Sports digest 4/23/02

Tuesday, April 23, 2002


  • Chris Wilcox is entering the NBA draft, leaving Maryland after winning the NCAA championship as a sophomore.

    The forward moved into the starting lineup 11 games into the season and averaged 12 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

    Only one starter, point guard Steve Blake, will back for the Terrapins next season. The team also is losing seniors Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Byron Mouton.

    Forward Mario Austin reversed course again and said Monday he'll return to Mississippi State for his junior season instead of entering the NBA draft.

    The 6-foot-9 Austin averaged team-highs of 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds, leading the Bulldogs to the Southeastern Conference tournament championship and a school-record 27 victories.

    The NCAA got what it wanted out of its new "pod" system for the men's basketball tournament -- less travel and increased attendance.

    Ticket sales for the first two rounds of this year's tournament increased by more than 15 percent over last year, and arenas sold 95.5 percent of tickets -- the highest total since 1995. The regional semifinals and championships also showed an increase, from 85.2 percent in 2001 to 97.3 percent this year.

    "There is no question that the 'pod' system was a big part of it," NCAA official Bill Hancock said. "Half as many teams traveled outside the time zones as last year, so people could see their favorite teams play."

    San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan won the NBA's IBM Award, a computer-calculated measure of a player's contribution to his team.

    Duncan defeated Detroit's Ben Wallace, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and Minnesota's Kevin Garnett.

    The Clippers' Elton Brand was fourth, followed by the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal, the winner in 1999-00 and 2000-01.

    Duncan became the 14th player in NBA history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a season. He finished in the top 10 in five categories, leading the league in field goals and free throws made.

    Duncan was fifth in scoring average (25.5 points) and second in rebounding (12.7).

    His statistics were worth 112.92 points, the league announced Monday. Wallace earned 103.75, Garnett 101.51, Brand 94.67, and O'Neal 90.89.


  • The Chicago Bears have another Butkus.

    Luke Butkus, the nephew of NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, signed with his uncle's pro team.

    Butkus, a 6-3, 295-pounder, played at his famous uncle's college, Illinois, where he started every game at center the past three years. He was a third team Associated Press All-American last season.

    The Bears also signed one of Butkus' teammates, punter Steve Fitts.

    Chicago signed eight other undrafted college free agents Monday: guard Mike Collins of Wake Forest, defensive tackles Rod Jones of Alabama-Birmingham and Curry Dawson of Angelo State, running back Eric McCoo of Penn State, cornerback Tony Lukins of New Mexico State, wide receiver Edell Shepherd of San Jose State, safety Adrian Singleton of Alabama Birmingham and tackle Dave Volk of Nebraska.

    Terms of the deals were not disclosed.


  • Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Lyle Odelein was suspended for one game by the NHL on Monday for crosschecking Jamal Mayers of the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their playoff series.

    Odelein received a major penalty on the play midway through the third period in a game the Blues won 4-0 Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

    The defenseman will miss tonight's Game 4 in Chicago.


  • Figure skater Tonya Harding pleaded innocent to a drunken driving charge in Clark County District Court.

    The City of Camas also filed a motion alleging that Harding, 31, violated a probation requirement that she consume "no alcohol at all" for two years following May 18, 2000 -- a court order stemming from a hubcap attack on her then-boyfriend earlier that year.

    Harding failed a sobriety test and her blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent early Saturday when she crashed her pickup into a ditch in the southwest Washington town of Battle Ground, Clark County sheriff's officers said.

    Neither Harding nor her passenger -- Christopher Nolan, 23, of Battle Ground -- was hurt. Prominent thoroughbred owner Ogden Phipps died Monday at Good Samaritan Medical Center after a short illness. He was 93.

    Phipps, whose daughter, Cynthia, owns Kentucky Derby prospect Saarland, was a member and past chairman of The Jockey Club, and trustee emeritus of the New York Racing Association.

    Phipps was actively involved with thoroughbred racing for approximately 70 years and raced stakes winners such as Buckpasser, Easy Goer and the undefeated Personal Ensign.

    He won Breeders' Cup races with Personal Ensign in 1988, Dancing Spree in 1989, and My Flag in 1995, and won Eclipse Awards as the nation's leading owner and leading breeder in 1988 and as the nation's leading owner in 1989.

    -- From wire reports

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