Ryan's Place

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Magic Lose to Bulls 76-85

From Sportsline.com:

Kirk Hinrich hit the open shots. He hit the floor chasing loose balls. He hit his teammates with precise passes.

That combination lifted the Chicago Bulls over the Orlando Magic 85-76 Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.

Hinrich scored 20 points and tied a career high by finishing with 14 assists for the third time. The third-year pro added five steals and finished with his third double-double of the season. He was 8-of-17.

"My mentality was a lot better, I think," Hinrich said. "I was able to shake off the bad plays I made and keep playing with confidence throughout the game. That's something I'm trying to work on on the days off -- just go out there and play and forget about all the little things that happen."

Luol Deng tied his season high with 21 points and Michael Sweetney scored 12 for the Bulls in their first home game since Nov. 12. Andres Nocioni added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 20, and Dwight Howard added 17 points and 19 rebounds for Orlando, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.

Jameer Nelson had 13 points, but Steve Francis was just 2-of-9 and finished with nine points. He was cut above his right eyebrow after being fouled with 6:33 left in the game, but stayed in.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Magic Beat Celtics 87-83

From Sportsline.com:

Before the game, Doc Rivers spoke glowingly of Orlando forward Dwight Howard. A few hours later, Howard made the Celtics coach's words come true.

Jameer Nelson scored nine of his 16 points in the final 9:52 and Howard blocked Mark Blount's potential game-tying shot with 12 seconds left Monday night, helping the Magic beat the Celtics 87-83 for their fourth straight win.

Howard had 10 points and 10 rebounds, shooting just 2-for-3 from the field as he battled double teams all night. Despite his offensive struggles, he made the key defensive play.

Orlando led 83-81 when Blount took a pass in the lane, but Howard got a piece of it before the shot could be released.

"Some nights its' not going to be there for you on the offensive end," Howard said. "I knew he had to go up with it, so I just wanted to get that block."

Steve Francis led the Magic with 19 points and DeShawn Stevenson had 11. Howard was 6-for-12 from the free-throw line and had two blocks.

"He has the skill of (Tim) Duncan and the athletic ability of (Kevin) Garnett at this age," Francis said of Howard. "He's on the way up."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Seahawks Beat Giants in OT 24-21

From NFL.com:

The more the Seahawks tried to hand the game to the Giants, the more Jay Feely kept kicking it back.

And short. And wide.

NFC-leading Seattle survived a wild finish and an even wilder overtime to steal a 24-21 victory over New York, which had three chances to win with Feely -- 23 of 25 on field goals up to that point -- on the field.

The result of each belied an impressive Giants effort: Feely was barely wide left on a 40-yarder on the final play of regulation, short on a 54-yard try in overtime, and wide right and way short on a second chance in the extra period from 45 yards.

By the third miss, the Seahawks were finally ready to capitalize.

Matt Hasselbeck lofted a 38-yard pass between the Giants' zone coverages to push Seattle from its 24 to the New York 38. Then Josh Brown made a 36-yard field goal with 2:45 left in overtime.

Seattle's seventh straight victory leaves it one win or a St. Louis loss away from clinching the NFC West; the Seahawks are now 9-2 for the first time since 1984 -- which is also the last time they won a playoff game. They have only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, Dec. 24 against Peyton Manning 's undefeated Indianapolis Colts.

"What was it, three (misses)?" Hasselbeck said after he completed 21 of 37 passes for 249 yards and two scores and an interception.

"Shoot, I kind of think we are still in shock, really."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Magic Edge Heat 80-77

From Sportsline.com:

Brian Hill had a brief message for his players before they went out to face the Miami Heat on Saturday.

"I told them eight is enough. Let's end it right here," the Orlando Magic coach said of his team's losing streak against Miami. "That's really all I had to say."

The Magic players took it from there, leading wire-to-wire against their in-state rival and sealing their 80-77 victory with tough defense and some clutch free-throw shooting.

Orlando held Miami to a season-low 32 percent shooting and made two defensive stops in the final minute when Miami had the ball trailing 76-74.

DeShawn Stevenson forced Heat guard Dwyane Wade to miss from 20 feet on the first possession and Heat guard Gary Payton stepped out of bounds to turn the ball over with 12 seconds left on the next possession.

Jameer Nelson and Steve Francis combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 11 seconds to help the Magic push their season-high winning streak to three games.

"We're winning these games because we're able to guard people and make them take tough shots," said Hill, who promised just that when he was rehired as the Magic coach last May. "You have to take pride in your defense and our guys are starting to see the positive results from that."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Badgers Finish With Win at Hawaii

From ESPN.com:

Barry Alvarez is too busy right now to think about the end of his coaching career.

Brian Calhoun ran for 149 yards, including 133 in the first half, and a touchdown to lead No. 24 Wisconsin to a 41-24 victory over Hawaii on Friday night in Alvarez's final regular-season game with the Badgers.

"I'm not thinking about the end of my career because I have another game," Alvarez said.

Wisconsin (9-3) snapped a two-game skid and now waits to find out which bowl it will play in. The Badgers could be headed to the Capital One Bowl if Ohio State earns a BCS bid.

It was the 117th victory and secured the sixth nine-win season for Alvarez, who is retiring from coaching after 16 years. He will continue as Wisconsin's athletic director, a position he has held since April 2004.

"Most people thought a 6-6 season would be a good season going in. To win nine with this group and to have an opportunity to play in the Jan. 2 game, I feel great about it," he said.

Alvarez said the win hasn't changed his decision about giving up coaching.

"I made my decision," he said. "I feel good about it. I'm at peace with my decision."

Wisconsin's ground attack, led by the quick and shifty Calhoun, wore down Hawaii and opened up the passing game.

Badgers quarterback John Stocco was nearly flawless, going 12-of-16 for 191 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also had a 1-yard scoring run on fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter to put the Badgers up by 17.

Stocco said the team was motivated to win for Alvarez.

"Obviously, we want to honor him, and I think the best way to do that is to just win games," Stocco said. "He's been huge for the program. When he got here, he really turned things around and took this program to the top. He's a real classy guy."

Stocco connected with Jonathan Orr on a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Badgers up 24-7.

The duo also teamed up in the opening quarter. Orr got past a defender and caught a 23-yard TD pass to give Wisconsin a 14-7 lead.

The Badgers totaled 440 yards of offense, including 292 in the first half, on a muggy night at Aloha Stadium.

Before the game, Alvarez emphasized to his players that the trip to the islands was a business trip, and not a vacation.

"The key to this is making sure your kids stay focused until the game," he said.

Magic Win Again 104-89

From Sportsline.com:

The Orlando Magic finally had an easy win.

Jameer Nelson scored a season-high 24 points and Dwight Howard added 21 points and 18 rebounds Friday night as the Magic beat the Portland Trail Blazers 104-89.

The Magic won by double digits for the first time this season and matched their season-high win streak at two games.

"We've been working on just burying a team when we have a big lead and not letting them breathe, and we finally did that tonight," Howard said.

Portland, ranked 28th out of 30 teams in scoring this season, had a season-high 35 points and an eight-point lead after the first quarter, but the Magic limited the Blazers to 54 points the rest of the game.

"I told our guys after the first quarter that giving up 35 points to the 28th-ranked offense in the league is totally unacceptable," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "Fortunately, we buckled down some, quit letting their guards penetrate so easily and things got a lot better."

The Trail Blazers got 23 points from Darius Miles and a season-high 15 points and 12 rebounds from center Joel Przybilla, but the team's second-leading scorer, Zach Randolph, had only eight points on 4-of-14 shooting. Portland has lost four of five.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Magic Beat Wizards 91-83

From Sportsline.com:

No Steve Francis, no Grant Hill and very little Dwight Howard.

Still, the Orlando Magic found a way to win.

Hedo Turkoglu had a season-high 23 points and seven rebounds, leading the injury-depleted Magic to a 91-83 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

"As long as I'm aggressive, I know I'm going to get my shots. But tonight I had to be more aggressive to help the team scoring-wise," Turkoglu said. "When we get our leaders back, I'll be back in my role again."

The Wizards lost their fifth straight after a 5-1 start and got a rare off night from leading scorer Gilbert Arenas, who finished with 19 points and nine assists but shot 6-of-19. He was averaging 27.5 points and had five 30-point games this season.

"When you're in that slump, you're in the slump. But I'd rather have it now than in April," Arenas said. "Right now we're not panicking. It's something every team goes through. You just have to bounce back."

Already playing without Hill, Orlando also was missing Francis, its leading scorer, who injured a rib in a car accident after Saturday's 98-95 loss to New Orleans. DeShawn Stevenson played with floating cartilage in his left knee sustained in practice Monday, but managed 15 points.

Brewers Re-Sign Moeller

From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

The Brewers on Wednesday re-signed backup catcher Chad Moeller to a one-year contract for 2006.

Moeller, who would have been eligible for salary arbitration, will earn $700,000 for the second straight season.

"I'm excited to get another chance there," Moeller said from his Arizona home. "I like the team, I like the staff and the players, and it's a place where I feel very comfortable."

The Brewers feel comfortable with Moeller, who has had two straight disappointing seasons offensively but is considered a solid handler of pitchers, including ace Ben Sheets. Sheets and Moeller paired as the Brewers' Opening Day battery, though Moeller served primarily as the backup to catcher Damian Miller.

"We feel good about the familiarity Chad has with the pitchers," general manager Doug Melvin said. "He can do some good things for us."

In 66 games during 2005, Moeller matched a career high with seven home runs but batted a disappointing .206. A career .254 hitter when he came to Milwaukee in the December 2003 blockbuster trade that sent slugger Richie Sexson to Arizona, Moeller has batted .207 in two full seasons with the Brewers.

"Obviously, I don't like my numbers the last two years," Moeller said. "But if I could have got rid of April and May I think I would have had a solid year [in 2005]. Those two months were terrible -- the fans told you that, and deservedly so. That was tough to go through."

Moeller batted .095 in April and .103 in May, then batted .252 over the rest of the season.

According to Melvin, the Brewers are not the only team feeling a pinch behind the plate.

"There are not a lot of great catchers out there," Melvin said. "You look at the free agent list, and there's really nobody out there. So you could go the trade route, but you hate to give up a player to get a catcher in return who is not much better than Moeller."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Whew! Seahawks Hold off 49ers 27-25

From NFL.com:

Collapses have long been commonplace for the Seattle Seahawks, and this one was shaping up as a shameful classic. They were one pass away from blowing a 15-point lead and going to overtime after failing to stop the backups on one of the NFL's worst teams.

But these Seahawks believe they can change their flop-filled history. And when Ken Dorsey's final pass bounced in the end zone, Seattle changed, all right -- into the conference's winningest team.

Shaun Alexander rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and the Seahawks stopped the 49ers' two-point conversion attempt with 28 seconds left in their sixth straight victory, 27-25.

After the color returned to their faces, the Seahawks (8-2) realized they matched the best start in franchise history, also accomplished in 1999 and 1984 -- the last time the Seahawks won a playoff game. The '99 team was a more typical Seattle squad, losing five of its last six in coach Mike Holmgren's first season.

"In the past, we might have let this one slip away, but this is a different team and a different season," Holmgren said. "You have to win a game like this. It was important for us to win a game like this. You go in and everyone is talking about it all week -- what a lopsided game it could be -- because the players and the coaches are human beings."

Matt Hasselbeck was 19 of 31 for 233 yards and a TD pass to D.J. Hackett as the league's most prolific offense dominated the first three quarters, racking up 357 yards. But Seattle stalled in the fourth quarter, managing just 16 yards and no first downs while awakening those memories of embarrassing midseason losses.

And with coordinator Ray Rhodes back home in Seattle after his second stroke-like episode this season, the Seahawks' defense nearly blew a victory that put them alone atop the NFC after Carolina's loss to Chicago.

But the defense barely held, the offense still had good numbers -- and the Seahawks tried to get used to getting the breaks.

"My brother used to always tell me that when you are really doing good, you start to make things that are great, normal," said Alexander, who leads the NFL with 1,229 yards rushing. "That's what I'm trying to do, and our team is trying to do that, too. We are trying to make winning normal. We are trying to make 100-yard games normal ... because after that, the sky is the limit."

Magic Lose to Hornets by 3

From Sportsline.com:

Hedo Turkoglu and Keyon Dooling had 22 points apiece for Orlando (3-6). Dwight Howard had 16 points and 17 rebounds for his seventh straight double-double.

"This isn't the way I thought we'd begin our season ... I'll tell you that," said Magic guard Steve Francis, who had 21 points. "I didn't think that we would consistently give games away. I didn't think that we would keep letting things slip through our hands. I don't know what to do. I don't know what's going to happen."

After Paul scored a fastbreak basket to put New Orleans ahead 90-86, Francis made it a one-point game on a 3-pointer with 1:02 left. Paul responded with his own 3 to extend the Hornets' lead to 93-89 with 41.8 seconds to go.

After a defensive stop, West hit a pair of free throws to make it 95-91 lead with 28.6 seconds remaining. Paul also hit a two free throws down the stretch.

"David West scored almost enough points for the whole team tonight," Paul said. "That is just having guys step up when we needed them to."

New Orleans converted 15 of 20 free throw attempts in the fourth. The Magic did not go to the line in the period.

"That's an interesting stat," Magic coach Brian Hill said.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Magic Lose to Cavs 84-102

From Sportsline.com:

Orlando came in as the NBA's stingiest defensive team, but the Cavs beat the Magic for the second time in a week, surpassing the 100-point plateau against Orlando for the second time. The Magic have held their other six opponents under 100.

"I've never played with so much talent," said Ilgauskas, who has been with the Cavs since 1996. "You can afford to have a bad quarter or half. In the past, if you had a bad stretch, you were basically done."

Steve Francis had 21 points and Dwight Howard added 10 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando, which was outrebounded 54-40. The Cavaliers dominated at their end, finishing with 25 offensive rebounds - eight by Ilgauskas.

"Ilgauskas had seven in the first quarter alone," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I'm not sure I've ever been involved in a game where the other team had 25 offensive rebounds."

Ilgauskas, who had 11 rebounds overall, and James spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench, getting rest for Saturday night's game at Philadelphia.

Leading by 14 at halftime, the Cavaliers opened their lead to 20 after three when James crowned the period by delivering a soaring one-handed dunk off a gorgeous alley-oop pass from Jackson. However, Ilgauskas started the play by stepping around to poke the ball away from Howard underneath.

Helling Re-Signs for 1 Year

From MilwaukeeBrewers.com:

Instead of probing the free agent market for a guaranteed starting spot elsewhere, veteran right-hander Rick Helling signed a one-year contract with the Brewers on Friday.

The former 20-game winner inked an $850,000 contract to return to the Brewers and was among six players added to Milwaukee's 40-man roster in anticipation of next month's Rule 5 Draft.

"Milwaukee was always at the top of my list," said the 34-year-old Helling, who mulled retirement before signing a Minor League contract with the Brewers last January. "I knew going into last year that I had to prove I was healthy and I could still pitch. I think I did that. Now it's nice to sign back."

Also added to the roster: Shortstop Zach Sorensen, who was claimed off waivers from the Angels, plus infielder Hernan Iribarren, outfielder Tony Gywnn, Jr., and pitchers Manny Parra and Carlos Villanueva.

Helling's contract includes incentives based on a point system that rewards him whether he lands in the bullpen or the starting rotation. He excelled in both roles during the second half of 2005, but said of his discussions with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, "most of the talk was about me being in the rotation."

"Obviously, at this time of year, you can't guarantee anything," Helling said. "I think they were happy with the way I pitched in the starting role last year, but I think I also showed I could pitch in relief. Maybe it will be a situation where I start the year in the rotation and then move to the bullpen. At this point you just don't know.

"I felt some loyalty. [The Brewers] gave me a chance last year when they really didn't have to."

Coming off an injury-marred 2004 season, Helling pitched the first half of 2005 for Triple-A Nashville and earned a promotion on July 26. He went 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA down the stretch, posting a 3.52 ERA in eight relief appearances and a 2.18 ERA in seven starts, including a 1.69 ERA in six September outings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Magic Beat Bobcats 85-77

From Sportsline.com:

Dwight Howard made Orlando's 2004 draft look smart.

The No. 1 overall selection last year, Howard had 21 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Magic over Charlotte 85-77 Tuesday night and hand the Bobcats their fifth straight loss.

Orlando chose the high school standout over Emeka Okafor, who went second to Charlotte and was named the NBA's rookie of the year last season.

Howard finished third in the balloting, but has shown significant improvement this season -- especially on this night against Okafor.

"He's going to be a beast to contain," Magic forward Tony Battie said. "He's good right now, but he's going to be great."

Howard helped get Okafor into early foul trouble. Okafor, who entered the game averaging 13 points and nine boards, finished with eight points -- all in the fourth quarter -- and six rebounds.

"Dwight played strong. I'm not really surprised," Okafor said. "He's getting the ball more this year, just getting a lot more touches, and he was authoritative with his moves."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Seahawks Sweep Rams 31-16

From Seahawks.com:

Wearing a shirt, a tie and a towel, Seattle Seahawks second-year safety Michael Boulware struggled to get into his boxer shorts in light of his strained hamstring.

“Whew, I made it through,” Boulware sighed, a smile spreading across his face.

Indeed, he managed to get his shorts on without falling down.

He managed to make it through Sunday’s rain-soaked 31-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams without further damaging his hamstring.

And yes, he came up with his second interception of the season as one of three takeaways the young Seahawks defense had while holding the explosive Rams offense to just one touchdown.

“Our defense is a lot different than last year,” Boulware said. “We’re playing together as a team and it’s not just one player making the plays. It’s everybody in different situations. That’s what is awesome about us. There is a sense of family and unity that has us playing together the whole game. I don’t know how else to describe it other than I’ve never experienced anything like it before.”

It just keeps getting better. Safety Ken Hamlin is out for the year and Marquand Manuel has stepped in to play huge. Sunday, he had eight tackles and a fumble recovery on the heels of his career-high 12 tackles last week at Arizona.

Magic Lose to Cavs in OT

LeBron James became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 4,000 career points and finished with 26 to help the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Orlando Magic 108-100 in overtime on Sunday night.

James (20 years, 318 days) entered the game needing 10 points to pass Kobe Bryant (21 years, 216 days). After scoring on a jumper, two driving layups and a dunk, James reached the milestone on a 21-footer with 58.7 seconds left in the first quarter.

Larry Hughes had 22 points for Cleveland, which has won four straight.

Steve Francis led Orlando with 22 points and Dwight Howard had 21 points and 16 rebounds.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had 20 points, scored two baskets and Hughes hit a jumper as the Cavaliers jumped out to a 94-88 lead in overtime and never trailed after that.

Donyell Marshall sent the game into overtime, making a 3-pointer with 18.1 seconds left. Francis missed a potential game-winning 18-footer at the buzzer.

After the Magic fell behind 48-31 at the half, Pat Garrity's 3 and a basket by Howard pulled them even at 84 with 1:46 left. Francis then gave Orlando an 86-84 advantage on two free throws with just over a minute to go.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Badgers Lose to Iowa 10-20

It was slated to be a celebration of Barry Alvarez's 16 seasons as Wisconsin coach. Iowa refused to play along.

The Hawkeyes ruined Alvarez's going-away party Saturday, beating the 19th-ranked Badgers 20-10 and dashing the thin hopes Wisconsin had of sharing a piece of the Big Ten title.

Alvarez, who will step down after this season but remain as Wisconsin's athletic director, built a program that has been known for a punishing running game and a solid defense.

But Wisconsin had neither Saturday as Iowa (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) dominated both sides of the ball in the final three quarters and became bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season.

"The second half they flat out beat us up front," Alvarez said.

A record crowd filled Camp Randall to commemorate Alvarez's last home game. The school gave out thousands of white towels to fans that read, "Thanks Coach. Job well done." Following the game, the a montage of Alvarez's highlights was shown on the scoreboard. Among the best moments were three Rose Bowl wins and a 7-3 mark in bowl games.

"It's hard after a loss to sit there and reflect on the 16 years," said Alvarez, who is 116-73-4.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Magic Win 2nd Straight 88-83

The New Orleans Hornets gave Steve Francis and the Orlando Magic too many chances and it cost them.

Francis scored 24 points, including seven in the final 2:01, to help Orlando beat New Orleans 88-83 on Wednesday night for the Hornets' first loss in Oklahoma City.

"He shot a lot of shots toward the end of game. He made a couple of them," said Hornets rookie Chris Paul. "If you shoot that much, hopefully one of them will go in."

After DeShawn Stevenson's layup gave the Magic an 79-69 lead, the Hornets came charging back, going on a 10-3 run.

Speedy Claxton, who finished with 24 points, hit back-to-back baskets and his free throw with 1:23 left pulled New Orleans within three, 82-79.

Francis put back Jameer Nelson's miss on Orlando's next possession to put the Magic back up by five. David West scored to close the gap back to 84-81 with 49.9 seconds left, but New Orleans couldn't get a stop on the other end.

Stevenson came down with the second of two Francis misses before getting fouled with 8.5 seconds left. He hit both free throws to put Orlando up 86-81. After Claxton hit a jumper in the lane with four seconds left, Francis hit two free throws to seal the win.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Magic Earn 1st Win in Houston

Steve Francis didn't have to say how happy he was after leading the Orlando Magic to a victory over his former team.

His smile said it for him.

Francis scored 27 points and had two assists to Jameer Nelson in the final two minutes Tuesday night as the Magic won for the first time in four games, a 76-74 win over the Houston Rockets.

"It doesn't matter where we got it," Francis said. "We just had to have a win. It didn't matter if it was here or at home."

Yeah, right.

Francis played for the Rockets from 1999-2004 and then was traded in June 2004 in a blockbuster deal that brought Tracy McGrady to Houston. With McGrady out three weeks with a back injury, the stage belonged to Francis at the Toyota Center.

He was booed when he was introduced and almost every time he touched the ball, but shook off the jeers to shoot 12-of-26 from the field.

Seahawks Cut Urban & Alexander Named NFC Off. Player of the Week

From Seahawks.com:

The Seattle Seahawks released wide receiver Jerheme Urban Tuesday when it was revealed he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during Sunday’s win at Arizona. The release came as a result of the waiver Urban signed because of the same injury he suffered last year.
The Seahawks originally released Urban on Sept. 13 only to re-sign him on Oct. 4 in the wake of injuries to Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. Urban caught seven passes for 151 yards in the four games, including a big 46-yard reception late in the first half of Sunday’s game. In portions of three seasons with the Seahawks, Urban had 13 receptions that were good for 268 yards.
The Seahawks felt obligated to waive him because the precedent could affect the future signing of previously injured players.
“It’s unfortunate,” Seahawks President Tim Ruskell said, “We have to honor the waiver. We appreciate everything Jerheme has done for us and hopefully he gets another shot down the road.”

Monday, November 07, 2005

Seahawk Beat Cards 33-19

From Mike Kahn at Seahawks.com:

Patience, consistency, big-play capability. All those describe the Seattle Seahawks offense. But what may very well end up being the signature of this team is the capability of taking the ball the length of the field when it matters most.

Sunday afternoon before a blasé grouping of fans at Sun Devil Stadium, the Seahawks drove 93 yards in nearly seven minutes – capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run from Shaun Alexander midway through the fourth quarter – and put away the Arizona Cardinals for a 33-19 victory.

It was the fourth win in a row for the Seahawks, who raised their record to 6-2 atop the NFC West. It also completed a series sweep of the Cardinals (2-6) and moved them into a tie for the best record in the NFC with Atlanta and Carolina. The Seahawks play host to the second place St. Louis Rams next Sunday, whom they lead by two games in the division.

Alexander overcame an upset stomach in the first half to rush for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including an 88-yarder on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.

Clearly, the game could have been a setup considering the Seahawks had the winning streak and were coming off a bye against one of the struggling teams in the NFC.

“This was a game you’re concerned about,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. “Arizona is a good team who doesn’t have the record it wants. It’s a setup after the bye, so I was very, very happy because the guys performed.”

Most importantly, the Cardinals had closed the gap to eight points in the fourth quarter and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck engineered the 12-play, 93-yard drive that ate up nearly seven minutes of the game clock. It was the fourth drive of the season of at least 91 yards and the sixth of at least 85 yards, and it continues to be a testimony to the veteran offensive line that seems to get better all the time.

“The communication they have – particularly the three inside guys – is great,” Hasselbeck said. “Teams can try all they want to trick us. We’ve got real veteran guys in there that just sort stuff out, and they make it easy on pass protection and the running game.”

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wizards Beat Magic 79-87

"It happened again," said Steve Francis, who scored 16 points. "When we really need a basket, we really kind of look discombobulated out there, to where we really don't know who to get shots from. It has to improve in order for us to win a game."

Dwight Howard added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic.

Arenas and Jamison scored 10 points in a 12-0 run late in the third quarter that put the Wizards ahead for good, and Washington held on in a sloppy but close fourth quarter in which the teams combined to make only nine field goals. The Wizards would have won with some ease if they hadn't missed 13 of 37 free throws.

"It's early in the season," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Probably the defense is ahead of the offense for most teams. You just have to take it as it comes."

Francis made it close when he hit a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining to pull the Magic to 81-79, but Orlando didn't score again. Francis missed two free throws with 56 seconds left, and the Wizards closed out the victory by going 4-for-6 from the line in the final minute.

The talents of Arenas and Howard kept the game watchable in an often ragged evening. Both had eye-popping, one-handed dunks in the first quarter, but the Wizards went more than five minutes without a field goal after Arenas' slam in the second quarter.

The Wizards then failed to score on their first six possessions of the second half. Francis and Howard hooked up for a nice alley-oop, and Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer put Orlando ahead by nine.

But the Magic did little after that. Jamison and Arenas had their run near the end of the third quarter, which included back-to-back 3-pointers, to put the Wizards ahead 65-61 going into the fourth. The Magic started 0-for-9 from the field in the final period.

"We struggled some offensively," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "We were a little hesitant against their zone defense. Obviously, you want to get that first win. You don't want to go too many without it."

Badgers Get Beat Up By Penn State 14-35

The Badgers (8-2, 5-2) fell back in the conference race after Penn State held tailback Brian Calhoun to 20 carries and 38 yards, well below his 135-yard average coming into the game. The Badgers also had the league's highest-scoring offense at 39.7 points coming into the contest.

"Obviously, we couldn't block them very well, you could see that," said Barry Alvarez, who is stepping down as Wisconsin coach after the season. "We couldn't establish the run and had a hard time with pressure off the edge."

Penn State sacked Badgers quarterback John Stocco nine times.

"When you're back there dropping in pass coverage looking every which way and you just see the quarterback get crushed, that's such a great feeling," said linebacker Dan Connor.

Calhoun did get a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Badgers, setting a school record with 22 for the year.

Brewers Sign Melvin to Extension


From Matthew Leach at MLB.com:

Barely a month after the team he assembled wrapped up its best season in 13 years, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was richly rewarded. The club announced a new three-year contract extension for Melvin on Saturday, locking up the veteran executive through the 2009 season.

The club did not divulge the financial terms of the new pact, but principal owner Mark Attanasio said in a conference call that Melvin's compensation is "at the upper end of the range" of general manager salaries.

And that would certainly seem to be deserved, as Melvin has helped build a promising organization in Milwaukee. Melvin took over the baseball side of the Brewers in September 2002, and has overseen a transition from a 106-loss season in 2002 to an 81-81 mark and a third-place finish in 2005.

"The way I look at it is that when I was out of a job in '02, the Brewers gave me that opportunity to come in and try to get them back on a winning path," Melvin said. "I felt that with the progress we've made, and coming off the year we did, and with the future we feel we have, it's good to get this extension so we can continue building this organization."

Melvin hired the very well-regarded Ned Yost as his manager, and has executed a string of successful moves, including trading for Carlos Lee, claiming Derrick Turnbow off waivers and acquiring a slew of significant contributors in exchange for Richie Sexson.

"Doug works in such a collaborative way," said Attanasio. "This is a guy who is understated, very confident in who he is. He has a very calm confidence, and because of that, he's able to work in a collaborative fashion and build an organization. And he's shown consistently throughout his career the ability to build an organization."

Magic Lose to Grizzlies 85-94

Steve Francis had 22 points for the Magic (0-2), who have lost both games at home, while Dwight Howard fought through foul trouble to score 16.

The Magic struggled to sustain any offense throughout the game. They had spurts of production in both halves, but each was short-lived.

"I didn't like our offensive execution at all," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I didn't expect us to come flying out of the gate to start the season, but I have faith in these guys. We've got to work harder and execute better at the offensive end."

Francis blamed the trouble on "over-thinking."

"Everybody is trying to be real precise and that's causing us too many mistakes," he said.

The Grizzlies took control in the middle of the fourth quarter after Orlando had closed within 72-70 on two free throws by Cato. Gasol hit consecutive jump shots and Jones made a 3 and Memphis gradually pulled away.

Neither team could sustain an offensive run in the first half that ended with Memphis in front 43-40.

The Magic hit seven of their first eight shots from the field, but struggled after that. Francis had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and was the only Orlando player in double figures at halftime.

Rhodes Hospitalized

From José Miguel Romero at the Seattle Times:

Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes was back in the hospital Friday after experiencing stroke-like symptoms Thursday night.

It's the second time in two months that Rhodes, 54, has had to be hospitalized for such a condition. Rhodes suffered what team doctors determined to be a mild stroke Sept. 4, a week before the Seahawks' regular-season opener at Jacksonville, and did not return to the coaching booth until Sept. 18, when Seattle hosted Atlanta.

Even then, coach Mike Holmgren didn't allow Rhodes on the field for practices leading up to the game. Rhodes was in a Kirkland hospital for two days after he had dizzy spells, numbness, temporary vision loss and a loss of equilibrium.
Holmgren said Rhodes' latest episode was not as serious as the first.

Holmgren spoke to Rhodes by phone before Friday afternoon's practice after Rhodes went to the hospital on his own. The plan was to keep Rhodes in the hospital overnight.

"He wished us well, but he won't be with us in Arizona," Holmgren said.

Seahawks Sign Pruitt to Active Roster

From Seahawks.com:

The Seattle Seahawks have signed safety Etric Pruitt to their 53-man roster from the practice squad, the team announced today.

Pruitt, who signed to Seattle's practice squad September 14, originally was selected in the sixth round (186th overall) by Atlanta in the 2004 NFL Draft.

He played in three games last season with one tackle and three special teams tackles.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Brewers to Name Yount as Bench Coach

From Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

On Oct. 21, 1982, the day after the Milwaukee Brewers lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, Robin Yount made a memorable entrance into County Stadium on a motorcycle, thrilling thousands who had gathered to honor the pennant-winning club.

Yount isn't likely to repeat that daring dash this morning at Miller Park, but his return to the baseball club is no less dramatic.

After several months of prodding, manager Ned Yost finally succeeded in talking Yount into joining his coaching staff. The first Brewers player inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, Yount is to be introduced at an 11:30 a.m. news conference at home plate as the club's bench coach.

Reached Thursday night via telephone, Yount said it wasn't his place to confirm the hiring.
"If the club hasn't said anything yet, I shouldn't say anything," Yount said. "We'll leave it at that. I've got to let the club do their thing."

Almost since the day Yount retired as a player in February 1994, the Brewers have tried to get him to return in some capacity. A father of four, Yount usually cited family priorities in Phoenix for turning down those overtures.

But Yount, 50, and wife Michele are to become empty-nesters in the spring, when their youngest child, Jenna, graduates from high school. That situation no doubt helped Yost in his continued attempts to get Yount back to Milwaukee.

Yount's son, Dustin, plays in Baltimore's farm system and is a friend of Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy's. And Yount remains close to longtime Brewers radio voice Bob Uecker, who spends part of his winters in the Phoenix area.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Magic Lose to Pacers 78-90

From Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel:

It was a hoops homecoming for Brian Hill.

The problem was, the NBA schedule-maker didn't provide a homecoming opponent for Hill and the Orlando Magic Wednesday.

This was a night that begged for a matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, but the Magic drew the Indiana Pacers instead and lost 90-78 at TD Waterhouse Centre.

Picked by some to reach the NBA Finals, the Pacers turned serious in the second half -- the way contenders do -- and fed off Magic miscues.

The game went pretty much as expected when one team is built for a title run and the other still requires some assembly.

The short-handed Magic also were playing without Grant Hill's offense and Keyon Dooling's defense but had hoped to ride an emotional wave of a new season and coach.

Providing encouragement was a sell-out crowd of 17,283 fans -- the first opening-night full house for the Magic since 1998.

With Dooling out with a foot injury and Hill recovering from hernia surgery at home, the Magic hung around until the Pacers broke away for good in the third quarter.

Indiana turned a one-point lead into an 11-point cushion at 68-57 in a crucial three-minute stretch. The Magic never got closer than six points after the Pacers' 10-0 run.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hamlin Done For Season; Hawks Sign Adibi to Practice Squad

From Danny O'Neil at the Seattle PI:

It could be months before doctors know a long-term prognosis for Seahawks safety Ken Hamlin.

His short-term status was decided Tuesday, though, when he was placed on the Seahawks' reserve/non-football injury list. The move means he cannot play again this season.

Hamlin suffered a fractured skull and cerebral bruising in an altercation outside a Seattle nightclub two weeks ago. He also suffered a broken bone in his right hand. He was released from the hospital within a week of the incident, and continues to recuperate at home.

"He seems to be feeling a lot better," said Lawrence Temple, Hamlin's agent.

The headaches Hamlin has suffered from have lessened in intensity. As for long-term conclusions on Hamlin's future, Temple said it will probably be months before there are any definitive answers.

"He wants to start to try getting ready to get back as quickly as possible," Temple said, "but the doctors, as you can imagine, are more cautious than he wants to be.

"But that's why you have doctors: To watch out for your interests."

Even before the roster move on Tuesday, there had been a general assumption that Hamlin was unlikely to return this season.

"No one has said for sure, absolutely, no way," Temple said of Hamlin returning this season. "It's more, 'Look, let's take the long-term view of it. We don't want to rush it.' "

Hamlin, a third-year safety, was a second-round draft choice from Arkansas. Last week's victory over Dallas was the first game he missed since coming to the team. Marquand Manuel started in his place.

The Seahawks have the option not to pay Hamlin his salary because it is a non-football injury, but the team has not indicated it has even considered withholding any of Hamlin's salary.
The move leaves the Seahawks with an opening on their 53-man roster.

They signed defensive end Nathaniel Adibi to their practice squad on Tuesday. He takes the place of offensive lineman Doug Nienhuis, who was signed off Seattle's practice squad to the Jets' active roster on Monday.