Sports briefs: Aug. 30

August 30, 2012 


Ex-Xavier player Wells visits UK, could be eligible this year

Former Xavier standout Dezmine Wells visited Kentucky's campus Wednesday, and UK is one of three schools with a shot of landing him. Wells, who was recently expelled from Xavier, is scheduled to visit Memphis on Thursday and see Maryland sometime this weekend. A final decision is expected no later than early next week. analyst Evan Daniels said Wells' trip to Lexington caught many by surprise. "That's a big deal having a guy of that caliber on your campus," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "We're talking about a high-level, impact guy. He can pretty much play anywhere in the country."

The window for students to add and drop classes at UK closed Tuesday at midnight, but Wells can still enroll in the university this fall. UK spokesman Jay Blanton told the Herald-Leader that a prospective student can still apply to the university. That student's admission would then become a decision for the particular college to which the student applies. Blanton said the college's dean would typically make the final judgment.

As for Wells' athletic eligibility, that would be a question for the NCAA. "I would say there's a possibility that he can play this year," Daniels said. "But you don't really know until he applies and the NCAA looks it over."

If Wells is eligible immediately, Daniels said he could have an instant impact on UK's season. "He helps tremendously from the (small forward) spot," he said. "He's so good at slashing to the basket, and so good in transition, and really finishes well around the rim. He makes toughness plays."

Wells averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds as a freshman last season at Xavier.

The University of Pittsburgh men's and women's basketball teams are taking their annual "Midnight Madness" outdoors for the first time. The programs will make their public debuts for the 2012-13 seasons on an outdoor court near the university's Cathedral of Learning on Friday, Oct. 12. Temporary bleachers will be set up and a video monitor will be brought in to add to the atmosphere.

The event coincides with homecoming for the Pitt football team and is part of a celebration for the school's 225th anniversary.


Gamecocks set to face confident Vandy

Going into their second season together, James Franklin says his Vanderbilt Commodores are so confident they feel they could beat the NFL's Green Bay Packers with a home-field advantage.

Well, the Packers aren't coming to help his Commodores open the season Thursday night. The ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks are, and Franklin and his Commodores are ready for the challenge, expecting to finish with a win. "Belief is a very powerful thing, and we have that right now," Franklin said.

Playing the first Southeastern Conference game of the 2012 season on national television brings Vanderbilt a tough challenge. The Gamecocks are ranked higher than they've ever been to start a season. They went 11-2 and finished second in the SEC East last year. Marcus Lattimore is back from his torn left anterior cruciate ligament, and Coach Steve Spurrier has lost to Vanderbilt only twice in 19 games all-time.

Spurrier insists his Gamecocks are ready as well. "Our guys realize that this is a big game for us, about the same as the Georgia or Tennessee game," Spurrier said. "Eastern division, conference rivals. ... We have absolutely no excuses if we don't play well."

Before he has even coached a game, Mike Leach has already rejuvenated Washington State's football program and produced some restless nights for opponents.

"Yeah, I was losing a little sleep over it," Brigham Young outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga said of preparing for Leach's Air Raid attack in Thursday night's opener in Provo. "Then I came in here, watched the film ... and re-affirmed it's not as bad as I thought."

The nationally televised game Thursday is full of subplots. Leach is coaching his first game since being fired by Texas Tech in 2009 amid allegations he mistreated a player with a concussion. The game is on ESPN. Leach is suing ESPN. And it's against his alma mater, where Leach headed at 17 not to suit up for football but to play club rugby and meet people from all over the world.

Valdosta State's Greg Reid is out for the season with a knee injury. Reid starred at Florida State for three years as a cornerback and was one of the nation's best punt returners before being kicked off the team a month ago for a violation of team rules.


Legends lose a day after ending long skid

A night after ending their 11-game losing streak, the Lexington Legends fell to the host Hickory Crawdads, 5-3 Wednesday. Lexington's Luis Cruz (9-8) took the loss, allowing three runs on just four hits in five innings. Hickory's Luis Sardinas scored the first run of the game by stealing home after he singled, then reached second on a wild pitch and took third on a groundout. Lexington scored two of its runs on solo homers by Chan Moon and Chris Epps.


If Sanchez gets hurt, it's Tebow's job

Coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday that Tim Tebow would be the starting quarterback this season if Sanchez was out for any significant amount of time instead of turning to a more conventional-style signal-caller such as third-stringer Greg McElroy — which some fans and media have speculated might be the case. "I think Tebow would expand his role," Ryan said. "We feel good about what Tim can do."

The Bengals have signed center Jeff Faine to replace the injured Kyle Cook, who will miss considerable time — and possibly the season — because of injury. The 31-year-old center started 15 games for Tampa Bay last season. He was released on March 14 and has been a free agent.


Armstrong still claims Tour victories

Lance Armstrong introduced himself as a seven-time Tour de France champion at a cancer conference Wednesday. "My name is Lance Armstrong. I am a cancer survivor," he said to open his speech to the World Cancer Congress in Montreal. "I'm a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times."

He announced last week he would no longer challenge the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's drug charges against him. USADA threw out his competitive victories dating to 1998, which include all seven Tour wins.

Armstrong, who has maintained his innocence, focused on his experience as a cancer survivor and the work of his charitable foundation. He announced his foundation would donate an additional $500,000 to a joint initiative aimed at increasing access to cancer care around the world.


Wizards sign swingman Martell Webster

Swingman Martell Webster has signed a free-agent contract with the Wizards. Washington announced the deal on Wednesday. The 6-foot-7 Webster is averaging 8.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in a seven-season NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves. He has shot 37.4 percent on three-pointers.

The last word

Allen Pinkett, a Fighting Irish radio analyst and former player for Notre Dame and the NFL, said the recent suspensions of four Notre Dame players for legal problems might be a sign that the Fighting Irish are recruiting players with "an edge."

"I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team. That's how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals and that just adds to the chemistry of the team."

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