Chaney takes over Knicks
NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Two days after Jeff Van Gundy's unexpected resignation, the New York Knicks announced today that Don Chaney would coach the team for the rest of the season.
Chaney, who owns an unimpressive 266-382 NBA coaching record, guided the Knicks to a 101-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers Saturday night after Van Gundy resigned earlier in the day.
"I am very grateful to the Knicks organization and am looking forward to taking over the head coaching duties for one of the world's greatest sports franchises," Chaney said.
Chaney, 55, is in his seventh season on the Knicks' coaching staff. He was passed over for the Knicks' interim job in favor of Van Gundy after Don Nelson was fired during the 1995-96 season.
The NBA Coach of the Year with the Houston Rockets in 1990-91, Chaney has not had a head coaching job since he was fired by the Detroit Pistons following the 1994-95 season. Chaney had a disastrous two-year tenure with Detroit, posting a 48-116 record.
Prior to his stint in Detroit, Chaney coached the Rockets (1988-91) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1984-87). During his time in Los Angeles, Chaney once attempted to choke enigmatic center Benoit Benjamin.
A change of style could come for the Knicks, who are expected to play at a more uptempo pace under Chaney. New York was thought of as a tenacious defensive club under Van Gundy.
Chaney is taking the Knicks over at the right time. After a slow start this season, New York (11-9) has won three straight and six of its last seven to move a season-high two games over the .500 mark.
Cardinals sign Isringhausen
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Cardinals finally made it official today, announcing they had signed righthanded reliever Jason Isringhausen to a four-year contract with a club option for 2006.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the former Oakland Athletics closer reportedly will earn $7 million per season.
Isringhausen had 67 saves for the A's over the last two seasons and fills a need the team has had for the better part of the last four seasons.
A resident of Godfrey, Ill., Isringhausen chose playing closer to home for less money than he could have received from the Texas Rangers. Texas owner Tom Hicks told the Dallas Morning News that Isringhausen turned down a four-year, $30 million offer.
"It was a tough decision but it came down to wanting to remain close to home and playing for a winner," Isringhausen said at a news conference.
After being plagued by injuries as a starter with the New York Mets, Isringhausen developed into one of the game's premier closers midway through the 1999 season.
Cubs trade for Alex Gonzalez
CHICAGO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The Chicago Cubs acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Toronto Blue Jays today for reliever Felix Heredia and a player to be named.
Gonzalez, 28, had the longest tenure of any Blue Jay. He is a steady fielder who has developed increasing power. He will take over for starting shortstop Ricky Gutierrez, who was not offered arbitration by the Cubs.
"He's quicker, he runs better and has power for a shortstop," Cubs general manager Andy McPhail said in comparing Gutierrez and Gonzalez. "He's going to finish his three-year contract at a younger age than Gutierrez would have started it."
Gonzalez batted .253 with 17 homers and 76 RBI last season -- all career highs. He also led all American League shortstops in assists, total chances and double plays.
Gonzalez made news at last year's winter meetings when he signed a four-year, $24 million contract. As one of the few viable options at shortstop, Gonzalez cashed in.
A career .245 hitter over parts of eight seasons, Gonzalez has 83 homers, 350 RBI and 85 stolen bases in 890 career games.
Dolphins take on Colts
MIAMI, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The Miami Dolphins could open some breathing room atop the AFC East standings tonight as they battle the Indianapolis Colts to conclude Week 13 in the NFL.
The Dolphins (8-3) have a one-game lead over the New England Patriots (8-5) and a 1 1/2 game advantage over the New York Jets (7-5) in the division.
The Colts (4-7) were contending for the AFC East title before a 27-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins on November 11 started them on a four-game skid that all but knocked them out of the postseason race.
On Monday, the teams will meet in Miami for the first time since the wild card round in the playoffs last December.
In that contest, Lamar Smith capped a club playoff-record 209-yard rushing performance with a 17-yard touchdown 11:26 into overtime to lift the Dolphins to a 23-17 victory.
Jaguars suspend Soward
JACKSONVILLE, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said today receiver R. Jay Soward had been suspended until further notice.
"He is suspended indefinitely," Coughlin said at his media conference. "It's my choice. I'll handle it internally."
Soward's latest undisclosed violation of team rules caused Coughlin to suspend the second-year receiver for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.
Two weeks ago, Soward completed consecutive suspensions totaling 10 games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He has not played in a regular season game since Dec. 17, 2000.
A first-round pick in 2000, Soward has been a bust on and off the field. Expected to fill in as the third receiver behind starters Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, Soward had just 14 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown in 13 games last season.
Lions safety suspended for four games
PONTIAC, Mich., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Detroit Lions safety Tommy Bennett has been suspended for the final four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy banning steroid use.
Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg said the violation stems from an injection into Bennett's hamstring.
"Tommy did not know he was receiving a banned substance," Mornhinweg said.
In his sixth season, Bennett, 28, is the top backup safety behind starters Kurt Schulz and Lamar Campbell.
Bennett played the first five years of his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals before being waived in August and signed with the Lions. He has 26 tackles this season, including six in Sunday's 15-12 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
LSU's top rusher to miss Sugar Bowl
BATON ROUGE, La., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Louisiana State leading rusher LaBrandon Toefield will miss the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 due to a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the school announced today.
Toefield suffered the injury late in the second quarter of LSU's 31-20 upset of Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday night in Atlanta.
The 12th-ranked Tigers (9-3) will play Big Ten Conference champion Illinois in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
Toefield, a sophomore, will undergo reconstructive surgery sometime in the next few weeks when the swelling in the knee subsides.
In 12 games this year, Toefield rushed for 992 yards and tied an SEC single-season record with 19 rushing touchdowns.
Switzer going into Hall of Fame
NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Barry Switzer, who coached Oklahoma to national prominence during a 16-year period from 1973-88, will be among 16 individuals inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday night.
The 16 were selected in April. Induction ceremonies will take place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with enshrinement to follow next year in South Bend, Ind.
Switzer will join Grant Teaff and Bill Yeoman as coaching electees. Teaff coached at McMurry and Angelo State but achieved his greatest fame at Baylor from 1972-92. Yeoman coached at Houston for 25 years (1962-86).
Quarterback Steve Young of Brigham Young (1981-83), wide receiver Anthony Carter of Michigan (1979-82), tackle John Hicks of Ohio State (1970, 1972-73) and Oklahoma tight end Keith Jackson (1984-87) are the most well-known players to be inducted.
American wins second straight World Cup event
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- American Bode Miller won his second straight World Cup, capturing an evening night slalom event to establish himself as a pre-Olympic favorite.
Miller, 24, won a giant slalom in Val d'Isere Sunday. He built on a first run lead down the floodlit Miramonte piste to win in one minute, 36.01 seconds, sending a message to current World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter.
Italy's Giorgio Rocca, who many label as the new Alberto Tomba, delighted the masses of home fans huddled at the bottom of the piste by placing second in 1:36.53.
Norway's Tom Stiansen, the 1997 World Cup slalom champion, finished third in 1:36.92. The Norwegian had lost valuable time after a bad error midway down the course, but made up an amazing amount of ground in the final four gates to salvage a place on the podium.
The victory moved Miller to within 15 points of Eberharter in the overall rankings.