Samstag, 28. Juli 2012

Celtics-Heat on opening night of the NBA season (Yahoo! Sports)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Miami's championship defense will begin where they won last season's title, and the first game for the Brooklyn Nets will be at home against their now-crosstown rival.


Andrew Brackman A.J. Burnett Steve Garrison Phil Hughes Damaso Marte

2012 Central Florida Knights Football Predictions and Futures Odds


You know what the best football program in the Sunshine State was in 2010?

That would be the University of Central Florida (located in Orlando for those who don’t know).

I’m not saying UCF would have beaten Florida State or Florida (but probably Miami and USF) that year, but the Knights did win Conference USA and beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl to finish 11-3. UCF finished the season ranked for the first time and won its first bowl game. It was by far the best season for a school that has produced the likes of Brandon Marshall, Asante Samuel and Daunte Culpepper.

Thus, expectations were extremely high for coach George O’Leary’s club heading into 2011, with UCF the overwhelming conference favorite and a potential BCS bowl buster.

However, the season was a disaster.

Central Florida finished 5-7 overall and 3-5 in C-USA. To be fair, six of the seven losses were by a touchdown or less, so it’s not like the team was that bad. But reports of major NCAA violations (also in basketball) rocked the program, and it is still awaiting word from the NCAA on penalties after self-imposing some.

The athletic director and a wide receivers coach accused of the violations stepped down in November. As of now the school is still eligible for postseason play, but reports say a decision from the NCAA could come very soon.

But even with possible penalties looming, expectations are again sky-high at UCF, as the school enters its final season in Conference USA before joining the Big East in 2013.



O’Leary’s name will always be recognized by some because of what happened with his fudged resume at Notre Dame, but the guy can coach. This program was a national no-name when he arrived in 2004, but now it’s moving into a BCS conference (well, the Big East is a BCS conference for the time being) and the school built a gleaming new stadium on campus.

There was massive turnover on his staff this offseason—the entire defensive staff is new.

The biggest move was at defensive coordinator. O’Leary lured Ted Roof from Auburn to replace the fired John Skladany, but then Roof left after just a month to take the same job at Penn State. So Jim Fleming, who had been hired in December as linebackers coach, was promoted to coordinator.



In 2010, Jeffrey Godfrey was one of the top freshman QBs in the nation, leading UCF to that school-best season. He was named Conference USA's Freshman of the Year and a freshman All-American.

But 2011 couldn’t have gone more awry.

Godfrey struggled on the field and was implicated in the whole Nevin Shapiro mess, as Godfrey is from Miami and was a highly-touted recruit. Godfrey’s father also spoke out, basically saying that O’Leary undermined Godfrey last season and Luther Campbell (yes, that Luther Campbell), a mentor to Godfrey, called O’Leary a racist. Godfrey quit the team in December and was going to transfer.

Yet Godfrey, amazingly, is back on the team – now as a wide receiver.

Blake Bortles is the unquestioned starter after splitting time with Godfrey last year. Bortles, who doesn’t run like Godfrey could, completed 68.2 percent of his passes as a redshirt freshman along with six touchdowns and three interceptions, but didn’t actually start a single game. But by the end of the season, he was playing more than Godfrey, so the writing was on the wall.

The Knights should be stacked at running back with Brynn Harvey and Latavius Murray back—they combined for 1,124 yards and 11 TDs on just 224 carries—and the addition of transfer Storm Johnson. He was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2010 but left Miami after his freshman season and sat out last year.

All three leading receivers also return, and UCF welcomes freshman and potential star WR Breshad Perriman, whose father Brett was a star at Miami and played for a decade in the NFL.

The line is very experienced and adds transfer Phil Smith, who used to start at Georgia Tech.



The move to fire Skladanay was somewhat surprising considering this unit performed very well statistically in 2011. The Knights defense ranked No. 11 nationally in total defense (303 yards allowed per game), No. 10 in scoring defense (18.3 points allowed per game) and No. 19 in rushing defense (108.8 yards allowed per game), leading C-USA in all. 

However, O’Leary said the statistics didn’t tell the entire story and basically said the defense failed to deliver critical stops late in games and didn’t force enough turnovers. Plus, that group was No. 100 in the nation in sacks.

But it should again be the best in the conference with eight starters back, despite the loss of First Team All Conference USA cornerback Josh Robinson, who left school early and was drafted in the third round by the Vikings.

2012 Central Florida Knights Schedule Analysis

The Knights have what should be two lock wins on the non-conference schedule in Akron and Florida International (although FIU beat UCF last year), but also probably two losses at Ohio State and home vs. Missouri.

It wouldn’t stun me, however, if the Knights upset the Tigers, considering UCF has the week off prior and Mizzou has to play at South Carolina the week previous.

The C-USA schedule shapes up nicely as UCF gets the two other likely East Division top teams, Southern Miss and East Carolina, in Orlando. And the Knights don’t play West Division favorite Houston during the regular season. Marshall and Tulsa figure to be the toughest road tests, but running the table during C-USA play is doable.


2012 Central Florida Knights Futures Odds

The Knights are plus-250 favorites to win Conference USA and plus-115 favorites to win the East Division, according to 5Dimes. UCF “over/under” wins totals: 7.5 (over the minus-400 favorite), eight (over the minus-260 favorite), 8.5 (both minus-110).


2012 Central Florida Knights Football Predictions

Last year’s slide was a bit of a fluke considering UCF was 0-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less (plus 0-6 on road). But presuming that Central Florida will be eligible to play in the conference title game, I believe the Knights finish the regular season at 9-3 and win the C-USA title (East Division is a lock) as no team has more overall talent.


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How UNC athletes found suspect classes

Ever since the University of North Carolina revealed in May that football and basketball players made up a high number of enrollments in 54 suspect African-American Studies classes, a major question has been: how did so many athletes end up there? According to a report released Thursday by a special faculty committee looking into the academic fraud scandal, academic counselors assigned to help athletes likely had a hand in that push. According to the 13-page report, which was authored by three professors: "Although we may never know for certain, it was our impression from multiple interviews that a department staff member managed to use the system to help players by directing them to enroll in classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department that turned out to be aberrant or irregularly taught.


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Olympic Swimming Results 2012: Ryan Lochte Dominates Field in 400-Meter IM

American Ryan Lochte lived up to the hype, crushing countryman Michael Phelps and the rest of the 400-Meter Individual Medley field to win his first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics.

It was an absolutely dominant performance from Lochte, who finished with a time of 4:05.18. He was less than two seconds off the world-record pace, and he beat second-place finisher Thiago Pereira by more than three seconds. 

Lochte was in control from start to finish, but he really separated himself during the breaststroke portion of the medley. With his long and powerful strides, he exploded away from the pack, securing the gold medal before the race was even half-way over. 

While Lochte cruised to the easy victory, Phelps delivered a highly disappointing performance. 

Despite setting the world-record in this event four years ago, Phelps failed to medal on Saturday. He finished in fourth place with a time of 4:09.28, more than four seconds behind his compatriot and rival. He lost out on the bronze medal—which was won by Kosuke Hagino of Japan—by just over three-tenths of a second. 

Although it was an unimpressive display from Phelps, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. He barely even qualified for Saturday's finals after finishing eighth in the prelims. He secured the final spot by just seven-hundredths of a second, and even though he improved his time on the big stage, he wasn't even close to surpassing Lochte. 

The supposed duel between Lochte and Phelps has been the most-hyped storyline of the 2012 Olympics, but unless Phelps dramatically improves in the coming days, Lochte will become the new swimming icon in America. 


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Video: Rick Pitino on Big East, Jay Bilas

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino sits down with Andy Katz to talk about the massive changes in the Big East and one more he would like to see for the future: Jay Bilas as conference commissioner. Tune in Friday night at 11 and 11:30 p.m. ET as a dozen more coaches join Katz Korner on ESPNU. The lineup: Bill Self (Kansas), Rick Barnes (Texas), Dave Rose (BYU), Rick Ray (Mississippi State), Richard Pitino (FIU), Scott Drew (Baylor), Jay Wright (Villanova), Billy Donovan (Florida), Johnny Jones (LSU), Brad Brownell (Clemson), Frank Martin (South Carolina) and Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee).


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LA Clippers sign veteran F Ronny Turiaf (Yahoo! Sports)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Veteran big man Ronny Turiaf has signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.


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Forum Maintenance Scheduled For Today


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3-point shot: Calipari expects Noel soon

1. Kentucky coach John Calipari said during our Thursday taping of Katz Korner on ESPNU that incoming freshman center Nerlens Noel should be finishing up his two last classes and be eligible and on campus next month. Noel reclassified for the 2012-13 season and had to finish his degree requirements before he could attend Kentucky. So Noel wasn’t able to participate in any of the summer workouts since he was prohibited from finishing his requirements anywhere but back in high school.


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A Closer Look At The Schedule (22 Back To Backs)


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London Opening Ceremony 2012: Highlights From Olympics Kickoff

The opening ceremony in London for the 2012 Summer Games can be summed up in six words: Danny Boyle, you are a genius. 

The British filmmaker best known for the movies Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire put all of his creative juices into this monumental task, and the end results were stunning.

As you would expect, the show was a visual treat. From the Olympic rings of fire to the amazingly choreographed fireworks to the picturesque representation of Great Britain (including rolling hills and pastoral animals), Boyle's presentation was magnificent.

The show was also littered with bits of humor, including a Mr. Bean appearance. He did his usual shtick, but if you're like me, you loved Bean's shtick.

Another particularly funny aspect was that one of the actors came out dressed from head to toe in a bubble...which was then rolled over the crowd to be passed around like you'd see in a mosh pit at a rock concert. 

David Beckham looked dapper as he gave Jade Bailey and the Olympic torch a lift in a sweet speedboat. 

Queen Elizabeth II made an appearance...with James Bond (played, of course, by none other than Daniel Craig). 

The lighting of the torch was breathtaking, as usual.

The Arctic Monkeys covered the Beatles, David Bowie both gave the crowd a musical treat and then Paul McCartney finished up the show with a lively version of "Hey Jude" that got the crowd roaring. 

All in all, Boyle nailed it. He put on a spectacular show that rivaled the brilliant display we were treated to in Beijing four years ago. 

Now it's time for the Games to begin.



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Freitag, 27. Juli 2012

Boston Celtics Daily Links 7/26


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7 Hottest American Olympians at London 2012 games (photos)

  USA Gymnast Alicia Sacramone: national icon of 2012 London Olympics Lolo Jones and Kerri Walsh do Fitness Magazine photo shoot, interview Kerri Walsh, USA olympic volleyball star: photos and bio Kelci Bryant, US Diving: photos and bio 4 hottest members of U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team: PHOTOS Alex Morgan, USA Women’s Soccer Olympics Photo [...]


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Star UNLV freshman OK to play

Few things excite a fan base like the addition of an elite, top-10 recruit; freshmen of that caliber cause widespread epidemics of optimism. They are rebirth personified. But few things can be more deflating for a fan base than learning that such a player, despite all his talent on the court, isn't eligible off it. The NCAA clearinghouse says the player doesn't have the grades or the courses or the academic standards required to compete, and the player goes on the shelf for up to a year, a "partial qualifier" who can practice and get started on studies but can't actually, you know, play basketball.


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Wolves sign Russian, ex-Jazz standout Kirilenko (Yahoo! Sports)

FILE - This Sept. 18, 2011 file photo shows Russia's Andrei Kirilenko going to the basket against a Macedonian defender during the European Basketball Championship bronze match against in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed free agent Kirilenko, bringing the versatile forward back to the NBA after a one-season absence.  (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis, File)

Andrei Kirilenko is returning to the NBA, this time with Minnesota.


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What We Learned in the First Week of Baltimore Ravens Training Camp

The Baltimore Ravens rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reported to training camp on Tuesday, with full-team camp opening on Thursday. Though there has been just two days of practices thus far, there are already useful bits of information filtering out of Owings Mills.

Here's what we've learned in the first days of the Ravens' 2012 camp.


LT Bryant McKinnie a No-Show and He May Never Come Back

Left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie did not report to Ravens training camp on Thursday with what has been described as a "personal issue" and head coach John Harbaugh doesn't sound too confident about his return.

Harbaugh said that usual right tackle Michael Oher will line up on the left for the foreseeable future and that they are on the hunt for a new starter on the right.

On Thursday, undrafted rookie Jack Cornell, Ramon Harewood (who spent the last two seasons on injured reserve) and recently-added tackle Cord Howard (who hasn't played in an NFL game since 2010) lined up with the starting offense while veteran Jah Reid sat out with a calf injury and second-round draft pick Kelechi Osemele didn't participate after suffering from back spasms.

Osemele was cleared for practice on Friday and has been splitting time with Cornell. If the Ravens indeed do lose McKinnie, this puts them in a difficult situation. They were already lacking depth around the offensive line to begin with and now two of the three players who could start at right tackle are rookies, while the other—Reid—has never started a game. Howard and Harwood are wild cards in this battle.

Look for the Ravens to try to find a more workable solution at tackle as camp progresses. Unfortunately, the free-agent talent pool at tackle is extremely thin, so developing one of their three remaining tackles into a reliable starter will be a huge priority in the coming weeks.

The Ravens also announced they have begun fining McKinnie $30,000 per day of camp he misses.


PUP List and Injury Update

To open camp, four Ravens were listed on the active PUP list: offensive tackle/guard Kelechi Osemele (back spasms; he's since been cleared), defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee), Jah Reid (calf) and wide receiver David Reed (knee).

Nose tackle Haloti Ngata also wound up on the PUP list after tweaking his hamstring, leaving him unable to complete the conditioning test. Ramon Harewood, who also spent time at right tackle when Oher was shifted left, rolled his ankle on Thursday. 

Cornerback Lardarius Webb, who participated fully on Thursday, did not take the field on Friday and little is known about why. Reserve offensive guard/center Justin Boren was also absent from the field on Friday.

On the non-football injury list is linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles). The aforementioned McKinnie is now on the reserve/did not report list. 


Linebackers Update

Both Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain reported to training camp much lighter than they've been in recent seasons. Lewis says that he's now under 240 pounds in order to be faster and more versatile against the sped-up passing game we've seen of late.

McClain said he's also slimmed down to around 240 pounds, again in order to better cover receivers and improve his speed.

In regard to the battle for the linebacker jobs that belonged to the currently-injured Terrell Suggs and the departed Jarret Johnson, Paul Kruger is currently lined up in Suggs' spot at rush outside backer and rookie Courtney Upshaw in the run-stuffing strongside position.

So far, Upshaw hasn't looked at all in over his head. He drew praise from McClain, who said, "[H]e didn’t really make any glaring rookie mistakes because he was always on his P’s and Q’s. He knew where he had to go, and he got there and he got his job done."



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’12 Olympic team would beat ’92 ‘Dream Team’

Kobe Bryant sparked a huge debate a few weeks ago when he said that the 2012 Men’s Olympic Basketball team could beat the 1992 “Dream Team”. Michael Jordan laughed, Scottie Pippen said the ‘Dream Team’ would win by 25, and Charles Barkley called people “knuckleheads”. In all reality, the 2012 team is more athletic, explosive and has more ‘pure’ scorers than [...]


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Jason Terry Replaces Ray Allen (Sort Of)


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The Calm Before The Storm or Rangers Introduce "Totally Rossome Nachos"


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Pat Fitzgerald talks about Northwestern’s new Under Armour uniforms

Pat Fitzgerald had a great quote on dais at Big Ten Media Day: “some people have called me the youngest old-school person in the country, and I’m okay with that” He’s definitely earned it, as Northwestern has been to four straight bowl games, a first in school history. Their academic rating, APR is so high [...]


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3-point shot: Calipari expects Noel soon

1. Kentucky coach John Calipari said during our Thursday taping of Katz Korner on ESPNU that incoming freshman center Nerlens Noel should be finishing up his two last classes and be eligible and on campus next month. Noel reclassified for the 2012-13 season and had to finish his degree requirements before he could attend Kentucky. So Noel wasn’t able to participate in any of the summer workouts since he was prohibited from finishing his requirements anywhere but back in high school.


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Five freshmen to watch in the SEC

Editor's note:’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the SEC, click here. Five freshmen to watch in the league ... Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: He is the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country, the early favorite for 2013's No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, and the centerpiece of another massive talent haul for coach John Calipari and the Wildcats. He is purportedly one of the best shot-blockers we've seen enter the college stage in years -- including predecessor Anthony Davis.


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Public Service Announcement: Forums Will Be Down Wednesday Morning


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Donnerstag, 26. Juli 2012

2012/13 Schedule Announced


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LSB Midseason Community Prospect Ranking: #9


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Game 97 Game Day Thread


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Bracket reveal: Anaheim Classic

Tournament bracket for the 2012 Anaheim Classic When and where: Nov. 22-23, 25 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. Initial thoughts: On the surface, this isn’t a very sexy tournament but there are some intriguing teams here to keep an eye on. Now that VCU and Old Dominion have bolted, most everyone agrees that the CAA is Drexel’s league to lose this season. Still, Bruiser Flint knows well the need to build up a nonconference resume and wins here would help.


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#35 BYU Cougars: College Football 77 in 77

Last year was the first season of independence for the BYU Cougars; who responded by going 10-3 and winning a bowl game. They also had the 13th ranked defense nationally, to complement their usual vaunted air attack. What can Bronco Mendenhall do for an encore? Well the schedule gets increasingly tougher this year, but maybe [...]


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Olympic Basketball 2012: Non-NBA Stars Who Will Dominate at the Olympics

You might not believe this, but there are some good players who don't play in the NBA.

You just might see them in these Olympic games, and you just might wonder why your favorite team soldiers on with far inferior talents. The European way of life is a good one, and some legitimate talents simply don't want to leave. Also, some teams have tricky buyouts, which can deter NBA suitors. 

Great big men tend to find their way to the NBA, while some Euro perimeter threats never cross the ocean. NBA teams are less than enthused about rolling the dice on smaller players, even when they possess proven talent. This is why the D-League is full of guards, but totally lacking in big men. Teams can always find a roster spot for a center, even if he's a total stiff.

With the USA facing so many talented squads from across the pond, expect to see a few undervalued ball-handling threats.


Be sure to sound off and let us know what you think in the comments below. If you like what you see, click here for more from Bleacher Report Productions.


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Jazz agree to terms with guard Randy Foye (Yahoo! Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz have agreed to terms of a contract with guard Randy Foye.


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Boston Celtics Daily Links 7/25


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Magic Trade Rumors: Keeping Dwight Howard Would Push D12 to Mavs Next Year

Mark Cuban loves it.

According to the latest trade rumors, the Orlando Magic are clueless. The team continue to prolong the Dwight Howard-era in Disney World, and the longer that they do, the more likely D12 will be handed on a silver platter to the Dallas Mavericks next summer.

That’s exactly what Rob Hennigan is on pace to accomplish.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Hennigan somehow, someway believes that the Magic hold all the leverage. He’s perfectly content to wait for a satisfying offer.

Robbins wrote of the GM’s Wednesday meeting with Howard:

Hennigan has said for weeks that he's in no rush to trade Howard and that he will trade Howard only if the Magic receive a good offer for the perennial All-Star. Hennigan has said he has not ruled out beginning training camp and the regular season with Howard on the team's roster.


This is an identical game to the one the Magic played with Howard last season—how did that work out?

It didn’t.

D12 is still in Orlando, and if the Magic fail to deal him by the trade deadline again (crazier/more idiotic things have happened), the team will be left empty-handed.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that a source connected to the Hennigan-Howard meeting said of D12’s current desires: “Dwight remained unchanged in his want to be traded and he has no intention of signing another contract extension with Orlando.”

Considering that Howard has always been adamant that he wants to contend for a ring in a massive market, that news isn’t the least bit shocking. Orlando is a small market and the Magic aren’t a contender.

Dallas, on the other hand, is a semi-large market that boasts a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki. Throw in the fact that they’ll have more than enough cap room to sign Howard to a max contract next summer, and you should brace yourself for more unsurprising news.

According to Wojnarowski, Howard will indeed sign with the Mavs if he isn’t traded to the Los Angeles Lakers or Brooklyn Nets this year.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the pieces falling in place, but apparently Hennigan is blind. To his dismay, he has zero leverage and the longer that he holds on to Howard, the more likely D12 rocks a Dallas uniform in 2013.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.


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58-39 - Rangers Take Lumps, Come Away Victorious


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Toronto Maple Leafs: Reasons James Van Riemsdyk Is Not the Answer at Center

On June 23, 2012 the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired the services of American, James Van Riemsdyk in a trade that saw defenseman, Luke Schenn head in the opposite direction.

At 23 years old, Van Riemsdyk certainly has a promising future, but is he currently the answer at center for the Maple Leafs?

I think not.

Read on to hear a few of the reasons why Toronto made a big mistake putting all their eggs in his basket.

Begin Slideshow


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Timberwolves acquire F Cunningham from Memphis (Yahoo! Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired forward Dante Cunningham from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard Wayne Ellington.


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Mittwoch, 25. Juli 2012

Boston Celtics Daily Links 7/25


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Alex Morgan, USA Women’s Soccer Olympics Photo Gallery

London 2012 is just some 60 days away. Get ready for the Olympics as we profile some of the biggest Olympic names you need to know. Alex Morgan provided the dagger in the U.S. women soccer team‘s 3-1 victory against France in the World Cup Semifinals last summer when she got behind the French defenders [...]


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Cycling: Are Team Sky Really Willing to Let Mark Cavendish Go?

The outstanding success of Team Sky at the 2012 should perhaps have come as no surprise. The British team boldly proclaimed in its press release that its primary aim was to, “create the first British winner of the Tour de France, within five years.”

Better still, they have delivered on that lofty aim inside three years. It pays to dream big.

There is, however, a price to pay for such singular focus. Only one rider can win the Tour de France, but cycling is a team sport and within Team Sky are riders who could ordinarily demand the spotlight in any other team.

Cracks in the team started to appear during the Tour, with Chris Froome showing some frustration with team leader Bradley Wiggins on the mountain stages.

These small cracks were exacerbated by Tweeting WAGs defending their significant others in a now infamous spat during the Tour.

Australian sports website, The Roar, examined not only the sniping between the respective partners of Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, but also a contribution from Mark Cavendish’s partner and a reported division with the Sky camp that has Froome and Cavendish versus the rest.

Despite that, the team delivered a unified performance on the road—where it really counts—and played down the significance of any tensions.

Now, only days after their complete domination of the 2012 Tour, Sky are seemingly ready to say goodbye to Cavendish, the world’s best road race sprinter.

It was always going to be interesting to see how Cavendish managed to fit into a team with a focus on claiming the general classification win. His previous spot with the now defunct HTC Columbia saw a team built around his needs to claim the green jersey.

At Sky, he’s been relegated to a domestique who has a chance to claim the odd stage win.

He deserves better than that.

SBS Australia’s Cycling Central website reports that Cavendish has effectively been offered a free out of his three-year contract by Sky team boss, David Braislford.

“This team will keep its GC [general classification] ambitions and I am sure that we will sit down and discuss that with Mark and see how he feels about that. He is a prolific British winner and on the one hand we would love to have a prolific British winner on the team.

“We wouldn't fall out about it, there wouldn't be an issue about it, but we are very proud to have him on Team Sky; he is a fantastic champion and long may that continue. I can't see an issue at all, there's no problem and we will take the common-sense approach and sort it out like that.”

It was obvious to cycling pundits the world over that targeting wins in both the GC and points classifications was unachievable without having Eddie Merckx or Bernard Hinault in the team who can win both.

Despite the handicap of being forced to effectively fend for himself, however, Cavendish still secured three impressive stage wins, including the coveted win on the cobblestones of the Champs Elysees.

His power as a sprinter is unrivalled, and having him on the team almost guarantees to get the sponsor’s name in front of the cameras. There would be a number of teams who would jump at that opportunity.

The pro cycling year is so much bigger than the Tour de France.

Certainly, the Tour is the marquee event, but it would be unwise in the extreme for a team to base their entire season on winning that one race. Cycling is a cruel sport and things can, and do, go wrong in a big way—just look at the list of names who didn’t make it to the end of this year’s Tour.

Having Mark Cavendish as a second string to the bow may be a luxury, but it’s one that Team Sky would be foolish to let go.


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I'll continue to hope for something -- ANYTHING -- from Young over the last 2-3 months of the...


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Andrei Kirilenko Signs With Timberwolves After 1-Year Stint In Russia, According To Report


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Freshmen to watch in the Big 12

Editor's note:’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Big 12, click here. Five freshmen to watch in the league ... Isaiah Austin, Baylor: RecruitingNation has tagged Austin as the most-talented player in the Class of 2012. The 7-foot, 210-pounder is an elite shot-blocker on defense and incredibly versatile on the offensive end, with the ability to bring the ball up the court, make 3-pointers and drive to the hoop.


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Olympic Soccer Schedule 2012: 5 Matchups That Will Determine Group Winners

The 2012 Olympic soccer tournament features several big name teams from around the world, including Great Britain, Spain, Mexico and Brazil.

These teams also boast several star players, which ensures that this Olympic tournament will be better than the ones in years past.

There will also be plenty of underdogs and several unproven players wanting to unseat the top teams of the tournament.

Let’s take a look at five matchups that will help determine which teams advance as group winners.

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Wednesday A.M. Stuff


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2012 Olympics, Women's Football Tournament: Time, TV Schedule, Streaming And More


Baron Davis Blake Griffin Chris Bosh Mario Chalmers Dwayne Wade Brian Wilson

Alex Rodriguez Injury: Yankees Offense Will Easily Survive Loss of Superstar

At first glance it might seem like losing Alex Rodriguez would have a major impact on the New York Yankees offense. It won't. The Bronx Bombers will keep on slugging while the third baseman sits out with a fractured left hand.

Rodriguez has reached a point in his career where the expected and actual production don't match up. Based on name recognition alone he's still thought of as an elite hitter, but the numbers simply don't bear that out in his 19th season.

He's hitting just .276 with 15 home runs and 44 runs batted in through 94 games. His .806 OPS is lower than it has been in any season since 1995 when Rodriguez played only 48 games.

In other words, he's not the dominant force he once was at the plate. Instead of being a player that's expected to carry the offense on his back, he's just another piece of the puzzle for the Yankees at this point.

New York still has more than enough firepower in the lineup. Robinson Cano leads the way and has established himself as a strong contender for MVP. The talented second basemen is on pace for 37 home runs, which would smash his previous career high.

After Cano, the Yankees have Curtis Granderson, who continues to show off an impressive power stroke, and Mark Teixeira. The first basemen has rebounded from his usual early-season slump to post impressive numbers.

That trio will make sure the Yankees offense doesn't fall apart without A-Rod. When you consider the depth the lineup should still have without Rodriguez, it's possible New York won't even miss a beat.

Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez will all help pick up the slack during Rodriguez's absence. It also makes the acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki look better because he helps lengthen to lineup as well even though he's not the player he once was, either.

Veteran Eric Chavez will probably see a majority of the starts at third base. He's played 64 games this season and has posted respectable numbers with an OPS only eight points lower than the player he's replacing.

All told, losing Rodriguez shouldn't be a major concern to the Yankees. Certainly not as much as it would have been four or five years ago when he was still one of the best hitters in baseball. He isn't on that level anymore.

New York has enough star power and depth without him to put runs on the scoreboard at a high rate.



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Video: Katz, Gottlieb break down Big 12

To go along with our Summer Shootaround focus on the Big 12, Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb take an early look at the new-look conference with a familiar favorite.


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To Stay or Go? The Question Penn State Players Face Has No Wrong Answer

As Mark Emmert’s voice reached the anticipated ears of millions, the ramifications of Penn State’s 14 years of silence became abundantly clear.

Sixty million dollars in fines, 111 vacated wins, a four-year postseason ban and a massive loss in scholarships became a reality for the university. Despite expecting a bombshell, the actuality of the damage was still hard to comprehend.

While the case can be made that these penalties rival the often-discussed “Death Penalty,” the argument is meaningless. Penn State will have a chance to play football for the coming years. Fans will still show up to games. They will still be featured on a variety of networks up until postseason play begins. This much we know. Who will be playing in these games, however, is still very much up in the air.

As part of this process, the NCAA is allowing any current Penn State player a relatively small window to transfer (without punishment) before the season begins. The NCAA released a statement clarifying how this will work and some of the key points are as follows:

Football student-athletes who transfer will not have to sit out a year of competition. Any current football student-athletes who transfer to any NCAA school (all divisions) during the 2012-13 academic year will be immediately eligible, provided they are admitted through the normal process and are otherwise eligible.

Permission-to-contact rules are suspended. Penn State cannot restrict in any way a student-athlete from pursuing a possible transfer. Student-athletes must simply inform Penn State of their interest in discussing transfer options with other schools. Before communicating with student-athletes, interested schools also must inform Penn State of their intention to open discussions with the student-athlete.

If a student-athlete transfers for the fall of 2012 to a school that has reached its scholarship limits, the school may exceed these numbers for the 2012-13 academic year, provided it reduces such limits proportionately in the 2013-14 academic year.  For example, if one student-athlete transfers to a Division I school already at the legislated limits of 25 initial counters and 85 overall counters for 2012-13, the school will be limited to 24 initial counters and 84 overall counters in 2013-14.

If this were April, this process would be much more deliberate. With camps around the country set to open over the next few weeks, however, the timing of this ruling creates a frenzy for Penn State (who still has to fill a team), the players who may be looking for a fresh start and the head coaches that would welcome them with open arms.

Although a mass exodus was anticipated, thus far it hasn’t been the case. Many players, including starting quarterback Matt McGloin, have already pledged their commitment to the school.

The only player that appears to be headed elsewhere in the early days is offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki, who still has four years of eligibility remaining. All signs point to Illinois as his likely landing spot.

He will not be alone, and this decision should be welcomed and respected.

The term “free agency” feels callus given the circumstances, but in many ways this describes what Penn State is up against. Mark Emmert has given those in an unfortunate situation a way out, a rare pass out of their current surrounding. The entire roster is now completely in question.

The players that choose to stay—and it appears that there will be more than just a few—should be commended for their loyalty. It’s easy to say that we’d have a similar, admirable response, but thankfully we’ll never be in that situation. This is the easiest part of this process to accept, the most meaningful reaction in a troubling position.

And then there will be those that have had enough. Likely star players—maybe running back Silas Redd, who has already been linked to USC—or the younger players on the roster with plenty of eligibility remaining. They will turn in their jersey, jet off to another team and likely be in practice in a matter of weeks. Some perhaps even days. They, too, should be commended for their decision.

This isn’t your average transfer. This won’t be your typical farewell. The pressure that has been building, the freedom that is suddenly within reach, and you can’t fault a young man for wanting the experience he deserves.

They are not jumping ship or leaving a school in shambles. Let us not forget exactly how the walls came crumbling down. If their heart isn't there, then they shouldn't be either. I hope they crawl through the small opening before it closes and not feel the least bit guilty about doing so.

On the other side of this opening is a head coach with a sales pitch and a roster spot. They will be looked at as vultures picking away at the scraps on a still meaty carcass. Their magnificent smile and fresh playbooks will cater to those in need of something new, and despite the uneasiness of this entire aftermath, they are there to help those in need of a new environment.

Don’t mind their wide eyes and depth chart suddenly crafted in pencil. Regardless of their own intentions, their purpose is necessary to those who need them. And some certainly will.


Pat Burrell Jhan Marinez Anibal Sanchez John Baker Brad Davis Logan Morrison

Dienstag, 24. Juli 2012

Los Angeles Lakers: Has Jim Buss Finally Earned the Trust of Laker Nation?

One year into the post-Phil Jackson era, we've learned quite a few things about Jim Buss, the man calling the shots for the Lakers organization. And much to our surprise, Buss deserves more credit than blame.

For eight years, Jim Buss has been cast in dark shadows since becoming the Lakers' Executive Vice President of Player Personnel.

Dangerous and dim-witted, we all thought, based on his isolation from the media and his aloof relationship with former coach and championship captain Phil Jackson. 

Once Jackson finally retired from the game in 2011, Jim Buss was given the keys to the Lakers' castle and took center stage of the family business, much to the chagrin of Laker fans everywhere.

His first priority was to clear the Lakers' locker room of Phil Jackson's influence.

That meant Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen—Jackson's coaching disciples—were not given extensions in the wake of Jackson's retirement, and new blood—former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown—was immediately brought in.

Results of the coaching shake-up are still under evaluation, but it's clear the Mike Brown hiring marked the beginning of the Jim Buss era in Los Angeles.

Once Brown settled in, Buss swung for the fences in a move that would make any father proud.

The Chris Paul trade—a deal that was agreed upon by the New Orleans Hornets and Lakers management before NBA overlord David Stern stepped in at the behest of small-market owners—was our first glimpse into the vision Jim Buss had for his organization.

Not clouded by prior success, Buss knew his team's limitations (youth, point guard position) and would stop at nothing to make his team better—even if it meant dealing locker room favorites Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to acquire a youthful superstar in the backcourt.

The NBA made a one-sided power play and, as they say, the rest is history.

Despite never receiving consummation, Buss' first major move was quite brilliant. Yet Buss still had a lot more in store from the new corner office in El Segundo.

Free agents Josh McRoberts, Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy were all  brought in to start the 2011-12 season after the Chris Paul debacle to help strengthen the Lakers bench and address various team needs.

Suffice it to say, things just didn't work out for Buss' new additions.

But rather than sit by idly and have his name staked to the middling trio of Murphy, Kapono and McRoberts, Buss boldly pursued new moves of his own.

Bold midseason moves.

In March 2012, Buss acrimoniously showed the irreplaceable Derek Fisher the door, replaced him with 26-year-old Ramon Sessions and acquired young legs in big man Jordan Hill.

By shocking Laker Nation with major midseason moves, Buss showed that he understands the mortality of the current Lakers dynasty and that he'll stop at nothing to give his core group the best shot at winning another championship.

Buss also showed he's willing to acknowledge his mistakes and rectify them, rather than stubbornly stand by poor decisions in the name of pride and politics.

Yes, Murphy and Kapono were bad pickups, but it's nice to know that after one year, they aren't wearing Laker uniforms anymore.

These two bench players weren't responsible for the Lakers' second-round exit in the 2012 playoffs, but it was up to Buss and Laker management to search for moves that ensured a second-round exit would not happen again.

Which brings us to the current offseason.

After being "very disappointed" in last year's playoff exit (via ESPN), Buss and the Lakers made headlines this summer by acquiring future Hall of Famer Steve Nash to revitalize the point guard position and two-time All-Star Antawn Jamison to help bolster the bench.

Truth be told, it took a lot of luck for Buss to land Nash (e.g. retaining the Lamar Odom trade exception, Steve Nash and Jordan Hill sharing the same agent, Nash wanting to move to Los Angeles, close to his kids).

But without Buss' insistence and willingness to rework his roster, these blockbuster moves may have never happened.

In fact, it was Jim Buss who urged Mitch Kupchak to contact Steve Nash's agent after Kupchak was doubtful they could even acquire the All-Star point guard from their bitter division rival Phoenix Suns.

Buss struck gold this offseason and, begrudgingly or not, he's worthy of a little recognition.

Even if he is still slightly awkward with the media and prefers to maintain a low profile as the ultimate decision-maker, Jim Buss deserves credit for his persistent activity as an owner during his first year at the helm.

His management style relies on expert opinions and delegates throughout the organization, rather than taking defiant stances of his own, and he wholeheartedly makes decisions with the best interests of the Lakers at heart.

Buss' future moves will still be magnified with the same intense scrutiny as before, but his first year on the job has done well to allay many of the fears Laker fans had during the summer of 2011.

While still not perfect, Jim Buss has proven he's not as bad as you may think.


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7 Fantasy Football Picks That Will Impress Your Friends

While the main goal of a fantasy draft is to end up with the best compilation of fantasy producers, a popular secondary goal is to impress the other owners in your draft with your knowledge of the NFL and fantasy football. A clever pick is a small victory, and the best way to start your fantasy season is with a string of small victories.

Here are seven picks that will be sure to impress the other owners in your league. I have included their Average Draft Position (ADP) over the last month, provided by Fantasy Football Calculator.

Begin Slideshow


Kobe Braynt Andrew Bynum Jordan Farmar Derek Fisher Pau Gasol Lamar Odom

Penn State credit rating to be downgraded by Moody’s?

Moody’s investor rating service said yesterday that it may have to cut its credit rating on Penn State University as the school deals with the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse case, the Joe Paterno cover-up and the NCAA and Big Ten sanctions handed down on the school’s college football team. From Penn Live: [...]


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Boston Celtics Daily Links 7/24


Jhan Marinez Anibal Sanchez John Baker Brad Davis Logan Morrison Mike Stanton

Rockets trade G Lee to Boston (Yahoo! Sports)

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets will send Courtney Lee to the Boston Celtics as part of a multi-team, sign-and-trade deal, completed on Friday.


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Broncos Sign Brock Osweiler, Ronnie Hillman


Jerry Stackhouse J.R Smith Kenyon Martin Chauncey Billups Carmelo Anthony Tayshon Prince

Seattle Mariners option Justin Smoak to AAA


Paul Fiercer Rasheed Wallace LeBron James Ben Gordon Josh Howard Jason Terry

Gasol will be Spain's flag bearer at Olympics (Yahoo! Sports)

LONDON (AP) -- The Spanish Olympic committee says basketball player Pau Gasol will replace Rafael Nadal as the country's flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the London Games.


Jhan Marinez Anibal Sanchez John Baker Brad Davis Logan Morrison Mike Stanton

Celtics Pick Up Where They Left Off, Start 2012 Season in Miami


Luis Scola Jonathan Albaladejo Andrew Brackman A.J. Burnett Steve Garrison Phil Hughes

Rose eyeing return to court (Yahoo! Sports)

CHICAGO (AP) -- Bulls star Derrick Rose expects to return to the court soon.


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