Sports Briefs

Bethany Softball 2nd in PAC Poll

GREENVILLE, Pa. – The Bethany College softball team finished in a three-way tie for second place in the 2013 PAC Softball Coaches Preseason Poll, which was released Wednesday.

The Bison had one first place vote and 74 points to finish in a three-way tie with defending league champion Geneva (two first place votes) and Thiel (one first place vote).

Miami defeats Chicago, 86-67

CHICAGO – LeBron James scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and the Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 86-67 Thursday for their season-high ninth straight win.

James also had seven assists in another big performance after seeing his franchise-record run of scoring at least 30 end at seven games the previous night in Atlanta.

Crook to replace Bedenbaugh

MORGANTOWN – Multiple publish reports Thursday suggested West Virginia University will hire former West Liberty university coach – and graduate – Ron Crook as Bill Bedenbaugh’s replacement as offensive line coach.

A Parkersburg native, Crook spent the last two seasons as tight ends and offensive tackles coach at Stanford, where he spent one year as coach of Andrew Luck, son of WVU athletics director Oliver Luck.

Prior to his arrival at Stanford, Crook spent eight seasons (2003-10) as offensive line coach at Harvard. He also had tenures at Illinois, WLU (helping the Hilltoppers to the 2000 WVIAC title), Glenville State, Clarion, West Virginia Tech and Cincinnati.

Crook broke into the collegiate coaching ranks at West Liberty, where he served as a student assistant, working primarily with the tight ends. He also served as the offensive line coach for three seasons (1990-92).

Woods, McIlroy eliminated

MARANA, Ariz. – In a stunning conclusion Thursday, Shane Lowry made a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole to eliminate McIlroy in the opening round of golf’s most unpredictable tournament. It was the third time in the last four years the No. 1 seed went home after one round.

Moments later, Charles Howell III beat the second-seeded Woods on the 17th hole. Howell nearly holed a wedge for birdie on the 16th and made a 25-foot birdie on the 16th to seize control.

Wozniacki to face Kvitova

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – After a surprise withdraw by an injured Serena Williams, former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 Thursday to set up a semifinal against Caroline Wozniacki in the Dubai Championships.

Rousey Looking to Retain Bantamweight Title

Ronda Rousey has an Olympic judo medal, a commanding presence and a merciless string of victories in her short mixed martial arts career.

Now she’s finally got a showcase worthy of her formidable talent.

Rousey and Liz Carmouche will make history Saturday night at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., when they meet in the first women’s bout in UFC history.

They’re the main event at UFC 157, and Rousey is the star of the pay-per-view show. It’s a remarkable rise in less than two years for Rousey, a bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics who swiftly picked up MMA before her pro debut in March 2011.

After six straight victories by painful armbar submissions, Rousey is a huge favorite to retain the UFC women’s bantamweight belt.

Sports Briefs

Ref Riveron gets big promotion

NEW YORK – The NFL has promoted Alberto Riveron, the league’s first Hispanic referee, to senior director of officiating.

The 52-year-old Riveron takes the newly created position as second in command of the department under new vice president of officiating Dean Blandino.

In his new job, Riveron will oversee the NFL’s instant replay program and assist Blandino in assignment and evaluation of officials, and developing and distributing weekly training videos and other materials to improve accuracy and consistency.

Browns to update facility

CLEVELAND (AP) – The Browns aren’t just rebuilding their roster. They’re renovating their headquarters.

The team said Tuesday it has hired Westlake Reed Leskosky, a Cleveland-based firm to remodel its training facility and administrative building in Berea, Ohio. Browns CEO Joe Banner wants most of the team’s employees working in one place, and there are currently some at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Browns’ complex, which was built in 1991 and includes an indoor field house and four outdoor fields, was previously renovated in 1999 and 2009. Construction on the project will start next month and should be completed by mid-July.

Nash out for N.Y. Rangers

NEW YORK – Rangers top-line forward Rick Nash is sitting out his first game of the season because of an undisclosed injury.

Whatever is ailing Nash threatened his playing status for Sunday’s 2-1 home victory over the Washington Capitals, but he was in the lineup.

New York coach John Tortorella would only say then that Nash, in his first season with the Rangers, was “banged up.”

Nash was well enough to play after warmups Sunday, and he earned an assist and tied his season-high with eight shots in the game. He has three goals and nine assists with the Rangers this season.

U.S., Iran agree on wrestling

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Arch foes Iran and the U.S. have found some common ground in the fight to save wrestling as an Olympic sport.

U.S. wrestling coach Zeke Jones says the mission has brought the two countries closer despite decades of diplomatic estrangement. He calls the sport an important “ambassador,” suggesting possible cooperation to fight an International Olympic Committee decision to drop wrestling from the 2020 Games.

Jones was quoted Tuesday by Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying the sport has brought together many nations, among them the U.S. and Iran. Iran has said it is looking to join wrestling’s major powers to reverse the IOC decision.

Bynum will play for 76ers soon

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Andrew Bynum says he plans on making his season debut for the Philadelphia 76ers this year, though he’s still a week or two away from practicing with the team.

The 7-foot center has been sidelined by knee injuries since the Sixers acquired him from the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.

Bynum’s timetable for return has been pushed back numerous times since training camp.

Sports Briefs

NBA puts stat history online

HOUSTON – Sure, LeBron James has been on an amazing roll, but what about what Wilt Chamberlain did in 1962? Now fans can study both in one place like never before.

The NBA put its entire statistical history online Friday, launching a website that allows fans to review box scores, shot charts, game logs and newer data that has changed the way players are rated.

Previously available only to teams and league personnel, and only recently to media, it’s there for everyone at NBA.com/stats.

5-car wreck at Daytona practice

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- It took about 10 minutes to wreck several cars at Daytona International Speedway Friday.

Matt Kenseth triggered a five-car accident in the opening practice for the Sprint Unlimited, the non-points race that kicks off the season.

Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya were involved in the crash.

Busch’s No. 78 Chevrolet sustained the most damage, forcing the team to switch to a backup car for Saturday night’s exhibition event.

Williams ranked No. 1 after Qatar

DOHA, Qatar – An emotional Serena Williams has secured the No. 1 ranking after coming from a set down to beat former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to reach the Qatar Open semifinals Friday.

The 31-year-old American will become the oldest women’s player to be No. 1 in next week’s rankings.

Nursing a right ankle injury from the Australian Open, Williams struggled early on with the Czech’s serve and forehand. But she went on to win 13 of the final 14 points in the second set.

Nailers fall to Gladiators, 6-5

GWINNETT – The Gwinnett Gladiators came from behind in the third period to defeat the Wheeling Nailers, 6-5, on Friday night.

Although Wheeling was ahead 3-2 at the end of the first, the Nailers were unable to stave off the late rally. The Gladiators would amass a staggering 41 shots on net, nearly doubling the Nailers’ 24.

Nailers forward Chris Barton netted two goals for Wheeling.

Jacobson, Bae lead at Riviera

LOS ANGELES – A move down the California coast hasn’t changed a thing for Fredrik Jacobson.

One week after a solid finish at Pebble Beach, Jacobson birdied the two toughest holes at Riviera on Friday his way to a 6-under 65 and a share of the lead with Sang-Moon Bae going into the weekend at the Northern Trust Open.

Jacobson and Bae were at 9-under 133, one shot ahead of John Merrick (66) and John Rollins (65).

Still very much in the picture was Luke Donald, who chipped in twice for birdie and had a 66. Phil Mickelson had a 67 that included a double bogey on the 10th hole.

Sports Briefs

Rose far away from returning

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose says he’s “far away” from returning from knee surgery.

Sidelined all season, Rose has been practicing and traveling with the team. But in an interview with USA Today posted on Tuesday, he says he has no specific timetable for a return.

Rose says he’s not coming back until he’s “110 percent” and adds, “Who knows when that will be?” He says it could be any day, within a few weeks or even next year.

Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during last year’s playoff-opening win over Philadelphia, and the top-seeded Bulls wound up losing to the 76ers.

Snedeker will sit out Match Play

LOS ANGELES – Brandt Snedeker has withdrawn from the Match Play Championship next week because of sore ribs.

Snedeker is coming off a torrid stretch of golf in which he was runner-up in consecutive weeks to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and then won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am to rise to a career-best No. 4 in the world.

He said he first felt soreness in the left rib cage at the Humana Challenge a month ago, the only time this year he didn’t finish in the top three.

He would be replaced in the Match Play field by Fredrik Jacobson.

Blue Jackets fire Howson as GM

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Blue Jackets have fired general manager Scott Howson.

The move was announced by John Davidson, the club’s director of hockey operations, in an email on Tuesday night.

The announcement came roughly 24 hours after the Blue Jackets’ biggest win of the season, 6-2 over the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

During Howson’s tenure, the Blue Jackets went 173-190-59 and made their lone Stanley Cup playoff appearance after a franchise-best 41-31-10 mark in the 2008-09 season.

The club then fell on hard times and had the worst record in the NHL last season (29-46-7, 65 points).

Vonn mending after surgery

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The doctor who operated on Lindsey Vonn’s injured right knee thinks the four-time overall World Cup champion just might return to the circuit as soon as November.

That’s the goal, anyway, with Vonn being back in top form by the Sochi Games, where she will try to defend her Olympic downhill title.

Indians, Bourn agree to 4 years

CLEVELAND – Free agent outfielder Michael Bourn has agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with the Cleveland Indians.

Bourn, an All-Star with Atlanta last season, must pass a physical later this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed. Bourn batted .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and 42 steals last season for the Braves.

As long as there isn’t a hangup, the 30-year-old Bourn, who has remained on the market all winter, will move into the Indians’ starting lineup. He played center field last season and would give an immediate boost to a Cleveland team that has reloaded with the acquisition of free agent Nick Swisher, manager Terry Francona and starter Brett Myers.

Sports Briefs

Bedenbaugh on Top 50 recruiters

West Virginia offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh was named to 247Sports Top 50 recruiters list for 2013 on Friday.

Bedenbaugh, who like WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, is a graduate of Iowa Wesleyan. He is entering his third season at West Virginia, and also coached at Auburn, Texas Tech, and Central Michigan

Bedenbaugh was able to get commitments from linebacker Darrien Howard and offensive linemen Marcell Lazard, Grant Lingafelter, and Stone Underwood.

OSU assistant to also handle ST

COLUMBUS – Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has announced that cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs will also be in charge of the team’s special teams.

Coombs is in his 31st year of coaching, including his seventh on the collegiate level – and is just starting his second season with the Buckeyes. He spent five years at the University of Cincinnati and was special teams coordinator for three seasons (2009-11).

Coombs helped Ohio State to a 12-0 record this year.

Power company takes blame

NEW ORLEANS – The company that supplied electricity to the Super Bowl took the blame Friday for the power outage that brought the big game to a halt, explaining that a device designed specifically to prevent a blackout failed and plunged the game into darkness for more than half an hour.

The device called a relay had been installed to protect the Superdome from problems in the cable that links the company’s incoming power line with the lines that run into the stadium.

Officials from Entergy New Orleans said the relay functioned with no problems during January’s Sugar Bowl and other earlier events. It has been removed and will be replaced.

Weeden eager for competition

OKLAHOMA CITY – Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden says he knows he’s going to face competition to keep his starting job and he’s eager to face it.

Weeden said Friday during an appearance at Oklahoma Christian University that “unless you’re Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or these guys, you might as well expect for somebody to try to come take your job.” New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has said he expects Cleveland to bring in someone to compete against Weeden, who threw more interceptions than touchdowns during his rookie season.

Dallas Defeats Anaheim, 3-1

DALLAS – Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn scored power-play goals, Loui Eriksson added a third-period score and the Dallas Stars beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Friday night.

Eriksson gave the Stars some breathing room when he corralled Alex Goligoski’s cross-ice pass and fired a wrist shot past Anaheim goaltender Viktor Fasth with 7:14 remaining.

Goligoski, who was a healthy scratch Wednesday in Edmonton, added two assists for Dallas (6-5-1), which earned its third consecutive win.

Nick Bonino scored for the Ducks (7-2-1), who had won four in a row. It was the first regulation road loss this season for Anaheim.

Sports Briefs

Akron holds longest streak

AKRON, Ohio – The nation’s hottest college basketball team has much bigger plans. Akron wants to make some March madness of its own.

With a 14-game winning streak, a shot-swatting 7-foot center and NBA superstar LeBron James as one of their biggest supporters, the Zips intend to make a deep run in this year’s NCAA tournament. They’re on their way, which is what coach Keith Dambrot had in mind when he returned to coach at his alma mater nine years ago.

Bruins trade Thomas to N.Y.

NEW YORK – Veteran goalie Tim Thomas, who has said he won’t play this season, was traded by the Boston Bruins to the New York Islanders on Thursday for a conditional second-round draft choice either next year or in 2015.

Thomas chose to take this season off following the NHL lockout and was suspended by the Bruins after he didn’t report to training camp last month. The 38-year-old goalie is in the final season of a four-year deal that counts for $5 million against the salary cap.

The Islanders have plenty of room to fit Thomas’ salary on their cap, and this deal provides financial flexibility for the Bruins.

Browns complete coaching staff

CLEVELAND – Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has rounded out his staff by hiring five more assistants.

John Settle, who spent the past two seasons working with Chudzinski in Carolina, will coach Cleveland’s running backs. He takes over for Gary Brown, relieved after four seasons with the Browns. Settle coached the Panthers’ backs.

In addition to Settle, the Browns hired Chris DiSanto (assistant strength and conditioning), Ken Flajole (inside linebackers), Steve Gera (special assistant to the head coach) and Derik Keyes (assistant strength and conditioning).

Without Vonn, U.S. still hopeful

SCHLADMING, Austria – Exactly a year from the Sochi Olympics, there’s no Lindsey Vonn or Bode Miller competing in the downhill at the world championships.

They’re out of action, but the U.S. Ski Team still has plenty of skiers capable of winning medals – on both the men’s and women’s teams.

Start with Julia Mancuso. She already won a bronze in super-G, could be a threat in Friday’s super-combined and seeks her first podium of the season in Sunday’s women’s downhill.

Steven Nyman, from Sundance, Utah, grew up mowing Robert Redford’s lawn. He won the classic downhill in December in Val Gardena, Italy, after years of injuries. He appears in top form for the men’s downhill Saturday.

Penske to test Allmendinger

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – AJ Allmendinger will test an IndyCar for Penske Racing later this month to see if he can run the Indianapolis 500 for the storied organization.

Allmendinger lost his job with Penske in August when his suspension for failing a random drug test was upheld by NASCAR. He completed in the “Road to Recovery” program and was reinstated in September.

He’s not landed a full-time job yet in any series.

Allmendinger would likely run the April race at Barber to prepare for Indianapolis.

Sports Briefs

OU Lancaster tops OUE women

LANCASTER, Ohio – Reigning conference Most Valuable Player Kristy Swinehart led the way with 25 points as OU Lancaster nipped OUE, 71-63, on Sunday afternoon.

OUE (16-6 overall, 11-3 ORRC) led 31-30 at the half but OUL took control midway through the second half. Monroe Central’s Alex Kuhn paced the Panthers with 22 points. Shadyside’s Kelsey Holloway also hit for double figures as she finished with 16 points and five steals.

OUE men up mark to 16-4

LANCASTER, Ohio – The OUE men (16-4) earned a hard-fought 87-81 victory against the homestanding OU Lancaster Lancers on Sunday.

The Panthers were led by Devin Ward’s 36 points. Jordan Barbina scorned 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Nakwuan Phillips added 15 points and seven rebounds, and D’Aundrea Anderson had 10 rebounds. Nick Schuetz finished the day without a field goal but made eight crucial free throws down the stretch to help secure the victory.

Table tennis tourney set

CHARLESTON – The Charleston Table Tennis Club (CTTC) is playing host to the West Virginia Open Table Tennis Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 23. The tournament is open to anyone regardless of where they live. This will not be a USATT sanctioned event. The tournament will have four divisions: Open, Division A, Division B and Doubles. A and B Division participants will be divided by current USATT ratings and the Tournament Director’s evaluations. Our goal is to ensure each participant as many competitive matches as possible.

Trophies will be given to the winners and runner-up of every division. Entry fee is $30 per event ($25 if pre-registered). For doubles, the entry fee will be $30 per team ($25 if preregistered).

Details and application are available on the CTTC web site which is tabletennischarlestonwv.com. Or contact Dale Goff at 304-415-8685.

Texas discusses coaches scandle

AUSTIN, Texas – University of Texas regents spoke by phone Sunday to discuss recently disclosed incidents involving coaches’ inappropriate relationships with students.

Women’s track coach Bev Kearney resigned last month while under investigation for having a 2002 relationship with a student-athlete in her program. Texas officials have said they were in the process of firing her.

On Friday night, football offensive coordinator Major Applewhite acknowledged he was disciplined by the school in 2009 for an incident with a student during the Longhorns’ trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

Kearney’s attorney, Derek Howard, has suggested the coach was treated unfairly and may seek legal action against the university.

The regents’ agenda said the meeting was for discussion and no action would be taken.

Vonn to have bodyguards

SCHLADMING, Austria – With media attention on her personal life intensifying and some 400,000 fans expected, Lindsey Vonn will be surrounded by bodyguards at the Alpine skiing world championships starting Tuesday.

Vonn says that her sponsor, Red Bull, “has kindly hired security for me just to make sure I can get in and out and not have any difficulty. But I don’t expect there to be any problems, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Gossip sites have been filled with reports over a supposed relationship between Vonn and Tiger Woods, and Vonn was asked by a local TV reporter whether the golfer would be coming to watch her ski.

Vonn replied, “Oh my God! I don’t know. You should ask him. … I have no idea. I have no idea.”