Archive for January, 2012

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Women’s Professional Soccer cancels 2012 season

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Senators at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Capitals at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Celtics at Cavaliers, 7 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)
College basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Clemson at Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Michigan State at Illinois, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: North Carolina at Wake Forest, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Leslie Osborne and the Breakers will not play in 2012. (Boston Breakers photo)

♦ Women’s Professional Soccer, a league that includes the Boston Breakers, will take the 2012 season off as it attempts to settle a dispute with an ousted team owner. The league indicated it hopes to return in 2013.

Dan Borislow bought the Washington Freedom before last season and moved them to South Florida, renaming them magicJack, after the company he owns. Things quickly turned sour, and Borislow sued WPS in August. The league responded by accusing him of “unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills.”

A Florida judge ruled this month that the league did not follow its own procedures when it terminated Borislow’s franchise, and another court hearing is set for Wednesday.

WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan said owners preferred canceling the season to working with Borislow again.

“We have diverted so many resources into litigation,” she said. “This is something that needs to be resolved before we can move forward with play.”

♦ Speaking at a luncheon in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, NCAA president Mark Emmert hinted that fans should soon expect to see a four-team playoff for college football.

“If I had to guess, we’ll see some movement in the format,” he said. “Where it’s going to wind up, I don’t know.”

Emmert also said he has been trying to get schools to be more thoughtful and cooperative in the issue of conference realignment.

“There weren’t a lot of winners coming out of that,” Emmert said of all the movement that has rocked college football in the past year. “You wind up with the lawsuits, you wind up with a lot of bad blood, a lot of bad publicity.”

♦ A man who is known for his paintings of the University of Alabama football team continues his fight against the school, which has charged him with copyright infringement. Daniel Moore will appear in Appeals Court Thursday to defend his work, which he often sells as posters.

The case is of great interest to “artists all over the country whose free speech rights should not be subject to licensing arrangements by colleges and universities,” said Mark P. McKenna, a law professor at Notre Dame who was part of a group of professors that wrote a friend-of-the-court brief to the Appeals Court on Moore’s behalf.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 31, 1971, in a 6-0 rout of the Blues, Bobby Orr scored twice to become the second defenseman in Bruins history with 100 career goals. Who was the first?

Read the rest of this entry »

Dwight Howard open to joining Bulls

Monday, January 30th, 2012

It's been a long year for Magic center Dwight Howard. (AP)

Over the past several months, speculation has run rampant over where Magic center Dwight Howard may ultimately land. According to Howard, one more team can be added to a seemingly ever-expanding list: the Bulls.

After his Magic lost 93-67 to the Hornets Friday, Howard told the Chicago Tribune that he would be open to teaming up with Bulls point guard and reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose in Chicago.

“If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen,” Howard said to the Tribune. “It has nothing to do with me not playing with Derrick Rose. I love him. That’s my brother.”

With the report, the Bulls now join a list of oft-mentioned potential Howard suitors, a group of teams that includes the Lakers, Nets and Mavericks, among others.

Howard, a five-time NBA All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, is now in his seventh season with the Magic, the team that drafted him with the first overall pick in 2004. Through 20 games, Howard is averaging 20.2 points and 15.5 rebounds per game.

Report: Rutgers likely to name Mario Cristobal as next coach

Monday, January 30th, 2012

After losing long-time coach Greg Schiano to the Buccaneers last week, Rutgers is close to naming Florida International coach Mario Cristobal as Schiano’s replacement, according to a report from the Newark Star-Ledger Monday.

The 41-year-old Cristobal just finished his fifth season as the Golden Panthers’ coach and has compiled a 24-38 record in his time at the Miami-based school. Cristobal has overseen a drastic transformation of an FIU program that has only been playing on the FBS level since 2005. In 2006, Cristobal took over a Golden Panthers team that had finished 0-12 the previous season and has since led FIU to bowl games in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Cristobal is a Miami native and former all-Big East tackle at Miami, but he has connections to the Rutgers program, having served as the Scarlet Knights’ offensive line and tight ends coach from 2001-03 under Schiano.

Schiano agreed to become Tampa Bay’s coach Jan. 26 after an 11-year tenure as Rutgers coach.

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Amar’e Stoudemire chides Knicks teammates

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Bulls at Wizards, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Thunder at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Missouri at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

It's been a rough season for Amar'e Stoudemire and the Knicks. (AP)

♦ The Knicks entered the season with high expectations. It started well, with a Christmas Day victory over the Celtics. However, New York has lost nine of its last 10 games to fall to 7-13, and now there is speculation that coach Mike D’Antoni is on the hot seat, although the front office isn’t talking — about anything.

Amar’e Stoudemire vented after Saturday’s loss to the Rockets, urging his teammates to make D’Antoni’s job easier.

“We have to prepare ourselves better as individuals,” Stoudemire said. “Coaches give the game plan. We have to be ready to execute the game plan. If we’re not ready to execute the game plan, we’re not helping our teammates.

“We have to learn to comprehend and learn from our mistakes, and right now we’re not doing that.”

Meanwhile, veteran point guard Baron Davis, acquired before the season, has been practicing with the team but has yet to appear in a game as he returns from a back injury. According to a New York Post report, some Knicks are surprised Davis did not make his debut during the team’s four-game road trip.

One player who has benefited from Davis’ absence is former Harvard standout Jeremy Lin, who played the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s game, finishing with nine points and six assists.

♦ Steelers linebacker James Harrison is at it again. This is the guy who was offended by being invited to the White House after a Steelers Super Bowl victory, because, he said, the president didn’t invite the Steelers when they didn’t win. He took a similar approach to the NFL’s decision to allow players to tweet during Sunday’s Pro Bowl.

Tweeted Harrison before the game: Why u think the NFL “wants us” to tweet during the Pro Bowl but wont “let us” till 90 min AFTER a real game? I wont tweet during today’s game.

For the record, the NFL ban on tweeting is for 90 minutes before a game, not after.

♦ Following the arrest of Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona on charges of identity fraud, the issue of Dominican players using different names and birthdates in an attempt to make themselves more attractive to major league teams has come to the forefront. The New York Times takes a closer look at the situation and quotes some major league executives who appear hopeful that the situation will improve, although not before a few more players are exposed for similar violations.

“These are like time bombs,” Yankees senior vice president for baseball operations Mark Newman said. “But people are absolutely getting the message. Major League Baseball, the consulate and the major league clubs are all committed to this, and it will get better.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 30, 1973, the Patriots had perhaps their best draft ever. Which three players did they select in Round 1?

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Colts owner Jim Irsay unhappy with Peyton Manning

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Pacers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)
NBA: Knicks at Heat, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Thunder at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Boston University at Stony Brook, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Iona at Fairfield, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

SATURDAY:
NBA: Kings at Jazz, 9 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: St. John’s at Duke, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Marquette at Villanova, noon (ESPN2)
College basketball: West Virginia at Syracuse, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Texas at Baylor, 1 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Georgetown at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Virginia at NC State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: St. Mary’s at Brigham Young, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

SUNDAY:
NHL: All-Star Game, 4 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Cavaliers at Celtics, 6 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)
NBA: Bulls at Heat, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
NBA: Spurs at Mavericks, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Michigan at Ohio State, 1 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at North Carolina, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, team president Bill Polian (middle) and owner Jim Irsay were all smiles after Manning agreed to a five-year contract last summer. Now, Polian has been fired and Irsay isn't happy with Manning's comments about the team's troubles. (AP)

♦ Two days after Peyton Manning publicly lamented the Colts’ situation, team owner Jim Irsay criticized the franchise quarterback, calling him a “politician.”

“I don’t think it’s in the best interest to paint the horseshoe in a negative light, I really don’t,” Irsay told reporters Thursday following the introduction of new coach Chuck Pagano. “The horseshoe always comes first, and I think one thing he’s always known, because he’s been around it so long, is that, you know, you keep it in the family. If you’ve got a problem you talk to each other, it’s not about campaigning or anything like that.”

Manning, who missed the 2011 season following neck surgery, apparently got the message.

“At this point, Mr. Irsay and I owe it to each other and to the fans of the organization to handle this appropriately and professionally, and I think we will. I’ve already reached out to Mr. Irsay,” Manning told The Indianapolis Star. “I wasn’t trying to paint the Colts in a bad light, but it’s tough when so many people you’ve known for so long are suddenly leaving. I feel very close to a lot of these guys and we’ve done great things together. It’s hard to watch an old friend clean out his office. That’s all I was trying to say.

“I just want to keep rehabbing and working hard, and when the time is right for Mr. Irsay and I to sit down, I look forward to a healthy conversation about my future. I’ve worked too hard and have such great respect and have so many great relationships inside the building and out, and it’s incredibly important that those remain.”

♦ What started out as an apparent case of team loyalty over individual glory has spiraled into a major embarrassment for Yale. Quarterback Patrick Witt had announced on Nov. 13 that he would play against Harvard six days later, the same day he had a scheduled interview with the Rhodes scholarship committee, thus ending his candidacy.

His coach, Tom Williams, implied that he faced a similar decision when at Stanford, but that turned out to be misleading at best, an outright lie at worst. Williams, who made similar inaccurate claims on his resume, resigned in December while the school was investigating.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that there was a more compelling reason why Witt did not interview for the award. Witt had been accused of sexual assault by a fellow student, and when the Rhodes Trust learned of the accusation, it suspended Witt’s candidacy.

Meanwhile, Yale’s new coach has been making some news of his own. Tony Reno left his job as a Harvard assistant to return to the school where he had been an assistant for five seasons. He has proceeded to take three other Harvard assistants with him, leaving the defending Ivy League champion Crimson scrambling to rebuild the staff.

“Obviously, it’s an unusual, if not unprecedented, situation,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy told The Boston Globe. “They obviously made lucrative offers to our assistant coaches. That’s why they are no longer working at Harvard.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Tom Brady No. 3 on Bloomberg’s ‘Power 100′

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics at Magic, 8 p.m. (CSNNE, TNT; WEEI)
NBA: Grizzlies at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Boston College at Virginia, 9 p.m. (ESPNU; WRKO)
College basketball: NC State at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: All-Star draft, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Tom Brady continues to have success on and off the field. (AP)

Bloomberg Businessweek released its annual list of the “Power 100″ athletes — comprising on- and off-field attributes — and Tom Brady ranks third. The Patriots quarterback is behind two other NFL quarterbacks: Drew Brees and runner-up Aaron Rodgers. Brady, whose key sponsors include Under Armour, Audi, Ugg and Stetson Cologne, was fifth last year.

Brady’s counterpart in the Super Bowl, Giants QB Eli Manning, is 15th. The next Boston athlete on the list is Celtics big man Kevin Garnett, at No. 54 (seven spot down from last year). Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski checks in at No. 77, and Wes Welker is No. 95.

Forbes has its list of the most valuable NBA teams, and the Lakers have taken the No. 1 spot from the Knicks. A 20-year television deal with Time Warner Cable that averages $200 million a year helped boost the team’s value to $900 million. The Lakers are followed by the Knicks ($780 million), Bulls ($600 million) and Mavericks ($497 million).

At No. 6 is the Celtics, who also signed a new media deal last year. The C’s extended their agreement with CSNNE 20 years through 2038 and got a 20 percent equity stake in the network. That boosts the team’s value to $482 million, up 7 percent from last year.

♦ Lightning fans are campaigning to save the job of the woman who dressed as the team mascot, Thunderbug. Kelly Frank was fired after an incident with a Bruins fan during a game last week (video below). She sprayed Silly String on the B’s fan’s head. He got mad, pushed the mascot and had to be restrained.

The team said the incident wasn’t the only reason for the dismissal but refused to divulge any more information.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Frank also once performed as the Rays mascot, Raymond, but was fired at the end of the 2008 season.

♦ The NFL will suspend its policy against players tweeting within 90 minutes of games and will provide a computer station on the sideline for players to tweet from the Pro Bowl this weekend.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 26, 1997, the Patriots lost to the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI, 35-21. Who was the Patriots’ leading receiver, with six catches for 67 yards and one touchdown?

Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Love agrees to four-year extension with Timberwolves

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

The Timberwolves made a key move Wednesday in keeping a strong, promising core of young players together in the Twin Cities, as All-Star forward Kevin Love agreed a four-year contract extension with the team.

Tweeted Love: To #twolves fans: I’ll be in Minnesota for 4 more years! Excited to see you when I get back to Minneapolis.

The deal includes a player option in the final year of a four-year deal worth in excess of $60 million, according to ESPN.

Now in his fourth NBA season, Love is averaging 24.9 points and 13.9 rebounds per game through Minnesota’s first 17 games this season. For his career, Love has averaged 15.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

Love, a UCLA product, is coming off of a 2010-11 season in which he made his first All-Star team and was voted as the NBA’s Most Improved Player. In addition to his various honors last season, Love also recorded 53 consecutive games with a double-double, the longest streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Giants special teamers take shot at Jets coach

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Pacers at Bulls, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Clippers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Villanova at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Missouri at Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Duke at Maryland, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Red Wings at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Kicker Lawrence Tynes (9) and punter/holder Steve Weatherford (5) celebrate after Tynes' overtime kick Sunday sent the Giants to the Super Bowl. (AP)

♦ The rivalry between the Patriots and Giants does not compare to both teams’ dislike for the Jets. On Tuesday, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes took a shot at Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff for comments Westhoff made early in the season about Giants punter Steve Weatherford, a former Jet.

“There were times when he just didn’t do the job. … Wasn’t good enough, in my opinion,” Westhoff said of Weatherford, who averaged 42.6 yards per punt in 2010 for the Jets.

“Unbelievable. That’s the worst statement of the year by any coach in this game,” Tynes said. “How could you say that? You just broke an NFL record for your team and you throw him under the bus. We’re glad to have him. Mike Westhoff is a great coach, but I certainly think he missed on that one.”

Responded Westhoff: “Tynes should mind his own business.”

After switching to the Giants this season, Weatherford averaged a career-best 45.7 yards per punt.

“I think a lot of it has to do with playing for Tom Quinn and being comfortable and being confident and being strong,” Weatherford said. “I think playing for the Jets and playing for that positional coach was draining. I thought it was difficult. It was physically taxing.”

Weatherford said he did not speak to Westhoff when the teams meet in Week 16 and has not spoken to his former coach all year.

“To be honest with you, personally I don’t have anything to say to him,” Weatherford said. “I think I’ve kind of let my play speak for itself. That’s what I was planning on doing. It’s just motivation. It’s kind of like the situation — somebody’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’m trying my best to be Tom Coughlin’s treasure.”

♦ New Astros owner Jim Crane announced Monday that he is considering changing the name of the team as it prepares for a move to the American League in 2013. In the Houston Chronicle, Jerome Solomon writes that Crane should worry about changing the team from a loser to a winner and leave the name alone.

Jeff Fedotin at The PostGame has the story of Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-5, 310-pound basketball player from Senegal who plays at a a Christian high school in Southern California. “We’ve played with big kids before, but this is … different,” and opposing coach said. “It looks like a dad playing with a bunch of little kids.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 25, 1956, which former Red Sox infielder and manager was elected to the Hall of Fame?

Read the rest of this entry »

Alex Ovechkin suspended three games, may skip All-Star Game

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin was suspended without pay for three games Monday for a hit on Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek during Sunday’s 4-3 Penguins overtime win. Ovechkin’s hit was ruled illegal as he charged toward Michalek in the corner and left his feet to launch his body “recklessly” into Michalek’s head. Michalek was not injured on the play.

Ovechkin’s suspension will cost him $154,677.75, according to the NHL. The suspension is Ovechkin’s third in the last three seasons (he has also been fined twice for his hits), but it is all the more noteworthy considering Ovechkin is slated to participate in the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa this weekend.

According to TSN analyst Bob McKenzie, Ovechkin will likely withdraw from the All-Star Game due to his suspension.

“No firm decision’s been made on anything, but all accounts would lead us to believe that there will be some decisions in Washington [Tuesday] with the Capitals, with Ovechkin about this issue,” McKenzie said on TSN show “Insider Trading” Monday night. “I would bet right now that Alexander Ovechkin’s going to want to withdraw from the NHL All-Star Game.

“The sense seems to be that the NHL would not make a big issue if Alexander Ovechkin said he were uncomfortable being at All-Star Weekend as a suspended player.”

Ovechkin has been a participant in the All-Star Game every season since breaking into the league in 2005-06.

Caroline Wozniacki to lose No. 1 ranking following Australian Open quarterfinal loss

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Caroline Wozniacki lost to Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (AP).

It was another major, another loss for Caroline Wozniacki, who fell to Kim Clijsters 6-3, 7-6 (4) in quarterfinal action Tuesday at the Australian Open. Wozniacki will lose her No. 1  world ranking due to the defeat, as she had to reach the semifinals in order to stay in the top spot of the Women’s Tennis Association rankings.

Clijsters, the defending Australian Open champion, will play third-seeded Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals of the year’s first Grand Slam. The 28-year-old Belgian is looking to improve her No. 14 ranking with her second Australian Open win and her fifth career Grand Slam win.

Clijsters seemed to be struggling following a difficult fourth-round win over fifth-seed Li Na. Clijsters needed three sets to beat the 29-year-old and sprained her left ankle in that match.

For Wozniacki, the loss in Melbourne adds fire to the criticism of her as one of the world’s top women tennis players since Wozniacki has never won a major. The 21-year-old has reached the finals of a Slam only once in her five-year career, when Clijsters beat her 7-5, 6-3 at the US Open in 2009.

Wozniacki, who is only 21, downplayed her loss Tuesday by expressing confidence that she has plenty of tennis left in her and plenty of time to win a major.

“You know, I will get it back eventually, so I’m not worried,” Wozniacki said. Critics “talk to me like I’m finishing my career and I only have one year left and time is running out. The fact is I still have quite a few good years in front of me.”

In other action in Melbourne Tuesday, both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal punched their tickets into the quarterfinals. Federer cruised past Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 while Nadal battled to beat Tomas Berdych in a 6-7 (7), 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-3 affair. Federer and Nadal will face each other in the semifinals.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will look to continue his defense of his 2011 Australian Open win when he faces fifth-seeded David Ferrer Wednesday.