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Missouri indefinitely suspends WR Green-Beckham

Monday, 07 April 2014 23:34 Published in Sports
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was suspended indefinitely Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules, three months after he and two friends were arrested on suspicion of felony drug distribution when police found a pound of marijuana in their car.
 
Coach Gary Pinkel announced the suspension without mentioning the January incident in which the standout receiver was arrested in his Missouri hometown of Springfield. No criminal charges have been filed in that case against any of the three men arrested.
 
"It's unfortunate, but it's the right thing to do for our football program, for the athletic department, and also for Dorial," Pinkel said in a prepared statement. "We have high standards related to the expectations that come along with being a Missouri Tiger, and Dorial has not met those recently."
 
Pinkel said he consulted athletic director Mike Alden on the suspension, which includes spring practices and other team activities. Green-Beckham will continue to have access to the football team's academic resources.
 
Green-Beckham was also charged in October 2012 with marijuana possession in Columbia and later pleaded guilty to second-degree trespassing. He and two teammates were reportedly smoking pot in a campus parking lot near Memorial Stadium.
 
Green-Beckham led Missouri with 59 receptions as a sophomore last season and scored 12 touchdowns, including a school single-game record of four scores against Kentucky. Some recruiting services ranked the 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver as the nation's top prep prospect coming out of Springfield Hillcrest High. He caught six passes for 144 yards and two scores in the SEC championship game against Auburn and was considered the Tigers' top returning pass catcher.
 
"Representing Mizzou and our fans is a privilege, and we'll work with him during this process," Pinkel said. "It's been disappointing to have this, and other issues which have taken place lately. It's frustrating, because we work very hard to instill responsibility and discipline in our young men so that our program represents Mizzou the right way. These actions aren't representative of those expectations, and we are addressing these issues head-on."
 
Springfield police have said they first stopped the Jeep Cherokee driven by John McDaniel because of an expired license and then searched the vehicle after an officer smelled marijuana.
 
Court records show that Patrick Prouty said he owned the drugs but said his supply was for personal use. McDaniel said he had hidden one gram of marijuana in the car's glove box. Police found no drugs in the possession of Green-Beckham, who denied McDaniel's assertion that the three men had just smoked a marijuana cigarette in the car before being pulled over.
 
Tyson Martin, Green-Beckham's attorney in the Springfield drug case, could not be reached for comment Monday.
 
Last week, Missouri basketball player Zach Price was suspended after being arrested twice for allegedly assaulting his roommate and a woman.

Connecticut wins NCAA title, 60-54 over Kentucky

Monday, 07 April 2014 23:33 Published in Sports
 
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- No conference wanted them. Several teammates and their coach left them. The NCAA kept them out for a year.
 
UConn won it all anyway.
 
Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky's freshmen and a national title hardly anyone saw coming.
 
Napier had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.
 
Napier kneeled down and put his forehead to the court for a long while after the buzzer sounded. The senior guard was wiping back tears when he cut down the net.
 
"You're looking at the hungry Huskies," Napier told the crowd and TV audience. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us."
 
Yes, it is only a short year since the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grade problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014.
 
UConn (32-8) never trailed. The Huskies led by as many as 15 in the first half and watched the Wildcats (29-11) trim the deficit to one with 8:13 left. But Aaron Harrison, Kentucky's big-moment shooter in the last three games, missed a 3-pointer from the left corner that would've given the `Cats the lead. Kentucky never got closer.
 
One key difference in a six-point loss: Kentucky's 11 missed free throws - a flashback of sorts for coach John Calipari, whose Memphis team blew a late lead against Kansas after missing multiple free throws in the 2008 final.
 
The Wildcats went 13 for 24. UConn went 10 for 10, including Lasan Kromah's two to seal the game with 25.1 seconds left.
 
"We had our chances to win," Calipari said. "We're missing shots, we're missing free throws. We just didn't have enough."
 
In all, Calipari's One and Doners got outdone by a more fundamentally sound, more-seasoned group that came into this tournament a seventh-seeded afterthought but walked away with the program's fourth national title since 1999. They were the highest seed to win it all since Rollie Massimino's eighth-seeded Villanova squad in 1985.
 
Napier and Boatright now go down with Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor, Richard Hamilton and all those other UConn champs. This adds to the school's titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.
 
This one was, by far, the most unexpected.
 
A short year ago, UConn was preparing for its first season in the new American Athletic Conference after being booted from the Big East and not welcomed by any of the so-called power conferences. Longtime coach Jim Calhoun left because of health problems. And most damaging - the NCAA ban triggered an exodus of five key players to the NBA or other schools.
 
Napier stuck around. So did Boatright. And Calhoun's replacement, Kevin Ollie, figured out how to make their grit, court sense and loyalty, pay off.
 
"It's not about going to the next level, it's not about going to the pros, but playing for your university, playing for your teammates," Niels Giffey said. "And I'm so proud of all the guys on this team that stuck with this team."
 
They were one step ahead of Kentucky all night, holding off furious rally after furious rally.
 
Kentucky's biggest push started when James Young (20 points, seven rebounds) posterized Amida Brimah with a monster dunk to start a three-point play and trigger an 8-0 run.
 
In the middle of that, Boatright, who shut down Harrison's twin brother, Andrew, most of the night, twisted his left ankle while receiving an innocuous-looking pass from Napier. He called a timeout. Got it worked on and came back out.
 
"I've got a lot of heart and I wasn't coming out," Boatright said. "We put in too much work all year for me to give up on an ankle sprain."
 
Napier and Giffey made 3s on UConn's two possessions after the timeout, and that one-point lead was back up to five - fairly comfortable by this tight, taut, buzzer-beating tournament's standards.
 
The big question in Kentucky is what will happen to all those freshmen. Julius Randle (10 points, six rebounds) is a lottery pick if he leaves for the NBA. Young and the Harrison brothers could be first-rounders. The big question is whether they'll want to leave on this note.
 
"I think all these kids are coming back, so I think we should be good," Calipari deadpanned, getting big laughs.
 
He called his group the most coachable bunch he's ever had. They were preseason No. 1, a huge disappointment through much of this season, then came on just in time for a run to the final.
 
But they got outdone by a team on a different sort of mission - a team led by Napier, who stuck with the program even though he knew the 2012-13 season was for nothing but fun.
 
Oh, what fun this was, though.
 
Napier was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and he earned it on both ends of the court, keeping a hand in Aaron Harrison's face most of the night and holding him to a 3-for-7, seven-point, no-damage night.
 
He could also shoot it a bit - including a 3-pointer in the first half when UConn was having trouble dissecting the Kentucky zone. The shot came from about 30 feet, right in front of the edge of the Final Four logo at Center Court, or, as Dick Vitale put it: "He shot that one from Fort Worth."
 
They felt it back in Storrs, where they could be celebrating another title shortly. The UConn women play for the national title Tuesday.
 
If they win, it will be the first sweep of the titles since 2004. The last school to do it: UConn, of course.
 

Wacha pitches Cards past Reds 5-3 in home opener

Monday, 07 April 2014 23:31 Published in Sports
 
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Home opener hoopla was no distraction at all for Michael Wacha. Neither was the 49-degree chill for the first pitch.
 
The 22-year-old rookie was definitely excited about the occasion and the opportunity. Just like last fall when he was the breakout pitching star of the postseason, he fed off the atmosphere.
 
"Huge crowd out there, a lot of energy," Wacha said after the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on Monday. "It's a lot of fun pitching in front of your home crowd, 40,000-plus fans.
 
"I don't know who wouldn't thrive off those kind of situations."
 
Wacha outdid Tony Cingrani in a rematch of young power arms, and the Cardinals got a three-run double from Yadier Molina in the first inning.
 
"I didn't have my fastball, so what are you going to do? I just tried to battle," Cingrani said. "One bad pitch and it cleared the bases."
 
A standing-room crowd of 47,492, the largest at 9-year-old Busch Stadium, braved daylong rain to greet the National League champions and take a look at the new Ballpark Village. Hundreds milled about the attached complex, which features five sports bars and rooftop seating.
 
The Cardinals bunched three hits and a walk over the first five hitters to take the early lead against Cingrani (0-1), who allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals six days earlier in Cincinnati.
 
The Cards went 1 for 18 before adding RBIs from Matt Holliday and Allen Craig off Trevor Bell in a two-run seventh.
 
St. Louis ended a three-game losing streak on opening day, including a blowout loss to the Reds last year.
 
Wacha (1-0) hadn't allowed a run in 21 career innings against the Reds before back-to-back doubles by Brayan Pena and pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina in the fifth cut the Cardinals' lead to 3-1.
 
The NL championship series MVP benefited from two double-play balls in six stingy innings and has permitted one run in 13 2-3 innings his first two starts.
 
Wacha threw 82 pitches before getting lifted for a pinch hitter with the Cardinals up by two runs and two on in the sixth. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny wanted to take a shot at putting the Reds away, but thought the right-hander had plenty left.
 
"That was more of a situation of what's best for the day, what's best for that particular game," Matheny said.
 
Cingrani needed 31 pitches to get through the first and lasted four innings, striking out five but walking four. Matheny said before the game that his hitters had been a "click off" with timing against the 24-year-old lefty last week and should benefit from another chance so soon.
 
Pena said he wasn't trying to make excuses but thought Cingrani was bothered by the elements.
 
"The baseball was slippery. He couldn't grab his breaking ball the way he wanted," Pena said.
 
Peter Bourjos moved up to second in the order and got his first two hits of the season after an 0-for-13 start. Craig got his third hit and third RBI of the season after entering 2 for 22.
 
Seeing Wacha once again didn't do the Reds any good. They've totaled 18 runs in seven games.
 
"Right now, almost collectively, we've struggled to do anything with guys in scoring position," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. "But that'll change. It's tough to sit through it."
 
The start of the game was delayed 12 minutes after the inclement weather combined with pregame ceremonies that featured the traditional grand entrance with players, coaches and Hall of Famers touring Busch Stadium on the back of convertibles and trucks. A team of Clydesdales was kept in the stable due to concerns the field might be damaged.
 
Billy Hamilton doubled to start the game and the Reds put the leadoff man on base in the first four innings but were undone by two double plays.
 
Zack Cozart broke an 0-for-22 slump to start the season with a bloop RBI single, and pinch-hitter Neftali Soto had a sacrifice fly for his first career RBI in the ninth against St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal, who gave up his first runs at home since Aug. 15 against Pittsburgh.
 
The Cardinals opened the first with singles by Matt Carpenter and Bourjos, and Holliday walked to load the bases with none out. Craig struck out before Molina cleared the bases with a drive to left-center on a 1-2 pitch.
 
NOTES: Lance Lynn (1-0, 5.40 ERA) opposes Homer Bailey (0-1, 8.31) in the second game of the series, another rematch from the season-opening series in Cincinnati. Lynn allowed three runs in five innings and Bailey gave up four runs in 4 1-3 innings in St. Louis' 7-6 win. ... The Reds anticipate activating reliever Jonathan Broxton (forearm) from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. The team held off making the move Monday to give Broxton two days off after pitching on consecutive days.

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