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Saturday, March 28, 2015

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Texas tells Rick Barnes to change his staff otherwise he will be fired

Rick Barnes

Texas is dissatisfied with the status of its men’s basketball program and sent a message to head coach Rick Barnes.

According to My San Antonio’s Mike Finger, athletic director Steve Patterson had two meetings with Barnes and told the coach to make changes to his staff otherwise he would be fired.

The Longhorns were a bubble team that made the tournament but lost in the first round this season. They have not advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 2008, which is unacceptable for the program.

Barnes is set to earn $2.5 million through 2019, but he can be bought out for $1.5 million after April.

Barnes has been with Texas since 1998 and has won a school record 402 games as Longhorns head coach. His best runs came over a decade ago when he reached the Elite Eight three straight seasons from 2002-2004, including a Final Four appearance. Future NBA players T.J. Ford and Royal Ivey starred on some of those teams, as did big man Brandon Mouton. Barnes also enjoyed success coaching stars like D.J. Augustin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kevin Durant at times during his Longhorns career.

Though Barnes is on the hot seat, there is little doubt that reshuffling his staff would buy him another year. He just needs to decide whether he is willing to let some of his assistants go, or if he’s going to go down with them.

Aaron Rodgers challenged Sam Dekker, who responded with career high

Aaron Rodgers Olivia Munn

Credit Aaron Rodgers with an assist in Wisconsin’s 79-72 win over North Carolina in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

The star of the game was Badgers junior forward Sam Dekker, who posted a career-high 23 points and added 10 rebounds in the victory. He also helped solidify the win by making a beautiful layup on a sweet low post move with just over a minute to play.

After the game, Dekker was interviewed by TBS’ Rachel Nichols and said that he was partially inspired by the Green Bay Packers quarterback, who is a fan of the Badgers’ basketball team.

“He was talking to me this morning, saying he wants a good show (against UNC),” Dekker said of Rodgers. “He’s been so supportive all year. He’s really behind our backs and reaching out to me if I’m playing well or not playing well and just staying behind me as a good friend. When you have the MVP of the NFL doing that for you, it’s pretty cool.”

Much like he did with the Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun, Rodgers has adopted the in-state Badgers as his college basketball team. Having his support certainly can’t hurt and, in this case, seems to help.

Photo via The Cauldron

Lions plan to run the ball much more next season

Matt StaffordThe Detroit Lions developed a reputation for being a passing team the past few seasons, but head coach Jim Caldwell says we should expect to see changes for the upcoming season.

Caldwell said at the NFL owners meetings Wednesday that he plans to have more balance on offense.

“When I tell you that we’re not going to throw the ball any more than we threw it (last year), that’s a fact,” Caldwell said via the Detroit Free Press. “We’re probably not going to throw it (more). If we do throw it more, that means we’re behind, we’re struggling, we’re not winning, we’re not a very good football team, plain and simple.”

The Lions threw the ball 604 times including fake punts, which placed them 11th in the league. Matthew Stafford threw the ball 125 times less last season than during his 2012 season when he set the record with 727 attempts. It’s quite understandable why Caldwell would want to achieve more balance in terms of playcalling and distribution among the targets.

Detroit has Joique Bell on the roster and Theo Riddick, but we expect them to draft a running back who will be a difference-maker.

H/T Rotoworld

Top QB recruit KJ Costello picks Stanford over USC, Michigan

KJ Costello

Stanford got a major boost for its football program on Thursday when top 2015 quarterback prospect KJ Costello committed to them.

Costello made the announcement at his school and also on Twitter:

Costello, who is finishing his junior year at Santa Margarita (same school as Carson Palmer) in Calif., chose the Cardinal over USC and Michigan. He is rated as a four-star prospect by 247 recruiting and is considered to be one of the top pocket passers in his graduating class.

Stanford recruiting analyst Andy Drukarev says Costello is one of the highest-rated players the Cardinal have received a commitment from in the past 15 years:

Photo: KJ Costello/Twitter

Russell Westbrook was very ‘confused’ by media after loss

Russell-Westbrook

Russell Westbrook enjoys dealing with the media about as much as Marshawn Lynch does, and the Oklahoma City Thunder star has not been shy about showing that this season. Not surprisingly, Westbrook was particularly salty after his team was blown out by the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

The Thunder gave up an eye-popping amount of points in the 130-91 loss, so naturally a reporter asked Westbrook if his team is having problems on defense. More specifically, Westbrook was asked if Oklahoma City’s defensive issues are “carrying over” from game to game.

“Uh, defensive issues carrying over… I’m confused,” he replied, per Royce Young of ESPN.com. “You didn’t say that when we won four games in a row. I’m just a little confused.”

A reporter then noted that the Thunder gave up 117 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Westbrook remained confused, or so he said.

“But you didn’t say that when we won, so I’m a little confused,” he said.

Westbrook was then hit with a follow-up question about whether it is OK to play poorly on defense if you win.

“You can play bad defense [and win], but you don’t mention it when we win,” he said. “But when we lose you want to mention it. I’m just a little confused.”

This was salty Russell at his finest, folks. The questions about Oklahoma City’s defense are more than legitimate, and of course they are a bigger concern when the Thunder lose by 40. They may have won four games in a row heading into Wednesday, but OKC has given up 115 or more points in five of its last six games. That could be trouble down the stretch.

As we found out last week when Westbrook was asked about the MVP race, he hates postgame interviews. We’re not surprised he’s even more of a dink following a loss.

Indians prank Jose Ramirez, park his car at shortstop

Jose-Ramirez-car-prank

Cleveland Indians shortstop Jose Ramirez should stop leaving his car keys in the hands of people he doesn’t trust. If not, he could find his BMW fielding a ground ball without a glove on.

On Thursday morning, the Indians decided to prank Ramirez by parking his car in his office, essentially.

Why would Ramirez’s teammates do that to him? Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian that the 22-year-old has an unpopular habit of parking his car wherever he pleases at the team training facility. We’re guessing that means he parks in spots that are usually reserved for veteran players and coaches. Here are some more entertaining nuggets:

Ramirez should consider that a warning. There are much worse things teammates can do to a player’s car. Don’t believe us? Just ask this NBA player about his rookie season a couple years back.

H/T Big League Stew

Former MLB player Curt Ford assaulted, told to ‘go back to Ferguson’

Curt-Ford

Former Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford was allegedly the victim of a race-related attack in St. Louis earlier this week.

On Thursday, Ford told Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is considering moving away from the St. Louis area after a man yelled racial slurs at him and punched him at a gas station.

“I’m going to let the authorities handle this situation, but I’ve had enough of St. Louis,” Ford said. “You hear about this kind of stuff happening, and I always knew it existed because of my previous experience working here in St. Louis, but you try to keep away from it and there is just no way you can do that unless you stay inside like a hermit.

“I just want justice. It’s all I want.”

While Ford did not go into much detail, a police source told the Post-Dispatch that a white man who has since been arrested, 37-year-old James Street, punched Ford in the face and told him to “go back to Ferguson.”

“I was sucker-punched, blindsided,” Ford said. “I was walking into the store and hit from my blind side.”

Ford, who played in the Major Leagues from 1985-1990, said the unprovoked attack began when he and Street approached the same gas pump. Ford backed up and parked near a different pump, but Street continued past the pump and parked in front of the store. When Ford was leaving the store after paying for his gas, he said Street began hurling insults at him before punching him in the face and driving away.

The incident was reportedly caught on surveillance cameras. Street was charged with one count of assault motivated by discrimination in the third degree, which is a felony. He has a criminal record that includes possession of drugs and assault.

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where incidents like this still take place.

H/T Hardball Talk

Nick Boynton suspended from radio job after allegedly biting casino security

Nick-Boynton

Former NHL defenseman Nick Boynton has been suspended from his job as a radio announcer for the Arizona Coyotes in the wake of a disturbing incident that took place at a casino early Thursday morning.

Boynton, who is in Buffalo for Arizona’s game against the Sabres on Thursday night, allegedly threw a fit after he was shut off at a Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino bar because he appeared heavily intoxicated. The Buffalo News reports that Boynton yelled at female employees and called them “vulgar names.”

“When a customer sitting on a chair in one of the game pits asked him to stop yelling and swearing, Boynton went over to the customer and shoved him off the chair onto the floor,” a police source told The Buffalo News. “I didn’t think someone could get so crazy on alcohol. He was cursing and shouting that he knew how to make money and the casino didn’t.”

Buffalo police officers who work inside the casino said Boynton resisted arrest and bit — that’s right, bit — the hand of one officer who was trying to subdue him. Boynton was taken to a nearby hospital after he told officers he is diabetic. His blood alcohol level reportedly registered 0.30, which is nearly four times the legal limit.

The 36-year-old was so intoxicated that police decided to wait until Thursday afternoon for him to be arraigned in Buffalo City Court. The Coyotes issued a statement after placing Boynton on a leave of absence.

“Early this morning, Coyotes radio color analyst Nick Boynton was involved in a situation at a Buffalo casino,” the statement read. “A police investigation is underway. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and until the continuing legal process is completed, we will have no further comment. Mr. Boynton has been placed on a leave of absence.”

Boynton played 11 seasons in the NHL for several different teams, including the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. We have heard some crazy stories from other athletes who caused problems inside casinos, but Boynton’s is up there with the best of them.

Dean Smith wills $200 to each of his former players

dean-smith

If you want to know a little bit about the type of person and coach Dean Smith was, look no further than his will and trust.

Smith, a legendary North Carolina basketball coach who passed away last month at age 83, has willed $200 to each of his former players. Those who played for Smith during his 36-year tenure as head coach of the Tar Heels are all receiving a check.

If you can’t make out the letter, here’s what it says:

Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his lettermen. Accordingly, coach decided that following his passing, each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” Enclosed is a check in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00) with the notation “Dinner out.”

Please enjoy your dinner out.

Goosebumps, anyone? Smith is one of the most respected coaches in the history of collegiate athletics. There’s a reason UNC took time during a game to pay tribute to him after his passing. For people like Michael Jordan, we know the money means nothing. The same cannot be said of the thought.

Aaron Hernandez once peed on taxi, flipped on Greg Bedard over it

Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez is not a very good person. Given all that we have heard about the former New England Patriots tight end in recent years, we feel confident saying that. Former Boston Globe writer Greg Bedard reinforced that opinion a bit more this week.

Bedard, now with Sports Illustrated, wrote about some of his experiences with Hernandez in his latest piece for The MMQB. One of those came at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis back in 2013, when Bedard says he ran into Hernandez at a bar. Bedard said Hernandez was friendly to him and his colleagues — until Bedard spotted the former Florida star peeing in public.

Bedard elaborated on the story a bit during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich Show” on Thursday morning.

“We were off by ourselves later on until all of a sudden I looked out at the front of the bar at some point and see Hernandez urinating on a running taxi cab,” he explained. “I go outside to Hernandez and told him to come inside where there is a bathroom. Hernandez didn’t move or say anything. I gently touched his elbow and Hernandez flew into a bit of rage. He got into my face and started swearing at me. I was like do what you want to do and went back inside. He came in later on and everything seemed to be fine between us.”

Apparently Hernandez yelled “I’m not a child! You’re not my dad!,” to which Bedard responded that he was acting like a child.

Interestingly enough, a report from 2013 after Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder indicated that he had been at the Combine that year to confide in Bill Belichick that he feared for his life.

I guess you could say a lot has happened since then. Whether it’s Hernandez’s DNA being found near a murder victim, the destroying of potential evidence, jokes about Deflategate in court, maids discovering a bunch of guns and now stories about Hernandez peeing on cabs, nothing can surprise us at this point.

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