Ponder’s 395 yards, 3 TDs lift Seminoles (AP)
Christian Ponder knew Florida State’s offense was good enough to get the Seminoles back in the game, even against one of the nation’s top defenses. Now maybe Bobby Bowden’s critics will back off for a while. Ponder threw for a career-high 395 yards and three touchdowns to help Florida State rally from a big second-half deficit and beat North Carolina 30-27 on Thursday night, a game that…
Oden reinvents Gambling GP online sports for new season (AP)
Greg Oden reinvented himself this summer. After instant play casinos an inconsistent debut season, the 7-foot-center for the Portland Trail Blazers slimmed down, worked on his defense, focused on his footwork and even added a turnaround jumper to his repertoire. He also changed his attitude. “It wasn’t really an ‘Aha!’ ” he said.
sports betting track team to train in Birmingham for 2012 (AP)
The usa internet casinos track and field team that will compete in the 2012 London Olympics will train in Birmingham, England, before the odds spel . Birmingham’s local government says USA Track & Field has agreed to send the team to train there six weeks before the Olympics. The city council says the deal was signed after three years of negotiations.
Storm upend Mercury 83-64 (The Associated Press)
PHOENIX (AP) — Katie Smith scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter and the Seattle Storm beat the Phoenix Mercury 83-64 on Friday night. Camille Little added 15 and Shekinna Stricklen had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Storm (9-10), who beat the Mercury for the second time in six days. DeWanna Bonner scored 18 points, Lynetta Kizer had 14 and Alexis Hornbuckle added 13 for Phoenix (4-15), which matched a franchise record with six third-quarter points, set twice previously and most recently in 2008. The Mercury have lost six straight and eight of their past nine. The game was the last for both teams before the league’s monthlong break for the Olympics. Smith connected on all five of her field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers, as the Storm ran out to an early 27-20 lead. Phoenix rallied late in the second after point guard Samantha Prahalis left the game with a left ankle injury, pulling within 39-37 on a 3-pointer by Bonner with 1:17 to go. Seattle pushed the lead back to 41-37 at the half and held Phoenix without a field goal over a 7:54 span of the third and fourth quarters. Prahalis returned at the start of the second half and played the entire second half, scoring the last of Phoenix’s third-quarter points on a free throw following a technical foul.
NCAA denies Dyer’s request for play immediately (Yahoo! Sports)
JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — The NCAA has denied former Auburn running back Michael Dyer’s request to be immediately eligible to play this season at Arkansas State. Red Wolves coach Gus Malzahn disclosed the news Thursday. Dyer, who was the first Tiger tailback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, transferred to Arkansas State in January and went through spring practice. The Arkansas native and former Little Rock Christian standout had applied for a waiver to be immediately eligible to play this season, but Malzahn said the NCAA denied the request. Dyer was the offensive MVP of the 2011 national championship game as a freshman and was named to the Southeastern Conference Coaches’ All-Freshman Team. He set the Tigers’ freshman rushing record with 1,093 yards.
AP sources: Timberwolves making run at Pau Gasol (Yahoo! Sports)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves are pulling out all the stops in an effort to land Pau Gasol. If they have to part with the highest draft choice in franchise history after just one season, the Wolves appear ready to do it. That much became clear leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday, when Minnesota offered Derrick Williams to the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 2 pick as a vehicle to help them land Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers, two people with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. The deal never came together before the draft began, and the Bobcats stayed at No. 2 and took Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The people requested anonymity because the talks were meant to remain private. The Timberwolves were expected to continue their pursuit of Gasol in hopes of putting him with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on a revamped roster aimed at getting the team back to the playoffs, and beyond, for the first time since 2004. The Wolves’ interest in Gasol has long been rumored, with the highly skilled big man considered an ideal fit for coach Rick Adelman’s corner offense, and the kind of playoff-tested veteran needed on one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. He is also close friends with Rubio, the Wolves’ superb young point guard who is recovering from a torn ACL and hopes to be ready early next season. Gasol has teamed with Kobe Bryant to win three titles in Los Angeles, but has always seemed to catch the brunt of the criticism when things went wrong. That was the case again this year when he averaged just 12.5 points along with 9.5 rebounds in the playoffs, and the Lakers were abruptly eliminated in the second round by the younger, quicker Oklahoma City Thunder. He often appeared to get lost in the shuffle while Bryant and Andrew Bynum got most of the touches on offense. He was the subject of trade rumors all season, starting before it began when Commissioner David Stern, operating as owner of the New Orleans Hornets, nixed a deal that would have sent Gasol to Houston as part of a package that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. ”It has been a crazy year and a lot to deal with. … Unfortunately, we had tough losses and things didn’t really go our way for the most part,” the four-time All-Star said at the end of the season. ”You just have to regroup and digest this loss and this season, and learn from it and move on.” Gasol is due to make more than $38 million over the next two seasons, an enormous sum that the salary cap-strapped Lakers might have difficulty footing under the harsher luxury tax penalties that are scheduled to kick in in 2013. Love’s max contract extension kicks in next season, making him the only Timberwolves player who is expected to be on the roster next season making more than $4.6 million. If the Wolves buy out Martell Webster and decline to tender qualifying offers to Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, as expected, they should have plenty of cap room for Gasol. But if they want to bring him in to play alongside Love in the frontcourt, it likely will come at a hefty price. Offering Williams, the second overall pick last season who showed promise and inconsistency in his rookie year, means the Wolves would be giving up on him after just one season. And at just 21 years old, Williams has plenty of potential to grow into the star that many projected him to be when he entered the draft after his sophomore season at Arizona. Gasol will turn 32 next week and has played nearly 39,000 minutes in his career, raising the question if he has enough gas left in the tank to help turn the Timberwolves from an up-and-coming team into a legitimate contender. Williams is aware that the Wolves are trying to deal him, but it’s unclear how he will respond if he is still on the team when training camp begins. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and was the only Timberwolves player to play in all 66 games last season. Williams had several big games during an up-and-down year in addition to participating in the slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend. He scored 27 points in 27 minutes in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Feb. 28 and had 27 points and eight boards in a loss at Denver on April 11. But the 66-year-old Adelman has been pushing for the franchise to add more veterans, and he grew impatient at times with Williams last season. Williams did most of his damage while playing power forward, which is the same position played by Love, who blossomed last year into a surprising MVP contender. With Love playing so many minutes at power forward, the Timberwolves were hoping Williams could drop some weight this summer to help him become quick enough to play small forward for the majority of the time. Earlier this week, Kahn said that Williams was already down to 233 pounds, with a personal goal of 225. ”I think the most important fact about Derrick to me is that he turned 21 last month. He’s still very, very young,” Kahn said on Wednesday. ”This is a very important summer for him to demonstrate if he’s serious about his craft, his occupation, that he’s serious about himself. This is the offseason. I challenged him in his exit interview, and I’m eager to see the results of this summer.” But Kahn also declined to list Williams with Rubio and Love as ”untouchable” players when the team considers trades this summer. ”We have two untouchables,” Kahn said. ”That doesn’t mean everyone else will be traded this summer. We just don’t know.” — Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski .
College football closes in on a playoff _ finally (Yahoo! Sports)
CHICAGO (AP) College football has always relied on polls and bowls to crown a national championship. It is an inexact science that has left many fans frustrated and wondering why they can’t settle it on the field – like every other sport – with a playoff. Finally, the people in charge agree with the people in the stands. A major college football playoff, albeit a small one, is closer than ever to becoming a reality. The BCS commissioners have backed a plan for a four-team playoff with the sites for the national semifinals rotating among the major bowl games and a selection committee picking the participants. The plan will be presented to university presidents next week for approval. Once the presidents sign off – and that seems likely – major college football’s champion will be decided by a playoff for the first time, starting in 2014. The Bowl Championship Series is on its death bed. Even the name is likely to go away. ”We are excited to be on the threshold of creating a new postseason structure for college football that builds on the great popularity of our sport,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Wednesday. All 11 commissioners stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind Swarbrick, who read the BCS statement from a podium set up in a hotel conference room. The commissioners have been working on reshaping college football’s postseason since January. The meeting Wednesday was the sixth formal get-together of the year. They met for four hours and emerged with a commitment to stand behind a plan. ”I think we’re very unified,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who for years had been a staunch opponent of even the smallest playoff. For decades, major college football didn’t even try to organize a championship game. The top teams played in marquee bowl games and if it happened to work out that No.1 and No. 2 squared off on New Year’s Day, well, all the better. When all the games were done, the voters in the AP poll would crown a champion and so would the coaches who vote in their poll. Sometimes there would be two No. 1s. In the 1990s, the commissioners of the major conferences came up with the idea to create a national title game, matching No. 1 vs. No. 2 every year. Eventually, that spawned the Bowl Championship Series, which was implemented in 1998. Instead of solving the problem of crowning a champion, the BCS only seemed to exasperate fans even more. Too often, using polls and computer ratings to narrow the field to two teams was all but impossible. Like last year, when Alabama lost to LSU in the regular season, but ended up getting a second crack at the Tigers in the BCS title game – despite having the same record as Big 12 champion Oklahoma State. The Crimson Tide validated their appearance by trouncing LSU and winning the BCS title, but many outside of SEC country were left unsatisfied. Under the commissioners’ proposal, Alabama and Oklahoma State likely would have played in one semifinal while LSU played Pac-12 champion Oregon in the other. No doubt many will wonder, ”Why only four?” ”I’m sure it won’t satisfy everyone,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. ”Until you have an eight-team or 16-team seeded playoff, there will be folks out there that aren’t completely satisfied. We get that. But we’re trying to balance other important parties, like the value of the regular season, the bowls, the academic calendar.” The commissioners refrained from providing many specifics of the plan in their announcement. Scott did say the two semifinals would be worked into the existing major bowls and the site of the national championship game will be bid out to any city that wants it, the way the NFL does with the Super Bowl. People with firsthand knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press that the semifinals of the proposed plan would rotate among the major bowls and not be tied to traditional conference relationships. They also said that under the plan a selection committee would choose the schools that play for the national title. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the commissioners did not want to reveal many details before talking to their bosses. ”I am delighted,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, whose push for a four-team playoff in 2008 was shot down. ”I am pleased with the progress we have made. There are some differences, but we will work them out. We’re trying to do what is in the best interest of the game.” It will certainly be in the best financial interest. The BCS television contract with ESPN – along with the Rose Bowl’s separate contract with ABC – pays the participating schools $155 million per year. BCS officials won’t put an exact number on it, but they aren’t shy about saying that a playoff would be worth much more. Probably more than double. How that money will be split up among the conferences is still to be determined, and will likely be a point of contention with high-profile and high revenue generating leagues such as the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference getting more than the likes of the Mountain West and Conference USA. The rebuilt Big East could be looking at being bumped to second-tier status. But before they split up the pot, there were other details that needed to be sorted out. There was some debate about whether to have semifinal sites rotate between the current BCS bowls – the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta – or link the sites of the games to traditional conference affiliations. By linking sites to leagues Southeastern Conference teams could host games at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Pac-12 and Big Ten teams could host games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. But the logistical issues that come with not having the sites for the semifinals set in advance were too big a problem. Now it will be possible for Ohio State and Oregon to play a semifinal in Miami, the site of the Orange Bowl. How the teams will be selected also has been hotly debated; the current Bowl Championship Series uses a combination of polls and computer rankings. There are still major details to be worked out, such as who exactly makes up the selection committee, but college football will take a page from college basketball, which uses a committee of athletic directors and commissioners to pick the teams for its championship tournament. The 12-member BCS Presidential Oversight Committee meets Tuesday in Washington. The commissioners and Swarbrick all stressed that ultimately the decision lies with the presidents. And that they will have more than just one model to talk about at their meeting. But unless something unexpected happens in Washington, a playoff will take another step to becoming a reality. —- Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP