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  • 01/24/13--19:32: Saints fire Spagnuolo
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS — The Saints fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Thursday after one season.

    New Orleans ranked last in the NFL in total defense and run defense, yielding a league-record 7,042 yards. The Saints (7-9) allowed 454 points; only Tennessee gave up more.

    Special teams coordinator Ken Flajole was also fired.

    "I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season," said coach Sean Payton, who served a seasonlong suspension. "Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment, and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition."

    Without Payton, who was suspended for his role in a bounty scandal, and with linebacker Jonathan Vilma and end Will Smith in limbo for portions of the schedule while their suspensions were appealed, the Saints started 0-4. They gave up at least 27 points 11 times.

    Elway Supports tebow: Broncos vice president John Elway, asked if Tim Tebow has a place in the NFL, said "in the right situation, I think it's a possibility. He's got to be in the right situation."

    Tebow was traded to the Jets during last offseason after leading Denver to one playoff win as the starting quarterback, but he struggled in New York.

    "He's a good kid, and he works his tail off," Elway said.

    Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, who in April made negative comments about Tebow's quarterbacking skills, also said Tebow can play in the NFL. Asked where Tebow might land, Thomas said, "I have no idea, but he's a great player."

    Browns: Two assistants were hired: Brian Baker (outside linebackers) and Jon Embree (tight ends). Baker was Cowboys defensive line coach the past two seasons; Embree was Colorado's head coach the past two seasons.

    Giants: President and CEO John Mara thinks the team will have plenty of opportunities to win Super Bowls as long as they have Eli Manning at quarterback. "He's (32). He's got a lot of years left," Mara said. "I think our window is still pretty wide." Mara said the Giants "certainly don't need to tear the whole thing down" after failing to make the postseason for the third time in four years. Still, some sting lingers. "Obviously, we were very disappointed not being in the postseason," he said. "I haven't quite gotten over that yet, particularly back-to-back games in Atlanta and Baltimore (lost by a combined 67-14)."

    Jaguars: Three assistants agreed to terms: DeWayne Walker (defensive backs), Frank Scelfo (quarterbacks ) and George Yarno (offensive line). Walker resigned Thursday as New Mexico State's coach after four seasons. Scelfo, out of coaching last year, spent time at Arizona (2010-11), Louisiana Tech (2007-09) and Tulane (1996-2006). Yarno, an offensive lineman for the Bucs (1979-83, 1985-87), spent the past four seasons with the Lions.

    Jets: John Idzik was introduced as the replacement for fired GM Mike Tannenbaum. Seattle's former vice president of football administration didn't offer specifics as he outlined a broad vision. "It will be based on a collaborative effort," he said. "It will be inclusive, well thought out and well researched. It will be the power of 'we.' "

    Rams: Rob Ryan, fired earlier this month by the Cowboys, has been hired as defensive coordinator, ESPN reported.

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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens LB Ray Lewis, who will retire after the Super Bowl, said Thursday that he's thinking only about helping Baltimore beat the 49ers.

    "Honestly, outside of putting my head in the playbook and studying San Fran, I really haven't thought about anything else," said Lewis, 37. "It's going to be a great day, period, no matter what happens. And that's kind of the way I've approached it. I haven't even said, 'Oh man, this is your last game, what do you think?' "

    He said the real prize is not just getting to the Super Bowl, but winning it. Then, Lewis will think about what it means to walk off for the final time.

    "You feel that confetti drop, I'll probably reflect then, when I'm there," he said. "But, it really hasn't crossed my mind like that."

    That's cold: NFL officials aren't just bracing for potential wintry weather at next year's Northeastern Super Bowl — they're embracing it, commissioner Roger Goodell said. The Feb. 2, 2014 Super Bowl will be in the New York metropolitan area a region currently clenched by bitter cold and reviving chatter about weather issues. Goodell said the league would be prepared if there's snow, ice or low temperatures. "Football is made to be played in the elements," he said. The Super Bowl has never been played outdoors in a cold-weather setting.

    Family faceoff: When brothers Jim and John Harbaugh face off as coaches in the Super Bowl, family members will try to remain neutral. Jackie Harbaugh will wear a neutral-colored outfit and her daughter, Joani, little sister to Jim and John, plans to sport all black to show no allegiances. "I know one is going to win and one is going to lose, but I would really like to end in a tie,'' Jackie said. "Can the NFL do that?" John tried to trick his parents' NFL-organized conference call Thursday morning, calling in as only "John in Baltimore" and asking them: "Is it true that both of you like Jim better than John?" But Joani quickly figured him out, and Jackie said: "That was mean, John!" After a quick greeting, he was off to practice.

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    MOBILE, Ala. — One of the NFL's worst-kept secrets is the fact the Bucs are keeping a keen eye on cornerbacks during this draft season.

    As such, it was no surprise to find coach Greg Schiano, GM Mark Dominik and player personnel director Dennis Hickey following defensive backs around the field during workouts at the Senior Bowl this week.

    The consensus top cornerback, Alabama's Dee Milliner, is an underclassman and not participating. But many other top prospects are present, including Washington's Desmond Trufant, one of the week's most consistent performers, Oregon State's Jordan Poyer and Utah State's Will Davis.

    Trufant has been as impressive as any defensive player and could be pushing into the first round. His older brothers, Marcus (Seahawks) and Isaiah (Jets), are NFL cornerbacks. The 5-11, 190-pound Trufant distinguishes himself with physical play and strong man-to-man skills. He sees the latter as his meal ticket.

    "We did everything" at Washington, he said. "We did a lot of man-to-man and Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4. But I feel like I'll be a good man-to-man corner."

    Poyer is seen as another early round option. He wasn't as steady as Trufant in practices but had strong moments. He found the ball when down the field in coverage, showing good ball skills. Poyer had seven interceptions in 2012, with three against Washington State in October.

    Asked about his strengths, Poyer mentioned that he has become "a student of the game. I really study the game a lot. I think I've been able to understand the game a lot more and that's helped me take my game to the next level."

    Among the remaining cornerbacks the Bucs evaluated were UConn's Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, San Diego State's Leon McFadden, Georgia's Sanders Commings and William & Mary's B.W. Webb.

    BACK FOR MORE? TE Dallas Clark's comments after the Bucs' season finale suggested retirement was something he was considering. Though the team hasn't discussed re-signing him with his one-year contract set to expire, Clark's conversations with Schiano indicate he isn't ready to retire.

    "I know Greg talked to him at the end of the season," Dominik said. "I don't think Dallas Clark is contemplating retirement. I don't get that sense from him. But at the same time, you have to sit back and look at the whole situation, and he's making his decision."

    Tight end is among the positions the Bucs will consider upgrading, but Clark, 33, was relatively productive after two injury-filled seasons. The Bucs aren't ruling out a return.

    "I need to talk to his agent first and see where they're at," Dominik said when asked if he wants to re-sign Clark.

    "Can two people come together and make a deal. Until we have that conversation … but I was happy with the way Dallas Clark played this season. He played 16 solid games and stayed healthy, which is what a lot of outside people's concerns were."

    In other news, the Bucs signed DT Richard Clebert, who played at USF (2004-07) and was undrafted in 2008. He played with the Storm in 2011 and won Arena Football League championships with Spokane (2010) and Jacksonville (2011).

    LOOKING FOR SHOTS: Two players who many have forgotten have been the subject of much conversation this week.

    CB Tyrann "Honey Badger'' Mathieu, an All-American at LSU before his dismissal for failed drug tests, was in town to meet with teams and answer questions about his character. The Dolphins are reportedly interested. Another interesting prospect, injured South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, took a break from rehabbing his injured right knee in nearby Pensacola to meet with teams and indicated he's coming along nicely and hopes to work out in April.

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    . Tonight

    Lightning vs. Senators

    When/where: 7:30; Tampa Bay Times Forum

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: Lightning G Anders Lindback never has faced the Senators. … Ottawa G Craig Anderson entered Thursday with a league-best .983 save percentage (one goal allowed on 59 shots) and tied for the league lead with a 0.50 goals-against average. … Anderson is 6-1-0 in 10 games against the Lightning with a 1.24 goals-against average, a .955 save percentage and three shutouts. … Tampa Bay has lost two straight to the Senators at the Times Forum and has been outscored 11-3.

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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    For the first time since he was a high school freshman, Justin Upton will have brother B.J. as a teammate after Arizona traded Justin, a rightfielder, to Atlanta on Thursday.

    The Braves also got third baseman Chris Johnson and gave up Martin Prado, a 2010 All-Star at second who will play third for Arizona, right-hander Randall Delgado, one of their top prospects, and three minor-leaguers: right-hander Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury.

    B.J. Upton, 28, a centerfielder, left the Rays in November for a five-year, $75.25 million deal. Justin, 25, has three years and $38.5 million left on his deal. Now they will team with Jason Heyward, a Gold Glove winner in 2012, in the outfield.

    "I feel with the extra push from each other, there's no question we can be the best outfield in baseball," said Justin, who recently invoked his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Mariners.

    Tweeted B.J.: "Can't wait to get this season started. Gonna be a blast playing with (Justin) and (Heyward) in the outfield."

    Justin said he previously got tips from his brother from afar.

    "I think more than anything, (I'll be) able to show up at the ballpark genuinely excited every day and have that energy," he said. "The more energy you can bring from the start every day, it makes you a better player."

    Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, came to the majors at age 19. In 2011, he had career highs of 31 homers and 88 RBIs. Last year, he fell to 17 and 67). Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said he believes a change of scenery will benefit Upton.

    "The expectations were through the roof on him," Towers said. "When the team struggled, it seemed like it was always because of Justin. (Now he has) an opportunity to go to a different place … where he's just a piece of the puzzle versus the centerpiece and the big piece of the puzzle."

    Around the league: Pedro Martinez who helped Boston win a World Series, was brought back as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. … Right-hander Shaun Marcum agreed to a one-year deal with the Mets. He went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers last season. … Free agent right-hander Carl Pavano, 37, ruptured his spleen when he fell while shoveling snow, Fox Sports reported. He's not expected to be healthy until May.

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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    OXFORD, Miss. — Marshall Henderson scored 28, hitting six 3-pointers in the second half, and No. 23 Mississippi rallied for a 62-56 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night to keep pace with Florida as the only teams unbeaten in SEC play.

    Henderson, the conference's leading scorer at 18.9, nearly single-handedly carried the Rebels (16-2, 5-0 SEC) to their eighth straight victory. Two weeks ago he scored 32 against the Vols in a win in Knoxville.

    "All of a sudden he got combustible and started knocking down shots," Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. "We tried to ride him as hard as we could."

    Mississippi plays at Florida on Feb. 2.

    Reginald Buckner added 10 points in a foul-filled game that made both teams go deep into their benches. The Vols (9-8, 1-4) led for much of the game. Jordan McRae led them with 26 points.

    "We'll beat them 10 times out of 10," said Henderson, known to get under opponents' skin with his talking.

    No. 2 michigan 68, purdue 53: Trey Burke had 15 points and eight assists for the host Wolverines (18-1, 5-1 Big Ten), who trailed by seven in the first half, then took control with a 14-2 run in the second half.

    UCLA 84, No. 6 Arizona 73: Shabazz Muhammad scored 23 for the visiting Bruins, who took a 16-point lead in the first seven minutes. The Wildcats (16-2, 4-2 Pac-12) got no closer than four.

    RICHMOND 86, no. 19 vcu 74, ot: Kendall Anthony scored 21 of his 26 after halftime and the host Spiders beat the Rams (16-4, 4-1 A-10) for the second time in their past nine meetings. Richmond hit 12 3s, with Darien Brothers hitting one with 1.5 seconds left in regulation to force OT.

    Sapp inspired 'CANES: During Miami's 90-63 home rout of No. 1 Duke on Wednesday, Hurricanes players slapped the floor in the second half, mocking a longtime Blue Devils tradition. That was at the request of UM alum and former Buc Warren Sapp, who was seated in the stands. UM guard Shane Larkin said Sapp called out his name and yelled, "Slap the floor on D!" Larkin smiled as he recalled: "I just heard somebody scream my name, and I look over, and it's Warren Sapp, which is crazy. He told me to slap the floor on D, so we did. And it worked." As for Duke's reaction? "I believe we have them on the schedule again," guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. The rematch is March 2 in Durham, N.C.

    No. 3 kansas: Mario Chalmers, whose buzzer-beating shot helped deliver the 2008 national title, will have his No. 15 raised to the Allen Fieldhouse rafters during a Feb. 16 game vs. Texas. He joins 27 men and three women.

    No. 9 Butler: Guard Rotnei Clarke returned to practice and could play Saturday against Temple. The team's leading scorer missed three games with a severely sprained neck.

    Women: UK falls

    COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ieasia Walked had 16 points and eight rebounds as No. 18 South Carolina beat No. 5 Kentucky 55-50, ending the Wildcats' nation-best winning streak at 17 games.

    Kentucky (18-2, 6-1 SEC) led for most of the second half before the Gamecocks went on a 18-4 run to take a 52-44 lead with 3:34 left. South Carolina (17-3, 5-2) hit only three free throws the rest of the game but hung on behind the SEC's best defense. It was the Gamecock's first win over a top five team in 12 tries under fifth-year coach Dawn Staley.

    Mississippi 88, uf 81: The Gators (13-7, 2-4 SEC) lost their third straight home game. The Rebels (8-11, 1-5) ended a five-game losing streak. Kayla Lewis led Florida with 23 points.

    No. 4 Duke 60, Clemson 46: Tricia Liston scored 22 and the visiting Blue Devils (17-1, 7-0 ACC) beat the Tigers for the 17th straight time.

    No. 8 penn state 64, Minn. 59: Maggie Lucas scored 26 and Nikki Greene had 13 rebounds and hit three key second-half shots to help the host Nittany Lions (16-2, 6-0 Big Ten) hold on for their 10th straight win.

    No. 9 Tenn. 83, Vandy 75: Taber Spani scored 24 for the visiting Vols (16-3, 7-0), the last undefeated team in SEC play.

    No. 10 maryland 85, no. 11 unc 59: Tianna Hawkins scored 25, Alyssa Thomas had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the host Terrapins (16-3, 7-1 ACC) ended the Tar Heels' 11-game winning streak. Thomas fell two assists short of her second career triple double. North Carolina (18-2, 6-1) fell into third in the ACC behind Duke and Maryland.

    No. 15 Purdue 77, N'western 73: Courtney Moses scored 26 for the host Boilermakers (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten).

    No. 16 Texas A&M 81, Miss. St. 33: Kristi Bellock scored 18 on 9 of 10 shooting for the visiting Aggies (15-5, 5-1 SEC).

    No. 17 dayton 80, gw 52: Amber Deane had 22 points for the host Flyers (16-1, 4-0 Atlantic 10) in a game played on a weekday morning in celebration of Math Day.

    No. 23 Mich. 61, Indiana 43: Rachel Sheffer scored 19 and Nya Jordan had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the visiting Wolverines (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten).

    Neb. 59, No. 25 Mich. St. 54: Jordan Hooper scored 25 as the Cornhuskers beat the Spartans (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten), who played their first game at Nebraska.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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  • 01/24/13--20:08: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 24, 2013


    'Ball boy-gate' to be reviewed

    LONDON — The disciplinary body of England's Football Association will review the game in which Chelsea wing Eden Hazard was ejected for what appeared to be kicking a 17-year-old ball boy in the ribs while attempting to retrieve the ball near the end of a League Cup semifinal match against Swansea on Wednesday.

    Hazard has apologized to the boy, Charlie Morgan, the son of multimillionaire hotel tycoon Martin Morgan, a part owner of Swansea. He will get a minimum three-match ban for violent conduct. Some former players have sympathized with Hazard, who was attempting to get the ball into play quickly after Morgan fell on top of it with Chelsea needing a late score to force extra time. The match finished 0-0, with Swansea advancing to the final 2-0 on aggregate goals.

    Morgan, who apologized to Hazard, was criticized for posting on Twitter before the game that he was asked to be a ball boy for "time wasting." He also became the butt of social media jokes for appearing to overreact to the kick.

    More soccer

    Messi's magic helps Barcelona into semis

    Lionel Messi scored in his 15th straight start to seal a 4-2 win for Barcelona at Malaga on Thursday, sending the defending champions through to a Copa del Rey semifinal against archrival Real Madrid.

    Barcelona advanced with a 6-4 victory on aggregate. Atletico Madrid eliminated Real Betis 3-1 on aggregate to reach the other semifinal with Sevilla.

    Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas broke a bone in his left hand in a quarterfinal at Valencia, the team said. It did not say how long he would be out.

    Et cetera

    Autos: Scott Pruett earned the pole for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which kicks off the racing season Saturday. Pruett covered the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway in 1 minute, 40.553 seconds. He averaged 127.455 mph, a tad faster than Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon. Pruett is looking to tie Hurley Haywood's record of five victories. … Kyle Busch signed a long-term extension to continue driving the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sprint Cup. Terms were not disclosed.

    Figure skating: Defending women's champion Ashley Wagner won the short program at the U.S. championships in Omaha, Neb. The free skate is Saturday. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were the leaders after the pairs short program. Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig, who train at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex in Manatee County, were fifth among the 10 pairs.

    X games: Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White finished second in snowboard superpipe qualifying at Aspen, Colo., to advance to Sunday's final. He goes for a sixth straight gold in the event. He also made it out of slopestyle qualifying.

    Track: 2008 Olympic hurdles champion Dayron Robles told the Associated Press he is through running for Cuba but did not elaborate.

    Times wires

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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    BOSTON — Carmelo Anthony scored 28 in his rematch with Kevin Garnett to lead the Knicks past the Celtics 89-86 Thursday.

    The victory ended an 11-game losing streak against Boston and came 17 days after a verbal clash between the forwards led to Anthony's one-game suspension for trying to confront Garnett outside the Celtics' locker room.

    Anthony, who brought a bodyguard in addition to the Knicks' usual two security guards in case fans got unruly, was booed frequently. But there was no sign of hostility between the players. At one point, Anthony helped Garnett to his feet. Why?

    "Because there's no grudges there," Anthony said. "Whatever happened, it happened. We spoke about that, and it's over with."

    The Celtics' Rajon Rondo had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. The Knicks scored the final seven of the third to take the lead for good at 72-66.

    "I was expecting the boos and a real hostile environment," Anthony said. "But it was cool. The whole night was … satisfying."

    Raptors edge Magic

    ORLANDO — DeMar DeRozan's jumper at the buzzer gave the Raptors a 97-95 win over the Magic. Toronto swept the season series, giving it four of its 16 wins.

    Orlando has lost 15 of 17.

    Said guard J.J. Redick: "I just think the basketball gods are against us right now."

    All-Star reserves: Spurs forward Tim Duncan was selected, his 14th All-Star Game, as well as two former Gator forwards, David Lee (Warriors) and Joakim Noah (Bulls), based on a vote by league coaches. Other West reserves: guards James Harden (Rockets), Tony Parker (Spurs) and Russell Westbrook (Thunder); and forwards LaMarcus Aldridge (Blazers) and Zach Randolph (Grizzlies). East reserves: guards Jrue Holiday (76ers) and Kyrie Irving (Cavs); and forwards Chris Bosh (Heat), Tyson Chand­ler (Knicks), Luol Deng (Bulls) and Paul George (Pacers).

    Hornets to Pelicans: New Orleans officially said it plans to change its name to Pelicans for next season. The league must approve, but commissioner David Stern previously said he wouldn't object to any name owner Tom Benson chose. The brown pelican is the state bird. "(Hornets) didn't mean anything to this community," Benson said of the name that came with the team when it moved from Charlotte in 2002.

    Around the league: Duncan (left knee) and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (illness) will miss their second straight game tonight. … Guard Wayne Ellington and ex-Gators center Marreese Speights will not play tonight for the Cavs. Because of paperwork, their trade from Memphis was not finalized until Thursday and they haven't practiced with their new team.

    Knicks 89, Celtics 86

    NEW YORK (89): Anthony 11-28 5-6 28, White 2-4 0-0 4, Chandler 1-2 3-3 5, Kidd 5-10 0-0 12, Shumpert 4-10 0-0 10, Smith 3-16 2-3 9, Stoudemire 4-7 7-8 15, Prigioni 2-3 0-0 6, Novak 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Brewer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-83 17-20 89.

    BOSTON (86): Pierce 6-15 9-12 22, Bass 1-3 2-2 4, Garnett 3-9 2-4 8, Rondo 10-19 3-4 23, Bradley 2-7 0-0 5, Sullinger 2-4 3-4 7, Green 4-7 0-0 9, Collins 0-0 2-2 2, Lee 2-3 0-0 4, Terry 1-6 0-0 2, Barbosa 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 31-76 21-28 86.

    New York 20 30 22 17— 89

    Boston 24 24 18 20— 86

    3-Point GoalsNew York 8-28 (Prigioni 2-3, Shumpert 2-4, Kidd 2-7, Anthony 1-6, Smith 1-6, White 0-1, Novak 0-1), Boston 3-18 (Green 1-3, Bradley 1-4, Pierce 1-5, Garnett 0-1, Barbosa 0-1, Lee 0-1, Terry 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsNew York 54 (Anthony, Stoudemire 9), Boston 52 (Garnett 12). AssistsNew York 12 (Prigioni 4), Boston 18 (Rondo 11). Total FoulsNew York 23, Boston 23. TechnicalsNew York defensive three second. A18,624 (18,624).

    Raptors 97, Magic 95

    TORONTO (97): Fields 1-4 2-2 4, E.Davis 5-11 2-4 12, Johnson 9-18 3-5 21, Calderon 4-7 1-1 10, DeRozan 10-17 2-2 22, Lowry 1-3 0-0 3, Anderson 4-9 5-5 13, Gray 1-1 0-0 2, Ross 4-8 0-0 10. Totals 39-78 15-19 97.

    ORLANDO (95): Afflalo 6-16 2-2 16, G.Davis 7-12 1-2 15, Vucevic 8-14 3-4 19, Nelson 5-13 1-2 14, Redick 4-11 4-4 14, Nicholson 0-2 0-0 0, Moore 2-7 6-6 11, Harkless 1-2 0-0 2, Ayon 2-3 0-0 4, Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 35-81 17-20 95.

    Toronto 22 26 27 22— 97

    Orlando 20 27 19 29— 95

    3-Point GoalsToronto 4-16 (Ross 2-4, Lowry 1-3, Calderon 1-4, Fields 0-1, Anderson 0-4), Orlando 8-18 (Nelson 3-7, Redick 2-3, Afflalo 2-4, Moore 1-3, Harkless 0-1). Rebounds—Toronto 42 (Johnson 10), Orlando 50 (Vucevic 14). AssistsToronto 25 (DeRozan 7), Orlando 22 (Nelson 11). Total FoulsToronto 20, Orlando 12. TechnicalsToronto defensive three second, G.Davis, Orlando defensive three second. A17,145 (18,500).

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  • 01/24/13--20:26: Sports on TV/radio
  • Times staff
    Thursday, January 24, 2013


    Action sports

    X Games, 3 p.m., ESPN

    X Games, 10:30 p.m., ESPN


    Middleweights: Dzindziruk vs. Vera, 9 p.m., ESPN2

    College basketball

    Loyola at Manhattan, 7 p.m., ESPNU

    Wis.-Green Bay at Wis.-Milwaukee, 9 p.m., ESPNU

    College hockey

    Yale at Cornell, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

    Ferris State at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN

    Minnesota State at Minnesota, 8 p.m., Big Ten


    PGA Europe: Qatar Masters, 5 a.m., Golf

    PGA: Farmer's Insurance Open, 3 p.m., Golf

    High school hockey

    Plant vs. Jesuit, 7:30 p.m., BHSN

    River Ridge vs. Wharton, 9 p.m., BHSN


    Spurs at Mavericks, 8 p.m., ESPN


    Senators at Lightning, 7:30 p.m., Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Wild at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NHL


    Mexican: Guadalajara at Monarcas, 8:30 p.m., ESPND


    Australian Open (taped), noon, ESPN2

    Australian Open: Women's final, Na vs. Azarenka, 3 a.m., ESPN


    College basketball

    Syracuse at Villanova, 11 a.m., ESPNU

    Women: Delta State at Valdosta State, 11:30 a.m., CBSSN

    Notre Dame at USF, noon, Ch. 28; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    Louisville at Georgetown, noon, ESPN

    Ohio State at Penn State, noon, ESPN2

    Maryland at Duke, 1 p.m., Ch. 10

    West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 1 p.m., ESPNU

    Boston College at Virginia, 1 p.m., FSN

    Arkansas at South Carolina, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 38

    Alabama at Tennessee, 2 p.m., ESPN2

    Providence at Marquette, 2 p.m., BHSN

    Dartmouth at Harvard, 2 p.m., NBCSN

    Marshall at Memphis, 2 p.m., Sun Sports

    Minnesota at Wisconsin, 2 p.m., Big Ten

    Northwestern at Nebraska, 3 p.m., ESPNU

    Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, 3 p.m., Ch. 44

    Oklahoma at Kansas, 4 p.m., ESPN

    W. Kentucky at Middle Tenn. State, 4 p.m., ESPN2

    LSU at Kentucky, 4 p.m., Ch. 38

    DePaul at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m., BHSN

    UCLA at Arizona State, 4 p.m., FSN

    New Mexico at San Diego State, 4 p.m., NBCSN

    Vanderbilt at Missouri, 5 p.m., ESPNU; 620-AM

    Temple at Butler, 6 p.m., ESPN2

    Georgia at Texas A&M, 6 p.m., Sun Sports

    Xavier at St. Joseph's, 6 p.m., CBSSN

    Women: Marquette at USF, 6 p.m., BHSN; 1010-AM

    USC at Arizona, 7 p.m., ESPNU

    North Carolina at N.C. State, 7 p.m., ESPN

    N. Carolina at N.C. State (in progress), 8 p.m., 1010-AM

    Florida at Mississippi State, 8 p.m., ESPN2; 620-AM

    Mississippi at Auburn, 8 p.m., Sun Sports

    La Salle at Virginia Commonwealth, 8 p.m., CBSSN

    BYU at Portland, 10:30 p.m. , ESPNU


    Bulls at Wizards, 7 p.m., WGN, NBA

    Pacers at Jazz, 9:30 p.m., NBA


    Avalanche at Sharks, 4 p.m., NHL

    Maple Leafs at Rangers, 7 p.m., NHL


    College basketball

    Michigan State at Indiana, 1 p.m., Ch. 10

    Virginia Tech at Clemson, 1 p.m., Ch. 44

    Women: Florida at Georgia, 1 p.m., BHSN

    Women: Penn State at Ohio State, 1 p.m., Big Ten

    Women: North Carolina at Miami, 2 p.m., ESPN2

    Women: Vanderbilt at Alabama, 2 p.m., Ch. 38

    Women: LSU at Kentucky, 3 p.m., FSN

    California at Colorado, 3:30 p.m., Sun Sports

    Iowa at Purdue, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten

    Women: Missouri at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

    Florida State at Miami, 6 p.m., ESPNU; 1040-AM

    Michigan at Illinois, 6 p.m., Big Ten

    Creighton at Southern Illinois, 8 p.m., ESPNU


    Heat at Celtics, 1 p.m., Ch. 28; 620-AM

    Thunder at Lakers, 3:30 p.m., Ch. 28; 620-AM

    Pistons at Magic, 6 p.m., FSN

    Hawks at Knicks, 6:30 p.m., ESPN


    Pro Bowl, 8 p.m., Ch. 8; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM


    Sabres at Capitals, 3 p.m., NHL

    Flyers at Lightning, 6 p.m., Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Wild at Blues, 6 p.m., NBCSN

    TV: BHSN: Bright House Sports Network; CBSSN: CBS Sports Network; FSN: Fox Sports Net; NBCSN: NBC Sports Network

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    By Joel Anderson, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    TALLAHASSEE — Go ahead and add Clemson to the list of teams victimized by the last-second heroics of Florida State's Michael Snaer.

    With the score tied and eight seconds left Thursday night, the Seminoles gave Snaer the ball and let him do what he first did against Duke and then Virginia Tech.

    The 6-foot-5 senior guard made a 3-pointer at the buzzer, lifting the Seminoles to a 60-57 victory in a game in which they didn't lead for nearly 30 minutes.

    Clemson "did a good job of clogging the middle up and not giving us driving lanes," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Michael didn't have much of a choice."

    Snaer finished with 11 points, Kiel Turpin scored a season-high 16 and Devon Bookert added 11 to complete FSU's regular-season sweep of Clemson.

    Until their late run, the Seminoles (11-7, 3-2 ACC) seemed destined to duplicate their season-worst offensive performance in a 56-36 loss Saturday at Virginia.

    They snapped out of their funk midway through the second half with an 8-0 run to tie the score at 44. Leading the way was Turpin, who entered the game averaging 3.6 points and had a season high of seven points against Buffalo on Nov. 12.

    The 7-footer scored six during that run, going 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. "It was a confidence booster," Turpin said. "Guys just kept feeding me."

    From there, Clemson (10-8, 2-4) held a narrow lead into the final seconds.

    Jordan Roper shook free and made a 16-foot jumper with 55.9 seconds left, giving Clemson a 57-54 lead that quieted the crowd of nearly 7,900 at the Tucker Center.

    Bookert responded after a subsequent timeout, hitting a 3-pointer that tied the score. FSU then forced a shot-clock violation to set the stage for Snaer's final shot.

    Snaer brought the ball up the floor and looked at the clock. He said he only then realized he was running out of time to make a play. "In the game, things happen faster than you think," he said.

    He sized up the defender, made his move to the right side and quickly elevated over the outstretched arms of two defenders.

    "It felt good in body as soon as the ball left my hand," Snaer said. "Then my eyes got big. I was like, 'Did that really just happen again?' "

    It was the Seminoles' first lead since 14-11 midway through the first half.

    The Seminoles' offensive woes from Virginia continued through the first half.

    Florida State went more than six minutes without a point near the end of the first half, when a 15-0 run gave Clemson a 29-16 lead. The scoreless streak ended when center Boris Bojanovsky converted a three-point play with 1:23 left.

    "Our guys are not playing with a consistent level of confidence," Hamilton said. "But I think they're going to feel better about themselves after this one."

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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    TAMPA — It took a month to evaluate the recruiting options, to carefully craft a staff of assistants, but in the last week, new USF football coach Willie Taggart has built a significant surge of momentum heading into the final 12 days before national signing day.

    Taggart's Bulls have picked up six commitments since Sunday, luring Bradenton Manatee defensive tackle Derrick Calloway out of a Louisville commitment and picking up some of the area's top remaining prospects in Countryside defensive end Mike Love, Northeast's Auggie Sanchez and Hillsborough linebacker Nigel Harris.

    "I feel good about the whole excitement at University of South Florida football, and I think it's only going to get better," Taggart said this week, unable to speak about individual recruits due to NCAA rules.

    Taggart came to Tampa with a reputation as a top recruiter — the big week has pushed USF up to the top 50 in national team rankings — with a strong finish, the Bulls could have the highest-rated class in this fall's Big East lineup. Much of the recent push has been on the defensive side, with five of the six most recent commitments on that side of the ball, impressed by defensive backs coach Ron Cooper's time at LSU and the NFL background of new coordinator Chuck Bresnahan.

    Calloway has been perhaps the biggest splash in the recruiting class, pulled away from Louisville and a strong recruiter in Charlie Strong, just weeks after the Cardinals routed Florida in the Sugar Bowl. There was a built-in advantage in that Taggart starred at Manatee himself, but Calloway's position coach said that aspect might be overrated, given that Calloway only came to Manatee in 2011 after moving from California.

    "A lot of people think, 'Oh, you're from Manatee, you're biased about Willie,' " said Steve Gulash, who played with Taggart on a state championship squad at Manatee 20 years ago. "I'd love for Willie to coach every kid I've ever coached. Only because I know what he's about, where he's from. ... You realize he's a dynamic young coach. He may have great success, he may have great failure. What I know is when you're an aggressive recruiter and you tell the truth, that tends to have success."

    The question now is how well can Taggart close out his first recruiting class, which still has key unfilled needs at quarterback and running back. Winter Park's Asiantii Woulard, who had twice committed to USF under Skip Holtz, only to re-open his recruiting both times, just visited Clemson and will visit UCLA, so the Bulls may face tough odds there. In his place, the Bulls may turn to one of two Fort Lauderdale passers — Tyler Cogswell, a former Arkansas commitment, or John O'Korn, who is committed to Houston.

    Running back is a priority in these final scholarships, with several prospects in play — DeLand's JoJo Kemp, another early USF commitment who went back on the open market, chose USF over Tennessee for an official visit this weekend, and the Bulls are bringing in Stafon McCray from Kissimmee Osceola, where he has rushed for more than 3,200 yards and 45 touchdowns in the past two seasons. Another potential local coup would be Jesuit tight end Travis Johnson, who was scheduled to visit Rutgers this weekend until he changed plans to visit USF, the day after a home visit from USF coaches.

    Taggart came into the recruiting game late in the process for this class, conceding that relationships are often forged over a year or more before signing day. He has found success, especially in the immediate area, and has a chance to build on that first class over the next two weekends.

    "Ever since I was a little kid, I always told my mom I wanted to go to USF," said Kissimmee defensive back Hassan Childs, who committed Sunday.

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    By Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    TAMPA — The road to the Lakeland Center begins this week for girls basketball teams. • And a handful — notably Seffner Christian and Freedom — have excellent chances of making it. But to reach next week's state playoffs, the teams have to navigate their way through this week's district tourneys. Here's a peek:

    8A-7 at Alonso

    Tuesday: No. 4 Wharton vs. No. 5 Bloomingdale, 5 p.m.; No. 3 Alonso vs. No. 5 Durant, 7 p.m.

    Wednesday: No. 1 Newsome vs. Wharton-Bloomingdale winner, 5 p.m.; No. 2 Plant vs. Alonso-Durant winner, 7 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

    The skinny: This should be a tight three-team race with Newsome, Plant and Alonso vying for just two spots. The Panthers and Wolves split during the regular season and we could see the rubber match in Friday's final.

    Player to watch: Newsome's Lauren Boeger is dangerous from the inside or outside. Boeger leads the Wolves in scoring (18.5 points per game), rebounding (seven rebounds per game) and shoots just under 50 percent from beyond the arc.

    7A-8 at Tampa Bay Tech

    Tuesday: No. 4 East Bay vs. No. 5 Plant City, 5 p.m.; No. 3 Hillsborough vs. No. 6 Brandon, 7 p.m.

    Wednesday: No. 1 Riverview vs. East Bay-Plant City winner, 5 p.m.; No. 2 Tampa Bay Tech vs. Hillsborough-Brandon winner, 7 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

    The skinny: Riverview, which lost three key players to transfer before the season, reeled off 11 straight wins to start the season and shocked area fans by taking the No. 1 seed from TBT. The Sharks and Titans each took a game on the other's home court and Riverview is going to have to go through TBT at their gym in order to win the district.

    Player to watch: Asia Royster makes the Sharks tick. The sophomore guard is a slasher with tremendous vision.

    7A-9 at Freedom

    Tuesday: No. 4 Gaither vs. No. 4 Chamberlain, 7 p.m.

    Wednesday: No. 2 Steinbrenner vs. No. 3 Wiregrass Ranch, 6 p.m.; No. 1 Freedom vs. Gaither-Chamberlain winner, 7:30 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

    The skinny: The Patriots are a serious state contender and their only two losses of the season came during an out-of-town tournament. Freedom should breeze through this district with Steinbrenner and Wiregrass Ranch battling it out for the other playoff slot.

    Player to watch: Freedom's Faith Woodard is the county's best player. Woodard, a Georgetown commit, is a dominant post player with a slew of complementary players around her.

    6A-11 at Sickles

    Monday: No. 4 Jefferson vs. No. 5 King, 6 p.m.; No. 3 Armwood vs. No. 6 Leto, 7:30 p.m.

    Wednesday: No. 2 Strawberry Crest vs. Armwood-Leto winner, 6 p.m.; No. 1 Sickles vs. Jefferson-King winner, 7:30 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

    The skinny: Top-ranked Sickles ran out to a 12-0 start before losing three of its next six during holiday tournaments. The Hawks and Chargers split during their regular season meetings and are expected to match up in the semis with a playoff spot on the line.

    Player to watch: Strawberry Crest's Aliyah Gregory is among the county leaders at 22.4 points per game and has a remarkable 126 steals on the season.

    5A-11 at Robinson

    Tuesday: No. 5 Spoto vs. No. 4 Lennard, 7 p.m.

    Wednesday: No. 2 Blake vs. No. 3 Middleton, 6:30 p.m.; No. 1 Robinson vs. Lennard-Spoto winner, 8 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

    The skinny: The Knights got off to a rocky start, losing their first four games of the season, but Robinson rebounded nicely, winning 13 of its next 14 and should cruise through this district at home.

    Player to watch: Deliah Autry, who doubles as the Knights' quarterback on the flag football team, is averaging just under 14 points per game and leads Robinson in steals.

    4A-9 at Academy of the Holy Names

    Wednesday: No. 2 Tampa Catholic vs. No. 3 Booker, 5:30 p.m.; No. 1 Academy of the Holy Names vs. No. 4 Berkeley Prep, 7 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

    The skinny: Wednesday is the big night because the winners of this four-team district advance to the playoffs. Top-seeded AHN has knocked off No. 2 Tampa Catholic twice this season.

    Player to watch: Ashley McWilliams is the catalyst of the Jaguars offense. The only AHN player posting double digits in scoring, McWilliams is averaging 20.8 points per game.

    3A-8 at Tampa Prep

    Tuesday: No. 4 Brooks DeBartolo vs. No. 5 Carrollwood Day School, 6 p.m.

    Wednesday: No. 1 Seffner Christian vs. Brooks DeBartolo-CDS winner, 6 p.m.; No. 2 Bishop McLaughlin vs. No. 3 Tampa Prep, 7:30 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7:30 p.m.

    The skinny: Seffner Christian, which reached the region finals last season, has a trip to Lakeland in its sights. The Crusaders' only two losses of the season came at the prestigious Queen of the Palms Tournament during the winter break.

    Player to watch: Tesha Hanson, who transferred back to Seffner Christian after a year at Riverview, is one of three Crusaders averaging double digits (17.2 points per game) in scoring.

    2A-8 at Academy at the Lakes

    Tuesday: No. 3 Hernando Christian vs. No. 2 Cambridge, 6 p.m.; No. 4 Tampa Bay Christian vs. No. 1 Academy at the Lakes, 7:30 p.m.

    Friday: Final, 7:30 p.m.

    The skinny: Academy at the Lakes is in a class by itself in this district. But the second playoff slot is wide open between Hernando Christian and Cambridge.

    Player to watch: Andrea Mauger is the Wildcats' — and the district's — best player.

    WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.   |   Times (2012)WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times (2012)

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    By Ernest Hooper, Times Columnist
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Tampa Bay Bucs general manager Mark Dominik spent the week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., receiving congratulatory greetings from his colleagues.

    Sure, some offered compliments because of the team's improvements this season and the success of the new players brought in by Dominik. But most offered praise because the NFL and USAA Insurance, the league's official military appreciation sponsor, named Dominik one of the two finalists for the 2012 Salute to Service Award.

    Believe it or not, Dominik beamed more than he would have if they gave him accolades for drafting safety Mark Barron and running back Doug Martin.

    When the Glazer family elevated Dominik to general manager in 2009, he and his wife, Amy, set a goal of wanting to create programs and efforts that supported the military. Since then, Dominik has spearheaded the $40,000 renovation of a retired Air Force sergeant's home, created a job fair to provide veterans with job placement assistance and help them transition to civilian life, and invited wounded warriors to attend the team's annual nighttime practice during training camp.

    The Bucs also host a Salute to Service Suite at every home game, and Dominik invites 24 military members to enjoy front-row seating in his special section, Dominik's Den.

    On Saturday, Dominik will learn if he wins at the NFL Honors awards special, which will be televised on CBS.

    Dominik spoke to Times columnist Ernest Hooper about the motivation behind his efforts and how they're just a larger part of the organization's commitment to saluting the men, women and families involved in military life.

    Of the many efforts you've made to support the military, what's been one of the most memorable?

    One that's most memorable is when we do the night practice in the preseason at the stadium. We have patients from the Haley VA Hospital come to the practice, some are active and some are in the reserves. They've suffered brain trauma, there are burn victims and some who have lost limbs because of explosive devices. We bring about 15 to 20 people to that practice and we also recognize the nurses and doctors who help the veterans. To know that (up to) 20,000 people can see how these vets are growing and rehabbing and that Haley is making their lives better is really rewarding.

    I know you have family members who were in the military. How much does that influence your efforts?

    My grandfather served in World War I. I have his discharge papers and he received $118 and a note saying thanks for your service. It's neat. I guess that might have been a lot of money back then. My brother and father served in the Navy. So growing up, we were all passionate about the service. And my wife, Amy, grew up an Army brat. Her father was in the Army for 20 years and after that he served in the Army Corps of Engineers.

    In the course of this conversation, you've already mentioned your wife, Amy, three or four times. She's also a big part of this, isn't she?

    Because she grew up in a military family, she understands it. She's come to a lot of the events. Part of this is wanting to show our children what we should be doing. We want to find a way to help raise their awareness.

    I know you've also staged a number of reunions where spouses returning from a deployment surprise their families. Tell me about the emotion you feel when you see one of those reunions.

    I think wives and husbands might be starting to catch on to us. But the first one a couple of years ago, she didn't think her husband would be back home for another month. She thought we brought her and the family just to see a video message. Sure enough, he comes running down the steps and her face just exploded. He was just crying and just trying to get to his family. That's an emotional moment for everyone in the stadium. Whenever you have a platform for uplifting the men and women in the military and a chance to raise awareness of the sacrifices the men and women back home make, you should use it.

    How did you feel when you saw the commercial touting you as one of the finalists?

    It was great. The timing was a little surprising, playing it when they played it, but I've received a lot of email and texts. To walk around and hear some of the statements and compliments from the military people in our community, it's been really great. They feel like Tampa Bay has made them proud, and that's what we're trying to do — raise the awareness of the entire community.

    Supporting the military means a lot to you, but really, your efforts are just a reflection of the community. Tampa Bay really cares about the military, doesn't it?

    We did the Salute to Service Suite. Every game we put men and women of the military in a suite to salute them during the game. Every week, we play a song and everybody in the stadium stands and gives them a big round of applause. Tampa Bay gets it. It's one of the great moments in our games. Everyone stands up and shows that they're standing behind these men and women.

    Sunday Conversation is edited for brevity and clarity.

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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    TAMPA — With all of 17 points in his first 14 games, USF freshman guard JaVontae Hawkins was content to make this a low-key season of transition, easing into college basketball with a small role off the bench.

    But two injuries pressed him into a starting role, and the timetable for Hawkins' arrival has accelerated, with 33 points in his past four games. As the Bulls work to improve on a 1-5 start in Big East play, the sharpshooter from Flint, Mich., has gone from a future star to a player making key contributions immediately.

    "I knew it was going to come at some point but didn't know it would come that soon," the 6-foot-5 guard said Friday as he prepared for a home game today against No. 24 Notre Dame. "I was just waiting for the opportunity to be given. I love doing what they ask me to do. If that's being in the spotlight, I never had a problem with that."

    Today, he is a gym rat, often stopping by the Muma Center in the middle of the night for extra practice. But amazingly, Hawkins didn't take up basketball until the eighth grade, at a friend's urging.

    "I was just into video games," Hawkins said. "I was one of the tallest in there, about 6 feet, so he asked me if I ever played basketball. I said no. I just tried out, and I didn't like it that much. As the season went on, I started making more friends, seeing the bonding, and I started loving the game."

    His parents liked the new hobby, which got him out of the house and away from the violence and dangers that can confront a teenager growing up in hardscrabble Flint.

    "With video games, I was probably a lazy kid, always wanted to sleep around, watch TV. They said I needed to do something productive," Hawkins said. "They pushed me even more to play basketball."

    That USF's Stan Heath landed a coveted recruit out of Michigan is a testament to the coach's roots as an assistant at Michigan State, where the Spartans' 2000 national championship squad was led by the "Flintstones" trio of Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell and Morris Peterson, all from Flint. Cleaves is a mentor to Hawkins and endorsed Heath to the recruit.

    "We have a very close relationship," said Hawkins, who often works out with Cleaves when he's back in Michigan.

    Cleaves, now a TV analyst for CBS Sports Network, said that as Hawkins embraced basketball, it helped bring out a hard-working nature that has carried over.

    "The sky's the limit for JaVontae, with his size, his athleticism, his God-given ability," Cleaves said. "The thing I really love about him is his work ethic. He'll get in that gym. I give him the straight-up Flint, Mich., attitude. I never give him any praise. I'm always on him, but I love that he doesn't mind working."

    That history with Heath made Hawkins choose the Bulls over more established programs such as Michigan, Cincinnati, Ohio State, USC, Arizona State, Iowa, Vanderbilt and DePaul. He already has seen changes since coming to campus — he arrived at 188 pounds and was quickly up to 207, with a confidence that comes with the added muscle.

    Hawkins played 33 minutes in USF's home win against Georgetown, scoring eight of the team's first 10 points, then making the highlight reels with two acrobatic baseline drives for under-the-basket layups.

    Heath, who grew up in Detroit, has had great success with Flint products, and isn't surprised by how well Hawkins has handled a bigger role, especially against tougher Big East foes. Toughness, he said, is a given in Flint.

    "That's in his genes. It's where he's from. If you ever go to Flint, it's as tough a town as you're going to find," Heath said. "It's a town that's been hit hard by the (decline of the) economy, by the auto industry. I haven't seen a kid from Flint yet that doesn't have toughness, that doesn't compete, that doesn't work hard. That's what's in his blood."

    So while it's too early to make parallels to a player who captained a national championship team and played six years in the NBA, Heath said there are moments when Hawkins reminds him of Cleaves and has the coach excited about the freshman's future.

    "It brings back a lot of really good memories," Heath said. "You see some of the same attributes. He wants it bad. There's a lot of things you can teach, but you can't teach a kid how bad he wants something. He's a hard worker. He's got a high ceiling. You can tell he's still learning, still developing. … As he evolves and really masters his game, his leadership will come out."

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    By Dave Walker, Times Correspondent
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    What's hot: After many days of heinous winds, Tampa Bay has settled down. Nice days at this time of year are infrequent and you should take advantage of them. Speckled trout are especially active now. The feeder creeks in upper Tampa Bay are loaded with trout and an occasional redfish. Live shrimp and soft, plastic jigs will trigger a positive response from winter trout. The trout seem to be abundant. That's great news because several years ago, red tide wiped out many fish, particularly spotted sea trout.

    Tip: Always bring an extra jacket when boating. There always seems to be a passenger who insists it is not cold. Try whisking across a large section of 60-degree water at 30 mph and tell me it's not cold. It's also a good time to have equipment serviced or checked. From the look of things, we might have an early spring.

    Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531, email captdavewalker@verizon.net or visit snookfish.com.

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    By Don Jensen, Times Correspondent
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    ST. PETERSBURG — Lily Rose is a small girl with a huge 'tude.

    "She's my little tomboy," Patty Floyd said. "She stands her ground and doesn't let anybody bully her. She's just got that 'I want to be the best' attitude."

    Less than a month into Derby Lane's 88th season, no greyhound has been better than Lily Rose. She has won the track's first two stakes of the meet: the $10,000 Matinee Idol on Monday and the $8,000 Inaugural on Jan. 5 for owners and kennel operators Randy and Patty Floyd.

    Lily Rose ran her finest race in the Matinee Idol, clocking a personal-best 550-yard time of 30.62 seconds. The Floyd & Porter kennel sprinter finished 3 lengths ahead of McAllister kennel's Flyin Pink Floyd. And for the second consecutive stakes, she knocked off track defending top dog Venus Espinosa, who was 61/2 lengths behind in fifth. Lily Rose beat the Patriot kennel standout by a neck in the Inaugural.

    Trained by Liz Dunnuck, Lily Rose has 17 victories from 53 starts. Patty Floyd said the 25-month-old female is nothing like her dam, Miss Merle, a two-time stakes runner for the Floyds.

    "Miss Merle was such a sweetheart, but Lily Rose is like queen bee everywhere she goes," Patty Floyd said. "She is really special to us, because most of our males have been the better dogs — Joe Hearns, Brady Thomas (and) Hometown Boy."

    Sired by 2001 All-America selection and two-time stakes winner Kiowa Sweet Trey, Lily Rose was whelped on the Belleview farm of Chuck Schoup near Ocala. The 66-pound female was sent to Rosebud, Texas, for training by Peter Limmer, whose father, Hans, owns Nova kennel at Derby Lane.

    Lily Rose lost her first lifetime start in May at St. Petersburg by 23 lengths, and the following one by 17.

    While Lily Rose didn't clock a 550 time in less than 31 seconds until her 19th start, she has cashed 41 times with top-four finishes.

    "She really proved herself (in the Matinee Idol)," Patty Floyd said.

    Horses: Multiple graded stakes-placed Honey Chile faces 10 fillies and mares today in the $75,000 Lightning City Stakes (Race 10, 4:57 p.m.) at Tampa Bay Downs. … Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Award winner Shanghai Bobby, one of 54 nominations for the Grade III $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 2 at Oldsmar, is entered today in the Grade III $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (Race 10, 5:05) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.

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    Times wires
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray was sucking in deep breaths, trying to recover from his exhausting win over Roger Federer. Pain was very much on his mind.

    But Murray was already thinking about Sunday's Australian Open final against two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is on a 20-match winning streak at Melbourne Park. It will be a rematch of last year's U.S. Open final, won by Murray.

    "Every time we play each other, it's normally a very physical match," Murray said. "I'll need to be ready for the pain. I hope it's a painful match. That'll mean it's a good one."

    Murray defeated Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 in a four-hour semifinal Friday. It was Murray's first victory against the 17-time major winner at a Grand Slam event.

    Murray had a 10-9 record against Federer but had lost their three previous Grand Slam matches. One of those defeats came in last year's Wimbledon final. Murray says that disappointment triggered his run to the gold medal at the London Olympics shortly after and then his triumph at the U.S. Open.

    "I've obviously lost some tough matches against him in Slams," Murray said. "So to win one, especially the way that it went (Friday), was obviously nice."

    Murray ended a 76-year drought for British men at the majors when he beat Djokovic in five sets in the U.S. Open final.

    He's hoping the step-by-step manner in which he has crossed career milestones off his to-do list will continue Sunday. He lost four major finals, including two in Australia, before winning one. He lost three times to Federer in a major before beating him. Even then, he wasted a chance to serve out in the fourth set Friday as Federer rallied.

    "Those matches … have helped obviously mentally," Murray said. "I think going through a lot of the losses that I've had will have helped me as well. Obviously having won against Novak before in a Slam final will help mentally."

    Federer could see improvement in Murray's approach in the tough situations.

    "With the win at the Olympics and the U.S. Open, maybe there's just a little bit more belief," Federer said, "or he's a bit more calm overall."

    Djokovic has three Australian titles total and aims to be the first man in the Open era to win three in a row. He was nearly flawless in his 89-minute disposal of No. 4-ranked David Ferrer in the other semifinal and said he hoped Murray and Federer would go five sets.

    "Obviously, Novak goes in as the favorite, I would think," Federer said. "He's done really well again this tournament. Obviously a tough match again and give a slight edge to Novak just because of the last couple of days."

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    Times wires
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods made one last birdie as the rain picked up Friday, and what he left behind was a gloomy forecast for everyone else at Torrey Pines.

    He had a two-shot lead at the tournament he already has won six times.

    He is driving long and straight, just what he needs on the par 5s, which he played in 9 under after two rounds.

    As for experience, he has a 74-0 advantage in PGA Tour wins against the next seven guys on the leaderboard.

    Woods, who is at 11-under 133, knows better than to chalk up another win in the Farmers Insurance Open, so when asked about his name atop the leaderboard after 7-under 65 on the North Course, he was quick to say, "We have a long way to go."

    Playing the North Course, Woods hit a 5-iron to 5 feet for eagle and a wedge that one-hopped off the pin to set up birdie. That carried him to a two-shot lead over Billy Horschel going into the weekend.

    Asked whether he played better when everything was going well in his life, Woods waited out the long question with a short answer: "I feel good right now. I'm leading the tournament."

    Horschel, who went back to Q-school to get his card last year, had 69 on the South Course to get into the final group.

    "It's a good day, and I'm excited about (today) — I get to play with Tiger," Horschel said. "I found out when I tapped in for par."

    For Woods, it was his first outright lead going into the weekend against a full field since the Australian Open in 2011 (he finished third at The Lakes), and his first time atop the leaderboard at Torrey Pines since 2008. Then again, he has only played one time at this event since then when he was just starting to change his swing.

    And while it looks ominous for everyone else, Woods with a 36-hole lead — even at Torrey Pines where he has won seven times as a pro — doesn't mean it's over. He is 34-10 with at least a share of the 36-hole lead but has failed to win four of the past six times from that spot.

    Woods caught a break by playing the easier North — it's about 600 yards shorter — on a day of light rain, a late breeze and soft conditions. But he kept the ball in play off the tee, and he only got in trouble once. That was on the par-4 eighth when he drove into a tough lie in the bunker, and it led to his only bogey.

    Six players were at 8-under 136 including Erik Compton, whom Woods called "remarkable" for being a two-time heart transplant recipient and being on tour.

    Phil Mickelson struggled to keep his hands dry in the wet weather and finished bogey-bogey on the South for 71 to make the cut on the number at 1-under 143.

    PGA EUROPE: Chris Wood shot 8-under 64 to move to 15-under 201 and a three-stroke lead on Michael Campbell and two others after the third round of the Qatar Masters in Doha. Second-round leader Sergio Garcia (70) fell into a tie for fifth, four strokes out.

    0 0

    Times wires
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    MOBILE, Ala. — Quarterbacks in college all-star games have tough assignments.

    The six at today's Senior Bowl will play off cliff notes of an unfamiliar offense, throw to unfamiliar receivers, take snaps from an unfamiliar center and — for some just as important — take snaps from under center instead of the shotgun.

    All with dozens of scouts, coaches and NFL executives studying their every move.

    "It's a job interview," Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib said, "so you've got to be ready to go when it's time to go."

    West Virginia's Geno Smith, considered by many to be the top quarterback prospect, skipped the game.

    That leaves Nassib, N.C. State's Mike Glennon and Zac Dysert Miami (Ohio) for the North team, and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson for the South team. All piled up big college numbers — then had to start over on Monday.

    "People underestimate how difficult it is when you come into an environment like this," Lions and South coach Jim Schwartz said.

    The six quarterbacks bring plenty of experience to the task. They've logged an average of 10,000-plus passing yards and 71 touchdowns. Jones is, perhaps, the biggest name. The four-year starter threw for 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns.

    "I look around, and there's some really talented quarterbacks here; guys that I've been hearing about all year long and watching on TV," Nassib said. "It's a very competitive class. I just have to make sure I go out and play my game and try to prove myself to these teams here."

    Manuel, at 6 feet 4, 237 pounds, has impressed Schwartz.

    "The thing that pops out is his size," said Schwartz, who also praised his accuracy. "(Ben) Roethlisberger's a big quarterback, but I think he's got nothing on Manuel. He's got super long arms. He looks like a tight end out there. He's just a really, really big man."

    0 0

    Times wires
    Friday, January 25, 2013

    HONOLULU — Texans star running back Arian Foster said players are going to step up at the Pro Bowl on Sunday but don't expect 100 percent effort.

    "This isn't basketball," he said Friday. "You can't go play a pickup game of football."

    Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear the all-star game won't be played going forward if it's second-rate football. But Foster said if the NFL expects 100 percent effort from its stars, the game likely will be scrapped.

    "I think it's an honor and a tradition," he said. "But for you to expect the best athletes in the NFL to come out and play a game 100 percent when you can't game plan, you can't blitz, you can't do all these things, it's not going to be competitive like everybody wants it to be."

    Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said he wants the game to continue because it allow younger players to interact with veterans.

    "Don't tell me there's not great value in that conversation," he said.

    "Is there monetary value in that conversation? I would argue yes. I would argue that's helping keep the NFL as great as it is, so I'd hate for it to be canceled."

    Pro Bowl Redskin hit by bottle, Tasered

    Redskins left tackle Trent Williams won't play in the Pro Bowl after a fight early Friday morning at a Honolulu nightclub.

    Williams, 24, was not arrested, and espn.com reported he was hit by a champagne bottle and Tasered (not by police). Police said one man was arrested and more arrests are "likely." They did not say what caused the fight.

    The league announced that Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil will replace Williams.

    In other Pro Bowl news, Packers center Jeff Saturday said he will retire after the game. He played 14 seasons and was part of the Colts' Super Bowl title team.

    Another Ex-Buc in Dallas: Rich Bisaccia resigned as Auburn's special teams coach three weeks after being hired to take the same job with the Cowboys. Bisaccia was the Bucs' special teams coach from 2002-10. He spent the past two seasons in the same position with the Chargers. In Dallas, he is reunited with new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who held the same positions with the Bucs.

    Revis interest: Several teams have talked to the Jets about trading for star corner Darrelle Revis, cbssports.com and New York's Newsday reported. Both reported the Jets want a first- and second-round pick for Revis, 27, who missed most of this season with a torn left ACL. He can become an unrestricted free agent after next season because his contract prohibits teams from designating him a franchise player.

    49ers: Receiver Michael Crabtree won't face a sexual assault charge "at this time," the San Francisco District Attorney's Office said. A complaint was filed after the Jan. 12 win over Green Bay.

    Lions: Receiver Titus Young, suspended by the team for several infractions during the season, continued to criticize the team via Twitter. He tweeted Tuesday that he would retire if he didn't get the ball more often. Coach Jim Schwartz responded by criticizing Young's method of communication. Young tweeted Friday: "Oh I'm not done, if y'all going to cut me let me go. I'm tired of the threats. Never needed the money. Give me a dollar and a ball bet I come back #HallofFame."

    Ravens: The league fined safety Bernard Pollard $15,250 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Patriots receiver Wes Welker during the AFC title game.

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