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Sports Morning Headlines-Thursday, 02/24/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Thursday, February 24, 2011.

ProjectSpurs:  Stats of the Game: Spurs vs. Thunder - Tony Parker hit a 16-footer with 26.1 seconds left, as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 109-105.  The game had a playoff type of atmosphere and it was physical all throughout. Gary Neal needed five stitches above his right cheek but was able to comeback and helped the Spurs (47-10) to move within three wins of matching their win total from last season.  Now it's time to check out some of the numbers that stood out in this Spurs' latest victory.   READ MORE

Notes on a scorecard: Maybe All-Star breaks aren’t all they are cracked up to be - The Spurs’ slow start Wednesday night wasn’t exactly unexpected.  Teams coming off a five-day start might be a tad rusty. And that was the case Wednesday night when Oklahoma City jumped on the Spurs for 37 points in the first quarter, tying the most points allowed in a first quarter this season.  Despite the lethargic start, the Spurs’ defense and one of their best perimeter shooting efforts of the season rescued them in a 109-105 triumph over the Thunder.   READ MORE

Rocket Fans continue to put up with no-trade flaws - Once upon a time, this little town was known as Clutch City.  These days the Rockets and their fans reside in Stuck City.  They're stuck between good and bad — not good enough to make the playoffs, but not bad enough to secure a high draft pick; far from the mountaintop, yet not close enough to the lake at the base to reel in fresh fish.  In a way, it's purgatory, and the Rockets could be here for a while.  The suffering will last at least until this time next season, when we are likely to once again wonder whether or not they can land a star player that will make the franchise relevant again.  Miracles do happen — Deron Williams surprisingly landed in New Jersey on Wednesday — but don't expect anything major to happen involving Houston before today's NBA trade deadline.   READ MORE

Rockets escape Cavaliers - With defense again AWOL, run in 4th seals win.  As long as the Rockets are going to rely on their offense, they have at least made it a good one.  For a second consecutive night, the Rockets could not defend well enough to pull away from a struggling team. They rarely do. But they can score, especially when on the road.  The Rockets score more points on the road than any NBA team, moving past the Knicks on Wednesday. So much as they had the night before against the Pistons, when the Rockets needed a late run of scoring on Wednesday, they dialed it up as simply as pushing a button, surging past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 124-119.   READ MORE

Mavericks still seek something for nothing - As mentioned earlier tonight, the Mavericks still have some lines in the water. But the odds of a deal before Thursday's 2 p.m. trade deadline still seem remote.  The Pistons' unwillingness to deal Tayshaun Prince is a significant trouble spot. The Mavericks know their most important need is a defensive-minded wing player or big man. But other teams aren't eager to part with either.   READ MORE

Mavs won't catch Spurs -- in the regular season - Let's use some common sense and get real serious for a moment.  Barring a serious meltdown by that team in Central Texas, the Dallas Mavericks won't catch the San Antonio Spurs and become the top seed in the Western Conference. The numbers just don't add up.  With 25 games to go, the Spurs are 47-10 while the Mavs are 41-16. If the Mavs finish the stretch run with a 22-3 record, the Spurs would have to go 16-9 just for the Mavs to catch them.  Do you honestly think that's going to happen? The boys in Vegas wouldn't take that bet, and neither should you.   READ MORE



Astros Focus on fundamentals - Union reps pay visit.  Wednesday marked the Kissimmee stop on the Major League Baseball Players Association spring tour, and Astros players met with union leadership in a lengthy post-practice conference.  Tommy Manzella — the Astros' co-player representative along with Jason Castro — declined to discuss specifics of the meeting, but he said it had the players' attention more than in past years.  "We have these meetings every year, but this was definitely a more important meeting because we have real issues coming up that could possibly affect the next year," Manzella said.  Union president Michael Weiner "didn't give us the whole book, but he gave us the chapters that he knew we were most interested in hearing about as players," Manzella said.   READ MORE

His first choice is second - A team player who has manned almost every position on the diamond, Bill Hall gets to focus on one with the Astros.  When the Boston Red Sox gave up and needed a position player to clean up the mess left by their pitching staff in a mid-May loss to the Royals last year, they went with Bill Hall.  Of course they did. The guy's played pretty much everywhere else; he must know all those lines too.  He's often been in the classic understudy role, but that is in the past, Hall hopes, as he embarks on his new role of everyday player with one position — second baseman for the Astros.  Hall reported to spring training for the first time Wednesday morning, three days excused to be with his fiancée for the birth of their baby girl. Within hours of landing on a red-eye flight from Arizona, he was calling for pop-ups and saying his hellos when the time permitted.   READ MORE

Bosley wants Rangers to be 'aggressive' hitters - All-Star pitcher Jeff Weaver is on the mound for the Angels against the Rangers, facing the leadoff hitter of an inning.  He winds up and throws a first-pitch fastball right across the heart of the plate.  "Whack it," said hitting coach Thad Bosley. "A No. 1 or 2 pitcher isn't going to give you many pitches to hit. So when you get one, you have to take advantage of it."   READ MORE

The Crucible - As warmer weather brings spring training updates to cast off memories a particularly harsh winter and help ramp up for another year of baseball (baseball? Baseball!), I’m looking forward to getting out to the ballpark and experiencing one of my favorite spectator sports.  In between debating the finer points of barbecuing and chili-making, I have been thinking about how difficult it is for a baseball player to even reach the majors to hear the roar of the crowd at RBiA.  Most of us can recall a time in the spring (many) years ago when we tossed around baseballs pretending to be the next Nolan Ryan or Kirby Puckett.  We little idea at the time of how hard it actually is to become a major league player; I am not sure we even fully realize it today.   READ MORE



Former Cowboys Center Ben Fricke Passes Away - Ben Fricke, who played center for the Cowboys from 1999-2001, has died after a battle with colon cancer. He was 35-years-old and is survived by a wife and 2 children. Fricke went to the University of Houston as a defensive lineman, but soon switched to the offensive side and became and All-American center.  Fricke was drafted out of college by the New York Giants and spent time after that in NFL Europe before getting a chance with the Cowboys.  After joining the Cowboys in 1999, he started in 5 games during the 2000 season and played in 16 total games during his tenure with the Cowboys.   READ MORE

Position Series: Cornerbacks - 2010 review: Where do we begin with how this unit performed? The bad: After reaching the Pro Bowl in 2009, Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman did not play up to that level in 2010. Newman did have five interceptions, tying for the team lead with safety Gerald Sensabaugh, but it was clear for the season overall, the secondary struggled. The corners were called for 17 penalties and allowed too many big plays. The good: Jenkins is young enough (he turns 26 in March) that you believe he can play better in 2011. Newman, who will be entering his ninth season, needs a bounce-back campaign. Orlando Scandrick played well from the slot and was probably the best corner on the team. It will be interesting if the Cowboys give Scandrick a chance to win a starting job in 2011. Bryan McCann has promise but needs more reps in training camp and preseason.   READ MORE

Garrett may be opening act for Jones at combine - Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is set to talk to the media today at the NFL Scouting Combine.  It will be his first public interview since Jan. 6, when he was announced as the eighth coach in franchise history.  It will also be the first time for the media to query Garrett about his decision to fire popular receivers coach Ray Sherman and how he will work with bombastic new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who appears to be a direct contrast to the head coach's buttoned-down style.  But Garrett will only serve as the warm-up act for the weekend; the most anticipated Cowboys interview will be owner Jerry Jones.   READ MORE

Texans lose newly hired defensive assistant - The John Butler era in Houston is over.  That was an exciting 12 days wasn't it?  Who's John Butler, you ask?  Butler was hired by the Texans on February 11 as a defensive assistant, filling the position of Robert Saleh who was let go following Week 17 along with Frank Bush, David Gibbs and Johnny Holland.  But according to this report, Butler decided that being a special teams coordinator for an SEC school was a better gig than working as a low level assistant in the NFL.  Can you blame him?   READ MORE

Did the Texans make Kollar an offer he couldn't refuse? - The Texans rounded out their defensive coaching staff Tuesday by hiring the Bills defensive line coach Bill Kollar to be... defensive line coach.  My first reaction was 'I wonder why he took a lateral?'  Kollar was still under contract with the Bills who had to agree to his release.  The Bills official site, characterized the move as a 'promotion' for Kollar and referred to his new gig as that of  'assistant head coach' in addition to his primary role of defensive line coach.  Before you read too much into titles, Alex Gibbs also has an assistant head coach title.  It's a game they play.   READ MORE

AP Source: Texans RB Foster has minor knee surgery - A person with knowledge of the procedure says Houston Texans Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.  The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither Foster nor the team has publicly disclosed the details, called Wednesday's procedure "minor" and said Foster was already walking again.   READ MORE

UTSA wins while tempting fate (again) - The lead pushing into the high teens, against a team with nothing left to play for, UTSA was on its way to a lopsided — and much-needed — victory.  While the Roadrunners did secure the result, 71-62 over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, it didn't come without another occurrence of the bad habit that has marred their season.   READ MORE

MBB Falls To No. 20 Mizzou, 77-59 - LaceDarius Dunn finished with 12 points and Perry Jones III had 10 points and 10 rebounds.  Ricardo Ratliffe heard plenty of trash talk right after tipoff. Then Missouri's forward silenced Baylor's big men.  "Yeah, they're weak, they're small," Ratliffe said he overheard from J'mison Morgan, who scored on a putback for the first basket. "Then we started getting more aggressive and he started kind of being friendly with me.  "I guess they thought we were soft at first, so once we proved them wrong they just started being on our side, congratulating us."  Ratliffe narrowly missed a double-double in the first half and Laurence Bowers scored 18 of his 20 points in the second and had six steals in the 20th-ranked Tigers' 77-59 victory on Wednesday night.   READ MORE

Texas didn't just choose Harsin; Harsin chose Texas, too - Horns' new offensive coordinator brings success, innovation, energy --- and loyalty --- to Texas.  It was early January and Bryan Harsin had just returned home from interviewing with Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns when his phone rang. The truth is, it hadn't stopped ringing.  It was early January and Bryan Harsin had just returned home from interviewing with Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns when his phone rang.  The truth is, it hadn't stopped ringing. Friends. Family. Media. Everybody was interested in talking, though Harsin, a humble and quiet guy in public, was not.  But this time was different.  His father, Dale, could tell. Harsin gave it away with a quizzical look as he checked the caller ID. He flashed the phone to his father before answering.   READ MORE

A&M men's basketball team wakes up in second half - Texas A&M's B.J. Holmes had a lot on his mind while picking Oklahoma's Carl Blair clean and going in for an uncontested layup.  "I thought about [dunking]," said the 5-foot-11 Holmes. "I had the same situation in high school and I dunked it, but this time I didn't have my legs, and I didn't want to do a Darko from last week. So I just went ahead and got the sure two. Shout out to Darko."  Holmes went for the easy two, giving the No. 21 Aggies an eight-point lead midway through the second half which led to a comfortable 61-47 victory over the Sooners on Wednesday at Reed Arena.   READ MORE

Red Raiders Downed by Colorado, 71-68 - John Roberson and Mike Singletary combine for 35 points.  Levi Knutson scored 18 points to lead Colorado over Texas Tech 71-68 on Wednesday night.  The Buffaloes (17-11, 6-7 Big 12) lead most of the way and survived a 21-5 surge by the Red Raiders early in the second half.  Texas Tech (12-16, 4-9) went up briefly late in the game, 63-62, on a layup by D'walyn Roberts but couldn't sustain its momentum.   READ MORE

Thompson Heads to NFL Combine - Cougar Offensive Lineman to Workout in Indianapolis.  University of Houston senior offensive lineman Isaiah Thompson is headed to Indianapolis, Ind., for the 2011 National Football League Scouting Combine. He is one of 56 offensive linemen that will meet and work out for NFL General Managers, Coaches and Scouts beginning today.   READ MORE

Owls Defeat Texas State Wednesday Night 11-10 - Rice Returns Home To Host USC In Weekend Series At Reckling Park.  The Rice baseball team took a late lead and then hung-on for an 11-10 victory over Texas State Wednesday evening at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos, Tex.  Texas State did most of its offensive work early, and late, in the contest. The first four Bobcats strung together consecutive singles to put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first inning for a 3-0 advantage.   READ MORE

SMU Topples Rice In OT For 17th Win - In their 192nd meeting against the Rice Owls (SMU leads series 118-74), the Mustangs, who blew a first half lead, needed overtime to record the victory and improve their record to 17-10 (8-5) on the season.  With 17 wins, SMU has tied the record for most wins in a season since 2002-03 (17-13) and the most league wins since joining Conference USA in 2005-06.   READ MORE

UTEP Stumbles at East Carolina, 83-76 - Jontae Sherrod scored all 21 of his points in the second half — with 15 coming at the line — as East Carolina enjoyed a huge advantage at the charity stripe in knocking off UTEP, 83-76, on Wednesday at Minges Coliseum.  The Pirates (14-13, 6-7 C-USA) went to the line 37 times in the second half and finished 35-for-45 at the foul line as UTEP head coach Tim Floyd and assistant coach Phil Johnson were both ejected from the game in the first minute and a half of the second period. The Miners were assessed another technical foul, this one on Randy Culpepper, in the final minute.  Floyd’s first technical was for stepping outside of the coaching box.   READ MORE

Thoughts on the UNT's schedule with a potential FIU opener - It has yet to become official. The Sun Belt will release its full slate on March 1, but all indications are that UNT will open the season at Florida International.  I'm not a huge fan of the way that sets up for UNT. Here's why.  First off, FIU tied for the the league with Troy last year and should be pretty good again after returning 14 starters, seven on each side of the ball. Wesley Carroll is back at quarterback, stud wide receiver/return man T.Y. Hilton decided not to declare for the draft and FIU won a bowl game last year.   READ MORE

Bobcats report: Notes, quotes - A Feb. 19 loss to Stephen F. Austin in overtime brought to an end a fantastic five-game win streak that had vaulted the Bobcats to the best record in the Southland Conference.  The team's last five-game win streak came between Deb. 21, 2008, and Jan. 10, 2009.   READ MORE

Adam Burish wants to bring life, energy back to Stars - After missing the last eight games with a fractured orbital bone, Dallas Stars forward Adam Burish is expected to return for Thursday night’s game at Detroit. And Burish – in his words – is "fired up."  "When you are gone for two weeks it is fun to just practice," Burish said after Wednesday’s practice in Frisco. "My first practice two days ago felt like a game day to me. For [Thursday], I am fired up. Feels like back at school for the first day. It will be fun and hopefully I can bring some energy and some life back to this group and some excitement. That will be my approach. Just bring some life, bring some maybe desperate energy back to this group and hopefully I can help.”    READ MORE

Stars-Red Wings Preview - Dallas Stars at Detroit Red Wings.  Thursday February 24, 6:30 p.m.  TV: Fox Sports Soutwest.  Radio: KTCK.  The Stars lost their fifth straight game and fell to 1-8-1 in their last ten with a 1-0 loss to New Jersey at American Airlines Center Tuesday.  “We did so many things that we wanted to do,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “We didn’t give them any outnumbering chances all night, we were good on the forecheck, we created loose pucks, we had goalmouth opportunities with net drive. We just couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net.”  The Stars are 2-10-1 in their last 13 games.   READ MORE

Stars activate Burish, Barch from IR - The Stars announced this afternoon that they have activated forwards Adam Burish and Krys Barch from injured reserve and sent forward Aaron Gagnon back to the Texas Stars of the AHL. Here's the release from the team:  "The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has activated forwards Krys Barch and Adam Burish from the team’s Injured Reserve list. The Stars also announced that center Aaron Gagnon has been assigned to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). "   READ MORE



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