February 16, 2006
Tyler Hansbrough:
Runaway fave for college hoops freshman of the year sets the ACC record for scoring by a frosh (40) in a win for young, overachieving UNC (over GA Tech.)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

"If I say something, I say the wrong thing," Mike Davis said last night after Indiana's loss to Big Ten bottom-feeder Penn State.

Davis was trying to be coy about reports that he is stepping down at the end of the season, but the quote illustrates precisely why he's as good as out.

Davis never spoke Hoosier. He was constantly mismanaging expectations, both rhetorically and competitively. (Leading Indiana to the national title game in 2002 was the greatest -- and worst -- thing he could do.)

After that, Davis had nowhere to go but down. I buy his theory that it didn't help he wasn't an ex-IU player (though even Steve Alford would get ripped if he produced average teams).

But his external relations with IU fans and administrators and the media significantly contributed to today's situation.

Success as a college hoops coach is nearly as much about managing communication as it is about winning (in Davis' case, maybe equally).

Missouri's Quin Snyder resigned, and reports are that the school wants to look into the circumstances. His tenure was marked by being perceived as too slick.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton waited even longer than Dick Cheney to provide an explanation for his driving incident late last week.

Davis may be right when says he can't say anything without stumbling over his own rhetoric, but the reality of college sports today is that a coach better be able to manage his P.R. as deftly as he does his Xs and Os.

Sosa Retiring?
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire will always be intertwined for their 1998 home run race that "saved baseball" (a theory begging to be debunked, by the way). They're also linked by the taint (unsubstantiated) of being poster guys for MLB's steroid era.

There are reports that Sosa is ready to retire, rather than take a low-ball offer from the Nats. And as you ponder Sosa's legacy, there's one more way that McGwire and Sosa are intertwined:

If you think Big Mac is worthy of the Hall of Fame, you have to put Slammin' Sammy in there too. (If you're willing to leave McGwire out, then you have the moral high-ground to exclude Sosa, too. But you'd be wrong.)

Short of any evidence that he used steroids (and despite his little corking incident), Sosa's Hall bona fides are impossible to deny: 588 career home runs. End of debate.

Olympics Wrap
Another hyped pre-Olympics star, another dud. This is the story of the U.S. in the Olympics in this opening week.

The latest disappointment includes moguls skier Jeremy Bloom, who better hope the NFL is kinder than the results of his 6th-place finish. (Kudos to U.S. unknown Toby Dawson, who claimed the bronze.)

Vince Carter: Fan fave to get NBA ASG start for J. O'Neal?
Wisconsin: Huge Big Ten win at home vs. sizzling Ohio State
Jim O'Brien: Wins lawsuit against Ohio State (Say what?!)
Gil Arenas: All-Star shoots 4-22 FG (12 pts) in L to DAL
Anaheim: City Council won't appeal Angels' "LA=OK" ruling
Vivy: Westminster-winning whippet lost on airport tarmac
U.S. men's hockey suffered a humiliating 3-3 tie to Latvia. (Remember when you cared about hockey?)

The previously dominant men's curling team caught the bug, losing a shocker to curling first-timer Italy.

And speedskater Chad Hedrick lost out on his bid for five golds when his teammates in team pursuit choked to the home-ice Italians in the quarterfinals.

(Interesting subplot: Shani Davis chose not to participate, concentrating on Saturday's individual 1,000m, in which he'll go head-to-head with an obviously displeased Hedrick.)

Even our doubles luge studs, two-time Olympic medalists, spit the bit and took a crash on their first run, ending their shot at Olympic gold (or any medal) glory, in the bitter tears only a doubles luge mishap could inspire.

(There was one heartwarming story yesterday: Skier Lindsey Kildow rebounded from that nasty crash earlier this week. She finished 8th, but merely getting down the hill is victory.)

I hope everyone realizes this places our aspirations of success on the narrow shoulders of figure-skater Johnny Weir, who would surely love to cover them in a pashmina before his long program today.

LeBron vs. Pierce
One-on-one battle of the year in the NBA. Sometimes, stats say it all:

LeBron: 54
Pierce: 54

LeBron: 43
Pierce: 50

Field Goals
LeBron: 16-32 (50 pct)
Pierce: 17-36 (47 pct)

LeBron: 12 and 11
Pierce: 7 and 8

Final Score (2OT)
LeBron/Cavs: 113
Pierce/Celtics: 109

If the showcase against LeBron enhances Pierce's trade value, all the better. It should only remind fans that even if Pierce can put on the occasionally brilliant display, the team still lost. Sell high, C's!

Darko Moves On
After my argument yesterday about why Darko's disappointing NBA career wasn't really his fault, the completion of his trade to Orlando lets me flip it around: Why he will succeed:

Expectations: Unlike his hype on Draft Night 2003, the new expectations couldn't be lower. How hard is it to top 2 ppg?

Opportunity: Larry Brown had him buried at the end of the bench; Brian Hill will give him the minutes to develop his game -- and confidence.

Teammates: Instead of trying to crack a lineup of 4 All-Stars, he's paired with another developing young forward, Dwight Howard.

Fan support: In Detroit, he was the human victory cigar. In Orlando, fans can rally behind him from the start. Positive reinforcement!

MLB "Ps-n-Cs" Wrap
Perhaps inspired by his cameo in yesterday's column, Jayson Stark delivered a Quickie-esque take on basically everything you need to know about the baseball offseason. (OK, perhaps with a wee bit more insight.)

If you read one baseball column this month, this is the one.

His best observations: Billy Wagner as the top free-agent acquisition (lots of Mets love, actually); the Blue Jays as "Checkbook Champs"; and Bonds' return as the most intriguing NL spring story line.

Diploma mills:
NCAA will no longer accept transcripts from these sketchy factories that pump out grades to make high school players eligible. (Juco enrollment explodes?)
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Delonte West V-Day
Page 2 Index
Wheaties Watch
The Snowboarders
They're the new skaters
Chad Hedrick
Uh, how about 4 golds?
Johnny Weir
Needs a medal today
Joey Cheek
For Darfur contribution
(Left Open)
Symbolic of disappointment

Wayne Gretzky is launching a new Roots fashion line. No word on whether it comes with a special-edition Player's Club card. Who loves ya, baby?

Meanwhile, you can cancel that printing run of "Free Janet!" T-shirts. It sounds like Janet Jones Gretzky won't be charged by prosecutors.

Sutton admits he was drinking before being charged with DUI last week and he'll seek treatment for alcoholism. Can he (or will he) return next year?

Olympic Scandal Watch: We've got our first doping-related suspension. Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva, come on down!

MLB Hot Stove (wait, is it still "Hot Stove" after pitchers and catchers report?): Anyhoo, the Angels signed SP Jeff Weaver (1Y/$8.3M)

"Through the Fire"? How about "Through the Metal Detector"? Blazers PG Bassy Telfair fined for bringing a gun onto Portland's plane. Oops.

Is there some sort of connection with the people you share a birthday with? Also born on Feb. 16: Jerome Bettis, John McEnroe and Mark Price.

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