penalties (two in each of his first two games) he has to find a way to stay out of the box.
"Got to keep my sticks out of there," Lee said. "It's stupid, stupid penalties."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning's 6-3 victory over the Capitals Saturday had a record 2.8 television rating on Sun Sports and peaked at 3.4 in the Tampa Bay area. Each ratings point equals about 18,000 households. … RW Dana Tyrell, scratched in the first two games, played 8:37 in his first NHL game since January 2012 surgery on his right knee. … Rays pitcher Chris Archer, a Raleigh native, tweeted he was at the game. … Former Lightning and Hurricanes players Cory Stillman and Kevin Weekes sounded the pregame siren.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 40 in the fourth quarter, hitting several key late baskets, to lead the Cavaliers to a 95-90 victory over the Celtics on Tuesday night.
Irving had 11 points in the final 2:33 on four layups and three free throws to send Boston to its season-high fourth straight loss.
Irving set a career high for field goals made (16 of 24) and fell one point short of his career-best scoring total, set at New York on Dec. 15.
Boston's Paul Pierce, who scored 40 in a 103-91 win over the Cavaliers on Dec. 19, finished with 12 points on 3-for-15 shooting.
PISTONS BULLY MAGIC: Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe combined for 38 points and 28 rebounds, and the host Pistons pulled away to beat the undersized Magic 105-90. Brandon Knight led Detroit with 18 points, while Monroe scored 16 and Drummond and Maxiell each had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Detroit had a 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds. Orlando's size issues were magnified when Glen Davis was benched for much of the second half after taking 15 first-half shots and grabbing just three rebounds. He attempted one shot the rest of the way and finished with 11 points. J.J. Redick led Orlando with 26 points on 9-for-10 shooting, hitting 5 of 6 3-pointers.
speights traded to cavs: In what coach Lionel Hollins called a business decision, the Grizzlies traded St. Petersburg's Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round pick to the Cavaliers for big man Jon Leuer, who is averaging 2.4 points in nine games. Memphis cleared about $6 million in salary and got below the luxury tax threshold. Speights, a former Gator, earns $4.2 million. He will help replace center Anderson Varejao, out for the season with a blood clot in his right lung. "I've been blessed to play for a team and a city that has embraced me," Speights wrote on Twitter.
KINGS SALE: Telling Seattle residents "don't celebrate too early," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson introduced the first of his four-step plan to keep the Kings from moving. Johnson said 19 local investors pledged at least $1 million each to buy the franchise, and that a major partner will be revealed soon. His plan also includes demonstrating the city's commitment to a new downtown arena and showing the strength of the Sacramento market. The team's owners Sunday agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle group, pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Suns' top assistants, Dan Majerle and Elston Turner, have not showed up for practices since they were passed over when player development director Lindsey Hunter was named interim coach Sunday. Majerle said he will not return. Hunter debuts against the Kings tonight, the first time he has been a coach in any capacity. He was a finalist for the Magic opening last year. … The Lakers started Earl Clark at forward in Pau Gasol's place in Monday's loss to the Bulls, a move that coach Mike D'Antoni said he will stick with. "I'm not excited about it," said Gasol, who does not plan to seek a trade. Meanwhile, center Dwight Howard, who shot 2 of 5, complained about not getting the ball: "I can't do what I do best with five shots." And Kobe Bryant said after Los Angeles dropped to sole possession of 12th in the Western Conference: "Obviously, this isn't working."
Cavaliers 95, Celtics 90
BOSTON (90): Pierce 3-15 5-6 12, Bass 4-7 0-0 8, Garnett 5-13 6-6 16, Rondo 7-17 3-4 17, Bradley 2-4 1-2 7, Sullinger 5-11 2-2 12, Terry 2-5 0-0 4, Green 1-3 2-2 5, Lee 3-9 0-0 9. Totals 32-84 19-22 90.
CLEVELAND (95): Gee 3-7 4-6 10, Thompson 9-18 3-3 21, Zeller 2-10 2-2 6, Irving 16-24 7-7 40, Waiters 3-12 0-0 7, Gibson 0-3 0-0 0, Walton 3-3 1-2 7, Livingston 0-2 2-2 2, Casspi 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 37-82 19-22 95.
Boston 27 26 20 17— 90
Cleveland 31 23 16 25— 95
3-Point Goals—Boston 7-17 (Lee 3-5, Bradley 2-2, Green 1-2, Pierce 1-4, Terry 0-2, Rondo 0-2), Cleveland 2-12 (Irving 1-3, Waiters 1-4, Gee 0-1, Casspi 0-1, Gibson 0-3). Fouled Out—Sullinger, Zeller. Rebounds—Boston 55 (Rondo 13), Cleveland 48 (Zeller 10). Assists—Boston 24 (Rondo 8), Cleveland 28 (Walton 7). Total Fouls—Boston 18, Cleveland 22. A—14,192 (20,562).
Pistons 105, Magic 90
ORLANDO (90): Afflalo 0-4 0-0 0, Davis 4-16 3-4 11, Vucevic 5-10 0-0 10, Nelson 6-18 0-0 14, Redick 9-10 3-4 26, Nicholson 3-5 0-0 6, Harkless 2-3 0-0 4, Moore 4-7 0-0 9, McRoberts 0-3 0-0 0, Ayon 4-4 0-0 8, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, O'Quinn 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 38-84 6-8 90.
DETROIT (105): Prince 2-6 2-3 6, Maxiell 3-8 5-5 11, Monroe 6-12 4-6 16, Knight 7-17 1-2 18, Singler 3-4 0-0 6, Drummond 5-7 1-4 11, Stuckey 6-13 0-0 14, Bynum 7-14 1-1 15, Daye 0-2 0-0 0, Villanueva 2-6 0-0 6, English 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 42-91 14-21 105.
Orlando 25 27 14 24— 90
Detroit 26 28 28 23— 105
3-Point Goals—Orlando 8-20 (Redick 5-6, Nelson 2-10, Moore 1-2, McRoberts 0-1, Afflalo 0-1), Detroit 7-23 (Knight 3-7, Stuckey 2-5, Villanueva 2-5, Bynum 0-1, Singler 0-1, English 0-1, Prince 0-1, Daye 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Orlando 44 (Afflalo, Vucevic 9), Detroit 60 (Maxiell, Drummond 11). Assists—Orlando 27 (Nelson 9), Detroit 23 (Bynum 6). Total Fouls—Orlando 20, Detroit 13. Technicals—Davis, Orlando defensive three second. A—11,798 (22,076).
Bucks 110, 76ers 102
PHILADELPHIA (102): Turner 8-19 3-4 23, T.Young 5-16 1-2 11, Allen 2-6 0-0 4, Holiday 3-12 3-4 9, Ivey 3-3 0-0 8, Hawes 10-16 1-1 21, N.Young 8-16 2-2 20, Wright 0-1 0-0 0, Wilkins 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 42-95 10-13 102.
MILWAUKEE (110): Mbah a Moute 2-6 1-4 5, Ilyasova 10-17 5-6 27, Sanders 4-10 1-2 9, Jennings 8-17 6-6 25, Ellis 7-10 4-6 18, Udoh 2-3 0-2 4, Dunleavy 4-7 1-3 11, Henson 4-7 1-2 9, Udrih 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 41-79 21-33 110.
Philadelphia 18 29 24 31— 102
Milwaukee 28 27 28 27— 110
3-Point Goals—Philadelphia 8-16 (Turner 4-7, Ivey 2-2, N.Young 2-5, Holiday 0-1, Hawes 0-1), Milwaukee 7-16 (Jennings 3-6, Dunleavy 2-4, Ilyasova 2-4, Ellis 0-1, Udrih 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Philadelphia 56 (Hawes 12), Milwaukee 50 (Ilyasova 16). Assists—Philadelphia 29 (Holiday 12), Milwaukee 24 (Ellis 10). Total Fouls—Philadelphia 22, Milwaukee 13. A—13,080 (18,717).
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — Achraf Yacoubou was lost in a swarm of Villanova fans who had rushed the court, mobbing the Wildcats in celebration of one of their biggest wins in a while.
It only made sense he was in the middle of the party.
Yacoubou hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:57 left to help Villanova upset No. 5 Louisville 73-64 on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Villanova students packed behind each basket stormed the court after a victory coach Jay Wright's struggling program badly needed.
"Great win for us," Wright said.
The Wildcats led by as many as 10 points in the first half and rallied late in the second to send the Cardinals to their second straight loss. Louisville (16-3, 4-2 Big East) had an 11-game winning streak end in a 70-68 loss to Syracuse on Saturday.
The Cardinals didn't play like a team that was No. 1 a week earlier. A 71 percent free-throw shooting team, they were 12 of 24 from the line and shot 40 percent from the field.
"We did a lot of things wrong tonight, and they did a lot of things right," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "Our free throws were a turnover. Our foul shooting was despicable."
NO. 3 KANSAS 59, NO. 11 KANSAS ST. 55: Travis Releford scored 12 for the visiting Jayhawks (17-1, 5-0), who held off the Wildcats (15-3, 4-1) down the stretch and took sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
NO. 13 MICH. ST. 49, WISCONSIN 47: Keith Appling scored 19 and Branden Dawson 18 for the visiting Spartans (17-3, 6-1 Big Ten). Both teams went more than 4 minutes without scoring before Dawson hit a free throw to put Michigan State up 48-44 with just more than 2 minutes left.
NO. 14 OHIO ST. 72, IOWA 63: Deshaun Thomas, who missed about 3 minutes in the second half with a cut above his eye, scored 16 for the host Buckeyes (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten), who built a 24-point lead then held on.
WAKE 86, NO. 18 N.C. STATE 84: Freshman Devin Thomas had a season-high 25 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks for the host Demon Deacons, who erased a 16-point first-half deficit to upset the Wolfpack (15-4, 4-2 ACC).
NO. 22 MISSOURI 71, S.C. 65: Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown hit key 3-pointers in the final 1:11, and the host Tigers (14-4, 3-2 SEC) overcame 5-for-27 3-point shooting and a 13-point second-half deficit.
Women: Bulls cruise
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Andrea Smith had 21 points as USF beat Seton Hall for the 10th straight time, 74-51. The Bulls (15-5, 2-3) never trailed and improved to 10-1 against the Pirates overall. Freshman forward Alisia Jenkins added 15 points and freshman guard Courtney Williams 12, and Williams and Inga Orekhova had eight rebounds each as USF outrebounded Seton Hall 49-33.
NO. 13 LOUISVILLE 64, MARQUETTE 63: Monique Reid made a fast-break layup with 7 seconds left to help the visiting Cardinals (16-4, 4-2 Big East) hold off a furious rally.
By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
MOBILE, Ala. — Bucs general manager Mark Dominik has watched hours upon hours of film of his team in the weeks since the end of its fifth straight season without a playoff berth.
Through it all, he was reminded of things that give him hope, while some shortcomings were reinforced. It brought Dominik to a mixed conclusion as he begins preparing for 2013: In 2012, the Bucs were better, but hardly good enough.
As much as this offseason will be about improving existing players, it also will be devoted to further retooling the roster.
"When you don't have a winning season and don't get to the playoffs, there's something that still needs to get done and taken care of," said Dominik, in town for the Senior Bowl featuring some of the nation's top college prospects.
"And from a player personnel standpoint, that's a part of it. Absolutely."
Despite adding players like free-agent receiver Vincent Jackson last year, Dominik conceded the moves weren't a recipe for an overnight success.
"We knew it was a process," he said. "And (coach) Greg (Schiano) knew it was a process. When I look back at the season, I say there were a lot of strides made. But we do need to get to that next step."
All that was part of a wide-ranging, 30-minute conversation with Dominik. Here's a sampling:
QB COMPETITION: When it comes to adding competition behind quarterback Josh Freeman, a notion Schiano introduced after the season, Dominik suggested that was no more a priority than at other positions.
"At the end of the day, we want to increase the competition at every position," Dominik said. "Quarterback is certainly one of them."
As Dominik combed through film of Freeman, he felt encouraged. Freeman threw for 27 touchdowns but had nine of his 17 interceptions in his final three games.
"You remind yourself there's areas you're very excited about," Dominik said. "There are things he did this year that were as good as he's been: Throwing the deep ball, the accuracy and some of the big plays, I thought he used his feet better this year. Obviously his completion percentage (54.8) could be higher. I know Josh wants it higher and we'd like it to be higher. We'll work on that."
PASS DEFENSE: Regarding the costly struggles in pass defense, Dominik said the blame can't be placed on inferior personnel alone.
"I think we had a lot of players who were in position and didn't quite make the play," he said. "But I think there's a lot of room for improvement. It was also our defense's first year in this system. Although there were some really good highs, there were obviously some frustrations with some of the yards we gave up in the passing game. That can be solved in many different ways. Look, you have to have good players in this league."
WHAT'S NEXT: Though the Bucs finished 7-9, Dominik suggested he doesn't feel the team is very far from the postseason. Six losses came by seven points or fewer, most the result of fourth-quarter shortcomings.
"There were opportunities in the fourth quarter," he said. "We have to continue to bolster the competition on the roster and finish off games."
The Bucs did that in their finale against the Falcons, and that's something Dominik is holding onto.
"The offense had to go out and respond to a score and the defense had to go out and get a stop," he said. "They did both."
COACHES: The staff, which has undergone changes, will be complete when a defensive backs coach is hired. The team won't officially announce hires until the staff is complete, but not having assistant-coach hires carrying over into late February, like last year, has made a tremendous difference. Schiano wasn't hired until Jan. 26, 2012, then struggled to assemble a staff.
"This year has been a lot more football-focused," Dominik said. "Greg Schiano is out here at the Senior Bowl this year. Last year he wasn't hired at this point. There's a lot more evaluation not only about (current players) but with how we're going to going to fix the football team and get better. That's all encouraging."
By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. — The first thing Vinny Lecavalier said when asked about Tuesday night's game against the Hurricanes was he did not want to single himself out.
Too many teammates did too many good things.
"We all came out pretty hard," he said.
But in the Lightning's satisfying 4-1 victory at PNC Arena, it was difficult to overlook how the captain set a tone meant to set the team back on course after Monday's depressing loss to the Islanders.
So, there was Lecavalier, driving to the net, throwing checks and assisting on first-period goals by Tom Pyatt and Cory Conacher.
"And he was the first guy back defensively, too," coach Guy Boucher said. "Vinny set the tone for this team. He's doing terrific work as a captain. I asked him for that and he's been terrific."
Third-period goals by Keith Aulie and Ryan Malone secured the win. Though goaltender Mathieu Garon, in his words, "got away with a lot of mistakes," he made 35 saves as the Hurricanes had a 36-26 shot advantage, 15-7 in the third period.
Tampa Bay (2-1-0) also blocked 23 shots, including Eric Brewer's six and Matt Carle's five.
It was an important game for a team that last season was the league's second-worst on the road and yearns to be better, and the loss to the Islanders made Tuesday's game almost a must-win to restore confidence.
But the game was the home opener for the Hurricanes, who were thumped by the Panthers in their season opener.
"So, you knew they were going to be ready to play," Lecavalier said, and added, "We wanted to be physical and bring pucks to the net, things we didn't do for two periods (against the Islanders). We played good as a team. We had good opportunities and were patient. We weren't forcing things and it paid off."
It paid off 5:18 into the game when Lecavalier spun to hold the puck in the offensive zone and sent a floating backhand pass/shot toward the net that Pyatt smacked out of the air and past goalie Cam Ward.
It paid off with 8:24 left in the first when Lecavalier carried the puck off the end boards to the net. Ward stopped his in-close shot, but Conacher was there to convert the rebound.
"It's huge when he's doing the right things," Pyatt said. "He's such a big boy, when he takes the puck to the net we always seem to get a chance and that's what happened."
Lecavalier also had three hits, blocked a shot and won 13 of 24 faceoffs.
"This was a huge test for us," he said, "and we passed."
First—1, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 1 (Lecavalier, Carle), 5:18. 2, Tampa Bay, Conacher 2 (Lecavalier, Purcell), 11:36. Penalties—Crombeen, TB (boarding), 13:02; J.Staal, Car (tripping), 17:09.
Second—3, Carolina, Skinner 1 (J.Staal, Semin), 3:35 (pp). Penalties—Conacher, TB (boarding), 1:29; Malone, TB (boarding), 3:15; Bowman, Car (hooking), 9:14; Carle, TB (tripping), 11:10; Jokinen, Car (interference), 16:28.
Third—4, Tampa Bay, Aulie 1 (Mikkelson), 1:37. 5, Tampa Bay, Malone 1 (St. Louis, Salo), 9:57 (pp). Penalties—Tyrell, TB (holding stick), 1:56; Brent, Car (tripping), 1:56; LaRose, Car (interference), 4:13; Jokinen, Car (hooking), 9:36; Lecavalier, TB (delay of game), 12:28; Hall, TB (elbowing), 13:20; E.Staal, Car (roughing), 13:20; E.Staal, Car (slashing), 19:40.
Shots—Tampa Bay 8-11-7—26. Carolina 8-13-15—36. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 6; Carolina 1 of 5. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Garon 1-0-0 (36 shots-35 saves). Carolina, Ward 0-2-0 (26-22). A—18,680 (18,680). T—2:36.
By Dave Walker, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Wind relief: After several consecutive windy days, there have been a few breaks in the weather that have allowed for reasonable boating and fishing conditions. Cabin fever can really set in after a few grey cold days in a row and some anglers are doing something about it.
What's Hot: Speckled trout and redfish are returning to the shallows and have been quite cooperative. On the nice days, the afternoon fishing has been the time of the best bite. Water temperatures are above normal and have activated the usually lethargic fish.
Bait: Live shrimp or soft plastic jigs have worked equally well for both species. Be patient and fish slowly for optimum results.
Tip: If it is windy, many areas in the downtown Tampa are protected from the often howling winds of winter. From the Hillsborough River all the way past McKay Bay, good spots can be found. There is ample structure available as well as mangrove areas when choosing where and what to fish for.
Options: Another idea for windy days or just an easy trip, the Ballast Point Pier is a viable option for that part of the bay. They have recently renovated the boat ramp and have food and live bait available right there. Monster sheepshead and multiple other species hang around the new pier. It is an easy trip with kids, and if fishing is slow, there is a nice playground nearby. All in all, it is a nice city park.
Seasonal: It is that time of year again for seasonal maintenance. Whether outboards or reels, it is time now to service these items before the shops get slammed at the beginning of the spring season. We all know how the passage of time does hurl on by, so do it soon.
Captain Dave Walker charters out of Tampa Bay and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or at www.snookfish.com.
By Andy Warrener, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
BRANDON — A year after Brandon wrestlers Clark Glass and Rossi Bruno achieved the stunning feat of winning five individual state titles, Eagles senior Kevin Norstrem is striving for five.
How does a high school student win five state championships? Simple, mathematically. Daunting, physically. Win one competing as a seventh or eighth-grader at a private school and then achieve perfection by winning a state title in all four of your high school years.
At Brandon, the quest for the elusive five-peat starts long before middle school. Norstrem remembers joining the Brandon Wrestling Club at the ripe age of five.
"Coach (Russ) Cozart gets us early," Norstrem said. "We wrestled right here in the Brandon High gym. At 6:30 the big kids would come in."
The club represents a wrestling farm system that would be the pride of any major league baseball team, and it fuels the state champion dreams at an early age. Norstrem pointed up at the imposing state champion list in the Brandon gym, a list that now not only has Norstrem's name on it; it has 2010, 2011, and 2012 next to it.
"As a kid, you dream about being on the Brandon wrestling team," Norstrem said. "You look up on that wall and you see all the state champs, you want to get your name up there — there's a constant drive and competition.
"There's still some room on there for one more," Norstrem said.
Norstrem attended Tampa Bay Christian as an eighth-grader and won a state title at 112 pounds. He has not let up, since.
"Once you settle, guys catch up with you," Norstrem said.
The 138-pound senior has done anything but settle. His 214-3 match record impresses as much as the three state titles. Norstrem has never let those losses go.
"I remember all three of those losses like they were yesterday," Norstrem said. "I run those matches through my mind and think about things I could have done differently."
Norstrem's record this season is 35-1, his only loss coming at a national tournament in Minnesota where he wrestled with a minor case of the flu. But no one is going to hand Norstrem that fifth state title based solely on his previous accomplishments.
"If there wasn't doubt (that I would win my fifth) I would be worried," Norstrem said. "It's a sport and you have to learn from it, but it could play out any way."
Chances are, it's going to play out the way Brandon, Norstrem and Cozart would like it to. Norstrem is currently ranked sixth in the nation at 138 pounds by Flo Wrestling, he's already beat the second-ranked wrestler in the state, and his approach to the sport has not changed since, well, forever.
"He's given 150 percent every day," Cozart said. "He's my team captain, our spokesman, a team leader; he's like a second son to me."
Does the promise, even the expectation, of striving for five hang over Norstrem?
"Yes, in all these matches leading up to states, I'm thinking, 'That guy almost scored on me'," Norstrem said. "I'll go back and try to correct those little things so I can work out all the kinks by states."
Having seen Glass and Bruno go before him may have helped — a bit.
"There might be a little less pressure, but it's no different — it's flat-out tough," Cozart said.
It's not exactly uncharted water anymore, and it's been charted by two athletes who Norstrem could not be closer to.
"I grew up with them," Norstrem said. "It's something we've always worked for."
As mind-blowing as winning five state titles might be, it's only a stepping-stone in Norstrem's long-term goals as a wrestler. Norstrem admits that winning five state titles has been a goal all along, but not the only one.
"My short-term goal was to get to states, mid-term goal is five state titles, my long term goal is a national title in college," said Norstrem, who will attend Virginia Tech next fall.
Andy Warrener can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Darek Sharp, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
There's no secret about what separates Strawberry Crest from a first-ever trip to the girls basketball playoffs. The Chargers will have to beat Armwood next week in the District 6A-11 semifinals.
What are the odds? Based on what's happened this season, just about 50-50. The teams have split their two meetings.
"It depends on which team of ours shows up," said La'Tosha Lewis, who has coached the Chargers for all of their four years. "We're coming in on a high, though."
That they are: Since a 17-point loss to top district seed Sickles on Dec. 15, Strawberry Crest went on a 7-1 stretch with the only loss coming by a point in double overtime to Academy of the Holy Names.
And while the Chargers are starting to get more contributions from their entire lineup, junior captain Aliyah Gregory has been leading the way. Gregory is among the county's top players, averaging more than 22 points per game.
Sophomore Maiya Trigg would be the top scorer on a lot of other teams, averaging 17 points. Lewis knows those two will have to keep things going if the Chargers plan on playing past next week.
"Both of those girls know our success depends on them," Lewis said. "Aliyah is a natural scorer but she's also a floor leader."
Gregory had 19 points the last time Strawberry Crest played Armwood, a wild 40-37 win on Dec. 19. Armwood outscored the Chargers 17-1 in the second quarter to take a 20-11 halftime lead.
Armwood had won by 16 in late November.
Hence the "depends on which team shows up" line from Lewis.
The good news is Strawberry Crest has been its best version lately, and that goes beyond Gregory and Trigg doing their thing. Freshman front court player Terra Brooks is leading the team in rebounds and 6-1 sophomore center Nandi Jordan is third in that category.
Jordan had 10 points and Brooks hauled down 12 rebounds in an impressive win over Jefferson last week.
"Our post players are more involved, our defense is stepping up a notch. That's what we know we have to do, pressure 'D', attack and rebound," she said. "We'll see. It's do or die."
While the Strawberry Crest-Armwood district semifinal winner will have made the playoffs, there's the whole matter of trying to knock off tourney host Sickles for the district crown. Only once has either team played the Gryphons close this season, and that was Amwood.
"Sickles is just a solid team, everyone knows their roles and they play well together," Lewis said.
By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The Couples of Hernando Golf League had its monthly tournament at Sugarmill Woods in Homosassa on Jan. 14, and champions were crowned in two flights.
In Flight A, Tom Palmisano and Sue Smith were victorious over runners-up Joe and Kerry Pado. Roger and JoAnn McKay placed third, ahead of Don and Janet Gilbert and Richard and Barbara Schulte, who tied for fourth.
In Flight B, Jim and Carol Mohan emerged with top honors. The tandems of Robert and Lorraine Best and John and Norma Manter tied for second, while Ralph and Susan Avellanet and Tony and Jane Szeltner tied for fourth place.
Closest-to-the-pin prizes were awarded to Palmisano, Jim Mohan, Sally Esposito and Aurelia Hughes.
For information about the league, send email to Jane Szeltner at email@example.com or Dorothy Cleary at golfer firstname.lastname@example.org.
HERNANDO YOUTH LEAGUE BASEBALL: Hernando Youth League has scheduled registration at Ernie Wever Youth Park in Brooksville for its spring season.
League officials will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Player fees are $65 for a family's first child and $60 for each addition child. A copy of the child's birth certificate is necessary for registration. Player evaluations will take place on Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. with Opening Day on March 2.
For information, send email to Mike Walker at email@example.com or Tiffany Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit leaguelineup.com/hylbaseball.
WEST HERNANDO LITTLE LEAGUE: West Hernando Little League has scheduled registration at Freedom Field on Deltona Boulevard in Spring Hill for its spring season.
Volunteers will be on hand from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Player fees are $120 per child for baseball and $50 for tee ball. A copy of the child's birth certificate is necessary for registration. The season is scheduled to run from the end of February to June.
Registration is also available online by visiting westhernando littleleague.com.
For information, call Jenna McLeod at (352) 232-4671.
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.
Evaluation dates vary, depending on age divisions. The Darlings (ages 5 to 8) will try out Monday. The Angels (9 and 10) will be on Tuesday. The Ponies (11 and 12) will have evaluations on Wednesday, 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 email@example.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.
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 at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, Feb. 3 at Ridge Manor Park in Ridge Manor and Feb. 17 at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill.
The sessions are open to men and women age 16 and older. All clinics will start at 10 a.m.
Visit hernandosumterumpire.com to register. For information, call (352) 593-6998 or send email to clinics@hernandosumter umpire.com.
BROOKSVILLE BULLDOGS BASEBALL: The Brooksville Bulldogs youth recreation league will have sign-ups for the coming season at Kennedy Park in Brooksville.
Registrations will be taken from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs compete in both the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth leagues, with age groups from 9 to 18 years old.
For information, contact Bruce Price at (813) 714-1054 or email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Derek J. LaRiviere can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 584-6337.
By Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Under normal circumstances, the first couple of weeks of the regular season would not be that big of a deal for the Lightning. It has played only three games, hardly enough to start circling games on the calendar as must-win or even important. Again, under normal circumstances.
These are not normal circumstances.
The lockout that put the NHL season on pause has put it on fast forward. Don't think of it as three games into a long season. This isn't early October. This isn't the first few warmup steps into a marathon.
It's already late January. Or, here's a better, more accurate way to think of it: The Lightning is down to 45 games left, and it is one of 15 teams crammed together in the standings. The sprint to the playoffs begins now.
And make no mistake, the next five games, all at home, are a very big deal.
Here's why they matter so much and how the Lightning has looked so far, albeit only three games into this shortened season.
Quick start is critical
Barry Melrose, a former Lightning coach, was coaching the Kings during the last 48-game season, in 1995. The Kings were two seasons removed from the Stanley Cup final and still had superstars Wayne Gretzky, Rick Tocchet and Jari Kurri.
They started the season 3-4-1, fell behind the playoff pack and never caught up. The Kings finished a point out of the playoffs, and Melrose lost his job.
"You've got to get out of the gate hot,'' Melrose said. "You can't lose games out of the gate or you'll never make them up. You've just got to be so good right away. The teams that do that are the ones that are going to make the playoffs.''
How true. The Red Wings started that season 6-2 and ended up in the Cup final. The then-Quebec Nordiques started 7-1 and finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Meantime, the defending champ Rangers started 2-5-1, scrambled to sneak into the final playoff spot in the East and ended up getting swept in the second round of the playoffs. The Lightning went 3-4-1 through eight games and never threatened the rest of the way.
The guess here is it will take about 54 points to get into the playoffs. That means a record that is something like 25-19-4. There are going to be losing streaks, slumps and rough patches.
But there also must be hot streaks, and better to get ahead now than fall behind and play follow the leaders the rest of the way. A good eight-game start would be, say, 5-2-1. The Lightning is on its way with a 2-1 record.
Make-hay time now
What makes this upcoming five-game stretch so much more important than any other five-game stretch? All five are at home, the longest homestand of the season.
What's more, the schedule is fairly navigable, with games against the Senators, Flyers, Panthers, Jets and Rangers. Of that lot, only the Jets missed the playoffs last season, but none of those teams is off to a particularly hot start. The best teams on that list — the Rangers and Flyers — went into Wednesday night with a combined record of 0-5. What better time to have those teams on your schedule?
Even last season, when it missed the playoffs, the Lightning was still a formidable team at home, with 25-14-2 record (as opposed to 13-22-6 on the road). You certainly don't want to dig a hole during the longest homestand of the season.
What we've seen
Yes, it has been only three games, but there is plenty of reason for optimism.
Veterans Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier look 10 years younger. Rookie Cory Conacher looks like the real deal, sharing the team lead with five points. Steven Stamkos looks like, well, Steven Stamkos, meaning he remains one of the most dangerous scorers in the NHL.
Already 15 players have found their way onto the score sheet, including nine different goal scorers. Not relying on two or three scorers means being able to survive individual scoring slumps.
So that's the good news.
The not-so-good news is the defense hasn't filled in all the cracks. The Lightning has allowed an average of nearly 37 shots per game, fourth-most in the NHL heading into Wednesday night. That number has to come way down.
That leaky defense hasn't done the goaltending of Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon any favors, especially Lindback, who was left to fend for himself far too often in the team's loss on Long Island on Monday.
Garon made some big saves in Tuesday's victory at Carolina, but he benefitted from the Hurricanes missing a few open nets, too.
Still, the Lightning likes its 2-1 start. It will like a 6-2 or a 5-2-1 start even better. Anything less just might be a disappointment.
Under any circumstances.
DIRK SHADD | Times
By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
MOBILE, Ala. — For the average NFL coach watching prospects practice here at the Senior Bowl, familiarity often consists of what little they absorb from scouting reports read on the plane ride to town.
In the midst of 100-hour work weeks, NFL coaches can't lounge around watching college football on weekends. And they certainly don't spend their entire existence studying prospects like full-time scouts. The Senior Bowl can be their first exposure to the incoming class of NFL players.
But Bucs coach Greg Schiano, in a way, is a rare exception.
Oh, he has been plenty busy. And he didn't spend Saturdays watching college tripleheaders.
But being just a year removed from an 11-year stint as a college coach, Schiano saw plenty of familiar faces during his brief time in town. In some cases, he recruited the very players he scouted. And in the case of Rutgers linebackers Steve Beauharnais and Khaseem Greene, playing for the North on Saturday, Schiano has years' worth of details.
But where Schiano's information is most helpful to general manager Mark Dominik and director of player personnel Dennis Hickey isn't the most obvious area.
"You do have some idea of where they come from: what they did in high school, what sports they played," Schiano said. "More information can't hurt. I don't know how much it helps, but it can't hurt."
While Schiano might downplay the role of his contributions in draft evaluation, Dominik happily emphasized their value.
"I think the important thing is that he's been in quite a few of these kids' living rooms or been on the phone with them or texting them trying to stay in touch with them when he was recruiting them," Dominik said.
That matters when teams are making, in some cases, multi-million dollar commitments to kids barely old enough to order a beer. Given the scrutiny and emphasis placed on the character of players during the pre-draft process, having a personal history with them can be priceless.
"Those are things we rely upon and talk about in our draft meetings," Dominik said. "We talk about those things sometimes one on one here on the sideline. We'll talk about this guy or that, and (Schiano will) say, 'Yeah, I remember this guy is from so and so. Here's how his family life was. I remember his father was really influential in his life.'
"Those are always good elements, and you can never have too much of that information. It's king at this level."
The Eagles have a similar advantage in coach Chip Kelly, hired last week from Oregon. The Ducks recruit a large percentage of the elite players on the West Coast, some of whom he saw in Mobile.
"There are definitely some guys I'm more familiar with," he said.
Another member of the Bucs staff in Mobile is special assistant Butch Davis. He, too, has an advantage because he coached North Carolina before joining the Bucs last year.
Dominik also mentioned offensive line coach Bob Bostad, formerly of Wisconsin, as offering contributions because of his history with certain players.
Aside from Schiano's intimate knowledge of select players, he will be more of an asset to this draft simply because he has the time.
At this time last year, Schiano had not been hired. After he was brought on board Jan. 26, he immediately was thrust into the lengthy and complex process of hiring a coaching staff, which took several weeks.
Now Schiano gets to scout, part of the job he loves. And he'll be playing a major role: "I'm really looking forward to it.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ed Walker, Times Correspondent
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
What's hot: Cool waters on North Suncoast flats have drawn permit and pompano toward the Anclote power plant. These members of the jack family are usually scattered across the vast grass beds off Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor. When water temperatures fall, these fish concentrate around the warm-water outfall canal.
Where to look: When surrounding waters are at their coldest, fish move up into the manmade discharge canal (provided the plant is operating and producing warm water). Floating barrels limit how far up the channel anglers can go. But you can cast over them. Due to the many game fish crowding the headwaters of the channel, there is little food there. As soon as the nearby flats begin to warm up, pompano and permit move to the adjacent grass flats to feed.
Tackle tip: Arguably the best lure for winter pompano is a small jig with sparse hair, or a small lead-bodied jig. The saying goes, "Any color will work, as long as it's yellow." Pink will work in a pinch. Add a small piece of fresh shrimp to the jig to give it a scent. Monofilament line is preferable to braid.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at (727) 944-3474.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Chelsea Star ejected after kicking ball boy
Chelsea star Eden Hazard was ejected from the English League Cup semifinal on Wednesday for kicking a ball boy in the ribs while trying to retrieve the ball after it rolled off the field.
With Chelsea needing two goals against Swansea to force overtime in the two-game series, the ball went behind the goal in the 79th minute.
A 17-year-old ball boy in a Swansea sweat suit, identified as Charlie Morgan in media reports, slowly walked over to pick it up.
Hazard ran up and the teen fell over, the ball under his stomach. Hazard pulled then kicked at the ball while it was under the teen.
After Hazard got the ball free, the winger jogged onto the field, while fans and some players reacted angrily. The ball boy, who has worked for Swansea for six years, clutched his ribs.
Hazard was given a straight red card.
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez said the ball boy and Hazard apologized to each other: "The boy was apologizing for time wasting. Hazard was frustrated and tried to get the ball."
South Wales Police and the league will investigate.
The match finished 0-0 and Swansea advanced 2-0 on aggregate, setting up a final against Bradford.
College Football: Louisville's Charlie Strong agreed to an eight-year extension with an annual base salary of $3.7 million, placing him seventh among Division I coaches, just behind Iowa's Kirk Ferentz ($3.8 million). The 52-year-old former UF assistant earned $2.305 million in 2012. His new deal has numerous incentives.
Cycling: Former International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen defended the governing body's doping policy during the Lance Armstrong era and said it acted appropriately when it informed riders about suspicious test results. He spoke after a Dutch magazine reported that Armstrong and others were contacted about doping suspicions.
Figure skating: Skating three days after his father died, Maxim Trankov and Russian partner Tatiana Volosozhar took the lead in the pairs after the short program at the European championships in Croatia.
Horses: Kentucky's equine industry boasted 242,400 horses in 2011 and a total value surpassing $20 billion, according to a University of Kentucky survey.
Tennis: John Isner and Sam Querrey will join brothers Bob and Mike Bryan on the U.S. team that will host Brazil on an indoor hardcourt in Jacksonville in the first round of Davis Cup World Group matches Feb. 1, captain Jim Courier announced.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
CINCINNATI — The Reds started a countdown to the 2015 All-Star Game by breaking out the bunting and bursting into a standing ovation.
A few of them also started to dream about playing in it.
Commissioner Bud Selig awarded the midsummer game to Cincinnati on Wednesday, rewarding years of persistence by owner Bob Castellini. The city hasn't hosted the game since 1988, when the Reds played at Riverfront Stadium.
"I can't imagine what's going to happen, but I think it's going to be beautiful," said second baseman Brandon Phillips, a two-time All-Star under contract through 2017.
It'll be the fifth time the game is played in Cincinnati, the stage for one of the most memorable All-Star moments. Pete Rose bowled over Indians catcher Ray Fosse to win the 1970 game at Riverfront.
The Reds moved into Great American Ball Park in 2003. Castellini became controlling partner in the ownership group after the 2005 season and was determined to bring the game back to his home city.
"I'll say one thing for Bob: Man, he is persistent," Selig said. "I could use a couple other terms to describe him. One starts, 'A pain in … ' But tenacity is a great virtue."
According to some reports, the Marlins were a strong candidate to host the 2015 game but were rejected in the wake of their offseason fire sale.
UPTONS UNITING?: The Braves, who signed former Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton as a free agent this offseason, are in serious talks with the Diamondbacks to acquire Upton's younger brother, rightfielder Justin, espn.com reported. Justin, at 25 three years younger than B.J., finished fourth in NL MVP voting in 2011 but battled injuries and inconsistency last season. On his Twitter account, B.J. wrote, "Please don't tease me like this. … Would be a dream come true if it happens."
Also, Braves All-Star catcher Brian McCann, who had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, said he hopes to beat projections and start on opening day.
D'BACKS: Shortstop Chris Pennington avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million contract.
PHILLIES: Former Rays outfielder Delmon Young can earn $600,000 based on his weight this season. Young's $750,000, one-year contract allows him to earn $2.75 million in bonuses. The deal calls for him to get on a scale on six occasions to be chosen by the team. He'll receive $100,000 each time he makes weight, according to details obtained by the Associated Press.
RED SOX: First baseman Mike Napoli has two ways to boost his income to $13 million this season: stay on the active roster for at least 165 days or get 625 plate appearances with at least 120 days on the roster.
By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
MOBILE, Ala. — The Bucs will have three participants in the Pro Bowl when the NFL's all-star affair kicks off Sunday in Honolulu, and GM Mark Dominik hopes that's just the start of much more to come.
"For three players to go to the Pro Bowl (is great)," Dominik said. But, he added, "I can still remember when we had 10."
The Bucs actually sent a team-record nine players to the 2000 Pro Bowl, but Dominik's point was no less valid.
"That's where we're trying to head to," he said. "Because then you know you're making significant progress. But it's a great step, and it means we're having success in free agency and the draft. And that's important."
DT Gerald McCoy, an original selection, and WR Vincent Jackson and RB Doug Martin, both first alternates, are in Hawaii for the game.
"If you look at those three players and what they are on and off the football field, you're not surprised they're in the Pro Bowl," Dominik said.
ON HOLD: There has been no movement on the Ronde Barber front, Dominik said. Barber, the starting free safety who turns 38 in April and just completed his 16th season, is contemplating retirement but also has said he believes he can still play at a high level.
Don't expect talks between Barber and the team to happen until next month.
Meanwhile, Dominik has had very preliminary talks with agents who represent some of the team's unrestricted free agents. Players with expiring contracts include DE Michael Bennett, DT Roy Miller and CB E.J. Biggers.
Many of the league's powerful agents are in Mobile this week, allowing Dominik to have face time with them. He prefers to discuss contract matters in person, he said, which is why many of the more substantive conversations will wait until next month's scouting combine in Indianapolis.
PRACTICE NOTES: Defensive backs have been a focus of the Bucs this week. And they have had plenty to see from Washington CB Desmond Trufant, the most steady performer at his position. He has consistently been solid in man coverage and has created quite a buzz. … FIU's Jonathan Cyprien, a safety, also has had a good week both in coverage and as a physical player in tackling and run support. … Kansas State WR Chris Harper had an impressive day on Wednesday, beating cornerbacks for several deep balls and making a series of difficult catches. … Michigan WR Denard Robinson, a former quarterback, was cleared for contact after nursing an elbow injury early in the week. But he was inconsistent catching passes.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
FSU vs. Clemson
When/where: 8; Tucker Center, Tallahassee
Records: Clemson 10-7, 2-3 ACC; FSU 10-7, 2-2
Notable: These teams met in an ACC opener on Jan. 5, a 71-66 Seminoles win. … FSU has lost two in a row and may be close to must-win territory. Its next game is at No. 25 Miami, which Wednesday routed No. 1 Duke, followed by home games vs. Duke and Maryland. … The Tigers, coming off a tough 66-62 loss at N.C. State, may resemble the Seminoles more than the Seminoles do: They allow 56.1 ppg, second-best in the ACC, and have held four conference opponents' leading scorers to single digits. … FSU redshirt junior forward Terrance Shannon will have a second set of tests on his sprained neck.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
SAN DIEGO — The first PGA Tour meeting on a proposed rule for long putters made only one thing clear to commissioner Tim Finchem: There's still a long way to go to decide what the tour will do, and it figures to be messy.
"It's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings," Finchem said Wednesday. "So consequently, it's a difficult situation. Personally, I view the professional game as being the strongest it's ever been. So I don't like to see distractions, but it's not a perfect world."
Finchem also said there might be a place for two sets of rules for the game in certain areas, but he did not think the long putter issue was one of them.
The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced Nov. 28 a proposed rule that would outlaw players from anchoring the club against their bodies. That's the stroke used for belly putters and broom-handle putters. Three of the past five major champions have used belly putters.
Another month remains in a 90-day comment period before the governing bodies decide to adopt the rule. If they do, it would not be enforced until 2016. The PGA Tour, however, can set its own rules.
Finchem invited USGA executive director Mike Davis to Tuesday night's mandatory players meeting before this week's Farmers Insurance Open to explain the proposed rule and how the USGA and R&A arrived at their decision. Davis did not want to talk about how it went. Players leaving the meeting did not want to comment on what was said.
To be determined is the tour's official position on the proposal, which requires meetings with its Players Advisory Council and policy board. Finchem said the tour's objective always has been to follow the USGA on rules, and he did not suggest the tour was about treat this one differently.
Another decision would be whether to enforce the rule earlier than 2016.
The concern is whether the public would look differently at players who anchor the club during the three-year transition period. Keegan Bradley, the first major champion with a belly putter (2011 PGA Championship), has said a fan called him a cheater at the World Challenge at the end of last year.
"My view would be to move it quicker if it's going to happen because it continues to be a distraction if you don't," Finchem said. "You have players on television, in front of galleries, playing with a method that has been outlawed, even though the enforcement date is later. That's in and of itself the makings of a distraction.
"On the other hand, if you're a player who has grown up using that method … you probably are inclined to not want it to go into effect for a period of time."
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
CORAL GABLES — After nearly two years, the NCAA has announced some of the wrongdoing discovered during its investigation of Miami's athletic compliance practices.
The alleged rule-breakers: former NCAA employees.
The NCAA, facing increasingly fierce scrutiny regarding its role as the administrator of college athletics, said Wednesday that its enforcement staff improperly obtained information in its high-profile investigation involving Miami. NCAA president Mark Emmert said the UM investigation is on hold after the NCAA discovered "a very severe issue of improper conduct" — specifically that its investigators contracted with a criminal defense lawyer for the booster at the center of the Miami case to obtain information they should not have been able to access. The NCAA had been examining allegations that the booster, Nevin Shapiro, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, as well as other benefits, to dozens of Miami athletes.
The NCAA does not have subpoena power. At least one of the people deposed by attorney Maria Elena Perez, who couldn't be reached Wednesday, as part of Shapiro's bankruptcy case appeared under subpoena, and his testimony would not have been otherwise available to NCAA investigators. The investigators who were involved are no longer with the NCAA, Emmert said, adding: "How in the world can you get this far without it being recognized that this was an inappropriate way to proceed?"
Emmert called the conduct of the investigators "shocking" and "stunning," saying the NCAA could not tolerate such "grossly inappropriate" behavior.
Miami already has self-imposed the suspensions of eight involved football players, withdrawn from two bowl games and an ACC title game, and voluntarily reduced scholarships.
Notice of allegations — the charges that Miami will have to defend itself against during the sanctioning phase of the probe — are now on hold until an outside review of the NCAA's procedures in this case are completed.
The question isn't whether it's good news toward a softening of Miami's impending judgment from the NCAA. It's how good the news is.
Emmert said any talk of throwing out all charges is "premature." He said only a "small portion" of the investigation was affected. But does a tainted portion call into question other evidence?
"As we have done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution," UM president Donna Shalala said.
Emmert said the NCAA was trying to find out why part of the investigation was based on depositions specific to the bankruptcy case. One of those depositions was given Dec. 19, 2011 by former UM equipment-room staffer Sean Allen, who has been linked to Shapiro and many of the allegations he made against the university.
During that deposition, the phrase "University of Miami" was uttered at least 58 times in questions or answers. UM was not part of the Ponzi scheme that led to Shapiro's legal downfall.
Kenneth L. Wainstein of the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP was hired to conduct the external review of what happened. That review will begin today, with the NCAA hoping it will finish within two weeks.
The admission comes at a challenging time for the NCAA. This month, Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania sued the organization over its handling of the Penn State child sexual abuse case, saying that it was "overreaching and unlawful" in how it punished the university and that it violated antitrust laws. The NCAA has also been criticized for recent cases involving UCLA, USC and North Carolina.
"Isn't NCAA making head coaches responsible for assistants' actions?" ESPN college analyst Jay Bilas tweeted. "Uh, Mr. Emmert, about this happening on your watch … "