Channel: Tampabay.com: Sports
Browsing All 18574 Browse Latest View Live
Mark channel Not-Safe-For-Work? cancel confirm NSFW Votes: (0 votes)
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel.

Ravens 33, Giants 14


Times wires
Sunday, December 23, 2012

BALTIMORE — A celebration four weeks in the making featured laughs and hugs, a surprise appearance by team owner Steve Bisciotti and the distribution of hats announcing the Ravens' stature as AFC North champions.

Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, and Baltimore defeated the Giants 33-14 Sunday to end a three-game losing streak and clinch a second straight division crown.

The Ravens led 24-7 at halftime and cruised behind a short-handed defense that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and limited New York to 186 yards.

The defeat eliminated the Super Bowl champion Giants from contention in the NFC East and severely damaged their playoff chances.

In its second game with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator, Baltimore scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and amassed a season-high 533 yards — 289 in the first half.

"It's about execution, man. It's a simple word, but it's a very tough task to do," said Ravens running back Ray Rice, who ran for 107 yards and caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. "This was a championship game for us."

After ending their longest skid since 2009, the Ravens are assured a home playoff game on the first weekend of January.

"We know what's at stake. We want the AFC championship and it starts tonight," safety James Ihedigbo said. "… Playoffs started for us and we're going to keep on playing."

New York has lost five of seven. Manning went 14 for 28 for 150 yards and was sacked three times.

"Obviously, we have a bad formula going on right here," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We're having trouble stopping people and our offense doesn't hold the ball at all to give the defense a chance to catch their breath."

Flacco rebounded from a stretch in which he committed two turnovers in each of three straight defeats.

Flacco repeatedly picked on cornerback Corey Webster, who couldn't contain Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin. Smith caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, and Boldin finished with seven receptions for 93 yards.

The Giants need a win over Philadelphia next week and help from other teams to squeeze into the postseason.

"The next game, if it's our last, whatever happens, we just want to leave with pride," Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw said.

Broncos 34, Browns 12


Times wires
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Manning surgical in beating Browns

DENVER — By his own estimation, Peyton Manning is not the quarterback he used to be.

Try telling that to the Browns.

Manning threw for a season-high 339 yards and three touchdowns, two zinged into impossibly tight windows to well-covered receivers, that pushed the Broncos into a first-place tie in the AFC with a win over Cleveland.

Manning recorded his 72nd career three-touchdown game — tying Brett Favre for the most all-time, according to Elias — and has 34 touchdowns and 4,355 passing yards this season.

"A 36-year-old quarterback coming off a year and a half off, playing on a new team, I'm trying to be as good as I possibly can in this scenario," Manning said. "It's a different kind of body I'm playing in and just a different kind of quarterback play for me."

The Browns finished without their top rookies, quarterback Brandon Weeden (right shoulder) and running back Trent Richardson (left ankle).

Bears 28, Cardinals 13


Times wires
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bears still standing

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Of course the defense made the plays that mattered most for Chicago. These are, after all, the Bears.

Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score and Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another TD in Chicago's victory over punchless Arizona.

It was the third pick Tillman has brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Julius Peppers had three of the Bears' four sacks.

"Defensively we asked them to take over and play the way they have been capable of doing," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said.

To be a wild card, the Bears must win at Detroit in their regular-season finale next Sunday, then have Minnesota lose to Green Bay at home.

Jazz foils Magic's comeback attempt


Time wires
Sunday, December 23, 2012

ORLANDO — With one of his veteran floor leaders sidelined for an unknown amount of time, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wasn't exactly sure how his team would respond against Orlando after two lopsided losses.

He got a welcome surprise.

Paul Millsap scored 18, Gordon Hayward added 17 and the Jazz survived a fourth-quarter rally to slip past the Magic 97-93 on Sunday night.

Utah snapped a two-game skid with its fifth straight regular-season victory over Orlando. The Jazz played without point guard Mo Williams, out indefinitely after spraining his right thumb in Saturday's loss to Miami.

Veteran Jamaal Tinsley played well in his place, scoring 11 and dishing out four assists.

"It is tough, you don't wish that on anybody," Tinsley said of Williams. "This is just the nature of the beast. I get another opportunity to go out there and play. We want him to get well and come back soon. This is just the NBA. Somebody goes down and somebody else get the opportunity to play. … We just have to figure out a way to win ballgames and do the right thing."

Arron Afflalo had 20 points and Nik Vucevic 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead Orlando, which has lost back-to-back games since losing starting forward Glen Davis to a shoulder injury.

The loss also ended the Magic's three-game home winning streak.

Williams' return in unknown after an MRI exam on Sunday revealed damage to the thumb. He will have it re-evaluated in Salt Lake City.

Corbin has reason to be optimistic going forward, though.

The Jazz trailed by as many as 16 in the first half against the Magic before closing that gap to just a point at halftime.

They scored 22 off 20 turnovers and also got 43 points from their reserves, including 12 from Derrick Favors. All of this came on the second night of a back-to-back and following two losses by a combined 36 points.

"Jamaal and Earl (Watson) came in and did a tremendous job for us," Corbin said. "They pushed the pace, they were getting the ball up the floor, advancing the ball, (and) they did a good job attacking the basket."

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Danny Green scored a career-high 25 and the host Spurs spoiled former MVP Dirk Nowitzki's season debut with a 129-91 rout of the Mavericks. After missing the first 27 games with a right knee injury that required surgery, Nowitzki entered with 6:28 left in the first quarter. He finished with eight points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. … Blake Griffin scored 23, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists and the Clippers extended a franchise record with their 13th consecutive victory, 103-77 over the host Suns. … Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 33 in the fourth quarter, rallying the host Knicks to a 94-91 victory over the Timberwolves. … Joe Johnson scored 22, Gerald Wallace had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists and the Nets held on to beat the 76ers 95-92 and end a six-game home losing streak against Philadelphia.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Mavericks signed guard/forward Chris Douglas-Roberts off their NBA Development League team. Douglas-Roberts is leading the D-League in scoring at 22.5 points per game in 11 games.

Jazz 97, Magic 93

UTAH (97): Ma.Williams 1-6 0-0 3, Millsap 6-12 5-8 18, Jefferson 6-14 0-0 12, Tinsley 3-9 2-2 11, Foye 3-8 2-2 10, Hayward 7-10 3-3 17, Carroll 0-0 0-0 0, Watson 0-2 2-4 2, Favors 5-8 2-3 12, Kanter 2-7 0-0 4, Burks 3-7 2-3 8. Totals 36-83 18-25 97.

ORLANDO (93): Harkless 3-4 0-2 7, Ayon 3-7 3-6 9, Vucevic 7-10 2-2 16, Nelson 5-13 0-0 14, Afflalo 9-19 1-2 20, Redick 5-10 2-3 14, Moore 1-5 0-0 3, Nicholson 4-7 0-0 8, O'Quinn 1-1 0-0 2, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-76 8-15 93.

Utah 18 28 25 26— 97

Orlando 30 17 26 20— 93

3-Point GoalsUtah 7-18 (Tinsley 3-8, Foye 2-4, Ma.Williams 1-1, Millsap 1-2, Jefferson 0-1, Watson 0-1, Burks 0-1), Orlando 9-20 (Nelson 4-7, Redick 2-5, Harkless 1-1, Afflalo 1-3, Moore 1-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsUtah 45 (Jefferson 9), Orlando 54 (Vucevic 16). AssistsUtah 21 (Watson 8), Orlando 25 (Nelson 9). Total FoulsUtah 17, Orlando 22. TechnicalsUtah defensive three second, Redick. A17,721 (18,500).

Knicks 94, Timberwolves 91

MINNESOTA (91): Shved 7-16 0-0 18, Kirilenko 2-6 0-0 4, Pekovic 7-16 7-8 21, Barea 4-14 3-3 12, Ridnour 5-13 3-3 14, Cunningham 6-10 0-0 12, Rubio 2-6 1-2 5, Williams 1-3 2-2 5, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-84 16-18 91.

NEW YORK (94): Brewer 0-0 0-0 0, Anthony 10-25 10-11 33, Chandler 4-7 8-10 16, Felton 7-15 1-1 15, Kidd 0-3 0-0 0, Smith 7-15 3-4 19, Thomas 2-2 0-0 4, Novak 1-3 2-2 4, Prigioni 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 32-72 24-28 94.

Minnesota 29 26 18 18— 91

New York 22 24 25 23— 94

3-Point GoalsMinnesota 7-22 (Shved 4-9, Williams 1-2, Ridnour 1-5, Barea 1-5, Kirilenko 0-1), New York 6-26 (Anthony 3-10, Smith 2-6, Prigioni 1-2, Novak 0-2, Felton 0-3, Kidd 0-3). Fouled OutKirilenko. ReboundsMinnesota 52 (Pekovic 17), New York 44 (Chandler 9). AssistsMinnesota 20 (Ridnour 5), New York 17 (Smith 7). Total FoulsMinnesota 22, New York 20. TechnicalsSmith, New York Coach Woodson. A19,033 (19,763).

Spurs 129, Mavericks 91

DALLAS (91): Da.Jones 2-4 2-4 7, Marion 2-7 0-0 4, Kaman 5-9 0-0 10, Do.Jones 1-7 3-6 5, Mayo 3-8 1-2 7, Nowitzki 3-4 1-2 8, Collison 6-9 3-4 15, Brand 1-4 0-0 2, Carter 5-9 1-1 13, Crowder 3-6 2-2 9, Douglas-Roberts 0-0 3-4 3, Wright 3-5 2-4 8, Beaubois 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 34-74 18-29 91.

SAN ANTONIO (129): Leonard 6-11 2-2 17, Duncan 7-15 1-2 15, Splitter 1-4 3-4 5, Parker 5-9 6-7 18, Green 9-10 0-0 25, Diaw 3-5 0-0 7, Ginobili 2-4 1-1 6, Jackson 5-8 2-3 14, Neal 1-4 0-0 3, De Colo 1-3 0-0 2, Mills 3-4 0-0 7, Bonner 3-3 0-0 8, Blair 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 47-84 15-19 129.

Dallas 26 26 14 25— 91

San Antonio 33 31 36 29— 129

3-Point GoalsDallas 5-14 (Carter 2-5, Nowitzki 1-1, Da.Jones 1-1, Crowder 1-1, Do.Jones 0-1, Marion 0-1, Mayo 0-2, Beaubois 0-2), San Antonio 20-30 (Green 7-8, Leonard 3-7, Parker 2-2, Bonner 2-2, Jackson 2-5, Ginobili 1-1, Diaw 1-1, Mills 1-1, Neal 1-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDallas 48 (Nowitzki 6), San Antonio 44 (Splitter 7). AssistsDallas 22 (Mayo 6), San Antonio 33 (Ginobili 9). Total FoulsDallas 18, San Antonio 22. TechnicalsMayo. A18,581 (18,797).

Nets 95, 76ers 92

PHILADELPHIA (92): Turner 7-16 0-0 15, T.Young 8-14 2-2 18, Allen 6-11 0-0 12, Holiday 9-16 3-4 24, Richardson 2-10 0-0 5, Hawes 2-9 1-2 5, N.Young 2-4 0-0 5, Wright 2-8 2-2 8, Wilkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 38-88 8-10 92.

BROOKLYN (95): Bogans 5-6 0-0 13, Wallace 3-7 7-8 14, Lopez 5-14 4-6 14, Williams 5-11 5-7 16, Johnson 8-17 3-6 22, Stackhouse 2-8 0-0 4, Shengelia 0-0 0-0 0, Blatche 4-7 2-2 10, Evans 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 33-74 21-30 95.

Philadelphia 17 24 23 28— 92

Brooklyn 24 19 26 26— 95

3-Point GoalsPhiladelphia 8-18 (Holiday 3-3, Wright 2-6, N.Young 1-1, Turner 1-3, Richardson 1-5), Brooklyn 8-22 (Bogans 3-4, Johnson 3-5, Wallace 1-2, Williams 1-3, Blatche 0-1, Watson 0-2, Stackhouse 0-5). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPhiladelphia 55 (T.Young 10), Brooklyn 47 (Wallace 9). AssistsPhiladelphia 19 (Holiday 9), Brooklyn 18 (Wallace 6). Total FoulsPhiladelphia 22, Brooklyn 11. TechnicalsHawes. A17,732 (17,732).

Clippers 103, Suns 77

L.A. CLIPPERS (103): Butler 3-7 0-0 8, Griffin 8-12 6-6 23, Jordan 2-5 0-2 4, Paul 7-12 1-1 17, Green 2-5 0-2 4, Odom 0-1 0-0 0, Barnes 5-7 2-2 15, Crawford 8-12 3-5 22, Bledsoe 1-4 0-0 2, Turiaf 0-2 2-8 2, Hollins 2-4 2-3 6. Totals 38-71 16-29 103.

PHOENIX (77): Dudley 5-10 9-10 19, Scola 5-11 1-2 11, Gortat 4-7 0-0 8, Dragic 2-8 3-4 7, Brown 3-13 1-1 7, Telfair 3-10 0-0 8, Morris 5-9 0-2 10, O'Neal 0-3 0-2 0, Tucker 1-1 0-0 2, Johnson 1-2 2-3 5, Zeller 0-3 0-0 0, Marshall 0-2 0-0 0, Garrett 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-80 16-24 77.

L.A. Clippers 28 30 33 12— 103

Phoenix 24 19 17 17— 77

3-Point GoalsL.A. Clippers 11-21 (Barnes 3-4, Crawford 3-6, Butler 2-4, Paul 2-4, Griffin 1-1, Green 0-1, Bledsoe 0-1), Phoenix 3-17 (Telfair 2-5, Johnson 1-2, Zeller 0-1, Marshall 0-1, Dragic 0-2, Brown 0-3, Dudley 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsL.A. Clippers 55 (Griffin 11), Phoenix 50 (Gortat 12). AssistsL.A. Clippers 26 (Paul 13), Phoenix 18 (Brown 6). Total FoulsL.A. Clippers 19, Phoenix 21. TechnicalsJordan, Turiaf, Phoenix Coach Gentry 2, Gortat, O'Neal. A14,741 (18,422).

NFL news and notes


Times wires
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Around the league


Andrew Luck broke the NFL rookie record for yards passing, and rookie Blair Walsh set the league mark for 50-yard plus field goals in a season on a Sunday featuring a slew of records.

All of that and more came after Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season yards receiving record in Detroit's loss to Atlanta on Saturday. The Lions All-Pro is at 1,892 with a game left.

Luck, above, topped Cam Newton's year-old mark for yards passing. Luck has 4,183 with a game left; Newton had 4,051 last season for the Panthers.

Minnesota's Walsh hit a 56-yard field goal, giving him nine kicks of 50 yards or more. Washington's Kai Forbath set the record for consecutive field goals to begin a career with his 17th straight. New Orleans' Garrett Hartley had 16 straight. And Dallas' Jason Witten broke the single-season record for catches by a tight end with his 103rd. Tony Gonzalez had 102 for the Chiefs in 2004.

TEBOW TALK: Former Florida star Tim Tebow will be released by the Jets in the offseason, and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan wants to acquire the hometown product, espn.com reported. Tebow was a star at Ponte Vedra Beach Nease High before winning a Heisman Trophy with the Gators. Also, Tebow and former Jets starter Mark Sanchez were both active as Greg McElroy's backups. It was the first time all season Rex Ryan had all three quarterbacks active, and he avoided having to designate either Sanchez or Tebow as the No. 2.

PAGANO SET?: Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who has missed most of the season undergoing treatment for leukemia, will be at work today and coach next week, foxsports.com reported.

FOSTER LEAVES WITH IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT: Texans RB Arian Foster left against the Vikings with an irregular heartbeat. "It's a very minor situation, so I'll be okay," Foster said. He left with 15 yards on 10 carries.

BRONCOS: CB Tracy Porter's return lasted three plays as he left with a concussion in the first quarter. He had missed nine straight games after experiencing symptoms similar to those he had last summer that preceded a seizure.

49ERS: DT Justin Smith sat out with an elbow injury, ending his streak of consecutive starts at 185.

PATRIOTS: Tom Brady has thrown a TD pass in 47 consecutive games, tying Johnny Unitas for second all-time. Drew Brees, who broke Unitas' record this season, is at 54.

TITANS: Owner Bud Adams, 90, said he'll move quickly to try to avoid another season like this one. Tennessee has fallen from 9-7 to 5-10 and given up 51 or more points twice. "We can't keep losing games like we lost today, and I mean it," he told TitanInsider.com by phone from his Houston home.


2 Teams with at least 10 wins one season after losing at least 14; the Colts joined the 2008 Dolphins

Times wires



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012 , Section C | 


Falcons *1320.8673-2vs. Bucs
Saints780.4673-2vs. Panthers
Bucs690.4002-3at Falcons
Panthers690.4002-3at Saints

Seahawks 42, 49ers 13


Times wires
Sunday, December 23, 2012

SEATTLE — Fueled by a deafening home crowd, the Seahawks locked up their spot in the postseason Sunday night.

They also reinforced the notion that no one in the NFC wants to see them when the playoffs begin, even as a wild card.

Russell Wilson threw a career-high four touchdowns to move into second place for most TD passes by a rookie and Marshawn Lynch had two first-quarter TDs as Seattle blew out San Francisco 42-13.

"We've had a great year so far but we have to keep moving forward," Wilson said.

Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for another touchdown as the Seahawks jumped to a 21-0 lead. That only added to an already hyped crowd on a typically cold and rainy December night, with noise echoing off the walls and overhanging roof of CenturyLink Field, widely regarded as the loudest stadium in the league.

No one cared about the cold rain, not when the Seahawks punched their postseason ticket with their first 10-win season since 2007.

There remains a slight chance of winning the NFC West if the Seahawks beat St. Louis in the season finale and Arizona upsets the 49ers in San Francisco.

The Seahawks delayed San Francisco from celebrating a division title and turned Jim Harbaugh's 49th birthday into a miserable, wet evening.

Seattle was the first team since 1950 with at least 50 points in consecutive games after wins of 58-0 over Arizona and 50-17 against Buffalo. It seemed inconceivable the binge could continue against San Francisco, the best scoring defense in the NFL.

It did.

Seattle has outscored its past three opponents 150-30.

"It's really coming together," Wilson said of Seattle's output.

The 42 points were the most allowed since Harbaugh took over, and the most San Francisco yielded since 45 to Atlanta in 2009. It was the perfect way for Pete Carroll to snap a three-game losing streak against his rival.

Lynch had 111 yards on 26 carries, his third straight game against the 49ers topping 100 yards. Wilson hit Lynch on a 9-yard TD in the first quarter, Anthony McCoy for a 6-yarder late in the first half, and Doug Baldwin from 4 and 6 yards in the second half.

Wilson has 25 TD passes, one behind Peyton Manning's NFL rookie record of 26.

Captain's Corner: Good gag grouper fishing still can be found


By Jay Mastry, Times Correspondent
Monday, December 24, 2012

What's hot: Shallow-water, catch-and-release gag grouper fishing just before this last blow was about as good as it gets, and you don't have to go far to get in on it. Fishing a chunky patch of hard bottom along the edge of the ships channel just outside the Sunshine Skyway bridge provided a batch of would-have-been keepers during the last of the outgoing tide. We got a bunch on live baits, but our largest, a 16-pounder, ate a chunk of mackerel. We also caught gags on frozen sardines, chunks of ladyfish, shad and silver trout. The bycatch included mangrove snapper, the ever-aggressive Key West grunts and an occasional Spanish mackerel.

Gathering bait: It hasn't gotten too cold to catch a variety of live bait. After daylight we got all the whitebait we needed for the mangos between the gulf pier at Fort De Soto and the tall range marker just north of it.

What's ahead: We may have to put on hold for a few days trying out any new Christmas tackle. A projected midweek cold front will likely stir things up a bit.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Christmas gifts for Tampa Bay sports figures


By Tom Jones, Time Staff Writer
Monday, December 24, 2012

Ralphie wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. Many dream of a white Christmas. And some little boys and girls want only their two front teeth.

This morning, did you get what you wanted for Christmas?

On this day we look at some local sports figures and what they wanted to see wrapped up under their tree this morning, starting with the Bucs' Josh Freeman..

Josh Freeman:

A fan base that appreciates the Bucs quarterback for all the things he does instead of criticizing him for all the things he doesn't do.

tom jones' two cents

Greg Schiano

A new whistle. You just know the Bucs coach has worn out the old one making sure his players have had their toes on the line in 2012.

Tampa Bay sports fans

A local TV show that discusses the topics of the week in Tampa Bay sports. Maybe put J.P. Peterson in as host and have local sports, media and broadcasting types bat around the hot topics.

Steven Stamkos

The end of the NHL lockout so the Lightning star, top left, can get on already with becoming the best player in the NHL. And for some of his teammates, clockwise from top right …

Marty St. Louis

A hockey season.

Ryan Malone

See Marty St. Louis.

Vinny Lecavalier

See Ryan Malone. (You know, we could do this all day.)

Dave Mishkin

The radio voice of the Lightning already got his gift of not having to yell SCOOOOOOOOORE!!!! for the past three months.

Carl Nicks

A big toe that doesn't resemble an Idaho potato, and one that doesn't keep the Bucs guard out of another season.


David Price's dog — the most famous and, by far, the coolest pet in Tampa Bay history — gets a Yankees chew toy.

Dick Vitale

More strength, more energy and more time to continue being one of this world's most valuable advocates in the fight against pediatric cancer. And you know, this time of year, Dick would probably like it if people went to his website, DickVitaleOnline.com, to contribute to that cause.

Davin Joseph

A knee that doesn't resemble a plate of spaghetti, and one that doesn't keep the Bucs guard out of another season.

Gerald McCoy

Some well-deserved recognition for just how good a player the Bucs tackle has become. Oh, and some throat lozenges so he can keep saying whatever he darn well pleases.

Mark Dominik

Enough dough to patch up the defense like the Bucs general manager plugged the holes on offense last offseason.

Bucs cornerbacks

A few bottles of Adderall so they can at least do something real NFL cornerbacks do.

Ronde Barber

Another 2012 calendar so he thinks he's the same age and decides to play another season with the Bucs.

Tony Dungy

A cellphone that doesn't ring. That way he won't be able to answer the calls from teams wanting him to be their head coach, and he can stay right where we need him: working on Sunday Night Football.

Jon Gruden

A cellphone that doesn't ring. That way he won't be able to answer the calls from teams wanting him to be their head coach, and he can stay right where we need him: working on Monday Night Football.

Joe Maddon

For all this guy does on the field and in the community, the Rays manager gets whatever he wants.

Evan Longoria

Well, let's see here. He has a new $100 million contract extension, a Playmate girlfriend and a baby on the way. I'd say the Rays third baseman truly is the man who has everything.

The Rays

A catcher. And a DH. And another outfielder. Maybe a bullpen arm. Yikes, Santa probably couldn't fit all that down the chimney. Okay, can they at least have a healthy Evan Longoria for 162 games?

St. Petersburg residents

A mayor who has a serious solution — not just waving a lease — for the Rays stadium dilemma.

Willie Taggart

The new USF football coach needs a quarterback, a defense and a map of how to get to all the local high schools — you know, all the things former coach Skip Holtz didn't have.

Stan Heath

Just one kid who is 6 feet 6 and can shoot from downtown and jump out of the gym and rebound like a hawk and wants to play four years of college basketball just so he can take USF from an average program to a Sweet 16 team.

Doug Woolard

The USF athletic director needs a conference that doesn't resemble the Titanic.

Here's a stocking full of surprises for local sports fans:

A quarterback who makes them happy. The realization that they have the best manager in baseball. A new baseball stadium so they don't have to worry about the Rays moving. Bucs tickets so games won't be blacked out next season. Directions to the Sun Dome so they can go watch USF basketball. And playoff tickets for the Rays, Bucs and Lightning … if the Lightning ever plays again.

Fernando Rodney

The calendar Ronde Barber got so the Ray can continue having the greatest year for a reliever in baseball history.

Andrew Friedman

A nameplate that says "General Manager'' so we can call him that instead of that hoity-toity title of "Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations'' or whatever he calls himself for the Rays.

Sports in brief


Times staff, wires
Monday, December 24, 2012


NHL talks still stuck in limbo

As the NHL lockout hit its 100th day Monday, league deputy commissioner Bill Daly said no talks were scheduled for this week.

"We haven't talked about meetings later this week," Daly said in an email to csnphilly.com. "I guess we will see."

The New York Post reported negotiations were expected to resume Wednesday or Thursday. After Daly and players association lawyer Steve Fehr spoke by phone Saturday, there was no expectation they would do so again before Wednesday, the Post said. The sides haven't met face to face since Dec. 13.

Resuming negotiations this week would leave the sides up to three weeks to reach a labor deal and begin a 48-game season. The league has said 48 is the minimum number of games it wants to play.

Games have been canceled through Jan. 14.

The major sticking points remain these:

•Owners want a 10-year deal that can be reopened after eight years. Players want an eight-year deal and a six-year reopener.

• Owners want contracts limited to five years, though teams could sign their own free agents for seven. Players suggest maximum eight-year deals.

• To stop contracts that circumvent the salary cap, owners want no more than a 5 percent difference in salary from year to year. Players would rather see a 25 percent high-low range.

• Players want amnesty contract buyouts that would not count against the cap. The league says no.

WORLD JUNIORS: Four Lightning prospects are playing in the world junior championship for players younger than 20 Wednesday through Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia: forwards Nikita Kucherov (Russia) and Tanner Richard (Switzerland), defenseman Nikita Nesterov (Russia) and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (Russia).


U.S. team sorts through turmoil

New U.S. short track coach Guy Thibault has about 13 months before the 2014 Games to repair the fissures in a program that splintered after Jae Su Chun resigned as coach amid allegations of abuse and cheating.

"It's a short window," said Thibault, a two-time Canadian Olympian and former U.S. long-track and Canadian short-track coach.

Chun resigned in October after being accused by a dozen skaters of physical, emotional and verbal abuse, and by one of ordering him to sabotage the skate of a rival at a meet.

Investigators hired by U.S. Speedskating found no evidence of any of the accusations, and Chun denies them all. He has accepted a suspension through the 2014 Games but is volunteering to coach some of the top skaters, including women's national champion Lana Gehring.

Consider the makeup of the World Cup team selected Saturday at the U.S. championships: Four are members of the national program under Thibault. Two are with Chun. Six are with another splinter group, FAST, that was part of the complaint against Chun.

"I don't expect some of them to become best friends by the Olympic Games, but I'm sure they will grow to respect their teammates," Thibault said.

Damian Cristodero, Times staff writer; Times wires

Supposedly easy Ochlockonee River adventure turns harrowing


By Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors-Fitness Editor
Monday, December 24, 2012

Part one of two.

Georgia Ackerman heard the river looked good, though it had been a few months since the adventure outfitter had paddled the Ochlockonee River.

"I've heard there is one deadfall not too long after you put in," she said as she drove us to the dropoff point about 20 miles west of Tallahassee. "Once you get past that, you should be fine."

The weather looked good. The crew appeared in fine spirits. So in theory the 61-mile trip to Womack Creek should be a leisurely three-day paddle.

But 30 years of exploring Florida's rivers has taught me to never take anything for granted.

My motto always has been, "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst," and it has served me well. Because whenever I plan an expedition, something usually goes wrong.

That might explain why it's hard to find traveling companions.

"This should be a nice, easy river," George Stovall said as we slid our kayaks downstream of the dam at Lake Talquin. "It looks like we even have the wind and current in our favor."

But a feeling deep down in my stomach made me think otherwise. The last time my friend made such a prediction on a kayak trip, the temperature dropped into the single digits during the night and all our drinking water froze.

Still, the sun was shining, the water was moving. That feeling must be indigestion from that gas station fried chicken I devoured a few hours earlier, I thought. "I don't know when I'll eat again," I had said at the time.

As rivers go, the Ochlockonee ranks high in terms of wilderness. It starts in Georgia and flows for more than 150 miles south, through national and state forests to the Gulf of Mexico. The Lower Ochlockonee, a designated state paddling trail, starts at a point on State Road 20 in the Panhandle and ends 65 miles downstream at Ochlockonee River State Park.

According to the state's official paddling guide, the river is considered "easy to moderate due to current, downed trees and a few areas of navigational difficulty." In terms of skill level, the river is rated "beginner."

Paddle Florida, a nonprofit organization in Gainesville that organizes outings for large groups of kayakers on the state's rivers, has a trip planned on the Ochlockonee for March 2013.

If a group of casual paddlers can handle this river, I thought, how hard could it be for three seasoned watermen?

The answer became apparent after an hour on the river when we hit the first of what would be more than a dozen logjams.

"It doesn't look too hard," I announced as I carefully guided my sea kayak through the downed trees. "Piece of cake."

But I realized I'd spoken too soon when the bow of my boat caught a submerged stump, which turned the kayak sideways and nearly dumped me into the water.

"Careful," Darry Jackson yelled, witnessing my struggle. "We don't want anybody to get hurt."

A few miles downstream we hit another blockage. This time I decided to get out of the kayak and climb across the tangled mass of brush. The plan seemed to be working until the weight of my body caused the logs to drift apart. My right leg went one way, my left the other. My knee, still weak from recent surgery, started to give. So I had no choice but to let gravity take its course.

"Wait," Stovall commanded as I waded through chest-deep water. "I need to get a picture."

Not long after that, we stopped for the night, eager to get a fresh start in the morning. But the following day, deep in the heart of Apalachicola National Forest, things got worse.

The map said the river went straight, but our eyes told us it split into two sections. We tried the one on the right first, but the path was blocked by dozens of dead pines. So we got out and hiked across what appeared to be an island to take a look at the left branch. That was blocked, too.

"We'll have to portage," Jackson announced.

Carrying a fully loaded kayak up a steep, muddy embankment is no easy task. I tried to climb up the hill to scout the path, but I grabbed a poison ivy vine by mistake and slid back down on my belly.

"I don't think your orthopedic surgeon would approve," said Stovall, a chiropractor. "We'll help you get your boat up the bank."

Tired, bruised and battered, we finally made it Mack Landing Campground, up a side creek just off the river. We pulled our kayaks up on the bank. A sign up the hill reminded us to be careful where we stored our food. We were in bear country.

"This ought to be interesting," I told my friends.

Wednesday: Lost in the swamp.

L.A. doubleheader leads holiday slate


Times wires
Monday, December 24, 2012

The NBA's hottest team will be playing at home in Los Angeles, and it's the Clippers, not the Lakers. There's an NBA Finals rematch in Miami, a matinee in Brooklyn, Kobe vs. the Knicks and the 20th anniversary of one of Michael Jordan's most memorable games in Chicago.

Welcome to Christmas, NBA style. A five-game slate makes up today's schedule. Schedule-makers set the matchups long ago, and the league always tries to get marquee meetings. This year the NBA pretty much struck gold.

The Clippers are riding a franchise-record 13-game winning streak. The Knicks face their former coach Mike D'Antoni when they play the Lakers. Miami and Oklahoma City bring the best records in their respective conferences into their first matchup since the Heat won the title. And Brooklyn and Boston face off a few weeks after the teams started shoving one another and firing off insults afterward.

"I don't know how much bad blood is still there," Nets guard Deron Williams said Monday. "We beat them twice this year. I know they're aware of that, and they'll come in ready to play."

Los Angeles will be the center of the league's Christmas bash, with two games at Staples Center. The Knicks — with an Eastern Conference-leading 20 wins — venture out West to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, who reworked their roster over the summer and reworked their coaching staff after a slow start, firing Mike Brown and bringing in D'Antoni.

Finish that game, clear the court and fans in Los Angeles get a second present: the NBA's best team of late. The red-hot Clippers close the day's five-pack of games against the Nuggets. "It will be a good challenge for us," Denver forward Danilo Gallinari said. "And we'll be ready for them."

COUSINS RETURNS: The Kings reinstated center DeMarcus Cousins after a one-game suspension for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team." Cousins practiced with the team three days after he and coach Keith Smart exchanged words in the locker room during halftime of Sacramento's loss to the Clippers on Friday. Smart benched Cousins for the second half and ordered him to remain in the locker room.

Bucs' Eric Wright returns from drug suspension


By Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer
Monday, December 24, 2012

TAMPA — Bucs CB Eric Wright has returned to the team after his four-game suspension and is eligible to be in the lineup for the season finale against the Falcons on Sunday.

But coach Greg Schiano was noncommittal Monday when asked if Wright would play and said he wouldn't decide until he saw Wright in practice.

The Bucs were off Monday and are off today. They will practice Wednesday.

"He is back," Schiano said of Wright. "Can't tell you right now (if he will play Sunday) without getting on the field and seeing where he is and formulating a plan and all those things. I think he'll be in shape. I just have to see what is the best thing for our football team."

Wright was suspended for the past four games for a violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy after an unsuccessful appeal. He said he took the prescription drug Adderall for an undisclosed health issue.

The decision on playing Wright will boil down to his ability to acclimate after a month away, Schiano said. "I don't think conditioning will be the issue," he said. "But being in good football shape and being in good cardio (shape) and change-of-direction shape, those are different."

FALCONS FOCUSED? Atlanta has sewn up the No. 1 playoff seed in the NFC. That raises a common question at this time of year: Will the Falcons play their starters and other key players or rest them for the playoffs?

They offered no direct answers after defeating the Lions on Saturday night to solidify their seed.

"We're going to play the game to win," coach Mike Smith said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. "That's how we approach it. It's an important game because it's a division game. All games are important. Does it have no bearing? It really does because we want to win every time we go out there to play."

Still, Smith did not say he would play his starters.

This is an unprecedented situation for the Falcons' current staff. Though the team earned the No. 1 seed in 2010, it needed to win its finale against the Panthers to clinch. That was followed by a devastating loss to the Packers in Atlanta's playoff opener, something the Falcons aren't forgetting.

Smith said he'll go about things differently leading up to this season's playoffs.

"We'll handle it differently in terms of our workload and the days that we are going to work during our bye week and what our schedule will be," he said. "We are not going to do anything like we did last time."

NO HINTS: Veteran S Ronde Barber might have played his last home game Sunday, but he wasn't nostalgic because, he said, no decision has been made about retirement.

Asked by the media whether he felt any emotion when he left the field, Barber, 37, feigned ignorance about the question's meaning.

"A lot of y'all were trying to take pictures of me," he said. "I don't know why."

A retirement decision won't be made for some time, Barber said. This year Barber didn't agree to his current one-year contract until March.

"I won't even entertain those notions yet," he said. "That's for me to do in the offseason. Week 16 of the season is no (time for a) retrospective for me."

View Stephen F. Holder's blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

Sports on TV/radio


Times sports staff
Monday, December 24, 2012


College basketball

Mississippi vs. Hawaii, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU

Indiana State vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

San Diego State vs. Arizona, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2


Celtics at Nets, noon, ESPN, ESPND

Knicks at Lakers, 3 p.m., Ch. 28, ESPND

Thunder at Heat, 5:30 p.m., Ch. 28, ESPND

Rockets at Bulls, 8 p.m., ESPN, ESPND

Nuggets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m., ESPN

TV: ESPND: ESPN Deportes

Michigan star to show versatility


Times wires
Monday, December 24, 2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Denard Robinson's position is a secret for the final game of his college career.

It perhaps will provide a preview of his future in football.

The three-year starting quarterback might not throw for No. 19 Michigan against No. 11 South Carolina on New Year's Day in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. He probably will catch some passes as a running back or receiver.

Robinson hopes showing he can make plays without taking snaps will help NFL teams see what he can do. "If you're making plays on the field, you can't hide that," Robinson said this month. "You can't hide a playmaker."

Some project Robinson as a receiver in the pros.

NFL draft consultant and ex-Cowboys GM Gil Brandt has another idea: "I'd draft him to be a cornerback. A quarterback never wants to be told he's going to have to play another position, but I don't think he can play quarterback in the NFL. I do know teams are always looking for cornerbacks, and I think Robinson could do it because of his quickness and speed."

TRIO SUSPENDED: Three Texas Tech players won't play against Minnesota in Friday's Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston because they violated undisclosed team rules: defensive back Cornelius Douglas, linebacker Chris Payne and defensive tackle Leon Mackey.

College basketball

AP POLL: Florida dropped from eighth to 14th in the Associated Press poll released Monday. Pittsburgh and Kansas State entered at 24th and 25th, replacing New Mexico and North Carolina. Duke and Michigan remained the top two.

WOMEN'S POLL: Florida State moved up two spots to 21st. Arkansas entered at No. 25; West Virginia fell out. Stanford remained No. 1.

LATE SUNDAY: Miami had 14 steals against No. 4 Arizona and still wasn't close to taking down one of the few remaining unbeaten teams.

The Wildcats (11-0) focused on the Hurricanes' backcourt, holding Shane Larkin and Durand Scott to eight field goals as the Wildcats won 69-50 at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

Kenny Kadji led Miami (8-2) with 19 points.

"It was one of our best performances of the year," Arizona coach Sean Miller said.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano: 'Close isn't what we're here for'


By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Monday, December 24, 2012

TAMPA — He wasn't just a Kool-Aid chugger for two months when things were going well, because seeing meant believing for Greg Schiano. That's what has made a five-game losing streak so difficult to swallow for the Bucs' first-year coach.

By next week, the Bucs likely will have their first 4,000-yard passer, a running back with a franchise rookie rushing record of more than 1,300 yards and two 1,000-yard receivers for the first time.

But the only sum that matters is a 6-4 start that has turned into a 6-9 disappointment following Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Rams.

"What's eating me right now is we're close, but close isn't what we're here for," Schiano said on Christmas Eve, a day after quarterback Josh Freeman threw four interceptions for the second straight game.

"We've got to get where we start getting the five or six plays that determine the game on each side of the ball. Right now we're coming up two (and) four. At 3-3, you've got a chance to win, but at 2-4 you're not going to win, especially if you do it on both sides. That's where we've kind of been here the last five weeks. … That's what eats me because I know these guys can do it."

Freeman, among the league's top passers after 10 weeks with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions, matched that number of picks in losses to the Saints and Rams the past two weeks. St. Louis scored 21 points off those turnovers, including a pickoff return for a touchdown by cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

The Bucs also produced one field goal in three trips inside the red zone, including two drives when Tampa Bay failed to convert on fourth down from the Rams' 7-yard line or closer.

"Did we forget how to coach? Did they forget how to play? I don't think so," Schiano said. "It just didn't happen for us. And certainly that has an impact on the game."

Schiano said he does not believe Freeman is forcing throws and there is a fine line between making plays and bad decisions.

"I do feel he's an aggressive football player," Schiano said. "He's got skills, and he wants to use them. As I said (Sunday), it is such a fine line between being a great play and pressing, (and) a great play and forcing. You don't want to ever get your quarterback afraid.

"You look at any quarterback who is in that (career) phase where he is, that 50-game area, that's where they start to really get it."

Despite a second straight turnover-filled game, Freeman set three club records Sunday: His 3,843 passing yards are a season mark. His touchdown to receiver Mike Williams gave Freeman 26, the Bucs' season record. Freeman also tied Vinny Testaverde for career touchdown passes with 77.

"Josh is getting it," Schiano said. "He's got such a better understanding of the whole game. It takes all those repetitions and all those opportunities."

Freeman wasn't the only culprit Sunday. The Bucs' defense gave up an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second half when rookie linebacker Lavonte David bit hard on a play-action run fake. "Chalk it up to a beginner's mistake," Schiano said.

But much has gone right for the Bucs this season, especially on offense. Receivers Vincent Jackson (69 catches for 1,334 yards, 8 TDs) and Williams (57 catches, 931 yards, 8 TDs) could eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. Doug Martin has set the club's rookie rushing record with 1,312 yards and 10 TDs.

"Look, there's been a lot of things that have happened over the course of this year," Schiano said. "Some of the guys we started with aren't here, all that sort of stuff. But that doesn't matter. Again, we had opportunities to do it, and we didn't coach well enough, and we didn't play well enough to be on the positive side, and that's what eats me."

Returning from cancer, Pagano lights up Colts' day


Times wires
Monday, December 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Chuck Pagano stepped to the podium Monday, hugged his team owner, thanked his family for its support and wiped a tear from his eye.

He might finally turn out the lights in his office, too.

Nearly three months after being diagnosed with leukemia, the Colts' first-year coach returned to his duties.

While he was out and enduring three rounds of chemotherapy, the team went 9-3 and clinched a playoff berth under interim coach Bruce Arians.

"I told you my best day of my life was July 1, 1989," Pagano said of his wedding date. "Today was No. 2. Getting to pull up, drive in, get out of my car, the key fob still worked. I was beginning to question whether it would. … When I asked for Bruce to take over, I asked for him to kick some you-know-what and to do great. Bruce, you had to go and win nine games? … That's what I have to come back to."

The comment turned tears into laughter.

The Colts won nine of 12 in a turnaround from a 2-14 mark last year. If all goes well at practice this week, Pagano will return to the sideline for Sunday's regular-season finale against Houston for his first game since Week 3 against Jacksonville.

"I know Chuck is ready for this challenge," owner Jim Irsay said. "In speaking to his doctor multiple times, I know that the time is right for him to grab the reins, get the head coaching cap on and begin the journey. It's been a miraculous story."

Arians and first-year general manager Ryan Grigson left the lights on in Pagano's office until he returned.

TEBOW WILLING? Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tim Tebow wasn't happy when Greg McElroy was named starter for Sunday's loss to San Diego, but he insisted Tebow was willing to play any role, including plays out of the wildcat offense. ESPN had reported that Tebow, a Heisman winner at Florida, asked out of his wildcat duties early last week after McElroy replaced Mark Sanchez as starter.

SHURMUR DEFENDS METHODS: Though two of his prized rookies got hurt, Browns coach Pat Shurmur defended playing his regulars late in a 34-12 loss in Denver. Trent Richardson (left ankle) and Brandon Weeden (right shoulder) were injured in the second half. "What do we do, just stop playing?" Shurmur said. "So you just run the ball and get out of there, warm up the buses?" Shurmur said he hoped Weeden and Richardson could play Sunday in Pittsburgh.

FOLES OUT, VICK TO START: Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles has a broken right hand, and coach Andy Reid said Michael Vick will likely start against the Giants in Sunday's finale. Vick and Reid are nearly certain to be leaving Philadelphia after the season.

NEWTON UNDER REVIEW: The league is reviewing Cam Newton's contact with a game official Sunday against Oakland and could fine the Panthers' quarterback, the Charlotte Observer reported. After being taken down by Raiders safety Mike Mitchell following a short pass in the fourth quarter, Newton yelled at referee Jerome Boger, bumping him and drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Boger told a pool reporter he misspoke when he announced a personal foul against Newton was for bumping an official. He said he penalized Newton for "disrespectfully addressing" him and the contact wasn't of a "malicious nature." Newton apologized to Boger after the game.

PORTER CASE: Authorities said former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter was released from a California jail after paying $70,000 owed to the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. Prosecutor Samuel Bateman said Porter was arrested over the weekend on a theft and bad check complaint filed this year.

RAIDERS: Quarterback Carson Palmer (cracked ribs, bruised lung) will miss Sunday's finale against the Chargers.

STEELERS: Tight end Heath Miller tore his right ACL and MCL, and possibly his PCL, against the Bengals. Typical recovery time would extend well into next season's training camp.

East Bay Fishing Report


Capt. Dave Walker
Monday, December 24, 2012

The recent strong cold fronts have changed the game in Tampa Bay. Fish are on the move and will start to be really finicky. Winter fishing requires some extra patience as well as a nice warm jacket.

What's Hot: There have been some good catches as well as reports of complete failure. The fish that have been the most cooperative are spotted sea trout. The "specks" tolerate the cold well and tend to bunch up in holes and feeder creeks to Tampa Bay. Some cobia and pompano are being caught as well past the Apollo Beach power plant outflow.

Tip: When using artificial lures this time of year, it is crucial to use a slow retrieve. Cold fish tend to be lethargic and will not exert much energy to feed. Jigs should be fished just fast enough to keep it off of the bottom. Hard lures should be moved at a slow rate, also to maximize positive results.

Seasonal: The snook fishery has improved dramatically after a few brutally cold winters back to back that were basically catastrophic to the species.

They are pushing up into rivers now like the Manatee and Hillsborough. Snook, big ones, will work their way far up into fresh water systems. The U.S. 301 bridge and points further upstream in the Manatee can and will yield abundant winter snook.

In the Hillsborough River, they can be found from Lowry Park all the way to the dam at Rowlette Park.

Rivers should be navigated carefully. There are many shallow twists and turns in these areas and the water is also stained from tannins from rotting leaves and other vegetation. This gives the creeks and rivers their characteristic "tea" colored water.

Captain Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or at www.snookfish.com.

Captain's Corner: Go for trout in cold weather


By Dave Walker, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What's hot: The "Polar Express" finally arrived. Strong cold fronts are a game-changer when it comes to consistently catching fish during late December. Spotted sea trout have been cooperative lately. They are clumping in deeper holes adjacent to grass flats and some residential canals. When it gets really cold, trout can save the day. Unlike other species, they can tolerate the chill.

What's cold: Water temperatures have plummeted over the past week due to our first cold snap of the year. With temperatures in the upper 50s, fishing gets difficult.

Tips: If using artificial lures, slow down the retrieve to just about a crawl. Cold fish will not exert much effort to catch a dinner that is speeding by. Patience and a slow approach will lead to many more strikes. If fishing has been slow for an hour or so, many anglers subconsciously speed up their retrieval rate. This happens because of frustration or just simply being cold and bored. In addition, extra caution should be used on the water by all fishermen because a spill into Tampa Bay or the gulf can lead to hypothermia in a very short time.

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

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky


Times wires
Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Who: Western Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC)

When/where: 7:30; Detroit


Line: Western Kentucky by 5½

Notable: Western Kentucky, formerly led by new USF coach Willie Taggart, appears in its first bowl since moving up to Division I-A in 2009. Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry leads it before Bobby Petrino takes over in January. After leading Miami (Ohio) to a victory at last season's GoDaddy.com, he can become the first interim coach to win two bowls. Antonio Andrews' 1,609 rushing yards for WKU are eighth in I-A. Central Michigan's Zurlon Tipton has 1,391 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.

Times wires

Browsing All 18574 Browse Latest View Live