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Super Bowl news and notes


Times wires
Monday, February 7, 2011

DALLAS — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday took full responsibility for the ticket problems that forced 400 fans to miss a chance to watch Super Bowl XLV from inside Cowboys Stadium. And he said the NFL will make good.

"It's obviously a failure on our part, and we have to take responsibility for that," Goodell told reporters.

Goodell said the fans who couldn't sit inside the stadium would be reimbursed for three times the face value of their tickets and would be invited to next year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis at no cost.

He didn't specify whether travel arrangements would be paid for by the NFL.

In addition, fans able to attend but subjected to long pregame delays, and were told they might not be able to watch from inside the stadium, will be offered a full refund for their tickets' face value.

"For the 400 people who couldn't get into the (stadium) bowl, we're going to be reaching out to them and inviting them to the Super Bowl next year," Goodell said. "We'll bring them to the Super Bowl as guests of the NFL."

The installation of temporary seats was at issue, as inspectors from the Arlington police and fire departments determined some seats couldn't be used because of potential safety problems.

Fans who were expecting to attend the game but were hastily informed that they couldn't were furious.

Dan and Sandee McKinnon of Winneconne, Wis., were among the unhappy fans, though they did get in and ended up in the clubhouse. They were celebrating their 17th anniversary at the game.

"We missed the whole first quarter and part of the second," Sandee McKinnon told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "After an hour, to an hour and a half in line, they told us to go back to our seats. They said an NFL rep would meet us. But nobody was there. We never did see an NFL rep."

The McKinnons and others ended up watching the game in the North Field Club, behind the Pittsburgh bench. The only windows gave them a good view of the Steelers' feet.

WATCHING CLOSELY: Indianapolis, which hosts the next Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2012, is well-prepared for the type of back-to-back storms that snarled traffic and the best-laid plans in North Texas, Indy mayor Greg Ballard said. Ballard, who went to Dallas with a committee of Indianapolis' Super Bowl planners, said the area staged a good event despite troubles clearing snow and ice and fans' woes dealing with flight cancellations, traffic backups, slick sidewalks and some canceled pregame festivities. "A lot of things went right down there. They just had that extremely odd variable with the weather; it was just bad luck," Ballard said.

VICK QUIBBLE: Dallas' mayor disavowed a "key to the city" presentation for Eagles QB Michael Vick last week. In a statement issued Monday, Tom Leppert said the presentation was made without his knowledge and approval. Dallas mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway presented Vick the key at a ceremony in Dallas last week. Vick was named AP comeback player of the year for his first season as a starter after serving 18 months in prison for dogfighting.

Party's just starting for Lambeau faithful


Times wires
Monday, February 7, 2011

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Thousands of exhausted but euphoric Packers fans welcomed their cherished team home as Super Bowl champions Monday, a day after a nail-biting victory over the Steelers.

Schools dismissed early and people took time off work to watch the team's motorcade travel from Austin Straubel International Airport to Lambeau Field along a route that included Lombardi Avenue, named in honor of legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

Fans who spent Sunday night partying right after their team's 31-25 victory in Super Bowl XLV picked up right where they left off, showing up hours early for the parade. They jammed Lambeau's atrium and clogged the stadium's pro shop as they bought piles of Super Bowl gear and memorabilia. To make room, the team finally had to herd shoppers and visitors into a line that stretched outside the stadium.

Ashley Ellis, 17, and Erica Christensen, 18, of Oak Creek went to bed at midnight after celebrating the win. They were up at 4 a.m. to drive to Green Bay and stake out a spot for the parade. Asked why anyone would get up at 4 a.m. to visit a football stadium, Christensen replied simply.

"Love them," she said.

By early afternoon, throngs of fans in cheeseheads, green and gold beads, jerseys and Packer parkas jammed the team's route, transforming the streets into human trenches.

A house across the street from the stadium — Lambeau Field famously sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood — blared Queen's We Are The Champions.

Craig Umentum, 29, of Green Bay dragged a green-and-gold wagon loaded with a case of beer.

"The title is home, baby!" Umentum yelled, his voice still hoarse from screaming Sunday night.

Joni Hamalainen, 25, of Helsinki, Finland, arrived in Green Bay on Friday to watch the game. A longtime Packers fan, he said he considered going to the Super Bowl, but it was too expensive. Instead he journeyed to Green Bay — alone — and watched the game with hundreds of new friends at a bar and grill.

"It's a dream trip," he said as he waited for the motorcade to arrive.

Rich Winker, 42, of La Crosse, Wis., showed up in former Packers linebacker Ray Nitchske's No. 66 jersey and a replica old-school Packers leather helmet. He said he decided at 11 p.m. Sunday to make the four-hour drive to Green Bay on Monday.

"It is awesome," he said. "It's just unreal how many people are here. Who knows when it will happen again?"

The arrival was over quickly, though; the players didn't make any formal public appearances. The real party is set for this afternoon, when the Packers are expected to stage a public rally at Lambeau.

But there's a little hitch — Lambeau's bleachers are covered with snow and ice. The team said it would pay people $8 an hour to remove it ahead of the celebration.

Meanwhile, the team's star quarterback and Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers, was celebrating far away.

His smile never faded as he rode on the back of a convertible pacing down a confetti-filled parade route through Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

"It's a special day, it really is," said Rodgers, who flew in directly from Texas. "I didn't get a lot of sleep (Sunday) night, but it's great to be able to celebrate. This is a team that came together and accomplished something special."

Rodgers became the latest Super Bowl MVP to participate in Disney's "I'm going to Disney World" commercial series, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. He is expected to rejoin his teammates for today's celebration in Green Bay.

The scene was different in Pittsburgh, where there's a silver lining for the black-and-gold faithful coming off Sunday's loss: All the "Seventh Heaven" merchandise will still be good for at least another year.

At Primanti Brothers restaurant — a Pittsburgh tradition that has fed many a Steeler fan — folks noshed on pastrami-and-cheese sandwiches, paying no attention to the muted Super Bowl highlights at a TV hanging near the counter.

Had they been listening to the TV, they'd have heard quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reflect on losing his chance to join Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Steeler legend Terry Bradshaw with three Super Bowl rings.

"I feel like I let the city of Pittsburgh down, the fans, my coaches, my teammates," he said after the loss, in which he had two interceptions.

Pitt's dominance in paint keys rally


Times wires
Monday, February 7, 2011

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Pittsburgh had a solid Plan B for West Virginia in the absence of injured guard Ashton Gibbs: spread the ball around inside to the Panthers' other playmakers.

The fourth-ranked Panthers overcame an awful start by shooting 61 percent from the field in the second half and beat No. 25 West Virginia 71-66 on Monday night.

Without Gibbs, the Panthers' leading scorer (16.3) who is out as long as two weeks with a left knee injury, Pittsburgh had little outside shooting presence, and it didn't matter. The Panthers, who lead the nation in rebounding margin, outrebounded West Virginia 40-28 on the strength of 18 offensive boards.

"We really focused on rebounding," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "We won with our rebounding and defense, and that's what we set out to do."

The Panthers pounded the ball inside, scoring 42 in the paint against a Mountaineers defense that wore down.

Nasir Robinson had 15 points, Gary McGhee 13, Travon Woodall 12 and Brad Wanamaker 11 for Pitt (22-2, 10-1 Big East).

"Ashton is a good player and a great shotmaker for us, and without him, we just wanted to come out and play our game," Wanamaker said. "We didn't want to try and fill in his shoes. We just wanted to stay with Pitt basketball and get the guys that sub in to play their game."

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins had pointed to this game as a possible jump start to a solid final month of the Big East race. Instead, the Mountaineers' shortcomings showed, and West Virginia (15-8, 6-5) has now lost three of five.

"They beat us to death on the offensive glass and drove it where they wanted to drive it," Huggins said.

NO. 2 KANSAS 103, NO. 19 MISSOURI 86: Marcus Morris had 22 points and reserve Mario Little added 17 and sparked a second-half charge for the Jayhawks (23-1, 8-1 Big 12), who beat their archrivals at home for the 12th straight time. The Tigers (18-6, 4-5) dropped to 0-5 in conference road games.

OKLAHOMA ST.: Starting forward Darrell Williams was suspended after he was charged with four felony counts alleging he inappropriately touched two women without their consent.

MISSISSIPPI ST.: Coach Rick Stansbury said guard Ravern Johnson, the team's leading scorer, has been suspended indefinitely for violating the school's class attendance policy.

TENNESSEE: Freshman guard Jordan McRae was reinstated after serving a two-week suspension for a violation of team conduct rules.

WYOMING: Coach Heath Schroyer was fired after going 49-68 in 31/2 seasons.

AP POLL: Florida moved back in at No. 17, and Temple returned at 24th. Minnesota and Washington dropped out. Ohio State remained a unanimous No. 1.


NO. 19 FSU 78, UVA 74: Cierra Bravard had 22 points and nine rebounds as the visiting Seminoles (18-5, 6-2 ACC) withstood a furious rally. FSU opened the second half with a 14-4 burst, but the Cavaliers went on a 21-7 run to make it close.

NO. 4 TENN. 73, NO. 15 KENTUCKY 67: Shekinna Stricklen had 20 points for the visiting Vols (22-2, 10-0 SEC), who won their 13th straight despite turning it over 24 times.

NO. 13 UNC 62, NO. 5 DUKE 60: Waltiea Rolle had the go-ahead three-point play with 3:20 left and blocked Chelsea Gray's shot on the final play to lift the host Tar Heels (21-3, 7-2 ACC). Gray had a season-high 20 points to lead the Blue Devils (21-2, 7-1).

AP POLL: FSU remained at No. 19, and Miami fell from 18th to 20th. No. 2 UConn moved within eight points of Baylor.


BC EYES USF ASSISTANT: Boston College is considering USF quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas for its vacant offensive coordinator position. Vaas, 58, has spoken with the Eagles, who are looking to replace retired Gary Tranquill. According to the Boston Globe, Vikings quarterback coach Kevin Rogers is a leading candidate.

THORPE AWARD: LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson received the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the best defensive back in college football.

ALABAMA: Mike Groh, a former Virginia quarterback and assistant coach, was named wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

GEORGIA: Will Friend, a former graduate assistant with the Bulldogs, is their new offensive line coach.

MICHIGAN: New coach Brady Hoke hired Curt Mallory as secondary coach and Jerry Montgomery to coach the defensive line, completing his staff.

OHIO ST.: Offensive line recruit Chris Carter of Cleveland won't face criminal charges stemming from an allegation he fondled a girl while pretending to measure her for an ROTC uniform.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Datsyuk back, scores in win


Times wires
Monday, February 7, 2011

at Red Wings 0 1 2 3
Rangers 0 0 2 2
DETROIT — Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist after missing 19 games with a broken right wrist, helping the Red Wings beat the Rangers 3-2 on Monday night.

Brandon Dubinsky scored with 4:05 left to pull the Rangers within one. They failed to tie it despite having a two-man advantage for 44 seconds late in the third and being on the power play to end the game. Those situations were created when former Red Wing Sean Avery drew two high-sticking penalties, getting hit in the face both times.

Datsyuk's second-period goal allowed Detroit to avoid getting shut out in three straight games for the first time.

Martin Biron, making a second straight start in place of Henrik Lundqvist, stopped 32 shots for the Rangers.

The Rangers haven't won in regulation since beating Toronto on Jan. 19 and are mired in their worst slump of the year, going winless in five games.

Detroit's Valtteri Filppula was knocked out of the game with a lower-body injury. New York's Chris Drury (left knee) missed his second straight game.

game highlights: Nikolai Kulemin and Tim Brent each scored third-period goals and the host Maple Leafs beat the Thrashers 5-4, overcoming six minor penalties that led to a 2-0 deficit in the first period. The teams have combined for 30 goals in three meetings. … Rookie Devan Dubnyk made 37 saves for his first career NHL shutout, fighting off a 13-1 Predators shots-on-goal advantage in the first 10 minutes, and the host Oilers won 4-0. Nashville failed on five power plays against the league's 30th ranked penalty kill.

forsberg update: A day after officially rejoining the NHL after a three-year hiatus, Peter Forsberg practiced with the Avalanche. It's still not clear when the former league MVP can play — he has some immigration issues to clear up — but he knows the butterflies will be flying with the puck once it gets here.

"I'm nervous how it's going to go," said Forsberg, 37. "I'm not really sure if I'm going to be good or bad. I'm going to be very nervous for the first game, so I wish it could come right away."

He said he's feeling healthy.

"I really don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I know they're working on it and hopefully will get it done as soon as possible. I don't know the specifics."

The Avalanche hopes Forsberg can play on a trip that continues in Minnesota on Wednesday.

"There are some logistics that need to be taken care of and after he's taken care of that, it'll be Peter and my decision when we want to get him back in there," coach Joe Sacco said. "I think once we clear it up, he'll be available, he'll play."

around the league: Bruins center Marc Savard is out for the season after he was placed on long-term injured reserve with his second concussion in less than a year. "It's tough to understand why this happened,'' said Savard, 33, who is not sure whether his career is over. "It will take time and patience, those two things I don't feel like I have much of." … Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the team had not expected Sidney Crosby, out since a loss to the Lightning on Jan. 5, to miss this much time (13 games) with a mild concussion. A return date is unclear. "We certainly want to make sure we go through the necessary steps, and he gets returned to health and he's symptom-free,'' Bylsma said.

at Red Wings 0 1 2 3
Rangers 0 0 2 2

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesSauer, NYR (tripping), 3:27; Kronwall, Det (holding), 19:16.

Second Period1, Detroit, Datsyuk 13 (Hudler, Cleary), 2:52. PenaltiesPrust, NYR (holding stick), 6:49.

Third Period2, N.Y. Rangers, Stepan 15 (Gilroy, Wolski), 3:09. 3, Detroit, Hudler 5 (Ericsson, Datsyuk), 5:04. 4, Detroit, Miller 4 (Abdelkader), 14:37. 5, N.Y. Rangers, Dubinsky 18 (Avery, Gaborik), 15:55. PenaltiesKindl, Det (delay of game), 6:30; Ericsson, Det (high-sticking), 16:20; Abdelkader, Det, double minor (high-sticking), 17:36. Shots on GoalN.Y. Rangers 13-16-18—47. Detroit 9-21-5—35. Power-play opportunitiesN.Y. Rangers 0 of 5; Detroit 0 of 2. GoaliesN.Y. Rangers, Biron 8-6-0 (35 shots-32 saves). Detroit, Howard 26-9-3 (47-45). A20,066 (20,066). T2:21.

at Leafs 0 3 2 5
Thrashers 2 1 1 4

First Period1, Atlanta, Kane 14 (Little, Bogosian), 2:39 (pp). 2, Atlanta, Byfuglien 17 (Bogosian, Peverley), 16:14 (pp). PenaltiesKessel, Tor (hooking), 1:04; Komisarek, Tor (interference), 9:34; Ladd, Atl (cross-checking), 10:29; Versteeg, Tor (slashing), 12:57; Phaneuf, Tor (cross-checking), 14:18; Bozak, Tor (hooking), 15:54; Komisarek, Tor (tripping), 18:58.

Second Period3, Toronto, Phaneuf 2 (Grabovski, Kulemin), 1:21. 4, Toronto, Grabovski 22 (MacArthur, Kaberle), 4:06 (pp). 5, Atlanta, Antropov 10 (Stewart), 4:45. 6, Toronto, MacArthur 17 (Kaberle, Versteeg), 15:37. PenaltiesStapleton, Atl (hooking), 2:03; Thorburn, Atl (delay of game), 2:07; Grabovski, Tor (tripping), 10:20.

Third Period7, Toronto, Kulemin 19, 4:17. 8, Toronto, Brent 7 (Crabb, Armstrong), 9:28. 9, Atlanta, Ladd 17 (Peverley, Little), 11:01. PenaltiesPeverley, Atl (hooking), 19:22; Byfuglien, Atl (cross-checking), 20:00. Shots on GoalAtlanta 18-7-9—34. Toronto 11-10-11—32. Power-play opportunitiesAtlanta 2 of 7; Toronto 1 of 4. GoaliesAtlanta, Pavelec 17-15-8 (32 shots-27 saves). Toronto, Giguere 11-9-3 (34-30). A19,104 (18,819). T2:20.

Oilers 1 1 2 4
at Predators 0 0 0 0

First Period1, Edmonton, Cogliano 8 (Eberle, Hall), 14:27. PenaltiesNone.

Second Period2, Edmonton, Jones 12 (Fraser, Reddox), 14:23. PenaltiesFoster, Edm (hooking), 1:59; Goc, Nas (tripping), 7:41; Jones, Edm (hooking), 11:03; Petry, Edm (delay of game), 16:38; Rinne, Nas, served by Sullivan (holding), 17:54.

Third Period3, Edmonton, Eberle 10 (Vandermeer, Cogliano), 4:35. 4, Edmonton, Penner 18 (Hemsky), 6:58. PenaltiesPenner, Edm (slashing), 10:47; Vandermeer, Edm (holding), 16:26. Shots on GoalEdmonton 6-11-5—22. Nashville 16-6-15—37. Power-play opportunitiesEdmonton 0 of 2; Nashville 0 of 5. GoaliesEdmonton, Dubnyk 6-5-6 (37 shots-37 saves). Nashville, Rinne 18-14-5 (20-16), Lindback (6:58 third, 2-2). A14,388 (17,113). T2:17.

Tampa Bay Rays say they're not done rebuilding bullpen


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 7, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays equipment/home clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland and his staff Monday loaded the truck headed to Port Charlotte, packing 600 dozen baseballs, 30 dozen bats, 30 cases of shoe polish and full pallets of bubble gum and sunflower seeds.

But not everything will be there when camp opens next week. Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said on WDAE-AM 620's Hot Stove show that he expects restocking of the bullpen to continue not just through the spring but into the regular season.

Friedman said their preference is to add one more "late-inning, kind of high-leverage, good reliever that we have a lot of confidence in," leaving just two spots open for competition, and they will continue looking.

"We feel like it might take us a little bit to find that optimal set-up but that we have very, very capable arms and will continue to have conversations externally as well about augmenting this group," Friedman said.

The Rays are likely to announce today the moves to create roster space for Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez; most likely candidates include Leslie Anderson, Rob Delaney, Mike Ekstrom, Sam Fuld, Jose Lobaton and Justin Ruggiano.

Around the majors

YOUNG WANTS OUT: Michael Young has asked the Rangers to trade him, a request the AL champions are willing to oblige for their career hits leader who is unhappy about his changing role. General manager Jon Daniels, however, said "nothing is imminent." After signing free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre last month, Texas said Young would become the primary DH and serve in a utility role.

In other Rangers news, AL MVP Josh Hamilton, the former Rays prospect, said contract talks are "moving in the right direction" and a two-year deal is possible.

AMATEURS: Former World Series MVP Scott Brosius was named manager of the United States under-18 national team.

DODGERS: The team will wear throwback uniforms honoring its Brooklyn roots for six games this season. Fans can pick from among three uniform choices at www.dodgers.com/throwback. … Infielder Aaron Miles signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

YANKEES: Third baseman Eric Chavez, 33, a 13-year veteran who has played only 64 games the past three years because of injures, agreed to a minor-league contract.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

NBA news and notes


Times wires
Monday, February 7, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gerald Wallace had 19 points, including the clinching free throws with 3 seconds left, and the Bobcats overcame top scorer Stephen Jackson's ejection to beat the shorthanded Celtics 94-89 on Monday night.

It was a testy game with five technicals called and Kevin Garnett leveling an elbow into Eduardo Najera's face.

The intimidation attempt didn't work.

"I just told him he hits like my grandma," Najera said.

Ray Allen scored 25 and hit two 3-pointers, leaving him two shy of breaking Reggie Miller's career record of 2,560.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he exchanged texts with Marquis Daniels (bruised spinal cord) and said he's "doing a lot better" but it's "going to take a while" before he can play.

Skid stands alone

DALLAS — The Cavaliers broke the all-time record for consecutive defeats with their 25th, losing 99-96 to the Mavericks. Cleveland had already tied its own mark for longest skid overall (over two seasons). Cleveland had a chance to tie it with a 3 in the final seconds but made one pass too many, and time expired without a shot.

MORE GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Kobe Bryant scored 19 to lead the Lakers, who sealed it with a late 11-0 run, past the host Grizzlies, 93-84. … Timberwolves guard Michael Beasley had 14 points in a 104-92 win at the Hornets but had to be helped off with a left leg injury in the fourth quarter. … Kevin Martin scored 37 as the visiting Rockets, minus guard Aaron Brooks, beat Denver 108-103 despite Carmelo Anthony's 50 points. Houston suspended Brooks for leaving the court late in Saturday's win over Memphis.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Ex-Gator star Jason Williams signed with Memphis, where he played from 2001 to 2005.

Bobcats 94, Celtics 89

BOSTON (89): Pierce 6-14 9-10 22, Garnett 4-11 1-2 9, Perkins 4-6 0-2 8, Rondo 4-13 2-2 10, Allen 9-17 5-5 25, Davis 1-5 5-6 7, Wafer 1-5 0-0 3, Harangody 1-1 0-0 3, Robinson 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 31-76 22-27 89.

CHARLOTTE (94): Wallace 6-16 6-8 19, Diaw 3-5 0-0 7, K.Brown 1-9 2-2 4, Augustin 3-9 1-1 9, Jackson 4-7 3-5 11, Henderson 5-13 5-5 15, Najera 2-5 0-0 5, Mohammed 1-4 1-2 3, Livingston 7-10 4-6 18, D.Brown 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 33-79 23-30 94.

Boston 29 21 19 20— 89

Charlotte 25 26 14 29— 94

3-Point GoalsBoston 5-14 (Allen 2-2, Harangody 1-1, Wafer 1-2, Pierce 1-5, Rondo 0-1, Robinson 0-3), Charlotte 5-16 (Augustin 2-5, Diaw 1-2, Najera 1-3, Wallace 1-3, Henderson 0-1, Jackson 0-2). ReboundsBoston 42 (Garnett 14), Charlotte 61 (Wallace 16). AssistsBoston 25 (Rondo 14), Charlotte 16 (Augustin 4). Total FoulsBoston 23, Charlotte 17. TechnicalsGarnett, Pierce, K.Brown, Jackson 2, Charlotte defensive three second. Ejected— Jackson. A19,081 (19,077).

Mavericks 99, Cavaliers 96

CLEVELAND (96): Eyenga 7-15 0-0 15, Jamison 8-23 1-1 18, Hickson 12-18 2-4 26, Sessions 6-12 7-7 19, Parker 3-10 0-0 7, Gibson 1-5 0-0 2, Moon 2-5 0-0 4, Hollins 1-2 3-5 5, Graham 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-91 13-17 96.

DALLAS (99): Stojakovic 3-9 1-2 8, Nowitzki 5-11 2-2 12, Chandler 3-7 4-4 10, Kidd 2-6 0-0 6, Stevenson 1-4 0-0 3, Barea 4-9 0-0 9, Terry 7-16 7-7 23, Marion 5-15 7-8 17, Mahinmi 4-6 3-4 11, Cardinal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-83 24-27 99.

Cleveland 28 21 24 23— 96

Dallas 29 30 18 22— 99

3-Point GoalsCleveland 3-14 (Eyenga 1-3, Parker 1-4, Jamison 1-6, Moon 0-1), Dallas 7-22 (Kidd 2-5, Terry 2-5, Barea 1-3, Stevenson 1-3, Stojakovic 1-6). ReboundsCleveland 50 (Hickson 12), Dallas 57 (Chandler 11). AssistsCleveland 18 (Sessions 13), Dallas 21 (Kidd 8). Total FoulsCleveland 20, Dallas 18. TechnicalsCleveland defensive three second. A19,875 (19,200).

Lakers 93, Grizzlies 84

L.A. LAKERS (93): Artest 4-11 2-6 13, P.Gasol 6-11 5-9 17, Bynum 4-6 3-6 11, Fisher 4-7 0-0 10, Bryant 6-17 7-7 19, Odom 5-14 4-7 15, Blake 1-1 0-0 3, Brown 2-7 0-0 5, Walton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-74 21-35 93.

MEMPHIS (84): Gay 7-15 3-4 18, Randolph 2-14 4-4 8, M.Gasol 5-14 0-0 10, Conley 5-12 2-3 13, Young 9-19 2-2 22, Allen 2-5 2-2 6, Vasquez 1-2 0-0 2, Arthur 2-2 1-2 5, Thabeet 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-83 14-17 84.

L.A. Lakers 26 24 23 20— 93

Memphis 29 16 23 16— 84

3-Point GoalsL.A. Lakers 8-16 (Artest 3-6, Fisher 2-3, Blake 1-1, Brown 1-2, Odom 1-3, Bryant 0-1), Memphis 4-10 (Young 2-3, Conley 1-2, Gay 1-3, Randolph 0-1, Allen 0-1). ReboundsL.A. Lakers 58 (Odom 11), Memphis 51 (Randolph, M.Gasol 12). AssistsL.A. Lakers 22 (Bryant 6), Memphis 18 (Randolph, Conley 4). Total FoulsL.A. Lakers 15, Memphis 25. TechnicalsL.A. Lakers defensive three second, Gay. A18,119 (18,119).

T'wolves 104, Hornets 92

MINNESOTA (104): Beasley 6-16 2-2 14, Love 6-12 14-14 27, Milicic 0-0 0-0 0, Flynn 5-10 2-2 13, Brewer 1-4 0-0 3, Pekovic 4-4 4-4 12, Johnson 1-7 0-0 3, Hayward 0-2 0-0 0, Tolliver 4-8 0-0 12, Telfair 3-6 0-0 9, Ellington 4-10 3-3 11, Koufos 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-79 25-25 104.

NEW ORLEANS (92): Pondexter 1-5 2-2 4, West 7-16 4-4 18, Gray 2-4 0-2 4, Paul 5-11 7-8 17, Belinelli 6-16 0-0 15, Smith 2-3 0-2 4, Green 3-6 3-4 11, Pavlovic 2-8 0-0 4, Andersen 2-4 0-0 4, Mbenga 1-2 0-0 2, Jack 1-3 0-0 2, Thornton 3-6 0-0 7. Totals 35-84 16-22 92.

Minnesota 23 37 22 22— 104

New Orleans 23 23 24 22— 92

3-Point GoalsMinnesota 11-26 (Tolliver 4-7, Telfair 3-5, Brewer 1-2, Love 1-2, Flynn 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Beasley 0-1, Hayward 0-1, Ellington 0-3), New Orleans 6-24 (Belinelli 3-8, Green 2-4, Thornton 1-3, Pondexter 0-2, Paul 0-3, Pavlovic 0-4). ReboundsMinnesota 52 (Love 17), New Orleans 48 (Gray 8). AssistsMinnesota 21 (Flynn 6), New Orleans 22 (Paul 13). Total FoulsMinnesota 20, New Orleans 24. TechnicalsMinnesota defensive three second, Paul. A13,401 (17,188).

Rockets 108, Nuggets 103

HOUSTON (108): Battier 0-4 0-0 0, Scola 9-16 7-8 25, Hayes 5-8 2-2 12, Lowry 1-9 8-10 11, Kev.Martin 12-26 9-12 37, Budinger 4-9 0-0 11, I.Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 1-2 1-3 3, Lee 3-5 0-0 7, Patterson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 36-83 27-35 108.

DENVER (103): Anthony 16-24 16-18 50, Ken.Martin 3-8 0-2 6, Harrington 4-12 2-2 10, Billups 2-3 0-0 5, Afflalo 2-3 0-0 4, Andersen 0-0 1-2 1, Lawson 6-13 7-10 19, J.Smith 2-9 3-5 7, Forbes 0-4 1-4 1, Carter 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 35-77 30-43 103.

Houston 25 27 29 27— 108

Denver 26 24 16 37— 103

3-Point GoalsHouston 9-22 (Kev.Martin 4-8, Budinger 3-4, Lee 1-2, Lowry 1-6, Battier 0-1, Miller 0-1), Denver 3-13 (Anthony 2-3, Billups 1-2, Carter 0-1, Forbes 0-1, J.Smith 0-2, Harrington 0-4). Fouled OutAfflalo. ReboundsHouston 51 (Hayes 10), Denver 59 (Anthony 11). AssistsHouston 27 (Kev.Martin 7), Denver 14 (Lawson 5). Total FoulsHouston 30, Denver 31. TechnicalsScola, Houston defensive three second, Houston Bench, Denver Coach Karl, Ken.Martin. A14,595 (19,155).

Tampa Bay Rays designate for assignment Leslie Anderson, Justin Ruggiano


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — To make room for veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, the Rays were willing to risk losing some of the valued depth on their 40-man roster.

Outfielder Justin Ruggiano and outfielder/first baseman Leslie Anderson were designated for assignment, giving the Rays 10 days to resolve their situations. Most likely, that will mean taking the risk of losing them on waivers in hopes they pass through so they can be outrighted to the minors. The other options are to trade or release them.

Ruggiano, 28, figured to compete for a backup spot this season, his right-handed bat a potential benefit on what looks to be a left-handed heavy roster. But the Rays may have preferred the upside of newly acquired, though lefty hitting, Sam Fuld and the potential of prospect Desmond Jennings. Plus, Ruggiano is out of options, so he would have been in the same position at the end of the spring if he didn't make the team.

Ruggiano, who played for the Rays in 2007-08, said he was disappointed, though not necessarily surprised, by the move and eager to see what opportunity arises.

"They said they'll do what's best for me; there's nothing I can say on that. I'm not sure how it will all work out," he said. "I've been working real hard and I was excited about the season. Now I'm not really sure what the future is for me in Tampa."

Anderson, a 28-year-old Cuban, received a $500,000 bonus as part of a four-year, $1.75 million deal signed last spring. He showed some promise in 99 games across three minor-league levels, hitting .302 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs, but apparently not enough.

Agent Jaime Torres said he was surprised by the decision, given Anderson's play, and expected interest given the number of teams that they talked to before signing with the Rays.

"All he wants to do is play, and I want to see him play," Torres said. "So if not with Tampa hopefully somewhere else in the big leagues."

With the moves, the Rays have 59 players on their spring roster, with camp set to open next Wednesday.

Also, the Rays signed a 16-year-old left-handed pitcher, Luis Cepeda, for a $60,000 bonus, according to the Dominican Prospects League website.

Around the majors

INDIANS: Catcher Carlos Santana was cleared to resume all onfield activities following a six-month checkup after knee surgery. Santana injured his knee in a home-plate collision Aug. 2 in Boston and had surgery to repair a ligament four days later.

NATIONALS: Minor-league catcher Hector Taveras, 22, was suspended 25 games because he was found in possession of an unauthorized syringe.

PIRATES: Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf went to salary arbitration in the first hearing of the year. Ohlendorf, 28, asked for a raise from $439,000 to $2,025,000. The team countered with $1.4 million.

RED SOX: Left-handed reliever Dennys Reyes agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Reyes, 33, had with a 3.55 ERA in 59 appearances last season with the Cardinals and has a 4.18 ERA in 669 career outings. Also, right-handed reliever Alfredo Aceves agreed to a one-year, $650,000 contract. Aceves, 28, pitched 12 innings last season because of a back injury.

WHITE SOX: Right-hander Jake Peavy said he hopes to be ready on opening day but isn't making any guarantees. The former NL Cy Young Award winner said he's at about 60 to 70 percent after season-ending surgery to repair a shoulder muscle in July.

YANKEES: Catcher Russell Martin is set to resume catching drills today for the first time since having knee surgery in December. Martin, 27, had a tear in his right knee repaired.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Keith Millard, Grady Stretz to coach defensive line for Tampa Bay Buccaneers


By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TAMPA — The Bucs put the finishing touches on their revamped coaching staff Tuesday, hiring two co-defensive line coaches headlined by a former NFL All-Pro.

Former Vikings star Keith Millard, who still owns an NFL record, and Grady Stretz, who was Arizona State's defensive line coach, will join forces. They replace Todd Wash, who left for the Seahawks. Each will have a specialty, with Millard working on the pass rush and Stretz focusing on the running game.

The two will be charged with guiding a young, unproven group that could be joined by a touted defensive end should the Bucs select one with an early draft choice. Tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price are coming off their rookie seasons and Roy Miller has just two seasons of experience. The current defensive ends are mostly young.

That was a consideration in the job search, general manager Mark Dominik said recently — the team sought someone who would not just run its existing system, but also teach.

In 2010 the Bucs were 28th in run defense, allowing 131.7 yards per game, and tied with Jacksonville for 30th with 26 sacks.

Millard has 13 years of coaching experience, most recently was with the Raiders, for whom he was the pass rush specialist from 2005-08.

Ex-Buc Warren Sapp, who played under Millard with Oakland, strongly encouraged the Bucs to hire the former Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

"They put me on the phone with Dominik and I told him to hire this man," Sapp said. "You'll never have a problem with him. He's not looking to become a head coach. He's nothing but a workaholic. You think he doesn't know the Cover 2 (defense) or the three technique? He is the original. It's always been him, John Randle and me. I was with the man. I know a hard worker. I worked for (Rod) Marinelli.

"I told (head coach) Raheem (Morris) I don't know what you're thinking, but if you've got a defensive line position open and want somebody to work with a young guy like Gerald McCoy, Millard is the guy. I've done everything I can, but I don't have the time to really teach the kid. This man I played under and he gave me 10 sacks with the Raiders as a 32-year-old. This is the man you got to hire."

In a nine-year playing career, Millard went to two Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro and was the 1989 defensive player of the year. That year he set the NFL mark for sacks by a defensive tackle in a season, 18.

Stretz's ASU team was first in the Pac-10 in rushing defense in 2010. The Sun Devils ranked eighth in the nation in tackles for loss, with 7.4 per game.

The Bucs also hired a quality control coach, Tyrone Pettaway, who spent the past two seasons in college at Tennessee and USC.

Around the league

TITANS AX THREE: New Titans coach Mike Munchak fired offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and two other assistants. Heimerdinger is continuing cancer treatment after diagnosed in November. Defensive assistant Rayna Stewart and offensive assistant Richie Wessman were also not retained.

VIKINGS CASE: The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled there is no reason to grant Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams permanent relief from their NFL suspensions for violating the league's anti-doping policy. The Williamses, who are not related, tested positive for bumetanide, a banned diuretic which can mask the presence of steroids, in 2008. They were not accused of taking steroids.

MORE OPTIONS FOR FANS: The NFL added a second option for the roughly 400 fans whose seats were not ready at the Super Bowl: They can attend any future Super Bowl instead of being limited to the 2012 game. The league initially said it would give $2,400, three times face value, to the unseated fans. Now those fans can choose a ticket to any Super Bowl, including next year's, along with round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations. If fans choose that option, they will not get the $2,400, but they can wait until after the conference championship games each season to pick the game.

EAGLES: The team added two coaches and promoted four others. Johnnie Lynn (cornerbacks) and Bobby April Jr. (defensive quality control) were hired. Those promoted were David Culley (senior offensive assistant/wide receivers), James Urban (assistant offensive coordinator) Doug Pederson (quarterbacks) and Duce Staley (special teams quality control).

RAIDERS: Greg Biekert was promoted from defensive assistant to linebackers coach.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

USF Bulls guard Jawanza Poland gaining attention for dunks, athleticism


By Joe Smith, Times staff writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TAMPA — To USF sophomore forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, there are dunks.

And then there are Jawanza Poland dunks.

Poland, the dynamic sophomore guard, has wowed crowds and energized teammates with highlight-reel moments throughout his first season with the Bulls. That included his "rock-the-cradle" reverse slam against DePaul last month that made ESPN's Top 10 plays.

With Poland's in-air flair, it's no surprise the tattoo across his shoulders reads, "airwanze."

"When Jawanza dunks, it's a different experience," Fitzpatrick said. "Because of how high he gets off the ground and he doesn't care if there's traffic down there or not, he goes to the rim regardless of who's down there. He has no conscience when it comes to getting in the lane and finishing above the rim."

Poland flew relatively under the radar early in his basketball career. But after not getting many looks out of Wichita East High, he turned into one of the best junior college shooting guards in the country. And though Poland sat out last season due to transfer rules, he has become the Bulls' top scorer of late.

"I don't think there's any question he's got a tremendous upside," USF coach Stan Heath said. "We get him to work, work, work, and I think he can be a premier player in the (Big East)."

• • •

Though Poland is soft-spoken and a bit shy, he has always been confident he could make an impact at the Division I level.

An all-around athlete in high school, Poland played football and competed in long and high jump. But he admitted he wasn't as polished in basketball then, and he didn't get offers from Kansas or Kansas State.

Poland splashed on the scene after a big freshman season at nearby Cowley College, ranking as the third-best junior college shooting guard in the nation.

"When I first got there, I was on a mission, because I wasn't recruited by nobody coming out of high school," Poland said. "So I was on a mission to show everybody that I could play. I had a chip on my shoulder."

But first, Poland had to sit. He joined several teammates in leaving for Hutchinson CC last season, following coach Steve Eck. Having to redshirt, Poland got to practice with the scout team but couldn't play in games.

"I learned that when you don't have (basketball)," Poland said, "you miss it more."

USF assistant Jeremy Cox, who first watched Poland at a junior college showcase in the summer of 2009, stuck with him.

"The first thing is, obviously, he's such a monster athlete," Cox said. "There's not many guys with his physique that are that athletic."

Though Poland had his pick of several quality programs, such as Oklahoma, Missouri and Cincinnati, it was USF that was on him first and gave him his first offer. He appreciated the Bulls' loyalty, so he returned the favor.

All Poland has done since is average 10.6 points, hitting double figures six times in his past eight games, including a career-high 20 on Feb. 2.

Said Fitzpatrick: "I think he's the MVP of the new faces that we have."

• • •

Cox believes Poland can be an All-Big East player by the time he's a senior, but there's still plenty of room to grow.

Heath said he has been hard on Poland in practice, and the 6-foot-4 guard admittedly has to work on being more consistent with his intensity throughout each workout and game.

"He's got a good shot, I think he can get better," Heath said. "He's got decent ballhandling skills, get that better, and decent passing skills, get that better. If he gets all those things better, the skills to go along with his athleticism, you've got something pretty special right there."

As for his dunking skills, those are still developing, too. Poland, who has a 42-inch vertical leap, said he'll think before a game about what he wants to do. But the DePaul dunk was inspired.

"Some of my teammates had been getting on me about how I was doing the same dunks," Poland said. "So I had to switch it up."

COACHING TALK: With Wyoming firing basketball coach Heath Schroyer on Monday, USF assistant Jeremy Cox has surfaced as one of the early candidates the school may focus on during its national search. Wyoming assistant Fred Langley has taken over as interim coach for the remainder of the season, and Cox said Tuesday he hadn't been contacted yet, but "there's no question" he would be interested.

Cox started his coaching career at Wyoming as a graduate assistant in 1991-92, and his wife, Cindy, went to school there.

"I'm from the Rocky Mountains, my wife graduated from Wyoming, I can tell you probably everything there is to know about the history of Wyoming basketball," Cox said. "It's a special place for me and my family. But at the same time, I hope whoever is there gets that thing really rolling like I remember it happening."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

College basketball preview: No. 17 Florida Gators at South Carolina Gamecocks


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011


No. 17 Florida at South Carolina

When/where: 8; Colonial Center, Columbia, S.C.

TV/radio: Ch. 38; 620-AM

Records: Florida 18-5, 7-2 SEC; South Carolina 13-8, 4-4

Notable: The Gators face a South Carolina team that upset Florida at home last month. … Although Florida has a winning record in the Colonial Center, the Gators haven't won there since 2008. … If history is any indication, expect a nail-biter. Eleven of the past 13 games between the teams have been decided by six points or fewer. … Florida coach Billy Donovan's concern tonight is ensuring that his players put the success over the past week behind them and continue to improve.

Antonya English, Times staff writer

College basketball preview: USF Bulls vs. Marquette Golden Eagles


By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

. Tonight

USF vs. Marquette

When/where: 7; Sun Dome, Tampa

TV/radio: ESPN2; 1250-AM

Records: Marquette 14-9, 5-5 Big East; USF 8-16, 2-9

Notable: The Bulls are coming off their worst loss of the season, 72-49 to No. 17 Syracuse on Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum. They did get F Jarrid Famous back, who missed one game to a back injury, and he scored 14. … Coach Stan Heath said USF has to get its leading scorer, F Augustus Gilchrist, back in a rhythm; he has scored a combined 21 over the past three games. … USF has won three times in 18 games against Marquette, with the last coming in 2009. … The Golden Eagles are led by G Darius Johnson-Odom (16.4 ppg) and G/F Jimmy Butler (15.6 ppg).

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Dr. Remote


By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

MLB Countdown: 8 p.m. on MLB Network. Counting down the 40 wackiest mishaps in major-league baseball history, followed by the 75 most memorable plays from 2000-09.

Inside the NFL: 9 p.m. on Showtime. The season is wrapped up with a look back at the Super Bowl.

Tonight Show with Jay Leno: 11:35 p.m. on Ch. 8. Linebacker Clay Matthews of the world champion Packers is one of the scheduled guests.

Captain's Corner: Trout showing up in large schools in normal February spots


By Mike Manning, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's hot: Trout fishing is red hot from Clearwater to Hudson. Large schools are showing up in their normal February spots. The cold weather in December and January made for tough fishing along the west coast, but the fishing improved during the recent warmer weather.

Where to look: Trout are in several areas, including the shallow flats around the barrier islands from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. Two of my favorites are Three Rooker and Anclote Key. Fish in those areas will lie in the deeper holes on the low tides and move up on the shallow grass flats with incoming tides. Most of the creeks along the coast that have deep holes with good current flow are holding large gator trout also. Salt Springs, Rocky Creek and Sand Bay have been very productive this past week.

Best baits: The best baits have been artificials such as small jigs with a plastic swim tail, small crank baits and Texas-rigged plastic jerk baits. You can also catch trout on live baits such as shrimp, small pinfish and creek chubs. When fishing live bait, I like to use a popping cork or a float to keep the bait from hiding in the grass. Trout can be spooked in clear, shallow water, so use a stealth approach. Use a trolling motor or a push pole to creep up on them. Also, a reminder trout season is closed during February north of Howard Park, located in Tarpon Springs.

Mike Manning runs Action Fishing Adventures out of Tarpon Springs. Call him toll-free at 1-800-644-5940.

Four burning college basketball questions


By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Now that the Super Bowl is over, we switch our focus to a fantastic college basketball season. Here are four burning questions as we head down the stretch toward the conference tournaments and March Madness.

Can Ohio State go undefeated?

The 24-0 Buckeyes are trying to become the first team since Bob Knight's 1975-76 Hoosiers to have a perfect season. It won't be easy. They have two games (home and away) against Wisconsin, which is ranked 13th and plays stifling defense, holding opponents well under an average of 60 points a game. The Buckeyes also host underachieving but always dangerous Michigan State and Illinois. And they must travel to Penn State, which gave Ohio State fits in Columbus last month, losing by three. But the game to watch is Feb. 20 at No. 14 Purdue. Then again, the Buckeyes beat Purdue by 23 on Jan. 25. If they get through all that without losing, they then have to navigate the conference and NCAA tournaments. There's a reason it has been 35 years since a team has gone undefeated.

Which teams have been the biggest disappointments?

By far, Kansas State and Michigan State. Both started the season ranked in the top five with plenty of returners from last season, when Michigan State reached the Final Four and K-State the Elite Eight. K-State has had leadership problems and is 178th in the country in field-goal percentage. It is 16-8 and still has to play Kansas, Missouri and Texas. Making the NIT might be a chore. Meantime, the Spartans are in even more trouble. They are 13-10 and 5-6 in the Big Ten. They have lost to their share of powerhouses — Duke, UConn, Syracuse, Purdue — but also have some ugly losses: Michigan and Iowa.

Who is the player of the year?

Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger is the best player on the best team in the country, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. Duke's Nolan Smith is averaging 21 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds, and has kept Duke elite despite the loss of injured point guard Kyrie Irving. UConn's Kemba Walker, in the top five in the nation with an average 23.2 points per game, has been the best player in the best conference (Big East). But Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette, right, seems to have a folk-hero status about him. He leads the country in scoring at 27.6 points and has three games of at least 40. Plus, how cool would it be to have someone named Jimmer be player of the year?

Who is looking good for the Final Four?

A truly great team might not be out there. But a ton of really, really good teams are. Ohio State has to be a favorite. Pitt doesn't seem to have as much talent as past Pitt teams, but it does seem more mentally tough for handling the rigors of March Madness. After that, it's pull-a-name-out-of-a-hat among Duke, Texas and Kansas. And if you're looking for a Cinderella, there's San Diego State. Experience could be the difference, and that's why, at this moment, we see Duke and Kansas joining Pitt and Ohio State in the Final Four.

Sports in brief


Times wires
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Winter sports

Vonn 'skiing in a fog' at worlds

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — American Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic downhill champion, isn't sure when she'll be fully recovered from her head injury.

Attempting to defend her super-G title in the opening race of the world championships, Vonn finished seventh. She was 0.84 seconds behind Austrian winner Elisabeth Goergl (1:23.82).

"It's like I'm skiing in a fog," said Vonn, who lost time at each checkpoint and became increasingly shaky Tuesday.

"I can't process the information fast enough, and that's why I'm behind the course; all the bumps are throwing me around," she said. "It's because my body is one gate ahead of where my mind is, and that's not a good way to ski."

Vonn landed on her head during a fall in giant slalom training last week in Austria.

"It's very frustrating because it's not pain. I can't just fight my way down and fight my way through the pain. I have no fight; I can't think," she said. "It's awful, it's awful."

The next race is the super-combined Friday. Vonn will assess her condition day by day.

U.S. teammate Julia Mancuso took silver, 0.05 seconds behind, and Maria Riesch of Germany won bronze.


PGA won't halt fan calls on rules issues

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem wants to see more common sense used in enforcing penalties for rules infractions phoned in by fans watching on television but said halting their input is "not an option."

"We like the fact that people call in. We like the fact people who watch the telecasts get excited about something they see," he said. "We don't want to turn those people off. We want to accept the information and deal with it. … It is just a question of how the rule is applied."

Finchem said he wants the PGA to follow the USGA's lead and anticipates they will end up with "a few, little, small" changes to the rules.

Et cetera

Autos: Doctors say Formula One driver Robert Kubica is responding well to treatment and will have surgery Thursday to stabilize a broken right foot and right shoulder suffered in a rally car crash Sunday in Italy.

Cycling: Riccardo Ricco was admitted to a hospital in Modena, Italy, in critical condition Monday after performing a transfusion on himself with blood that might have turned bad, several news outlets reported. A transfusion can increase red blood cells and boost endurance, and the procedure is banned under World Anti-Doping Agency rules. Ricco served a 20-month suspension for testing positive during the 2008 Tour de France.

Soccer: Brazilian D Daniel Alves said he is subjected to racist insults from spectators during nearly every match with Barcelona in the Spanish league. "Unfortunately, I have learned how to live with it," he told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. "Every match the crowd goes after me. They insult me, call me monkey." Meanwhile, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2011-12 season. … Frank Lampard was chosen as England's captain for the first time for tonight's exhibition game at Denmark after injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard.

Tennis: American Bethanie Mattek-Sands routed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-3 and American Melanie Oudin rallied past Vera Dushevina 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 in the first round of the Open Gaz de France in Paris. … Milos Raonic upset fourth-seeded Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., and faces James Blake of Tampa today.

Times wires

Tampa Bay Lightning works to fix power play


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TAMPA — The Lightning has "the disease of the power play," coach Guy Boucher said.

That is, relaxing while playing with an extra man.

The result: Tampa Bay has not scored more than one power-play goal in a game since Dec. 20 and is 12-for-85 (14.1 percent) in its past 22 games.

The Lightning still entered Tuesday sixth in the league at 20.7 percent and went 1-for-5 against the Sabres with more puck possession and easier setups than have been seen recently.

But Boucher was concerned enough to devote much of Monday's practice to entering the zone, something at which the team has struggled.

"Once we're in the zone, we're fine," C Steven Stamkos said.

But getting in has been no guarantee of staying in. Tampa Bay, the previous four games, had won just 12 of 37 power-play faceoffs (32.4 percent). It was 3-for-6 against Buffalo.

"It's not just the centermen (taking the faceoffs)," LW Marty St. Louis said. "We don't do enough jumping in and helping them out."

"When the other team gets the puck, they ice it," Stamkos said. "That takes 30 seconds away."

Maybe it comes down to this:

"You're one more (player on the ice)," Boucher said. "So you're more relaxed on everything: stick-handling, taking time with your shot. You should be giving 100 (percent) because the penalty kill, they're fighting for their lives. They're working even harder than five-on-five."

MOVING ON?: F Mattias Ritola is on waivers to send him to AHL Norfolk. It will be known at noon today if he cleared.

Ritola, 23, has been a disappointment since being claimed off waivers from the Red Wings in September. He has two goals and six points in 24 games and has battled Meniere's disease, which causes, sometimes without warning, headaches and dizziness, which makes it difficult to schedule him to play.

"We need him to play games," GM Steve Yzerman said.

SYMPTOMATIC: Nate Thompson said he does not believe he has a concussion. But Boucher said the center showed enough symptoms after Sunday's overtime victory over the Blues to sit him out against the Sabres.

"It's just precautionary," Thompson said. "Sit out and get some rest the next few days."

Thompson said he was hurt late in the third period when his head hit the glass as he was "squeezed off" along the boards by St. Louis D Eric Brewer.

"It was just an awkward thing," Thompson said.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Stamkos turned 21 on Monday, and his 114 career goals were fourth all time by that age, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, behind Wayne Gretzky (164), Jimmy Carson (141) and Dale Hawerchuk (122).

"You don't realize how great it is at the rink being around the guys when you're winning," Stamkos said. "I'd trade that for individual success."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning lost for just the second time in regulation after entering with a third-period lead (22-2-1). … W Sean Bergenheim had his first two-goal game since March 7, 2009, for the Islanders against the Devils. … A decision will be made shortly as to whether Norfolk G Cedrick Desjardins (shoulder) needs surgery, Yzerman said. … W Ryan Malone played after missing five games with a mid-body injury. … D Mike Lundin (abdomen) and Ritola were scratched.

2A region soccer: Bradenton St. Stephen's 3, Tampa Prep 0


The Herald
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BRADENTON — Tampa Prep has ousted Bradenton St. Stephen's five times since the 2004-05 season en route to four Class 2A state championships, including last year.

This time, however, St. Stephen's senior Chris Scott delivered with two goals Tuesday as the Falcons (18-3-2) secured a 3-0 victory in the region semifinals.

Scott scored on a header off Matthew Jones' free kick early in the first half then on a nifty chipping cross nine minutes into the second half.

"I think the wind or something got lucky there and it just went in over the goalie," said Scott, who has 23 goals this year. "… I think my coach would kill me if I took a real shot from there."

Beating the Terrapins was a bit of redemption for Scott's older brother Kyle and the 2010-11 St. Stephen's girls team, ousted by the Terps this year. Tampa Prep ended Kyle's prep career in 2008 en route to a state title.

Scott had a stint at keeper late in the game when starter Conner McCullen had to exit briefly after getting booked with a yellow card for time wasting.

"I played keeper earlier in the season," Scott said. "I had some experience, but getting in there for a few seconds was a lot of fun."

5A region soccer: Durant 3, Newsome 1


Brandon Wright, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

LITHIA — Jamin Hollings­worth played soccer at Durant from 1996-2000 and like every Cougars team before and since, never reached the final four.

Now as a coach, Hollings­worth and the Cougars are one match away.

Connor Bass scored the winner just after the first water break and the Cougars defense held off a late assault as Durant defeated Newsome 3-1 on a chilly Tuesday night, advancing to Friday's 5A region final.

"You can talk the talk, but you have to prove it," Hollingsworth said. "The boys played with heart tonight and came in with the right mind-set."

Newsome (14-6-3) defeated the Cougars (14-7-2) in two of the team's three meetings during the year, including a 6-1 thumping Jan. 28 in the district final.

"The boys were embarrassed and they felt bad about (the district final)," Hollingsworth said. "To their credit though, they never lost confidence."

Durant's Matthew Garcia scored deep in the box just two minutes into the match but Newsome's Joey Perfetto answered with a strike nine minutes later to tie it. Then in the 21st minute, Jacob Brumbeloe won a tackle outside the 18-yard box and slid a pass to Bass, who went far post for a 2-1 lead.

"We knew we were better than what we showed against them last time," Bass said.

With Newsome pushing hard for the equalizer, Durant's Ben Salazar got his foot on a ball in a goalmouth scrum to make it 3-1 and the Cougars were able to fend off the Wolves the rest of the way.

5A region soccer: Gaither 3, Naples Gulf Coast 1


Rod Gipson, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TAMPA — It was the region semifinals but it was hard to tell by Gaither's workmanlike approach.

In fact, coach Eric Sims said his squad didn't really show any emotion until the last of its three goals Tuesday night.

Gaither has more soccer to play after a 3-1 win at home against Naples Gulf Coast in the Class 5A region semifinals.

"It's been kind of our thing to get a lead and just sit back," Sims said. "I thought we were asleep in the first half tonight. Our first 20 minutes looked like preseason. But it was a better second half for us, and I'm glad to be in the (region) finals."

Still, Gaither owned the ball decidedly early and scored the opening goal midway through the first half. Senior forward Zachary Wheeler collected a looping pass in the box from about 20 yards out and redirected it into the net past Gulf Coast goalkeeper Eric Scott.

The Cowboys (17-4-3) awoke in the second half and finished their chances, scoring two goals.

After a Justin Santos header on a Wheeler corner kick put Gaither up 2-0, the Cowboys seemed primed to run away with the contest.

But the Sharks (8-10-5) continued to push the ball into the Gaither box and it paid off with a penalty kick halfway through the second half.

But Gaither managed to do just enough — and then some — to keep Gulf Coast at bay.

And the Cowboys then put the game away in stoppage time when Jordan See made a perfect pass to Steffan Siebel-Cortopassi.

Pasco pitcher Brandt nearly flawless in opening win


Andy Villamarzo, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DADE CITY — There wasn't much to be said after the opening night for softball between Land O'Lakes and Pasco.

The Pirates, who returned many of their starters from last season's team, took advantage of five passed balls off Gators pitcher Bianca Bullock and behind a 13-strikeout, no-hit performance from Pasco pitcher Courtney Brandt cruised to an 11-0 five-inning victory over Land O'Lakes on Tuesday night.

"We started catching up to the pitcher and had a great night hitting the ball," Brandt said. "It took us like three innings to get used to the pitching. I like pitching in the cold. I was just really on tonight. It's a good win to start off the season."

Brandt took no time in looking like she was in midseason form, striking out nine of the first 10 batters she faced. If not for a walk in the first inning, she would have thrown a perfect game through five innings.

Pasco, which lost a couple preseason games to Auburndale and Lake Wales last week, played aggressively on the basepaths against the Gators and in the bottom of the second inning scored seven runs off two hits. But Land O'Lakes' pitching could not get on track, as Bullock walked six batters, contributing to the Pasco offensive outburst.

Pirates outfielder Vanessa Mills and infielder Lizzy Burchfield knocked in two and three runs in, respectively.

"I didn't really tell them anything before the game," Pasco coach Lisa Herndon said. "We had our preseason game the other day and the girls were hitting pretty well. A lot of the girls play travel ball so they're used to faster pitching. On a cold night, it was great to have the game end early."

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