Sunday, July 29, 2012

NL GAME OF THE DAY / Diamondbacks 6, Mets 3

Associated Press
New York Mets' Ike Davis singles against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth inning during a baseball game on Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Photo: Rick Scuteri, Associated Press / SF
Phoenix --

Ian Kennedy focused more on Arizona's victory than the three home runs he allowed to one hitter. Kennedy pitched into the seventh inning to extend his recent run of good starts and the Diamondbacks overcame Ike Davis' three homers Saturday night.

"Erase him out of the lineup and I would have done maybe a lot better," Kennedy said of Davis, right. "But we won and that's the important thing."

Miguel Montero homered, scored twice and drove in two runs for third-place Arizona (51-50), which has won eight of 11 to move 4 1/2 games back of the NL West-leading Giants. Gerardo Parra added three hits and two RBIs.

New York lost for the 14th time in 16 games.

Granderson misplay wastes tying HR by Teixeira as Yankees lose to Red Sox 8-6

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28: Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees misjudges a flyable hit by Pedro Ciraco #77 of the Boston Red Sox (not pictured) that rolled for a triple and allowed the winning run to score in the ninth inning as Boston defeated the Yankees 8-6 in a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on July 28, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Photo: Rich Schultz, Getty Images / SF
By Associated Press,

NEW YORK — With the Yankees trailing Boston by two runs with one on and two outs in the eighth inning, Mark Teixeira stepped to the plate against nemesis Vicente Padilla.

After falling behind 2-0 in the count, Padilla lobbed in a 51 mph curveball for a strike. Teixeira turned on the next pitch, sending it deep into the right-field bleachers. He stared at the ball as he took four short steps up the line, then went into his home run trot.

“There’s no problem. If he hits me again, there might be a problem,” Teixeira said with a laugh. “But until then, we’ll just play baseball.”

When the Yankees and Red Sox meet, there’s always something. Often, more than one thing.

New York wasted Teixeira’s homer, which capped a comeback from a five-run deficit, when All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson misplayed Pedro Ciriaco’s ninth-inning fly ball into an RBI triple that led the Red Sox to an 8-6 victory Saturday night.

“Weird plays happen,” Teixeira said. “Curtis is a Gold Glove-caliber defender and right off the bat, didn’t see it off the bat. That happens. Unfortunately, it was in a big spot tonight.”

Teixeira hit a go-ahead, two-run triple off Padilla in the seventh inning at Fenway Park on July 6, sparking a weekend war of words. Padilla accused Teixeira of wronging Latino teammates when they played together on the Texas Rangers in 2006-07, and Teixeira said Padilla threw at hitters and “didn’t have a lot of friends in the game.” Padilla responded Teixeira would “be better off playing a women’s sport.”

Teixeira said he’s been trying to put the tiff behind.

“Emotion is part of the game, but if you let the emotions get the best of you, especially as a hitter, you swing too hard or you swing at pitches over your head, that does you no good,” he said.

Padilla wouldn’t discuss anything with media. As reporters approached him in the locker room, he said: “About what? One bad day?” before turning and walking out.

Rafael Soriano (2-1) relieved to start the ninth and walked Jacoby Ellsbury with one out. Ciriaco hit a hard fly ball toward center field and thought Granderson would catch it. Then Granderson went in on the ball and sprinted back in an attempt to catch up.

“I thought I had a chance,” Ciriaco said, “so I run like a hurricane.”

Ellsbury scored as Granderson fell. Ciriaco, who had three hits, came home on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.

Adrian Gonzalez had four RBIs for the last-place Red Sox, who built a 6-1 lead for Jon Lester.

“We were good tonight, and we were lucky,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “He hit that ball, a knuckleball, 380 feet. It’s tough to catch. He’s pretty hot right now, so I’d say he was good and we were lucky.”

A three-time All-Star, Granderson had expected to make the catch.

“I didn’t think it was hit as hard as it was,” he said. “And, by the time I tried to get back on it, I couldn’t get enough steam to get back to it.”

It was Granderson’s second fielding flub against the Red Sox. The Yankees were ahead 3-1 in the second game of a July 7 doubleheader when Granderson called for Daniel Nava’s fly ball and allowed it to bounce off his glove as right fielder Darnell McDonald moved past him. Granderson initially was charged with an error, but the official scorer later changed it to McDonald’s.

Barajas hits tiebreaking single, Pirates hand Astros club-record 12th straight loss, 4-3

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired left-hander Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros for three minor league players.
By Associated Press,

HOUSTON — Wandy Rodriguez was happy when his Pittsburgh debut was over, especially since it came against his former team.

Rodriguez pitched six innings, Rod Barajas hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth and the Pirates rallied past Houston 4-3 on Saturday night, sending the Astros to their club-record 12th straight loss.

“It was hard, but I know I tried to concentrate and put the ball wherever I wanted and that’s what I did all night,” Rodriguez said. “I did not think a lot about, this is my old team.”

Rodriguez allowed three runs and six hits with five walks and five strikeouts. The free-falling Astros, who have lost 25 of 27, traded the left-hander to Pittsburgh on Tuesday for three minor leaguers.

Rodriguez was 80-84 with a 4.04 ERA in eight seasons with the Astros. He holds the franchise record for strikeouts by a lefty with 1,093.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said it was a good debut for Rodriguez and he liked the pitcher’s quick pace.

“All in all, I thought he navigated through traffic very well,” Hurdle said. “I thought he was probably excited to get out there and pitch. I have never seen him walk five in a game all of the years I have watched him pitch. I’m sure he had some emotion or adrenaline.”

Alex Presley and Neil Walker homered for Pittsburgh.

Barajas stopped an 0-for-18 slide with his key single off Fernando Rodriguez that scored Andrew McCutchen. The hit also ended an 0-for-17 streak with runners in scoring position for the Pirates.

“I haven’t been clutch for a while,” Barajas said. “I have had a lot of opportunities. I was starting to think the only way I can get a runner in from third base is a wild pitch. My last two runs that have scored when I was hitting were wild pitches. When you are struggling, you just want to figure out a way offensively to help the team out.”

Chris Resop (1-3) earned the win with a scoreless seventh. Brad Lincoln pitched the eighth and Jason Grilli earned his second save.

Chuckie Fick (0-1) gave up a run and two hits in his first appearance with the Astros since being claimed off waivers Friday.

Houston lost 11 in a row in 1995.

“We can sit here and probably try to pick things apart as best we can on all kinds of issues,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “But we’ve been facing some good pitchers in tough situations. I think we saw Wandy pitch like that many times for us.”

Wandy Rodriguez gave up all three runs and six hits in the first four innings.

Houston called up Armando Galarraga to make his first major league start since May 16, 2011, with Arizona. He allowed three runs — two earned — and five hits with five strikeouts in five-plus innings.

Galarraga said he was tired after his wife gave birth to their first child Friday night in Austin. He drove to Houston on Saturday.

“I didn’t have my best sinker tonight, but I kept the game close,” Galarraga said. “I need to show I can pitch again and contribute. There are a lot of new people and new faces around here with all the changes, but we need to keep it together and pitch well.”

Walker put Pittsburgh up 2-1 in the fourth with a solo home run to right field.

Justin Maxwell put the Astros on top 3-2 in the fifth with a two-run triple off the right-field wall. That scored Jose Altuve and Matt Downs, who hit back-to-back singles to start the inning.

Pittsburgh tied it at 3 in the sixth when Garrett Jones scored on a passed ball, but squandered an opportunity for more after loading the bases with no outs. Pedro Alvarez hit a dribbler and Carlos Corporan stepped on the plate before throwing to first for a double play. After the passed ball, Barajas popped up to end the inning.

Presley gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead with a one-out homer to right off Galarraga. Jones hit a two-out triple to deep center that Maxwell initially caught but dropped after tripping on Tal’s Hill, but Galarraga escaped further damage in the first by getting Walker to fly out.

Corporan tied the game at 1 with a single off Rodriguez that scored Maxwell, who led off the inning with a walk.

NOTES: Houston claimed INF Steve Pearce off waivers from Baltimore. Pearce will report to the Astros on Sunday. ... The Astros optioned LHP Fernando Abad to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for Galarraga. They also sent RHPs Enerio Del Rosario and Aneury Rodriguez outright to Oklahoma City. ... The Pirates have homered in 18 straight road games. ... Pittsburgh will start RHP James McDonald (10-4, 3.15 ERA) in the finale of the four-game series Sunday against RHP Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.07).

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Brady’s fire still burning

Veteran maintains enthusiasm
By Jeff Howe
HUDDLE UP: Patriots quarterback Tom...
Photo by John Wilcox
HUDDLE UP: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media after training camp workouts yesterday at Gillette Stadium.
FOXBORO — Quarterback Tom Brady [stats] had plenty of clout in the Patriots [team stats] locker room by the end of the 2001 season. He’s really never had to worry about his standing with the team.

But now, his veteran status is unparalleled across the NFL. Brady, who turns 35 this week, is participating in his 13th training camp with the Patriots. There isn’t another projected starting signal-caller in the league who has been with their current team for longer than 10 seasons.

It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago when the skinny kid from San Mateo, Calif., was walking into the huddle for the first time against the Jets, seemingly in way over his head. Now, he’s in a position where many of his peers grew up watching him.
How time flies.

“I certainly don’t take it for granted,” Brady said. “It’s the most fun I have. I still feel like a young kid out here trying to earn a spot, trying to be a good example. Obviously, I have more experience than most of the guys out here, but you still try to bring enthusiasm and leadership, and try to go out and do your job.”

Brady’s life has changed drastically over the years. His rise to stardom was quick, as his Patriots unwittingly launched a dynasty when he started for the first time. He’s got the supermodel wife, a California mansion and two kids, with a third rumored to be on the way.

Yet, the football player has remained relatively steady. Maybe it’s because he’s still driven by the one thing that drew him to the game in the first place.

“It’s been the same thing since the day I got here,” Brady said. “It’s to win. That’s the only thing that matters. It’s the only thing that matters with your training, your practicing, nutrition, rehab. It’s to win. Everything that you do when you come out here is about winning and being the best that you can be for this team.”

It’s hard to argue with him on that one. The Patriots have gotten to the Super Bowl in five of Brady’s 10 full seasons as a starter (excluding 2008), and his 124 regular-season victories are tied for the fifth most in history.

Brady’s individual accomplishments have had plenty to do with the Patriots’ bottom line. He is one of eight players with at least two MVP awards, and he is ranked 14th in career passing yards (39,979) and tied for fifth in touchdown passes (300).

Brady credits a portion of his success to the fact that he has spent his entire career with one team and one offensive system.

“It’s huge. To have the experience in the same offensive system with the same coaches, you build on your mistakes,” Brady said. “To be in the same system, we’re calling plays out here that I’ve run literally a thousand times.”

And through three practices, Brady has run those plays efficiently this year. Aside from an interception and a couple of miscommunication issues during Friday’s session, Brady has been on the mark, working in his new receivers while maintaining his chemistry with the stalwarts.

Just a few days shy of 35, Brady hasn’t shown any drop in ability or conditioning. He threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns last season, which was one of the best statistical campaigns of his career, and he said earlier this summer that he refined his diet to put himself in the best possible shape for another year in charge of the Patriots huddle.

Brady’s age and longevity have put him in a unique position around the league, but underneath the pads, that age has proven to be nothing more than a number.

“I love playing quarterback for this team,” Brady said. “It’s a great responsibility to have, and I appreciate it every single day. There’s nothing I’d rather do than be out here being a quarterback for this team. My life is pretty much built around that. To come out here when practice starts and to be with your teammates, there’s nothing more fun than that. You’ve got to work as hard as you can, so you can be the best quarterback for this team that I could possibly be. That’s what I think about every single day when I get up.”

White Sox acquire Francisco Liriano

Associated Press

The White Sox have made a move to stay on top of the AL Central, acquiring left-hander Francisco Liriano from Minnesota on Saturday night.

The Twins will receive infielder Eduardo Escobar and lefty prospect Pedro Hernandez. The White Sox tweeted the news after the Twins beat Cleveland and Chicago won in Texas.

An All-Star in 2006, Liriano was expected to be one of the Twins' top starters before undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery later that same year.

His career since has been plagued by inconsistency and injury.

He pitched a no-hitter last year against the White Sox but was 9-10 with a 5.09 ERA for 2011.

Crawford considers surgery: Carl Crawford was out of Boston's starting lineup for Saturday's game against the Yankees and said his balky elbow might need ligament-replacement surgery. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said the team's medical staff had told him not to start Crawford more than four days in a row, but Crawford appeared in six straight games when he returned.

"I did a manager no-no thing and went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again," Valentine said.

No date for Bautista's return: Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista is not expected to return immediately when his time on the 15-day disabled list concludes Wednesday. He swung the bat Saturday for the first time since injuring his wrist.

Braves juggle rotation: Kris Medlen is moving into Atlanta's rotation and will start Tuesday against the Marlins. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Medlen is replacing Jair Jurrjens in the rotation unless the team adds a starting pitcher through a trade before Tuesday.

Olympics Notebook: Invisible Olympic flame frustrates visitors

Invisible flame frustrates visitors

The Olympic flame is nowhere to be seen.

The enduring image of the Summer and Winter Games, lit Friday night at the climax of the opening ceremony, is out of sight from the throngs of fans who hoped to catch an inspiring glimpse or take a photo.

The cauldron sits low in the center of Olympic Stadium in London, invisible from the outside. It will be moved today to a corner.

"I didn't realize you couldn't see it," said John Morrissey, who traveled to London from Ireland. "I was going to walk around until I saw it. It seems quite poorly thought out."

Cool night forces volleyball cover-up

When temperatures dropped into the low 60s for the first night session, the beach volleyball players said bye-bye to their bikinis.

Two-time defending gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wore long-sleeved shirts on top of bikini bottoms for their 21-18, 21-19 victory over Australians Natalie Cook and Tasmin Hinchley, a match that started at 11 p.m. when the temperature was 63 degrees.

Choreographer disappointed

The choreographer of a somber segment in the London Olympics opening ceremony said he's disappointed NBC decided not to show it to an American audience.

Spectators were asked to display photos of loved ones who could not be there during the segment. The music, a hymn called "Abide With Me," was described in the ceremony's program as an "honest expression of the fear of approaching death."

NBC instead showed American viewers Ryan Seacrest's interview with swimmer Michael Phelps.

"It brings to mind the question ... that maybe it's too truthful," choreographer and Londoner Akram Khan said.

World records broken



■ 72 arrows ranking round - individual — Im Dong Hyun, South Korea, 699, July 27 (previous record: Im Dong Hyun, South Korea, 696, May 2, 2012).

■ 216 arrows ranking round - team — South Korea (Im Dong Hyun, Kim Bub-min, Oh Jin-hyek), 2,087, July 27 (previous record: South Korea - Im Dong Hyun, Kim Woojin, Oh Jin-hyek, 2,069, May 2, 2012).



■ 400m individual medley (final) — Ye Shiwen, China, 4:28.43, July 28, 2012 (previous record: Stephanie Rice, Australia, 4:29.45, Aug. 10, 2008).

Olympic records broken



■ 72 arrows ranking round — Im Dong Hyun, South Korea, 699, July 27 (previous record: Michele Frangilli, Italy, 684, July 28, 1996).

■ 216 arrows ranking round - team — South Korea (Im Dong Hyun, Kim Bub-min, Oh Jin-hyek), 2,087, July 27 (previous record: South Korea, 2,031, July 28, 1996).



■ 100m breaststroke (semi) — Cameron van der Burgh, South Africa, 58.83, July 28 (previous record: Kosuke Kitajima, Japan, 58.91, Aug. 11, 2008).

■ 400m freestyle (final) — Sun Yang, China, 3:40.14, July 28 (previous record: Ian Thorpe, Australia, 3:40.59, Sept. 16, 2000).


■ 100m butterfly (heat) — Dana Vollmer, United States, 56.25, July 28 (previous record: Inge de Bruijin, Netherlands, 56.61, Sept. 17, 2000).

■ 400m Individual medley (final) — Ye Shiwen, China, 4:28.43, July 28 (previous record: Stephanie Rice, Australia, 4:29.45, Aug. 10, 2008).

■ 4 x 100m freestyle relay — Australia (Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell, Brittany Elmslie, Melanie Schlanger), 3:33.15, July 28 (previous record: Netherlands - Inge Dekker, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk, Marleen Veldhuis, 3:33.76, Aug. 10, 2008).

Medal table


12 of 12 medal events

Nation G S B Tot

China 4 0 2 6

Italy 2 2 1 5

United States 1 2 2 5

Brazil 1 1 1 3

South Korea 1 1 1 3

Australia 1 0 0 1

Kazakhstan 1 0 0 1

Russia 1 0 0 1

Japan 0 2 1 3

Colombia 0 1 0 1

Netherlands 0 1 0 1

Poland 0 1 0 1

Romania 0 1 0 1

Belgium 0 0 1 1

Hungary 0 0 1 1

North Korea 0 0 1 1

Norway 0 0 1 1

Serbia 0 0 1 1

Uzbekistan 0 0 1 1

White Sox add depth with trade for Liriano

Left-hander gives AL Central leaders six starting pitchers
By Scott Merkin /\

ARLINGTON -- White Sox general manager Ken Williams' cellphone finally ran out of minutes late Saturday night, as he joked via email, but not before he added another potential frontline starter to his already solid rotation.

Francisco Liriano, the 28-year-old southpaw with electric stuff, was acquired from the Twins in exchange for utility infielder Eduardo Escobar and Minor League southpaw Pedro Hernandez. Liriano has a 3-10 record and 5.31 ERA with 109 strikeouts over 100 innings in 22 games and 17 starts this season, including the seven runs he allowed to the White Sox on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings on Monday night.

But one rough start amid a somewhat rough year did not dissuade the White Sox from taking a chance on the man who no-hit them on May 3, 2011.

"Everybody has been here long enough where we've seen everything [from Liriano]," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko. "You've seen him pitch well, you've seen him throw a no-hitter.

"You've seen the other night, too. Hopefully, a change of scenery, that will give him a shot of energy and you see that life on his fastball come back and his slider and all that. We'll have to wait and see.

"We have the guru of pitching, Don Cooper, that I'm sure will put his stamp on him," Konerko said. "We have good pitching. He doesn't need to come in and throw shutouts. We are swinging the bats pretty well and just come in and give us a chance to win."

This move opens up as many questions as it provides answers, but the primary point of focus is how will the White Sox adjust their rotation? Earlier in the day, John Danks told that surgery could become a possible option if it's decided a return for 2012 won't happen. Acquiring Liriano seems to be an indication that Danks and his sore left shoulder have become more of a long shot to help this season.

Even without Danks, though, the White Sox have Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Gavin Floyd, Jose Quintana and Philip Humber, who hurled six strong innings during a 5-2 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night. The White Sox could explore a trade involving Floyd or Humber, with the team in need of a utility infielder that is primarily a shortstop with Escobar departing, or the more likely scenario is they can employ a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future.

Using six starters reduces the workload for a first-year starter like Sale and a rookie like Quintana. Manager Robin Ventura explained those decisions were yet to be made.

Cooper admitted a six-man could be put into place.

"That's a possibility. Certainly a possibility," Cooper said. "We have days off. It's all a possibility and we haven't gotten there yet. Right now we're going to have to do something to clear a spot. We'll figure it out."

"We have been working the phones for weeks trying make the team as strong and as resilient as possible for the stretch run," said Williams via email to a pool reporter. "Due to circumstances, we thought bringing in another starter was imperative to combat the two-month grind ahead and hopefully beyond. In talking to Liriano, he is excited and motivated to get after it and join us for this run."

While the White Sox were happy to add Liriano, they were openly saddened to lose an upbeat jack-of-all-trades such as Escobar. After Escobar doubled twice and drove in a run on Saturday night, the emotional shortstop was greeted with hugs, pats on the back and speeches of encouragement from pretty much every teammate and coach in the clubhouse.

Many White Sox players felt it was a good break for Escobar, who would get more regular playing time for a struggling Twins team. But Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan said Saturday night that a tough decision was made by sending Escobar to Triple-A Rochester because he needs "regular at-bats." Meanwhile, Liriano's roller-coaster ride with the Twins came to an end.

"It was a struggle, then he was great. He's capable, as we all know," Ryan said. "He's capable of being quite good when he pitches ahead, throws the ball over the plate. It's as simple as that."

"I've played with Franky and he's a great teammate," said Humber, who played with Liriano in 2008 and '09. "He's one of those guys who makes the guys around him better by the way he works hard. Everyone knows he has got great stuff. I'm excited to have him on the team. He's going to be a great addition."

Before the game, Williams was asked via email about his pursuit of Zack Greinke that was talked about Saturday by Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin. On that topic, Williams responded, "Moving on."

Liriano clearly was the subject of that move.

"They've been interested. They've seen him a lot. They know what he's capable of doing," said Ryan of the White Sox interest in Liriano, a free agent after 2012, who will join the team Monday at Target Field. "That never hurts when people observe, as much as they've seen him. There were many clubs interested in him, as we talked about. Everybody seems to be looking for pitching."

"He's somebody that's been good," said Ventura of Liriano. "That's part of Kenny trying to find something to push us over the top."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

London Olympics: Five things to watch in Team USA-France basketball matchup

 U.S. basketball team members, from left, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at a press conference for the London Olympic Games.
U.S. basketball team members, from left, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at a press conference for the London Olympic Games. (Diego Azubel / EPA / July 27, 2012 / July 28, 2012)
By Mark Medina

Below are five things to watch when Team USA faces France in the opening round of the 2012 London Olympics, beginning Sunday at 6:30 a.m. PDT. (We will host a live chat for any early birds crazy enough to join me).

1. Team USA can win by double-digit margins, but it has to try. There's very little chance the U.S. will lose this game, let alone the tournament. But Team USA can't exactly sleepwalk in the opener. Only the fans waking up in L.A. for the early tip can do that. France, after all, features a few NBA players, including Spurs point guard Tony Parker, Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, future Spurs guard Nando De Colo, Spurs forward Boris Diaw and former Laker and current Clipper Ronny Turiaf. The French aren't exactly a scrub team. It finished second behind Spain in the 2011 European Championships. Still, Team USA should win by at least 15 to 20 points, so long as they take this game seriously.

2. All eyes will be on Tony Parker. Lakers fans often fretted whenever Parker came to town because, like most teams, no one could stop him. That could be a different story this time around, thanks to rappers Drake and Chris Brown. An altercation broke out at a New York City nighclub, and Parker wound up becoming an innocent bystander after broken glass hit his eye. So it's possible Parker will struggle replicating his numbers last season with the Spurs (18.3 points, 6.3 assists) or with France in the 2011 European Championships (22.1 points, 4.4 assists).

Team USA won't take any chances, though. It plans to throw multiple defenders at him, including Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder guard had the most success last season against Parker, who shot below 50% from the field in San Antonio's three of four losses. Either way, expect multiple switching and cross-matches on pick-and-roll coverages. That way it will prevent Parker getting secondary options, such as Batum and Diaw, involved. More important, it would deny Parker from attacking the rack. With Parker probably the only hope of a France upset, it's likely the Team USA will devote most of its focus on him.

3. For once, Team USA has a size advantage. The one glaring weakness on this year's team? They don't have a frontline presence. Most of them are injured (Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin). If Spain pulls an upset on the U.S. team, it will likely happen because its frontline featuring the Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon will prove too overwhelming. Tyson Chandler remains the lone 7-footer, but he's averaged a team-low 2.4 points in 13.4 minutes. LeBron James is versatile enough to play center, but he's more suited to the forward spots.

None of those factors will matter, though, against France. Without Joakim Noah because of a left ankle injury, the French have Turiaf as its starting center. Lakers fans always loved Turiaf's hustle, but he's not going to have a chance stopping James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Bryant from attacking the basket.

4. Bryant expects France to slow the tempo. So the U.S. should speed it up. Even with Parker running the show, the French know they can't survive a track meet with Team USA. The U.S. has averaged four steals per game and immediately pushes in the open floor. James, Durant and Anthony have proven nearly unguardable along the perimeter.

No need to change that formula. Every rebound and deflection should lead to quick outlet passes and run-outs. Effective swing passes will immeditately throw France out of rotations. And every quick score will turn this game into a rout within a matter of minutes.

5. Will the U.S. adjust to FIBA rules?  This isn't going to cost Team USA a win. After all, Chandler got into early foul trouble against front-court heavy Spain this week, and the U.S. still stormed to a 100-78 win. But Team USA may as well iron out these kinks early. Through five exhibition games, Team USA has recored 107 fouls -- 15 more than its opponents. This has needlessly given teams a combined 13-point advantage in free-throw discrepancy. Throw in the multiple traveling violations that Team USA has committed, and it's clear the Americans are still used to NBA rules.

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Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

SI's Daily Olympic Briefing: July 29

Jordyn Wieber
Jordyn Wieber and U.S. women's gymnastics team could be America's best group of gymnasts since the gold-medal team of '96.

LONDON -- So powerful is the U.S. women's gymnastics team -- SI's Brian Cazeneuve called it the strongest gymnastics team the United States has ever sent to an Olympic Games -- that U.S. national team coordinator Marta Karolyi called her depth "an embarrassment of riches." The Fab Five (Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber) begin the road to what they hope is Magnificent Seven status as the U.S. team competes in the middle session (starting time: 9:45 a.m.) of the women's team qualification round. (The finals come on Tuesday, beginning at 11:30 a.m.) It's one of the highlights of the second day of competition, which features medals in archery, diving, fencing, judo, road cycling, shooting, swimming, and weightlifting.
What to Watch (all times Eastern)

• Swimming will hand out four medals tonight, including the women's 100 butterfly (scheduled start: 2:30 p.m.), in which American Dana Vollmer is the favorite for gold over China's Lu Ying, Australia's Alicia Coutts and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden. Vollmer set an American and Olympic record in the prelims with a time of 56.25, breaking Inge de Bruijn's 12-year-old Olympic record of 56.61. Claire Donahue will also swim in the final for the U.S.

The one to beat in the men's 100-meter breaststroke final (3:08 p.m.) is Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, a two-time Olympic champion in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke. He and Michael Phelps are bidding to become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three different Olympics. But Saturday revealed new a major contender: South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh, who swam an Olympic-record 58.83 seconds in the semis. Brendan Hanson is the lone U.S. swimmer in the race.

The women's 400 free final (3:15 p.m.) looks to be a battle between France's Camille Muffat, Italian Frederica Pellegrini and Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington. The latter is defending the first of the two golds she won in Beijing. The opening heats for this event take place at 6:23 a.m.

The last medal at the pool on Sunday comes in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay. The opening heats will commence at 6:56 a.m. The medal will be awarded in the later session at 4 p.m. The U.S. hero in this event from Beijing, Jason Lesak, will swim in the prelims, but SI's pick for gold is Australia.

There will also be qualifying heats (starting at 5 a.m.) and semifinals in the later session (which starts at 2:30 p.m.) in the women's 100 backstroke, women's 100 breaststroke, men's 100 backstroke, and men's 200 free. In the women's 100 breaststroke,Australia's Leisel Jones can become the first individual to win four successive medals in the same Olympic swimming event.

• Medals will also be awarded in shooting, including the women's skeet final (9 a.m.), in which four-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode looks to become the first American to medal in five straight Olympics in an individual sport. She's SI's pick to win -- and, at 33, Rhode, the 2010 world champion, can very realistically compete (and medal) again four years from now in Rio. Medals in the men's 10-meter air pistol final (6:45 a.m.) will also be awarded; Serbia's Zorana Arunovic is SI's selection for gold.

• France has an interesting roster of NBA players (Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf, and, of course, Tony Parker), but the U.S. men's basketball team should roll in its opening game of the Olympics (tipoff at 9:30 a.m.) at the Basketball Arena. Writes's Ian Thomsen, "The Americans may lack traditional size in the pivot -- NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler is the only true center on the 12-man roster, with Kevin Love and No. 1 pick Anthony Davis behind him -- but they are nonetheless likely to control their air space. No other country possesses as many vertically aggressive stars as the U.S." Other men's basketball games today include Brazil-Australia (6:15 a.m.), Spain-China (11:45 a.m.), Russia-Great Britain (3 p.m.) and Argentina-Lithuania (5:15 p.m.).

• Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, the defending Olympic champs in men's beach volleyball, begin Olympic play at 5 p.m. against Japan's Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori. Brazil's Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego -- gold medal favorites along with the Americans -- meet Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria 11 hours earlier, at 6 a.m.

• Defending champion South Korea is the favorite for the women's team gold medal in archery (1:01 p.m.). In the ranking round on Friday, South Korea ranked first, followed by the U.S. Our favorite fact: Four-time U.S. Olympian Khatuna Lorig gave Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence 15 archery lessons last spring.
Novak Djokovic
After losing to Roger Federer in the semifinal last month, Novak Djkovic returns to Wimbledon today to begin his Olympic play.
Eric W. Rasco/SI

• Play at Wimbledon starts at 7 a.m., and there will be plenty of stars floating through the grounds, including Serbia's Novak Djokovic, who will play Italy's Fabio Fognini as the first match on Court 1. The matches on Centre Court begin with Poland's Aga Radwanska against Germany's Julia Goerges, followed by Great Britain's Andy Murray versus Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, Russia's Maria Sharapova against Shahar Peer of Israel and Jo-Wilifred Tsonga of France against Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci. For the U.S., Venus Williams faces Italy's Sara Errani, and Andy Roddick plays Martin Klizan of Slovakia. Venus and Serena Williams also play in women's doubles against Romania's Simona Halep and Sorana Cristea; the Williams sisters' match is scheduled as the fourth match of the day on Court 18.

• The U.S. men's volleyball team, the defending Olympic champions, open play at Earls Court against Serbia (11:45 a.m.), one of six matches today.'s Beverly Oden previewed the competition here.

• Badminton group stage play continues at Wembley Arena, with singles and doubles play beginning at 3:30 a.m. No Americans are scheduled to play today.

• Plenty of boxing today at the ExCel Arena in London, including the men's lightweight and welterweight competitions. The bouts begin at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. American lightweight Jose Ramirez fights France's Rachid Azzedine in the later session.

• The opening heats in canoe and kayak singles competition begin today (8:30 a.m.) at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

• Medals will be awarded (7 a.m. start) in the women's road race, and SI tabs Italy's Giorgia Bronzini to win, followed by Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and New Zealand's Linda Villumsen. American Kristin Armstrong (no relation to Lance) is the best bet for the United

States. Amber Neben, Shelly Olds, and Evelyn Stevens will also compete for the U.S. Great Britain's Nicole Cooke, the champ in Beijing, can become the first woman to win the road race twice at the Olympic Games.

• China's He Zi and Wu Minxia are the favorites for gold in the women's 3-meter synchronized springboard diving (10 a.m.) competition, but Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston of the U.S. have an excellent chance to medal.

• In equestrian, the individual and team dressage competition continues (5 a.m.) at Greenwich Park. U.S. rider Karen O'Connor (who rides Mr. Medicott) is a four-time Olympian who has won a silver (1996) and bronze (2000) in team competition.

• The men's sabre individual final (1:50 p.m.) is likely to come down to world No. 1 Nicolas Limbach of Germany against Russian and second-ranked Alexei Yakimenko. Italian Aldo Montano is the current world champion (and a 2004 gold medalist) but is coming back from a thigh injury he suffered in May. He can become the first Italian man to win multiple gold medals in the event.
Neymar and Brazil take on Belarus today after pulling out a 3-2 win over Egypt in its opener.
Jake Badger/Cal Sports Media
• One of the favorites to win gold in men's soccer, Brazil, should have an easy time against Belarus (10 a.m.). Other matches of note include Great Britain-United Arab Emirates (2:45 p.m.) at Wembley Stadium and Spain-Honduras (2:45 p.m.) at St. James Park. Japan stunned medal favorite Spain 1-0 in its opening match.

• Powerful Denmark meets Hungry (4:15 p.m.) in men's team handball at the Copper Box, one of six matches Sunday.

• Field hockey play begins today at Riverbank Arena, featuring the U.S. women against Germany (4:15 p.m.) in the opening round. Germany's Natascha Keller will set a record by becoming the first female field hockey player to feature in five Olympic Games.

• Two judo medals will be awarded, including the women's 52kg final (11 a.m.) and the men's 66kg final (11:10 a.m.)

• Preliminary action in rowing at Eton Dorney includes men's and women's single sculls repechages, lightweight men's and women's double scull heats and women's eight heats. The competition begins at 4:30 a.m. Sailing's opening rounds (starts at 7 a.m.) feature the men's Finn (heavyweight division) and Star (keelboat) and the women's Elliott 6M (fixed keel, match race). Defending Finn class Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, one of the most popular figures in Great Britain sports, aims for his third consecutive gold medal, having won in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

• The second rounds of men's and women's singles table tennis gets underway (play starts at 4 a.m.).

• There are six men's water polo matches today, including the U.S. men against Montenegro in the last match (2:40 p.m.) of the session.

• Two medals will be awarded in weightlifting: women's 53kg (start time: 10:30 a.m.) and men's 56kg (2 p.m.). SI predicts Zhou Jun of China to win gold in the 53kg and Valentin Hristov of Azerbajian in the men's 56kg.
Quote of the Day

"This race was sh-- There's no point in having a Porsche if you don't know how to drive it." -- Norway rower Olaf Tufte, unhappy with finishing second in the heats of the single scull
By the Numbers

• 40.7 million Number of viewers (average) who tuned into NBC's broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies. It topped the Atlanta Games in 1996 (39.8 million) as the most-watched opening ceremonies on record.

• 40: Live sheep that appeared in the Opening Ceremonies.

• 2: Fencers to qualify for Lebanon -- the brother-and-sister combo of Mona and Zain Shaito,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Paul Scholes 'not offered England chance'

Paul Scholes
Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has said England boss Roy Hodgson never offered him the chance to return to international football.

Scholes came out of club retirement in January, seven months after quitting.

And a string of impressive performances in the second half of last season provoked talk of an England return.

The 37-year-old said: "I wasn't offered the chance. It was flattering to be talked about. But I wasn't asked so it means nothing."

Scholes, who called an end to his England career in 2004, played 21 times last season for the Old Trafford club and signed a new 12-month contract in May.

His return to the United midfield was not enough to prevent rivals Manchester City claiming the Premier League title on a dramatic final day of the campaign, a scenario that he said persuaded him to continue his playing for a further year.

"It's always a motivating force when you lose the league," he explained from his side's pre-season tour of South Africa.

"It's not nice to see another team celebrate winning the title on the last day of the season. That picture stays with you."

London Broncos improve but stay bottom after defeat by Catalan Dragons

Catalan Dragons 19-12 London Broncos

Press Association
The Observer
Tony Rea, London Broncos coach
Tony Rea felt his London Broncos side contributed to their own downfall in the defeat by Catalan Dragons. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The London Broncos coach, Tony Rea, felt his side contributed to their own downfall in the defeat at Catalan Dragons. Rea's men turned in a much-improved display following their 44-6 defeat at home to Wigan last weekend, but they remain bottom of the Super League.

Rea said: "If you're marking us against last week's performance then, yes, it was an improvement. If you're marking us against what we're capable of, then that performance just isn't good enough. We're not happy and you could see out there that there was a number of opportunities that we threw away."

Rea bemoaned his side's lack of execution during a game in which they held a six-point lead following early tries from Tony Clubb and Scott Wheeldon. He said: "There were a quite a few chances that we didn't take that we should have. We need to look at those and work out why we didn't take them and work out how to take them.

"We can do that as a group and that is the encouraging thing. I understand now why everyone is saying outside the club that there is so much belief in this team externally – the thing we need to change now is to get that belief internally."

Although victory propels the French outfit back to third in the table, their coach, Trent Robinson, was again left fuming at a video referee decision that went against his side when Remi Casty was adjudged to have obstructed a Broncos defender after 19 minutes. The Dragons had three tries ruled out last Friday in the 20-15 home defeat against St Helens.

He said: "We're clearly not getting the rub of the green right now. That was a try tonight – I've seen it five times now and it is a try. You just can't get those ones wrong.

Ogogo proud to fulfil Olympic dream

Great Britain boxer Anthony Ogogo admitted he had fulfilled a childhood dream after progressing to the second round of the Olympic middleweight competition at London 2012.
By Sportsbeat | Eurosport

Britain's Anthony Ogogo reacts after defeating Dominican Republic's Junior Castillo Martinez in the Men's Middle (75kg) Round of 32 Bout 1
 Britain's Anthony Ogogo reacts after defeating Dominican Republic's Junior Castillo Martinez in the Men's Middle (75kg) Round of 32 Bout 1

The 23-year-old secured a comfortable 13-6 win over Junior Castillo Martinez at ExCeL, winning all three rounds against the boxer from the Dominican Republic.

And Ogogo, who will face world champion Evhen Khytrov from Ukraine in the next round, revealed his nerves before dedicating the win to his family amid the imminent arrival of a niece or nephew.

“It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid,” said Ogogo. “It was better than I thought it would be.

“I feel so proud and I’m so lucky. My sister was admitted to hospital today because she’s pregnant. She’s gone into labour. I just wanted to give something back to them.

“I was a bit tense after the opening round. I was a bit nervous and it was a bit nerve-racking. Eventually I settled down and got into my rhythm. I let my shots go and I’m glad I got the win.”

Ogogo, who worked hard to recover from shoulder surgery that put his qualification for the Games in doubt, worked his left hook well as Castillo became more desperate to claw back the points.

The British boxer will be buoyed by the nature of his victory, and will be confident against Khytrov in the second round on Thursday.

Another British boxer, Luke Campbell, received a bye into the second round of the men's bantamweight competition, where he will face Jahyn Parrinello after the Italian defeated Namibia's Jonas Matheus 18-7.

Wenger to deliver Santi as Arsenal bag £15m Spanish midfielder Read more:

By Rob Draper
Arsene Wenger expects to complete the club record £15million transfer of Santi Cazorla by Tuesday.

Though Malaga are holding out for £20m, Arsenal hope a debt deadline imposed on the financially-stricken Spanish club will seal the deal.
On his way: Spain's Santi Cazorla
On his way: Spain's Santi Cazorla

With Robin van Persie poised to leave, the capture of Carzola, 27, is the major signing of the summer that Wenger has been promising.

Wenger was beaten to the signature of the Spain midfielder last year by Malaga, who had been seemingly enriched by their purchase by Qatari Sheik Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani.

But the club now have to clear huge debts by the end of the month or face relegation to Spain's second tier, the loss of their UEFA licence and Champions League expulsion.

Arsenal have been hampered by the lack of an authoritative figure to deal with at Malaga, but with the player now set on a move and Qatari negotiators flying in this weekend, there is hope the deal can be concluded swiftly.

Adding Carzola to the signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud represents the most significant summer strengthening since Arsenal imposed financial constraints on transfers in 2004.

Hungarian Grand Prix 2012: Lewis Hamilton powers McLaren to pole ahead of Romain Grosjean

Lewis Hamilton claimed McLaren’s 150th pole position yesterday and looks well placed to close the 62-point gap on championship leader Fernando Alonso.

Cool customer: Lewis Hamilton was dominant in qualifying, recording the 22nd pole of his career
Cool customer: Lewis Hamilton was dominant in qualifying, recording the 22nd pole of his career
Hamilton thought he had reached the team milestone six races ago in Spain, but lost that pole position on a technicality, after which McLaren lost their way. On the evidence of Jenson Button’s race in Germany last weekend, the latest McLaren upgrades appear to have returned the team to the front, and Hamilton has confirmed that in Hungary.

In a season defined by its competitiveness, with hundredths of seconds and the tiniest of margins dictating an unprecedented seven different winners in the first seven races, Hamilton’s 0.38sec pole position margin over Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who starts on the front row for the first time, is a chasm.
Super stuff: Romain Grosjean starts second - his best qualifying performance to date
Super stuff: Romain Grosjean starts second - his best qualifying performance to date

“I’m very happy with the work the guys have done,” said Hamilton with a smile. “It’s a good boost for the team but it’s a long race and we need to keep our cool. Tyres will be important and the degradation interesting and I hope that, for once, we have a good start.”

Converting his pole into his 19th career victory will be key. Keeping the tyres in the right operating window over a race distance has been the secret of success in 2012 and the best way to do that is by controlling the pace from the front.
In the hunt: Sebastian Vettel will begin in third place
In the hunt: Sebastian Vettel will begin in third place

Despite his qualifying superiority Hamilton, who loves the tight, twisty switchback Hungaroring and has won in Budapest twice before, knows that he is likely to face a challenge from Lotus and Red Bull.
Tyre woe: Mark Webber

Tyre woe: Mark Webber
“We know they will be strong in race trim but we can only focus on ourselves and we’ve had the pace all weekend,” he added. “It’s hard to overtake here and the pressure to do the perfect qualifying lap is intense and exciting. To get it right is incredibly empowering.”

Filling the 0.63 sec gap between Hamilton and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button are Grosjean and reigning double champion Sebastian Vettel.

Grosjean’s Lotus team are just a point behind McLaren in the constructors’ championship as F1’s longest ever season heads into its second half.

So far, Lotus have displayed impressive race pace but have been hampered by their one-lap qualifying speed, leaving too much to do on a Sunday afternoon. The car’s benign tyre usage is an asset in the race but a liability when it comes to generating sufficient heat to optimise a qualifying lap. Does its best qualifying performance of the season mean that the team have solved the conundrum and the breakthrough win is there for the taking?

“It’s a good question,” Grosjean admits. “I have come back from a bit of a disastrous German GP. We have improved the car, found the speed and getting on the front row is something special. Hopefully I can have a good battle with Lewis.”
Happy hunting ground: Jenson Button can look forward to a positive race on the site of his first F1 victory
 Happy hunting ground: Jenson Button can look forward to a positive race on the site of his first F1 victory

Vettel, third in the championship and hunting his second win of the season, denied that changes to the engine mapping regulations has had a negative impact on Red Bull’s performance, with team-mate Mark Webber starting 11th.

“It’s just been difficult for us to get the balance right this weekend” Vettel claimed. “The car is quick, sometimes really quick, but it’s hard to get the performance out of it all the time, although I think our race pace will be good.”

Grosjean’s Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen starts fifth, with Alonso behind him. The Spaniard’s championship lead is based around metronomic consistency that has brought him points in every race so far. He may have to adopt a patient, watching brief in the Ferrari.

Watching them all will be F1’s ringmaster, Bernie Ecclestone. The 81-year-old billionaire was conspicuously absent from last weekend’s German GP after his involvement in the case of jailed German Banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who alleged that Ecclestone had paid him a bribe.

But it is business as usual for Ecclestone in Hungary.

Strauss needs to get aggressive

He cannot wait for South Africa to make mistakes; which is why he should pick the attacking Steven Finn for the next Test

Ian Chappell
Andrew Strauss keeps his problems behind him, England v South Africa, 1st Test, The Oval, July, 18, 2012
Andrew Strauss needs to take more gambles if he hopes to beat a side that's as strong as or stronger than his © PA Photos 
If ever confirmation was needed that captaincy can make a difference - both positively and negatively - the first Test between South Africa and England provided all the evidence required.

With the No. 1 ranking at stake, South Africa recovered spectacularly from a lethargic first day to take 17 for 358 over the remaining four. Meanwhile, England managed to get just two for 637 runs. Two attacks of similar standing and skill - so how could the results be so different on the same pitch?

There were a number of reasons, including the calibre of batting and the changing conditions, but the mindset of the two captains also played a part.

Andrew Strauss is most comfortable when he's strangling the opposition's scoring with accurate bowling and strategically spread fields. He could never be accused of over-attacking. Ironically, South Africa have used the same ploy for much of their existence, and it regularly works against lesser teams. Problems arise when the opposition is just as strong as, or stronger than, the team employing those tactics. Against top-class sides, captains have to provoke a mistake rather than expect they'll occur purely as a result of patience.

Captains who employ conservative tactics generally prefer to get into a position from where they can't lose before they aggressively seek victory. Judging by Strauss' approach, this was the plan against South Africa. The ploy backfired worse than a Ford Model T.

Bowlers react according to the fields placed. If the fields are designed to take wickets, most good bowlers will generally perform better attacking rather than concentrating mainly on containment. Batsmen also heed the field placings. The better players - if offered easy runs, particularly early in their innings - will mutter a quiet thank you and accept them gratefully. Players like Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis have the skill, patience and batting acumen to take what they are offered and give nothing in return.

Smith's leadership style used to be similar to Strauss', but following the selection of legspinner Imran Tahir, he has been forced to use his imagination. Since then, his captaincy has been more proactive.

This leads to the question: is Steven Finn missing from the England attack purely because Tim Bresnan better suits Strauss' captaincy style? Finn is an attacking bowler and his presence could be just the boost England need to revive their battered morale. However, his inclusion would be a stern test of Strauss' flexibility as a captain.

Richie Benaud has a saying: "Captaincy is 90% luck and 10% skill, but don't try doing it without that little 10%." I'm not convinced about those percentages but a certain amount of luck is required in captaincy. For instance, Michael Clarke enjoyed a slice when he took over a burgeoning pace attack, but his imaginative tactics have skillfully utilised those bowlers' talents to the fullest. Clarke carries his gambling instincts onto the field and creates an air of anticipation by going for victory from the first ball. There's an air of expectation about his leadership, as there was whenever Shane Warne led a team.

However, the ultimate gambling captain on a cricket field had to be former Australia allrounder Keith Miller. Described by Benaud as the best captain never to lead Australia, Miller was once leading New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield game against a hapless South Australia side. SA were in dire straits following a withering burst from the NSW pace attack when Miller tossed the ball to debutant batsman Norm O'Neill. Taken by surprise O'Neill could only manage, "But I'm making my debut." Pointing to the SA batsman on strike, Miller responded, "So is he. It should be a good contest."

When there's a decision to be made, a captain is usually best served, especially when he has a decent attack at his disposal, if he takes the aggressive option. No one expects Strauss to suddenly emulate Miller, but he should at least borrow from Clarke's playbook and desperately seek victory from ball one.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist


Dominant Britain join Brazil in the last eight

Going well: Jill Scott celebrates scoring with team mates Eniola Aluku and Kelly Smith after her goal
Going well: Jill Scott celebrates scoring with team mates Eniola Aluku and Kelly Smith after her goal

Great Britain 3 Cameroon 0

Where there is Hope there is life. Hope Powell's well-coached women's squad ensured qualification for the quarter-final yesterday by adding victory over a physical Cameroon team to the harder-earned 1-0 success against New Zealand. Goals by the captain Casey Stoney and then Jill Scott gave them control by half-time, which they were never in any great danger of relinquishing despite the odd loss of concentration.

Nervous at times in that opening event of the whole Games, Great Britain were much more confident and fluent here, putting together some excellent moves and showing evidence of the coach's work on the training ground.
Jumping for joy: Kelly Smith celebrates with Casey Stoney after she scored
Jumping for joy: Kelly Smith celebrates with Casey Stoney after she scored

Kim Little, one of the two Scots in the side, may have declined to sing the national anthem again, like her compatriot Ifeoma Dieke, but her performance spoke volumes, reflecting her fine form for Arsenal Ladies this season. Taken off in the opening game, she was hugely influential initially in the key position just behind the main striker Kelly Smith, then moving forward in the second half after Smith, still recovering from injury, went off. There was excellent service from Karen Carney on the right while Scott, nominally one of the defensive midfielders, regularly burst forward, safe in the knowledge that Cameroon had little to trouble the defenders behind her.
Watching it go in: Players jump and miss the cross as Casey Stoney scores at the back post
Watching it go in: Players jump and miss the cross as Casey Stoney scores at the back post

One other quality the squad has in abundance is experience. Six of them have 90 caps or more international caps and four are centurions – Stoney, Smith and the substitutes brought on yesterday, Fara Williams and Rachel Yankey.
Putting it beyond doubt: Stephanie Houghton celebrates after scoring her team's third goal
Putting it beyond doubt: Stephanie Houghton celebrates after scoring her team's third goal

Powell had emphasised the African side's pace. What was more evident from a 5-0 defeat by Brazil in Cameroon's opening Group E match was a fragile and argumentative defence, which soon found itself taken apart.

In the 17th minute Smith, one of the four Arsenal starters, was heavily fouled out on the left by the full-back Christine Manie, who collected her second yellow card in as many games and a suspension. Birmingham City's Carney swung the free-kick to the far post, where Stoney met it score from close range. The two defenders who had failed to cut out the cross immediately engaged in furious debate. Within five minutes there were more remonstrations, although there could be no arguing with the quality of the goal. Smith, dropping deeper, spotted the run of her club-mate Little, whose first-time back-heel set up the tall Evertonian Scott to score.

Cameroon soon removed the left-back Bebey Bayene, although Manie with her early yellow card seemed more of a liability. The substitute Bibi Medoua's first touch was to clear from Smith, whose shot had beaten the goalkeeper. Britain were dominant and remained so, threatening more goals on both sides of the interval.

Ngo Ndom saved from Little and when Smith and Carney were allowed to work a short corner without hindrance, Steph Houghton, the scorer against New Zealand last Wednesday, had her header pushed on to the post. Eight minutes from the end the Arsenal full-back was in attack again, striking a fine third goal from Little's pass.

"We expected it to be physical and it was," Powell said, "but the girls were very disciplined and I'm very pleased with the result." A more difficult test surely awaits at Wembley on Tuesday against Brazil, who qualified after making surprisingly hard work of beating New Zealand 1-0. Despite reaching the semi-final of each of the four Olympic tournaments involving women's football, the Brazilians have nothing more than two silver medals to show for it.

They play Britain at Wembley on Tuesday in a game for which 67,000 tickets have already been sold: although as Wednesday's double-header illustrated, such figures can be misleading; a crowd of 40,000 had been promised then but the official attendance was given as more than 10,000 fewer. In contrast, yesterday's figure of 31,141 looked on the high side. Talk of breaking the women's world record of 76,000 this week should therefore be treated with caution.

Great Britain (4-2-3-1): Bardsley; Scott, Stoney, Dieke, Houghton; Asante, Scott; Carney, Little, Aluko; Smith.

Cameroon (4-2-3-1): Ngo Ndom; Meffometou, Manie, Ejangue, Beyene; Yango, Bella; Onguene, Zouga, Iven; Ngongo Mani.

Referee Hong Eun Ah (Kor).

Attendance 31,141.

Bale injured in dour Spurs draw with Liverpool

The state of Gareth Bale’s ankle was the main talking point as Tottenham and Liverpool played out a dreary 0-0 draw in Baltimore.
By PA Sport / Dylan Jacobs | Eurosport
Gareth Bale, 2012 (Reuters)
Gareth Bale, 2012 (Reuters)
Bale, who has controversially played a part in Tottenham’s pre-season tour of North America, despite an injury ruling him out of a place in Great Britain’s Olympic squad, was the victim of a clumsy tackle from behind by Charlie Adam in the first half and, after receiving treatment and continuing, was substituted as a precaution by Andre Villas Boas at half-time.

Before being taken off, Bale had been the architect of his side’s best chances; the pair of which at least gave the half a heartbeat.

First he evaded the attention of Jon Flanagan to deliver a right-footed cross that was flicked on by the vibrant Harry Kane and somehow fired against the woodwork by Aaron Lennon when it looked far easier to score. His second delivery – this time with his left foot – was directed towards goal by new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson; the Icelandic international having made one of his trademark runs from the midfield, but lacking the power in his connection to really trouble Brad Jones.

Until that final five minutes it was Liverpool who had looked the more likely to get on the scoresheet; young striker Adam Morgan twice bringing saves out of Brad Friedel. His best opportunity came when he evaded the offside trap after 27 minutes to collect Jamie Carragher’s long pass and fire low and left. Jonjo Shelvey had earlier tested the American in the Tottenham goal with a powerful drive from outside the area.

With Bale having left the field for good, it was Liverpool who looked most likely to score as the game resumed. Half-time substitutes Jordan Henderson and Nathan Eccleston both went close, as did Joe Cole, who drew the best save of the night out of Friedel with a super drive.

As both sides made wholesale changes though, the flow gradually drained away. Even the introduction of Steven Gerrard, Andy Carroll and new signing Fabio Borini for Liverpool and Jan Vertongen and Tom Huddlestone for Tottenham failed to inject anything, with 35-degree heat sapping the energy levels of all the players on show.

As was the case against Roma on Wednesday, Liverpool’s youngsters – Morgan excepted – failed to provide Brendan Rodgers with much to shout about. For Villas Boas, who was significantly without midfield dynamo Luka Modric, he will want something better against New York Red Bulls on Tuesday.

In other friendly action on Saturday, Mladen Petric's fine pre-season form continued as he scored again as Fulham eased to a 3-0 win over Wycombe at Adams Park.

Peterborough producing a battling display as they were beaten 2-0 by Premier League side Norwich at London Road.

West Brom held sway for most of their friendly with Championship side Barnsley at Oakwell but their lack of a cutting edge saw the contest end goalless.

And Martin Petrov's first-half penalty helped Bolton secure a 1-1 draw with League One Crewe.

London 2012: Paula Radcliffe's marathon chances hang in the balance

• 38-year-old will attempt one final training run
• Osteoarthritis in foot may force withdrawal

Anna Kessel
Paula Radcliffe
Paula Radcliffe, due to run the marathon in the London Games, desperately wants a first Olympic medal. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Paula Radcliffe is 24 hours away from discovering her Olympic fate as the 38-year-old embarks on a desperate race to be fit for the marathon in eight days' time. Sources close to the world record holder say she is determined not to give up and will attempt one final training run before making a decision on whether to withdraw from the Games.

A spokeswoman for UK Athletics said: "No decision has been taken yet and won't be for at least another day or so as her injury continues to be monitored." That comment followed reports in the Mail on Sunday that the Briton's Olympic dream is already over. Radcliffe's camp say the door is not yet closed and that they will hold out as long as possible before making a decision.

Radcliffe, who is at her training base in Font Romeu, France, with the rest of the British endurance runners, gave no indication of her physical state on her Twitter feed, having sent excited messages all through Friday evening while watching the opening ceremony.

The Briton, who so desperately craves an Olympic medal having won titles at world, European and Commonwealth level, has been struggling with osteoarthritis in her left foot. Radcliffe admitted that the old problem which flared up again three weeks ago put her in "a bit of a panic".

With painkillers reportedly having little effect, Radcliffe immediately sought treatment in Munich from Dr Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt. The specialist boasts a client list that includes Usain Bolt and is famous for his unorthodox methods including the use of homeopathy as well as the more unusual applications of cockerel crests, honey and calves' blood. Frustratingly for Radcliffe it seems that even "Healing Hans", as he is affectionately known, was not able to resolve the problem.

Radcliffe, arguably the most gifted distance runner Great Britain has produced, makes no secret of the fact that she feels her career to be incomplete without an Olympic medal. Having run a world best time of 2hr 15min 25sec, set in London in 2003, a mark that no woman has ever come close to, Radcliffe has to be one of the greatest athletes never to have struck Olympic gold.

Tragically her Olympic efforts have always been thwarted by bad luck, sickness and injury. Having missed out on an Olympic place as an 18-year-old by 0.07sec, Radcliffe's Olympic curse continued as she finished fifth in Atlanta over 5,000m and fourth in Sydney over 10,000m before famously dropping out of two finals at the Athens Games in 2004 suffering from exhaustion. In Beijing in 2008 Radcliffe limped across the line in 23rd place in the marathon, three months after suffering a fractured femur.

From spider bites to bunions, Radcliffe is famous for the obstacles that have hampered her career. If there is any chance at all that she can overturn the pattern of a lifetime, she will take the gamble and throw everything she has at making that Olympic start line on 5 August.

London 2012: Michael Phelps fourth as Ryan Lochte cruises to victory

• Lochte triumphant in 400m individual medley
• Phelps cannot live with American rival

Esther Addley at the Aquatics Center
Ryan Lochte on his way to victory in the men's 400m medley final at the London 2012 Olympics
Ryan Lochte on his way to victory in the men's 400m medley final at the London 2012 Olympics. Photograph: Dennis M Sabangan/EPA

After the Beijing Games, Michael Phelps vowed never again to compete in the 400m individual medley. At some point, however, he changed his mind, though he has never explained why, saying: "I'll give you the honest answer when I'm done."

He must be wishing now he had stuck to his first instinct. As he took to the blocks for the first of what was supposed to be his London victory tour, just the seven finals to Beijing's eight, he flapped those albatross arms across his body three times, just as he did before each of the superhuman victories of the last Games.

But there the familiar scenes ended. Lined up in the first of two hotly billed head-to-heads against his USA team-mate Ryan Lochte, the greatest swimmer of all time – with 14 gold and two bronze medals to his name and needing just three more to become the greatest Olympian of all time – came fourth. Whatever occurs in the six more events in which he plans to compete in these Games, the once seemingly superhuman athlete is invincible no more. He will not, now, be the first swimmer to win the 400 IM at three successive Games. Michael Phelps's absolute dominance of Olympic swimming is done.

At least Lochte was playing his part in the blockbuster encounter, cruising to victory and setting up the tantalising theoretical possibility of a new and scarcely less impressive champion of the Olympic pool. Lochte, like Phelps, will bid for seven golds in the Aquatics Centre these Games. For only one of them is that now a possibility.

The "duel in the pool" works slightly better in an American accent than an English one, but only just. For Lochte, one gets the impression that the phrase, setting up one of the big dramatic narratives of these Games, was always more of a commentator's coinage than a visceral personal rivalry of his own.

"I don't really have any enemies, so I can't really say he's my enemy," he said recently when asked about Phelps. "He's my competitor. No matter, win or lose, after the race we're still going to be friends."

Phelps, one senses, is happier to think of the relationship in uncomplicatedly competitive terms. The ebullient and well-liked Lochte, 27, like Phelps, has declared himself "friends with everyone", saying: "Even before a race, I'll talk to anyone on the pool deck – sometimes they don't speak English, so I guess I'm really just talking to myself." By contrast, Phelps, whose manner can at times be as awkward as his gangly frame out of water, says of himself: "I've always been a person to let my swimming do the talking."

In the athletes' village, the two men share a six-bedroom suite with other members of the US swimming squad, even teaming up to play cards in the evenings. Phelps has the only single room.

For many years the hierarchy in this relationship was utterly unchallenged. From 2002 to 2010, Phelps beat Lochte every time they met, 17 times in a row, in fact. Since then, honours have been fairly even: at last year's world championships in Shanghai, Lochte won six medals, five of them gold, to Phelps's total of seven, in which four were bronze. Lochte beat Phelps in the 200m individual medley; in the recent Olympic trials, Phelps beat him back in the same event, and Lochte took the 400m medley.

Did Phelps perhaps not want it enough? Eyebrows were raised when, at a recent press conference, he compared the London Games to a sweet treat after supper, with the defending champion apparently not quite sure whether to stop the passing sweet trolley: "This is really how many toppings do I want on my sundae." Some felt, with an attitude like that, it wouldn't be such a bad thing for him to go without pudding.

If Lochte is indeed to inherit the mantle – and the burden of hopes of US supporters, who battled the puzzling sight lines and acoustics of the Aquatic Centre to bellow "USA! USA!" towards either or both men during the race – he will be an immensely popular new pretender, certainly among the US sports press, who can scarcely conceal their collective crush.

The New York Times this week declared Lochte "impossible to dislike", declaring he "has the personality of a golden Labrador". To the LA Times he is "an embraceable dude who wears weird shoes, sticks fake gold grills on his teeth and pals around with the world". His three Olympic gold medals are now four, and who knows how many more he can add to his tally before leaving London. In one of those events, the 200m individual medley, he will have to overcome Phelps once more to win gold.

The king, needless to say, is not yet dead. With six more events in which to compete, Phelps is still immensely capable of winning the three medals – of any color – that will take him above Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's tally of 18 (his 14 golds to her nine already arguably puts him ahead). But he has declared these his last Games and said he wants to travel the world, to see everything he missed in decades swimming up and down a pool. This is not the send-off from his Olympic career that he would have wanted.


Britain fails to medal in cycling road race

Not enough: Mark Cavendish could not get the medal he sought
Associated Press
LONDON -- Mark Cavendish had the hopes of the home nation riding on his shoulders in the Olympic men's road race. At the end, he was left to sprint for nothing but pride.

The world champion cyclist and his four teammates, including Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, had been labeled a "dream team" going into Saturday's race. All of Britain had hoped Cavendish would be able to secure the country's first gold on Day 1 of the Olympics being hosted on its home soil.

He couldn't.

The team was unable to close down a late breakaway that resulted in Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan winning the gold medal. The Isle of Man's favorite son was a distant 28th, 40 seconds behind Vinokourov, who managed to break clear of Rigoberto Uran down the stretch.
Out of the running: Mark Cavendish (second right) finishes well behind the winner of the Olympic men's road race as he crosses the finish line in The Mall
The Colombian rider wound up taking the silver medal, while Norway's Alexander Kristoff won the bronze. For Britain, there was no medal at all.

"The guys all sat there in the tent absolutely spent. We did everything we could," Cavendish said afterward. "We didn't expect any help. We rode the race we wanted to ride."

Vinokourov even had enough time over the final meters to sit back and soak in the polite cheers of a stunned British crowd. An estimated million-plus people packed the route, and most of them had turned out early to position themselves for a chance to see Cavendish going for gold.

They cheered him all the way to the line, even though the race was lost.

"There were strong guys up the road," said British leader David Millar, who along with Wiggins and fellow teammates Christopher Froome and Ian Stannard spent most of the day trying to chase down attacks. "We raced the race we wanted to race."
Peta Todd, the partner of Great Britain cyclist Mark Cavendish, holds their daughter Delilah, as she watches him
Anguish: Peta Todd, the partner of Mark Cavendish, holds their daughter Delilah, as she watches him

It simply wasn't enough.

"What we needed was a couple of guys to help us," Millar said.

Cavendish was particularly miffed by the tactics of the always-attacking Australian team, which he said raced "negatively." The British star also wasn't pleased with a few other teams that he said were content that "if they didn't win, we wouldn't win."

The attacks came early in the 250-kilometer (155-mile) route from Buckingham Palace, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall greeted the British team on the starting line.

Wiggins and Co. was forced to counter with a fast pace, yet they still appeared to have the race under control when it headed into the Surrey countryside and began nine loops of Box Hill.
Dejected: Cavendish cannot hide his disappointment after finishing 29th in the race
 Dejected: Cavendish cannot hide his disappointment after finishing 29th in the race
It wasn't until Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert broke clear late that things got nervous for Britain, and the race still didn't appear dire until Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara also went clear.

Cancellara eventually crashed on the run-in to the Mall.

By then, the damage was done.

The British team spent the final few miles trying in vain to chase down a pack of about 30 riders working together. The German team lent some help, but the proposition proved too difficult even for a powerhouse program featuring four stage winners and the top two overall from the Tour de France.

"I think they lost the medal because they were thinking of Mark Cavendish the whole time," said Uran, who rides professionally with Cavendish and some of the other Brits on Team Sky.

"They gave everything they could, but they only had four riders to ride," American cyclist Tyler Farrar said. "Cav's not going to ride and sprint, so it's just not enough."

Cavendish was also hampered by the absence of race radios, which he's accustomed to using in professional races. They aren't allowed in the Olympics, leaving teams to often guess at who made a breakaway and how much time was opening between groups.
Gold: Vinokourov
Golden moment: Vinokourov celebrates victory
"We just kept going and the gap became bigger and bigger," said Swiss rider Michael Schar, who spent much of the day in breakaways. "That's when we saw that we were stronger than the British."

Cavendish had spent most of the year focusing on the Olympics, dropping about eight pounds and rebuilding his body so that he could more easily traverse Box Hill.

The change in his training regimen may have caused him to perform poorly early in the Tour, but two late stage wins -- including the finale last Sunday on the Champs Elysees -- confirmed his status as the favorite to win Olympic gold.

Cavendish certainly understood he was the focus of his nation, tweeting late Friday, "I am nervous" -- an uncensored moment of honesty from someone usually brimming with confidence.

"We rode the race we planned to, but to be fair, it was a slim chance we were going to pull it off," Millar said. "We needed a lot of things to happen, but with other people racing with the sole tactic to thrash our race up, it was very hard to do it."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Person with knowledge of move: G Jeremy Lin signs offer sheet with Houston Rockets

Associated Press - New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin accepts the award for best breakthrough athlete at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets had Jeremy Lin in training camp last December. Now they want him back.
Lin has signed an offer sheet with Houston, according to a person with direct knowledge of the move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday night on condition of anonymity because the agreement with the New York Knicks’ restricted free agent point guard wasn’t announced.
Another person familiar with the negotiations said it is a three-year deal worth about $25 million. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms hadn’t been announced, said the third year is worth about $15 million.
New York has three days to match Houston’s offer, and coach Mike Woodson said this week that Lin would “absolutely” return. The Knicks signed 39-year-old Jason Kidd in free agency, and Kidd said he is looking forward to mentoring Lin, whom Woodson said will be the starter entering training camp.
The 6-foot-3 Lin was briefly in Rockets training camp before the season began. Houston waived him because the Rockets already had Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic on their roster.
The Knicks claimed Lin off waivers, and he became an overnight sensation during a remarkable run in February. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games before his season ended because of torn cartilage in his left knee.
Earlier Friday, the Rockets waived Luis Scola via the amnesty clause. The one-time use of amnesty allows Scola to leave without his remaining contract counting against the team’s salary cap or luxury tax. Scola is due to make about $21 million over the next three seasons.
A fan favorite in Houston, the 6-foot-9 Scola averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in five seasons with the Rockets. Scola grabbed 2,984 rebounds with the Rockets to rank ninth on the team’s career list.
The Rockets have torn apart last season’s roster as they try for a deal that would pry All-Star center Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic. Cutting Scola allows Houston to absorb multiple undesirable contracts from Orlando in a potential deal.
Houston has been the most active team in the offseason, collecting assets and draft picks to build a package enticing enough to convince the Magic to trade Howard, a six-time All-Star and three-time defensive player of the year. The Rockets have needed a dependable big man since former top overall pick Yao Ming started getting leg and foot injuries that eventually led to his retirement last summer.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has also spent years trying to land a top-tier superstar who he envisions as the cornerstone of a championship-caliber team. The Rockets were close to getting Pau Gasol before last season in a proposed deal that also would have sent All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Lakers. But NBA Commissioner David Stern, acting on behalf of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, vetoed the deal that would have brought Lamar Odom to the Hornets, along with Scola, Kevin Martin, Dragic and a first-round pick.
On Tuesday, the Rockets completed a trade of Lowry to Toronto for a lottery-protected, first-round pick and a sign-and-trade deal that sent Marcus Camby to New York for two future second-round picks and three other players.
Before the draft, Houston traded forward Chase Budinger and center Samuel Dalembert in separate deals that netted two first-round picks. The Rockets were reportedly shopping the picks to move up in the draft, but eventually stayed put and used their three first-round draft picks on Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White, and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones.
Houston also is expected to sign Bulls center Omer Asik to an offer sheet. Earlier in free agency, Asik agreed to a three-year, $25 million offer.
The Rockets turned back to Lin after the unrestricted free agent Dragic signed a four-year, $30 million deal with Phoenix.
The 7-foot Asik was playing professionally in Turkey when he was picked by Portland in the second round of the 2008 draft and immediately traded to Chicago in a three-team deal. He played in 66 games last season, but only averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and one block per game. Asik helped Turkey earn the silver medal at the 2010 FIBA world championship.

Serena Williams beats Chantelle Scheepers to reach Stanford semis

Serena Williams
Serena Williams fought off fatigue to reach the semi-finals of the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford with a 6-4 6-0 victory over Chanelle Scheepers.
The defending champion will now meet Sorana Cirstea of Romania, while Yanina Wickmayer faces Coco Vandeweghe.
Williams said she was still feeling the effects of last weekend's Wimbledon win and subsequent flight to California.
"I still have major jet lag," she said. "I'm tired now and ready to sleep, but it felt good out there and to win."
The top seed won a 43-minute first set punctuated by five breaks of serve against her sixth-seeded South African opponent before taking the second without dropping a game.
The 30-year-old American added: "I've been up a long time. I didn't want to take anything, so I was wide awake just like as if I was in Europe.
"I started the match slow and sluggish, but I expected that. I just stayed in there until I began moving better."
Belgian Wickmayer pounced on nine double faults from ex-champion Marion Bartoli to knock the French second seed out with a 6-3 6-2 success.
American Vandeweghe reached the first WTA-level semi-final of her career after defeating Poland's Urszula Radwanska 6-4 6-4.

Penn State to renovate areas where boys abused

FILE - In this July 12, 2012 file photo, a Penn State student leaves the Mildred and Louis Lasch Football Building on the Penn State University main campus in State College, Pa. After and eight-month inquiry, Former FBI director Louis Freeh's firm produced a 267-page report that concluded that Paterno and other top Penn State officials hushed up child sex abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for more than a decade for fear of bad publicity, allowing Sandusky to prey on other youngsters. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Penn State plans to renovate the building where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molested boys, confronting one of the most potent and sinister symbols of a scandal from which it is still trying to recover.

The school intends to remodel the football team shower and locker room area as a direct result of Sandusky's crimes, university spokesman David La Torre told The Associated Press on Friday.

Renovation plans for the Lasch Football Building were drawn up shortly after Sandusky's arrest in November, La Torre said, but the university can't move forward with those plans until all possible legal proceedings have been completed.

Sandusky, a longtime member of Joe Paterno's coaching staff, was convicted last month of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Two top administrators face trial on charges of lying to a grand jury and failing to report allegations of child abuse.

Some of the most stomach-churning assaults for which the 68-year-old Sandusky was convicted took place in the showers of the Lasch building. A janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in 2000 but didn't report it to authorities. In 2001, a graduate football assistant caught Sandusky molesting a boy in the shower and told Paterno, who alerted top administrators. No one reported that attack, either.

The disclosure of Penn State's remodeling plans came as the school weighs how to deal with the ubiquitous imagery associated with the scandal. Besides the Lasch building, there's the bronzed statue of Paterno and the library that's named after him, as well as a downtown mural depicting the Hall of Fame coach and ousted Penn State President Graham Spanier.

Reminders of the Sandusky scandal, and the senior school officials accused of covering it up, are all over Penn State's campus and State College.

"Does the university want to completely wipe the slate clean? If they do, then they probably want to get rid of something like this _ they can still honor Joe in a different way," said Erik Sandell, of Minneapolis, while visiting the Paterno statue with a friend on Friday. "Get rid of this, get rid of that facility."

The statue outside Beaver Stadium served as a focal point for mourners of the late coach, but it has turned into a target for critics angered by former FBI director Louis Freeh's findings that Paterno, Spanier and other university administrators concealed allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001 to avoid bad publicity.

Some newspaper columnists and former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden have said the statue should be taken down.

"You go to a Penn State football game and there's 100,000 people down there and they got that statute and you know doggone well they'll start talking about Sandusky," Bowden told the AP. "If it was me, I wouldn't want to have it brought up every time I walked out on the field."

University trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz said Friday that the topic of honoring Paterno _ a rallying cry for alumni and former players angered by how he was fired days after Sandusky was arrested in November _ remained a sensitive issue that would continue to be discussed.

"It's going to take a lot of dialogue with the community," Peetz said. "We want to be reflective, we want to go slowly, and it will be something that will take a lot of deliberation."

Anthony Lubrano was a vocal critic of the Penn State board's actions in November before winning election as a trustee this spring. Asked Friday if the statue should be taken down, Lubrano said, "I think this board recognizes the contributions of Joe Paterno at Penn State, and I think that given that they understand all that he's done, he will certainly be respected by Penn State."

While the most glaring on-campus reminder of the scandal might be the Mildred and Louis Lasch Football Building, the Lasch family has no qualms about leaving its name on it, a family member said Friday.

"You don't build a building and put your name on it expecting that something like this is going to happen, but we have seen a lot of good things happen in that building ... and we expect to see a lot of good, honorable things happen in that building in the future," said Ken Smukler, a grandson of the Laschs, who helped start Penn State football's booster club in 1959 and donated $1.7 million to build what is billed as one of the finest collegiate football operations facilities in the nation.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson told a news conference after the trustees' meeting in Dunmore on Friday that there was discussion about "modest renovations" at Lasch. Afterward, he told the AP that Athletic Director David Joyner and new Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien have discussed the renovations, including to the locker room and shower.

Football players appearing at a charity event on campus on Friday were divided on renovations to their locker room.

"It doesn't creep me out at all being in (the locker room)," cornerback Stephon Morris said. "I'm fine with it."

Later, defensive tackle Jordan Hill said he and some others "feel uncomfortable."

"A couple guys will joke around about it, but, you know, we'll be grown men about it," he said. "We don't want to act like little kids and be immature so we'll tell them, `Come on, just shut up and go get in the shower.'"

A huge downtown mural shows many figures in Penn State history. The artist, Michael Pilato, said he had no immediate plans to remove Paterno or Spanier. He already painted over Sandusky, replacing him with a Penn State grad who is an advocate for abuse victims and issues.

The Paterno family is well known in the State College community for philanthropic efforts, including millions of dollars to the university to help build a library and fund endowments and scholarships. Even Penn State's creamery has a famous flavor named after the coach, Peachy Paterno.

Ex-Gov. Ed Rendell, who left office last year, said Paterno's name should stay on the library _ "it symbolizes the good of Joe Paterno," he said _ but that other reminders, such as the statue, should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The Paterno name has disappeared from other honors.

Nike founder Phil Knight, who won thunderous applause with his passionate defense of the coach at his January memorial service, decided Thursday to remove Paterno's name from a child development center on the company campus in Oregon.

The Big Ten also removed Paterno's name from the football championship trophy it had named after him.

Paterno's family said the coach, who died in January of lung cancer, would not have taken part in a cover-up.

Cynthia Zujaowski, of Clarks Summit, whose husband is a Penn State graduate, said the statue should remain.

"He won more football games than anyone in the world. That accomplishment stands. He helped build Penn State as it is today. He stood for integrity," said Zujaowski, who attended Friday's board of trustees meeting. "Statute or nor statue, that legacy remains, and I believe that the statue should stand in memory of that."

The statue's sculptor, Angelo DiMaria, said it would be difficult to see his work taken down but he could accept it if it would help the school heal.

"If the statue stays, there will always be people who don't believe he deserves to be there," DiMaria said. "If it goes, there will always be people who believe he achieved great things."

On Friday, a bouquet of daisies and purple flowers were left on top of a sign at the base of the statue that read: "Remember: He was a man. Not a God!!!"

Rubinkam reported from Dunmore, Pa. Associated Press Writer Marc Levy in State College, Randy Pennell in Philadelphia and Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.