In Sports from United Press International

June 11, 2002 at 11:58 PM
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Nets coach has comeback thoughts

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., June 12 (UPI) -- New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott admitted Tuesday that he has thought about the idea of his team coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the LA Lakers to win the NBA Finals.

Game Four in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night at New Jerseyy.

No team ever has won any NBA playoff series after losing the first three games, let alone the Finals. But Scott believes it is not out of the realm of possibility.

"I thought about it yesterday," Scott said. "Because I read what a lot of people say--'We have no chance,' 'The series is over.' I read that against Boston after we lost Game Three (of the Eastern Conference finals). I know the character of this team. I know the make-up of this team."

In that game, the Nets set a dubious record by squandering a 21-point fourth-quarter lead. It marked their second straight loss and put them in a 2-1 hole in the series. By all accounts, it was a demoralizing setback and should have had a profound effect on the Nets. But they rebounded with three straight wins to take the series.

The Celtics aren't the Lakers, who are gunning for their third straight title and have yet to encounter any serious problems in this series. However, Scott is counting on a bit of overconfidence from them.

"I know that history is against us doing this," he said. "It's almost written down as being impossible. But I do also know that if we go out there and we compete and we don't let our guards down and they let their guards down, we win a game, and then we win the next game and it's a series again. Then you never know what happens. That's what we want to do. We want to prolong this thing, because you never know what's going to happen."

In the 1988 NBA Finals, Scott's Lakers trailed the Detroit Pistons, 3-2, before heading home for Game Six. In that game, Pistons guard Isiah Thomas severely sprained his ankle. He hobbled through the rest of that contest and the first half of Game Seven before sitting down the entire second half. The Lakers won in seven games.

"Guys get hurt. Guys get bumps and bruises," Scott said. "Guys all of a sudden are not playing as well. They start losing confidence. The longer we prolong the series, the better chance we have of winning it."

Dartmouth AD resigns in resume flap

HANOVER, N.H., June 12 (UPI) -- Charles S. Harris has withdrawn his acceptance of the offer to become the new Director of Athletics and Recreation at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

On Tuesday, after speaking with Dean of the College James A. Larimore, Harris notified Larimore that he had declined the offer.

"I have accepted Charles' decision to withdraw," said Larimore. "One of the chief considerations for both Charles and me was the fact that, after the conclusion of the search process, questions arose concerning his representation of his educational record to a previous employer. Charles decided that it would be difficult to accept this appointment under these circumstances. I very much regret, both for Charles' sake and for that of the College, that this is the case. He has compiled an outstanding professional record in 25 years as an athletic administrator and I believe he would have brought many strengths to the position of Director of Athletics and Recreation at Dartmouth. All of us at Dartmouth wish him the very best."

Harris had been named to the post June 6 after spending six years as the Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He previously the AD's posts at Arizona State and the University of Pennsylvania.

"I am terribly disappointed to learn of this development," said Dartmouth President James Wright. "I have had the privilege of working with Charles Harris through my involvement with the NCAA Board of Directors. I have found him to be an impressive, thoughtful colleague."

Bedanova among first-round winners

BIRMINGHAM, England, June 12 (UPI) -- No. 9 seed Daja Bedanova of Czechoslovakia and No. 10 Alexandra Stevenson of the United States were among the first-round winners on Tuesday as play finally began in the DFS Classic.

Rain washed out play in the grasscourt tournament on Monday.

Bedanova defeated Saori Obata of Japan, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), and Stevenson was a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) winner over Wynne Prakusya of Indonesia.

Three other seeded players advanced on Tuesday. No. 11 Ai Sugiyama of Japan defeated Svetlana Krivencheva of Bulgaria, 6-2, 6-1; 11th seed Magui Serna of Spain topped Elena Baltacha of Britain, 6-1, 6-3; and No. 14 Nicole Pratt of Australia topped Slovakia's 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

Several matches involving seeded players either were suspended or postponed due to darkness. One of those involved surprise French Open semifinalist Clarisa Fernandez of Argentina, who never started her match with No. 15 Adriana Serra Zanetti of Italy.

France exits World Cup without a goal

INCHEON, Korea, June 12 (UPI) -- France, touted as the most powerful soccer team in the world, is going home much earlier than anyone anticipated. Senegal, making its first appearance on the sport's most significant stage, will be staying around for a while.

What had seemed impossible before the start of the World Cup became reality Tuesday as the defending champions made their way to the exit in what will be viewed in their home country as complete disgace.

"I accept the defeat as I have accepted the victories," French coach Roger Lemerre. The folks back home will likely not be as gracious.

The World Cup entered a dramatic phase Tuesday with the playing of the first four of the 16 final group matches. In almost every match over the course of four straight days, a berth in the second round will be on the line.

On Tuesday, spots in the second round went to Denmark, Senegal, Germany and Ireland. Missing from that group was France, which won the 1998 World Cup on home soil and backed that up by winning the European championship two years ago.

This time, however, the No. 1 ranked team in the world could not manage a single goal in any of its three matches. Needing a two-goal victory Tuesday over Denmark to advance to the second round, France fell to the Danes in Incheon, 2-0. That gave Denmark first place in Group A and Senegal claimed the second spot by holding on for a 3-3 tie with Uruguay in Suwon.

The other games played Tuesday came in Group E, where Germany captured first place in Shizuoka thanks to a 2-0 victory over Cameroon in a mean-spirited game that saw 53 fouls called. That outcome gave Ireland the chance to advance with a win over Saudi Arabia and the Irish did so with a 3-0 decision in Yokohama.

The four teams that advanced Tuesday will learn their second-round opponents Wednesday when the final games in Group B and Group F are played.

Four seeds lose at Tashkent Open

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, June 12 (UPI) -- No. 2 Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus advanced, but four other seeded players were knocked off Tuesday in the first round of the Tashkent Open.

Poutchek beat Mariona Gallifa Puigdesens of Spain, 6-2, 6-3 to join top seed Marie-Gaianel Mikaelian of Switzerland and No. 3 Tathiana Garbin of Italy in the second round. Mikaelian and Garbin won their first-round matches on Monday.

The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth seeds failed to survive the first round. Dinara Safina of Russia beat No. 4 Seda Noorlander of the Netherlands, 6-4, 6-1; Roberta Vinci of Italy defeated fifth-seeded Evie Dominikovic, 6-3, 7-5; and Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada beat No. 6 Fabiola Zuluaga, 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday.

Seventh-seeded Alena Vaskova of the Czech Republic was eliminated on Monday by Nadejda Ostrovskaya and Lioudmila Skavronskaia of Russia beat No. 8 Milagros Sequera of Venezuela, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 on Tuesday.

Kevin Brown having back surgery

LOS ANGELES, June 12 (UPI) -- Veteran righthander Kevin Brown of the Los Angeles Dodgers, already battling arm problems, underwent surgery to repair a protruding disc in his lower back.

Brown is on the disabled list for the second time this year and could end up missing the remainder of the season. He was placed on the 15-day DL on May 27 with a posterior medial sprain in his right elbow.

The 37-year-old Brown, who made three trips to the DL last season starting with a strained right Achilles tendon, became the highest-paid player in the major leagues when he signed a seven-year, $105 million contract with the Dodgers in December 1998.

He went 31-15 in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, but was limited to 19 starts last year, when he was 10-4. In nine starts this season, Brown is 2-3 with a 4.06 ERA. He has allowed 22 runs, 20 earned, and 45 hits in 44 1/3 innings, with 11 walks and 38 strikeouts.

Sampras advances at Gerry Weber Open

HALLE, Germany, June 12 (UPI) -- American Pete Sampras, gearing up for a run at an eighth Wimbledon title, overcame a slow start Tuesday to avoid an opening-round exit in his first appearance in the Gerry Weber Open.

The fourth-seeded Sampras, who received a wild card berth just prior to the start of the tournament, rallied to defeat Russian Andrei Stoliarov, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Sampras enters the grass court season looking to end a title drought that has lasted almost two years. He has not won since claiming his seventh Wimbledon title in 2000.

Top seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, a two-time winner here, continued his domination of Jonas Borkman, posting a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to improve to 9-0 all-time against the Swede.

Kafelnikov has had a disappointing year, ranking just 34th in the ATP Champions race. He posted a 2-10 record during the clay season and is just 18-18 overall in 2002.

Third seed and defending champion Thomas Johansson also was forced into a first-set tiebreaker, but advanced with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 victory over Germany's Axel Pretzsch.

Smashnova, Schnyder reach second round

VIENNA, June 12 (UPI) -- No. 4 Anna Smashnova of Israel and No. 5 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland led four seeds Tuesday into the second round of the Wien Energie Grand Prix.

Smashnova, a recent semifinalist at the German Open, beat Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland, 6-2, 6-2, while Schnyder, the runner-up here last year, needed three sets to get past Martina Sucha of Slovakia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

No. 7 seed Cristina Torrens-Volero of Spain ousted Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, and No. 8 Henrietta Nagyova, also of Slovakia, outlasted Marta Marrero of Spain, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

In matches involving unseeded players, Germany's Barbara Rittner defeated Hungary's Zsofia Gubacsi, 6-1, 6-4, Spain's Conchita Martinez toppled Austria's Daniela Kix, 7-5, 6-1, and Patricia Wartusch, also of Austria, got past Paraguay's Rosanna Neffa-de los Rios, 6-3, 7-5.

Also, Croatia's Jelena Kostanic dispatched Ukraine's Yulia Beygelzimer, 7-5, 6-3, Slovakia's Maja Matevzic downed Germany's Anca Barna, 7-5, 6-3, and Hungary's Petra Mandula advanced with a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of Spain's Gala Leon Garcia.

Red Wings D Fischer suspended

DETROIT, June 12 (UPI) -- The NHL handed Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer a one-game suspension on Tuesday for an illegal crosscheck.

Fischer delivered a crosscheck to the face of Carolina Hurricanes forward Tommy Westlund in the third period of Monday's 3-0 victory. No penalty was called on the play.

"Mr. Fischer's suspension was based on the fact that he delivered an intentional crosscheck to the face of a Carolina player," said Colin Campbell, NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations. "There was nothing about the event that could be deemed related to the play."

Detroit leads the Stanley cup series, 3-1.

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