In Sports from United Press International

May 26, 2003 at 3:30 PM
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Report: Brown leaving 76ers

PHILADELPHIA, May 26 (UPI) -- It appears Larry Brown has decided to quit as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and will a similar post with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer also reported Monday on its Web site that it has been told by sources that Brown's resignation will lead to unemployed Jeff Van Gundy and Portland Coach Maurice Cheeks, a former 76er player, becoming the leading candidates for the Philadelphia job.

The 76ers have scheduled a news conference for 4:00 Eastern time, when it is speculated that Brown's job status will be the topic. A team spokesman would not confirm the report.

Because he still has two years left on his contract, the team has the power to prevent him from filling a similar post with another NBA team by not releasing him from the deal.

It has been rumored recently that Brown wants out of Philadelphia, and sources say the fact that star guard Allen Iverson showed up just 30 minutes before game time the night the 76ers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs against Detroit did not help matters.

Brown and Iverson have had a volatile relationship for years. It appeared things smoothed over this season, but the playoff game incident apparently was the last straw.

Philadelphia Board Chairman Ed Snider told the Philadelphia Daily News last week that his team needed to "move on" if Brown had lost his enthusiasm for coaching the 76ers. He also told the paper that he thought Brown was leaning toward not returning.

Brown, enshrined to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, is the only coach in NBA history to lead six different teams to the playoffs, and has over 1,000 wins in the ABA and NBA.

His tenure with the Sixers has been his longest on a resume that also includes stints with the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Carolina Cougars of the ABA.

He also spent five seasons at Kansas, winning the NCAA title in 1988, and coached at UCLA for two years. His crowning achievement in Philadelphia came in 2001, when he was named NBA Coach of the Year after guiding the Sixers to the NBA Finals for the first time in 18 seasons.

Brown took over a sagging Philadelphia franchise in 1997, and after going 31-51 in his first season, he built the franchise into a perennial contender. He has amassed a 255-205 record at Philadelphia, including five straight playoff appearances.

Overall in 20 seasons as an NBA coach, Brown has compiled a record of 879-685 record. His overall career record as a coach is an impressive 1,285-853.

He has been rumored on the go several times.

In 2000, Brown nearly left the Sixers to take a similar job at North

Carolina, his alma mater. He has said in the past that former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith offered him the job, but was overruled by school administrators.

After Matt Doherty resigned as coach of the Tar Heels in April,

Brown again was mentioned as a candidate, but Kansas Coach and former North Carolina assistant Roy Williams eventually was hired.

At Cleveland, he would be back in an element where he thrives and loves ? coaching and teaching young players.

The Cavaliers are expected to select Akron, Ohio high school phenom LeBron James with the first pick in the NBA draft on June 26. Jeff Van Gundy also is said to be a candidate to coach in Cleveland, and rumors have indicated fired New Orleans Coach Paul Silas also is in the running.

At halftime of a recent broadcast by the cable TV network TNT of the San Antonio-Dallas playoff series, James did not hide his admiration for Brown.

"I think Larry Brown is a great teacher if we could get him," James said during a halftime interview. "I consider myself a student of the game, so Larry Brown would be great."

Brown also has a busy summer ahead.

He is scheduled to coach Team USA in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico in August. The U.S. will be competing to win a spot in the 2004 Olympics.

If Brown does not take another NBA job, his coaching status for coaching Team USA is not expected to be affected.

As a player, Brown was a member of the 1964 gold medal U.S. Olympic team.

Nowitzki doubtful for Game Five

DALLAS, May 26 (UPI) -- If Coach Don Nelson has his way, All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki will not play Tuesday night against San Antonio in Game Five of the Western Conference finals.

Nowitzki was sidelined Sunday night because of a sprained left knee, and without him, the Mavericks lost to the Spurs, 102-95, in Game Four.

He was injured in the fourth quarter of Friday night's loss, but spent a great deal of time Sunday trying to convince Nelson that he could play. He was not happy when Nelson shut him down.

"I will not jeopardize his career at this point," Nelson told the Dallas Morning News before Sunday's contest. "That would be pretty silly. When he came to the U.S., his father told me that I'm his father in America. He's his father in Germany, and as his father in America, he will not play (Game 4)."

"I'm just 24 years old, and hopefully I've got a lot of basketball in front of me," Nowitzki said. "The risk would have been just a little too high, so I understand that. It only makes sense if you're 100 percent. If you're not, you're only going to hurt your team. I want to be pain-free, so Tuesday we'll see how it feels."

Nelson is expected to make a final decision about Nowitzki's playing status some point on Monday.

"I think Dirk has a chance to play in the next game," Nelson said. "I want to look at him and talk to him and see how he feels. I want to watch Dirk move and see if I think he'll be able to play in Game 5."

Game Five will be played at SBC Center in San Antonio, and the Spurs can win the series with a victory. Their lead at the moment, three games to one.

Serena, Agassi advance at Roland Garros

PARIS, May 26 (UPI) -- Defending champion Serena Williams needed just 54 minutes Monday to advance to the second round of the French Open.

The women's world No. 1 and current holder of all the grand slam titles thrashed Barbara Rittner of Germany, 6-2, 6-1.

"I felt pretty good," Williams said. "Normally when you go into the first round, I'm a little nervous because no one wants to lose in the first round, especially of a Grand Slam, but I felt like I'm almost where I want to be."

She broke Rittner in the third game with a backhand dropshot on the line that gave her a 2-1 lead.

Rittner hit back immediately to level the set at 2-2, but Williams' great returns and overall power proved too much, and the German managed to win just one more game.

Williams was so dominant in the second set that she needed only 10 minutes to grab a 4-0 lead, and eventually wrapped up the match by breaking Rittner's serve at love.

"It was upsetting to lose my serve there because I wanted to be more focused, I had to keep my bearings straight," Williams said, "but the court was playing well, it was not too slow nor fast."

The 21-year-old American began her glorious run a year ago at the French, then claimed Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and this year's Australian Open.

She beat her older sister, Venus, in all four finals.

"It takes a new level for me to be able to win another Grand Slam, and obviously I would like to win here again," Serena said. "A lot of players believe that I am the player to beat in any tournament, but that is why I play tennis -- to be remembered."

Also in the women's top 16 seeds, No. 16 Ai Sugiyama (16) beat Virginia Ruano Pascual, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

On the men's side, No. 5 Roger Federer was upset by unseeded Luis Horna, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 7-6 (7-3); tenth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand was knocked off by Dominik Hrbaty, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5; and No. 11 Rainer Schuettler, the Australian Open runner-up, beat Cecil Mamiit, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Inconsistency once again dogged Federer.

Monday, he was sent packing by the 88th-ranked player in the world.

"Obviously it's a big disappointment," Federer said. "I am very sad to leave so early. It's not fun. I thought I had a better chance than that."

He came to Roland Garros with tournament wins at Marseille, Dubai and Munich, but committed 82 unforced errors on the way to his second straight first-round loss at the French. Last year, he was beaten by Hicham Arazi of Israel.

"I definitely think I helped him," Federer said. "He didn't play a bad match, but I didn't play a good match and so one helps the other. I'm very disappointed in my performance today. I know that this year I was a favorite here, but obviously this surface is extremely hard."

Horna, who was routed by Federer in Miami only two months ago, won his first Grand Slam match in his third attempt. The 22-year-old from Lima immediately declared the victory his career highlight.

Meanwhile, second seed and 1999 winner Andre Agassi opened with an easy 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Karol Beck of Slovakia in 95 minutes.

Agassi, 33, making his 15th appearance at the French, has a chance at a Grand Slam himself after destroying the field at Melbourne for his eighth career major.

No. 4 Carlos Moya of Spain, the 1998 champion, battled past lucky loser Filippo Volandri of Italy, 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, dispatched Julien Boutter of France, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Also, No. 13 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic cruised past French wild card Julien Benneteau, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; and qualifier Galo Blanco of Spain upended countryman and two-time French runner-up, No. 16 Alex Corretja, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5.

Clemens trying for historic No. 300

NEW YORK, May 26 (UPI) -- Weather-permitting, veteran pitcher Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees went after his 300th career victory Monday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox.

If he gets the win, it will be a huge irony. Not only is Boston, the Yankees' most-intense rival, Clemens began his major league career with the Red Sox. Also, he got the bulk of his 299 wins as a member of the Red Sox, 107.

He will also be trying to help the Yankees stop a home-field losing streak. The Yankees have lost seven in a row at home, and 11 of their last 12 overall. The seven-game losing streak is their longest since a 10-game skid from May 26-June 29, 1986.

With the loss, New York fell to 8-15 in May, assuring the club of its first losing month since September 2000.

"The irony is we need a win and Roger is just the guy to send out there to do it for us," Manager Joe Torre said after Sunday's 5-3 loss to Toronto, "He's got a lot of things on his plate, but hopefully he'll lift some of the pressure off us (Monday)."

If and when he gets No. 300, Clemens will be the first pitcher from the era of the five-man rotation to do it. He has averaged about 30 starts a season, and is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, where he will join the likes of Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and Don Sutton, among others.

"We're licking our wounds right now," Torre said. "Our pride is a little hurt, and we're taking our licks right now. It's not just about 300 for him. I think he'd like to pick up the whole team.''

Rain was in the Memorial Day forecast in New York City, and it rained all morning, but the game did begin under partially sunny skies.

Pirates activate Fogg from DL

CHICAGO, May 26 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates Monday activated pitcher Josh Fogg from the 15-day disabled list.

The righthander has been sidelined since April 22 with a strained left oblique muscle. He was supposed to start Monday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs.

Fogg has been on the DL since April 20 with a strained left oblique. He said he's ready after throwing 83 pitches six innings in a rehab start with Triple-A Nashville of the International League last Wednesday without any pain.

"I felt fine," Fogg told, the official Web site of Major League Baseball. "I asked to go out for another inning. I've been letting it go, and I haven't felt a thing for 2 1/2 weeks."

In four starts this season, Fogg is 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA, allowing five home runs in 20 2/3 innings. He also has walked five batters while giving up 19 hits and striking out 11.

To make room on the roster for Fogg, the Pirates designated righthanded reliever Pat Mahomes for assignment. In two appearances, Mahomes gave up two runs and two hits over five innings.

NCAA names World Series field

INDIANAPOLIS, May 26 (UPI) -- Florida State was selected Monday as one of the eight national seeds in the 64-team field for the College World Series.

The Seminoles (50-10-1), making their 41st tournament appearance and 26th in a row, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.

Each regional winner will advance to the super regionals, which will be contested from June 6-9. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts on June 13 at Omaha, Neb.

Florida State takes on Jacksonville (32-28) in its first game. The Seminoles never have won a national championship, although they have been a runner-up three times.

The seven other national seeds are: Louisiana State (40-19-1), Georgia Tech (44-16), which beat FSU Sunday, 10-7, in the ACC title game; Auburn (40-19), Rice (48-10), Stanford (41-15), Cal State-Fullerton (43-13), and Miami (39-14-1).

Teams selected as national seeds cannot meet until the College World Series. There are 16 overall No. 1 seeds.

Miami secured its 31st straight appearance in the field, extending its own NCAA record. The Hurricanes meet Bethune-Cookman (30-26) in their first game.

Defending national champion Texas (43-17) gained also gained a top seed, and will take on Bucknell (27-14) in its opener.

The Southeastern Conference led the way with eight selections, with the ACC and Big 12 were next with five teams each.

Murray State (25-29), which won the Ohio Valley tournament, is the only team in the field with a losing record.

Virginia wins NCAA lacrosse title

BALTIMORE, May 26 (UPI) -- Virginia captured its third NCAA lacrosse title with a 9-7 victory over Johns Hopkins Monday before a record crowd of 37,944 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

A.J. Shannon scored four goals and goalie Tillman Johnson made 13 saves for the second-seeded Cavaliers (15-2), whose previous championships came in 1972 and '99.

Johns Hopkins (14-2) failed in its bid to win its eighth NCAA title and first since 1987. The top-seeded Blue Jays had not been to the championship game since capturing its last title.

Chris Rotelli added a goal and four assists for Virginia, which avenged an 8-7 loss to the Blue Jays earlier this season. The Cavaliers had also avenged a loss in the semifinal round with an 8-7 win over Maryland.

Rotelli helped his team get off to a good start, scoring on the Cavaliers' first shot of the game. Shannon followed with his first goal to make it 2-0 less than five minutes into the match.

Shannon scored his second goal and Billy Gladling also tallied, giving the Cavaliers a 4-0 advantage after one quarter. It marked just the fourth time this season that Johns Hopkins went scoreless in a quarter.

Joe McDermott scored early in the second quarter, and Bobby Benson and Corey Harned tallied in a nine-second span as Johns Hopkins clawed within 6-4 at halftime.

The Blue Jays pulled within one goal with 5:41 to play in the third quarter on a tally by Greg Peyser.

John Christmas then scored with a man advantage, and Shannon tallied in the waning seconds of the third quarter, extending the Cavaliers' lead to 8-5.

Tillman, who had 18 saves in the semifinal victory, made the lead stand up. Early in the fourth quarter, he made three big saves from close range.

Alabama recruit killed in car accident

MURPHY, N.C., May 26 (UPI) -- Krista Watson, a basketball signee for the women's team at the University of Alabama, died early Saturday morning in a car crash.

She was 18.

Watson was killed near Murphy, N.C., when the car she was driving came around a curve in the road and collided head-on into an oncoming truck. She was on her way to her high school graduation in Murphy, where she had transferred from Gainesville (Ga.) High School.

A police report indicated Watson was driving at a rate of speed.

"We just can't believe that this happened on a day that was supposed to be one of the happiest days in her life," her mother, Pamela Watson, told the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times. "Her life was coming together in such a perfect way, and then she was gone."

"She had all her dreams and future ahead of her. It's like a nightmare," said Alabama women's basketball coach Rick Moody. "While this is definitely a loss for our program, right now that seems small compared to the loss for her family and friends."

The 6-4 Watson was signed by Alabama in November after a stellar prep career. She led Greater Atlanta Christian School to 2A state championships in 2001 and 2002 before spending her senior year at Gainesville High.

The town of Murphy is located in western North Carolina. It sits on the borders of three states -- Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Watson had been transported from the site of the accident to a hopital in nearby Chattanooga.

The Citizen-Times reported that Watson had moved there with her parents in December.

"She was a great player," Murphy High School Athletic Director David Gentry told the paper. "But even more than that, she was a great kid. We only had her for half of the school year, but the time we had with her was wonderful."

Watson played for Murphy for the six months she attended the school. Ironically, the paper reported, she was the third Murphy senior killed in an auto accident in the past three years.

Report: Jefferson signs with Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich., May 26 (UPI) -- The Detroit Lions apparently have agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, a 12-year veteran.

He averaged 14.6 yards on 27 receptions with Atlanta last season.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Jefferson, 34, agreed to a one-year deal for $775,000, including a $25,000 signing bonus. He will be a mentor to rookie Charles Rogers of Michigan State, who was the Lions' No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and second overall.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder caught 27 passes for 394 yards and one touchdown last season for the Falcons. In his career, he has 464 career receptions for 6,977 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Jefferson has been durable in his pro career, having played in every game in 10 of his 12 seasons. The two years he did not play every game were last year, when he missed three games, and 1996, when he missed one.

He also has played for San Diego and New England. The Falcons released him in February in a salary-cap move.

Jefferson has his best campaign in 2000, caught a career-high 60 passes for Atlanta for 822 yards and two touchdowns.

Stampeders ink Phillips

CALGARY, Alberta, May 26 (UPI) -- Talented but personally troubled running back Lawrence Phillips has another job after being signed late Sunday by Calgary of the Canadian Football League.

Phillips had been waived earlier this month by the rival and defending CFL champion Montreal Alouettes.

Contract terms were not disclosed.

The announcement was made by Calgary Coach Jim Barker, who with Phillips last year helped the Alouettes win the Grey Cup championship.

It will be another new lease on life for Phillips, who has found trouble virtually everywhere he has played. He was released by the Alouettes on May 1 for not meeting "minimum behavioral standards."

He claims that will not happen with the Stampeders, whose coach now is Barker, the offensive coordinator for Montreal last season.

Phillips told the Calgary Sun he will not betray Barker's trust.

"That's huge for me and that's why I'm so glad to be here," Phillips, 28, told the Sun Sunday after the first full day of training camp. "(Barker) stuck his neck out for me and I plan on making him look good for doing that."

"Lawrence and I have a great relationship and I'm hopeful we can keep that," Barker told the paper.

In 2002, Phillips rushed for 1,022 yards and 13 touchdowns on 187 carries, or 5.5 yards per, and also caught 33 passes for 292 yards.

Throughout his career, Phillips has shown ability but also the inability to stay out of trouble.

He helped Nebraska win a pair of national championships in the mid-1990s and was an NFL first-round pick, but has run afoul of the law nearly everywhere.

At Nebraska, he was given probation after pleading no contest to beating his ex-girlfriend. He was chosen sixth overall in 1996 by the St. Louis Rams, but was arrested three times and spent 23 days in jail during a year and a half with the team.

In 1998, Phillips was released by the Miami Dolphins after he was charged with hitting a woman at a Florida nightclub. He again pleaded no contest and received probation.

The following year, he was released by the San Francisco 49ers, reportedly because of repeated insubordination. In December 2000, he was sentenced to six months in jail after again pleading no contest to felony counts of beating his girlfriend seven months earlier in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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