Clemson basketball coach Shyatt resigns
CLEMSON, S.C., March 18 (UPI) -- Clemson basketball Coach Larry Shyatt announced his resignation Monday.
Shyatt, who failed to lead the Tigers to a single NCAA Tournament appearance during his five years as head coach at the school, spent three years as an assistant at Clemson under Rick Barnes before taking the coaching job at Wyoming in 1997. One year later, he was back at Clemson, where he was unable to duplicate the success of his predecessor.
The Tigers won 20 games and reached the NIT championship game in Shyatt's first season. But Clemson struggled the last three seasons and Shyatt stepped down with a 70-84 mark.
The Tigers opened this season with nine straight wins but then went 5-11 to finish eighth in the nine-team Atlantic Coast Conference.
The highlight of Shyatt's tenure at Clemson was a 75-65 victory over top-ranked North Carolina on Feb. 18, 2001. It was the second time in school history the Tigers knocked off the nation's No. 1 team.
Ohio State suspends forward for NIT
PARK RIDGE, Ill., March 18 (UPI) -- Ohio State forward Zach Williams was suspended for the duration of the National Invitation Tournament by the school Monday.
The action came after he struck an opponent during the Big Ten Conference tournament.
In a brief statement, school officials said Williams was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." After reviewing videotapes of the Buckeyes' 58-50 second-round upset of top-seeded Wisconsin, the Big Ten cited Williams for violating the conference's conduct agreements.
A 6-7 junior, Williams started 22 of 31 games and is tied for third on the team in scoring with 9.3 points per contest. He also grabs 5.2 rebounds per game.
Ohio State (17-14) plays at Georgia Tech (14-14) on Wednesday in the first round of the NIT.
Dunn steps down at Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 18 (UPI) -- Jerry Dunn, who could not build a winning men's basketball program at Penn State, resigned Monday.
He had been the Nittany Lions' coach for the last eight seasons, but was in unable to overcome the shadow of long-time football coach Joe Paterno.
"This was a very difficult decision," said Dunn. "I am very appreciative of the opportunity Dr. Spanier and (Athletic Director) Tim Curley gave me to become the head coach at Penn State. I have greatly enjoyed my association with Penn State. I would like to have had more success over the past two seasons, but I am proud of our efforts and what we have accomplished over the past eight years."
Penn State was just 7-21 this season, including a dismal 2-14 mark in the Big Ten. He had an overall record of 117-121, and was 45-87 in Big Ten games during his eight seasons as PSU head coach. He had spent the previous 12 seasons as a Penn State assistant coach under Bruce Parkhill.
Dunn, who also has been an assistant at George Mason, went to the postseason four times with the Nittany Lions. They advanced to the NIT Championship game in 1998, the NIT semifinals in 2000, the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001.
UCLA fires basketball Coach Steve Lavin
LOS ANGELES, March 18 (UPI) -- UCLA basketball Coach Steve Lavin was fired Monday after seven years.
Lavin has been under siege this season because of the Bruins' poor play. They suffered though a 9-19 campaign, and just barely had enough league wins to qualify for the Pac-10 Tournament.
He becomes the seventh coach fired since the retirement of the legendary John Wooden in 1975.
"My conclusion was that for UCLA basketball to flourish, a change in leadership was necessary," said UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerroro. "We certainly wish Steve the very best in his future endeavors. In addition, I want to acknowledge his dignity in handling his situation during difficult times this season."
Despite the Bruins' shocking upset of top-ranked Arizona in the tournament, Lavin said repeatedly in the past few days that he felt the firing would happen Monday.
Lavin, 38, who compiled a record of 145-78 in his seven years as head coach, had five years remaining on his contract. The contract buyout consists of one year of the full package of $578,000 and four years at the base salary of $153,000.
Prior to his becoming interim head coach in November of 1996, he served as an assistant coach for five seasons (1992-96).
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Lavin was barely 32 and still owed $70,000 in student loans and credit card debt when he fell into the job after Jim Harrick was fired a week before the 1996-97 season for lying about an expense report.
The Los Angeles Daily News reported sources saying a list of replacements already is in place, including head coaches Ben Howland of Pittsburgh, Dana Altman of Creighton, Mark Few of Gonzaga, and Rick Majerus of Utah, former Florida and Atlanta Hawks coach Lon Kruger, and Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers, who is a former UCLA coach.
Hunter canned by North Carolina A&T
GREENSBORO, N.C., March 18 (UPI) -- North Carolina A&T, one of only two Division I men's basketball teams that failed to win two games this season, has fired Coach Curtis Hunter.
North Carolina A&T lost its first 24 games before posting a 61-54 win at Norfolk State on March 3. The Aggies followed with a three-point loss to South Carolina State in their final game of the regular season, and were routed, 76-55, by Norfolk State in the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament.
Associate Athletic Director Wheeler Brown has appointed a screening committee, and hopes to fill the position soon.
Tennessee State, which was the only other Division I team with one win, dismissed Nolan Richardson III during the season.
Todd Bodine wins final lap battle
DARLINGTON, S.C., March 18 (UPI) -- Todd Bodine won Monday's NASCAR Busch Series darlingtonraceway.com 200 by barely beating Jamie McMurray.
Bodine and McMurray staged a side-by-side battle to the checkered flag that resulted in both cars spinning across the finish line. Bodine crossed the finished line in a sideways slide while McMurray's car was in a full fledge spin and just a tick too late.
The finish nearly was identical to Sunday's Winston Cup race, which was won by Ricky Craven, except both cars in Monday's race lost control before crossing the finish line.
Scott Riggs was third followed by Stacy Compton.
With four laps to go, Bodine passed Compton for the lead with McMurray on the rear of his car. Compton's team decided to gamble on fuel by not pitting.
It was the second time in the last three Busch races this season that the contest had to be staged on a Monday morning after a Saturday rainout.
The winning car is co-owned by Frank Herzog and baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
With qualifications for the race rained out Thursday, Stan Barrett started on the pole because he is driving the same car that Greg Biffle drove to win last year's Busch Series title. Biffle now is in the Winston Cup Series.
Barrett led the first 15 laps before Johnny Sauter forged ahead.
On lap 28, the yellow flag waved for the first time after a multi-car crash. Michael Waltrip had a right-rear tire deflate, putting him into the fourth-turn wall and Kerry Earnhardt ran into the back of him. David Green also was involved.
The leaders pitted led by Sauter when the pits opened. Sauter was first off pit road to retain his lead followed by Scott Wimmer.
Bodine was the leader at the halfway point of the race and began to pull away from the field. But Riggs was able to pull ahead when he went to the outside and passed Bodine with 50 laps to go.
Riggs and Bodine both pitted with 25 laps left in the race. Riggs' crew changed all four tires and sent him out of the pits in 17 seconds. That put Compton in the lead as the race entered its final stage.
Mets say they will not retaliate
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., March 18 (UPI) -- The general manager of the New York Mets say his club will not be out for revenge when it next meets Los Angeles.
"We've given them full reassurance that we're going there (only) to play baseball," Phillips said. "We've got to get ready for baseball season and we've got to prepare to play and also make sure that we're fully manned."
Mota hit Piazza in the sixth inning, and the normally reserved Mets catcher charged the mound.
After being restrained, Piazza attempted to enter the Dodgers' locker room, but Mota already had departed the ballpark. Los Angeles officials filed a complaint with the commissioner's office over the incident.
Piazza also was fined $3,000, and Mota $1,500.
When the two teams play at Mexico City later this week, Piazza was listed on the Mets' travel list, and Mota was not on the Dodgers. Baseball's disciplinarians hit both players with five-game regular-season suspensions Monday afternoon.
"We just heard the ruling from the commissioner's office and we plan to support Mike in whatever course of action he decides to take," Phillips said.
"Naturally I'm disappointed in the ruling," Piazza said. "I have seven days to weigh my options. I plan to use that time to decide what course of action I will take."
Iverson, Francis NBA Players of Week
Iverson, the Eastern Conference winner, averaged 28.0 points, 6.7 assists, 4.0 steals and 3.0 rebounds to lead the Sixers to a 3-0 record. Iverson's efforts drew Philadelphia within one-half game of first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.
Iverson capped his week with 31 points, six steals, five assists and three rebounds in Sunday's 92-87 victory over the Nets.
Francis, the Western Conference recipient, averaged 20.0 points, 8.3 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals in a 3-0 week for the Rockets.
NCAA makes plan for BYU adjustment
INDIANAPOLIS, March 18 (UPI) -- Brigham Young will move to another region of the NCAA basketball tournament if it wins twice this weekend.
BYU is a Mormon school, and by law, is not allowed to play on Sundays. The Cougars, who stunned UNLV Saturday in the Mountain West Tournament championship game, have been seeded 12th in the South Region, and are scheduled for Thursday-Saturday games in the field of 65.
Because of the school's policy, if the Cougars advance to next week's regionals, the NCAA has determined it will send them to the Midwest Regional in Minneapolis, which is a Thursday/Saturday setup, instead of the South Regional in San Antonio, which is Friday/Sunday.
The Daily Herald reported Monday that the school's Athletic Director, Val Hale, sent a letter to the NCAA on Aug. 7, 2002, telling the organization of BYU's policy. The paper said Hale was able to speak with two members of the NCAA Selection Committee Sunday night.
"I think the key thing is no matter who we play, we're going to have to play our best basketball of the year to win," said Coach Steve Cleveland. "That's what we have to go in prepared to do."
Although the Cougars will be a heavy underdog, Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun is concerned about them.
"I don't like the team we're playing," Calhoun said. "I don't think they're a 12 seed, and I do think we are a five. We got a tough draw, but I think that BYU feels like: `Just what we needed, Connecticut, after going 23-8.' You are going to have to beat some folks, somewhere and someway. We'll make it a two-day tournament and see if we can get ourselves advanced."
Another surgery for Grant Hill
ORLANDO, Fla., March 18 (UPI) -- Oft-injured Grant Hill of Orlando is headed for an expected fourth operation on his left ankle.
Hill has been sidelined since Jan. 16. He will have his ankle fracture addressed and re-aligned Tuesday. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Nunley will perform the procedure, which also will include re-shaping the heel.
Hill, 30, has had three surgeries to repair a stress fracture on the inside of his left ankle during the past three seasons. He sustained the injury in the 2000 playoffs while with the Detroit Pistons.
Now in the third year of a seven-year, $93 million deal, Hill played just four games in 2000-01, 14 games last season, and 29 of 67 games this season.
When he was healthy earlier this season, he formed a potent 1-2 punch with Tracy McGrady and the Magic got off to a good start, winning five of their first six games.
The Magic currently are 34-33 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The 6-8 Hill is averaging 14.6 points while shooting just under 50 percent from the field. He was voted an All-Star starter each of his first six years with the Pistons, and averaged a career-high 25.8 points in 1999-2000.
NIT schedule announced
NEW YORK, March 18 (UPI) -- Boston College, led by star guard Troy Bell, was one of six Big East teams invited to the 40-team NIT field late Sunday.
Boston College (18-11) expected to play in the NCAA Tournament after winning seven out of its last nine games, but the Eagles were snubbed and chose to accept a bid to the NIT. The semifinals and final of the event are held at New York's Madison Square Garden, his favorite place to play, from April 1-3.
The tournament began Monday night, with Iowa beating Valparaiso, 62-60. The Eagles will play at Fairfield in an opening-round contest on Tuesday.
Other first-round matchups include, on Tuesday, Georgetown at Tennessee, DePaul at North Carolina, Drexel at Temple, and Villanova at Siena, and on Wednesday, Illinois-Chicago at Western Michigan, Providence at Richmond, Wichita State at Iowa State, College of Charleston at Kent State, Nevada at Texas Tech, UC-Santa Barbara at San Diego State, Ohio State at Georgia Tech, Eastern Washington at Wyoming, Seton Hall at Rhode Island, Minnesota at St. Louis, Boston University at St. John's, Brown at Virginia, Louisiana-Lafayette at Alabama-Birmingham, and Hawaii at UNLV.
"Just to play another game would make me happy," said Virginia forward Elton Brown. "Even thought it's not the NCAAs, the NIT is another game. If you do good in the NIT, people look at you like, 'They won in the NIT. It wasn't the big dance, but they played some good teams.'"
Last season, Memphis beat South Carolina in the title game.