Sports Briefs

2013-02-27T00:02:49Z Sports Briefs Daily Herald
February 27, 2013 12:02 am

Honors

Patch named MPSF and AVCA Player of the Week

BYU freshman Ben Patch has been named the MPSF Player of the Week and the Sports Imports/AVCA Player of the Week for his performance last weekend in No. 2 BYU's wins over No. 5 Stanford and No. 14 Pacific.

Patch, a true freshman from Provo High, recorded a career-high 26 kills (.465 hitting), just one kill shy of the 2013 MPSF season-high, in BYU's 3-2 comeback win over Stanford. One of his kills gave the Cougars set point in the second, another was the set four winner and he wrapped up the win with the match point in the fifth. The victory snapped a six-match losing streak to the Cardinal dating back to 2010. Patch was also in double figures with 13 kills (.417) in BYU's sweep vs. Pacific, along with adding one ace and three blocks. Patch averaged 4.88 kills per set with a .441 hitting attack for the week. Patch's kills were match-highs both nights.

The 6-foot-8 outside hitter is second on the team in kills with 181, behind only All-American Taylor Sander. The Cougars are back in action at No. 1 UC Irvine and UC San Diego March 1 and March 2, respectively

• Jensen earns another POW: UVU's Sammie Jensen has been named Great West Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week after leading the Wolverines to a conference win over Chicago State last week. Jensen, a senior from Stansbury, helped UVU clinch at least a share of the conference title on Saturday as she led the Wolverines to a 63-55 road win over Chicago State. Jensen led the way with 18 points and 21 rebounds for her 18th double-double of the season. The senior forward went 7-for-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe. Her 21 rebounds were also just one shy of the single-game school record that she set earlier this year.

Jensen currently leads the Great West in rebounding (13.9 rpg) and is second in the nation in that same category. She is also second in the GWC in scoring with an average of 17.4 points per game.

• Cougars get academic kudos: The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association awarded the 2012 BYU men's cross country team All-Academic Team honors. In addition to the team award, three Cougars earned individual All-Academic honors for standout academic and athletic achievements.

To qualify as a USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team, the team must have had a cumulative team GPA of 3.00 or better and have started at least five runners at its respective NCAA regional championship. BYU finished the season with a sixth place outing at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships while maintaining an average GPA of 3.16.

Jared Ward, Tylor Thatcher and Rex Shields were the BYU athletes named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team, which requires at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA and either USTFCCA All-America status or a top-15 finish in the NCAA in 2012. Ward and Thatcher earned All-America status by finishing 14th and 34th, respectively, at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships. Shields qualified for the honor by finishing 15th overall at the NCAA Mountain Region Cross Country Championships.

Basketball

Minnesota takes down No. 1 Indiana

MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Mbakwe had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help Minnesota take down No. 1 Indiana 77-73 on Tuesday night, the seventh time the top-ranked team in The Associated Press' poll has lost this season.

Andre Hollins added 16 points for the Gophers (19-9, 7-8 Big Ten), who outrebounded Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers 44-30 and solidified their slipping NCAA tournament case.

Zeller was held to nine points with four turnovers for the Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3), who have held the No. 1 ranking for 10 of 17 polls this season including the last four. Victor Oladipo scored 16 points and Jordan Hulls had 14 of his 17 before halftime.

Mbakwe, a sixth-year senior, posted his conference-leading seventh double-double for Minnesota, which had 23 offensive rebounds.

• Coach K again says he won't be back as U.S. coach: Mike Krzyzewski said again Tuesday he doesn't plan to return as U.S. men's basketball coach after leading the Americans to two Olympic gold medals.

Saying "my stance hasn't changed," Krzyzewski told ESPN Radio he expects USA Basketball to name a new coach this summer.

The Hall of Fame Duke coach said during and after last summer's Olympics that he wasn't planning to return to the position he's held with the national team since 2005. However, he still hasn't confirmed that decision with USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, who has said they will talk after the college season.

"I've loved, loved, loved, and it's been an honor being with the USA Basketball team," Krzyzewski said in the interview. "And to coach the team and work with Jerry these seven years has been marvelous.

"And we're in a good spot," Krzyzewski added. "We need to keep building."

Krzyzewski led the Americans to Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, and a world basketball championship in 2010. The Americans also won bronze in the 2006 worlds, their first tournament under his guidance, and haven't lost a game since.

The Americans automatically qualified for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain by winning gold in London. Colangelo originally said he planned to name a new coach around the new year, but put off those plans so he could talk to Krzyzewski once the Blue Devils' season was finished.

The delay created speculation Krzyzewski was open to a return, but he told ESPN Radio that USA Basketball wouldn't make an announcement during the season, anyway.

If Krzyzewski is indeed finished, Colangelo will first have to determine if he wants to stay with a college coach or go back to someone from the NBA. Before Krzyzewski, the Americans had been led by someone from the pros since 1992, when NBA players were first allowed to play in the Olympics.

But after a bronze medal finish in 2004, two years after an embarrassing sixth-place performance in the worlds, Colangelo was given control of USA Basketball and hired Krzyzewski, who has been on the staff of 12 U.S. teams since 1979.

Fisher rejoins Thunder, not planning on retiring: At Oklahoma City, five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher isn't planning on his latest stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder being his last chance to play in the league. He has just one goal in mind and he'll wear a reminder of it on his jersey in every game.

Fisher chose No. 6 to wear on his uniform, to represent his quest for a sixth NBA title. He won five alongside Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers and for the second straight season will join the Thunder for the stretch run to try and help Kevin Durant win his first.

"It symbolizes something for me in terms of No. 6 but it also symbolizes for me the reason why I'm here to be a part of this team and that's to help get No. 1," Fisher said Tuesday after his first practice.

Fisher wore No. 37 last season to reflect his age and deliver a message that he could still play after getting traded away by the Lakers. He wasn't offered the chance to return to Oklahoma City during the offseason, but he was signed Monday as a free agent after the Thunder traded away third-string point guard Eric Maynor.

Fisher played in nine games earlier this season with Dallas, but asked for his release to spend more time with his family after he had injured his right knee.

"I knew that I still wanted to play the game. I knew I still had the love, the work ethic, the passion," Fisher said. "The injury was a setback. The biggest struggle was for me, even after 16 years (in the NBA), playing in a different city, being away from my family. Those are things that I struggled with. But as I was leaving Dallas, I understood the risks that that could possibly be my last game or my last opportunity."

He said his knee was healthy enough by Jan. 1 for him to resume training, and he hopes the end of career is not near.

"I'm not planning on retiring at the end of the season but if this is my last season, I deserve this opportunity to be here with this group," Fisher said. "So, that's really what brought me back."

Coach Scott Brooks wouldn't say if Fisher or swingman Ronnie Brewer, who was acquired in a trade last week, will be activated for Wednesday night's game against New Orleans. He said both will get playing time, but he's not divulging how he plans to shake up his rotation to mix in the two playoff-tested veterans.

Auto Racing

Fans injured at NASCAR race explore legal options

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The attorney for three NASCAR fans injured last weekend during a race the day before the Daytona 500 says they are exploring a possible lawsuit, but some experts say they could face tough obstacles in winning damages.

Matt Morgan, the Orlando-based lawyer for the fans, said at a news conference Tuesday than any suit would focus on the safety fence used along the track at Daytona International Speedway. He said he hopes to reach a settlement with NASCAR to avoid a lawsuit.

More than 30 people were injured last Saturday after a horrific wreck in a second-tier NASCAR series race sent chunks of debris, including a heavy tire, into the stands. Morgan declined to provide the identities of his clients, but said two of them were seated directly in front of the crash and sustained injuries ranging from a fractured fibula to abdominal swelling. All have been released from the hospital.

Some experts say there could be grounds for a lawsuit, and that courts have looked past liability waivers written on the backs of sporting event tickets. Others maintain the ticket is a legal contract that could be hard to overcome in court.

"Ultimately, I believe it would be gross negligence," Morgan said. "We all know that when you go to a race you assume a certain amount of risk. But what people don't assume is that a race car will come flying into the stands... That's why they make the fences."

Asked to comment on the fans' retention of a law firm, NASCAR spokesman David Higdon wrote in a statement, "We are unaware of any lawsuits filed."

Daytona International Speedway is owned by International Speedway Corp., a NASCAR sister company. Spokesman Andrew Booth said, "As per company policy, we do not comment on pending litigation."

Donnalynn Darling, a New York-based attorney who has been practicing personal injury law for 30 years, said there is a theory that a spectator who buys tickets to a sporting event assumes the risk of objects coming out of the field of play, such as a foul ball at a baseball game.

But she said there is also a foreseeable risk question that promoters of events also accept.

"Did the sporting event promoter take action to prevent that specific risk?" Darling asked. "In terms of this fence ... it was put up to prevent people from being hurt. You have people who were not only injured by falling debris, but by the failure of the fence."

Others say such restrictive clauses on the back of tickets are generally disfavored by Florida courts.

"If it's just something written on the back of the ticket and not called to the attention of the person purchasing, there's reason to believe many courts in Florida won't hold that they consented efficiently," said University of Florida emeritus law professor Joseph Little.

Still, Paul Huck, an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law, said contract law could take precedence.

"A ticket to one of these events is like a contract -- and its provisions limiting liability are generally enforceable," he said. "We enter into these types of contracts on a regular basis, and we often don't give it a second thought that we may be limiting or even giving up certain legal rights when we do so."

Darling also said that the fence's manufacturer at Daytona would likely be "very much responsible" because of it being foreseeable that debris could go through a fence that has holes in it.

Hockey

L.A. Kings trade Simon Gagne back to Philadelphia

The Los Angeles Kings traded Simon Gagne back to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday for a conditional draft pick, sending the struggling left wing back to the city where he had his greatest NHL success.

Gagne spent his first 10 NHL seasons with the Flyers, but won his first Stanley Cup title last season in Los Angeles after a late-playoff return from a concussion. He hasn't scored a goal in 11 games this season for the Kings, who decided the veteran didn't fit in coach Darryl Sutter's system.

Before Gagne even got up the nerve to ask for a trade, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi sent him back to Philadelphia.

"They just did it on their own," Gagne said. "It just shows you the class those guys have. Even if it's hard getting traded in the middle of the season, going to Philly -- and they told me it was the best place for me to go -- they're really gentlemen to do that to me this year."

Los Angeles will get a third-round pick if Philadelphia makes the playoffs or a fourth-round pick if the Flyers miss the postseason.

Gagne had 259 goals and 524 points in his decade with the Flyers, who traded him to Tampa Bay in July 2010 partly to get under the salary cap. The Kings signed him a year later, but Gagne has scored just 24 goals in 108 games since leaving Philadelphia.

"This is a good player that I've known a long time, and I know that if he would have wanted to go anywhere, that would be the place he wanted to go," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, a former Flyers scout. "Given that we had to do this, if we can, I would certainly put him someplace I know he'd be happy."

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