Saturday, April 12, 2008

TYLER HARDWARESBROUGH

Tyler Hansbrough took one last bit of brass Friday night.

The North Carolina junior won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball's top player, giving him essentially a sweep of the season's individual honors, including The Associated Press college basketball player of the year award (pictured).

"It means a lot," said Hansbrough, who finished fifth in the voting for the award last year. "I was in just in such a great situation with coaches and teammates. I feel like I've improved so much."

He earned 4,653 points in the voting to beat out second-place Michael Beasley of Kansas State (4,402), who was followed by Kevin Love of UCLA (3,021), D.J. Augustin of Texas (2,266) and Stephen Curry of Davidson (1,936).

More than 1,000 national media and college basketball experts cast votes based on players' regular and postseason performances, character and academic performance. Unlike most player of the year awards, votes could be cast as late as the NCAA Tournament's regional round.

The NCAA title was the one trophy he was denied, which may influence his decision whether to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft. He has revealed very little about his plans for next season.

"I haven't decided," Hansbrough said. "I just haven't really had time. It's been so quick after the season. I haven't had time to get everything under control."

Hansbrough said he wasn't setting any hard deadlines, but said he plans to return to school and talk to Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

(AP Photo/Matt York)

GT BASEBALL PLAYER FOUND DEAD

Georgia Tech's baseball players and coaching staff were notified late Friday afternoon on the death of pitcher Michael Hutts, 21, of Dunwoody, Ga. Hutts was a junior in the College of Management.

Atlanta Police Department officials, in conjunction with the Georgia Tech police, were still trying to determine cause of death late Friday afternoon.

Friday night's game against No. 1-ranked Miami has been postponed.

TAKE THAT, BABE RUTH

Imagine the uproar if somebody had embedded a Duke tee-shirt in the foundation of the Dean Smith Center...

ESPN - Boston Red Sox fans know more than a little about superstitions -- and one apparently decided to share the anxiety with Boston's biggest rival.

Somewhere underneath all the concrete, steel and construction equipment at the new Yankee Stadium, a Red Sox T-shirt may be lurking to jinx the Bronx Bombers, according to the New York Post.

A construction worker and Boston fan working on the concrete crew at the $1.3 billion new Yankee Stadium buried a Red Sox shirt in with the concrete foundation under what will become the visitors' clubhouse, in the hopes of jinxing the New York Yankees' new home, the New York Post reported.

Two construction workers told the newspaper about the stunt on condition of anonymity.

"In August, a Red Sox T-shirt was poured in a slab in the visitor's clubhouse. It's the curse of the Yankees," one worker told the Post. "Nobody knows about it. It's in the floors, it's buried."

"I guess if the Yankees go 86 years in the new ballpark without a win we'll know if we are on to something," the second worker said, referring to Boston's title drought after the franchise sold Babe Ruth.

Those workers might not have anything to worry about: The team said Friday that the story, while intriguing, simply wasn't true.

"We noticed that the [New York] Post wrote a fun and interesting story about a T-shirt today -- but it never happened," the team said in a statement. "Yankee fans know that burying something in concrete in the basement is never a good thing.

"Memo to the Post: You're 10 days late for April Fool's Day."

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

SPRING FOOTBALL UPDATES START TODAY

Spring football is underway, and evidently Butch Davis is looking to give his Tar Heels an edge -- six shooters!

After averaging just under 100 rushing yards per game last season, Carolina is looking for some consistency out of the backfield this spring.

All three tailbacks -- Greg Little, Ryan Houston and Devon Ramsay -- got at least 10 carries to show what they could do on Monday in the final spring scrimmage. Together they accounted for 137 yards and three touchdowns.

Little, who spent the majority of last season at wide receiver, led the trio of backs with 51 yards on 11 carries.

"I kinda like this running back thing," he said. "I can definitely see myself being here, settling down in the running back position. I feel like I can make big strides there."

PICTURE OF THE DAY

GRAND SLAM SLAMMED SHUT...? There was a lot of pre-Masters Grand Slam talk for Tiger, but Woods is seven back of Immelman after a 71 Friday put him at 1-under-par 143. How far back is too far?

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY 2

BELIEVE IT OR NOT...These two images are related.

Spanish Dani Pedrosa rides his Honda during the third free practice session at the Estoril racetrack, on the outskirts of Lisbon, on April 12, 2008, on the eve of the MotoGP Grand Prix of Portugal.

(Photo by Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images)



Valentino Rossi, from Italy, plugs his hears Saturday, April 12 2008, during free practice for Sunday's Portugal Motorcycling Grand Prix at the Estoril circuit outside Sintra.




(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

CELEBRATE...Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 11, 2008 in Avondale, Arizona.

(Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

NO POACHING...Japanese Davis Cup players Takao Suzuki (bottom-R) and Satoshi Iwabuchi(bottom-L) in action during the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I Davis Cup second round doubles match against India's Leander Paes (top-R) and Mahesh Bhupati (top-L) , in New Delhi on April 12, 2008.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi put aside their growing differences to lift India into the play-offs of the Davis Cup world group for the first time in three years. The former world number one doubles pair defeated Japan's Takao Suzuki and Satoshi Iwabuchi 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to hand the hosts a decisive 3-0 lead in the Asia-Oceania group 1 second round tie.

(Photo by Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 5

FAKE HOOLIGANS...run in front of riot police ouside the St. Jakob Park stadium during a security and emergency drill, on April 12, 2008 in Basel. Switzerland and Austria are co-hosting the Euro 2008 football tournament in June 2008.

(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, April 11, 2008

ACC IN THE WNBA

The WNBA gathers no moss.

The NCAA Championship game was held on Tuesday night and the WNBA draft fired up on Thursday.

Two North Carolina women's basketball players were selected at the end of the first round of yesterday's WNBA Draft, although the order is somewhat surprising. N.C. State's Khadijah Whittington and Duke's Wanisha Smith went in the second round.

North Carolina's LaToya Pringle went 13th to the Phoenix Mercury, while Erlana Larkins was picked by the New York Liberty as the last pick of the first round.

Both players were first-team All-ACC, but Pringle's impressive NCAA Tournament clearly boosted the lanky forward's draft prospects over Larkins, who was a second-team All-America.
Candace Parker, who came out early after leading Tennessee to back-to-back NCAA titles, was the first overall pick of the draft, going to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Maryland's Crystal Langhorne (6th, Washington) and Laura Harper (10th, Sacramento) went in the first round, while Georgia Tech's Chioma Nnamaka was a second-round pick.

Whittington was taken with the 26th overall pick by the Indiana Fever, which would put State's 6-foot-1 forward on the same team as former Duke star Alison Bales.
Smith will join Larkins in New York as the 27th overall pick.

Georgia Tech's Chioma Nnamaka was selected 21st and Virginia's Sharnee Zoll 29th.

WNBA Commissioner Donna Orender presents a jersey to LaToya Pringle from the University of North Carolina, the number 13 over all pick by the Phoenix Mercury, during the 2008 WNBA Draft.

(Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE/Getty Images)

MIAMI'S HAITH GETS EXTENSION

Hats off to Miami Hurricanes coach Frank Haith. After a hellish 2006-2007 season, the ACC media pciked Miami to finish last in the ACC this year. The Canes responded with a 23-11 record and a win in the NCAA Tournament.
University of Miami President Donna Shalala and incoming Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt announced recently that Haith has signed a new five-year contract to run through the 2012-13 season. Terms of the contract were not released.

“Frank Haith has done a tremendous job in elevating the men’s basketball program into one of the premier teams in both the ACC and in the nation,” said Hocutt. “His character, dedication and relationship with his student-athletes and staff members are beyond reproach, and the University of Miami is proud to have one of the top young coaches in the nation.”

Haith has done one heck of a job transitioning the Miami program into the ACC. In their four seasons in the conference, they've been competitive in all but one of them. Attendance is high and their is much more of a buzz about the hoops team than the football program.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SELF STAYING PUT

Pay the man, Shirley!

Three days after winning the NCAA championship, Kansas coach Bill Self said no thanks to Oklahoma State, his alma mater, and agreed to a lucrative contract extension that could keep him at Kansas for the rest of his career.

"Home called," Self said. "And we love home. But this is home now."

The 45-year-old Self, an Oklahoma native who played for the Cowboys and was an assistant coach there at the beginning of his career, met with Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder Wednesday night for about two hours.

After conferring with Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins for several hours on Thursday, Self called Holder and told him of his decision.

"There was never serious interest on our part in leaving the University of Kansas," said Self, who has won 142 games, four Big 12 titles and a national championship in five highly successful seasons with the Jayhawks.

Perkins, at a news conference with Self and chancellor Robert Hemenway, declined to give details of the deal. But it will include raises for assistant coaches and an extensive upgrading of the school's aging facilities.

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

REDSKINS SIGN LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON

Just kidding...but they did sign receiver Jerome Mathis, a former Pro Bowl kick returner.

Mathis (Petersburg High School, Hampton U.) made the Pro Bowl as a returner with the Houston Texans in 2005, but he was injured for most of the past two seasons. He became a free agent this year when the Texans opted not to make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season.

Mathis has had two recent run-ins with the law. In December, he received a misdemeanor citation after his pit bull chewed through a fence and was behaving aggressively. In February, he was charged with assaulting his pregnant common-law wife, a charge that was later dropped at the woman's request.

Mathis, 24, broke the NCAA record for career kickoff return average at Hampton, averaging 26.6 yards. He also holds the NCAA record for career kickoff returns for a touchdown with six.

SORRY, MASTERS

We take back all those mean things we said yesterday about the old geezers who run the Masters. As mentioned, they do have a web site, but surprise-surprise they also have a BLOG!


Holy Titelist, Batman!

Here’s where it becomes perplexing…The good old boys of Augusta didn’t ask the players, their wives, their swing coaches or even their valets (that’s horse racing talk for clubhouse attendant) to blog for them (and you bet they all would have taken the time to do it ‘cuase who says no to the Masters?), but, instead, they chose comedian Will Durst (and some other dude named Tom Spousta). Durst is supposed to be the “non-golf focused regular guy.”


Now we can’t say for sure because we are on the outside lookin’ in, but we’re gonna guess that the stakeholders over at Mastersland skew decidedly Republican when it comes to politics. Not that politics has anything to do with sports (See Olympics, torch, China, Tibet, etc.)

However, their non-golf guy is a comedian who makes his living at bashing, among others, the sitting Republican President of these here United States. Could be trouble when word leaks out.
Mind you, Durst has been known to bash both sides and advertises himself as such, but check out this YouTube clip where he skewers the First Golfer.


…and he’s already called the tournament "The Big Kahuna of the Dimpled Ball" and referred to Augusta as "Chlorophyll city" for how green everything is. Not very, shall we say, traditional, to say the very least…

Somewhere, Gary McCord – who was once removed from the CBS broadcast team for cracking a joke about how slick the greens were – is PISSED.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

TIGER DOESN’T LIKE ‘EM…

…but we do.

T.A.H. is in many ways a visual experience. Many days when the prose are weak, at least the photos are cool. This is true throughout the sporting universe and we think the pro-photographers that give us these great images never get enough props.

All ACC season long, Kevin C. Cox and Streeta Lecka of Getty Images give us great shots. Yesterday, Getty photographer Andrew Redington had fine day. Here is some of his handiwork:





Justin Leonard watches his approach shot on the first hole.












Nick O'Hern of Australia hits his approach shot on the first hole.
















Honorary starter Arnold Palmer hits the ceremonial first tee shot.








Sean O'Hair watches his tee shot on the first hole.






The group of Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera and Stuart Appleby wait on the first tee during the first round.












Masters caddies Eric Meller and Michael Waite wait near the clubhouse after play was delayed by fog.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

ZEE PROTEST OF ZEE OLYMPIC TORCH…will not be tolerated! We vill shoot dem, we vill get tanks, we will NUKE Tibet if we haz too…Damn the pesky protestors of silly human rights!

Woah…dude.

Kevan Gosper (l), chairman of the IOC press commission, gestures as International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge looks on at a news conference held during the IOC Executive Board meetings on April 10, 2008 in Beijing, China. Rogge said the Olympics were in crisis after a week of protests during the Beijing Olympic torch relay.

(Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

DON’T LOOK NOW…but the beloved Washington Wizards, known as Le Boullez in many circles, finished their season with the might Boston Celtics with 3 wins against 1 loss. Here, Andray Blatche #32 of the Washington Wizards shoots over Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics at the Verizon Center on April 9, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Wiz won the game.

The Wizards feature four ACC players: Brendan Haywood (UNC), Antawn Jamison, (UNC), Roger Mason (UVA) and Darius Songaila (Wake Forest).

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

NIGHT, NIGHT...The referee stops the fight after Shane Cameron of New Zealand knocks down Jonathan Haggler of the USA during the WBO heavyweight title fight between Shane Cameron and Jonathan Haggler held at the Sky City Convention Centre April 11, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

NOBODY NAMED BUBBA...should wear pink pants. Nobody. Never mind the visor.

Bubba Watson hits his tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the 2008 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2008 in Augusta, Georgia.


(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

(NOT) GOING PRO?

UCLA All-American Kevin Love and teammate Darren Collison have not yet decided whether they will make themselves available for the NBA draft, coach Ben Howland said Wednesday.

He dismissed a report on the Los Angeles Times' Web site that said the players had decided to leave and were expected to hire agents, which would prevent them from returning to the Bruins next season.

"It's an erroneous report," Howland, adding that Love and Collison were very upset about the report because they had yet to discuss their future with their families.

College players have until April 27 to declare for the June draft.

GOING PRO?
West Virginia star Jason Alexander is opting into the NBA draft but without an agent which leaves him free to return if things don’t go as he would like.

USC guard O.J. Mayo who made news by recruiting himself (he only called USC coach Tim Floyd, he didn’t let Floyd call him) was always projected to be a one-and-done. True story. Mayo has hired an agent and announced he’s leaving.

He is the prototype case for the flaws of the premature departure. USC had a very good team last year when they lost a close game to UNC in the Sweet Sixteen. They were quite naturally projected to be better with Mayo in the starting line up. They weren’t. Mayo struggled early on, but, to his credit, did improve dramatically late in the season.
Just the same, the Trojans went down in round one to Michael Beasley and Kansas State.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay and AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

THE END OF THE WORLD, PART XCMLVXVIII

From the Yahoo blog Shutdown Corner:

There's a television network called MyNetworkTV, and they have a show starring Flavor Flav because ... well, I don't know.

And on this show, Terrell Owens is going to be a guest star, because ... again, I really don't know. Television confuses and frightens me.

From the promotional e-mail:
Flav plays Calvester Hill, an ex-convict that moves in with his wealthy, conservative brother, Winston (Kelly Perine). Calvester subsequently turns the Hill family’s life upside down, parading his old prison cronies through the house; teaching his nephew Winston Jr. (Jesse Reid) to be a gangsta rapper; and butting heads with Winston’s snooty wife, Ashley (Carrie Genzel), seventeen year-old princess Heather (Marie Michael), and housekeeper Su Ho (Emily Kuroda).

Added Flav, “It is an honor and a blessing to have Terrell ‘Touchdown’ Owens on my show, ‘Under One Roof.’ I am excited and I can't wait to complete an episode with one of my most favorite players in history. One thing special I want to say to Terrell is, ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of my show and consider this episode one extra touchdown under your belt.’”

The show is called Under One Roof (they ignored my suggestion for a title, "How Many Years Can We Set Black People Back?").

It sounds fantastic if you've ever caught yourself thinking, "I wish there was a show just like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, only starring much older people." It debuts April 16th at 8:00 pm.

Terrell Owens and Flava Flav, together. This can't be good for anybody.

THE END OF THE WORLD, PART XCMLVXIX

Because in some language "NCAA" translates directly to “all hypocrisy, all the time.”

For more than 100 college presidents and athletic directors, beer and the NCAA men's basketball tournament don't mix.

The college leaders -- among them the top officials at Harvard, Abilene Christian and Georgia State -- wrote a letter to NCAA President Myles Brand on Wednesday calling beer advertising "embarrassingly prominent" during tournament broadcasts. They asked the organization to reconsider its policies on alcohol advertising.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C., (read that right wing conservative watch dog) which helped organize the letter, accused the NCAA of violating its own policies that supposedly limit beer advertising to 60 seconds per hour and no more than 120 seconds per telecast. The center said it counted 200 seconds and 240 seconds of beer advertising during Saturday's two semifinal games, and 270 seconds during Monday night's final, when Kansas defeated Memphis 75-68 in overtime.

C’mon, it’s the NCAA, you can’t expect them to follow their own rules – ESPECIALLY when money is involved.

P.S. Hey, university presidents, you don’t need The Center for Science in the Public Interest to help you draft a letter. You’re university presidents remember? Presumably, you know how to write and are capable of articulating your complaints.
By the way, nice, Christmas tree, NICE!

ONLY SEVEN OVER TIME FINALS

Year-Outcome-Score
2008 Kansas beat Memphis 75-68

1997 Arizona beat Kentucky 84-79

1989 Michigan beat Seton Hall 80-79

1963 Loyola beat Cincinnati 60-58

1961 Cincinnati beat Ohio State 70-65

1957 UNC beat Kansas 54-53 (3OT)

1944 Utah beat Dartmouth 42-40

PICTURE OF THE DAY

NOT THAT THEY WANT YOU TO KNOW...The old fogeys who run the Masters are well know to believe that you, the golf fan - the common man, the great unwashed masses (according to them) don't have the capacity to know or understand what happens on their hallowed grounds. If you recall there is very limited coverage of the early rounds and extended coverage for Sat and Sun was like pulling teeth because these great wise men didn't think that you -- the golf fan (the common man, the unwashed masses) have the attention span of a gnat. Luckily somebody at CBS got a little backbone.

Today, those same progressive thinkers did not find it necessary to inform us that the first 8 am tee time was pushed back 40 minutes. As late as 8:23, they hadn't bothered to tell us golf fans who consulted their web page (yes, it's amazing - but they have a web page), that fog was holding up the start of the tournament.

Evidently, in their usual desire to withhold information to us plebeian golf fans, the Masters major domos forgot the place is CRAWLING with media and the word got out via little outlets such as ESPN.

Nice, Masters, NICE!

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
WHITE HOUSE WELCOME...U.S. President George W. Bush poses with members of the Louisiana State University Tigers football team, (l-r) quarterback Matt Flynn, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, head coach Les Miles and running back Jacob Hester, after he received a team jersey as he hosts the team at the South Lawn of the White House April 7, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Tigers were the NCAA football champions in 2007.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

SLOW NEWS DAY IN MINSK...? Swiss Davis Cup tennis team members Stephane Bohli (r), Stanislas Wawrinka (c) and Michael Lammer sit atop a bronze statue of horses and a horse-drawn carriage in central Minsk on April 10, 2008 after their Davis Cup draw with Belarus.

What would they be doing to the horses had they actually won?

(Photo by Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

CHARITY AUCTION...This 1996-97 Michael Jordan game-worn uniform was one of the items up for bid in the silent auction during the Chicago Bulls FestaBulls 2008 charity event on April 6, 2008 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The event raised approximately $175,000 for CharitaBulls.


(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 5

DREAM GIRLS...Katie Feenstra #44 and Ivory Latta #08 of the Atlanta Dream pose before a press conference unveiling the new uniforms at Centennial Tower April 3, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Latta should be perfectly comfortable in the color as she played college hoop at UNC.


(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

IT’S ALMOST OVER

Basketball season is almost over and that leads to some serious doldrums until football season starts.

The final throws of the hoop season require that we follow up on two stories: 1) How the hell did Memphis lose the title game, and 2) who is and who isn’t going to the NBA draft?

Starting with Memphis:

Folks are criticizing John Calipari and his inaccurate free throw shooters for the Tigers ultimate demise. Calipari admitted that ''I said, 'Lord, if he makes this, these two, we're supposed to be national champs. And if that's your will, I'm fine. And if he misses them and we're not, I'm fine with that, too.' That's what I said in my mind. I'm probably not supposed to say that, religiously, but that's what it was.''

As we know Derrick Rose (32) missed one of them and that was their undoing. Lost in the fog, is a simple fact we pointed out here last week. The NCAA required Memphis to suspend reserve point guard Andre Allen after he failed a random drug test after the Texas game (weed). Adams played 12 minutes per game, and guess who he mostly subbed in for? Derrick Rose.

Without Adams, Rose played EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of the Championship Game – all 45. When he missed that critical free throw with 10.2 seconds left he had already played 39 minutes and 49.8 seconds of the finale. Normally, a 71% free throw shooter, we aren’t gonna bust on Rose (a freshman) for missing a free throw after playing the ENTIRE game.

Ahh…Coach? How about a sub? Chris Douglas-Roberts (14), a season long 71% free throw shooter who was shooting over 80% in the tournament, also missed four critical free throws down the stretch. At game end, he had played 42 minutes. Calipari has since said he should have used more bench.

Calipari has also been criticized for not fouling a Jayhawk when Kansas brought the ball in with 10.2 seconds left down by three. Calipari maintains his Tigers were trying to foul, but they didn’t get a call. However, Calipari also didn’t take a timeout to reinforce that plan.

He should know better. If you watch ACC regular season games and any of the conference tourney, and then the NCAA tourney, you know that refs swallow their whistles at the end of close games. Just ask Texas A&M (whacked on final shot vs. UCLA.)

The officials don’t want to decide the game, and that spills over to the entire game where players, especially in the paint, get away with fouls that would be called during the regular season. Moral of the story is simple: If you want to foul on that last possession, you have to TACKLE the guy to get a whistle.

Calipari knows that. He should have called time out and called the tackle play.

Isn't hindsight great?

(Photos by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images and Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST OVER…

…When T.A.H. covers baseball. However, this is a nice story just in case you missed it.

Yesterday, for opening day at Fenway Park, the Red Sox asked a bunch of Boston sports stars - Celtics, Bruins and Patriots - to deliver the World Series rings which were handed out to the Sox in a pre-game ceremony.

Among the celeb sports stars was one Bill Buckner. Yep, the same Bill Buckner that Sox fans have vilified with such intensity the past 22 years. Not only did Buckner appear, he also threw out the first pitch.

And guess what? Red Sox Nation gave him a long standing ovation. America loves to forgive, and two World Series for the Ruth cursed BoSox makes it so much easier to say "Thank you, we love you."

According to various reports: Bill Buckner's eyes were red. He paused for 15 seconds to control his emotions. Then he spoke again.

The outstanding hitter known for a costly World Series error had just thrown out the ceremonial first pitch to a loud ovation before the Boston Red Sox's home opener yesterday. It was a strike to former teammate Dwight Evans.

The experience, Buckner said, was "probably about as emotional as it could get."

The Red Sox received their championship rings for winning the 2007 World Series before yesterday's 5-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Buckner's legacy is tied to losing the Series in 1986.

The former first baseman knew the same old questions would crop up about that play 22 years ago that has been replayed on television hundreds of times. At first, he turned down the team's request. A few days later he agreed to return to Fenway Park for the first time since 1997 when he was batting coach with the Chicago White Sox.

On Oct. 25, 1986, at Shea Stadium, Mookie Wilson's ground ball rolled through Buckner's legs in the 10th inning. It drove in the winning run in the Mets' 6-5 win that forced a seventh game that New York won, 8-5.

PHOTOS: Former Boston Red Sox player Bill Buckner throws out the ceremonial first pitch at the MLB baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. (Photo by Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images)


Fenway Park. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Past and present members of the NHL's Boston Bruins, the NBA's Boston Celtics and the NFL's New England Patriots carry the Boston Red Sox' 2007 World Series rings onto the field. (Photo by Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images)

Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox look at their 2007 World Series rings. (Photo by Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images)

GOING PRO

UCLA lost in the Final Four and now it looks like they'll lose two players who got them there.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that Kevin Love and Darren Collison have both decided to make themselves available for June's NBA draft. Citing sources close to the players, the newspaper said that Love and Collison told coach Ben Howland of their decisions in separate meetings.

The newspaper reported that the two will hire agents, making them ineligible to return to the Bruins next season.

However, Collison denied the report through a UCLA spokesman, saying he hadn't yet talked with his parents about his future plans.

UCLA coach Ben Howland has a news conference scheduled for Wednesday.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is April 27.

ONE FOOT IN THE DOOR
Players who are leaning toward declaring for the draft, but haven't officially announced their intentions:
Joe Alexander, F, West Virginia; Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State; Chris Douglas-Roberts, F, Memphis; DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M; Leo Lyons, PF, Missouri; O.J. Mayo, G, USC; Trent Plaisted, C, BYU; John Riek, C, Prep School; Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis; Brandon Rush, SG, Kansas and Bill Walker, G/F, Kansas State

50-50
Players who are still deciding about declaring for the draft:
Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal; Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas; D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas; Nick Calathes, G, Florida; Mario Chalmers, PG, Kansas; Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas; Darren Collison, PG, UCLA; Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga; Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina; Donte Greene, F, Syracuse; Blake Griffin, F, Oklahoma; Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina; Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke; Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga; Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State; Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina; Kevin Love, F/C, UCLA; Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth; Scottie Reynolds, G, Villlanova; Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College; Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee; Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn and Russell Westbrook, G, UCLA

(Photos by Streeter Lecka (Love) and Marc Squire (Greene)/Getty Images)

ACE vs. ICE

Ace won.

It was billed as a showdown between Stanford’s Candice Wiggins (11) and Tennessee’s Candace Parker (3). It was, and Candace came out on top.

Parker shook off a variety of injuries and scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Tennessee capture its eighth NCAA women's basketball title with a 64-48 victory over Stanford on Tuesday night. The Lady Vols also became the first repeat champs since Connecticut won three straight from 2002-04.

Parker was MOP for the second straight year as well.

Stanford's Candice Wiggins (11) takes a shot against Tennessee's Candace Parker, right, and Alberta Auguste during the second half of the championship game at the Final Four in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Tuesday, April 8, 2008, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DUKE CENTER HAS SURGERY

Duke sophomore center Brian Zoubek had to go under the knife Tuesday for the second time since July to fix a problem in his left foot.

He'll miss 10 to 12 weeks. A Duke release explained that the surgery was done to relieve discomfort in Zoubek's left foot. That was the same foot he had operated on in July when a pin was inserted into his left baby toe to stabilize it. The surgery is partially designed to (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WARNING) make him look a little less gay. (See photo.)

Hey, we're already banned from Duke, so what the heck?

Zoubek, a 2008 Academic All-ACC selection, played the first 12 games of the season before reaggravating the injury in practice and missing nine games.

He healed enough to play and showed some improvement grabbing rebounds, changing shots on defense and finishing shots near the hoop while averaging 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds.

STUPID PEOPLE

There are UNC fans who are being critical of Roy Williams for having a KU sticker on his shirt during Monday night's final.

For the record, those people are stupid.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

DEAR GOD: Sorry to bug you as I know you’re busy with various worldwide conflicts and all this Olympic torch nonsense, but the Masters starts tomorrow and everybody here on the East Coast could use a little help with the weather. Thanks.

Here, Bernhard Langer of Germany hits shot during the second day of practice prior to the start of the 2008 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2008 in Augusta, Georgia.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY 2

SUPER LOGOS...After some complaints by Roy Williams, among others, the NCAA dramatically reduced the size of the center court logo. No such luck for the girls...

Not only is there a big logo center court, the entire court from the three point line to the base line was also covered with a logo decal. Ol' Roy wouldn't have liked that one bit!


Above: Tennessee's Candace Parker (3) controls the opening tip against Stanford's Jayne Appel (2) in the championship game at the Final Four in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Tuesday, April 8, 2008, in Tampa, Fla.


(AP Photos/John Raoux)

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