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Sports Morning Headlines-Monday, 8/22/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Monday, August 22, 2011.

Project Spurs: Actor Marc Blucas is a Spurs groupie - Actor Marc Blucas of the new TV show "Necessary Roughness" is a huge San Antonio Spurs groupie largely in part because he used to be a teammate of Spurs' Tim Duncan while at Wake Forest.  In an interview with Lynn Hoppes of ESPN, Blucas revealed that although he didn't make it in the NBA, he now lives through his friend:  "I knew it wasn't going to happen. So now I live vicariously through Tim. I'm a Spurs groupie."   READ MORE

Joseph drawing compliments in Canada - With Manu Ginobili playing for Argentina, Tony Parker for France and Tiago Splitter hobbling around for Brazil, first-round pick Cory Joseph has been the forgotten Spurs player in this summer’s round of international competition.  Drafted 29th by the Spurs in June, the newly turned 20-year-old Cory Joseph is drawing good reviews from his Canadian teammates since joining the team late last month. Joseph, a point guard and Toronto native, has impressed with his approach and work ethic, according to the Toronto Sun.   READ MORE

Project Spurs: Ryan Richards wants to help the Spurs win, will remain in Europe - After being selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2010 draft, Ryan Richards has made great strides in his basketball career considering when he did come to San Antonio, it was not to hit the court but to rehabilitate a shoulder injury.  Richards moved to San Antonio so the Spurs could oversee recovery of his shoulder surgery and to learn more about the game:  “I’ve spent most of my time since moving to San Antonio in rehab, getting healthy and learning about the game. It was a tough season but I’m enjoying being part of one of the best franchises in basketball."  And perhaps some of the lessons learned with his time with the Spurs has paid off.  After a solid performance in the Great Britain U20 tournament, Richards was invited to join the Great Britain men's senior team and for Richards, which fulfilled a career goal for himself:  “Playing in the Olympics is one of my main career goals and to do it not far from where I grew up would be fantastic.”   READ MORE

Dirk leads Germany to first win in Supercup prep tournament - (Linked article in German from the official site of the national basketball team for the Eurobasket 2011).  On Friday evening Germany beat Belgium 71-65 behind 18 points from Dirk Nowitzki with the Clippers' Chris Kaman playing equally well and contributing 17 points and 9 boards. The game was played in Bamberg about 30 miles from Dirk's home, with his sister among the fans in attendance. Dirk and the gang still were a bit rusty against a 2nd tier Belgian team that had former Laker DJ Mbenga and unsigned 2005 Rockets/Nuggets 2nd round pick Axel Hervelle as their most prominent players. SF/PF Hervelle covered Dirk for much of the game before fouling out in the last minutes.   READ MORE

Petteri Koponen, Team Finland Make It To Eurobasket 2011 Tournament - Editor's Note: Thanks to Hippo Taatila again for his excellent long-distance reporting! This was copied and pasted (with his permission) from an email he sent me!  Newest Dallas Maverick Petteri Koponen and Finnish national team have made it to the Eurobasket 2011 tournament, which will be played in Lithuania Aug 31st - Sep 18th. Finland last made it to Eurobasket in 1995.  Finland currently leads the three-team additional qualifying round with 2-0 record after beating Hungary in an away game 75-73 (37-37) and Portugal at home 68-56 (31-22). Portugal (2-1) clinched Finland's Eurobasket ticket by beating Hungary (0-3) late Thursday night.   READ MORE

NBA Coach Rankings: Phil Jackson Is Gone, So Who Takes The Throne? - Phil Jackson has retired, which means there's a new No. 1 atop's annual NBA Coach Rankings. Who is it?  1.  Coaching is like a box of chocolates. There's no one right way to coach in this league. Phil Jackson won 11 titles by creating a system, being calm in the face of adversity and teaching more than screaming. Gregg Popovich won four titles in nine years by acting like a drill sergeant and not making one player bigger than the team. Both styles worked. Finding an identity as a coach is more important than trying to be someone else.  2.  Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks (16): Having been dramatically underrated by many (including me!) through his coaching career, it's nice to see Carlisle finally get props for being the brilliant tactician he is now that the Mavericks are NBA champions.  1.  Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs (2): With Phil Jackson retired, Popovich takes his place atop this list. The Spurs' season ended poorly last year with the playoff loss to Memphis, but given Popovich's aging roster, it's a borderline miracle that they won 62 games in the first place. It was an incredibly bold strategy to shift his team's style of play, and it worked. There's just nothing he can do about Tim Duncan getting old.   READ MORE

VOTE: The Dream Shake For Houston's Best Sports Blog - VOTE HERE Great news guys: sports blogging awards exist. They also exist in Houston and not just in D.C. Guess which fun-loving Rockets blog that rhymes with Ream Hake snuck into the running?  Yup, the Dream Shake is a finalist. A real, legitimate, not-just-my-mom-pranking-me finalist. We're under the category for best sports blog in Houston, though I was hoping to snag an additional spot as one of six nominees on the Health/Fitness/Medical list. Surely, the Houston Rockets could yield enough injury posts to at least make people consider it.   READ MORE

Kyle Lowry Should Scare You - The point at which an NBA player becomes the best of his team should be a watershed moment, a glorious juncture when potential finally meets production, when all of those scouts can finally stop holding their collective breaths and start to unabashedly gloat. At the same time, being the default best player on an NBA team is a lot like being the prettiest girl in the room. No one appreciates the Ricky Davises and Antoine Walkers and Shareef Abdur-Rahims of the world, tirelessly padding those stats and maybe even sneaking in an All-Star appearance amidst all of the back-breaking, eminently soul-crushing losing that goes on on these teams.   READ MORE

Budinger enters Wide Open beach volleyball tourney - Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets has entered the men's open division of the Corona Light Wide Open beach volleyball tournament to be played Saturday and Sunday.  The former Arizona star, who has played the last two seasons with the Rockets, will partner with former UC Santa Barbara all-star Dane Jensen. Budinger was a two-sport standout at La Costa Canyon High in San Diego County. He won the 2006 Mizuno National Player of the Year Award in volleyball and was named a McDonald's All-American in basketball.  With NBA players locked out by owners, no one is sure if there will be a 2011-12 season.   READ MORE







Floyd Pitches White Sox Past Rangers 10-0 - Gavin Floyd pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning, Brent Lillibridge and Alex Rios hit two-run homers and the Chicago White Sox romped past the Texas Rangers 10-0 Sunday.  Chicago took two of three from the AL-West leading Rangers and finished a nine-game homestand at 5-4. The White Sox had their first winning homestand since June 3-12.  Floyd (11-10) coasted with a big lead. He allowed just three hits, struck out six and walked one. He left after giving up a leadoff hit in the eighth.  The Rangers have dropped three of four after winning the first six games on their 10-game road trip.   READ MORE

Rangers treating Red Sox like any other visitor - Pair of potential postseason contenders line up for set in Arlington.  The Rangers know they belong, so they don't feel the need to prove themselves against a fellow postseason contender. Texas will play host to Boston for the opener of a four-game series on Monday night, and the Rangers have elected not to get caught up in the potential implications.  "All year, obviously, you have tests," said second baseman Ian Kinsler. "It seems like every road trip or every homestand people are saying, 'This is an important homestand' [or] 'This is an important road trip.' You're always playing against tough teams -- that's what the game's about.  "[The Red Sox are] a very good team right now and we feel like we're playing good baseball, so it should be a good series. We'll see what happens, but I don't think it has any extra meaning or anything like that. We're just trying to win every game we possibly can."   READ MORE

Sunday's Rangers postgame notes - Here are a few notes following the Rangers' 10-0 loss to the White Sox on Sunday afternoon.  * Derek Holland said he lost a feel for his fastball in the the third inning, when he gave up four runs. He went on to say that it is "very frustrating" to give up a pair of two-out walks. Holland continues to have an inconsistent season, as he lasted only 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  * The Rangers weren't happy with Sunday's game, of course, but it still goes down as a good road trip. The team went 7-3, and maintained a lead in the American League West.   READ MORE

Astros edged by Giants in 11th - The San Francisco Giants had several good chances to beat the Houston Astros. It took them until the 11th inning to find one that worked.  Pablo Sandoval hit a tie-breaking two-run homer with two out in the 11th inning to lead the Giants to a 6-4 victory Sunday.  The score had been tied 4-4 since the fourth inning and the Giants missed a few opportunities to take the lead until Sandoval's 15th homer off Mark Melancon (6-4).   READ MORE

Astros option rookie RHP Lyles to Triple-A in effort to monitor innings pitched - Astros general manager Ed Wade announced Sunday afternoon that rookie right-hander Jordan Lyles has been optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City and will pitch out of the bullpen for the RedHawks in an effort to limit his innings pitched total.  The 20-year-old Lyles, who entered the 2011 regular season rated as the Astros' top prospect, allowed just two unearned runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts over five innings to earn his second career win on Saturday night in Houston's 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Minute Maid Park.   READ MORE

Astros edged by 11th-inning homer - The Astros' longest winning streak of the season came to an end with a crushing blow off the bat of Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the 11th inning.  Sandoval hit a two-run, two-out home run to left-center field off Mark Melancon to send the Giants to a 6-4 win over the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, snapping Houston's four-game winning streak.  Houston went 4-2 on its six-game homestand.  The Astros wriggled their way out of a jam in the seventh when the Giants failed to score after putting runners at first and third base with no outs, and a terrific throw by J.D. Martinez from left field bailed them out of a bases-loaded mess in the eighth.   READ MORE






Big opportunity never materializes for Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey - If ever there were an occasion for Dan Bailey to make a move in the Cowboys' kicking competition, Sunday's game against San Diego appeared to have been it. After all, incumbent starter David Buehler was sidelined with a strained right hip he suffered last week.  With Buehler out, Bailey, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma State, was looking forward to handling every kickoff, field-goal attempt and extra-point try against the Chargers.  "It's a good opportunity for me to show what I can do and get a lot of reps," Bailey said last week.  Or so he thought. In reality, Bailey's chances were few and far between. On Sunday, Bailey handled only two kickoffs and converted one PAT in the Cowboys' 20-7 loss to San Diego at Cowboys Stadium. There was some thought given to sending Bailey out to attempt a short field goal on the team's final possession. But the Cowboys elected to throw towards the end zone on fourth down from San Diego's three-yard line and the pass fell incomplete.   READ MORE

New kickoff rule could lead to interesting choices on special teams - Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called the NFL’s new rule that has kickoffs from the 35-yard line instead of the 30 “interesting” after seeing it in a game for the first time Thursday in the preseason opener against Denver.  “The ball was kicked into the end zone a lot,” Garrett said. “And then there were other times it was kicked high enough where you had an opportunity as a coverage team to get down there and go make a play inside the 20-yard line. We all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Boy, there’s a lot of touchbacks.’”   READ MORE

Spears has a strained groin - Defensive end Marcus Spears was injured on Philip Rivers touchdown pass to tight end Randy McMichael early in the second quarter when Spears' foot stuck in the ground. But he said he doesn't need an MRI on his groin injury.   "I'll be back soon, real soon," Spears said. "It's just a little strain. Ain't nothing too serious."  Spears, who did not have any tackles Sunday night, said he probably would play in next week's game if it was the regular season. Since it's the preseason, it's probably a good guess that Spears will miss the Minnesota game Saturday night.   READ MORE

Kubiak concerned about backup receiver slots - Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is growing concerned about the Texans backup wide receiver position.  “I’m concerned, to be honest with you," Kubiak told a media gathering Sunday afternoon.  "(The backup group is) so young.  You usually keep five guys.  To sit here and tell you who (the fourth and fifth receivers) are right now, I think it’s a big toss-up."  (  Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones hold down the top three spots but it's still not clear who will claim the WR4 and WR5 positions on the 53 man roster come September 3.   READ MORE

Kubiak reflects on win over Saints - Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript from his interview.  Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (on the injury situation) “We came out pretty good. Lestar Jean banged his shoulder up; we’re evaluating him as we speak, so he’s day-to-day. Earl Mitchell got a knee bruise, he’s being evaluated also. Other than that, we’re okay, we came out pretty good. Richard (Scooter) Berry banged his knee, Sharpton banged his hand a little bit but we really needed to come out of that game pretty healthy and for the most part we did. I think the biggest questions going into this week will be Jean and Mitchell.”   READ MORE

Texans vs. Saints: 7 Things We Learned from the Texans’ Second Preseason Game - Going into week two of the preseason means that fans get to see more playing time for their teams starters. It also means that players who are still trying to make the team need to play their hardest.  Last year the New Orleans Saints manhandled the Houston Texans. This year the Texans responded in kind with a 27-14 routing of the Saints.  The following observations are strengths and weaknesses of the Texans that were exposed in this week’s game against the Saints. Next week we will see the starters for most of the game and, assuming that my observations are correct, we could see some second string players mixing it up with the first team.   READ MORE


Hockeymetrics: Finding Out The 'Who' in The 'How ___ Went, So Did the Stars' in 2012 - One metric I haven't really looked at since starting this series on Defending Big D is looking at who scores the goals when the Stars win. Not really sure why that is because it is a metric with some meaning.  Mind you, I'd rather measure something like the metric co-developed by a friend of mine, Marc Foster, than this one. I don't think it digs deep enough.   READ MORE

Sunday tidbits - Here are some notes for a Sunday afternoon in August. *Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan and his staff will get together in Frisco this week to start meeting and planning for training camp, which begins September 16. Gulutzan talked about the plan during an appearance on NHL Home Ice last week.  “We met as a coaching staff in July and then decided we are not going to meet again until the 22nd of August,” Gulutzan said. “We just wanted our guys to get away, spend time with the family and do those things. Certainly on the 22nd we’re going to head full into it. That week in July kind of put us ahead a little bit we thought, or on pace. Now it’s just about putting the things together that we talked about in July.”   READ MORE

Stargazing: Dallas Stars Announce Local Television Schedule - Three weeks from today, my friends. Three weeks from today the Dallas Stars prospects will take the ice at Traverse City and begin their tournament there and the NHL level players will be at the Galleria in Dallas to sign autographs and kick off the hockey season. Just 21 short days. We're almost there.  Pretty soon we'll look back on these hockey-less 106 degree days and laugh. Right? ...Hello?   READ MORE

---Staff and Wire Reports contributed to this story



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