Ex-Cat Orton could join Noel
Former University of Kentucky basketball player Daniel Orton has found a new NBA home.
Orton, who was released last Thursday by the Oklahoma City Thunder, was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
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If Orton makes the Sixers roster, he will become a teammate with another former Kentucky player in Nerlens Noel.
Orton is one of 20 players currently on the Sixers' pre-season roster. The 6-foot-10, 255-pounder will be competing for a roster spot at center with veterans Kwame Brown, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen and rookies Mac Koshwal and Noel. Noel is not expected to play until late in the year as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL.
Orton appeared in 13 games with the Thunder during the 2012-13 season, averaging 2.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 8.0 minutes per contest.
The 23-year-old played in one pre-season game for Oklahoma City this season, recording six points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 19 minutes.
Cards picked to win AAC before flying off
The Louisville Cardinals are about to be the ultimate one-and-done. Louisville was picked as the pre-season favorite to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference title.
The Cardinals, with three starters back, received nine of 10 votes in the coaches' poll. Being a lame duck didn't stop Louisville Coach Rick Pitino from promoting the league he's in for now.
"You look at Memphis will be a top-10 team, Cincinnati a top-20 team, Temple a top-30 team. SMU's on the rise. We're probably a top-five team pre-season," Pitino said. "So you have highly ranked basketball teams, outstanding coaches, great fan support, and there's places for me I have not coached at and I'm looking forward to."
Louisville senior guard Russ Smith said the Cardinals want to make their only season in the American memorable.
"If it's a good one, they'll remember us as the team that won the last two years of the Big East, had a great year in the American league and now is going to start a new legacy in the ACC," Smith said. "If we take care of business as we're supposed to, we're definitely going to be a dynasty to be reckoned with."
The AAC was pulled together after the split of the Big East, leading former Big East teams Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers, Temple, Cincinnati and South Florida to join with Memphis, Central Florida, Houston and SMU. Louisville gives the AAC its best calling card for now.
Vikings' Freeman to start Monday night
Josh Freeman will start for the Minnesota Vikings against the New York Giants on Monday night, Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier announced after practice Wednesday. Frazier said Christian Ponder will be the backup, not Matt Cassel.
Freeman will be the third starter in the last four games for Minnesota, assuming he makes it through the week without problems. The former first-round pick was cut by Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and signed a one-year contract with Minnesota five days later. The 25-year-old started 59 games over four-plus seasons with the Buccaneers.
Bills: Quarterback EJ Manuel is expected to miss another four to six weeks now that he's begun rehabbing his sprained right knee. Coach Doug Marrone provided a more definitive timetable on the rookie's recovery Wednesday after consulting with team doctors.
Cowboys: Dallas released defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, saying he failed a physical after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Patriots: Linebacker Jerod Mayo was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, the latest Patriots defensive player to suffer a serious injury. The move came three days after Mayo was hurt in the fourth quarter of New England's 30-27 win over New Orleans.
Texans: Starting strong safety Danieal Manning will miss the rest of the season because of a right knee injury suffered in Sunday's loss to St. Louis. Coach Gary Kubiak called it a significant injury Monday but provided no further details Wednesday.
Playoff committee full of notable names
The most scrutinized committee in sports has been set.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Archie Manning are among the 13 people who will be part of the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2014. The committee was officially unveiled Wednesday.
The College Football Playoff will replace the Bowl Championship Series. The selection committee will work similarly to the one that picks the teams for the NCAA basketball tournament, though instead of 68 teams it will choose and seed four to play in the semifinals. The winners of those games, played on a rotating basis at six bowl sites, will meet a week later for the national championship.
The rest of the panel's members are: Barry Alvarez, athletic director, Wisconsin; Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, former superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy; Pat Haden, athletic director, Southern California; Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president; Oliver Luck, athletic director, West Virginia; Dan Radakovich, athletic director, Clemson; Steve Wieberg, former college football reporter, USA Today.; Tyrone Willingham, former head coach of Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington; Mike Tranghese, former commissioner of the Big East Conference.
Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said term limits for committee members will eventually be three years, but that will not be the case for all the current members because they do not want to replace the entire committee at once.
Youth rally UK to non-conference win
The University of Kentucky men's soccer team subbed out eight starters to open the second half and overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to earn a 2-1 win over Valparaiso on Wednesday.
Sophomore Jacob Scearce tied the match with the first goal of his career on a header in the 58th minute. Freshman Sam Miller netted the first goal of his career — and the game winner — seven minutes later off a Scearce assist. Kentucky outshot the Crusaders 15-7 on the night.
Kentucky went to 4-6-1 on the season. Valparaiso fell to 3-5-5.
U.S. soccer gets some love from Mexico
Mexican newspapers on Wednesday published banner headlines reading "We Love You," and "Thank You, USA," after the U.S. kept Mexico's World Cup qualifying hopes alive with a 3-2 victory over Panama.
Mexico and the U.S. are usually bitter rivals. Feelings are so strong in Mexico that fans chanted the name of Osama bin Laden as the Star Spangled Banner played in a 2004 Olympic qualifying game.
Mexico lost its Tuesday match 2-1 against Costa Rica. If Panama had held on to its lead and beaten the United States, Mexico would have been eliminated from the World Cup qualifying rounds.
The last word
Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said he has been fined $10,500 by the NFL for wearing green shoes in the team's Oct. 10 game against the New York Giants. Marshall had said before the game he was wearing the shoes to attract attention to Mental Health Awareness Week. Marshall, who has been treated for a personality disorder, planned to match any fine with a donation to his foundation, which supports mental health awareness. He said he also plans to auction off the shoes and donate the proceeds to charity. Marshall posted the league letter informing him of the fine on Twitter and wrote:
"Football is my platform not my purpose. This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised."