Sunday, 31 March 2013

Andy Murray erased a championship point Sunday and rallied past David Ferrer

Andy Murray erased a championship point Sunday and rallied past David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) in a grueling, dramatic final at the Sony Open.

One point from defeat in the last set, Murray skipped a forehand off the baseline to stay in the match. He then dominated the tiebreaker, while Ferrer appeared to cramp and collapsed to the court after one long exchange.

The match was filled with grinding baseline rallies, including at least a dozen of more than 20 strokes and one lasting 34. Murray and Ferrer dueled for 2 hours, 45 minutes, and as a result, the 11:30 a.m. start on Easter turned out not to be early enough for CBS.

The network cut away from the final when it went to the tiebreaker, switching to the tipoff of the NCAA tournament game between Michigan and Florida. Tennis Channel televised the end of the match, and CBS later showed a replay of match point.

"We stayed with tennis as long as we could," a CBS spokeswoman said.

Tournament director Adam Barrett said CBS officials had a commitment to show the basketball.

"They stayed with our match for as long as possible, forgoing their pre-NCAA tournament coverage and delaying the start of the Michigan-Florida tipoff in an attempt to complete its broadcast of the match," Barrett said in a statement. "Although we wish the match could have been shown in its entirety, we understand that these situations do arise."

CBS viewers missed a dramatic finish. Murray became the first Key Biscayne men's champion to save a championship point.

"Both of us fought as hard as we could, both struggling physically at the end," Murray said. "I just managed to come through."

Murray also won the title in 2009. His path to this year's championship was made easier because Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal skipped the tournament and Novak Djokovic lost in the fourth round.

Murray made a breakthrough last year by winning an Olympic gold medal and his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open. He'll now move ahead of Federer to No. 2 in the rankings behind Djokovic.

The No. 3-seeded Ferrer, who was seeking the biggest title of his career, fell to 0-13 against top-five players in finals. Spaniards are 0-6 in the Key Biscayne men's final, with Nadal losing three of those matches.

But Murray sang the praises of Ferrer, a frequent practice partner.

"He's one of the best players in the world," Murray said. "Every time I play against him, people expect me to win. I say it's so tough against him. He has a great attitude and is a great fighter."

Murray lives 15 minutes from the tournament site, near downtown Miami, and trains in South Florida. But the sellout crowd was firmly behind Ferrer.

"Playing here in Miami is like when I play in Spain," Ferrer said during the trophy ceremony.

"I'm sorry," he added, managing a chuckle. "I'm so sorry. One point. Next time."

Playing in sunny, 80-degree weather, Murray and Ferrer both appeared drained in the third set, which started with six consecutive service breaks.

Murray was a point from defeat serving at 5-6. When he hit a forehand on the line, Ferrer stopped to challenge the call. A weary Murray leaned on his racket while replay confirmed the ruling to make the score deuce.

"That's the beauty of the challenge system," Murray said. "In some matches, it would have been over. Luckily it just dropped in."

He won the game to hold two points later, then raced to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker. At 4-1, a 28-stroke exchange ended with Ferrer pulling a backhand wide, and he then crumbled to the concrete, apparently from leg cramps.

Ferrer limped through the final two points. When Murray hit a return winner for the victory, he quickly dropped his racket, eager to call it a day. The two exhausted finalists then met at the net to trade pats on the back.

The final match of the men's tournament was the longest.


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Saturday, 30 March 2013

AN APPEAL is being made for volunteers to donate their cars to a sharing scheme

Splitting the costs of driving
Swindon Advertiser
AN APPEAL is being made for volunteers to donate their cars to a sharing scheme. Co-wheels is an organisation that allows people to hire out a car by the hour. Following on from the initial success of the scheme in Swindon, they are looking to expand ...
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Swindon Advertiser

VFW riding in first car show
Those interested in sponsoring or selling their products and services at the show, should send an email to Organizers are also accepting donations of products/services for raffles during the car show and potential donors can ...
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2 new results for donate a car


Good place to donate a car | Portland | Yelp
I haven't seen it yet but I'm not optimistic about the condition it is in. Dose anyone know of a charity I can donate the car to that will tow the car from the police…

Humane Society Receives House Donation - Donate A Car
Out of the blue, the Humane Society of El Paso received a surprising yet welcomed donation from an army veteran. The low-keyed veteran willed his home to the ...


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Friday, 29 March 2013

Florida wins 62-50 to end FGCU's NCAA run

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — SEC champion Florida is going to its third straight NCAA regional final, while the improbable tournament journey for Florida Gulf Coast is over.

The Eagles, the No. 15 seed few people even knew of on Selection Sunday, had their season ended just before midnight Friday with a 62-50 loss to one of the big schools from Florida.

The high-flying team from "Dunk City" jumped out to an early 11-point lead. But the No. 3 seed Gators (29-7) and their roster filled with NCAA tourney experience were just too strong and too good. FGCU matched its season low for points.

Michael Frazier made a pair of 3-pointers from the left side, in front of the Gulf Coast bench, to start a 16-0 run late in the first half. Those were Frazier's only baskets of the game, but they came during a 4½-minute span when the Eagles (26-11) suddenly couldn't even get off a shot. They missed their only field goal attempt while turning the ball over four times in that span.

That slump finally ended when Sherwood Brown, their dreadlocked senior showman, made a layup in the final minute to get Florida Gulf Coast back within 30-26 by halftime.

But FGCU players walked down the steps off the raised court at Cowboys Stadium at the break with their heads down — much different than the team that looked so loose and ready for a good time after an early 11-0 run — similar to extended spurts they had in upsetting No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 seed San Diego State.

The Gators play Michigan in the South Regional final at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. They are trying to get to their first NCAA Final Four since consecutive national championships in 2006 and 2007.

Michigan overcame a 14-point deficit earlier Friday and beat No. 1 seed Kansas 87-85 in overtime.

After the Gators turned up the defensive pressure, the most fun team this side of the Harlem Globetrotters was suddenly having a lot fewer laughs. Those high-flying dunks and alley-oops weren't there and Florida forced 20 turnovers.

FGCU heads back to Fort Myers (aka Dunk City), where they have man-made lakes and a beach on campus, having given the tournament a blast of fresh air while its players were just having a blast. The south Florida state school also got about the best free publicity its administrators could ever hope for.

Mike Rosario led the Gators with 15 points, while Scottie Wilbekin had 13 and Casey Prather 11.

Brown led FGCU with 14 points, and Chase Fieler had 12.

Fieler started the Eagles' big run, the only one they'd have, with a 3-pointer from the top of the key before the kind of plays that earned their "Dunk City" moniker.

After Brett Comer stole a pass, he ran down the court and threw up an alley-oop pass for the trailing Brown, delivering a slam that sent the announced crowd of more than 40,000 into a frenzy — except for those in Gator orange.

Comer then flipped another backward pass to Bernard Thompson for a 3-pointer. Then Fielder had another 3-pointer — less than 3 minutes after the first one — for a 15-4 lead only six minutes into the game.

Could the first No. 15 seed to make it into the round of 16 actually go further?

Not against Florida, the team that had been here so many times before. The FGCU run came too early, leaving the Gators plenty of time to recover.

After Frazier's second 3, Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield — the gap-toothed coach married to a former model — was angry when he called timeout and gathered his team together. The timeout and another attempted lob pass inside didn't stop the Gators surge.

Rosario knocked away the pass inside to Eric McKnight, sending the break the other way. Casey Prather grabbed an offensive rebound, and with his back to the basket, basically flipped the ball over his head and it went in.

McKnight missed two free throws after that, and Wilbekin penetrated for a short jumper to tie the game at 24. Rosario hit a go-ahead 3-pointer after a steal by Will Yeguete.

Eddie Murray had a steal for Florida Gulf Coast, but Patric Young took it right back and got it to Boynton. He made the layup while being fouled, and added the free throw for a 30-24 lead.

The Eagles has 12 turnovers in the first half — one less than they had in each of their first two NCAA tourney games. They took twice as many shots (32-16) as Florida, but that wasn't enough.

There was still 10 minutes left on the halftime clock when FGCU returned to the court, and players started taking shots even as their mascot was on the court doing a halftime routine.

But Florida scored the first seven points of the second half. Boynton drove for a layup and was fouled before making the free throw. Rosario then drove for a shot off the glass and after another FGCU turnover had a floater that rattled in before Enfield called timeout with his team suddenly down 37-26.

But they never threatened and soon their NCAA run was over.


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Pat Riley to Danny Ainge: Shut up

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Miami Heat President Pat Riley has added another chapter to his rivalry with the Boston Celtics.

After LeBron James complained about calls and Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge chided him for it, Riley lashed back Friday night.

Riley's response: "Danny Ainge needs to shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team."

This saga started Wednesday after Miami's 27-game winning streak ended in Chicago. James told reporters that night that he does not believe some of the hard fouls he takes are "basketball plays." A day later, Ainge told Boston radio station WEEI that "it's almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating."

Riley was clearly irked, calling Ainge "the biggest whiner going when he was a player."

The Heat and Celtics play April 12 in Miami.

Miami beat New Orleans 108-89 on Friday night, with James leading the way with 36 points. When informed afterward of the statement, James said he appreciated Riley having his back.

"That's who we are," James said. "We ride together, all of us, from the top to the bottom. We all protect each other on and off the floor and it was big-time to see that."


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Burke leads improbable Michigan rally over Kansas

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Trey Burke scored all 23 of his points after halftime, including a long, tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation, and Michigan rallied to beat Kansas 87-85 in the South Regional semifinals Friday night.

The fourth-seeded Wolverines wiped out a 10-point Kansas lead in the last 3 minutes of regulation, and Burke gave them their first lead since early in the game with another long 3 to open Michigan's scoring in overtime.

Michigan (29-7) reached the regional finals for the first time since the Fab Five era 19 years ago, the last time they were in the round of 16.

Ben McLemore had 20 points to lead the Jayhawks (31-6), who looked to be on their way to a third straight regional final before Michigan's improbable rally.

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What if: Women's coaches weigh in on 1-on-1 games

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey laughed at the idea. Then, after giving it a little thought, declared herself the winner of a mythical NCAA women's tournament in which coaches played 1-on-1 to determine the winner of each round.

Like her Lady Bears, who are four games away from winning a second straight national championship, Mulkey feels she'd be a heavy favorite to win a coach versus coach tourney as well.

She might have a tougher time than Baylor, as there would be some really stiff competition from LSU's Nikki Caldwell and South Carolina's Dawn Staley, who had stellar playing careers. For once, Geno Auriemma (UConn) and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford) might not be the favorites to make the Final Four.

In fact, it might be tough for them to even make it out of the first round.

"Bring me the biggest, slowest, tallest, whichever one you want, I'd make them have to guard me outside the paint," Mulkey said. "And then defending the biggest, tallest, strongest, I'd take charges on them all day. I wouldn't let them back me down there."

The Associated Press threw out the scenario of a 1-on-1 hoops tournament to coaches from around the country — essentially forcing them to rate each other as players.

Many paused for a minute from their game preparations to entertain the notion. Always analytical, they tried to come up with reasons to pick their favorites. Mulkey, Staley and Caldwell were the overwhelming top choices, while Auriemma and VanDerveer didn't get much support.

"I'm going to be competitive and I'm going to do whatever I can. I was that type of player and probably still am if I was out there," Caldwell said. "Just coming from a program, where I went to Tennessee, if you're coming to the dance, let's dance. So if there's a 1-on-1 tournament, let's go."

Gender didn't even factor in coming up with favorites.

"You don't even need to mention the male coaches. None of them had any careers," Mulkey said laughing. "Name me one male coach that was any good in college basketball. Can you think of any?"

Maybe Mulkey is lucky that Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves wasn't on her side of the bracket. The 6-foot-5 Graves played college basketball at New Mexico.

"I'd figure out a way to compete," she said. "I'd be the one getting on their last nerve."

Auriemma, who played in high school and junior college, might have to employ the same strategy.

"I would really like to know what kind of player Coach A was," said former UConn star and current broadcaster Rebecca Lobo. "On occasion, he would grab the ball and demonstrate what he wanted the guards to do and he looked a bit silly when dribbling. My guess is that he wouldn't stay on the court too long. ... His mouth would get him T'd and tossed pretty quickly."

Unlike Auriemma, Mulkey had quite the playing career at Louisiana Tech, helping guide the team to the first NCAA championship in 1982.

Mulkey's own players differ on how their fiery coach would do. Brittney Griner agrees with her coach thinking she'd win the title. Point guard Odyssey Sims had a different view.

"I don't think coach Mulkey is going to make it very far," Sims said laughing. "She doesn't play any defense, so I'm going to say — I'll give her one or two, then she's going home. If you can do all the scoring and you're playing no defense, then it defeats the purpose."

Prairie View A&M coach Toyelle Wilson liked her chances against Mulkey in the opening round. Her team lost by 42 to Baylor to start the NCAAs. It was easy for her to come up with a strategy against Mulkey, since she wouldn't have to worry about facing Griner.

"I'd be digging on her and pressuring her and hopefully forcing her to take some fadeaway shots, kind of like how Brittney (Griner) makes people take those type of shots," Wilson said.

Wilson doesn't believe Mulkey's claim that she can't "shoot a lick."

"I think that's some sort of trickery that she's putting up and making me stay off her so she can take some set shots," said Wilson who played at Manhattan College. "I would start out pressuring her, just like she teaches her players."

Staley was a star at Virginia before going on to the ABL and WNBA. She also helped the U.S. win three Olympic gold medals, including one in 1996 under VanDerveer.

VanDerveer admitted that the format wouldn't be the best for her. But always the competitor, she'd be ready if it ever did happen.

"I'm not a 1-on-1 player," she said. "Even with the piano, I like duets."

Cal Poly coach Faith Mimnaugh was a great player for Loyola of Chicago in the early '80s. She still is in the NCAA top 10 in assists for a single season.

Mimnaugh picked Caldwell to advance from her region and if Caldwell were to meet Mulkey, who beat Mimnaugh out for the point guard spot on the 1984 Olympic team, she'd pick the LSU coach.

"Kim Mulkey was a great player, but if she had to go against Nikki, Nikki would throw all of her stuff," Mimnaugh said, waving her arm like she was ready to block a shot.

Seeding the bracket would be a new challenge for the selection committee.

"We'd need footage of people playing to accurately seed," selection committee member Kathy Meehan said laughing. "It would certainly spice up the brackets. I'd like to see that.

"Some of our student-athletes would love to see it. They'll see how much the coach's demeanor as a player carries over to the way they coach."


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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Coaches survive show-cause orders

Few words are less welcome to college basketball coaches than "show cause," shorthand for the NCAA penalty designed to keep those sanctioned for misconduct at one school from quickly jumping to another campus.

Yet an Associated Press review of infractions cases since 2000 found that show-cause orders tend to have a sharply uneven impact.

Of the 44 former men's basketball coaches given show-cause orders since 2000, at least 25 found other basketball jobs, usually after the orders expired. Some remained involved with big-time programs, while others labored in obscurity at junior colleges, high schools or AAU programs. A few have found second acts in the NBA or as TV analysts.

Head coaches hit with show-cause orders tend to fare far better than the assistants deemed complicit in their misdeeds, the AP found.

Take former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl. A three-year, show-cause order in August 2011 for lying to NCAA investigators about improperly hosting recruits at his home didn't keep him from joining ESPN as a college basketball analyst little more than a year later. That was after a stint at Sirius Radio.

Former Pearl assistant Steve Forbes, who was handed a one-year order, is head coach at Northwest Florida State College. His top assistant is Jason Shay, who also left Tennessee with a one-year show cause. Tony Jones, a third Pearl assistant who received a one-year order, is a preps coach in Alcoa, Tenn.

Washington State assistant Ray Lopes joined the Cougars in May 2012 after a pair of show-cause orders given to him for making hundreds of impermissible recruiting phone calls — first at Oklahoma from 1995 to 2002 under Kelvin Sampson, and then again as Fresno State's head coach several years later.

"Many, many doors were shut on me out of fear, because of the show-cause tag on my resume," said Lopes, who started his climb back to the college ranks as an associate coach in the NBA D-League. "I was basically not worth taking a chance on, even though I had developed a pretty good reputation. None of that seemed to matter ... I almost gave up hope."

Under the penalty, schools that want to hire coaches with active show-cause orders essentially must prove to the NCAA that the rule-breaker has made amends. If not, any broader sanctions levied against the offender's former school can carry over to the new employer.

Former New Mexico State assistant Fletcher Cockrell left coaching for law school after receiving a 10-year order in 2001. The NCAA found that former Aggies coach Neil McCarthy agreed to hire Cockrell from Jones County Community College in Mississippi if he steered two of his JUCO players to Las Cruces. The NCAA also found Cockrell guilty of academic fraud by providing test answers to the two players.

"I'm doing quite well," said Cockrell, now a Houston attorney. "I'm OK, trust me."

So is Sampson, who is now an NBA assistant with the Houston Rockets following previous jobs with the Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs. He declined to comment for this story.

The punishment has a long history. According to the NCAA, the University of Nebraska-Omaha received the first show-cause penalty in April 1963 — an institutional penalty after the football team played in an unsanctioned postseason game. A decade later, the NCAA handed down what appears to be its first show-cause penalty against an individual, when the athletic director at what was then known as Bloomsburg State College in Pennsylvania was found to have improperly raised scholarship money from outside boosters.

Show-cause orders are more prevalent now, with the NCAA issuing more than 100 overall since 2000, covering sports from football and basketball to baseball, soccer, track, swimming, golf, rugby and rowing. Ten such orders were handed down in three of the past five years, with the penalties' duration ranging from two months to 10 years.

And coaches aren't the only ones hit. Recent show-cause orders have been issued against tutors, volunteer coaches, graduate assistants, secretaries, athletic directors, compliance officers, faculty athletic representatives and directors of operations.

The NCAA was unable to provide more detailed statistics that could further help assess the impact of show-cause orders, including the number of times its Committee on Infractions has heard requests from show-cause coaches to work elsewhere — as well as the number of times such requests were allowed or denied.

Rod Uphoff, a member of the infractions committee since 2009, said NCAA punishments tend to mirror the criminal justice system, where judges consider a range of penalties depending on the severity of the violation and the history of the offender.

"Sometimes, with youthful assistant coaches who seem to be operating under the (influence) of a head coach, the committee may be more sympathetic than with an assistant coach who's been around for 20 years and ought to know the rules better," he said.

Uphoff, a University of Missouri law professor, said the committee employs show-cause orders not to run off unscrupulous coaches, but to put future employers on notice.

"They need to ensure that there are safeguards in place so that this person won't be tempted to violate the rules in the future," he said. Uphoff added that he couldn't recall a single case during his tenure of a show-cause employee or a prospective new boss petitioning the committee for another chance.

Of course, programs outside NCAA oversight don't need to seek such permission. Former Radford coach Brad Greenberg got a job in June 2012 leading Maccabi Haifa, a pro basketball team in Israel, mere months after receiving a five-year show cause order for misleading NCAA investigators looking into improper benefits for athletes.

Two Greenberg assistants coach high school teams in Virginia and Florida. His former director of basketball operations coaches at a Virginia military academy. Each received two-year orders.

Others, however, struggle to recover from show-cause orders, years after the penalties expire.

Twelve years after receiving a three-year order for reportedly watching recruits during a pickup game, former Buffalo coach Tim Cohane is suing the NCAA in federal court over what he calls a botched investigation in which his former players were threatened with losing their scholarships if they didn't incriminate their former coach.

Cohane is now associate head coach at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, a Division III school. He's also an adjunct law professor whose online faculty bio says he attended law school to "be able to represent student-athletes and coaches against the (NCAA)."

Kent State coach Rob Senderoff, a former Sampson assistant at Indiana, successfully petitioned the infractions committee in November 2008 to allow his hiring as an assistant at the school where he had previously spent four years despite a three-year show cause order for his role in the impermissible phone calls case.

Former Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy, now retired, joined Senderoff at the committee hearing in a show of support. Kennedy's successor then hired Senderoff as head coach in 2011.

Like Lopes, Senderoff acknowledged his mistakes — though both pointed out that the NCAA in January agreed to allow coaches to make unlimited calls and send as many text messages as they want to recruits who have completed their sophomore year of high school. The association now plans to reconsider those changes in response to a swift backlash from some football coaches and athletic directors, including those in the Big Ten.

"I certainly am in the minority," Senderoff said. "I do think you can survive and bounce back from it. I don't know if I would have been able to go to another place. I'm more than grateful. I understand how fortunate I am."


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Griner has 3 dunks, Baylor women rout Florida St.

Brittney Griner certainly knows how to provide a farewell to remember — and an embrace Baylor coach Kim Mulkey will likely never forget.

There were three impressive dunks on a night Griner almost could have had more in her final home game.

"Tonight felt like senior night. Tonight was better," Griner said. " The three dunks. Just going out the way we did. Not everybody's lucky, and we were. We gave the crowd a good game."

Griner had 33 points and a career-high 22 rebounds, along becoming the first woman with three dunks in a game, as the defending national champion Lady Bears rolled past Florida State 85-47 Tuesday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

With former President George W. Bush part of the crowd packed into the Ferrell Center for the final home game of Griner's impressive career and four other seniors, the 6-foot-8 two-time All-American delivered in spectacular fashion — with one dunk before halftime and two more in a 79-second span right before coming out of the game for good.

"It's always exciting to see when Brittney dunks. I always get excited. We always get excited," junior point guard Odyssey Sims said. "Everyone gets pumped. It's nothing we've never seen. She's just phenomenal."

Brooklyn Pope had 12 points for Baylor, which has won a nation's-best 57 games in a row at home. Sims had 11 points and Kimetria Hayden 10.

The Lady Bears (34-1) are in the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth year in a row. They play Louisville (26-8) on Sunday night in Oklahoma City.

Griner's opening slam came on a break after a Florida State basket. Freshman guard Niya Johnson passed ahead to Griner, who took one step without a dribble before slamming it home with 4 minutes left in the first half for a 43-18 lead — sending the partisan crowd of 9,652 into a frenzy as she ran down the court with her mouth open and clearly enjoying the moment.

But she wasn't finished.

Bush had already left his front-row seats behind the Baylor bench when Griner had the last two dunks. She dunked again on another pass from Johnson with 7:46 left in the game, then had an assist on the next possession before her last dunk with 6:27 left — when she grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-pointer, and went back up with a reverse slam.

During a timeout less than a half-minute later, Griner came out of her final home game for the Lady Bears.

While the crowd gave her a loud and lengthy ovation, Griner shared an extended embrace with Mulkey — and picked her coach up off the ground. After putting Mulkey down and going down to the end of the bench, Griner thrust both arms into the air to acknowledge the cheers.

"I've had lots of those from Brittney. You just hope she doesn't squeeze the air out of you so you don't pass out," said Mulkey, describing the shared moment as "just joy."

Mulkey fought back tears as the ovation continued for Griner.

And to imagine Griner might have had more dunks.

Griner looked like she was going for another slam when she was fouled by 5-foot-2 Yashira Delgado. There was later the pass from Pope that sailed over Griner's head when she was open and headed toward the basket.

When the game was over, Griner again held both arms in the air. She took a couple of laps around the arena floor, with Baylor cheerleaders following her, then jumped onto the back of Shanay Washington for a piggy-back ride before then returning the favor to her close friend and former teammate whose career ended early because of multiple knee injuries.

Since the senior trio of Griner, Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden got to Waco as freshmen together, Baylor is 71-2 at home. Griner has played in only one loss since she didn't participate in the last home loss, against Texas in the 2009-10 regular-season finale.

The Lady Bears have won every home game the past three seasons — since Sims arrived and when transfers Destiny Williams and Pope, the other seniors, started playing.

Leonor Rodriguez had 11 points and was the only player in double figures for Florida State (23-10), which at the end of the regular season was the only of the 343 Division I teams with five players averaging in double figures.

"Certainly, it's not an easy task to come into this environment and ask your kids to be able to block it all out," Seminoles coach Sue Semrau said.

As for Semrau's impression of Griner: "She is better in person. You've got to credit her development and growth."

The first one-handed slam for Griner came late in the first half of a game that got lopsided in a hurry. The Lady Bears scored the game's first 11 points, even without a field goal from Griner in that opening 3½-minute onslaught.

Only six other women have ever dunked in a college game. That group had 15 dunks combined, three less than Griner's career total. The most dunks by anyone else was the seven by Tennessee's Candace Parker. Griner has six in NCAA tournament games the last two seasons, and 11 overall as a senior.

Griner relished her few minutes on the court after the game ended.

"Happy for the win. How the game went. Happy just seeing the crowd. They've been great since I've stepped on the court," Griner said. "They've always come out to support us. Seeing the crowd pack the Ferrell out, stand up and cheer for all the seniors. It was just a great feeling. I'm definitely going to miss it. "


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Monday, 25 March 2013

Tampa Bay Lightning fire coach Guy Boucher

The Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Guy Boucher on Sunday.

Assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching responsibilities for Sunday night's game at Winnipeg.

"Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done," general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. "But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise."

Tampa Bay is next to last in the Eastern Conference with a 13-17-1 record. Boucher was hired as the Lightning's seventh coach on June 10, 2010.

Boucher's dismissal came one day after the Lightning fell behind by four goals in the first period of a 5-3 loss at Ottawa.

The Lightning appear headed toward missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season after reaching the Eastern Conference finals during Boucher's first year.

Tampa Bay entered this season with postseason aspirations after adding goalie Anders Lindback and defensemen Sami Salo and Matt Carle. Lindback and team captain Vincent Lecavalier have been among the players sidelined by injuries.

Boucher's hiring was Yzerman's first major move as GM. Boucher had only one year of professional coaching experience, none on hockey's highest level. But Yzerman was not deterred from making him the league's youngest coach, saying the 38-year-old had adapted to the players, personalities and level of play he encountered at every stage of his career.

Boucher was a junior league coach for three years before taking over the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal's top minor league affiliate. He led Hamilton to the second-best record in the AHL then turned down a chance to coach the Columbus Blue Jackets.


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Friday, 22 March 2013

Haas shoots 66 to take early lead at Bay Hill

Bill Haas wanted to make up for his bad finish in the opening round at Bay Hill. He did that and more Friday.

Haas kept bogeys off his card for a 6-under 66, taking a one-shot lead among the early starters in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Haas not only hit 15 greens in regulation, he didn't have a putt for par longer than 4 feet.

He was at 9-under 135 going into the weekend, one shot head of John Huh, who had a 66.

Justin Rose, the first-round leader after a 65, and Tiger Woods were among those playing in the afternoon as the temperatures finally warmed.

Haas was challenging for the lead on Thursday until he had to settle for par on the easy par-5 16th. He hit into a back bunker on the par-3 17th for a bogey and finished his round with a three-putt bogey from 8 feet.

"So to leave, basically giving two away, my goal today was try to get those two back and go from there," Haas said. "That was kind of my mindset today, and then I was able to keep it going."

Phil Mickelson won't be around for the weekend. He four-putted from 5 feet on the 13th hole for triple bogey, and whatever hopes he had of making the cut ended when his tee shot sailed left on No. 9 and went out of bounds. Mickelson closed with a triple bogey and a 79, his highest score ever in 48 rounds at Bay Hill.

It was his first missed cut since the British Open last summer.

"There is a huge discrepancy between the low scores and the high scores," he said. "Obviously, I played terrible and I deserved to shoot a score like this. But I felt like if I hit good shots, I could make birdies."

In his five previous years playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he had only one round in the 60s.

"I just felt pretty good coming in," he said.

His game felt good. His neck remains a nuisance.

Haas said he hurt his neck while picking up a towel last month, though he referred to it as a sore neck instead of an injury.

"It's not bad," he said. "I can honestly play. I can make a full turn. It's just sometimes when you look to the left it kind of tightens in the back of the neck. It's not anything that's a big deal. When you're playing poorly, it hurts. When you're playing well, it doesn't hurt. It's not so bad. Today it felt good."

Ken Duke (68) and J.J. Henry (67) were at 6-under 138, while the group at 139 included Vijay Singh and Mark Wilson.


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UPDATE 1-Golf-European Tour Malaysian Open scores

March 22 (Infostrada Sports) - Scores from the European Tour Malaysian Open at the par-72 course on Friday in Kuala Lumpur


played rounds

-10 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand) 9 65

-9 Wu Ashun (China) 18 67 68

Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) 18 67 68

-8 Edoardo Molinari (Italy) 5 66

-6 Liang Wenchong (China) 18 70 68

Scott Jamieson (Britain) 18 66 72

Lee Slattery (Britain) 18 68 70

Alexander Noren (Sweden) 5 69

Gregory Bourdy (France) 3 66

-5 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain) 18 72 67

Prom Meesawat (Thailand) 18 68 71

Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) 18 69 70

Alastair Forsyth (Britain) 18 69 70

Joonas Granberg (Finland) 18 71 68

Anders Hansen (Denmark) 9 66

Lee Sung (South Korea) 8 68

Peter Lawrie (Ireland) 3 68

Adilson Da Silva (Brazil) 2 68

Victor Dubuisson (France) 0 67

-4 Matteo Manassero (Italy) 18 69 71

Bernd Wiesberger (Austria) 18 71 69

Raphael Jacquelin (France) 18 70 70

Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (France) 18 70 70

Padraig Harrington (Ireland) 6 69

David Howell (Britain) 5 69

-3 Prayad Marksaeng (Thailand) 18 69 72

Gavin Kyle Green (Malaysia) 18 73 68

Jeev Milkha Singh (India) 18 71 70

Ignacio Garrido (Spain) 18 70 71

Fredrik Andersson Hed (Sweden) 7 68

Chinnarat Phadungsil (Thailand) 7 70

Thomas Aiken (South Africa) 5 71

Wade Ormsby (Australia) 4 70

Marcus Fraser (Australia) 4 69

Joost Luiten (Netherlands) 2 69

Oliver Fisher (Britain) 1 69

-2 Alvaro Quiros (Spain) 18 75 67

Robert-Jan Derksen (Netherlands) 18 72 70

Gunn Charoenkul (Thailand) 9 71

Angelo Que (Philippines) 9 70

S. Murthy (Malaysia) 8 67

Mikko Ilonen (Finland) 7 70

Simon Khan (Britain) 6 71

Mo Joong-Kyung (South Korea) 5 71

Andrew Dodt (Australia) 4 69

Emiliano Grillo (Argentina) 4 70

Mark Foster (Britain) 3 69

Marcus Both (Australia) 2 69

Tommy Fleetwood (Britain) 0 70

-1 Kim Gi-Whan (South Korea) 18 70 73

Mohammad Siddikur (Bangladesh) 18 71 72

Thitiphun Chuayprakong (Thailand) 18 72 71

Alejandro Canizares (Spain) 18 72 71

Jorge Campillo (Spain) 18 72 70

Danny Chia (Malaysia) 6 71

Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark) 3 71

Berry Henson (U.S.) 2 71

Masanori Kobayashi (Japan) 2 72

Jaakko Maekitalo (Finland) 0 71

0 Richard Green (Australia) 18 74 70

Scott Barr (Australia) 18 75 69

Jbe Kruger (South Africa) 18 73 71

Baek Seuk-Hyun (South Korea) 18 72 72

Johan Edfors (Sweden) 18 76 68

Romain Wattel (France) 18 75 69

Shiv Kapur (India) 8 72

Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand) 7 73

Stephen Gallacher (Britain) 7 71

Julien Quesne (France) 7 72

Luke Donald (Britain) 7 74

Lee In-Woo (South Korea) 5 71

Scott Hend (Australia) 5 74

Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 4 73

Matthew Baldwin (Britain) 3 71

Mardan Mamat (Singapore) 2 70

Tony Lascuna (Philippines) 1 72

Phillip Price (Britain) 0 72

1 Shukree Othman (Malaysia) 18 73 72

Darren Beck (Australia) 18 72 73

Joel Sjoeholm (Sweden) 18 74 71

Gaganjeet Bhullar (India) 18 72 73

Daniel Chopra (Sweden) 18 74 71

Jyoti Randhawa (India) 18 71 74

Rikard Karlberg (Sweden) 18 72 73

Lorenzo Gagli (Italy) 18 75 69

Steve Webster (Britain) 8 71

Chan Yih-Shin (Taiwan) 5 72

2 Ricardo Gonzalez (Argentina) 18 70 76

Tsai Chi-Huang (Taiwan) 18 74 72

Felipe Aguilar (Chile) 18 72 74

Richard Finch (Britain) 18 76 70

Mithun Perera (Sri Lanka) 9 75

Zaw Moe (Myanmar) 7 73

Ramasamy Nachimuthu (Malaysia) 7 70

Digvijay Singh (India) 6 72

Thomas Levet (France) 6 73

Anirban Lahiri (India) 5 74

Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) 2 75

3 Kwanchai Tannin (Thailand) 18 75 72

Siva Chandran Supramaniam (Malaysia) 18 72 75

Nicholas Fung (Malaysia) 18 72 75

Daisuke Kataoka (Japan) 18 74 73

Simon Dyson (Britain) 18 75 72

Pariya Junhasavasdikul (Thailand) 18 75 72

Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand) 6 70

David Lipsky (U.S.) 3 75

Park Hyun-Bin (South Korea) 1 74

Ricardo Santos (Portugal) 0 75

4 Gregory Havret (France) 18 74 74

David Gleeson (Australia) 18 73 73

Jonathan Moore (U.S.) 18 75 73

Panuphol Pittayarat (Thailand) 18 76 72

Solomon Emilio Rosidin (Malaysia) 5 77

Arnond Vongvanij (Thailand) 4 74

Anthony Kang (U.S.) 2 74

Kieran Pratt (Australia) 2 76

James Morrison (Britain) 2 76

Airil Rizman (Malaysia) 0 76

5 Peter Hedblom (Sweden) 18 73 76

S.S.P. Chowrasia (India) 18 77 72

Maarten Lafeber (Netherlands) 18 73 76

Arie Fauzi (Malaysia) 18 75 75

Shaaban Hussin (Malaysia) 9 75

Akhmal Tarmizee (Malaysia) 9 78

Juvic Pagunsan (Philippines) 5 78

Kemarol Baharin (Malaysia) 0 77

Azman Basharudin (Malaysia) 0 77

6 Christian Cevaer (France) 18 75 75

Gareth Maybin (Britain) 18 77 73

Gerry Norquist (U.S.) 18 75 75

Jason Knutzon (U.S.) 5 75

Unho Park (Australia) 2 78

7 Chawalit Plaphol (Thailand) 18 71 80

David Drysdale (Britain) 18 79 72

Ben Fox (U.S.) 18 73 79

Kenneth De Silva (Malaysia) 18 74 77

Rashid Ismail (Malaysia) 9 81

Hanafiah Jamil (Malaysia) 0 79

8 Robert Coles (Britain) 18 79 73

Periasamy Gunasegaran (Malaysia) 18 76 75

M. Sasidaran (Malaysia) 2 79

9 Shingo Katayama (Japan) 18 75 78

Kim Kyung-Tae (South Korea) 18 78 75

Elmer Salvador (Philippines) 18 75 78

10 Javier Colomo (Spain) 18 77 77

11 Kalle Samooja (Finland) 18 76 79

Low Khai Jei (Malaysia) 9 82

13 Himmat Rai (India) 18 76 81

Abel Tam (Malaysia) 18 76 81

21 Mohd Afif (Malaysia) 18 83 82

71 WDW Chris Wood (Britain) 71

72 WDW Tetsuji Hiratsuka (Japan) 72

77 WDW Jose Manuel Lara (Spain) 77

82 WDW Chinnaswamy Muniyappa (India) 82

WDW Chapchai Nirat (Thailand)

WDW Namchok Tantipokhakul (Thailand)


-9 Wu Ashun (China) 67 68

Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) 67 68

-6 Liang Wenchong (China) 70 68

Scott Jamieson (Britain) 66 72

Lee Slattery (Britain) 68 70

-5 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain) 72 67

Prom Meesawat (Thailand) 68 71

Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) 69 70

Alastair Forsyth (Britain) 69 70

Joonas Granberg (Finland) 71 68


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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Donald struggles in Malaysia, Thai Kiradech leads

Luke Donald's Malaysian Open debut got off to a feeble start on Thursday with the world number three, the biggest name in the $2.75 million European Tour event, carding an opening round two-over-par 74 in Kuala Lumpur.

Big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, battling a thyroid problem, sank four birdies on each nine for a seven-under-par 65 to grab the lead before lightning forced an early end to play.

Donald arrived from the U.S. on Tuesday morning following his tied fourth place finish in last week's Tampa Bay Championship and playing his back nine first, struggled in the heat at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

"It was hard work, I got off to a very slow start," said the Briton, who parred his first hole before a hat-trick of bogeys put him on the back foot at the Asian Tour co-sanctioned event.

The seven-time winner in Europe responded with three birdies on the front nine but could not keep the stretch blemish-free, dropping two shots on the par-four second.

"I think if you are a little bit off on this course it can eat you up at places and I wasn't quite in control and when I did have opportunities I wasn't able to make them on the greens."

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington made a strong start with a three-under-par 69 while Frenchman Gregory Bourdy birdied five of his first seven holes en route to a six-under-par 66. A score later matched by Italy's Edoardo Molinari and Dane Anders Hansen.

Kiradech bettered them all, despite the ailment which necessitated holding back from blasting his tee shots to preserve energy.

"The weather is too hot and the thyroid disease is making me feel tired," said the 23-year-old Thai seeking his maiden European Tour victory.

Starting on back nine, Aphibarnrat turned in 33, reeled off three birdies in a row from the third and signed off by picking up another shot at his last.

"Honestly, I didn't have enough energy to hit long drives. I'm still taking medication for my thyroid condition and I'll consider going for operation when I consult my doctor in six months," Kiradech told reporters.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shone in the truncated afternoon session with birdies on the third and fourth before he eagled the long fifth to turn in a four-under 32.

Briton Scott Jamieson matched Schwartzel's outward 32 and eagled the 10th to join the group at six-under before play was suspended.


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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

QB Manning considers reworking contract for Cruz

Quarterback Eli Manning will consider reworking his contract if it will help keep leading receiver Victor Cruz on the New York Giants.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP indicated Wednesday at a sponsor event that the Giants haven't asked him to redo his contract to open cap space. However, he said he would consider anything that helps the team.

"I want Victor back with the Giants," Manning said, adding that he checks the newspapers every morning to make sure that Cruz has not signed with another team. "It is nerve-racking. He is anxious. He has been dealing with this contract issue for a long time, last year and into this year. I know he wants to get this settled and get back to playing football, and just worrying about that."

The Giants recently allowed Cruz to enter restricted free agency, placing a first-round tender ($2.87 million for 2012) on the popular local product from Paterson, N.J., which is about 10 miles from MetLife Stadium. New York has the right to match any offer he receives. It would receive a first-round draft choice as compensation if he leaves.

Cruz recently dumped his agent and signed with Tom Condon, Manning's agent. Manning quipped that he has even sent Condon a couple of texts regarding the talks between Cruz and the Giants.

"Get this done!'"

Realistically, Manning said he has not interfered in the talks between Cruz and the Giants. He has talked with Cruz, but it was more the usual offseason stuff about how are things going and telling him to be ready to go to work on April 15 when offseason training starts.

Manning is not opposed to reworking his contract, which runs through 2015. His cap value will be close to $21 million this season.

"If the Giants want to work something out," the 32-year-old Manning said, "I am always up for listening, figuring out what I can do to help the cause."

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots agreed to a three-year contract extension in late February that freed up nearly $15 million in salary cap room. That didn't prevent Wes Welker, his leading receiver, from signing with the Denver Broncos, a move that will make him a target for Eli's brother, Peyton.

Eli Manning insisted that no matter what teams offer, the final decision will be with Cruz, who broke the team's single-season record for yards receiving in 2011. He had 86 catches last season for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"I think he likes being here," Manning said about Cruz. "I think he fits very well into our offense. I think he realizes what he's been able to do and the success. You never know, if you go to another offense, maybe it doesn't fit as well to your style. He fits very well here, and hopefully he stays here."

Manning feels the Giants have done a good job in the free-agent market, retaining left offensive tackle Will Beatty and signing Oakland tight end Brandon Myers.

"My job is to play," he said., "and (team management's job) is to put the right team out there."

Speaking at the owners' meeting in Phoenix, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he was staying optimistic that Cruz would re-sign.

"That's my position on that," he said. "I don't speculate in any of the other ways."

Manning has spoken with receiver Hakeem Nicks and expects him to be ready for the offseason after an injury-plagued year. He believes that second-year running back David Wilson has the talent to replace Ahmad Bradshaw, but that the team has to figure out how to use his abilities.

Manning started his offseason training program in mid-February. That's about two weeks earlier than usual, but the Giants (9-7) missed the playoffs last year after winning the Super Bowl the year before.


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NCAA investigating Syracuse; Report

Syracuse has been under investigation for possible NCAA violations, mostly in its basketball program, for at least a year, according to two media reports.

CBS, citing an unidentified source, reported Wednesday that the school has received a letter of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA.

The Post-Standard reported NCAA investigators have been conducting interviews with Syracuse employees and former employees. The newspaper said the investigation includes the handling of former player Fab Melo's academic eligibility.

In 2012, the star center was declared ineligible for the NCAA tournament days before it started.

"Same story they had last year at this time," coach Jim Boeheim said in San Jose, Calif., before the Orange played Montana in their opening game of the NCAA tournament. "I guess that's annual. I guess next year we'll get it again."

Boeheim would not answer any specific questions about the report but said he wasn't bothered by the timing of it on the eve of the tournament.

"We're concerned about playing Montana," he said. "What people write or say, you know, there's 30,000 people in the Dome yelling at me all the time. People yell at their television sets. I tell them I can't hear them, but they still yell at them. There's no distractions for me. And these players, there's absolutely no distractions for them. They're here to play Montana and that's it."

The school also acknowledged last year that the college sports governing body had inquired into old allegations that players were allowed to practice and play despite being in violation of the school's drug policy.

This season, forward James Southerland sat out six games during the season for an academic issue.

CBS Sports reported the investigation is not related to sexual assault allegations made against former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine in 2011. Federal authorities in November dropped their investigation into one of the sexual abuse claims that cost Fine his job.

Point guard Michael Carter-Williams said this was the first he heard about the NCAA probe.

"I don't have any idea what it's about and I'm sure my teammates don't know anything or I would have heard," he said. "To be honest, we are going to avoid any distractions and just focus on our game. When you get to the tournament no games will be easy."

School spokesman Kevin Quinn declined to provide details.

"As we said last year at this time, we are collaborating with the NCAA as part of an ongoing inquiry. Given this process is ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time," he said.

An NCAA spokeswoman also declined comment.


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'Only one playboy at Playboy, and that's Hef'

Welcome to BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all your NCAA tournament needs.

Today, we have The Rock, the world's ugliest tie, the sneakiest coaching move of the season — from France; what, you were expecting John Calipari? — and the answer to the question on everyone's mind with the games that matter still two days away: Will Hef be watching in a smoking jacket surrounded by Playboy bunnies?

But first, we simulate the entire tournament so you don't have to.



When Associated Press sportswriter Noah Trister volunteered to sit in one place and watch the NCAA drama unfold from start to finish, we worried that as a Princeton man (Class of '01), he might not know some teams actually play more than one game before heading home.

So to conserve energy, we told him to skip the play-in games — here's all you need to know: North Carolina A&T 73, Liberty 72; Saint Mary's 67, Middle Tennessee 54.

Then we offered to equip him with this , this , and one of these .

But he took a pass and let us in on his secret instead, a website called You can simulate any tournament matchup you want there, complete with play-by-play and a boxscore, or the whole shebang in just under two hours. Let's go right to the highlights:

Creighton star Doug McDermott provides the first are-you-kidding-me moment, a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bluejays a 79-76 win over Cincinnati. ... Pacific shoots 9 of 14 from 3-point range to bounce No. 2 seed Miami in the biggest upset of the round of 64. ... No. 10 Colorado beats top-rated Indiana in the East regional final (Trister: "Yes, you read that correctly"), and No. 9 Wichita State shocks third-rated New Mexico (on Malcolm Armstead's trey with 1 second left) to win the West. ... The other top seeds, Louisville and Kansas advance out of the Midwest and South, respectively.

On to the Final Four:

Louisville 68, Wichita State 58. Kansas 71, Colorado 44. (Time saved to this point: 17 days and counting.)

And the championship game April 8:

Kansas leads 42-40 at halftime, then goes on a 7-0 run to stretch the lead to 64-52. Louisville cuts the deficit to eight with 4:48 left on a 3-pointer by Wayne Blackshear. But the Cardinals don't score again. Jeff Withey scores 16 and grabs 13 rebounds to close out Kansas' 77-63 victory. Cue "One Shining Moment."

Now go here:

And don't forget to turn out the lights.



The Rock was in London the other day, doing what The Rock does, though usually not at tournament time — walking the red carpet at the premiere of another of his everything-gets-blown-to-smithereens-by-the-end movies, in this case "G.I. Joe: Retaliation."

And man, does The Rock ever know about retaliation.

Born Dwayne Johnson, he's the son and grandson of pro wrestlers (both grandparents, in fact, on his maternal side), and the old WWF is where he made his name and boatloads of money before making the segue to the silver screen.

What many people don't know is that Johnson was also a big-time football prospect who got a full ride to the University of Miami back when the Hurricanes were pillaging everything in sight across the college landscape. Then he got hurt and future NFL star Warren Sapp stepped into his place — think Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig — so Johnson collected his championship ring (1991) and his degree (Class of '92), took up with the woman who became his wife and lit out for Calgary in the Canadian Football League.

"Fast & Furious" doesn't begin to describe that stint; it lasted two months.

Now fast-forward to Monday, when AP entertainment and lifestyles producer Reetu Rupal was waiting in the rain — naturally, we're back in London now — to find out whether The Rock, who takes March Madness very seriously, had time to fill out his bracket.

Feel free to add your own inflections, accents and gestures to the following brief conversation.

Rupal (who is British and reading the questions off a list we sent him): "Are you following March Madness?"

The Rock: "Yes."

Rupal: "And who are you rooting for?"

The Rock (nostrils flaring): "Who do you think? Who would you think?"

Rupal: The Miami.

The Rock (thrilled): The Miami Hurricanes! Exactly. We're doing amazing, I'm very, very proud of my team."

Rupal (now thrilled as well): And have you filled out your bracket form yet?"

The Rock: "I have not, no."

Rupal: "Do you know who's going to be in your Final Four?"

The Rock (even more thrilled): "I can tell you who's going to be my No. 1!"

Rupal, on the other hand, has yet to pick a team. Or get more excited.

"Don't really know much about it, I'm afraid," he said. "But it sounds like fun "



Not everybody on the other side of the Atlantic, of course, is still learning the game. This is the story of one guy who apparently learned too much for his own good.

His name is Laurent Sciarra, and he's a former French national team player who now coaches Rouen in France's second division. With the clock running down and his team tied at 84 with Boulogne Sur Mer in a recent game, watch what he tries to get away with at around the 30-second mark here: .


That's right. He tries to steal the ball from a Boulogne player, but gets caught and whistled for a technical foul. The two resulting free throws cost Rouen the game. But the best part is how Sciarra, like some pro wrestler, denies the whole thing and then fakes outrage the refs would dare accuse him of something so silly.

Which raises the question: Where is The Rock when you really need him?



If you're dreading to see whether some of teams show up for the tournament dressed in the same Phyllis Diller-inspired uniforms they trotted out in the regular season, relax. It can't get much worse than this: .

Now, if you dare, go back and read the second commenter.



For some reason, the idea that Hugh Hefner would be padding around the Playboy mansion in LA late at night, keeping track of the progress of his beloved Illini (Class of '49), seemed reassuring. So we asked AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode to investigate.

She couldn't get past CEO Scott Flanders, but he was thrilled to talk about the tournament. Flanders grew up Indianapolis, went to Colorado for his undergrad degree, then moved back home for law school at Indiana. So he's got two very promising rooting interests to keep track of in the tournament and almost as good, hated rival Kentucky is nowhere to be found.

"If Kentucky played the Russians, I d be for the Russians. And for them not to make it after winning last year," he savored the moment, "is delicious."

Great. But what about Hef?

"He is not a big sports fan. I would say he likes what the girls like. He watches a lot of popular TV, like 'Dancing with the Stars,' and his real passion is vintage movies," Flanders said. "Now he s married and he watches what Crystal likes to watch."


So Rexrode asked Flanders whether he'd don one of the founder's trademark smoking jackets and surround himself with bunnies because ... well, just because he can.

"There s only one playboy at Playboy, and that s Hef.' he laughed. "I ve gotten a few smoking jackets as gag gifts from people, but no."

No playmates, either?

"Hef s job," Flanders replied. "He still picks every playmate, every month."

Apparently that's what keeps him up late at night.



No matter what you call the tournament-opening games — play-in or First Four — they're rarely as close as the first game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty. Over the previous 10 NCAAs, only 6 percent of those were decided by three points or fewer, or in overtime.

But if that game was the start of a trend, research by STATS suggests fans who stress easily might want to load up on Kava Kava or Valerian Root (since we only prescribe herbal remedies here at BracketRacket). Because once the round of 64 kicks into gear Thursday, the number of close games rachets up to 17 percent, then 23 percent for all the subsequent rounds combined.



"I don't even understand it, like who cares if I go to the grocery store, I went to the cleaners this morning? Get a life," — old-school Saint Louis University coach Jim Crews on why he doesn't use Twitter.

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