EKU, Murray two favorites to win OVC championship
Jeff Neubauer said he has his best team in nine years as Eastern Kentucky's coach. His coaching counterparts agree. The Colonels, who haven't won the conference title since 1979, are the pre-season favorites to win the Ohio Valley Conference's East Division and garnered more first-place votes than any other league team.
Fresh off a school-record 25 wins, Eastern Kentucky returns more experience than any team in the league with four starters back, paced by backcourt tandem Glenn Cosey and Corey Walden. Both were named to the pre-season All-OVC squad. In a vote by league coaches and sports information directors, the Colonels garnered 128 points and 18 first-place votes in the OVC East.
"We do have a very good returning group and that is something we're excited about," Neubauer said Tuesday at OVC Media Day in Nashville. "We've picked to win the OVC East because of our returners and the fact that we only lost one guy. I don't think we're picked dominantly to win because Belmont is still on our side. Belmont is the team to beat."
Defending league champion Belmont was picked to finish second in the East with 116 points and six first-place votes. Murray State and Southeast Missouri State are the co-favorites with 117 points each in the West Division, though SEMO had 13 first-place votes to Murray State's 11. Southeast Missouri State forward Tyler Stone was named pre-season player of the year.
For Murray State, the West champs last year, expectations haven't changed even though the roster has. The Racers lost four starters, most notably co-OVC player of the year Isaiah Canaan. The guard averaged a league-high 21.8 points and was drafted in the second round by the NBA's Houston Rockets. Two weeks ago, the Racers lost point guard Zay Jackson to torn knee ligaments.
Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin were picked to win the women's East and West divisions, respectively. The women's pre-season All OVC team included Eastern Kentucky's Marie Carpenter and Morehead State's Terrice Robinson and Almesha Jones.
■ Georgetown College's men's and women's were both picked to finish first the Mid-South Conference. The Tigers' men's team, which is the defending NAIA champions, got six of the 10 first-place votes by conference coaches. Pikeville college was second in the voting and received three first-place votes.
Cats' Andrew Harrison, Cards' Jones named to Cousy Award watch list
Kentucky freshman Andrew Harrison was one of 45 players named to the watch list Tuesday for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's college basketball. The watch list was created by a committee of media members and influential people within college basketball from around the country. Other nominees include Louisville's Chris Jones, Ohio State's Aaron Craft, Duke's Quinn Cook, Indiana's Yogi Ferrell, Florida's Kasey Hill, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Alabama's Trevor Releford.
No post-season ban for Miami
More than 2½ years after former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro contacted the NCAA from prison and began detailing his role in rampant rule-breaking by those involved with Miami's football and men's basketball programs, the Hurricanes got their final penalties. The most notable sanctions are the nine lost football scholarships over three years and one lost basketball scholarship in each of the next three seasons.
There will be no post-season bans, so for the first time since 2010, Miami's football team — currently undefeated and ranked No. 7 nationally — will be heading to a bowl game.
Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith, who had been at Miami, will miss the first five games of his team's upcoming season because of what the NCAA said his role was in the Shapiro scandal.
Three former Miami assistant coaches got two-year show-cause bans, including Clint Hurtt, who's part of the football staff at Louisville.
Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich said that the school had suspended Hurtt but plans no additional action against him,
"Clint has worked with us diligently to make this happen," Jurich said of the fourth-year assistant, who had been the Cardinals' recruiting coordinator. "What we've seen here is he's been a model citizen. He's been a model for compliance; he's done everything we've ever asked him to do above and beyond; he's been great on the field and great off the field, and that played a lot into my decision. I think he has learned from his mistakes."
Post time set for Breeders' Cup Classic
The Breeders' Cup Classic, the $5 million showcase race of Thoroughbred racing's two-day world championships, will be run at 8:35 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.
Nine Breeders' Cup races will be run on that Saturday, with three others completing the 12-race card. Five races will be run on Nov. 1, with six others on the card. The big race on Friday's program will be the $2 million Distaff, which will be run at 7:35 p.m. Eastern.
■ Overanalyze, this year's Arkansas Derby winner, was retired from racing and will stand at WinStar Farm in Versailles. Overanalyze won the Arkansas Derby by 41/2 lengths over a field that included Preakness winner Oxbow.
Major League baseball
Giants, Lincecum agree to 2-year deal
Tim Lincecum is staying put with the San Francisco Giants just as he hoped, reaching agreement Tuesday on a $35 million, two-year contract through the 2015 season.
"I've just been one of the most fortunate pitchers in this organization just to be a part of so many things," said Lincecum, who won the Cy Young in 2008 and '09. "To have the guys around me, Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, big names, Buster Posey coming up, Pablo Sandoval. The names just don't end. To be here to witness all the things they've done, and be there for also the team things, it's been pretty special for me."
Lincecum went 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 32 starts this season. He joined Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry and also Kirk Rueter as the only Giants in San Francisco history to win at least 10 games in six straight seasons.
Ravita falls in USTA/ITA regional finals
University of Kentucky tennis player Nadia Ravita lost 6-2, 6-3 to Vanderbilt's Georgiana Sellyn in the USTA/ITA regional finals at Memphis on Tuesday.
■ Richard Petty Motorsports will honor Maurice "Chief" Petty this weekend by running a car featuring the likeness of the Hall of Fame inductee on the hood. Aric Almirola's traditional No. 43 Ford will be replaced at Martinsville Speedway with a No. 41 Ford in Petty Blue colors. The number represents the one Maurice Petty used during his driving career. It's fitting for RPM to run the car at Martinsville, where the Petty organization won 19 races. Maurice Petty built 15 of the race-winning engines.
■ Top-ranked amateur golfer Lydia Ko announced her decision to turn professional at the age of 16 after foregoing more than $1 million in potential prize money. Ko is ranked No. 5 in the world.
The last word
Pittburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on why NFL teams are throwing the ball more than they used to:
"It's easier to throw the ball over somebody's head for 40 yards than it is to pound down the field three at a time."