Channel: Tampabay.com: Sports
Mark channel Not-Safe-For-Work? cancel confirm NSFW Votes: (0 votes)
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel.
Previous Article Next Article

NFL quarterback rankings


By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2013

tom jones' two cents

Every year at this time — a week after the NFL season — we rank the starting quarterbacks of all 32 teams.

The rankings aren't based just on statistics. They aren't based just on victories. They're based on, well, statistics and victories, as well as intangibles that can't be fully explained.

The Ravens' Joe Flacco moves up on our list, and the Panthers' Cam Newton drops a bit. Star rookies Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, as well as new starter Colin Kaepernick, debut high on the list.

Remember, we are ranking just the starters, so Alex Smith of the 49ers, who is probably better than half the QBs listed here, doesn't qualify because he is a backup. You also won't find Tim Tebow, another backup.

So here we go …

No double check needed. He's still the best QB in football, and he has the QB rating to prove it.

He's 35 and hasn't won a Super Bowl since he was 27. He's 7-7 in his past 14 postseason games, but come on, he remains arguably the best QB in football … and football history.

He had a bit of a down season, but Eli's game is not often measured by sheer numbers. If you have a big drive in a big game, you'd want Eli at QB. Just see his two Super Bowl wins.

He is the NFL's most prolific passer. He led the league in yards and TD passes last season. Uh, he also tied for the lead in interceptions with 19.

Health is an issue, but he's still one of the best playmakers in football. And let's not forget that he has three Super Bowl appearances and two rings.

6. Joe Flacco, Ravens

He has moved from good to great with this year's Super Bowl MVP performance. He already has proven to be one of the better postseason QBs of his generation.

7. Peyton Manning, Broncos

He had an amazing comeback season after missing 2011. But a loss in his first playoff game again raises questions about his postseason abilities. In 20 playoff games, he's 9-11 with 21 interceptions.

8. Matt Ryan, Falcons

A terrific regular-season QB, he finally got over the hump of winning a playoff game. He is almost unbeatable at home.

9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

He has a Super Bowl appearance after only 10 starts and a scary good throwing-running combination.

10. Andrew Luck, Colts

He had a superb rookie season. Prediction: He will be the top QB from the class of 2012.

11. Robert Griffin III, Redskins

No question he's a special talent, but can he stay healthy over the long haul?

12. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

A surprise starter in 2012, he led the Seahawks to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. He threw 26 TD passes and only 10 interceptions.

13. Matt Schaub, Texans

He has strong numbers, but some still question whether he is a real winner and will ever lead the Texans even as far as the conference title game.

14. Josh Freeman, Bucs

He set career marks in 2012 for TD passes and yards. He ended up with 27 TD passes and 17 interceptions, though eight picks came in two awful games. Overall, it was his best pro season.

15. Sam Bradford, Rams

I might have him ranked a little higher than most, but that's how much I believe in Bradford's talent. He needs to work on accuracy, but I believe he will one day be among the top 10 QBs in football.

16. Tony Romo, Cowboys

He still takes too many risks, and as a result, he hurts his team as much as he helps it. He threw a league-high 19 picks. Oh, he's 17-21 in his past 38 starts.

17. Cam Newton, Panthers

A spectacular rookie season was followed up by a sophomore slump. However, he did rally late in the season, winning five of the final six games with 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, along with four rushing touchdowns. That proved he still has the makings of an elite QB.

18. Jay Cutler, Bears

I still question his leadership and decision-making in pressure situations. He has 100 interceptions in 93 regular-season starts. He has skills, but if I had one game to win, I wouldn't want Cutler as my QB.

19. Andy Dalton, Bengals

I'm still not sold on Dalton. He's 19-13 as a starter and has guided the Bengals to two playoff appearances, but he doesn't have too many signature wins on his resume and hasn't looked good in the postseason: two losses, no TD passes, four interceptions.

20. Matt Stafford, Lions

Bet you didn't know Stafford had more completions than any QB in 2012. Then again, he also threw the ball more than any QB. Only 20 TD passes and 17 picks was a definite step back from his super 2011 season. He should climb on this list in future.

21. Philip Rivers, Chargers

He has a world of talent, yet some numbers make you scratch your head: a 15-17 record over the past two seasons and 35 picks in his past 32 starts.

22. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills

He actually puts up okay numbers, but he just happens to be playing for a franchise that is in lousy shape at the moment. If he played in a place such as Dallas or Chicago, he might be a star.

23. Michael Vick, Eagles

You have to start wondering if Vick has much left, and he seems a long shot to ever find the game to get his team deep into the playoffs. If Nick Foles is Philly's starter next season, he would be ranked in this spot.

24. Christian Ponder, Vikings

He is improving, but his team is built around running back Adrian Peterson.

25. Mark Sanchez, Jets

From back-to-back AFC Championship Games to an awful 13-TD, 18-interception season, he's about to be run out of the Big Apple.

26. Matt Cassel, Chiefs

He had the worst QB rating among starters and just hasn't met expectations.

27. Carson Palmer, Raiders

It seems like a hundred years ago when he was such a bright up-and-comer with the Bengals. Wha' happened?

28. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

Just a kid, he has shown promise, but nowhere near the level of young QBs Andrew Luck and RG3.

29. Brandon Weeden, Browns

The explanation used for Tannehill also applies to Weeden.

30. Jake Locker, Titans

The explanation used for Tannehill and Weeden also applies to Locker.

31. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals

Kolb came over from Philly and was supposed to be the Cards' solution at QB, but injuries have gotten in the way.

32. Chad Henne, Jaguars

The Jags are a mess. You could put almost any average quarterback on this team and he would be last on this list.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

USF falls to Villanova


By Jon Marks, Special to the Times
Saturday, February 9, 2013

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Last year must seem like light years ago to USF. So many things went right for it in a 22-14 campaign that got the Bulls to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

But that was then, and this is now. The Bulls plummeted to 10-13 — just one fewer loss than they had all last season — and 1-10 in the Big East after digging a 23-point first-half hole in Saturday's dreary 68-40 loss at Villanova.

Coach Stan Heath didn't blame the loss of leading scorer Victor Rudd, who strained his groin last week in practice and was held out, for USF's sixth straight loss. Rudd's absence didn't justify a woeful performance in which USF made its first shot, then only 4-of-21 for the remainder of the first half while letting the Wildcats have their way in the paint and in rebounding.

By the end, after USF needed a late flurry against walk-ons to avoid being doubled up, Heath could only hope it was just one of those days.

"We're struggling right now, and the basket seems really small," Heath said of USF, which shot 11-for-47 (23.4 percent) and was outrebounded 39-28 total, 21-8 in the first half. "That affects everything we do and affects our defense. It's confidence. We're not executing great, and teams are disrupting us."

Coach Jay Wright's Wildcats (15-9, 6-5) did whatever they wanted at both ends. Villanova turned a 16-11 lead with 9:11 left in the first half into a 39-16 blowout by intermission.

The second half wasn't any better for the Bulls, who didn't reach 30 points until 5:44 was left, though they never stopped hustling after loose balls and trying to defend.

"We're a little frustrated as a team," said freshman JaVontae Hawkins, who came off the bench to score 13, USF's only player in double figures. "We've been losing games, so we've been showing our frustration.

"Not having Victor affected us a lot. He's our leader out there. He's a scorer and a key on defense. But credit Villanova. They played well.

"It was just one of those days where we couldn't make a shot."

Heath hopes that will change for Wednesday's home game against Providence. Plus, he said he thought Rudd could be back by then.

"I don't know how much difference he could've made," Heath said. "Victor's one of those guys who, when he gets on a streak, opens things up for everybody.

"But no one's going to feel sorry for you. You just have to make the most with what you have."

Villanova got 17 points from guard Darrun Hilliard and shot 22-for-42, 52.4 percent.

Florida State routed at Wake Forest


Times wires
Saturday, February 9, 2013

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton offered a simple assessment when asked what his team did right Saturday.

"We put our uniforms on right," he said. "That's about where it stopped."

He only slightly exaggerated.

The Seminoles never led and fell to .500 in ACC play in being routed by Wake Forest 71-46.

"If I was in Wake Forest's shoes, I would have been disappointed that we didn't give them more of an effort, a challenge that would have helped them improve," Hamilton said.

"With all of the progress that we've made with our program in the last six or seven years, we seemed to have taken a step back with our execution and our effort."

Travis McKie scored 15 and C.J. Harris 14 for the Demon Deacons (11-12, 4-7), who ended a four-game skid and matched last season's ACC win total.

"All we talked about was our pride, our confidence, our will, our desire and getting back to playing really good basketball," coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "Simple as that."

Wake finished with a 45-25 edge in rebounding, which led to a 19-1 edge in second-chance points. Its 14-0 second-half run (Harris scoring seven) made it a 26-point game. FSU (13-10, 5-5) made 6 of 24 second-half shots.

"They busted a lead open, saw us bleeding and kept going," said FSU's Michael Snaer, whose 13 points tied Clearwater High grad Okaro White for the team high.

The loss extended FSU's recent up-and-down stretch. Its past six games have been: Snaer's last-second winning shot against Clemson, a 24-point loss to Miami, Snaer's last-second winning shot against Maryland, a 19-point loss to Duke, Snaer's last-second winning shot against Georgia Tech and Saturday's 25-point loss.

If the trend continues, Miami, 10-0 in ACC play, will be in for some late heartbreak Wednesday in Tallahassee.

"One good thing about being in the ACC is that you can't dwell on it for so long because you have another challenge coming down the pike," Hamil­ton said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't play excellent come Wednesday night."

Gators rebound, rout Mississippi State


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2013

GAINESVILLE — Fresh off a humbling loss at Arkansas, and with a big-time game against Kentucky looming Tuesday night, No. 2 Florida got solid support from its reserves and capitalized on exceptional first-half 3-point shooting to earn an 83-58 victory over Mississippi State at sold-out O'Connell Center on Saturday.

"You need a get-back game sometimes," senior guard Kenny Boynton said. "We did a lot of good things (Saturday). We had 21 assists, and when you have that and are hitting open shots like we were, we're going to be hard to beat. We haven't seen a lot of Kentucky yet, but we'll be focused and ready."

The Gators (19-3, 9-1 SEC) got great help from freshman guard Michael Frazier II of Tampa and junior forward Casey Prather, who will be relied upon more because junior forward Will Yeguete is out with a knee injury.

Florida missed its first five 3-pointers, then hit 5-of-6 on the way to a 31-16 lead with 7:36 left in the first half. Frazier hit 3-pointers on three of five possessions to help extend the lead.

Frazier got his first career start in place of junior guard Scottie Wilbekin, whom coach Billy Donovan said was benched for a lack of energy and enthusiasm in practice the past week.

"I was just trying to come in and help any way I can," said Frazier, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds. "My role is to bring energy to this team, and if that's starting or coming off the bench, that's what I'm going to try to do."

Prather, recovering from a high ankle sprain, had a season-high 12 points, five rebounds, one block and one steal.

"I just know I have to bring more energy to the table," Prather said.

Donovan said he was pleased with the way the Gators rebounded from Tuesday's loss but said they still need to improve, particularly on defense.

"We've got to get even more focused defensively than we've been," he said. "Looking down the stat sheet against Mississippi State (7-15, 2-8), who has struggled to score, they got right around their average, and they ended up shooting around 46 percent in the second half. That's too high of a percentage. So we've got to see where we made some mistakes, and I think some guys have got to grow and get better."

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

Sapp could start glut of Bucs in Hall


By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2013

TAMPA — Warren Sapp's improbable journey from a dirt road in Plymouth, near Orlando, to the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will be completed during his enshrinement ceremony Aug. 3.

"There will be two buses leaving from my mother's front door," Sapp said. "And listen to this. How wild are these numbers? George Halas Hall is 999 miles from the front door of my mama's house."

Sapp's No. 99 that he wore for the Bucs and Raiders was a fixture in the opponent's backfield during his 13 seasons. He was a member of the league's All-Decade teams for the 1990s and 2000s; defensive player of the year in '99; a Super Bowl XXXVII champion; and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection with 961/2 career sacks, second-most for a defensive tackle.

He will join Lee Roy Selmon as the only Bucs in the Hall. But they shouldn't have to wait long for company.

LB Derrick Brooks is eligible in 2014, and judging from discussions with many members of the selection committee, he is likely a first-ballot selection. Brooks was an 11-time Pro Bowl player and the defensive player of the year in 2002, when he led the Bucs to the Super Bowl victory over the Raiders. He also was a member of the All-Decade team for the 2000s.

Former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy also is eligible for the Hall in 2014. Dungy might not be a slam dunk to be elected on his first try, though his accomplishments seem worthy. He went 139-69 (a .668 winning percentage) in 13 seasons, had an NFL-record 10 straight playoff appearances and won Super Bowl XLI as a head coach. (He also was a player on the Steelers' Super Bowl XIII winning team).

Some voters might believe Dungy should've won more Super Bowls, particularly with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. But his overall contribution to the league might push him over the top. He was the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl.

And his success as a coach produced a stellar tree of minority head coaches that included Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Leslie Frazier. In a league that just had eight head coach and seven general manager openings and did not have one filled by a minority candidate, Dungy's influence can't be overlooked.

RING OF HONOR: Sapp, who should receive his Hall of Fame ring in a ceremony at Raymond James Stadium during the 2013 season, needs to also be immediately inducted into the team's Ring of Honor and his No. 99 retired. That should be followed closely by Brooks and Dungy.

I'M THINKING: These thoughts:

Ronde Barber will return for a 17th season if the job and the money are right. Former Bucs coach Raheem Morris, Barber's close friend, told him to play until the wheels fall off. Barber's move to safety was a great one, and he showed no signs of slowing last season. We should know something by the beginning of March.

• The Bucs are perfect candidates to play in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio. Not only is Sapp being inducted a day earlier — and the team would benefit from the history lesson — but it would let coach Greg Schiano start training camp a week early and play a fifth preseason game. The Bucs have not played in the game since 1998.

• When Schiano's 24-man coaching staff was officially announced last week, I thought: That's a heck of a lot of coaches, nearly one for every two players on the 53-man roster. Also, nearly half of them coached with Schiano at Rutgers. The man has a certain way of doing things, and he might not be easy to work for. Also, linebackers coach Bob Fraser — from Rutgers — was promoted to assistant defensive coordinator. That's a title I'm not familiar with, and you wonder why it was necessary to have an assistant for coordinator Bill Sheridan. Incidentally, Fraser was replaced by Robb Smith from, wait for it, Rutgers.

Sunday: Lightning at Rangers


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2013


Lightning at Rangers

When/where: 7:30; Madison Square Garden, New York

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: The Lightning hasn't lost in regulation at the Garden since Feb. 14, 2010 (3-0-1). … The Rangers are in a 1 for 13 and 2 for 19 power-play slump. … New York entered Saturday third in the league with 296 hits.

Lightning: On Purcell, New York and Kurtis Foster


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2013

5 questions RW Teddy Purcell

What do you think of the movie The Shawshank Redemption? It's in my top three.

And those are? Shawshank Redemption, Usual Suspects, Dumb and Dumber.

In that order? In no particular order.

If you could have played a part, what would it have been? One of the extras in a jail cell so I wouldn't have to do a lot.

Can you act? We did a funny commercial last week. I had the most simple line, and I kept forgetting it.

New York state of mind

When Cory Conacher on Wednesday, the day before the game at New Jersey, joined nine teammates for an Italian meal, it was the first time the rookie left wing had been to Manhattan.

"Pretty intense," he said. "There was a lot of action going on, a lot of people."

So many, Conacher said, he was "afraid of getting lost in the crowd at the train station." Even so, he loved the energy. "You see every kind of person, business people, parents with children. You see people playing guitars to make money in the station. You see that stuff in the movies. It's pretty cool."

Grateful ex-teammate

The Lightning took a chance in July 2009 by signing defenseman Kurtis Foster, who was coming off a broken left leg. Foster, with eight goals and a career-best 42 points in 2009-10, was rejuvenated, thanks, he said, to Marty St. Louis.

"Marty really pushed me every day in practice and games to make better plays and expect more out of myself," Foster, now with the Flyers, told NHL.com. "When you follow a guy like that, it's going to make you a better player. I can't thank him enough."

Said St. Louis: "It comes from within you to put the time in and work so you're ready to overcome that kind of injury. I thought he did that."

Quote of the day

"It's something that you work hard toward, but it's not something you set as a goal. It's an accomplishment to be up with guys like that."

Steven Stamkos, whose 186 goals by age 23 trailed only Wayne Gretzky (329), Dale Hawerchuk (220) and Mario Lemieux (215)

Number of the day

1.73 Lightning's 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio entering Saturday, third in the league

Sports in brief


Times wires
Saturday, February 9, 2013



VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal beat Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday, putting the Spaniard in both finals of the VTR Open after a seven-month layoff due to a left knee injury and a stomach virus.

Nadal was scheduled to play twice today, against Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the singles final and, with Juan Monaco, in the doubles final against Italian duo Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace. Nadal said he still has pain in his left knee but his focus is on becoming sharper.

FED CUP: Varvara Lepchenko won her singles debut to lift the United States to a 1-1 tie against host Italy in a first-round match in Rimini, after Sara Errani beat Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-1. Lepchenko rallied past Roberta Vinci 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.


U.S. wins in coach's debut

Tom Sermanni won in his debut as the U.S. women's coach as Christen Press scored twice in the first half in a 4-1 defeat of Scotland in an exhibition at Jacksonville. Sermanni was hired in October.

ROWDIES: The NASL champions lost 4-0 to D.C. United of MLS at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at Lake Buena Vista.


HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs stewards are expected to conduct a hearing soon on the recent banning of Dr. Orlando Paraliticci from the Oldsmar grounds. Track management refused to discuss why it took the action against Paraliticci, a veterinarian with a clinic in Oldsmar. People can be banned from racing sites through private property rights. … Favorite Spectacular Sky held off Cheechako by a neck to win the $60,000 Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Ridden by Daniel Centeno, Spectacular Sky ($5.20) clocked 7 furlongs in 1 minute, 23.51 seconds. Appealing Stella was third. … Former Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom was second in what was expected to be his final U.S. race, the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap at Hallandale Beach, with Joel Rosario aboard. Point of Entry won the 11/8-mile race.

NFL: The Saints hired former Cowboys and Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for the same post.

TRACK: Usain Bolt kicked off his season with a rare 400-meter run, winning a heat in 46.74 seconds in Kingston, Jamaica.

alpine skiing: Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won the men's downhill at the world championships in Schladming, Austria.

Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires

Lightning's B.J. Crombeen to return


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 9, 2013

BOSTON — Lightning RW B.J. Crombeen will be back in the lineup tonight against the Rangers, five days after he was convinced he was ready to play.

Crombeen was held out of Thursday's game with the Devils as a precaution after taking some heavy punches to the head during Tuesday's first-period fight with the Flyers' Zac Rinaldo.

He said he began lobbying to get back on the ice in the second period after the league-mandated concussion testing protocol determined he did not have symptoms.

"I've gotten hit pretty good in a fight before and come back," Crombeen said after Saturday's skate at TD Garden. "You try to plead your case. You say you feel fine. You passed the tests. Obviously, they had the final call."

Tampa Bay missed Crombeen's size against the Devils, especially after starting Dana Tyrell instead of 6-foot-4, 220-pound RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie.

But coach Guy Boucher said sitting Crombeen, 6-2, 209, was the right choice, especially with the heightened concerns about head trauma.

"There's a person behind the player," Boucher said. "I always try to make my decisions as if the player were my son, what I would want for him. So we made the same type of decision with B.J."

"I obviously understood but not happily agreed," Crombeen said. "You want to be in there and be part of it."

LINE DANCING: It sounded as if Boucher would stick with a line he used a bit Thursday with grinder Nate Thompson on the wing with C Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis.

"It gives us some drive, some quick retrievals, some reliability defensively and some grit to match whoever they're going to put against Stamkos and St. Louis," Boucher said. "That's how you win on the road: a little less fancy plays, less east-west plays."

Thompson has played this season mostly with Crombeen and Adam Hall. He has two goals and is plus-2 while averaging 13:58 of ice time and winning 55 percent of faceoffs.

"I can't change my game too much," Thompson said. "I can't go out there and dangle and toe drag like those guys can. I just have to play my game and create space for them and, hopefully, complement that line."

ROSTER MOVES: Tyrell is on 24-hour waivers with the intention of sending him to AHL Syracuse. Alex Killorn will be promoted for tonight's game.

GM Steve Yzerman said the move does not reflect on Tyrell, who is 5-11, 192, and had a goal and two points in six games. But the team needs size. Killorn, with 16 goals and 38 points in 41 games with Syracuse, is 6-1, 202.

Snedeker tied for Pebble Beach lead


Times wires
Saturday, February 9, 2013

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker, the hottest player without a win this year, had four straight birdies at Pebble Beach for 4-under 68 Saturday and a share of the lead with rookie James Hahn after three rounds at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"I feel like I'm in great position, and I'm going to be surely more prepared, no matter who is around me in the last group," said Snedeker, who posted his ninth straight round in the 60s. "I'm probably going to have the most experience of anybody in those last couple groups of winning a golf tournament."

Snedeker missed four birdie putts inside 10 feet, including on the last two holes.

Hahn, 31, birdied his last three holes for 66 at Spyglass Hill — three courses are played in the tournament — putting him in the final group for the first time. He and Snedeker were at 12-under 202, one shot ahead of Chris Kirk (64 at Monterey Peninsula).

Phil Mickelson, last week's winner in the Phoenix Open over Snedeker, tumbled down the rocks and down the leaderboard at Pebble Beach.

The defending champion hit a tee shot on the par-5 18th over the cliff and toward the beach. Mickelson was going down to seek the ball when his right foot gave way and he landed hard on his rear end, bracing himself with his hands. "I got lucky. I didn't get hurt," he said. He hit his next shot into the Pacific Ocean and had to scramble for triple bogey, leaving him 11 shots behind after 73.

Tampa resident Ryuji Imada made the cut at 3 under after 73 at Pebble Beach. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was leading the pro-am with partner Jordan Spieth.

CHAMPIONS: Rocco Mediate, trying to become the 16th player to win his debut on the 50-and-over tour, shot a course-record 61 for a three-shot lead over Tom Pernice Jr. (65) at 16-under 128 after two rounds at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton.

Wrestling region roundup: Springstead wins team title, qualifies nine for state


By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 9, 2013

ST. CLOUD — Springstead, the back-to-back defending Class 2A state champion, captured its third consecutive Region 2 wrestling team title Saturday.

The Eagles (196 points) topped runnerup Lake Gibson (187.5) for the team title and qualified nine for next weekend's state championships at the Lakeland Center.

Although Springstead fell short of last season's total of 12 wrestlers moving on to state, the Eagles crowned three region champions: Mike McDonald (113 pounds), Stephen Pavao (120) and Jordan Rivera (138).

For Rivera, it was his second consecutive region title. The two-time state placer pinned over Harmony's Jeremy Beesley in 3 minutes, 11 seconds.

McDonald and Pavao needed more effort to capture their crowns. McDonald scored a 5-2 decision over St. Cloud's Joe McGinley in his final, while Pavao edged Lake Gibson's Sa'Derian Perry 6-4.

Matt Landgraff (106), Andrew Smith (126), Joe Russo (152), Billy Swift (160), Conor Ross (170), and Corey Humphrey (220) rounded out the Eagles' state qualifiers.

One week after finishing second to Springstead at the district meet, Nature Coast (108.5 points) was third at region for the second straight season. The Sharks had three qualifiers for state, all earning individual crowns. Sean Nguyen (106 pounds), who lost the district final 9-7 to Springstead's Landgraff, scored an 8-2 win this time. Brandon Vovan (160) beat Sebring's Christopher DeJesus 7-3 for his first region title. And Dylan Savoury (182) pinned Citrus' Brandon Taylor in 4:31.

Among the other North Suncoast wrestlers to qualify for state was Hernando's Jesse Gaudin (220), who pinned Springstead's Humphrey in 1:30 and Zephyrhills' Joel Morrison (182). Land O'Lakes will send three: Dominic Telesco (106), Bobby Austin (170), and Gary Garcia (195). And Sunlake (Kendrich Portorreal at 132, Zach Kweller at 160), Central (Josh Marquez at 120, Jesus Nieves at 145) and River Ridge (Dakota Arends at 113, Hayden Krautner at 285) each qualified a pair for state.

3A-2: Brandon rolls

KISSIMMEE — As expected, Brandon won the 3A-2 region team title, scoring 294 points, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.

Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top 10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.

"This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers and crowned six individual champions Saturday.

Capping the meet was a heavyweight rematch between Brandon's Darren Lester and Plant City's Lance Dounges. Lester pulled an upset last week at district after being down 5-1. In the region final at 285 pounds, Lester got the third-period pin again.

"This time, when he threw me into a lateral, I knew how to counter it," Lester said.

The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.

Brandon senior Kyle Norstrem scored major decisions against each of his region opponents, including a 17-2 final against junior Tucker Hardwick of Palm Harbor U.

A-3: Robinson tops Gulf

TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the A-3 meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.

Robinson's Kionte Crocker (138 pounds) and Luis Pegero (170) won their weight class finals.

Gulf's lone champion was Spencer Baxter (160) but the Buccaneers will send five to state.

"We could have eight go and I would have been upset it wasn't 10," Gulf coach Travis DeWalt said. "There is room for improvement but we have a good chance of coming home with some winners at state so I'm happy."

Wesley Chapel was fifth and qualified four for state, led by region champs Tony Ruggio (120) and Jon Galvin (126).

Times correspondents Andy Warrener and David Rice contributed to this report.

Off game by Griner doesn't slow Bears


Times staff, wires
Saturday, February 9, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — Odyssey Sims had 18 points and Brittney Griner sparked No. 1 Baylor's clinching second-half run with her 13th career dunk, leading the Bears to an easy 75-48 win over Texas on Saturday night.

Griner's dunk was the highlight for the 6-foot-8 All-American forward, who had a mostly forgettable game. Griner had just two points in the first half and didn't have a rebound until midway through the second half.

Griner finished with 14 points and three rebounds for Baylor (22-1, 12-0 Big 12).

NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 69, SETON HALL 49: Ariel Braker matched a career high with 15 points as the visiting Irish (22-1, 10-0 Big East) won their 17th straight game.

NO. 11 LOUISVILLE 78, PITT 45: Shoni Schimmel led five players in double figures with 22 points for the host Cardinals (20-4, 8-2 Big East), who won their sixth straight game.

NO. 25 IOWA ST. 87, KANSAS ST. 71: Chelsea Poppens had 22 points and 18 rebounds as the host Cyclones (17-5, 8-4 Big 12) won their third game in a row.

Bulls postponed

USF's game at Providence, scheduled for Saturday night, was postponed to 1 p.m. today to allow for safer travel after heavy snow blanketed the area. USF's scheduled Tuesday night home game against St. John's was moved to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

FLA. TECH 63, ECKERD 52: The visiting Panthers erased a seven-point first-half deficit and rallied past the Tritons (9-10, 5-6 Sunshine State).

TAMPA 64, LYNN 43: Greta Bartkute had 14 points in her first start this season for the host Spartans (14-6, 4-6 SSC), who opened with a 10-0 run.

BARRY 66, SAINT LEO 58: The Bucs held the host Lions (10-11, 5-6 SSC) to 29 percent shooting in the second half and rallied.

Boys basketball: Wesley Chapel wins Class 5A, District 8 title over Anclote


By Steve Lee, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 9, 2013

WESLEY CHAPEL — A third straight trip to a district final finally paid off for Wesley Chapel, which handily defeated Anclote 65-46 Saturday for the boys Class 5A, District 8 crown.

The Wildcats, runnersup each of the past two seasons, claimed their first district title in seven years.

"We've just got a ton of experience, and it really shows," Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth said.

The Wildcats (24-4) advance to the region quarterfinals on Thursday and host Eustis, while Anclote (17-9) will make its playoff debut at Nature Coast.

As has been the case all season, Erik Thomas led the Wildcats with 25 points and seven rebounds. The senior, who earlier this season surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his high school career, was thrilled to be part of his first district championship team.

"It feels great," Thomas said. "This is the third year we've been in the championship and we pulled it off. We're part of history now."

So too are the Sharks, who had advanced to the second round of a district tournament on three previous occasions before winning a district semifinal on Friday, 53-30 over Hudson.

Carson Emery also had a productive game for Wesley Chapel, contributing 15 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to stave off a late run by Anclote.

The Sharks were led by the Carter brothers with Ty scoring 14 points and Shy adding 10.

Wrestling region roundup: Dunedin's Arrington continues undefeated march


By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 9, 2013

ST. CLOUD — Dunedin defending state champion Clarence Arrington continued his undefeated march toward another title Saturday at the Class 2A, Region 2 wrestling meet.

Arrington scored a 4-2 victory over Springstead's Andrew Smith in the 126-pound region final to improve to 35-0 this season. He was one of four Falcons wrestlers to qualify for the state meet next week in Lakeland.

Dunedin (86 points) placed fifth in the team standings.

Marc Allison (132), who had been rolling through the season, had to settle for getting through on a fourth-place finish Saturday. Alex Lebhar (138) won his consolation final in a 13-2 major decision over Auburndale's Devin Glenn to advance. Anthony Dampier (160) lost a 3-1 decision in his consolation final to Springstead's Billy Swift.

Meanwhile, Springstead, the back-to-back defending Class 2A state champion, captured its third consecutive region team title. The Eagles (196 points) topped runnerup Lake Gibson (187.5) and qualified nine for state.

Although Springstead fell short of last season's total of 12 wrestlers moving on to state, the Eagles crowned three individual region winners, including Mike McDonald (113 pounds), Stephen Pavao (120) and Jordan Rivera (138).

For Rivera, it was his second consecutive region title. The two-time state placer pinned over Harmony's Jeremy Beesley in 3 minutes, 11 seconds.

McDonald and Pavao needed more effort to capture their crowns. McDonald scored a 5-2 decision over St. Cloud's Joe McGinley in his final, while Pavao edged Lake Gibson's Sa'Derian Perry 6-4.

3A-2: Brandon rolls

KISSIMMEE — As expected, Brandon won the 3A-2 region team title, scoring 294 points, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.

Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top 10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.

"This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers and crowned six individual champions Saturday.

The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.

St. Petersburg's Thomas Moser came into the event with a recently healed broken nose. He broke it again and was bumped to the consolation bracket. Trainers spent several minutes on the bleeding and Moser got more scratches on his face from the mask. Despite it all, he rallied to win his consolation semifinal and then his third-place match 3-2.

"I was just determined, all the hard work I put in, I couldn't give up," Moser said.

A-3: Robinson tops Gulf

TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.

Pinellas County schools were led by sixth-place Indian Rocks Christian, which qualified four for state: Jarred Wolfenbarger (113), Jay Dugmore (126), Conner Allshouse (138) and Shackleton Steward (220).

Admiral Farragut's Noah Huntley won the 285-pound title, pinning Bradenton Southeast's Michael Quintero in 5:36.

And Northside Christian's Alex Kruklinski won at 195 pounds.

2A-3: Largo's Derrick Doss (182) scored a 12-5 decision to win a region title while teammate Danny Bergstrom (195) fell just short in 3-2 finals loss at the meet hosted by Charlotte. Dixie Hollins teammates Luis Aldana (170) and Andre Matthews (285) both won their consolation finals to advance to state. Dixie Hollins was fifth and Largo ninth behind team winner Fort Myers Riverdale.

Times correspondent Andy Warrener and David Rice contributed to this report.

Hurricanes win 11th straight


Times wires
Saturday, February 9, 2013

CORAL GABLES — Miami played so well Saturday, it earned a standing ovation from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

With the Heat stars watching from the front row, the No. 8 Hurricanes put on another show at home, tying a school record with 15 3-pointers and winning their 11th straight game, beating North Carolina 87-61.

Sophomore Shane Larkin had 18 points and a career-high nine assists for the ACC leaders, who built margins of 9-0 and 44-27 en route to another rout. They improved to 11-0 at home, where each of the past four wins have been by at least 22 points.

"It's crazy; I see how great of a team we can be," Miami guard Durand Scott said. "We're just rolling."

Such success is unprecedented for the Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0), who set a school record for ACC victories in a season with eight games to go. They are the last unbeaten team in league play among the major conferences.

North Carolina, which began the season 18-2 against the Hurricanes, lost to them for the second time in four weeks. Since the formation of the ACC in 1953, Miami is the first team to beat both Duke and UNC by at least 25 points in one season, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

"Everybody from North Carolina always thinks it's just about North Carolina," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "It's not. Miami is pretty dadgum good."

Word is spreading, and the attendance-challenged Hurricanes sold out a game for the third in the past four home games. James and Wade, accompanied by teammate James Jones, were on their feet several times to join the cheers.

Coach Jim Larranaga said he received a phone call early in the week requesting tickets for the Heat players.

"I told them, 'Sorry, it's sold out.' But then we said, 'We think we can fit you in.' For our recruiting purposes, it gives us a lot of credibility when we tell them we're a hot ticket in town and our program is headed in the right direction," he said.

Michigan stunned

MADISON, Wis. — When Ben Brust tied the score at the end of regulation with a shot from just inside midcourt, Mike Bruesewitz looked over at Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and saw something unusual.

His coach had both his arms in the air.

"You know when he shows some emotion, you've done something pretty special," Bruesewitz said.

Brust then hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with less than 40 seconds left in overtime as Wisconsin beat No. 3 Michigan 65-62.

"It was awesome, something I'll remember forever, and I'm sure a lot of people will," Brust said of the game, which ended with students storming the court and Bruesewitz taking the public address announcer's microphone to thank the crowd as students celebrated around him.

The Wolverines (21-3, 8-3 Big Ten) became the third top-three team to lose last week, after No. 1 Indiana and No. 2 Florida.

OKLA. 72, NO. 5 KANSAS 66: Romero Osby had 17 points for the host Sooners, who sent the Jayhawks (19-4, 7-3) to their first three-game skid in eight years.

NO. 6 GONZAGA 74, LMU 55: Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk had 20 points each for the host Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0 West Coast).

NO. 12 MICH. ST. 78, PURDUE 65: Branden Dawson had 20 points for the visiting Spartans (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten), who have won nine of their past 10 games.

NO. 13 KANSAS ST. 79, IOWA ST. 70: Rodney McGruder had 22 points for the host Wildcats (19-4, 8-2 Big 12), now alone in first place in the conference.

NO. 14 BUTLER 59, GW 56: Rotnei Clark had 14 points for the Bulldogs (20-4, 7-2 Atlantic 10), who nearly blew a 17-point lead by going the last 7½ minutes without a field goal before snapping a two-game road skid.

UNLV 64, NO. 15 NEW MEXICO 55: Anthony Bennett had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the host Runnin' Rebels to a much-needed win over the Lobos (20-4, 7-2 MWC) after two straight losses.

NO. 23 PITT 62, NO. 17 UC 52: Tray Woodall had 14 points for the visiting Panthers (20-5, 8-4 Big East), whose conference-best defense held the Bearcats (18-6, 6-5) without a field goal over the final 9:21 en route to their seventh win in eight games.

NO. 19 OREGON 73, UTAH 64: E.J. Singler had 21 points for the host Ducks (19-5, 8-3 Pac-12), who overcame a poor start to end their three-game losing streak.

NO. 20 G'TOWN 69, RUTGERS 63: Markel Starks had 20 points and Otto Porter had 15 of his 19 in the second half for the visiting Hoyas (17-4, 7-3 Big East), who have won five straight and seven of eight.

NO. 21 MIssouri 98, OLE MISS 79: Alex Oriakhi had a career-high 22 points to go with 18 rebounds and three blocks for the host Tigers (17-6, 6-4 SEC).

NO. 22 OKLA. ST. 72, TEXAS 59: Marcus Smart had 23 points for the visiting Cowboys (17-5, 7-3 Big 12), who sputtered offensively for long stretches but used their tough defense to clamp down.

NO. 24 MARQUETTE 89, DEPAUL 78: Vander Blue had 18 points for the host Golden Eagles (17-5, 8-2 Big East), who moved one-half game ahead of Syracuse for first place in the conference.


UCF 83, ECU 73: Isaiah Sykes had 20 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and 11 assists for his second triple double this season for the host Knights (17-6, 7-2 C-USA).

UNCC 51, FAMU 43: Jeremy Ingram had 18 points and seven rebounds as the host Eagles handed the Rattlers (6-17, 3-6 MEAC) their third straight loss.

N.C. A&T 65, B-CU 55: Lamont Middleton had 17 points for the host Aggies, who shot 64.7 percent in the second half to pull away from Bethune-Cookman (9-15, 4-5 MEAC).

FLA. TECH 70, ECKERD 69: The visiting Panthers rallied from a 50-34 second-half deficit, going ahead on Chris Carter's three-point play to shock the Tritons (13-6, 6-5 Sunshine State).

LYNN 71, TAMPA 61: Kaleb Clyburn had 22 points for the visiting Knights, who held off a rally by the Spartans (16-7, 3-7 SSC) to sweep the season series.

SAINT LEO 65, BARRY 52: Trent Thomas had 19 points for the host Lions (17-4, 9-2 SSC), who clinched the first back-to-back winning conference seasons in program history.

Denver's win streak hits eight-year high


Times wires
Saturday, February 9, 2013

CLEVELAND — Danilo Gallinari had 19 points, Kenneth Faried added 17 and the Nuggets won their ninth straight game Saturday night, 111-103 over the Cavaliers.

The Nuggets, who have won 15 of 17, are on their longest winning streak since posting 10 straight from March 30-April 15, 2005.

Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 26 points but had foul trouble. The All-Star guard picked up his fourth foul with 5:20 left in the third quarter and went to the bench with the Nuggets up 72-61. Irving returned to start the fourth with Denver ahead 84-73. He scored 12 points in the quarter, but Cleveland's rally fell short.

The loss ended Cleveland's three-game winning streak that matched a season high.

Game highlights: Jrue Holiday had 20 points, leading five Philadelphia players in double figures, as the host 76ers defeated the Bobcats 87-76. … Shawn Marion had 26 points and 11 rebounds as the host Mavericks beat the Warriors 116-91.

Working around snow: After staying overnight in Minnesota because of the massive snow that hit the New York-to-Boston corridor, the Knicks arrived home safely on Saturday afternoon ahead of today's game against the Clippers. The Clippers stayed in Miami overnight after their game Friday night and landed in New York late Saturday afternoon.

Around the league: The Hawks said they are optimistic guard Lou Williams will be ready for training camp after reconstructive surgery on his right knee. The surgery was performed Thursday in Gulf Breeze by Dr. James Andrews.

Howard's dad jumps into Lakers story

First the Lakers' Dwight Howard responded to teammate Kobe Bryant's insistence that the center play hurt. Now Howard is trying to not comment on his dad's comments.

Dwight Howard Sr. told the Atlanta Journal Constitution he believes coach Mike D'Antoni should have stepped in and curtailed Bryant's public criticism of his son.

"I promise, if that had been (former Magic coach) Stan Van Gundy, that wouldn't have happened," the elder Howard said. "I think the coach has a lot to do with who controls Kobe's mouth right now."

The elder Howard said his son needed to sit down with Bryant to hash out their differences. Bryant's response? Enough already.

"Honestly, I'm done talking about it. … It's silly," he said.

Howard, in his first season since coming over from the Magic, said, "My dad is a grown man. If that's how he feels, then we'll leave it at that. I'm not going to get into it."

Nuggets 111, Cavaliers 103

DENVER (111): Gallinari 6-13 4-5 19, Faried 7-12 3-6 17, Koufos 5-8 0-0 10, Lawson 3-11 4-4 11, Iguodala 6-9 0-0 14, Chandler 2-6 3-4 7, McGee 6-7 1-2 13, A.Miller 3-8 4-5 10, Brewer 2-6 6-8 10. Totals 40-80 25-34 111.

CLEVELAND (103): Gee 8-8 1-2 20, Thompson 4-10 3-4 11, Zeller 1-3 5-6 7, Irving 10-24 4-4 26, Waiters 1-6 1-2 3, Speights 1-10 3-4 5, Livingston 5-8 1-2 11, Walton 0-2 0-0 0, Ellington 4-6 2-2 13, Miles 3-7 0-0 7. Totals 37-84 20-26 103.

Denver 30 28 26 27— 111

Cleveland 32 20 21 30— 103

3-PointersDenver 6-17 (Gallinari 3-6, Iguodala 2-3, Lawson 1-2, A.Miller 0-1, Chandler 0-2, Brewer 0-3), Cleveland 9-20 (Gee 3-3, Ellington 3-4, Irving 2-5, Miles 1-5, Walton 0-1, Thompson 0-1, Speights 0-1). ReboundsDenver 55 (Gallinari, Koufos 9), Cleveland 47 (Irving, Zeller 6). AssistsDenver 23 (Iguodala 7), Cleveland 24 (Irving 7). Total FoulsDenver 21, Cleveland 23. TechnicalsZeller. A20,562 (20,562).

76ers 87, Bobcats 76

CHARLOTTE (76): Kidd-Gilchrist 1-6 0-0 2, Mullens 7-19 2-3 16, Biyombo 0-2 0-0 0, Walker 2-9 2-2 6, Henderson 4-12 5-6 13, Haywood 3-7 3-4 9, Sessions 6-16 7-7 20, Adrien 1-4 0-0 2, Gordon 3-10 1-1 8, Taylor 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 27-88 20-23 76.

PHILADELPHIA (87): Turner 7-17 2-2 16, Allen 7-16 0-0 14, Hawes 8-15 0-0 17, Holiday 10-23 0-0 20, N.Young 2-8 1-2 5, Pargo 4-9 3-3 12, Moultrie 1-3 1-3 3, Wright 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 39-93 7-10 87.

Charlotte 17 20 17 22— 76

Philadelphia 23 15 25 24— 87

3-PointersCharlotte 2-16 (Sessions 1-2, Gordon 1-4, Henderson 0-2, Walker 0-2, Taylor 0-2, Mullens 0-4), Philadelphia 2-16 (Pargo 1-2, Hawes 1-3, Turner 0-1, Wright 0-2, Holiday 0-3, N.Young 0-5). ReboundsCharlotte 54 (Haywood, Biyombo 7), Philadelphia 67 (Allen 22). AssistsCharlotte 20 (Walker, Sessions 4), Philadelphia 24 (Holiday 7). Total FoulsCharlotte 17, Philadelphia 19. TechnicalsPargo. A15,048 (20,328).

Pistons 105, Bucks 100

DETROIT (105): Singler 5-11 1-2 11, Maxiell 2-4 0-0 4, Monroe 6-12 2-3 14, Calderon 10-13 0-0 23, Knight 2-13 0-0 4, Stuckey 5-9 8-8 19, Villanueva 7-13 0-0 18, Bynum 4-8 4-4 12, Kravtsov 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 41-83 15-19 105.

MILWAUKEE (100): Mbah a Moute 5-9 1-2 11, Ilyasova 5-8 3-3 15, Dalembert 5-10 4-4 14, Jennings 8-27 6-6 26, Ellis 3-9 2-2 8, Udrih 1-7 0-0 2, Dunleavy 3-7 3-3 10, Udoh 1-4 5-6 7, Henson 3-5 1-2 7. Totals 34-86 25-28 100.

Detroit 33 24 24 24— 105

Milwaukee 22 34 26 18— 100

3-PointersDetroit 8-17 (Villanueva 4-7, Calderon 3-4, Stuckey 1-2, Singler 0-1, Knight 0-3), Milwaukee 7-17 (Jennings 4-10, Ilyasova 2-3, Dunleavy 1-3, Udrih 0-1). ReboundsDetroit 53 (Monroe, Villanueva 13), Milwaukee 48 (Dalembert 12). AssistsDetroit 25 (Calderon 10), Milwaukee 19 (Jennings 7). Total FoulsDetroit 20, Milwaukee 14. A15,511 (18,717).

Mavericks 116, Warriors 91

GOLDEN STATE (91): Barnes 4-10 2-2 12, Lee 4-9 2-2 10, Biedrins 0-0 0-0 0, Curry 8-23 1-1 18, Thompson 4-14 0-0 11, Landry 4-6 5-7 13, Bazemore 3-11 1-4 7, Jefferson 1-1 3-4 5, Green 3-8 2-2 8, Ezeli 2-3 0-0 4, Jenkins 0-2 0-0 0, Tyler 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 34-89 17-24 91.

DALLAS (116): Marion 11-16 2-2 26, Nowitzki 3-12 8-11 15, B.James 1-2 0-3 2, Collison 5-9 5-5 18, Mayo 6-13 5-5 19, Brand 5-9 1-2 11, Carter 1-4 4-6 7, Crowder 2-5 0-0 6, Beaubois 2-3 0-0 4, Da.Jones 1-2 4-4 6, M.James 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 1-1 0-0 2, Do.Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-77 29-38 116.

Golden State 16 20 30 25— 91

Dallas 30 32 23 31— 116

3-PointersGolden State 6-16 (Thompson 3-7, Barnes 2-3, Curry 1-3, Bazemore 0-3), Dallas 11-20 (Collison 3-4, Marion 2-3, Crowder 2-3, Mayo 2-4, Nowitzki 1-2, Carter 1-3, Beaubois 0-1). ReboundsGolden State 61 (Green 9), Dallas 49 (Marion, Brand 11). AssistsGolden State 12 (Curry 4), Dallas 25 (Mayo 9). Total FoulsGolden State 26, Dallas 23. A20,355 (19,200).

Boys basketball: St. Petersburg Catholic tops Shorecrest for Class 3A, District 9 title


By Anthony Salveggi, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 9, 2013

LARGO — In last year's district final between St. Petersburg Catholic and Shorecrest, the Chargers' abundance of 3-point baskets was the difference.

On Saturday night, however, the Barons stifled Shorecrest's top offensive weapon and took control of a close game to defeat Shorecrest 58-48 for the Class 3A, District 9 championship.

Ryan Green scored the first basket of the second half to give the Barons a lead they would not relinquish. Green's basket was part of a 12-2 run to open the half.

The Barons started the fourth period strong as well, opening with a 7-0 run that pushed them to a 12-point advantage.

Shorecrest eventually cut the lead to seven, but a layup and foul shot by Pat Artise put SPC in front 52-42 with less than two minutes remaining.

Shorecrest tried to get back in the game by shooting 3-pointers. However, the clock worked against the Chargers as their players passed the ball around the perimeter for an open look, where few could be found.

After hitting 14 3-pointers in the semifinal, Shorecrest cooled off Saturday, making just six.

"I thought in the second half we did a great job of getting to their shooters," SPC coach Mike Moran said. "We started cheating on the corners."

Moran also noted how happy he was to get the win for his graduating seniors, including Green and Kevin O'Donnell.

Green led all scorers with 21 points.

Wrestling roundup: Brandon, Robinson score region team victories


By Andy Warrener, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 9, 2013

KISSIMMEE — As expected, wrestling powerhouse Brandon won the Class 3A, Region 2 team title, scoring 294 points Saturday, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.

Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top-10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.

"This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers for next week's state meet in Lakeland and crowned six individual champions Saturday.

Capping the meet was a heavyweight rematch between Brandon's Darren Lester and Plant City's Lance Dounges. Lester pulled an upset last week at district after being down 5-1. In the region final at 285 pounds, Lester got the third-period pin again.

"This time, when he threw me into a lateral, I knew how to counter it," Lester said.

The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.

Brandon senior Kyle Norstrem scored major decisions against each of his region opponents, including a 17-2 final against junior Tucker Hardwick of Palm Harbor U.

"This sport is all about controlling your opponent," he said. "When an opponent gets that look in their eyes, like they don't want to be on the mat anymore, you know you've got him."

A-3: Robinson tops Gulf

TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the A-3 meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.

Robinson's Kionte Crocker (138 pounds) and Luis Pegero (170) won their weight class finals, though coach Tommy Montero was hoping for more.

"Those young guys now have the confidence to perform at a high level having come here to wrestle," Montero said. "Their future is exciting, and it shows them how difficult it is to wrestle on a day like today. You have to be tough both mentally and physically."

Heavyweight champion Noah Huntley of Admiral Farragut battled through exhaustion in his final. Tied 2-2 with less than a minute remaining in the final round, the sophomore scored a thrilling pin over senior Michael Quintero of Bradenton Southeast.

"I just kept thinking that I didn't put in all this work and training to lose that match," Huntley said. "When he tried to throw me I just rolled his head and arm the way my coaches taught me."

Gulf's lone champion was Spencer Baxter (160), but the Bucs will send five to state.

"We could have eight go and I would have been upset it wasn't 10," Gulf coach Travis DeWalt said. "There is room for improvement, but we have a good chance of coming home with some winners at state so I'm happy."

Tampa Bay area schools rounded out much of the top 10. Wesley Chapel and Indian Rocks Christian finished fifth and sixth, respectively, each with four heading to state. Wesley Chapel had region champs in Tony Ruggio (120) and Jon Galvin (126).

Tampa Bay Christian (eighth) boasts two champions (Cullen Telfer, 106 and Anthony Artalona, 113). Host Berkeley Prep (ninth) will send two to state, including 152-pound champ Eric Massey.

2A-3: Jesuit crowned two region champions and qualified four for state in finishing second to Fort Myers Riverdale (142.5 to 127.5) at the meet hosted by Charlotte.

Adam Lewis (126 pounds) and Max Gallagly (170) scored championship finals victories while Anthony Zucco (106 pounds) settled for second. Austin Underwood (220) claimed third.

Armwood's Donoven Hough (113) scored a 14-4 major decision to win his class. King's Jacob Wasserman and Joseph Affronti III will go to Lakeland as well.

Times correspondent David Rice contributed to this report.

Boys basketball: Tampa Prep routs Seffner Christian for Class 3A, District 8 title


By Michael Hinman, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 9, 2013

SEFFNER — Tampa Prep's Adonis Rwabigwi scored 21 to lead the Terrapins to their eighth consecutive district title, 63-33 over host Seffner Christian in the Class 3A, District 8 final Saturday.

Tampa Prep jumped ahead early on a scrappy Crusaders team that made it to the finals by getting past Brooks-DeBartolo, and then it coasted to its 25th win. The Terrapins advance to a region quarterfinal against Lakeland Christian, which has lost only two games this year as well.

While coach Joe Fenlon says his Terrapins love to play together, a lot of credit has to go to the 6-foot-8 Rwanda native Rwabigwi, who is heading to Furman next year.

"Adonis had a good game, and he needed that good game," Fenlon said. "He's been getting a lot of looks in the lane and usually gets banged a lot. He was really playing aggressive tonight and went to the rim hard. And when Adonis is going to the rim hard with the size he is, people tend to get out of his way."

The Crusaders held the ball for more than a minute before even attempting the game's first basket. But that put the Terps into a defensive stance, disrupting passes and blocking shots.

"It's hard to get high school kids to play with defensive intensity every game, and we set a precedent with our kids," Fenlon said. "One of our goals every game is to keep our opponents under 60 points, and the kids pride themselves on that. When they look at the scoreboard, they keep working."

Juwan Durham had 14 points for the Terrapins while Josh Heath added eight.

Barrett Swartz had 14 points while Kent Hegarty chipped in 11 for Seffner Christian (14-13).

Who owns season tickets?


Times staff
Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Tampa Bay Times last week asked around to businesses, politicians and others to gain a sense of who holds season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays. Here are the results.


City-owned tickets from Tropicana Field contract: 16 suite tickets, 10 field seats.

Mayor Bill Foster: Partial season package of two tickets, section 316.

Council members Bill Dudley, Wengay Newton, Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner: None.

Council member Charlie Gerdes: His law firm has a weekend package. Also in group that shares four tickets behind home plate.

Council member Jim Kennedy: Four tickets in section 108.

Council member Karl Nurse: Two weekend tickets for his business on the lower level, first base side.

Council member Steve Kornell: "I'm not going to comment on my leisure activities."

Rick Mussett, senior administrator for development, and city Administrator Tish Elston: Part of group with four tickets in lower bowl.

St. Petersburg City Attorney John Wolfe: None.

Former Mayor Rick Baker: Did not respond.

Pinellas County officials

No county commissioners have season tickets.

Clearwater officials

Mayor George Cretekos: None.

Former Mayor Frank Hibbard: None.

Hillsborough officials

County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan: None.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: None.

Tampa Bay legislators

State Sen. Jack Latvala: In group that shares four tickets in lower bowl on third base side.

These legislators do not have tickets: Rep. Richard Corcoran, Rep. Janet Cruz, Rep. Dwight Dudley, Rep. Mike Fasano, Sen. Bill Galvano, Rep. Ed Hooper, Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Sen. John Legg, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Kathleen Peters, Rep. Jake Raburn, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, Rep. Darryl Rouson, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, Sen. Wilton Simpson, Rep. Jimmie Smith, U.S. Rep. Bill Young, Rep. Carl Zimmerman.

All other Tampa Bay legislators could not be reached.

ABC Coalition

(Studied stadium issue four years ago and angered St. Pete officials by raising possibility of Hillsborough sites.)

Craig Sher, former CEO of Sembler company: Two tickets, lower bowl.

Alan Bomstein, president of Clearwater's Creative Contractors: Two personal tickets, two corporate tickets and two others as part of a group, all in Section 111.

Chuck Sykes, president of Tampa's Sykes Enterprises, chairman of the Tampa Bay Partnership and co-chair of chamber task force on stadium financing: Four corporate tickets in home plate club.

Russ Kimball, general manager of Clearwater's Sheraton Sand Key Resort: None.

Barbara Heck, former president of St. Petersburg's Council of Neighborhood Associations: None.

Charlie Harris, coalition attorney and managing partner for St. Petersburg's Trenam Kemker law firm: Four corporate tickets in lower bowl.

Business groups

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce: None. President Bob Rohrlack: None. Chairman Gregory Celestan, of Celestar Corporation: Did not respond.

St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce: Receives numerous tickets from the Rays for free for recruiting businesses to town. President Chris Steinocher: None. Attorney Dave Punzak, chamber chairman: In group that holds four tickets in section 115.

Tampa Bay Partnership: None. President Stuart Rogel: None.


Tampa's Debartolo Development: No suite for Rays but has them for Lightning and Bucs.

St. Petersburg developer Echelon, which proposed a stadium in Carillon Business Park: Four corporate tickets in section 110.

Jabil: Four field-level seats.

Duke Energy: Did not respond.

Tampa Electric: None.

Clearwater's Tech Data: 12-16 corporate seats on third base side.

Bloomin' Brands: CEO Liz Smith, four personal tickets.

Fifth Third Bank (Tampa Bay): Season tickets, wouldn't say how many.

Cornerstone Community Bank: Four tickets.

Bank of Tampa, which recently branched into St. Petersburg: None.

Bank of America: Suite.


Bayfront Medical Center: None.

Tampa General: None.


(These packages are part of broader agreements for joint marketing and services.)

Times Publishing Co.: A suite with 16 tickets and four seats in the Whitney Bank Club.

St. Anthony's Hospital: Eight full season tickets, plus hundreds of individual tickets for special promotions. Uses Trop for corporate events.

Kane's Furniture: 12 tickets spread throughout the stadium.


Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg's sports bar: Four season tickets in Section 301. Also buys 50 tickets to four other games for marketing.

Ed Armstrong, Clearwater lawyer who advises the Rays: His law firm, Johnson, Pope, Ruppel & Burns, has four tickets in Section 112.

Robert Byelick, chairman of the Clutch Hitters, a St. Petersburg group that promotes baseball: Shares four tickets in section 111 with two law partners at Abbey Adams Byelick & Mueller,

Bill Edwards, former owner of St. Petersburg mortgage company who is involved in many St. Petersburg civic ventures: Did not respond.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist was out of the country and could not be reached.

Captain's Corner: Tracking February patterns


By Tim Whitfield, Times Correspondent
Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tips: February is a tough month; the fish seem to move in and out from winter to spring patterns. The trick is to catch them as they transition back and forth and try to fish the days preceding the fronts. Days with southerly winds and overcast skies are the best.

Targets: Redfish, trout and sheepshead are easy targets during peak tidal movement the day before a front. Offerings varying from live shrimp to soft plastics are sure-fire baits. After the front passes the blue skies and UV rays are intense for anglers and fish. My choice under these conditions is usually redfish. They tend to be the least affected by high pressure. Deep water reds seem to be the most willing targets. Live bait reigns supreme on these days.

Tim Whitfield can be reached at tim@swiftfishcharters.com or (813) 714-0889.

Snedeker gets record Pebble Beach win


Times wires
Sunday, February 10, 2013

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker didn't have to take a back seat to anyone at Pebble Beach.

A runnerup to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson each of the last two weeks, Snedeker finished off a record performance Sunday with 7-under 65 for a two-shot victory over Chris Kirk in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Snedeker holed a 10-foot birdie on the 17th hole and then tapped in for par to finish at 19-under 267. That broke the tournament record held by Mickelson (2007) and Mark O'Meara (1997), who each had 20-under 268 when Poppy Hills was in the rotation.

The hottest player in golf, Snedeker finally has a trophy to show for it.

"Feels great to finish one," he said. "The last two weeks, playing great but running into two Hall of Famers, really motivated me to go out and prove that I can handle the lead."

In five starts this year, he had a win, two second-place finishes and a third. He never had much of a chance against Woods at Torrey Pines or Mickelson at the Phoenix Open, who each had big leads going into the final round.

Snedeker was tied with James Hahn, a 31-year-old rookie, and seized control with an eagle and three birdies on the opening seven holes. Snedeker responded to his only bogey, at No. 9, with birdie putts on the next two holes.

Snedeker goes to No. 4 in the world, the highest ranking of his career and second to Woods among Americans.

"Kind of crazy to think what's happened," he said.

Hahn shot 2-under 70 and tied for third with Jimmy Walker (66) and Kevin Stadler (65).

The only disappointment for Snedeker was having to settle for par on the final hole and watching his amateur, Toby Wilt, graze the edge of the cup with his final putt. That means he had to share first in the pro-am with Michael Letzig and John Erickson.

Mickelson, the defending champion, hit two more balls in the ocean on the 18th hole. He closed with 72 and tied for 60th.

Tampa resident Ryuji Imada shot a final-round 71 to finish at 4-under 282, tied for 40th.

Champions: Rocco Mediate birdied the 18th hole and finished with a 1-under 71 to win the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton. He finished at 17-under 199 and became the 16th player to have a winning debut on the Champions Tour. Mediate's 4-foot birdie came after Tom Pernice Jr. (70) missed a 5-footer at No. 18 that could have forced a playoff. "I'm ecstatic," Mediate said. "This means as much to me as anything I've done."

Rays' Chirinos back from concussion


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — Robinson Chirinos was never so happy to get smacked in the mask by a baseball.

The haunting symptoms from the concussion he sustained six months earlier finally gone, the medical people finally relaxing the restrictions and special handling and clearing him for game action, all that was left was for Chirinos to actually get back behind the plate.

He had run and thrown and swung the bat, he had caught pitchers in the bullpen, he had blocked balls in the dirt. But it wouldn't be until he got hit by a foul tip — which is what caused this whole horrible ordeal that March afternoon — that he'd know for sure.

"I was a little scared," he admitted.

In his second game with the Rays' instructional league team in September, he took one in the mask. All good. Then again the next day. No problem. He went back to his native Venezuela for a couple months of winter ball, and it was just like normal.

"I was like, 'All right, when I get hit, let's see what happens,' " Chirinos said. "The best part was it was nothing. I got hit a lot of times. And I felt good."

• • •

When the Rays open spring training this week in Port Charlotte, Chirinos, 28, may be the happiest of the 60-plus players to be there, eager, to put it mildly, to resume his once-promising career after essentially losing an entire year.

"I'm ready to go," he said. "Everything is fine. I'm back to where I was before."

Acquired from the Cubs in the January 2011 Matt Garza trade, Chirinos played a month for the Rays that summer, the high point an Aug. 4 celebration when he had a tying single in the 11th and a walkoff hit in the 12th.

He came to spring training last year with a shot, albeit long, for the backup catcher's job, but that all changed on March 11.

There were two outs in the ninth inning of a game against the Pirates when the Josh Lueke fastball grazed a bat and slammed into Chirinos' mask. He shrugged it off like catchers do, told assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker he was fine and finished the inning.

"We get hit all the time," Chirinos said. "You get hit, you get dizzy for a little bit and you come back. And it was the same."

Chirinos went back to the dugout as the Rays rallied in the bottom of the ninth, but something suddenly felt very wrong.

"I felt okay at first, but five minutes later it was getting worse and worse," he said. "By the time I got to the clubhouse I was throwing up."

Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield administered the MLB-mandated concussion tests, but the evidence was obvious. He called for an ambulance and Chirinos, still in uniform, left the clubhouse strapped to a board on his way to a hospital.

• • •

The first couple of months were terrible.

Chirinos would spend most of his days in the sheltered environment of a Port Charlotte apartment, but he couldn't tolerate much beyond simple — and somewhat halting — conversation without getting dizzy or nauseated. He couldn't drive. He didn't eat much.

His wife, Haidy, and then-4-year-old son David came from Venezuela, but there was only so much they could do for him.

Stimulus was one problem, concentration another.

"I would sit on the couch and talk to my wife," he said. "It was hard. I would read like three lines and I was getting dizzy. TV was good for a few minutes and then I would turn it down. Same with the computer. Even my phone — sometimes my family would text me a lot but I was calling them back because I couldn't read too much."

The Rays had him come to the complex for evaluation and light exercise during down time, when the other players weren't there or out on the field, so they could keep the training room quiet and the lights down.

The nights weren't much better. Chirinos couldn't sleep for more than two-three hours, depriving his brain of the much-needed rest to heal. It wasn't clear to the medical staff whether that was symptomatic of the concussion or the anxiety racing through him as he wondered about his health and career.

"It was hard knowing I was going to go to bed and know the next day I would be feeling bad again," Chirinos said.

Eventually they found the right medicine to get him to sleep. Visits to the sports concussion center at the University of Pittsburgh went well, specialist Dr. Michael Collins quelling Chirinos' frustration at the lack of progress and convincing him he would get better. Vision therapy helped. So did a call from Baltimore's Brian Roberts, who had gone through similar issues.

The fog, which lasted longer than usual, finally began to lift. By mid August, Rays minor-league medical coordinator Joe Benge started to slowly incorporate baseball activities into their sessions. A month later, Chirinos was ready to get back behind the plate.

• • •

As horrible as the experience has been, Chirinos found some good, spending extensive time reading the Bible and immersing himself in faith, remaining remarkably positive.

When fans and teammates asked during January's Venezuelan league how he was, Chirinos said it was no longer a question. "I was like, 'I really appreciate you guys worrying about me, but I feel like that was 2012, that is in the past,' " he said. "And I thank God it's over with."

The Rays are eager to welcome him back. "He's full go," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "He got behind the plate a number of times this winter and felt good. We're excited to watch him play in camp and get him back on track to getting up here and helping us win games."

That couldn't sound better to Chirinos.

"I tell my family that I feel like God brought me here to the Rays for a big purpose," he said. "I know I belong here and I'm going to be here and I'm going to help the team win games and hopefully win that World Series that everybody wants.

"I have a good feeling that it's going to be a great year."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Irish still standing after marathon


Times wires
Sunday, February 10, 2013

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame watched a video of great boxing knockouts knowing their game against Louisville would probably be bruising.

It turned out to be the longest game in Big East regular-season history.

"I talked about it being a 15-rounder and taking punches and being put on the mat," coach Mike Brey said. "At the fourth or fifth timeout, I said, 'Has there ever been a 20-rounder?' "

If so, it couldn't have been any more thrilling than the No. 25 Fighting Irish's five-overtime victory over the No. 11 Cardinals late Saturday, a 104-101 decision in which the teams traded great plays and missed shots.

Afterward, even Louisville coach Rick Pitino forgot how long the game was, referring to it as a four-overtime game.

The previous conference regular-season record was a four-overtime game that happened 11 years ago to the day and also involved Notre Dame. The Irish beat Georgetown 116-111 in four OTs on Feb. 9, 2002.

Jack Cooley, who fouled out in regulation, said the Irish players scoffed at Brey when he talked about a 15-round boxing match.

"We're like, 15-round matches, that doesn't happen. And then we played five overtimes. So that's how it went," he said.

There was no knockout punch Saturday night, just some body blows.

Eric Atkins scored on a layup with 1:19 left in the fifth overtime, and Atkins and Pat Connaugton added free throws in the final 19 seconds as the Fighting Irish overcame an eight-point deficit in regulation.

Louisville's Russ Smith had a chance to tie it at the end of the fifth overtime, but his 3-point attempt missed before Notre Dame students flooded the court to celebrate. The Irish (19-5, 7-6 Big East) and Cardinals (19-5, 7-4) played into overtime for the sixth time in the past eight meetings.

"It's always overtime," said Chane Behanan, who led the Cardinals with a career-high 30 points and 15 rebounds. "The strongest will survive. They were a great team (Saturday) and made a lot of big shots."

Pitino, who didn't take questions after the game, credited the Irish. "They made some just incredible shots," he said. "I can't fault our defense. We were on them."

USF women rout Providence


Times wires
Sunday, February 10, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Inga Orekhova had 21 points and Alisia Jenkins 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead USF to an 82-54 rout of Providence on Sunday afternoon in a game that had been delayed a day because of a winter storm.

The Bulls (16-6, 5-4 Big East) showed few ill effects from the delay, blowing the game open with a 30-8 second-half run and shooting 61 percent after halftime.

"I told them, 'You're a very good basketball team. The layoff doesn't matter,' " coach Jose Fernandez said.

Courtney Williams scored all of her 15 in the second half, and Akila McDonald had a career-high 11 rebounds to help USF to its fourth win in five games.

Fernandez said the Bulls did a bit of "sleep walking" while taking a 28-23 halftime lead. "The second half was a different story," he said.

Symone Roberts had 13 points for the Friars (7-16, 2-8).

NO. 19 FSU 93, MIAMI 78: Leonor Rodriguez led six players in double figures with 21 points as the visiting Seminoles (19-4, 9-3 ACC) swept the season series. The Hurricanes (16-7, 7-6) had a two-game winning streak snapped.

UF 65, AUBURN 57: Christin Mercer had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Gators (15-9, 4-6 SEC), who beat the Tigers (13-11, 2-9) on the road for the first time since Feb. 29, 2004.

Top 25

NO. 3 UCONN 91, DEPAUL 44: Stefanie Dolson had 23 points to lead the host Huskies (22-1, 9-1 Big East) over the late-arriving Blue Demons, who ran into blizzard-related travel delays and reached the arena 75 minutes before the opening tip.

NO. 4 STANFORD 69, ARIZ. ST. 45: Chiney Ogwumike had 26 points and 14 rebounds for the host Cardinal (22-2, 11-1 Pac-12), which won its eighth straight.

NO. 6 CAL 91, ARIZONA 86: Talia Caldwell had a career-high 20 points and added 12 rebounds for the host Golden Bears (21-2, 11-1 Pac-12), who won their ninth straight game.

NO. 8 PENN ST. 71, MICH. ST. 56: Alex Bentley had 24 points and Maggie Lucas 19 for the Lions (20-3, 10-1 Big Ten), who won their 18th straight home game and built a two-game conference lead.

LSU 62, NO. 9 GEORGIA 54: Theresa Plaisance had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the host Tigers, who snapped a two-game skid with an upset of the Bulldogs (20-4, 8-3 SEC).

NO. 10 KENTUCKY 75, VANDY 53: A'dia Mathies scored a season-high 28 to lead the Wildcats (21-3, 9-2 SEC) to their second straight road victory.

NO. 12 TENN. 97, OLE MISS 68: Meighan Simmons had 24 points to lead five players in double figures for the host Vols (19-5, 10-1 SEC), who beat the Rebels for the 24th straight time.

MICHIGAN 67, NO. 13 PURDUE 56: Kate Thompson had 22 points and hit six 3-pointers to give her a school-record 91 this season as the Wolverines handed the Boilermakers (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten) their first home defeat.

NO. 14 TEXAS A&M 50, NO. 15 S.C. 48: Kelsey Bone had 15 points, including the winning basket with 8.7 seconds left, in her return to South Carolina with the Aggies (19-5, 9-1 SEC). Bone transferred from the Gamecocks (20-4, 8-3) after her freshman season.

NO. 16 UNC 60, GA. TECH 58: Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 14 points and hit two crucial late baskets after the visiting Tar Heels (22-3, 10-2 ACC) had blown a nine-point second-half lead.

NO. 17 UCLA 80, WASH. ST. 65: Jasmine Dixon, Alyssia Brewer and Mariah Williams scored 14 each for the visiting Bruins (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12), who shot 85 percent (17-of-20) in the second half of their sixth straight win.

NO. 18 DAYTON 68, FORDHAM 57: Amber Deane had 14 points for the visiting Flyers (21-1, 9-0 Atlantic 10), who are off to the best start in school history.

NO. 20 DELAWARE 71, JMU 64: Elena Delle Donne had 20 points to become the Colonial Athletic Association's all-time leader with 2,677, and the visiting Blue Hens (20-3, 11-0) won their 15th straight game.

NO. 21 COLORADO 84, OREGON 59: Chucky Jeffery had 15 points and 15 rebounds to lead the host Buffaloes (18-5, 7-5 Pac-12), who have one more conference win than all last season.

NO. 23 OKLAHOMA 80, NO. 22 OKLA. ST. 61: Nicole Griffin had 21 points for the host Sooners (18-5, 8-3 Big 12), who shot 53 percent in the second half to turn the Bedlam rivalry game against the Cowgirls (16-6, 5-6) into a runaway.

Indiana gets back on track


Times wires
Sunday, February 10, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a stunning loss, the Hoosiers were on a mission to reaffirm just how good they were.

There was little questioning their ability Sunday.

Victor Oladipo had a career-high 26 points, Cody Zeller added 24 and Christian Watford had 20 to lead No. 1 Indiana back from a demoralizing loss to a big road win, 81-68 over No. 10 Ohio State.

"It was putting teams away, playing to win and not just playing for the time to run out," Zeller said of the lessons learned from an upset loss at Illinois on Thursday. "So, we made that adjustment pretty well."

The Hoosiers (21-3, 9-3 Big Ten) dominated the second half while making some history.

"We knew we let one get away from us," Watford said. "At that point you just have to move on to the next one."

On Thursday, the Illini closed the game with a 13-2 run. Indiana turned the ball over late, then allowed an uncontested layup at the buzzer of a 74-72 loss.

Less than three days later, the Hoosiers rebounded with a milestone win in hostile territory.

The victory was Indiana's first against a top-10 conference opponent on the road since 1993 at Iowa, and its first road win against any team in the top 10 since beating Notre Dame in 2000.

"From the very beginning after we lost, the biggest thing for our team was we were not going to spend a lot of our time worrying about bouncing back," coach Tom Crean said. "I'm proud of the way these guys responded from a very tough loss."

The Hoosiers shot 53 percent, the highest against Ohio State (17-6, 7-4) this season.

"Unfortunately we didn't guard them at the level we needed to," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said.

NO. 4 DUKE 62, BC 61: Mason Plumlee had 19 points and 10 rebounds and hit the winning free throw with 26 seconds left to help the visiting Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2 ACC) rally from early and late deficits. The Eagles led by five with 2:15 left and had a chance to win after Plumlee hit his free throw, but Olivier Hanlan's short jumper was wide and the rebound popped out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.

CAL 77, NO. 7 ARIZONA 69: Allen Crabbe scored 19 of his 31 in the second half, Justin Cobbs hit a big shot in the closing seconds and the visiting Bears held their composure down the stretch to knock off the Wildcats (20-3, 8-3 Pac-12).

NO. 9 SYRACUSE 77, ST. JOHN'S 58: James Southerland, who had missed six games because of questions about his academic eligibility, had 13 points to help the Orange (20-3, 8-2 Big East) win for the 37th straight time at the Carrier Dome.

ILLINOIS 57, NO. 18 MINNESOTA 53: Tyler Griffey capped a terrific week with 16 points for the visiting Illini, who made 11 of 23 3-pointers to hand the Golden Gophers (17-7, 5-6 Big Ten) their sixth loss in eight games.

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon St. Petersburg results


Times staff
Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series


At St. Petersburg

Half marathon


Overall finish, Name, City, Time

1. Jon Phillips, Brooklyn, 1:14:23

2. Andrew Chandler, St. Petersburg, 1:15:03

3. John Davis, Melbourne, 1:17:25

4. Nat Glackin, St. Petersburg, 1:17:37

5. Shane Streufert, Viera, 1:18:04

6. Steve Cyr, Shannon, 1:18:17

7. Joe Torzok, Tampa, 1:18:54

8. Samuel Morris, Orlando, 1:19:50

9. Justin Page, Wesley Chapel, 1:19:52

10. Shawn Weigl, Bradenton, 1:19:58

13. Trey Howell, St. Petersburg, 1:21:10

14. Jeff Lessie, Tampa, 1:21:26

15. Pedro Meraz, Wesley Chapel, 1:21:55

16. Myles Murphy, Miami Beach, 1:22:01

17. Benjamin Terry, Wolverhampton, 1:22:21

18. Matthew McFall, Bradenton, 1:22:28

19. David Taliaferro, St. Petersburg, 1:22:37

20. Rick Gausche, Tampa, 1:22:37

21. Robert Hammond, Sarasota, 1:22:56

22. Jake Hughes, Lithia, 1:24:17

23. Bryan Dunker, Tampa, 1:24:24

25. Dave Nevitt, Dartmouth 1:24:52

26. Tim Nicholls, Pembroke Pines, 1:25:24

27. Lee Morrison, Ocala, 1:26:06

28. Scott Wallace, Tampa, 1:26:07

29. Jim George, Brandon, Miss., 1:26:18

30. Michael Persun, St. Petersburg, 1:26:57

31. Kenneth Young, Tampa, 1:27:20

32. Evan Olsen, Tampa, 1:27:28

34. Michael Kwiatkowski, Carol Stream, Ill., 1:27:44

35. Steven Verlander, Apopka, 1:27:56

37. Charles Anstadt, Seminole, 1:28:04

38. Michael Giampino, Venice, 1:28:09

40. Michael Villeda, Land O'Lakes, 1:28:20

41. Bret Jardine, Palm Harbor, 1:28:32

42. Charles Schauer, Treasure Island, 1:28:37

43. Bill Cottrell, Belleair, 1:28:42

44. Breno R Junior, Porto Alegre, 1:28:44

48. Brandon Duwe, Shawnee, Kan., 1:29:21

49. Michael McKeon, Flagler Beach, 1:29:36

50. Jeff Truncellito, St. Augustine, 1:29:56

51. Robert Pepper, Dunedin, 1:30:40

52. John Austin, St. Petersburg, 1:30:54

54. Treavor Mosbaugh, Chicago, 1:31:25

55. Kevin Sparkman, Tampa, 1:31:25

56. Barry Spencer, Alpharetta, Ga., 1:31:31

57. David Moran, Dade City, 1:31:31

58. Jerry Mallams, Spring Hill, 1:31:32

59. Samuel Hansell, Lebanon, Pa., 1:31:32

60. Derk Hair, Port Richey, 1:31:42

61. Valentino Alvarado, Tampa, 1:31:45

62. Jean Gendebien, New Port Richey, 1:31:48

63. Ryan Kaelin, Trinity, 1:31:51

65. William Robinson, Bradenton, 1:32

66. Joseph Gilberto, Tampa, 1:32:07

67. Charles Roose, Wesley Chapel, 1:32:10

75. Michael Shelley, St. Petersburg, 1:32:32

77. Scott Shelton, Naples, 1:32:38

78. Doug White, Tampa, 1:32:38

79. Lauro Luna, Tampa, 1:32:49

80. Rob Rhinesmith, Valrico, 1:32:52

82. Timothy Guidry, Tampa, 1:33:06

83. Brian Darrow, St. Petersburg, 1:33:08

84. Steve Mandel, Tampa, 1:33:08

87. Nick Nance, St. Petersburg, 1:33:19

88. Flynn Fidgeon, Vero Beach, 1:33:29

89. Kenneth Jones, Tampa, 1:33:31

90. Joel Bower, Riverview, 1:33:34

91. Cole Smith, Gainesville, 1:33:36

92. Nicolus Paskiewicz, Seminole, 1:33:40

93. Eric Rice, Tampa, 1:33:48

94. Philip Brown, Alachua, 1:34:02

95. Zach Sheridan, Wesley Chapel, 1:34:06

96. Austin Dotson, Land O'Lakes, 1:34:08

97. Vincent Vercamen, Dunedin, 1:34:08

98. Richard Worms, Lutz, 1:34:10

100. Chris Altimari, Tampa, 1:34:25

101. Gilbert Dolores, St. Petersburg, 1:34:25

102. Gino Sciortino, Palmetto, 1:34:27

104. Scott King, Clermont, 1:34:30

105. James Lynn, Sarasota, 1:34:32

107. Kyle Lebouton, De Pere, Wis., 1:34:38

109. Jc Villa, Tampa, 1:34:49

110. Raymond Smith, St. Petersburg, 1:35:05

111. David Whiteside, Indian Rocks Beach, 1:35:06

112. Mark Schreimann, Tarpon Springs, 1:35:14

113. Scott Ballance, Evans, Ga., 1:35:45

114. Peter Kim, Glen Carbon, Ill., 1:35:51

116. Thomas Elskamp, Sanford, 1:36

117. Matthew Mandiak, Buffalo, N.Y., 1:36:04

118. Jeff Ellis, Tampa, 1:36:08

120. Gustavo Menezes, Tampa, 1:36:10

121. Matthew Paulson, Tampa, 1:36:22

122. Thomas Stack, La Center, Wash., 1:36:28

124. Billy Martin, West Islip, N.Y., 1:36:32

125. Keith Metcalfe, Windsor, 1:36:33

126. Johnny Pettygrue, Lutz, 1:36:38

127. Timothy Donovan, Gainesville, 1:36:39

128. Mark Bocelli, Fort Myers, 1:36:46

129. Trey Desenberg, Tallevast, 1:36:48


Overall finish, Name, City, Time

11. Natasha Yaremczuk, Clermont, 1:20:03

12. Lisa Bentley, Clermont, 1:21:02

24. Heather Schulz, Orlando, 1:24:34

33. Diana Sitar, Bradenton, 1:27:34

36. Brennan Liming, Apex, N.C., 1:27:57

39. Lisa K. Valentine, Tierra Verde, 1:28:19

45. Julie Wankowski, Glen Ellyn, Ill., 1:28:58

46. Resa Fukumoto, Scottsdale, Ariz., 1:29:01

47. Kiera Delaurier, St. Petersburg, 1:29:09

53. Holly Wooley, Palm Bay, 1:31:22

64. Jennifer Smith, Novi, Mich., 1:31:59

68. Andrea Hotham, Hudson, 1:32:10

69. Claudia McCoy, Trinity, 1:32:17

70. Mary Level Menton, Ocala, 1:32:22

71. Jessica Crate, Melbourne, 1:32:24

72. Rebeka Mesker, New Port Richey, 1:32:26

73. Alexandra Sartori, St. Petersburg, 1:32:29

74. Melanie Hynes, New Port Richey, 1:32:31

76. Katie Shelley, St. Petersburg, 1:32:33

81. Karen Keefe, Sorrento, 1:33:04

85. Carol Hollenbeck, St. Pete Beach, 1:33:09

86. Miriala Mondeja, Tampa, 1:33:12

99. Elizabeth Wells, St. Petersburg, 1:34:23

103. Anna Vaughn, Tampa, 1:34:29

106. Leslie Beauchamp, St. Petersburg, 1:34:33

108. Angie Ave, Orlando, 1:34:41

115. Rae Ann Darling Reed, Bradenton, 1:35:53

119. Lisa Sandusky, Tampa, 1:36:09

123. Liz Gonzalez, Tampa, 1:36:32

130. Megan Lopez, Johnsburg, Ill., 1:36:51

139. Shannon Dempsey, Wesley Chapel, 1:37:41

144. Connie Mendoza, St. Petersburg, 1:38:07

145. Monica Carper, Tampa, 1:38:07

146. Maria Lopez, Tampa, 1:38:09

149. Michelle Thames, Tampa, 1:38:14

162. Denise Skinner, Sarasota, 1:38:47

165. Olesiya Pratt, Largo, 1:38:49

166. Deb Rubinich, Charlotte, N.C., 1:38:50

179. Breanna Gawrys, Beverly Hills, 1:39:16

181. Bridget Bertino, San Diego, 1:39:21

184. Kara Colnitis, Tampa, 1:39:28

185. Elizabeth Hall, Maitland, 1:39:28

187. Carrie Decort, Hollywood, 1:39:32

194. Jesse Bono, Sarasota, 1:40:01

195. Christina Crowe, St. Petersburg, 1:40:04

197. Jill Stchur, Punta Gorda, 1:40:10

200. Jennifer Tullio, Bradenton, 1:40:22

207. Lori Kapalko, Wesley Chapel, 1:40:32

209. Susan Meltzer, Melbourne, 1:40:35

211. Amy Verlander, Apopka, 1:40:39

214. Alison Morello, Tampa, 1:40:42

215. Amy Knowles, St. Petersburg, 1:40:45

216. Amy Thomas, Tierra Verde, 1:40:54

218. Tina Vornheder, Palm Harbor, 1:41

219. Heather Bilotta, Tampa, 1:41:04

225. Corinne Meaney, Snoqualmie, Wash., 1:41:25

226. Sarah Finnegan, Tampa, 1:41:25

227. Mary Beth Foss, Bradenton, 1:41:27

228. Lani Steffens, Lakeland, 1:41:29

231. Cindy Hazel, Tampa, 1:41:32

238. Sarah Gudmundson, Tampa, 1:41:41

246. Megan Kiernan, Delray Beach, 1:41:56

249. Terri Doheny, Clearwater, 1:42:02

250. Holly Hartman, Tampa, 1:42:03

252. Bethany Brown, Tampa, 1:42:07

254. Tiffani Glowacki, Tampa, 1:42:08

255. Erin Owen, Herndon, Va., 1:42:13

258. Christie Morrison, Lakeland, 1:42:22

261. Katherine Preble, Safety Harbor, 1:42:26

263. Stephanie Planz Saladino, Dallas, 1:42:27

266. Elizabeth Samuelson, St. Petersburg, 1:42:29

267. Stephanie Dyer, St. Petersburg, 1:42:30

274. Laura Carron, Tampa, 1:42:43

276. Jennifer Casey, Arlington, Va., 1:42:44

277. Jacki Holland, Tampa, 1:42:47

280. Maggie Carmona, Miami Beach, 1:42:51

287. Marisa Hafer, St. Petersburg, 1:43

293. Astrid Gilbert, North Port, 1:43:14

298. Shannon Wight, Sarasota, 1:43:20

301. Katie Kiske, Nashville, 1:43:22

303. Tara Flaherty, Tampa, 1:43:22

308. Renee Jeffries, North Port, 1:43:28

312. Dorsey Langan, Largo, 1:43:31

314. Teneal Caw, Ambridge, Pa., 1:43:35

318. Adrienne Gerzeny, Nokomis, 1:43:40

319. Paulette Clanahan, Dade City, 1:43:41

320. Gail Norman, Tampa, 1:43:41

321. Lindsay Drake, Seminole, 1:43:43

322. Ivy Bartlett, Lithia, 1:43:43

324. Allison Ribner, St. Petersburg, 1:43:43

326. Tiffany Connell, St. Petersburg, 1:43:45

331. Stacy Headson, Appleton, Wis., 1:43:54

332. Lorena Birri, Lakeland, 1:43:55

335. Sharon Brown, Gainesville, 1:44:01

337. Lauren Pokornicky, Reston, Va., 1:44:05

338. Giliane Rifai, Tampa, 1:44:07

341. Donna Elder, Forest, Va., 1:44:08

343. Alisa Kapchinski, Sarasota, 1:44:11

349. Marai Vales, St. Petersburg, 1:44:16

350. Kim Olson, Naples, 1:44:16

Mini marathon


Overall finish, Name, City, Time

1. Stephen Wilcox, Deltona, 21:06

3. Mark Whittaker, Tampa, 22:50

4. Parker Sanderson, St. Petersburg, 23:02

5. Charlie Olliff, St. Petersburg, 23:04

6. William Riley, St. Petersburg, 23:34

7. Ben Hartvigsen, Sarasota, 23:56

9. Dale Faulkner, Grand Lake 24:11

11. Daniel Vail, Hollis Center, Maine, 24:19

13. Josh Bradley, St. Petersburg, 24:22

16. Doug Clery, Tampa, 24:38

17. James Morgan, Wesley Chapel, 24:40

19. Jeffrey Teal, St. Petersburg, 25:10

21. Garrett Gatlin, St. Petersburg, 25:30

22. Dylan Murphy, St. Petersburg, 25:36

25. Daniel Loney, St. Petersburg, 25:43

26. James M. Desmond, St. Petersburg, 25:46

27. Rick Brockett, Oldsmar, 25:49

28. Daniel Gill, Lutz, 25:57

29. Michael Nagy, Clearwater, 26:04

30. Jeanso Delisca, Tampa, 26:07


Overall finish, Name, City, Time

2. Lauren Deady, Tampa, 22:23

8. Deirdre Byrne, Crystal River, 23:57

10. Maribeth Radtke, Tampa, 24:17

12. Kaleigh Biss, St. Petersburg, 24:21

14. Patricia Farese, St. Petersburg, 24:26

15. Jenny Seymour, Wesley Chapel, 24:26

18. Marsha Wilson, Woodstock, Ga., 24:51

20. Mary Nicholls, Pembroke Pines, 25:21

23. Maria-Elise Cassara, Brigantine, N.J., 25:41

24. Cortney Hirsch Webel, Tampa, 25:42

32. Shelly Shutt, Oldsmar, 26:13

35. Rebecca Ray, Palm Harbor, 26:22

36. Kelly Degenhardt, Edgewood, Ky., 26:24

37. Brenda Vail, Hollis Center, Maine 26:34

38. Alexandra Stefanes, St. Petersburg, 26:37

39. Deborah Siniawski, Lakeland, 26:38

40. Karen Lucas, Largo, 26:41

41. Lynda Roszel, Tampa, 26:59

42. Debbie Defoe, St. Petersburg, 27:00

44. Marissa Day, St. Petersburg, 27:11

Sports in brief


Times wires
Sunday, February 10, 2013



VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal lost to Horacio Zeballos in Sunday's VTR Open final, settling for a runnerup finish in his first tournament after missing seven months with a left knee injury.

Nadal aimed for his 37th singles title on clay. But Zeballos won 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 for his first title on any surface.

It was only the fifth singles final Nadal, a seven-time French Open champ, has lost on clay. He and Juan Monaco lost the doubles final later to Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.

"This is the game of my life," Zeballos said. "Playing against the best player of all time, or one of the best in the history of tennis, it's a dream, unforgettable. I will never forget this moment."

FED CUP: The United States was eliminated in the first round, losing 3-2 at Italy when Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated Varvara Lepchenko and Liezel Huber 6-2, 6-2 in the decisive doubles match in Rimini.


Report: Dolphins okay stadium vote

The Dolphins agreed to a referendum on a proposal to seek tax money for an upgrade of Dolphins Stadium, the Associated Press reported. A news conference with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Dolphins chief executive officer Mike Dee to announce the vote was scheduled for today, the report said.


Crowd violence mars Greek championship

At the Greek Cup final, fans stormed the court and tore seats apart, and police used stun grenades to contain them. The game in Athens was suspended for an hour before Panathinaikos beat archrival Olympiakos 81-78 in front of nearly empty stands. In the second quarter, Panathinaikos' Stefan Lasme head-butted Pero Antic. Olympiakos fans threw objects on the court, with one hitting Panathinaikos' Greek-American guard Mike Bramos, who was on the bench.


Nigeria tops in Africa

Nigeria won its first African Cup of Nations title in nearly two decades, edging Burkina Faso 1-0. Stephen Keshi won his first major title as Nigeria's coach after he captained "The Super Eagles" to their last African crown, in 1994.

ENGLAND: Ryan Giggs, 39, extended his streak of scoring in every season since the Premier League formed in 1992-93 with a first-half goal as host Manchester United beat Everton 2-0. Man U leads rival Manchester City by 12 points.


COLLEGES: Miami named Hurlie Brown, an assistant on the defensive side for 20 years, as running backs coach.

VONN SURGERY: The surgeon who operated on Lindsey Vonn's right knee, Bill Sterett, was "optimistic for a full recovery" after the Alpine skiing World Cup and Olympic champ tore two ligaments and broke a bone in a crash last week at the world championships.

MORE WINTER SPORTS: France's Marion Rolland won the women's world downhill title in Schladming, Austria. … Two-time world champion Mao Asada won the women's title at figure skating's Four Continents event in Osaka, Japan.

OBITUARY: Three-time world table tennis champion Zhuang Zedong, a key figure in the groundbreaking " pingpong diplomacy" between China and the United States, died Sunday at 72, Chinese media reported.

Times wires

Shooting from the lip


By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2013

Worst practice

That's it. I've had enough. The next time college basketball fans rush the court, the officials should clear the court and give the opposing team 25 technical free throws.

Something, anything, needs to be done to stop this ridiculous practice.

Here should be the rule: if your team is not ranked and you upset the No. 1 team in the nation, it's okay to storm the court. Anything short of that is not good enough.

Last month, for instance, then-No. 1 Duke lost to No. 20 North Carolina State on N.C. State's floor. I'd even argue that the Wolfpack, 13-2 then, should have won. Yet fans rushed the court, including a student in a wheelchair who was knocked over and almost trampled.

Nine days later, after Duke had lost, Miami fans flooded the court after the then-No. 25 Hurricanes beat the Blue Devils by 27 points. Again, if you're ranked, should your fans be that overwhelmed when you beat anyone?

Last week, TCU knocked off No. 2 Kansas and TCU fans celebrated at midcourt. Okay, you know what? I'm willing to let that one go. TCU had never in its long history beaten a top-five team, so upsetting the second-ranked team in the country was rush-the-court worthy.

Notre Dame and Louisville played an incredible five-overtime thriller Saturday night, but that wasn't a good enough reason for Irish fans to run all over the court after Notre Dame's 104-101 victory. Heck, Notre Dame was ranked 25th and Louisville had already lost three times in the past month.

So now we're rushing the court for beating the 11th-ranked team in the country?

Heck, even ESPN's Dick Vitale, who loves the game as much as anyone, thinks it is time to knock off all this rushing-the-court jazz.

"I think there is too much rushing the court,'' Vitale told me last week, before the Notre Dame-Louisville game. "There's a danger of somebody getting hurt. I understand Texas Christian doing it against Kansas, but some of these I cannot comprehend.''

Best (and funniest line)

CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg had a hilarious, accurate and not-as-inappropriate-as-you-might-first-think line when describing Indiana's Victor Oladipo during Sunday's Indiana-Ohio State game.

"He's like a baby's bottom,'' Kellogg said, "smooth and sometimes explosive.''

I'm sure someone out there was offended, but come on, that's a great line.

Best broadcast

ESPN's Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale should be applauded for managing to keep their voices for Saturday night's five-overtime game between Notre Dame and Louisville, but they should be given a standing ovation for keeping up their enthusiasm for five overtimes. At the end, both looked like they had run a marathon, but at no point did their energy level drop.

Nice work, fellas.

Best reporting note

ABC's Lisa Salters had a nice update during Sunday's Lakers-Heat broadcast on a special undershirt that Lakers center Dwight Howard wore to help with his injured right shoulder. Howard, Salters explained, had to get permission from the NBA to wear it. She described in detail what the therapeutic undershirt did, and while I didn't quite understand what the shirt did, Salters deserves a pat on the back for the report.

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but Salters does a heck of a job on ABC's NBA coverage, particularly with in-game interviews.

Worst fans

This week, we have a tie between the punks of Notre Dame and the immature idiots at Duke.

During Saturday night's epic five-overtime game at Notre Dame, Louisville's Gorgui Dieng, a native of Senegal, picked up his fourth foul and was taunted by fans with the chant of "USA, USA.'' Isn't it ironic that a school whose nickname is based on another country would pick on a kid not from the United States?

Meantime, I'm sick of hearing about how clever and passionate Duke's "Cameron Crazies'' are. They are ignorant and disgusting, for the most part. Take last week. Less than a week after his grandmother died, North Carolina State guard Tyler Lewis was shooting free throws and students were heard chanting, "How's your grandma?''

Bunch of idiots.

Worst news

Oh no. As if we didn't already have enough of Fox's Gus Johnson screaming and yelling. Now Fox is in the process of making him the voice for the network's soccer coverage.

Johnson will begin calling matches on Fox Soccer Channel starting Wednesday with the Manchester United-Real Madrid Champions League match. The plan is that if Johnson does well, he will be Fox's lead announcer for the 2015 Women's World Cup and the 2018 men's World Cup.

It's a great idea that Fox is trying to establish someone as the voice of soccer in this country. As Newsday's Neil Best points out, it's "past time for the sport to have a signature American voice." I just wish it was someone other than Johnson.

True, I've never been a fan of his overdramatic calls that seem to draw attention more to himself than the game he is calling. But I also think he will struggle with the patience and steadiness it will require to call soccer where, often, there is only a goal or two. Soccer isn't football or basketball or mixed martial arts — sports where Johnson has the most experience. You might go 15 or 20 minutes in soccer without a reason to raise your voice. It will be interesting to see if Johnson can be effective with that kind of down time.

Good (maybe) studio show

I'm still trying to figure out if I like ABC/ESPN's NBA Countdown studio show with Magic Johnson, Bill Simmons, Michael Wilbon and Jalen Rose. It still feels odd that there is no defined host, yet the show moves along at a nice pace.

Johnson is hit-or-miss, sometimes really perceptive and sometimes really scattered in his thoughts. When he's passionate about something, he's fun to listen to. When he's not passionate, he's a bore.

Wilbon and Rose are good, and Simmons has become the most interesting voice. I don't always agree with him, but I enjoy listening to his opinions.

For example, most analysts are trying to pin the Lakers' woes on Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, but Simmons, at the very least, gave fans something different to chew on.

"The guy getting a free pass from me this season is Steve Nash,'' Simmons said. "He might be washed up. He's 39 years old. Point guards and centers are like boxers, when they lose it they lose it. If he doesn't start playing better, the Lakers are not going to make the playoffs.''

Saying Nash might be washed up? Simmons just might be right. But that's not the point. How many analysts out there would be so brazen to say something like that?

Most overblown

National signing day has become something of an obsession in this country. Websites are dedicated to it. Newspapers go crazy over it. ESPN dedicates hours upon hours and even turns over one of its networks (ESPNU) to it in early February.

The funniest part is how fans take it so seriously. They either brag about what a great day their school had or want their coach fired if he is perceived to have a lousy day. All for a bunch of kids most fans have never even seen.

Well, check this out:

The Post and Courier newspaper in South Carolina did a study, looking at Rivals.com top 100 recruits from 2006-09. The study found that 42 percent of those prospects turned out to be busts. That means they failed to either appear in 40 college games or start 20 games or have one above-average season. That means about 58 percent turned out to be worthwhile players. Only 14.1 percent turned out to be stars — defined as an All-American or a first- or second-round NFL draft pick.

Three things that popped into my head

1. I don't know that I've ever seen a network as obsessed with a losing team as ESPN is with the 24-28 Lakers.

2. I might be more excited about Rays pitcher and catchers reporting this week if I was more excited about the catchers who will be reporting.

3. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant might end up being the NBA MVP, but the Heat's LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Killorn brings size to Lightning


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2013

NEW YORK — Alex Killorn's road to the NHL has not been typical, and it has been long but no less satisfying.

It has been almost six years since the Lightning forward, called up Sunday from AHL Syra­cuse, was taken 77th overall in the 2007 draft, after which he spent four years at Harvard and parts of two seasons in the minors.

"Education was important to me and my family," said Killorn, who graduated with a government degree, before the game.

Killorn, 23, also called himself a "late bloomer," and said the time at school gave his body a chance to develop. Now 6 feet 1, 202 pounds, the Lightning hopes Killorn infuses size and strength into a lineup that features Marty St. Louis (5-7), Cory Conacher (5-8), Tom Pyatt (5-11) and, before he was reassigned to Syracuse, Dana Tyrell (5-11).

"He's a big body that protects the puck extremely well," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "He skates, and he's got a great shot and is extremely smart."

Conacher, who played with Killorn in Syracuse, compared him to Rangers 6-4, 216-pound LW Rick Nash, "a guy that's big and has so much skill and speed and a wicked shot. He's going to help this team and stick around in the league for a long time."

If Sunday's game was an indication, Killorn, who had 16 goals and 38 points in 41 games for Syra­cuse, has a chance. He got his first point with a secondary assist on C Vinny Lecavalier's goal when his shot got the Rangers scrambling. He was on the power play and in front of the net, and he played on a line with Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell. He finished with two shots in 13:17 of ice time.

Killorn's debut was seen by his parents, who delayed a trip to Puerto Rico; an aunt, an uncle and friends from Harvard and home in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"It's exciting to see it all happen like this," he said. Especially considering Killorn, when he was at Harvard and because of NCAA rules, paid his way to the Lightning's summer prospect camps.

"It shows character," Boucher said. "You don't necessarily follow everybody's route, and you make your own way."

"It was a lot of nervous energy at the beginning," Killorn said after the game. "I didn't want to make too many mistakes. But after that, I got a little more comfortable. It was a great experience; my first game, my first point."

WAKEUP CALL: Killorn got the news he was being called up by Syracuse GM Julien BriseBois, who woke him from a pregame nap with this: "He asked me if I was ready to come help Tampa beat the Rangers," Killorn said.

APOLOGIES: Conacher on Saturday created a stir when he posted on Twitter a simple "good luck" to former Syracuse teammate Brett Connolly. That started rumors Connolly was being called up to Tampa Bay or traded. But Conacher on Sunday said the tweet was an inside joke with his former Crunch roommate. "I retweeted and tried to ease the pain of some of the fans a little bit," Conacher said.

ODDS AND ENDS: Killorn wore No. 17. … The Lightning went 0-for-2 on the power play, dropping it to 1-for-19 on the road. … F Nate Thompson was minus-4 in only 13:12 of ice time. … With LW Ryan Malone out (lower body), Pierre-Cedric Labrie was in. … D Brian Lee, who entered a team-worst minus-7, played after sitting Thursday and was minus-1. … D Marc-Andre Bergeron and D Brendan Mikkelson were scratched.

Another Lightning road loss


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2013

NEW YORK — The frustration over the Lightning's road woes is beginning to bubble to the surface.

After Sunday night's 5-1 loss to the Ran­gers at Madison Square Garden that finished an 0-3 road trip and dropped Tampa Bay to 1-4 on the road, center Steven Stamkos called the record away from home "embarrassing" and "not acceptable."

"We're known as a team that can't win on the road right now," he said. "It's embarrassing … especially (Sunday's) effort. We couldn't even make a pass out there.

"We've got to find a way. I feel like we keep saying that every time. We're a lot better team than we're playing on the road."

It was the fourth straight loss for the Lightning (6-5-0), which got more bad news when left wing Ryan Malone sustained a lower-body injury during the team's usual pregame kick-around with a soccer ball and missed the game.

Other than Vinny Lecavalier's fifth goal of the season and Alex Killorn's assist in his NHL debut, nothing much went right.

Tampa Bay was outshot 32-20, including only four shots in a third period that began with the Rangers up 3-1 and coach Guy Boucher called "as bad as we've played all year."

"Total impatience," he said.

"Not smart, trying to cheat and find ways that don't exist."

But it didn't stop there.

The Lightning fell behind 31 seconds into the game on a shot that deflected in off Carl Hagelin's arm. It was down 2-0 when Ryan Callahan scored on a breakaway after a turnover by defenseman Matt Carle.

Tampa Bay was outshot 15-6 in the first. It had just two shots over the final 11:06, and it failed to convert on four odd-man rushes, including Lecavalier's breakaway in which the puck rolled off his stick as he tried to deke goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"We had our chance in the first period, and we didn't score. And after that, it was downhill," Stamkos said. "We dug ourselves in a hole by not playing properly."

Then there was goalie Mathieu Garon, who was pulled 9:58 into the second after allowing three goals on 19 shots. That included Hagelin's second goal, which went through the legs of the badly offbalance goalie for a 3-0 lead.

The bottom line with the Lightning since the start of last season: 30-15-2 at home (including 5-1-0 this season), 14-26-6 on the road.

"I don't think anybody thinks about we're going to lose because we couldn't win last year on the road," Stamkos said. "It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the guys in this room."

"Hope plays, blind passes and trying to get breakaways and two-on-ones," Boucher said, "those things that show up when you play the right way and not when you cheat.

"This one," he added, "was not good."

Rangers 2 1 2 5
Lightning 0 1 0 1

First Period1, N.Y. Rangers, Hagelin 2 (Nash, Girardi), :31. 2, N.Y. Rangers, Callahan 3, 15:13. PenaltiesCrombeen, TB (high-sticking), 11:16; Thompson, TB (holding), 15:42.

Second Period3, N.Y. Rangers, Hagelin 3 (Staal), 9:58. 4, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 5 (Hedman, Killorn), 14:42. PenaltiesTa.Pyatt, NYR (high-sticking), 4:10; Killorn, TB (high-sticking), 12:04.

Third Period5, N.Y. Rangers, Asham 1 (McDonagh), 12:22. 6, N.Y. Rangers, Nash 3 (Hagelin, Girardi), 19:51. PenaltiesKreider, NYR (hooking), 17:49. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 6-10-4—20. N.Y. Rangers 15-8-9—32. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 2; N.Y. Rangers 0 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Garon 1-2-0 (19 shots-16 saves), Lindback (9:58 second, 13-11). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 5-5-0 (20-19). A17,200 (17,200).

Lightning suffers odd scoring slump


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013

NEW YORK — Vinny Lecavalier streaked toward the Rangers net on Sunday and the hopes of the Lightning went with him.

Tampa Bay had fallen behind 31 seconds into the game at Madison Square Garden and this was a chance to equalize and shift the momentum. Instead, the puck jumped off the captain's stick as he tried to deke goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the chance was lost.

That is what it has been like for Tampa Bay during a four-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 14-6. Blown scoring chances have been the scourge.

Not just any scoring chances, mind you, we're talking primo stuff, odd-man rushes that would seem to favor the team with the puck.

But in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers, four odd-man rushes in the first period gained nothing. Convert just one and the complexion of the game changes.

In a 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Feb. 5, three two-on-ones also netted zip.

"It's weird to say," coach Guy Boucher said, "our downfall has been our offense."

There is plenty of other blame to go around.

Defensemen Matt Carle and Sami Salo committed bad turnovers that led to stinging goals during the just-finished 0-3 road trip. And during the four-game losing streak that dropped Tampa Bay to 6-5-0, goaltenders Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon have combined for a 3.55 goals-against average and .876 save percentage.

But on a team with Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Cory Conacher, the inability to finish scoring plays has been extraordinary.

Consider this list of woe:

St. Louis has zero goals in nine games, Purcell and Conacher zero in four, Stamkos zero in three, Lecavalier one in four.

"It's surprising," Boucher said. "I'd love to say I'll help them put it in, but we're not going to put it in for them. They're doing the right thing. They're in the right place. They're shooting at the right time. It's just not going in."

Against the Rangers, a two-on-one with St. Louis and Stamkos ended with St. Louis' backhand going off Lundqvist's stick shaft. Another ended with Stamkos' shot blocked. A well-executed two-on-one, with Lecavalier's perfect pass to a hard-skating Conacher, was thwarted by Lundqvist's right-leg save.

"That's the reason we're not getting those W's, because we're not capitalizing on those chances," Conacher said. "You've just got to bear down, give it all you've got. You've got to make the right play, don't take a shot off, don't muff it in there because the goalie is going to make the save; die to get that goal in the net."

Until that happens — perhaps tonight against the Canadiens at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the Lightning is 5-1 and has outscored opponents 32-16 — Boucher admitted the drought will eat at player confidence.

"That's what's going on right now," he said. "It's starting to frustrate guys. It's getting into some of the guys' heads and they're trying to find other ways. That's what you don't want to do when you're slumping is figure out other ways that don't work. Then you skid lower."

Boucher was referring to what he calls "hope plays" that try to create scoring opportunities outside the team's system. That not only affects the players, he said, but team's defensive posture.

"It's a test of patience," he said. "We have to stick to it and keep games close so when those chances come back again it's a tight game. Now, we're missing those goals and we get frustrated and we open it up, and it hurts."

"You've got to read the play," Stamkos said. "Hockey is a game of reaction. You have to take what they give you."

Lately, the Lightning hasn't even been able to do that.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

Expect Rays to be good again


By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
Monday, February 11, 2013

Expect good. Expect fast. Expect talented.

Expect a little more offense. Expect a lot more defense. Expect a pitching staff deep enough to almost make you forget about James Shields.

Expect smart. Expect versatile. Expect 90 wins, again.

In the end, expect the playoffs. Why wouldn't you?

As an organization, this is where the Rays are. They have been good enough for long enough that no one seems to remember the alternative. After averaging 91.6 wins over the past five years, the question is no longer if they will be good. It is whether they will be good enough to reach the postseason or, as it is known around here, buy-a-ticket time.

Even now, even as the Rays start over when pitchers and catchers show up, we all ask the same question. Where will this lead? We all want a peek at the final chapter, just to see if the hero makes it that far. An article on the Sports Illustrated website, for instance, suggests the Rays are the second-best team in the American League. An article in the Baltimore Sun, however, suggests the Rays will battle for last.

So who is right? We'll see. First, there is stretching. And tossing. And a starting rotation trying to figure out how they will split up the 227 innings of work that Shields took with him to Kansas City.

Expect that to be a recurring theme over the next few weeks.

It is strange, but despite the success, there seems to be an undercurrent of skepticism with the Rays. After last year, when the team induced an American League record for teeth-gnashing, it's hard to do optimism. They were challenged by both the bat and the glove, and there were nights you would swear the batting order was on loan from Durham.

And so they finished third. Having the best starting pitcher in the league didn't change that. Having the best closer didn't change that. Having B.J. Upton and Wade Davis and Jeff Keppinger and Shields didn't change that.

So how can the Rays possibly match last season's 90 wins?

Well, they can be healthier. To put it bluntly, the main reason the Rays didn't reach the playoffs last year can be found in the back of Evan Longoria's leg. If he can play even 122 games, the second lowest-total of his career, the Rays can be much more dangerous.

Also, they can be more mature. Upton often lost focus, and he could be a vexing player to watch, but he's going to be harder to replace than most expect. Desmond Jennings has some work to do to measure up to Upton in centerfield.

While they are at it, they can be more efficient. For years, the Rays' defense was their most underrated strength. Last year, it slipped so far you would swear they were using Bucs cornerbacks in the infield. Newcomer Yunel Escobar should help with that. Longoria's return will be welcome, too.

Then there is newcomer Wil Myers, the crown jewel of the offseason, a prospect so highly regarded that you keep checking your watch to see if it's his time yet. The sooner Myers is ripe, the better.

If history tells us anything, however, is that the wait for Myers might be longer than you want. The Rays have always been maddening in their patience with prospects, whether that was Price or Longoria or Jennings. Who knows where Myers spends the Fourth of July.

Expect pitcher Matt Moore to be better. Expect the Rays to miss Keppinger more than they want to admit. Expect James Loney to hit better than .197 and strike out fewer than 182 times. Expect the catching to drive you crazy. Expect 160 lineups in 162 games.

Yes, there are some ifs for the Rays, as there are for all teams. Still, the Rays have done this before. In 2010 they lost Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano and Carlos Peña (the first time). Their bullpen was stripped.

And they won 91.

Here is something else. The AL East isn't the fierce beast it once was. The Yankees are old and on a budget. The Red Sox aren't rebuilt. For all the talk of how Toronto robbed the Marlins, don't forget that those players were in last place a season ago. The Orioles are very good, but they only finished three games better than the Rays last year.

So what should you expect?

Expect frustration. Expect heartache. Expect nights when the bats shrink the way they did.

That's who the Rays are, too. They are not an easy-way team.

In the end, however, expect them to be even more fun than the Hit Show.


Listen to Gary Shelton from 9 a.m. until noon on 98.7-FM the Fan.

Florida Gators recruit football heavily in Tampa Bay area


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013

GAINESVILLE — Florida's 2013-14 football roster is a solid reflection of the Gators' commitment to recruiting in the Tampa Bay area.

At least 19 players from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and the surrounding areas, including Pasco, will be a part of the upcoming season's team.

Led by the area's most prominent player — Wharton's Vernon Hargreaves III — the Gators signed six players from the area among their 2013 class last week. It is the third consecutive year under coach Will Muschamp that the area has been a key part of Florida's recruiting efforts, and Muschamp said that's by design.

"We have three coaches that recruit in that area, Derek Lewis, Brian White and D.J. Durkin," Muschamp said. "They have all done an outstanding job of mining that area and finding the best fit for the University of Florida."

STILL TOP 10: Florida's loss at unranked Arkansas this past week led to a five-spot drop to No. 7 in this week's Associated Press men's basketball poll (No. 6 in the coaches poll). It was a rough week for Top 10 teams: No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Kansas and No. 7 Arizona all lost. But Florida's fall makes it clear that the SEC's struggles will hinder the Gators' strength of schedule, and they will have to continue to win to earn a favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament. The SEC's current RPI is No. 8.

BOUNCING BACK: Billy Donovan removed Scottie Wilbekin from Saturday's starting lineup against Mississippi State because he didn't like the way the junior guard responded after he challenged him following his disappointing performance at Arkansas (5-of-15, four assists, three turnovers). But Donovan said he liked the way Wilbekin has bounced back since.

"My biggest thing with Scottie is I have such a high opinion and a high regard for him as a player and how he can impact and affect our team, that as a coach I think it is my responsibility to hold him to that standard," Donovan said. "And I think Scottie is a guy that is very, very tough on himself. He's very demanding on himself. And I think he has an expectation of himself, how he needs to play and what he needs to do.

"When you get into a situation where you're not living up to an individual standard or playing at the level you need to play at, that happens all the time with every single player. How you respond to it, to me, is much more important. … It wasn't a bad attitude. It wasn't him being disrespectful. He wasn't late. It wasn't a disciplinary action. It was just more of his lack of being who he is."

Wilbekin said he got Donovan's message.

"It was just a wakeup call for him to let me know how I needed to play, and how hard I need to play every day just to be when I'm at my best," he said.

RECORD: Sophomore high jumper Taylor Burke broke the school record in the women's high jump at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet with her personal best of 1.86m/6-1.25. She broke Maria Galloni's record set at the 1992 SEC Championships, the same year the Gators won the NCAA Indoor Championship.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com. Follow her on Twitter @TBTimes_Gators.

Game preview: Lightning vs. Canadiens


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013

Captain's Corner: Tuna time


Ed Walker, Times Correspondent
Monday, February 11, 2013

What's hot: Unseasonably warm offshore water temperatures have caused an early return of blackfin tuna. Recent trips have produced tuna 18-28 pounds.

Where to look: The fish have been in 150 to 250 feet of water, 50 to 80 miles southwest of Clearwater. Most have been caught trolling over peaks and ledges. Later in spring tuna often crash the surface but not yet. For now, blind fishing has brought the most catches. Traditionally shrimp boats cull their catch at daybreak, drawing tuna. We have not seen any working shrimp boats in the past several trips but found fish.

Tactics: Blind fishing can be done in several ways. The first is to troll open water and narrow your search as you get bites. The best lure is a cedar plug, in unpainted wood color. Small shiny feathered lures also work. We always put a cedar plug farthest from the boat in clean, bubble-free water; 100 yards or more back is not too far. Anchoring and chumming has also steadily produced tuna. A steady stream of chopped baitfish or shrimp heads brings the fish, particularly at daybreak and dusk. Medium-action spinning rods rigged with long fluorocarbon leaders are then used with live sardines or small pinfish.

Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at info@lighttacklecharters.com or at (727) 944-3474.

College basketball preview: No. 7 Florida vs. No. 25 Kentucky


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013

. TOnight

No. 7 Florida vs. No. 25 Kentucky

When/where: 7; O'Connell Center, Gainesville

TV/radio: ESPN; 620-AM

Records: Kentucky 17-6, 8-2 SEC; Florida 19-3, 8-1

Notable: The SEC's top teams square off. Florida, 11-0 at home, is trying to maintain its top position in the SEC and seeks its 15th consecutive 20-win season under coach Billy Donovan. … The Wildcats have held seven of their past eight opponents to under 40 percent shooting and have scored at least 70 in eight of their past nine games. … The Gators have lost five straight against Kentucky.

Antonya English, Times staff writer

1-1 week keeps IU in top spot


Times wires
Monday, February 11, 2013

Indiana coach Tom Crean used an analogy to the state's second favorite sport after the Hoosiers remained No. 1 in the AP poll for a second straight week.

It had been more than a month since a team managed to stay on top, and Indiana broke that trend despite losing a game, leading Crean to bring up auto racing.

"I had a good friend tell me that in-season rankings are the barometer of representing what lane you're in and the direction and how far you are moving towards your goals," Crean said Monday. "We want to stay in the left lane and keep working on our team and pace because we know there are quite a few others in the left lane as well."

The Hoosiers lost to Illinois on a last-second basket Thursday but rebounded with a win at then-No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday. In a week when four of the top five teams and six of the top 10 lost, it was enough to keep the No. 1 ranking.

There were four newcomers: No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 22 Memphis, No. 24 Colorado State (its first poll appearance since March 9, 1954) and No. 25 Kentucky. They replaced Creighton, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Missouri.

Jeter making progress


Times wires
Monday, February 11, 2013

TAMPA — Derek Jeter ran Monday for the first time since breaking his left ankle in October, another step toward being in the Yankees lineup on opening day.

The shortstop, 38, jogged on a treadmill at the Yankees' minor-league complex a day before pitchers and catcher report to spring training.

"I've gotten the okay to do everything," Jeter said. "It's a progression. I haven't used my legs, so I've got to get back to using them."

When asked how the running workout felt, Jeter replied "great."

Jeter began his third week of baseball workouts. He hit in a batting cage, fielded grounders on the grass in front of the infield dirt at shortstop and threw in the outfield.

"I feel fine," Jeter said. "I was able to do everything else. I just had to be careful with my ankle, but now I've gotten the green light with that. I've gotten all the green lights I need."

The 13-time All-Star expects to start in the opener against Boston on April 1. Jeter broke the ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL Championship Series opener against Detroit on Oct. 13 and had surgery a week later.

"In terms of his work ethic, it's amazing," Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "I got a chance see to him for the first time (Monday). He's going to do whatever he can to get himself back there."

BOURN TO INDIANS: Free-agent centerfielder Michael Bourn agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with Cleveland. Bourn, 30, an All-Star with the Braves last season, must pass a physical this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed.

CARPENTER NOT DONE: Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter hasn't ruled out pitching again, including this year. The 37-year-old ace, who is expected to miss the season because of circulation problems, maintained his usual dogged optimism in a conversation with reporters. "Maybe I don't ever want it to end," Carpenter said. "I don't think I'll ever retire, to be honest with you. I'll never say that word. There might always be hope. Maybe like when I'm 48 I can come back and pitch some more."

NEW PIRATE SIDELINED: Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano reported to spring training camp in Bradenton but it will be at least another month before he throws his first pitch. Liriano will spend the next four weeks rehabilitating his broken right humerus. He likely won't be ready to make his regular-season debut until early May. "It's coming along pretty good," Liriano said. "I'm going to take it one day at a time and see how it feels over the next couple of weeks."

OBITUARY: Edith Houghton, one of baseball's first female scouts, died Feb. 2 in Sarasota. She was 100. After a playing career that included a stint with the Philadelphia Bobbies, Ms. Houghton worked for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1946-52.

ANGELS: Right-handed reliever Ryan Madson, who is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery that caused him to miss all of last season, had a setback Feb. 1 and hasn't thrown since, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A'S: Free-agent left-hander Hideki Okajima agreed to a minor-league contract.

REDS: Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, acquired this offseason from the Indians, agreed on a one-year contract for $7,375,000.

TIGERS: Right-hander Justin Verlander said he would not pitch for the United States in the World Baseball Classic.

Sports on TV/radio


Times sports staff
Monday, February 11, 2013


College basketball

Kentucky at Florida, 7 p.m., ESPN; 620-AM

Seton Hall at Rutgers , 7 p.m., ESPN2

Virginia Tech at Virginia, 7 p.m., ESPNU

Villanova at Cincinnati, 8 p.m., BHSN

Michigan at Michigan State, 9 p.m., ESPN

Alabama at Georgia, 9 p.m., ESPNU

Women: Rutgers at DePaul, 9 p.m., CBSSN


Trail Blazers at Heat, 7:30 p.m., NBA

Rockets at Warriors, 10:30 p.m., NBA


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

Rangers at Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN


UEFA Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain at Valencia, 2:30 p.m., FSN

UEFA Champions League: Juventus at Celtic, 2:30 p.m., FSC

Mexican Cup: Atlas at Lobos Buap, 10 p.m., ESPND

TV: NBCSN: NBC Sports Network; FSN: Fox Sports Network; BHSN: Bright House Sports Network; CBSSN: CBS Sports Network; FSC: Fox Soccer Channel.

Florida, Kentucky ignore established narrative


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013

GAINESVILLE — From the outside looking in, here's how you might pitch the storyline for tonight's SEC showdown between No. 7 Florida and No. 25 Kentucky.

The young Wildcats have struggled and are still trying to find their way late in the season. The Gators are in transition, having lost their top reserve for the remainder of the regular season and dealing with serious depth issues, particularly in the frontcourt.

But spend a few minutes talking to players and coaches from both sides and it's clear neither is buying what's billed about the other.

Team in transition? Not in Kentucky coach John Calipari's mind.

"You've got a top-five team on the road," Calipari said Monday. "They play well in their building. It will be a hard game for us to win. Let's put it this way, they were an Elite Eight team last year, should have been in the Final Four, and they've got everybody back. And college basketball isn't what it was a year ago, so that's how a good a challenge, or how big a challenge and how good of a team they are. …

"It doesn't matter (the loss of Will Yeguete to injury). You've got a bunch of guys that expect to win and they're that good, they'll make up for that."

Kentucky is the only Division I team not to return a single player with at least one start. At the beginning of January, UK was 10-4, and the team that began the season No. 5 eventually fell from the Top 25. But the Wildcats are 8-2 in conference play, one game out of first place, on a five-game winning streak and back in the rankings at No. 25.

"I think it's their same offense," UF senior guard Kenny Boynton said when asked how this team compares to last year's. "Honestly, I think their talent's the same. Archie Goodwin is a great driver. I think they've got a good, solid team. Despite what their record is, I think lately they've gotten better. … I see a team that's getting better throughout the year as last year's team did."

With Kentucky's strong frontcourt depth, it's imperative for the Gators to keep senior forward Erik Murphy and junior center Patric Young out of foul trouble. Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel has had a double double in the past three games and poses serious problems with his 6-foot-10 frame.

"I think he's just as good as Anthony Davis as shot-blocker," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He's got unbelievable length, he's got unbelievable timing. He's very skilled at it. He keeps himself out of foul trouble. He can alter shots in a lot of different directions and areas of the floor. We have to have a level of intelligence of driving in there and trying to shoot over the top of him. But I still think that we're a team that needs to attack the basket."

The game is also expected to be a battle of guard play between Gators Scottie Wilbekin and Boynton and Kentucky's Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow, who combine to score 22.4 and 24.6 points, respectively. How well Florida can press and disrupt Kentucky's young guards could be key.

"They have great guards that get out and run, so our guards are going to have to step up," Goodwin said. "It's going to be a big game so everyone is really going to have to play great."

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

Spring decisions for Rays


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013

PORT CHARLOTTE — For all the roster reconstruction the Rays did in what executive vice president Andrew Friedman jokes is the misnomered offseason — replacing eight of last year's core 25 players — they don't appear to have that much to do this spring.

Despite parting ways with the workhorse leader of their rotation and three key members of their American League-best bullpen, the Rays open camp today with 11 of their 12 pitchers seemingly set, although some roles are to be determined.

And despite losing their leading hitter, two of their top three home run and RBI men and one of their most versatile bench players, the Rays similarly can all but identify 12 of their 13 position players, with only the backup catcher spot undecided.

So what, over the next 47 days — the extra week courtesy of the World Baseball Classic — will they spend their time on?

Well …

For starters

They are not going to replace James Shields, the veteran right-hander who was traded to Kansas City for a package led by blue-chip outfield prospect Wil Myers.

But they do have to have five starters in the rotation.

Three are set, barring injury: Cy Young winner David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore.

The other two are likely to come from the group of Alex Cobb (who has the edge), Jeff Niemann and Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona), though Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi will get looks.

Cobb, based on what he did last year, has an edge but not necessarily a job. Both Niemann (injuries) and Hernandez (off-field issues) are coming off down seasons. Whoever isn't in the rotation is headed to the bullpen, though Niemann (who is out of options) could be a trade candidate.

Guessing today: Cobb and Hernandez

Pitching in

While Burke Badenhop, Wade Davis and J.P. Howell are gone, the Rays return closer Fernando Rodney, setup men Jake McGee and Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth to their pen. Cesar Ramos, who is out of options, is in line to take over as the second lefty. And the Hernandez/Niemann "loser" makes six.

That leaves one spot, with veteran Jamey Wright, who likely wouldn't have agreed to a minor-league deal without promise of a legit shot at a major-league job; Brandon Gomes; and Josh Lueke the most likely candidates. Wright's ground-ball style fits in well with their defense.

Guess: Wright

Catching on

If things go the way the Rays plan, the only decision among the position players could end up being the "battle" between Jose Lobaton and Chris Gimenez for the backup catcher job behind Jose Molina.

And given that Lobaton is out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers before he can be sent down, and Gimenez has an option, it may not even be much of a competition.

Otherwise, the 11 players look to be Yunel Escobar, Sam Fuld, Desmond Jennings, Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce, James Loney, Evan Longoria, Ryan Roberts, Sean Rodriguez, Luke Scott and Ben Zobrist.

Guess: Lobaton

Lining up

The Rays like flexibility and versatility among their players, and they could have more of it this year than ever. Potentially, only three position players will be in the same spot on a pretty much everyday basis — Longoria at third base, Escobar at shortstop, Jennings in centerfield. (Plus, Scott at DH). Zobrist will play every day, but splitting time between at least rightfield and second base.

Spring will be to determine who else can do what else, as they seek to sort out what could be a quartet at second base, a trio in leftfield and platoons at first base and in right. Among the questions: Can Johnson handle the outfield, where he last played in 2005 before switching full time to second base? Or Roberts? Is Rodriguez the best right-handed option at first base? Will Fuld, a pesky lefty swinger, provide tough-enough at-bats vs. lefty pitchers?

Guess: What's the point? Joe Maddon has averaged 133-plus lineups the past four seasons.

Sizing up

Of all the scenarios being pondered with Myers, the least likely is that he has a monstrous spring, forces the Rays to shuffle their plans and makes the opening day roster.

A tad less likely is that he looks every bit of a 22-year-old who has less than 100 games above the Double-A level and hit his 37 homers in the friendly confines of the Pacific Coast and Texas leagues and spends all season at Durham until a September callup.

More likely for his arrival is something, and some time, in the middle, and their spring evaluation can go a long way toward determining that.

Not so much by what Myers does, but how he does it. In addition to making their own assessments of his game — strengths and weaknesses — the Rays need to get a better feel for his personality, work ethic, dedication, coachability, all the kind of things that will factor into their decision. While the Rays tend to be patient with prospects — and, yes, there are financial considerations as well — they prefer to keep them in the majors once they get there.

Today's guess: Oh, for fun, let's say June 13, when they're hosting the Royals.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Sports in brief


Times wires
Monday, February 11, 2013



PHILADELPHIA — QB Michael Vick took a significant pay cut to stay with the Eagles and compete for a starting job.

The four-time Pro Bowl pick agreed Monday to a restructured three-year contract, two seasons after signing a $100 million extension with $35.5 million guaranteed. The new deal is essentially for a year.

AP reported that Vick, 32, could earn up to $10 million in 2013 if he meets all his performance incentives. Vick was slated to earn about $16 million next season, including a $3 million roster bonus. He lost his job to rookie Nick Foles last season, but new coach Chip Kelly will give him a chance to win it back.

"I am grateful and proud to be a Philadelphia Eagle," a post on Vick's Twitter account read. "My heart is in Philly and this community is important to me."


Former No. 1s advance easily

Former top-ranked players Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic eased into the second round of the Qatar Open in Doha. The 10th-ranked Wozniacki beat qualifier Mervana Jugic-Salkic 6-1, 6-2; No. 13 Ivanovic beat Tamira Paszek 6-1, 6-2. Serena Williams can claim the No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2010 by reaching the semifinals.


BC takes fourth straight Beanpot

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and Parker Milner stopped 20 shots to lead Boston College to a 6-3 victory over Northeastern, giving the Eagles their fourth consecutive Beanpot title. Already the defending national champions, BC's seniors are the first class in school history to go unbeaten in the annual tournament involving Boston's four Division I teams.


SKIING: American Ted Ligety won the super-combined at a World Cup event in Schladming, Austria with a time of 2 minutes, 56.96 seconds over two runs (downhill and slalom).

SOCCER: The NASL champion Rowdies will face the New York Cosmos in St. Petersburg on Aug. 10, Tampa Bay's home opener of the fall season. The Cosmos are returning to the league in the fall. … FIFA banned Canadian forward Olivier Occean for six matches. He was sent off, then insulted the referee, during a World Cup qualifier Oct. 12 against Cuba.

DOPING: Two-time Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso told a Spanish court he paid Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the center of a scandal, for treatment in 2005 because he thought it would help him win the Tour de France.

FAN VIOLENCE: Serbia's basketball cup final was completed in an empty arena a day after fighting between rival fans forced the game to be stopped. Red Star beat Partizan 78-69; they were tied at 43 Sunday when fans turned violent in the third quarter, storming the court and hurling smoke bombs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Dennis Erickson, 65, who won two national titles as Miami's coach, came out of retirement to be Utah's co-offensive coordinator. … Running back Tyler Gaffney is returning to Stanford's team, after a year in the minors with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

GOLF: The U.S. Golf Association is getting rid of the U.S. Amateur Public Links in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, to start in 2015.

OLYMPICS: IOC leaders are meeting for two days, starting today in Lausanne, Switzerland, to decide which sport to drop and how to deal with the fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Times wires

Marquette coach sparks Hoyas' run


Times wires
Monday, February 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — Georgetown coach John Thompson III was so focused on the details of the game that he claimed not to notice a momentum swing when Marquette counterpart Buzz Williams was called for a technical foul in the second half.

But his point guard felt it.

"Yeah, absolutely," the Hoyas' Markel Starks said. "Absolutely."

The 18th-ranked Golden Eagles were making a run at No. 15 Georgetown, having closed a 10-point deficit to three when Williams got T'd up for arguing an out-of-bounds call along the baseline with 12:13 left.

The Hoyas responded with an 8-1 run immediately after the call, and Marquette didn't get closer than eight points the rest of the way in Georgetown's 63-55 victory Monday night.

"I was just hollering at somebody that would respond," Williams said. "We can make a big deal out of it if you want. I got a technical. I'm sorry. I may get a technical again next year — that's my average — and it'll probably be on the road."

Otto Porter scored 11 of his 21 after the technical, Starks had 16 points and Georgetown scored 24 off 19 turnovers to tie the Golden Eagles for second place in the Big East.

The Hoyas (18-4, 8-3) won their sixth straight game. Jamil Wilson scored 13 for the Golden Eagles (17-6, 8-3), who fell out of a first-place tie with Syracuse.

Williams indeed has five technical fouls in his five seasons at Marquette, according to the school. He used up his reservoir of goodwill long before the costly call, pushing the envelope repeatedly in the first half with strolls outside the coach's box.

NO. 14 KANSAS 83, NO. 10 KANSAS ST. 62: Ben McLemore scored 30 on his 20th birthday for the host Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3), who snapped a three-game skid and tied the Wildcats (19-5, 8-3) atop the Big 12.

NCCU 81, B-CU 75: Jeremy Ingram scored 20 of his career-high 32 in the first half as host North Carolina Central held off Bethune-Cookman (9-16, 4-6 MEAC) for its 11th straight win.

N.C. A&T 64, FAMU 56: Bruce Beckford had 16 points to lead the host Aggies past the Rattlers (6-18, 3-7 MEAC).

NO. 11 BUTLER: Senior center Andrew Smith, who is second on the team in scoring (11.4 points) and rebounding (5.4), has been ruled out for two games because of an abdominal injury.

NO. 22 MEMPHIS: Junior guard Antonio Barton has a hairline fracture in his right foot that will not need surgery but will keep him out for four to six weeks.

CONNECTICUT: Junior center Enosch Wolf was suspended from the team after his arrest in what police described as a domestic dispute.

SOUTHERN CAL: Junior guard-forward Ari Stewart is expected to miss at least three weeks after breaking his left thumb.

TEXAS: Sophomore guard Myck Kabongo said that he is ready to return after a 23-game NCAA suspension and that he should have cooperated with school officials when first asked about a 2012 trip to Cleveland.


NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 93, NO. 10 LOUISVILLE 64: Natalie Achonwa had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the host Irish (23-1, 11-0 Big East), who won their 18th straight and stopped a six-game winning streak by the Cardinals (20-5, 8-3).

NO. 5 DUKE 71, NO. 7 MARYLAND 56: Chelsea Gray scored a career-high 28 for the host Blue Devils (22-1, 12-0 ACC), who snapped a nine-game winning streak by the Terrapins (19-4, 10-2).

USF women deal with winter blizzard


By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jose Fernandez vividly remembers Hurricane Andrew in Miami some 20 years ago, being huddled in a closet with his mother and brother as winds blew in the sliding-glass door in their home.

On Friday night, listening to the howling wind from his hotel room as USF's women's basketball coach was bunkered down in Providence, R.I., the massive winter storm seemed familiar to him.

"It was something you couldn't really describe," said Fernandez, whose team flew in Thursday to arrive before the storm. "I felt hurricane winds in my hotel room, howling winds. You looked out, and it was just white. It was like a hurricane with snow."

On Saturday morning, the sightseer in him went downstairs, wanting to see the snow piled up, and it was high enough he couldn't turn the revolving door in the hotel lobby. The Bulls' game at Providence, originally bumped from 2 p.m. Saturday to 7:30 p.m., was shifted again to 1 p.m. Sunday to allow for better cleanup; that meant the Bulls were stuck in a hotel for more than 24 hours leading up to the game.

The Bulls worked out on treadmills and elliptical machines in the Renaissance fitness room; with a limited hotel staff, they ate meals in five-person shifts. "It was pretty nuts," Fernandez said.

Understandably, the Bulls played poorly in the first half ("We sleepwalked," he said), as USF held just a 28-23 lead. What followed was like a change of seasons: a dominant second half in which the Bulls shot 61 percent from the field and led by as many as 36 points before closing out an 82-54 rout.

"It was like a racehorse that took off," said Fernandez, whose team is 16-6 and 5-4 in the Big East, needing a strong push in the final seven regular-season games to make a case for the NCAA Tournament. "Our kids know what's at stake. Our backs are against the wall. We've got to get to 20 wins and finish in the top six in the league to get to the tournament."

The weather woes weren't over for the Bulls, who couldn't fly out of Rhode Island and took a four-hour bus ride to New York, staying overnight and waking up at 5:15 a.m. Monday to fly to Tampa. Landing at 11:30, they practiced 45 minutes later, watched video and sent players home for much-needed rest.

USF had been scheduled to play St. John's in the Sun Dome today, but the Big East granted USF's request to move the game to 4 p.m. Wednesday, the early tipoff required to honor a TV commitment.

USF Bulls set for new baseball season


By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

TAMPA — USF baseball coach Lelo Prado has settled into a new ballpark, has a solid core of returning veterans and just enough impact newcomers to have optimism as the Bulls seek their first trip to NCAA regionals since 2002.

"Pitching-wise, I feel good at how much strides they've made, and offensively, I think we'll be a better club, and that's good, because we've struggled to score runs," said Prado, whose team went 38-22 last spring and reached the Big East championship game. "I think we'll score some now."

Prado knew going into preseason practice that his top two pitchers would be senior RHP Joe Lovecchio and junior lefty Nick Gonzalez, and there's a three-way battle for the No. 3 job to close out the weekend rotation, among junior college transfer Nolan Thomas, freshman Justin Patrick of Rhode Island and sophomore Michael Clarkson (Dunedin).

"We feel good about those guys," said Prado, who said another junior college transfer, 6-foot-7 righty Alex Vetter, to compete for starts as well once he's healthy.

Prado has loads of returning bats and has high expectations for newcomers such as freshman Levi Borders, the son of former major-leaguer Pat, who will see work at catcher, third and designated hitter.

The Bulls open the season with seven tough games before they get a home game — Louisville, Purdue and Indiana in Clearwater this weekend, then a three-game series at Florida State and one at Central Florida before the home opener March 1 against Toledo.

"I love it. I think this group needs to get tested early to see where we're at," Prado said. "I always like facing tougher competition. I've told you a thousand times, I could schedule 45 wins every year, but it doesn't do many any good. We've got to get to the point where we're competing against some of these guys."

WELL-DESERVED: Jessica Dickson, already enshrined in USF's Athletics Hall of Fame as the Bulls' all-time leading scorer, will have her No. 25 jersey retired Saturday before USF's women's basketball game against Seton Hall.

RECRUITING HONORS: USF football assistants Larry Scott and Ray Woodie, who handled much of the Bulls' recruiting duties as Willie Taggart assembled a new staff, have been honored for their work in USF's 2013 recruiting class.

Scott, a former Bulls lineman now working under his third USF head coach, was recognized as one of the nation's top 50 recruiters by 247sports.com, continuing his success in the Miami area with four-star CB Lamar Robbins and RB Darius Tice. Scott and Woodie had at least some role in nearly every recruit who signed with the Bulls, having done much of the recruiting and evaluation until Taggart was able to bring in more assistants.

Woodie, who followed Taggart from Western Kentucky, was honored among the Big East's top recruiters by Rivals.com. The site gives him credit for securing eight of USF's 23 commitments. He was instrumental in the Bulls being able to lure Bradenton Manatee DT Derrick Calloway out of a previous commitment to Louisville.

THIS AND THAT: Rick Stumpf, who has worked in USF's compliance department since 2006, is leaving to become associate athletic director for compliance at Delaware. ... USF could make a late addition to its football recruiting class in Lake Gibson's Kennard Swanson, rated as the nation's No. 2 fullback by two national recruiting sites. Swanson was previously committed to LSU and Florida before academic issues, but his coach at Lake Gibson said he has a good chance to qualify academically. He visited USF on Monday.

Girardi believes Yankees will win big


By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

TAMPA — Manager Joe Girardi believes the suggestion the Yankees are getting old is an old story.

He points out people have been saying that for a decade, including last year, when they racked up 95 victories and took the American League East.

So even as the Yankees opened camp Tuesday with their share of questions, from the health of shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera to another controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez's alleged performance-enhancing drug use, Girardi has the same old expectations for his club.

"This team could win 95 games and get to the World Series," Girardi in his opening spring news conference. "There's a lot of talent in this room."

The Yankees fate could partly rest on the shoulders of two of their oldest — and most important — players. Girardi is optimistic Jeter, 38, coming off left ankle surgery, will be their everyday shortstop. And Girardi is happy to hand the ball in the ninth to Rivera, 43, who is the "greatest closer of all-time," but missed the final four months last season due to knee surgery.

However, as confident as Girardi is in the two future Hall of Famers, no one knows for sure. "You want to see him," Girardi said of Jeter. "And you want to get over the 'I'm done worrying about him' stage. Same with Mo."

The Yankees won't be seeing much of Rodriguez, 37, who will continue rehabbing his surgically-repaired hip in New York to prepare for his post All-Star break return. Girardi said it has nothing to do with avoiding the potential camp distraction of Rodriguez, who was linked in a Miami New Times report last month as a client of alleged PED-supplier Anthony Bosch. Rodriguez, who has denied the report, is just getting off crutches and Girardi said the "best place" for him is with specialists in New York. "He's not ready to do anything with us from a baseball standpoint," Girardi said.

Aside from Rodriguez's absence, there has been considerable focus on what the Yankees lost, including catcher Russell Martin (Pirates), Nick Swisher (Indians), Raul Ibanez (Mariners) and Rafael Soriano (Nationals). Gone are nearly 100 of their MLB-leading 245 homers from 2012, and even though New York signed veteran Kevin Youkilis (one-year, $12 million) to play third base, Girardi admitted their offense will have a different look. The Yankees still boast some pop, with Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, but will rely on speed at the top with Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki.

"I believe we're going to score runs," Girardi said. "It's just going to be in a different fashion

The Yankees don't have an established catcher, picking this spring among the trio of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine. But their bullpen remains mostly intact (Rivera replacing Soriano) and they'll have the luxury of the same starting rotation. That staff is topped by a healthier CC Sabathia, who feels relief after an offseason procedure on his throwing elbow, which was more of an issue last year than initially stated. Girardi considered retaining veterans Andy Pettitte, 40, and Hiroki Kuroda, 38, as "big signings," overlooked because they were returning players.

The Yankees may not have made as big a splash this winter as other teams such as the Blue Jays, but Girardi noted that some of the biggest offseason spenders last year didn't make the playoffs.

"If other clubs want to think that we're vulnerable, that's okay," Girardi said. "But I love the character in that room, and the way they find ways to win games. And that's important."

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

Captain's Corner: Warmer water brings action


By Dave Zalewski, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Timing: It appears we can expect an early Spanish mackerel and kingfish season. Both Sunshine Skyway fishing piers are reporting daily catches of Spanish mackerel. Schools of baitfish of all sizes are showing up at bridges and offshore. The best indicator is water temperature, which is hovering around 65. St. Patrick's Day is when we traditionally see trolling season hit high gear, targeting cobia, kingfish, mackerel and bonita.

Tip: Now is the time to inspect trolling tackle. Repair shops are not that busy. Check rod guides for burrs and cracks that might not be readily visible by running a piece of nylon stocking through them. The stocking will hang up on the smallest imperfection. Check drags for smoothness by tying the line to a fixed object and pulling against it.

What's hot: Bottom fishing has been exceptional in 40- to 60-foot depths. Grouper season (red and gag) is closed and we have been targeting white grunts, mangrove snapper, triggerfish and sea bass on light tackle. These fish inhabit the same limestone bottom structure as grouper. Use a live or frozen sardine on a flatline on every bottom stop. One or two kingfish have been striking on most days.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria 'feeling like a new man'


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

PORT CHARLOTTE — This year is going to be different for Evan Longoria.

There's the baby he and girlfriend Jaime Edmondson are expecting just before opening day. The attention, and expectations, that come with his $100 million contract extension. A decision to take on an increased leadership role in the Rays clubhouse.

And the realization that he has to find a way — even if it reluctantly means taking preventative days off — to avoid having another season disrupted by injury.

"This has to come to an end," he said.

Longoria missed more than half of last season with a left hamstring injury, leading to November surgery — which left him "feeling like a new man" — and his early arrival at Rays spring training, which formally starts today with a workout for pitchers and catchers.

He missed a month the previous season with an oblique strain, and the last 10 games (and was limited in the playoffs) the one before that with a quad strain. Plus, he had a finger infection in the middle of the 2009 season and a broken wrist as a 2008 rookie. Overall, he has missed more than 20 percent of the Rays' games in his five seasons.

After seeing Longoria try a series of different conditioning programs and routines, they now are planning to find ways to get him more rest. With last year a sledgehammer reminder of how valuable he is to have on the field, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said they haven't committed to a specific plan (such as DH, pinch-hit, total rest) but, "I'm sure we'll be a little bit more proactive in terms of giving him days."

And as much as Longoria prides himself as an everyday gladiator, he is willing to make the concession.

"If I have to take a day off here and there to not go on the DL and not have to deal with that kind of stress or worry, I'll do it," he said. "Trying to avoid the DL is going to be the biggest thing for me."

But he won't necessarily be happy about it.

"I'm 27 years old," he said. "It's getting to the point, I shouldn't have to take these days off. I'm still young. That's the last thing on my mind, having to worry about taking days off. I can do that eight years from now, but not now."

He found inspiration in the play of oft-injured veteran Carlos Beltran, who "kind of had that stigma, too," and at 35 had a strong season for St. Louis: "It's doable as late into his career as he is, so you hope that for me I can have five, six, seven years just like that."

As "really good" as Longoria said he feels and has done running, he will be watched closely and questioned often. And given that he has yet to try running the bases, he admitted he "might take a couple steps back" in the first week or two of camp.

Meanwhile, he is making a concerted effort to be more of a leader in a clubhouse that lost veterans James Shields and B.J. Upton. For Longoria, that started with the unprecedented act of actually looking at the roster of who was coming to camp, and he plans to follow through with introductions.

"I just told myself coming into spring this year that I would do a better job at meeting the new guys and just making myself available," he said.

The contract will bring some attention, along with some high-profile appearances (like the ESPN The Magazine photoshoot) and a hand in a new sports bar venture in Tampa.

There also is all that is involved with the baby girl due the day before the April 2 opener.

"It's been fun," Longoria said. "I think it's all going to be good. It really hasn't put my mind at a stressful point. I feel great, I'm happy to be here. I think when it all happens there, will be a little bit of weight lifted off of me. But it's not enough that's going to drag me down right now."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Previous Article Next Article

IOC boots wrestling from Olympics


By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

For Jared Frayer, the Olympic dream kept him going.

A skilled wrestler at Countryside High in the 1990s, Frayer kept at the sport into adulthood, finally making the U.S. Olympic team at age 33 and competing last summer in London.

But soon that Olympian goal that kept Frayer on the mat all those years will be snuffed out. The International Olympic Committee executive board voted Tuesday to eliminate wrestling — part of the modern Games since 1896 and the ancient games before that — beginning with the 2020 Games

"It's pretty wild, pretty disheartening," Frayer said. "It's tough because the Olympics was the one thing that was really keeping the sport alive past college. It was the one thing that give it notoriety and respect on a world stage. Growing up in Florida, in a sport with no college wrestling (in the state), my biggest dream was to represent the USA in the Olympics. ... I can only imagine what kids in high school or even younger are thinking right now."

The IOC decision was a surprise to many Olympic observers, who thought modern pentathlon — a sport that combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — was most likely to be dropped in a review of the 26 Olympic sports. Wrestling will attempt to reclaim its spot, competing against softball, baseball, wakeboarding and wushu (a Chinese form of martial arts) in coming months.

The 15-member board gave no reason for its decision.

"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling; it is what's right with the 25 core sports."

According to IOC documents obtained by the Associated Press, wrestling ranked low in several of the areas evaluated, including popularity with the public at the London Games. Wrestling sold 113,851 tickets in London out of 116,854 available.

Wrestling also ranked low in global TV audience with a maximum of 58.5 million viewers and an average of 23 million, the documents show. Internet hits and news coverage were also ranked as low.

The United States has had much success in Olympic wrestling, winning 113 medals in freestyle competition, more than any other country. U.S. athletes have more wrestling medals than any sport other than swimming and track and field, which offer more medal opportunities.

Longtime Brandon High coach Russ Cozart, familiar with the international politics of the sports and Olympic lobbying, said the world's governing body for wrestling has been criticized for mismanaging the sport. Other sports, including equestrian, have had better lobbying efforts at the Olympic level and will carry on when wrestling does not, with significant impact on the sport and its future.

"The world organizationn for freestyle and Greco-Roman has kind of dropped the ball, and it has been well-noted," said Cozart, who has spent more than a decade on the U.S. Olympic coaching staff, working with wrestlers of various age levels. "There are huge ramifications if wrestling is kept out of the Olympics. ... You don't need an Olympic Training Center in America if you're not in the Olympics. Hopefully, maybe them being kicked out of the Olympics for a while will force them to reorganize and present a better (product)."

With moments such as Rulon Gardner's historic upset for gold in the 2000 Olympics, the Olympics have represented the pinnacle of competition beyond success at the college level for generations of wrestlers. Former Hernando High wrestler Charley Combs, who made a comeback effort last year for the U.S. Olympic Trials, said it's unfair to point to metrics such as TV ratings because even medal competitions in wrestling aren't given the opportunity for audiences.

"It's an appalling decision," Combs said. "It deflates the interest in the sport because it's more difficult to aim for something. In every facet of life, you have to have goals, and this just takes away some of those goals. Your average high school or college wrestler couldn't tell you who won the 2011 world championship in any weight class, but the Olympics are prestigious."

While wrestling advocates, can hope to regain an Olympic spot, the consensus is that significant damage is being done to the sport and the motivations for more than one hundred thousand young wrestlers across the country.

"I'm hopeful, but any halt is detrimental," Cozart said.

Frayer points back to the sport's fundamental traits of toughness and resilience: "I know there's a lot of people in the sport that won't let this decision go down without a fight."

Some of the sport's most successful and well-known leaders took to social media and mainstream news outlets Tuesday, expressing their frustration and hope that a solution still exists for wrestling's Olympic future.

"I do think wrestling people are the strongest in the world, and they're resilient. And we'll come out of whatever happens. But short term, yeah, it's sad," 2004 gold medalist Cael Sanderson, now head coach at Penn State, told the Associated Press. "I just think of the kids in our program that dream of being Olympic champions. And to think that now that's no longer an opportunity just so the IOC can stay fresh and continue to rotate sports and whatever their plan is —it's tough to think about."

Times staff writers Greg Auman, Joey Knight and Bob Putnam and correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.